Archive for the ‘rant’ Category

Tapuz are advertising Ilan’s using spam E-mail

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Today I received spam E-mail from editor@tapuz.co.il (http://www.tapuz.co.il/ is an established Hebrew language Web portal).

The spam is advertising a coffeehouse called Ilan’s House of Coffee (אילן’ס - בית של קפה).

If you, too, got this spam: both Tapuz and Ilan’s have publicly available E-mail addresses, which can be used for complaints.

Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

During the last few days, I have been alarmed by the news that the families of the soldiers abducted by Hezbollah and Hamas are suing the government in the Supreme Court in an attempt to force it to weaken itself in its negotiation tactics with Hezbollah and Hamas.

My concern is that those families are not taking the long range view.

The way they are pursuing now has the consequence of weakening the Israeli ability to deter its opponents. Thus, few months or years from now, Hezbollah and/or Hamas will abduct 5 soldiers. Then the families of those newly-abducted soldiers will be furious at the Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev families for preventing the government from adopting the hard-line stance, which would have deterred our enemies from ever kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Contrary to popular opinion, this is not a personal Olmert issue. Any Prime Minister, faced with the same situation, would have to adopt a similar course of action.

Is Nokia E90 an upgrade for Nokia 9210i users?

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Yesterday I met Erez and he demonstrated to me his new Nokia E90.
I am a Nokia 9210i user, and it still serves me well, after several years.
The Nokia E90 is good looking. It features a full keyboard - very useful for writing SMS messages. It has a built in camera, so I would not need to carry with me also a digital camera. It is capable of storing hundreds of MB of digital data. There is even a barcode reading and decoding application!

HOWEVER:

  • It does not have a FAX application, which Nokia 9210i has and which I consider to be essential, even though nowadays I do not use it frequently.
  • In the SMS application, it is very awkward to enter textual data, which mixes Hebrew and Latin letters.
    • Switching between those two keyboards is a 3-key operation rather than a single-key operation, as in Nokia 9210i (or 2 keys pressed simultaneously in personal computers).
    • If you press the Shift key while you are in Hebrew keyboard mode, you still get Hebrew letter - rather than uppercase Latin letter, as in all personal computer keyboards and in Nokia 9210i.

Conclusion: I’ll pass on it, and wait for the next model with similar features.

A new software developers’ mutual help Web site (no longer) rudely excludes deaf software developers

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

The newly announced http://www.stackoverflow.com/ Web site confines all communications to the audio format. No provision for textual transcription of the audio podcasts exists. Users’ submissions are accepted only if they are in audio format. This is probably the founders’ newest idea for filtering out spam and flames.
However, it is a case of rude inaccessibility. Please do not contribute and do not browse the Web site - and let the founders know your opinion about this case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
The announcements in the founders’ blogs are as follows:

What next, a Web site, which excludes gay software developers?

23 APR 2008 UPDATE:

The podcasts are now transcribed into text, making them accessible to the deaf as well as being helpful to people, who want to discover them using search engines, and people having no time to listen through the entire podcast.
The transcription mechanism is Wiki-based, allowing people to transcribe text piece by piece. So even if you have only 15 minutes to spare, you can still make a contribution.
It is still necessary to persuade them to accept questions as text in addition to sound clips…

The Earth Hour and the Deaf

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I am not going to participate in the Earth Hour, which is due to be held tonight in Tel Aviv between 20:00-21:00.
This is in spite of my support for the idea of taking care of our environment.
The reason - due to my deafness, I need light and various electronic appliances to communicate with other people.
Note: I do not live in Tel Aviv itself, but I’d participate in the project if it were not for the accessibility issue.

Additional links:

    A P2P Web site was blocked in Israel with practically no publicity

    Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

    The httpshare.com P2P Web site was blocked by the three largest Israeli ISPs, yet this fact received no publicity in Israel and I found out about this only from Slashdot.
    More details - in: IFPI gets Israeli ISPs to block Hebrew peer-to-peer site.
    I found that technically, the blocking was accomplished by directing httpshare.com to 127.0.0.1.
    My biggest shock is from the lack of publicity this blockage received inside Israel - none of the Internet news Web sites and no blogs, which I follow, mentioned this.

    Google AdSense and Paypal - HTML Validation Pet Peeve

    Saturday, December 29th, 2007

    I have a policy of trying to have the pages in my Web site validated to the highest possible standards - XHTML, or at least HTML 4.01 Transitional.

    (The standard tool, which I use for this purpose is the W3C Markup Validation Service at http://validator.w3.org/.)

    However, my efforts are hampered by the Google AdSense markup, which I use to display Google AdSense advertisements. Their customer service was, OF COURSE, unhelpful in providing me an XHTML-compliant version of the Google AdSense markup code, although they did provide me with instructions how to make it HTML 4.01 Transitional compliant.

    Today I found that also the Paypal markup code, which implements the button for donations, is far from being XHTML-compliant.

    I realize that there are incompatibilities between the various HTML standards, which prevent the same version of generated markup from complying with all of them. However, it’s high time that all those services provide us with an option to choose the desired compliance level for the markup, which they generate for us to insert into our Web pages.

    Computerized Elections in Israel

    Friday, September 7th, 2007

    Background Information

    The Israeli Ministry of Interior is planning to computerize the process of elections in Israel, using electronic voting machines. They are planning to start by running a pilot in ten settlements during the upcoming Nov. 27, 2007 council elections.
    Sources:

    This is a Bad Idea

    The following reasons are given for the move to computerized elections:

    1. Reduction and even elimination of rigging votes and multiple voting.
    2. Election results availability few minutes after end of elections.
    3. Budgetary savings.
    4. Ability to vote from anywhere without special procedures.

    Unfortunately, the first three reasons are either untrue or are insufficient justification for switching to computerized elections.

    1. The worldwide experience with election machines is that they are not secure, not well-designed, violate anonymity of votes, and facilitate rigging of votes even more than paper based ballots.
      Sources:

    2. Election results are not available if the voting machines develop technical problems, as they did in several elections in the world. A more fundamental point is that the integrity of the election process is worth the wait until the next morning. Confronted by the choice between rigged elections with speedy results and clean elections with results available only after 10 hours or so, every sane citizen would choose the second alternative without thinking twice.
    3. Any budgetary savings from using election machines are wiped by bad policies adopted by corrupt politicians, who got elected to office thanks to corrupt elections process. This is one place where one could be penny wise and Pound foolish (or one million wise and ten billion foolish).
    4. The fourth goal of computerized elections can be accomplished by alternative means - for example, by using computers only to verify that a voter did not already vote elsewhere. Paper ballots can still be used for the actual votes.

    See also:

    It is to be noted that the talkbacks to the news items about the Israeli Ministry of Interior plans demonstrate that Israelis are clueful about the dangers of electronic elections.

    What Can be Done About This?

    • Find which voting machines will be used in the pilot and publicize audit results and cracking tips available from other countries where they were already used.
    • Refuse to vote in the voting machines during the pilot.
    • In the pilot, the results from the electronic voting machines will not have official use, so it may not be unlawful to actually crack into them. DISCLAIMER: IANAL. CONSULT WITH YOUR LAWYER BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SUGGESTION.

    Abysmal Quality of Breathanalyzers Software

    Thursday, September 6th, 2007

    In Israel, if you drive a car and a policeman asks you to submit yourself to test by breathanalyzer to determine whether you are drunk or not, you must submit to test. Otherwise, you will be deemed to have driven under influence.

    What if the instrument wrongly determines that you have blood concentration of ethanol above the legal limit?

    At least one breathanalyzer used in USA was proven to have criminally unreliable software. For example, “the software takes an airflow measurement at power-up, and presumes this value is the “zero line” or baseline measurement for subsequent calculations. No quality check or reasonableness test is done on this measurement.”

    Based upon past experience with car speed measurement radar guns in Israel, I am skeptical whether Israeli courts would accept such information as defense by people wrongly accused of drunk driving.

    Software-driven instruments used for medical diagnosis are subjected to stringent quality requirements and strict regulations (see, for example, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Premarket Notification 510(k)) before the manufacturer is allowed to sell the instrument. Currently, no similar legal framework exists for regulating instruments used for law enforcement.

    Freedom of expression for primary and high school teachers

    Thursday, August 16th, 2007

    I was prompted to write this by a request, which I received today.

    Some background information: large part of the contents of my DEAF-INFO Web site is material, which was posted to the DEAF-L mailing list by various subscribers over the years. When the mailing list was active, I saved the best posts and put them in the Web site, with attribution to the original contributor.

    The request, which I received today, was to remove the attributions to a particular contributor.

    In the past I received similar requests. Upon further questioning, it turned out that most of those requests were made by people, who expressed their strong opinions about various deafness related issues, while they were students. Few years later, they were to get jobs as teachers in schools of the deaf. Then they were concerned that they’ll get into trouble because of the opinions, which they expressed in the past.

    I asked someone, who teaches in a regular primary school, about this. She explained to me that teachers are forbidden to publicly express their opinions. The teachers are usually state or county employees. The only people authorized to publicize opinions are the employer’s public relations specialists.

    I believe that this state of affairs is rather unfortunate. Teachers work “in the trenches” - they deal with pupils with learning disabilities, they deal with non-working educational methodologies, they deal with poorly-designed materials. They should be able to criticize non-working methods of instruction. If their school principal does not improve the methods, the teachers should be free to publicize their criticism. This would allow parents to ultimately have a say in improving the quality of instruction their children receive.

    This is important especially in the area of deaf education, which is especially rife with conflict among different goals (integration vs. separate identity), philosophies (oral vs. Sign Language) and a bewildering choice of communication methods.