Friday, February 25, 2005


Sophistry, n. The controversial method of an opponent, distinguished from one's own by superior insincerity and fooling

Here's actually an interesting meme, listing authors whom I've read ten or more books by.

  1. Isaac Asimov
  2. Arthur C. Clarke
  3. Frank Herbert
  4. Harry Turtledove
  5. Jerry Pournelle
  6. Tom Clancy
  7. Robert Heinlein
  8. Dr. Seuss

Funny I can't think of more off the top of my head. I have a huge library and appetite for reading, but about the most I can come up with for any given author other than those listed is about six or seven books, usually averaging four to six per author. William Gibson, Stephen King, Larry Bond, Larry Niven, Alastair Reynolds, J.R.R. Tolkein and Brian Herbert all fall into this bucket; I was semi-tempted to include Brian Herbert's books under his father's entry above, but a quick check of the library showed that I had forgotten about non-Dune books like "Farnham's Freehold" and "Dosadi Experiment", which brought me up over ten books for Frank alone. I've got seven Frederick Forsyth books under my belt, about the same for Robert Silverberg. Sad to say I've only got one complete Neal Stephenson read, that being the phenomenal "Cryptonomicon", and I'm only about 100 pages into "Quicksilver". I rather like Stephenson's style, but I just have to find some quiet time late for a few evenings to knock the book off. Based on what I've read I can't wait for the next two books in the trilogy.

And now, for something completely different, I'll repost an observation I put up on Blogcritics yesterday:

A news item on CNET yesterday brings us the intriguing news that Claria Corporation has been named by the Department of Homeland Security to a federal privacy advisory board. The board's membership includes representatives from firms such as IBM, Intel and Oracle, however, Claria's inclusion is either puzzling or very telling. You see, Claria used to be known as Gator, and is known for its adware, which as I defined in a previous post is software that delivers random ads to your desktop system occasionally targeted on the basis of what you're looking for or at. Adware of course is rarely intentionally installed, usually it's bundled with some other software which provides some functionality the end user desires (e.g. P2P clients) and it's often installed by other adware or malware that makes its way onto unprotected computers. The average end-user would probably classify Claria's products as spyware, which of course gets into the semantic issues I talked about here, and I would suppose a case could be made that it indeed is intrusive on privacy to the point where if you search for "Ford" and an ad for GM pops up, then the classification may be somewhat applicable (although if it's not sending information to a remote system for collection it's not in the strictest sense spyware). Claria's products have been documented as being targeted and designed to appear at competing sites, which has resulted in litigation in the past.

The interesting question is what value does an outfit like Claria bring to the table in this context? Is it data mining expertise? If so, does that indeed take them from the adware to the spyware classification. Is it expertise in stealthily installing persistent code? Is it deep knowledge of system internals that our friends in Redmond don't care to share?

In other news, Michael Jackson was named a senior adviser to Child Protective Services, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Phil Spector have been named as spokespersons against abused women, and <insert Ted Kennedy / Chappaquiddick joke here>.....

I must admit that it feels slightly weird to put my own words into blockquotes....

Finally, let's recognize the 62nd birthday of an absent friend, none other than Hari Georgeson.


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