What does ''Spam'' stand for?
May 29, 2003

I can't believe the number of searches for "What does spam stand for" I'm getting to my Spam Filtering's Last Stand piece. Hopefully this entry will override that one once this is indexed.

Apparently Google has nominated me to answer this question, so: "Spam" doesn't stand for anything. It's not an acronym. SPAMTM is the name of a meat product by Hormel. Spam came to mean "junk email" by analogy to a Monty Python's Flying Circus skit, wherein a restaurant's good food is drowned out by the spam, much like good content is drowned by spam on the Internet.

The meat product is tolerably good for the price. Internet spam is a public menance. Hormel has been quite good spirited about the whole thing and asks that you not confuse the two, but that you do distinguish between SPAM (all-caps) the meat product and spam (lowercase) the Internet scourge.

Chapters 1 & 2 of ''The Ethics of Modern Communication''

iRights was formed in January 2000 to track legal issues on the Internet. I was interested in these issues after spending the previous year in Third Voice anti-advocacy, and after studying the relevant law on censorship and such, I realized that nobody really knew how legal Third Voice was. Not only that, but there wasn't even a legal theory adequate to describe the situation as it truly was. A lot of metaphors were tossed about, but they all failed to capture vital aspects of the situation, even the metaphors I made.

Read the rest (694 words)

Voter Verification Newsletter -- Vol 1, Number 1
May 08, 2003
This is the first of what I hope will be semi-regular newsletters on the struggle to ensure that voting equipment produces a "voter verifiable audit trail".... I am convinced that any solution to the voting machine problem is going to require major and sustained grass roots pressure.

Magical thinking about computers strikes again, and this time may adversely affect our entire government system. This issue is far, far more important then it seems, and it's an uphill battle just to get people to understand that. Warning: The newsletter is a depressing read.

I'm done
Apr 30, 2003

As of yesterday at about 1:10 p.m. EST, I am officially done with school. I have completed the program for a Masters degree in computer science at Michigan State University, and all that remains is a bit o' graduation ceremony (though I'm not going to the big one), and getting the diploma in the mail.

(This explains the light, even for me, posting; been busy.)

My current workplace is picking me up for a few months, then I hope to directly sell a software program I am currently working on to the public, which you'll hear some more about as I have more substantial information to show.

The ironic thing is that a small but significant part of the reason I went into grad school was to avoid the bubble pop. I started grad school in January 2001, and while I've seen the "official" bubble pop date set in any number of times, IIRC that was the month of the first major stock market drop resulting from tech devaluation. I knew people who got their job offers retracted that semester. I figured it was coming and the only thing that surprised me when it popped a couple of weeks into my first semester was how accurate my guess had been.

I never dreamed the economy would still be in the doldrums and if anything, worse then that month when I got out, two and a half years later. The tech depression is so severe that I couldn't even get an interview, heck, I couldn't even get anything past an automated e-mail acknolegement, sometimes not even that.

Post-graduation is not as exciting as I had thought it would be, where I'd have some sort of decently interesting job lined up, probably moving to a new state because Michigan doesn't have many tech jobs, and finally being able to afford, say, health insurance. Instead I'm staying in the same place, taking a job I know won't be there in a few months, and seriously looking at going into business for myself because nobody would hire me, which is probably one of the more unorthodox reasons to do that, to say the least.

On the other hand, the idea has a certain appeal and now that I've thought of it I'm kinda excited about it. An unusual aspect of my years in University is that I was effectively employeed in a real job the whole time. I don't just have a degree, I have several years experience in rolling out mission-critical applications and such. I've gone from being needed to be prodded to check my code for errors to getting frustrated that my workplace fails the Joel Test on a number of counts. (Note to my current co-workers: I mean "workplace" in general; This job is quite high, scoring around a 6 by my count, and that's the best I've worked under.) The idea of being my own boss, of being able to design things without externally imposed constraints, appeals to me.

Interesting times, I suppose. Wish me luck.

Principles in Conflict
Apr 29, 2003

I've ended my boycott on Amazon.com due to the news that Bezos is using his fortune to get into the private space industry.

I'm still not willing to use them preferentially, but you can't be a one-issue consumer, right? I guess I'm willing to let those two things cancel.

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