Why disk-encryption is not only useful for paranoid computer geeks

According to this (German) article, thieves have stolen a hard drive from the recording studio of the quite popular German band Rosenstolz.

Among the contents of the drive are unreleased songs from the past six years and two songs which should be released on a new single in a few weeks. Apparently those two songs on the drive were the only instance they had, off-site backups only contained older "beta" versions of the songs. As the band is touring at the moment (i.e. no time for re-recording the songs), it's unclear whether the single can be released in time.

Lessons learned:

  • Backups, backups, backups!
  • Disk-encryption is not only for paranoid computer geeks, but also for normal people like you and me[1]. Really! If that hard drive would have been encrypted they would still suffer because of the lack of good backups, but at least their unreleased songs wouldn't have fallen in the hands of the thieves. I bet those songs will soon appear in P2P networks around the globe[2].

(via Fefe)

[1] Well, I am a paranoid computer geek, and I'm probably not a normal person, but you get the point ;-)
[2] Oh, and if the thieves are stupid enough they will get caught while uploading the files ;-)

Unintended Consequences: Seven Years under the DMCA

The EFF has published a paper called "Unintended Consequences: Seven Years under the DMCA". It contains a huge list of things which went wrong since the DMCA was introduced.

The conclusion:

Years of experience with the "anti-circumvention" provisions of the DMCA demonstrate that the statute reaches too far, chilling a wide variety of legitimate activities in ways Congress did not intend. As an increasing number of copyright works are wrapped in technological protection measures, it is likely that the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions will be applied in further unforeseen contexts, hindering the legitimate activities of innovators, researchers, the press, and the public at large.

(via Symlink)

Invoke 9/11

I stumbled over this video (5.2 MB) today, while watching videoblogs in democracyplayer (for which I'm preparing a Debian package at this very moment).

The video seems to be a bit older, and I have no idea who the original author is or what license applies to it. Anyways, it's funny, scary and very very true at the same time. Watch it.


Help prevent software patents! Again!

Speak up on Software Patents

Oh great, the software patent debate is back.

After a long and disgusting campaign where pro-software-patents lobbyists employed all kinds of semi-legal and undemocratic filthy tricks in order to introduce software patents in the EU behind our backs, the European Parliament decided by a large majority to reject the directive "on the patentability of computer implemented inventions" (a.k.a. software patents) in July 2005. Rightly so.

It is beyond my imagination how a certain pro-software-patents commissioner (Charlie McCreevy) dares to restart the whole debate after such a clear defeat.

Consultation and "public hearing"

He has organized a "Consultation and public hearing on future patent policy in Europe" which pretends to collect your views on the software patent issue (which he's trying to introduce through the "Community Patent" backdoor).

Alas, the "questionnaire" is inaccessible (it's only available in 5 languages, instead of all 25 (+2) languages of the EU member states), biased towards software patents, very obfuscated and unreadable for the general public. There's no independent working group which conducts or oversees the consultation, no independent studies and reading materials, no mentions of the negative implications of software patents, no public debate, nothing. Now, who would have expected that?

The FSF Europe has published a response to the Patent Consultation Questionnaire, which highlights many of the problems.

Similarly, the FFII has questioned the validity of the consultation procedure, and gives a very detailed explanation of all the serious flaws of the process.

What can I do?

  • First things first: the DEADLINE for answering the questionnaire and expressing your views is April 12, 2006!
  • Answer the questionnaire! The FFII has prepared a short How to answer guide which you can use as a basis for your answer (per email, snail mail, or fax).
  • Raise your concerns about the validity of the consultation process!
  • Write your MEPs! Tell them what you think.
  • Spread the word! I'm under the impression most people don't even know about this issue, yet!
  • Put up banners. I know you all like pretty banners ;-)

Software patents suck (in case you didn't already know)

Let me quote Donald Knuth on this:

I strongly believe that the recent trend in patenting algorithms is of benefit only to a very small number of attorneys and inventors, while it is seriously harmful to the vast majority of people who want to do useful things with computers.

(via MJ Ray)

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