Category Archives: The Politics of Technology

The Markup Formerly Known As HTML5

Apparently, a week or so ago, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium – the group that standardizes tech to use on the web) started a web campaign for HTML5. People have been talking about HTML5 and the cool stuff it does so, why not make T-shirts and stickers? My only question is where are the coffee mugs?? With this new campaign, the W3C also posted some code that allows you to put a “my web site supports HTML5 fo’ shiz'” graphic on your site. While hyping up HTML5 and all of the cool things it does is great, the problem is that IT’S NOT READY YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Taking a deep breath…

Some days later, the splinter other group who is also working on HTML5, the WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) announced through the person responsible for writing the HTML5 specification, Ian Hickson, that the 5 will be dropped and the whole shebang will simply be known as HTML. Wow, nice timing…

I don’t know if this was done on purpose or if WHATWG just has really bad timing. But, if they had decided on changing the name over a year ago then someone should have let the people at the W3C know. Or, maybe they did know and they tried to force the WHATWG’s hand by starting this marketing campaign.

Either way, I do know one thing and that this DOES NOT HELP the advancement of HTML5/HTML/The Markup Formerly Known As HTML5. Stop jacking around and get your asses in gear. You’ve only got a large video codec war brewing – for starters.

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Google Street View Cars In The Crosshairs… Again

File under: Check to make sure you actually didn’t do it, before saying that you didn’t do it.

While, in my opinion, the bitching and moaning about Google and it’s Street View project has been tiresome, it’s hard to overlook some things. In this case, questions were raised by the German government concerning Google ‘s WiFi data collecting while it’s Street View cars are driving around, taking pictures of everything. Apparently, at one point in Germany, Google collected information about WiFi networks they were not supposed to collect.

Google, red faced, blamed this on some code an engineer wrote for a WiFi experiment. If that’s true, so be it. Delete the collected information and the code and move along. But make sure that the data collection DID NOT happen before you write blog postings saying that you don’t engage in those kinds of practices. It’s annoying having to sift through all of the tinfoil hat comments…


Hide Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Uzbekistan!

How do you create negativity and show that your country is backward? You arrest a photojournalist for taking pictures of your culture and then attempt to rationalize it.

Authorities in Uzbekistan charged Umida Ahkmedova in December for “insulting and slandering the Uzbek nation”. She published a series of photographs for gender and human rights related projects. The sentence carries a punishment of at least 6 months in prison or 2-3 years hard labor.

The BBC has some of the pictures up on their site here.

In my opinion, I’m glad people like her take photographs like that so I can see how other people live in other parts of the world. I see no shame and I don’t think any less of the Uzbek people after seeing these photos. But I do think less of their government now.


Bono… Crusader For Lost Profits!

Anyone remember the U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday? Apparently Bono doesn’t and it shows after writing a piece in the New York Times telling the Movie industry not to make the same mistakes the Recording industry made by not cracking down on file-swappers harder.

We know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content…

Eh? So you are all for someone to sit around, with prying eyes to constantly watch us and your precious content to make sure that it’s all legit? Wow. It sounds like someone needs to experience The Troubles again.


THEY TOOK OUR JOBS!!! DERKA DERRRRR!!!

So is the battle cry of those who feel “wronged” by the presence of immigrants in their country. The recent mall shooting in Espoo on New Year’s Eve has highlighted that Finland has more in common with America than anyone can actually imagine.

The case

A 43-year old Kosovo Albanian by the name of Ibrahim Shkupolli, killed his ex-girlfriend, traveled to Espoo’s Sella mall and then shot and killed 4 people inside the Prisma superstore. His ex-girlfriend has a restraining order against him. Police are speculating that the shootings in the mall were not random (no wounded, no injured by-standers) and that each person was targeted because of the woman. Shkupolli went back to his apartment and killed himself after the shootings in the mall.

The rise of the Facebook Group

So the other day, my wife pointed out the Finnish Facebook group to me, YKSI rikos ja matkalippu kotimaahan !!! (One crime and a ticket back home). This group believes that Finland has enough trouble with it’s own population and that Foreigners need not bother to act a fool here.

To date, the Facebook Group Cause has taken the place of the online petition. The online petition was practically useless and no one cared enough to pay attention. The Facebook Group Cause would probably have just as much meaning if it were not for Google (index and it’s new real-time indexing feature), RSS, Twitter and other Web 2.0 features that allows people to consume information almost instantaneously. Unfortunately, this has also led to the rise of impatience when it comes to fact-finding.

Judgmental and bigoted go hand-in-hand?

In America, people have increasingly become more quick to judge based in little to no fact and the opinions of pundits and talking heads. Thanks to the 24-hour cable news network and the real-time dissemination of information. Now, it seems that Finns are becoming more like their American counterparts.

While groups like this “one crime” group are started with the best of intentions. There are many people who have more extreme views who will latch onto groups like this. Eventually, it will lead the population to believe that the group is anti-immigrant, racist, bigoted and 100% ignorant of the facts (Perussuomalaiset/True Finns anyone?).

If someone needs an example of what could happen to groups like this, you need not look any further than to the Tea Party groups in America. There whole cause was to protest the government’s free-for-all bailing out of Financial industry. Now the whole movement is poisoned by bigots, racists, right-wing fringe elements and ignorant idiots who wouldn’t know what was going on outside their own home if someone held a loaded gun to their head (no pun intended). Oh and don’t forget, the Fox News Entertainment Channel.

While I also opposed the Obama Administration’s handing out piles of cash [to the people who have created the current global economic condition] I cannot fathom supporting the Tea Party movement as morally bankrupt as it has become.

Meanwhile in Finland…

While this Facebook Group might be well-intended, the immigrant issue is used as an excuse to ignore the larger issue at hand. This is that Finland’s criminal justice system is a joke. “Life sentences” are slaps in the wrist in comparison to sentences handed out in the States. Even though Finland does not have a maximum length of time for a Life Sentence, usually the sentence is not any longer than 15 years. Also, local Police Departments do not have the resources or manpower to go after criminals.

A perfect example as to why this system is flawed is Juha Valjakkala, who is now knows as Nikita Fouganthine. Fouganthine was convicted on 3 counts of murder in Sweden and sentenced to life in prison. After some time, he was transferred to Finland to server the “remainder” of his sentence. During his prison term he was allowed to go on furlough from prison (one furlough was unsupervised). Which leads to problem number one: Why are prisoners – especially violent triple murderers – in Finland allowed to take a break from their prison sentences?

During his 19 some years in prison, Fouganthine attempted to escape from jail 5 times. if he was punished because of his escape attempts, you wouldn’t know it. Fouganthine was paroled (from prison in early 2008. Killing 3 people and you only serve 19 years with vacations! It’s not much of an incentive to keep people from freely murdering each other. A couple of months after his release, he was convicted of violating the terms of his parole and served most of 2008 behind bars until the Finnish Supreme Court suspended his sentence. When Fouganthine was sentenced for the killings in Sweden, he had already been convicted 11 times for other crimes.

Do you remember Pekka-Eric Auvinen and Matti Juhani Saari? Auvinen was the author of the massacre at Jokela High School. He killed 8 people and wounded 12 others in 2007. Saari was the author of the massacre at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. he killed 10 people and wounded 1 person in 2008.

As an immigrant

As I said previously, using the immigrant issue to ignore the larger issue at hand is really what is troubling Finland today – the criminal justice system. Immigrant crime is small in comparison to crimes committed by Finns. It has gone up in recent years (helped by a growing immigrant population). However, crimes caused by immigrants will never exceed the crimes cause by immigrants. It’s pretty obvious as to why – the population of Finns far exceeds immigrants!

The Facebook Group name simple spotlights immigrant crime while completely ignoring Finnish crime rates. Oh sure, the creator mentions that there are a host of problems and she also calls out Finns. However, you cannot simply ignore the name of the group. Currently, there are 8,000+ members for this group. I wonder just how many of these members knows what it’s like to be an immigrant? I’m willing to bet that it’s very few of them.

When an immigrant in Finland commits a crime that makes headlines, it affects the rest of us immigrants. I was reading some of the comments on Finlandforthought.net about this subject. A couple commentators attempted to argue that they should not be lumped into the same category as a murder. Fair enough, you have the right to feel this way. However, in reality this is not the case. A crime committed by a foreigner in Finland is a crime committed by all foreigners at the same time! It also works this way in the States. While it’s usually a person in the minority who actually subscribes to this line of thinking, just like in the States, the vocal minority has a big influence on public opinion.

When some people ask me what nationality I am, they are relieved to find out that I am an American. Should this make me feel better? Well, it doesn’t. It makes me feel worse. I have a child on the way who will be half American and half Finnish. If things keep up the way they are now, what is my child’s future going to be like? I used to think that when it comes to matters in Finland, I would let the Finns worry about Finland. I can’t afford do that anymore. Finland is my home too.

In conclusion

Shkupolli abused his privilege to reside here in Finland and he needed to be deported a while ago; and he would have been if the Finnish criminal justice system was actually tough on crime. However, a “one crime” fits all approach is really not the answer. I cringe at the thought of someone being deported for getting caught smoking a joint. If this is the approach to take, why not expand it? How about a mandatory 5 year sentence (with no bullshit vacations) for any crime committed by anybody?

Change doesn’t come by bandwagon, it starts at home and in the system. Let’s start focusing on the real issues.


The EU/Microsoft Browser Ballot Saga: The Final Chapter

Yesterday marks the day that the EU/Microsoft Antitrust probe came to end as the European Commission approved Microsoft’s Browser Ballot plan. In this plan, users of Windows XP, Vista and 7 in the European Economic Area will receive a choice through Windows Update as to which browser they would like to install. According to Tom’s, the browsers are: Opera, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, AOL, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir, Slim Browser and Internet Explorer.

The agreement will remain in place for at least five years and the EC will make a review after two years. If Microsoft violates the agreement, they will be fine up to 10% of it’s annual income. However, the EC does not have to prove that Microsoft has violated antitrust rules in order to fine Microsoft.

Say what??? It’s bad enough that the EC has wasted EU taxpayer money and time with this witch hunt but now the EC can gank money from Microsoft by simply saying, “Hey, you are not doing what you agreed on. We got this email from the people at Opera saying so!” What a load. To be frank, Microsoft should have packed up business, flipped the EU the bird and said, “Good luck with Ubuntu, assholes!”

Ugh! I will end this post by linking you to my previous post on this subject. My opinion on this subject is documented there.


The EU/Microsoft Browser Ballot Saga Continues

File under: “I cannot believe this crap is still going on.”

In another chapter in the ongoing antitrust-settlement saga between MS and the EU, MS has decided to revise it’s browser ballot system after complaints from Opera, Mozilla and Google. Apparently the browser ballot list (which for some reason was not in the version of Windows 7 that I bought) was in alphabetical order which put Apple’s Safari first on the list. Microsoft has changed the list so that the browsers are randomly placed.

Some thoughts

Am I the only one who is tired of this bs? Is there really nothing more important for the EU to concentrate on so that they can worry about what Microsoft puts in its operating systems? The last I heard, the EU has problems with how to deal with Muslims within the EU, Russia and energy issues.  What about the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Constitution? Or is this to distract us from the fact that there are far too many EU MPs and out of those MPs, there are those who have taken far too many liberties with their pay and allowance paid to them by taxpayers in the EU?

There are several points here:

  • Microsoft Windows is made and owned by Microsoft. I fail to understand why anyone has the right to tell MS what they should or should not put into their operating systems. How come no one has gone after Apple yet over the inclusion of Safari? Anyone notice how quiet Apple is in this latest chapter?
  • Thanks to Internet Explorer being included in Windows we have a CHOICE to download any other browser we wish to use. Does Internet Explorer automatically blacklist websites of the major browser competitors? No. Once again we are free TO CHOOSE and download whatever browser we like thanks to the inclusion of Internet Explorer.

I think the second point is the most important. Internet Explorer did a lot of good for the competing browsers. It did more than competitors care to admit and the numbers speak for themselves. The use of alternatives to Internet Explorer has been on the rise for years now. As I pointed out here, Internet Explorer has been losing its share of users and it is going to continue to lose users. Internet Explorer is a sub-par product compared to the other browsers. A poster child for what not to do with a web browser. Firefox blazed the popularity trail with tabbed browsing, add-ons, themes, standards compliance and security. It was because of these features, ordinary users began realizing that they had a choice. People in Europe made their choice well before EU bureaucrats thought they should get involved.

Competition and innovation were not stifled, they were enhanced greatly thanks to the inclusion of Internet Explorer. Still need examples? Gecko and Apple’s Webkit are only a couple.

Enough is enough. There is far more important shit to worry about.