Category Archives: Tek+Mek+Bleep

Robots, machines, shiny AI biznizz

Yahoo attempts to keep its snitching secret!

Spotted this on Saoirse32, an Irish republican* website:

Those of you who host or visit republican groups on Yahoo might want to read a leaked copy of Yahoo’s law enforcement compliance guidelines found currently on The level to which Yahoo is willingly ready to turn over any and all information concerning personal information, group moderator info, files uploaded, friends lists etc is a bit chilling, and it does not appear that it takes much of a request for them to do so.

The offending PDF is still available on the Cryptome website, as are copies of the correspondence into the matter between Yahoo and Cryptome. The matter does not yet seemed to have surfaced on Wikileaks, but all in good time, I’m sure.

Yahoo seems not to like the idea of its service users finding out exactly how unprivate their private messages are, something outlined on page six of the document:

This compliance guide is designed to assist law enforcement in understanding Yahoo!’s policies and practices with regard to retention and disclosure of electronic information and to provide answers to frequently asked questions related to subpoenas and other legal process. The policies and procedures in this guide are subject to change without notice, and this document is not meant to be distributed to individuals or organizations that are not law enforcement entities, including Yahoo! customers, consumers, or civil litigants.

It is rather interesting to see Yahoo’s sliding scale of charges levied for passing on users’ information and data on to ‘law enforcement’ (page twelve), though heartwarmingly it is at pains to point out that it “maintains an exception to this policy for cases involving the abduction or exploitation of children”.

As ever, it is good to be reminded that the internet is not necessarily the secure place for free and frank discussion that some might suggest that it was.

* No, I’m not Irish or a republican (in that sense); Saoirse32 is, however, a good paywall-avoiding source of Irish and Northern Irish news.

Welcome to St. Paul’s

The Fuck You van

Watch out, watch out, there’s a thief about

Casing cars on Wilder Street

Apologies for the crappy photo – I was in a hurry to snap this chap and didn’t have time to put the flash on.

Last night I was turning my pootie off and caught this fellow out of the corner of my eye. He was cycling along the pavement on Wilder Street before circling round this car, ending up by the driver’s side. He had a good look inside whilst straddling his bike, even getting out a torch. Then he wheeled across the road and cased a couple more cars up Brunswick Street. If I see him again I’ll try and get a better shot of his face.

You’ve Been Framed: The Google Street View Years

Bike crash captured by Google Street View

Bike crash at junction of City Road, Upper York Street and Stokes Croft, as captured on Google Street View. Perhaps more astonishing than this pile-up (and exactly how did that happen? Is the chap on the left riding an invisible steed?) is that there are no tramps in the background. I guess they heard about the plans to water down White Lightning.

Tip O’ The Titfer: [underscore] via Stefan Goodchild

ETA: Chris Hutt has spotted that The Sun has picked up the picture – it’s the third one in this slideshow, and also mentioned here.

ETA: It’s also featured in this BBC article (5th image in the gallery).

ETA: I can’t find any pictures showing the pre-crash situation, but this picture shows the aftermath in a bit more detail. That skateboarder is definitely acting suspiciously!

Bike crash aftermath

The Bristolian is back!

The Bristolian is back!

I got given a copy of the back-from-the-dead Bristolian earlier!

They don’t seem to have a website at the moment, but tentative steps and all that, I’m sure things will be moving along nicely once people know it’s back in business.

This inaugural issue carries stories on:

  • the LibDem Council House coup d’état;
  • the cancellation of a new primary school in favour of a car park for Gloucestershire County Cricket Club;
  • expensive Council jargon;
  • Sustrans and the Cycling City money-go-round;
  • and (of course!) the good old recession.

They do ask that if you have “any leaks, sleaze, gossip, slander, news, views or anything else your fellow Bristolians should know about” to get in touch – email BristolianNews AT

Look out for it in shops, pubs, market stalls, community centres and newsagents!

In the meantime I’ve scanned & PDFed it so you can download your own full-size A4 printable copy – the pic above is for illustrative purposes only 😉

» Download The Bristolian #1

Snow skidding

4WD skidding through ice and snow on Wilder Street

Twas snowing heavily last night. Heard a noise, looked out the window, saw a 4WD skidding all over the road outside.

Sustainable gravy transport

Ooh Mr Grimshaw!

Josh Hart has written an interesting critique of Sustrans over at his On The Level blog:

There are an increasing number of concerns…but they centre around this: should a private charity with no accountability to the public or its membership (Sustrans calls them supporters) be given millions of taxpayer pounds every year without adequate consultation or oversight?

…It also turns out that very few Sustrans employees are personally involved in the Bristol Cycling Campaign-something I find very odd considering many of them live and cycle in Bristol. In fact, it sometimes seems that Sustrans goes out of its way to ignore Bristol, as if to prove to other areas of the country that the City that hosts their headquarters curries no special favour. When plans for a bus rapid transit route threatened the Bristol-Bath Railway Path (Sustrans’ flagship facility) they were sluggish in responding to the threat, terrified of offending the local council, actually going on record in the Evening Post saying essentially that they had “no comment” about the plans.

Though the beast finally woke from its bloated lottery-money induced slumber and opposed the plan with some force, the damage had been done. Thankfully, local activists stepped into the vacuum and formed Save the Railway Path, organised a 1000 strong march to the Council house that succeeded in getting the City Council to shelve the ill-conceived plans. We know that Sustrans knew about the BRT plan as early as July 2007 if not earlier, yet they did nothing to alert others and provoke opposition. They only jumped on the bandwagon when it was clear that their credibility was on the line if they did nothing…

Chris Hutt at Green Bristol Blog has provided some much needed (judging by some of the catty remarks already deposited on Josh’s comments section by College Green lycra-clad loyalists) back-covering; this one should run and run!

Forget-Me-Knot #005: Wr06 txv

Wr06 txv

A reminder to myself to complain to Bristol City Council AGAIN – this time because I’m annoyed at BCC vehicles – like the van with the registration WR06 TXV – habitually parking either on the pavement or on double yellow lines.

The BCC van with the registration WR06 TXV managed to pull off the impressive feat of parking half on the pavement and half on double yellow lines when I thumbed this note – outside Wilder House on Wilder Street, home of BCC’s Parking Services Team.

“Seriously on the cusp…”

Hal from 2001

My pootie’s a little bit fritzed (again), and may have to go into the garage soon for some TLC whilst I still have a little time to run on my AppleCare Protection Plan.

So for a week or two it might be au revoir (but not adieu).

Wikipediaphile: Force de frappe

The Samson Option by Seymour HershFifteen years ago, I borrowed a book called The Samson Option from a friend called Mike. I’ve finally got round to reading it. It’s written by the My Lai dude, Seymour Hersh, and it’s about Israel’s pursuit (and cover up thereof) of a nuclear weapons programme.

It’s rather interesting, and Hersh does name a few names when it comes to his sources (something that The Observer might like to try). Reading back about the book’s publication I’m reminded of the furore surrounding Robert Maxwell’s connections with the Mossad, and of then-Mirror foreign editor Nicholas Davies’s alleged involvement in dobbing in Mordechai Vanunu. Journalists actively conspiring with spooks? Who’da thunk it?

Anyway, whilst reading through it, I came across a phrase used to describe France’s strategic policy of independent nuclear deterrence: ‘force de frappe‘:

The decision to arm France with nuclear weapons was made in the mid-1950s by the administration of Pierre Mendès-France under the Fourth Republic. Charles de Gaulle, upon his return to power in 1958, solidified the initial vision into the well-defined concept of a fully independent force de frappe capable of protecting France from a Soviet attack independently from NATO, which de Gaulle considered to be dominated by the United States to an unacceptable degree. In particular, France was concerned that, in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, the United States, already bogged down in the Vietnam War and afraid of Soviet retaliation against the United States proper, would not come to the aid of its Western European allies.

The strategic concept behind the force de frappe was the so-called dissuasion du faible au fort (Weak-to-strong deterrence), i.e., the capability of inflicting to a more powerful enemy more damage than the complete destruction of France would represent. The enemy, having more to lose, would therefore refrain from proceeding further (see MAD). The principle was summarized in a statement attributed to De Gaulle himself:

Within ten years, we shall have the means to kill 80 million Russians. I truly believe that one does not light-heartedly attack people who are able to kill 80 million Russians, even if one can kill 800 million French, that is if there were 800 million French.

De Gaulle’s vision of the Force de Frappe featured the same “triad” of air-based, land-based, and sea-based means of deterrence deployed by the United States and the Soviet Union. Work on these components had started in the late 1950s and was vigorously accelerated as soon as De Gaulle became president.

France conducted its first nuclear test in 1960 and operational weapons became available in 1964.

Fecking Firefox!

Today I updated my Firefox to 3.0, and I’ve noticed that the regular Flash audio player isn’t showing up where I’ve posted mp3s on this blog, that the Yahoo players won’t play, and that only YouTube videos are visible. And somehow my formatting’s been affected in some places! Grrr!

Everything seems fine on Safari though, I shall have a pootle around tomorrow to see if there’s anything that I can do to remedy things. Please do let me know if you’re having trouble accessing anything else.

Cheers 🙂

Secret agents get A-Space for social networking

The War Agin Terror meets surplus value-reclaiming desk jockey timewasting…

…[US intelligence chiefs] are encouraging their staff members to use a new social-networking site designed for the super-secret world of spying.

“It’s every bit Facebook and YouTube for spies, but it’s much, much more,” said Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.

The program is called A-Space, and it’s a social-networking site for analysts within the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Instead of posting thoughts about the new Avenged Sevenfold album or Jessica Alba movie, CIA analysts could use A-Space to share information and opinion about al Qaeda movements in the Middle East or Russian naval maneuvers in the Black Sea.

The new A-Space site has been undergoing testing for months and launches officially for the nation’s entire intelligence community September 22.

CNN and Heise Online (Tip o’ the titfer: Euro-Police)

Wikipediaphile: Split S

So it’s half four in the morning, I’ve got a documentary on in the background (People’s Century episode 6, ‘1927: Great Escape’), and I’m idly stroking threads of human knowledge…

Bonus Army > General MacArthur > Billy Mitchell > Hap Arnold > USAAF > P38 Lightning > Split S

The Split S is an air combat maneuver mostly used to disengage from combat. To execute a Split S, the pilot half-rolls his aircraft inverted and executes a descending half-loop, resulting in level flight in the exact opposite direction at a lower altitude.

So now you know.

The war against grammar

USAF ‘A Changing World’ website

OPINION LEADERS: The countries brightest minds weigh in on the challenges we face.

From the USAF’s ‘A Changing World’ recruitment campaign website.

Presumably those “brightest minds” do not include too many language specialists.

Still, nice to know that America’s air force is limiting its jurisdiction to merely the skies, outer space and the internet…

GYBO back in the pink

New GYBO front page

Top bastard pop bulletin board Get Your Bootleg On (aka GYBO) has been given a bit of a makeover to go with its new hosts, after all manner of technical problems lately that led boss-man McSleazy to turn all Holmes muthafucker in search of bad, bad code that was getting everyone’s Moriaties in a twist…

Anyway, all seems to be running smooth now, and if we are well behaved we might even get to keep the Hello Kitty theme 😉

PS Don’t forget to make sure your bookmarks are updated, it’s at now, and nowhere else.