News Corporation – the new face of piracy

According to Panorama from the BBC in the UK it appears Sky TV in the UK had a subsidiary involved with people cracking On Digital’s smartcards and also with people running a website to share the keys from those smartcards.

Of course News Corporation is a multinational, so it wouldn’t surprise you to know that there are now allegations that they were involved in similar antics here in Australia:

News Corporation is alleged to have used a security division known as Operational Security to encourage hackers to pirate the smart cards of rival pay TV operators including Austar and Optus, thereby draining them of revenue and devaluing the businesses.

Perhaps FACT, AFACT. MPAA, etc should adjust their “piracy funds terrorism” to warn that by supporting piracy you will be supporting Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation, Sky, Fox News, etc.. That would put a lot more people off..

Xorg.conf for multihead on Dell Lattitude Z600

I spent a little time recently creating a minimal xorg.conf file to get multi-display working on my work Dell Latitude Z600, such that it sets up an external HP monitor (via the Display Port connector DP1) to the right of the laptop display (LVDS1), with both display and monitor running at their native resolutions. Took a little fiddling to get it right, but this works for me (of course you’d want to adjust the PreferredMode to suit your equipment). Without this it defaults to cloning the main display and running both at 1280×1024, which isn’t very nice.

Section "Screen"
        Identifier "Screen0"
        Monitor "LVDS1"
EndSection

Section "Screen"
        Identifier "Screen1"
        Monitor "DP1"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
        Identifier      "LVDS1"
        Option  "Primary"       "true"
        Option  "PreferredMode" "1600x900"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
        Identifier      "DP1"
        Option  "Primary"       "false"
        Option  "RightOf"       "LVDS1"
        Option  "PreferredMode" "1920x1080"
EndSection

Section "Device"
        Identifier "Intel0"
        Option "Monitor-LVDS1" "LVDS1"
        Option "Monitor-DP1" "DP1"
EndSection

NB: Whilst the xorg.conf does set the primary display to the laptop screen (LVDS1) either KDE or X itself continues to use the external display (DP1) as the primary. However, I can change that in my KDE settings and that then persists across logins.

Facilitated Communication

In response to an ABC 7:30 report on Facilitated Communication (FC) the ABC disability website “Ramp Up” has posted an article entitled “Facilitated Communication; from the inside” by Marlena Katene, who herself uses both FC and independent typing (FC is faster for her, which is why she still uses it). In it she tells of her own battles against prejudice that it could be her communicating when she is assisted.

In high school I recall the frustration of sitting an exam three times with results getting worse each time. The first time the teacher (who was special education trained) did not believe I could do so well. After the third time however, she was convinced it reflected my true abilities as I failed the exam. I wonder if I had passed ten times; would they have kept making me do the same exam until I failed?

She also raises an important human rights issue; if you cannot communicate just how reliable are others assesments of your intelligence ?

The ABC 7.30 report mentioned, more than once, that those using facilitated communication in the story had the intellectual capacity of three-year-olds. Without access to appropriate communication, I wonder how the testers came to this conclusion.

If I took you and dumped you in a country where you could not converse in the language or use their writing system just how well would you do on their intelligence test? The concern always mentioned is “how do we know it is them communicating?” – but if you take away this then surely the same question applies to people trying to interpret their behaviour and signs – the observers there will be putting their own spin on things, conciously or unconciously.

One of my fears is that if able-bodied people prevent people with communication disorders from accessing FC then they will never get the opportunity to progress to becoming independent communicators. There are plenty of such people out there but I suspect mentioning their existence would be rather inconvenient for those opposing FC – how on earth could you justify campaigning against them developing their own, independent, personal and uncontrolled communication. In my wife’s blog around this report called “The ABC of valid facilitated communication” she mentions the people she’s known who have taken this path.

I could talk about the many non-verbal people I’ve known who progressed through supported communication to independent typing… Birger Sellin, Tito Mukhopadhyay, Richard Attfield, Kayla Takeuchi, Larry Bissonnette, Sue Rubin, Carley Fleishman, Heather Barratt, Sydney Edmond, Lucy Blackman, to name just a few of the most well known.

I will add to that that I have also met Richard, Sydney and Lucy and note that Sue Rubin wrote a documentary film about her life called “Autism is a World” which was nominated for the “Best Documentary Short Subject” Oscar in the 2004 Academy Awards. Donna also interviewed Richard for her blog back in 2007.

The 2012 Hoax

It’s sad that such a site is even necessary, but if you find yourself trying to explain to people why the world won’t actually end in 2012 (which I’ve found myself doing a couple of times) then the 2012 Hoax website (run by astronomers and others around the world) has a heap of info that should help. Please give the Mayans a break, they didn’t predict this..

Hopefully this blog will also lend some of my Google-fu to them (though they are doing pretty well so far!).

Some Recent Photos with the Galaxy Nexus

Work (and having a tree fall on our house) has kept me busy recently, so for now here’s a few more recent photos taken with my Galaxy Nexus at one of our favourite places for walking, Cardinia Reservoir Park. All of these are taken on or from the walk on the wall of the reservoir dam.

Lovely, if occasionally rainswept, sunset at Cardinia Reservoir Cardinia Sunset, Obscured by Clouds

Donna and Chris with rainbow over Cardinia lake Chris and Donna by sunset light at Cardinia Reservoir

The photos of Donna and myself are taken with the front facing camera, which has a lower resolution. The rainbow one is my favourite I think!