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June 26, 2006

SEO Calendar

This is a calender listing important SEO events. Currently it lists events to the end of 2006. Please mail me or comment if you have suggestions.

June 19, 2006

New University course: Ethical Hacking

The University of Abertay Dundee in the UK is now offering a degree course called "Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures". This was reported by www.theregistry.co.uk, also known as "El Reg" today.

Accordingly the four-year degree "Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures" will be on offer from this September, and is designed to produce White Hat hackers, capable of working with businesses to defend their networks.

A university spokesman said the institution would be working with the Home Office, using "Home Office type procedures and Disclosure Scotland (Disclosure Scotland is part of the Scottish Criminal Record Office)" to rule out applicants with a criminal past.

The degree is the first of its kind in the UK, and is expected to attract a lot of interest from students.

Course leader professor Lachlan McKinnon tried to address concerns that the course would simply produce skilled hackers, saying the only sure-fire way to secure a computer is to unplug it.

He added: "We will monitor students closely because we want them to become ethical hackers. But there is no guarantee. Harold Shipman qualified as a doctor, after all, before deciding to become a murderer."

Other courses that can require background checks include medicine, dentistry and even speech science.

June 16, 2006

Disabling the local control feature


I have been reading through the X10 Forum and one of the posts really caught my attention.

One customer used X10 components to control TV time for the kids. As smart as kids are these days, this boy figured out a way to bypass Dad's X10 control.


I installed several hardwired x10 receptacles and a central controller. they control the TV, computer and radio. when bedtime comes I turn off the modules.

but now my kid has figured out a way around this .
if you turn off the switch on the surge bar and turn it back on,
or unplug and replug the the cord in the outlet the x10 resets, and power is restored...

(complete original post can be found here)


This is caused by a circuit in the module that is called “local control”. Local control is a feature that allows the unit to be controlled locally - without an X10 controller - by removing the power and reapplying it.


There are two ways to disable "local control", one a bit more involved than the other. Remember, I don't give any guarantees here, everything you do with these tips you do at your own risk!

1. Cutting the circuit responsible for "local control"
- Make sure your module is OFF and unplugged. Take of the cover.
- Cut the small wire link next to pin 7 on the integrated Circuit in the Appliance Module.

(Click picture for larger version)

2. Keeping a light in circuit
It is possible to disable the local control feature of the Appliance Module by plugging a "cube tap" into the Module then two items can be plugged into the same Module. Plug a 7 1/2 watt night light into one of the receptacles of the cube tap and the appliance you want to control into the other. When the Module is on, the appliance and night light will be on. When the Module is off, the appliance and the night light will be off. Now, even if you operate the power switch on the appliance, the night light is always "in circuit" so the Appliance Module's local control circuit is disabled.

June 14, 2006

Home Automation is for Women, too

According to a 2003 Consumer Electronics Association report, women are spending up to $55 billion a year on consumer electronic products and initiate 75 percent of all consumer electronic purchases. This is about half the total gross revenue of the consumer electronics market. The report also states women's interests are on the rise with 42 percent expressing interest in consumer electronics. When compared to men, women also express a higher level of interest in both high-definition television (63 percent) and digital cameras (43 percent).

Will "tech talk" replace "brunch talk" among girlfriends in the future?
I'll be honest, with X10 most customers still seem to be male.

So, ladies, stop asking, "Do these shoes go with this bag?" Start asking, "Does this lamp module go with that palmpad remote?

Here are a couple good places to start:

Lighting control.
Whole house lighting systems eliminate wall clutter with aesthetically pleasing designs. Dimmer and switch control adds to a more productive, relaxed, efficient, fulfilling and secure life while saving electricity.
Check out: www.NewToX10.com

Automation systems.
Home automation allows total control of anything electronic in the home - your television, stereo system, alarm system, camera surveillance or even your coffee maker. Internet access gives the freedom to monitor, control and maintain the systems in your home even while you are at work, or at play.
See: www.x10minitimer.com

June 12, 2006

Why the Soccer World Cup is bigger than any American sporting event

Hi all!

Let's talk about the World Cup today!

As the German I am, it saddens me to see so little attention being paid to the World Cup here in the United States. I wonder, why is that? I talked to an american friend today, who said the World Cup is nothing in comparison to the Super Bowl. I couldn't believe that and looked up some numbers...

In December of 2005 the draw for the World Cup finals was made in Leipzig, Germany. Without a ball actually being kicked, more than 350 million people tuned in via their television sets while millions more followed the proceedings over the Internet just to see whom their country would be paired with. The Super Bowl, is watched by less than 100 million people, stateside!

It's get's even better:
The last World Cup in South Korea and Japan was watched by a cumulative audience of a staggering 28.8 billion people, while the final itself between Brazil and Germany attracted 1.1 billion viewers, the largest TV audience in sporting history. By the way, these figures only account for home viewing so when you take into account the number of fans in bars and restaurants it would be much higher. So, looking at pure numbers there can be no doubt what is bigger.

I did go to a few football and baseball games here in the States, just to check it out. Both sports enjoy increasing popularity in Germany. The football team of my hometown (Hamburg Blue Devils) draws crowds in the thousands every weekend.

What I noticed though, here in the states especially, is that for a lot of people the sporting event seemed to be more of a family picnic, rather than a competitive sporting event. I was irritated by cheerleaders on the side, trying to amuse me when the game was slow, or some PA announcer telling the crowd to make some noise.

In soccer you don't have those elements, no cheerleaders, no PA announcer heating up the crowd, or dramatic music when the ball gets closer to a goal. The noise in the soccer stadiums comes from the people, it's organic.

I believe that is the main difference here. Personally, I think American sports are to a big part about pure entertainment. That is not the case with soccer. The bottom line is winning in soccer. Whole nations go ballistic with joy, there is an identification with it, that I have not seen in the US.

Well, before I go off here, let me finish with a quote by a famous coach named Bill Shankly who once said the following when asked if football (soccer) is more important than life and death:

"Listen, it's more important than that."

June 07, 2006

You may go to jail for online betting now!

Are you an online gambler?

If so it could result it serious consequences (such as 90 days in jail). Yes, according to KomoTV it became a Class C felony at midnight to make a wager on the Internet in Washington state. Sponsors of the bill say it's really meant to protect, not punish gamblers. They say online games invite organized crime and money laundering.

Usually a class C felony results in much higher penalties than 90 days in jail (plus fine), they typically carry 5 year prison terms and $10,000 fines. The sponsor of the bill said though that it will be an "unranked" felony, which means a maximum sentence of 1 year plus a fine (up to 90 days for first time offenders).

People against the bill say it's their right to play -- and consider the new bill another violation of privacy.

Well, I am not a gambler, so I didn't feel very touched when I first read this. Yet, it goes along with my last post, so I thought I post this.

It is still legal to play for free, or with "play money", that is what I would do if I were a gambler. Some say that defeats the purpose, I say it doesn't. Clearly, monetary gain can't be the purpose, because there are much easier and more reliable ways to make money. Did you for example ever think about becoming an X10 Affiliate?

June 05, 2006

Hacker attack swedish government server

The swedisch boulevard paper "Afonbladet" reports that the swedish government website (contains about 40.000 pages) was unreachable in the night from Saturday to Sunday, coming back online Sunday noon.

Accordingly, this attack was a direct response to the raid performed by the swedish police against the BitTorrent-Tracker "The Pirate Bay".

What's "The Pirate Bay"?

(source: WikiPedia)
The Pirate Bay is known in the online file sharing community as one of the more prominent websites which distributes torrents (files used by the BitTorrent filesharing program) that point to unlicensed copies of copyrighted material. In some countries, offering such torrents could be considered an illegal aiding of copyright infringement, but in Sweden and other countries this is not the case. In July 2005, new anti-piracy legislation was enacted in Sweden which made the distribution of software for the purposes of copyright violation illegal. The Pirate Bay is well known for the "legal" page it hosts featuring mockery of organizations sending copyright infringement notices and cease and desist letters to them.

A hardcopy of a reply from The Pirate Bay to Web Sheriff, (Entertainment Law Associate) in response to faxed legal threats, was sold on eBay June 8, 2005, for US $255.

There is no official response from the swedish government to this incident yet, there would have to be systematic analysis first. The attack seemed very similiar to another one against the swedish police on Thursday, for which a group called "World Wide Hackers" already took responsibility.

About 900 people demonstrated on Saturday against the performed crackdown on "ThePirateBay". Supporters say the crackdown is in direct violation with swedish law, since "ThePirateBay" provides information about media downloads, while not providing any downloads themselves. Unless law would be changed, they will continue their activities said Mikael Vibor, legal advisor of the group.

To lend political weight to the discussion, the former Microsoft employee Rickard Falkvinge founded a party called "The Pirate Party". The party counts about 5.500 members, rapidly growing after the reports about "The Pirate Bay".
Main foci of the party are empowerment of privacy and a balanced copyright law. To actually move into the swedish government the party would have to pass the 4% hurdle, for which it would need 225.000 members by next September.

Wow, what do you say to that?
What's your opinion about filesharing and downloading? In the internet world of today, it is so easy to manouver into the gray-zone of illegal file sharing. Let's hear what you have to say!

A video of the raid was posted on www.youtube.com.

Sources used: www.heise.de

June 01, 2006


Hi everybody!

Woah, this was a busy week! What did I do?

I was working on the latest addition to the X10 family:


We've just put it up today, it's a first version with much more to come. One feature that is there already, is our daily deal, and I mean DEAL! Take a look and tell me what you think!

Oh, and did you know about http://www.x10sentinel.com ?
I wasn't personally involved in the production of that site, but I sure know the product; do you? :)

Okay, this web producer has to go to bed now.