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Lighten Up 22 March 2002 Edition
Previous Edition

Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
Click To See
Time to end the week with a laugh or at least a look of stunned amazement thanks to Aardvark's regular "Lighten Up" feature.

George Bush
A Flash animation that must surely have been created by the man himself.

Stackable Humans
And who said that modern kids can't amuse themselves without video games or TV?

Alison's PantsCam
An interesting project in which a young lady has fitted a webcam to her knickers. The technology is far more interesting than the results achieved -- the actual video feed wasn't working when I checked.

Aardvark's Web-site Survey Service
If you're launching a new website, upgrading an existing one, or just frustrated that your web-presence isn't performing as it should then maybe you need an Aardvark Site Survey. Read more...

Scientologists Say Linking Breaches Copyright
And Google Seems To Agree!
The long standing debate over whether linking to someone's website is a breach of their intellectual property rights under copyright law has taken another twist.

Google, one of the Net's most popular search engines, has yielded to legal threats made by the Church of Scientology and pulled entries for a website criticising the church.

Why did they do this?

Because the Scientologists threatened to sue Google for an alleged infringement under the USA's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Google... - Sam
  • Have Your Say

    The Church of Scientology has always been very proactive in identifying and prosecuting its critics but to drag Google into the battle seems very much over the top and effectively sets a dangerous precedent in respect to the accepted liabilities associated with hypertext links.

    Although there may be absolutely no merit to the threats made by the church, think of what this might allow unscrupulous operators to do to competitors...

    If you run "Joe's Web Design" and find that a competitor, say "Bob's Web Design", is far more highly ranked in Google's database than you then just drop the search engine an email claiming that you believe Bob is infringing your copyright and therefore they must remove all links to his site or risk prosecution under the DMCA.

    Okay -- unlikely I know -- but the principle is the same.

    The Church of Scientology doesn't appear to have proven that Xenu.net has actually infringed its intellectual property rights -- it's simply making an allegation. Never the less, Google seems happier to simply yield to these legal threats rather than demand what most people would consider to be a burden of proof on the part of the Church.

    If we accept (as Google appears to be doing) that linking to a site represents a violation of that sight's copyright then we must acknowledge that search engines and directories which build their databases by unsolicited spidering rather than user-submission are all living on the wrong side of the law.

    Such an implicit admission would seem to be a dangerous thing for any search engine to make.

    While I can understand Google's reticence to get involved in a court-room battle with an organisation as fanatical and well-funded as the Scientologists, I must say that I'm very worried by the way it has allowed a bully to effectively compromise the integrity of its search engine.

    Now, while my philosophy on religion is to "live and let live" and not judge anyone by their religious beliefs, one can't help but wondering exactly why Scientologists are so very sensitive to criticism. I would have thought that all good religions would easily withstand robust scrutiny and examination in a public forum.

    And now I suppose they'll try to sue me.

    Speaking of which -- have you ever wondered what happened to ING's sabre-rattling and threats of legal action against Aardvark? Perhaps their process server was about as lame as their marketing tactics.

    Have your say.

    Aardvark's Garage Sale
    It's time to clear out the closet here at Aardvark's country residence so I'm having a bit of a garage sale. I need to spend a whole lot more time and money on my jet engine R&D activities (now that the defense industry has shown a very real interest) -- so I'm trying to scrape up some more cash.

    First up -- I'm selling my pulsejet manufacturing business. This would be perfect for either a semi-retired engineer/machinist who wants to earn some pretty good money building these things and exporting them to the world -- or an established engineering shop who want to break into a new (very export oriented) market. I can provide an ongoing stream of orders through my website and since I've run out of time to meet the demand, the sale will include a growing "waiting list" of new customers ready to place their orders.

    Second up -- I've still got 30,000 7am.com shares (representing about 30% of the company) that I'm looking to unload. I'm afraid I can't offer much information on the state of the company -- they haven't spoken with me for ages so it's a bit of a pig in a poke. However, they survived the most critical part of the dot-com crash and are now claiming to have nearly 250,000 websites in their ticker network so that's got to be worth something. Any sale would be subject to other shareholders exercising their preferential rights -- but all offers will be considered.

    Thirdly -- I have an RC model helicopter here that I have built but never flown. It's a Robbe Mosquito Basic with a JR X-3810 radio, JR piezo gyro, OS46FSH engine and a Dave Brown flight simulator. Everything was purchased brand-new a couple of years ago and is in pristine condition (having spent all that time in a box in the storeroom). Since I haven't had any time to fly it in the past two years I figure there's little chance I'll find time to fly it in the next two years, so out it goes.

    Anyone interested in any of these things should drop me a line.

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    Security Alerts
    Second Java hole poses Windows risk (CNet - 20/03/2002)

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    Webmasters Urged To Plug PHP Security Hole NewsBytes - 27/02/2002)

    MP3 Files Not Always Safe With Top Media Players (NewsBytes - 25/02/2002)

    Virus Alerts
    Gibe worm poses as a Microsoft update (ZDNet - 6/03/2002)

    German worm makes PCs kaput (The Reg - 20/02/2002)

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