Archive for October, 2004

Morpheus with Bitzi “anti-spoofing”

Thursday, October 7th, 2004

Morpheus, a popular filesharing client at version 4.5:

Includes free Bitzi anti-spoofing look-ups to download only the files you want.

That’s an accurate description (and has been true since at least Morpheus 4.1.1). If you see something you’re interested in downloading in search results, you’re a right-click away from a Bitzi lookup. If Bitzi users have judged the file to be spam, virus-laden, or corrupted, you’ll get a response similar to this:

bad file

Thirty Bitzi users have judged this file as dangerous or misleading (one bozo recommended the file). A few of the judgement notes tell the story:

Every time I write something,it will come up in my searching files. The size is 105,2 kb every time.


stupid spam, coming from….discuises itself under many wma files

If Bitzi users have judged the file you’re interested in to be worthy, you’d see something similar to this:

good file

That file happens to be the current release for Windows of Bitzi’s bitcollider file metadata collection tool.

Derek Slater notes that Bitzi metadata is itself subject to spoofing, and

even if Bitzi helps people sort out spoofs, the technological arms race will continue.

Very true. Bitzi is dependent upon community policing, and a concerted effort to create dangerous files and submit fraudulent judgements to Bitzi would work, at least for awhile. There are steps Bitzi can take to militate against such attacks should they become a problem. Unfortunately, as I noted recently, development proceeds at a bear in winter’s pace.

It should also be noted that Morpheus is just one of several applications that enable Bitzi lookups or submissions, though most of these send users to a Bitzi web page rather than integrating raw data from Bitzi lookups into their user interface as Morpheus has (see screenshots above).

Intellectual Protectionism amelioration committee

Monday, October 4th, 2004


is a nonpartisan group dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced intellectual property policy.

I signed their statement of principles and strongly encourage you to do the same.

However, the following mantra, excerpted from principle #1, grates:

Creators of ideas and inventions have the right to be compensated for their work

IPJustice has a nearly identical principle, #2 on their list:

Creators deserve to be compensated.

This “principle” feels to me like a nutty mix of buying into protectionist propaganda and labor theory of value* sentiments. It would be perhaps be better to say that creators should have the right to restrict access to their creations. Given a monopoly in their work, creators or their assignees may be able to extract more payment from potenential users than they could without monopoly privileges, but they certainly don’t have a right to be compensated merely for creating. If that were the case we’d have huge[r] inefficiencies from overproduction of intangible goods.

Back to IPac, they seem to be taking the sensible strategy of backing three candidates from each of the two U.S. establishment parties. I suspect Brad Carson is the only candidate in any sort of race (the other five should all easily win). I looked at Carson’s congressional web page and wondered why IPac is supporting four Republicans and two Democrats. Turns out Carson is actually a Democrat — from Oklahoma, where apparently Democrats are anti-gay marriage and pro-gun (top two stories on aforementioned site). An explanation.

* I can’t find a single excellent page on the LTV. Most are either hopelessly mired in Marx-derived argumentation, which as far as I can tell removes the most trenchant LTV criticisms by rendering the LTV meaningless (tautological) as an economic concept, trailing off into Marxian “class” analysis (the current Wikipedia page, linked above, tends toward this — I’ll shirk my responsibility to fix it for now) or are flippant dismissals of LTV that usually ignore the Marxian evasions (maybe justified) , criticizing Ricardo’s earlier LTV and often misattributing it to Marx (a page tending in that direction).

Best Bitizen

Monday, October 4th, 2004

After over three and a half years I am finally the best bitizen, as defined by a formula that takes into account the amount of file metadata contributed to Bitzi and the quality of that metadata, as rated by other “bitizens” (Bitzi users):

How did I obtain this dubious (as a Bitzi cofounder) honor?

I’ve more or less consistently reported some of the random junk I may have encountered (though around 30 Bitzi users have reported more, all over a shorter active period) and more importantly, have occasionally taken care to add accurate metadata to reports.

On the negative side, I’ve more or less consistently failed to put much effort into adding new features since Bitzi went into hibernation. If I had, doubtless many more prolific than I (nearly everything I download is from the web — file sharing networks, especially post-Napster (really post-AudioGalaxy), are still practically useless in my estimation, unless you have lots of time to kill, i.e., you’re a bored teenager) would’ve stuck around and I’d be nowhere near numero uno.

Download the bitcollider (file metadata reporting tool) and knock me off my throne!

Divided Attention, Poor Judgement

Monday, October 4th, 2004

Tyler Cowen noted that traders apparently thought Bush won the debate. Pundits disagreed, and the traders came around. Bush wins futures have been declining since the debate (the current last trade is 60.9, above five points below pre-debate levels).

I suspect something like Cowen’s second reading is correct:

Second, the press is better at reading the debates than are the bettors. The bettors got it wrong at first, but fell into line once the press spoke.

I experienced something very similar. I listened to the first half of the debate while working, not paying very close attention to the debate. It seemed that Bush was winning — he hammered home is message, while Kerry seemed muddled.

Over the weekend I watched the entire debate, giving it my full attention. Now my perception is that Kerry clearly won. Bush stayed on-message, but was on the defensive. Kerry didn’t seem muddled when I paid attention.

I don’t really think the press is better at reading debates. Rather, I think the press was paying attention. Traders were probably paying as much attention to what other traders were doing than the debate itself. Better judgement quickly found its way to market.

Inalienable Rights

Monday, October 4th, 2004

I’ve misunderstood the word inalienable for many years. Anton Sherwood writes:

Meyer ironically misunderstands the word inalienable. It does not mean that such rights cannot be lost; it means they cannot be transferred to another (Latin aliênum `of another’).

If I sell you the rights to some of my chattels, you can thereafter enjoy those rights exactly as I did and add them to whatever other property rights you hold; I have then alienated those rights in your favor.

But if you take away my right to life or liberty, or my general right to acquire and hold property (as distinct from my rights in any one piece of property), you do not thereby acquire more such rights than you already have. You cannot enjoy a right to my life in the same way I do, and thus that right is inalienable. A murderer denies the right to life but does not transfer it.

The historic relevance of this distinction, between those rights that can be alienated and those that cannot, has to do with the functioning of the State. It may be argued that by transferring certain property rights from me to itself (by taxation or eminent domain) the State makes more effective use of that property; but this argument applies only to that which is alienable by its nature. Such an argument cannot justify abridgement of an inalienable right.

I thought “inalienable rights” had to be tautological or hokum.

My knowledge of my ignorance increases every day. Or, as Lucas Gonze wrote yesterday:

When I read arguments based on not knowing the turf all that well, I want to recant — louder! — my checkered past as a pundit, and all the stupid shit I got away with because nobody took the trouble to correct me in public.