Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Schwags, Addictions and T-Shirts Acquired For Other Reasons

A colleague in the search marketing space with the name Tamar Weinberg had a "coming out" and admit her addition to "SCHWAG", the stuff you get for free at conferences or other promotional items sent to you by companies.

She dedicated a whole blog to her addition where she posted pictures and comments to all her trophies. Guess the name of the blog! ... right SchwagAddict.com! Uh, that was hard.. hehe.

I have some trophies myself. I also extend the definition of Schwag a little bit and include promotional material where I actually paid money for the privilege to carry somebody else's name or logo around for the whole world to see. :)

This pic shows the front of a BuyMusic.com T-Shirt ("get loaded", which has obviously 2 meanings here hehe), a Levelclick shirt, a Techsmith Snag-It Sweatshirt, which reads "Capture, Edit, Share" and can have a double meaning :) ), the front of a CT-Magazine short ("rtfm", which has actually only one meaning), a SES San Jose 2006 shirt, a Mister-Wong.com shirt (top right), a The Party 1997 short where I paid actually money for and a BDN shirt, which I had to earn (I won the fast-ANSI compo at BDN Party 3 in Berlin, Germany). You can also see some other stuff there, such as the "I'am feeling lucky" License Plate frame from Google (which they offered free of charge on their site at some time).

A closer look

Back of the Levelclick t-shirt saying "Stop Guessing Start Earning!" and front of the BuyMusic.com shirt. Also on the picture pens from Techsmith, WebmasterWorld PubCon and TheBlindNetwork.com.

Okay, here you can see what the "rtfm" on the CT-Magazine t-shirt means hehe. I won't spell it out here. CT is a German computer magazine btw., which is great. I still have a subscription and get it delivered here to the U.S.

Again the BDN shirt and a VNV Nation shirt (paid) and a The Party 1998 shirt (also paid). I had to throw away my The Party 1993 and The Party 1994 t-shirts unfortunately. They were damaged beyond repair from wearing them.

Mister-Wong.com shirt (got it via mail for my suggestions and feedback during their U.S. beta), The Party 1997 shirt again ("Batteries not included"), SES shirt and BDN shirt with not so shiny colors anymore.

TP98 shirt, Snag-It sweatshirt back side "take a screenshot, it'll last longer" .. oh ah.. okay hehe. Up in the corner my Star Fleet Academy shirt, which I bought at the Star Trek Experience shop at the Hilton in Las Vegas.

Oh, did I mention that I am a Cirque Du Soleil fan? ;) Here is the proof that I am meaning it! ... but wtf? What does the Google "black shirt" there? Spamming the CDS? God damn it! hehe.

Okay, the shirt on this picture were also all paid for. My deviantArt.com shirt, my Defcon worker shirt (I got two), an "Ex-Sysop" shirt in Amiga Oldskool ASCII characters and the two custom print T-shirts that I had made at Defcon. See my post about it.

So, that's it :)

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

You Can't Stop Progress! Lessons from the Past

I was sorting some old zip archives on my file server when I stumbled across an old text file from October 1997 with the name "INETSUXX.ZIP".

I was intrigued and checked it out. The FILE_ID.DIZ provided already a glimpse of the things to come.

| a short statement about the |
| actual bulletin board |
| system scene !!! |
| changes are needed! |
`------------------------------- -- -
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ .

Here is the entire content of the included text file with the filename "CHANGE.IT!". It has two authors. The initial author who also created the ZIP file and started spreading it through other bulletin board systems is an anonymous sysop who is mad that the BBS scene was going down the drain and that everybody was switching to use the Internet rather than dialing a BBS.

It was modified and extended with comments by PigPen of Poison and Surge. He made some were good and forward thinking statements back then, even though his English language skills are not the best (the text screams for spelling and grammatical errors) and border-line PG13 language used. This is true for both guys by the way. I think it was how we really talked back then. I can't remember for sure, but the text refreshed some long forgotten memories in me.

Okay, here it comes, uncut and uncensored.

Original text....

this sux!

we had several times to change the whole thing... but no one of us
seems to care about the big problems comming over us! .. we tryed
to fight against this enemy of crime - but - most of us weren't
able to resist! ... so the wohle crap seems to go down.
should not we stand together and fight agains our worth enemy ?
the internet - which becomes bigger and bigger ... and seems to
destroy our nice bbs network scene (which seems not to be a net-
work neither a bunsh of friends). most sysops fight against each
other instad of putting their forces together agains the inter-
so stand together ... and keep this scene alife!

a sysop! ...

Added crap cummin' up:

You're right!

Definately the Inter*et is huge and growing very fast. The _BIG_
problem is: It's simply more popular than the BBS-Scene, and you
really can find there everything, even things, you really don't
WANT and surely never NEED. Also it's really simpler to use than
dialing BBS'es...
And there the whole shit goes: I-N*t is becoming a mass-media
like TV, and if someone complains about shitnet, he also could
shout out: 'Read books! Sell yar TV-Set!' Stupid thoughs, but true.
But on the other hand, sucknet is SLOWER, BUSIER, easier HACKABLE
and much more EXPENSIVE.
By the way, ever thought about all those _really_ lame dudez, who
moved to blamenet, and doesn't bother you anymore? ;)
Back to business...
So we all hate lamenet, and wanna _FIGHT_ against?
( I mean <fight> not <complain> !­! )

- What about heavy announcing for our boards in hmpfnet?
- What about email support per BBS?
- What about firin' up _ONE_ huge net like good old GSN, CDN or DGI?
- What about making our boards easier to use?
- What about making our boards friendlier?
('What means ICE?' , 'Be sure you have a good reason to page!' ,
'No beginners!' , or those ratios we have but glblbnet don't)
- What about all those suckers, who would call and give the
remaining scene the rest?!?

But what's about the _meaning_ of 'The Scene'? Is the scene a
huge mob of people who call BBS'es and spread drivers and chat
about Java, HTML, sexdolls and helicopters?
Or is the scene a small crowd of active, friendly and sometimes ;)
productive freaks with abilities, not only a mouse to click with?
I'd really prefer the second...
Also if you want to keep the scene together, a first step would be
to sign with your handle, not with <a sysop>.
Imagine all those dudez, who have the same opinion like you,
and don't know, who you are... Nice, 'eh?

Pressin' all this in a short sentence:
[Internet grows, Scene selects.]


Yep, the good ol' days, gone forever. I can feel the anonymous sysop, because I used to be one myself and watched it all go to hell without anybody even blinking or saying anything. But when I saw it in 1997 in greater detail, I knew that the times for bulletin board systems are coming to an end. Note: I saw the Internet already before 1997. I used the Inet for the first time via CompuServ and the second time via a BBS Door :). But it took me a bit to "get it" to the full extend.

You can't change things back to what they were. The genie was out of the bottle and there was no way to put it back into it. Resisting progress is a natural but bad reaction. If you don't stop fighting progress a.s.a.p., the progress will eventually simply roll over you and leave you behind in the dust. Progress cannot be stopped, it can only be delayed! Remember that!

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Monday, December 03, 2007

I am a Libertarian Anarchist

When people ask me about my political opinion did I not have an answer for them, because what I believe is hard to describe. I did not know that there does actually exist a term for it.

Here in the U.S. people ask me, if I am Republican, Democrat or a Green. I am neither of them. In Germany people asked me, if I am Conservative Christian Democrat, Social Democrat, Liberal, Green, Socialist or a Communist.

I am neither of them. So what am I?

I just found that out a few days ago when I watched the episode titled "Activism, Anarchism, and Power" of the educational series "Conversations with History" by the Institute of International Studies of the University of California at Berkley.

The host Harry Kreisler had a 1 hour conversation with Noam Chomsky, linguist and political activist on March 22, 2002. I watched the video recording of it, which I downloaded from Google Video.
Here is a link to the complete one hour episode.

I learned that I am a Libertarian Anarchist.

This has nothing to-do with liberals in the United States, who are completely different from who call themselves "Liberals" in Germany, which is different from what the word actually means. The anarchist part of it does also not refer to chaos or lack of organization of the society. I am sure most people get it wrong when they hear it for the first time and probably think that I am a Lenin citing and Molotov Cocktail throwing radical or something like that. This is of course far off from the truth and not what I am.

I created a short 6 minutes video with excerpts from the original 1 hour conversation and added some pictures for illustration, which are blended into the video in the top left corner when appropriate. I also added some background music to make it "less dry" to consume.

I called the short video "Wage Slavery, Freedom and Libertarian Anarchism" and here it is.

Backup URL to video on YouTube.com

The video explains some of the principle beliefs of Libertarian Anarchists and then explains where the term comes from and how it is defined, if you go by the book.

The key sections of the video address the following subjects:

  • Wage Slavery = Chattel Slavery

  • Power is illegitimate by assumption

  • The use of violence may me justifiable sometimes

  • What is Libertarian Anarchism?
It feels good to be able to express in a word (or two) what you belief in. Now I can say that I am also a part of something. Okay, I admin that the Libertarian Anarchists are a minority among people, but there are more out there than you might think, most of them probably don't know that they are Libertarian Anarchists, like I didn't know until now.

No, I am not an activist though. You don't have to fear hearing endless political lectures from me, don't you worry :). I was just excited to find out and decided to write about it.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

SAC Updates and Site Content Additions

This post is already over one week overdue, but I just didn’t find the time for it until now. I have several news that I like to share.

SACtros Complete
When I was writing about the SACtros video section here on my site, did I mention that I was not able to get one SACtro to work and asked for help. Well, I got help and thanks have to go to Ben Garret from Defacto2.net (the PC warez scene archive). He created a video capture of the missing intro for me and I was able to produce the final video with music and all and put it up on the site.

I also found a few more SAC VGA logos, which I put up on the designated gallery for them. The logos I included were created by Kenet, Dream Design and Hetero.

Complete All-Time SAC Member List
I got 2 weeks ago in contact with an active SAC member with the name Dipswitch who is a musician and ANSI artist who joined SAC around April 2002. I got in touch with him via Facebook.com and hope that he will be able to help me with my complete SAC member list. I already spent a bunch of time on collecting data and information. The member list is suppose to contain everybody who used to be a member of SAC during its 14+ years history with information about what they did, where they were from and optional contact information etc. From what I collected so far, were 115-120 people members of the group over time. Not bad, eh?

Dipswitch is also pretty busy at the moment, but I hope to get something going by early next year. If you are a current or former SAC member who wants to help with that list, contact me. I created a spreadsheet at Google Docs and Spreadsheets where I can enable access to other Google accounts for collaborate editing.

ASCII Art Academy Additions
I also extended the ASCII Art Academy by two more articles.

The first article is called "ASCII Art Frequently Asked Questions v3.0.3.19" and is a very comprehensive guide to ASCII art on Usenet. It is limited to 7-bit ASCII art for that reason.

The second article is called "The File_ID.diz File Frequently Asked Questions" v1.9 by Richard Holler. It explains in great detail the origin and usage of the file_id.diz file in file archives for bulletin board systems. I chuckled a bit when I read that only 7 bit ASCII characters are allowed for the file_id.diz, because the PC warez scene ignored this and started using block/high ASCII characters in their file_id.diz files as early as 1993.

I am still looking for tutorials for Block/High ASCII art and ANSI art. If you know about or have any good tutorials about this somewhere, please let me know.

For my German Friends
I also added two more pages to the site, but they are quite hidden and not easy to find. Somebody at deviantART.com brought up the subject and I knew that I have it flying around as text files somewhere. So I decided to put them up.

What am I talking about? The infamous "Szenebeobachter" disk mags for the German warez scene from 1997. They are written in German language, but you have to be somebody from Germany who was active at that time anyway to get the humor. The SB was not taking things too serious. I put up issue 1 and issue 2 on the site. I am not sure if they ever released more than those two.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Friday, November 16, 2007

Delivery of My DefCon Videos ISO Promise

Finally, the 10 synchronized DVD-ROM ISOs with all the 125 video and audio recordings of the DefCon 15 educational sessions and panels (price point $499) are now up on the internet.

You can find the ten ISOs on Usenet, but I hope that they will find their way into torrent search engines and FTP servers around the internet

Below are links to the .NZB files to retrieve the Usenet posts and .SFV (simple file verification) files that include the CRC32 checksums to verify the integrity of the files.

The ISO’s are distributed as RAR archives in 50 MB size chunks and the zipped with NFO file and FILE_ID.DIZ.

NZB Files: ISO01 - ISO02 - ISO03 - ISO04 - ISO05 - ISO06 - ISO07 - ISO08 - ISO09 - ISO10

SFV Files: ISO01 - ISO02 - ISO03 - ISO04 - ISO05 - ISO06 - ISO07 - ISO08 - ISO09 - ISO10

... or download all 20 NZB and SFV files as ZIP archive.

I already apologized for this late delivery, but I explained the reasons for the delay in a previous blog post.

I put up the audio files one week ago at MediaFire. I just tried to access the files and they are gone, so is my account and other files, like the SACtro videos. Attempting to create a new account returns a vague error message. I contacted support to find out what the heck is going on. The audio files are still available at my backup location at SendSpace (where I pay money for it, so appreciate it).

Just as a reminder, all videos from the DefCon 15 hacker conference, held in August this year at the Riviera hotel and casino are already available for a few months at Google Video. See my blog post from early September that contains a listing of all the DefCon 15 presentation videos.

So, I consider now my promise to be fulfilled. It took a bit longer that you and I expected, but better late than never, right? The guys who flaked out on me maybe will also deliver what they promised eventually, beyond the partial fulfillment that at least one of the guys was able to provide.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Quick Update 11/17/2007: MediaFire is up and okay again. Files (DefCon 15 audio recordings among others) were not lost and are accessible again via this URL.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

DefCon 15 Video DVD-ROM ISOs and Audios Update

I mentioned in my first post to the DefCon 15 video uploads to Google Video that I are looking into getting the DVD-ROM ISOs up on the Internet and that I was looking for a better location for the audio recordings of the sessions.

So far did I only had partial success with all that. I sent the ISOs once as physical copy and also once via FTP to two different people who promised to make them available online.

One of the two people didn't do anything yet as far as I can tell and the other one fulfilled his promise only to 60% by only putting 6 of the 10 disks in ISO format online. Here is the link to the six DefCon 15 Video DVD-Rom ISOs. It's a start, but I am not very happy with the development so far.

I had more luck with finding a better location for the audio files, 123 of them and a total of 1.3 GB in size. I made the DefCon 15 Audios available for download at Mediafire.com, which allows me to share the files there for free. Sendspace charged me for that and everybody who downloaded from there can thank me for paying the bill for them.

I apologize to everybody who hoped for more than that, but it is all I can deliver at the moment. It wasn't all just up to me and I wanted to share at least this partical success with everybody who is still waiting for it.

I hope to be able to provide some final good news eventually. I am still working on it and did not give up on the idea yet. Keep in hanging there.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ich bin ein Berliner

I did some historic research when I came across the famous John F. Kennedy speech in West Berlin from June 26, 1963 again where JFK said “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

I also came across a video that was supposed to be "funny".

However, the video is not, because the whole premise the joke is based on is wrong. In addition, the StumbleUpon flags for some of the normal video links showed as category "humor".

I did not understand what "funny" incident he referred to when somebody asked me about this "running joke" for the first time several years back.

I learned then what obviously caused the amusement by some people. I do not know where they got the info from, but that somebody did probably not like JFK (I suspect Republican mischief here).

May be even a German from somewhere else in Germany than Berlin, who does not like Berlin (I suspect a Bavarian here, because Bavarians and Prussians have a long history of not liking each other). A Bavarian Republican would fit the profile perfectly. Ouch, there are a lot of them, because by a twist of fate are the majority of Bavarians very conservative.

Okay, I was just kidding regarding the suspicion of Republicans or Bavarians, but the fact is that somebody got it all wrong and that wrong information found its way through the heads of many Americans to this date.

Now let me clarify and bust this urban myth about what JFK said and what he meant.

"Ich bin ein Berliner" means, "I am a Berliner", which is understood in Berlin at least as "I am a guy from Berlin" and not "I am a stupid filled donut".

I think that I am an authority on that as somebody who was born and raised in Berlin, Germany who lived there the first 25 years of my life.

The filled donut others call a "Berliner" are the Berliner calling a "Pfannkuchen". "Pfannkuchen" is for others what you call "pan cakes" in English. The Berliner calls "pan cakes" "Eierkuchen", which translates to "egg cake(s)". Why is that? I do not know, I guess nobody likes to be called a food, especially a food that is a desert and soft and ... sissy. You know what I mean.

The Wiener, which is somebody from Vienna, also does not call the sausage we in Berlin call a "Wiener" that way. I do not know what they call it, maybe they call it "Frankfurter" and I am sure that this is not what the Frankfurter calls it (I think they also call it "Wiener").

Furthermore, use your brains. If JFK would have made a mistake, said it wrong, and embarrassed himself, what would the reaction of the crowd have been? Silence? Maybe, Laughter? Also possible. Cheer and Applause? Very unlikely.

Videos like this one are absolutely unnecessary and the stupid person who did it should be ashamed of himself.

I hope this settles this.
Carsten aka Roy/SAC and yes, Ich bin auch ein Berliner!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vaginal Massacre and Dream Design

I know, the title is stupid, but the first part is the name of a dentro and the second part is the name of a guy who called himself that. I am sure that the name for the dentro was chosen to get the attention of people. I guess it worked, because this Amiga Dentro won the demo competition at Scoopex's CeBit'1993 demoparty held in Hannover/Germany in... right, 1993.

I am sure that many of you also just checked this post only out because of the title of it. The funny thing is that it does not use any offending slang words at all. Did you notice that? "Vaginal" is a perfectly fine term used in human biology and "Massacre" is also not slang. It's not a nice word, but so is "murder" or "war".

Just FYI for the non-geeks who are not familar with the demoscene. A dentro is the short version for "disk intro" and is basically something in between a full "demo" and a basic "intro" in computer scene terms. A dentro is more than just an intro, but less than a full blown demo. What a "demo" and "intro" is, you have to find out for yourself :)

Here is the video of the dentro "Vaginal Massacre".

Alternatives: Link to the video at YouTube.com and Link to the video at Facebook.com this one has a better quality and higher resolution, but requires a Facebook account to view it. You don't have to be a friend of mine via FB to see it.

Now that wasn't too bad, right?

Okay, here are some backgrounds to this dentro.

The prize for the winner of the demo competition was a brand new Commodore Amiga 600 that just came out that year. The winning of the dentro was a surprise, considering the fact that the "Elite" boys from Masque/TRSi showed up and presented their "Misery Dentro Part II" (links to the video at YouTube), which boasted a lot more effects than this dentro. I guess the marketing plot worked for this dentro, because it beat the technically superior dentro to the punch.

U.D.O. is an abbreviation for "Unsere Doofen Ossis" (roughly translated "Our Stupid East Germans"). It's a fake group that did not exist. The people who did this were actually the members of the East German Amiga group called Remedy. How do I know this? I happen to know the guys personally :).

This was actually the place and time when and where I met one of the (then) future SAC (Superior Art Creations) founding members, the pixel graphics artist Dream Design. He did most of the graphics for the dentro, specifically the most memorable splash page, which is shown below.

He also pixeled this picture using less than 32 colors. Its around 16 colors only. Amazing, isn't it?

Anyhow, I did not know him, but saw him having this image loaded, staring at it and checking stuff with the lens feature of Deluxe Paint.

I said to him: "nice photograph". He turned around with a red face, looked at me and yelled: "I was drawing this and I worked over 3 full days on it!!!".

Ooops.. Well, somebody else might have taken my comment as a compliment hehe. The picture uses only 32 colors, remarkable.

I was looking for a video version of this dentro for a while and could not find it anywhere, maybe because of its name, who knows.

I have to thank "pgtyunbderf", a user at YouTube.com, for capturing the dentro for me. I only had to edit it and also replaced the sound with the original MOD music for better quality.

I thought that this is an interesting story and an interesting video (and picture) as well. Enjoy!


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Friday, October 26, 2007

SACtros - The Intros for SAC Art Packs

It took me a while, but finally are (almost) all SACtros available in video format on the site.

What are SACtros?
SACtros are the intros that were created specifically for SAC art pack releases only. In contradiction to cracktros or BBStros were SACtros only used for one release, the individual SAC pack it was created for.

SAC intros VideosFeatures and Interface
You can watch the videos directly on my website via embedded Flash video player. I also provided a link to the video at YouTube, just in case the player on the site is not working for somebody for unknown reasons. You are also able to download the video for each SACtro in .AVI format to your hard disk.

Goodies for Old School Geeks
For the old school folks are links to the original MS DOS executable and to the original MOD file (sound tracker music) available.

The Bad News
That were the good news, now to the bad ones. There is no video for SACtro #2. The reason for this is not that I forgot or neglected it, but the fact that I was unable to get it to work on a modern Windows PC to capture the video.


I used DOSBOX x86 Emu for old PC emulation and unpacked and unprotected the DOS executable. I also found out that there was a bug in Borland Pascal that causes programs written in old BP (this intro was, BP and in-line Assembler) to crash on modern day CPUs. I fixed the executable so that this bug is not a problem anymore, but it still does not work.

SAC intros VideosAsking for Help
If you are a geek and know some more options or alternatives for getting this intro to run in a DOS Window for video capturing, let me know.

If you can produce a video capture and send it to me, even better. Here is the executable (zipped) in the current stage (unpacked/unprotected/BP fix applied). Just in case, here is the original one, which used to work fine on old machines (just in case I messed something up during my fixing attempts).

Don't worry about the sound. I would mix that in afterwards manually anyway, just for sound quality reasons. Also if the intro runs very very slow, no problem. I had that with several of the other videos too. I did a lot of editing to get them to look like on good old MS DOS machines.

Thanks in advance and enjoy the other SACtros that I were able to record and edit at my website. I also hope that you like the interactive AJAX interface for the SACtro selection.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Perspective Projection on the Computer

Perspective projection is a means of representing something that is three-dimensional in a two-dimensional space, or in other words the representation of 3D in 2D, something we are all familiar with from the computer of course and also TV, photographs, paintings and drawings.

A basic rule of perspective projection is that something that is further away from the viewer at a three-dimensional space is “smaller” in the two-dimensional representation and “larger” if it is closer.

This holds true even for seemingly two-dimensional objects in the 3D world, like a flat painting from the front. Now everything in the real world is three-dimensional, but some things do not appear that way, or at least not much, to the human eye. If one dimension is too small, an object will appear two-dimensional to us.

Axonometric Projection
If the object is really “thick” or “deep” or we know from experience that the object is that way, a representation of the object in 2D is enhanced if not only one side (or two dimensions) are shown, the width and the height, but also the part of the side that we determine as the “depth”. Axonometric projection is the term used in geometry to describe the representation of an object with two or more “sides” visible to get a feeling of its width, height and depth.

There are three main sub forms of axonometric projection, which are isometric, dimetric and trimetric projection. The difference between the three is the angle and perspective of the viewer to the object.

In isometric projection for example, the angles between the projection of the x, y, and z-axes are the same or 120-degrese.

In dimetric-projection, only two of the three axes in space must be foreshortened equally, while the angle and scale of the third axis can vary.

If all three axes appear to be foreshortened differently, we talk about trimetric projection.

click to enlargeShort summary
Isometric = angles for x, y, z are the same, dimetric = only two are the same, trimetric = none is the same. See the illustration that shows an example for each type of projection.

Each of those types of projections were a pain and difficult to master for early computer generations, because the math behind them is very complex.

The Cheat: Oblique-Projection
Early computer generations used often oblique-projection for simple 3D effects, because it was relatively easy to do.

One way to draw using oblique-projection is to draw the side of the object you are looking at in two dimensions, i.e. flat. Then draw the other side’s at an angle of 45 degrees, but instead of drawing the sides full size, you only draw them with half the depth. This 45-degree angle was easy to manage.

Think about a computer screen as something like a checkerboard and draw an imaginable square on it. To draw the third dimension lines, you simply start at a corner, go one square to the side and then one square up or down, depending on the angle. You repeat this until you marked the number of squares that represent half of the actual length of that side. Drawing a proper line if the angle is different from 45-degrees becomes difficult. See the illustration that shows lines at different angles on a computer (click on the image to enlarge it).

The beauty with the simple 45-degrees oblique projection was that you do not have to do any vector calculations. Vector calculations take up CPU time (a lot, because of the needed divisions and work with floating points, something older computers were unable to deal with), nor did you require sophisticated line drawing algorithms like the famous Bresenham algorithm.

The Commodore 64 for example did not have a floating-point unit. The C-64 CPU was not able to do any kind of floating point operations, which was the reason why real-time 3D-animation did not exist on this machine (until much later, when smart coders used tricks to work around that problem to create visual effects that look like 3D vector graphics.

Seeing Pixels? Missed the Anti Aliasing, eh?
Even if you got the stuff calculated and the basic lines drawn was there still a problem. If you draw a line that is not 45deg on a computer screen pixel will become visible badly (the Bresenham article shows it nicely). In order to compensate for this side effect had to be used another, even more complicated method be used, which is generally known as anti-aliasing.

Anti aliasing is a trick for the human-eye, which makes sharp edges appear blurry and if done very well even soft. If this is combined with motion (what is even harder to do), the human eye will not notice this blurriness anymore and the edges will appear clean and sharp as they did when it was a simple 45deg angle.

It is more challenging if the angle is anything else but 45-degrees, for the programmer who tries to get a 3D-object on the 2D screen and also for the artist who tries to do the same thing with a single picture.

Thanks God for FPU and Photoshop
Computers became more powerful and most home computers today have 3D acceleration build into their graphics card in addition to one or more powerful CPU with special floating-point calculation unit. The artists got help too. Modern graphical applications provide build-in features for anti-aliasing. This was done by hand in the past.

Anti-Aliasing by Hand
Have a look at the famous “Fairlight” logo pixeled by Angel Dawn on the Commodore Amiga in a resolution of 320x256 and only 32 colors. There were no build-in features for anti-aliasing back then. The artist had to do it himself by setting additional pixels with the right color next to the pixels of the actual line. I enlarged one corner of the logo that you can see how he did it. Remarkable, isn’t it?

For additional and even more remarkable example of hand done anti-aliasing and pixeling, check out my post about the art by Dream Design from last summer. Yes, believe it or not, all of the images were hand pixeled. No Photoshop was used and no, those are not digital or scanned photographs either.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Monday, October 15, 2007

It Was Time Again For A Clean-Up

As the title of this post already said, it was time again for a clean-up of my site RoySAC.com. Its content was growing significantely over the past months, which resulted in a very user unfriendly navigation and gave folks a hard time to find stuff on the site.

The first thing you will notice is a much more cleaner, shorter and straight forward homepage of RoySAC.com. Old content from the homepage was moved to existing pages (SAC homepage, About Me page), to its own page (Closed Society BBS) or simply deleted.

ASCII Art Academy
The ASCII art primer and the three styles of the underground text art scene articles can not be found in the top navigation anymore. I created a whole new section call the ASCII Art Academy. The academy refers to those two articles and to a lot more stuff, including the existing ASCII art tutorials by Solid and DiamonDie plus five new ASCII art tutorials and the History of ASCII Art article by Joan G. Stark.

The new ASCII Art Academy can also be reached via the simple URL RoySAC.com/learn/.

Art Galleries
I had already four art galleries for my own stuff. Three more were added when my site took over as Superior Art Creations homepage. Then I added two more with ASCII and ANSI art from other artists and don't forget the special ASCII Nudes gallery and the ASCII morph pieces by Skylined.

Stuff was all over the place.

The galleries got a new "splash page" called... right, Art Galleries, which provides easy access to all the galleries and art pieces mentioned above.

Contact Page
In the case that you did not notice, I also have a contact form available now where you can send me a message without the need to dig for my email address and using your email client.

Site Navigation
The top navigation and additional text navigation in the footer of the site reflect the new structure of my site. I hope it makes things less confusing and make people actually find all the nice stuff, which I made available on my website.

The SAC section grew in size a little, the same is true for my About Me page, but the rest remained pretty much the same as it was before. Also the online shop, downloads page and links section did not require to be changed.

Feedback Wanted
Let me know what you think. I am open for any comments, suggestions, praise, complaints and other feedback about the new site structure and navigation. Contact me directly or leave a comment here at my blog. Thanks, I appreciate that.

Enjoy the site! Cheers!
Carsten aja Roy/SAC

Monday, October 08, 2007

Custom ASCII Art Prints

While I was at DefCon in Las Vegas did I check out a vendor who did custom t-shirts. This stuff is often very cheaply done and the t-shirts don't last very long. Three times washing it and the print would fade out. What caught my interest was the fact that they actually did very professional and high quality print and that for a reasonable price.

I always wanted to have some nice ASCII or ANSI printed on a shirt so I showed them a few ASCIIs and asked them, if they could do it. I am not an expert in this kind of stuff, but it turned out that block ASCII was actually very hard for them to do, because they convert the image to vector graphics first and use that pattern when they do the actual print. They said that the creation of that vector pattern will take forever, because it has to break down all the individual lines. And there are a lot of lines in Block ASCII hehe.

I agreed for the higher price tag, if I can get in return the vector file, which will allow me to do additional copies fairly easy without spending a lot of money. They agreed and said that it will take a while and that it will be impossible to do it right there at the conference and be done the same day. No problem, the conference was still on for another two days so I agreed to give them time until the last day of the show.

The Results
... were pretty amazing. I had them make me two t-shirts, one with a SAC ASCII logo by Hetero and another one with my own Dytec ASCII logo. Here are two photos showing me wearing the t-shirts. The Dytec logo color is a gray, like the original font color in MS DOS. The SAC logo is in bright and shiny white.

Below each photo is a link to the original ASCII art piece on my website for comparison.

See original ASCII

See original ASCII

Pretty cool eh? I was thinking about creating some more t-shirts and may be sell them off my site, but I don't know if there is any interest in that kind of stuff. If you are interested, leave a comment here at my blog to let me know. If enough people are interested, I will consider it. If you can't wait and would like to get the same t-shirts, which I am wearing in those pictures, read the next paragraph.

A Little Gift
I was thinking about it and said to myself "what the heck!". Here are the vectorized versions of the two ASCIIs, which were used for the prints and were the most time consuming and expensive part of the whole process. I zipped them up and the file is about 2 MB in size. The file format is ".ai" whatever that might be, but the shop I used for the prints is able to use them and print additional t-shirts very easily and cheap, because they can load it right into their printing machine without any pre-processing.


You can thank me for it by linking to RoySAC.com, making a donation (see any of my arts detail pages) or buying some of my mouse pads or something like that. I nice thank you and a drink (if we ever get a chance to meet in person) will also do I guess hehe.

Where Can You Get Something Like This?
The shop that did the t-shirts also does other types of custom prints. I was asked a few times where you could get ANSI art as a poster or large picture to hang it on to your wall. Here is the answer to that question: custom print. It is not cheap, but it also does not cost an arm and a leg. You also have to worry about a frame. You might want to ask them if they would take care of the framing for you. Keep in mind that a framed picture is harder to ship and would increase the cost for that.

I can recommend the print shop that did the t-shirts for me, it is called LBGFX Solutions. You can visit their website at LBGFX.com. They are located in National City in California. You can also contact the owner directly via email. His name is Liz Dela Cruz and his email is lizdcruz at gmail dot com. Tell them that I recommended him. He will not remember my name, just tell him "the guy with the ASCII prints at DefCon 15" and he will remember :).

Another print shop I know who does this kind of print and also understands what you are talking about if you ask for an "ANSI" to get printed are the guys from ShadowVex for whom I created the custom DefCon ANSI. They are located in Oregon and their website is more or less under construction and promotes their DJ'ing and not their custom printing. They organized the sound and music for one of the official DefCon parties btw. and they do sell t-shirts and a lot of other custom printed merchandizing for DefCon at the conference for over 10 years now. I talked with them about the need of a website and maybe some ecommerce features while I was in Vegas. It is on their to-do list. In the meantime is the best way to contact them via email. The name of the guy is Kevin Whitesmith and his email is Kevin at shadowvex dot com. Say "Hi" from me, if you decide to email him.

Cheaper Alternatives
For simpler prints do you not have to get fancy. I used deviantART for some stuff, like my ASCII and ANSI mouse pads and postcards. I blogged about them last November in greater detail.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Buy ANSI PrintBuy ASCII Print

Another alternative for this kind of stuff would also be CafePress. They also do t-shirts, but be careful and keep in mind that the quality of those t-shirts is probably not getting even close to the quality print done by a professional custom print shop.

Good luck and happy printing :). Cheers!
Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Friday, October 05, 2007

Access Your Zune from Windows Explorer

I have a Zune I and hate the Zune software that comes with it and is needed to synchronize your files between your Zune and your PC.

I learned today about an easier way to access the content on your Zune device directly via Windows Explorer, which makes things a lot easier.
I thought that I share this information with you, in case you own a Zune player as well.

Requirement: Your Zune must have been connected to the computer at least once and have the driver and Zune software installed and configured.

Step 1
Click on start, select "Run", type "Regedit" into the text box and hit enter. It should launch the Windows registry editor.

Step 2
It navigates just like Windows Explorer. Go to the following node (or "directory"):


There are a bunch of dynamically generated keys (Vid_XXXX&Pid_XXXX), one is for your Zune.

Step 3
The easiest way to find the right entry is by using the search function of the registry editor. Right Click/Find, enter "portabledevicenamespace" as string to search for and press "Find next". It should jump to the details (Node "Device Parameters") of the entry that is for your Zune.

Step 4
There are three keys that need to be changed. To change a value, just double-click on it. It will open up a box with the details of the key and its current value.

Key Name                                Current Value       New Value
EnableLegacySupport 0 1
PortableDeviceNameSpaceExcludeFromShell 1 0
ShowInShell 0 1

Step 5
Now connect the Zune to the computer (disconnect and connect it again, if you had it connected to your computer during the registry change).

The Zune should now be visible in Windows Explorer as "Portable Media Player" under "Other" ("My Computer"). It is shown by its name, which you specified when you configured your Zune for the first time.


The interface and software of the Zune sucks compared to the iPod. Microsoft just unveiled recently the Zune II, which will have many improvements over the original Zune I.

There are good news for Zune I owners like me. The firmware version 2.1 for the new Zune is supposed to be compatible with the Zune I and bring at least all software improvements to the old Zune devices.

From what I heard does the update include the support of additional video format (in addition to the Windows Media format .WMV) among other things. It is expected that the new firmware will become available when the new Zune II will hit the market later this year, probably sometimes in November.

I hope you enjoyed this little hack.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Monday, September 24, 2007

Definitions of the Terms Hacker, Cracker and Coder

It was several months ago that I noticed the discussion at Jason Scotts blog about the definitions for hacker and cracker. I would add to that mix the term coder, because it will become important in the details of own definition of each of those terms.

Three important facts will I mention right from the start:
  1. There are hundreds of definitions for the term hacker out there and they are all different ranging from portraying a hacker as an ethical and selfless whiz kid who does things for the greater good to the evil and selfish wannabe who cannot create stuff himself and thus prefers to destroy other people’s work.
  2. The meaning of the word hacker did change over time. People used the word in much broader terms in the past and even outside of computers.
  3. Mass media put their mark on the term and helped to add to the confusion and misconception.

I recommend avoiding the use of the words whenever possible, because everybody perceives and understands it different. Especially if you are using the words in a positive context are misunderstandings just waiting there to happen. Instead of cracker, use "computer-crack" or in instead of hack, use the term ”exploit” or “workaround” instead for example. However, if you have to or want o use the terms, clarify what you mean by them and not just let the terms out there on their own.

My definitions incorporate the changes in the computer industry and the fact that it is not the world of single mainframe computers at individual universities anymore. Computers became a commodity and a large number of users are normal people today, who are not geeks and often not have very much practical understanding of the matter at the same time.

My Definitions

A "hacker" is for me a person who is an "advanced power user" and not necessarily somebody who is a programmer. A person who analyses software, tests it, automates requests via tools to scan a broad range of possible options in a short time-period. A person who wants to gain access and or control over another system by exploiting known security flaws, using brute force (scanning, dictionary attacks etc.) or human weaknesses and flaws (why use parents the first name of one of their child's as password so often?). He maybe finds technical security holes by accident, but is not the one who can seek them out as well. The hacker was spending time to find out the new frequencies for ATT, MCI or SPRINT to break their lines, scanned for valid calling card numbers, attempts to find new working credit card numbers by creating similar siblings from an existing credit card that works etc.

A "cracker" is for me somebody who "eats code raw", a person who is comfortable using software debugger, mostly doing debugging at the Assembler level. A cracker enjoys dissecting other people's code and "fixes" little inconveniences and "flaws" in software, like skipping license key input screens to speed up the software installation process. Crackers are not necessarily great programmers themselves, but have a deep understanding of technology and computer software.

A "coder" is somebody with remarkable programming skills. A coder is this type of person who spends countless hours on something of little or no practical value (just by itself), just because he wants to figure it out. Things like writing a program that listens to IO operations of a hardware component and displays it on the screen, which looks like your TV screen, if you did not select a TV channel, showing nothing but seemingly random noise.

Each One Could be One, Two or all Three of Them at the same Time

A hacker could be a cracker and coder as well, but often are the three different types of characters found in three distinct and different persons. They can excel by working together in conjunction with each other and as part of a group.

I reduced my definitions to what kind of skills each of them has and less on what exactly each skill is being used for. That each of the people is often living in its own little world is probably true. The world they live in is not always the same world normal people perceive as reality.

Hypothetical Collaboration between a Hacker, Cracker and Coder

If you ask how the collaboration between a hacker, cracker and coder would look like, here is how I see it. The hacker would be the person who is in charge and coordinates the efforts. He is the one who has clear goals and ideas in his head. He would be the one, for example, who thinks up how a tool would have to work to do something very specific. The coder could write that tool for the hacker.

A port scanner for example (just to keep it simple) could be such a tool. The hacker needs a cracker, if the hacker encounters specific software and cannot get around it by using brute force or guessing. He would try to get a copy and have the cracker take a look at it to find flaws or have him create an altered version, the hacker could try to sneak in as replacement for the original.

By Default Neither Good nor Bad

Here is a positive example to avoid the misconception that it is all about breaking into something and stealing data etc. What they do and what they do it for are two distinct and very different things and independent of the definition.

The coder writes a piece of software. The hacker tests the software thoroughly and approaches it from all kinds of different angles. He does in essence the quality assurance. The cracker is the one who is looking under "the hood" and checks the software for deep build in flaws and errors.

Quality Assurance

In the example of a piece of security software would the coder write the interface to enter the password, the encryption routines etc.

The cracker checks the code to make sure that the encryption is strong enough and that nothing is being exposed that reduces the effectiveness of the protection, like loading the key pairs in plain text into the memory for processing and stuff like that.

The hacker checks more like things such as minimum keyword length, supported characters and flaws in the interface.

The best encryption is worthless if the password can only be a set of numbers and the password is three digits long = only 1000 possible combinations which can be tried out in no time, via a script or even manually.

The best protection software is also useless, if you can simply press ALT-F4 and close it and then be able to move on and do what you want to do anyway. The hacker is the one who would look for this kind of stuff.


That is my take on this whole thing and I am convinced that most people would be comfortable with it, if they think about it for a moment, including hackers, crackers and coders themselves.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Feel free to comment below.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Wikipedia NOFOLLOW Argumentation - A View Back

This was a scrap or stub on my Cumbrowski.com site with the title "What the F**k is REL=NO FOLLOW?" for a while and I decided that I remove it from there. Wikipedia is now using nofollow and the discussion is a thing of the past. However, the argumentations are still valuable as long as there is the rel=nofollow attribute out there.

I decided to post the discussion here at my blog, where I have already made a number of posts that are related to Wikipedia, my activities at Wikipedia and Wikipedia issues and discussions.

It's a lot to read and not for everybody, but worthwhile for anybody who is interested in the NOFOLLOW debate in general.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC


Originally written April, 24th 2006

What the F**k is REL="NO FOLLOW"? - Original Proposition

Presented to WikiProject Spam on 4/17/2006.

Wikipedia is not the only Site that suffers from so called "Link Spam". Every Site and especially Blogs that offer anonymous Visitors the ability to interact, comment or contribute and often even encourage it have a common problem. People that use the features to their own personal advantage without the goal to contribute for the benefit of others. From being rare cases of abuse in the past to today's frequent occurrences which became by now more than just annoyances. They became a problem.

The same type of problem with similar reasons for it's existence as email SPAM. Talk was not enough anymore. Tools and mechanisms had to be developed to reduce the negative impact of SPAM. The purpose of Link SPAM is not as apparent as email SPAM though. Email SPAM is usually send with the goal to get the recipient to open and read the email which contains a commercial offer with the hope that the reader acts and buys the offered product or service. Email SPAM has the goal to generate instant revenue and profit.

The Difference between eMail Spam and Link Spam

Link SPAM does not. The Blog Comment that is completely irrelevant for the Blog Article containing a short Message and Link to a commercial offer is not intended for the Article Author nor it's readers. If they respond to the offer "great", but that was not the original intent by the Spammer. The Link is not meant to attract "humans". It is indented to attract the invisible automated programs called "Spider" or "Bot" utilized by all major Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN (MS LIVE) and ask.com to gather Web Content which is processed and later returned to Users at the Search Engine in the Search Results (SERPS) if they are considered relevant by the Search Engine for the keyword or phrase entered by the User. The results that are considered most "relevant" are returned first. It is the goal of every search engine to RANK the Web Pages that match the users Search Query by highest Relevance to the topic the user is searching for.

How work Search Engine? What is their Goal?

Search Engines use mind boggling algorithms to calculate the "Relevance" and thus "Ranking" of every Indexed Webpage relatively to the words and phrases found on the Web Page. If two pages contain the word "science", the search engine must make the decision, which of the two pages it believes to be more important, more relevant than the other to show it as first result, if a user enters the search term "science" at the Search Engines Website. If you search for "science" at Google.com, over 4 Million!!! Web Pages are found. Google must make the decision, which of the 4+ Million Pages it should show first to the User. It tries of course to return the ones first that are most likely the ones containing the information the User is looking for. How do Search Engines determine the ranking of each page? How do they determine that Page A is shown 5th for the term "science" and Page B 4,0000,000th. Both are obviously about "science" or they would not be considered for the results at all. The actual ranking is determined by over 100 criteria by Google for example.

One of the most important criteria is the so called "Page Rank" of a Page. Page Rank was introduced by Google and made them what they are today. The Page Rank algorithm revolutionized search engines and produced fantastic accurate results. Read the original scientific paper on Page Rank "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine" by the Google Founders Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page or Page Rank Explained by Phil Craven to learn about the mathematical background of Page Rank.

Search Engine Ranking - Google PageRank

The actual equations are very complicated, but the general concept is surprisingly simple. In simply words is the "Page Rank" of a page getting higher the more other pages and sites link to it. Every Link is Vote from one Page towards another. The Linked to page gains Page Rank while the linking page looses a bit of it's Page Rank. I believe you start to understand where I am getting at and what the intentions of the link spammer are. Right, he wants to get a "Link" or "Vote" to his Commercial Website that Search Engines like Google think that the Page is more important.

The higher the Rank of the Linking Page itself is, the stronger is the Vote. A Link from CNN.com's Homepage is certainly a stronger Vote for a Webpage than a link to it from a personal Page at Geocities.com. That is the reason why more popular sites are more targeted by Link Spammers than less popular ones. Wikipedia is obviously very popular, thus a link from Wikipedia is worth a lot more than a Link from a less popular Site. Spammers are not only targeting public sites to get inbound links they also create artificial Link Farms and purchase links from Webmasters that are willing to cash in on their sites popularity. The Search Engines became actually very smart in detecting artificial inbound link inflation making Link Farms a lot less effective and even can cause the Website that is the beneficiary of this to get penalized or even banned from the Search Engine Index.

Wikipedia is the perfect Target

Wikipedia is the perfect target for spammers to get inbound links to their site(s) without risking a penalty from the search engines, because it is almost impossible for the search engines to determine if a link at Wikipedia was added because it is really relevant for the topic or just by a Spammer to increase his Page Rank. Blogs have the same Problem and Google developed a simple to implement mechanisms for the Blogger or Webmaster to eliminate the whole benefit of having an outbound link at those sites for the sole purpose of gaining Page Rank. The only purpose why a spammer is trying to place a link in the first place. Links can still be added and used by Human Visitors that are interested and click it. Search Engine Spiders on the other hand that visit the page will simply ignore the Link, it will not count as a vote for the target website.

How is that done? Very simple. Simply add the attribute rel="nofollow" to the HTML Link Tag

<a href="http://www.website.com">Link Anchor</a> becomes
<a href="http://www.website.com" rel="nofollow">Link Anchor</a>


As you can see, it is not hard to do at all. The Change to the Wikipedia Code is absolute minor. The Gain and Benefits are out of the Question. Does this solve the problem completely? No, of course not! But it will significantly reduce the issue, because a huge number of Links added just because of Page Rank will not be added anymore. The benefits of having an outgoing link from Wikipedia to a site are severely reduced, but of course not completely eliminated. There remains the benefit of human traffic clicking the link. In this case is the link better highly relevant for the article or it will be removed quickly by the Wiki users anyway (without the need of an Editor to take actions).

I hope this clarifies the subject a bit more and finds some open ears somewhere and finally one of the Wiki Developers to spend the necessary minutes (few hours at the most) to implement this feature saving thousands and thousands of hours wasted by hundreds of Editors that have probably better things to do and could use the saved time for more important contributions for Wikipedia.

--Roy-SAC 11:31, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
You can find some background information about me and my professional qualifications on my Professional Homepage to enforce the credibility of my statements made in this article. My email is available there as well, if you you have any questions or anything else you would like to discuss with me outside the User Discussion Page.

The Discussion - Introduction and Summary

Copy/Backup of comments posted at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Spam.

How to save hundreds or thousands of hours by spending just a few

Roy: I took the time to summarize and explain an important aspect of link spam on my user discussion page below. Some Editors expressed the opinion in the past that the proposed solution will not help to significantly reduce the problem which I vehement reject. Even if the impact is not as much as I expect will it still have enough impact to justify the necessary work to implement the solution. Being an enterprise solution developer myself gives me the authority to make the statement that the implementation of the solution can only be a matter of hours. An amount of time that will be saved multiple times over with absolute certainty in the future when it comes to link spam removal.

This will not immediately, because the word about the change has to go around and get to the potential link spammers first. Unless it will be picked up by the media and other means (bloggers etc.), a gradual impact should be expected. I invite everybody interested in this to join the discussion. Wikipedia Developers and Admins are more than welcome to join as well.
--Roy-SAC 11:55, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Rhobite - Reasonable and respected Wikipedia Admin

Rhobite: You're acting like nofollow is a perfect solution to spam, but it isn't. Wikipedia has already had a large discussion about using nofollow. Mediawiki already has the technical ability to insert into links, but the community decided against it. See Wikipedia:Nofollow. Rhobite 15:01, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Roy: Hi Rhobite. Thanks for the Move to the Discussion Section. It is not a perfect solution, but a working solution for one (major) part of the problem at hand.

I will go over the comments at Wikipedia:Nofollow in detail. It's been over a year now since the vote. The nofollow attribute was quite new back then and the traffic to wikipedia has also more than quadrupled since last year. I assume the issue is today also several times bigger than it was back then.

The Solution works for other Systems and Sites such as Blogs very well and reduced the issue a lot. Spammers are now creating the blogs themselves via programs (using API's) though :(. A different problem which requires a different solution.

The nofollow attribute is not diminishing the true purpose of an honest placed link. It works for a visitor who is clicking on it (and hopefully finds some more useful content) the same as a link without the attribute. This little attribute restores the original idea of hyper linking, when Links where only placed on Sites for Visitors to follow, not computer programs.

Google is the no.1 search engine worldwide with 50-60% Market Share despite the attempts of Yahoo!, MSN and ask.com to compete with Google in the Search Engine game. Yahoo threw the towel this January. ask.com was gaining, but only a bit, MSN is working on the problem to get their new search up and running. The situation did not get better, it got worse. the rel="no follow" attribute should be added automatically by the Wikipedia engine to ANY external link (URL's starting with "http://"), regardless if it is an Article, Discussion Page, User Page or System Page.

There should be NO on/off switch. This should be announced loud and clear to the public, also explaining what it does and what it NOT does. I bed with you $100 that with will reduce the amount of link spam you get here at wikipedia at least by a double digit number.

Since the current policy pretty much considers most external links as SPAM (-> see recommendation to link to the Yahoo Dir or Dmoz only and that's it)) is the total number of external links placed across Wikipedia a realistic measurement to evaluate the effects of adding the rel="no follow" attribute to all external links.
Since this is a topic I do know quite a lot about, I thought that it is a thing I am able to contribute well. Since I shoot myself into the foot with proposing and pushing for something like this, any doubt of an hidden agenda on my part can pretty much ruled out. I do believe in the need of valuable external links that enrich the content of an article at Wikipedia or provide proof for statements made in one.
I don't see any reason why the attribute should NOT be added except the reason that you want Wikipedia to be part of the Ranking Game. I can imagine that some Wikipedians do not like the idea, especially the ones that have a personal interest in some of the external links to their own personal/business websites. --Roy-SAC 15:51, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Rhobite: My objection remains the same as a year ago: It doesn't deter spammers. Pagerank isn't the sole reason people spam Wikipedia. This is a very visible site, and if I were a spammer I would want to be linked from here, even if it didn't improve my Pagerank. A link from a prominent Wikipedia article could generate a lot of revenue for an unscrupulous person. Furthermore, Wikipedia can and should improve the Pagerank of good, relevant links. punishes operators of useful sites for the actions of spammers. Rhobite 16:57, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Roy: It will certainly not deter all of them, probably not even the majority of them, but it will for sure deter some of them. if something is becoming less lucrative, less people will be tempted by it. That is an undeniable fact.

You are probably qualified to provide some rough numbers here. Let me ask you this? How much spam is removed by members of the SPAM project across all pages of Wikipedia every month? Lets be very pessimistic and assume that only 1% of the spammers are detered by the fact that they only have gain from a link via visitors that read the article and actually click on that link but don't gain anything else in the long run by increasing their rank in the Google SERPS and getting (a lot) more visitors from there?

How much time would 1% less spam save? Put that number next to the time it takes to implement the nofollow attribute (which is already in the code as you mentioned). And also how much LESS links that should be in the article get removed because of suspicion that the intent might be more selfish by the person that added it than it actually was?

You say that it will not deter any spammer at all which means that the amount of spam will remain the same if the nofollow attribute was added. This statement is based on what? Intuition? Facts? Show them to me. I can PROVE to you that the reduction and even better, the complete elimination of page rank of a link will deter people from adding knowingly links for selfish reasons.

If you get the chance, talk to a DMOZ Editor of an important commercial category. He will tell you, that he still gets more submissions than he can handle, but he will also tell you, that it is much less since Google de-valued links to sites that are listed at Dmoz in their Ranking Algorithm. The "punishment" of useful sites will be less of an issue than you think. Regular Sites that can not be changed by every john and joe out there will still link to those sites.

People who discover the site because of the Link from Wikipedia will also pickup the URL and link to it (I have done that myself more than one). If a sites reaches a certain popularity, Pagerank becomes less of a factor for the ranking. An increase from a Page Rank of 6 to a rank of 7 for example is huge, it gets even harder to impossible to get to a rank of 9 (There are mayby 1 or 2 dozen sites in the world that have that).

Lets summarize. It will certainly reduce spam if implemented consequently across the site and made public, it is easy to do implement, because the Wikipedia code is already ready for it and last but not least, the affect on valuable (authority or popular) sites is minimal. If you disagree, explain why. -- 20:49, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Stevietheman - Active Wikipedian

Well, I spent the time reading the complete Nofollow page from the intro to the votes and finally the comments. There was a lot of clutter (on both sides of the argument). I "stripped" out the comments that clearly showed that the writer had no clue about the meaning/purpose of the non-W3C-standard rel=nofollow attribute, or about spamming (link spamming and spamming in general) and especially not about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), in particular Google.

The remaining "on the topic" facts and arguments for both opinions were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the attribute enabled. I was surprised to find out that "only" 41% voted to keep the new implemented feature in Wikipedia (which was obviously "enabled" by default after the update that contained it was installed) and 61% voted for its removal (deactivation).

I have to speculate to explain this result. I guess a lot of the votes must have been based on "feelings" rather than facts or other motives must have been a factor. But hey, I am irritated by the fact that you Rhobite, somebody who is affected by the spam every single day, as one of Wikipedias first line of defense against link spam is against the use of the attribute.

Anything that makes your live easier without violating any of your basic beliefs and opinions should be welcomed and even embraced by you. Is the spam problem not that bad? You should know the best. Please tell me.

Btw, I think you did a great job fixing the grammar of my additions to the Affiliate marketing article about a month ago. You have great language skills and you should use those skills more often on article content than on wasting it on banal Link Spam removals.

I am working on improving my writing skills though (it is my second language after all). Thanks. --roy<sac> Talk! .oOo. 09:23, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Stevietheman In a democracy, or rather, a wikicracy, no one person can decide which votes to accept and which to set aside. We all apply our own value judgments when voting. The bottom line is that the wikicracy said we're not doing nofollow, and that's that. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Work 22:39, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Roy You are absolutely right about the democracy. The voting/election process in a democracy is essentially very simple. Everybody that is part of the society has one vote. All votes are counted equal. The value of a vote can not be reduced or increased based on qualitative criteria. Emotions and feelings influence our decisions (votes) although most people try to be as objective as possible when it comes to that.

I just noticed for that particular vote, that emotions and feelings must have played a major role, because the objective information that were available at the same time and should have played a major role during the decision making process are conflicting the actual votes.

"wikicracy said" ... "and that's that" sounds very absolute to me. Things that involve larger groups of human beings have the tendency to change over time. Those changes make it necessary for everybody to frequently check and adjust our opinions on things. Those changes can verify existing opinions, but can also make it necessary to question an opinion as a whole and change completely. Ignoring the changes and the refusal to check if the current opinion is still as valid as before lead to no good in the past.

The World History is full of cases where absolutism, ignorance and stagnatism caused a lot of pain and suffering, to eventually end very sudden and very violent.--roy<sac> Talk! .oOo. 04:22, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Stevietheman Even as somebody who detests link spam, I have always objected to using "rel=nofollow". The central reason is that by using it, Wikipedia is basically saying "We wish to not contribute any information to search engines that may aid in people finding the material they are seeking." In short, this would be an anti-search, anti-Internet move in my opinion. The value of search comes from how web documents relate to each other. Extricating the tremendously important resource that is the Wikipedia from this overall process would in turn remove a lot of value from Internet search. And I will jump up and down and up and down again if that helps in preventing the Wikipedia from ever making such a foolhardy decision to implement nofollow.

Now, add to the above the other common reasons for being against it, including "doing this won't really deter spam", which I also agree with. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Work 22:36, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Summarizing Statement and Conclusion

Roy I disagree on the statements that the rel=nofollow are anti-search and anti-Internet. I agree that it will have some impact on search, to be precise, search results at Google.com. It will be a positive and negative impact with the negative one further declining over time to something negligible.

The positive impact is, that the junk that is currently in Wikipedia will loose ranking and be replaced by hopefully more relevant content in the Google SERP's (I am referring to ANY part/page of the Wikipedia site that is accessible by the public, not just articles).

The negative impact is, that good content that is being linked to will drop (may be) as well, but I strongly believe that when it comes to highly relevant and good external sources linked to from active and live article pages will be marginal.
"Real" high quality content sites and pages have very often a pretty high and honest (intended) PageRank. The loss of the vote by the one link from Wikipedia will have little or no impact.

Furthermore, PageRank is very specific to Google. Ranking based on "Back Links" evaluation are a very small factor for the Yahoo! Search Engine and virtually none for MSN. Google is the only SE where it really matters, but Google has a 50-60% market share.

The rel=nofollow attribute was introduced by Google itself for sites that meet certain criteria. Wikipedia is certainly fitting the description of sites where Google recommends the use of the attribute. This contradicts the statement that the use of the rel=nofollow attribute is being anti-search.

Anti-Internet is also not being the case, on the contrary, it is as Pro-Internet as it can possibly get. Links to other Websites were never intended for programs and scripts. They were meant for human visitors from the beginning. The rel=nofollow attribute will not change this but remind people of the true purpose of linking between websites. Back to the Roots.

This Article from Gary McHugh called "Stinking Linking Thinking" from a month ago hits the Nail on the Head. It explains very well the original intentions for the use of the HREF HTML Tag. A friendly reminder for everybody who has all but forgotten this after all those years of mutilation , rape and abuse of those beautifully simple and user friendly tools.

Last but not least, I still would like to know some facts and details that made you come to the following opinion: "doing this won't really deter spam". So far does it look only like a believe or feeling to me without any objective grounds to stand on. I hope you can help me with that one. --roy<sac> Talk! .oOo. 05:39, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Roy Here is an interesting post about the "nofollow" attribute by Matt Cutts (Who is a Senior Engineer at Google). He bloged about it here. Arguments coming from such a highly knowledgable and respected authority might convince some of you more than I was able to. --roy<sac> Talk! .oOo. 13:07, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject:Spam Opinions and Facts wanted (Invitation)

After writing longer and longer invitations to join the discussion and provide input and idata on some Wikipedians Talk pages did I end up with this rather long one which I intend to continue to post on other Users Talk Pages from whom I believe to be able to contribute to the collection of facts and past experiences. I encourage anybody who wants to help and knows a Wikipedian who might be able to provide valuable input for this cause, to grab this paragraph and post it and the Wikipediants Talk Page or simply link to it. Here is the Link Code

Opinions and Facts wanted (Invitation)</u>]]
The Link will look like this: WikiProject:Spam Opinions and Facts wanted (Invitation)

Hello my fellow Wikipedian!
I know the following text is long (no kiddin'), but I thought I'd rather present the details upfront than having you guessing them. There is no "Due Date" which means, that there is no need to rush and the need of dropping the things you are currently doing :). I'd rather have you take your time with it when you have it and are also in the mood for it, than rushing over it without giving it much thought and dumping it on the done pile.

Introduction and Summary

I am looking for Wikipedians that are interested in and knowledgeable about the Issue of Link Spam at Wikipedia to express their opinion about some of my recommendations to reduce it based on my research and experiences with it due to my professional background. I believe, that you one of them, that fits the "profile" perfectly :).

My Opinion and my Request to you

It seems to be an "old" and "done" subject, Even a vote about 15 months ago was conducted about it. All what I found out and collected about it makes it seem like an open issue rather than a thing that was settled for good. Too few facts were presented and not much (if any) quantifiable/measurable information were provided.
I would like you do go over the stuff I collected and consolidated so far and provide your point of view regarding this. If you have already done so in the past, simply reference to it that I can check it out.

I am also looking for some statistical information to be able to assess the real extent of the problem (and not just the felt one) as well as it's development over an extended period of time. If you have already anything like this or know how to get it, let me know. If you don't, but can point me into directions and/or people that can, let me know as well.


It's really appreciated. You can get technical with me, I have the necessary background for it. You can check that on my User Page. I come the Microsoft/IIS/SQL Server/VB/.NET Environment, but I have some general understanding of the technology and ideas behind it which are mostly platform independent. I do know basic PHP and also installed recently the latest MediaWiki Version 1.5.8 and MySQL Server for Windows Version 5.0.19 on a Windows 2003 Server with IIS6 and PHP5 Extension. I can use this installation for some Tests or Script Development which den might be used at the Live Wikipedia. Probably Scripts for Data Collection and Assessment only. I do not intend to develop anything to make changes to processes and features of Wikipedia.org. If it happens that something that could be used in the future comes out of it, fine. I do not intend to write anything for myself, whatever comes out of it will be Public Domain (Open Source without any restriction for it's use at all).

My Intensions and Goals

I wrote similar Invitations on Talk Pages of other Wikipedia I came across, but this one is the most detailed version of it in regards to explaining my intentions and purpose of the whole thing in great length and depth. I would appreciate, if you would invite other interested Wikipedians that are authorities in this area to give their input as well. I would like to keep the ones, that only know little details and have only general/common knowledge about this kind of stuff out of the discussion for now to prevent it from getting dispersed right at the beginning and turned into a rhetoric discussion. Nothing will come out of it, if only one "belief" group argues against another, based on speculations and feeling rather than facts and solid numbers. An open for all discussion will have to happen at some point in time, but it should be later, when enough data and information are available to have some solid ground for a general discussion for everybody that gets at least a chance to end in actions that will benefit everybody at Wikipedia and its many users in the long run.

Sincerely --roy<sac> Talk! .oOo. 05:41, 20 April 2006 (UTC)