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Seems there must be a vulnerability in older versions of Drupal 4.7.x. I'm not exactly certain what happened, but by injecting something into the create user page, someone was able to gain access to UID 1... (the administration account).

Everything is upgraded and back to normal now, but I'm worried about a SSH session that I happened to notice going on with someone in China this morning. I've blackholed that entire network and am running a tripwire for anything suspicious.

This song is dedicated to my good old friend, the media man:

'Cookie Jar' by jack johnson

I would turn on the TV but it's so embarrassing
To see all the other people I don't know what they mean
And it was magic at first when they spoke without sound
But now this world is gonna hurt you better turn that thing down
Turn it around

"It wasn't me", says the boy with the gun
"Sure I pulled the trigger but it needed to be done
Cause life's been killing me ever since it begun
You cant blame me cause I'm too young"

"You can't blame me sure the killer was my son
But I didn't teach him to pull the trigger of the gun

Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Minister Valli Moosa's 2002 Budget Vote Speech

It's not really news, nor yet history, but I hope the sentiments expressed in this speech (full speech link above... excerpted below) are carried through by the SA government.

A lot of people seem intent on a full curriculum revisal to cater for the constructivist learning methodologies which the OLPC embraces -by it's very nature- before embarking on large scale distribution of the "little green machine" to developing countries.

Distributing the XO on a large scale and letting children /discover/ it's potentials is the fundamental first principal of "the vision"; but I agree that it can't be done blind: and it's not.

What few people seem to factor into their thinking -or adoption plans- is that the envisioned economy of scale drives not only the bottom-line pricing of the XO, but also the collaboration, cooperation and creation (on an unprecedented scale) of educational content and workable methodologies.

Even this doesn't scare me too much... yet...:

Chicago Developing 'Suspicious Behavior' Monitoring System

"Over the past few years, Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has been blanketing the city with a network of thousands of video cameras in an effort to remotely keep track of emergencies in real time. Now, with the help of IBM, the network is getting some smarts. IBM software will analyze the video and ultimately 'recognize suspicious behavior,' says OEMC spokesman Kevin Smith. 'The challenge is going to be teaching computers to recognize the suspicious behavior,' said Smith. 'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'"

"Sony and the University of Alabama are working on a gigapixel resolution camera for improved satellite surveillance. It can see 10-km-square from an altitude of 7.5 kilometres with a resolution better than 50 centimetres per pixel. As well as removing annoying artefacts created by tiling images in Google Earth and similar, it should allow CCTV surveillance of entire cities with one camera. 'The trick is to build an array of light sensitive chips that each record small parts of a larger image and place them at the focal plane of a large multiple-lens system. The camera would have gigapixel resolution, and able to record images at a rate of 4 frames per second. The team suggests that such a camera mounted on an aircraft could provide images of a large city by itself. This would even allow individual vehicles to be monitored without any danger of losing them as they move from one ground level CCTV system to another.'"

Letter to Xolobeni IAPs re Revised Scoping - September 2007 Final

The most significant change in the Revised Environmental Scoping Report is therefore the exclusion of the smelter from the Xolobeni Heavy Mineral Sands Project. This implies that the smelter will no longer be considered as part of the project and will also not be assessed in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The Xolobeni Mineral Sands project is situated approximately 250 km south west of Durban and approximately 60 km south east of Mbizana and 30 km south of Port Edward in the Eastern Cape Province. The prospecting activities undertaken by TEM have indicated the feasibility of mining heavy minerals in the area. In accordance with the requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the regulations promulgated under Section 24 of the National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998) (NEMA), an Environmental Scoping Report was compiled and submitted to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) on 
25 May 2007.

Government eyes out One Laptop per Child

By Alastair Otter
www.tectonic.co.za

The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project got a lot of attention from important government members at the Software Freedom Day celebrations on Saturday.

In this picture we have (left to right) Aslam Rafee, CIO of the SA department of science and technology, Maria Farelo, policy, strategy and regulations office of the government CIO of the department of public service and adminsitration, Karl Fischer, also of DST and the chief Software Freedom Day cheerleader, and Derek Hanekom, deputy minister of science and technology.

Thanks to Dre for this info:

To give a sense of how dramatic the (climatic) changes have been over the last 28 years, the figures below show the minimum ice extent in September 1979, and the situation today (Aug 9, 2007)

The reduction is around 1.2 million square km of ice, a little bit larger than the size of California and Texas combined.

Pasted from <http://www.realclimate.org/

Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri announced that no undersea cable will be allowed to land in SA and provide cheaper broadband unless it is majority owned by local or African investors. It is not clear how this condition squares with the Government's wider commitment to liberalised markets. The move has also prompted Seacom to pull out of building its proposed East African cable and is everything that detractors of the South African Government feared would happen.

The South African move is designed to get EASSy to fall into line with the NEPAD Protocol, of which the South African Government has been the strongest supporter. The industry awaits a final set of guidelines from the Ministry. The South Africans have already led moves behind the scenes to try and get the region's incumbents to withdraw from the EASSy project.

History of Teaching
In a Montessori classroom the child’s freedom, dignity and independence are of paramount importance to allow them to develop as individuals.

There should be a general atmosphere of children doing things for themselves carefully and competently – pouring drinks, washing hands, serving food, carrying their own chairs – and participating in activities that absorb and interest them. With all activities the emphasis is placed on the process being most important rather than the end result being perfect, for this reason the Montessori materials are self-correcting, i.e. the adult doesn’t have to point out a mistake the child can see for themselves and correct it accordingly.

Nasdaq-listed networking giant Cisco Systems has become the first US hi-tech company to sell shares in its business to local black investors. Cisco has shunned the route of equity equivalents, which lets multinationals avoid selling any shares by pumping cash into social development schemes. Instead, Cisco is selling shares in its parent company to the local Lereko consortium, led by Valli Moosa and Popo Molefe.

The price Lereko will pay for its shares has already been fixed, but will be whittled down if the political and business clout of its members opens doors and grows the local subsidiaries above some preset targets. Moosa is a former environmental affairs and tourism minister, while Molefe is a former premier of the North West province and provincial chairman of the African National Congress.

South Africa votes against Microsoft new document file format

(I'm kinda surprised they didn't insist on equity in M$)

Last weekend South Africa voted against a Microsoft proposal to have a new document file format adopted as an international standard. Whatever the outcome of the vote, the process has provided a fascinating insight into the threats facing Microsoft.

If you've used Office 2007, the latest version of Microsoft's hegemonic productivity suite, you'll have noticed that it saves files in a new file format that is incompatible with previous versions of the software. Most users simply regard it as an inconvenience: to send documents to people using older versions of the software, Office 2007 users have to manually specify that documents be saved in Microsoft's previous file format.

Those burning villages in Darfur can now be tracked closely by public satellite. Google's project in Darfur uses its Google Earth project to identify and then illustrate where human rights abuses have been committed.

Satellites first showed their potential as human rights watchdogs when the U.S. State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) started using images from free channels in 2004 to reveal the unfolding violence in Darfur. Before then, such images could only be tracked by military satellites.

But now such tracking has become open to the public. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum teamed up with Google's mapping service in April to track violence in the region. The initiative called 'Crisis in Darfur' lets Internet users look at more than 1,600 destroyed villages and towns in northeast Africa, pictured before and after attacks, and hear testimonies collected by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other groups along the Chad border. According to Google, the programme counts more than 200 million users.

The Kenyan Government is talking up the sale of Telkom Kenya but has so far failed to deliver the difficult bit. Investors will not want to take on the political liability of a making redundant large numbers of the work force. They will expect Government to clear this piece of unfinished business before stepping in with new investment.

Telkom's performance data seen by the Business Daily shows the company incurred losses amounting to $100 million (Sh7 billion) between 2003 and last year. The losses, however, are unlikely to deter interest in the 51 per cent stake on offer because it is part of the data contained in the prospectus being presented to potential partners.

"If the South African Government has this responsibility, why has it not exercised it over Telkom's SAT3 prices? The Department of Communications talks the talk but does not walk the walk."

The sole active supporter of the NEPAD-backed Broadband Infrastructure Project that will never be built, the South African Government is trying to arm-twist EASSy because the project has slipped free of NEPAD control. This is the arrogant display of naked political power that those who have not signed the NEPAD political protocol feared would occur if the larger African brother failed to get its way.

Doctor Daniel Mashao, the chief technology officer at Sita (the South African State Information Technology Agency), announced the launch of the government-wide free and open source programme at the GovTech conference on Thursday.

While many welcomed the February announcement of government's intention to adopt and promote open source software, the subsequent months saw disillusionment within the open source community that very little had actually happened.

Mashao addressed these worries, describing what had been happening behind the scenes and showing a systematic timetable of how this process will indeed be implemented.

Mr M. slapped a pupil in the face at the assembly before close of school yesterday.

I don't know what the kid did to deserve that treatment - but corporal punishment is against the law in this country. And what he did more-or-less constitutes assault, anyway. To the same extent I was assaulted by police in the charge office last year.

He wouldn't have realized that I was watching... while setting up email for a couple of students on the side of the classroom facing the courtyard.

It brings back all sorts of bad memories and I will confront him. He's the authoritarian despot I thought I'd have a problem with. "Yes Teacher!"

Maybe I'm being a bit dumb... but I don't see the point of registering here:

http://www.edusource.co.za/dokuwiki/doku.php

"How to use the site

Registration
Registration is Mandatory Visitor : Create a logon for yourself and browse through the site. Contributor :You can edit existing categories only (this is to prevent duplication and to ensure that the layout for certain main categories remains the same) Creator :You can create additional categories, edit and delete (this membership is at the discretion of Eduwiki)

This is the start of a plan to collate and 'digitalize' comic content for the OLPC XOs and for the primary education sector in general.

A lot of NGOs have created comics on everything from Aids Awareness to alternative technologies.

I would like to get information about NGOs and organisations which have comics which can be licensed under Creative Commons . . . and solicit contributions of any comic material available... Perhaps there's already something like this underway somewhere?

From here this project will move to the wiki on www.laptop.org.za/wiki

The Shift Thank Tank happened in April already - but these were some things I picked up around this area that were interesting. To me.

http://www.wikieducator.org/Tectonic_shift_think_tank

http://www.wikieducator.org/Free_Textbooks

"In the midst of conflict and suffering, humankind is laying the foundation for a planetary civilization. The foundation is made of our stories about the world, the narrative of existence -- and when we feel especially confident about it, we like to call it knowledge. We share a responsibility to ensure that the foundation is stable, that it can be built upon forever, that it is owned by all of us. I am confident that we can achieve this together, and am looking forward to meeting you. -- Peace & Love, Erik"

Interesting stuff from: www.balancingact-africa.com

- South African state owned telecoms operator InfraCo has appointed Mark Shuttleworth to its board.

- In South Africa, the Department of Communications is demanding that the international owners of Seacom, the US$500 million undersea fibreoptic cable project intended to link South Africa with Europe and Asia, sell equity to local companies before it can operate locally. -Balancing Act

- According to the Ethiopan paper the Daily Mirror, Cisco, was set to provide faster broadband services, free of charge, as part of efforts to curb and ameliorate the "broadband" internet connection service currently rendered by the Ethiopian telecommunication Corporation (ETC).


This morning there was a pair of humpbacks mating just off Dangerpoint. It's a really beautiful day. Daniel and Michele are coming to visit for the weekend.

-----
From last week:
This morning's walk to the Hole we encountered a malachite kingfisher and then watched a huge heron, almost hovering as he comes in so slowly, right onto "the stall", to land on a frail tipmost branch of a milkwood. He's about 40m from Chris and me, on the other side of the river; as we watch, he balances precariously and then offsets his weight in anticipation to compensate for a vigorous shake of his head. He almost falls off his perch - several times - but maintains his balance and dignity somehow. A couple of boys walk past on the other side of the river and create a perfect symmetry.

My rising sense of panic is founded on painful experience of human nature within the South African (specifically the Transkeian) context. Unfortunately the sense of urgency does nothing for my coherency or effectivity... and just appears to make me seem irrational. Too bad. I have a point.

I grew up in the Transkei, and even have (somewhere) one of the 300mm shells from the 21 gun salute on the day of independence.

People who say that the Transkei was just another bantustan really don't know much about their history: it is the cultural melting pot of the Xhosa speaking Hlubi people - and is at an intersection point of immense import - both geographically and historically.

It's not difficult to see the reasons for the failure of macro economic, consultant, committee, and project damagement driven Spatial Development "exercises". Management.

Lack of management, over-management, bad management, even /good/ management. The problem is - that was all there was... No committment. No personal stake... No entrepreneurial risks... But lots and lots of management at iniquitously disproportional rates to the bottom-end menial workers. And not just the fulltime management either, hell no. How do you think they managed to blow R85 million in five years and have nothing to show for it except a bad working model for future community based tourism developments, and a static website that the tourism industry - which it was supposed to promote - had to pay subscription fees to be listed in?! www.wildcoast.org.za

Countries that have committed to OLPC so far:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC#Participating_countries

Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Tunisia, United States of America (specifically the states of Massachusetts and Maine), Uruguay

Paul Kagame, Rwanda's president, said the initiative would strengthen the quality of already existing free and compulsory primary education, by adopting new tools for learning and engaging children more directly, both inside and outside of school.

Higher mental functions are, by definition, culturally mediated. They involve not a direct action on the world but an indirect one, one that takes a bit of material matter used previously and incorporates it as an aspect of action. Insofar as that matter itself has been shaped by prior human practice (eg it is an artefact), current action incorporates the mental work that produced the particular form of that matter. (Cole and Wertsch, 1996, p252)

"It's interesting to observe the construction process of the wide community of intellectual publishers: liberal quoting of each other's ideas, combining, arguing, extending and recombining them in order to construct our social and cultural understanding of thought, understanding and ultimately human nature."

I started teaching computers to Grades 7 - 9 at the school here this week - and it's very interesting. My plan was to focus heavily on Tux-Typing initially, but we ran into a bottleneck on the server's network card (100mb) so I had to improvise, and get people doing different things. It was difficult because the several teachers on-hand to oversee and assist were quite obstructive and intent on following a 1 teacher to many pupils type methodology.

Eventually we had a little meeting and I explained that the objective was to allow the children to learn to use the mouse and keyboard naturally - by exploring different games and drawing activities - and to my surprise I got 100% agreement and cooperation... although I suspect I have a problem with at least one teacher...