The best of the Berkeley blogs




SIMS graduate student Sean Savage provides great technology commentary - he coined the phrase "flash mob" - but seems to have abandoned his blog of late.

A Search Bar in Firefox for California Election Code

blogging, hacks


If you use FireFox, you can create search bars for almost any search form out there. I just created one for the California Election Code.

small screen shot of CA Election Code search bar

If you frequently find yourself searching the California Election Code, you might want to simply install this search bar plugin. I'll also give a quick tutorial for how to create your own if you search a body of code frequently (like the JAVA API for all you SIMS first-years).

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Gates at Zellerbach

copyright, open source, patents, politics


Ping is a little harsh on himself about yesterday's event with Bill Gates. A few of us (Ping, myself, Arthur, Morgan, Yuri and few other students that I don't know very well) flyered the event (here is the front and back of the flyer).

Arthur has a near real-time transcript.

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How to turn off Smilies in b2evolution...

system, blogging

Have I mentioned lately that I love my blog tool, b2evo? It's bad ass.

However, it is shipped by default to render smilies within the text of the post... and, in some cases, you'll want to be turning off smilies. For example, to say "C&D" b2evo automatically replaces the "&" with & to produce, C&D. The ";D" in there is an animated smily, stupid ;D smily, and it will make your post look stupid.

Here's how you turn off smilies in b2evolution:

  1. Open up the admin view (where you edit posts, etc.)
  2. Go to "settings"
  3. Click on "plug-ins"
  4. 4. Note under "renderers" that "smilies" is "always". This means that you can never turn smilies off in the edit view of the post.
  5. Now to turn it off. Go to the plugins/renderers/ directory of your b2evo install.
  6. Open the file _smilies.renderer.php in a text editor.
  7. Find the line that says: var $apply_when = 'always';
  8. Change this line to one of the following:
    var $apply_when = 'opt-in';
    var $apply_when = 'opt-out';.
    (Changing it to "opt-in" will mean that you have to check the smilies check box in the edit post view to get smilies; "opt-out" will mean that you have to uncheck it to turn them off.)
  9. Save the file.
  10. Reload the page mentioned above in 4. Smilies should now be set to what you specified in the php file.

Diebold 512(f) Smackdown...

elections, vendors, blogging, copyright, news, secrecy, chilling effects

This is good news!

Background: I received a cease and desist from Diebold, Inc. last fall due to my having posted the email/memo archive at question in this case.

Aaron Swartz over at Copyfight points out that Stanford has a rule where if a student gets two cease-and-desist letters, their Internet connection is immediately disconnected. Note, even though the C&D that I received was withdrawn by Diebold months ago and that a Court has found that Diebold misused copyright law in sending the C&D's, if I were at Stanford, my next C&D would trigger this rule.

As Aaron says, this does not encourage the intellectual and political growth that we should encourage in students. Further, in cases like mine, this rule punishes those that test the bounds of ridiculous uses of intellectual property law.

If, however, a user subsequently receives a second notice, his or her connection is immediately disabled and the user is merely copied on the Disconnect Request.

This seems like an unreasonable and unfair punishment, considering that a DMCA request contains no actual evidence of infringement and there are no sanctions for filing a false one. It is not hard to imagine this power being abused. But Stanford provides no checks on this power; indeed, it amplifies it by quickly disconnecting the user's Internet connection. What purpose does this serve?


I thought Stanford wanted to inspire learning and creativity. As your own law professor Lawrence Lessig notes "creativity always builds on the past". Such a draconian "two complaints and you're out" policy hardly seems conducive to encouraging creativity.

Read on for some choice quotes from the OPG v. Diebold opinion.

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