Stop the COICA Bill


The Senate Judiciary Committee has before it a bill called “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” or COICA that would allow censorship of the Internet.

This is a draconian law that one would expect from a dictatorship. It is supposed to stop copyright infringement, but it will only impact honset people. People who are really trying to steal content will have no difficulties getting over these technical hurdles.

If this passes, our Internet could theoretically become like China’s, with sites taken down without any due process. Only our rulers will be the commercial interests who are behind this bill.

From the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation):

The “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) is an Internet censorship bill which is rapidly making its way through the Senate. Although it is ostensibly focused on copyright infringement, an enormous amount of noninfringing content, including political and other speech, could disappear off the Web if it passes.

The main mechanism of the bill is to interfere with the Internet’s domain name system (DNS), which translates names like “” or “” into the IP addresses that computers use to communicate. The bill creates two blacklists of censored domains. The first is longer, and includes any sites where the DOJ decides that infringement is “central” to the purpose of the site. The bill gives ISPs and registrars strong legal incentives to censor the domains on that list. The Attorney General can also ask a court to put sites on a second, shorter blacklist; ISPs and registrars are required by law to censor those sites.

If this bill passes, the list of targets could conceivably include hosting websites such as Dropbox, MediaFire and Rapidshare; MP3 blogs and mashup/remix music sites like SoundCloud, MashupTown and Hype Machine ; and sites that discuss and make the controversial political and intellectual case for piracy, like, p2pnet, InfoAnarchy, Slyck and ZeroPaid . Indeed, had this bill been passed five or ten years ago, YouTube might not exist today. In other words, the collateral damage from this legislation would be enormous. (Why would all these sites be targets?)

There are already laws and procedures in place for taking down sites that violate the law. This act would allow the Attorney General to censor sites even when no court has found they have infringed copyright or any other law.

How You Can Help

For more information, go to the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) COICA page.

To help stop this, click “Take Action” on the right side of the EFF page to email your Senator.

Letter From Internet Engineers

Here’s a letter from Internet Engineers (basically the people who invented the Internet):

We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We’re just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.

We are writing to oppose the Committee’s proposed new Internet censorship and copyright bill. If enacted, this legislation will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS), create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. In exchange for this, the bill will introduce censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ ability to communicate.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but this bill will be particularly egregious in that regard because it causes entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under this bill. These problems will be enough to ensure that alternative name-lookup infrastructures will come into widespread use, outside the control of US service providers but easily used by American citizens. Errors and divergences will appear between these new services and the current global DNS, and contradictory addresses will confuse browsers and frustrate the people using them. These problems will be widespread and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government.

The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open Internet, both domestically and abroad. We can’t have a free and open Internet without a global domain name system that sits above the political concerns and objectives of any one government or industry. To date, the leading role the US has played in this infrastructure has been fairly uncontroversial because America is seen as a trustworthy arbiter and a neutral bastion of free expression. If the US suddenly begins to use its central position in the DNS for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.

Senators, we believe the Internet is too important and too valuable to be endangered in this way, and implore you to put this bill aside.

Bogus Search Engine Optimization Services

As an owner of websites, I regularly get email like this:


I am Maria, Business Development Manager.

I went to your website: “” and saw that you are an online service provider.

Would you be interested in outsourcing Link Building Services to us? We will be happy to deliver one way thematic links for any theme and numbers. We have delivered over 40,000 links to various retail and agency clients spread over different verticals.


* Links from Unique IP’s

* Regular Caching sites

* Less Outbound Links

* Start pricing USD 1.5 only

We have our quality department checking each and every link as per the quality parameters.

We would pick the exact anchor text and will be happy to provide a choice of using as many anchors as you want. Besides all our links pass thorough the quality parameters set for link building ensuring only high quality link building for a website.

Do let me know if you are interested and we would be happy to discuss this further.

For more info you can visit our website URL: – [removed]

I look forward to your Positive response.

Kind Regards,

Name: – Maria

Post: – Business Development Manager

E-mail:- maria@[removed]

NONE of these services are legitimate. There are two possible things these companies do:

1) They could just take your money and do nothing.

2) Or they could do something worse than nothing. Some companies actually try to do what they say, creating “Link Building Services.” One of the elements of the Google PageRank algorithm is how many links there are to your site. By putting your link on a bunch of sites, they attempt to game the Google PageRank algorithm and improve your search ranking. The problem with this is that Google isn’t stupid. Google can easily and automatically identify bogus links from link farms. Google can then penalize you by lowering your search rank or removing you completely from their search results, the mark of death on the Internet.

Even if these little companies could outsmart Google, it’s a sleazy business. To improve your site’s search results, write good content and get legitimate links. For more information on Search Engine Optimization and PageRank, see our post Google SEO and Other Search Engine Results Performance Suggestions.

Custom Computer Parts List For Windows 7 PC

I just built a PC that I wanted to be small-ish, quiet, powerful enough to play the latest games, and reasonably priced. While one can spend many hundreds more and eek out a bit more performance, the additional gains will be minimal. This setup plays current games, including my favorite Starcraft 2, like a champ and costs under $1370 as of this writing:

Parts List

Samsung XL-2370-1 23-Inch Widescreen LED LCD Monitor $310

Intel Core i3 CPU i3-530 2.93GHz $114

MSI N460GTX Cyclone768D5/OC 768 MB Overclocked Graphics Card $185

Corsair CMPSU-450VX 450-Watt Power Supply $70

Corsair 4GB DDR3 RAM $94

SilverStone MicroATX Midsize Tower Case TJ08B $95

OCZ 60 GB Vertex 2 Solid State Drive (SSD) $150

Gigabyte GA-H57M-USB3 Motherboard $120

Lite-On 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive $25

SIIG USB Mini Keyboard $22

Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX $80

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit System Builder $100

Fake Shipping Alert

Be careful of fake emails pretending to be from your bank or shopping sites. Many are phishing scams trying to get your personal information. To avoid those scams, it’s best to go directly to the site instead of clicking to the site from an email.

Other fake emails are trying to infect your computer with a virus. This fake email with a shipping alert has been making the rounds lately:

Subject: Shipping Notification

Message Body:

Shipping Notification Thank you for shopping with us. We look forward to serving you again.

The following is your receipt. Please retain a copy for your records.
Qty  Item no  Description  Price  S&H  Tax  Return
1 FC864-2038B Msg Drma7303 White 650.99 6.95 3.37 ____

Merchandise total 650.99
Shipping and handling 6.95
Tax on mdse 6.75% 3.37
Invoice total 706.31

Welcome to the convenience of shopping JCPenney Catalog

Doing a web search, we confirmed that this was malicious from Cisco Security:

Cisco Security Intelligence Operations has detected significant activity related to spam e-mail messages that claim to contain a shipping notification attachment for the recipient.  The text in the e-mail message instructs the recipient to open the attached file to view the notification.  However, the .zip attachment contains a malicious .exe file that, when executed, attempts to infect the targeted system with malicious code.

E-mail messages that are related to this threat (RuleID2979) may contain the following files:

Shipping Notification.exe

Dropbox Automator Service for Saving Selected Text

Always looking for new uses for Dropbox, I came across a couple of sites showing the same tip: 1) It’s All Tech’s How to automatically copy your Mac OS X clipboard to Dropbox and 2) Tip #1 in this MacOSXTutorials12 video.

What it Does

Essentially this is a way for Max OS X users to select text somewhere and then quickly append it to a text file in Dropbox. That might be a faster way, for example, to make note of things you find while web browsing. Or you might use it to add part of a PDF file to Dropbox without the extra clicks needed to create a new text document.

My Additions

I liked the tip but wanted to make a few improvements. I wanted to:

  1. Make the script work. The cat command needs two “>” in order to append instead of overwrite a file.
  2. Add date and time information to the text selection that I was appending.
  3. List the text selections in reverse chronological order, meaning that the most recent is at the top.

How to Make It

This is the Automator Service script that I used:

echo —“$(date)”— > ~/Text-Clips-temp.txt
cat >> ~/Text-Clips-temp.txt
cat ~/Dropbox/Text-Clips.txt >> ~/Text-Clips-temp.txt
mv ~/Text-Clips-temp.txt ~/Dropbox/Text-Clips.txt

Only Works in Some Applications

Unfortunately not all apps can use Automator Services. Only apps written in Cocoa, as Apple does with most of its apps, will work. This means that Safari, Mail, Preview, Calendar, and Address Book will work. Most other apps including Chrome and Firefox will not.

Side Notes

That this isn’t using the Mac OS X clipboard, as the tips I found stated. We’re selecting text and then using a service on it. The text is never copied or cut so it’s not in the clipboard.

Even though this tip is described as for Dropbox, there is nothing Dropbox specific except that the location of the text file happens to be in the Dropbox folder. Dropbox makes the service useful since you can have access to the text file from other locations. But this tip will work on any text file.

If you’re new to Dropbox, please use our Dropbox referral to set it up. It will give you an additional 250MB and give the same to us. Now Dropbox referrals will allow you to get up to 10GB for free, a great deal for your backup and sharing files needs.

What do you think?

If you have any suggestions to improve this Automator Service or to better use Dropbox, let me know.