November 20: Cyrus on CBC’s Spark

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my piece on the recent UCLA conference on the 40th anniversary of the Internet is airing this week on CBC’s Spark!

It will be available on CBC Radio 1 at the following times:

Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. (12:00 NT)
Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. (4:30 NT)

If you find yourself outside the reach of the CBC’s antennae, feel free to listen to it online, here, or of course, via podcast.

EFF goes after Volomedia podcasting patent

Remember the announcement earlier this summer about how a Silicon Valley company had patented podcasting?

Not surprisingly, the EFF is none too thrilled about this:

EFF and the law firm of Howrey, LLP aren’t willing to just sit by and watch. This patent could threaten the vibrant community of podcasters and millions of podcast listeners. We want to put a stop to it, but we need your help.

The Volomedia patent covers “a method for providing episodic media.” It’s a ridiculously broad patent, covering something that many folks have been doing for many years. Worse, it could create a whole new layer of ongoing costs for podcasters and their listeners. Right now, just about anyone can create their own on-demand talk radio program, earning an audience on the strength of their ideas. But more costs and hassle means that podcasting could go the way of mainstream radio — with only the big guys able to afford an audience. And we’d have a bogus patent to blame.

AP: Iran forms unit to go after opposition on Internet

The Associated Press, November 14 2009:

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has formed a special unit to monitor Web sites and fight Internet crimes, in a clear attack on an opposition that relies almost exclusively on online means to broadcast its message, local newspapers reported Saturday.

Police Col. Mehrdad Omidi, who heads the Internet crime unit, said the committee will fight “insults and the spreading of lies,” terms widely used by the judiciary to describe opposition activities.

“Given the spread of Internet use, police must confront crimes taking place in the Web atmosphere,” he said. “A special committee has been set up to monitor the Internet and deal with crimes … such as fraud, … insults and the spreading of lies.”

Omidi specifically said the 12-member unit will intervene in “political matters on the Internet should there be an illegal act.” The official said the unit will operate under the direction of the prosecution office.

Iranian authorities have banned most Web sites linked to Iran’s opposition or those containing articles supporting the reform movement. The opposition has continued to set up new Web sites within days of the old ones being blocked.

November 13: Cyrus on The California Report

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my piece on the creation of the world’s longest California roll, is airing today on, appropriately enough, The California Report.

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams):

FRI – San Francisco – 4:30/6:30/11 pm Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM –
SUN – Los Angeles – 10:30 pm Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg

You can also find it on The California Report site later in the day and on my site if you miss the broadcast.

Longest California Roll record returns to the Golden State

Yesterday afternoon, I reported on the creation of the longest California Roll yesterday for an upcoming edition of The California Report. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley. The new record, set at 330 feet, apparently defeated the old record set in Hawaii in 2001 by 30 feet.

I interviewed student Zach Brown, Chef Ming Hwang, Prof. Duncan Williams, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine, who certified the new record.

NBC, AP, Oakland Tribune, The Daily Californian all have stories up, too.

It was pretty freakin’ rad.

Taco Truck Tour #2: Foothill Blvd. Edition (Nov. 22, 2009)

After the success of October’s taco truck tour, it’s time for another!

Taco Truck Tour Numéro Dos:

When: Sunday, November 22, 2009
Meet: 12:30 pm, Lake Merritt BART station (9th and Oak St., Oakland).
Start: ~ 12:45 pm
End: ~ 3:30 pm ish, Fruitvale BART station
Twitter: @catacotrucks / #tacotrucktour

Itinerary (follow along at Oakland Taco Truck Map 2007)

1) Tacos Alonzo at Foothill Blvd./27th Ave.
2) Tacos El Mazatlan at Foothill Blvd./Fruitvale Ave.
3) Tamales Mi Lupita at Foothill Blvd./34th Ave.
4) Tacos El Tio Juan at Foothill Blvd./41st Ave.
5) Nieves Cinco de Mayo (ice cream) at 3340 E 12th St.

When it’s all said and done, feel free to bike or BART home. Anyone is welcome to join up or leave at anytime, obviously.

Afterwards, I might even be up for a beer at The Trappist (8th/B’way, downtown Oakland).

Bring: bike, helmet, $10-$15 for tacos+ice cream, camera if you want to document the deliciousness

RSVP: Email me cyrus [at] californiatacotrucks [dot] com. Put “Fruitvale taco truck bike tour” in the subject line.

All are welcome!

Islamic conservative authorized Internet for Iran in 1989

So I just got off a Skype call with Farhad Ardalan to learn more about the early days of the Iranian Internet back in 1989. It wasn’t until 1992 that Iran was connected via EARN to the Internet.

Fun fact: According to Ardalan, the man who authorized Iran’s first Internet connection was Mohammad-Javad Larijani (pictured). At the time, Larijani was the director of the Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics in Tehran. He is currently an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and heads the human rights council in the Judiciary department.

If the name Larijani sounds familiar, it’s because his brothers have also held important roles in the Iranian government. One of his brothers, Ali Larijani, was the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator and is currently speaker of the Iranian parliament.

However, his other brother, Sadeq Larijani, is the new head of the Iranian Judiciary. He’s the one that Hossein Derakhshan’s father, Hassan Derakhshan, recently wrote a letter to, trying to get more information about his detained son.

All three are the progeny of the late Grand Ayatollah Hashem Amoli Larijani.

GoDaddy renewed for one year “as a courtesy”

Yesterday, on MetaFilter, readers figured out that was about to expire at the end of this month and they wanted to make sure that it stayed in Hossein Derakhshan’s name. Some had suggested that they wouldn’t allow the domain to be renewed until he did it himself — and he obviously can’t as he’s in prison. However, later in the day, the domain’s whois records showed that someone had renewed it for a year, but it was unclear how or why.

To figure out what was up, I spoke with GoDaddy’s general counsel, Christine Jones.

She told me that given the extenuating circumstances of this situation, they decided to renew the domain for a year. This is not a usual policy for the company.

“So, we had some activity around this name, either people that follow the blog, or people who just were friends of his or acquaintances who noticed that the domain was going to expire,” she said. “Some of those people contacted us and because it didn’t seem like he was going to give over permission to somebody to renew his name before the expiration, we went ahead and renewed it as a courtesy.”

She added that if this happens again in a year and he doesn’t renew it or give anyone else access, the domain will expire. In this case, she advises that Derakhshan give his username and password to a trusted friend or family member so that they can access the account and renew it for him. Alternatively, they’ll need the last six digits of the credit card that was used.

She also noted that it’s not possible for friends or other people to donate money to to renew it on his behalf.

“It seems sort of draconian as we’re talking about this one domain that you’re using as an example, but if you take the bigger picture, it might help you understand why we have to be very black and white about this,” she said. “We do have situations where people say: ‘Hey let me send you money so that we can renew’ and the gentleman who is the registrant of doesn’t want it to be renewed. And that happens from time to time.”

Kudos to GoDaddy for helping out Derakhshan, even in a small way.

Pith helmets: cool again in California

John and Andy (in order of geographic proximity to me)–

As an unfashionable Californian, I’m a little bit ashamed to think that some high-end California hat store is now selling pith helmets. I wish I was joking.

As the Los Angeles Times reports:

While I didn’t think it was quite the appropriate headgear for that evening’s black-tie wedding, it fits in nicely with the explorer/desert military vibe that labels like Versace and Galliano had embraced for their Spring/Summer 2010 men’s runway collections in Europe earlier this year.

Now, I’m not advocating that when next spring rolls around everyone should chuck that stingy brim fedora and go all safari, but if global warming trends continue, a tree bark topper is certainly one low-tech, old-school option for keeping a cool head with a dash of retro-explorer style.

This is exactly why I don’t live in Los Angeles anymore — because people there think pith helmets “fit in nicely with that whole explorer vibe.”


Yours in non-pithed buglarity,

-Cyrus (suh-ROOS)
Oakland, California