Changing Search Engines

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I’ve become increasingly concerned about Google’s storing of search data. I use various cookie blockers, page rewriters, and other tools to limit the information Google gets about me. Nonetheless I still have a static IP address that’s only shared with a few other people; and if any company has the skill and talent to aggregate search requests to build profiles of people and invade their privacy, it’s Google. Consequently, I’m switching over Firefox to use a different search engine. I thought I’d start by trying which promises not to track me. (The regular does track users.) Here’s how:

Seeking Voting Records

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

For a quick project I’m working on, I’m looking for the complete voting records of the U.S. Senate, ideally going back about 20 years. All I’ve found online so far are individual records for particular senators. What I’m looking for are the complete records for all senators on all bills in a reasonably computerized format; e.g. tab-delimited text or a spreadsheet. (XML would be even cooler, but I don’t really expect that. I can convert the data into XML if I have to.) It needs to contain senator names, party affiliations, and votes on individual bills. I also need to know whether each bill was a roll-call vote or not. Surely this is available somewhere? Any suggestions?

Dynamic IPs and Anonymous Surfing: an Open Letter to my ISP

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Dear Speakeasy folks,

I’m sure you’ve heard about AOL’s recent release of search engine data. I’m sure you also know that various other search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and MSN store their search data indefinitely. While one hopes that they take greater precautions than AOL did to protect their users, the simple fact is it’s still accessible via subpoena and search warrant, as well as system cracking, bribery, and other illegal attacks. I know none of this is your fault, of course. In fact, I suspect you’re as concerned about this as I am. However, I do need your help in your capacity as my ISP to do something about it.

Red Admiral

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Red Admiral butterfly, perched

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, north end on the westmost trail to the top of the East Pond, 2006-08-16

Ameritrade Spammers

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

You know those annoying image spams that seem to be getting through a lot of spam filters lately? Well I now have at least one company to blame for them: TD Ameritrade.

More Truth in Advertising

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006