The Null Device
The world's oldest continuously operating family business, a Japanese temple-building company founded in 578, went out of business last year. Over the 1,428 years it operated, Kongo Gumi was headed by 40 generations of the Kongo family, and continuously built Buddhist temples, with the exception of a period during World War 2 during which it made coffins.
How do you make a family business last for 14 centuries? Kongo Gumi's case suggests that it's a good idea to operate in a stable industry. Few industries could be less flighty than Buddhist temple construction. The belief system has survived for thousands of years and has many millions of adherents. With this firm foundation, Kongo had survived some tumultuous times, notably the 19th century Meiji restoration when it lost government subsidies and began building commercial buildings for the first time. But temple construction had until recently been a reliable mainstay, contributing 80% of Kongo Gumi's $67.6 million in 2004 revenues.I wonder what the current oldest continuously running family business is.
(via Boing Boing)
In Britain, the police are arresting people for accessing open wireless access points without permission:
The man arrested at the weekend was cautioned for dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services with intent to avoid payment.According to the authorities, accessing wireless networks without permission is, much like downloading MP3s and skipping ads on TV, theft:
"Gaining unauthorised access to someone else's network is an offence and people have to take responsibility for their actions. Some people might argue that taking a joy-ride in someone else's car is not an offence either," he said.Not only that, but leaving your access point open for strangers to use is strongly discouraged; not only is it taking away business from commercial service providers (a cardinal sin in Thatcherism-Blairism), but it is giving paedoterrorists a convenient rock to hide under:
"There have been incidences where paedophiles deliberately leave their wireless networks open so that, if caught, they can say that is wasn't them that used the network for illegal purposes," said NetSurity's Mr Cracknell.
Such a defence would hold little water as the person installing the network, be they a home user or a business, has ultimate responsibility for any criminal activity that takes place on that network, whether it be launching a hack attack or downloading illegal pornography.I wonder whether that would hold up in court; could someone be successfully prosecuted for a crime committed by a stranger using their unsecured network? Perhaps a new crime of "facilitating evasion of surveillance" would be appropriate?
The BBC article provides the following helpful advice to anyone with a wireless access point wishing to avoid ending up on the Sex Offenders' Register:
There are many different types of security options available - but the most basic is to give the network a Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) key.
While not totally secure, WEP keys do at least provide a modicum of security to thwart all but the most technically-literate hackers.Well, them and any script kiddie who can download a WEP cracking program and run it for a few minutes.