For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


Libertarian Party of Texas Recruits Candidates

November 30th, 2007

lptexas.jpgEarlier this week I received an informative letter from Wes Benedict, the current executive director of the Libertarian Party of Texas. It covers several different topics, including candidate recruiting for the upcoming 2008 elections, the recent “Roundup Tour” of 25 Texas cities, the effects of the Ron Paul campaign, next year’s national convention, and the usual appeals for donations and membership renewals. For any aspiring Libertarians out there who may want to run for an office or simply request more information about the Texas LP, please contact the state party at www.tx.lp.org. Meanwhile, you can read through the latest update letter below:

Dear Texas Libertarian:

The candidate filing deadline is rapidly approaching, and so is our party’s end-of-year campaign finance reporting date.

Please return your Candidate Preference sheet and make a financial contribution today as well. If you aren’t yet a member, now is a great time to join.

Our 2007 fundraising is right on track for the first three quarters. We need a strong final quarter to meet our budget.

LP Texas 2005 2006 2007 (budget) 2007 Q1-Q3
Revenue $58,410 $110,227 $102,000 $75,746
Expenses $48,410 $115,570 $90,000 $54,120

Our revenue budget for 2007 is lower than 2006 because typically it’s easier to raise funds in even-numbered years, which are election years with lots of candidates that generate excitement.

However, if by some chance we’re able to beat our 2006 revenue in 2007, that would be significant news and prove to the public and ourselves that we are experiencing strong growth.

(For those of you following the Ron Paul for President campaign, you probably know what I mean when I describe how fundraising success builds excitement and attracts media attention. It wasn’t what Ron Paul did with the money that made news, it was the fact itself that he raised so much money.)

I have a feeling we might surpass the 2006 level because recently our State Chair, Pat Dixon, started working the phones to raise large donations so we can hire a third staff member for 2008.

We’ll be busy in 2008 with lots of campaign activity going on, and with a third staff member we’ll be able to provide more service than ever to our candidates and county organizations.

Additionally, I’ve served as Executive Director for over three years now, and I might be leaving after the November 2008 elections. I want to have plenty of time to train new staff to ensure a smooth transition should I return to the private sector.

Whether or not Pat succeeds in raising enough money for a third staff member, we still need your financial help. Please send in the reply sheet with your contribution.

Candidate Recruitment

Thanks to our highly successful “25-City Candidate Roundup Tour”, our candidate recruitment is going strong. We’re already ahead of where we were at this time two years ago. We have over 40 candidates confirmed. But our goal is 250 candidates nominated in 2008 (we had 168 in 2006), so we have a long way to go.

Will you be a candidate? Running for office is one of the most effective ways to help build our party and get our message of more freedom and less government out to the public.

While some of our candidates run full-fledged campaigns geared at winning, other candidates don’t have the time or resources to run a big campaign.

That’s okay. We need you to be on the ballot even if you can’t spend a single dime on your campaign. If you tell us you’re willing to be on the ballot, but you won’t be able to run an active campaign, that’s fine. If someone else with bigger intentions comes along, we’ll let you know in case you want to step aside for that person.

If you want to see how having lots of candidates helps us, go to the “In the News” page on our website. You’ll see hundreds of news stories from 2006. These news stories covered our candidates all over Texas. Some of the stories from the beginning of 2006 were simply reporting on the fact that we had so many candidates.

Most of these candidates did not run active campaigns, but many of them were still covered by the media. They often had an opportunity to get a quote about liberty into the newspaper that they would never have gotten if they weren’t candidates.

The deadline to file is 5 PM on January 2, 2008, so tell us right away if you’re interested so we can get an application to you. Just fill out the enclosed candidate preference sheet.

Results of 25-City Candidate Roundup Tour

Our 25-City Candidate Roundup Tour was a big success and I’m exhausted! Pat Dixon and I visited 25 Texas cities in nine weekends and met with over 300 Libertarians and newcomers.

Pat has a full-time job, yet he took nine weekends in a row to travel all the way from Beaumont to El Paso, as far north as Amarillo and south as Brownsville, and lots of places in between. Texas is a huge state!

At these meetings, we explained the Libertarian Party and our party’s progress over the last several years. We answered many questions, and distributed a lot of literature and bumper stickers.

Many of the people who attended told us they really appreciated our visit, and often several people would stay after the meeting and discuss how they could improve their local organization.

We were especially pleased that we came across two more elected Libertarians we previously did not know about.

We met Larry Bush at our Temple (Bell County) meeting and found out he was elected to the Jarrell City Council on May 12, 2007. And, from a phone call to invite folks to the Amarillo meeting, we found out Brett Hall is currently serving as president of Miami Independent School District, and was first elected to the Miami ISD Board in November 2001.

I think this Roundup Tour was a great way to promote and strengthen our party throughout Texas, and I hope we’ll be able to do it again in future years.

An Update on the Ron Paul Campaign

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Anti-Spam Newsletter Reveals Google as Password Cracker

November 29th, 2007

password-cracker.jpgAs I was going through my email this morning, I noticed that John Graham-Cumming had just sent out the latest edition of his anti-spam newsletter. Upon reading it, I was intrigued by a somewhat unrelated reference to a blog post in the third paragraph. Apparently a security researcher at the University of Cambridge had his site’s account hacked, and upon investigating exactly what had happened, wanted to figure out what password the hacker had used to create a new account as “Administrator”.

He was able to access the MD5 hash (an encoded version of the password) from the system’s database, but normally it is not feasible to determine the actual password from this. After trying some standard cracking techniques such as dictionary and “brute force” attacks, he decided to simply paste the whole hash string into Google. This returned several results that curiously mentioned the word “Anthony”, which turned out to be the hacker’s password.

The important takeaway lesson here is that for sensitive account information, one should never choose a password that is likely to be used by another person. This especially includes common words or names, and anything that can be deduced from your profile such as date of birth, the name of your school, and the like. You also need to make sure that it is reasonably long; anything less than eight characters or so will easily fall to a brute force attack if the cracker has a reasonable amount of computing power.

Meanwhile, you can peruse the rest of the anti-spam newsletter below:

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Google Set to Invest in Alternative Energy Solutions

November 28th, 2007

alternative-energy-solution.jpgIn a press conference yesterday, Google executives announced plans for their company to make its most significant investment to date in alternative energy solutions such as solar, wind, and geothermal power.

They have put together a project called “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal”, with the goal of eventually producing electricity from sources such as solar and wind power at a rate that is cheaper than traditional coal-burning plants. If successful, Google’s initiative hopes to reduce the cost of solar power by 25 to 50 percent. More specifically, their overall goal is to produce one gigawatt (one billion watts) of electricity from alternative energy sources over the next few years, which would be enough power to supply a city approximately the size of San Francisco, California.

Google’s recent foray into the alternative energy field is being motivated by a combination of philanthropic desire and the search engine giant’s need to power its ever-growing array of computing centers. By moving from a consumer to a net producer of energy, Google could also realize substantial profits by selling surplus power to other entities or by selling licenses to use any new technologies that are developed as a result of their investment.

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Funny Anti-Vista Video; Microsoft Sucks Bandwidth

November 27th, 2007

Earlier this morning, I received an email with a link to a funny video from BlimpTV.net. It is a parody advertisement for Microsoft’s Vista operating system that details the many problems and frustrations that users have had to deal with regarding this latest version of “bloatware”. Fortunately, our household never bought into the hype around Vista and has stayed with XP, which is a good thing because it has probably saved me lots time and headaches.

It seems that most of this site’s visitors have also elected to stay away from Vista. According to my traffic statistics, only 7.7% are known Vista users compared to 61.3% for XP. Here are the full stats on operating systems, with the video posted below between the blue lines:

Windows 84.4%

  1. Windows XP 61.3%

  2. Windows NT 9.3%
  3. Windows Vista 7.7%
  4. Windows 2000 2.4%
  5. Windows Server 2003 2.3%
  6. Windows 98 0.6%
  7. Windows NT 4.0 0.4%
  8. Windows ME 0.2%
  9. Windows 95 0.2%
  10. Windows XP 64 bit less than 0.1%
  11. Windows CE less than 0.1%

Others 3.8%

  1. Mac OS X 1.5%
  2. Mac OS less than 0.1%
  3. Ubuntu Linux 1.3%
  4. Linux 0.4%
  5. SuSE Linux 0.3%
  6. Fedora Linux 0.2%
  7. Debian GNU/Linux 0.1%
  8. FreeBSD less than 0.1%
  9. Palm OS less than 0.1%

Unknown 11.8%

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Black Hat Warning: Domain Hijacking and Cybersquatting

November 26th, 2007

black-hatter.jpgRecently I have been reading about the appearance of a new batch of black hat tactics involving the topics of domain hijacking and cybersquatting. While not all of these methods are strictly “black hat” in the sense of being illegal or malicious, they are all pretty sneaky and can be detrimental to webmasters whose domains or brand names are targeted. People who are owners of high traffic sites or relatively famous names are especially vulnerable. Here is a list of things to watch out for if you have a potentially popular domain name:

1. Geographical cybersquatting: In this scheme, the name of a certain geographical area, usually a city, is purchased as a domain name by the scammer. This “squatter” then points the domain to a site which displays material that many city officials would find objectionable, such as pornography, gambling, or certain pharmaceutical products. Since most officials do not want the name of their town to be associated with such material, the domain owner can offer to sell the domain to the city at a significantly high price. Often this tactic is successful because the area’s residents want to avoid any potential damage to their town’s reputation.

2. Hijacking a famous name: Similar to squatting on the name of a city, some scammers will seek out the names of famous people (or very similar variants of these) and purchase them as domain names. The new domain owner then uses extortion (otherwise known as good old-fashioned blackmail) on the target in the hopes that the affected person will trade some money in exchange for protecting his or her reputation.

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Karlonia Accepted for OpinionOutpost.com Affiliate Program

November 25th, 2007

I have now added another reliable paid survey company and affiliate program to the list: OpinionOutpost.com. I have been a member here for a few months and have already been paid once ($20 check) from them. Like some of the other survey companies, although they pay for referring other members, you do not get an automatic referral link just for joining; you must apply for the affiliate program separately and have an actual website. You can join Opinion Outpost survey panel (and eventually the affiliate portion as well) by clicking through on the banner below.

After waiting through an initial testing period to make sure that the company was legitimate and actually paid its members, I finally applied for the affiliate program and recently received an acceptance email:

Welcome to the Opinion Outpost’s Affiliate program! We are contacting you to let you know that your website has been approved.

Your can find your campaign tracking link by logging into the Opinion Outpost affiliate site. Instructions for logging in are found below.

Your unique tracking link points to Opinion Outpost and ensures that you earn credit for every person who links from your site and joins our panel. Remember we pay $1.00 for every new member who registers and confirms their membership. Please be sure to place this campaign tracking link on your website as soon as possible.

To login to our affiliate site use your username (e-mail address) and password created during registration and click on ‘Log In’ at: www.OpinionOutpost.com/affiliate

Once you are logged in you can view current numbers, create new campaigns (tracking links), as well as view and download banner ads (HTML code, or images).

If you have any questions or require assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for joining Opinion Outpost’s Affiliate program,

Greg Shuey


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Rod Baker Re-Launches MillionHitsLotto.net

November 24th, 2007

Before the infamous database crash back in July 2006 that took down both of his sites, Rod Baker of Share Ad Space fame had launched a relatively new site called MillionHitsLotto.net. It was essentially a manual traffic exchange, but with an interesting twist. Instead of surfing for credits according to a predetermined ratio, members would surf a certain number of sites (usually seven, but occasionally the numbers were tweaked a little bit) and then choose five numbers on a virtual lottery ticket. Each ticket submitted would give members a chance to win credits according to how many numbers on the ticket matched the lottery results.

The rules were adopted from the New York State lottery; members choose five numbers from 1 to 39, and if anyone managed to match all five numbers with the official results, that person won the jackpot. The jackpot at Million Hits Lotto starts at one million credits and gradually increases each day until at least one member matches the lucky numbers. Members can also win credits for matching two, three, or four numbers, and with a little luck (and perhaps a few referrals along the way) it is possible to maintain a favorable surf ratio while getting free advertising for your sites.

Yesterday Rod Baker managed to resurrect and re-launch the Million Hits Lotto site. From what I can tell, the rules are pretty much the same as before, although it looks like people who were members of the original site will need to sign up again. Here is the official announcement from the program owner:

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MySurvey.com November Newsletter

November 23rd, 2007

The November edition of the MySurvey.com newsletter has just been released. Topics covered include a fundraising drive for children’s education in Cambodia, reward redemptions, Spam filtering issues, and results from a recent survey on what kinds of foods people are eating for Thanksgiving. There are also some interesting notes on the types of foods that were served at the original Thanksgiving back in 1621 vs. the foods that people associate with Thanksgiving celebrations today.

Join Mysurvey.com Here

Reward News

UNICEF Imagine… Fundraising Target Reached!

In January 2005, TNS, the parent company of MySurvey.com partnered with UNICEF to fund a preschool project in Cambodia. The purpose of this project was to give children the best possible start to learning and schooling, in a country where many children, especially girls, drop out of school by age five.

We are very pleased announce that we have successfully reached our fundraising goal of $388,000. MySurvey.com panelists have generously donated over $7,000 in Reward Points to this charity partner. The money raised will be used to:

* Build and equip 120 new community pre-school shelters
* Expand access to pre-school learning for 14,500 children aged three to five years
* Train almost 1000 community pre-school teachers

As the UNICEF Imagine… project comes to a close, TNS is working with UNICEF to develop a new education and child development project in another part of the world where the need is great. Once the details of the new project are finalized, we will again give our MySurvey.com members the opportunity to donate to the new UNICEF project. Thank you for “imagining” a better future for Cambodian children with us.

Reward Redemptions for Holiday Gifts

If you would like to redeem your MySurvey.com Reward Points for any our current reward items to give as a holiday gift, we suggest you make your redemption no later than December 2nd. We cannot guarantee the delivery for any of our merchandise items, but if you order early enough there is a good chance you will receive your item(s) in time for holiday gift giving.

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“Idiot Affiliate” Newsletter Provides Internet Marketing Tips

November 22nd, 2007

affiliate-marketing-tips.jpgLeo di Milo, creator of the “Idiot Affilate” Internet marketing blog that I posted about back in June, sent out a Thanksgiving newsletter to his subscribers today. Although I don’t really want to reprint the whole thing, the relevant portions of it contain some good ideas for getting started quickly with affiliate marketing.

These tips provide some solid suggestions for what I (and other Internet marketing enthusiasts) should be doing after consuming this year’s turkey dinner. For even more suggestions on getting started in this potentially lucrative genre, you can also check out my article on how to do bum marketing.

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PineCone Research Payment Report

November 21st, 2007

The PineCone Research survey company that I reported on three weeks ago has been working out pretty well so far. I actually have two payments from them to report, one by check and other via PayPal. Here is the check payment:


As has been reported on various forums and message boards, they pay surprisingly quickly. After I took my first survey, I received the check by postal mail within five days. That is very fast by paid survey standards; the typical turnaround time for receiving check payments is usually three to four weeks.

Meanwhile, it is possible to receive payments even faster by using the PayPal option. According to the company’s rules, members are allowed to switch their payment method to PayPal after receiving at least one check payment. I’m not exactly sure why they require this, but my guess is that the company wants to see at least one check cleared so that they can verify that the member’s address is correct.

How to Change Your PineCone Payment Method to PayPal

In order to switch to the PayPal option, the first thing that you need to do is log into your PineCone account, go to the profile information page, and enter your PayPal address in the appropriate field. After you save the changes, you will then need to email them at scott(at)pineconeresearch.com to officially request the switch.

In order to make things easier for you, I have reprinted the text of the email that I wrote to them below. You can use this as a template for your own email requests; just make sure that you replace the obvious bits of information such as name, date, username, and email address with your own data.

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Liberal Bias in the Media: Fact or Fiction?

November 20th, 2007

media-bias.jpgThis essay by Jamie Austin explores the issue of whether or not there is a significant liberal bias in the news media. For the most part, I actually agree with it, although I probably would not have 20 years ago. With the relatively recent rise of (mostly conservative) talk radio, the Faux Fox News network, and the panoply of diverse views from Internet sources, the idea that news media as a whole is dominated by liberal bias has become rather stale.

Liberal Bias in the Media is a conservative catch phrase with users as diverse as radio personalities Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, television pundits like Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough, and even politicians such as Richard Nixon and George Bush. It’s a common phrase that is grossly misunderstood and exaggerated. First, what does it actually mean? Using a handy reference tool called a dictionary, namely the Fourth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the phrase can be broken down into its individual components as follows:

a. Liberal: Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Bias: An unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.
c. Media: A means of mass communication, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, or television. The group of journalists and others who constitute the communications industry and profession.

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