Well, that might not exactly be fair since, hey, many of us who while away the hours, like most of them, in front of gently whirring machines aren't exactly bronzed or anything. But these are the pasty/gray faced drones who create opinions in a place hermetically sealed away from the rest of the world. Yes kids, a conservative think tank is giving unsolicited advice to the U.S government on what kind of software they should use. Maybe this is the second horseman of the Apocalypse.
ZDNet (being that they're a serious news organization or something) got wind of a coming white paper from the crazy bastards at the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution. This ordinarily wouldn't be such a big deal since the crackpots are always shooting off pre-releases of allegedly technical papers to news agencies where they will be skimmed, paraphrased, and reported on with absolutely no critical analysis. Anyway, the crazy motherfuckers are trying to say that the government shouldn't use open source software because it isn't secure enough.
Holy shit. I wish I had the entire text in front of me right now to see how the flesh out all the points of the argument because I'm pretty sure it relies heavily on unicorns and wooden puppets who become real little boys. I'll be all over this shit next week when the paper is released. I'm not going to bother to regurgitate the summary given by ZDNet. Go read it yourself for the moment. In fairness those wacky ZDNet folks they do give a quick "many eyes make all bugs shallow" rebuttal to the argument.
I took a little gander around their website just to pick up a general whiff of what they're all about. They force you to to read their articles in PDF form which kinda sucks but I learned lots of new things about how letting the free market fix everything. Privacy problems will be fixed by the free market in one case while there is a whole sprawling list of press releases issued about their $10 handjob evaluation of the MSCE program and its positive impact on the economy. Yeah, most of us know upfront that it's a pile of shit but some people are pretty impressed by the invocation of the term "foundation" and, of course, dragging around the name of some dead famous white guy. I'll be checking this in detail next week when the actual paper is released.
There is just no escape from heat. Big glasses of soda, multiple fans, and cold showers just postpone th e misery. It's only been two days of roughly normal summer temperatures and I'm ready for some more blizzards. Summer is better when you look back on it nostalgically. The sweaty, stuck to everything you touch feeling right now is just plain icky.
You might've noticed that little to no posting went on today. I'm actually working on a major hack for Movable Type that keeps breaking it. So not only am I trying to add some functionality (and burning up the hours doing it) but having to bring MT back from the dead every couple of hours. I'm not saying what it is but if I can ever get it working for more than five minutes in a row I'll let everyone else play around with it too.
Final Note for the day - Mac OS X Server might possibly be the most defective product ever marketed.
I was looking through my logs tonight and I noticed the astonishing number of bots that visit my site for no apparent reason. Well, one reason is that I set Movable Type to ping Weblogs.com or subhonker to its friends when I post something new. Obviously their bot shows up at my site but sometimes it brings along some of its trashy friends.
I'm not really upset about this. I never seem to get around to editing the robots.txt file like I should so I figure I'm probably fair game for whatever. Of course, any one of the buggers starts getting obnoxious and I'll get motivated but most of them are well behaved for the most part. Many of their owners are polite too and leave some kind of clue (other than an IP address geniuses) where they came from so you can get an idea what they're looking for. Unfortunately a few cruel and unusual souls give me no information whatsoever. I don't like that, not one bit, so I went looking for some of them.
So just when we were really getting to enjoy giving our Windows using friends a hard time about being klez bait this has to happen. Apparently the Simile virus can affect both Windows and Linux machines. Crap. This may be the single piece of Win/Lin interoperable code ever written. Check my sources and watch the skies for the plague of locusts that is sure to follow.
Before you get all crazy and shit - no destructive payload which only makes the whole thing more ominous.
We started gardening today. Actually there was no gardening involved. What we did today is similar to what work parties did in old movies about prisons in the Deep South. The temperature was even right. My task was turning over the dirt (soil would be too grandoise a word for what keeps my front yard and the molten core of the Earth separated) in the front yard. Yoon and I were all bedazzled with some lame tool we saw advertised so we took a trip down to that overly large chain hardware store to get one. Being gullible and cheap (and having never planted anything before, at least intentionally) we bought the even lesser version of the miracle gardening tool. I should've bought a pickaxe or possibly one of those tree stump exploding kits (if only for the drama and majesty) because I've felt more malleable concrete foundations. The crappy tool from T.V. wouldn't cut it so we made the journey to K-Mart where a less flashy but effective tool was purchased for a little less than $4.00. Yes, the evil media brainwashers do indeed own me. Curses upon the deceptive Garden Weasel and all of its offspring.
So, the whole front yard is one enormous pile of turned over dirt which will remain that way until Yoon does something about it. It is truly amazing how many Corona bottlecaps can fit into one very small patch of yard even three inches down. I pulled no less than thirty bottlecaps and milk jug twisties and pennies out as I dug. Man, this whole Martha Stewart-all-in-white enjoying herself in the garden image that most people have of gardening just doesn't apply to the urban setting. Sweating, cursing, covered in dust, with the sun beating mercilessly on my sparsely covered head is what the urban gardening experience is all about.
Excessiveness, Beautiful Excessiveness.
If you want to fly Google by hand try this. I had to play with it for half an hour before I actually got any useful results out of it.
Hey! Someone else cares about Google's ad policy (see here for the beginning of this saga) and its weird ass censoring of Anita Roddick who runs the Body Shop. One of my least favorite politically inclined businesses Working Assets has a website. Yup. Here's the story before I get all mean and cranky -->right here.
I wanted to leave it at that but I can't help but adding in that this piece is pretty much what you'd expect and most of what I said in the previous post about this situation applies. I'm just glad that someone else noticed it even if they were bothered by it for reasons I don't entirely sympathize with.
This article over at Linux and Main also contributes a few choice considerations. The main one is that United Linux is intended entirely for enterprise level distributions and not the workstation/desktop versions. This adds a new dimension to the whole thing because Red Hat refuses to standardize their server market distributions. They also published this somewhat disturbing quote from Caldera CEO Ransome Love:
The binaries will not be made freely available, for a variety of reasons, because again we are focusing more to the business customer. One is the support issue, another is the certification and quality of that certification on a global basis. So the binaries will not be made available, but source code and access to that will be totally in compliance with the open source licenses that already exist.".
Ack. This isn't as promising as it first sounded.
Also at Linux and Main is some pretty funny
Newsforge also clocked in.
So while I was messing around trying to find out as much as I could about the real implications of United Linux the news item was posted on Slashdot. What this means in real terms is that every idiot with a computer in front of them at work is going to spout a bunch of crap without ever looking at whatever was cited. This is why I dislike Slashdot so much. Most of the time when people make arrogant and sweeping proclamations they're wrong and get modded up to the skies. The worst part is that if these folks would bother to read the actual material they're commenting on there wouldn't be so many erroneous statements floating around out there and being affirmed by people with moderator points. But the point isn't the suck or not suck of Slashdot. Volumes have been written about this. I don't really care either way - it just isn't as important of a resource as it used to be and like the disclaimer attached to every poll says, anyone who uses this information for anything real is crazy.
So, people can't or won't read. Here are some reasons that United Linux is not a tool of Satan or the man or really anything you need to get your precious pseudolibertarian head all in a tizzy over:
1. The Linux Standards Base isn't something that United Linux dreamed up to enslave us or "topple" Red Hat. It's an independent organization developed to facilitate a common standard for Linux distributions. You can check out their mission statement yourself. It isn't a conspiracy so settle down twitchy.
2. This isn't the mega-distribution that everyone seems all worried about. All of the companies involved are still making their own distributions but trying to maintain a standard of interoperability between them. This is also a good thing. It spares developers from the burden of creating fifty gazillion RPMs for every piece of software they create. Regardless, each distribution will maintain its separate identity so all the brand new zealots won't have to get all twisted up about not being able to buy a shiny box different from the other shiny boxes.
3. Membership to United Linux is open. They're not a cartel or the Linux mafia or big scary thugs. I do wonder though if the announcement of United Linux being so near Red Hat filing for software patents was entirely conincidental. Red Hat is kind of a defacto standard because it has the most brand name recognition. Whether or not RH will join United Linux or what their official statement will be is going to be a hot topic and maybe a more realistic litmus of their commitment to the community than all the blandly worded press releases in the world. I'm curious.
4. This might reduce fragmentation. Having a common set of standards really cuts down on the work that developers need to do to release software that works well with different distributions. Unfortunately Red Hat has become a Windows of sorts because most folks build software that works with whatever crack the RH team is currently smoking and I think they're going to be content their nebulous commitment to LSB that's so often mentioned but never acted upon. Apparently the new workstation release of RH will be LSB compliant but the server packages won't be. Again, I'm a hypersensitive kook but this every time I think about this I get nervous and start wondering what the hell Red Hat is eventually going to get away with.
I'm sure I'll think of more later but this is a start for all of those who refuse to read. ZDNet has a story if you want to deal with pop up ads and dumbed down rehash. More of the same from Wired. Internet News regurgitates the press release here.
If you're like me (read: really pathetic and lame and strung out on tech news like a crack whore) you've been trying to hit the United Linux site since the rumors started circulating. Well, it's up and working.
I'm still not sure how exactly to take it. While the plan to basically force standards on Linux is admirable I still have misgivings about the consolidation of power. A couple of the companies involved are pretty big guns in the Linux world already. It's true that I'm a totally paranoid fruitcake but it still leaves me with the feeling that there are things at work here that I would not approve of. Regardless of my twitchy suspicious behavior they are an open membership organization and are trying to implement standards which is something SuSE has been very adamant about for a long time. It's an interesting wrinkle in the distribution wars.
As most of us know, Winmodems aren't really hardware. They're a couple of phone jacks and some software. They're manufactured for a couple of cents a piece probably. Why is that people new to Linux cannot seem to understand this? The Mercury News has a story that I swear is copied verbatim from elsewhere or maybe its because the writer spends most of his time grousing about his winmodem and sound card not being found by Linux. Yes, kids, it's not the newest news I've ever heard.
The other irksome thing about this alleged overviews of Linux is that (as usual) it covers only installation. Is this Windows thinking? Well, since I'm going to have to reinstall this twice a week anyway, I might as well get used to it... Don't worry kids, unless you're an idiot and work in your root account when you shouldn't be, an reinstall should be rare. Linux doesn't randomly destroy itself, you have to make an effort to fuck up your machine.
Needless to say, if any other OS company had hit on the idea of putting the game of solitare into the installation they apparently would instantly win the hearts and minds of tech journalists everywhere. Yes, I'd like a more stable operating system and less aesthetically appealing but more powerful applications but for gods sake all I really want are card games! Lycoris has seeming won its following entirely on the strength of this function.
In the same newspaper we have a Cisco worker stating that the common misconception that there are two operating systems in the world is wrong. Apparently employees at Cisco have a choice to use Linux on the desktop machines. Nice.
I've often thought about buying a Happy Hacker keyboard. The caps lock key alone annoys me so much that yanking the sucker right out of my $5 cheapo keyboard has occurred to me before. Then, of course, there is the Windows key which is not only useless but an idealogical problem. The only problem with dropping some change (ie. more than $10) on a keyboard despite the fact that I use one continually is that you seldom hear much about any of the specifics of them. Linux and Main (which is rapidly becoming a daily stop for me) has an article that digs into some of the higher end keyboards and puts their evaluation into a more pragmatic context than most text reviews. Hey, this guy doesn't want to spend a whole lot of money on peripherals either.
After reading it I'm still not sold on any of the more pricey keyboards because the under $10 cheapos are just too easy to replace after one droplet of coffee too many enters the forbidden zone. Another factor considered in the review is whether or not you can open up the keyboard to clean it. I usually stick to the invert and soundly shake method but actually opening up the keyboard to bang the crumbs off would be a nice option. All in all it's worth a gander if you've ever considered spending the few extra dollars on one of them babies. Maybe when I pound this one to death (which isn't as far in the future as I'd like it to be even for $10) I'll move up to the big leagues.
The Cosmiverse Reference Library might be one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I can easily lose hours looking at the archived photos. The section on dying stars is amazing and the images of the Sun are so beautiful and crazy and violent that I am newly amazed that something like it even exists. The images are amazing and fun to look at as long as you don't try to scale them in your head.
The author describes, in agonizing detail, the shit he went through to print a hard copy of an ebook. The worst part about all of this is that he paid for the download and ended up using hundreds of dollars worth of commercial software just to read a book on paper. Yeesh. Suffer along here.
OK, I'm totally lame because I heard about this via Wired but this
The maniacs at Linux and Main posted this informative article about SuSE, Caldera, TurboLinux, and Conectiva announcing a partnership to compete with Red Hat with a LSB compliant distribution. The announcement isn't supposed to go out until Thursday so take this with as many grains of salt as necessary. The important part for me is that this alliance will supposedly produce a super-distribution instead of a super-corporation. I'm not so sure about that. Somebody told me that mixing ammonia and bleach would make a super cleaner...
Red Hat Issues a Statement About Those Nasty Patents
Red Hat Linux finally responds to the shitstorm of criticism. Read it and decide for yourself. The basic gist is that they believe buliding a patent portfolio is a defense against making parts of Linux proprietary. I will have to let this one sink into my sleep addled brain slowly. I just submitted this to /. for the hell of it and it, of course, was rejected. I think I did something very bad that I don't know about. Oh well, look for the same story to pop up in a couple of hours with a more familiar name attached to it. Linux Weekly News story here
A reader was kind enough to post this information as a comment:
kis media dept.
P.o. box 2205
Tel: +49 2381 46 24 31
Fax: +49 2381 46 24 83
Email address of the partner:
Take a minute to let Mr. Komoszki know that you don't approve of his copyright vigilante tactics. Here's a link to the beginning of this fairy tale. If only there were some real consequences...
Hey. Want a complete and detailed explanation of the implications (liability, definition of what a CD is, etc) of Celine the Destroyer? The article over yonder at MacOpinion gives a detailed rundown of why the magic marker hack works, why Apple probably isn't liable for damage done to Imacs, and loads of other interesting details that the three gazillion sites who posted some story about the magic marker thing didn't bother looking up. Go learn something.
I just finished rereading Neal Stephenson's "In the beginning...was the command line" for the Nth time in the last five years (or so.) The first version that I read was downloaded from somewhere (five years later the URLs just aren't as clear) and printed out as plain old text. At the time it was freely available for anyone who wanted a copy. Now, of course, I'm reading a paperback copy I bought that came emblazoned with the standard vague but threatening copyright notice on the first few pages.
At some point I lost my spiral bound copy and ended up scoring a used copy of the paperback from some anonymous seller in New Jersey. All of this admittedly useless information thus spilled I will get to a point. This essay was my initial motivation to give Linux a shot. One thing that's important to understand is that this was before Linux really got the official and out in the open nod from x overly large corporation. It sounds ridiculous now that former grey faced giants like IBM (or more correctly their ad agencies) are all about inviting you to dance naked around the huge penguin made of flowers. Well, that's probably excessive but let's just make it simple and say that this was before Linux became common conversation for the peripherally geeky (ie. conversationally into technology but more committed to gaming than anything else.) So, for once in my career as a pseudo-geek.Prior to this my entire repertoire consisted of stupid HTML tricks performed exclusively in the depressing confines of a dank and unvisited Geocities site replete with the obligatory amount of animated GIFs and whatever hellish garbage I thought was cool at the time.
Here is a genius idea that no one else seems to have hit on (at least not enough for me to see any viable/readable examples of): Let a virus writer explain the motivations of a virus writer. Wow.
It's an interesting read too. Yes, the usual categories are here: The Loner and The Disgruntled Worker (both of these titles should be implemented as new dance crazes posthaste) are both here but at least its from a realistic perspective instead of the usual school of traditionalism tech journalism where the reporter asks a few questions in an AOL chat room and a few of the script kiddes fuck with him until he's got enough raw material to construct an erroneous story out of. This article maintains a focus on facts and reasoned predictions and leaves the dramatics for the hacks.
What I found most interesting was the historical context of the whole article and the neutral tone/lack of apocalyptic hysterics that usually accompany mainstream news coverage of viruses. Good stuff from Security Focus here which is no exception to their usual quality content.
The Daniel Pearl video is back up. Ogrish.com decided (against the wishes of the FBI) to put the uber-controversial video of Daniel Pearl being executed by "the bad guys" back online. Apparently the ACLU has offered their services which somehow in the process makes juvenile splatter galleries a legitimate issue of free experession. This is the sucky side of supporting the absolute guarantee of First Amendment rights. You have to protect the four year old trapped in the body of a thirty year goober as well as people who have dangerous/subversive things to say instead of just "huh, huh, this is cool." So, yeah, I support their decision and all the crud that comes with it but I'm still not going to link there.
On the other hand you have defend self righteous motherfuckers like these assholes who are taking photographs of people entering abortion clinics and screaming stuff at the clients. Me and the Nuremberg Files guy in a dark alley. We'll see who your bossy bully of a god protects asshole. One woman gets hurt or killed or even harassed on the street for her personal fucking choice and there will be nowhere in the world to hide. Grrrr. Empty threats are so cathartic.
Hawking is trying to block the publishing of a book called "The Theory of Everything" because it consists largely of material already published in his earlier books. This kind of action is nothing new but most people don't take their complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. I'm really interested to see how this turns out. Apparently his physical condition is bad enough that his lawyers say he would not be able to withstand the usual court proceedings. A new legal precedent at least in method?
CNN gots the story with less foul language and all the prestige and reliability conferred to a major news source.
while proctoring a test of all things. Seems his computer was still hooked up to a projection unit and a few students chanced to look up. The story over at BBC has minimal details (nude adult women) so it's impossible to say whether he was looking at hot wet teens or something else. Regardless of my personal opinions he probably should've been a little more cognizant of where he was at and the "official" stance of most schools on porn. At the same time at least he wasn't a Catholic priest raping children. A little variation on the sex scandals in the news is always nice.
New Excel Vulnerability
Rather than spending a lot of my time and your energy blasting Microsoft for being the biggest piece of shit on the planet and the enemy of truly innovative technology I will simply direct you here where all is sunshine and happiness and blinky banner ads.
The Crap We've Come To Expect
from OSOpinion. This piece of shit is not excusable. Wow. There are two operating systems in the world. They look alike. My friend wanted an Apple because they're pretty. I said get jiggy with it my homegirl. All differences were settled and now my keyboards for my two radically different machines sit side by side because the world is happy and swell. Jesus. These faux quotations do not reflect the actual words of the author of this stinking pile of crap. It's hard to express this much loathing with actual citations.
Talking Your Stupid Company Into Getting Rid of Windows
OK. So, this article is a lot more pragmatic and instructive than I've let on. It's a pretty good overview of a diplomatic method of introducing whatever shitty soulbreaking company you work for to open source software. This article is pretty realistic down-to-earth stuff so don't expect it to be a silver bullet but it might be a good place to start.
Later, At the Help Desk
MSG: New Helpdesk call for your workgroup: Call #30307: ********* in Math; reported that there is no student login in the Si 142f Lab, Math Student missing .
I love my job.
Paranoia Drives Tech
M-o-o-t sounds really cool although there isn't much in the way of details on the mechanics of it in the article. Maybe it's time to buy a cheap ass Duron box to play around with. Will it dual boot with Plan 9?! Unsurprisingly it has already been denounced as a potential tool for terrorists like like butter knives, halogen lamps, and bumper stickers critical of the US goverment.
was actually good. My hands were shaking through the first few songs and I hit a sour note (which was probably only noticeable to us) but I feel like two years of exile in the practice space paid off at least for tonight. It was nice but painful like anything you really need to get out of your system.
So I should be doing anything but this right now. My band is playing its first show in like two hours. Yeah so what if I've played in bands for over ten years and it is only punk rock (sorta)? I'm a nervous kid. All of my stuff is already packed and I'm on like my tenth cup of coffee. I should probably top it off with some beer. Yoon is in the living room doing some last minute lyrical additions. The whole thing is just nerveracking no matter how many times I do it. Going on tour and playing every night for a couple of weeks is the only way to get a flow going with playing shows. Otherwise they are more stressful than a first date. I'll never date again so let me be nervous.
Speaking of which, there will be some kind of band related site in the near future. I'm more interested in being able to distribute MP3s than some vanity site but we'll see what happens. I'd also like to make our recordings GPL which is becoming more realistic with the Creative Commons getting closer to fruition. I just noticed they're looking for a business manager. Oh the irony. I gotta go haul heavy stuff now.
There's a lot of Linux advocacy out there. From hoopty little efforts like this one up to IBM's ridiculous Peace, Love, and Linux campaign. While we relentless cheerlead for Linux by plastering things with penguins, bragging about triple digit uptimes, and pressure some traditionally tightfisted and monopolistic companies into open sourcing some of their software there is a part of advocacy that isn't mentioned nearly enough - how to reach people that tried Linux and for whatever reason decided to return to their prior operating system which in most cases is Windows. This is the side of the "success story" gloat that everyone forgets about.
While I was wandering around this afternoon I noticed that SANS launched a security policy one stop sort of thing here which looks mighty interesting. They've already got some basic templates (in both PDF and dreaded Word format) for things like acceptable use and remote access. Pretty handy resource that will hopefully get linked to death in the coming weeks. It's also kinda nice that they're trying to do everything by consensus which is rare among security types.
There isn't much going on it yet but it does indeed exist again. My apologies to those who posted in the old one. I really wish that I had preserved it since there were some interesting discussion threads going on in there. Hit that shit here and make me proud loudmouth.
Search Is Also Back Up
I set up the search hack again so if you really need to search what little content there is at the moment please be my guest. This might also be useful if you're using Internet Explorer since the page really doesn't render right. It does just fine in every other browser. This bug falls under "Not my problem" and also lets me be all elite and snide and inadvertently exclude 75% of the people out there. A bonus.
I don't know why I assumed that Dubya would leave the nebulous "War on Terrorism" out of the whole Memorial Day tradition. I guess I assume that since tact is pretty much the only thing that keeps politicians afloat really that he (or the slightly smarter folks in his cabinet) would want to steer clear of that particular tarpit. Color me ashamed but not particularly surprised. His speech tying his alleged "War on Terrorism" to WWII transcends tactless and epitomizes tacky.
The sad thing is that criticism will doubtlessly be met with the same "love it or leave it" attack dog posture that criticism of the war in general has recieved. The new era of McCarthyism has all of the lack of subtlety that the original era of McCarthyism had. We're probably doomed.
Opera Browser Vulnerability
The Windows version of Opera 6 has a serious bug that allows remote access to local files. That's pretty bad. This is only for the Win version and depends on malicious code on the server side. Go here for more detailed info and an online test to see if you're vulnerable.
Most of the entries in this blog are reposts (some of them more than once) rescued from a collapsing XOOPS powered site that I fucking hated. I converted from Moveable Type to XOOPS and then back again. I lost a few things (they ended up being garbage with a few retrievable fragments imbedded in the muck) and just adandoned some others. I think I'll stick with this format for the time being. My foray into the land of mySQL powered content management was not much fun. I may play with them in the future but not as the main part of this site.
More in the future
I'll get the forums up and rolling again and search capabilities as soon as there is time. My band is playing its first show tomorrow so shit is going to be hectic between that and the beginning of the summer semester on Tuesday. I'm guessing that I'll have full functionality again by the end of week. Always far too optimistic... Obviously things still look a little fresh out of the box but then again it's four in the morning. At this point I'm going to do more damage than good.