Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


Security Is Boring. Can We Get More Flashy Geegaws.

I know it's a slow news week and all but Wired is really stinking it up today. Apparently security is only an issue after you're owned and recovering. Like we need someone else (with a shred or two of credibility left) telling people not to worry so much about security. Stringent code review is one of the reasons that few open source operating systems have security holes that are actually exploited. Of course Windows code isn't open for review (unless you count the wolf in sheep's clothing of The Shared Source Initiative as an opportunity for code review as opposed to a license to bilk the surrender of rights out of a few naive folks) so we can expect all of the really choice stuff to remain wide open and exploitable on that platform.

"The average user wouldn't know a hack if it walked up and bit them," Sweeney said. "And many of the so-called security holes require a very specific event to occur and the odds are very slim that it will occur.

"But, since it's theoretically possible someone might use this flaw as an attack method, it's reported as a 'security hole.' It's like saying there is a chance your car will roll over in a crash, therefore we will report the car as defective and a risk to you. Duh!"

Don't worry. The company will protect you instead of, you know, invoking threats of DMCA lawsuits to squelch reports or simply lying. Like improving a base of code is somehow a bad thing...

Nice summary of the differences between the *BSDs over at Unix Review. I hate to have people missing out on the infighting and throwing of feces but this is, um, objective.

We're in a war here. Now is not the time for stirring up the people. It's for the good of the economy. Um, we didn't do that.

My new favorite chew toy abandoning any pretense of accuracy to feather all the right nests. I can't wait to hear his views on global warming.

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Easily Amused

Ooh. Ooh. [email protected]@r (who runs another non-techy weblog that I'm reading daily which expands the list to like 10) pointed out this antidote to our new least favorite technologist turned right-wingy bile spewer. Hope that new circle jerk works out for ya, pal. I'm glad that someone has bothered to directly address ESR. I wrote his sorry ass off a long time ago. I even blew fetchmail out of my machine. I guess there's only so much reminiscing you can do about lisp before the inevitable fall into the pit of whatever is currently getting the nod happens. The final descent into pointless propagandizing is probably brewing as we sleep. Guess I'll write that IP banning script about now since the flood of indignant warbloggers is probably a matter of hours away. At some point I need to write a lameness filter for MT something like the one that Slash uses. Of course, the "you-criticize -the-US-so-obviously -your-loyalties-belong -to-the-enemy" stance is pretty boldly stated these days. Go check out Campus Watch if you aren't worried enough already.

American scholars of the Middle East, to varying degrees, reject the views of most Americans and the enduring policies of the U.S. government about the Middle East.

Loyalty oaths will be taken at the registrar office. Thank you for your cooperation.

Some interesting smack talking about that big annoying site that most geeks have strong opinions about. I haven't logged in a very long time (in fact when I visit it's usually a linked headline from FreshNews and not because I directly loaded the index. This thread is a beautiful example of why not to bother. 266 comments modded down below the anonymous user threshold default. It's difficult to believe that people still care that much about the crappy old Dot.I found this wildly unsuccessful Slash based site along the way.

Speaking of paranoia and doomsaying, here are some photos of some gnarly fireworks/homemade explosives accidents. They range from not-so-graphic photos of burns to blowing yourself into little pieces. I will not be cradling any pipe bombs in the near future at least not until I be tattoed with clear labels so my body parts can be reassembled accurately.

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The Unbearable Pointlessness Of Bidding

Someone bought Bridgeville. Part of me really hopes that it's a bogus bid(although there have been other offers after the close of the auction for more than the winning bid) but what makes this interesting to me is that this is the only way the sellers found to get anywhere near their asking price. This isn't a new phenomenon -- can find people paying more than the cost of new items on Ebay all the time for things like laptops and whatnot. It seems like this is the only way to win auctions for more marketable consumer electronics because most the auctions are won by dealers using bid watchers a couple of seconds before the auctions closes.

Ebay reminds me a lot of the bulk Salvation Army store in San Francisco. Everything is just tossed into enormous cardboard cannisters completely unsorted. Sounds cool? It isn't. The minute the doors open every morning an aggressive mob bursts in through the front door. Who are they? People from "vintage clothing" stores looking to fill their shelves for a handful of change. You can lecture me all you want to about how I live under a capitalist market driven economy (although I'd also argue that most decisions are based on markets: war being the primary one) but I don't donate to the Salvation Army any more. Why the fuck would I if my stuff is going to be snapped up by some assmaster in cat eye glasses to sell in their vintage boutique and marked up 1000-3000%?

Anway, digression aside, this might just be the future of Ebay for people who aren't rag picking to resell immediately. Unfortunately the only line I see here is the dollar value since I bought laptopned(42) is going to cough up a million dollars for anything any time soon. Yes, my invisible capitalist critic, this has happened to all of the auction oriented endeavors but I doubt any of them were as massive and continual as Ebay. Anymore it makes more sense to just shop at where you know you're probably paying too much but at least some Sanford and Son motherfucker isn't going to out bid you 1.6667 seconds before the auctions ends. Take away the fun (or the feeling that donating something somehow, somewhere might make a difference) and I'd really rather go play somewhere else. I'm taking my ball with me.

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Surprisingly Unclever Post Title

Alarmingly, this warrants submission into the Apple Knowledge Base. I thought Mandrake folks were easily agitated into hysteria until I saw this. Vaguely embarassing since people still associate me with that anemic operating system at work. Yup. I used to professionally throw away preferences and restart applications. Of course, now I just reimage about 10 W2K machines a week but...

Shoot. Gimpy is apparently crackable. The good news is that the successful results are around 80% (for the single word EZ-Gimpy which incidentally what Yahoo uses for protecting free email accounts) and a nice low 30% for the more sophisticated version that uses multiple words that overlap in places and require the user to pick out x of the group correctly. Luckily this is a crack by another group of students so they can work together to make Gimpy more secure. It's a great idea but I think a phonetic implementation (enter the correct spelling of the word spelled phonetically and distorted) might work a little bit better since that requires some degree of cognition to decipher. I actually just emailed one of the project leaders so we'll see what happens or if that's something that's sane in the scope of the project. Maybe I'm just tired.

So I've got this sleeping at night thing refined into a weak beta version. I'm hoping to roll out something usable by the beginning of the work week. I guess the making coffee at 11pm thing probably doesn't help matters.

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Aim Twice, Shoot Once

Wow. I spent most of the day away from the box today. Well, that's mostly due to going to a wedding which seems to happen with such regularity that I'm beginning to wonder if the list would be shorter if sorted by "not married." It was a nice wedding though with a traditional Western type of ceremony led by a judge and a traditional Korean ceremony. The Korean ceremony was the more interesting of the two. It consists largely of bowing to parents and grandparents who toss nuts and dates that the bride is supposed to catch in her dress. These are predictions for children -- nuts for boys and dates for girls. Since Sung actually caught about thirty of either I really hope (for her sake) that this method is not accurate. Yoon actually wore the traditional Korean dress (which I only know the name of phonetically so I'm not going to venture an inaccurate spelling) which was pretty damn cute. They're very puffy and in her case, pink. It also reminded me of how much I like the bride and groom who moved to Los Angeles six months or so back. It seems like I've been in that situation several times in the past couple of years where people I haven't seen in ages are getting married and it's really impossible to hang out with them or even have a real conversation. Instead you're left with a lot of regretful arm squeezes and whatnot.

Damn. I was all happy because I thought the gigabit was back up on the web server but it's back to being slow as hell. I'm really really wishing for synchronousDSL right now. The page loads aren't terrible but trying to accomplish anything on the server is miserable. I don't even wanna talk about how much I hate SPAM right now. Dial up users: I sympathize with and partially feel your pain. I mean that in the sense that everything else but my site is loading up just fine :). I'm totally serious about the sDSL though.

Is Internet Explorer just a fictionally functional invention to drive us crazy with frustration? I don't use it but I've been trying to build a stylesheet for bzero that doesn't break when resized. Never mind the fact that it doesn't work at all in IE. I realize that I've sworn off supporting IE in any manner here but this isn't for me. This site breaks like crazy in IE but I'm aware of it and perfectly fine with it. I'm thinking browser detection paired with a snotty message about IE being the worst piece of shit on the planet for people who need to design without resorting to Front Page or whatever that shit is called. Research, horrible, horrible, research so MS can continue blazing a path of simultaneous market dominance and complete disregard for standards straight down the shitslide to hell. I'd love it for Dr. Asshat to pronounce that obfuscating markup like idiots was no longer necessary for gently massaging users to repetitive orgasm but I fear that IE is here to stay like cell phones, little yippy dogs, and, well, Dr. Asshat. How unfortunate.

An ex-Libertarian sagely says:

The libertarian philosophy often serves as an excuse for the selfish and a support to the exploitative: speaking highly of freedom while undermining the ability to exercise it. When I see a libertarian pundit from a well funded think-tank attacking some liberal program, I often agree with much of what he is saying. However, I also think, "at least the liberals give a damn" and I ask why don't I see these folks criticizing the drug war, corporate welfare, or the military-industrial complex? Beware of beautiful philosophies of principle that are selectively cited in practice.

The amount of insulation necessary to be a Libertarian these days is incredible. Maybe their herd will dwindle with the crashing economy convincing the rich white folks not to churn out quite so many spoiled little shits.

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I spent the entire morning (yesterday since it's long after midnight) working on little nitpicky things. I think the most successful (at least I hope) was fixing the buggy CSS in bzero which was actually pretty simple once I got over my phobia of messing with someone else's complicated HTML. I really hope it works because that's the only obvious/visible problem I could really find with it on the whole. It's pretty damn good for a 0.12 release. I just tested that stylesheet hack in Konqueror and it fucks up massively. Anyone else feels like looking and testing for border overlap in whatever funky non-standards compliant browser youhave sitting around I'd appreciate it. Go break little Team Murder in the name of science!

I've also noticed a fair amount of incoming Amiga users. The question here is what sort of horrors those people see when attempting to load my site. What is the Amiga browser these days? I'm willing to bet that it handles CSS a lot like NN 4.7 which is not at all. If you're one of those lucky customers I'd love love love to see a screenshot of this mess.

Yeah, that sleeping stuff, I'm going to try that out.

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It’s Getting Worse

That downed gigabit line is ready to inspire a nervous breakdown. I can log on to the server and look at what has got to be lowest load ever and then watch my site load at the speed of ass. This is incredibly frustrating and I'd be more upset if it wasn't the fault of some nameless upstream backbone. I'm actually considering taking the whole site down until things are working again.

You know things aren't looking bright when the NSA releases a Guide To Securing XP Professtional (that's a link to a downloadable .zip file). I'm skimming the PDF right now but I can't say that I'm comfortable with the fact that there's an .inf file packed in the same directory. It looks pretty pedestrian for the most part with straight forward things that any administrator should be on top of already. The first "tip" is how to put administrative tools in your start menu. Yup. Don't forget to disable guest accounts or refrain from giving them administrative priveleges. I'm sort of hoping this is a hoax.

People highlight, 'OK guys--where's the source code?' I think most people don't want their employees using the source code everyday. Really, they don't. That's a distraction from real work.

A quote from Monkey Boy in another lame attempt to justify the expense and limitations of Microsoft product. He also blathers on about Linux being little but a clone and offering no innovative technology. Just because you can look into the camera with a straight face doesn't make it the truth tubby.

Guess we'll probably need to stop bombing now. Yeesh. Good thing that this whole mess with Iraq came up otherwise this would be seen as quite the cynical move.

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Food, Drink, Errors, Ache

I almost hate to admit it but I really like food journalism. When I lived in the bay area the first thing I flipped to in the Guardian was Dan Leone's Cheap Eats column and not just because he often talked about eating with my friends (under protective pseudonyms, of course) but because I like reading about food. Even when I was a very strict vegan his flow about burgers and steaks made me want to eat. The same think kind of applies to drinking. I generally head for the malt liquor/cheap whiskey block of skid row but this article/interview/expose about absinthe got me all interested. Well, until I read about their absinthe selling for $100/bottle. The history aspect of it is especially interesting given its continued prohibition despite the fact that we know better now. I'm also really into the idea of reverse engineering anything so that aspect piqued my curiosity as well. Clock punching: link via Looka which is solidly centered on eating and drinking. Crap. Another day, another bookmark.

Ugh. My bad tooth started hurting again tonight so I've been periodically rinsing with the overly minty antiseptic mouth wash. The combination of the 'wash and coffee is doing wonders for my palate. Next I will devour a pile of dung. It's actually stopped hurting now but I'm leery lest I start feeling the pulsing, unstoppable juggernaut of pain that I sleeplessly hallucinated through at the beginning of last semester. I still have industrial strength pain killers from that tiptoe through the daisies but I'm hoping that I can leave them in the bottle.

I also found out that my host lost a gigabit line which explains the tremendous slowdown. I knew something weird was up because I SSH'd in and the load looked pretty normal. The index is loading a lot slower than I'd like it to but at least it doesn't time out every other time. Using MT is an exercise in painful finger drumming but I'm hopeful that this will be resolved by the time I drag my carcass out of bed tomorrow, uh, later today. Off to figure out why this printf is not doing anything but no spitting out an error either.

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Suddenly Everything Is Really Funny

Thanks for the emails. I do know the site is running slow as shit. My hosting company is in MD and I'm in CO so I'm not sure that anything will happen to improve the situation today. I do appreciate people letting me know though. I really hope those folks are off doing something fun and not waiting for my email. It just doesn't matter that much.

I kinda figured as much but someone has finally investigated the Recent Referrers script that so many people are using and found bogosity in the results. I'm going to grab a copy of it and have a look see for myself. To give credit where it is due I'm nearly incapable of doing this kinda scripting without something catching on fire or the baby jesus bursting into tears. Stephen is just plain swell for getting it very close to right and commenting his code very thoroughly. Speaking of Perl, the Perl Advent Calendar is seriously cool. While you're at it, go grab this issue of the The Perl Review to read Andy Lester's really funny and enlightening article Extreme Mowing and begin to wonder who is winning the funnier writer in the family contest since Amy has firmly implanted the term "asshat" in my head forever. Quinn is certainly winning the funny facial expression contest, though.

You couldn't ask for a better summary than this:

There are days when I feel like I'm just sitting up in a bamboo tower, with half a coconut over each ear and a reed in front of my face, chanting the magic words "Rah-Jur-Will-Co" all day. I can only hope that the Sky Gods will see my devotion and return; then the pale ghosts will crawl from their bellies bearing the precious Cargo, and the villagers will all drink of the gods' own Ko-Kah-Ko-Lah.

Because I swear that's about the degree of control that Windows administration and troubleshooting tools give you when something goes wrong.

from Weblogging Considered Harmful. No that's quite alright, coffee is supposed to come out of my nose when I'm amused. Yet another thank you is gratefully given.

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Where I Hope We’re Not Going

I've been spending a little time rebuilding the mess of bookmarks that I demolished a couple of months back. They're the one thing that I never think of backing up. In a sense that's a reason that this weblog even exists. I perpetually lose notebooks (which was my old default method of preserving some sense of coherence when continually moving from public machine to public machine -- write everything down) and I have a limited memory for convoluted URLs. I'd entirely forgotten about Librenix and I'm glad that semi-random wandering led me back there. As tired as I'm sure most folks are of the GNU/Linux versus Linux argument, an article over there reminded me precisely why being a pain in the ass about the details is so important. His rant is pretty cohesive and he brings up a number of good points but the entire point of strapping the GNU on (god, that sounds really nasty) is lost in the discussion of technical points. Most of us who code or make things involving the Linux kernel know how important gcc is to the creation and development of it. This is a big contributing factor to everyone being so weary with Stallman's awkward naming of our dear operating system. Being engaged by the technical innards of the beast is the sort of familiarity that breeds contempt or at least impatience. The thing is that there are a lot of people who download an ISO, burn a CD, and are off doing end user tasks. What this ignores is that there is some significant history behind the motivations for developing the kernel and all of the things that float on top of it.

Linus didn't develop the kernel alone (which oddly enough is asserted in the aforementioned article) and he didn't begin the project just because he had nothing better to do. Linux was started because Unix was locked away behind prohibitively expensive licensing at least in part. I don't think that his choice to GPL the whole thing was coincidental no matter how much backpedalling goes on in interviews. I'll grant that part of this is probably due to the fact that the effort is indeed a collaborative one and you don't get people sending you thousands of lines of code when you're going to nail that code into a binary only coffin and pimp it out. But, as I said earlier, we already (or at least should know already know) know all of this.

gcc is usually pretty transparent to most end users even if they're compiling software they've downloaded. In most situations the user runs a configure script, an install script, and forgets all about the process. In the absolute worst case, distributions forgo even the Linux tag and simply name their operating systems whatever which ignores not only the work of the GNU folks but the kernel hackers as well. Lindows is a worst case example as it derives from the work of so many other people but is presented as an independent entity. In this case, you're also ignoring the incredible work of thousands of people involved with Debian. I'd feel like an alarmist of sorts if I didn't witness the weird resentment that end users display towards free software developers. If you followed their logic the most important development ever done on any Linux related product was providing an easy installation. Follow that train of thought back a few steps and you'll start to see a gulf emerging between the spirit of free software development and the spoiled children whining of end users who don't want to hear about it. Substitute all the helpful and productive bug reports you've ever received with a bunch of nasty email complaints telling you how shitty your software is and you might get a glimpse into the future of agnostic open source software. Again, like the GPL, I consider this a measure of self preservation. Do you want a community or do you want a lot of grief?

(An operating system) != (a distribution). Linux is an operating system. By my definition, an operating system is that software which provides and limits access to hardware resources on a computer. That definition applies whereever you see Linux in use. However, Linux is usually distributed with a collection of utilities and applications to make it easily configurable as a desktop system, a server, a development box, or a graphics workstation, or whatever the user needs. In such a configuration, we have a Linux (based) distribution. Therein lies your strongest argument for the unwieldy title 'GNU/Linux' (when said bundled software is largely from the FSF). Go bug the distribution makers on that one. Take your beef to Red Hat, Mandrake, and Slackware. At least there you have an argument. Linux alone is an operating system that can be used in various applications without any GNU software whatsoever. Embedded applications come to mind as an obvious example.

That sounds like a wonderful argument but the sad part is that a majority of the reported GPL violations come from embedded projects which points either to total ignorace of what the GPL is all about, willful concealment in hopes that the violation won't be discovered, or thinking that a couple of dirty hippies with a goat for a logo don't have the resources to do anything about it. In the first issue of the dead tree FSF newsletter Free Software Foundation Bulletin there's a really informative article about this by the GPL Compliance Engineer David Turner. He writes that

A plurality of GPL violations on FSF-copyrighted Free Software are in the embedded market. Companies often port GCC to new chips or boards and distribute the binaries without releasing the source code.[ ...] Corporate lawyers often like to wrap a whole distribution with an End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). Most of the time, such EULAs are incompatible with the GPL, as they attempt to trump the rights that the GPL protects.

I guess the point here is that while the awareness of Linux continues to grow the understanding of or respect for where it comes from seems to decrease. I don't think I'm too far off base by pointing to a correlation here. Unfortunately, a lot of the burden of dealing with explaining how the GPL works falls on the FSF and sometimes they even have to explain how it can coexist with non-free software (again quoted from David Turner)

Sometimes, we have to explain the intricacies of how GPL'd code can be distributed alongside proprietary code (and how it can't).

Sucky isn't it?

I didn't set out to point by point refute the article at Librenix. Hopefully this doesn't come off that way. I just think that people need to step away from the console for a few seconds when considering the validity of Stallman's argument. I don't think fame was ever the motivation for any of his creations and I don't think that it's his motivation for badgering us with the request to use "GNU/Linux." It's just something to give a little consideration to before writing some spleen venting about RMS' stubbornness even though lines seem to be already drawn in the sand for most people at this point even for those who don't know the details of the work he did/does and how important that work is for what we're doing now.

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Drunk On The Pope’s Blood And Also Leftovers

I'm guessing that Zebulun is no longer with us judging by their index these days. Seems like a lot of people who had second generation vanity sites (of the news site -- /. jr. variety) are biting the dust. I wonder how many will resurface in the next few months as weblogs or the like. Once you start shooting off your mouth about all matters geeky it's pretty hard to stop.

One of the funnier emergency case mods I've seen. The innovative closure device beats thumb screws for easy access and adding extra ports seems like it would be a snap or maybe a poke. On the other end of the spectrum if you were seduced into shelling out the scratch for one of those fancy ass iPods and would like to use (the Windows version at least) under a real operating system (thank you Aaron for this snide but very effective term) you're in luck. Here's a very detailed article full of helpful links to help you use that overpriced little widget for good instead of evil. The GNUPod site even has a method of switching HFS iPods over to FAT32 if you really fucked up. Unfortunately you need a working Macintosh for this to work but I imagine if you spent that much money for a fucking MP3 player you probably have at least an iLamp sitting on your desk so go to... I also found a way to host from more than one Mac while nosing around. That way if you want to listen to something on your lilac iLamp instead of your Paisley Spangled Chocolate iBook... Fucking hippies.

I noticed this a little on the late side but ex-lion tamer has the best suggestions for how not to be a total asshole during the holidays that I've seen yet. Thank you.

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Benedictions: Sweet And Unexpected

I'm fighting the need to sleep after eating to an excessive degree. Coffee only seems to help by gallon increments and despite the fact that I have like six pounds of it in the house right now I just don't feel up to the battle. Yoon and I ate xmas dinner with her parents and brother which is sort of the default activity for December 25 but this one was a little different. I won't explicate every detail of it because this just isn't that kind of weblog with the occasional mention of the kitten excepted.

Yoon's dad doesn't exactly dislike me but there's always been a tense heaviness in the room when we're in the same room. The reasons are exactly what you'd expect and I really don't harbor any grudges about it. I respect the fact that he's a bit suspicious of me. I'm a scruffy white kid who doesn't speak the language he's most fluent in and he holds strong religious beliefs that I don't share. Like I said, it's very understandable. This Christmas was different, though, and I'm not sure exactly why but the lack of tension was palpable. We all hung out and watched a movie. Everything just seemed as normal as it possibly could be until dinner.

Although I don't have any religious beliefs to speak of I do honor others when they say grace by bowing my head or whatever. It's a matter of politeness and a matter of respect. Anyway, grace was said entirely in Korean so Ididn't really catch a word of it. The Korean words I know are all food related which is something that needs to change in the future but didn't help me in understanding what Yoon's father was saying. When the prayer was over I looked over at Yoon only to see tears rolling down her face and her dad exiting for the deck. Awkward hardly describes how I felt because I have no idea what the hell is going on and none of the other people in the room who all speak Korean in varying fluency are helping me out. So, I just fucking sit there and wait for something to happen. What I didn't understand was that Yoon's dad was praying for me and my future presumably with his daughter. I don't know how to properly express the sweetness of that in comprehensible terms either here. Believer or non-believer it's nice to have someone saying nice things about you in the most reverent application they're capable of. I have a terrible case of the warm and fuzzies. I'm probably not explaining this well but the full significance of it didn't really sink in until I was on the way home. I hugged her dad for the first time today and even though it was an awkward man hug I really meant it. Christmas presents become more elaborate and emotionally charged all the time.

Speaking of which, Yoon made a annonotated photo album for my gift. It has pictures from when we first started seeing (ugh for lack of a better term) each other. I am a very content kid right now. I hope I deserve all of this.

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Good Will To (Wealthy/Straight) Men…

Two quick tragedies to link/relate then away to sleep and nightmare:


Mississippi Justice Court Judge Connie Wilkerson had written a letter to the editor of the George County Times against the California law that allows gay partners the same right to sue for wrongful death as legal spouses or family members.

Judge Wilkerson wrote, "In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute instead of having a law like this passed for them."

and here

State efforts to provide prescription drugs to low-income people suffered a setback today as the United States Court of Appeals here struck down a pioneering program established by the State of Maine.

Bruce Lott, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, praised the court decision, saying it vindicated the industry's view that the Maine initiative was "an inappropriate expansion of the Medicaid program."

Fuck those poor sick folks. They won't do a damn thing for the economy. I guess I'm irked by this because I'm forced to pay $350 a semester for health insurance that covers $5 of my prescriptions. I'm diabetic so I'm faced with a pay up or die scenario. I'm not a fan of the pharmaceutical companies.

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Clever Hacks For The Ugly Duckling

Huh. Although this problem isn't one that really concerns me anymore, there is a hack for getting around the PNG transparency problem with IE 5.5. I did my bimonthly check in at a list apart to find out what I'm doing wrong these days and their current article is all about this problem. While I personally recommend evacuating the rats from this particular sinking ship there are folks who don't have this option and this might be a boon for them. IE is pretty much the only browser on the block that doesn't fully support the PNG format. I stopped trying a long time ago and I suggest that if this is an option for you that you do the same. Running around like idiots to support a broken piece of software makes us look, well, idiotic. There's also a nice rundown of how to deal with the box sizing CSS problem in IE if you're really going to pimp your ass out instead of adhering to standards.

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Invest In Kevlar

I get piles and reams and sheer pounds of computer industry magazines every week for reasons I don't quite comprehend. I think it has to do with a short lived website I used to run that pissed a lot of people off. Anyway, these are targeted at people who work in technology and not with it so there is a lot of bandying of buzzwords (I promise I'll spare everyone the blink tags this time around) and faux evaluations of whatever the flavor of the month happens to be. For some reason Linux seems to be on every other page. I don't feel one way or another about this really but I'm getting a little tired of hearing the same meaningless term leaking out of the same clueless hacks week after week. Well, at least when I actually read these magazines instead of using them for placemats or rolling them up to funnel catfood from the twenty pound bag into the smaller container with a spout.

The proper pairing for Linux (at least this month) is TCO which means Total Cost of Ownership for those not firmly under the influence of three letter acronyms. This is the big argument against Linux adoption by the analysts and always comes at the end of a long list of perfectly good reasons to ditch the yoke of Microsoft software in terms of licensing and that awful operating system they're always trying to pawn off on us. It's getting to be a bit of a joke for me. Anytime someone offers me a piece of candy or something I pause, switch to a grave facial expression, and ask, "But what's the projected TCO of this snack over the next five years?" OK, so most people don't think it's very funny but that isn't really the point. The point is that this metric is almost meaningless. Sure it sounds really impressive and I'm sure it averages out a little more realistically when you're talking about a car or something. In this case it just seems like an excuse.

Seriously, I know a few people who are well along the Microsoft Certified Shill training path and they really don't know much about how either the operating system or the applications that run on it work. Apparently they just wave chicken bones over the details and teach you where things are in the menu hierarchy. When people are awed and mystified by the use of strace to debug a misfiring application you know you're in the company of well trained dullards. Then again, we're also talking about a bunch of folks who are still carefully mulling over a transition from NT 4.0. They're not the sharpest knives in the drawer but I'm afraid they're typical. This is where any validity of the TCO argument comes from. Your people don't know shit. Linux doesn't wizard you through a bunch of confirmed defaults and offer up a 1-800 to invoke Tier Four ninjas when something goes wrong. That is not the fault of an operating system. That is just shitty operations planning and investment in a carefully groomed pile of horseshit.

That weird certification training is kind of like a business suit. Anyone can go buy something like that off a rack and suddenly they're trustworty and compentent. As someone who "cleans up well" I've witnessed that effect personally. So IT departments fill up with very reliable looking bots who aren't going to freak out and show up for work with a sawed off shotgun and a collection of sonnets detailing their disdain for this workaday world but keeping the pre existing infrastructure afloat is all that group is really capable of. I'm not saying that anyone is stupid but by the nature of their training (as opposed to opening the hood and learning by backfires and explosions) by clicking and pointing and calling engineers who tell them to reboot they're not particularly imaginative or even reasonably flexible. There's a problem so the obvious answer is to call in a consultant.

Are we really worried about actual dollars here? Hustle these cretins off to H.R., switch the operating systems to something sane and configurable, and hire two experienced admins to replace twelve doorstops with certificates from the Tech College Behind Jiffy Lube. Savings? Nothing but you know HR has the bottomless budget so let them worry about it. Meanwhile the bulk of the applications are free and the servers stay up with very little loving if you don't fuck with them continually.

Maybe I'm just bitter, myopic, and unfocused but I still think I'm seeing this more clearly than the analysts releasing meaningless reports that will be excerpted in meaningless articles aimed at management types.

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Tao Te Ching For Right This Second

It is easier to carry an empty cup
than one that is filled to the brim.

The sharper the knife
the easier it is to dull.
The more wealth you possess
the harder it is to protect.
Pride brings it's own trouble.

When you have accomplished your goal
simply walk away.
This is the path way to Heaven.

from the j.h.mcdonald translation which is in the public domain.

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Beats The Shit Out Of Freon

A quick one off here: Interesting article about using sound as a cooling device. This is, of course, intended for replacing freon in refrigerators but the applications are practically limitless.

"You've got a tremendous amount of sound in there, 190 decibels. Above the pain threshhold," he says. "But it all stays inside that rigid tube, reflecting back and forth, building up." The steady pulse sets the air in the resonator quivering.

"There's a pressure differential created," Zhang explains. "The pressure in the tube is highest at the ends, and lower in the middle. So when a blob of air moves toward the end of the tube, the pressure on it is increased. The blob is compressed, and its temperature rises. Then it moves back toward the middle, where the pressure is less. It expands and cools off."

At very least you'd know for sure when the coolant started leaking. I suggest The Melvins for maximum resonance and stoner cred.

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Post Breakfast Introverted Navel Contemplation

Yoon bought me breakfast today and because I got biscuits and gravy by default we started talking about the (dirty) South and how its perceived in the popular imagination. Well, it was nothing that formal but it came up because a lot of people think that I'm from the (dirty) South even though I'm completely sans accent. For most folks this has absolutely nothing to do with my eating habits but more to do with how I deal with people.

I'm not a social person by any means. I like small groups of people that I'm at least acquainted with and an environment for congregation that doesn't require shouting for conversation. I've worn the lamp shade more than a few times but even then, in my own mind, it was a drunken situation involved a couple of people and not a crowded room. The really contradictory part about all of this is that I'm normally pretty polite to people unless they're explicitly rude to someone. You don't want me in line behind you at the grocery store if you're the type that takes aggression out on under paid service workers. I will smack the shit out you for putting someone else in that position or at least threaten to. I have zero patience for situations like those or even people who presume that they have the upper hand in situations like those.

This makes Denver a very difficult city to live in. This place is in the throes of some of the worst growing pains I've ever witnessed. I missed all but the very beginning of the dotcom tsunami of gentrification in Oakland so I got to evade that particular tragedy. People are fucking rude here and seemingly very proud of it like I'm some kind of candy ass because I'm nice to old ladies. I'm not sure how much of that has to do with the old ladies in Oakland being completely unafraid of slapping you around if you were being an asshole but it's definitely stuck with me. I'm guessing that the contrast (especially given my "asshole from California" status in the eyes of, uh, locals) is what confuses people. I also have a major problem with the lack of propriety most people display but that's a whole different thing. It's not a case of being shocked or something but more of embarrassment and disappointment when people do stupid, offensive shit in the wrong context and are conscious of it. That's the killer -- being fully aware of how lame you are. I'm infamous for accidentally saying "motherfucker" overly loud in the toy department but I never intend to do it or feel anything but horrible afterwards. I don't think I'm explaining this well... thinking in public is one of the dangerous aspects of weblogging especially since someone that harbors an all but academic grudge is probably waiting in the wings with hammer, nails, and crucifix for me to really fuck up but hey...

Everyone wish kd a speedy recovery -- she's in the howling wasteland of dial up. Ouch.

I've had a couple people ask me what I though about the Sun/Microsoft court decision. I absolutely despise Java because it is so over used. It can be the right tool for some jobs but it tends to be a gigantic bandaid solution for any programming issue. Whatever. Want Java? Go download the shit and leave me out of it. Uh, I really intend to sound that hostile...must be the electronic xmas music being pumped into the street at top volume getting under my skin.

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Hello. My Name Is Egg.

So, take a minute and go listen to this huge ass audio file of Kevin Smith talking about the very strange ordeal of working with Prince on a documentary that will never see the light of day.

I spent some time trying to help someone build a site with this monstrosity. All I have to say is that Oracle is indeed a horrible aberration that requires the intercession of white coated technicians, an air hammer, a legal team, and more patience than I will ever have. I've never read so much documentation without accomplishing anything. I created a directory on my machine specifically for Oracle documentation and I'm sorting things by "Useless", "Not Applicable", and "Sadistic." The sadistic directory has been the most helpful so far. The number of times that I've asked the "Do you really need this" question in the past four hours is incalcuable. Sometimes you really don't need to built a fortress to keep your car out of the rain. I can't believe I just said that but this seems like a very baroque solution to a fairly simple problem. I've hopelessly broken it three times by simply following directions. One reinstall and I am done with this stuff forever.

I've been dicking around with several of the demo versions of CMS' over at Open Source CMS to console myself. If you're thinking about implementing a less blog-like infrastructure this place will give you a little insight into what you're getting yourself into. I have to say that e107 looks pretty fucking cool. I hate building stuff that I'm going to tear down in a day or two but the demo available just isn't enough to satisfy my piqued curiousity. All of that fascinating janitorial work...Gah.

Shouldn't Yahoo just go away? Do people really use that ridiculous site anyway? The only thing that keeps it from lumbering into the tarpit of commercialized search engines that couldn't is its reliance on Google. At least the way things are presently, you can actually get relevent search results instead of the affiliate based crappy crap that Yahoo was serving up in the not so recent past. I only hope that this will be the final move that brings the whole rotten shambles down. Google needs real competition on the technology side not buffet style marketing switches bi-weekly. If you compare the two, it's obvious who spends their budget on TV ads and who is pushing the technology envelope. Die vampire die!

From the check yo' fucking facts file: "If you're a programmer who has a minimum of eight years enterprise experience with XML, we might have the right position for you!" Ah, that's right -- isn't someone working on a XML time machine you fucking buzzword vulture?

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I finally cleared the list of bug reports I've meant to send all week. Normally I'm more on top of this stuff to a degree that annoys some developers and causes others to say that when they see a piece of mail with my name attached it's never a good thing. I'm not one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. I just read documentation and play too roughly with my toys. C++ is not really my language of choice and I've pretty much avoided it as much as possible for a very long time so my helpfulness in submitting patches is somewhat limited. This has to change at some point because it's starting to make me feel like a continual bearer of bad news with nothing helpful to contribute. I'm going to do a little C++ breaking over the break and hopefully get a better handle on the points that I don't understand completely or that I totally misunderstand.

Speaking of which, this essay over at Generation 5 that Kenneth Hunt linked a couple of days back is really making me want to try out some of the AI languages. I have to admit that Smalltalk is looking like a really sweet alternative to some of the scarier languages like Lisp. It's kind of a bummer that all the sample applications are intended for Win32. I grabbed some of the included sources just to get a basic idea. It probably isn't something that I'll have too much time for in the near future but it's something to motivate me to wean myself from too much time spent on #debian answering the same twenty questions over and over again.

Progress Quest is totally brilliant and has been accelarating under my nose undetected. All we need is a Linux port and I can run this puppy as a cron job a few times a day. Haven't you always wanted to play a Dung Elf Battle-Felon? Haven't you?! Liar!

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I Am An Official Card Carrying Software Communist.

I followed Mark's lead in and I am member #167. Although I'm constantly insisting that others RTFM I didn't actually read the fine print too carefully and didn't realize that I could just have my shit billed monthly. I'm glad to finally put a little money where I shoot my mouth off and not have to come with a lump of cash all at once to do it. I'd love to join at the regular level but given the fact that I am indeed a full time student and simultaneously broke as fuck... Go help out!

Hey Sylpheed for Win32!

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Making Little Sense Is Job One

Someday Microsoft will accomplish its dream of tying together every single application on your entire machine. Monkey Boy wants this because he and his wife use scheduling software with incompatible formats. Stuff like this this is only the tip of the iceberg. It's like watching a slow and kinda funny countdown to oblivion. This also affects WinAmp. There are patches for both so if you're running this shit go get 'em.

If you've thought about buying one of those $199 Microtel machines from Wal-Mart (which I didn't actually see listed but they do in face exist -- might be a deal from Lycoris or something) here's an overview of the buyer process. It isn't as a review of the OS but of the customer experience. Apparently Microtel has been neglecting to supply the card with the root password along with the boxen. While this wasn't a problem for this fella mainly because he's experienced with Linux, this could be a major fuck up for people who are new to the idea of a root account even existing. Ouch. Thirty minutes on hold seems more than a little ridiculous.

Based on my observations from the Lycoris Community Support pages, it appears that Microtel needs to work on the establishment of a "Final QA" before these boxes leave the floor. It seems that there have been several instances where the Product ID card (which contains the needed passwords) has been missing, or as in my case, had to identical labels rather than the 1 label for the user and 1 label for the system password.

As far as a machine goes... It's really not all that bad for a first time user machine. However, the selection of Linux, though cost-effective, I don't feel is quite ready for prime-time as far as first-time users are concerned. Keep in mind, these units are being sold at Wal-Mart and as such, it must be taken in to consideration that most people purchasing these rock-bottom priced units are very likely to be first-time users. As such, I believe the system could still be a little friendlier. Making it clear on how to set the unit up for access to an ISP, or using it with an existing cable-modem.

In conclusion, though this machine would be a perfect machine for someone like my Mom, who is not techno-literate, it would be just fast enough to serve her needs. However, I don't think it would be a system that she could set up herself without numerous calls to Seattle to ask me for help. By then frustration would surely have set in and she would want to take it back.

Odd search result for today: Linux and anti-semitism. Insert big sigh here because if you look hard enough for something you're going to find it.

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I Gotta Remember To Never Get Off The Boat

I'm asking myself why I haven't looked at Kenneth's site for the past couple of days and instead torturing myself with bad news sites and their snotty fifteen year old audience. Why put yourself through that when you can just slide over to and get the best and most relevant parts of the important stuff from someone who does indeed know their shit. That said, Bochs had a new release over the past couple of days. Rumor has it that some folks are running XP on it now. I'm so close to nuking my little XP partition if only to regain the space. The fact that I've never really gotten much further with most emulation than reading documentation might slow me down a little bit but hey...

A somewhat funny but mostly token jab at one of the more famous bloggers out there tries but falls a little flat. I mean the original is a little on the dull side but...

Yaay. Another shitty pay-for-inclusion portal (remember kids, at Team Murder all over used to the point of meaningless buzzwords blink!) shows up in the logs. I have no idea how long this particular piece of shit has existed but I have the feeling that very few have kicked down any cash. How fucking stupid do you need to be to launch a site like this. Maybe if I send them twenty bucks they'll just go away.

Just got the heads up about this little gem via the news fire hose. It's pretty funny because the writer (who has a singularly unflattering portrait next to her column) is really trying to push the "this is what happens to people who want democracy under the iron fist of Communism" angle so we'll all gaze fondly at the crying eagle mirror we won at the state fair and remind ourselves that we're lucky to live somewhere where things like this (the no registration required version with links to the real deal if you really remember your login or want to bother with creating like the fifth account in two weeks just to read a goddamn news article that glues some fat onto Reuters fodder) will never happen. To be fair and properly salt the hyperbole, the Chinese are being subjected to tyrannical invasions of privacy and whatnot but no one there is telling citizens that it's necessary to defend their freedoms. Yes this is all very obvious but these smug right leaning pig fuckers are very expensive in terms of patience. It being the season to prove your love with debt and all I'm fresh out. If you've ever thought about goading me into calling you a "pig fucker" or something now would be the best opportunity. Trollbait is now being accepted for review and possible inclusion in my shitty, pessimistic outlook on the world. If you'd like to guarantee inclusion please email me your card number and expiration date and I'll feel a whole lot better about everything.

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Dude, Where’s My Killer App?

I've been messing around with Phillip Pearson's command line blogging tool bzero. I made a little site to monkey around with the tool and hopefully help with some bug reportage. It's here although it's mainly about how much I dislike vi and twiddling cascading style sheets. Woo. I think bzero is going to be a really cool thing in the future. Hell, it's a really cool thing now but being version 0.12 there is only greatness in the future. I'm giving half a thought to switching this site over when it's stable. Nothing against Moveable Type at all but I'd rather help debug something that isn't fantastically popular and widely used. There is the fact that I actually paid for MT but I'll try to forget all about that. I've used it for nearly a year now so my piddly donation is hardly even a rental fee.

Damn. I'm totally shitty broke right now but as soon as there's a little more scratch in the coffers I'm going to join up. Yup. The Free Software Foundation is offering memberships. That would funnel some of the money I give Debian elsewhere temporarily but when thinking about it the chicken and egg question keeps coming up. If you've got some money laying around and complicating things now would be the time to make the commitment. Shit, I've benefitted more from GNU software in the past year that I will from PBS in a lifetime.

Oh, I played with Spring on a G3 at work. If this is the future of computing then the future of computing is a lot like the America Online of the past. I'm not blaming the developers in particular. They've done a good job with the software. It's the delight that so many people are expressing at being able to drag and drop shop. This thing is like a commercial frontend for e-commerce (all outdated buzzwords used in a sarcastic context will now blink) sites to sell you shit. Who needs cookies when you've got software Kool-Aid right there on your desktop. I'm a little creeped out by the whole thing. I mean you can't really blame the developers for pandering to commercial interests when they're trying to make money but the users, jesus, are they insane? The future of computing is indeed bleak for those who chug the Kool-Aid. I don't understand at all. On the other hand, if the commercial push is the gist of this application I don't see why corporate sponsorship couldn't make this freeware so at least the bullshit (that largely overshadows the benefits) would be free like god intended. In any case it would be a better piece of mershware than the purple Prince of Darkness, Bonzi Buddy.

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Let’s All Be Doozers

I took OS News out of the links today. Every single time I drop by there I leave with a bad taste in my mouth. It used to be a pretty cool place with a pretty diverse set of topics (albeit operating system related) but it's rapidly turned into a troll haven. Actually it's always been a troll haven but back then they were trolling about Amiga and BeOS and not XP. It isn't really a useful place anymore so I'm not linking it. Don't want it, don't need it, and I hate sending people anywhere with that many ads and pop ups in wait for them.

I'm building up the new Debian unstable CD images. I just realized that unstable now takes up 11 freakin' CDs. That is the kind of insanity that makes me proud. Go team!

Looks like Mandrake is in financial ttrouble again and sending out the "Donate now or God will call me home" letters to everyone who might give a shit. I've recieved four today. I really wonder if they're ever going to work their way out of this pattern. Although I'm not particularly fond of the way that they organize their distro I am a big fan of the availibility and freedom of it. I'd hate to see them go down but the more I think about it the more inevitable it seems. You'd think with the amount of energy RedHat spends grabbing its ankles for corporate respect that some of it would rub off on the more desktop friendly derivative. Probably won't happen...

Hippies write viruses too. This particular kook actually called himself Gobo which I'm sure is the name of some deity of sheepherding but I just keep thinking of Fraggle Rock. I'm a dork.

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No Explosions At My House

After hearing about Spring ninety thousand times from people that really should know what they're talking about I wandered over to the site to take a look. The future is apparently a kiosk. In the mall. In Candyland. Any technology that uses Colorforms as its principal guiding light is just too fruity for me to pass on. I'll install it on the OS X machine in my cube tomorrow because I have absolutely nothing better to do. It's like having a form letter to send the world...

I finally got around to installing Brad Choate's excellent MTSanitize plugin. I've had it sitting around forever in some obscuro sub directory and a link over at Anil's reminded me. I'm stripping out everything but the essentials. I recommend you do the same if you haven't already. I'm sure most folks already have but I'm lame enough to think that something is really important and then bury it for a couple of months. Go figure. Speaking of which, if you're not visiting Anil's sidebar every once in awhile you're really missing out.

Speaking of security, check out this little tidbit from Open For Business' review of Xandros

Although a heroic effort was made to make Xandros Networks appear to fit in with the rest of the system, there is simply no hiding the fact that this "application" is really a series of web pages with fancy JavaScript coding. OfB Labs is completely puzzled as to why Xandros took this approach rather than the native KDE/Qt route like they did with Xandros File Manager. The system does do its job, but running a web server on port 8080 serving up web pages for the purpose of installing packages does leave a lot to be desired.

To begin with, this seems like a serious security hazard. Without using so much as a password, we were able to take another computer on a remote network and browse around the Xandros Networks tool as if it where a normal web server. This allowed us to see what applications where and where not installed, and even revealed what security updates where needed on the system. While the program does not install any software without entry of the root password, just revealing exactly what possible security flaws exist on the system seemed troublesome to say the least. Fortunately, it does seem that Xandros has released a patch for this problem, an update that everyone should download as soon as they install this distribution.

Although there is a patch for this it leaves fresh installs vulnerable. This is another perfect example of why leaving some of the claws and fangs in the operating system is a good idea. Occasionally I'll need to give old Apache a dusting off for one reason or another (last time it was a demonstration to a couple of less than clueful folks that I could indeed run a webserver on a 366 laptop) and I'm terrified to leave that shit up and running for any longer than I absolutely need to. I'm paranoid but then again it's been a very long time since my last machine compromise. Something to think about when you're weighing ease of use with security. I guarantee that recent Linux converts are going to be a lot less forgiving about security breaches than they were when using Windows.

I've also been playing around with bzero a little bit. When I get the chance to fiddle around and probably break it some more I'll write about it a little more extensively. The basic premise is fan-fucking-tastic for those of my temperment -- command line, infinitely hackable, and having little flab on it. It's fast and as friendly as it needs to be. It is written in Python which is only a downside because I'm not as familiar with the language. This is probably a good excuse to catch up and get over my hang up about the indentation being part of the actual structure of the code. I don't imagine that using proper style for once in my remarkably mediocre coding career is going to kill me.

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Never, Ever Sleep and Write This

Jesus. No I mean that literally and in reference to foreign policy. Yes it is premium content but the teaser page (ya think their marketing folks refer to them as "teasers"?) is enough to give you a few damaging quotes and the general gist. Dewey's supporters are disappointed. I urge them each to adopt 25-50 children or just kill themselves and donate their functional pancreas to me. Thanks.

Odd syncronicity here but Temple of the Screaming Penguin noticed the same weird thing that I did: McDonalds is down and RedHat is profitable. Same production principles with wildly varying results.

I [heart] hate mail
Especially when it's pointless and angry and wrong. I said a couple of days back that I'm done coming up with elaborate workarounds to deal with the inabilities of IE 5.5 to deal with any sort of standard CSS. Being called a "snob" in reference to this is somewhat strange. Although I'm not a fan of your operating system of choice, there are literally tons of available browsers out there for your platform of choice that do just fine with CSS. When I call you a loser because you use Windows exclusively you'll know it and won't need to read any deeper into things. I'm also going to switch the index to display posts for the last 70 daysin hopes of alienating anyone coming in via dial up...

Don't forget to pay your asshole tax asshole. Prison? I really hope so. That way he can enjoy the disproportionate number of black males in prison. It may be "change of heart" time since he might actually speak or otherwise interact with a person of color. Don't drop the soap, fucko.

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Average and Weenie-rific

So, Gnu-Darwin is discontinuing active development for the PPC platform due to the complications with Apple's APSL licensing scheme. While I'm pretty certain that this akin to suicide for the project (at least in terms of gaining users and by extension more testing and bug reporting) I have to say that I'm glad they made a clear break with Apple. Despite the usual whining and incoherent corporate boosterism on MacSlash about this, I really do think they're doing the right thing especially since there are already forks in Darwin anyhow and the APSL is only beneficial for Apple in the long run. One of the brilliant features of that particular license is that it gives Apple the right to clobber your project and close up the codebase whenever it feels like it.

12.2 Effect of Termination. Upon termination, You agree to immediately stop any further use, reproduction, modification, sublicensing and distribution of the Covered Code and to destroy all copies of the Covered Code that are in your possession or control. All sublicenses to the Covered Code which have been properly granted prior to termination shall survive any termination of this License. Provisions which, by their nature, should remain in effect beyond the termination of this License shall survive, including but not limited to Sections 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.2 and 13. No party will be liable to any other for compensation, indemnity or damages of any sort solely as a result of terminating this License in accordance with its terms, and termination of this License will be without prejudice to any other right or remedy of any party.

It isn't the worst license in the world but I sure wouldn't want to operate under it. Lawyers like the BSD License too. If y'all wanna volunteer for Apple, be my guest but please don't act like you're fighting the evil empire. You're just building another with even more noxious aspects like brand loyalty portrayed as some kind of consumer martyrdom.

I chatted briefly with Dru earlier this evening and realized that I open an IM client and completely forget about it nearly every time I log onto a different box. I'm not anti-social I just run 15 virtual desktops with something going on in each one. Hit the candylike button, I'm much nicer in first person.

There's a short interview with Colin from the Debian Desktop Project over at Desktop Linux. It's an interesting conversation if only because Colin mentions that he hopes the desktop project will eventually be folded into Debian proper.

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