Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

30Sep/03Off

Prove It!

It's up to 356 bucks. What a great idea.

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30Sep/03Off

Not What Needs To Get Filtered But Who

There's an interesting article about false positives in spam filtering over at TechNewsWorld taking into account people in business and whatnot. I work on a college campus so we pretty much don't filter anything and most of the mail accounts that don't use some kind filtering on their own get pummeled. It doesn't help that our LDAP is world readable either but I won't dwell on that particular piece of clueless policy. That is exactly the problem, though, administrators who take the path of least resistance route when dealing with policy. On one hand, our admins want iron fisted control of all network resources (which I think is a good idea) but on the other hand to approximate that kind of control they'll slap whatever commercial product into the mix that seems like it's going to be less work (in both installation and upkeep) for them and offer the user less "confusing" choices. From what I've been able to observe from very limited experience with individual user spam woes most of them become savvy very quickly when burdened with enough of it. They'll learn through pain and suffering or simply grow numb.

It becomes an entirely different question when considering ISPs though. How much do I trust my ISP to decide what is and isn't what I want? Not a whole lot but many ISPs are implementing spam filtering that doesn't pay very much attention to the needs of its users. I thought the argument about potential lawsuits between ISPs and subscribers over important mail (meaning essentially lost business) lost in the seething tides of spam. Blackhole lists are probably the worst about his because they give the end user absolutely zero control over their mail.The last worm outbreak landed me on a couple of blackhole lists simply because my address was in an infected user's address book. I don't use Outlook or even an operating system that it would run on so I know it's not my fault. With a blackhole list the burden of proving my innocence rests entirely with me assuming of course that I can even reach a human to evaluate my claim. It's only going to get stickier as time goes on since spam filtering has blossomed into a full on buzzword uttered at meeting by PHBs and other bottom feeders. With an increasing number of poorly implemented filters and dependence on things like blackhole lists and commercially managed filtering software white listing is almost inevitable.

I'm much more likely to advocate a mail client that has filtering capabilities (I thought Apple's mail.app was a pretty good implementation of that idea) so the ability to spam filter is there without putting the responsibility elsewhere especially when that responsibility is handled by a non-human facility. I don't think that it's too much to ask for people to handle their own filtering but again the laziness principle prevails with the ubiquitousness of Outlook on the business desktop. Maybe if we feed the admins cookies laced with clue...

ps. When I say "admin" I don't in any sense mean that as a pejorative against people who do actual technical work and keep systems running. I mean it in the sense of people who attend meetings, take long lunches, and call vendors when they have trouble. We are bursting at the seams with the latter so you'll have to forgive me if I sound a little more cranky and hostile than usual.

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30Sep/03Off

Some Things Aren’t Even Worth Free

So for reasons that I'm not going to go into (although you can probably guess) I ended up with a copy of Lindows last night along with a year's worth of access to their often vaunted Click-N-Run warehouse. I just wanted to do a basic install and upgrade the machine to the point where I thought it was usable. I think there's a lingering "linux, especially Debian company" guilt attached to Lindows that makes me want to at least go through the motions of installing and configuring it before I denounce it completely. I did.

The first download of the OEM .iso passed its checksum with flying colors but wouldn't boot after I burned the CD. Fine. I should probably mention that you can't (at least as far as I could find) just see a checksum but have to use their automated checksum checker. This is only the beginning of my frustrations with the opacity of the system. Things are hidden. So, second download of an .iso was the full install version which failed to checksum. The third download also failed but I was a little frustrated at this point after downloading 1800 megs of useless ISO so I just burned the damn thing. Bingo. It boots fine. Apparently Lindows has instituted a backwards checksum functionality; if it passes then don't use it.

The install is very fast. The whole thing from boot to reboot probably took 15 minutes on my PII 366. You're automatically logged in as root which is suck. People have said that you're given more flexibility about setting up accounts during installation but there were no offers to set up regular user accounts just the "optional" security password. I don't care how "difficult" it is to deal with the idea of multiple accounts on a single user machine. Making a box insecure by default on installation is unacceptable. I created a user account using the user manager which is just the standard KDE affair renamed. This brings me to another very annoying part about the default Lindows install. Things are randomly renamed (although I'm sure the folks at Lindows would prefer that I said 'rebranded') so if you're at all familiar with the usual available software in your average Linux distribution then you're going to be launching applications just to figure out what they actually are. I guess that's where I fail to be part of the Lindows business plan -- I sort of know what I'm doing already.

Next step is setting up Click-N-Run after a brief configuration of a DSL connection. Actually I wasn't happy about the way that was set up either. Normally the network connection type wizards give you an option to start the connection at boot or to manually start it. Since this is a laptop and does occasionally leave the coffee table in front of our couch this feature was more of a bug than anything. Click-N-Run is actually pretty quick and easy to set up. It suffers from the 'rebranding' obfuscation as well with cutesy renamings prominently featuring the Lindows name. What is also surprising is how little software is available and how many of the categories are just plain empty. I got emacs21 up and running and then went hunting for a Mozilla Firebird substitute. Galeon was the answer as it often is but it failed to install. Then I tried a different version listed with Nautilus support that also failed to install. Well, at least the installer was honest or so I though until I started installing FTP clients and watching them fail when attempting to launch them. I took advantage of my 'advanced' status and ran gFTP from an xterm to find a whole sea of permissions errors. It was a simple bad configuration. Two trial downloads later I'm beginning to realize that none of the FTP clients will launch. Not good. Not good at all. This is exacerbated by the fact that Lindows is intended for a very end user audience that is presumably hooked by the advertised ease of installation and will be rewarded with segfaults and errors that they'll never even see.

The whole ordeal only lasted for slightly over an hour but I was happy to get the rickety contraption off my machine. I'm not exactly sure what it is that the proponents of Lindows see in this package that makes it so superior to the other distributions in their minds. I got my copy for free and I feel ripped off.

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29Sep/03Off

Current Conditions: Hostile

Saw a heads up on the Politech list about this lovely bit of pretzel logic about the advocacy of free speech by librarian. OK, yeah, so it is indeed Town Hall that we're talking about and rises like stink from the National Review but this is surprising even from the backwoods of the hereditary meritocracy. I'm not going to quote anything because it's all flamebait at very best but it's an interesting angle that usually is used by the right to argue the validity of the NRA even when the organization is spending all of its time lobbying for the legality of Saturday Night Specials.

Sure, kill the librarians because the columnists and editors who want to have some latitude over what they publish and how are next. Oh, wait, I nearly forgot that their team is temporarily on top. It won't be that way forever, chump, and then you can go back to bemoaning the moral decrepitude of the administration and never, ever think about a library again.

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28Sep/03Off

Whirling Pentagram In The Sky

It's the end of another weekend and there is an abandoned keg on the porch. Yoon's birthday is this Tuesday so we took the graceful weekend solution. She was actually drunk for the first time ever last night. Woo hoo. I overslept by many hours and awoke not knowing what day it was and assuming that it was a weekday and that I'd slept right through my classes. Fantastic.

We had some folks over very late last night (which probably explains the warm stale keg of domestic pisswater that occupies our porch right now) and I had a couple of very interesting conversations. One of them was with the one scientist in our group of friends who I've had great conversations with in the past about Linux in relation to scientific work and the like. Mike is a swell guy. The usual dorking around with the laptop ensued and he showed me some pictures from Isabel. What makes them interesting are the distinct star shapes that formed at the eye of the hurricane. Go look at the photos and gasp in horror as you realize that one of them is indeed a perfect pentagram. Scary.

Also noticed a posting on /. that points to a great article called "The cult of the NDA" which is worth a read especially if you've ever been stuck working under one of them.

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27Sep/03Off

Terms Of Disservice

I've been just as annoyed as anyone with Verisign's massive breakage of the internet as anyone else but one thing that never occurred to me was disagreeing with their terms of service. In fact I didn't realize that they'd even bothered with something like a TOS for something that no one willingly uses. Within they inform you that their services are "free of charge" and "may be terminated at any time without notice." I'm hoping that the entire thing will simply disappear before it becomes the huge embarrassment that it rightfully should be.

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26Sep/03Off

Something To Play With Until It Breaks

Liferea is a cool little aggregator that looks and works a lot like Feed Reader which I know a number of folks are totally in love with and really wish that it could be directly ported to a Linux environment. This is basically what you're looking for although it's not exactly stable yet. I grabbed the .deb from the downloads page and it did indeed install flawlessly but I used my own RDF feed to test it out. It crashed the first time that I pasted the entire URL into the "add feed" dialog and then simply didn't work when I used the address minus the 'http://' tacked onto the beginning. Once I edited the entry and put back the beginning of the whole URL lifefrea took off like a scalded cat. It's fast and very configurable so I can deal with the alpha/beta crashiness for the moment.

One thing that I always find interesting about standalone .deb packages is that they almost never add a menu entry when installed. This seems odd because Debian has a unified menu system that gets rid of a lot of the KDE/Gnome-centricity that other distros fall into. It would be nice to have a menu entry for even beta software because to be perfectly honest I'm going to forget all about it in a couple of days. Bug squishing isn't helped when people forget that they even have the software installed. I know it's nitpicky but I think that extra step would be beneficial for both developers and users. I'm pretty sure that there are more than a few OS/free software developers that would be happy to never see a bug report from me again. I tend to stumble on really craptacular bugs and I have sort of a guilt complex about it. Some days I feel like the guy from the military that has to pay visits to announce the death of a family member. OK, hyperbole but you get the point.

Go grab a copy of Liferea, though. It's not ready for production (like feed reading is production work) but I think it's an open ended enough application to give the fussbudgets something to play around with for 45 minutes or so. This is also very high up on my "check back in on this project in a couple of months" list. That list is freakishly long these days which I think really says something about the quality of software that people have been working on over the past year or so. I'm not saying that things weren't amazingly good in the past but the momentum seems to have been bumped up a notch in the last year. That's good news for everybody.

Oh, and it's also very nice that Liferea has its help files built in as channels. That is a fine idea that keeps documentation matched with its version.

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25Sep/03Off

Paychecks At Stake Apparently

You've really got to wonder what is going on editorially over at @stake. You've got to be nearly insane to fire someone for having a dissenting opinion when you absolutely need credibility when reporting on security issues. How spineless is:

"Participation in and release of the report was not sanctioned by @Stake," the security and consulting company said. "The values and opinions of the report are not in line with @Stake's views."

anyway? Of course, MS denies having anything to do with this and everyone sadly shakes their heads. After you take that big chunk of venture capital it's probably best to write a script to write press releases and then get the hell out of there. l0pht used to crank out security info worth reading before the bad penny came rolling in and ruined their credibility.

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24Sep/03Off

Fifteen Stitches

Huh. ActiveState was acquired as "anti-spam experts" by Sophos. According to the letter to customers, everything is supposed to stay the same. Usually when promises like that are trotted out it means that both companies will crash in burn within 3 months. I hope that isn't the case for ActiveState since they actually do some really good work on the perl front and a lot of developers who insist on the Win32 platform would be SOL. There are probably other options that I don't know about but I can't remember the last time I've coded anything more complex than a sign that says "Don't Shut Off!!" under Windows.

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24Sep/03Off

At Least They’re Virtual Coasters

So Lindows is marketing preloaded hard drives now. They announced it like it wasn't a huge scam or anything. I'm a little amazed that they haven't started giving the OS away (a la AOL CDs) and just selling the associated services. OK, so I admit that I'm glad they aren't sending 3-8 CDs a week that I'm going to toss mere seconds after recieving but this is pretty damn close. The first one is always free kids and it installs in 10 minutes...

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24Sep/03Off

Ah, Comedy…

Ugh. If you wanna see something meme-rific before it's overwhelmed by one of the huge sites I suggest you head to Could This Be Real and watch the short film. Of course it's probably a hoax but it's pretty difficult to watch either way. The transcript offered in the comment section is 404 already which is unfortunate. The comments are pretty chuckle-licious with wonderful examples like this:

give me a break . since all or most of the so called creative talent in hollyweird are left leaning pinheads,you would think they would have done a better job.they are so protected that the fact that there is real evil in the world goes over thier heads

I'm amused and numerous wedgies are delivered so mission accomplished. Go take a look while you can. I have to say that I'm curious what the folks at Snopes will have to say.

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23Sep/03Off

Smash And Grab

I may be incredibly cynical (albiet for damn good reasons) but Hewlett-Packard's decision to indemnify Linux customers smacks of opportunism. Obviously no non-commercial Linux user is going to get dragged into court because there is simply no money to be made there and it seems pretty obvious that you are not liable for the things that you buy. It looks a lot like an attempt to take advantage of corporate IT's inability to do anything without having a 1-800 number to call or a lawyer to sic on someone. HP has made some stick dumb decisions in the past regarding Linux and free software in general so I'm very reluctant to trust them inasmuch as I trust any company.

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23Sep/03Off

Attention Team Murder Shoppers

If you're one of the people waiting for a CD order from me: Everything ships tomorrow. I've been swamped with school and work and other so I managed to get myself pretty far behind. I'm caught up. Thanks.

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22Sep/03Off

Another Basic Brain Dump

Hovering somewhere between exhaustion and braindeath right now. I've been studying non stop for what seems like forever. Apparently the rush to get intial quizzes and papers in before midterms begin is a strategy all of my professors have decided to employ. I have something concrete due in either the form of a formal paper or some kind of uber-quiz due every day this week. I'm not whining...I'm just mentioning.

I futzed around with Sam Ruby's little experimental IRC client and found it pretty cool for something that was whipped up on the spur of the moment. I managed to make it misbehave and crash but as he says in a comment attached to the post linked above:

this client certainly is far from being robust just yet. What I find exciting, however, is yesterday morning I knew literally nothing about the protocol IRC uses and yet I was able to pull this together.

Stuff like this really makes me want to stop reading 15th century English poetry and get back into cranking out some code even if it is partially broken and unpredictable in its operation.

Noticed the news from RedHat that they've either joined forces with or consumed whole without chewing Fedora Linux. Actually it does sound like a cooperative and noncoercive effort and one that is probably for the better. I guess the dependcy resolving package managment system is expanding to even the most atrocious of them although Mandrake's urpmi paired with a couple of unofficial sources is your recipe for good times if you're more into the RPM thing.

Speaking of unofficial, someone has been DoSing Apt-Get.Org and they've closed down the big browsing page temporarily. No good deed goes unpunished I suppose. Hope that things clear up over there in the near future because I was disappointed when I couldn't load up the big list and find out what was newly added over the past week or so.

I had no idea that so many Jehovah's Witnesses were imprisoned in concentration camps. The consistent number that I keep finding is 10,000. Yikes.

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21Sep/03Off

Simplification Is Sometimes A Process Of Weeding Shit Out

Crap. I found out (rather I finally checked) that I had yet another paper due tomorrow earlier today. The truly unfortunate part is that I was actually pretty far behind on the reading so I spent one of those uncomfortable evenings with the text between me and the keyboard. Not exactly the way I like to do things but I finished everything up and have removed myself from harm's way for a couple of days anyhow.

We're going into the studio in the first weekend of October so I've been giving that a fair amount of though as well. Actually, the recording part is fine and is probably my favorite part about making music. There is something about stripping each song down to components and really hearing how everything fits together for the first time that is akin to magical. My actual concern is about what to do with the recording when we actually finish it. We've arbitrarily decided to think about just self releasing the thing which is a huge relief to me since the distribution of music is actually the most annoying part about making music. Lugging equipment or pimping CDs is equally irksome. What's bugging me is figuring out how to license it. Obviously we're not going to go with some kind of restrictive copyright notice because a) nobody outside of our band and circle of friends really gives two shits anyway and b) being a software communist doesn't stop at making software. I don't think that the Creative Commons licenses work particularly well for entire releases. That whole By Attribution - Non-commerical - Share Alike thing just isn't as applicable for a collection of songs. I'm probably going to end up using that very license but it seems like it isn't granular enough to permit good while preventing evil. In any case, rip, burn, share, and I don't really give a rat's ass.

On the geekier side of things (as if a whole bunch of stuff about music licensing isn't geeky enough for you) Infoworld has a pretty interesting if a bit obvious article about developers moving away from IDEs and back to the humble text editor. This seems fairly obvious to me although I know some folks who absolutely swear by the monstrously huge IDEs and all of their little knobs, dials, and coffee break alarms. Emacs is dangerously close to being an IDE for me since I can do almost anything I need to within the editor including quick IRC sessions if I need to bug the folks on the python channel with more inane questions. Maybe it's because I rarely code anything terribly complex but I find most IDEs way too pushy. They tend to make your code fit its environment instead of the other way around. In any case, it's nice to see people eschewing the monolithic programming environment for simpler and more modular tools.

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20Sep/03Off

Distract And Digress

I hate this mid-semester gauntlet of papers that are all due within the next couple of weeks. It makes me dread weekends because I know that despite all of my good intentions I'm going to end up doing them all during the weekend when I should be passed out drunk or something less scholarly. I did find a new diversion for those minor breaks that you need when the relationship between Anglo-Saxon warriors and their treasure hoards becomes too painful to expound on for another couple of pages. Well, actually, the diversion isn't exactly new because it dawned on me after I recieved one of those dormant account reminder emails from The Distributed Proofreaders project.

I hadn't visited in a very long time given my hellishly busy summer and all of the other excuses that I symlink to laziness. That said I'm glad I got the mail because the interface for proofing is fucking fantastic now. Seriously, the proofing window is more functional than most text editors. It makes proofing list of renewed copyrights that much less painful when you can configure the scans and the OCR text however you want to and don't have to wrack your already addled brain for various symbols. I used to have a text file that was nothing but commonly used accents and whatnot that I would copy and paste into the OCR text. Now they're all imbedded in handy little drop down menus. Damn. I proofed over a thousand pages without all that convenience. Now proofing a couple of pages is a pleasant diversion from this goddamned paper that I don't want to write and I'm contributing to a massive effort to make the Gutenfiles more readable. Win and win.

Also noticed that Polar Bear Linux has released an ISO. It's another source based distribution that uses the Linux From Scratch methodology to guide its construction. I'm not in the position to play with it right now since I need to get actual work done on all of my machines right now but when the opportunity presents itself...

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20Sep/03Off

More Talk, Less Bugs

If you're developing OS/free software and ever intend to try to package it up for inclusion into a distribution you owe yourself and your users at least a skim over this article about the ins and outs of packaging for numerous distributions over at Fresh Meat. One essential point they stress is that lines of communication need to better between developers and folks packaging their software. Send those bugs upstream where they belong. It's a good general overview if you want a rough idea of where to start looking for information about packaging for a specific branch of a distribution. The only thing that I disagree with is their assessment of the Debian menu system. It seems a little weird at first and then you log onto a RedHat box and wonder where the hell all the applications you want to use are. I'm all for DE agnostic menuing systems.

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20Sep/03Off

No Scurvy Here

I skipped Talk Like A Pirate Day entirely. There are far too many things going on in meatspace to flog a wounded meme into the ground at least this month. I accidentally loaded DayPop from a old, old bookmark in a temporary folder and watched it churn away trying to load for five minutes. That's pretty much the only justification for linking Talk Like A Pirate Day lest I be over run with the "let's see how many of my fellow dittoheads have linked to the same Fox News hack job" crowd and have to purge legion from the comments. That said I really think that the aforementioned zealous editors of Reuters should save the ping happy a few precious minutes and create an "awaiting your knee jerk reactions" news category. Hell, it might spare the DayPop server a few cycles.

Syncato looks like good medicine. I'm really digging that so much folks are following the Blosxom lead and creating more minimalist but powerful weblogging frameworks. I've been considering a move to something a little more austere and hackable but like most things that are rather arbitrary and would require a fair amount of work and frustration invested to create a new tarpit to sink my copious free time into my couch planted ass digs in like it had thumbs. Anyway, Syncato is cool because it isn't expressly a weblogging system but as the maintainers put it "it's an XML fragment management system." This means create crap and organize it you standards compliant nutjob you. I might do an install on one of the test boxen at work just to say I did. God knows I'm committed to quality at any cost. Maybe I just need a vacation that does not involve catching up on a massive dearth of sleep or writing papers that are due the following Monday.

Oh, and Python on Linux classes that request you make a donation to a local cancer research facility instead of hitting the nu gong of the paypal button are fucking cool. It looks like a wonderful place to start although I worry for the sanity of the folks facilitating it. Some days it seems like we've got a ridiculous surplus of overly kind people in the Python community. I'm probably a little far gone for a course like this but I'd take one that focused on Ruby programming in a second.

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18Sep/03Off

Applied Cartoon Physics

I just plugged an RJ45 cable into a jack and the plug melted. I now have a (obviously) dead jack, a melted blob of plastic, and a sudden fear of network jacks as potential dealers of death and/or dismemberment. That should not happen. Really. It shouldn't. An etherkiller in the wild? In any case I think it's time for a half hour break at very least.

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17Sep/03Off

Written Off, Ashes.

Exhausted after a long day of lecture, work, talking shit loudly in front of a group of people that included the targets of my attack, talking in excruciating detail and unnecessary depth with the fella who is probably going to do some Midcentury recording, and too much other stuff. I've eaten my pot pie and now I expect only sleep.

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16Sep/03Off

No Brain No Headache

It's unfortunate that the SCO/IBM suit is still getting so much media attention. Other than the obvious stock price inflation scheme that the officers of the company are engaging the cages of even the most mired and clueless tech journalists are being rattled. The result is "analysis" that would embarrass even the likes of Gartner. This is a particularly golden example of why people who write about technology need to understand it. The other option is looking like fools and I imagine even so that the clown suit is looking really shiny in the mirror.

The basic gist is that Red Hat is the only thing between us little folks (that coincidentally write a great deal of the code that makes up your average Linux distribution) and vendors locking us into hardware specific distributions. Hardware is dead, kids, and tying anything to a specific architecture is fucking suicide. Trying to make that kind of stoppage is damaging and damage will be routed around. I agree a bit with his assessment of Red Hat's latest "money grab" and how it will effect RH deployments in web hosting companies. Unfortunate but if you think that Linux does Apache I can't really help you there.

Of course at the end of the day this is aimed at IT managers who aren't... well, they're managers.

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15Sep/03Off

The Uncarved Block

I started training a new guy at work today. Normally this would be a very painful process since we tend to inherit the A+ certified rejects from other work groups. These sort of hand offs invariably end with me completely ignoring the person until they go away. It's not particularly polite but I have no desire to discuss the finer points of registry editing. I think about Windows 2000 in a completely utilitarian way: I don't use it personally and I know way too much about it at this point from simply fixing broken machine intuitively. Anyway, the new guy is fresh out of the labs where he's been part of the horrible petty power struggles and backstabbing that I assume come naturally in a work environment where the biggest challenge is making sure the printers are stocked with paper. It's nastiness that we're thankfully too busy to foment.

Getting this new fella oriented is refreshing because he's definitely willing to learn things but isn't coming in with a completely half-assed attitude that usually plays itself out in over engineering every single problem. Sometimes the easiest way to fix a problem is to just reinstall a driver or something. I'm all for easy and not plumbing the crufty depths of why the OS suddenly can't find a NIC. Fixing the problem is my problem and I guess they hand out those certifications that begin with "MC" for people who really want to fuck machines up instead of duct taping them back together. In any case it's nice to work with someone who asks questions about the how's of things instead of "Why don't you do it this way? In my class about this..." and frightingly enough writes things down. It scares me because I'm not sure that my methodology bears taking notes. First we're going to sit here and drink fifteen cups of coffee or whatever it takes for you to break a sweat and start talking backwards. Then we're going to reimage some machines -- just for fun. Then it'll be time for lunch. Then we'll drag some network schmuck out behind the shed and beat him to death with this 250' chunk of ethernet cable...

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14Sep/03Off

Until You Drop

We played a show tonight or rather today since we played at 3 p.m but it was fun nonetheless. It was fun but disorganized. My boss showed up and watched the chaos. I love love love my band.

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13Sep/03Off

It’s A Little Like A Police Line Up

Although spyware is less a concern for me than all of my Win32 using friends I did spend a fair amount of time snooping around Spyware Guide just to see what the general gist was. I end up cleaning up a couple of machines a week at work and it is interesting to reference exactly what each piece of spyware does. I've seen all the usual suspects fly by when running the wonderful SpyBot Search And Destroy software on slower machines. I think most of the spyware is rated a little low on the threat meter but then again nothing annoys me more especially when the spyare in question all but cripples older and less capable machines.

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12Sep/03Off

You Can’t Be So Thin Skinned When Your Company Is Chum

I enjoyed and found a lot of good points in Brian Proffitt's Editor's Note but it all seems so obvious. At this point you've really got to wonder if all of the opponents of Linux have some kind of mental deficiency about comprehending the fact that public perception doesn't shift at the drop of a press release. Sure SCO's stock is soaring. They're still interesting if you're just reading the press releases. They've made a lot of controversial claims that would make a very good case if they weren't summoned by a chalk pentagram and a goblet of goat blood.

Making shit up (I so wanted to link a very funny definition of that last statement from Everything2 but the wanna-be wikipedia-ists that dominate the editorial staff are in the process of purging anything funny or unimportant from it. Yeah, I quit like two years ago. So what?) does not earn you much attention from the *nix community. "Show me the code" was the mantra when McBride was suing his former employer and will doubtlessly remain important no matter how many jackalopes SCO's legal staff tries to toss into the mix. If there were any "olive branches" at all be extended this would be a simplistic process; tell us what you think infringes and someone will put off whatever it that they're currently hacking away on for a little while and replace that code possible better for a fresh set of eyes on it. The making shit up part comes from the ridiculous stance that SCO takes. I should say "stances" because they tend to be rather fluid and even contradictory when considering the various corporate officers or whatnot. This is a great justification for never letting anyone whose job title begins with C and ends in an acronym talk about technical issues but that's a nasty digression.

One day SCO is in full battle mode, full of accusations, and ready to take me, you, and your grandmother who accidentally said "fsck" once when all hopped up on blood pressure medication to court for infringing on their intellectual property which is equally elastic and fluid. Another day SCO releases what it considers a conciliatory press release pleading for the cooperation of the Linux community. This of course is immediately rejected and SCO responds with sounds suspiciously like those "huh huh" noises small children make when they're too astonished with the awesomeness of a recently inflicted owie to really start crying yet. Here is where I agree with Proffitt's analysis the most:

Looking at the rest of the open letter in this light, it really began to look more like a message to potential SCO customers.

What clinched it was the interview posted today from Computerworld. Now, because of the perfectly predictable kicked-hornets'-nest response from the Linux community, McBride has the opportunity to say "y'know, we tried to offer an olive branch, we tried to talk to them, but this Linux community, they just won't listen to us."

Spin translation: "hey, Linux customers, this community won't listen to us, and they sure as heck won't listen to you. You need the SCO Group to help you use Linux properly."

The SCO Group may have miscalculated the response from the IT community when it launched its trade-secret lawsuit against IBM. I think they assumed they would be perceived as the poor, hapless victim of Big Blue. But when very few media outlets and analysts made that assumption, SCO found itself perceived not as the victim, but as the bully. Especially when IBM did the proper legal tactic of keeping their mouths shut.

So now SCO has to put itself in the victim position. And they are provoking the open source community to do the bullying. This is little different from the little kid on the playground slapping the big kid and then screaming loudly for help when the big kid towers over the little one, ready to pummel.

But SCO does not want to kill Linux, just convince customers that they would be better off working with SCO than with these rebel open sourcers.

My translation would not sound quite so nice and would no doubt engage some overarching allegory about a snake and a lawn mower to try to make my point. The real point is that SCO is using tactics that would embarrass a junior high school kid to try to regain that "victim" status they were initially pushing in the suit with IBM that's blown up in their face. McBride is pulling his best Elmer Fudd by blinking and looking disheartened after the peace offering cigar from Bugs explodes in his face. None of this should be particularly surprising when you look at the components of the company; they tried to business-ize free software, failed, bought some dusty old code, and sued. Whoopee.

What interests me in this particular segment of the tapeworm like suit is what the reaction of the companies that injected the cash necessary for the massive legal lynch mob that SCO is trying to assemble. What makes this more interesting is that both companies are in my not-very-humble opinion next to worthless from a technology perspective and simultaneously at each others throats in the market. Their investments are pushy. Sun is notoriously pushy. It wanted us to all use SPARC which was powerful but incredibly expensive and to be in sort of sweet spot niche that Apple occupies. Sun wanted to be the company that made all the software for the hardware they manufactured (although at this point saying that a computer company manufactures anything is more a figure of speech these days) while simultaneously producing and marketing a slow, malodorous programming language that would supposedly make the idea of a flavored operating system seem obsolete. Neither one has been tremendously successful although Java is way ahead in the game. So Sun pushes Java. Boring, boring, boring.

No one needs me to specify the problems that I have with Microsoft. I like their optical mouses but little else. I thought VB was a interesting learning tool but I'm very surprised by the number of folks who negotiate the labyrinth necessary to get real work done with it. That small list aside (and I promise that I'll stop) MS is also very pushy. They're notoriously pushy with the upgrade cycle which is also tremendously profitable because you are incapable of owning binary only software and in order to have the things you need to work eventually sort of work you need to keep buying the new versions. It's classic carrot and stick but mostly stick. The problem with the Microsoft version of the Sisyphusian upgrade cycle is that versions of one thing often break something else. In the perfectionist Debian universe we call this sort of software unstable but in the world of commercial software this is the dreaded 1.0. The most recent conflict between the relentless push to upgrade and functionality typifies this. We want you to upgrade even though the software won't do what you need it to do. We will not support your old software. Welcome to limbo.

Anyway, either these two are going to take an "enemy of my enemy is my business partner" stance or they're going to get right back to taking potshots at each other any chance they get. At this point SCO is simply an opportune fly in the correct vat of ointment. How long will they stay that way in the shark tank?

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12Sep/03Off

Half Mast

Yoon woke me up this morning to tell me that Johnny Cash was dead. I couldn't have asked for more saddening news especially given his death from diabetes complications. I'm all too familiar with the ups and downs of that disease. I love Johnny Cash in the same way that I love Neil Young's music; although both of them continued to progress and push the envelope when most of their contemporaries were either dead or participating in rehash reunion tours they were best when simply handed a guitar and microphone.

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11Sep/03Off

Whimper, Whine, Whimper

Yeah, I know all sorts of new developments in the SCO vs the world case have hit the headlines today. I didn't have time to pay attention today. We got wormed again at work. I don't know whether it's a new variant of the usual suspect or something new or the patch that wasn't really a patch or what but I watched pretty much every machine on the domain (a lot of them) trying to send out weird ass UDP traffic all at once. It doesn't matter what it is. It brought a T1 to a crawl. It's difficult for me to have much sympathy for this crap mainly because I'm one of a couple people with the unfortunate job of cleaning up this weeks mess and knowing that I'm going to get a bunch of shit for doing it. Nothing could be more thankless than cleaning up script kiddie garbage on a platform you despise for people who piss and moan the whole time. Actually a whole lot could be worse but it's my hankie...

Apple Corps suing Apple Computer is possibly the most ridiculous thing I've read all day. While I understand that Apple is in violation of a prior agreement with Apple Corps the idea of trademark dilution seems a little thin given the number of decades since anything has been released on the imprint. As they say in the story:

A call by this column to Apple Computers' legal counsel, Nancy Heinen, was refused this afternoon. But my Beatles source said, "It's OK with us if they want to go this route. It's just more money for us."

and I think that really is what it all boils down to; Apple Corps is suing because they can not for any real damage or overlap of the name. Yeesh.

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10Sep/03Off

Inconvenience Is The Price Of Convenience

It's looking like the incredible amounts of worm mail is mostly over with as I'm not seeing much mail traffic with the attachments that you now know and love. Luckily for the attention starved mail server I'm still getting blasted with the auto replies from a million misconfigured virus scanners. Turn that shit off, kids. Really. If I'm guilty of anything it's having some friends who use Outlook despite all attempts at common sense counsel. Unfortunately I've been spending the majority of my computing time on the laptop which serves more as a testbed than a production machine so I don't want to configure a mail client to grab POP3 mail for the obvious reason.

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