October 31, 2003
Information vs Control
One of the most distructive pieces of legislation comming out of Congress might be this little beauty, at least for programmers. What is it and what does it to? Click on the link below to find out more…
Anyone here ever heard of Senator Fritz Hollings the Democrat from South Carolina? This gentleman (along with several other Senators) wants to make all programs have government approved copy protection put in them. Everything from Windows “copy” and “paste” to video games and camcorders. It would have essentially the same effect if you required that all writers to write using only government approved pencils and paper; writing only government approved content.
So why in the world would someone want this kind of draconian law knowing that would virtually stop software innovation within the United States? The Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America feel its the only way to stop IP piracy that has been occurring since the proliferation of the Internet. While it may be true that excessive software regulation may be the only thing to save the MPAA and RIAA, fundamentally the problem comes down to; do we really want to give up our personal software rights to prop-up an obsolete industry structure?
Make no mistake about it, this fight is NOT about wither quality music and movies will be created. Nor is it about wither musicians, actors, and directors will be able to make a living from their content. Music was being created, paid for, and distributed long before the recording industry existed; and it will continue to do so long after. Both the MPAA and RIAA know this.
Computer networks and digital content are changing the way information is available. Fundamentally (regardless of what we thought during the dot com bubble) the Internet is about knowledge proliferation. At no other time in history has information been so easily available at such an inexpensive price. Organizations like the RIAA and MPAA are content (i.e. information) distributors and because there is a much faster, easier, and less pensive way to deliver content, these groups are finding themselves becoming extinct. And they know it. They could change their business models but the sad reality for them is that they will no longer be in control. One way or the other they will forever loose the iron grip (and by extension huge profits) they once had on information.
…and I am not willing to pay the price of my freedoms to keep it from happening.
October 24, 2003
Motivation and Advice
What the heck, its Friday right? Two pieces of weekend humor. First is a motivational video sent to me by Daniel. The second is a useful piece of bachelor advice for cleaning up:
- Add the required amount of shampoo to the toilet water, and put both lids up.
- Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
- In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. (You may need to stand on the lid. ) The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. (Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.)
- Flush the toilet three or four times. (This provides a ” power-wash “and “rinse”.)
- Have someone open the door to the outside (Be sure that there are no people between the toilet and the outside door.)
- Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
- The now clean cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he will dry himself off. The toilet will be sparkling clean!
Sincerely, The Dog
Good advice to be sure.
This article from the PBS author “i, cringely” does a wonderful job of explaining to the lay-person why Microsoft continues to underestimate and misunderstand the success of Open Source software (specifically Linux.)
October 23, 2003
It don’t take crap
Daniel sent me this. Has anyone else noticed that my brother-in-law seem to be a continuing source of content for Vault? Europe always has funny commercials.
Quotes for the day:
— The Talmud
Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.
– William Wordsworth
October 22, 2003
Warning to all… this link could easily be one of the biggest movie spoilers in history. Its a current working theory of how the Matrix trilogy works out in the end. Read the entire thing (if you decide you want to…) there are some additional comments made by contributers that really fill out the whole theory.
The article is devastatingly interesting, and entirely possible. Just how dramatic are the Wachowski brothers? We shale have to wait and see.
Justice and Censorship
Couple quotes for the day:
— Theodore Roosevelt
— Thomas Jefferson
I am spending more time looking at the words of our founding fathers lately.
October 21, 2003
More on HL2
My brother sent me this link. It goes into greater detail about the theft of Half Life 2 from Valve. Sounds like it was a well executed attack. Its fairly simple to secure yourself against virus and worm attacks… its a whole other issue when you have to protect your systems from a intentional, highly focus, methodical, intelligent attacks. Has anyone actually gotten their hands on a working copy of the code yet?
Thanks for the heads up Adam.
October 20, 2003
kdialog –msgbox “Check this out.”
So KDE is easily the best GUI for *nix type OSes… but how useful is it really for command line application usage? Funny you should ask. This developer.kde.org tutorial covers kdialog; a command-line driven script-able window generation tool for KDE. Good tutorial with some great examples. Just perfect for the new programmer or the system admin.
Get KDE to COMDEX
COMDEX is the largest technology conference in the world. Its held each year in Los Vegas as an opportunity to show off the latest and greatest in the technology world. O’Reilly’s (the book publisher) has made a agreement with COMDEX to sponsor 6 open source project, with display space, on the exhibit floor (where no Open Source project has been before.)
Go to Oreillynet.com to vote. You can vote once a day so make it part of your daily routine. And be sure to check KDE as one of your three projects.
October 16, 2003
Gutenberg would be proud
Project Gutenburg is an online library of free Electronic Books. They have reached a milestone today with the publication of The Magna Carta; their 10,000th book. All of the books are available in plain text for easy compatibility.
October 15, 2003
Wired is running a 6 page article on Linus Torvalds; the creator of the Linux operating system. Its nice to see such a level headed person running the helm of Linux development (instead of a greedy, self-indulged, fanatic.)
In an interesting side note Larry McVoy (the founder of BitKeeper, the version control and configuration management system used in the Linux kernel development) posted a rundown of Linux kernel activity. The quick rundown is that the Linux kernel developers have averaged 179 changesets per day; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thats about 65,337 changesets this year alone! That number does not even include the sizable group of developers who choose not to use BitKeeper (for ideological reasons; i.e. see fanatics above.) That rate of development may qualify the Linux kernel as the most actively developed software project on the face of the earth, commercial or otherwise.
October 13, 2003
Couple of interesting KDE applications that I plan on making RPMs for. Krecipes is a recipe application that includes database look-up based on diets, calories, vitamins etc.. and does things like print shopping lists, calculate daily caloric intake, and give daily food suggestions based on diet type.
BasKet is akin to a tabular scratch pad that lets you drag and drop links, text, images, sounds, etc.. and do things like sort, arrange, and group them. My first request for BasKet will be a search function.
October 8, 2003
Ever wonder what some of those “random” keys on your keyboard are for? The Straight Dope has an article about such keys. If you are a programmer you are more than like recognize some of the keys; and if you use Linux/Unix/BSD you will recognize even more.
October 7, 2003
Just a quick note for today. I just received word that I am now a Red Hat Certified Technician (aka RHCT). I will be taking my RHCE exam in late January (assuming I am still working for my current employer.) I know some of you have about a dozen certifications but hey, this is my first (well besides that whole Business, Global Studies, and Computer Science degree.)
October 6, 2003
Recently the topic of Linux vs. Windows security has been making the rounds on the Internet. Specifically some well known technocrats of the Internet world have commented on the increased usage of Linux and how this will affect the overall usage of it as a vehicle for virus reproduction. This article from Security Focus does a good job of covering some of the basics of the discussion.
You will find the most of the time a self indulged guru will start saying things like “When Linux becomes as popular as Windows it will have just as many virus as Windows does now.” This logic is absolutely ridiculous and shows a distinct lack of understanding about the fundamental nature of computer security. If that were true then the mostly commonly exploited web server would be Apache (considering that it is responsible for hosting more websites than all other web servers combined.) but anyone who follows web attacks will quickly point out that IIS is the most commonly exploited web server. No, Microsoft Windows OSes suffer from a completely different problem. Bad design…
Lets be frank for just a minute. Microsoft Windows OSes are badly designed from a network security standpoint. Period! MS-Dos and Windows NT 3.51 (the OSes from which all subsequent Microsoft operating systems are based on) where never designed for global network connectivity. In the Blaster virus advisory, Microsoft went so far as to say the Windows XP was not designed to be run in its default configuration from within a hostel environment; like the Internet. Dos had no facilities for network connectivity until long after it was widely used. NT was designed to communicate with other computers but was designed to be used in a stand-alone, trusted, business network. This mindset is still prevalent in the Microsoft world and is evident from some of the mind-numbing default settings the Windows uses (default users having administrator access, non-privileged users being able to modify system libraries, firewalls the leave RPC ports open even when told to close them, etc..)
All of that aside there is anti-virus software for Linux. If you do a Google search you are unlikely to find what you are looking for since the vast majority of Linux anti-virus software simply gets rid of virus on their way to a Windows box (Linux proxy servers and the like.) The one Linux anti-virus program actually meant to be used to stop Linux virus is F-Prot for Linux. You can find a KDE based fronted for it here. If you really want to improve your Linux security you are better-off getting an IDS like Tripwire.
Unix (the grandfather of modern-day Linux, BSD, and OSX) has been designed, perfected, and used on hostel networks for 30 years now. If Microsoft actually developed their software in a secure fashion then the proportional number of virus would be closer to the numbers seen in every other OS in existence; not the other way around. If you want to see something funny be sure to check out this page from the F-Prot website. Its the current list of *nix OS virus that currently exist. Scalper is a FreeBSD worm, Slapper is a Linux worm (technically not a virus but close enough.) Two, thats it!
Cold Calling a Cold Caller
The Miami Herald online has an absolutely wonderful article by Dave Barry about the consequences of his first article on the American Teleservices Association. Evidently the ATA gets a little upset when they receive lots and lots of unwanted phone calls.
Dave Barry basically summed it up best when he says, “I just hope nobody interrupted the ATA’s dinner.”
October 3, 2003
The Opening of Valve
Saw this on Security Focus and just had to post it. Evidently the source code to Half-Life 2 (possible the most anticipated sequel in the history of computer games) was stolen via an IIS/Outlook buffer overflow protection error. Then it was posted to the Internet! Dang… talk about your bad day at work.
While we are talking about Valve let me repost HL2 on Linux.
Penguin in a Suit
Some huge numbers coming out of Jupiter Group about the state of Linux on the small and mid-sized businesses. Notably that some 19% of these businesses running Linux on some desktops in there environment. OpenOffice.org got 6%, Linux server install got 26%. All of these numbers (minus the server installs) come from out of nowhere considering Linux on the desktop and OO.org basically didn’t register last year.
To be entirely honest I am not wholly surprised by these numbers. Our organization is switching out almost our entire Windows Server install based because of speed, cost and dependability. For example we currently run a DB2 setup to handle all database operations in our organization. When we got new servers we got them with Windows 2000 (all dual proc boxes.) The boxes cost about $20,000 a piece, DB2 was about $40,000 a piece, and Windows 2000 ES was around $32,000 a piece. On a lark we decided to install Redhat AS 2.1 on one of them (our DB2 license supports any OS we want to install on.) The systems run about 200% faster, had 0 down time, was MUCH easier to support (OpenSSH is GOD!), clustering was much easier with improved scalability, and all on an OS that cost us about $2,500 (support was $2,500; the OS was free.)
Needless to say we only run DB2 on Linux now. In semi-related news Microsoft is urging channel partners not to pick up (higher margin) Linux service channels. Oh ya, OpenOffice 1.1 was released yesterday as well.