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2 October 2003
From Ilana: on Edward Said.
Mr. Winkle is a medieval monk?
I’m a programmer, of course, so I tend to blame the marketing people for these stupid mistakes. Almost all of them revolve around a failure of non-technical business people to understand basic technology facts. When Pepsi-pusher John Sculley was developing the Apple Newton, he didn’t know something that every computer science major in the country knows: handwriting recognition is not possible. This was at the same time that Bill Gates was hauling programmers into meetings begging them to create a single rich text edit control that could be reused in all their products. Put Jim Manzi (the suit who let the MBAs take over Lotus) in that meeting and he would be staring blankly. “What’s a rich text edit control?” It never would have occurred to him to take technological leadership because he didn’t grok the technology; in fact, the very use of the word grok in that sentence would probably throw him off.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) — A major European chip maker said this week it had discovered new ways to produce solar cells which will generate electricity twenty times cheaper than today’s solar panels.
OpenOffice.org 1.1 is out - go get it!
6 October 2003
Neat: Tube Map with Walklines:
7 October 2003
8 October 2003
Sometimes, it’s the little things about the brits that drive me into hyterics.
Take, for example, this piece on the BBC:
In a two-part ballot, voters were asked if they wanted to recall, or sack, Governor Davis.
The BBC editors feel that their readership will understand “sack” better than “recall.”
I suppose this just proves I’m easily amused.
The Scroll Lock key has appeared on the keyboards of IBM personal computers since the original 83-key PC/XT and the 84-key AT layouts, and remains on the 101-key and greater “enhanced” keyboards currently in use. The Scroll Lock key wasn’t on the original Macintosh keyboards but appears on the Mac’s “enhanced” keyboard.
The main intent of the Scroll Lock key was to allow scrolling of screen text up, down and presumably sideways using the arrow keys in the days before large displays and graphical scroll bars. You can see where this might have been handy in the DOS era, when screen output typically was limited to 80 characters wide by 25 rows deep. For some types of programs, spreadsheets being the obvious example, it’s still handy now. In Microsoft Excel, Scroll Lock allows you to scroll a spreadsheet with the arrow keys without moving the active cell pointer from the currently highlighted cell. In Quattro Pro, another spreadsheet program, Scroll Lock works in a similar manner, although in contrast to Excel it’s not possible to scroll the active cell pointer completely off the screen.
I should make a damn CD of my own already:
9 October 2003
Learn to draw a dragon at homestarrunner.com!
This is the point. Detail and nuance and texture and a sense of how users actually feel, what makes them smile, what makes the experience worthy and positive and sensual instead of necessary and drab and evil.
These are the things that are nearly dead in our mass-consumer culture, things normally reserved for elitist niche markets and swanky boutiques and upscale yuppie Euro spas and maybe cool insider mags like I-D and Metropolis and dwell. They are most definitely not to be expected of mass-market gadget makers. This is why it matters. This is why it’s important.
10 October 2003
I tried. Really, I did. But is was so fucking easy: the code was right there in front of me. I heard it call my name!
Returned: RSS feed for this log. Repeat after me. This is not a weblog. This is not a weblog. This is not a weblog.
I feel so dirty.
Grandma was admitted to the hospital yesterday morning. She hasn’t been eating in over a month.
I think I’m becoming numb to the waiting. I used to hate it, but now there’s nothing to be done about it.
jwz - burning hypocrisy:
I’ve enjoyed Burning Man every time I’ve gone, but after reading their press kit, I’ll be damned if they’re getting another dime from me. Which is why I have not gone since: I’d feel dirty giving them my money, and sneaking in sounds like just too much effort.
Now, please note that I am not complaining that Burning Man is “about money” and shouldn’t be. I’ve got no problem with money.
I think it would be cool if there was an event that actually was what Burning Man professes to be.
I also think Disneyland is a lot of fun.
What pisses me off is the hypocrisy. If they just came out and admitted they were running the Raverland/Hippieland contingent of the Magic Kingdom, that would be fine with me. But they do two things: they run the event with a media strangle-hold that would make the White House proud; and then in the same breath they claim “we’re doing it to protect you!”
If they were truly the enlightened anarchists they claim to be, they couldn’t even consider such a thing: that kind of action is diametrically opposed to the views they pay lip service to.
If they practiced what they preach, they could never conscience the filing of a lawsuit like this one: if you only believe in freedom for people who share your aesthetic judgment, you don’t believe in freedom at all.
I don’t think their behavior is “unreasonable” or (should be) illegal. What pisses me off is their halfassed attempts to hide their behavior. I hate that they lie about it. They pretend “we’re all in this together”, but, in fact, some animals are more equal than others, aren’t they?
$87,000,000,000.00: “A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon it starts to add up to some real money.”
Over the past week or two I’ve been playing around with procmail and spamassassin to eliminate spam from my inbox - I’d finally got tired of hitting the delete key every morning (and afternoon, and evening). So I put robots in place to do it for me, and it was working really well.
Well, it was working really well, until last night. I’m pleased (and somewhat embarassed) to announce my first false positive! A friend sent a legitimate email that was a tad too enthusiastic, and into the spam folder it went. (Fortunately, I’ve been directing things into a spam folder and not deleting them outright.)
The fix was easy - I just whitelisted her address in the ~/.spamassassin/user_prefs file so no matter how exuberant future emails might be, they’ll always get through.
This sounds like it could have been written by merrystar: Switching from Linux to Windows:
First, a question: What’s up with all this “Ctrl C” and Ctrl V” copy/paste stuff? In almost all Linux programs, when I want to copy a block of text (or a graphic or whatever) I just highlight the original, then click both mouse buttons (or the middle button if I have a 3-button mouse) where I want to paste it. This is fast, easy, and takes little hand motion on my laptop keyboard. All this Ctrl key action slows me down. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I need to work quickly if I want to earn a living, and I don’t see why Windows wants me to go through all those extra hand motions just to paste a URL into a story. Geh.
13 October 2003
I noticed this over the weekend: IE Vulnerabilities Page Removed.
Bummer. They had 31 unpatched vulnerabilities last time I checked.
“It’s today!” said Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.
15 October 2003
From this morning’s Cryptogram, a Butterfly:
The lobster population swells out of control. They become rowdy and boisterous - holding underwater raves, getting high on seaweed and playing Beach Boys records until four o-clock in the morning. The octopuses that live next door start to get really hacked off with it. Octopuses are usually quiet and genial creatures, who are at their happiest when left alone to do word puzzles. But on this occasion they realise that something has to be done, and so they decide to stage a sit-in.
Microsoft Corp. warned consumers Wednesday about four new flaws in its popular Windows software as the company shifted to monthly alerts for serious problems that could let hackers break into computers.
In particularly embarrassing disclosures, Microsoft acknowledged problems in its technology to authenticate software publishers over the Web and in its Windows help and support system.
Unfortunately, still having problems with getting the fonts to display in Mozilla (any build other than the one that came with Red Hat 9.0). Some helpful links atRe: Mozilla fonts.
16 October 2003
19 October 2003
- A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel
- Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft by Dard Hunter
Information Week: Staring Down Linux.
22 October 2003
However, let’s do a little research, just for fun.
Judge for yourself which operating system is more vulnerable to security problems by going down the list on CERT’s Incident Notes page. It goes back to 1998. And here is their Current Activity page. It’s almost all Microsoft issues. Here’s their Vulnerabilities Notes page. It’s all Microsoft, except for one, which isn’t Linux. Here is their most recent quarterly summary. And after you look at all the data, what do you think now? Was Mr. Ballmer accurate? The only way I could find Linux prominently on any list was to type it into the Customized Search engine by itself on this page , and then when you get to the list, it’s a list for all vulnerabilities of all the distributions of Linux, not just Red Hat. I couldn’t find anything equivalent to Microsoft announcing a vulnerability and then saying there was no patch and you should just shut that particular functionality down. Ballmer said there were 17 critical vulnerabilities in Windows 2000 in the 150-day period and that Red Hat had considerably more. But look at the list: it shows only 16 vulnerabilities for all flavors of Linux for the entire year of 2000. CERT only lists the big ones, but Ballmer did say “critical”. It makes you wonder where he got his numbers from or how he defines “critical”.
Funny he would choose such an old time period, don’t you think, for his comparison? Maybe it’s because looking at July through October of this year would be devastating? I see only two Linux vulnerabilities on the list for that time period, both buffer overflow vulnerabilities, so evidently there has been considerable improvement on the Linux side.
It’s a strange situation Microsoft Corp. finds itself in: To convince customers that they need to buy the latest version of its Office business software, the technology giant felt it necessary yesterday to engage in a little trash talk about its chief competitor . . . itself.
The company’s previous versions of the software line, which encompasses a suite of e-mail, word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools, already dominate 90 percent of the market and bring in $9 billion annually, a third of the company’s revenue. Analysts said Microsoft’s challenge is to preserve that lucrative franchise by encouraging customers to upgrade to the 2003 edition.
Which explains why Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and chief software architect, was heard to complain at a kickoff for the new software yesterday that “it’s too hard to find things in e-mail” in the just-replaced version of Outlook, the name of Office’s e-mail program. Gates also described early versions of the Word text-processing program as “clunky.”
23 October 2003
Holy moly, there’s a lot of spam out there.
A few weeks ago, I started delving into the black arts of procmail and spamassassin - programs that filter mail before it ever hits the inbox. Procmail filters the mail, spamassassin heuristically evaluates it to see if it’s spam. I’ve inserted a line in my
.login file to read the log of activity since my last login. Here’s an example from this morning:
[brett@scandium ~]$ mailstat -st .procmail/pmlog.old 110840 5 /var/spool/mail/brett 2852 1 lists/M-W.WORD-OF-THE-DAY 50656 14 lists/innercircle 14584 11 lists/myia 44776 7 lists/securityfocus 97508 22 spam/cutter 11000 5 spam/inner-flame 76397 12 spam/spamassassin
That’s 72 messages I didn’t need to see immediately (39 spam), and 5 that I did, in one evening.
I think I’ll comment out that line in
.login and see what it’s like after a whole week.
24 October 2003
”THE Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”