The previous month is:
The next month is:
3 February 2004
The SWIPE Toolkit is a collection of web-based tools that sheds light on personal data collection and usage practices in the United States. The tools demonstrate the value of personal information on the open market and enable people to access information encoded on a driver’s license or stored in some of the many commercial data warehouses.
! EXCLAMATION POINT, exclamation (mark), (ex)clam, excl, wow, hey, boing, bang#, shout, yell, shriek, pling, factorial, ball-bat, smash, cuss, store#, potion&, not*+, dammit*#
Now, I’m not one of those aficionados who knows every intricacy of Tolkien or has memorized every book, grocery list and letter to Santa he ever wrote. I’m just an average moviegoer, but I know a metaphor when I see one, or make one up. LOTR may be disguised as a sexless geek-boy epic, but this trilogy is more riddled with dating tips than an issue of Seventeen magazine:
- When you’re trying to catch the cute guy’s eye is the exact moment the dwarf will pick to approach you;
- Eating raw fish is no longer a sign of a sophisticated date. (That said, you have to admit the Atkins plan is working for Gollum.)
- if you’re the only girl among 100 guys you’ll still fall for the only one who has a girlfriend;
- When overused, terms of endearment such as “precious” lose their meaning;
- All couples fight, but battles shouldn’t last so long that one of you has to get up and stretch your legs or use the bathroom;
- It doesn’t matter if you look like Liv Tyler; your pining and whining will still get on people’s nerves;
- Don’t blame your friends just because they can see right through your creepy little partner;
- If you can get along on a road trip, the relationship will probably last;
- There will come a point when it seems like the relationship should be over. Don’t drag it out. Just end it there.
And finally, the mother of all dating wisdom:
- Some people will go to any lengths to get a ring; others, having had one for awhile, will go to any lengths to chuck it into a volcano.
9 February 2004
Firebird 0.8 is out, with a new name, FireFox.
Mozilla.org is slashdotted, so use a mirror:
- ISC (FTP)
- ISC (HTTP)
- Georgia (FTP)
- Georgia (HTTP)
- Indiana (FTP)
- Indiana (HTTP)
- Oregon (FTP)
- Oregon (HTTP)
And when the torrent dies down, check out the name change FAQ.
Have I mentioned that I really like the new logo?
Have I also mentioned that Stargate SG-1 is having a really great run of episodes tonight? (#403-#406)?
10 February 2004
Sometime in the 1950s, various governments realized that you could eavesdrop on data-processing information from over a hundred feet away, through walls, with a radio receiver. In the U.S., this was called TEMPEST, and preventing TEMPEST emissions in radios, encryption gear, computers, etc., was a massive military program. Civilian computers are not TEMPEST shielded, and every once in a while you see a demonstration where someone eavesdrops on a CRT from 50 feet away.
Soon it will get easier.
Bluetooth is a short-range radio communcations protocol that lets pieces of computer hardware communicate with each other. It’s an eavesdropper’s dream. Eavesdrop from up to 300 feet away with normal equipment, and probably a lot further if you try. Eavesdrop on the CRT and a lot more. Listen as a computer communicates with a scanner, printer, or wireless LAN. Listen as a keyboard communicates with a computer. (Whose password do you want to capture today?) Is anyone developing a Bluetooth-enabled smart card reader?
What amazes me is the dearth of information about the security of this protocol. I’m sure someone has thought about it, a team designed some security into Bluetooth, and that those designers believe it to be secure. But has anyone reputable examined the protocol? Is the implementation known to be correct? Are there any programming errors? If Bluetooth is secure, it will be the first time ever that a major protocol has been released without any security flaws. I’m not optimistic.
And what about privacy? Bluetooth devices regularly broadcast a unique ID. Can that be used to track someone’s movements?
The stampede towards Bluetooth continues unawares. Expect all sorts of vulnerabilities, patches, workarounds, spin control, and the like. And treat Bluetooth as a broadcast protocol, because that’s what it is.
Getting transferred from one automated message to another while stuck in a company’s convoluted telephone system is enough to make even the most unflappable individual’s blood boil.
A solution that may prevent violence against handsets comes in the form of a new software program designed to detect callers’ frustration and transfer them to a human operator.
The system works by analyzing not only what callers say, but also how they say it. Callers get transferred if they start to spit out expletives or if they simply sound angry.
12 February 2004
So after updating Tigana with the latest round of Microsoft security updates, I rebooted last night into the following error:
The Logon User Interface DLL msgina.dll failed to load.
Contact your system administrator to replace the DLL, or restore the original DLL.
Great. Just fucking great. How long is this going to take me to fix?
Fortunately, I just turned off the computer last night and didn’t lose any sleep over it, but still - argh.
Right. So, here’s a possible explanation from Microsoft, if you ignore that the computer in question already had SP 4, not SP 3, and here’s a potential fix. If that doesn’t work, there’s an another way to do it.
It was precisely because I was tired of dealing with shit like this that I deleted Windows off Arbonne this past weekend.
Well, that didn’t work.
Is it bad that when things keep going wrong my first instinct is to figure out how to back everything up and reformat the partition? (Nothing like reinstalling Windows over the weekend to make me deleriously happy.)
What a colossal waste of time. I believe I am about to swear off all further Windows updates.
13 February 2004
WN: What do you think will happen next in the SCO saga? Give me some short-term predications and a long-range one, please.
PJ: No one familiar with law thinks it’s wise to predict a court case. But long range, and looking at the big picture, I feel confident, from what I see so far, that SCO will regret embarking on the course they chose to follow.
I saw from day one they didn’t understand the GPL (the GNU General Public License). In fact, they don’t seem to even now, and it’s their Achilles’ heel. They simply can’t wriggle out of the GPL, I don’t think, and even if they could make it void or voidable, and I personally don’t see how they can, then they’d just find themselves guilty of copyright infringement on such a scale it’s awe-inspiring to contemplate the likely damages. Then IBM has four patent-infringement claims.
Meanwhile, SCO’s case against IBM appears to be withering. They just dropped the trade-secrets claim. That’s a big admission. Novell says they overruled SCO’s “termination” of IBM’s AIX license. And you have Novell and SCO dueling over copyright ownership. Red Hat is sitting back waiting, meanwhile, watching SCO’s copyright claims get smaller and smaller. If I were SCO, I’d be worried.
WN: So what do you think SCO will do next?
Jones: SCO is now limiting their copyright claims in the IBM lawsuit to their legal theory about what constitutes a derivative work, as I understand their claims. They appear now to be saying that the “infringement” is the AIX code IBM donated to Linux. What is SCO’s claim to code that has no System V code in it? That IBM wrote itself? And owns the copyright on? I’m fascinated to find out what SCO will say about that, but from where I am standing, it looks like an uphill struggle for them.
I do expect they may try some things with the DMCA, in imitation of their hero, the RIAA. But even there, a recent case limits what they can do. So far, nothing has been going right for them from the legal perspective, in my opinion. I’m personally looking at the DMCA as the next front.
REDMOND, Wash., Updated Feb. 13, 2004 — On Thursday, Microsoft became aware that portions of the Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 source code were illegally made available on the Internet. It’s illegal for third parties to post, make available to others, or download Microsoft source code, and we are actively investigating this issue with law-enforcement agencies. Microsoft will take all appropriate legal actions to protect our intellectual property.
At this time there is no known impact on customers. We continue to be committed to protecting our customers and their networks, and we will take any appropriate steps to ensure that we meet this commitment. Our investigation has shown this was not the result of any breach of Microsoft’s corporate network or internal security, or from our Shared Source Initiative program.
All joking aside, holy moly, what a disaster. Security through obscurity relies upon obscurity, and now that’s gone.
It goes without saying - if you work on any open-source project, or ever want to work on such a project, don’t look at the source code.
Her: “How about instead of dinner and cards for Valentines Day, I get you Stargate Season 4 and you get it for me too?”
Me: “Have I mentioned how much I love you?”
14 February 2004
Many sign their names. Many don’t. They’re the book reviewers on Amazon.com who use such words as “masterful,” “page-turner” and “tear-jerker.” But the ones who sign their critiques only as “a reader from (fill in the city)” lost their anonymity this week when their identities were revealed on Amazon.com’s Canadian Web site.
Among those named were authors who posted glowing reviews of their own work, apparently to boost sales.
The glitch, reported Saturday by The New York Times, replaced pseudonyms with reviewers’ real names, laying bare a culture of self-promotion and potential for revenge among authors and users of the online retailer.
Amazon spokeswoman Patricia Smith told the Times the problem, fixed after a week, was “an unfortunate error.”
“We’ll examine whatever happened and make sure it won’t happen again,” she said.
Wow, what a waste of a day I could have spent sleeping.
So it turns out that Lower Corte’s problems weren’t due to some worm, but rather a conflict between Norton Personal Firewall and one of the recent Microsoft updates. I only have a hunch that it’s Norton Personal Firewall — I have no proof to support it, nor do I care enough to actually acquire such evidence.
Last night I went ahead and took a look at it again while Merrystar was cleaning up; it took about 30 minutes to boot into Windows from the CD and attempt the repair steps outlined in the aforementioned links. (Actually, this step took about 2 hours, because of some wonkiness with Tigana’s boot process that wouldn’t let it go from CD boot to CD boot, but instead required a boot into Linux). That didn’t work, so I tried it again (old stupid Windows habits die hard). Then, I deleted six *.dll files to force Windows 2000 to replace them all, which it did, and I could finally boot into Windows after another hour or so. An installer kept popping up asking for Norton’s Firewall disk, so I tried uninstalling it; unfortunately, something happened with the Windows Installer software and the program wouldn’t uninstall.
So, had I been really smart, I would have just reinstalled the firewall without even attempting to update anything. But no, I’m an idiot, so I decided to run Windows Update to fix the problem with Windows Installer.
So, there I am last night having spent 4 hours to get right back to square one. (Although, at least I knew how to get off square one: “Turn on the light.”) So I put away Tigana/Lower Corte and spent the rest of the evening with Merrystar.
Right. Today, Merrystar leaves on a trip, so I figure I’ll put on Stargate SG-1 Season 4 and see if I can get this piece of *($)#)*#$!!! working. (Note: I do not blame the machine; I blame the operating system. This is probably unfair. I don’t care. I want the time I spent back.) I go through the hoops and finally get Lower Corte booting again. I install NPF right on top of the old one and the error messages stop. I check connectivity and firewall and shut it down.
Now, a smart man would have cut his losses here and gone and painted a fence or clean the gutters or something.
I am not a smart man. (See idiot note, above.)
Al-Rassan was actually the easiest of the three, as she was already running Red Hat 9 and I could (and did) easily back up my home directory to Arbonne. The biggest problem was how long it took - I started it around noon and it finished around 4. The next biggest problem was that the background changed from the bluecurve to the fedora blue flower picture.
If that’s the second biggest problem in an upgrade, I’ll count it going pretty darn well. (Of course, I’m trying to run up2date and it’s taking hours to complete - that could be server problems, or something more serious.)
Once I’d established that Al-Rassan was okay, I took on Arbonne. Last weekend I yanked Windows off Arbonne, and the only real data on her was the home directory from Al-Rassan, so if everything went really wrong I could just reformat the drive and start over. The Fedora update also took some time, and everything seemed to be going well until I tried rebooting; at that point the boot seemed to hang on searching for new hardware. Arbonne is still trying to boot - I’ll give her some more time, but it’s been 42 minutes.
Tigana - ach, Tigana remains stubborn. She doesn’t have a built-in CD-ROM, so she needs a driver to boot from CD - a driver that’s mysteriously absent on the RH9 disk, but present on the RH7.2 one. Whisky Tango Foxtrot?
So. I think I’ll leave that one for another day.
Current count: Computers 3, Me 1. Ah, the drama of system administration.
Time to call it quits.
15 February 2004
Ah, more network drama. So after writing the above post last night, I thought I’d update some of the most egregious patches from last year on Tigana (Lower Corte), once again demonstrating that I’m an idiot. I thought, in some sleep-deprived haze, that if I just avoided the patches from February I’d be okay.
I was wrong.
So, I left fixing Tigana (Lower Corte) for this morning, which I did with some dispatch. I turned off automatic updates, ran disk defragmenter a half-dozen times, and then turned her off.
Arbonne, on the other hand, never finished finding hardware and had remained frozen where she was all night long. I powered her down and decided to try a complete reinstall of Fedora Core. That didn’t work - still hung on the hardware search. I then tried a minimal installation with the same result. So I chucked Fedora and reinstalled Red Hat 9 on Arbonne.
At some point this becomes rewarding, right?
After many, many defeats, a small victory! Tigana (on Red Hat 7.2) is now wireless.
Below is an example of a wireless PC Ethernet (802.11b) card we recently got for a laptop. The product in this example was a Netgear MA401. It only was claimed to be support Win 95/B, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP. But we wanted it to run under Red Hat Linux, too. So here’s how we got it to work. This example can be applied to various wireless PC cards with little or no modifications.
Cardctl is the Linux program to identify PCMCIA devices. To see a list of PCMCIA cards type the command “cardctl ident”. As shown below, the sample computer has a Netgear MA401 11Mbps PCMCIA Wireless Card in it.
It’s important to make a note of the line that begins with “manfid”. The first set of numbers is the manufacturer number, followed by the unique identity of this card model. These are the numbers Linux uses to configure the card during setup.
[root@localhost root]# cardctl ident
product info: "NETGEAR MA401RA Wireless PC", "Card", "ISL37300P",
manfid: 0x000b, 0x7300
function: 6 (network)
no product info available
Getting it to work…
Sometimes it takes a little digging around on the Internet to find out what driver to associate with a particular card. And sometimes it just takes some guesswork. In our case we decided to try the popular orinoco_cs driver. This driver works with many popular Wireless PCMCIA Ethernet adapters. However there are others, too, such as the pcnet_cs driver. Be sure to find out what your card needs… or try taking a guess!
We created a file called /etc/pcmcia/netgear.conf. In that file we put the text that follows:
card "Intersil PRISM2 11 Mbps Wireless Adapter"
manfid 0x000b, 0x7300
This was the equivalent of putting the text in the /etc/pcmcia/config file, but keeps things a bit more organized. (The /etc/pcmcia/config and all files that end in a .conf extension are all interpreted as one big file during startup.)
Now when our system boots up it will detect our Netgear card with the manufacturer ID 0x000b, and the product ID 0x7300. According to the netgear.conf file, it knows to recognize this card with the orinoco_cs driver. Provided the network configuration is set up properly, your card will be loaded up as eth0.
Some PCMCIA drivers are still in development and may have slight quirks. Under Red Hat 7.2, our Netgear card ran fine, until we did very heavy transfers. At that point it would drive the softIRQ process crazy, and the card would lose connectivity. An upgrade to Red Hat 7.3 cured the problem. (Of course you can realize equal effects by installing a newer kernel on an older version of Linux.)
16 February 2004
Take, for example, the strength of Superman. To leap a 30-story building in a single bound, Superman’s leg muscles must produce nearly 6,000 pounds of force while jumping, Kakalios calculates. The Man of Steel was that strong because he was designed to resist Krypton’s powerful gravity. But for a planet with an Earth-like surface to have so much stronger gravity, it would need neutron star material in its core--a highly unstable situation. No wonder the planet exploded.
MSN bans pop-ups on global sites because people hate them.
Popups are still an issue? I haven’t seen one in years since I switched to Mozilla.
Ow. That Hurts. Quit.: Remaking Your Punk Rock Past:
The place was always slimy. In the humid Houston heat, the ceramic floor would collect condensation, so if the heat didn’t drive you might decide to go outside just to feel like you weren’t going to slip and fall. And, oh yeah, that’s were the restrooms were. You can imagine what these glorified outhouses looked like.
Standing in line waiting to see The Boredoms, or Smashing Pumpkins, or Unwound you could hear many unsolicited opinions about Emo’s. “God, I hate this place.” Everybody hated it. But they kept going. It was really a phenomenon. Soon enough Austin had its own Emo’s. Everybody knows Austin is cooler than Houston, so gradually the focus shifted away from Emo’s in Houston to the center of Texas hipsterism at the other end of Highway 290.
Emo’s Houston struggled for years, but in the final years, they rarely had bands that could generate any excitement, so when it finally closed a few years ago, nobody really noticed. It was just another in a long list.
Just as well. I hated that place.
17 February 2004
ATLANTA - February 17, 2004 — Cingular Wireless LLC, a joint venture between SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) and BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), announced today an agreement to acquire AT&T Wireless (NYSE: AWE), creating the premier wireless carrier in the United States. Today, the combined company would have 46 million customers and one of the most advanced digital networks in the U.S., with spectrum in 49 states and coverage in 97 of the top 100 markets. The combined 2003 annual revenues of the two companies would have exceeded $32 billion.
Under the terms of the agreement approved by the boards of directors of Cingular and AT&T Wireless, shareholders of AT&T Wireless will receive $15 cash per common share or approximately $41 billion. The acquisition, which is subject to the approvals of AT&T Wireless shareholders and federal regulatory authorities, and to other customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed as soon as late 2004.
18 February 2004
Today’s the day: SCO Countdown: Counting Down To The End Of This fiaSCO.
A timely comment in /.’s discussion — SCO Lists Specific Code-Infringement Claims:
… It’s fun to beat up on SCO, and McBride. One of the differences between most people who read /. and McBride is that very few /. readers would have the spine to stand up and assert something as outlandish as SCO asserts. To /. folk, the SCO business is all very abstract, there’s a billion dollars and a corporation at stake … but it’s not our money or our corporation. It’s more like the WWF, where there is an official Bad Guy who will, at the end of the evening, get stomped by the Good Guy, for the pleasure of the viewing audience.
So, pay attention to the interesting analysis performed by Groklaw-folk, but mod yourself down if you’re merely going to hurl abuse at Darl and SCO. This is a tragedy unfolding; a very human tragedy.
Here, at last, is Exhibit 1, attached to IBM’s Report on Compliance, SCO’s supplemental responses, or more precisely, PLAINTIFF’S REVISED SUPPLEMENTAL RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S FIRST AND SECOND SET OF INTERROGATORIES.
Have I mentioned how impressed I am with Firefox?
Hard to think this is the same browser as Seamonkey, Mozilla 0.6.
From Boing Boing — FCC Chairman’s astounding statement of Internet Rights:
FCC Chairman Michael Powell recently gave a talk called “The Digital Broadband Migration: Toward a Regulatory Regime for the Internet Age” at the University of Colorado School of Law. Powell sets out some “Internet Freedoms” that he believes Americans are entitled to: these are astonishingly radical ideas to hear coming out of the mouth of the Chairman of the FCC.
100K PDF Link
- Freedom to Access Content. First, consumers should have access to their choice of legal content.
- Freedom to Use Applications. Second, consumers should be able to run applications of their choice.
- Freedom to Attach Personal Devices. Third, consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes.
- Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information. Fourth, consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans.
New: take a gander at DC’s traffic.
Route 4 / Suitland Parkway
Updated: zoom zoom.
19 February 2004
So in the face of this good news, let’s take a peek at what’s happening on the opposite coast, shall we? Apparently there’s a move afoot in New York City to pull back last call from 4AM to 1AM for many bars and restaurants! Not globally, but they’d make people jump through more permit hoops to be allowed to be open later than 1AM. Nice, huh? The New York Nightlife Association site has news about this. Of course, the NYNA is also trying to repeal the smoking ban in NYC, so it’s not like they’re sane or anything. That’s just reason number two to never set foot outside of San Francisco.
Apparently they claim that the smoking ban has caused lots and lots of bars and clubs to go out of business in New York, causing “widespread industry layoffs”, because apparently New Yorkers are such party animals that they’ll say to themselves, “you know what, I’d like to go clubbing, but I can’t smoke there, so I’ll just stay home instead.”
The California smoking ban improved my nightlife experience immeasurably. It only takes one trip out of the state to remind me of the horrors of coming home and having to leave my clothing outside because I can’t stand to be in the room with their post-club stench. Hell, I can’t wait until they ban smoking on sidewalks. And after cigarettes, I hope they go after patchoulli. I don’t want to smell any of you fuckers! Get away from me!
Today, more than 60 leading scientists--including Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors and university chairs and presidents--issued a statement calling for regulatory and legislative action to restore scientific integrity to federal policymaking. According to the scientists, the Bush administration has, among other abuses, suppressed and distorted scientific analysis from federal agencies, and taken actions that have undermined the quality of scientific advisory panels.
“Across a broad range of issues, the administration has undermined the quality of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government’s outstanding scientific personnel,” said Dr. Kurt Gottfried, emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University and Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Whether the issue is lead paint, clean air or climate change, this behavior has serious consequences for all Americans.”
“Science, to quote President Bush’s father, the former president, relies on freedom of inquiry and objectivity,” said Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Nixon and Ford, who joined the scientists in calling for action. “But this administration has obstructed that freedom and distorted that objectivity in ways that were unheard of in any previous administration.”
Allen Varney writes “The classic tabletop roleplaying game PARANOIA, originally published by West End Games in the 1980s, returns in a new edition this August from Mongoose Publishing. PARANOIA, the game of a darkly humorous future, is set in an underground Alpha Complex ruled by an insane Computer. I am writing and (re)designing the main rulebook, under direction from original PARANOIA co-designer Greg Costikyan, with contributions from novelist and game designer Aaron Allston. I’d be happy to answer questions from Slashdot’s gamers.”
Memory usage sky-rocketing?
Seems to be a very common question on the lists, it seems. People tend to wonder why their memory usage has sky-rocketed, and they have very little free RAM left. Rodolfo J. Paiz answers it nicely at http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-list/2004-February/msg00840.html. In short, Linux uses up all its available resources rather than wasting it sitting there idle. Mark Mielke clears up issues with regards to the swap file, and its growth. So don’t worry if memory gets used up - its just an efficient usage of your resources!
20 February 2004
Note to self #723661: Always call astronomers at the start of their observations, not at the end.
I’m sorry, ash. Please get some sleep.
25 February 2004
26 February 2004
27 February 2004
28 February 2004
For Al-Rassan: tpctl homepage.
On Super Bowl Sunday 2004, I organized a small get-together with a number of my friends (about half female and half male, if you want the demographic breakdown). I have a fairly good-sized DVD collection, which is clearly visible on a big open cabinet in my living room. While the game was in its uneventful first quarter, one of the girls was eyeing my DVDs from a little ways across the room.
“What’s that 1-2-3-4-5-6-7?” she asked, unable to make out the words above the large printed numbers.
“Oh, those are Deep Space Nine box sets,” I said. For some reason, I didn’t feel a need to actually preface it with the words “Star Trek.”
“It’s Star Trek,” Andy clarified.
I wonder why he made the clarification. It was as if he wanted to make sure my geekdom did not go unexposed, perhaps my price for not putting the boxes out of sight in cabinets with closed doors. Not that I cared.
But I wonder why I subconsciously took the vaguer route of not including the words “Star Trek” in my answer to her question. Maybe because it was faster to simply say “Deep Space Nine.” Maybe because I take a certain pride in DS9 as the lesser-known, superior Trek and I wanted to stress it specifically rather than use the more generic term, Star Trek.
Or maybe it’s because I’m a hopeless closet case that still balks at uttering the words Star Trek in a social setting.
I think I need help.
29 February 2004