I saw this Halloween costume idea on slashdot:
dress up like a Priest and tape 2 pairs of boys underwear to your arm....
you're a catholic priest on the patch.
It made me laugh for much longer than it should have.
Last Tuesday was surreal. It started off like any other morning, although it was a little hazier outside, and the smoke smell was really strong (even indoors with the windows and doors all closed up since the fires started).
About 12:30pm I went downstairs to get some lunch and noticed that it was remarkably darker outside than it should be. And it was very dark inside. Our house is south-facing and normally very bright. Then I saw the pink "shadow" on the floor.
That's the nearly full-on noon sunlight. All it could muster was a dull orangish-pink glow. It was surreal enough that I decided to grab the camera and take a pic. I wound up walking out the front door to see what the sun looked like first hand, and I had the camera as well.
This picture was taken right on my front walkway (you can see the outline of my roof's
tiles on the left), looking right into what was left of the sun. About an hour after that picture was taken, you couldn't even see where the sun was.
Anyway Wednesday was much better.
I just downloaded and compiled the package, then copied the hacks/bsod executable to /usr/X11R6/lib/xscreensaver/ (where Red Hat 9 has the rest of the the default xscreensaver hacks) and ran the screensaver setup from within KDE. And I'll be damned if the screensaver "crash" doesn't look exactly like the picture of my wife's Windows XP machine blue-screening. It even has the name of the driver for Tracy's USB SmartMedia card reader that caused the crash (EPUSBDSK.SYS) right there at the bottom. From her PC to mine.
For some reason, I'm more than somewhat tickled about that.
So I'm off tomorrow (again; the school's been closed since Monday because of the fires in San Diego). It's like Saturday night, and I'm bored, confined to the indoors, and thinking about those albums I have in my emusic.com stash to download.
I've been downloading like a nut (I've nabbed like maybe 20+ GB from emusic.com since July) but haven't done much until lately. After a marathon session, I've come to realiiize that Eek A Mouse is like audio crack. Seriously. Now I know why we used to listen to him in high school. Listen to the 30-second sample of Assassinator if you don't believe me. It's like audio herion, I swear...
Turns out that Tripping the Rift is being made into a series by the Sci Fi channel. It even has an IMDb entry. Stephen Root is back as Chode, but they have Gina Gershon playing Six of One instead of Terry Farrel. Either way, that's just super cool news. (And if you haven't seen the original short, do yourself a favor and download it.)
Hard to argue with something like that.
If you find yourself needing a brush-up on RAID, and you like pretty pictures, you might like this site.
Don't ask why, but I was recently reading the Wikipedia entry about Hermann Göring. Frankly, I found that it was far more flattering than I would have written it (how one could be objective about a vile creature like Göring I do not know). The thing that caught my eye was a quote from a statement he made during his trial in Nuremberg:
Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Now, I'm not saying anything in particular, or making any accusations, or calling anyone a Nazi (there are few greater insults). I'm just pointing out the possible parallels to our current situation which are, IMO, surreally spooky. Was he just repeating what is obvious to any leader taking his country to war? Restating common political knowledge? Giving out free advice? Who knows. As for any parallels to our current leadership, let's just say that Herr Göring knew how to work a crowd and leave it at that.
Forbes.com has an article called Linux's Hit Men which describes the attempts by the Free Software Foundation to get Linksys to adhere to the terms of the GPL (Linksys used Linux as the operating system in their line of wireless router/firewalls). The author clearly doesn't understand the GPL, or what the FSF is all about, and the article is pure nonsense. I wound up using the "Reply to this" link at the bottom of the article. Here's what I wrote (with minor formatting changes):
Regarding your article (at http://www.forbes.com/2003/10/14/cz_dl_1014linksys.html) about Cisco/Linksys being asked to honor the (free) license they agreed to when they used GPL'ed Linux code in their SOHO routers:
1. One reason Linksys sold so many units was that they used pre-written code, at zero monetary cost, to produce their product. This gave them a leg-up on the competition -- with no outright expense save allowing others to use their code in a similar way. How can you construe this as being bad? I would think that a pro-business publication like Forbes would have applauded Linksys for their decision. Using a free license cannot possibly do anything but help their bottom line.
2. You state that Linksys having to give back their changes to the GPL'ed code they used would mean that "anyone can make a knockoff of (their) product". At the risk of repeating what I said above, isn't this exactly what Linksys did in the first place when they built their product on top of Linux? And wouldn't it also be somewhat difficult for "anyone" to recreate a router such as what Linksys produces? You'd need to acquire the proper hardware and such, which is well beyond the capabilities of anyone but the most dedicated organizations. Regardless, a Linksys competitor somehow building a nearly-identical product merely because Linksys gave back their changes to Linux would find themselves in court in very short order.
3. You say that using GPL'ed software can be "more dangerous" than using commercially licensed code because it could mean either paying money or sharing your work (as you yourself have shared). Can you imagine how you have to would re-word your article if Linksys had bought just one licensed copy of WindowsCE or QNX for use in all 400,000 units they've sold? Would you attack Microsoft or QNX Software Systems in a similar fashion -- in essence comparing them to murderous mobsters? Do you suppose those companies would take kindly to such libelous speech? Would Linksys paying licensing/royalty fees on 400K units sold be better or worse than simply releasing their changes to a freely available GPL software base? Linksys didn't have to pay a dime. They could have simply given back what they had changed, and all would be well. It's only when they violated the teams of the license they agreed to that they are being asked to comply -- not necessarily pay.
4. The discussions between Linksys and the FSF have hardly been secret. I've not been following such news at all, and yet I've heard about it for months. A simple Google search (such as this one for 'linksys free sofware foundation' which yields some 9,000 hits dating back as far as June of this year) as the simplest of all possible research would have have disabused you of this notion that the FSF is somehow scheming and plotting in the dark to attack Linksys. The facts, apparently, don't make for juicy copy.
5. In the article you state "These disputes might scare companies away from using open source software." It's very clear the author does not understand the GPL. The GPL puts no obligation on the user of GPL'ed software. It *does* put an obligation on the a distributor of GPL'ed software: you are required to share as you have borrowed, nothing more. This is an important point. One can put a GPL'ed application on every corporate desktop computer and not incur any obligation under the GPL.
6. The article also states "the Free Software Foundation doesn't want royalties--it wants you to burn down your house". This is incorrect, and clearly meant to incite negative feelings in the reader rather than convey meaning through metaphor. A closer "house" comparison would be that the FSF wants you to make available the blueprints to the house you built using someone else's blueprints.
7. Finally, Linksys knew what the terms of the GPL stated well before they decided to use GPL'ed code. The license wasn't sprung on them, or introduced surreptitiously. They knew that the cost of using others' non-commercial work as basis for their own commercial product was that they would have to share their changes, and they apparently thought this was a fair deal (it certainly is simple enough to understand, despite the author's best efforts to the contrary). If Cisco acquired Linksys without knowing that their flagship product was built using GPL'ed code, and that they would have to give their changes back, then Cisco made a *huge* blunder. Cisco cannot hope to claim ignorance of the GPL without admitting that they performed almost no due diligence in their acquisition of Linksys. This would not instill a lot of confidence in those who own (or hope to buy) CSCO.
Please do a little more research before producing articles such as these. And if at all possible, try to avoid ad hominem arguments (viz. 'Linux Hit Men', 'comrade', etc.). It does your publication (and your apparent agenda) an injustice.
Yeah, it's pissing in the wind, I know. But I got up earlier than normal so I had a couple minutes to kill. Plus I couldn't just let that nonsense stand without comment.
Tess and I went up to PHX for a four-way birthday: My dad's, my uncle John's, my brother Shawn's, and my sister in-law Lauren's (Shawn's wife). The party was on Saturday, and we all had a great time. There were zero shenanigans and much fun, which is always welcome. Uncle John recently bought a .50 caliber bolt action rifle, and so we planned a small, impromptu shooting trip for Sunday afternoon. Not having smelled burnt gunpowder in quite a long time, I was eager to go. I was doubly eager when I learned that my friend of 20 years Andy was going to meet us for the party and then go shooting that next day. Hanging out with Andy at night and shooting in the morning is just about my idea of a perfect weekend.
Tess unfortunately started getting sick Sunday morning, and opted to stay at my parents' house. That meant that I could drive my 4Runner, and then leave the shooting thing early, getting us both home sooner than expected. I was originally going to fly out Sunday night, and Tess was going to drive (with the dog) back to San Diego, but we figured that we we could save some cash by me driving us all back after the shooting trip. That way, Tess could nap all day. And I really didn't want her driving, and us driving together saved us a hundred bucks, so it worked out fairly well (as well as it can with one person feeling like ass, I suppose). And for the record, I'd like to say that Tess is an A-1 trooper for bearing up while I went off with the boys. A luckier fella you will not find.
We went to a place off I-17's Bloody Basin exit. It's about halfway between Phoenix and Prescott (where Andy lives), so it worked out well for all of us. After driving a while, we found a flat spot with a big, mountainous backstop not too far away. We set about placing 1 gallon recycleable plastic water jugs up on the far hill (about 200-250 yards away) and broke out the guns, cameras and tables.
Uncle John made a terrible discovery while unpacking: he brought the wrong scope for the 50BMG and so couldn't mount the optics -- there were no rings. Since his new rifle had no iron sights (which would be useless on a rifle than can hit targets out to a mile), this was somewhat of a let-down. We decided that we should at least see if the thing could fire, even if we couldn't see how accurately we could fire it. After all, it's not every day that you get to shoot a .50 caliber rifle, and there we were with it and a few hundred rounds of ammo. And we all wanted to shoot it pretty badly (even -- and especially -- uncle John; he had fired a lot of different weapons during his tours in Viet Nam, but never an M2 ). So we shot it by sighting down the barrel, which was accurate to within about 30 feet at 200 yards. We called it a "break-in" period.
We took a bunch of pictures with the aforementioned cannon. This is one of me (complete with a really goofy look on my face) trying to hold it up. Yes, the gun is as absurd as it looks, and it weighs a ton. But it can shoot a really, really long way. I was badly wanting to try it with a scope, but happy to shoot it anyway (I did get pretty close to my intended water jug target: about 10 feet or so).
Andy brought a few guns with him as well, including a few "special" ones: a select-fire M16 and a select-fire Mac-11 with a silencer (picture the gun Bruce Willis used in his apartment to shoot John Travolta in the movie Pulp Fiction; it's the same exact weapon, and fires just as fast as it did in the movie). They are both hellaciously fun. I had never shot the M11 before so for the first magazine, I set it to semi-auto and picked a far-away rock at which to plink. At around 100 yards, I had to put the tip of the front site just a little bit over the top of the rear peep site to hit the beach-ball sized rock (meaning I didn't look through the hole of the rear site).
Single-shot was nice, but that's like driving a Ferrari 55 MPH. You only get so many chances to open one of those up, and so it is with a fully-automatic, silcened submachine gun. Besides, the M11 isn't exactly known for its accuracy (when I told Andy where I had to sight the weapon to hit that far-away rock, he was surprised; he had never tried to shoot it at a target that far away). So the next magazine I had with it went pretty fast, although I shot in groups of two or three. I was very impressed with how accurate it was in that mode. You hold it at your hip or with the wire stock tucked under your arm, and you "guess" where it's going to shoot without sighting it. Then you very carefully squeeze off two or three rounds, and note where they hit. Adjust accordingly, shoot again, and when you get where you want to be, you just hold the trigger down. I covered a decent-sized area out by the water jugs, and while I didn't hit any of them, a human-sized target would have had a hard time being there.
The M16A2 on full auto is just as nice. I do confess to one small problem with M16s in general (and those firing fully automatically in particular): the noise the spring in the rear stock makes goes right through my head. I find M16s/AR15s very hard to shoot comfortably. So I off-handed the M16 in a way similar to the M11. It's easy to get close when you've got 30 or so rounds coming out that fast.
Since we got there at about 3:30 pm, we didn't have a lot of time to shoot (even less when the Yavapai county sheriff who heard the full-auto fire came by wanting to see Andy's Class3 paperwork -- which he had and which she was happy to see). We started packing up well before dark (we save all our brass), but Andy had a couple magazines loaded that he wanted to blow off. There was a cattle pond a little ways away from where we set up, so he went there to shoot (we had all taken off and packed up our hearing protection at this point, so he had to go somewhere else to shoot). Andy went out there and laid down what can best be called a "suppressing fire". He just swept 30 rounds of .223 from side to side into the small pond, and the water plumes made everyone think of the fountains at the Bellagio.
Of course, nobody had a camera pointed at the event, so we had to recreate it. I figured twice the plumage was twice the Kodak moment, so I got 32 rounds of 9mm from Shawn, loaded Andy's M11, and then met Andy by the pond. On the count of 3, we shot our guns. That's me on the left. I swept left to right, Andy right to left. You can see some of the impacts of his rounds on the right while mine were gone by the time the pic was taken. The M11 fires at a higher rate than the M16. I wanted to shoot a .50 caliber round into the pond for comparitive spray purposes, but the rifle was packed by that point.
I'm looking forward to a trip where we can use the ATVs at the cabin to drive targets out to a mile. I seriously want to put money down on "closest to the black" on a one mile target. I just don't want to wait while we walk all the way out to the target.
Aside from Tess being ill, it was a good trip.
I've found the perfect application: NaDa 0.5.
It does nothing. It does it very well. I have installed on every machine I own, and it's not doing anything incredibly efficiently, and exactly as they said it would. Perfection.
I can't wait for NaDa 0.0.
Big election in California today. I'm not telling who I'm voting for (but I will say that the candidate's name rhymes with "pants-in-agar"). If you live in CA, whatever you do, don't vote for Gary Coleman. He's violent.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Call this number: 310-228-3665.
Then go here to find out what the hell Elvis is talking about.
"Must be some kinda Bubba Ho-Tep..." Heh heh.
Last year I wote an entry here which talked about how William Shatner was set to participate in the "world's largest paintball game". Well, the event happened, and was apparently suitable for filiming.
Am I the only one who wants to see this? Am I the only one who wants to see Shatner get lit up? Am I the only one who wants to see if he does that sideways running/rolling thing while Alexander Courage music plays in the background? I mean, if you can't actually set your paintball marker to kill and tag TJ yourself, the next best thing is living vicariously, right? Although, I admit that it would have been hard to not make hissing Gorn type noises if I had actually gone to the paintball match, and that would have screwed up their audio.
Oh, one more thing: Nice goggles, Kirk.
So this guy named Gabe from this company called Valve got his machine (or machines) compromised recently. No big deal, right? Well, all he had to do was use insecure email (as in, when you check email remotely, a username and password fly in the clear), and use Outlook (you preview stuff, and "somehow" these bad guys' programs start running on your machine without you knowing it). Yet he was rooted. Weird, huh? Yeah. Very strange. 'Cause, like, all Microsoft's software is, like, really safe and stuff. You just have to patch and you're fine. Really. Honestly. You can trust these guys.
Well, tell that to Gabe. He got pantsed something fierce, primarily due to his company's use of Microsoft software. When I say "pantsed", I mean it in a "All our competitors can now see everything we've been working on for the past five years: our flagship product -- one we had hoped to release before the upcoming holidays in order to make a lot of money and pay for all this development time we've been taking..." sort of way. Not the "Oh shit, now all the bottom-feeding script kiddie assholes can figure out to how to cheat in our online game and possibly ruin our market share" sort of way.
But I think both ways might come to pass. I intended to buy and play Half-Life 2. There is not one single, small chance in hell will I run it or any of its variants now. Not after five years of development which relied on security through obscurity. I have no confidence that they can both finish the game and fix all the security holes before the holidays. If they would have been able to finish the game with that added effort, it'd be done and we'd have a patch by now. The game is hugely anticipated. They'd have released it if they could. Now with the added pressure to release anyway as close to Christmas as possible, I'm not sure what all holes can be fixed. But are people thinking like me? Are they just waiting for the game? I remember Eudora's release cycles. A word you never wanted to hear was 'showstopper' (you usually heard it Friday night at about 8:30pm the weekend you had show tickets). And while this would be a showstopper ("showkiller"?) for certain, there is going to be a lot of pressure to release the game regardless of what was leaked. But I hope not.
This is bad beyond belief and it will have repercussions. At worst, Valve, as a company, might go away. People will lose their jobs, decades of man-hours of work will be lost. Because Gabe used Microsoft Outlook. At best, Valve goes back to its parent company and asks for a couple million carry over payroll and R&D costs while they figure out how to tighten up their software and clean up the mess. I feel really sorry for Gabe. He was only trying to do his job, using tools his employer gave him. Security shoudln't have had to have been his job.
Was he patched? No idea. Does it matter? Probably not. If a very sophisticated group wanted the HL2 source code, they would get it, no matter what Valve did. Vavle could have used the most secure operating systems and the most secure software, and it wouldn't have matter had the interloper(s) been seriously determined. Having said that... Do you think Gabe will ever feel safe using completely patched and up-to-date Microsoft software ever again? You think he'll use non-SSL webmail or Outlook or IE ever again? I don't think so. Was it Gabe's fault? Not in the slightest. Not even by a longshot. He was using industry-standard tools. Tools his empoyeer gave him, and tools every employee probably used. Tools most of our government uses.
You scared yet?
Who did this? Koreans? Chinese? Nvidia? Saddam Hussein?
What got Gabe can get your congressman. It can get your doctor and your lawyer and your mom. And there's nothing you can do about it. Put the word 'porous' in your mind where user-level security is concerned. And no, firewalls don't help. That Linksys router you bought your folks/sister/whomever (updated that firmware lately?) is in some cases utterly useless. Exponentially so if the software behind it is unpatched. Or written by Microsoft.
I think we're entering a new and very scary world of networked applications and hardware, and Mr. Gates' obvious history of trading of security for convenience (read: sales) has done us nothing but a great disservice. It's a wonder the lawsuits didn't start sooner. Software from MS can harm you. It's as plain as that, and anyone with a clue knows it, too. They've known it for a long time. And now software from Valve can harm you. It might be able to harm you for a very long time to come.
Bah... The more I think about all this, the more apathetic I get. Maybe this is a sign to play fewer games and spend my online/offline time more constructively. Couldn't hurt. Unlike using Outlook or IE.
I spent a few hours last night trying to find out why the web server log files on the new he.net servers don't like to be parsed properly by Webalizer or AWStats, and I came across this entry:
22.214.171.124 - - [30/Sep/2003:22:12:05 -0700] "GET /wee/news/archives/2003_09.html HTTP/1.1" 200 49685 "-" "NPBot (http://www.nameprotect.com/botinfo.html)"
Apparently, it's a little web spider, and it comes by every other day and grabs all our pages. They very nicely provide a link to the FAQ about their spider in the bot's user-agent string. So I went looking to see what it was all about.
According to the link above, this NameProtect company's mission is "Digital Brand Asset Management", and they "engage in crawling activity in search of a wide range of brand and other intellectual property violations that may be of interest to our clients." Is it just me, or is it starting to smell a lot like bullshit in here? No, I'm definfitely picking up faint whiffs of it. Most certainly. It's the smell of sales, of marketing. It's the smell of people who talk of " comprehensive digital brand protection" and "Intellectual Property challenges of the digital era" with a straight face. It's the smell of people who over-use words like 'paradigm' and 'solution' and 'brand' even in non-business conversation. It's big, bangly Omega watch-wearing, Callaway club-using golf playing types who wear enough Calvin Klein cologne to choke even those annoying perfume ladies at the entrances of stores like Macy's.
Oops. I used brand names just then. And with no little ® tags, either. My bad. The sales weasels will be after me for sure now.
Disney. Mickey Mouse. Whoops. Microsoft. Windows. Uh, I mean, "Nothing." Coke, Pentium, Dickies, Zerox, Lego, T-Mobile. Big Mac. Strike all that, wasn't me. Kleenex.
Damn this Tourette's Brand Illness! Damn it, I say!