This is a reality check.
Please perform a soft interrupt now. Pattern-scan this text for embedded code and check it against the reference verifier in the blind spot of your left eye.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Recipezaar was started as a labor of fun for a couple of geeks in Seattle who love to cook but more importantly, love to eat.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The Metaphysics of Philip K. Dick
Don't know Dick? Here's his philosophy in capsule form. (Warning: May cause anxiety or dizzyness.)<>brby Erik Davis
Monday, November 24, 2003
The Atom API was designed because the MetaWeblog API proved that RPC-based APIs were simply the wrong solution for this problem. The Blogger API was about as complicated as you could reasonably get before things went completely off the rails. 'Shove everything into a struct' was an idea that sounded like it might solve some problems; but, as you can see, it caused more problems than it solved.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Here’s what Vaclav Havel said in 1992 in a speech called, “The End of the Modern Era.” Havel, of course, is the playwright and political opponent of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia who became president of his country in 1990.Many of the traditional mechanisms of democracy created and developed and conserved in the modern era are so linked to the cult of objectivity and statistical average that they can annul human individuality. We can see this in political language, where cliche often squeezes out a personal tone. And when a personal tone does crop up, it is usually calculated, not an outburst of personal authenticity.
Sooner or later politics will be faced with the task of finding a new, postmodern face. A politician must become a person again, someone who trusts not only a scientific representation and analysis of the world, but also the world itself. He must believe not only in sociological statistics, but also in real people. He must trust not only an objective interpretation of reality, but also his own soul; not only an adopted ideology, but also his own thoughts; not only the summary reports he receives each morning, but also his own feeling.
We don’t yet, however, live in The Long Now. Our empathy doesn’t extend far forward in time. We need now to start thinking of our great-grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren, as other fellow-humans who are going to live in a real world which we are incessantly, though only semi-consciously, building. But can we accept that our actions and decisions have distant consequences, and yet still dare do anything? It was an act of complete faith to believe, in the days of slavery, that a way of life which had been materially very successful could be abandoned and replaced by another, as yet unimagined, but somehow it happened. We need to make a similar act of imagination now.
XMLStarlet is a set of command line utilities (tools) which can be used to transform, query, validate, and edit XML documents and files using simple set of shell commands in similar way it is done for plain text files using UNIX grep, sed, awk, diff, patch, join, etc commands.
This set of command line utilities can be used by those who deal with many XML documents on UNIX shell command prompt as well as for automated XML processing with shell scripts.
In the last 35 years, the world has experienced an unprecedented period of global inflation. From 1792 to 1915, the cost of a bag of groceries in America went unchanged, but from 1973 to 1982, the dollar lost over half of its buying power at the store counter. Since then, the dollar has shed another half of its remaining value when buying that same bag of groceries. Not to be outdone, the UK walked a similar path. From 1795 to 1910, prices didn't budge, but since 1973, the pound has lost almost nine tenths of its retail muscle. What is going on?
Friday, November 21, 2003
This paper addresses strategies for migration from Windows file and print servers to Samba and Linux. When migrating systems, it is always best to used a phased approach. At the end of each phase and before the start of another, the entire system should be working basically the same as, or better than, it was working before. Between each phase, a checkpoint can be made.
Errors have occurred.
We won't tell you where or why.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Intellects vast, cool, and unsympathetic
What a great line!
is a set of libraries designed to support cross-platform development of security-enabled client and server applications. Applications built with NSS can support SSL v2 and v3, TLS, PKCS
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Squeezebox is revolutionary. It streams your music from your computer to your digital stereo over your wireless or ethernet network—without any loss of sound quality. You now have lightning-fast access to any song in your digital music collection, anywhere in your home.
The software companies and now apparently the woodworking industries are claiming the product is only licensed for my use and I do not own it,' mused another reader. 'So if I do not own it, who is responsible for disposal of the product when I no longer need or want it? I have a box of old Windows 3.1 software disks and manuals taking up space in my office as I try to figure out what to do with it. Since I do not own it and have only paid for the use of it, should not the responsibility and cost of its disposal belong to its owner, i.e. the software company? Maybe we can put together a grassroots movement to deliver all our old, no-longer-used software products back to the owners.'
Monday, November 17, 2003
What began as the ultimate outsider activity -- a way to break the newspaper and TV stranglehold on the gathering and dissemination of information -- is turning into the same insider's game played by the old establishment media the bloggerati love to critique. The more blogs you read and the more often you read them, the more obvious it is: They've fallen in love with themselves, each other and the beauty of what they're creating. The cult of media celebrity hasn't been broken by the Internet's democratic tendencies; it's just found new enabling technology.
It's your turn to share what you know.
Tonight, at a rousing lecture sponsored by the Long Now Foundation, Brian Eno described his next undertaking. It's a book, 250 Projects for a Better Future.
Like most good ideas, the premise is deceptively simple: can we describe the 250 projects most critical to building a better future?<>pHe wants recommendations. He knows about this site. Let's give him some. Each project recommendation could include the following: a definition of the project (to take his example, desalinization: the removal of salts from seawater), a description of why it matters (fresh water is an increasingly scarce, but neccessary resource, the lack of which is the source of much conflict and suffering), a brief history of work done on the project to date (overview of previously-created desalinization tools), and suggestions on what work remains to be done (create a desalinization method which is cheap, sustainable and easily distributed).
So, what do you say, worldchangers? Got a project (or two, or twenty)? We want to hear 'em. Mr. Eno assures us credit will be given where credit's due. Consider it a contest. All ideas welcome. Share your answers in the comment section
But don't give up hope. We do have the collective wisdom of fifty years of building software to draw from. Or at least, it's somewhere. Your typical startup with three pals from college may not exactly have the collective wisdom, so they're going to reinvent things from scratch that IBM figured out in 1961, or go bankrupt failing to reinvent them. Too bad, because they could have read Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering, by Robert L. Glass, the best summary of what the software profession should have agreed upon by now. Here are just a few examples from the 55 facts and 10 fallacies in the book:
- The most important factor in software work is not the tools and techniques used by the programmers, but rather the quality of the programmers themselves.
- Adding people to a late project makes it later.
- Reuse-in-the-small (libraries of subroutines) began nearly 50 years ago and is a well-solved problem.
- Reuse-in-the-large (components) remains a mostly unsolved problem, even though everyone agrees it is important and desirable.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
One thing I rarely notice mentioned when ideas like this come up is pre-existing work. Like RecipeML or even the non-XML MealMaster format. Both of these have been around for quite a long time, especially so in the case of MealMaster. In fact, if someone wanted to bootstrap a collection of recipes, you can find a ton (150,000) of MealMaster recipes as well as a smaller archive (10,000) of RecipeML files. Of course, I'm not sure about the copyright situation with any of these, but it's a start anyway.
There was a time a few years back, when the job didn't seem to take as many hours, when I started to get into cooking. Someday maybe I'll have time to do it again.
Friday, November 14, 2003
But what happens when Microsoft has all the computers, all the video games, all the set-top boxes, all the PDAs, all the mobile phones, when it has conquered the transaction business and holds all the money? That leaves only one more industry I can think of for Microsoft to enter that is profitable enough -- pharmaceuticals.
Would you buy drugs from Bill Gates?
The lack of activity in the US in protesting the treatment of foreign national at the borders, the extradition of foreign nationals to countries known to torture and disinterest in the the profiling and secret arrests of Americans of Middle Eastern descent is disconcerting.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
My home has thirty-eight rooms on thirty-six worlds
From the novel Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Notes for a sketch of life in the Hegemony. My home has thirty-eight rooms on thirty-six worlds. No doors: the arched entrances are farcaster portals, a few opaqued with privacy curtains, most open to observation and entry. Each room has windows everywhere and at least two walls with portals. From the grand dining hall on Renaissance Vector, I can see the bronze skies and the verdigris towers of Keep Enable in the valley below my volcanic peak, and by turning my head I can look through the farcaster portal and across the expanse of white carpet in the formal living area to see the Edgar Allan Sea crash against the spires of Point Prospero on Nevermore. My library looks out on the glaciers and green skies of Nordholm while a walk of ten paces allows me to descend a short stairway to my tower study, a comfortable, open room encircled by polarized glass which offers a three-hundred-sixty-degree view of the highest peaks of the Kushpat Karakoram, a mountain range two thousand kilometers from the nearest settlement in the easternmost reaches of the Jamnu Republic on Deneb Drei. The huge sleeping room Helenda and I share rocks gently in the boughs of a three-hundred-meter Worldtree on the Templar world of God's Grove and connects to a solarium which sits alone on the arid saltflats of Hebron. Not all of our views are of wilderness: the media room opens to a skimmer pad on the hundred and thirty-eighth floor of a Tau Ceti Center arctower and our patio lies on a terrace overlooking the market in the Old Section of bustling New Jerusalem. The architect, a student of the legendary Millon DeHaVre, has incorporated several small jokes into the house's design: the steps go down to the tower room, of course, but equally droll is the exit from the eyrie which leads to the exercise room on the lowest level of Lusus's deepest Hive, or perhaps the guest bathroom which consists of toilet, bidet, sink and shower stall on an open, wall-less raft afloat on the violet seaworld of Mare Infinitus.
To me, SSL security certificates have always seemed particularly stupid usability-wise. As I understand it, the system works like this:
- Alice trusts Fred.
- Fred trusts Bob.
- Bob gets a certificate of trustworthiness from Fred.
- When Alice visits Bob’s page, Bob shows Alice his certificate to demonstrate his trustworthiness.
The problems with this system are as follows:
- Alice doesn’t really trust Fred.
- Fred doesn’t really trust Bob.
- Getting a certificate is too hard, so Bob doesn’t bother.
- When Bob shows Alice his certificate, Alice isn’t paying attention.
Adding an IDE CD-RW to Red Hat after install is done
Over the weekend I plunked my old 4X HP CD writer into the Red Hat 9 system I just built.
Getting it to work (*note 1) took longer than it should have because of too much outdated information on the 'Net.
Here's all it came down to:
- Kernel: Do nothing. Most online info starts you off reconfiguring and building a kernel. This is almost certainly unnecessary with a current distro. And it is definitely unnecessary with Red Hat 9. Everything you need is already defined as modules.
- Boot params: It's necessary to add "hdx=ide-cd" (where "x" is dependent on where your CDRW is attached, for me it's the second drive on the second IDE controller so it's "hdd") to the kernel parameters. For GRUB that meant editing /boot/grub/grub.conf and adding that to the "kernel" line.
- Modules config: I added the following lines to
alias scd0 sr_mod # load sr_mod upon access of scd0 pre-install sg modprobe ide-scsi # load ide-scsi before sg pre-install sr_mod modprobe ide-scsi # load ide-scsi before sr_mod pre-install ide-scsi modprobe ide-cd # load ide-cd before ide-scsi
I don't know if Red Hat would have figured this all out if the
drive had been present at install. I do know that Mandrake 9.1
did config it all "by magic" in that situation.
Note 1: "Working" isn't totally verified as I have yet to actually burn a CD. But the command "cdrecord -scanbus" shows the drive.
Offshoring, such a friendly little word
As an aging geek one of the things that concerns me is maintaining employment until I'm financially able to retire (which I figure will occur about the time I hit 90). The main threat to that is the flight of jobs to countries where blue collar programming labor is cheap. It really goes beyond programmers, of course. Any work that can be done
at the end of a wire is a candidate for being migrated somewhere cheaper.
In a way this mirrors what happened to the steel industry and the garment industry and probably others that I can't think of at the moment. As a coworker has pointed out to me, though, those migrations were offset by an increase in higher paying, more skilled jobs. What we're exporting now is the higher paying skilled jobs and leaving behind only things that need a physical presence. Like flipping those burgers or greeting at Wal-Mart.
It wasn't supposed to be this way!
Considering the savagery with which the Snarling Right excoriated President Clinton as a 'sociopath,' blocked judicial appointments, undermined U.S. military operations from Kosovo to Iraq, hounded Vincent Foster and then accused the Clintons of murdering him, it is utterly hypocritical for conservatives to complain about liberal incivility.
But they're right.
Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives, and the result -- everybody shouting at everybody else -- corrodes the body politic and is counterproductive for Democrats themselves. My guess is that if the Democrats stay angry, then they'll offend Southern white guys, with or without pickups and flags, and lose again.
Enjoy this column while you can. You never know when I might decide to revoke your license to read it.
Over the years when UCITA was looming, I often talked about how its 'electronic self help' provisions could allow a software publisher to unilaterally deprive customers of the right to use products they had purchased. While UCITA might now be toast, the spirit of electronic self help is very much alive with something called 'license revocation' - a kind of electronic self help for content. And, particularly if Microsoft has its way, license revocation could make for a very strange world.
Check out this amazing Flash pased pixelart/video-clip interactive tutorial explaining Lego fabrication: the perfect marriage of style and substance.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
FreeMail is a peer-to-peer Mail Server program (aka 'Mail Transfer Agent' or 'MTA') that makes it possible for you to send and receive email messages with unprecedented levels of privacy and anonymity.
The finest radio drama of the 1930’s was The Mercury Theatre on the Air, a show featuring the acclaimed New York drama company founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman. In its brief run, it featured an impressive array of talents, including Agnes Moorehead, Bernard Herrmann, and George Coulouris. The show is famous for its notorious War of the Worlds broadcast, but the other shows in the series are relatively unknown. This site has many of the surviving shows, and will eventually have all of them.
Subversion is a relatively new version control system designed to be the successor to CVS. The designers set out to win the hearts of CVS users in two ways: by creating an open-source system with a design (and 'look and feel') similar to CVS, and by attempting to fix most of CVS's noticeable flaws. While the result isn't necessarily the next great evolution in version control design, Subversion is very powerful, very usable, and very flexible.
Unison is a file-synchronization tool for Unix and Windows. (It also works on OSX to some extent, but it does not yet deal with 'resource forks' correctly; more information on OSX usage can be found on the unison-users mailing list archives.) It allows two replicas of a collection of files and directories to be stored on different hosts (or different disks on the same host), modified separately, and then brought up to date by propagating the changes in each replica to the other.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Provocative piece in today's Wall Street Journal by Dennis K. Berman talks about the growing demands on our informational intake, noting the phenomena of 'surfer's voice' (the distracted conversational tone of someone who's paying more attention to a computer screen than to the voice at the other end of the phone), 'absent presence' (cellphone users paying more attention to the voice at the other end than to their physical surroundings), and other anthropological artifacts of our multitasked world.
Saturday, November 08, 2003
The marketing geniuses at Belkin, the consumer networking vendor, have dreamed up a new form of spam - ads served to your desktop, by way of its wireless router.
Uh Clem. a former Belkin wireless router user, was perplexed to find machines on his network redirected to an ad for Belkin's new parental control system, following a software update. Clem initially thought that the browser setting on the machine he downloaded the updated software had been changed. But when other machines displayed the same behaviour he realised his router was to blame.
The router would grab a random HTTP connection every eight hours and redirect it to Belkin's (push) advertised web page.
'It seems the router now supports a parental control and the market droids at Belkin got the bright idea of equipping the router with intrusive nagware,' writes Uh Clem. 'Of course, I have this strange notion that routers should pass data unmolested by marketeers!'
Friday, November 07, 2003
Two of the three major credit-reporting agencies, each holding detailed files on about 220 million U.S. consumers, are in the process of outsourcing sensitive operations abroad, and a third may follow suit shortly, industry officials acknowledge for the first time. Privacy advocates say the outsourcing of files that include Social Security numbers and complete credit histories could lead to a surge in identity theft because U.S. laws cannot be enforced overseas. For their part, the credit agencies say the trend is a necessary cost- cutting move in light of new legislation that would allow all consumers to obtain free copies of their credit reports.
What is Innovation Futures?
Innovation Futures is a prediction game. Similar to fantasy stock market games, this one lets players trade on all kinds of events. You predict the outcome of various news events we supply. So the more you know, the more likely you are to predict correctly and win. And it's not just how much you know. You can benefit from the bad predictions of others.
How does it work?
Here is an example: Consider a market about the question "What will be the percentage change in the NASDAQ on 11/07/03?". Let's suppose that you want to invest in the outcome "[+.01% and +.5%]". The trading price for the corresponding "contract" is currently x$24 ("x$" is the game's play money). If this outcome ultimately occurs, then each of the contracts you bought will yield x$100 and you will have earned x$76 per contract (100 - 24).
The Patriot Act Reconsidered Next round of antiterrorist legislation seeks to balance privacy and security.
Check out this remarkable picture of more or less all the pieces of the Windows puzzle.
In a sign of what is surely to come, TeliaSonera, Ericsson, Radionet, and the Helsinki University of Technology were able to successfully demonstrate that its possible to seamlessly roam between commercial WiFi and cellular (in this instance, GPRS) networks without interrupting your connection to the Internet.
Monday, November 03, 2003
Whither spam #1
This began life as a reply to a friend whose angst level I had caused to increase by mailing him too many pointers about spam growth. I want to capture it and refine it so here it is.
In the short term, I think that spammers and spam filters will co-evolve in a way that keeps email relatively useful for most people.
I think that some spammer practices such as hijacking random AOLers Windows machines as zombies will eventually be prosecuted, but let's face it, law enforcement has bigger fish to fry than catching somebody who is filling your email inbox with filth.
I think that Windows will slowly evolve to something that's more secure but I'm not sure that really matters. How many unpatched copies of Windows 95 are still out there on '486 systems connecting to AOL via dial-up?
In the slightly longer term I think that the forms of communication currently done via email will fragment to other methods / protocols / programs. I see some of this happening already with newsletters and some other forms of one-to-many communication. There ia something called RSS that is usually associated with weblogs. Weblogs can be just online journals written by people who think that anyone out there might care. But they also can be short turn-around methods of publishing information that can quickly be disseminated.
What do traffic jams, obesity and spam have in common? They are all problems caused by abundance in a world more attuned to scarcity. By achieving the goal of abundance, technology renders the natural checks and balances of scarcity obsolete.
Fascinating little piece!