Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Would you believe it's possible

Would you believe it's possible to place a 500 mile limit on email? Read this and laugh (having written my fair share of sendmail configurations I'm actually surprised to have never found a 500milelimit option myself).

e.p.c. posted this at 13:49 GMT on 4-Feb-2003 .

Thursday, February 6, 2003

Argh...I tried to move the

Argh...I tried to move the Logitech quickcam I bought last year to the Mac. Now, Apple has been selling OS X for several years, it's not exactly new. Logitech, however, has decided not to support OS X whatsoever. In fact, I can't find any Quickcam like products on their site which support OS X. Quite unfortunate since I wanted to buy a couple more cameras, I guess they won't be Logitech cameras.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:19 GMT on 6-Feb-2003 from Brooklyn, NY.

Gulf War II

Gulf War II

e.p.c. posted this at 20:15 GMT on 6-Feb-2003 .

Friday, February 7, 2003

So the government is raising

So the government is raising the "threat level" to orange. Personally, I'm disgusted that various leaders continue to say that another terrorist attack is inevitable.

What they are saying is that they are incapable of preventing such an attack. They failed in September 2001 to protect us, they're all but admitting their inability to protect us now.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:26 GMT on 7-Feb-2003 .

The patent system run amok

The patent system run amok

e.p.c. posted this at 12:14 GMT on 7-Feb-2003 .

Sunday, February 9, 2003

In a followup to this

In a followup to this post, Canadian RCMP officers arrested a man for stealing a 30Gb hard drive from an allegedly secure facility run by IBM subsidiary ISM Canada. More details in the Globe and Mail article: Police satisfied hard-drive data not used illegally and this CBC article: Regina police recover missing hard drive.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:40 GMT on 9-Feb-2003 .

Monday, February 10, 2003

Interesting article in Newsday today:

Interesting article in Newsday today: Why Won't Johnny Read?:

In growing numbers, young adults are turning away from the news media their parents and grandparents rely on for information about their neighborhood, region and world. The trend started 30 years ago but has accelerated since the late 1990s. It now is seen by many as a crisis that threatens the long-term survival of some celebrated news organizations.

I know that I get most of my news from either the NYTimes.com website or NY1. That said, I’ve been reading the printed WSJ since December (having subscribed to the online version for years) and have started buying Newsday a couple days a week. Why? Mostly, surprisingly, for the ads. As I’ve been trying to get a handle on the job market I’ve found that ad buys in the papers are a far better indication of who’s hiring and who isn’t. Newsday also covers more outerborough stuff than the Times. As the Times continues its march to being a national daily, it’s lessening focus on the city and region.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:02 GMT on 10-Feb-2003 .

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Salon: Intolerance on the left:

Salon: Intolerance on the left: Michael Lerner, liberal rabbi and harsh critic of Ariel Sharon, finds himself blacklisted by ANSWER, the group co-sponsoring Sunday's big antiwar rally in San Francisco.

Even as other members of the democratic left have denounced the hardcore Maoists and Stalinists behind much recent antiwar organizing, Michael Lerner, the dovish San Francisco rabbi and editor of the liberal Jewish magazine Tikkun, has defended the role of sectarians in the movement. When members of his congregation complained about the stridently anti-Israel rhetoric at demonstrations sponsored by ANSWER, a front group for the Workers World party, he urged them to turn out anyway, and Tikkun sent busloads of people to both Washington and San Francisco.[...]

So Lerner was understandably outraged to learn that he'd been banned from speaking at the San Francisco rally ANSWER is co-sponsoring on Sunday.

Some say that's because Lerner, while urging people to work with ANSWER on peace movement issues, also has denounced the group's rabidly anti-Israel, pro-Saddam politics. But Lerner says that the agreement giving ANSWER veto power over its critics was merely a pretext used by the group as an excuse to keep him off stage. The real reason for his exclusion, Lerner believes, is that, while he is unrelenting in his opposition to Ariel Sharon's government and his call for Palestinian statehood, he supports Israel's right to exist and condemns Palestinian terrorism. An ANSWER spokesman seemed to confirm Lerner's theory when he told WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer that the group wouldn't allow a "pro-Israel" speaker at its demonstrations.

e.p.c. posted this at 08:51 GMT on 12-Feb-2003 .

Friday, February 14, 2003

I worked in this building

I worked in this building briefly: Fire on roof of Schaumburg’s IBM building. I spent the month of February 1998 there, running the US operations of the Nagano Olympic Games website.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:06 GMT on 14-Feb-2003 from Brooklyn, NY. Source,

These Weapons of Mass Destruction

These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:58 GMT on 14-Feb-2003 .

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Great interview with Kurt Vonnegut:

Great interview with Kurt Vonnegut: Kurt Vonnegut vs. the !&#*!@ at In These Times:

[In These Times:]My feeling from talking to readers and friends is that many people are beginning to despair. Do you think that we've lost reason to hope?
[KV:] I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d'etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka "Christians," and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or "PPs."

e.p.c. posted this at 14:41 GMT on 15-Feb-2003 from Brooklyn, NY. Source,

Monday, February 17, 2003

Snow day

It’s a snow day today...I’ve decided to take the day off.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:51 GMT on 17-Feb-2003 .

The world is ending.

Johnny Cash has covered the Nine Inch Nails track "Hurt".

e.p.c. posted this at 14:24 GMT on 17-Feb-2003 .

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Snow day

So...it snowed here yesterday. I shovelled the walk and stairs several times (though the stairs were completely clear in the morning due to the wind tunnel effect of the buildings around us). Anyway...I’m standing on the walk talking to our downstairs neighbor, who’s just about done clearing her walkway, when two guys walk up and ask us to pay them to clear our walks. I look at our neighbor, she looks around, and we both laugh hysterically since pretty much everything is cleared. I suggested they go next door to the apartment building where there was four-five foot drifts. They walked away instead.

echo

This will make sense to perhaps one person who reads this site. I rejoined echo, a NYC area BBS/community board (I’d briefly been a member in 1997). I’ve gotten down most of the commands and zip through the discussions pretty quickly. Unfortunately my mind keeps slipping and I forget that I’m not using FORAVIEW on POKVMCR1 and type things like reacc and nq people (reacc relinks all minidisks on VM/CMS and nq people was a way of seeing who was online on the old IBM RSCS network, for echoids it’s yo).

e.p.c. posted this at 08:48 GMT on 18-Feb-2003 .

From Wired News: Are You

From Wired News: Are You Scared Stupid? Do Tell. Privacy International says security measures are getting more and more ridiculous. The organization invites the public to e-mail stories in a competition for the world's most pointless security measure. By Michelle Delio.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:14 GMT on 18-Feb-2003 .

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

CD Sales Are Down Because of Radio Consolidation

There's a great writeup at Salon about the impact of deregulation on the radio industry, specifically about Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel has 970 more stations than its closest competitor, frequently owning the major stations in key markets like New York, and dominating the different genres. You can't get radio coverage if Clear Channel won't play your music.

My personal opinion is that the collapse of CD sales in the past three years is due as much, if not more, to the deregulation of the radio industry than to P2P filesharing. Wonder if/when the RIAA will take on Clear Channel. It's probably much easier to go after college students.

Read Clear Channel's big, stinking deregulation mess: The sorry state of the radio industry today is sabotaging FCC chairman Michael Powell's plans to let media conglomerates run wild. If you like the article, sign up for a subscription to Salon (if you don't have one already).

e.p.c. posted this at 14:54 GMT on 19-Feb-2003 .

Introduction to Patterns for Personal Web Sites

Introduction to Patterns for Personal Web Sites

e.p.c. posted this at 22:30 GMT on 19-Feb-2003 .

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Good writeup today in Salon

Good writeup today in Salon about Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont who's running for US president in 2004. Read On the campaign trail with the un-Bush:

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean blasts fellow Democratic presidential candidates for trying to "me too" the "most dangerous presidency since Herbert Hoover."

e.p.c. posted this at 10:26 GMT on 20-Feb-2003 .

Vt. bookseller purges files to

Vt. bookseller purges files to avoid potential ‘Patriot Act’ searches:

Bear Pond Books in Montpelier will purge purchase records for customers if they ask, and it has already dumped the names of books bought by its readers' club.
"When the CIA comes and asks what you've read because they're suspicious of you, we can't tell them because we don't have it," store co-owner Michael Katzenberg said. "That's just a basic right, to be able to read what you want without fear that somebody is looking over your shoulder to see what you're reading."
The Patriot Act approved after the 2001 terrorist attacks allows government agents to seek court orders to seize records "for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."
Such court orders cannot be challenged like a traditional subpoena. In fact, bookstores and libraries are barred from telling anyone if they get one.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:41 GMT on 20-Feb-2003 .

Vt. bookseller purges files to

Vt. bookseller purges files to avoid potential 'Patriot Act' searches

e.p.c. posted this at 19:23 GMT on 20-Feb-2003 .

Friday, February 21, 2003

Is Google too powerful?

Is Google too powerful?

e.p.c. posted this at 06:39 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

A cunning plan

So, here’s the plan for next week’s little trip:

BROOKLYN, NY
Erie, PA
Downers Grove, IL
Champaign, IL
Denham, IN
Coraopolis, PA
Brooklyn, NY

e.p.c. posted this at 09:29 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

Hackers Run Wild and Free

Hackers Run Wild and Free on AOL:

Using a combination of trade tricks and clever programming, hackers have thoroughly compromised security at America Online, potentially exposing the personal information of AOL's 35 million users.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:08 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

Spam Kills

Nigerian Slain Over E-Mail Scam

According to police reports, the suspect was a victim of the 419 scam, a thriving industry that employs thousands of people around the world. The scammers successfully manage to extort money from thousands of victims by promising them compensation for assistance in moving funds from foreign countries to banks in the United States.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:14 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

Word Bursts Could Help Refine

Word Bursts Could Help Refine Web Searches:

A besieged e-mail inbox prompted Kleinberg to design the new system. While trying to filter his mail, he theorized that whenever an important topic arose, keywords related to it would show up in messages with increasing frequency. As a result, searching for words whose usage increased dramatically and quickly—or "burst"—could help identify significant topics and provide a way to categorize messages. Kleinberg devised a search algorithm that analyzes both the number of times words appear and the rate of increase in their frequency over time.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:16 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

Global Umask Modification for OS

Global Umask Modification for OS X 10.2

e.p.c. posted this at 15:17 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

OSSTMM - Open Source Security

OSSTMM - Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual

e.p.c. posted this at 15:19 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

How to defeat bad robots

How to defeat bad robots with Apache

e.p.c. posted this at 16:23 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

Tivolan

Heh heh...both Tivos are on the home lan now. Now to get tivoweb working.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:12 GMT on 21-Feb-2003 .

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Which America Do You Want to Live In?

In Fortress America, Matthew BRZEZINSKI writes up one scenario for the "war" on terrorism and its impact on our day to day lives.

For the better part of a generation now, Americans have gone to great lengths to protect their homes — living in gated communities, wiring their property with sophisticated alarms, arming themselves with deadly weapons. Now imagine this kind of intensity turned outward, into the public realm. As a culture, our tolerance for fear is low, and our capacity to do something about it is unrivaled. We could have the highest degree of public safety the world has ever seen. But what would that country look like, and what will it be like to live in it? Perhaps something like this.

It’s a long article, probably from the Sunday Magazine section. It is not an easy problem —who’s rights do you sacrifice? Do you focus on the few who match the "profile" or do you put choke points at all social interactions so as not to single out any one individual or ethnic group for "interest".

In Fortress America, Matthew BRZEZINSKI writes up one scenario for the "war" on terrorism and its impact on our day to day lives.

For the better part of a generation now, Americans have gone to great lengths to protect their homes — living in gated communities, wiring their property with sophisticated alarms, arming themselves with deadly weapons. Now imagine this kind of intensity turned outward, into the public realm. As a culture, our tolerance for fear is low, and our capacity to do something about it is unrivaled. We could have the highest degree of public safety the world has ever seen. But what would that country look like, and what will it be like to live in it? Perhaps something like this.

It’s a long article, probably from the Sunday Magazine section. It is not an easy problem —who’s rights do you sacrifice? Do you focus on the few who match the "profile" or do you put choke points at all social interactions so as not to single out any one individual or ethnic group for "interest".

e.p.c. posted this at 10:14 GMT on 22-Feb-2003 .

Sunday, February 23, 2003

In honor of tonight’s Grammy Awards, three readings on the economics of the music industry: LOVE’S MANIFESTO by Courtney Love, The Problem With Music by Steve Albini, and FALLOUT — a follow up to The Internet Debacle by Janis Ian.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:28 GMT on 23-Feb-2003 .

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Quiet...too quiet. I spent most

Quiet...too quiet.

I spent most of today (Tuesday) at the Acura dealer having the car serviced. Frisket and I are about to put 2000 miles on it over the next week, I figured I'd at least get the oil changed. Oh, and add an engine block heater (which we'd paid for last year but never got installed). And an inspection. The car is apparently still considered to be a car according to the inspection. Given that my 1990 Sunbird continued passing inspections, even after being hit by a snowplow, I'm not entirely convinced of the value of NYState inspections.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:00 GMT on 25-Feb-2003 .

Since I had How can

Since I had How can we dance while our earth is turning stuck in my head, I journeyed off to Midnight Oil’s website. After tooling about there I checked out The Backsliders and before I knew it, I was then on HMV Australia buying CDs. I ordered two Backsliders CDs, as well as the latest Triple J Hottest 100 CD, the latest Killing Heidi CD and a couple others which I’ve already forgotten about.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:30 GMT on 25-Feb-2003 .

Friday, February 28, 2003

You’re invited to attend a meeting.
You write up some notes about said meeting.
You email said notes to a close circle of friends.
Some time passes and you find yourself the target of invective, flames, inquiries, questions, and followups from thousands of people who have received a copy of your notes.

Fun, eh?

This happened to a journalist from Newsday, who attended Davos and wrote up an informal email to some friends about the meeting. The email was forwarded all over the place. There is a great, detailed, write-up of the aftermath at Lawmeme titled Accidental Privacy Spills: Musings on Privacy, Democracy, and the Internet.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:10 GMT on 28-Feb-2003 .

When I was at IBM

When I was at IBM I went through an evolution in my approach to email and postings to the internal fora. Initially I was quite chatty (probably too chatty) and informal. The fora were organized as semi-threaded dialogues on various topics. You could carry on multiple discussions in multiple fora with various people from all over the world. It was incredibly intoxicating, and though I often learned something new, it had absolutely nothing to do with my job in most cases.

My first shift was to separate my professional participation from everything else. I’d read fora related to my job during the day, perhaps 30-45 minutes max throughout the day. In the evening, at lunch, on the weekend, I’d read and participate in the other discussions, the ones on OS/2 and the Internet and everything else I was interested in.

This worked for several years until my job shifted dramatically and I became IBM’s alleged webmaster (alleged because IBM officially didn’t have a webmaster). Suddenly what I wrote, and had been writing informally in the internet related fora, had meaning, purpose, intent, weight. I couldn’t just spout off, though I frequently did in my first 12-18 months. When I did spout off, and it inevitably upset someone (IBM had surgically removed irony, humor, and common sense), I’d inevitably receive a friendly call from some muckety-muck, occasionally even The Chairman’s Office (please read that with a hushed, serious tone).

This was not fun. More importantly, it was a complete and utter waste of time to spend an hour explaining what I meant in a two line append to a forum.

So I began to withdraw from the various discussions. First I eliminated the ones which were truly outside the scope of what I was responsible for or working on. I mean, it was so bad that if I posted a question in the WINDOWS forum about using Mosaic or the early version of Internet Explorer, I’d be flamed for even contemplating using a Microsoft product when OS/2 was so much better (never mind that my question didn’t state that we were switching, setting a standard, anything like that at all).

I pretty quickly found that I could not write anything publically, inside IBM, that was not intended to be an official statement about something or another. So I withdrew even further, keeping to the main web related fora, ceasing participation in most other fora. It wasn’t worth my time or energy to debate petty points with people or answer to yet-another inquest from some minor executive.

This was bad for several reasons. First, I stopped reading the other forums. It was hard to hold off on posting or replying if I was still reading the fora. Second, I stopped getting input from the wider IBM community. Instead of getting intoxicated off the myriad interactions and ideas flying around, I got dulled and numbed by the daily escalations and confrontations.

Finally, I found (as I think everyone I worked with at ibm.com) that we couldn’t write anything down that wasn’t intended to be set in stone. Our mantra was Do not write anything in email that you do not want on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (I’m not sure why we picked the WSJ as our object of terror, perhaps it was Kalis’ influence).

The overall impact was devastating, in retrospect. The only constant input and interaction we had was with people who, frankly, wanted us to fail, desperately wanted us to fail. We got no new ideas, no new solutions to problems. We were terrified to let loose with any email or forum posts that might imply we didn’t know the exact answer to the question we were posing or faced with. Our innvoations stopped. Dead in the tracks. Sure, there was product development going on, but we had no interaction with the developers. Other people were running into problems with their websites, but we could not help them less someone strt into a flame/escalation war over our solution.

We couldn’t share what we were doing with the wider community since that would open us up to the people who had nothing better to do than to complain, escalate, bitterly block whatever activity were were doing simply because that was their only contribution. Sure, we might get valid criticism and commentary, but it would be overwhelmed by destructive criticism. It just wasn’t worth the effort.

These days I have the advantage of not working at IBM.

I keep my emails brief, concise, to the point. Things I want to be made public, I post here to my weblog/journal. I still put nothing into email I don’t want reappearing on the WSJ (perhaps I should write MetaFilter instead?). It is too easy people to forward something outside the circle of people I’d feel comfortable sending the original message to.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:39 GMT on 28-Feb-2003 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as www.ibm.com.

More about me here.

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