Wednesday, September 10, 2003

And some time later...

The blog restarts. I have split the site into a couple of separate weblogs, one for personal "stuff" (this site) and a couple others for commentary/opinion and technology stuff. The sites are:

In theory they will all be aggregated at http://epcostello.net/. If you want to read them all, great, if not, great.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:29 GMT on 10-Sep-2003 .

Thursday, September 11, 2003

In my life

In 1980, the weekend after John Lennon was murdered, the Chicago Tribune published a copy of the first page of sheet music of “In My Life” with a broken pair of rose colored “granny” glasses. It was on the back of either the then Arts section or possibly a special section about Lennon. I don’t remember.

Anyway, I had never heard the song at the time and sought it out. It”s kind of haunting, but I found it quietly reassuring. I thought of it last night while walking Frisket on the promenade overlooking downtown. Here’s the first stanza (not guaranteed to be correct since I’s relying on the copies I found on the web).

There are places I remember
all my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

e.p.c. posted this at 14:01 GMT on 11-Sep-2003 .

Friday, September 12, 2003

10 years online

So, in response to a request I received last week, I dug up my notebooks. I've kept notes rather diligently since getting slapped upside the head by someone I worked with for having poor time management routines (skills? I had no time management skills).

Anyone, I was floored by what I wrote in 1993 and 1994. I forgot that by this time in 1993 I was actively helping publish books to the internet (using gopher and ftp...bet three out of four of you don't know what gopher even is). I wrote a gopher server for VM. Was working on one for MVS until it became apparent that we really needed a web server. The web server itself got shot down by people in the Networking divison in Raleigh.

Anyway...I just thought it was funny that a lot of the problems I took notes about in 1993 and 1994 (before I was actively involved in www.ibm.com) came up over and over again when I was working on ibm.com, and you even see now.

I guess we never learn. I sure didn't, and I know IBM hasn't.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:31 GMT on 12-Sep-2003 . , Comments [1]

wonder who signed off on the flight plan?

GM's Saturn apparently has a blimp. Said blimp is flying around the NYC area tonight. I happened to be on the promenade with Frisket and a pair of binoculars and spotted the blimp floating over New Jersey heading towards Manhattan.

Some time passed, and passed and it finally flew up the harbor. And towards downtown Manhattan. And literally right up West Street (from my perspective) towards the WTC site. Now, it may have been hugging the shoreline but it was still flying rather low (I'm sure intentionally to get all of those eyeballs). Low flying aircraft of any sort are looked on with suspicion around here, and flying low over the WTC area is just incredibly stupid. It wasn't even in stable level flight but bouncing up and down 100 feet at a time.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:16 GMT on 12-Sep-2003 .

ziploc bags are the traveller's best friend: dreaming@echonyc.com: spacker

e.p.c. posted this at 21:16 GMT on 12-Sep-2003 .

Saturday, September 13, 2003

I finally got my Radio Userland blog exported in a form I can work with (XML). I'll write an xsl stylesheet and convert it to the Moveable Type format. Don't expect anything to happen before early next week. In case anyone else has to do this, here is the relevant code I used: file.writeWholeFile( "c:\\tmp\\weblog.xml", table.tableToXml( @weblogdata.posts ) ). Originally it had radio.weblog.init() in place of @weblogdata.posts but that didn't seem to work.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:26 GMT on 13-Sep-2003 .

blog pings not working

Still learning my way around Moveable Type, can't get the outbound pings working.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:26 GMT on 13-Sep-2003 .

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Humidity 99.9%

It's far too humid to do anything today. Frisket manages to stand up and walk to a new spot only to collapse in a heap of white fur until the spirit moves her to move again.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:25 GMT on 14-Sep-2003 .

WHY DON'T WE HAVE ANSWERS TO THESE 9/11 QUESTIONS?

The Philadelphia Daily News - The People Paper: WHY DON'T WE HAVE ANSWERS TO THESE 9/11 QUESTIONS?. Twenty questions that we still don't have good answers for. Some are definitely out there, but others are valid.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:08 GMT on 14-Sep-2003 .

Monday, September 15, 2003

Hurricane Zone C

We are in hurricane zone C. Well, not really. We're just at the edge. The only problem with this classification is that we're almost 100 feet above sea level. Either they have misclassified, or they expect some honking huge waves for category 5 hurricanes. (Last time I checked, Isabel has dropped to category 3). Some friends have a daughter named Isabella, whose birthday is coming up. Not a bad first birthday present having a hurricane almost named for you :-).

e.p.c. posted this at 21:49 GMT on 15-Sep-2003 .

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Rate my network

For Cameron & Paul: .: rate my network diagram :.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:11 GMT on 16-Sep-2003 .

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

nytimes: Amtrak Workers Plan Strike to Protest Lack of Financing

Don't book any Amtrak tickets for October, 3... Amtrak Workers Plan Strike to Protest Lack of Financing:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 ? Six Amtrak unions are to announce on Wednesday that they will stop work on Oct. 3, shutting the railroad for the day, to protest Congress's failure to pass a $1.8 billion appropriation for the railroad for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:22 GMT on 17-Sep-2003 .

New version of BIND to counteract Verisign

Internet Software Consortium - BIND

e.p.c. posted this at 10:46 GMT on 17-Sep-2003 .

using xslt to transform data

Today’s project is to use xslt to transform the Radio Userland blog into input for Moveable Type. I also have to split out Frisket's blog since RU maintained it solely as a category of my main site.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:39 GMT on 17-Sep-2003 .

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Saudis consider nuclear weapons

Just what the world needed: Saudis consider nuclear weapons .
Saudi Arabia has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, in response to the upheaval in the Middle East.

This new threat of proliferation in one of the most dangerous regions of the world comes on top of a crisis over Iran's alleged nuclear program.

A strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh sets out three options:

  • To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent.
  • To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection.
  • To try to reach a regional agreement on a nuclear-free Middle East

Of course, if the Saudis gain weapons of mass destruction, we'll have no choice but to go in and remove them, right? Let's review:

  • Number of Saudi hijackers on the September 11 flights: 17
  • Number of Iraqi hijackers: 0
  • Number of Iranian hijackers: 0

e.p.c. posted this at 18:29 GMT on 18-Sep-2003 .

Friday, September 19, 2003

War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity

Mark Helprin writes: The Claremont Institute: War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity
More than merely winning the war in Iraq, we needed to stun the Arab World.

America has approached the war on terrorism as if from two dreamworlds. The liberal, in which an absurd understanding of cause and effect, the habit of capitulation to foreign influence, a mild and perpetual anti-Americanism, reflex allergies to military spending, and a theological aversion to self-defense all lead to policies that are hard to differentiate from surrender. And the conservative, in which everything must be all right as long as a self-declared conservative is in the White Houseā??no matter how badly the war is run; no matter that a Republican administration in electoral fear leans left and breaks its promise to restore the military; and no matter that because the Secretary of Defense decided that he need not be able to fight two wars at once, an adequate reserve does not exist to deal with, for example, North Korea. And in between these dreamworlds of paralysis and incompetence lies the seam, in French military terminology la soudure, through which al-Qaeda, uninterested in our parochialisms, will make its next attack.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:44 GMT on 19-Sep-2003 .

Recording industry's missteps

Restarting a thread I've had on the RIAA and the downturn in music sales: DenverPost.com - ENTERTAINMENT:
The best-selling "Chicago" movie soundtrack is available on CD starting at $13.86. The actual movie, with the soundtrack songs included, of course, plus additional goodies ranging from deleted musical numbers to the director's interview and a "making-of" feature, can be had for precisely $2.12 more. Therein lies the problem for a critically wounded music recording industry: The "Chicago" CD looks like a rip-off, and the DVD looks like a steal.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:01 GMT on 19-Sep-2003 .

Eolas says it would settle over IE

Microsoft values intellectual property protection...when it's their intellectual property. When it's someone elses they'd prefer to take their toys and go home: Eolas says it would settle over IE | CNET News.com

In response to newly revealed details of Microsoft's potential plans to redesign its browser, Eolas founder Mike Doyle urged the software giant to leave Internet Explorer alone and pay his company a license fee instead.

Doyle, whose company's patent suit led to a federal district court's $521 million judgment against Microsoft, made his remarks to counter growing perception in the software industry that he is an ideologically driven crusader unwilling to settle with Microsoft at any cost.

"Microsoft has been representing to the world that they have no choice but to remove technology from the browser and disrupt the Internet," Doyle said in an interview Friday. "And I want to make it very clear that that is not the case. Microsoft has had in its power the ability to settle this case, and to the extent that they're refusing to settle, it's their decision."

e.p.c. posted this at 22:51 GMT on 19-Sep-2003 .

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Rain

The theme for today is rain. Seems to be that we're catching up for the weather we missed from Isabel. Frisket and I walked around the block. I was totally soaked by the time I hit the bottom of the stoop. Hicks Street has a 3-4 inch stream of water running down it. As we rounded the Witnesses' building Frisket ducked into one of the entryways. She did this at each entry way, which I'm sure let her feel less soaked, but didn't help me at all.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:20 GMT on 23-Sep-2003 .

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Copyright distorts the market

An excellent opinion piece in the SMH on copyright: Copyright distorts the market - smh.com.au There's been a lot of coverage lately about music being downloaded from the internet. This has been going on for years but now the Recording Industry Association of America has given the matter a much higher profile by prosecuting individuals and giving great publicity to the fact.

Events since I wrote those words have only served to reinforce my views. The actions of the RIAA and the record companies are the desperate acts of an industry based on a superseded business model attempting to hold back the tides of history. They will fight all the way, and they will win the odd battle, but they will lose the war.

Copyright is not the natural order of things. It was invented only some 300 years ago to protect printers - not writers. And it remains a means to protect the near-monopolistic rights of music companies, publishers and software houses. It distorts the market and is a barrier, not a boon, to creativity.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:04 GMT on 24-Sep-2003 .

Still fixing things

Still working to get this site up to speed. Moveable Type is a fun package but has some quirks I haven't figured a workaround for.

I spent much of the day driving the car to and from the Acura dealer so it could get a 20,000 mile checkup and oil change. Took close to an hour to drive the ~9 miles there, maybe 30 minutes to drive back.

Whipped up a bunch of food for someone's gathering tonight (a red bell pepper blend that we've found works well with cous-cous as well as risotto, a cherry tomato salsa that should work fine with the soy sauce marinated chicken, and a veggie plate).

Frisket is quite dejected that we won't let her play with the guests tonight. She was a bit too jumpy around the food to be let loose.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:40 GMT on 24-Sep-2003 .

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Getting somewhere

Looking better...granted I will never win any design awards. One thing I'm not liking with Moveable Type is that all entries need to be titled. You can make an entry without a title but MT doesn't then substitute the date of the entry in title lists, you get a blank line (see the Recent Postings list to the side for an example).

e.p.c. posted this at 00:57 GMT on 25-Sep-2003 . , Comments [1]

Making a video screen out of thin air

This is pretty cool: CNN.com - Making a video screen out of thin air - Sep. 15, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- In a museum in Tampere, Finland, Ismo Rakkolainen's fog machine conjures up the Mona Lisa on an invisible sheet of water particles. Thousands of miles away in Hermosa Beach, California, a graduate student passes his hand through an image of a DNA strand produced -- apparently out of thin air -- by a modified video projector.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:54 GMT on 25-Sep-2003 .

Renewable Brooklyn

Renewable Brooklyn:

Renewable Brooklyn is a collective of artists, educators, environmentalists and professionals dedicated to creating a more ecologically healthy way of living

Our event's purpose is to bring together the immense creative talent, spirit and energy in New York City and focus it toward creating a more sustainable way of living. One that links health, home and industry in cooperation for the community as a whole.

The goals are to promote intelligently designed, non-toxic, non-polluting practices that use renewable resources and inspire the people who live in the five boroughs to become more environmentally conscious and active.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:33 GMT on 25-Sep-2003 .

Saturday, September 27, 2003

New year/new weekend

Spending the weekend in Amagansett. Managed to set up the telescope and spot Mars but I think it needs a stronger eyepiece. Also not as fun as I'd mistakenly thought it would be since it is a pain to set up correctly (and even after setting it up correctly it was a couple degrees off from Mars).

e.p.c. posted this at 12:29 GMT on 27-Sep-2003 .

GraphViz Site Map Generator with SVG output

Must look into this: ia/ GraphViz Site Map Generator with SVG output. I’ve been intrigued by automatic graph layouts for a bizarrely long time. In college I sat in on a lecture on Hamiltonian circuits (aka the travelling salesman problem and bane of many comp sci students). In my early career at IBM I played around with some graphing routines for visualizing code trees in MVS. I wanted to play with doing some sort of automatic layout of the ibm web but never had the time, and there was always someone who had the "official mandate" to do so anyway. Now, of course, I have plenty of time to play.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:30 GMT on 27-Sep-2003 .

Monday, September 29, 2003

Playing with CSS and Bookmarks

The lower right hand corner has a list of links I find handy. Some are to other weblogs, others to news sites, and others are just useful references. I maintain the list in an XML file and have been playing with xsltproc and CSS to display the list.

I am almost to the point where it will be automagically uploaded and transformed to HTML (I’d try serving up the raw XML but then it can't be embedded into an HTML page...I think).

Anyway, one minor thing I ran into was what to do with a link I've visited ...mark it in some way, make it disappear? I played with display:none as applied to a:visited but while that makes the text disappear, the containing element li still causes a line break. There appears to be no way to trap :visited on the li tag so I've dropped that as an option.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:25 GMT on 29-Sep-2003 .

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Yahoo! Wallet Scam

In my Yahoo! email account this morning I received this message:
Dear Yahoo! User, We encountered a billing error when attempting to renew your Yahoo! service. This type of error usually indicates that either the credit card you have on file has expired or that the billing address we have is not current.

This is your final notice. Please take a moment to update your credit card information by clicking here and submitting your information.

Please note that we will attempt to renew your service five days from today. If we are still unable to charge your credit card at that time, your service will be terminated.

Sincerely, Yahoo! Billing Department

Ooh, scary. I should act on it right away. Bzzzt..

This is a classic “phish” scam. Send out an authentic looking email and point to an authentic looking site in order to grab credit card numbers from unsuspecting people.

NEVER, EVER, RESPOND TO SUCH AN EMAIL WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION, OR FILL OUT THE FORM. Sadly there are many people who will receive this, not suspect anything, and go ahead and give someone free access to their credit card.

§

In my Yahoo! email account this morning I received this message:
Dear Yahoo! User, We encountered a billing error when attempting to renew your Yahoo! service. This type of error usually indicates that either the credit card you have on file has expired or that the billing address we have is not current.

This is your final notice. Please take a moment to update your credit card information by clicking here and submitting your information.

Please note that we will attempt to renew your service five days from today. If we are still unable to charge your credit card at that time, your service will be terminated.

Sincerely, Yahoo! Billing Department

Ooh, scary. I should act on it right away. Bzzzt..

This is a classic “phish” scam. Send out an authentic looking email and point to an authentic looking site in order to grab credit card numbers from unsuspecting people.

NEVER, EVER, RESPOND TO SUCH AN EMAIL WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION, OR FILL OUT THE FORM. Sadly there are many people who will receive this, not suspect anything, and go ahead and give someone free access to their credit card.

Some warning signs are evident from the text of the note itself. It's obviously spam since Yahoo! in theory would have access to at least know my name, instead of "Dear Yahoo! User". Second, no contact name or phone information is provided, another warning sign.

If we take a look at the mail headers:

X-Apparently-To: USERID@yahoo.com via 216.136.129.241; Tue, 30 Sep 2003 04:25:35 -0700 
X-YahooFilteredBulk: 61.123.74.87 
Return-Path: <update@yahoo-wallet.com>
Received: from 61.123.74.87 (HELO SDDfa-01p3-87.ppp11.odn.ad.jp) (61.123.74.87) by mta110.mail.sc5.yahoo.com with SMTP; Tue, 30 Sep 2003 04:25:34 -0700 
Received: from flirble.org [213.165.171.29] by SDDfa-01p3-87.ppp11.odn.ad.jp (Postfix) with ESMTP id 9A73B4E4379E for <USERID@yahoo.com>; Tue, 30 Sep 2003 19:24:25 +0000 
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 19:24:25 +0000 
From: "Update" <update@yahoo-wallet.com>
Subject: Important Information Regarding Your Account  

The first surprising thing is that Yahoo! didn't flag this in any way even though the message has fake Yahoo! headers within it. The next thing to notice is the two Received: headers. One references a site in Japan, another references "flirble.org". flirble.org doesn't exist, however the IP Address referenced [213.165.171.29] reverse resolves to "d0-171-29-d.u25.onvol.net", which appears to be a dynamic domain name from the onvol.net ISP in Malta. Now, there's no guarantee that that is the originator of this spam, however it's a good place to start.

The next thing to look at is the website: Screen shot of False Yahoo! administrator email.

First red flag: it's not in the yahoo.com domain. Second, it doesn't use SSL (the URL is http:// instead of https://). It even says it uses SSL but it's obviously both from the initial URL as well as the URL in the form (if one views the source) that it's not a secure site. Third, again, if it's Yahoo! asking you for this information, then logically they know who you are and would just need you to login into the appropriate Yahoo! site.

I don't know how many people use Yahoo! email, let's say it's 500,000. If 1% of those people (5,000) fall for this that's a lot of credit cards. If even .01% fell for it that's still 50 people too many.

Don't be fooled by these things, and more important, if you know someone who may be fooled warn him or her.

  • Unsolicited requests for credit card information are highly suspect.
  • Companies you do business with regularly may keep your information on file. Make sure it's secured both by a userid and password as well as SSL.

    If you are using a form that requires personal information or credit card information, look for the "key" or lock symbol on your browser. If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the site, examine the SSL certificate. It's brwoser depenedent, but on MSIE you can double click the "key" symbol in the browser frame. Look for the domain name to match what you expect (ie: something.yahoo.com instead of firble.org). You can even view a detailed breakdown of the key to see who issued it. Caution: anyone can create an SSL certificate, it's not trivially easy but it's not that hard either. If your browser warns about the authenticity, does not recognize the "signer" of the certificate you may well want to cancel the transaction.

  • Unless you have a regularly recurring bill for an online service, there's little reason for a company to contact you online for your credit card infromation.
  • If you are contacted, make sure you use what you know to be the company's profile, userid, or briefcase web site, not something pointed to in the email.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:56 GMT on 30-Sep-2003 . , Comments [1]

LGA->ORD

Lisa's off to Chicago for five days at UIUC. The ride to and from LGA was surprisingly easy, no major traffic hangups, not even at the BQE-LIE intermess. Frisket has a bit of a dejected look this afternoon, I think she knows Lisa is going to be away for awhile.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:16 GMT on 30-Sep-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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