Monday, November 1, 2004

Endorsement: John Kerry for President

I voted nearly three weeks ago, before the wedding even, since I thought I was going to be in Seattle this week. For a variety of reasons I decided to push off the Seattle trip to next week.

Anyway, I voted for Kerry. I was in the midst of writing a long diatribe about why I voted for Kerry, but it comes down to this: I do not trust Mr. Bush or his administration. I do not think that he has the best interests of the American people in mind as he acts. I think that his administration has shown a callous disrespect for the law, both US law and international law. I think that his administration is bad for business, cutting the Federal corporate tax load only to shunt the load to 50 states means a net increase in workload and possibly taxes for business.

I think the administration, the President, and the Republican party have all but forgotten that the cornerstone of this country is its people not corporations. Corporations do not fight wars, corporations do not get sick from the flu or HIV, corporations are simply a tool for providing services and enriching the owners of the corporation. It's people who work for the corporations, who come up with ideas for the corporations, who buy services from the corporations, who get rich when corporations do well, who get hurt when corporations act neglilently. By shifting more and more of the tax burden to individuals and families, the administration makes it less likely that they will be good employees, good consumers, happy capitalists. Less money in the pocket is less money to buy toys, services, gadgets, cars; it's less money to invest; it's less money to use to take care of yourself. It leads to an inefficient system since the "savings" from the tax cuts end up getting lost in other ways, and not as reinvestments into the capital of the country.

I voted for Kerry because I believe in the rule of law, I believe that law and government are what binds us together and makes it possible to ensure security, to create a climate where personal and financial success not only can occur but is safeguarded from the tumult of civil unrest.

I truly believe that a reelection of George Bush will lead to further economic decline and civil unrest.

I voted for Kerry, and encourage you to do so as well.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:43 GMT on 1-Nov-2004 .

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

New phishing scam: rewrite hosts file from email

According to Covert phishing scam lies in wait for its victim - silicon.com, there's a new phishing scam floating around the net which works by rewriting your hosts file to redirect requests to the scammers' servers.

What's a hosts file? Long, long ago in an internet far far away, one had to refer to remote systems using their IP address, eg: 127.0.0.1. Thing was, these systems typically had a name, eg PLPSC or SYSMVSA, so someone, somewhere came up with the idea of mapping these hostnames to IP addresses in a file called /etc/hosts on unix systems (and \windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts on Windows related systems). Very quickly the hosts file became unmanageable as names changed, networks were rearranged, and around (I'm doing this from memory, so don't blame me if the dates are wrong) anyway, around 1984 the domain name system with its concept of nameservers and resolvers came into being. This was a system of servers which translate sysmvsa.example.com to 127.0.0.1.

Still, the hosts files stick around, either to get around temporary nameservice problems, or for very small networks an easy way to alias readable names to IP addresses. The hosts file is typically checked first on systems, definitely with windows systems. Which is what makes this exploit all the more insidious...most people using Windows today have no idea what a hosts file is, where it's located, or the impact of it being rewritten.

What this exploit can do (in theory, I haven't seen it myself, nor do I want to) is map the entry portals to a number of e-commerce or banking web sites to a proxy run by the scammers. The proxy can then filter out non-secure requests from secure requests, and parse out the userid and passwords used to access the site. Since the proxy knows which site you were trying to access, it can easily build a database of userids, passwords, and systems to log into.

If you fall victim to this, you're pretty screwed. You won't know it's occurring until you've been had (unless you notice that your connection is oddly slow, which you may not notice if you're on dialup or a slower broadband connection, or if the proxy is close to you in the network). The exploit appears to take advantage of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. It's possible that an antivirus scanner will detect these scripts either in your email or when they try to execute, but I wouldn't be surprised if they don't consider the hosts file to be a critical system file. (I mean, it is a critical system file but I edit mine frequently and never get an alert from my antivirus program).

e.p.c. posted this at 14:41 GMT on 3-Nov-2004 .

Friday, November 5, 2004

Permalinks for Tivo shows

Via 90% Crud: Dear TiVo... a discussion about permalinks for shows in Tivo (actually, permalinks to the listing at tivo.com). Seems like Tivo has this or added it very quickly on reading of this discussion.

Next: RSS feeds for Tivo recordings.

Update 11/24/04: via engadget.com I found How-To: BroadCatching using RSS + BitTorrent to automatically download TV shows by Phillip Torrone and How to never miss an episode with BitTorrent and RSS by Pedro Alcocer.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:20 GMT on 5-Nov-2004 .

Hey, it's Friday the 5th of November 2004

Well, the election was depressing. I don't have anything of value to contribute other than that.

I was supposed to spend the week in Seattle working with Azaleos but decided to hold off until next week when a new employee will be there. So I'm flying out on Monday the 8th, returning next Friday.

This weekend we'll be doing the NYC marathon again. We don't run, we hand out tissues around mile 14. This started several years ago when Lisa ran and someone handed her some Kleenex. Now we show up with 2-3 other people, Frisket, and a couple of cases of Costco's cheapest tissue paper (I assume the runners don't mind, I mean, the first year we ran out so quickly we ended up handing out napkins I bought at a store up the street).

I picked up a new keyboard last week, a matias tactilepro. I had noticed that the Logitech wireless keyboard I was using kept sticking when I'd type fast. For web surfing and email it was ok, but as I'm getting into writing again and coding it was slowing me down, a lot. So after some echoids recommended the tactilepro I bought it online. I like it mostly, though it has an annoying thing with keys mystically repeating (I have long delays set for repeating keys on both my Mac and PC so I don't think it's the computers) and the control and shift keys tend to get into weird states. I'm probably not using a supported setup (the keyboard is plugged into a USB kvm between the mac and stinkpad). The question is, am I more productive with the keys not sticking like the Logitech even though I have to back up (I've had to stop three times so far and reset the shift key which seems to be acting like a caps lock)?

Other purchases this week: a new heater for my office (in the winter it tends to be in the 40s-50s even with the door to the front bedroom open). I upgraded Visio and MS Project (though I don't know why I continue to hold onto Project). On Eric's recommendation I bought City of Heroes, though I haven't installed it or signed up for the online account. I also picked up a wireless doorbell and a relay. I need to hook it into our existing intercom system so that I can hear the doorbell in my office (which ironically is directly above the door but nowhere near an intercom).

In somewhat sad news, my Thinkpad 240 seems to have gotten upset at its non-use and lost the lower half of the LCD screen. Might just be a loose wire, I need to take it apart but it's not urgent. I'd bought the 240 when I took the job managing part of the olympics.com team in Sydney in 1999. Worked well, though by today's standards it's slow.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:47 GMT on 5-Nov-2004 .

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Cities Without Borders: Digital Culture and Decentralization

Mindjack - Cities Without Borders: Digital Culture and Decentralization

e.p.c. posted this at 08:52 GMT on 7-Nov-2004 .

NYC Marathon 2004

So we spent the morning and midday around mile 14 of the NYC marathon today.
It was rather warm and as a result we only used two cases of tissues.

Frisket was well behaved, she'd either stand at my side or sit just behind me as the runners would come up and grab a handful of tissues.

I'd post pictures but the new camera uses a memory stick which I can't read just yet so they'll have to wait until I return from Seattle at the end of the week.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:00 GMT on 7-Nov-2004 .

Monday, November 8, 2004

In Seattle for the week

I'm in Seattle for the coming week working at Azaleos (ok, it's in Issaquah, not Seattle). The flight out was cramped but boring, I need to get back up to AAdvantage Gold status soon if I'm going to keep up the cross-country trips.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:55 GMT on 8-Nov-2004 .

Saturday, November 13, 2004

crossing a continent

:: Earthflyer: Route ::

e.p.c. posted this at 14:49 GMT on 13-Nov-2004 .

Well, this explains a lot

Curious about how one appoints a new Vice President, I started digging around for a copy of the US Constitution, I came across http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution.html. However, what I wanted was the amendments, so I dropped off "Constitution.html" and got back the following page: (the actual error is more interesting, it's a 401 (Not Authorized) vs 404).

Silly me, trolling around the US House web site looking for the Constitution when I know that's the last place to look for a valid copy of it.

The amendments are listed here.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:39 GMT on 13-Nov-2004 .

Wanted by the Police: A Good Interface

Wanted by the Police: A Good Interface: Since June, the [San Jose, CA] police department has been using a new mobile dispatch system that includes a Windows-based touch-screen computer in every patrol car. But officers have said the system is so complex and difficult to use that it is jeopardizing their ability to do their jobs.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:25 GMT on 13-Nov-2004 .

Monday, November 15, 2004

Dark Side of the Band

Wired News: Dark Side of the Band: Across the world, high-powered transmitters with global reach are broadcasting seemingly meaningless strings of numbers or letters, along with a lot of buzzing and beeping noises.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:27 GMT on 15-Nov-2004 .

Something Borrowed

From a great essay by Malcolm Gladwell in the 11/22/04 issue of The New YorkerThe New Yorker: Something Borrowed: Borrowing crosses the line when it is used for a derivative work. [...] Old words in the service of a new idea aren’t the problem. What inhibits creativity is new words in the service of an old idea.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:07 GMT on 15-Nov-2004 .

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

: RSS Edges Into the Bureaucracy

US Federal agencies are starting to use RSS to disseminate information: Wired News: RSS Edges Into the Bureaucracy

e.p.c. posted this at 10:28 GMT on 16-Nov-2004 .

The Urban Archipelago, It's the Cities, Stupid

Via Salon, The Urban Archipelago, It's the Cities, Stupid., by The Editors of The Stranger (11/11/04):
It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:44 GMT on 16-Nov-2004 .

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Flickr

I signed up for flickr, an online photo/image gallery service. My pictures are shared at http://flickr.com/photos/epc/, and I posted a couple to Frisket's blog using the service.

I think the interface is what I like best about the service...it's easy to use and navigate, I haven't had any "misfires" from clicking on the wrong thing and receiving something unexpected.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:22 GMT on 23-Nov-2004 .

TrackBack and Pingback supported by CNET News.com

This is very smart: TrackBack and Pingback supported by CNET News.com | CNET News.com. Basically c|net's enabled some server-side technology that blog authoring tools can query and use to send link notifications. I've been wondering when media companies would pick up on this, it basically lets you as the author of an article know when someone has linked to it. It's been abused by spammers but is still useful. Question is: will cnet make the list of trackbacks for articles available, so that readers can see the discussion about an article posted on people's blogs?

e.p.c. posted this at 20:15 GMT on 23-Nov-2004 . , Comments [1]

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Blog Torrent

Blog Torrent - Simplified bittorrent by Downhill Battle: What is Blog Torrent? Blog Torrent is software that makes it much easier to share and download files using the bittorrent protocol. Blog Torrent is easy to install on your website: we don't use MySQL so installation is as easy as uploading a folder to your web host, and all administration happens in the web interface. [...] But most of all, Blog Torrent makes publishing with bittorrent painless. Just click "upload", pick a file, and you're done.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:18 GMT on 24-Nov-2004 .

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Annoyed: Thinkpad space bar

I'm notsure what happened butover the lastcouple of days thespacebaronmythinkpad has stopped,well, spacing. It now only works if I press very precisely on the center of the space bar. But based on the very obvious wear mark on the right side of the space bar this is not going to be aneasy adjustment.

Update: Ok, I popped the space bar off again and realized that the springy-metal clip wasn't clipping appropriately. If you pop the space bar off the thinkpad x31 you must reinsert the ends of the metal springy thing on the bottom of the key into the ends of the strangely hinged plastic things on either side of the actual button/switch. They seem to function as a way of ensuring the entire key depresses at the same time. Seems a tad overdesigned to me, but what do I know.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:21 GMT on 27-Nov-2004 . , Comments [2]

Florida twisters dial up a fortune from Brits

Florida twisters dial up a fortune from Brits:
Internet 'rogue dialler' swindles have caught out as many as 80,000 home computer users. Rupert Jones reports

What's the link between trade union official Alan Scrimgour, his telephone bill, a mysterious "cyber-porn" company called Edvan Solutions, and the US president's brother, Jeb Bush?

The answer is that they have all found themselves involved in the strange saga of a "rogue dialler" internet swindle of the type highlighted by Jobs & Money earlier this year. This scam is continuing to rip off home computer users - it emerged this week that as many as 80,000 people have complained of being fleeced by rogue diallers since the start of this year.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:29 GMT on 27-Nov-2004 .

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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