Monday, December 27, 2010
(a) Amazon cares little about Linux, and
(b) the Amazon MP3 downloader was done by very inexperienced or very poor developers.
Linux is a very small sliver of the market, so (a) is unsurprising.
My reason for casting stones at their developer is that the downloader does not work with 64b CPUs and now when I try to install it on a 32b Ubuntu 10.10 I get the message Dependency is not satisfiable: libboost-filesystem1.34.1. After installing version 1.42.0 of the libboost filesystem, I still get the error message. This strongly suggests that someone coded the dependency checks for only one version of the library, or wrote the code not considering the possibility that newer versions would be backward compatible.
I like Amazon, though I am done dealing with Amazon Sellers. Tonight Amazon had me thinking I might have to go elsewhere for MP3 downloads. However, a little googling and then a moment in the Ubuntu Software Center led to clamz. It appears there are a few other tools to do this, but clamz is the only one I see as an officially-supported Ubuntu package. And it works (or at least on the one album I pointed it at tonight).
I prefer using clamz over the Amazon downloader, because it's less closed software on my machine. Clamz likely does it's job, and nothing more. The Amazon downloader, for those lucky enough to have a system it works on, has always been an unknown factor--it downloads MP3s, but does it do something else? Probably not, but one never knows.
As an aside, the MP3s that I downloaded tonight do not have the same identifying information as the ones I wrote about last week. It may be obfuscated, encrypted, or just not present.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <uits:UITS xmlns:uits="http://www.udirector.net/schemas/2009/uits/1.1" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> <metadata> <nonce>Yvjd12Il</nonce> <Distributor>Amazon.com</Distributor> <Time>2010-10-24T04:41:17Z</Time> <ProductID type="UPC" completed="true"> 10731458698620 </ProductID> <AssetID type="ISRC">GBAAN0200016 </AssetID> <TID version="1"> plaIo2V1UdVjRvVYo2vBICme1kF4PYav </TID> <UID version="1"> MY USERID HERE </UID> <Media algorithm="SHA256"> 4fda5179408e867619d5321b804fd1d16cb1ffd4f3d3485b48c241f803444897 </Media> </metadata> <signature algorithm="DSA2048" canonicalization="none" keyID="9b3a698acfcfea37b486aba46bdfb50c92b8f7fe">MC4CFQCLUjy5GJIaXROMGuef/iTBI3ADngIVAI1ZVWo9+IA6FAVXQ5feBVbi3yH6 </signature> </uits:UITS>
I've done a little reformatting, replaced my user I.D. with a placeholder, and modified some hashes and keys, but you can easily get the basic idea. My advice is to be reluctant to share these files, or to strip the XML at the beginning.
This is a fairly recent change for Amazon. This information is not present in a song I downloaded from Amazon in August.
Friday, December 24, 2010
(1) The accounts are separate, one reached via mail.google.com and the other via gmail.umbc.edu. I can reach both via the traditional mail.google.com URL, but with two different user names. I plan to explicitly go via (and link to) the gmail.umbc.edu address.
(2) I usually use Chrome for Gmail, but use Firefox for UMBC (myUMBC) services. Firefox add-ons allow me to selectively turn off undesired scripting within myUMBC and Chrome does not display PeopleSoft slop properly (I suspect it really does, however, and that PeopleSoft is simply not following web standards, but this is something for future investigation). So I will continue to use Chrome for personal Gmail, and will use Firefox for UMBC mail.
(3) I use different themes for the two Gmail services, and so my work and my personal screens look very different.
(4) The UMBC Gmail has "myUMBC" prominently displayed in the upper left.
(5) If all of that is not enough, I can simply return to an IMAP client for UMBC e-mail and continue to use the browser for personal Gmail.
The one drawback I have seen in my initial look is that Google says it may take several days for my old e-mail to migrate to Google. Since I have switched, I can no longer access UMBC Squirrel mail, and so none of my old e-mail folders are currently available via the web. Since grades are due in a couple weeks, this could become sufficient motivation to temporarily configure an IMAP client on my laptop. However, I do not foresee much inconvenience here except possibly delaying my grading of assignments submitted via e-mail.
I do suspect there is still a way into squirrel mail, but do not plan to spend any time finding the way.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
My intention was to place an excerpt here, but formatting XML within Blogger is more trouble than it's worth. Just view an MP3 from Amazon within an editor, e.g., emacs.
The upshot is that, since easytag doesn't display these tags, I'll have to write my own filter to do such.
However, the second page a Google news search led me to as I tried to ascertain the fate of Babel Fish says it has been spared for now.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The thing to do is to remove the web history. From Google Account Help:
Using Web History: Deleting
You can delete Web History from your Google Account at any time. Just follow these steps:
Click the My Account link from the Google homepage.
Click Edit next to 'My products.'
Click Delete Web History. Make sure you're signed in to your Google Account to see the My Account link.
Note: Deleting Web History from your Google Account will erase all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future. You can also remove individual items without deleting all of your Web History.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I often have students in my office for advising and typically go over their online records. This means they look at my web browser. This also means they can read titles of tabs (fine, so be it) and contents of the search bar. I'd hate to have a student read too much into the fact that I've recently searched for Shaun Cassidy. So in my office I removed the search bar and just open a new tab (^t) and hit the g key. This takes me immediately to Google.
(1) Most of my searches are Google searches. I played with Bing when it first came out, but Bing's results don't seems as good, and Bing seems to use a fair amount of client-side scripting, which I'd rather avoid. Google does too, but they already know everything about me.
(2) I may sometimes prefer a Wikipedia search or some such, but very often the appropriate Wikipedia page is near the top of the search results, so Wikipedia search is redundant.
(3) Doing a quick lookup for this posting led me to http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/search.html, which points out that one can select text and drag it to the search bar, which seems to work well. So my search bar is, at least temporarily, back in my Firefox window on most of my machines--just not the one in my office.
A problem I've had for awhile--predating Blackboard 9--is that when editing content within a Blackboard text area, Blackboard pops up a requester asking me to give some piece of Java code complete access to my PC. Of course I always say no. However, Firefox and Chrome seem unable to remember this, though Opera can be instructed to always block such a request from a particular site. Firefox is happy to allow one to always trust signed content from a provider, but not to always distrust. Strange.
Anyhow, these two AdBlock Plus rules block the annoying content from UMBC's Blackboard installation:
It appears that Blackboard wants access to all the data and applications on my PC on the off chance that I might want to run an equation editor. I'll go out on a limb, having never tried webeq3, and say I have better equation editing tools on my machine.
I avoid that page most days. Firefox, Chrome, and Opera begin showing possibly-relevant pages as soon as the user begins typing in the address bar (a much more useful use of auto-completion than one can find in office applications). IE probably does this as well. If I need access to web-based functionality hidden behind the dysfunctionality of myUMBC, I just start typing the word 'faculty' into the address bar. Usually the 'f' is sufficient to get me to the myUMBC faculty center, bypassing most of the garbage. Speaking of garbage, though, PeopleSoft is directly accessible from the faculty center, but that's another issue.
I installed from the alternate install image. The standard image does not include encrypted LVM. It does, however, allow one to encrypt user home directories. Is this good enough? No.
(1) In Ubuntu, encrypting a user's home directory fails to protect users who lose their passwords. This could happen a number of ways. It happened to me once via shoulder surfing. Many people use the same password for multiple services--a bad idea. The user password and encryption pass phrase should be distinct.
(2) Users tend to use weak passwords. Hopefully they choose better pass phrases.
(3) With just the home directory encrypted, swap is in the clear. This is a well-known leak and part of why secure software generally overwrites passwords and keys in memory as soon as they are no longer needed. Garbage collection is not good enough for keys. In general any data could show up in swap, and so swap should be encrypted.
Friday, December 17, 2010
1) http://news.netcraft.com/ has been doing a great job of covering the back-and-forth of WikiLeaks availability, changes in their hosting and DNS services, etc.
2) Tonight I decided to spend a few minutes looking at the site. Among other things, I was interested in whether it would be difficult to get to. Two things worked right away. (a) Googling WikiLeaks led directly to 18.104.22.168 (registered to wikileaks.org in a block owned by OVH ISP in Paris), so the DNS is not necessarily needed. (b) Verizon's DNS service redirected me to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/, but some of the links at that site, e.g., the one to obtain a secure connection, did not work.
3) Some of the calls for the US government to launch web attacks against WikiLeaks are largely over the top and naively stupid. I wouldn't be surprised to discover attempts to hack into their database or their servers, but the idea of launching DDoS attacks against ISPs and hosting services in the US, Europe, and elsewhere is just silly. The US launching cyber attacks against France and Russia? Not a good idea.
4) I read one leaked dispatch, http://22.214.171.124/cable/2009/08/09BRASILIA1017.html. This is tagged "UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY." One phrase I really like is advice to the USG (US Government, I suspect), "speak softly and carry no stick." The article talks about attempts to keep the Brazilian government from authorizing pharmaceuticals in Brazil to produce generic versions of AIDS drugs, in other words the bureaucratese seems to suggest that the US government is more interested in corporate profits than in dying Brazilians. Not a big surprise.
This is exactly the sort of thing US (and Brazilian) voters should be aware of, and also not the type of leak causing much of the uproar.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Many of these veterans have gone through hell and many are having trouble re-integrating with life stateside, especially with the economy in its current state. Now it appears that community colleges also require them to be dishonest in their writings or face threat of losing access to campus, education, and perhaps a future career.
The Baltimore Sun article: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-md-veteran-suspension-20101121,0,1268392,full.story
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
According to Wikipedia, the rules of the game are
- Everyone in the world is playing The Game. (Sometimes narrowed to: "Everybody in the world who knows about The Game is playing The Game", or alternatively, "You are always playing The Game.") You cannot not play The Game; it does not require consent to play and you can never stop playing.
- Whenever one thinks about The Game, one loses.
- Losses must be announced to at least one person (either by using a statement such as "I Lost The Game" or by alternative means).
These rules were written by someone with rather weak logic. I'm in the world (more-or-less), I know about the game, and I have never played the game nor do I think I ever will. I'm thinking about the game right now, but I do not acknowledge any loss, other than the time to type this. I will likely think of the game again at some point, but I won't tell anyone I lost the game, so I won't be playing the game at that point, either.
I imagine that as I type this, some twit is twitting "I lost the game."
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Or directly from youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lylgA7DWBXU
Thursday, September 23, 2010
This country has been running scared since 9/11/01, and the situation a couple years ago in Blacksburg didn't help. But enough is enough, and "e2campus" is too much. We're expected to sign up to be alerted for events of near-zero probability, so almost any e2campus alert will be a waste of time.
> September 23, 2010
> To: The UMBC Community
> Fr: Mark Sparks, Chief of Police
> Re: False Report of a Shooting on Campus
> This morning, Baltimore County Police responded to a 911
> call of a possible shooting in front of the Retriever
> Activities Center (RAC) within about two minutes of
> receiving the call. Both police agencies did a thorough
> search of the RAC and surrounding area and found no evidence
> of a shooting through the search or citizen interviews on
> the scene. The call was apparently unfounded, and is being
> treated as a False Report call by the Baltimore County
> Police Department.
> An e2Campus text alert was sent out once the UMBC officers
> developed enough information about the call, to tell the
> campus the nature of the call and that it was unfounded.
> Members of the campus community are encouraged to sign up
> for e2campus, an emergency alert text-messaging system that
> will permit the University to notify subscribers to any
> campus-related emergency (such as potential campus safety
> hazards or campus closures due to weather). It is compatible
> with mobile phones, Blackberries, "smart phones," satellite
> phones, e-mail, wireless PDAs and pagers. Normal
> text-messaging rates apply. There are no additional
> charges. Sign up for this important service today at
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
So is it worth it?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
format, but I would prefer
For example, I'd rather see this:
drwx------ 2 jdm jdm 20K Mar 24 22:00 .
drwxr-xr-x 9 jdm jdm 52K Mar 21 03:04 ..
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 520K Mar 24 21:03 252.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1.4M Mar 24 21:04 253.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1.3M Mar 24 21:04 254.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1.3M Mar 24 21:05 255.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1.3M Mar 24 21:05 256.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1.1M Mar 24 21:05 257.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1.1M Mar 24 21:06 258.jpg
as opposed to this:
drwx------ 2 jdm jdm 20480 Mar 24 22:00 .
drwxr-xr-x 9 jdm jdm 53248 Mar 21 03:04 ..
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 532078 Mar 24 21:03 252.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1369711 Mar 24 21:04 253.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1285739 Mar 24 21:04 254.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1320355 Mar 24 21:05 255.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1328517 Mar 24 21:05 256.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1101028 Mar 24 21:05 257.jpg
-rw------- 1 jdm jdm 1077152 Mar 24 21:06 258.jpg
The fix was this line of Lisp added to the end of my .emacs file:
(setq dired-listing-switches "-alh")
Monday, August 23, 2010
If I visit http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/ in Firefox I get full access. If I visit it with Opera or Chrome, and click one of the Insider links, I get a login screen. What's the difference?
So, if I disable scripting, I get a much cleaner, more pleasurable view of the Journal Sentinel's Packer pages. As a side effect, I also get access to the Packer Insider materials. This is due entirely to poor security architecture at the Journal Sentinel's site, and, IMHO, strong evidence that the design was not done by an experienced professional. OTOH, there may have been other constraints making this desirable, and they may not actually care. If I were to lose access to these pages, I wouldn't really care because the Green Bay Press Gazette has comparable content that's openly-available.
As an aside, there are those that think it is bad to disable advertisements that support web sites. I have sympathy for this view, but I don't want their scripts running on my machine, eating cycles, providing animations which make it difficult to concentrate on the actual content, and, in extreme cases, making noise or damaging my system. I will aggressively block Flash, animated GIFs, etc., that damage the user experience.
This shows a general advantage of server-side over client-side scripting. Providers have a better idea of what their pages look like on the client side if they use server-side scripting--which is controlled by the provider--rather than client-side scripting, which is controlled by the end user, the browser, malware, etc.
Summary: security must be on the server side.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
The real question is, what's your take on this stuff. Am I contributing more to the energy companies than to the advancement of human knowledge?
I used to run SETI@Home on a few systems. I noticed that my laptop was always hot when I ran it, so I stopped using it there and then gradually stopped using it altogether. That may be BOINC-based now. I also tried to donate cycles to some Brit climate project a while back, but they didn't have Linux support.
Even on a non-laptop it does cost you power. Most current CPUs have frequency scaling, and use much less power when running at lower frequencies. Gnome has applets that let you monitor CPU frequency and temperature if your hardware supports it.
I don't know how to weigh energy use vs. benefit to mankind. It will cost more when run in an air-conditioned room since you pay the electric company to heat the machine and then pay the electric company to cool the room containing the machine. OTOH it could save you a tad on heating in the winter (at OSU we had an Intel hypercube that could easily heat a couple rooms). If your machines suspend after a couple hours of no keyboard or mouse activity, then the impact may not be very large. I'd be leery of running it on a laptop, especially if it keeps the machine from suspending (as SETI@Home did a decade ago).
Soundtrack: "Danger" by the Motels
Friday, August 20, 2010
Soundtrack: "I Robot" by The Alan Parsons Project.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
You can also have your visited states map on your site.
If you see this message, you need to upgrade your flash player.
|Make your visited states map||Flex charts|
You can also have your visited countries map on your site.
If you see this message, you need to upgrade your flash player.
|Make your visited countries map||Flash charts|
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Four U.S. airports made SmarterTravel's list of the world's scariest airports for takeoff and landing:
[ ... ]
Also making the list: Gibraltar Airport in Gibraltar; Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Paro Airport in Paro, Bhutan; Barra Airport in Barra, Scotland; La Aurora International in Guatemala City; and Wellington International in Wellington, New Zealand.
La Aurora requires an unusual maneuver in which a landing plane banks steeply and then thuds down. The jet I arrived in from Ft. Lauderdale did this, and a few days after my arrival, I was walking north of the airport and saw a Cessna perform the same maneuver. I think La Aurora is scariest, though, due to the lack of facilities in the international terminal. Probably the least pleasant airport I've ever had to fly from. And as I'm wont to say, Vasco da Gama never had to put up with airlines and airports when he traveled the world.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This causes many pages that support https access to use https. Examples include Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon, as well as others I haven't tried, e.g., Twitter and Facebook. This seems a valiant attempt to make it harder to eavesdrop on traffic and simply like a good idea. It's in the spirit of "encrypt everything," the idea that all traffic should be encrypted simply because some people think encrypted traffic is likely to be more important, more likely to include incriminating informations, etc.
Related post: http://martesmartes.blogspot.com/2010/07/important-privacy-development-from.html
Sound track: Depeche Mode, "Love In Itself"
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Of course, flash is one of the larger technological threats to web security, and works much more slowly than static content or server-side scripts. And there doesn't appear to be any substantial content at the site that isn't static.
There are better alternatives, though:
Soundtrack: The Church, Sometime Anywhere, Disk 2
Friday, July 9, 2010
https://www.google.com/ now provides encrypted connections for web search. This is excellent for wireless access from public places, probably effective a lot of places that filter Google searches (though they could now just block https access to google.com), and just a good thing to use generally.
Soundtrack: Mellencamp, "Justice and Independence"
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Between Blackboard and Peoplesoft, there seems to be no bottom to the level of quality of software UMBC is willing to pay for.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I had a similar experience last week while out of town. I don't have cable TV, and so am usually not subjected to cable news. Cable TV news is terrible, all commercials all the time and almost no news. Give me NPR and BBC any day. I've mostly stopped watching NFL games for the same reason.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
1) http://www.debianadmin.com/flip-convert-text-file-line-endings-between-unix-and-dos-formats.html recommends a tool called flip. This makes no sense to me whatsoever since it does exactly what dos2unix and unix2dos do. It looks to me like someone's CS1 assignment that somehow got added to the Debian repositories.
2) http://www.sowbug.org/mt/2004/07/emacs-dos-line-endings.html has a good short-term fix, a bit more convenient than what I was doing. Within emacs, type the following key sequence: C-x [ENTER] f unix [ENTER]. This sets the "Coding system for saving file." Good enough.
Also, Sowbug.org has a great tagline: "If all you have is a Bloom filter, everything looks like a set whose membership you wish to test with a possibility of false positives."
3) Barriehie at http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1375454 has the winner, a good, permanent, catch-all type solution. Essentially, modify .emacs to include:
;; Set ALL files to UNIX line endings
(add-hook 'find-file-hook 'find-file-check-line-endings)
(defun dos-file-endings-p ()
(string-match "dos" (symbol-name buffer-file-coding-system)))
(defun find-file-check-line-endings ()
(set-buffer-file-coding-system 'iso-latin-1-unix t)
I've tested it just a bit, and it works beautifully.
Also, my .emacs is all in one file, and I prefer the way he splits it across multiple files. I'm using the .emacs that grad students were given at Ohio State ca. 1992 with many, many modifications. Following Barriehie's lead, I've split my .emacs it into multiple files, thus allowing me to keep my modifications separate from the stuff passed down from Brutus Buckeye.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
I thought it was a joke, or that ATC had fallen for a prank, but, no: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook/index.asp
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I understand outsourcing, and I understand an organization wanting to move this out of the local IT shop (though forcing people to get an account with Microsoft seems an egregious privacy violation). However, I don't understand why an organization would pick such a piss-poor provider.
- Principle 1: An agent shall not harm the mission through its actions or inactions.
- Principle 2: Except where it conflicts with Principle 1, an agent shall not harm the participants in the mission.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
2) Reading the discussion at the USA Today, the nation's high school newspaper, it's interesting to see how many people are focused on the fact that Roethlisberger may not have committed a crime, and so should not be treated as a criminal. He's not being treated as a criminal. Athletes in this culture are coddled, and Roethlisberger is a prime example of that. Goodell has been trying to clean up the NFL's image, and letting Roethlisberger play, even though he may not be a rapist, is inconsistent with that. I grew up in a town where NCAA football players were thugs, and I applaud efforts to send signals that, perhaps, thuggery is not good.
3) What Roethlisberger has been accused of is much worse than the drug offenses that other players are being accused of. The NFL has looked into this in much more detail, e.g., Goodell has talked to the Milledgeville DA, and so he has more information than we do. My guess is that Goodell believes Roethlisberger's behavior was reprehensible even if not prosecutable, and Goodell is the person the NFL ownership has chosen to make these decisions.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
I'll never again say bad things about Frankfurt Airport.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Blackboard is a commercial course management system. Essentially, it's bloatware loaded with features that I can't imagine many people use, but they persist because, apparently, someone uses each. One of the unfortunate features of Blackboard is that when entering data in a text area, it starts a Java application. Yes, an application, not an applet. For some inexplicable reason, Blackboard wants to run an application with full user privileges on my PC. This is even harder to understand, since disallowing execution seems to have no effect on Blackboard functionality. It's probably innocuous, but as a matter of policy, why subject all the data on my PC to Blackboard's whims and bugs? Plus, what, if anything, are the software folks at Blackboard thinking?
Firefox generates a warning, but doesn't remember negative decisions. It allows one to always trust a site, but not to always distrust a site. Strange.
Opera, though, now knows to never run Java at blackboard.umbc.edu. So far, this is causing no problems, and so Opera is now my browser of choice for Blackboard.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Making data members private allows us to control access to them. First, most (probably) classes don't have setters and getters. Second, setters and getters can be instrumented so that accesses and changes can be tracked, logged, etc. This instrumentation can be useful for debugging. If a private field is getting set to a bad value, one just has to put debug code in the setter rather than hunting down every line that modifies the field.
Another reason, probably at least as important, is for maintenance, upgrades, etc. If I implement a structure with a private array today but later decide it should be a set or a list, I don't have to worry that the change will ripple through client code, breaking the installed base.
Finally, a class interface should have a specification, or a contract. If private data is being modified outside the class, it's not possible for the class to enforce the contract, and debugging the class spreads out from the class itself to the entire system. This complicates development and maintenance.
[suggested by a colleague an hour after I posted the above]
Setters can validate data, making sure it's in the correct range, consistent with other values, etc., before setting the field.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
- OSF == Open Software Foundation == Oppose Sun Forever
- PC == Pee Cee
- An entire industry based on FUD.
- Science depends on peer review, and engineering is applied science.
- Gains of open source over closed source are the same as science over dogma.
- Experts can verify claims rather than accepting vendors' "trust us."
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Your CLEAR connection is very secure. Unlike WiFi, CLEAR technology uses a licensed 2.5 Ghz frequency and OFDM transmission protocol for a very secure connection.
The combination of licensed frequencies and OFDM technology provides a very secure connection.
This is a very strange statement, since neither the frequency nor how it's multiplexed have anything whatsoever to do with security. Their customer support says the link is encrypted, but the web site makes no mention of this.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
That door: I'm not the only one to remove it. Among other things, there are four USB ports behind the door. The two lower ones are inaccessible with the door in place, and the upper two are very difficult to get long USB sticks in and out of. So my choice was to remove the door or plug in a USB hub. Removing the door doesn't add to my electric bill.
Actually I'm not a fan of the doors in front of the CD/DVD drive and empty bay either, since they hide activity lights. HP does it too, and I think that's the way of the consumer electronics market: style is much more important than functionality.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
In the same segment, Pink suggested that we call the bankers' bluff that without large bonuses they'd suffer huge turnover.
DAMD, the International Conference on Data Analysis, Data Quality & Metadata Management, is following an annoying trend of other perhaps legitimate conferences of using mass mailings to publicize their events. DAMD is a bit different in that they don't provide an unsubscribe link, but, really, should one click unsubscribe links and confirm the spammers' success at reaching a victim? Usually not.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Please join my Professional Network on Naymz. Click here to view my invitation, which will expire in 30 days.
What is Naymz? Clearly a site run by people who can't spell. And they also have a weak grasp of English grammar. From their site:
Naymz is a powerful tool for any professional looking to advance their career to the next level. Our innovative professional networking platform allows people to find and discover new connections, opportunities, ideas, and information based on their backgrounds and reputations.
Since they don't even bother to make the description of their site grammatically-correct, I have to wonder how good their quality is throughout. Note for the puzzled: professional is singular; their is plural.
Admittedly I'm being a little hard on them, but is there anything the world needs less than a new social networking site?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Of course, any computer scientist could consider Chomsky a hero "simply" due to his contributions to linguistics. And perhaps I overrate the Catonsville Nine, having never heard of them before I moved to Catonsville. Or maybe I'm just too young.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
This is the first Comcast/Verizon-like lack of respect for users that I've seen from Google, or at least the first blatant case.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Under the focus tab in Xfce 4.6.1's Window Manager Tweaks is an undocumented checkbox labeled "Honor standard ICCCM focus hint." At Xfce.org, the most recent documentation is for version 4.2, and 4.2 did not have this "feature." The ICCCM is a large document, and perhaps by investing considerable time one could figure out what ICCCM focus hints are, but I don't have that time. What I have noticed is that if I select both that and "activate focus stealing prevention," applications steal focus willy-nilly. I think most users who do a lot of typing, like, say, programmers, people who create documents, people who send e-mail, etc., will not want Xfce to honor ICCCM focus hints.
The other thing I noticed recently, being new to Xfce, is that the desktop is very, very sluggish compared to Gnome. This alone was bad enough that I considered going back to Gnome. However, last week, being forced to stay at home because of the snow, I noticed another window manager option, "Delay before window receives focus." I set this to zero, or as close to zero as it would let me, and all of a sudden the performance was fairly snappy. So the Xfce default is to give the illusion of poor performance, but eliminating that delay is a huge improvement.
I like Xfce as a window manager, but the documentation is in such bad shape that I cannot recommend it to others.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
A little googling led me to a lot of people asking how to do it, some suggestions that didn't work, etc. This reminded me of trying to get OpenOffice to stop "helpfully" suggesting word completions and spreadsheet cell contents: many complaints about how stupid the default settings were, many complaints about how difficult it was to disable, but solutions were few and far between.
Finally, fed up with trying to figure out how to do it the right away, I removed /usr/share/applications/gnumeric.desktop (actually I moved it to a safe place just in case) and, voila, the gnumeric menu item was gone.
For some reason, Xubuntu, which is supposed to be stripped to mostly essentials, ships with Abiword, Gnumeric, and some other useless crap. I hadn't gotten around to uninstalling these, because the clutter they were adding to my Office menu was a minor inconvenience. But now they're gone, kind of.
Removing Gnumeric didn't remove it from the office menu, so I'll have to figure out how to remove it manually, which isn't an obviously simple task in xfce.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
SCO was a fine product at the time, and at the heart of a number of voice servers installed by Microlog in my time with that company, but the sales reps were incapable of delineating advantages or disadvantages of SCO vs. Linux.
Now I have trouble seeing someone who went with Linux rather than SCO in the '90s as viewing that as a mistake. SCO may not be dead, but they're no longer relevant.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Am I going to delete my LinkedIn account? Not in the immediate future.
Am I going to bother to look at LinkedIn based on the "LinkedIn Network Updates" they send out every week or so? No--it's no longer worth my time.
Am I going to keep my profile up-to-date? Probably not.
Will I periodically visit LinkedIn when I think of a former colleague and wonder where he or she is? No, it's not worth the time.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Clearly the trend is downward. It was about five times as popular as a search term in early 2004 as now. The US ranks eighth in search frequency, and English fifth among languages. I suspect there will come a day when I need to try out a new shell.
Google led here, which had a link to a post from a guy whose last name meshes well with my profile picture.
The problem could be that my .cshrc on the server was generating output that sftp didn't know to deal with. Another blogger somewhere gave a hint regarding what this was, and indeed the decimal 1114795883 in the error message was 0x42726f6b, or, in ASCII: "Brok'. Yes, something was broken, and 4 bytes was all that fit into the integer error message.
So I had to figure out why GL (the server, gl.umbc.edu) was generating extra characters. My default shell is tcsh, so the problem was most likely in the init file, .cshrc. I decided not to look at the system-wide .cshrc initially. I tossed some detritus from my .cshrc, and again failed to log in.
There was still a suspicious line, '/usr/bin/mesg n', at the beginning of the file. Why wasn't this inside the conditional that distinguished between interactive shells and others? I moved it into the conditional, and suddenly I was able to log in.
I had to chuckle. I added that line last semester when a student decided that if we were logged in on GL at the same time, he could chat with me. No. But I was clearly careless when I disabled write.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
At some point, Windows behavior was to invoke the task manager on a three finger salute rather than to do a system reset. Slackware and other early Linux distros did a reset, which effectively rebooted the system.
Why do I suddenly care? I'm running Ubuntu 9.10 on a 64-bit HP Pavilion desktop. Multiple times per week the system locks up, and ctrl-alt-del does nothing. The GNOME default is log out, but GNOME is locked up at this point. There's a configuration file, /etc/event.d/control-alt-delete, but so far as I can tell the contents of this file are irrelevant and have no effect on system behavior. So my recourse has been to hold the power button down long enough for an abrupt power down. I've been doing this, on average, multiple times per week, when really all I want to do is reboot.
I want my reset button.
Now it turns out that alt-sysreq-b does a reset. Now I just have to remember to try this the next time my system locks up.
Ubuntu: less impressive with every "upgrade."
Hewlett-Packard: less impressive on a year-by-year basis since the merger with Compaq. I guess I could start telling people I'm old enough to remember when HP sold quality products. I worked for a competitor in the telecom instruments segment, and HP was always considered a very worthy competitor. Their laser printers used to be good. Now it's all cheap junk.