Archive for March, 2003


More on the michegas caused by the Michigan meshuginahs

Monday, March 31st, 2003

John Ferriby points me to a discussion on the North American Network Operators (NANOG) list that underlines two things:

1) This is far-reaching stuff

2) Law enforcement agencies have certainly in the past exhibited a tendency to disregard reason when enforcing ill-considered legislation. We should expect no less this time.


The law is surely a ass

Sunday, March 30th, 2003

Via Slashdot and Freedom to Tinker, I learn about a new Michigan law> that comes into effect tomorrow.

This law defines as a felony the following (among other things):

Sec. 540c.

(1) A person shall not assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise an unlawful telecommunications access device or assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise a telecommunications device intending to use those devices or to allow the devices to be used to do any of the following or knowing or having reason to know that the devices are intended to be used to do any of the following:

(a) Obtain or attempt to obtain a telecommunications service with the intent to avoid or aid or abet or cause another person to avoid any lawful charge for the telecommunications service in violation of section 219a.

(b) Conceal the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service.

For example, as of tomorrow, the following are illegal in Michigan, and anyone who does any of these things is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. Also, the offending hardware is to be forfeited.

  • simple possession of any device that does NAT routing
  • advertising routers for sale
  • using your company’s VPN
  • possessing a computer capable of Internet Connection Sharing
  • running a web proxy server
  • redirecting your email to another address
  • running a firewall
  • blocking your telephone number from being displayed on caller ID
  • offering a long distance service that uses an access number that obscures the caller’s origin

Need I go on? Musta been a sleepy day in the Michigan lgistlature when this turkey passed.

Every single router in Michigan is now subject to forfeiture. Every single computer installed with Windows98 or later is an illegal internet connection sharing machine.


Very happy having left Windows (mostly) behind

Friday, March 28th, 2003

As I mentioned a month ago or so, I’ve retired my old 366Mhz Celeron Windows 2000 workstation to the background to run Radio, Groove and my accounting package, and have turned my primary focus to Linux.

My “new” main workstation is a used IBM 300PL p2-400 with 320MRam, 6GigHD. No great shakes in the windows world, but runs quite nicely with Mandrake 9.0 and KDE3.

I’m quite impressed with the features and programs I’ve been using. Here are some of the highlights.

  • Internet:
    • Mozilla 1.3 – I can’t say that I’ve missed IE at all. Tabbed interface is great.
    • Konqueror – great web and file browser. easily browses SMB shares and SSH connections with smb:// and sftp:// protocols. Very well integrated with embedded viewers and editors.
    • knewsticker – rss news ticker and aggregator – drag and drop orange-xml-image rss feeds, specify history length per feed. fantastic
    • KMail – good enough, well integrated.
  • Multimedia:
    • XMMS – just like WinAmp
    • the Gimp – fantastic image editing
    • Kuickshow – great default viewer with scroll-mouse slideshows, balance adjustment, rotation, zoom, flip, print
  • Sharing, communications
    • VNC – including console desktop sharing
    • SSH, including port forwarding and X forwarding
    • Samba – connect to and from Windows machines
    • CUPS – recognized my USB Epson printer right away. I use Adobe’s Postscript print drivers from my Win machine connecting to the Linux box via Samba
    • Yahoo IM native Linux client
    • Licq ICQ client
    • Synergy – I have three machines in a semicircle and one keyboard and mouse. Mouse out of the right of my Linux box screen and mouse and keyboard control moves to my laptop (whether booted into Linux or Win2000), mouse out of there to the right and I’m at my old Win2000 machine. Right again and back to the Linux box. Left takes be back the other way. Cut and paste between machines on different platforms. WAAAAY cool.
    • when I loaded Mandrake on my laptop where there’s already an NTFS and a FAT partition, when I went to the /mnt dir, I found them both already mounted for me!!
  • utilities, editors
    • Joe – great text-mode editor
    • Midnight Commander – indispensable text-mode file manager, fully mouseable
    • Links – fantastic text-mode browser with full mouseability
    • kate – KDE Advanced Text Editor – color syntax hiliting, block selection, open via sftp. Not a replacement for UltraEdit, but quite useful
    • perl TK debugger – great for full feature remote debugging via X forwarding.
  • Mandrake, X
    • Mandrake Control Panel
    • Mandrake Package Manager
    • Multiple X Desktops
    • Mandrake Installation – found all my hardware no problem. On my laptop, found my network card and then found my wireless card without adding any special drivers!
    • Packages – CDs came with a million of ’em
  • programming
    • Apache
    • PHP
    • Perl
    • MySQL
    • PostgreSQL

I highly recommend that you try Mandrake 9.1, just released. You’ve got nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain.


Where have the real leaders gone?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

My uncle in Australia asks me on the eve of this impending war with Iraq what my observations are. Here’s my reply:

While on the whole my philosophy is not to fret unduly about things that are beyond my control, here are my thoughts:

The US decided long ago that this war was going to happen. The last 6 months has all been posturing to spin public and foreign opinion. At no time was there any chance whatsoever that circumstances could avert their course. Unfortunately, they have failed miserably to convince us to fall in line behind them:

I don’t even necessarily disagree with their ends, but their means has been to feed us bullshit rather than to give us the straight goods:

Iraq notwithstanding, America’s fabric has been imploding what with the Patriot Act and other real and proposed erosions of constitutional freedoms. If this is the direction of the American state, the terrorists have truly won.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that Dubya to me is nothing but a talking head attached to a larger machine that determines direction and fabricates the necessary spin to pave the public relations path of least resistance. I watch him speaking and I can’t for the life of me feel that he is speaking from anything but a teleprompter. If I am to hearken to heads of state who could actually write their own speeches by virtue of their deeply held convictions, their natural leadership and a personal level of eloquence that allows them to express truly heartfelt intellectual convictions as inspirational prose, I have to go as far back in Canadian politics as Pierre Trudeau, and in American politics I don’t even know when. Look at newsreels of Pierre Trudeau addressing the nation during the invocation of the War Measures Act – you feel that he actually sat and wrote the speech himself. Dubya seems as though he’s a pitchman for the propaganda of the day, like never an original (much less cogent) thought ever sprung from his conscience.


Searching the net’s memory

Sunday, March 16th, 2003

I’ve been trying to find time to explain to my friend Noel Presley (linkless but not for long I hope) how exactly it is that I can keep up with things on the Net without getting overwhelmed. The secret, of course, is news aggregation. I finally showed him my Radio aggregator today and told him how it all works. Since Noel is a heavy Outlook user, I think I’ll point him to an Outlook-based aggregator – if anyone has suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them.

In talking with Noel about aggregation, we also got onto searching. While he was no stranger to Google et al, I showed him Scott’s new Feedster service and the Wayback Machine.

We agreed that Feedster, Google and Wayback represent the short, medium, and long-term memory of the net. It’s really cool how each of these engines orthogonally services its particular slice of net recollection.


Light bulb turning on

Friday, March 14th, 2003

Even Scott himself had to have this lightbulb turn on as it just did for me when reading this description of his epiphany.

I had thought that Feedster was cool but wasn’t quite sure of its killer usefulness. You see, since it’s based on current RSS feeds, its relevance follows a fairly narrow sliding window stretching only a few days at most into the past. After all, Google and the Wayback machine have much longer memories.

The cool thing is, though, many times I have seen something within the past day or so but can’t tell you where. I know it has been on one of the 100 or so blogs I regularly visit, or one or two clicks away from them. Drives me up the wall all the time.

Also, one of the features I love/hate best with Radio is that once I have read something, I mark it and delete it and it doesn’t remain to clutter up my reading. I love that. I also hate that, because oftentimes I hit the delete button and two minutes later wonder who had said that interesting tidbit. It’s too early to go looking on google for it – won’t be indexed yet. Even so, I’d rather search only my sphere of relevance rather than pull in the entire net’s search result.


Cunning Heuristics

Friday, March 14th, 2003

Ben Nolan points me to his Feeder thingmy. Much like Feedster except, I’m told, with cunning heuristics. <Gomez>Oooh, Tish, I love it when you speak freedom.</Gomez>


*urp* – oops – pardon my freedom

Friday, March 14th, 2003

I understand from my wife that if I’m a good boy, I could be in for some freedom kissing. Wow, I’d better stock up on freedom letters just in case. Maybe I should surprise her with a freedom tickler!