Saturday, January 28, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year.

May you find a new beginning with the year of the dog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

As I was channel surfing, I happened upon Comedy Central while Distraction was on.

When I first saw the commercials for the show, I thought it looked like the dumbest thing that could ever be on television.

Boy was I wrong. I laughed until I cried. Literally cried. I’m laying there in bed watching people down hot sauce and getting smacked in the faces with pies before answering questions and bawling because I’m laughing so hard. Their reactions were priceless.

Favorite quotes? During the hot sauce round – “I'm gonna pee blood after this” and “Unlike your president, the hot sauce has an exit strategy.”

The best part though? The last round was held in his and hers bathroom stalls. The way the contestants buzzed in was to pee a bit. The one woman was so nervous that she just could *not* go.

Yes, I know it still sounds stupid, but dear gods it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on television in quite a while. It was so wrong that it was hilarious and so hilarious that it was just plain wrong.

Current mood: amused
Current music: Puffy Ami Yumi – K2G

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Should the government tax money and items in games such as World of Warcraft just because people are selling some of them online?

Um, no.

Okay, that wasn’t really what I wanted to say. That would be more like FUCK NO.

We’re not talking just when they sell the items (which I can kind of understand. Real money is being made there) but just for their characters *having* the items.

Common freaking sense, people. It’s data. On a server. Controlled by a company and plainly stated that it isn’t “owned” by the player.

The idiocy of this boggles my mind. Why, oh why, are you even pondering this question?

Current mood: my head hurts
Current music: Depeche Mode – Barrel of a Gun

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The New York Magazine has an editorial that theorizes nobody is really afraid of Microsoft anymore and that maybe Gates’ philanthropy is a repeat of Rockefeller’s trying to save his name in the history books as a good person.

The Slashdot crowd caught wind of this and started ripping the man apart. Basically, they stated that he was still a horrible man no matter what he did and always would be. They compared his efforts as pale in comparison to what Carnegie and Rockefeller had done in the philanthropy area.

I’m not defending Gates and saying that he hasn’t done anything unethical, wrong, etc. There is, however, a *big* difference between him and the robber barons – when they were making their fortunes, they were doing it on the backs and the lives of the lower classes. Yes, Gates takes money. The others not only took that but also the lives of the people who worked for them.

How are they remembered now? Largely as builders of society. Their misdeeds are a footnote in history.

The Slashdot crowd called the money Gates gave to charity “stolen.” I have news for them – the money donated by the robber barons that they so revere was blood money.

Do I excuse Gates for his actions in the past? Hell no. Do I think that his charitable donations automatically counter those actions and make him a good man? No.

What I am saying is that I am glad that he *is* doing something positive with his money (ill-gotten or not) and that, since he doesn’t directly run Microsoft anymore, honestly seems like a better person. It doesn’t excuse past actions, but it is sort of an atonement.

They even slammed him for not giving the money anonymously. That’s just silly. By giving it publicly, he’s helping raise awareness of issues that he considers important. Does it get him good PR? Yes. Is that more important that the fact that it raises awareness of very real, very important problems?

Who knows, maybe as he is getting older, he really is starting to realize that the money and power aren’t everything. Not being inside his head, we’ll never know for sure, but we can hope that is at least a small part of it.

Personally, I think that the important part of this is that some positive things are now coming out of his actions. It doesn’t excuse his past actions, but positive change (even for the wrong reasons) is positive change.

I, for one, think that one of the best things which can be done with celebrity is to raise awareness of important issues and helping affect positive change.

Maybe he’s finally realizing this. Maybe not. Maybe all of his donations are for selfish reasons. Either way, positive change is being made.

Current mood: thoughtful
Current music: U2 - Even Better than the Real Thing

Friday, January 06, 2006

CERT, vulnerabilities, and Slashdot

Slashdot posted an article pointing to one from NewsForge about how the press and trade press misrepresent the CERT reports of the numbers of vulnerabilities in each operating system by lumping every linux distro in along with operating systems like Solaris, OS X, etc.

I agree that this is bad and should not be done. Do I think the press-at-large is tech savvy enough to get it right? No. It’s possible (even likely) that they’re doing it to be more sensational (people love things that are “shocking”)

The thing that amused me were some of the equally incompetent comments from the Slashdot crowd as they were complaining about the injustice to linux.

(The following are rough quotes. I’m not digging back through the comments, though I assure you that the important parts are accurate. The only errors will be minor)

“Windows only really had 2 versions – everything from windows 1 through WinME and NT/2000/XP.“
Nope. If you want to look at it that way, they 3 – windows up until 3.x (and Bob – which was an interface for 3.1) was just a shell that used DOS as a backend. In fact, you had to launch it from dos (or add a line in autoexec.bat to do it at bootup). It wasn’t really even an operating system. Windows didn’t have a kernel, and therefore become an operating system, until Win95.

Yes, Microsoft made a product called Bob. Yes, you can giggle. We all did. It also sort of spawned what later became Clippy. If you want to know who to blame for that, talk to Melinda Gates. She was the project manager.

If you want to complain that someone is misrepresenting your tool of choice, don’t turn around and make the same mistakes yourself.

“The same vulnerabilities that affected programs in linux also affected those which were also implemented in windows (perl, apache, etc). Why weren’t they reported there too?”
This is true, but the reports of security flaws from these programs is generally only reported by *that product* and may then be passed onto the mailing lists, etc for various distros by “normal” people or as a heads up to the community at large.

The reason that windows doesn’t have these reported is that they aren’t *their* products so they (correctly) leave it up to the vendor to fix (they also don’t publish every vulnerability that they find, unfortunately). The reason it hits the mailing lists for linux distros is because people just sort of give each other a heads up about the problem or don’t know where to send it so they send it to their distro mailing list or bug list. (so it ends up on distro lists too. Bad CERT, bad bad CERT. Do more research before releasing the stats)

You could see this as sort of the difference between company and community (they each have different motives for what they do), but it’s kind of important to bring up. Both have their advantages and disadvantages (though the community way of letting you know something is wrong is really nice).

It’s one of the nice things/bad things about community. You’re pretty sure to see the issue *somewhere* but if you have multiple places that you check every day, you have a lot of repeat news. (Of course, you get the same problem if you watch CNN, NBC, and your local news program or read multiple papers. However, we don’t count a murder reported in 5 news papers as 5 murders while we do with bugs. Go figure…)

People do the same thing with Microsoft products too. It’s just that the MS people go “That’s not our problem. Talk to the people who make it.”

Oh, and the mac people keep pulling out the “OS X is BSD based” thing.
Only partially right. OS X has a Mach kernel but does BSD application layer stuff. They also have an api for OS9. This is something that probably doesn’t mean a lot to very many people, but it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

To wrap up, I just have to say a couple of things.
1) if you’re going to try and slam something, please try to know what you’re talking about
2) both sides of the fence have a lot they can learn from each other. Be practical, people. It’s not a religion (and even if it were, you should still be practical and tolerant).

Current mood: mildly amused
Current music: Hellsing soundtrack – World Without Logos

Monday, January 02, 2006

Most of us have probably heard of Functional Programming, Procedural Programming, and Object-Oriented Programming.

Here’s a new one on me. I was trolling freshmeat looking for updates that should be mentioned in the magazine and I saw the following:

Homespring is an esoteric programming language exploring the new "Metaphor Oriented Programming" paradigm. A homespring program represents a mountainside river system in which the behavior of the program is controlled by the breeding patterns of salmon.

First off, “Metaphor Oriented Programming?”
Secondly, Controlled by the breeding patterns of SALMON???

You’ve got to be kidding me. This has to be one of the weirder programming languages I’ve heard of…

Please tell me that they’re either kidding or are inmates in some software developer’s asylum (probably the one that I escaped from…)

No, this is not going to be in the Open Source Roundup for the magazine.


Current mood: my head hurts
Current music: Eve6 - Bang

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Items from the 100 things we didn’t know last year ( which caught my attention.

6. WD-40 dissolves cocaine - it has been used by a pub landlord to prevent drug-taking in his pub's toilets.
I want to know what spurred someone to find this out. “Quick! The bobbies are coming! Pass me the lube!” (Yes, I realize that can be taken in a completely different manner lol)

11. One in 10 Europeans is allegedly conceived in an Ikea bed.
New slogan for Ikea? “We help Europe screw itself”

20. The Queen has never been on a computer, she told Bill Gates as she awarded him an honorary knighthood.
If she had, would be have been hanged instead of knighted?

28. The British buy the most compact discs in the world - an average of 3.2 per year, compared to 2.8 in the US and 2.1 in France.
That means that I made up 50+ people statistically a couple of years ago. I still buy more than 3 cds per year, though most of them are used. Currently I have something on the order of 350 cds

29. When faced with danger, the octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the other two legs, scientists discovered.
But are they then carried to Mercia by swallows?
Alternate comment for the people from fencing – underwater cavalry!

36. The average employee spends 14 working days a year on personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing, outside official breaks, according to employment analysts Captor.
And yet, the average employer expects most salaried employees to spend many more days worth of their weekends, nights, etc than that at work

37. Cyclist Lance Armstrong's heart is almost a third larger than the average man's.
That really does help explain how he performs as well as he does in that sport

39. Australians host barbecues at polling stations on general election days.
Americans wish they could barbecue the candidates

52. You're 10 times more likely to be bitten by a human than a rat.
I don’t know if I should comment on this one…

53. It takes 75kg of raw materials to make a mobile phone.
All I can say is “wow”

64. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's home number is listed by directory inquiries.
I see this being changed as the prank calls start…

67. Giant squid eat each other - especially during sex.
So remember, if you ever become a giant squid, don’t ask for oral

69. First-born children are less creative but more stable, while last-born are more promiscuous, says US research.
Karyl, comment?

71. Jimi Hendrix pretended to be gay to be discharged from the US Army.
Maybe the lyric really was “excuse me while I kiss this guy” then *snicker*

93. Koalas have fingerprints exactly like humans (although obviously smaller).
“Okay, I admit it. It *wasn’t* the one-armed man. It was that little fuzzy fu**er over in that tree”

98. Nettles growing on land where bodies are buried will reach a foot higher than those growing elsewhere.
Now I know what not to plant when I have to start hiding bodies… =]

Current mood: undecided
Current music: Smithereens - Behind the Wall of Sleep

Happy New Year.