Tag Archives: news

Call for papers, ApacheCon 2006 US

Today we announced the ApacheCon US 2006 Call For Papers (CFP). This is the earliest we’ve ever gotten a CFP out – a fact that we’re *very* pleased about, as it means we have more time to plan. The CFP closes as ApacheCon EU opens, meaning that we can review the submissions at AC EU, and possibly announce the schedule for AC US immediately after AC EU. This would please me enormously. Leaving stuff to the last minute bugs me a lot, and the last several conferences have been characterized by lots of last-minute-ness. Hopefully, this signals a new era.

Wah, wah, I didn’t think of it first

This morning, I was listening to Dan O’Brien’s talk at OSCon about evil.. Highly recommended listening, and *very* funny. One of the things he talked about was the quote by Mohandas Ghandi (or was it Eric Raymond?)

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

So, in that light, we have Bill Gates laughing at MIT’s $100 laptop project

“If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you’re not sitting there cranking the thing while you’re trying to type,” Gates said.

This is great news on many fronts. It demonstrates that Mr. Gates is frightened by the prospect, and, of course, since clever platitudes are always true, it proves that MIT will eventually “win” in some sense, with universally available cheap computer hardware. Yay, MIT.

Gee, I feel so safe

You’ve *got* to be kidding

It seems that the no-fly list is even more useless than I had any reason to think.

It turns out the name Edward Allen popped up on the TSA’s ‘no-fly’ list. Unbeknownst to his parents, the little four-year-old was a wanted man.

So, this seems to imply that the no-fly list contains “Edward Allen.” Just that name. No further identifying notes. This is worse than useless. Given that any terrorist with even a fragment of a brain will travel under an assumed identity, this gives us a system that not only cost billions of dollars, but penalizes only non-criminals, and in no way inconveniences the bad guys, other than undermining the credibility of the entire anti-terrorist effort.

Any database designer would be embarrassed by a schema where the only identifying data was someone’s first and last name. You’d think that the first time this happened, they’d think, hmm, maybe this system isn’t well-designed. But given that this happens again and again and again, they seem impervious to that sort of simple logic. Ya think that maybe a hint that the Edward Allen in question isn’t 4 years old would be in order?

The mind boggles. How can our government *be* so stupid?

Do unto others before they can do unto you

I’m finding the rhetoric about Iran very alarming. Obviously, I haven’t been in the secret security briefings, but calling Iran our most dangerous enemy seems somewhat unprovoked. And the fact that Bush is getting us all prepared for an “I told you so” when we invade and start breaking things is exceedingly unpleasant to me. Killing thousands of foreigners so that our kids can sleep better at night is not security. It’s unprovoked playground bullying.

I’ve also been very uncomfortable with the Bush administration’s position on nuclear energy. In his State Of The Union, he said that we need to actively pursue alternate energy sources, and reduce our reliance on oil. Most sensible thing he’s said in recent memory. And yet, since he made that remark, we’ve heard nothing about how nuclear energy is evil – well, at least, if non-Americans are using it.

Yeah, these two thoughts are related. It seems to me that our evidence of Iran’s evilness is that they are exploring alternate energy sources. Any sensible nation would be exploring alternate energy sources, if the USA wasn’t threatening them with anihilation for doing so.

Our position on nuclear energy has long baffled me. First of all, we assume that only Americans are smart enough to come up with the necessary knowledge to generate nuclear energy, even though every physics text book since 1950 contains the necessary information. And, just in case you’re keeping score, “Enrico Fermi” is an Italian name. Next, we assume that it’s OK for us to generate nuclear energy, and a few of our close buddies, but if anyone else tries, obviously they have only global destruction in mind.

Just maybe, if we didn’t spend all of our time alienating everyone, we could actually cooperate on this nuclear issue, and, together, the great minds of the world (Yes, George, there are great minds outside of Texas.) could actually solve the dilemmas surrounding nuclear energy, and we could have a sustainable energy source for the next few generations.

I mean, sure, suspicion and paranoia have their place, but great advances in science, and diplomacy, tend to happen when people cooperate, not when they yell insults at one another from across the playground. Saying that diplomacy must be pursued before we nuke ’em, while at the same time calling them dangerous thugs, doesn’t seem like a viable negotiaion strategy. Does he think that only Americans watch CNN?

Iran is a sovreign nation. Just like us. We asked them, rather rudely I might add, not to pursue nuclear energy. They said, well, we’d really rather go ahead with this, and it’s our right to do so, thanks. This seems to be our evidence that they are the “biggest challenge for America.” As with the whole WMD fiasco, I’d kinda like to see a shade more evidence than that.

The people have spoken

The people of Haiti have spoken. <a href=”http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1625791″>Sort of</a>. Ruth says that the people seem to be very happy. At least, the people in her part of town. Still seems kinda fishy to me, but if it is indeed the will of the people, perhaps it’s the right thing.

Haiti election appears to be going well, in spite of the press

Although the press seems anxious to highlight the angry crowds in Cite Soleil who complained when the polls opened 2 hours late, it certainly seems that that’s the only problem so far. One article claims that polls get a “violent start”, but doesn’t actually support this claim in the article itself. Folks were angry that the polls opened late, and some folks got hurt in the shoving.

Two people have died, but as far as I can tell from all the articles that mention this fact, these deaths are completely unrelated to any kind of election violence. So it almost seems like the press wants to make it look far worse than it actually is.

All of this is, I think, a really encouraging sign.

Also encouraging is the report that one candidate, Rene Preval, has a clear lead. That would seem to indicate less problem after the election, in the period of uncertainty when the vote is being counted. And the way that the voting works, someone has to have more than 50% of the vote, or there has to be a runoff election. It would be nice if that’s not necessary.

Illegal to annoy

You’ve *got* to be kidding. This just got signed into law, apparently. If you post an annoying message on teh intarweb, you must not do it anonymously.

Create an e-annoyance, go to jail

Which begs the question – if you post an annoying message anonymously, who are they going to prosecute?

Also, who gets to define what “annoying” means?

$1.98 for gas

Evidently, the last few months has succeeded in persuading us that $1.98 is a *great* price for gas. *sigh*

(Yeah, I know, you folks in Europe pay $8 and $9. I know. You mentioned that. That doesn’t make me think $2 is a good price. Thanks for trying, though.)

Sony’s CDs

Since I don’t own a Windows computer, and I don’t buy many CDs, I’ve been a little confused by the recent coverage of Sony’s silly “copy protection” software.

This started a few days ago when I first listened to an NPR technology podcast in which both the interviewer and the interviewee were grossly ignorant of what they were talking about. (The particular mp3 file is here and the NPR technology podcasts are here.)

The reporter stated that the CD might contain a “rootkit”, so named because, quoth she, “it’s at the root of the computer.” Brilliant. (For a better, and actually accurate, description of what a rootkit is, see Wikipedia.) It gets installed, she went on, after “popping a CD into your hard drive.” Again, brilliant. And that “rootkit codes create secret spaces in your computer, where all kinds of things might happen.” Clear explanation, hmm? Sheesh.

Next, she spoke to some talking head at Sony, who stated, in a brilliant moment of “let them eat cake,” “Most people don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?” He went on to say that the software isn’t spyware, because “no information ever gets communicated back to the user.” Yes, that’s a direct quote. What is communicated to me by these quotes is that Sony cares *only* about their bottom line, and intends to exploit the customer in any way possible in order to further that goal. No, I’m not anti-capitalist. Yes, I believe that companies legitimately exist to make money. But, at the same time, I refuse to do business with companies who are totally self-interested, and don’t care a whit for the (to quote Prince Charles) “bloody people.”

I’m also perplexed by the claim that the software hides itself. To quote the San Francisco Chronicle, the software “hides deep in the Windows operating system”, and “is difficult to remove without damaging the computer.” What does that mean, exactly?

Software consists of files, and, in the case of Windows, entries in the Registry. To remove the software, you identify and remove the files and the Registry entries, right? The only think I can imagine interfereing with that is if the software is modifying dll files from other applications, or if it is actually inserting code into, say, the kernel. Files can’t be hidden, and registry entries can’t be hidden, because they’re just files on a filesystem.

Now, granted, I don’t use Windows, so I may be ignorant here, but if a file *can* be hidden, then Microsoft is at least as much to blame here as Sony. Having files be genuinely “hidden” in some sense is just plain dopey and bad design. And, presumably, in order to be even there at all in any real sense, something (the software that wants to use them) must be able to find them and use them, so they’re not really hidden.

So once again, I’m perplexed as to how software can “hide itself” in any real sense.

Maybe that’s because I use a real operating system.