Blog Archive: February 2011

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 22:19:11 UTC

Network issues: improvement?

Posted By Greg Lehey

The network dropouts continued today. From Saturday morning until midday today there were a total of 34 dropouts, few of them longer than a minute. And watching the signal strength showed big fluctuations in signal strength and much dropping back to GPRS. What can be causing that? My antenna hasn't changed, and there's no obvious change in the signal strength most of the time. Have they brought another tower on line? Is there trouble with the tower in Linton? Who knows? But whoever it is, they're not telling. After a bit of discussion, decided to try pointing the antenna at the Meredith tower again.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 22:19:11 UTC

Network issues: improvement?

Posted By Greg Lehey

The network dropouts continued today. From Saturday morning until midday today there were a total of 34 dropouts, few of them longer than a minute. And watching the signal strength showed big fluctuations in signal strength and much dropping back to GPRS. What can be causing that? My antenna hasn't changed, and there's no obvious change in the signal strength most of the time. Have they brought another tower on line? Is there trouble with the tower in Linton? Who knows? But whoever it is, they're not telling. After a bit of discussion, decided to try pointing the antenna at the Meredith tower again.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 11:58:38 UTC

Anonymous vs HBGary

Posted By Bruce Schneier

One of the effects of writing a book is that I don't have the time to devote to other writing. So while I've been wanting to write about Anonymous vs HBGary, I don't think I will have time. Here's an excellent series of posts on the topic from ArsTechnica. In cyberspace, the balance of power is on the side of...

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 07:28:14 UTC

From the Archives - Gapingvoid's Nobody Cares

Posted By Werner Vogels

While cleaning out the digital attic I ran into this drawing that Hugh MacLeod (aka "gapingvoid") made for me in reponse to a storm-in-a-teacup about blogging Amazon. As usual Hugh came straight to the heart of the matter :-) BTW Hugh's new book "Evil Plans, having Fun on the Road to World Domination" was released last week. You can order it here

Sun, 27 Feb 2011 21:57:56 UTC

Network: signal quality issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

The network problems continue unabated. The interesting thing is that they don't disrupt the PPP session: the session I started yesterday morning did not drop out at all until I rebooted (FreeBSD 8.2-RELEASE is out), though in the intervening time I had no less than 20 very short outages, most less than a minute. Most of them also didn't affect TCP connections. But now there's a different issue in play: I think it's signal strength. Possibly that's because of the miserable weather we've been having, but I've seen the signal drop to RSSI 0 (which still, in fact, means a bare minimum signal) and then to the 153 (193 dBm) that I had noticed yesterday.

Sun, 27 Feb 2011 21:57:56 UTC

Network: signal quality issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

The network problems continue unabated. The interesting thing is that they don't disrupt the PPP session: the session I started yesterday morning did not drop out at all until I rebooted (FreeBSD 8.2-RELEASE is out), though in the intervening time I had no less than 20 very short outages, most less than a minute. Most of them also didn't affect TCP connections. But now there's a different issue in play: I think it's signal strength. Possibly that's because of the miserable weather we've been having, but I've seen the signal drop to RSSI 0 (which still, in fact, means a bare minimum signal) and then to the 153 (193 dBm) that I had noticed yesterday.

Sun, 27 Feb 2011 18:49:40 UTC

elytS edoC

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Sure, you can write English right to left. You can also write software code to look like a disc or even a train (see www.ioccc.org/1988/westley.c and 1986/marshall.c ). However, you can't then complain when you have to fight with your magazine's editor or production staff about accepting your column's title for publication, or if your colleagues refuse to touch your code with a 10-foot pole. Writing code in a readable and consistent style is difficult, uninteresting, tedious, underappreciated, and, extremely important.

Sun, 27 Feb 2011 18:25:43 UTC

Exploring the Limits of Datacenter Temprature

Posted By James Hamilton

Datacenter temperature has been ramping up rapidly over the last 5 years. In fact, leading operators have been pushing temperatures up so quickly that the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning recommendations have become a become trailing indicator of what is being done rather than current guidance. ASHRAE responded in January of 2009 by raising the recommended limit from 77F to 80.6F (HVAC Group Says Datacenters Can be Warmer). This was a good move but many of us felt it was late and not nearly a big enough increment.  Earlier this month, ASHRAE announced they are again planning to take action and raise the recommended limit further but haven't yet announced by how much (ASHRAE: Data Centers Can be Even Warmer).    Many datacenters are operating reliably well in excess even the newest ASHRAE recommended temp of 81F.

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:54:42 UTC

Ghosts: fled

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally made my way into Ballarat, arriving only about 20 minutes late, but they're doing some building work at the university, and it was another 10 minutes before I finally found my way into the correct building. And the door was locked: What happened there? No way to tell. I had already established that I don't have Josh's mobile phone number, so there was nothing I could do.

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:38:39 UTC

And now for something completely different: network failure

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the first day of the linux.conf.au “Ghosts” session, where the organizers of the previous conference, along with some other people from Linux Australia, do a couple of days of information transfer. Up early to go there, but into the office this morning and found myself off the network. And once again the RSSI was showing a very high value, this time ridiculously high: 193 dBm, or a reading of 153. Investigation showed that the dropout had started in the evening, and I had been off the net for over 10 hours: Start time End time  Duration   Badness        from                    to                      (seconds) 1298631470 1298668542  37072  0.065 # 25 February 2011 21:57:50 26 February 2011 08:15:42 ...

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:38:39 UTC

And now for something completely different: network failure

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the first day of the linux.conf.au “Ghosts” session, where the organizers of the previous conference, along with some other people from Linux Australia, do a couple of days of information transfer. Up early to go there, but into the office this morning and found myself off the network. And once again the RSSI was showing a very high value, this time ridiculously high: 193 dBm, or a reading of 153. Investigation showed that the dropout had started in the evening, and I had been off the net for over 10 hours: Start time End time  Duration   Badness        from                    to                      (seconds) 1298631470 1298668542  37072  0.065 # 25 February 2011 21:57:50 26 February 2011 08:15:42 ...

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Sagrada Família

Posted By Tim Bray

I mean the big Gaudí church in Barcelona, whose official name I can't not include: Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. Words are entirely inadequate to describe it, as are pictures. That isn't stopping me, but what's on offer here is a poor substitute for standing inside it with eyes wide. It was a brutal day; raining and blowing hard and not much above 10°C; a weekday too, and thus no line-ups to get in, which I gather is unusual. I remember as a kid staring for a long time at a picture (perhaps in Life magazine?) of one of its facades, which at that time was about all that was standing.

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Making Money in Mobile

Posted By Tim Bray

Depending how you measure it, the mobile platform may already be the widest path from the software developer to the ordinary person. It's for sure the fastest-growing. So presumably there's some serious software money to be made here. But how, exactly? Back in the heady early days of the App Store's first rush of cash, the vision seemed clear: You crank out a wicked-cool mobile app, you fly PR people around in first-class, you rake in the dough. What could be simpler? I never believed it in the slightest. Let's go back to basics. Here are the ways I can think of to make money that involve mobile applications: App sales.

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 02:20:33 UTC

Network dropouts without end

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office today, and once again there had been network dropouts, another 8 since 23:18. When am I going to get a reliable network service? And again, during the day everything was OK. Did some comparison with the quality of the TV recordings I made in the same time, but although there was some corruption round 1:04, at a time when I had no network coverage, there's nothing obvious to suggest that the problems are related. I need to correlate with other people.

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 02:20:33 UTC

Network dropouts without end

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office today, and once again there had been network dropouts, another 8 since 23:18. When am I going to get a reliable network service? And again, during the day everything was OK. Did some comparison with the quality of the TV recordings I made in the same time, but although there was some corruption round 1:04, at a time when I had no network coverage, there's nothing obvious to suggest that the problems are related. I need to correlate with other people.

Sat, 26 Feb 2011 01:48:33 UTC

Still more support scams

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yet another call from http://www.secureallpc.com/, this time calling herself Judy, and stressing the fact that the company is located in North Sydney. I asked her why all the people at her company spoke with Indian accents, which she ignored twice. The third time she just hung up. Discussing the matter on IRC, Daniel O'Connor gave me the link to complaints about abuse of the “do not call” register, so filled that out and got a rather surprising confirmation of my complaint, consisting really only of a complaint number. But anybody can access it! I don't suppose there's much cause for concern, but somehow it seems poor practice.

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 22:00:13 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Tattoo

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Impressive, even if it isn't real....

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 21:17:12 UTC

Interview with Me

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I was interviewed on chomp.fm....

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 14:34:25 UTC

Epoch (With a Little Help)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm taking a hiatus from podcasting while I recuperate from hip surgery; instead, I'll be posting a couple stories a week from the podcast edition of my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help. I hope you enjoy 'em -- I love how these readings came out. You can buy the whole audio on … [Read more]

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 12:14:14 UTC

HBGary and the Future of the IT Security Industry

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is a really good piece by Paul Roberts on Anonymous vs. HBGary: not the tactics or the politics, but what HBGary demonstrates about the IT security industry. But I think the real lesson of the hack - and of the revelations that followed it - is that the IT security industry, having finally gotten the attention of law makers,...

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 08:00:01 UTC

Simplifying IT - Create Your Application with AWS CloudFormation

Posted By Werner Vogels

With the launch of AWS CloudFormation today another important step has been taken in making it easier for customers to deploy applications to the cloud. Often an application requires several infrastructure resources to be created and AWS CloudFormation helps customers create and manage these collections of AWS resources in a simple and predictable way. Using declarative Templates customers can create Stacks of resources ensuring that all resources have been created, in the right sequence and with the correct confirmation. Earlier this year I met with an ISV partner who transformed his on-premise ERP software into a software-as-a-service offering. They had taken the approach that they would not only be offering their software as a scalable multi-tenant product but also as a single tenant environment for customers that want to have their own isolated environment.

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 01:25:01 UTC

Dick Smith Electronics: Talk to the Techxperts

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, also looked for the antenna for Chris at Dick Smith's. I don't know why I go there: no service, and it proved that the antenna lead was wrong anyway. Also looked for a second modem in case the first fails. There are a number of relatively cheap prepaid modems starting at $49, but no indication what they are. Also wanted to look at their GPS navigators on display (“try me out!”), but they weren't working. What a waste of time.

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 00:56:48 UTC

Let us support your Windows computer

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another unsolicited call today. It sounded like the same kind of attempted breakin as I had a month ago, and again I started stringing them along. This one may have been different, though I'm wondering about the other people too now. Maybe they're just trying to sell support for Microsoft boxen. They're ill-equipped to do that, though. I told them several times that I was running FreeBSD, but they didn't seem to listen. And again they wanted me to look for the Start button at bottom left, and refused to believe them when I told them that bottom left on my screen looks like this: And on they went, trying to say how much they could help me if I just signed up.

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 22:58:04 UTC

Network connections: worse than ever

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to discover that I had had another network interruption. One? Dozens! Start time End time Duration Badness 1298459749 1298464398   4649  0.028 # 23 February 2011 22:15:49 23 February 2011 23:33:18 1298465423 1298470847   5424  3.512 # 23 February 2011 23:50:23 24 February 2011 01:20:47 1298471177 1298475478   4301 10.909 # 24 February 2011 01:26:17 24 February 2011 02:37:58 1298475872 1298477336   1464  9.137 # 24 February 2011 02:44:32 24 February 2011 03:08:56 1298479551 1298480573   1022  1.625 # 24 February 2011 03:45:51 24 February 2011 04:02:53 1298480841 1298484199   3358 13.433 # 24 February 2011 04:07:21 24 February 2011 05:03:19 1298485523 1298488110   2587  2.719 # 24 February 2011 05:25:23 24 February 2011 06:08:30 1298489580 1298490763   1183  2.449 # 24 February 2011 06:33:00 24 February 2011 06:52:43 1298491534 1298494288   2754  4.669 # 24 February 2011 07:05:34 24 February 2011 07:51:28 These weren't just frequent outages: they were ...

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 22:58:04 UTC

Network connections: worse than ever

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to discover that I had had another network interruption. One? Dozens! Start time End time Duration Badness 1298459749 1298464398   4649  0.028 # 23 February 2011 22:15:49 23 February 2011 23:33:18 1298465423 1298470847   5424  3.512 # 23 February 2011 23:50:23 24 February 2011 01:20:47 1298471177 1298475478   4301 10.909 # 24 February 2011 01:26:17 24 February 2011 02:37:58 1298475872 1298477336   1464  9.137 # 24 February 2011 02:44:32 24 February 2011 03:08:56 1298479551 1298480573   1022  1.625 # 24 February 2011 03:45:51 24 February 2011 04:02:53 1298480841 1298484199   3358 13.433 # 24 February 2011 04:07:21 24 February 2011 05:03:19 1298485523 1298488110   2587  2.719 # 24 February 2011 05:25:23 24 February 2011 06:08:30 1298489580 1298490763   1183  2.449 # 24 February 2011 06:33:00 24 February 2011 06:52:43 1298491534 1298494288   2754  4.669 # 24 February 2011 07:05:34 24 February 2011 07:51:28 These weren't just frequent outages: they were ...

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 12:44:14 UTC

Good Article About the Terrorist Non-Threat

Posted By Bruce Schneier

From Reason: Know thy enemy is an ancient principle of warfare. And if America had heeded it, it might have refrained from a full-scale "war" on terrorism whose price tag is touching $2 TRILLION. That's because the Islamist enemy it is confronting is not some hyper-power capable of inflicting existential -- or even grave -- harm. It is, rather, a...

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 04:36:03 UTC

Making photo albums

Posted By Greg Lehey

I now have a number of photo albums, effectively collections of photos on a particular theme, and of course drawn from my main collection of photos. In particular, the albums for our animals Lilac, Nemo and Piccola require fairly frequent and time-consuming manual updates, and it's been a while since I did them. And then it occurred to me that I didn't really have an album for Darah. But I have a title search option on my photo search page, and it's only a short step from there to output a dummy “Album” page, at least here at home, which I can then use to update the real album pages.

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 04:36:03 UTC

Making photo albums

Posted By Greg Lehey

I now have a number of photo albums, effectively collections of photos on a particular theme, and of course drawn from my main collection of photos. In particular, the albums for our animals Lilac, Nemo and Piccola require fairly frequent and time-consuming manual updates, and it's been a while since I did them. And then it occurred to me that I didn't really have an album for Darah. But I have a title search option on my photo search page, and it's only a short step from there to output a dummy “Album” page, at least here at home, which I can then use to update the real album pages.

Thu, 24 Feb 2011 01:43:52 UTC

Free at Last - A Fully Self-Sustained Blog Running in Amazon S3

Posted By Werner Vogels

In a follow up to the last blog post I have removed the last two dependencies this blog had on running a server somewhere: comments are now served by Disqus and search is now handled by Bing. I should have moved to Disqus long time again as it is such rich discussion environment. It imported the commented from my Moveable Type server without a hitch. The choice for the search box from Bing was driven by that it was very easy to setup and it was free, where Google Site Search asked for $100/year. I'll evaluate search again in a few weeks, but for the moment this is good enough.

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 23:18:00 UTC

Telling Time/Date in Ethiopia (also, a good introductory programming exercise)

Posted By Alon Halevy

As the regimes in Northern Africa were getting under intense pressure, I flew to Ethiopia to visit coffee farms and experience its coffee culture. I'll write about the coffee aspect of my visit later, but I wanted to share an interesting cultural anecdote first.Before going to sleep in a traditional Sidama hut, my host announced that we'll be having breakfast at 1:30. I looked puzzled, as I wasn't sure if he's letting me sleep in really late or planning a very early rising. Upon inquiring, I unraveled a fascinating aspect of Ethiopian culture -- the way they tell time and dates.We'll start with time.

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Xoom With Honeycomb

Posted By Tim Bray

I've been dogfooding one since December, through ever-so-many builds of Android 3.0. I'm way too close to this story to write what any sane person would call a “review”, but I can share some impressions. On Tablets in General A lot of big rich manufacturers sure are gearing up to ship 'em by truckloads and boatloads and trainloads; I haven't the vaguest idea how they'll sell. The iPad has proved that there is a substantial market for tablets, but we have no idea how elastic or price-sensitive or Apple-focused it is. I use the Xoom for lots of things, but my production day-to-day machine for reading mail and books and the Web remains mostly the Galaxy Tab.

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Gos

Posted By Tim Bray

Which is Catalan for “dog”, and this is a blurry picture of Catalan dog. Well, I don't know for sure. The dog might be visiting from Spain or Sri Lanka, but it was solo in Barcelona. The picture may not be good, but it's a memento and makes me smile.

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 18:17:08 UTC

Random thoughts for February 23, 2011

Posted By Joel Spolsky

One day, you'll be telling your grandchildren about getting a programming job, version 1.0. You would send a “resume” to a “recruiter.” It included all kinds of silly information required by the esoteric resume ritual (foreign languages spoken, whether or not you play ultimate Frisbee, Microsoft-veteran status). This so-called “information” was utterly useless at determining whether you could program or not, but if you spelled everything right and used suitable fonts, you could come in for a day of interviews at which you would be asked to perform mundane programming tasks on a whiteboard. Careers 2.0 is here! Need to hire a really great programmer?

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 11:53:29 UTC

Susan Landau on Government Surveillance of the Internet

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Excellent House testimony....

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 00:04:43 UTC

Investment management software

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since retiring, I've been living on my investments. Every 3 months or so I go and speak to my adviser, Peter O'Connell, who presents me with documents showing the activity in the intervening time. I've never been able to understand the documents. They show individual information, but it's very difficult to get an overview, and recently I found some indications that didn't ring true. Yes, the world finances have been in turmoil for most of the time of my retirement, but the sums didn't add up. I wrote a message to Peter and asked him for a complete overview of the portfolio.

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 13:21:30 UTC

Terrorist-Catching Con Man

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting story about a con man who conned the U.S. government, and how the government is trying to hide its dealings with him. For eight years, government officials turned to Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, for eye-popping technology that he said could catch terrorists. Now, federal officials want nothing to do with him and are going to extraordinary lengths...

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 09:37:07 UTC

Information overload? Time to relax then

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Guardian

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 09:36:54 UTC

Overcome information overload by trusting redundancy

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Guardian column, "Information overload? Time to relax then," describes a technique for overcoming "information overload" by letting go of the idea that if you overlook something in your inbox, RSS reader, or other feed that it'll disappear forever. The faster your feeds get, the more the good stuff gets repeated -- trust the … [Read more]

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 22:50:39 UTC

Netgear: not for everybody

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with the Netgear MBR624GU today. Despite everything, couldn't get a connection. Called up Internode support and spoke to Soubik (I think; he pronounces his name very differently), who told me to set the APN parameter differently from what I got on my configuration details sheet. He also wasn't able to tell me what the PDP was (from my own configuration it's clearly IP), nor what kind of authentication they were using. Got him to connect me to his supervisor (“team leader”), Greg, who told me that they don't really use authentication; they go by the SIM card number.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Restaurante

Posted By Tim Bray

Down another Barcelona alley. It's a good place to take pictures.

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 14:33:14 UTC

Chicken Little (With a Little Help)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm taking a hiatus from podcasting while I recuperate from hip surgery; instead, I'll be posting a couple stories a week from the podcast edition of my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help. I hope you enjoy 'em -- I love how these readings came out. You can buy the whole audio on … [Read more]

Mon, 21 Feb 2011 04:44:30 UTC

Honeyd.org running with phpBB3

Posted By Niels Provos

Sun, 20 Feb 2011 22:40:51 UTC

Netgear router: success?

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, set to upgrading the firmware on the Netgear MBR624GU today. That wasn't helped by difficulties finding the correct page, coupled with terminal web site breakage. The Router Upgrade tab on the web server expected me to have already got the firmwareUpgrade file on my “Hard Disk” and offered no help finding it. Going to http://kb.netgear.com/app/home required a product number, after which I was able to “Ask a Question” (I think; the heading overlaid the previous line). After entering “firmware upgrade” I got the first 9 hits for the entire site, none of them matching my device, and with no opportunity to display more: Finally found the correct page via Google, and discovered yes, indeed, newer firmware was available.

Sun, 20 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Palimpsest

Posted By Tim Bray

Barcelona, compared to some other Eurocities I could name, is relatively graffiti-free. Which doesn't mean pristine There were a lot of really late evenings and I can't actually remember where I shot this. Not that that matters.

Sun, 20 Feb 2011 15:00:07 UTC

Dileep Bhandarkar on Datacenter Energy Efficiency

Posted By James Hamilton

Dileep Bhandarkar presented the keynote at Server design Summit last December.  I can never find the time to attend trade shows so I often end up reading slides instead. This one had lots of interesting tidbits so I'm posting a pointer to the talk and my rough notes here.

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 22:53:48 UTC

More Netgear pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

I wasn't convinced yesterday that the problems I had with the Netgear MBR624GU were due to a defective device, so did some more testing today. First, tried to connect the way the designers had presumably constrained it: Microsoft box with DHCP. Success! Not only did it work, it automatically provided the page without me having to enter any URL. I still don't understand how they did that, and I certainly can't imagine why they would want to do it. Once I had it set up, I was able to change the IP address and talk to it from my FreeBSD box—but only if I addressed it by IP address; it seems that the internal web server defaults to the page I've already seen, for reasons which escape me, so if I use any name, it doesn't work.

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Rambla Rainshine

Posted By Tim Bray

This is one of Las Ramblas, a series nice wide tree-lined Barcelona boulevards, mostly touristy now. This is a picture of it late at night, wet and uncrowded. You might want to enlarge that one for a sense of the scene.

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 18:42:00 UTC

Ask Me Anything in an Igloo

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

When Reddit sold to Condé Nast and the founders all moved to California, their old place in Davis Square was empty for a few months and they let Mika I move in and take it over. It's an awesome place and we're still there along with some Web 2.0 graffiti they left on the roof. And so it is with pleasure that I've agreed to be interviewed by redditor Danny Piccirillo in a giant igloo he helped build -- if the unseasonably warm weather streak of weather doesn't manage to melt it before next week.

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 13:37:38 UTC

Training classes announced for PICC (NJ-area)

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

You can attend my new class "Advanced Time Management: Team Efficiency" there. http://www.picconf.org/training-program#f6 The more of the schedule PICC announces the better it looks. Save April 29-30 on your calendar. Better yet, register today!

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 22:49:52 UTC

Networking: has everybody gone mad?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into town today to take Yvonne's car in for service, and did some other shopping while I was at it. In particular, to Officeworks to look for a new router for my wireless Internet connection. There's not much choice there, but the Netgear MBR624GU seemed to be the best. They were selling it for $84—less than I paid for the ill-fated ASUS RC-N13U—and I found one that had been returned by somebody who hadn't got it to work, which they sold me for only $70, still with full rights to return if I didn't get it to work. Took a look inside to make sure it was complete.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 22:17:39 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Research into Squid Hearing

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting: Squid can hear, scientists have confirmed. But they don't detect the changes in pressure associated with sound waves, like we do. They have another, more primitive, technique for listening: They sense the motion generated by sound waves. [...] Squid have two sac-like organs called statocysts near the base of their brains. Hair cells line the sac and project into...

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

MWC!

Posted By Tim Bray

I mean Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, which I'm just back from. Oh. My. God. I've never seen anything like it. Four days, 49,000 mobile-biz people, a city where you start your after-dinner drinks 'round midnight. The Android presence was said by all to have been a marketing triumph, but I'm still not sure what that means. I met a couple of my heroes. Here's a photo of (part of) the booth at opening time on Day One, before anything started happening. And here are two more taken during the belly of the show; wall-to-wall madness. Several marketing people were at pains to compliment me on our efforts, which included: The booth had two levels and a slide connecting them.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 19:45:23 UTC

Biometric Wallet

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Not an electronic wallet, a physical one: Virtually indestructible, the dunhill Biometric Wallet will open only with touch of your fingerprint. It can be linked via Bluetooth to the owner's mobile phone ­ sounding an alarm if the two are separated by more than 5 metres! This provides a brilliant warning if either the phone or wallet is stolen or...

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 14:32:09 UTC

Pester Power (With a Little Help)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm taking a hiatus from podcasting while I recuperate from hip surgery; instead, I'll be posting a couple stories a week from the podcast edition of my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help. I hope you enjoy 'em -- I love how these readings came out. You can buy the whole audio on … [Read more]

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 12:22:35 UTC

NIST Defines New Versions of SHA-512

Posted By Bruce Schneier

NIST has just defined two new versions of SHA-512. They're SHA-512/224 and SHA-512/256: 224- and 256-bit truncations of SHA-512 with a new IV. They've done this because SHA-512 is faster than SHA-256 on 64-bit CPUs, so these new SHA variants will be faster. This is a good thing, and exactly what we did in the design of Skein. We defined...

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 04:26:27 UTC

Disk problems: past and present

Posted By Greg Lehey

Netherby on IRC had disk problems today, and went looking for recovery software. I've been there in the past. Most recently I wrote a program to recover partitions if the BIOS partition table is overwritten. That's not what Netherby wanted, but it reminded me of a much older program that I last updated on 30 August 1986 to recover a catastrophic company internal crash on \PALACE, Tandem's London office at the time. These recovery efforts were exhausting, but our department had a good success rate with them, and this program was a key part of it. While browsing through the code (written in TAL), I found this sequence:       if partonly or thispart = partparms [0] then          begin          say (" ");          say ("This program could have saved your ...

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 23:45:51 UTC

New AWS feature: Run your website from Amazon S3

Posted By Werner Vogels

Since a few days ago this weblog serves 100% of its content directly out of the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) without the need for a web server to be involved.  Because my blog is almost completely static content I wanted to run in this very simple configuration since the launch of Amazon S3. It would allow the blog to be powered by the incredible scale and reliability of Amazon S3 with a minimum of effort from my side. I know of several other customers who had asked for this greatly simplifying feature as well. I had held out implementing an alternative to my simple blog server that had been running at a traditional hosting site for many years until this preferred simple solution became available: today marks that day and I couldn't be happier about it.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 22:01:44 UTC

Why are tax forms in PDF?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Dear universe, There are 10+ different organizations that have to give me some kind of tax form so that I can file my taxes. I'm really happy that they are now all electronic. It is much easier to download them off the organization's website than to get them in the mail. However, if these organizations are going to generate a PDF, can't they also generate a .irs file? A .irs file is an imaginary XML format that I wish existed. It would include all the data from the PDF but in a parsable format. I could take all the .irc files put them on a USB stick and hand it to my tax preparer or feed them into TurboTax.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:36:45 UTC

Polish Little Brother cover

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Thanks to Ludwik Stawowy for sending along the cover for the Polish edition of Little Brother, AKA Maly Brat!

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 14:38:40 UTC

Historical Study of the NSA Scientific Advisory Board

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Recently declassified: "Historical Study: The National Security Agency Scientific Advisory Board 1952¿1963."...

Wed, 16 Feb 2011 16:41:10 UTC

Dissatisfied Little Brother fan's alternative ending

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Pamela DiFrancesco writes, "Iread your novel Little Brother, not too long ago and really loved it---except I just didn't believe that the court system would be as just as it was, or that Marcus would be saved by the police, or that he would go on to "rock the vote," so to speak. So (thanks … [Read more]

Wed, 16 Feb 2011 15:10:00 UTC

Random technical tips, thoughts and rants

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

On a Mac, if you SHIFT-CLICK the green dot on a window it opens it as wide and tall as possible (instead of the application-defined behavior) Even though "ls -l" displays a files permissions as "-rw-r--r--", you can't use "-rw-r--r--" in a chmod command. This is probably one of the most obvious but overlooked UI inconsistencies in Unix that nobody has fixed after all these years. Instead we force people to learn octal and type 0644. Meanwhile every book on Unix/Linux spends pages explaining octal just for this purpose. Time would have been better spent contributing a patch to chmod. If a network problem always happens 300 seconds after an event (like a VPN coming up or a machine connecting to the network) the problem is ARP, which has to renew every 300 seconds.

Wed, 16 Feb 2011 12:26:16 UTC

Romanian Hackers

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting article from Wired: "How a Remote Town in Romania Has Become Cybercrime Central."...

Wed, 16 Feb 2011 11:46:41 UTC

1-hour documentary about IBM's Jeopardy!-playing computer Watson

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

It was broadcast on Feb 9 but you might still be able to catch it on your local PBS station. It is an hour long and is in-depth without requiring a CS PhD to understand. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/smartest-machine-on-earth.html

Wed, 16 Feb 2011 08:36:51 UTC

Locus List of the best genre fiction of 2010 ¿ a cheat sheet for Hugo nominators!

Posted By Cory Doctorow

This month's Locus magazine contains the annual "Locus Recommended Reading List," a guide to the best science fiction and fantasy published in the preceding year, chosen by the magazine's critics. In addition to being a great primer for exploring the year in fiction, they're also an excellent cheat-sheet for award-nominations -- for example, the Hugo … [Read more]

Tue, 15 Feb 2011 23:23:56 UTC

More upgrade pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne in this morning to tell me that her photo pages were no longer displaying anything. She was wrong: it was full of PHP error messages. Notice: Undefined index: enddate in /home/yvonne/public_html/photos/photos.php on line 9 Notice: Undefined index: startdate in /home/yvonne/public_html/photos/photos.php on line 12 Notice: Undefined variable: monthname in /home/yvonne/public_html/photos/photos.php on line 24 Notice: Undefined variable: monthname in /home/yvonne/public_html/photos/photos.php on line 31 Investigation showed that somehow the current revision of the page (revision 1.5 of 2010/09/06 02:12:04) had been reverted to revision 1.4 of 2008/05/17 08:50:00. How did that happen? It's fairly clear that it must have had something to do with my update stuff yesterday, and it's also an indication that despite all caution, I managed to mess things up.

Tue, 15 Feb 2011 19:11:39 UTC

The Seven Types of Hackers

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Roger Grimes has an article describing "the seven types of malicious hackers." I generally like taxonomies, and this one is pretty good. He says the seven types are: Cyber criminals Spammers and adware spreaders Advanced persistent threat (APT) agents Corporate spies Hactivists Cyber warriors Rogue hackers...

Tue, 15 Feb 2011 11:43:03 UTC

Societal Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Humans have a natural propensity to trust non-kin, even strangers. We do it so often, so naturally, that we don't even realize how remarkable it is. But except for a few simplistic counterexamples, it's unique among life on this planet. Because we are intelligently calculating and value reciprocity (that is, fairness), we know that humans will be honest and nice:...

Tue, 15 Feb 2011 01:15:15 UTC

Casitconf'11 early-bird registration savings extended to the 23rd

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Cascadia IT Conference has moved the early-bird deadline to Wednesday, the 23rd of February. Call it a President's day sale. http://www.casitconf.org/ Some talks I'm particularly excited about: Incident Command for IT: What We Can Learn from the Fire Department, Brent Chapman Chose your own Adventure, Adam Jacob Talks on Chef, Puppet and Cfengine ...and the entire training schedule looks top notch! http://www.casitconf.org/ Register now!

Mon, 14 Feb 2011 23:53:07 UTC

System upgrade: slowly and unsurely

Posted By Greg Lehey

More investigation of the checkins of configuration files today, and didn't get very far. Somehow this whole mess with RCS is too fragile, and I probably should have never gone down that route. CVS is potentially a better choice, but it required too much overhead. The problems: I want something that I can check in automatically via a cron job. The checkin process shouldn't change time stamps. That proves to be more complicated than I thought: somehow I've managed to change some of the files without locking them, and under these circumstances I don't even get a special error message, just: RCS/fstab,v  <--  fstab ci: RCS/fstab,v: no lock set by root And ...

Mon, 14 Feb 2011 15:42:49 UTC

Links for Monday, February 14, 2011

Posted By Jeff Barr

NASA Science News: Robonaut 2 Set to Launch in February - “R2 will be the first humanoid robot to travel and work in space, so it’ll be training for some big responsibilities.“ Cory Ondrejka: HTML5 Games 0.1: Speedy Sprites - “With wide adoption and industry support, HTML5 will transform desktop and mobile gaming, creating amazing user [...]

Mon, 14 Feb 2011 14:31:00 UTC

Constitutional Crisis (With a Little Help)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm taking a hiatus from podcasting while I recuperate from hip surgery; instead, I'll be posting a couple stories a week from the podcast edition of my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help. I hope you enjoy 'em -- I love how these readings came out. You can buy the whole audio on … [Read more]

Mon, 14 Feb 2011 13:36:37 UTC

With A Little Help: The Early Returns

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Publishers Weekly

Mon, 14 Feb 2011 13:35:43 UTC

With a Little Help: first post-publication progress report

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Publishers Weekly column documenting my DIY short story collection With a Little Help has just gone up. It documents the first six weeks after publication -- what went right and what went wrong. The good news is that I'm heavily in the black, thanks, in large part, to the limited edition hardcovers. The … [Read more]

Mon, 14 Feb 2011 12:37:24 UTC

Credit Card Fraud Ring

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It amazes me that credit card fraud is so easy that you can run it from prison....

Sun, 13 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Barcelona Midnight

Posted By Tim Bray

Just got in, the long haul from the Left Coast. MWC starts tomorrow and all the bank machines at the airport were empty except for the one attached to the bank, still open at 8PM on Sunday. I envisioned minions shoveling money in the back. We ate late, which is what you do here, and I was pointing the camera around as we strolled back to our digs. Ah, back on the old side of the pond.

Sat, 12 Feb 2011 22:25:42 UTC

Your computer is infected!

Posted By Greg Lehey

While looking for various plant identification links, got a message telling me that my computer was at risk, and that the page would perform a security scan. I closed the window without accepting, but it continued anyway: Discovered that it had installed no less than four copies of a file with a name that looked as if it was the opposite of the description: -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis     324608 Feb 12 18:14 AntiSpyWareSetup.exe -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis     324608 Feb 12 18:14 AntiSpyWareSetup(2).exe -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis     324608 Feb 12 18:14 AntiSpyWareSetup(3).exe -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis     324608 Feb 12 18:14 AntiSpyWareSetup(4).exe I wonder what it does.

Sat, 12 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Millions of Hovels

Posted By Tim Bray

There's a really interesting piece in the New York times about black-hat SEO, The Dirty Little Secrets of Search. Normally I'd just tweet a link, but it has this wonderful paragraph that totally captures the sad part of the Internet, the way I see it. I read it three times in a row, nodding all the while. ...the landscape of the Internet ... starts to seem like a city with a few familiar, well-kept buildings, surrounded by millions of hovels kept upright for no purpose other than the ads that are painted on their walls. I think anyone who has any reasonably-popular online property feels the truth of that statement in their gut.

Sat, 12 Feb 2011 02:41:19 UTC

Does your employer own your side projects?

Posted By Joel Spolsky

There's a surprising amount of misinformation out there about whether software companies own the work that a programmer does in their spare time. From my answer to the question on answers.onstartups.com: Being an employee of a high tech company whose product is intellectual means that you have decided that you want to sell your intellectual output. Read the whole thing here: If I'm working at a company, do they have intellectual property rights to the stuff I do in my spare time? Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy?

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 22:52:48 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Pheromone

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A newly discovered female squid pheromone sparks aggression in male squids. Article....

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 18:48:54 UTC

Julian Sanchez on Balancing Privacy and Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

From a blog post: In my own area of study, the familiar trope of "balancing privacy and security" is a source of constant frustration to privacy advocates, because while there are clearly sometimes tradeoffs between the two, it often seems that the zero-sum rhetoric of "balancing" leads people to view them as always in conflict. This is, I suspect, the...

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 16:01:27 UTC

Google Enables Two-Factor Authentication For All

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

My apologies for flogging my employer's product, but I enough people have asked me "how can I protect my gmail account" that I feel this is worth it. http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/vulnerabilities/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=229216897 Google has enabled 2-factor authentication for GMail. I highly recommend you enable this. Attacks on gmail accounts (and all accounts) are increasing in frequency.

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 14:29:49 UTC

Visit the Sins (With a Little Help)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm taking a hiatus from podcasting while I recuperate from hip surgery; instead, I'll be posting a couple stories a week from the podcast edition of my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help. I hope you enjoy 'em -- I love how these readings came out. You can buy the whole audio on … [Read more]

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 13:41:36 UTC

Challenges and Trade-offs in Building a Web-scale Real-time Analytics System

Posted By James Hamilton

Ben Black always has interesting things on the go. He's now down in San Francisco working on his startup Fastip which he describes as “an incredible platform for operating, exploring, and optimizing data networks.” A couple of days ago Deepak Singh sent me to a recent presentation of Ben's I found interesting: Challenges and Trade-offs in Building a Web-scale Real-time Analytics System. < ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />   The problem described in this talk was “Collect, index, and query trillions of high dimensionality records with seconds of latency for ingestion and response.” What Ben is doing is collecting per flow networking data with tcp/ip 11-tuples (src_mac, dst_mac, src_IP, dest_IP, ¿) as the dimension data and, as metrics, he is tracking start usecs, end usecs, packets, octets, and UID.

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 13:05:19 UTC

How Feed-Over-Email Circumvents Chinese Censorship

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Neat article, both the technology and the hacker who created it....

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 08:11:13 UTC

With a Little Help on DailyLit

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My DIY short story collection With a Little Help is now available as a series of daily, one-page emails from DailyLit -- all 151 installments' worth!

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 21:30:19 UTC

Hunting down the WH-1080 USB problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the problems that I haven't been able to solve with my WH-1080 weather station has been that from time to time the program received an EBADF on reading the device. There's no obvious reason, and I had to stop the process and restart it; closing and re-opening the device wasn't sufficient. As a result, I had decided that this was a bug in the FreeBSD USB stack, and one of the things I'll need to do when I finally get my new system installed is to see if it still works. Today, though, things were different: 10 February 2011  17:38:01: PID 15108: can't write to device: error setting timeout: Bad file descriptor (9) 10 February 2011  17:38:03: PID 20595: can't write to device: error setting timeout: Bad file descriptor (9) ...

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 19:50:23 UTC

Cascadia IT Conference - Early Bird Registration ends in 1 week (Feb 16)

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

The Cascadia IT Conference wants to remind you that this is the last week you'll be able to save money on registration by getting the Early Bird discount! http://bit.ly/CasITConfReg Each half day tutorial is $125, and each half day tech session is $100, but with the Early Bird discount, they're only $105 and $80, respectively. You can save even more money by purchasing a bulk pack of 2 days of tutorials for $399 (or one day of training, one day of tech sessions for only $359!) . The Early Bird discount ends on February 16th, which is this coming Wednesday. Register now so you don't forget!

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 16:53:19 UTC

Government data like crime maps is not enough ¿ there needs to be action

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Guardian

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 16:53:05 UTC

Guardian column on gov't data and accountability

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Guardian column is "Government data like crime maps is not enough ¿ there needs to be action," and it looks at two recent data-crunching apps for UK policing: first, the crime-maps that tell you what the crime's like in your neighbourhood, and second, Sukey, an app that helps protesters evade police "kettling" -- … [Read more]

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 12:42:18 UTC

Hacking Scratch Lottery Tickets

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Design failure means you can pick winning tickets before scratching the coatings off. Most interesting is that there's statistical evidence that this sort of attack has been occurring in the wild: not necessarily this particular attack, but some way to separate winners from losers without voiding the tickets. Since this article was published in Wired, another technique of hacking scratch...

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 21:45:55 UTC

More problems with system upgrade

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued today with my new system. All the software is installed; now I just need to copy various files from the old system. I have planned for this for some time. All the files are kept under RCS, and I have scripts to check them out. But they're a bit crufty, and today I discovered a number of bent symlinks and also at least one file that had been modified although it had been locked. It seems that the nightly cron jobs that automatically check in the RCS files don't handle this correctly, so the control file was out of date.

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Broken Links

Posted By Tim Bray

I've been getting madder and madder about the increasing use of dorky web links; for example, twitter.com/timbray has become twitter.com/#!/timbray. Others have too; see Breaking the Web with hash-bangs and Going Postel. It dawns on me that a word of explanation might be in order for those who normally don't worry about all the bits and pieces lurking inside a Web address. How It Works Suppose I point my browser at http://twitter.com/timbray. What happens is: The browser connects to twitter.com over the Internet and sends a query whose payload is the string /timbray. Twitter's server knows what /timbray means and sends back the HTML which represents my tweetstream.

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 17:39:01 UTC

Bomb-Sniffing Mice

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I was interviewed for this story on a mouse-powered explosives detector. Animal senses are better than any detection machine current technology can build, which makes it a good idea. But the challenges of using animals in this sort of situation are considerable. The neat thing about the technology profiled in the article, which the article didn't make as clear as...

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 15:10:10 UTC

Mind of Root podcast's "book club"

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Keith Albright and Steve Murawski do a great sysadmin podcast called "Mind Of Root". It is mostly Windows-focused but has a lot of great Linux stuff too. Recently they've been reviewing chapters of The Practice of System and Network Administration one or two chapters per epidsode. They pre-announce which chapter will be discussed so you can read it before the next episode. They usually record the podcast live, and you can join in a chat room and be involved in the show. I'm really enjoying listening to people talk about the book. When they agree they usually have an excellent story to tell, and when they disagree they're right 99% of the time (I keep saying to myself, "D'oh!

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 17:01:20 UTC

Todays links: Soft Skills, Ganeti and ConfigMgmt

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

System Administration Soft Skills: How can system administrators reduce stress and conflict in the workplace? by Christina LearChristina is a co-author of The Practice of System and Network Administration. The article is a great overview of the soft skills needed by system administrators and for non-sysadmins it is an interesting peek into sysadmin life. Check it out! (If you didn't recognize her name, that's because it changed when she married this guy.) http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=1922541 Handling HDD failures with Ganeti by Lance AlbertsonLance uses the Ganeti virtual cluster manager (think: VMWare ESX with Vmotion but completely open source) and has written another great post about how it is making his life easier.

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 11:46:46 UTC

Micromorts

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I'd never heard the term "micromort" before. It's a probability: a one-in-a-million probability of death. For example, one-micromort activities are "travelling 230 miles (370 km) by car (accident)," and "living 2 days in New York or Boston (air pollution)." I don't know if that data is accurate; it's from the Wikipedia entry. In any case, I think it's a useful...

Mon, 07 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

WF2: That's All, Folks

Posted By Tim Bray

[This is part of the Wide Finder 2 series.] This should be the final entry, after a couple of years of silence. The results can be read here, for as long as that address keeps working. I'm glad I launched that project, and there is follow-on news; taking effect today in fact. Conclusions This was a lot of work to demonstrate two simple findings that most of us already believed: It is possible to achieve remarkable throughput on highly parallel hardware, even for boring old-style I/O-heavy batch-processing problems. It remains unacceptably hard to achieve such performance. Whether you measure it by the number of lines of code, the obscurity of the languages and libraries you have to learn, or the number of bugs you have to fight, it's still too difficult to write concurrent application code.

Mon, 07 Feb 2011 15:00:00 UTC

Memory tip: How to remember names

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

[This post is part of a series on improving your memory.] People say they are bad at remembering names so often it is trite. The truth is that everyone is bad at it so stating this fact out loud is like reminding people "I breathe air." You don't naturally remember someone's name, you have to work at it. People that are good at remembering names employ various tricks, i.e. they work at it. There is one fact you must know to improve your memory: Remembering something is a two-step process. First you must have the information. Then you have to commit it to memory.

Mon, 07 Feb 2011 14:45:31 UTC

Scareware: How Crime Pays

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Scareware is fraudulent software that uses deceptive advertising to trick users into believing they're infected with some variety of malware, then convinces them to pay money to protect themselves. The infection isn't real, and the software they buy is fake, too. It's all a scam. Here's one scareware operator who sold "more than 1 million software products" at "$39.95 or...

Mon, 07 Feb 2011 14:27:17 UTC

Power Punctuation! (With a Little Help)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm taking a hiatus from podcasting while I recuperate from hip surgery; instead, I'll be posting a couple stories a week from the podcast edition of my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help. I hope you enjoy 'em -- I love how these readings came out. You can buy the whole audio on … [Read more]

Sun, 06 Feb 2011 22:01:05 UTC

More RSS frobbing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why does ACM Queue only fetch one diary item per day? I've been puzzling about this for some time, and I'm still no closer. One thing's clear: I've been faking the pubDate of the items, and possibly there's something there. Today spent some time playing around with the Emacs macros that I use to generate the HTML code, and now the “publication dates” reflect the time when I started to write the article. That proved more complicated than I thought. Emacs has a function format-time-string that you'd think would do exactly what I want: format-time-string is a built-in function in `C source code'.

Sun, 06 Feb 2011 21:48:10 UTC

Speeding Up Cloud/Server Applications With Flash Memory

Posted By James Hamilton

Last week, Sudipta Sengupta of Microsoft Research dropped by the Amazon Lake Union campus to give a talk on the flash memory work that he and the team at Microsoft Research have been doing over the past year.  Its super interesting work. You may recall Sudipta as one of the co-authors on the VL2 Paper (VL2: A Scalable and Flexible Data Center Network) I mentioned last October. < ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />   Sudipta's slides for the flash memory talk are posted at Speeding Up Cloud/Server Applications With Flash Memory and my rough notes follow: ·         Technology has been used in client devices for more than a decade ·         Server side usage more recent and the difference between hard disk drive and flash characterizes brings some challenges that need to be managed in the on-device Flash Translation Layer (FTL)  or in ...

Sun, 06 Feb 2011 11:48:00 UTC

Editor-to-Reader Ratios on Wikipedia

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

It's been reported for some time now that the number of active editors on Wikipedia (usually defined as people who have edited at least 5 times in a given month) peaked in 2007 and has been mostly stable since then. A graph of the total number of active editors in every month since Wikipedia's founding is shown below. The graph shows the aggregate numbers for all language Wikipedias. English Wikipedia is the largest component of this and is generally more variable. That said, very similar patterns exist for most larger languages. Felipe Ortega, who has provided many of these statistics, has warned against fatalist claims.

Sat, 05 Feb 2011 23:33:40 UTC

Mass laptop death

Posted By Greg Lehey

After taking my photos, plugged the backup disk into cojones, the old Dell Inspiron 1100 laptop I'm also using for Internet access. The console messages were unexpected: Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones kernel: ugen3.2: <HUAWEI Technology> at usbus3 (disconnected) Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones kernel: u3g0: at uhub3, port 3, addr 2 (disconnected) Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones ppp[12200]: tun0: Warning: 0.0.0.0/0: Change route failed: errno: No such process Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones ppp[12200]: tun0: Warning: deflink: Unable to set physical to speed 0 Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones ppp[12200]: tun0: Warning: deflink: tcsetattr: Unable to restore device settings Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones kernel: umass0: at uhub3, port 3, addr 2 (disconnected) Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones kernel: (cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): lost device Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones kernel: (cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): removing device entry Feb  5 12:58:47 cojones kernel: umass1: at uhub3, port 3, addr 2 (disconnected) Feb  5 12:58:47 ...

Sat, 05 Feb 2011 03:23:00 UTC

Antifeatures at the Free Technology Academy

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

In addition to lecturing for two courses at MIT this term, I recently had the pleasure of giving a lecture on antifeatures at the Free Technology Academy -- a program which offers Masters courses over the Internet. Quite a few of the FTA courses are about free software, free knowledge, and related topics! It was my first time giving a lecture to microphone and an empty room. Although I found it a little tricky to adapt to the lack of any audience, the FTA folks put together a great video. I'm psyched that the course material will be available as open education resources for anyone who might want to incorporate it into another course.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 23:59:00 UTC

CFA: Too stupid for their own good

Posted By Greg Lehey

While looking through the DSE site yesterday, found that they had silently redirected me to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) web site, and some of what I attributed to the DSE yesterday was in fact CFA. That's still a government department, though. Found a link Which Total Fire Band District am I in? on one of the pages, and followed it. The name itself is silly: they do more than impose total fie bans, but it seems that they haven't got round to creating uniform or appropriate terminology here either. As the scrolling message stated, “9 new Total Fire Ban (TFB) districts have been introduced across Victoria this fire season.” What they really mean is that they have redefined the boundaries of the districts (there are still only 9 districts).

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 22:33:16 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Reducing Squid Odor

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Research from Japan: "Improvement of 'kurozukuri ika-shiokara' (fermented squid meat with ink) odor with Staphylococcus nepalensis isolated from the fish sauce mush of frigate mackerel Auxis rochei."...

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Political Instability

Posted By Tim Bray

My own, I mean. I sort of thought I'd settled into a mid-life Canadian-mainstream political rut, but events have been battering me sideways. A recent political trauma occurred in January at the Churchill Club WikiLeaks event. The featured speaker was Daniel Ellsberg, a an old lion of the left, and boy was he ever convincing. I realized that I was listening to someone apparently positioned several leagues left of where I see myself, and admiring every word. Just one example: his pointing out, in terms that made anger unavoidable, the Obama administration's refusal to prosecute anyone for the widespread torture conducted by its predecessors (both direct and via extraordinary rendition, which is what they call it when you hand your political prisoners over to Arab autocracies for them to do the dirty); and simultaneous willingness to unleash the Justice Department against whistleblowers and leakers.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 19:35:37 UTC

UK Immigration Officer Puts Wife on the No-Fly List

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A UK immigration officer decided to get rid of his wife by putting her on the no-fly list, ensuring that she could not return to the UK from abroad. This worked for three years, until he put in for a promotion and -- during the routine background check -- someone investigated why his wife was on the no-fly list. Okay,...

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 19:01:10 UTC

Using Esper to manage real-time data.

Posted By Theo Schlossnagle

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 15:41:44 UTC

#ywahusty

Posted By Theo Schlossnagle

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 15:41:44 UTC

#ywahusty: you will always have users smarter than you

Posted By Theo Schlossnagle

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 14:26:44 UTC

Liberation Spectrum (With a Little Help)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm taking a hiatus from podcasting while I recuperate from hip surgery; instead, I'll be posting a couple stories a week from the podcast edition of my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help. I hope you enjoy 'em -- I love how these readings came out. You can buy the whole audio on … [Read more]

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 12:00:05 UTC

Terrorist Targets of Choice

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This makes sense. Generally, militants prefer to attack soft targets where there are large groups of people, that are symbolic and recognizable around the world and that will generate maximum media attention when attacked. Some past examples include the World Trade Center in New York, the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai and the London Underground. The militants' hope is that...

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 23:59:00 UTC

Ports: Done!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with building ports today, with a few minor surprises. A couple of programs have been renamed. Mercifully, qtpfsgui has now been renamed to “luminance”, though the web site hasn't. And it built and built and built, taking 4 hours building lots of Qt packages—I can't get over the suspicion that some have been built multiple times over the last few days. And then there were the inevitable illegible messages: Here the author of the software (not necessarily phonon: it could be one of the build tools) has such a restricted view of the world that he can't imagine that anybody doesn't have light foreground and dark background, so he only sets the foreground.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 20:16:57 UTC

FogBugz/Kiln Demo

Posted By Joel Spolsky

If you weren't able to make it to the FogBugz/Kiln world tour, a video of my presentation is up now on YouTube. (If you have a high bandwidth connection, try the �p” option, which shows the screen more clearly.) Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 14:30:00 UTC

Tom @ NYLUG, 6:30pm, March 16, 2011

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Tom will talk about why sysadmins are bad at time management and why it usually isn't your fault. Tom will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what its like to work at Google.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 11:54:05 UTC

ATM Skimmer on Bank Door Lock

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is a clever development in ATM skimming technology. It's a skimmer that attaches to the ATM-room door lock, not the ATM itself. Combined with a hidden camera, it's an ATM skimmer that requires no modification to the ATM....

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 23:59:00 UTC

Harassment: what's that?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm involved in the organization of two computer conferences at the moment: BSDCan and linux.conf.au for 2012, though as a result of auDA's “now you see me, now you don't” policy we've had to register another domain for linux.conf.au which will go away some time after the conference. Both conferences are technical conferences about free software, but there's another connection this year: harassment policies. What's that? I had never heard of harassment at technical conferences before, but it seems that more and more people (presumably mainly female) feel harassed at this kind of conference.

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:26:22 UTC

Hacking HTTP Status Codes

Posted By Bruce Schneier

One website can learn if you're logged into other websites. When you visit my website, I can automatically and silently determine if you're logged into Facebook, Twitter, GMail and Digg. There are almost certainly thousands of other sites with this issue too, but I picked a few vulnerable well known ones to get your attention. You may not care that...

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Android Constructors

Posted By Tim Bray

At the Honeycomb event today, I was immensely pleased to hear both Andy Rubin and Chris Yerga shout-out to the engineers; Andy followed up on Twitter. I just wanted to say that I've been in this business coming up on three decades, and had the pleasure of working with many software legends. The Android platform team is the most accomplished I've ever been close to. Not just by a little bit, either.

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 15:00:00 UTC

Memory tip: Two ways socks help you remember things

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

[For the next week or so I'll be posting the techniques I use to help me remember things. I'll be covering topics like memorizing short lists, oddball things, and names.] I prefer to write something down so that I don't forget it, but sometimes I forget the list! For example, I often have an idea right as I'm falling asleep. I keep a pad of paper by my bed just for this reason. However the next day I forget to look at the list. Therefore I need a way to remind myself to look at the list. All I need is for something to be "out of place" in the morning and that will jog my memory.

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 12:42:30 UTC

Kip Hawley Comments on the Domodedovo Airport Bombing

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is the first piece of writing I've seen from Kip Hawley since he left the TSA in 2009. It's mostly generalities and platitudes....

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 08:32:59 UTC

Net Delusion review in French

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My critical review of Evgeny Morozov's The Net Delusion has been translated into French by the good folks at ReadWrite Web.

Tue, 01 Feb 2011 23:59:00 UTC

More fun building ports

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with building ports today. I've been through my first sweep of building the ones that build happily. Now I'm on to the ones that fail. First was samba. Well, a dependency, OpenLDAP: soelim: not found *** Error code 127 Stop in /usr/ports/net/openldap24-client. *** Error code 1 soelim is part of groff. And that's part of the base system. So what went wrong here? This one is my fault, I fear: at some point I had run into trouble with the build, and I turned off groff to work around it.

Tue, 01 Feb 2011 15:18:52 UTC

You did it! Fundraising goal met! ($4500+ raised!)

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Thanks to everyone that participated in the fundraising for Lyon-Martin Health Services (LM). We exceeded the goal of raising $1000 from readers of this blog. I received email from Dr. Harbatkin calling this effort "Amazing!" Blog readers have donated $1365. I matched the first $1000. Since we made the goal before Thursday, I donated an additional $500 as promised. That's a total of $2865! Wait... there's more! Many of the people that donated work for employers with a "gift match" program, which doubles their donations. If my math is right, this will increase the total to more than $4500! Dr. Harbatkin asked me to remind people that there is a "Save Lyon-Martin" page on Facebook, fundraisers and other events on listed on http://lyon-martin.org/events.php, and to check out their web site http://lyon-martin.org for periodic announcements.

Tue, 01 Feb 2011 13:40:59 UTC

Me on Color-Coded Terrorist Threat Levels

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I wrote an op-ed for CNN.com on the demise of the color-coded terrorist theat level system. It's nothing I haven't said before, so I won't reprint it here. The best thing about the system was the jokes it inspired late-night comedians, and others, to make. In memoriam, people should post the funniest of those jokes here....