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1 July 2004
More email stats:
- Accounts: 0%
- Inbox: 5%
- News: 11%
- Spam: 62%
- Tech List: 22%
Compared to last month, tech list volume is way up and spam is down. Inbox volume remained about the same.
Not that it does anyone over here in the USA any good, but Orange officially announced their new high-speed 3G wireless network in the UK. Right now it’s data only, which means the only way to use it is with a laptop and the approproiate 3G wireless laptop card (in this case, Merlin’s U530, pictured at right) and it won’t be cheap, but you should be able to get up to 384 Kbps, which is about the same as a sluggish DSL connection, but world’s better than what we can get here in the States. The first 3G cellphones that’ll work with the new network should be out from LG and Sony Ericsson later this year.
2 July 2004
I especially like the “broadcast silence” option.
3 July 2004
The MLA Language Map is intended for use by students, teachers, and anyone interested in learning about the linguistic and cultural composition of the United States. The MLA Language Map uses data from the 2000 United States census to display the locations and numbers of speakers of thirty languages and seven groups of less commonly spoken languages in the United States. The census data were based on responses to the question, “Does this person speak a language other than English at home?” The Language Map illustrates the concentration of language speakers in zip codes and counties. The Data Center provides actual numbers and percentages of speakers.
6 July 2004
Getting FC2 to a state of usability in a home or office environment requires a great deal more labor than I believe should be required. However, my complaints were put into perspective last week when I visited a classroom to start getting it ready for summer term. I walked in on a cursing, overworked desktop support tech who was griping loudly about the inordinate time it takes to install and patch Windows on a roomful of computers — in an organization that will not pay for disk imaging software or an in-house Windows Update server. “You don’t need Microsoft Office installed on these, I hope?” he asked through a fog of sweat and frustration. I acknowledged that I did not. Then he wanted to know if I needed HP printer drivers installed, with a cynical groan about how it would “only take a few more hours.”
I used to supervise people who support Windows on the desktop. I had forgotten how bad Windows really is. Suddenly my gripes about Fedora seemed petty.
7 July 2004
best. marriage. proposal. EVER.
Oh, didn’t I mention? I got engaged! Oh yeah, I did mention. But did I mention how? Well, this is how! I added google.com to the DreamHost dns servers (um, maybe you noticed if for some reason you were using lynx to go to Google directly from our servers back around May 16th) and set up a fake Google website! Then I changed the picture at the top and changed our home dns servers to be DreamHost’s (instead of Earthlink’s DSL like they normally are). So if you went to www.google.com from our house, you got the fake version I’d set up on our servers! Mwah hwah hwah hwah! Well, “Tweeny” goes to Google a lot, so Saturday night I switched it over and next thing you knew, Sunday morning she was all “How much did you have to pay Google?!”… check it out, I archived it at:
Aren’t I romantic? And a huge nerd? Worse than those guys in line for Star Wars that Triumph the Insult Dog interviewed? Probably.
8 July 2004
Below are some of the extensions that have been rated highly by Mozilla users. All the extensions work with both Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox — an enhanced version of the Mozilla browser — unless otherwise noted, but most developers are now creating and updating extensions only for Firefox.
9 July 2004
There’s a Mozilla patch out for Mozilla, Firefox, and Thunderbird. Mozilla browser and Firefox can just click on the link above. Thunderbird requires a little more - see the article.
On July 7 (yesterday) a security vulnerability affecting browsers for the Windows operating system was posted to Full Disclosure, a public security mailing list. On the same day, the Mozilla security team confirmed the report of this security issue affecting the Mozilla Application Suite, Firefox, and Thunderbird and discussed and developed the fix at Bugzilla bug 250180. We have confirmed that the bug affects only users of Microsoft’s Windows operating system. The issue does not affect Linux or Macintosh users.
Today, the Mozilla team released a configuration change which resolves this problem by explicitly disabling the use of the shell: external protocol handler. The fix is available in two forms. The first is a small download which will make this configuration adjustment for the user. The second fix is to install the newest full release of each of these products. Instructions on administering these changes can be found below.
A German gardening equipment maker Gardena has put up what would surely be the equivalent of lawsuit-bait here in the States: a billboard with an enormous sprinkler that can be triggered via text message to spray passersby with water, finally fulfilling our lifelong dream of being able to anonymously hose down strangers.
11 July 2004
I’m sad to say this, but the NEA’s recent report that Americans Read Fewer Books is just a wee bit alarmist. It’s filled with overhyped generalizations. Generalizations of any sort give me hives.
Don’t mistake me, I’m sympathetic to the issue. I believe reading is a crucial part of a good life and have devoted an entire room of my house to my books. But the rhetoric is so absurdly overwrought that I can’t take it seriously. This problem is happening for “first time in modern history”? All I can think is that the authors have a much different definition of “modern” than I do. Do these people remember anything before 1980?
Don’t answer that. Just go read the report.
For the first time in modern history, less than half of the adult population now reads literature, and these trends reflect a larger decline in other sorts of reading.
Reading at Risk presents a distressing but objective overview of national trends. The accelerating declines in literary reading among all demographic groups of American adults indicate an imminent cultural crisis. The trends among younger adults warrant special concern, suggesting that — unless some effective solution is found — literary culture, and literacy in general, will continue to worsen. Indeed, at the current rate of loss, literary reading as a leisure activity will virtually disappear in half a century.
12 July 2004
Reporters who cover technology joke that the easiest way to provoke reader reaction is to describe Macs as underpowered and overpriced, or virus writers as hackers. Do either and your inbox is guaranteed to get flooded with e-mail.
We can now add another response-rouser to that list: Write a story about Mozilla and Firefox extensions and fail to mention a few of the add-ons that people evidently find essential to their life and pursuit of happiness on the Web.
13 July 2004
14 July 2004
The vaguely unsatisfied child is then fobbed off at the exit with some sort of fakey certificate that shows pics of the day’s specimens. In fifty years the entire populace will have been raised like this, and grown men will run screaming at the sight of a real live butterfly.
15 July 2004
And now for the verdict. Slackware 10 is a well-rounded distribution that will continue to make a first-class Linux server platform. Changes in the new release are incremental, not radical, and Slackware remains one of the most stable, reliable and flexible distributions available today. True to tradition, Slackware 10 is refreshingly free of the convoluted and confusing “enhancements” often added by other Linux vendors that can make straightforward system administration tasks a real pain if you don’t use their GUI tools. If you build and manage Linux server systems, I certainly recommend trying a Slackware solution!
16 July 2004
Sometimes, I amaze myself with my stupidity. It masquerades as stubbornness, but really it’s stupidity.
See, to celebrate all my recent work in my garden I decided to see if my computer kung-fu had improved any and try to get Tigana back in tip-top shape. For those following allong at home, she had the following problems:
- Installing any windows update causes a catastophic OS crash, requiring hours of reinstalling DLLs to fix.
- The left mouse button no longer works, so we use a small optical USB mouse now. However, Red Hat 7.2 doesn’t support USB mice.
- The wireless card works normally under Windows, and can work under Red Hat, but not with WEP enabled.
- Any recent Linux installation (Red Hat 9, Fedora X, even Slackware 10) runs into problems with the PCMIA CD-ROM drive on the 505TR. The web advice (assigning an ide2 value) hasn’t worked.
- The ‘T’ key is loose and comes off every once in a while.
So, because I’m an idiot, I though I should spend some time actually trying to *fix* these problems. Stupid, stubborn, idiot. I decided to tackle the problems one at a time, first reinstalling the Windows partition. This did not go well. Not that it went poorly, but it took about 4 hours all told, and then before I connected to the internet I reinstalled Norton Personal Firewall.
NPF worked for all of one boot before an error dialog kindly informed me that my security settings were all FUBARed and I should reinstall the software. I did so. Twice. Thrice. Five times I reinstalled that software, eventually deleting every Symantec-related file I could find.
So here I am, stuck without a firewall on an unpatched win2k box. I know that there’s no way I can patch it fast enough before it’s compromised. So I turn to my old nemesis, ZoneAlarm. I download it quickly, turn off the wireless card, and get it set up and running. So far, so good.
Then I notice that the USB mouse - you know, the one that’s required to make the damn machine work - is flaking out and freezing up. The touchpad still works fine, but not the external mouse.
While I’m running Windows Update I check it out on the web, and sure enough other people have had problems with ZoneAlarm causing USB weirdness. I don’t know which I’m more pissed off at now - ZoneAlarm, for making such an intrusive program, or Microsoft, who shipped Win2K without a firewall. It’s perhaps the only benefit I see to running Windows XP.
So now I’m presented with a dilemma; firewall and flaky mouse, or no firewall, insecure box, but a working mouse. These are not the sort of choices I like to make. So I turn to the Linux side to see if maybe I can salvage some shreds of adminisrative dignity. (The smart admin would have gone outside and built another garden bed. I’m not so smart.)
The WEP appears to not work because the Wireless Exensions package is version 11, and I need version 15. That appears at least fixable, with a little research. The USB problem likely requires rebuilding the kernel, which I don’t have the source code for. But I remain hopeful that if I can upgrade the distro, it’ll all work out.
Of course, every disro I tried - with the exception of Red Hat 7.2, which is already on Tigana - failed to load the proper CD-ROM driver and barfed the install. Some of them (Fedora, cough, cough) spewed code all over the screen before I terminated Anaconda. Others just sat there and waited… and waited… and waited…
Got old, quick.
All the while I’m lusting after Tsiolkovsky, happily playing DVDs right next to me in bed. Is that wrong?
Dealing with computers is so unsatisfying.
To celebrate ten years of online bookselling, we are asking our readers: What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years? Submit an essay and Powells.com will donate one dollar to Reading Is Fundamental, the nation’s largest nonprofit children’s literacy organization.
- The author of the best essay will win $1,000 in books
- Ten runners-up will receive $100 in books
- Submit your essay by July 31, 2004, and Powells.com will include a free mousepad in your first order placed before January 1, 2005
22 July 2004
What sort of explosives do you use now?
There are two types of explosive - low order and high order. Low makes a slow heaving explosion, which pushes more than it shatters. We tend to look for a shattering explosive because we want to instantaneously remove the structural integrity of whatever we’re working on. So we would opt for nitroglycerin or NG-based dynamite. With a steel structure, we use something called a linear-shaped charge that concentrates the force of a high explosive called RDX. For example, it took 80 pounds of shaped charge to bring down two New York gas tanks built with 5 million pounds of steel.
23 July 2004
I can finally check off “set up webserver” from my network to-do list. Thanks to dyndns.org, I’m now able to not only SSH into Arbonne from work, I have Apache running and serving pages to the outside world. Finally! High resolution graphics that won’t eat up my relatively small web storage space!
Ah, the power.
(Now I just need to finish changing Arbonne from Fedora to Slackware…)
When we created mozilla.org and released (most of) the source code to Netscape Confusicator 4.x, Netscape’s lawyers made us go through a big “sanitization” process on the source code. Largely this consisted of making sure we had the legal rights to all the code we were releasing, and making sure every file had proper and accurate copyright statements; but they also made us take out all the dirty words. Specifically, “any text containing vulgar or offensive words or expressions; any text that might be slanderous or libelous to individuals and/or institutions.”
Polydactyly, or extra digits, is a common trait among cats, particularly it seems, among Celtic cats and cats on part of America’s Eastern coast and South West Britain. This distribution may well be linked. Except for Twisty Cats, polydactyly is not a product of bad breeding. It is simply a naturally occurring genetic variation and, as noted later on, polydactyly is found in fossil reptiles - meaning that five digits might be the abnormal form! Only one form of polydactyly is known to be harmful.
Anything and everything on eBay — eBay item 2256298346 (Ends Jul-31-04 01:00:00 PDT) - The K.I.T.T. car from Knight Rider
437. K.I.T.T. (Knight Industry Two Thousand) car from Knight Rider. (Universal TV, 1982-85) This highly-modified 1983 Pontiac Trans Am is an original screen-used hero car used during the second season of the hit TV series. Instantly recognizable with its working scanner in the front and highly futuristic interior, this vehicle was arguably the star of the show! Accompanied with the original ownership certificate listing MCA Universal Studios Inc. as the registered owner. For insurance and liability reasons the vehicle’s identification number was removed by Universal (common practice for their film and TV cars) and it was subsequently assigned the in-house inventory control number of “1177” (numbers can be found on the driver-side door and under the hood).
26 July 2004
27 July 2004
Brief internet outage at my house, now resolved. For some reason, my cable modem and wireless router decided they were going to go on strike. After waving a dead chicken over them and powercycling them in a sequence full of numerological significance, they are back online. I honestly have no idea why they just stopped working on Sunday night. Voodoo, maybe.
I do know why I can SSH into arbonne from work, but can’t see the web server - even though I can see it on the network. Cox Cable blocks port 80, the bastards. I’ll have to reconfigure to port 8080 or somesuch nonsense to get it working.
Owning a PC is an up-and-down affair: Sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t. Even the best machines have problems, and from time to time, even the best manufacturers have trouble fixing them. …[T]he key is finding a machine whose problems are few and far between — and a manufacturer that can, and will, tackle those problems.
To help you find the most dependable computers and PC manufacturers, we give you our 17th annual Reader Satisfaction Survey, in which Jerry Shipley and more than 8,000 other PC Magazine readers describe experiences with the desktops, notebooks, and servers that they use at home and at work: over 17,000 computers in all.
As you peruse the results, you’ll see that no company is beyond reproach. Each is guilty of selling machines that need repair and providing poor technical support at times. The leading vendors — Apple in the desktop and notebook categories, Dell in desktops and servers, and IBM in notebooks — are those that keep criticism to a minimum.
Oh no, not again. At least Merrystar isn’t observing this week…
A sunspot group aimed squarely at Earth has grown to 20 times the size of our planet and has the potential to unleash a major solar storm.
The amorphous mix of spots, together called Number 652, has been rotating across the Sun and growing for several days. On Friday, it sat at the center of the solar disk.
28 July 2004
Massive waves up to 100 feet in height — once thought to be extremely rare — actually roam the oceans quite frequently and could threaten to overturn ships and oil rigs, a European Commission study has found.
The study, announced last week and conducted on radar images gathered by two European Space Agency satellites during a three-week period in 2001, revealed that no fewer than 10 of the so-called rogue waves rose from various oceans around the world in that time. Not too long ago, scientists had believed that such waves formed just once every 10,000 years, according to the space agency.