Forgot your password?
The Courts

Journal: Donate to the Steven Heller Legal Defense Fund!

Journal by aphor

Just in case the story submission gets canned, I'm posting this here!

Steven Heller, the whistleblower in the California Diebold ballot machine tampering case, is now taking donations to help defend against the chilling felony charges against him. The Steven Heller Legal Defense web page may not survive the Slashdot Effect: scroll down to find out how to contribute the old-fashioned way.

Donating to Steven Heller's defense is a great way to participate in politics beacuse it will send a clear message on two issues of grave importance: supporting whistleblowers against political corruption, and supporting legitimate voting process. If you care about these issues, then you should consider sending them ~$20. You should also hit your friends up and donate together in larger amounts so that it isn't so expensive for them to process the donations if paying by check.

I contacted Steven Heller's attorney a few days ago and requested to be put on the notification list when the legal defense fund is set up. His wife is apparently handling this, and I just received this email:

On Mar 10, 2006, at 1:45 PM, hgunited at wrote:

Hello everyone, Michele here again, Stephen Heller's wife. Some of you have asked us if we've tried to get pro bono counsel, and the answer is yes, of course we have. But we've had no luck. The ACLU was approached, and their board of directors considered it, but they turned us down, claiming a lack of resources.

Several national whistleblower foundations have also been approached. Some have indicated they will donate to a defense fund, and some referred us to attorneys, but they don't provide pro bono counsel. A few other organizations have also been approached, but none of those efforts or referrals resulted in pro bono counsel.

All of the attorneys that have been approached have declined to represent Stephen pro bono. We have learned that criminal defense attorneys rarely take a case pro bono unless 3 conditions are met: 1) the defendant is indigent; 2) the defendant is already in jail or in prison; and 3) the attorney believes the defendant to be factually innocent. We respect that; a person who is indigent and in prison is in much greater need than we are.

Stephen does have a lawyer, a very skilled and experienced criminal defense firm. Stephen's brother David, an attorney from Seattle (he can't handle the case, he is not a member of the Cal. bar and he has his own law firm and family to attend to, he can't live in L.A. for the many months, or even years, that this case may drag on) said Stephen's attorneys are "pretty much top of the heap in criminal defense in L.A." So we are confident about Stephen's representation. It's just paying their very high fees that worries us.

Thank you for your concerns and suggestions. We truly appreciate all your help and good wishes.


From the web site:

Should you wish to donate with a check, please make the check out to "The Stephen Heller Legal Defense Fund" and mail it to:

The Stephen Heller Legal Defense Fund
c/o Michele D. Gregory, Fund Administrator
17216 Saticoy St., Box 234
Van Nuys, CA 91406-2103

User Journal

Journal: I replaced my 667 Gigabit TiBook LCD. OW!

Journal by aphor

The problem:
I am a very demanding user, and titanium is brittle. I have had my TiBook since they released the first DVI TiBook. I blew about $3K altogether with the Airport, tax, and shipping. I take it with me almost everywhere. About the only time I leave it home are for short errands and entertainment. Stupid airport security guards at the x-ray machines manhandled it and put dents in the bottom tray just below the lid release. My backpack, slung with one strap across my back, slipped off when I bent over to tie my shoe once. The padded sleeve did little to mitigate the corner impact from about 12 inches up. The titanium bottom catch snapped off. Past warranty, I opened it up and fixed it with a piece of metal ruler and epoxy. The plastic frame glued to the bottom pan of the laptop housing is even more brittle than titanium. I had to superglue it then and several times since. The last drop was only about 6 inches, but it slightly bent the hinges and skewed the lid. The constant strain began to crack the titanium outside frame at the ports. One of the hinge covers needed to be bent back, but fatigued and broke. I epoxied it for cosmetic effect. Worst of all, the LCD started flickering and would freeze with various symptoms: badly interlaced partial image, blue and red vertical lines in some places, horizontal bands, and garbled corners that looked like a decoded damaged JPEG.

The Solution:
I cried to my wife, who coldly said $2K is too much money to spend on a new AlBook. I went to to Google looking for parts: $1000 for a raw LCD panel. The disassembly/reassembly is a very painstaking process. Labor: $500. Ouch! I found some web sites with instructions and pictures:

Back to EBay, I found a guy in Texas with a "grade A" refurb LCD panel at $259 "buy-it-now". I bought it. I followed macdan's method with good results: only a couple of small dents. When the LCD arrived at the local UPS store, it was in a factory box packed with less than 1 inch soft open-cell eggcrate foam on the top and bottom. The box showed crush damage on one edge. It came with a sheet of thick clear PE (like transparency film, but heavier) taped to it to protect the pristine LCD screen. I pulled it off and glued it back on with dots of hot melt glue at the corners. I was prepared for the worst, but after four hours of gruelling hardware work, I had everything plugged in, test-bench style, and it worked perfectly.

I got some Gorilla Glue for the reassembly. When I got everything back in place, I had too much glue on the LCD bezel. A thin bead of this stuff is too much. At about 60 minutes of drying time, the partially thickened resin starts foaming and squeezed out of every crack. It cured much more solid than the factory glue job though, judging by the stiffened flexibility of the reassembled LCD. I recommend this glue wholeheartedly, but macdan's technique will probably not work on Gorilla Glue, so make sure you get it right the first time! Also, if you use this glue, I recommend applying it in droplets spaced 1/4 inch apart with a hypodermic syringe. Also, put some paper down on the edge f your table/bench, and hang the laptop over the edge, screen on the tabletop, and put paper and then something rigid like plywood or masonite on top of the screen so that the weight of the toolboxes or books you stack on top is transferred to the edges of the screen (where the glue is) and not the delicate part of the screen.

After seeing results the next morning, I was romanced again by the crisp, bright screen. The world was better again, for a while, and then I adjusted the tilt of the screen. The goofy display problems were back (except for the predictable vertical lines from the old display). I figured out that it was the overly delicate LCD data cable harness on the bottom of the system board near the left hinge. I rerouted the LED cable to the groove cut in the system board for the port cover hinge spring. Then I cleaned the contacts with solvent and a can of air, and tucked a small strip of paper into the top of the system board jack so that the fit was more snug, and the paper prevented the wires from contacting the bottom pan when reassembled. This helped, but there was still too much flexion in the frame around this wiring harness. I loosened the screws and torqued them down with the screen fully opened, gently twisting the frame holding the ports backwards. This prestressed the bottom pan, and now nothing presses on the LCD cable connectors. Defects gone!

BTW: I knew the defects were a bad wire connection because I recognised "clock jitter" symptoms in the screen that got worse as the TiBook got hot from use. Pushing on the bottom of the laptop would fix the connection long enough for the LCD to get a good clock and the screen would refresh before going bad again. Pins toward the power connector seem to carry the horizontal and vertical clock signals. Pins away from the power connector seem to carry pixel chromatic data.

User Journal

Journal: Aphor on the WWW

Journal by aphor

Google is picking up my trail, so this journal entry is meant to be a crumb that helps unify my web presence.

  • Dot Mac homepage: My personal site. I should do more here. I have a large collection of things that belong here, but I am not particularly moved to put the presentation together. Shame...
  • My host site. Primarily a testbed for my web technology dabbling, experimentation, and development: this site may contain content managed by someone else. When I get over a few challenges with LDAP (namely an architecture for handling compound attributes and relationships between objects), I intend to do something akin to what does.
  • Advogato person page: This was supposed to be my homepage for my work getting isakmpd working on Solaris 8. Ajaxx had a port of OpenBSD's isakmpd, but I wanted to make the port approach zero-maintenance for keeping up with OpenBSD's development. Ajaxx worked from a snapshot of isakmpd that had DoS problems from aggressive mode key exchange, etc. That has been a focus of OpenBSD work since then... Ajaxx seems to have disappeared for a while and I never got enough time to work on it. Shame.
User Journal

Journal: Have Microsoft's Astroturfers been at the Slashdot mods?

Journal by aphor

I break with a long discipline of not caring about what goes on in the gummy works of Slashdot operation. My curiosity is piqued. Some things are more powerful than discipline.

Recently, I posted a comment on why I thought Windows has evolved to be so insecure. A few moderators quickly swooped in and nailed "TROLL" to the comment. I always felt that "TROLL" moderation was a courtesy to people who can't tell the difference and might get sucked in. I thought I tried genuinely to provide some fodder for good discussion. Even some of the people who bitterly rebuked me seemed to at least agree that I deserved a thoughtful response.

Given that it only takes three down-mods to kill off my Slashdot Karma bonus, and I think I got one mod-up in that time, there seems to be a 4:1 ratio of people who would like to warn people about my comment or my supposed intentions to those who think I deserve a good read. It happened rather quickly too.

Thinking in a "grand conspiracy" mindset, I wondered how someone could pull this off. A: Slashdot insiders are not likely due to the widely acknowledged Linux/Anti-MS bias of the founders and operators. B: A well-organized gang of users could pull it off with out-of-band notification. Friends of mine have begged me for moderation and comments to boost their agendas on certain subjects.

It works (I guess) like this: Javascript or *gasp* VB will fire up your web browser and log you onto Slashdot during daily slumps. One could have scads of Slashdot accounts doing this in parallel (So much for the gang theory) from different browser windows (I got clued into Windows runas here). When one of the browsers detects moderator points have been awarded, it would send notification of those powers to the would-be moderator/censor. I think it's likely that one person with a couple of reasonably fast PCs could do this. This person could probably ramp down the time they spent on it to as little time as they needed/wanted to spend dealing with Slashdot. What to mod? What to post? You need a gang of zeroes to read all the stuff and come grovelling back with a list of the most interesting comments/discussions.

User Journal

Journal: Compiling ntop 2.2c on Solaris 8 with GCC-3.3.1

Journal by aphor

I just cleared up a linker problem building a recent ntop release on Solaris 8. Previously, the linker would barf on OpenSSL libssl.a with some undefined sysmbols that it should have picked up in libcrypto.a. I hacked the configure-supplied Makefile and added a second "-lcrypto" to the end of the LIBS section, and Solaris ld magically picked up the stuff it should have acquired from the first -lcrypto in the list.

Don't ask me why. I do not know. All I know is that I have a happy binary ntop 2.2 for my Solaris 8 servers now :) YMMV

User Journal

Journal: Preparing for The Matrix

Journal by aphor

I am a Solaris admin by trade, whic leads me to peek at what the market chatter has to say about SUNW. I'm concerned about Bill Joy leaving Sun. He's a really smart guy, and that's never a good sign for a company. That makes me wonder, looking on the bright side of things, where Bill Joy is going next. That leads me to this old Wired article: Why the Future Doesn't Need Us by Bill.

Just in case you're trying to stay a little focused (even though I can't), I'll try to spare you the RTFA. The article is the premise behind The Matrix and the Animatrix, etc... Moving right along: you must understand why you are here--why you are reading this text. The future is already happening, the causes of what will be are right now churning actual new things from the fog of possibilities.

Open Response To Bill Joy:

I can remember having the moment of the first matrix episode when I was eight or so. I reasoned this: am I a special chosen being with an important and unique destiny? If yes, then I only need to choose. If no, then my choices have no consequences. However my choices always have consequences however small they may be. Sometimes my choices have greater consequences. I get into trouble when I underestimate the consequences of my choices. I only learn bitter lessons when I overestimate the consequences of my actions. To err on the side of caution, I always believe my choices have more consequece than I can appreciate at the time I must choose. Therefore, I must act as if I am the chosen one whether I am or not. I must also accept that not every choice will be as important as another, whether I am the chosen one or not.

I practice my art in computers. Life is often too messy for me to experiment cleanly with my principles. It is harder to learn from failure if you have to do without a backup, RCS, or undo/redo log. Computers provide a slightly more concrete than imagination, but slightly less concrete than reality hypothetical universe through which I can learn to better understand the burden of authenticity. Authenticity and authorship require literacy.The problem is that while we have technological ears and toungues, we lack sophisticated language or even the ability to understand such a language. There is no metaverse, perception is reality, and "virtual reality" is no refuge from the cold truth that is always dawning upon us all. We don't know what the hell we are doing. It's something that Heidegger yammered out and nobody understood: it's different being with machines . I can take some ideas, and put them in a box, and let them mix it up, but having watched that happen, I haven't really understood the big picture. I am changed by it. I have screwed up the experimenter. More than anything else, I have blinded myself to the difference between my ideas in the box and those ideas leaking out of the box mutated by the experience.

It's really best said by Ray Bradbury in his younger years: The Flying Machine . The parable puts us in both shoes: first the inventor, and then the Emperor who tries to contain the consequeces of the inventor's creation. In the end, flying machines are trite, and the Great Wall of China fell to the popular form of the Emperor's conservatism: Chinese communism. Flying machines did render the wall obsolete, but the Emperor failed to see that the man's invention was in fact a cute little diorama of what was going on in the bigger picture. The lesson is that teleology has only hypothetical value, and that the hypothetical perspective can actually impair our judgement.

Maybe other people have said it better, but I haven't reflected on a better parable for this point. I guess there are innumerable little Zen stories that hammer the point home one little peck at a time. The key is, you want to create, and you want to understand and enjoy what you are doing. The trick is to stay connected with your world while still exercising judgement: or rather just remain constantly aware of how you are connected while you go about your mundane and great choices.

At this point I am spent, and by myself I can only think myself in circles.

All I can say is that if you truly feel "unhinged from the Sun" (as Nietzsche put it), I can tell you what you can do to get what you want, but it isn't going to be the kind of comfort you probably expect. I assure you this, I wish we all could get past this grief and get on with preparing for the storm. There's always one coming. It's a blessing to smell it before you get caught in it. Enjoy it.

The Courts

Journal: The Corporation

Journal by aphor

It is time to open discussion on the topic of reforming the US legal definition of a corporation. Lets pick up the questions, consider them heavily, and decide what should be done.

Why bother? I suggest that the status quo makes this line of inquiry interesting. To discover our questions, lets ponder the situation at-hand.

The situation at hand is ambigous because it has many factors that operate in different levels of abstraction of the world we share. For example, there is the American rationalist ideals of rights to life, liberty, and property taken from John Locke and the part it played in the Constitution of the United States. At odds with this is the brass-tacks level of State law which governs the way in which a State charters (legally recognises) corporations. On one hand, the supreme law of the US depends upon a kind of social contract (as explained by Locke), and on the other hand State corporate charters are treated as exemptions from that social contract. The fictional corporation is subject to the property rights of the shareholders, but the State has a conflict of interest between its corporate tax base and the social contract with the general public. It must enforce the corporate charter's explicit bias against the general public in the favor of the shareholders of corporations. It must not violate its constitutional social contract in the course.

Can a state grant powers in excess of the limited powers granted to the state? The powers (liberties and rights) of individuals are limited only by the rights of other individuals. Can a State manufacture individuals which are not bound by governmental limitations on power? What does the power of taxation do to the distinction between a governmental and nongovernmental charter?

User Journal

Journal: Reconstructing Iraq 1

Journal by aphor

Now that it's obvious we don't have WoMD in Iraq, and that G.W. was simply going along with Rumsfeld's fantastic adventure, we have to take full responsibility for the situation. Conceded that our elected officials and their advisory underlings want to set up an arab puppet-state in the Middle East, the devil is in the details, and we still need to know HOW we want them to go about the process.

For sure, it will be a constitutional democracy, but what will be in the articles of incorporation? Limits on the powers of government? Separation of Church and State? Freedom of Speech/Press? Quartering of Soldiers?

Democracy is a big lottery game. What exactly will the rules be? Parliamentary Democracy? Separation of Powers? Pluralist selection? Single Member Districts? What about the districts' boundaries? War debts? Hopefully we should answer these questions with the wisdom of our own experiences.

User Journal

Journal: War on Iraq?

Journal by aphor

Empty factories to the east and all our waste,
The shape of things that came shows on the broken worker's face.
To the west you'll find our silicon promised land where machines
relace our minds for systematic profit plans.
The course of human progress staggers like a drunk-
Its steps are quick and heavy and its mind is slow and blunt.
I look for optimism but I just don't know.
Its seeds are planned in a poison place where nothing grows.
It's 1989 stand up and take a look around
Weather's bitter tension it seems is sinking down.
Drunk with power and fighting one another every hour
Shows the winter getting harder.
There's a freeze up coming.
One nation stands the tallest radiating blinding light,
Plastic and flourescent energy robbing us of sight-
Set in our way, content with our decay,
We wave the flag of freedom as we conquer and invade-

Ever ask yourself where's my place in this hell?
But no one's there to tell you 'cause they don't know themselves
The well rehearsed lines from our elated politicians
No longer offer solace, we can see the self destruction
Just one political song to drop into the list this is years and years long

--Operation Ivy 1989

User Journal

Journal: Solaris Jumpstart -- DiskSuite root mirroring

Journal by aphor

Yesterday, I spent a 16 hour day at work trying to get 2 boxes to an identical install with SDS root disk mirroring. Oh the grief! Maybe I can save someone else a little pain!

First, I got a Cisco 4006 with a 10/100/1000Mbps blade. I don't care to learn IOS. I hate modeful user interfaces that don't report their defaults. Also, IOS desperately needs grep/sed/awk or damn it just throw perl on there! I digress. Someone else configured the switch for me. Let's just say Cisco and Sun ethernet speed/duplex autonegotiation is notoriously problematic. Word around the campfire is "hard-code both ends of the cable to max speed/duplex supported at both ends."

Apparently the SunFire 280R eri0 interface isn't appreciated by the Cisco until the Solaris driver takes over. The OpenBoot eeprom code just isn't good enough to get noticed. With FOUR devices/hosts on the switch, the jumpstart server never got 90% of the RARP requests for the good old 'boot net - install'. I plugged those boxes into an old DLink 10/100 hub, and the RARP/bootp/TFTP/bootp/NFS is like clockwork. If someone can furnish some IOS configs for a 4006 with a WS-X4448-GB-RJ45 GbE blade, I could appreciate that. :)

Next, my Flash Archives were broked. DON'T set up the metadb on the flar image master. The /etc/system and all the /etc/lvm files will be inconsistent with the jumpstart install's disks. Maybe some day we can make jumpstart install to SDS mirrored metadevices but not now (Sat Feb 8 19:45:39 CST 2003). Also, don't use compressed Flash Archives. The flar installer is broked and will choke on compressed flar's without warning. Also, don't waste your time trying to uncompress the compressed flar archive section (even though it's just a .cpio.Z) because the installer will still choke on the uncompressed version.

Also, don't think you're too slick and make your base-install flar from an extremely stripped-down file-inclusion list lacking say... /devices (because they get created based on the probed devicecs at install-time, right?) because the flar installer chokes if it can't sanitize the /devices tree after writing out the flar to the target disk(s).

If you're using the JASS kit, then make a dummy partition for /mnt and add a flar containing this script to your profile: (sorry, <ecode> tags chuck my indents, view source for cut&paste pleasure)

prtvtoc /dev/rdsk/c1t0d0s2 | fmthard -s - /dev/rdsk/c1t1d0s2

umount /mnt

metadb -a -f /dev/dsk/c1t0d0s6
metadb -a -f /dev/dsk/c1t1d0s6

cp /etc/vfstab /etc/vfstab.orig
[ -f /etc/vfstab.SDSroot ] && rm /etc/vfstab.SDSroot
cat /etc/vfstab.orig|sort|
while read line
echo $line |read dev rdev mp fst fsck boot opt
if [ ${fst}x = swapx ] || [ ${fst}x = ufsx ] && [ ${mp}x != /mntx ] &&
[ ${dev}x = `echo ${dev}|sed 's/#//'`x ]
Aslice=`echo ${dev}|sed '/\/dev\/dsk\//s///'`
Bslice=`echo ${Aslice}|sed '/c1t0/s//c1t1/'`
metainit -f d${i} 1 1 ${Aslice}
i=$(( ${i} + 1 ))
metainit -f d${i} 1 1 ${Bslice}
i=$(( ${i} + 1 ))
metainit -f d${i} -m ${subA}
echo metattach ${mir} ${subB} >> /
i=$(( ${i} + 1 ))
[ ${fst} = ufs ] && opt=logging
echo "/dev/md/dsk/${mir}\t/dev/md/rdsk/${mir}\c" >&5
echo "\t${mp}\t${fst}\t${fsck}\t${boot}\t${opt}" >&5
[ ${mp}x != /mntx ] && echo ${line} >&5
) 5> /etc/vfstab.SDSroot

metaroot d2
cp /etc/vfstab.SDSroot /etc/vfstab && reboot

Run the script after you boot your newly installed system, let it reboot, and then run

sh /

. If you're really slick, you'll post a few extra lines of script to make the SDS metadb go on slice 7 in the last n=(${METADB_SIZE}/${CLUSTERSIZE}) of the disk.

User Journal

Journal: Looking back at the W32.SLAMMER

Journal by aphor

I feel bad for Microsoft. There are a lot of real people working for that company who have been led to believe that what they are doing is good for people. More and more they will recieve disheartening news that something they were involved in caused massive problems.

Any way you look at it the facts are depressing. A lot of people will have to resort to their psychological defense mechanisms. They will deny the truth. They will project the problem onto others to dissociate themselves. They will sublimate it by burying themselves in other work. They will probably intellectualize it the most.

All of this prevents people from being happy, and these are the forgotten victims: the perpetrators themselves! I suppose there may be a few truly evil people at Microsoft. Those people are manipulating hundreds if not thousands of employees and other workers against hundreds of thousands if not millions of other people. All of the money in the world will not satisfy the tragic thirst of these businessmen. The apple pulls away from them as the lumbering mob of employees falls down on the job.

No, Microsoft will not take over the world. They do not have the power. They aren't good enough. They also aren't good enough to set us free. What use are they? We use their toys for the sole purpose of amusing a few very-very overpaid sickos who *wish* either that they could rule the world or that they could make some lasting and benevolent mark on the world.

What in the hell do we need them for? Don't we have our own lives? Machiavelli says we serve their interests because we believe that serving them serves our own interests. They make the paychecks don't they? They also supply everything we buy to live! It's like the old manorial system, but on a global scale with corporations instead of manorial lords controlling the economy and the vassals' lives.

Looking at the W32.SLAMMER, you KNOW we can do better. The problem is: Can we BUY better? If not, then we should MAKE better. For all the dot-com boom the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, and the upper-middle racheted up to a slightly better but still vulnerable position. WTF happened to "growing the pie?" Isn't the increased economic output supposed to pay for things like the integrity of the economy itself? If Microsoft software is such an enabling force, why can't it hold itself up?

I hope some of them can see the truth: It's crap. It's no way to live your life. Wake up in the morning and say "I'm going to do something RIGHT today." Leave Microsoft and start your own software company! Do it because YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WORKING FOR THE BAD GUY. It's not your fault. You can take the first step. Dream of living for your own moral satisfaction. Give up the stock options. They are a pyramid scheme and you are NOT on the top. Cut your losses and stand on your own two feet.

Nobody deserves to suffer that way.


Journal: Graph for Limekiller4 regarding plastic magnet products

Journal by aphor

This graph is intended to answer "Temperature Issues (Score:5) by limekiller4 (451497) on Sat 04 Jan 04:47AM (#5013569). Please post comments there. :).

Odds of marketing a product to consumers
by ability to achieve cold temperatures.

1:1 ......|* . . . . . . . . . . .
1:1E1.....|*..* . . . . . . . . .
1:1E10 ...|*..*...*. . . . . . . .
1:1E100 ..|*..*...*...* . . . . .
1:1E1000 .|*..*...*...*....* . . .
1:1E10000 |*..*...*...*....*....*
-chances- ------------------------
. . . . . .0 -10 -50 -100 -200 -269
. . . . . . . temperature Celcius

Source: pulled directly from my comedic ass!


Journal: Apache/PHP/MySQL

Journal by aphor

I got the sparcv9 build of Apache2, PHP4, and MySQL 3.23.5x running on Solaris 8.

Now I want myodbc so I can use OpenOffice on my TiBook OS 10.2.2 to administer the backend of my A/P/M triad on the Solaris box.

Problem: The OSX iodbc driver doesn't want to load the myodbc3.dylib. OS-X otool likes it just fine. iODBC rejects it before even calling dyld. Nothing in Google to help me out... :(

User Journal

Journal: gcc-3.2.1 on Solaris 8

Journal by aphor

I'm trying to bootstrap gcc-3.2.1 on Solaris 8. The testsuite is not building. Crap. I just found out that gcc-3.1.1 blows up running from a DiskSuite stripe set. Data keeps getting fed into the compile stream from the preprocessor PAST THE END OF THE FILE!!!! Crap.



I want to build a sparcv9 Apache/PHP/MySQL package.


Anything free is worth what you pay for it.