Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Journal Journal: Microsoft follows US government policy on UN

The New York Times has a story about Microsoft withdrawing from an international committee on software standards sponsored by the UN. Similar to the pattern of behavior exhibited by the United States Federal Government, Microsoft feels compelled to participate with the UN not as a collaborator, but as a master.


Journal Journal: P2P programmers can breathe for a while

New York Times reports on 19-aug-04 "A federal appeals court has upheld a controversial court decision that said file-sharing software programs such as Grokster or Morpheus are legal." Will the industry give up the fight or will they continue to look for ways into this?


Journal Journal: Love thy neighbor... as a potential victim

We all know that, while you're at work, your employer has every right to monitor your e-mail because they own the e-mail servers. They can monitor your web sites because they own the firewalls and routers. They even monitor your desktop, screen, and files because they own the hardware. This has led, in the past, to some heated debate over employees' rights and the answer has been grim. The hinge is on motive: unless an employee can claim that an employer's actions were motivated by discimination against a legally defined and protected group then the employee essentially has no rights.

At home questionable software piggybacks along with desired software to collect user's information and use it to stock databases which can be licensed for a profit. This practice is coming under fire as politicians and CEOs themselves become targeted and begin to show indignation at having their personal lives invaded. The argument continues to be over what information is legally owned by the user and what information can they sign away with the ubiquitous acceptance of an all-encompassing EULA?

I feel that the two worlds are quickly going to meet head on especially if I antagonize them. What information is legally owned by the employee and what information can the employer take away with the ubiquitous signing of an employee agreement? If I begin to record my voting record, bank statements, PIN numbers, debit card transactions, credit card numbers, and my current reading habits in plain text on my personal, password-protected, computer at work can my employer legally assume ownership of that information to begin siphoning off my bank account? If my manager disapproves of Prozac, Viagra, or even Advil is he allowed to regale me with his viewpoints every day just because he was allowed to see my pharmacy purchases on my work computer? If he doesn't like my voting habits can he be allowed to ratchet down the quality control around my neck to pressure me into compliance or leaving? If my manager reads my bank statements and knows that I can't save a dime because I'm paying bills should he be allowed to constantly hold me up to 120% standards knowing that I can't afford to leave?

Forget the "it's just stupid to do that" rebuttal from the security standpoint. Assume that I have no worries about security and I want to test the integrity of the system which passes multibillion dollar spending measures from the pulpit of morality.

Let's get this straight: I'm all for spying on my neighbor, invading their privacy, selling them off for a profit, and nickel and diming away their tax money on my own favorite pet projects especially ones which will increase my ability to spy on my neighbor. If I start a company, encourage my neighbor to be my employee and give him a computer how far can I work him over before he finally has a legitimate legal case against me?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Tell-tale signs

A funny thing happened in lab today...

We had ordered a number of compounds which have a high "stink" factor due to their chemical nature. They were still in boxes this morning and I was walking in to open the boxes, inventory the compounds, and prepare the paperwork to have them checked into lab. As I'm opening the boxes the senior chemist in lab is engaging me in mild conversation about the nature of the project which will make use of the compounds. As we're chatting I vent a little from the backside. I notice the odor immediately.

A few seconds later the senior member of lab says,"Wow! I can smell those chemicals already. The other guy at the other facility warned me not to even open the boxes outside of the hood."

I reply flatly,"I think that's just the morning coffee."

And he comes back indignantly,"No, I think it's the chemicals because so-and-so said that they were pretty stinky."

So wait. I know the smell of my own butt. I got a good example of it waiting for the bus to work this morning. This guy is telling me that the power of his PhD, his social connections, and his years of experience are more reliable than me knowing when my own body has passed gas?

It's a funny story but this is just an example. In the past six years, even when I know I'm right, I'm second guessed by the guy above me. For lab gas it's no big deal but it becomes an issue when it starts to involve the actual job and I have to suffer because he's chasing reagents to catch the smell of my rear end.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Here's one for hope

When you're stuck in hell you can't call a foul on the devil. He runs the place.

In any contact sport there are offensive and defensive fouls. The line between them is clearly defined in the rulebook but, on the playing field, the line blurs as the players come closer together. The typical definition of an offensive foul is contact between players where the defensive player has maintained a static position. It is up to the judge to decide whether or not the twitch of an eyelid as the offensive player charged headlong into the defender constitutes a change from a static position to an active role.

In hell the devil will always make you flinch. Even if you don't flinch the devil has the consensus. Documenting the foul only makes the situation worse.

Corporate America is a contact sport. Greed and opportunism are prevailing traits in many managers. If an employee isn't graced with a cooperative and good-hearted manager then their only hope when confronted with a greedy and opportunistic manager is that someone else in a higher position will notice the mistreatment. Corporate America must back its managers, though, to avoid expensive settlements with employees who have been mistreated. The corporate system has evolved so that upper level managers are sufficiently distanced from the everyday activities of the middle managers, and the middle from the lower, so that there can be no objective policing.

There is only one possibility. That is to remain as stoic as possible and trust in hope to...


User Journal

Journal Journal: Getting close to the end

A long time ago someone in a high position was allowed to spread the rumor that "this guy needs to be taken down a few notches." Since then, no matter how much effort I put into something, I'm met with people who take great delight in using their elevated position (whether it be social, professional, or just seniority) to take me down a notch or two.

So I lose on both fronts. I can't advance because I'm haunted by this label and I keep losing my best ideas to managers that threaten me with accusations of "not a team player" or "insubordination" if I don't do their job for them or insist on doing my job my way, respectively.

It's a useless fight to be pressured from one side to perform, cut down with reverse psychology criticism from people who are never satisfied, and humbled from a third side by people who suffer jealousy.

User Journal

Journal Journal: fsck everything

Today I narrowly avoided a land mine with management. Once again I'm accused of "not seeing eye to eye with the senior member of the group." I refuse to apoligize or play lackey for my perceptive ability.

As usual, management will drone on with,"Just follow the leader and, if anything goes wrong, the responsibility rests with the leader." I know from experience that this is not so. If anything goes wrong the leader shuffles all the blame down the line. No one ever backchecks the captain if all problems were solved by hanging a sailor. Problems can be hidden for a long time when a new crew is brought on board. People have short memories and no one ever remembers the details of the last hanging.

While that situation didn't reach a head today I can easily see where the track is running. Two, three, or four months down the road the process will be repeated. The groundwork has been laid for a witch-hunt even though I've been delicately careful to keep my better judgements to myself. There's just no nice or acceptable way to say things that the listener doesn't want to hear.

Things got worse from there. Just after my meeting with the management my roomate approached me with,"Sorry for the inconvenience but could you please move out within a week?" I get the distinct impression that my three month stay here, coupled with my willingness to pay ahead, has done little more than to fund her happy vacation to Hawaii.

So now I'm stuck with a decision. I can lace up my boots, go to my storage locker and retrieve my sleeping bag and tent, take what meagre savings I have, leave all of my earthly possessions behind, and head for southern California for lack of anyplace better to go (and hope to starve to death or get eaten by a hungry bear before any hick-toothed policeman lays eyes on an easy target a la "Deliverance" style). I can choose to stick it out in a corporate environment where the wave of an expensive graduate degree or the seniority card validates gossip, hearsay, and opinions over cold intellectual fact.

While the latter option sounds warmer and more comfortable for a potentially longer length of time the housing situation certainly mediates that. I know the world doesn't care. It's a cold hard reality of life. Why is it so hard to simply exist without all of this fighting and turmoil?

I'm probably going to stick it out at least until the weekend. There's a good possibility I'll be lacing up my boots by Sunday.

oh, and one more thing, "for i in { ,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8}; do for l in {a,c}; do dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hd$l$i bs=1024 count=2; done; done"

That may take some tweaking but it'll probably be easier to use bash's nifty history mechanism and do them one at a time. I'll be dead before I freely give away my Debian, LFS, and Win98SE installs to a vampiric roommate. If she ever does manage to get an OS installed on her own I hope she gets hacked.

User Journal

Journal Journal: America's double standard

In America your employer has the right to monitor each and every transmission that's made to and from each and every PC on their network. Additionally they have the right to scan each and every hard drive on each and every PC on their network; They also have the right to take any action, disciplinary, remedial, or otherwise, based upon information that they gather from this monitoring and scanning. The driving force of logic behind this is "because they bought the hardware and they pay for the network."

Why can't we, as home users, enforce this same Gestapo level remedial and disciplinary action based upon results of our monitoring and scanning at home? It's _our_ hardware and _our_ network and _they're_ using it in a fashion which we haven't approved and we don't deem suitable.

Every troll out there will say,"You can. You are free to install firewalls and packet logs." To this I answer,"Where's the enforcement?" Why am I not allowed to put these cookie serving sites on a 30-day performance improvement plan until they quit loading _my_ hardware and _my_ network with their junk? Why can't I take disciplinary action against the company which puts the "15% off printer cartridges" splash screen ad on my desktop? I watch real-time packet monitors every evening and see scans for port forwarders, bouncers, and "remote administration tools" on a continuous basis. The implications are horrifying. If my network would have even one of these remote adminstration tools or viruses on it then any professional, legal, financial, or other information would be instantly available to an entire world of script kiddies.

It's like standing in line, anywhere, and being hassled every five minutes by a different patron reaching into your pocket. "Sorry, just checking to see if you were watching your wallet", is all they say as they walk away every time you catch a hand digging towards your jewels. Why do I have no opportunity to sue the EVER LOVING BEEJEEZUS out of these would-be thieves, pranksters, and hijackers?

The answer my friends is exactly as the trolls say,"You can". But unless you have enormous sums of money to feed to attorneys the courts will tell you to bugger off because you're not a big enough fish to have your rights protected in the same way that we give the Nazi power to employers.

Your rights online? This is America's double standard. You only have the rights which you can afford with the almighty dollar.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why is life... static?

What skills do I have that can advance my life?

-- I can build Linux from scratch systems.
Seemingly this is unimportant to the world as the majority of people are quite happy using MS compatible products.

-- I can write basic shell script, Pascal, and am learning C.
I haven't worked with any large scale coding projects in over ten years. My skills are rusty at best. I'm currently working on writing a small C program to aid with my automated LFS installation.

-- I am a well-rounded medicinal chemist.
Seemingly this is unimportant without a PhD. I don't have the monetary resources to fund a PhD venture. I am made ill by people with ample financial backing who preach about the availability of grants, fellowships and internships.

-- I can operate NMR equipment.
Seemingly unimportant without a PhD specific to this task.

-- I can identify and avoid pyramid schemes.
Seemingly this is unimportant since the entire US economy functions as a pyramid scheme. It takes money to make money. I am made ill by people with ample financial and legal backing who preach about copyrights and patents.

-- I have high moral and ethical values and standards.
Seemingly this in unimportant. In order to advance from poverty it seems that one must be willing to take advantage of others. I don't take advantage. On occasions where I've been presented with advantage I've been subject to such intense scrutiny that if I take it I've been punished for acting out of place or not sharing with others.

-- I can make diligent and reliable commitments to projects.
Seemingly this is unimportant because, in the past, my commitment has only served to advance the career and esteem of my managers while earning me little more than intense scrutiny and criticism for even the slightest imperfection.

In essence my good qualities have gotten me nowhere and my bad qualities have been used against me with the ferocity one would typically expect to be served to a murderer. Nothing but the worst for me. I exist seemingly only to serve others. Any attempt at self-advancement has been met with punishment from those already in financially secure environments.

My last job treated me like "the family dog". Where are my reparations? There are none. The legal system provides no protection for young single white heterosexual males without a legally defined disability. My family treated me like a "model child".

Am I slated to become an "urban hermit"? Sadly it appears so.

I don't socialize spontaneously with strangers. It has never turned out well for me yet I'm repeatedly told to "go out for a walk and see what happens" or "take a train to New York and see what happens" or "take the bus around town and see what happens". I've tried all of these things multiple times. Nothing happens.

So I continue to live without a car, stuffing my worldly possessions into a storage locker and an 8x10 spare bedroom in a small overpriced apartment that I share with a roommate.


User Journal

Journal Journal: The world is ending

I don't really have a problem with people installing Linux just as an average user and getting an easy install. What I worry about is that, due to the top-down corporate Big Brother iron fist that rules our society, when BigBrotherEasyInstallLinux becomes popularly accepted (and funded through lucrative and huge government partnerships), will Debian be made illegal because it's different? If BBEI-Linux is easy to install, easy to use, and what the population is familiar with then the logical next question for the clueless majority is: "Why would anyone want to use Debian if it's difficult to install and maintain?" The logical next answer from the clueless majority is: *in low tones* "It's a _hacker_ distribution. They're doing things they shouldn't be doing."

Someone commented that I'm obsessed with the hacker mythos. Okay, maybe I am a little. But to appease the trolls we'll do it this way:

The logical next question for the clueless majority is: "Why would anyone want to use Debian if it's difficult to install and maintain?" The logical next answer from the clueless majority is: "They wouldn't. Therefore they don't need to because we don't see a need for them to. Therefore anyone who is must be bad because we don't see a need for them to use it. Therefore we will make it illegal (or file some willy-nilly intellectual property infringement suit against them) because we don't see why they aren't using BigBrotherEasyInstall-Linux."

So you see, once the population has EasyInstallBigBrother-Linux, water-cooler gossips will come to kill Debian.

It would be better for the world to end.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Happy LFS

I made it. I made my goal. By the end of Sunday night, before I went to bed, I had successfully checked Hotmail (ensuring PSM) in Mozilla, was happily connected to my favorite IRC networks, and was playing CDs and streaming audio from the network. UDE handles my windows and Qiv handles the background. Shaded and faded aterms make for attractive looking workspace. /etc/X11/app-default/XTerm needs some tweaking, though. Xterms aren't accepting select and paste using gpm. There's also the issue with the delete key. There's an LFS hint about keymapping and interpreting.

Libmpeg required an explicit endian #define on the K6-3. Firefox won't start on either system (the P2 or the K6-3), complaining about an invalid function on line 451 of I built mozilla three times. The first time I built it and forgot --enable-crypto. You'd think that'd be a default. The second time I built it verbatim by the bLFS book. Before I went to bed last night I rebuilt mozilla again trying to pare down the amount of excess configure flags. This morning I did "make install" and skirted all of the other stuff in the bLFS book just to see if it works. It does.

Funny thing is that after checking my Hotmail, doing some other stuff, and coming back to check Hotmail again, mozilla crashed claiming a segmentation fault at line 451 of That is the same line that causes Firefox to refuse to start on my machines. I thought about submitting a bug report but don't feel like taking the time to rebuild mozilla _again_ with the debugging and test output. It takes four hours to build that beast on the P2 400 and the K6-3 400.

Today I formally mapped out the process of my LFS installation scripts. Tonight I'll install emacs, tidy up the scripts, and maybe submit them to the lfs mailing lists. Now that I've mapped out the structure it's becoming easier to identify the functions (subroutines) that I will need to write if I want to code them in C. I'd like to do that.

Maybe I should write them in x86 asm. I'd probably never have the time in a lifetime to write all of the subroutines necessary to pull that off. Then again, it's really nothing more than a little disk I/O and getting a few inputs from the user. The learning curve to figuring out the environment of x86 asm would be harder than actually writing all of the loops.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Moving sideways in the world

It'll be happy hour at 5 pm.

After happy hour I will go home and bludgeon freetype 2.1.7 with a really big stick. I could use freetype 2.1.5 but I think I've figured out how to properly include ft2build.h so that xft will properly build the X FreeType backend needed by pango (needed by gtk+). Then I will bludgeon xft 2.1.2. Then I will bludgeon pango 1.4.0. The I will bludgeon atk, and expat, and libIDL, and glib and, once all the preliminary bludgeoning is done, then I will bludgeon gtk+ and mozilla. That's just on elemental.

While I am bludgeoning all of these things on elemental I will bludgeon Xf86 CVS 26-Mar-04 on g0lem. There's nothing more fulfilling than waiting for make World on a P2-400 only to have make install puke off with " unexpected end of file". After that I will repeat the bludgeoning from elemental on g0lem. After that bludgeoning then I will bludgeon g0lem until it tells me why there is no /proc/bus/usb even after usbcore.o and uhci.o have been modprobed. Then I will bludgeon g0lem to find out why net.ipv4.ip_forward=0 when /etc/sysctl.conf explicitly sets it to 1. Then I will bludgeon g0lem into properly setting up /etc/sysconfig/network-devices/ifup-ath0 so that my wireless network card can be brought up and down without manually setting it up with iwconfig.

Once the bludgeoning has stopped and both machines seem to be properly bludgeoned then I will cd /mnt/hda4 && rm -rf * on both of them. I will update my bash scripts, check the kernel configs, and start everything over from scratch.

If the bludgeoning has been completed successfully I should have fully functional and capable LFS systems on hda4 on both elemental and g0lem before going to sleep Sunday night.

Stop snickering. It could happen.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Friends, fans, foes, freaks...

Nothing puzzles me more than being Foed by a user that I've never discussed anything with. It'd be like driving down the road and having some unknown person flip you the bird. I'm left thinking,"okay? what's this all about?" I'm just as puzzled by a user that Foes me after a single disagreement on one topic list. I don't see disagreements as reasons to Foe people.

Disagreements are opportunities to stand in the other person's shoes and attempt to see things from their point of view. Most often when I stand in someone else's shoes I find their shoes pretty small, sheltered, and narrow-minded. Their shoes may be comfortable but, by wearing such small and comfortable shoes, they tend to act as if there is no possible way that there could be anything wrong with the world. I wear much larger and much less comfortable shoes but, by doing so, I tend to empathize with the problems that are faced in the real world.

Perhaps I chastise naivete too often. Perhaps people see me as mean or unfeeling. This is not true. If the world were perfect then there would be no disagreements. By simple virtue of being alive it is the DUTY of every responsible human being to actively empathize with others in less priveleged and less comfortable positions.

So the next time you feel like adding me to your Foes list perhaps you need to take a deep breath and look to yourself. Are you really doing everything you can to make the world a better place or are you an opportunist that derives amusement from antagonizing people who didn't get the same silver spoon helping that you did?

User Journal

Journal Journal: A business model

Inevitably someone else will be able to take advantage and make this idea work profitably, but I'm still going to write it down because it's a good idea. Ideally I'd be the one to implement it (because I'd like to become financially self-sufficient) but I just don't have the startup capital for it.

We need open source ISPs. I'm not specifically talking about the hardware and software used by the ISP. It would be nice to have all the hardware and software open sourced to avoid hypocrisy but that's really irrelevant.

We need ISPs that rely on open source users as their customer base.

Current ISPs support Windows users. That means that they have a high overhead devoted to security, support, fighting viruses, fighting drone boxes, fighting spam, and compiling the proprietary privacy violating lists that they sell to any marketer that comes calling at their door. That means that we, the open source users who maintain our own systems, suffer two offenses.

First: the cost of our service is escalated to cover the loss on the Windows users. This is a system that (hopefully) more people will come to understand. Any time a business loses money (for example, supporting clueless computer users) the profit margin is buffered by passing the cost onto another segment of the client base (the competent computer users). Distributed over the entire customer base this may not add up to much per user but it means a whole schload of cash to the business.

Second: Our open source dollars, as a collective open source user base, gets funneled into funding closed source systems. This is the real offense. Per user we may be paying only $2-$3 more per month but, as a collective of 100 million open source users, that's $200-$300 million per month that we put into funding the proprietary software/security paranoia industry. I'm not talking about the gaming industry. They need to be proprietary to make money. I'm talking about things like trusted computing, and BIOS monitoring, and Windows tech support. We, the open source community, lose our hard-earned money to all of that. Our open source dollars help fund the band-aids that combat zombie Windows drone boxes sitting on cable modems all over the world. Wouldn't it be better if we could spend that $200-$300 million per month funding open source awareness and better security at the OS level rather than the ISP level?

We need an ISP that relies on an open source client base and the clients need to be dedicated. For only $2-$3 less per month they'll get less customer support from the ISP but they'll also be consolidating their financial contribution AWAY from the Microsoft/TCPA/Palladium style movements. Users of open source OSs are much more likely to zero and reinstall their systems at the first sign of suspicious syslogs or odd system behavior. Windows users will happily use a zombied box for years until the system flat out refuses to boot.

An open source ISP would benefit the network as a whole because it would host fewer zombie/rooted boxes for shorter periods of time. Without the open source dollars the Windows ISPs wouldn't be able to financially afford dealing with an incompetent and unattentive user base. They simply wouldn't have our money to leech from.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr