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Slashback: Picnic, Sperling, Quickliness 116

Slashback tonight with more on the Linux anniversary (thanks to the guys from C4 Solutions for the microfeast celebration, at which we did mention that it was the anniversary), Brian K. West and the Good Samaritan story, booting really really fast, and more.

Now where can we rent giant Tux costumes for such events? You've already seen Marc Merlin's report on the Big Event, but an Anonymous Brave Guy pointed out a piece over at the BBC about people's mostly-mushy feelings about the current 10-year Linux streak, noting that "It's worth reading just for the post on airlines from 'Lee, UK'. :-)" (Oldie-but-goodie, defined.)

And Totally_Tux writes: "LAN parties are generally associated with LAN gaming. The South Australian Linux group though recently held the Linux InstallFest 2001 that aimed at introducing Linux to new users by helping them install the OS onto their notebooks and desktop PCs and holding talks last Saturday. The InstallFest was also marked by a tenth birthday celebration to Linux's Tux persona on the 25th of August. This short article includes some shots from that day. Read about InstallFest 2001 here."

So you wanna make your box jump to life? Many readers were interested in General Software's slimmed-down, quick-booting experimental system; General's Steve Jones writes: "In order to accommodate the numerous requests for more information about the General Software Quick Boot Soyo Experiment, we've set-up a web page, and also an email alias for additional direct queries. The web page contains more details about the project, and a FAQ which the company would like to update based on inquiries to the email address."

Call Occam, ask him to bring his biggest razor. gh0ul writes: "Sheldon Sperling of the DOJ has sent out his own press release regarding last week's Report Security Problems, Face The Consequences story. Brian K. West's defence team has posted their own reply to Sheldon's release here ..."

To help you laugh through the tears: A nameless reader wants you to know that the "BBC's Radio 4 is repeating all 12 episodes from the two series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy originally broadcast in 1978 and 1980. Wednesdays, 5 September -- 21 November, 6.30pm UK time (17:30 UTC until 2001-10-28, then 18:30 UTC.) Listen here."

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Slashback: Picnic, Sperling, Quickliness

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  • Seems that the rebroadcasting of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is in Real(Player) format. That pisses me off. How I loathe realplayer...
    • A little obliquely off topic: I certainly agree with the sentiment, however its a rights issue apparently. As far as the solicitors of the BBC and the production companies are concerned, Realplayer clips arent considered to be of production quality, thus less of an contractual issue or whatever
    • by 4n0nym0u53 C0w4rd ( 463592 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @08:39PM (#2227920) Homepage
      For fun, try downloading and installing the RealPlayer on a windows machine. The fun includes:
      • Trying to find the link to the free basic RealPlayer on their web site. (this includes closing pop up windows trying to sell you the Plus version)
      • submitting fake identification to avoid marketing spam during the install
      • taking back the associated file extensions (even after indicating that you didn't want them associated to begin with)
      • closing the "RealPlayer StartCenter" and removing it from the startup group (and dealing with the scary warnings in doing so)
      • getting rid of the channels and other ad content on the player itself (note that not all crap can be removed)
      • disabling "entertainment flashes"
      • disabling the ability of streamed media to open your web browser (why the hell?)
      • turning off upgrade notifications (for 30 days at least)
      • disabling "product flashes"
      • turning off the options that send usage data to RealNetworks and to the content provider
      • disabling cookies
      My god, all I want to do is watch and listen to streaming media. Remember when Real stood up to MS and they were the good guys? Now, they have more crap and bloat and privacy infringing garbage than anything MS has offered. It's just a media player dammit.

      Don't even get me started on RealNetworks and Major League Baseball charging for network access to radio feeds. They are paid by the stations and now they expect fans to pay too... And their service sucks...

      Of course, H2G2 is really cool...

      • Damn, you mean I'm not the only person who does this? That freakin' program is so unbelievably annoying, that I won't even let users install it themselves because they'll definitely screw it up. I always make sure I install that piece of crap before giving out a new machine. That way I won't have to worry about the host of other BS that program tries to pimp on you over time. (real download, WTF is that anyway?) Let us not forget Gator, or Webshots, or that stupid ass WeatherBug that people seem to love so much. Gator, now there's a program that gives Real a run for its money. All of this usually accompanies AIM, Yahoo pager, chat, and anything else you can think of that constantly wants to be using up your system's precious memory in windows... Ugh! Thank God for Linux on my own machine!
      • Actually, there was some setting, I think it was the filenames to associate...

        All of the visible boxes were cleared. But if you SCROLLED DOWN, every other box (previously hidden) was SELECTED.

        That just strikes me as dishonest.

        And lets not forget the mandatory ad popup when you try to close the player.

        And the fact that 99% of the time I can't seem to get past the company firewall to stream anything, although the MS player works 99% of the time.

        RealPlayer is apparently some new variant of Pure Evil that I wasn't previously made aware of.
      • Fixing Windows (Score:3, Informative)

        by Spy Hunter ( 317220 )
        Here's a tip for those using Windows (out of necessity, hopefully) that could cut down on the "I've gotta reinstall because its getting slow" syndrome. It decreases startup time, increases reliability, disables annoying registration reminders/update notifiers/misc. crap (such as RealPlayer), and generally makes your computing experience better.

        Click Start->Run... and type in msconfig.exe. The "System Configuration Utility" will come up, allowing you to do all sorts of cool things to Windows. The most important is the "Startup" tab. Go there and look at the checkboxes. These allow you to selectively disable _all_ programs that get started when your computer starts (even those not shown in the Startup folder in the Start menu).

        Even if you uncheck all the boxes (even the important-sounding ones such as scanRegistry or TaskMonitor), your computer will still start up and work fine. I've tried it. So go crazy! Uncheck anything having to do with RealPlayer, or anything that sounds suspicious. To find out what some of the more obscure programs do, try pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete and killing them selectively, then seeing if you notice the difference. Common ones are the on-screen displays for keyboards with Internet buttons, antivirus tray icons, software registration reminders, automatic Internet update checkers, RealPlayer, scanner software, and AOL/AIM tray icons. By only checking the things you want, you can eliminate useless crap and take control of what programs do to your system.

        If you see something called WebHancer or SaveNow, UNCHECK its box with EXTREME PREJUDICE! These are evil spyware/forced advertising programs that are using your computer for their nefarious purposes.

        If you do this for your parents, they will be forever grateful.

        Another great way to "fix" Windows is Microsoft's TweakUI. If you are a computer geek running Windows and you don't have TweakUI, get it now! Its a great control panel applet that allows you to customize Windows features that you can't customize anywhere else. Get it from Microsoft (search their site, its available for all versions of Windows if you look hard enough, even though its not supported it works perfectly).

        • I've been using msconfig in Win98 for a couple years now and it works great. I don't even use tweakUI or any of the similar utilities out there anymore since msconfig provides all the functionality I used from them and more. If you're checking it out, you should take a look under the Advanced button on the main tab, among other things you can configure win98 to use more than 256M RAM. It's really a great utility.

          Anyone know where I can find an equivalent for win2k?

      • Not only that, but they ass-rape you on licenses for the server. It's no wonder everyone is moving to Windows Media format. It's better quality, and believe it or not, MS actually ass-rapes you less than Real after you're done buying licenses for the OS and whatever else you need to stream in WM format.

        assrape_level(real_server on any OS) > assrape_level(WM server + Win2k License)

        Sad but true. If only there was a decent, free, enterprise quality streamer for linux.
        • MS actually ass-rapes you less than Real after you're done buying licenses for the OS and whatever else you need to stream in WM format.

          This is how monopolies work. They'll do anything to gain market domination. It doesn't have to make money. It doesn't have to be legal. (You can always pay whatever fines are imposed -- but at least you "own" the entire market.)

          Since MS doesn't own the streaming media yet, they'll play nice. Even perhaps give it away, ala Internet Explorer. But you can bet it won't be free forever.

          I will make a prediction. (Apply this to WM as you will.) Eventually MS will achieve some major technological advance which will enable them to seperate IE from Windows. Right now you pay a price of $x for Windows. But once they unbundle, you'll hear big news of how this lowers prices and is good for everyone! New windows unbundled(tm) is at the lower price of $y! (where $y < $x) And you can buy IE for only $29.99. But you can bet that $y + $29.99 will be > $x was. And in a couple more years, you'll be able to buy the "new" bundled version of Win + IE for a low discounted cost of $z. ($z < $y + $29.99, but also $z > $x)

          How does this apply to WM? WM doesn't own the market yet. So MS will play nice. (Remember all those free copies of J++ ??)

          Remember IBM during the 50's, 60's and 70's? Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Monopolists follow a pattern. Read the book "Big Blue: IBM's use and abuse of power".
    • you heard me. get the whole series in mp3 format from audiogalaxy []. just search for it, it's all there. linux client available.
      • It's a perennial favourite anyways, but when Adams died it set off a new round of posting/requesting.
    • At least it's not QuickTime. ;-)

      (personally I'd rather it were, but I'm on a Mac.)
  • Wow thats great news ! and it's good that it's in realplayer .. no more of going to windoze to listen to them.
  • Try contacting the Danish Unix User Group that lends out this Tux costume []
  • the doj letter reminds me of the song by ronin.
    so typically diplomatic .. really it's an art to write such a long letter without saying anything.
  • ...Linux users come up with a way to increase their OS flavour of choice from its current .00937% market share to something more impressive.
  • from the dept.

    what's with this ip? drop it in netscape and nothin, whois is blank. The reverse is nothin, google gives me nothin. Damn it, I hate jokes that I can't understand!

  • from the linuxfreak artical:

    >>Third, senders of certain kinds of SPAM (not the lunch meat) may also be subjected to criminal prosecution under this statute.

    SPAM (upper case) is a lunch meat and a trademark of Hormel.
    spam (lower case) is unwanted email.

  • and what did he do to deserve this?

    from the dept.

    to save you the time :)

    [stewart@byte stuff]# host is an alias for domain name pointer

  • from the dept.

    Could anyone explain the significance of this IP address to me?

  • They're trying to slashdot somebody by posting their IP and making everybody curious (I pinged too).
  • I wonder whether the rebroadcast will include the Pink Floyd bit (when the gang first sets foot on some planet)? That was funny, but I heard or read that it was removed from subsequent broadcasts due to "copyright issues" or something.

    (How some 20-odd seconds of music, clearly used as a parody, can be copyright infringement, I'm not sure. But I've still got that short segment of the show "memorized", and they can't jail me for playing it back in my own head! Not yet anyway! Free Dmitri! Free Dmitri!!! ;-)

  • I apologize for being rather offtopic, but what's up with no more quickies? I personally enjoy the quickies a bit, but all I get are these silly slashbacks! What's up?
  • Wow. I am constantly reminded how clueless the folks are who make legal decisions in so-called "developed nations".

    Of course this dude found the hole by accident! Tech support folks are always poking and prodding to see how things break. It's called "problem solving" and the DOJ should look into it.

    I mean, I have personally reported security holes to webmasters on three separate occasions. In one case, browsing to the right URL got you a dirlist which showed a bunch of .txt files. Again: of course I looked in these files. They were in a public location. That's the point.

    How is it my fault that the files contained credit card information (including expiry dates) with associated personal information (in some cases, Social Insurance Numbers (it was a Canadian site, eh)?

    If it was a wallet, I'd look for a name and address and return it, wouldn't I? Why am I suspect if I pick up the wallet in the first place?

    Even if the so-called hacker is suspect, it is often recommended to legal types to do their homework and investigate before flying off the handle. Where there is one hacker, there's three. Why not try and catch a few more, especially if they are stupid enough to contact you about their "exploits" using a valid email return email address.

    I bet he had his telephone number in his .sig, as well. Must be some hacker. Totally above the law.

    I'll stop now. This much sarcasm is not good for me, and I'm starting to feel all superiour to the government, again.
  • Second, everyone who places Cookies on millions of computers around the world without the authorization of internet users could be criminally prosecuted under this statute, particularly in light of the statute's definitions of "protected computer" and "exceed authorized access."

    No one places cookies on other people's computers. People download and store cookies on their own initiative. Web browser == user agent, therefore a user is responsible for what his web browser does.

  • Please remember to remove your tux suit while in the woods during hunting season as not to confuse any drunk hunters.
  • None of the mechanics are quite sure where the planes are because they haven't had to work on them for years. All the planes are pilotless and are controlled by a single operator who just does periodic health checks. The passengers hand their tickets to a boarding attendant and then walk through a hallway. At the other end they step out at their destination, never realizing they were even on an airplane.
  • West's lawyers state: If this case goes to trial, the Microsoft personnel who developed these programs will likely be subpoenaed as witnesses by Mr. West's defense team. Or if it is found that this software contributed to, participated in or caused the events under investigation to occur, Microsoft could be indicted under the same statute.

    That should rack up some billable hours for West's defense team.

    Trying to distract from the facts of the case by raising the issue of Microsoft's complicity suggests that the West may not have such a strong case. It's as if an accused murder based his defense on the fact that handguns are dangerous and called a handgun manufacturer as his star witness.

    Software doesn't break the law. People break the law.

    • Um no. That's how the law is worded. It makes bumping into things that are not supposed to be there illegal and makes a murder of the bumper (not to mention the ludicrous melodrama that ensues; you'd think having your site cracked is like getting cancer).

      I thought getting 99 years for stealing sunglasses was bad (Texas).
      • The U.S. Attorney's press release, to which West's lawyers are replying, says: The question under investigation is whether valuable intellectual property has been improperly converted.

        Which is much more than bumping into things that are not supposed to be there.

        If West were innocent, one would expect his attorneys to present some evidence to contradict the allegation or at least deny it. Instead West's lawyers say: it appears that Microsoft's software may have caused this unfortunate situation to occur.

        One implication is that West's lawyers are conceeding that something wrong did occur but the blame should be shared by Microsoft, which, they say, is "a possible co-defendant or party to the case."

        Naming one's accomplice is hardly a defense.

        The lawyers further claim that West's acts weren't illegal because they occurred 9 months before DMCA was passed. Once again, this statement implies that the alleged events occurred. The U.S. Attorney's press release doesn't mention the DMCA.

        Finally, the U.S. Attorney's press release says: A suspect's intent, the amount of loss occasioned by the behavior, and the context of the alleged offense are among many factors that are within the scope of the investigation and weighed in such prosecutorial decisions.

        None of West's lawyers statements address these issues directly even though the U.S. Attorney is outlining a straightforward and conventional line of defense for them.

        By replying to the U.S. Attorney's press release but ignoring the substantive issues contained in the press release raises suspicions rather than allays them.

        • Microsoft isn't guilty here either (unless it misconfigures itself) though Frontpage isn't exactly all that great.

          The person who is guilty is the guy who configured Frontpage Extensions or IIS.

          Calling Brian K West guilty is like saying a guy who sits on a whoopie cushion lacks manners.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"