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User Journal

Journal Journal: Oh, look! An Atari Slashdot Logo With Scrolling Rainbows!

Well, not too much to say right now, other than I like the changing logo. It's a Google wannabe kind of thing, but in a good way. Nicely done.

If you own and value old computers, particularly if you use them, feel free to chatter below. I have an Apple //e, Atari 800XL, and Color Computer 3, up running and useful. (well sort of useful)

User Journal

Journal Journal: First troll defending Linux Desktop?

Well shit. Never did I believe here on Slashdot, I would get a troll for a frank expression on Linux. Wonders abound it seems.

I've been in and around here for a very, very long time. The troll is actually funny. I won a bet on that one, BTW. Now I can go collect! Thanks for that.

I've thought about the state of open software off and on for many, many years. I think we've a clear case of a self-fulfilling reality happening with Linux Desktops. The current state of the computing industry mostly ignores the movers and shakers in favor of ordinary users doing what users do. Some of that happens on a Linux desktop, a lot of it doesn't, but does that mean the desktop is dead?

No! If you look out in the embedded space, just as one example, there is a TON of Linux. Most of those users run --wait for it! The Linux desktop! That kind of thing happens on a Linux system, just a safety tip from your buddy potatohead.

Now, maybe saying the word "fuck" got me the troll rating. Really? Come on folks! This isn't disneyland --or is it? You all tell me.

Finally, the core thing to remember about the growing body of open source software is all about the use value. For those who make the investment to make use of the open software tools, their use value and their skills are not mapped to closed things, and that value goes off the charts.

That's not gonna change for a percentage share metric published on some industry rag, filled with a lot of people, who don't actually understand the power of multi-user computing, nor the multi-user X window system for the powerful gift it is.

Those of us who do understand those things are not going anywhere! Why? Because we simply don't have to, and that's a fact often ignored when the failed comparison between Linux and proprietary software desktop solutions is invoked.

Think that one through kids. Think it through really hard, and maybe you may come to see how the open software dynamics work, and through that, why a pronouncement that the Linux Desktop is dead ends being as silly as I make it out to be. We users of that desktop will be perfectly happy to let you know when it's dead, k?


Journal Journal: Discuss: Cybersecurity Sysadmin Guild

The NYTimes story linked below sparked some thought I wanted hear more from /. about. This is not your typical advocacy post, but for the simple request that we just talk about this stuff. Can that still happen on /. I'm hoping so. Take the info below, read it, then think about it, then contribute what you think will have the most value. The idea is for us to just do a bit of talking for the sake of just learning and thinking for a change.

These kinds of topics are of great interest to me, largely because the ethics and law surrounding them are new and often being formed right now, in our time. That's kind of cool really. It's interesting to consider what we sort out now will define things for generations to come.

In short, we live in interesting times.


My intent with this is to just have some good discussion. I've got my flame suit on, and really just am interested on where this takes people. Consider it food for some interesting talk, not so much an advocacy piece. I am wanting to hear some thoughts on this subject matter, whatever they may be. Let's go!

The problem with cyber-defense and our traditional notions of privacy, search, seizure, etc... comes from the virtual nature of Internet communications, geographical portability, and relative inability for many to quantify how the net works in terms we agree on. Simple discussions like "theft" of movies require people understand very subtle things, like infringement and why it's not simple theft. Please, this thread is not about that topic. I contributed it to highlight one of many things we remain very confused as a nation on, not to make a position statement on what happens on a download ok?

Enter the Systems Administrator.

These people did it first. We have a net to wage war in, because they did the work to build something that would actually behave as a virtual space. And there are some fascinating parallels with our history I want to share, then make a statement at the end of this I didn't think I would make. Ideally, that's where some discussion will happen.

Our founders were these very progressive and visionary people. When they formed this nation there were only a few democracies in operation at the time. They were seen as everything from radical to just. We live in that nation today because they structured things to behave as a space where people were free to be people.

The systems administrators who built the net were like them in many ways! They were visionary, progressive and very focused on structure and freedom, knowing that good things would happen without having to actually state them.

As time passes, current generations lose some of the connection to those early builders. Today, both our founders and systems admins are not seen in the same way they were when alive and building.

Our early legislators were mentored in from the builders. Many implied things were honored because they were just, law had not yet been written and ethics controlled how a lot of things got done. Admins are the same way.

I, for example, was mentored my people who I would characterize as first and second generation admins. The net was an open place a lot like early America was. Few people had locks, few people then had cyber security.

The third generation is operating now, with the fourth upon us soon.

When I got introduced to being an admin, ethics were a part of the discussion. Then came the gentlemen's agreements and such. The net was still being formed. Now it's built and being improved, renovated, etc...

Early on, it was not possible to be an admin, without having gone through the passing of the torch. Then it became possible to just become an admin through the course of simple work, and the ratio of those being mentored by those that formed the roots of the thing to those who just end up doing it leans toward no mentoring with each passing day.

Problems escalated as more and more ordinary people jumped into the space and started doing their thing.

The net closed, security was required and the rest brings us to today.

Here's an example of the kinds of things I experienced when the keys to the kingdom were handed to me:

Ethics on privacy. It was obvious that I could examine any portion of our company net. So then, what's the right behavior? Do I read the e-mails, poke at the financials, log browser traffic? The answer is complicated and much of it depends on what the information is for, whether or not a person can be trusted to do the right thing with it, and so on.

I got the title of admin, because the prior one basically told the users I was ready, could be trusted, and had the skill needed to carry them forward. This still happens, and it happens a lot and that is good. When it doesn't happen, there are issues. Or worse, the admin is forced to disregard their ethics to hold a job, and users are left with the results.

My point is this: I don't think it's possible to operate a safe net, without some people getting to know stuff. Our open net requires us to have administrators and that's just how it is. Somebody somewhere has the keys to whatever fiefdom you care to inhabit, and you get to travel in cyberspace simply at their pleasure. They allow that traffic to exist, and they allow it because it is better with that freedom than without.

Witness nations like China and Australia and others who regulate that travel sharply, and with that comes an idea of just how much implied trust we operate on. It's a lot people. An awful lot.

As an admin, I operated (and still do operate) mail servers. Marriages can be broken with the info sitting on that server. Prison terms can be there too. There is a lot of power in that machine, and the admin could use it for personal gain quite easily. There's the implied trust bit right there.

My users know I don't read e-mail. My standard line is that it would simply piss me off, and who wants to do that? The reality is that I know that server needs to be treated in a special way so that the people who inhabit it (and that's an odd way to put it, but it makes sense to me) can just be who they are and do what they do, much like they do getting into a car and driving down the road.

Over the years, I've been asked to cross boundaries. Copy software, crack software, open up the server and take a peek "for the company", and any number of other things. I've said "no" a lot, and have been fortunate enough to be in positions where that "no", and the "why" behind it was heard and respected. I've been forced a time or two and considered an attorney, because the law actually forbid what was being requested. There are many who need their job and or don't care and will just do it. Think about that dynamic too.

So then, Obama wants to essentially create the systems admin for the nation.

IMHO, this is good.

I see everybody worried about trust. The nation is going through the same thing little pools of people went through when the net was forming. A discussion happens:


We have networked the computers!



But, what about... and it comes! Can others see my stuff, can I see their stuff, will people know things?

[admin --if they are a good one]

Admin lays down the law, ethics and commits to earn the trust of people.

So then, this discussion results in everybody operating under some common assumptions and the admin just compartmentalizes a lot of things and basically sits there and makes it all go in a way that people can live with.

We, as a nation are there now.

We as a community here on /. have been there for a while, with our admins here structuring things so that we can do what we feel compelled to do with few to no inhibitions and a lot of trust. Think about that in the context of this national development about to happen. Interesting no?

I think so.

My proposal is essentially a guild. Cybersecurity is going to require admins and our liberties are going to fall under their privy, or we operate in a less than secure environment and take the risk. That is the national question, but for the guild part. That's mine, at the moment.

If we go the guild route, then we return to how the net was formed and the trust and ethics issues that formed the place and that means people vetting people for the sake of other people.

Will the President actually have his admin tell him "no" and "why", or will that admin just take a peek?

I think about the wiretapping that happened. What if that guild were in place, and they said NO? Or, perhaps they said "maybe", and it went to the courts?

If we have a national systemsadmin, czar, etc... what do you think that looks like, and what power should it have?

Flame, rant, rave, you name it! Let's just talk about this and see where it leads!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Disable ADs?

Hello everyone!

Logged into /. this morning and saw this nice note:

As our way of saying thank you for your positive contributions to Slashdot, you are eligible to disable advertising. Or something like that.

I checked the box to satisfy simple curious interest and got:

Thanks again for helping make Slashdot great!

Thanks guys!

I think I'll probably turn the ADS back on soon though. They don't bother me, and every little bit of revenue counts for most people these days. I do however appreciate being noticed. Some part of me is hoping it's never having anything but EXCELLENT KARMA. Maybe it's a low UID, maybe some other ratio of good comments to bad, or something.

Whatever it is, thanks again!

I'm thinking back on the early years, when Rob was going to school, running /. on old Alpha servers and the smaller community we had then. Man, there are so many people now! Despite this, I scroll through the comments and recognize people. Some are old names, some new, all made an impression on me in some small way, which is why I remember them.

We've come so far. There are times when I log in and feel OLD. Usually, that's on the politics or Internet focused discussions. There is a thing I wanted to journal here about that. I will actually, but first I'll tee it up and also state that I've posted it somewhere else too. Nobody cared! That worries me actually.

There are first generation netizens, and they were the builders. Second Generation netizens would remember the ETERNAL DECEMBER, among other things. Some thirds might do so as well.

I'm a late second, Gen X netizen. Kids jumping on today are probably fourth generation and so many of them have NO clue. Well, that's not right. Many of them do, but the culture of being mentored onto the net has gone. It left with the masses that followed the time when I logged on for the first time.

That was 91. HOLY SHIT! Time passes...

So, to tee up the contribution I have in mind: Obama wants to make a CyberSecurity Czar. Fine. I actually think that's probably a good idea. But, it triggered some musings that I thought I would share for discussion. I'll try the make a journal entry a story deal, put on my flame suit, and see what people think!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Obama '08 1

I'm there people. Been watching this horrible mess of a primary and Obama has come through largely keeping the high ground.

So, who is your pick?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Running Dapper Drake Today... 2

I'm impressed!

So far, pretty much everything but playing DVD media has just worked right the first time out of the gate. I decided to run the Gnome based core system and I'm liking it. Still miss KDE, but the differences are not stark enough to worry too much about. What I need is there with few hassles.

Most importantly, the package management system is top-notch. Things just install with few worries. It's not that I can't go get some code and install it, then configure, etc... I can. It's that I don't often want to. Very good show so far.

One worry these days. How does one capture a snapshot of all the important software in case of a shutdown. With the legal environment today, this is a clear reality. As much as I love just grabbing the necessary bits online, will they be there later when / if I need them again?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Been a while since I wrote anything here...

I still read Slash daily, but have cut back on posting for some reason. Love the community, but have been spending my posting time elsewhere, mostly blogging and yacking about classic Atari game programming.



(In reverse order)

Been doing a lot of thinking about political issues lately as well. Where Slashdot is concerned, the whole "protect the children" bit and net neutrality are the biggies.

Of course, parents need to watch their kids online just like they do anywhere else. There is just no way we can dumb the whole thing down in a way that makes any sense at all... unless!

We give up net neutrality! That's it, we can save the kids and shut up all the noisy (and increasingly relevant I might add) folks who have just a bit too much publishing power.

Makes me sick.

So, geeks start learning about advocacy and start practicing it, or we will not be happy geeks in the near future.

Think otherwise? By all means, enlighten me. I can use all the help I can get!

User Journal

Journal Journal: I would like to see the lameness filter disabled for

proven known good users.

I've been here since the very beginning. Never posted any crap, never will, yet I still have to deal with some posts getting mangled just because a small percentage of fools insist on polluting the discussion space.

Why not let those contributors actually do just that, without being ham-strung with goofy rules.

If you earn the right to make unfiltered posts, great. If you abuse it, you then lose the right for a good long time.

The noise level would probably be the same, but we might see some better posts.

(Like the Cue-Cat one that had the actual decoder program written in C. Copy, paste, compile, done! --Not sure that can be done today, or can it?)

Anyway, that's what's currently on my mind. What's on yours? Leave me a link in the comments below and I'll be sure to give your issue some of my mindshare in exchange for yours.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hey! How many fans do you have? 5

And do you care?

I seem to have tapered off a bit after gaining some regularly over the years. Has something changed? It's not a pride thing with me. I'm gonna write what I write regardless of the number of fans. It's just the geek in me noticing something and wondering what others think.

Are we seeing less new slashdotters lately? Political / personal views beginning to skew too much from the old school slash? (I've seen some of this, but not enough to matter just yet, IMHO. Thoughts on that?) Perhaps, nobody cares anymore? After we all futzed around with the relations, maybe they just don't matter?

Those interested left?

Just board, but busy at the moment, wondering what you make of it, that's all.

User Journal

Journal Journal: FUCK Everything

Ok, those who know me, know better than that. So what's with the foul topic?

I'M QUITTING SMOKING TODAY. Actually started yesterday. Had a couple laying around, so I enjoyed them and sat in for the first of a string of long evenings.

Been down this fucking road three times already. I'm working as hard as I can to make this time my last.

So I've got coffee (thank god that's ok --might as well die if it wasn't!), the gum and the little tablets. Forget the patches. They just don't do it for me --even two of 'em.

First stage was happiness. Well today that's all over. Now it's stage two. You know the one where you look all through the house for 'leftover smokes'. Did that. What did I find?

The neighbor bitch who borrowed the car left her smokes and lighter in the car!


Nice lighter --tossed it anyway along with the smokes. Damn that's tough. I know they are in the can. All I have to do is a little digging and... back on the road again. Shit!

That brings me to this journal entry. I was doing fine, until that find. I was hoping for maybe one of my old smokes. Actually would have been happy with nothing at all. The looking was fun and was passing the time actually. Found some other stuff I had been missing, like my little FM modulator.

Why did she have to leave those in the car!

Fucking Bitch. (She knows too.)

Anyway given the number of /. members these days, I know some of you have been here. Any ideas to pass the time? How long it took to reach a stable point? Funny stories?

Doing the same thing?

Put it all here. I'm self employed and have nowhere to go until Monday. Hopefully that will be long enough to get past the can'tworkpoorfocusfuckingsmokeleavingbitchwhyismymonitorsofuzzytodaywhereismycoffee stage!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why Apple should be doing multi-user GUI displays. 2

A comment pointed out how handy remote display capability, at the application level is. I agreed and wrote this. (Stashed it here for easy finding later.)

And I don't mean remote desktops. (VNC, RDP...) Don't get me wrong, those are nice and all, but nothing compared to remote display.

The X window system is the only *multiuser* GUI out there. The Mac is an interesting hybrid in that it features a nice multi-user kernel with a single user GUI bolted on. Being able to remote that would bring a lot of power to the already fine Apple experience.

Because Apple and Microsoft didn't create multi-user GUI environments, a very high percentage of the computer using population has exactly NO IDEA WHAT MULTI-USER COMPUTING REALLY IS ALL ABOUT.

That's too bad because they would benefit from it.

Honestly, the multi-user X window system and virtual desktops/workspaces/whatever, are the two features that keep me using Linux/UNIX in general. Once you understand what it means to send an application to a particular display, it's really limiting to not have the ability to do so.

The single-user GUI environments also sharply limit the types of group computing possible. Single user GUI systems are all client-server or web-services kinds of systems. This means the software must reside directly on the computer that serves the needs of the user currently using it.

For a single person using their computer, or maybe somebody running a portable one, this makes perfect sense and I'm not bashing it.

However, the potential benefits of workgroup computing are sharply limited by these single-user GUI environments. Just look at all the kludges, we have Novell ZenWorks, install scripts, and other junk all designed to move the increasingly complex software environment from one machine to another as users move.

It's all pretty stupid actually.

In an X window environment, the applications reside where ever they make the best sense and the users run them, where they live, and simply request the application display I/O come from the machine they are currently using.

This has a number of very significant advantages:

- Sharing powerful machines. Does every user have to have the super box? No. With the X window system, everyone who needs to run something on a powerful box can simply do so, from the machine they are running.

- Sharing expensive applications. Look at MCAD, or analysis, or simulation applications. These things are very expensive and are often complex to administer. Making a package like this available to a group of users is a lot harder than it needs to be, when you don't have the X window system working for you. The application needs to be loaded on each machine, then complex and error prone floating licensing schemes regulate the use of the software.

In an X window environment, any user that wants to run the application simply does so by running the one copy on the computer it is loaded on. When they get the data they need, they put it on the network where they have more local access to it and move on. This has licensing implications also. Many companies charge more for floating licenses because they know workgroups need that capability. The X window system mitigates this cost in almost every case.

- Data Management. In a client/server environment, a user must have a copy of the data on their machine in order to manupulate it. However an X window capable application can isolate the user from the data in powerful ways, mostly for free because of the way the UNIX and X window systems work together.

Imagine a data pool located on machine A, data manupulation application on machine B and user running on machine C.

When the user wants to do something with the data, in the data pool on machine A, they run the application on Machine B, remoting the display to their machine C, while the application then manupuates the data on Machine A.

In this case, the user has no direct access to the data in question. Possible actions and even copying of the data can be made as easy, structured, and or difficult as necessary to meet the design parameters. (Render text as bitmaps, for example to allow only screen captures.)

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I think my point is clear.

Most of the computing population has no idea just how powerful of a gift the X window environment is and a lot of them really should.

Love the Apple, plan on getting one, pissed as hell they decided to go with a single-user GUI. If the multi-user capability of the X window system would have gotten the Apple treatment, we all would have been better off.

Better still, Microsoft would have had one hell of a time playing catch up to that!

(Thinking this might make a nice essay in the near future... copies to Journal for viewing later.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: P2P -- What's cool these days? 4

Haven't used P2P for a while so the question really is what is out there right now that works and is reasonably safe? Ideally, the system would allow browsing of other users shared media. I like to search on stuff I like, then see what others are listening to.

Don't harp on me for infringement either --I buy lots of music. How do you think I figure out what I would like to buy?

Yes, this was prompted by the Kazaa story posted just this morning.

I am interested in non-mainstream music, or extremely deep cuts from the mainstream. Lets put it this way, FM radio is really boring. Need to seek out some new names as my current set of music is getting stale.


Journal Journal: Interested in somewhat old radio broadcast audio?

I've started a new site called http://www.pdxradiospots.com/

Some production engineers and I have decided to put some old archive material up on the Internet for others to listen to. Right now it's mostly airchecks, jingles, commercials, and other odd bits 'n pieces. It's in a blog format, mostly because that's very easy to publish with.

In the near future, I plan to put up some radio news filler material. Tower changes, formats, people, etc.. are all on the roadmap. How much of that actually happens depends on how things go and what the overall interest level is.

Have some old Radio stuff that might be interesting, or maybe you just want to share with friends. Maybe just want to share for the hell of it? Drop me a line and I'll get your content on the site, with commentary written by you or me --doesn't matter really. It's all about the audio from the past, with the rest being whatever makes sense.

Any feedback welcome.

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