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Journal Journal: Recommended MacOS X Reading: SSH

A user-friendly four-part series of articles on goes through the nuts and bolts of using SSH (aka "Remote Login") on MacOS X. It's enough to get you started, and gives a good overview of using the command line to set up public/private keypairs, tunneling, config files for ssh and sshd, and even doing remote command-line runs of softwareupdate and software installations. Here are links to the articles:

  1. Part One
  2. Part Two
  3. Part Three
  4. Part Four

By the way, while selecting a topic for this entry, I noticed that there are two Apple topics.


Journal Journal: Panther Report

Just installed MacOS X 10.3 (Panther) on a PB G4 / 867 MHz.

Used the "Archive and Install" method which backs up the old contents of /System and /Library and all the various Unix directories (such as /var, /usr, /bin) and overwrites with the new operating system. This method was introduced in Jaguar and was a little buggy. With Panther, it works better - directories like /Library/Application Support/ are also preserved to the new installation.

I had to reinstall GPG and new versions of the GPGmail and SpamCop mail bundles, and set a new flag so that the mail bundles would work. Finder now allows administrative-priviledged users to perform actions that formerly required the use of the command line and "sudo." This is convenient but makes it even wiser for one to not operate day-to-day as an admin-priviledged user.

I like the new Finder and Exposé, Mail seems to be more sophisticated. Keychain Access is more clear in its dialogs when prompting about changed apps trying to access the keychain. Fast User Switching is fabulous. I haven't tried the new Preview yet.

EDIT - Massive permission problems, specifically all of my files somehow got changed to "root" ownership. Once I figured it out, a quick "chown" fixed the problem. Also, Bluetooth (which has always been flaky) won't remember its settings, and the menu extra often crashes SystemUIServer (which runs all the little widgets aka "menu extras" to the left of the clock).


Journal Journal: MacOS X Browser Comparison at Ars

Ars Technica has released a detailed comparison of all browsers available for MacOS X that includes benchmarks, tests of standards compliance, and subjective evaluation of features and functionality. Overall the reviewer ranks Safari very slightly ahead of the 3 Mozilla-based browsers (Mozilla 1.4.1, Camino 0.7, and Firebird 0.6.1).

I have been using Safari since the .Mac bookmark-sync feature came out, but there are elements of Camino and Mozilla that I miss, such as the vastly better control over cookies. If Camino comes out with another stable release, I will probably try it again (0.7 convinced me to switch from Mozilla which I had been using since 1.0).

The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: eBay Scam Report

So I recently sold off a bunch of computer stuff on eBay (see previous entry) including a PowerBook G4/667. The PowerBook was the first item I've sold for a decent amount of money (say, over a couple hundred dollars), everything before that was software, peripherals, graphics cards, that sort of thing. It attracted a lot of attention, including some from scammers.

I probably got contacted about 20 different times by some sort of person looking to scam me after the auction started. Invariably it was someone who wanted to circumvent the eBay auction system. Just about all of them wanted me to end the auction and sell to them directly without going through eBay... these people rarely had an eBay feedback profile.

In my auction I clearly stated that I would take particular kinds of payments (PayPal, cashier's check, or money order) and that I would only ship to the U.S. (PayPal only protects your sale if you ship to the U.S.) and to a PayPal "confirmed address" (again PayPal only protects your sale if you ship to a confirmed address). So many of the contacts wanted me to ship internationally. And many of them wanted me to either ship to an address other than the PayPal confirmed one, or to an international address (a "friend" or "relative" in Indonesia, or South America). Lastly, several of them wanted to just email me the CC#, as if I were some kind of business or, more likely, a fool.

Now, I have nothing against Indoneisans or Russians or South Americans. But why can't they just ship it to their "friend/relative" themselves, hm? I would politely bring this up and never hear back. So obviously what we're dealing with here is people sitting on stolen CC's and looking to convert them to useful product. They didn't want shipping to go to the confirmed address because that address was not theirs.

In the end, I sold the PowerBook for more money than any of the questionable offers I received. I do not interact with eBay a lot, but I have found that it works pretty well within the system, especially as a seller, and that most of the scammers appear to be working either outside the system or are a small enough fraction of the total population that they don't have much impact on the inside.

The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: Selling Mac Stuff

Shameless plug for an eBay auction of a PowerBook G4 / 667MHz. (Update: the powerbook, 5GB iPod, MacOS X 10.2 Jaguar and the 512MB RAM have all been sold)
The Courts

Journal Journal: "Pro-Environment" Streisand Sues Coastal Photo Database

Ken Adelman, operator of the California Coastal Records Project, a website featuring thousands of digital aerial photographs shot from a helicopter offshore of the coastline of the state of California, has been sued by Barbara Streisand for $50 million: "Streisand claims the photograph, one of more than 12,000 on the site, invades her privacy, violates the anti-paparazzi statute, seeks to profit from her name, and threatens her security." Streisand is well known for taking politicians to task for their policies on environmental issues, which is ironic since the site itself has been used by coastal environmentalists to protect beaches from pollution and destruction. Other stories about this here, and here, and you can see the offending photo here or mirrored here. The site was featured previously on Slashdot.

This pisses me off, and not just because Streisand is proving herself to be another fair-weather "environmentalist" who is really just a NIMBY. It's also not just because she's just like the people fighting wind power off of Cape Cod because they don't want to see windmills from their million-dollar Martha's Vineyard summer homes, and not only because her house is probably built on an eroding bluff that she'd like to bury behind concrete at some point. No, it is mainly because I have surfed in the waters just offshore of where she lives, and that whole section of the coastline is jealously guarded against access by "outsiders" (read: people who don't live there). Despite that, California law still permits me access to that beach and the right to surf it, and I cheer a rich guy like Adelman who is willing to waste a lot of time and money to take pictures of the coastline and won't give in on principle. If he wasn't already so damn rich I'd happily contribute to his legal defense fund.

(First paragraph submitted as a story to at 8:30 pm, Friday 5/30/2003) (Update: rejected, damn) (Update: Appeared as part of this story on Tuesday, 6/3/2003)

The Matrix

Journal Journal: Review of The Matrix: Reloaded

I was planning to see the movie today at about noon, but some lunch plans intervened. So, rather than subject myself to the possibility of spoilers (I will hopefully avoid any significant ones here), the wife and I went to see it at the 10pm showing last night. The theater was about half-full to three-fourths full, mostly high school kids, and a few couples, and a few geeks.

I was impressed by the film, more so than I expected to be. The action is stunningly realized; the filmmakers are working with combat in this film like a painter of landscapes. Each swing is a tiny drop of paint, and the combined effect washes over you like a wave. You cannot possibly absorb all the little details, even though they are there. In one fight scene cups of noodles are one-by-one knocked off of dining tables by individual moves.

The world of the Matrix film has received, as Neo wryly notes at one point, "upgrades." The real world has expanded beyond the confines of the Nebuchadnezzar, and there are more players in the Matrix now than the Agents and Morpheus' crew, all pursuing their own interests, which are not made clear to us or to Neo and his cohorts. And among all this the writers have things to say about purpose, choice, love, and fate, and they are well-expressed for a film that is predominantly sci-fi and action oriented.

We also get little references to not only the first film... in "The Matrix" the interrogation of Neo by Agent Smith is introduced with a shot of a video screen viewing Neo in the interrogation room, and our last sight is of him making a phone call that cannot be traced. We see that video screen again in this film, and we hear a word from the failed trace of Neo's phone call. We also see Morpheus' favorite chair again.

It is flawed, with some long exposition and scenes in the real world in the film's opening third running a bit long. Those scenes were necessary to set up the conflict in the rest of the film, but they could have used some more trimming. And I could occasionally recognize a CGI combatant in one scene, mostly from faces not being rendered perfectly. But that's just a detail. If you stare close at any great painting, you will see the drops and grain of the canvas. See this movie, sit back, and appreciate.


Journal Journal: Things You Can Buy for $0.99 1

Something I thought of today on the drive to go see "X-Men 2" (which was better than the first. I finally know what "BAMF!" sounds like). I have read some complaints that $.99 is too much for a song. But think about all the things you may have paid about that much for, and not given it much thought:
  • 1 hour of parking
  • 2L of Coke (in the grocery store)
  • half a gallon of gasoline (in the U.S.)
  • a pack of candy in the checkout aisle (grocery store again)
  • 20 minutes of conversation on the phone
  • anything from a fast-food "value menu"

Of course, you can find better or worse prices for some of these things... the store across the street from where I work charges a buck for about 15 oz. of Coke ($.85 for 12oz can, $1.30 for 20oz bottle). But I would gladly give a lot of these things up if, right before I was about to buy them, someone offered me a song instead.

What would you give up for a song?

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