Septiembre 23, 2004
N.Q.B. is Dead... but rising from the ashes!!!
N.Q.B. has died a horrible death involving a Berkeley DB corruption. It's unrecoverable... so I decided to leave all of N.Q.B. up mostly for blog history's sake (of which so much is lost). You can read more about the spectacular death of N.Q.B. here.
Mayo 30, 2004
True Geek: Creating RSS Feeds for sites with none, and building OO.o 1.1.2 (Mac OS X)
You can tell when I've got too much time on my hands... the true geek escapes. Here are two things that I plan on doing soon:
Learning how to scrape sites to RSS... there are so many great sites that should have RSS feeds that don't. I will have to take tech. into my own hands and use the uber-geeky advice of Roy Osherove in his article "Creating a Generic Site-To-Rss Tool".
I'm freakin' building OpenOffice.org 1.1.2 (OO.o) for Mac OS X 1.3.3!!! This is some crazy shit... once I've debugged the build a bit (so that it works!) I expect it will take 10-15 hours of number crunching on my PowerBook 1GHz/1GB to build properly. For those of you interested, you will need the following.
- Beer, coffee, housecleaning, a good book... something to pass the time.
- Fully read (and understand) the out-of-date instructions on building OO.o 1.1.1 on Mac OS X here.
- Fully read (and understand) the latest instructions (with patches and an errant file to retrieve from CVS) on building 1.1.2 by Terry Teague.
I'll post any troubles I encounter and their solutions here as they come up.
UPDATE [2004-05-31 14:00:40]: Alright...
If you're building OO.o note that two files necessary for compilation are missing in the current source tree (
cws_srx645_ooo112fix2)... Terry Teague posted an update. To get these two files, you'll have to do the following from the command-line:
sudo cvs co -r cws_srx645_ooo112fix2 psprint/source/printergfx/glyphset.cxx sudo cvs co -r cws_srx645_ooo112fix2 sj2/stardiv/applet/LiveConnectable.java
The OO.o team appears to be having some minor CVS problems. It appears that some necessary patches were not propogated to the anonymous CVS servers (If you wait until tomorrow,
cws_srx645_ooo112fix2 should build right "out of the box".).
UPDATE [2004-05-31 15:54:32]: A few more things,
If you're running panther like I am, you'll need to set a symbolic linke in your current java versions directory (1.4.2) to the old 1.4.1 header files... that is, from
/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.4.2make a symbolic link to the old
sudo ln -s ../1.4.1/Headers Headers
As well, with all the patches listed in Mr. Teague's post you should be sure to check if they're even needed at this point (they might have already been applied). I think this is only an issue with the
dlcompatpatch... To check this, use the
morecommand on the patch files and look at the most recent date in the first few lines. If a file that you're trying to patch has been modified after the most recent date, don't apply the patch and hope for the best (as this means the patch has already been applied, likely).
Mayo 28, 2004
Trans Am, tonight!!!
Man o' man... I'm so excited that Trans Am will be in the Bay Area tonight at the GAMH... their two latest albums got severly burned by critics compared to their previous release... but what the fuck do uppity critics know anyway? If this little piece of "music for dogs" off their latest album doesn't convince you to go join a cult, their live act will.
The "post-rock" group Trans Am formed in Takoma Park, Md. in 1990 but did not become a serious group until 1995, when its members left college and recorded their eponymous debut album for Thrill Jockey. Blending electronics and traditional rock instruments to mimic mainstream sounds of the '70s and '80s, Trans Am earned much critical acclaim and a devoted underground following, consolidated by the release of 1997's Surrender to the Night.
Mayo 27, 2004
Pitchforkmedia RSS feed...
Mayo 26, 2004
Hafner's NYT piece on obsessive blogging...
Katie Hafner's piece on obsessive blogging has just come out in the NYT (it's on the front page right now [2004-05-26 16:19:11]). SIMS kids have been in the NYT so much lately that Paul even said it seems to be some sort of unspoken graduation requirement. I'll read the piece right now and post my comments later.
By KATIE HAFNER
Published: May 27, 2004
Joseph Lorenzo Hall, 26, a graduate student at the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California at Berkeley who has studied bloggers, said that for some people blogging has supplanted e-mail as a way to procrastinate at work.
People like Mr. Pierce, who devote much of their free time to the care and feeding of their own blogs and posting to other blogs, do so largely because it makes them feel productive even if it is not a paying job.
The procrastination, said Scott Lederer, 31, a fellow graduate student with Mr. Hall, has a collective feel to it. "You feel like you're participating in something important, because we're all doing it together," he said.
This isn't what I find most interesting about blogging, for sure. You'll have to wait a while to hear more about that...
Here's a classic quote: "'Here he is working all night on something read by five second cousins and a dog, and I'm willing to pay him. The Web's illusion of immortality is sometimes more attractive than actual cash.'"
Full disclosure: I'll take the cash.
Mayo 24, 2004
Moore film held up... fascinating...
I don't usually read this kind of copy... but it is a politically fascinating rights battle. I can imagine that Eisner et al. are getting calls from the Whitehouse. A couple more good whammys like this, (like every one of the eyeballs that's reading this not voting for Bush) and we might even have a chance in hell.
By SHARON WAXMAN
LOS ANGELES, May 24— Tense relations between Disney and Miramax are complicating a deal to find a distributor for Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," which is still without American representation two days after winning the Palme d'Or at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Mayo 23, 2004
Susan Sontag on the legacy of the second gulf war: toture photos...
Ms. Sontag puts it well... though at times seems a tad naive.
A digital camera is a common possession among soldiers. Where once photographing war was the province of photojournalists, now the soldiers themselves are all photographers -- recording their war, their fun, their observations of what they find picturesque, their atrocities -- and swapping images among themselves and e-mailing them around the globe.
There is more and more recording of what people do, by themselves. At least or especially in America, Andy Warhol's ideal of filming real events in real time -- life isn't edited, why should its record be edited? -- has become a norm for countless Webcasts, in which people record their day, each in his or her own reality show. Here I am -- waking and yawning and stretching, brushing my teeth, making breakfast, getting the kids off to school. People record all aspects of their lives, store them in computer files and send the files around. [...]
Shock and awe were what our military promised the Iraqis. And shock and the awful are what these photographs announce to the world that the Americans have delivered: a pattern of criminal behavior in open contempt of international humanitarian conventions. Soldiers now pose, thumbs up, before the atrocities they commit, and send off the pictures to their buddies. Secrets of private life that, formerly, you would have given nearly anything to conceal, you now clamor to be invited on a television show to reveal. What is illustrated by these photographs is as much the culture of shamelessness as the reigning admiration for unapologetic brutality.
Web bugs hit prime-time...
I knew someone would make money off of web bugs sooner or later... before this, the most mischevious use for web bugs I had seen was by the Dean campaign... I couldn't get anyone to care about them then; maybe this will change things (three comments of mine on that issue: 1, 2, 3.).
The days of pretending you just didn't get that e-mail you ignored could be over. Today, a company called DidTheyReadIt.com offers customers the chance to track every e-mail they send.
By signing up, you'll be able to see when an e-mail was opened, how long it was looked at, if it was read more than once, and if it was forwarded to anyone else.
Hint: don't allow external images to be loaded when you open email. GMail does this by default (although realize what could happen if you allow external images to be displayed!). If you use a text-based email reader like pine or mutt, this won't be a problem. Does anyone have suggestions for Eduora, Outlook and Maill.app users?
UPDATE [2004-05-23 20:12:07]: Dan Gilmor posts on this, and I get the fabled first comment post with this:
The method that they use is to plant "web bugs"... merely 1 pixel by 1 pixel images with unique file names. When you open up one of their messages in an email viewer that renders HTML email messages, the reader will go fetch the tiny image. Then, the server that the image resides on knows if you've ever retreived this image.
Naturally, the answer to this is to use an email client that does not display external images. If you use a text-based email reader (pine, mutt, etc.) or even Google's GMail, external images are not displayed by default. Any other email client (Eudora, Mail.app, Outlook) should have a means of turning off the ability to display external images.
The result: people "tracking" you will see that you never "open" any of their messages ever (even though you can at your leisure). I'm sure there's also a way to just download all the external content necessary to your home machine before it's read... then people "tracking" you will see that you open all their mail, and spend exactly one millisecond reading it (for example).
Mayo 22, 2004
Periods of intellectual intensity...
Leave it to danah to realize all the cool stuff first... one thing I noticed in the last week (finals week) in more than one place was the tendency for very deep thought amongst my fellow inmates (read: graduate students). While trying to synthesize hundreds of pages of reading into two-page essays, it must be natural that this intellectual intensity bleeds into every aspect of your life.
Intellectual engagement != working. But boy can you justify it as such. Blessed be my friends who came to check in and brought me external stimulii upon which to thrust my spiraling brain. Somehow, the best conversations about philosophy, politics and religion always happen during finals. There's something about feeling like you're thinking intensely so it must be the same as finals to feel refreshed.
There's something else too... I'm not sure what to call this phenomenon. There's a tendency for things to "just work out" during finals week. For example, turning papers in for people when they couldn't possibly do it themselves... or, in my case, learning that an offhand piece of advice I gave someone a month ago has lead to an amazing result.
What was that piece of advice? It was:
"Get a lawyer."
You'd never think that that's the best solution to a problem and I sure as hell think its very low on the list of things I recommend people do to solve their problems. In this case, it worked out.
More detail for the interested: A friend and colleague has been working on a book for almost a decade and a half. This book is one of a kind and there is nothing that treats the subject with such depth, clarity and precision. My friend's been locked into a publishing contract from hell for a number of years. This book, at 12pt font, would be around 1000 pages. Apparently, for this publisher that's just too damn big. So the publisher said my friend would have to either cut some content, reduce the size of the font or put some pages in an external web site.
None of these options were satisfactory to my friend. Eventually, the publisher wanted to get the book down to 9pt font (!!!) and reduce its size to 800 pages. I told my friend, "If there's one thing I've learned from Edward Tufte, it's don't ever let someone fuck up your work. That is, don't end up with 15 years of work down the drain and a book that you are ashamed has your name on it (like Newton's Optica where only the first copy was allowed to be printed with his name on it)."
I said, "Get a lawyer. You need out of your publishing contract." My friend got a lawyer and $3000 or so later, (s)he was out of the contract and slightly depressed that (s)he'd have to go pedal to publishers again.
Here's the kicker: about seven days after my friend is released from the contract, the publisher goes out of business. Bankrupt. Some of you may realize the implications of this, but for those who don't: If my friend's book was still under contract when this publisher went bankrupt, this book and a good deal of my friend's life's work, would have been considered an asset of the publisher to be valued towards paying back the publisher's creditors. My friend's book would have been in publishing limbo... and would have probably ended up as a Fox News special of some sort to attempt to make as much money for the creditors as possible.
One indirect good deed done.
Mayo 20, 2004
Avoiding mail delivery messages with vacation programs
Well, GMail incited me to solve a problem I've had for a while. What was the problem? I get a ton of "mail undeliverable" emails ("Mail Delivery Subsystem..." emails) because I have a few vacation files set up on old email accounts in various astronomy departments. Why? Spammers spam me, the vacation program responds and, as their accounts are usually superfluous, I get email back from their mail servers saying that they can't deliver my (permanent) vacation message.
The problem has been I've gotten so in the habit of just outright deleting these damn messages as soon as they arrive (or with a filter in GMail since I can't trash them with a keyboard shortcut) that I miss legitimate "mail undeliverable" emails when I send email to a bad address.
What's the solution? It turns out the mail delivery programs obey the "Precedence: bulk" standard... (thanks, Parker) that is, they won't send undeliverable mail responses to emails that have this string in their headers. So, how do you add this to a header of a vacation message? Simple, if you have command-line access, open the file in your root directory called
.vacation.msg and add the line:
right after the
Subject: line. Save the file, and presto! Now you should only get legit. mail delivery failure messages.
UPDATE [2004-05-20 19:43:36]: Note, that
bulk above should be all lowercase.
Secure your Mac...
If you have a Mac, follow these directions from John Gruber to protect yourself against this latest threat.
Download RCDefaultApp, a free System Prefs panel from Rubicode. Install it in the PreferencePanes folder in your Library folder.
Open System Prefs, then open the new Default Apps panel.
Click on the "URLs" tab.
Set the 'disk:', 'disks:', and 'help:' protocols to "<disabled>".
You should also open Safari's preferences, and turn off the checkbox "Open 'safe' files after downloading" -- when turned on, this setting allows disk images to be mounted automatically.
Feel free to read the rest of Gruber's post to get more info. on the specifics of the vulnerability... if you're just interested in making sure your Mac is playing safe, the above will be sufficient for the time being.
UPDATE [2004-05-21 10:39:00]: Gruber recommends disabling
telnet as well:
In addition to the ‘disk:’, ‘disks:’, and ‘help:’ URI protocols mentioned yesterday, you should also turn off the ‘telnet:’ protocol.
Micro$oft's Slash and Burn in Malayasia
Apparently, Microsoft is dumping its software [US$ 300 for a computer with M$ goodies] on Malaysia in response to an acknowledged on-going competitive threat the company feels from developers in the open source community, particularly from Linux software distributors. Notwithstanding that this practice may not be entirely appealing to local software development by Malaysian developers, Microsoft's strategy is remarkable in how it conspicuously proves many of the claims raised by the open source community.
Of course, it's not all about cost with open source software. It's also about interoperability, control and transparency. If these values will be important in our networked computing future, it won't really matter if Micro$oft continues to drop its prices here in the U.S. or anywhere. The kicker is that we need usability peeps to really start contributing heavily to open source software... I feel it happening and I know Debian has a usability project team.
Mayo 19, 2004
Review of Vice Dolls CD (Die Trying)
Man o' man... even when you review discs for fame instead of $$$, you get some real crap.
It's a tough thing, when you're a token "critic", to be able to find a few good things to say about certain artists. Sometimes, you'll hear a new release and say to yourself, "This band would be so much better off if I didn't review their album". You'd think if you sent it back with a note saying as much they'd understand. But, I'm sure they would have said to review it anyway. I just looked over this review again and I realized how much time I spent listening to that damn album to try and sift out the few specks of good stuff. I tried hard and hope it shows. Here's the pertinent concluding paragraph, (realize that I don't advocate trampling your granny, it's rock journalism and trying to be honest at their collective best)
I predict that these guys will become a force to reckon with in the future. They'll age well and turn out a scathing second album. Die Trying isn't something to trample your granny to get a copy of nor a new jewel on the crown of hardcore, but I do recommend listening to the tracks I mentioned above. I'd check these guys out if they come to my city, although they'd likely kick my ass if I showed up.
Mayo 15, 2004
Damning news for Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration...
This news is not only damning of Rumsfeld, but an indictment of the entire Bush administration and the "war on terror".
THE GRAY ZONE (by SEYMOUR M. HERSH)
The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld's decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America's prospects in the war on terror.
According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon's operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-standing desire to wrest control of America's clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.
UPDATE [2004-05-16 10:26:22]: Two thoughts have come to mind (which I haven't seen anywhere else... although I haven't looked) after reading this article:
The guy behind the "interrogation techniques" (read: torture), Miller, was transferred from Guantanamo Bay (a/k/a Gitmo) to Baghdad to supervise interrogation. This means that we've been using these techniques at Gitmo ever since we've been engaged in Afghanistan (2001). This means that thousands of Muslims have undergone these techniques over a period of more than two years. That means there are many many more "abuse" cases waiting to see the light of day (like possibly this one).
Apparently, we've been able to use these techniques because these captives are considered "illegal combatants" instead of enemy soldiers and as such don't fall under the provisions of the Geneva conventions. This means we've opened up a veritable pandora's box of interpretive war interrogation and we can be assured that other countries might classify our soldiers (especially the black ops folks) as "illegal combatants" and do what ever the hell they want with them. This is precisely why the Geneva conventions exist; soldiers will be treated decently as long as this understanding exists, and no longer.
Mayo 14, 2004
Dealing with RSI... Push-ups
(Thanks to my co-adviser Peter Lyman for the Ibuprofen and the wrist braces!)
So, ever since I made the move from Astronomy to a discipline about a zillion times more computing intensive (SIMS), I've been typing so much that I've started to get what's known as RSI, or the thing that eventually turns into carpal tunnel syndrome.
But, I've conquered it through some serious scientific experimentation. I've tested a lot of different things over a period of a few months. One thing seemed to help particularly well. What works the best? Push-ups. (Interestingly enough, I came to this conclusion realizing that I never had trouble with this during a particularly typing intensive class in undergrad. ... but back then I was doing triathlons and running, swimming and biking quite a bit.)
Seriously. Here's the sure cure for your typing woes: Every morning, when you get up, do as many push-ups as you can in two minutes. I can do 80 on a good day... I know some people who can do a couple and I know people in the military who could do about 150.
It's best to try and cement this practice into your daily routine like you (hopefully) have done with brusing your teeth. While you're at it—if you can spare 4 minutes out of your day—you might want to do as many sit-ups (and not the old-school kind, but crunches) as you can in two minutes as well.
To ensure that I haven't corrupted the experiment, I should probably describe what else I did in the process and how much they've helped.
Ibuprofen. One of man's better inventions/discoveries. Ibuprofen can reduce swelling (which is what causes typing-related RSI) quite a bit. Be sure to take 600mg of Ibuprofen which is usually about 3 tablets. You might want to buy a gignatic bottle of this stuff from a nearby drugstore. You can usually get a 500 tablet bottle at a large grocery store.
Pay attention to how you're sitting. If your elbows are not supported that's a good sign that you're not sitting right. Plus, you should have the keyboard such that your forearms are parallel to the groud (if you have a laptop get an ergonomic keyboard that you can use and have the laptop at a higher level so that you don't have to look down at the screen).
If you're wrists/hands hurt really bad and there's no hope that you'll be able to stop typing anytime soon (like right now finals season), get a pair of wrist braces that you can wear at night to make sure your hand is kept in a "healing conducive" position.
I just got a little spam in my inbox... I get a ton of spam... I don't usually read it but for some reason I just did... and found it fascinating!!! Check this out (I'll bold phrases that I found particularly ethereal):
You can't go up to the unit. Nobody's allowed up there. I want you to hit me as hard as you can. You are not your khakis. But under the circumstances, I'd do it again.
I'm cold, you said, staring at the continuation we had to feel through yesterday. Are there a lot of these types of accidents? What are we going to do tonight? I asked. I can never describe the walk back to my truck.
Love, and hate, are powerful emotions. I was just thinking. Sounds good to me, I said. He extended his hand by way of introduction.
That could well be the answer. There were many examples of animals all around. I didn't have to say: can we change the meeting from 6 to 11? My kids have a music recital and I dont want to miss it for the world. Love what you do and do what you love I'd walk down to the stream, look around, and take a deep breath.
I'd thought it was sad to hate the forest the way she'd done.
208B: Blog Assignment 7
- LinkedIn. Connect with people you know. Fill out your profile.
- Analyze how you construct your identity on LinkedIn
The LinkedIn service (like many a YASNS) asks you to fill out a bunch of forms and then displays your identity to you and others one degree away. I found this a tad unintuitive as after filling out the forms, I only then became aware of how this would look in my profile. Naturally, after seeing this and the sweet titles that others had made up for themselves, I had to go back and change mine because it was too long and not catchy.
I found LinkedIn to be a tad strange in this respect... that is, it wants you to be someone with a career. I'm not sure I have a career... I have goals but even those (like "to help people") are somewhat abstract and span a whole slew of possible industries other than "make money" and "kill people".
- Is this service an effective way to find job connections? Why (not)?
LinkedIn is somewhat hobbled by the privacy vs. networking trade-off. For example, the only person that will read this blog entry, danah, has a shitload of connections and I'm sure they're all very interesting people. However, I'm not allowed to see any of her connections. In social networking, this is a squeeze spot... that is, none of danah's connections will ever know I am connected to her and won't be able to connect with me, presumably because of privacy considerations.
Doesn't that defeat the whole idea of networking? I think they need a more complex model and infrastructure for networked connections. People should be able to 1) decide which of their connections are viewable by others of their connections (which could be a pain in the ass but undoubtedly better than the current state of affairs) and 2) decide whether or not a certain connections connections can view their profile.
- Analyze the service considering the Granovetter readings.
It's all about information theory... signal to noise. LinkedIn practically floods us with noise as people put themselves on a pedestal. That's why any real employment connections that are catalyzed by LinkedIn will have to be vetted to ensure that one is who they say they are.
208B: Blog Assignment 6
How can social software help to build new kinds of public space and discourse? Analyze one of the networked political organizations (such as MeetUp or MoveOn – or others) to understand how new forms of political coordination and power are being created.
Well MeetUp is definitely more of a social space facilitating real-world interaction whereas MoveOn is more just a regular website that attempts to galvanize people around focused campaigns. MoveOn seems particularly good at raising money through donations and stuff like the bakesales they had in April. In that sense, MeetUp is much more interesting to analyze.
Meetup has various different fora all with one aim: to get people together in the real world who share a common characteristic. There are meetups for various things like knitting and spanish speaking but some of the most popular are politically related and centered around political figures like Barbara Boxer, John Kerry and George W. Bush.
These meetup sites allow all sorts of interaction from providing more information that members or interested parties might find useful, to fora where people can discuss things to organizing tools that allow the real world meetups to happen. From a cursory glance at various meetups, they appear popular... that is, many people have "signed up" for particular meetups. However, the pictures in most of these seem to betray the fact that when a real meetup happens it's no more than a handful of people. That's probably a good thing as I could imagine very efficient software combined with determined people could make for crowded bars of knitters and gente que estan hablando español.
Mayo 13, 2004
MovableType goes corporate...
Oh crap, Movable Type will start to charge customers with version 3.0. Everyone, if you've ever even thought about blogging, download or upgrade to 2.66* and stay there. We can release GPL'd patches (but we can't distribute the original application).
MT has released a pricing scheme for their version 3.0. Fine and dandy. It's entirely understandable that they want to make cash off their software but their pricing schemes are too high and too limiting. For a personal license which allows you 3 authors and 5 weblogs, they want $100, but if you act NOW you can get it for the still high high price of $69.95. Of course there is still a free version, rather limiting though, that allows you 1 author and 3 weblogs.
Mayo 11, 2004
Quick round-up: GPL'd MS Exchange, Faculty say no to PATRIOT Act, Science.gov launched
Finals are rough... going to be brief.
Way to go UC Berkeley Academic Senate!
BERKELEY – In an unusual unanimous vote, the Berkeley Division of the UC Academic Senate has approved a resolution challenging the federal Patriot Act and its application on campus.
By a 105-0 vote at a special meeting Thursday evening, senate members condemned the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) for provisions that, in the words of the resolution, "violate basic civil rights of students, faculty, and staff of the University of California at Berkeley."
Way to go US Government!
FirstGov has just announced their new search engine which searches US Government public science information - http://Science.gov.
"Evolution Connector allows Microsoft Exchange Server 2000/2003 users to easily manage their e-mail, calendars, group schedules, address books, public folders and tasks from Linux desktops."
Mayo 10, 2004
New Google Blog hints at tons o' jobs!
Google has got a new blog... and it appears to be some sort of human resources outlet. Boy, I can imagine a ton of people perfect for the description below. Just the kind of mix that SIMS will be graduating this week.
So, if you're looking for a place to plug into Google, we're trying to make it easy for you. We're looking for talented software engineers, top programmers and visionary computer scientists to tackle everything from distributed systems and information retrieval to algorithms, UI, and scalability challenges. And of course to unplug the lava lamps occasionally so they don't overheat.