Archive for the ‘To Be Categorized’ Category
And Apple is removed from my sh*t list… September 9, 2010 | 09:25 am

Just wanted to post this link, wherein Apple rescinds it’s restrictions on what development tools app developers can use. I hereby withdraw my call to boycott Apple.

The Indie3 Project is Live! June 16, 2010 | 12:11 pm

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to, the answer is a whole lot. But among other things, I’ve been working on the The Indie3 Project, a call to commit to keeping independent music alive by buying three independent albums a month. To make this easy on you, there’s a podcast with three recommended albums each month (and with an easy URL to do so!).

Attached to this blog post (and on the EnfranchisedMind podcast feed) is the introduction to The Indie3 Project by Crystal, the one-time co-host of Dave’s Lounge.

Hash tables revisted March 17, 2010 | 05:38 pm

Just a quick note, I wanted to point this paper out to everyone here. Basically, the author demonstrates a denial of service attack using engineered hash collisions to force the programs into worst case behavior situations, just like I commented way back then.

And I’m not sure how much faith I’d put into a new hash algorithm being the savior here. The security of the system now relies on the cryptographic robustness of the hashing algorithm- remember, the attacker only has to find a sequence which demonstrates worst case, or near worst case, behavior in order to launch the denial of service attack. So if there is a cryptographic flaw in the algorithm which allows a malicious attacker to discover collisions much cheaper than brute force, then it becomes computationally feasible for the attacker to compute the worst case sequence, especially once they put their botnet on to it.

What Do You Have on Sex, Spirituality, and Religion? January 12, 2010 | 10:43 am

If you bump into interest books, articles, blogs, or blog posts regarding sex, spirituality, and religion, let me know. I’m gathering up information for another project. More details forthcoming.

Warning: Toshiba External HDD Sucks for Linux January 11, 2010 | 09:43 am

At the end of last year, I set out to back up my computers and create a centralized location for music. I ended up picking up the very excellent SimpleNET network adapter. That network adapter is great: it’s basically a tiny Linux box (even has SSH!), so you can either simply plug drives in and manage it via the web interface, or you can ssh in, set up cron jobs, etc., etc. All for ~$80. It’s really cool.

The problem is that I also picked up a Toshiba external HDD to plug into this beast. The Toshiba drive exposes not *one* but *two* volumes. These two volumes are not two partitions: they are two distinct volumes. One is a “Virtual CD” riddled with Windows software, and there’s no way to get rid of it. A few hours of searching the Internet and hacking on the thing later, I finally gave up and ran it back to Best Buy.

I then picked up an HP SimpleSave, which has better reviews (especially from Linux users). Of course, the one I grabbed has a bent USB connection, so it was utterly worthless. Exchanged it for a new one at Best Buy, plugged it in, and life is good.

Hard Drive Hygene: Downloads Zero November 24, 2009 | 11:54 am

I recently blew my computer away and re-built everything from scratch. IA lot of cruft had built up, and instead of trying to scour my computer, I just punted and started all over.

One of the things I’ve done is adopted a kind of “Downloads Zero” approach (akin to “Inbox Zero“): I had built up a lot of crap in the Downloads folder, and I had become afraid of what to throw away and what was important. This ate up a bunch of hard drive and was generally a source of low-grade anxiety that I didn’t need. So I’ve implemented a new plan: each I log into my computer, I wipe the Downloads folder completely. This means that if something’s important in Downloads, I have to consciously move it out of that folder and into someplace else. So far, it’s going great: there’s a surprisingly refreshing feeling when I see an empty Downloads folder!

To implement this on OS-X, create a folder named ~/logs and a file named ~/bin/cleanup_downloads.command with the following content:

rm -PRf ~/Downloads/* 1> /dev/null 2> /dev/null

Then, in System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items, click the little + and select ~/bin/cleanup_downloads.command.

Two Applications Everyone Should Be Running October 31, 2009 | 10:14 am

If you’ve got a computer and it’s got some spare clock cycles/bandwidth/memory (which is almost certainly true), then you really should be running the following programs. This is “should” in the sense of “you should feed the poor”.

  • Tor — This system provides anonymity online. Even if you don’t use it yourself, running a server in the Tor network provides opportunities to the vast array of people who use Tor to protect themselves and evade oppressive governments: see the description of various users here. At least run as a non-exit node in the Tor network (reject *:* in torrc, or unchecking all the boxes in Vidalia), although allowing exits to port 80 (“Websites” in Vidalia) and 422 (“Secure Websites (SSL)” in Vidalia) make lots of people happy with relatively minimal abuse possibilities.
  • BOINC — Although this started as [email protected]1, there are all kinds of projects you can subscribe to now from across a variety of fields. The big ones are here.

1 Please read all the way through Brian’s The Fermi Paradox post before committing your clock cycles to the [email protected] project in lieu of more immediately and directly beneficent project.

Why Apple Rejected Google Voice July 31, 2009 | 01:45 pm

Seems there’s some hatred on Apple because they bounced Google Voice from the app store (cite). What surprises me is that this is pissing off people now: seems to be spreading throughout the internet, but let me highlight this particular article, and especially this quote:

I haven’t heard a single explanation for the rejection of the Google Voice app that makes a shred of sense at all.

What’s funny is that if you read the previous two paragraphs, the answer jumps right out at you:

Fact: Apple continues to sell iPhone apps that permit you to send free SMS messages. No problems there either.

Fact: You can still do everything that the Google Voice app would have done by accessing the web interface through Safari, albeit slightly less conveniently.


Imagine Google Voice was allowed on. Imagine that its “in the cloud” nature or its ease-of-use makes it a common go-to application for SMS, and people share their Google Voice number for incoming phone calls and use the Google Voice app to place their outgoing calls. In short: most of the iPhone’s core functionality is replaced by Google Voice.

Now imagine Apple pisses you off, and you decide to switch. No problem: switch to a Pre. Same carrier, same Google Voice functionality: didn’t even have to move over your contacts. That’s no biggie to you, but a big biggie to Apple: they just lost a gizmo junkie. Read the rest of this entry

Favorite April Fool’s Pages April 1, 2009 | 01:16 pm

Just like last year (cite), I’m cataloging some of my favorite April Fool’s jokes.

Google has triggered the singularity by giving the internet sentience: this is its home page. The technical specifications include a picture of Descartes and other fun stuff.

Help Save the Best Browser Around: Save IE6.

More Ruby Type Weirdness March 5, 2009 | 12:20 pm

Back in My Fundamental Issue with Ruby, I complained about Ruby’s types without the ability to work with/understand types.

Just had another example of the issue. I’ve got this code:

path = ['foo', 'bar', 'baz']
msg.step = path.shift
if msg.step == 'foo'
   # Do something smart

The problem was that the “do something smart” line was working just fine, and then strangely wasn’t ever being hit later on. WTF?

Turns out the issue is that “msg” is an ActiveRecord instance, and “step” changed from a string type to an integer type in the database, so when I assigned a string to “step”, it silently stored it as 0.

Seriously, either be typed or don’t be typed. It hurts to sit on the fence like this.

(In more positive news, I note that Rails is really a slick system these days, with the exception of its ORM. I’m taking notes for a Grails vs. Rails blog post coming up, which I hope to be more constructive than my previous forays into the area.)