Monday, -4 January 2005
[Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday]
[Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday]
- We're starting the New Year a bit early around here, because I
don't want one of my weekly journal pages to span 2004 and 2005. I just
don't get it. I proposed a perfectly reasonable replacement calendar,
13 months of 28 days each with intercalendary days as required, and my
proposal was met with resounding silence. Some physics professor no one
has ever heard of proposed a replacement calendar inferior to mine, and
I read about it in the morning paper. Oh, well.
I'm getting weary of the machinations of the RIAA and MPAA. Just last
week, the MPAA succeeded in shutting down suprnova.org, a BitTorrent
site. This despite the fact that suprnova.org had done nothing wrong.
Suprnova.org had posted no copyrighted material for download, nor was
it a party to any copyright infringements that occurred. The MPAA
argued that suprnova.org "facilitated" copyright infringement, but that
is a specious argument. One could make exactly the same argument for
shutting down local libraries, which "facilitate" copyright
infringement by lending books, CDs, and DVDs.
To state the obvious, telling someone how to do something is not the
same thing as doing it, nor does pointing someone to another location
constitute wrongdoing. That's true whether or not you suspect or even
know that person's intentions. Think about it. Someone stops you on the
street and asks you for directions to the nearest bank branch. Using
your directions, that person finds the bank, which he robs. Are you
guilty of bank robbery? Of course not. Even if you suspected that the
person to whom you gave
directions intended to rob the bank, you yourself would not be guilty
bank robbery. And yet, if such abominable laws as the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act were extended to cover bank robbery, you would
Let's go further. Let's assume that you write a book, Bank Robbery for Imbeciles. In it,
you detail how to rob banks without getting caught. A typical bank
robber, being from the left side of the bell curve, usually walks into
a bank and demands money. He's nearly always caught, either at the
scene, fleeing the scene, or shortly afterwards because he can't keep
his mouth shut. But there are many things a bank robber could do to
increase the probability of avoiding capture. Pournelle and Niven
listed a couple in Lucifer's Hammer.
I can think of a dozen more off the top of my head, as I'm sure they
could have. So you explain all of this to your readers (keeping it at a
4th grade reading level, which matches your target market.) You list
sources for masks, handguns, and everything else a would-be bank robber
might need. You include a couple of templates to help them create their
own hold-up note, emphasizing good penmanship or, better, a laser
printer. (A bank robber doesn't want the teller to think his note
reads, "I have a gub.")
Your book sells tens of thousands of copies. Bank robbery becomes the
new fad, and many bank robbers are now getting away with it. Are you
guilty of bank robbery? Nope. You didn't rob any banks. You're guilty
of nothing except
exercising your First Amendment rights. And that is exactly what
suprnova.org and similar sites are guilty of, and nothing else. And
yet, they've been shut down, not because they did anything wrong, but
because they couldn't afford to fight the MPAA behemoth.
The MPAA trumpeted this "victory" over suprnova.org as the beginning of
the end for BitTorrent. It isn't, of course. It's no harder now to find
a torrent for whatever you wish to download than it was before
suprnova.org was shut down. The Internet regards censorship as damage
and routes around it. Each time the MPAA or RIAA cuts one head off the
hydra, two more spring up elsewhere.
I wish some brave politician would step up and tell the RIAA and MPAA
that recorded music and films are not copyrightable. Period. There is
no Constitutional authority for Congress to provide copyright
protection except to "Authors" and their "Writings". That excludes
music, films, and binary software, although software source code
certainly falls within the category of protectable "Writings". In the
absence of a Constitutional Amendment, any copyright law that protects
recorded music, films, or binary software is prima facie
unConstitutional and void.
Interestingly, strict construction of the copyright provision would
protect GPL software, which is supplied with source code, but not
commercial software, almost none of which is supplied with source code.
Nor is the traditional workaround acceptable, in which a commercial
software vendor supplies only the first and last 20 pages of source
code when applying for a copyright. A key aspect of copyright is that
only that which has been revealed can be protected. When I copyright
one of my books, I (or my publisher) am required to submit two copies
of the entire book to the Library of Congress. Not just the first and
last 20 pages.
Nor should software be patentable. Those who argued against software
patents have been proven right in spades. Even the strongest proponents
of software patents, such as Microsoft, are learning by hard experience
that software patents are very much a two-edged sword. Defending
against and eventually settling the Eolas patent claims cost Microsoft
close to a billion dollars, and that was just one of the many thousands
of patents that Microsoft software potentially infringes. If Microsoft
continues to push its patent campaign against open source software,
they're likely to find themselves defending patent claims by IBM and
Novell that might total in the tens of billions of dollars.
I don't expect Microsoft to back down completely, though, because
patents are about the last arrow in their quiver. Desktop Linux really
arrived in 2004, and in 2005 it will continue nibbling at Windows'
market share. I expect to see many high-profile "wins" for desktop
Linux in 2005, along with the continuing large-scale desktop Linux
deployments already announced. Linux is already eating Microsoft's
lunch in server space, but that's not where Microsoft makes its money.
Windows and Office provide the vast bulk of Microsoft's revenue and
profits, and both are under attack. Microsoft has to do something to
stem the tide, and I don't know what they can do except launch a patent
I suspect Microsoft will bide its time, waiting for the outcome of the
SCO lawsuit. If the court grants IBM's motion to dismiss, the SCO case
is effectively over, and I'd expect Microsoft to come out swinging
sooner rather than later. If the court allows the SCO suit to proceed,
Microsoft may well wait for the outcome of that case before they begin
a higher-profile, higher-risk direct attack on Linux.
No matter what happens, it's likely to be an interesting year.
- One of my subscribers emailed me a copy of yet another
phishing scam he'd received, this one purporting to be from eBay.
Phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated. In the early days, they
were often marginally literate and provided other clues that should
have warned anyone they were scams. Nowadays, that's no longer true.
Many phishing scams so closely resemble actual email from the companies
being spoofed that it's impossible to tell just by looking at them that
they are fakes.
It's become so bad that I no longer bother to read any email that
purports to have been sent by oft-victimized companies like PayPal and
eBay. I don't even attempt to verify such emails. Instead, if I receive
a convincing-looking email from a company with whom I have an account,
I simply visit that company's web site by manually typing its address
into my browser. If there really is a problem, they'd better have it
posted on their front page, or I'll never know about it.
Most of my readers do the same, I suspect. But it's worth taking the
time to tell our less Internet-savvy family and friends that any such
message should be treated with extreme suspicion, and that any link in
such a message should be considered bogus. Phishing stops working if
everyone ignores all suspect email.
Tuesday, -3 January 2005
[Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday]
[Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday]
[Sunday] [Next Week]
- I'll get some writing done this week, although I'll also be
spending a lot of time on year-end administrative stuff like pulling
year-end archive backups. Also Barbara is starting her deep clean this
week, which means it's time for my biennial office cleaning.
I don't make New Year's resolutions, although I do have some plans for
the coming year. In addition to revising current books and writing new
ones, I want to complete our migration to Linux for all of our
production systems, including servers. Windows will be exiled to the
test-bed ghetto, where I'll use it only for product testing, shooting
screen captures, and so on. I'd also like to drop our cable television
service and our telephone service, replacing both with IP-based
substitutes, although that may have to wait until 2006. This coming
year will also be the Year of the Quiet PC around here. I plan to
upgrade or replace all of our current systems with ones that are as
quiet as possible. Every new system I build, with the possible
exception of some budget test-bed systems, will be designed and built
to be inaudible, or nearly so.
2005 may also be the Year of AMD, at least around here. How things
change in a year. A year or so ago, AMD was on the ropes, hemorrhaging
cash, and it looked as though they might not survive. Then two things
happened. First, the Intel Prescott Pentium 4 failed to live up to
expectations, to put it kindly. Instead of merely doing a die shrink on
Northwood, which would have given them a cool-running processor with
lots of clock speed headroom, Intel re-architected the Northwood core
and ended up with a new core that was slower than the old core and
generated a lot more heat. Tastes terrible, more filling.
That might not have mattered so much had not AMD surprised nearly
everyone, including me, by flawlessly executing their Athlon 64 rollout
last summer and then the fall transition to their 90 nm parts. So, in
2004, Intel did nearly everything wrong and AMD did nearly everything
right. Not that Intel is in any danger of failing. Intel has so many
resources that it can afford mistakes that would put AMD in Chapter 11,
and the Pentium 4 is still a first-rate processor. But, as a result of
their stumble and AMD's nearly perfect execution, Intel now faces AMD
on a level playing field. Only AMD's limited production capacity will
restrict it to 30% or so market share. If AMD had the fabs, Intel would
be in much deeper trouble. As it is, AMD won't be able to meet demand.
The upside of that is that their average selling price will remain high
and they will profit handsomely.
At least that's true for the next 18 months or so. At that point, Intel
and AMD will both be introducing new processor families and my guess is
that the momentum will again swing to Intel. In the interim, though,
the processor market won't change much. This year will be the first in
living memory that Intel won't increase clock speeds. They'll enter and
depart 2005 with the Pentium 4 running at 3.8 GHz. It's not that Intel
doesn't want to ship faster processors. It's that they can't. They've
simply run out of headroom. The 3.8 GHz processor already generates so
much heat that it's simply not feasible to run it faster. Although AMD
could introduce much faster Athlon 64s--their 90 nm process leaves them
considerable headroom--I don't expect them to do more than bump their
speeds one or two levels in 2005. Why would they? Their fastest
processors are already faster than Intel's fastest, so shipping still
faster Athlon 64 processors would just leave money on the table.
I'm also thinking about shifting to blogging software in 2005. Don't
worry, though. If I do that, I'd maintain the weekly format of this
journal, including the most-recent-last layout. Roland Dobbins has been
encouraging Jerry Pournelle and me to look at blogging software, not
because he wants to see our journals turn into the
most-recent-first-linkfest messes typical of many blogs, but because he
wants us to provide RSS feeds. Jerry and I are both unfamiliar with RSS
and told Roland so. He sent the following, which is helpful.
Which is generous, but probably optimistic. Jerry would need to nearly
double his page-read and visitor counts to qualify as an "A-list"
blogger. I'd have to quadruple or quintuple mine. I don't doubt that
having an RSS feed would increase readership for both of us, but I
wonder if it could actually double Jerry's readership, let alone
Wednesday, -2 January 2005
[Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday]
[Sunday] [Next Week]
- Barbara is taking tomorrow and Friday off to start her deep
clean, so there may not be much posted here until next week. We'll be
cleaning my office, which means taking down the network and
disassembling all the computers to clean them as well. I may take that
opportunity to upgrade the fans and CPU coolers in some of the systems
to quiet them down. Since everything will be disconnected, I'll also
rejigger the power cabling to route everything in my office to one of
the Falcon Electric UPSs.
I'd thought about pulling the hard drive from messier--which until July was my
primary Windows 2000 desktop system and is now functioning as an ad hoc file server--installing
Xandros on it, and turning it into a serious server. I think I'll wait,
though. A company whose name I can't mention is about to go into beta
with a Linux server distro that will be similar in functionality to
Microsoft Small Business Server. Rather than build a server around
Xandros Desktop Linux, I think I'll hold off until that distro is
In the interim, I may just move all the data from messier to hypatia (my primary Xandros Desktop
box) and set up hypatia as a
temporary server. I could then strip messier
down to bare metal and donate it to Senior Services. Messier
is a Pentium 4 box with 512 MB of memory, SCSI, and a DDS-3 tape drive,
so it could function as a decent desktop system or small server for
them. I also have some other usable systems around here that I should
get cleaned up and ready to donate.
I've got a lot to do, so I'd better get to it. I'll be back here
Monday, if not before then.
-1 January 2005
[Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday]
[Sunday] [Next Week]
- Is it just me, or does anyone else wonder about the tsunami
casualty figures? I suspect they have the same relation to reality as
Vietnam-era body counts, if that. I mean, think about it. Several
countries, most of them very poor, hope to receive billions of dollars
in aid. Surely it's in their interests to exaggerate the number of
deaths as much as possible to increase the amount of aid they receive.
I don't understand in the first place why US taxpayer dollars are being
sent to assist tsunami victims. If individuals and private charities
want to send money, fine. That's their decision. But the US government
has no business sending taxpayer dollars. In particular, it has no
business sending taxpayer dollars to aid Islamic countries, whose
citizens celebrated in the streets on 9/11. I have a long memory.
Apparently some people don't.
And the UN criticizes the US as "stingy" despite the fact that the US
donates more aid than all other countries combined. Give me a break. If the
US suffers a huge natural disaster, who sends help to us? I'll tell
you. The UK, Canada, and Australia. That's it. Those countries are our
only real friends, and I think we should limit our disaster aid to them.
If the US has a spare billion dollars lying around, I can think of
better things to do with it than sending it to Southeast Asia. US Air
is about to go into liquidation, throwing thousands of people out of
work in Winston-Salem and Pittsburgh. One of our neighbors worked for
US Air. Yesterday was her last day. She cleaned out her desk before
leaving work. She has a mortgage to pay and no immediate prospects for
finding another job. Usama bin Laden, with the active assistance of the
TSA, wrecked her life. Ask her if the US government should be sending a
billion dollars to aid tsunami victims.
We have now completely migrated to Linux. I beat my
self-imposed migration deadline with a day or two to spare. We now have
systems running in the house, although I do have various test-bed
systems that still have Windows installed. But for production systems,
we're now 100% Linux. Oh, I may cheat a bit, for example if I want to
run a Windows-only game, but Windows is pretty much gone. Even the Home
Theater PC has been stripped of Windows. I'm going to rebuild it from
the ground up as a Linux HTPC, using MythTV
or perhaps MediaPortal.
Messier, my former primary
desktop Windows 2000 system, which had been serving temporarily as a
file server, is now shut down. I transferred all the data off it
yesterday. That amounted to about 50 GB of archived data. About half of
that is probably useless, most of which is in the install directory. I
mean, how likely am I ever to need the RedHat psyche ISOs or NT4 SP3?
I copied everything to adelie,
Barbara's Xandros Desktop 2.5 system. If I'm going to use any of our
desktop systems as a server, it makes sense to use Barbara's. I don't
touch it very often, so it's very stable. It's also connected to a
Falcon Electric UPS.
There are three new top-level directories now on //adelie/home/barbara. (I put them
there to make it easy for Barbara to access everything.)
The data in usr get backed up
to DVD every morning, and several times a day to backup directories on hypatia, my primary office system.
The data in holding get
backed up sporadically, each time I sweep data from usr to holding. The data in archive get backed up infrequently,
when I sweep data from holding
to archive. I sweep from usr to holding each time usr approaches the maximum capacity
of a DVD, and from holding to
archive each time holding
approaches the capacity of a DVD. Because I consider the unrecoverable
bit error rate of DVD+R/RW to be unacceptably high, everything is
written to at least two DVDs and usually several. Massive redundancy
solves the bit error rate problem. If I can't recover a file from one
disc, I can get it from another.
- archive - old stuff
- holding - stuff awaiting
transfer to archive
- usr - current working
data (the name is a relic from our first network in 1989)
Barbara has started her Deep Clean, which means she turns into the
White Tornado. I hear a roaring noise approaching from the hall. It's
coming to get me! I see a large, flat, reptilian head poking around the
corner, attached to a long snake-like body. It's sucking up everything
in sight. Oh, no! It's got my foot! Arrrrrrrgggggghhhhh....
0 January 2005
[Saturday] [Sunday] [Next
- These things have started appearing everywhere.
The one to the upper left is a King Penguin named Tux. The one in the
middle is an Adélie Penguin named Tux, who looks like he's
started celebrating early. The one to the lower right is an Emperor
Penguin named Tux. (I was thinking about naming one of them Pengium 4,
but Barbara nixed that idea.)
- I've been working pretty much straight through all day on my
office, with some interruptions to help Barbara do various stuff, and
I've finished... my desk.
I dusted, vacuumed, and degrunged everything on the desktop, and
removed a bunch of cables and cords that were no longer necessary.
While I had my primary system out for cleaning, I popped the lid of the
Antec Aria and configured the Pentium 4 Northwood to run at 2.8 GHz
(about 69W) rather than 3.2 GHz (about 82W). I can do that because I
use Engineering Sample processors provided by Intel, which have
unlocked multipliers. I can't tell any difference at all in
performance, and reducing power consumption by 13W should let the
system run noticeably cooler and quieter.
Not that that will make much difference, as it turns out. I also
installed a 1.5 KVA Falcon
Electric on-line UPS. They call it a mini-tower unit,
and that's exactly what it looks like, including not one but two large
fans on the back. The UPS sits on top of a second Falcon Electric
mini-tower unit, this one a supplemental battery. I'm not sure how much
the supplemental battery will extend run time, but I expect by quite a
lot. The thing weighs about 125 pounds, nearly all of it battery.
I'm not going to have any UPS capacity problems. The UPS has a series
of LEDs to indicate load. The first one is 25%, and it barely flickers
from time to time. That's with two computers, one a P4/2.8C and one a
P4/3.4EE, a 19" CRT, a 17" CRT, a speaker system, a bunch of networking
equipment, a scanner, and my desk lamp.
Speaking of the 19" CRT, it's my Hitachi SuperScan Elite 751. As I was
cleaning it up, I noticed that it was made in January 1999, so it's
about to turn six years old. After nearly six years of constant use,
image quality and brightness are as good as ever. That's the difference
between a top-notch monitor and a second- or third-rate one. A cheap
one would have died long ago.
1 January 2005
[Saturday] [Sunday] [Next
- Happy New Year!
Barbara and I went to bed last night well before midnight. I knew
when midnight arrived because the fireworks started. The dogs weren't
happy. Duncan, seeking protection, levitated up onto the bed next to
Barbara, and Malcolm started barking at every pop, boom, or whistle.
Poor Duncan. He turns 10 years old today. Every one of his birthdays
has been welcomed with fireworks, which terrify him.
Windows NT 4 Server is no more. For all intents and purposes, Microsoft
discontinued support as of today. Large businesses, those with a
few dozen servers or more, can continue to receive limited pay-for
support through year-end 2006, but for the rest of us NT4 Server is now
I'll surprise some people by agreeing with Microsoft. They point out
that Windows NT4 Server was introduced more than eight years ago and
that the world has changed. They are providing support, albeit at a
price, for large-scale users through December 31, 2006. That's more
than a decade after the software shipped, which is certainly reasonable.
I'll differ with Microsoft, though, about the best course to take.
They, of course, recommend upgrading NT4 Server boxes to their current
server product. I think that's a dumb thing to do, particularly for
those who are using Windows primarily or only as a file and print
server. It's no harder to migrate from NT4 Server to a Linux or FreeBSD
box running Samba than it is to migrate to Microsoft's current server
software. The OSS route is a lot cheaper, and not just in terms of
software licensing. Linux or FreeBSD will probably run fine on your
current server, and in fact will probably perform better than NT4
Server did. If you go the Windows upgrade route, you're probably
looking at major hardware upgrades at a minimum, and more likely buying
all new servers.
Now is a good time to cut the cord.
I sent a query to some of my Linux-guru friends about which Linux
migrating from NT4 Server should consider using. Here are the responses
NT4 Server replacement?
Date: Fri, 31
Dec 2004 12:55:08 -0800
Lincoln, Brian Bilbrey
I wouldn't go
with Linux at all, but with FreeBSD . . . far easier to install and
NT4 Server replacement?
Date: Fri, 31
Dec 2004 17:46:15 -0500
Bruce Thompson, Greg Lincoln
wouldn't go with Linux at all, but with FreeBSD . . . far easier to
the small business person who just barely managed to keep his head
above water with Windows NT 4.0? Hmmm, I'm running a FreeBSD 5.3
install in VMware now to see if there's anything useful there for the
Roland, I'd probably agree with you on OS merits alone, if I knew
FreeBSD better. I'm pretty happy with building a minimal install Debian
Samba server, too.
about Xandros, if you haven't had a chance to play with it yet is that
they've made GUI management of the underlying Debian base tools
brain-dead simple, but you can still get in and muck with the text
config files when you learn enough to be dangerous. Xandros' business
server edition is likely to provide ease-of-configuration access to the
more arcane settings for Samba as a PDC with roaming profiles and all
that (not in the current edition).
Enterprise Linux 3.0 ES, with support (which the migrating windows
business dude is going to need) costs ~800 in year one. Thereafter, he
can buy the support-free annual renewal (~ $350) just for the updates,
and go with per-incident if needed. This is cheaper than Windows Server
2003, but not cheaper than the direct cost of Windows Server 2003 Small
Business ... until you look at ~100 /seat in CALs. Bang, there goes the
bucks. Okay, so learning this Linux thing, or FreeBSD...
which, how are we doing with that install. Lessee, when the CD finished
initial spinup, it asks what I want to boot. Not what I want to
install, but what to boot. Eeeek, and there's a countdown timer, um,
um... press the power button and call Microsoft.
those dang CAL costs... Um. Bob, I'd recommend they wait for Xandros
Business Server edition. I think there's a decent chance it'll be good
right in a lot of ways, except that they're just NOT going to spend the
time to learn the BSD way, or the Linux limbo. If the tools are
familiar enough to go with, and the underlying thing (Debian in the
case of Xandros) is stable and recommended and more secure than Windows
Server ... why the hell not. It's better than feeding them to the borg.
I kept on with the FreeBSD install anyway.
didn't know much about what I was doing, I took whatever default seemed
best. All packages installed. Set up the ethernet ... not much harder
than with Windows, but sure is an ugly text screen. Take defaults on
everything else. That's right, no SSH running by default. God knows how
I'll ever turn it on later, being a windows dweeb. I got the mouse
working ... and the default for Ports is "Yes".
That's a good
thing because stuff I'm going to need is in there. But if I don't
*know* that Samba is the name of the package that provides Windows
networking interoperability, I'm done. Yes, I can ask questions of
Google and on mailing lists. God forbid the nascent admin ever ends up
by accident on OpenBSD-Misc, or they'll call him a troll for asking
stupid questions, a fuckwit for asking questions badly, and a moron for
not reading the man pages. That's bound to convert him to the one true
managed to install and login. The message sends me to the Handbook and
the FAQ on the freebsd.org site, so I can go start reading... That's
almost as good as hearing someone say, "Don't Panic!" Except that the
words likely out of my mouth next are, "Panic about what?" Han Solo
said it best: "I've got a bad feeling about this."
Okay, I found
the handbook, there's a link right on the index page. Whoa. Buried down
in chapter 23, section 10 is the Samba part. It *does* identify itself
as being the tool for Windows networking and printer sharing, so I
could at least find it. It's only a page and a half long, does tell me
what to type where to make it run right, but doesn't tell me right
there what to do to install it if I didn't already. I can figure that
out with time... Gets me into SWAT and sends me off to www.samba.org.
isn't something that a small business man is going to do for himself.
Period. Not FreeBSD. Certainly not OpenBSD. He'll go with DeadRat, or
find that Bob recommends waiting for Xandros (IF they do a server
version, heh heh heh), or the SMB guy will go with the Borg, because
it's simpler, and simple has it's cost-savings associated with it.
Of course the
greatest likelihood for those shops still running NT4 is that they'll
keep doing so, and hope they get by. What's good enough for Comair is
good enough for me!
Which pretty much sums it up, I think.
I see that the RIAA and MPAA have taken their efforts against "piracy"
to a whole new level. Agents of these organizations are actively
P2P networks by distributing Trojaned music and video files that
contain adware and other nasties.
Which kind of makes me wonder. Why haven't P2P networks gone private?
By that I mean why don't we have P2P network software designed to be
used only among friends rather than the world at large? I remember
something about such a product being announced a year or so ago, but I
haven't heard anything more about it since.
Going private would really put the screws to the RIAA and MPAA.
First, under Fair Use provisions of existing law, it's arguably legal
for me to give copies of CDs and videos to friends for personal use,
and to receive such copies from them. That was the defense Grokster
originally used, and it might have worked had not the judge found it
hard to believe that Grokster users were distributing music files only
to their 100,000 closest friends.
Second, private P2P networking would eliminate all entry points for the
RIAA and MPAA. There wouldn't be any public P2P servers, BitTorrent
sites, and so on for the RIAA and MPAA to attack. Membership would be
completely private. No one could join except by invitation, and
invitations would be issued only to someone who had been vouched for by
one or more existing members.
Third, the selection of music and videos to download would likely be
nearly as comprehensive as those on current P2P networks. Perhaps more
so, because friends often have similar tastes in music and videos, so
what one member didn't already have, another would be likely to have.
Fourth, all transfers could be encrypted. No one outside the private
ring would have any idea what was being transferred.
So, how might this work? Barbara has, I don't know, perhaps 400 or 500
audio CDs. I rip those CDs and encode them to MP3 and/or OGG. Or
perhaps I just leave them as .wav or .iso files. After all, 400 or 500
audio CDs is probably only a couple hundred gigabytes, and I have a lot
more hard disk space than that going unused. I publish the files to a
local directory, perhaps called /shared,
which is accessible to anyone in my private ring. Meanwhile, another
member of my private ring is busy ripping the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and
publishing those files to his /shared
When he next logs on, the private P2P up pops up a What's New list that
shows the 500 CDs I just published. There are a few dozen CDs he
doesn't have but thinks he might like, so he highlights the titles he
wants and clicks Download. The private P2P software running on my
system receives his request, and starts sending the files to him, in
encrypted form, of course. While that's going on, another member of the
group checks the What's New list and finds the new Buffy files, which he starts
Later on, I check in, planning to upload a few more CDs, and find that
the first season of Buffy is
now available for download. I tell the P2P app to go get those files
for me. Because they're now on two different members' systems, my P2P
software can use the upload bandwidth of both systems simultaneously to
get the Buffy files faster.
But it doesn't really matter how long it takes, because they'll end up
on my system sooner or later. When that happens, my P2P software pops
up a notification to tell me they're now on my local hard drive and
available for burning to DVD or just to run directly from my hard
drive. I don't have any idea where specifically those files came from,
except that they're from a member of my ring and therefore trustworthy.
Similarly, no one who downloads the CDs I posted has any idea that they
came specifically from me, only that they were provided by a member of
his trusted ring.
Such a scheme would be a nightmare for the RIAA and MPAA. Thousands,
tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of small rings would pop up,
each comprising from a half dozen to a couple dozen friends. Some
people would belong to two or three rings, so anything popular posted
on one ring might eventually become available on nearly all rings.
Unlike current P2P networks, which are all star-based in one way or
another, this network would be mesh-based. Even if RIAA or MPAA agents
somehow gained access to a ring, they would be stymied in their efforts
to unravel the thread. Initially, the only person they'd be able to
prove was a member of that ring would be the person who invited them to
join. Even if they were eventually able to uncover other members of the
ring, so what? They're merely friends sharing among themselves, which
is Fair Use.
And some more mail that I meant to post earlier...
BitTorrent and RSS feeds
Date: Wed, 29
Dec 2004 20:16:43 +0100
If you go to this BitTorrent site in Sweden:
Check out the
link that has to do with legal threats. The guy who runs the site is
very much aware of his rights by law and he isn't nice when he responds
to the big firms that are trying to bully him. He publishes their
letters in full as well as his answers to them. Very funny reading
indeed! It would be great if more people had the balls to do something
like this. Just be aware that his site might take a long time to
respond because as you can imagine, his site is seeing more traffic
than it can handle after suprnova and others were shut down.
As for RSS
reading, did you know that Thunderbird has such a reader feature? It
works quite well. As for blogging software, try out Wordpress. It is
customisable and very easy to set up. Brian uses it (and so do I).
Heh. Go Swedes! It's nice to know that some countries still have
rational copyright laws.
I have used the RSS feature in Firefox, although I haven't used
Thunderbird. I'll take a look at it and WordPress. Thanks.
Date: Tue, 28
Dec 2004 19:52:30 -0500
mentioned Vonage again today, and I have had it for a few months, I
thought I would drop you a quick note to let you know my experiences so
In the few
months I have had it, I am only aware of two interruptions in service,
neither due to Vonage. One was due to an electrical power outage
and the other was due to a short interruption in my broadband (cable
modem) Internet connection.
I got the
$14.99 limited usage plan. With taxes and fees, it works out to
$16.94 per month. The only other cost was $39.95 for the "black
box." Although I am sure you want to get the unlimited usage plan since
you work from home, and therefore probably place a lot more calls than
Also I have
noticed that at least Linksys has a broadband router with VOIP black
box functionality built in. Actually they have two, one for
Vonage and one for the AT&T VOIP service.
If you decide
to sign up for Vonage, check at Best Buy or Circuit City to see if they
have a package which includes the black box which works out to be a
better deal that just signing up directly with Vonage. Or if
nothing else, let me know, and I'll send you a referral email which
will get each of us a free month of service if you use it to sign up.
drawback I have found with Vonage is that I live in an apartment, and I
can't do anything to run phone wires. Which wouldn't be that bad
except my cable modem is in my bedroom, the one place I don't want a
phone ringer. So I found one of those cordless phones for which
you can buy extra extensions. I should have grabbed an extra base
unit when I had the chance so I could have a spare. Because if
the base or its power adapter dies, I'll be stuck with three useless
cordless phone handsets and chargers.
really been able to tell any difference in call quality between Vonage
and regular phone service. If you want to hear what a Vonage call
sounds like you can email me with your phone number and a suitable time
to call and I can call you. Or you can call me at <phone
Thanks. I'll probably eventually sign up with a provider like Vonage,
but I think I'll dip my toe in the water by playing with Skype and/or
the VoIP client that comes with Xandros 3.0.
Actually, what I'd really like to do is mount a web cam over my monitor
and get set up for a combination of VoIP and full-motion video.
Date: Tue, 28
Dec 2004 13:20:51 -0500
to ask you a question or two about Linux but your post about leaving
the land line telephone world prompted this.
I would never
drop my land line telephone service. It is the most reliable utility
and the savings is not worth the loss of service to me. This is
especially true in a natural disaster. The last utility to go out
is usually the phone and the first to go out is the cable TV.
Cell phones are only as good and the power to the nearest cell which is
not what it should be in a major disaster. During the aftermath of Fran
we were without power for six days at my office in Raleigh and the cell
phones were out within a day. The cell phones were in and out for four
more days but we never lost our regular telephone service. JMO
I want to
switch to Linux but I have not been able to find drivers for our Kodak
cameras (my older DC3400 and the wife's new Easy Share CX7430), my
scanner or our Palm Pilots (my old Palm IIIxe and the wife's new Zire).
my new e-mail address as we moved to Harnett County, just outside
Sanford, a few weeks ago.
That's an excellent point, and I'm also a bit concerned about the 911
issue. I have never understood why cable modem and xDSL providers don't
routinely provide a static IP address. It'd be easy enough to map that
to a physical location, which would eliminate the 911 issue.
As to Linux and your peripherals, are your cameras USB? If so, you
should be able to mount them as generic "USB Storage Device" and read
from and write to their memory/cards that way. As to your scanner,
check the SANE page for details about whether or not your particular
model is supported under Linux. As to PDA's, that's an excellent
question and one that I'm going to have to deal with shortly. Barbara
has a Sony CLIE that she needs to be able to sync to her Linux box.
There are several possibilities, including Evolution Korganizer, etc.
I'm hoping I can get at least one of them working. I'll post as I know
- Bits and pieces...
Ron Morse points out a hidden
danger over on the Hardwareguys messageboard.
is from the “this shouldn't happen but it does” file.
lost an ATI Radeon 9800Pro graphics card today because the cooler for
the VPU got clogged with dust and dog hair and quit turning. It may
have made some noise before it died...I wasn't in the room...but when I
came back there was no video and nothing I could do would get it back.
was easy...I pulled the card, turned it component side up and the
problem was evident. Although it took mere seconds to clean the
unit with canned air the fan had seized and the VPU toasted itself. The
amount of heat released was impressive. Some of the traces
delaminated and the board in the vicinity of the VPU was black and
blistered. Eventually the fuse link on the card did it's thing.
try to be rigorous about keeping the inside of the box clean, but the
PCI spec puts the components (and fans) of expansion cards facing
“down” in my mid-tower case. I couldn't (easily) visually inspect
card's HSF the last time I cleaned and apparently I didn't wave the
mini-vac' s wand in quite the right direction. I really don't like to
poke around on the component side of cards when I can't see what I'm
doing. You can bet that next time we will start with the canned air
before the vacuum.
going to try for a warranty replacement
but I won't fight about it...ATI is on holiday schedule this week and
not responding except via mail-bot. I probably won't mention
how the fan failed unless they ask more than once. In the
fortunate in that I had a spare card available and nothing else seems
to be damaged (or even dirty) although there are tales out there of
dying video cards taking their attached monitors with them to
moral is what you can't see can
indeed kill you. The problem could have been avoided had I taken the
trouble to bend down and look at the HSF on the “bottom” of the card.
But, I didn't and that sloth will cost me...at least shipping to get
the dead card back to ATI...perhaps the price of replacing the 9800Pro
with the equivalent, albeit better performing, product from the current
catalog. It lists for $400.
Which is something I never considered, because I blow out the dust in
my systems frequently enough that it's never been an issue.
And Samsung has announced a new zero-defect policy for their flat-panel
displays. Any Samsung FPD purchased from today on is guaranteed for the
first six months to have zero dead pixels. Given my high opinion
generally of Samsung FPD models, this change is just about enough for
me to recommend them exclusively. Suffice it to say that if you want an
FPD I'd recommend buying a Samsung model unless you have a very good
reason to buy something else. Alas, there's no retroactivity. Any
Samsung FPD bought 31 December 2004 or earlier is not covered.
2 January 2005
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