My Archives: February 2004

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Who says techies aren't poetic? Dozens contibuted Nigerian "419" scam haiku to the Register's contest. My favorite is

Autumn's email flood,
Small advance ensures windfall.
Outside, swine fly south.

Then there is this remarkable poem about the SCO/IBM/Linux flap, both stylistically and factually accurate, in the style of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Bells".

In last few days we've started receiving copies of the latest virus email (apparently MyDoom-F). These appear with cryptic subject lines and very short message bodies, so my spam filter isn't catching them. Fortunately my common-sense filter tells me not to open a mysterious email attachment with a .zip extension (and my email program shows the extension). Alas, judging from the number of these we've received, common sense is still rare...and some people are going to learn a hard lesson when this virus starts deleting their files.

Which brings me to the topic of backups. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:02 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I am still reeling from SEK3's death. He was a good friend to me, especially during a difficult period, and I don't have friends to spare. Life continues, even if it is a little less rich today than it was yesterday...and life must be pursued with humor and passion, love and truth...or else what's the point? And, so...I offer a full helping of cartoons and other funnies: Mike Luckovitch's latest cartoon "Caught in the Headlights"; Steve Sack's "Now Boarding Air Iraq"; Mark Fiore's animation "The All New 2004 Nader Candidate"; and, GOOD NEWS! from The Onion "Bush to Cut Deficit from the Federal Budget". [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:59 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Samuel E. Konkin, III...Rest in Peace

Over the weekend, SEK3 (as he was known to friends) died in his Los Angeles apartment, apparently of natural causes, after collapsing in the shower. SEK3 would have been 57 in a few months. Memorial services are being planned. In Los Angeles, the most likely location is the Alpine Village which SEK3 frequented and where the first Karl Hess Supper Club met. For those who wish to keep informed of memorial plans, they are being discussed and news about SEK3 is being post on his yahoo discussion list, now managed by Kent Hastings. (For those unacquainted with SEK3, I recommend the following interview "Smashing the State for Fun and Profit Since 1969.") His major work, "New Libertarian Manifesto," is available online.

Good journey, my friend. I will miss you.

Posted by mac @ 09:53 AM EST [Link]

Monday, February 23, 2004

Lotsa Cartoons!: Dan Wasserman's "Campaign Platform"; Steve Sack's "This Man's a Monster"; Tom Toles' "Iraq's WMD Plan"; and a good animation from Mark Fiore "Attack of the Gay Agenda!"

Interesting item: an American soldier is seeking asylum in Canada on the grounds of being a conscientous objector. Paul Martin, the new PM, is such a lapdog of Bush's that I doubt Canada will reprise the honorable stand taken by Lester Pearson when he allowed draft dodgers sanctuary during the Vietnam War. On the other hand, the US seems to be purposefully playing down the story. The National Post story advises that the asylum seeker will "be listed on a national [US] database and could be arrested, but the army won't go looking for him, said Sgt. Pam Smith, a spokeswoman for the 82nd Airborne, based at Fort Bragg." [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:06 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Wendy has suggested that, if I'm going to natter on about ports and probes and vulnerabilities, then perhaps I should take a moment to explain what I'm talking about. Those of you who are familiar with IP addressing can skip the rest of this post. [more]

Posted by brad @ 01:50 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, February 21, 2004

For once I'm nearly at a loss for words. After the Shrub's rant about steroid use, we now learn that DARPA is starting a project to create supermen. Or in their words, achieve "metabolic dominance". This sounds like one part body-building and three parts Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Read the DARPA solicitation yourself before they yank it off the web.


Posted by brad @ 04:34 AM EST [Link]

Friday, February 20, 2004

I like a company with a sense of humor. After an Amsterdam court ruled that "Lindows" infringed the "Windows" trademark, adopted the name (pronounced "Lindash") in the affected countries. Meanwhile a U.S. court has refused to enjoin Lindows from using the name; so Microsoft is suing next in Canada.

Security updates: if you're using Zone Alarm firewall, a flaw has been found which means you should download an updated copy. And the Microsoft MS04-007 ASN.1 flaw, mentioned here a few days ago, is now reported to also affect Windows 98 machines (and I'd guess Win 95 as well). No word of a patch for Win 9x yet. Sir Bill would really prefer that you upgrade to a new OS.

Posted by brad @ 09:12 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The book list that helps support this site has been updated. I thank you for taking the time to peruse it.Okay, okay...for those who need to be bribed by a bit of humor, I offer Joel Pett's "Haitians Wish They Were a Threat" and the "Full of Shat" website, which is self-explanatory once you get there! Also...and I know this is a serious news item but I find it hilarious..."Canada's government...condemned a show by U.S. late-night television host Conan O'Brien that insulted people in French-speaking Quebec and seemed to suggest everyone in the province was homosexual... At one point in the show, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog -- a hand puppet that is a regular on the show -- said to a Quebecer: 'You're French, you're obnoxious and you no speekay English.' It told another: 'I can smell your crotch from here'."

FAST!...News Updates on Privacy: [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:14 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Cartoon fix: Tom Tole's "We're Counting on it; Ted Rall's "The Evolution of War"; and, Drew Sheneman's "Defending the Military Records, Phase II".

My perception of the economy is increasingly at odds with the sunny updates and forecasts issuing from news stations. You know the ones...they are the same news outlets that spread confident accounts of the invasion of Iraq and the search for WMDs. [more]

Posted by mac @ 03:55 PM EST [Link]

Well, that didn't take long. Someone has already found a new vulnerability in the leaked Windows source code, and has written a proof-of-concept exploit (intended to show that the vulnerability is real, but not to spread or to do damage). Someone else has written a proof-of-concept exploit for the MS04-007 flaw reported last week. [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:56 AM EST [Link]

Monday, February 16, 2004

Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 users: If you have not yet applied Microsoft's MS04-007 patch, do it now. This was last week's "critical" alert. Like last year's Blaster worm, you don't need to open an infected email; merely being connected to the Internet puts your computer at risk. No worms are exploiting this yet, but the Internet Storm Center is reporting an increase in probing activity that may be aimed at this flaw, and suggests that a worm is "probably only days away." [more]

Posted by brad @ 02:53 PM EST [Link]

Why would someone pay for free software?

As someone who has, to date, bought five packaged copies of Linux and two updates*, perhaps I can shed some light on the question, and on the related question: what sense is there in a business model that involves selling something which can be downloaded for free on the 'Net? [more]

Posted by brad @ 01:45 PM EST [Link]

Cartoon and Other Funnies: Ed Hall's "In Case of Low Poll Numbers Break Glass"; Joel Pett's "Good Reasons" ; and, from SatireWire "God Names Next Chosen People".

See ya tomorrow!

Posted by mac @ 01:27 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Explosive news story...if true." Fox news is interviewing John Loftus, Former Justice Department Prosectutor who states that he has an inside scoop that 'the Republican Party has asked the British Secret Service to bug phones of American political Candidates'. "Shades of Watergate...if true.

Posted by mac @ 12:02 PM EST [Link]

Cartoons and other funnies: Stuart Carlson's "Justice"; Tom Tomorrow's latest This Modern World Partisan Investigations Unit; and, the Onion's Infographic on current FCC investigations. [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:49 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Questions to ask your legislator:

1. What is Network Address Translation, and how has it extended the life of the Internet?

2. When was encryption first used in the U.S.?

3. Which of the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution use the word "citizen"?

Don't feel bad if you don't know the answers. Except for #3, there's no reason you should need to know them...unless you are trying to pass laws about them. Then you had damned well better know what you're talking -- and leglislating -- about. [more]

Posted by brad @ 06:19 PM EST [Link]

Friday, February 13, 2004

No pity for Microsoft: First they announce a "critical" flaw in Windows NT/2000/XP/2003, which they've known about for half a year and finally got around to fixing. Then a court decides that, for the time being, can keep using the "Lindows" name. Now part of the Windows NT and 2000 source code has leaked out onto the 'Net. [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:15 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Please note that the book list that supports this site has been updated! It will be refreshed again next Wednesday.

Posted by mac @ 07:42 PM EST [Link]

Fans of aviation history will be saddened to hear of the death of Jan Zurakowski. Zurakowski is perhaps best known for being the first to fly the Avro Arrow, Canada's one and only attempt to build a supersonic jet fighter. (For those unfamiliar with this remarkable airplane, the CBC did a rather good dramatization of its story.)


Posted by brad @ 05:29 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

For those who still think the MyDoom is the work of Linux partisans, here's an excellent analysis to read. It's far better than the tech-ignorant drivel being echoed by most of the media. At least the U.K. Independent got it right, as Wendy observed yesterday. Viruses are now big business, whether for spamming or extortion rackets; and the tacked-on denial-of-service attacks are merely misdirection and camouflage.

After ranting about the RIAA, I should save some venom for a similar pack of fiends, the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Originally formed for the defensible-but-misguided purpose of supporting the Intellectual Property rights of commercial software vendors, the BSA seems to be taking a play from the RIAA's let's-pretend-we're-the-government book. In the UK they are now sending out Software Audit Return forms to companies. [more]

Posted by brad @ 04:44 PM EST [Link]

Just a brief blog today, mostly to ensure that you don't experience humor withdrawal. So here's a batch of cartoons and other funnies: the Onion's Infographic "The Patriot Act's Problem Parts"; Past winners for "Wackiest Warning Labels"; Stuart Carlson's "Not Vietnam."; and, Joel Pett's "Six More Weeks"

An interview that purports to be with two American soldiers at home on leave from Iraq has been widely reprinted in indymedia around the world -- in South Africa, in Straight Goods Canada, through the various states, e.g. New York City...and the e-publications all credit one source The Axis of Logic which, in turn, credits the Coalition of Free Thought in Media. I used the word "purports" because the interview has a strange ring to me. I like it; it says what I hope servicemen are thinking and feeling seems to be too perfectly antiwar, it seems, well...too perfect. I know, I know...I complain about how awful the state of the world is and, then, when something is right...I complain about *that* as well.

By the way, for those who follow my weekly column on FOX News, it is being moved to a Wednesday slot from its usual Tuesday one, effective next week.

Cheers, mac

Posted by mac @ 03:43 PM EST [Link]

Monday, February 9, 2004

Cartoon fix: Ted Rall's "Only a Bag"; Tom Toles' "Grave and Gathering Danger"; and, Stuart Carlson's "The Sap". [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:55 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 8, 2004

More from the illiterate press corps: If you've searched "SCO Linux" news items in the last day or so, you've probably seen headlines like "SCO Ups Ante Against IBM with Copyright Claim". Which sounds like Linux is in trouble, right?.

Wrong. The SCO claim says nothing about Linux. They only claim that IBM has distributed (and thus copied) the commercial AIX operating system after SCO terminated their license to do so. But you wouldn't learn that from the headlines, or indeed from most of the news coverage. It's more sensational to let the headlines imply a Linux copyright infringement. [more]

Posted by brad @ 12:27 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The American Bar Association has named, to chair its antitrust section -- no kidding -- a lawyer from Microsoft. Analogies of foxes and henhouses spring to mind. I'm no fan of antitrust law, or the ABA, or Microsoft, but I have to wonder what happened behind the scenes in order to cook this deal up.

A few random updates... [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:31 AM EST [Link]

Friday, February 6, 2004

Cartoon Fix for today: Steve Sacks' "CIA Intelligence"; Pat Oliphant's "Oh Horrors!"; Tom Toles' "Cannon Fodder"; and, David Horsey's "I'd Tell You If I Could".

NEWS FLASH! Dean Loses Primaries, Bares Breast on National TV, by Jeremy Blachman. (VERMONT) "'Wardrobe malfunction' was the term Howard Dean's advisors used to explain why he bared his breast during his concession speech following tonight's primary returns. There were signs that this was not an accident. It happened during the portion of Dean's stump speech known among his supporters as 'Rock Your Vote,' in which he promises his supporters to 'have you naked by the end of this cadence of standard political rhetoric.' Dean's press director had told an MSNBC correspondent to expect 'some shocking moments.' And some Dean supporters were, no doubt, disappointed to see that it was only his breast that was exposed, and that his nipple was covered by a hanging chad. It was a disappointing night for the former Vermont governor, who had once hoped to clinch the nomination with the round of contests tonight. Instead, it became just another in a series of campaign missteps. Dean was apologetic: 'sometimes our emotions just get the breast -- er, best -- of us'."

And, now, onto to practical privacy...Remember: "The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." Justice William O. Douglas. [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:43 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 5, 2004

For those who are plagued by telemarketers, I highly recommend this script as a coping tool. I have actually had telemarketers hang up on me in frustration, unwilling to talk further. And thanks to Doug N. for suggesting that I include a link to the cartoonist Shjuaat who appears on the front page of Al Jazeera. A different perspective: just click on the archive link for past cartoons. [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:55 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

More on music downloading: today I'll yield the virtual floor to two other writers who are more eloquent than I.

My good friend Steve C. referred me to this excellent commentary by Janis Ian. Yes, Janis Ian the musician. If you're suffering from the illusion that the RIAA is acting "for the musicians," this will open your eyes.

It's worthy of note that her piece appears on the Baen Free Library website, where Baen Books (a major SF publisher) is making books available for free download. Visit that page and read Eric Flint's introduction to the site.

It's refreshing to encounter musicians, authors, and publishers who "get" the potential of the Internet, and welcome it.


Posted by brad @ 08:53 PM EST [Link]

Just a brief note to let you know that I've updated the booklist (see above), which helps to support this site. Thanks for visiting it! I will be updating the list each Wednesday and expanding the range of items for sale to include rare letters from the 19th century, audio tapes, and ephemera as well as the quality used books you've come to expect.
Best to all,

Posted by mac @ 02:35 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Socialized music?

Perhaps the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) really wants to be a branch of government. Certainly they like to pose their enforcers as government agents. So they'd probably like the recent suggestion of a download tax on broadband Internet access. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:26 AM EST [Link]

Monday, February 2, 2004

A brief blog today... For those who are short on inspiration, I recommend the soothing and beautiful "movie" presentation forwarded to me by Kelly T. It is worth the long download.

But the blog is never too brief as to preclude cartoons: Jeff Danziger's A Little Paint and Paper; Tom Toles' A Bold Reversal; the latest Helen Sweetheart of the Internet Why Men Should Commit; and, Mike Luckovich's "The Martians have WMDs." Enjoy. And see ya tomorrow.

Posted by mac @ 06:14 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Cartoons! Cartoons! Cartoons! Mike Luckovitch's "Biological Material Found"; Joel Petts' "As Simple as That"; and, Steve Sacks' "Baloney 100%". [more]

Posted by mac @ 03:08 PM EST [Link]

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