Recent blog entries for JB318

Went to DCLUG meeting tonight. Saw Peter W's presentation about Linux security. I never knew that Linux 2.0.x is better for use as firewalls than Linux 2.2.x...

I mentioned Advogato at my meeting, as well, but I didn't get any acknowledgement from others that they'd heard about it, though the Phil Zimmerman angle did click with the group leader. At least I planted the meme. <trivium>In what I understand is one of the oldest LUGs in the country</trivium> for those who care. (The Web site says it was founded in July '94.)

I like the long journal entries. Keep 'em coming. Wish I had more time to read (and write) them, tho...

I wish that I could see all the entries that I haven't read yet, even those that have scrolled off. I think the activity is growing to the point where diaries are popular enough to not be able to keep up with completely. I've been reading in the morning and in the evening for the past few days and I already know that I've missed some--and I have no way of knowing what I missed so that I can try to find it again. (The same comment applies to posts in response to articles, too--though this is the first place I've been where I've actually somewhat cared about keeping up with replies to articles, since I never have on Slashdot.)

I also wish that new entries for a person wouldn't bump the old ones off the list--but that may just be me.

Maybe we're going totally beyond the intended bounds of the diary system, but I think we've got a novel system here and rather than try to curtail it, we (ahem, The Powers That Be) should let it expand into what it really wants to be--if that winds up being an actual message board of sorts, then so be it!

I've seen others, when making a comment on somebody else's entry, making it into a hyperlink to the person's info page (and, thus, to their diary). I'll try to discipline myself into doing that; unless/until something more full-fledged in the way of a message base comes along, I humbly suggest that we adopt doing that as a semi-formal practice for replying to diary entries.

dhd: Re project management and small inferiority complexes: I feel your pain. My only advice: Hey, cut it out, that hurts! <jk>

Seriously, I'm nagged by those doubts at times:

  • I rationalize my equivalent of #5 (and the impact that has on #1) by saying that if I don't keep up with new, potentially useful info when I have something like down time (meaning, nothing's due tomorrow) that I can use to absorb it, it won't be around for those times when I'm called upon to do something with it right away, to fix something that just broke, that nobody can figure out how to fix or rewrite to do things like they should have been done six months ago when it was originally deployed. (Insert appropriate Mr. Scott "miracle worker" comment here.)

  • #6 doesn't bug me too much, literally, though I do wonder why I didn't think of x before when we really needed it. (See above.)

  • I actually tend to pride myself on #4.

If I understand your statement correctly, you tend to say "Yes I can do that" when you know that you can't do it (or can do something but can't do The Right Thing(TM), etc.) I tend to go the opposite direction: When I feel pressured to come up with the "yes, ma'am, I can fix it this afternoon" answer that they're wanting, I tend to say "No, we can't do that until next week" even if I know that if I tried, if it were really critical to get fixed NOW, I could get something going right away, just because I want to see to it that The Right Thing(TM) gets accomplished.

On the general project management discussion front, for those of you who haven't read it, I absolutely recommend Rapid Development as the definitive book of insight into how a project should be run. Though it nominally talks about how to handle a project whose primary goal is a short deadline, it really covers good development/management practices for all kinds of projects.

kelly: Reminds me of: "The love of money is the root of all evil"--I Timothy 6:10--which is probably one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. I absolutely agree with your exegesis.

lkcl: It seems that we need some defense against unclosed HTML tags...

I've gotten frustrated with Red Hat recently, so I'm set to move to Debian.

The RPM package format isn't as flexible as I'd like. I like Debian's idea of "recommended packages", and the fact that they represent capabilities (such as "www-browser") within the package management system.

It's hard to find out what dependencies a Red Hat package has before downloading it. When attempting to download 6.2beta and later 6.2 itself (and previous upgrades from 5.0 upwards, for that matter), I found it difficult to figure out just what packages I need to download to get one particular package, or a list of packages (e.g. "everything installed on my machine"), installed/upgraded properly. Being a programmer I've managed to invent plenty of workarounds, many of them involving iterative use of rpm --test -U and wget, but that just makes me an enabler--and I prefer to avoid being in a codependent relationship with my operating system. I know there are rpmfind and other such tools, but either they never worked for me or they didn't do what I really want to do, and at any rate they weren't part of standard Red Hat.

I like Red Hat's recent move toward RDF for externally-accessible meta-information, but AFAIK it's only available on redhat.com, and not on any of the mirrors (my touchstone of ubiquity is ftp.tux.org), whereas Debian's Packages.gz is everywhere.

It seems that the RPM designers assume that you'll be doing large upgrades by some means other than downloading selected RPMs from the local mirror at 56K--by CD, or perhaps corporate LAN, or at any rate by downloading most everything in the bundle rather than trying to pick and choose what you download. (The anti-commercial anti-corporate-behemoth Red Hat bashers really ought to latch onto this, as it's a ploy to boost CD-ROM sales by making upgrades by Internet unnecessarily difficult :) .)

In short, I'd rather switch than fight. So I'm switching to Debian. I ordered the CDs today, and I also picked up a RH6.2 CD or three, just in case. I intend to keep Red Hat until after the Big Move(TM), so I'll see a little use out of that 6.2 CD, to get the rest of my system upgraded (in case my workarounds managed to miss a package, and/or I want to install something new). But once I'm moved and the rest of my life is stable (ha!), I'll make the switch to Debian.

I tried Debian once before--back in my younger Linux days, back when Hamm was the stable dist du jour, back when it wasn't a big deal for me to reinstall everything--just to see what it would be like. I'd only ever tried Red Hat before (or since), and I didn't much care for Debian at the time, mostly because I was put off by its insistence that while installing I have to configure installed packages right now! (I pray that that's improved over time. I shouldn't have to configure a package before I know what I'm wanting to do with it and what my options are. I do like to RTFM...) There were other nits that I had, but mostly they owed to the fact that it wasn't Red Hat, and Red Hat is what I was used to. I was much more impressed with dselect than I was with what Red Hat had to offer on the RPM front, though.

I'm wishing for a way to download packages using dselect and apt without actually having Debian installed. That way I could pick out what I want and download it during my slow times now, and be ready to actually install once I'm moved (or another suitable milestone has passed such that I won't object if I accidentally wipe out the wrong thing). I had some nice Vim macros and Perl scripts for going through Contents.gz and picking out what I want and what I didn't. I got maybe halfway through the list, making decisions on each package, before giving up, since I'd probably have to go through it all again with dselect anyhow. Oh, well, since I finally broke down and bought the CDs...

BTW, am I the only one who thinks that 50% of the software in the Debian package manifest is of no interest to the vast majority of potential Debian users? Or maybe it just feels like there are too many ham radio and scientific packages. Still, I wonder if the software I'd be honestly interested in couldn't fit on just one CD instead of the standard two. OK, CDs are cheap, but still...

Well, I guess this is the way to get involved in this community, so I might as well give it a try.

I'd post a link to my Web page, but it's so paltry that it's not worth bothering. I've never really put anything of interest on it, or kept it up to date. This medium might not suffer the same fate, since I expect it will be routinely read by more than five people.

I'm presently located in Washington, DC, USA, but am about to move to Dallas, TX, USA (actually Arlington, for the pedants) RSN.

A curious fact of history: I knew Rob Malda in college. I have yet to find a way to exploit that connection--if I'd only known about Slashdot back in '95 or so, maybe I could have done something so that I'd have some stock options by now... Through sheer coincidence, I also happen to be acquainted with Justin by way of DCLUG.

My two favorite languages/platforms are Perl and Oracle. I also program in Visual Basic (please don't hold that against me).

I'm a fan of Gödel, Escher, Bach, and in general anything self-referential. If you understand that book, you'll understand a good part of me, and in particular much of my sense of humor.

I'm a Britcom fan, and in particular a Dr. Who buff.

I'm also a Christian. But you might not care about that.

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Enough intro. On with actual commentary for today.

pate: I slipped and fell on the ice while crossing the street in late January, during one of those freak winter storms in DC. I hurt my knee, too. I'm in physical therapy, too. (I don't know why I'm bothering to share that... Misery may love company, but company doesn't reciprocate.) I'm very functional at the moment, though I did spend over two weeks cooped up in my apartment unable to go anywhere because of the lingering snow and ice on the ground. (I got to telecommute for that time--yay!)

Für elise: Re: Org Chart: We've actually got something like that at my work. For the client I deal with, we have the personnel managers who handle us, and we've got the people who are customer relations, who own the projects. Or they used to, but that stopped. Or they never were supposed to, and it's just because of lack of leadership on my team in the past that they ever had that kind of authority. OK, maybe we didn't have that. In another part of my division (for a different client), they recently had a reorg to get rid of the second set of management since the VP complained that he didn't know which manager to go to to ask questions about a project. Anyways, in short: From my experience, it's definitely a nice principle, and maybe one day we'll see it implemented successfully. (Add that to my list of concepts that that statement applies to...)

No real signs of WTO protests around here. I've managed to stay away from any areas where protests are likely (in particular, I haven't ventured anywhere near Dupont Circle which had one of the more newsworthy ones over the past few days). I'm hoping this whole mess just goes away. Actually, that's not strictly true: I want a lot of noise and interesting events to occur on the fringes of my life, so that I can say "I was there" without it really having any effect on my life :).

I'm not sure what genuine meaning the ratings on here have. I know that enough ratings imply that I get the privilege of posting replies to the articles, but beyond that (and other sociotechnical issues that I'm not aware of), what does being a given rating really mean? I'm sure it'd be nice to see that 56 people say that I'm a "Master" (unlikely since I don't do any notable work on Free Software(TM) ATM), but I don't know what motivation I'm supposed to have to attain that status, or any other status above "Observer".

Random thoughts:

Favorite line of C code of all time (ATM), from a linked list implementation in college:

     head = tail ? head : tail;  /* cryptic C is fun */

On Usenet, in the group misc.misc, what would they do if there were too many off-topic posts? Or would they have to be on-topic posts? Would they ever consider creating a newsgroup misc.misc.moderated? (Probably not unless the original group were simultaneously renamed to misc.misc.misc...)

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"diary1.txt" 117L, 4760C written                               94,0-1       Bot

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