Older blog entries for ask (starting at number 130)

12 Sep 2003 (updated 12 Sep 2003 at 09:40 UTC) »
The properties of ideas
Thomas Jefferson said:

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself, but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it.

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breath, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.

Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.

(via politech)

So in that spirit I've picked up Tony's idea of marking blockquote's with a line before the indention. Thanks Tony! :-)

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5 Sep 2003 (updated 5 Sep 2003 at 23:24 UTC) »
Funny Open Firmware bug
You can't use uppercase "U" in your open firmware password on most modern macs. Lowercase "u" and anything else is fine apparently. How weird is that. Not that it matters, who is using it anyway? Except to clear the nvram and as a poor mans System Profiler I haven't even booted Open Firmware since '97 when you had to do odd hacks to boot Linuxppc.

(Hold down command-option-O-F just after turning the computer on to boot into Open Firmware; it's fun! Programmable in Forth and all.)

Ah, you can set the password with a nifty tool. Brave new world.

PC Magazine are reviewing the giant 17" laptop I made fun of a while ago. "Pushes the Limits of Portability" they say. I thought even the 17" Powerbook did that! I need to stop mentioning powerbooks in every entry I make here.

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3 Sep 2003 (updated 5 Sep 2003 at 23:23 UTC) »
No new Powerbooks just yet
Apple lowered the price on the powerbooks in early june to clear inventory (or so the story goes). The new PowerPC 7457 based 'books were supposed to come out in late June. Since then the rumor has been "Any Day Now". Apparently Motorola are completely unable to supply the darn things, because now the story is that they won't come out until October.

That's almost a year after the last update of the 15", and ... well, also almost a year after the 12" and the 17" came out. And the retain channel and the distributors are almost completely out of stock.

Unless they have a contract that makes this hurt for Motorola, then Apple is in a really bad spot.

Apple: "Make the darn things already or we'll change chip supplier!" Motorola: "Er, you already did." Apple: "uuuh... Because you suck!"

Of couse, maybe this will make G5 powerbooks and iMacs come out sooner... (the G3 in the iBooks is produced by IBM).

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www.cpan.org distributed
We are planning to load balance www.cpan.org a bit. I'd like to find a http mirror or four for this. If you might want to volunteer to setup your well connected httpd to answer requests for www.cpan.org, then send a mail to ask at perl.org. A well connected mirror in Europe would in particular be interesting.

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30 Aug 2003 (updated 30 Aug 2003 at 00:49 UTC) »
Baghdad Burning Weblog
A young woman in Baghdad is writing a weblog Baghdad Burning. Very interesting; go and read already. This internet thing is amazing.

The other way to wake up, is to be jolted into reality with the sound of a gun-shot, explosion or yelling. You sit up, horrified and panicked, any dream or nightmare shattered to oblivion. What can it be? A burglar? A gang of looters? An attack? A bomb? Or maybe it's just an American midnight raid?


I'm a computer science graduate. Before the war, I was working in an Iraqi database/software company located in Baghdad as a programmer/network administrator (yes, yes... a geek). Every day, I would climb three flights of stairs, enter the little office I shared with one female colleague and two males, start up my PC and spend hours staring at little numbers and letters rolling across the screen. It was tedious, it was back-breaking, it was geeky and it was... wonderful.

(via boingboing via William Gibson)

You know it's geeky when a review of a jacket includes things like "Indeed, the jacket is distinguished not just by the number of pockets, but by the ability to run wires between them.". (thanks Robert).

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29 Aug 2003 (updated 29 Aug 2003 at 10:58 UTC) »
BBC opening up their archives
BBC is planning to open up their archive with a creative license of some sort. That is amazingly awesome news. Read the BBC announcement yourself and drool. Or read Danny O'Brien's Freeing the BBC. It's supposed to only be for people in the U.K., but it sounds like that's just going to be their distribution and the license will be open enough for others to redistribute.

O'Brien also made a posting trying to make us not too excited. I'm very excited, even if I won't get my Hitchhikers Guide fix right away.

Between BBC news, various NPR programs and Let's get lost I'm all set for my radio needs. Only trouble with the latter program is that it makes me not go to sleep until 3am thursday nights. Which is now. Good night.

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Stop Bouncing Email Viruses
As Jim said: having a mail server that sends bounce messages in response to viruses that are known to forge the message sender is a very, very bad thing.. And as Schwern said:
A short plea to mail admins worldwide. STOP BOUNCING EMAIL VIRUSES! My email address is plastered all over the Internet. Every time a new virus comes out I get plastered by hundreds of messages. NOT viruses, because my spam filter nails them easy, but messages informing me I sent them a virus! Those are nearly impossible to filter without throwing out all legit bounce messages, too. I know you're trying to be helpful, but you're sending email to the wrong person: ME. I did not send you that virus. I know better than to run Windows on an open network. Any virus worth its bits fakes the From line these days. I'm a "public figure" on the Internet. My address is plastered all over the place. The virus just grabbed it from somebody's address book or web cache. So from myself and lots of other people who have very visible email addresses: STOP BOUNCING VIRUSES! They're not getting back to the source. You're just adding to the problem. Thank you.
I didn't get a single Sobig.F virus in my inbox. But boy did I get a lot of the "you've sent a virus to foo@example.com" crap, those are sent by real systems sadly. No, I don't run any virus scanners, but as Jim pointed out then it got blocked by the "check_earlytalker" plugin in qpsmtpd. The Sobig.F smtp implementation starts talking before the smtp server says hello. A lot of spammers does the same, the idea being that they can get their junk out a little faster. No real mail system does that; as they generally are written by people who at least glanced over the RFC. (Even if you use the common pipelining ESMTP extension then you can't start pipelining until you have negotiated that). The really cool thing about qpsmtpd is that it's so easy to try out things like "check_earlytalker" (contributed by Devin Carraway). A dozen lines of Perl is all you need to extend or tweak the core functionality. Almost everything but the core SMTP engine is in little neat plugins like that.

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16 Aug 2003 (updated 16 Aug 2003 at 20:03 UTC) »
Why we don't give shell access at perl.org
Over at perl.org we generally don't give anyone shell access for any reason, but instead make people upload files and update sites with Subversion or WebDAV. It might be a bit more hassle for the contributors, but as the not so recent "incident" at the FSF shows, it's a mighty good idea. They got hacked by a local user in march (!) and just found out a few weeks ago.

We might still expose a vulnerability somehow some day (knock on wood), but with fewer people having local access, it's much less likely.

It's also a reminder why signing releases would be a good idea.

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14 Aug 2003 (updated 14 Aug 2003 at 12:49 UTC) »
Various Songs: Links et cetera
I announced the CPAN Ratings site on use.perl. Lots of comments and suggestions there. More importantly, lots of good reviews. I'm grateful to everyone who contributed already. There are a couple of really, eh, "odd" reviews as well. Hopefully adding the "was this review helpful?" feature will help filter those out. Oh, and I added the links to the installation instructions right over the TODO list. Hint hint.

A Huge and Terrible Mess - Al Gore in a great speech to MoveOn.org. "Something basic has gone wrong in our country".

<strike>Ben & Mena</strike>Six Apart put TypePad into "preview release</a>". I've been playing with it since the beta test (alpha? I forget) and I must say it's very very cool. And so pretty. They gave beta testers 20 "lifetime 20% discount codes". If I didn't already have plenty of servers and a nicely working slightly hacked MovableType installation I'd so be there.

Experimenting in groups, the quiet voices. How do you get the quiet people to participate more on your mailing list? How do you "make more room"? I'm not sure his ideas will apply as well to technical lists as they might to social lists, but the thoughts are very refreshing. (via Ben Hyde)

Ben also linked to an old article about an insanely stupid law in Florida. Really #$%#'ing disgusting. And Sad.

Alex Shaffer writes about a few similar stories. Comic Disbelief and Smut Patrol. Stories like that were more amusing when I was in Europe and could just laugh at the crazy Americans at a distance. Instead adding depressive links about the patriot act I'll send you to Alex's free fashion advice for ladies.

A link to the Guide to the Logical Fallacies is always nice. Slightly related and even more useful: Getting Past No (how to get your opponent to work with you) which is the followup to Getting to Yes ("Focus on Interets, not positions"). Both books are short and sweet. Very worthwhile.

Speaking of short and sweet. Almost two years ago I bought Shopgirl and I still remember it as very fun and enjoyable. Steve Martin is making it into a movie now, with Claire Danes staring as Mirabelle.

Ben also links to the tricolor salvage site. Bloody amazing. Some big container ship sank last year. It was on shallow water and ships were sailing into it, so now they sliced it up(!) to salvage it. (and photos).

Confessions of a Baggage Screener (elbows deep in underwear). See also Confessions of a Car Salesman.

OneStat.com says that MSIE has a 95% market share. I'm happy to report that it's less than 60% at askbjoernhansen.com.

people around me on friendster - I wanted to make something like this; it looks very neat.

Camera phones are getting a bad rep because people worry that they can be smuggled into places where photography isn't allowed. Some weeks ago a 15 year old used his cell phone camera against a guy who tried to abduct him and got the abductor arrested

As you might have seen Mark Frauenfelder and family moved to the South Pacific for a year. Now they found a house.

BBC proves that there is No Loch Ness Monster. At least we still have Sandy Claws!

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13 Aug 2003 (updated 13 Aug 2003 at 00:14 UTC) »
mod_perl vs java
Mod_perl installations: 4.6 million hostnames, 460k unique ips.

Java Servlet engine installations: 295k hostnames, 37k unique ips

Different data point, the security space module report (for java look for "mod_jk", "Resin" and "ApacheJServ").

Yes, I realize there are all sorts of reasonable and unreasonable explanations for these numbers, but it's still fun.

Web Server Survey from Netcraft and Security Space. Apache is well over 60% now.


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