Older blog entries for goingware (starting at number 122)

19 Sep 2002 (updated 19 Sep 2002 at 22:37 UTC) »
Update - Letter to Congress

I just posted the letter I wrote to my two Senators and my House Representative in my Kuro5hin diary.

Another Update

mglazer, of course I don't support tyrants. I know very well that Iraq would be better off without Saddam. But he's not going to be the one to die if the U.S. invades, it will be a great many innocent Iraqis. And do you harbor any illusions that Iraq would become a democratic country after the U.S. leaves?

I feel it is much more effective to fight tyranny at home. That way I can make more of a difference.

For example, the U.S. has become a place where people disappear without a trace and are held without charge or bail - at the hands of our very own tyrants. Why do you think the American Civil Liberties Union has been suing to force the government to reveal the names of those arrested in secret?

Even the Nazis only kept allied prisoners in P.O.W. camps, and did not subject them to punishment for making war against them. But the administration plans unconstitutional "military tribunals" for the Afghani P.O.W.'s. Rather than being returned home when the war ends, many may be subjected to the death penalty! I thought that extrajudicial execution was the hallmark of a repressive dictatorship, not a democracy.

mglazer, please read my essay Is This the America I Love? and maybe your eyes will be opened as mine have been.

I Called My Representatives, Why Don't You?

President Bush has submitted to Congress his proposal for a resolution that would authorize him to use force in Iraq. Read about it at Yahoo and CNN. In addition, the Secretary of Defense testified to Congress that they should not wait for a vote on any possible new resolutions by the U.N. Security Council before authorizing force.

Why not? Doesn't the administration want even the pretense of legitimacy?

I called my two Senators and my House Representative just now to urge them to vote against the resolution. If you're a U.S. citizen, I urge you to do the same. You can find your representatives' phone numbers at www.congress.org - enter your zip code in the search box.

If you're not a U.S. citizen, I urge you to contact your representatives in your own government to ask them to oppose war in Iraq in the U.N.

I am very strongly of the opinion, as are many others (including some in Congress) that Bush is trying to make war in Iraq to deflect the public's attention from the faltering economy - and Bush' duplicity in it.

When George Bush was on the board at a Texas oil company, he took loans from the company under extremely favorable and questionable terms, just like the loans the Rigas family took from Adelphia, which ultimately resulted in Adelphia's bankrupcy and the indictment of several Rigas family members.

He also participated in a scheme to inflate the earnings of the company, and when the Securities and Exchange Commission caught them and forced them to restate their reported profit as a loss, Bush sold his stock just before the resulting plummet in stock price, for which the SEC investigated him for insider trading.

However, Dubya's father was President at the time so no action was taken against him. The White House has forbidden the SEC from releasing its records of the SEC's investigation of his insider trading to Congress.

Vice President Dick Cheney has been sued for similar financial irregularities while he was a senior executive at Halliburton. Try a Google search for "halliburton cheney lawsuit".

Congress recently passed, and the President signed, a "corporate responsibility act" which makes the kind of behaviour the President and Vice President indulged in illegal. Had this law been passed in 1990, Bush and Cheney wouldn't be sitting in the White House, they'd be sitting in Federal prison.

Ken Lay, the disgraced CEO of Enron, was Bush' best buddy before Enron's bankrupcy, and I believe Bush' most generous contributor.

Bush was elected by a minority of the voters. His approval rating was very low before the September 11th attack, but making war in Afghanistan made him very popular in the U.S. But he's not able to milk Afghanistan for popularity very much anymore, and the mid-term elections are coming up, with Congress very nearly equally divided between the two major parties.

It could take only a small percentage of the voters to install a Congress that will oppose Bush' every move, and he knows he's very unlikely to get re-elected in 2004. That's why Bush needs this war.

My friend Dave Johnson keeps a weblog where he discusses Bush' corporate malfeasance, and has lots of links to other sites that expand on it. Go read it.

There is some hope that Congress will vote down the resolution. In Bush Sends Iraq Text to Congress, the Associated Press reports:

On Capitol Hill Thursday, a group of House Democrats condemned the move toward military action, with Rep. Dennis Kucinich , D-Ohio, calling it "unjustified, unwarranted and illegal."

Rep. Barbara Lee , D-Calif., said she was introducing a resolution with 20 cosponsors calling on the United States to work with the U.N. to carry out weapons inspections in Iraq. "A preemptive, unilateral first strike would set a terrible international precedent," she said.

If Bush attacks, it's not going to be Saddam who dies. It's going to be tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers. Most of these are conscripts. We have no quarrel with them. Also to perish will be many civilians, men, women and children.

Remember, even one Iraqi life is too dear a price to pay to keep Bush in power.

Thank you for your attention.

Now I'm going to follow-up my phone calls with letters to both my Senators and my Representative.

18 Sep 2002 (updated 18 Sep 2002 at 09:53 UTC) »
Bush to Press Congress to Authorize War

According to the United States Constitution, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military, but only Congress may declare war. It's never been too clear whether the President had the authority to use military force if war is not actually declared. For a while George W. Bush was considering invading Iraq without asking for Congress' permission, but the resulting outcry caused him to change his mind and promise that he would seek Congress' permission before any invasion.

Well, now he's asking for it. In Bush to Court Congress on Iraq, the Associated Press says:

President Bush summoned congressional leaders to a White House breakfast meeting Wednesday as aides worked on legislation allowing him to use "all appropriate means" to force Iraq to dismantle its weapons programs.

Bush previously threatened to invade if Iraq didn't invite back the weapons inspectors unconditionally. When, to his surprise, Iraq conceded, Bush claimed it was just a clever ploy and continued with his plans for war:

President Bush wasn't backing down from his tough speech to the U.N. General Assembly last Thursday threatening action against Iraq if it did not allow the inspectors back. He urged the Security Council not to be "fooled" by Iraq's about-face, and his administration disclosed plans for moving B-2 bombers closer to Baghdad, preparing for possible war to remove President Saddam Hussein.

Why does Bush want war? Because the mid-term congressional elections are coming up soon, and the economy, which looked hopeful for a while, is now in a wreck because of the "accounting irregularities" at such bankrupt companies as Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia, the same kind of accounting irregularities that Bush and Vice President Cheney indulged in at their texas oil companies before they got elected.

In addition, Bush was elected by a minority of the voters due to the strange way Presidential "electoral votes" are allocated among the U.S. States. His approval rating was very low before the September 11th attack, and with the war in Afghanistan winding down and receding from the public consiousness, he needs something new to distract the minds of the peasantry from so he and his cronies can continue to loot the public coffers.

How legitimate is Bush' Presidency? In a dissenting opinion in the Bush vs. Gore case, Judge Stevens wrote:

The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

I think anyone who claims that the Supreme Court decided the Bush vs. Gore case impartially is deluded.

What's the punch line? We may already be at war! The prevous rules of engagement for the enforcement of the no-fly zone over Iraq only allowed pilots to shoot back if they were attacked first. The Pentagon just announced they had issued new rules of engagement authorizing pilots to attack without provocation. Pilots have been ordered to attack command and communication facilities that are part of Iraq's air defense.

I think that's an obvious provocation to goad Iraq into war. Also attacking the air defenses has been the Pentagon's first step in making war on a country, at least since the first Persian Gulf War.

If you are an American citizen, please write to both your Senators and your House Representative to ask them to oppose the use of military force in Iraq. The life of even one Iraqi is too dear a price to pay to keep President Bush in power. If you don't know who your Congressional representatives are, or you need their addresses, put your zip code into the search box at www.congress.org.

Don't waste your time sending them email or using those convenient web forms. Congress gets spammed so much that they don't pay attention to email. If you're in a hurry, call their offices and speak to a staff member.

If you're not an American citizen, please write to the government officials in your own country and ask them to oppose the U.S. war in Iraq. This is especially important if your country has a seat on the U.N. Security Council, as Bush is attempting to use the Security Council to legitimize his war. Any of the permanent council members - Britain, Russia, China, France or (heh) the U.S. may veto a Security Council resolution. There are also a number of other countries that hold temporary seats on the council and could outvote the permanent members if they agreed to help Bush out.

If you're wondering how a country like America could have gotten to be this way, you haven't read George Orwell's 1984. Remember:

War is Peace

Slavery is Freedom

Ignorance is Knowledge

If you're afraid to speak out in these troubled times, I urge you to read Make a Bonfire of Your Reputations.

Thank you for your attention.

Mike

Embedded Programming

I'm greatly enjoying my first contract doing embedded systems programming. So far it's everything I hoped it would be, and nothing that I feared.

I'm fortunate that the hardware I'm working with is well documented. I know that's often not the case. Also the existing source code, which I'm modifying, is well written.

I'm sorry but it's very closed-source. I'm not even certain I should say what chip I'm working on, except that it has an embedded ARM core.

It's been a challenge. Nothing worked right to start with. I had a real scare at first that turned out to be a problem with delivering adequate power to the eval board I am working with - the thing sort of worked but was acting really brain-damaged, so I feared I had damaged the hardware somehow.

Then I couldn't get the source to build, and when I could get it to build, the resulting firmware would just hang the chip. But finally I got it to work and I am able to make modifications to the firmware and see the results happen in the behaviour of the thing.

An unfortunate problem is that I have only primitive debugging support. There is a bank of 8 LED's and I can turn each one on and off individually. That's it! The eval board comes with a serial port and the firmware source has an API for sending messages out, but unfortunately that doesn't work.

So that's tonight's project, getting the full debugging support to work. I got the vendor's support guy to send me the datasheet for the UART and now I'm going to be blinking LED's on and off until I figure out what the problem is. There is still some possibility that the board is damaged.

I have an unfortunate problem in that I don't posses any kind of electronic test equipment. The best I could come up with was a simple RS-232 breakout box. I've just been browsing Jameco looking for test equipment to buy. I will probably start with a good multimeter and a logic probe.

I want to get a digital storage oscilloscope ($$$) and a logic analyzer. A logic analyzer is like an oscilloscope but with lots of traces, and it only measures binary logic levels rather than continuous voltages.

The ultimate embedded debugging tool is an In Circuit Emulator (ICE), which plugs into mircroprocessor slot and acts just like a real microprocessor except that you can set all kinds of weird breakpoints, like breaking when a particular value is read or written, and you can get a trace of the data and address values for the last little while.

Unfortunately it wouldn't help me for this job because the microprocessor sits entirely within an I/O chip! The data and address lines of the ARM CPU do not come outside the chip.

My initial project is a very simple modification to the existing code. But my next project will be to write a great deal of new code to have the chip serve a completely different purpose. Likely it will take up so much space in the flash rom that there will be no space for the serial port debug.

What I plan to do for much of it, at least the parts that do not depend on real-time performance, is write simulation testbeds that will run as normal user programs on Linux.

Timely Quotations

My friend Andy sent these to me yesterday...

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."
-- Julius Caesar

People can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism.
-- Hermann Goering

There ought to be limits to freedom.
-- George W. Bush

And.......

we are each one of us responsible for every war because of the aggressiveness of our own lives, because of our nationalism, our selfishness, our gods, our prejudices, our ideals, all of which divide us.
-- J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known

How to Do Foreign Currencies in GnuCash?

I finally tried out GnuCash (1.6.6, from Debian Woody) today and I must say I think it is very nice. But for the life of me I cannot get foreign currency transactions to work.

If I can do transactions in both Canadian and U.S. currency it would be a lifesaver. Up until now I've been doing my U.S. transactions in Quicken for Windoze and my Canadian transactions in a spreadsheet.

We live in the U.S., but my wife is Canadian and we also have a Canadian checking account and some Canadian bills.

I've tried without success to enter the following two transactions:

  • I wired USD$785 from my U.S. bank to my Canadian bank. When it arrived it was credited to my Canadian account with an exchange rate of 1.5345
  • I withdrew USD$40 in cash from a U.S. ATM machine from my Canadian bank. In their web banking, the Canadian bank said they gave me an exchange rate of 1.584.

I've pored over the instructions in the GnuCash manual many times, but for the life of me I cannot get it to come out right. Always there is some account that is off, sometimes by hundreds of dollars.

I hate Quicken, I really do. I'd like to delete it from my Windoze partition and use PGP to cryptographically scramble the freespace on my drive, then burn the CD.

But before I do, I need to figure out GnuCash. I've posted to a couple mailing lists, but no one has responded so far. Is there a more detailed explanation than the manual anywhere to be found?

Thanks.

Happy Birthday Mom!

It's September 11th. And what does that mean to me? Today is my mother's birthday, and my aunt Peggy's too, as they are identical twins.

Happy birthday Mom, and Happy Birthday Aunt Peggy.

Is there a Search Engine Ranking Monitor?

I am looking for a tool which will allow me to monitor how a bunch of my pages rank in the results at various search engines when the engines are queried with any of the phrases from a given list.

I'd be astounded if such a tool didn't exist but I looked around some and couldn't find one, at least not as Free Software.

What I would like to ultimately do is have a graph that's updated once a week or so with lines for each of the search queries that go up and down on the graph as a page moves back and forth in the rankings. If I can log the rankings to a text file I could make the graph with one of the available data analysis tools.

You could get the ranking either by scraping the HTML output by a search engine or by using Google's API. So if I just monitored Google it should be pretty easy to do this.

In fact the basic components are readily available as you can see if you search Freshmeat for "google", for example the AltaVista and Google Web Parser System which will put the results of a search into an associative array.

If there isn't such a tool I will write one myself but I thought I should ask around first. Either post a response in your diary or tell me at crawford@goingware.com and I'll say what I find in a future diary entry.

Thanks.

Websites

I asked my favorite hosting service, Seagull Networks, if they could support database hosting, and it turned out they had just started providing it. So I moved ByteSwap.net from Hostway to Seagull.

I wasn't actually using Hostway's database services yet but I have plans to.

I have no complaints about Hostway except that it felt pretty corporate and impersonal. Whenever I write to the support address for Seagull, I get a personal response from Paul Celestin, the guy who owns the place, sometimes at unusual hours of the night.

I was looking through my logs just now to see what search terms people were using to find the site. This works because most search engines encode your search terms in the URL for the search result page. This is known the GET method. There is a limit to the amount of text that can be in a URL, larger amounts of form data have to be submitted with the POST method.

Anyway I was very pleased to find that a Google search for cross-platform programming turns up my first article on Byteswap.net in its first page of search results.

How people struggle to get placement at the top of the search results! All you need to do is put up content that's both unique and valuable to the people you want to come to your site! On the average I get 5,000 unique visitors a month to the whole GoingWare.com website, and for the most part it's because I have these programming tips there. If I post a new article on one of my sites and post the URL in a few places, traffic will double for about a month, and in the long run will increase a significant amount from what the average used to be.

I guess I should get off my butt and write more articles. I have lots of them planned out in my head but it's hard to find the time to write them. I try to write well, it takes me anywhere from three to ten days to write one of the articles that I have done.

I've hosted various websites with seagull for about five years, and he provides free hosting for www.wordservices.org in return for a small banner. When I get around to it I'm going to advertise seagull from all my websites because I like Paul that much.

Seagull provides secure shell access, allows you to use CGI's you write yourself, even in a compiled language like C or C++, along with having the GNU development tools installed. (Some hosting services only allow shell or perl scripts, and many only allow you to use CGI's they provide, you can't upload your own.)

I'm not sure if he provides java servlet support or not though. The servers all run Slackware. He also offers hosting where you are root on the machine and it's not shared.

Interested in OS X Development?

Some years ago, Paul used to produce CD's of (classic) Mac OS source code and shareware utilities. The CD series was called Apprentice. I first got to know Paul when he put my screensavers and the Word Services SDK on it.

With Mac OS X generating such interest, Paul has been interested in bringing back the Apprentice CD. He asked me to compile the CD's for him. One difference is that much of the material on the Cd will be developed just for the CD, and written by yours truly. There will also be open source source code that I collect from wherever I can find it, as well as some shareware.

Instead of selling the CD's directly, Paul is proposing to create something he will call the OS X Developer's Guild, a community site just for OS X programmers. Members will get the CD I compile, there will be a job board, discussion forums, and because Paul has his own hosting service, hosting service will also be included in the membership.

So far Paul is just trying to find out if there is enough interest to pursue the OS X Developer's Guild. If you're interested, fill in the form at the web page I link above. I will get lots of fun and interesting work to do.

Where is the Individual Software Process?

A few months ago I came across a web page that was about something that I'm pretty sure was called the "Individual Software Process".

I didn't have the time to read it, and I thought I bookmarked it, but I can't find it anymore. Neither Google nor Altavista finds the page.

I did find a PDF file that talks about Individual Software Process improvement in Europe, but that's a different thing.

I'm not looking for Watts Humphrey's Personal Software Process. That's a different methodology, although they are both meant for individual programmers to follow.

I have Humphrey's book on PSP, but I didn't get into it when I first tried to read it. I thought this other guy's web page sounded more like something I would want to do in my work.

But I can't find the page. Anyone here know where it might be?

Do You Have a Word Resume?

I have an HTML resume online, and near the top-left, hilit in a green box is a link to my plain-text resume.

When I email an application for a job or contract, I paste the plain text resume into the body of the email. The top of the plain-text resume gives the URL of my HTML resume in the event they want a formatted version.

But quite often some brainless recruiter responds with a request that I send a Word resume. I always respond by resending my text resume and explaining why I don't use word.

Actually the reason I stopped was that it got to be a pain to always keep three versions updated. The next reason was word macro viruses - I knew that anyone with a clue wouldn't accept word resumes, and in fact many companies will not accept word resumes from unknown people.

Tonight I read RMS' page We Can Put an End to Word Attachments. I thought it very well written. So I put a link to it in that green box on my HTML resume. Someone scanning around my resume looking for a link to the .doc version is sure to find it.

Do you know what a "sapper" is?

It's a guy with a shovel who digs at the base of a castle wall. During a siege, a sapper can bring a castle wall crashing down just by digging.

Just one more shovelful.

If everyone did just one little new thing each day to sap microsoft's walls, it would come crashing down in just a couple years.

Ever Faithful,

Mike

1 Sep 2002 (updated 1 Sep 2002 at 08:18 UTC) »

The author of this Usenet post has entirely too much time on his hands.

Massively Multithreaded Spamming

I got the following spam at one of my addresses earlier this year. I use Evolution's filters to sort all the spam into one mailbox in a basic way, but check it from time to time to make sure there's no real mail there. I only noticed this just now:

If you want to send mass Email, you will need some SMTP servers, but now many SMTP servers do not allow you use them , they are not open, then how can we find open SMTP servers?

Speed Smtp Finder will help you!

Speed Smtp Finder can speed search the SMTP servers .It can use hundreds of threads/connections to search,The more connections, the more ip addresses will be verified at the same time. When you put 100 connections, it is the same thing as 100 computers searching ip addresses.

It is very easy to use.You can just click 'start' to start search , click 'save ip' to save good smtp server ip address. Then is all!

The program supports Socks5 proxy protocol, so you can use it within a Local Area Network (LAN), too !

The program can Auto save good ip address( open smtp servers )!

Click Here To Download The Trial Version , The Full Version Only Costs $ 29.90 !

I'd be careful about clicking that link, heaven only knows what will land on your hard drive. Just so you know what you're clicking, the link is:

ftp://emailscan:vw7y3a@emailscan.51.net/public_html/SSF.exe

Now, someone explain to me, I really want to understand. I'm trying hard.

Why is it that the teenage authors of viruses, warez and crackz are put into prison while the purveyors of Speed SMTP Finder so far escape prosecution? Perhaps this is related to the reasons Microsoft has not been found liable for propagating Outlook, Internet Explorer and Internet Information Server, which together have been responsible for tens of billions of dollars in economic damage. Oh I forgot word and excel.

Maybe someone could study the above application (if it's not a r00tk1t) and add support to it in the teergrube?

Here's the full headers to the inquiry I received:

Return-Path: <@mail.qzptt.zj.cn:jack_hunbury@didymaster.net>
Received: from mail.qzptt.zj.cn (mail.qzptt.zj.cn [202.96.113.39]) by
        dragnet.seagull.net (8.12.1) with SMTP id g08ChrFY009687 sender
        <@mail.qzptt.zj.cn:jack_hunbury@didymaster.net> for
        <crawford@goingware.com>; Tue, 8 Jan 2002 04:43:54 -0800
Message-Id: <200201081243.g08ChrFY009687@dragnet.seagull.net>
Received: from html([61.175.53.90]) by mail.qzptt.zj.cn(JetMail 2.5.3.0)
        with SMTP id jm833c3b0e27; Tue,  8 Jan 2002 12:42:23 -0000
From: jack_hunbury@didymaster.net
To: dmcfet@islandnet.com
Subject: Smtp Servers
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2002 20:43:46
X-Mailer-Version: 20020107
X-From: <@mail.qzptt.zj.cn:jack_hunbury@didymaster.net>
X-Recipient: crawford@goingware.com
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/html; charset="DEFAULT_CHARSET"
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.00.2919.6700
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.00.2919.6700
Status:   

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