Older blog entries for rachel (starting at number 20)

Flying down to Def Con tomorrow. If any of you 3l33t hax0r d00dz want publicity, I'll be the short Australian with the spiral-bound notebook and the faintly alarmed expression.

Finished The Making of the Atomic Bomb. It's astonishingly good. If you read it, make sure you have a bottle of wine and a reassuring SO around when you get to the Hiroshima chapter. I'd read John Hersey's book, but nothing could have prepared me for spending all this time inside the heads of Oppenheimer and Groves and learning to respect them -- then walking around the ruined city facing the consequences.

The whole book -- written in 1985 -- is a plea for openness and the free exchange of information in science and technology. I had some revelations about the fundamental interconnectedness of things. Fr'instance, I think it's interesting that Vannevar Bush is chiefly famous for three reasons: for his work on the Manhattan Project, for the legend that he was the head of Majestic-12, and for writing As We May Think.

Salonslaught, heh, I wish I'd thought of that. Hey everybody, sorry for bringing about the end of civilization as we know it. At least I managed to annoy God.

Having fun in Monterey, chatting to ubergeeks, hunting out sushi bars. I'm reading Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb at the moment, which is kind of a mixed blessing; completely brilliant and absorbing, but even in paperback, very, very heavy. I'm carrying it with me everywhere, and it's like packing around a baseball-sized lump of neutron star. Fortunately, I'm nearly finished. Unfortunately, I'm nearly finished. Fortunately, I have the sequel.

Unfortunately, I have the sequel in hardback.

Incidentally, Napster was Shawn Fanning's nickname in high school, after he got an extremely short haircut. Just in case, y'know, anyone was still wondering about that.

Okay, so I was distracted there for a minute.

Had a great deal of fun at Usenix, running around with Evil Genius Matt Crosby and finally getting to meet all sorts of interesting people, like Rob Pike, Jim Gettys, Greg Rose, Evi Nemeth and Miguel. I got so caught up in BOFs and things that I never made it out to the zoo, which was a little disappointing as I've been a Hua Mei groupie for nearly a year. Luckily the hotel had Hua Mei merchandise, so I bought an official mug. I'm a good little consumer, yes I am.

Otherwise: work work work work work. Startup fever turns out not to be the acute delirium I expected; instead, it's this chronic low-level anxiety. Reminds me of the weeks before university finals, except that I don't get to sit exams then take three months off. See, this is exactly what I'm talking about, I can't believe I'm actually getting nostalgic for my finals. The low point of the month had to be when a PR flack who shall not be named interrupted an interview to say: "This isn't vaporware, you know. All the really technical journalists we've spoken to have seen the need for it..." Gee, thanks. I think I'll go and stick my head in this bucket of water over here.

"Say, what's Rach doing?" "Not sure, she seems to be washing her head." "Is this another one of those obscure references to Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy?" "Uhh, I think so." "That girl needs to get out more." "Yes she does."

On the very hot night - Tuesday night - I dreamed that I was in a shallow doze and kept waking up. But when I woke up for real - if that's what this is - I realized that my dream had been a big, confused web-surf, in which "waking up" had meant clicking back to the Linux Journal home page.

Dream spam. Bah. This looks like the work of Don Marti.

On the bright side, I just found a copy of Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory, which I've wanted for ages. It's a relief. I've been feeling a bit lost. I had a great run with Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series and Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven. Since then I've been trying to get stuck into Graves' Lawrence and the Arabs or Nabokov's Sebastian Knight, but neither of them have grabbed me yet.

Nabokov will get me in the end. He always does.

I have the depositions in the DeCSS case printed out and sitting in front of me, and my colleagues are enjoying a good chuckle at my expense. The stack of paper is three inches high. So far I've read Jack Valenti (one inch), who says he knows nothing, nothing. As I was reading it, I kept thinking of Gates' videotaped deposition in the antitrust case. Then Eben Moglen called and said "Didn't it remind you of Gates in the antitrust case?"

Two inches' worth of dry legal document to go.

Desk? What desk?

My theory seems to be that printing stuff out is practically the same as reading and understanding it.

It came from outer space

I like the idea of Plan 9. I like the name. I like the file-system ubiquity thing. I like it that it was built to be networked. Operating systems are fun. The more the better.

Hello citizens,

I'm writing an article about Advogato, so if there's anything you feel you absolutely MUST SAY, please email me.

Thanks for your time.


Free software, free market, free association, freebasing:

"We will be using VA Linux hardware, and your choice of OS includes FreeBSD 4.0, Debian, OpenBSD and RedHat initially."

You can't make this stuff up. HavenCo is the new government of Sealand, an abandoned concrete fortress a few miles off Scunthorpe. Eccentric English person Roy Bates remains the constitutional monarch. (Roy Bates, Roy Batty: coincidence?)

Since declaring sovereignty in 1967, Prince Roy and his subjects have worked every imaginable angle. Roy ran a pirate radio station. Crown Prince Michael once sold air fern, a kind of coral, for use in tchotchkes. A renegade citizen sold more than 150,000 Sealand passports over the Net, most of them to Hong Kong refugees before the handover. Philately, numismatics, arms smuggling, you name it, Sealanders have had a crack.

Now Sealand is a data haven.



Speaking of the Zen of traffic flow:

The Tibetan Book of Thoroughbred Training
From Horse Heaven, by Jane Smiley

1. Do not pay attention or investigate; leave the mind in its own sphere
2. Do not see any fault anywhere
3. Do not take anything to heart
4. Do not hanker after signs of progress
5. Do not fall prey to laziness
6. Be in a state of constant inspection

Oddly enough, this is all far harder than it sounds.

Does anyone know where the name "Napster" came from?

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