August 18, 2015
XpressConnect, WPA Enterprise, and Debian
We interrupt our not-so-regularly scheduled philosophy to bring you this report about the travails of Linux users on university computer networks. The Situation My university is in the process of switching its wireless network to WPA enterprise with EAP-TLS. As I understand it, this move buys significant advantages in wireless security at the expense of more complicated client-side configuration. In particular, each client has to generate a public/private key pair for cryptography. Also, a public CA certificate has to be installed to allow the client to recognize legitimate nodes on the university network. Needless to say, doing this kind of...
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September 12, 2011
A Hack to Run Beamer Presentations With Notes on Linux
Beamer is a class for making PDF presentations in LaTeX. It is supposed to have the ability to display notes for the presenter on a second monitor, but its strategy for doing this is just to create a double-width PDF, and hope that the PDF display program can fullscreen it to span the two displays. In modern linux desktop environments, this won't work, because the window manager will only allow the PDF reader to fullscreen to one monitor. Here's a minimally hacky solution: First, create a file called pres-xinit.sh in your home directory, containing the following two lines: xrandr --output...
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November 23, 2010
John Locke, Ron Paul, and Airport Security
It has been rather a long time since I wrote on politics. As you can probably imagine, I'm pretty worked up about this whole body scanner business. As recently announced in a post on Homeland Stupidity, Ron Paul and two co-sponsors have introduced a bill in the House which would remove immunity from airport screeners and other federal employees who engage in certain sorts of behavior associated with airport screening. That is, it ensures that the screeners at airports are subject to the same laws regarding battery, sexual assault, child pornography, etc., as everyone else. I think there is something...
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November 6, 2007
Official Xebra Launch Announcement
Today my employer, Hx Technologies
(which, of course, does not endorse this blog in any way, shape, or form), officially announced
the launch of Xebra
as a free open source project available on SourceForge
. Xebra is a complete platform for distributing and viewing DICOM medical images. It is written in pure Java and hence platform independent (well, at least it runs on any platform that can run Java 1.6 which unfortunately at present does not include Mac OS X
I have been working on the Xebra project on and off with one other developer for about a year and a half now...
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October 29, 2007
Berkeley, Computers, and Time
I read a very interesting paper by James Van Cleve today, regarding a pair of arguments originally made by Jorge Luis Borges to the effect that either Berkeley's idealism or Leibniz's principle of the identity of indiscernables could be used to prove the unreality of time. The paper is "Time, Idealism, and the Identity of Indiscernables," Philosophical Perspectives
16 (2002): 379-393. Van Cleve identifies three "axioms of time order" which Borges' arguments are designed to undermine...
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July 5, 2007
How Much Personal Data Does Windows Vista Collect?
All of it.
IP addresses, web-sites visited, computer name, hardware configuration, software configuration, what kinds of files you open, everything. The Windows Vista EULA apparently provides a non-exhaustive list of 47 Vista components that send data to Microsoft. Other components store personal data on your hard drive. Microsoft says it will release these vast troves of data under the following conditions...
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June 25, 2007
Detecting Java WebStart on Internet Explorer
So, I haven't posted very much recently, not for any particularly important reason, but simply because I've been doing other things with my free time. The next few days I have very little to do, however (I'm on vacation back in Washington state), and so I'm hoping to get a few things posted that I've been meaning to post. The first of these is a little off the usual topic of this blog, but I think it will be of interest if not to my usual readers, at least to those who find it on google. At work last week,...
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February 7, 2007
Windows Vista EULA Prohibits Users From "work[ing] around any technical limitations in the software"
reports on Windows Vista's End-User License Agreement.
Apparently it is now a violation of the agreement to "work around any technical limitations in the software." In previous versions of Microsoft software, "technical limitations" have frequently included not working
, so it looks like we'd all better obey the Vista license agreement and leave the CD in its shrinkwrap on the shelf where it belongs...
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August 3, 2006
Regulating the Internet Won't Increase Competition
Policy analyst Timothy B. Lee writes in an op-ed in today's New York Times
that: It�s tempting to believe that government regulation of the Internet would be more consumer-friendly; history and economics suggest otherwise. The reason is simple: a regulated industry has a far larger stake in regulatory decisions than any other group in society. As a result, regulated companies spend lavishly on lobbyists and lawyers...
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July 25, 2006
Yahoo! Music Against DRM
The Yahoo! Music Blog
reported this week that Yahoo! has convinced Sony BMG to release customized Jessica Simpson tracks as unrestricted mp3s
. Yahoo! points out that the only ones who benefit from DRM are the companies that make the technology. As far as musicians, labels, and consumers are concerned, the music provider is spending more
money to provide less
value. Go Yahoo!
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April 29, 2006
Canadian Recording Artists Oppose Suing Fans, DRM
The founding of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, a group representing several Canadian bands and recording artists, was announced last Wednesday in response to World Intellectual Property Day. The group, representing some of the most prominent Canadian recording artists, including the Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, and Sarah McLachlan, was formed in response to the fact that the intellectual property debate has thus far been controlled by recording industry mega-corps who do not have the artists' interests in mind. Contrary to the claims of said mega-corps, CMCC asserts the following: "Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical" "Digital Locks [i.e. DRM]...
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December 6, 2005
Digital Rights Management Software: Everyone Gets Screwed
The New York Times (see also slashdot) is running an Op-Ed by the lead singer of the band OK Go (which I have never heard of) explaining why Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, like the stuff Sony BMG got itself in trouble with recently (see Freedom to Tinker, the blog of Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten, for all the technical details. Professor Felten first discussed the security flaws that got Sony in trouble here.) isn't good for anyone. In particular, the author argues, bands who have DRM forced upon them by their record labels end up being heard by...
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November 7, 2005
Renewable Energy and the Death of Quantum Mechanics (Wishful Thinking)
From The Guardian via Slashdot: Dr. Randell Mills of Blacklight Technology claims to have invented a new energy source that supposedly works by moving the electrons of hydrogen atoms in ordinary water closer to the nucleus, thus causing a very large release of energy. Dr. Mills calls the new form of hydrogen "hydrino." The (alleged) new technology would reduce energy costs to about 24% of the coal energy, or 20% that of nuclear. There is only one problem: according to quantum mechanics, Dr. Mills's results are impossible. In standard quantum mechanics, the smallest possible distance between the electron and the...
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September 6, 2005
"I'm human. Really, I am!"
It seems that Jason Striegel (HT: slashdot) has fallen into an existential quandary after repeatedly failing the Turing Test in AIM conversations. The Turing test, named for mathematician and proto-computer scientist Dr. Alan Turing, refers to the experiment of interacting with an individual and attempting to determine whether that individual is a human or a computer. Many years of research have gone into the attempt to create artificial intelligences that pass the Turing test, but never before have I heard of a human who failed it. Poor guy. Even Eliza, a psycho-analyst program which was probably the first artificial intelligence...
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July 12, 2005
New York Times Columnist John Tierney: No Undestanding of Computer Security
The Times is running a very tongue-in-cheek (I hope) editorial today about fitting punishment for "hackers." I won't bother spending time complaining about the media's terrible abuse of that term (which I believe the New York Times started about 25 years ago). For correct usage see the The Jargon File, s.v., and also the entry in the more "official" RFC 1983 (RFC stands for "Request For Comments;" RFCs are official documents describing Internet (and ARPANET before it) standards dating from as early as 1969. RFC 1983 is "The Internet User's Glossary" and was written in August 1996. Some RFCs are...
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August 25, 2004
Download Music and ... the Government Will Steal Your Computer?
Also on slashdot today, a pointer to a Reuters story about a justice department raid on the homes of peope accused of the vicious crime of ... file sharing? Four raids took place, computers were confiscated but not arrests were made. John Ashcroft reportedly made idiotic and generally fascist statements to the affect that it would be "inappropriate" for the justice department to "stand by while such theft is taking place." Give me a break! Allow me to let you in on a little secret: If I can take it from you, without depriving you of it ... It's NOT...
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