Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jon
The Needs of the Many

Sep 30, 2010 GMT

 "The Needs of the Many Must Outweigh the Needs of the Few..or the One." - Spock in “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” With those words Spock chose to die in order to save the rest of the crew. Philosophically whether you agree to what Spock said or not, an important part of the lesson was that Spock chose to act the way he did...he exercised choice. Sometimes developers inadvertantly do not offer as much choice to their customers as they should. For example, when we choose not to engineer and offer a clean upgrade path to a new version of a program or distribution. Many years ago I helped design a new "update" facility for Digital's Ultrix...
Storage of clear-text passwords: NOT!

Sep 30, 2010 GMT

 I am the first person to admit that I am not an expert on security (o.k., there are probably several dozens of my friends who will gleefully “admit” that I am not an expert on security before I will), but I do know that storing passwords in clear-text is just not the way to go. Yet recent interactions with several web site management teams has shown me that apparently some people have not yet learned this simple principle. With all the reported incidents of identity theft due to records and data stolen you would hope that companies would treat passwords with more respect, yet I have one “social network” site email me information on my account each month where they...
Late Night Frustrations

Sep 29, 2010 GMT

 From time to time I write about Project Cauã, and how it might help the average person by supplying them with a local systems administrator to help them fix problems on their computer system. I use Evolution as my mail/contacts/calendar/task manager. About three days ago my outgoing email stopped working. I could access the incoming email, but all outgoing email simply stayed in the outbox of Evolution. When I tried to schedule the email for delivery, dialog boxes would come up telling me that my smtp server was denying access. Almost simultaneously I saw a brief tweet from my ISP mentioning that they were “working on a problem” (but no real description of the problem), so...
Mocking fortunes

Sep 28, 2010 GMT

X windows: The ultimate bottleneck. Flawed beyond belief. The only thing you have to fear. Somewhere between chaos and insanity. On autopilot to oblivion. The joke that kills. A disgrace you can be proud of. A mistake carried out to perfection. Belongs more to the problem set than the solution set. To err is X windows. Ignorance is our most important resource. Complex nonsolutions to simple nonproblems. Built to fall apart. Nullifying centuries of progress. Falling to new depths of inefficiency. The last thing you need. The defacto substandard. Elevating brain damage to an art form. X windows. Those of you who know me may be surprised to see such venom against the really...
Will Code For Beer

Sep 27, 2010 GMT

 People ask me why programmers write code and give it away “for free”. There are many reasons, but one I often give is that a programmer might end up at a conference and a grateful user of their code might “buy them a beer, or even a dinner.” It was February or March of 1995, and the port of Linux to the Alpha processor was well underway. In talking with some of the developers over the Internet, I started to hear rumors that the Alpha port would not have “shared libraries”, but instead would have statically-linked binaries. For those of you who do not understand the ramifications of statically linked binaries, it means that every program has all of the libraries...
Goodbye Ubuntu, hello Fedora!

Sep 20, 2010 GMT

Many times people come up to me and ask me what distribution I use on my notebook (due to my traveling my notebook is my main "production and testing" system) and why. I tell them I use the distribution that makes sense for me, and often that is dictated by the work that I am doing and the company for which I am doing that work.Over the weekend I switched my notebook distribution of Linux from Ubuntu to Fedora.So, the rest of this blog will not be some sort of rant against Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth or any of the Ubuntu community. Ubuntu has been a great distribution for the past three years that I have used it.This decision to switch at this time was all about the current work...
Stuff

Aug 31, 2010 GMT

The late George Carlin once did a comedy routine about “stuff” and I sympathize with him entirely, but while his concept was that he had all his “stuff” in houses, in suitcases and in bureau drawers, I have most of my interesting “stuff” on disk drives.....Over six years ago I purchased a new IBM Thinkpad X31 laptop notebook. I intended on having it a long time, so I outfitted it with the maximum amount of memory that I could get (2 Gbytes), along with the largest disk, which at that time was 80 Gigabytes, and an extended warranty covering five years.About three years ago I started feeling a bit pinched for disk space, so I upgraded to a 160 Gbyte disk and thought that would...

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