Late Wednesday, I decided to do some end-of-year security checks on my Web server. I keep up with Windows updates, but I hadn't run Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer in a while so that was step one. It made a few good recommendations concerning default IIS Web sites that I'd never removed (just disabled) and the fact that I didn't disable the Guest user. The fatal recommendation was to run something called IIS Lockdown from Microsoft which further cleans up stray IIS settings that could cause problems.
I'm not sure exactly what happened when I ran it, but the result was the elimination of all of my Web sites from IIS (the settings, not the files). Yipes. My fault was two-fold: I should have had IIS backed up and I should have researched more closely what the lockdown app was going to do. Anyway, the past few days--late into the evening Wednesday, a good portion of last night when I got RadioWave (JSPs) and my blog (Perl) up, and today when I finally got my development wiki (PHP) back--were exhausting. Oddly, getting Tomcat working was the biggest headache, mostly because IIS seems to be erratic about refreshing with refresh (the Web site), restart (the server), or reboot (the machine). I need to write down all of the peculiarities as soon as possible before I forget, especially because I found others describing some of the symptoms but with no solutions. I've already updated my notes on configuring MediaWiki with some new links, but there's some more to add. Getting Perl working was effortless. Getting PHP was a little more difficult because it involved some rarely-documented stuff.
All-in-all, it was a good re-learning experience and I was able to clean up many of the spurious settings from my Tomcat config files. The irony now is that my Web server is probably more insecure (I probably shouldn't advertise that, should I?) because of the gobal changes that were just made. I think I'll be locking down IIS on my own from now on, thank you.
Overheard recently at work:
everyone thought that recycling was a good thing until they realized that it costs more to recycle than to throw away. Yeah, that's why we recycle. To save money. Jackass. Recycling is A Good Thing because our society can consume both resources and land (as landfills) at a greater rate than the environment can provide. Ancient societies got in the same predicament and often disappeared because of it. American Indian tribes over-farmed forests and destroyed ecosystems in the west [ref?]; we could just as easily outpace what our current forests have to offer. And although there's millions of acres of "empty" land to use as landfill, how are you going to get your garbage there efficiently (i.e. affordably)? And the argument that recycling costs more ignores the full processing cycle that includes mining ore or harvesting lumber. Jeesh. Does this even need to be stated? It reminded me of another canard where someone tried to tell me that we shouldn't recycle glass because it's made of sand. Gah!
Obviously, I and a half-dozen or so random strangers were at the recycling center today.
Opening a workspace with several projects, I was presented with the following error for two of the projects:
The project cannot be built until the build path errors are resolved.
The resolution was to force a resave of the selected projects (and their .classpath files):
The only other references I could find were to make minor alterations of contents of the .classpath file.
Originally heard about this back around June or so.Continue reading "The Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa"
Two from Language Hat: first, the long history of X-mas (dating back to the 1500s), and second, the difficult pragmatics of the New Testament (wherein a rearranging of commas and quotes presents distinct possibilities for interpretation). Both subjects are coincident with the subject of the Bart Ehrman book that found its way to my wish list. As always, the comments are as important as the article itself.
THE SHARED JARGON OF SF. concerning the unique aspects of science fiction literature.
I walked by someone's cubicle and heard Rachmaninoff. I wanted to stop and comment but then I thought: I don't even like Rachmaninoff that much.
Ignoring the issue of The Secret Club that people who listen to classical music are in and that places in them a desire to acknowledge one another, I wondered about my dislike (not strong, but there) of Rachmaninov. To me, his music feels 20-years out of place: a Romantic composer witnessing the modern world. Even if his music was out of place it's not now--at least, not any more than other older music--so what does it mean for me to define it like that? Can you feel in the work its style's stuggle with the different style that surrounded it? His densely voiced 9th chords sound a bit archaic when set alongside Stravinsky's stacks of thirds (similar but different), and even more so when they both feel so Russian, but is there anything internal to Rachmaninoff's music that illustrates the external changes where Chopin's music does not?
Listening to Bart Ehrman being interviewed on Forum and discussing his book Misquoting Jesus. It contains fascinating research on the hundreds of thousands of discrepancies between the various New Testament manuscripts. Most are trivial, but some--such as the fabrication of the concept of the trinity--significant. He teaches at UNC Chapel Hill; what a great course to be able to take.
Humorous comment from the show: an emailer accused him of
fetishistic biblio-historiography (some people can only hope to be insulted with such an honorific) to which he dispassionately responded that fundamentalists worship the bible and not God, and so could be accused of a similar sin.
I had been in an argument recently concerning the mutability of the intent of the Constitution (aka the Living Document argument). I was, duh, pro and insisted that the wording is vague to its benefit, making the work bend without alteration to changes in society and culture. I was countered by something about activist judges ... how odd that we didn't find common ground.Continue reading "The flaw of certitude"
At my brother's last Sunday for the in-town X-mas and I got this drawing from one of my nieces:
At first I thought it was coincidence that I had dressed as a monkey for Halloween, but after I saw her drawing of a polar bear for Lisa--who had just finished watching a special on polar bears--I'm not so sure. It's either a scarey Twilight Zone thing or a cool Medium thing.
Regarding FISA, I was presented with the Clinton red herring earlier today. In effect, saying that Clinton did what Bush did so it must be legal and constitutional. This argument came from a conservative I-kid-you-not. My first reply was to address the internal inconsistency: "just because someone else did it, doesn't make it legal" (is precedent based on actions or legal decisions?). After quick research, I found an external inconsistency.
FISA did not apply to physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes, as Media Matters for America has noted. A year later, Congress -- with Clinton's support -- amended FISA to require court orders for physical searches. The Clinton administration thereafter never argued that any "inherent authority" pre-empted the new warrant requirements for physical searches under FISA.
The Bush administration, on the other hand, has argued that it had the authority to authorize the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on domestic communications without warrants, despite FISA's clear restrictions on warrantless electronic eavesdropping. [emphasis mine]
Clearly, Clinton was no Bush. Unfortunately, the
clear restrictions aren't that clear. The Wikipedians had the same uncertainty concerning the 15 day period that I had when reading the source material. I'm not sure if that's resolved anywhere. Other uncertainties revolve around the fact that FISA permits the extra wiretapping powers only during wartime. We're not at war with Iraq, we're at "war" with "terrorism," so will the President have the powers indefinitely? Does he even have them right now?
One of the most beautiful computing experiences (geek) I ever had was using my Newton. I had a 120 and eventually moved on to the 130--backlit! I was mocked relentlessly because of its size, but it didn't matter because the OS was. absolutely. perfect. Everytime I use my PDA, I miss the 130. The Newton Museum is selling off its entire collection on eBay [ via BoingBoing ]
Interesting articles currently being browsed:
There's a wealth of information and opinion on Java/Ruby/Perl/Python/etc. in the Java discussions.Continue reading "Programming languages and direction"
Even talking about the possibility of using CID [cruel, inhumane or degrading] treatment sends wrong signals and encourages base instincts in those who should be consistently delivered from temptation by their superiors. As someone who has been on the receiving end of the "treatment" under discussion, let me tell you that trying to make a distinction between torture and CID techniques is ridiculous....
...how can you force your officers and your young people in the CIA to commit acts that will scar them forever? For scarred they will be, take my word for it.
We're a sad, sick country, who allows a born-again Christian to convince us that we have God's blessing to torture others.Continue reading "Torture"
Held with considerable distain by most critics (making Rotten Tomatoes Worst Flix of 2005), this movie really isn't that bad but it's got some problems and could have easily been much better.Continue reading "Aeon Flux (2/5)"
Bush is often lampooned as being either illiterate (unlikely) or a moron (equally doubtful). These are used as a shorthand for the obvious and many mistakes he makes with the spoken language and his inability to present a basic intelligent statement even in the most simple and well-reviewed areas. The canonical examples are from those press conferences where he is expected to be conversant in only limited subject matter but still ends up stumbling (e.g. he often defines an aspect in terms of itself, as with:
Tribal sovereignty means that. It's sovereign. You're a ... you're a ... you've been given sovereignty and you're viewed as a sovereign entity.). There are many examples, so I don't think that their existence is in dispute. ...
What was the question?"
Well, I don't really like to brag, but ...
Almost as good as the one from our last NYC trip.
At work, I've a neighbor who I've never seen but that I hear constantly on the phone. He will talk for 30 or 40 minutes, I swear, to what sounds like his therapist--very loudly and in great detail. What's odd (as if the setup isn't odd enough) is that he's pontificating about his deep religious beliefs and how he feels that our culture is morally corrupted, and he'll continue to detail the points in scripture that prove it. So I really don't want to listen to how the world is wrong and sinful and but this guy has the insight into God's word to see it and live correctly. I especially don't want to be subjected to this at work. But then I consider: we all do our fair share of declaring what's right and what's wrong and (of course) following that declaration ourselves. It's kinda tacky to state that you've got the final word on the issue (as per divine law) ... but not really that much different from what we all do. Maybe? And I consider that he has to listen to me and my other cube neighbors rant about movies or music or how to replace a VW Beetle battery. Is that so different?
Target's been off-limits since they decided to mix their religion with my science. I really don't activist all that much, but this seems beyond good taste on their part, and so there's no more of that Good Target Stuff to be purchased. But then, do any of Target's good deeds make up for this one bad deed? I didn't have the urge to buy more from them because of thier charitable donations or their steadfast use of the phrase "Happy Holidays" in the face of fundamentalist rabble-rousers. Am I being uneven in my activism? Although maybe my actions as a consumer are atomic and only relevant (socially) when combined with others'. Target's reward for being socially responsible may manifest itself as an increase in customers--with the reverse also occurring. And boycotting does not always have to be about punishing the institution; it can just as likely be about acting true to yourself. Which gets us to the rabble-rousers: acting true to yourself doesn't mean that you have a justifiable position.
Finally: I watched Jimmy Carter on The Daily Show. It's nice to be an athiest and see a devout fundamentalist that I not only agree with but deeply respect. I sometimes worry that I'm biased to the point of being crippled. It's people like Jimmy Carter and Father Gregory Boyle who give me hope that the secular and religious don't have to be at odds.
How-To use AOL Instant Messenger to send a Text Message to a phone. I found this after text messaging Lisa and wishing I could do it from Trillian. It works using my AIM account (see additional comments after the article). Only slightly useful but neat.
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking with Rupert Everett as an appropriately cold Holmes and the singularly unique appearance of Watson's wife (!). The Holmesian themes were present but not over-present, although I swear that much of the soundtrack (by Adrian Johnston) was stolen from Philip Glass's sound track for Mishima.
Eventful weekend up in Asheville at Nat and Frank's. Lisa had my car for a business trip to Charlotte on Friday, so I rode up with Shelby and Robert Saturday morning. We met for lunch at a nice restaurant called The Fig Bistro. Asheville has a surplus of fine restaurants. That evening was N&F's Christmas party in Black Mountain--the reason for our trip up north. Fun was had by all. I passed out on the couch while the rest of the Atlanta people returned to the cabin. The next day's (Sunday's) lunch was postponed by my car not starting. Yet another technological glitch. Frank and I fumbled around for much too long until we decided to give up and go to lunch. Worst case: I would leave my car for the VW dealer in town and fly/drive to get it back next weekend.
During lunch (at Table in Asheville), Frank got a call from his mechanic. (1) Cheap jumper cables will fail in cold weather, (2) as will old batteries. After saying goodbye to Lisa&Shelby&Robert with the optimistic intention of fixing the car that night, we found that both items described our situation perfectly. A different set of jumpers started the car, but the battery had nothing left to charge. New battery and free installation from Advanced Auto Parts (much to their regret 30 minutes later--Beetles are a bitch to replace anything) and I was on the road, headed back to the Dirty South.
And after all of that, I think I kicked the cold that I was getting last week.
Lisa's up in NYC with her mom for the next few days. They've got tickets to see our-famous-brother-in-law-in-law in the famous musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Groovy.
I was describing (trying-to-describe) extreme cinema to a coworker the other day, and he commented something about there being a
diminishing return with such envelope-pushing styles. We were on another subject entirely so I didn't pursue what he meant, but it reminded me of the scene that Peter Jackson recreated from the original King Kong. The scene had been cut from the 1933 version because it would be too frightening to the audience. Giant stop motion spiders were too frightening. Do we really consider that the ideal level of shocking imagery--not too prurient and not too gory--or does that even go too far? We could revert further back to the Gothic novels of the 1700s and 1800s or further to the grim Byzantine crucifixions. As stark and emotionally skillful as Irreversible and Requiem for a Dream are, can their presence be considered a value judgement against graphic expression?
I had mistakenly told a friend that one of the problems with Google's library of scanned books was that they don't provide compensation to the copyright holder. From Search Engine Watch's explanation I'm still a little unclear, but it appears that the issue is that Google doesn't ask permission to reprint the works (or, rather, portions of the works), relying on the umbrella of Fair Use to validate their cause. And yet, the odd point is that Google will still be making money on that Fair Use with ads. Am I missing something here? I've read several articles and still feel that I don't have a full understanding.
Danny Sullivan really misses the mark though, very obstinately, on the difference between indexing Web pages and indexing books. The first point is that Web pages may be copyrighted yet still freely available; books, on the other hand, must be purchased. Even when loaned from a library, the book was purchased and is not being duplicated. It's free to read anyone's copy of a Web page because to view a Web page you must download it and therefor copy it. This brings up the second point that digital copying is different than physical copying. The domain of digital information is different from that of physical information and the two worlds are (once again) colliding. Maybe I'm missing some new paradigm, but I think that Google has to respect the existing model that exists in the physical world while pushing into the new world.
An artifact still has value. Or am I just being old-fashioned?
From an anonymous employee-submitted Q&A survey taken where a friend works:
Question: Why does executive management keep their jobs when they obviously have had little impact to help the business succeed and profit? We do not get profit sharing but they get to do the same mediocre job for a hefty salary.
Answer: It is difficult to respond to broad generalizations.
And, no, they don't work for the Bush administration...
Technology has not been treating me well. First, my keen laptop starts inexplicably shutting down whenever the battery is plugged in. I ordered a new battery that fixed it but only for a day. After an hour on the line with Dell, I get a case # to ship it in under warrenty. X (<- fingers crossed). Before that, the old crappy laptop that's hooked up to the stereo acting as our jukebox went wonky. After endless, lengthy reboots, I finally figured out that the wireless card was bad. I have a backup, but it's still got somethin' wrong. I'm too tired of working on it, so it'll have to wait a few days. Then, last night the power flickered (very rare here) and reboot all of my machines. After an hour of (1) disk scanning, (2) defragmenting, and (3) resetting most of the Zone Alarm settings that got lost, I went to bed. In the morning, I found out that I didn't reset Zone Alarm completely and the Web stuff was still down.
Please nothing else.
I've been improvising alot lately without taking notes later. Generally, I use improvisation as part of the writing process. I mean, ideas come out of nowhere anyway, so improvisation is just a part of that process whether you write the melody in your head or in your hands. I've been putting off writing to work instead on technical skills, so I just don't have the mindset to pick out what's good and what's bad or what's useful. There's part of me that doesn't want to examine that too much--just in case I let something valuable slip by.
At the end of this week's This American Life, entitled "David and Goliath," Ira Glass discusses the misinformation coming from the White House concerning their alleged honesty about pre-war intelligence. In a quick rebuttal, Ira enumerates around 5 points--well-known--where the administration spoke publicly in a completely contrary manner to what their intelligence reports stated. All of these statements by the President and Vice President were made after the contradicting facts were known, sometimes for years after. Jackasses.
This political postscript begins at 54:45 in the stream.
Oh, and there's an oddly intriguing piece where David Sedaris ponders the impetus behind public defacators. I can kinda see a connection now between the two stories...
Thanksgiving (Thursday a week-and-a-half ago) at my brother's with their friends from Tampa Lisa and John, their current neighbors Juliette and Greg, and Juliette's parents (British, but living in Spain) Chris and Alan. Add to that our parents and my sister-in-law's parents, the two nieces, and L&J's three kids and it was quite a crowd. Lisa (my Lisa) and I spoke with Alan about their travels through eastern Europe and into China by train.
This weekend, friends were in for the LSU v. UGA game. Friday night was dinner at Soho (mmm, elk) in Vinings. Always good, but we had a very weird experience. After tipping the waitress generously, we stayed at the table to talk and finish our drinks. After a little while, the waitress came back to our table and gave some circuitous explanation of why she needed to re-run one of the cards. She explained something about moving a charge from one card to another. Everyone is always very nice there so we went with it, but may be regretting our accommodating natures.
Saturday (last night) was Mollie's b-day pool party at Smith's Olde Bar (which was lousy with hot women ... not the least of which being The Wife). I spend some time talking with friends in front of the ginormous mirror that completely freaks me out. It's too ... reflective. Shelby and Robert gave Aeon Flux a good review. Rotten Tomatoes reluctantly disagrees. I was hoping for something like Blade Runner without all the rain, but I guess it's just not meant to be. Best line from critic Richard Roeper about the studio's mistake of not screening the movie to critics:
she's got a wacky haircut and a rubber outfit, what's not to like?
Digg just posted an article praising Penn and Teller's show ridiculing PETA. The commenters were falling over themselves in their praise of P&T and their vitriolic hatred of PETA. Ignoring the fact that it's easy to ridicule the differences from the norm that any extremist organization has (hint: that's why they're called "extremist"), and admitting that any harassment by PETA should not be tolerated, what are these people's complaints? ...Continue reading "People for the ethical treatment of logic"
One of my cube neighbors, a new-ish employee, said that he didn't want to keep his desk clean because he did not yet have a clear understanding of the product he's working on. I understood what he meant, and I think it's important. Only after he understands the system can he organize his environment to fit that system. My note-taking process begins on a small stack of paper-to-be-recycled, white side up, sitting in front of my keyboard. I scribble notes and drawings and UML diagrams as needed. From there, if they're valuable and not just scribbles, I move them to my development wiki in the appropriate location and HTML-ify them with wiki links and external links. Eventually, I may add further notes, link other articles to them, or move them into a more appropriate location as I get a better understanding of the domain...Continue reading "Allowing chaos"