March 31, 2003
A letter to America

If you proceed much further down the slippery slope, people around the world will stop admiring the good things about you. They'll decide that your city upon the hill is a slum and your democracy is a sham, and therefore you have no business trying to impose your sullied vision on them. They'll think you've abandoned the rule of law. They'll think you've fouled your own nest.

The British used to have a myth about King Arthur. He wasn't dead, but sleeping in a cave, it was said; in the country's hour of greatest peril, he would return. You, too, have great spirits of the past you may call upon: men and women of courage, of conscience, of prescience. Summon them now, to stand with you, to inspire you, to defend the best in you. You need them.

March 30, 2003
Understanding the Psychology of Programming

Writing code is an act of creativity. It isn't science and it isn't engineering, although programmers are happy to apply science and engineering to the creative process, when possible. Therefore to be a programmer one has to be highly creative. This is one of the reasons programmers are happier working on new projects rather than maintenance projects. It isn't just that they don't want to get buried in the filth of the past (although that's part of it); maintenance doesn't offer them the opportunity to create.

When creative people work on making something new, they often enter a mental state where things just flow. This is a highly desirable state, both for the programmer herself and for the organization that profits by her labors.

March 28, 2003
Rumsfeld Calls on Syria to Stop Flow of Military Aid to Iraq

He declined to say what action the United States might take. Possession of night vision equipment has given U.S. and British forces a distinct advantage in combat with Iraqi units, an advantage that would be eroded if the Iraqis obtained comparable gear. Asked if the Syrian government was carrying out the arms traffic, he responded that Syria controls its borders and is therefore responsible.

Hm... now there is an interesting concept.

I guess that makes the U.S. Government responsible for all the drugs that come into the U.S. ... right?

(Perl|python|Ruby) on (.NET|JVM)

All features have costs associated with them, and nothing is free. You design your feature set, then the software to run it, and it's all a huge mass of tradeoffs. This feature lets you do something, but has that cost. Wanting something to be fast means something else is very slow, or effectively impossible, and sometimes two features are mostly incompatible. You make your list, make your choices, and do what you can.

March 27, 2003
NT4.0 too flawed to fix

In a surprisingly candid admission, the company states that fixing NT4.0 is simply too difficult.

"The architectural limitations of Windows NT 4.0 do not support the changes that would be required to remove this vulnerability," Microsoft says. "Windows NT 4.0 users are strongly encouraged to employ the workaround discussed in the FAQ in the bulletin, which is to protect the NT 4.0 system with a firewall that blocks Port 135."

Too bad they don't tell you how weak the architecture is when you are paying for the product.

But it makes a perfectly fine excuse for forcing you to upgrade...

Oh yeah... don't forget that Win2K is based on the NT architecture, and XP on that.

Nice, huh?


March 25, 2003
Vice president's old firm gets Iraqi oil well contract

The US army said today it had given the main Iraqi oilwell firefighting contract to a unit of Halliburton Co, a firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, without any bidding.

Didn't see that coming.


Letter of Resignation

Dear Secretary Powell:

When I last saw you in Kabul in January, 2002 you arrived to officially open the US Embassy that I had helped reestablish in December, 2001 as the first political officer. At that time I could not have imagined that I would be writing a year later to resign from the Foreign Service because of US policies. All my adult life I have been in service to the United States. I have been a diplomat for fifteen years and the Deputy Chief of Mission in our Embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan (briefly) and Mongolia. I have also had assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. I received the State Departmentís Award for Heroism as Charge díAffaires during the evacuation of Sierra Leone in 1997. I was 26 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and participated in civil reconstruction projects after military operations in Grenada, Panama and Somalia. I attained the rank of Colonel during my military service.

This is the only time in my many years serving America that I have felt I cannot represent the policies of an Administration of the United States. I disagree with the Administrationís policies on Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea and curtailment of civil liberties in the U.S. itself. I believe the Administrationís policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them.

I hope you will bear with my explanation of why I must resign. After thirty years of service to my country, my decision to resign is a huge step and I want to be clear in my reasons why I must do so.

March 24, 2003
The Carlyle Group

How will President George W. Bush personally make millions (if not billions) from the Wars on Terror and Iraq?

The old fashioned way.

He'll inherit it.

Let's Settle Something, Once and For All

US Late Market Comment: Gold, Defense Stocks Advance

In the worst bout of selling in six months, lodging, entertainment and airline stocks were the hardest hit as investors took the position that some of the biggest impact from an extended war with Iraq will be on the travel and leisure industries.

But virtually nobody got off scot-free - all 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell, with 25 losing more than a dollar and 3M, the biggest decliner, dropping 3.79, or 2.8%, to 130.58.

The selling came on an ignominious anniversary - three years ago Monday both the Standard & Poor's 500 Index - a select grouping - and the Wilshire 5000 - a total-market index - marked the end of the great bull market when they hit their all-time highs.

Quote: Three years ago Monday...that is March of 2000.

Now, George wants to say that the economy was ruined by Clinton... that he isn't responsible. He never is...

Well, here is my take on it:
After George W. Bush all but tied up his party's nomination following the Super Tuesday primaries, less than 2 percent of registered Republicans turned out in Colorado's Republican primary on March 10. Bush captured the vote 2-1.

George W Bush Wins Super Tuesday
McCain Withdraws from the Primary

In short... the market reacted to a possible future.

A very dark, and bad future.

So, George... now the truth is out there.

Poor George... wonder who he'll blame next week...

O'Reilly Network: Developing Movable Type Plugins

Written in a highly modular Perl object-oriented (OO) style, Movable Type (MT) has an open code base (it's not open sourceóan important distinction) that makes the browser-based tool quite flexible and easily modifiable to adapt to any number of publishing applications. In recent releases, extending MT has become easier and more elegant with the introduction of a plugin framework that continues to be enhanced with each new release.

March 20, 2003
pGina: Making the big boys play nice

For instance, should an administrator wish to use an existing Unix server, and its existing base of users, to authenticate access to Windows 2000 machines there are few options. The methods employed may range from using a Windows 2000 server for authentication and having the administrator maintain identical lists of usernames/passwords on each server, to using Samba to emulate a Windows NT 4 Server. However, each method has its drawbacks and limitations. Ideally the administrator should be able to setup a standard naming service, such as NIS (Network Information Services) or LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), on ANY type of server and have all clients, regardless of OS revision, access that single repository.

March 19, 2003
Mandrake Linux 9.1

9.1 is gone to production. In the name of MandrakeSoft engineering team, I would like to thank all the cookers for the great help you provided to build this release. Thank you very much !

-- Fred - May the source be with you

Soon... very soon...

Nice titles

Nate over at webgraphics talks about a new feature he'd like to see in Safari: that titles on links should be shown in the rather pretty way that Safari currently shows dragged links.

That's rather nice, that. Of course, it doesn't need browser support. Try mousing over, or tabbing to, some of the links on this page: you'll see the same effect. It's all done with CSS and a little bit of JavaScript.

March 18, 2003
Army Web server hacked

A hacker last week exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 operating system to gain control of an Army Web server, and the extent of the damage done is still unknown.

Russ Cooper, surgeon general at TruSecure Corp. ó a provider of managed security services -- said the hacker used an attack code to operate the Army system as if he or she had the highest security clearance and therefore was able to gain complete control of the system.

And... why is our military using this bug ridden software?

Don't they know there is a war about to start!?

March 17, 2003
Debunking the Linux-Windows market-share myth

There are dozens of reasons why people have underestimated how quickly Linux has been grabbing Windows' market share. Windows starts out with a false boost and maintains its illusory market share even as it gets replaced by Linux. In 2004, don't be surprised when Linux overtakes Windows to become the main focus for developers.

March 11, 2003
X vs. XP > Final Score

There's one more intangible factor that deserves consideration: the pleasure/coolness factor. It's one thing for an operating system to allow you to be productive and get your job done. However, if that same OS can be as productive, and be cool at the same time, it can draw you in and make you enjoy doing what you set out to do. The more you enjoy using your computer, the longer you will be willing to sit in front of it and get your work done. If your computer is simply functional, you'll get your work done, but you'll burn out more quickly. And OS X surely gets my vote for the coolest OS.

March 07, 2003
Public prayer fanatics borrow page from enemy's script

Ashcroft said after the ruling that his Justice Department will ''spare no effort to preserve the rights of all our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag''--a misrepresentation so blatant that it functions as a lie. The pledge remains intact and unchallenged. The court said nothing about pledging allegiance to the flag. It spoke only of the words ''under God''--which amounted, the court said, to an endorsement of religion.

This is really an argument between two kinds of prayer--vertical and horizontal. I don't have the slightest problem with vertical prayer. It is horizontal prayer that frightens me. Vertical prayer is private, directed upward toward heaven. It need not be spoken aloud, because God is a spirit and has no ears. Horizontal prayer must always be audible, because its purpose is not to be heard by God, but to be heard by fellow men standing within earshot.


Because our enemies are for the most part more enthusiastic about horizontal prayer than we are, and see absolutely no difference between church and state--indeed, want to make them the same--it is alarming to reflect that they may be having more success bringing us around to their point of view than we are at sticking to our own traditional American beliefs about freedom of religion. When Ashcroft and his enemies both begin their days with displays of their godliness, do we feel safer after they rise from their devotions?

The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science

I have identified seven indicators that a scientific claim lies well outside the bounds of rational scientific discourse. Of course, they are only warning signs -- even a claim with several of the signs could be legitimate.

March 06, 2003
School Laboratory Management Blues

Compounding the problem are scheduling pressures, as school computer laboratories frequently must accommodate a variety of classes, each one having its own unique requirements. Even administrators who manage a laboratory dedicated to one class per week still have to reinstall their systems for subsequent classes.

System management tools designed for the enterprise generally are inappropriate for a school computer laboratory environment. They were meant to manage a more-or-less consistent profile of computer systems across a company, one that changes less frequently and one with stricter usage policies than a learning environment. The cost of a commercial system management suite also can be prohibitive for a school.

Scripted installation tools, such as Red Hat's Kickstart program, can automate the installation of the operating system, but external and customized applications must be packaged separately by administrators. While this is a straightforward process for some applications, it can be quite complex for larger applications, especially those requiring interactive user input for configuration.

March 04, 2003
Microsoft's Source Code Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If there was any justice in the world, we'd be seeing Allchin hauled in for perjury, or Mundie and Bill Gates being tried for treason. If Microsoft's executives truly believed what Allchin said on the stand -- that too many eyes outside of Microsoft seeing the Windows source is a national security risk -- then the company is now being criminally irresponsible (or blatantly treasonous) by allowing China or Russia to access that information.

If you believe the more likely scenario, that Allchin never really believed that access to the information sought by the nine dissenting states would be a security risk, then it's hard to escape the conclusion that Allchin lied on the stand. That's perjury, ladies and gentlemen, and it should be taken seriously. While it was humorous that Allchin had to admit, on the witness stand and in full public view, just how bad Windows security really is, it's no laughing matter that the company would try such a cynical tack to prevent competition.

March 03, 2003
China-Microsoft deal prompts perjury questions

MICROSOFT MAY well have signed a deal to disclose the secrets of its Windows operating system to mainland China, but that has prompted discussion about a statement Microsoft senior VP Jim Alchin made in the US antitrust last May.

He said under oath then that disclosing Windows code might compromise US national security, and, according to post on LawMeme, might even jeapordise the US war effort.

So people are asking why, if Microsoft is prepared to show the code to the Chinese, it couldn't possibly show such code to its own country.

Because their idea of "national security" is anything that stops them from being a predatory monopolist.

March 01, 2003
U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation

The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a career diplomat who has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan.


It is inevitable that during twenty years with the State Department I would become more sophisticated and cynical about the narrow and selfish bureaucratic motives that sometimes shaped our policies. Human nature is what it is, and I was rewarded and promoted for understanding human nature. But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer.

The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America