May 20, 2003
Mac OS X Customization

Here are some utility tips, application settings and other tweaks that I find indispensable or that make my Mac OS X experience even more pleasant than it already is.

Mac OS X: Using mod_ssl

This tutorial will show you how to enable one of the most important technologies included with the standard installation of Apache on Mac OS X, mod_ssl. The mod_ssl module lets Apache use OpenSSL, thereby enabling cryptographically protected connections to web servers via the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security. Though this is not a comprehensive tutorial on system security, if you enable mod_ssl you will add a layer of security to a Mac OS X machine's Web Sharing feature.

Administer Linux on the fly

The /proc filesystem is one of Linux's great features, and this article gives you a thorough grounding in some of its most useful aspects. With it, you can administer many details of the operating system without ever having to shut down and reboot the machine, which is a boon for those who need to keep their systems as available as possible.

May 17, 2003

MacStumbler is a small utility I wrote to emulate the functionality of projects like netstumbler, bsd-airtools, and kismet. It's meant purely for educational or auditing purposes, although many people enjoy using these types of programs to check out how many networks are in their area, usually known as war driving.


bsd-airtools is a package that provides a complete toolset for wireless 802.11b auditing. Namely, it currently contains a bsd-based wep cracking application, called dweputils (as well as kernel patches for NetBSD, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD). It also contains a curses based ap detection application similar to netstumbler (dstumbler) that can be used to detect wireless access points and connected nodes, view signal to noise graphs, and interactively scroll through scanned ap's and view statistics for each. It also includes a couple other tools to provide a complete toolset for making use of all 14 of the prism2 debug modes as well as do basic analysis of the hardware-based link-layer protocols provided by prism2's monitor debug mode.

May 14, 2003

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else"

- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Strange Weather Lately

Lincoln was only a Congressman when he said in 1848 what I am about to echo. He was heartbroken and humiliated by our war on Mexico, which had never attacked us.

We were making California our own, and a lot of other people and properties, and doing it as though butchering Mexican soldiers who were only defending their homeland against invaders wasn’t murder.

What other stuff besides California? Well, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.

The person congressman Lincoln had in mind when he said what he said was James Polk, our president at the time. Abraham Lincoln said of Polk, his president, our armed forces’ commander-in-chief: “Trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood —that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy, he plunged into war.”

May 09, 2003
Time to default on Gates stealth tax

The total cost for each machine therefore comes to £801, of which £440 goes to Microsoft.Or, to put it in plain terms, 55 per cent of the cost of a new Windows PC is accounted for by Microsoft software.

Dissatisfied business execs frequently clash with IT

A third of the 437 business executives surveyed recently by Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. are dissatisfied with the performance of their IT departments.The survey also found that the dissatisfied group was more likely to fight with IT departments for control of IT initiatives. These executives also felt that their companies lag in the adoption of emerging technologies such as content management and supply chain management systems. In addition, they face higher IT project failure rates than peers who are happy with their IT shops, said Meredith Child, a Forrester analyst and co-author of the report.

Building a Large-scale E-commerce Site with Apache and mod_perl

When it comes to building a large e-commerce Web site, everyone is full of advice. Developers will tell you that only a site built in C or Java (depending on which they prefer) can scale up to handle heavy traffic. Application server vendors will insist that you need a packaged all-in-one solution for the software. Hardware vendors will tell you that you need the top-of-the-line mega-machines to run a large site. This is a story about how we built a large e-commerce site using mainly open-source software and commodity hardware. We did it, and you can do it, too.

May 08, 2003
Why IT won't let you customize your PC

Why do information technology people lock down employees' machines so they can't be customized or install new programs? I got a hard lesson in this a few weeks ago, in an experience that gave me new respect for oft-maligned IT people.

May 07, 2003
Gates quells fears over new PC security

Consumers shouldn't be worried that Microsoft Corp.'s new security technology will wrest control of their PCs and give it to media companies, Bill Gates said this week. They can always choose not to use it, he said.

Let's think about that line of reasoning a little...

You don't ever have to worry about food poisoning... because you can always choose not to eat.

You don't ever have to worry about SARS... because you can always choose not to breathe.

No... I just don't think that works for me. You see... not only do I want a choice, I want to decide what my options are.

And, I bet MS makes DRM an all-or-nothing proposition. You boot with DRM enabled... or disabled. No in-between... no mixing non-DRM and DRM capabilities.

No choice.

Get it?

Mandrake 9.1 and Lin-Neighborhood

Today, we will tweak a newly installed Mandrake 9.1 installation to add a Windows-like, Network-Neighborhood area to a Linux-based computer -- in a peer-to-peer network environment. That will give us full access to all the shared resources on all the computers connected to our LAN. And it will allow other computers on the LAN to see shared resources on the Mandrake 9.1 computer, too.

May 06, 2003
Guide to Video Capturing

This guide is the first in a series on the Art of Video Capture, Clean-up, and Compression. This guide deals exclusively with the first step: Video Capture.

May 05, 2003
How To Make A Telemarketer Cry

In November 2002, a telemarketer called my home in D.C. at 5:24 a.m. This is the story of how that call cost him $500.

May 01, 2003
Linux/OSS support

As a senior system administrator, it is mission-critical that I be able to obtain the support I need when I need it. With that criteria in mind, I will take open-source software (OSS) support over any other form of support that can be offered. You could not pay me to go about business any other way.

What's my reasoning behind this? Well, here's an example. When I have a problem with a proprietary piece of software that has a support "contract," what do I have to do when I have a problem?