August 29, 2003
Version Control on Mac OS X, Part 3

CVS contains two commands that help you create software releases: tag and branch. A tag is a label you give to a set of revisions, or files, enabling you to snapshot a fixed point in the project. As you continue editing tagged files, and committing them to CVS, the tag you created remains fixed with the state of the files when they were tagged. At any point, you can return to the past simply by checking out the files by their tag name. We will use the tag command to create a release of MyPing.The branch

Shiites report top leader among bombing victims

A U.S. intelligence official said he would "not rule anybody out" as a suspect in the attack, including other Shiite leaders, former Baath Party members and Sunnis, although he said it is "much too early" to have a working hypothesis.

These guys have been a major pain in the rear for the occupation forces. Having them killed helps us...

I seriously doubt that he is going to investigate the CIA... or any other US agency.

Which means... he ruled them out.

Definitions of the SI units: The binary prefixes

Once upon a time, computer professionals noticed that 210 was very nearly equal to 1000 and started using the SI prefix "kilo" to mean 1024. That worked well enough for a decade or two because everybody who talked kilobytes knew that the term implied 1024 bytes. But, almost overnight a much more numerous "everybody" bought computers, and the trade computer professionals needed to talk to physicists and engineers and even to ordinary people, most of whom know that a kilometer is 1000 meters and a kilogram is 1000 grams.

August 28, 2003
Microsoft hides behind Linux for protection

Microsoft has employed Akamai's Linux-based servers to protect its Microsoft.com Web site and reduce the site's vulnerability to viruses, worms and denial of service attacks.

Die Laughing

Here's a headline you don't see every day: "War Criminals Hire War Criminals to Hunt Down War Criminals."

Perhaps that's not the precise wording used by the Washington Post this week, but it is the absolute essence of its story about the Bush Regime's new campaign to put Saddam's murderous security forces on America's payroll.

August 26, 2003
Halloween IX: It Ain't Necessarily SCO

SCO, having willingly made itself a sock puppet for the boys in Redmond, therefore becomes the first company other than Microsoft to have its utterances admitted to the gallery of infamy that is the Halloween Documents.

There follows the usual point-by-point takedown. Unlike SCO's claims, this analysis is based entirely on public information which third parties may verify by chasing links or through their local library.

August 25, 2003
Microsoft Windows: Insecure by Design

Between the Blaster worm and the Sobig virus, it's been a long two weeks for Windows users. But nobody with a Mac or a Linux PC has had to lose a moment of sleep over these outbreaks -- just like in earlier "malware" epidemics.

This is not a coincidence.

August 21, 2003
Five Habits for Successful Regular Expressions

Regular expressions are hard to write, hard to read, and hard to maintain. Plus, they are often wrong, matching unexpected text and missing valid text. The problem stems from the power and expressiveness of regular expressions. Each metacharacter packs power and nuance, making code impossible to decipher without resorting to mental gymnastics.

Most implementations include features that make reading and writing regular expressions easier. Unfortunately, they are hardly ever used. For many programmers, writing regular expressions is a black art. They stick to the features they know and hope for the best. If you adopt the five habits discussed in this article, you will take most of the trial and error out of your regular expression development.

This article uses Perl, PHP, and Python in the code examples, but the advice here is applicable to nearly any regex implementation.

August 20, 2003
Rockin' on without Microsoft

But since jettisoning all of Microsoft products three years ago, Ernie Ball has also gained notoriety as a company that dumped most of its proprietary software--and still lived to tell the tale.

In 2000, the Business Software Alliance conducted a raid and subsequent audit at the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that turned up a few dozen unlicensed copies of programs. Ball settled for $65,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees. But by then, the BSA, a trade group that helps enforce copyrights and licensing provisions for major business software makers, had put the company on the evening news and featured it in regional ads warning other businesses to monitor their software licenses.

Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months. "I said, 'I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses,'" recalled Ball, who recently addressed the LinuxWorld trade show. "We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly."

August 15, 2003
Computer First Aid Using Knoppix

Windows just crashed. The computer won't boot back up. Those "System Recovery Disks" that came with your computer will erase all of your data. In most cases, when Windows breaks and will not start up again, none of your data has been lost, you just don't have a way to get to it. These instructions are a way of getting to your data when Windows won't work. If these instructions fail to recover your data, don't panic; even in cases of physically damaged drives, reformatted drives, and accidentally deleted files, professional data recovery companies typically have a 95 to 98% success rate.

August 14, 2003
The Wrong Choice: Two true tales of misspent energy, cash

Why do businesses buy very expensive proprietary products when inexpensive open-source alternatives exist? That question troubles Tony Mancill, who worked for two companies that did just that and, in doing so, as he relates in this story, made the wrong choices.

August 12, 2003
GUI Toolkits for The X Window System

This article is aimed at Unix developers who already have some experience with programming languages and want to start developing GUI applications (mainly for The X Window System, though portability is discussed). It may also come in handy if you have used a particular GUI toolkit for some time and want to know whether others might suit your needs better. The main focus is comparison and introduction, but it serves as a bit of tutorial, as well.

August 11, 2003
Making junk mail illegal

A little-known Federal law allows individuals to send a Prohibitory Order against companies that are sending unsolicited sexually provocative or erotically arousing mail. The Supreme Court went one step further, allowing individuals to decide what constitutes "erotically arousing" mail. The law makes it illegal for a company to send mail to an individual within thirty days of receiving the Order.

CgiAppOrderOfOperations

The purpose of this article is to hopefully, shed a little more light on the exact order that CGI::Application executes it's internal & overloadable methods in. Hopefully it will also serve as a guide on better utilizing, through clearer understanding, the methods that get executed everything your instance script is executed.

August 08, 2003
EFF: Federal Court Spurns Recording Industry Enforcement Tactics

A Massachusetts district court today dealt the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a serious setback by rejecting its Washington, D.C., subpoenas for the identities of Massachusetts students. For the moment, MIT and Boston College need not respond to the RIAA demands.

This really should not be a surprise to anyone.

Five Lessons You Should Learn from Extreme Programming

Extreme Programming (XP) is yet another popular idea gaining press. It adapts several of the best ideas from the past decades of software development. Whether or not you adopt XP, it's worth considering what XP teaches. In no particular order, here are five lessons you should learn from Extreme Programming.

Digital Video Cleaning without the Elbow Grease

This guide is the second in a series on the Art of Video Capture, Clean-up, and Compression (Part I is here). This guide deals exclusively with the second step: Video Clean-up. While many of the lessons to be learned in this guide apply to all platforms, this guide is written from the perspective of PC-based hardware, running Microsoft Windows (and is largely MS OS version agnostic).

Ars Technica: 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. Further guides will cover the remaining guides, and I encourage you to drop me a line with your suggestions for those articles. While many of the lessons to be learned in this guide apply to all platforms, this guide is written from the perspective of PC-based hardware, running Microsoft Windows (largely OS version agnostic). Furthermore, I've written this guide with the Hauppauge WinTV-dbx card in mind, and have chosen to use some fairly specific tools to take on certain tasks. No guide can be definitive, and as is the case with all technical matters, I've had to strike a balance between providing general information that's of use to other configurations while also being in-depth enough at times using specific configurations in order to make some important points and observations. Finally, before I get started, I do want to point out there there are myriad other ways of capturing video, all of which cannot be treated here. There are other options of importing video such as analog-to-digital DV bridges (that can be had for $300). Obviously, TiVo is a consumer solution that doesn't support moving video off of the device (without hacking), and then there's things such as Panasonic's standalone DVD-R recorder, or the ATi All-in-Wonder. I've decided to go with a good-quality, low cost solution that also gives you the option of recording TV (I will treat the ATi AIW in a further supplement). For now, let's begin with video capturing using a separate video capture card.

August 07, 2003
The Mac DVD Resource - DVDbackup

DVDBackup is intended to let you exercise your "fair use" rights under copyright law to either "time-shift" or "space-shift" DVD content which you have purchased legitimately.

Refined RSS feeds

I took a few minutes recently to make sure the RSS feeds for kottke.org are correct, validate, and such. In addition to a problem that Brent noted in my remaindered links feed, I've received several emails lately about my feeds not working in some RSS readers and aggregators. The MT RSS templates I was using predated the xml_encode attribute, so there was most of my problem right there (well, along with a lack of understanding of the intricacies of RSS on my part). So, with help from the RSS 1.0 spec, the RSS 2.0 spec, the default MT templates, and Brad Choate's Non-Funky MT RSS 2 Template, here are the RSS files for kottke.org for your enjoyment, approval, perusal, applause, and jeers:

August 06, 2003
How to install Windows XP in 5 hours or less

My Windows XP installation has reached its half-life. (You do know that Windows has a half-life, donít you? Every installation of Windows naturally degrades along a logarithmic curve until it becomes annoying, then unbearable, then unusable. Each successive revision of Windows has featured a slightly longer half-life. Back in the day, Windows 95 would last me about 3 months, while my copy of Windows XP has lasted me almost 9. Iím not bitter; when you realize that youíre measuring on a logarithmic scale, a factor of 3 improvement is really quite impressive.)

Still, the fact remains that my Windows XP laptop can no longer (a) print, (b) sleep, or (c) change network settings without crashing. This is not multiple choice; it canít do any of those things. Itís time for a clean re-install.

August 05, 2003
With A Fat Paycheck Comes Fat Responsibility

What I do for a living is private computer consulting. This is a highfalutin way of saying "freelance tech support." I help small businesses with their computer problems. I'm a generalist: I tackle just about anything, although I shy away from cable pulls and down-and-dirty hardware repairs that require soldering guns or ohm meters. I specialize in end-user support. I target small businesses, usually with fewer than 25 people. I have more than twenty-four clients. I work from 50 to 70 hours a week. I handle all my own client acquisitions, marketing, billing and the support work itself.

Misconceptions in XP

Achilles is a well-known software architect; the Tortoise is a famous XPer. Today they're talking about design in XP.

August 04, 2003
HTML::Tree(Builder) in 6 minutes

There are numerous posts regarding parsing HTML and many seem to skip over HTML::Tree(Builder), due in part to its name I believe. This is a lightening fast intro to HTML::Tree and what it can (and can't) do for you.

Video Playback and Encoding with MPlayer and MEncode

You have Linux on desktop, you have broadband. You have cutting edge p2p file sharing programs, but cannot get all the fun. Why? Because you lack a very important component, a decent movie player.

August 02, 2003
Windows vs. Linux: TCO Feud Rages On

"If you've got somebody who's smart and can config it, then [Linux is] a beautiful desktop and runs well," says Meta Group analyst Thomas Murphy. "But for the average business owner, [it] does not have that kind of simple nature that you have in Windows."

Is he saying that Windows is for stupid people, and Linux is for smart people?

Got Linux?

August 01, 2003
Just A Summary: The Fine Art of Complexity Management

Hereís one last idea to take from this approach. Next time your boss comes to you and asks ďCanít you justÖ?Ē Stop. Think about what he just asked. Your boss is managing complexity and he doesnít even know it, and heís just described the interface he wants. Before you dismiss him as asking for the impossible, at least consider whether or not you could arrange things so that it looks like youíre doing the really simple thing heís asking for, rather than making it obvious to all your users that youíre doing the really complex thing that you have to do to achieve what he asked for. You know thatís what youíre doing, but you donít have to share your pain with people who donít know or care about the underlying complexity.

Microsoft.com suffers outage

Microsoft's corporate Web site became unavailable Friday afternoon amid heightened fears that a major Internet attack could be on the horizon.

Stay tuned!

I bet MS did this themselves, not some hacker. And, tho they'll fib about the reason... I bet they finally realized:

The best way to secure Windows is to turn it off.

Interview with Pamela Jones of Groklaw

I started out on computers with Windows, first 95 and then a 98SE box, and at the time, I was the only person in the small law firm where I then worked who was willing to learn enough about computers to set the office up and keep the boxes more or less running. We had no sys admin, no tech dept. Just me. So I had to learn, hands on, in real time. They were always getting viruses and other malware, and eventually I learned why and how and what to do (not that they cooperated much), and one day I realized, "I really love this stuff." When I discovered dual booting or a Knoppix CD meant you could see what went wrong on the Windows side, it changed my life. Eventually, I couldn't enjoy Windows any more, partly because I saw finally there really was no way to secure a Windows 98 box no matter what you do, and partly because upgrading beyond Windows 2000 meant licenses to choke on, a lot because of privacy concerns, and also because I started resenting typing in numbers to prove I had paid for the software and feeling like I was being treated like I was criminally-inclined. The difference in how I felt using the two OSs was striking.

OpenOffice.org: Where is MS Access?

There are quite a number of people and businesses who are taking up OpenOffice.org as a possible replacement for more popular office suites as Microsoft Office. Of these, many are familiar with the comparable modules for each function of the office suite. OpenOffice.org has Writer as an equivalent to MS Word, Calc as the MS Excel kind, and Impress is comparable to MS Powerpoint. The question a lot of people are asking is -

Services from a SecurityPoint of View

Which services are safe to allow through your firewall, which are not safe, and which ones do you do need to keep an eye on? When a new service becomes popular, or when you want to give your network clients a new Internet-based tool, what do you look for when you evaluate the service?