October 31, 2003
Panther glitch erases some hard drives

A problem is causing some of those who install the new version of Mac OS X to lose the data that's stored on their external hard drives.

Apple Computer said the glitch is limited to external hard drives that use a high-speed FireWire connection and a particular chipset Oxford Semiconductor manufactures. The company encouraged those who have a drive that uses the chip to disconnect their drives from Macs that are being upgraded to Mac OS X version 10.3, or Panther.

Anti-Copy Bill Slams Coders

According to the CBDTPA, any software with the ability to reproduce "copyrighted works" may not be sold in the United States after the Federal Communications Commission's regulations take effect. Even programmers who distribute their code for free would be prohibited from releasing newer versions -- unless the application included federally approved technology.

Setting the Record Straight

The Department of Justice has launched a website, http://www.lifeandliberty.gov, to defend the PATRIOT Act. As more and more people are raising concerns about the broad powers granted to the Justice Department - powers it does not need and is not using to fight terrorism - the Department is spending time and money on a public relations campaign, including a website and a tour of the country by the Attorney General to talk to law enforcement officers. But just as Attorney General Ashcroft has done in his speeches around the country, the website fails to engage on the substantive criticisms of the PATRIOT Act, instead touting provisions that no one objected to at the time the legislation was enacted and that no one has been objecting to since. Where the website does address controversial aspects of the law, it provides misleading, incomplete and, in some cases, incorrect information. Following is CDT's analysis of the claims made on that website.

An early eval of Apple's Mac OS X 10.3

A quick ssh from my Linux machine revealed that only the GUI had frozen; BSD/Darwin was chugging along fine underneath Panther's hood, and I was able to do a safe restart from the remote terminal. Lacking another machine and a network, I would have had to do a hard reset on the Mac. For $129, you would hope to get a well-debugged product.

October 30, 2003
Mac-Mgrs Home Page

Mac-Mgrs is a community of people who manage Macintoshes (generally in rather large numbers) who come together for peer support. We use a mailing list and these Web pages as sources of information for troubleshooting and resolving systems management problems in Macintosh and Cross-platform environments.

October 29, 2003
Create Web applets with Mozilla and XML

To go beyond simple HTML, historically the only options have been to use Java technology or plug-ins. Now, you have a new way -- write and display applications natively in XML. The Mozilla platform provides such a mechanism. In this article, Nigel McFarlane introduces XUL (the XML User-interface Language). XUL is set of GUI widgets with extensive cross-platform support that are designed for building GUI elements for applications that have traditional, non-HTML GUIs.

October 28, 2003
System recovery with Knoppix

This article shows how to access a non-booting Linux system with a Knoppix CD, get read-write permissions on configuration files, create and manage partitions and filesystems, and copy files to various storage media and over the network. You can use Knoppix for hardware and system configuration detection and for creating and managing partitions and filesystems. You can do it all from Knoppix's excellent graphical utilities, or from the command line.

October 27, 2003
Lessons From the Science of Nothing At All

So what do you think would happen if you tried to design and implement a text editor for the first time? You'd maybe talk to some folks and decide what it was going to do. Then you'd design and build the software - keeping in mind that the slightest, most picayune mistake and maybe nothing works at all. Designing and implementing it so it works maybe would take a couple of people 6 months. Once it sort of worked, you'd let people use it, and once they had seen what can be done, then they would start saying, "oh, now I get it, well, how about if you add this and that to it and change this so it works like that."

Then the developers would go back and make another few months of changes, and the process would repeat. Why? No one has ever seen a text editor before or maybe only the previous versions, and so they can't imagine how they would really use it and what the experience would be like until they had one. Then they would start to use their imaginations to guess what it could be like, but they are only guesses. The people who are burdened with coming up with the requirements for the first text editor cannot do it because first, they have never even heard about a text editor before, and second, they have no idea what is possible or impossible for software to do. Usually they require only modest and conservative things because they think what they can imagine is too hard or impossible, and once they see that something they thought would be impossible can be done, they start expanding their imaginations. So they iterate and try and try things.

October 23, 2003
The Best is the Enemy of the Good

The greater the push for the perfect plan or result, the more chance what we will instead find is delay. Beckwith says that a "paralysis" sets in from the "fear that executing the plan will show that the plan was not perfect." As he says, "too often, the path to perfection leads to procrastination."

October 22, 2003
The Immorality of Copyright Law

To recap:

OK: Publishing a government memo questioning the war on terror.
OK: Publishing all Enron sent and received.
NO: Publishing evidence that electronic voting machines are insecure.

October 20, 2003
SCSI vs. IDE: Which is really faster?

Even though the IDE drive was on a system with a CPU running at three times the speed of the SCSI drive's system, the SCSI machine took only 1/6 as much time. The SCSI system was a live server so the hard drives were being used by other applications. If there had been no other activity, it probably would have been a little bit faster. The three-year-old SCSI drive outperformed my year-old IDE system like a Porsche would outperform a Kia.

Basics of the Unix Philosophy

The Unix philosophy (like successful folk traditions in other engineering disciplines) is bottom-up, not top-down. It is pragmatic and grounded in experience. It is not to be found in official methods and standards, but rather in the implicit half-reflexive knowledge, the expertise that the Unix culture transmits. It encourages a sense of proportion and skepticism and shows both by having a sense of (often subversive) humor.

October 17, 2003
Unofficial APT repositories

apt-get.org is intended as a place for people to share useful APT (Advanced Package Tool) sources for the Debian operating system.