rfunk: (smash the screen)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 06:26pm on 23/07/2008 under ,
Two weeks ago, it was revealed that there's a nasty flaw inherent in the design of the DNS protocol that underlies almost everything we do on the internet. The implication is that when you're doing your thing on the net, any given bad guy could make your computer go where he wants, instead of where you want, without you knowing about it.

The problem is so bad that the DNS and security experts who were made aware of this all agreed to keep the details quiet for 30 days, in hopes of giving network admins everywhere the chance to mitigate the problem before the bad guys figured out how to exploit it. Meanwhile, one of the recommended workarounds was to use OpenDNS servers if your ISP's servers are vulnerable.

Unfortunately, OpenDNS intercepts failed queries and tries to either correct them or direct them to a search. This breaks some things that rely on knowing whether a lookup actually fails.

Even more unfortunately, OpenDNS intercepts all lookups to www.google.com, and relays them through its own servers. (Apparently this is an attempt to work around some Google-Dell deal that wouldn't otherwise affect people not using Windows on recent Dell desktop computers. Everybody's trying to cash in on invalid web requests.)

So in order to avoid some random bad guys secretly changing where I go when I type something like, say, www.google.com, into my browser, I must use a service that definitely changes where I go when I type www.google.com into my browser. This does not make me feel warm and fuzzy.

Oh yeah, and two days ago the secret leaked early, and everyone now knows how to break unpatched DNS servers. (At least one major ISP I use still hasn't fixed their servers, and apparently many other big ones haven't either.) So, uh, when you go to your bank's website, be sure to click on that little lock icon and make sure the right name shows up before you login to your account.
Mood:: 'frustrated' frustrated
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 06:02pm on 06/08/2007 under ,
For anyone who wonders how RSS/Atom feeds can be used/viewed, or wants more ways of doing so, check out this post on "10 Ways to Look at Feeds".

I suppose LiveJournal's friends list (with feed syndication) could be seen as an implementation of #7, "River of news".

See also Wikipedia's Feed Aggregator entry.
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 03:49pm on 06/08/2007 under ,
When my mom recently emailed me about some football player involved in dogfighting, and I had no idea what she was talking about because I get no sports news, I was inspired to make a complete list of where I get my non-technical news:

(See also "My Internet", now slightly outdated.)

By the way, the most recent "On The Media" had an interesting story postulating self-perpetuating socioeconomic class differences between MySpace users and Facebook users, due to their origins in the L.A. indie rock scene and the Harvard University scene, respectively. Considering I'm an indie rock fan who hates MySpace but got an account there solely in hopes of more easily tracking indie bands there (didn't work out, see "hates MySpace"), but who's spent almost no time on Facebook, this was kind of interesting to me, and I look forward to reading the source article. Too bad the author didn't cover LiveJournal users.

Update Aug 8: Yeah, OK, I did hear about Barry Bonds breaking the home run record. So much for zero sports news. At least it's a sport I used to follow.
rfunk: (Default)
Lately I've been noticing a lot of cases where the successor to a given instance of web technology (specifically within the so-called "LAMP" stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python) isn't necessarily the next version of that instance, but rather something different. "Say what?" Let me explain with the specifics:

Web Server: Apache 1.3 -> LightTPD )
Programming Language: PHP4/Perl5 -> Ruby (On Rails) )
Database Server: MySQL4 -> PostgreSQL ? )
Operating System: Linux 2.4 -> FreeBSD ? Not much. )
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
Linux news site LXer has dug up a 1989 article predicting technology in 2001. It's interesting to see where they got things right and where they got things wrong; they seem to overestimate the importance of fax and ISDN, but the ISDN predictions aren't too far from what happened with the Internet.

Turns out that article is on a site (www.AtariMagazines.com) archiving "classic" computer magazines (for Ataris and other 80s computers) such as Antic, Compute!, and Creative Computing, though they don't have my favorite, A.N.A.L.O.G. They're also connected to www.AtariArchives.org, a site archiving the full text of some old Atari books and other resources, many of which I have in my basement along with my 256K Atari 1200XL.

In more current news, the BBC has an article and half-hour RealVideo programme about Google's history and the changes and challenges facing it today.
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 12:23pm on 09/12/2005 under , , ,
Just a quick note to point at that Neil Gaiman is right: Pandora is addictive and really cool. It's like getting a personalized streaming radio station, wherever you are on the net.

It uses Flash to give you a streaming music player that plays (a) music you tell it you like (by artist or song title) and (b) music it thinks you'll like based on what you've told it you like. As far as I can tell, it uses musicological attributes rather than Amazon-style "others who like that also like this...", though there may be some of the latter going on as well. I think it may also try to play similar songs from different bands together.

Unfortunately, quite a few of my favorite bands are indie bands that aren't in their database, but I've also been surprised at some of the more obscure stuff that is in there, including Manda & the Marbles, Scrawl, and The Eyeliners. It's also interesting that it figured out that I'd like Dire Straits before I told it so.

It would be nice if I could specify albums rather than songs or artists. In some cases I like certain albums but dislike others. Though I can pick representative songs (or all of them) from the favored albums.

If you don't like something, you can skip it. If you skip a band twice it won't play that band again.

Apparently I'll soon start hearing ads in the stream, which will gradually increase in frequency until I decide to pay for a subscription. Sounds fair to me.

It's amusing that a favorite author is not only leading me to new written work, but also new music and new ways of getting my music.


Update: According to Pandora, I seem to be rather consistent about liking music with vocal harmonies and mild rhythmic syncopation -- as well as, quite often, major key tonality and mixed acoustic/electic instrumentation. Just about every time I ask it why it chose a song, it tells me those (with varying levels of vocal harmonies), along with some other attributes. And the more I listen and look at those attributes, the more I think it's trying to keep similar songs together.
Mood:: 'bouncy' bouncy
Music:: The Fight - "Don't Tell Me"
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 05:56pm on 03/06/2005 under , , , ,
One of the things I miss about Columbus is CD101. (The closest we have here is WAPS.) At least CD101 provides an internet feed (though it's Windows Media rather than MP3, Xine can play it on Linux), so I often listen at the end of the workday.

And this weekend is an "undercover weekend" -- all covers all weekend. My kind of covers, too, like Too Much Joy and Paul Westerberg. This even beats half an hour of covers every few days on the Coverville podcast.

BTW, I think I've finally recovered from last weekend, just in time for another -- hopefully a less crazy one.
Mood:: 'bouncy' bouncy
Music:: Too Much Joy - "Seasons In The Sun"
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 05:28pm on 23/05/2005 under ,
More proof that Google is cool (and, since he pointed it out, that Neil Gaiman/[livejournal.com profile] officialgaiman is cool)....

Google SMS - You can now ask Google questions (Where can I get a pizza nearby? How do I get there? When is Revenge of the Sith playing nearby?) by sending a text message from a cell phone to 46645 (GOOGL).

At one time I used the tiny web browser on my phone to get information while out and about, but I gave up because it was too cumbersome, used too many minutes, and there weren't enough sites compatible with my 2002 phone's mini-browser. I like the idea of using text-messages to replace some of that functionality.
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 05:50pm on 05/05/2005 under , , , ,
I know, most of what I post here seems to be about cool music I've discovered, or am about to go see, or that others should go see. And these days most of it came to me via podcasts. So here's some more....

A band called Mutiny was recently played on The $250 Million Radio Show podcast. They call their music "folk punk for punk folk," while I'd call it "Celtish fiddle-punk." Really cool.

Also, I keep meaning to mention a couple podcasts that reach back to the past...

Old Wave Radio plays "new 80s music" - music that sounds like 80s music, but is current and generally from unsigned bands. It's become a favorite of mine. Of course Manda and the Marbles were on an early show.
The Dorktones.com Podcast, hosted by a Dutch retro-60s band, plays a mix of obscure 60s music and modern music that sounds like 60s music, and it's pretty much impossible to tell the difference.
Mood:: 'bouncy' bouncy
Music:: Mutiny - "Never Get Caught"
rfunk: (Default)
Every six months for more than five years now, I've been buying the new release of OpenBSD. Yet I haven't actually installed one of those new releases in almost four years, and haven't actually used OpenBSD in over two years.

So why do I keep buying it? Mostly to support three major aspects. (Non-geeks may want to skip to the last one.)

1. Security - OpenBSD's approach to security is one that deserves attention and support. And since their security solutions often find their way out to the world beyond OpenBSD (OpenSSH being the most prominent example), supporting OpenBSD supports security on Linux and other systems.

2. Free Software Activism - With the popularization of binary-only Linux drivers and software, and the concurrent marginalization of the GNU Project, OpenBSD has become the foremost twister-of-arms in the struggle to get not only useful software under completely-free licenses but also the information necessary to run that software on today's hardware. This work on the part of the OpenBSD people benefits Linux people too. (See also #3 below.)

3. Music - How many operating systems include an original song with each release? Thanks to Ty Semaka, OpenBSD has been doing it for eight releases now, and each one has a different style - techno, industrial, lounge (Bond theme-ish), anthemic hard rock, folk balladry with two types of hip-hop mixed in, Pythonic, Johnny Cash-ish, and now Floydian. They started out as theme songs of a sort, but starting with OpenBSD 3.3's "Puff The Barbarian" they became allegorical commentaries on the political issues the project had been facing, usually related to their efforts related to #2 above. The latest song, for the upcoming OpenBSD 3.7 release, is "Wizard of OS", a Pink Floyd style commentary on closed-specification hardware with a chorus of "Ding dong the lawyer's dead / You're off to see the Wizard kid". (The comments alongside those lyrics help explain my #2 above too.) Presumably the Dark Side of the Moon sound is a nod to the idea of that album being used as a soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz.

But my favorite OpenBSD song remains the second one, OpenBSD 3.1's "Systemagic", with its vampire-slayer motif, goth-industrial sound, and verses like:
Cybersluts vit undead guts
Transyl-viral coffin muck
Penguin lurking under bed
Puffy hoompa on your head

Oh yeah, and if I ever need to set up a secure web server quickly, I always have the install CDs on hand, though for long-term maintainability I still prefer Debian.
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
Music:: Ty Semaka - "Systemagic"


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