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Sat 25th Aug 2007 @ 01:06 2007: How to crash a Linux box

ls `yes` seems to bring a Linux box grinding to a halt.

Okay, I bounced it after killing the "ls" and the "yes" processes, to no avail. I guess that ls still had hundreds of children spawning.
Ubuntu Feisty, since you ask:
Linux elvis 2.6.20-16-generic #2 SMP Thu Jun 7 20:19:32 UTC 2007 i686 GNU/Linux

$ man yes
yes - output a string repeatedly until killed


So, "ls `yes`" is equivalent to "ls yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes......" ad infinitum.

If ls itself were to check for duplicate files in its input, I suppose it could get around it, but as-is (and I admit I haven't checked the source code), I would assume that it goes through something like this (in arbitrary pseudocode):

file="yes"
parse "file" // no leading slash; relative path, not absolute
pwd=(get current directory)
file="pwd/file"
stat(file)
okay, "pwd/file" doesn't exist.
Next one to process?
file="yes"
parse "file" // no leading slash; relative path, not absolute
... and so on

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Fri 24th Aug 2007 @ 10:54 2007: SUNW becomes JAVA

java logoThe register report that Sun Microsystems are to change their ticker from SUNW to JAVA.

Why oh why oh why etc etc etc....

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Thu 23rd Aug 2007 @ 00:14 2007: Helm Crag, Grasmere

I just caught the end of a programme on BBC4 about Helm Crag, in the English Lake District. It looks beautiful.

As this blog is little more than my own personal scratchpad, this seems to be the best place to store such a reminder!

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Wed 22nd Aug 2007 @ 01:22 2007: Vista security: Certified for Vista

SpyBot, who say that they are "the home of Spybot-S&D, the best (according to PC World, PCMag.com, ...) privacy software available!", say that
http://www.spybot.info/en/news/2007-06-11.html

Microsoft requires software that applies for this logo program to immediately crash when confronted with a situation described by Microsoft in detail. The background of this still is useful in a standard situation - software that has bugs should actually crash instead of just trying to hide them, so that Windows Error Reporting can log the problem and forward it to the developer. This way Microsoft can assure that applications that are part of the "Certified for Vista" program are of high quality.

However, in the context of a security application, this is hazardous: if malware writers can use a perfectly documented way to crash a security application, the overall security is greatly harmed. To avoid this, we suggested some alternatives to Microsoft that would not compromise the goal of submitting bug reports on errors that are the fault of the developer of the software. In the end though, some people at Microsoft seem to be too certain that Vista is absolutely safe, upon which we do not intend to comment, since key Microsofts employees have already done so, for example Jim Allchin or Mark Russinovich.

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Tue 21st Aug 2007 @ 00:02 2007: Why DOS uses "\" instead of "/"

I didn't know this: Why DOS uses \ instead of /

Whilst *nix uses "myprog -x /path" to give switch "x" to tell "myprog" to run on file "/path", DOS uses "myprog /x \path"

It seems that DOSv1 had already used "/switch" for switches, so "/path" couldn't be used as a path; "\path" was the closest they could come up with. So they used "-switch" for switches

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Mon 20th Aug 2007 @ 01:22 2007: Linus on Solaris

A few years ago, the F/OSS community view was very anti-Sun, and anti-Solaris, even when Sun open-sourced (much of) the Solaris tree. I have always been an unashamed Sun/Solaris advocate.

The "Linux rules; Linux will kill UNIX" guys seem to be faced with two things now; one, that IBM are selling Solaris on their own boxes, and now, that Linux says that Solaris licensing "could result in some interesting technology".

I'm not biased - honest - but UNIX is a world-class OS for many applications. Not because it's designed to do fn(x), fn(y) and fn(z), but simply because its design is clean and simple.

If the recent Sun/IBM deal (and the fact that HP already resell Solaris) mean that the *nix offering is reduced to Solaris/Linux/*BSD/HPUX, that won't change the world dramatically; if AIX were to disappear, which the announcement above could imply, that would (IMHO) not be good for *nix.

I can see that some people have a need to sell newspapers. I can even see the correlation with the "need" to sell visits to websites, and - in both cases - the associated advertising "eyeballs".

I just don't see that there is any "battle" between GNU/Linux and Solaris.

Both are great OSes, in their field. *BSD also fill a niche. I could even be persuaded that certain Windows boxes (appropriately configured and patched) may be the best fit for certain applications.

The concept that "I use foobix, and foobix works for me" does not equate to an argument that foobix would work for everyone. Whilst partly philosophical, this is not a religious discussion. What's right for me may not be right for you. That doesn't mean that anybody is "right" or "wrong".

The *nix approach is probably superior to the DOS/Win approach, and - of both "battles", I can see further segregation (specialisation), and that cannot be a bad thing. So long as there are sufficient resources to pursue different leads, let's try to find out what is possible. That way, we can find the best alternatives for all users.

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Sun 19th Aug 2007 @ 00:09 2007: CSS Layouts: The Fixed. The Fluid. The Elastic.

CSS Layouts: The Fixed. The Fluid. The Elastic discusses different ways of setting column widths.

A year or two ago, 3 (or even 4) columns were the rage, as used by this site (though the blog part dispenses with the adverts, for a 2-col version); 2 columns seem to be becoming more trendy, and even single-column, with wide left and right margins.

The above (tl;dr) looks like a decent review of the pros and cons of various approaches. And the website itself looks purty.

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Sat 18th Aug 2007 @ 22:54 2007: No more than 2 school children at a time

Bless 'em.

Some webmaster(s) have set up a site called whyfirefoxisblocked.com, the basic tenet being that Firefox users, with the AdBlockPlus plugin, can see the content without viewing the adverts. This is, apparently, akin to theft, so they feel the need to block all Firefox users.

This reminds me of the local shops' policy of "no more than two schoolchildren in the shop at any time", because the shop owner has suffered losses when they've not been able to keep on top of a horde of schoolkids in the shop. It's tarring all with the one brush, based upon school, age, or User-Agent string.

Except that if you have 100 Firefox users, and one of them sees your adverts, whilst the other 99 block them, haven't you still shown your adverts to one visitor? What exactly have the other 99 taken? It would have to be a very strange, ultra-high-bandwidth website which would lose money in that scenario.



Firefox accepted here :-)

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Fri 17th Aug 2007 @ 23:42 2007: Revs

As a child, my favourite 2 games for the BBC, were Elite and Revs.

Elite is hard to play without a joystick, and I'm too much of an old fart to still have a joystick.

Revs is a different matter, and - via beebem, I can now play that, too. I loved it. Revs (I had the "extra tracks" option pack, but could never get it to work) is the reason that I have the Silverstone circuit burned into my brain. Or so I thought. It seems nothing like the Silverstone circuit I know from other games (even though my Revs learning helped on games like TOCA2 and Formula1), nor what I now know of the circuit, and the variations it allows.

So maybe the game was crap, but how come the layout that Revs taught me, helped me to understand the more accurate layouts in future games?

I'm totally thrown :-(

I'm also far too old to ever become a racing driver, so I guess that it's just a death by a thousand stabs!

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Thu 16th Aug 2007 @ 22:56 2007: Solaris on IBM? On Power??!

According to The Register, IBM will offer Solaris x86 as a supported OS, providing updates, the works.

Schwartz is quoted as saying "The relationship with IBM is really the strongest we have with any partner in the marketplace"

The prospect of getting Solaris onto IBM z-Series and P-Series is also mentioned.

Vance concludes her piece with the question "what happens if HP and Dell fall in line too? Does it make sense for IBM and HP to spend millions on their own versions of Unix in that scenario or does it make more sense to see Sun like a Microsoft or Red Hat as a true market-wide OS supplier?"

That would make the so-called "*nix" world very interesting, if there was only one actual UNIX™ under active development!

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Thu 16th Aug 2007 @ 21:14 2007: TCP Wrappers Bug

Ubuntu bug 108379 points out that netbase's dependency on tcpd was accidentally deleted for Feisty. So you get no /etc/hosts.deny or /etc/hosts.allow files. In turn, that means, amongst other things, that DenyHosts doesn't work.

I had kept meaning to check why I hadn't been getting any reports from DenyHosts, and kept putting it off. Now I know :-(

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Thu 16th Aug 2007 @ 00:02 2007: Linux: Mainstream?

I'm not sure that a Mainstream Linux would be a Good Thing.

Mainstream Windows is a Bad Thing, but I'm not sure that I can define Good.

A change in Operating Systems would be one thing; a change in mainstream attitudes to information, would be another.

Is Mainstream ready for Linux?

Linux: Mainstream - a Good Thing?


An article like The 10 Commandments for New Linux Users, is a good suggestion as to how a previous user of Windows might best go about joining the GNU/Linux, and broader Free/Open Source software community, and how they may benefit from such a change.

That's great, and the ten points, for a keen but unsure newcomer to GNU/Linux distributions, are excellent, IMHO.

Many articles have been written over the years, though they started in fury around 2001, about whether or not, Linux is ready for the mainstream. Wikipedia reckons that this claim has been made since approx 2001: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_linux#Year_of_Desktop_Linux.

My question is this: is Mainstream ready for Linux?


A GNU/Linux distro isn't just another operating system; if the world is ready for (say) Ubuntu, then wouldn't the World be using Ubuntu? The OLPC project may yet make Linux the most widely-used OS worldwide, but - even if it does - this discussion of "mainstream" is generally focussed on the West, anyway, so even if the OLPC project changes the world, this argument will continue to rage.

So what's your point, Parker?


My point is this: it's not about making a Linux distro which works and looks identically to Windows, it's not about making a perfectly secure distro, it's not about gaining 50%, 60%, even 100% market share.

The goal, and the only thing that is needed, is to make the Mainstream ready for Linux. By that, I mean that people need to want to share code, to want to have things which will work openly, not just things which work for now, for me. A group of people who expect their computers to work for them, and to be open to examination when that does not happen. People who expect to be able to take a piece of software and make it work for them (or - better still, find a group who have already done the work!). Those who want to see why their software does a thing a certain way, and either gain enlightenment from that learning, or fix the behaviour if it is wrong. Those who want to join a community of people, working together, to make technology work for them, and not the other way around. People who expect openness and transparency. Who assume that they will not only be able to get code written by others, but will be able to see the tests made on that code, be able to write their own tests, be able to add tests to the core team's code, and even make changes to the code itself, to make it pass those new tests.

Or simply to be able to hire someone to make it all happen. Far from all users care about what code gets run, or how it works. They all care about the results. If your spreadsheet tells you that 1+2=5, you'd better care.

If you want your spreadsheet to work on dates, it seems reasonable to assume that it can cope with dates prior to 1900. Wrong. Excel 2000 incorrectly assumes that the year 1900 is a leap year.

Can you fix it? Well, no, not you, not I, but Microsoft could. Except, so many people have spotted, and written workarounds, for the bug, that the bug itself has become "true". To fix the bug would now be to create a new bug, in all spreadsheets which work around the original bug. So - because MS Excel users couldn't fix the bug themselves, they were forced to create a situation whereby MicroSoft could not fix the original bug without creating their closest followers' spreadsheets, another bug.

When we, as customers, consumers, users, call us what you will, all get used to the idea that when something goes wrong, we can fix it, we shall see a revolution. It may even change the idea of Capitalism itself, unless capitalism is strong enough to encompass this radical change.

Conclusion


In conclusion to what I confess is a rant, and I may later try to write up more coherently at some later date, the use of closed software works against the individual user, and against the society which uses that software. This is not a purely geek debate; the geeks are (as usual) actually just a very small part of this conversation. The big issue is how closed source software affects individuals and society as a whole.

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Tue 14th Aug 2007 @ 00:57 2007: Parasuite

I'm sure that something could be done, such that the final parachute trip isn't necessary; small birds can land on trees with no problem.

Still, this looks like an incredibly cool way to fall :)

Embedding doesn't seem to work, so here's the link: http://www.lolcrazy.com/file/51-parasuite.html

Adverts on that site are NSFW :-(

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Mon 13th Aug 2007 @ 00:46 2007: Stutter Rap

Something random today reminded me of this classic rap spoof from the 1980s... Morris Minor and the Majors, doing the Stutter Rap.

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Sun 12th Aug 2007 @ 23:49 2007: Vista : signed drivers

It seems that signing drivers isn't necessarily the silver bullet against malicious code, especially if the code isn't perfect, and the hardware its drivers support, run on half the laptops in the world.

The point of signed drivers, is that you can revoke the signature if a problem (intentional or not) is discovered.

However, Microsoft can't really revoke the signature, as every second Vista laptop would stop working.

"What ATI is probably going to have to do is get a new certificate, sign fixed versions of all their affected drivers, and release them via Windows Update. Only then can Microsoft get VeriSign to revoke the signing certificate."
-- Ollie Whitehouse, Symantec security researcher

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Sat 11th Aug 2007 @ 23:52 2007: RIP SCO

RIP SCOGroklaw announce that The court concludes that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights.

That's Aaaaall, Folks! The court also ruled that "SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims against IBM and Sequent". That's the ball game. There are a couple of loose ends, but the big picture is, SCO lost. Oh, and it owes Novell a lot of money from the Microsoft and Sun licenses.


If you prefer legalese...

For the reasons stated above, the court concludes that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare copyrights. Therefore, SCO's First Claim for Relief for slander of title and Third Claim for specific performance are dismissed, as are the copyright ownership portions of SCO's Fifth Claim for Relief for unfair competition and Second Claim for Relief for breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The court denies SCO's cross-motion for summary judgment on its own slander of title, breach of contract, and unfair competition claims, and on Novell's slander of title claim. Accordingly, Novell's slander of title claim is still at issue.

The court also concludes that, to the extent that SCO has a copyright to enforce, SCO can simultaneously pursue both a copyright infringement claim and a breach of contract claim based on the non-compete restrictions in the license back of the Licensed Technology under APA and the TLA. The court further concludes that there has not been a change of control that released the non-compete restrictions of the license, and the non-compete restrictions of the license are not void under California law. Accordingly, Novell's motion for summary judgment on SCO's non-compete claim in its Second Claim for breach of contract and Fifth Claim for unfair competition is granted to the extent that SCO's claims require ownership of the UNIX and UnixWare copyrights, and denied in all other regards.

Furthermore, the court concludes, as a matter of law, that the only reasonable interpretation of the term "SVRX License" in the APA is all licenses related to the SVRX products listed in Item VI of Schedule 1.1(a) to the APA. Therefore, Novell is entitled to a declaration of rights under its Fourth Claim for Relief that it was and is entitled, at its sole discretion, to direct SCO to waive its claims against IBM and Sequent, and SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims against IBM and Sequent. Accordingly, Novell's motion for partial summary judgment on its Fourth Claim for Relief for declaratory judgment is granted, and SCO's cross-motion for summary judgment on Novell's Fourth Claim for Relief is denied.

Finally, the court concludes, as a matter of law, that the only reasonable interpretation of all SVRX Licenses includes no temporal restriction of SVRX Licenses existing at the time of the APA. The court further concludes that because a portion of SCO's 2003 Sun and Microsoft Agreements indisputably licenses SVRX products listed under Item VI of Schedule 1.1(a) to the APA, even if only incidental to a license for UnixWare, SCO is obligated under the APA to account for and pass through to Novell the appropriate portion relating to the license of SVRX products. Because SCO failed to do so, it breached its fiduciary duty to Novell under the APA and is liable for conversion.

The court, however, is precluded from granting a constructive trust with respect to the payments SCO received under the 2003 Sun and Microsoft Agreements because there is a question of fact as to the appropriate amount of SVRX Royalties SCO owes to Novell based on the portion of SVRX products contained in each agreement. Furthermore, because Novell has obtained the information that it would otherwise obtain through an accounting during the course of this litigation, the court denies Novell's Ninth Claim for Relief for an accounting. However, the court also notes that SCO has a continuing contractual obligation to comply with the accounting and reporting requirements set forth in the APA.

Accordingly, Novell's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment or Preliminary Injunction [Docket No. 147] is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; SCO's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment on Novell's Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Counterclaims [Docket No. 180] is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; Novell's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on its Fourth Claim [Docket No. 171] is GRANTED; SCO's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Novell's Fourth Claim [Docket No. 224] is DENIED; SCO's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on its First, Second, and Fifth Claims and Novell's First Claim [Docket No. 258] is DENIED; Novell's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Copyright Ownership of SCO's Second Claim for Breach of Contract and Fifth Claim for Unfair Competition [Docket No. 271] is GRANTED; Novell's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on SCO's Non-Compete Claims in its Second and Fifth Claims [Docket No. 273] is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; Novell's Motion for Summary Judgment on SCO's First Claim for Slander of Title and Third Claim for Specific Performance [Docket No. 275] is GRANTED; and Novell's Motion for Summary Judgment on SCO's First Claim for Slander of Title for Failure to Establish Special Damages [Docket No. 277] is MOOT.


Full text: text PDF

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Sat 11th Aug 2007 @ 00:40 2007: Bill Gates: Saviour of the World

According to http://www.winmatrix.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=12169, which stumbleUpon suggested I might like:

Windows 2.0 licensed ideas from Apple
Windows 3.1 never happened
Windows 3.11 (WfWG) never happened
There was such a thing as Windows 3.11 NT
Windows NT 3.5, NT 3.51, NT 4 never happened
Windows 2000 only contributed automatic updates over the internet.
WinXP was the first version of Windows to use the NT Kernel

I'm not a particular follower of Microsoft, though I did work with Windows 3.0, 3.1, 3.11 (and I know that they existed!)

I worked with Windows File/Printer sharing (though I never worked out what files and printers really had in common). I worked, briefly, with Windows NT 3.5 and 3.51, and (later) with 4.0

In a nutshell - I am not a Microsoft/Windows expert. My area is UNIX, though (because they are so close) I am also a Linux kind of guy, too. even I can see that this is so painfully flawed as to be (at best) misleading.

Why on earth would people publish such rubbish?

Does it deserve comments like "a journey with lots of innovations.... too good.. thanks for the quick history dude... ", or ""Microsoft is amazing. Seriously."?

Sometimes, I just want to check what planet I'm on...

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Fri 10th Aug 2007 @ 15:17 2007: DTrace vs SystemTrap: No biting, no scratching, no hair-tugging, please!

There seems to be a bit of bitching going on between Sun's DTrace team, and the Linux alternative, SystemTap.

Adam Leventhal (Sun) has a blog entry, DTrace Knockoffs, pointing out that Linux doesn't needs a "dtrace for linux or something similar" - clarified to "like systemtap, but not crap".

A few days later, he posted an article called What-If Machine: DTrace Port, suggesting a port of DTrace to Linux.

The next day, Jonathan Corbet (LWN editor) posts an article on LWN.net: "On DTrace envy", which starts a little discussion, and a flame war between Frank Eigler (systemtap developer, RedHat) and Bryan Cantrill (DTrace originator, Sun).
Jonathan denies any link between this story and the previous day's What-If blog post.

Bryan describes Frank as "someone who, to the best of my knowledge, has never used DTrace.", to which Frank retorts "The best of your knowledge needs to get better.", so Bryan concedes "Fair enough; allow me to rephrase: "someone who, if they have used DTrace at all, appears to have learned nothing from the experience." Better?".

Frank then claims that there's a blacklist of "dangerous functions" in DTrace, which Bryan refutes. Frank doesn't back up the claim.

It then diminishes into a battle of how many man-hours each project spent from initial concept to release.

Handbags at 20 paces, ladies.

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Fri 10th Aug 2007 @ 00:56 2007: Crazy Scary JavaScript

http://evil.hackademix.net/fullscreen/applet.html

Well, this is pure evil.

The wettest dream of any phisher or web advertiser.

A full screen window which can't be stopped by popup blockers and can not be closed by the user (without killing the browser).

It should work in any Java-enabled browser.

It's been tested on IE, Firefox, Opera and Safari.

To prevent malicious sites from doing this, you need disable Java globally or (smarter) use NoScript to selectively enable it on trusted sites only.


I am no good at JavaScript (though I know some people, who may read this blog, do know it, and may be able to explain the behaviour) but this is crazy scary. First time I've really felt out of control (bar Ctrl-Alt-Backspace) on a GNU/Linux/X11 setup ever!

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Thu 9th Aug 2007 @ 00:36 2007: Novell Sell Out

According to The Register, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian says that "Linux has not yet reached its potential, and is - in fact - at a tipping point", and - more significantly, that "Linux can only reach its potential by working with Microsoft and proprietary code"

What gives him the right to even define what the potential of GNU/Linux even is? Sure, he can make some short-term money by siding with Microsoft.

Maybe Linux's potential is to be 5% of desktop and 20% of embedded; maybe that is what Linux (and/or GNU/Linux) should be.

If merging proprietary code with GNU/Linux is Hovsepian's way forward, isn't it just possible that not eveybody shares that plan?

A few years ago, Sun Microsystems got a lot of flak for their pro/anti/pro/anti/pro/anti statements about F/OSS, while Novell got a bit of kudos for taking over SuSE (and all the MS-biased Mono stuff that goes with it).

Who wrote, on what wall, the goal that Linux must be the kernel of every machine on the planet?

GNU/Linux is good for me, for Desktop - for me, my family, and many others, though concievably not everybody, and for Servers - in many cases, though I admit that I do love Sun, and I can see the place for so-called proprietary hardware and software in hardcore enterprise scenarios (though Solaris itself is now Open Source, as is the Niagra chipset!)

This whole PC mentality, of software being proprietary, is a blip on the computing landscape. It is an abnormality, it is something which simply should not exist, but has come about by pure circumstance, and its results - Microsoft being one of the richest firms on the planet, and Bill Gates being one of the richest people on the planet - are simply an indication of this blip.

That is not how the IT/computing community operates; it is - as Sir Isaac Newton said - by standing on the shoulders of giants - that we can progress our understanding.

History shows that kow-towing to the rich and powerful has never done any good; the heroes, the free thinkers, the true innovators, are those who do not accept the status quo, and have new ideas. Not always (though sometimes - Galileo, Einstein spring to mind) rejecting the status quo; often "standing on the shoulders of giants", as with Newton. This is the scientific method. This is how humanity has developed over the past 200 years or more.

Taking the Cathedral view, that the closed-source Cathedral must be better than the Bazaar of the people, is a good decade of backstepping. Indeed, ESR's Cathedral/Bazaar view is so taken for granted now, it is almost difficult to see that it has been completely ignored in Hovsepian's comments.

I don't want world domination; nor, apparently does Torvalds, come to that. Indeed, there is a famous comment, that "The irony is that Bill Gates claims to be making a stable operating system and Linus Torvalds claims to be trying to take over the world"

Neither of these things are likely to happen. The former is desirable, the latter would give us nearly as many problems as the current situation provides.

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Wed 8th Aug 2007 @ 01:34 2007: ie6 again

Sorry if any RSS feeds got messed up there... the HTMLification didn't go quite as expected, and the broadband went down at just the wrong time.

http://immike.net/blog/2007/08/06/single-line-of-html-crashes-ie-6

has the story.

I have simply noted that adding TR and TD tags within the table, appear to avoid the bug.

It seems strange that such a bug remain undiscovered for so long.

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Tue 7th Aug 2007 @ 00:47 2007: Crikey!

I was confident that I wouldn't win (err, lose, no; win, oh, whatever) I was sure that joining the F1 Losers League would be an (enjoyable) waste of time. It's gone halfway through the season, and I seem to be somehow in the lead, with a decent gap. The majority of teams are yet to play their Accelerator card, which could make a big difference.

I was lucky (shame for Scott Speed, who was sacked) in guessing the Pitlane Punt; a 3% gamble meant that 22 points became 66 points. The standings are interesting, though; I've got a 129-point lead, but there's only 151 points separating 12th place from 2nd place (280 from 1st-12th).

It's a close-run thing; I don't think that I had really appreciated how closely the bottom-field fought things. The top runners are obvious; the midfield battle is a war unto itself, but of those teams who start the season without expecting to pick up a single point, it is truly fascinating. I want to hire their motivational and HR personnel. Their advertising staff ought to be paid better than if they worked for Google.

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Tue 7th Aug 2007 @ 00:20 2007: PayPal again

After the grief I get from PayPal because they can't identify their own customers (but will happily autenticate that the transaction is valid), I then StumbleUpon this lovely site:
http://www.freewebs.com/airescape/index.htm

If you contact him, he will do something (the claims are rather vague) which may help you work with Bifrost.

Presumably, I could get in touch with this chap, "buy" his services, and then rescind later. I'd prefer that PayPal were a credible company who did not deal with this type of transaction in the first place, so I have been in touch with them to point out the nature of the business.

As they've stiffed my transactions, they must close this guy down. But - even if they do - he can just get a new email address and start up again. The "email addy == identity" concept simply isn't good enough in 2007. PayPal won't talk to steve@${domain}, it has to be paypal@${domain}, no matter how often I point out the fact that I'm replying to their email to steve@${domain} and am therefore one and the same person (were email addys not so easily forged)

Pah

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Mon 6th Aug 2007 @ 12:25 2007: It's a good thing we can trust Microsoft

An article in Information Week, Microsoft Patents May Hint At The Future Of Windows, reveals a Microsoft Patent:

An advertising framework registers context data sources and advertising display clients from a variety of resources on a local computer. The ad framework may then receive context data and display triggers from the registered context data sources. The context data and display triggers may be processed and an advertising request generated and sent to an external advertising source. Non-advertising content may also be supported. When a targeted advertisement is received in response, a display manager may send the ad to an appropriate display client. When the ad has been presented a the advertising framework will communicate to the advertising supplier who may apportion and credit advertising revenue to the participating parties.


The stuff on the hard disk which it would search, would include "at least one of user document files, user email, user music files, podcast files, computer status messages, and a profile database storing existing tag data."

Nice.

ArsTechnica calls it the Mother of All Adware Systems.

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Mon 6th Aug 2007 @ 00:40 2007: YouTube

I was, recently, intrigued as to how the new-format "Top Gear" programme started, as I wasn't really aware of it, so I did that apparently bad thing, of downloading a torrent of the first series. Quality was varied; that is to say, excellent or terrible. Then I found that YouTube have the lot. Their current policy of max-10-minute-clips means that a 1h show is split into 6 segments, but that's no great shame, in the run of things. It means that I can link to the last 6th (8 minutes) of the item I'm talking about, like this: Top Gear, Series 1, Episode 4 (final 8 minutes)

They did exactly what I was just wondering about today, given the Super Aguri driver changes, based - not upon their driving abilities (as was demonstrated by the new kid spinning off), but on their ability to bring in sponsorship money. Rally, by contrast, or BTCC, need to have a similar car available in the forecourts, that we can go out and buy for ourselves.

It seems that in 2002, TopGear had the same view, and took a basic car from each manufacturer (bar Ferrari, who don't do "reasonably-priced cars"), and the results were:

Ford Mondeo1m 41
Mercedes C Class1m 43
BMW 3 Series1m 43
Honda Accord1m 44
Renault Laguna1m 45
Toyota Avensis1m 45
Jaguar X-Type 2.0 V61m 46

They didn't specify full spec details, so it's hard to say.

I finally find some justification for being satisfied with my boring old Mondeo; it does the job. If it beats a BMW 3-series, then that's good too.

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Fri 3rd Aug 2007 @ 22:31 2007: Doom (done in Flash!)

I don't know anything about Flash programming, but this is incredibly cool. There are no baddies, and you can walk through walls, but it's the original Doom game, from the WAD, done in Flash.

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Thu 2nd Aug 2007 @ 00:37 2007: Stylish

A FireFox plugin, named Stylish, allows you to customise the CSS of sites that you may visit. (The "!important" flag is pretty much essential).

I've always disliked the narrow theme that www.itv-f1.com have used; this fixes it! It took about a minute to fix the CSS, and much longer to post the screenshots.

This seems to be simpler than GreaseMonkey (which I admit, I have not played with), but rather a permanent application of WebDeveloper's "Edit CSS" feature.

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Wed 1st Aug 2007 @ 23:10 2007: Trulli

This interview explains why Jarno Trulli has only got 7 points so far in this Formula 1 season, whilst (for comparison), Lewis Hamilton leads with 70 points:

What’s your favourite song?
‘Everything’ by Michael Buble

What are you frightened of?
Flying

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Wed 1st Aug 2007 @ 16:13 2007: Terrorism "Not Scary Enough"

London bomb "Not Scary Enough" - one of those things where the joke is too close to the truth:

"We're trying to introduce ID cards, imprisonment without trial and swingeing restrictions on freedom of speech.

"We wouldn't be able to force through new parking regulations on the back of this pile of arse."

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