Archive for May, 2005

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Mediaplex

May 31, 2005

The school year is almost over, and
I've been getting all kinds of requests to play movies.  We have
a simple procedure really.  All you have to do is fill out a
little form that shows how your movie relates to a lesson that you
are actually teaching.  Then, get it signed by an
administrator.I guess that's too hard for some teachers, and
I've been getting all kinds of excuses.

But this is an educational movie.

It's not going to hurt anybody if we
just watch it in our class.

I've even got some asking, When are you showing the next movie? as if this were the Cinemaplex.  Dude, teach your class.

These people obviously have me all
wrong. I'm just trying to obey the law and keep my job. In some
cases, I even agree with them, and I'm not a big fan of some of the
ways in which the Copyright Law (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/) has been used. Nevertheless, if you
have a problem with the law, take it up with the MPAA (http://www.mpaa.org) and
Congress (http://www.house.gov/)…not me.

I kind of feel like that US Marshall in
the movie, The Fugitive. The man who is being chased yells
out, I didn't kill my wife, and the US Marshall replies, I
don't care.

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Winding down

May 24, 2005

The library is officially closed for the year.  It's going to be
quite a short break, though.  The kids come back on July 25. 
That might sound like a long time, but it's really not.  Plus,
I'll be here all summer.  I'm really debating whether I need to
break out dust covers and things like that.  I'm contemplating
upgrading the research computers to SuSE (http://www.suse.com) 9.3.  I've been using it
on my laptop and my home desktop.  It seems stable and all. 
(Just don't use the default gtk-qt engine).

That reminds me.  Firefox (http://www.spreadfirefox.com) kept crashing on me whenever I would
change the desktop background or occasionally when I would switch
virtual desktops.  So, after all kinds of pointless straces and
stuff like that, I found out that it's the gtk-qt engine. 
Apparently, freedesktop.org people need to update their version to fix
this bug (and maybe they have in cvs, so don't get mad at me).

Anyway, the good news (if you want to call it that) about working this
summer is the extra money…literally two paychecks.  We need a
second car, so this money can go to that.

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Is it just me?

May 17, 2005

Student: I turned in that book.
Me: Are you sure?
Student: I'm positive.
Me: Well, I'll look for it and see if it's here.
(long pause)
Me: Uhhh
Student: I'll wait.
Me: I can't do it now.
Student: I want to know if it's here.  I'll look for it.
(looking — I get up to look with him).
Me: Nope, it's not here.
Student: What about the other book?  I returned that too.
Me: You did?
Student: Did so-and-so bring that book back?
Me: Why would HE have your book?
Student: I let him take it, and he said that he would check it in and then check it out to himself.
Me: Well, you're responsible for your books.
(he starts walking towards the door)
Student: I know where they are.  I'll bring em both back today.
Me: (blank stare)

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Firefox losing its shine?

May 13, 2005

The Register is running an article today entitled Firefox loses its shine (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/05/13/firefox_loses_shine/),
stating that Firefox (http://www.spreadfirefox.com)'s recent security vulnerabilities prove that it is
not more secure than Internet Explorer.  Unfortunately, I think
they've missed a few key points:

1. Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org/) patches their security holes a lot faster than Microsoft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft).

2. We have still not seen any reported attacks on anyone's computer as a result of Firefox (http://www.spreadfirefox.com) vulnerabilities.

3. They are using quantitative analysis to contrast the two browsers,
but the number of vulnerabilities is not the issue.  It's whether
or not they get fixed.

4. In reference to point 3, the two biggest problems with Internet
Explorer that weren't fixed were a) Microsoft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft)'s Java Virtual
Machine.  A security joke that they never fixed until it died cold
and alone b) ActiveX, which Microsoft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft) still uses.  The whole point
of ActiveX is to allow programs to run and install themselves on
computers.  That is where all the spyware and adware comes from on
Internet Explorer.  What they aren't telling you is that, when
they talk about security holes, most of them are never exploited on
either browser.  The problem with Internet Explorer is not
technically a security hole at all.  It's a feature. !

5. The number one reason not to use Internet Explorer is the number one
reason that it has been so successful: it is integrated into the
operating system.  It's closed source, but heck, for all we know,
it's integrated into the Windows kernel (http://www.kernel.org/).  If you are foolish
enough to use Windows, at least don't use a browser that promotes its
insecurity as a feature and integrates the browser so tightly that a
web site can install a program and run it on your computer whenever it
wants, with administrative privileges.

So, let's not be confused.  The difference between the security
holes with Firefox (http://www.spreadfirefox.com) and Internet Explorer is that the former actively
and quickly patches their holes while the latter embraces their holes
and expects every web developer to embrace them as well.

Instead of doing the right thing we're being told that Microsoft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft)
intends to integrate Internet Explorer even further into its new OS,
Longhorn, despite the legal, ethical, and technical brouhaha that it is
certain to cause.

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Painful Dream

May 13, 2005

Last night I was forced into sleep by an extremely painful headache. Perhaps it was the weather change. We went from needed air conditioning to needing heat all in the same evening.

I had a very intriguing dream. Although I usually don’t tell my dreams, I have this feeling that this one is meant to be told.

Somehow I found myself in Palestine, the occupied territories. I had befriended an Arab family and was staying with them during my visit. Somehow, they apparently had connections in this Israeli town, and the managed to get me in for their “parliment” of sorts. It was somewhat of a townhall meeting, but apparently it was their local government. It was quite a shabby building with white dirty walls and lots of older men sitting around discussing mundane issues.

At lunch time, one of the Israelis and my Arab friend (I promise this is not a joke) wanted to go outside for lunch, or so I thought. They walked toward a hill, and I was trailing some distance behind. They disappeared behind the hill, and when I walked all the way around it, I did not see them. I expected them to walked to the top of it and setup a place to eat.

Then, I noticed a door in the side of the hill. Sure enough, they had gone inside. This was someone’s house. The Israeli man lived there with his wife and several children. It wasn’t much, but they were happy. The Arab man had also brought his wife and children to visit.

It was very uneasy at first with not a lot of talking. Finally, the silence was broken by one of the Jewish boys talking about prayer. His mother had asked him if he had performed his prayers. It sounded very similar to a Muslim mother asking her child the same thing, so the Arab boy interjected and asked how they prayed. The Jewish boy recited one of their prayers, which I cannot repeat. Somehow they spoke Hebrew in my dream, even though I do not speak Hebrew.

The Muslim boy then recited al-Fatiha, but he was the youngest, and I had to help him through some parts. The Israelis were very enthusiastic about hearing it, as if they had rarely heard, which I found strange. They wanted to learn it right then. As we were all engaged in this activity, we heard a car pull up. In no uncertain terms, the driver announced that somehow this house was in violation of something rather, and they began to open fire with machine guns.

We all hit the floor as quickly as possible as the gun men riddled the house with a barrage of bullets. I managed to crawl over to the opposite side of the wall inside the kitchen where no bullets were entering. After the shooting stopped, I seriously expected to come back around to the other side and find everyone dead. As I came back around, I found my Arab friend standing up. He had blood on him but did not appear to have been actually hit by a bullet directly.

Everyone else was lying there completely still. Then, slowly one by one, children started getting up checking themselves for bullet holes. Finally, the Jewish mother got up and looked at her husband as though he might be dead, but then he rose with a smile on his face. We then began festivities as if nothing had happened. No one even talked about the shooting.

We cooked all kinds of dishes and deserts, with children laughing and playing well into the night. Soon, we had forgotten our differences, and we all felt like one family.

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A Few Complaints about Firefox

May 12, 2005

Once again, the vulnerability that was discover only a couple of days ago.

The only complaint that I have is that the self update system that is
listed in preferences does not detect new updates and does not update
Firefox (http://www.spreadfirefox.com) to the latest version.  I have been told, but cannot
confirm, that the updater works on Windows, but it clearly does not
work on Linux (http://www.linux.org) or Mac OSX.

To me this sounds like a case of Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org/) Foundation biting the hand
that feeds it by offering a slightly inferior product to the free
software community that supported it when everyone else had turned its
back and jump on the Internet Explorer bandwagon.

Granted, if your Linux (http://www.linux.org) distro offers Firefox (http://www.spreadfirefox.com) and regular security
updates for it, then you probably weren't using the updater
anyway.  But I still wonder why they have the feature listed if
they do not intend to use it.  If someone from Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org/) wants to
offer an explanation, feel free to comment.

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Listening Skills

May 12, 2005

I am amazed at how unwilling people are to listen.  In a
professional environment, it is crucial that people pay attention,
especiallly when someone outside of their field is speaking.  So
many problems could be solved if people would just take the time to
listen.

I am not the type to speak over people or cut people off when they
talk.  Everyone should spend time increasing their abilities to
have patience and to listen.  By the way, waiting to talk is not
the same as listening.