THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 388 November 14 - 20, 2005
Highlights this week:
For boiler plate, search engine, and notes on what in the world this place is, see below.
If you are not paying for this place, click here...
For information on COURSE materials, click here
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
November 14, 2005
As usual, there was a lot of good stuff over the weekend in both View and Mail. In View we had discussions of the Microsoft "leaked" documents, much on the Sony rootkit, the future of Microsoft, the return of Iron Feliks, and much else of interest.
Over in mail today we look into allegations that the 911 disaster was planned and the buildings brought down by pre-planted explosives. This theory has been around a while, but it's picking up steam from papers by a sober and reflective engineering professor at, of all places, Brigham Young University, hardly a hotbed of left wing conspiracy theories.
I probably should not write about this, because every time I think of the situation I get boiling mad, and start thinking of the old notion of "fair game" and people who have declared themselves outlaws.
It is a story that names names, of people who prey upon the helpless, using the law to turn prudent elderly people into prisoners and reduce them to helplessness. It is a story that makes you understand why people will sometimes turn to the godfather for justice. I could only wish that some of these people would make the mistake of preying on one of Uncle Enzo's godchildren. The law can do nothing about them. And see below
Google want to 'rent' books?
-- Roland Dobbins
It can be the end of publishing as we know it. We'll have more later.
|This week:||Tuesday, November
The LA Times has a series on conservators. In California almost anyone can become a conservator, and take over the affairs of almost anyone else, including people they don't know. There are supposed to be hearings, but judges can be conned into believing that the person being kidnapped is unable to appear, and is gag a so it wouldn't matter.
Today's Times tells of a woman, Baptist, probably sincere in believing she is doing the best she can for the people she "protects". Dozens of them mostly veterans and widows of veterans, some as young as 50, others quite elderly. This woman has not only plundered the property of these people, but seems to believe that she is doing, or wants to do, the right thing.
She is clearly incompetent. Clearly. Unable to pay bills on time or even to stay out of the attention of the courts and relatives of her victims. She is really really stupid.
Yet time after time judges have continued to assign her as conservator. She apparently projects sincerity and probably is sincere. She is clearly able to convince people that she knows what she is doing and that mistakes in the past were not really her fault. Yet even a cursory examination of the facts shows that she is so incompetent she may need a conservator for herself.
This is a strong indication that "people success" is not particularly related to "g" which IQ measures.
I do not know of any good test for "people success" predictors.
I do know that the result of paying attention to that without looking at IQ resulted in living hell for dozens of people this woman was assigned by courts and VA officials to "protect". I doubt she is evil; I suspect she really thinks she is doing as well as she can, and can't even comprehend what real competence is. And she can charm the system, which doesn't look into competence. Is there a lesson here?
Reports today in several places about continuing problems with the Sony rootkit. Using their web-based uninstaller appears to open some major security holes in your system. This is a developing story as I write this (800am PST), so further details will be forthcoming.
USA Today is reporting that Sony will be recalling any unsold CD's with that rootkit. The executable-based (downloadable) uninstaller may not have the security problems; this is not quite clear now.
Readers who want to check for the existence of the root kit can use Notepad or similar to create a text file with a filename that starts with "$SYS$". Save it in a known folder, then use Windows Explorer to list files in that folder. If you don't see the file, then you've got the root kit. If the file is there, then the root kit is probably not there (or has been modified).
If you have the rootkit installed, I'd recommend leaving it there for now, but ensure that your anti-virus is current, and be careful (as usual) about "helpful" programs attached to email messages. And I'd install the MS Anti-Spyware program (even in beta form), since there are reports that the next update of that will safely uninstall the rootkit. It appears that current anti-virus programs will detect viruses that try to use the rootkit's ability to hide $SYS$ files.
There's a developing backlash against all Sony products. It may be that this is Sony's "Tylenol" issue, and they don't appear to be handling it very well. (Sony executive: "Most of our customers don't even know what a rootkit is"...so it must be OK to install one, I guess.)
Link to research on the security vulnerability of the web-based uninstall: http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=927 . Washington Post "Security Fix" column: http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/securityfix .
Be careful out there.....
Regards, Rick Hellewell
And see the warning in mail!
The Sony Rootkit stuff is all over the web now. Except for warnings I will leave it to others for a while until there is something significant to say as opposed to reacting to the news.
And more on the Google Library
More grist for the mill on the Google Print/Copyright debate. I found the reply particularly on point.
Critics misunderstand library project - Yahoo! News
The above gives a statement by
Jim Gerber, Content Partnerships Director, Google Print Library Project, Mountain View, Calif.
Which shows either naiveté or ingenuousness or plain ignorance of technology. As SFWA has shown, if your system delivers a "snippet", software scripts to cause it to deliver the entire work can be written. This is all discussed in the column at www.byte.com and I recommend that to you.
New discussion of copyright issues in this modern world. See mail.
The Joys of Outsourcing
I have been ordering my office checks and a number of supplies like storage boxes and such from Intuit. In the past I always spoke with a pleasant young lady, obviously American, and the conversations were a pleasant experience. Today I ordered more checks and got a polite to the point of obsequious man obvious Indian. It was difficult to understand him, and it was clear he did not understand American English. He kept referring to "The Federal" as the reason why check formats were going to change, and did not seem to understand custom software and formatting issues.
Eventually we got my order placed after I was put on hold a couple of times. When that was done he asked if I wanted to order anything else. In the past I would usually say something like "What's your special today?" or some such; but speaking with this chap was sufficiently unpleasant that I sure didn't want to prolong it. I have trouble hearing people anyway, and Uriah Heep has never been very high in my list of people I want to spend time with. I told him no, was bid to have a nice day, and that was that.
And I'll probably look for some other source of checks that will work with my bill paying software, since it wasn't an experience I really want to repeat.
Way to go, Intuit. You may have saved me some money.
-- Roland Dobbins
JK Rowling's depiction of government
The paper cited by Roland Dobbins asks where JK Rowling formed her saturnine view of the government that she describes in the Harry Potter books. You need look no further than the UK Ministry of Education. Before becoming an author JK Rowling was a career teacher.
Does anyone know how to actually see anything on a "Fortune City Hosted Site"? A friend in Norway wanted me to see something but all I got after enabling popups was a number or instances of a blank window, songs I did not want to hear being played much too loudly, and a small picture of a penguin. It took a while to close the window because new instances popped up as fast as I could close the old. This is madness.
November 17, 2005
The discussion of copyright continues in Mail. This is an important discussion.
I have an O'Reilly book on hacking retro games which I'll mention some time, but it doesn't have what I want. I hoped to find a way to play Wing Commander and the wonderful Wing Commander Privateer. These are the original games, not the horrible sequels; in particular not the ghastly Privateer sequel.
I really enjoyed Privateer, and I wish they'd release the source code so that others could write scripts for different adventures in that game. It was about the last space simulator game I ever really enjoyed. Earth and Beyond tried to recreate some of it, and wasn't bad, but they made it far too hard to complete some of the missions you'd get. Privateer was about the right pace with about the right difficulty level. Or so I thought.
I have never understood why they did not just improve the old games, Privateer and Wing Commander, and release improved versions with more adventures; instead they decided to make them "cool" and just ruined them.
One wonders what they could do with some of the AI for both enemies and your fellow pilots now that we have modern systems.
I recall showing Niklaus Wirth and his wife the original Wing Commander running on Big Cheetah, and his excitement at how good it looked, and how much fun it was to play. I haven't had that kind of excitement from a computer game in a long time.
We are slowly working up a way that you can do RSS feeds from this site. What you will be "fed" is the "Highlights this Week" titles and links in both Mail and View. Shouldn't be long now. It seems to work.
November 18, 2005
I have errands all day, but I have made comments on the mail, all of which is important. Work continues on setting up RSS feeds.
November 19, 2005
See next Monday. I am taking the weekend off.
November 20, 2005
I took the day off. There will be lots of mail Monday, with commentary. Meanwhile go read www.byte.com . My column on copyright issues will be up Monday, November 21, and it's worth reading.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
For the BYTE story, click here.
Search: type in string and press return.
The freefind search remains:
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.