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Ubuntu Gets Container-Friendly "Snappy" Core

ewhac Re:I Don't Get It (149 comments)

He's implying that developers will specify a complete environment where every DLL available to the application within the environment is exactly what the developer used. There is no DLL hell because you run what the developer ran, and it doesn't matter if you have seventeen different incompatible versions of (to pick windows example everyone's familiar with) mfc42.dll, because things inside the container won't know that you have those dlls.

In that case, why bother with dynamic linking at all? Why not statically link everything? The effect is essentially the same -- you get exactly what the developer had. You also get no shared code pages -- even if you're using exactly the same library as someone else -- and bloated memory and disk usage since you have your own private copy of everything. Disk may be "cheap," but it's still surprisingly easy to fill up a 16GB eMMC device.

about two weeks ago

Ubuntu Gets Container-Friendly "Snappy" Core

ewhac I Don't Get It (149 comments)

Am I getting hopelessly old and unable to appreciate new things, or is this not anywhere near as whoop-de-doo as they're making out?

"You can update transactionally!!" Great. What does that mean? Is it like git add newapp; git commit -a? If so, how do I back out a program I installed three installations ago?

Transactional updates have lots of useful properties: if they are done well, you can know EXACTLY what's running on a particular system, [ ... ]

dpkg -l

You can roll updates back, [ ... ]

dpkg -i <previous_version>

...lets you choose exactly the capabilities you want for yourself, rather than having someone else force you to use a particular tool.

#include <cheap_shots/systemd.h>

Because there is a single repository of frameworks and packages, and each of them has a digital fingerprint that cannot be faked, two people on opposite ends of the world can compare their systems and know that they are running exactly the same versions of the system and apps.


Developers of snappy apps get much more freedom to bundle the exact versions of libraries that they want to use with their apps.

...Did this guy just say he brought DLL Hell to Linux? Help me to understand how he didn't just say that.

I bet the average system on the cloud ends up with about three packages installed, total! Try this sort of output:

$ snappy info
release: ubuntu-core/devel
frameworks: docker, panamax
apps: owncloud

That's much easier to manage and reason about at scale.

No, it isn't!! What the hell is OwnCloud pulling in? What's it using as an HTTP server? As an SSL/TLS stack? Is it the one with the Heartbleed bug, the POODLE bug, or some new bug kluged in by the app vendor to add some pet feature that was rejected from upstream because it was plainly stupid?

Honestly, I'm really not getting this. It just sounds like they created a pile of tools that lets "cloud" administrators be supremely lazy. What am I missing here?

about two weeks ago

DOOM 3DO Source Released On Github

ewhac Well, Now I Have to Read The Thing... (323 comments)

I worked for NTG/3DO for just under five years, so I know (knew) the machine inside and out. It will be interesting to go through this code and see what kind of tradeoffs were made.

Some comments on the README:

My friends at 3DO were begging for DOOM to be on their platform and with christmas 1995 coming soon (I took this job in August of 1995, with a mid October golden master date), I literally lived in my office, only taking breaks to take a nap and got this port completed.

*snerk* I could have told you at the time that a ten-week dev cycle was crazy talk.

Shortcuts made...

3DO's operating system was designed around running an app and purging, there was numerous bugs caused by memory leaks. So when I wanted to load the Logicware and id software logos on startup, the 3DO leaked the memory so to solve that, I created two apps, one to draw the 3do logo and the other to show the logicware logo. After they executed, they were purged from memory and the main game could run without loss of memory.

An interesting and valid approach (3DO's OS had full memory tracking). I'd be interested to know which of the 3DO libs was leaking memory on you.

The verticle walls were drawn with strips using the cell engine. However, the cell engine can't handle 3D perspective so the floors and ceilings were drawn with software rendering. I simply ran out of time to translate the code to use the cell engine because the implementation I had caused texture tearing.

Were the floor/ceiling textures not power-of-two dimensions on each side? As I recall, you only got texture cracking when the dimensions were not power-of-two.

You could have decomposed the floor/ceiling textures into strips as well, but ultimately the lack of perspective correction meant you were going to have to do some heavy lifting somewhere.

I had to write my own string.h ANSI C library because the one 3DO supplied with their compiler had bugs! string.h??? How can you screw that up!?!?! They did! I spent a day writing all of the functions I needed in ARM 6 assembly.

Ah, yes, the Norcroft compiler (or, as I always called it, Norcruft). It was a piece of shit. It was also the only thing available that would run on the Mac. It was never anything but a C compiler, but kept throwing unblockable warnings about constructs that C++ would have problems with (such as implicit cast from void*). There was no MacOS port of GCC, and there were no usable ARM backends for GCC available at the time, anyway. (Bear in mind, this was before the Web existed in any familiar form, and you had to go trawling through USENET for clues -- not even AltaVista existed yet).

I hope that everyone who looks at this code, learns something from it, and I'd be happy to answer questions about the hell I went through to make this game. I only wished I had more time to actually polish this back in 1995 so instead of being the worst port of DOOM, it would have been the best one.

I'm sure many memories will come flooding back.

about three weeks ago

ISPs Removing Their Customers' Email Encryption

ewhac Anti-Spam Measure? (245 comments)

Didn't this very topic come up a few days ago? I recall the general consensus being that it's an anti-spam measure, and (is supposed to) only happen when connecting on port 25 to a non-local machine (port 25 is supposed to be for server-server communication only). Normal clients are supposed to be able to avoid the issue by changing your MUA to submit mail on port 465 (smtps) or 587 (smtp). I suspect people running their own SMTP servers will probably need to negotiate with their ISPs, or relay their mail through their ISP's SMTP server as a smarthost.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

ewhac Thanks to Everyone! (928 comments)

Well... All told, I think that went rather well.

I wanted to chime in and thank everyone for participating in what was clearly an insane exercise in trying to cut through the acrimony and vitriol and get some actual information on what systemd is and what it's trying to do. You can't always grok what complex things are about just from the docs. That's why I wanted actual first-hand experiences from people who could point to actual gems they'd found.

To respond to some recurring remarks throughout the comments:

  • "Obviously a pro-systemd shill."
    No, I'm not shilling for RedHat or Poettering. In fact, I gave Poettering some stick for the whole corrupt-binary-logs-aren't-a-bug thing a couple weeks ago. I was being forthright in the opening paragraph: The simple fact that systemd has been widely adopted despite widespread protest made me genuinely wonder what I was missing that I hadn't figured out from the docs I'd read. So, no, there's no conspiracy here.
  • "Who are you to establish posting rules?"
    Well, gosh, sorry, but I was trying to save everyone time. Seriously, tell me you haven't gone, "Oh, ${DEITY}, another systemd thread; there goes my afternoon as I pick through the rat's nest of comments." So I hoped -- perhaps naively -- that requesting some organization would let us all get to the meat of issues of interest fairly quickly. And enough people did choose the follow the rules that the discussion overall turned out valuable (for me, anyway).
  • "Why do you dislike something you admit you know nothing about?"
    For largely the same reason I dislike Windows without having comprehensively pored over the "design" docs for COM, DCOM, MFC/ATL/WTL, WDM, NTFS, NTLM, Direct${THING}, Active${THING}, etc. etc. etc. Poorly-designed systems seem to have a certain "pattern" to them, and systemd at first glance seemed to match that pattern (the use of Windows-style INI files syntax didn't help, either). But the people adopting systemd are clearly not idiots, so I hoped people with actual experience with the thing could convey insights that (for me) the docs so far have not.
  • "You're thinking of the ads for Miller Lite, not Bud Light."
    *headdesk* I would like to apologize to a no doubt deeply irritated TV ad executive for completely misattributing their fifteen-odd years and millions of dollars worth of loud beer ads to the wrong company (I think this speaks well to my socially-isolated geek cred, though :-) ).

In the best tradition of USENET, I thought I'd summarize the highlights of what I got out of the whole thing. Most of the good posts have already been modded up, but the ones that especially stood out for me were these:

Thanks again to everyone who chimed in. You've given me a lot to read up on...

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

ewhac Re:It freakin' works fine (928 comments)

Think back to the epic holy wars of the past. Emacs vs. Vi. Big vs. Little Endian. Motorola vs. Intel. Amiga vs. Atari ST. ASCII vs. EDBIC.

vi*. Little-endian. Motorola. Amiga. ASCII**. Obviously.

(* with great respect to those who are able to use EMACS well.)

(** Seriously, who not using punched cards ever actually liked EBCDIC?)

about 2 months ago

FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

ewhac Re:Congratulations, FTDI, You Just Killed Yourselv (700 comments)

The chips are not destroyed.

Yes, the bricked chips can (allegedly) be restored to working order through the use of a utility. "Hang on. Would this utility be furnished by the very same company that wrecked my device in the first place?" Why yes; is that relevant? "Very fscking hilarious; I'll be looking elsewhere for my USB-serial adapter needs from now on..."

This is a distinction without a difference, as they say. You wouldn't cut any slack to a malware author who tried to claim, "Oh, the files aren't destroyed. They're merely encrypted, and can be restored to their previous condition through the use of this handy-dandy decryption key, available exclusively from me... for a modest fee..."

about 2 months ago

FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

ewhac Congratulations, FTDI, You Just Killed Yourselves (700 comments)

Assuming FTDI manages to weasel out of lawsuits for willful destruction of property (do NOT let them hide behind the so-called EULA), they have basically made themselves the vendor to avoid for either chips or drivers for said chips.

Can you tell, by merely looking at it, whether a given device is using GenuineFTDI(TM)(R)(C)(BFD) chips, or whether it's a counterfeit? Can you tell by using whatever the Windows equivalent of lsusb is? No? Then there is a random, non-trivial chance that plugging in your serial-ish device will either:

  • Work (old non-destructive drivers),
  • Not work (new, non-destructive drivers),
  • Ruin the device (new, destructive drivers), so that it not only Not Works, but also Stops Working on every other machine on which it previously worked.
  • Thus, in the mind of the user, FTDI == Flaky. And Flaky == Avoid.

    Congratulations, FTDI. Ten points for avoiding your feet, but minus several million for shooting yourself straight in the head.

about 2 months ago

Systemd Adding Its Own Console To Linux Systems

ewhac This Is Lennart's Defense? (774 comments)

Every time the systemd thing comes up, I want to hate it, but I don't truly know enough about it to actually hold a defensible opinion.

One of the defects constantly levelled against systemd is its propensity to corrupt its own system logs, and how the official response to this defect is to ignore it. The uselessd page has a link to the bug report in question, which was reported in May 2013 and, over a year later closed and marked NOTABUG. However, it seems Mr. Poettering is getting annoyed by people using his own bug reports against him, and added a comment to the bug report today purporting to clarify his position.

Unfortunately, his "clarifications" serve only to reinforce my suspicion that systemd is a thing to be avoided. To wit:

Since this bugyilla [sic] report is apparently sometimes linked these days as an example how we wouldn't fix a major bug in systemd:

Well, yeah, corrupt logs would be regarded by many as a major bug...

...Now, our strategy to rotate-on-corruption is the safest thing we can do, as we make sure that the internal corruption is frozen in time, and not attempted to be "fixed" by a tool, that might end up making things worse. After all, in the case the often-run writing code really fucks something up, then it is not necessarily a good idea to try to make it better by running a tool on it that tries to fix it up again, a tool that is necessarily a lot more complex, and also less tested.

Okay, so freeze the corrupted data set so things don't get worse, and start a new data set. A reasonable defensive practice. You still haven't addressed how the corruption happened, or how to fix it.

Now, of course, having corrupted files isn't great, and we should make sure the files even when corrupted stay as accessible as possible. Hence: the code that reads the journal files is actually written in a way that tries to make the best of corrupted files, and tries to read of them as much as possible, with the the subset of the file that is still valid. We do this implicitly on every access.

Okay, so journalctl tries to be robust, assumes the journal data might be crap, and works around it. So we can assume journalctl is probably pretty solid and won't make things worse.

Hence: journalctl implicitly does on read what a theoretical journal file fsck tool would do, but without actually making this persistent. This logic also has a major benefit: as our reader gets better and learns to deal with more types of corruptions you immediately benefit of it, even for old files!

....Uhhhhh-huh. So, yeah, newer tools will do a better job of working around the corruption, and we'll be able to recover more data, assuming we kept known-corrupt logs around. But what I still don't understand is WHY THE LOGS ARE CORRUPT. And why aren't there log diagnostic and analysis tools? If you already know your logs can turn to crap, surely there are structure analysis tools around that let you pick through the debris and recover data that your automated heuristics can't.

And why do I get the feeling that implied in the above is, "You don't need to know the log structure or how to repair it. We'll write the tools for that. We'll release better tools when we get around to it?"

File systems such as ext4 have an fsck tool since they don't have the luxury to just rotate the fs away and fix the structure on read: they have to use the same file system for all future writes, and they thus need to try hard to make the existing data workable again.

....AAAAnd you lost me. Seriously, this is your defense: "Filesystems are more important than system logs, so they have to try harder?" I find this insinuation... surprising. You do realize that btrfs didn't become worthy of general use overnight, right? (Some might argue it still hasn't.) It took years of development, and hundreds of people risking corrupt or destroyed filesystems before the kinks got worked out, and the risk of lost or corrupt files approached zero. More significantly, during this long development time, no one ever once suggested making btrfs the default filesystem for Linux. People knew btrfs could ruin their shit. No one ever suggested, "Oh, well, keep a copy of the corrupt block image and format a new one; we'll release better read tools Real Soon Now." No one suggested putting btrfs into everyday use until it proved its reliability.

Likewise, until it can demonstrate to the same level of reliability as common filesystems that it doesn't trash data, systemd is experimental -- an interesting experiment with interesting ideas and some promise, but still an experiment. I would appreciate it if you didn't experiment on my machines, thankyouverynice.

I hope this explains the rationale here a bit more.

No, sir. No it does not.

P.S: Is there any evidence to suggest that systemd log corruption issues have since been solved?

about 2 months ago

HP Is Planning To Split Into Two Separate Businesses, Sources Say

ewhac Re:HP (118 comments)

- the Windows 8 era machines include Windows 7 AND 8 installation disks - choose whatever you like.

If you custom-build a machine from their ZBook "Mobile Workstation" line, you can even configure a machine to not have Windows installed at all. Saves you about $100.00. Still rather pricey, though...

about 3 months ago

Will Windows 10 Finally Address OS Decay?

ewhac Re:ARE YOU LIKE STUPID???? (577 comments)

1) fix the PAGEFILE. Go inot the settings and change ti to fixed size - 2x-3x size of ram - both of minimum and maximum size. Do not let WInodws manage it! [ ... ]

Better still, move PAGEFILE.SYS off of C: entirely, preferably on to its own spindle if you can. That way the swapper isn't having a fight with every other application in the system for accessing system files; and PAGEFILE.SYS itself won't become fragmented.

Consider moving %TEMP% and %TMP% off of C: as well.

4) Dump the System Restore from time to time. This is just junk removal. [ ... ]

Sadly, this appears to be an all-or-nothing affair -- on XP, you can either delete all restore points or none of them. It would be nice to delete those that are, say, more than a year old.

about 3 months ago

The State of ZFS On Linux

ewhac Re:My missing feature (370 comments)

As far as I'm aware, you don't need 'dump' with ZFS. You create a snapshot, then 'zfs send' that snapshot off to your backup storage. Can be done on a live filesystem. Delete the local snapshot when you're done copying it off. ( http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E187... )

about 3 months ago

The State of ZFS On Linux

ewhac Re:no support for posix acls (370 comments)

I dunno about ZFS for Linux, but FreeNAS's ZFS has NFSv4 ACLs. Are these not sufficient?

about 3 months ago

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data

ewhac Correction (223 comments)

...federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the NSA's controversial PRISM program.

You misspelled "illegal." HTH. HAND.

about 3 months ago

The State of ZFS On Linux

ewhac Re:No defrag! (370 comments)

Yes. Alas, this is a consequence of ZFS's COW (copy on write) design.

In a filesystem like EXT3, if you open a file, seek to some offset, and write new data, EXT3 will write the new data to the existing disk block in place. ZFS, however, will allocate a new block for that offset (copy on write), write the modified data to it, and update the block chain. The result is that it's apparently very easy to badly fragment a ZFS file (do a Google search for "ZFS fragmentation" to see various stories and tests people have written).

You can apparently mitigate the problem by occasionally copying the entire affected file -- Oracle's own whitepaper on the subject apparently reads, "Periodically copying data files reorganizes the file location on disk and gives better full scan response time."

Bottom line: ZFS is not a panacea, nor is it simple. There are myriad options, and trade-offs to all of them.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?

ewhac My Experiences (163 comments)

First, a gratuitous plug for my Let's Play/Drown Out video series, currently focusing on 3DO console titles: http://www.youtube.com/playlis...

Why is that link relevant? Because they were all made using Kdenlive.

When I first started mucking around with digital video, I tried a bunch of free/libre packages, and formed the following opinions of each:

Windows Movie Maker
Yes, $(GOD) help me, I gave it a serious try. To my utter surprise, it mostly worked and did what I wanted without crashing. However, the UI was rather inflexible, and I needed more than the handful of features it offered, so I kept looking.

Every Google search for free video editing software always turns this up, so I tried it. Then, ten minutes later, I had to stop trying it because it kept crashing and/or hanging at the slightest provocation. It has an impressive-looking array of features, and the editing timeline looks quite powerful. Evidently, you can do some fairly impressive things with Cinelerra, provided you can identify and avoid all its weak spots.

The last time I tried this, it was unreliable, under-featured, and incredibly slow. Just loading a one hour-long video clip into the timeline took several minutes as it tried to generate thumbnails and an audio waveform for the clip.

Assuming I'm remembering this package correctly, all it does is assemble edits -- that is, you can tack together a bunch of clips one after the other to create a larger work. If you want to do any effects or titling, you're SOL. Perhaps the Kickstarter-funded upgrade will yield some improvements.

I had to learn something the hard way with this package: This is a professional package. By that, I don't mean it has a ton of features (although it certainly does). I mean it expects a certain level of media asset before it will operate on it in the manner you expect. Us mere proles are satisfied to use MP4 or MKV or ($(GOD) help us) AVI files. However, in the pro space, you have files that contain not just compressed audio and video, but also timecode. And not just timecode measured relative to when you last pressed the RECORD button, but also a master timecode from an achingly accurate central timecode generator fed to all your cameras and microphones. This not only means all your cameras and mics are in precise sync ('cause otherwise their internal clocks will drift relative to each other), but you can trivially sync all your master footage and then intercut shots without even thinking about it. Also, near as I can tell, there's no such thing as inter-frame compression in professional video. Each frame is atomic, which means you can cleanly cut anywhere, but it doesn't compress anywhere near as small as, say, H.264.

The result is that, if you don't have equipment that generates all this metadata for you, then you need to convert it from the puny consumer format you're likely using. This means having truly monstrous amounts of disk available just to store the working set, and tons of RAM to make it all work. And hopefully your conversion script(s) didn't cough up bogus timecode.

So, yes, Lightworks is very very nice, if you have the proper resources to feed it. I don't, so I've set it aside for that glorious day when I get some proper equipment :-).

Kdenlive is built on top of the MLT framework, and is about the best and most reliable thing I've found out there that doesn't cost actual money (either directly or indirectly). It has a non-linear timeline editor, it supports a wide variety of media formats, and it has a modest collection of audio and video effects (almost none of which you will use).

One of the more amazing things Kdenlive does is transparently convert sample and frame rates. Without thinking about it, my first video involved using a 44KHz WAV file, a 48KHz WAV file, and a 44KHz MP3 file, with the output audio to be 48KHz AAC. I feared I was going to have to convert all the sources to the same format, but Kdenlive quietly resampled them all when compiling the output video file, and everything came out undistorted and in sync.

Kdenlive does occasionally crash, which is annoying, but it has never destroyed my work. It has a fairly robust crash recovery mechanism, and you may lose your most recent one or two tweaks to the timelines, but you won't lose hours of work.

Kdenlive is not perfect, of course. It has limitations and annoyances that occasionally make me search for another video editor. But if, as I was, you're new to video editing, it will take you a while to find those limitations. Kdenlive has certainly served me very well in the meantime, and I think it's the most reliable, most capable, and most easily accessible Open Source video editor out there.

about 4 months ago

Malware Posing As Official Google Play Store Evades Most Security Checks

ewhac Re:Install vector? (100 comments)

...I'm going to trust a link to install software on Android from outside of the Play store?

I think not.

Clearly you've never heard of the F-Droid project. Go read up on it.

about 6 months ago

IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation

ewhac I Suppose Next We'll Be Seeing Benghazi Stories... (465 comments)

I don't know who the miserable asshat is who keeps front-paging this blithering right-wing horseshit, but they need to be fired yesterday.

This is a non-story. It has always been a non-story. It has already been investigated, and what turned up was a gigantic pile of nothing. But then, that's all Daryl Issa's "investigations" have ever turned up.

Yes, the IRS investigated a bunch of applications for tax-exempt status for a number of "Tea Party" groups. They also performed the same investigations on so-called liberal groups. They're supposed to do that; otherwise any moron could claim tax-exempt status. Were there problems with the investigations? Yes, because the tax law that requires them is so vague that it's basically left entirely to the discretion of the investigator.

Were any applications denied? No, not really. Did the IRS investigate more "Tea Party" groups than liberal groups? It would appear so. It would also appear that there were a hell of a lot more "Tea Party" applications flooding in during the timeframe in question (which makes sense, given that the "Tea Party" is not grassroots, but entirely the construction of FreedomWorks).

As for how "terribly convenient" it is for multiple IRS personnel under investigation to have lost the data in question, well... Considering that the IRS is underfunded (sounds weird, but it's true); and considering that they have tens of thousands of personal computers, none of them brand new, and all of them in various states of disrepair and subjected to various forms of abuse; and considering that every one of those tens of thousands of computers are running FUCKING WINDOWS , then you are provably a drooling idiot if you think the probability for unrecoverable data loss is anything less than 1.0.

The only story here is that IRS regs concerning tax-exempt political advocacy organizations are hopelessly vague. Moreover, it's not a story that belongs on a tech-oriented site. If I wanted to read about fabricated right-wing ghost stories, I'd visit RedState. Get this shit off Slashdot.

about 6 months ago

New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

ewhac Re:Can't Identify "New" Permissions (249 comments)

Inside Google Play, scroll to the bottom of the app's page. Under the heading, "Permissions," you will find a link named, "View details." Tap on that, and a more familiar list of permissions will appear, including flags on new permissions.

about 6 months ago



Say Something Nice About systemd

ewhac ewhac writes  |  about 2 months ago

ewhac (5844) writes "I'm probably going to deeply deeply regret this, but every time a story appears here mentioning systemd, a 700-comment thread of back-and-forth bickering breaks out which is about as informative as an old Bud Light commercial, and I don't really learn anything new about the subject. My gut reaction to systemd is (currently) a negative one, and it's very easy to find screeds decrying systemd on the net. However, said screeds haven't been enough to prevent its adoption by several distros, which leads me to suspect that maybe there's something worthwhile there that I haven't discovered yet. So I thought it might be instructive to turn the question around and ask the membership about what makes systemd good. However, before you stab at the "Post" button, there are some rules...

Bias Disclosure: I currently dislike systemd because — without diving very deeply into the documentation, mind — it looks and feels like a poorly-described, gigantic mess I know nothing about that seeks to replace other poorly-described, smaller messes which I know a little bit about. So you will be arguing in that environment.

Nice Things About systemd Rules:
  1. Post each new Nice Thing as a new post, not as a reply to another post. This will let visitors skim the base level of comments for things that interest them, rather than have to dive through a fractally expanding tree of comments looking for things to support/oppose. It will also make it easier to follow the next rule:
  2. Avoid duplication; read the entire base-level of comments before adding a new Nice Thing. Someone may already have mentioned your Nice Thing. Add your support/opposition to that Nice Thing there, rather than as a new post.
  3. Only one concrete Nice Thing about systemd per base-level post. Keep the post focused on a single Nice Thing systemd does. If you know of multiple distinct things, write multiple distinct posts.
  4. Describe the Nice Thing in some detail. Don't assume, for example, that merely saying "Supports Linux cgroups" will be immediately persuasive.
  5. Describe how the Nice Thing is better than existing, less controversial solutions. systemd is allegedly better at some things than sysvinit or upstart or inetd. Why? Why is the Nice Thing possible in systemd, and impossible (or extremely difficult) with anything else? (In some cases, the Nice Thing will be a completely new thing that's never existed before; describe why it's good thing.)

Bonus points are awarded for:

  • Personal Experience. "I actually did this," counts for way more than, "The docs claim you can do this."
  • Working Examples. Corollary to the above — if you did a Nice Thing with systemd, consider also posting the code/script/service file you wrote to accomplish it.
  • Links to Supporting Documentation. If you leveraged a Nice Thing, furnish a link to the docs you used that describe the Nice Thing and its usage.

We will assume out of the gate that systemd boots your system faster than ${SOMETHING_ELSE}, so no points for bringing that up."


MythBusters Mishap Sends Cannonball Through House

ewhac ewhac writes  |  about 3 years ago

ewhac writes "The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the MythBusters accidentally sent a cannon ball hurtling in to Dublin this afternoon, punching through a home, bouncing across a six-lane road, and ultimately coming to a rest inside a now-demolished Toyota minivan. Amazingly, there were no injuries. The ball was fired from a home-made cannon at the Alameda County Sheriff's Department bomb range, and was intended to strike a water target. Instead the ball missed the water, punched through a cinder-block wall, and skipped off the hill behind. Prior to today, the MythBusters had been shooting episodes at the bomb range for over seven years without major incident. It is not clear whether Savage/Hyneman or Belleci/Imahara/Byron were conducting the experiment."
Link to Original Source

xkcd Creator Randall Munroe Nominated for Hugo

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ewhac writes "Easter Sunday saw the release of the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards. Among the many distinguished names was Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, nominated for the 2011 award for Best Fan Artist. The 2011 Hugos will be presented at WorldCon 2011 in Reno in August this year. (Be sure to fill out and return your ballot!)"
Link to Original Source

Facebook App Exposes Abject Insecurity

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ewhac writes "Back in June, the American Civil Liberties Union published an article describing Facebook's complete lack of meaningful security on your and your friends' information. The article went virtually unnoticed. Now, a developer has written a Facebook "Quiz" based on the original article that graphically illustrates all the information a Facebook app can get its grubby little hands on by recursively sweeping through your friends list, pulling all their info and posts, and showing it to you. What's more, apps can get at your information even if you never run the app yourself. Facebook apps run with the access privileges of the user running it, so anything your friend can see, the app they're running can see, too. It is unclear whether the developer of the Facebook app did so "officially" for the ACLU."
Link to Original Source

Fry's Exec Arrested for Embezzling $65M

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ewhac writes "The vice president of mechandising and operations for Fry's Electronics, Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, was arrested last Friday on charges of embezzlement to the tune of at least $65 million. Sales representatives are normally independent contractors, to preserve impartiality during negotiations. According to IRS allegations, Siddiqui convinced Fry's management he should be sole sales representative. He then struck side deals with major vendors (not named in the complaint) starting in 2005 where, in exchange for placing large orders and keeping their products on the shelves, the vendors would pay enormous kickbacks to a shell corporation set up by Siddiqui, called PC International. Siddiqui used the money to lead an extravagant lifestyle, racking up nearly $18 million in casino gambling losses. He is currently held on $300,000 bond."
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Vandal Destroys Scenemusic.net

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ewhac writes "Scenemusic.net, a/k/a Nectarine.fr, a site continuously streaming demoscene-related music for over eight years, was destroyed today by an online vandal. Scenemusic.net's collection was one of the most comprehensive on the net, with tunes going back over 20 years to the Commodore-64 days. Still recovering from a similar attack barely a month ago, Scenemusic.net had been reassembled and was staggering back to its feet when today's attack maliciously and completely destroyed the database. Left without a usable backup, the site's administrator Christophe has sadly decided to throw in the towel, and has recommended to PayPal subscribers helping to defray bandwidth costs to cancel their subscriptions.

Editorial Remarks: We may idly speculate about Christophe's security and administrative acumen, but this remains a sad loss for the net, not merely for the destroyed resource, but for the ever-decreasing ability for hobbyists and enthusiasts to operate an Internet presence without being completely overrun by anonymous, and in many cases automated, sociopaths."

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Diagnosing WiFi Dropouts

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ewhac writes "A rather important user on my home wireless network — my sweetie — regularly experiences drop-outs on the network lasting from a few seconds to three minutes, which cause timeouts and are nearly fatal to her computer usage. Before I blame the problem on her machine, I would like to conclusively prove or disprove the culpability of the wireless network environment. What diagnostic tools are available? Are there ways of measuring the resilience of a WiFi interface to noise/interference? Assuming it's neighbors with competing WAPs, how can I measure the degree of interference they may be causing? How can I correlate RF noise with a network hang?

More detail: My sweetie extensively surfs the net from a Win-XP laptop (and before you accuse the machine of being infected with something, she's very dilligent at keeping it clean and up to date). She virtually lives off this machine, so I can't run dedicated diagnostic tools on it for more than a couple hours. I thought I'd solved the problem by upgrading the WAP from an old Linksys WAP54G to a Netgear WG302v2, but it only marginally reduced the problem. These drop-out issues are not observed on any of the hard-wired computers. The LAN switch is Linksys, and the NAT gateway to the Internet is a dedicated FreeBSD box, so I don't suspect any issues there. So I'd like to test the wireless network and find out what, if anything, is causing the hiccups. I'm aware of passive monitoring tools like kismet, but ultimately I need to diagnose the connection to her machine, ideally in a minimally invasive way."

Appeals Court Tosses "Wardrobe Malfunction"

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ewhac writes "One of the most famous live television gaffes in recent history was the 2004 SuperBowl halftime "wardrobe malfunction," which briefly exposed a mortified Janet Jackson's breast to an international audience. Bowing to coordinated pressure from socially conservative groups, the FCC fined CBS $550K for the mishap — the $27,500 maximum fine multiplied by CBS's 20 owned-and-operated stations. Today, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals threw the fine out, saying that the FCC had deviated from its 30-year history on previous such matters, and had, "acted arbitrarily and capriciously," when levying the fine."
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"Cheaper" 3G iPhone May End Up Costing You

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ewhac writes "What Apple giveth, AT&T stealeth right back. A Salon article reads the fine print and crunches the numbers, and finds that the $200 handset price drop is more than eaten up by AT&T's $10/month price hike for unlimited data access over the mandatory two-year contract period. There has been no announcement of new carriers, so AT&T presumably remains the exclusive service provider for iPhone. Also, this rebalancing of the carrier subsidy may give Apple a fiscal incentive to quash 'jailbreak' hacks more vigorously."
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Calif. Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ewhac writes "The California State Supreme Court today struck down the state's law banning same-sex marriages. In a 4-3 decision, the court said that "domestic partnerships" were not a complete substitute for marriage. This may pave the way for California to become the second state in the Union to officially sanction same-sex marriages."
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Wikileaks Back Online

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ewhac writes "After basically bringing down the wrath of every civil libertarian in the country, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White has conceded that he erred and exceeded Constitutional authority when ordering the Wikileaks domain to be erased, and has dissolved the injunction. He also rejected a motion to have the disputed documents purged from the Wikileaks site. White left open the possibility for Julius Baer & Co's suit to continue forward, but suggested that the bank may want to investigate other ways to redress its grievances."
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Tools for Understanding Code

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ewhac writes "Having just recently taken a new job, I find myself confronted with an enormous pile of existing, unfamiliar code written for a (somewhat) unfamiliar platform, and an implicit understanding that I'll grok it all Real Soon Now. Simply firing up an editor and reading through it has proven unequal to the task. What sorts of tools exist for effectively analyzing and understanding a large code base? (You should not assume the development or target platform is Windows.)

I'm familiar with cscope , but it doesn't really seem to analyze program structure, per se. It's just a very fancy 'grep' package with a rudimentary understanding of C syntax. As such, I've only put minimal effort in to it. A new-ish tool called ncc looks very interesting, as it appears to be based on an actual C/C++ parser, but the UI is klunky, and there doesn't appear to be any facility for integrating/communicating with an editor."

Researchers Crack *All* CA State Voting Machines

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ewhac writes "The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that computer security researchers throughout the University of California system managed to crack the security on every voting machine they tested that has been approved for use in the state. The researchers are unwilling to say how vulnerable the machines are, as the tests were conducted in an environment highly advantageous to the testers. They had complete access to the devices' source code and unlimited time to try and crack the machines. No malicious code was found in any of the machines, but Matt Bishop, who led the team from UC Davis, was surprised by the weakness of the security measures employed. The tests were ordered by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who has until Friday of next week to decide whether to decertify any of the machines for use in the upcoming Presidential primary election."

Blast at SpaceShipOne Facility Kills Two

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ewhac writes "An explosion at the Mojave Air and Space Port has killed two people and critically injured four others, according to the Associated Press. Details are sketchy at the moment. Nitrous oxide is reported to be involved, but it is not yet known if a motor test was involved. The Mojave Air and Space Port, located in the high desert near Edwards Air Force Base, is owned by Scaled Composites LLC, the builders of SpaceShipOne."

Jim Butterfield, 1936 - 2007

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ewhac writes "While nearly everyone was going crazy over the iPhone, the computing community lost a luminary on Friday. Jim Butterfield, an early columnist and author for hobbyist computing in the 1970's and 80's, passed away peacefully in his sleep at 1:30 AM on 29 June. He was 71. Jim had been battling cancer since at least December of last year, when he announced he was beginning chemotherapy. Jim was a frequent contributor to periodicals such as The Transactor, COMPUTE!, and TPUG; and was the author of several books on introductory programming. Jim's clear and incisive writing helped introduce a generation of newcomers to the joys and wonders of computers and computer programming. No small fraction of today's engineers owe their livlihoods to Jim's writing and enthusiasm, this chronicler included. He will be missed."

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ewhac writes "Karen Lodrick was entering her sixth month of hell dealing with the repercussions of having her identity stolen and used to loot her accounts. But while she was waiting for a beverage, there standing in line was the woman who appeared on Wells Fargo security video emptying her accounts. What followed was a 45 minute chase through San Francisco streets that ended with the thief being taken into custody by police."

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ewhac writes "It is common tradition in Western culture to not speak ill of the dead. Many will doubtless find themselves sorely tested to uphold this tradition when learning of the death of Jack Valenti, the former head of the RIAA. He was 85. Valenti, a decorated World War II veteran, abolished the restrictive Hays censorship code in favor of the motion picture ratings system which he was instrumental in designing. No stranger to controversy, he was also at loggerheads with the burgeoning high-tech community, having compared the video recorder to the Boston Strangler, and successfully lobbied Washington for the NET Act and the DMCA. Valenti died from complications of a stroke suffered in March. He had been hospitalized for several weeks at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center before passing away today."

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ewhac writes "The Associated Press is reporting that Google has struck a deal to acquire DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in cash. DoubleClick, one of the oldest advertising companies on the Web, has been long criticized for its questionable practices of using browser cookies to quietly track the browsing habits of users. It is unclear how this acquisition meshes with Google's mantra of, "Don't be evil.""

ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ewhac writes "Apparently a Jeff Bridges film is now a credible threat to the Republic. Reports are emerging from Hollywood that the Department of Homeland Security has classified the film TRON as "sensitive" and ordered Disney studios to surrender all its copies. Concern reportedly surrounds the live action scenes shot at the Shiva nuclear fusion research facility, which apparently after 25 years are now considered to reveal sensitive details about nuclear technology."



ewhac ewhac writes  |  more than 13 years ago

This is an anchor entry so that friends can link to me. Real thoughts and opinions are most likely to show up on my Web site (when I get off my lazy ass and rebuild it).


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