Hack the Planet Archives: November 1999

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

All that was done is undone. <sigh/>

Slashdot picked up on the gnap story, but now all the evidence of Napster's incompetence is gone.

Compaq also finally wised up and regained control of their Millicent site.

Monday, November 29, 1999

I figured Napster's biggest problem would probably be from the RIAA, but apparently it's from within: their security, well, isn't really there. Reading the IRC transcript, the Napster guys sound incredibly arrogant; they talk about being "the fastest growing Internet company" and then talk about how they're worried about being destroyed by the work of one teenager in one month. I hate to sound pedantic, but if you're going to play on the Internet, you have to play by the Net's rules. If the software isn't ready for people to be hacking at it, don't release it. Period. But don't try to put guilt trips on other people who aren't even on your payroll!

Millicent is owned. Whoops! I can't help but wonder if this was caused by the mention of micropayments on Slashdot yesterday.

I guess Weblogs have reached critical mass, because new rankings and statistics are popping up every day. One of the more interesting ones is Jim Aspnes's Web Log Scoop Index which "measures how often a web log beats other web logs to a link." HTP is pretty low on that one, probably because I usually link to fewer stories than many other logs. Either that or because I'm lazy. :-) I guess nobody links to me lately, because I don't even show up on the MetaLog Weblog Ratings.

"But as long as everyone has a nuke labled 'fork', their can be no winner." -- Adam L. Beberg, from a fascinating Technocrat thread. (I think he's using a different definition of "fork" than what most people are used to, but the general idea is interesting.)

Sunday, November 28, 1999

I'm back. Over the holiday I read William Gibson's latest, All Tomorrow's Parties, a continuation (I don't want to say "sequel") of Idoru. Unfortunately, all cyberpunk stuff has begun to sound the same to me; you have your techno-mysticism, you have your 5 storylines which all collide at some nodal point in history, and then it's over. Today I picked up Silicon Valley's idea of a Lewis and Clark story, The New New Thing, so I'll see how that goes.

I also saw Entrapment which was great except I was never sure who was working for whom...

Oh my, now people are talking about licensing Internet users. Ingoring the fact that it's unenforceable, I think such regulation is a bad idea. You need a license to drive a car, but if you don't know how to drive you can easily kill people. However, I think it may be worth taking a hard look at some of the "get on the Net in 5 minutes" hype that comes from AOL, Apple, and others. Is it really a good idea to just throw people into the Web without so much as giving them a tutorial for operating a browser, let alone a few lessons in nettiquette?

The result of this is that many Web designers must assume that users don't even know how to use a browser (and will never learn, because no one bothers to teach them). Example: This Ask Tog article about how Tog and his team struggled to remove the browser's unnecessary clutter so that users could focus on their Web site. While reading that article, I always cringe because understanding the browser and OS is the user's problem, not the content provider's. To avoid being flamed by people pointing out the obvious fact that browsers and OSes are unnecessarily complex because they are driven by forces that don't have users' best interests in mind, I will only say that people should refuse to subject themselves to such products and force the market to fix the problems. Update: Coincidentally, today's Alertbox links to a sidebar on the paradox of the active user.

XAppeal is back with more DP2 screen shots.

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

VA is sending out The Letter. I guess I got into the Linux community too late to make tens of thousands of dollars in a single day...

The new Third Eye Blind album sounds like it could be pretty good. I'm looking for audio/video clips if any readers out there can track them down.

While I was looking for 3EB stuff I ran across a cool live Sunny Day Real Estate video, but it requires you to download RealPrivacyInvasion. The Sebadoh video on the same page is pretty good, too.

OK folks, here's a good example of utter license cluelessness from Smart Reseller. Hint: Follow the royalties.

Monday, November 22, 1999

We got an extension on the filesystem, so I wrote my script interpreter tonight instead.<phew/>

Heads up: I'm going to be out of town Wednesday through Sunday.

Sunday, November 21, 1999

InfoWorld: Sun, ECMA fall out over Java standardization.
SRO: Java Standards Glitch May Open Door for Microsoft.

MacOS Rumors has DP2 screen shots. The .app thing is distressing and I don't like the new unified control panel, but everything else looks good. I'm especially glad to see a sensible filesystem organization.

I've been thinking for a year or two about an all-Java windowing system that would use a JDesktopPane to manage windows and Echidna to manage multiple apps. It turns out that Michael Emmel already wrote it and called it Shark. Now I just have to find time to install it and check it out.

I'll bet you thought Classpath was dead. It turns out that after months of near-invisibility, they put up another mailing list archive.

Friday, November 19, 1999

Pretty good day today; I went to half of Government class and Chemistry didn't have class. The Long Boom isn't just growing the economy; I picked up the new Wired which has balloned to >400 pages. The article on Oakley is great and of course you can see Jorn on page 104. As much as I hate Memory Stick, Sony has a cool Johnny-Mnemonic-esque ad for it in there (along with more photos of not-yet-released products, which seems to be de rigeur for Sony now.) Even as it grows larger, Wired may be losing its focus; instead of the usual face+headlines on the cover all we get is some woman's backside and the cryptic "Here we go..." I also picked up Performance and Cocktails from Stereophonics and listened to it while I was writing filesystem code in the lab for many hours. Focus-follows-mouse only bit me once today; not only should you not type C-x C-s into Frontier, but you shouldn't type it into a term running an rlogin session. (As you can see, I'm trying the stream-of-consiousness format today.)

Around the Net recently:

The long-awaited MacOS X/Darwin merge is happening according to Wilfredo Sanchez, which should allow us all to get an up-close-and-personal look at the fabled IOKit. But where are my illicit DP2 screenshots? I know there must be some out there...

The FreeBSD people are begging Sun to port Java to their favorite OS. Somehow I just don't get it. Sun's unfair Java licensing practices are bad enough already.

The SF Gate takes a satirical look at CSS: "After all, every time any new format is introduced in America, it's never long before some wise guy starts babbling about how 'Fair Use' duplication is allowed under copyright law, and then all hell breaks loose."

Although the cool ADV601 wavelet video codec chip has been out for a long time, I hadn't seen any cards based on it until now. According to BeNews they're doing BeOS drivers, too.

Thursday, November 18, 1999

A must-read for hardware lovers: EE Times: Sony tips high-end digicams, Web audio deals. "Idei said the deals show that Sony wants to promote open platforms and is ready to work with a variety of partners." Let's see: OpenMG: not open, WMA: not open, ATRAC3: not open, Memory Stick: not open.

SourceForge looks interesting; it provides Web, FTP, CVS, mailing lists and more for Open Source projects. Now that it's so easy to start a project, I wonder if the success rate will go down.

The distributed.net CSC contest has started. I gave up on d.net's RC5 contest since it will take forever to finish, but this one should be done in a few months. Check out the rate plot and UT stats (I just turned in a bunch of blocks which should move me to near 2000th place).

QNX has an update on the Phase5 partnership and their developer beta program. No news about Phoenix, unfortunately.

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

CNET cover Linus's keynote. "Linux is moving into a different era, a time when the future of the operating system software will be driven by user needs instead of programmers' curiosity, the movement's founder said today." Yeah, but what is Linus doing about it? Does anybody actually have a plan more specifc than pouring money into GNOME and KDE and watching what comes out? Or are plans too passe for new world order of Linux?

Bruce Schneier: "It might be a bitter pill for the entertainment industry to swallow, but software content protection does not work. It cannot work. ...Digital content protection just doesn't work; ask anyone who tried software copy protection. ...The fatal flaw is that the entertainment industry is lazy, and is attempting to find a technological solution to what is a legal problem." And it turns out that RMS was right: "Yes, you can go to jail for possessing a debugger."

According to ZDNet, DSL may get cheaper thanks to the FCC.

Monday, November 15, 1999

The Cluetrain isn't just a manifesto any more; now it's a book and a Weblog. I'm betting the T-shirts are coming next. :-)

The German government is donating over $100,000 to the GNU Privacy Guard project. I wonder what they're going to do with all that money.

3dfx announced their new stuff today. The VSA-100 chip may not be as powerful as a GeForce, but consider that you can put 32 of them on one graphics card...

Transmeta's secret is out of the bag: Crusoe.

No BitKeeper releases today.

Is your new favorite song really a cheesy 80's cover?

Sunday, November 14, 1999

I have made some changes to the template so that Hack the Planet now uses whatever font and size you have specified in your browser.

Saturday, November 13, 1999

I fixed a few HTP bugs, but I still don't think my scripts are ready for Y2K. I also added something that vaguely resembles an RSS channel, so y'all can do that "my" stuff. I'm sure it could use improvement; suggestions are welcome.

The one degree of separation links are gone, to be replaced by bigger and better things.

I found some clustering silliness over at MacOS Rumors today.

And speaking of rampant consumerism, Hack the Planet is 100% Epinions-free.

Robert Morgan's lameness continues to impress/depress me. Now he's claiming that "empowering just about anyone to have their very own [TV] channel" is a big deal. Yeah, I'm sure nobody thought of that before.

Friday, November 12, 1999

Today's Oracle/IBM announcement confirms my suspicion that there will be only three flavors of Unix for IA-64: Linux, Monterey, and Solaris.

I read an article today (and I'm sure there will be more) about how Streambox Ripper can break the encryption on RealMedia files. But RealMedia files aren't encrypted! What it can do is decompress RealMedia files and then optionally recompress them in a different format, which is no big deal. If you read the fine print, you'll even notice that it requires RealPlayer to be installed, which means it's probably just calling Real's codec DLLs. In the wake of the DVD crack, everybody will want a scoop on the next controversy, but this ain't it.

Thursday, November 11, 1999

Lawrence Lessig wrote a great essay about why the cable modem providers are trying to take away the end-to-end Internet. Jerome Salzer also looks at it from a more technical standpoint. Honestly I don't care about open access per se, but if the lack of open access leads to more and more layer 4 restrictions, then I guess we must have open access.

Jorn points to a great criticism of current Linux GUI efforts. Companies like Red Hat and Caldera seem to be investing a lot of money in GUIs, but none in usability. (Or maybe they're still naive enough to think that GUI == better usability.)

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

All these rumors are enough to make your head spin... It's pretty much official: Cyan is working on a "Metaversal" networked 3D game. Hopefully I'll graduate before it gets released, so I won't fail my classes when I spend 12 hours a day in D'ni.

The plans for the future BIND 9 release look interesting; in fact they look a lot like the features in today's version of Dents.

Yet another sign of the impending apocalypse: "Linux distributor Red Hat is about to buy Linux development tool provider Cygnus, if sources cited by Slashdot are to be believed." Come on folks, we're talking about Slashdot here.

More Windows source-code silliness seems to have infected the media today.<sigh/>

Tuesday, November 09, 1999

Tog takes a sarcastic look at the relationship between security and privacy: "This reveals the true benefit of security: With a secure system, you may rest assured that someone other than you, probably a well-established corporation, will be making a whole bunch of money off of your private information. No amateurs will be destroying your privacy for free."

Red Hat's new Wide Open News site opened. Nothing interesting there so far.

xml.apache.org also went live today, although I'm not sure what's new on the site. It looks like they've taken a bunch of existing software and renamed it. <shrug/>

Hmm, it's not a good idea to press C-x C-s in Frontier...

Monday, November 08, 1999

I finished two projects, but I still have no bookmarks or email at home. :-(

Finally: Be and Sun are bringing Java to BeOS. The Slashdotters seem to be jealous. :-)

I wonder if this is a coincidence: Jakob Nielsen debunks WAP and WML and Cafe con Leche has a great quote from Jelks Cabaniss: "5 years down the road when phones are using real web browsers that can hit pages written for *everybody*, where do you think WML is going to be left standing?" This agrees with my own thinking; if you can't view regular Web pages on a 1-inch screen, then the solution is to make the screen bigger, not make Web pages smaller. And while I'm WAP-bashing, I might as well include Rohit Khare's point-by-point destruction of the system.

I wonder if I'm the only one who noticed the "Monday, Monday" bug today... Something must have changed when I upgraded to Frontier 6.0 the other day.

They installed Enlightenment 0.16.1 at UT, so I've been playing around with it in the lab. While wandering around themes.org I discovered that misery.subnet.at has some really cool backgrounds.

Gregory Maxwell: "CSS was not meant to prevent piracy, it's meant to prevent fair-use, a concept that the mega-media hates and is working very hard to destroy, as least as far a single person is concerned."

Saturday, November 06, 1999

I'm starting to get things working again on my computer.

I'd love to meet someone who honestly thinks that forcing Microsoft to release their source code would break their monopoly. How many people would buy a computer with Red Hat Skylight 2000 instead of Microsoft™ Windows™ 2000? People don't buy source code, they buy what they see advertised on TV.

Thursday, November 04, 1999

My NT account got corrupted today, so it'll be a while before I can reconstruct it.

Wednesday, November 03, 1999

Wired News: Toward a Click-and-Pay Standard. "With or without a standard, micropayment revenues may allow Web sites to focus on content and services, rather than advertising income." Long live content!

I wonder if Frontier will ever not need to save a copy...

Tuesday, November 02, 1999

Dave Winer: Weblogs on the cusp of acceptance. I didn't know Weblogs needed any kind of acceptance, but that's OK. "We're going to soon offer free Manila sites to all Frontier users. ...I think UserLand.Com will morph into a site like eGroups, but with a focus on web-writing... Popular weblogs such as The Obscure Store, Tomalak, Hack The Planet, CamWorld, and Robot Wisdom, are growing. I think, if the editors of these sites want to, they can become part of well-financed organizations." So where do I sign up to be well-financed?

InfoWorld: Yummy new Sun workstation. In what looks like a major attitude change for Sun, they are promoting an early-access version of Solaris 8 right on their home page. Usually they have been pretty secretive about everything until the day it's announced. I hope Linux vendors are paying close attention, because Solaris 8 has a lot of features that are rarely found in Linux distributions.

Monday, November 01, 1999

"I think Java has a pretty good and easy-to-use thread model. The thought of using threads in C terrifies me, frankly." -- Jamie Zawinski

AltaVista's new company factsheet feature is interesting, especially when it give you maps pointing out Illuminati hideouts in Austin.

Still no BitKeeper, but at least Helen's back. The only thing worse that a BOFH is a woman BOFH, I guess.

I see that Inktomi has discovered that transcoding improves Web browsing. It's nice to see them catching up.

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