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Why use any specific OS?


I was reading this Slashdot post about "why use linux" and pointing out all the good things we have.

But really the question applies to pretty much any OS now. A huge percentage of users could be told "you're using X at work" (well, not X, like a variable, $X) and they'd adapt, begin to prefer whatever OS, and buy it for their home computers. [I'm sure Linux would accelerate /fast/ in the case that a couple of major companies start deploying to the desktop (this is gonna be the year...).]


I own 3 Macs, but I'm as or more at home in Linux on the desktop (I didn't "switch" from Windows, I switched from Linux, by accident, and I stand by those words today). I only really use Free Software, even on the Macs, save for a couple of things to be addressed below... When I set up a Mac, the stuff I always set up is:

OwnCloud sync client

And that's about it, and you can run 37% of that functionality on any platform, subbing Pidgin and excluding a decent shell on some platforms (Cygwin doesn't count), which is weighted at 62% of the total functionality of any computer I use.

I use iTunes, Mail.App, and Photos, (which is loathsome), as well as calendaring and contacts, so not all Free Software, but I guess I use "Apple Software and Free Software" when on the Mac, but that's mainly because of aesthetics, not any functional advantage they may or may not have over Free alternatives. Mail.app looks nice, iTunes looks nice, it's nearly impossible to run Amarok on OSX, at least the last time I tried, they integrate well with their OS, etc. However we must be able to run things like Adobe software, and OmniGraffle. I'd hate my job without OmniGraffle.


On Linux, I can do a handful of small things I can't do on OSX, and the same thing the other way 'round. But I set everything up exactly the same. I prefer the OSX Keychain Encrypted Notes function over my GPG encrypted files, but just because it's smoother. OSX has improved in handling multiple monitors over the past few years, and KDE, and X in general, has gotten much worse at it. I like to have multiple screens, with multiple virtual desktops, and when I change virtual desktops, I want only that physical screen space to change. So I have Enlightenment. Easy (enough) and gorgeous, and all kinds of customizable.

Other things are a massive pain, Juniper SSL VPN with a requirement for 32-bit Java and Firefox. Come on everyone... But it works, and I use it day to day. It just took a month to get the machine set up the way I like, and it takes some upkeep when some package gets updated that breaks that arrangement. But it's never been a showstopper, because I'm a professional.

However, even for any non-professional, there are major cases for Linux:

Linux runs my home theatre, which boots to Kodi so I can stream TV and movies from our collection of ripped DVDs, watch online streams from the major networks, PBS, Archive, etc*. Chrome so we can watch local news, use Amazon and Hulu and stuff, and browse seamlessly through emulators for any game I care to play through N64/PS1 era. All controlled by the TV Remote (within Kodi) or any Android tablet or no-provider obsolete shitphone (With KDE Connect, Yay for KDE Connect!). Haven't touched the wireless keyboard in at least a month.

This is all doable on a $35 Raspberry Pi 3 right now. I know that part because of the video game cabinet which is on the horizon and which does exactly all this stuff, including Wipeout XL PS1 Games. I'm sure we will be doing build blogs on that.


So what about Windows? Not for my specific use cases, but why should anyone care who isn't old and curmudgeonly? I carry grudges maintain baggage from 20 years ago.

I hear there's transparency now kind of, and virtual desktops are finally a thing baked into the OS, but every time I log into my Windows 10 VM at work, I am infuriated by it, so why should I bother? Windows can suck it. That's all I know. I'm happy enough to do server admin of Windows servers, I don't much care either way whether I'm adminning Windows or Linux at the end of the day.

Desktop OS? No dice. How times change.

* Side Note: Please do not buy one of those "pre-built pirate box" Pi's with Kodi and a bunch of janky, buggy, potentially insecure plugins pre-installed. Kodi has very strong feelings about that, and I agree with them on the point that regular people who think this is going to be better than an Amazon Fire stick with Free TV streaming are going to:

A) Be disappointed
B) Bring awful attention to a fantastic project by unfairly associating them with and implying their endorsement of piracy and copyright infringement.
C) Could be setting themselves up to get owned by pre-installed botnets or whatever other backdoor/sniffer/malware nightmare scenario, I can't even imagine buying one of these...

People are of course going to download and use those plugins, but should know what they're doing, not blame Kodi for any fallout, and most importantly should not give money to thieves and scam artists, because that's dumb.

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Name your vulns better


George Clinton - Yank My Doodle

Drupalgeddon is silly, but at least it gets the point across that something is wrong and you must go fix it right now. Heartbleed, Shellshock, POODLE... not so much. At least we all had a heads-up that "some horrible SSLv3 attack" was coming even if no one knew specifics.

We've had enough this year already. Who wants a do-over on 2014?

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GoFlex Headaches



A couple of weeks ago the drive in my GoFlex home finally died. It had had some filesystem corruption earlier this year, so I pretty much knew it was coming. I replaced the drive, and started making rash decisions. All the stupid factory junk software is disabled, but the big change was that I formatted New Drive with EXT3, since they were using NTFS (on Linux) for some unholy reason that I will probably never understand.

Well, now the drive seems not to sleep, and the drive LED blinks continuously. It doesn't vary at all, so I'm not convinced it's activity related, but there's also no LSOF on the machine, so I'm a tiny bit blind. I think a lot of the issue with Old Drive was that I was writing syslog to it from all my local hardware, which prevented it from ever spinning down. I'd like to prevent that with New Drive by sending all my shit to a Raspberry Pi instead (Raspberry Pi runs extremely well off the USB port from the GoFlex, and it also does a great job of running Privoxy).

I'm looking at ps and netstat -pnat output, and don't see anything which should necessarily be slamming the drive. Meanwhile, I need to go find an ARM lsof binary I can drop on this thing.

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T**e *h* S**n****s B***i**G, **k* ***m b****n*.


Xebox - Bunker Buster

This week David Lowery grumpled many of the Interbutts as he published a list of 50 "undesirable" (read: "un-licensed") music lyrics sites to target for legal action by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA). With some major exceptions (RapGenius!), many of these sites do, in fact, suck. They're undesirable from an Internet user standpoint as well what with pop-unders and malware.

The fact is, they are worried about lost revenue from the licensing fees these guys should be paying, and the fact that lyrics sites have tons of ads, and that it follows that their owners are sitting on massive piles of cash in the Caymans. So let's go sue 'em all and get that Scrooge McDuck money silo each of them has to have. Here's a better idea, why doesn't the industry run its own goddamn lyrics sites? Well hell, I bet since we live in The Future and all, you could even track how many times someone searches for a song and give Dave Lowry his quarter of a cent per 100 impressions for Euro-Trash Girl lyrics.

The claim that it's "ripping us off as artists" is unconvincing though. If someone's reading the lyrics, you must assume they're listening or have just listened to that song, which they either own or they don't (Keep going after those pirates, I can at least see the point kind of, best of luck). Very very few songs have lyrics that merit reading on their own without music surrounding them. No one is reading the lyrics to Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive who isn't also listening to that song right now.

The Musician as modern Shelley is in all but the most exceptional cases disingenuous at best (Fun fact: Search for Percy Shelley on Google, and the #3 hit after Wikipedia and Poets.org is poemhunter.com, one of the NMPA's targeted sites of IP thieves). Off the top of my head, I can think of four musicians whose lyrics I could just sit and read, and even that is only a handful of songs per artist. Also off the top of my head, I can think of zero musicians whose lyrics I have just sat and read as art for its own sake.

It certainly didn't take Tennyson to write Take The Skinheads Bowling.

"Industry Sues Morons, film at eleven". Fine. "Fragile snowflake genius loses livelihood when someone can search for their lyrics for /free(!)/". Well you lost me there pal.

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IT Crowd Theme

Here's how we work out at the Curtiss household:

- Smoke

- 20 minutes of elliptical

- Smoke

- Crack beer, do lifting for 25 minutes or whenever show ends

- Steak bomb

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Password Policy


30 Helens (and two Jesuses) agree, nice password policy.

My wife bought this day calendar to store in her purse and found these two horrifically disturbing pages toward the front. It's extra convenient, because if you get mugged, now the thieves can go home and log into your online banking, and clear the rest of it out too while you're all groggy talking to a policeman after waking up laying next to a brick with no purse. Wonderful.

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Expedient Potato Clock


Joe Buck - Muddy Waters

Today one of our ISPs, Expedient(Warning: Opens annoying talking flash-based woman talking over your music), sent me a potato clock. I think it was to mark the 10 month anniversary of a new circuit we haven't quite been able to turn live yet (fault of another 3rd party vendor, long story) :-)

You'll notice the sticker on top is not centered, and that made it rest on this like 1/32" lip around the right "potato cup". That was going to drive me mental, so I was able to re-center it, now my inner Monk is happy.

Aside from that, it works great. It took me 10x as long to set the clock as it did to get it powered by potato, but it's pretty much staying right on time after 30 minutes anyway.

This is not the first such strange vendor swag they've sent me. The last thing I can remember was an Expedient branded USB hub, that had a keyboard controller in it. The Keyboard controller was so that whenever you plugged it in, it could send "http://www.expedient.com" to your default browser and open their homepage when you attach it. It also had a button on the top that would send you to their site, which is why it needed to be a "keyboard". I can't put my hand on that thing at the moment, but if I ever do, I'll definitely update this entry. It may not have survived my move from my last cubicle.


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How To Use An Elevator


Chris Cornell - You Know My Name (watching Casino Royale)

Many people seem to require a refresher course on how elevators work. For those of you who would like to brush up, it works like this:

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xrayspx's picture

Once again with security Spam

Why can't we pay attention to FB hacking warnings?

People do hack FB profiles, it happens every day. They often do it by inducing the target user into clicking a link that can steal their login information in any number of ways. This happens. It's a Big, Bad Internet, and in all likelihood at some point you will:

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Hey Hey RSA

Today I got a customer satisfaction survey from EMC. It was specifically about RSA and how we like their products and the company in general. Cynically, I have to believe that it's not entirely a coincidence that they did this survey during BlackHat & DefCon because, well jeez maybe because half of the people receiving this aren't even in their home fucking state? There was a comment field to one of these asking "why do you feel this way".


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by Dr. Radut