Paranoia Would Have Paid Off

Techdirt is linking to a story about a guy who installed keylogger software on Kinko’s computers in Manhattan for years. He grabbed many, many sets of usernames and passwords and accounts before being caught.

How did he get caught?

A guy who used a remote access program called GoToMyPC to log into his home personal computer from Kinko’s. Several days later, as this poor sap was sitting at his home PC, he was startled to see the mouse cursor moving on its own and looking through his computer, and then the computer made a new bank account with the mark’s info, much to the mark’s surprise.

The mark logged into his home PC from Kinko’s! Class, how many security rules has this mark broken?

Democrat Lawmakers Underestimate Consequences of Music Swapping

Drudge links to a story about the new bill in Congress that will hang music swappers with a jail term for swapping tunes online.

It’s hard to argue with their math:

The Conyers-Berman bill would operate under the assumption that each copyrighted work made available through a computer network was copied by others at least 10 times for a total retail value of $2,500. That would bump the activity from a misdemeanor to a felony, carrying a sentence of up to five years in jail.

Because songs are obviously worth $250 each.

And our lawmakers have uncovered, in a series of hearings, the real consequences of file swapping:

In a series of hearings on Capitol Hill last spring, lawmakers condemned online song swapping and expressed concern the networks could spread computer viruses, create government security risks and allow children access to pornography.

Good going, fellows, you have determined some of the contemporary bugaboos you can arbitrarily associate with with an issue to score extra Politicopoints. But I fear you’ve missed other grim consequences of file swapping:

  • Peer-to-peer file swapping has been proven to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping leads to increased manufacture and use of methamphetamine.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping causes obesity because users no longer have to walk around a music store.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping uses negative campaign ads against earnest incumbents.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer.
  • Software like Kazaa and Napster contributes to traffic accidents and SUV rollovers.

So undoubtedly, it is important to make this behavior a Federal felony so states cannot show some restraint in prosectution. It’s very important to take away music swappers’ rights to own firearms and vote, because when they come out five years of hard time for the eleventh download of Metallica’s “St. Anger”, they’re going to be upset, and we don’t want them to have any recourse against their legislator.

So it is important to obscure the true impact of music swapping, which is it has limited economic impact on a small industry with these “reasons.”

If this bill fails on its own, remember you can attach it as an amendment to the next Congress Supports Mothers bill. Because what fool congressperson would vote against Mom?

Shareware’s Triumphant Return

A CNN article describes how shareware is making a comeback. Well, duh!

The shareware distribution model makes a lot of sense. Smaller applications, many of which are home grown at first, have lower development, marketing, and distribution costs, and the author of the software can pass the savings on. Best of all, you get stripped down versions to evaluate at your leisure for free and for an unlimited time.

It’s hard not to appreciate it. Hey, I have been a fan of shareware for over a decade. I still have the original Duke Nukem and Cosmo’s Great Adventure loaded on my Windows 2000 box, running in all their two dimensional scrolling glories. Not only do they it run as well on my Athlon 1000+ as on my 286-10, but the replayabilty remains. Todd Replogle, where have you gone?

Hopefully not off somewhere to write the interchangeable first person shooters, like Duke Nukem 3D. I hope you retired off of your old Apogee earnings before sinking to that level.

(Link seen on /..)

Long Live Mozilla and the Re-Ascendent <blink> Tag!

I cannot help but recommend that you download the Mozilla Web browser. Not only does pop-under ad blocking come free (and very accurately!), but it accurately renders the oft-maligned <blink> tag. To illustrate, you only need to view today’s posts in Mozilla, or go to Lambert Field, the official Web site of the St. Louis airport and the place I first noticed the suhweet blinking.

Party like it’s 1995!

Point: James DeLong, TechCentralStation.com

James DeLong, in his piece on Tech Central Station, describes the way some peer-to-peer pirates are scrambling for rationalizations now that the Apple Music Store has made individual tracks available cheaply. Seems Apple went and spoilt their excuse that they didn’t want to pay $16 for a CD when they only want one track.

Hey, you freaking bloodsuckers, help yourselves to a couple apples or sodas in the supermarket. Maybe drive off in that Hummer you have been admiring, too, while you’re at it. Your whole raison d’etre is:

From each according to his ability, to you according to your desire.

Counterpoint: Some Cosmopolitan Open-Source Pinhead

Once, to get my dander up, The Artist Formerly Known As The Guy With Blue Hair provided me this bit of commentary, which he found in some XML source to an introduction to Python (which apparently is not “(A*A) + (B*B) = (C*C)”):

As I write this, the year is 2000, and the Internet is a battleground of intellectual property disputes. Some people would like you to believe that, without proper financial incentives, music, literature, and computer software would disappear. After all, who would make music if they can’t make money on it? Who would write? Who would program?

I know the answer. The answer is that musicians will make music, not because they can make money, but because musicians are the people who can’t not make music. Writers will write because they can’t not write. I’ve been programming for 16 years, writing free software for 8. I can’t imagine not doing this. If you can imagine yourself not doing what you’re doing, do something else. Do whatever it is that you can’t not do.

To which I responded, vigorously:

Truly written from the perspective of an enlightened software developer whose day job is probably some $80,000 a year or more IT position.

I’m sure the garage band lyricist and songwriter checking this guy out at the 7-11 would differ, or the writer who has to teach three sections of undergrad English while he writes nearly-free (paid in contributor’s copies) for unread literary magazines.

I assume by “appreciate” you DID mean “get your dander up.”

Sure, writers and artists will always create; however, it would be nice to get some sort of market value for it, and not get screwed over by cosmopolitan open-source pinheads.

Hey, buddy, it’s 2003, and the deflated IT industry’s droopled all over the floor. How’s that free software working out for you now?

Another Luddite Heard From

Larry Blasko from AP has got a really nice piece in the Washington Post describing one of the best computer backup media ever: paper.

I have worked on computers too long, both physically (A+ certified, donchaknow?) and on the software side to trust anything to the vagaries of technology. I mean, some of the coolest short stories I ever wrote are safe enough, I think, on 5.25″ floppies that fit into a Commodore 1571 disk drive. But that’s no good if I cannot get to them.

Until I am struck blind, though, I can read and retype paper copies. In case you’re wondering how many copies I have of the most important document I have created in the last year (my novel manuscript John Donnelly’s Gold), the answer is ten, and many are stored off site.

Tester’s Creed

At work, I do a little testing, and I just wanted to let you schnucking developers know where we testers stand:

Here is the ultimatum of our camp: what can be smashed, must be smashed; whatever survives a blow has value, whatever flies to smithereens is rubbish; in any case, smash right and left, it will and can do no harm.
(Dmitry I. Pisarev)

That Russian nihilist guy most certainly described ad hoc testing!

One Man, Alone, With A Compiler and A Dream

Oh, and lest I forget, UltraEdit rocks!

One guy has written this supreme text editor and has refined it over a number of years. And it works. No exception boxes, no blue screens, just text with formatting elements in a different color.

Thanks, Ian D. Mead. You’re an inspiration to us all, except you don’t own your own fighter jet or 20,000 square foot house on a Pacific bluff. Here’s my $35, though; buy yourself a case of Guinness Draught.

Techies Salaries Might Fall To Earth In Twenty Years

Doom, doom! they say. CNet News is reporting that United States technical workers are standing in line for the welfare cheese handouts at local churches and have begun selling their collections of new or leased exotic sports cars to keep in their eat-out-six-nights-a-week habits. No, wait. Actually, CNet is reporting that tech salaries are not rising as fast as they used to, they are, or maybe they’re really falling. Technical workers should be worried!

All right, first of all, I am not looking up at sour grapes here. Although I am not a real techie–a developer or admin of some sort–I am, even as a hanger-on to the IT industry, earning annually at 31 more than what my father earned at 45 after years of hard labor. So pardon me while I interject into the common IT thought a spot of perspective from here in the Midwest.

The median household income in these United States is $42,228 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. All of you techies out there, compare and contrast this figure with what you take home in a year, and remember that this is the household income. Many households have two people working, sometimes more than one job each, to come up with their household income.

Not many Americans buy houses in fashionable neighborhoods at 25 or spend time each morning deciding whether to drive the Porsche or the Miata to work on any given day. An unfortunate number cannot have a spouse stay home with the kids. For some, McDonalds is eating out.

Now, I don’t mean to harsh your mellow employment, and I don’t want to attack tech workers or the economists who service them. I would prefer a little less hysterics in the media coverage of the economic sector and employment therein. Don’t panic, enjoy the high income while it’s there, but understand the economics of the situation will even themselves out. The pay goes up when the workers are scarce, and then suddenly everyone wants to do that job, and the pay stabilizes or comes down. Take what the field offers, but don’t expect it’s entitled to you.

And thank your lucky stars that you don’t work a job where your arms can get ripped off by an unforgiving amalgamation of steel and someone else’s ingenuity if your attention wanders, or a job that will make you walk slowly and slightly stooped after thirty years of toting and bending and lifting. For $10 an hour. For the rest of your life.

I Work Around

Here’s a little song for those who work with software out there. My apologies to the Beach Boys:


Round round work around
I work around
Yeah
work around round round I work around
I work around
work around round round I work around
From job to job
work around round round I work around
It’s a real cool app
work around round round I work around
Please don’t make it snap

I’ve got little bugs runnin’ in and out of the code
Don’t type an int or it will implode

My buttons don’t click, the users all moan
Yeah, the GUIS are buggy but the issues are known

I work around
work around round round I work around
From town to town
work around round round I work around
It’s a real cool app
work around round round I work around
Please don’t make it snap
work around round round I work around
I work around
Round
work around round round oooo
Wah wa ooo
Wah wa ooo
Wah wa ooo

We always make a patch cause the clients get mad
And we’ve never missed a deadline, so it isn’t so bad

None of the data gets checked cause it doesn’t work right
We can run a batch job in the middle of the night

I work around
work around round round I work around
From job to job
work around round round I work around
It’s a real cool app
work around round round I work around
Please don’t make it snap
work around round round I work around
I work around
Round
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah

Round round work around
I work around
Yeah
work around round round I work around
work around round round I work around
Wah wa ooo
work around round round I work around
Oooo ooo ooo
work around round round I work around
Ahh ooo ooo
work around round round I work around
Ahh ooo ooo
work around round round I work around
Ahh ooo ooo