Monday, October 23, 2006

Project Blackbox

Sun blackbox container computingProject Blackbox by Sun is certainly a fascinating concept. The infrastructure needs are significant, and what would be truly awesome is if they came up with a standardized set of quick-release power and cooling couplers. That would make this a truly useful piece of technology. Nicholas Carr's comments regarding the utilitization of electricity and its applicability to computing are quite correct.

You can always read the NY Times take on it, but I doubt the link will work for very long and I'm always disappointed in the quality of the reporting when I read a times article about something I do know about.

Photo from Aaron Cohen's blog.

Friday, September 1, 2006

The Freshmen

Working at a university, I can only say that The Freshmen is stunningly true.

On the first day of class he asks them a question. "What would you be doing if you were not in College?" They reply that they would be working in a retail store, construction, or at the paper mill in their hometown. "So you would be working 40 hours a week? Is that correct?" he says. They answer in the affirmative. He then goes on to guarantee that if they will work a 40-hour week in college, they will be successful. He asks them to "work" in their academic pursuits 8 hours a day, five days a week, with evenings and weekends off. The 40 hours must be spent either in class or in study time. He explains that if they would get up at 7 a.m., eat breakfast, and either attend class or study from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with an hour off for lunch, they would have every evening off to socialize. They would also have their weekends free. He knows that this will work. He also knows that they won't take his advice.

Cultural Implications of Respect for Law

Interesting article on rules and rule breaking in the Moscow Times.


Put simply, Russians are used to not making a connection between breaches of rules and laws and their tragic consequences. Breaking the rules has long been a flourishing subculture that can be witnessed everywhere you turn.


The Moscow Times requires a pay subscription to read their content (sucks), but you can read more excerpts at Tom McMahon's blog. Ignore the 4-block world thing, the content is below that.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This Just In: War Has Almost Ceased to Exist

John Mueller, over at Ohio State University has a wonderful paper about the current phenomenon regarding the demise of war. He discusses the issue in detail, but being a political scientist (and student of Fred Astaire choreography), he doesn't dwell long on the whole aspect of enconomic ties being a significant depressant to the desire for war. Regardless, the paper is a good, and heartening read. Especially in light of recent events.

Mueller is also the author of the False Sense of Insecurity paper that has been making the rounds of late. You can download many of his papers, and even a couple of his books off of his OSU web page.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Those Crazy Japanese

Japanese TV FreaksOver at TV-In-Japan, aside from a crappy web layout, they have a clip from youtube that is an example of everything that is right and wrong with Japanese TV and culture. According to the comments, the user kazuhima has several more of the same available on his youtube account.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Drive Through Lube

Drive through lube billboardsA delightfully suggestive advertisement by a lubricant company. Hell, it's more than suggestive, it's downright dirty.

California Republic Palomino

Blackwing pencil testingI like a person who takes their pencils as seriously as ninthwave does.

In my search for a replacement of what I consider the best pencil ever manufactured, I needed to find a pencil that had at least these qualities established by the Blackwing 602:

1. Dark smooth graphite with a slightly waxy feel to it.
2. Graphite that doesn't smudge easily (eliminating most grades over 4B).
3. Reasonably priced (i.e. not so rare that you have to buy at collctor's prices).
4. Produced by a company with commitment to pencil quality (to avoid future heartbreak should they stop production on a whim).

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Impure Mathematics

Found, unfortunately un-attributed, on the internet.


To prove once and for all that math can be fun, we present: Wherein it is related how that paragon of womanly virtue, young Polly Nomial (our heroine) is accosted by that notorious villain Curly Pi, and factored (oh horror!!!)

Once upon a time (1/t) pretty little Polly Nomial was strolling across a field of vectors when she came to the boundary of a singularly large matrix. Now Polly was convergent, and her mother had made it an absolute condition that she must never enter such an array without her brackets on. Polly, however, who had changed her variables that morning and was feeling particularly badly behaved, ignored this condition on the basis that it was insufficient and made her way in amongst the complex elements. Rows and columns closed in on her from all sides. Tangents approached her surface. She became tensor and tensor. Quite suddendly two branches of a hyperbola touched her at a
single point. She oscillated violently, lost all sense of directrix, and went completely divergent. As she tripped over a square root that was protruding from the erf and plunged headlong down a steep gradient. When she rounded off once more, she found herself inverted, apparently alone, in a non-Euclidean space.

She was being watched, however. That smooth operator, Curly Pi, was lurking inner product. As his eyes devoured her curvilinear coordinates, a singular expression crossed his face. He wondered, "Was she still convergent?" He decided to integrate properly at once.

Hearing a common fraction behind her, Polly rotated and saw Curly Pi approaching with his power series extrapolated. She could see at once by his degenerate conic and dissipative that he was bent on no good.

"Arcsinh," she gasped.

"Ho, ho," he said, "What a symmetric little asymptote you have I can see you angles have lots of secs."

"Oh sir," she protested, "keep away from me I haven't got my brackets on."

"Calm yourself, my dear," said our suave operator, "your fears are purely imaginary."

"I, I," she thought, "perhaps he's not normal but homologous."

"What order are you?" the brute demanded.

"Seventeen," replied Polly.

Curly leered "I suppose you've never been operated on."

"Of course not," Polly replied quite properly, "I'm absolutely convergent."

"Come, come," said Curly, "let's off to a decimal place I know and I'll take you to the limit."

"Never," gasped Polly.

"Abscissa," he swore, using the vilest oath he knew. His patience was gone. Coshing her over the coefficient with a log until she was powerless, Curly removed her discontinuities. He stared at her significant places, and began smoothing out her points of inflection. Poor Polly. The algorithmic method was
now her only hope. She felt his digits tending to her asymptotic limit. Her convergence would soon be gone forever.

There was no mercy, for Curly was a heavyside operator. Curly's radius squared itself; Polly's loci quivered. He integrated by parts. He integrated by partial fractions. After he cofactored, he performed runge - kutta on her. The complex beast even went all the way around and did a contour integration. What an indignity - to be multiply connected on her first integration. Curly went on operating until he completely satisfied her hypothesis, then he exponentiated and became completely orthogonal.

When Polly got home that night, her mother noticed that she was no longer piecewise continuous, but had been truncated in several places But it was to late to differentiate now. As the months went by, Polly's denominator increased monotonically. Finally she went to L'Hopital and generated a small but pathological function which left surds all over the place and drove Polly to deviation.

The moral of our sad story is this: "If you want to keep your expressions convergent, never allow them a single degree of freedom."

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Shuttle Launches Live in Linux

Shuttle STS-121 LaunchToday the shuttle launched the shuttle Discovery on STS-121. The cool thing, though, was that I was able to easily watch it live, streaming under Linux.

All that I needed to do was go to the NASA TV streaming video page and view the windows media player stream. The stream uses the WMV9 codec (unfortunately), however if you have the right codec packs installed (win32), totem/xine can view the stream live.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Git, an alternative to CVS

Git is the Linus Torvalds implemented alternative to configuration management. IBM has a nice article introducing users to git based software development. The context is git's current major usage which is as the revision control system for the Linux Kernel. Worth a look.

The current iteration of Git is intended primarily for use by software developers looking for alternatives to CVS or proprietary code management solutions. Git differs from CVS in a number of ways:


  • Branching is fast and easy.

  • Offline work is supported; local commits can be submitted later.

  • Git commits are atomic and project-wide, not per-file as in CVS.

  • Every working tree in Git contains a repository with a full project history.

  • No Git repository is inherently more important than any other.




Friday, June 30, 2006

Did somebody sell a Yahoo email database?

A few years ago, around 2000, maybe 2001, I signed up with a yahoo account. This was so I could gain access to the yahoo games system and try out word racer. When I signed up I had to give yahoo an email address to confirm the account with. I use custom crafted email addressses which encode the site's name in it so I can filter out companies that refuse to honor their unsubscribe/stop sending me junk options.

Other than the initial email to confirm the account, that address has never been used for anything--in general I use these addresses as receive only. And kindly, yahoo never used it again to send me spamvertising. Also, I haven't played a yahoo game in about 3, maybe 4 years. Today, however, I received a spam to that address. This spam was clearly illegal junk spam, a 419, and so it clearly wasn't condoned or sanctioned by yahoo, however it arrived at an address that existed for a one-time use to receive an email from Yahoo, and then again two years later for a password recovery (yeah, I forgot it).

This means that the existence of this address was only recorded in two places, my email archives in which the original was saved, and yahoo's internal databases. Therefore, since my systems have not been compromised (I manage internet servers for a living, and track all activity in and out of my boxes), this means that someone with access to Yahoo's internal listings of email addresses has sold/made available that list to illegal scammers. Not good.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

419 Eaters scam awesome carvings

Carved N64 419eater is a site dedicated to people who turn the tables on Nigerian 419 scammers. The usual bag is to get them to write something dumb on a sign and send in a picture of themselves. One of them, however, inspires them with great riches in exchange for a sample of carved artwork. This is the story of one such 419 eater who, after convincing the artist that the sculpture "shrunk" in the mail, gets the scammer to send in a carving of a Commodore 64. Quite impressive. The real gem, however, is found in the trophy room where an enterprising 419eater gets a carved N64! Quite impressive.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Man of steel, made of rubber

Well, it turns out that the Man of Steel is made of rubber. At least that's what the over-used, too-close-up CGI made it look like. But the good news is that just like Joe Sixpack, he likes a Budweiser when he's got woman troubles, though his supporters are cool with Bud Light. Lois Lane drives the new Audi sport-utility-compact, talks on a Samsung cell phone and the Daily Planet has switched over to VoIP for their phone system. Oh, and Jimmy Olsen uses a sexy new Nikon digicam. Certain kinds of refreshment, however were limited to plain old advertisements.

So, evidently all is well in metropolis. Of course, not all product placement would have been appropriate given the plot. Then again, maybe latex can't stand up to the man of steel.

Oh yeah, in a global market with timed releases, it's no longer commercially viable for S-man to stand for "Truth, Justice and the American Way". Now he just (always has) stood for Truth and Justice". Good to know.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tips for Game Masters

Alan De Smet has a nice collection of tips for game masters. Advice for any game player really.


The Golden Rule

Have fun.

Maybe you're breaking a "rule" from a magazine article or web page. If you're having fun, don't worry about it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Levers, a game of balance

Screen shot of levers
The game of levers is a wonderful little toy where the goal is to keep the stuff out of the water. Each time you succeed, the ante is raised by giving you more things to balance. Like a mobile, the key to winning is evening out the weight among all the hooks you have available. Of course, there are some nice dynamic elements like the birds you can shoo and the bucket of water you can drain. Lots of fun.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Daily UML

I've started a new website, Daily UML which is intended to serve as a regularly updated site giving examples and discussion of UML issues. The first post is up and with luck I'll be able to keep up a five-posts/week schedule. Since it has a specific technical focus, I'm hoping the update schedule won't be unbearable. If need be, I'll ramp back to a Mon/Wed/Fri schedule. We shall see. So, for now, if you want to see, talk or learn about UML, head on over.

UPDATE

The domain was lost to a domain squatter, so that's the end of that.

NIST DADS

For many years, NIST has hosted the online Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures. It's an excellent resource for any computer science student or practitioner. It contains concise, complete definitions of most important aspects of computer science. From the obvious quicksort to the obscure Fisher-Yates Shuffle. Bookmark worthy any day.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Michael Schumacher is a cheating bastard

Finally there's some justice in F1 racing. It was painfully obvious to everyone that what Michael Schumacher did on the final lap of qualifying was blatantly wrong, and it's good to see that after an investigation he gets to start where he deserves, right next to his teammate on the 12th row.

What made it stand out was that on the lap that he pulled this stunt on, Fernando Alonso still finished only +0.064 seconds off from making pole. So, instead of taking 2nd position and being on the lead row, the worthless bastard gets to sit at the back of the grid and try to fight his way forward. Not likely given that about 40 of the 50 runnings of the Monaco Grand Prix have gone to the first three grid positions. I believe it has been 10 years since someone not in the front of the pack has managed to win.

If this decision were up to the FIA, I'm sure that it would have gone in favor of Schumacher. For years the FIA has done everything it could to work in favor of Ferrari, but finally this decision wasn't up to them. Under the sporting regulations, the actions of the driver are judged by the race stewards, not Bernie Ecclestone. Thank god.

Sadly, we've had two awesome races recently, the Grand Prix of Europe and the Grand Prix of Spain, both of which were exciting, close fights between the two drivers, and the fans would have had another awesome display of engineering, driving and strategy this weekend, but alas, rather than fight fair, he chose to fight dirty.

Friday, May 26, 2006

How to cheat good

Alex Halavais has done an excellent job of providing useful advice on
how to cheat effectively. As a lecturer at a university, I can understand all too well his lament about students turning in work that is strangely not of their own making. Thankfully the small number of students I have had to work with make this a minor issue for me, but my colleagues with larger student groups do have a heck of a time with it.

8. Edit > Paste Special > Unformatted Text

This is my Number 1 piece of advice, even if it is numbered eight. When you copy things from the web into Word, ignoring #3 above, don’t just “Edit > Paste” it into your document. When I am reading a document in black, Times New Roman, 12pt, and it suddenly changes to blue, Helvetica, 10pt (yes, really), I’m going to guess that something odd may be going on. This seems to happen in about 1% of student work turned in, and periodically makes me feel like becoming a hermit.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

All glass Apple store open 24/7

Glass Apple store in NYC.The new Apple store in New York, New York is absolutely incredible looking. At least from the outside. The rather pedestrian looking Apple stores in the Los Angeles area are entirely unworthy of visiting now. What really kills me is that the store is supposedly to be open 24/7!

I live in a major metropolitan area, but it has a distinct lack of 24 hour offerings. Sure, the Home Depot in Hollywood used to be open 24/7, but that went away back around 2000. I wish more stores would adopt these sort of hours. Other than a burrito and/or some cold medicine, there's very little that is available at all hours within a reasonable distance of my home.

Stone Golem Suit

Stone Golem SuitThis video of a LARP group's stone golem suit is absolutely awesome. If LARPers weren't a half-step above Furries, one would almost want to go play with them.

This would be an incredible halloween costume though. If I only had the time, I would make one and dress up for the first time in years.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Delicious Links 2006-04-19

caskey's del.icio.us bookmarks for 2006-04-19

  • Sex cues ruin men's decisiveness --
    The Proceedings of the Royal Society B study found they were more likely to accept unfair offers than men not been exposed to the alluring images. The suggestion is that the sexual cues distract the men's thoughts, preventing them from focusing on thei
    Tagged as: article evolution news paralipsis psychology research society

Friday, April 14, 2006

Why IIS on Win32 Fails

System call depths in Win32 vs. POSIXThe pictures to the right from Richard Stiennon's post on Threat Chaos show the paths of the system calls used by IIS on Win32 and Apache on POSIX to service a single HTTP request. This pictures demonstrates, fundamentally, why IIS on Win32 is simply a bad engineering choice when it comes to security.

Every system call, every transition across the user/operating system boundary is an opportunity for the userspace program to exploit a potentially unknown hole in the underlying O/S. Why someone would choose to use an environment like this one is beyond me.

Richard Stiennon put it quite succinctly:

Windows has grown so complicated that it is harder to secure. Well these images make the point very well. Both images are a complete map of the system calls that occur when a web server serves up a single page of html with a single picture. The same page and picture.

Evergreen DN-2000

Evergreen DN-2000 mp3 playerEveryone is a twitter about the Evergreen DN-2000, which brings the no-frills mp3 playback possibilities down to a rock bottom JPY999 price. Frankly, USD 8.50 is pretty cheap for an mp3 player, however the catch is that you supply your own storage in the form of an SD card. Even at USD50-100/GB, that's far from a strictly el-cheapo mp3 player.

What I do like about this sort of design is that the storage should be separate from the player. I still come across my old mp3 player from the turn of the century and lament its paltry 32MB of storage despite having a pleasing industrial design. One can only hope that this is indicative of things to come in the mobile device industry--standardized, removeable storage media. Of course, the iPod shuffle has things a little backwards but it is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ian's Not So New Knot

Double slipped reef knot
Ian Fieggen has taken it upon himself to rename the simple double-slipped reef knot as the Ian Knot. While it's always nice to see someone take an interest in the ancient art of knot tying, what infuriates me is when someone creates new terms for something that they have no business claiming rights over.

I don't doubt that Ian has documented a clever way of tying a double-slipped reef knot in a small number of passes, however if you examine his two 'recommended' knots on his list of shoelace knots page you will find nothing new under the sun. His Ian Knot is in no way different than the same knot the majority of us use to tie our shoes every day and his so calledIan's Secure Shoelace Knot is nothing more than a double-slipped surgeon's knot.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ubuntu Qmail HOWTO

Ubuntu used to have the qmail-src package available in the multiverse collection, however due to the lack of attention by whomever monitors the build reports, breezy doesn't have the package availble to it. However, since the debian package is an all-platform package, one can simply use it to get where you need to go. The process is easy (once you've figured it the hell out).


  1. download the Debian stable .debs for qmail-src and ucspi-tcp to your ubuntu system

  2. use dpkg to install them manually

  3. run build-ucspi-tcp

  4. run build-qmail

  5. (optional) apply patches



Friday, March 24, 2006

Turning the other Cheek

The congregation of the Church of the Nazarene finally tired of the 'turn the other cheek' attitude promoted by Jesus and took matters into their own hands. The whole TTOC method was simply allowing repeated burgularies of their church and so they decided to bring forth their Bats of Blessing and show Ralph Thomas the way of the Lord.

I leave you with Mathew 24:43:

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.


Amen.

Special Signal for Stupid Drivers

For those who are too stupid to understand how right-of-way works with a green light and a left turn, the US Department of Transportation has issued an interim approval of a new "Flashing Yellow Arrow", or FYA to indicate when your left turn is permitted, but without the right-of-way.

Just another example of having to provide special rules for people who are too stupid to learn how to drive.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Delicious Links 2006-03-23

caskey's del.icio.us bookmarks for 2006-03-23

  • Standards and specs: Not by UNIX alone --
    One of the nice things about UNIX development is your variety of choices. A given computer might easily run two or three varieties of UNIX. ... Even when there's divergence, UNIX systems typically provide solid API documentation. You might not like migra
    Tagged as: article cool linux paralipsis reference unix

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Darknet Mashup

darknet video screen shotA good discussion of darknets, copyright, drm and the MPAA went on at the SXSW conference. One thing that is a must-see is the video which was put together by J.D. Lasica. I highly recommend that you watch the video, download the clips from the discussion and read the commentary put up by Derek Powazek.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Good Samaritan Loses His Top

Jaguar with top cut offThe Jaguar X Type pictured at right was put up for auction as a salvage vehicle this past month. The posting from the auction tells the tale of a good samaritan whose efforts went quite vigorously punished. You gotta feel for the guy. I can only imagine the scene as he jumped up and down, probably held back by the police while his car was being cut in two.

Given ebay's penchant for pulling down listings shortly after they close, I've reproduced it below for posterity.


JAGUAR X TYPE 2.O D - DAMAGED SALVAGE

THIS VEHICLE HAS COME TO US VIA AN INSURANCE COMPANY, IT HAS TRAVELLED 32,000 MILES AND IS ONE NOT VERY HAPPY OWNER FROM NEW.

THE VEHICLE IS REGISTERED AS A CAT C AND REGISTRATION DOCUMENT NEEDS TO BE APPLIED FOR.

THIS VEHICLE WAS DAMAGED BY THE FIRE BRIGADE (MUST TELL THE STORY)

THIS VEHICLE WAS TRAVELLING ALONG AND IN FRONT OF HIM THERE WAS AN ACCIDENT, HE PULLED OVER TO THE HARD SHOULDER TO ASSIST THE INJURED PERSON FROM THEIR CAR AND PLACED THE PERSON ONTO THE BACK SEAT OF HIS FOR COMFORT WHILST EMERGENCY SERVICES ARRIVED.

ONCE AMBULANCE AND FIRE BRIGADE ARRIVED ON SCENE, THE INJURED PARTY SUDDENLY COMPLAINED OF BACK INJURYS, SO THE FIRE BRIGADE KINDLY REMOVED THE ROOF OF THE INNOCENT BYSTANDERS CAR (I BET HE WON'T EVER STOP TO HELP AGAIN).

ANYWAY VEHICLE NOW HAS A REMOVABLE ROOF, SEATS HAVE BEEN REMOVED AND ARE IN BITS, BOOT LID HAS BEEN PRICED OPEN AS OWNER HAD PERSONAL BELONGINGS INSIDE.

ALL DOORS ARE PRESENT, BUT SOME HAVE DAMAGE, NO CARE HAS BEEN TAKEN IN REMOVING THEM, DOOR HINGES HAVE BEEN CUT.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT THIS VEHICLE STARTS AND DRIVES, BUT IS NOT DRIVE AWAY.

TOP SECTION OF DASHBOARD HAS SMALL MARKS AND TEARS FROM THE GLASS.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THE ROOF HAS BEEN REMOVED BY FIRE BRIGADE SHEERS, AND THEIR IS OBVIOUSLY WIRING THAT NEEDS REAIRING, LOTS OF BITS AND PIECES, PLEASE TRY AND VIEW VEHICLE AS TO BE SURE WHAT YOU ARE BIDDING ON.


Via Random Acts of Reality.

Awesome Multi-Touch LED Sensor in Action

Multi-touch LED display in actionJeff Han, in the NYU Department of Computer Science has a wonderfully enticing video of a multiple-touch sensor built using the bidirectional capabilities of an array of LEDs. The video is enchanting and worth repeated viewing. The mind boggles at the possibilities. Tragically the minimalist presentation leaves us wondering as to many of the practical aspects of constructing the array. Casual observation shows it is composed of 256 individual sensing elements.

This technical report by Paul Dietz, Darren Leigh and William Yerazunis of Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs offers all the practical knowledge one needs to actually construct something like this. What I wouldn't give for some time to play with such things.

World's Largest Windows Error Message

Times Square Windows ErrorHere we have a wonderful example of why you don't run a general purpose OS in an embedded environment. Adam Gaffin was visiting New York and came across the world's largest windows error message when he was visiting the famous Times Square.


...across the square, I saw it: the world's largest Windows error message - on a two-story high e-billboard (I guess everything really is bigger in New York). It was the only billboard in the entire square with absolutely no movement - since the PC running it had obviously frozen.


If this were a framebuffer on a unix system, perhaps controlled via SDL, this sort of thing simply wouldn't occur. I can only imagine how much time on a jumbo video display costs to buy. I'm sure that a few hours of lost broadcast is worth far more than a linux box.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Oonts Oonts Oonts Oonts...

Half of a Ferrari This is an awesome story of how Stefan Eriksson's Ferrari was torn in half by a utility pole while he was "just a passenger" (who happened to have a BAC of 0.09). The tragedy truly is the loss of a beautiful Enzo.


Eriksson said he was a passenger in the Ferrari, which he said was being driven by a German acquaintance he knew only as Dietrich.

...

Eriksson told authorities that "Dietrich" ran up a hill toward the canyon road and disappeared. Brooks said detectives are far from convinced they have the whole story.


I'm just glad that Stephan had the sense to hand over the keys to a $1,000,000 US car (660 BHP!) when he was too tipsy to drive. Though one must blame the alcohol for his failure to inquire as to who, exactly this Dietrich was. An honest mistake.

Frankly, if someone did that to my Enzo, I would not be sitting on the side of the road when the Sherrif rolls up. I'd be still in the front seat punching "Dietrich" like a pinata until a new Ferrari falls out.

Monday, February 20, 2006

1920x1200 Multi Head Working

I've finally got my multi-head setup back. I went from a triple 21"@1600x1200 plus a single 1920x1200 to merely three 1920x1200 flat panel displays. It took a ton of doing and nearly eight weeks of effort, but I now have two nvidia 7800 GT boards driving two Apple 23 inch cinema displays plus a single Apple 23 inch Cinema Display HD. (Two of the new aluminum ones, one of the old plastic ones.)

Bad X2 CPU All Along

Well, after fighting with my motherboard, ram, power supply and bios for two long weeks, I finally determined that the problem was, in fact, the CPU itself. I had a defective AMD Athlon 4400+ X2. This being my first AMD box, I had no spare to swap in its place to verify it worked. I ended up purchasing a second power supply, using the ram out of my old computer, heck I even switched keyboards thinking it could be some freaky effect of my ancient Kinesis Essential. Once I had essentially a brand new system with a different power supply, different memory and a different motherboard that exhibited the exact same symptoms, I knew it had to be the CPU.

This is probably the biggest benefit of going with an integrated system--they're less likely to suffer from a single fault that becomes very difficult to diagnose. Having planned on going SLI, at least I had two video cards to work with while trying to fix it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Delicious Links 2006-02-18

caskey's del.icio.us bookmarks for 2006-02-18

  • People on Food --
    A wonderful collection of photos depicting miniature people exploring foodscapes. The blog page isn't the original artist's (and is in russian).
    Tagged as: art cool paralipsis photography photos pictures

Monday, February 6, 2006

Delicious Links 2006-02-06

caskey's del.icio.us bookmarks for 2006-02-06

  • Free Online Graph Paper / Grid Paper PDFs --
    This is a brilliant web site which contains PDF generators for a large number of different types of graph paper. I may never buy graph paper again.
    Tagged as: architecture art bookbinding cool paralipsis rpg software tools utilities web

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Suspect A8N-SLI Deluxe was bad

When it comes to my efforts to build an AMD based system, I'm pretty much back where I started.

Here's what I can reliably reproduce on my A8N-SLI:

Using a stick of ancient DDR ram (from a ca. 2003 box) IF I clear CMOS and cold-boot, bypassing bios setup (bios defaults loaded, F1 to continue), I can boot off of a floppy. I've successfully booted a Dos 6.22 floppy, tomsrtbt and memtest86+. Dos was perfectly happy (and quite fun to play with). Tomsrtbt worked fine for several hours, even with a system load of 2.00 via a dd of /dev/urandom into /dev/null. And memtest ran through four passes w/o error.

HOWEVER, a warm boot (C-A-DEL), would elicit the same hard lock right where I'd expect the BIOS logo to appear. For all purposes it seems to be hard locking during post. If I pull power to the system and turn it on cold, it boots fine.

Friday, February 3, 2006

No love on the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe

Finally giving up on my video upgrade woes, I decided that they only way to drive my three flat panels is a new video card that uses the PCIx slot format. Alas, this means a new motherboard. New motherboard means new CPU/RAM/Power Supply, and at that point, you're only a couple bucks from a complete system. Therefore I went to a reliable vendor and ordered up a complete set of parts. This was the start of my troubles.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Delicious Links 2006-01-26

caskey's del.icio.us bookmarks for 2006-01-26

  • Argus --
    The Argus Open Project is focused on developing network activity audit strategies that can do real work for the network architect, administrator and network user.
    Tagged as: admin ip linux networking paralipsis security software sysadmin todo tools

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Delicious Links 2006-01-22

caskey's del.icio.us bookmarks for 2006-01-22

  • VX heavens --
    An excellent open collection of viruses, worms and trojans. Very helpful to the budding security researcher/developer.
    Tagged as: analysis article code computer documentation hacks paralipsis programming reference security tutorial

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Enabling Xinerama in Ubuntu

Configuring Xinerama in Ubuntu is straightforward and only has two real steps (if you're lucky). The first is to set up your video boards so they are identified by X11. Then you simply need to tell X11 how your screens are aranged and then that you want them to be one large virtual screen. If you have a xinerama-aware window manager, so much the better. Below is a blow-by-blow description of what you need to do in order to enable multiple displays. These instructions are not Ubuntu specific, so they'll work for any Linux distribution.

Port Knocking is Worthless

As I read about Port Knocking and whether or not it qualifies as security through obscurity, it strikes me that not only is Port Knocking useless, it's wrong minded as well. It fails to solve the very problem it purports to address, and creates the illusion of greater security. I believe this is the worst form of snake oil. In any security assessment one must produce a threat model and an construct your security system in response to that, but a system like Knocking doesn't appear to have gone through that process.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Setting Up TWM Under Ubuntu

Getting TWM, a.k.a. the Window Manager Of The Gods working under Ubuntu is actually quite easy.


  1. Install the twm package: sudo apt-get install twm

  2. Create a twm desktop config file for your display manager:
    cat > /usr/share/xsessions/twm.desktop
    [Desktop Entry]
    Encoding=UTF-8
    Name=twm
    Comment=
    Exec=twm
    Icon=
    Type=Application
    CTRL-D



Now, you're free to select twm from the list of display managers. I really ought to get around to submitting a mod to the twm package as this config file should be in the distribution automatically, like the other window managers are.

And yes, I use TWM every day on my quad display system. It's the best, fastest, and least intrusive window manager I've ever used.

1920x1200? not so fast

Driving a flat panel display at 1920 x 1200 is far more difficult than you can imagine. Sure, it's easy if you only have one, but what if you have three? Well, unless you're building a brand-new custom system with dual PCIe 16x slots and dual, dual DVI outputs, life can get a little hairy.

You see, I used to operate with just four displays. One was an Apple Cinema Display 23 inch and three were Sony Trinitron 500PS CRT monitors. This gave me a desktop resolution of 6720 x 1200. If you examine the image below, you can see how this colossal resolution compares to several traditional monitor resolutions.

Desktop Resolutions

Pinnacle Nucflash

If you're a fan of complex systems, especially ones designed to ensure secure control of vital or dangerous systems, then you'll enjoy this story about the Pinnacle/Nucflash keyword combo used to route messages of the highest priority, namely notification of a non-accidental nuclear explosion and threat of imminent nuclear war. Finding ways of constructing systems and rules such that human error is minimized is a fascinating area of study.