Thursday, October 25, 2007

Personal Area Networks

Going to invest a little time to learn a radical new network and the code that backs it: the BluetoothTransaction (or HiptopTransaction) is all about Personal Area Networks. The only connections that are established are between paired devices that are each zero hops remote, meaning the whole network generally has one hub (the computer or the phone) and connections are not usually routed from machine to machine, though data may be.

This introduces all kinds of new opportunities to obsolete protocols in small-scale networks where technologies are exploited to their fullest potentials, including potentially such notable protocols as DNS, DHCP, and even perhaps TCP. More reading is necessary to say whether I am talking out of my ass or saying something meaningful with this. The address space is seemingly more like MAC hardware addressing and IPX protocol, and less like IPv4 or IPv6.

Some links are included in my Del.icio.us feed and there is a lot of background information on the Danger Developer Zone. The first article in the series is going up here on the KPB Code blog. From the Danger docs, this one looks like the biggest mess of difficult information to process.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hello My Business Student

This is a note from a student who says he's working on some projects he intends to monetize. What should I tell him? I think it's OK to allow for-profit usages in academic contexts. He paid his tuition, so technically he has paid the bill for access to the software.

So is there line crossing that mandates another new purchase after graduation? I think that the answer is no, and I think that software licensing fees are enforced on developers through obsoleting libraries.

If that is so, then it's also true that a steady flow of sales for new computers running Vista is necessary to keep Microsoft in business. And yet adoption is not happening in academic Computer circles!

Upgrading a computer's operating system is expensive, and can result in the loss of your private data. The same student who hand-picks every component of his computer and purchases them unassembled is likely to run a pirated retail copy of Windows XP. Without purchasing a DVD Writer, he is unlikely to ever pirate Windows Vista of his own volition.

It's my passion in life to deliver a copy of Windows Vista to that wonderfully frugal, self-amused, possibly also piracy free, long-term Microsoft development technician, and show him how to use it. If he reads the license agreement like he's supposed to do, then I'm sure he'll know he's supposed to pay Microsoft some money.

Microsoft, are you as smart as Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com? When did we buy their software? Every time it didn't cost us anything but a click. How do we pay for that? This is another question altogether, and I'm still looking for a good answer myself.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Polish Ambassador!

I understand now! You have to be simultaneously hot and cool, and only through the wonders of Polish technology can that be accomplished successfully. Meet The Polish Ambassador, I can only hope to be as cool as this guy. The Polish Ambassador is the life of the party and he's wearing a track suit!

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Egg is Funny

The FBI, working with Homeland Security, raided Valve headquarters this morning, detaining developers who work with the popular Counterstrike mod. Authorities confiscated computers used to program the game. The developers are being held on charges of domestic terrorism at an undisclosed prison that may or may not be located in the United States.

read more | digg story

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Seeking Authors

I am currently seeking an additional author or editor for The Sixth Layer blog to help determine the direction of the establishment.  Please inquire within and we can discuss the arrangements between us in privacy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Support for OSS Developers

Open Source code development and peer review methodologies necessitate a new understanding of the concept of product support. Rod Johnson knows Spring, but he's not the only guy who can support it. He argues that control over the central source repository puts his company in a unique position, but distributed version control tools like Monotone and Mercurial threaten his espoused concept of centralized ownership.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Publishing Workflows

The goal is to keep information in the loop as much as possible, so I'll tell you when I'm making changes and you can review them. We're just dealing with a big bag of files here, so there's no requirement that we use a publishing workflow, but it's going to result in a higher quality result and more opportunities for collaboration and improvement. To enforce something like a publishing workflow on myself I use TortoiseSVN. This tool integrates with a public database that I run called Subversion, that's designed to facilitate collaboration over a set of code or data files or programs. This program will work on any Windows XP or greater PC.

Subversion is an important part of the publishing process. WebSVN exposes information as RSS data, which is easy to track using external tools like mail and news. I don't want to waste your time or mine with unnecessary steps, and I'm already in the market for a better tool, but I haven't found anything that competes in that space or anything that's so easy to use as Subversion. Files are organized into directories, and changes are implemented in the form of commits, which are like releases, or episodes in a show. It's simple to ask a file or a directory for a history of all the changes that it has been put through, and very helpful to browse the comments on a file's change-sets, or to subscribe to a part of the tree and watch as it evolves.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday Update

Working on a presentation on digital assets management so I can show some friends how to go about making web pages. Just made a DVD and there will be more information coming soon. The release ID is "RER-0 10-12-2007". Contents include Friday notes, some personality images, and a handful of websites.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ubuntu iFolder Server

Today's experiment: iFolder on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon.

The result: a mixed success. The web service allows web users and I can create users, folders, and files, and retrieve them again. However, the iFolder clients of various versions for Windows (and presumably Mac, Linux also) report strange error messages, and so does the Apache log.

The client reports a bad username/password pair, when the same pair works perfectly from the web login. The server logs indicate a misconfigured mod_mono which points to the .exe assembly rather than a native binary. These may or may not be related; I read an article on this same procedure that says Ubuntu's mod_mono is broken, and this may all be symptoms of that problem.

I've downloaded a Novell NetWare 6.5SP6 installation CD, and I'm going to give it a go on some real iron and give my VMWare servers a break. Hopefully I can use blackruby to see how a properly configured iFolder server should behave, and perhaps I will be able to narrow down my own problems in this way.

Notes from the Gutsy Gibbon installation are included below:

Follow the instructions from Edgy Eft. Peruse the instructions for Dapper Drake also, as some steps have been omitted and may still be relevant. Compiling from the iFolder SVN Trunk was rife with issues on a vanilla Gutsy Gibbon.

First step is to install libflaim, seemingly the database manager of choice for Novell products, or at least iFolder. You will probably need to download the source, I haven't found any working binaries for Ubuntu. Remember to install flex, libncurses-dev, and pkg-config! This was not mentioned in the Edgy Eft installation guide.

Your iFolder compilation will probably fail if you neglect to update configure.in with the following change, something about the Stat namespace:

CSCFLAGS='/d:MONO /d:MONONATIVE /warn:4 /d:TRACE'

If you're installing into /usr/local don't forget to update your PKG_CONFIG_PATH and /etc/ld.so.conf with the appropriate directories. gSOAP will give you a hard time if you have very limited memory; 128MB was not enough for me, the compilation would hang indefinitely on the first large file until I increased the memory to 384MB.

Now I'm hung up on Apache configuration and mod_mono. One can only hope that the configuration is easier on Novell's own platform, NetWare Server. If not, I'll have to live without iFolder for a couple of weeks while I tie up some loose ends with RIT Administration.

Some relevant articles:

Also I should mention, I am in the market for an experienced Novell Linux OES system administrator with good oral and written communication skills. Contact me however you like, nowadays I'm mostly lurking on the RIT Facebook and Gmail.

Yours truly, Kingdon
(thursday.nerdland.org
RSA 0c:d9:e0:c1:8b:da:6d:62:06:ca:0a:3f:9d:85:23:4a)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ambrosia's Andrew Welch and the iPhone

Andrew Welch discusses the state of the union with regard to Apple and Third Party Developers for the iPhone; this is a hot topic with today's software developers who are conscious of the issue of licensing. Watch as the famous DVD/CSS heist of American Digital Liberties returns in a new form to repeat itself, and see how the battle plays out when Apple is in the driver's seat.

The question of the day is this: can we still send our pirate signals over their wireless links, using our FCC approved hardware that we bought and paid for?

Today the answer is a resounding "Absolutely Not," at least not without the involvement of a third party. Their name is Rogue Amoeba, and their product AirFoil enables the user to redirect input from any arbitrary sound source on a Windows or Macintosh computer (any program's audio output or device driver's software input) into an Airport Express. It's based on a software crack called JustePort that was produced by Norwegian DVD Jon Johansen.

Does the encryption layer that Jon has broken add anything to copyright controls? No. For that matter, neither does DVD-CSS. It merely adds an encrypted layer that system manufacturers can use to test for the presence of "approved hardware." What does that do? It enables device and system manufacturers to control the flow of bits, to restrict it to travel across only approved hardware devices, and to establish digital venues in which copyright controls can be enforced.

What does that mean? It means that, because of agreements Apple has made with the Recording Industry, you will have to pay a Rogue Amoeba some amount of money if you wish to use the digital audio output on your Airport Express with any audio source other than Apple's iTunes media player.

Why is that significant? To tell the absolute truth, I'm not sure, but it sounds like it might have something to do with terrorism. To read more about DVD Jon Lech Johansen and his interesting life, visit Wikipedia.

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Fall Reading List

I've got some reading to catch up on, so here comes a brief book-report style summary of my latest internet reading and software picks with a focus on manipulation of code and data, to provide support for a broadly capable spectrum of data publishing, access, sharing and retrieval across a variety of platforms.

I feel like mowing the lawn.

OK Apple friends, the first release of macsaq arrives tomorrow. There will be macsaq CD's weighing in at close to 700MB after bzip2 compression. I expect them to cost about $2000 apiece, signed sealed and delivered. I heard that MD5 has been broken, how come there's no SHA1 on my Leopard Client system?

Novell has released some pretty neat software that I want to try. My delicious feed is busting out at the seams with unfunded projects. Leopard has some neat protection against code invasion... try this, yar yon pirates!

I want to work on porting iFolder Server to Mac, but Novell hacked my Windows Server 2003/VMWare box, and as a computer is a prerequisite to using iFolder (preferably two computers, at least one non-mac) it's going to cost more than that to get started with development of iFolder.

Any chance you want to surprise me with a copy of OSX Leopard Server to review instead?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Nice Dreams

I had a dream about skiing last night.  I think I was skiing, I really don't remember that, really all I remember about the environment was that there was snow on the ground and we were all dressed for the winter.

The little girl wearing pink couldn't have been more than three or four years old.  She was carrying my father's wood-splitting axe, which is incredible—that axe is very heavy, and very sharp! Her mother didn't seem surprised or worried, even after the daughter had taken a swing at me!

I wasn't worried either, in fact the only reason she hit me was because I extended my hands in front of me to catch the swinging blade.  It was a violent and barbarous overhead downward swing, and my hands cupped like I was holding a water.

She hit me with quite a force, left a clear slice above the lifeline in my white leather glove.  Cows and bulls are cute, their hides make very strong organ protectors.

On another note, I heard Krypto is planning to buy a player piano and make it into taps.  Not just one beer tap, FIVE taps.  Talk about the life of the party!