Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog


May 16, 2010 GMT

 As you might have guessed, I have a lot of Linux-based T-shirts....a LOT of them. And I enjoy wearing those T-shirts. From time to time wearing the image of Tux encourages strangers who would normally never say anything to strike up a conversation. The number of security people at the airport that know about Linux and Free Software, for instance, is fairly amazing. On the other hand, I have fewer outer garments that have Tux or “Linux” on them, and often Tux is not visible as I travel. Another problem I have with traveling is that my luggage style is fairly common, and straining to see whether it is my bag coming down the conveyor can be annoying. Regular luggage tags...
The customer is (almost) always right

May 01, 2010 GMT

There is the old adage that “customers are always right”, and while this is true 99.999% of the time, I have run into at least one situation where the customer was wrong.....It was in the late 1980s, and I was working for Digital Equipment Corporation. We had gone to a DECUS convention, where users of DEC's equipment would go to learn more about using these wonderful machines.We had produced a version of Unix called Ultrix for our PDP-11 line of computers, and several releases of this had already been shipped, proving itself to be a solid implementation of Unix.At the event we had a reception, with finger food, beer and wine and I was standing there, munching some chicken wings and...
A little knowledge is dangerous

Apr 30, 2010 GMT

 From time to time I advocate that every programmer learn at least one assembler language. Not that I would ever advocate writing in assembler language when a higher-level language would do, but because assembler allows you to see how the machine really works, and can help you understand other topics such as operating system architecture and compiler design. In fact, I advocate that programmers learn a little bit about digital logic and how digital gates such as AND and OR gates combine to create registers, memory and other computer structures.Many years ago I started work for Aetna Life and Casualty as a young programmer. One of the other programmers had written a program that...
Project Cauã: Vertical Markets: Help needed

Apr 30, 2010 GMT

 A couple of months ago I mentioned Project Cauã in my column in LinuxProMagazine. Without repeating the whole article here, Project Cauã's goals are to create large numbers of private sector, entrepreneurial jobs as the owner and administrator of thin client/server systems and to make computing easier for end users of all types. Project Cauã would do this by having a trained, licensed, and bonded person taking care of the end-user systems as their business. In a large company systems administrators take care of the systems, integrate new software, do backups, take care of viruses and SPAM. Many times in small businesses and in homes these tasks are either not done at all, or...
IV ENSOL - A FOSS conference in João Pessoa, Brazil May 6-9th.

Apr 30, 2010 GMT

 I have been to many conferences in Brazil, but few have the line-up of speakers that the IV ENSOL conference will have this coming May 6-9 in João Pessoa, the capital of Paraíba. With three tracks, a discussion area and a vendor area it promises to be an action-packed event. There will also be sub-conferences, such as the I PHP-NE - Northeast Meeting of PHP, held partially in honor of Lerdof Rasmus, the creator of PHP, attending the event.  João Pessoa is a beautiful seaside city, and as the most eastern city in the Americas, it is literally where the sun rises first, and for the three days of this conference is figuratively where Free Software rises first in the Americas....
Free Technology Academy

Apr 26, 2010 GMT

 I was contacted recently by an organization called the Free Technology Academy (FTA), which offers Masters Level courses across the Internet on Free Technologies. They wanted me to do a video-taped lecture on “Perspectives On the Free Software Market”. I realized that you could parse that topic in at least three different ways: Perspectives on the Free (Software Market)  Perspectives on the (Free Software) Market  (Perspectives on the Free Software) Market  The first is perspectives on how "Freedom" affects the Software Market in total. Does it disrupt the Market? Does it allow the market to grow? How has the software market changed since the...
Clear-text Passwords In Web Sites

Apr 05, 2010 GMT

 Recently I had forgotten what password I had used for a web site, and I politely asked them to reset the password so I could log in and change it. Instead the site sent me my old password, in clear-text through email. After I got over the shock of seeing the current password in my email I went onto the site and changed the password to a not-very-flattering noun which had something to do with a combination of excrement and the flabby pieces of nerve endings in the website manager's collective craniums. Then I proceeded to make sure there was nothing on that site of any value. I did consider just deleting the account, but I was curious as to how this site operated and how it...

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