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David Scott Williams' Weblog



Updated: 2012-04-15T18:26:40.617-04:00

 




2002-12-31T12:21:14.343-05:00

If I don't catch you before then,
Happy New Year

I hope everyone in the blogosphere has a safe and peaceful passing into tomorrow, and the year that follows. Perhaps I'll have more thoughts on the turning of the year later, but right now I'm fresh out of insight.





2002-12-31T12:07:18.810-05:00

Saw this anonymously on slashdot


--The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who
run the country.

--The New York Times is read by people who think they
run the country.

--The Washington Post is read by people who think they
ought to run the country.

--USA Today is read by people who think they ought to
run the country but don't understand The Washington Post.

--The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't
mind running the country, if they could spare the time.

--The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used
to run the country.

--The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't
too sure who's running the country.

--The New York Post is read by people who don't care
who's running the country, as long as they do something
scandalous.

--The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't
sure there is a country, or that a country is a good idea
in the first place.

--The Miami Herald is read by people who are running
another country.

--The Chicago Tribune is read by people who live in the
Midwest, which readers of the other newspapers don't think is part of the country.

I thought this kinda summarized fairly well how major media outlets took the "news"






2002-12-27T23:30:59.000-05:00

So...now I am to frisk my family and friends


Yes...according to Amazon.com, I am to call up my family and friends, and ask if they stole my gift certificate. Think I'm making it up?


Dear David,

Greetings from Amazon.com.

I am very sorry to hear about the difficulty you have experienced in
trying to use your gift certificate. Unfortunately, it appears that
the claim code you received is no longer valid.

Please check with family members which had access to the claim code.
I regret, for reason of security and privacy, that I am unable to
provide you with any further information.

Also, please understand that this gift certificate expired December
25, 2002 and we are unable to extend gift certificates beyond their
expiration date. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.


Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.


Happy Holidays,

Robert W.
Amazon.com... And You're Done
http://www.amazon.com

Isn't that just fucking lovely? Hey Mom.. did you steal my gift certificate?...Hey Bro...was that a new book I saw on your dresser? This type of service is fucking absurd. Let me see... I need to figure out one more way to fit in the word fuck. There.... I did it.





2002-12-27T13:48:15.310-05:00

I am reading Gonzo Marketing, too


Just read this pseudo-review of Chris Locke's (aka. Rageboy) Gonzo Marketing, and I think I have to offer an alternate argument... Basically, The author of this blog, Ross Mayfield, says that if too many people read this book and attempt gonzo marketing, everyone will be talking to you at once.



While I think this is a very valid point, I also think that it is important that any real people involved in real conversations generally take turns... The book points out that the new markets are real people, having real conversations with one another. They are NOT popup ads asking "hey, can we chat?"... There is a subtle (or not so) difference, no?






2002-12-27T12:00:08.000-05:00

More from the jungle of Amazon


So...the saga continues... apparently, here's the scoop. According to Amazon, it was redeemed in February 2002. Well... we did not redeem it. (We never buy new books, hence the reason why we waited until 12-25-2002, a year after receiving it, to bite the bullet and buy a few new books with it). Even though it was addressed to us, Amazon will not assist us...here's the latest email, reprinted with permission of the recipient (my wife):


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Your Amazon.com Inquiry
Date: Thu, 26 Dec 2002 20:24:37 -0800
From: gc-orders@amazon.com
To: {REMOVED}

Thank you for writing back to us at Amazon.com.

I've reviewed your gift certificate and confirmed that it was
redeemed to your account on February 5, 2002.

Please be assured that we understand the situation surrounding the
expiration of your gift certificate.

I have reviewed our previous correspondence and your account. Please
understand that the information provided in our last message
correctly represents our policy at this time.

As my colleague previously mentioned, we are unable to extend gift
certificates beyond their expiration date.

We appreciate your comments about the expiration dates on our gift
certificates, and I have passed your message on to the appropriate
department.

If you have any further questions, please visit our Help pages:

http://www.amazon.com/help

Thank you for your understanding. We hope to see you again at
Amazon.com.


Best regards,

Chad P.
http://www.amazon.com
==============================
Check your account and more! http://www.amazon.com/your-account



It just simply seems that we are to accept the fact that due to some inherent flaw in their security system, or whatever, we're supposed to take it up the ass. And no, I do NOT 'understand', so thanking me for my understanding is a scripted robo-marketing abortion. Plain and simple. It is so indescribably insulting to have someone thank you in that manner, as if it is supposed to make me feel better about the whole fucking thing. Someone stole $50 from us, and they have the nerve to "thank us for our understanding"?!



Someone used our gift certificate, and they won't even give me the street NAME (even w/o a state, city, phone, person, email, etgc...) of the supposed place this shipped. But what I suspect happened is that Amazon is not as secure a place to shop (my opinion) as you would think. I personally will think twice before I store any important personal or financial information on their website. If their security is lax enough to allow someone to use a gift certificate that was not theirs, imagine what they must be allowing with your other personal information!






2002-12-27T12:56:13.000-05:00

Use of the term 'hacker'


I think that articles such as this one (sorry, reg. required), that use the word 'hacker' in this manner need to somehow be continually called to task. The article, to me, seems to fall to the wrong side of the definition. A 'hacker' is anyone who is good with a computer (short definition), or good with something else (ie. a 'golf' hacker)... or something more like that. This article assumes hacker to mean the small subset of hackers, named more appropriately "crackers", to represent the whole. By using the word "hacker" when "cracker" was more appropriate muddies the term, and makes legitimate hackers such as Dmitry afraid to call themselves that, because they are afraid of having the powers that be immediately miscontrue what they mean (on purpose) and use it against them. I am a hacker, I think. Eric Raymond says someone else has to give you the label... {his blog is here} so I will not say so about myself for sure :-). I love writing computer software, and such. I enjoy the hours spent wrestling my Debian installation into usability. I just don't like it when:


WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (AP) — A hacker once labeled by the federal government as "the most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history" has won a long fight to renew his ham radio license, and next month may resume surfing the Internet.

(Taken from the NY Times article href'd above) articles perpetrate this mis-definition. I think that using the word "hacker" and criminal in the same sentence is bad for us.



Later:
It seems like someone else (Kevin Mitnick, the subject of the article, himself) said it better than me





2002-12-26T16:58:44.760-05:00

Screwed by Amazon, has this happened to you?



So... we were screwed by Amazon. We were given a gift certificate that expired on 12-25-2002, and tried to use it ON 12-25-02, and it said it had been used already... I emailed them, assuming that someone would be nice enough to assist, and received the following back:


Dear David,

Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.com.

I'm sorry, but we are unable to extend gift certificates beyond
their expiration date. I apologize for any inconvenience this
may cause.

We value your business and look forward to your next visit to
Amazon.com.


Happy Holidays,

Robert W.
Amazon.com... And You're Done
http://www.amazon.com



Well... I certainly am DONE with Amazon.




2002-12-21T23:56:47.720-05:00

Happy Birthday Drew, now... return my calls?


Today is Drew's birthday (a friend from High School and shortly thereafter not, apparently)... It is exactly 2 months after mine, same year. So.. to mr Andrew Helmholtz (father of 2, I believe), Happy 29th.






2002-12-21T23:54:03.000-05:00

Michigan, anyone?


So... our house is disappearing in May, and we need to look for another... Since Long Island in specific and the East Coast in general seem to have been a colossal mistake (well.. I couldn't help the East Coast thing..I was born here)... I am looking to relocate...and my family of 6 {including myself, total good as of ~Feb 10, 2003} ...



Michigan seems right on a few levels... anyone there looking for a self-taught, self-starting hacker?


~Dave





2002-12-20T15:25:07.000-05:00

Perhaps a quote from B. Franklin?


    "Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin



In the post-911 aftermath, it has become obvious that the right-wing agenda of control and censorship has found a whipping boy to, well, whip. The wild ride of the skyrocketing potential for unabridged free speech and human connectivity will be sacrificed in the name of 'safety'. As Mitch says in his RatcliffeBlog here,

This is sheer idiocy, because it will actually increase the risks to the national information infrastructure. From its inception, the Net was conceived as a distributed system that could reorganize around failures (in the case of the original designs, the Net was built to route around damage caused by nuclear weapons). Centralizing all network communications to facilitate surveillance will create a huge, ripe and easily attacked target, reducing the reliability and performance of the Internet on the whole and for each individual user. Likewise, the plan would invade the digital borders of other countries, creating many conflicts that don't impede communication today.

So, not only will we be creating a data-store of personal information without warrant or cause, just 'in-case' he/she is a terrorist, but we will be exposing the internet, perhaps the greatest social experiment of the modern world, to a single point of failure. You see, the reason for this is not to protect anyone, but rather, to control everyone. The Dept of Homeland Security has already gotten some key legislation under it's belt, as specified here.



Doc Searl's Weblog pointed me to Mitch, while it pointed to what I had to say below...



I propose that we start teaching the following:

Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their constitution... it needs it

Instead of the popular:

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country


It isn't just about the 'Net, either. Wholesale violations of our rights under the 'Patriot Act', analyzed by EFF Lawyers here, combined with the Homeland Defense Act, and the creation of legalized violation of the 1st Ammendment, threaten the very fabric of the Constitution. Regarding the Homeland thing, how did your Senator(s) do?. For that matter, how did your Rep(s) do?. Either way, it leaves 91 gutless Senators, and 299 gutless Representatives...
This is as serious as a heart-attack, and if you haven't noticed, your rights are being flushed down the sewer.





2002-12-20T13:51:08.000-05:00


Is this a victory??


I have found it very interesting of the take that seems to be prevalent regarding the Dmitry/Elcomsoft case. I think this is a victory in the way the Battles of Lexington and Concord were.



At dawn on April 19 about 70 armed Massachusetts militiamen stand face to face on Lexington Green with the British advance guard. An unordered 'shot heard around the world' begins the American Revolution. A volley of British rifle fire followed by a charge with bayonets leaves eight Americans dead and ten wounded. The British regroup and head for the depot in Concord, destroying the colonists' weapons and supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, a British platoon is attacked by militiamen, with 14 casualties.


Perhaps I run the risk of sounding like a fool, but after the "not guilty" verdict, I wonder, does Elcomsoft still sell their Advanced eBook Processor? Does anyone else think that this is equally as important as a not-guilty verdict? The jury found that the product DID violate the law, but that the company didn't KNOW it violated the law. That is why they are let off: They didn't know, and they stopped selling it.


So, Adobe can feel that the weaknesses and inadequacies of their own product are still safe from public scrutiny, and maybe even sellable to authors who simply don't know any better than to put their books in this horrid little format. Also, Adobe learns that they can waive the 'big stick' of the DMCA, and use it to their advantage, and still come off relavently clean in the public eye...



So, now I turn to my historical reference. Yes.. we killed some British soldiers that day. Yes, we reached a turning point. But the war is definitely not won. In fact, we haven't even stood up with an army, soldier for soldier, against the draconian government we are now living under. What we have is a law that was used to shut down a revenue source for a company located in another country. It is good that we have not completely ruined the company with fines and charges.... but it is not a victory to end the fight, but, rather, to begin it.






2002-12-06T14:57:04.963-05:00


Fried Green Mandrake




So.. last night, something odd happened, a power surge, and a few minutes later, my KDE desktop was locked up fiercely... No amount of effort could get me to even get the machine to cleanly reboot... and now I have "inode" problems (who'd of thought) and all sorts of messiness with my system... Tonight, then, I think I will install Debian (or try, again)... and get it working... Mandrake is easy to install, and a bitch to maintain... Debian is reversed.



It kind-of speaks to human nature, and all that. I installed Mandrake, because I didn't want to spend the little bit (ok, LOTS) of time that it'd take to get it configured and pretty with Debian... and to a certain degree...Mandrake has helped me with the learning curve.... More and more, though, lately, I've been having to wrestle with Mandrake on this, and on that... And that is kind of true of most things in life. A little hard work at the beginning, and alot of forethought, can save big head-aches and bigger time-consuming messes later. So.. I think I learned my lesson!






2002-12-06T14:48:57.000-05:00

Open Source Blog Project?



So... Doc has mentioned on his blog the article on blogging that he put here, on Linux Journal. It discusses the blogging culture, different rating styles, google, and all that... To me, blogging is a form of self expression that, as my friend Paul says (quoted below):

A blog lets you be your own little New York Times, Chicago Tribune or Associated Press.



And it's not just that. A blog lets people deliver the news in a meaningful way, in their own voice. The contents of someone's blog aren't handed down from corporate VP's, they are the act of people speaking to (and linking with) one another. I came across the blog scene about 15 months ago, and was amazed at some of the World Trade Center and Post-911 'pushback' that we could see. I was also enchanted with the human voice, speaking to other humans. This is a voice that has authority- not the authority of threat or violence, but the authority of authenticity.



Also in Doc's article, he mentioned one of the early blog software pieces, Open Source, and currently not being developed. Since it can't handle RSS Feeds, explained here, it seems like it may kind of be interesting in the way an artifact is, or like my Commodore 64 is. It occurs to me, though, that this sounds like a project looking to be developed further, and two questions come to the fore:

1- Do I have the pre-requisite PERL skills to do it?

2- DO I have the time?



It actually seems to me that the first question is less important than the second... A little research on RSS, some PERL-XML stuff, and we're good to go. This tool, here (blogger), does allow me to speak my mind, but there are limitations... If I divvy up, I can do permalinks and the like easy... but months back on the rent, and no end in immediate sight to the need for frugality, I wonder if a mostly developed open source blog software would be worth taking a little further..



Either way... I think Doc's article is very useful... pointing out some of the origins of the blogosphere... some of the ways that blogs bring their brand of fame ... and a little of the technology, all without delving too deeply into the back-end that the average guy would misunderstand.







2002-12-05T14:54:32.000-05:00

Announcement




Not sure if its a girl or a boy yet, but we are expecting our fourth child, more than likely an Aislinn Rose, in February! I am really excited... perhaps things could be better financially... but I know that this life will be as blessed as my other three, Dustin, Veronica and Sebastian...






2002-12-05T14:58:42.000-05:00

It's been awhile



Just got in touch with Paul Riismandel again... a friend from way back there... He's still in Urbana, Illinois, where I left approx 3 yrs ago.... and doing well... I'm pretty sure this is his blog...



He used to be the "Scumbag Bastard DJ" on WEFT-Radio in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois... The show was called "Just plain angry noise"... Anyone who knows him knows that the whole radio persona was a way for Paul to rant like hell, and get a deeper side of himself out... I guess he blogs now to do the same... as the last time I was there... he had retired from his scumbaggedness the week before (Juneish, 2001)...



Hope to keep in touch with him more (and also to keep this place updated too!~) ... a tidbit on blogging (from the Media Geek himself):


.......


Does that mean I'm throwing my hat into the blogging vs. journalism ring? No. Like I said before, it has nothing to do with content. What's key here is that with both an on-line newspaper and a weblog there is a mechanism that makes it easy to update, edit and add new content.

And when you put it that way, blogging doesn't seem so exciting, or different. But there's an important distinction -- one that has been pretty well identified by nearly every commentator: blogs let anybody do it. A blog lets you be your own little New York Times, Chicago Tribune or Associated Press. They make it easy by giving you a version of the same tools that previously only such big on-line news sources (or good database programmers) had.


.........
(Italics mine)

Read the rest.. its great! (sorry it's sooooo old... I didn't realise he was where he was still, or into this shit)







2002-06-13T01:39:05.163-04:00

More on Dustyscript...


I am pleased to announce the 0.98.0 release of Dustyscript




2002-06-05T18:12:30.000-04:00

On Dustyscript...

Still my current obsession

Dustyscript was progressing along at a rapid pace, and should still do so up until the 1.0 Release Candidate release. My hopes are that this release can be achieved sometime in the first week of July, or at the latest the second week. It would allow for some major stress-testing and bugfixing, and allow me to perhaps release version 1.0 stable on the anniversary of the project's inception...

I have been very intrigued by some of the criticisms of the project... and one or two of them made me think long and hard ...

After searching the soul, I decided that I would, of course, proceed with the project to its 1.0 release, and use it to educate my son in the mystical arts of computer programming. The reason why I embarked on this project to begin with was that I feel that gradually, as GUI-code-generating-abominations are spreading, more and more 'programmers' don't actually know how to program. I felt that, with some simpler syntax, and my flair for the art, a child could embark upon initiation into this "priesthood" of programmers, at the age of 8 or 9 (or earlier??)... And so, Dustyscript, named after my son, was born...

A year later, I can say for sure that I have learned as much from this as I hope he does, and it has been a blast :-)~




2002-06-05T16:30:10.673-04:00

Today is a new day, after all..



I've been in a funk for awhile now, spinning my wheels and seeming to get nowhere... but today I feel better.
Not alot better, but better :-)~







2002-12-27T13:07:04.000-05:00

Testing the waters..


I am trying, now, to publish another blog, for today..

Again... the 3 month hiatus is since March...is that three months?

~off




2002-06-04T18:43:18.000-04:00

I guess once I actually decide on a name, I'll do a forced redirect here, from my old 'blog'...

I have decided that blogging, for me, is more important than creating my own blogging software...

So after a 3 month hiatus, I'm back.