Ponzi scheme

Posted by Thomas Mon, 26 Jan 2009 12:28:47 +0000

I didn’t watch what I can only imagine was 24 hour coverage of the Madoff Ponzi scheme, but I can imagine that everyone was absolutely livid about it. And to that, I can empathize. But social security is no different, and I think that people should be outraged just the same, yet they aren’t. What’s wrong with this picture?

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment


Posted by Thomas Sun, 25 Jan 2009 16:28:30 +0000

A couple of weeks ago, I had an awesome idea (well of course I think it’s awesome, it’s my idea). Laurie was having some egregious virus/spyware problems. Problems almost to the point where I thought she’d either have to reinstall or take it somewhere and spend $$$. In the end, though, she was able to get it righted, and last I heard, all was mostly right with the world.

Several years ago I ran across Netsquid. Basically it “takes an Intrusion Detection System like Snort and transform it into an Intrusion Prevention System”. It sits between the internet and your computer, and tries its best to keep you from getting viruses, alerts you when you have one, and will shut you off from the network if you do have one.

I’d sort of forgotten about my idea, but recently there have been some very widespread viral activity. And since Microsoft seems neither to be able find a decent security model, nor find themselves with dwindling consumer market share, I ask myself, why haven’t all of the broadband router companies put this sort of functionality into their routers?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have Linux looking after you, even if your machine is running Windows? The virus protection is super easy and simple, as there are multiple anti-virus products for linux that are well maintained. Spyware gets more tricky, as I don’t think there are any decent spyware detectors for linux. Basically this device would act as your router, inspecting all of your traffic, disallowing viruses and spyware to enter your network, watching out for suspicious outgoing network activity (like noticing c&c traffic or secondary payloads), alerting you to the fact that there’s a problem, cutting you off from the internet (and possibly segregating you off from the rest of the local network), and keep you from visiting phishing sites (via Google’s Safe Browsing initiative). It’s like a trifecta of virus, spyware, and phishing protection.

Technically it’s probably pretty simple to whip up, but nothing I would feel like supporting for 100 million people. Anyone who reads this, implements it, and becomes rich off of it, please grant me some slice of the pie. :) kthxbye

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The world is my rss feed

Posted by Thomas Sun, 18 Jan 2009 00:01:05 +0000

I don’t really get some of the current movement to open the borders between the current glut of the web’s social apps. From what I’ve seen, most federation revolves around me being able to use, say, my Facebook profile to interact with my friends on Myspace. I don’t get that — I don’t grok it. Standards have, of course, been the reason why the internet works, and why you can send email from a yahoo account to a gmail account. And that’s all well and good, and if you can get that to work, then I guess I’ll applaud your achievement.

But at the end of the day, you still have all of your data in commercial silos, where they want to own the data you’ve inputted, all of your relationships to your friends, your photos, your videos, basically any content you create on their site. I find great offense at that.

One thing that I’ve learned over the past several years is that creating change is hard, and usually virtually impossible. Getting these different commercial entities to agree on common interoperability standards must be analogous to an act of congress, as well as getting them to maintain that interoperability, in light of a quickly changing web 2.0 landscape.

Which is why I’ve grown to understand why papa Goog used rss and atom as the basis for their gdata api. I think that more often than not, black swans will leap out at you and dominate the landscape. I would classify the success of http and rss as one of these. I doubt if they tried again, that they would receive the same amount of adoption. Take ipv6 as an example of a technology that’s good, but hasn’t yet received widespread adoption, even in light of the dire consequences of non-adoption.

Which is why, if I had my way, I’d just stand on the shoulders of the http and rss giants to achieve my open, social web (not to be confused with opensocial). As I’ve mentioned before, it seems to me that if sites were to publish rss feeds of everything, that an aggregator app would be able to scrape these feeds to get a complete view of the world. Why do I need to build this complex interoperability, this ability from my facebook account to post on your myspace, when honestly all we want are common data apis?

Given: Everyone has an openid uri, and associates it with every social web app they use.
Given: I am able to get comments and entity feeds of everything that’s basically “posted” online.
Given: I publish a list of all of my friends by their openid (read: foaf).

Use case:
Marc posts an new photo on Flickr. I log into flickr with my openid, and post a comment on this new pic. My personal aggregator crawls Flickr, getting all of the new pics that all of my friends have posted, and all of the comments that they’ve made recently. Give these two sets of data, you can then go back to flickr to find additional supplemental data surrounding the original data. Given that rss/atom feeds are standard, and that additional xml namespaces are standards as well, it should be reasonable to, given the “type” of feed, to present all of this data in an attractive way, analogous to Friendfeed. You have, then, all of the comments that your friends have made on flickr recently (in context with the actual picture), and vice versa for your friends’ photos (and subsequently those photos comments). This extends to anything you post because everything is an “entry”. The only thing that’s left is how you’d like to present your data. Digg has already started a de facto standard for how to tell a third party what the thumbnail should be for an arbitrary web page, and I think rss and atom have had support for this for quite some time.

If the presentation is left as an exercise to the user, and the original feeds expose enough information for third parties to then, say, post new comments to an entry, then you are able to get away from Friendfeed’s current model of having comments on Friendfeed, instead of where the probably should be, which is the site of the original entry’s content. Why on earth would you want to have two entirely separate sets of comments about a single photo on flickr? In allowing people to comment or favorite Flickr entries on Friendfeed, Friendfeed itself becomes a walled garden. What do I use to aggregate what amounts to original content on Friendfeed?

Anyway, I guess the actionstream project does this to some degree, and they are thinking a lot about it, and they say that 2009 will be a great year, and while I hope they’re right, I won’t be holding my breath.

Posted in Technology | 1 Comment


Posted by Thomas Sat, 17 Jan 2009 17:48:23 +0000

is in awe and utter bewilderment at his uncanny ability to literally and always lose a screw when working on the rear passenger tail light. :(

How these screws fall into the 12th dimension I’ll never know. At least this time, some hard rocking revealed its hiding place. Now if only that other screw would turn up, the tail light would be whole again.

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Posted by Thomas Fri, 16 Jan 2009 23:59:54 +0000

I had an itch to play with sip, so I built a new xen host and installed asterisk. I think to myself, self, asterisk has been around for quite some time, and while everyone says its really hard to configure, surely by now, there are some very straightforward guides that should get me up and running, making my first call within minutes. Now 1 don’t call me Shirley, and 2, apparently not. A quickstart guide should be something like:

* apt-get install asterisk asterisk-sounds-extra
* configure a barebones config
* apt-get install linphone (or your sip client of choice) on your client
* make a call (when I call, who am I, who am I calling, what’s the format of the @ syntax, which server settings do I use?)

Since I did eventually figure it out, the answers to the above questions would be:
* apt-get install asterisk asterisk-sounds-extra (same as above — don’t know if you need the -sounds-extra package, but it probably won’t hurt)
* configure a barebones config debian sufficiently configures it
* apt-get install linphone (same as above)
* make a proof of concept call to sip:1000@asterisk (1000@ is the demo, which will talk to you and walk you through a demo; after the @ sign, you use the ip or dns name of your server — mine’s in dns as ‘asterisk’)

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Posted by Thomas Sun, 11 Jan 2009 15:55:22 +0000

Who wants to go for a week, one of the middle two weeks in March, to see Rob?

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New Year’s Theme

Posted by Thomas Thu, 01 Jan 2009 15:20:45 +0000

My late lunch left me wanting a late dinner. Why didn’t anyone warn me that most of the eateries would be closed? Shoney’s and Waffle House were open, but none of the fast food joints. :(

I won’t offer up a resolution this New Year’s Eve, as I think they are dumb, ’cause it’s just bad form to make a promise you know you won’t keep. Instead I offer a theme. Ever since Chicago, I’ve thought a lot about whether or not I’m happy about the choices I’ve made thus far as a grown-up. I’m blindingly single, don’t have any world changing accomplishment to speak of, and am probably past my prime. My hair’s thinning, my teeth are getting sensitive, and my body aches a little more than it used to. And two out of the previous three things are directly due to choices I made. I could be using Rogaine to stem the tide of hair loss, and if I was more active, I probably wouldn’t sit still as much, so when I did, I wouldn’t be as stiff.

I distinctly remember reading the book that Greg mentioned, “How to get a date worth keeping, Be dating in six months or your money back”, and thinking to myself how I was utterly unwilling to do the really quite reasonable things the book told you to do. I forget now, but my takeaway from it was basically, meet women, lots and lots of women. That it’s an odds game, and the more you meet, the more likely you’ll become to roll that 0.000000X% chance per person up into a whole person.

Sitting in the Amarillo and DFW airports for Christmas, I was not only being conscious of the beautiful women around me, but also of the men they’re with. What would it take to become par with the sort of men those women are with? As Max would attest, it’s been a long road in changing my appearance. I’m sure he’d mention the hat and the glasses and the t-shirts and the shorts. I rarely wear my hat, the glasses are different, I normally wear jeans nowadays, but I still wear lots of t-shirts. And those things are not earth shattering in and of themselves by any means. I’ve watched “What Not to Wear” a little more than I should and have seen people transform their emotional well being along with their wardrobe, if only for a little while. And seeing all too many beautiful women with their husbands (you should search Youtube for awesome first dances at wedding receptions), I can’t help but wonder if I am honestly at a point where I’d be willing to transform myself into something the women that I want, want. And whether or not I could be genuinely and sufficiently comfortable with and sell whatever form that change might take, and whether they’d be receptive to something that doesn’t come by me naturally.

And so all of these things, and even some others, lead me to my point and theme, which is unscrupulously taken from Gandhi. The quote was on the tip of my mind, but I was unable to actually remember it and the internets doth provide:

We must become the change we want to see in the world.

But in my case, it is not the change I desire to see in the world, rather the change I desire to see in myself. I’m not sure how a selection from this quote speaks more to me, but somehow “becoming the change I want to see” seems more poignant than just “change” or “do”. Somehow it evokes to me a sense of empowerment. Somehow something more than just concentration on a of series of obstacles to overcome. But in the same way we do not look at our feet to walk, rather we afix our eyes on our goal, our destination, and the rest comes naturally.

So that is my theme: “become the change you wish to see”. Change not for its own sake, but for a purpose. Though no thing worth doing is ever easy, my sincere hope is that change comes easily when you genuinely desire it. Change that comes as reflexively as breathing or catching a ball. Not fleeting change you believe in, hope for, or desire, but rather change we know we must achieve if we are to achieve anything else.

Posted in General, Women | 1 Comment