April 05, 2005

turning off pings

Okay, I hate to do this but I'm turning off trackbacks for now. The tb spam is killing me, it has more or less amounted to a DOS attack, rendering my server unavailable at least once a day for hours at a time. Gah.

Posted by Gene at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

my psp's defective

I'm very sad, my new PSP refuses to charge. It runs on AC power, but shuts down after about 5 minutes. The orange "charging" LED comes on, but goes away after the same amount of time. It's a beautiful little box, but not much fun right now. Sigh.

Posted by Gene at 11:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 03, 2005

could i please have some more comment spam?

Umm...please? I've only had to delete about a thousand freaking comments in the last couple of days, there's plenty of time left in my week for more. What a shitstorm. Does someone know if anyone is tracking trends in comment spam?

Posted by Gene at 07:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 09, 2004


Wow. This site looks really bad in firefox. Wonder what's up with that?

Posted by Gene at 01:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2004

more problems for plaxo

I was already plenty annoyed about plaxo spam. Now my employer has decided that plaxo is a security risk as well.

Using Plaxo Contact Management is prohibited at HP! Third party software programs that integrate with email applications like Outlook, to collect, store, and update contact information create security risks and are prohibited within HP.

Information Security Concerns:

Use of third-party contact management services such as Plaxo is a violation of HPs policies and guidelines governing the handling of information. These services are not authorized by HP management and appropriate legal agreements are not in place to protect sensitive information.

Use of Plaxo on an HP computer can place your PC at risk to malicious code in Internet and email viruses and worms.

Because Plaxo can send messages on behalf of its members, some recipients may incorrectly believe those messages came from HP.

I bet the Outlook import and toolbar features of LinkedIn wouldn't pass the IT sniff test either.

Posted by Gene at 12:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

iPod car audio rant

Gizmodo has this today: Alpine's iPod car stereo system. This was actually anounced last month before CES (why so late on this, gizmodites?), but it's still good for a short rant.

I don't understand why car audio can't operate under the same principles of open pluggability and extensibility that home audio has used successfully for decades. It is nice that the Alpine head unit will integrate with the iPod accessory protocol, but it's a lock-in peripheral for other Alpine components that use their proprietary communication bus, Ai-NET. Okay, I do understand why Alpine wants to do this. But it's not how I want my mobile media lifestyle to work.

I guess I'm not really surprised; this is more of the same from an industry that has never seen fit to provide an AUX input to car audio, even though portable music players have been around for at least 25 years (the first Sony Walkman was made in 1979). I mean, have you used those godawful cassette-shaped adapters? Or those cheesy lo-fidelity FM modulators that have popped up for the iPod? People, how hard would it be to bring an aux jack out to the faceplate of your in-dash unit? Doesn't this seem like a no-brainer?

Okay, for a more useful, fair and emotionally balanced view, check out this article on the Crutchfield A/V site. Hey, it suggests that at least one car audio system really does have an AUX input (and it's an Alpine!), but I've certainly never seen one. Maybe I just need to get out more...

Posted by Gene at 11:38 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 19, 2004

anomalous downtime, part 2

Totally weird. Just like last time we were away, fredshouse was down and out. Server was still running, local access working fine, Apache apparently running fine, but no external access to the site.


Posted by Gene at 04:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 29, 2003

anomalous downtime

Weird, as soon as I go out of town for a few days, Apache locks up and fredshouse goes dark. I've been kinda wondering if someone has 0wnz0red my server in some quiet way, but there's no convincing evidence, only these occasional, unexplained downs. Well, FWIW we're back.

Posted by Gene at 06:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 10, 2003

Kazaa usability problems lead to inadvertent file sharing

As noted in hundreds of sources online and off, the music industry's strident legal campaign against its customers rolled out this week in the first wave of lawsuits against "computer users who are illegally distributing a substantial amount of copyrighted music" (Cary Sherman, RIAA). One thing that struck me in the reports about individual users who were sued, is that they frequently characterize themselves as downloaders but not as sharers. Many also professed little knowledge of computers and technology, which I'm quite prepared to believe. I wonder how many of these users were sharing files without realizing they were doing so?

Last summer, when Nathan Good was an intern in Bernardo Huberman's group at HP Labs, he researched and co-authored a paper titled "Usability and privacy: a study of Kazaa P2P file-sharing". In the paper, the authors concluded that Kazaa's interface design was flawed in ways that led users to misunderstand and misconfigure file sharing.

"We discover that the majority of the users in our study were unable to tell what files they were sharing, and sometimes incorrectly assumed they were not sharing any files when in fact they were sharing all files on their hard drive."


"The results of 443 searches in 12 hours showed that unintentional file sharing is quite prevalent on the Kazaa network. 61% of all searches performed in this test returned one or more hits for [a mailbox file unlikely to be intentionally shared]."

For that matter, how many of these alleged "distributors" even understood that p2p networks are a two-way street? It's easy to see how non-technical people could miss this concept; downloading is an active process they explicitly choose to engage in, but uploading is completely passive and invisible to the user.

What a mess and a travesty. The individuals being sued have my sympathy and moral support. The EFF has my financial support. The RIAA and its music industry sponsors have earned my anger and contempt, and have now lost yet another customer who used to buy CDs.

Posted by Gene at 11:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2003

please stand by


We are experiencing technical difficulties...please stand by for DNS re-registration...

Posted by Gene at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2003

fixed, plus

Two truck rolls, one router upgrade and a NAT toggle later, DSL appears to be fixed. SBC turned out to have competent support staff every time I called, so props to those folks. But ouch, the startup pains. I can't imagine what it must be like for a non techie to deal with this kind of complexity, wrapped opaquely in gibberish. Although I've been repeatedly surprised and amazed at how much techno-adversity people will endure in order to get the benefits they want from the Net.

It's old news now, but it always seemed remarkable to me that in my family I'm the only card-carrying member of the techno-elite (heh, means I got an engineering degree), but it was my mom that started up an eBay business, my grandmother that became a dedicated webTV email correspondent, my uncle that had the first domain name in the family, and my aunt who met her boyfriend online. Well, I just work here I guess ;-)

Posted by Gene at 11:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 04, 2003

bad network, get down off the couch!

I switched DSL providers today, yech. It took all day to get all the computers and other IP citizens back online. I think I have too much gear. And since I got new IP addresses, DNS isn't resolving fredshouse.net properly for another couple of days yet. So this site is effectively off the air.

Posted by Gene at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack