Archive for May, 2008 gets DoS’d – is the RIAA behind it?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008 statement is here.

It has been reported by that the DoS came from MediaDefender, a company that has been hired by the RIAA and MPAA in the past for the purpose of stopping filesharing. While they appear to be in violation of 18 USC 1030, it is unsure if charges will be brought against MediaDefender. Or, if it can be proven that the RIAA and/or MPAA requested the DoS attack, that charges will be brought against the RIAA/MPAA.

They are, I hope, filing criminal charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse act, as well as filing a civil suit demanding damages.

What can Linux do that Windows can’t?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

So I will ask, give us even one example of something that Linux is capable of that Windows is not capable of doing.

I suppose you mean at a desktop computer, because otherwise one could go endlessly about all the embedded uses of Linux. Considering applications, I would say both systems are pretty much equivalent these days. I can’t think of any application in either Linux or Windows that doesn’t have an equivalent in the other system. I mean other than viruses, of course, that seems to be a category of “applications” where Linux is still very much behind… 😉

The biggest advantage of Linux over Windows for me is ease of use and that seems to be an interesting advantage, because Windows is predominantly GUI oriented. A graphic interface is better for some jobs, a text interface is better for others, just like a spoon is better for eating soup and a fork is better for steak.

Try to automate any task in Windows, it’s a real pain in the ass. Programmers often end doing things through kludges like Excel macros for the lack of a good text-based interface. For instance, let’s say you were sent a project that has dozens of directories with thousands of files in it. Let’s say you want to rename all *.jpeg files to *.jpg. How would you do that in Windows? In VMS that would be a piece of cake, in a Unix system it’s more complicated, for i in *.jpeg; do mv $i `echo $i | sed s/jpeg$/jpg/ – ` ; done or something like that would do it, but the easiest way to do it in Windows that I can think of would be a VB program.

Ironically, ease of installation, which is often cited by XP users as an advantage of Windows over Linux, seems to be one of the areas where Linux shines. I have created a standard system configuration script with a dozen or so functions, one for each type of application. There are functions for DVD playing, scientific applications, office applications, graphics, development, electronic circuits design, etc. When I install a Linux system, I install the basic system and run my script, after uncommenting the function calls for the types of applications I want in that computer. Then it’s just a matter of waiting until apt-get does its job. No need to insert CDs, no need to click anywhere, no need to run setup.exe, no need to mix and match all the *.DLL files each application expects and best of all, no reboots after installation.

I think both Linux and Windows have made progress in the last ten years, and one should always consider that. It’s stupid to compare Kubuntu with Windows95, or XP with a terminal-based Linux install. But in my opinion, Linux has evolved much more – both because Windows was more mature ten years ago and because Linux has some real advantages. I think being an open and free system is an advantage in that people make it evolve towards what the users prefer, rather than what marketing decides. Another advantage is that Unix has an excellent basic conception. Windows evolved over DOS, a system whose basic conception was to make it run in the available hardware of 1981. The emphasis on GUI solutions, the lack of a good scripting system language, and the need to maintain compatibility with the DOS roots are limitations that make Windows inferior to Linux.

The Social Security Number problem solved (sort of)

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

The Social Security Administration doesn’t accept paranoia as a criterion for granting a new card, but it recognizes cultural objections and religious pleas. One stratagem: Contend that your credit has been irrevocably damaged by a number-related snafu, or that you live in fear of a stalker who knows your digits.

Once you switch your SSN, never use it. Then use the fake one of 078-05-1120. It’s a specimen number from the Eisenhower era. No need to give your correct number to the cable or phone company. They don’t need it. Period. Of course it’s possible that someone else has used this number already, but so what.

The only people who need your SSN is your employer because they have to make the contributions. Your bank doesn’t need it – they, as well as your mortgage company , broker, etc., can use a Taxpayer ID # to create 1099s and such for the IRS. And health insurance companies have no shittin’ business with your SS#, not to mention the galactic stupidity of putting it right on your ID card.

When someone asks me for the last 4 digits of my SSN, I ask them to use another secrity key. if they can’t, I don’t do business with them.

Anyway, using a SSN+address for authentication is as ridiculous as using a username+IPAddress alone for online banking.

I wonder why more companies/organizations don’t realize this, and any step to educate them is a step in the right direction.

The answer is easy: They do realize it.

They just don’t care because the current system minimizes their financial losses by transfering those losses to the individual who has his/her identity “stolen”.

Making any changes would cost money which reduces profits.

Any changes that improved the situation could be used to find them responsible when/if their new system is defrauded.

So, fixing the system is, from the individual company’s point of view, all loss and no gain.