Ignoring the firewall

April 15, 2008 | technology
The Coding Monkeys have released Port Map, an application to make accessing computers behind firewalls NATs easier. Unlike Copilot, which tries to work around obstinate routers, Port Map focuses on providing an easy and consistent interface for reconfiguring them. It’s hardly perfect for everything—notably, you have to have permissions to reconfigure the router causing you difficulty, making it unsuitable for corporate environments—but I can see it being quite handy if you’re just trying to...

The Return of Ada

April 15, 2008 | programming
I’m somehow having a really hard time feeling anything but dread about the prospect of a return of Ada. It seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to the last few seconds of Carrie…

Some Musings on Backups

April 15, 2008 | technology
I upgraded bitquabit to Ubuntu today. I learned a few valuable lessons: Untested backup scripts don’t count. This one I knew, but I didn’t fully process that “untested” really means “untested recently.” In particular, my backup script was backing up a database called wordpress. Unfortunately, I moved all the blogs hosted by bitquabit to a database called wp last fall. Result? The backups, though minutes old, were effectively from last October. I was lucky here: I happened to have a day-old WXR...

Google App Engine now on Amazon EC2

April 14, 2008 | programming
One of my main complaints about Google App Engine is that it locks you into using Google’s servers and APIs, giving you little recourse if Google decides to terminate either the service or your contract. Well, good news: that’s changed—somewhat. Chris Anderson has gotten a proof-of-concept App Engine clone running on Amazon’s EC2 service. Because Anderson has done little more than repackage the App Engine SDK for deployment on EC2, it cannot scale the same way that Google-based hosting (or...

Parental Views on Video Games

April 13, 2008 | politics, technology
According to Ars Technica, parents would rather that their kids’ video games feature decapitations than sex. I don’t really have any commentary to add; just read the whole article.

A Poor Man's Time Machine

April 12, 2008 | programming, technology
One of the cool new features of Mac OS X Leopard is Time Machine, a really simple backup solution for Mac OS X that not only transparently backs up your data, but also does so with an amazingly ugly GUI that lets you quickly jump back to the way that your documents were at any given point in the past. Unfortunately, Time Machine doesn’t run on my Linux boxes, so I’m forced to come up with an alternative. The good news is that getting a 90% solution is ridiculously easy. On the back-end, all that...

The Ultimate Philosophers

April 11, 2008 | personal
Whenever someone asks me who my favorite philosopher is, my answer usually elicits either a blank stare or a chuckle. My answer is always Bill Watterson. Watterson’s comics meant a lot to me when I was growing up. Even though I was hardly an impossible-to-manage kid (cough), I empathized strongly with Calvin’s view of the world. As a constant daydreamer myself, his blurring of reality and fiction spoke to me in a way that few other works, comic or otherwise, really could. As I grew older, Calvin...

Cold War II, Part 2

April 11, 2008 | politics, technology
Hacking isn’t limited to pro-Tibetan groups; the Pentagon notes that cyberattacks against US defense infrastructure has greatly increased in the last few years. Given the sad state of computer security and the increased use of consumer components by the military, I strongly suspect that the average American would be petrified to learn how many national secrets we’ve failed to protect. For the time being, at least ignorance truly is bliss.

Patent Hell

April 11, 2008 | politics, technology
I’ve been against software patents for a long time now, but when I read about stories such as satellites being turned into space garbage because the only way to fix the orbit is patented, I’m forced to question the wisdom of patents in general. I love the idea of patents; I’m just dubious that the current implementation actually works. More often than not, I see patents used not to protect a novel invention, but as a legal stick to bludgeon small competitors. That runs completely against the...

Cold War II

April 10, 2008 | politics
If what Wired claims about the recent Office patches is true, then we’re in deep trouble. (And, even if it’s not, the fact that few people would call such claims impossible makes me seriously question the wisdom of holding the Olympics in China.)