Thursday, November 28, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
As such I have been thinking about distro-hopping. Something with a big developer base, stable but not immensely fiddly to set up and maintain. After many years happily trucking along as a newbie with Ubuntu Linux and GNOME 2, and since migrating away from the "test our shiny touchscreen telephone interface with your mouse and keyboard desktop" paradigm of the Unity desktop environment, I have become a satisfied user of KDE 4 and its Qt based programs. I am much more comfortable with the command line and system management than I used to be. The enormous and easy to use Debian/Ubuntu/apt-get package tree is great, but . . .
As openSUSE is often remarked as the best implementation of KDE I started looking at that. Lots of good things have been written since the release of 12.3 earlier this year. Yast for all the system settings has often been disparaged in the past but upon testing so far seems to be great tool for nerdy total control. The rolling release Tumbleweed repository maintained by Linux hyper-guru Greg Koah-Hartman is also inviting, as well as susestudio. Lots of in depth documentation wikis are available for the things that I do not know how to do. Word is that they have reorganised the business side in a positive way under Attachmate, and openSUSE looks robust and secure as a community and foundation. They contribute a lot to the Linux Kernel in code and funds.
What are you using these days? Any comments or suggestions?
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
But we have to ask what kinds of pseudo-museums these institutions are, because in mega-galleries, quality, quantity, availability, opportunism, and marketability are often interchangeable. One’s never sure whether these are shows of available product, stuff floating around the secondary market, collectors liquidating assets or looking to pump and dump, or the deeply felt personal passion of the dealer. One month the megas show gigantic installations of shiny crap and bric-a-brac. The next month they’re showing Reinhardt, Rauschenberg, or De Kooning.
New York Magazine
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Harlan Ellison has a healthy attitude towards government surveillance. This video is worth watching, though you may want to skip the first sixty seconds of establishing shots and news anchor banter.
The crunchbang forums have some good posts about how not to be a stooge: Here's a security guide, and a link list. And the Debian project maintains a guide to securing Linux. I admit I've yet to work through these myself, but I find them very worthwhile. It's worth mentioning that the default installations of any Linux or BSD distribution are pretty secure. But we're entering a time where it's wise to have some street smarts regarding these things.
Now pardon me. I have to go plot the violent overthrow of McDonald's.
This is one of my favourite David Hickey quotes, it's from this talk (Link., which is part 2 of 5.) An editorial in Salon today about the viability of the Creative Class and its place in management culture reminded me of it. (Link.)
These resonate with me because I have one foot in the applied arts and the other in the fine arts. My role in the applied arts is that of a technician, which makes me more of an observer than a participant in design decisions. One of the things that's bothered me about the design process is the extent to which excellence is not a goal. I've kind of decided that excellence can't be the primary goal in a commercial context because the foundation of excellence is failure, and the foundation of a business is repeatable success. Anyway, in design you end up in a situation where being honest will ensure you don't get work. This is when I thank my lucky stars I am a lowly technician.
A couple weeks ago I tied up my home and work machines rendering sixty colors, eight views each for a color selection on a building facade. Beige was chosen unanimously. Did I waste my time? Yes. It wasn't arduous to make the renders, and I didn't mind making them; it just involved writing a small script to swap out the colors and change views. I made them because I would have wanted to see my options in context, if I were the decision maker. This is the "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" effect.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Postmodernism, the school of "thought" that proclaimed "There are no truths, only interpretations" has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for "conversations" in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.edge.org
Humanities professors thrashing colleagues that stick to Postmodern frameworks and interpretations. Does this mean we can finally have a public funeral?
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.
The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?
The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.