Chad Perrin: SOB

20 April 2007

the introvert blogger

Filed under: Metalog — apotheon @ 01:40

Sake-drunk and half-asleep, I find myself thinking about how I present myself to the world. The truly self-aware must think of these things all the time. I, being merely human, only think of them when they occur to me as a result of some train of thought that makes me question what subconscious motives might underlie the obvious. Why do I do what I do? How much of it is for the purpose of presentation?

I find myself at times caught between appearance and achievement. There are things I really want to achieve — but I don’t know how to do so. In fact, there are simply things I want achieved, whether I achieve them or not, and wish I knew how to make them occur. These are the things that, when I look at the direction of things in the world, appear to be headed in entirely the wrong direction. I think: If only I knew the right thing to do, the right thing to say, perhaps I could serve as a catalyst, set things in motion to derail these trends and send future history toward different conclusions than those that seem obvious and inexorable along the current track. How could I help eliminate specific institutions that infringe upon individual rights, like patent law and simple inanities like speed limits? What could I say to induce people to rise up en masse to demand a repeal of the Military Commissions Act? Is there some action I could take to see a return to strict observance of the protections set forth in the Bill of Rights (if indeed that strict observance ever existed)?

I examine these achievements that have not occurred, and I see that society trends toward making them ever more difficult a dream to believe. I wonder — if I don’t do something, who will? Will anyone act? Will anyone speak those magic words that will wake others from their sleepwalking through life?

I find, from time to time, that I want to be well-known, and well-respected. All desires have goals, though — and I must examine these as well. Frankly, I find even the paltry attention that I receive from writing here in SOB can get on my nerves sometimes. In truth, half the comments I get here (especially lately, with the responses to things like my comments about the GPL and the Debian GNU/Linux distribution) just frustrate me and make me think “Isn’t this obvious? Do I really have to deal with this?” I am affirmed in these moments as the introvert I am, but still, I feel almost obligated to respond, to explain, and to clarify. I feel that I must present something to which those who agree with what I have to say can adhere, to improve the chances that they’ll listen to what I have to say and, perhaps, draw others to do the same. Ultimately, this behavior is about building an audience.

As friend Sterling is fond of asking, perhaps this is the answer to the question “Why do I blog?” It wasn’t always the answer, but it is what my answer seems to have become. I’m drawing an audience, and using it. Yes, I’m using you — all of you, my readers. That’s kind of a strange statement to be making, I suppose, especially considering that I’ve been reading about antisocial personality disorder lately (I got a copy of The Sociopath Next Door for Christmas, and while it’s a mediocre book it’s still causing me to think quite a bit about the subject). It’s true, though. I’m using you — not merely as means, as I’m sure Immanuel Kant would be glad to hear, but I’m using you just the same. I am, in a manner of speaking, using you in complete, brutal honesty, building my own audience, adding to the aggregate of people I use to get various messages out into the open, largely for two purposes:

  1. to continue building an audience
  2. to better spread ideas that can benefit us all

If it wasn’t for purpose number 2, I’d probably rather that most of you go to hell than deal with the fact that you’re paying any attention at all to what I have to say. Most of the time, I’m perfectly happy to be at home, alone or with my SigO, where I don’t have to give anything I don’t want to give. Truth be told, it’s exhausting dealing with an outside world. A little stimulation is useful, and this non-realtime text-based interaction takes a lot of the work and annoyance out of it, but I don’t even know most of you. Of those I haven’t met in person, I’ve exchanged words with maybe two percent of my readers (maybe) enough to decide that I might like you if we did meet.

I don’t pretend to like anyone — not even if they control my paychecks. I do, however, put a lot of work into interacting enough so that people can decide for themselves whether they like what I have to say. It is, indeed, a lot of work for me. Introvert, y’know. That’s why I burn out on something and take a week or so off, even when I think what I’m doing might be important in some way. That’s why, when I set out to accomplish something and others express a little interest, I sometimes back-burner the thing for months at a time — because the burden of outside interest isn’t matched by the enthusiasm of enough interest to keep me going.

. . . but, in the end, if I don’t have some interest from others, I’m not going to accomplish much on my own. I’ve given up a long time ago on the high school dream of having seventeen cars and being a multimillionaire while changing the world. Now, I’m just trying to figure out how I can get enough people paying attention so that, among them, someone who can change the world might be inspired by what I have to say.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to run across a few people with whom to commiserate and get along. That’s the only part of the whole deal that isn’t a crap shoot.

By the way . . . what I drank was Momokawa Diamond junmai ginjo sake. It’s a reasonably refreshing and clear flavor with an unfortunate, but mercifully mild and brief, acidic aftertaste. It was evidently a gold medal winner at the 2005 Taster’s Guild International Wine Judging, which makes me think that these people haven’t had the best that seishu (what we boorish Americans call sake) has to offer.

18 April 2007

CCD CopyWrite mailing list and updates

Filed under: Geek,Liberty — apotheon @ 05:22

I’ve updated the development version of the CCD CopyWrite license, and I’m now sniffing around for a lawyer that is willing and able to give me unofficial opinions on it. I’m entering the home stretch for a version 1.0 release candidate. Tangential to this, I have created a discussion and announcements mailing list for the CCD CopyWrite license, and any (well-meaning) feedback offered by those who join is welcome.

For now, membership is open — just subscribe, confirm your subscription by email, and enjoy. Once you’ve joined the list, your posts will be moderated until such time as I decide to unmoderate your account (which will probably require actually trying to post some things for some of you). That may change as the list becomes more well-established, but for now I don’t know what kind of challenges I may initially face in terms of malicious or spammy subscriptions for this list.

Anyone can join that has an interest in the CCD CopyWrite license and the direction of its development. To find the mailing list, or other information as it appears, cruise on over to the CCD CopyWrite website.

The website, as well, has undergone a little bit of a facelift, and I’ve ensured that it’s functional in IE 7 today. New content will be appearing in the near future (you may note that some of the pages linked in the menu at the top of the page contain only placeholder text for now).

I don’t know how many of you may be using the CCD CopyWrite license, or even how many are aware it exists. Now you know.

17 April 2007

Don’t forget your tinfoil hat.

Filed under: Geek,Security — apotheon @ 03:11

A while back, I posted the text of this entry elsewhere, in response to someone who suggested there is a conspiracy of antivirus software vendors. I just rediscovered it by accident, and realized that it’s close enough to a stand-alone statement in its original form as to be worth duplicating here. I have made only minor adjustments — it is otherwise identical to the original.

While it’s true that commercial security products and services are created and marketed by vendors that have a vested interest in there being a security market for what they’re selling, there’s no need for a conspiracy of commercial vendors to keep the state of PC security in such a mess. As long as the Microsoft philosophy of software creation continues to focus on features rather than good software architecture, and salable products rather than fixing problems, there will continue to be a market for security software that requires update services.

The problem is simply that Windows, and thus everything that runs on it, can never really be a very secure platform as long as its APIs and innards are kept to any degree secretive, or as long as Microsoft refuses to fix the underlying architectural problems that create the vulnerabilities exploited by malware such as viruses and malware. The software that protects you against viruses and spyware on Windows systems is definitions-based (as in: virus definitions, et cetera), and new definitions need to be generated and distributed to deal with new versions of old viruses and other malware on a constant basis, which should tell you this: Microsoft isn’t fixing the underlying problem that makes a virus, worm, or piece of spyware possible, but is instead letting security software vendors cover its tracks with definitions-based “solutions” (more like band-aids).

By contrast, basically every other OS in active development is fixed rather than definitions-patched when some piece of malware is discovered that can affect it. Rather than let some third-party piece of software deal with it by scanning for a given definition, the OS developers analyze the malware to determine what system vulnerability is being exploited and close that security hole.

Only the biggest malware protection vendors (companies like Symantec and McAfee) are in a position to affect Microsoft’s policy, and even they don’t really need to deal with Microsoft to get the latter company to keep them in business. Yes, there’s money involved in keeping things unsecured, but it’s not about the security conflict of interest for companies like Symantec as much as it is about security simply not being a business priority of Microsoft’s. Microsoft need only provide the appearance of giving a crap about security, while actual short-term profits and market dominance strategies dictate that its developers focus their effort not on fixing problems but on inventing more unnecessary bells, whistles, widgets, and slogan-worthy “enhancements” for Microsoft’s marketing campaigns. That’s where the real problem lies — Microsoft is ignoring the actual problems, producing “features” that merely seem to solve problems but, conversely, actually create more problems by adding more levels of complexity to its software.

It’s certainly not merely crass commercialism that’s motivating anti-malware products like ClamWin and Spybot S&D, both of which are available entirely free. Neither one of them provides any direct revenue streams for its maintainers and developers.

NOTE: I’ve noticed that while my Symantec series drew some attention from outside my little community of regular readers, it doesn’t seem to be drawing much feedback from my regulars. I suspect it isn’t of much interest to them. This, coupled with the burnout I felt toward the subject through all of last week, prompts me to consider abandoning the series entirely. I think my last post about the Symantec ISTR volume XI serves as a pretty good stopping point anyway.

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All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License