The beginning of the school year has finally arrived and thankfully, I’ve survived somehow. Since my last post, I’ve been busy getting ready to release all the cool new projects we’ve been working on all summer, but the whole end of summer rush only got worse because of RPC hell.
For those of you who have been living under a rock, I’m referring to the numerous RPC vulnerabilities on Windows NT, 2000 and XP machines and the unbelievably fast-spreading worms that have exploited them. As the computing organization that supports the approximately 10,000 on-campus housed students (almost all undergraduates and most graduates), we are responsible for a huge part of the campus network and total number of computers, especially considering 99% of students have their own computer. We had hundreds of computers hacked during the summer when there were very few people on campus and we knew that it would only get worse once school started and all 10,000 were back on campus– over 85% of our users run some flavor of Windows.
But we weren’t too worried.
Continue reading RPC Hell
On the internet, no one can hear you scream.
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– from Angelfire
The Supreme Court ruled today to strike down the bans on homosexual sex– what some states call “deviate sexual acts.”
Well, it’s about time.
It’s been a big week for minority issues in general– affirmative action survives another attack and sodomy gets a thumbs up from the high courts. Okay, not sodomy, but privacy rights. But it’s not as funny that way.
In general, in the face of homeland security and the daily erosion of privacy rights, this week’s Supreme Court decisions have shown that the original framers of the Constitution set up a pretty good system to allow us to hold true to our ideals and change with the times. As Kennedy said, they knew that “times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress.” A propos considering Kennedy was one of the first people to use the term “affirmative action.” It’s a policy that has its flaws, but like the Constitution, can change as our society changes. The Supreme Court’s ruling proves just that– the undergraduate point system was too heavily weighted toward race, but the graduate system was deemed more fair and acceptable. It shows that we do not have to reject policies, ideas, concepts in their entirety, but make important compromises to achieve the best solution in the end.
As Joe Pesci’s character Simon Wilder says in “With Honors,” “the beauty of the Constitution is that it can always be changed. The beauty of the Constitution is that it makes no set law other than its faith in the wisdom of ordinary people to govern themselves.”
I just got back from the ResNet conference at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Yes, that’s right: Big Rapids, not Grand Rapids. Apparently, they jumped the gun when they found Big Rapids and ended up finding even bigger rapids.
During these four days of good ol’ Midwestern fun (if I never see Ranch dressing again, it will be too soon), residential networking/computing groups from colleges and universities all over the country (and a couple world-wide) come to learn from each other, have a little fun and network (no pun intended). Last year’s hot topic was bandwidth and was a pre-cursor to this year’s hot topic: file-sharing and copyright law.
Continue reading More file-sharing madness…
I’ve spent most of the past few Saturday mornings watching cartoons. They’re still showing the old classics and I know what to expect from newer series like the new Batman, Superman, Justice League or X-Men series– darker, more serious animated series that more closely reflect the flavor of the comic books from which they came. But I have to admit that watching other cartoon series take a different twist when you’re older and have a little more perspective:
Continue reading It’s Cartoon Saturday
Today was a “me” day. After a lovely breakfast of Egg Beaters and toast, I drove up to Montara Beach, enjoying the windy roads and scenic drive as I neared one of the more isolated beaches near Half Moon Bay (the main Half Moon Bay beach is more popular). I got to sit there for a while, reading Snow Crash and enjoying the perfect weather– sunny with a light breeze, warm but not warm enough to sit there sweating and uncomfortable. After a little while, I decided to make my way back down to the Peninsula, stopping for a tall iced mocha at the local Starbucks, paid for courtesy of the gift card Stanford Federal Credit Union sent me after they screwed up my automatic car loan withdrawal. And I drove back down 92, again enjoying the winding roads with the excellent handling on my Lexus and looking forward to cooking up some dinner and having a good bottle of wine. The only thing that would have been better would have been having the foresight to have enough cash on me to buy some cherries from one of the produce stands along the side of the road. Alas, something for next time.
I realize that I really do like living in the Bay Area. It’s got great weather (sunny and clear without being too humid or hot), great beaches just a short drive away and city life in all different flavors with San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. It’s a great place to be when you’re in your twenties and looking to just live your life.
Continue reading The Yay Area
While I love to read, I often find reading a new book challenging. Starting a new book is like getting on a rollercoaster. You want to take a ride because you’ve heard a lot of about it or it’s the new thing at your favorite amusement park, but first, you have to wait in line. When you do get up to the front, you have to get into your seat, buckle up, and wait for the attendants to make sure everybody is safe and secure before sending you on your way. When you’ve finally started moving, you start that slow ascent, sometimes the wood creaking underneath you as you hear that click, click, click up the incline. And then suddenly, you’re moving. You’re flying down the descent, you’re upside down and sideways. Some parts you like more than others–you feel like you could ride them all day– and other parts you plain just don’t like.
For me, getting started with a new book is a lot like that. I usually enjoy most books I decide to read, but it takes a little while– I have to get into the groove of the author’s writing style, I need to learn the characters, the world in which the book takes place. Sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable and sometimes I’m a little impatient. Sometimes, I’m so impatient that I end up forever trying to read a book only to find myself stuck trying to get past those first few chapters. And I don’t even think it’s the fault of the writer– it’s just my own version of ADD perhaps. That’s why I often find myself opting to start books on planes because I have nothing else to do except focus on reading. And suddenly, like taking off on that rollercoaster, I’m completely immersed in the world I’m reading about– picturing the characters live and in color in my mind’s eye, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel. And when it’s a really good book, I don’t want to come up. I want to live in that world forever, explore it until I feel like I’ve completely internalized it and have lived the story myself. When the story’s over and I finally come up, I’m almost exhausted. I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lifetimes through that story and have, of course, been changed by the experience.
Continue reading Rollercoaster
QuizYourFriends.com. Create a little multiple-choice quiz. Send it out to your friends. See how they score. Complete waste of time, but very amusing. Just imagine all the dirty, silly, stupid possibilities for questions and answer choices.
Of course, results of the quiz have only proved one thing: knowledge of random factual elements about you is not directly proportional to how close you perceive you are to someone.
Most missed question: “What’s Sindy’s favorite TV show?” Most common answer: Smallville. Correct answer: ER. Yes, people, I have a great and perhaps very unhealthy obsession with the show and its cast. Yes, I read a lot of fan fic and am endlessly amused by the show. But no, it is not my favorite show. Remember: Sindy is about more than eye candy and special effects. Smallville is fun to talk about, make fun of, drool over (thanks to Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum), and speculate endlessly over the Superman mythology, but it’s still a silly show (and lately, a doomed one based on the overconfidence of those who produce it– not that I want it to be cancelled any time soon). The real things that keep me coming back to the show are A) handling the relationship between Clark and Lex, and B) Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of a morally ambiguous Lex Luthor and how he eventually comes to live a life marked by evil.
ER, on the other hand, has a great mix of the soap opera element (i.e., following the personal lives of the characters) and still focusing on the actual people that pass through the ER. I am highly amused by shows like Smallville, but at the end of the day, I love me some heart-wrenching drama about real people, real situations, and real problems. And as the commercials always say, ER is the finest hour of television.
File-sharing is still a hot topic in the news. On one hand, most of the media out there is still touting file-sharing as “piracy” and “theft.” Both the complaining parties (mostly the RIAA and the MPAA) and self-proclaimed file-sharers are arguing that file-sharing continues simply because people can get away with it. Record companies are attributing the drop in CD sales over the past two years to file-sharing, not to the drop in CD production overall (fewer titles) and very real recession from which the country is suffering (which has spanned the past two years while file-sharing has been around since 1998).
At Stanford, the Daily publishes articles and editorials regularly on file-sharing and University policy, often causing many headaches for the administration and legal counsel. There is much argument over Stanford’s, not to mention any University’s responsbilities and policies as an ISP and under Title II of the DMCA.
However, most of this media coverage is missing the big picture– nobody should be talking about whether file-sharing is illegal when it comes to copyrighted material. It’s illegal. End of story. What the discussion, the argument, the media coverage should really be about is whether it should be illegal and what millions of people continuing to share digital music and video files says about the future of file-sharing, copyright and the entertainment industry.
Continue reading File-sharing: missing the big picture?