Archive for June 2007

AFI’s Top 100 Films   1 comment

Corey posted about this on Monday, I thought I’d make fun of his horrible cinema history and follow up with my own analysis of the list. (Corey, have you really never seen It’s A Wonderful Life??? How did you get to be in your thirties without seeing this at least once in the 10,000 times it has been aired between December 10th and December 25th *every year*??? No Rear Window, Jaws? No Shane? What are you, some sort of anti-American?)

My favorite from this list:. “The Maltese Falcon”

From the list that I’d most like to see: “Double Indemnity”

From the list that I most ought to see: “Schindler’s List”

Most surprising omission: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (I’ll agree with Corey on this one) and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

(Seen it, haven’t)

  1. “Citizen Kane,” 1941.
  2. “The Godfather,” 1972.
  3. “Casablanca,” 1942.
  4. “Raging Bull,” 1980.
  5. “Singin’ in the Rain,” 1952.
  6. “Gone With the Wind,” 1939.
  7. “Lawrence of Arabia,” 1962.
  8. “Schindler’s List,” 1993.
  9. “Vertigo,” 1958.
  10. “The Wizard of Oz,” 1939.
  11. “City Lights,” 1931.
  12. “The Searchers,” 1956.
  13. “Star Wars,” 1977.
  14. “Psycho,” 1960.
  15. “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968.
  16. “Sunset Blvd.”, 1950.
  17. “The Graduate,” 1967.
  18. “The General,” 1927.
  19. “On the Waterfront,” 1954.
  20. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 1946.
  21. “Chinatown,” 1974.
  22. “Some Like It Hot,” 1959.
  23. The Grapes of Wrath,” 1940.
  24. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” 1982.
  25. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” 1962.
  26. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” 1939.
  27. “High Noon,” 1952.
  28. “All About Eve,” 1950.
  29. “Double Indemnity,” 1944.
  30. “Apocalypse Now,” 1979.
  31. “The Maltese Falcon,” 1941.
  32. “The Godfather Part II,” 1974.
  33. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” 1975.
  34. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” 1937.
  35. “Annie Hall,” 1977.
  36. “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” 1957.
  37. “The Best Years of Our Lives,” 1946.
  38. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” 1948.
  39. “Dr. Strangelove,” 1964.
  40. “The Sound of Music,” 1965.
  41. “King Kong,” 1933.
  42. “Bonnie and Clyde,” 1967.
  43. “Midnight Cowboy,” 1969.
  44. “The Philadelphia Story,” 1940.
  45. “Shane,” 1953.
  46. “It Happened One Night,” 1934.
  47. “A Streetcar Named Desire,” 1951.
  48. “Rear Window,” 1954.
  49. “Intolerance,” 1916.
  50. “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” 2001.
  51. “West Side Story,” 1961.
  52. “Taxi Driver,” 1976.
  53. “The Deer Hunter,” 1978.
  54. “M-A-S-H,” 1970.
  55. “North by Northwest,” 1959.
  56. “Jaws,” 1975.
  57. “Rocky,” 1976.
  58. “The Gold Rush,” 1925.
  59. “Nashville,” 1975.
  60. “Duck Soup,” 1933.
  61. “Sullivan’s Travels,” 1941.
  62. “American Graffiti,” 1973.
  63. “Cabaret,” 1972.
  64. “Network,” 1976.
  65. “The African Queen,” 1951.
  66. “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” 1981.
  67. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, 1966.
  68. “Unforgiven,” 1992.
  69. “Tootsie,” 1982.
  70. “A Clockwork Orange,” 1971.
  71. “Saving Private Ryan,” 1998.
  72. “The Shawshank Redemption,” 1994.
  73. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” 1969.
  74. “The Silence of the Lambs,” 1991.
  75. “In the Heat of the Night,” 1967.
  76. “Forrest Gump,” 1994.
  77. “All the President’s Men,” 1976.
  78. “Modern Times,” 1936.
  79. “The Wild Bunch,” 1969.
  80. “The Apartment, 1960.
  81. “Spartacus,” 1960.
  82. “Sunrise,” 1927.
  83. “The Titanic,” 1997.
  84. “Easy Rider,” 1969.
  85. “A Night at the Opera,” 1935.
  86. “Platoon,” 1986.
  87. “12 Angry Men,” 1957.
  88. “Bringing Up Baby,” 1938.
  89. “The Sixth Sense,” 1999.
  90. “Swing Time,” 1936.
  91. “Sophie’s Choice,” 1982.
  92. “Goodfellas,” 1990.
  93. “The French Connection,” 1971.
  94. “Pulp Fiction,” 1994.
  95. “The Last Picture Show,” 1971.
  96. “Do the Right Thing,” 1989.
  97. “Blade Runner,” 1982.
  98. “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” 1942.
  99. “Toy Story,” 1995.
  100. “Ben-Hur,” 1959.

Posted June 28, 2007 by padraic2112 in movies

The Fruitlessness of Opting-Out   2 comments

(I just posted this over at Schneier’s blog as a comment to a particular thread, and thought it was worthy of being a post here as well.)

Five years ago, I had reason to sign up for cellular service. I was going to change jobs, and my company-provided cell phone would obviously not be going along with me.

I did a consumer-savvy survey of my future workplace and the city in which I live to determine the service with the best coverage in the areas I was likely to frequent, and chose Cingular as my provider.

Strolling into the Cingular store, I picked out a nice (cheap) feature-limited phone, walked up to the cash register, and was handed a service agreement form that included a field for “Social Security Number”. I politely informed the sales representative that I had no desire to provide my social security number either to the store or to the cellular service provider. The sales clerk (looking at me as if I had grown an extra head), told me that they required my social security number to run a credit check. I reiterated my desire to keep my SSN out of their corporate database, and asked if there was an alternative. “Sure,” he said, and continued doubtfully, “but you’ll have to give a $200 deposit to get service.” Not a problem, said I, provided I get the money back. The agreement said that the $200 would be held for 1 year, at which point the money (with standard at-that-time savings account interest) would be returned to me. Quite agreeable, I filled out the necessary paperwork, handed over my $200 deposit plus the amount for the phone, and walked out a happy man. 1 year later, as promised, I received a check for the $200 + interest, and I thought myself a satisfied customer.

Fast forward.

Recently, my phone (the second one I’d had since becoming a Cingular customer) started dying on me, so I decided to get a new phone. Coincidentally, Cingular mailed me one of those “We’ll give you a free phone if you sign on for another year” mailers, so I went and got a new phone. I was giving up my pager at work to cut down on the bat-utility belt nature of my daily garb, and decided to log into the Cingular (now AT&T) website and find out what my SMS address was so that I could replace my pager number in the various notification systems with my cell… I just needed to know the domain.

Surprise! AT&T/Cingular’s web site requires you to enter your cell phone number and the last four digits of your social security number in order to log into their site. How confounding, I thought, since I have never provided my SSN to this institution, I’ll have to go to the trouble of navigating a phone tree to find a simple answer to my question. Knowing phone trees, I typed in my phone number and the last four digits of my SSN hoping it would give me a “Whoops, we don’t have your SSN, call [this number] for web site activation, bypassing my need to call the more general 800 number and navigate my way to a human.

It logged me in.

I have never provided Cingular my SSN, nor AT&T, so they didn’t magically acquire this data upon some seamless corporate merger. I don’t know when Cingular went out and got my SSN, nor where they acquired it from (I’m presuming some data broker like ChoicePoint), but needless to say I am most thoroughly and entirely vexed by this situation.

Apparently, even shelling out money (albeit temporarily) for the privilege of staying out of a corporate database is a fruitless affair.

Posted June 28, 2007 by padraic2112 in security

Operating Systems Suck   2 comments

Time for a rant.

Brief history:

My first computer was a TRS-80. My second was an Atari 400 (I know, it doesn’t really count as a computer, but it had Basic and a tape drive, so I’m calling it that for historical purposes). My third was a Macintosh, where I experienced the giddy rush of owning a machine with a *hard drive* (no more, “Insert System Disk/Insert Disk Entitled [foo]/Insert System Disk”, pure heaven!) Since then, my personal hardware platforms have been more or less limited to Intel or AMD. In my formative years, I spent more than a trivial amount of time on the Apple IIe’s at my grade school and the PC-ATs and XTs in high school.

Operating systems-wise, I’ve used MS-DOS (3 through 6.22), Mac (System 7 & 9), Windows (3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, Vista), Linux (Red Hat 6, 6.2, 7.2, 7.3, 8, 9; Fedora Core 2; RHEL 4; Mandrake 9, 10, 10.1; Mandriva 2006, 2007, 2007.1, Corporate Server 3 & 4; and a couple of distros that lived and died quickly in the late 90s), FreeBSD 3, 4, and 5 (various subversion numbers, but always -STABLE except one two-week disaster when I was using -CURRENT and nothing worked right), and I’ve even had occasion to log into Solaris machines of various versions.

During my career, I’ve been exposed to various Cults of OS, which historically is a geek-only phenomenon (with the exception of the die-hard Mac Users). I’ve heard discussions about the merits of binary software vs. compiling from source, open-source vs. closed-source, POSIX compliance or lack thereof, security (these have usually been high comedy), file systems, performance, driver support, automated installation, ease-of-use, etc. etc. I now offer to you all The Truth:

All Operating Systems Suck.

Your favorite OS? It sucks. That one for which you harbor secret inner yearning? That one sucks too. The one that you so vehemently and publicly loathe? Yeah, you’re correct there, it sucks. NetBSD? It sucks. Solaris? It sucks. Mac OSX? Still sucking. Windows? Yep, suck-a-doodle. Linux? Not only does it suck, but your own favorite distro sucks just as much as any of the other kabillion candidates in the Linux family tree.

Operating system zealots will wax poetic about the various features and advantages of their operating system over all others. They will do this to the point of utter exhaustion; as if they believe themselves paragons of justice like Mr. Smith, attempting one-man filibusters against the Jim Taylors of geekdom. I wouldn’t mind so much, except all OS zealot are precisely that, zealots. As such, they have a particularly un-endearing trait… any drawback, bug, or flaw in the design of their OS is unimportant. FreeBSD’s sucky installer? Who needs an *installer*, you peon? UNIX’s generally poor file system’s access control tools? What, you’re saying NTFS’s horribleness is better? Mac OSX’s non-existent package management system? Look at the pretty buttons!

Assuming the hate comments don’t bring down my blog, more on your favorite OS (and why it sucks) later 🙂

Edit (24-Jul-2007)

I am not the only person to write a screed like this. Some good posts in these links.

Posted June 28, 2007 by padraic2112 in OS, software, tech

Snippet of Digg’s Dev Profile   Leave a comment

Digg is down temporarily. I thought the “We’re down” splash page showed something interesting about the development crew there. Sort of like the “Employee Recommendations” section of your local book store…

We’ll be back shortly. Digg will be down for a brief period, while we make some changes.
While not digging, the digg crew recommends:

Word to our os, http server,scripting language,and database. lamp-for-life.

Posted June 22, 2007 by padraic2112 in noise, tech

Cleaning House   Leave a comment

I re-arranged my pages and updated a few things to allow me some theme flexibility.


Posted June 22, 2007 by padraic2112 in newsflash, noise

Bad Security 101   5 comments

WordPress now checks how “strong” your password is.

That’s great, fellas, but you’re shooting in the dark. The fact that your administrative login is accomplished over standard http (ergo transporting usernames/passwords over the internet in plaintext) means that you’re just making the end user remember something more complicated while the real threat probably isn’t someone guessing passwords, it’s someone capturing passwords by sniffing the network.

If you want better security, asking people to remember stronger passwords only makes sense if you’re going to take steps to protect those passwords.

Posted June 21, 2007 by padraic2112 in security

Security and Privacy   Leave a comment

A very well written paper on privacy and security issues, by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering’s group on Privacy and Surveillance.  The United Kingdom is a very interesting sociological organism for studying security and privacy.  They are much, much closer to being a surveillance society than the U.S. is, and us lucky folk over here in the former colonies can learn quite a bit about security tradeoffs by examining evaluations of the U.K.’s tactics and effectiveness.

Realistically estimating ROI on IT projects is a supremely difficult task; we don’t have to hypothetically crunch numbers when deciding how to spend “homeland security” dollars when we can get access to data from Old Mother England.  It will save us a lot of time, a lot of money, and probably prevent us from taking major missteps when it comes to security vs. liberty if we pay attention to what’s going on elsewhere.

Posted June 19, 2007 by padraic2112 in security, social