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

Computer Security 101 – Sysinternals Walkthrough   Leave a comment

I’ve talked about Sysinternals before, but Digg pointed me at this blog post this morning that has a nice, screenshot-supported walkthrough detailing how to use the Sysinternals utilities to remove spyware.

If you want a step-by-step introduction to poweruser tools for Microsoft that are freely accessible, I recommend checking this post out.

Posted June 19, 2007 by padraic2112 in freeware, software, tech

10 points of blogging etiquette   4 comments

These haven’t happened too much on this blog (my popularity is obviously not breaking wordpress bandwidth bills), but I see various types of this behavior running rampant on other, more popular blogs. A variant of this list used to be titled “Reasons I don’t read Slashdot anymore”.

People, if you’re going to go to the trouble of reading a blog post, and furthermore you’re going to trouble yourself to post a comment, please follow these simple rules:

1. Use your spell-checker. I’m not a great speller either, consider this a self-improvement project. It’s your gift to the Internet community. Limit your use of creative grammar.

2. Don’t use words you don’t understand. Don’t quote statistics unless you know something about statistics. Don’t quote facts unless you provide context.

3. Read many somethings about a subject before you start commenting upon it.

4. Learn what fallacious arguments are. Particularly if you’re going to post to political blogs.

5. Read the already-posted comment thread. If someone has already pointed out a trivial error in the original post, don’t repeat it. If it is an egregious error (one that significantly impacts the value or correctness of the original post) that is already commented upon, cite the original comments and say “I agree with posters Alice, Bob, and Bruce, your argument is flawed”. The Internet is supposed to be a community, engage in community building. If you just repeat what Alice, Bob, and Bruce have already said without acknowledging them, you’re plagiarizing.

6. Don’t comment when you’re angry about something that’s not related to the blog you’re reading. If you caught your boyfriend cheating last night, your coworker claiming credit for your project this morning, and you spilled coffee on your favorite outfit at break, save your commenting for when you’re not monumentally grumpy at the entire world.

7. Admit your mistakes when someone corrects you, and (more difficult) acknowledge points of contention that you can’t refute. Everybody has a post/comment or three they’d like to retract. If you’re in an argument with someone and they have a point you can’t contest except with belief, acknowledge that and move on.

8. Don’t comment just to drive traffic to your own site. It’s crass.

9. Use PG language by default. Unless you’re posting/commenting on an R-rated blog, try and imagine that your mother, your grandmother, your boss, your significant other, and your present/future children are all reading your post over your shoulder. (note – if that process of imagining doesn’t change your default behavior in the slightest, you’re probably a jackass.)

10. Invective is the privilege of the blog owner. If you find someone’s post to be violently offensive to your sensibilities, post your own argument on your own blog and link to the original blogger or comment. Don’t start flamewars in someone else’s comment thread. Even if the blog owner/commenter is a total jackass, it’s impolite to engage in a mudslinging fight in someone else’s house.

Posted June 18, 2007 by padraic2112 in noise, social, tech

Public Speaking   3 comments

Anyone who’s in my MSIS track will readily admit that I have no problem tossing in my $0.02 in general discussion. I think that I’m a decent “presenter”, as well (although like everyone else I do have some weak areas that I’m working on improving.)

I *do* know that a great many of those in the IT field qualify as marginal-to-poor public speakers… and in particular, the ability to give a well thought out and compelling presentation is decidedly rare. In case you’ve been sequestered in an Ivory Tower for your lifetime, let me gently inform you that merit is not everything. This is a real problem in my field, because like it or not, the ability to communicate an idea via a formal presentation is critical in the way organizations do business. If you can’t make a good presentation, your idea is going to go down the tubes.

Tips for IT folks who want to develop this skill: First, watch An Inconvenient Truth. Don’t watch it for the content (compelling though it is), watch it for the presentation. Al Gore does a tremendous job of balancing raw data and information without sacrificing audience connection. Charts and graphs are naturally boring unless you’re a math geek or an accountant, but Al’s presentation of charts and graphs in the film is masterly. Then read this post. Also this post, if you’re presenting to an action committee (as opposed to a conference) – Rand’s classifications of meeting-attendees archtypes isn’t perfect, but the idea is to get you thinking about your audience.

Posted June 12, 2007 by padraic2112 in management