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Nov 30, 2006

YouTube Music Video - Sunn O ))) (Live)

Via Metafilter come some links to Sunn O ))) performing live.

Its a strange and compelling version of Spinal Tap crossed with The KLF and someone like Earth. Amps (Sunn of course) that go up to 11, robes, excessive volume, meditative drones and a delicious sense of irony.

[/music] | [permalink] | [2006.11.30-20:25.00]

Nov 28, 2006

A Dirty Question

Charles Stross points out a very scary (and not previously mentioned) tidbit concerning the recent death of ex Russian agent Litvinenko -

If something as difficult to acquire and produce as Polonium is being used to bump someone off in central London (a city where Big Brother is definitely watching) then what's to say something infinitely nastier isn't floating around ready to use on the city - A dirty question ?

[/misc] | [permalink] | [2006.11.28-19:51.00]

Nov 19, 2006

Data Recovery + More

Some interesting data-recovery tales from Ontrack Data Recovery. Remember to always have a backup!

New Scientist - 50 Top Scientists Forecast the Future.

Nice - Postit Pixel Art.

Geeky t-shirts - Pixel-Tools Shirts. Manys the time I've cursed the Mac bomb.

Amusing - Interesting stuff found by Google in source code.

Handy - 99 Email Tips. Some good stuff here particularly for email newbies.

Jason Kottke points to some Logic Problems.

Goes to show that even though its already been invented it can still be improved upon - the better nail.

More oddness from the Kircher Society - Chromatic Writing from Benin. And I thought writing in long-hand was a hassle . . .

Can't wait for these things to hit production - Chumby.

ArsTechnica reviews the Sony PS3. Gets a fairly lacklustre review. I wonder if it'll turn around when the games start to appear - the PS2 had a slow launch too.

Ars also review the Nintendo Wii.

Guy Kawasaki lists the 10 Things I Love About Steve Wozniak. The guy is a god.

Aaargghh - Call my PA. I've never understood the PA thing either. And of course the higher up the food-chain the more likely you are to have an EA. Don't even get me started on 'Dairy Manager'. Sigh.

Interesting - Intermine - lots of home-grown scripts to do this type of thing but this app looks like it takes most of the legwork out of finding where your space has gone and what filetypes are on your servers file-systems at an enterprise level.

[/links/2006] | [permalink] | [2006.11.19-18:18.00]

Nov 16, 2006

Very Metal

Three recent CD purchases that fall (very) loosely under 'Metal' -

* Mastodon - Remission

I had high hopes after some very positive web reviews but I found the music a little disappointing. Essentially they sound like a more talented Metallica with hardcore vocals (eg barked not sung). They're certainly not bad but they don't bring anything particularly new or interesting to my ears.

* Boris - Pink

Again I had high expectations based on very positive web reviews and seeing live YouTube footage. The CD itself is actually pretty good but fell short of the hype. Pink sounds like a heavy Japanese garage rock band (maybe like a chunkier Superfuzzbigmuff era Mudhoney). Apparently each of their releases has a different sound so I'll definitely give them a second chance.

* Sunn O)) - Black One

Definitely my favourite of the three (Boris is a close second and Mastodon is a distant third). The album is basically ambient doom - really really really slow, drumless, droney, heavy and oppressive without being difficult to listen to (depending on your tastes of course ;-)

[/music] | [permalink] | [2006.11.16-22:08.00]

Dawkins Has A Posse

Chris points to a rather brilliant DIY sticker - Richard Has A Posse. If you've seen Richard Dawkins in a recent South Park episode you'll see him in an entirely new light :-)

Similar to the Darwin Has A Posse stickers from a few years back.

[/humour] | [permalink] | [2006.11.16-21:18.00]

Nov 14, 2006

Ms Dewey + More

Certainly if you can't beat google at their own game then snazz up the search interface and hope nobody worries to much about the results - Ms Dewey. Not that the results are bad but it just seems like overkill . . .

Funky - Self assembling robot chair.

These are amazing - Papercut Art.

I use three of these alot - Interblag. I like the ring of 'blagosphere' . . .

Storagemojo has all sorts of good stuff on storage & datacenters - new idea for rack-mount servers from Rackable. Their stuff seems kind of neat - certainly a cheaper alternative to blades. Similar to the Petabox servers used by The Wayback Machine.

Insight into the benefits of server consolidation using VMWare - VMware Both Better and Worse Than I Described. Going from 500 physical server to 25 is pretty impressive. If they're Windows boxes Microsoft must make a mint on server licenses . . .

Interesting - Reverse Dictionary. I find it a little disappointing - the results don't stand out on the page very well either.

Handy & fascinating - List of social faux pas by country/region. Very useful for frequent travellers.

One of many - Zune review from ArsTechnica. Like most things Microsoft v1.0 can be disappointing but if they stick with it then they could be onto a winner. Wonder what others will do to stay one step ahead ?

The first of the Wii reviews are coming in - PCMag and CNet. Both very positive for game play and entertainment value but lukewarm on the graphics.

First pictures of what will be the production OLPC Laptop. Looks so tiny! I think its going to be a hit and if they produce a slicker commercial variant it will sell like hot-cakes (ok maybe only to geeks).

Absolutely no irony in this domain name Official Meeting & Facilities Guide. Or OMFG. Hmmmm doesn't look like anyone has that as a NZ domain name yet (or my other favourite '') . . .

Wonderful - room painted to look like its from a cartoon.

[/links/2006] | [permalink] | [2006.11.14-18:14.00]

Nov 13, 2006

Differences Between NFS and iSCSI

So I've been reading a lot about iSCSI - mostly positive (practical and pragmatic) but a few negative (largely academic or have enough money to go with Fibre Channel).

I suspect people had their doubts when moving from hubs to switches and 10mb to 100mb (coax to utp was a no-brainer so there was no doubt there :-)

Theres an interesting Usenix presentation with a slide on Differences Between NFS and iSCSI.

It does compare a transport mechanism with a distributed file system though. Confusing.

If you use Oracle over NFS why use a SAN if you can get away with a lower cost NAS ? Then again NFS is Unix-centric and you can't do Windows specific stuff beyond simple file-sharing with NAS (eg SQL, Exchange). Many DBA's seem to dismiss or deride Oracle over NFS while quite a few seem to think its a great way to go (although it would be good to read a practical unbiased example that wasn't from a SAN vendor).

The results of the benchmarking in the paper do seem to favour iSCSI in situations where data is not shared between systems and in meta-data intensive applications.

There also seems to be some debate about the merits of using a TOE adaptor in terms of adding yet another layer of complexity between your application server and its data. On top of this there seems to be a small but growing market for WAFS adding yet another layer to your LAN/WAN.

I guess iSCSI has been around for a few years now which in IT terms means it should have achieved a certain level of maturity which should allay any fears . . .

[/tech/storage] | [permalink] | [2006.11.13-20:24.00]


Useful benchmarking tool - IOMeter - ex Intel but now Open Source.

Use it to simulate load and test performance on storage devices (local, NAS or SAN).

Interesting article on how it is used in performance testing iSCSI over a Cisco MDS 9000-series Multi-protocol Switch.

[/tech/storage] | [permalink] | [2006.11.13-01:50.00]

Nov 12, 2006

YouTube Music Video - Thelonius Monk (Live)

I've been watching the Ken Burns PBS doco on Jazz. Theres some fantastic footage of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and many many more.

One of the best segments included a piece on Jazz pianist Thelonius Sphere Monk.

Understated when compared to the more flamboyant trumpet/saxophone players of the era; Thelonius looks like a guy who just wandered off the street sat down at the piano and starts belting out a tune.

Watch his feet and hands in this clip - Round About Midnight (1963). The splayed fingers seem to act like little hammers bashing away at the keys. Genius!

[/music] | [permalink] | [2006.11.12-23:36.00]

Nov 05, 2006

Delicious Generation + More

Rogue Amoeba - Delicious Generation. A little curmudgeonly perhaps - the Mac world has always been a more 'fun' (remember the pointless but fun Talking Moose or Oscar the Grouch trashcan) place to be in terms of a personal computer - but there is a ring of truth to the argument about flash in the pan developers and style over substance.

Via Wes Felters Hack the Planet - LogoWiki and WikiCalc. I remember using Logo on an Apple II. Relive the experience via the web :-)

StorageMojo discusses a couple of highlights at the Storage Networking World. The inline compression looks interesting as does the flash based SAN and free iSCSI server which lets you experiment a bit with iSCSI if you grab the free Microsoft iSCSI initiator as well.

Ed Brill provides a History of Lotus Notes.

Ed also points to a Microsoft Windows Desktop Search add-in for Lotus Notes. Lets you search your Lotus mail from your desktop.

A database of Jobs-era Apple Mac & iPod gear - Designed in California.

A couple of articles on Apple@30 - Digibarn Computer Museum and Woznaik Leads Anniversary Celebration.

Handy - How to talk to a Climate Skeptic. One way or another the climate is changing - people who don't believe that are seriously blinkered. The weather patterns in NZ have changed markedly in the last 20 years IMHO.

Funny - Amusing Icons explaining Internet Acronyms.

While we look forward to some excellent rugby - the All Blacks are learning French. I love the Guardian translations at the end - "You look like a Sheila with that long hair = Vous ressemblez une fille avec ces longs cheveux".

[/links/2006] | [permalink] | [2006.11.05-17:38.00]

Nov 02, 2006

Wireless Security

Some things to ponder

Security is always a trade off between client side ease of use versus protecting an organisations information assets.

So someone needs to step up and make a call - what happens if security is compromised ? If no one is prepared to take the fall for a breach of security due to ease of use then you need to lock things down and deal with client complaints.

With regards to security there are really only three reasonable options -

  • Connect your Wireless system to your internal LAN and use MAC filtering and a WPA2PSK - definitely the path of least resistance. Be sure to change your WPA2PSK regularly and insure theres a safe mechanism to distribute updates. In terms of risk its pretty easy to fake a MAC and difficult to crack the PSK - then again if you update the PSK regularly it is only as secure as the update mechanism. Unfortunately apart from sending and archiving syslog files the auditing and accountability aspect of this option is pretty poor because the authentication is tied to the asset not the person.
  • Connect your Wireless system to your internal LAN, use MAC filtering and Radius authentication. A step up in terms of security and it provides for auditing and accountability. The Microsoft Radius solution even allows for a client side certificate for extra security. Again the MAC address can be faked and login/password combinations can be cracked by dictionary attack - possibly less secure than a PSK but using a certificate infrastructure does improve security.
  • Connect your Wireless system to your firewall, use MAC filtering, a WPA2PSK and allow access via VPN. Probably the most secure option but it may drive your clients insane unless they're used to using VPN. You get security, auditing and accountability - plus if someone hacks your WLAN they still need to get through the firewall/vpn gateway.

There is probably a fourth option - if you are in an urban area you may be able to use free wireless or an ISP's wireless service in conjunction with VPN. Not a good idea unless you have good laptop firewalls and well educated clients.

In fact if you use Active Directory you may want to restrict which SSID's you want clients to connect to and wether or not they can work in Adhoc mode or not. To be safe you should lock both down.

If you do use VPN be sure to pipe all traffic through it and not just an organisations data.

Ideally you would use a Wireless LAN Controller to coordinate your AP's and do basic IDS. On top of that a dedicated Wireless IDS with sensors is also recommended (some WLAN Controllers have AP's that can access as sensors for third party IDS products - its worth investigating as you can save some money). If possible separate out your wireless traffic via VLAN - it makes tracking, auditing and isolation easier.

Useful references

* SANS Wireless Publications

* AD Wireless Group Policy

* Technet Article on Wireless Security

* Cisco Wireless Security Guide

[/tech/network] | [permalink] | [2006.11.02-21:13.00]