Sunday, November 30, 2003

We're back

Note to self: Never, never attempt to drive on the PA Turnpike on the Sunday after Thanksgiving again. Self-medicate this evening with two (2) ozs single malt. Good night.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

VoIP experimentation

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is the latest thing for medium-to-large size companies. It offers the ability to carry voice traffic between corporate sites over the data networks which have generally been paid-for already. To one degree or another, it will also allow a mobile company employee - a sales rep, for instance - to use an Internet connection to hook up with the company's voice systems. The rep can then literally carry his desk with him, phone and all.

So here I am in the broadband wasteland of northern Ohio and I'm using a dial-up connection to a local ISP. The best connect I can get here is 36.6K and I can now assure you that, along with the overhead of a VPN client connection, that ain't enough to carry reliable, usable-quality voice traffic. Not even close.

Damn I miss my broadband!

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's hoping you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. May God grant you favor.

Master/Slave

In yet another example of political correctness running amok, a complaint was filed this week about the IT industry's use of the term "Master/Slave" to describe a subordinate operation state. For those of you not aware, the term has been in common use literally for decades and refers to the relationship between 2 devices where one is the control unit and the other follows the operational orders of that unit. It's most commonly used in redundant backups or distributed systems where the slave units are to take their instructions from the master units rather than from other slave units or sources.

The story, titled on CNN as "'Master' and 'slave' tech labels irk some" describes how Los Angeles officials have asked their vendors to stop using the term after an unidentified worker spotted a videotape machine with the term labels and went to the Office of Affirmative Action Compliance to file a discrimination complaint. Note to CNN: When 1 person makes a complaint, that's not "some." That's 1. Work on those titles, OK?

As yet to be explained is how a label that's been present on machines for decades and has a commonly accepted definition that has nothing to do with racism can create a condition of discrimination in an individual. What's next? Is this person going to file a complaint over blank areas on a page being referenced as "white space"? The end of a movie scene being described as a "fade to black"?

Folks, this "goodspeak" shit is going too far.

Monday, November 24, 2003

A Change of Scenery

The Holiday travel season came up for us a little early this year allowing us to make our annual Holiday Safari out to the wilds of the Ohio Valley . So here we are this afternoon and what do we see out the window?

Snow!!!

Now out in DC the stuff I saw coming down would have caused schools to close early and close tomorrow just in case, governmental agencies would close (except essential personnel, of course) and the grocery stores would run out of a month's supply of bread, milk, and toilet paper. Out here, they look out there and say "Hmmm. Guess I better go roll up the windows on the truck." Gotta love it.

Justice

I read on CNN where the jury deliberating the sentance for John Muhammad, the convicted DC sniper, came back with a recommendation for the death penalty. The Judge can, of course, refuse the recommendation and hand down life in prison, but I don't think he will. Justice. Glad to see her here.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

You'll do it when?

OK, I'm going to say 1 thing and 1 thing only about the Michael Jackson thing. If I were the Chief of Police in the jurisdiction where Jackson was currently located, I'd have listened to him and his attorney saying he'd come in at a time and place of his choosing and immediately sent my detectives to bring him in. In handcuffs. And leg irons. And there's no way he'd get the chance to come in the rear entrance to the courthouse, either. Were I in the Chief's shoes I'd send a message that when the cops are going to allow you to surrender yourself, you don't string them along and do it on your schedule. Nuff said.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

What is your name?

What is your quest?

And what, you immediately ask, is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? If you're a real Monty Python fan, your answer is just as immediate: African or European? Well, we now know half of the answer to that question. Some engineer with clearly not enough to do has figured the cruising speed of an unladen European swallow and laid it all out just for you.

And if that's not enough, he's also provided the names of the 4 capitals of Assyria. What a guy.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Al Qaeda Responsible for Instanbul Blasts

In case anyone was left who wondered, Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the bombings in Istanbul last week. Heads up, Islam. They don't think you're worth saving, either. If you're in their way, you're just as dead. I recommend you actively pursue these vermin as quickly as you can.

Sniper Muhammad Guilty

This just in, DC sniper John Muhammad was convicted today of capital murder, murder in an act of terrorism, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and conspiracy. The jury deliberated about 6.5 hours on this one and found him guilty on all 4 of the charges. The 2 murder specifications can carry the death penalty. I'm hoping the jury will do the right thing and bring that home to Mr. Muhammad. He deserves nothing less and the lethal injection method used here in Virginia is a hell of a lot kinder than the fear he put us through last year. If justice were truly to be served, he'd be stood up in front of a firing squad. Better yet, he'd be released into an area about a mile square surrounded by sniper blinds. Sometime during the next few weeks, he'd get capped. Making him live like that for a while would be justice for what he did.

Good riddance.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Couldn't say it better myself

And I'm not even going to try. If you haven't been over to Healing Iraq, go have a look today. He's got a synopsis of a TV address by the current President of Iraq's Governing Council about what's going to be happening over the next couple of years in terms of the Iraqi government. This guy's over there, folks, so he's going to know.

Media again spins a tale of failure

Reading a story in the Washington Post this morning, I had to wonder if I'd been in suspended animation somewhere. It speaks of European vindication that the US has failed miserably in post-war Iraq. The story goes on about the widespread agreement of what went wrong - went wrong, past tense - and how the Europeans don't really know where to go from here. One of our wonderful European friends is quoted as saying that we Americans have really broken things in Iraq and that he frankly doesn't know how Europe will go about fixing it.

Excuse me, Francois, who asked you to fix anything? Six months after the major combat role has been completed, 6 months after we started to repair the damage caused by decades of brutal abuse at the hands of Hussein's regime we have made real progress. The USAID weekly report details improvement in nearly every category of the reconstruction plan. This week's glitch? We found out that the members of the Governing Council aren't paying enough attention to the people's needs and are, instead, spending their time improving their own economic situation. The media has heroically uncovered that some politicians are, in fact, corrupt!

Oh, my God. Can it be?

Iraqi bloggers at Healing Iraq and elsewhere have made the observation already. To be honest, listening to them isn't so different than listening to people here in the US talk about their elected officials. (And I'm really, really sorry about that, guys. That's an export I'd not wish on anyone.) And let's not forget that the US also noticed the problem and started doing something about it. In business, not every project works the 1st time and exactly as planned. Most don't. OK, almost none do - you get the point. You try to follow the plan and things don't work. Good business demands that you evaluate the results and adjust the plan. You replace what's not working with something that has a good chance of getting the job done. That's what Paul Bremer was here in DC for last week. He was getting the new plans and working out how to implement them. That's not the hallmark of a failure, that's a good manager. And that's what Bremer is supposed to be.

Reading that story by the Washington Post would lead you to believe that no such thing has occurred. The story operates as though the premise that the US has botched things up horribly in Iraq is the written-in-stone truth, completely impervious to question or debate. From there, they go happily along quoting all manner of people who start out making sure you understand that the war should never have been started in the first place and now that the ruthless, savage, bloodthirsty Americans have come in destroying the peaceful nation of Iraq, well, it's their mess to fix. Oh, but Europe doesn't want America to fail.

Sure they do. Big time. They'd love dearly for America to get beat up badly and become convinced that we can't do anything out in the big, bad world without Europe's guidance and assistance. Note that they don't want America to pull back within its own borders, though. Talk about having American force suddenly vacate and they start going all palsy on you. I love the part of the story that says Europe wants the "American attack dog" safely leashed but not put down. I notice they didn't expound too much on who's leash they want America on. I'll give 3 guesses. I'm guessing you won't need 3.

The fact of the matter is that America hasn't done the perfect job in post-war Iraq. No kidding. We can't seem to do a perfect job here, why should it surpise anyone that we haven't done it there? But not doing the perfect job and failing are 2 very different things and while I'll concede the former, we're no where near the latter yet. I believe strongly that with all the problems we have in there today, we're still in a better place than we would have been had we not acted. That Europe lacks the will to take the risk in changing things is their problem, not ours. Our approach in Iraq will take time. If they don't want to wait, fine. It's not like you were helping much there anyway.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda

It has long been a point of contention in any debate on the War in Iraq about whether there was any connection at all between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. I, personally, believed there was but was hesitant about supporting the launch of the war when it occured without more evidence. The White House and 10 Downing Street both claimed to have such evidence before the war. While I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, it began to look very suspicious as the weeks went by without knowing what that information was. I'm just that kind of American - I like to know why my government is involved in the affairs it's pursuing. Even though I believed that a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda existed, there was precious little corroboration on the matter.

Until now, apparently.

Citizen Smash was the 1st blog I saw this reference on and I have now seen a few providing unofficial mirrors for it. There's a memo from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It is dated 27 October, 2003. In it, in a numbered bullet format, are about 50 points of intelligence analysis dealing with the connection between Iraq and terrorist activities against the US and her allies, most specifically with regard to Al Qaeda. It details the presence of a working relationship between Saddam's regime in Iraq and bin Laden's Al Qaeda. I won't go into the details of it - you can read the article yourselves and get the whole flavor. (If you have trouble getting the link, try here, here, or here.)

Briefly put, there's evidence that members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service met with members of Al Qaeda's officer corp and with terrorist plotters involved in a number of high-profile attacks including the 9/11 hijack attacks in New York and Washington. The memo goes on to cite examples of interaction between the two all the way up to 2003 when the war started. I consider this to be valid information and sufficient evidence to substantiate a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Knowing Al Qaeda's motives and determination to attack us, and knowing Iraq's capabilities and projected enhancements of those capabilities, I do absolutely consider such an alliance to be a threat to this country. It was a threat powerful enough and imminent enough in nature to warrant our posture before the war. Hussein's repeated refusals to adhere to the UN resolutions within the time frame specified were justification enough to act. Yes, I would like to have known this before the 1st shot was fired, but I understand that such information cannot always be released publicly. I am satisfied with this evidence.

The memo, a 16-page document, reads like a general overview, however, and I'd be interested in knowing the full information behind that overview. I look forward to having that information released as well.

Update: 11/16/2003 The DoD has released a statement that the above-mentioned memo was 1) leaked, and they wished it hadn't been, and 2) was a list and description of other reports produced by the NSA, DIA, or the CIA. The reports are classified and are considered to be raw intelligence, not analysis. They contend that the memo released and leaked drew no conclusions. While I certainly found enough information in the release to feel comfortable drawing conclusions, I wanted to post this update in the interest of fair disclosure and completeness.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Nope, I haven't forgotten
It's been a busy couple of days and I've not had the chance to write. I'll try to drop something on-line tomorrow morning. I did some hand-to-hand combat with a client's router and voice systems today. I was victorious, but I'm bushed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Defense rests in John Muhammad case

Well, the jury is now out in the 1st DC sniper trial. After 2 hours and 5 witnesses, Muhammad's defense attourneys called to rest their case. They had previously filed motions to have the death penalty removed from consideration. The judge denied the motions. Good for him. If he's guilty, the only just action would be to line him up in front of a firing squad and have him shot. Yes, I do believe he's guilty. I think he and Malvo formed a killing team and decided to pick off people like empty beer cans. They clearly had no more empathy for the situation than that. They deserve no respect and no compassion. With any luck, if justice be served, any appeals process will be a swift one and these 2 can be held accountable in the manner they should be.

What's in a name?
We've all noted the trend in naming babies these days drifting away from the traditions of naming after family ancestors and religious figures. This story, however, must be read to be believed. And I'm still not sure I do, or want to. Egad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Veterans: Thank you for answering the call

To those of you who are veterans, please accept my thanks and civilian tribute for your service. It is not and will not be forgotten.

Revisionist's new targets: Names on schools

In yet another attempt to pretend history didn't happen so no one's feelings are hurt, a woman in Hampton, VA is seeking to have 2 schools - Robert E. Lee Elementary and Jefferson Davis Middle School - renamed. She claims that it's psychologically damaging to the students to go to schools so named. She says that 94% of the students at Lee Elementary and 66% of students at Davis Middle are black. It's inappropriate, she says, to send such students to schools named after Confederate leaders.

Bull. Odds are the kids don't even think about the names and probably aren't being taught enough US History to know who they were even if they do think about them. This is yet another attempt to do exactly what this woman says she's not trying to do: erase the existence of anything remotely connected to the Confederacy. People - and let's be honest here; she means black people - are offended by the merest mention of the subject and, she's obviously arguing, should be able to go through life without the hurtful reminder of the whole thing. I cannot agree. Her whole premise is that the this subset of our society is so weak, so unable to muster their own feelings of self-worth, that simply seeing the name "Robert E. Lee" on the side of a building will damage them. That merely knowing those letters are bolted to the outside of the building they're sitting in will disrupt their learning and forever degrade their mental processes.

Doesn't speak highly of that group, does it? I have a better idea. How about we have the teachers at that school do a class specifically on the biography of those 2 men? Teach the kids exactly who they were and why they did what they did. Robert E. Lee was no lover of slavery and he did not want to go to war with the Union. He could not, in conscience, turn on his native Virginia and that's what led him into war for the Confederacy. A small side-lecture on the feelings of loyalty toward one's state that was common at the time would also be in order, since feelings of that nature no longer exist, by and large, today. Knowledge is power, ladies & gentlemen, and if you want to make sure something doesn't hurt you, you learn all you can about it. These students - and this woman - should take the opportunity to look these figures in history in the eye and do what they claim they want everyone else to do for them: understand.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Belkin to offer fix for their router hijacking firmware

A few days ago (and on my old blog) I mentioned a story about Belkin wireless routers having code in their firmware that hijacks a random HTTP request every 8 hours and redirects it to one of their advertising pages. Belkin absolutely confirmed this was true, by the way. Now, their homepage shows a message at the bottom indicating they're going to offer a firmware fix for the issue on 17 November, 2003. If you've got one of these devices, perhaps you should take a moment to get familiar with your firmware upgrade procedure.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Miss Afghanistan?

Yep, you heard that right. Miss Afghanistan, Vida Samadzai , was a participant in the Miss Earth beauty pageant in Manila. Though she failed to make the semifinals, she did take home the "beauty for a cause" award. The story indicates she faces controvery upon her return home. During the pageant she donned a red bikini and walked the catwalk just like the other girls. A senior Afghani justice official is apparently considering whether she should be prosecuted for that act. Sure, they've come a long way over there - under the Taliban what she did would rate an immediate death sentance - but prosecuting her for wearing the attire expected? There were other Muslim ladies there, guys. Give her a break.

Setting up a new home

Well, I've been over at Blog-City for quite a while now and over the past several weeks they've had increasing access problems. Almost a month ago they moved from 1 provider to another to get a more stable circuit. Then, I was told, they upgraded their servers and software to remove bottlenecks and improve performance. That seemed to handle most of the issues until last week.

One day I had repeated issues using w.bloggar to upload blog entries. It would refuse the connection several times and then, for no apparent reason, allow the post. Going into my blog a few hours later I'd find multiple copies of the new blog entry. Clean-up was an annoyance but by itself, no big deal. Access the blog started taking longer. Once you'd hit the URL, it would take several seconds for the page to respond. Again, that alone is a minor inconvenience. Then comes this morning, Sunday 9 Novemember. After being able to access the blog with no problem for about an hour, suddenly it drops off line. No blogs on Blog City are responding at all. There was no notification of maintenance that was to be done so I assume this is yet another unexpected outage that is taking them (so far) over 5 hours to respond to.

Guys, ever heard of server clustering? Redundant back-up? A cold spare server sitting in the closet ready to be taken out and plugged in just to get something on the wire?

In any case, enough is enough. I've heard good things about Blog*Spot and there are several fellow bloggers over here already. I'll be moving my operation over here. When Blog-City decides to come back up, I'll be posting a forwarding address over there so people know where I went. To those of you who followed me over here, thanks for your interest!