Dave Winer’s reflections on North Korea’s hacking Sony’s network.

Dave Winer, in my view the ‘father’ of blogging has written a thought provoking piece about the dangers of networking in light of North Korea’s recent activities.   I thought this a particularly salient thought:

“One more thing, it’s a problem that some countries are not fully on the net. That means they can attack without anyone having the ability to retaliate. As if we would even know who to retaliate against.”

Richard Stallman at The Great Hall

Last Thursday evening I attended an event sponsored by the The NY-Tech Meetup and Code.Huffingtonpost.com. The event was held at the Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York City.  What was the event, you ask?  It was Richard M. Stallman (aka RMS) speaking about “A Free Digital Society”.  RMS, if you don’t know him, is one of the leading lights of the Free Software movement (what the rest of us call “Open Source“).

First, it’s always great to attend talks at the Great Hall.  Abraham Lincoln spoke there.  I performed Darius Milhaud’s “La Creation Du Monde” there as a teenager with my youth orchestra. (I played the piano, in case you’re curious).  RMS is one of these fascinating ideologues who develop an important idea early on in their professional careers and then spend their lifetime espousing the idea – Like Ida Rolf and Rolfing or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation.  I agree with most everything RMS says – – especially what he calls the four freedoms of free software (apologies to Buddhists everywhere for the appropriation of the Four Noble Truths here):

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

However – RMS *really* dilutes his important message by continuing to bang on about the Linux vs. GNU plus Linux.  In my opinion, that ship has COMPLETELY sailed – a very long time ago. This continued insistence on trying to right this perceived wrong, after so many years, is all the evidence one should need to determine that RMS is most likely an Aspie (i.e. has Asperger’s Syndrome) although I doubt he’s ever been diagnosed.  In addition, reminding the audience that there were books and shirts and buttons for sale every 20 minutes also did nothing to endear him to the audience.

The hall was full – Huffington Post is to be commended for collaborating with NY-Tech Meetup to present RMS.  He started speaking around 7pm.  I left at 8:50pm.  After RMS’s shoes came off but before the socks were removed.  I completely missed any Q&A – if, in fact, any occurred (one can review the video of the proceedings to find out.).

I was among droves of other people who had reached their RMS saturation point and were heading out of the hall after 2 hours of impassioned, somewhat amusing and somewhat repetitive peroration.

RMS is definitely a living legend who has made enormous contribution to something very important to humanity and the world – and he continues to bring up important issues around technology, freedom and privacy – but he also has enormous flaws that, in many ways, make RMS his own worst enemy in terms of bringing his ideas to a more widespread audience.


FreeBSD/Linux Comparison

Google was host this evening to a very lively presentation to the NY Linux Users Group.  The presenter was George Neville-Neil (aka Kode Vicious) and he did a really great job illustrating the differences (and similarities) between FreeBSD and Linux.  One thing he confirmed for me is the care and consideration that FreeBSD has for its users in terms of properly setting expectations about how the operating system will differ from release to release.  They are dedicated to a low astonishment quotient (‘hey, this feature worked in the last release.. why isn’t it working now?!?!’).  Although I work on an ubuntu laptop a lot of the time, and I really love Canonical and the Ubuntu project I have to confess to being a longtime freeBSD bigot. :-)

Recently Discovered Genius – Hilary Mason

I was driving down the Saw Mill River Parkway the other day.  I know I was living to NY Public Radio but I don’t remember which program was on.  For what it’s worth I will say that I did search around on NPR‘s website and WNYC’s website – all to no avail.  What I heard on the program was a woman discussing how she’d used  a publicly available dataset containing nationwide menu data and used it, and a python script to build a tool which dynamically maps the cost of cheeseburgers across the land.  (We’re talking about the USA here – home of the Cheeseburger..).

Basically, it was a really smart sounding woman talking about big data and her github account on public radio so my ears perked up.

Tonight, thanks to a half-clever google search I introduce you to Hilary Mason whose tagline is:

“Data scientist and hacker. I <3 data and cheeseburgers.”

I hope you find her, and her github gists interesting!


The web’s dark underbelly

The New York Times published an article today entitled “Reporting From the Web’s Underbelly” about the fellow who uncovered the credit card breach at Target around the beginning of 2014.   His name is Brian Krebs and he runs a site called Krebs on Security.  I have been a regular reader of his blog since around February 2010.  He’s an amazingly skilled individual and, as a trained journalist with a pedigree which includes several years reporting for the Washington Post, he’s a heck of a writer.  Today’s profile in the Times is a great read.  I highly recommend it, and his blog!