Category: Networking

Putting more words on the big pile of words

| March 17, 2016 | 1 Reply

I’ve been blogging for 10 years at this website. It started off as a collaboration of authors, which made sense back then, in that it was not as easy to create a blog back then, and a group of authors seemed like better bait than a single author to attract readers.It was a good experience back then, and I really appreciated bouncing ideas off the co-authors through our comments and posts. I explored many ideas that I conceptualize as being under the umbrella of cognitive science. Writing about the writings of others pushed those ideas further into my working knowledge–this was so very much more satisfying than ideas slipping in and out. Before I blogged, ideas didn’t stick, and I didn’t have articles to link to my new articles, making both old and new ideas more accessible.

In short, I was blogging for self-improvement, with the thought that many of the things in which I was interested would also interest some others. As I blogged through the years, the number of daily visitors climbed up to the hundreds and then the thousands (according to a measuring tool I then used called “Webstats”). I was inspired to work ever harder at finding articles that challenged me yet were accessible, or at least I tried to make them accessible. I invested two, three, four or more hours per day reading, dictating, polishing and proofing my articles, some of them running into the thousands of words. It was a really invigorating was to become educated.

And here I am, still blogging, though at a much-reduced pace, but thinking that this website is a familiar and attractive place for me. Especially now that I’ve changed hosts, which has sped up the site considerably, which makes blogging seem almost effortless. And as I sit here writing, at the age of almost 60, I wonder whether what I really have to offer that hasn’t been offered dozens or hundred of times already. And upon writing that, I think I’ve identified my quest – to stay unique in my voice, even if it means writing a lot less. Even if it means “reporting” less and emoting more with my words. Bottom line: I suspect that I will be veering more toward essays and observations, though remaining vigilant regarding others’ articles and creative works.

Well . . . that’s it for now. I will be taking some new steps in some new directions in the coming weeks and months, and seeing how it looks the next day and week.

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Churches and Candidates

| November 5, 2012 | 1 Reply

Through no effort of my own, I receive email bulletins from the Christian Coalition, an unabashedly theocratic (and more covertly white-centric) political action committee, yet somehow still tax free (503-(c)4).
The latest email tells people to bring voters their guides to church. Their splash page practically forces you to download it.

I am of the opinion that churches that want representation like this should be amenable to taxation. Naturally they argue that just because every member shills for their platform, the churches should not be held accountable. Can this be remedied?

Discussion?

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End the use of long-term solitary confinement in Illinois!

| February 22, 2012 | 3 Replies
End the use of long-term solitary confinement in Illinois!

Hey all. I haven’t been posting since last summer, mostly because I’ve been drowning in graduate school duties. One of these duties has been interning at Chicago’s Cook County Jail. There, I sit in on group therapy sessions for inmates with drug-related offenses. I’ve been consistently touched by the philosophical and psychological depth of these men, their gentleness and the span of their regrets. These are men who will sit down and opine for hours on topics you wouldn’t expect low-SES drug dealers and addicts to have much knowledge of: gender identity is a big topic, for example (these guys live firsthand the consequences of masculinity). And when it comes to living with shame or regret, these guys are almost the best resource you can find.

The only place where you can find more affecting people, I think, is at prisons. I’ve been volunteering for a Chicago-based group called Tamms Year Ten, which advocates for prisoners housed in long-term solitary confinement. I write and read inmates’ letters, respond to their requests for photos and magazines, and read their countless reports of abuse– from medical staff, from Corrections Officers, from mail room staff, and from the state itself.

Let’s be clear on what “long-term” solitary confinement means. These men at Tamms are housed alone for 23-hours a day, with zero human contact, for decades. Some have been locked up alone for 23-28 years.

[More . . . ]

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Why we must oppose PIPA and SOPA

| January 17, 2012 | 1 Reply
Why we must oppose PIPA and SOPA

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published this succinct explanation setting out the dangers of PIPA and SOPA.

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A Subtle Change to the Way the Web Works

| August 14, 2011 | 2 Replies

A recent article on ZDNet, 10 things you should know about HTML5, brought to mind the good old days. I wrote my first web site in early 1995, back before there was a World Wide Web Consortium, before there were hundreds of thousands of web sites, before Internet Explorer was even a gleam in Bill Gates’ eye, and HTML 1.0 had recently been ratified. I had to manually install a TCP/IP stack in DOS (underlying Windows 3.11), and bought a book on the proposed HTML 2.0 standard to use with my purchased 3½” disc of the new Netscape 2.0. Yes, I wrote my first several sites using Notepad, before moving up to the superior Notepad++. Netscape had some good debugging tools built in that IE never felt the need to mimic.

The first deficiency that I noticed in the HTML standard was that there was no graphical mode. They had no way to draw a box, a line, a circle, or any graphical image except for the img tag to import Microsoft BMP and CompuServe GIF files. The open JPG standard was just coming out. I couldn’t believe it. The HPGL vector language seemed pretty standard to me back then, and has since become the universal vector drawing protocol in plotters and such. But somehow the designers of the new, image-based World Wide Web addition to the Internet had no apparent plan to explicitly support graphics.

Sure, one could buy Flash and embed it as an object on a page. But it was expensive, clumsy, and not widely deployed back in the 300/1200/2400 baud world.

But now, only sixteen years later the W3C is finally putting together the new HTML 5.0 standard, including both vector and video graphics as part of the basic language! Because of the now-entrenched nature of Flash, that isn’t going away quickly. After all, many web sites still use the CompuServe GIF 1989a (formerly proprietary) image format. But Flash or DivX or QuickTime will no longer be necessary to build fully graphical web pages.

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Net neutrality upside down

| April 8, 2011 | Reply
Net neutrality upside down

Today the Republican-dominated House voted to keep the government’s hands off of the Internet or, at least, that is the story that is being widely promulgated. For example see here: House Republicans adamant that the government keep its hands off the Internet passed a bill Friday to repeal federal rules barring Internet service providers from […]

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Fertilizing democracy at home

| March 17, 2011 | Reply
Fertilizing democracy at home

What follows is utterly precious, needing no further comment. Here’s the opening sentence of some extraordinary information provided by the U.K. Guardian:

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

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We Are Not Parts

| February 21, 2011 | 13 Replies
We Are Not Parts

I’ll admit up front that I’m shooting from the hip here. There are many aspects to what is happening in Wisconsin right now with parallels to several past instances in the country in the fight over workers’ rights, unions, and moneyed interests, but I frankly don’t have the time to research them all right now and get something up before it all comes to a head.

Isn’t it interesting, though, that we are collectively cheering what is happening in the Middle East right now and something similar is happening right here and people don’t seem to be paying attention to what’s at stake?

I grant you, it’s a stretch. But on principles, not so much. We’re talking about who has the right to speak to power and over what. The protesters in Madison aren’t having their internet access and phone service pulled and it’s doubtful the military will be called in, but on the other hand the Wisconsin state police are being asked to go get the now-labeled Wisconsin 14 and bring them back to the state capitol to vote on something that is clearly a stripping of the right of petition and assembly. So this can become very quickly a constitutional issue and that’s scary, because right now the Supreme Court has been decidedly against workers’ rights.

Governor Scott is at least being clear. I’ll give him credit, he’s not ducking questions about what he’s trying to do. Wisconsin, like many states, has a budget crisis. He’s already gotten concessions from the unions, a lot of money. The unions have not balked at doing their civic duty in terms of agreeing to pay cuts, freezes on raises, and some concessions on benefits to help the state meet its budgetary responsibilities. But he’s going further and asking that all these unions be stripped of their collective bargaining abilities in order to make sure they never again demand something from the state that the legislature or the governor believes they don’t deserve. In other words, Governor Scott doesn’t ever want to have to sit down and ask them for concessions ever again—he wants to be able to just take what he wants.

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The Day the Routers Died

| February 4, 2011 | Reply
The Day the Routers Died

This cute song is about a serious issue.

The Web is technically part of the Internet, descended from Arpanet. Way back when the addressing protocol was established, they figured that 4 bytes were sufficient. After all, there were about 10,000 computers in the world, and 4 bytes is over 4 billion addresses. It was the standard.
But as personal computers emerged, and then the web grew, it soon became clear that this legacy would be a problem. So in the 1990’s, they set up a new standard, IPv6.

But there are already more websites than available addresses. This is done by clumsily sub-networking most websites. But even with this, we are running out of addresses.

So, why don’t Internet providers simply switch? Much like why we are still using the clumsy QWERTY keyboard standard, designed to patch around a technical problem that was fixed over 100 years ago. The routers are used to the old standard, and are expensive to change. Part of the pain is that the new protocol is completely different, so a router has to handle both and be able to translate between. But change they must.

As of this month (February 3, 2011), every old IPv4 address has been assigned. There are no more. And networks that have not yet upgraded to the 1998 IPv6 standard will not be able to see new websites. Thus the old routers must die.

Most of us are protected in a subnet, as on a home or office network re-routed from a T1, cable, or DSL connection. But your computer still needs to be able to handle the new addresses to let you see external sites that are no longer using the older protocol.

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