August 28, 2003
So there I am, synchronizing my Palm to my calendar...(Let's just pause a moment to think just how BIZARRE that sounds to the non-computer literate), and as happens sometimes, I see reminders of past events that I haven't deleted.
It's kind of cool, because it's a way to see what you were doing a few years ago...almost like an album. But there's one entry that always makes me pause...a reminder to be at the airport to catch a flight out of Logan (Boston), to a Mac OS X Server class in Reston VA....on Sept. 10th, 2001.
Yeah, it gives me a bit of the creepy crawlies too. Even more so, since my luggage was messed up, and came in at 5am, on 9/11.
I remember the poor instructor doing a real bang-up job of getting through the class during that chaos, and driving home from VA, right by Manhattan, on like the 15th. So the smoke cloud was still there, and kids, lemme tell you, it REEKED.
But the mind likes to play "What if".
I was on a United flight, if I recall correctly.
It's weird, the way the mind works in certain situations. What if the class had started a day later? What if I had been on one of the four planes? I didn't miss it by much.
We like to think that we'd be all brave and heroic and crap. We like to think that somehow we'd have made a difference. That we would have been the thing that could have prevented tragedy. And I have spent much of the last decade and a half learning things about fighting. I know how to fly a plane well enough to hopefully not die if I have to put it to the test. But could anyone have made a difference?
Whenever I see that, I wonder, what would I have done? Would I have even realized that this was not a typical hostage flight? Would I have called family? Friends? Let them know that this may be the last time I talk to anyone? Asked them to tell my son just how much I love him, and how he made my world such a terrifying and wonderful place?
Or would I have waited until I knew more. Had more data. I'm a geek, and a defensive fighter at heart. I don't like comitting until I know. So maybe I wouldn't have done anything but remain calm. Hell, I probably would have been asleep, it's my natural reaction to everything.
But I think of everyone I've met since 9/11/2001. I think of all the amazing stuff, good and bad that's happened. That wouldn't exist, because I would have ceased to exist one fine morning.
But I flew a day earlier.
THAT dear reader, is what keeps me awake at night.
john| Comments ()
August 23, 2003
So I'm listening to "Moby Dick" off of "How the West Was Won", the CD set based on two concerts by Led Zeppelin in 1972. The cut is around 19 minutes long, and almost all of it is nothing but John Bonham's hands and feet. No computer electronic backup, no electronic drums to provide fill. If you get the DVD set that was released at the same time, and look at the concert footage, you realize that for the most part, his drum kit was not much more extensive than any typical garage band kit.
Yet to hear him play is to feel God almost. It's relentless, it assaults, it swings.
The only problem is, after listening to that, modern bands make you want to vomit. But I really don't think it's a matter of talent. There are some bands, like No Doubt, or Jiggle The Handle, that I think, in their own way, can hold their own against Zeppelin, or Aerosmith, or anyone.
But the vast majority of them are never going to do anything beyond their hit single. The music industry has such a severe case of "creative constipation" that even a band overflowing with talent isn't going to make it unless they sound like everyone else.
While I don't agree that it's MTV's fault, as many do, I think the acceleration of fame that MTV created does take a lot of the blame. Pre-MTV, bands had to tour. They had to prove themselves to their fans. They played, and played and played, and if they could, created demo tapes, and played, and tried to get listened to, and played.
Along the way, they learned some things. Like stagecraft. How to control the audience from the stage. How to read an audience. How to take risks. They learned to communicate with the audience, and go with that flow. I remember things like "The Monsters Of Rock", concerts with multiple bands each playing for hours each. Nowadays, you get tours with twice as many artists, but they all play for three minutes, and they sound exactly like the album. No jams, nothing unique to the concert. No wonder all the top - grossing live acts average about 45 years old.
You can't accelerate stagecraft. You can't edit that in, or use Final Cut Pro to simulate it. It has to be learned, the hard way. But it's real. Whenever I see an artist like Prince perform, it doesn't matter if I'm in the concert hall, or watching him on TV. He demands your attention. He gets it. Compare that to someone like Christina Auguilera, who, no matter how slutty she dresses or acts, is all too easily ignored in favor of almost anything else around her. She may be able to learn how to command attention in time, but it's going to take time.
However, she's not going to get that time. It's not just her. There's no way you could do things like "Dreamboat Annie", Heart's first album, which took over a year to make. Well, I doubt you could get Heart, even back in their younger, more..."camera friendly" shape(s), any sort of notice. "So the one chick, she just sings, and plays some flute, and harmonica. The other one plays guitar. But they dont' dance...won't dress like porn stars...no thanks, we got records to sell." Led Zeppelin today? Gimme a break, they did long form stuff, and how exactly would you make a video for "Dazed and Confused" anyway? Pat Benatar is still touring, is still amazing, yet at this point, would almost have to light herself on fire to be anything but a foot note.
The music industry doesn't want talent. They want...well, sixty - three copies of whatever created the last hit record. It's as badly derivative as the fifties, and it may even be worse.
Even funnier is that they think that somehow, downloading music is the cause of their problems. Again, gimme a break. The last two CDs I bought were used, and not new at all. The next new band I'm going to buy is The Donnas, because at least they don't suck, and they play with balls. But it's not that I can get the music for free online that makes me not buy new. It's that there's nothing worth buying.
The music industry is feeding us the same thing three hundred times a day. I can't even come close to telling the difference between 50 Cent, Nelly, and most of the rest, yet Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC, and early LL Cool J are all unique. Besides, I *dare* any new rapper to come up with anything that can touch "Mama Said Knock You Out".
I'm not giving up on new bands. Jiggle The Handle is one that won't ever get radio play, but I'll listen to them any day of the week. But maybe if we had a better selection to chose from, we'd buy more stuff.| Comments ()
August 21, 2003
"Macs don't get sick"
So with the latest round of virii and exploits hitting the Windows world, once again, the MacMacs are starting up with the smug smiles, and condescending attitudes of "Silly Windows users, we don't have to even buy antivirus software."
If there is a bigger pile of crap on the planet, I don't know what or where it is.
But let me tell you, there is nothing in Mac OS X that makes it immune to virii and exploits. It's harder to crack when properly secured and maintained, but guess what, so is a Windows box. Any box that isn't patched right is going to be vulnerable.
What really amazes me is that the MacMacs act like, "Well, we've only ever had X number of virii, so we don't have to worry about it." As the song says, Your Time Is Gonna Come. I can tell you that right now, using about ten lines of AppleScript and one line of shell, you could write a trojan horse that, embedded in some half-assed utility or other application or script, would scour a drive to the ground. You'd need DriveSavers to get your data back.
No, I'm not going to show you the code here, gimme a break. But anyone familiar enough with Mac OS X could figure it out fast enough.
Now, I'm not saying that the Mac OS X community is about to get hit with a tidal wave of cracks and virii. But to act like it cannot happen, or that past history will predict the future is just dumb. Most Mac applications with a scripting dictionary can execute external AppleScripts. So the danger doesn't just come from standalone application. You could also do the same thing with commercial applications. It's not just AppleScript or shell. You could do it with Python. It's not just scripts, it's real binary code too. Apple has a set of Kernel APIs that would let you inject malicious code into a system at the Mach level, were you so inclined. Considering the MacMac's desparate desire for toys, all you'd have to do is say that it was a driver for somepieceofcoolhardwarethatisWindowsonlyatthemoment. You'd have a thousand infected Macs by afternoon tea. Of course, at the Mach level, you can do anything because you exist below any security. Think about that the next time you blindly install a driver.
Considering how poor many MacMacs are about antivirus precautions, a well - thought out virus could eviscerate entire networks by the time anyone even realized that it was a virus. So even with the standard virus definition update delay, you'd have a delay in getting an antivirus program on these Macs, etc.
I really hope this never happens, but I'm not willing to bet the safety of machines and networks I have responsibility for on hope. I'm a cynic, so I expect that there are evil dinks out there. Nor am I so egotisitcal that I think that I'm the only person with a penchant for evil thoughts, and the knowledge to implement them. I just don't actually do evil. I like not being in jail. It's an odd habit of mine.
But there are people for whom that's an acceptable risk. Who are willing to risk incarceration for notoriety.
The question is, are you willing to risk your Mac on the hope that the future follows the present?| Comments ()