Not quite dead
In response to recent inquiries, I am not dead. I can list any number of excuses for why ZedneWeb has been quiet since last December, such as a hectic January and the purchase and perusal of Gene Wolfe’s Return to the Whorl and Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon (the perusal of which is still in progress), but the big one is of course the First Law of Weblogs:
A weblog in motion tends to stay in motion. A weblog at rest tends to stay at rest
Both of the above-mentioned books are highly recommended, incidentally, although Return to the Whorl is the last of a three-, seven-, or twelve-volume series, depending on how you look at it, and will be pretty much incomprehensible without some background. (I, who have read the background, was merely befuddled.)
But back to my point: Whenever I’ve been quiet this long, I feel like I need to post something substantial to justify my silence. The longer the silence, the more substantial the posting needs to be. This is silly, of course, but it does set up a nice self-perpetuating cycle.
My biggest problem, of course, is the fact that I have substantially less time to trawl the web looking for neat/interesting stuff to point out and/or discuss. I still come across it, though, so here goes:
- Paul Graham: “Why Nerds Are Unpopular”. In essence the argument is this: the people who are highly placed in the school social strata spend a lot of time and energy being popular, the way to maintain status in High School is to heap abuse on those below you, nerds are likely to realise that pursuing popularity in school is somewhat pointless, thus, their efforts are half-hearted and lead to low social standings. I’m not sure I agree with everything Mr Graham is saying in this essay, but it has certainly cast things is a different light. (via Wes Felter)
- Reply Comments of Raffi Krikorian. The movie industry has been claiming for a long time that they need some way to forbid people from saving digital television broadcasts to their hard drives and then distributing them conveniently through e-mail and the web. Mr Krikorian actually did some experiments to see whether this is remotely feasible. It turns out that e-mailing television-program-lengths of broadcast-quality video requires days—assuming the e-mail systems involved don’t collapse at some point during the transfer. (Ever tried e-mailing a 40 gigabyte file? I don’t recommend it.) (via Cory Doctorow)
- Josh Marshall: “Vice Grip”. Back when Designated Vice President Dick Cheney was having his heart problems people used to joke that George Bush was a heartbeat away from the Presidency. The underlying assumption, of course, was that Mr Cheney was the far more experienced and competent of the two. Mr Marshall examines the question of how competent Mr Cheney actually is by looking at some of the administrations blunders that can be traced back to the Vice President. (via Josh Marshall)
- Matt Blaze: “Master-Keyed Lock Vulnerability”. An interesting demonstration of what happens when computer security people interact with the “real” world. By applying cryptanalysis to master-keyed locks (locks which have both an individual key and a “master” key which opens any of them), Mr Blaze discovered a way to generate the master key just by playing around with one lock and its key. It turns out that locksmiths (along with criminals and bored college students) have known about this for a long time, but were furious with Mr Blaze for revealing the secret because it makes it easier for people to break into existing master-keyed systems. Of course, if the locksmiths had just told people about this vulnerability, there wouldn’t be so many systems installed with inadequate security. Score another one for disclosure.
- The Peanuts Arcana Tarot Deck. Frankly, I don’t know what I can say here to make this sound any more interesting than what you get from the title. It’s a tarot deck based on Peanuts, fer cryin’ out loud!
Incidentally, there’s a newly cleared spot in the library, like where a newly-added piece might be put. Most likely tomorrow. #