Why the NSA spying on Americans isn’t helping

I don’t usually think of Computerworld as a particularlly great place to read Op-Ed pieces, but this article by Ira Winkler, an ex-NSA analyst explains why not only is the NSA warrentless spying on American’s phone records is illegal (duh) but counter-productive as well if your goal is to stop terrorisim.

While I agree with almost everything Ira had to say, I don’t think comparing the NSA actions to Stalin and Hitler is useful. The quickest way to send a discussion to hell is start comparing people to Nazi’s or people like Stalin- not only an emotionally charged issue, but most Americans think what happened in places like Germany and Russia could never happen here.

But of course we now know that the U.S. Government has a history of spying and persecuting people (remember what happed to Martin Luther King Jr. and during McCarthyism in the 1950’s). And I can guarantee you that at some point in time in your life, your perspective will not be in line with the political powers that be. So maybe you should worry after all.


Is the US really behind in creating engineers?

I dunno, but this Washington Post article shows that it’s not a slam dunk that the US is really so far behind India and China creating engineers as common knowledge would have us believe. Turns out there’s a good chance that the US numbers were quite a bit higher then reported and the Chinese numbers (originally based upon reports from the Chinese government) were highly inflated for a number of reasons.

When you think about it, China and India have a vested interest in reporting higher then actual numbers (to increase interest in getting companies to open offices in their country) and many companies (both US and foreign) have a strong reason to perpetuate those numbers (to perpetuate the myth that there is a labor shortage in the US).


Defective By Design?

Would you believe that some products that you and I buy today are designed to be defective? That is to say that these products could do things which the designers went out of their way to prevent you from doing with them? Why? Since when in a world when companies must out innovate each other to get a competitive edge did companies actually intentially place arbitrary restrictions to limit what users could do with them?

Seems crazy, but that’s exactly what happening with many popular products like iPods, music CD’s and DVD players. Recently, the Free Software Foundation started Defective By Design, a community website dedicated to increasing awareness about how companies are intentionally limiting products in order to harm consumers in order to make Hollywood and large media companies happy. Check it out!


Adaptec/Supermicro sucks

I’ve been fighting a drive apparently going bad for a little over two weeks now. One of four drives in a RAID 0+1 array apparently has some blocks going bad and neither the drive nor controller seem to be able to remap the blocks.

To make matters worse, the Adaptec controller won’t even tell me which drive has the problem. So after getting absolutely nowhere with Supermicro (whom is providing support due to the nature of their OEM contract) I’m having to replace all four drives in the array. Suck.


Chinese ticket spam

So lately it seems that a certain Chinese company has started going around and spamming Trac sites by creating tickets promoting who knows what (honestly, I have no idea, it’s all in Chinese). Once was annoying, twice pissed me off, so I added this to my httpd.conf:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://www\.google\.cn/search?.*q=NEW\+TICKET.*
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.consumptionjunction.com/downloadsnew/cj_52447.jpg [R]

I wouldn’t recommend visiting that URL if you’re easily offended. Seriously, don’t go there.