• Recommendation: Netgear WG311T WiFi card

    After my unnerving WiFi problems, Kai was so kind to get me a Netgear WG311T PCI card.

    I just installed it, configured WPA and it works like a charm with Ubuntu 6.06.1!

  • Virtual lynch mobs

    I'm a strong proponent of online privacy. I want to feel secure living my online life, and I want the means to do so to be kept legal. (That's why Kai Raven always freaks the hell out of me.)

    The recent case of a guy faking a craigslist ad, posing as a woman looking for a dominant guy and publishing more than 100 responses including names, photos, phone numbers and email addresses, raises another question: what about your right of privacy if you aren't clever or savvy enough to protect it sufficiently?Sure, it's quite stupid to respond to such a classified ad by giving up your name, phone number, work email address or even marital status along with compromising pictures. And it may be immoral to some people to cheat on ones wife or pursue BDSM practices. But that, let's be clear here, doesn't at all give Jason Fortuny, the guy who made up the ad, the right to publish their private information, put them on a virtual pillory and destroy their lives. What time do we have -- the dark ages? I sincerely hope he gets his ass sued off.

    I'm with Ryan Singel in concluding that this prank was an act of pure arrogance and feeling of superiority. But what's even more reprehensible to me is the number of people approving his action because "those people deserved it", because they're "immoral scum" and "were dumb enough to put their information out there". That's making me sick.

    The purpose of laws and basic rights is to secure the lives of all people, also and especially of those who don't know how to protect themselves sufficiently -- regardless of person, religion, sexual orientation, IQ or race. That's why phishing and the infamous "Nigerian scams" aren't legal. That's why misusing personal information isn't legal either, and publishing such information without the owner's consent is misuse.

    We're used to the fact that in some smaller villages, you'll be quickly rejected, defamed or even mobbed into moving away if you don't fit in, or worse, get known for doing things that contradict the common norm.

    The "global village" doesn't seem much different now, does it?

  • I hate fiddling with hardware

    When I first tried to connect my father's PC to my WLAN, I purchased a Linksys PCI card. After the Linksys WRT54G router worked so well and because the WiFi configuration of my Thinkpad notebook was totally hassle-free, I expected the same from installing the PCI card. Little did I know.
    Ralink's RT2500 chipset on the card needs a special configuration for WPA encryption (it doesn't use wpa_supplicant), and I couldn't get it to work flawlessly on SUSE Linux 10. Sometimes the interface would be "ra0", sometimes "ra1" -- I couldn't find out why. Well, I don't have the patience any more that I had ten years ago when I actually enjoyed getting my gear going with Linux. So I put the Linksys card on eBay and got a SMC WPCI card. The Atheros chipset worked right out of the box after 5 minutes of configuration. That's how I like it!

    Since Carolin's PC will be connected to my WLAN in the new flat, I ordered a second SMCWPCI card a few days ago. But this time, 5 minutes weren't enough to get it working. Even after 5 hours all I got it to do was making the Ubuntu kernel freeze. The problem: SMC exchanged the Atheros chipset with a RealTek 8185 chipset -- without changing the product label! And it seems like the rtl8185 support in the Ubuntu kernel is buggy. First, I tried all PCI slots, changed BIOS configurations, used several run levels, but every time sooner or later, the machine would freeze.

    Finally, I removed the card from my father's PC, inserted it into Carolin's PC and, hey presto, it worked! The machine ran stable and smooth.

    Dear hardware manufacturers, would you please be so kind and give your products a new name or at least version number when you change their internal technology? It would make buying and using them a lot easier.

    So now, I'll get a Netgear WG311T -- hoping that it still has the Atheros chipset that seems to work so fine on Linux.

  • Truth with background music

    On yesterday's episode of the Daily Sourcecode&episode_id=25113, Adam Curry played a song that I liked immediately: "Underwear goes inside the pants" by LazyBoy. Like "Facts of Life", it's again speech -- I'd say a rant, to be exact -- combined with some backing beats and melody, and it's really resonating with me.

    Download the song from the LazyBoy MySpace page&friendID=74874292 and tell me if you like it!

  • What we can learn from Steve Irwin

    The death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin caused a great wave of grief and regret around the globe. The blogosphere was buzzing with articles and condolences only hours after the message of his fatal accident. But why is that? What made Steve more loved or admirable than other TV celebrities?

    I'd say it's about respect, passion, credibility and fun.
    For one, it was the enormous respect for his animals that Steve displayed. He put them in the lead role, not himself. He didn't get weary of pointing out the beauty and diligence mother nature put into her creatures. It wasn't about him, it was all about the animals. He put his health at risk (and it was quite a close call more than once) to give people the opportunity to learn about all those different species, to show his viewers the importance of preserving wildlife for usselves, the "crown of creation". That way, he in turn gained the respect of his audience.

    Another thing is credibility. Steve not only put his money where his mouth was, he put himself there. He chose to get out into the wilderness, to go where his beloved creatures lived, instead of transporting them into a safe TV studio where they don't belong. That meant that he was likely to get hurt, but he accepted that. And he always emphasized that such injuries were his fault, not the animals'.

    If you ask people why they watch "Crocodile Hunter" time after time, they will probably tell you "It's interesting, and he's funny". But I won't say that he was making fun of animals, I'd say he just had plain fun being with them. Just like I have fun teasing and joking around with friends and colleagues without the intention of making them ridiculous, Steve did with his "colleagues".

    Finally, everyone of us could be jealous of how much fun Steve had with his job in general. He didn't hold back in showing how much he enjoyed his work.

    I guess that's how he became that australian original that gained a great fan base all around the world by making people appreciate the wonders of nature and respect their fellow creatures. An original that will be missed.

    What I learned from Steve Irwin is that while it helps to survive if you just blend in, if you really want to move something, you have to stand out by showing knowledge, respect for others and credibility. And that you can have fun doing so, too.