Turning Off the System Hardware Beep

28 Jul 2007

For those who might balk at the configuration work found in Christer’s recent post, Turning Off The System (hardware) Beep : Linux Tutorial, I have a solution for you. You can order this simple device and reuse again and again after modifying that pesky, noise-making computer speaker. Simply go to any Radio Shack store and ask for Radio Shack part #64-2951.

No More Comments?

28 Jul 2007

After reading Dave Winer’s comments on blogging, in particular the parts where he discusses comments and their negative effects on a blog, I’ve decided to disable commenting in this blog. TrackBacks are still there.

Let’s see how this goes. If you would like to comment, you can’t post it on my site. Use your own blog and use a TrackBack to this article. Let me know what you think.

Personally, I’ve always preferred the idea of TrackBacks over comments. I just wasn’t quite sure how to explain (nor did I ever take the time to really think about) why I felt that way. So, thank you to Dave Winer for helping me quantify it.

Although I have configured this blog to not have the “Allow comments” option selected by default, existing posts which did have that option on should still permit comments. I will fix this by editing the DB directly. Hopefully, existing comments will still be visible once I do so.


28 Jul 2007

I wrote this Haiku earlier this evening:

It’s not very good
And, most certainly, is not
Quality Haiku

It was a piece of testing text that I placed in a text editor for an admin piece of a webapp I’m helping a friend meet a deadline for.

WordPress 2.2.1

28 Jul 2007

Well, I’ve been running with WrodPress 2.2.1 for a while now. This was another update that screwed up the blogroll (I patched this in my code for 2.1 and 2.2).

But a new problem has surfaced with 2.2.1 in the admin interface; when loading the Dashboard or the Write or other pages which include wp-includes/js/jquery/interface.js, it freezes up my web browsers. I’ve tried it with Firefox, Opera, Konqueror & Safari, some on both Linux and Windows. The browser eventually lets me kill it (but I have to stop it 2 or 3 times) and then the page will finally load. In browsers where I have debuggers for JavaScript, I find this error:

Error: https://www.openbrainstem.net/blog/peregrine/wp-includes/js/jquery/interface.js?ver=1.2: Error: Error

It’s pretty frustrating trying to use my blog when the admin interface has some buggy JavaScript. I’m going to try to debug it, though JavaScript isn’t my favorite language. I’ll keep you posted if I find a fix.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (year 7) – Available Today

21 Jul 2007

The last book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, today. My wife and I picked up a copy in Ontario, Oregon on our way back from a month spent with my parents in Weiser, Idaho (my hometown). Actually, my wife and daughter spent that month with them, I was traveling on business trips for half of that time.

As with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (year 6), we are reading it together. We’ve only gotten into chapter 7 so far, as I had to leave on another business trip (to Ohio) 10 hours after we got home and she left on another Women’s Trip (like most years her side of the family does). So, we’re on pause right now and both itching to continue the book.

On a side note, I did get the chance to see the 5th Harry Potter movie this week one evening in Ohio. I’ll probably write a short little review of that experience, soon.

OpenID Enabled

13 Jul 2007

Thanks go to Christer Edwards for encouraging me to deploy OpenID support on this blog.

If you have an OpenID account, you can now use it to comment and to register on this blog, without having to register on this blog. I haven’t required logins to commont on this blog since June of 2006, but still required commentors to fill in their name and email and optionally allowed them to include a URL for their own site. Now, these kinds of things can be done via your OpenID.

I didn’t activate the second WordPress plugin yet, as I haven’t registered an OpenID of my own, nor have I set up an OpenID server.

I’m thinking about standing up an OpenID server on OpenBrainstem. I’m not really sure about this yet, so I’m asking you, my readers, to weigh in on the idea. Post your views as comments to this post. Tell me why I should or shouldn’t run my own OpenID server.

Why Terrorism Doesn’t Work

12 Jul 2007

This article is in reference to “Correspondent Inference Theory” by Bruce Schneier.

I have previously written about terrorism and the true goals & motivations of terrorists (see my article, “What the Terrorists Want“). This latest article on the subject from Bruce takes the discussion a very important and valuable step further. I recommend you read that article.

In my past writings on the subject of terrorism, I’ve always stressed how terrorist attacks are not about the target of the particular attack, but are instead about inducing terror, typically in a large population. The point being that we need to not focus on the tactics used and we need to refuse to be terrorized.

Bruce’s new article talks about the reasons why the psychological impact of terrorist activities (especially attacks on innocents) lead us to infer and then associate the tactical target with the motivation and reason for the attack. We think, “Terrorists attack in order to kill as many of us as they can or disrupt as many of our lives as they can.” This isn’t necessarily incorrect, as the tactical plan a terrorist chooses to employ really is about just such goals, but those goals are also not the true motivator. The point of a terrorist attack isn’t to disrupt our lives or even as simple as inducing terror in the population; almost all terrorists actually have other, larger goals in mind.

We defeat terrorism by refusing to be terrorized, but we do not defeat the terrorists in that way. This is because they will still have their primary goals, and they will not have gotten any closer to them whether or not we refuse to be terrorized. Here are six of Bin Laden and al Qaeda’s goals (from former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer’s book “Imperial Hubris“):

  1. End U.S. support of Israel
  2. Force American troops out of the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia
  3. End the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and (subsequently) Iraq
  4. End U.S. support of other countries’ anti-Muslim policies
  5. End U.S. pressure on Arab oil companies to keep prices low
  6. End U.S. support for “illegitimate” (i.e. moderate) Arab governments, like Pakistan

Terrorism is about terrorizing people. That terror is meant to be a political lever to induce changes desired by the terrorist(s). But terrorism just doesn’t work. In his article “Why Terrorism Does Not Work, published in International Security, Max Abrams analized terrorist attacks and concluded that they are successful at achieving the goals of the terrorists only 7% of the time. Abrams seems to have been rather generous in his measurement of success and failure, giving the benefit of the doubt to the terrorists, so in reality, the number might be closer to 3%.

To defeat terrorism is a very hard problem. It would be much easier if the terrorists realized that terrorism doesn’t work. The vast majority of the time, it does not bring them closer to their true goals. The best thing each of us can do is refuse to be terrorized and to not overreact.