Archive | January, 2007

Florida to scrap touchscreens; convictions in Ohio recount-rigging

Ars Technica: Florida to scrap touchscreens; convictions in Ohio recount-rigging

Rumor has it that Florida governor Charlie Crist will announce tomorrow that his state plans to scrap tens of millions of dollars worth of touchscreen voting equipment and move to a system based completely on optical scan ballots. The Miami Herald claims that the total tab for overhauling the states electoral system could be as high as $35 million.

I hope the rumors are true. Optical scan means that voters can see what they voted and mechanical and manual recounts are possible. While there’s still a danger of someone tampering with the optical scanner software/firmware, there’s at least a possiblity of audits.

On the vote rigging, it’s worth reading the entire original article to hear how lame-brained it was. It’s sad to think that the higher officials who ordered/sanctioned/approved or were oblivious to this behavior when they shouldn’t have been, got away scot-free. While the vast majority of voting officials are hard-working honest folks, everything they do has to be transparent and above-board to avoid scandals like this.

Comments on a deadline?

I’ve installed Auto-Close Comments on this WordPress blog. I love having simple programmable widgets to make the management of the blog simpler! However, I notice when browsing the blog that the posts show “No Comments” and you have to click that link to see “Comments are closed.” I’ll see if there’s a way to hack this to prevent annoying readers by allowing a useless click.

Free Linux Device Driver Development

Greg Kroah posts an open letter to all device manufacturers, offering free development of Linux device drivers through the new Linux Foundation (formerly Open Source Development Labs) here:

“The driver will be written by some of the members of the Linux kernel developer community (over 1500 strong and growing). This driver will then be automatically included in all Linux distributions, including the “enterprise” ones. It will be automatically kept up to date and working through all Linux kernel API changes. This driver will work with all of the different CPU types supported by Linux, the largest number of CPU types supported by any operating system ever before in the history of computing.”

Awesome! Read the entire post here

Hauppauge shipping wrong card in PVR-150 boxes

Passing on a warning from the GNHLUG mailing list: at least at, folks are reporting that when they buy a PVR-150, a card for capturing video off cable, they’re ending up with a different card in the box, one that’s not compatible with current PVR-150 software. At our MerriLUG meeting 11 days ago, we had Jarod Wilson presenting on MythTV and the PVR-150 got prominent mention. It’s been on sale recently in on of the Big Boxes. Perhaps it’s being discontinued? In any case, the manufacturer needs to make good on what they claim is in their boxes. Hopefully, this is just a packaging issue.

Followup: nope, it appears to be intentional by Hauppauge. There’s an entry in their Wikipedia page referring to this, and a quick Google shows that this is a known issue on the site and the ivtv-users mailing list. Very disappointing behavior. Caveat emptor.

Watering the Net Roots | Linux Journal

Blogging over at Linux Journal in “Watering the Net Roots,” Doc Searls suggests “On the one hand, you can look at Verizons dumping of rural New England business as a kind of red-lining.” That’s the view of the IBEW over at 3,000 CWA and IBEW Members Fight Rural Telecom Redlining In New England

“Verizon’s landline sell-off is yet another example of a race-to-the-bottom economy,” said Verizon customer service rep and CWA Local 1400 Vice President Mike O’Day, at a public forum in Burlington sponsored by newly elected U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. “It will adversely affect our jobs and the quality and reliability of local phone service throughout the whole region. Vermonters will be at the mercy of a small, highly-leveraged North Carolina-based company that will try to make a quick profit for its investors.”

In a recent NHPR interview, an economic development specialist stressed the importance of bringing more internet access to New Hampshire, especially the North Country, to develop local high-tech jobs to replace those lost as tourism and the snow season melts away.

New Version: WordPress 2.1

Development Blog › WordPress 2.1 Ella: “On behalf of the community of commiters, contributers, and volunteers, I’m very proud to announce the immediate availability of WordPress 2.1 “Ella”, named for jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. Here’s a sampling of what’s in the new version:”

Attempting to update to version 2.0.7, I noted that the links go to the brand-new (16 hours as I write this) version 2.1 and there may be significant issues with less-well-know plugins. If plugins are an important part of your blog, check out their list of compatible plugins first, then consider if now is a good time to upgrade. The downside I fear, though, is that the security flaws originally fixed with 2.0.7 may be getting exploited out in the wild. Darned if you do and darned if you don’t.

UPDATE: All looks fine here. My plugins appear to be working. Upgrade instructions (with lots of backups) worked just fine. If anyone notices problems, please don’t hesitate to add a comment below.

New Version: WordPress 2.0.7

Development Blog › WordPress 2.0.7. I missed this first time it came around: a security-fix for WordPress, upgrading to version 2.0.7: “Recently a bug in certain versions of PHP came to our attention that could cause a security vulnerability in your blog. We’re able to work around it fairly easily, so we’ve decided to release 2.0.7 to fix the PHP security problem and the Feedburner issue that was in 2.0.6. It is recommended that everyone running WordPress 2.0.6 or lower upgrade to this new version.”

Things we wish we’d known about NAS devices and Linux Raid

Thinking about deploying NAS? Before you do, you ought to read through Things we wish we’d known about NAS devices and Linux Raid by Daniel Feenberg of the National Bureau of Economic Reasearch, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization boasting 16 of the 31 US’ Nobel prizewinners in Economics as past or present staff members. Having reliable data to work with is important to them. There are some interesting lessons learned in the humorous reviews of systems they have used:

“That turns 20 minutes of scheduled downtime to several days. I can only assume the motivation was to discourage the upgrade.”

“Later, NFS exports of snapshots were added at our request. This is the only time any NAS vendor was willing to learn anything from us.”


“I’d be very reluctant to put data on a proprietary system with no aftermarket support. Every vendor is in constant danger of being acquired, divested or turned around. When that happens you and your box are no longer “strategic”, and contract or not, requests for help are likely to be brushed aside. Even with an enforcable contract, the vendor can easily discourage calls for service by proposing solutions that don’t save your data.”


“In a crowded server room you won’t be able to tell which system is beeping, so some visual indicator is essential – but not generally provided. ”

Excellent pointers, worthy of review. There’s also some good discussion of the statistics and odds of disk failures and double failures. Well worth a careful review if you need to be thinking about storing a large amount of data reliably.

Eric Sink: Baptists and Boundaries

Eric Sink, a fine essayist and software developer, does a little vanity Googling in “Baptists and Boundaries” and makes several excellent points about people and their world views, the punchiest of which is “Objects in browser are smaller than they appear.” Do read the essay and enjoy.

I’ve been involved in several insular communities (Commodore, GEOS, Amiga, FoxPro) that believed that they had The One True Truth and all others were mistaken, ignoring the growing evidence outside the walls that other alternatives might have something going for them, too. My biggest shock in my journeys outside the Microsoft Reality Distortion Field has been discovering that there are rich and powerful tools, long traditions of software excellence and some subtle (and blatent) differences in culture. The rich bazaar of choices: BSD vs. UNIX vs. Linux vs. Solaris, Perl vs. Python vs. PHP vs. Ruby, PostgreSQL vs. MySQL vs. SQLite vs. BerkeleyDB, tabs vs. spaces, vi vs. emacs, n-tier vs. mvc, African vs. English swallow, only add to the richness and freedom of the environment.

The biggest complaint of people stuck with a one-size-fits-all solution is that there is no choice. The biggest complaint when faced with the dazzling alternatives of FOSS is that there are too many choices. With great choices comes great responsibility. Conversely, “choosing” to stay with a one-size-fits-all monolithic solution is no choice at all, but rather an abdication of responsibility and a surrendering of freedom. Choose wisely.

CentraLUG, 5-Feb-2007: Matt Brodeur and GnuPG, OpenPGP, keysigning

The monthly meeting of CentraLUG, the Concord/Central NH GNHLUG chapter, happens the first Monday of most months on the New Hampshire Institute Campus starting at 7 PM. Next month’s meeting is on February 5th at 7 PM.

Directions and maps are available at and on the NHTI site at This month, we’ll be meeting at our usual location in the Library/Learning Center/Bookstore, room 146, marked as “I” on that map. The main meeting starts at 7 PM, and we finish by 9 PM. Open to the public. Free admission. Tell your friends.

At this month’s meeting, Matt Brodeur will present an introduction to e-mail and file security using Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). The talk will cover basic concepts of encryption and digital signatures. Examples and demos will use GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG), a free (GPL) implementation of the OpenPGP standard available for most modern operating systems. Following the presentation, a PGP keysigning event will be held. Anyone interested in exchanging key signatures with other local PGP users can find details on our website,… as soon as we’ve set it up. Stay tuned.

Matt Brodeur is a Quality Assurance Engineer at Red Hat in Westford, MA and volunteer in local LUGs. He has previously presented OpenPGP talks at the Boston Linux & Unix User Group.

More details on the group and directions to the meeting can be found at and at

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.