Linux Not on Board

Our Air New Zealand Boeing 747 came with an in-flight entertainment system, including movies-on-demand and arcade games. A few rounds into Tetris, I managed to crash the system, complete with the classic Windows “application has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down” message.

I switched to chess, and beat the system on its “difficult” setting in about twenty moves. Apart from its opening book, the system was pathetic — it couldn’t spot a simple fork or think more than a few moves ahead. During the rematch, I got it into a somewhat complex situation, likely a forced checkmate in about ten moves. It hung there with an hourglass for a good twenty minutes, then coughed up a dialog box asking me which part of the system it ought to shut down in order to conserve memory. Honestly, some are incapable of accepting defeat.

After I selected the default option, the entire operating system crashed hard into a black screen and began rebooting. Not surprisingly, the boot screen proudly proclaimed Windows CE circa 2004, then began loading up files using the ancient Xmodem serial protocol. Finally, it booted itself back into friendly pictures of New Zealand coastline. I spent the rest of the flight hoping Microsoft hadn’t won the bid on the flight controls.

GTD® Connect

David Allen’s GTD Connect membership program is finally live to the public. GTD Connect includes an amazing web site with tons of rich content, events, and interactive applications to keep members engaged with maximum productivity and cutting-edge ideas and tools. This is stuff everyone needs to keep up in the world of information overload. Just not everyone knows it yet.

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High Security on Mac/Linux Using GPG and a ThumbDrive

Using the free Gnu Privacy Guard and a USB thumb drive (which are often given away in promotionals and should be available for under $10 in small storage capacities), you can implement a strong (AES) encryption system to protect sensitive files on your computer. The process divides the means to decrypting sensitive data into three distinct components:

  • the encrypted file(s) — on your computer
  • the private key needed to decrypt the files — on your thumbdrive
  • the password required in combination with the private key to decrypt files — in your head

The process is simple and affords a great degree of security to your encrypted files, because all three components must be assembled to decrypt the data — a difficult task for a laptop thief or even a nosey coworker to accomplish, especially if you remove your thumb drive from your computer when you are not using it.

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New Blog Software

Just a quick post to say that this blog is now running Serendipity 0.8. The upgrade path was frought with disaster after disaster, much of which David Rolston helped steer me though. Ultimately, though, it came down to the default version of PHP that ships with Debian being incompatible with Serendipity 0.8. Furthermore, to hear some tell it, 4.1.x could be considered a security problem. So much for putting my faith in Debian’s package release system. Times like these make me want to give Fedora a spin…