Archive for August, 2007

The President Who Made Things Up

We’re all aware of the hundreds upon hundreds of lies the current President has spewed upon the citizens of this country. He continues to make things up, falsify facts, fabricating quotes and mis-representing information as documented in hundreds of other places, as if we can’t see what is going on here.

He has sold this country out in order to dismantle the Constitution, Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights… all to try to preserve a 1-party system of World Government, and for what other stealth means we can only surmise to guess.

What is interesting is that all of these FEMA camps are being rebuilt, restocked, and are staffed and guarded… yet remain completely empty. What do you suppose a mental hospital in Alaska that holds 2 million people, would be used for?

This country’s current apathy disgusts me. It should disgust you too.

As Keith Olbermann says…

“Please sir, do not throw this country’s principles away because your lies have made it such that you can no longer differentiate between the terrorists, and the critics.

Its embarrassing to see this country run by someone who can’t even construct a proper sentence; someone who makes a complete mockery of the founding principles of this country.

Pathetic.

FBI raids NSA wiretapping “leaker” home

From the ‘Yes-they-really-are-doing-it-again’ department comes this news from the August 13, 2007 issue of NEWSWEEK:

The controversy over President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program took another surprise turn last week when a team of FBI agents, armed with a classified search warrant, raided the suburban Washington home of a former Justice Department lawyer. The lawyer, Thomas M. Tamm, previously worked in Justice’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR)—the supersecret unit that oversees surveillance of terrorist and espionage targets. The agents seized Tamm’s desktop computer, two of his children’s laptops and a cache of personal files. Tamm and his lawyer, Paul Kemp, declined any comment. So did the FBI. But two legal sources who asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case told NEWSWEEK the raid was related to a Justice criminal probe into who leaked details of the warrantless eavesdropping program to the news media. The raid appears to be the first significant development in the probe since The New York Times reported in December 2005 that Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. residents without court warrants. (At the time, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said of the leak: “This is really hurting national security; this has really hurt our country.”)

A veteran federal prosecutor who left DOJ last year, Tamm worked at OIPR during a critical period in 2004 when senior Justice officials first strongly objected to the surveillance program. Those protests led to a crisis that March when, according to recent Senate testimony, then A.G. John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and others threatened to resign, prompting Bush to scale the program back. Tamm, said one of the legal sources, had shared concerns about he program’s legality, but it was unclear whether he actively participated in the internal DOJ protest.

The FBI raid on Tamm’s home comes when Gonzales himself is facing criticism for allegedly misleading Congress by denying there had been “serious disagreement” within Justice about the surveillance program. The A.G. last week apologized for “creating confusion,” but Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy said he is weighing asking Justice’s inspector general to review Gonzales’s testimony.

The raid also came while the White House and Congress were battling over expanding NSA wiretapping authority in order to plug purported “surveillance gaps.” James X. Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology said the raid was “amazing” and shows the administration’s misplaced priorities: using FBI agents to track down leakers instead of processing intel warrants to close the gaps. A Justice spokesman declined to comment.

Bathrooms in Capitol Building run out of toilet paper; Senators forced to use Fourth Amendment instead

Illegal NSA Wiretapping Continues

“The House of Representatives voted 227-183 to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow warrantless wiretapping of telephone and electronic communications. The vote extends the FISA amendment for six months. ‘The administration said the measure is needed to speed the National Security Agency’s ability to intercept phone calls, e-mails and other communications involving foreign nationals “reasonably believed to be outside the United States.”

So the next obvious answer is to just use encrypted or “secure” cellphones, right? Use encryption, right?

Wrong. Looks like the NSA has pressured the Telecommunications Industry Association or TIA to cripple the algorithm used, so the NSA can crack that easily too.

Unfortunately, the TIA created a poor algorithm, and thousands of digital cellular users are now using it. How much of this is due to direct government intervention is unclear, but David Banisar, attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is ready to place the blame squarely on the NSA. “This is another illustration of how US government efforts to control cryptography threaten the security and privacy of Americans.

Perhaps a handset like the OpenMoko, based upon Linux, will leverage a stronger encryption than the TIA has provided on commercial handsets.

Privacy advocates are outraged, as they should be. This administration wants to make it possible for the Attorney General to wiretap anybody, any place, any time without court review, without any checks and balances. We all know how well the current Attorney General is doing, with charges of perjury against him.

“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.” –Zbigniew Brzezinski

“Today the path of total dictatorship in the United States can be laid by strictly legal means, unseen and unheard by the Congress, the President, or the People. Outwardly, we have a Constitutional government. We have operating within our government and political system, another body representing another form of government – a bureaucratic elite.” — Senator William Jenner 1954

“We shall have world government whether or not you like it, by conquest or consent.”— James Warburg, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 17, 1950.

Lovely.

Squeezing the watts

I’ve written a couple of previous posts about saving power around the office and home, and have been using my Watts-Up Pro power analyzer/data logger to measure every power-enabled device that I use.

In that range, I’ve been tweaking the kernel on my Thinkpad T42p to minimize the power consumption of it during running hours. Here’s some things I’ve found:

Enable these kernel options:

# Set the kernel to only use the CPU speed that is appropriate to the load. 
# If you're reading email, there's no reason for your 2.4Ghz processor to 
# be running at that speed, so train it down to 600Mhz instead, etc.
CONFIG_CPU_FREQ_GOV_ONDEMAND

# Use the new, "next generation" high-performance timer instead of the
# legacy 8254s. 
CONFIG_HPET_TIMER

# The in-kernel irq balancer is obsolete and wakes the CPU up far more 
# than needed.
CONFIG_IRQBALANCE

# This is required to set longer CPU sleep times in the kernel
CONFIG_NO_HZ

# This enables the aggressive power-saving support of  the AC97 sound 
# codecs.  In this mode, the power-mode is dynamically controlled at each
# open/close. This will save roughly ½ watt of power.
CONFIG_SND_AC97_POWER_SAVE

# This automatically disables UHCI USB when not in use. This saves 
# roughly 1 Watt of power.
CONFIG_USB_SUSPEND

And add these tweaks to your startup scripts:

# Wake up the disk less often
echo 1500 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_writeback_centisecs

# Enable laptop mode
echo 5 > /proc/sys/vm/laptop_mode

# Enable powersave mode for AC97
echo 1 > /sys/module/snd_ac97_codec/parameters/power_save

After you set these and rebuild your kernel with those options, you should now be consuming a lot less power than the “stock kernel”. Good luck!

Building custom kernels for Ubuntu

Tags:

I’ve been building kernels for a very long time. In fact, I even wrote my own kernel HOWTO describing how to do it.

When I install a new Linux distribution from original media, the first thing I do, is replace the stock kernel with my own custom build, which is optimized for my own environment (tuning HZ, removing unused drivers, patching some other interfaces, etc.).

When I moved from Debian to Ubuntu, building kernels became a problem. All of the kernels I’d try to build from the upstream source would fail to complete a boot. At first, I thought it was something with mkinitrd(1). I tried to fix that and it would still fail to complete a boot.

So I started looking for some better options, and came up with this very small HOWTO:

Read the rest of this entry »

Won’t someone ELSE think about the children?

This is what we’ve become. We’ve taken one step closer to becoming a society that takes no responsibility for anything our children do.

Think of the Children

The powers-that-be are looking to enforce a Super V-Chip to not only screen and filter television content, but content on all sources of media ranging from mobile phones to the Internet.

What is a “V-Chip“? I’m glad you asked!

V-chip is a generic term used for television receivers allowing the blocking of programs based on their ratings category. It is intended for use by parents to manage their children’s television viewing. Most 13-inch and larger televisions manufactured for the United States market since 1999 and all units as of January 2000 are required to have the V-chip technology. Many devices similar to the V-chip have been produced.

The rated programs’ signals are encoded according to the rating, on line 21 of the broadcast signal’s vertical blanking interval using the XDS protocol, and this is detected by the television set’s V-chip. If the program’s rating is outside the level configured as acceptable on that particular television, the program is blocked.

As with all technology, there are simple, non-technology solutions around it. Children are smart, I know my daughter is. If I put a lock on the television or her mobile phone, she’ll just go to a friend’s house and watch the “forbidden” show there, or on her friends’ cellphones.

Luckily for my daughter, she has parents who care about her upbringing, and she knows what is wrong and right, and she’ll make the decisions that are best for her. Telling a child that they’re not allowed to do something, is a sure-fire way to get them to figure out a way to do that exact thing without your knowledge.

At what point did we stop becoming parents, and start blaming everyone else for the poor habits and upbringing of our own children?

Another glaring flaw in the iPod

I use my iPod quite a bit for relaxing, cycling, listening to podcasts, thousands of songs ripped from my extensive CD collection and carrying bootable Linux ISO images to install Linux on other machines via my iPod. I use it a LOT!

iPod 5th Generation podcast bugs

One of the most annoying things about the iPod, which still hasn’t been addressed, is the ability to play podcasts in series. Let me explain…

I use AmaroK on Linux and iTunes on Windows to manage the music and files on my iPod. I subscribe to several weekly podcasts, and I keep several of each podcast on my iPod at once, so I can listen to several weeks in a row in one sitting.

When I choose to listen to these podcasts, I would like to listen to these in reverse chronological order (oldest one first), which helps me catch up on news, latest trends and so on.

The major flaw in how the iPod handles these, is that there is no grouping of these podcasts, other than the title.

When I listen to one podcast in one group and it completes, I am brought back to the main iPod screen, and I have to scroll all the way back from Music → (scroll down 5 entries) Podcasts → (scroll down to my podcast title) → (scroll down to my intended date entry) → -> Select.

Every podcast I want to listen to, requires me to directly interact with it at least 10 steps. This is not exactly wise, especially if you listen during a morning commute to work.

When I’m playing an album of music, it will play Track 1 .. Track n, until the album is completed. Why aren’t podcasts treated the same way? Why not make each podcast “group” (“Ask a Ninja”, for example) treated like an album, and play each track until all tracks are played?

There are millions of iPod users out there. I can’t believe that this hasn’t been requested at least a thousand times from the users.

Does nobody listen to podcasts with their iPod?

Humorous Help of the Day

I was trying to play a .mid file from a webpage (thanks to Firefox not being able to handle that correctly, sigh), and stumbled upon xplaymidi.

$ xplaymidi 
Playmidi 2.4 Copyright (C) 1994-1997 Nathan I. Laredo, AWE32 by Takashi Iwai
This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details please see the file COPYING.
usage: xplaymidi [-options] file1 [file2 ...]
type 'xplaymidi --help' for more details

Oh, I’ll try to find out what options it supports:

$ xplaymidi --help
Playmidi 2.4 Copyright (C) 1994-1997 Nathan I. Laredo, AWE32 by Takashi Iwai
This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details please see the file COPYING.
usage: xplaymidi [-options] file1 [file2 ...]
type 'xplaymidi --help' for more details

Well that was mighty useful.

A simple one-line patch fixes all:

--- playmidi-2.4.old/playmidi.c       2007-08-01 10:08:04.000000000 -0400
+++ playmidi-2.4.new/playmidi.c   2007-08-01 10:04:45.000000000 -0400
@@ -481,7 +481,7 @@
 
     if (error || optind >= argc) {
        printf( "usage: %s [-options] file1 [file2 ...]\n", argv[0]);
-       if (error >= 0)
+       if (error == 0)
          printf ("type '%s --help' for more details\n", argv[0]);
        else
        printf( "  -v       verbosity (additive)\n"

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