Monday, February 23, 2009
For most of my computer-using life, I haven't had to worry too much about the security of my computers and networks. I always had physical control of the machines. I had passwords on the accounts. I use WEP and WPA on my wi-fi. Best of all, I never had anything very valuable on the machines.
However, for the past year or so, I have a had a potential intruder to worry about: a ten-year old boy named Bailey.
So far, we are not too worried about Bailey's computer use. We monitor his use, both openly and covertly, and he hasn't done anything dangerous or malicious. When he does do things that he's not supposed to do, he doesn't try to cover his tracks. However, he definitely values expediency over rule-following, so if logging into his mom's account is the easiest way to get cheat codes for Pokemon, or if he thinks plugging his iPod into my computer will let him download the movie he wants, then that's what happens. Threats of punishment don't deter him.
So, I've had to start acting a bit like one of those network-admin people who have always annoyed me. I force everyone in the house to log in to computers with their own accounts. I set up computers to automatically go into screen-saver mode after a period of inactivity, and require a password to get out. I've created some scripts that can quickly shut down Bailey's computer, or forcefully log him out.
So far, Bailey hasn't shown much interest in learning how to bypass any of these measures. I don't know how long that will last. Part of me hopes that he will outsmart me. But another part of me hopes that won't happen for a little while longer.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Humor on Twitter
It is worth using Twitter just to get some laughs from these people:
- The Onion: @theonion
- Tina Fey: @TinaFey
- John Hodgman: @hodgman
- Paula Poundstone: @paulapoundstone
- John Cleese: @JohnCleese
And it would be nice if these people still posted things once in a while:
Please let me know if I've missed anyone.
Friday, February 13, 2009
MacBook Pro Status Report
I've been using my new MacBook Pro at work for over a month, in a strongly Windows-centric workplace, and so far things have gone very well.
Most of my work involves Linux programming, so I just run Linux in a VMWare image like I did when I had a Windows laptop. This works even better on my new Mac than it did on my old laptop, because I have a better X11 server for Mac OS X and because I can use all the standard UNIXish utilities to transfer and process files on the two platforms.
On a few occasions, I have had to launch my Windows XP VMWare image to get some things done:
- One of our team members compresses things using WinZip 12. Only WinZip 12 can de-compress compressed files in this new format, and there is no Mac version of WinZip.
- I used Word for Mac to update a document, and it was displaying weird in Print Layout view. I opened the document in WordPad (and OpenOffice) in Windows to verify that it looked fine in other editors. (It did.)
- I use Remote Desktop Connection on Windows to access some servers.
- I occasionally access Windows network shares from Windows. I can access them directly from the Mac through the Finder too, most of the time, but sometimes there are authentication issues that I can't solve.
So far, thumbs up on using a Mac in a Windows world.
Friday, February 06, 2009
On the Stack Overflow podcast, Joel Spolsky has noted a couple of times that he's never met a programmer who didn't get an 800 on the math portion of the SAT.
I used to be pretty proud of my 790 SAT math score. But now it's proof that I'm not as smart as any of the programmers Joel has ever met.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I've decided to give Twitter a try. So far, I'm not too impressed. It's essentially just a bunch of tiny RSS feeds that update very frequently. In other words, it makes the Internet an even bigger waste of time. But, as with everything Internet-related, the joy is finding the occasional gem within all the muck.
If you're on Twitter too, you can find me as @OldManKris
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Macintosh SE/30: Best Mac Ever
As all right-thinking people know, the Macintosh SE/30 is the best Mac ever made. Here are a couple of articles detailing why:
The SE/30 was the first Mac I ever owned, graciously provided by my parents during my sophomore year of college. It was a nice upgrade from the Atari 800 that I had through high school.
Back then, Macs weren't just highly polished alternatives to PCs. Back then, Macs were Different. The SE/30 was the pinnacle of the original all-in-one "cute" Macintosh design.
I loved that SE/30. I learned 68030 assembly so that I could write a Missile Command clone for it. I learned about user interface design. I learned C. I learned how to use a low-level debugger (MACSBUG). I pored through all the volumes of Inside Macintosh. I played with HyperCard. Being a Macintosh programmer played a large role in forming my professional skills and interests.
Alas, I eventually decided that I needed a Power Mac 6100, and the SE/30 went into the closet. Then I started literally using it as a doorstop. A few years later, I traded it for a new hard drive.
That was a bad trade.