Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Ninja_bookA friend introduced me to a book recently, and after reading though it I went right out and got my own copy. Actually I bought three, so I would have two to give as gifts. It's called REAL Ultimate Power - The Official Ninja Book, and it's hilarious.

Says "author" Robert Hamburger:

"Hi, this book is all about ninjas, REAL NINJAS. This book is awesome. My name is Robert and I can't stop thinking about ninjas. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet."

From random ninja fantasies to ninja dreams to term papers written both on and off Ritalin, it's a completely random and funny book to read.

From the intro to the book:

Dear Everybody,

This is my last will and testimony. If you find this book, then you should consider me dead meat. I have left the neighborhood, because I am a true live ninja and I have a destiny - total sweetness. You probably don't understand what that is, because you're an idiot. Everybody I know doesn't understand the complete sweetness of ninjas and it hurts me - you hurt me. But don't get me wrong - I don't want your heads to explode. I forgive you, but I just deserve something cooler.

You can have all my stuff: my shirt, my beach towel, and that bowl. I don't care. But most importantly, I leave you this book so maybe, just maybe, you can understand the way of the ninja - REAL Ultimate Power.

Farewell dummies,
Robert Hamburger

Highly recommended for those who like to flip out and long for total sweetness. Seriously, it's the best $8.96 I've spent in a long time, just for the laughs. Oh and don't forget the web site.

(And by the way, there's colorful language in both the book and the site, so don't go there if you don't like that kind of stuff)

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Humor | Random Stuff
Tuesday, 29 March 2005 18:32:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 28 March 2005

SPAT_CitJourReportAs I was checking out a few of the ways the earthquake that happened earlier today is being covered, I happened upon something I had not noticed before: MSNBC.com has a whole section of Citizen Journalism:


It's not quite completely run by and written by plain-old citizen journalists, but it's still cool. MSNBC employees collect stories and letters sent to cj@msnbc.com and from there they publish the content.

Cool idea. Interesting reads.

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Monday, 28 March 2005 20:33:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 27 March 2005

Do you have a living will/advanced medical directive? If something happens to you, who should make decisions for you about medical care? Do those people know what your wishes are? How do they know?

We have all seen recent news stories that have brought this concept of advanced directives to the forefront of our minds. For my part, I don't have a directive in place yet, but I will before the month is over with.

Regardless of your wishes or desires, an advanced directive a good thing to do - not just for you, but also for the those who might have to act in your best interest.

For people living in the United States, PDF forms for Advanced Directives can be downloaded for free at The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Go here to get one for your state. Complete instructions covering how to fill it out and what to do with it are included.

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Sunday, 27 March 2005 12:04:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 26 March 2005

Eva_androidWow, researchers like David Hansen at UT-Dallas are doing some robotics work that's both amazing and freakin' creepy. The image on the right is not of a human, it is an interactive, expressive android. It's name is Eva and it's - well - go see for yourself in this Quicktime video:

Video: Eva talks [Quicktime .mov]

Hmmm, I am not so sure I like the idea of fake people acting like real people. It's fascinating and interesting, but it also looks like one of those things in science that has the potential to eventually get out of control.

Or maybe I'm just crazy. Crazy like a pirate.

[vie Engadget and University of Texas-Dallas]

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Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, 26 March 2005 08:52:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 25 March 2005

Many in America complain about how much their school systems stink. Yeah, well - it turns out that over in Melbourne, Australia they've got one up on all us Yanks:


Great name, and such a great opportunity for toilet humor.

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Humor | Random Stuff
Friday, 25 March 2005 20:00:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 24 March 2005

WindowsrocksF-Secure has a real knack for creative sarcasm on it's security weblog, and today is no exception in their headline linking to an interesting report. Apparently, a study has been published showing the relative number of vulnerabilities, comparing Windows 2003 Server to a Linux distribution in several configurations.

Update: In a won't-really-build-confidence-with-the-common-folk move, apparently the researchers did not reveal at the RSA conference that this study was funded (but according to the researchers, not influenced by) Microsoft. They reveal this fact in the published study itself, but did not tell the audience at the conference when they presented the results. Read more here.

Get the PDF file of the study here. For a document describing the methodology in detail and for more information (including an email address to provide comments), go here.

F-Secure used the headline, "It's Official - Linux Sucks?" No doubt others will comment that the reality of the situation is that Windows is better for stupid people (meaning people who don't harden their machines). Flames will go forth, but you can't deny the report.

The end result of the study is that Windows Server 2003 was more secure than the Linux distributions tested.

Uh, heh... That should make a few people stand up and scream.

Using out-of-the-box, standard/recommended OS installs, the researchers found that the Windows 2003 server was more secure, with less vulnerabilities counted and a lower average for days of risk, when compared to the Linux distributions tested (Red Hat Enterprise Linux in default and "minimal" recommended configurations):

"In this report, we have studied both quantitative and qualitative data that affects the vulnerability and thus operational security risk of different web server platforms. In order to produce a meaningful comparison of platforms, systems were tested in their default configurations and then looked at in minimal server role configurations. When the default configuration did not provide for a functional web server, systems were configured according to manufacturer’s directions."

For a quick Readers' Digest style overview of the result of the study, get the free PDF of the report and flip down to page 35 and look at the charts on that page. I won't post all the images and tables here, that's what the report is for.

In reality, this is a complex study that is worth reading. The methodologies applied appear to be good ones, and the results are pretty compelling. The real world is never as simple as s lab environment, but if nothing else, this certainly shows how far Windows Server has come over the years (or else it shows how poor Linux distributions have become, or maybe some of both).

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 24 March 2005 17:36:18 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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