Imperial Looms (20 Sep 2002)

Preparations for Imperial continue... Since I don't think I can fit both monitors in my room I've switched to using just one to see if I can manage. It's not too bad, I've had to rejig my desktops and I'm switching much more between them but I think I can cope. The main problem so far is that by bookmarks aren't even close to fitting on one screen. Not using multi-head also means that I can have anti-aliased fonts but I think I need to set them up a little first.

I'm also ripping all my CDs at the moment (OGG, of course). For that I've had to buy a new power supply since my old 230W browned out under the load of all 4 SCSI drives, 2 processors and a DVD drive going. This new one is going fine, hell, I might even spin up the 20GB IDE and the 36GB SCSI that I'm not using at the moment.

The move also means that I'm finally buying all the stuff I should have brought before, namely:

  • New watch, a Timex Expedition with a nice leather strap (look a little like this one). I broke the last one on a bouncy castle
  • A new short-wave radio. At the moment I use that radio in my stereo, but since the CD and tape players are broken it seems a little silly to take the whole thing.
  • A 10/100 network card (DLink 530TX, a VIA Rhine based card). A pair of these have been working 24x7 in metis for months now, so I guess they're pretty good.
  • 300W PSU (see above)
  • New headphones

The author of the T0rn rootkit has been arrested [TheReg, BBC] under the Computer Misuse Act. This is a pretty worrying development because, from the sources, it seems that the only `offence' was writing that rootkit, and isn't even very good. Hell, I could do better than that in a couple of days.

Now, I don't support writing rootkits. I know nothing of the accused author, but most of the people using it wouldn't be suitable to wipe shit off my shoe. However, writing it shouldn't be a criminal offence, for two reasons:

Firstly, where you do want to draw the line for `bad software' and who draws it? Is a rootkit bad ("sure, it's only used by little hax0r twits"), so how about exploit code? or fragrouter?, or nmap? or ping -f or DeCSS or even the Linux kernel? If we let the legal system start drawing lines then you just know that we are going to be trapped under a torrent of clueless idiots. That same kind of clueless idiots who are banning all computer games in Greece (I'm afraid that the court decision that said the law was wrong has been overturned) or calling t0rn a "route kit" (I kid you not, on BBC CEEFAX last night).

Secondly, we have a DMCA like "code is speech" argument where you have to draw another line saying "under this is free speech and above it is an illegal tool". The DeCSS case has already shown the futility of that system. Exactly how detailed a description of a rootkit can I write before it's illegal?

Unfortunately it seems that the clueless lawyers have decided to draw these lines anyway. Again. It's gonna be a damm busy wall.


Our very own, AaronSw was on the World Service last night talking about warchalking (right at the end of Newshour). He has links to an ogg (1.8MB) and MP3 (3.2MB). He may well be on NPR's Weekend Edition on Saturday. Go Aaron!