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a blog by ken pardue

Archive for March, 2008

Rest in Peace ACC

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, one of my favorite classic science fiction authors, has passed away at age 90. The world has lost a truly visionary physicist and author.

Linux needs an Easy Button

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Easy ButtonLinux is great, open source is great, and the Web and servers are great. All great things. They’re just hard to configure. I’ve been trying to figure out how to set up a mail server and just run into roadblocks. Mostly, they stem from the fact that I don’t have any formal education in server administration, which is fine, since many if not most Linux admins don’t have such formal educations either. But many if not most Linux admins also live and breathe this stuff. While I am a web developer by profession, I don’t stay up until 3am hacking away at random programs, nor do I find ways of breaking my computer just so I can learn how to fix it. I like it when stuff just works ™, and Linux is a beautiful thing because it does just work… after it’s configured.

Linux just needs an Easy Button for people like me. I’ve come to recognize that that would make life a LOT easier.

Overcoming Control Everythingness

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

I recently purchased with the intent of setting up a server for my own personal email use to supplant or replace my kenneth at pardue dot com email account (Love ya, NetIdentity, but there have been too many issues with your Tucows migration not to notice). I also think it would be neat to do a Jabber chat server, use that as my OpenID, etc. While playing, though, I thought I’d plop Google Apps into the mix. Gmail on my own domain, possibly enough space to back up my 34,286 (and counting) emails, IMAP access, and my own Jabber/Google Talk account. What’s not to love? That’s where Control Everythingness comes into play.

So I have an illness called Control Everythingness. I want all of my data to be on my computer, not on the web, and if it is on the web, I want it to be on a server that I control. I don’t care for the thought of vendor lock in, and that includes the popular Web 2.0 services that are out there. I also don’t care for my privacy being compromised, and I can’t help but see Google as being a time-bomb of privacy issues. After all, the company is extremely proud that it has stored every single search query since the early 2000’s, while not being candid about what it does do to protect privacy. But I can get past that. If I let myself stop using services for every little thing there is to mistrust in a company, I’d be living in a cold, damp cave somewhere. Scratch that, I’d probably think the cave maker was up to no good.

There are three things that bother me about web-based apps, especially free web-based apps. 1) That all these supposed free or advertising-driven services will one day go away in some web-2.0 bubble burst, taking my data with them. 2) That these companies will, in order to avoid #1, start charging, or increase charges beyond reasonable levels. And 3) That I won’t have access to my data when I’m away from the Internet.

Number 3 is rapidly fading since the Internet is everywhere. It really will be everywhere if I finally break down and get myself an iPhone some day. But numbers 1 and 2 are a valid concern. Data portability is there, but who wants to have to move their data to some other service/platform in a frenzy? It takes forever to just get used to one way of doing things, it’s a pain to migrate to something else. I mean, my desktop applications will fade into obsolescence if they’re discontinued, but at least my data will stay accessible until at least the next major OS upgrade. And data portability isn’t all there yet, either. Sure, there are standards, but in almost every case there are plenty of companies’ “interpretations” of the standards. Take SCORM, or GEDCOM, or even IMAP (in test migrating my Sent Email, they all showed up as being sent “To: me” instead of the person that I actually sent them to, even though the email indicated From: Kenneth To: Somebody Else). Everybody’s interpretation is different, and that makes things hard for people like me.

So, I’m still not sure if I’m going to permanently switch over to the account or way of doing things, even though I’m sure it’ll be a lot more stable than NetIdentity/ For the meantime, if anyone wants to contact me I can now be reached at kenneth at pardue dot ws. And I can be reached on GTalk/Jabber at the same address. Send me a line and let me know what you think! … assuming you’ve made it this far in reading.