Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas, ladies and gentlecats...

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a computer was stirring, neither keyboard nor mouse;
The packages were updated, each one with care,
In hopes that St. Linus soon would be there;

The daemons were idle using no CPU,
The firewall working left them nothing to do;
And I with emerge, and Akira with apt-get,
Had just settled down for a long winter's fetch,

When out on the net there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to to see what was the matter.
Away to my browser I flew like a flash,
Opened a new tab and clicked the link mighty fast.

The words on my screen with release notes just so
Gave the lustre of mid-day to source code below,
When, what would make my wondering eyes smile,
But a official release in a gzipped tar file,

"Now, Red Hat! now, S.u.S.E.! now, Ubuntu and Knoppix!
On, Slackware! on Debian! on Gentoo and Gnoppix!
To the nearest mirror! to the next major release!
Now build away! build away! build away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the mirrors the hackers they flew,
To see their new toys, and thank St. Linus too.

He sprang to his keyboard, to his team sent a note,
And away they all flew to 2.7, new features they wrote,
But I heard him exclaim, ere make config was gone,

Friday, December 10, 2010

Privacy Policy Updated

Upon a lot of contemplative reflection, I've come to the realization that privacy on-line isn't what it used to be. I saw this post about the "The first truly honest privacy policy" and it really made a lot of sense to me. So much, so, that I have decided to adopt it here, as well. Behold, the new privacy policy for and any other sites in my little network.

At we value your privacy a great deal. Almost as much as we value the ability to take the data you give us and slice, dice, julienne, mash, puree and serve it to our business partners, which may include third-party advertising networks, data brokers, networks of affiliate sites, parent companies, subsidiaries, and other entities, none of which we’ll bother to list here because they can change from week to week and, besides, we know you’re not really paying attention.

We’ll also share all of this information with the government. We’re just suckers for guys with crew cuts carrying subpoenas.

Remember, when you visit our Web site, our Web site is also visiting you. And we’ve brought a dozen or more friends with us, depending on how many ad networks and third-party data services we use. We’re not going to tell which ones, though you could probably figure this out by carefully watching the different URLs that flash across the bottom of your browser as each page loads or when you mouse over various bits. It’s not like you’ve got better things to do.

Each of these sites may leave behind a little gift known as a cookie -- a text file filled with inscrutable gibberish that allows various computers around the globe to identify you, including your preferences, browser settings, which parts of the site you visited, which ads you clicked on, and whether you actually purchased something. Those same cookies may let our advertising and data broker partners track you across every other site you visit, then dump all of your information into a huge database attached to a unique ID number, which they may sell ad infinitum without ever notifying you or asking for permission.

Also: We collect your IP address, which might change every time you log on but probably doesn’t. At the very least, your IP address tells us the name of your ISP and the city where you live; with a legal court order, it can also give us your name and billing address (see guys with crew cuts and subpoenas, above).

Besides your IP, we record some specifics about your operating system and browser. Amazingly, this information (known as your user agent string) can be enough to narrow you down to one of a few hundred people on the Webbernets, all by its lonesome. Isn’t technology wonderful?

The data we collect is strictly anonymous, unless you’ve been kind enough to give us your name, email address, or other identifying information. And even if you have been that kind, we promise we won’t sell that information to anyone else, unless of course our impossibly obtuse privacy policy says otherwise and/or we change our minds tomorrow.

We store this information an indefinite amount of time for reasons even we don’t fully understand. And when we do eventually get around to deleting it, you can bet it’s still kicking around on some network backup drives in somebody’s closet. So once we have it, there’s really no getting it back. Hell, we can’t even find our keys half the time -- how do you expect us to keep track of this stuff?

Not to worry, though, because we use the very bestest security measures to protect your data against hackers and identity thieves, though no one has actually ever bothered to verify this. You’ll pretty much just have to take our word for it.

So just to recap: Your information is extremely valuable to us. Our business model would totally collapse without it. No IPO, no stock options; all those 80-hour weeks and bupkis to show for it. So we’ll do our very best to use it in as many potentially profitable ways as we can conjure, over and over, while attempting to convince you there’s nothing to worry about.

(Hey, Did somebody hold a gun to your head and force you to visit this site? No, they did not. Did you run into a pay wall on the home page demanding your Visa number? No, you did not. You think we just give all this stuff away because we’re nice guys? Bet you also think every roomful of manure has a pony buried inside.)

This privacy policy may change at any time. In fact, it’s changed three times since we first started typing this. Good luck figuring out how, because we’re sure as hell not going to tell you. But then, you probably stopped reading after paragraph three.