Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Unblock Mahmood.tv

UPDATE [02 nov 2006]: Mahmood.tv is unblocked. Congrats to all bloggers

I never thought this day will ever come. Mahmood is a great inspiration to every single Bahraini blogger. We were homeless; reading foreign blogs, and commenting on topics that are not related to us; until Mahmood.tv came out. Shame on you Min. of Info

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Great Open Source Weekend

What is it with me, open source, and weekends these days. Both Fedora Core 6 and Ubuntu Edgy are released and I downloaded them immediately. I have 2 Ubuntu desktops so I scraped the not-very-much-used one and installed fedora 6 on it. I haven't spent enough time on Fedora 5 as I had it as a virtual machine running in Ubuntu and I rarely logged into it. As for the Edgy upgrade, the Ubuntu partition is my main desktop now so I'll keep the upgrade for next weekend.

The first thing about Fedora 6 is the new and spectacular DNA driven theme and the logo change. It seems I was away of the fedora community for so long that the initiative had changed gears and had a major restructuring without me noticing much. I read sometime ago about some changes in the way the fedora project is managed by Redhat and I noticed the logo change in version 5 but never paid enough attention. Anyways, it seems what happened is definitely for the betterment of the community. Fedora 6 is very promising and the Gnome based user interface with the DNA background image is very neat.

I haven't installed much of tools on it yet due the very noticeable issue of network access slowness. I suspect it has to do with IPv6 because I remember lots of posts online complaining about it on some old versions of fedora and its bad effects on the network access speed so this could be related. Ubuntu apt-get installation tool is extremely fast and the Ubuntu repositories are fast too. Fedora's yum is no where as fast and it is very irritating in comparison to apt-get. I'll keep you posted with my fedora endeavors so keep tuned

Since I have both of the Ubuntu and fedora desktop screens in front of me, I thought it is a good chance to share one keyboard and one mouse to work on both of them. I tried Synergy sometime ago but couldn't make it work on windows and I thought I'll give it another try. It is a software based KVM tool that makes sharing a single mouse and a keyboard between multiple computers very easy. I sudo apt-get install it on Ubuntu and su -c 'yum install' it on fedora. It took me a couple of seconds to create the config file on my Ubuntu to make it as a server and run the synergy command to run it. Another second to run it on fedora as a client linking to the Ubuntu IP address and viola the keyboard and mouse are shared between the two. Very neat and smooth and works like a charm. Now I can move between the two screens easily with a single mouse and I can even copy+paste between them. me happy :)

Here is a good Howto for setting up synergy on Ubuntu.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Crypto Book

Thanks to iCon, I'm back reading again. I always had a thing for cryptography. If not for the tons of books I have about the topic. And the tons of print-outs from the mid 90s that are still on my bookshelves. I printed them off the net when I was a part time web site developer then. We had a slow dial up connection that was shared by 6 PCs. I never complained. Most of the crypto articles were in plain text and would download in no time. I read all of them and I'm still hungry for more.

Is it that almost all of the modern cryptography systems are totally dependent on Math? But I never got interested in Math's real life implementations. I was a purist in college and still is. I do Math for Math's sake. Nothing less; nothing more.

How come then I got so interested in cryptography?

I think it is the notion that a person can have the freedom of expression and the choice to maintain his privacy in front of the peeping eyes of corrupt governments. I never really analyzed it before but I can see that it is neither the science of cipher nor its art that made me a crypto geek.

I'm more inclined to see it driven by the agony implanted in my mind of a 6 years old child deprived of his right to be a son of a devoted and loving father. Is this really what drives me to dig deep into the complicated crypro algorithms and the detailed biographies of the crypto icons? Is it because of a father that was lost for 21 years; kicked out of Bahrain and separated from his beloved wife and 3 children?! That's something for TIME to answer!

Back to the book which I got years ago and never managed to complete. I picked it because it was simply a cryptography book. I however ended up having one of the best portrayal of the legendary Whitfield Diffie.

This is not a technical book. It is about the politics of secrecy. It is a story of a free spirit; a man who envisioned a society that has the power to maintain its privacy. It is about the people who picked upon his ideas and charged ahead towards the future. Towards our presence. Towards times that have Diffie's public-key crypto as a cornerstone of every single online purchase. Every single stock trade. Every single Internet transaction.

I finished the book this time and enjoyed every single bit of it. If you love to know the history of the people who brought to you secure and safe Internet shopping, this book is for you.

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to all.

Let's make it a celebration of love, sacrifice, and unity.