someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Tue 1 May 01 12:09
Police in London have adopted this weird tactic of holding the crowds still in clumps and refusing to let them move. They say it's intended to calm things down. I can't imagine being calmed down by being forced to stand in a dense crowd without moving for hours. wg
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Tue 1 May 01 12:10
btw, apparently the Usenet archive is now back at < http://groups.google.com/advanced_group_search> wg
Jeff Kramer (jeffk) Tue 1 May 01 12:20
I went back and read a bunch of my posts from 1994 and 1995 the other day. It was freaky and weird. I miss the old net!
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Tue 1 May 01 12:35
We *are* the Old Net. wg
Jeff Kramer (jeffk) Tue 1 May 01 12:46
Everybody I know gives me the evil eye when I start talking about the pre- Netscape net. I need to go to a WOP, maybe.
George Hunka (tally) Tue 1 May 01 13:21
Heh. I used to have a Delphi shell account -- this is 10 years ago now. Still love that ASCII text, though. Time to cart me off to the home. ...
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Tue 1 May 01 14:06
Yeah, I read the WELL in green letters on a black background using Pico. wg
George Hunka (tally) Tue 1 May 01 14:19
Any thoughts on the way shell accounts are disappearing, Wendy? My ISP is Panix in New York City, and I discovered that the best thing about having a shell account is just how educational it can be. I picked up the basics of programming through the Perl and Python interpreters, and I would never have gotten to know UNIX without it. Apparently, though, it's getting harder and harder to get an account with a command-line interface, especially away from urban areas.
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Tue 1 May 01 14:20
They're a security risk, and there's not much demand for them.
Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Tue 1 May 01 14:37
Well, those are the rationalizations put forward by the business types, anyway.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 1 May 01 15:26
#74: > Watch how you phrase that. Time-Warner bought CNN some time ago. Sorry, I've got used to referring to Time-Warner as AOL/Time-Warner. Incidentally, there's some interesting stuff about the relevance of CNN's acquisition in the long profile of Ted Turner in this week's New Yorker.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 1 May 01 15:27
Re. the educational value of shell accounts: how much of that that education can you get by loading Linux?
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Tue 1 May 01 18:24
It's actually pretty cheap to get a shell account these days, anyway, they're just not provided by the guys who sell dialup service. You can easily get a shell account for 5 or 10 bucks a month from any number of Web hosting companies. I think that the expertise required to run servers that provide public shell access has mostly migrated out of the dialup access arena. I don't think it would be economical for Earthlink, ATT, or an RBOC to provide that service. However, the Web hosting firms are perfect for this, and do, in fact, provide it.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 1 May 01 23:35
To what extent are those accounts restricted?
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Wed 2 May 01 02:33
None of the big ISPs ever offered shell accounts in the UK, I think. At any rate, I don't think I've ever had one, though I still have a number of online things I can run manually using text only. CIX has a nifty, largely forgotten, macro facility which you can use to make it jump through hoops. I've never really explored half the WELL's capabilities. But can't you do a lot of things you used to be able to do with a shell account directly from a DOS box on your own computer? Or linux machine? wg
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Wed 2 May 01 06:27
My account at pair.com is not restricted in any discernable way, other than that I have only normal user privileges, and I can't read lots of system files that I probably ought not be reading anyway.
George Hunka (tally) Wed 2 May 01 06:59
Before Linux was released there wasn't any easy way to learn Unix on a widely-available PC or Mac (dual-boot was even more poorly supported than it is today), and DOS, while it resembles Unix, is a very very poor second. Yes, it's also possible to learn the basics of Unix on the Well, and in fact I believe the user's manual has a section about how to do so. (I know the manual for Echo does.)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 2 May 01 07:09
Getting back to _From Anarchy to Power_... Wendy, in chapter 5, "A Thousand Points of Failure," you talk about network security issues, viruses, etc. You mention a lack of diversity that contributes to virus attacks... mentioning a "moncultural, cloned-sheep type of weakness," and talk about some of the security holes in the widely-proliferated Microsoft products. I've always thought an acceptance of standards (vs diversity) was a good thing in that it supports interoperability, and that the Microsoft security flaws were related more to an inattention to security issues by Microsoft developers than to a lack of diversity, would you agree? And do you think we have better security now, after highly-publicized viruses like Melissa? (And also, with cable and DSL providers of high-bandwidth service - have they done a better job of shielding their users from intrustion?) (I directed this question to Wendy, but anybody and everybody please chime in...)
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Wed 2 May 01 09:36
I think several issues there are, er, conflated. The fact that there are bugs and holes in Microsoft's products are problems relating to Microsoft development. Arguably, they'd matter less if fewer people depended on those products. But viruses like Melissa, the email things that make the rounds, etc., all depend on a uniformity of directory structure and software functions. eg, Melissa can't work on my system because I use Ameol, not Outlook Express, so it has no standard address book format it can use to send copies of itself to the first 50 people. Similarly, a hacker installing a trojan on my system is not going to be able to do much with my Quicken data files if he's relying on their being stored in the standard directory that Quicken puts them in (because my structure is different). And so on. There are a lot of things Microsoft still doesn't provide in terms of operating system security. I was interviewing t a guy the other week who told me that they found in the course of building their network monitoring products that later versions of Windows have a hidden file that stores a list of *every URL you ever visit and never deletes any of it*. Probably more a privacy issue than a security one, but still pretty astonishing. One of the big problems is that it isn't enough for MS to release a patch; everyone has to *install* the patch -- and most people don't know to look for it and/or don't know what a patch is. In the UK, ADSL and cable modem providers do supply some security now, yes. It's only if you ask for it to be turned off so you can do stuff like Internet phone, Netmeeting...that you're expected to supply your own firewall. wg
George Hunka (tally) Wed 2 May 01 09:45
I'm looking forward to reading Chapter 5 tonight -- the book's in stores here in New York now, so readers should go get a copy. Wendy: Un*x's defenders like to say that their operating system is more bullet-proof to break-ins and viruses, both because of and despite the fact that it was designed as a multiuser OS. However, tucked away on boards like /., there seem to be more reports of viruses and security problems specific to Un*x, particularly the DNS servers. Do you know anything about this?
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Wed 2 May 01 13:51
Not a whole lot, no -- I'd have to read /. wg
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 2 May 01 14:11
I found a comment about Unix-specific viruses at http://lists.gnac.net/firewalls/mhonarc/firewalls.199901/msg00392.html It was posted in 1999, and suggests that there are few Unix viruses...the larger problem being latent viruses resident on Unix systems.
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Wed 2 May 01 16:44
AIUI one reason there are relatively few is that the potential audience/damage isn't enough to be interesting. Same reason there are relatively few Mac viruses. wg
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 2 May 01 16:50
Could also be that PCs are so much more accessible...
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Wed 2 May 01 17:01
There are plenty of reports about Unix breakins, security holes, and fixes. More reports could mean that security is actually worse, or it could just mean that Unix folks are more interested in security and more open about problems.
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