Holidailies 2005

Postings during the 30 days of Holidailies 2005 (www.holidailies.org).

How Lobbyists Influence Legislation

In the wake of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, John Dickerson writes an interesting article in Slate on how lobbying really works. He explains, unlike what many people think, there is no quid pro quo. Lobbying isn't a trading cash-for-votes deal.

Instead, lobbying is a much subtler activity. The lobbyist gets access, and the legislator (or their staff) use them as a resource to understand an issue. In this way, the legislator's position can become aligned with whichever lobbyists get the access. That's why, after all, SBC has almost as many lobbyists as Texas has legislators. If it was just about cash then SBC would just need one lobbyist and a wheelbarrow. It isn't, it's about influence. Each lobbyist is a touchpoint to increase influence.

Dickerson makes clear that although Abramoff-style kickbacks are not a normal part of the lobbying process, cash is important because it buys access. I hope that when the post-Abramoff lobbying reforms happen, they may restore a little balance, so that the shallow-pocketed citizen groups will become more effective.

How the Koobox Home Linux System Stacks Up

I recently saw an article about a low-cost computer system with Linux pre-installed called the Koobox. The entry-level system, called the "Essential Koobox", looks ideal for home usage.

I thought I'd see how the system stacks up against an entry-level Dell. For comparison I started with the bottom-of-the-line Dell home system (the Dimension B110) and configured it as close as I could to the Koobox.

December Plan

It's good to have a plan. It's good when the plan works. Sometimes, it's better when it doesn't.

I had a plan for December. I had just wrapped up a contract and I expected business to be slow during the holiday season. So rather than jump right into looking for a new gig, I thought I'd take a month to work on personal and community projects. I would do a lot and learn a lot, and it would give me a lot of grist for writing.

A Couple of web-nsupdate Implementation Hints

I recently released a utility called web-nsupdate that implements a lightweight dynamic DNS update service. Now that you've had a few days to download and unpack and install the package, here are some hints to help use it better: one on the server side and another on the client.

First, a hint for the server. In the installation directions (step 9) I describe how you need to modify the zone configuration to add a dynamic client. Here is a portion of the named.conf file that illustrates that change:

zone "example.com" {
	type master;
	# add the lines below, one per host in the zone
	update-policy {
		grant web-nsupdate. name host1.example.com. A;
		grant web-nsupdate. name host2.example.com. A;

Here is the hint: don't do it.

Swordfish is an Ugly, Stupid Movie

Film, at its best, engages you or entertains you. Swordfish (2001), on the other hand, brings you nothing. Worse than nothing. When it was over I felt like it had sucked away a small part of my soul. It is an ugly and stupid movie.

I've been tearing through DVDs while convalescing from a cold. I was browsing the aisles at Encore Music and Video for something fun. (Note to person who has West Wing season five disc three checked out: return the damn disc please.) I came across Swordfish and thought I'd give it a watch. I remembered it as a thriller. It got extra bonus points by riffing on an old Marx Brothers joke. Plus Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry and Vinny Barbarino—hey, what could possibly go wrong?

web-nsupdate: A Lightweight Dynamic DNS Service

Earlier this year, I changed my residential broadband network gateway to a Linksys WRT54G running the OpenWrt Linux distribution. Back in July, I wrote about why dynamic DNS is useful to in this sort of environment, and my frustration that the nsupdate utility is so ill-suited to it.

The solution I described was to run nsupdate not on the WRT54G client, but on a remote server that has the MIPS and MBs to run it. I implemented a package called web-nsupdate that runs on the server and receives requests from the client to set its host address. Requests are performed as a simple web transaction.

Favorite Movies of 2005

I was looking over a list of movies released in 2005, and realized that I'd seen 21 of them, more than I'd thought. I guess that—in combination with a lingering cold that has knocked me out and made me worthless for any task that requires concentration—qualifies me to do a "Best of 2005" movies list.

So, here are my "Best of 2005" movie picks. Rather than choose an arbitrary number ("ten best"), I want to select those few movies that particularly delighted or interested me for some reason—sometimes unexpectedly so. I recommend them all.

The Ones that Got Away: the Movie Version

As you may know, it's Holidailies time at IJTLCSH. I believe, for the most part, I've been able to meet my post-a-day quota with articles of note or interest—without resorting to filler.

Well, folks, that's about to change. Here is a grab bag of film-related topics that I've been thinking about.


I saw the renowned movie Inherit the Wind the other night. Gawd, I hated it.

Where to Advocate Open Source?

Both non-profit and for profit organizations can benefit from open source software. Should open source advocates lump them together or treat them differently?

The question is not just academic. Yesterday, I met with some folks advocating open source software in Central Texas. Our immediate goal is to produce some event, possibly based on the Penguin Day concept. That's a type of workshop for non-profit organizations.

Bad Behavior by McAfee Anti-Virus

Now I understand why McAfee had a shrinkwrap license clause that banned people from criticizing their software. They'd be out of business if more folks knew how terrible their anti-virus software was.

I typically work on the server side of things. Recently I had to deal with setting up a Toshiba laptop with McAfee anti-virus pre-installed. It was a terrible ordeal, thanks to the McAfee software.

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