Links for July 23
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Links for July 23

I’ve collected a variety of links over the past few days. Leading off, The Slacktivist explains the real purpose behind all of the think tanks, institutes, and foundations in Washington DC — unemployment insurance for disgraced or out of power political operatives.

The Homeland Security department has decided that you can carry lighters onto planes again. Most surprising bit in this article — a DHS spokesman actually uses the term “security theater.” Maybe there’s hope after all.

I’ve been following the NBA’s referee betting scandal with interest. Bill Simmons has a great piece putting the incident in context and examining the repercussions. The NBA’s officiating problems only start with one corrupt official. The Wages of Wins has a piece arguing that the gambling scandal won’t have much effect on the NBA as a business.

I was already interested in watching Ratatouille, but after reading Michael Ruhlman’s review, I feel like going straight to the theater and watching it tonight. A coworker went to the movie this weekend and then went straight to the farmer’s market to buy the ingredients to make ratatouille on his own.

Paul Kedrosky has some simple career advice for you — do whatever gets you tenure.

Last week 3qd published a really interesting piece on Pakistan’s Red Mosque incident and the growth of Islamic extremism in Pakistan.

I of course have a couple of iPhone links today. First is an article on a remote root exploit, which comes as no surprise given that all process on the iPhone run with root privileges. The second is David Pogue talking about AT&T’s irritating billing.

Finally, for the developers, there’s the Capistrano 2.0 announcement, a good article about the complexity of handling names in internationalized applications, and an article with a few cool shell scripts that I found inspiring.

Today’s Links
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Today’s Links

What’s it like to drive a car that was featured on posters plastered over thousands of bedroom walls in the eighties? Edmunds.com is finding out, having purchased a used 1984 Ferrari 308 and subjecting it to a long term road test. Consistently fascinating.

Firefox seems to be picking up market share like crazy in Europe.

Saifedean Ammous writes about the right of return for Palestinians at 3quarksdaily. Be sure and check out the first comment for a powerful counterpoint as well.

At risk of giving more ammunition to my vegetarian friends, I post a link to this document in which Safeway pledges not to package their meat so that it doesn’t look rotten even after it starts to rot.

Today’s Links
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Today’s Links

Here’s link roundup number two. Before I get started, let me elaborate a bit more on yesterday’s mention of the old link blog. When I said that nobody read it, what I meant was that it got about 10% of the readership of the front page. I was putting more and more energy into it, and unintentionally, less into the front page. I think it makes sense to put the most energy into the bit that people are actually reading, so I consolidated the two again. Unfortunately, that meant that I was posting fewer links. I’m still trying to find the right mix.

Yesterday I saw an interesting post by Wincent Colaiuta about an old argument between Bram Cohen and Linus Torvalds on the subject of version control. Wincent declares Torvalds the victor in hindsight, which led me to look into Git, Torvalds’ version control tool. Also on the topic of version control, Subversion repository browsing tool Warehouse has been released.

John Robb wrote yesterday about how the PKK is trying to goad Turkey into a war in Iraq, and what effects that would have on Iraq in general. FP Passport posted a couple of bits of trivia that caught my eye. The conviction rate for criminals in Japan is 99.8%. The are more musicians working in the Department of Defense than there are diplomats working for the State Department.

Matt Mullenweg wrote about the lack of momentum for PHP 5. I’ll have more to say about this later.

Bunnie Huang has a great series of posts about manufacturing in China.

Rebecca Blood posted a link to a list of 14 ways to cultivate a lifetime reading habit. I do a lot of reading but I don’t read as many books as I’d like. Unfortunately, reading more books is a goal that I never seem to attain.

And finally, Mojits.com is yet another catalog of Web applications for iPhone.

Yesterday’s links
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Yesterday’s links

I still haven’t struck the balance I’d like between posting links and posting longer features here. I had the link blog for awhile, but nobody read it, so I gave up on it with the intent of posting the links to the main blog, but my output has diminished significantly. I still track lots of links, by way of my del.icio.us account. I don’t want to just repost that list of links here because some of those links aren’t really very interesting.

So now my new idea is to post a wrapup of what I’m finding here every day or two in a more narrative form. This is the first attempt.

My interest in all things iPhone continues. Yesterday I saw a big list of iPhone bugs, a big list of Web apps designed for iPhone, and a method for using your own ringtones.

I’m also interested in GNU Screen. I haven’t really started using it, but I am collecting information about it. Yesterday I saw a blog post about how to set up the status line in Screen and found a Screen tutorial. Two different people have told me how useful they find Screen lately, so I feel like I’m missing out.

Finally, I grabbed links to three different responses to Jakob Nielsen’s anti-blog article that is getting so much attention. Scott Rosenberg dissents. Jeff Atwood concurs. Christopher Fahey eviscerates.

Safari 3.0 is ahead of its time
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Safari 3.0 is ahead of its time

Turns out the same kind of bugs that were found when Apple released the beta version of Safari 3.0 for Windows are present in Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Windows instant-messaging client Trillian. They’re all related to unsafe handling of malicious URLs. The good news is that none of them worked on my Mac.

These exploits work by way of different mechanisms. When Firefox is installed on Windows, it registers itself as being the handler for any URLs that begin with “firefoxurl”. This enables developers of other applications to launch Firefox automatically. Unfortunately, this mechanism can be used to pass arbitrary instructions to Firefox via the command line. The Trillian exploit is similar. It registers itself as the handler for “aim” URLs, and then accepts the parameters passed to it and passes them to the command line without properly validating them.

These custom URL-handlers break the sandbox that we usually think of Web pages as running in, since they interact directly with applications on your local system. On computers running Windows, that means those applications generally have full administrator rights. I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of them as security researchers dig into every application that registers a URL handler with Windows.

Do you eat in the car?
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Do you eat in the car?

Here’s a number that blew me away:

Nineteen percent of meals [and snacks in the U.S.] are eaten in the car right now.

From an interview with Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilmena. (via 3qd)

I eat in the car less than one percent of the time. I would say never, but it’s a bit more frequent than never.

My iPhone analogy
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My iPhone analogy

I was telling someone the other day that the iPhone is to the original (1984) Mac as regular cell phones (like my old Motorola PEBL or Sony Ericsson T610) are to DOS. You could get things done with DOS, but the Mac was a heck of a lot friendlier.

I guess I’d say that other smart phones are like Windows 3.1. They have more applications than the iPhone but they’re not nearly as nice to use.

Of course, what most geeks want is OS X, or least Linux, but the iPhone isn’t that, either. It’s closed, you’re stuck with a few apps, and it doesn’t have all of the capabilities most people want. Its saving grace is that everything it does have is elegantly implemented. As much as I love my iPhone (and I do love it), I’m still wishing for the OS X of phones.

Think big
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Think big

Orion magazine has a meditation on the vastness of the universe that’s worth thinking on.

“To sense that behind anything that can be experienced,” Einstein once said, “there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness.”

Whatever we believe in–God, children, nationhood–nothing can be more important than to take a moment every now and then and accept the invitation of the sky: to leave the confines of ourselves and fly off into the hugeness of the universe, to disappear into the inexplicable, the implacable, the reflection of that something our minds cannot grasp.