Lest someone misinterprets the last part of my previous post, I suppose I should make a slight clarification. The last paragraph was not meant to imply Websnark’s readership is incapable of independent critical thought. Such a generalization is both unrealistic and unfair, and certainly not what I intended. However, I can see how someone might read that line of reasoning into it. On the other hand, though, I’ve lost count of how many enthusiastic readers have written me, starting off with a comment such as “I was afraid to try reading GPF because of what the Websnark said about it, but then I tried it for myself and I found that I really like it….”
My main goal was to point out to potential readers of this blog (both of you) the very good observation made by the equally valid and opposing review in Tangents. Personally, I never trust the reliability of any critic until I compare his or her assessments against my own on several review targets. If we seem to be on the same wavelength, then I might trust the author’s reviews of something I haven’t seen; if we don’t agree, it’s unlikely that the reviewer’s opinions will be useful to me in the future.
The real gist of what I meant was to remind people to formulate their own opinions, no matter what you read or where you read it. Don’t take Eric Burns’ or Robert Howard’s or even my opinions about GPF or any online comic for granted.
At the suggestion of Wednesday over at Websnark, I finally made the upgrade from MT 3.15 to 3.2. I’m usually pretty quick to hop on software upgrades; heck, I’m a computer geek, so I always have to have the latest and greatest, don’t I? Keep in mind, though, that I’m a blogging neophyte. There’s a small part of me that’s afraid to sneeze at my browser while typing this, that I’ll somehow mess it up (or worse, get boogers all over my LCD). That’s not a natural state me for. When it comes to tech stuff, I should be a whiz. Heck, I’m going to be telling the sys admins at work how to install Apache into System V start-up scripts in a few days. This shouldn’t be a problem.
The upgrade wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped, or as Wednesday led me to believe. It’s certainly not her fault, of course; most likely, it’s because I’ve got a rather funky setup here on Demeter, since I’m hosting several virtual hosts from bizarre locations (especially the blog). I ended up having to do some manual file shuffling (tar is my friend), but it only took about 15 minutes tops. You’ll probably notice me tweaking the site every so often, as I try to figure out if there are any bells and whistles that I like.
(And yes, you saw correctly: I linked to Websnark, even after what Mr. Burns said about GPF way back when. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but one man’s opinion is no more important than anyone else’s. I’d just suggest people follow Robert Howard’s advice and formulate their own opinions about something rather than letting other people decide for them. It makes for a much more interesting life.)
Well, it’s been a week-ish since I first linked to the blog from the GPF News, and it seems to be generating at least a little bit of traffic. Donald Crankshaw over at “Back of the Envelope” wrote an interesting appendium to my “God’s not politically correct…” entry from a while back. His additions add a lot to what I was thinking when I wrote my post back in April. (I really ought to turn on TrackBack pings (or whatever they’re called) and find out when people actually link here.)
Not much else to say at the moment, other than to remind folks that I’ll be in Atlanta this weekend for Dragon*Con. The gory details are all up in the pre-con report over at GPF. If you’re going and you want up-to-the-minute info, or if you’re not going and just want that virtual con experience, make sure to check out that page daily during the con. I plan to get more ConCam footage this time, especially since I’ll be on the webcomics panel this year.
I decided to try something new yesterday. While researching something else, I ended up following a link or two and wound up at the GNU Privacy Guard (or GnuPG or GPG for short) website. GnuPG is, of course, the GPL replacement for PGP, the program that brought public-key cryptography to the desktop.
I toyed around with PGP a while back, but never did much with it. At the time, my current mail client (Eudora) didn’t integrate well (i.e., at all) with PGP, and I was unwilling to upgrade my ancient version to the newest one because it had turned into “ad-ware” (which means you can use it for free if it you let it display ads, like Opera). Since I couldn’t get Eudora and PGP to talk, I kind of abandoned it all. Years later, my aging Eudora version choked on the vast volume of mail I received while away on vacation for a week (several thousand messages at least), and I was forced to migrate to something more current: Mozilla. Eventually Mozilla gave way to Thunderbird, which is what I’m happily using now. And what do you know, with Enigmail sitting in between, GnuPG and Thunderbird talk together beautifully.
Mind you, I’m not the paranoid type. I joke about triple-encrypting my story notes on a machine disconnected from any network to keep them from prying eyes, but I don’t really. (Although, now that I’ve admitted that, I actually might reconsider.) But being online, I often deal with people who are that paranoid, and it never hurts to prove that you really are who you say you are. I’ve always been mildly afraid that I’d tick someone off somewhere and they’d start impersonating me online, getting me into all sorts of libelous trouble. So better safe than sorry, I suppose.
I’ve posted my public key here on this site for anyone who really wants it. I’ll also post it somewhere on the GPF site soon (although I haven’t decided where yet). The fingerprint is included for verification. Of course, if you don’t care about such things, then don’t worry about it. It’s really there for the few of you who do.
Now… where should I put the triple-encrypted copy of the Year Eight timeline…?
Sometimes the tiniest little things annoy me. Some time ago, Keenspot switched operating systems from Linux to FreeBSD because supposedly FreeBSD is more stable for Web servers. This wasn’t a recent change; it’s been at least a year or two now. But ever since they made the change, a few other things changes as well. Most notably, my login shell switched from bash to tcsh.
I guess it could be said that a UNIX user’s shell says a lot about him or her. Me, I’ve used quite a few different shells over the years, but most of my experience is with bash. It’s what I use on Demeter (the machine this site is housed on) as it’s the default shell for Red Hat and Fedora. Of course, tcsh uses different configuration files (.login and .cshrc) than bash (.bash_profile and .bashrc), so for months now my login to the Keen server has been sufficiently screwed up, and none of my old settings have been working.
(Of course, the average Keenspotter probably wouldn’t be bothered by this. I’d say the vast majority of them simply use FTP to upload files and forget them. I’m probably one of the very few outside the Keen Tech Crew to actually use SSH to log in upon occasion. Leave it to me to be different, of course.)
Well, tweaking the $PATH was simple enough, but what’s really bothered me is that my prompt isn’t what I want. Having grown up on DOS, I’m used to seeing my current path as part of the prompt. So the first thing I do on a new UNIX account is tweak my prompt to show the current path if it doesn’t already. Simple enough to do in bash, apparently, but not tcsh. I’ve been pouring over my UNIX books for the past couple days, trying every thing I could to get it to work. It was starting to really bother me. Fortunately a quick Google search turned up this site, and the tcsh trick worked like a charm.
I suppose I’m too obsessive about these things.
Back on my trip to Comic-Con, I read a rather interesting article. Whenever I go on a long trip or anticipate a situation where I’ll be doing a lot of waiting (like on a plane or at the doctor’s office), I’ll often sync up with AvantGo to get a little reading material. One of the channels I subscribe to is Wired, although I admit it’s low on my priority list and I usually only get to it after I’ve exhausted most of the other channels I subscribe to. Still, I often find a few bizarre and interesting tidbits, like this little article here.
To summarize: Electronic privacy advocates like the EFF have found an odd new ally in Katherine Albrecht, who is opposed to RFID tagging, a new and up-and-coming technology used by businesses to manage their inventory. Why is Ms. Albrecht opposed to RFID? Well, aside from the usual tin-foil hat Big Brother conspiracy theories, she’s added a new angle that other privacy nuts haven’t hit upon: she believes that RFID may be, at least in part, the fulfillment of the Mark of the Beast (see Revelation 13:16-18).
I find it interesting the reactions coming from the usually liberal and quite often anti-Christian computer literates that usually support privacy concerns. Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the EFF, was quoted as saying, “Many of us in the mainstream privacy community don’t know how to reach out to [the Christian community].” Considering the sentiments I usually perceive of Christians by the hacker community, it isn’t surprising. I suppose it hadn’t occurred to anyone to simply ask….
But I digress. There was only one point I wanted to make from this article. I don’t want to belittle anyone’s opinions on the subject; I myself am mildly concerned about RFID and its potential implications on privacy. I can also see, as both a technology geek and a Bible-believing Christian, how RFID could possibly breathe life into the Devil’s world personal identification system. The concept of implantable ID chips has been around for a while (our cat Kiki is herself a “cyberkitty” with an implanted chip), and RFID is next logical step in technology. But here’s my question: Is this what we as Christians should really be focusing on?
Let us say, hypothetically, that RFID is indeed the future tool of Satan and will ultimately provide the vehicle for the Beast’s Mark. If that is the Will of God (or rather, the will of Satan, which God knew about and warned us of 2000 years ago), then who are we to stop it? A commenter on the article pointed to 2 Thessalonians 2:7, calling Albrecht and her supporters the “restrainer” mentioned, but I kind of doubt that. That sounds more like the work of higher powers than just minor political movement. The Devil is far too powerful an enemy and has too many allies in this world; he plays politics better than any human could.
Wouldn’t it be a better use of the Church’s time to stop demonizing a technology that may or may not play a role in future events that we cannot stop and to instead concentrate on winning lost souls to Christ? If indeed RFID is the implementation of the Mark, maybe we as Christians should focus more on evangelizing and advancing the Kingdom of God than trying to thwart the kingdom of Satan. If this means time is running out, then we have to work harder at the job we were left on earth to perform and less on political agendas.
Technology in and of itself is never evil. Technology is a tool, and it can be put to many uses, both for good or for evil. It is the one using the tool that determines the morality or immorality of its use. I think Satan can be just as insidious in his schemes whether he’s using RFID chips or Furbys. So for now I say we let Wal-Mart use RFID to bring better bargains to its customers. I’ve got better reasons not to shop there (like the rude staff and even more rude customers).
Okay, I’ll get out of the pulpit now.
I’m back from Comic-Con, if you hadn’t guessed. Had a blast. You can get the skinny in the GPF Comic-Con 2005 Con Report if you’re curious. There’s also some interesting video footage for subscribers to Keenspot PREMIUM (once I get the bugs fixed).
I’ve been off-and-on-again sick since Comic-Con. Alan Foreman (S.S.D.D.) imported his cold over from the U.K., and I probably caught it off him in the cramped confines of the Keenspot booth. It knocked me down hard in the days immediately after returning from the con, and I thought I had recovered. Unfortunately for me, just about any respiratory ailment I get goes directly to my lungs and sets up camp, so it usually turns into bronchitis and, if I don’t catch it early enough, pneumonia. I thought I had it licked last week, but it seems to have gained strength in the past couple days. Guess I’m heading to the doctor tonight.
Next con is Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA, September 2-5. The pre-con report is up and I’ll update it when I can. Unfortunately, D*C is always on Labor Day, which means it almost always interferes with my dad’s birthday. He’ll be getting his birthday present early this year anyway.
Not much else to write at the moment. Don’t forget to check the last post, BTW. I actually wrote it on the plane to San Diego, and back-dated it to the approximate time it was written (but it didn’t get posted until today). Just an amusing anecdote.