gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for September 2008

Kasper Holmberg is not a hero

September 11, 2008 @ 13:04 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

You might be asking yourself is “Who is Kasper Holmberg?” and “What did he do?”.

Kasper Holmberg is the alias used by a Carleton University student who broke into a number of systems at Carleton.  He stole data from the campus identification cards of 32 students and then used this information to gain access to their email accounts and financial information.  He claims he did it to demonstrate that the cards are not secure and wrote a paper that he distributed “pretty widely” according to a university spokesman in a story on CBC’s website.  (And another story here.)

He has since been caught by campus security and is going to appear before a campus disciplinary committee who could do anything from assigning him community service to expelling him.  And the police are looking into whether criminal charges should be laid.

The student is by no means the first hacker to break into a computer system for altruistic purposes and he won’t be the last.  People have been breaking into computer systems to which they have no legitimate access to expose security holes for years.  In many cases, these individuals are glorified as “heroes” or likened to Robin Hood.  In rare instances, they have been hired by the companies whose computers they broke into as “security consultants”.  They then become role models for up and coming hackers who want their share of the fame, glory and prestige.

This is wrong.


Climbing on the Eardley Escarpment

September 09, 2008 @ 01:07 By: gordon Category: Climbing, Photography

climbing_on_eardley_escarpment I’ve been going to the climbing gym about once a week with my friend Kerri for the last few years after starting most of a decade ago.  Climbing at places like Coyote or Vertical Reality is a lot of fun and a good workout, but I’ve always wanted to go climbing on "real rocks".

A couple of weeks ago I asked my friend Robert from work if he’d take us climbing in the Gatineau Hills sometime.  He said he’d be happy to, so we arranged to meet up with him and his son this past Sunday to go climbing on the Eardley Escarpment near Luskville.

I picked Kerri up Sunday morning and we met up with Robert and his son in Tunney’s Pasture and drove to one of the rock faces on the escarpment.  After a short hike in through a farmer’s field along an access path and a scramble through some boulders, we arrived at the base of the rock face.

IMG_1172 Robert’s son sport climbed up one of the routes, which involved him clipping carabineers into anchor points bolted to the rocks and climbing to the top.  At the top he fed the rope through a pair of permanently installed rings and then descended on the rope.

Kerri tied in and made her way to the top of the cliff in short order while I belayed her.  (Belaying someone basically means you’re taking up the slack in the rope as they climb using a belaying device so they don’t fall too far if they lose contact with the rock and lowering them when they’ve finished climbing.)

IMG_1168I went next and followed a slightly different route at the bottom that avoided a small oak tree that was growing in a slightly inconvenient location.  Eventually the route I was following converged with the route Kerri followed and I made it to the top.  After posing for a few pictures and admiring the view, Kerri lowered me to the base.

  While we were climbing this route, Robert and his son set up a second rope around the corner.  Kerri and I took turns attacking this route.  It was a different type of route from the first one, with an inside corner and a small stream of water trickling down it that made things slippery in a couple of places.IMG_1170  I brought my camera up with me and took a couple of pictures from the top.

We tried one more route that was more challenging than the first two.  Though none of us made it all the way the top, we were very happy with how far we did get up it.  (The picture at the top of this entry was taken on this route.)

I can’t wait to go again!

I’ll post more pictures in my gallery soon.

WordPress 2.6.2

September 09, 2008 @ 01:06 By: gordon Category: Meta, WordPress

WordPress 2.6.2 has been released.  It addresses a couple of issues related to SQL Column Truncation and the mt_rand() function, along with some bug fixes.  Using subversion, the upgrade consisted of switching to the root directory of my WordPress installation and entering the following command:

svn sw http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/tags/2.6.2/

As always, I hit the upgrade URL after this, but it said the magic button didn’t need to be poked.

37 days of chaos

September 07, 2008 @ 09:45 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

So, it’s been confirmed that there’s going to be an election on October 14th.

One of the reporters at the press conference on the grounds of Rideau Hall asked Stephen Harper about the possibility of a second minority government.  He responded by saying "… I believe with a second minority government we will be in a stronger position in the next government."


Is he really aiming to be the least unpopular party, as opposed to the most popular party?  If I was a member of the Conservative party, I’d be a little upset about this.

I have no idea how I’m going to vote.  And it appears neither do some of my friends.

frogLight: a bright idea

September 06, 2008 @ 11:17 By: gordon Category: Environment

frogware_lightbulb_cs_2 A lot of people like compact fluorescent lightbulbs, but I’m not one of them.  While it’s true that a CFL will consume less energy than a conventional incandescent during the same amount of time — which is a Good Thing — they are problematic to dispose of when they do eventually die.  Because they contain mercury, phosphorous and other nasty things they are hazardous waste and shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage.  Though it’s true that they contain less mercury than your typical fluorescent tube, they nonetheless contain mercury, which will eventually leach into the environment if put in a conventional landfill, which is a Bad Thing.

While surfing the ‘net recently, I came across frog design’s website.  The clever people at frog design have come up with an LED light bulb concept that claims to offer “better energy efficiency than CFLs without the toxic mercury, provides a desirable light quality and dimming capability, and fits into the socket connection of the incandescent—all in a package that will last 30 years”.

Now that truly is a bright idea!