Archive for 8/5/2002

Technology, for better or worse.


Despote environmentalist and “post-modern” myths to the contrary, technology is a Good Thing. Many liberal profs will spread BS about how the 20th century demonstrated the “evils of technology” but I don’t buy any such thing. Technological progress is driven by the individual innovation and requires certain conditions to take place. While it is possible for technology to be used for evil purposes, as it was in Nazi Germany, only a society which rewards individual self-interest will progress technological in the long run, because only such a system will encourage men to take risks, devote years of their lives, and attract investment from other men who are free from control to invest in good ideas.
Both innovation and investment are key to progress. For example, Germany developed a nuclear and jet program much sooner than the US, but the totalitarian system did not deem nuclear research or fighter jets a high enough priority to do much damage to the allies. The United States on the other hand, provided the technology to mass produce conventional and nuclear weapons because it had a clear and proper moral purpose and the semi-free economy to support it, while Germany diverted vital resources to concentration camps and focused on the wrong technologies, losing the war.
Thus, technological progress, whether civilian or military, will only occur when some degree economic and political freedom exists to stimulate and direct innovation and development in the right direction.

Anyways, I was looking through my server logs, as I often do, and I found not only the usual traces of automated hacker attacks (which are logged in detail) but some disturbing search terms. It turns out that search term “+child +penis +img” in google, displays the Aggie Review website as the first search result! I realized that a satirical article someone wrote about the Vagina Monologues, was leading all sorts of unsavory people to my site. Now, I don’t plan to report them, or the random hacker to the FBI, but it is strange to how the net attracts all these people to my server, especially since it’s only been up one month.
A better example of the net at work, was the girl in Toronto who was searching for information in her hometown of Vinnitsa – which just happens to be the name of one of the photos in my photo collection, as I am from there as well. Because of Google’s amazing search technology (and my website skills) I was able to connect with another person, who randomly matched a word that that we shared, and as it turned out, a lot more as well.



(This is an update of an earlier post)
So I’ve already gotten in trouble once for publishing security exploits, but I think it’s worth chancing it again to make my point. I went by the Student Activities office today to get a subdomain name, and decided to ask for the SOFC # for the Libertarians. The nice girl at the desk promptly looked it up for me, and then when I asked her about the procedure for changing passwords, she wrote down the password for the group’s account as well. Since I had mentioned in passing my membership in another group, she wrote down their SOFC # and password as well. At no time did I actually say that I was an officer in any of these groups, show any identification or even ask for the password – I simply asked how to go about getting to it, and she provided passwords for two groups for me. Then I proceeded to the computer office to get a new subdomain for another group I’m webmaster of – again, no confirmation of my identity or membership status was necessary. Now I’d like to think that my trustworthy appearance and rugged good looks persuaded the girl at the info desk to be generous with the info, but somehow I doubt that’s the case, and that worries me because many groups keep significant sums of $ in their accounts, and this is less than stellar security, despite the huge bureaucratic mess than a group has to go through to get organized and maintain their mandatory bank account with SOFC.
This reminds me of the policy at Evans library to force changes to passwords every 90 days. As a result, many staff members write their passwords on sticky notes on their monitors, and one of the library admins advised me to amend a “02f” “O2s” and so on to a “base” password as a way of remembering it, which I suppose is the advice she gives to everyone else….kinda defeating the purpose?
But, hey, what do I know, maybe Aggies really don’t lie cheat or steal after all.
Ten days ago, I requested a room for the Libertarians. I had to get my advisor to sign a form where I picked my top preferences for meeting rooms because there was no way to look them up (or so the person at the registration desk said.) This means, that everyone who reserves rooms has to hope to not request the same day as any other group. Then today, I went to pick up the schedule, and they said they couldn’t find it. After about 30 minutes (not kidding) of looking, they found that it had been misfiled under the wrong file. Now it wouldn’t be too hard to put all this info online to eliminate security risks, calendar mix-ups, and several jobs, but this is a bureaucracy we’re talking about here. Government jobs contribute to “aggregate output” — right?

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