Twas the night before leaving

Shaina (the youngest sister) left this mornin’ fer New York and a three week summer camp acting experience-thingy. Sounds like fun. Jewish camp, so she gets to keep kosher for a while, and if she likes it she can add on to her stay and be there for six weeks. She left on a jet plane, don’t know when she’ll be back again, oh, God I hate…wait, what was I saying? Ah, yes, left from LAX on a Continental flight non-stop to NY, and should arrive there later today, if the time doesn’t change first. Strike that: six hour flight, left at 9ish, got there 3ish, which in NY is 6ish, so she is there and probably quite confused from the fact that it is dark right now, what with the lights in LA staying on until 7ish every night lately.


N-E-Way, I have spent me second glorious day at Maintex (the family company) working on graphics, catalog, database, and computer troubleshoothing. There are a lot of troubled computers here that need to be shot, and no one with the know-how to shoot them. Now I’m really no great technician, and I really don’t like the job, but I oblige and try to help as best I can when I feel like it. 😉


Their system is a mess because the UNIX server runs one piece of proprietry software while the art department works on another database and the catalog is based on a third set of data, so everything must be updated in triplicate. Meanwhile, the two art guys have to do some occasional computer troubleshooting and lots of data entry to get stuff online, in the catalog, etc. I’m talking with them about how to automate this process a lot more, basically by linking the two databases together and hooking the QuarkXPress publishing program up to the FileMaker database that the Art guys are using. Sorta complicated, but pretty cool if it all works. I’m waiting for the real fun to begin, however, when we start shooting training videos. Then we get to go to crazy places like grocery markets and I get to direct some serious movies. Well, okay, not serious, not movies, but industrial training does have its charm, and its fun doing digital editing with FireWire, at least more fun then entering data into a database….twice.


Confused? So am I, but we hope to clear it all up. I think some kind of tech guy would help, but they try to keep costs low ir order to run an efficient business and so far there hasn’t been an incredible pressing need to get all this stuff together. Gradual upgrades are what wins the day, I just ope that these DBs will all work without any major hassles, being as they are quite different and being as money to waste….errr..spend on them is tight.

Ix-nay on the FI-Kay

Either Tim or Neil (don’t know which one) is sick today (or possibly recovering from a big hangover after yesterday’s broadcast from a strip joint, no comment) so I won’t be performing live on the air for your enjoyment and edification. They say next week, but who knows. So hear this: Don’t listen to Tim & Neil today at 4:00PM PST because I won’t be there, and without me, there really is no reason to listen, is there? 😉

KFI: More Stimulating Talk Radio

Today is my big KFI day, 4:00pm is the time, and I’ll be on for 1/2 hour. In other news, I’m trying to decide what to do about the school district’s bill. Basically, they have decided that, since I sent an e-mail that did not damage their system in any way, they would charge me for their time. Figure that one out. It’s like sending someone a letter so they charge you to change their door locks. Basically they spent 3 hours analyzing their system for weaknesses, and they think I should pay. I maintain that system security is something that any company with computers must consider — it is simply a cost of doing business that you audit your system often for stability and security. Ask the IT workers in any major company and they will tell you that they do security audits every week, if not more often. That the TUSD waited a few years, until I sent an e-mail, before they did their first audit is somewhat worrisome, but perhaps I was doing them a favor. Anyway…


If you so desire, help me out in paying this ludicrous bill.

Brandesian In The Making

So in high school I screwed up somewhat by not working within the system and using it to its full potential. I’m determined not to let that happen in college – i will work the system for all its worth. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that I will look out for easy honors and upper-level courses and shie away from lower division ones that have received complaints. I will try to take advantage of every opportunity to enhance both my learning AND my [status/gpa/grades/standing/whatever]. That means no more fun classes that don’t count for anything. Today I went through the first half of the course catalog, and I will go through the second half tomorrow, hi-lite(tm)-ing what I want to take and figuring out which concentrations, minors, and programs to pursue. If I want to take US History stuff and english stuff and CS stuff, I want to get recognized for all of it – I want to, say, major in Philosophy with a double minor in CS and Anthropology, or whatever, meaning that I will plan it out so that all the courses overlap in such a way that I get lots of certificates! Not sure quite how to do this yet, but I’m thinking I’ll write some PHP script to organize and schedule everything for me and see how it will all fit together. This may be complicated…

Happy Days Are Here Again

Went shopping with Aunt Linda and got a bunch of stuff for Boston – fleece this and that, pants, jackets, socks. Ate lunch at Cheesecake Factory and got the usual: the Mile High Meatloaf Sandwitch, which, sadly, was about 12″ high. We ate at Fashion Island, where we also saw lots of small caged feline animals outside of a pet store, animals so young they could do little more then squeak and scurry. Poor guys.

I will be on KFI Radio tomorrow, Sunday, at 4:00PM for 1/2 hour on the Tim & Neil Show.

We-sa-back

So apparently there is a cut of Star Wars Episode 1 going around Hollywood that removes a lot of useless scenes like Jar Jar Binks. I want it! Instead, Lucas releases Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace on DVD with an extra six hours of crap…err..I mean important footage about how they made it. Yeah, that’s it.

Anyway, I finally graduated from high school. No comment. It was a long Grad Night, and I am very tired. I feel good about moving on to Brandeis.

Saw Moulin Rouge for the second time today. Great movie. Will write more when I can be coherant.

Most importantly, now posted for your viewing pleasure, my 90 second segment on TechTV today about web filtering junk. I would explain everything that has happened in the last few days and about my Salon.com article being published and me being very excited, but, again, I am tired and a bit out of it.

* My Salon.com Article: Censorship High
* The Salon Letters to the Editor
* My TechTV Interview

Apparently I’m going to be on KFI AM 640 Los Angeles radio for half an hour on Saturday, I’ll see if I can get a tape of that as well to put online. It’s exciting but a bit scary to be getting all this attention. I’m glad to be promoting a cause I believe in, though, so its all for the best.

News is slow…

So I’m not adding anything to this site, because it is down temporarily. I decided that now that I am fighting the Tustin Unified School District it would be prudent to remove the site for the time being. (Okay, my grandma’s insistence was also a factor). I expect to be back online right after graduation, at which time this and all the other messages will appear. I’m just putting this here so that people looking back won’t wonder what the heck happened.

And the floodgates open…

So today I chose to finally post the address of my web proxy software to the Tustin Unified School District e-mail list. They can’t really hurt me now, and I decided I want to take a stand on this issue before I graduate and go on to college. If this works out well, I may get a story on Slashdot! 😛

What follows is the entire letter that I sent:

p=. “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” – Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Good day all –

I have received many complaints from teachers, staff, and students at Foothill High School in regards to the InterGate Squid proxy server block list. This system is used to restrict access to legitimate web pages on the school network. I have been asked repeatedly to provide ways around this system.

The proxy system used by Tustin Unified School District is restrictive because it denies legitimate access to valuable web sites. The most effective guard against the visiting of “inappropriate” web sites is teacher supervision in the classroom. Bootstrapping existing imperfect technology for this task is misguided. Paying minimum wage to an untrained workforce whose task is to determine “inappropriate” web sites is a ludicrous practice that should not be condoned by this or any other school district.

After careful consideration and a thorough reading of the TUSD Internet Acceptable Use Policy, I have determined that, to the best of my knowledge, I am breaking no school or district rules, nor any state or federal laws, by releasing this information. As a service to the public I am providing a new system to bypass the district blocking and censorship system.

To use this new system, simply open your web browser and type in:

p=. *http://proxy.foothillhigh.com*

Now, it is completely likely that the school district will choose to use their InterGate proxy to block this site as well. If that happens, I will simply post the software on another site and inform this list. However, it is also possible that this freely available and unrestricted mailing list will be cut off. Therefore, if you wish to be kept informed about proxy bypass solutions, if you have anything to say about this action, favorable or not, or if you have any technical problems, please contact me at dsilverman@mindwire.org. I ensure that all communications will remain confidential.

Thank you for your time and dedication to teaching. I hope that this system will prove to be a valuable asset in your work.

Sincerely,
Danny Silverman
Graduating Senior, Foothill High School

Ramblings on Physics

Okay, so I did it again. I fell asleep during physics. But can I really help it? My teacher is as exciting as watching paint chip on a hot summer day, and just about as uncomfortable. He drones in monotone about useless trivia while never really teaching us anything useful. Occasionally I find out about a lab or test, prepare a bit the night before, and do fairly well. Of the ~60 kids enrolled in this AP course, two decided to actually take the AP test, and both say they were woefully unprepared. Well, go figure. So what do I do when I have a teacher who I despise, one who wastes my time and energy? For teachers I don’t respect, I either disrupt or ignore. If I really care, I pay attention and contribute. So in Carter’s Physics class, I sleep. I can’t help myself, it is just a physical reaction to a mental stall brought on by the Carter monotone. It was actually quite restful and satisfying, all in all, and surprisingly, Carter didn’t really even comment on it, since I was probably one of 8-10 students who dozed off over the course of the lesson.

★☆☆☆☆
Review

AntiTrust

So in CS today we watched AntiTrust, perhaps one of the worst computer movies in recent memory. The first problem, of course, is that it came out after the dot-com bust, making most of the story irrelevant. The evil Bill Gates guy just doesn’t really work, and the idea that you can take over a system of satellites just by typing in their IP addresses doesn’t make much sense. That’s kinda like dialing a telephone number to break into the FBI.

The whole corporation-bashing open-source zealot thing is also stupid. Having a movie studio say that “information wants to be free!” and then encoding their DVD with CSS so that it can’t be played in Linux is a bit…how do I say this…odd. Okay, so the story sucks and the characters are awful, but what about the tech? Yeah, okay, its pretty accurate. Although my webserver can’t handle 400 pageviews a second. So, all in all, a bad action movie with okay tech and a bit of Linux placement, but a craptacular story. Don’t watch it.

Tired…

It was bound to happen eventually. I have finally pulled my first official “all-nighter.” It worked because I wasn’t tired, having slept 10 hours last night. I just stayed up and edited and re-edited my English presentation late into the night. Wow, this is going to suck this afternoon. Well, maybe I can sleep in physics.

Memorial Eve and Pearl Harbor

Of course, all today’s television was crammed with Pearl Harbor docu-dramas to commemorate Memorial Day and, of course, tie in with the new supposed-blockbuster movie Pearl Harbor. I’ve made a concerted attempt to avoid television today, with some success. Darn you CNN, MSNBC, and Fox!

Anyway, Kel and I have fixed her computer’s psychological problems through intensive counseling and an effective use of fdisk to basically obliterate all old data whatsoever. Add to that some open-heart surgery as we removed conflicting boards, and finally the thing has reached some semblance of equillibrium. Meanwhile, I slave on my Calculus AP take home test that he somehow expects us to not “cheat” on by consulting others. Well, I won’t say if I did or not, but suffice to say not all of the time spent at Kel’s house was working on her computer.

Memorial Day Rest

Work up at 11:00AM today, only because Kelly called me for help on her computer. Ah, bliss. Pure bliss. Too bad there is school tomorrow. Helped her with her evil Wintel system for an hour and a half, in exchange for some pizza. Her computer is muey el screwedo, as it refuses to do basically anything, alternates between seeing the CD drive and not, and messes with its partitions so that drive letters constantly change. Typical Windows crap. I’m glad I have a Mac.

Anyway, the Brownsteins have a Memorial Day barbecue today, but I’m skipping it both because I don’t know any of the attendees and I have a boatload of English and Math homework to complete. I’m working on an audio-documentary-thingy in multi-genre form about my memories of high school. I’ve interviewed my grandparents and Aunt Linda about their high school days and its interesting what they remember and what memories conflict. I hope to cut it all together into a nice program today, and then probably put it online.

Worldwide Wireless

I predicted it long ago but finally it is becoming a reality. Curious as to what cell phone rates are these days, I visited my local mega-corp (Verizon) to check on the pricing. It seems that my antiquated plan at US$25/month can be upgraded for another plan at the same price that gives me more minutes, and makes all of them nationwide. So yeah, I did it, even though it meant renewing my contract for another year. I know I should have checked out the alternatives, but the lack of standardization in the American cellular phone market means that all my current equipment would have been useless.

What I see here is the move, not only to a world without wires, but without conventional borders. Think about it – I can be anywhere in the 50 United States, you can call me, and I’ll get it. Once this expands, as I know it is doing across Europe, we will have a dream – no more tapestry of conflicting services, no more multiple standards. Just one phone, taken with you everywhere you go, with your own personal number that you can keep for life, and communicators costs dropping to near nothing. Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology is doing this. PCS is doing this. Most of all, mega-mergers are doing this. ::sigh:: With every advancement comes a price. This time, we get a lack of options, bad support, and no real way to use market forces to vote. As we become increasingly reliant on a single phone number or IP address or whatever for all global communication, we will be reluctant to change services. I mean, think about it – who likes changing ISPs these days? you lose your e-mail account, and there is no real redirection option. Now think if ALL of your communications went to one point, and suddenly you switched companies – everything gone. Poof!

My solution? I’m not sure, but I think a mandated call-forwarding option, reasonably priced, should be required. Also, I’m hoping that alternative services for routing communications, similar to Hotmail, can be created in the VoIP space. And no, I’m not quite sure how this would work just yet.

On Ducks and Pools

It might be prudent to elaborate on the ducks, so that I will do. See, for a while two ducks would land off-and-on in our pool and swim around a bit. We would always chase them away so as to avoid duck dropping and the mess that they entail. So one day, my dad found the remains of a duck, presumed eaten by coyotes. Shortly after this the other duck disappeared into the bushes. A few days later, presto! Ten new baby ducklings crawled out.

These little cuties swam around the pool all day, taking time out to walk around on the deck, following their mother’s lead. Of course, this sightseeing required the physical act of getting out of the pool, and thus the phenomenon of a few bent beaks and many damaged ducky egos as the poor creatures continually banged against the walls of the pool as they attempted to jump out. They did eventually make it though, and had fun wandering through the bushes and quacking at me and hiding behind their mother when I came too close.

So anyway, four days ago all eleven of them disappeared, which is odd since I don’t think that ducks can learn to fly that quickly, and they certainly weren’t any good at scaling hills on foot. I can assume either that they were somehow all eaten, that they are in hibernation in our bushes, or perhaps they all climbed on momma’s back and took a plane ride. Perhaps there is some deep significance to the ducks, but it will be left as an exercise to the reader. Anyway, I keep a lookout for them, just in case they choose to return.

First Day On the Blog

If everyone else is doing it, why not me? Seeing as I’m leaving for college come the end of summer, right now seemed (seems) like an ideal time to start a weblog of my pursuits for all interested parties. So I did a bit of searching, grabbed a little PHP script, modified it a bunch, and voila! I am joined by my cat Sammy (on my lap), who is providing moral support. For those of you that don’t get it, the name Silverman is composed of two parts – silver, and man. Now, the chemical symbol for the element silver is Ag. There is no chemical symbol for man. We shall ignore that and just focus on the silver, making this, thus, the AgBlog, the weblog/journal/thing of Danny Silverman. Make sense? Okay then.

I expect the grandparents and my Aunt Linda this evening for a nice barbecue. We were planning on something exciting involving fish, but we decided chicken and hotdogs would be easier, even though none of us really likes hot dogs much. Well, take that back, I think Sammy likes hotdogs.

The ducks in our pool have now been gone for four days, and it doesn’t look like they are coming back. ::sigh::