Welcome to Cor & Julie's journal

The fallacy of economic damage due to piracy (Rants, XS4ALL)

Recently the unthinkable happened. The company I helped create was forced by court order to filter content. Even though European, and now German courts have found that filtering content is a bad thing, a dutch court sided with BREIN (similar to RIAA/MPAA) and told us to block The Pirate Bay. Everyone with half a brain knows these kind of blocks are only temporary while technology routes around this censorship.

What these kinds of insane reactions to an unfixable problem show is that the music/movie industry does not know what moves the modern consumer. They’re trying to regulate the industry as if it was still comprised of people moving video tapes around. As a consumer I am perfectly willing to pay for content. Actually, I’d much rather pay for content than having to deal with finding it online and wondering if it’s been backdoored by scammers. But modern technology has shown me how content delivery COULD be, and I am now unwilling to go back to the dark ages that the content industry allows me.

What I want is to see TV, movies, music, games, when I want to see it, and how I want to see it. For many US people this sounds inconceivable, but over in Europe we often don’t get to see TV shows until years later. This is unacceptable to me, so I route around that censorship. This is not my choice, it is the choice of the content industry that still operates like a dinosaur. Give me a way to consume content how I want it, and I will pay for it. Anyways, other people have talked about this more eloquently and it’s not what I came here to say.

What irks me lately is that especially in the US the content industry is throwing around numbers that boggle the mind. The US economy is losing 58 billion a year due to piracy and that’s why the world (yes, this concerns the world) needs draconian laws like SOPA. This is not about the US economy at all. This is about the bottom line of big industry players that want another percentage in their profit margins. The US economy as a whole suffers very little, because when you download a song and don’t spend money on buying that song on CD or itunes, you have money left in your pocket to go see a movie (oh irony) or buy some coffee at starbucks. So what these big industry players are really mad about, is that you’re spending your money elsewhere. It has nothing to do with the US economy.

Content creators around the world, stop fighting us, but work with us to give us what we want instead of what you want. You’ll find most people are perfectly willing to pay for what they want.

Dear turkish hackers, Im not THAT Cor Bosman (Hackers, Rants)

For the last 20 years I’ve pretty much been the only Cor Bosman on the interwebs. This makes life so easy, as I never have problems getting a login name anywhere. Unfortunately, recently a guy has shown up with the same name as me. This wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s an extreme right wing *BEEP* that was even kicked out of the PVV (right wing racist political party). If you get kicked out of the PVV, you must really be pretty low on the human scale. His main hobby seems to be slandering immigrants.

So dear Turkish hackers, I am not that guy. Thank you for understanding :)

twiskezuid (Rants)

The city is build a new neighborhood behind our house. Not a big deal, and it may even get us some positives. I just wish they would clean up the mess they found there. http://twiskezuid.nl

Een berg dode kanaries (Computers, Hackers, Rants, XS4ALL)

In kolenmijnen was het vroeger normaal om een kanarie mee te nemen. Deze kanarie had de belangrijke rol om vroegtijdig koolmonoxide in de lucht te detecteren zodat er geen doden vielen.

Bij veel van de grote automatiseringsprojecten van de laatste jaren hebben hackers (en onderzoekers) een soortgelijke functie vervuld. De waarschuwingen waren duidelijk en gingen over zaken als paspoorten die onveilig bleken, stemcomputers die oncontroleerbaar waren, persoonlijke medische gegevens die gemakkelijk in te zien waren en een OV-chipkaart met bar slechte beveiliging. Het antwoord van de verantwoordelijken op die waarschuwingen was en is steevast hetzelfde. Het loopt allemaal zo’n vaart niet, het is te ingewikkeld voor de gewone mens, de impact is klein. Het pad van veel grote automatiseringsprojecten ligt zo bezaaid met genegeerde kanaries.

In ‘Alles kunnen hacken is niet fijn’ (Opinie & Debat, 29 januari 2011) gaat David Hessing nog een stapje verder. Hij maakt gewoon de kanaries verantwoordelijk voor de koolmonoxide, door te suggereren dat de problemen met de OV-chipkaart er niet zouden zijn als de hackers, die anonieme, onbegrijpelijke en daardoor kennelijk onbetrouwbare groep, gewoon met hun vingers overal af zouden blijven. Zonder hackers had niemand immers geweten dat de OV-chipkaart onveilig is en zou niemand daar misbruik van maken. Daarbij wordt ook het morele kompas van hackers in twijfel getrokken. Vergeten wordt dat het juist hackers zijn die dit soort onderwerpen op de maatschappelijke en politieke agenda zetten en zorgen voor verbeterde en veiligere oplossingen. Wees blij dat er nog iemand aandacht aan besteedt. Nu is het een OV-kaart, straks is het misschien je eigen medische dossier dat door gebrek aan deugdelijke beveiliging door iedereen is in te zien.

Ik ben bijna 20 jaar geleden met een groep hackers een bedrijf begonnen. In dit bedrijf staat, ook nu nog, de hacker-mentaliteit centraal; kijken of je iets ook op een andere manier kunt gebruiken dan hoe het bedoeld was. Bij alles wat we doen wordt kritisch gekeken naar de impact op privacy en veiligheid. Dit zorgt voor extra werk en frustratie aan het begin, maar uiteindelijk biedt het alleen maar voordelen: het leidt tot betere veiligheid en dus hogere kwaliteit. Ik kan iedereen sterk aanraden om hackers te omarmen en hun input juist te zien als positieve bijdrage. Dat scheelt op termijn een hoop geld en ellende.

Cor Bosman

Cor Bosman is mede-oprichter van XS4ALL en werkt nog steeds bij die internetprovider als hacker, programmeur en netwerkbeheerder.

(this response appeared in the VK on monday february 7 2011)

New Apple Macbook Pro 15″ Fail (Computers, Rants)

I’m on my 4th Mac. I’ve had a Powerbook, a 2nd gen MBP, a 2nd gen mac mini, and now a new Unibody MBP. I received it yesterday, and I’ve been utterly disappointed. Visually it’s very pretty, and it’s extremely fast as well, but it’s got one little problem. The screen won’t stay up! This is really unacceptable, and I’m trying to send it back as I can’t use it like this. What a let down.

Lenovo installs 30GB of crap on your laptop (Computers, Rants)

Julie just got a new Lenovo X200s laptop with SSD. When we got it we noticed it had only 60GB free space out of 128GB. There was a 10GB recovery partition, but that didn’t explain where all the space had gone. The C partition had a whopping 42GB of data installed, and this is supposed to be a virgin machine!

Now for the really stupid part. When I reinstalled from the recovery partition, the same system was only 13GB. Still way too much if you ask me, but better than 42GB.

Lenovo, you suck.

Shark Finning (Diving, Rants)


What does this number mean? »»»»

Acer using low quality components? (Computers, Rants)

About a year ago I bought an Acer L100 core 2 duo box to function as a simple Linux desktop computer. It’s been working fine, until one morning it would not turn on anymore. When I contacted the supplier where I bought it, i was told that since it was a few days out of warranty, Acer would not repair it under warranty. Granted, I probably could not have sent it under warranty repair anyways, because I can not send one of my desktop computers in without removing the harddisk. I can not risk anyone getting a hold of any type of data related to my company.  Sending it in for out-of-warranty repairs would probably cost way too much for a box that only costs a few hundreds dollars in the first place.

So the only logical step at this point is to just try and figure out what’s broken. I asked a colleague to help me out, since Im not a hardware guru, and together we opened up the box. We immediately noticed what was wrong. One of the capacitors had expanded and opened up, oozing out electrolyte. Several years ago this was a real plague, as lots of vendors had used a faulty electrolyte formula. I’ve had lots of computers, but never had one ooze out electrolyte on a capacitor. This just doesn’t happen much anymore, as vendors should be using proper capacitors. So why is my Acer, which has never really had to work hard as i merely use it to run X with a few Xterms, blowing out capacitors. Is Acer skimping on materials? No wonder they’re so cheap.

We bought a 60 cent capacitor, replaced the broken one, and my Acer is working again. So instead of spending lots of money to have a factory fault fixed by Acer, i spent 60 cents (and a home made apple pie for my colleague).  I don’t think I’ll be buying Acer anymore.


I need a new hobby (Computers, Rants)

Im really getting tired of all these computer related problems. There was a time in my life where I got a kick out of looking at insides of computers, but after a few thousand of those, I now just want things to work, and work well. I have a low tolerance for crappy hardware or software.

First, I got a new machine. It’s so new, fast and shiny, it needs Vista to run. Which it did ok for the first few hours, until i realised it didnt let me add my external 2TB sata disk, which contain all my images. I spent literally days on this crap, but in the end I gave up. I switched out my 2TB raid with Julie’s 1TB raid, and now it’s happy. And ofcourse XP has no problem with the 2TB one.  If that weren’t enough, I added 2  internal sata disks as well, which worked fine for about a day, until after one reboot they just went *POOF*, gone. They were visible in the bios, but Vista hated them or something. Maybe they were made by a competitor it didnt like. I spent a few hours on it, but I ended up reverting to a previous state of my machine which fixed the problem. How can you lose harddisks?!? That is like last century technology and Vista still doesnt get it right.

Then, Lightroom brought out version 1.3 of their awesome software. Unfortunately, instead of improving things, it made everything super slow for me. I dont really like posting in the Adobe Lightroom forums because some of the regulars there should really be kept away from other people, but I had to bite the bullet and posted my findings. A feature Adobe expanded (Camera Raw Caching) was obviously causing major slowdown on my Vista machine, and I posted pages of proof. I think they started to believe me after I posted some video of the problem, and how to make it go away (make the cache read-only). Lots of other people seem to be having slowdown problems, so I hope LR gets fixed soon.  It’s by far the best piece of software that I have used in the last few years, and I would still recommend it to anyone.

Why can’t I just have a few weeks without problems.

Dell messed up, or how to lose a day out of your life. (Computers, Rants)

Yesterday a very helpful Dell employee came to my house to replace my XPS700 motherboard with an XPS720. This was a free upgrade that Dell started to provide XPS700 owners with a better upgrade path for additional hardware. I also ordered a Quad Core CPU with it, which came with a 25% discount. Pretty cool deal.

After about an hour, the guy leaves, and it looks like I have a working system again. That is, until after another hour or so I notice a new hard disk I didnt have before. I immediately knew what happened. He had rebooted the machine without configuring the raid controller on the new board. My boot disk is actually a raid1/mirror and you need to tell the new raid controller that. Instead, it booted with 2 separate identical drives. Ofcourse, after the initial boot these 2 drives can no longer be seen as identical and I was unable to recreate the raid1 volume.

So you think.. no problem. I take the C drive and make that the first drive in a new raid1 volume. That worked. Now I had a degraded raid 1 volume which was missing its second drive. Good, i have the second drive, so now I can add the second drive and tell the raid controller to rebuild the raid volume. Right? Wrong! More »