Checker Plus for Gmail. Έτσι έπρεπε να είναι το GMAIL.

Για όσους διατηρούν πολλαπλούς λογαριασμούς στο gmail πιθανόν να έχουν βρεθεί σε ένα χάος με τα μηνύματά τους. Προσωπικά βρήκα το παρακάτω plugin σαν ένα από τα πλέον χρήσιμα και είναι το 1ο που προτείνω σε όλους τους γνωστούς μου.

Διατηρώ αρκετά email accounts αλλά όλα συγκεντρώνωνται σε ένα gmail account που είναι και το προσωπικό μου. Εκτός αυτού έχω και το κύριο πανεπιστημιακό μου λογαριασμό στη google αφού τα google apps είναι εξαιρετικά διαδεδομένα στα αμερικανικά πανεπιστήμια.  Το προσωπικό μου λοιπόν email, είναι και ένα αποθετήριο για όλα τα άλλα accounts που χειρίζονται mailing lists, shopping, φίλους, εργασία κλπ. Έπρεπε λοιπόν να μεταβαίνω από το ένα λογαριασμό στον άλλο, και να παρακολουθώ τι έρχεται, τι είναι πρέπει να απαντηθεί κλπ

Όλα αυτά λύθηκαν με το εκπληκτικό το Checker Plus for Gmail. Η ευκολία χρήσης του, τα δεκάδες features και η συνολική αξία του το κατατάσουν απλά στις πρώτες επιλογές μου.

Hey Jason… THANKS!!!

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Sorting Lists with more than 1,1M Rows

Recently I encountered a very weird problem. My wife is working with satellite data producing huge text files with numbers seperated by a space. The total amount of rows exceeding the 1,1 million. So, how we can sort these long huge lists based on multiple criteria?

If you try LibreOffice you will notice very fast, that the max number of rows are 1,048,576. Anything existing beyond that number, its lost. You can always of course split the list but then you can’t simple sort the numbers. And beside this, the LibreOffice is having a stupid limitation to only 3 criteria.

The solution is called «Use the damn terminal!» Actually the command is «sort» and with few parameters, you can get the whole file ready, with your values sorted in less than few seconds.

How? Lets say my file is called foo.txt, and is having 5 columns separated by a space. You want to short this file first by the 5th column and then by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

$sort -k5n,5 -k2n,2 -k3n,3 -k4n,4 foo.txt > foo_new.txt

Bam… Done!

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.

-b–ignore-leading-blanks ignore leading blanks
-d–dictionary-order
consider only blanks and alphanumeric characters
-f–ignore-case
fold lower case to upper case characters
-g–general-numeric-sort
compare according to general numerical value
-i–ignore-nonprinting
consider only printable characters
-M–month-sort
compare (unknown) < `JAN” < … < `DEC”
-n–numeric-sort
compare according to string numerical value
-r–reverse
reverse the result of comparisons

Other options:

-c–check
check whether input is sorted; do not sort
-k–key=POS1[,POS2]
start a key at POS1, end it at POS 2 (origin 1)
-m–merge
merge already sorted files; do not sort
-o–output=FILE
write result to FILE instead of standard output
-s–stable
stabilize sort by disabling last-resort comparison
-S–buffer-size=SIZE
use SIZE for main memory buffer
-t–field-separator=SEP use SEP instead of non- to whitespace transition
-T–temporary-directory=DIR
use DIR for temporaries, not $TMPDIR or /tmp multiple options specify multiple directories
-u–unique
with -c: check for strict ordering
otherwise: output only the first of an equal run
-z–zero-terminated
end lines with 0 byte, not newline
–help
display this help and exit
–version
output version information and exit
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Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

I arrived yesterday in Washington, DC via Dulles International Airport. I decided to spend the night at Staybridge Suites, near the airport (btw, very nice and very comfortable place. I am definitely suggesting it). The purpose of the trip its a talk that I will give this Tuesday. Anyway, the reason that I am writing this post its not the conference; its my visit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum , near the Airport (there is one more near the Capitol in Washington, DC but I didn’t visit it… yet).

I have to say that most of all, I will remember the moment that I saw Enola Gay. The plane that dropped the 1st atomic bomb in the history of mankind. The plane that actually put the world in a new terrifying era. Today, that we know how many people suffered from that action and even knowing the numbers, we can’t imagine the horror of the moment. Looking at the plane… you are feeling something strange, awkward. I saw even Americans starring it for more than 10 minutes without saying any word.

Still, is a very unique piece of history.

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Ερώτηση προς Ναυτιλομένους

Με αφορμή ένα email του Σίμου Ξενιτέλη σχετικά με τις «Μονάδες Αριστείας» και την αναφορά από κάποιον συμμετέχοντα της συζήτησης του Ιόνιου Πανεπιστήμιου, ξαναθυμήθηκα μια παλαιότερη συζήτηση που είχα με έναν φίλο και μια ερώτηση που προσπαθήσαμε να απαντήσουμε τότε αλλά ποτέ δεν τα καταφέραμε:

Πως γίνετε ένα από τα λίγα ακαδημαϊκά ιδρύματα που ΔΕΝ συμμετάσχει στην Εταιρεία ΕΛΛΑΚ να έχει τόσο ενεργό ρόλο στην υιοθέτηση του ελεύθερου λογισμικού στους περισσότερους τομείς του, ενώ ιδρύματα που συμμετάσχουν, να μην ασχολούνται καν πέρα από την ανάγκη δημιουργίας άλλοθι για να μην έχει κανένας να πει τίποτα;

Νομίζω πως «γλύτωσαν» μόνο και μόνο γιατί το τμήμα υπολογιστών δημιουργήθηκε μετά την υπογραφή του καταστατικού της ΕΛΛΑΚ. Όπως και να έχει κάνουν εξαιρετική δουλειά.

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Open source groups warn Greece will waste millions on school software

Open source groups warn Greece will waste millions on school software
Advocates of free and open source are warning that the Greek government is going to waste millions of euro on proprietary software licences for the country’s schools. They are calling on the Ministry of Education to cancel its latest procurement. «Favouring proprietary software while ignoring the potential of open source, constitutes a choking of the educational process.»
The ministry published a request for tender in November, seeking suppliers of 26,400 laptops, 1760 servers and 1760 wifi access routers. The value of the contract is set at just over 15 million euro. The purchase will be partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
The ministry is asking for laptops and servers that can run either a ubiquitous proprietary operating system or Linux. But, say the Greek Linux User Group (Greeklug) and Eel/lak, a Greek open source advocacy organisation founded by 25 universities and research centres, the technical requirements clearly favour proprietary solutions over open source. «The specification is a copy of the proprietary vendor’s e-mail and office software.»
The two groups have written separate letters to the ministry, protesting the favouring of proprietary software and to present alternative suggestions. «The ministry must avoid locking-in our schools.», says Kostas Mousafiris, vice-president of Greeklug. «We also want the ministry to follow Europe’s procurement rules.»
No pressure
Eel/lak is asking the ministry to build on existing free open source projects for schools in Greece. Examples include a Greek school portal as well as educational projects started by the organisation itself.
Both are also appealing to the European Commission, hoping that Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will pressure the ministry to correct the tender request. «To give free and open source a fair chance, the technical specification will have to be improved», the groups plead.
Mousafiris: «We do not expect that the ministry will ever reply to our letter. That is why we are also contacting the European Commission. We want at least a due diligence assessment of this tender.»

 

More information:

Letter by Greeklug (pdf)
Ministry of Education’s request for tender (in Greek)
Public letter by Ellak (pdf, in Greek)
Os Arena news item (in Greek)

 

Source: https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/open-source-groups-warn-greece-will-waste-millions-school-software

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NASA World Wind Server to Leverage MapServer Open Source Engine

The NASA World Wind project team has selected the MapServer Open Source mapping engine to serve its many digital raster formats to World Wind clients. MapServer will serve images and raw data through the Internet by various Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards. Providing large amounts of spatial data (including world-wide coverage of digital elevation models, DEMs, and aerial imagery) to World Wind clients requires a high performance architecture that will now use the MapServer engine, caching of images, and load-balanced servers. Technical expertise for MapServer will be provided by Mapgears (Chicoutimi, QC) and Gateway Geomatics (Lunenburg, NS). Due to MapServer compliance with
OGC standards and World Wind Server standards, except for possibly the increased performance provided by MapServer, this transition will be entirely transparent to the World Wind user community.
“MapServer will allow the NASA World Wind a smooth transition to a mature Open Source engine,” said Patrick Hogan, the NASA Project Manager of World Wind.
Daniel Morissette, President of Mapgears, added “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with the NASA World Wind team to help push the limits of the technology and to contribute with MapServer to the next generation of NASA World Wind Servers that will deliver the data of organizations around the world for years to come.”
Jeff McKenna, Director of Gateway Geomatics, said “Our long-time focus on assisting organizations publish their spatial data through MapServer, especially on the Windows platform, adds a key piece of an innovative solution with the Mapgears team. Together we will help to allow the World Wind community to visualize and analyze large amounts of data efficiently through MapServer.” Jeff also believes that this project will help both the MapServer and World Wind communities grow.

About NASA World Wind
———————
NASA World Wind (http://goworldwind.org/) is a three-dimensional geographic information system developed by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA), its partners, and the Open Source
community. The World Wind client is an interactive 3D geographic visualization system, where Earth and other planets can be explored in their full 3D native context. World Wind was released as Open Source in
August 2004, and is being extensively used by corporations and government agencies throughout the world.

About Mapgears
————–
Members of Mapgears” (http://www.mapgears.com/) team have been active for over a decade in the development of the MapServer Web mapping engine and related open source technologies of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). Mapgears offers professional, yet personalized services to assist application developers and integrators who made the choice of MapServer and other OSGeo technologies such as PostGIS, GDAL/OGR, OpenLayers, GeoExt and GeoPrisma.

About Gateway Geomatics
———————–
Gateway Geomatics (http://www.gatewaygeomatics.com/) is an innovative company on the East coast of Canada, assisting organizations publish their spatial information openly, through MapServer. With the hugely popular MapServer for Windows (MS4W) suite, developed and maintained by Gateway, organizations of all sizes can quickly share their spatial information on their own servers. The director of Gateway Geomatics, Jeff McKenna, also focuses on the user-side of Web mapping, and offers hands-on training with the MapServer project all around the world

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Ψύχρα…

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Vladimir Putin Orders Russian Government to Switch to Free Software by 2015

Η πληροφορία έρχεται από το mashable.com

«Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has signed a government order that lays out the groundwork for the transition of federal bodies and agencies to use free software, including Linux, by 2015.
The 25-point document (available here) outlines specific steps the government must take in order to move off proprietary software and onto free and/or open source alternatives like Linux. The government order was approved on December 17 and affects all federal agencies of the federal budget.
Each point of the document names the specific action that must be taken, the agency responsible for implementing that order, the time frame for implementation, and the expected result. For example, point #5 instructs Russia’s Ministry of Communications to form, “the base package of free software solutions for typical problems of the federal executive bodies,” with the expected result a free package of software that includes operating systems, drivers and application software for servers.
Order #5 calls for, “creating and maintaining a single repository of free software used in the federal bodies of executive power,” while order #20 requires, “the development of departmental plans to move to the use of free software, including plans for transition of subordinate budget institutions.” The final order, to be implemented in Q3 2015, calls for, “preparation of the draft orders of the Government of the Russian Federation on the adoption of a phased introduction of free software for the next planning period.”
Russia has been moving in the direction of free software for the last few years. In 2008, the government ordered schools to implement free software packages in all of its computers. Schools that now want to use proprietary software have to pay for it out of their own pockets.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has signed a government order that lays out the groundwork for the transition of federal bodies and agencies to use free software, including Linux, by 2015.
The 25-point document (available here) outlines specific steps the government must take in order to move off proprietary software and onto free and/or open source alternatives like Linux. The government order was approved on December 17 and affects all federal agencies of the federal budget.
Each point of the document names the specific action that must be taken, the agency responsible for implementing that order, the time frame for implementation, and the expected result. For example, point #5 instructs Russia’s Ministry of Communications to form, “the base package of free software solutions for typical problems of the federal executive bodies,” with the expected result a free package of software that includes operating systems, drivers and application software for servers.
Order #5 calls for, “creating and maintaining a single repository of free software used in the federal bodies of executive power,” while order #20 requires, “the development of departmental plans to move to the use of free software, including plans for transition of subordinate budget institutions.” The final order, to be implemented in Q3 2015, calls for, “preparation of the draft orders of the Government of the Russian Federation on the adoption of a phased introduction of free software for the next planning period.”
Russia has been moving in the direction of free software for the last few years. In 2008, the government ordered schools to implement free software packages in all of its computers. Schools that now want to use proprietary software have to pay for it out of their own pockets.»

Και εδώ τα στελέχη της εταιρείας ΕΕΛΛΑΚ βγαίνουν φωτογραφίες με τα στελέχη την εταιριών έχοντας τα trolls να περιφέρονται από forum σε forum για να μας εξηγούν πόσο απαραίτητο είναι για να λειτουργήσει το δημόσιο, το ιδιόκτητο λογισμικό. Διαλειτουργικότητα… ε;

Προσέξτε παρακαλώ την τελευταία παράγραφο:  »Schools that now want to use proprietary software have to pay for it out of their own pockets.»  Εμείς πόσα πληρώσαμε για τους μαθητικούς υπολογιστές με dual boot? Ποιος τα πλήρωσε αυτά; Οι σύμβουλοι από της τσέπες τους ή εμείς;

Τελικά μήπως πρέπει να απολυθούν όλοι αυτοί οι σύμβουλοι και να προσλάβουμε τους Ρώσσους. Ακόμα και στη περίπτωση που κάποιοι από αυτούς εργάζονται χωρίς αμοιβή, θα πρέπει να πάνε στα σπίτια τους καθώς απλά είναι ανεπαρκείς.

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Άσπρη μέρα…

Houghton, MI

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Web Server και Joomla

Μια πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα σειρά παρουσιάσεων ξεκινάει σήμερα από τον GREEKLUG.

Οι 2 Administrators του GREEKLUG, υπεύθυνοι τόσο για τον δικτυακό τόπο greeklug.gr αλλά και για το lpi.org.gr θα παρουσιάσουν την προετοιμασία ενός server για να λειτουργήσει ως Web Server.

Έπειτα, οι προσκεκλημένοι μας, διαχειριστές και μέλη της Ελληνικής Κοινότητας Joomla θα παρουσιάσουν το CMS σε μία πρώτη εισαγωγική παρουσίαση. Δεν θα μείνουμε όμως εδώ… Η κοινότητα Joomla θα συνεχίσει σε άλλες 2-3 παρουσιάσεις την εμβάθυνση στο CMS ώστε όσοι το επιθυμούν να μάθουν τα μυστικά του και να το χρησιμοποιήσουν στις εργασίες τους ή στα προσωπικά τους ιστολόγια.

Ευχαριστώ προσωπικά την Ελληνική κοινότητα του Joomla για τον χρόνο που διέθεσαν αλλά και θα διαθέσουν ώστε να επωφεληθούν όλοι όσοι το επιθυμούν.

Τη Κυριακή μη ξεχάσετε τη 3η παρουσίαση του Arduino. Ο Στάθης Χατζηκυριακίδης συνεχίζει την παρουσίαση των projects και την εφαρμογή / προγραμματισμό της απίθανης πλακέτας που βασίζεται στο opensource.

Όλα αυτά… και ακόμα περισσότερα, δωρεάν για όλους εσάς που ενδιαφέρεστε να γνωρίσετε και να εκμεταλλευθείτε τις δυνατότητες του ελεύθερου λογισμικού.

***Update***

Η παρουσίαση θα γίνει stream στις παρακάτω 2 διευθύνσεις:

Stream1: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:xxxx

Stream2: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:xxxx

Στο πρώτο stream θα έχετε τον ομιλητή και στο δεύτερο το odp presentation ώστε να έχετε άμεση ενημέρωση.

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Save as WWF, Save a Tree!

Μία καμπάνια της WWF για την υιοθέτηση ενός πρότυπου εγγράφου το οποίο αποτρέπει την εκτύπωσή του.
Σαν ιδέα είναι εξαιρετική, αρκεί να δούμε αν τελικά θα λειτουργήσει.

wpid-PastedGraphic-2010-12-12-13-47.tiff

Σημειώστε πως ακόμα και το διαδεδομένο πρότυπο pdf δίνει την δυνατότητα να το κλειδώσετε με τρόπο που να μην επιτρέπει την εκτύπωση.

Δυστυχώς μέχρι στιγμής παρέχετε μόνο για OSX και υπάρχει σημείωση κυκλοφορίας για windows αλλά όχι για Linux 🙁

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Γιατί οι οργανισμοί ελεύθερου λογισμικού δυσκολεύονται να επιβιώσουν;

Έχει παρατηρηθεί εδώ και πολλά χρόνια, οι κοινότητες ελεύθερου λογισμικού, συμπεριλαμβανομένων των ομάδων προγραμματιστών (developer teams), LUGs (Linux Users Groups), αλλά και σοβαρές προσπάθειες – όπως το Linux International το οποίο ίδρυσε ο John (maddog) Hall και το οποίο έχει εν μέρει ενσωματωθεί στο Linux Foundation – να βιώνουν κανονικό βιολογικό κύκλο, γέννησης, ζωής και θανάτου. Τι είναι αυτό που οδηγεί όλες αυτές τις οντότητες, επίσημες και ανεπίσημες στην τελμάτωση και από εκεί στον σίγουρο θάνατο;

Η απορία μου ξεκίνησε αρκετά νωρίς με την εμπλοκή μου στην ίδρυση του GREEKLUG. Διαβάζοντας όμως τη μελέτη  “Χτίζοντας μια κοινότητα Ελεύθερου Λογισμικού” των Μπερεδήμα, Γλέζου που έγινε για λογαριασμό της εταιρείας ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ το Δεκέμβρη του 2009, λίγο – πολύ επιβεβαίωσα κάποιες σκέψης.

Το κείμενο αυτό θεωρεί ως λόγο της δημιουργίας συλλογικοτήτων κάθε είδους, την προώθηση των συμφερόντων αυτής της ομάδας και όχι απλά την ανούσια κατανάλωση αλκοόλ ή καφέδων. Αν συνέβαινε το τελευταίο τότε δεν υφίσταται ο λόγος της δημιουργίας μιας τέτοιας συλλογικότητας. Καλύτερα λοιπόν, όσοι δεν συμφωνούν με την παραπάνω θέση να σταματήσουν να διαβάζουν το κείμενο αυτό καθώς τα παρακάτω θα τους προσβάλλουν. Αν δε, έχουν συμβάλλει στην δημιουργία κάποιου σχήματος όπως αυτά περιγράφονται στην πιο πάνω παράγραφο, καλά θα κάνουν να τα μετονομάσουν σε Alcoholics Linux Users Groups, Pervert Linux Users Groups, Troll Linux Users Group ούτως ώστε να υπάρχει διάκριση μεταξύ όλων εμάς που θέλουμε να έχουμε μια ευχάριστη ενασχόληση, ένα κοινωφελή σκοπό, ένα κοινωνικό έργο στη ζωή μας, από ανθρώπους που απλά έχουν πολλά λεφτά (αυτό, όχι κατ’ ανάγκη), δεν έχουν τι να κάνουν και έτυχε να ασχοληθούν με τους υπολογιστές και μαζεύτηκαν σε μια καφετέρια (λίστα, irc channel) για να τα πούνε.

Εθελοντισμός, η «αχίλλειος πτέρνα» του Ελεύθερου Λογισμικού;

Ο Εθελοντισμός είναι το Α και το Ω για όποιον ξεκινάει να ασχολείται με το ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ. Γνωρίζει αυτό ως παγκόσμια κοινότητα προγραμματιστών, υπερασπιστών και χαρτογιακάδων που ασχολούνται με αυτό εθελοντικά, εν συνεχεία την επανδρώνει εθελοντικά και στο τέλος προβάλλει αυτή την ιδέα του εθελοντισμού και σε άλλους. Μήπως όμως η έννοια του εθελοντή έχει παρεξηγηθεί; Τι είναι λοιπόν ο εθελοντής;

 

  • Το κορόιδο που γράφει software για να το δώσει μετά «τζάμπα» υπό την GPL 3;
  • Το κορόιδο που πληρώνει τα έξοδα ενός οργανισμού όσο αντέχει η τσέπη του;
  • Το κορόιδο που αφήνει πίσω την οικογένειά του για να γυρίζει και να δίνει ομιλίες;

 

Δυστυχώς σε πολλές περιπτώσεις ναι. Ο εθελοντής είναι – και του συμπεριφέρονται – ως κορόιδο. Αυτή είναι η λανθασμένη έννοια του Εθελοντισμού. Οι Αρχαίοι Ρωμαίοι είχαν ένα ρητό που έλεγε «Primum vivere, deinde philosophari», δηλαδή «Πρώτα ζήσε και μετά φιλοσόφησε» καθώς δεν αντιλαμβάνονταν την έννοια του φιλοσόφου ως επάγγελμα. Το ίδιο περίπου συμβαίνει και με τους εθελοντές στο Ελεύθερο Λογισμικό σε όλο τον κόσμο, αλλά και στην Ελλάδα ειδικότερα. Στην χώρα μας η έννοια του εθελοντή είναι τοσο παρεξηγημένη που είναι πλεον οξύμωρο να αναφερθεί κάποιος σε «επαγγελματία εθελοντή». Δηλαδή εθελοντή με full-time ωράριο στον μη κερδοσκοπικό οργανισμό / μη κυβερνητική οργάνωσή που συμμετέχει με σκοπό την προώθηση μιας ιδέα, ενός προϊόντος, ενός κοινωνικού έργου, μιας ηθικής φιλοσοφίας.

Πόσοι από τους συμμετέχοντες σε διάφορες συλλογικότητες του ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ γνωρίζουν πως το Ίδρυμα Ελεύθερου Λογισμικού, του οποίου πρόεδρος είναι ο Richard M. Stallman, έχει τζίρο περίπου $1.000.000 το χρόνο; Ίσως κανείς, γιατί έχει περάσει η αντίληψη πως το χρήμα είναι κάτι κακό, κάτι μιαρό όταν αναμιχθεί με τον εθελοντισμό, σε τέτοιο βαθμό, που αν ποτέ περάσουν από τα χέρια κάποιου σημαντικά ποσά της τάξης των εκατοντάδων, των χιλιάδων, ή των δεκάδων χιλιάδων ευρώ, αμέσως να στηλιτευθεί, να λοιδωρηθεί και να αποβληθεί από την κοινότητα στην οποία συμμετέχει.

Ναι όντως το χρήμα πονάει και πονάει επειδή ακριβώς πολλές επίσημα αναγνωρισμένες συλλογικότητες δρουν ακόμα στο στάδιο της «παιδικής χαράς», της «κλίκας» και της «παρέας». Τα μέλη που συνήθως συμμετέχουν σε αυτές έχουν εμπιστοσύνη το ένα στο άλλο με τη μορφή λευκής επιταγής και παραλείπουν να δημιουργήσουν εσωτερικούς ελεγκτικούς μηχανισμούς παρ’ ότι και απέναντι στην πολιτεία οφείλουν να το κάνουν αλλά και απέναντι στον ίδιο τους τον εαυτό. Με τον τρόπο αυτό, η δυστυχής κατάληξη είναι φίλοι να μαλώνουν για τα λεφτά, οι παρέες να διαλύονται και μαζί τους στον πάτο να παίρνουν και τον οργανισμό τον οποίο δημιούργησαν.

Χρήμα, χρήσιμο και σωτήριο για την επιβίωση

Όσοι λοιπόν συμπεριφέρονται κατά τον ανώριμο αυτό τρόπο δεν έχουν καταλάβει κάτι πολύ απλό. Οτι δυστυχώς δεν είναι εύκολο να καταργηθεί το χρήμα από τη μια μέρα στην άλλη. Ναι, καταργήθηκε το χρήμα το οποίο χρειάζεται για να αγοράσει κάποιος λογισμικό. Δημιουργήθηκε επίσης η δυνατότητα να μπορεί κάποιος να βγάλει χρήμα πακετάροντας και διανέμοντας τη δουλειά κάποιου άλλου. Όμως είναι αδύνατο ένας οργανισμός (παρατηρήστε την σημασία της λέξεως οργανισμός), να επιβιώσει υπάρχοντας μόνο ως «ηλεκτρονικό φάντασμα» σε μια παραίσθηση τύπου Second Life.

Ναι, είναι αναγκαίο το χρήμα να ρέει σε εθελοντικούς οργανισμούς. Ίσως κάτι παραπάνω από αναγκαίο. Είναι θέμα επιβίωσης. Η ουσία του προβλήματος που οι «παρέες» δεν μπορούν να προσδιορίσουν είναι να μπορεί μια συλλογικότητα να χρησιμοποιεί χρήμα, και μάλιστα μεγάλα ποσά χρήματος, χωρίς αυτό να γίνει αυτοσκοπός. Χωρίς να υπάρξει παρέκκλιση από την πορεία του σκοπού, την προώθηση δηλαδή του ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ, το μη κερδοσκοπικό / μη κυβερνητικό χαρακτήρα της οντότητας.

Αν όμως υπάρχει ένας ή περισσότεροι άνθρωποι που έχουν αφιερώσει τη ζωή τους για αυτό το σκοπό, που έχουν ξοδέψει στο παρελθόν άπειρο χρόνο και άπειρο κόπο, δε θα συνιστούσε παρέκκλιση από την πορεία η πρόσληψη τέτοιων ανθρώπων ως μόνιμο προσωπικό του εκάστοτε οργανισμού, έστω και για ένα «χαρτζηλίκι της πλάκας». Η αλήθεια είναι πως δε χρειάζονται πολλοί. Στο Free Software Foundation στο οποίο έγινε αναφορά προηγουμένως, απασχολούνται 11 άνθρωποι ως μόνιμο προσωπικό. Όμως είναι μόνιμο προσωπικό, είναι απαραίτητοι, είναι επαγγελματίες στον τρόπο της εργασίας τους και είναι εθελοντές γιατί κανείς δεν τους ανάγκασε ποτέ να ξεκινήσουν να αγαπούν το ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ και να αφιερώσουν τη ζωή τους για την προώθησή του.

Αντίστοιχα συμβαίνει και για την ουσία του Ελεύθερου Λογισμικού, το ίδιο το λογισμικό. Εθελοντής δε σημαίνει, να το πούμε ωμά… μαλάκας. Αν κάποιος συμμετέχει σε μια ευρύτερη ομάδα που αναπτύσσει ένα σοβαρό project Ελεύθερου Λογισμικού, δε σημαίνει οτι αυτός ο άνθρωπος δε θα πληρωθεί. Δυστυχώς έχει παρατηρηθεί έντονα το φαινόμενο στην Ελλάδα να γίνεται η λάθος σύνδεση του Ελεύθερου Λογισμικού με την τιμή, την αξία (price) του λογισμικού και κατ’ επέκταση με το μισθό που θα λάβει κάποιος που αναπτύσσει το πρόγραμμα. Υπάρχουν καταγεγραμμένα περιστατικά εκμετάλλευσης και άσχημης συμπεριφοράς απέναντι σε προγραμματιστές που αφιέρωσαν όλο το χρόνο τους για να κάνουν… «τζάμπα μάγκες» κάποιους άλλους. Υπάρχουν δικλείδες για να μη συμβαίνει αυτό, αλλά η ελληνική «οδύσσεια εξυπνάδα» κατάφερε να τις ισοπεδώσει στο πέρασμα του χρόνου.

και φυσικά… η Νοοτροπία κλίκας

Το χειρότερο βέβαια φαινόμενο και βασική αιτία μη επιβίωσης κοινοτήτων ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ είναι η κλειστή νοοτροπία κλίκας που αναπτύσσεται κατ’ αρχήν εξαιτίας του αρχικού κλίματος «της όμορφης αρχικής παρέας» αλλά και της τραγικής  ψευδαίσθησης πως αποτελούν μέρος μιας ομάδα «ξεχωριστών ανθρώπων» με ιδιαίτερες γνώσεις και τη θέληση να διαφυλάξουν την ισχύ της, «κρυφή».

Η προσπάθεια λοιπόν να διατηρηθεί το όμορφο κλίμα της εκκίνησης ενός εγχειρήματος και στη συνέχεια και πιο πέρα, εκτός από συντηρητική μπορεί να χαρακτηριστεί και άσκοπη γιατί είναι σαν να μην παραδέχεται κάποιος τη χαοτική μορφή fractals που έχουν οι ανθρώπινες κοινωνίες. Βάζοντας φραγμούς σε κάτι τέτοιο, το μοιραίο είναι να μην υπάρξει συνέχεια. Το motto «εμείς και εμείς» έχει γίνει συνώνυμο πολλών προσπαθειών στον ελληνικό χώρο και πολλές φορές σκόπιμα, καθώς μόνη έννοια κάποιων είναι η αυτοπροβολή και η ενασχόληση των τρίτων με το πρόσωπό τους. Φτάσαμε σε σημείο να ακούμε κοινότητες με πλειοψηφία των 7 ατόμων να «διώχνουν» μέλος (μάλλον το 8ο) γιατί δεν κολλούσε στη παρέα τους.

Από την άλλη, η δημιουργία μιας κλειστής σέχτας, η οποία από την εκκίνησή της είναι καταδικασμένη σε θάνατο, καθώς ο πήχης είναι τόσο ψηλά για τα εισερχόμενα σε αυτή μέλη, που ουσιαστικά, αν έχουν χάσει την ευκαιρία να παρευρεθούν στην ιδρυτική φάση, αποκλείονται και στην συνέχεια λόγω μη δυνατότητας συνεννόησης στον εσωτερικό κώδικα επικοινωνίας. Η κλίκα λοιπόν θα διαφυλάξει σαν ιερό δισκοπότηρο την γνώση, θα διαλαλείση πως το Opensource είναι «για λίγους» και πως «αν δεν το κάνεις από το terminal σε μία μόνο εντολή, δεν αξίζεις να να σου μιλάμε». Γι’ αυτούς κάθε νέα προσπάθεια πρέπει να καταδικαστεί, να ριχθεί στην πυρά και να ποδοπατηθεί. Η ελευθερία του λογισμικού… στα καλύτερα χέρια!

Παρ’ όλα αυτά σήμερα τα πράγματα είναι κάπως καλύτερα απ’ ότι στο παρελθόν. Σήμερα με τη δυνατότητα των fora, των ιστοσελίδων κοινωνικής δικτύωσης, των blogs και άλλων εργαλείων δίνεται η δυνατότητα σε κάποιον να εκφραστεί ανοιχτά χωρίς να φιμωθεί η άποψή του από τον εκάστοτε moderator.

Και κάτι για να κλείσω:  Πολλές φορές προσπαθώ να κρατήσω για τον εαυτό μου κάποια πράγματα που ήρθαν σε γνώση μου, τόσο για κοινότητες  / συλλόγους όσο και για συμμετέχοντες σε αυτούς, μόνο και μόνο για να μη δυναμιτίσω περισσότερο μια ήδη τεταμένη κατάσταση στην ελληνική κοινότητα. Προσπαθώ να κρατήσω μια μετριοπαθή στάση. Άντε να δούμε πόσο θα πάει αυτό…

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The Boy Who Heard Too Much

Η ιστορία ενός phreaker σε ένα αρκετά καλογραμμένο κείμενο. Αξίζει να του δώσετε λίγη προσοχή.

 

He was a 14-year-old blind kid, angry and alone. Then he discovered that he possessed a strange and fearsome superpower—one that put him in the cross hairs of the FBI.
David Kushner | Rolling Stone | Sep 2009

 

It began, as it always did, with a phone call to 911. «Now listen here,» the caller demanded, his voice frantic. «I’ve got two people here held hostage, all right? Now, you know what happens to people that are held hostage? It’s not like on the movies or nothing, you understand that?»

«OK,» the 911 operator said.

«One of them here’s name is Danielle, and her father,» the caller continued. «And the reason why I’m doing this is because her father raped my sister.»

The caller, who identified himself as John Defanno, said that he had the 18-year-old Danielle and her dad tied up in their home in Security, a suburb of Colorado Springs. He’d beaten the father with his gun. «He’s bleeding profusely,» Defanno warned. «I am armed, I do have a pistol. If any cops come in this house with any guns, I will fucking shoot them. I better get some help here, because I’m going fucking psycho right now.»

The 911 operator tried to keep him on the line, but Defanno cut the call short. «I’m not talking anymore,» he snapped. «You have the address. If I don’t have help here now, in the next five minutes, I swear to fucking God, I will shoot these people.» Then the line went dead.

Officers raced to the house, ready for an armed standoff with a homicidal suspect. But when they arrived, they found no gunman, no hostages, no blood. Danielle and her father were safe and sound at home — alone. They had never heard of John Defanno, for good reason: He didn’t exist.

«John Defanno» was actually a 15-year-old boy named Matthew Weigman — a fat, lonely blind kid who lived with his mom in a working-class neighborhood of East Boston. In person, Weigman was a shy and awkward teenager with a shaved head who spent his days holed up in his room, often talking for up to 20 hours a day on free telephone chat lines. On the phone, he became «Lil’ Hacker,» the most skilled member of a small band of telephone pranksters known as «phreaks.» To punish Danielle, who had pissed him off on a chat line, Weigman had phoned 911 and posed as a psycho, rigging his caller ID to make it look like the emergency call was coming from inside Danielle’s home. It’s a trick known as «swatting» — mobilizing SWAT teams to exact revenge on your enemies — and phreakers like Weigman have used it to trigger some 200 false raids in dozens of cities nationwide.

«When I was a kid, a prank was calling in a pizza to a neighbor’s house,» says Kevin Kolbye, an FBI assistant special agent in charge who has investigated the phreaks. «Today it’s this.»

Like a comic-book villain transformed by a tragic accident, Weigman discovered at an early age that his acute hearing gave him superpowers on the telephone. He could impersonate any voice, memorize phone numbers by the sound of the buttons and decipher the inner workings of a phone system by the frequencies and clicks on a call, which he refers to as «songs.» The knowledge enabled him to hack into cellphones, order phone lines disconnected and even tap home phones. «Man, it felt pretty powerful for a little kid,» he says. «Anyone said something bad about me, and I’d press a button, and I’d get them.»

But in the end, those close to Weigman feared that his gift would prove to be his downfall. «Matt never intended on becoming the person he became,» says Jeff Daniels, a former phreaker who befriended Weigman on a chat line. «When you’re a blind little tubby bald kid in a broke-ass family, and you have that one ability to make yourself feel good, what do you expect to happen?»

•••

Matthew Weigman was born blind, but that was hardly the only strike against him. His family was a mess. His father, an alcoholic who did drugs, would drag the terrified Matt across the floor by his hair and call him a «blind bastard.» His dad left the family when Weigman was five, leaving Matt and his older brother and sister to scrape by on his disability pension and what their mother earned as a nurse’s aide. For Weigman, every day was a struggle. «There were times I hated being blind,» he recalls. At school, as he caned his way through the halls, other kids teased him about how his eyes rolled out of control. «Kids can be cruel, because they don’t understand what they’re doing,» he says. «They can’t even begin to fathom what they’re causing, and that stuff eats at your mind.»

At age four, Matt surprised his mother by making out flashing bulbs on the Christmas tree. After that, he could perceive faint lights — and he exploited the ability for all it was worth. He cooked for himself by feeling his way around the kitchen — eggs here, frying pan there, toaster over there — and refused to stop, even after he burned himself. He shocked his brother by climbing on a bicycle and tearing down the road, using the blurry shadows for guidance. He taught himself to skateboard, too. To build his confidence, his mom’s new husband let the eight-year-old Matt drive his car around the empty parking lot at Suffolk Downs, a nearby racetrack. «It made me feel a lot better,» Weigman recalls. «I thought, ‘I’m doing something that people who see can do.’»

And he could do one thing even better than sighted people: hear. Weigman became obsessed with voices, music and sounds of all sorts. He could perfectly mimic characters he heard on the Cartoon Network, and he played his favorite songs on a small keyboard by ear. He would also dial random numbers on the phone, just to hear who picked up — and what kind of response he could elicit from them. He fondly recalls the first time he called 911, at age five, and duped them into sending a cop to his door.

«You need the police?» the officer asked.

«No,» Weigman replied. «I’m just curious. I wanted to see what the operator would do.»

The cop reprimanded the boy sharply. «I wouldn’t do that no more,» he said.

But Weigman was hooked. In real life, he was gaining weight and dodging bullies, struggling to find a place to fit in. By age 10, however, he had found the perfect escape: a telephone party line. The service — a precursor to Internet chat rooms — allows multiple callers to talk with each other over the phone. Despite the rise of online video streaming, there are still scores of telephone party lines scattered across the country, an odd and forgotten throwback to a pre-digital world. Compared to texting or video chat, the phone lines have a unique appeal: They offer callers a cloak of anonymity coupled with the visceral immediacy of live human voices. Some call to socialize, others for phone sex.

Hoping to give Weigman a social network beyond the confines of his tiny bedroom, a friend had slipped him the number of a free party line known as Studio 55. The second Weigman called, a new world opened up to him. He heard voices. Some were talking to each other. Others piped in only occasionally, listening in as they watched TV or played video games. Weigman found he could decipher each and every ambient sound, no matter how soft or garbled. Many of the callers were social misfits and outcasts: ex-cons and bawdy chicks and unemployed guys with nothing better to do all day than talk shit to a bunch of complete strangers. People without a life. And that’s when it hit Weigman: No one here could see each other. They were all just disembodied voices.«We’re all blind right now,» he announced to the group.

Weigman wasn’t a freak anymore. But he was about to become a phreak.

•••

Telephone phreaking isn’t new: The practice, which dates back half a century, was the forerunner of computer hacking. In 1957, a blind eight-year-old named Joe Engressia accidentally discovered that he could whistle at the precise frequency — 2,600 hertz — used to control phone networks. A pioneering phreak named John Draper later realized that the free whistles given out in Cap’n Crunch cereal boxes also replicated the exact same tone. Kids with a mischievous streak and too much free time were soon competing to see who could achieve the most elaborate phone hack. A tech-savvy student named Steve Wozniak, who would soon invent something called Apple with his friend Steve Jobs, once used a series of high-pitched whistles to make a free international call to the Vatican to prank the pope.

As he listened in on the party lines, Weigman began pressing random numbers on his phone, just to see what would happen. Once he held down the star button and was surprised to hear a computerized voice say, «Moderator on.» He had no idea what it meant. But when he hit the pound key, the voice suddenly began ticking off the private phone number of every person in the chat room. Weigman had discovered a secret tool through which a party-line administrator could monitor the system. Now, whenever someone on the line trash-talked him, he could quietly access their number and harass them by calling them at home.

By 14, Weigman was conning his way through AT&T and Verizon, tricking them into divulging insider information — like supervisor identification numbers and passwords — that gave him full run of the system. If he heard a supervisor’s voice once, he could imitate it with eerie precision when calling one of the man’s underlings. If he heard someone dialing a number, he could memorize the digits purely by tone. A favorite ploy was to get the name of a telephone technician visiting his house, then impersonate the man on the phone to extract codes and other data from unsuspecting co-workers. Once he called a phone company posing as a girl, saying he needed to verify the identity of a technician who was at «her» door. Convinced, the operator coughed up the technician’s company ID number, direct phone line and supervisor — key information that Weigman could later put to nefarious use, like cutting off a rival’s phone line.

There seemed to be no limit to what he could do: shut off your phone service, dig up your unlisted cellphone number, even listen in on your home phone — something only a handful of veteran phreaks can pull off. Celebrities were a favorite target. Weigman claims to have hacked and called the cellphones of Lindsay Lohan («She was drunk, and my friend tried to have phone sex with her») and Eminem («He told me to fuck off»). Last year, during the presidential campaign, Weigman heard a YouTube video of Mitt Romney’s son Matt dialing his dad. Weigman listened closely to the touch tones, deciphered the candidate’s cellphone number — and then made a call of his own. «Mitt Romney!» he said. «What’s going on, dude? Running for president?» Weigman says Romney told him to shove the phone up his ass, and hung up.

In addition to relying on his heightened sense of hearing, Weigman picked up valuable tips on phone hacking from other phreaks on the party lines. One of the most valuable tricks he learned was «spoofing» — using home-brewed or commercial services, such as SpoofCard, to display any number he chose on the caller- ID screen of the person he phoned. Intended for commercial use — allowing, say, a doctor to mask his home phone number while calling a patient — SpoofCard is perfectly legal and available online for as little as $10. Some services let callers alter their voices — male to female — as well as their numbers.

Weigman performed his first «swat» at age 14, when he faked an emergency call from a convenience store down the street from his home. «Listen,» he told the 911 operator, «there’s a robbery here! I need you to show up right now!» Then he hung up and called his brother, who was standing watch outside the store. «Oh, God, dude!» his brother told him. «There’s police everywhere!»

«Really?» Weigman replied in awe. Over the phone, he heard sirens wail in the darkness>.

•••

Weigman began spending several hours a day talking shit on assorted party lines. When someone on the line would challenge him or piss him off, he would respond by faking a 911 call and sending an armed SWAT team to their door. «I probably did it 50 or 60 times,» he says.

He spent most of his time on party lines like Jackie Donut and Boston Loach, which teemed with lowlifes, phreakers and raunchy girls whom Weigman calls «hacker groupies.» Men on the party lines competed to see who could score the most. «A lot of guys on there were looking for free phone sex,» says Angela Roberson, a tongue-pierced blonde from Chicago who got to know Weigman on Boston Loach. The 34-year-old Roberson, who stumbled on the line one night when she was bored and drunk, found its rough-and-tumble community oddly appealing. «You can sit and talk smack to whoever you want to,» she says. «You get to live in a whole different world.» Weigman might be overweight and blind and stuck in his room, but the party line provided him with plenty of opportunities the real world didn’t offer. When asked how much phone sex he had, he says, «Oh, Jesus, man — too much.»

Weigman soon realized that one caller on the party line got his way with the hacker groupies more than anyone else. Stuart Rosoff, a middle-aged party-liner from Cleveland, had started out as a teenager making obscene phone calls and ended up serving three years in prison. Overweight and unemployed, with a hairy chest and thick mustache, Rosoff cruised the party lines for girls, introducing himself as Michael Knight, after David Hasselhoff’s character on Knight Rider. He was also a member of a gang of phreaks nicknamed the Wrecking Crew.

When Rosoff didn’t get what he wanted on the party line, he turned ugly. «Stuart was a malicious phreaker,» says Jeff Daniels, the former phreak who hung out on the party line. «He was limited in knowledge, but good at things he knew how to do.» One time, showing off to Weigman, Rosoff singled out a woman who had refused him phone sex and called the police in her hometown, scrambling the caller ID to conceal his identity. The woman, he told the cops, was abusing her kids — causing the 911 operator to dispatch police officers to her door. Having proven his power, Rosoff called the woman back and demanded phone sex again. If she didn’t want to do it, he added generously, he would gladly accept it from her daughter.

«Stuart was like a mentor to Matt,» says Roberson. «They would joke around and threaten to shut each other’s phones off just because they were bored.» It wasn’t long, however, before Weigman surpassed Rosoff as a phreaker. He began to harass the older man, disconnecting his phone and digging up his personal data to use for leverage and revenge. Phreakers call this «the information game,» and Weigman was the undisputed master. Rosoff was soon reduced to groveling on the chat lines, begging Weigman to leave him alone.

Roberson felt threatened by Weigman and by Rosoff, who kept pestering her for phone sex. Once, after a confrontation with Weigman, she picked up her phone only to hear the high-pitched squeal of a fax machine in place of the dial tone. It had been rigged to last all night. Despite Weigman’s denials, Roberson claims he also hacked into her voicemail. To protect herself from attacks, she became close to another member of Rosoff’s gang, eventually moving in with him and taking part in one of the Wrecking Crew’s pranks.

Roberson was surprised when she learned that Weigman was just a teenager. «I would have never thought that he was a 16-year-old,» Roberson says. «He was smart, and he was feared.» When Weigman called up a party line, he would brashly announce his presence in the chat room with a little smack talk: «How you doing, you motherfuckers?» He might be an overweight blind kid, but on the party lines, he could be whoever he wanted. «That’s why he did what he did,» says Roberson. «He was insecure, but he could be powerful here.»

As Weigman’s reputation as a phreaker surpassed even Rosoff’s, his hobby became an obsession. In a single month, he would place as many as 40,000 calls — ranging from a few seconds in length to several hours. He dropped out of 10th grade, spending all day on the phone. His mother was proud that he had found something he was good at and glad he had finally made some friends, if only on the phone. «She left it alone because it was my social outlet,» Weigman says. Matt was also using his newfound skills to bill purchases to bogus credit cards, snagging everything from free phone service to Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards. («I love Dunkin’ Donuts!» he says.)

Weigman became a master of what phreakers call «social engineering» — learning phone-industry jargon and using it to manipulate telecommunications workers. One day, Weigman picked up the phone and dialed AT&T. Two rings, then a voice: «Thanks for calling, this is Byron. How can I help you?»

«How you doing, Byron?» Weigman asked, adopting the tone of an older man, one at ease with his own authority.

«Good,» Byron said. «And you?»

«I’m doing all right. My name is William Jones. I’m calling you with AT&T asset protection. I’m actually working on a customer-fraud issue. We need to write out a D order.» In a few short sentences, Weigman had appropriated the name, voice and lingo of a real AT&T agent, ordering a rival’s phone to be disconnected.

«What’s the telephone number?» Byron asked. Weigman rattled off the name and number on his rival’s account. Then, to authorize access, he gave Byron the AT&T security-ID code belonging to Jones.

For a moment, the phone filled with the sound of rattling computer keys being struck by expert fingers.

«Looks like it’s paid in full,» Byron said, puzzled.

«Yeah,» Weigman said, «we’re looking at a fraud account, sir. We’re just going to have to take that out of there.»

As Byron filed a disconnection order, Weigman made idle chitchat in his «Jones» persona, speculating on the twisted minds of phone phreaks. «Deep down, I know that they know someday they’re going to get caught up, you know?» he told Byron. «They just really don’t think about it. It’s crazy.»

The words applied to Weigman himself. By now, he had «stoolies» on the party lines eager to do his bidding. As his power on the phones grew, he began to change. Unable to take the teasing and the pity he got for being blind, he grew sneering and mean, lowering his voice, adopting a manly bluster. Using the phone to lash out at others, he directed all the rage he felt at the world against his fellow phreaks. To prove his prowess, he targeted Daniels, a 37-year-old from Alabama who had been arrested for phone hacking as a teenager. «He was calling my landlord and telling him I was a child molester and that I killed people,» Daniels claims.

Still, there was something sympathetic about the kid. «To me, he was still a boy,» Daniels says. Having been to jail himself, he didn’t want Weigman to make the same mistakes he had. So he got Weigman’s attention the only way he could: by beating him at his own game. When Weigman refused to stop the phone attacks, Daniels tracked down the teenager’s detailed personal information, including his Social Security number. That earned him Weigman’s respect, and the two became friends. They would talk for hours on the phone at night, Weigman’s put-on baritone suddenly replaced by a more childish tone. «He was not the big shot he made himself out to be,» Daniels realized.

Weigman opened up about his miserable and impoverished life, crying as he told Daniels how much he longed to see the world with his own eyes. His weight fluctuated from boyishly pudgy to extremely obese, and he was spending more and more time locked in his room upstairs, listening to Nirvana and Muddy Waters. One time, a teacher took his class to a blues club in Boston, and the music seemed to capture what he was feeling: the poverty, the despair, the sense of being trapped. «He lived in a jail at home,» says Daniels. «He lived in a box.»

Daniels urged him to drop the macho bullshit on the party lines and stop drawing attention to himself. Weigman agreed to keep his mouth shut and even christened his new self-image with a more stoic nickname. From now, on he would no longer be Lil’ Hacker. He called himself «Silence.»

•••

On a June night in 2006, James Proulx was watching television at 1 a.m. when a SWAT team suddenly surrounded his home in Alvarado, Texas. A stocky, gray-haired trucker who had recently undergone open-heart surgery, Proulx went to the door, where he was confronted by two armed policemen — their guns pointed directly at him. The officers threw Proulx to the ground, snapped handcuffs on him and put him in the back of a squad car.

They had reason to be suspicious. A call to 911 had come in from Proulx’s house; a man identifying himself as Proulx said he was tripping on drugs and holding hostages. He demanded $50,000 so he could flee to Mexico. He also claimed to have killed his wife. If any cops got in his way, he warned, he’d kill them, too.

As the police soon discovered, however, Proulx was just another swatting victim. It turned out that Proulx’s 28-year-old daughter, Stephanie, spent time on Jackie Donut. When she clashed with Weigman and others, they decided to strike back. «If a female wouldn’t give Matt phone sex,» she recalls, «he would call them a fucking bitch and send a SWAT team to their house.» Weigman considered Proulx a «crazy chick who would threaten hackers,» and he was very direct with her. «You’re annoying,» he told her. «I might come after you.» Four months after Stephanie’s father was swatted, police showed up at her home in Fort Worth, Texas, drawn by a fake call to 911.

One afternoon, not long after Proulx was swatted, Weigman came home to find his mother talking to what sounded like a middle-aged male. The man introduced himself as Special Agent Allyn Lynd of the FBI’s cyber squad in Dallas, which investigates hacking and other computer crimes. A West Point grad, Lynd had spent 10 years combating phreaks and hackers. Now, with Proulx’s cooperation, he was aiming to take down Stuart Rosoff and the Wrecking Crew — and he wanted Weigman’s help.

Lynd explained that Rosoff, Roberson and other party-liners were being investigated in a swatting conspiracy. Because Weigman was a minor, however, he would not be charged — as long as he cooperated with the authorities. Realizing that this was a chance to turn his life around, Weigman confessed his role in the phone assaults.

Weigman’s auditory skills had always been central to his exploits, the means by which he manipulated the phone system. Now he gave Lynd a first-hand display of his powers. At one point during the visit, Lynd’s cellphone rang. «I can’t talk to you right now,» the agent told the caller. «I’m out doing something.» When he hung up, Weigman turned to him from across the room. «Oh,» the kid asked, «is that Billy Smith from Verizon?»

Lynd was stunned. William Smith was a fraud investigator with Verizon who had been working with him on the swatting case. Weigman not only knew all about the man and his role in the investigation, but he had identified Smith simply by hearing his Southern-accented voice on the cellphone — a sound which would have been inaudible to anyone else in the room. Weigman then shocked Lynd again, rattling off the names of a host of investigators working for other phone companies. Matt, it turned out, had spent weeks identifying phone-company employees, gaining their trust and obtaining confidential information about the FBI investigation against him. Even the phone account in his house, he revealed to Lynd, had been opened under the name of a telephone-company investigator. Lynd had rarely seen anything like it — even from cyber gangs who tried to hack into systems at the White House and the FBI. «Weigman flabbergasted me,» he later testified.

But Weigman’s decision to straighten out didn’t last long. «Within days of agreeing to cooperate, he was back on the party line, committing his crimes again,» Lynd said. Weigman didn’t like being cut off from the only community he had. «I was a hardheaded little kid, and I wanted to do what I wanted to do,» he recalls. «I didn’t think this could be serious.» He was also obsessed. «He’s not a criminal — he’s an addict,» says his friend Daniels. «He’s addicted to Silence, to Lil’ Hacker, to being the person who is big and bad and bold. He’s addicted to being the person who can get every girl to do what he asks over the phone.»

Daniels, who owns a party line called the Legend System After Dark, tried to channel Weigman’s energy in a more positive direction by giving him a position as a moderator, making him responsible for managing the phone chats and reining in jerks like Rosoff. As Weigman ran the calls, he began softening up. He even had a girlfriend in her 30s, Chastity, whom he had met on a party line. He seemed calmer since he met her, more the kid he really was. When they had relationship troubles, he confided in Daniels rather than swatting her.

Before long, though, Weigman returned to his old ways. Daniels began hearing from party-liners who said they were being harassed by the kid. «Knowledge is power,» Daniels told Weigman, «but you’re using it for the wrong reasons. They’re going to put you in jail, and you being blind isn’t going to save you.» But Weigman wouldn’t listen. «He saw himself as this underage blind kid in a poor family,» Daniels recalls. «So how were they going to put him in prison with big guys who might want to whup his ass?» Unable to reform his friend, Daniels had to let Weigman go.

When the FBI finally busted the Wrecking Crew, Weigman’s reputation grew. Recordings and details of his fake 911 calls, including the swatting in Colorado, leaked and spread online. The attention only made Weigman grow more paranoid and vengeful. He stepped up his campaign of intimidation, warning his victims that any cooperation with investigators would warrant new attacks. He told one woman he’d make her life a «living hell» and put her husband out of business. He threatened a woman in Virginia with a swatting attack — and ended up calling in a bomb threat to a nursing home where her mother worked in retaliation for her talking to the FBI. He phoned a mother in Florida and said that if she gave his name to investigators, he’d kill her baby by flushing it down the toilet.

In 2007, Rosoff and other party-liners pleaded guilty to swatting. «I’m kind of like a nobody in real life,» he told the judge. «I was actually somebody on the phone, somebody important.» In a plea agreement that limited his prison sentence to five years, Rosoff ratted out his rival, saying that Weigman had participated in «targeting, executing and obtaining information to facilitate swatting calls.»

But Weigman was still a minor, and the FBI didn’t want to go after him. In a sense, he was being offered a break. As long as he cleaned up his act, he wouldn’t be prosecuted. All he had to do was walk away before April 20th, 2008 — the day he would turn 18. After that, any crime he committed would get him tried as an adult.

•••

Late one night that April, the telephone rang at the New Hampshire home of William Smith, the Verizon fraud investigator who was working with the FBI. When Smith picked up, however, there was no one on the other end of the line. In the nights that followed, it happened again and again. At first, Smith didn’t make much of it. Then one night, his wife looked at the caller ID and noticed something strange: It was Smith’s work number, even though he was there at home. «Something’s not right,» she told him.

Smith changed his home number, but it made no difference. The phone would ring again at all hours — this time with Smith’s own cellphone as the point of origin. Weigman, he soon learned, was using his skills and his network of stoolies to ferret out Smith’s private phone numbers and harass him. And he knew Weigman’s history well enough to know exactly where the calls were leading: a swatting attack. «He was fully aware that he might be subject to violence by proxy if Weigman chose to make a false emergency call,» Lynd testified.

In the midst of the harassment, Smith called a travel agent and booked a flight for his wife to visit their son in Georgia. Then he called his son to inform him of the travel plans. Minutes later, the phone rang. This time, the caller ID showed his son’s phone. But when Smith picked up, it wasn’t his son after all. It was Weigman. Matt was using his phone-company connections to track every call that Smith made and received — and the veteran fraud investigator for Verizon could do nothing to stop him.

Then, one Sunday in May of last year — on a weekend after his wife had flown to Georgia — Smith was working in his yard when a car pulled up. Out stepped three young men, including one with strange, broken eyes. «I’m Matt,» the boy told Smith.

Weigman had driven up from Boston with his brother and a fellow party-liner. Standing in the yard, he could make out Smith’s dark, shadowy figure against a blotch of white light, and he heard the investigator’s familiar Southern accent — the one he had so easily identified on agent Lynd’s cellphone. Weigman told Smith he wasn’t there to threaten or hurt him — he just wanted to persuade him to call off the investigation. After years of intimidating others, Weigman was now the one who felt intimidated. He wanted it all to stop.

But Smith wasn’t having any of it. He went inside and called the police, who quickly showed up. Weigman didn’t run. He told the cops he had done things that were «not so nice.» When the officers asked what he meant, he said, «swatting.» But after a lifetime of being teased and abused, Weigman was unable to see himself as anything but a victim. He was just a young blind kid, and here he was getting bullied again. Smith, he told the officers, had a «vendetta» against him.

Less than two weeks after he showed up at Smith’s house, the police knocked on Weigman’s door outside Boston and arrested him. Weigman soon found himself being interrogated by an FBI agent. He listened in darkness as the agent dialed a number on his phone. Thirty minutes later, he spouted back the number by heart — and even knew what it was. «That’s the main number of the FBI office here in Boston,» Weigman told the astonished agent.

But now that Weigman was 18, his powers couldn’t save him anymore. Last January, he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and intimidate a federal witness. In June, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

These days, sitting in a small holding cell in a Dallas prison, Weigman bears no resemblance to the hulking psycho he portrayed on the party lines. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, he’s slim and soft-spoken, his head shifting as he talks. «I’m not a monster or a terrorist,» he says. «I’m just a guy who likes computers and telephones. I used my ability to do certain things in the wrong way. That’s it.» As Weigman recounts his story, he slips effortlessly into the voices of the people he met along the way. Every ambient noise — a guard’s chatter, a bag unzipping, a computer disc whirring — draws a tic of his attention.

«Let me tell you something, man,» he says, his voice a bit like that of a young Elvis. «If I would have been just a little more mature, if I could just rationalize better, I think I would have been all set. If, when I was young, I had a full-time male father figure in my life….» He stammers a bit, then recovers. «Not having my dad didn’t really bother me,» he says, «but inside, it kind of messed me up a bit.»

Above all, though, Weigman is still a teenager. While he expresses remorse over his swatting attacks, he takes giddy pleasure in recounting his other exploits — whether punking celebrities or playing the phone companies like an Xbox. «The phone system and infrastructure is just weak,» he says. «I had access to the entire AT&T and Verizon networks at times. I could have shut down an entire area.» Then he segues into an earnest pitch for a future job. «I’d love to work for a phone company, just doing what I do legally,» he says. «It’s not about power. I know the phone and telecommunication systems and can be a crucial part of any company.»

In the meantime, he’s free to brush up on his skills. Though he’s restricted from calling party lines, he has phone access in prison. For a self-described telephone addict, it seems almost cruel, like imprisoning a crackhead with a pipe and a rock. Could he use the prison phone the same way he used his home phone? Could he hack his way, from his prison cell, beyond the guard towers and the razor wire, into the world outside?

Weigman bobs his head and kneads his hands. «I’m sure I could,» he says.

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Η Microsoft συνεισφέρει στο Linux 3.0 περισσότερο από την Canonical

Το περιοδικό Linux Format τεύχος 10/2011 φιλοξενεί μία αρκετά σοκαριστική είδηση:

Η είσοδος της Microsoft στο Top 5 των εταιρειών που συνεισφέρουν στο Linux 3.

Η ανάλυση των εμπλεκομένων εταιρειών για την συνεισφορά κώδικα στο Linux έδειξε πως η Microsoft βρίσκεται σε υψηλότερη θέση από ότι η Madriva, Oracle και Canonical! Οι εταιρείες που βρίσκονται πιο πάνω από αυτή είναι η Red Hat, Intel, Novell και IBM.

Βέβαια το σύνολο σχεδόν του κώδικα που προσφέρει η Microsoft έρχεται από τη δουλειά του KY Srinivasan που είναι υπεύθυνος για την προσθήκη patches για τη βελτιστοποίηση του Hyper-V Virtualisation System της Microsoft.

Η ιστορία του Hyper-V είναι κάπως περίπλοκη καθώς αρχικά επρόκειτο να εκδοθεί με μία liberal license μέχρι που ανακαλύφθηκε στο software αναφορά στην άδεια GPL που οδήγησε αρχικά την εταιρεία να απελευθερώσει περισσότερες από 20.000 γραμμές κώδικα προς τη κοινότητα. Τελικά η Microsoft κατηγορήθηκε πως εγκατέλειπε των κώδικα και υπήρχε πρόθεση από την κοινότητα να τον αφαιρέσουν από τον πυρήνα, και μάλλον από τότε κινητοποιήθηκε ξανά.

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Democracy’s Cradle, Rocking the World

Αναπαράγω το άρθρο από New York Times.

 

YESTERDAY, the whole world was watching Greece as its Parliament voted to pass a divisive package of austerity measures that could have critical ramifications for the global financial system. It may come as a surprise that this tiny tip of the Balkan Peninsula could command such attention. We usually think of Greece as the home of Plato and Pericles, its real importance lying deep in antiquity. But this is hardly the first time that to understand Europe’s future, you need to turn away from the big powers at the center of the continent and look closely at what is happening in Athens. For the past 200 years, Greece has been at the forefront of Europe’s evolution.

In the 1820s, as it waged a war of independence against the Ottoman Empire, Greece became an early symbol of escape from the prison house of empire. For philhellenes, its resurrection represented the noblest of causes. “In the great morning of the world,” Shelley wrote in “Hellas,” his poem about the country’s struggle for independence, “Freedom’s splendor burst and shone!” Victory would mean liberty’s triumph not only over the Turks but also over all those dynasts who had kept so many Europeans enslaved. Germans, Italians, Poles and Americans flocked to fight under the Greek blue and white for the sake of democracy. And within a decade, the country won its freedom.

Over the next century, the radically new combination of constitutional democracy and ethnic nationalism that Greece embodied spread across the continent, culminating in “the peace to end all peace” at the end of the First World War, when the Ottoman, Hapsburg and Russian empires disintegrated and were replaced by nation-states.

In the aftermath of the First World War, Greece again paved the way for Europe’s future. Only now it was democracy’s dark side that came to the fore. In a world of nation-states, ethnic minorities like Greece’s Muslim population and the Orthodox Christians of Asia Minor were a recipe for international instability. In the early 1920s, Greek and Turkish leaders decided to swap their minority populations, expelling some two million Christians and Muslims in the interest of national homogeneity. The Greco-Turkish population exchange was the largest such organized refugee movement in history to that point and a model that the Nazis and others would point to later for displacing peoples in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and India.

It is ironic, then, that Greece was in the vanguard of resistance to the Nazis, too. In the winter of 1940-41, it was the first country to fight back effectively against the Axis powers, humiliating Mussolini in the Greco-Italian war while the rest of Europe cheered. And many cheered again a few months later when a young left-wing resistance fighter named Manolis Glezos climbed the Acropolis one night with a friend and pulled down a swastika flag that the Germans had recently unfurled. (Almost 70 years later, Mr. Glezos would be tear-gassed by the Greek police while protesting the austerity program.) Ultimately, however, Greece succumbed to German occupation. Nazi rule brought with it political disintegration, mass starvation and, after liberation, the descent of the country into outright civil war between Communist and anti-Communist forces.

Only a few years after Hitler’s defeat, Greece found itself in the center of history again, as a front line in the cold war. In 1947, President Harry S. Truman used the intensifying civil war there to galvanize Congress behind the Truman Doctrine and his sweeping peacetime commitment of American resources to fight Communism and rebuild Europe. Suddenly elevated into a trans-Atlantic cause, Greece now stood for a very different Europe — one that had crippled itself by tearing itself apart, whose only path out of the destitution of the mid-1940s was as a junior partner with Washington. As the dollars poured in, American advisers sat in Athens telling Greek policy makers what to do and American napalm scorched the Greek mountains as the Communists were put to flight.

European political and economic integration was supposed to end the weakness and dependency of the divided continent, and here, too, Greece was an emblem of a new phase in its history. The fall of its military dictatorship in 1974 not only brought the country full membership in what would become the European Union; it also (along with the transitions in Spain and Portugal at the same time) prefigured the global democratization wave of the 1980s and ’90s, first in South America and Southeast Asia and then in Eastern Europe. And it gave the European Union the taste for enlargement and the ambition to turn itself from a small club of wealthy Western European states into a voice for the newly democratic continent as a whole, extending far to the south and east.

And now today, after the euphoria of the ’90s has faded and a new modesty sets in among the Europeans, it falls again to Greece to challenge the mandarins of the European Union and to ask what lies ahead for the continent. The European Union was supposed to shore up a fragmented Europe, to consolidate its democratic potential and to transform the continent into a force capable of competing on the global stage. It is perhaps fitting that one of Europe’s oldest and most democratic nation-states should be on the new front line, throwing all these achievements into question. For we are all small powers now, and once again Greece is in the forefront of the fight for the future.

Mark Mazower is a professor of history at Columbia.

To link για το άρθρο

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