Sachin Kamdar on Andrew Montalenti

November 5th, 2005

“But you, Andrew, I like you, man. Because you’re like 85% objective. Me, Dan and Eric, we’re subjective. We’re like 15% objective. But you’re 85% objective, and that’s awesome.”

The things drunk people will say…

Tom the Dancing Bug Cartoon on Bush

November 2nd, 2005

Saw this cartoon in the Village Voice today. Sorry for the bad photo, but you should be able to read it. It’s worth it.

Software copyrights and patents talk

October 31st, 2005

I’m helping to organize a software copyrights, patents, and free software discussion led by ex-Professor Robert Dewar here at NYU. Check out the flyer I made, and please attend!

False alarm

October 30th, 2005

I thought my server was hacked this weekend, but I think in reality someone on Peer1’s network took my IP address by accident, caused an IP conflict, and because I detected ssh running on a non-standard port, I assumed I had been rooted. In fact, when I returned to my machine today, I found no such rooting, and chkrootkit reported nothing. What really freaked me out was that I found vsftpd running on port 21, but wouldn’t accept any of my usernames/passwords, so I really assumed I had been rooted. But here I am, and nothing has been changed.

Whew, I guess?

Talk on Outsourcing

October 26th, 2005

I recently gave a talk on outsourcing for Computer Advocacy @ NYU, entitled:

“Offshore Outsourcing: Roots in Corporate Power.”

It was meant to be an introduction to the subject, to precede the film screening we had of Greg Spotts’ “American Jobs.” I’ve posted the talk’s slides to my web server in SXI (27K) and PDF (212K) formats.

In the talk, I tried to show how outsourcing can be seen as stemming from the gradual ascendancy of corporate power in the world, beginning with the first laws enabling corporate personhood to today, when corporations pit governments against one another for who can provide the least humane economic regulatory system (which are then spun as “pro-business”–think, for example, of China’s inexistent environmental legislation, and how many high-pollution businesses have moved their shops there).

When corporations first gained rights as legal persons, they began to win cases in which they secured their right not to be regulated, and then began to win ideologues with a vision of the corporation which freely moves around the world, hiring all the labor it can find. Key to this vision, however, is that governments are helpless and defenseless–that they should not have the power to regulate corporations, since any such regulation creates an unfair situation in the global neoliberal “free market.” I try to make it clear that the end goal of this experiment is a global corporate state, in which labor laws and life/work balance simply doesn’t exist, as we all strive to be “more competetive” for corporations whose urge to lower cost will never disappear.

p.s. check out the book mentioned in my talk, Gangs of America by Ted Nace.

I believe in corporations

October 23rd, 2005

“I believe in corporations. They are indispensable instruments of our modern civilization; but I believe that they should be so supervised and so regulated that they shall act for the interest of the community as a whole.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

Sorry, yet another great quote from the “big lion.”

Magnetism in Macro Photography

October 22nd, 2005

I was just reading National Geographic and saw an amazing photograph taken by someone at MIT which shows a drop of liquid with magnetic particles inside suspended on a glass slide on top of a yellow post-it note, with magnets underneath and a green birthday card reflecting green light.

The result is this stunning image.

Essential articles for midterm intellectual relief

October 17th, 2005

Blood, Sweat and Tears: Asia’s Poor Build US Bases in Iraq

Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid

Also, got the flyers made up for the screening of American Jobs I’ll be showing at NYU next Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll have a nice debate about outsourcing afterwards. (God knows we need one.)

Can’t wait to finish work so I can go home and watch the latest Bill Maher, which SageTV has graciously recorded for me.

Got bored with Descartes and Spinoza, wrote a patch to powernowd

October 15th, 2005

While I was studying, I noticed that I wasn’t exactly happy with the cooling/cpu frequency scaling on my laptop. I use a nice program called powernowd which scales my CPU speed up and down depending on various factors related to system load. But I didn’t like how my setup was kind of “all or nothing.” When I am plugged into AC, I switch to “performance” mode which just runs me at 100% CPU frequency all the time (making my laptop hot, my fan noisy, but my machine fast), whereas when I’m unplugged I switch to “userspace” mode, which lets powernowd kick in, and he jumps about from 400mhz to the full 1.6Ghz based on load, keeping the machine cool but also making it feel a bit sluggish since if I’m overloading my CPU at 400mhz it’s already “too late” to pump it up, it will have already felt slow for at least an instant.

So I have this conflict: hot and responsive, or cool and sluggish. I thought, well, I must be able to come to a compromise.

I decided to take a look at powernowd’s code, and it turns out it’s written quite straightforwardly. Within 30 minutes of tinkering, I had a patch that did what I wanted. With another 30 minutes, I polished it and made it quite commitable.

Basically, I added a new mode called “COOLING” to powernowd, which runs your CPU a few notches below your full frequency (which I call your “cool_spot”), based on the following approach:

  • if you have two frequencies available, you normally run with the lowest.
  • if you have three frequencies available, you normally run with the second from highest.
  • if you have four frequencies available, you normally run with the third from highest.
  • if you have five or more frequencies available, you normally run with the fourth from highest.
  • if your load goes above your specified trigger (“highwater” in the code), you jump to highest frequency. When it lowers (“lowwater”), you go down to your cool_spot, but not below it.

On my machine, I have 5 frequencies (1.6Ghz, 1.5Ghz, 1.4Ghz, 1.2Ghz, and 400Mhz), and so I normally am running at 1.2Ghz. This new COOLING mode runs while I’m plugged in, and keeps my machine nice and cool but still lets it immediately respond when I want to do something, like a workspace switch.

I then hacked the init.d script to have a BATTERY and AC mode, and switch between AGGRESSIVE and COOLING modes accordingly. Now, when I’m unplugged, I get the best battery life and pretty good performance, and when I’m plugged in I get a cool notebook with good performance.

I’ll probably post the patch after my midterms…

Police officers are disgusting

October 15th, 2005

still cap from beating videoFor some of the most disturbing footage you’ve seen in awhile, you can download this clip of New Orleans police officers brutally attacking a 64-year-old black man (the race is important) in New Orleans.

Here is a little piece of a Miami Herald article that describes the clip.

For those who missed it, here’s the scene: It is Saturday night in the fabled French Quarter. Police are arresting one Robert Davis, a 64-year-old former schoolteacher.

As an Associated Press camera records the episode, an officer on horseback moves into the frame, apparently to block the camera’s view. But the camera operator, shooting over the horse’s flank, captures officers pinning the old man to a brick wall and one apparently delivering vicious blows to the head. Davis is then wrestled to the ground, several officers on top of him. Another tape, this one shot by CNN, shows him writhing handcuffed in a pool of blood. When he tries to roll over, an officer’s foot shoves him back.

Police say he was arrested for public drunkenness, battery and public intimidation. Davis later told reporters he had simply asked an officer on horseback about the curfew time when another officer barged into the conversation. Davis called that officer unprofessional and walked away, at which point, he says, the cop hit him from behind.

I, for one, believe Davis. Watch that clip one more time. See how brutally they attack him in the face, even though he is already subdued? See how they kick him while he is down? This was not self-defense.