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Note:These pages make extensive use of the latest XHTML and CSS Standards. They ought to look great in any standards-compliant modern browser. Unfortunately, they will probably look horrible in older browsers, like Netscape 4.x and IE 4.x. Moreover, many posts use MathML, which is, currently only supported in Mozilla. My best suggestion (and you will thank me when surfing an ever-increasing number of sites on the web which have been crafted to use the new standards) is to upgrade to the latest version of your browser. If that's not possible, consider moving to the Standards-compliant and open-source Mozilla browser.

April 30, 2006

Colbert on a Tear

Stephen Colbert: the Colbert glare

Stephen Colbert has been just outstanding lately.

His interview with William Kristol turned one of the brightest conservative pundits in Washington into a stammering pool of sweat. And his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (QT, .torrent) … Let’s just say it was one of the funniest they’ve ever had. (If you missed it, you don’t need to take my word for it; download the torrent of the whole thing, and watch the rest of this year’s event.)

The AP’s Mark Smith introduced Colbert with

Mr. President, usually you and the politicians are the ones in the cross-hairs at this dinner. Tonight, no one is safe.

and, indeed, no one was … except, maybe, Helen Thomas.

Update (5/24/2006):

Colbert is so good, he even has Tom Delay fooled [via thinkprogress].
Posted by distler at 11:57 PM | Permalink | Followups (4)

April 28, 2006

Leitner in the Darkness

Frederick Leitner, a mathematician at Ben Gurion University has been doing some interesting stuff on the MathML front.

  1. He’s ported my itex2MML plugin for WordPress to WordPress 2.0. Frankly, I’ve been a little disappointed in the evolution of WordPress. (It seems to have slipped severely in its XHTML support, and there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of delivering on many of my other desiderata.) So, after unsuccessfully mucking around a bit when the 2.0 release came out, I kinda lapsed in my support for the plugin. It’s great to see that Frederick has taken up the ball.
  2. He’s ported my Numeric Entities plugin to WordPress.
  3. He’s got a WordPress plugin which attempts to process the TeX in the arXiv RSS feeds into MathML. It doesn’t seem to work too well, but — like Samuel Johnson’s quip about a dog walking on its hind legs — it’s amazing that it works at all.
  4. He’s even got MathML support enabled in Thunderbird. Given my previous tests, I’d be kinda surprised if that sufficed to get Thunderbird to render a MathML-laden Atom feed.

He even does the occasional interesting bit of mathematical blogging. Which reminds me: I ought to do a bit more posting hereabouts.

Posted by distler at 11:52 PM | Permalink | Post a Comment

April 25, 2006


Every year, I write a solemn little essay, and post a link to my father’s tale. Everyone nods their heads solemnly and intones, “Never again!” … Before returning to whatever it was that they were doing.

It’s a safe bet, in that History never repeats itself in precisely the same way.

But does it mean any more than that? The slaughter in Darfur was raging a year ago, and it continues unabated today. What have we done to make good on our promise? What will we do?

Update (5/1/2006):

Oh, and here’s something to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. A recently unearthed recording of the first Shabbat service after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, April 20th 1945: the inmates sing Hatikva.
Posted by distler at 8:34 AM | Permalink | Followups (3)

April 18, 2006

Atom Torture Test

For somewhat inexplicable reasons, I got into a conversation about RSS feeds in general, and mine in particular, over at Sam’s blog.

As you might have noticed, I’ve deprecated several of my RSS 2.0 feeds, in favour of their Atom alternatives. There’s a reason for that. If you’ve subscribed to a full-content feed, it’s probably because you want to be able to read the content of my posts in your feedreader. That’s cool with me, but for a variety of reasons, those RSS 2.0 feeds will not display the content correctly. And there is really no way to fix them.

At least in principle, the Atom alternatives ought to be better. But are they?

Posted by distler at 8:08 AM | Permalink | Followups (29)

April 10, 2006

2+1 D Yang-Mills at Large-N

A while back, I pointed to an announcement by Leigh, Minic and Yelnikov, proposing a solution to 2+1 D Yang-Mills at large-NN. Well, the long version of their paper has appeared.

Posted by distler at 8:02 PM | Permalink | Followups (2)

April 8, 2006

SRP Telnetd for MacOSX Tiger

For several years now, I’ve been happily using SRP Telnet for my remote login needs. I was running version 2.1.1 until I recently decided to upgrade to 2.1.2. Unfortunately, in the interim, the MacOSX developer tools were upgraded to xcode 2.2 (gcc 4.0.2). With a few tweaks1, SRP still compiles, and the telnet client functions just fine. But the telnetd dæmon is DOA. Even going back to 2.1.1, the same thing happens: compiles OK, the client works fine, but the dæmon is dead.

Fortunately, I still had a working binary of SRP telnetd 2.1.1 lying around, so restoring service was relatively easy.

But I would like to get SRP to compile and produce a working telnetd binary. Here’s how I compiled SRP:

patch -b -p0 < srp.patch
./configure --enable-loginf --with-openssl=/sw

and here’s my patch file.

Does anyone have any experience getting SRP telnetd to compile/run on MacOSX Tiger? Any hints would be appreciated.

Oh, and please don’t ask: why don’t you just use SSH? I do use SSH for some purposes. For graphical logins, I tunnel VNC over SSH, I use rsync -e ssh and scp to securely copy files, etc. But SRP is more2 secure and it has the nice advantage that the telnet sessions don’t automatically get disconnected when the client (usually, my iBook) goes to sleep. I can wake the machine up and resume the session where I left off.

1 SRP always required some tweaks to compile on MacOSX. The new developer tools introduced some problems I hadn’t seen before (and which, perhaps, are the source of my difficulties).

The main changes revolve around the utmp/utmpx logging code. With recent versions of the developer tools, utmp seems to be deprecated (pututline() is absent) in favour of utmpx (pututxline(), etc.). SRP uses utmp by default (and, moreover, assumes that it is GNU’s version, which looks like utmpx) and, when it finds utmpx, it bizarrely logs to both. I rearranged the ifdefs in base/libmisc/utmp.c to use utmpx instead of utmp whenever HAVE_UTMPX_H is defined.

I don’t think that’s the source of my problems, because SRP telnetd dies before even negotiating a connection, let alone issuing a login prompt.

2 Be honest. How many times have you received the dreaded

Someone could be eavesdropping on you right now (man-in-the-middle attack)!
It is also possible that the RSA host key has just been changed.

message from SSH and proceeded to login anyway?

Posted by distler at 11:56 AM | Permalink | Followups (2)

April 3, 2006

New AccessKeys.js

A while back, I unveiled a Javascript trick for making accesskey keybindings editable by the user. Rich Pedley noticed a bug in my implementation. Which necessitates the release of a new version: AccessKeys.js 0.12.

Share and enjoy!

Update (4/4/2006):

The indefatigable Mr. Pedley discovered that Accesskeys.js was not working in IE/6. The reason turned out to be Internet Explorer’s … ahemincomplete and quirky implementation of the setAttribute()/getAttribute() DOM methods. So I’ve revised the Javascript, yet again, to compensate.
Posted by distler at 1:41 AM | Permalink | Followups (2)

April 1, 2006


We’ve got several people, working on MINOS, here at UT. So I should be more clued-in than I am. But I learn from Andrew Jaffe that they have released their first data.

Posted by distler at 3:24 PM | Permalink | Followups (6)