March 5, 2010

Television and your brain maps

Posted in Behaviour at 20:03 by graham

The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge is a fascinating book about brain plasticity, the ability of our brain to re-wire itself to cope with changing conditions. In a chapter about culture’s influence on our brain maps, he says:

Television watching, one of the signature activities of our culture, correlates with brain problems.

How do we know this?

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March 1, 2010

Open up your WiFi

Posted in Society, Software at 01:28 by graham

Update: You need to know how to ban MAC addresses on your router, as you will eventually have a neighbor swamp your network with bittorrent. If you can do that simple operation (usually via your router’s web-based admin), open wi-fi is the right thing to do.


A few months back, I took the password off my WiFi router, and opened it up to the world, with SSID yes_we_are_sharing. Why?

The best answers are given by security expert Bruce Shneier – why open wireless. The second best answer is that Tor hacker Jacob Applebaum also runs open WiFi.

Here are my answers, and the reasons why you should join us.

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Setting up Monit on Ubuntu

Posted in Software at 00:18 by graham

Monit tells you if something goes wrong on your server, and tries to fix it. It can, for example, alert you:

  • When a process dies.
  • When a machine stops responding to network requests
  • When your machine has too high load average, memory consumption, or CPU usage.
  • When a file changes, hasn’t changed for a period of time, or grows beyond a certain size.

It can run a script of your choosing to attempt to fix the problem. It has an HTTP interface that shows you essential stats about the services you are monitoring. For detailed graphs, I recommend Munin.

Here’s how to get it working on Ubuntu:

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