Monday, November 28, 2005

Web desktop?

Miguel, your ideas aren't without merit. However, I am a bit scared of the web desktop. First, this would involve a substantial security risk, just by exposing new applications to external threats. Probably not an issue at home for you, since you are a home user with a firewall. But here at the university, opening up a port means opening it to the world. Needless to say, I'd hope that any such service was off by default, and had a good audit. Second, is it really necessary for each application to provide the functionality from scratch? Windos users have had SMB/CIFS since forever. If I want to share files with my family, I tell them to go to \\ben\photos, and they'll see the photos. In your case they go to http://ben:123/photos. Of course, the http user will get a spiffy UI. But what are the advantages to the SMB method:
  • One central security provider (the ACLs on the files). One program to audit
  • No work required for the application programmer
  • The files can be accessed even if f-spot or whatever isn't open
What about a combination of the two: we use Apache (a very well audited server) to serve up webdav based file sharing. Windows, Linux and Macs should be able to mount webdav shares. WebDAV could become the Linux SMB. However, users could also use a custom browser based view with search/rich ui. With your plan, it seems like every application would be reinventing the wheel.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pornography And CMU

Interesting email in my in box this morning. The SCS Frosh Advisor emailed the list that a student asked for an IC point [1] to be offered for watching an adult movie that is being shown at CMU.

Historically, it has been found that if CMU published in the schedule of movies that it was shoing an adult film, some local media would make a fuss about it. So, a semi-secret code was adopted that adult films would be listed TBA. I say semi-secret because Google knows what this means. My advisor decided not to offer an IC point (even though one of the tasks had been "watch a movie at cmu") for the TBA movies, reasoning that he should try to avoid "CMU Advisor Encourgages Porno" in the local tabloid^Wnewspaper (of course by blogging that I've somewhat circumvented this ;-).

One piece of advice Rich gave was that when he was a student at CMU he attended a showing of _Deep Throat_ and found that the effect of watching porn was reduced by watching it with a large group of students in a large auditorium. Sounds logcial.

[1] For background the IC is the SCS frosh imigration course. In order to pass this course we must attend almost all of the (sometimes boring) weekly guest lectures. We must also earn "IC" points which are basically proof that we did things other than sit in front of a computer. The point list is here

EDIT: at Rich's request I've removed the original email