Back in a moment.
Thank you Santa.
Thursday, February 26
The second highest-ranking country in the stats for my blog?
Tuesday, February 24
Canon have just announced the i990, which has seven ink colours and is up to 50% faster than the i965.
Remember that printer I wanted? The one with 6 colour, 4800x2400 dpi printing? That prints onto CDs and DVDs? That has a USB 2 hi-speed link? (And another USB port to plug your camera in.) The Canon i965? That printer?
Got it $60 off retail too, which paid for 8 reams of HP high-quality inkjet paper that just happened to be selling at half price.
It's currently just sitting on a chair looking cute, because I haven't had time to install all the little bits yet.
Tonight. I'll install all the little bits tonight.
Sunday, February 22
Migrated the whole of MuNu to the new server. It mostly seems to work.
Problems encountered and overcome:
I couldn't get into PostgreSQL to load the databases. Then I could. Either I did something and have forgotten what it was, or it was just being pesky.Now, I think it's time for a nap.
PHP was not built with PostgreSQL support. The automatic rebuild through CPanel did not work. A manual rebuild did.
One or two symbolic links pointed to a filesystem that doesn't exist on the new machine. Easy to fix once you find them.
On the old server, I can refer to a CGI script, say login.cgi, just as login and it works. I no longer have any idea how I did that, and I had to get creative to make it (sort of) work on the new server.
Left a couple of essential entries out of httpd.conf. This is understandable, since on the new server it is maintained by CPanel. This blew up Snooze Button Dreams, for example.
Forgot to create an account for Munuviana. Heh.
There were some other things, but I don't remember what. The usual delayed DNS changes taking me to the wrong site, that kind of thing.
Oh yes: Poxy suexec with its 17-stage security checking and wonderfully informative error messages, which completely broke Movable Type. Grr.
Saturday, February 21
I was doing an audit of the servers at work last week when I discovered that our backups no longer fit on one tape. Fortunately, we have DDS4 tape drives, but were using DDS3 tapes. So simply by using DDS4 tapes, we can fit 20GB on each tape instead of 12GB.
I went online to find a good price on DDS4 tapes. Last time I checked, they cost about $60 each, so I was pleased to see that they were now down around $30. I could get a box of five for $140, or a box of ten for...
Naturally, I immediately ordered five boxes of ten. They arrived today, total price $184 including $9 shipping.
The price has now been fixed, and a box of ten sells for $288. But I don't care, because I've got mine.
Thursday, February 19
And in yet another example of life imitating satire, Intel today announced their new chip, an AMD clone. Yes, the good old hill of yams, that Intel have been stridently denying lo these many months, is here.
And it's AMD-compatible.
Details for geeks:
Microsoft Goes Where the Money Is
The Inquirer Acts All Surprised
Andew Orlowski Sticks to the Technology and Gets the Story More Right Than Wrong, For a Change
Wednesday, February 11
Daniel, MuNu's pet grad student, posts regarding some interesting valentine's day gift ideas for the geek-girl in your life.
But the HTTPanties only come in "200 OK" and "403 Forbidden". Could we not make use of some of the other HTTP error codes?
100 Continue (Works for me.)
101 Switching Protocols (Um...)
204 No Content (Maybe on a guys boxers, if he's had, you know, snip-snip.)
300 Multiple Choices (See 101 Switching Protocols)
303 See Other (Other?)
304 Not Modified (On a ladies' t-shirt)
305 Use Proxy (Safety first)
307 Temporary Redirect ("If the 307 status code is received in response to a request other than GET or HEAD, the user agent MUST NOT automatically redirect the request unless it can be confirmed by the user, since this might change the conditions under which the request was issued.")
400 Bad Request (Try flowers or chocolates, maybe dinner and a movie.)
402 Payment Required (!)
404 Not Found (!!)
405 Method Not Allowed (See 101, 300)
406 Not Acceptable (See 400)
409 Conflict ("The request could not be completed due to a conflict with the current state of the resource.")
410 Gone (Gone where?)
411 Length Required (Ouch. That's gotta hurt.)
412 Precondition Failed ("Nibbling the earlobe, uhh, kneading the buttocks, and so on and so forth. So, we have all these possibilities before we stampede towards the clitoris.")
413 Request Entity Too Large (No comment.)
415 Unsupported Media Type ("The server is refusing to service the request because the entity of the request is in a format not supported by the requested resource for the requested method.")
416 Requested Range Not Satisfiable (?)
417 Expectation Failed ("Oh, you men are all alike. Seven or eight quick ones, and you're off with the boys.")
No, I'm not up quite as late as it looks. Something has gone screwy with the clock on the MuNu server. It thinks it's the right time (I set it from the clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, time.nist.gov), and the Timezone settings in MT haven't changed... Only, all my posts are post-dated.
It's just one of those little What the? Gah. I'll look at it when I have time. things that are all too common in computing.
I'm working up to a rant about software and hardware design, reliability and maintainability here. You can tell, can't you?
DVD #22, containing backups of... Well, never mind what, exactly. DVD #22 absolutely positively utterly refused to read, causing Windows XP to go into fits of freezingness to the point where I was forced to kill Windows Explorer. In between freezing, Windows complained bitterly that the disk was unformatted or indeed did not exist at all.
I just stuck it in the drive again. It works. Fine, no problems, first time, no delay, copied all the files off, no errors, all works perfectly, never was a problem in the first place.
Wednesday, February 04
Every ten minutes or so, it seems, someone proposes a scheme for ridding the world of spam. That's the email kind, not the tasty dead-burnt-animal-in-a-tin kind.
The only problem is that in almost every case, the person proposing this magical solution knows absolutely nothing about how email actually works. Having helped set up an ISP, having written a mailserver of my own (used internally for several years, but long since abandoned), and being responsible for four mailservers right now, I have learnt at least a little bit.
And here are two of the things I have learned:
One, your proposal has been suggested before. Probably before you even knew what the Internet was.
Two, the reason that you have never heard it discussed and so think it is wonderfully original and clever is that it won't work, can't work, is impossible to implement, and that all of this is immediately obvious to anyone with the faintest idea about the actual implementation of the global email system.
The latest dumb idea comes from Microsoft, a Premium Dumb Idea Provider™, their friends at Yahoo (Google Ate Our Lunch™), and is presented by The New York Times (We Suck, But You Have To Register Anyway™).
I could go into a lengthy and entertaining-only-to-geeks rant about why this latest proposal is utterly dumbfoundingly wrong-headed and at the same time one of the purest examples of corporate greed to surface in years - they want you to pay for email - but one of the posters at Slashdot has saved me the trouble:
Your company advocates a
(x) technical ( ) legislative (x) market-based ( ) vigilante
approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)
( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
(x) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
(x) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(x) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
(x) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
(x) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
(x) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business
Specifically, your plan fails to account for
( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(x) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
(x) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
(x) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
(x) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
(x) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
(x) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
(x) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
(x) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with Microsoft
(x) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with Yahoo
(x) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
(x) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook
and the following philosophical objections may also apply:
(x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
(x) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
(x) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
(x) Sending email should be free
(x) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough
Furthermore, this is what I think about you:
( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
(x) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid company for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!
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