Well that's good. Fantastic. That gives us 20 minutes to save the world and I've got a post office. And it's shut!

Wednesday, November 29


Falling Out Of Love

Has anyone else noticed that when you leave VMWare Server running for a prolonged period on a Windows PC it slugs everything up, including itself? It's not so bad on my office machine, but on my home machine, a lowly 2.6GHz P4, it gets pretty painful.

So much so that I gave up, and started pricing a new Linux box.

But then I realised that I have a Linux box right here.* Okay, so it's got 500-odd gigabytes of stuff on it that I'd have to get rid of so that I could reformat and reinstall, but some of that is probably duplicates, and I could just get another 320GB external drive for the rest, which is, like, heaps cheaper than a new PC.

So I did.

I got another of the evil Blue-Eye cases I bought last time - two actually, the second so I can put my semi-dead former C drive in and try to scrape some more data off. (When I was recovering data from it I frequently needed to power-cycle the thing, which becomes a lot simpler when it's in an external case. Which, yes, has a power switch. Right on the front.)

Had to slide my monitor a couple of inches to the right to hide the new one too.

I have a couple of 120GB drives sitting around unused, so when I've done with Mr C, I can pop one of those in. Which will give me three three-port powered USB2 hubs on my desk.

And an eerie blue glow when the lights are out. Okay, an eerie blue glow that you can read by, but the thought is there.

* This is my old Linux box. I'm not touching my main Linux box, which has a couple of terabytes of fansubbed anime on it. That one is sacrosanct.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 06:45 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, November 28


To Plesk Or Not To Plesk

Anyone out there who uses Plesk? Either as a server administrator or as an end user?

I'm thinking of installing it on the servers for New Project, just to have a convenient web interface. It only adds $10 per month, doesn't look like it will get in the way, and saves me from setting up a few things that I would otherwise have to install myself.

Also, it's pretty.

I'll probably get the $99 10-domain version and install it on a server at home and see how it behaves.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:19 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Speaking Of Which...

The scanner I bought last year (a Canon Lide500F) has been superseded by the Canon Lide600F, which has twice the resolution. 4800dpi instead of 2400. Same price.

I wonder if it makes any practical difference whatsoever.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:16 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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It's A Scam, Dammit!

256GB on an A4 sheet of paper? The solution to all your storage needs?

No. It's physically impossible.

Also, about 50% of the people on Slashdot have no understanding whatsoever of information theory. More surprisingly, the other 50% do.

Same goes for the discussion here. Half the people are pointing out that it's completely impossible, an obvious scam, and the other half are saying "But what if I use lots of colours/shapes?" Even after it's been explained fifty times that this does not help.

A bit is a bit is a bit. Yes, with a 3x3 grid of pixels, you can display 512 different shapes*, but that is still just 9 bits of information. If each pixel can be one of 256 colours, that's 256^9 different combinations (not 256*512), but only 72 bits of data.

* Ignoring all types of symmetry for the moment.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:54 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, November 23



We've been having power glitches at the office all afternoon, just half a second or so. My PC rebooted earlier, but it has a cheap power supply, so that was no surprise. Most of the other, older, machines survived.

One of the servers rebooted after the last glitch. It's on a UPS.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:26 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Saturday, November 18


Two Steps Forward, One Kick In The Pants

One: Internode turns on ADSL2 Annex M. That means upstream speeds of 2.5Mbits, up from 1Mbit.

Two: SoftLayer launches quad-core servers. Including dual-processor quad-core models. And they're not much more expensive than the dual-core versions.

Kick: One of the munu sites has a leetle hole in it, and has been used as a spam relay. Not Movable Type or Minx, but a PHP app somewhere. I've had to disable outgoing email until I can find out which PHP app. Which shouldn't be that hard, except I'm otherwise occupied.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:26 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Wednesday, November 15


Install Install Install...

I also got my notebook back from HP repair, where it's been for the past two weeks. I mentioned that it has a small problem with intermittently dropping dead without warning or apparent reason. A couple of weeks ago, this stopped being intermittent.

After I swapped out my 100GB drive for the original 40GB unit, removed my 1GB memory module, and re-installed Windows from scratch (twice, since the system crashed the first time), it was intermittent again, but kind of useless since I no longer had any software or files installed, so I gave in and sent it in for repair.

Where they plugged it in, loaded up their test routine, and left it running for days without any sign of error.

So they called back and told me this, and I mentioned two things that I knew had crashed the machine: smacking the screen with your hand (it was an accident!) and installing Windows.

Which they did. Install Windows, that is. I guess it's one of those immovable object vs. irresistable force thingies. On the one hand, any complex machine sent for repair with an intermittent fault will work perfectly until the engineer gives up and sends it back.

On the other hand, installing Windows.

So it crashed, and they traced it to the memory, which they replaced, and they ran the soak test again, and it was good, and they sent it back.

And I plugged it in, and I ran a soak test of my own, and it was good, and then I closed the lid, and it crashed.

And then I re-installed the 1GB memory module, and it crashed, and it crashed, and it crashcrashcracracracrashed. Gatling-gun BSODs.

So I pulled out the memory modules, and swapped them around, and ran Memtest86, and it was fine again.

And the reason this matters, when I have three fully-functional desktops at home (two of them not even infected with Windows)?

I use the notebook to watch anime. So yes, I have watched no anime for two weeks. Two weeks! And before that I was ill, and before that I was on holiday, so four weeks.

My VHS tapes were starting to look good.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:45 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Format Format Format...

I've had a 320GB drive sitting on my desk for a few weeks, waiting for me to work out how to get it into my Windows box, which currently contains one (1) failed disk and hence one (1) spare SATA port... but not where I can get at them easily. And I have a 600GB spanned volume in there, and I don't want to find out what happens if I get the cables mixed up.

Meanwhile, μTorrent has been torrenting away; iTunes has been sucking up podcasts; I have some new and not-exactly-small VMWare systems to run; I have a bunch of DVDs to DVDshrink; and of course there's the ever-growing collection of stuff.

I needed that drive.

So I got one of these.

It is what it says, as far as I can see. It takes either IDE or SATA drives (it has both connectors on its circuit board, and fiddly little cables), and connects to your PC via either USB or eSATA. 480Mbps today; 1.5Gbps tomorrow!

I popped it open, attached the drive to the circuit board with the screws provided*, slid it back in... pulled it out, tucked the SATA cable down so that it didn't get trapped, slid it back in successfully this time, plugged it in, and turned it on.

Storage manager found it, and it's formatting away.

It also has a three-port USB hub; haven't tried that yet, but I will.

So, plusses: It works; it's reasonably inexpensive; it takes SATA drives so that you can take them out at a later date and put them in a machine; eSATA option; USB hub. Not especially ugly. Power and backup buttons. Backup software.

Minuses: Those darn blue LEDs are pretty bright; I've tucked it away behind my monitor so I don't have to look at it. No fan.

Overall, I'd rate this a crackers... oops, too much Anime Pulse... a doesn't suck much. And I'm good for disk space for the next three months.

Now all I need to do is swap out my buggered CD burner (which is stuck closed with my Hordes of the Underdark CD in it) for my new 16x DVD burner. And then! Then I will have a somewhat slow and elderly but reasonably capable PC with too many drives attached to it.

* Which, being very flat, make good replacements for the lost screws from my 4-drive SATA backplane. The external case has enough clearance for normal screws; the backplane doesn't, but as I said, I lost the screws.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:22 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, November 14


Door Number Three!

I'm working with a variant of XSS-countermeasure 3 from my earlier post. I still sanitise comments (though there are some holes in the current implementation), but I won't bother with the posts or templates. Yes, the owner of a blog will be able to steal your cookie. I've just set things up so that the cookie isn't any good to him.

Which means (yay!) users can Ajax all they want* and (yay!!) I don't have an arms race with people trying to work around my sanitiser script. (Well, again, maybe in comments, but all that happens then is the comments get deleted by the bloggers.)

Which leaves just one component of the system that isn't a variation on something I've done before - trust metrics. Fortunately, while there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of stuff written about how to prevent XSS attacks (or at least, not much useful stuff**), I trip over interesting stuff on trust metrics everywhere.

* Minx is Ajax-agnostic. A page is a page; a request is a request. HTML vs. XML is just a difference in the template. And since the Minx user interface is built in Minx, this gives me a fair bit of flexibility.

** A lot of the advice consists of "Sanitise your pages really carefully. Bob didn't pay enough attention to his sanitiser script, and his company lost $50 million. Bob now washes windscreens for a living." The one worthwhile thing that I've seen come up is the first commandment of computer security: Default deny.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:06 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Seems that some fans aren't happy with the new Neverwinter Nights:
Dungeons and Dragons is a very rule intensive, complex game... and Bioware tamed that beast. Obsidian simply fired tranquilizers at it until it couldn't fight no more. I'm really looking forward to reading a post mortem of this game; it'll probably be more interesting than the game itself.
With NWN2 sidelined for at least a few patch cycles, and FFXII not due to hit Oz until an unspecified date in '07, the only thing I have to look forward to this Christmas is... uh... Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2?

Somehow, I think I might get some work done over the holidays.

Update: Definitely not happy.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:58 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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