It was a bad day. A lot of bad stuff happened. And I'd love to forget it all. But I don't. Not ever. Because this is what I do. Every time, every day, every second, this: On five, we're bringing down the government.
Tuesday, October 28
The NSA Deleted My Post!!!!!
So I was writing a detailed post dissecting the Sharyl Attkinson story, which is either the biggest political scandal in US history or nothing at all, or possibly somewhere in between, and I hit control-T to open a new tab to get a link, except I hit control-R instead, and pfft, no post.
I have only myself to blame. Literally, since (a) I made the mistake and (b) I wrote this software.
Long story short: I suspect that Sharyl Attkinson probably has a habit of clicking on links in email and her computer was just a virus soup by the time she left CBS. Was one of those viruses sent by a three-letter agency rather than a Belarusian botherder? I wouldn't put it past the present administration to try something as stupid and criminal as that, but we certainly don't have compelling evidence that this is the case. Attkinson's reporting of the technical details is incoherent.
Which makes me wonder about the quality of her reporting previously. It's the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect all over again.
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
— Michael Crichton
Even well-intended experts can screw up, like the security researcher who was convinced that he'd found viruses updating themselves using the computer's audio channels to communicate, or those researchers who thought they'd found neutrinos traveling faster than light, when all they had was a faulty cable. Attkinson is no expert, and her description of the security incidents is sensationalised to such a degree that it's impossible to tell if anything untoward happened at all.
Server rollout plan for the next version of mee.nu / mu.nu. Rather than running on a couple $200/month dedicated servers, it will be running on a network of about 30 $10/month cloud servers. Which should make it really fast and almost indestructible.
The key development that makes this possible is cheap SSD-based virtual servers. I have one right here in Sydney; only $7 per month and just amazingly fast. I've been testing different providers for the last few weeks - Linode, Digital Ocean, Binary Lane, Vultr, RunAbove, and of course Amazon and Google. All of them work well, but have different strengths.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, November 06 2014 06:33 PM (PiXy!)
If you're moving existing OpenVZ containers to a newer OpenVZ server, here are a couple of tips for things that might otherwise drive you insane:
OpenVZ now defaults to using Ploop rather than SimFS for storage. That means each container gets its own dedicated filesystem rather than being mapped directly onto the existing /vz filesystem. That's not a problem in itself, but if your management process (backups and migration) relies on the old SimFS behaviour, that will all break.
To fix this, just change this line in /etc/vz/vz.conf:
## Filesystem layout for new CTs: either simfs or ploop
The other issue relates to firewalls. You may not need per-container firewalls, but if you do, the new default iptables configuration means that the default iptables configuration file will not load. That's less than ideal, but it's easily fixed.
In the container config file you're using, just change the line
The virtualisation world is very specialised. Lots of stuff that doesn't mean anything unless you're specifically running one particular hypervisor, whether it's OpenVZ or KVM or Xen or VMWare.
I like OpenVZ because (a) it's lightweight and (b) the hypervisor level is an ordinary Linux kernel, and lets you see everything going on in all the VMs at once. If I was running virtual machines on someone else's platform, though, I'd want KVM or Xen precisely so they couldn't do that.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, October 26 2014 01:01 AM (PiXy!)
ploop? I'm supposed to trust my business-critical process to something that the designer couldn't even be bothered to name properly?
Do you honest to Mog think I'm going to use software designed/implemented by morons with the engineering discipline of a 3-year-old with a set of duplo's?
Posted by: dkAllen at Tuesday, October 28 2014 05:18 AM (c/F3T)
They had to use "ploop" because all the good names had been taken.
GOG has started releasing Amiga games. They bundle an Amiga emulator that runs on Windows and Mac.
First entry is Cinemaware's Defender of the Crown, which is a fine choice. The only thing is that I already have an Amiga emulator and a disk image of Defender of the Crown. Legitimately - I own the game and Cinemaware has (or at least had) a download site.
There's also a brand new remake of Cinemware's Wings, which looks really good. Right now GOG only have it on Windows, but the Mac version was released a few days ago and should show up soon.
They dropped the brilliant Nexus 7, when they could have easily upgraded it from last year's best small tablet to this year's best small tablet,* and brought out the Nexus 9.
Which is... Eh.
It's the first 64-bit Android device that I know of. I'm not sure if the Intel-based tablets support 64-bit Android.
It has a 4:3 screen (like the iPad) rather than the more usual 16:10 on other Android tablets. It has... Nothing else special. 64-bit, 4:3.
And the 32GB version sells for $589, where a 32GB iPad Mini 2 costs $429, and is a lot lighter - 330g for the iPad Mini vs. 425g for the Nexus 9.
They'll sell a few to Android developers, but beyond that, I'm not sure who it's for. The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 32GB is $649, but it has a larger, higher-resolution, AMOLED screen, and MicroSD for extra storage.
* Just swap the Snapdragon 600 CPU for an 800 and bump storage from 16/32GB to 32/64GB and you're done. Add a MicroSD slot if you really want to hit it out of the park. Everything else about the device is great.
What's so good about Nexus 7? I have a 2013 model with a poor placement of on-off button. Had it for a year now and continue to fumble it almost every time. It's madness. It's painful to admit, but iPad is much better in that regard.
Posted by: Pete at Wednesday, October 22 2014 07:49 AM (RqRa5)
Low cost, great screen, small, light, fast enough, good battery life, comfortable to hold, no third-party crapware, perfect aspect ratio for reading books and email. Not a good aspect ratio for reading the web, though; many sites are too small to read unless you switch to landscape mode.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, October 22 2014 02:27 PM (PiXy!)
A few months ago my Nexus 7 died. I have a couple of other tablets, but the Nexus 7 is the one I use every day for reading and checking email. My iPad mostly just sits there.
It was a bad time for it to happen, because the Nexus 7 was out of stock at Google and all the local shops. I managed to find one online, though it was a Wifi-only model, not 4G like the dead one, but that would do.
Fast forward to now, and Google have officially dropped the Nexus 7, ignoring the fact that it is the best 7" tablet in existence. What you've got now is all you're ever going to get. So I took another run at restoring my old Nexus 7.
It doesn't seem to charge from the USB port any more. I got a Qi wireless charger at the time it died, and succeeded in charging it, but then it wouldn't boot.
I left it on the charger again overnight, and this morning it booted as far as "Bad command" screen with the little deceased Android mascot.
And while I was trying to get it to reset (hold down the power button and volume-up controls until it responds) it apparently succeeded with some self-repair operation and booted all the way into Android, with all my apps and data intact.
So, yay for that! I expected at the very least to have to do a factory reset, but it came up fine and I was able to update it to Android 4.4.4.
Probably if I'd persisted with it some more last time I wouldn't have had to buy the new one, but then I wouldn't be able to buy a spare now.
Server move complete. There was a problem with one of the database indexes, which is why it took rather longer than the expected 10-15 minutes. Everything got transferred across just fine, the services came up, and the past month of posts was MIA.
Mostly it's the same as last year's model, with the rest of the hardware getting minor upgrades - Thunderbolt 2, and up to the Core i7 4790K processor and Radeon R9 M295X graphics. Which is the fastest 4-core desktop CPU you can get, and one of the fastest mobile graphics chips.*
So the new 14 megapixel display is the one standout feature. Is it worth the price increase?
In a word, hell yeah. Comparing equivalent models, retina and non-retina, the difference is only $300 - $2499 vs. $2199 in the US, or $2999 vs $2689 in Australia.
Given that Dell's 5K monitor is expected to sell for $2499 by itself, $2499 for a fairly well-configured** 5K iMac is a bargain.
Am I getting one here at PixyLab? Yes. No question, this is going to be my new primary computer. I'm going to go for a system with a 1TB SSD, so my config will be a little more expensive, but I was planning to get a 4K display and some sort of Mac in any case.
Update: Just saw a review of the latest version of MacOS X 10.10. Like iOS 7 and Windows 8 before it, it looks like a cheap cartoon version of itself. You have 14 million pixels to work with and you give us this?!
* Faster than my desktop Radeon 7950.
** That includes a 3.5GHz quad-core CPU, Radeon R9 M290 graphics, a 1TB fusion drive, and 8GB of RAM. That's a little light on the RAM, which is user-upgradeable and so not a problem, and probably also on the storage, which isn't.
So, we had a big storm roll through Sydney yesterday. Well, medium-sized storm, anyway.
And we had a blackout where I live in the northern suburbs. Four hours after the storm had passed. Don't know what the story was with that.
Anyway, 11:30 at night, I was in the shower, lights go off, water goes cold, kind of annoying. I found my notebook (sitting by the bed) and opened the lid, which provided enough light to find some clothes and then my phone and my tablet, check Twitter (Hey, the power just went out!) and go to bed.
Around 2AM everything came back on and woke me up, and I checked my computers and got them rebooting before heading back to bed.
I was worried about the Linux box because it had a degraded RAID array that I hadn't got to fixing (though I do have a full backup). So I checked on that this afternoon... And it's no longer degraded. It's working perfectly.
Also, server move next weekend. Details to follow, expect 30 minutes or so of downtime.
Update: It's doing this. It's not meant to do that.
4" of rain in Sydney yesterday, 8" of snow in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney. It's not unusual for them to get a bit of snow in winter, but 8" this late in the year is pretty rare.
This time last year they had raging bushfires up there.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, October 15 2014 03:14 PM (PiXy!)
Pixy. Wonderduck has an odd bug to report. It seems Mee.nu, and Mu.nu can't be accessed from Illinois. This is the case in multiple browsers. All other sites are accessible. (Mote: I don't think he actually tested ALL other sites) Anyway, he asked me to post a comment to this effect. I should note that blog access is most desirable as he''l soon be housebound. Duck season starts in Illinois this Sunday.
I appear to be back, thanks to helpful tips and pointers from Pixy.!
Posted by: Wonderduck at Saturday, October 18 2014 07:19 AM (BCjxQ)
...and the spammers are returned. Now they've actually gone from annoying to flat-out vexing, as their new trick is to make their messages VISIBLE, as opposed to so hag-ridden that it never appears in the comments.
Even worse, now they're talking sports. Not well, but sports.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Tuesday, October 21 2014 07:57 AM (BCjxQ)
Now that the server move is done, I have more time to work on the spam filter. I'll get on this today.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, October 21 2014 02:24 PM (PiXy!)