This Space for Rent

Mar 31, 2005

Take our children to work day!

At least that's what the mail from management at work says.

A wonderful idea, I'm sure, except for a few tiny details. The (very chirpy, because it comes from human resources, and by US statute all corporations must put HappyDrugs! into water coolers in the HR department) mentions, right off the bat, that « the day will begin with a continental breakfast from 8:00 until 9:00am »

8:00am. So the idea would be that we'd be, um, awake at 8:00am? And not only that, functional at 8:00am? I don't know if there's enough tea in the entire pacific northwest to make that happen.

Now if they started this after the sun has had a chance to warm things up a bit -- 2pm or so -- then it might be feasable. But not until then.

1 comment

Mar 30, 2005

Stupid people need a stupid god.

Arthur Silber has a brief post up about "intelligent design" loonies who are having some sort of propagandafest to push their stupid pretend theories.

The whole idea of "intelligent design", of course, is that because living things are complicated, that means that there's no way that they just evolved and they had to be designed (on May 6th, 6006BC, around teatime) by G-d some mysterious superpower that mysteriously resembles G-d, because if they just came out and said "G-d made everything on May 6th, 6006BC, around teatime" the whole idea would be laughed at, even by many of the fundamentalist kooks who would otherwise support it. And this is pretty funny, too. Because this is the Jewish G-d we're talking about; this is someone who woke up on monday, decided that it was time to create the entire universe, and had it finished and filled with worshippers by the end of the workweek. The entire universe, mind you, but the "intelligent design" people seem to think it's too hard for G-d to set the earth up so that evolution will end up with complicated living creatures on it.

One of the pious comments that are made when some horrible disaster happens (tsunami in Asia, droughts in Africa, the GOP metastasizing into the Evil Party, etc) is that it's "G-d's will" and people can't know what's in G-d's mind. Unless, of course, it's some complicated technical thing (like, oh, programming a VCR), and then the huge mound of evidence that says THIS IS HOW I MADE THE WORLD! must be ignored, because, well, it's hard to program a VCR and if I can't do it that means that G-d can't do it either! If I was Jewish (and by Jewish, I include Christians and Muslims.) I'd be claiming that supernovas are when G-d's brain explodes from frustration with the idiots who don't bother to use the blob of tissue that sits at the top of their spinal column.

The only thing "Intelligent design" has going for it is that it's a shorter way of saying "We are the stupid people! Come and bilk us, please!"


Just give a little *beep*, *beep* on your party horn.

Because when the television reports that Earth has suffered irreversible damage, they certainly can't be talking about this Earth.

So if I moved to British Columbia today, I'd be getting the climate that Portland used to have 40 years ago? And then I'd need to move to the Yukon so I could enjoy the climate I used to be familiar with when I was a child in central Wisconsin? Or I could stay here and watch the desertification of the west coast in real time?

Decisions, decisions. And each one of them is more appealing than the other.


1 comment

Updates to my homepages

I've updated my SCRAPpy page and my homebuilt PC cases page to mention my new workbench and the Glass PC.

The regularly scheduled ranting about the Evil Party will resume tomorrow (unless I snap and go out and buy a digital camera to replace the A60 and A70.)

Mar 29, 2005

Apparently computers get old and grumpy too…

The Factory Case, which I'm using as my home computer even though it's got a wide assortment of little electronic squeaks and squeals (I've decided that it's impossible to make a PC completely quiet, because once you get rid of the fans you realize that all of the circuitry in the silly machine has its own little annoying sound. I might be able to quiet the machine down if I potted the entire thing in epoxy, but that would make it a little bit more difficult to maintain), has developed a fun startup routine.

I run Windows 2000 on the box, and over the past couple of weeks the startup routine is that I turn the machine on, it boots, waits a minute, and then either bluescreens or silently reboots. After that it's fine; it runs happily as long as I need it to without fuss, muss, or bother. Either (a) there's some marginal component or connection in the case that requires some amount of heating up before it works properly, or (b) I made a horrible mistake when I forgot to put in a spout so I could give it a cup of tea when I wake it up.

It's possible that it's just Windows 2000 being stupid -- Microsoft is pretty good at making operating systems that have the stupid switch flipped on, then welded into place. If that's the case, it's time for me to drag Mastodon up into the 21st century by putting in a kernel that supports hardware that's been developed in this millenium (though, judging from some of the hardware that's been developed in this millenium -- Adaptec, I'm looking at *you* here -- I'm not sure if that's really such a grand plan.) Or I could just buy a teeny tiny powermac, gut it, and use the parts for a complete organ transplant in the existing case.

I'll probably just start with putting Linux on the box. There are a couple of really bizarre problems with cut and paste from putty on Unix, but when you're running X and have loaded you system up with good truetype fonts (courtesy of Microsoft and Bitstream), PhoenixThunderskunk has better fonts that you can find with Windows, even if blackbox doesn't give you quite everything that Windows does.

Mar 28, 2005

Institutionalizing Evil Party moral values

Now the torturers are doing on the record presentations about why torture is good. Never mind that torture doesn't work. Never mind that they're torturing innocent civilians picked up off the street because the footsoldiers have a prisoner quota they need to fill. Never mind that torture is an obscenity before G-d that no civilized society should condone. Oh, no, it's a battle of civilizations, and the torturers will cheerfully chirp on about it being really important that our "civilization" should surrender before it's at risk of being "conquered" by some other (and by other, they mean "non-white") civilization.

What next? Big conventions at the Marriott, with slaves flown in from Iraq for live torture demonstrations so the thumbscrew manufacturers can demonstrate their new "humane" fingerbreakers, and nice keynote speeches by conservative religious figures who will piously explain that it's a holy war and if you torture someone for Christ G-d will personally see to it that you get into Heaven?

(link via yelladog)

1 comment

Mar 27, 2005

Late night railroad engineering

It's late at night and almost time to go to bed, so what to do?

I know!

We'll build a mountain railroad over the pile of clean laundry that someone else needs to fold!


Gimme that old time Religion!

The Evil Party in Michigan is trying to pass (urged on by local Catholic organizations that feel that compassion for your fellow man is quaint) a bill that lets bigots deny health care to gay people. My, what a charming idea that is; if this piece of pure unmitigated evil passes, the bigots will be able to gaybash someone, then the local "healthcare" establishment will be able to say "no, sorry, we're bigots" and just not bother to respond to the 911 call.

Did Satan give blowjobs to all the members of the Michigan Catholic Council, or did the council just wake up one morning and decide to toss Christianity out the window all by themselves?

(link via Atrios)

But the true meaning of Easter is…

... trainspotting!

On the way back from Easter lunch at my parents', we swung through the EPT's Milwaukie industrial park to see if anything was happening, and just as we reached the (ex-) Clackamas County minimum security prison site, we saw #802 come down the ramp by the shop pulling a couple of refrigerator cars.

And while I was out of the car, I took yet another picture of the EPT shops because they were apparently doing something with EPT 100 and had moved it off the track with the rebuilt geep and the ex-SP 70 tonner.

The weather outside is frightful…

... but by G-d that's not going to stop the Easter Bunny from doing his part to put the G-dless Secular Humanism back into Easter. I carefully placed all of the easter eggs and candy into the front yard while the bears were wading in Westmoreland park, and when they came back they darted around (Silas in his usual methodical way, and Russell in his usual hummingbird on speed way) picking up the soggy treats that were left for them.

Mar 26, 2005

Oooh, Spooky!

After finishing the GlassPC, I left it sitting in the basement in case I wanted to do any last minute tweaks. Today, I found a set of bright blue LED computer case feet that I'd bought several years ago before I realized that it was more fun to make computer cases than it was to customise the boring old steel boxes that most PC compatables come in. I realized that if I pried the leds out of the case feet I'd be left with 4 bright blue LEDs wired up to be run off a 12v power line, which just happened to be available inside the glassPC.

A removable lid makes it easy to make quicky changes; I popped the lid, stuffed the pile of LEDs, wire, and on-off switch into the case, put the lid back on, turned it on, and....

Yes, I could put some flourescent tubes into the case, but that would spoil the "made from SCRAP parts" effect. Even just tossed into the case, the effect is very pretty -- when the LEDS are placed in the front of the box, they don't shine up through the grill on the top, and they don't appear to shine through the red glass panels on the sides at all. I think I'll have to unfinish the GlassPC so I can retrofit it with these lights (and, while I'm at it, I'll put in a reset switch; I'm going to put the on/off switch for the leds under the hood, so I can set the reset switch right next to that on/off switch and it will be just like the diagnostics panel on an IBM x-series PC, except much less annoying.)

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The westmoreland easter egg hunt

Every year, around easter time, the local neighborhood association sponsors an easter egg hunt to help promote G-dless secular humanism™ and tooth decay. We've gone to the last 4 of them, and this year was no exception, even though it was raining and we are all sick with (yet another) cold.


Russell had a very productive time picking over the grounds, and after he'd scoured the earth down to bedrock, he (and his friend Florian) decided that it would be much more productive to simply follow the people who were refreshing the candy supply.

Silas is a little bit sickly, so he didn't pick up nearly as many little chocolate deathbombs, but he still remains very cute (here he's wearing my father's hat and looking very very cute indeed):

Mar 25, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Captain Dust Mite and Russell survey the ocean ahead as the family crosses the Columbia on the Cathlamet to Westport ferry.

1 comment

Mar 24, 2005

I have become death, destroyer of cameras?

The best took the A60 yesterday, leaving me with nothing but the emergency camera. While at the beach, it decided that it would join its bigger brother in the grave; by the time it came back to Portland, it had developed beautiful plumage and had to be nailed to its perch so it wouldn't get away.

So all we've got left in the electronic camera department is a slug. And a healthy dislike for Canon all-in-one cameras. I've been drooling over the cheaper Canon digital SLRs, but I would be fairly unhappy if I spent US$800 on a camera that only lasted a year before the magic smoke disappeared.

And, no, I don't think that a film camera would be a particularly good solution; when I was a teenager, I played around with developing my own pictures, and I remember it taking a lot of time for me to build up a large collection of blurry over and underexposed pictures of Milwaukee Road Alco and F-M switchers.

I guess it's time to start looking at various camera magazines and figuring how much money it would be worth to have a camera that's not quite so all-singing all-dancing as the all-in-one cameras are, but which would not cost me the downpayment on a house in a free country.

Fun with LOADLIN

If a Linux kernel gets to be just slightly too large for LOADLIN.EXE to load (like, oh, if you're using the 2.4.21 + R*dh*t + MyCorporateMaster patched kernel), LOADLIN appears to cheerfully load it without complaint, only to leave you with a machine that locks up at decompression (or, possibly, one that crashes or locks up later on in the boot process.)

It only took me about 3 days (and about 9 cds) to figure this one out, and it will probably take me another day or so to figure out how to properly pass command lines to the LOADLIN replacement program I'm using (LINLD, which, regrettably, is somewhat lacking in the documentation department. But at least I've got the source, so after making my eyes bleed reading someone else's assembly language I may be able to construct command lines for boot with vga console vs. boot with serial console.)

Ugh. That's 24 hours of my life sacrificed to the bootstrap gods.

Mar 23, 2005

It must be springtime

The peacocks are trying to invite everyone back to their pads to look at their etchings.

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Using the emergency camera

When our canon A70 went to consumer digital camera heaven last week, I had to fall back on using the cheapy A60 I bought last fall. Well, the best and the bears went off to the coast for a couple of days today, and they took the A60 with them, so I had to resort to desperate measures.

The Polaroid PDC3000 used to be a pretty good digital camera back in the days when a 1megapixel display was considered to be hot stuff. We ended up replacing it (with a now-vanished Kodak DC290) fairly quickly, though, because it suffered from a couple of annoying features. First, it takes 9 seconds to save an image onto the compact flash card it uses for film, and secondly, it doesn't save the image as anything reasonable like a .tiff file. No, it saves images in some horrid Polaroid proprietary format, and then you have to run a dos program to convert that format into a .tiff file (no other choices are available, and Polaroid didn't even think it was worth their time to even laugh at me when I asked them about the format so I could write a Linux conversion program for it) before you can do anything with it. Oh, and it doesn't have a LCD preview screen (not surprising, considering when it was made) and it eats batteries as if they were going out of style.

If it wrote images in a reasonable format, it could still be very useful, because it's made of metal, has replacable lenses, and is pretty close to indestructable. But when there aren't any other cameras around, it's still better than nothing.

Yet another computer case

I've been working on the Glass PC for a while, and it's finally done. As usual, I spent more time waiting for glue to dry (and building the workbench) than I did actually doing the work. Now all I need to do is bolt in the motherboard and figure out which software goes on it. I may make it into a music machine like the oggOmatic and then we'll be able to have an oggOmatic for home and for taking on vacations (it's only about 300 times larger than an iPod, but, unlike the iPod, I've got all the sources to it.)

The back panel is acrylic sheet, lightly sanded so it won't be completely clear. There is nothing between the top panel and the processor board, so the Pepsi Syndrome has the potential for fatally hilarious consequences.

And, yes, in case you're wondering, it does have the obligatory crooked leg. One of the days I'm actually going to build something that doesn't have a crooked part on it, and then I will immediately die of shock.

The final bill of materials is

  • wooden frame, base, and top panel are hardwood scraps from The Joinery.
  • the glass (and acrylic) panels are from SCRAP, as is the decorative grillwork in the middle of the top coverplate.
  • the glass is held in with window caulk. This I bought new.
  • the motherboard is a VIA ME6000 (fanless);
  • No floppy drive, no cdrom. I don't need a floppy drive and CD-roms are too noisy for my taste -- if I need to attach a CD-Rom, I've got a couple of USB-connected ones that I can temporarily attach.

Mar 22, 2005

Open Source ®™© feature of the day (second pass)

The gcc on R*dh*t fedora core 3 (gcc 3.4.2, if gcc --version is to be believed) won't compile the Linux kernel that ships with RHEL3.

This is not compatability's finest hour. I guess the flying monkeys at the FSF want everyone to use the thrice-dammed-vanity-language instead of C, so this ongoing attempt to make gcc not be C is nothing more than just a very humble step towards BASIC (spelled p-y-t-h-o-n) everywhere.

I wonder if it's possible to port the Linux kernel to lcc or tendra C?

Open Source®™© feature of the day

The R*dh*t package manager from r*dh*t 8.0 (rpm 4.1) will not compile on r*dh*t fedora core 3, because the newer version of gcc on that machine doesn't seem to be able to deal properly with bitfields.

Remember, it's not C, it's gcc, which compiles a language which is almost, but not entirely, completely unlike the version of C that's described in K&R 2 (a language which is almost, but not entirely, completely unlike the version of C that's described in K&R 1.) There are standards and there are standards, and then there's the Open Source®™© concept of tripping standards into a dark alley, then putting the boot in repeatedly before running off with the standard wallet.

Not that I'd be at all annoyed that 3 year old code isn't compiling any more because the rocket scientests at the FSF decided, again, to reinterpret language specs. I should be delighted that I've got yet another opportunity to reinvent the wheel, or kludge around things that don't work correctly.

Mar 21, 2005

Does this count as coming off the reservation?

David Brooks, of all people, has launched into a scathing attack against the Evil Party operators who brought us the "K street project." Did someone sneak in and replace his drugs with placebos, or has Karl decided that it's time for the long-awaited hit on Grover Norquist?

«Abramoff's and Scanlon's Indian-gaming scandal will go down as the movement's crowning achievement, more shameless than anything the others would do, but still the culmination of the trends building since 1995. It perfectly embodied their creed and philosophy: "I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!!" as Abramoff wrote to Reed.
«They made at least $66 million.»

Of course, things printed in the New York Times (motto: "What's good for the Carlyle Group is good for us") are likely to fall with a dull thump onto the street, never to be seen again, but this would seem to spell the end for Ralph Reed's attempt to be "elected" governor of whatever state he's trying to be governor of. Pity (or "pity", as the case may be) that he didn't mention the Coward in Chief or any of his immediate henchmen, because I'd love to see them share the joy again.

(link via Atrios)

Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.

The joy of global warning is that allergies start early, last the whole year, and end just as the Christmas flu season starts.

This morning, the entire family woke up feeling stuffy and congested (for me, stuffy and congested enough so I had to come back from work early and take a nap). I just checked the pollen counts at, and it's predicting even more fun for tomorrow.

Pollen Forecast: Mar 22-24
Click pollen name for past conditions and pollen season. Source

Type Tomorrow Wednesday
Type: Alder

Type: Alder



Pollen Almanac
Recent conditions and season:
Mold | Tree | Grass | Ragweed

I looove global warming, really I do. Perhaps if I move to the Arctic Circle I'll be able to enjoy a month or so of clear sinuses before the polar icecap breaks up and the pollens strike me down again.

Mar 20, 2005

Oh, so that’s how the Red Sox won the World Series.

They sold their souls to Satan. I wonder how many people had to be tortured to death to pay for the pennant?

I guess it's time to switch allegience to the *shudder* Yankees; They were evil before the Coward in Chief overthrew the United States government, and thus didn't have to prove they were worthy of being cast into the pit.

(link via Hullabaloo)

Save the cabbage patch doll! (non-photogenic invalids need not apply)

After all, it might make a good campaign issue!

ABC News has obtained talking points circulated among Republican senators explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them: "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited..." and "This is a great political issue... this is a tough issue for Democrats."

White, dead, from a middle class family. What's not to love? It's not as if this zombie will rise from its deathbed and debunk all the carefully fabricated Evil Party PR stories.

But if you're in Texas and from a poor black family? No life support for you, because it would cost money. (Thanks to a bill signed by the Coward in Chief before the B*sh junta overthrew the government of the United States.)

«presumption in favor of life», my ass. It's presumption in favor of votes; if the cabbage patch doll came from a poor family, the right-to-lifers would be stumbling over each other to try to sign the "okay to kill people if they can't pay their bills!" law as fast as possible.

Mar 19, 2005

Saturday picture dump

A bunch of construction cranes discussing what to do next

Pillars holding up the Front Street bridge over Arthur Avenue.

Mar 18, 2005

Friday Cat Ransom Note Blogging

A perfectly good ransom note, spoiled by the teeny detail that these are not actually Atrios's cats.

One less Windows machine

At work, I've been using a box running Windows XP as my combined xterm & Waterquail server (plus, occasionally, as an Office™ 2003™ server for those days when I need to read a Word™ document from my corporate masters.) Yes, I know that I could use a Linux box to do all this work (and it would probably have made more sense to use Linux, because I'm one of the official Linux gurus at work), but I do think that the user interface of Windows is better than anything you can find on a Unix machine. So I used Windows, ignoring the occasional forced reboot when the IT department pushed out a windows update of the day that requires a reboot.

Until today.

When I read my work email (via a Unix machine, of course; mutt is a pretty crappy mail program, but it's a long ways better than Microsoft Outlook) this morning, the first piece of email was a forwarded warning from our (windows-oriented) IT department, telling us of the Bold! New! Program! To! Improve! Productivity! they're implementing. This program, as far as I can tell, involves nothing more elaborate than renaming a bunch of things just because, well, the old names must have been boring; one of the big things in the program is that all of the Windows machines will need to be renamed from their current StupidNames to new StupidNames, which are the old StupidNames with a department and location prefix. So my machine, which already has the StupidName dparsons, will become UNIX_SPDX_dparsons, just so the IT department -- which has apparently never heard of a database -- can track the stupid licensed software on the box. All of the Windows machines in the entire company (and this is a big company) will be renamed in this matter, but Unix machines, since they don't tend to run Microsoft software, will not.

I already dislike telnetting in to Telnetting in to is just too annoying to deal with, particularly since we're a R*dh*t shop and have approximately a thousand copies of F*d*r* floating around.

So, go ahead, rename the Windows machines to the new really long names that can describe where they are. My machine isn't one of them any more; R*dh*t is an annoying piece of kludgery, but it's an Open Source®™© piece of kludgery and I won't need to rename it every 35 seconds to keep up with the auditing software that Microsoft uses.

Bonus Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite is helping me assemble the Glass PC. But there's always time to stop work and play a round or two of Samson in the Temple.

Such a sad case

Climate's Point of No Return is what the headline reads on the Science Magazine article. This is their polite way of saying "we're fucked even if we stop polluting today." How fucked? I don't know. But if you're used to seeing beautiful snowcapped mountains, it might be prudent to find a friend with a large-format camera and have them take a fistful of pictures of the mountains you're particularly fond of before they lose their pretty white frosting.

And you'd shouldn't rush out and buy waterfront property, either, unless you're really fond of watching your investments wash away.

The cheerful "expect a 4" rise in ocean levels by 2100 even if we stop polluting today" comment reminds me of the 20 year prediction for Mt. Kilimanjaro. And since one superpower is on record as saying that there's no such thing as global warming, the whole idea of "stop polluting today" is, um, not realistic.

And, no, it's not going to help if you hop in your SUV and crank up the air conditioning.

(link via Hellblazer, title from UB40)

I think the “Libertarian purity test” might possibly be a little starved for attention.

Out of 160 points, I scored a whopping 39. And according to the test results, my "libertarian credentials are obvious. Doubtlessly you will become more extreme as time goes on".

Oooo-kay. I'll just file this test score alongside my socialist party membership card, so my "libertarian credentials" can be be exposed to the harsh light of socialist reason.

(link via Arthur Silber. who scored, um, somewhat higher than I did.)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite is a little too large for the dollhouse bath, but you have to take a bath in the bathtub you've got, not the bathtub you want.

Mar 17, 2005

The neverending quest to make my computer quiet

I built my home PC to be as quiet as possible, and, more or less, succeeded. The one thing that wasn't as quiet as I wanted was the video card, which had a fan it it which, over the course of several months, developed a little WurrawurraWurrawurra noise.

This was not as quiet as I wanted, so I shopped around (over the course of about a year) for a new video card ("new" as in "one without a fan"; for the SGI 1600sw, there is only one choice, and that's the Number Nine Revolution IV -- an old slow video card from a vendor that doesn't exist anymore) and eventually snarfed one up on an online auction site. It arrived today, and I ripped out the old video card and put in the new one, and, yes, it was very quiet. Too quiet, as a matter of fact, because that WurrawurraWurrawurra noise was masking a noticable (not quite audible, but quite noticable) supersonic hum, which after half an hour feels rather like a pair of persistant gnomes are trying to wedge cotton candy into my ears.

Sigh. If I'm lucky the supersonic hum is coming off the new video card, and then I may be able to make it stfu by attaching a Big Hunk Of Copper to the video chip. Otherwise I may have to revert back to the old video card and replace the fan with a big honking passive heatsink.

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Evil Party morals (part n of many)


  1. "A few bad apples"
  2. "Okay, well, it's pretty horrible, but there's a war going on"
  3. "Oh, that's not really torture"
  4. "We need to amend the Constitution so we can torture people to death!"

Note that nowhere in there is the phrase "We're the fucking United States of America and we don't do that!" This is not an editing error; pious commentary that the United States doesn't torture people doesn't count when it's said by someone who has just finished signing the go ahead and torture people to death! orders.

Buyers Remorse.

Roxanne, of Rox Populi, reports that some of her Evil Party friends and relatives are starting to feel what they call "buyers remorse" over their endorsement of the pro-torture B*sh junta in the November 2004 elections.

Well, that's nice. But words are cheap; "I'm sorry" plus 25¢ won't even get you a copy of the local paper, and, as anyone who lives in a family with an alcoholic knows, you can get a million "I'm sorry"s, each one punctuating a case where the drunk fell off the wagon.

Should we drive them out of town with rocks in their shoes? No. So-called "tough love", as gratifying as it might be in the short term, won't stop the bad behavior until they've hit bottom, but before the Evil Party hits bottom, the United States will have ceased to exist and will have been replaced by a nasty set of fundamentalist dictatorships. But "I'm sorry" won't cut the mustard.

If you voted for the Coward in Chief, you need to actually show you're sorry by doing something. How about donating $2000 to the DNC, then resigning from the Evil Party? It's not much compared to the damage the B*sh junta is doing, but it's a start.

Some of you also need to do a few other things, like, oh, look at a calendar before you start making excuses. If I had a Republican "friend" who claimed that electing Dean as DNC head was what made him vote for Maximum Leader Genius, I would have laughed at him and called him a fucking idiot, instead of saying "tough shit". But then again, I don't have too many sock puppets as "friends."

No, pay your penance and then maybe you'll be saved. Deeds, not words, are what's required.

About the most worthless amendment to the US constitution.

Avedon Carol, as a postscript to one of her typical terrific long posts (this one about real libertarians vs. the fascists in libertarian skins), asks if people really think that the Second Amendment will be allowed to stand under the New American Fascism.

Of course it will. The Evil Party figured this out a long time ago; If you think that the GOP has been supporting the NRA's switchover from being a gun ownership association to being just another Evil Party vote generator because this is the one case where they actually give a fuck about the Bill of Rights, you've missed the point. The wingnut argument that gunz will protect us from the evil government!™ is nonsense, even if you discount the teeny detail that the wingnuts will make this statement and then go out and vote for the party that puts the evil in evil government.

The Branch Davidians had guns. They had lots of guns, all approved by the government. And they used them when Janet Reno came knock-knocking at their doors:

Well, that didn't work as planned. And, what's worse than that, nobody gave a damn that they were murdered by the US government.

MOVE had guns. But they were noisy neighbors, and they used their guns when the Philadelphia police came knock-knocking at their door:

Ooops. I'm sure their neighbors didn't mind having their houses burned down when the City of Philadelphia bombed the MOVE house, killing 11 people and burning down 61 rowhouses.

The second amendment doesn't matter. I realized this when the US government attacked the Branch Davidian compound and the first reaction I heard from conservative coworkers and conservatives on the net was "those kooks had it coming!" As long as the press is willing to paint anyone the government kills as irrational kooks, a large part of the population, including the self-proclaimed patriots who will use their gunz!™ to "protect" themselves against the evil government™, will happily go along with the program (and, once the pesky freedom of the press amendment is abolished, the US Government Propaganda Office will ensure that none of the inconvenient details will disturb the blissful ignorance of the masses.)

The Evil Party abolish the second amendment? Not a chance. The most worthless amendment of all only works to drive gun-toting sheep into the Evil Party sheepfold, and there's no way the Coward in Chief will be allowed to kill the sheep which can be sheared so profitably every election season.


Mar 16, 2005

Ooops, the Evil Party almost forgot to kill Amtrak

If you don't fund it, they won't come.

After all, who uses Amtrak the most? People from states that voted Democratic. Better kill it; every little bit helps when you're trying to wreck the economy of the United States!

Another 26 eggs broken into the omelette

The Pentagon is now admitting that the Army and Navy has tortured and murdered 26 prisoners. Mmmmmm, mmmmm, that's certainly one tasty little omelette you're making for us, Comrade B*sh!

The only problem is that I don't like that kind of omelette.

Laying another layer of tar on the highway to hell

The Evil Party has decided to add a little rider to the budget allowing well-connected Republicans to drill for oil in the ANWR. Wildlife, after all, is not as important as speeding up the looting of the treasury.

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Why people use Windows instead of Un*x, part n {n >> 1}

When I use the Microsoft remote desktop software for windows 2000 to connect to the Microsoft network at work, the windows machines have been behaving interestingly (with such featurettes as lsass.exe crashing, thus causing the whole machine to reboot in 60 seconds. So I decided to just use the Unix version of pptp to connect into work instead.

At least that was the plan. On Windows, setting up a pptp connection is [settings]->[network & dialup connections]->[make new connection]->[[x]connect through a private network]->[ip address you're connecting to].

On Unix, you need to build mpd or pptpclient, which isn't that hard (even though pptpclient, because it's Free Software®™©, doesn't come with anything frivolous like a manpage.) But that's the easy part; the hard part is configuring the stupid software so that it actually works. mpd has its very own configuration files, which, in the grand tradition of Un*x use their very own configuration format, which is like, but not enough like, any of the other configuration formats, and which demand you set a mind-dazzling collection of stupid options to connect to the outside world. pptpclient, on the other hand, uses ppp, which is, um, special in a way that many people already know. In neither of these cases is there a obvious way to have the wrapper pop up a login/password request box to get the stupid auth secrets from the caller, but, instead, you need to wade through a maze of goddamn twisty manpages (and, if you're running freebsd, the pointlessly obtuse "handbook") to have it do anything more elaborate than spit 40 or so messages at syslog, then quietly die.

On Windows, you open the connection, get a login dialog to enter name and password, and you're set (until the viruses come swarming up the line and convert your Windows box into a pile of smoking rubble.) I presume that MacOS X is much the same way, because the MacFanatics wouldn't put up with something so quaint as typing when they could point and click instead.

Admittedly, it would be easier if I had a machine running one of the commercial Linuxes at home, because all of the Free Software®™© out there is written for Linux, and then grudgingly ported to all the other "legacy" Un*ces. But it's still amazingly klunky and horrible, so I'm stuck with using the Windows gateway-to-viral-fun! virtual networking code because my head would explode if I had to spend a day (re)learning how they did systems configuration in 1976.

Mar 15, 2005

The snows mudflats of Kilimanjaro

«Then they began to climb and they were going to the East it seemed, and then it darkened and they were in a storm, the rain so thick it seemed like flying through a waterfall, and then they were out and Compie turned his head and grinned and pointed and there, ahead, all he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro.»

Ernest Hemingway

Mount Kilimanjaro was snowcapped for at least 11,000 years (In Swahili, the name means shining mountain), but, in the last 40 years, the glaciers on top of the mountain have started to retreat as global warming intensifies. Five Four years ago, scientists warned that the glaciers would be gone in 20 years. They were wrong -- the glaciers are gone now.

Enjoy the unseasonal warmth, and keep driving those SUVs. The road to hell may be long, but Satan's little helpers will be happy to pave it so it's a nice smooth ride.

(Guardian link via the Sideshow)

Mar 14, 2005

The state’s protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional

The San Francisco Superior Court has ruled that the California ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.


I fully expect the bigots in California will intensify their attempts to write hate into the California constitution, and they may actually succeed (another reason to flee the American Imperium for a free country), but constitutional rights should not be waived just because there are some bullies wandering around with sticks.

(link via Here's what's left)

Now this is a top-10 list I can support

Suitt challenged people to each find 10 bloggers who weren't male, white or English-speaking—and link to them.

I'm not even going to look for people who aren't english-speaking, because english is the only language I know, but...

  1. Mouse Words -- who also provided the link to this MSNBC article.
  2. Body and Soul.
  3. Echidne of the Snakes.
  4. The Sideshow.
  5. Feministe.
  6. Feministing.
  7. Bitch, Ph.D.
  8. Brutal Women.
  9. Susie Bright's Journal.
  10. Volsunga.

Halley Suitt has a somewhat more elaborate project than the list I made; she wants people to find 10 brand new weblogs, not just people who are already in your bookmarks, and she wants people to post a short introduction for each of them. That's quite a bit harder for me to do, since I tend to first pick up bookmarks in my waterwombat bookmarks file, and then if I still read them after a month or so, they get moved into my bookmarks file (part of this file is mirrored on tsfr.) This isn't the fastest way of picking up bookmarks, and certainly isn't well suited for counting coup on 10 new weblogs.

Tidier, yes, but more productive? No.

The Glass PC project creeps onwards; I've put another hour and a half into finishing the base and the top plate, and then regluing joints on the base after the frame popped apart after I miscut the center and tried to force it (oops!) The metal grille in the middle of the top came from SCRAP a long time ago (I grabbed it the first time we went there, and tucked it aside waiting for something interesting to use it on.)

The top of this case lifts off so I can get at the parts inside. The bottom of the case is just a sheet of plywood, which may have a few ventilation holes drilled in it. The ME6000 is fanless, but if the Factory Case is any indication, it will need to have a ventilation hole under the CPU.

This is what the project looked like before I put it aside to build a workbench.

Mar 13, 2005

The problem with living near a bunch of stratovolcanos…

... is that I end up taking a lot of pictures of those volcanos. This one was taken on Friday (11-March-2005) on the first avenue bridge over I-405 (just west of the Marquam Bridge.)

Mar 12, 2005

A70 swan song

Our primary digital camera died today -- after taking about 5000 pictures, the automatic lens-opening mechanism started acting flaky, and today it just ground to a stop half open, and when I tried cycling the power (by pulling the battery pack, replacing it, and pushing the power button), the lens unit made a little *crack* noise and stopped functioning. But, before the latest el-cheapo digital camera (I say "el cheapo" with a sort of hollow laugh, because it cost US$300 when we bought it two years ago) died today, I managed to get a couple of pictures of trolleys:

One of the Skoda cars on the new extension to the downtown trolley line

A Gresham-bound interurban passing an Interstate line trolley at the Old Town/Chinatown station as a westbound bus passes in the background.

Mar 11, 2005

Another picture of the new trolley line

A couple of cars passed each other just west of 1st St when I was walking down to Riverplace to take opening-day pictures of the new trolley line.

Old Trolley Line/New Trolley Line

Today, The City of Portland opened part of the latest extension to the downtown trolley line, so I walked down to the new line from work and took approximately a million pictures of new cars on the line. Part of the new line follows the old Red Electric ROW, so they've ripped out the old track and are putting new track in, but part of the route swings wide of the old track, so they've left about a block of track in place (severed at the north and south end by the trolley line, and currently used as a storage track for a ballasting machine.) I couldn't resist setting the A70 on the old line and taking a picture of one of the Astras as it helped open the new line.

The track ends abruptly in the middle of the street, and the construction crews are busily extending the line southwards.

The new extension joins the Red Electric ROW south of the old Willamette Shore Trolley Marquam Bridge station, so that station (such as it is) is still there for the time being.

I guess that if you’re going to run a police state, you might as well have some fun with it.

The security forces that killed Nicola Calipari were assigned to John "death squads -R- us" Negroponte.

Cute. I particularly like the quote that they were there because Negroponte was expected to come through (senior officials in the occupation council use helicoptors to avoid attacks.. But, conveniently, not this time.) I wonder if the Pentagon mouthpieces had to use a healthy dose of botox to keep from bursting into laughter when they reported this excuse of the day.

Stuffing children into deathcamps? Why, that’s the American Way™!

Those 11 year olds can be pretty tricky, so better stuff them into Abu Ghraib just in case. And when they turn 14, it's time for a round of rum, sodomy and the lash!

(link via Suburban Guerrilla)

Where will they live?

Avedon Carol is wondering where the B*sh junta and their masters are intending to live after they've converted the United States into a larger version of Venezuela. I suspect that they intend to continue to live (if, by live, you mean "keep a few mansions" along with their estates in England, their summer houses along the Cote d'Azur, and their hunting lodges in Africa) in the United States, well fortified in their gated communities and secure in the knowledge that there will be enough quislings around to support them.

Remember that the super-rich have already moved their factories and research facilities out of the United States; if the United States goes into a terminal decline, it just means more land for the landed gentry because all the things that stop them from having immense estates (land and inheritance taxes, land use laws, annoying inholders who won't sell and that you can't just shoot) will collapse along with the state.

I'm sure that some of the super-rich have already considered the problem of losing their rents if some of the big cities become vast slums, but it's not as if you can't make money leasing to poor people (and you can often make more money leasing to poor people, because they don't have the luxury of just telling you to fuck off when you jack up the rent; the new peonage laws that the Evil Party are putting into play will make certain that the little people won't have any choice but to pay and pay and pay.) And remember one of the important things that's motivating the Evil Party and their masters; it's not so much that you have more, it's that everyone else has less.

So the United States will end up being a bloodless zombie dancing to the orders of the Chinese. Guess who owns the factories in China?

«Cisco's CEO, John Chambers, declared recently: "What we're trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company."»
Dow Jones reported that a Cisco filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that Chambers' compensation including bonus remuneration was $1.9 million, covering the year ended July 31; that reflected improved profits and equity returns. Chambers also exercised two million options for $38.3 million in the last fiscal year, Dow Jones said.
In addition, Chambers held more than 30 million options valued recently at $203 million. The company's stock price, which rose above $70 a share five years ago, was trading this week for slightly over $18.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite wants to see what all the fuss is with Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Mar 10, 2005

New Code!

Postoffice has been pushed up to version 1.1.7a, which cleans up some annoying bugs, fixes a denial of service feature when disks get full and you're running with antivirus code turned on, and adds a couple of configuration features to resupport running on systems that don't have a properly functional flock() system call. Postoffice is mature enough now so there aren't that many new features I can think of adding to it, so this is just another bugfix release to push the code towards a happy reliable state.

But if there are any features people want, I'd be happy to listen (like, oh, disk space checking that works. But I've already fixed that...).

It may be funnier if you’re Canadian….

... but when the Coward in Chief does his zen master imitation and claims (quote from the Mount Doom website, so the link may become invalid without warning):

« Now, first, you know, I'm sure some folks think that the Social Security trust is actually a system where the government has taken your payroll taxes, kept it for you, and then is going to give it back to you. This is a pay-as-you-go system. There's no such thing as a trust.»

...people who live in the United States and who remember voting for representatives who bumped up our social security taxes so that they would pay for the trust fund that Maximum Leader Genius claims doesn't exist may not think it's quite so amusing. Terrifying, yes, but I guess if the plan is to wreck the US economy so thoroughly that the country will never recover, dancing around saying "We're gonig to default on our bonds! We're going to default on our bonds!" is certainly the way to go.

Imagine how much fun it would be if the banks decided to use the same logic. "Deposits? There are no deposits. This is a pay as you go system! And we've sold your mortgages to the local credit card companies, which will now be charging you 30% interest!"

I'd like to believe that I'm engaging in paranoiac hyperbole here, but this is the Evil Party and their masters we're talking about here.

(link from Canadian Cynic)

A snails-eye view of Mount Hood

To take this picture, I walked out into the Zigzag river, set the camera down on a rock just above the waterline, and clicked away until the battery low light came on. There is a lot more of Mount Hood on the other side of that ridgeline, but the intrepid snail isn't able to see it.

The top of the mountain is more visible when you're farther away, even if the picturetaking is punctuated by the *splat* of flying insects impacting the camera at 55mph.


Mar 09, 2005

Good for the Tillamook County Creamery Association!

They've told Monsanto to go fuck themselves by deciding to prohibit use of Monsanto's genetically engineered rBGH "supplement".

This means that I can eat Tillamook cheese again; it's not (yet) organic, but getting rid of the rBGH is one long step along the way.

And it's a little something extra that Monsanto spent US$5.5 million to defeat an Oregon truth-in-labelling measure in 2002 (under the assumption that only a socialist would be interesting in knowing if their food is full of pus and antibiotics. Well, this socialist was interested; interested enough that so that I switched, despite being unemployed at the time, completely to organic food as soon as the truth-in-labelling measure was defeated.) I wonder how much Monsanto spent on their lobbying campaign against the members of the TCCA? I hope it was a lot; perhaps the others will be suitably encouraged by this failure.

(link via firedoglake)

Dating dates and the liars who rule the United States

This is a picture of some US marines looking in a "spider hole" or, as some now claim, a well, in Central Iraq.

Look at the bunch of dates hanging from the date palm in the near background. See that they're a nice golden color? This isn't the color of ripe dates; they are a dark brown or black. When do dates ripen? The end of the year; November and December.

If these soldiers had just winkled the dictator of Iraq out of this "spider hole", that's a really late flowering date palm.

So, when someone claiming to be a marine reports that the B*sh junta captured Saddam Hussein after a firefight in a village and not after finding his little hidey-hole out in someone's back yard, well, you must remember that this is the Coward in Chief you're talking about; he and his minions lie about everything else, so why not make up a Jessica Lynch-style fairytale well in advance, and then just wait until they found the Great Satan™ and roll out this prepackaged story? It certainly would fit the B*sh junta's habit of making up elaborate stories which later turn out to be baldfaced lies.

(the post about the dates is from Riding Electra;
the firefight link via Suburban Guerrilla


I was talking to the best about how incoherent tsfr has been over the past week, what with jumping between railroad pictures, comments about the various projects I'm working on, comments about the bears, and the occasional scream of outrage against the Evil Party.

The supportive response?

"You're the left-wing James Lileks!"

All die. Oh the embarrassment.

Mar 08, 2005

Switchers on the mainline…

These switchers were running light north towards Brooklyn Yard at about 4pm today. I took this picture just south of the Bybee bridge, using the precision technique of yanking the camera out, powering it on, then reaching across the car and leaning on the shutter button until the A70 started making reassuring clicking noises. Even then all the pictures ended up being tilted sideways, so I had to drag out photoshop to get rid of the hurtling down the Madison Incline effect.

Peonage + Social Security Piratization; a marriage made in hell.

Max Sawicky has pointed out an extra feature of the new vassal slavery bill that had not occurred to me: Once the Evil Party has gutted social security and turned it into private accounts, any bankruptcy means that the rentiers will be able to attach all of your retirement money once you've been bankrupted by medical bills.

The silver lining to all this will be that once the debt collectors have repossessed your house and pulled your retirement money, you won't live very long, because living in a sleeping bag under a bridge will not help you recover from the illness that bankrupted you. No, no, no need to thank the Coward in Chief; Compassionate Conservatism™ is it's own reward.

It doesn't cost anything to heat!

Last Call

About the only thing separating the spiffy new vassal slavery law (the "bankruptcy" law that the Evil Party is in the middle of enacting, which has special provisions to make it so that rich people can simply wave their hands and have their debts forgiven while poor people will end up working for their creditors for the rest of their natural lives) from the black ages is that the law doesn't force children to pay off the family debts.

I'm sure that this will be coming soon; by pushing this bill, the Evil Party is stating, loudly and clearly, that the United States is about to suffer an economic collapse that will make the Great Depression seem mild, and that the only thing they intend to do about it is to establish a vassal state to ensure that their base remains fat and happy.

This is, after all, the sort of thing that an unelected junta does; if the country collapses into Haiti writ large, it won't really matter to the parasitic upper classes. After all, they've already moved all of their factories and R&D facilities to countries that haven't figured out that the collapse of the United States is simply forshadowing what will happen to them when their markets dry up.

That gentle ringing sound you hear? That's the last call for the get the fuck out of Dodge train; when the United States craters, it will pull the rest of the world into a depression, but it's going to be a lot worse in Imperial America that it will be anywhere else. If you can get out, get out now, because the coyote isn't going to be able to tread air that much longer.

1 comment

Mar 07, 2005

A good reason to build a workbench

This little box is going to hold a VIA ME6000, a quiet hard disk, and a wireless ethernet card. The parts of it have been sitting stacked in a box since I found the stained glass pieces at SCRAP in January.

I started working on this project soon after I found the stained glass, but put it on hold when I realized that there was no way I'd be able to successfully build it either on the basement floor or on the dining room table. But after building the workbench, I've now got a working surface that's not going to be preempted for dinner or trod on by thousands of tiny feet.

The rest of the plan for this box is to make a nice wooden top (a sheet of some pretty reddish wood -- not mahogany, but some other tropical wood -- I got in a box of scrapwood from The Joinery) that will have a pretty ventilation grating in the middle. The back panel of the box will be cluttered up with the backpanel of the computer (maybe; I've still to decide whether to push the motherboard forward and build a bunch of short adapter cables to connect the back panel of the motherboard to a low-profile backpanel at the back of the case, or to just use the ATX-format backpanel the way it is. I've got a couple of pieces of green glass that I will use to fill out the back panel, I just have to decide what ratio of back panel to green glass I want.

The Factory Case has the motherboard mounted to a wooden panel (and that wooden panel is the floor of the case), but it gets pretty hot (with a VIA EPIA5000, which is not the hottest modern processor out there) so I will need to vary the mounting a little bit. I may see if I can find some little high-end-audio-style metal spike feet, and use them as the feet for the case, or I may just drill holes in some marbles (provided I can find a way to drill the holes without converting the marbles into rapidly expanding clouds of sharp glass fragments) and screw them into the bottom of the case. The motherboard will probably stand up quite a bit from the bottom of the case to allow for airflow under the processor.

And, yes, in case you're wondering, I have more computer cases than I have uses for them. I'll probably start making SCRAPpy rackmount cases next, after I finish the threatened computer desk for the best.

Mar 06, 2005

Fun Windows 2000 featurette!

If you want a user who doesn't have superuser privileges to be able to use the palmpilot hotsync, you can't just have root install the palm software and then have the user use it. No, if you want the user to be able to run the hotsync (or even to have the palm desktop work), you need to give the user superuser privileges, run the install, and then take the privileges away.

As much as I'd love to blame this one on Microsoft, I can't. Microsoft does plug and pluy with USB perfectly happily when you're a mere user; I can attach cdroms and disks when I'm logged in as plain old me, and they'll work. No, I'll blame this on Palm, for assuming, even when everyone and their sister is running a version of NT, that the world is all Windows 95.

I wonder if their MacOS 10 implementation of hotsync is similarly braindead.

Railroad picture of the day

Evil Diesel and a J70 tramway engine, pulling a short freight train on the Russell's Room & Library railway. When photographed, the train was in the siding at Hall Station, waiting for a passenger train to pass.

Cleaning up the basement floor with recycled lumber

Up until today, all of the things I've built have been built on the basement floor, the dining room table, the front porch, and the driveway. This is not exactly the most sensible way of building things, not the least because it ends up with the floor being covered with bits and pieces of works in progress, most of which, due to them sitting on the floor, never actually get past the in progress stage.

I've already built a tiny workbench for the bears, so they can have a table to do their projects on (but, since I've been using the floor, they mainly ignore their table and do their projects on the floor, where people can step on them and twist their ankles), but not anything for myself. Around the time I was building the dollhouse for the bears, I completely ran out of room and decided it was time to build a workbench for myself.

Aside from the screws and bolts I used to attach this thing together, it's all made from recycled lumber. I used some of the 2x4s I salvaged from the ex-deck, and 2x4s and plywood from a couple of pallets I brought home from work (the 2x4s from the pallets are all warped, thus continuing my tradition of building crooked furniture.)

It took me about four hours to build this workbench (but about 10 days calendar time, due to mysterious time-eating gremlins.) And within about a hour of finishing it, a couple of the in progress projects have migrated up to the workbench and one of them is finally finished.

But now I need to build a second workbench, so I can have a frame to hold the close-to-level chunk of granite I bought at a rummage sale at one of the local stonecutters. But that will probably be waiting until I clear some of the things to do backlog.

Protecting the sanctity of marriage, my ass!

In Canada, they're moving towards same-sex marriage at a federal level, but in the Oregon, where the bigots have already made gayfolk officially second-class citizens, the local branch of the Evil Party is trying to enact supplemental legislation to

  1. ban civil unions (SB 799) and
  2. officially discriminate against gay people when considering adoptions (HB 2401)

Remember the line about civil unions should be enough? Well, no, not according to the Evil Party. As far as the Evil Party is concerned, the only good gay is a dead gay (unless he's working in the White House, or is otherwise high enough in the ranks of the Evil Party so it becomes just a little bit of Schutzstaffel fun and games), and if they can start their great crusade by doing a bit of traditional family values! flim-flammery, why, that's okay, because once you get people used to people being vanished and tortured, nobody will care anymore.

Protecting the sanctity of marriage, yeah, right. That and 25¢ won't even get you a copy of the local paper, or even a phone call when they pull you in on some trumped-up morals charge.

(tip of the hat to the Portland Mercury, for reporting about these evil bills.)



Today, we went to the haircutters to get haircuts for the bears. Since it's a haircutting place that specialises in haircuts for kids, they have the opiate of the masses there and turned on, usually with cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s.

As the bears get their hair cut, they can watch the cartoons. Usually they just sit there quietly, but today there was some cartoon starring a dairy cow, who was disguising herself as a butterfly and then flying around from flower to flower in an attempt to lure and waylay a butterfly collector who'd captured all the real butterflies. And after successfully doing that, the butterflies made a living crown, robe, and train for our heroine.

About this time, the best and the haircutters started laughing hysterically, then the best pulled out the camera and took a dozen or so pictures of Silas. I was holding him in my lap, so I couldn't see his expression, but I was assured that he looked very dumfounded:

Cows that type? Chickens on strike? WTF??!?

Normally, this sort of reality-altering experience requires those sorts of special mushrooms that the B*sh junta doesn't want anyone outside of the White House to use. But we can provide it for the cost of a haircut (offer not valid if you're older than two.)

Mar 05, 2005

ObRailroad picture of the day

... taken, at the south end of Brooklyn Yard, when we were returning from SCRAP with a car full of tile samples.

My recipe for doing dynamic dns on my local network

When I used the nuclear option to deal with wireless script kiddies last week, part of the total thermonuclear war was to move all of the machines onto a private network. Since I didn't want to go out and redo my dns for the new IP addresses, I decided I would try to implement dynamic dns and have all of the machines, from minor servers to all of the windows (and, sooner or later, Mac) workstations, tell the dhcp server what their names were. The, um, simple way of doing this was to use the already written code that the ISC gives away without any (as they mention at every possible opportunity) support, so that's the approach I took.

The documentation for how to do this sucks. I mean it really sucks. So here's how I did it.

  • The first thing is to upgrade the software to recent versions. I upped dhcpd to version 3.0.2 and named to 9.2.2. You need to build named with a really new version of openssl, so I upped openssl to version 0.9.7e, built that, then configureed named with --with-openssl=/usr/local/src/openssl-0.9.7e. I make installed everything, tweaked my system so that it would use the new and improved dhcp and named, and then went off to the races.
  • In the dhcpd.conf manpage, it mentions using dnssec-keygen to generate md5 keys. The description is somewhat sketchy (dnssec-keygen looks at /dev/random to get random junk, and on a not-too-busy system this means that dnssec-keygen takes forever to generate a 128 bit key. I didn't want to wait, so I used /kernel as a source of random input. dnssec-keygen produces a private and public key, which for a md5 key are exactly the same. Grab the key (in the .private file, it's nicely labelled as Key:) and then you can throw away the public key file.
  • dhcpd.conf is pretty simple. Sort of. Here's the one I use:
    ddns-update-style interim;
    # this has to be the same key as is used in named.conf
    key dns {
            algorithm HMAC-MD5.SIG-ALG.REG.INT;
            secret "Key: line goes here without the Key: part, of course";
    zone {
            key dns;
    zone {
            key dns;
    subnet netmask {
            get-lease-hostnames true;
            do-forward-updates true;
            default-lease-time 32000;
            max-lease-time 32000;
            option nis-domain "PELL-AT-HOME";
            option nis-servers;
            option routers;
            option time-servers;
            option domain-name "";
            option domain-name-servers,;
            allow unknown-clients;

    I don't know if you need anything else, but the important part is that you have to make your dhcp authoritative for it to even work (dunno why), you need to tell it ddns-update-style interim; -- apparently the style they use before dhcp 3.0.2 isn't even supported any more, and interim is their way of saying "yup, we're going to change it again. Lucky you!". And I have to set the zone information up to tell dhcpd to ask named to please make updates to the given zones. (the zone is what you'd expect, the zone is the ip address -> name zone that you need to have both the name->ip and ip->name dns mappings.)

    The allow unknown-clients line in the subnet section appears to be needed, but I'm not sure why.

  • named.conf (if you build bind9 from sources, this will be in /etc. If you build bind9 from (shudder) BSD ports, it may be in /etc/named or it may be in /usr/local/etc -- I've taken to avoiding ports because they've falled prey to "new version disease" and will thus happily fill your system with 37,000 versions of every software package that each port needs), is, on the other hand, not quite so simple:
    options {
            directory "/var/namedb";
    key dns {
            algorithm HMAC-MD5.SIG-ALG.REG.INT;
            secret "ey: line goes here without the Key: part, of course";
    logging {
                channel update_debug {
                     file "/var/log/named.log";
                     severity  debug 3;
                     print-category yes;
                     print-severity yes;
                     print-time     yes;
                category update { update_debug; };
    controls {
             inet port 953 allow {; } keys { dns; };
    zone "." {
            type slave;
            file "root.db";
            masters  {
    zone "" {
            type master;
            file "";
            allow-update { key dns; };
    zone "5.0.10.IN-ADDR.ARPA" {
            type master;
            file "10.0.5.rev";
            allow-update { key dns; };
    zone "0.0.127.IN-ADDR.ARPA" {
            type master;
            file "localhost.rev";
    zone "" {
            type master;
            file "localhost.rev";
    Notice, first of all, the key dns section is exactly the same as the one in ?dhcpd.conf. You need this. You also need the controls line to set up a command pipe that dhcpd and any script kiddy that breaks onto your machine can use to add and delete dns records. You also need to do the allow-update lines on the zones that you mentioned in the dhcpd.conf file, so that these zones will know that dhcpd will be around to mess with them. Note that you can't do allow-update on a slave zone; since is a real zone that serves real internet connected machines, I needed to hand-copy the zone over to downbelow and pretend to be a master.

    The logging is a complete waste of time. I put it in because the ISC documentation suggested it, but the only logging it puts in is "I'm adding an A record! I'm deleting an A record! I'm adding a RR! I'm deleting an RR! I'm erasing the root zone because I can!" without telling any details (like, oh, the name of the record) about the records it's adding or deleting.

  • Windows is happy as a clam with this. Windows machines know what their names are and cheerfully announce those names when they ask for IP addresses. Unix machines (particularly ones that run dhclient, which sucks) think that if they tell you their machine name it will cause civilization to vanish, so you have to tell dhclient to send a particular hostname. Did I mention that dhclient sucks? Well, it does; if you're on machine foo, you can't tell it to send host-name, you need to tell it to send host-name "foo", which is pretty stupid. And on some of my freebsd machines, I need to duplicate that line in the dhclient configuration file because it doesn't think I'm being serious when I only put it in once.

One other fun Unix thing is that if you give a machine a name that's already in the dns, dhcpd's tiny brain will pop and it not only won't try to override that machine name (a good idea), it won't even bother to tell you why (not such a good idea.) It's almost as fun as when dhcpd reports "no hostname" for a dhcp request, and then sends back the request mentioning the hostname that was supplied.

1 comment

Another three hours sacrificed to Mount Doom on Lake Washington

Last night, the Windows machine in the library decided, mysteriously, to reboot several times Aaaand to have the event service report that it was repairing a stack of broken system programs up until the point where the event log reported that the autorepair script was turned off.

So, I brought out the nuclear devices and decided to clean the network up for once and for all, since it looked like one of the local script kiddies had found Pete and was having a little fun driving me to the point of homicide. After

  1. flipping the whole network over to a private network (and setting up dhcp+named to do windows-style dynamic dns, which was not particularly fun because the ISC couldn't write legible documentation even if their lives depended on it), and
  2. putting what I'll call "wireless security" on the wireless network,
I loaded up windows and reinstalled everything.

Here's what I spent three hours doing

  1. booting the windows CD (at 9:55pm)
  2. formatting the system disk
  3. loading the boot software onto the system disk
  4. reboot
  5. accepting a license
  6. installing the rest of windows 2000 onto the system disk
  7. reboot
  8. clean up icons, hide IE and **tl**k
  9. accept the license for the wireless ethernet
  10. install the "windows installer" for the wireless ethernet
  11. reboot
  12. accept the license for the XML parser for the wireless ethernet
  13. install the XML parser for the wireless ethernet
  14. accept the license for DirectX 9 for the wireless ethernet
  15. install DirectX 9 for the wireless ethernet
  16. reboot
  17. accept the license for the wireless ethernet driver
  18. install the wireless ethernet driver
  19. configure the wireless ethernet for the new "secure" wireless network
  20. accept the license for updates to the wireless ethernet driver
  21. install the updates to the wireless ethernet driver
  22. accept the license for Norton Antivirus
  23. install Norton AV
  24. run Norton Liveupdate
  25. reboot
  26. run Norton Liveupdate again
  27. reboot
  28. run Norton Liveupdate again
  29. reboot
  30. run Norton Liveupdate one more time
  31. accept the license for Palm Desktop
  32. install Palm Desktop
  33. reboot
  34. install FrameMaker
  35. install, s l o w l y, the software for the HP 940 printer
  36. accept the license for the Nero cd burning software
  37. install the Nero cd burning software
  38. reboot
  39. install the software for our ancient Vivitar scanner
  40. reboot
  41. install Quicken
  42. reboot
  43. clean up the desktop
  44. accept the license for Phoenix firefox
  45. install firefox
  46. clean up the desktop
  47. install firefox extensions
  48. join the local domain
  49. reboot
  50. scan for hardware (to detect the audio hardware)
  51. install Irfanview and plugins
  52. install PuTTY
  53. install Foobar 2000
  54. install Nero burnrights
  55. reboot
  56. install achron
  57. install and accept the license for 9 additional microsoft fonts
  58. reboot (yes! The microsoft fonts require a reboot after they're installed)
  59. run windows update to pick up updates (but not any of their service packs)
  60. reboot
  61. and finally log in as a real user at 12:38

Yes, that's 15 reboots and 17 licenses. Windows may be prettier than MacOS and and of the Unix desktops, but jesus it's a pain to install. And after all this installation has gone on, firewombar doesn't seem to want to open multiple windows anymore, so I'll have to go back in and see what's going wrong there.

It probably won't require more than one full reinstall and 30 reboots.


Mar 04, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

L'acarides de la poussière est arrivé!

Mar 03, 2005

Terror Alert! Terror Alert!

I guess the Coward in Chief's ratings are dropping like a stone now, because, surprise!, Osama bin forgotten has been dragged out to wave in front of the TV audience.

Yeah, right.

I wonder if Osama has gotten bored with Crawford yet?

(link via Bottle of Blog)

Taking advantage of a clear day

It wasn't a completely clear day (it was quite hazy to the north and south), but Mt. Hood was right there and I took about a dozen pictures as the #19 bus crossed the Ross Island Bridge.

Riddle me this

So, if the subject is same-sex marriage, it's a mortal! insult! to civilization to treat gay people as, well, people, but if the subject is the unconstitutional display of religious propaganda on government property, people who disapprove should just avert their eyes?


You know, if the Supreme Court is planning on continuing to prostitute itself to the rich and powerful, you'd think they could at least pretend to do it with some dignity. This business of publicly hitching up their robes and taking a dump on the still-twitching corpse of the first amendment is like wearing facepaint and a rubber nose -- it may be appropriate somewhere, but not when you're pretending to be the ultimate authority on US law.

So, if you're going to burn a US flag, display a bottle of urine with a cross in it, or do something really unpatriotic like insist that torture is unamerican, just tell the Evil Party peanut gallery what Antonin Scalia recommends in cases like this: "turn your eyes away if it is such a big deal for you." Then give a honk! or two on your party horn, because that's what the Supreme Court would do.

(via the carpetbagger report)

Put simply, we must always remember that separate but equal is not equal.

Canada is moving, at a terrific pace, towards allowing same-sex marriage everywhere in the country. The Canadian Parliament is debating a bill to prohibit discriminating against same-sex marriage, and Paul Martin (the Canadian Prime Minister, who used to be against same-sex marriage) made this speech in favor of their Civil Marriage Act:

I rise today in support of Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. I rise in support of a Canada in which liberties are safeguarded, rights are protected and the people of this land are treated as equals under the law.

This is an important day. The attention of our nation is focused on this chamber, in which John Diefenbaker introduced the Bill of Rights, in which Pierre Trudeau fought to establish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our deliberations will be not merely about a piece of legislation or sections of legal text - more deeply, they will be about the kind of nation we are today, and the nation we want to be.

This bill protects minority rights. This bill affirms the Charter guarantee of religious freedom. It is that straightforward, Mr. Speaker, and it is that important.

And that is why I stand today before members here and before the people of this country to say: I believe in, and I will fight for, the Charter of Rights. I believe in, and I will fight for, a Canada that respects the foresight and vision of those who created and entrenched the Charter. I believe in, and I will fight for, a future in which generations of Canadians to come, Canadians born here and abroad, will have the opportunity to value the Charter as we do today - as an essential pillar of our democratic freedoms.

There have been a number of arguments put forward by those who do not support this bill. It's important and respectful to examine them and to assess them.

First, some have claimed that, once this bill becomes law, religious freedoms will be less than fully protected. This is demonstrably untrue. As it pertains to marriage, the government's legislation affirms the Charter guarantee: that religious officials are free to perform such ceremonies in accordance with the beliefs of their faith.

In this, we are guided by the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, which makes clear that in no church, no synagogue, no mosque, no temple - in no religious house will those who disagree with same-sex unions be compelled to perform them. Period. That is why this legislation is about civil marriage, not religious marriage.

Moreover -- and this is crucially important - the Supreme Court has declared unanimously, and I quote: "The guarantee of religious freedom in section 2(a) of the Charter is broad enough to protect religious officials from being compelled by the state to perform civil or religious same-sex marriages that are contrary to their religious beliefs."

The facts are plain: Religious leaders who preside over marriage ceremonies must and will be guided by what they believe. If they do not wish to celebrate marriages for same-sex couples, that is their right. The Supreme Court says so. And the Charter says so.

One final observation on this aspect of the issue: Religious leaders have strong views both for and against this legislation. They should express them. Certainly, many of us in this House, myself included, have a strong faith, and we value that faith and its influence on the decisions we make. But all of us have been elected to serve here as Parliamentarians. And as public legislators, we are responsible for serving all Canadians and protecting the rights of all Canadians.

We will be influenced by our faith but we also have an obligation to take the widest perspective -- to recognize that one of the great strengths of Canada is its respect for the rights of each and every individual, to understand that we must not shrink from the need to reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of Canadians in an evolving society.

The second argument ventured by opponents of the bill is that government ought to hold a national referendum on this issue. I reject this - not out of a disregard for the view of the people, but because it offends the very purpose of the Charter.

The Charter was enshrined to ensure that the rights of minorities are not subjected, are never subjected, to the will of the majority. The rights of Canadians who belong to a minority group must always be protected by virtue of their status as citizens, regardless of their numbers. These rights must never be left vulnerable to the impulses of the majority.

We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.

Third, some have counseled the government to extend to gays and lesbians the right to "civil union." This would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, the courts have clearly and consistently ruled that this option would offend the equality provisions of the Charter. For instance, the British Columbia Court of Appeal stated that, and I quote: "Marriage is the only road to true equality for same-sex couples. Any other form of recognition of same-sex relationships...falls short of true equality."

Put simply, we must always remember that "separate but equal" is not equal. What's more, those who call for the establishment of civil unions fail to understand that the Government of Canada does not have the constitutional jurisdiction to do so. Only the provinces have that. Only the provinces could define such a regime - and they could define it in 10 different ways, and some jurisdictions might not bother to define it at all. There would be uncertainty. There would be confusion. There would certainly not be equality.

Fourth, some are urging the government to respond to the decisions of the courts by getting out of the marriage business altogether. That would mean no more civil weddings for any couples.

It is worth noting that this idea was rejected by the major religions themselves when their representatives appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in 2003. Moreover, it would be an extreme and counterproductive response for the government to deny civil marriage to opposite-sex couples simply so it can keep it from same-sex couples. To do so would simply be to replace one form of discrimination with another.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, there are some who oppose this legislation who would have the government use the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights to override the courts and reinstate the traditional definition of marriage. And really, this is the fundamental issue here.

Understand that in seven provinces and one territory, the lawful union of two people of the same sex in civil marriage is already the law of the land. The debate here today is not about whether to change the definition of marriage - it's been changed. The debate comes down to whether we should override a right that is now in place. The debate comes down to the Charter, the protection of minority rights, and whether the federal government should invoke the notwithstanding clause.

I know that some think we should use the clause. For example, some religious leaders feel this way. I respect their candor in publicly recognizing that because same-sex marriage is already legal in most of the country, the only way - the only way - to again make civil marriage the exclusive domain of opposite-sex couples is to use the notwithstanding clause.

Ultimately Mr. Speaker, there is only one issue before this House in this debate. For most Canadians, in most parts of our country, same-sex marriage is already the law of the land. Thus, the issue is not whether rights are to be granted. The issue is whether rights that have been granted are to be taken away.

Some are frank and straightforward and say yes. Others have not been so candid. Despite being confronted with clear facts, despite being confronted with the unanimous opinion of 134 legal scholars, experts in their field, intimately familiar with the Constitution, some have chosen to not be forthright with Canadians. They have eschewed the honest approach in favour of the political approach. They have attempted to cajole the public into believing that we can return to the past with a simple snap of the fingers, that we can revert to traditional definition of marriage without consequence and without overriding the Charter. They're insincere. They're disingenuous. And they're wrong.

There is one question that demands an answer - a straight answer - from those who would seek to lead this nation and its people. It is a simple question: Will you use the notwithstanding clause to overturn the definition of civil marriage and deny to Canadians a right guaranteed under the Charter?

This question does not demand rhetoric. It demands clarity. There are only two legitimate answers - yes or no. Not the demagoguery we have heard, not the dodging, the flawed reasoning, the false options. Just yes or no.

Will you take away a right as guaranteed under the Charter? I, for one, will answer that question, Mr. Speaker. I will answer it clearly. I will say no.

The notwithstanding clause is part of the Charter of Rights. But there's a reason that no prime minister has ever used it. For a prime minister to use the powers of his office to explicitly deny rather than affirm a right enshrined under the Charter would serve as a signal to all minorities that no longer can they look to the nation's leader and to the nation's Constitution for protection, for security, for the guarantee of their freedoms. We would risk becoming a country in which the defence of rights is weighed, calculated and debated based on electoral or other considerations.

That would set us back decades as a nation. It would be wrong for the minorities of this country. It would be wrong for Canada.

The Charter is a living document, the heartbeat of our Constitution. It is also a proclamation. It declares that as Canadians, we live under a progressive and inclusive set of fundamental beliefs about the value of the individual. It declares that we all are lessened when any one of us is denied a fundamental right.

We cannot exalt the Charter as a fundamental aspect of our national character and then use the notwithstanding clause to reject the protections that it would extend. Our rights must be eternal, not subject to political whim.

To those who value the Charter yet oppose the protection of rights for same-sex couples, I ask you: If a prime minister and a national government are willing to take away the rights of one group, what is to say they will stop at that? If the Charter is not there today to protect the rights of one minority, then how can we as a nation of minorities ever hope, ever believe, ever trust that it will be there to protect us tomorrow?

My responsibility as Prime Minister, my duty to Canada and to Canadians, is to defend the Charter in its entirety. Not to pick and choose the rights that our laws shall protect and those that are to be ignored. Not to decree those who shall be equal and those who shall not. My duty is to protect the Charter, as some in this House will not.

Let us never forget that one of the reasons that Canada is such a vibrant nation, so diverse, so rich in the many cultures and races of the world, is that immigrants who come here - as was the case with the ancestors of many of us in this chamber - feel free and are free to practice their religion, follow their faith, live as they want to live. No homogenous system of beliefs is imposed on them.

When we as a nation protect minority rights, we are protecting our multicultural nature. We are reinforcing the Canada we value. We are saying, proudly and unflinchingly, that defending rights - not just those that happen to apply to us, not just that everyone approves of, but all fundamental rights - is at the very soul of what it means to be a Canadian.

This is a vital aspect of the values we hold dear and strive to pass on to others in the world who are embattled, who endure tyranny, whose freedoms are curtailed, whose rights are violated.

Why is the Charter so important, Mr. Speaker? We have only to look at our own history. Unfortunately, Canada's story is one in which not everyone's rights were protected under the law. We have not been free from discrimination, bias, unfairness. There have been blatant inequalities.

Remember that it was once thought perfectly acceptable to deny women "personhood" and the right to vote. There was a time, not that long ago, that if you wore a turban, you couldn't serve in the RCMP. The examples are many, but what's important now is that they are part of our past, not our present.

Over time, perspectives changed. We evolved, we grew, and our laws evolved and grew with us. That is as it should be. Our laws must reflect equality not as we understood it a century or even a decade ago, but as we understand it today.

For gays and lesbians, evolving social attitudes have, over the years, prompted a number of important changes in the law. Recall that, until the late 1960s, the state believed it had the right to peek into our bedrooms. Until 1977, homosexuality was still sufficient grounds for deportation. Until 1992, gay people were prohibited from serving in the military. In many parts of the country, gays and lesbians could not designate their partners as beneficiaries under employee medical and dental benefits, insurance policies or private pensions. Until very recently, people were being fired merely for being gay.

Today, we rightly see discrimination based on sexual orientation as arbitrary, inappropriate and unfair. Looking back, we can hardly believe that such rights were ever a matter for debate. It is my hope that we will ultimately see the current debate in a similar light; realizing that nothing has been lost or sacrificed by the majority in extending full rights to the minority.

Without our relentless, inviolable commitment to equality and minority rights, Canada would not be at the forefront in accepting newcomers from all over the world, in making a virtue of our multicultural nature - the complexity of ethnicities and beliefs that make up Canada, that make us proud that we are where our world is going, not where it's been.

Four years ago, I stood in this House and voted to support the traditional definition of marriage. Many of us did. My misgivings about extending the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples were a function of my faith, my perspective on the world around us.

But much has changed since that day. We've heard from courts across the country, including the Supreme Court. We've come to the realization that instituting civil unions - adopting a "separate but equal" approach - would violate the equality provisions of the Charter. We've confirmed that extending the right of civil marriage to gays and lesbians will not in any way infringe on religious freedoms.

And so where does that leave us? It leaves us staring in the face of the Charter of Rights with but a single decision to make: Do we abide by the Charter and protect minority rights, or do we not?

To those who would oppose this bill, I urge you to consider that the core of the issue before us today is whether the rights of all Canadians are to be respected. I believe they must be. Justice demands it. Fairness demands it. The Canada we love demands it.

Mr. Speaker: In the 1960s, the government of Lester Pearson faced opposition as it moved to entrench official bilingualism. But it persevered, and it won the day. Its members believed it was the right thing to do, and it was. In the 1980s, the government of Pierre Trudeau faced opposition as it attempted to repatriate the Constitution and enshrine a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But it persevered, and it won the day. Its members believed it was the right thing to do, and it was.

There are times, Mr. Speaker, when we as Parliamentarians can feel the gaze of history upon us. They felt it in the days of Pearson. They felt it in the days of Trudeau. And we, the 308 men and women elected to represent one of the most inclusive, just and respectful countries on the face of this earth, feel it today.

There are few nations whose citizens cannot look to Canada and see their own reflection. For generations, men and women and families from the four corners of the globe have made the decision to chose Canada to be their home. Many have come here seeking freedom -- of thought, religion and belief. Seeking the freedom simply to be.

The people of Canada have worked hard to build a country that opens its doors to include all, regardless of their differences; a country that respects all, regardless of their differences; a country that demands equality for all, regardless of their differences.

If we do not step forward, then we step back. If we do not protect a right, then we deny it. Mr. Speaker, together as a nation, together as Canadians: Let us step forward.

(transcript via The Story So Far...)

The siren song of Windows service packs

After reinstalling Windows 2000 on the computer in the library, it's been crashing approximately once every 4 hours (as opposed to the old installation, which didn't crash ever until a reboot-me-now virus got past the we're not going to update because we don't want to! Norton installation.) So, once again, I did something that keeps biting me; I installed one of the Microsoft Service Packs to bring this copy of Windows up to current microsoft patch levels.

Need I mention that I use Unix boxes to run the windows domain that all of these pcs run in? Need I mention that Microsoft wants to kill off the Unixes? After waking up this morning to find a dead (again) PC, I took about 50 minutes to install service packs, rebooted, and was left with a PC that people couldn't log into anymore. Ooookay, that's a hour of my life that's been completely wasted, and it's another reason to go out and buy a teeny tiny powermac and a SGI multlink adapter (or an Apple 20" studio display), even if that means that I'll be stuck with the incredibly sucky MacOS user interface. The Mac, you see, runs Un*x, and that means that it uses samba to do windows networking, and samba, unlike Microsoft Windows, doesn't need to be incompatable with the samba server I use to run the windows domain.

1 comment

Mar 01, 2005

Naming and blaming PCs

After going through the much longer than I thought, even after accounting for how evil Windows installs can be, PC reinstallation for the PC in the library, the best and I decided (after the sixth or so reboot) that we'd name the machine Pete, after the irregular flamingo in the boot For Pete's Sake! (written by Ellen Stoll Walsh, ISBN 0-439-08327-3.) After renaming it, we decided that it would only be proper to make up an appropriate background image:

I [heart] photoshop. After scanning the picture in, I realized that I had not gotten around to reinstalling the Gimp, so I didn't have anything to process it with on that machine. So I copied it over to my workstation, and fired up photoshop to do the deed. Photoshop has a magic wand tool, which selects along edges, so the process of cutting out the image from the background became the horrible difficult [open]->[magic wand x2] -> [save as]. It took me longer to go back in with Irfanview and hand-select a transparent color than it did for me to trim the picture (I'm sure I could have done this last step with photoshop, but I don't know how to do that yet, and it would take me longer to look through the manual than it takes to fire up irfanview, which gives you some idea of just how difficult this task was.)

Up to no good

They're cute. Too cute. I suspect that some mischief is afoot.

A good reason to not share your news spool with any other files

On my transit server, I serve webpages, accept mail, have a ftp server, and pass usenet news from various internal servers out to the people I exchange news with. Most of these services are fairly well behaved, but usenet is, as befitting a cesspool, capable of surprises.

This morning, around 1am, the copy of Postoffice that I run on gehenna started to shout bitterly about finding viruses everywhere. And the viruses were actually virus library unpack errors. After making a couple of passes at reloading the virus definitions (in case they were corrupt, which they weren't) I checked this disk space, and discovered, to my intense dismay, that gehenna's spool disk had a whopping 7mb free on a 10gb disk (which usually has 4gb free, even after including the news spool.)

Think this might have something to do with the virus scanner complaining bitterly about there not being enough room to run the virus scanner?

And, look, there is a new newsgroup -- alt.mag.playboy -- with lots of nice fat articles in it, to the tune of 5gb! worth of what I suspect are miracles of photoshop and airbrushing. And, even more importantly, it's 5gb worth of buffer area that means that mail won't work.

It's possible that there is some sort of mail message to root about space being low, but FreeBSD has the decidedly unfriendly behavior of sending lots of mail out to root about various trivial things (the ones I particularly like are the mail messages that are sent out from innd, to the order of "I'm not running now!" "I'm running now!" every time an expire is run.

But, I suspect that what I'll do is the old fashioned method of putting up a firewall; I'll just bung another disk onto the barbie and move the news spool over to it, and if it ever fills up I'll just do the Unix equivalent of FORMAT NEWS: and let innd refill it from scratch.

But in the short term, it's time to add disk space checks into Postoffice, so it won't accept mail unless there's a reasonable amount of disk space for it to store the silly things. And it's time to tell innd to not accept any article larger than 50k, just to make the denial of service attacks that much more difficult.


Silas and his eyePod