WordPress 3.0 upgrade complete. Apparently my hand-crafted theme still works, although I’m going to experiment a little with some of the new themes and maybe drop it…
We’ve been having summer temperatures in May, and my drive temperatures were edging up, so I shutdown the server, blowed all of the dust out, and powered it up again:
The discontinuity in the graph shows a nice 4-5 degree temperature drop, just by removing dust from the fans, case openings, and the surfaces of the drives themselves. Cool! I guess I have to do the same thing to the backup server now…
I have about 10 pages of links waiting to be dealt with (including blogging here). I spent most of January dealing with priority interrupts instead of anything on my TODO list. March is our fiscal year-end, so we’re scrambling to get stuff done before Wednesday.
That’s why it’s so quiet around here lately :)
I’d already concluded that desktop Linux sucks, but I’m now giving up on my PVR too, because Linux hardware support sucks too. I guess the old guard device driver hackers have moved on…
I spent too much of a day (Sunday) trying to get a supported 802.11n adapter working; after much research on the various things that don’t actually fall into the definition of “supported”, I settled on a configuration that should have worked (and did work, if I turned security off). the last problem was, of all things, that the driver didn’t handle spaces in my WPA passphrase.
At least the driver had its own way of configuring security, because I couldn’t get wpa-supplicant to work at all no matter which way I configured it!
On Tuesday night the same machine dropped off the net for no diagnosable reason, after I unplugged the UPS (I wanted to test that the alarm was silenced, since this PVR is now in the bedroom). Nothing would fix it; not config changes or even a power-cycle. Then suddenly it started connecting again while I was looking for hints on the Internet.
Last fall I upgraded two machines, and Samba authentication stopped working. When these machines reboot, some services don’t start (again, for no diagnosable reason). When I upgraded the laptop, my extremely common graphics stopped working due to a known, but still unfixed driver bug. And on and on.
I give up. I will still run my Linux servers (although if samba stays broken I’m going to be increasingly frustrated), but I’m going to check out GBPVR, an open source PVR that runs on Windows. If it works for me, then the Linux PVR is going to be history. For now I’m using the HD-PVR from Rogers; while it has one of the crappiest UIs I’ve encountered, and Rogers has disabled the “only record new episodes” function, at least it works….
Why the networks have lost the copyright battle, in a nutshell.
Tim Bray wants to watch episodic TV without commercials, and on his own schedule. He’s willing to pay, but being in Canada, nobody is willing (or able) to sell to him. The best way to obtain TV shows this way is, unfortunately, BitTorrent.
In both Canada and the United States, the networks are hurting financially. This market may not be huge, but it is untapped and easy to cater to. Other companies are making a respectable living catering to niche markets (cough-Apple-cough :), and this would be relatively high-margin added revenue.
I don’t think the networks are going to figure this out, of course…
(No, not retinal scans :)
After upgrading the home server today, I was looking through the logs, and noticed several simultaneous username/password guessing scripts probing the machine, connecting via SSH. Fortunately the machine that actually serves incoming SSH connections is a virtual machine, locked down with few packages installed and (relatively) good passwords. I still feel dirty, though.
I’m going to have to install a good portknocking package, I think. In the meantime, I’ve locked down the home server to only accept incoming SSH from a small number of machines. I should have done this long ago (both persephone and penelope already have this), but custom firewall rules with DD-WRT are hard, and so I punted.
This also means I’m probably going to have to replace my crappy Linksys running DD-WRT with a full-blown Linux box so that I can create a proper firewall. I really wonder sometimes if this whole “Internet” thing is worth the trouble.
Back in June I mentioned that I had a 4-month contract at UHN. Four months was up just over a week ago. My bosses decided to offer me a permanent position instead of extending my contract! So, I have a full-time job again! Woohoo!
The CRTC recently announced regulations around traffic shaping. The way I (and many others) read the announcement, this is a significant restriction imposed on the carriers by the CRTC; they must give customers 30-60 days notice, they must actually prove that traffic shaping is the only option available, and they cannot slow traffic so much that they are effectively blocking the service (which is what Rogers used to do with BitTorrent, although I haven’t checked lately to see if that’s changed).
Anyway, while it’s not the net-neutrality that some people wanted, I think this is actually a victory for consumers. As Michael Geist puts it :
The CRTC’s net neutrality (aka traffic management) decision is out and though it does not go as far as some advocates might hope, it unquestionably advances the ball forward on several important fronts. When considering the decision, it is important to remember that 12 months ago, there was virtually no ISP disclosure of traffic management practices and even an unwillingness to acknowledge that there was an issue. Today’s CRTC decision signifies that traffic management is not a free-for-all and the days of ISPs arguing that they can do whatever they please on their networks is over.
So, the headline in the Globe and Mail today reads:
Now I would never accuse a newspaper of being biased (cough, cough), but if you follow the Globe and Mail’s ownership chain upwards, this headline is … disturbing … :)
I saw a story recently about a musician who took out an ad in a magazine to sell CDs, and ended up only receiving four orders. I don’t want to quote the whole thing, so the original is worth reading (and if only one percent of those people…).
In particular, the punch-line struck me as interesting in the context of SPAM and 419 scams and similar issues:
He forgot there was a number lower than one percent.
Why do SPAM and email scams work? because there is a number lower than one percent, and because sending millions of e-mails is virtually free. Taking my recent “work on a cruise ship” scam e-mail, we have to remember that if only 100 people are sucked in, that’s still $32,000 revenue for the scammer…
I just received unsolicited email offering jobs on a cruise ship; all I have to do is send a bunch of personal data and $320 for processing. They say all unplaced applicants will have their money refunded… Do you believe them?
So it appears that during rush hour google traffic isn’t any better than the service that comes with my Garmin GPS, which is to say it’s usually out of date. However, google reports traffic for more places than the GPS, and they report on weekends. I’ll have to keep checking both for now.
Google Maps has traffic data for Toronto! woohoo! It even appears in the map display on the iPhone!
Now I can see if it is any more accurate, or updates more often, than my (redacted) Garmin GPS unit…
I’ve suspected this was true all along:
Advertisers donâ€™t believe itâ€™s worth advertising to smart people, because smart people donâ€™t pay attention to brand. Smart people make an actual choice, they canâ€™t be tricked or convinced. They research. So we canâ€™t sell ads to a network for smart people.
from Leo Laporte on Advertising to Smart People | Smarterware, via Twitter.
Fall TV, Thursday edition:
|8:00||The Vampire Diaries|
Supernatural and Fringe are both also on Space, which is handy because they rebroadcast in the wee hours of the morning. So the real conflict is 8pm, and I don’t really need to see Vampire Diaries, now do I?
Speaking of Space, they’ll be showing Stargate:Universe this season, instead of delaying 2 seasons like the previous Stargates. Yay!
Debugging problems with an executive’s RSA token:
(via The Daily WTF)
Quotation of the Day for September 17, 2009
“Managers may truly believe that, without their unremitting efforts, all work would quickly grind to a halt. That is not my impression. While I encountered some cynics and plenty of people who had learned to budget their energy, I never met an actual slacker or, for that matter, a drug addict or thief. On the contrary, I was amazed and sometimes saddened by the pride people took in jobs that rewarded them so meagerly, either in wages or in recognition. Often, in fact, these people experienced management as an obstacle to getting the job done as it should be done. Waitresses chafed at managers’ stinginess toward the customers; housecleaners resented the time constraints that sometimes made them cut corners; retail workers wanted the floor to be beautiful, not cluttered with excess stock as management required. Left to themselves, they devised systems of cooperation and work sharing; when there was a crisis, they rose to it. In fact, it was often hard to see what the function of management was, other than to exact obeisance.”
- Barbara Ehrenreich, in Nickel and Dimed.
Submitted by: Chris Doherty
Aug. 25, 2009
(via the Quotation of the Day mailing list).
An “elite hacker” appears on the CodeSmith online community, asking for free activation keys. Check out the keys the community gives him to try…
With the backing of the government, farmers are producing more calories â€” some 500 more per person per day since the 1970s â€” but too many are unhealthy calories. Given that, it’s no surprise we’re so fat; it simply costs too much to be thin.
Given this accurate risk analysis, any rational employee will regularly circumvent security to get his or her job done. That’s what the company rewards, and that’s what the company actually wants.
The more secure you make something, the less secure it becomes. Why? Because when security gets in the way, sensible, well-meaning, dedicated people develop hacks and workarounds that defeat the security. Hence the prevalence of doors propped open by bricks and wastebaskets, of passwords pasted on the fronts of monitors or hidden under the keyboard or in the drawer, of home keys hidden under the mat or above the doorframe or under fake rocks that can be purchased for this purpose.