Category Archives: Misc

Miscellaneous ramblings of yet another open source geek.

D’oh!

It’s not a good sign that no one in the audience noticed that the site’s been down for about two or three months. I’m not really sure because I missed the fact that the database for the site was on my old, about-to-be-retired database server. Thankfully it was an easy probable to solve.

iPad first impressions.

Well, my iPad showed up and I’m trying to touch type on it. I guess that I can say that so far I like it and I see a lot of potential for it. At the same time it works quite well with a keyboard. I think that for developers of the device a keyboard is going to be required kit.

Samsung 2333HD Dubious Easter Egg

I purchased a Samsung 2333HD Monitor to supplement/replace my 6 year old Samsung 213T. Until 30 minutes ago I would have classified this experience as disappointing. That is until I found the HDMI Easter Egg that Samsumg hid in the monitor’s firmware.

My problem is that I want to be able to use both my MacBook Pro and my Mac Mini with this monitor. And I want a full digital signal path from either computer. On the 213T that meant switching cables or sucking it up and using one computer with an Analog VGA input. The Advantage that the 2333HD has is that it takes HDMI Digital inputs. I got an HDMI  -> DVI cable and ran it to the monitor and I was surprised to see the poorest display that I’ve seen in a while. Luckily I ran across a review on the internet of the monitor that mentioned that it will change how it handles an HDMI input signal if you label it as coming from a PC. A couple of menu settings later and I’m looking at a reasonable display.

It’s nice that they set things up this way. It would have been nicer if they had documented it in the manual.

Windows… Ugh

My hat’s off today to the guy who packaged Windows Patch KB951847. An update to the .net Framework. There’s three hours of my life that I won’t get back. Just as a general rule I want to know how to turn Windows Update off completely. The Mac OS X’s update is smart. It pops up sometime during the day and says that there are updates. Then it give me the option of downloading them. It lives under the Apple Menu so it’s always easy to find. About 90% of the time I say not right now and then do the update manually within a day or two. On the other hand: windows update complains loudly if I try to make it emulate the same behaviour. It’s constantly putting up a little red shield in the system tray and then putting up a balloon to say “You turned me off, what are you crazy”. It seems reasonably obvious that Windows does not know it’s place in my computing world and more so, doesn’t understand why it got put there in the first place. On my Machine Windows is a VM under Parallels. I’ll start it once every six months or so when openning a Word doc or excel spreadsheet and I’m trying to work around a bug in OpenOffice.org or I just don’t feel like using iWork. That’s pretty much him. I’ll run Windows Update when something breaks but since Windows is a distance also-ran on my computer that won’t be frequent. As to why it got there.Window’s behaviour in the first place is the issue. Insistant system tray applications constantly stealing my screen real estate. Update that were written by crettins who thought to try and save me time by not sending a complete package and an attitude towards system failures that would have stranded Jim Lovell on the Dark Side of the Moon are pretty much all it took to convince me to buy a Mac.

Should I use SPF?

Should I use SPF? What is SPF? Will SPF reduce the amount of spam that I get to my domain? There’s a lot of talk about SPF as a means of preventing spam these days and though it was originally designed to do that I’d have to put it down as a miserable failure at spam prevention. Does that mean that you shouldn’t use it? The juries still out on that one.

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. It’s a means of specifying where mail from a specific domain will come from. The implementation is an ugly kludge that overloads DNS TXT records. Through the overloaded records a remote server which is receiving a mail that claims to be from your domain can determine if it is real or a forgery… …maybe. It turns out that mailing lists that forward mail without rewriting the envelope headers as well as older mailers like mutt which still have a bounce forwarding feature will most likely false positive (e.g. receive an SPF fail).

SPF probably won’t reduce the amount of spam you receive. In fact don’t be surprised if you start to receive or are currently receive quite a bit of spam that passes the SPF tests. Many of the “more reputable” spammers, the ones sending spam using real mailservers and not hijacked windows machines on a botnet, use SPF to fool your spam filter into thinking that a piece of spam is a legitimate mail.

Should you use SPF? That depends on what you want. If you want a spam free inbox then look elsewhere. Under no circumstances should you ever assume that a piece of mail that is marked SPF fail is spam. In fact you are better off ignoring it when you test to determine the level of spammyness of your inbound mail stream. SPF does have one big positive and this is big enough that I recommend that people use it if they can.

It turns out that if you do enable SPF on your domain then spammers will no longer be able to forge messages from you as spam. To the postmaster of the domain this means that a large chunk of the those bounce messages from tens of thousands of people who don’t exist don’t get sent to you. You know what I mean the mail from postmaster@yahoo.com that says that mail from johnbigbooty@example.com to drlizardo1287341@yahoo.com failed because there is no drlizardo128341. If you enable SPF the smarter spammers will not put your domain into the from field of an outgoing spam since then people can tell it’s a forgery.

Hylafax: Ugh

I tried to setup hylafax today. I had it going a few years ago. I even had a neat hack where I would have it take all inbound faxes, convert them into pdf and store them in directory accessible from the web. It was pretty cool. I figured I’d re-create that and maybe add some Python-Fu to have an outbound directory but alas it wasn’t meant to be. I ran around in circles for three hours trying to eliminate the problems but got no-where until I installed efax and right off the bat the fax just worked. That eliminated the problems of (The modem broke between last time and now, the modem doesn’t like the VoIP line, and my new HP A-I-O doesn’t like the fax modem) leaving Hylafax is misconfigured. Here we go again, another mailing list……

Beer run

Got a beer making session in today. There was really no excuse for not doing this earlier. I’ve had all the ingredients in the house for the better part of a year. The yeast was dated Feb 2006 so I’m not sure quite what to expect here. I started the yeast on Thursday morning and it looked ready to go on Saturday morning so I put it into a starter culture. It never really took off but it was producing enough bubble to tell me that it was alive. The boil was okay but I overestimated the amount of water that I needed to boil and didn’t realize that I had until after I sparged the grain. I was still over when it was time to add the malt extract and start the boil. I tried to save as much as possible in a pot but I think I lost a little of the malt. The boil bubbled over twice making a mess on the stove but that wasn’t so bad. The biggest mistake as that the clamp on the wort chiller loosened up a little and so the wort chiller was adding tap water to my beer water. I like to boil all the water going into the beer. The original gravity was between 1.059 and 1.061 and the recipe called for it to be 1.061 ~ 1.064 so I think I’m okay. Well see when it starts to bubble in the primary. I hope to transfer it from the primary to the secondary next Friday night.

Followup

I remeasured the O.G. at 1.062. I’m pretty psyched. The yeast has started working. I’m getting about one bubble in the airlock every 10 seconds.

It’s been a few weeks so the beer should be pretty aged out by now. I should transfer it to the keg and get it on tap in a day or so.

Introductions

Welcome to the ~chris. Now is probably a good time for me to admit that doing this with wordpress would have been the right way to do this at the beginning. I’m a software engineer who works with open source systems. This journal is a place for me to write about some of the things that I’ve been doing with open source. My goal is to get to a level of detail that allows you, the reader, to be able to take on the same projects.

I’m old school as far as open source is concerned. I don’t mind using the source code and would rather not play with binaries. This probably comes from the fact that I’m a developer first and a sysadmin second so I’m comfortable with C/C++, make, etc. That preference leads me to use FreeBSD on i386 and NetBSD on sparc/sparc64 as my operating systems of choice. In most cases the descriptions here should be okay even if you prefer Linux but you may have to get your hands dirty on the occasional source rpm.