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vsergu (505)

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Journal of vsergu (505)

Wednesday April 06, 2005
02:22 PM

Space, the final frontier

The next step in $WORK's continuing quest for cheap semireliable storage is complete. Yesterday FedEx delivered two Buffalo TeraStation 1 TB NAS devices. They're cute, with red, blue, and green blinkenlights. Easy to set up through a web interface. I've configured them as RAID 5, so that's 750 GB each. So far, so good.

Unfortunately they don't seem to be very hackable. They run Samba and an NTP client and FTP (if requested) and the web interface and not much else. No ssh, telnet, rsync, apparently. There's Linux in there, but it's not accessible. No ports on the box other than USB and a serial port for attaching a UPS monitoring cable. Of course, minimality is part of the point.

Wednesday March 30, 2005
09:26 PM

Dragged into CPAN

Yes, it's ridiculous that I've been programming in Perl for 10 years and have never released a module on CPAN. I got a PAUSE ID a couple of years ago with the full intention of uploading modules, but I never got around to putting anything into CPANable form. It seems that as time goes by the expectations for tests, documentation, and so forth have increased, and the amount of effort required to bridge the gap between usable module and releasable module has gone up. Okay, I'm an easily intimidated lazy procrastinator.

Anyway, I was playing around with the Text::Brew module and found a bug, which I duly reported on and uploaded a patch for. In return the author invited me to take over as the maintainer for the module. I figured I might as well jump in, even though I'm not thrilled with the API or name of this particular module.

Anyone have any words of wisdom?

Update: I successfully patched the module and even improved its kwalitee a bit. Now I just have to get some of my own modules into shape.

Thursday March 17, 2005
10:34 AM


For those who missed the excitement on 8 Sep 2001 when Unix time reached 10 digits, you can catch another interesting number about 10.5 hours from now, at on 20:58:31 US east coast -- just in time for your St Patrick's Day celebration. If you miss it, you may have to wait until 13 Feb 2009 for similar thrills.
Wednesday August 04, 2004
06:48 PM

Delay terminology: Reflections on Metro signs

If a train runs every 10 minutes, what does it mean to say that there's a 10-minute delay all day? It presumably doesn't mean that all trains are delayed by 10 minutes, since then you'd simply be taking a different train at the same time and not notice or care. Perhaps it means that the inter-train interval has increased to 20 minutes, but is that really a 10-minute delay? Or maybe the average wait has increased by 10 minutes, so the inter-train interval is now 30 minutes. I don't think that works either.

We'll ignore for now the question of how there can be a delay on only part of a line.

06:19 PM

Unexpected TPR

I came home from work to find TPR 1.0 waiting in my (physical) mailbox. Not sure what I did to deserve it, but it's welcome.
Sunday April 04, 2004
11:16 PM

Do I need help?

I just saw "Hellboy" and my main gripe is that they misspelled "De Vermis Mysteriis" in the citation for the opening quote. For some unknown reason, someone stuck an "s" at the end of the "De". Perhaps they needed a fact checker.
Wednesday March 17, 2004
07:47 PM

SSL yikes

Saw this mentioned in Risks Digest: "SSL's Credibility as Phishing Defense Is Tested". SSL includes a "plain text" encoding method (not encrypted), which doesn't require a certificate and so doesn't require any certification authority to vouch for the identity of the certificate holder. It seems to me that browsers shouldn't support that encoding method, but then it seems crazy that such a method is part of SSL in the first place. Isn't the whole point of SSL to be secure?
Wednesday March 10, 2004
12:13 AM


My latest bank statement included an ad that starts like this:

Do you know where your time goes? For instance, in an average lifetime we spend...

  • 6 months just sitting at traffic lights
  • 8 months opening junk mail
  • 12 months looking for lost possessions
  • 5 years just waiting in line

Assuming an average lifespan of 72 years, that means that during an average day (including childhood and old age), a person would have to spend

  • 10 minutes sitting at traffic lights
  • 13 minutes opening junk mail
  • 20 minutes looking for lost possessions
  • 100 minutes waiting in line

Now, the first might be believable, depending on where the person lives, but the second and third are clearly too high, and the last is completely insane. Do ad copywriters not have calculators, or do they lead lives very different from ours?

Tuesday March 02, 2004
03:46 PM

Seuss "tribute"

What possesses people to think they can write Seussian poems to celebrate Theodor Seuss Geisel's centennial? On Rembrandt's birthday, do they pull the easel out of the closet and try to paint in his style? On Bach's, do they dash off cantatas? I haven't even read through the whole thing, but I know it's horrible. These things always are. They can never keep to a meter, and this one doesn't even rhyme for some lines.

I guess if it's for KidsPost any old crap will do to fill the space.

Thursday January 29, 2004
12:26 PM

Sorely tempted

In addition to the virus-scanner bounces, now we have to deal with challenge-response spam triggered by the virus. This just came to a catchall mailbox that I check (addresses munged to protect innocent and guilty alike):

From: [name] <[user]>
To: andrew@[one of my domains]
Subject: Re: Hi [Authorize]


You just sent an email to my [user] account, which
is now being managed by my Mailblocks spam-free email service. Because this is
the first time you have sent to this email account, please confirm yourself so
you'll be recognized when you send to me in the future.

It's simple. To prove your message comes from a human and not a computer, go to: WYW5kcmV3QHNtb2tlc2NyZWVuLm9yZ9iEEb8*&a=1

This is the email message you have sent that is in my Pending folder waiting for
your quick authentication:

Subject: Hi
Sent: Jan 29, 9:07 AM

If you have not confirmed within several days, your message will automatically
be deleted.

Email for Humans... Mailblocks
Try Mailblocks web-based personal email -- faster, cleaner interface, more
storage, bigger attachments, and 100% spam-free.

Should I click? If he's spamming me to protect himself from spam, I feel like undermining his system, but I guess I'll preserve my record of never responding to challenge-response systems instead. I just hope some reader or robot doesn't do it for me within the next several days.