August 2003 Archives

Re-roofing has been postponed until later. (Probably Sept. 20).

I've done some tcl reading (need to do more).

1. Re-Roof garage
2. Learn TCL
3. Write cool patch for darwinports (or re-write large portions in perl just because I can and then make it do cool things).

I updated the global spamassassin configuration to not use the osirusoft blacklist.

I also relaxed my firewall rules a little bit so that the dcc and pyzor checks can actually work now (their UDP reply packets were being dropped by the firewall, they aren't anymore).

I upgraded spamassassin to 2.60-rc2 today.

I also installed pyzor and dcc (razor2 was already installed).

I got spamd running and reading user prefs so people can add custom tests like this:

header VIA_DSL Received =~ /dsl/i
describe VIA_DSL Host that appears to be using DSL
score VIA_DSL 1.0

... to their ~/.spamassassin/user_prefs

It's pretty cool. After training the bayesian filter, I'm getting really good results. (It was good before, but it's really good now).

I should make a donation and start using the SpamCop Blocking List for my personal mail too.

Anyone interested in using pyzor needs to run 'pyzor discover' from their $HOME. If you want to run razor2 you'll need to run 'razor-admin -register [email address -- optional unless you want to be able to report spam back to razor2]' from your $HOME.

I was running everyone's mail through razor2, but I figured that I'll just let people enable it themselves if they want it (I'm probably the only person on the machine getting enough spam to bother with it).

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Ben has graciously donated his G3 for use.


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1. is back up
2. my laptop appears to be fine (why it didn't want to work at jared's house is beyond me)
3. my ReplayTV works again (turns out that P's 3com hub had stopped working).

Although, Anne's RedHat 9 machine keeps wanting to switch to a non-functional mouse driver. ...

At approx. 3:30 AM power went out (or came back on) at Jared's house in Ann Arbor (where the lives).

At 7:30AM I received a SMS message from jared saying that my machine was down.

I went back to sleep. At about 9:00 AM I messaged jared back asking him to kick the server in the head. He promptly called me and let me know that it wasn't going to be that simple.

Thinking it was simply a power supply gone bad, I ordered a replacement from MacResQ. I then drove over to his house with Ben's old G3 that had been sitting in the basement. Swapping the power supplies did not work. Swapping the RAM did not work. Swapping the personality cards did not work.

Finally, I decided to just move the disks from the geeklair machine to Ben's machine. I did this, but forgot that his machine needs an OF nvram patch to work with Mac OS X. I had Mac OS X install disks with me, but no mac display->vga adaptor and no adb keyboard or mouse.

I attempted to have the machine boot off of the OS X CD in the hopes that it would patch OF and work, but this failed. I also attempted to get video off of the onboard ntsc video out port, but this also failed.

Feeling defeated, I drove the machine back to Lansing. I used a Mac OS 9 CD to set the startup disk to the Mac OS X root disk on the server. I used some extra mounting screws I had at the house to screw down the SCSI hard drive that had never before been mounted properly. I swapped the plastic CD ROM cover panel with the hostname label onto the working machine.

Then, I drove back to Ann Arbor and installed the machine. It came up fine and proceeded to pull mail from the backup mx.

Everything is working now, but I'm eager for this never to happen again.

Ideally I could install an xserve somewhere and have serial console if I needed it. That would be expensive, though. The most likely option would be for me to get a G5 (in March or so?) and use my desktop G4 to replace the current machine.

In any event, things are working now. I have to talk to Ben to see what he wants to do about the machine (I could buy it from him, or he could not care and it could be the geeklair until I replace it next year).

Jared wants me to go with his super-server concept (one big FreeBSD machine that several people have chroot()ed jail()s on), but I'm pretty attached to Mac OS X.

I'll just try to not buy too many toys so I can get a new G5 for myself and promote my desktop to a G4. Perhaps I'll spring for a rackmount case for it and try to get some co-lo somewhere closer (or somewhere with more bandwith?).

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So I just read this article over at

It seems that Tampa's automagic face-recognition to find felons, sexual predators, and runaway children system never caught anyone.

So, not only was it a stupid invasion of privacy, but it didn't work at all.

Big surprise.

Unfortunately, they're keeping the cameras up because "they are effective as a deterrent".


As promised.

So we still don't know exactly what happened. Something in Ohio, the product of deregulation, Canada did it, Canada didn't do it, I plugged in the microwave while using my electric range and the AC kicked in.

Sorry about that.

On the one hand, I'm not surprised by the lack of information. But then, perhaps I've become too cynical and I _should_ be surprised?

I did expect more from politicians blaming each other for the problem. Or from democratic candidates blaming Bush (it's only fair, I'm sure he'll try to use it to drill in Alaska, give more money to energy companies, build more nuclear - nucular - power plants, etc.)

I was planning on writing a longer diatribe about it, but I'm bored with the idea of it. Thinking about it just makes me irritated.

Expect a post about the power outage.

... but for now, I'm just happy that power is back!

After reading this, I catch myself thinking more about what wasn't said.

The security implications of our absurd new 'tighter security through profiling' bother me. It reminds me of the bayesian spam filtering that I use. It works well when you have a good balance of spam (terrorists) and ham (non-terrorists), but only because both the spam (terrorists) and the ham (non-terrorists) follow fairly predictable patterns.

Assuming that the people in charge of searching passengers have a fixed amount of time to search everyone, any kind of profiling ends up being a bad idea.

Especially given that you can look at your boarding pass and see if you've been selected for extra search treatment.

So, given that security resources are dedicated to people matching a known profile, that leaves less resources to search those who don't match the profile.

Thus, if a potential terrorist decides to be smart, our profiling systems actually make it easier to get past security than a pure random-search system would.


Airlines in general don't really make much sense to me. I suppose this is because they don't really operate in anything close to an ideal market.

I would be willing, for example, to pay more for actual security. If UPS and FedEx can track my packages, the airlines can track my luggage (guarantee that it is on the plane with me, and never loose it). AFAIK, the marginal cost for operating the plane isn't more if I don't stay over a weekend, so the airlines shouldn't be able to price-discriminate like that.

Oh well. (enough of me rambling)

Who ever said that the world supposed to operate rationally?

I'm glad MT is perl. It makes it easy for me to hack on it.

The comment notification thing was being mildly stupid (it wasn't using the poster's email address as the 'From:' address when sending email notification of a response to something in the thread).

It works correctly now.

I'm plowing through the email I've received while away at Danny's wedding.

I'm noticing two things:
1. Spammers are getting more effective at getting past my spam filtering (fooling spamassassin and Apple Mail's Bayesian filtering seems to be the key).
2. Some spam (or macro virus or whatever) is really funny

Take this one:

"Hello there,

I would like to inform you about important information regarding your
email address. This email address will be expiring.
Please read attachment for details.

Best regards, Administrator"

strange that my email account on my domain on a machine that I run is expiring .... ;)


Read some more from John Gilmore about his flying experience here. You should read Lawrence Lessig's response too.

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