Older blog entries for djm (starting at number 15)

Don't feed the trolls
Why is everyone complaining about Advogato's troll? It is very easy to ignore them (rate them a '1'). The ongoing "rebuttal" by people who should know better is far, far worse. Starting from now, I am going to start down-rating people who respond to this blatantly obvious bating as they are contributing far more to the N/S ratio than the troll.
bjf: "Never argue with fools or children" - some good advice from my grandmother.
What you describe is unfortunate, but not suprising. The vast majority of my machine lockups are because of XFree wedging (on i8x0 and radeon, g400 and mga are pretty stable). It is probably the least reliable bit of software that I run regularly.


Spam is evil, especially on when it appears on my mailing lists (which I keep open as a matter of principle). Recently I have started using SpamAssassin as a frontend to Mailman. This worked reasonably well: tag messages in SpamAssassin and get mailman to block anything with "Subject *****SPAM****".

Unfortunately, mailman doesn't actually block those message - it just queues them for approval. So every month I have to go through the abysmal approval interface (the only part of Mailman I dislike) and click the tiny "discard" button for each of the ~150 spam messages I get every month.

Today, prompted in part by a massive increase in spam over the holidays, I finally had enough. The mailing list server still scans with SpamAssassin, but now automatically bounces all spams (with a useful error) which SpamAssassin has tagged. This was straightforward enough, once I had figured out the many quirks of procmail.

In the process of figuring out procmail's quirks, I looked a couple of times at the source. O Gorgon! There was no way I was letting that mess run unsupervised on untrusted data so I hacked up an OpenBSD systrace policy for it (systrace is very nice).

If anyone who runs mailing lists is suffering from similar problems, I'd be happy to share the glue that holds this all together.

I finally have found some time to do some hacking on OpenSSH over the last week. Much of this has been tidying and merging patches from other people, but has also included a fair bit of hacking on sftp. Much more to do though, but it is nice to be productive again.
ncm: Your wireless issue sounds like interference from another signal source. Snow would (i'm guessing) attenuate distant signals as 2.4Ghz is well absorbed by water. Any Cafe's with busy microwave ovens around you? :)
dtucker: I care about password expiry, just not this week. BTW the IXUS v3 is very cool - mine is 1 month old today :)

bjf: The John Safran(sp?) video is hilarious, especially the part where they stake out Ray Martin (awful Australian pseudo-journalist) and go through his trash - mirroring the reprehensible pop-journalism tactics that he has employed many times. I was told that Ray used his connections to have the video banned. As for getting a copy, ask a media studies student.

GPS: I bought a rs-232 GPS from deluo.com along with a couple of USB->rs-232 adapters that are known to work with OpenBSD. So far I have some cool "ticker-timer" plots of my tracks through the city of Melbourne using some python code and gnuplot.

Unfortunately there seems to be few freely available maps of Melbourne - most of the data is proprietary, and the stuff that is free is of more interest to geoscientists than to me.

wainstead: Re: Applescript. Wow - I'd love to see a similar level of automation possible with one of the free unix desktops. I suspect that it would be somewhat difficult to implement something really powerful, because of X11's separation of WM, toolkit and app.

Apart from the power that such a system would bring, I can think of another really compelling reason to add a standard scripting capability to X11 desktops: testcases. A decent scripting language would make automated GUI app testing very simple. (Not that I know anything about GUI app design...)

Is this even on the radar of the desktop developers?

Life has been good. One week ago I finished a Masters degree (business) and the relief from responsibility is palpable. I have had time to read, watch videos, go out to the cinema and work a bit on the house. Lovely.
I have just started playing with Python, after a couple of years of almost-but-not-quite motivation. It is quite a nice language which lends itself to a more disciplined mode of work than, say, perl. Unfortunately I suspect that it will take a while to get used to all its nuances and idioms. I expect that this will become my language of choice for short non-text-munching programs and especially for GUI tools. I expeted that the whole "whitespace as syntactic element" was going to annoy me no end, but I hardly noticed it at all.
The reason I have started playing with Python. Wow. This library is really well structued and the whole of Python+SDL is much more than the sum of the parts. My stupid "blast the politician" game is fully functional with graphics, sound and joystick support in 250 lines of code. Still trying to figure out how much of the really cool sprite architecture works when using OpenGL though.
Silly Desktop
I am starting to get frustrated with Metacity; it has some really stupid behaviors and the developers seem more intent on pleasing mythical "real users" than people who submit bug reports backed up with patches. Worse, there is no obvious knob to turn to switch window managers to something less patriarchal.
I posted the code to a relatively niche project of mine and was suprised to receive three sets of patches in the first week. More scary was that someone else has already built pretty much the same thing, right down to the commandline options. Theirs is a weird "GPL but you have to pay us first" licensing approach, so I don't feel like I have wasted my time.
27 Oct 2002 (updated 27 Oct 2002 at 11:40 UTC) »

Lots of trolls on Advotgato now. Thanks raph for allowing me to ignore them easily!

Unfortunately John Howard represents exactly the opposite: doctrine without decency. Remember that this is the man who installed a former head of a church as Australian head of state - I can't imagine a more ridiculous action in such a multicultural society

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