Older blog entries for djm (starting at number 18)

10 days ago, I lost my job of five years. I am pretty happy about this - I was planning on leaving by the end of the year, but this way I get a redundancy payout. I intend to take a couple of months off to relax, renovate out home further and decide what I want to do next. I'll probably get more of a chance to hack on free software during this time, but I have a wedding to prepare for first...
We are freezing for a release at the moment. This will close a lot of bugs, but the big PAM overhaul that I wanted to do didn't make it. This was due to insufficient testing and my general lack of time to devote to heckling the user community. I wish my ex-employer had sacked me a few weeks earlier :)

This Friday, I will be going to the Melbourne anti-war protest. I hope that other Australians reading this will consider attending one in their city.

I rarely get involved in public activism, but this situation is insane. If the stated objective is to "disarm the Iraqi dictatorship", then the first, best way to do this must be through peaceful means. Right now, those means have not been exausted, yet we have a bellicose few pushing for an invasion at an unknowable civilian cost.

Why not let the inspectors finish their jobs? Why immediately pour scorn on the France/Belgium/Germany plan? Why does our government ignore a real threat (North Korea), with real WoMD and real delivery systems on our relative doorstep?

Nowhere has the Australian government attempted to answer these question.

StevenRainwater: Don't bother trying to scan CT tranparencies, it is very difficult without a backlit scanner. You are better off calling the medical imaging lab and asking for them on CD-R. A while ago I got a CD-R of my MRI images (my brain on a CD, cool!). Be prepared to deal with funky medical imaging formats, but you are most likely to get DICOM. DICOM can be converted to PNM using the GPL'd DICOM Toolkit. You'll also be able to dump out the slice coordinates and lots more information.
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?

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