Older blog entries for djm (starting at number 21)

25 Apr 2003 (updated 25 Apr 2003 at 09:25 UTC) »

Earlier this month, I was married to my partner of nearly seven years, Simone. We had a wonderful wedding, followed by two lovely weeks sitting on a beach in Far North Queensland doing very little beyond reading, swimming, drinking great wine and eating amazing food.

The reading was mostly Homer's The Odyssey (Ancient Greek Homer, not Matt Groening Homer). Apart from being an great story, this is considered one of the first works of Western literature and offers (thanks to Homer's prolix style) much insight into the ancients' way of life and thought. I am amazed that this story is so timeless, perhaps something is added by the competent translation.

During this two week honeymoon I was _completely_ Internet-free. Despite this being a near eternity for me, I didn't miss it much. Upon my return I was expecting some interesting stuff to have happened, maybe some cool new software released, but never this whole OpenBSD/DARPA fiasco.

Right now, it looks like the issue was precipitated by Theo speaking his mind on the Iraq war. The whole thing is bizarre, more in line with China, Singapore, or some other authoritarian society than the one with the Bill of Rights (which IMO should be considered one of the Wonders of the world). But then, the current US administration (and their side of politics is not alone) doesn't seem to care too much for Enlightenment values.

The way in which the funding was pulled; two weeks before a booked hackathon to which much of the team will be attending (not me, unfortunately) which was to be funded from the grant is doubly insulting and belies a petty and punitive attitude.

We live in dark and moronic times.

avriettea: Wow, way to post private email! That takes integrity, but then so does deliberately (or stupidly) misconstruing it.
3 Apr 2003 (updated 3 Apr 2003 at 07:37 UTC) »

hmm, BitTorrent seems pretty cool. I set it downloading RH9 as I left home this morning and when I came back (~4 hours) it had already fetched the whole ~2Gb of it.

I was somewhat put off by the line at the top of the INSTALL file: "install wxPython - http://wxpython.org/" (python is nice because I can generally avoid library-hell), bit I soon noticed the Curses and textmode clients (why aren't they mentioned?)

Otherwise, it seems excellent.

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? :)

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