21 Apr 2004 ncm   » (Master)

Virus load
When the volume of e-mail viruses I get in a day topped 2000, or 75MB, I decided I had to do something, kids or no kids. (It's hard to do anything geeky, lately, that takes more than 15 minutes. Upgrading to linux kernel 2.6 on Debian unstable, remarkably, qualified under that rule.) Google identified a procmail script called nkvir-rc, or "YAVR", that seems to do what I want, along with a bunch of other stuff (identify 419 and porn spam) that I turned off. I had been reluctant to depend on procmail (because I've seen the source!) but enough is enough.

When I tried it, it blocked all the viruses, and most real mail, too; it shunted maybe a fifth of the expected number of viruses into a separate mailbox. When I turned it off, a flood of (evidently queued) viruses, and real mail, too, showed up. It turned out to have been diverting the viruses to "mbox" format files, with mbox-style locking. My mail directory is on an NFS server, which is not compatible with mbox locking, and is otherwise in Maildir format. I went through the script and stuck a "/" on the end of each virus mailbox name (it puts different viruses in different mailboxes) and now everything works. Since late last night it has shunted aside 40MB of virus mail (almost all of it identified as "Moodown", FWIW). The author seemed unfamiliar with the distinction in mailbox disciplines; let's see what his next release does.

Now I get just a few dozen "delivery failed" messages per day, instead. It appears that somebody has targetted Gcc developers with a DoS attack, because many of the return addresses on the virus messages are addresses from those mailing lists, in some cases very old addresses. Bruce Schneier says the virus storm is the result of a pissing contest between two virus-writing gangs.

According to teknofile's innergeek, I'm only 23% geek. (Not enough so to warrant reproducing the next six digits of precision it reported.)

I bumped into Chris Lahey, clahey, around lunchtime Monday, and found out that Ximian has crossed the river to Cambridge and moved into the Akamai building two minutes' walk from my office. (I had thought that albino guy who's always outside smoking when I go past, lately, looked familiar.) I always used to get Chris's name mixed up with Greg Lehey's, grog, of FreeBSD fame. No more.

C and C++
The next person who writes "C/C++" gets a knuckle sandwich. C and C++ are distinct languages. If you only know C, you don't know C++, and had better not claim it on any résumé I look at. (Hint: if you think "char *p" is a good way to declare a pointer in C++, you don't know C++.) If you can use C++ effectively, you can hardly bear to confine yourself to C. The only contexts where the expression "C/C++" makes any sense are when talking about (1) link compatibility or (2) speed. Figure out what you mean: "C and C++", "C or C++", or maybe just "C", really. (GNOME core libraries are C, period.)

Our own murrayc has made C++ a full citizen among GNOME application implementation languages. I defy the Mono crowd to come up with a GNOME app prettier, or quicker to write, than the same written with libgnomemm et al.

Congratulations to everybody who contributed to Gcc-3.4! This is the best release ever. Now that the C++ compiler and library both advertise a stable ABI, distributions should be sure to package versions of all their C++ libraries built with this release (even if their default compiler is 3.3) so they will (with a little luck) remain link-compatible with the next couple of years' releases.

Java and C#
It strikes me as really funny (RVM!) and pathetic (most else) that so much work by Free Software developers is going into those dead-end, ill-designed, proprietary languages. I know I shouldn't care -- people waste their time the way they choose -- but couldn't they have better taste? Certainly C++ could be improved upon. Why not invent something way better than C++, instead of struggling futilely to get somewhere close to as good? That next language should come from the Free Software community and be designed to serve its needs, not from some doomed corporation desperate to lock a few remaining developers in to a binary-distribution scheme. (No, Lisp ain't it.)

Since last report, Vim running as message editor under Evolution (via Bonobo) crashed once, without taking down Evo itself. Galeon has been crashing, too, but only when I try to delete eBay cookies (which I have to do because it won't let my wife log in, much of the time, otherwise). Metacity hasn't been crashing, but my xterm windows have taken to drifting southward so the prompt line is off-screen. I have to keep hitching them up like a loose pair of shorts. Gnome-panel "System Monitor" hasn't crashed, but it also can't seem to figure out how much swap space I'm using, any more. Oh, and of course Gaim 0.64 always crashes after a couple of days, even when left alone (although it's pretty nice, in the meantime, once you figure out how to get onto a channel).

Membership in the "Lisp" community surged to within five points of the "I hate Java" community, now at 473, but has stagnated again, around 455. I attribute the fluctuations to their new "related communities" feature, but why the time constants are different is a mystery. Social science remains a wide-open field.

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