“If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states.”

— http://www.timbro.se/bokhandel/pdf/9175665646.pdf

Annoying habits


/dev/audio: Breathless, The Corrs

Next to my casually-held belief that Bush actually won the election — something that I’ve thought of as a dead issue for quite a while now (and hooboy, how wrong I was!) — I think my worst habit is a certain selective deafness when it comes to music.

No, not the part about listening to utter crap, although I do that, too. See the song mentioned above? It’s been playing on repeat for more than six hours today. Just the one song.

I didn’t notice. It’s a nice song, but is it that good? No, it just falls into that category of music that fills the background pleasantly without ever attracting my attention.

I have a large collection of such songs, although obviously I could get by with one or two. This repetition isn’t usually a problem, since I live alone, but I’ve heard some grumbling when it happens at the office, and it was once taken as a planned insult by my college roommate’s live-in girlfriend. She simply couldn’t believe that someone could play Debbie Gibson’s Out of the Blue album for seven hours straight without noticing, and she was sure I knew that she hated it.

The funny thing was that I hadn’t realized she was in the apartment in the first place.

Sanitizing Apache with PF


About 45 minutes elapsed between the moment that I first turned this server on and the arrival of the first virus/worm/hacker probes. It was obvious that most of them were looking for Windows-based web servers, so they were harmless to me.

Still, I like to review the logs occasionally, and the sheer volume of this crap was getting annoying. Later, when I raised munitions.com from the dead, I discovered that it was getting more than 30,000 hits a day for a file containing the word “ok”. Worst of all, as I prepare to restore my photo archives, I know that I can’t afford to pay for the bandwidth while they’re slurped up by every search engine, cache site, obsessive collector, Usenet reposter, and eBay scammer on the planet.

Enter PF, the OpenBSD packet filter.

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Unrepentant sinner


Undergrads love free Internet porn. This is not news. Undergrads will go to great lengths to hide their porn collections from the sysadmins. This also is not news. Sometimes they outsmart themselves. This is just plain fun.

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Pissing in your whiskey


Han shot first.

We never saw Newt’s family.

There was no World War II scene.

The government agents had guns.

Think of your favorite movies, the way you remember them. Pick them up on DVD, and there’s a disturbingly high chance that the movie you see will be different somehow. Maybe it’s subtle, adding a few minutes here and there that were originally chopped out for runtime or ratings issues. Maybe it’s dramatic, restoring huge chunks of material that were arbitrarily slashed away by a clueless studio. More and more often, though, it’s the result of a director revisiting his earlier work and simply changing his mind about how best to tell the story.

I call this “pissing in your whiskey,” because the director is insisting that the best work he could do ten years ago has soured in the barrel, and needs an infusion of mature creative juices.

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Sometimes it’s not the network


My job was Unix support for Corporate Services, which basically referred to everything in the company that wasn’t related to developing, selling, or training customers how to use our products. In practice, though, it usually just meant MIS, because HR and Legal were composed entirely of Mac people, who had their own support team.

The oddest exception started one day when an HR manager asked me to help him set up a beta-test of a Lotus Notes-based applicant tracking system. The application was being developed on OS/2 servers and PC clients, but we wanted to test it with a SunOS server and Mac clients, since that’s what we had.

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Backups? What backups?


A.J. was worried. For several months, he’d been growing more and more concerned about the reliability of the Unix server backup system that he operated every day. He was just the latest in a long string of junior contractors paid to change tapes, but he actually cared about doing a good job, and something wasn’t right.

He had raised his concerns with the manager of Core Services and the Senior System Administrators who were responsible for the corporate infrastructure, but they assured him that any problems were only temporary, and that he should wait until they had the new system in place. A.J. resigned himself to pretending to do his job, and grudgingly agreed to stall for more time whenever a restore was requested that he couldn’t accomplish.

And then the system just stopped working.

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Foods nature never made


No, not the genemod stuff. Frankly, if I could find a grocery that sold produce that was guaranteed genetically modified, grown with artificial fertilizers, sprayed with pesticides, and then irradiated, I’d shop there every day. Modern technology has done wonders for the quality and safety of food, contrary to the claims of people who confuse natural with safe and healthy. Don’t even get me started on their abuse of the word organic.

No, I’m talking about the single-serving can of fruit I’m holding in my hand. The label reads “raspberry-flavored peaches.”

What were they thinking?

Attack of the killer ants!


Brian Tiemann has an ant problem. No surprise there; I think it’s on the Universal New House Checklist, right after “otherwise quiet neighbor with yapping dog.” What surprised me, though, was that he was willing to accept their presence in the house as long as they didn’t get too aggressive.

Not me. Slaughter-and-sanitize is my motto, and their right to life ends with the very first bread crumb.

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