What really matters on the Internet

I’ve actually thought it for a while, but it took “a post”:http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/07/17/kodi-1997-2010/ by “John Scalzi”:http://whatever.scalzi.com to get me to write.

What really matters on the Internet–blogs, twitter, Facebook, what-have-you–is that it acts as a place we can remember what really matters to us.

I’ve read memorials for people’s pets–dogs, cats, what-have-you–parents, grandparents, unborn babies, friends I’ve never met and will never have a chance to meet, and they’ve all been worth all the spam and blink tags and chain letters combined.

To have a place to share our memories of those who were important to us–share them far and wide, digging deep into what they really meant to us without having to be so concerned about what people are going to think when they hear it–is a great gift, even if we don’t always recognize it.

I’ve been on the internet an awfully long time…

More than two decades, in fact, though most of the earliest stuff was on borrowed accounts–I don’t think I had my own email address until twenty years ago _next_ year.

The funny thing is that there are people I know from my very earliest ventures on the ‘net with whom I still cross paths.

In no particular order:

“Steven Grimm”:http://www.facebook.com/sgrimm, who is now a member of Facebook’s infrastructure team working on memcached (which we use very extensively at Ironic Design) was “very active in the Atari ST community”:http://groups.google.com/groups/profile?enc_user=UASgvBQAAACx55dwHhwEwRiGqT1dtGCz6ByVaTvQhk5i4n6ZEwWJug back when I was first getting on the net.

“Howard Chu”:http://highlandsun.com/hyc/ was, if I remember correctly, responsible for both the largest FTP repository of Atari ST freeware up at terminator.cc.umich.edu (for which I used to know the IP address, because DNS was not reliable in those days), as well as handling the porting of the Gnu C compiler to STOS. This is what I learned to write C in. These days, he is the primary coder on the OpenLDAP server (which we use very extensively at Ironic Design).

“David Parsons (orc)”:http://www.pell.portland.or.us/~orc/ was part of the community when I started reading newsgroups, and worked on the STadel port of the Citadel BBS software to the Atari ST. I ran across a reference to his C reimplementation of the Markdown text-processing language.

Now my current connection to orc is more tenuous than the others, but the idea that these people I have known of for twenty years are still involved in software that I used and depend on on a daily basis…it’s kinda weird.

The easy way to set up postfix and mlmmj

I needed a mailing list manager for a new project, and, honestly, I’m a little sick of Mailman–it has tons of features I don’t use, but one fundamental feature I’d like, archive indexing and searching, is grossly deficient (the only option, which has been maintained *as a patch* for the last 7 or 8 years, only really supports ht://Dig, which has been moribund for about that whole time)–so I decided to try something that might be no better, but at least was lightweight. So I installed mlmmj.

And then I discovered that all the documentation for how to configure it with postfix was absurdly complex, at least for my situation, where I was dedicating a whole subdomain (lists.gurave.org) to it.

So, here it is, my take on how to marry mlmmj to postfix. I have successfully subscribed one address to it so far, but there’s no reason it has to be more trouble than this.

*Step 1.* Add an mlmmj transport to your postfix master.cf file:

bc. mlmmj unix – n n – – pipe

flags=DORhu user=nobody argv=/usr/bin/mlmmj-recieve -L /var/spool/mlmmj/${user}/

*Step 2.* Set up your subdomain to use the new transport (this can be set on an individual address basis using either regexes or individual entries, but hell, everyone uses @lists.foo.com@ these days). It can contain:

bc. lists.gurave.org mlmmj:

*Step 3.* Configure postfix to handle the subdomain and use the transport file to route messages (and don’t hand more than one to mlmmj at once):

bc. mlmmj_destination_recipient_limit = 1

relay_domains = lists.gurave.org

transport_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/transport

*Step 4.* There is no Step 4. You’re done. Seriously.

Of course, if I’ve missed something, I hope someone will let me know, but I don’t see why it has to be any more than this.

Thinking about it, what _is_ a super-high-volume mailing list?

“Martin F. Krafft”:http://blog.madduck.net/ posts “some stats about the debian-devel mailing list”:http://blog.madduck.net/debian/2007.10.10_not-so-chatty.xhtml.

The long and the short of it is that over its 12-year history, it’s averaged one message ever 25 minutes. Put that way, it sounds like no big deal, but then thinking again, what mailing lists are going to be able to show that sort of volume over such a long time-span?

And the newsmedia wonders why no one takes them seriously anymore?

What a bunch of fucking slackers.

No, I’m not talking about their shitty reporting on the run-up to war, or their unwillingness to hold a crap administration’s feet to the fire for what they’re not doing for the American people.

No, right now I’m talking about unattributed theft of text from Wikipedia. To wit (from “the Fetus In Fetu”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetus_in_fetu article on WP):

bq. _Fetus in fetu_ (or Foetus in foeto) describes an extremely rare abnormality that involves a fetus getting trapped inside of its twin. It continues to survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cord-like structure that leeches its twin’s blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene.

From “an ABC news article on someone so afflicted”:http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2346476&page=1:

bq. It is an extremely rare abnormality that involves a fetus getting trapped inside of its twin. The trapped fetus can survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cord-like structure that leeches its twin’s blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene.

Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if, by now, they’ve not realized they’ve been called and have changed the text…which is even more chickenshit.

Now this is what Free Software is all about

Earthlink has produced a “customized firmware image”:http://www.research.earthlink.net/ipv6/ for the Linksys WRT54G router that will allow you to get IPv6 addresses on their network. Many IPv6 addresses, apparently.

I don’t think it’s going to displace the Sveasoft firmware I’m using (though I might try to figure out how to get the IPv6 addresses using that), but it’s awfully cool that Earthlink 1) took the time and 2) was able to hack the firmware like this and make it available to their customers.

Oh, and the link where I got this information is a very nice overview of the interesting stuff that is available for the WRT54G family. Definitely worth reading, and, if you’ve got $60 laying around, definitely worth picking up one.

But if you’re going to do it, consider doing it quickly–the newest WRT54G V.5 is apparently castrated and unable to use these replacement firmwares (and, since it’s no longer Linux-based, is unlikely ever to).


“A fairly spectacular ajax-based web calendar”:http://www.monket.net/cal/#top. I wonder what it’s using as a storage back-end?

I didn’t look at Google Maps for a while…

Frankly, since I got back from DC, I haven’t needed a lot of directions to places, and everyone was just jabbering about how cool the technology was, and I only have so much tolerance for such things for their own sake.

Yeah, I know that’s surprising.

Anyway, I have to admit that I _am_ impressed with things people are doing with Google Maps, especially since they put the sattelite images up.

One very interesting post, regarding the Rio Grande is “here”:http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/archives/001703.html.

I really hate to do it

But if you’re using sveasoft firmware in your Linksys or other router, _don’t upgrade to Talisman/Basic_.

At least, not yet. It looks good–even this first release has a number of things that look to be nice add-ons to the feature set that was in the Alchemy series–and I’m sure that it will stabilize shortly, but I blew two hours fighting it yesterday before getting it to limp along well enough to be able to download the last Alchemy release and put that back on.

I’ll probably try again in a couple of days, and at that point, I’ll take notes, and perhaps make something that more resembles a review–but this upgrade certainly wasn’t as smooth for me as upgrades within the Alchemy series have been.

If you do just feel honor bound to go ahead–or you just want to prove that you’re better at this than I am–just be sure you have a copy of an old firmware around, to save yourself some headaches.

Could it really be?

A table-less, standards-compliant, three-column liquid page layout with masthead and footer? (yeah, I’m kinda stealing Ugo’s lead, too).

“Apparently so”:http://webhost.bridgew.edu/etribou/layouts/skidoo_too/index.html.

OK, so I wasn’t able to get through Engine Summer…

I bought a trio of Jonathon Carroll novels in a single volume, and just haven’t made it to it yet, even though John Clute says they’re spectacular.

Sometimes these things happen. I’ll probably try again in six months or a year and wonder what stopped me before.

On the other hand, two posts in, and I find Jonathon Carroll’s blog absolutely fascinating. For instance, the post on 2/9 (you have to go to the “February page”:http://www.jonathancarroll.com/blog/2005_02.html and then scroll down).

Contrast this, most amusingly, with “Warren Ellis’ explanation of where his ideas come from”:http://www.warrenellis.com/index.php?p=328.

And then contemplate the notion of:

bq. …and suddenly you understand what it would be like if Einstein’s brain was placed into the body of a young tyrannosaur, stuffed full of amphetamines and suffused with Sex Radiation.

The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

I wasn’t actually a reader of “TMFTML”:http://www.popfactor.com/tmftml/, but when I noticed a reference to it, I went to see if it had re-opened because Chet had been a fan.

Mostly, I just want to echo “the assessment”:http://www.popfactor.com/tmftml/archives/001851.html#001851 of Modest Mouse’s latest album, ??Good News for People Who Like Bad News??, which was an album I listened to quite a lot during my stint in DC.

I can’t express my feelings towards Modest Mouse. They are an untelegenic band, the lead singer is rather older and not nearly as scrawny as I had imagined. His voice isn’t that great–it’s better than mine, but that says fuck-all–and he mutters indistinctly, and the guitars twang in odd ways, but Lord, the lyrics make me feel 19 again when the lyrics to songs meant everything in the world.

When the idea of Bob Dylan in Victoria’s Secret commercials never would have even occured to rational people.

This is the first album I’ve heard in years that has well and truly taken the top of my head off and set it back down askew.

bq. Woke up this morning
And it seemed to me
That every night turns out to be
A little more like Bukowski
And yeah, I know he’s a pretty good read.
But God who’s wanna be?
God who’d wanna be such an asshole?

What strange things you can be lead to on the web

So I idly look on Amazon to see if there’s a release date for the new Nine Inch Nails album ??With Teeth??. No, but there _is_ “an album by the same name by another band”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00001MXV6/qid%3D1105376386/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/102-8228765-4982512, so I wonder if I got the name wrong, so I go to nin.com, and look at the “pseudo-blog section”:http://nin.com/current/index.html, which contains a comment about “Dimebag Darrell”:http://www.damageplan.com/ and someone named “Jhonn”. So hit google, and end up being pointed to (among other places) “blogofdeath.com”:http://blogofdeath.com/, which turns out to be much more serious than its name might imply.

Hawking Technology makes some interesting router hardware…

…but I’m not sure I’d go to them for web development.

It is a tiresome fact of web development that you can’t trust anything the user enters, and you really _must_ validate input you get from your users. Unfortunately, the “message you get from following this link”:http://www.hawkingtech.com/prodSpec.php?ProdID= (which I didn’t construct–it was on their site) seems to show that they’re not doing a very good job of that.

(Not that I’ve ever been perfect, either, but I try hard.)

What a potentially interesting site

After reading that there was some sort of connection between the Allman Brothers’ ??In Memory of Elizabeth Reed?? and Miles Davis, I did a quick google search, and stumbled across “songfacts”:http://songfacts.com/, which has the potential to be an interesting site.

My days of router hackery are over…

I broke down and did what I’d recently recommended to someone else–I bought a Linksys WRT54GS, and then I ponied up the $20/year for the subscription to sveasoft.com’s super-firmware.

(Yes, I know there’s some conflict about GPL compliance WRT sveasoft.com, although from my understanding of the issues (that they want to restrict circulation of betas), I don’t have a problem with it, really.)

Boy, I am awfully pleased.

For < $100 all told, I got 802.11g (though I am having one bastard of a time finding a cardbus card with an in-kernel driver), a four-port switch (though I’m really only using one), a router, a VPN server (albeit PPTP), a dhcp server that’ll do static address assignments, a local DNS server that cooperates with it, and no doubt a bunch of other stuff I haven’t discovered yet.

I don’t generally like consumer hardware, but sometimes they get it right.

Unfogged links to Antic Muse

“Antic Muse”:http://www.theanticmuse.com/ was Ana Marie Cox’ site before she became “Wonkette”:http://wonkette.com/.

I hit the link on Unfogged, and then came across “a review of Liz Phair’s latest album”:http://www.theanticmuse.com/~anamarie/archives/000172.html she reproduced from the Chicago Reader. I guess I’m not sorry I haven’t bought it.

If you’re running SpamAssassin

I have two recommendations, stemming from the thrills and chills I experience daily running “a commercial anti-spam service”:http://antespam.com/:

* Use some supplementary rules

Go to the “SpamAssassin Custom Rule Emporium”:http://www.merchantsoverseas.com/wwwroot/gorilla/sa_rules.htm, and pick up, at the very least, copies of backhair.cf, chickenpox.cf, weedsonly.cf and bigevil.cf. These have shown an enormous benefit for us.

The great thing is that all you have to do is drop these rules in your SpamAssassin rules directory (our Debian boxes use /etc/spamassassin for local stuff) and it will immediately start using them.

* Don’t let spamassassin automatically train the bayes database

Now our situation differs somewhat from most people–we do filtering for a couple of hundred domains, so we see a very wide range of email, and our users often don’t have the facilities (since LookOut! sucks so much) or the time to get all incorrectly-classified messages fed back into the system. If you are diligent in doing this for every mis-classified message you see, your results will probably be good.

Still, for us, auto-learning was a _disaster_.

We have found it much more effective to pull and classify random mails going through the system, and build a bayes database exclusively from that corpus; the fact is, the accessibility of SpamAssassin’s rule set means that clever people can find holes, and although closing them will happen quickly, it might not be before a number of messages go through your system with scores low enough that they cause SpamAssassin to learn them as ham, and _Whammo!_ you’ve got a bayes database that is going to start working counter to your desires unless you make sure each and every one of those messages gets re-learned as spam.

So my recommendation is that you add a ‘bayes_auto_learn 0’ parameter to your config file.

Of course, the real solution is to sign up with “AnteSpam”:http://antespam.com/, and let us take care of the maintenance headaches.

Ah, the joys of community wireless.

So, I’m able to sit here in “the local independent coffee shop”:http://beantraders.net/ and do work in the morning because, unlike, say, Starbucks, they’re willing to spend the $50/month to have a simple wireless setup free for the using.

How does one do it?

So some super-gigantic catastrophe severed some huge wad of fiber somewhere in my general area, and I find myself without high-speed connectivity.

Even ignoring the fact that I was all stoked yesterday to start on a project that was going to involve doing a lot of programming on another system, it’s frustrating as hell to have to slow down to dialup speeds.

More frustrating, though, is the fact that what I *really* would like to do is have multiple connections–DSL, cable, backup dial-up–that all converge into one box, and which intelligently fails over (or multipaths). You can do this with a Linux box–and it’s not like I’ve not run a Linux box as my gateway before–but finding a Linux box that is as quiet as my Linksys box would be virtually impossible. And now that I’ve got things this quiet in here, I’m loathe to go back to the perpetually screaming fans situation.