MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World - Rant

Political spam
Organising a bridge tournament in a minefield
Different kind of networking people
Woolworths Earn and Learn stickers
Coding Styles
In San Francisco again - Part 3
In San Francisco again
Apple iPhone guidelines train lazy programmers
DST is here again!
July 2009 was a strange month
Please don't re-elect Fred Nile, thanks.
Train evacuation due a sick passenger
Riverbed Certified Solutions Professional
Open letter to CityRail / RailCorp
Friday the 13th
Cisco and the curse of the IOS Syntax for VLANs
APNIC IPv6 training
Extreme Poker
Microsoft Windows TCP/IP Stack Behaviour
So much for a nice hierarchy...
The height of the MLC centre.
Election auctioning
Dumb DNS setup of the week
Why the Samsung SGH-D600 sucks
I'm watching no more commercial television from now on
Feedback, going to try it again
MS-RPC spam!
Broken Mailserver Software
How many IP addresses?
Are you living on the address I'm calling?
Politically Correct is wrong?
The Imperial System vs the Metric System
Why there are standards...
Spammers are abusing mavetju.org
Aliens of Mars vs Michael Jackson
Airport-insecurity in the USA

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Political spam

Posted on 2013-08-28 18:00:00
Tags: Rant, Spam, Politics

Over the years, I have published various email addresses from the @mavetju.org domain in my weblog. They have been harvested by spammers. In this article, I published a From and a Reply-To field which don't exist as an email address: ryopdx@mavetju.org. It also published a Message-id: UHUh4a7dWj6_CpI3ZmfY@mavetju.org.

Imagine my surprise when I found two emails from Clive Palmer, the head of the Palmer United Party, in my mailbox:

From: clive.palmer@news1.palmerunitednews.com.au
Subject: A Message From Clive Palmer
To: ryopdx@mavetju.org

and:
From: clive.palmer@news1.palmerunitednews.com.au
Subject: A Message From Clive Palmer
To: uhuh4a7dwj6_cpi3zmfy@mavetju.org

Looks like he got his list of email addresses from a dubious source!


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Organising a bridge tournament in a minefield

Posted on 2013-08-10 18:00:00
Tags: Rant, Bridge, Happiness

Earlier this year Naomi obtained her bridge director status and is involved in the New South Wales Bridge Assocation. She is also directing at the Southside Bridge Centre and plays at the Port Hacking club. As they say, never a dull moment!

One of her ideals is to organise a bridge tournament in Southern Sydney and now that she is involved in the NSWBA this is something which might actually run! It's called the Inaugural Sydney South Trophy Day and if it's up to her, it will be the first of a yearly event. However, doing this without stepping on anybodies toes seems to be impossible.

Issue 1: The location. Naomi wants to run it at the Southside Bridge Centre because they can provide the room, cards, accessories for a price much lower than the rate at a commercial event venue company. Sounds reasonable... Well, not if you consider that a lot of owners of other bridge clubs wouldn't mind to have it at their place too. And if it is not at their place, preferable not at anybody elses bridge club. Seeing as if this might going to be a yearly event and thus the location might be somewhere else next year, that doesn't really come up in their minds.

Issue 2: The date. Naomi wants to run it on the Labour Day public holiday on Monday 7 October. That is the day that the Hurstville Bridge club normally runs. So the Hurstville Bridge club is angry because this is going to cut in their number of people coming.

The bridge community in South Sydney consists in general of old people: In the Port Hacking, Hurstville and St George clubs Naomi is the youngest by far, and no new blood is coming in. It is just a matter of time before they are gone. However, in the Southside, Ingleburn and St George Budapest bridge clubs are actively promoting bridge and get new people involved.

So... On 7 October there will be a bridge tournament, most likely visited by people who want to promote the game of bridge and see it continue in a healthy way!


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Different kind of networking people

Posted on 2013-08-09 18:00:00
Tags: Rant, Networking, Riverbed

In the first thirteen years of my working life I have encountered a lot of different people in the field of networking. And for some reason they were all skilled, experienced and willing to learn. They understood their stuff, in case of issues a pointer to the right direction was enough to help them out.

In my experience at the Riverbed TAC I have encountered several new kind of networking people, although I wouldn't call them all "networking" people.

Did I miss a category? Most likely because I have repressed them, very deep...


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Woolworths Earn and Learn stickers

Posted on 2013-05-02 08:00:00
Tags: Rant

Woolworths has a Earn and Learn program, where during a two month period you get one sticker for every ten dollars spend at them. I have always been interested in knowing how much of the ten dollars goes back to the schools.

According to this article on the ABC website, the Oaks Public School spend almost half a million dollars in Woolworths' stores to be returned school supplies with a value of about 2,700 dollars.

That is about 0.5%, or 5 cents per 10 dollars.

If I spend 100 dollars per week at Woolworths (which I don't because most of the money is spend at the bakierie, chicken shop, butcher and vegetable shop), I will make 50 cents for the school.

If I would give the school 10 dollars, that is the equivalent of 20 weeks of Earn and Learn. And the amount of profit equivalent of 2000 dollars worth of purchased items less for Woolworths.


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Coding Styles

Posted on 2010-12-01 23:00:00
Tags: Coding, Rant, FreeBSD

Recently I stumbled over this piece of code:

if(pinfo->cinfo) {
	if (pinfo->cinfo->col_first[COL_INFO]>=0){
		for (i = pinfo->cinfo->col_first[COL_INFO]; i <= pinfo->cinfo->col_last[COL_INFO]; i++) {
and it nearly made me cry. How many different coding styles can you find in here? This inconsistent coding style drives me craaaaaazy! I am so glad that the FreeBSD Project has a consistent coding style for their own source code.


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In San Francisco again - Part 3

Posted on 2010-08-09 18:00:00
Tags: Travelling, San Francisco, Rant, TV

The hotel I stayed in last time has changed only a little bit. Was there a small TV last time, this time there was a huge LCD TV. Was there a video-player last time, this time there was a DVD player. Was there a wall with videos for lend last time, this time there was... NOTHING! Okay, that sucks big time because last time I spend some serious time watching different kind of movies than I normally watch and learned a couple of nice actors.

Because of the absence of videos, I had to watch TV. So I checked Discovery Channel, which didn't really have anything attractive on in the evenings. Next one is History Channel, which had two interesting programs which reminded me of the program "Tussen kunst and kitsch" (Between art and kitsch), about two people (sorry I forgot their names) who went through old collector places to find interesting stuff. The story of the two was boring, the knowledge they had about things was massive. The second one was pawnbrokers, instead of hunting for treasures they waited for them to be delivered. The story of the pawnshop was boring, the knowledge of things was again massive. And I found a channel which had Star Trek: The Next Generation on at 22:00 so I could watch it and go to sleep while dreaming of Q and the Borg.

Weather-wise: It was cold. Warmer than San Francisco, but cold for a summer for a country which lies at the same height as Spain! I met up with Jos Backus, again this time, and he showed me again the nice places around Sunnyvale. Thanks Jos!

The week I spend at the Riverbed TAC in Sunnyvale was a good experience, meeting up with new and working together with my old colleagues, experiencing a different style of how a TAC is managed, having the fun of handing over cases to my colleagues in Sydney (did I actually do this or was it just wishful thinking?) and spending some time with former colleagues who left for other roles.

Before I went back I noticed that my bag was falling apart and that it needed a replacement otherwise all my clothes would end up over the landingstrip! On the way back on the plane I was pre-warned this time and got myself eye-patches and a neck-pillow and I slept for about 60% of the time and dozed for a couple of more hours. The plane left two hours late (after they let us on!) because of a missing or failing crewmember-oxygene-bottle-pressure-measuring-device-button-light-switch-thingie. So instead of arriving at 06:15 I arrived at the reasonable time of 08:15. No hassle with customs, no hassle with quarantine.

So, is United Airlines really that bad? Yes. With a capital B and A and D. They were before taking off already out of apple-juice and they have absolutely no control over the inside of the plane, more than once I was woken up by the speaker system begging the people to stay in their chairs because the seat-belt sign was on. It is times like that that you wish that the broken crewmember-oxygene-bottle-pressure-measuring-device-button-light-switch-thingie would cause some airbubbles and that everybody without the seatbelts on would end up in a negative G situation and then with their face flat on the floor. It is a way to learn that there is a reason these seatbelts are there :-)

Anyway, I'm safely on the ground again and have my three loved ones around me again!


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In San Francisco again

Posted on 2010-07-19 01:00:00
Tags: Travelling, San Francisco, TV, Rant, Trains

As stated before, I'm in San Francisco right now. And the flight to here with United Airlines was kind of a nightmare...

I might be spoiled, but with in the travelling I've done in the last ten years, I didn't encounter an airliner which on its long haul flights didn't come with complementary eye-patches and inflatable neck pillow. Oh, I did this time, and it sucked.

Also the "entertainment system", for a lack of better word, were old-fashioned TVs hanging on the roof and a projected on the wall in front of me. So, no eye-patches and this light constantly flashing in front of my closed eyes: To sleep you don't need brain-stimulation like that! Getting rid of these TVs would be a good thing.

The people in the plane where acting like they were on a school trip with zero clue of what was going to happen. The plane left at 14:00 Body Time, which means that it got dark at 17:00 Body Time. So far so good. The cabin crew turned off the main lights and everywhere the reading lights went on and people started to talk loudly and laugh. Did I tell you that there were no eye-patches? AAAAAAAAAARGH! So at 23:00 Body Time everybody kind of fell asleep (finally), but then at 01:00 Body Time the guy next me opened the plastic cover in front of the window and kept it open because he wanted to see the sun. Still two hours to go and had barely any sleep.

Now the good news... I digged up a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones before I went, new battery in it and oh man, that noise-cancelling works great. Too bad I didn't have an inflatable neck-pillow so I couldn't easily wear it, but the quietness was kind of what prevented me from going totally insane on the plane.

The flights I had went from Sydney to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The transfer time I had in Los Angeles was 60 minutes before boarding and 90 minutes before take-off. That was a close call... First you have to go through the DHS checks, which takes 25 minutes before it is your turn, then you have to get your luggage and go through customs, another 20 minutes. Then it's getting rid of the luggage and run towards terminal 7 (It is warm in LA, so my jacket and shirt and singlet were way too much, huff puff). And then you see this huge queue in front of the security check to get towards the gates again. And you hear in the distance "Flight UAsomething to San Francisco is now boarding". Talking to customer representatives doesn't help, the queue is one giant string of people and you just have to wait until it is your turn. Tick tick tick... And finally when they announce the final final boarding call for flight UAsomething, it is my turn and I woosh through. With my laptop and my belt in my left hand and my backback and jacket in the my right hand (I know that it sounds impossible, but that it how it happened) I ran towards the gate and was the second last person to enter the plane. Just in time!

And then San Francisco... Covered in brownish clouds (ugh). They still haven't fixed the awful sounds on the BART trains, I wonder if people who travel daily with it wear earplugs or get compensation or just go deaf early...

But now everything is fine. The hotel is close to Chinatown, so the food will be good, and I had a walk through the area (more or less randomlay walked from the hotel to the west and to the south and to the east until we came to the water and then back to via the Abraham Lincoln Brigade monument and the Villancount Fountain while lots and lots of water was pouring out from it. Very impressive.

Later this week more.


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Apple iPhone guidelines train lazy programmers

Posted on 2010-05-20 08:00:00
Tags: Apple, iPhone, Objective-C, Rant, Coding

As stated before, I am pretty new to Objective-C programming. Normal C? Not a problem at all! But this object memory management process in Objective-C still gives me a hard time.

The first attempt was simple: I added a lot of NSLog() messages in my dealloc() methods and see which ones I expected to see were not showing up. That were for example all my inherited UIViewControllers... They were not released after they were closed. It is a hard way to do it like this, but it gives you a feel of what you are are really doing wrong.

Then I had a look at the "Leaks" analyze tool in Objective-C (Run -> Analyze -> Leaks) and ran my program. At the end, after a couple of refreshes, it consumed 5 Mb of memory. 5 Mb, is that such a deal? Yes, it is when all the program does is retrieve an XML feed and extracts some data. Oh, and every time it refreshed it lost another huge chunk of memory. Yes, that is a big deal. Luckely the "Leaks" analyze tool tells me which kind of objects it is leaking and when, so you might be able to plug them if you go methodically through the features of your program.... Checking the retainCounters is the way to go.

The next step was to implement a button which terminates the program. Apple doesn't permit you to have apps in their AppStore which have this feature, their usability design is: "If you want to terminate a program, you press the big round Home button at the bottom of the screen.". This breeds lazy programmers, there is no way to properly deallocate all the objects you have. And the excuse you read on the forums about it is "When you terminate your program, the operating system will take care of that.". Absolutely correct, but with some-form-of-multitasking around the corner the current system of "Short living apps won't be able to hog a lot of memory" is over. Plus that it will not show the lazy programmer that he has a serious problem in his code!

And the last tool I thought about was something like a static analysis tool, like Clang (I didn't know this at that moment, and have not used it yet, but it is included in XCode these days). I found a front-end for it called the Analysis Tool at http://www.karppinen.fi/analysistool/ and ran my code through it. Four hundred warnings, and most of them related to objects not being freed.

What I learned from this was: Always "autorelease" the local objects. Assignments increase the retainCounter. Check the retainCounters of the objects you release in your dealloc() methods. Don't trust yourself. And wait for the day that you will be able to see at termination of your program what you have leaked.

To be continued.


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DST is here again!

Posted on 2009-10-04 17:45:00
Tags: Rant, Happiness, DST

For the next six months, we will have DST in large parts of Australia again. The blogosphere is full with people who don't like it (for the right or wrong, the good and dumb reasons) and are under the impression that their opinion on this issue is important. See also Parkinson's Law of Triviality and the example of the Colour of the Bikeshed.

I for one am happy with the extra hour of daylight.
My two children wake up when the sun starts to shine (which was at 05:30 this week, making me wake up two hours before my train leaves for work (my boss doesn't allow me to start earlier)), this will give me a less reasonable time I get woken up. And it gives me one extra hour of sunlight when I come home from work, I can't wait until we have dinner outside again!

Give me the DST time of days all of the year!


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July 2009 was a strange month

Posted on 2009-07-31 06:00:00
Tags: Rant

July 2009 has been an expensive month. We had lots of (unexplained) items broken or malfunctioning. Here is a subset of them:

The good news: We are all still healthy!


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Please don't re-elect Fred Nile, thanks.

Posted on 2009-06-06 13:00:00
Tags: Politics, Rant

Last Thursday a bill got voted down in the New South Wales Upper House. This happens a lot, for various reasons.

The bill, a limitation for not allowing mining to happen within a kilometer from catchment areas, rivers and agricultural areas, was put forward by Lee Rhiannon of the NSW Greens.

As usual, Labour voted against it, the Coalition voted in favour of it and it was up to the votes of Fred Nile (CDP) and two people from the Shooters party. The reason for Fred Nile gave for not supporting the bill was:

"That is why I cannot support this bill. It is not because of the content; it is because the bill will give the Greens greater ability to blow their trumpets and claim a great victory in this State, and give them further political oxygen. During my time in this Parliament I have been working hard to deny political oxygen to the Greens." Fred Nile - 4 May 2009 Parliament of New South Wales, Hansard & Papers, Legislative Council, 4 June 2009

Dude! You're in the NSW Upper House to decide what is best for the people from NSW who elected you, not for playing sad games against people who are sitting in the same room as you are in but who actually are doing what the people who elected them expect from them! You are a sad sad puppy and you will be judged for that.


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Train evacuation due a sick passenger

Posted on 2009-04-29 08:00:00
Tags: CityRail, Rant

Last night when travelling home on the train, we got a message over the intercom saying that the train wouldn't go further than Kogarah because of a sick passenger. Eight carriages, two floors each, 50+ passengers per floor (nine rows of five passengers each, plus standing), that makes 800+ people who had to get out and being distributed over other trains.

When a car brakes down on the Sydney Harbour bridge, or in one of the many tunnels, you are supposed to stay in the car until somebody comes with a pickup truck which will get your car and you away from the bridge or tunnel so that the traffic can keep flowing and that it causes the least delay.

Of the 800 people, about 600 of them had to walk past the sick man, who was laying on the platform and surrounded by at small yellow fence (good idea) and four people with yellow and orange vests, which makes me believe that they were people who understood what was going on. On the way to the other platform I saw two ambulance medics with a stretcher coming down via a lift to the platform, so all went smooth from that side too.

The next two trains going in the direction I wanted to go to were already packed when they arrived at the station (remember this is peak hour) and even more packed when they left the station. When I finally got on the third train, about half an hour after we were told to leave the train, the abandonned train was still standing on the platform.

That really makes me wonder why the policy of Cityrail with regarding to injured passengers is to abandon the train and get everybody to change to, during peak hours, already packed trains. Getting the injured person of the train, in the capable hands of the station personel (oh oh, but Kogarah is a big station) so that the delay for the 800 other people is minimized. Also, he will be spared from the 800 people walking past him who, while he is laying inmobilized on the floor, silently blame him for the delay.


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Riverbed Certified Solutions Professional

Posted on 2009-02-25 09:30:00
Tags: Riverbed, Rant

It seems a long time ago since I've started at Riverbed TAC, but it's only four months (three months if you consider that the original training didn't finish until I was there for four weeks). So far so good, I completed the probation period of three months and this morning I sat for my RCSP exam.

I don't really like the style these exams are being taken in: You get 70 questions, some with one correct answer and some with multiple answers you need to pick. So after 30-45 minutes, you have enough of it and want only to know one thing: Do I have to come back next week or can I not worry about it for the next two years.

But the final result doesn't matter, you are given a list of topics and the percentage of how much of each topic you had correct. So you don't know which ones you had wrong. Or if the ones on which you doubted yourself on were correct or not. It is just a snapshot of how much you know now and if you get a lucky batch of questions you pass. These exams are not for learning from your mistakes, not meant to improve yourself.

Now the good news, I don't have to do it again for another two years!


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Open letter to CityRail / RailCorp

Posted on 2008-11-26 18:00:00
Tags: CityRail, Rant

Customer Relations Unit RailCorp
PO Box K349
Haymarket NSW 1238

Edwin Groothuis
159 Caringbah road
Caringbah NSW 2229

26 November 2008

Dear CityRail representative,

My name is Edwin Groothuis and since I've moved to Sydney in early 2002, I have always used the train as matter of transport for my travel to work. Over the years I must have spend some sixteen thousand dollars on weekly passes alone between Cronulla, Woolloware or Cronulla and the city or North Sydney, plus hundreds of dollars for travels in the weekends with the family.

I am an advocate of the train, I have defended the system against unfair attacks of colleagues or people on stations when a train has been delayed, I have signed petitions for the duplication of the Cronulla track, for the improvement of Woolloware station, against the closure of the CountryLink office at Cronulla station and for the planned cyclist-track between Sutherland station and Cronulla station. And for my daughter I got a CityRail bib (they were for free, but that didn't make it less special for me).

You won't hear me complain in the public about the quality and cleanliness of the trains (which is pretty good), about the time-table (which is pretty good too) or about the lack of space for people in the rush hours after Sutherland station (I just have started my day an hour earlier and escaped the rush). All with all I am pretty happy about this.

Yesterday in the train on my way home to Cronulla, just before Central station, I got a call from my wife panicing about an accident with her car and about my daughter of 14 months who had fallen over at the Strathfield bus exchange. Not really knowing what the real damage was, but knowing that letting her drive home would alone could be a very dangerous thing, I decided to change my destination to Strathfield to see what needing to be done.

Having only a weekly ticket between Cronulla and Leonards Point (for some reason there are no weekly tickets for between Caringbah and North Sydney), I decided to do what I normally do: Go to the gate, talk to the CityRail man or lady in blue about the unexpected detour I had to make and buy a single ticket for the distance which needed to be covered. I don't make a fuzz about the fact that the ticket I had could have, monetary-wise, gotten me all the way from the other side of Parramatta to my work, I normally just buy the ticket and be over with it. After all, I like the system and want to be fair with regarding to the services offered. And in the last seven years this was never a problem: "You are willing to pay? There is the counter!".

Yesterday however, I found a brown shirted transit officer on my path. After seeing me having talked to the CityRail lady at the gate and on my way to the counter, he asked me for my ticket. I showed him my weekly ticket, explained to him about the unexpected detour, that I talked to the CityRail lady and that the counter was my next stop. He didn't believe me, or didn't want to believe me, didn't want to talk to the CityRail lady and insisted that I should have left the station at Redfern, should have bought a new ticket and should have entered the station again. He wouldn't change his mind and didn't want to talk to the CityRail lady.

I could have lied to the CityRail lady that I just wanted to cross the station or I could have just pushed the gate open and let myself go through. These things happen in Strathfield station, and I hope that the people who do that get what they deserve. But I choose to be open and honest about what has happened and the CityRail representative at the gate had understanding about it, but the brown shirted transit officer clearly didn't. And so I ended up with a 200 dollar fine for being honest and for wanting to do the right thing.

I wasn't the drunk on the train who was aggressive towards other travelers, I wasn't the cigarette smoking girl, I wasn't in the loud group of teens drinking, I didn't damage the chairs, I didn't paint on the walls, I didn't have my feet on the seats and I didn't throw rubbish on the floor... I was on my way to pay for the ticket.

A false positive. A failure to make the railroad system safer. A bad stain on the shirt of the CityRail men and women. A miss out on the real issues the CityRail system has to deal with. And, worst of all, a slap in the face of one of your customers.

Two hundred dollars, that is five weekly tickets from my home to my work. That is sixty tickets to the beach for my daughter and me. That is sixteen trips to the city for my family. That is two hundred dollars of money I am not going to spend on CityRail services.

And that is why this behaviour of the brown shirted transit officer is so sad: It is CityRail which is going to miss out on it, it is the CityRail image damaged here. And for somebody who advocates the train system, that is a very sad thing. The fine is not going to change my behaviour towards being a better train-citizen, because I already have been doing that for the last seven years.

I hope that the brown shirted transit officers go back to the job they are supposed to do: Overseeing the train, helping the travelers, taking care of the people. Their current roles of standing at the gates of stations where they harass travelers who want to do the right thing is not what the CityRail needs.

Sincerely,

Edwin Groothuis
Fine number 3014794045

Update: On the 15th of December I got a letter from CityRail / RailCorp saying that:

after a full review of all the circumstances of this matter, RailCorp has decided to withdraw the penalty notice and issue a caution on this occasion.
Yay! I take Hanorah and Dirkie to the beach this weekend. By train!


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Friday the 13th

Posted on 2008-10-03 15:00:00
Tags: Rant, Computers

The only thing missing which would explain everything is the date of when this all happened: It wasn't Friday the 13th...

Yesterday at noon I asked OfficeWorks to scan in and copy my employee contract with the new company I am going to work for (you don't know yet? You will soon). Nothing too fancy I thought. But when I picked up the paperwork, I was missing the original of my employee contract... Yes, that is the most important part of it I thought. Twenty minutes later they found it, it was still laying in one of the drawers of one of the copiers. On my way home, I found out in the chaos that they hadn't returned my USB stick with the scanned in documents neither...

When I was home, I got an urgent phonecall to not leave the house because the love-of-my-life had forgotten her keys. Assuming that she was on her way back, I stayed in the garden... a little bit longer than normal on the toilet... I watched a TV show... Cleaned up the garage a little bit... And two hours later she finally came home.

In the evening, Dirkie insisted in not eating anything from his plate. But he was very keen on having pasta, noodles, sprinkles, vegimite, sausage etc. So one and an hour later he ate the tiniest piece of bread of his plate, nearly choked on it so bad did it taste and finally was allowed to leave the table.

Normally when the two children are in bed, I have time to do things. Not today, not today. I made myself a nice cup of tea and Naomi came into the room with Hanorah on her arm saying that the little one had thrown up. I've been babies bringing up a lot of different kind of foods and in a vast varity of amounts, but this was really a new record... So I had to change the bed sheet, the sheet under it, the donah cover and turn the mattrass around...

Half an hour later, Hanorah back to bed and I try to stay awake to figure out what has happened in the virtual world of the FreeBSD community. Except that the last line of the screen of my computer said "INSERT BOOT DISK OR PRESS ENTER TO REBOOT". Rebooting resulted in a dreaded tick-tick-tick of the harddisk and the same message. We'll find out tomorrow what has happened here, it has RAID1 somewhere in the BIOS and I never got an alert from that that it didn't work.

Luckely I was too tired to worry about it, otherwise I would not have slept and would have been even more tired than I am now.

In the morning, I disconnect the two disks from the RAID1 array and hooked them up one by one to find out which one was the broken one. Finding the broken one is simple, just listen to the tick-tick-tick. Booting the correct one, that hasn't been accomplished yet...

Off to the shop and buy a bunch of new disks, and this time we'll use the FreeBSD Geom Mirror software! A bargain, 500Gb disks for AU$ 99.- and 1Tb disks for AU$ 199.-. And at home, I found out that one of them didn't work, it showed up as 32Gb in the BIOS, and that the other one worked fine. Back to the shop only to find out that they don't have other 1Tb disks...

So worst case I lost all my unread mail (YAY!), all my BarNet related software (which could be a good thing considering I don't do software development for them anymore) [this sounds like my computer wanted to make a clean start too!], all my RSS feeds and all my Seamonkey bookmarks and saved passwords (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAI). Plus my FreeBSD checked-out Subversion trees with all the patches I have submitted in the last year but have not been commited yet.

For the good thing: I finally will move to a different window manager, because fvwm95 is getting a little bit old (hey, it's 2008 :-) For now I will use vtwm and I hope I can get the control-left-right-up-and-down to work to change virtual desktops.

In the mean time, if you have a hardware RAID solution: MAKE SURE IT WORKS!


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Cisco and the curse of the IOS Syntax for VLANs

Posted on 2008-09-06 11:00:00
Tags: Networking, Rant, Cisco

When Cisco Systems started, the world of networking was simple, there were routers and there were hubs. Routers connected to other routers and hubs, hubs connected to one router and computers. Each interface on the router was its own LAN, its own IP subnet (Unless you used the interface for SNA, DECNet, IPX, AppleTalk or briding only). And the configuration on the routers made sense:

interface serial0
  ip address 192.168.1.1 255.255.255.0
!
interface ethernet0
  ip address 192.168.2.1 255.255.255.0

Over time, hubs got replaced by switches. Coax cables got replaced by cat5 cables. Seperate routers and switches got integrated and people started to think in VLANs instead of router interfaces. And this is where the Cisco IOS syntax went wrong: They kept talking about router interfaces instead of LANs.

For example, to create a new VLAN an Extreme Networks switch/router or a Riverstone / Cabletron switch/router (does anybody remember them?), you create the VLAN (you give it a name, not just an index number) add the IP subnet to the VLAN, add a tag to the VLAN and add (finally!) the ports, tagged or untagged, to the VLAN. So you have a VLAN, and it has the VLAN tag and IP address properties, and it has one or more ports in it. Port specific properties (speed, duplex, label) are configured in the ports section.

create vlan "backbone"
configure vlan backbone tag 2
configure vlan backbone add ports 4 tagged  
configure vlan backbone add ports 5 untagged  
configure vlan backbone ipaddress 10.128.7.1/28
[...]
configure ports 4 display-string fibre-to-dc1
configure ports 4 auto off speed 100 duplex full 
configure ports 5 display-string natgw
As you can see, this is readable and this is logical.

Now let's see how it goes on the Cisco switch/router. It calls both the physical and logical ports and the VLAN definitions "interfaces", so there is no hierarchical approach of obvious difference between them:

interface ethernet0/1
  description fibre-to-dc1
  switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
  switchport trunk allowed vlan 2
  switchport mode trunk
  duplex full
  spanning-tree portfast
!
interface ethernet0/2
  description natgw
  switchport mode access
  switchport access vlan 2
  spanning-tree portfast
!
interface vlan 2
  description backbone
  ip address 10.128.7.1 255.255.255.240
Let's see, vlan 2 is euhm... on ethernet0/2 and on ethernet0/1 (maybe on others too, I couldn't find it so fast in the configuration), ethernet0/2 is the access network so it is untagged but it sits in vlan 2 and ethernet0/1 is full-duplex and has vlan 2 on the trunk so it must be tagged.

So the definition of VLANs in the IOS Syntax has become more of a hack without hierarchical approach to the issue than a proper style of hierarchical definition of the VLANs, its properties and the ports in it. Instead of the above, it could have gotten its own section:

interface ethernet0/1
  description fibre-to-dc1
  duplex full
  spanning-tree portfast
!
interface ethernet0/2
  description natgw
  spanning-tree portfast
!
vlan 2
  description backbone
  ip address 10.128.7.1 255.255.255.240
  untagged ethernet0/2
  tagged ethernet0/1

Can this issue be resolved and the IOS Syntax replaced by a proper syntax in which you can define a VLAN and its properties readable and logically? Asking the question is answering it: Of course. But will it ever happen? I hope it, because the current syntax is very error-prone. But I doubt it, since it is there already for years and hundreds of thousands of devices do use this syntax. Having people to change all of these configurations isn't something Cisco would want to do.


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APNIC IPv6 training

Posted on 2008-05-01 09:00:00, modified on 2008-06-01 09:00:00
Tags: IPv6, Trains, Rant, Memories

The coming two days I'll be at the IPv6 Workshop of APNIC. Of course this workshop is in the middle of nowhere, which is impossible for a Sydney based event so let me rephrase it: It is held in a non-central location unreachable by train. The options? Take the train to the city (one hour) and then the bus (one hour) or take the train to Parramatta (1.5 hours) and take a taxi from there.

But the good news is: thanks to the speed of the Cronulla / Bondi train this morning I was able to catch one train earlier at Redfern, and that one only stops at Strathfield, Lidcombe, Granville and Parramatta, which will save me some hassles... I hope :-)

On the sideline, I checked out when my first IPv6 capable program was created: It was the Fatal Dimensions Mud server and the commit date was 29 April 2000, eight years ago. The IPv6 connection came via FreeNet6 in Canada and that was a IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnel. Thanks to my FreeBSD port of their tunnel software I got a tshirt from them!

Update: That taxi took half an hour to get there....


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Extreme Poker

Posted on 2007-10-05 09:00:00
Tags: Rant, Sports

Playing poker on top of a mountain? Playing poker under water? Playing poker in the freezing cold of Finland? Give me a break.

Poker games broadcasted on television is the most boring and useless filling of time. Nothing happens, nothing at all. Compare broadcasts of lawn bownling with broadcasts of poker and you would think that lawn bowling has the same excitement and entertainment value as soccer games have.

Extreme Lawn Bowling... Now that's something worth investigating (NOT)


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Microsoft Windows TCP/IP Stack Behaviour

Posted on 2007-06-21 09:00:00, modified on 2007-06-21 14:00:00
Tags: Networking, Rant, TCP-IP stack, Windows

Recently I had to redo the design of the machine with our public websites, and after an earlier successful implementation of virtualisation with FreeBSD jails, I decided to put them all in their own private jail, with their own public IP address, too.

Since I'm a firm believer in "eat your own stuff" and my website was on the list of sites to be moved, I decided to do that one first. The IP range we have for it was 202.83.176.0/24, and since the first half of it was already in use by other services, I started to go down from 255.

To make life easier for us, we use a lot of dynamic routing in our network. Also with jails: They're defined on the loopback interfaces and the subnet masks are all /32's. The combination of these two should make it easy to move them around if necessary without having to worry about physical machines and subnets and DNS.

So, we have this new webserver (my webserver, so somehow important to me) on 202.83.176.255 and it seems to work fine. I can access it from inside the network, I can access it from outside the network, I see webbrowsers and spiders connecting to it. Life is good!

Except... I get reports from people saying that they can't get to my website, that there is some kind of DNS error: Cannot find server or DNS error is what Internet Explorer tells them. I ask them: "Can you ping the machine? "No that's not workin." "Can you telnet to it?" "No, it says Connect failed.". I don't see anything in the logs, I don't see anything on the network. No idea what goes wrong here...

Finally I get the same message from friends who have elite skillz in the ancient arts of ping, traceroute, telnet and tcpdump (Hi dvl, koitsu!). And we start trying: Yes, we can ping 202.83.176.255, so there is nothing wrong on the end-to-end network layer. No, we can't ping 202.83.176.255, but I saw their ICMP packets on the webserver. From inside the jail, I can connect to their hosts, so there is nothing wrong with TCP sessions. We advertise a /21 to the world, so it won't be a network boundary problem. One of them can connect to the webserver (He's running FreeBSD), and one of them cannot (He's running Windows), I see the packets of the first, but not the packets of the second (whose ICMP packets I saw). Then the one with FreeBSD tries it with his Windows machine and he can't suddenly anymore. I think we narrowed the problem down to one thing: Microsoft Windows (Ouch, it did it again).

We do more tests: On the Windows machine, we cannot ping 202.83.176.255 (but I see the ICMP packets. We cannot setup a TCP session to it (and I don't seen any TCP packets). We can ping 202.83.176.254, and we can setup a TCP session to it. Now put one and one together....

Historically, 202.83.176.255 is in a class C subnet, going from 202.83.176.0 to 202.83.176.255. These days, with Classless Inter-Domain Routing, that subnet can be split in many little subnets, or be part of a supernet. Somehow, Windows still thinks in classfull subnets (You can see it with the default subnetmask it suggests when you configure an IP address on a network interface). And it prohibits TCP traffic halfway in the IP stack traffic to that IP address. To test this, we tried the following on the Window machines:

That explains a little bit...

But still:

Anyway, the webserver now runs on 202.83.176.248 and Windows machines are happy again.

See also the thread at DSL Reports.com.

Update: The problem is confirmed in Windows2000, Windows2003 and Windows XP. Vista handles the ICMP and TCP packets as expected.


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So much for a nice hierarchy...

Posted on 2007-06-13 17:00:00
Tags: Rant, DNS

Over the past years, I've created a nice hierarchy in DNS to keep my insanity under control. For example, for the POP server we have (pop.barnet) which points with a CNAME to pop2.barnet which point with a CNAME to the dbmail2.barnet jail which point with an A record to the IP addresses of the machine:

pop     60      IN      CNAME   pop2
pop2            IN      CNAME   dbmail2
dbmail2         IN      A       202.83.178.99
So if the machine fails, or the dbmail jail doesn't work anymore, or the dbmail-pop3 program is broken, all we have to do is one little changes in the hierarchy and it is all working again, without disrupting the real operation of the machine.

Since earlier this month we don't have one, but two POP servers! And of course the easiest solution would be: Let pop.barnet be a CNAME to both pop1.barnet and pop2.barnet.

pop     60      IN      CNAME   pop1
pop     60      IN      CNAME   pop2
pop1            IN      CNAME   dbmail1
pop2            IN      CNAME   dbmail2
dbmail1         IN      A       202.83.178.88
dbmail2         IN      A       202.83.178.99
And there starts the trouble:
Jun 13 16:17:24 ns0 named[3106]: dns_master_load: .db/barnet.com.au:203: pop.barnet.com.au: multiple RRs of singleton type
Well, I'm (!)@*#()!@*#'d. This is not allowed... Now I have, because it can't be done any different, reintroduced A records for the services....
pop     60      IN      A	202.83.178.88	; pop1
pop     60      IN      A	202.83.178.99	; pop2
pop1            IN      CNAME   dbmail1
pop2            IN      CNAME   dbmail2
dbmail1         IN      A       202.83.178.88
dbmail2         IN      A       202.83.178.99

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The height of the MLC centre.

Posted on 2007-01-12 20:05:54, modified on 2007-01-12 20:32:25
Tags: Rant

We are planning a new radio link between the StJames Hall Building and the MLC centre. The MLC centre is high, very high.

With the distance between the buildings (150 meters), and the height of the SJH building (50 meters), and the height of the MLC centre (unknown at this moment), I know the angle the radio link has to make.

So I went to the reception of the MLC centre, who told me that building management would know the answer. So I went to level 9 where building management is, and I spoke to Jones Lang LaSalle. Nice guy, but totally obsessed about security. He didn't want to tell me the information without knowing what we were going to do. So I told him. Then he wanted to have a letter from the floor we were trying to hook up, because the data required was sensitive information. And of course the standard line "as you can understand, we can't give that sensitive information" came up. What!??!?!? Luckely I could find the required information on the internet...

So, for people who want to know how high the MLC centre is: 228 meters high.

Sources are:

228 meters! 228 meters! 228 meters! I hope they don't link this entry to my Dutch Terrorism activities. 228 meters is the height of the MLC centre!


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Election auctioning

Posted on 2006-10-29 15:01:46, modified on 2006-10-29 15:05:16
Tags: Rant, Politics

Labour: We will employ 600 extra police men and women.
Liberals: We will employ 700 extra police men and women.
Labour: We will employ 750 extra police men and women.
Liberals: We will employ 800 extra police men and women.
Labour: We will employ 850 extra police men and women and we will give them a water cannon!
Liberals: We will employ 850 extra police men and women and we will give them two water cannons!

Going once... going twice...


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Dumb DNS setup of the week

Posted on 2006-06-16 11:01:52, modified on 2006-06-16 11:12:42
Tags: Networking, Rant, DNS

One of our users complained that the LawLink website (http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au) was very slow. I checked our traffic report webpage, and it looked fine. But why didn't it work for him? The problem lies in DNS:

[~] edwin@k7>dig lawlink.nsw.gov.au ns
;; ANSWER SECTION:
lawlink.nsw.gov.au.     80018   IN      NS      ns.magna.com.au.
lawlink.nsw.gov.au.     80018   IN      NS      kettle.magna.com.au.
;; ADDITIONAL SECTION:
ns.magna.com.au.        79883   IN      A       203.111.0.10
kettle.magna.com.au.    79887   IN      A       203.111.0.13

Looks fine... FIrst nameserver

[~] edwin@k7>dig @ns1.lawlink.nsw.gov.au www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au a
;; ANSWER SECTION:
www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au. 0       IN      A       203.3.176.80

Besides a TTL of 0 which is very strange, this one works fine. Next one!

[~] edwin@k7>dig @ns2.lawlink.nsw.gov.au www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au a
;; connection timed out; no servers could be reached

Unreachable! Now it starts to make sense.

Due to the TTL of 0, which means that the answer never gets cached, and half of the advertised DNS servers unreachable, it will take some time to get an answer for the hostname www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au.

Typical case of having your domains hosted by somebody who has zero clue about how DNS works. Way to go Magna Data!


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Why the Samsung SGH-D600 sucks

Posted on 2006-02-17 14:34:25, modified on 2006-02-17 15:32:01
Tags: Rant, Mobile phones

The D600 is a nice looking phone, but it's user interface has some bad design issues.


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I'm watching no more commercial television from now on

Posted on 2006-01-17 08:54:40, modified on 2006-01-17 10:40:33
Tags: Rant, Mass Media

As the saying goes, the content on commercial television station is to fill up the time between commercials. And I've seen some sad examples of this here in Australia.

Australian Television

On free-to-air television in Australia you have seven channels:

With the rise of digital television, the ABC and SBS have taken the opportunity to improve the variaty of their content by taken a second, digital only, channel. The other channels are just re-broadcasting their normal channel.

And now the rant

The source for my decision, and this rant, lies in a single movie I tried to watch: The Battle of Britain. It's a historical movie, an old movie, slow in acting and in progress of the storyline, But it's a movie I wanted to watch because of the change in my cultural environment. Like I said, it's a slow movie, taking 45 minutes what these days gets pushed in 10 minutes of lousy acting and bad camera work. But these 45 minutes get interrupted by at least four commercials, taking you out of the careful orchestrated mood of looming battles and the upcoming darkness to a happy world of home loans, end-of-year sales and dieting products. At that moment the mood is totally scattered. After the first commercial you try to get into the magic of the movie again, but something is missing. The darkness doesn't come back so black, the upcoming battles don't seem to be so serious. Next commercial, and you wonder how many of them will be there before the end of the movie, and more importantly, how much more damage they will do to the movie. Next commercial, and the TV was turned off...

How can the commercial television stations ruin movies like this without getting serious problems with their conscience?


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Feedback, going to try it again

Posted on 2006-01-09 16:36:04, modified on 2006-01-09 16:37:05
Tags: Rant, Spam

A new year, a new attempt for feedback!

To see how spammy the weblogging world is these days, I've enabled comments again.


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MS-RPC spam!

Posted on 2005-04-19 22:34:41, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:23
Tags: Networking, Rant, Spam

I was doing some network traces yesterday, and found these in my logs. Destination host is a Cisco 2821.

After spam via email, spam via instant messaging and spam via voice-over-ip, the next big thing is.... spam via the MS-RPC protocol! Check the following network traces:

U 61.235.154.101:57710 -> 202.83.178.14:1027
..(.......................{Z........O...,....."'..m...-.....................................SECURITY....................ALERT.......................Microsoft Windows has encounted an Internal Error
Your windows registry is corrupted.
Microsoft recommends an immediate system scan.
visit 
http://e-regfix.com
to repair.
.
#
U 61.152.158.123:32780 -> 202.83.178.14:1026
..(.......................{Z........O.....P.|../.E..n..,..................i.................SECURITY....................ALERT...........%.......%...SECURITY ALERT :  Windows has detected 10 Spyware programs installed on your computer!

Spyware causes pop up messages , tracks your online activities and displays advertisements.
Your Anti-Virus and Firewall will not remove Spyware.
Visit:  www.antieye.com  for free removal information!
.

Bunch of sad-sad-sad persons....


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Broken Mailserver Software

Posted on 2004-10-25 16:39:16, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:22
Tags: Computers, Networking, Email, Rant, SMTP

Recently we implemented so called greylisting on our mail servers. This means that all incoming SMTP sessions with the following new combinations of sending mail server IP address, sender email address and recipient email address gets temporary rejected (SMTP error code 450, meaning: try again later).

From RFC2821: 4yz: Transient Negative Completion reply

The command was not accepted, and the requested action did not occur. However, the error condition is temporary and the action may be requested again. The sender should return to the beginning of the command sequence (if any). It is difficult to assign a meaning to "transient" when two different sites (receiver- and sender-SMTP agents) must agree on the interpretation. Each reply in this category might have a different time value, but the SMTP client is encouraged to try again. A rule of thumb to determine whether a reply fits into the 4yz or the 5yz category (see below) is that replies are 4yz if they can be successful if repeated without any change in command form or in properties of the sender or receiver (that is, the command is repeated identically and the receiver does not put up a new implementation.)

This saves us about 99% of the incoming spam and viruses and is a relief for our mailboxes and the email virusscanners.

Now the bad news, there are some very brain-dead SMTP servers on the internet...

And guess what? They all run on MS Windows. Who had expected that?

Here is the list of them:

MailMax from SmartMax Software Inc.. When receiving an 450, they bounce the mail back to the sender. And this is the error message they are getting:

The 'To' address xxx@barnet.com.au was rejected by the remote server.

This is permanent error, and the message will not be retried any further.

Which mailserver was it talking to? What was the full error message? What was the error code? And why do you say it's a permanent error while it was a transient error? BRAIN DEAD!

And they claim on their website:

IMPORTANT: Codes that start with 4 and 5 are the ones that tell you that your message won't be sent until you find and fix the problem.
You! Yes you! You should fix the problem, and not the other side, or the MailMax mail server.

Update: With their latest version *version 5.5), at least the error messages are better:

Sorry, your message from <xxx@smartmax.com> to <xxx@barnet.com.au> could not be delivered. The specific error is: 450 <xxx@barnet.com.au>: Recipient address rejected: BarNet Engineered Transit Delay -- 39 seconds

This is permanent error, and the message will not be retried any further.

Still it's a 'permanent' error, but at least it's visible for the person the email was returned to that they interpreted it wrongly.

Another Update

Sorry, your message from <xxx@smartmax.com> to <xxx@barnet.com.au> could not be delivered. The specific error is: 450 <xx@barnet.com.au>: Recipient address rejected: BarNet Engineered Transit Delay -- 45 seconds 2 attempts will be made to re-send your e-mail. Each attempt will be 3 hours apart.

That's much better! Everybody upgrade to the latest version!


CapeSoft Mailer by CapeSoft. It also immediately bounces the email without retrying. BRAINDEAD!


Bigpond.com by Telstra

This is all the attempt of Telstra (Australian ISP) to handle SMTP sessions with a 450 status:

Oct 29 16:17:56 mag postfix/smtpd[10870]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from gizmo06ps.bigpond.com[144.140.71.41]: 450 <xxx@barnet.com.au>: Recipient address rejected: BarNet Engineered Transit Delay -- 45 seconds; from=<xxx@bigpond.com>, to=<xxx@barnet.com.au> proto=SMTP helo=<gizmo06ps.bigpond.com>

That's all: one attempt. And the sender doesn't get an "Your email has failed" message. BRAINDEAD!


InterMail from Openwave Systems Inc..

It doesn't retry at all. (experienced with ozemail.com.au)


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How many IP addresses?

Posted on 2004-08-14 16:44:13, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:21
Tags: Rant

How many IP address do I have to ban from posting comments on my weblog before these spammers have been stopped? In the last week, I have banned 47 different IP addresses from making comments. And all the links they are posting are pointing to the same website. It's a sad sad sad world.


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Are you living on the address I'm calling?

Posted on 2004-08-07 12:42:55, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:22
Tags: Telemarketing, Rant

A telemarketer called, wanted to know if I would be interested in answering some questions with regarding to a new TV program. Being a vivid fan of the Australian ABC and SBS, I wouldn't let this opportunity pass.

The first question was easy: Are you the main buyer of grocery in this household? I am not, but didn't want to waste this chance, so I answered with a "yes". Now came the annoying part, where he explains to me that his supervisor can listen to the telephone conversation etc etc etc. We all know this by now, this disclaimer is getting old and annoying.

And then the question which started all the confusion: Are you living on the address I'm calling? I asked him to tell me the address, but he didn't get it. I told him to tell what the address was he was calling, and I would tell him if it was the right one. Again silence. After some seconds and a polite "Thank you for your time" I heard nothing from him anymore.

Did I blow an opportunity to help the ABC and SBS? Of course not, they just broadcast the programs without doing a lot of pre-marketing-research. Not bothered by commercial interests, they show the facts as they are. And if a show doesn't get a good rating, they don't pull it halfway the series. Long live public broadcasting!


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Politically Correct is wrong?

Posted on 2004-06-07 11:12:52, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:22
Tags: Rant, Politics

Prime Minister John Howard has accused the ABC of running a "politically correct agenda" ...

Getting to hear that kind of accusation from our PM really makes me wonder in what dreamworld he's living in.


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The Imperial System vs the Metric System

Posted on 2004-05-22 11:53:25, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:21
Tags: Rant

Today somebody tried to convince me that the Imperial system for measuring sizes was much better "because you could easily divide distances by 3". His example was cutting a wooden plank in three equal size pieces. Read on to see where his ideas are flawed.

Dividing objects in equal parts only works if the objects are properly pre-measured. For example I can split 100 marbles into 10 groups, because 100 divided by 10 doesn't have any leftovers.

For the same reason I can split 2 wooden planks into 2 groups, each of one plank.

But then... splitting one object is more difficult. For example, cutting an apple (pretty solid material) in half leaves you with two more-or-less half-apple pieces. And some leftover apple-juice on your knife. So you actually splitted it in three pieces: two nearly-half-apple-pieces and an some-juice-piece.

Now back to the plank. You measure it up, it's one yard. Since one yard is 36 inches, dividing it into three pieces would make every piece 12 inches. Take a measure tape, mark the plank at 12 inch and at 24 inch. And start sawing, trying to stick to the marks you've set as good as possible.

At the end, you end up with: one piece a little bit smaller than 12 inch, one piece two little bits smaller than 12 inch, another piece a little bit smaller than 12 inch and some saw dust.

In the metric system, it's the same idea. You get a plank of one meter, mark it somewhere between 32.25 and 33.5 centimeters and somewhere between 66.5 and 66.75 centimeters and start sawing, also here trying to stick to the marks you've set as good as possible.

At the end, you end up with: one piece about 33.3 centimeters, one piece just not yet 33.3 centimeters, another piece about 33.3 centimeters and some saw dust.

Moral of the story: either with the Imperial or the Metric system, you don't end up with three equal pieces because a. the mark you've set is always too wide to be exactly on 1/3rd of the size and b. you're losing material due to the sawing.

In areas where you do need to be as precise as you can be, people don't use normal rulers anymore but use the more precise caliper (dutch: schuifmaat) and they don't use a plank of one meter or yard to start with but one which is just a little bit bigger so they take the loss of sawing into account.

And remember, if a plank is sawn and is just a little bit too big, you can easily shave it a little bit off with a plane (dutch: houtschaaf).


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Why there are standards...

Posted on 2003-11-25 14:18:03, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:21
Tags: Networking, Rant

There is an old joke: The great thing about standards is there are so many to choose from.. This log is not about that but more about the point that if you stick to a standard you should implement it properly.

Comindico is one of the australian providers for dialin services. If you are an ISP the workflow goes like this: An user dials in to a Comindico terminal server, that terminal server asks the Comindico radius server for authentication, that radius server asks your radius server for authentication and the yes or no goes back the whole way to the terminal server which either lets you in or disconnects you. Works fine in theory, and mostly in real life too.

Your radius server can give more information to the Comindico radius server, for example an IP address and subnet mask. An maximum session time limit and your DNS servers. It all works fine, as long as you keep in mind that you take the right attributes and dictionary.

Comindico says "Please use Ascend-Client-Primary-DNS and Ascend-Client-Secondary-DNS for this". They are defined in the Ascend dictionary (number 529) as attributes number 135 and 136.

Except in the radius server from Comindico, there they are in the default dictionary.

With the result that their broken radius doesn't understand my perfectly legal answer with all the information in it. And I have to put these attributes in my default dictionary, where they will be overwritten the moment I update my software and the whole system will come apart if the IANA ever approves attributes 135 and 136 in the default dictionary.

Moral of the story: If you use an open standard, use it the way it was intended to be and don't invite your own wrapper around it.


This whole story wouldn't have been here if I wasn't reminded about this whole drama by the move to a new ADSL provider which is nothing more or less than a reseller of the Comindico ADSL services. Once we finally had the authentication of our users working, we couldn't get the DNS servers configured correctly because they haven't figured out the story above yet. If ever.


Standard compliant radius packet:

13:30:56.513559 172.16.1.10.1812 > 192.168.1.14.4738: rad-access-accept 62 [id 68]
Attr[ Framed_ipaddr{203.111.122.2} Framed_ipnet{255.255.255.255}
Vendor_specific{........X.} Vendor_specific{........X.}
Session_timeout{168:00:00 hours} ]
0x0000   4500 005a bba3 0000 3f11 b8ae dab9 580a        E..Z....?.....X.
0x0010   cb6f 090e 0714 1282 0046 0eb6 0244 003e        .o.......F...D.>
0x0020   6224 b0bb d92e 341e 14dd e2c2 b0ce abde        b$....4.........
0x0030   0806 cb6f 7a02 0906 ffff ffff 1a0c 0000        ...oz...........
0x0040   0211 8806 dab9 5801 1a0c 0000 0211 8706        ......X.........
0x0050   dab9 580e 1b06 0009 3a80                       ..X.....:.

Comindico compliant radius packet:

13:28:51.958102 172.16.1.10.1812 > 192.168.1.14.4738: rad-access-accept 50 [id 67]
Attr[ Framed_ipaddr{203.111.122.2} Framed_ipnet{255.255.255.255}#136#135
Session_timeout{168:00:00 hours} ]
0x0000   4500 004e f27a 0000 3f11 81e3 dab9 580a        E..N.z..?.....X.
0x0010   cb6f 090e 0714 1282 003a a842 0243 0032        .o.......:.B.C.2
0x0020   c1a0 ac29 4931 4fbf 3440 7714 9d52 c3ea        ...)I1O.4@w..R..
0x0030   0806 cb6f 7a02 0906 ffff ffff 8806 dab9        ...oz...........
0x0040   5801 8706 dab9 580e 1b06 0009 3a80             X.....X.....:.

Spot the difference. And be afraid.


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Spammers are abusing mavetju.org

Posted on 2003-11-23 22:36:36, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:21
Tags: Rant, Spam

Since the last two weeks I have been receiving email bounces with somerandomstring@mavetju.org as source address.


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Aliens of Mars vs Michael Jackson

Posted on 2003-11-18 19:00:00, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:21
Tags: Radio, Rant

What is news, what is entertainment?

Emmanuel Goldstein in Off The Wall on 18 November 2003: You know what this means? It doesn't matter what happens in the rest of the world for the next six months at least. It's gonna be Michael Jackson this that everywhere. Aliens landing from Mars? You can do that in the entertainment section, you have to deal with Michael Jackson in the second and third news story.


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Airport-insecurity in the USA

Posted on 2002-04-02 08:26:40, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:21
Tags: Rant

After 11/09/2001, the security at airports has increased a lot. Instead of just X-raying your luggage at the moment you pass a security line (often customs and at the gates just before you enter the plane), everybody now get a full search of your bag and are swiped with a wand.

Well, the above story goes for airports outside the USA (remember where the planes took off?). Everybody I've been talking to was fully checked and wanded on Schiphol Airport (the Netherlands), Charles de Gaul (France) and Sydney Airport (Australia).

Where our hand luggage wasn't fully checked and we weren't wanded was... in the USA! At the San Francisco (SFO) and New York JFK Airport (JFK), only a handfull of people were fully checked (lots of Middle-Eastern faces in that row). For the rest, nobody cared.

To make the story even worse for the airport security: My wife (an australian citizen) and I (a dutch citizen) bought our airplane tickets "cash" (Cash as in: not per credit card, but with a direct-debit card). That was bad thing number 1. I, with my dutch passport, bought a plane ticket in Australia to go to the USA. Bad thing number 2. Enough reasons to put a big S on my tickets. I could be a terrorist...

At the check-in at the airport in Sydney, the woman told me that I had a S on my ticket and that I would get checked before going into the plane. But since everybody got wanded and checked, it wasn't anything unusual. At the check-in in SFO and JFK I asked them about the S also and they said "no, no, all the additional checks are random". It would turn out to be very random: I got checked three out of three times, because I had a S on my ticket. My wife, who didn't have an S on her ticket, didn't get checked once in the USA.

After the first inter-USA trip we decided to speed up the process a little and that at the entrance of the gate she would carry the hand-luggage. Great idea, although it gave a couple of weird faces to the guards. But then, they didn't have to worry about it, they only had to check me, not my wife. One time even, while standing in the line to be checked, I realized I had a handfull of dollar-cent coins in my pocket and that the wand probabaly wouldn't like them. So I handed them over to my wife. Yes, while standing in the line to be checked for weapons.

So yeah... outside the USA all pigs are equal. But inside the USA? (Anybody remember where to WTC-planes have taken off?)


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