Thursday, November 1, 2001

Advogato Entry 207

Bah. Text editors have a tendency to go too far in n directions at once. I like the quick startup associated with vi-like editors, though the various modes are a little confusing. If I'm not in insert mode, I often accidentally do something strange (like paste in a huge chunk of stuff). I prefer a better distinction between `command mode' and `edit mode'

I think I would have gotten along with PC DOS's editor really well if I'd had more time to play with it before I went completely to Linux.



SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN: We interrupt this column with the latest on the Anthrax scare. The band is currently touring the continental U.S., last seen in a nightclub outside Des Moines, terrorizing citizens with their savage brand of speed metal. Rumors of Anthrax visiting the White House are unsubstantiated, but one inside source said, "I'd sure like to see them tour with Bush." At which point several Secret Service men wrestled him to the ground, bitchslapped him, and detained him for "making threats to the President." We now return to the column already in progress.

Friday, November 2, 2001

Advogato Entry 208

We've been having some strange network problems here at work. Turns out that our main router hasn't been updated. Ever. The warranty even ran out in 1998. Anyway, my boss (the main Unix guy here) is working with someone. I think he's probably a Rent-a-Guru from on campus, so hopefully he's not completely milking us for money ;-)

Our main networking guy is out of town for a few weeks. Looks like he's barely held things together. Not that he had the best setup when he came in -- we have a very strange network configuration that was set up when the building went up. Our netmask is Addresses go from x.y.112.0 to x.y.119.0. The network is pretty well flooded with Windows systems advertising their presence, along with IPX traffic and other fun stuff.

We've been looking into the possibility of putting our servers behind a firewall of some kind, but that would require splitting off a new subnet. That would require a huge revamp of the current network architecture.

Yeah, it all sucks ;-)

Anyway, looks like I might get sent to a mini Cisco course to learn about this stuff. I should really learn about SNMP at some point, too. We have MRTG on our network. I'm supposed to help administrate it, but I have no idea how that stuff works. I see lots of things like, but have no idea what they mean.

Ah, the joys of working with technology

Monday, November 5, 2001

Advogato Entry 209

Tired.. I'm going to bed soon.

Friends are trying out WinXP. I guess they like it. I'm still concerned about it. I hope the government will give Microsoft an appropriate punishment for what they've done. I've heard this includes making versions of Windows that don't have Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, which should be interesting.

Went to a talk of sorts on LDAP over the weekend. It wasn't a great presentation, but I think it would be great if we could merge our authentication systems together where I work. One tree for all that stuff would be nice.

Got DVDs working again on my system. Turns out that I just had a bad symlink. /dev/dvd was pointing at my second hard drive rather than the DVD drive (oops).

I need to set aside some space for a true /var partition on my system. A 200MB root filesystem including /var just doesn't cut it these days.

Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Advogato Entry 210

dammit dammit dammit

Saturday, November 10, 2001

Advogato Entry 211

*sigh* My internet connection sucks. There must be someone in the building that is running a KaZaA supernode or something. Not a nice thing to be running on a T1. Oh well.

Started playing with Squid as a web cache on my computer. I'll have to see if I can get my roommates to sign on and use it. It'll probably be pretty pointless otherwise, as I'd be the only one using it.

It took a while to figure out how to convince Galeon how to use the damn thing.. The dialog box didn't really do anything with what I typed in. I just set up Mozilla to use a proxy, then copied the relevant lines into Galeon's prefs.js

I actually signed up with IRCache. Dunno if that's a great idea. I picked two sites, uc and startap. I still have to wait a day or so before getting an account. Both sites are close, somewhere around 8 hops away (their networks are blocking traceroutes somewhere). Still, ping times to them can be pretty nasty, in the 300-500 ms range. It makes web browsing slow, and it feels like I'm on a modem. However, big transfers still work pretty well, and I can get 70kB/s or so from nearby sites.

Things used to be better, and I was able to do something like 160kB/s.. It's really annoying, and I'm debating whether we should look at a cable modem or something as an alternative to the apartment building's network.. It requires more research than I really want to do..

Sunday, November 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 212

Well, I got an IRCache account. One of the servers I selected seems to cause traffic through Squid to hang, so I'm not peering with that one right now.

This will be an interesting experiment. I'm not sure if it will help my browsing at all, since ping times can sometimes be atrocious, and any extra traffic to the outside will probably just slow things down even more. It certainly doesn't help that most of the sites I visit are largely dynamic.. Even images (well, ads) are produced on the fly in many cases.

Anyway, it will be a while before I really notice any improvement or whatever. It's Sunday now, and traffic is at its lowest point. Ping times are reasonable, and I should really do some homework..

Monday, November 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 213


Then again, it is sweeps week..


Okay, this is on an annoying site, but look at what political cartoonists are doing these days. A stunning theme, if you ask me.

What's Bush rated at again?


It's organizations like this that really screw things up. And there are plenty where that came from. I have little doubt that if public companies were more honest about their earnings, the economy wouldn't be in the shape it is..

yakk: you evil bastard. Er, uhm. Sorry. It's just that people like you have been smashing my bandwidth to pieces...

Saturday, November 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 214

Well, I decided to snmpwalk my building's router, and was somewhat surprised to see that it actually worked! I'm now graphing traffic in and out of my apartment building with MRTG. As I suspected, the connection is pretty much maxed out. What surprised me was that outgoing traffic was the big culprit. Okay, that fact didn't surprise me, but I was amazed at how big the effect was. I thought that both incoming and outgoing would be pretty much pegged, but outgoing traffic was maxed (around 189kB/s -- the maximum theoretical bandwidth of a T1 appears to be 192 kB/s) and incoming showed a fairly normal curve. Annoying that it looks like there are just two or three people sharing lots of data and screwing up the connection for everyone else..

I'd like to learn how to make prettier graphs with RRDtool, but then I need to learn a new `frontend.' Of course, the current method for configuring MRTG sucks anyway. It's really annoying to have to modify line after line after line just to duplicate an entry for a new interface or host. Maybe I should just look at some config file generators..

Finally sent in the booklets for Nielsen ratings. They might not count what we watched, since I mailed them a few days late. Who knows. Of course, my roommates didn't really bother to keep track anyway..

I got tangentially involved in the news in the last week. A news crew from WCCO followed some folks from a new security company in town around downtown and the campus looking for open wireless networks. They apparently printed to some people's printers and sent out forged e-mail. They stood outside where I work, and started accessing professors' computers. Needless to say, the wireless firewall project got a kick in the rear to get operational soon.

It's really close to being ready anyway. Unfortunately, we won't have any encryption mandated on the network, so we'll have to block some of the nastier protocols that let passwords go out in the clear a little too much. Telnet, FTP, POP3, and IMAP are all probably going to be blocked. Debating locking out SMB shares as well..

In my Internet Programming class, I was happy to learn about pseudo-terminals. If it's not already obvious from the screen, they're `virtual' terminals which are moderately easy to hook up to a program. He showed an example of using Perl's IO::Pty and Net::Telnet to run ssh. Pretty funny, but it looks like it should work.

I need to write a chat server and client in Perl this weekend. I suppose I could emulate the behavior of talk if I really felt like it.. Probably too much effort..

There's a big orange sign on the front door notifying our building management that they forgot to pay for sewage service. I wonder if the city posted that today.. The stupid office people usually aren't around on weekends at all anymore.

Hmm. I should go buy some music.. The stuff I'm playing is becoming very redundant..

Advogato Entry 215

Started mounting my roommate's shared files over SMB again. We're nearly equal in the number of songs we have. It adds up to around 5000. Way too big to easily handle in Xmms's ordinary playlist. I really need to work on my web/database interface.. It just seems like nobody's done a good one yet. I also really want to figure out how to integrate it properly with Icecast or something, so all of the rommates can be listening to a single audio stream.. Of course, keeping that synced up could be a big problem..

Sunday, November 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 216

The director of the U of MN's Marcding Band is a really inspiring guy, almost always full of energy. However, he's said that he couldn't have all of that energy if he didn't surround himself with great people.

While I doubt I could ever be as energetic as he is, I completely understand that. I do my best work and have the most motivation when I'm surrounded by good people. Sometimes it's so hard to keep these groups together, though.


I suspect my roommate's girlfriend might be coming over tonight -- another roommate borrowed her cell phone today. I've had a slow day, and I really want to give her a hug. Well, I'd love to do more than that, but it would be inappropriate.

One time when she came over, I reached my arms out in a motion to hug her without even realizing it. I still wonder sometimes why I did that. I'm not sure if I was imagining her as my girlfriend, or if it was simpler than that (or vice-versa..)

I really need to find some new/different music.. Hopefully it will get me out of this slump.

Monday, November 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 217

Need to write a chat client/server combo in Perl. They must allow asynchronous communication, which probably involves fork()ing and other stuff.

Must be done by tomorrow midnight.


If it weren't for Thanksgiving, the University wouldn't let us go home all semester. Only two more days of classes, then I get a four-day weekend.

Gah! I just keep having trouble. I'm getting stuck in a rut again, where I just can't stop feeling sorry for myself for not having a girlfriend. Unfortunately, that's one thing that won't get much better when I go home. The change of scenery will do me good, but there's about zero chance of me meeting someone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 218

[root@body][~]# ps ax|grep life
   12 ?        D     22:55 life

Waiting for something good to happen.


I got my hug! Woo! A few days late, though..

Must focus on homework.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 219

Gah.. I really should find a good diary program for myself. No sense in filling up Advogato with much more of this mushy stuff.. Then again, reading other people's comments reminds me that we're all human.. Blah, blah, blah..

Got the important bit of my homework done last night. Thank goodness the assignment was pretty easy (and done in Perl). I don't know if I would have gotten anywhere, though, if Sarah hadn't shown up.

I actually talked with her a little bit, a pretty rare thing for me. Of course, the most interesting bit was when she was helping us clean up the apartment (okay, she was being nice and doing most of the work :-p ). A weird little subject popped up, and we were just ``on the same wavelength'' as one of my roommates mentioned a moment later. That was really cool.

The most interesting thing was my roommate's comment. I think he saw something between Sarah and me. He just looked at us and said, ``Wow, you guys,'' with a look on his face that told me he saw something he never expected. I think he was happy to see it.. I just hope that what he saw involves me and Sarah moving closer together.

Sarah is not my girlfriend -- she's involved with another roommate. I'd hate to have to hurt him, as he gets pretty well shit on in many cases. But I can't turn off my feelings. I really just need to see where it all will go.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

Advogato Entry 220

Toorkey Dey!! Bork Bork Bork!

Friday, November 23, 2001

Advogato Entry 221

Spent a while talking to my Dad about the wireless firewall project I've been playing with for months. I was reminded of some of the reasons why we wanted to use `real' IP addresses instead of RFC1918 `internal' addresses. We wandered onto the subject of the new version of IP, IPv6. I believe he wasn't aware that it used 128-bit addressing.

Anyway, I'll probably be replacing our home's Linux IP Masq gateway with a Linksys router. My Dad isn't a Linux guru, so I'm sure he'll appreciate the web-based administration. Also, it's probably slightly less politically charged than having a Linux box sitting there. Annoying that Linux users even have to think about that..

My family is planning to go see Monsters, Inc. tonight.. Not sure if I'll do any shopping this weekend. If I do, I'll have to see if anything jumps out at me as a gift for Sarah -- her birthday is Sunday.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 222

It's Sarah's birthday today. I have to remember to at least send her an e-mail. I kind of wanted to get her a gift, but I had no idea what would be good.

Anyway, heading back to school later today. Not even sure yet if my brother and I will be taking a car. My birthday is at the end of the week, so I suppose he'll want it around so he can go shopping.

Saw The Dish last night. Pretty good movie about the radio telescope in Australia that picked up the TV images of the moon landing. Pretty funny, too, though it made me realize that the Australian accent is a little harder for me to understand than I thought it was.

Carrier Pigeons! hehe..

Well, I did quite a bit of stuff over break. Thank goodness none of it involved school.

Monday, November 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 223

Well, of course, it turns out that Sarah turned 21 last night. Her pre-college friends and current roommates worked pretty hard to get her drunk, though she seemed to be taking it pretty well by the time I and my alcohol-free roommates left her with those folks at around 11 PM.

Actually, we first went to Cattle Company (a.k.a. Stuart Anderson's). Had some steak. Got full. Then we went to a bar a short distance away.

My roommates and I mostly stood around looking dumb. I must have been looking really dumb, since one of the first people I was introduced to was `Gay Paul.' That did wonders for my self-esteem, let me tell you (*cough*).

Ended up watching some of the people there play pool. Tried to fix one of the little web terminals that was there (kinda wish I'd had a BBC on me), but it was running WinME -- probably not worth resuscitating anyway...

Got a picture taken with Sarah. I probably looked stiff as a board or something (I don't really photograph well), but hopefully it'll turn out. Got a nice hug as we were leaving, so that made me feel pretty good. It was probably alcohol-induced though. She left a pretty funny voice message with us at some late/early hour. It's saved, so we can play it back to her anytime ;-)

Anyway, still slowly hacking away at the wireless network firewall at work. I haven't been working on it hard enough, though I've been waiting for folks to finish other things..

Don't forget, Star TrekWeakest Link is starting momentarily. I only ever watch Weakest Link when they have celebrities on. It's usually pretty funny, though they're often evil people, and usually kick off the best players...


Wow. The Star Trek folks were pretty cool, and usually picked appropriate people to kick off. Wil Wheaton managed to stay in the game for quite a while -- he was the last one to walk off the stage before Levar Burton and Robert Picardo duked it out.

Wil was playing to support the EFF, so too bad he didn't win.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Advogato Entry 224

Despite the fact that a lot of the folks in the Rochester, MN Linux Users Group work for IBM (presumably, they're smart people), a lot of them seem very prone to spreading rumor and fallacy.

Mushy stuff, move along

Thinking about Sarah way too much. I'm worried it's becoming unhealthy. If I can't at least start to straighten things out in my head over the next few days, I think I'll have to start talking to someone. It might be partially induced by the fact that my birthday is coming up, and I've let another year pass by without experiencing some things that I really want to do.

However, over the last few days I think I realized that a feeling I had associated with love/infatuation/etc. actually turns out to be something completely different. When my heart `skips a beat,' it seems to be a warning. It seems to be that I know there's something I should be doing, and another part of me is holding me back. I often get it when I'm sitting at home procrastinating.

I thought I was getting the feeling because I was feeling lonely or something. I had associated it with love because of a big string of mistakes I made in high school when I was infatuated with a girl there. Now, I need to figure out what the right things to do are when I get this feeling. Sometimes it's easy to know what to do (ie, when I'm procrastinating). Other times, when many things are going on, like in a social environment, it's much harder.

I've been thinking about this because of Sarah. I've had strong feeling for her. However when I actually got close to her and talked to her, I felt something completely different from what I'd come to expect. That mismatch has led me to re-examine many things. Unfortunately, it seems to be pretty dangerous, and I've been on a rollercoaster these past few days.

Still, if I fall back to the old me, I probably wouldn't last. There are a lot of pent-up feelings that I have to purge. If it turns out that I'm holding onto a lot of emotional baggage that was mislabeled, it'll probably be a huge load taken away. I just hope I'm headed in the right direction.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Advogato Entry 225

I turn 23 today. Whee. So many things I have yet to do.

As far as my screwy brain goes, I'm feeling much better today. It's amazing how my mind wanders sometimes, and annoying how much I can be affected by stress. Too bad life doesn't have a pause button.

Did a little holiday shopping. Got a book for my dad.


Doctor Tosney, I presume?