A hilarious posting by Ed Felten.

[ published on Fri 30.07.2004 12:46 | filed in brainfarts | ]

I've found a few nice things for Mozilla Firebird, the IMHO least sucky browser right now (apart from being a memory hog).

The Permit Cookies extension does not do what its name implies, but gives you a popup for blocking/allowing/removing cookies for the current site on pressing Alt-c.

Why not allow cookies with all the other features enabled, especially "ask before accepting"? I had that, but I ran into major slowdown issues with a really big cookie permissions file which denied cookies for 99.8% of the sites anyway, and the question popup was very annoying, too.

So now I have cookies disabled in the global preferences as a good default, and for the few sites where I accept the requirement for cookies as sensible, I just enable cookies specifically for the site, once and comfortably.

Disabling cookies doesn't actually disable them: the explicit exceptions still work. The one thing I lose is the "cookies for this session only" functionality; that is taken care of by my mozilla wrapper which simply removes the cookie file on startup.

userContent.css in your profile dir/chrome/ is also quite useful for some things: the Firebird Doc Site mentions how to disable marquee tags, and here I found a tip on how to change the cursor for javascriptshite links:

a[href^="javascript:"] { cursor: crosshair; }

Flashblock is another saviour: flash crap is not displayed at all but a placeholder shows up. You can click on it and only then the flash thingie loads. Very nice, very useful.

The Tabextensionsextension is so common now that it has been properly Debianised - a welcome change from the lousy XPI installation mess mozilla tries to force on us otherwise.

Related to debianising mozilla and hand-installing extensions without messing everything up is this bit of info:

Mozilla on Debian gets its extension info from per-package files in /var/lib/mozilla-nameoftheday/chrome.d/. The good old run-parts-like approach works perfectly well here, too: you (or any package) can plop a file like 99azfixthisfuckingmess into said dir without affecting any other aspect of moz, and run update-mozilla-firebird-chrome to combine those files into what moz wants to see.

Looking at the XPI thingies (which are simply zipfiles) I usually find stupid javascript "installer" snort scripts which wouldn't do anything useful unless I run them as root (yeah, right, I'm as stupid as that). But it's not really hard to extrapolate from what you see in the install.js things, the bla.jar files (which are again simply zipfiles) and the examples set by mozilla-tabextensions to find a working install procedure.

So what I nowadays do to install extensions by hand but cleanly is rip the XPI apart and copy the bla.jar into /usr/lib/mozilla-nameoftheday/chrome/. Then I look at the install.js to see the register-something calls and populate my 99... fragment with the appropriate entries. Run the update program, restart moz, done.

Here's the entry dealing with the editcss extension as an example (they all look very similar):

[ published on Thu 29.07.2004 01:20 | filed in mystuff | ]

Apparently there are some voices of sanity within the EU commission:

"...it seems that public opinion and political realities in the EU are such as not to support an extension in the term of protection. Some would even argue that the term should be reduced. At this stage, therefore, time does not appear to be ripe for a change, and developments in the market should be further monitored and studied."

Very positive. If only working documents like these dictated the actions of the commission...
Link to the article

[ published on Thu 29.07.2004 00:46 | filed in interests/anti | ]

A very interesting article (where's the "rant", though?) on how and why ebooks work pretty well for authors (and their publishers, even though only a few realise this so far).
Link to the article

[ published on Wed 28.07.2004 22:53 | filed in interests/comp | ]

Today I had the choice between being a Good Working Drone or a Happy Flying Bum. Based on the stack of work awaiting and the info the windtalker gave me, I chose the former (reasoning that with that amount of wind I wouldn't enjoy flying anyway).

Silly me. The arvo was apparently very good and a friend of mine had a very good flight from Flying Fox into Canungra...argh. Envy. Regret. I'm feeling super-stupid now.

[ published on Wed 28.07.2004 18:47 | filed in still-not-king | ]

...says a recent German court judgement, wherein the netfilter project was awarded EUR 100k because Sitecom was using iptables technology in commercial products without abiding by the gpl rules.
Link to the heise article

[ published on Wed 28.07.2004 02:16 | filed in interests/comp | ]

Well, film @ 11. An interesting paper, however, and from an interesting source, too.
Link to the paper
Link to a short excerpt

[ published on Wed 28.07.2004 00:51 | filed in interests | ]
"Here's the scenario we must be all be prepared for: If the pre-election internal tracking polls and public opinion polls show the Kerry-Edwards ticket leading in key battleground states, the Bush team will begin to implement their plan to announce an imminent terrorist alert for the West Coast for November 2 sometime during the mid afternoon Pacific Standard Time. At 2:00 PST, the polls in Kentucky and Indiana will be one hour from closing (5:00 PM EST - the polls close in Indiana and Kentucky at 6:00 PM EST). Exit polls in both states will be known to the Bush people by that time and if Kentucky (not likely Indiana) looks too close to call or leaning to Kerry-Edwards, the California plan will be implemented. A Bush problem in Kentucky at 6:00 PM EST would mean that problems could be expected in neighboring states and that plans to declare a state of emergency in California would begin in earnest at 3:00 PM PST."

A disturbing view of the upcoming US election by Wayne Madsen. Do you doubt it? I wouldn't.
Link to the article at cryptome

[ published on Wed 28.07.2004 00:17 | filed in interests/anti | ]

So what did happen in those last couple weeks since I posted anything personal?

I managed to convince the ANZ webbanking to work again. Bloody javascriptshite. Tricking it by observing the urls, the steps and form contents I concocted a 3 liner standalone HTML form that sends the collected rubbish directly to the webbanking application and thus bypasses all the sill javashite that crashed my firebird in exactly half the cases.

I also had to transfer some money back to EUland so that I can keep paying alimony for Conny. Bandits, hoodlums and extortionists! Those banks... Of course the conversion rate was lousy (after it had been really good for almost half a year - when I didn't realise that I'd have to act RSN) and on top of that the fees and charges and bloodmoney you have to give is quite high: AU$22 here and EUR18 on the other side. Bastards.

More positive than the banking was the flying, but just so. After the tree-retrieval on 6.7. the weather turned not-so-suitable; The following weekend I had one short hop of a flight, out of utter desparation. The week after that was so-so and no good on the days I could have taken arvos off, but on friday evening the forecast looked good. I, however, decided to be stupid: had way too many homebrew beers friday evening, and subsequently spent of the following 24hrs 17hrs sleeping, sick, tired and drunk (a lovely combination). The weather was quite ok, but I didn't even leave the bed until 19:40 in the evening...

But I've discovered something new: namely that Paracetamol doesn't work well for me; Aspirin works a lot better for my occasional cold and head or tooth aches. A toast to the discoverers of acetylsalicylic acid! Three hoorays!

On Sunday I was sober, keen and the sun was out, too. But there was a bad storm-wind warning which stayed in effect until the following friday so there was no flying whatsoever (up to 40kts of wind may be good for seagulls but not for us).

Wednesday my heater packed it in (or I thought so); in fact it was only the temperature safety switch, but nevertheless I decided to use the late-winter-bargain opportunity to buy a small oil radiator ($29 for a 5-fin 1kW unit). These things work a lot better than all the fan or radiation heaters IMO. Fixing the old one I ran across these annoying things.


And as we're talking about hardware: my silly U1 HME occasionally decides to be deaf-mute for no apparent good reason (other than having to talk to a POS alcadreck on the other side of an Xover cable). heffalump was thus n/a for almost a whole workday, but a quick&dirty half-liner cronjob now takes care of minimising this problem.

Last Saturday I had at least a short flight again, at a site called Flying Fox (where one of the new students recently had an accident and broke her foot badly). The conditions were too light, though, so I ended up in the bombout very soon from where I took this picture of Jessica joining us in the bombout :-)


Sunday there was another short flight to be had: Tamborine, but in bumpy conditions. Andrew (who is currently ranked nr.4 worldwide!) had a full frontal collapse just above the trees, and scared everybody off pretty badly. I had just landed, after rough conditions with not exactly a lot of forward speed, so I hadn't stuck around the ridge any longer - fortunately! Andrew later told us that he and Richard weren't certain at some stage whether they would make it to the bombout - and them with performance gliders! In the arvo I got busy and did a lot of cleanup at home, fixed some stuff, did the laundry, did some programming, some repairs on the Fart Falcon and the 2003/4 tax declaration (which is a simple thing in AU anyway, minimal fuss and little paperwork to be sent in: you claim your claims, and keep the evidence in case they check on you. But initially the authorities trust you. A novel feeling for somebody coming from Austria.) feeling for somebody coming from

And finally in the evening I watched "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai": ah, what a cool film. It's time to read the Hagakure for myself.

[ published on Wed 28.07.2004 00:00 | filed in still-not-king | ]

The kernel programmers are getting

  • old
  • bored
  • too polite to lousy hardware
  • other.

Or how else would you explain the rise of "crap" over "fuck" in the linux kernel sources?

[ published on Tue 27.07.2004 23:11 | filed in brainfarts | ]

150 to 6 with 10 abstentions is the tally of the UN world court vote regarding the Israeli barrier. And, of course, the Aussie politicians followed the US lead closely enough to taste yesterday's lunch.

"We believe that taking this matter of the security barrier to the International Court of Justice was the wrong decision," Mr Downer said. "Israel must find ways of defending itself against terrorists and it isn't reasonable to tell the Israelis that they can't erect a security barrier to protect the people of Israel from suicide-homicide bombers."

Argh, this world sucks so badly it's not funny. If those despair.com posters weren't so pricey...
Link to the Sydney Morning Herald article
Link to the Reuters article

[ published on Wed 21.07.2004 23:14 | filed in interests/anti | ]

The Swiss Fourmi Lab has nice images (and a few weirdish mpgs) of what to expect when you're travelling at speeds near c. Ah, dreaming...
Link to the goodies

[ published on Wed 21.07.2004 22:52 | filed in brainfarts | ]
"Genetic research irreversibly damaged by Excel autoformatting
The Autocorrect feature in Excel ... has introduced irreversible errors into genetic research that is tabulated in spreadsheets, because Except autocorrects some identifiers to be dates."

Hehe, tough luck. Maybe using the right tools would have been a good idea?
Link to the boingboing article

[ published on Mon 19.07.2004 12:16 | filed in brainfarts | ]

"Name: W32/Bagle.ad@MM ... Note: The worm carries its source code (assembler) in its body, encrypted. When mass-mailing itself, the worm may also include a copy of the source code (within a ZIP archive, SOURCES.ZIP). It is not unlikely therefore that we will see further trivial variants based on this source."

People on the debian mailinglists are already joking whether the thing is DFSG-free.
Link to mcaffee's info

[ published on Wed 14.07.2004 14:05 | filed in brainfarts | ]

After seeing a nice traffic graph on a friend's site, I decided to install mrtg. Being a perfectionist with slow boxes, the defaults (ie. use mainly snmp) didn't make me happy.

I ended up writing about 10 small perlies that either query /proc or sift through logfiles. It worked, but not very nicely: lotsa perl processes starting every 5 minutes and quite some code duplication. Rethink. Improve.

So here's the new, combined, all-in-one solution: a single script that does the data gathering all in one go. It's called bigstat.

bigstat reads a couple of simple things from /proc (memory usage, interface traffic counters, cpu stats and load average), but all that is hardly new and not worth talking about. It also gets at the firewall packet drop counters and plots df -k vs. df -i.

What is notable IMHO is that bigstat also deals with sources that are decidedly not nice enough to provide convenient counters or gauges: my apache access log for example, the mail logs and my inn logs (the "common" way of getting apache info for example involves parsing the html output of mod_status...bleh, for mail people have parsed mailstats output and for inn there's nothing ready-made except for CNFS storage.)

My approach there is to use some builtin logtail functionality together with persistent counter and offset files: go over the unread/new parts of the log, look for some useful pattern and increase the counters. Then save the last counter states in the persistent counter file and also remember where in the file we were (plus inode). This guarantees counter continuity regardless of log rotation. bigstat then writes all the fourliner data mrtg expects into separate files, and mrtg just reads them via a 2-liner shell wrapper around cat. This works great and is very efficient.

If you need some inspiration to set up something similar: help yourself to my examples here. The script and mrtg config file are gpl'd. The proc stuff and iptables-usage are linux-specific, and the regexp matches will definitely need adjustment for your environment.

[ published on Sun 11.07.2004 00:46 | filed in mystuff | ]

On the bright side:

..[The Film Classification Review Board] decided last night to retain the [R18+] rating, rejecting appeals by the Australian Family Association and the South Australian Attorney-General, and merely toughened the consumer advice for the release. It now says Anatomy of Hell includes "actual sex, high-level sex scenes and high-level themes".

Common sense apparently prevailed. A real surprise. But, on the other hand there's this piece of news, too:

[he] is making Australian legal history as the first extradition case under copyright law.
The US had appealed against a decision by magistrate Daniel Reiss to release [him] from jail in March, after he found there was no extraditable offence.
It is not claimed that [he] ... made any money from the alleged piracy.
While the US can now proceed on the extradition process, it was unsuccessful in its application that [he] pay its costs - estimated to be about $20,000.

So let's get this straight: the US claims he's a copyright infringer who hasn't even made any money from the alleged activity; they get him arrested on foreign soil (bad enough already), try to get him extradited to the land of the shrub (really brilliant judgement), AND want him to pay them for having the privilege of being extradited and prosecuted? Bastards. Fascist stiffnecked loonies.

Quid pro quo: I want to see the murkins hand over one of their grow-your-dick-fast spammers to a fundamentalist country!

Link to the Censorship article
Link to the Extradition article

[ published on Thu 08.07.2004 15:39 | filed in interests/au | ]

Conny has just flown over to my parents for a stay of a couple of weeks. She flew from NY to VIE (with a stop in London, AFAIK), alone (modulo stewardess keeping an eye on her). Amazing: she's now 9 years old and has seen more of the world than I did until I was 25+. I hope she enjoys her life.

Apropos flying: winter flying here seems to be more hazardous than the wilder conditions in summer. One of my friends recently tested how well a paraglider flies through high-tension power lines (It doesn't.). Apart from causing a power outage for some country folks, a big scare for his wife and children and a black hole vortex in his wallet he's fine.

And on tuesday another friend of mine decided to decorate a tree with her glider; nil damage in that case (except to her pride) and not even overly much work to retrieve the flying machine from its lofty position. Amazing. I just hope that I don't joing the "Hug the Koala" club anytime soon.

Got a late birthday present from my sisters today: a mix CD with 1972's wor^Wgreatest hits. Boy, some of them are so bad that they're actually fun to listen to :-)

The Fog of War is a great film, a documentary about R.S. Mcnamara and his role in the post-WW2 America. Brilliant, and the Philip Glass soundtrack makes it even better. Of course, living in the cultural wasteland way south of Brisvegas, means that no cinema ran it. Zip, zilch, zero, naught, none of the chain cinemas and no for the one "artsy" cinema on the GC. But if the viewer can't come to the movie, the movie has to come to the viewer. And it did.

Anything else? hmm, nothing of real importance. Austria is now short one top pollie bastard, but it's not the bastard. Pity. But at least it's one less polly crook. Der Blitz soll sie alle beim Schei├čen derschlagen.

[ published on Thu 08.07.2004 01:45 | filed in still-not-king | ]

Some tales of current {soft,hard}ware woes.

iptables doesn't fully like sparc64: the limit module, very useful for limiting log entries in bursty situations, is fubar'd on 64bit archs:

..."the problem is that the limit match does an ugly hack: it stores a pointer in its struct matchinfo. That pointer is 64bits in the kernel, but userspace is 32bits, and thus the compilar only allocates 32bit for the pointer in the structure: boom. The structure was commented by the original author with: /* Ugly, ugly fucker. */"

Thanks guys, very helpful. Grrrrrrr. Ok, for now my syslogd is set to not sync on the file where these logs go to, to keep the box from melting down because of any silly scanner out there but that's far from perfect.

Then my alcadreck dsl thingie is flaky as hell: it really doesn't like service disconnections, and occasionally doesn't get the always-on connection into always-on state...Time to get a BPAC-5100 and enjoy proper syslog, SNMP, real CLI etc.

And my Ultra1 is showing the onboard HME lockup behaviour: suddenly no more data coming in, but ifdown/ifup fixes the issue. (or is it the alcadreck? seeing collisions and carrier loss errors on a lightly loaded Xover cable doesn't really inspire confidence in the other comms partner even without knowing about the alcadreck...) Built the kernel with the one-liner patch, seems to be ok for now.

And df is fucked on sparc64:

$ df -k /
Filesystem           1k-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             -1324350         1         0   6% /
$ df -k //
Filesystem           1k-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              1511856     80608   1354448   6% /

So a trailing slash coaxes it into working. Fugly.

And mozilla-firebird with the tabextensions on crashes when trying to do talk to ANZ (who are evil bastards wielding their javascript bludgeon inexpertly, but who - thank eris! - haven't discovered java...yet).

To make debugging easier, at work the same mozilla-firebird with the same extensions, a 99.9%-same config works without a hitch. Oh the joy. Mozilla needs some code to selectively disable each and every javascript function (not just the few silly things like preventing scripts from hiding the toolbar)!


[ published on Thu 08.07.2004 01:16 | filed in interests/comp | ]
"Today, July 1st, the Dutch Parliament has decided to direct Minister Brinkhorst and Secretary of State van Gennip (Economic Affairs) to withdraw the Dutch vote in support of the Council of Ministers' text for the Directive on Software Patents. This is the first time in the history of the EU that such a course of action has been undertaken."

Nice. The voices of reason seem to prevail in the Netherlands; not surprisingly this is also the one spot in Europe with realistic drug laws.
Link to the FFII press release

[ published on Sun 04.07.2004 13:36 | filed in interests | ]

Their Meerkat Open Wire Service is a pretty cool aggregator of all things news; personally I like channel 916 (O'Reilly Net content, with all their open articles) a lot.

[ published on Sun 04.07.2004 13:34 | filed in interests/comp | ]
"...But the court found that because the e-mails were already in the random access memory, or RAM, of the defendant's computer system when he copied them, he did not intercept them while they were in transit over wires and therefore did not violate the Wiretap Act, even though he copied the messages before the intended recipients read them."

Hey, great, so the DVD contents you fools want to keep me from copying is also fair game: it's in RAM while I play it, so it's mine now! Thanks for that ruling! HHOS

Link to the wired story

[ published on Sun 04.07.2004 13:29 | filed in interests/anti | ]

Now where have we seen these kinds of activitites mostly during the last 80 years? This reminds me mostly of the Nazi "Blockwart" sniffing nosy bastardism.

"The truckers, who haul hazardous material across 48 states, explained how easy it is to spot "Islamics" on the road: just look for their turbans. Quite a few of them are truck drivers, says William Westfall of Van Buren, Ark. "I'll be honest. They know they're not welcome at truck stops. There's still a lot of animosity toward Islamics." Eddie Dean of Fort Smith, Ark., also has little doubt about his ability to identify Muslims: "You can tell where they're from. You can hear their accents. They're not real clean people." That kind of prejudice is hard to undo, but it's a shame Beatty's slide show did not mention that in the U.S., it's almost always Sikhs who wear turbans, not Muslims."

Now that's exactly the type of person I'd like to sniff around my affairs.

Link to the Time article

[ published on Thu 01.07.2004 13:43 | filed in interests/anti | ]

Debian Silver Server
© Alexander Zangerl