Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

a few minutes ago...

...I ran Gnome on Red Hat 9 for the first time. The last version I had used, for testing clevercactus, was 7.2.

I. Am. Speechless.

Or, in the spirit of what Comic Book Guy said once: "Vision ....blurring .... balance... failing... can't... go on.... describing.... symptoms...!"


Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 25, 2003 at 10:54 PM


At around noon, I thought the filters were more or less working. I was right. They worked so well, in fact, that even I wasn't allowed to send any email. Hmpf. More configuration. Verifying whether it was a problem with clevercactus in particular (it wasn't). Removed a couple of hostname checks that, while useful, prevent clients behind firewalls from sending email (because it can't do a reverse lookup on their name). Then spent another bunch of time until I realized that the pop-before-smtp process had died at some point, and that meant my client wasn't being properly authorized.

Anyway. On to Linux now. Verified that my 802.11 card works ok. Ready. Funny that a year ago I had shed the first layer of monopoly-skin (and I was using spaces back then, even though I hadn't mentioned it yet :-)).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 25, 2003 at 7:11 PM

mail's back

Okay, so, I admit, I wasn't ready to ditch email yet. This morning, the reasons remained: if I loaded my mail server I suddenly received a flood of messages, including the virus, spam, and "rejected" messages from addresses that had received the virus with my own address spoofed.

But even as the problems remained, I needed email, not least to reply to the clevercactus-dev list, and even do some work. Last week's crisis led me to think in new directions, and maybe we'll be able to come up with a good solution for this problem (or part of it). In the meantime, I had to get my mail back. I had no choice.

So I breathed deeply and started looking for configuration options for postfix, the mail server that I use. I found good information here, here and especially here. I started adding options and it took me some time to get them running, in particular the regular expressions that parse both the headers and the body of the message were a bit of a pain to get right, as usual. (I am now, for example, rejecting EXE, PIF, BAT and other MS-virus-related attachments, knowledge of MIME and how it is usually done has its uses :)).

I still have to tweak things a bit, but in principle it should be back to normal. Interestingly enough, most of the messages are being rejected with the error "Helo command rejected: need fully-qualified hostname". I wonder if this will affect legitimate email (I am not entirely sure which of the postfix settings is requiring this, maybe it's "reject_non_fqdn_sender" or "reject_non_fqdn_recipient" or "reject_unknown_client"...).

If you're trying to contact me via email and you can't, leave a comment here--also, if I haven't replied in the last few days just give me a few hours as I go through my queue.

Update: in the roughly three hours since I completed the filtering configuration, postfix has rejected 1128 emails, most of them infected with the Sobig virus. One thousand one hundred twenty-eight! Jeez. Anyway, it feels weird now. Like the quiet right after the storm has passed.

(In the time it took to write the previous paragraph, another nine invalid emails were bounced!)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 25, 2003 at 10:20 AM

hyperreality TV

Steven Soderbergh (and George Clooney) come out with a new HBO series, K Street:

In "K Street," a half-hour show that makes its debut on Sept. 14, HBO is aiming for something that Steven Soderbergh, a co-executive producer, calls "real-time fiction." The show will depict a make-believe firm of lobbyists and consultants, but will blend in real politicians, lawmakers and issues to give an insiderish flavor of how Washington wheels, deals, logrolls, backscratches and backstabs.

From Shakespeare's plays to "Ragtime" to Mr. Soderbergh's Oscar-winning film "Traffic," the technique of mixing the real and unreal in entertainment has a long tradition. But the characters in those works fall into familiar categories: they're either pure creations, fictional versions of real figures, or cameos. Here Mr. Soderbergh and his creative team, including the actor George Clooney, the writer Henry Bean and the producer Mark Sennet, are heightening the trompe l'oeil effect by having real lobbyists and consultants play alternate versions of themselves, while grappling with real issues about real people in a fake firm. Like "Law and Order," "K Street" will rip its plots from the headlines. But it will do so only days after those headlines appear, while the issues in question are still live ones, and do only as much fictionalizing as necessary to keep the plots interesting.

The idea is to be so topical that viewers are left "asking whether it's a documentary or fiction," as Mr. Soderbergh puts it. To remain on top of the news, the episodes will be outlined and shot on an extremely tight schedule. Each week's installment will be hammered out and finished in three days, beginning on the Monday before each Sunday's air date. Editing will be done on Thursday and Friday. "Everyone will come in on Monday having read the papers and seen the Sunday shows," Mr. Soderbergh explained during a recent interview in New York, wearing his trademark black T-shirt and black eyeglasses and sipping on a drink called an Arnold Palmer (a combination of iced tea and lemonade). He and his partners are hiring researchers to make sure the show gets its facts straight, and equipping two mobile vans to rush the cast and crew to real hearings and other events in the capital.

Wow. Hopefully they'll show it here in Ireland at some point. It takes a while sometimes, for example, I still haven't seen The Wire, which is apparently excellent.

Posted by diego on August 25, 2003 at 2:03 AM

on google and the markets


Despite frenzied speculation of an imminent Google public offering, company co-founder Sergey Brin said he's still casually debating the pros and cons with board members and has not yet set a date.
Given recent irrational behavior on part of the markets (you know, P/E ratios that don't make any sense... stocks of money-losing companies that cuadruple in value in a matter of weeks... things of that nature), a Google IPO could easily set off a chain reaction. It wouldn't last though--there's not a lot of money left to lose--and a few people would make a lot of money.

That aside, I was thinking today: how much more possible is it that Google will be acquired? .... No, not AOL--not enough cash, too many problems. But Microsoft? I admit, it's far fetched, highly unlikely, etcetera. But they could make "an offer they couldn't refuse". It's left as an excercise for the reader to figure out, in this hypothetical scenario, who would be Don Corleone, and who would be Luca Brasi. :-))

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 25, 2003 at 1:55 AM

new passports for US visits--when?

According to the New York Times, it's on October 2004:

Technologies that scan faces and fingerprints will become a standard part of travel for foreign visitors next year, and for all travelers in the near future.

The technology, known as biometrics, has been developing for years, but largely because of security concerns after the attacks on Sept. 11, its arrival has been greatly accelerated.

One deadline looms large Oct. 26, 2004. In a little more than a year, the State Department and immigration bureau must begin issuing visas and other documents with the body-identifying technologies to foreign visitors. The change is mandated by border security legislation passed by Congress last May. The federal government has started issuing border-crossing cards for Mexican citizens and green cards that display fingerprints and photos.

By the same deadline, the 27 countries whose citizens can travel to the United States without visas must begin issuing passports with computer chips containing facial recognition data or lose their special status. People from those countries with passports issued before the deadline may still travel to the United States without visas as long as their governments have begun biometric identification programs.

But I thought it was October this year. I'm confused.

And it sounds like quite a lot of information on foreign citizens doesn't it? Biometrics and so on.... I think it will be interesting to see what happens when (or if) they actually try to impose this same system for their own passports/documents. And if it doesn't happen, one would have to ask why should the rest of the world be treated with so much suspicion, and if that's something healthy for an open society.

Categories: geopolitics
Posted by diego on August 25, 2003 at 1:45 AM

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