November 30, 2003
The Joys of Commodity Hardware As you may or may not have noticed there was yet another blip in the personal hell that is hardware problems for me. However, we're back up and going. We did lose /var, but most of the important files (mail, databases, etc) were backed up at 3am last night, and they were restored. Not everything was backed up, so if you notice anything strange throw me an email at arcterex ( - at - ) ufies dawt org

Thanks for everyone's patience and understanding. Read on for an explanation of what actually happened.

Update - webmail is busted, I'll deal with that in the morning. Fixed. It was the start of a sunday that I was hoping to take easy and relax... ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. Fred threw me an email to point me to a RAID failure message. We had had an element in one of the arrays fail not that long ago, but the spare kicked in and all was well, and I was turning a blind eye until I had the mental strength to deal with it. Anyway, the co-lo had a scheduled powerdown from the hydro company for last night. Turns out the power company was early though. While the RAID5 was reconstructing the array, it must have hit a bad block or something and kicked out the element. So now we were down to 2/3 :(

I moved the spare partition in from the first array to put in as the 3rd and it seemed to go in ok, but as it was reconstructing something kicked it out and now we had 1/3 going, which as anyone who knows about RAID5 knows, can't really happen. Things were still running, and "ls" was still showing files, but there were I/O errors when I tried to copy files around (in a desparate attempt to save data in case something happened). So I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to go in and fix things from the console. An hour and a half later I was there, armed with a new drive.

It's getting late and it's been a long day so I'm going to keep it short, hit my blog sometime tomorrow for an even longer and more boring version of this.

Anyway, I figured out which drive was causing the errors and swapped it out. When it came back up all nicely recostructed and what not I was quite disheartened ("bugger" I think was one of the terms I used) to see that I couldn't mount /var anymore, as it was not recognized as an ext3 filesystem. So I re-created it, copied the files I have backed up from /var every night (mail spool, databases, dpkg lib, etc) and brought the system hobbling back up to life. I managed to recreate the needed files from a friend of mine who also has a debian unstable system (thanks wim!) and have been running various "apt-get install --reinstall <package>" commands since. Everything appears to be running again, and other than losing all the logs and mail/database stuff from 3am till 10am when the system went down ("luckily" the mailserver was down most of the day as well, so mail was sent over the the secondary server and saved, and there was only a 7 hour window of nuked mail).

Anyway, thats about it. Like I said, let me know if anyone sees anything that is broken, and thanks to Fred for getting me the spare drive and the guys at data-fortress for putting up with me there and for keeping me company (though they had to be there anyway dealing with the power issues).

Posted by Arcterex at 10:30 PM
November 28, 2003
Apple Gamer Switch Ad Another Apple switch parody from RedvsBlue.
Posted by Arcterex at 02:50 PM
Microsoft's Methods Ah, gotta love Microsoft and their methods. According to this article on The Register they are holding $1.1 billion in compensation for the class plaintiffs in California, trying to get them to side with them agains their "Lindows competitor". *sigh* This is the sort of thing that some of the Microsoft evangelists so easily forget, or excuse with "I don't know what's going on, I'm just a peon."

There is another story with some of the start of this and Microsoft's objectsions to setting up to help Californians get their rightfully deserved piece of the anti-trust settlement pie.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:00 PM
November 27, 2003
Mac Vs. PC Total Cost of Ownership Mac-Mike points to an article on Mac vs. PC: The Truth About TCO. In the end it is still not really about cost at all.
Posted by Arcterex at 09:19 PM
Nerd Test Hmm..... 956 points puts me in the "Possibility of coolness" section. WTF?
Posted by Arcterex at 08:55 PM
Linux vs. MS Security An excellent article on Linux vs Microsoft Security written by the fine fellow over at GROKLAW who analized the latest SCO letter. Interesting reading as usual.
Posted by Arcterex at 04:29 PM
Bug In MS Exchange 2003 Anyone running an Exchange server might want to take note of it's latest flaw. "[...] a person can gain unauthorized access to another users account."

What makes this even funnier to me is that not that long ago I read someone comment on a blog somewhere (might have been on scoble) saying that exchange was "invaluable" to them. People run exchange on purpose? Why? Anyway, I resisted responding at the time. Guess this is a good response though :)

Posted by Arcterex at 04:26 PM
VNC to SWF Very nifty looking tool, Vnc2swf allows you to record a VNC session to an SWF file, making it easy to create training material or even a quick tutorial to show granny how to use the GUI frontend for nmap properly :)
Posted by Arcterex at 01:09 PM
Happy Birthday Iambe Happy birthday to Iambe! Everyone remember to throw her an email to wish her a good one.
Posted by Arcterex at 12:01 PM
November 26, 2003
Rejections from I was uploading a picture or two of my kids^wcats to (great time waster) and noticed the note about why your kitten picture might be rejected. Quite funny.
Posted by Arcterex at 03:22 PM
November 25, 2003
Simple MRTG Setup There is a great SNMP guide/howto in the Gentoo Tips and Tricks forum. Cut and paste stuff, and quite complete, including CPU, RAM, etc etc etc. Gentoo specific as far as packages, but easily used for other Linux distros.
Posted by Arcterex at 04:27 PM
Open Letters and a New Reality Series Dear Mr. Trump.

Just because NBC's new reality show isn't a Law and Order spin off doesn't mean it's "radically different." In fact, it's a spin off of some of the worst TV I've avoided this decade. Though I'm sure the fact that the show features you has nothing to do with your opinion.

Love, Alan

Dear TV Producers and Executives from the major networks,

Please stop creating reality shows. They are over done. You have had reality shows, reality shows that were parodies of reality shows, fake reality shows, fake reality shows the second season, fake reality shows that are aired twice in a row with the schmoe's commentary in a transparent attempt to bleed it for all it's got, rip offs of reality shows, and reality shows that require subtitles and still suck.

Please stop. We the people of north america can't take anymore. Saying that "the market is driving this" doesn't cut it when you give the market nothing to watch but shitty reality shows. Complaining about how people are pirating other TV shows that don't suck via p2p networks shows you have no clue.

Please stop and let reality television go down as a footnote on the stupidity of mankind at the start of the decade in some future history book. Please.

Love, Alan

Posted by Arcterex at 02:48 PM
More GUI Stuff And I also found The GUI Gallery which has screenshots of everything from 1973 to modern day (including OS X, but no Longhorn). The GUI Timeline is really neat to see as well. This page brings back a lot of memories for me, as I used pretty much every one of these OSs (except for MacOS <10.x) at one time or another.
Posted by Arcterex at 01:12 PM
GUI Gallery Inspired by the last post, the icon section in the GUI Interface gallery site is interesting looking. They don't have OS/X in there though, too bad. Interesting to see how various UI elements have changed over the years.
Posted by Arcterex at 01:06 PM
Windows XP UI Oddities Windows XP: rough around the edges doesn't really apply with Longhorn a mere 3-undefined years down the road, but it's an interesting read. I wonder if there is a similar article for MacOS? Maybe MacOS is so perfect that the nitpickers can't find anything wrong with it? Guess not. There are others all over of course, and since the original article is from 2001, some of the XP UI bugs have hopefully been fixed :)

Thanks to this page for the link. John's updated observations are also up.

Posted by Arcterex at 12:51 PM
Expos� for GNOME? Expocity is a hack that was proposed yesterday for inclusion into the Metacity (GNOME window manager) CVS tree. It probably won't surface for a while in any of the releases, but if you're using GNOME 2.5.x out of CVS you may get a chance to play with it soon.

I'm pretty sure it's not nearly as pretty or lickable as the real Expos�, but it does thumbnailing and automagically shows you all your windows. This combined with the new XServer stuff might bring the Apple eye candy a bit closer for Linux users (Windows folks will still have to wait until [2006 or whenever] Longhorn is released.

Posted by Arcterex at 08:19 AM
November 24, 2003
Bloggers vs. Spammers There is a article on the register about the "cyber war" between a spam company and a group of Dutch bloggers, currently in a war of DDOS, email floods and various other nastyness. Go bloggers!
Posted by Arcterex at 12:56 PM
November 23, 2003
Dumbest Anti-Spam Idea Ever I'm not sure if this is funny or sad, but check this out. It appears that someone thinks that you should all have an email address that has your postal code (or PIN #, matched to postal code, held by a commisioners office). I'm sure that would work. Really. Link from this fark discussion.
Posted by Arcterex at 01:03 PM
November 22, 2003
Mac Boot Key Combos Mac Boot Key Combos, for my own information as much as anything else. Note that holding down C to boot from the CDROM is not the same as holding down CMD-C. D'oh!
Posted by Arcterex at 11:48 PM
Dues Ex 2 Demo Released Yeap, it's out and you can grab it off of shacknews if you want (or find a better download mirror somewhere). If you read the comments in the above link you'll find that not everyone was really impressed with it. I have to say that running it on my XP2600+ with 1G ram and a GF3 and it felt like crap. I have to agree with the first posters thoughts. Too bad, Dues Ex 1 kicked ass.
Posted by Arcterex at 11:30 AM
November 21, 2003 2.0 FootNotes has a pointer to information on OpenOffice 2.0 and GNOME. Interesting to see where OO.o is going in the future.
Posted by Arcterex at 10:36 AM
Halo for Mac Halo for Mac? Is the sky really falling? Thanks for the pointer to NSLog().
Posted by Arcterex at 09:38 AM
New Harry Potter Teaser Another from Mithrandir is a pointer to a Prisoner of Azkaban teaser trailer. Looks like it'll be pretty cool....
Posted by Arcterex at 09:25 AM
The Guinness Widget Thanks to Mithrandir for providing these next two links. The first one is some information on the Guinness Widget, which I have to agree with the rest of my British brothers and sisters (or in my case, uncles and aunts), that it was one of the most important inventions of the last 40 years.
Posted by Arcterex at 09:23 AM
Nelly Furtado's New Album Online In Full Maybe Nelly Furtado gets it as well. Her new album, Folklore is available online for your listening pleasure, before it's released. I'm sure it's out there in other forms as well, but they have struck a deal with the MTV folks and it's there for the world in Real format. I really enjoyed her first album, looking forward to listening to this one.
Posted by Arcterex at 07:53 AM
November 19, 2003 Possible Baddness will be down sometime tomorrow afternoon as it will be rebuilt at that time. If you have an account on the system please back anything up as a precaution. Your home directory will be safe, but backing up any databases, etc will be a Good Idea™. Also, all passwords will be re-set, you'll have to email alan ( - at - ) to get them reset. Please email me at that address with any questions. Mostly this is a precaution but there is the possibility that this system has been compromised by a LKM trojan and data coming to and from it is considered unsafe, so if you have an account here better change your passwords on any other systems and make sure you don't trust any ssh-keys you have stored.

Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow night.

Update: Based on this post and this bug I'm confident enough to take back what I said. Ignore me. Rewind. Undo, whatever :) Thanks to Christophe for pointing this out to me.

Posted by Arcterex at 06:28 PM
November 15, 2003
New Dark Tower Book Released Oh my, another sign that hell is freezing over (rapidly). Mr. Stephen King has finally released the latest book in the Dark Tower series, The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla. I've only been waiting for this for what, 5 years? 7? 10?
Posted by Arcterex at 12:27 AM
November 14, 2003
Creating Icon Themes for GNOME 2.x Needing to be updated and cleaned up, but anyone interesting in creating icon themes for gnome should see the Gnome Icon Theme General How-To.
Posted by Arcterex at 01:16 PM
Large Image Collection Organization for Mac There is a good discussion on MacSlash about professional photo library management software. Some interesting suggestions. I'm not sure I believe the whole "I get my images at photo shoots" story, but hey, you tell yourself what you have to right? Just kidding, anyone who has a digital camera knows that the photoes start accumulating pretty fast :)
Posted by Arcterex at 09:41 AM
November 13, 2003
Funny Music by Jeffrey Hitchin Jeffrey Hitchin has some funny stuff. Only found his name and other music due to organizing my mp3s... great stuff.
Posted by Arcterex at 10:06 PM
November 12, 2003
Multiple Monitors Wow, I really want these monitors!
Available in 3 different sizes, 45", 51", and 57" inches, with resolutions up to 3840 x 1024 pixels, 's new Cinerama Displays are the world's largest and most compelling personal imaging devices ever designed.
The resolution seems a little low for a 45", but hey, I won't toss it off my desk for eating crackers over my keyboard. The main thing I like is the (almost) elimination of the seam between the monitors, which is the one thing that I don't like about my dual monitor set up.
Posted by Arcterex at 12:11 PM
November 11, 2003
Lest We Forget In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:18 AM
November 10, 2003
Monitor Black Calibration Nifty link off of Tigert's page on how to set the brightness and contrast of the CRT monitor accurately. Also has links at the bottom for gamma and photoshop color calibration.
Posted by Arcterex at 05:29 PM
Cat Pictures Pages and pages of cat and kitten pictures for your enjoyment.

Update: Footnote just gave me the new real URL. The above link has been updated.

Posted by Arcterex at 04:41 PM
November 09, 2003
Ernie Cline Rocks I just today discovered the spoken word works of Ernie Cline and they are very geek, very intelligent, and damn hilarious. Do yourself a favor and download a few and listen and enjoy.
Posted by Arcterex at 09:42 PM
November 07, 2003
ESR's BLOG I never noticed before, but it looks like ESR has a blog over at Armed and Dangerous.
Posted by Arcterex at 01:25 PM
Rejected Links of the Day A couple of rejected Links of the Day from my favorite webdiva...
Posted by Arcterex at 11:13 AM
Movie - The Day After Tomorrow I have to agree with andi, this trailer for The Day After Tomorrow looks pretty cool. First I've heard of it too, gotta spend more time on the trailers site.
Posted by Arcterex at 10:53 AM
November 06, 2003
Coder Font Released ProFont for Windows, for Macintosh, for Linux, a font designed for programming, has been released to the public. It used to be mac only, but is now out therein bitmap, truetype, and other forms.
Posted by Arcterex at 11:07 AM
November 05, 2003
iTunes Not for Everyone Well, it looks like iTunes for Windows isn't for everyone, especially if you're a .net guy with 1000 CDs encoded in WMA. Some of the comments are amusing though, sounding quite closed minded (ie: "it doesn't maximize properly, it sucks"). Personally it is a bit slow I find, and I'm sure it's due to not using native widgets. I can live with that though.

Personally I have all my CDs ripped to .ogg, so I needed to do a bit of fiddling to get ogg support working, but it seems to work fine now. Wish I could rip to .ogg though. It would be nice if there was a WMA codec for it I have to agree for those who do have songs encoded in that format. Support for other devices would be nice too, but that's taking the company line.

Don't forget that iTunes is a loss leader for Apple to sell iPods, and I don't see them having a lot of financial incentive to go out and support every other portable player in the market, when they are doing fine with their iPod sales (or so I assume). Apple producing windows software period should be hailed as the coming of the end of the world anyway, as they are used to having full control over everything, and selling "the whole widget".

As an aside, my buddy silverstr is having trouble getting iTunes to recognize CDs inserted. They play fine in WMP, the GEAR service is running (as suggested here, but no luck. Apple tech support also refused to help him until he bought an iPod (not a good thing if you're testing to make sure something works while considering buying an iPod).

Can anyone help him?

Posted by Arcterex at 12:19 PM
November 04, 2003
MS Fan Site An article in asks if the Microsoft User Network is a joke or not. Apparently it's not. It's a less hidden version of astroturfing I guess. Last time I checked though, "fan sites" felt a little bit more honest and real, and didn't look like they were organized by the company they are a fan of.

The Unofficial Bill Gates Fan Network is particularily amusing though. Their photo gallery is strangely missing this picture though. Strange.

I'm shaking my head, I still can't get it. There are similar things in the open source world, but they seem to be far more tounge in cheek. To each their own though I guess...

Posted by Arcterex at 11:03 AM
Thoughts on Longhorn Dumky has some good thoughts on the LongHorn Developer Center and how relevant it actually is right now, as it'll be released in 2006 (maybe).
Posted by Arcterex at 10:53 AM
Ximian Desktop 2 (Unstable) Goes Gnome 2.5 I'm running Ximian Desktop 2 here at work and I noticed that the branch I'm using (unstable) has updated to the unstable GNOME 2.5 branch. Anyone else using this? See any issues? Will I fubar my system if I upgrade?
Posted by Arcterex at 08:30 AM
November 01, 2003
Microsoft Bits A couple of things about MS and their tech that I found this morning:
  • Windows XP SP2 is a look at what to expect in the as-yet-unreleased SP2 for Windows XP.
  • The version of Longhorn that was released at the Microsoft PDC show did not include the littlebit touted "Avalon" interface which utilizes hardware graphics rendering like OS/X and can (apparently) do wonderful and amazing things. Anyway, the interface is kept under tight wraps, but there are some digicam shots of it that were found over at betanews.
Posted by Arcterex at 12:51 PM