"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
July 1, 2004

Woke up at noon today, after a long night of alternating reading a PKD collection and working on Resync::*. A good balance of activities, really. Switching my code with the deranged stories of a completely mad person whose primary plot elements consist of totalitarian governments, shrewish women, and mutants with psionic abilities, the question of what is real...

This evening, Adam, Eric, Kyle and I met up at Ritz East with the intention of seeing Farenheit 9/11, but the next three showings were sold out. Unsurprising, I suppose. We walked down to the South St Diner and got some dinner.

I love South St. I really do. Passing some guy on the street... "Yo, wan' some hot mix tape fo' yo' ass? Three dollahs!"

And then later, in the grocery store, some crazy old man tried to engage me in a conversation about the U.S. supplying arms to various resistance groups in the Middle East. "We gave them those guns!" and later, perhaps only to get my attention, rattled on about how there really are aliens.

Reptilian aliens. Among us.

But they don't hurt no one.

But we need to show them that they can't just come down here anyway.

And then I came home, did laundry, and watched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which I enjoyed just as much as I did the first time I saw it, ages ago.

1:49 AM | Life

Why is mail such a pain in the ass?



So many pieces for something that is actually relatively simple. And the problem is that the pieces themselves are actually relatively well designed. (In the case of say, Postfix, exceedingly well-designed.)

But taken as a whole, it suddenly becomes something that requires a flowchart with various colors denoting things.

And that doesn't even get us to the point where we're talking about being able to authenticate users sixteen different ways bi-directionally or relaying mail between machines or talking about backups or anything remotely interesting.

For something so simple, it sure does get complex quickly.

That said, it took roughly an hour to get IMAP-SSL running on the new company mailserver today. That includes compiling. And spending a half hour not working on it. So.

Easy. But it still seems way too involved for some reason.


1:57 AM | Systems Administration | Comments (3)
July 3, 2004

Profiling Perl

I think Mark Fowler's talk at YAPC mentioned this, and I meant to figure out why Mail::Postfix::Virtual was taking ages to build the virtual addresses hash.

Yet another reminder to do so.

9:36 PM | Programming
July 6, 2004


I wish I were smart enough to figure this stuff out on my own.

But I'm not.

Thank the gods for perlmonks.

5:16 AM | Programming
July 8, 2004

These last two weeks have not been my superhappyfuntime.

The company I work at is merging with another company and their IT guy, who was not only lazy and shall we say, somewhat cavalier with regards to his duties as a systems administrator, but well... the emphasis here is was.

So at the moment I sort of have two jobs. I'm getting tired of 12-16 hour days.

Not to mention the two 24 hour days.

The biggest problem I have is that their entire shop is Windows-based, except for two Macs in pre-press and two in design. That leaves about two dozen Windows workstations, half of which are infected with various forms of viruses, and three Windows servers.

Including, for some as-yet-to-be-determind, an MSSQL machine.

I suppose that explains the "FixBlaster.exe" binary on the PDC's desktop.

I'm just not used to a Windows environment, I think. Tuesday, network connectivity was being super spotty; "Crap," I think. "That 486 junk firewall I replaced their horrible SonicWall with is dying on me." So I go and steal a disk out of a machine whose processor fan had recently failed, install OpenBSD on it, and waste half an hour of bandwidth and a half hour of my time (counting interruptions to deal with other stuff) that the network is still thrashing.

"Bloody Hell," I says, watching it take six packets to get anything anywhere. "hm, are my pf rules screwy?" pf is turned off and the connection is again happy. "Well, I suppose that hopefully rules out the NICs and the hardware," I thinks to meself.

So I finally do what I should have done in the first place:

tcpdump -eni ep0


"Golly gee, that's a lot of 135 and 445 traffic going to space... space that doesn't exist. Invalid subnets. Damnit!"

And let's not forget the 6667 traffic fleeing outbound to the world, doing gods know what...

So I quickly block all egress traffic save for a few required ports, and connectivity is somewhat happier, though hardly not at all. So I ponder to myself, "Ponder ponder, what's the probl-- oh. Queues."

Yes indeedy. It was taken half a dozen to a dozen packets to fall up the goddamn stack and get routed. Luckily I'm a complainer and Andrew quickly suggested that I just block all non-valid traffic on the internal interface, so the junk never gets processed.

Word to Andrew.

tcpdump -c 50000 -eni xl0 src net and dst net and dst net \! > infected_hosts ; awk '{print $6}' infected_hosts |sed -e /.....$/s///|sort|uniq

(My regexp sucks so much.)

That was an adventure!

And not the only one for that day, but the only one that I can remember, because it involved me being stupid. And I always remember those stories.

Today was also pretty awful, but I got a lot done. It's funny how that works. I spent about an hour swapping machines because one of the managers decided to upgrade a piece of software on an operating system that doesn't support... something or other the new version of the application needs. So yesterday Adam installed it on a Win2k box, which is what it wanted.

Only the guy forgot to mention that some printers needed to sort of be hooked up to that box... "Looks like a job for bda!"

So this new machine is actually one of our old ones, but it's been at the new building for maybe three months. And it was caked with dust. And the older box that I was swapping out? Oh. I think at one point, it was probably that stupid tan color old machines all are. But it was grey.

And my clothes? Well, they were black when I started. By 1130, though, they were white.


Luckily I still had a box of Christmas clothes in my cube at the other building, so I could change and not be covered in goddamn dust all day. Whee!

The only thing I feel even remotely good about is that the new mailserver appears to be operating optimally. There was some issue with IMAP and Mail.app... namely, if you create a folder on the IMAP server, then add a message to it... delete the message... and then delete the folder, Mail.app cries. "Can't SELECT!" Because it doesn't refresh after deleting and before opening again. And it was connecting way too much.

But I realized I was blocking the UDP ports IMAP wants on the box, and that seems to have fixed the issue. I didn't look too much into it... tomorrow I'll see exactly why that might be. It seems... odd to use UDP for those operations. But what do I know.

I'm not even going to get into the dozen or so "omfg!" fires that people came to be about, causing me to not clean the infected Windows machines. argh. You'd think that'd be my priority, and it is, but it still hasn't happened. Gods willing, I'll get to that tomorrow morning and afternoon.

What else, what else.

Apparently the previous IT guy's default responses to anything anyone ever asked him to do were:

  • No.

  • I can't do that.

And if you came to him with something broken?

  • Deal with it.

Needless to say, this did not go over well with the users (You know, his fellow employees? The people he was being paid to assist?), and they are all somewhat shocked, I think, to find Adam (who has been at the new building for a month or so now, and also helping them out) and myself somewhat... helpful.

And pleasant.

And useful.

And they seem truly astounded perhaps not by our annoyance and the broken state of affairs, but by our wanting to make things better.

For instance! Two sales guys have a printer in their office, a big HP 8500. Nice printer. It speaks JetDirect. The two designers, who use Macs find it with no problem. Humans ask the "sysadmin" if they can print to it. He tells them, "No, you can't. Windows can't print to that printer."

A week after his ass gets canned, the matter is brought to Adam's attention, who says "wtf?" and yesterday asks me to take care of it today.

I poke around for a few minutes, having absolutely no idea how to get a printer without a real printserver to work on Windows. In OS X-land, it's trivial to get it working (and, I assume, just as trivial with AppleShare/AppleTalk in OS 9 or whatever, as that's what the designers use). However, I am a somewhat astute observer of human behavior, so I check the "sysadmin's" WindowsXP workstation, which I have access to.

Lo and behold, he has the printer added. I check to see how it's configured, and apparently you add the thing as a local printer, then configure the port via IP... pretty silly, I think to myself, but exceedingly straight-forward.

I go to add the printer on the sales guy's workstations, and one of them tells me that the "sysadmin" had told him once: "Yeah, you can use that printer. You just have to install the drivers and figure out the IP. I'm sure you can do it." And walked away.

This is, of course, while the machine I was touching was pulling the drivers off the fucking printer and installing them.

In all, this process took perhaps fifteen minutes, five of which I had spent poking at the printer itself like a retarded monkey with a dopamine problem.

(And then a Mac OS 9 box ate its "Volume Header", which I presume to be some sort of MBR analogue, and after I screwed with Open Firmware for ten minutes, I got someone to bust out a Norton Utilities CD and that fixed it right up.)

So that's what I'm up against. Years of that kind of "administration." The place is an enormous mess, and I think it's going to drive me insane. That was just an example. I could go into detail about the problems with the network itself... but it would all be stupid stuff like the gateway's IP being

The only lights on my horizon at this point is that I've been promised an Xserve and a terabyte XRAID, with which I can get rid of the NT4 PDC and manage both the Macs (which will outnumber the Windows boxes once my company finally gets into the new building) and the Windows boxes.

Joy. Network authentication and control and gods willing some form of remote patch management.

Also, Hunter and the company librarian (the guy who deals with backups) and I finally managed to get together and have a nice productive meeting about Archivist, the NetBackup replacement (and job management, and archiver, and possibly some form of remote data access and preview functionality stuff) I designed and started writing months ago... and then stopped because this merger started happening. But with Hunter coding, it should actually get somewhere, and become useful, and with Adam driving Hunter, it should get done. The backend stuff is all designed following the Postfix model... which is to say, the UNIX model, which is to say... Hopefully I won't fuck up a good thing.

And it'll be OSS. Yay.

During this meeting the owner was sitting at his desk (his office is in the conference room) and was half-listening to us. At one point we were talking about system failures and he said "Woah, I don't want to hear that talk?" "What?" "I don't tolerate system failures." "No, you plan for them."

"Bah!" says he.

And now? Now I'm going to sleep. Because I deserve it.

(I realize the above examples seem somewhat trivial and probably childish. But fuck you. It's obnoxious. It's Windows. I am a UNIX ADMINISTRATOR DAMNIT. I'll whine if I want to while I'm getting all this Microsoft garbage shoved down my throat.)

/* Oh. And I'm missing HOPE because the things I mentioned are 15% of what I wanted to get done this week, and because I want to start moving into my new apartment with my friend Pete this weekend. Which is also something to look forward to. To put it mildly. */

10:00 PM | Systems Administration | Comments (4)
July 9, 2004

09:40 < vai> bda: also - if you're running windows machines inside - get the MS baseline sec. analyser.
09:41 <@bda> The what?
09:41 < vai> it can audit yer net for the known holes
09:41 <@ejp> the what?
09:41 <@ejp> bah, fuck that. just secure the perimiter.
09:41 <@bda> vai: In Real Network Administration, that's called "snort".
09:41 < vai> bda: it get windows patches. and fixes.
09:41 < vai> snort doesn't
09:41 <@ejp> I put a nice hard Unix shell around the soft GUI center.
09:42 <@bda> Heh.
09:42 <@bda> ejp++

9:43 AM | irk

Huh. DTrace seems pretty cool.

2:00 PM | Linkwhore
July 10, 2004

* rjbs ponders abusing Inline::Files
* bda calls the Module Abuse Hotline.
< rjbs> Show us where the programmer touched you.
< mrsolo> no no
< mrsolo> keep xs to youself

(I sense a "PERL ISA BUS" meme coming on.)

11:00 PM | irk
July 12, 2004

I was going to move today. Andrew and I were going to get a U-Haul and get a bunch of stuff from various places around town where he has kit stashed that was earmarked to be thrown away. Including a Sun E4500.

Then we were going to swing by my place, get the big stuff that couldn't be easily transported in a cab (like, say, my bed, and desk, and monitors), and dump it off at my new place.

Pity it's fucking pissing rain out.


July 15, 2004

Spent Tuesday packing and getting everything moved into the new place.

After moving a van full of stuff out of Hahnemann and then all my junk, Andrew, Evan and I spent about four total hours moving crap around the city. The new place (Pete's) is a trinity, which means it's small, three stories, and has Death Stairs up which no bed may climb.

So Russ (the landlord's son) helped us get the bed (slightly smaller than a queen, and freaking heavy) up into the second story window using nothing but a power cord and a threat against Pete's life (who was pushing the thing up the wall on top of a step ladder).

I didn't do much of the work on that one, and was busy pulling the end into position from the third floor, so didn't get to see the glorious moment when the bed went in the hole.


My week has been insane even without moving. Work continues to be strenuous. I was up all Tuesday night, curled in pain, because I'm a weak little bitch of a nerd. Yay for strained muscles. Always my arms.

Last night Mike and I left work just as it started pouring rain, and for the ten seconds I was out of the car (he dropped me off in the city), I managed to get completely soaked. Spent the rest of the night finishing up my room and hanging out with Pete.

He suggested I read Abarat by Clive Barker, so I started it last night as well. About a hundred pages in, enjoying it thus far. Suitably weird.

Tomorrow my parents are flying in for ten days.

This is going to be interesting.

2:50 PM | Life
July 17, 2004

Just finished readng Clive Barker's Abarat, Pete's suggestion. The story is very traditionally fairy tale-ish, only with that unmistakably perverse Clive Barker twist.

The story follows the adventure of the unfortunately named Candy Quackenbush as she skips school after getting in a fight with her ogrish teacher. Candy leaves the dull, abusive life of Chickentown (where all they do is raise chickens), Minnesota when she meets up with an odd creature named John Mischief, and his seven brothers (who live in his antlers).

After a battle introducing the very disturbing Mendleson Shape (who has four cruciform-swords growing out of his back), the Johns and Candy are swept away on an ocean (yes, in the middle of Minnesota) to the islands of the Abarat, where she's introduced to various factions at work there, and the many strange inhabitants.

There are twenty-five islands, one for each Hour, and one which is Time out of Time. Each island is always at whatever Hour it happens to be. Previous by some decades to the story, there was a war between the Day and Night islands, which is just a neat idea.

I actually tend to enjoy kids books, especially if they seem like they'll grow and become more mature as the characters (and the target readers) do. Probably the primary reason I love the Harry Potter books so much is that they get progressively more adult as Harry does.

I can definitely envision Barker doing the same thing with the remaining four Abarat books.

Barker includes a number (usually one for every two pages) of illustrations that are, generally, delightfully weird or just downright disturbing.

Overall, I enjoyed the book immensely and will impatiently await the second in the series, Days of Magic, Nights of War.

Pete also informs me that the books were commisioned by Disney, and that they're making rides and a movie out of them. I can't imagine how that's going to work out...

4:23 PM | Books
July 19, 2004

Pete and I got bored the other night and went out to the Bridge to catch Spiderman 2. Excellent film. Sam Raimi is a genius. I was extremely pleased with the entire movie, except the bit that suggests that the next villian is going to be Harry as the Green Goblin. That shit is just annoying.

Can't wait for Venom, though. That's going to be awesome.

I, Robot was crap, complete and utter. Parents took Evan and I to see it at the Riverview last night. People talking on cell phones, yelling stupid shit at each other, but who cares? The movie was ass. (Pete insists it was good because robots climbing on buildings is scary; I am ambivilent towards robots climing on buildings.)

Took the folks to Tacorio, or whatever the hell that Mexican place on Washinton Ave is called. They enjoyed it muchly. The food still isn't as good as the first time Factory kids went there, but it's still palatable.

And now it's time for sleep.

10:01 PM | Movies

Got home around 1800, sat around for an hour trying to decide what to eat. Pete tried calling Dominoes, which failed as cell phones get crap signal in our building. Ended up making burgers on Tex's (Pete's previous roommate) George Foreman Grill, while Pete mad owned some Easy Mac.

Sat down and watched The Mothman Prophecies which was a pretty decent movie, all around. Slow, but weird enough the slow progression wasn't obnoxious. There were a couple scenes that were exceedingly freaky. The most important one I actually missed:

When John is on the phone arguing with the voice analysis guy, and boiling water, watch the mirror, just before he slams the bathroom door and you see the face (which is the obvious part).


Subtle and incredibly fucked up. Good stuff.

10:06 PM | Movies
July 21, 2004
July 28, 2004

So NWS has been a lying whore lately, and telling us all that there is a chance of rain every other day for the past two weeks or so. Apparently chance rain is actually something that can be accrued and used at a single time, because last night, lo, there was what Adam correctly described as Matrix Rain ("You know, from the first movie. The one that didn't suck"). Rain that bounced three inches when it hit the pavement. Rain like a woman's wrath.

Adam and I are walking up Broad from Factory, looking to get a cab, and the sky Opens. He scurries under the cover of a gas station and I mock him, because I am an ass. Eventually a cab rolls in to get gas and we jump in that.

This is after we go to SFBC for dinner, where all they play any more is 80s pop music. Finally met Drexel Eric (muhar) and I think we spent the better of an hour trying to figure out various songs we knew the lyrics to, but not the title or artist. Our culture is fucking awesome.

Get home, soaked, and Pete informs me that The Bourne Supremecy was great, but all the OMFG ACTION CAMERA SHAKING actually made his friend Joe vomit. That's pretty fucking awesome, if you ask me. The last movie that made me vomit was The Little Mermaid Does Atlantis. You wouldn't think merfolks tails could used be like that, but nature will find a way.

Michelle has asked me to be her date to Adam and Sophy's wedding in September, which is pretty great. Apparently she gets twitchy in crowds where people are speaking a foreign language, so regardless of the ceremony of itself, I should have a decent source of amusement. The wedding is three days long, though we'll only be going Saturday (which is the religious component. There will be monks. We will attempt to get them to do body shots. As I told Michelle, no doubt monks are wild and crazy guys under those top knots), and Sunday (the reception). It will be an Experience.

My parents were visiting all last week, and it was Good. I think my mom got to see everything she wanted to see, they went to New York (which my mother proclaimed to be "small", a concept I am having difficulty understanding), they got to meet all my friends, so now they know I hang out with a bunch of insane vagrants, as opposed to simply having to believe my stories.

Actually, they got along well with everyone and perhaps my mother will cease berating me constantly about going out and meeting people. If these are the sort of people I'll be meeting, maybe I'm better off sticking with what I've got, hm?

We watched The Boondock Saints, which they enjoyed muchly. During the deleted "Mom Calls From Home" scene, I thought my parents were going to explode from laughing. You can say anything, apparently, as long as it's with an Irish accent, and it'll be okay with them. Word up.

Work has continued to be crazy. We're moving furniture and running cable today. The electrician was kind enough to leave pull strings in the drops he punched in the wall, so it's just a matter of measuring the runs. Joy.

I love ladders, and I love crawling around on ceilings. They are my most favoritest things in the whole wide world.

Speaking of, I should probably get ready for work. Need to do laundry, so finding somewhat non-smelly clothes will be amazing.

8:07 AM | Life
July 29, 2004

Today was freaking exhausting.

Work was pretty awful. I accomplished very little (save for getting mirroring on the production volumes working again... which was trivial), and was incredibly frustrated by the end of the day.

So we recently swapped old Macs out for new WinXP boxes in accounting. I would prefer eMacs, but whatever. So like most accounting/payroll departments, they have an ancient printer that they use for invoices. The "invoicing printer". Which is always ancient.

The previous printserver on this printer was AppleTalk only. So I get the CTO to buy a new printerserver. It comes in last week, and I don't get around to installing it, or swapping out the second machine (there are two), because I'm too busy, and interrupting her work this week would not be good for anyone (payroll! invoices!), but the CTO tells me to do it. So I do.

The CTO is getting his interrupt privileges on me removed.

First off, the Wintel box's print driver for the Okidata 320 is screwed. It prints huge, I don't know why, but she has other probelms with the machine so I swap her old Mac back and have her use that until I have more time (next week, probably). We do a test print with the old AppleTalk printserver, it's fine... Then I realize that it's probably just a DPI issue... so I go and look, and while the Mac has 72x72, the Windows box is printing at 120x72... but it only does 60x72. Which is an issue. I swap the printservers back, just to see... sure enough, it cuts off the right margin. Which is where the dollar amounts are. So 1500.00 becomes 150, which is less than trivial.

So I swap em back... and the Mac refuses to print. It sees the printer okay, but says "Waiting for printer to become available." What the hell is this, I wonder. I run Adam's car back to him at the other building, and we head back over so I can deal with it (hopefully) before leaving (or staying until I deal with it and figuring out some other way to get to the train station later).

I'm really frustrated by this point. I mean, really getting pissed off. My entire day has gone like this, and this is just one more thing I don't need on top of three months of crap. So Adam looks at the Mac, sees that it's all set up correctly, and goes and pokes at the printer.

He holds up the other end of the printer cable and says, "This may be the problem."


Then I headed back into the city, and got soaked through with sweat waiting for the Broad Line. They need to install fans or something in those stations, it's fucking awful down there. Met up with Adam, went to Factory, hung out for a bit... And then. Then!

Had to go to the old apartment to clean up. I spent an hour and a half there (30m more than I wanted) and ended up completely cleaning out the basement, which I didn't care about at all. The only good part was kicking a couch apart. Completely destroying the thing to get it out of there. That was keen. The pile of garbage was about four feet high and seven feet long. I have my doubts about the garbage crew taking it, but who knows.

Except I think I bruised the bottom of my right foot. :)

Stupid lack of steel inserts in my boots!

After that, it was a matter of running a few more errands, heading home to get clothes, talking to Pete for a few minutes, heading over to Adam's to wash them (the clothes, though Pete can always do with a good rinse cycle), getting food from Sev, heading back to Factory, talking about Factory for a half hour or so (which we haven't done in a while)... came up with some good propaganda ideas, etc. Need to get solios on those.

And... while we were at Adam's, he was busy mirroring (using the "Are you migrating from an older machine?" functionality of new Macs) his RevA PB12" with his new (grant supplied) RevC PB12". Which is now sitting on my bed finishing it's OS X Panther install. Yay. New laptop for me.

In fact, selene Mk II just finished, so I'm going to copy all my junk over so I can use it at work tomorrow and then crash. I'm pretty excited about having a fast laptop finally. It shouldn't take me 45s to parse an NMAP XML file with 50 hosts in it... even if my code does suck. :)

And yeah. That was all very poorly written (ha!) but I'm beat. So. Setup then sleep. Yes.

It is so awesome having clean clothes, I can't even tell you.

Clothes that don't smell like me at my worst are possibly my favorite ever right now.

Except perhaps for the fact that my new laptop has wireless and I'm typing this entry from the shitter.

Pete Moffe: you are such a fucking pig. that rocks.

Much <3

9:50 AM | Life
July 30, 2004

I am sick and tired of all my sad songs.