Wed, 07 Jun 2006

I speak proper england!

(... well, I like to think I can!)

So, on a completely unimportant website that I frequent, I've ended up being a moderator on the site forums. Something about knowing *nix and PHP apparently.. Anyway, I've always had a beef with the way english is used and abused on the Internet. You know, all those abbreviations, and incorrect word usage that just seethes "I'm an illiterate prick." U, 2, ur, da, r, etc etc.. and also the so incredibly common misuse of your/you're and they're/there/their. GAH. Yech.

Anyway, this particular site is no exception. Some of the users have appalling habits. (Ab)using my powers as a moderator, I've started to demand some care and attention to the most glaring errors - mainly towards my most intense pet peeve, misuse of "your" and "you're".

Looking for a place that describes all this stuff well, I stumbled across this site. I couldn't have said it better. Thank you Sarah D. Bunting!

(I especially liked, and agree with this:

And no, in fact, I don't know what you mean when you write me a hate mail that reads, "You're site sucks," because that doesn't mean anything. Because it's grammatically incorrect. Because you've substituted a contraction of a verb phrase for an adjective, thus rendering the sentence nonsensical. And it makes you look stupid, and therefore I cannot take you seriously.


[23:10] [/Random] [permanent link]

Fri, 07 Apr 2006


Seriously, I'm not just responding to only you Erich.. Anyway, that's an evil thing to post on a Friday (for me). I can see I'll get no work done now. *sigh*.

Oh, I found an example of your solution:

Planarity Solution

[21:11] [/Random] [permanent link]

Thu, 06 Apr 2006

And now for something completely Clichéd..

Check this out... (As I write this, it's about to tick over the 2,000,000 he's wanting.)

I'm not entirely sure what to think.. Not a bet I'd take, I don't think. (Yes, I am a male, but I just couldn't do that...)

[08:55] [/Random] [permanent link]

Sun, 17 Jul 2005

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.

Erm.. yeah, I think I mentioned before that I don't do book reviews, but I couldn't help myself. Despite what appears to me to be a larger proportion of people my age and with my interests thinking the Harry Potter series to be a bit childish, I've found them very entertaining. And a good story line to boot.

So, A few weeks ago I dropped by a local bookstore to pre-order a copy - Raewyn and I had an agreement that I would be allowed to read the book first, as she is a significantly faster reader than I, and has a habit of letting plot secrets out before you get to finish it after her.. As such, I spent most of the 26 hours after it was released reading the sixth installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I decided to use the release as a location for a bit of photography practice with my new 20D..

The young chap in the first image had been waiting at the front of the queue for about 2.5 hours.. not for me!

I met a reporter at the store, and we discussed what he'd been chatting to some of the folks in the queue. A good point was raised - the length, complexity, and general tone of story had changed with each successive book to match the capabilities and understanding of the original target audience - Younger teens, who now, 8 years after Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone graced bookstore shelves, are approaching their early twenties.

Now, to the story - I do heartily apologise to anyone who reads past this paragraph - here is your warning: SPOILERS FOLLOW, if you want to read this book, I highly recommend you bog off now... I repeat, SPOILERS FOLLOW.

For those that just want to know what happens, in a longwinded and badly constructed sentence, here goes; Harry discovers jealousy, and falls for Ginny Weasley, Ron and Hermione do the courting dance, but neither get to the point of actually admitting fondness to each other, Snape's a traitor, Malfoy wants to be a traitor, Harry learns about Tom Riddle's past, and ultimately begins to understand with the help of Dumbledore, what he has to do to defeat Voldemort, and Dumbledore is killed (by Snape).

The story starts of rather slow, and with little intrigue compared to the finale of the previous book. Because of this, I kept thinking "Wow, I'm this far through, what could really happen now that's bad?" (little did I know!). Eventually, things kicked into life, as Harry learnt about Riddle's past with help from private lessons with Dumbledore involving the pensieve. Basically, Voldemort has created six Horcruxes (objects that are used to store a parts of a soul) which must be found and destroyed before Voldemort himself can be killed. One such Horcrux was Riddle's diary that Harry destroyed back in The Chamber of Secrets. After learning of this crucial information, the book comes to a screaming finale as Harry and Dumbledore journey to find and destroy another Horcrux (which turns out to be fake, but that's inconsequential at this point).

During the course of the story, Harry becomes more and more convinced that Malfoy is up to no good, but Hermione and Ron are not quite so sure - it turns out he was right, Malfoy had become a Death Eater in his fathers stead, and Voldemort had placed upon him the task of killing Dumbledore. Early in the story, when we are unaware of what the task is, Snape is approached by Malfoy's fearful mother who insists that Snape make an Unbreakable Vow to protect Malfoy, and to carry out the task if he fails - needless to say, he does, since Malfoy appears to not be up to the task.

This early meeting with Malfoy's mother, is where we are first introduced to the possibility that Snape may well be a traitor to the Order of the Phoenix. I was finding it hard to believe to start with, but it's been such a recurring theme throughout the entire series that he is suspected by many to not be as faithful as Dumbledore thinks, that it becomes much easier to swallow. Although, this very belief of Dumbledore's, plays a large part in his demise. Sadly, it tarnishes the character somewhat - but thinking back, Dumbledore does admit to Harry that even he makes mistakes. It's a shame that he only realises that his faith in Snape is wrong at the very end.

But what about stopping Voldemort acquiring the Philosophers stone you ask? That comes up - At the time, Snape thinks it is only Quirrell after the Stone.. There are other such points, and questions asked of apparent contradictions throughout the story.. All are answered, and quite satisfactorily in my opinion.

Anyway, to conclude, I'll state that this is another very good installment from Rowling - She's done well, and I honestly do look forward to the seventh, and I believe final, book in the series.

Oh, and who is the Half-Blood Prince? I'm afraid that I am going to leave that one for those that actually read the book!

[02:26] [/Random] [permanent link]

Thu, 09 Jun 2005

Which Tablet PC?

John Goerzen blogs of trying to decide which TabletPC to get.. the HP TC1100 of course!

I'm using one - all bits of hardware apart from the SD card reader, and the tablet 'buttons' (that you press with the stylus) light up under Linux. Although, I haven't tried very hard with either of these... The keyboard is detachable as he wants too - it's just USB.

[01:49] [/Random] [permanent link]

Wed, 01 Jun 2005

Like, Duh.

Ok, so I'm a dufus. I previously blogged about keysigning with caff, and how easy it was. Well, caff uses a perl module that uses your MTA to make its deliveries - from your local user account. Anyone sense the problem yet? Since my laptop has a hostname that's resolvable only within my personal home LAN, nearly half of all the keysigning I did never actually went anywhere... it got to my smtp server, sat there for a while due to the remote servers rejecting/deferring due to a non-resolvable envelope sender, and then promptly got deleted once the retries failed. Wibble.

So, I grepped my laptop hostname out of the exim logs, found the unique exim ids within, grepped those out into individual files, and did a little shell hackery to work out who's email addresses didn't get a key delivered. Luckily, caff keeps a nice working directory of the keys you've signed, and the mail messages it sent - so, now I've got 80 odd messages that I'll be reinserting into my MTA queue, and sending on their way - after adding the appropriate line to my smtp server's exim.conf:

# Rewrite stuff from my laptop, so it's got a valid envelope domain.
^(.*)@flatbed\.int\.ethernal\.org$  $ SF

Anyway, to those of you out there that are about to get spammed with old messages, I apologise - but they *are* only about 3 weeks old. If you're lucky, I may feel like updating all the Date: headers, but I dunno... seems like too much work.

Oh - How did I find these? I was futzing around trying to get exim4 working on my new laptop, specifically so I could use caff, to sign AJ's new key, and discovered the log entries on my smtp server of the failed deliveries. Anthony, I hope you feel special :P

[00:48] [/Random] [permanent link]

Fri, 13 May 2005

No Thanks to Bdale...

Well, actually, it really is Thanks to Bdale that you may have received a few mails from me containing gpg signatures... He made me feel somewhat guilty about the number of keys that I've got credentials for that I hadn't gotten around to signing..

So, I've only got a page of signing to do from Debconf3, and then I'm caught up. I'll do a Bdale and suggest that if you're sitting on a few pending keys to sign, get cracking! caff makes it so easy, without the hassle of that cabot stuff.

[10:09] [/Random] [permanent link]

Was is Worth it?

I spotted this on Michael Ellerman's blog, who's syndicated on Planet Linux Australia.

I wasn't really expecting the content, but hell, it certainly makes you stop and think.. Obviously something Bush didn't do.

[20:27] [/Random] [permanent link]

Wed, 11 May 2005

Just for Mako..

I was out last night for an hour or so, attempting to find a few of the waypoints for a Multi-cache Geocache with Raewyn.. That's a complete other story, which I won't tell now (or probably ever, for that matter).

Anyway, on the way home we decided to pop by the little dairy[1] that sells this wondrous thing called "Country Fried Chicken" - Yes, a KFC ripoff. But, the chips[2] are so much better.

Whilst there, I spied a neat little sign that instantly reminded me of Mako, and his fascination with cultural language differences... Please excuse the quality, I currently do not have a digital camera, and I was limited to the 640x480 crap that my PocketPC/Phone/Camera/thing can do. Enjoy:

Translations for the silly Americans:
[1]: Corner Store, or 7/11 I guess.
[2]: Fries.

[22:51] [/Random] [permanent link]

Fri, 06 May 2005

Unread Hell


(That's liferea, in case you didn't know - I'm such a slack bastard when it comes to staying up to date.. you don't want to see my mailboxes)

[08:22] [/Random] [permanent link]

Sun, 27 Mar 2005

Ampersand Breakages in XML feeds.

Jose Carlos Garcia Sogo writes of reports that one of his blog entries was disrupting some feed readers, and that he was given the impression it was his fault.. It wasn't.

I've just starting using Liferea after reading that Julian Danjou is giving it a go.

I noticed that Liferea was throwing up a nice big red warning stating the feed was broken when clicking on "Planet Debian" in the feed list. After a bit of investigation, I found that Jose's feed was fine, it was the one that Planet was giving - somewhere along the line, it had decided to change Jose's "&" into "&" (I hope those render properly!)

So, basically, it's a bit ripe of people to blame the source, when it's actually an aggregator in between that's taking a perfectly good feed and breaking it. I'd call that a bug, wouldn't you?

[22:58] [/Random] [permanent link]

Wed, 08 Dec 2004

Not Since!

Not to finger point... but..

I'm no english geek (but I am somewhat of an anal-retentive prick about such things) - using "since" as in "the cable modem has been acting weird since a while" is incorrect... Being a native english speaker, the reason is not forthcoming to me (I think it's incorrect to use it in the past tense?). I guess this is because you're never really taught all the semantic rules of your native language, since you're brought up with it, not taught it. To me it just sounds wrong! (It should be "... for a while")

Could some english/language geek please clarify this?

Anyway, apart from that... McD's is a bad thing to eat on an empty stomach... making me feel slightly nauseous, so here I am stuck up at 2320 writing this blog entry.

UPDATE 2004/12/09: Thanks!
Ok, thanks to all those that responded with a clarification! Now that I think of it, I did know the reasoning, I just didn't think about it enough.. Anyway, it has nothing to do with tense - You use 'since' when you're talking about a defined point in time, and 'for' when you're talking about a duration. Compare "the cable modem has been acting weird since Monday" with "the cable modem has been acting weird for a while".

[09:21] [/Random] [permanent link]

Tue, 09 Nov 2004

Stoned on Duty

As much as the title of this entry seems intriguing, I'm sorry, it's just a book title. I wouldn't normally do a book review type thing, but this is a rare case where I've read something that deserves to be mentioned.

Anyway, Stoned on Duty is a book about the escapades of a New Zealand undercover Police officer by the name of Peter Williamson, and how what he did in his job helped to bring down a large portion of the Coromandel marijuana scene. It also goes on to explain how he coped (or not) with drug addiction after returning to uniformed duty. Both he and his wife became heavy marijuana users (she was an undercover officer too), and continued to be so after returning to uniformed duty, where they grew apart, seperated, and generally ran completely off the rails.

There's a really good bit about how he was on duty in a smaller city south of here, where he'd collected a teenage vandal from a bottle store, and placed him in the holding cell, but not locked the door - It was a new lock, and he hadn't learnt the trick to locking it yet. Suffice to say, the teenager managed to leave the Police station, and go home. Peter's reaction was purely one of "Oh well, I really don't give a fuck". He sorted out the problem privately with the store owner and the teenager to avoid having to tell his boss about what had happened (Small town, he knew who the teenager was, and where he lived).

The book itself is not about a sob story of this Police officer, but more about attempting to draw attention to how the Brass in the force never acknowledged that its undercover agents were becoming drug addicts, and basically didn't want to have to deal with the problems this entails (officers committing purjury to convict a criminal. "No your honour, I was simulating smoking the drug when this took place" - How can the jury believe an officer that was stoned?). The official line was that the force did not condone actual use of drugs in an undercover operation, but those at the coal face knew that if they didn't, they'd be picked as cops PDQ.

Peter has his life back on track now. He left the force in 1990 on recommendation of his doctor and psychiatrist (or psychologist, I forget), since he was a danger to himself, other police officers, and the public with his drug use. After fighting for compensation, and making some publicity about the problem, he's moved on to other things... And, he actually lives in the same city as me, and is a good friend of one of my workmates.

Now there's a reason that I was loaned this book to read, but I'll let you speculate...

[23:05] [/Random] [permanent link]

Mon, 04 Oct 2004


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Just a random post... The above came around a Social list at work a few months back...

[Apologies to non-english speakers.. who may find the above harder to read than the rest of us]

[02:19] [/Random] [permanent link]

Fri, 10 Sep 2004

Tsk Tsk.

Amaya, it looks like your attempt to quit smoking was a dismal failure.

It's really not that hard....

[02:53] [/Random] [permanent link]

Mon, 29 Mar 2004


Definitely a complete waste of time, but whilst mucking around on IRC at the end of last week, I was introduced to IdleRPG. A real waste of time. Anyway, I thought.. "That'd be fun to run". So I set up a copy running in #IdleRPG on Freenode.

Yeah, it's a waste of time, I know, I already said that.... But it's been interesting watching the member count of the channel grow over time. And I've done pretty much no promotion, other than a "Join #IdleRPG" in #debian-devel's topic for about 12 hours...

[09:04] [/Random] [permanent link]

Fri, 19 Mar 2004


Colin Mentioned the town name in the background of the photograph he took of a Riceboy's car... Isn't that the name of the town in Groundhog Day? ... A little googling, and it appears so...

My last blog entry contained a picture, as a bit of an experiment..

mjb@prometheus:/var/log/apache> grep "renegade.jpg.*" access.log access.log.1 | wc -l
mjb@prometheus:/var/log/apache> grep "renegade.jpg" access.log access.log.1 | wc -l

Now I know how much data I can expect my webserver to serve if I post a picture in my blog in the future... This matters, in a bandwidth starved backwater like .nz!

[04:49] [/Random] [permanent link]

Sat, 13 Mar 2004

Antennae, and Nostalgia.

Well, It's been an interesting week. I've decided to get back into trying to construct a Dual Band J-pole, to use as a Base antenna. Although, it's frustrating the hell out of me, as the SWR results I'm getting are not matching those of the designer's. I've come to the conclusion that I may be missing something fundamental, like what frequency I should be hoping for good SWR at.. So, I've mailed Edison with a few questions... For now, it's been put aside, again.

If I said "BNU" or "fossil driver", who'd remember what I was talking about? Well, if you have no idea, they're both, well, they are (the former is one of the latter), an integral part of running a DOS based BBS. I've had a real crazy streak this week, trying to track down an original distribution of Renegade, and trying to get it going under dosemu. Wow, what fun! I finally found a copy of Renegade recent enough that works under dosemu and freedos. It's so incredibly badly coded, If it's doing anything other than waiting at the WFC screen, CPU usage soars... but anyway, it's still cool!

When I finally got Renegade up and running, the memories just started flooding back. I mean, take a look:

Now what I want to do, is get it going with multiple nodes, accessible via telnet... Which I'm finding somewhat difficult. the only tool that's vaguely useful is modemu, but it's got the wrong orientation... it's better as a client, rather than a server. Anyone got any suggestions? Or, has anyone done this before? ;) - The guts of it, is how do I connect dosemu to a 'virtual modem' on the linux side, that can take connections via a TCP port? Using a pty master/slave pair is a step in the direction I need...

Of course, there is literally no reason for this, other than wishing that BBS's were still the rage. I remember thinking that the internet wasn't as fun...

[08:40] [/Random] [permanent link]

Wed, 10 Mar 2004

A response to SMTP proxying...

In response to Steve Kemp's post about SMTP proxying, I'd like to mention that we do a very similar thing here at work. Albeit, the difference being that the relays in question are not in the DMZ.

How we approached this problem, was to make the domains local to the 'mailhub', and have 'alias tables' for said domains. Given, the hubs here run RH, so we battle with sendmail (Yech, Ick, and all that... don't get me started). Where there is purely routing to be done, we just use the mailertable, with smtp:[<host>] to get around the MX being elsewhere.. Sendmail actually makes the inital problem easy, using a virtusertable file. It ends up containing something like this:   otheruser@internalmachine1   otheruser@internalmachine2        %1@internalmachine1

Where the final line is a fall through for any other local part, if it's wanted.

Of course, this can also be really easily done with exim. First, set your domains up as local (since we need to do local part routing, we wont use relay_domains):

local_domains = /etc/exim/local_domains : /etc/exim/relay_domains

Then have a director to do the work:

  domains = /etc/exim/relay_domains
  driver = aliasfile
  file_transport = address_file
  pipe_transport = address_pipe
  file = /etc/exim/aliases_${domain}
  modemask = 002
  owngroups = mail
  owners = root
  qualify_preserve_domain = true
  search_type = lsearch

Where /etc/exim/aliases_${domain} contains:

user1:  otheruser@internalmachine1
user2:  otheruser@internalmachine2

Fall throughs can be done with another director:

  domains = /etc/exim/relay_domains
  driver = smartuser
  new_address = ${quote:$local_part}@internalmachine1

Easy! Of course, all that is Exim3 speak... I haven't bothered to upgrade and learn Exim4 speak yet... one day, just not today.

Writing a perl smtp proxy seems somewhat overkill-ish, where you suddenly have a piece of code you must maintain for eternity... But, each to their own I guess.

[21:43] [/Random] [permanent link]

Wed, 03 Mar 2004

Dead Mouse

Lovely. Last night, the nipple/clit/whatever mouse on my laptop died. Well, ok, it didn't really die, it just lost its Y-axis. Anyway, I'm just glad I use an external mouse at home and work, so it didn't bother me. But, I'm frequently not at home enough, that it would annoy me over time.

As luck would have it, the store I bought it at is right next door to work, and I happen to be a relatively good friend with the service dude. So I wandered in this morning, and showed him. He passed me a screwdriver. Turns out this is common, especially when big louts like myself put too much force on the mouse. Anyway, after reseating the ribbon cable from the keyboard to the motherboard, it starts working again. He said it was either that, or I'd busted it and the keyboard would need to be replaced. Thankfully - my warranty ran out about 9 months ago.

I decided to muck around with x2x this morning too... it's pretty neat. Now I can just pass my mouse right over past the second head on my work desktop, and control my laptop. Neato.

I also discovered - Ok, realised - that I can plug in a ps/2 keyboard before I power up and it'll work correctly... Because I'm using the Software Suspend stuff on my laptop, which means a fresh power up to init hardware after each resume. Double Neato.

Perhaps now I should do some work? nah, home for lunch.

[00:07] [/Random] [permanent link]

Thu, 26 Feb 2004

"Stumble Upon"

Ok, so I followed Adam's google link, and discovered this thing called "StumbleUpon" at Is this to be the new fad? looks like another one of those neat community things... My instantaneous reaction was along the lines of 'my my, that's spyware in-your-face'. *shrug*, I'm not one to care particularly much about who knows what pages I view, so I signed up. pretty damned easy to install too... works a treat in good old mozzy.

Oh, and some of those [turnpikefilms][] ads are great...


UPDATE 2004/02/26: Hmmmm
Ok, so it appears stumbleupon is last years fad... I seem to have a history of missing things like this....

[01:47] [/Random] [permanent link]

Tue, 24 Feb 2004

Saying goodbye to Orkut?

Having noticed that "" had expired from my browser URL history... I'm left wondering if the latest and greatest geek fad has passed on... or is it still being used out there? I only went back because I recieved another 'Foo is your friend' mail...

GTA:VC managed to suck an enourmous amount of my time this last week or so... So much for finishing GTA3 first.

[02:18] [/Random] [permanent link]

Sun, 08 Feb 2004

Planets, and Hostap.

On Planets...

Sorry Joerg, I agree with MJ Ray - Planets are about the community, not the project. This has been bashed about a lot by the Apache folk too, and thom is also an advocate of the Planet-is-a-community ideal, so I'm not going to ramble too much.... It's been covered before.

On Hostap...

I set up an old laptop today, with my surplus PrismII wireless card (a Dlink DWL-650) and hostap at my Girlfriends new flat.. Her flatmates have a DSL internet connection, so I'll pitch in with the cost, but it means I've now got wireless access at her flat too! I must admit, I'm somewhat impressed. I just installed the drivers from testing, mucked a bit till I found the ignorecisvcc option to stop this silly card causing a kernel oops, and I was away. Installed bridge-utils, wrote a short init script to start up a bridge after pcmcia started, and I now have a bridging AP! Now I'll post this whilst lying on her bed watching television... Ain't technology great?

[06:00] [/Random] [permanent link]

Mon, 02 Feb 2004

Partitioning woes

Ok, so I've got this old AlphaServer 2000 4/200. Nice machine. I shall name it 'fridge'... But, it takes those horrid little digital HDD enclosures, and I only have 2G ones. Right, how do I partition this? Ok, so I only want to partition the first drive, and create a raid5 set with the rest which would have /usr, /var and /home or so.. That's no problem.. but What can I put on the first disk without neglecting the fact I have redundancy on the raid5 set?? hmm, perhaps /boot and swap, and put / on the raid5 set too, but what else? to put it to good use?

Should I mention that I've been undecided on this for a good two and a half months or so? It's sat in my lounge waiting for me to install it... Works as a good coffee table/footrest..

There's no point in me commenting on Orkut, as everyone else has pretty much covered everything.

Only a few more days now...

[07:34] [/Random] [permanent link]

Thu, 15 Jan 2004

Bad jokes...

...were the order of the day last night.

Q: What does a fish say when it hits a concrete wall?
A: Dam.

Q: Why do the Irish call their unit of currency the 'punt' ?
A: It rhymes with 'bank manager'.

[09:41] [/Random] [permanent link]