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Wireless Networking

Journal: Clearwire forcing NAT on customers 6

Journal by Omnifarious

Clearwire is rolling out WiMAX in the Seattle area, and that comes with new modems that force you to use NAT. They aren't giving their customers public IP addresses at all. This makes running IPSEC based VPNs or 6to4 tunnels over Clearwire next to impossible, and I consider Internet service that only comes with non-publicly routeable IP address to not be real Internet service at all.

User Journal

Journal: My Stargate Universe: Air Review 1

Journal by petrus4

So I've just finished watching the three part pilot ("Air") of Stargate Universe. A lot of you already will have seen this, so spoilers won't matter so much. If you haven't seen it, and want to go into it completely cold though, proceed at your own risk.

Given how critical I'm possibly going to sound at times later in this review, I will say up front that I enjoyed this, (primarily the first two acts) and strongly recommend it to anyone who likes character-driven science fiction. I have more problems with the third act, (particularly the resolution, which was a pure deus ex machina copout by the writers) but the first two acts represent the strongest sci fi pilot I've seen since either Firefly or Voyager, and one of the most impressive pilots I've seen overall.

To use one of the show's own expressions, "Air," comes in hot. It's earliest moments are arguably its' very best; there's a lot there to like. Joel Goldsmith deserves a very large part of the credit for that as well, with a soundtrack that created exactly the sort of vibe that I was expecting from the advance material I'd read, and really helped build suspense and an alien atmosphere. The sense of just how far the survivors are from home is palpable at times, too; a lot moreso than Voyager, where the distance was basically just an arbitrary number that got casually thrown around, most of the time.

Most of you will have a basic idea of what the series is about in broad strokes. A group of scientists go to a remote planet, (Icarus) to try and dial a gate address, in order to figure out what the mysterious ninth chevron of the Stargate is used for. If you're sufficiently new to the series that you don't know what the ninth chevron is, then you're likely going to need more orientation than I can give you in this review, although this episode of SGU tries to give you some.

Anyway, while they're doing this, the base gets attacked by unknown aliens with Goa'uld ships, during the dialing experiment, which initially fails. They're initially going to do the smart thing and dial back to Earth, but then Dr. Nicholas Rush (essentially SGU's answer to Zachary Smith of Lost in Space; that's a minor oversimplification, perhaps, but sadly not much) orders that the ninth chevron experiment be performed again. This time it connects, and the gate opens.

The Icarus attack was a little deus ex, but not hugely unforgiveable. I also would have actually preferred confirmation of whether or not they were in fact Goa'uld, rather than just Random Aliens of the Week(tm) who coincidentally had Goa'uld death gliders and Ha'taks. They also aren't given any motivation, either. They're just there, attacking, apparently because they got bored, and decided to shoot up a planet for something to do. We don't know.

The people on the base don't have anywhere else to go, and have no time to redial Earth. They go through, and the initial result of that is the opening scene.

That opening scene is executed very well, and is, as mentioned, probably the single best thing about this entire three hours. There's a very real sense that what has happened, has been the result of things majorly going south, with the ultimate turn of events being entirely unplanned.

The single main thing which unfortunately spoils the promise of the opening scene, is the inclusion of the Ancient stones which let the Icarus survivors contact Earth. It destroys most of the initial tension, and I really wish the writers could have resisted the need to give the characters an easy form of Earth communication, at least until a good way through the series. One of the things Voyager got right, was doing that during the last season, not the first.


Originality here, if I'm honest, is largely absent. The episode did a very good job, during at least the first two acts, however, of giving me the impression that I was seeing something I hadn't seen before.

This, however, is something which needs some clarifying. SGU has a lot in common with Harry Potter in this respect. What do I mean by that?

I mean that the Harry Potter stories are made up of a collection of component stereotypes which, by themselves, are completely non-original; but the arrangement of said non-original elements is sufficiently unconventional as to still be interesting. SGU is similar; for anyone who's watched a lot of science fiction, the ingredients will taste very familiar, but the overall pizza comes together in an offbeat and satisfying way.

There have been comparisons of this with Star Trek: Voyager, although except for the initial premise in very broad terms, and the gritty, postmodern vibe, the two aren't really similar. I was also one of apparently very few people who liked Voyager, although I recognised that the two prerequisites of doing that were a) ignoring Janeway, (who far and away represented Voyager's biggest problem) and b) reading a lot of fanfic as well, and appreciating the show more for what it could have been, than what it actually was.

Voyager started off with a similar initial premise, but then dropped it when that show's writers considered it too risky. Whether or not MGM's writers do the same thing with SGU remains to be seen, although we can strongly hope that they don't. Then, of course, there was Firefly, which had a similar structure in some respects, but was canned by the suits for being too unconventional and intelligent, as well. Suits don't like taking risks, and it will be interesting to see whether or not MGM's writers are going to be able to retain control over the direction of this show.

In terms of resemblance to other series, however, the structure of SGU's pilot is very similar to what I remember from either Sliders or Quantum Leap. If you want to make comparisons with what has come before, Sliders in particular is a good fit. We're given the setup of the initial situation during the first and second acts, and the third act basically gives us our first "slide," or "leap;" in other words an example of what we're going to be seeing on a weekly basis.

The show has also added the following wrinkles to the usual gate travel formula:-
a) The ship which they're aboard is on autopilot, and travelling at faster than light speeds. Every so often it stops near a planet with a Stargate.

b) Once the ship stops, a timer counts down. The ship will only stay within proximity of the given Stargate for 12 hours, before moving on again. This adds some additional urgency to the usual pattern, and may also give us so interesting additional, as-yet-unforeseen consequences as well. This also adds to the degree of similarity with Sliders.

The one area where this show is somewhat original, (at least in terms of the first two acts) is in terms of the degree of solemnity and gravity. As other reviewers have noted, SG1 in particular was nearly always a lot more lighthearted than this; with only a few rare exceptions, there was never any real doubt that Our Heroes would get home in one piece, and everything would be OK in the end. Here, that's nowhere near as certain.

Both the humour and the deus ex machina don't really kick in until the third act; the first two are very much, to quote 4chan's subculture, serious business.

Until I realised the Zachary Smith connection at least, Dr. Rush also kept me guessing. It's difficult to figure out whether or not he really is the proverbial mad scientist, or if he genuinely isn't a bad guy, but sometimes just gets a little too fixated on pure science to remember some of the more important things; like, say, other people's lives. He is the closest thing the pilot has to an antagonist.

It's also very true, as another reviewer said, that Rush is in no way similar to Atlantis' Rodney McKay. McKay could be obnoxious, but was sporadically capable of genuine heroism as well, and when push came to shove, there was never any question of whose side he was on.

It's a bit disappointing just how strong the similarity is between Rush and Zachary Smith is at times, truthfully. There is at least one occasion where Rush nearly gets himself shot by one of the soldiers during the third act, and he does so by being foppishly, pompously antagonistic in almost exactly the same way that Smith would have done. Most of the time Rush's degree of subtlety is good, but occasionally he goes too far overboard.

Overall, although "Air," definitely has some flaws, the main impression was extremely positive, and I was wishing at the end of it that I could have watched more, which is always a positive sign. As long as the writers stay within the rules they've given themselves here, I will very much be interested to see where this goes.

Things I liked:-

- The opening scene.

- The fact that the lines between the civilian group, and the military group, are a lot more loosely defined in this show than they were in either SG1 or Atlantis. There are a lot more civilians here, and they act like civilian beaurecrats, too; in the sense that they whine, drum their heels, and throw tantrums, and they also expect soldiers to do everything they say, when the soldiers have guns and there's no one else around. There was one particular Indian woman who really should have been shot in the leg. ;)

- The production values. This show is expensive, and it shows. I wouldn't have had too much of an issue with seeing the special effects here, on a big screen, for the most part. The soundtrack is also amazing. The Stargate design is a lot more loyal to SG1 than Atlantis, too, which is welcome.

- Ming Na. She might be a little long in the tooth these days, but she's still hot. As embarassing as it is to admit, Chun Li was a major crush of mine as a teenager, even before the Street Fighter movie, so Ming Na portraying her there was pure icing on the cake. ;)

- The Icarus attack. Even though I had problems with those minor details, they weren't huge, and the attack did generate extra tension, and it looked cool, too. It just would have felt even more real if the attackers had some real motivation.

- The ship design. It's very much Atlantean/Ancient style, aesthetically, but rust brown in colour terms, rather than the Ancients' usual whites and blues.

- The SG1 cameos. Poor Daniel got stuck with newbie orientation duty, though. ;)

- Dr Rush's ambiguity, until I remembered Lost in Space.

Things I didn't like:-

- Most of the stuff related to the Senator. Although his death was a surprise at the time, it wasn't in hindsight. The scenes where his wife cries afterwards were simply boring for some reason, as well. Maybe I'm just a callous, uncaring jerk, but I just didn't care all that much.

- The introduction of the communication stones, which let the people on the ship easily communicate with Earth. The tension generated in the opening scene would have stayed if they hadn't been introduced, and again, I really wish they hadn't been.

- The derivative, deus ex machina cheat used to resolve the third act. A random, benevolent, acorporeal alien just happens to save someone's life at the 11th hour and 59th minute, and also just happens to lead said person directly to the McGuffin that they need to take back to the ship. How many times have we seen *that* before?


Journal: How can Linux even remotely hope to compete? 4

Journal by petrus4

I'm here at a cousin's place, using his iMac. I've only played some WoW and done some light browsing. Less than half an hour, and it's the first time I've used OSX for this long.

To provide some context, I've also used Linux on and off since the mid 90s, with my first exposure to FreeBSD in 1995. I currently run FreeBSD 7.1 at home.

With even this small amount of exposure to OSX, though, I honestly have to wonder why anyone is bothering to continue to use or develop Linux in particular at all. I can only assume that it's because they are either members of Richard Stallman's cult, or they can't afford a Mac.

Other than cost, I'm uncertain as to what IBM are smoking that is causing them to continue to promote Linux, and there is also the question of how much more perfectly good money Mark Shuttleworth is willing to flush down the toilet before he recognises his lost cause for what it genuinely is, as well.

Do you have even a vague inkling of just how chronically redundant and pointless OSX has made your operating system, Linux users? Possibly for embedded applications, I can see a point, but in terms of the desktop, there is now truly no practical reason for Linux to exist at all.

OSX is the UNIX Holy Grail. It represents the realisation of a vision that has existed ever since UNIX was first implemented; more than 30 years. It is a stable, end-user friendly, fully certified, desktop version of UNIX that Just Works.(tm)

And Linux? ROFL. A comparitive analysis is an act of genuine cruelty to Tux. Aside from maybe Slackware or Arch, the only way to get a Linux desktop system that is not slow, bloated, unstable, broken garbage is to compile Linux From Scratch. The main reason why I'm now using FreeBSD at home, is because I want UNIX, I don't have the money for a Mac, and I got sick of the fact that custom compilation is the only way I could produce a Linux system that I could actually tolerate. I know none of you will admit this, but there is no major distribution for Linux that truthfully is not garbage.

There is no truly stable sound system for Linux. ALSA is an obscenity.

There is no desktop environment for Linux that is not either a) bloated as Hell, b) terminally unstable, or c) ugly. GNOME, in both technical and aesthetic terms, is raw sewage. With Ubuntu, it even literally looks like it.

There is only half-decent USB support for Linux via the addition of obscene, bloated kludges; HAL and DBUS.

Package management is a joke, and I'm no longer laughing. Binary upgrades of Ubuntu are renowned for destroying a working system, and I've had people casually mention the use of deborphan as though that is something which should be normal in 2009. That doesn't even mention the number of traumatic personal experiences I've had with rpm or dpkg, either.

The only reason why I can think of, aside from the cost issue, that anyone might have a vague incentive to keep using Linux, is in order to obtain the blessing of a certain obese, aging, chronically autistic, neo-Bolshevik hippie from Boston. Personally, the attainment of his blessing is not something I consider a high priority, especially given the degree of computer using hardship that is required in order to receive it.

Cost has always been a problem, but if I'm able to get hold of $3000 or so AUD any time soon, I now know what I'm going to be doing with it. FreeBSD is bearable, but even its' rough edges have been smoothed away with OSX.

Linus, as much as I hate to break it to you, the war is over, and you've well and truly lost. It's time to put your beloved baby penguin out of its' misery. The poor animal has dragged itself along the floor for close to 20 years now. It is needlessly suffering, and truthfully it's causing a lot of other people to suffer as well; primarily those who are quite happily using better operating systems, but who are continually harassed by FSF cultists who haven't got the memo. I know you've already been sent a Mac, but I'd also seriously recommend looking into whether or not Apple are hiring.


Journal: Ask Slashdot: Any chance of a FOSS Tactile 3D equivalent?

Journal by petrus4

I was recently reminded of this application for Windows, Tactile 3D. It's a fully three dimensional file manager, and actually allows file operations to be performed within it, as well.

It looks cool aesthetically, but is cool to use in practical terms, as well; it allows for spatial relations between files, among other things.

It got me wondering; is there any possibility of an equivalent being developed for FOSS? Before you tell me to do it myself, I would, but I have no clue whatsoever where to start.

I feel that something like this, however, could be a major coup for Linux. I know Linux has compiz, but all the spinning cube really amounts to in practical terms is a cute way to access virtual desktops; there's no genuinely novel usability there.

With something like Tactile, however, there could be. So it would be good if we could find someone out there with the technical chops to be able to pull it off.

Operating Systems

Journal: The package management problem; We're not there yet. 1

Journal by petrus4

Although I originally reacted to this thread hysterically, I now recognise that the author of it was expressing a form of frustration which I myself share.

There has not yet been a solution to the package management problem, with which I have been completely satisfied either. More work very much needs to be done in this area, and the existing system(s) still need further refinement.


Journal: Microsoft astroturfing Slashdot? 1

Journal by Omnifarious

I'm wondering with the various anti-google stories showing up on Slashdot, if Microsoft and their anti-google lobby aren't trying to astroturf.

Every single one of these stories has had the quality of seemingly purposefully misinterpreting some move of Google's in a way that's not exactly accurate and much worse than it actually is.

For example, Google getting a design patent on its homepage is more akin to a trademark thing than anything else. It's not really a patent in the sense that people usually think of them.

And I can list a similar kind of twist in thinking in almost all the 'Google is doing this, aren't they evil now!?' stories on Slashdot. Something is fishy.

Journal: Idle is now being totally screened by my account

Journal by petrus4

The amount of material which I receive from has now been changed to none.

I am already exposed at home, to a far greater degree than I would like, (due to my other relatives) to indescribably moronic reality TV shows, game shows, celebrity gossip, and various other forms of diversion from the steadily increasing degree of fascism which exists within Western society. I therefore am not going to tolerate exposure to the same type of material anywhere online, where I have the ability to choose what I am exposed to.

The inclusion of Idle is strongly unappreciated by me; I'd almost go as far as to consider it a form of spam, if not for the fact that thankfully I am able to remove it.

I used to consider Slashdot to be primarily intellectually oriented in nature. Idle is the direct opposite.


Journal: Needed information if I'm going to retry Debian 3

Journal by petrus4

I'm aware I've been a fairly savage troll where Debian is concerned in the past, however, I am also willing to concede that it is possible that I have been narrow minded and prematurely dismissive, and I am willing to have another look at the system.

However, in order to do that, I am going to need some documentation on two key areas, which I would appreciate being given links to in response to this article.

The area is apt-get. With both Ubuntu and Debian proper, I have had problems where, in trying to uninstall packages that I truly do not need, (such as cups, because I don't have a printer) I have ended up with literally half the operating system going with it, because Open Office got uninstalled as a result, and then many other optional dependencies as a consequence of that.

So if anyone could show me where I can read about how to cleanly uninstall optional dependencies (like cups) without taking the rest of the system with it, I would appreciate it.

The second area is Debian's configuration for installed applications. Apparently with things like vim, I can't simply write a ~/.vimrc and have it work, because Debian's system-wide vim configuration is not only designed to override that, but to also specify that vim configuration needs to be put somewhere else. I need to read about where I can consistently expect to be able to put my own customisations for applications, if I can't make dotfiles in the home directory.

The third area is kernel compilation. I will admit that I didn't try this in Debian proper, but when I tried to recompile a kernel under Ubuntu with DKMS, it failed on three consecutive occasions, and on trying to figure out the problem, it was apparently due to errors in the perl scripts which are supposed to automate the process. I used to find non-automated (in terms of DKMS) recompilation on Slackware to actually be fairly easy, but with DKMS there seems to be a lot more potential points of failure. I'm going to need to thoroughly understand DKMS if I'm going to be able to successfully navigate past those.

If people can give me some info about these points, I will reinstall Debian on a spare machine I have here, and attempt to give it a genuinely fair hearing. I truthfully haven't found the system to be very discoverable in the past, but if I'm armed with the information that I've outlined above, I think it would get to the point where I could use it in a productive way.

GNU is Not Unix

Journal: Why does Linux have to rule the desktop?

Journal by petrus4

I keep seeing stories like the one that has been posted to Slashdot recently, about people writing that "Linux isn't ready for the desktop."

We've all been seeing them for years now, and I've noticed that whenever we do, there are a number of very passionate individuals arguing that everyone possible must be converted to Linux, no matter what; that without fail, the community will not rest until Linux has completely supplanted Windows as the global mainstream operating system of choice.

However, whenever I see the above arguments being made, I can only ever hear one question echoing intensely in my head.


Why does Linux have to become the single, universal OS?

Most especially, why are Linux advocates and developers so desperate, even frantic, to do whatever they can to pander to the lowest common denominator? To people who will be satisfied with nothing less than the complete destruction of the command line, and anything which has made Linux in any way unique?

In answering this question, there's a point that said developers and advocates need to remember, which I don't think they do remember, most of the time.

That point is that, at one time, the vast majority of the current generation of them were Windows users themselves. They came to Linux at an earlier time, and why did they do that?

1. Linux was more stable than Windows.

If you think this is still true, try installing Ubuntu for a couple of weeks, and you will be given a graphic demonstration of just how much the mad scramble for the lowest common denominator is really harming Linux. I saw people coming into the Ubuntu help forum on literally a minute by minute basis, and the story was very consistent; Ubuntu became a system which simply dumped them out at a black screen, and would not boot at all.

I didn't have that problem, but I did have ALSA crashing randomly throughout the month Ubuntu was on my system. I also had the kernel crash and panic at one point, to the degree that a new kernel install was required, and my nVidia drivers could not be installed again after that. Trying to compile a custom kernel also would not work; the process failed at around three different points.

I also took gdm out of init, in order to create a scenario where I could load World of Warcraft exclusively with X, so I didn't have the RAM overhead of GNOME when I wasn't going to be using it. When I did that, the entire system started falling apart. Sound didn't work at all outside gdm, and terminals couldn't access the system variables that govern shells; I wasn't getting my custom bash prompt, but simply a dollar sign. For bash to be in any way related to gdm is completely non-orthogonal.

2. Linux was more secure than Windows.

This might still be true, but with the way things are going, I'm not sure how much longer it will be true for. I can very easily foresee a scenario where Linux's built-in super/non-superuser model is compromised, a la Windows, all in the name of making sure that the system is easier for the all-important end user. If that is done, then Linux's single main defense against virii and cracks will be gone, and in terms of practical security, you'll be right back at the same level as Windows.

3. Linux is no longer UNIX.

I've just installed FreeBSD over the last weekend, and I'm amazed at how truly different it is to virtually any recent distribution I've used. Most of you would see that as an achievement; something to be proud of. I don't.

The single main difference between Linux and the BSDs is that the BSD developers are very conscious of the fact that what they are developing and using is, first and foremost, a UNIX operating system.

To the Linux community, however, UNIX has become a swear word. It's a source of embarassment. The Linux community doesn't want Linux to be a member of the UNIX family tree at all, any more. It wants Linux to be nothing more than a Richard Stallman-approved, identical clone of Microsoft Windows. If you get your wish here, you will then likely wonder why you bothered to leave Windows in the first place.

I have read Eric Raymond's book, The Art of UNIX Programming, which clearly outlines the earlier UNIX philosophy. Far too little of the software currently being developed for Linux, (especially GUI software) is conformant with this philosophy.

Instead, we have bloated, appallingly designed, excessively complicated, IPC-infested garbage, written mostly by Windows refugees who think they know better than 40 years' worth of accumulated history and experience. It is, of course, also written for the express purpose of emulating Windows as closely as possible, apparently right to the bug-for-bug level being the ultimate goal, if Ubuntu's chronic instability is any indication.

Linux's UNIX heritage is the sole source of any technical superiority which the operating system might have had over Windows. UNIX's root security model was the reason for Linux's increased security, and the UNIX development methodology was responsible for Linux's additional stability and clarity of administration.

The above mentioned benefits are at this point, in danger of disappearing from Linux more or less entirely. Again, if you don't believe me, all you need to do in order to prove my assertion here is install either Debian or Ubuntu in particular.

If you want to also see just how far away from being a real UNIX system Linux has gone, install FreeBSD.

4. Pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Let's be honest, here. Let's get rid of the euphemism and the doublespeak. In talking about making Linux, "ready for the desktop," we're really talking about making it usable by the borderline intellectually disabled. The core assumption that Microsoft made was that the person using Windows was literally semi-vegetative, and unfortunately, a lot of the people I saw arriving in the Ubuntu forum genuinely seemed to bear out that assumption.

It also makes sense, given that this is the goal, why there is an apparent need for any association with Linux and UNIX to be ruthlessly expunged. UNIX is or was, first and foremost, an operating system designed by, and for, some of the most intelligent human beings on the planet. That isn't a statement of hollow elitism, either; it's the simple, naked truth.

What I don't understand, however, is why there is such a push to seduce the Lloyd Christmas demographic to Linux. Linux is nearly always free as in beer; virtually nobody is making any money, here. So what's the incentive?

Think about this, Linux developers and advocates. Really think about it. I honestly don't know the answer myself, so I'm asking you to tell me, and also think about it long and hard for your own sake as well.

Linux Business

Journal: Starting with Linux

Journal by petrus4

I first wrote this back in 2005, and had a number of comments on a blog from people about how it had helped them, so I thought I'd dig it up and repost it here.

First of all, grab Knoppix, burn it to a CD, and spend a few days (or a few weeks, whatever you feel comfortable with) playing with it. Unless you go into the install option, the base CD doesn't install anything to the hard drive, so you can't harm anything. This is a completely safe, non-intimidating way for you to initially get your feet wet.

2. While you're exploring Knoppix, there are a few things to read which will really help you. This [] will give you a very good introduction to Linux, in terms of a little history of the system, how to begin using it, and how some basic things work. Here [] is another in-depth document about using Linux, leading on from the previous one.

3. Once you've gone through those two, (take as much time as you need) this [], written by the same man as the introduction, will introduce you to the Bash shell, the textual command interpreter where with Linux, you'll likely be spending a lot of your time. This will ease you into scripting in what I think will be a very non-intimidating way. You will be able to try out all of these exercises with the Knoppix CD, and again, because the CD doesn't install anything to the hard drive, you needn't worry about destroying your existing system's contents while you learn. This [] is another book on Bash scripting which to a degree follows on from that one, and will go into somewhat greater depth. Both of these should lead to you feeling very comfortable writing shell scripts and moving around to a degree on the system.

4. Here [] is where we get to some meat. This document goes into compiling and installing generic Linux/UNIX software, and offers some basic applications and examples. Once you've gone through this, coupled with the material above, you should now have sufficient understanding to be able to compile and install at least a basic application yourself.

5. The [] Pocket Linux Guide will take you step by step through the process of learning to make a small, bootable Linux system on two floppy disks. Although compiling a basic custom kernel is part of this process, the Guide contains a link to another document which explains very clearly how to do this, and given the background you will have received from the previous documents, this should not be difficult.

6. Once you have completed the Pocket Linux Guide, you will then be ready to proceed to this [] site, which is the homepage of the Linux From Scratch Project. Here you will be able to read an HTML-formatted book which will give you the necessary information to successfully build an entire base Linux system of your own, and a more pure boot CD than Knoppix to initially build it upon. The Linux From Scratch Project also has a sequel book, Beyond Linux From Scratch, which describes how to install, among other things, a full graphical user interface with the X Windows system.


Journal: First recorded attempt to attack my systems via IPv6!

Journal by Omnifarious

Someone just tried to spam my CAKE wiki via IPv6. The attack came from 2002:c26a:c164:0:216:cbff:feab:b3f5 which is a 6to4 address (you can tell from the beginning 2002) meaning that it corresponds to the IPv4 address of c26ac164, also known as which is the address of some computer in Poland.

It also looks like they're on a network that's using EUI-64 based IPv6 address assignment, so the MAC address it came from is 00:16:cb:ab:b3:f5. Looking that up at the MAC Address Vendor lookup page reveals that this MAC address belongs to an Apple.

Someone's poor hacked Mac is trying to spam my wiki, or this is the computer of the hacker who's running the botnet trying to figure out why none of the spam is showing up.


Journal: DNS cache poisoning on the rise?

Journal by Omnifarious

I run a public DNS server for my own domains and I've been getting a lot of outside attempts to run recursive queries through it. This is something I haven't seen before and I'm wondering if DNS cache poisoning is on the rise.

Here is a sample of the logs:

May 15 01:57:38 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

May 15 02:40:15 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

May 15 03:41:06 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

May 15 03:44:21 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

May 15 05:09:01 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

May 15 06:08:46 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

May 15 19:33:27 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

May 15 23:24:55 foo named[2310]: client query (cache) '' denied

One of these is a definite probe for poorly configured DNS servers in an attempt to be helpful. And that's the query for

The others appear to be an attempt to query for the DNS records of a spam trap. This could be one of two things. It could be an attempt to get emails destined for the trap to go elsewhere. It could also be an attempt to get unwitting open DNS resolvers to be a part of a DDOS attack against the spam trap. I don't know which.

Does anybody reading this have any idea?


Journal: Vista and IPv6 6to4 auto-tunneling (not completely correct)

Journal by Omnifarious

In looking at the various logs I keep to monitor what's going on on my home network, I've noticed an interesting fact about Vista that I haven't seen published anywhere. This is something of a guess, but it's supported by the increased activity in my logs, the fact the packets are coming from the US, the User-Agent strings and the curious and regular form of most of the new IPv6 connections I've been seeing. This fact is that Vista is fairly aggressive in supporting IPv6.

Now, Windows XP supports IPv6 fairly passively right out of the box. If you put it on a network with other nodes that speak IPv6 and a router or DHCPv6 server advertising a prefix, it will happily pick it up and gain a globally routable IPv6 address. But Vista goes one step further. If it figures out that it's been assigned a globally routable IPv4 address it sets up its on 6to4 tunnel so its IPv4 address can be used to route IPv6 packets to it.

This is slightly worrisome as the IPv6 packets stuck inside the IPv4 packets represent a potential attack vector that may slide by all the filtering. But so far all the machines I've been able to portscan with some confidence that the computer at the IP I saw was still there look like they're heavily firewalled. This is better than I expected, but I did notice a different, more worrisome trend.

I expect that what firewall manufacturers will do when they learn of this is just block all IP packets with a protocol field of 41 (0x29), the IPv6 in IPv4 protocol. This is because in most Internet discussions IPv6 is treated either with "it will never happen" or "it's evil and stupid and NAT is enough". Basically, people are afraid of something new and don't want to have to learn it, so it's easier to dismiss it than embrace it.

I have some evidence that this is already happening. I think all the Vista originated 6to4 tunneled packets all have IPv6 addresses of the form 2002:hexip_upper16:hexip_lower16::hexip_upper16:hexip_lower16. When I ping the associated IPv4 address I often get a response, but when I ping the IPv6 address I don't. But I do in a very small number of cases. My guess is that something is filtering incoming IP packets with a protocol field of 41.

This means that whenever such computers try to visit my website (which has an IPv6 address) they will likely get absolutely nothing in response, or a long wait until the browser decides to fall back to IPv4.

This is actively hostile and wrong. IPv6 is happening. Learn it and get used to it. Fix your broken hardware and software. The specs have been relatively stable for the base protocol now for more than 4 years. There is no excuse for not knowing something about it.

Useful links

In fact, that's a big problem here. No pictures, no overview, just an explosion of technical detail. There are some sites that have an overview that are put up by the IPv6 task force, but they are so badly designed I don't want to link to them for fear of crashing someone's browser with the evilness.

Role Playing (Games)

Journal: How WoW really does wreck lives

Journal by petrus4

(This is my response to the article with the same name)

I've only been playing since May.

I tried forming my own guild a bit back...everyone ended up leaving at around level 40 to go and be a member of one of the "leet" end-game guilds on our server. (Jubei'Thos) I let them go and didn't protest it or complain in the end...although in the process of forming the guild, I lost a real-life friend who started power tripping and getting me to resign as GM. I kicked him out...but it broke up soon after anywayz. Now I just do WC and other lowbie instance runs, recruit newbs, help them get to level 40, and then let them leave if they want well as playing on the auction house. Either that or log on, have a few rounds of wsg, and log off again.

The competitive and guild aspect really started stressing me out for a while as well...I learned some lessons.

a) If you're going to play this game at all, make the only person who you compete with yourself. Don't care about what anyone else is doing, if they have a mount, etc. Make your advancement about you and only you. I'm near level 45 and I still don't have a mount, but I don't really give a shit...I'm farming and using Auctioneer, and I'll get there eventually...but there are MUCH more important things in life.

b) Do not go near guilds. Any guild at all. Do not form one, and do not join one. Guilds are the *sole* reason for the addictive element of this game. They're also the sole reason for any pain and suffering that you will experience. If you play unguilded, you will have no trouble playing casually. 90+% of this game's addictive factor is associated with guilding, social interaction within said guild, social *pressure* within said guild, and competing with others within said guild. So, remember the mantra:- Play unguilded, play safe.
Don't worry about instances, either. pickup groups are always available. Yes, they're a bit more hit or miss in the short term, but they won't do you anything like the long term damage that a guild will.
The justification for the guild system is primarily that you won't get to experience raid content (or are at least very unlikely to) without guild membership. That is true, but here's something else that's true which you probably didn't know. The largest raid instances in the game are generally only played by >5% of the entire playerbase, whether you're in a guild or not, and that is by deliberate design. The 25-40 man instances at least are there specifically for the hard core no life crowd, and usually, they require having no other life in order to be able to access them. You have to be a member of a guild, you have to put up with all the social/political bullshit that goes along with that, and in many instances you have to do a horrific faction reputation grind as well. Stick to 5 mans or pvp; you'll be able to do your own thing, and will experience a lot less pain generally.

c) Do not play this game with real life friends, or with anyone with whom you have a relationship that you do not want to lose...ESPECIALLY do not guild with them. Some of the rl friends I lost I had been friends with for close to a dozen years before playing this game.

d) Realise that for the most part, this game dies after around level 30. Once you get past that point, there is simply a long, hard, fairly tedious slog up to the end game instances.

User Journal

Journal: Slashdot tag system

Journal by Omnifarious

Has anybody else noticed how the tagging system seems to have changed. Gone are the tags like 'fud', 'itsatrap', and 'haha'. No more 'slashvertisement' and the like either. I find the current set of tags bland and useless. They are OK for hunting down an article, but horrible for being able to tell anything about an article before you click on it.

I found 'slashvertisement' and a few of the other tags about chronic problems that the Slashdot editors tend not to acknowledge to be particularly helpful. Does anybody know how or why the tags became so bland?

Good day to avoid cops. Crawl to work.