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Thu, 11 Feb 2010

BSD Magazine - A decent read

While looking for an OpenBSD baseball cap on the BSD stalls at FOSDEM I was given a couple of issues of the BSD Magazine to flick through - and it's a lot better than I'd hoped.

As most of the UK Linux magazines have become very desktop focused it's nice to see some actual low-level code - packaging for OpenBSD, writing sound drivers for your NetBSD NSLU2, custom Jabber components and basic GDB were all in the two issues I skimmed. While it's not the dearly departed Sysadmin Magazine, and it could do with an editor or two - much as I could, it is a decent read and I'm considering a subscription.

Posted: 2010/02/11 20:56 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Wed, 02 Sep 2009

Verified by Visa - Designed by idiots

The one thing online that irks me beyond all others, even surpassing chromatic, is Verified by Visa. I hate this service and every site that uses it.

If you've been blessed enough to never have it ruin your transaction here's the short version - in the middle of paying for something you get bounced, with no clue where you're going and how secure it is, to a third party site, which is completely safe as it's run by visa, that then gets you to enter a password. Or if you don't know it, create a new one using nothing more than what's on your card.

Firstly how stupid is that? What ever happened to something I know, something I have? If I find a lost card I can reset the Verified by Visa password using nothing more than my powers of reading and typing. While we're on the subject of passwords - you're not allowed to use special characters. Numbers and letters only. Thanks, rule out half the possibilities in one sweep for me. And what's with the remembering history? This thing makes elephants look like /tmp... it remembered all the verified passwords I've ever used going back about ten iterations - and O change the password a lot because I can't use a decent one and it's easier to reset it than to dig out the old one.

Now suppose you've logged in, got the password right and clicked next, what happens? You get a session / transaction timeout and you have to go all the way back through your order. Thanks for that.

If your site makes me jump through these fake security hoops then I'll go elsewhere. I won't play along anymore - you'll just lose my custom. And hopefully that of many other people.

Posted: 2009/09/02 22:07 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Tue, 03 Mar 2009

Personal Git Milestone - First Accepted Patch

It's been a day for nice little technical surprises. On the tube ride to work this morning I started flicking through Cisco Routers for the desperate (2nd edition) and found a quote on the first page from the 1st edition book review I did a couple of years ago.

I also had my first fully git workflow patch accepted by upstream. It was only a couple of lines of code but it means I'm gradually getting comfortable with the git toolchain.

Posted: 2009/03/03 22:12 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Fri, 30 Jan 2009

MySQL Uni - Scalability Challenges in an InnoDB-based Replication Environment

I recently 'attended' my first MySQL University presentation - Scalability Challenges in an InnoDB-based Replication Environment. The service itself is great, you sign up, log in and then watch the speaker present in one window while listening to him speak and reading the slides (in the main part of the screen). Everything you'd expect really.

The subject wasn't anymore exciting than you'd guess (but what do you expect with that title?) but the speaker knew his stuff and a couple of the Solaris commands shown will be useful to me in the future. Most valuable for me from the time invested in watching is that between this and the Jan 09 LOSUG I'm being pushed to invest some time in OpenSolaris and potentially deploy an instance or two of it in our staging environment for performance and debugging reasons. While Linux is pushing the boundaries in many ways Solaris is still ahead when it comes to working out the why, when and what.

Posted: 2009/01/30 21:19 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Tue, 07 Oct 2008

The answer might be 'it depends'

You're in charge of a server that provides two types of assets. The first type is public and its visibility is important to your company. The second should be restricted access only and shouldn't be public.

Now suppose there is a mistake made and the private material is exposed publicly - what's more important, that the public data is available or that the private data isn't? Who'd make that decision where you work? How long would it take to get an answer from them?

Posted: 2008/10/07 06:23 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Sun, 03 Jun 2007

Extending the Nagios CGIs - Discouraging Casual Commiters

While working on my Nagios display tools I wanted to modify our existing Nagios deployments to easily link the information in but after a quick dig I discovered that something was very wrong - the Nagios CGIs are written in C.

While shell and perl are my current languages of choice I can write (a very little and very basic) C but the idea of customising webpages in it, especially pages this critical to the company, stopped me in my tracks. While I can understand using the language you're most familiar with when writing software if you want to attract contributers you need to match the language to the task. If the Nagios front ends had been written in any of the dynamic languages I'd have spent some time to understand and hopefully add to them - but not C, it's the wrong level of language for this kind of work.

Posted: 2007/06/03 10:51 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Mon, 16 Apr 2007

Fractally Crap

A Fractal is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole" -- Wikipedia - Fractal

Fractally Crap - a system where any piece, when looked at individually, is every bit as broken, badly planned and undocumented as the rest.

And yes, I know that if you pile rubbish on rubbish then you get... (strangely enough) rubbish but you can normally find the occasional little gem or ray of sunshine. Not this month. An often seen symptom is that every RT ticket you close requires three more be opened for new issues problems challenges that arose while fixing the first. And no, this rabbit hole doesn't have a bottom.

Not my best fortnight ever. Roll on the Nordic Perl Workshop!

Posted: 2007/04/16 21:47 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Fri, 19 Jan 2007

Black FireFox Baseball cap - Lost at LCA

And it's probably missing me by now, a beer will be purchased for the finder.

This is what blogs are really for ;)

Posted: 2007/01/19 00:02 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Mon, 08 Jan 2007

Change Control and Version Control are NOT THE SAME THING

And now to one of my pet annoyances...

Change Control is a formal process used to ensure a product, service or process is only modified in line with the identified necessary change.
-- Wikipedia - change control

Revision control (also known as version control, source control or (source) code management (SCM)) is the management of multiple revisions of the same unit of information.
-- Wikipedia - revision control

As you can tell from the *different* definitions these two terms do not mean the same thing. They are not interchangeable and, ideally, both should be present. If you're maintaining multiple versions of source code or config files then you have version control. Not change control.

This rant was bought to you by over half the places I've worked. Ggggggrrrrrrrrhhhhhhh!

Posted: 2007/01/08 22:22 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Sun, 07 Jan 2007

Open Source Questions and the Karma of Answers

I answer a couple of emails that contained questions about code I've written and in return I get a shiny new release of WebService::YouTube which fixes a bug I hit. Gotta love the 'net.

Posted: 2007/01/07 20:09 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Mon, 01 Jan 2007

Why Don't we Have a .bank?

Why don't we have a .bank or .bank.country_code TLD that's regulated by the same people that regulate the banks themselves? Most countries, with the notable exception of the US (which has multiple National regulators and a second tier of State ones), have a single body regulating all the banks so why not use their established trust metrics (you must be at least this tall to be a bank) to determine who can have a .bank domain?

In additional to helping people find their bank online (although if they can't find it should they be doing online account management?) it'd help prevent a lot of phishing. I like the idea of a decentralised model (which would have the benefit of local knowledge) rather than a single globe spanning group but decentralisation does seem more likely to end up having a very weak link in some small, "legally interesting" country.

Posted: 2007/01/01 11:32 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

Wed, 22 Nov 2006

MS Technet Labs - Initial Impressions

I worked through the MS Technet Virtual Lab Express: Introduction to ISA 2006 Beta demo last night and while the product doesn't really interest me (I couldn't deploy a Microsoft firewall and keep a straight face) the lab itself was interesting.

You enter an email address, download an ActiveX control and wait five minutes for the lab to prepare itself. You then connect, via something that looks like Terminal Services, to four machines. You then work through the lab notes (a PDF) to get an overview of the new product features. It was actually quite a pleasant experience, the machines felt responsive, you can click around to look at parts you want and it took almost no time to work through the lab notes. Only downside was the screen size, it was damn small so the dashboard felt tiny and cramped, which isn't what you want when you see a product for the first time.

Due to the excellent price (free!) I'll be looking at some of the others to get a feel for what the newer releases can do.

Posted: 2006/11/22 20:29 | /misctech | Permanent link to this entry

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