APLawrence.com -  Resources for Unix and Linux Systems, Bloggers and the self-employed
RSS Feeds RSS Feeds

Return to Index

February 2009

Network Hang  by (various authors)
- negative numbers in a netstat -m - the fact that it prints a negative shows that it's signed, so 2147483647 (2^31 - 1) is the largest number it can represent.
Frogs, Greed or What?   by Anthony Lawrence
- I spend a good amount of time this morning reading "Interview with an Adware Author" at Philosecurity. The Adware author is Matt Knox, who worked at Direct Security before they were sued by the New York Attorney General's Office. The article itself is interesting though probably nothing that most readers here will find surprising. The comments are more fascinating as most of them are back and forths between co-workers at Direct Revenue and Christopher Boyd (paperghost) of Vitalsecurity.org.
Why Microsoft will fail   by Anthony Lawrence
- Poor Microsoft. The phrase "caught between a rock and a hard place" tells exactly where they are right now. The "rock" here is that Microsoft desperately needs to fix the horrible security they are famous for and the "hard place" is that their user base doesn't want them to do that.
Bailouts, Taxes, Stimuli   by Anthony Lawrence
- I keep getting email from Moveon.org and other liberal groups I belong to urging me to write letters supporting the big Democratic economic package. These emails carp at the Republicans and ask me for money and other support. That's not going to happen because I think this bill is as dumb as it gets.
Loose Ends   by Anthony Lawrence
- These are just some random things that came up in the past few weeks email. Some of it surprised me because I thought it would have been easy to find the answer at Help and Resources or my Rates page, but some of it made me groan and think that I have to find a better way for people to find THAT.
Programming the Turk?   by Anthony Lawrence
- Wikipedia says "The Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is one of the suite of Amazon Web Services, a crowdsourcing marketplace that enables computer programs to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do".
Microsoft Fans can be touchy   by Anthony Lawrence
- Did you happen to catch Bill Gates talk at TED ? I'm no fan of Mr. Bill, so I approached that with a lot of built in prejudice, but I really tried to give him a fair hearing. Unfortunately I was in a bad mood just after reading the "About Bill Gates" blurb.
Insider Threat   by Michael Desrosers
- An enormous threat exists within each and every organization. On a poorly secured and designed network, current and former employees can steal data or access resources that they are not authorized to use. Worldwide, millions of businesses were hit in 2008 by these inside breaches of trust.
SCO 5.0.7 under Fusion with a BTLD   by Howard Fried
- Just wanted to say thanks for posting Jonathan Moore's "SCO Openserver 5 install instructions for using SCSI disks". The Bus Logic BTLD, although quite a pain to "derive", ultimately worked great!
Don't ever change, baby   by Anthony Lawrence
- Generally you should never assume that because you know something about one distro at one point in time that it applies to other distros or even that same distro at another point in time.
Analyzing Adsense performance with Google Analytics (Part One)   by Anthony Lawrence
- It's a little shy of two months since Google integrated Adsense and Analytics. I've been playing with the various report possibilities and am excited about what we will be able to learn from this.

Notice I said "will be able to learn". It's still too early to draw a lot of conclusions - there is just not enough data yet. In this period of time we've served up half a million page impressions, so there are some lessons ready to be reaped, but overall it's just not a long enough time to judge by.
Recession and Service Businesses   by Anthony Lawrence
- I just revised a chapter in my "Psst - wanna work for yourself book" (yes, everyone who bought it WILL get a free download of the new version later this month). That chapter talked about recessions and service businesses, noting that there are quite a few types of businesses that can actually flourish in economic downturns. As other businesses try to do more with less, as everyone repairs and makes do rather than buying new, service and repair businesses can do very well.
Is using Windows Dumb? It will be.   by Anthony Lawrence
- That was a real question, asked by someone considering buying a new computer. It surprised me: I've been seeing more people asking if they should consider Mac or Linux (mostly Mac, very little Linux), but this question goes way beyond that. It made me pause; the answer is complicated.
Too much traffic   by Anthony Lawrence
- This website limps along serving up a little less than 200,000 pages a month. If you divide that up, it's a bit over 6,000 a day, which comes down to 4 or 5 pages per minute. That's hardly a lot to ask of any webserver. Of course sometimes we get peaks. There's not much happening at 3:00 AM so obviously there's more happening at noon. Every now and then some article gets a little burst of popularity despite my best efforts to discourage such things. Those cause peaks too.
Trust your Gut in Troubleshooting?   by Anthony Lawrence
- I really do trust my gut instincts. Even to me, that sounds like an odd thing to say. I'm a very logical and procedural person: a lot of the troubleshooting and problem solving I do is step by step, this follows from that, flow-chart, check-list, cause and effect all the way. And yet.. I trust my gut.
Arguing the cost of Windows   by Anthony Lawrence
- Here's yet another post where people argue about the cost of switching to Linux: "Is Linux Cheaper on the Desktop Than Windows?". The Windows people raise their usual arguments about Linux sysadmins having higher salaries, the Unix/Linux folks counter that you need more Windows admins so those costs aren't true, the cost of viruses is balanced against the supposed virtues of Windows Group Policies scheme, and on it goes.
What a difference a (static) page makes   by Anthony Lawrence
- As convenient as it is to drive pages with cgi scripts, I had to partially give up on that because this shared web server just couldn't handle all the forks. That's not the fault of the hosting company; it's just that I've been getting too much traffic now and then. So today I began converting some pages to static pages - no dynamic content except for the ads.
Everybody wants to be rich   by Anthony Lawrence
- I got a bit upset in my morning rounds of browsing. A site I read regularly seemed to be promoting a huckster Internet Marketer. I got upset because I've seen other sites cross over to the dark side: what used to be a nice place to visit turns into a slick "Internet Marketing Machine". I didn't want to see that happen here, so I emailed the guy who wrote the article and expressed my misgivings.
The value of text   by Anthony Lawrence
- I was reminded again today of the value of text files instead of databases. I've mentioned before that unless you get into very large data sets, flat text files are much faster - often even if you search them in the most clumsy way possible!
Windows could die soon! Isn't life GRAND?   by Anthony Lawrence
- Microsoft's announcement that they'll be opening retail stores truly makes me chortle with glee (exactly how does one "chortle"?). It's impeccable timing: here they are at the onset of an economic downturn with a well hated product, diminishing sales and diminishing margins, and they are going to open retail stores - I love it!
Peddling Papers   by Anthony Lawrence
- I was walking down to the Post Office today. It's about an hour's walk round trip, which is just about right - long enough to be good exercise, short enough to fit into my day. Throughout some of my trip today I watched a young man driving a beat up little car delivering newspapers up and down the street, ducking into side streets, constantly stopping and starting, backing up.. tough duty for a car. I felt sorry for him. I think of that kind of work as desperation level: the kind of thing you'd do only if you have no other options. Even if you don't care about the lost sleep, I would think the true automative costs would seriously eat up the rather meager pay you'd get.
Beauty Treatments   by Anthony Lawrence
- A few weeks ago I had an unexpected contact from someone I had worked with many years ago at a local newspaper chain. He had remained long after I left, had survived corporate takeovers and various bosses but had now been told this was his last week. He's just a few years short of retirement age so of course that's extra bitter: it will be very hard to find a new job. Fortunately he has always done some side work; that's why he was calling me.
Sick Days for Freelancers   by Anthony Lawrence
- "Oh, man, I've got to lie down!" I heard myself say that and then had to laugh because I already was lying down and had been for a few days. I'd been hit with the flu on Wednesday, had tried to ride it out but had given up and gone to my doctor on Friday because incessant coughing was keeping me from sleeping and just tearing me up otherwise
Why Are Unix/Linux People Grumpy?   by Anthony Lawrence
- It is amusing how often "grumpy" turns up in conjunction with "Unix" or "Linux". People use it as their login names, as the name for projects.. there's even a GrumpyLinux distrubution. it's very much a part of our culture. We're grumpy and we know it.
Who's at fault? Programmers or managers?   by Anthony Lawrence
- You must have seen that report about Microsoft overpaying some severance packages and asking the former employees to return the money. A lot of people have wondered if Microsoft is just asking pretty-please because the published letters don't seem very demanding. Folks also wonder how many ex-employees would be fool enough to hand back the extra cash without lawylerly threats. Good question, I guess, but not the first thing that popped into my mind.
When it comes to bashing Microsoft   by Anthony Lawrence
- "When it comes to bashing Microsoft, it seems that any old canard will do; facts are strictly optional." That's from Resorting to FUD Hurts the Alternatives to Microsoft, which reminds us that amazingly enough you really can stoop too low when casting mud at Microsoft.
The Linux of our Understanding   by Anthony Lawrence
- We techy folks are sometimes quick to pull the trigger when we spot people using tools without proper understanding. We laugh at Windows "point and click" mentality. Sometimes it may be justified, but I have to wonder if our own houses can stand deep inspection.
Sneakers on a Dead Pig   by Anthony Lawrence
- With enough patience and perhaps some duct tape, you can get a pair of Air Jordan's onto a dead pig. You could strap two pair on if you like and even add a nice Celtics jersey, but there's still no way that pig is going to shoot any hoops. First of all, it's a pig. Second, did you notice that it's dead?
WordPress Plugin Development   by Anthony Lawrence
- Let me be straight up on this: I'm NOT a big WordPress fan. Nobody would ever forget to include the word "mess" when searching for appropriate adjectives to describe WordPress. The use of Php has consistently opened up WordPress users to security problems and I have little doubt that it will leave them vulnerable once again. I would never, never, NEVER recommend this to anyone except..
Why is Microsoft suing TomTom? Why doesn't TomTom just pay up?   by Anthony Lawrence
- Interoperability is of course part of what makes Microsoft a popular choice among the technologically illiterate. Many companies deliberately adopt open standards to encourage other products to work more easily with theirs; Microsoft deliberately chooses just the opposite. Will your Windows XP machine recognize any open source file systems? You can mount NFS with their "Services for Unix" but I'd guess that's far beyond a typical Windows user's skill set. No, TomTom and everybody else needs FAT, and Microsoft is going to make them pay for the privilege.
TASK_KILLABLE   by Anthony Lawrence
- Who hasn't been frustrated by some device stuck in a hardware read or write? Maybe it's a tape drive? It's effectively dead, maybe because the person who wrote the driver is an idiot or maybe because the person who designed the hardware is more of an idiot, or more likely something has just gone tragically wrong and you are stuck. Literally stuck, because the process doing the reading or writing dove down into the driver and it's never coming back up for air. Never. Go ahead, send it a "kill -9" signal. The process will never see that, because it's way down at the bottom of the ocean waiting for something that apparently is never going to happen.
Smashwords   by Anthony Lawrence
- I was very excited to stumble upon Smashwords today. Many bloggers publish e-books, either to sell or to give away as promotional items. The problem is choosing a format to publish in. PDF is the lingua franca of the web, but now people also want to be able to use their iPhones, Kindles and other devices. It's annoying and sometimes difficult to provide all the desired formats.
More backup, please   by Anthony Lawrence
- Last week I had one of those horrible experiences that actually turn out sort of OK but still leave you feeling cheated and sick. The situation was a customer who needed to restore some backed up data. Well, fortunately she really DIDN'T need to restore data..
Find with -execdir   by Anthony Lawrence
- Let's look at some newer "find" options that old Unix hands may not have picked up on. The first is "-execdir". This works like "-exec" but executes the requested command after first having changed into the directory that holds the file that is in the argument. So, if you have "find . -exec ls {} \;" and "./subdir/myfile" is one of the files under ".", when "find" reaches that it will call "ls ./subdir/myfile". If you use "find . -execdir ls {} \;" instead, "find" will change into "./subdir" and then execute "ls myfile".