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September 2004

Exactly as I requested 
- Last week I went on site to help stage a new server for a company where the only tech person had taken a new job. The day I arrived was actually his last day, and no new person had even been interviewed yet, and he wanted to get the new server at least functional if not actually deployed before leaving. Unfortunately, we ran into some problems: hardware we wanted to add to the system required longer cables and power cable extenders and even though I do carry a lot of that kind of thing in my trunk, we just couldn't quite make it work no matter how we rearranged things. No place close by had what we needed, so we decided I would just have to come back another day to finish it up on my own. No problem, I said, just make sure the server is where I can find it. The departing tech assured me it would be "right here", so I shook his hand, wished him luck, and went off to do something else
Digiboard Serial Ports on Linux Servers  by Dirk Hart
- Recently I have been working on a RedHat server installing all manner of stuff including serial ports. This customer has an 56K DDS line under contract for a few more years so we went with a Digi C/X controller to match what was in their SCO server. When I asked Digi tech support about a couple of things that weren't clear they suggested that I forget the the software and epca drivers that came with the controller and instead download and install their dgap drivers which comes with their familiar mpi software for configuring the board
OpenBSD Security Techniques  by Drag Sidious
- Interesting set of slides showing what lengths OpenBSD does on top of their code auditing efforts they put into securing their operating system.
bochs: Tech Words of the Day 
- You have a BIOS, the cpu is emulated, the disk is emulated, everything
Ships that pass in the night 
- Right about 9:00 PM of Thursday, September 2nd 2004, my wife and I were traveling West on the Mass Turnpike. We had just come on from Rte 495, and were almost at the first rest stop when a red pickup truck with the licence "IM ROOT" passed us.
Avatar: Tech Words of the Day 
- A semi-commercial replacement for cron. It's free for personal use: 'Vexus is dedicated to providing something back to the community so personal copies of Avatar are free.' Cron certainly does have limitations.
How to make money with Open Source 
- I kept asking the same question: "How am I suppose to make money with Linux"? and getting no intelligible answers.
mtu: Tech Words of the Day 
- Maximum Transmission Unit. Every time you send mail, or transfer a file on your local network, or indeed do anything at all that involves communicating with another machine, data is broken up into packets of a specific size.
The future of Linux is getting uglier 
- Linux already flunks the purity test and it will get worse. Right now, we have Linus Torvalds - what happens when we do not?
Goofiest lawsuit ever? 
- Aside from anything else, apparently SCO has always had bad lawyers. Or at leasst lawyers not as good as IBM's.
RFC: Tech Words of the Day 
- Request For Comments are the tech notes for the Internet. Anyone can submit an RFC, though it must be approved first by the RFC Editor (which for many years was a single person named Jon Postel
Tech Quotes 
- rom Bill Gates to Janet Reno, everybody has something to say about computers and technology. Some of my favorites:
Javascript setTimeout problem 
- Unfortunately, the moment we added the Google code, his pages seemed to go nuts. The ads would come up, but then immediately disappear, blink briefly, load again, and so on - you couldn't read the page at all.
WiMax: Tech Words of the Day 
- Other countries already have 100 Mbit connnections in common use. The USA could do that too, but political wrangling over broadcast spectrum has prevented it.
acl: Tech Words of the Day 
- Access Control List. Basically, extended permissions. Some modern Unixes (Linux, UW, and others) have extended the permissions model. This requires new commands beyond chmod, and may be limited to certain types of filesystems.
Kleene star: Tech Words of the Day 
- The '*' used in regular expressions. Stephen Kleene (pronounced Klay-knee, by the way) invented regular expressions.
Dynamic DNS Services Update Scripts 
- Strangely enough, I never had any need for a dynamic DNS service until this week. In retrospect, it really does seem odd that I've never needed such a service before now, but so be it.
When the how gets ahead of the why  by John G. Spragge
- I can think of few professions which obsess as much about their methods as acting and programming. From 'method acting' to structured programming and open source, we focus with religious intensity on the way we do things.
snert: Tech Words of the Day 
- Take your pick: Snot Nosed, Eros-Ridden Teenager Snot Nosed Egocentric Retentive Turd Snot Nosed Egotistical Raging Teen and others. Whatever the true derivation, it's not a friendly appellation.
Firefox 1.0 released 
- Does anybody but spammers care about RSS now? All I see it used for now is self promotional junk.
Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB)  by Drag Sidious
- According to CERT's statistics, the number of computer security vulnerabilities found each year has risen over two thousand percent since 1995. Tracking these vulnerabilities and their cures is critical for those who protect networked systems against accidental misuse and deliberate attack, from home users and small businesses to globe-spanning enterprises.
quine: Tech Words of the Day 
- A self-reproducing program; that is, a program that creates a copy of itself. These have ben written in just about any language you can think of, and you can find multiple examples at http://www.nyx.net/~gthompso/quine.htm
Smart text reformatting with Perl 
- How to reformat included text when the level of quoting causes line wrap problems. Perl Text::Autoformat fixed it nicey.
- I'm sure that the Spamassassin developers are doing the best they can, but the sad fact is that the spammers are winning the war.
ARIN, APNIC, LAPNIC, RIPE: Tech Words of the Day 
- Internet registries. ARIN hands out addresses for North America, a portion of the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Afric (strange, isn't it?); RIPE handles Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia; LACNIC is Latin America and the rest of the Caribbean;
Handling missing data in inputs 
- Missing data can be very annoying to a programmer. In fact, it is so annoying that very often we'll write separate programs to clean up data and eliminate unpleasant conditions so that the main code doesn't have to deal with it.
Old SCO licenses 
- Another reseller who wanted to get 5.0.4 user bump licenses for SCO ran into roadblocks at SCO so found a way around it.
ASP's and security  by Michael Desrosiers
- A growing number of companies are using software hosted by application service providers. That means that business information is running on systems managed by a third party and accessed over a virtual private network (VPN) or over the Internet using secure socket layer (SSL).
Setting up Mozilla Roaming Profiles  by BigDumbDinosaur
- How to setup Mozilla Roaming Profiles. Profiles, which first appeared in the Netscape 4.x family, allow multiple users of a standalone PC to customize the browser's look and feel to suit individual tastes, as well as maintain separate bookmarks, cookies, mail, and so forth.
Installing Fedora Core 2 without a bootable CDROM drive  by Dirk Hart
- The other day I got my hands on an old Pentium 90 server. It's an old machine but so well made I still really like it. Anyways It had an install of Caldera OpenLinux on it, which ran quite well, but that I wanted to try Fedora Core 2. I ordered up some CDROMs which arrived in due course so I slapped Disc 1/4 Install in the CDROM drive and looked around for a bootable image which wasn't too hard to find as it was in /images. Curious though that the size of the image was 6,291,456 bytes - far larger than any floppy I ever saw! How was I going to solve this little dilemma?
SELinux: Tech Words of the Day 
- SELinux is a Mandatory Access Control system. You can get an idea of how you'd configure this at my Selinux on FC5 article even though it's a few years old, but before you read that, just let me put on my flame proof suit here... ok, I'm ready: I almost always disable SELinux sooner or later.
Writing Shellcodes in Linux   by Amitesh Singh
- Shellcoding is a skill to write your machine codes in hexadecimal form. Many people lack it. From the view of security it is very important, as hackers use it to exploit vulnerable applications. In this article, we are working on Linux using the IA-32(x86) architecture. Basic knowledge of C, ASM(AT&T style) and working with debuggers (gdb & objdump)is required.
IOMEGA REV Drive with Fedora Core 2 
- Unfortunately, that was a system I wanted to use the REV on.