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09/27/2002    -{ A man, some spam, a plan.... Iran }-


It started out as a discussion of the spam that was hitting the gentoo-dev list, and I was told about bogofilter, a Bayesian spam filter that use word count stats and analysis to filter spam. Up until now I've been using spam assassin and it's been working pretty well. I just purged my spam folder of 310 messages since August 30, so you do the math as to the volume of spam get. Anyway, bogofilter promises to be better, faster, and more environmentally friendly (oh, and no false-positives). A lot about the technology behind Bayesian spam filtering can be here. Anyway, I've installed it on ufies and am going to give it a shot to see how well it works. From the install instructions, I'm not positive whether the user (that's me) has to tell it what is spam and what isn't, or if it's all automated. It integrates nicely with mutt and procmail though, so I'm not complaining :)

Why are you up at such a horrible hour you may ask? Well firefly got some work working a compactor for a few days, and this means that she has to leave at 6am. So at 5:30 I was pulled from an odd dream....

I was at cat5's place, which was again down the hill from my parents house, but the property that we were on wasn't one from the hill. Anyway, he had a large dog, and we were getting ready to go and see a movie (the next Harry Potter one actually. For some reason cat5 was having problems getting the dog put away, and had cleaned up his doghouse and had no spare mats to put in (and seemed quite distressed by this, similar to the way I was distressed yesterday when I discovered that I had just used the last garbage bag). Anyway, we finally got going to the movie theatre and the old teacher from the tv show Boston Public, Harvey Lipshultz, was going with us. We got to the theater and they obviously had to expand it because of the popularity of the new movie. The seats were un-even and I remember it felt like we were actually sitting in rows of school desks, and the movie was playing on a large TV, not a projector.

Lipshultz acted perfectly in character, and had brought along a TV remote (which I might add, looked a lot like the one I have at home for my TV) and at one point accidently hit "mute" (nothing was being said on screen so no one noticed, as it was only for a second). He then started playing with the volume and balance controls during a quiet part, and then somehow hit a button that made a horrible wailing alarm go off, which is what woke me up.

So this morning I get to watch the sun come up over the trees that I can see out the office window, and when that happens I'll have to close the drapes, as there's a few hours in the morning where it comes right into my face. I'll probably use that time to organize my books and paperwork though, as now the office is quasi-clean, that's the next thing that has to be done.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to waiting for my spam to come in.

09/25/2002    -{ Piss off #1,242,854: People who have souped up sports cars, but drive like little old ladies }-

A big shout out to my dad, whose birthday was yesterday. Happy birthday dad, lots of love from your son.

Been slowly making the house livable. Tonight it was a fit to get the last two laundry loads of shirts onto hangers, deal with the nine thousand ties I have (ask me the last time I wore a tie, go on, I dare you!) that were smooshed on the floor under the ten thousand shirts I have (all but two of these are trade show shirts I might add.... how else does a geek get clothing?)

The office (pics posted as soon as they are taken and developed) is slowly forming. Currently there are many empty boxes on the floor, and a huge bag of garbage, filled with everything from papers, reciepts ranging from 1995 to 1998ish, a box of 5 1/4" disks, and some hardware (yes, I actually threw away hardware.... but then again, how many 386 and 486 boards does someone need (same goes for the ties I guess)). This is a big improvement over the big bag of garbage surrounded by full boxes.

The cable modem install went well a couple of days ago as well, and all the nameservers should be synced up now with things, and this site should be back on the map for all. Cable of course, only has one drop in the living room, and where the computers are is about as far away as you can get, so a cable is run out behind the air-conditioner, along the wall, and in through the window.

When the cable install-dude came it was amusing, especially the way he said "so what computer am I setting up for you?" and my response was pretty much "you're not." I told him that all I wanted from him was the end of a cat5 network cable, and I'd deal with the rest. I could have told him I was using a merilus firecard as a firewall, but alas, I didn't want to blow up his brain. Speaking of which, kudos to Silv and LIMOS for the work they've done on the new software, I've played around and it's pretty funky, especially the SNMP stuff :)

Sadly, the cable modem connection went out a couple of days after it was put in. I called up and the tech support bob who answered the phone told me that if the "connect" light was on on the modem, it meant there was something wrong on the computer, and what operating system was I running please sir? "It's on a firewall, but pretend it's on windows." "What operating system sir?" "Just pretend it's windows, and go through the steps." "I'm sorry sir, I can't troubleshoot a firewall." At this point I got exasperated and told him "OK, I've switched the cable over to a windows system, go ahead and fix it now." At this point he decided that maybe he should actually check the modem itself, and failed. He came back telling me that even though the green connect light was on and steady, he couldn't contact the modem, so maybe there was something wrong. "Gosh, ya think?" thought I to myself. Just then he was just informed there was an accident in my area and techs had been dispatched as some areas were still out. This was a long way from "if the connect light is on the modem is working perfectly sir," but I let him get away with it. I simply went into town to do whatever it was that I had to do, and when I came back, it was indeed fixed.

Just a note as to the reason for the subject of this entry being what it is.... I was coming through town the other day and saw a very nice Corvette Stingray with a big ass blower sticking through the hood, and some random guy driving it. I figured that this was obviously a penis-compensation car, and expected squealing tired when the light changed. The minivan beat him off the line! Not that he was racing of course, cause if he was I'm sure he could have blown that soccer mom away... it was just a bit shocking is all.

I really wanted to finish the sentence above with some funny analogy, but the only one I could think of was "... like someone paying you for sex." but that just seemed so wrong to say, so I won't let anyone else know that such rude thoughts entered my mind.

So what comes tomorrow? More cleaning, and I'm finally at a state that I can organize my business papers, receipts, set up quickbooks, etc etc.

09/17/2002    -{ bitch, rant, bitch }-

Sometime around 1996 or 1997, after I had moved out of home I had the opportunity to get high speed internet access through telus (the bctel). After the original install speedbumps (ie: them not actually installing the hardware to get internet access), there was maybe one problem every two years, even after I moved to this building originally.

Fast forward to today, exactly four days after service was installed here, and there's an outage. Typical huh? There are other bitches as well, which I promise I will give to you.

Basically they "can't" support the old network, which I was on and which was un-capped, so I was forced to change over to the "new" network where you pay for 1.5mbits, or 4, or whatever. The affordable option is of course the lowest package. Now, when I first moved into this building I got the Shaw wave, but when I found out I could get the un-capped service, I dropped the wave like a bad packet and went back on telus's service. Now I'm restricted to 150k/s downloads, I'm not sure that's such a good idea anymore, especially when the guy down the hall is getting 380k/s downloads, and paying the same price that I am.

Speed I could deal with, for a while anyway, cause you really aren't going to be using it to it's fullest potential all the time anyway. The big problem I have is that their DNS system big fat hair wookie dong. See, I can get a hostname ( from my ip (, but I can't go the other way. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but as I have paranoid security settings on my server, I get lovely messages like the following when I try to log in:

Sep 16 18:24:45 ufies sshd[23842]: warning: /etc/hosts.deny, line 15: host name/address mismatch: !=
Sep 16 18:24:45 ufies sshd[23842]: refused connect from

This would be ok if my IP didn't change constantly, or at all. Without even rebooting it's changed already, and I refuse to have to log into someone else's server to hop to mine every time Telus decides to renew my address, and reset the IP in my DNS tables. I did manage to hard code the IP in my firewall though, so hopefully that'll take.

Anyway, after talking to Ken at telus tech support, and then his supervisor, who seemed to have a clue, I was told that "reverse dns lookups are not guaranteed for dynamic customers, [the low level of service that I'm on] but they are for static customers [add $10-$20 more a month]." So basically that, combined with the less speed for the same price thing, has caused me to call Shaw and schedule them in, as Yohimbe has no problems with his shaw cable connection, and his IPs look up just dandy. Actually I did this a couple of days ago when I realize I could pay the same amount (actually a little less with their intro offer, assuming I bought the modem) and get 2x+ the speed. Sorry Telus, unless Shaw has major issues, I'm having to leave you.

In other news, the house is still in the same place as it was before, with the cats discovering the joy of hardwood floors. When they jump at a scary noise or new squeak in the floors, they try to run away, and get even more scared when they find they aren't going anywhere! They'll get used to it though. The rest of the place is good too, with little things popping up here and there, as is to be expected with getting used to a new place.

09/14/2002    -{ Radio from the cable? }-

Well, we're in, amazingly enough. The DNS records should update soon enough that people will be able to hit this page again (all three of you). I don't know how long I'll stay here (on this IP that is) as with being forced off the "old" telus network I'm stuck with a bandwidth cap, and my 1.5mbit really sucks compared to the 3mbit that Yohimbe is getting on cable, for about the same price. I'll have to ask someone in this building with cable to test the speed for me though, as it might be different here.

Anyway, starting around 9am we started schlepping stuff up here, and we seemed to be done aroune 3pm or so. It couldn't have been done without help though, so huge thanks go out to (in no order) my mom and dad, firefly's mom and dad, brad, cat5, yohimbe, derf and derfwife. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help, be it lugging horribly heavy and awkward couches, making food, or putting kitchen cabinets :)

So now we're all in. Have to get used to going up the stairs to come in, and everything is different (guess that's the definition of a new place though :) I'll have to relearn that in the bathroom to turn the light switch on you flick the switch up, and not down (the old place has the wires crossed). The office is mostly done, computers are set up anyway, so that I can do work. I have all sorts of storage space as well now, so I can organize, categorize, and all that other fun stuff... until it gets used anyway. The living room is set up, with the stereo, dvd, tv, etc set up nicely by cat5.

The rest of the house however..... utter chaos. Currently I'm eating toast with jam off of a cutting board. Know why? Because I have no idea where the peanut butter is, and for a stack of plates, small plates, and bowls being rather large, they seem to have dissapeared. I need to go shopping as well soon, as having no food kinda sucks. I do have some popodoms though! Nice spicey ones :)

Ah, the joy of moving...

09/12/2002    -{ update content set title = $title.... }-

Wh00p! got the new place's lease all signed and stuff, so we can now officially move in. I think Firefly will be doing some stuff tonight, and some things will move up tomorrow (including cable, phone and internet), and the rest goes up on Saturday. Everything is shocking white and relatively clean.... and man is it big! Course, with everything from the closets put back in the middle of the living room, things here seem a lot tighter than normal.

Until the internet is moved over officially, I figure this site could be down friday to sunday (depending on the competance of those in charge of installing things, and my competance in getting my server(s) all put back together properly), so if you're needing to contact me, or wondering where this site went, now you know. If you are looking to get a hold of me and it's urgent, you know my cell number (and if you don't, chances are you don't know me well enough to call me :)

The mod_perl stuff is coming slowly along. I'm getting quite stressed actually, as the deadline of next week is approaching, and I have at least one day lost due to moving, possibly more. I think I can get most things to work as they should, in the given time, but some of the stuff, such as file and image uploading is being a PITA. Apparently you have different form submissions or something... it's all icky. Basically I'm ignoring images and files until I get the rest of it all going, or at least the content engine part. Bah, this sucks. I should have charged more. Course, having not been paid from my first contract (yet) and having no money in the bank doesn't help either. At least the Self Employment program at community futures is all submitted, and I have all the forms filled out and handed in, so they anticipate I'll be on it by next week (<fingers crossed>).

Dinner time, and a break to watch "Third Watch" on A&E.

09/11/2002    -{ One Year. }-


My Resolutions for September 11, 2002

09/10/2002    -{ Rantingness }-

Today started early with the Community Futures networking breakfast. The theory with this is you get a bunch of small business owners, or people interested in starting their own business, and put them in a room togeather (this time it was breakfast at Smitty's (hint: don't expect much from Smitty's food wise)) and let them discuss a subject that relates, and let them network. This morning was defining one's competition and your competative advantage, though not a lot of that was actually discussed.

As a a way of introducing ourselves we went around the table we were supposed to say what we did, who our competition was, and what we thought our competative advantage was. A gentleman whom I will not name, not link to, gave a bit of a speil about how he was Microsoft Certified and there were people out there that were actually using the services of people who were not Certified (and how horrible was that he seemed to say). Now I don't know about anyone else out there, but I look on Being Certified as almost a detriment, and can actually hurt the people around you. But let me explain...

Getting your MCSE, or A+, or some other type of certification is great, don't get me wrong... more information and education is always better. But from what I've heard and seen, they aren't too hard to get, relatively speaking. The problem arises when you think that because you have your MCSE you are automatically an expert, able to fix any problem or give advice on any system, or qualified for an extra $20,000 a year. Sorry folks, it just doesn't happen, at least not with just certifications. I've spent a few years in this industry and I'm still a pup, and definatly feel it when I'm around those who are more travelled than I, but even I know that unless you have real world experience, you're pretty much useless to any real company (caveats apply, read on).

That said, if you have real world experience, and get [J. Random. Certification], all the power to you... it's more information, more education, and in the long run, even if you don't learn anything you didn't already know, you might get more street cred with the suits.

The "suits" (no offense to those friends I have who are.... "suits" :) can be a problem as well... someone tells your boss, manager, or C?O that MSCEs are the next big thing, and suddenly perfectly qualified people are being rejected because they don't have a piece of paper that says they know the right order to apply service packs, and the day of month you're supposed to reformat your NT servers, while underqualified weenies with no experience but who have taken a course or two (or six), ar hired. Learning the "right" (and I use that term loosely) way based on The Teachings of Bill is fine and dandy, but having experience to know that say, Unix is a better platform to run a large webmail site from than NT, is a pretty big advantage :)

I've been lucky enough to have worked with geeks and suits alike who do not have these views, and are enlightened as to what qualifications make a good geek. I used to think that demanding university education was too much as well, but after a bad experience with an employee at my last job, my buddy LIMOS (or Silv, not sure which) convinced me that hiring someone with at least one year of College or University is needed. Even one year will ensure that they have the organizational, time management, communications, and social skills needed to survive "a real job". Coming out of high school and being an amazing programmer is great, but if you are so bad at communicating with your co-workers, you can be a detrement to the rest of the company, and you certainly won't make those in charge of hiring and firing happy.

Basically this guy coped an attitude that got my hackles up :) Now he has (or claims to have) 25 years in the business, so assuming that that's experience, hey, all the certifications to him. Course, he should know after 25 years that certs don't make the man. I was good though, and didn't get into a verbal argument or even talk to him about it.... heck, I didn't even flick any of my dry and gross scrambled eggs across the table at him!

Ok, rant over. Gotta finish this stuff to get the Self Employment program started finished so I can run in the morning then head out at 11ish to hand them in. Hmm... getting work on the contract I'm working on now would be nice to :)

09/09/2002    -{ Overheard }-

Ever come into a conversation halfway through, and just not want to know? The following was heard being said from one front desk girl to another as I exited the gym this morning:

"... that's a lot of licking...

Some things you really don't want to know, ya know? In other news, I got an email back from the tetley tea folks.

From: "TetleyConsumerServices" <>
Subject: RE: Message from General Inquiries.

Dear Alan:

Thank you for taking the time to contact our Company. Unfortunately, we do not anticipate on offering a 'duvet' as a future collectible. However, we do thank you for your time and effort.

Kathy [censored to protect the innocent]
Tetley Canada Inc.
Consumer Services

Oh well, guess I'll have to go with plan b then.

On a side note, I discovered the secret to not stopping during a run this morning. A few things are involved.

Go me, 45 min all in one shot.

09/08/2002    -{ Nothing says love like a drooling cat }-

Busy couple of days. I've been working my ass off on some funky mod_perl stuff, and loving it. Got a bunch of stuff over to my folks for their garage sale on saturday, old computer games, random toys that have been gathering dust, etc. Of course, we came back with a few things as well, but that's the way things go I guess.

Hmm... there has to be a statute of limitations for old code somewhere. In the last few days I've been chewed out (nicely) and answered questions on code that was written some time ago, for a company that doesn't exist anymore! I don't mind so much, but I wonder if in a couple of years people will still ask me about these things, and I'll have to try to remember exactly how things worked :)

Finally got a relatively real date for moving out. Next Saturday, September 14th will be an extravaganza moving day, featuring beer and munchies (oh, and some moving as well). Anyone whose around and can help let me know. I figure sometime saturday morning, not to early, not to late... post 8-9ish. Lots of moving drawers full of stuff, and stacks of dishes, as well as a few heavier items. Just to add more fun to it, there's no elevator, just some cramped stairs (this will be fun especially for the bookcases :) Having said that, I wonder if anyone will show up now!

The thing that sucks of course, is that a) there'll be no phone or net here friday (that's the day they get moved up) and b) something else that I completely forgot. Guess I am getting senile!

09/06/2002    -{ Things you think of in the middle of the night and what happens. }-

An email actually sent to the Tetley Tea via their feedback form.

To: The Tetley Teabag Folks
From: Alan
Subject: Needing your urgent attention

To whom it may concen...

While I am not a tetley tea drinker, I do have idea for a new product that you could sell. I am requiring a duvet from you.

I have been living on my own for almost seven years now, and as a college student, and someone with not a lot of extra funds for frivilous things, there are many things in my life which do not change much. One of these is my bedding. While I do wash and dry them at least once a year, the bedding itself, that being a mattress hugging sheet and a duvet, have not been replaced over the years, or even swapped out over summer or winter. It is due to this that I come by this dilema.

As I have had the same sleeping arrangements for so long, my body has become accustomed to having not only the weight of the duvet on top of me. It is because of this that I cannot comfortably fall asleep (at least in my own bed) without this weight. Every night, be it summer or winter I am under the same duvet. However, during hot summers such as the one we are experiencing now, this makes it quite hot.

You see, on nights like tonight I need two things: the comforting and familiar weight of my queen sized duvet on top of me and a light and airy covering.

One could argue that I could pull myself out from under the covers partially, while still having them over top of me, but tonight in particular it is too cold to do that, and it seems I am in a freeze or boil situation.

Originally I was going to go to my mother, who has gotten in a habit of tampering with nature, to see if she could cross-bread a duck with something along the lines of those styrofoam peanuts to create a filling for the duvet that is lighter and airier than the common duck or goose down. My mother however, only tampers with the natures of vegetables such as gourdes and zuccinis, and I don't know how cross-breading one of those with a duck would turn out!

On that note I thought of you. I have seen many of your ads about your tea bags and their marvelous properties, and thought you would be the perfect people to design the next generation duvet. I see now that it is not the insides that are to blame, but the outside covering, which is really just a large version of your teabags!

This matter urgently needs your attention, as unless we act soon it will be too late to complete prototyping and testing by next summer. Please contact me at your earliest convenience about how we may start this process.

Kindest Regards,


09/05/2002    -{ Catnip cures all ill wills }-

It's the time of the year I hate. You know, the London Drugs book sale. They have $50 and $80 computer books marked at $6.99 or $9.99 or $19.99... awk! I went in there and took a look through, and pulled myself out about $100 worth of books (Learning Perl second edition (I don't have a copy yet), Building Linux Clusters (O'Reilly), C++ Speed and Footprint Optimizations, and one on SNMPv3)... when I got to the checkout it turns out that all the books are on for 30% off.... damn them!

Having fun with the latest contract I've gotten... other than them wanting to throw more work into the middle of an already moderately tight deadline it's given me a crash course in mod_perl and a deep and loving appreciation for the eagle book.

Going through things to give to my parents garage sale effort, and throwing out useless old crap as well, to lighten the load of the move (and to stop questions from the friends I get to help move things like "why do you have 8 binders full of blank paper?" and "why are you keeping the empty boxes for computer games that were made in the early 90's?") and have found some interesting things, from old letters, diaries (apparently I've been keeping this journal far longer than I realized), stubs, drivers licenses, etc. Maybe I'll use them to create an autobiography someday.

09/01/2002    -{ "Ooooh, a schpanking!" }-

Had a weird one last night, don't remember it all, but some of it.

A bunch of people, including me, firefly, and another girl from highschool were at Whonnock Elementry school, or at least going by there. For those not familiar with the area, the school sits at an intersection at the bottom of a hill that would make the best moutain climber, hill walker, or cyclist cry out in pain and horror. Anyway, we're there, and for some reason we are going up the hill. We go through the school property itself, and by doing so cut out the a bunch of the hill (not sure how going up concreat steps is any better than walking up the road though, but we were overjoyed anyway). This somehow cuts off pretty much all of the hill. We're walking along and the other girl (Tara? Tami? Tracey? I remember she was one of the nose-in-the-air-oh-I'm-so-so-pretty ones anyway, can't put a name to her though) is carrying a blue container, the kind you'd store juice or water in to go camping. I offer to give her a hand carrying it, it turns out she has her dead uncle's ashes in it. No clue as to why of course. The nozzel is loose and doesn't fit quite right either, and somehow this thing aquired water and a hole, so after I carry it for a bit I notice that I'm trailing a line watery ash along the road. I quickly give it back to her. I think she said something about "this is my way" when I asked why the heck she is carrying around her uncle like that.

We hit a school pretty quickly (which doesn't exist) and while I'm in there I see someone I recognize, Travis, an old friend's younger brother (though at this point he should be in University or out of University, he was only a couple of years behind us), and a teacher that knows me (except for the hair) and asks a bunch of weird questions of me about my future (specifics remember I not).

Helped Brad move yesturday, and it went well. Because of when he got access to the new place, and when he had to give access to his old place to the new people, we had to move everything from his place to his in-laws for the night, then yesturday move them from there to the new place. It all went well and IMHO, rather quickly. Having about eight people there to lug boxes helped though :) Now the unpacking will be fun for them! I'm actually looking forward to the unpacking of our stuff, and the ability to put things exactly where they belong, instead of the "where is there room" syndrome.

DVDs I Wish to Own Sometime in the Future

Weird Search Strings
The following showed up in my web logs as search strings used to get to this page: