Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Censorship = Awesome

November 28, 2007

I received an interesting email today from someone who is helping their friend use my closed proxy server. They said that their friend couldn’t access the server after I had given them login credentials. Naturally, I SSH-ed into the Toolserver, did a wget against my domain name, and it worked. So either China had discovered the proxy and blacklisted it, or there was some other problem which I couldn’t even begin to comprehend.

So, I checked my domain against a free site that determines whether a domain is accessible from China. The test came back saying that it was inaccessible from Beijing, but perfectly fine from Seattle. Guess where this is going.

Apparently, China discovered my proxy and blacklisted the domain name. Just to check, I tested the checker against a secondary Dyndns.org domain that I maintain for redundancy. The test worked fine.

Ain’t censorship grand? I have a feeling that I’m going to need to disclose my domain names only via email from now on.

~alex

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Linux rocks!

November 25, 2007

I own two laptops. One is connected to a widescreen TV via the VGA-out connection on the back, and the other is my personal machine that I do all of my work on. Both have wireless cards. I use wireless for the TV laptop because I’m too lazy to pull cable, and I use wireless for my personal laptop because, well, it’s better than being tethered to an Ethernet cable at my desk.

Both cards, however, have Broadcom chipsets. For those of you cringing at the sound of “broadcom,” I feel your pain. Up until recently, the bcm43xx-series of chipsets were impossible to use under Linux. Then the fabulous bcm43xx drivers were released, and now Fedora incorporates the b43 driver into their standard kernel (All of my machines run Fedora, too).

The end result? Linux just works. I know that many have seen the “Mac vs. PC” adverts on TV, but they just have nothing on Linux. I went out and bought a Linksys WPC54G notebook card today, so I wouldn’t have to pull the card out of my TV laptop whenever I felt like going wireless. I pulled the card out of the box, unwrapped the anti-static cover, and plugged it into my laptop. Ten seconds later, I received GNOME’s wonderful “You are now connected to wireless network..” message. Ah, the sweet sound of something working properly.

On Gentoo, though, I think it was more fun to use Linux. I was like an adventurer going into the jungle, not sure of what obstacles lay ahead. I had to compile my own kernels, build software from source, and (gasp) select my packages’ features. It was sweet control-freak bliss.

On Fedora, I think that my Linux experience is closer to the “Macs just work” theory. I do some simple shell commands to extract the firmware from the Broadcom drivers, and then I can use any Broadcom-based wireless card. Simple.

Linux just works.

~alex

Ohio LinuxFest 2007

October 1, 2007

OLF this year was a blast! IT was the first conference I’ve been to, so I’m sure I thought it was better than it really was, but it was still fun nevertheless. Here’s a quick summary of how it went:

Friday night: Arrive at the hotel. Sleep.

Saturday, 7-9: Wake up, get breakfast, get checked-in at the convention center. Got a bag o’ schwag from the organizers; had all sorts of cool stuff from the sponsors. Got my t-shirt (which is REALLY nice) and meal tickets.

Saturday, 9-12: Listen to Max Spevack, Fedora Project Leader, give the keynote, while trying to get wireless working. Apparently there wasn’t a big enough pipe available for internet, so I idled on the conference ircd. Went to the ZenOss talk and found my new favorite monitoring system. Discovered that the Developinga Linux Distro talk was canceled, and the Ubuntu for Beginners talk wasn’t interesting, so I went onto the show floor, met some of the GNOME and PostgreSQL guys, bought a GPLv3 shirt.

Saturday, 12-1: Found out about a potential keysigning, but missed it. Went over by the food court to try to find free wireless, but failed miserably (Stupid T-Mobile). Got Subway, looked through the conference schwag I got so far. Headed back to the conference and found a mythical room filled with free Google Code shirts. Awesome.

Saturday, 1-2: No interesting talks, so went to the Fedora BoF instead. I think I’ve just decided I’ll join the project 🙂

Saturday, 2-6: Went to the Cfengine talk, some really cool stuff there. Found another keysigning, got my key verified and signed by two other guys there. Headed to the Python talk, which was made problematic because I didn’t have the visual module installed. Still a good talk. Went to the Linux Link Tech Show raffle, didn’t win anything. Caught the PostgreSQL 8.3 talk; their new XML and uuid datatypes are phenomenally cool, as well as their new anti-VACUUM improvements.

Saturday, 6-?: Listened to about 15 minutes of Drew Curtis’s talk (Fark.com). Didn’t want to wait until 7 for the ending keynote, so I went for a final walk around the show floor, got another guy to sign my key, and then packed up and headed home.

Hopefully we can get more organized for the keysigning next year. I might be able to get a Wikipedia BoF going as well!

-alex