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    After playing around quite a bit, I discovered something that should have been obvious. The reason Apache was getting built with the most recent version of OpenSSL was I didn't do a clean build after installing the latest version of OpenSSL  The lesson here: when making a change, always run "make clean" before "make". is now running Apache/2.2.8, PHP/5.2.6 and OpenSSL/0.9.8g.

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From Ericasaurus Rex


June 12, 2008 at 11:37 AM



    Are IP address is off the black list. I was actually able to send e-mail within a few hours of submitting my removal request. Talking to my roomie, I learned the problem computer only ran for a few hour before it was shutdown. Clearly, the blacklists are quite sensitive--which is good. I used this link to check on the status of our IP, but also tried Hef's link left in the comments. Since I keep a separate e-mail address for everyone, I don't run a check against blacks myself. If I start getting SPAM, I delete the address and tell that person to run a spyware check. I still see the mail server logs rejecting e-mail for addresses that have been dead for 8 years (addresses I've posted on Usenet with the "remove this" in the address).
    Since SPAM isn't an issue for me, the most annoying things I get in e-mail are news letters and advertisements from companies I recently made purchase from. New Egg is one of the worst. Every time you buy something, they automatically place you back on the advertisement list. When you request off the list, you are off until you buy something else. They are not the only ones to do this--but one of the companies I buy from rather regularly where I see this happening. I'd say something about how this likely annoys customers, but I'm not the picture of a "typical" anything. I see very few advertisements. I don't listen to the radio, don't own a TV, throw away all junk mail before opening it, don't get SPAM and I run adblocking software on my web browser. I make a point out of not buying anything I see intrusively advertised--that is, if a billboard distracts me enough while driving so I see what it's advertising for, I make a point not to buy that product from that company. I personally feel that advertising of this nature is intrusive, and companies that take part in it don't deserve my business. The only advertisements I do support are ads in Google searches. If I'm looking to buy a gizmo, type it into Google and see ads for companies selling it, I'm going to buy it from one of them. Googles ads are not as intrusive--they are highlighted and/or off to one side and only text--and I don't have a problem with that. Kinda wish more companies would take that kind of approach.

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From Ericasaurus Rex


June 12, 2008 at 11:38 AM

That's my hair color, kind of.
       Preformed surgery on a 24V battery charger for my electric string trimmer (aka. Weedwhacker).  It gave out sometime this winter while the device was sitting on the charger.  Now the battery is completely dead and I need to get a charge back in it. 
   The charger is basically a just wall-wart.  It was housed in plastic and more or less sealed.  To open it, I tried a router bit on my rotary tool (aka. Dremel) and cut the housing in half.  It was messy, but worked well.  Once inside, I started to probe around for obvious signs of trouble.  Everything looking in order, I broke out the multimeter and started probing voltages.  The transformer appeared to be doing nothing.  I tried putting a regulated 24 VDC supply after the filter capacitor and the charging circuit came to life.  So, I cut off the transformer and measured the voltage with nothing connected to it.  Still nothing.  I moved the 24 VDC power to the where the transformer had been located, and the charger again came to life.  Looks to me like the transformer quit.  How and why remains a question.  I know transformers can go out if they overheat and melt their internals.  But this transformer looks in really good shape.  (*shrug*) 
   My plan is to allow the battery to charge overnight.  Tomorrow, I'll try the string trimmer out and see if it's battery holds enough charge to make fixing this thing worth while.  I can order a new transformer online--if that's what it takes to fix it.  But a new battery and charger might make other options more cost effective.
    Pictured is the charging circuit with the transformer removed and the external 24 VDC power jumped in.

May 06, 2008


       One of my roommates downloaded a trojan which took the liberty of freely spamming the world with our unfirewalled connection.  Now our IP address has been black-listed. (Queue long list of harsh, foul language)  This is extremely irritating, since I can no longer send e-mail to anyone without getting a bounce.  Most major e-mail servers implement a spam guard that checks blacklists.  Now I'm going to have a beg for forgiveness from each of the black listing services so I can clear the IP's name.
   To prevent future issues, I've firewalled all outgoing traffic to port 25 except on the mail server.  This prevents anyone else from connecting to a SMPT account, but most everyone here uses web-based mail system anyway.  I stopped letting people use my main machine back in June of last year because my roommate downloaded a trojan.  Now this too.  Perhaps I'm beginning to get some sympathy for what I use to consider totalitarian-like system administrators.
    Pictured is one of my entires in the gallery Door's and WIndows.

2 comments have been made.

From Hef (

The Internet

May 06, 2008 at 4:02 PM

I have been there. I was always irritated when I was prevented from contacting port 25 incoming or outgoing. One of the networks I manage got a virus and started spamming. I figured having to remove myself from all the blacklists was just pusishment for letting it happen in the first place. I also now block outgoing port 25 on all networks. If a user came to me and asked me to open a specific ip address, I would. We also run an alternative smtp server on a higher port, so people can get around blacked smtp ports. no spam seems to come in through it so I don't think its a problem. also, blackberry uses as a spam measure. It took me a few hours on the phone and talking to several different departments to get the information.

From That Noah Kid

May 06, 2008 at 6:42 PM

Ouch, any idea who it was that pulled that little friendly bug off the interwebs? That's kind of balls. Perhaps some kind of gate between the dragon servers and all the other computers could be arranged? I know far too little about these things... Que, I love you. You are my heterosexual life partner. Hugs!

May 05, 2008




    Fired up the White Dragon and did updates to the Indigo Dragon, including Apache, PHP and OpenSSL.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to get Apache to use the latest OpenSSL libraries, which is rather irritating.  Debian has it's own version of OpenSSL, which isn't the most recent version, and the Apache seems to want to compile with that.  I even gave Apache a specific path for OpenSSL.  Meh.  I'll look into that more one day.  For now, we are using Apache 2.2.8, PHP 5.6.2 and OpenSSL 0.9.8c.
   We also did system updates, which included updates to Dovcot (POP3 server), but not much else.  I'm always a little hesitant to update the mail servers because Debian likes to overwrite my settings.  Today everything seemed to go ok.

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From Ericasaurus Rex


May 24, 2008 at 3:23 PM

I see you, Neil!
    I started the process of updating my neglected photo gallery.  It's been well over 6 months since I've done this.  I added galleries for the U-Rock productions of Shadow Box and Hotel Baltimore as well as Beloit Antipathy, a gallery for abandon/decrepit imagery around Beloit, added Elizabeth and Noah to the people sub-category and added images to several existing categories.
    Lady Jai at last night's (technically early this morning) black light paint party.

May 03, 2008

Happy birthday Tara

    I've herd many people talk about watching the Wizard of Oz while playing Pink Floyd's album Dark Side of the Moon.  I thought I'd give that a try and see if there was any truth to it.  I found a version for download that had the first 45 minutes of the movie set to the album and gave it a shot.  Kind of crazy, but it really does work in several places.  Makes me wonder how many albums end up synced to a movie by chance, as I'm sure the members of Pink Floyd had not designed their album for this purpose.
    James doing a little glass drumming at Denny's.

May 02, 2008

Coding algorithms long-hand

    One of the conventions I use is expanding out algorithms--doing it "long hand".  This is writing each step of the equation on a new line so the process can be followed step-by-step.  It takes more lines of code, but makes for a good deal more readability--the results are the same.  Lets take, for instance, the Quadratic equation:
The following implementations solve for the first term of the equation:
float QuadraticEquationLong( float a , float b , float c )
   float Accumulator;

   Accumulator  = b * b;
   Accumulator -= 4 * a * c; 
   Accumulator  = sqrt( Accumulator );
   Accumulator += -b;
   Accumulator /= 2 * a;

   return Accumulator;
float QuadraticEquationShort( float a , float b , float c )
   return ( -+ sqrt( b * b - 4 * a * c ) ) / 2 * a;
    Both do exactly the same thing, but the difference is, the long hand version preforms the function in a clear step-by-step manner. For the quadratic equation, one could argue the short version is still quite readable. But here is a real-life example of why I choice to do things long-hand: 
   BitMask = (uint16)( 1U << min( ValueA , ValueB ) ) - 1 );
    What is going on here is this: A bit mask is being created for some number of bits.  The number of bits is the smaller of ValueA and ValueB.  But a mistake had been made during implementation.  The original line actually read:
   BitMask = (uint16)( 1U << min( ValueA , ValueB ) - 1 ) );
The collection of parentheses distracted the coder and the -1 had been placed in the wrong location.  The above will not create the desired results.  Now the expanded version:
      mask  = min( ValueA , ValueB );
      mask  = 1U << mask;
      mask -= 1;
Now the expand version with the error: 
      mask  = min( ValueA , ValueB );
      mask -= 1;
      mask  = 1U << mask;
    Simply reading the code line by line makes the mistake obvious: Find the smallest value of ValueA and ValueB; subtract 1, shift 1 to left this many bits.
    The downfall of this method is the possibility of not producing the most efficient code. If speed is an issue, take the time to work out the problem to see what's best for order of operation. Or, if you're working with a good compiler, do it short hand, look at how the assembler broke it down and work it backward. Or if you need it as fast as possible, implement the function in assembly.
    For most instances, I'd recommend long-hand. It is going to make things clear, and that's can save some hair-pulling in the future.

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From Ericasaurus Rex


May 24, 2008 at 3:24 PM

This goes way over my head because of my limited attention span. Yay!
       In late March, I censored my website in preparation for job interviews.  This wasn't mandatory but seemed like a good idea.  People have been fired from their jobs for blog postings (the legally of which is in question) and I didn't want to take the chance I wouldn't be hired because of what my blog would say.  Basically, my web site is free advertising for my skill set, and having an potential employer visit my site is beneficial to me.  But my poetical and world views differ greatly from the mainstream.  That being the case, I hid from view 20+ posts and crippled my profile information. 
   It seemed paranoid at first--it was a long shot they would visit my site in the first place--but I took the "better safe then sorry" approach.  Then, the day before I had an interview, I watched an unknown IP address browse my site.  I did a "who is" lookup and it turned out that IP address belonged to the company I was interviewing for the next day.  And yes, they did look at my profile.
   I'm torn between the ideas of freedom of speech and self-censorship.  While I feel I should be free to say what ever I like, I also understand that someone else could hold a bias against me for my views.  Normally I wouldn't care, but when I'm looking to become employed, it matters.
    Pictures is Bruce running the light board for the show.
    Went to photograph the U-Rock production of Hotel Baltimore.  Wednesday night is for student preview, which is free for students.  So I didn't feel too bad about walking around on the sides during the show.  I switched quite a bit between my 18-55mm and 75-300mm lens.  My 75-300mm really doesn't like low light and I lost a good number of pictures to blur under shutter speed I would have been able to handle with the smaller lens.  This is likely due to the fact that shaking results in much greater change with the higher zoom.  I'm not use to this since I normally use the 75-300mm outdoors in full sunlight.  If I had the time before hand, I would have asked to borrow Tazz's 70-200mm F2.8, which would have produced much higher shutter speeds.  Alas, I didn't have time.

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From Liz

May 02, 2008 at 2:14 PM

thanks for taking photos for us since Tazz is out of town this weekend.