2009 archive


Well I finally cracked and ordered an N900 on-line just before Christmas. Nokia had been promising since about August of this year that the device “might” ship in the UK around October. Since then, the release date has slipped, and slipped, and slipped (much to the amusement of an iPhone using friend of mine who …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/12/30/shiny/

comment spam

I block comment spam aimed at this blog, and I insist that commenters leave some form of identification before I will allow a comment to be posted. Further, I use a captcha mechanism to keep the volume of spam down. Nevertheless, like most blogs, trivia attracts its fair share of attempted viagra ads, porn links …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/12/12/comment-spam/

colossally boneheaded

David Adams over at OS News has posted an interesting commentary on Eric Schmidt’s recent outburst. Referring to Schmidt’s statement which I commented on below, Adams says: I think the portion of that statement that’s sparked the most outrage is the “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/12/12/colossally-boneheaded/

privacy is just for criminals

I’ve mentioned before that I value my privacy. I use tor, coupled with a range of other necessary but tedious approaches (such as refusing cookies, blocking ad servers, scrubbing my browser) to provide me with the degree of anonymity I consider my right in an increasingly public world. It is nobody’s business but mine if …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/12/07/privacy-is-just-for-criminals/

apple antipathy may be misplaced

Apparently the lastest release of the iPhone OS (v 3.1) has caused a few minor problems with WiFi and battery life. This has led El Reg to moan about the fact that you can’t downgrade the iPhone OS to an earlier version. I’m no great fan of Apple, but to be fair, this situation is …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/11/29/apple-antipathy-may-be-misplaced/

system monitoring with munin

A while back a friend and colleague of mine introduced me to the server monitoring tool called munin which he had installed on one of the servers he maintains. It looked interesting enough for me to stick it on my “to do” list for my VPSs. Having a bunch of relevant stats presented in graphical …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/11/15/system-monitoring-with-munin/

OSS shouldn’t frighten the horses

Since I first read that Nokia were adding much needed telephony capability to their N8x0 range of internet tablets I have been watching the development of the new Nokia N900 with much interest. It looks to be potentially the sort of device I would buy. Despite all the hype around the iPhone, I really dislike …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/11/11/oss-shouldnt-frighten-the-horses/

a free (google) service is worth exactly what you pay for it

I note from a recent register posting that that some gmail users are objecting to the fact that google’s mail service has failed yet again. El Reg even quotes one disgruntled user as saying: “More than 30 hours without email…totally unacceptable. I’ll definitely have to reconsider my selection of gmail for my primary email account. …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/11/01/a-free-service-is-worth-exactly-what-you-pay-for-it/

call me by name, or call me by value

The old saw about “real” programmers versus the rest (known as “quiche eaters”) was originally summarised beautifully in the classic letter to the editor of Datamation in July 1983 entitled “real programmers don’t use pascal”. Similar religious (i.e. irrational, but deeply held) positions are taken around various other “lifestyle” choices, such as the equally classic …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/10/29/call-me-by-name-or-call-me-by-value/


It would appear that I may have been unnecessarily concerned about the accuracy of the profiling data held on me by the commercial sites I use. In my inbox today I found the following email from Amazon: “As a valued Amazon.co.uk customer, we thought you might be interested in visiting our website dedicated to shoes …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/10/28/handbags/

logrotate weirdness in debian etch

I have two VPSs, both running debian. One runs lenny, the other runs etch. The older etch install runs fine, and is much as the supplier delivered it. Until now I have not had cause to consider the need to upgrade the etch install to lenny because it “just worked”. But today I noticed for …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/10/18/logrotate-weirdness-in-debian-etch/

where has my money gone

Like most ‘net users I know these days, I conduct most of my financial transactions on-line. But on-line banking is a high risk activity, particularly if you use the “default” OS and browser combination to be found on most PCs. I don’t, but that doesn’t make me invulnerable, just a slightly harder target. So attempts …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/10/15/on-line-banking-security/

debian on a DNS-313

I bought another new toy last week – a D-Link DNS 313 NAS. Actually, this was a mistake because what I really wanted was the DNS-323. I just wasn’t careful enough at the time. Quite apart from having space for two 3.5″ SATA hard drives instead of just one, the 323 is a very different …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/10/03/debian-on-a-dns-313/

debonaras demise?

Sadly it seems that the debonaras wiki is no more. Rod Whitby had done some excellent work in pulling together a site which consolidated useful information about low cost network storage devices (alternatives to the slug) which could be made to run Debian. Unfortunately the site was a continual target for wiki spam bots and …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/10/03/292/

abigail’s party

In today’s Guardian, Charlie Brooker ranted rather eloquently about how much he hated smug Apple fans. Or did he? Actually he made full on broadside swipes at both Apple and Microsoft’s approach to product marketing. One side is too slick and irritating, the other is way too uncool and irritating. But most of his ranting …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/09/28/abigails-party/

wordpress security

At about the time I decided to move trivia to my own VPS, there was a lot of fuss about a new worm which was reportedly exploiting a vulnerability in all versions <= 2.8.3. Even the Grauniad carried some (rather inaccurate) breathless reporting about how the wordpress world was about to end and maybe we …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/09/20/wordpress-security/

wordpress on lighttpd

I have commented in the past how I prefer lighttpd to apache, particularly on low powered machines such as the slug. I used to be a big apache fan, in fact I think I first used it at version 1.3.0 or maybe 1.3.1, having migrated from NCSA 1.5.1 (and before that Cern 3.0) back in …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/09/12/wordpress-on-lighttpd/

are you human enough

In the course of moving trivia to its new home, I necessarily reviewed and edited a bunch of links. This meant I revisited some old friends – including Chris Samuel’s blog where I discovered this gem. As Chris says, you’ve got to love the captcha.

Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/09/09/are-you-human-enough/

we’ve moved

As I mentioned in the last post. I decided to move trivia from its old home on a shared hosting platform to my own VPS at bytemark. I also mentioned that this was proving trickier than it should – for no real good reason. However, the move is now complete and the blog is now …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/09/09/weve-moved/

wordpress woes

As is common with many blogs, my public ramblings on this site are made possible through the ease of use and flexibility of the mysql/php based software known as wordpress.. And again, as is common to much php/mysql based software, that package has vulnerabilities – sometimes serious, remotely exploitable vulnerabilities. When vulnerabilities are made public, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/08/26/wordpress-woes/


I really missed the old phrack magazine. Some of the “loopback” entries in particular are superb examples of technical nous, complete irreverance and deadpan humour. One of my favourites (from phrack 55) appears in my blogroll under “network (in)security”. I am particularly fond of the observation that details of how to exploit old vulnerabilities are …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/08/02/zf05/

dns failure – a cautionary tale

I recently moved one of my domains between two registrars. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but on reflection it was both foolish and unnecessary. Unnecessary because my main requirement for moving it (greater control of my DNS records for that domain) could have been met simply by my redelegating the NS …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/08/02/dns-failure-a-cautionary-tale/

zebu update

Well google was clearly the fastest at indexing my blog. It only took a day for my nonsense phrase to appear as number one on their index. Since then, the phrase has appeared in ask, bing, clusty and yahoo, but still not in cuil, despite being visited by their robot on 29 June. Obvious (and …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/07/12/zebu-update/

aspire one bios updates

This post is partly for my own benefit. It records some of the most useful references to bios updates for the AAO. My own AAO is actually running a fairly early bios (3114) and deliberately so. I upgraded to 3309 in (yet another futile) attempt to get sony memory sticks to work but found that …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2009/07/05/aspire-one-bios-updates/