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Qui-Gon, we love you

Juliette and myself particularly enjoyed the character Qui-Gon Jinn from Episode 1. Apparently we are not alone (warning: readers of an evil disposition should not view that page!).

We don't really think of Qui-Gon as hot stuff, but we really do enjoy seeing a strong character with a good sense of morality and balance, especially one so believable (light-sabers and mind tricks aside).

If Episode 1 didn't have enough Qui-Gon for you, I suggest watching Rob Roy.

PHP | Works

toronto I'll be in Toronto for php|works in a few days time. I'll also be around for a couple of days after the conference (flight was cheaper that way).

See you there?

Moving to USA (it's official)

I got confirmation of my H1-B visa last night, which means that I can finally arrange those little things (like my flight and where I'm going to live) that have been dependent on this news.

For those that don't yet know, I've taken a position as Senior Systems Engineer at OmniTI Computer Consulting, Inc., to work with George and Theo on (among other things) anti-spam solutions for the fastest MTA on Earth.

I'm really looking forward to making the move in a couple of weeks time!

Evil Genius

Looks like I need invest in a copy of Evil Genius by Vivendi Universal Games.

By a quirk of timing, this coincides with me adding the evil photograph taken of me by my evil assistant during my evil vacation on my evil moonbase (see evil box-out to the right on my evil blog).

MySQL ComCon Europe 2004

via Zak:

The Shaken (but not stirred) Announcement

Recipe for MySQL ComCon Europe 2004:

  • Take equal parts kick-ass MySQL community event and MySQL mission-critical business event.
  • Add key MySQL community members and developers.
  • Drop in three days in November (8th to 10th).
  • Shake well.
  • Serve ice cold at

If you're interested in attending, by all means beg/bribe, borrow or steal to get there; a lot of effort has gone into organizing the event, particularly into getting the developers to be at the same place at the same time, so make the most of it!

Back online

I was unfortunate enough to be running a vulnerable install of cvstrac about a month ago and this server was hacked. Thanks to my brother (who noticed some strange goings on), I was alerted to the problem and had booted the intruder off within 45 minutes of them starting to mess around.

Post mortem analysis of the cvstrac log showed that the initial intrusion and installation of zbind took place a week earlier. Ouch. Slap my wrists for not noticing it sooner. Curiously, the intruder did not appear to have managed to gain root. This is curious because for that 45 minute spell, everything on the box was reporting permission denied and no logins were possible. I verified the system with chkrootkit and the rpm checksum validation; no sign of problems. Weeeird.

I decided to rebuild the box from scratch, just in case, and I've been crafting this new installation for a couple of weeks in my spare time; everything is chrooted and locked down, so if a new vuln is announced, the impact should be minimal.... fingers crossed.

I'd like to thank my hosts John Companies for their excellent service; in no time they had a fresh install of a newer Red Hat for me to rebuild my system, and kept my existing server up and running for me to transfer across the data--at no extra charge. I'm pleased with their level of service; they're not quite as quick to respond to your inquiries as their testimonials suggest, but they are fast enough, and you're dealing directly with people that know what they're doing.

They also offer an OpenSource contributor discount, so if that's you and you're looking for root@your-own-box on fair hardware (dual PIII 860 Mhz on my server) but don't have oodles of cash to throw at it, go take a looksee at JC.

It's worth noting that these are Virtual Private Servers, so you are technically sharing the hardware with other customers, but not the filesystem or other services; you have control over everything except for the kernel. You hardly notice that it's a VPS if you're running efficient, long-lived, server applications; it is a tad slower if you're firing off new processes though (such as CGI or compiling stuff), as the scheduler is geared towards the former and not the latter.

thebrainroom is dead, long live thebrainroom!

This weekend I stripped out my office (affectionately entitled The Brain Room) ready to have it redecorated in such a way that it doesn't look like something the borg created, and that will have a positive effect on the sale of the house.

My nice (cheap and elderly) L-shaped desk fell apart during the move--luckily after I moved the 17" and 22" monitors that sat upon into a spare room--phew!, and I've powered down half the machines I was running in there.

I also had the "pleasure" of sorting through the last 2.5 years worth of the MSDN universal far east pack... on CD media. I dutifully scratched 9 boxes full of CD's (although, to be honest, finding someone around here that could actually make use of Japanese, Korean and Chinese MS developer software is probably a tall order) and took them to the recycling centre, where they were unable to recycle them--doh!

So, I'm now working in the new Brain Room, a 6'x8' ish little room we had spare on the other side of the house; it's cosy and isolated enough that I have been even more productive here than the old room.

Moronic 12 line .sigs are evil

Particularly on a mailing list. Indulge me in this analogy:

Picture someone coming into your home one day, armed with a megaphone. They walk up to you and start to read out their signature, speaking through the megaphone. Annoying huh? Now picture them leaving and heading to the house of one of your colleagues and repeating the process.

Hang on, isn't that the same thing as "direct mail" (aka: spam)?

Now, you might forgive someone for doing this once (maybe they are a newbie), but when they next have something to say, and do it again, it's really really annoying.

Nettiquette suggests that you should not use more than 4 lines for your signature. I agree, but (after a few years experience) I would even go further; you don't need a signature at all, except perhaps during an initial round of communication with a new client. Why? Once they know who you are, shouting your name and other junk at them isn't interesting.

If you really need to advertise which company you're working for on an open source mailing list, set the Organization: header in your MUA so that it includes that information in the meta data. There is no need for any other information. If someone wants to know more, they will email you and ask.

If you have a .sig, please please please get rid of it, at least when you post to mailing lists.