Browse Month: June 2004

06/28/2004

In today’s newspaper I was reading some political editorial and found a real gem of a comment. Apparently some woman plans to vote for Bush in the upcoming presidential election because “Bush hasn’t let me down completely yet.”

Boy, what a great endorsement that is! Although Bush has apparently let her down one or more times thus far, he hasn’t let her *completely* down, so he’s still got her vote.

How wonderful to have voters with that kind of reasoning; I’m sure the Bush camp loves these people.

06/21/2004

Wow, in addition to getting my college diploma for a small fee (and no textbooks or classes!) I can apparently become a citizen of, say, Belize. Today’s spam included this message:

“Do you need a new identity, a new citizenship or a new country to call home.

You are pre-qualified. 50 Countries Available.”

Wow, pre-qualified! I’m honored that I passed the rigorous screening process. Now the hard part is choosing which of the fifty available countries I’d like to call home…

06/21/2004

One of my clients got hit with a denial-of-service attack on Saturday, and their web site was terribly sluggish for a few hours as the attacker took most of the bandwidth. I was able to make some adjustments on the server and brings things back to life, and today the client asked me if I could do some forensic work to figure out who it was and how they might combat the problem more effectively in the future.

So I sat down this morning to figure out how to do it, and basically had a huge log file. It contained all the web hits for the week, and was half a gigabyte in size. There were millions of hits in the file, and from that haystack I had to find the needles that pointed to the guy (or guys) responsible for the attack.

In about an hour I’d sifted through the data, pinned down about half a dozen addresses who were obviously working together on the attack, and tracked the culprit to China. I doubt anything will ever come of it, but I was able to provide my client with a lot of information that’ll help them determine if it was one of their resellers (or some disgruntled user) trying to get some sloppy revenge.

Afterward, it occurred to me to consider what I might have done if I didn’t have a Linux system at my disposal. Assuming (for the sake of argument) that I had this same 500 MB log file with millions of entries, how would I have sorted through it using a Windows system? I needed to do things like grab IP addresses off lines, count the number of unique addresses, figure out which ones were making more requests to the server over a short time, and so on. Then I had to do lookups on domain records to track the addresses to an ISP, and so forth.

My conclusion was that I have no idea how a hard-core Windows user would’ve been able to do what I did– at least in the short time I did it. I suppose I could’ve imported the data into SQL Server and run some queries on it, but that would’ve been awkward and time-consuming. I wanted to process millions of lines of text in a quick fashion. Unix command-line tools were perfect for the job; what Windows GUI tools would’ve worked?

Contrary to my usual demeanor, I’m not Windows-bashing here. Rather, I’m trying to understand what a Windows web administrator in my shoes would’ve done. It’s an interesting problem. I suppose if I’d been using IIS (again, for argument’s sake) there might be some built-in log analysis tools in the IIS Management Console, but I doubt it. Moreover, processing the sheer volume of data I had presented a whole set of issues; it’s not like I could just import everything into Excel and do some sorting.

So all in all, I remain a happy Linux user and wonder how those poor souls using Microsoft products manage to get things done effectively and efficiently…

06/21/2004

“First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.”

— Mohatma Gandhi

06/20/2004

The kids are involved in a reading program at the local library, and they’re plowing through books like it’s going out of style. Of course they’ve always been interested in reading, and every night at bedtime they get 10-20 minutes of quiet reading time anyway, but now they’re keeping track of all the books on little charts so they can earn prizes from the library. Even Zack is doing it– he gets to count all the books Laralee and I read to him (and the other day I think she went through a stack of a dozen books in one sitting).

So tonight La and Alex were reading about volcanoes, and Kyra read “Green Eggs and Ham” to me. I like that book because I see myself in the main character, and of course everything by Dr. Seuss is good stuff. But I was really impressed by Kyra– she read the entire book without any problem. For someone just out of kindergarten that’s quite a feat.

06/20/2004

One might classify a movie as “that rocked”. The same classification system might include “that sucked”. And last night Laralee and I decided there must be another classification called “that wasn’t as good as I remember”.

We have the DVD of “Victory”, which is a 1980’s-era movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and the quintessential thespian Pele. And yes, it’s Pele of Brazilian soccer fame– probably the only professional soccer player anyone not familiar with soccer can name. But as it’s a soccer movie (more or less) it features Pele quite prominently.

In any case, we slogged through the movie and at the end I said, “wow, that’s not something I’ll ever need to see again.” And Laralee’s response was, as you may have guessed, “that wasn’t as good as I remember”. Of course the last time she’d seen it was when she was about thirteen and perhaps back then it was truly at the pinnacle of Hollywood magic. But by today’s standards– whatever they may be– it was pretty much a cheesy film filled with mundane acting, a rather dull plot, and several instances of obvious attempts to elevate concern for the characters or situations that in fact were so blatantly artificial they were more amusing than emotion-provoking.

As we talked about movies that were much worse the second time than we remembered them being the first, I couldn’t help but think of “The Dukes of Hazzard” which was one of my favorite childhood shows. When I saw it as an adult– shortly after graduating from college– I was saddened by how absolutely terrible it was. So ended a longtime nostalgia about Bo, Luke, the General Lee, and (of course) Cooter.

So beware of those movies or shows you saw twenty years ago and remember fondly. You may see them again– either through the magic of $6.99 DVD’s or reruns on TNN– only to say at the end, “huh, that wasn’t as good as I remember.”

06/19/2004

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer

06/18/2004

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

06/16/2004

“Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that’s not true. Some smaller countries are neutral.”

— Robert Orben

06/15/2004

I just got off the phone on a half-hour interview with a guy out in Washington D.C. I don’t know how he found me, but he’s a writer for a magazine published by the U.S. State Department that’s sent to the Middle East. He wanted to do an article about me and my business, apparently as part of a larger series of articles about young (under 35, that is) “successful” entrepreneurs.

The interview went well, and he was a good guy. Unfortunately I won’t have a clue what he says about me, as the final print article will be entirely in Arabic. But hey, stranger things have happened…

06/14/2004

How can you not love getting a letter from a friend that’s been written on genuine

WONDER WOMAN STATIONERY!

06/11/2004

Classify this as “funny because it’s true”…

Microsoft has just launched a worldwide tour to “get the facts out” and convince people that Linux is more expensive than Windows, as well as less secure, more difficult to maintain, and probably more evil.

In typical Slashdot fashion, some guy imagined the ad that Microsoft might use as part of this new campaign:

(sinister music) The Linux operating system has a dark secret – one its supporters don’t want you to hear. It can be used by terrorists, and can be installed to operate machines that kill puppies. We don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound so free and wonderful to us. What other secrets might Linux be hiding?

(happy, relaxing music) But Microsoft Windows won’t stand for this. Its proven inefficiency helps thwart terrorist activities of every kind. By the time a terrorist installs Windows XP Home Edition on their computer, adds Service Pack 1, installs all of the many patches from Windows Update, implements an antivirus solution, removes the infection of the Welchia worm that was installed prior to downloading the RPC patches, as well as the Sasser worm that was installed prior to downloading the LSASS patches, the forces of good can save those puppies. And if the terrorist tries to share files with his fellow evildoers, no more than six of them will be able to access his machine at a time. Now that’s security America can count on. “I’m Bill Gates, and I approve this message.”

06/10/2004

Wow, my e-mail has taken on a whole new level. Apparently God is employing spammers to spread His message. I just got one with the subject “Be ready for the here [sic] after”:

God and saten are both real, the world needs to know this.
Don’t make the mistake of not accepting God.
Its too late if end up in hell.
Contact a local church or prayerline today.
He is real do not be in Hell by the time you realize it.
God is alive.

Whee! I think I’ll contact my local church or prayerline right away.

06/07/2004

A week ago (on Memorial Day) I continued my annual tradition of running the Bolder Boulder, which is a 10-km road race in Boulder. I’ve done it six times now, and despite my complete lack of enthusiasm for jogging / running in general, I find it to be a lot of fun. I suspect the main reason is the carnival atmosphere of the town, and the fact that I’m huffing and puffing right along with about fifty thousand other people.

I had hoped to finish in under an hour just to prove that I’m still young enough and in shape to be able to jump on the road and run a little over six miles without any training whatsoever. In the end, my offical time was 58:50– not too shabby, and almost a full minute better than last year’s time of 59:40. Age hasn’t caught me yet.

Of course, the race organizers would love it if I’d purchase a photo package showing me in the race. For a mere thirty dollars (starting price; they go all the way up to sixty) I can have an 8×10″ print of myself near exhaustion at the end of the run. Hmm, no thanks, although I couldn’t resist grabbing the preview shots.

The picture shows me in the stadium, which is the last hundred meters or so of the run. This is my final sprint to the finish line, surely an awe-inspiring sight in the tradition of “Chariots of Fire” or something.

Maybe next year I can drop my time below 59:00…

06/07/2004

There was a time, long ago, when you could use e-mail to do a simple thing like invite someone to a meeting. Your message might look something like:

“Hey, Jeff, can you swing by my office next Tuesday at 10:00?”

These days, we have the monstrosity that is Microsoft Exchange, and instead of a message like that I get the following:
 
BEGIN:VCALENDAR
METHOD:REQUEST
PRODID:Microsoft CDO for Microsoft Exchange
VERSION:2.0
BEGIN:VTIMEZONE
TZID:Mountain Time (US & Canada)
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-TZID:12
BEGIN:STANDARD
DTSTART:16010101T020000
TZOFFSETFROM:-0600
TZOFFSETTO:-0700
RRULE:FREQ=YEARLY;WKST=MO;INTERVAL=1;BYMONTH=10;BYDAY=-1SU
END:STANDARD
BEGIN:DAYLIGHT
DTSTART:16010101T020000
TZOFFSETFROM:-0700
TZOFFSETTO:-0600
RRULE:FREQ=YEARLY;WKST=MO;INTERVAL=1;BYMONTH=4;BYDAY=1SU
END:DAYLIGHT
END:VTIMEZONE
BEGIN:VEVENT
DTSTAMP:20040607T220944Z
DTSTART;TZID=”Mountain Time (US & Canada)”:20040615T100000
SUMMARY:Business Development Database meeting
UID:040000008200E00074C5B7101A82E00800000000003D83D8A94CC401000000000000000
 01000000054E0A52EE8970245974DE0F6F78FBA84
ATTENDEE;ROLE=REQ-PARTICIPANT;PARTSTAT=NEEDS-ACTION;RSVP=TRUE;CN=”David Jones”
ATTENDEE;ROLE=REQ-PARTICIPANT;PARTSTAT=NEEDS-ACTION;RSVP=TRUE;CN=”Jeff Schroeder”
ORGANIZER;CN=”Justine Jez”
LOCATION:David Jones’ office
DTEND;TZID=”Mountain Time (US & Canada)”:20040615T103000
DESCRIPTION:N
SEQUENCE:0
PRIORITY:5
CLASS:
CREATED:20040607T220945Z
LAST-MODIFIED:20040607T220945Z
STATUS:CONFIRMED
TRANSP:OPAQUE
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-BUSYSTATUS:BUSY
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-INSTTYPE:0
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-INTENDEDSTATUS:BUSY
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-ALLDAYEVENT:FALSE
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-IMPORTANCE:1
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-OWNERAPPTID:-249075756
BEGIN:VALARM
ACTION:DISPLAY
DESCRIPTION:REMINDER
TRIGGER;RELATED=START:-PT00H15M00S
END:VALARM
END:VEVENT
END:VCALENDAR

Wow, what fun. I imagine if I used Microsoft Outlook (perish the thought) I’d get a nice little formatted message where I could click “sure, I’ll be there” or something.

It’s hard being non-conformist.

06/07/2004

“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”

— Herbert Agar