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First Detailed Data Analysis Shows Exactly How Comcast Jammed Netflix

JWSmythe Re:Their answer to oversubscription as well (209 comments)

Sure you can do that. They'll (kind of) accept it too. Reducing your payment amount will result in reduction of your service.

When you pay less than your bill, they'll simply reduce your service to 0.


Lava Flow In Hawaii Gains Speed, Triggers Methane Explosions

JWSmythe Re:What is a "handful" of people (64 comments)

I think you're probably right, which helps with the disaster preparedness crowd. "Nope, less than a handful. That's zero beds we need set up somewhere. I really hope our estimate isn't too low."

3 days ago

Rosetta Probe Reveals What a Comet Smells Like

JWSmythe Re:lots of organics (53 comments)

The Klingons are already there.

4 days ago

Study: Past Climate Change Was Caused by Ocean, Not Just the Atmosphere

JWSmythe Re:really? (185 comments)

I really hope the statement was taken out of context. I'm a layman, but I read a lot and I know that. Anyone who studies climate should have learned that in the beginning of their first year classes. Well, grade school is just a fuzzy memory, but I believe it was taught then.

4 days ago

Worcester Mass. City Council Votes To Keep Comcast From Entering the Area

JWSmythe Re:This act ... (232 comments)

It was a joke. I would have used a different company, but a quick search showed them be the only broadband provider there.

about two weeks ago

Worcester Mass. City Council Votes To Keep Comcast From Entering the Area

JWSmythe Re:No, they didn't (232 comments)

Meh, this is modern America. If you work in the public sector and don't plan your retirement by working for corporations you helped secure contracts, you aren't planning for your future.

about two weeks ago

Worcester Mass. City Council Votes To Keep Comcast From Entering the Area

JWSmythe This act ... (232 comments)

This act of civil disobedience has been funded by Charter Communications, small town USA's favorite Internet service monopoly.

about two weeks ago

Infinite Browser Universe Manyland Hits 8 Million Placed Blocks

JWSmythe Re:If Minecraft is anything to go by (67 comments)

If you find one that goes too high, it'll send you to intermission. I went for quite a while, and there was always something there. It's like My Little Pony, Minecraft, and Mario Brothers were thrown in a blender and thrown on a Geocities page. :)

about three weeks ago

Kmart Says Its Payment System Was Hacked

JWSmythe Re:Kmart? wtf (101 comments)

That's pretty much what I was thinking. I thought they had all closed a few years ago.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Build a Home Network To Fully Utilize Google Fiber?

JWSmythe Re:more than I can technically achieve over wirele (279 comments)

I was taught to do it with a snake. Rare earth magnets weren't all that common in the consumer market at the time, and there was no Internet to order them on. :)

about three weeks ago

Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure

JWSmythe Re:Pixie Dust (252 comments)

So you have heard of Greenpeace.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Build a Home Network To Fully Utilize Google Fiber?

JWSmythe Re:more than I can technically achieve over wirele (279 comments)

Don't forget a snake to chase the cables through the walls. Getting the cable from the attic to the right level at the wall is usually the hardest part. Depending on the home construction, it can be almost impossible.

I ran the surround sound speakers for a friend. The TV, receiver, etc, were in a corner of two outside walls. The standard local construction was concrete blocks, a 1x2 or 1x3 strip vertically, some very thin fiberglass and vapor barrier, and finally the drywall for the interior. Outside walls also have a double layer of 2x4 for the header.

Since you're working where the roof meets the wall, you usually barely have room to get a drill in, and definitely can't get close enough to see down the hole.

Inside walls are a lot easier, if you can use them. They don't usually have a header, nor insulation.

It helps to have a friend (but not to be the friend) who has done it before. It takes some pretty serious bribes to get me to even think about doing it. :)

I always suggest wired over wireless. It will always be a better connection.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

JWSmythe Re:Read Slashdot (479 comments)

I'm not worried about it at all. I'm still curious though. Unless he was looking for some specific phrasing, I answered it in complete enough detail to make your own telnet client. :)

about three weeks ago

A Production-Ready Flying Car Is Coming This Month

JWSmythe Re:Vaporware (203 comments)

You can get one, but it will be delayed by years. :)

about three weeks ago

A Production-Ready Flying Car Is Coming This Month

JWSmythe Vaporware (203 comments)

Much like Duke Nukem Forever, I'll believe it when I can buy it.

I noticed they don't have a pricetag anywhere. I suspect this toy will be one of those toys that most normal people can't afford.

about three weeks ago

At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

JWSmythe Re: What's so hard about using the time-honored (242 comments)

You didn't give us a challenge, you didn't give us sufficient information. I'll just pick one at random.

Sarah, Sara, Zara, Seraiah, Sarai.

about a month ago

Security Collapse In the HTTPS Market

JWSmythe Re:So offer a cost effective replacement (185 comments)

I really liked PayPal's solution for limiting risk when paying sites that didn't support PayPal. Their Virtual Debit Card product was great. I could provide whatever information I wanted, restrict the virtual card to exactly the amount of the transaction, and optionally allow it for recurring transactions. They were awesome, especially when purchasing from small companies with very little information about if they were legitimate or not.

PayPal if nice and all, but plenty of people fall for the common traps, like variations on the domain name which are phisher traps.

People here were generally better at avoiding scams, but that doesn't help the > 90% of the population who never check.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

JWSmythe Re:Read Slashdot (479 comments)

The rejections you got may not have been because you didn't know a specific answer to a very technical question.

Something I've come across in the past is something similar. It's not knowing the specific answer. Sometimes it's knowing what specific answer *they* want.

For example, "How can you change the IP on a current RHEL or CentOS box".

There are a bunch of right answers.

  • edit the appropriate /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth* file.
  • system-config-network
  • /usr/sbin/system-config-network
  • use ifconfig directly (not durable through a reboot, but ...)
  • change the static entry on the dhcp server for that network interface
  • modify it in cfengine, and wait for it to update.

... and those could all be wrong. That particular shop may say "We don't trust ifcfg-eth*", "system-config-network mangles the file format", or even "we don't use those files, we use /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1, that the old admin 10 years ago wrote". It could even start with "fill out the production change review forms, and submit them to the change review committee".

Some places insist that you use the full path to scripts, in case someone else put one farther up in your path (like /bin/). Some don't allow sbin to be in the user's path at all. And of course, if you failed to say "use sudo", you're one of those renegade admins who thinks they can run commands as root. Not knowing *their* method, even though you've never worked for them, is enough to fail an interview.

When I've been interviewing people, I don't work from a hard set of answers. If the interviewee comes close enough, they got it right. If they gave the "system-config-network" answer, I'd just ask "Do you know what files that modifies related to IPs?"

I've interviewed with Google a few times. One of the questions they asked was "How does telnet work?" I answered, and the interviewer asked me the question again. I gave the brief description, the detailed description, all the way down to the opening of sockets and how TCP works. Finally I just had to tell him, "I'm not sure what you're looking for in the answer. Can you please clarify the question?" He didn't. I don't know if that was a pass, fail, or just a stress question.

about a month ago

Netropolitan Is a Facebook For the Affluent, and It's Only $9000 To Join

JWSmythe Re:"Affluent and accomplished" is not the criterio (178 comments)

There was a lovely country club where I lived for a while. Out of curiosity I stopped by. It was only something like $5k/yr. I could have afforded it, but I didn't see any good reason to get a membership. They had a pool. I had a pool. They had a golf course. I don't play golf. They had tennis courts. I don't play tennis. They had their bar and sitting room. I have booze and a TV at home. They offered free wifi to members. I had Internet service at home. The buildings and grounds looked very nice. That only goes so far. "Ok, I'm sitting in a nice building."

I can't see wasting money just to say I have money to waste.

about a month and a half ago



Internet routing and the Sony PSN DDoS?

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

JWSmythe writes "I know this won't make a real story, but I'm hoping others can give their input. Is your Internet routing horrible right now? I'm seeing slow speeds (>500ms on a cable modem, with our own usage only at about 75Kbps.

I received several complaints from my staff around the country, and they're being routed all over the place. For example, from Massachusetts to Florida, their route is literally:

(their location) -> Boston MA -> Pompano FL -> New York NY -> Ashburn VA -> Atlanta GA -> Seattle WA -> (4 unknown hops) -> (our endpoint in Florida)

Similar spot checks from my location show the same horrible routing, that looks more like a band tour schedule than Internet routing.

Someone mentioned that Sony took yet another online game down due to security breeches. Has the DDoS against them stepped up? If so, I'd like to kindly say to those doing it "STOP IT! You're breaking other stuff!""

Interview: One Man's Fight Against Forum Spam

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  about 4 years ago

JWSmythe writes "Free Internet Press has an interview with "Random Digilante", an anonymous hacker who has been taking over forum spammer's email accounts, and notifying forum operators to delete those accounts.

    It looks like his reasoning is sound, and his methods are safe, where he won't hurt any real users.

    Anyone who's used message boards has noticed, sooner or later spam becomes a serious problem. Without some proactive measures to slow the tide of ads for discount drugs, adult entertainment sites, and even cut rate name brand clothing, will overrun the forum. This person is doing something about it."

Link to Original Source

Live Long & Prosper: This Ain't Star Trek XXX

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JWSmythe (446288) writes "Drafting on the heels of the summer release of Star Trek, Hustler plans to release a trekky themed porn titled, This Ain't Star Trek XXX. With the success of the parody, Who's Nailin' Paylin, it seems adult companies are finally tapping into the idea of using pop culture and plot to sell porn. This is nothing new (See The Office and Scrubs), but as the adult industry is forced to compete with free internet porn, I suspect we'll see a rise in adult films with bigger budgets, plots, and high production value.

I have to say I'm kind of excited to see pornography become a bit more professional. These parodies give regular people an excuse to buy porn without feeling creepy. Sure there will be plenty of trekkies with hard drives loaded with free smut, but this parody will be the only one they proudly display on their shelves and watch with friends. If you're the type of person who can't understand watching an X-rated film around company, rent the Blockbuster version of Pirates or Caligula and pop it in at a party. Not only do parody porns have the same aphrodisiac effects as alcohol, they also provide for the same amount of laughs.

Evan Stone, possibly the only humorous actor I've ever seen do porn (again see Pirates), cut his porny-tail to play the captain. The cast also includes Tony DeSergio with shaved eyebrows as "Spock," Jada Fire as "Uhura", Jenna Haze, Codi Carmichael, Sasha Grey, Aurora Snow, Anthony Rosano as "Scotty," Cheyne Collins, and Nick Manning as "Khan."

Warning: Needless to say, NSFW.

Read More and more and see the promo video

I knew when Kirk screamed "Kahn!" there must have been more to it."

Googlebot attacks

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JWSmythe (446288) writes "It looks like Google's Googlebot's have been exploited.

    Today I noticed a surge in our server load. I had a look at our access logs, and found tens of thousands of requests like this. This is one from my Apache logs. (lines broken intentionally) — -- [16/Apr/2009:18:16:51 -0400] "GET /mobile.story.php?sid=19365'%20and%201=2%20union%20select%201,
CONCAT(char(112),char(104),char(112),char(98),char(98),char(95) ,char(117),char(115),char(101),char(114),char(115))
%20'1'='1 HTTP/1.1" 200 1342 "-" "Nokia6820/2.0 (4.83)
Profile/MIDP-1.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.0 (compatible;
Mediapartners-Google/2.1; +"

It's a good thing my site is coded well. These sort of things don't get anywhere.

Parts of the request may be spoofed, but the IP is awful hard to spoof. That's a Googlebot IP.

The heaviest offender is an IP in China, with 48k requests. Google owns the rest.

My list of attackers from the last two hours are:


    If anyone has any suggestion who could be masquerading as Google from their own IP's, that would be nice. I've blocked the offensive IP's at our firewall, so they are nothing more than a gnat buzzing at the door."

Densest CPU configuration motherboard?

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

JWSmythe writes "What is the densest CPU configuration motherboard available?

    I know in the Linux kernel, it handles SMP from 2 to 255 CPU's.

    I was talking to a friend, and we were considering what the most CPU's we could stick into a server is. Anyone can buy older CPU's at budget pricing. From what I understand, most of the older Opteron's were limited by design to 1, 2, 4, or 8 CPUs in one machine. I don't know the limit on P4's, nor the newer Opteron's.

    Where could I find a motherboard a huge density of CPU's?

    Wouldn't a 128 CPU 1.5Ghz machine be just a little faster than a dual core 4Ghz, assuming multi-threaded processes?

    Besides the cool factor of having 128 CPU's running at once, this could make one hell of a server or virtualization environment."

Termination of bad Internet and phone service?

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  about 7 years ago

JWSmythe (446288) writes "I'm sure many of you have found yourselves in the same situation that I am in. You start at a new company, and every problem is thrust upon you with the upmost urgency. Many times, we find ourselves on a new network with substandard connectivity.

    I recently started with a company who's connectivity was slow. At first it was a "we'll fix it later" problem. A few days later, the connection went down. Not only was the data line down, but so was the voice. 2 hours later, it was resolved.

    Two weeks later, the provider had a significant outage of between 12 to 14 hours (depending on who you ask). I was then informed that this wasn't the first time this happened. This was the 4th major event in 2 months. "minor" events have included bad latency and packet loss, and phone numbers that simply don't ring to the office. It was already established policy for staff to call the office phones on their cell phones every hour or so, just to make sure all the numbers would ring.

    We were gentle with our phone call and letter, simply reminding them that it is unacceptable for us to have long periods of downtime during our business day. We didn't ask for reimbursement, just termination of the services. Their response was that we could cancel our contract for payment of one full year of service."

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  about 8 years ago

JWSmythe (446288) writes "Ok, here's a question for all you nuts. :)

    I want to generate a high voltage DC pulse, and be able to control it from a computer (Windows or Linux, it doesn't matter).

    Ideally, I want to control an ignition coil from a car, to make a nice high voltage pulse. I'm playing with the idea of supplementing the fuel intake for a car with hydrogen gas. I know putting a DC current through water makes it (electrolysis), and I've played with straight voltages from 1vdc to 110vdc.

    There's lots of theory floating around the net, and a few folks who have some wild ideas that generally cannot be reproduced. I want to try out some of them from the comfort of a script. :)

    Several people talk about putting say 2vdc pulsed at some magic frequency, which will make the water fall apart, rather than the electrical current breaking the bonds of the atoms.

    I'd kinda like to give that a shot, but either they show in their diagrams some mysterious box that generates the current, or some virtually unreproducable electronics that I have to solder together. I'm not a great electronics person. I have a pretty diagram that uses a 555 timer chip to do it, but when I put it together as drawn it didn't do anything. I fiddled with it a little bit and made it pass some sort of dc current out, but in a matter of seconds, the 555 chip started to smoke.

    My current load is a bit high, so it tends to be hard on more delicate parts. :(

    I'd like to drive the ignition coil from a car, but be able to vary the frequency at will, and be able to have a script (or something) adjust it for me, so I can sit back and observe the results. Like I said, I'm not the best electronics person, but I can put together something basic, if I have a schematic of something that will work.

    Working the car ignition coil seems fairly easy, if I can control it from the PC. Transformers work on AC current, but aparently if I pulse a DC current at it, when the current drops, it makes the voltage come out the other side. Don't ask me why, I'm no expert. :)

    Anyways, anyone with interfacing a PC to a real world device, and working with high voltages and/or current loads, if you'd reply or email me, I'd appreciate it."



3d galactic map with time calculations?

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Ok, here's an odd request. Maybe someone out there has an answer for me.

I know we've been making huge advances in mapping distant celestial bodies, their speed either across our field of view or relative direction (to or from us) with red/blue shift, etc. I was curious to if there has been any publicly available project which creates a 3 dimensional representation of that data, and allows for adjustment of time.

The way I understand it, in theory with enough data, the known universe could be collapsed (virtually) to the time of the big bang.

I've had an idea for a (fictional) story, which I'd like to be able to back up with at least something resembling factual information. For example, the Earth takes roughly 250 million years to make an orbit all the way around our galaxy (one "Galactic year"). If you were looking at Galaxy X and Galaxy Y, and for particular intervals. Imagine a line drawn from a fixed point in each Galaxy. Would it be possible to determine if the Earth (or at least a close part of our galaxy) would intersect that line, or look back to when that did happen? ... and save the supercomputer comments for some other time. :)


Slashdot comment thread life expectancy

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I've noticed a trend lately (like in the last couple years). Comment thread lifespans are becoming shorter and shorter. I'm usually good about going back to my messages, and keeping up conversations in the thread. It seems not everyone else is.

    If anyone who programs here reads this, do your own research against the database, and see what mean life expectancy of comment threads is. I almost guarantee if you run it against all stories from the beginning, you'll see it's tapering off.
    What I have observed with my comments, even the occasional first post, is that the thread will die off at about 2 to 3 days, regardless of how interesting the conversation is getting. It seems people just aren't interested in going to older stories, which isn't surprising since it's a pain to get to older stories. Look for a story from two weeks ago. Type in some keywords in the search? No way.. Pointy-clicky through the More buttons, good luck there.

    Still, it's easy enough for people to keep up with running conversations. Well, I assume so. When we were forced into the new theme, I had to be sure my messages box was at the top left. Maybe I'm one of the few who actually set up for that, or most people are set for no notifications. Either way, it's becoming disappointing where conversations don't run their course. I don't think it's me... I have week and month long conversation threads going with friends and colleagues, even if every 3rd message (for colleagues at least) is "you are dumb, now send what we asked for". :) No offense to any colleagues or ex-colleagues who may read this. I'll assure you to your face that I'm not talking about you, but sure as hell when you aren't looking, I'm going to point at you and say "it was him".

So back to the topic... I wish more of you would keep up your ends of the conversation. It's hard talking about interesting subjects, and when I've written a well thought out reply, it's just exceeded the MTTL (mean time to live) for a thread, and it's abandon. Well, except for the random troll who goes back through old threads and writes TL;DR, but he barely counts as anything. :)

    Maybe Slashdot can gear up something more conducive to actual conversations, rather than a few hundred drive-by comments that are dead end conversations. I really miss the intellectual (or quasi-intellectual, sometimes) conversations, now replaced by a short thread lifespan and high churn of stories.


Thinks I learned today. Browser URL length limitations

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

For a long time, I've followed what I've read regarding URL lengths. 255 characters is it. Never let it get longer than that.

    By the RFC's, 255 characters is the guideline, to maintain backward compatibility with old browsers, old proxy servers, and other miscellaneous hardware that may be in the way.

    I went looking for more information, but found conflicting or outdated information. Who cares what the limits on Netscape 4 or MSIE 5 were.

    In my own personal MythBusters kind of way, I wanted to see what the limitations really are.

    What fun would it be without coding something up to handle it. :) I would share the code, but it seems Slashdot doesn't like that much. Basically, it would generate a URL, something like , and use a javascript redirect to send it back to itself. On receiving it, it would read the number of characters of the full URL, then add an increment to the pad. It printed the length of the request, and the full URL in the browser, so I could see where it was at. I introduced a 1 second pause so I could read the output.

    Initially my increment was 1, but that takes an awful long time, even with keepalives cranked up. I worked my way up to 500 per exchange, so the test would move along quickly. Watching the server stats, the keepalives were doing their job perfectly. The same connections were reused until their life expectancy ran out.

    I couldn't just give a redirect header. Browsers tend to not like that. My initial test with Firefox showed the problem. The default for network.http.redirection-limit is 20. Even turning that up to 999999 would stop pretty quickly (at about 500, if I remember right)

    My test client machine is a Windows 7 Ultimate machine with a Phenom II x4 955 and 8GB RAM. My test browsers are MSIE 8.0, Chrome 9.0, Firefox 3.6.13, and Safari 5.0.3. During the tests, I did not run into problems with CPU or memory utilization.

    My test server is a Slackware Linux 13.1.0 machine with two dual core Xeon 2.8Ghz CPUs and 4GB RAM. It is using Apache 2.2.17 and PHP 5.3.5. Other than custom configuration options, it's a fairly plain version of Apache and PHP. No patches. The OS is pretty clean. All non-essential ports and tasks are disabled. During the test, I did not run into any CPU or memory utilization problems.

    On the first run I observed:

        MSIE 8.0 4095
        Chrome 9.0 8190
        Firefox 3.6.13 8190
        Opera 11.01 8190
        Safari 5.0.3 8190

    I looked around a little. Apache lets you lower the length of the URL in the config file, but not increase it. The default is 8190, exactly as tested. Time to go patch Apache!

In httpd.h
/** default limit on bytes in Request-Line (Method+URI+HTTP-version) */
#endif /** default limit on bytes in any one header field */
#endif /** default limit on number of request header fields */

    8190 was obviously set by people with no ambition. 16.7 million? That's a real URL! :) And before anyone says it, no, I wouldn't normally make the URL longer than I'm willing to type. Just like the MythBuster folks wouldn't normally put a dead pig in a car to see if it stinks. It's all in the name of science I tell you! :)

    So limits upped to 2^24, recompile complete, and we're ready to test again. While watching the compile, I had to ask myself, "does PHP have a limit too?". I guess not. Here's the results.

        MSIE 8.0 4095
        Chrome 9.0 122560
        Firefox 3.6.13 111060
        Opera 11.01 132560
        Safari 5.0.3 131060

    1) I aborted the tests after I got bored.

    2) Chrome stopped displaying the full URL at about 32,000 characters. It truncated it at the ?, but did process correctly. If you have a 32,000 character URL, expect people to not be able to copy it from Chrome very easily. :)

    3) I started all the tests very close to the same time, and aborted them all very close to the same time. I don't normally use anything but Firefox, so I have several utility toolbars (webmastering, packet examination, and SEO analysis) that are installed. The others are clean.

    4) You can't use this as a benchmark saying any browser is faster than another, because I was limited by upload bandwidth at home.

    During the test, I was watching my uplink bandwidth graph. I'm on a residential line. It was clear where the upload bandwidth is cut off at (about 700Kbps). Due to the nature of this test, Every request was sent to the server, and returned to the browser, so like it or not I needed to use the same bandwidth each way. If I have a moment of sheer boredom at work or a datacenter sometime, I may repeat this test on a LAN. It's doubtful though.

    So in conclusion....

    1) All the modern browsers tested, except MSIE are effectively unlimited to the size of the URL they can handle.

    2) MSIE is still limited to a URL length of 4095 characters. I don't see a workaround for this.

    3) Apache is limited by default to 8190 characters, but this can be corrected with a patch.

    4) Regardless of what these components proved they could do, you can still encounter problems with firewalls, content filters, proxy servers, etc. Don't expect to be able to use over 255 characters.


2012 Presidential Bid

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I thought this was worthy for cross posting to my journal.

    For the 2012 election, the answer is easy.

        Write in JWSmythe!

        I promise restoration of the rights of all people, as protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

        I promise transparency in our government, and open public audit of all government projects.

        I promise revocation of the Income Tax (25% of your income for most citizens), to be replaced by a 2% sales tax. This effectively gives a 23% raise to all working citizens.

        I promise increase in tariffs on foreign goods to be no less than 2% of the retail value, to encourage growth in the industrial sectors of America.

        I promise immediate closure of all tax "loop holes" to ensure all "big money" corporations pay in their fair share.

        I promise yearly "dividend" payments to the citizens of the United States on any excess tax paid by the citizens and profit from foreign tariffs.

        I promise health care in the form of open access doctors and hospitals to be no less than 25% of the total medical service field (at least 25% of doctors will be free for the citizens). You may still purchase insurance, and doctors may still provide special expert service, but for those who can't afford it, free services are available, and more positions will be available for both new and skilled doctors.

        I promise open borders, reducing the lengthy and confusing immigration/emigration procedures. Diverse and contridactory policies exist now, including Canadians who are welcome across the friendly open borders, but Mexicans who are frequently detained, arrested, or left to die in military style borders and checkpoints. This will reduce operational costs for enforcement agencies by billions yearly.

        I promise retiring the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, returning their duties to the appropriate intelligence agencies. This removes over $55 billion in yearly government expenses that are simply not necessary.

        And oddly enough, I'm dead serious. I'm not a billionaire, so I cannot afford the campaign. The estimated cost for the 2008 Presidential election was $1.6 billion per candidate. Neither established party back me. I would hurt their corporate interests.

        And yes, I am an American born citizen. I have traveled to the majority of US states, and both bordering nations. I don't know everything, but I know people who I can trust who are experts in their fields. No individual can run the country properly, but a good team will return the United States to it's prior reputation of the nation all others want to emulate, rather than the most powerful and embarrassing nation in the world.


How not to transfer an OS

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I got a fun pre-xmas present, a new Phenom II X4 955. It's a 3.4Ghz CPU that runs very happily at 4Ghz. The previous occupant in that socket was an Athlon II X4 2.8Ghz, that ran happily for a year at 3Ghz.

    I spent an hour fiddling with overclock settings, and settled at 4.2Ghz (more or less). While sitting with just the browser open, Asus Probe (temp, fan, and voltage monitor) started screaming that the core voltage was above threshold. At about 6pm, there was a thunk, and everything went dark. I'm not sure if it was the power supply or motherboard died. I had ongoing problems with the motherboard since I got it, where bios settings would mysteriously change themselves after weeks of working normally. The power supply wasn't anything spectacular, but it seemed to work. I headed down to CompUSA, and picked up a new power supply, motherboard, and I decided that the drives weren't fast enough, so I picked up a pair of 1.5Tb SATA drives to run as a RAID0. Mmm. More speed.. :)

    I got home at about 8pm. I dismantled the whole thing, and had it reassembled in about 10 minutes. Now I have two blank drives in position (ports 1 & 2), the old drive (port 4), and the DVD player (port 6). I poke around in the BIOS a bit, getting everything set right, and setting the drives as a RAID0. I boot up to a trusty Linux CD to start the transfer. Blah, the RAID controller is really a software raid. I see both disks. There are fixes, I'm just not that far yet. I decide to just copy everything to the first SATA drive, and I'll RAID other parts later. My girlfriend would like to watch a movie with me, as I set up all my theater equipment in our new "theater room" (DLP projector, 8' wide screen, 7 speakers all properly placed and tuned +- 1dB). All I have to do is get the transfer started, and go watch the movie.

    dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdc bs=1024k

    Seems simple enough, right? I switch to another console, and kill -USR1 $pid , to see where it's at. 2GB transfered. Great. The partition table should already be written. fdisk -l /dev/sda shows nothing. hmmm. fdisk -l /dev/sdc shows nothing.

    Aw fuck.

    It dawns on me, I'm not cloning the old drive to the new ones, I'm cloning the empty drive over my data! ABORT ABORT ABORT!

    Well, the partition table is gone, and presumably the beginning of the drive is overwritten, so none of that will be recovered. I think I have enough crap on there to fluff it a bit. My first and second partitions were Linux, which is easily replaced. The third and fourth partition hold Windows 7 and all my current work. The fifth partition holds all my virtual machines, which are my testbed for all kinds of fun things. Employment essential aren't a big deal, they're replicated at work, and on backups there. It's things like the 5,000 pictures that I took over the years, that I reacquired from various sources, which are now almost organized to store and back up, but I haven't finished. And a few videos including a 1hr 15min video of a live band that I'm including 400 stills into to make a good video of their performance.

    With tools on the TRK, I've been able to see the partitions to recover, but since I'm not totally familiar with the particular tool, it's been a slow process. Reading across a 1Tb drive, it takes hours. Even still, I'm not totally sure I could convince Windows to clone to the array, rather than using just one drive.

    So now, I'm starting off with a fresh Windows install. The Windows installer sees the array. I'm using 1Tb for Windows (2 1.5Tb drives RAID0 = 3Tb). Once I have a working machine again, and can play WOW with my girlfriend (she likes playing it), I'll be happier, and then can repair the messed up drive overnight on a few nights.

    The only real problems I had on the old machine were that it couldn't play Stargate: Revolution (crashes after a few minutes), and I wasn't totally satisfied with the drive speed. According to the "Windows Experience Index", my scores were:

Processor 7.3
Memory (RAM) 7.3
Graphics 6.6
Gaming graphics 6.6
Primary hard disk 5.9

(current "max" score is 7.9)

    When I've looked at machines in the stores, this is way above any retail box. I just wanted to get the drive speed in line with the other parts. Dammit. So it'll take a few days to get it up and working properly. Until then, I'll be limping along on the laptop. :) No video editing on the laptop though, it just isn't fast enough, even though it's only a few months old.

Processor 3.2
Memory 4.9
Graphics 3.0
Gaming graphics 4.5
Primary hard disk 5.4


Wasted humor

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I hate it when I put work into humor and no one notices, so maybe some folks will notice it here. :)

    There was a story a few days ago titled Giant Planet Nine Times the Mass of Jupiter Found

    Thread, segue, tangent, and a reference to Space Panda's, I doctored up
    this photo.

    Who can't love a cute cuddly planet eating space panda?

    Too bad we can't embed images into the comments, it would have been funnier faster.

    So, enjoy. :)


My stupid purchase of the month

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Sometimes, when I have a couple extra pennies, I buy something that just feels good to get, that is completely worthless. I'm no shopaholic, so these are usually simple things.

    I was at CompUSA and found that they had glowing keyboard stickers. Like, stickers to put over each letter, that will glow in the dark.

    I should explain, I've been touch typing for over 20 years, and can usually get 100wpm with 0 errors on most typing tests. I only slow down by thinking. People have watched me programming, typing emails or journal entries like this. A few have commented on it. I'll blaze through lines as fast as they can read, but I'll pause at spoken pauses (ummm, like commas), and when I'm thinking of what to say next.

    At home, I'm usually typing in the dark, with just the light of my monitor, and possibly a TV.

    So I got the yellow stickers (thanks everyone for asking). My shells are green or yellow text on a black background. It's enough to drive most people nuts, if they try to keep up with all my terminals. It's not usually hard. One running top. one tailing the log of most interest. one editing code, and executing it. I may have one with a man page up, and another logged into another machine to reference old code. Add one for a web browser for my email, and another for looking up something specific. So the browsers aren't green on black (except my themed gmail account is pretty close).

    I got glow in the dark bling for my keyboard. :) Ok, I'm easily entertained.


I love Amazon [tag: sarcasm]

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I love Amazon.

    I was helping my aunt put her bookstore online. She has a used paperback store with tens of thousands of books in stock. She's been doing it for over 25 years, and the technology hasn't changed since Day 1. Literally, she's still using the same old cash register as the day she started.

    A few years ago, I suggested putting it online, and/or selling some of her overstock through eBay. I'd say Amazon, but they rape vendors on the fees. To demonstrate what I was trying to explain, I put together a warm friendly front end that would pull the book details from Amazon. It was the best source I could find for any arbitrary ISBN.

    Well, 3+ years later, she gave me the go ahead to start clearing out the back room. Great, I can start doing the inventory, and listing items. Great went to not so great. I picked up a cheap barcode scanner, and scanned the first book. I got an error back from Amazon. My API key was still valid, but they now require the requests to be signed. Digging around a little, this happened in August of 2009. I do receive emails from them, but I never saw anything regarding this. Apparently they gave their developer network 3 months to implement the signing.

    Their signing isn't quite as easy as it seems it should be. Their documentation is now focused on their cloud computing platform. The rest is sparse at best. Most of the references I found talked about how to do it before the signing, which I already mastered. I finally found someone who had posted a function that would sign the request. That took a few hours and a lot of Google searches to accomplish. What a way to support legacy apps. I found plenty of references where other folks had modules written for their software that broke on the day of the changeover. If this had been a production application, it would have been a real headache. Come on, don't change the functionality of the API without clear explanation of how to fix it.

    Now it's up and back running. I'm adding the rest of the required functionality. I could have spent the weekend adding functionality, rather than chasing down a solution to fix what they broke.


Things I learned driving at 2am

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

This is non-tech, but I thought I'd share. :)

    I learned something at 2am the other morning. Driving at night, in an unfamiliar area, isn't always the best idea. I took a guy to his place from a bar, because he was absolutely hammered. File that under "no good deed goes unpunished".

    After leaving his place, I was heading home. I bumped over something at about 20mph. It wasn't much of a bump, but I immediately heard my tires go flat. Like, a dramatic wooshing sound from both tires on one side. I stopped and looked. Sure enough, both tires were flat, but I didn't see any damage to the rims. I assumed it just damaged the tires. Maybe it was some broken glass or something in the road. I was 10 miles from home, but it was cold out, and I wasn't going to wait for a tow truck. I could drive the car, but only at 10 miles per hour. Talk about a less than entertaining drive.

    I ordered tires the next morning, and they arrived today. I pulled the two flat wheels off, so I could get the new tires mounted. As soon as I did, I saw the bad news. The inside lip of the rim was seriously bent. Like, so much that I could put my finger between the rim and the tire. No wonder they went woosh dramatically.

    I went to a few shops to see if I could get the rims fixed or replaced. I already know it's virtually impossible to find OEM replacement wheels for my car. They were exclusive to my car, and only on 3 years, on a very specific submodel, in that style. I was in a little accident in February, and the other drivers insurance company had to cough up $1000/ea for the wheels from the only place they could find them. It took weeks to get them in.

    In talking to them about the damage, they said it was clear that I hit a pothole. If it had been a loose object in the road, both wheels would not have been bent exactly the same way. If it had been a curb, the outside lip of the wheel would have been damaged. So, dumb luck on a dark road in the middle of the night.

    So, that's my rant. I am carless until after the 1st, since no one locally stocks anything that could fit, and no one is doing shipments over the holiday. {sigh}


Windows 7 Ultimate

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Anyone that knows me knows, I'm a died in the wool Linux fan. I use Windows as a tool to accomplish a task. That is, if I *need* to run a Windows application, that I can't do any other way, I use Windows.

      Someone was nice enough to donate a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate to me to try out. I had been using XP Professional for my Windows work. I tried, and didn't like Vista. I've retried it several times over, and have been annoyed with it when it does stupid things. I tried a few beta's, and worked with it in normal releases on others computers.

      I had low expectations for Windows 7. I expected a freshly skinned Vista.

      The hardware I'm working on is a AMD AM3 Athlon II x4 620 (2.6Ghz) overclocked to 3Ghz. Asus motherboard, with integrated ATI Radeon HD 3300, and 2Gb of DDR3 RAM. 512Mb is shared to the video card, which I will be fixing sometime soon. This Asus board was the only one that took DDR3 that CompUSA had in stock at the local store. I figured it's easier to stay with this video card for now, and upgrade it later. I also plan the same for the CPU. I'll be purchasing an actual Phenom II x4, as the pricing comes down. I did a little reading, and this CPU overclocked does as well or better than it's Phenom II x4 sister. Hey, can't argue with that, especially with the lowest price tag in the store.

      I have Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit in it's own partition. I can say, "well, it's not too bad." It's doesn't seem as resource hungry as Vista.

    The only things I've noticed are that there are no Vista nor 64-bit drivers for my old Linksys WUSB11. The fault there is with Linksys not making new drivers for their legacy hardware, not Microsoft It does manage my Belkin USB device well though. Well, it handles it better than XP did. I had intermittent service with it, and attributed that to the device. It works well with the 64-bit Vista drivers. The drivers don't just install themselves, like they're suppose to, so it takes a little loving to make it work. Not a big deal though, everything else went in fluidly.

    I've noticed that Win7 automatically schedules a defrag for 1am weekly. Nice touch. I changed the schedule to daily, and the time to later, when I'm less likely to be using the machine.

    Would I avoid a 64 bit version of Linux for Win7 64-bit? No.

    I noticed something funny. They keep two separate trees for x86(32) and x86(64) program files. Under Linux, with the proper libraries installed, this is unnecessary. I don't know the purpose of this. Maybe it's for organization. Maybe it's because it pays attention to the path. Maybe it just likes it that way. Either way, it seems odd.

    On a 64bit Linux (Slamd64 and now Slackware 64), I've always had almost everything compiled for 64 bit. The only glaring exception was Firefox, because there was no 64bit flash plugin. Since that was resolved months ago, I've used 64bit everything. I have run 32 bit applications, because I was testing something from a 32 bit machine. No big deal there, it just worked.

    For folks that like Windows (like most average home users), I won't scare them away from Win7 as an upgrade path. I warned people off of Vista, because I always ran into problems. It seems like they've done something mostly right this time. :) I still reserve the right to decide that it sucks, if I start running into serious problems. For now though, the install went smooth, and it's working pretty well.

    I just did another Win7 install on an older Athlon64 machine (3000+, 1Gb RAM), and performance wise it seems slightly better than XP.

    As a note, these measurements are "seat of the pants" measurements. They were not quantified with any benchmarks. Really, end users care about how good it feels, even if the benchmarks prove otherwise.


Things I Discovered Since Unemployment...

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Here's a few insights that I've acquired since unemployment. I've been unemployed for about 3 months now, and technically homeless.

    1) Laundry is much easier to do, when all you wear is shorts and sandals. Here in Florida, it's hot, so wearing a shirt is an unnecessary evil, and just gets sweaty anyways. (and yes, I'm in shape enough to do it)

    2) Pants and socks feel funny. I actually dressed up one day and realized that all the extra clothes felt restricting. Well, and hot. I was much happier stripping down and putting just shorts back on. I'm not a nudist, I'm just practical. When it's 95 degrees out, anything you might be wearing is too much. I strongly encourage attractive women to do it too. :)

    3) People with jobs can't come out to play as often. I am job hunting, but since 20% of the population is doing the same thing, I'm not getting any positive feedback. When I want to hang out with someone who is working, I have to wait for them to get off work, and we have to stop drinking early on Sunday night. That slows down my drunken weekends, when they have to get to bed "to go to work."

    4) It can get really boring with nothing better to do. Some of you may have noticed an increase in my posting on here. Hey, I have time on my hands, in between sending off resumes, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

    5) The headhunters are desperate too. Like I said, I'm in Florida. No, I don't want my resume sent off with 100 others, for a 3 month minimum wage job as an entry level programmer in a language I don't know, that would require me moving 1,000 miles. They don't quite understand why either. I don't exactly have the budget to move anywhere. After taxes, I'll be lucky to come home with $1k/mo, and that's not going to cover rent, power, water, food, and gas. I'd also have to break my lease at the end of 3 months, which won't go over that well either.

    6) Picking up odd jobs can be fun. This month, I've:

  Worked on a dozen cars.
  Done plumbing work in a half dozen places,
  Cleaned countless computers of viruses, malware, and stupid things that slow the machine down (how many toolbars do you really need for your browsers?).
  Several days of "personal security" which consists of me owning a gun, which sat in the house, and me being there "just in case" something happened. At least they were good for conversations, or else I would have been bored out of my mind.

    In doing the odd jobs, I've found they're asking me to do them, because they can't afford a "professional" to do them. Either way, when I'm done, it's still done right. I've taken "payment" in food, cigarettes, gas, and places to sleep. I did get someone to buy me a GPS, so I won't get quite so lost in strange cities. It's neat. I no longer have to call and say "I'm at this intersection" just to find out I'm in the wrong city. :)

    All in all, I'd like to have a job again, and my own place to live. Since I haven't slept in the same place for more than about 3 days in a row, I'm getting to see a lot of places that I otherwise wouldn't have had time to. I have helped a lot of people out, and saved them a fortune. I usually tell them what the job would have cost by a "professional", and they "pay" me what they can afford, in the method that they can do it in. I've had some nice dinners in the comfort of someone elses home. :)

    It's been interesting. I'm left with $20 in my pocket and couple 2 liters of soda, and a tank full of gas.

    And as a side note, if you have work for me, I can be almost anywhere if you're paying gas, food, and a place to sleep. :) This is a long stretch from my old 6 figure job, but I am anything but stressed out these days. I have people lined up for the short term of doing things, so I won't go hungry anytime soon.


Adventures with a TC1000

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

As any of you who read my journal know, I was laid off a couple months ago. Nope, no luck on the job front, and no unemployment to carry me through.

    I've been picking up the odd jobs here and there, but they rarely pay for much more than cigarettes and gas. Otherwise, I've been living by the good graces of friends. If I didn't have my friends, I would have starved to death over a month ago. Thanks to all of you.

    Now, on with my journal rant. :)

    My laptop died. Well, the power jack on the back died. No power means no laptop. A friend has loaned me his old Compaq TC1000. It's a 1Ghz Transmeta with 768Mb RAM. I put a 100Gb hard drive in that I had laying around.

    I thought it would be a brilliant plan to dual boot it. WinXP on one partition, and Slackware Linux on another. It's working pretty well, but I'd like to share some comparisons.

    Both OS's are completely up to date. In the Windows world, that means it's bloated beyond use. In the Linux world, it's nice and fast.

    With XP, I've removed absolutely everything that I could find that wasn't necessary to save CPU time and memory. I did every tweak I could.

    With Slackware, I haven't tweaked it yet. I did a full install, but only enabled the essential services. I currently have it running Gnome.

    With XP, it was an interesting exercise of copying drivers to a USB drive, and then copying them onto the tablet, so I could install them. After several rounds of that, I got online. It wasn't just the network driver that needed help. There was so much to do, it took me several days to get things working almost properly.

    With Linux, the wired ethernet adapter just worked. The wireless adapter wanted a firmware binary, which I found and dropped into place. I ran into some glitches with the video driver in Xorg, but nothing show stopping. I had Linux running in a matter of about an hour, and a few more hours tweaking Xorg.

    To browse the net, say for viewing here, it was an interesting exercise.

    MSIE on XP is so slow it's unusable. Even when I'm attached to someone's wireless at a good connection, it feels like I'm on a 9600 baud connection.

    Firefox on XP is tolerable for the first few minutes, but then it ends up sucking up too much memory and CPU time. I did several tweaks, but that hasn't helped much.

    Google Chrome on XP is my answer there. It actually behaves moderately well.

    So, now Slackware.

    Even with the limited resources, Firefox on Linux performs just about as I'd expect. It can be a little slow on occasion (as is normal for a Transmeta, from what I've read), but generally it's kicking along just like it should.

    There is no offical Chrome yet, so I haven't tried.

    I was going to try some of the other browser, but haven't bothered yet.

    I'm using this tablet as my GPS also. I had purchased Garmin's MobilePC software a while back. It works in Windows fine, as long as I shut everything else down first. In Linux, it works fine under Xorg, but since it was bundled with it's own GPS receiver, it wants to see that to activate all the functions. I'm still working on that part. I found that it should work, but I haven't made it work yet.

    I'm writing this right now from the tablet, using Firefox under Linux. I had noticed that using Firefox under XP, I could type out lines, and wait for them to display. I could get up to 2 lines ahead, which is very sad. With Firefox under Linux, it's hept right up with me the whole time. That's always nice to see, since I type over 100wpm. :)

    Ok, enough of my random ramblings. If you didn't want them, you wouldn't read my journal. :)


Linux RAID performance benchmarks

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago   I am setting up a new server, which has to be as fast as I can make it.  Quantifiable results are king here. Hopefully this will help others out, but I strongly recommend doing your own testing on your own configuration.

  I wrote a couple scripts.  One formats the array with a specific filesystem.  The second reads and writes.  Basically (in psuedocode)

echo 0 > a
while (i < 31)
cp a b
cat b > a

Here are the results, sorted by speed then RAID level.  My apologies for the layout on here.  I copy&pasted it from an OpenOffice spreadsheet.

fs    raid level    format (sec)    write 1g (sec)
xfs    0    2    20
jfs    0    n/a    20
ext2    0    60    20
ext4dev    0    48    22
ext3    0    62    22
reiser    0    n/a    25
ext4    5    77    32
ext4    0    49    32
ext4    1    61    33
xfs    5    9    48
jfs    5    n/a    50
ext4dev    5    74    50
ext2    5    93    55
reiser    5    n/a    58
ext3    5    94    61
jfs    1    n/a    66
xfs    1    2    68
reiser    1    n/a    69
ext4dev    1    59    70
ext2    1    63    70
ext3    1    68    72

The same list, ordered by filesystem and then raid level.

fs    raid level    format (sec)    write 1g (sec)
ext2    0    60    20
ext2    1    63    70
ext2    5    93    55
ext3    0    62    22
ext3    1    68    72
ext3    5    94    61
ext4    0    49    32
ext4    1    61    33
ext4    5    77    32
ext4dev    0    48    22
ext4dev    1    59    70
ext4dev    5    74    50
jfs    0    n/a    20
jfs    1    n/a    66
jfs    5    n/a    50
reiser    0    n/a    25
reiser    1    n/a    69
reiser    5    n/a    58
xfs    0    2    20
xfs    1    2    68
xfs    5    9    48

The machine for this test is a dual 4 core Opteron 2350 (8 cores total) with 64Gb RAM, 3 integrated nVidia MCP55 SATA controllers, and 4 500Gb Western Digital WD5001ABYS-0 SATA drives.  The OS is a plain installation of Slamd64 12.2 (Slackware for AMD64).  uname reports:
root @ vsql2 (/proc) uname -a
Linux vsql2 #1 SMP Sun Dec 7 22:31:27 GMT 2008 x86_64 Quad-Core AMD Opteron(tm) Processor 2350 AuthenticAMD GNU/Linux

I have not customized the kernel at all, which may lead to performance increases beyond this.  This wasn't a performance test, it was a filesystem and raid comparison.  For example, better SATA drivers should improve the performance, but that should directly scale.

The RAID configuration is as follows.  Each partition is a 100Gb partition, so they're each working with the same size space.

root @ vsql2 (/proc) cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [linear] [raid0] [raid1] [raid10] [raid6] [raid5] [raid4] [multipath]
md1 : active raid1 sdd2[2] sdc2[1] sdb2[0]
      104864192 blocks [3/3] [UUU]

md2 : active raid5 sdd3[2] sdc3[1] sdb3[0]
      209728384 blocks level 5, 64k chunk, algorithm 2 [3/3] [UUU]

md0 : active raid0 sdd1[2] sdc1[1] sdb1[0]
      314592576 blocks 64k chunks

unused devices: <none>


Gas combustion expansion rates and golfball cannon

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I was entertained looking at "spud guns". That is, guns that shoot potatoes. My thoughts went from potatoes to more interesting, and regular sized objects.

    I found a site talking about piercing a solid wood door (by mistake) with a tennis ball. Oops. :) I was thinking more life golf balls.

    One site I found claimed that with propane and atmospheric air, they achieved double the speed of sound (680 m/s or 1522 mph). That sounded unrealistic.

    So I was wondering, what are the combustion expansion rates of various available gasses. I figured with the intelligent people on here, someone may know.

    Propane and atmospheric air doesn't seem ideal. Most of the information I read pointed out a problem. After a single shot, the had to vent the combustion chamber, or it wouldn't fire again (not enough oxygen).

    So, here's my theoretical ideas.

    Propane/Oxygen, like from a small torch set available at any hardware store.

    MAPP gas/Oxygen

    Hydrogen/Oxygen, electrolyzed from water.

    Atomized gasoline and atmospheric air.

    Atomized aviation fuel (110LL) and NOS. :) Ok, I'm going a little overboard, and would probably blow the combustion chamber.

    Any are easily accessible, and could have good results, without the need to vent the chamber after each shot.

    I guess the other obvious question would be about the volume of expansion of the gas before combustion is complete. I saw some pictures of people using hair spray with an 8' barrel. I can't imagine the combustion created enough expansion to utilize that space, so it would actually slow it down towards the end of the barrel. I know properly sized firearms use the right size barrel, so the combustion is just almost finished by the time the bullet leaves the end of the barrel. Too much flash means there was still fuel to burn. No flash means the barrel was too long.

    This is all theoretical. I live in a lovely deed restricted residential community. I know any will go "BOOM" really nicely, so the neighbors may just complain a little. I'm just bothered that I couldn't find the combustion expansion properties of the gases.

    But someday, it may be fun to make one. :) I liked model rocketry and miniature blackpowder cannons as a kid, so this is just an extension of that. How can I make something go fast. :)


My last two weeks of annoying calls.

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I took advantage of the fact that my VoIP provider makes the call log available, so I made a report of all the calls that are coming in. All of these had hits on .

    Of the 545 calls I got, 153 didn't provide any caller information (no number or caller id string). The 151 I list below are listed as telemarketers or bill collectors, even though when I do answer, I usually don't get anyone, or they're asking for someone other than me. I am on the DNC registry, but that doesn't help.

    So, 304 (55.7%) of the calls that are blatantly abusive and against FTC rules.

+++ Inst: 35 Num: 8663850277
+++ Inst: 30 Num: 6153152669
+++ Inst: 24 Num: 8668496441
+++ Inst: 16 Num: 8007523916
+++ Inst: 15 Num: 8016182068
+++ Inst: 10 Num: 8778859695
+++ Inst: 9 Num: 8774805110
+++ Inst: 5 Num: 8882031294
+++ Inst: 5 Num: 8132737802
+++ Inst: 3 Num: 8009558094
+++ Inst: 3 Num: 8002793480
+++ Inst: 2 Num: 8668972756
+++ Inst: 2 Num: 8012901042
+++ Inst: 1 Num: 8662097845
+++ Inst: 1 Num: 8007412183

    I've tried all kinds of tactics with them. I ask who they're calling from. They're usually amazingly vague. I ask for their name (first name is fine), and they'll refuse. I ask for their company address, and they refuse. I'll even ask the simple "in what is this in regards to", and they'll refuse. These are all questions the FTC wants answers to, to be able to file a complaint.

      I'm to the point where I won't admit nor deny my identity. They ask "Are you JW Smythe", and I won't say yes. I simply keep asking for who they are, and what it is in regards to. Usually that makes them hang up. But, when they calls come in from 6am until 11pm, I'm really stuck.

    At one point, I was really really rude. As soon as I recognized that it wasn't for me, I'd go off on a little pre-scripted (in my head) speech, that they are not authorized to call this phone number, and they are hereby notified that they are forbidden from ever calling me again. That doesn't help.

    I could hire a lawyer, if I could afford one. The research time itself would cost more than I'd ever want.

    I know the economy sucks, and companies are trying to recover every penny they can, but really, if it's not me, why keep calling me? And yes, I know the warranty ran out on my car. I bought it used, so I believe I had a 1 year warranty (it was years ago). Even if I had bought it new, it was out of factory warranty 3 years or 30,000 miles ago.

    I'm to the point of, if the number isn't stored in my phone (my VoIP forwards to my cell phone), I don't answer. Every day I have to clear out my voicemails because of them. I hope I haven't lost any work calls because of it, but really there isn't much I can do. I can't change my number, too many people have it, and last time I did that, I had people finally tracking me down after a year or two, who had work for me.

    People look at me like I'm nuts, because I'll glance down at the phone, hit the hangup button, and then put it back down. Sometimes I don't even look, because there's a better than 50% chance it's not a person who wants to talk to me.

    For a while, if I recognized the number as abusive, I would put the phone in the server room, so all they'd hear was static (fan noise), but that didn't slow them down at all.

    Ok, enough of my rant. I hope these numbers help others out too. Block them. Ignore them. Just don't answer them.


Verification of closed college/university degree?

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Here's a question that was posed to me, so I pose it to everyone else. :)

    A friend of mine was going to a small college. She recently received her degree, so all is fine and dandy. Well, the school also went out of business since she got her degree.

    From what I've understood from others, when a school has changed names or ownership, they still keep the records, and you can call the campus during normal working hours to confirm credentials. What if the school simply goes out of business?

    When she applies for a new job, with her well earned degree, how can a future employer confirm that degree, or is it now only worth the paper it's printed on?


Encrypted message

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I'm very disappointed that no one has cracked my encrypted tagline.

    For a while now, my tagline has been:

Encrypted Message Follows: dm2vjzMEuDLZep+TCPVPZ6dmqvdiD9p4nAJPnpgdbPlMlyLlFWR0yt8oOI1GU3/m

    That should be the beginning to a fun game. No one (or not enough someone's) saw it as a challenge, or maybe it just looked like garbage and was baiting a site. A few people asked, but no one sent me the encrypted string. {sigh} I thought I made it easy enough.

    Well, if you took the encrypted message, and went to, you could use the demo. Strip off the "Encrypted Message Follows: " part, and paste the message into the demo box. You can even leave the trailing URL on it. Since it isn't part of the valid encrypted data, it's ignored. :)

    Click the "Decrypt" button (since, like, that's what you're trying to do).

    Now, you have to figure out what algorithms and keys I used. Since I wanted it to be cracked, I only used one. I figured make it easy. I allow the use of 22 alogrithms up to 15 times with different keys.

    If I wanted someone to brute force something, but I still wanted to make it "strong enough", what would I do? Well, AES-256 is strong. That's also known as rijndael-256. What would I set the key to be. Well, a simple brute force would be a dictionary attack, but they would use some of the most common passwords first (hopefully). How about "password"

    So, Algorithm "rijndael-256" and Key "password" return:

"some things are better left unread"

    Which is oddly enough the same plaintext message as the RC5-64 challenge that was broken in 2002. :) Ya, I picked it on purpose.

    So, with that said, I've changed my tagline. Lets see who can break it this time. :)

    The new message is:




JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

So I set my computer off on a quest. The quest was, calculate pi. I found a chunk of PHP code that would do it.


    I'm not sure the code is optimal. I'm also not sure I want to have it keep doing circles. :) Primes sounds like fun.


Finding repeated phrases in MySQL text fields

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Being that Slashdot is the biggest audience of computer geeks that I know, this should be the right place to ask a question that stumps me. :)

    Some of you know that I am the owner/publisher/programmer of I was playing with the "tag cloud" idea, but it doesn't quite satisfy what I want.

    I wrote a script that looks at the 100 most recent news stories, pulls all of the words from the text and subject, splits it on spaces (and other delimiting characters), and gives me a nice list of words by frequency on the page. The rough equivalent from the command line would be:

cat story.txt | sed -e s/\ /\\\n/g | sort | uniq -c | sort -r -n -k 1 | head -20

    It then shows them in tag cloud format, sized for frequency. Each word is linked to a script that finds the most recent story with that word in it, and send you directly to that.

    Mine is all done with SQL queries and a little array magic in PHP, not shell commands, I swear.

    What I can't quite figure out is, how do I do the same thing for phrases? If John Smith made the news, there may be plenty of people with the first name "John" making the news, so John may show up frequently. Smith may also show up with some sort of frequency (in an obscure world where there are only 4 common last names). But, if John Smith goes on a shooting rampage, it would be reasonable to think that "John Smith kills" would show up in multiple news stories. They may say "John Smith kills 14 in mystery rampage" or "John Smith kills coworkers at super spook spy shack". You never know what will come up, but it would be amazingly advantageous to have that phrase.

    While I can't think that we'll cover every breaking news story, I can think that the hundreds of RSS feeds that we're aggregating would. If this was applied to the RSS feeds, we would then have a beautiful resource. Think Google News automated and unfiltered. Yes, Google News filters their news, and does adjust what is shown based on who it thinks are "good" sources, and some big news simply doesn't show up.

    In thinking about this, I thought about the brute force method. Find every word, go back and find the word before and check that against the database. go back and find the word after and check against the database. Continue this to up to 5 word phrases.

    On just our own 100 most recent stories, there are 19374 words. Of those, there are 6176 unique words. I run this against a "stopwords" table, so common words (like "and" "the" "or" "I" "he" "she", etc). We're using about 1000 stopwords. Even with this, there are 5676 unique words.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?


The magic bouncing moderation

JWSmythe JWSmythe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I love the moderation system here. It's funny to watch. This simple post went from -1 to 5 in a few hours. :) I posted a message to the Chinese web server story, trying to be a first post *AND* be on topic (I missed, only got 2nd post). When I looked from my phone, this post was one of the most informative. Viewing from a cell, it only shows 5 comments.

    Anyways, following the bouncing moderation.

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Troll (-1).

It is currently scored Troll (0).

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Troll (-1).

It is currently scored Troll (-1).

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Underrated (+1).

It is currently scored Troll (0).

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Informative (+1).

It is currently scored Troll (1).

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Funny (+1).

It is currently scored Funny (2).

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Underrated (+1).

It is currently scored Funny (3).

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Funny (+1).

It is currently scored Funny (4).

Corrected Story Blurb, posted to The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming, has been moderated Funny (+1).

It is currently scored Funny (5).

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