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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

November 30
My current spam filtering setup includes scanning mail at ingress, meaning I can simply drop emails immediately if they set off the spam filter; this saves me storing spam on disk, and also (by and large) prevents me sending unroutable or misdirected bounce messages. I am currently attempting to understand how to do this with Postfix; it appears to require either libmilter, which isn't trivially available on MacOS, or some variety of bits and pieces that, to my reading, don't necessarily give me anything more than inline scanning and tagging - I don't get the inline rejection feature I'd like to use. Still, I'm inclined to run with one of these less than optimal solutions if only so I can move things off the crashy server a bit faster.

Of course, I could be REALLY stupid and just accept all the mail, and let Mail.app deal with the mess...

"Filtering spam with Postfix" is a good article on basic anti-spam configuration in Postfix, focussing largely on cutting things out before they get to your filtering proper, which is what I want, really. Do note the RBL hosts in the sample config may be out of date.

Someone with better artistic chops than me can probably explain why it is that a well-done but formulaic movie is often (indeed, more often than not) a more enjoyable experience than one which tries to break the formula with an unexpected twist; perhaps it's dependant on the particular formula, in as much as I think most people will enjoy a movie that implies that there's a fairness or balance of some sort in life: the good guy gets his reward, the bad guy gets his comeuppance, the couple finally get together despite the odds, etc. Definitely Maybe is, for the most part, a formulaic tale with elements of things like How I Met Your Mother and The Parent Trap, but it derails briefly at about 90 minutes in (there's only another ten minutes, and it gets back on the rails just in time) where, yes, they attempt to do something different. And really, it doesn't work, despite the rest of the film running like clockwork according to the "single-parent nice-guy with precocious daughter" genre as laid out in Act 1. I'm hesitant to say it's a chick flick; sure, it's not in the Stuff Explodes For No Reason category, but I have recently had reason to theorize the existence of a genre which could perhaps be referred to as the Metro-Flick, the defining feature of which is that men think they're watching a chick flick (and thus indulging their other half, or showing their sensitive side, or whatever) while any women who happen to watch the same thing will most likely scoff at it. But I digress. The movie, aside from the aforementioned derailing, is witty, sweet, funny, touching, and laden with 90's nostalgia, particularly through the accompanying music ("Who's Kurt Cobain?") and the backdrop of Clinton's 92 campaign, reelection, impeachement, etc. It's quite possibly worth watching for the touchpoints of that decade alone, although maybe that's just me. Anyway, if you're looking forward to The Transporter 3 (in cinemas now), this is probably not something you want to watch; on the other hand, if you enjoyed Jersey Girl, I suspect this will be very much your kind of thing. And that's quite enough Movie Analysis 101 for now, time to back to the nerding.

The Tempest: well, there's 90 minutes I won't get back. Even the deliciously pixie-like Toyah Willcox didn't make up for the brain-numbing High Art boredom of the thing.

Hmm. Briefly switched the Cube to being the active mail server. Duly noted a complete lack of incoming mail. However, this appears to be because, er, the flood of incoming mail has cut WAY back. Bizarre. Anyway, I'm not sure that the spam filtering is being invoked, so I need to tweak that before I switch again. Also need to verify that everything that's supposed to autostart is actually autostarting, and that I've moved everything off the to-be-retired box that I'm likely to want (I know that my CVS and PPTP servers are still untransferred, for example).

Aha. Spam filter works better if invoked using correct path. D'oh. Also, no PPTP in fink for MacOS 10.4.

After the linux box crashed about five times in the space of half an hour, I got fed up with it and switched mail back to the Cube. I've no idea why the box has become so crashy, but I may as well drop it since the replacement is more-or-less operational. Still need to flip the web server, but we'll get to that. Anyway, this means I'm using a new and not wholly tested mail server, so if you have trouble getting email through to me, try the obvious username at gmail.com...


November 29
Apple Mail is, for some reason, having issues talking to the Apple-supplied Postfix server I'm trying to run on the Cube. That annoys me, obviously. Also the IMAP server, but that's probably my fault.

Hmm. IMAP appears to have been some sort of oddball PAM screwup, plus a client config screwup, plus a server config screwup. Now working.

Ok, In Bruges was absolutely nothing like what I expected, mainly because I didn't know anything about it other than that it stars Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, and is set in the town of the title. It's a distinctly odd film, and I'm not wholly sure that it actually works; some of it is overly contrived, some of it seems poorly paced, and all told it's more grim than comedic despite my impression that it was pitched as being the other way around. Anyway, on the whole it turns out to be a good watch, but not excellent.

November 27
Apple's launchd stuff is a bit weird, and Fink's "let's drop an overlay on it and other things like it" daemonize is even more weird (and unfinished, to boot), but I'm getting the hang of the former and basically ignoring the latter. Most if not all of the Cube's essential stuff is now wired to autostart, including (as of last night) SpamAssassin; I need to wire it up to Postfix and test it somewhat, and then I should be about ready to flip 99% of the traffic from the current web/mail server to the Cube. W00t.

November 24
To answer the RAM-oriented questions: (a)yes it does appear that at least one of the DIMMs is fried, (b) it turns out that the box has only 320MB of RAM, 256 of it on two DIMMs and the rest in onboard RAM which is why I still had 64MB to play with. Also, resizing a 200GB filesystem over USB 1.x took 15 hours!

Spamassassin: successful make test run. Excellent. Need to bolt on a few more modules before it's fully ready, but that's one less thing to concern myself with when flipping various bits over to the Cube.

November 23
Well, that was entertaining: fired up one of the old Compaq laptops to see about attending to this drive repartitioning, and midway through a forced fsck the screen flared like some sort of Tony Scott editing move and the laptop rebooted, then failed to come back up to an operational state. Some poking and prodding indicates that it may have spontaneously fried both DIMMs, or perhaps the controller for the socket they live in, or something. Removing 384MB of RAM from a 384MB laptop curiously left it with 64MB; also, watching Fedora Core's desktop attempt to cope with 64MB of RAM is rather amusing. I think, if this laptop survives the further adventures of disk partitioning, it may be heading straight for the electronics recycling - although the screen might be worth trying to salvage...

He Was A Quiet Man is an odd piece of work. Christian Slater is excellent as a middle-aged office drone suddenly elevated to hero, but I'm left scratching my head at the end wondering what the point was supposed to be.


November 22
So, I think I've finally possibly found out how to build a SpamAssassin with Fink on MacOS 10.4. The problem: an older-than-required version of HTML::Parser installed in the system library, coupled with SpamAssassin's liberal use of Perl's taint mode, which means that the newer version installed in the Fink tree is disregarded. There are a number of approaches to fixing this: the brute-force one is to switch off the taint-checking, which SpamAssasin's configuration mechanism conveniently allows you to do, along with a shouty warning that you shouldn't really, plus it doesn't seem to work, entirely, in that some of the scripts still wind up with the -T flag; I could also try an older version of SpamAssassin until I find one that works with the HTML::Parser module I've got; I could overwrite the system HTML::Parser with a sufficiently new version (which is probably the most correct solution, but the one I'm least happy with since overwriting system files always seems like an admission of defeat to me); or I could patch all the taint-check files with an explicit include for the fink libs, which seems like what I want to do, except that some of the test code appears to explicitly rebuild the command line rather than using whatever's in the #! line of the script. At least I know where the problem lies, which should make it easier to solve.

Postfix is mostly working at this point, with the exception of my virtual domain setup, which is mainly down to me having not read much documentation so far.

Oh, and the USB drive has a resized filesystem but I've not as yet resized the enclosing partition to match for handwaving reasons to do with software versions and what not.

All this activity brought to you by the fact that I was on-call today and thus housebound until 6pm...

November 21
After my typical round of customer abuse, I managed to get my finisher photo from MarathonPhoto. The first copy they sent had been swallowed by my spamfilter, and in the two weeks it took me to get them to resend, I'd turned the spamfilter aggressiveness WAY back (and coped with a massive increase in spam, obviously). On returning it to its usual settings this evening, I found this message: Nov 21 20:06:12 kreng spamass-milter[3903]: Could not retrieve sendmail macro "b"!. Please add it to confMILTER_MACROS_ENVRCPT for better spamassassin results. I have no idea what this means. And given that once I put this stuff on the Cube I'll be using Postfix, I guess it's hardly relevant.

In other Cube-related news, I finally got tired of waider.ie going offline because I was trying to resize the filesystem on the external USB drive; yanked the drive and plugged it into the office laptop instead, which boots into Linux and doesn't crash at the drop of a hat. Currently resizing the filesystem for once and for all to allow me to do whatever silliness I need to do to make it work with the Cube. Not long after I'd done this, the server crashed anyway. It's seriously getting out of hand.

November 18
I'm still trying to move things to the Cube. The main bits left are still mail (particularly mail filtering) and the honkin' great drive hanging off the back of the current webserver, which I've cleverly formatted as EXT3, which the Mac won't read without help. So I'm trying to resize the single filesystem, so I can redo half of it as something that both Mac and Linux are happy with (e.g. VFAT), and it started the resizefs some time this afternoon and it's still running several hours later. Whoopee.

November 17
Above The Rim: another in the "Why did I rent this?" series; possibly on account of it being one of the few movies Tupac Shakur starred in before he was shot, and it's not a particularly good role - Gridlock'd is a far better showcase of his talent. The movie itself is a fairly bland Kid Overcomes Ghetto With Basketball story. Nothing exciting, but not awful.


November 14
In The Valley Of Elah is a long, slow movie, but it fills the time well. The only thing I found disappointing was the eventual explanation for what had happened; it didn't ring true, and felt like just another cover-up - I was expecting a further denoument before the end of the movie. Definitely worth watching.

November 13
MBNA tweaked their layout a bit, so I've had to correspondingly tweak my Perl modules... it'd be nice if these tweaks actually did something other than, you know, rewording the text on the page while providing no extra functionality whatsoever.

November 11
Moved mysql to the Cube last night. It works, hurrah, but I still need to add autostart, etc. Looked at moving over email config tonight, and discovered that the "sendmail" binary on OS X is, in fact, a compatability wrapper around postfix for clients. In other words, I'll either have to build my own sendmail, or learn how to get postfix to do the stuff I currently do with sendmail. Bah.

November 9
I installed GreaseKit in a vain attempt to get GreaseMonkey scripts running on Safari; after being initially puzzled with the fact that I couldn't get even my most basic script to work, I poked around a bit and discovered that (a) it doesn't seem to be paying any attention to the @include header and (b) due to a security issue all the actual useful functions were removed two versions back, which basically makes the whole thing useless. Looking at the security issue, it appears to require you to enable greasemonkey scripting for a malicious site, which is I guess a concern if you're using scripts that interact with all sites but it still seems a bit overkill. I may, he said to himself, with blatant disregard for how these things usually work out, have to hack this.


November 8
The Last Legion is quite enjoyable, if not entirely taxing on the brain. It gets a bit silly in places, but that actually works pretty well. I did figure out before the reveal the nature of the Turkish "ninja", but I didn't actually see the epilogue coming somehow. And Ben Kingsley's face looked like a rubber mask throughout, whatever the make-up department were doing. Good for a bit of fun, not necessarily a run-out-and-rent-it offering.

November 6
The Brave One is an okay thriller; the setup is from Ghost, the love interest is from (I think) Double Jeopardy, and, uh, that's where I run out of references. It's nothing special, but it wasn't a waste of time either.


November 1
Hmm, that's two movies in a row that I lost interest in - today's viewing was There Will Be Blood which, among other things, has a really annoying score. I wouldn't really recommend this; it doesn't really have a solid story that I can see, the lead character is totally unsympathetic, and frankly I'd like that two and a half hours back, please.

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