Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? Susan and I spent the day with some of my family members. We ate lots of turkey and other usual Thanksgiving day fare. After sitting around and talking for awhile, some of us went to see The World is not Enough, the new James Bond movie. The movie was not as good as the last couple of Bond movies but was not the worst I’ve seen either. Pierce Brosnan seems to be growing into the role quite nicely and may be the first replacement Bond to have a chance at actually filling Connery’s shoes. Our nephew, David, drove us to the AMC theater at Grapevine Mills mall in his new Mazda Protegé. It brought back memories of my first car, a Fiat X1/9.
As NCC’s alpha geek, I never turn down a challenge and I’ve got an interesting one this week. I have to take a collection of perl scripts designed to run on a Linux/Apache system and get them running on a Dell Laptop running Windows NT. The preferred method of simply defenestrating the Laptop and installing Linux isn’t acceptable because it will be used in demostrations requiring the use of a Netscape Navigator client that looks like the Windows version. In particular the drop-down boxes as rendered by Motif seem to confuse people who’ve never used a computer with a real OS. So the only choice appears to be running the whole system on NT.
Is it just me or has the volume of spam been increasing lately? I just finished processing this weekends accumulated spam. My usual routine is to track down the origin address (and the spammer’s real address if a URL is provided in the spam). I pass the origin IP to ORBS where I usually find out that it’s a known open relay – though once in a while I get lucky and report one that hasn’t been discovered yet. I then prepare a standard issue NCC nastygram for the the postmasters at the origin site which gets cc’ed to everybody involved up to the nearest tier-1 provider. In rare cases I’ve been able to get a verifiable business address and file an online report with the BBB or FTC. Like most government agencies, the BBB and FTC have so far not been able to do anything other than generate and file paper work.
Thursday and friday I worked on two things (and got so busy I forgot to update my news). Ironically one of the things I’ve been doing it working on a new release of my newslog cgi program. I’ve been trying it out under mod_perl and found a few things that needed fixing or improving. I’ll put a link here once the upgraded version is completed. I may even post an item on freshmeat.net for it this time. The other thing I’ve been working on is upgrading my Linux development machine to Red Hat Linux 6.1. It appears that Gnome has made another huge leap forward in functionality and stability. If this keeps up, there won’t be any question of Linux becoming a popular desktop OS. On the other hand, I tried out the latest Mozilla alpha release (M11) and while it’s begining to be reasonably functional it still can’t render DHTML properly and the UI design is really ugly. It’s still months away from replacing Netscape 4.x.
All the work with PostgreSQL lately has led to the need to install mod_perl and the DBI Perl modules. In addition to the basic DBI module and a PostgreSQL DBD module, I’m also trying out the ApacheDBI module. Apache DBI provides persistant connections to the database, eliminating the time delays associated with opening and closing connections for each query. Right now all this stuff is running on one of our test machines but we’ll be upgrading our primary webservers soon with new, faster hardware, RH6.1, and full database capabilities.
I generally have a couple of books going at any given time. One that I’m reading myself and one that I’m reading to Susan. Today Susan and I stared a new one. Actually, it’s been on the to-read list for quite some time. Susan got it as a gift for me a few years ago. The book is Music by Philip Glass by Philip Glass. If you follow the link, you’ll discover it’s now out of print – which should give you some idea of how long our current backlog of books to be read is.
Yesterday, I did more experimenting with PostgreSQL. First I upgraded to the most recent release to fix a problem with pgaccess, the tcl-based GUI provided with the package. The eventual goal is to set up an interface between Apache and PostreSQL via mod_perl. Unfortunately, it appears that the mod_perl binary is defective in the Red Hat 6.0 for Sparc release. I installed it and then configured Apache to use it in the usual way – which consists of adding two lines to httpd.conf to load the modules and then uncommenting the mod_perl stuff in srm.conf. Apache segfaulted on startup. I grabbed the updated RPMs from the Red Hat ftp server that look like they’ll be used in the 6.1 release but the results were the same. Since we don’t plan on running Apache and mod_perl on the Sparc in the production system, I decided to stop short of attempting a comlete rebuild from the source RPMs. But if anybody has any insight into what’s causing Apache to dump core on startup, I’d be curious.
Today was database day. I’ve been meaning to spend some time playing with PostgreSQL as a possible replacement for Oracle 8. I got through the basic installation, configuration, and testing today. I’ve got it running on zanti, a Sun Ultra 10 with RH Linux 6.0. So far it looks pretty good but we’ll have to find out how well it gets along with Perl and Apache.