Less than 6 hours to go now. As I type this, the final backups are being transferred off our web servers. All of our DNS files, databases, and other important stuff is safely stored. When they finish, I’ll be powering down all non-essential hardware and heading for home. I’m not expecting much to happen but you never know. Most likely I’ll be back at work monday doing the usual sorts of things but if it really is TEOTWAWKI, I’m ready. We’ve stocked up on ammo, cheesy-poofs, and other survival essentials. When the bikers and mutants kick down our door, they’ll find me ready to defend our last Pop-Tart with the AR-15 and Glock (and Susan is pretty handy with her Smith & Wesson too). Good luck to all. See ya on the other side.
If you’ve been following the DVD CCA’s antics, you’re probably aware that the initial hearing is today. If you’re haven’t kept up with the news, here’s a summary. The designers of DVD included a badly designed encryption system to prevent unauthorized viewing or copying of discs. Linux users with DVD drives can’t watch DVD movies they’ve legally purchased because there is no player. To solve the problem, the DVD encryption system was reverse engineered and open source software was created and distributed to play DVD discs. The DVD CCA is now trying to get a restraining order against hundreds of individuals and organizations who have talked about the open source decryption software (like I’m doing now), who have included links to sites that offer the source, or have links to the source code itself:
css-auth_tar.gz – CSS authentication source
LiVid.tgz – the Linux DVD source code
nist-0_6.tgz – an initial Linux DVD player
DeCSS.zip – for Windows
The DVD CCA has mounted a PR campaign to make it appear that the software in question is used to pirate the DVD content, something that is untrue, highly impractical, and will probably only be believed by computer illiterates (which unfortunately includes most of the media and legal system). You are encouraged to join in the fight against the forces of evil in the world by downloading the source, mirroring it on your own web site, or making a tax deductable donation to the EFF, who will be fighting the DVD CCA in court for your right to free speech.
Over the holidays, we went to see Galaxy Quest with my niece and nephew. If you’re a fan of Star Trek or at all familiar with the world of Star Trek conventions, you’ll probably enjoy the movie. Besides, I’ll go to any movie with Sigourney Weaver in it! My one complaint was making Sigourney a blonde. I much prefer her as a brunette. Compare this, this or this.
My increased efforts at dealing with the all the spam we’ve been getting lately seems to be having some effect. The good news is that I’ve accumulated a dozen or so “kills” – mostly just throw-away accounts but at least one web site & domain shut down by an ISP. The bad news is that one or more of the spammers seems to have targeted us for a counter-attack. The last several days have seen continued attempts to crack our systems. Mostly by script-kiddies and all unsuccessful so far. I spent the weekend upgrading some of our security measures and will be doing more security work this week.
The last couple of days have been spent helping Erin get up and running on ISDN. She lives in an area where DSL is not available and she’s got a terrible quality analog phone line that prevents a good modem connection. You’d think by now that the phone companies would have ISDN down to a science but we ran into an unbelievable number of problems.
The worst was that her ISP, SWBELL, is a long-distance call from her area. She had metro service on her analog line but apparently this sort thing doesn’t work on ISDN data calls. SWBELL was apparently well aware of this problem but didn’t think it worth mentioning until after she’d gotten ISDN installed, the analog line disconnected, and we’d spent hours trying to determine why things weren’t working. Needless to say, she’s no longer using SWBELL as her ISP. After finding a local ISP she discovered the next problem – the same physical wiring was used for her ISDN as had been used for her unusually noisy analog line. The ISDN line is now suffering from a variety of intermittent problem that have so far prevented reliable use and allow only minimal use of one B channel. SWBELL (the phone company, not the ISP) is now “monitoring” her line.
If you’ve followed the saga of NCC’s T1 problems you’ll probably know that “monitoring” never works. The last attempt by SWBELL to monitor our T1 for 24 hours took over a week. First they monitored the wrong line, several times they scheduled the right line to be monitored but later claimed no one had carried out the monitoring. Eventually they claimed to have found the right line and actually monitored it but did not log any of the data. “Monitoring” as used by SWBELL apparently means that someone just wanders by from time to time and checks to see if your line (or perhaps some other line nearby) is up. No automated logging is done and they never provide any evidence that they’ve really done anything. They claimed that no errors were detected during a 24 hour period. During the same 24 hour period our router log showed around 100 line drops pretty evenly distributed over the entire time period. Hopefully Erin will have better luck with her ISDN. Hmmm…
Another busy week… here’s what we’ve been up to lately. On monday, we went to the DSO Christmas program. It was about what you’d expect – with one exception. The last piece of the evening was an arrangement commissioned by the DSO for the Christmas program. The arranger was Alexander Courage. Anyone who’s a Star Trek fan will immediately recognize the name as the composer of the music on the original series. Apparently he’s still around and has become a fairly well known arranger of music.
Monday was also my birthday but we didn’t get around to doing anything about it until tuesday. Susan came up with a tasty chocolate cake which was pretty much finished off with some help from one of my sisters and her family. Later I bought myself a birthday present – the new Blink 182 CD.
In other news, the saga of the SWB/Worldcom/Verio T1 continues. We’re still having problems with random drops though they are now generally 30 seconds or less.