Friday Link Dump, July 7th, 2006

I’m thinking I may make this a regular feature, as it helps me get the links on the virtual page and off my tab bar.

  1. The 10 Commandments of Cell Phone Etiquette. Sounds like a good start to me.
  2. Top 20 Blog Designs, plus Part Two of the series, making it the Top 40, I guess…
  3. Alt fuels/kicking our dependence on hydrocarbons – no silver bullet, but is one really necessary?
  4. The breakdown of modern webdesign – with handy pie charts!
  5. Nuke tests in the Nevada desert apparently were so intense that they illuminated Los Angeles’ skyline at points. Wild.
  6. The Logos of Web 2.0 – for all you graphic design geeks out there.
  7. Web 2.0 design tutorials – ’nuff said.


  1. Launchy, like Quicksilver, only for Windows.


  1. You Are A Pirate. That’s the stuff of nightmares right there, kiddies.


  1. USB-powered Nerf missile launcher.
  2. Mini radio-controlled helicopter.
  3. Radio-controlled flying boat. You simply have to watch the demonstration video.
  4. The Mug of vi References. I need one of those for those early morning config file edits, I tell you whut.

Friday Link Dump

Okay, time to toss out all the nifty links that I stumbled over in the past week but never really made it to “full post” status. Enjoy.

  1. Kinetic destruction visited upon an old Toyota, rubber band-style.
  2. Robin Williams guest-starred on “Who’s Line Is It, Anyway?”. Witness the hilarity.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, take these guys on in Beiruit/Beer Pong.
  4. You’ve got to hand it to the Japanese people – a prank show involving sauna ejector seats on a ski hill would get sued into oblivion here in the U.S.


  1. This week’s Something Awful Photoshop Phriday – Computers in Movies – resulted in some hilarious entries, in particular “Memento” and “The Color #9900FF;”. I laughed so hard that I shed a few tears, but then again, I’m a huge geek, so YMMV.
  2. The Top 10 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog from (I wonder, have they looked at acquiring for all their readers from Canadia?)
  3. Literal translations of old sayings – a Fark photoshop “new classic”.


  1. The Mac and Linux versions of Songbird have been released. Play music in your browser.
  2. Re: Your Brains. An ode to officeplace zombies with a distinctively They Might Be Giants flair to it. Heh. (World of Warcraft machinima video here, for those that are interested.)
  3. Birdy Nam Nam is a quartet of DJs from France that construct their music (almost) entirely using turntables. Their performance of their song “Absesses” was enough to win them a global DJing contest. Wickedly good stuff – their entire album is worth a listen if you can snag a copy.

Look Ye Upon Humanity And Despair, For Lo! Their Future Is Dim

Either these folks are auditioning for a Blue Man Group spinoff, or there is something seriously wrong with the entire human race. The Scarf for Techno-Addict Dorks, for when you absolutely, positively have to keep your Pokemon-playing ways out of the public eye.
Only an art student could come up with something so stupid. I think if I ever saw someone wearing one of those scarves in public, I would be overcome by the desire to run up and smack the idiot upside the head with a 2×4 and then sprint off, laughing maniacally the whole way.

Why I Love The Internet, Part 308,456

…It makes me laugh. An interesting discussion popped up over at Slashdot regarding the lack of female applicants to, and therefore, lack of females being sponsored by the GNOME project’s “Summer of Code” (sponsored by Google). The conversation revolved around the general lack of females in tech fields and spawned the following comment:

There’re no women on the internet! Everyone knows that! It’s the place where men are men, women are men, and children are fbi agents.

Now that’s comedy. Heh.

A Virtual Cornucopia Of Cool Software

Google has been on a “pro-Doug” tear recently as far as I can see, releasing first Picasa, then Google Earth for Linux, along with the cool-in-concept Google Browser Sync plugin for Firefox. The Google Sync extension only ranks cool in concept because, well, in order for it to work to its capacity, you have to store all your bookmarks, history, cookies, tabs and, most importantly, passwords on Google’s servers. The data is encrypted prior to being sent to Google, but it’s only done with a PIN as the encryption salt, meaning that Google has access to both the algorithm used to encrypt the data and the encrypted data itself. The PINs, they can guess. The “Oh wow!” factor is probably mitigated by how much one trusts Google to not be evil with personal data.
The Picasa port was accomplished using Winelib, meaning that it’s not a true native port, but I’ll take what I can get in terms of being able to run the best image management software out there. The Google Earth port is apparently native code, as it’s based off of QT. Now, we just need a SketchUp port for Linux and a Picasa port for Macs and the awesomeness will be complete.

Network Gremlins

I don’t know if it’s a universal I.T. thing or not, but at my place of employment we sysadmins have taken to blaming any freak accident/unexplainable computer phenomenon/Series of Unfortunate Events on “gremlins”. A person couldn’t log on five minutes ago and all of a sudden, they can? Gremlins. USB sticks now mounting when, previously, they weren’t? Gremlins. You get the picture.
Gremlins!Well, last Friday and today have been some of the most gremlin-filled days in recent memory, bar none. We’ve all tried to be sanguine about the whole affair and just shrug our shoulders and mutter “Gremlins!”, but that only takes one so far. Perhaps we bought a cursed Cisco box with a time-delayed Curse Activation Feature without knowing it.
I came in to work on Friday to discover that no one could receive any mail, a condition that was causing no little consternation amongst the throngs shackled to their cubes and, after a careful bit of investigation by myself and the team lead, we determined What Apparently Went Wrong:

  1. We back up all of our DNS, DHCP and NIS server maps using CVS in order to keep ourselves from getting into a bad state with no easy way to back out damaging configuration changes. Somehow, our master DNS configuration file was partially overwritten so that any reference to a shared key (I’ll get to that) was removed.
  2. Our DNS tables are generated (mostly) on-the-fly by our DHCP server, which relieves us of a great deal of administrative burden. However, one can’t just have DHCP servers overwriting our DNS maps willy-nilly, a condition which we avoid by requiring access to a shared key that both DHCP and DNS can trust, thus allowing clients that are authorized in our NIS setup to request an IP from the DHCP server and have one assigned as well as have the DNS server updated.
  3. The DHCP server must be restarted/reloaded in order to read new ethers addresses from the NIS tables, which we accomplish thrice-hourly with a simple cronjob.
  4. Since the reference to the shared key was overwritten, the DHCP server was no longer able to force DNS updates, meaning that individual hosts began dropping from the DNS radar like flies.
  5. At around the same time that DNS began to fail, our primary mail server had a minor NIS hiccup that caused it to fail over to our secondary NIS server.
  6. All email addresses are fed through the NIS aliases map in order to tell the mail server who the intended recipient[s] are.
  7. Our secondary NIS server had recently been replaced with a newer, beefier box that was receiving all NIS map updates from the master server except aliases for causes not quite clear at this time, although much finger pointing was aimed in the direction of a faulty Makefile.
  8. Our mail server, unable to determine where to deliver mail, threw up its hands, spewed a whole bunch of “aliases: no such map” messages into the syslogs and contentedly queued up mail for the better part of a morning.
  9. All of which translated into: no mail for anyone until we figured this out.

This email fun was followed by a raging wave of thunderstorms that swept through the area, knocking out building power first (our compute center is UPS’d and generator-backed, so no worries there) and then knocking a transformer and some Verizon telcomm equipment offline, effectively nuking our external link and a sizable portion of our surrounding area, meaning no web access to end the day, followed by some incorrectly-configured Macs sitting on admins desks giving us heartburn for a goodly portion of the day as well. Wheee!
There's... something.  On. The wing!While Friday was fun, I came in to work fully expecting an easy day, as HGCDs (High Gremlin Count Days) are normally few and far between. However, ’twas not to be. I arrived to find my voicemail blinking and my boss standing in my office saying “Our web is down”. After running this statement through my Management-to-IT filters, I realized he was saying that no one could get to any external websites. I and the team lead poked around a bit before realizing that there is a bug in the newest version of RedHat Enterprise (the version our web proxy just happens to run) that ignores the specified default route when being run on machines with multiple NICs, such as proxy servers. This bug was triggered when our proxy, sensing a Disturbance In The DNS Force on Friday had run dhclient and thus begun ignoring the default route, resulting in our poor proxy having no idea how to get to the content that people were requesting of it. We manually added the default route and things once again moved to Status: Hunky Dory. Problem solved, at least for now.
As for me, I’m avoiding ladders, black cats and mirrors for the rest of the week, just to be safe.