Fri, 12 Nov 2010

First roadie commute, two road-ragers in one day // at 18:00

Bah, Friday, who needs it.

Family circumstances altered, toddler sleep requires a no show at Goat. Normal commute home, hopefully avoiding the wind and rain.

  • First ride home on the new road bike.
  • First ride on a road bike for about a year.
  • First ride in look cleats for about five years.

East Oakleigh: approaching little roundabout down a gentle hill, there's a Falcon coming down the street from my right but he's way back and I'll be across the roundabout before he's even got there. Surprise, should have remembered the mentality of falcadore drivers around here - he plants the foot — must get to roundabout before bicycle — swerves and sways onto the roundabout then brakes hard and smokes to a halt directly in front of me as I brake and stop, foot down, spot on the white line at the edge of the roundabout. Local falcadore driver waves both hands up in the air in a big “what the F#@#$” at me and then tears off spinning the wheels down the road.

East Oakleigh/Oakleigh: half a kilometre later. I turn left into Huntingdale road, pull out to the centre and sit there indicating right to turn into Edward street, a couple of cars pass head on going north up Huntingdale, a white falcadore wagon pulls up at Edward street to turn right into Huntingdale rd. Gap in traffic, off I start, falcadore pilot plants the foot and takes off straight towards me. A loud “OI!!!!” from me as I sprint out of the way, down comes his window and the screaming starts “F*@#$@#$ING DICKHEAD, GEROFFDAFUGGINROAD” as off he goes round the corner. “WATCH IT!” I yell to the retreating car. He stops in the middle of Huntingdale road, screams out a parting “F*#@$@ING C*NT @#$@#$....” and tears off, spinning the wheels. At least he tore off, for a moment I thought our local road-rager was going to come back and have a go at me.

FFS, can someone just shoot them.

At least I beat the rain home by about 45 seconds!

To add to the annoyance, yesterday I received from BV yet another cutesy sweet but totally unhelpful piece

Harassment and road rage - What you can do

With all the usual crap about taking details and filling out forms and contacting the police. All good in theory, but without photos, witnesses, a rock-solid description of both car and driver the police will do NOTHING, and anytime idiots like this attack you on the road you're usually too damn busy just keeping out of their way and not being killed to take a photo, memorise the details and write a bloody description of the car and driver. Maybe the police should just ride around plain clothes on bikes a bit more….

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Thu, 11 Nov 2010

A letter, to me? // at 18:00

Today I received a real honest-to-goodness paper letter, a letter in an envelope, a letter posted from faraway France. “How odd,” I thought, who would write to me from France?

Aha, it would be "ESQ. Philip ROSSLARE" of "ROSSLARE CHAMBERS LLP," or so I discovered as I opened the letter and saw the opening lines:

Dear Tritschler

Firstly I must solicit your confidence in this transaction; this is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and top secret. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day.

…and so on and so forth for a page worth of Nigerian fee-forward scam. I guess there are still enough idiots around who fall for it to make it worthwhile mailing letters to random people half-way round the world.

Seriously, an Irish sounding company out of a supposed Belgian office and email addresses in Spain? At least try and get the little details more consistent and believable next time guys! I do feel sorry for the law firm that really is at Vlaamse Kunstlaan 3 in Antwerp, seems that the scammers are trying to muddy the water by including that address for their office.


Wed, 23 Jun 2010

PC support phone scam // at 20:00

For the last three days we've had mystery phone calls shortly after 6pm, each day they hang up after I answer the phone — a sure sign of a call-centre, the auto-dialler has dialled, you've answered, but all of their operators are busy and nobody is free to piss you off. Until today...

All heavily accented, echo-ey and garbled, sounding typically like the Indian call-centres. Around 6:10pm this evening:

Scam man: "Is that Mr ....? Hello? Hello? I am calling from Globalmax ??? IT a Microsoft partner"

Me: "Hello? Hello? You're very garbled, hello?"

Scam man: "Do you have a PC or laptop computer"

Me: "yep, sure do sunshine"

Scam man: "There are reports of widespread computer problems in your area"

Me: "I'll bet there are". At this point I start chuckling to myself, this is no ordinary call-centre trying to sell me carpet cleaning or life insurance, this is a real honest-to-goodness rip-me-off scammer.

Scam man: "are you sitting at your computer?"

Me: "Why it just so happens I am."

Scam man: "can you open the desktop?"

Me: "Easy, there."

Scam man: "Do you know how to do a run command"

At this point I couldn't be bothered playing any more and asked him "do you know how to run a linux computer?"

Scam man: "oh, ah, you are running the linux operating system, I will put you through to our Microsoft Linux support engineer, can you please hold"

...a long pause...

Scam man: "are you there?"

Me: "Yes, I'm waiting..."

...another long pause...

Scam man #2: "Hello, no linux". CLICK

Aw, such a pity. What a shame I didn't have the time and the setup to play along a little longer. A few minutes digging found mentions on Whirlpool — — and a reference back to

So take care out there if "Global Max" or "Max global" or "SecureMyPC" or any other cold-caller tries to take over your PC or credit card.


[2010-07-01 Thu] the scam is now so prevalent its even made it to the local newspaper —

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Fri, 07 May 2010

The Quest for IPv6 on OES2 // at 22:00

After spending a fascinating afternoon with IPv6 and Novell OES2 and a myriad of manuals, technical notes and endless searches through forums I thought it time to try and separate the reality from the promise and write up what I found out about IPv6.

Starting with two IPv6-enabled workstations; one running Ubuntu linux (32bit, 10.04) and the other Windows XPsp3 with the Microsoft IPv6 protocol enabled, how far can I get? Both workstations can ping6 each other and both can make SSH and HTTP connections to both on-campus and off-campus systems over IPv6. (The linux system using OpenSSH, firefox and chrome, the Windows system using PuTTY, firefox and chrome). Novell connectivity is provided by ncpfs on the linux system, Novell client 4.91sp4 (??check??) on Windows XP.

IPv6 is enabled by default on an OES2 box when installed — ours were installed as OES2/SLES10sp2 then later upgraded to OES2sp2/SLES10sp3. The basic configuration available through yast is to either enable or disable the protocol — that's it. The OES2 servers then come up with an autoconfigure address and if you're a fan of long unwieldy numbers, I can ping6 the address immediately because our network infrastructure people have ensured that we have a working IPv6 as well as IPv4 network, and my linux workstations have both protocols available. The fun then starts when you try to make the OES2 server use IPv6 rather than just have IPv6 available as a kind of bragging point.

A quick visit to the management front end of our DNS system and tick-a-box to say that the OES2 servers are using "auto" on the IPv6 network, magic occurs in the background, and the DNS now serves AAAA records allowing us to use host names from now on. Confirmed by a quick ping6 oes2svrFQDN

So what services on the OES2 box will actually use IPv6 by default, and which other ones can I configure to do so?

By default on an OES2sp1 box it looks as though Apache and sshd are listening, netstat on the server shows us what ports are open:

$ netstat -an |grep "::.*LISTEN"
tcp        0      0 :::80                   :::*                    LISTEN
tcp        0      0 :::9009                 :::*                    LISTEN
tcp        0      0 :::22                   :::*                    LISTEN
tcp        0      0 ::1:25                  :::*                    LISTEN
tcp        0      0 :::443                  :::*                    LISTEN

I've confirmed both SSH and HTTP are available over IPv6 as both ssh and firefox or chrome on the linux workstation default to making IPv6 connections to this box. Unsure what is using port 9009 (tomcat I suspect), 25 is the postfix implementation listening internally. Pointing an IPv6-enabled browser at the OES2 server gets the standard Novell front page, then we can find out what protocol we used:

$ netstat -an |grep ":80"
tcp        0      0  *               LISTEN
tcp        0      0  *               LISTEN
tcp        0      0 130.194.x.y:8028*               LISTEN
tcp        0      0 130.194.x.y:8030*               LISTEN
tcp        0      0 :::80                   :::*                    LISTEN
tcp        0      0 2001:388:...:80 2001:388:...:41206 TIME_WAIT

Likewise, ssh to the OES2 server from the linux workstation, then check whether we're using SSH (port 22) on IPv4 or IPv6:

$ ssh oes2svrFQDN netstat -an |grep ":22"
tcp        0      0     ESTABLISHED
tcp        0      0 :::22                   :::*                    LISTEN
tcp        0   1072 2001:388:...:22 2001:388:...:59561 ESTABLISHED

Sadly, that seems to be about it. All the core Novell services; eDirectory, NCP file access, NRM all seem to only use IPv4 and not to be configurable to use IPv6. I may be mistaken, but so far I've not been able to make them work.



Works. Both the linux OpenSSH and Windows PuTTY implementations default to asking the DNS for AAAA records first and using IPv6 if available.


Works. Both the linux firefox and chrome, and Windows XP firefox and chrome implementations default to asking the DNS for AAAA records first and using IPv6 if available.

TODO: test IE7 access on Windows XP

The default Novell front-page offers little other than links to other services;

- iManager
continues to work on IPv6
- iMonitor
defaults back to IPv4 using port 8030
defaults back to IPv4, using ports 8008 and 8009


With LDAP available on the OES2 box, port 389 is open on IPv4 but not on IPv6.

Attempting to add IPv6 addresses to the n4u.server.interfaces entry in /etc/opt/novell/eDirectory/conf/nds.conf appears to have no effect. The specified port does not show up in the netstat open ports list and no connection can be made to the port from the linux or Windows XP workstations.

Two servers on the same subnet, both with IPv6 enabled and capable of contacting each other over IPv6 via HTTP and SSH, only IPv4 is used for NCP connections between the servers.


A Windows XP workstation with a working IPv6 stack; capable of contacting the IPv6 OES2 server via HTTP (firefox and chrome) and SSH (PuTTY) over IPv6, uses IPv4 for Novell drive connections and all other NCP connections to the OES2 server (Novell client 4.91sp1)

One cryptic comment in the source for ncpfs (??ref??) could be read to imply that there is an NCP implementation available that uses IPv6, but that it is not available to the public.


The addresses used are specified in /etc/opt/novell/httpstkd.conf, but no examples are given of IPv6 configurations and I was unable to find one by experimentation.


Seems there's some way to go, or at the very least, that I've got a considerable number of manuals to read to try and locate the vital nuggets of information.

Frustratingly, the majority of searches regarding IPv6 seem to turn up documents simply telling people to “disable IPv6 due to issues” in very hand-waving voodoo way, without specifying the “issues” (ie problems) that were experienced.

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Mon, 19 Apr 2010

Edgeless // at 14:00

Another wonderful example of built-in obsolescence. My current GPS, a Garmin Edge 705 bought in January 2009 stopped working last Friday. As with most consumer electronics, it came with a 12 month warranty. As with a suspiciously large number of consumer electronics, it failed shortly after the warranty had expired.

  Product name: Edge® 705
  Registration date: Jan 20, 2009
  Serial number: 192078322
  Unit Id: 3510640141

The power switch had been getting more and more indeterminate over the last few months — but never enough to make me realise and send it off to Garmin for repair while it still had a warranty. Then on Friday it wouldn't turn on and it was obvious from the lack of resistance that the switch had vanished from under the rubber waterproof cap. I've read a few reports of the switches in the Edge 305s and 705s being prone to failure and it seems mine decided to join them. Pretty bloody annoying that I have a couple of almost ten year old $30 bike computers that still work, but a $600 GPS is built to fall apart in twelve months as soon as the warranty runs out.

Over the weekend I discovered a strange workaround that would let me continue to use the Edge; plugging in to the USB charger would turn it on, then disconnecting from the charger left it on so I could take it outside and use it. Plugging it in to the USB cable on the laptop also turning it on if it was off, or had no effect if it was already on, however, unplugging it from the laptop made it turn itself off!

Lunchtime today saw me hunting madly around for a sufficiently tiny torx driver, after ransacking all the repair kits we could find we ended using a tiny flat-blade jewellers screwdriver that fit perfectly.

Once the screws were undone and the back removed problem became obvious: Garmin Edge 705 with broken power switch - seems to be a common problem

The on/off switch and the four other switches are all mounted directly onto the circuit board, the solder connections also provide the physical strength to hold them on. Switching it on and off by pressing on the button results in the switch being ripped off the circuit board — hardly a robust design, but probably a nice little earner for Garmin, who charge $US110 to repair (i.e. replace) out-of-warranty units in the states, or $AU186 here in Australia.

After twenty minutes on the phone on hold Garmin technical support told me to parcel it all up, quote the repair number they gave me, post it off to their repair shop in Sydney and they would then examine it and ring me back to let me know if it was to be repaired under the recently-expired warranty or if it would cost $186. No guarantees one way or the other. Garmin Edge 705 power switch broken off the PCB under normal use

A couple of phone calls found me a friend of a friend with adequate surface-mount soldering skills, and half an hour later he'd soldered the switch back on the board and the Edge is back in operation.

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Wed, 07 Apr 2010

Today // at 18:00

Today I...

  • got my camera back from Canon after only three weeks.
  • saw a Monash City Council contractor cleaning garbage from beside the bike track in Oakleigh for the first time in five years of riding along here.
  • converted my /home partition from ext3 to btrfs on my work PC.
  • discovered that Ubuntu 10.04alpha-whatever locks up at disk mounting time and won't boot with the 2.6.32-19-generic kernel on my work PC (and only boots some of the time under 2.6.32-18).
  • had endless problems with rdup from btrfs source to ntfs target until I replaced the 1.0.5 version of rdup from Ubuntu 10.04 with version 1.1.4 compiled from source.
  • felt all day as though mentally I was wading through treacle.

Wed, 31 Mar 2010

Windows XP offline files weirdness // at 12:00

I'm pretty fond of the offline files and folders feature in Windows, can't say I'm terribly impressed how Microsoft makes such a feature only available in “Professional” versions, when such a huge proportion of home machines are laptops where people have a NAS or external drive that ideally they should be using to hold their precious files.

Both at home and at work I've configured SAMBA on a linux desktop machine to export my home directory; at home our Windows 7 laptop has Pictures and Documents libraries on the server in $HOME/Pictures and $HOME/Documents, at work the clapped out Windows XP laptop does the same to the linux box there. The Linux boxes run unison to synchronise files, so the copies are consistent between the two.

An added degree of complexity is that the pictures and documents folders are really $HOME/media/pics and $HOME/docs respectively, the Pictures and Documents folders are symbolic links to the real locations. This all came about because my folder structure in my home directory is old, terse and unixy and I'm happy with it.

All well and good... so far. Windows 7 doesn't seem to have any problems, although sometimes its a little slow to synchronise, especially if I've worked on the files from the Linux side of the universe, and periodically I get a couple of hundred of the particularly useless Microsoft error message that:

The process cannot access the file because it is being accessed by another process

Of course there's no bloody indication or identifiying features of either process!

The real weirdness is the Windows XP system. Sometimes, and I cannot narrow it down to when or why, other than it has happened both on hibernation and on power-down, when the XP system shuts off it will delete the symbolic link $HOME/Pictures from the server. Of course the next time it powers on it tries to re-establish the SMB share to \\blah\Pictures and can't until I've realised and remade the link!

None of the software on either Windows system seems to have any problems with the offline folders, except Google Picasa, unfortunately, which is my image manager of choice. The developers seem to be stuck in a pre-Vista "My Documents" mindset and it didn't seem to like Vista's naming of folders or Windows 7's concepts of Libraries. Some days I just cannot convince it to refresh its view of the folders and let me see photos that every other application on the machine can see.

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Mon, 29 Mar 2010

Fish in a barrel // at 16:00

OK, OK, so picking on the little paper is like shooting fish in a barrel... but surely sometime, somewhere, somehow, they could employ a high-school graduate or even a monkey from the zoo to proof-read these stories before they publish them:

...It lasted another 5km until the alleged driver and her teenage passengers finally abandoned the car when the tyre came completely away from the rim and made a run for it.

Don't you just hate it when the tyre comes off the rim and makes a run for it?

Or maybe:

A MAN dressed in camouflage used an archery-style bow to fire a steel-tipped hunting arrow...

Wow, amazing, just think he used a bow to fire an arrow! Extra points if you can think of absolutely anything else that the Herald Sun think you can fire an arrow from... perhaps a kazoo, or a mickey-mouse watch.


Tue, 16 Mar 2010

Canon E18 error strikes again // at 20:00

Went to turn on the IXUS 700 this evening to take a picture of Cam running around building towers in the kitchen and there was that horrible grinding noise from the plastic gears in the lens, three or four high pitched beeps and the dreaded message on the screen “E18”.


That'd be the error that seems to plague the IXUS cameras. The error that Canon refuses to acknowledge. The error the the Australian staff “had never heard of”. The error that my first IXUS700 thankfully got while under warranty and was replaced. The error that almost seems to inspire thoughts of products “not of merchantable quality” and “defective design.”

I guess I've had a reasonable run out of the camera, but I see no reason why I should have to spend big money because the bloody thing broke due to a fault that Canon built into them.

A bit of hunting around shows that the first one lasted from 2005-Jun-09 to 2006-Jan-03 — just on six months — then expired. The replacement took over two months to turn up, but I've been using it from 2006-Mar-06 up until last weekend — somewhere just over 4000 photos, it claims to be up to 4318, but has done some odd jumps when I've moved the memory card from a video camera back to the IXUS700.

Tomorrow I find out how much they want to repair an almost perfectly good camera that for four years has done almost everything I want. Sure, I'd prefer better macros and a better zoom, but anything else and I'd be giving up the convenience factor and the pocketability of the IXUS.



2010-Apr-07: Only three calendar weeks and I've got my camera back — a big improvement on my previous experience of Canon service. Newly repaired and hopefully good for another four years' use!
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Fri, 12 Mar 2010

Tomato festival, day 1 // at 21:00

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes.

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