Just Plain Bad Service

I almost lost two of my domains this week – a registrar / hosting company that will not be named decided to close them off without any notice – no email, letter or even a phone call.

15 minutes in a phone queue as the “next to be answered” and a debate with the tech on the other end finally got me the registry keys for both – I certainly won’t be renewing with them or asking for the accounts to be reopened, I’m already transferring them to my GoDaddy account.

Given their focus on “customer service” (even their technical support staff are “e-business consultants”) this is a MAJOR blot and I won’t tolerate it – no more business from me! It’s bad enough that they’re double the price of most offshore competitors but to close down accounts without notice is just plain intolerable.

The irony of the situation is that I worked at that hosting company for years and on realising this the tech at the other end started to agree with my assessment of the situation 🙂 Additionally I still know their systems better than some of the folks there now! (I talked him through the process of getting the keys)

I was quite pleased to see a WordPress 2.8.1 upgrade hit EPEL quite quickly – new features and a security rollup all in one and before I felt the desire to roll one up myself. Cheers Adrian! This release was rock solid and the upgrade the most painless on record.

My own packaging is slowing up a little due to so little out there that is a) not already packaged or b) not really ready. One I have given a test run is the Miredo client for IPv6/Teredo tunnelling. IPv6 tunnelling is widely available – many places will even have native connectivity – but for those cases where you are behind a restrictive NAT (or just want to tinker like I do) it’s an interesting alternative. Fedora packages from my usual repositories.

Revisting Nagios for monitoring – I can’t just walk over and look at a server several thousand miles away –  brought back a few memories, it took a bit more dusting off of the old knowledge  (I use Zabbix at work, they’re dragging me into using Xymon which I don’t like as much) but it’s working quite well and the EPEL/Fedora packages are kept well up to date. With puppet / func it’s even simpler to roll out the NRPE checks (which were always tedious when done by hand)

The SmokePing package has also been a boon in the workplace – I used it to successfully convince our network administrator that the packet loss we’d identified wasn’t our imagination and lo, it got fixed as we could track performance. Again it wasn’t hard to install and the configuration makes sense after a pint or two 🙂

My girlfriend and I have been getting back into yoga – “hot” yoga, which is the standard fare, just in a 35+ degree heat – and the timing is perfect; It’s been freezing here in Brisbane (10-20C on average, which is brisk for this part of the world) and I needed something to keep my mind in check. To my surprise I even held my form despite being away from it for a month or more 🙂

Too Fscking Clever

  • If you have six discrete crontabs for a relatively small set of tasks instead of two (or even just one) you may be Too Fscking Clever.
  • If your SQL statement has five or more JOINS in it, you may be Too Fscking Clever (or a web development framework ORM)
  • If you are asked to forward ports to a host and instead DNAT the entire IP address, you may find that your Too Fscking Clever-ness will bite your arse when the usage case changes. Thinking it won’t is a sign of severe Too Fscking Clever Syndrome.
  • “We should cache this data for as long as humanly possible (what’s stale data?)” or “We should only cache this in RAM for 5mins (and refetch from a  large table?)” are classic Too Fscking Clever symptoms.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of Too Fscking Clever syndrome, often identifiable as a frequent need to overengineer what should be a simple solution, invite design by committee or overthink a problem ignoring practical usage cases and requirements,  suggest seeking immediate help before TFC develops into Solution Looking For A Problem Disease, which can in turn lead to madness or a career in Windows Server administration.

Treatment often involves simple counselling (of the W. Venema “what problem are you actually trying to solve” method or similar), introduction to Occam’s Razor, or in extreme cases flogging the subject with a copy of Plan 9 until s/he has an epiphany and tries to simply just get the job done.

This has been a Public Service Announcement.

Can sanity prevail? Here’s hoping.

Christian lobby upset about Australian government backtracking on Internet Censorship

I’ve one word to say about this: good. The whole sorry mess that is the Australian net censorship debate has become an international embarrassment. It is not or will be feasible technically (something the august members of SAGE-AU have pointed out many, many times – and they should know) is wide open to abuse and scope creep – and has never been about “protecting children”, ever (let’s be honest here!).

There’s already “parental responsbility” and personal filtering software (for those that want it) to police kids’ online usage. Nationwide national filters are massive overkill for this – unless that wasn’t the *real* reason 😛

(I found the “if you’re against the filter you don’t care about the children/have something to hide” troll from the likes of Child Wise personally offensive, being an adult and a knowledgeable professional. “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining” – Anon)

I’m also pleased to see that seperation of church and state still means something here (and did the pro-filtering  lobby really expect not to be cast aside by politicians when convenient for the latter? They’re pollies – CYA is their mantra and measure time in periods between polls!)

On other matters: I’ve spent a little bit of time getting the (thankfully few) bugs in my packages cleaned up (pyicq-t will appear for Enterprise Linux really soon, I promise you – CVS branches are pending), signed up for identi.ca (as “thatfleminggent” – I’m impressed with the XMPP/OpenID integration so far) and tinkered with a few projects that took my fancy – integrating FDS/”389″ into my local network, setting up Asterisk, continued learning some search engine voodoo for the GF’s website.

There will be a “thatfleminggent” package set for Leonidas, as usual I’m not 100% sure what form it will take and what will be retired / added.

Looking over Planet Fedora, I should probably learn a language or two as I think I’m missing some good non-English content 🙂

The Sir Humphrey Appleby Award goes to…

ObFedoraContent: I have now permanently retired the Fedora 7 and Fedora 8 sections of my repository. As I mentioned a few nights ago, those with older releases should really consider upgrading to a supported release or move to RHEL/CentOS. Cheers.

Skip the rest if you’re only wanting things Linux/Fedora related. I don’t mind 🙂

Telstra lays down the law on Twitter


Most of this is the standard “if you do this in an official capacity identify yourself appropriately and don’t disparage the company” wording you’d expect to see from business and that is fair enough.

However, the verbal flotsam around unofficial personal usage is both hilarious and worrying all at once:

They are required to complete an accreditation process and undergo training to update their “knowledge on emerging social trends and evolving best practice in social media”.

This coming from Telstra, whom Australians know understand very little aside taking their subscriber’s money and providing poor to no service? It’s like getting lessons in etiquette from a hillbilly. It will keep the many Brazil-like layers of middle mismanagement there busy for maybe a week, most of it time to discuss forming a committee to investigate the feasibility of research into the impact of such social media.

And this:

A difficult aspect of the guidelines to enforce is the section governing the use of the sites in a personal capacity. If the employee refers to Telstra, they are expected to identify themselves as an employee of the company and ensure they do not imply they are authorised to speak on Telstra’s behalf. “Use a permanent disclaimer if you are referring regularly to Telstra or Telstra-related issues,” the guidelines specify.

Again I think Captain Obvious comes to the rescue here. In this country almost no one has a good word to say about Telstra. If it’s critical it’s sure as hell not officially sanctioned making disclaimers redundant. If it’s positive (and not a press release or prank) then I’d be checking out my window for four shifty characters on horseback.

Asking the poor sods slaving for Telstra to have to publicly out themselves as such seems a bit cruel and unusual 🙂

And frankly a) what right does a company have to influence the personal views of their employees in such a manner anyway and b) are their management  / PR / media people such sensitive flowers that any sort of criticism needs to be suppressed in such a manner? (Overtly or otherwise – noone’s going to mention them if some lame disclaimer is mandated!) My $DEITY people! The rod up your arses must have rods up their arses! A good corporate culture needs constructive criticism and open debate if it’s going to go anywhere…

Fortunately I am not a Telstra employee, nor have I played one on TV (I am however tempted to play one on Twitter for the ironic value)

I have however had the misfortune of working for a company whom Telstra outsourced to (sort of; we took over one of their online divisions, my team effectively making several disgruntled DBAs effectively redundant) so I can say this just as I want to:

Telstra: You couldn’t get a clue if you were in a room full of in-heat clues covered in clue musk. The Peter Principle really wasn’t meant to be used as a management KPI but you’ve managed to do just that and the poor serfs underneath them are treated like expendable worker drones. Trying to counsel them on media relations is insulting to their intelligence as your PR/Marketing has treated the public like morons for years. Don’t pee on my foot and tell me it’s raining. Thanks.

Oh, we know why you’re doing it, don’t tell us it’s not about Fake Stephen Conroy. 🙂 If Leslie Nasser hadn’t done it someone would have – we’ve all been completely Stephen Conroy after about a dozen schooners and a couple of shots. Don’t look so surprised.

Don’t deny the public some potentially comic genius from employees and – more importantly – what really happens within the effective monopoly telco in my great land.

Smallish things.

Well, one thing is fairly important if you’re a long time user. “enlartenment.com” is gradually going away.

I’ve had the domain for what seems like forever and no one seems to understand the etymology. In essence it’s a bit hackish – a mashup of “enlightenment” and “LART”. Previous webpages here explained it but I got the feeling it never came across well. “thatfleminggent.com” seems much better, cleaner, easier to understand. Most of my traffic comes to that domain now, especially since the move to WordPress for most things.

I’ve moved most of my email to @thatfleminggent.com now, so gradually it’ll just drift off until I bother not to renew.

On other matters – Vodafone is in my bad books. I went to upgrade my phone from a Nokia 6500 Slide to a Blackberry Storm (useful for work) but after giving me the 3rd degree re: identity and doing the paperwork they wouldn’t give me the phone!

The antiquated garbage that they call a “billing system” still shows an outstanding balance, despite me being paid up – I even gave them the transaction number from the bank. Fucking idiots. They can take the money OK – the bank confirmed the transfer – but they haven’t gotten around to processing it yet. This is 2009 for fuck’s sake – have they got some old woman with an old calculator doing their accounts? Unacceptable in this day and age.

I too see the “new” Facebook, and yes, I think it looks like Twitter too. So much for the vaunted innovation of “Web 2.D’oh”! 🙂

That said, I’ll at least have The Jacket (which has taken forever to pay off :-)), a replacement Bluetooth dongle to replace my semi-broken one – and hopefully some better hosting (the Aussie dollar is steady, which is good)


Inquiring minds want to know how the following didn’t turn into a Darwin Awards nomination:

Coming home from drinks with my good friend Steven, I was stopped and asked for directions by a middle aged couple in a reasonably priced car. This part is fine.

However, they chose to stop me at the traffic lights. On a one way street. Facing and headed the wrong way – a fact they seemed oblivious to.

To top it off, they were asking how to get to the Gold Coast Highway, which doesn’t really exist. The Pacific Highway will get them to the Gold Coast, which is about an hour in the opposite direction to where they were going.

To top off the idiocy – after thanking me they proceeded to turn into the bus lane and speed off – again, the wrong way.

Oh, and before anyone asks – they sounded very British and a lot more sober than I.


Folks, just buy a map, or a TomTom/Garmin/GPS-of-choice….