Presto, We Have No Gallery!

Fedora / Linux stuff:

For those users of my package set, you can now use yum-presto to grab deltarpms of my packages for Fedora 10 and 11. This should make your life easier – I know my upstream link isn’t always fast so the less traffic over it the better for you guys – it’s a good thing I don’t do 120+mb packages like Danger From The Deep anymore eh? :-). Feedback welcomed as always.

The last push of Fedora updates hit my local mirror and mostly played nice, except Gallery2 which leads me to:

General Non-Linux-Specific Stuff:

… the gallery, which has borked itself. Oh Gallery2, why do you mock me?

I used to keep a bunch of old photos – taken or just collected, under /gallery.

As some were of an ex-acquaintance of mine, Tina Wallmann, they proved quite popular and widely linked to (she’s a bikini model and has large *ahem* tracts of land :-))

But they’re old, we’ve long since parted company (have not seen her in a couple of years and she seems disinterested in old friends back here in Brisbane, having moved on to a different crowd in Sydney) and it tends to detract from more interesting content on the site, I’ve decided to let ’em go. I’ll get less page impressions, but it’s quality not quantity I’d prefer. Gentlemen will just have to look elsewhere for their “evening private entertainment”.

The remnants I’ve pushed up to Flickr and integrated into my WordPress install via Fidgetr. It’s a decent compromise I think.

Scale and speed and spam

Obligatory Laugh-and-head-shake digression: I’ve been fighting email spam for 12 years plus, and I still see stupid spammers – pardon the tautology – indiscriminately junkmailing abuse@  role addresses. Idiots. Why not just offer crack to a cop?

With that thought out of the way…

Mike McGrath’s memcached plug prompted me to give it a go here, for well, two reasons.

a) I’ve had some (good) experiences in the workplace with it – it’s a boon for database intensive web apps especially and b) because I can and it’s there (which is always a good reason in my ever humble view)

Memcached itself is always a fairly simple install for Fedora – Install via yum (including memcached-selinux if you’re running SELinux – and if you aren’t why not! :-)), give it some options via /etc/sysconfig/memcached eg. CACHESIZE=”64″ (at home, usually “1024” at work because their app is a lot heavier) start it up and point clients at it.

WordPress was a touch trickier – there isn’t an “official” WordPress plugin, with a client available buried in WordPress Plugins version control ( – which has worked well – if you’re reading this it’s not killed my blog.

To install, grab the above file(s) and drop the object-cache.php file in /usr/share/wordpress/wp-content, set “WP_CACHE” to “true” in wp-config.php and you’re most of the way there.

On the server side, memcached-tool’s “stats” command should start seeing increases in cache hits/misses and cached object numbers.

Adding Andy Skelton’s batcache plugin can help to fine-tune what and how it caches – it’s functional but not as “click-and-drool” as many WP plugins, but how much tweaking do you need to do really?

Drupal was a similar adventure I’ll go into elsewhere; there’s a reasonably simple to install plugin from – download, drop into /etc/drupal/all/modules, configure and enable –  and the results just as good.

I was surprised to find related Perl packages not in the main repository (Other major languages are covered – my workplace couldn’t survive without the Python bindings :-)) so I whipped up a package of Cache::Memcached 1.26 (also for RHEL/CentOS) on my own repository, plus I’ll be uploading it for review for Fedora proper[2] as a Perl-using systems admin it’s just too useful not to have (monitoring / stats-gathering scripts for a start :-))

In my continued masquerade as a web developer/SEO maven (which isn’t fooling anyone, I know!) I’ve spent too much time looking at analytics to the point of my poor old eyes turning square and developing line graphs burnt in to my retinas.

At least that’s been a little successful. I have one sticking point in the development side, which is avoiding / dumping web form spam. I could use CAPTCHA but I forsee a lot of visitors finding it off-putting, which is undesirable (it’s for my girlfriend’s business venture). I could use Akismet but that seems more suited to blogging, alas (and I’d need to package the PHP PEAR apps for it anyway).

I’m welcome to other suggestions as always.

[1] well, if you’re not reading Planet Fedora via an aggregator anyway..
[2]  Update at 9:07pm AEST: Bug #504403 if someone is keen.

Result may be fit, social with an open messaging standard on top.

Techie Happenings:

I’ve been tinkering with more XMPP (Jabber to you oldies) messaging in general, as it happens. I’ve had a look at the python Yahoo transport and found it a little lacking – it’s config is a little too different to the python MSN / ICQ / AIM transports than I’d personally like, which I’m already packaging and running plus it tends to die/misbehave at unusual times. It has been worth a look though and if enough people would want it, I’ll make the RPM available – but be warned it’s not really to my usual standard.

Speaking of which, there’s a persistent room for chatting around the packages generally – just as an experiment and because I can – at

I’m still tinkering / debugging my publish-subscribe nodes for (Ejabberd for those interested). I’m sure I’ve configured it right with PEP (Personal Eventing) but I wonder how strong support is client side? Gajim does some PEP (Mood/Activity/Tune for instance) but it updates sporadically if at all.

(Which leads me to wonder how widespread support for that and Service Discovery protocol are client-side, as aside Gajim/PSI it seems sparse and many XMPP goodies are unseen without it. I’d be keen to know more from those in the know)

I’ve signed up on (as “thatfleminggent“) and liking it – there’s less noise and spambot followers than Twitter and some very nice XMPP/OpenID integration too.

Better support from the Windows clients would be nice (twhirl does but it’s in the minority, and I’ve preferred TweetDeck or TwitterFox when on a Win desktop) but the Linux clients have been fabulous, especially the current Gwibber version in Fedora.

While there’s been a few “oh no, a slip!” comments being bandied around the tubes regarding the Leonidas release, it’s being done for good reasons. Your august poster here has seen his share of *ahem* “Gold” releases from commercial vendors (no, not just Microsoft but I’ve seen lots of theirs over the years) that many FOSS devs would regard as paper-bag. There’s nothing worse than that corner case bug that inevitably bites us (because Murphy loves a systems tech) so it’s good to delay and get it right than get it out quick and brace for a mess.

Oh, and a protip for those converting local shell accounts to LDAP (or similar) – be prepared to get some uid/gid mismatches unless you’ve been REALLY careful :-). I just did and thought I had consistent ID’s before, but no such luck. It’s trivial to reorganize though.

Life In General:

My girlfriend, bless her heart is a fitness buff and that means that of course yours truly will be convinced to give her current “hey here’s an idea to improve our health” ideas a go.

Thursday’s “let’s go for a good walk” turned out to be a marathon, possibly literally. I’m not sure if I covered a complete 25miles (~42km for those of us on the metric system) on Thursday but it felt like it. This was followed by Friday’s “just a bit of a jog up some stairs” – a 30 degree incline and a 200m stretch! (colloquially known as “The Hill” at Teneriffe in Brisbane) a half dozen times with minimal rest..

Of course I can’t feel anything but lactic acid from the knees down now (I’m not in possession of a runner’s build – I was a weightlifter / shotputter in my youth)

My better half is of course as good as gold 😀

Went to see Angels and Demons (the inner UNIX geek keeps wanting to write it as “Daemons”) on Wednesday night. Not as good as The DaVinci Code, but still better than a lot of the fluff in my local cinemas at the moment. It also helps my local cinema is licensed; a bottle of wine helps get through some poorly chosen movies..

I’m headed back to the office on Monday – feeling better after a break, knowing nothing’s gone amiss in my absence, with a few ideas on how to improve things (equals “make my job easier”) in the back of my mind 🙂

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 (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 🙂

Spamford: Clue resistance writ large.

I was a NANAE (, the Usenet anti-spam frontline) regular back when Sanford Wallace decided – with great fanfare and all manner of self-aggrandisement – to cease email / usenet spamming. $DEITY knows how many cyberpromo-sourced spam messages I  got back in the (pre-DNSBL pre-Bayes pre-anything-but-procmail-filters) day.

Those that thought he’d just lay low for quite a while and keep on spamming were of course dead on the money.  Once a lying, thieving scumbag, always a lying thieving scumbag.

Now this – he’s been banned by court order from MySpace. I’m no fan of Murdoch (I believe News Limited own MySpace now) but a cage-match to the death between the two would be something I’d pay to see.

Enjoy the (lack of) fruits of your dishonesty Spammy…

Offline, again.

Sorry to readers / visitors again for another extended outage. This one is again not my doing but this time there’s been a happier ending.

I elected on Friday to churn my ADSL service to Internode (a fairly large ISP here in Australia) as they provide a decent service and I get a discount as a member of the System Administrator’s Guild of Australia.

Their advertised turnaround time was 20 days(!) so I’d put in my intention to close my current DSL service (see previous posts) in 30 days as required by contract. The story of what happened there has already been posted below 😉

This time, I dropped off-air at around 11 (or so Nagios told me) – I actually went home to check the console to see a bunch of CHAP password errors. Opened my ticket with WC and added that I’m offline again, can someone have a look. Of course, they have no idea.

As it turns out, Telstra had switched my line over to the Agile DSLAM used by Internode some time that day – but noone told me, Internode and Webcentral. I only cottoned on when a reboot of my router saw it train using ADSL2+ modulation and a line speed of close to 18Mbps. A call to Internode got me the login details needed, some IP config changes, tickets to update DNS and voila – I’m back baby at a much swifter speed!

So this tale has a happy ending.

Mike takes on social networking sites; declares a draw

I’ve historically been loathe to take on social networking sites, knowing from past experience both as a user and administrator the pitfalls and headaches they can be.

Plus, some people using them are just plain fucking weird and/or gratuitously offensive because they think they’re anonymous (have I got bad news for *you*!).
I prefer to do my networking in 3space (ie the real world for you non-geeks) as the written word tends to be limiting when you want to get an idea / emotion across.

But I’ve relented.

I’m not exactly sure what prompted it, but I’ve signed on for LinkedIn, the nice, polite professional networker’s site and lo, in less than 3 weeks I’ve got 20 connections. Mostly these are old cow-orkers but hey, I’m not knocking it. It’s disgustingly simple to use and for a professional, especially one in technology-related fields beats writing a resume and having some dolt of a headhunter (not) read it.

I’ve also taken on MySpace (see my June 19 post) as I wanted to make a comment on a friend’s profile but can’t without an account.

So far it’s not beaten me yet but it’s interface and general tendency to shove ads down your throat grates a little. I’ll hack on the site when time and patience permit but it’s not a priority as I like my sanity.

On the other hand, it’s refreshingly humbling to be a complete n00b online, as being new to something on the Internet is a feeling I thought I’d forgotten. I’ve not racked up the same number of connections as LinkedIn (lots of spam and bogus friend requests though!) but for what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality[1] – only three friends (that Tom bloke gets around doesn’t he?[2] :-)) but two are the nicest girls I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in Tina and Angie – thanks heaps for the additions, you’ve made my week and I as always wish you well in anything and everything you do.

Next stops: (I already do Digg and Mugshot)

Oh, and RSVP / Lavalife even though I dread the idea (and I still have only crap shots of myself – which will not help matters.)

*picks up hiking staff and wanders off*

[1] Even with the horrible photos in my profile
[2] Yeah, I know he’s the MySpace “guide” – 404 Humour not found there eh?

I’m so bored I could listen to Yes.

It’s Saturday, I’ve got a sore throat and I’m on call. Not particularly happy at the moment but things could be worse.

In pushing out a couple of small updates to the site tonight I remembered that a “bzr merge” will of course set the timestamps on any merged files, so when I synced the changes – pop, updated are all the dates on the pages (as the footer takes the file’s modification time to determine the last change in the page).

As I’d merged my development tree back to the stable one (the website you actually see) on the 5th, there’s now a bunchteen pages which incorrectly think they’ve been updated. Bugger.

I love bazaar as a version control system, especially after experience with CVS and Subversion, but that’s gonna be a pain in the arse. I might put a comparison of my experiences in the tech wiki sometime in the future.

However, my aside has worked well (and the cleanup hasn’t been painful for people) so that’s a good thing. This is also the first post using Drivel (GNOME blog client) so we’ll see how it works.

I also picked up the Zoo Weekly edition with the ever-gorgeous Tina in it. The one page she was on has been scanned and in the gallery if you want a look at it. I’m not much on the magazine (it sits precariously between the wannabe-GQ of Maxim/Ralph and the Playboy-for-Bogans that is Picture / People) but I’ll support a friend anytime.

I’ve put the Litany Against Fear on my Quotes page. For those that don’t know it, it’s from Frank Herbert’s Dune series, used by the Bene Gesserit sisterhood (and Paul Muad’Dib / Leto II) as a means of focusing their minds in times of stress. It’s a handy little mantra, and I may well expound on it’s uses later on…

However, I’ve got a cup of coffee brewing and a DVD to watch, so I’m off.

Random Post #2042007


Tina Wallmann has won Zoo Weekly’s Beach Girl Comp 2007

Congratulations! I’m not normally a Zoo Weekly reader but I’ll pick up this one (I hope they’re better to you than they were Lara Bingle)

Mercedes Corby is suing Today Tonight

That’s Karma for you. someone has to keep the 6:30 tabloid trash honest, may as well be via the legal system.


The April Fool’s Jokes on the web this year. Most of my regular sites didn’t bother or make much of an effort (Google tried too hard with TISP and Google Paper; Fark had a rather poor “we’ve been hacked” image in Demotivator style, Slashdot a ratings system ripoff that managed to be even worse than the pink “OMGPONIES” shite they pulled last year) but there was one unexpected site that came up with the goods.


A good April Fool’s joke is like good trolling – subtle and believable. Most Australian internet users are well aware of both the Government’s ineptitude towards technology and it’s overwhelming Conservative desire to keep it’s corporate and moralist masters happy. So when the above went up, the resulting response was the expected Howard-bashing – not until later was it revealed it was actually an AF gag. Good job there Simon (you even had me thinking twice)

I may need to lay low for a while :-):

In Fedora-land news I’ve checked in mod_security packages 2.1.0 for Core 6 and Core 5 (they’ve been in Rawhide for a while now)

It’s going to piss some less-attentive folks i’ll wager, so I’m expecting some bug reports and stick from the userbase. But as it also fixes a moderate vulnerability it had to happen (plus 1.9.x isn’t really well supported anymore)

Expect it to hit the mirrors tomorrow.

I also updated GeoIP to 1.4.2, but while fixing one stupid typo in my contributed code (the fetch-geoip-*.pl scripts) left another brown-paper-bag effort in. Perhaps when 1.4.3 comes out…


I need to fill out the Wiki (there’s some basic stuff there now, including my mail stats for you to chuckle at). I might move the Code and Anti-Spam stuff in there too.

More pics in the gallery. I’ve managed to keep my Google results in shape by intelligent redirection via mod_rewrite, and someone’s still looking at them. I figure I may as well put something good in there (“More Tina!” say the peanut gallery?)

New site design – it’s here!

It’s arrived!

In case you’ve missed the rest of the site, I’ve pushed the staging branch to the world in it’s black and green(ish) glory. It may not to be to all tastes but at least it’s better than the old layout.

It doesn’t validate yet, but I’m working on that. It’s CSS does, but it still looks weird on IE. Then again, that’s Internet Explorer’s rendering for you. If you don’t like it, well, tough shit. 🙂

There’s still a little work to do – I’ll probably put the code and anti-spam stuff in the tech wiki I’ve started up (note to self: populate the wiki with Useful Information) . The Gallery is incomplete too (the Buddha Birthday stuff should have got it’s own album. I’m sure I’ve got more pics of Tina and a couple more gag shots.

The servers are now in better shape – the power supply in Qbert has been replaced with a 450W model (that for some reason closes down after a minute if there’s no keyboard attached at boot!?). It’s been great otherwise. The extra exhaust fan has been a benefit too, the box is much cooler.

I also took the opportunity to move some stuff around – the servers, modems/switches and such have primarily been on the same curcuit, something I’ve now rectified as much as possible. No point in stressing the UPS unless it’s necessary 😉