Category Archives: noise

Also, updates

mysql> delete from wp_comments where comment_approved=0;
 Query OK, 16330 rows affected, 40 warnings (0.59 sec)

*updates wordpress, disables comments, leaves Disqus to do the rest*

A Lament

This post will not mention anything new. It will not say anything someone else hasn’t before. It serves only as a landmark, a waypoint, a memory.

This post is about weev. In recent months he’s been found guilty on a bunch of bullshit charges, and today he’s been sentenced. I won’t go into the details. Other people already have (here’s the transcript, here’s the Wired search results for his name. Check around on twitter for #freeweev. Here’s another site about it. Have fun.)

I came to know him online/on IRC very briefly, but from the first supported his side of things. weev has often been described as unpleasant (to put it very mildly). I don’t much care for that. weev’s cool, and anyone who’s spent even a bit of time talking to him will tell you that. He’s also effectively the fallguy in this whole story. He went ahead and pissed on the shoes of AT&T, and now he’s being put away for 41 months (along with restitution). For making it known that people’s information (to whatever extent) was available on a public webserver, and all you needed to do was be able to look at/modify a URL, and do math (add 1 to the identifier at the end of it). There’s a number of things that work this way. Hell, twitter status updates are posted in numerical order. A few years ago they used to have the global firehose of all content available. Viewing that without permission could’ve been equated to breaking the law (under this ruling).

This probably sets quite a fucked precedent. There’s a lot to be said about it. But I say only this: it fucking sucks. Tons. And I hope that this situation can change. :(

P.S. for anyone who wants an idea of weev’s character, this is it: “No matter what the outcome, I will not be broken. I am antifragile.” — @rabite

This is a rage post.

Seriously, if you don’t care about rage (or politics, or beyond-fucked-in-the-head idiots, or …), don’t read this post.

Hey FPB, fuck you. Yes, I said fuck. That’s a swearword. Stick it up your ass.

Here’s a copy of Brett Murray’s ‘The Spear':

The Spear, Brett Murray

Here’s a copy of it when it became more expensive. You know, after some mouth-fuming idiots splashed more paint on it:

hey look, moar monies

And guess what, you can’t do shit. Censor it for age 16? Require measures barring underage people from accessing it? Fuck that. You people need your world adjusted, it’s a little bit closed off at the moment.


I blame Kim for this post, since he had misspelled ‘bouquet’ in some places by accident.

Productive, a cooperative limerick by Johan and myself.

There once was a garden in Phuket,
Where a man did buy a bouquet.
Alas the bouquet was flawed,
And on his nerves it so gnawed,
That he fin’ly said “phuket” and chucked it.

(And if you want to complain, I ask you to please keep this link in mind)

Billing Failure

Alternative post title: No, really, I’m not kidding. I *really* want to give you money.

Part of the software stack/services that we have at my employer is a billing system for ISP environments. Given this, the typical features you would imagine to have in your billing system for such an environment would include the ability to bill for physical connections as well as services rendered over those connections. Possibly even just having the services without the connection. Do we have all of those? Check. Other things you might want? Hmm, let’s see, online management of your products and services? Check. Ability to pay online using credit card etc? Check. Fault logging? Check. The reason I list all these things? Because I want to show that I’m not completely unfamiliar with billing systems and/or the challenges associated with them.

With that all in mind, let’s go over to the Telkom SA billing site to pay our DSL connection bill (check out all the options you have for doing this over here).

So I do all the things required for getting my bill online [edit: I've actually done this a few months ago, this post is just coming up now because the issue is causing me problems now] and then open it here, as the page says I should. Hey great, it shows me some stuff!

Not too bad so far. Let me click on that View bill online link on the side.

Well, uh, that’s nice. No listed invoices. And the My Accounts page linked to from the first paragraph takes me to the page I just navigated from. Can’t view past invoices or search for any with success either. So I have no option for immediately paying my bill and get to go with any of the other options that range from mildly to highly inconvenient for me. Great, thanks.

I’m attempting to contact the Telkom Online Billing department, and will be using this URL as the summary of the complaint; mostly because I’ve gotten so damned tired with having to spend 5 minutes repeating the issue to every new person in the callcenter that I get redirected to each time I phone in an attempt to sort this crap out. Who knows, with any luck I might even be able to get some useful information about how other people could solve this if they also run into it.

On Clouds and Wavey Hands

A friend of mine, Jonathan, was recently busy investigating some web technologies for bootstrapping a project he’s starting on and during his search for easy non-local database alternatives he came across this post that compares offerings from Microsoft and Amazon. Upon reading the post, the following quote caught my eye:

“Not surprisingly, the access to SimpleDB is much faster from inside Amazon’s network than from outside (about three times as fast). Searching the web can lead to some references about how Amazon has optimized its internal networks so that internal access to the different services is much faster than outside access. To me, it seems as a form of lock-in, not a desirable feature, …”

I’ve ranted a bit about a lack of infrastructure understanding before, so even so I encounter something every now and then which leaves me impressed with how little people in general seem to care about how things work; or, otherwise put, with only caring that they work. I’m reminded of the one scene somewhere in the series of The Matrix movies:

Neo: Why don’t you tell me what’s on your mind, Councillor?
Councillor Harmann: There is so much in this world that I do not understand. See that machine? It has something to do with recycling our water supply. I have absolutely no idea how it works. But I do understand the reason for it to work.

Both parts of that statement hold true, and I feel that it’s the latter part that people sometimes miss out on. To bring my point back to the original excerpt, I feel it’s somewhat silly to point out the fact of higher latency access without indicating that you attempted to get an understanding of what causes this, especially if you then want to jump to the next point of saying “it feels like lock-in”. Certainly it’s true that Amazon would try to improve the offering within their network, as it just makes sense to bundle a good services experience, but there are factors to consider when using this sort of service from elsewhere, factors which influence things to varying degrees. The foremost I’d list among these is physics: it takes time for the digital to reach from one location to another, because there’s various forms of media conversion likely to take place (light-to-copper, copper-to-light), there’s routing and switching which needs to happen, there’s probably some service-specific firewalling, loadbalancing and application-server interfacing likely to happen. The list goes from these “run of the mill” items which you’ll encounter on a regular basis to other things such as TCP setup time (which can also influence things in various ways depending on a whole other set of factors).

On a bigger scale, this sort of almost cargo cult thinking is pervasive in various different areas of life, and a quote from Arthur C. Clarke comes to mind: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. At the end of the day, I’m a big advocate for understanding how something works, as well as pushing boundaries and trying to improve things. So while I don’t think we should ever just sit back and be complacent with how things are, I do also think that we should strive to understand just that little bit more than we need to. I feel it’s usually, perhaps always, that extra little bit which puts us ahead of just “churning” and into the position of actually producing something just a little bit better.

Even though that little bit might not be much, a few hundred/thousand/hundred-thousand/… of it adds up. Hopefully I’m not just preaching to the choir with my current audience, but that someone else might also come across this post. And, as always, comments and thoughts welcome!

A Post Most Significantly Devoid

….of any sensationalism whatsoever. Or of any content in any form. This post is just for a URL that one can see without a crushing feeling of disappointment overwhelming you when there is, in fact, no feat or image of epic proportions in said post.

Here, have a picture of some spaghetti:

(Mental note: set up category-based RSS feeds too)

[edit] P.S. I blame daffy

To the early adopters^Wclickers

I thank you for your quick clicking! Soon there will be more content here. Tonight I’m just painting the shed…

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!