Category Archives: Rants
Who is really responsible?
<![CDATA[Last week, a Houston family filed a lawsuit against the MySpace social networking website. According to this article from The Register: “Myspace didn’t act quickly enough to protect users who are minors from adult predators. The plaintiffs say their daughters were solicited and abused by adults using the site.”
[rant mode on]
At what point did parents stop being responsible for the care of their children, and children stop being responsible for their own actions? When did MySpace (or Facebook, or Yahoo, or any other website) take over that role in the raising of a child? I’ve talked with parents, and I’m going to be one in a few months. Parents must take an active role in their child’s development, including monitoring what they do on the computer, or who their friends are. This includes knowing the parents of their friends and how those parents raise their own children.
[rant mode off] In the Houston case, I seem to recall that the mother had blocked internet access on their home computer, or they didn’t have a computer. So, the daughter used her cell phone’s browser to go to MySpace, or a computer at a friend’s house. This goes back to being involved, both with the child and the parents of the child’s friends. MySpace cannot be responsible because someone using their free, unmonitored service lied about their age or lured an irresponsible teenager into a compromised situation. Consider MySpace and the other sites as “common carriers”: just like the phone company is not responsible for someone using the telephone to plan a robbery, or Cingular would not responsible for someone using a cell phone to trigger a bomb, MySpace and other social networking sites cannot be victimized by someone who is willing to lie to get somewhere. If MySpace implements the new rules they are discussing, it’s simply going to generate hundreds of additional profiles; more people who will lie that they are either over age or under age to meet the people they are targeting. Short of turning into a pay service, and alienating their current major userbase (most of whom probably don’t have credit cards or paypal accounts), I don’t see any changes that will substantially alter the current situation. I really hope that the courts decide to throw out this case, with prejudice, and make those filing the lawsuit pay their own legal fees. Along with a stern lecture about parenting. Maybe that will make people think twice in this “I don’t like you I’m going to sue” society.]]>
lessons in system configuration
<![CDATA[I'm sure this will be an ongoing topic...I'm working on a new mailserver to replace a box that is excruciatingly underpowered. Even though it's only running about a dozen users, it's a Pentium II/400 maxing out 256MB of physical RAM and swapping over 60MB regularly. This wasn't a real problem until I decided to upgrade my spam filtering backend (amavisd-new, SpamAssassin/ClamAV and Maia Mailguard,with a dose of policyd greylisting daemon). The system restarted everything fine, but then came to a screeching halt as amavisd completely swamped the RAM in the system and everything slowed to a crawl. Unfortunately, the RAM in the system is maxed out and I can't add any more.
Well, a couple of weeks ago I ordered a new system to replace this venerable dinosaur. The new box is a BioStar IDEQ N1, Sempron64 2800+, 1GB of PC3200 (400MHz) RAM. I’m recycling a spare 20GB drive, and loading with Fedora Core 4 (I don’t like 5 or 6…the MySQL 5 installed breaks some of the web apps that I use).
Now, on to the lesson of the day:
I started setting up the box last week with custom-compiled versions of Postfix, Dovecot IMAP server and several other packages. Now I’m starting to configure things to closely match the existing mail server, including Samba. This makes some administrative tasks a bit easier, like updating some web pages (this basically only hosts SquirrelMail and PostfixAdmin). There’s not much web service to do, but Samba makes it easier to move logfiles to the Windows box and copy new files over without having to run FTP or wget all the time. The problems started after I copied the smb.conf file (Samba config) from the existing server to the new box. I tweaked it, fixed some server-specific settings, and set it off. First, it wouldn’t even see itself as an SMB server. found and fixed that. Then, it appeared to be fighting with my WINS server (another Linux box) to be the master browser. Fixed that setting too. Finally was able to resolve itself by name and local IP. Now to get it to see the rest of the network (and the rest of the network to see it, as well). OK…started through the diagnostics document from Samba. Step 1…good. Step 2…good. Step 3…er…step 3….errors. Troubleshooting was going nowhere. 45 minutes later, had a thought…firewall? Iptables was running, since this box faces both the internet and my local lan on different NICs. turned off iptables and gee…it works! Start tweaking around with firewall rules. Seems the syntax has changed slightly between the Fedora Core 1 and Fedora Core 4 versions, so the rules from the old box don’t quite work on the new one. Found the system-config-firewall-tui utility, and set up custom rules for the right ports, and restarted both iptables then samba. Gee wiz, it works now! I can see it from the other computers, and it finds the rest of the network too! Well, that was a good waste of several hours that I’ll never get back. I guess the next step is to set up Postfix, policyd, amavisd and the new MailZu web interface for amavis. Oh, and pray that Dovecot 1.0 final will make it out in the next two weeks before I’m ready to bring the new monster live….
Exactly what is Christmas for, anyway?
<![CDATA[I've made a disturbing observation in the past few weeks: it appears that the non-Catholic churches have forgotten that Christmas is time to recognize and remember the birth of CHRIST. So, why does it seem that the bible churches, mega-churches (yes, I mean you, Joel Osteen and Ed Young) and most of the other protestant congregations have decided that actually holding a service ON Christmas Day is such a big inconvenience to their members? Is taking an hour or two out of your Christmas morning too much to ask to give for the child Jesus who ultimately gave us Himself? Anyone who says “But Christmas is ‘family time’!” doesn’t get the real reason we celebrate this day. Sure, spend the day with your family. But FIRST, spend it with the birthday Boy.
It’s no secret to anyone reading this that I’m Catholic, and proud of it. Catholics, this year, will be attending Mass on Sunday for the weekly obligation, and on Monday for the Christmas Holy Day (at least, they’re *supposed* to….)
Now, for a little rambling and perhaps a history story….
It’s widely accepted that Christ was not actually born on December 25, 1 A.D. Which, since the Gregorian calendar we now go by wasn’t even created at the time, makes sense….
If Jesus was born ~5-6 B.C., as is supposed, and Herod had all children under the age of 2 killed shortly before his own death in ~4 B.C., and Herod’s action was triggered by the appearance of the “three wise men”, then the Eastern astrologers didn’t show up in Bethlehem, but two years after Jesus birth, most likely in Nazareth!
The “12 days of Christmas” start on either December 25th or 26th, and end on January 5 or 6th, depending on which source you check. January 6th is the celebration of the Epiphany, and also referred to as the “Feast of the Three Kings”. This is at the end of the celebration of the Christmas season, preceding the return the following Sunday to “Ordinary Time” in the Church calendar.
And one more related topic…about those Three Kings and their strange gifts. Why gold? Why frankincense (incense)? Why myrrh? If you read the words of the traditional carol “We Three Kings”, you get your answers. Each of the second, third and fourth verses are spoken from the view of each of the kings: Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar.
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain/Gold I bring to crown Him again/King forever, ceasing never/Over us all to reign
Frankincense to offer have I;/Incense owns a Deity nigh;/Prayer and praising, all men raising,/Worship Him, God most high.
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume/Breathes a life of gathering gloom;/Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,/Sealed in the stone cold tomb.
So, that comes out to: Gold for Christ’s kingship; Frankincense for His divinity, and Myrrh for the sacrifice of the Crucifixion. Prophetic and practical, all in there!
Enough for tonight…Merry Christmas, ya’ll!
<![CDATA[Listening to Sam Malone on KTRH radio this morning. He was talking about this new study that decaf coffee isn’t caffine free (gee,really?) and was polling his callers about their addictions — not alcohol or drugs, but anything else.
One caller talked about his wife – she’s addicted to Star Trek, and watches it from DVD for 4 hours every night — to the extent that if power fails, she reverts to a portable DVD player with a backup generator!
Personally, I’m not quite that bad. My wife thinks I’m addicted to the computer and Anime, but I really only have one overriding obsession: Dr. Pepper, and when I can get it, particularly Dublin Dr. Pepper, bottled in Dublin, Texas, southeast of Fort Worth. Dublin DP is made using the original formula, with Imperial Pure Cane Sugar instead of corn syrup. The real sugar makes a sweet drink, but not syrupy sweet, and I prefer to think of this drink as my personal Nectar of the gods.
So you’ve now read about my addiction…what’s yours?