On the 26th, there was the catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Over 135,000 lives lost, and enormous property damage.
We're doing a fundraiser, to help the victims of this disaster. We'll be sending 100% of the money that we get from selling videos via the Tsunami Fund page to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Galleries added this month.
Stories added this month.
Movies added this month.
Another two months have been moved to the Older Servers.
I bought four racks, each six feet high, four feet wide and two feet deep. Each one will take five rows of six computers, so that gives me another 120 boxes capacity. The racks are nut-and-boltless, which they present as an advantage, but which actually makes it harder to assemble than the kind that uses nuts and bolts. Oh well, it's not that big a problem. I've assembled two of them.
To get them in place, I had to rearrange the Shed a bit. I've taken out the big table (which I was mostly using as a horizontal surface to put junk on), and I moved the small table (an ex kitchen table, made of solid wood, and kind of looking like it's made out of wooden blocks, very nice) out of the way so I could put the racks in place. But that puts the small table in the wrong place - I use it for the monitor and keyboard (and as a horizontal surface to put junk on) and all the cables that lead to there are now leading to the wrong place. I thought about this a bit.
On Ebay, I bought a pair of little boxes that lets you put the keyboard and monitor in one place, and the computers in another, with a long stretch of cat 5 cable (also called UTP, unshielded twisted pairs) carrying the signals. Cat 5 is the standard computer cable that everyone uses for everything. I have cat 5 cable strung between the Data Shed and the house. I needed two lengths (one for my internal LAN and one for the network that DtV members access), so I strung eight, because cat 5 cable is cheap per metre, but stringing is very labour intensive, and it's as easy to string eight as two. So, I have a spare run of cat 5 that I can use for this.
I set it up. There's a Novaview 8-way KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) switch connected to that KVM extender, and I'll be connecting eight more KVM switches to the eight ports (cascading them), so I'll be able to switch between 64 different computers, without having to visit the Shed (which is only a few yards away, but on a cold winter's night, those few yards are a long long way).
I can access all the computers in the shed via telnet (or ssh) anyway, over the ethernet cable, but that's only true if they're actually running properly. When a computer crashes (usually because of a hardware failure), I don't know what's wrong until I go over there and look. So, now I'll be able to remotely power cycle the computers (I already have that in place) and I'll also be able to see why they don't power up, via this new thing.
So, I set it all up. I've been using these Novaviews for ages, but this is the first time I've tried cascading them. And it didn't work. I could connect them, and I could switch between the computers manually, by pressing the buttong on the Novaview, but that's no use when I'm not in the Data Shed. You're supposed to be able to switch between them via your keyboard, by hitting the Ctrl key twice, then 1-8 to choose which slave, then A-H to choose which port on that slave, which lets you access all 64 computers. Sounds great ... but ... doesn't work.
I wrestled with it for a while, and eventually discovered that I could use the on-screen display to do the switching, so I could actually see all 64 computers; I was very lucky that one of the Novaviews I have, has got the on-screen display, most of them don't. And I happily tested it for a while (some might say "played with it"), and at some point, I made a serendipitious discovery, meaning entirely by accident, and I'm still not sure how I stumbled on it. The sequence isn't Ctrl-Ctrl-2-E, it's Ctrl-Ctrl-2-5. You don't use letters, you use numbers. Nowhere in the manual does it give any clue to this. And I couldn't find it on the web, either.
I really hate it when manufacturers can't document their own products to the extent that you can't actually use them.
So, if you just did a Google search because you can't work out how to make your Novaview KVM cascade and found this article, you have my sympathy, plus now you know how to make it work.
A couple of months ago, I moved out of the room I use as my office. The primary motivation was to give is a really good clean, which it hadn't had for yonks, because it's very difficult to clean a spaghetti tangle of cables and other equipment. So, I stripped everything out, and took up temporary residence in another room for my office. Since I was going to this much trouble, I decided it would be a good idea to redecorate too. Plus, I replaced the carpet with hardwood flooring, put blinds on the windows so that when the sun streams in, I can stop it from blinding me, and added a lot more shelving, mostly to hold manuals.
The idea of the hardwood flooring is to reduce the dust level (carpets get very dusty), but there's a nice side-effect - my rolling chair rolls rather well on it. It means that a sharp shove on my desk gets me right across the room to where the printer is, then another shove gets me back. It means I can get a printout without having to get up.
While I was in my temporary quarters, I found I could reduce the amount of stuff I needed. Instead of four monitors, I now only have two, and where I user to have seven computers, I've now got that down to five; I did that by moving the ones that I don't have to have nearby. Four computers are on one KVM switch, the other computer has its own monitor - that's the one I use for terminals to all the other computers, and also to run the browser that I use to lurk in the chatroom. The lower power consumption means I can run it all off a single UPS (I used to use two).
I also dispensed with the huge Sony CD jukebox; I'm using Ogg Vorbis files instead. So, I now have two sound systems. The first us the Ogg from my Linux box via an amplifier into a good quality set of Sony speakers, and the second is mp3 from a Windows box into a medium-quality powered speaker.
Everything is now much neater and tidier, and I'm hoping I'm all set for the next ten years before I need to make another drastic change.
I just totalled up the disk space in the server farm; there's 76 terabytes.
I've converted all my CDs to ogg files. I also have a collection of 1920s music, converted from 78 vinyl (and shellac) to RealAudio by Dismuke, and I wanted those, too. I found a neat way to convert; here it is:
mplayer infile.rm -ao pcm -aofile outfile.wav
That gives me a wav file of the music, and then I can convert to ogg (or mp3) like this: oggenc outfile.wav
I've also worked out how to convert oggs to MP3, in case I want to put the same stuff on something portable.
oggdec -o music.wav music.ogg
lame -h music.wav music.mp3
When your browser contacts my server to ask for a picture or other file, you might have wondered what program on my server responds to that request. Now you know, it's called "Apache", and it's the most widely used web server on the internet. And it can do a lot of neat tricks.
One of the things it can do, is see when requests are coming from somewhere unwanted, and block them. So, for example, I block requests from "Fusker".
Fusker is a site that lets people list their favourite pictures, so that other people can look at them. The progblem between Fusker and the pictures here, is that although the person who sets up the fusker for my site can see the pictures, no-one else can, because they don't have a password. The result is, I get a huge bunch of requests that are refused, which is a load on the server. So, I decided to prevent fusker-originated requests.
The problem came when a second such site appeared in my logs, and I wanted to stop that too. Simple, I thought, I'll just add it to the lost of blocked sites. But it turned out to be non-simple.
Adding a second site to the list, had a side effect that I hadn't expected. When there's two sites being blocked in the same "deny" statement, Apache starts to resolve IP addresses, so that your address 188.8.131.52 is resolved into 129382cd.aol.com (or whatever). This is bad for two reasons - first, it's an unnecessary load on my server, and second I have log analysers that assume the format 184.108.40.206 for the address.
It was a few days before I noticed this, and an hour before I nailed it down. The answer turned out to be simple; instead of having both blocks in a single deny statement, I used two deny statements. And now I know about this behaviour, it shouldn't be a problem in future.
My rant this month, concerns a particular problem that I have.
You see, I'm blessed with a memory like a goldfish. I consider it a blessing, for two reasons. 1) it means that unpleasant experiences vanish rapidly outside my ken, and 2) it's a matter of space. My theory is, your brain can only do a certain amount, and the more it does of one thing, the less it does of another. So, although my long term (more than a week) memory is rotten, I have a good short-term (within a few minutes) memory. Anything more than a month old has faded to a trace of a memory, and after three months, forget it (I already did).
So here's the rant. I email people, and I guess they don't read their emails every day. Maybe once every few days. And then they ponder a while, and then they reply. By the time they reply, I've totally forgotten what this was all about. I get an email from someone that says "Yes", and I'm all at sea over what he's agreeing to. Sure, I can dig back into my email archives, but it's so much nicer when I don't have to.
This is why people quote the relevant part of the email they're replying to. All mailers will let you do it, so what this is, is a plea on behalf of all the people who are mnemonically challenged like myself, to quote the thing you're replying to. Thanks.
If you have a Verizon email address (or GTE) then you've probably noticed that you stopped getting emails from people in Europe. For some reason, Verizon seem to have decided to reject any email coming from a whole range of IP addresses, including a bunch of European ISPs. This means that any email that I send to someone with a Verizon email address, cannot be delivered. And you probably don't even get told of the attempt.
So, if you have a Verizon email address and you've been expecting an email from Europe, now you know why it hasn't arrived.
I know one ISP who has been trying to tell Verizon about their problem, but it's too difficult to find anyone in Verizon to talk to about this. And, of course, he's trying to do it via the telephone.
I remember back when phishing was what kids did on AOL to try to get a new AOL username and password to use. And I got phished a few times, or at least, someone tried to. Even back then I wasn't dumb enough to believe "I'm an AOL staffer and I need to know your password". It's become so much more sophisticated since then. Here's one I got recently:
Subject: PayPal Notification: Account Review Dear PayPal customer, It has come to our attention that when logging into PayPal, you or somebody else have made several login attempts and reached your daily attempt limit. As an additional security measure your access to PayPal will be limited in the next 24 hours if you do not verify your identity. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_verification Please verify your details clicking on the link above, before trying to log in again. You will be able to attempt logging into PayPal account immediately after you verify your identity without any limitations applying to your account. Sincerely, PayPal Account Review Team PayPal, an eBay Company
It looks so realistic! But when I looked at the URL to click on, it was actually: http://www.losases.com.uy/ssl/pp/
On the email, and when you put the mouse on it, it shows up as an address at www.paypal.com. But actually, you're logging on to some site in Uruguay, and you're invited to give your detailed credit card, bank and other information to what looks like a Paypal page. I could see the real URL of the site, but I'm guessing that with Internet Explorer, I wouldn't (I'm not going to try it on a Windows computer, that's just asking for trouble).
What's really depressing about this, is that people reading this newsletter probably already know enough not to be taken in by this scam, and the people who will be taken in, don't read things like this newsletter.
I suppose the same is true on the internet as in life generally; you get the biggest punishments for ignorance and stupidity.
I don't make these up, although the comments on the spams are mine, of course. These are actual spams sent to me, which just strike me as funny. I don't include their contact details - go find your own spammers!
By the way, if you're using StoneColdMail
(which is free to web site members) then you won't see most of these spams, they'll be delivered
into your "Spam" folder.
"Although i don't run red lights on purpose, I still seem to run them when I
am tired, or just have to much on my mind... So when i saw photoblocker I
figured, hey why not give it a shot, and already it has paid for its self.
Thanks for this magnificent little miracle-in-a-bottle!"
You know, I can't help feeling that you've missed the point of red lights.
Make your dog happy!
I'm not even going to read this one.
what will you do when you die
I'd planned on throwing a big party.
new antidote found in crocodile
Yes, I know what you mean. I lost my slippers, and they turned up under my bed!
Get rich in one minute
I think I'll wait until you get the time down to half a minute.
Become a Minister Now
Could I be the next Home Secretary? This is a joke that only Brits will understand)
Why not purchase drugs on our site?
How many reasons would you like me to give you?
We've sponsored lots of the women; Nicole Bass, Andrulla Blanchette, Sheila Burgess, Christine Envall, Marilyn Perret, Peggy Schoolcraft, Larisa Hakobyan, Steph Parks.
We're also sponsoring individual events such as the Femsport Valkyrie Festival, and the New York Muscle Club, and funding athletes to go to events with grant dollars.
We're also doing free hosting and free bandwidth for many of our sponsored women. Bandwidth can mount up to a large bill when you're running a popular web site.
And we've sponsored Heather Foster, Kara Bohigian, Priscilla Ribic, KerryAnn Allen, Linda Cusmano and Jodi Miller. Also Anita Ramsey and Rhonda Dethlefs.
|Diana the Valkyrie||1606|
Madman is top (barking mad) dog again, with Tre and TomNine yapping at his heels.
This month we had 4357 posts to the boards.
A new message board, LA Melanie's Women and Couples Discussing Real Contacts, it's about wrestling.
Most posted Board of the month
Poster of the month
|The politics board is still huge, with arguments over evolution, the quality of various politicians and lots more besides. Oh well, it keeps this stuff off the other boards.||Danryan's staunch defence of Creationism makes him once again the top poster this month.|
Mavis is counting the number of times the message list is checked for each board. This gives a very different picture from the one above.
Most listed Board of the month
Most read Board of the month
|It's all about FBBs and pictures.||The Grinch got the stats.|
Wow, what a year! I'm now running a few dozen sites (by which I mean, I do all the technical stuff, the hosting, the membership administration; for each site there's a partner who does the content). I launched this in 2004, and it mushroomed massively. In September, Herbiceps came under this scheme, the first and biggest spin-off from the "Valkyrie family". One consequence of this, was that I installed the Valksignal in the chatroom. When you do "/valksignal on", a huge searchlight with a Valkyrie cut-out beams into the sky over Gotham City, er, no, actually over Valkyrie Towers, and a Valkyrie quickly swoops into the Chatroom, swinging down on the Valk-rope. Thus, I can give very rapid support when someone has a problem.
There's over 100 servers (mostly dedicated to the Newsthumbs, which is by itself a massive operation) and a recent census revealed about 80 terabytes of disk. The standard server I build now, has 900 gigabytes and costs me about $1000.
The Valkyrie Data Shed, which started out with just a couple of dozen computers, now has rows and rows of them, and a KVM-over-Cat5 link to the house, so I don't have to trek out there to see why a computer isn't responding. Also this year, I got air conditioning installed there, and got it electrically rewired to support the larger number of machines in place.
At the start of the year, I was using a Windows 98 box for sitting in front of and writing, so (for example) these newsletters were written with Wordpad. But after the Herbiceps Incident, and the similar thing that happened to The Register, I decided that Windows is too insecure for normal use, so I've switched to Linux as my desktop, and this newsletter is being written with Nedit.
Another big thing that happened in 2004, was with the older newsthumbs. Instead of there being 12 separate "Older Servers", with the need to search each one at a time, and with an additional one every six weeks - now I've made it look like one single "Older Server", a lot neater. Also, the growth in the quantity of incoming stuff, led me to expand my bank of DSL lines, doubling the capacity from three megabits to six.
I checked the site statistics that Sandra counts up each night.
At the end of December 2004, there were about 737,000 pictures (48 gigabytes), 158 gigabytes of video, 8800 text files (mostly stories) and a total of about 206 gigabytes. There's over 100 million pictures altogether in Newsthumbs. How many web sites do you know that have 100 million pictures?