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Chris Boyle

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The importance of providing clear diagnostic information [Jun. 29th, 2008|01:43 am]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | silly]
[Music |VNV Nation - Carry You]

Telephone numbers for drama purposes (such as the Doctor's): surely these ought to return something better than [...] has not been recognised. Might I suggest: This number is imaginary. Please rotate it by 90° in the complex plane and try again. :-p I might also suggest that this show in particular, if they were going to put a number on the screen, could have used a valid one and put something interesting on the other end. Also, I would very much have preferred if there was some common substring to all the fictional numbers (like 555 in the US), such that they can be recognised without consulting that list.
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Headphone recommendations please [Jun. 25th, 2008|01:34 am]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | frustrated]
[Music |Neuropa - Control]

Further to my previous post, I now have convenient portable 3.5mm stereo output of music (phone/FM/PC) switching to phone calls (with a microphone for those). What I don't have is some headphones suitable for outdoor use. Complications ) Therefore, oh wise and generous friends-list, what should I use for my outdoor listening? Goals are comfort, sound quality, portability and road safety. Bonus points if they score sufficiently well on the first two that I'm happy with them for indoor use as well.

Edit: I bought the Philips SHE9600(s?).
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More mobile-related waffle [Jun. 24th, 2008|03:32 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | mixed]
[Music |Code 64 - Go64]

I'm now on O2 (number unchanged) and in possession of a shiny Bluetooth gadget. Boring details )
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Phobile moans [Jun. 12th, 2008|04:33 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | quixotic]
[Music |Iris - Endless]

Just over a year ago, I considered mobiles/PDAs and bought a Treo 680, a relatively hackable, well designed device on which, aside from phone calls and SMSs, I run a calendar, a to-do list (and general note-taking), an MUA, Tomtom sat-nav, Simon's puzzles, an OGG player occasionally and a few of the other 25,000 Palm OS applications. My mobile operator from 2005 until recently was dot mobile, a Vodafone reseller, which was priced for students, put minutes and SMSs in the same pot and offered GPRS at £1/MB. Unfortunately dot just went into administration and transferred me to Vodafone, whose terms are less favourable, and, fortunately or not, the 3G iPhone is about to arrive (and seems representative of the direction in which these devices are heading) so it looks like it's time for me to take another look at all of this.

May contain ranting )

For the moment I guess I'll stick with the 680 and Vodafone move to O2 (see comments). I just wish I could use better hardware without it requiring such a locked-down OS as Apple's (or risking owning an iBrick).
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Doctor Who - speculation about Forest of the Dead [Jun. 6th, 2008|09:59 am]

[Tags|, , ]
[Mood | frustrated]
[Music |The Rasmus - In The Shadows]

I have a theory: evire fbat vf gur qbpgbe. A relatively obvious possibility I suppose, but I'm still eagerly waiting to find out if it's correct. :-) Annoyingly, Maelstrom is this weekend. This means I have to wait slightly longer to find this out and I miss Strawberry Fair.
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It was going so well... [May. 16th, 2008|02:23 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | blank]
[Music |Mesh - Leave You Nothing]

That's my VM gone then. Three disks at once (possible reasons). :-( On the plus side, they're taking sensible measures to stop it happening again, so I think I'll stick with them for the moment.

Edit (2): all up and running again now. This time, I shall take proper backups…
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# Spammity spam, wonderful spam [May. 14th, 2008|03:15 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | surprised]
[Music |The Hoosiers - Cops and Robbers]

Now that I've set up that shiny new email configuration, I was interested in what actually happens to incoming SMTP connections. How effective are my various spam countermeasures? What proportion of incoming mail is genuine? Answers to all these and more, in the form of a delicious pie. Pie chart of incoming email rejection reasons An SMTP delivery to my server will run through these checks in order, starting at 12 o'clock and going anti-clockwise.

It's interesting to note how easily I can turn a lot of spammers away. Anyone who sends a HELO hostname that isn't valid and resolvable, or continues trying to send mail when Spamhaus has listed them, is asking for trouble these days, yet spammers clearly still do so. Oh well, saves me some CPU cycles since I don't even get as far as SpamAssassin for those connections. :-)

A couple of things aren't apparent from the chart: address verification ("MAIL FROM is self or undeliverable") is only used for frequently forged sender domains where verification is known to work (including, obviously, my own). SPF before receiving the message didn't feature here because of the annoyingly high proportion of mail going through relays (my other addresses, occasionally a backup MX, etc). In those cases SPF is checked by SpamAssassin using Received headers, as is DKIM.

It's somewhat depressing, firstly that 77.5% of attempts to deliver mail to me are a waste of bandwidth, and secondly that I was expecting an even higher proportion. I don't think there have been any false positives here, except one or two marketing emails I didn't strictly ask for, which, really, aren't so different from spam and won't be missed. Obviously, shout if you've emailed me and it bounced. :-)
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My shiny new email config [May. 12th, 2008|04:50 pm]

[Tags|, , ]
[Mood | frustrated]
[Music |Ghosts - Mind Games]

For just over a week now, I've had a Gandi VM handling my email and a few other services. Braindump: spam filtering / other tweaks, mostly for my own reference )

On the subject of spam, I can't help but wonder if some sort of global education campaign would help: Newsflash: The Internet is no different from the real world: not everyone is honest. Stop buying from spammers and the spam will go away. Someone, somewhere, is buying this stuff. That person needs to be cluebatted, hard, because spammers are seemingly not in jurisdictions that care about spam, so the only way I can see to stop them in the long term is to remove their market.

I haven't yet found a sensible way to keep a central list of contacts on the server; LDAP seems to be serious overkill but it's all Thunderbird and others will support. Does anyone know of a tiny LDAP server or similar for this sort of situation? For the moment I'll stick with my Palm Treo's contact list (which integrates nicely with mobile email clients) and keep typing addresses into the desktops I use.

Miscellany [May. 2nd, 2008|10:36 am]

[Tags|, , , ]
[Mood | relaxed]
[Music |De/Vision - Flavour of the Week]

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Share a server with me? [Apr. 30th, 2008|05:05 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | hopeful]
[Music |Wave in Head - With You]

Further to my previous post about hosting, a friend's non-profit Xen hosting might be just what I'm looking for. Unfortunately, his server is full and he hasn't quite seen enough interest yet to start a second one. So, if you like the look of what's described there (that's about half the price and twice the RAM of most VM hosts, albeit with less of a guarantee about reliability), please contact him (#lamby-xen on
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IPv6 on Sky Broadband [Apr. 9th, 2008|08:57 am]

[Mood | pleased]
[Music |Blue Stone - Faraway (Runaway Mix)]

If anyone cares, making the turtle dance on Sky Broadband behind NAT, at least for one Linux machine, is surprisingly easy. 6to4 Just Works™, the key points being:
  • In your router's web UI, set WAN Setup / Default DMZ Server to the LAN IPv4 address of the machine you want to use; this is the only way to make it forward protocol 41 to you.
  • Your 6to4 address must be calculated from your router's external IP, which is dynamic, so you'll need a cron job or something to adjust the tunnel as needed (left as an exercise for the reader).
  • The local/IPv4 end of the tunnel is your LAN IPv4 address.
  • Enabling this for multiple machines is possible, using the first machine as a gateway, because you have a whole /48 to play with. Also left as an exercise for the reader. :-)
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It's 2008; do you know where your data is? [Apr. 7th, 2008|05:03 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | uncomfortable]
[Music |Valve - Guard Down]

A conversation at yesterday's dinner party set me thinking about the conflicting goals many of us have for online communication. We were mostly talking about private blog posts, but it's a more general problem than that. The conceptual conflict that most bothers me in this context is between security and mobility: most of the web appears to have chosen the latter and stopped worrying about this some time ago. Apologies for length... )
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A game recommendation [Apr. 7th, 2008|11:38 am]

[Tags|, , ]
[Mood | impressed]
[Music |Claire Pichet – Rue Des Cascades (Live)]

Audiosurf. It's a puzzle/racer game; it generates the track from any song you supply. Have a look at some videos (more on their site) to see what I mean. It's cheap, there's a wide range of difficulty levels (determined in part by the song you choose) and it's great fun. I'm very impressed at what they've done with such a simple idea. I've not yet had time to try it on many different tracks, but reviewers report that it copes well with their collections. It works in Wine, with a few silly bugs, but they don't affect gameplay and hopefully the Wine folks will fix them soon.
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F-Secure: Shift happens [Mar. 31st, 2008|01:43 pm]

[Mood | worried]
[Music |Seabound - Poisonous Friend (Remix)]

Good article from F-secure on web-based malware infections (their feed may be of interest).
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RSS reader idea [Mar. 26th, 2008|12:33 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | quixotic]
[Music |De/Vision - Freedom]

This is a comment that became a post. I don't think reading friends' blogs through LJ, IJ, or any other similar centralised site, is secure, open, reliable or featureful enough; I'm looking for comments on an alternative idea, assuming nobody's done it already:

In [info]cartesiandaemon's journal, I suggested a feed viewer where instead of polling RSS feeds to get entire entries, you just retrieve an authenticated RSS feed with subjects only, at the time of viewing, and your viewer then uses something like an iframe to show you the post, its comments, a comment form, etc. The key ideas here are:
  • To use RSS for only the purpose for which it was originally designed: a list of links to new entries, so you can tell what's unread. The content, unlike in most RSS readers, would come from a GET of each item's URL.
  • To ditch the polling concept and retrieve the feed at viewing time.
To expand on that: it's actually possible to implement an RSS reader that does all this already; perhaps I will at some point, in my copious free time. My aim would be to create something I can suggest to my LJ friends list that won't produce all the usual objections to RSS readers, many of which are really objections to typical RSS feeds (and thus removed by embedding full page views). It could offer a view like a friends page or Google Reader's "expanded view", but for true full pages with comments, that would rapidly become silly. Better would be something vaguely like Reader's "list view": a keystroke goes to the next entry, a different keystroke scrolls down.

The dilemma (trilemma? N-lemma?) in doing that is choice of platform: as a provider of such an application, I want people to trust it, so I don't want the content or the credentials to pass through anything under my control. This rules out a simple website delivering a piece of JavaScript, because of browser security models (it wouldn't be able to fetch feeds from arbitrary sites). I don't really want it to be a stand-alone client-side application either; embedding a browser isn't really sensible because you inevitably frequently want to jump to a real browser. The middle ground would seem to be a Firefox extension, which excludes people running IE. Does anyone reading this run IE? Are there sensible platform options I've missed? Might it be worthwhile and possible to produce versions for mobile devices? (I've previously written apps for Java Mobile Edition and Palm, but don't know how one might embed HTML views, rather than switch to a browser for a single URL, on either platform.)

I do also want the option of some kind of central storage of read/unread information, but I'm not sure where that should be hosted and how access control should happen. The information, per user, would be just the URLs that still exist in published feeds and their read/unread state. Everything else is considered unread. Items that appear and disappear between uses of the application are not shown, because nothing has polled and stored them, but a simple heuristic could warn of their probable existence: if none of the current items were there last time, you've probably missed some items.

Thoughts? :-)
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LieJournal: [sic] and tired of all of this [Mar. 15th, 2008|09:46 am]

[Tags|, , , ]
[Mood | discontent]
[Music |Wir sind Helden - Guten Tag (Die Reklamation)]

This is a copy of my final post to LJ. Geekier post about migration coming soon.

To the management and owners of LiveJournal,   ← (can anyone suggest the best place to send this?)

Summary: paid user leaving LiveJournal because of issues of culture and communication

An open letter )

Last one out, lock the door.
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Going Insane [Mar. 14th, 2008|09:20 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | restless]
[Music |Edge of Dawn - Losing Ground]

So, er… hi. As you might notice from looking at my journal, I've moved. There is now hopefully nothing of mine of which LiveJournal holds the only copy. This makes me happy. :-) Reasons will be explained in a final post to LJ shortly. I've just friended a whole bunch of you whom I think I know from LJ. If any of you have filters you'd like me to be on, then as always, I'm happy to read anything you're happy for me to read.

Posts earlier than this point were migrated from LiveJournal; they have a few problems (such as no comments, usernames refer to IJ, no link to original entry, polls should be copied in static form, etc.) I will fix these at some point, using data I have already downloaded, in my copious free time.

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Of journals, other sites for them, feeds, OpenID, lions, tigers, bugs etc. [Jan. 10th, 2008|03:20 pm]

[Mood | geeky]
[Music |Mind.In.A.Box - Stalkers]

Since Lupie unfortunately had to move her journal again and I keep seeing people asking how to keep track of such journals on other sites from LiveJournal, or at least all in one place, I thought I'd write up an explanation here so I don't keep saying the same things in comments.

You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here, there be monsters. :-p )
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