I had an outage this morning, otherwise I wouldn’t have been checking.

Portscanned by our nameservers

My company has a Business DSL Service contract with AT&T, previously BellSouth. Just recently they turned up the throughput on our circuit as part of a promotion to let everyone in the neighborhood know that it can finally go faster. (It’s still not as fast as broadband, but broadband isn’t available on our block.) Incidentally, we’re located in the metropolitan sprawl-swamp north of Atlanta, GA, just off of GA 400 (a.k.a the Alpharetta Autobahn).

The IP addresses noted above, and, are the primary and secondary nameservers assigned my company’s DSL router (via an automatic DHCP-like transaction, I assume) when it syncs up with the upstream router/DSLAM. So basically our own primary and secondary nameservers just portscanned us.

What were they looking for? They were looking to see if we had any UDP ports open on our network for port numbers 12113, 12123, 12125, 12133, 12141, and 12156. It took some digging to find this out, but a few of those ports are associated with projects like eMule and uTorrent. You know. Peer-to-peer filesharing networks. Big surprise. AT&T shouldn’t care what traffic I accept or generate, but apparently they do. As if a portscan will actually reveal what service is on the other end of it. As if running said services actually reveals illegal sharing of data/copyright violations.


I was logged into the Netopia 3347NWG DSL router this morning, asking it what it thought the problem was. I clicked on a little Alert icon and this was what it showed me. I printed it out, just in case the security logs get wiped out when you reset the router. And it seems they do. But what this is saying is that the DSL router blocked their portscan. This is the DSL router THEY issued us. With the default firewall/security config.  THEY scanned us, and the basic hardware THEY shipped us with the default firewall config THEY ship it with stymied them.

And then the DSL SYNC light on the router went out. And we lost dial-tone on that phone line. Then, after a few minutes, dial-tone came back. I had to call them up and get them to twiddle things to get service restored–but while I was talking to my tech, the call dropped. She called me back on another line and we continued the troubleshooting process.

The outage is possibly unrelated–as I mentioned, I was having problems before the portscan or I wouldn’t have been logged into the router to check on things–but there’s still something laughable about their own hardware getting in the way of their own snooping.

Futher: While on hold and waiting for the DSL service tech, I listened to a recording that told me that common connectivity problems could be solved by powering down the DSL modem (router) and turning it back on. They recommend this to everyone, for whatever reason, to every joker on hold.

I say, sure, this might help. But it will also most likely wipe your security logs. I highly recommend you connect to your DSL router first to review any interesting tidbits that might be in your security logs before you wipe them by following the snoopin’-ass bastards at AT&T’s blindly recommended procedure. They shouldn’t be snooping in the first place. Neither should they be recommending that you wipe the logs that would reveal suspicious Denial-of-Service traffic before anyone gets a chance to look at them. Especially if they’re the one generating said traffic.

In my opinion, my company is paying for connectivity and bandwidth and AT&T shouldn’t have the first thing to say about how we use it until served with a warrant signed by a judge. In fact, if AT&T is just personally curious as to what traffic we generate or accept, then they can damn well put a sniffer on the line and passively generate their histograms. I expect them to do so, frankly. But a portscan is basically prank-calling your network and seeing if anyone picks up the phone when you dial whatever numbers you dial. My router is busy enough without having to answer (or decide not to answer) prank calls. AT&T’s nameservers are busy enough looking up IP addresses for whatever machine/service names we supply in our thousands of URLs without also being tasked to run hack-attacks on my network. And the recommendation that you flush any evidence before you ask them to help you figure out what’s happening? Actionably stupid.

I suppose it’s also possible that their nameservers have been hacked and are hacking on someone else’s behalf, but I’d like to think they check for that periodically. Frankly, I recommend running public-facing nameservers off of CDROM and rebooting them every couple of hours, but that’s just me.


May 29, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
May 23, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

Boy, are my arms tired. *YOU MUST CLICK*


Exhausted. Every damned day, exhausted.

This weekend I did the taxes. Not really a month late since Sherman the F2 Tornado gave us a tad more than a month’s extension to file for Fulton and DeKalb counties. Federal tax forms = six pages this year including two pages of the full-on form 1040, Schedule A, Schedule C, Schedule SE, and form 8863. This doesn’t count three pages of GA form 500 and resubmitting Federal Schedule A to Georgia. Nor does it count a dry run on form 2106 (two pages) before I figured out all that crap belonged on Schedule C. And it’s pretty funny how every form makes you stop and go fill out another chunk of some other form before you can continue. I had to work hard to get my dependencies straightened out to avoid the most basic compilation errors. Doing your taxes shouldn’t be like that.

Fortunately, at the lowest level, code is code. It all works the same.

Hey, Georgia. The computerized “fill-in” form is inconvenient as hell when you can’t save it and have to hit “tab” between every fucking character you type. In that long list of things you accept donations for at the end of the form, why don’t you allow us to tip $5 to updating your bogus ancient ScanTronic crapola hardware to something modern for next year?

And here’s a tip for all governments involved: how about not making the process so complicated you need a degree in order to get through it without screwing yourself out of a bundle or risking going to jail? For that matter, the criminal code could use a similar overhaul. The only correct answer for “Do you understand the charges that are being brought against you?” is “How the hell could I, your honor? I’m not wealthy enough to have the money or free time to study law and/or accounting. Once the state has paid for my CPA and my education sufficient to allow me to pass the bar, I’ll get back to you.”

Again, code is code. I try to avoid programming in languages I don’t know, but I can usually get by. Regardless, if you have to pay someone for criminal defense or tax preparation to make sure it gets done right, the system is broken. And unfairly skewed against people who would find the hiring of such people a hardship.

The day previous was spent taking apart the trap under the kitchen sink to snake twenty-five feet of manual auger through twenty-year-old sludge to try to poke some kind of hole. Three or four full-extension passes later, the sink drains enough to wash half an evening’s worth of cooking and serving dishes before you have to take a half-hour break for the sinks to drain again. That’s not clear enough–not enough bandwidth–to consider installing a dishwasher and/or garbage disposal. It _is_ just a system of tubes, after all…. Networking is networking. Moving the sludge.

Before appliances are feasible a big chunk of drain pipes in the crawlspace will need replacing or pressure-flushing or whatever an actual plumber thinks will clear the goddamn line. If what I snaked up is typical of what’s in there, we’ll probably have to rocket the replaced pipes/removed sludge into the heart of the sun for proper disposal.

Next week I’ll do the DBA metaphors for cleaning out a fridge and doing yardwork. Pruning, mowing, cleaning out the cruft, and sanity-checking. Store only what you’ll use, clear out noise to speed searches, handle spoilage, yadda yadda yadda.


May 20, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

Somebody’s houseplant has a Twitter account. More than twenty days ago it needed water. It’s probably dead now.

Stewie, or maybe Pua

That’s Stewie. Or maybe Pua. It’s an anteater. It’s cooler than you. Click the pic.

This article is chock-full of ignorant and probably exists only because Rosemary Desmond made a bet that she could get the phrase “cereal killer” in a headline. Mycotoxins range from good old “bread madness” (from whence LSD-25 was eventually derived) all the way up to funky death from liver and/or kidney failure, sure, but claiming it as an increased danger from climate change is on the stupid side of ballsy. The conclusion assumes that any regulatory agencies completely give up checking for this kind of thing, plus also farmers and laborers go completely blind during harvest season.

Delightful Devil, Morpa and Dick Warren

The above pic is from the same “news” source, claiming that Tasmanian Devils also make good pets. Don’t you try it.

Grand Baby

Some people have fucked-up fetishes. Click if you dare.

Vatican okays belief in aliens. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say this probably refers to extraterrestrial/extradimensional life and not just foreigners. Someone please get back to me when the Vatican issues a decree that says skepticism is okay and they’ve finally grown a sense of humor with respect to old Tom Lehrer songs.

In other news, trying to put hot pink underwear on a goat and trying to tie a ribbon on the tail of a struggling steer somehow “proves that we are normal”, says Jen Vrana, president and founder of the Liberty Gay Rodeo Association. I’m not sure I’m ever one to judge what normal is, but I’m fairly sure that’s not it. Not that I find the slightest problem with the idea of making your goat wear hot pink underwear or putting a ribbon you have no other use for on the tail of a steer—PETA and I disagree frequently—but that’s not a typical hobby for anyone of any sexual orientation.


May 13, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

It's nice to have a girl around the house.


Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you’d like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs slacks. Such as our new automatic wash wear blend of 65% “Dacron®” and 35% rayon—incomparably wrinkle-resistant. About $12.95 at plush-carpeted stores.


Well. I say I was alive. But was I really alive?


YIKES rating: 77.5 out of 100. Keep tusslin’ girls. Rawr.




Doesn’t seem to say how easy it is to get stains out of those slacks. Like blood. Or bodily wastes.


May 12, 2008 · Posted in reviews  

Just in case anyone cares, Hezbollah has taken over most of western Beirut. Apparently because someone threatened to turn off their private telephone network.

But never mind that. Here’s a picture of a cute capitalist imperialist baby hedgehog, apparently born with liquid assets. And probably a stock portfolio with substantial investment in the oil industry.


As you were.


May 9, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  

Ye gods.

Clicked on something accidentally on fark.com. I should be more careful.

While I appreciate the beauty of crystalline structures and am occasionally awed by the self-organizing effects of resonance in systems of oscillators that communicate with sound or electromagnetic radiation (or analogous macroscopic bio- or eco- or socio-systems), I’m sick to the teeth of pseudo-scientific screeds like the one linked above that use the word “energy” where they really mean “feelings” and spew 34 types of hogwash in order to set up a buzzing hypnotic drone in the language center designed to make people lose whatever judgment they might have that would prevent them from clicking a PayPal button and getting sent a handful of shiny pebbles for $50 or $100 on the off-chance that if they learn how to hold, look at, talk to, or think at the pebbles right, the pebbles might help them not be such losers.

The cranial lasagna we use for brains is, in fact, infinitely hackable. The weaknesses we have for succumbing to the cognitive equivalents of optical illusions is a constant source of joy and/or sorrow, depending on your level of compassion and/or whether you’re the victim. But hacking the lasagna will only make you think you can fly. It won’t make you fly. Failure to distinguish that little nuance can give you the happiest moment of your life–albeit possibly the last moment of your life.

Fucking with people’s language centers is a great way of prying up layers of their lasagna and inserting your own little maggots. If you speak someone’s language, you’re at least a third of the way there. If you can convince them to give you some time to talk to them, if they’ll take a few minutes to pay attention to a message you say or write, that’s another third. That remaining third? That’s the rhythm you set up on the strings of the web that tells the spider at the center that you’re one of its kind, that you’re here to mate, that you’re not prey or a threat….

Get in, do your business, and get out. The package you leave has to be viable, but that’s just practice. Trial and error is a valid strategy here.

I suspect there is significant benefit to being able to manipulate your emotional state using shiny pebbles as foci for your imagination. Bliss is a healing thing, counteracting the literally physically damaging aspects and psychological reprogramming effects of stress and fear. (Tendency to anxiety disorders is actually a survival trait in situations where a lowered fight/flight threshold will get you out of trouble, but it’s not very helpful in a society where there’s no place to run and beating the shit out of people who bug you or startle you will just land you in jail.) If shiny pebbles and autohypnosis help you get there, more power to you. So to speak.

But for To-Who-It-May-Concern’s sake, do not encourage this scam artist by sending him $50 for a shiny rock. Any shiny rock will do. For that matter, a shot of bourbon is beautiful and shiny and looking at it can make you happy. Plus you can drink it, and that makes you happy too. And costs less than $50. A whole bottle costs less than $50. That is also beautiful.

If you send me $50 so I can buy a bottle of bourbon, that will make me happy and give me a warm feeling. The warm feeling you get from giving me a warm feeling may also make you happy, but I make no guarantees, as that would be scientifically unethical.

The scientific method suggests that we test that empirically. If, say, thirty or more people (so as to be guaranteed of being statistically valid) were to send me $50 each that I could spend on bottles of bourbon, those people could then participate in a blind poll and we could tally their self-reported levels of happiness afterwards, and then we could publish a paper and allow others to attempt to duplicate our results (by setting up pools of thirty or more people to send me $50 each to buy bottles of bourbon) and review and refine the methodology.

That, my friend, is what science looks like. It does not at all resemble shiny rocks that someone has labeled “psychotronic generators”.


May 6, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else  
May 3, 2008 · Posted in Everything Else