Gettin’ your magma jollies!

September 23rd, 2014 No comments

I’ve been following Rei, a blogger from Iceland, who is reporting on the Bárðarbunga/Holuhraun volcano as it continues to erupt. It’s way more impressive/scary than I originally thought. It’s huge, with fresh lava covering 37 square km, or about 2/3 the size of Manhattan, and the magma fountains are shooting 300 feet or more in the air.

Her recent posts have shown a lot of information about the volcano’s progress. The one from last Saturday contains the best view so far of the extent of the lava, and absolutely stunning views of the magma sloshing around. The video is second-to-last picture on this page.

See it here: Rei’s post with great volcano video

For a bit more context, you can read her earlier posts. This map shown on this link tells more of the story. The big volcano, called Bárðarbunga, is at the red dot in the big glacier. The magma has pushed about 70 km (45 miles!) beneath the surface to erupt at Holuhraun, labeled with “Eruption” below.

The good news is that the magma remained underground until it got to a flat sandy desolate location, instead of coming up under the ice and melting it (to make flood) or an ash volcano. The other good news is that the (poisonous) sulfur dioxide has mostly been blowing northeast, so it hasn’t seriously affected either Reykjavík or Akureyri.

Categories: Life Tags:

CeroWrt 3.10.50-1 Field Report

July 30th, 2014 No comments

Comments on the CeroWrt 3.10.50-1 build that I installed on my WNDR3700v2 primary router:

  • Seemed to install and configure properly (I retrieved the updated version with the lighthttpd fix)

  • I used a local copy of config-cerowrt.sh (from https://github.com/richb-hanover/CeroWrtScripts#config-cerowrtsh) to configure the router to have my own DSL user/pw, SSID names, etc.

  • mDNS seems to work across subnets. (I don’t think that it worked properly for the last few CeroWrt releases)

  • The first time I looked, /usr/lib/CeroWrtScripts didn’t seem to have been updated with the latest from github.com (see link above). But I looked again (after a reboot, and running the config-cerowrt.sh script, and another reboot (maybe something else)), and the script matches the github version… Not sure how that could have happened.

  • Debloating seems to be working as expected. netperf-wrapper with RRUL shows a jump from 60 to 80 msec (normal on my 7mbps/768kbps DSL link). Here’s the plot:

Categories: Networking Tags:

speedof.me

July 20th, 2014 No comments

Doc Searls mentioned in passing that he uses a new speed test website. I checked it out, and it was very cool…

www.speedof.me is an all-HTML5 website that seems to make accurate measurements of the up and download speeds of your internet connection. It’s also very attractive, and the real-time plots of the speed show interesting info. (See below.)

Now if we could get them to include a latency measurement so people could point out their bufferbloated equipment.

Categories: Networking Tags:

Mayday.us – Bringing sanity back to campaign financing

June 10th, 2014 No comments

I recently joined Lessig’s citizen-funded MAYDAY.US campaign, an ambitious experiment to win a Congress committed to ending corruption in 2016, and we did something amazing: We raised $1 million dollars in 12 days. That’s a ton of money, but it’s not enough.

The plan is to raise $12 million in 2014, and use it to make fundamental reform of campaign financing the major issue in five congressional races. Then we’ll apply what we learn from those races to 2016.

We’re raising $5 million more by July 4, and I’m asking my readers if you can help us get the rest of the way there. So my question is: will you help?

Visit Mayday.us

Categories: Life Tags:

New CeroWrt Router scripts

May 1st, 2014 No comments

I posted a set of scripts that people can use to test, configure and debug their CeroWrt router installations. CeroWrt router firmware is a test bed for learning about and eliminating bufferbloat.

The scripts are available on Github at https://github.com/richb-hanover/CeroWrtScripts. They include:

  • betterspeedtest.sh – a script that emulates the famous (but limited) speedtest.net. This script is better because it measures ping latency during the download and upload, and tells you how bad (or not) the bloat is in your network/router.

  • netperfrunner.sh – a script that emulates the RRUL test suite. It runs on the CeroWrt router (or your laptop) to measure the latency under heavy load.

  • config-cerowrt.sh and tunnelbroker.sh – two scripts for configuring a CeroWrt router to a consistent state after flashing new firmware.

  • cerostats.sh – a script that collects a number of configuration and operational stats that is useful for debugging.

Categories: Networking, Software Tags:

Net Neutrality & Whitehouse.gov petition

April 24th, 2014 No comments

There’s a Whitehouse.gov petition posted about Net Neutrality. It’s a little bit of a rant, but I agree with its punchline: No bandwidth modifications of information based on content or its source.

This relates to a comment from Philip Greenspun’s blog (How many times do we have to pay for the same internet service?) If I’m paying my Internet Service Provider (ISP) to provide bits from the Internet to my home, and content providers pay an ISP for getting their bits into the Internet, what’s the problem? Why do the ISPs ask to be paid more for certain content, say, from Netflix?

The problem is that most ISPs (cable company, DSL/phone company, etc.) seriously underprovision their facilities. If every home subscriber ever attempted to use the service (at 3 megabits/second or 7, or 15, or 100, or whatever) that the ISPs advertise, there would be dramatic slowdowns. The ISPs simply don’t have sufficient capacity in place. The “easy out” for the ISP is to brand Netflix and other content providers as “bandwidth hogs” and using “more than their share” of bandwidth.

Two questions come from this:

  1. If, Netflix, say, did pay more, would my ISP promise to provide great service that didn’t slow down? (I wouldn’t bet on it. They don’t like to promise anything…)

  2. Why shouldn’t we consumers treat these bandwidth claims as false advertising? ISPs take our money while promoting a service that they know they have no ability or intention of providing. Wouldn’t that be a fun class-action suit? :-)

In any event, you can read and sign the Whitehouse.gov petition at http://wh.gov/lwhFt They got almost half the signatures they need in a week; they need another 60K signatures by 24 May to get an official response from the White House. The more publicity on this issue, the better.

Categories: Life Tags:

LibreSSL fork of OpenSSL

April 23rd, 2014 No comments

A small team of well-known developers from the OpenBSD team is working on a fork of OpenSSL, to be named LibreSSL.

This group is going through the OpenSSL source code base and removing old/ancient distributions, reformatting the code to KNF (Kernel Normal Format), removing dead code, fixing bugs and improving the package documentation.

They’re aided by the freedom to abandon old cruft that will never again be used, but there’s a certain amount of enjoyment to be had in reading snarky commit comments such as:

ASN1_STRING cleanup - realloc has handled NULL since I had a mullet
and parachute pants ...

and

This only works on systems where calloc() does the integer overflow
check, but if your system doesn't do this, you need to ask your vendor
WHY THEY ARE 10 YEARS BEHIND IN BEST PRACTICE? 

and

I'm glad to know that Ultrix CC has a bug optimizing switch() statements
lacking an explicit `case 0:' construct. But Ultrix has been dead for more than
15 years, really. Don't give it any reason to move out of its coffin.

and

12 years ago, old_des.h was used to provide compatibility with libdes.
The man page says "Compatibility des_ functions are provided for a short
while" and indeed even the original commit message says "The compatibility
functions will be removed in some future release, at the latest in
version 1.0." So here we are, a short while later.

Now I've only been an OpenBSD developer for 11 years, one year less than
this header has existed, but in that brief time, I've learned a thing or
two about deleting obsolete code. It doesn't delete itself. And worse,
people will continue using it until you force them onto a better path.

(To read more from the complete check-in history, see OpenBSD CVSweb)

I, for one, am glad to see a dedicated team look at this code base with the freedom to make it better, smaller, and auditable. I wish them the best, and have thrown a few simoleons into their kitty.

Categories: Software Tags:

Heartbleed and InterMapper

April 23rd, 2014 No comments

I created an InterMapper probe that detects whether a web server is vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. You can read about it on my Blueberry Hill Software blog at:

http://blueberryhillsoftware.com/heartbleed-probe-for-intermapper/

Categories: Networking, Software Tags:

Get your IRS transcript!

March 31st, 2014 No comments

Why can’t the IRS tell me how much has been reported? Various companies and entities forward the same information to me and to them. If only I could look at the IRS’ notion of what has been reported, I could avoid rummaging around for all those scraps of paper at tax time.

Well, now you can. The IRS Get Transcript site allows you to get a list of all the accounts, forms, etc. that have been filed in your name.

Go to the site, create an account in the obvious way. My confirmation arrived within seconds, the entire signup process took two minutes. Then you can browse your records, both for the current tax year and for previous years (including your past tax returns).

Hat tip to Dave Winer’s Scripting News and Philip Greenspun’s blog

Categories: Life Tags:

Better than rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100

March 20th, 2014 No comments

My MacBook Pro (10.9.2) was running slowly. I saw frequent spinning beach balls, systemstats was consuming 100% of the CPU on a regular basis, Apple Mail was grinding away indexing files, etc.

The forums at discussions.apple.com contain all kinds of dicey recommendations about rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100 followed by “Works for me!” and “Didn’t work for me!” I’m not averse to wading in with Terminal, but I’d rather get advice from a trusted source.

One of the advantages of having AppleCare (you get it for 90 days after you’ve upgraded to a new OS, such as Mavericks) is that you can call 800-275-2273 and speak to a knowledgeable person. They recommended that I do three things:

  • Boot into safe mode, and let the computer perform a thorough disk and permissions check. (See the Apple “What is Safe Boot, Safe Mode?” article for more info.)

  • Force Spotlight to blow away and rebuild its index.

  • Then let Apple Mail re-index.

To do this:

  1. Boot into Safe Boot mode. Restart your computer and hold down Shift until you see the Apple and the progress bar that indicates that the hard drive is being checked/repaired. When the OS starts up (probably many minutes later), you’ll see “Safe Mode” in red text at the upper right corner of the screen. Restart your computer.

  2. To force Spotlight to rebuild its index, simply open System Preferences, click Spotlight, then the Privacy tab. Add your hard drive (hit the “+” and select the hard drive). Then close System Preferences. Re-open System Preferences, and remove the hard drive from the Privacy tab. This is the cue for Spotlight to begin re-indexing. In a moment, you can click on the Spotlight magnifying glass to see that it’s rebuilding the index. (Rebuilding took about three hours on my system.)

  3. Leave Apple Mail closed during all this. (You don’t want to have them both indexing at the same time – it hammers the processor and prolongs the agony.) When Spotlight finishes its indexing, open Apple Mail to allow it to re-index its cached files. You can continue to work in Apple Mail while this happens.

My system has been much more responsive since I did this, and I didn’t have to try any odd suggestions.

Categories: Life, Software Tags: