Archive for September, 2007

Plucker is not dead, new things are coming…

2007-09-27: Press Release: New Plucker website released with lots of new features

New Plucker Website!!!

The Plucker website has been around for many, many years (since 2001), and it has been through many different iterations with varying levels of usability and features.

The last version of the website was reported by many users to be “too complicated” and in some cases, confusing (the download page was one example).

I’ve taken some time to clean up the site, layered the options on the download page, changed all of the wording to make things much clearer, and added some new features.

With this new site, you’ll notice that the new download section has been streamlined and broken into separate sections for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, as well as other sections.

I’ve also added a new section to the samples section. Now you can download many of the most-popular Project Gutenberg ebooks in Plucker format (as well as text and HTML versions).

Don’t forget to read the “An Open Source Success Story: A History of Plucker“, which includes an interview from the original author of Plucker, Mark Lillywhite.

I’ve started a “blog” called “Plucker Projects” (or “Plucker Workshop”) that showcases many of the custom Plucker documents and works I’ve been creating over the last few years. Visit the site and take a look!

There’s a few more very exciting features I’m building to add to the website that everyone will want to use. I’ll launch those very soon.. stay tuned!

Pidgin has Flown the Coop

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Pidgin, a pile of bird droppings that used to be a useful IM clientI am a long-time fan of Gaim, the multi-service IM chat client. With it, I can chat with friends and colleagues on MSN, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber, Google Talk, ICQ and so on. I’ve used it for years, and it works great.

Then the developers decided that it had too many useful features, so they renamed it “Pidgin” and ripped out just about everything useful about it. Now it’s just a pile of broken garbage, and I’m not the only one who is upset about the changes.

If you look at the Pidgin bug reports, there are thousands of users who are upset and angry about the direction the project has taken. Here are two example bug reports and associated comments.

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Blocking an entire country IP range or TLD with iptables

I’ve had some trouble on our production webservers from entire countries hammering and abusing the services we provide. It used to be a good chunk of Brazil, but now it appears to be Costa Rica.

I found this useful tool that lets me see the ranges used by these countries. For example, I put in 200.91.76.117 and it returns this useful output:

Country = Costa Rica
Decimal IP Range = 3361423360 - 3361456127
Dot IP Range = 200.91.64.0 - 200.91.191.255

From here, I use iptables and issue the following:

$IPTABLES -A INPUT -m iprange --src-range 201.192.0.0-201.207.255.255 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j DROP

No more abuse from that entire country on port 80.

Media-driven Rectal Plotlines

There’s seems to be this alarming trend in media lately, where commercials for movies, sitcoms and other things on television are stitched together of various sound bites from completely different parts of the movie or show.

For example, they’ll show one scene of two women talking at a breakfast table saying:

“So do you think this is helpful?”

And the next scene they show is of two different women at a gun range shooting guns, and one of them says:

“Probably not.”

Why, why, why do they do this? It’s like they pulled their own alternate plotline out of their rectum, because they didn’t like the original plotline.

This reminds me of these “armchair athletes”, the overweight men who watch sports all day, then get on the radio or television and try to explain how THEY would have done it better.

“If I was on the ice, I would have skated to the right, and put the puck behind his right leg, to score.”

Maybe if you weren’t overweight, under-motivated, and got yourself out on the ice every day for the last 10 years, you MAY have a shot at that.

But because you have no skills, and only exist to point out mistakes from people who have done better than you, that’s where you remain… on the chair, bag of potato chips in your hand, ranting about others.

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