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Colin Charles: MySQL related IRC discussion channels

Fri, 2014-05-02 21:26

There are many MySQL related IRC discussion channels as the ecosystem itself grows. I join the following. Are there any that I’m missing?

Freenode (

  • #mysql – main channel for all kinds of end user MySQL related discussions (the noisiest of the lot, naturally)
  • #maria – main channel for all kinds of MariaDB related discussions
  • #webscalesql – for all kinds of WebScaleSQL discussions
  • #percona – main channel for all kinds of Percona related discussions
  • #tokutek – main channel for Tokutek discussions (TokuDB or TokuMX)
  • SkySQL-specific channels: #maxscale and #mariadb-mgr


  • #debian-mysql – for all kinds of Debian MySQL related bits (packaging, bugs, etc.)

Related posts:

  1. Biggest MySQL related news in the last 24 hours
  2. Biggest MySQL related news in the last 24 hours, Day 2
  3. Security fixes in MySQL & critical patch updates

Michael Still: A couple of days of turning

Fri, 2014-05-02 14:28
So... I finally got my chisels on Wednesday and so I've done a little turning at home in the last few days. There are two other items not shown here: a tool handle (cause its boring) and a bowl where I had depth fail and it came apart. Its also clear to me that dust extraction in the garage is a thing in my future, because a shop vac just doesn't cut if for cleanup.


Tags for this post: wood turning 20140502-woodturning photo


James Bromberger: Load Balancing on Amazon Web Services

Fri, 2014-05-02 02:26

I’ve been using Amazon’s Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) service for about a year now, and thought I should pen some of the things I’ve had to do to make it work nicely.

Firstly, when using HTTP with Apache, you probably want to add a new log format that, instead of using the Source IP address of the connection int he first field, you use the extra header that ELB adds, X-Forwarded-For. It’s very simple, something like:

LogFormat "%{X-Forwarded-For}i %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"" fwd_combined

… and then wherever you’ve been using a Log statement with format “common”, just use “fwd_common”. Next, if you’re trying to use your domain name as your web server, eg “” instead (or as well) as “”, then with Amazon Route53 (DNS hosting) you’ll get a message about a conflict witht he “apex” of the domain. You get around this using the elb-associate-route53-hosted-zone command line tool, with something like:

./elb-associate-route53-hosted-zone ELB-Web --region ap-southeast-1 --hosted-zone-id Z3S76ABCFYXRX6 --rr-name --weight 100

And if you want to also use IPv6:

./elb-associate-route53-hosted-zone ELB-Web --region ap-southeast-1 --hosted-zone-id Z3S76ABCFYXRX6 --rr-name --weight 100 --rr-type AAAA

If you’re using HTTPS, then you may have an issue if you chose to pass your SSL traffic through the ELB (just as a generic TCP stream). Since the content is encrypted, the ELB cannot modify the request header to add the X-Forwarded-For. Your only option is to “terminate” the incoming HTTPS connection on the ELB, and then having it establish a new connection to the back end instance (web server). You will need to load your certificate and key into the ELB for it to correctly represent itself as the target server. This will be an overhead on the load balancer having to decrypt (and option re-encrypt to the back end), so be aware of the costs.

One of the nice things about having the ELB in place, even for a single instance web site, is that it will do health checks and push the results to CloudWatch. CloudWatch will give you pretty graphs, but also permit you to set Alerts, which may be pushed to the Amazon Notification Service – which in turn can send you an email, or call a URL to trigger some other action that you configure (send SMS, or sound a klaxon?).

James Bromberger: Amazon Linux, EC2, S3, Perl, SSL Wildcard Certificates

Fri, 2014-05-02 02:26

Amazon Linux, one of the distributions that is recommended for Amazon EC2 customers, recently had an update — 11.09. In this there was an update to a whole raft of libraries, including the Perl LWP (libwww) library in perl-libwww-perl-5.837 (previously 5.8.33), and other related modules.

One of the changes that happened is a change of the default for “verify hostname” in the SSL protocol when using LWP::UserAgent; previously verification of the certificate to the hostname given was default disabled, and in an effort to improve security, this was turned on. You’ll see this mentioned in LWP::UserAgent documentation “The no checks behaviour was the default for libwww-perl-5.837 and earlier releases”. What’s unusual is the no-checks behaviour change is DIFFERENT in Amazon Linux’s package of 5.8.37 compared to this statement – I suspect this one line got back ported into 5.8.37 to change this default ‘in the interst of security’.

Unfortunately, this breaks a lot of scripts and other modules/libraries out there, one of which is the Amazon-issued S3 libary. S3 is the Amazon Simple Storage Service (SSS => S3), with which a user (customer) has their data arranged in “buckets”, with data in objects identified by ‘keys’ (like a file name). All data is put to, and read from the S3 service over HTTPS – it’s not locally mounted (though some cleaver fuse stuff may make that look possible – but it is still over HTTPS.

A bucket in S3 has a name, and for the example I have, the name looks like a domain name ( When accessing this bucket, the Amazon S3 Perl library connects to an alias hostname (CNAME) made up combining the bucket name above with ““, so our example here becomes ““. This site is using a wildcard certificate for “*” (you can see it as an Alternate Subject Name extension in the SSL certificate). This permits the certificate to be considered as valid for any hostname directly under the domain. However, subject to RFC 2818, the only thing permitted before “” is a single name – not a (seemingly valid) dotted domain name. So “” is OK with a wildcard certificate, but “” is not.

There are several solutions. The easiest is to turn off SSL certificate verification again in your script. A handy ENV environment variable may be set to do this: $ENV{PERL_LWP_SSL_VERIFY_HOSTNAME}=0. Alternatively, if you are using LWP directly, you can pass an initalisation parameter to LWP of ssl_options => { verify_hostname => 0}. Both effectively abandon any certificate verification.

Somewhat more complicated, you can define a custom validation callback (procedure) to further determine if the certificate is valid. This is in contravention to RFC 2818, and seems like a lot more hassle to work around.

Perhaps the easiest solution here is to avoid using period/dot/’.’ in Bucket Names in S3, thereby removing the conflict between the strict checking.

The most important thing is how lax we have been at verifying SSL certificates, and have come to rely on that just working. It is good to verify the SSL certificate matches the host in scripts: I don’t want to start communicating authentication information over an SSL channel if we can easily see we’ve been duped on the remote end. I was not familiar with wildcard certificates only being valid for one component of a domain name; this kind of reduces their effectiveness in my mind in some sense.They’ve always been more expensive than standard certificates, but being better aware of the FQDNs they will validate on is useful.

I’ve seen several other instances outside of this S3 example where invalid certificates have blindly been accepted by scripts (a CloudWatch example I saw with a redirect ‘hop’ through an SSL site); this default change from lax to legitimate certificates may actually encourage better adoption of the security that SSL can give — when we’re already paying for SSL certs — or lead us (as developers and architects) to acknowledge when we’re actively ignoring that layer of protection.

It’s early days now but as this default change filters into Linux distributions (and Perl distributions on other platforms) then we’ll start to see a lot of FAQs on this.

James Bromberger: Rusty’s talk at PLUG

Fri, 2014-05-02 02:26

What a week for PLUG. After months of organisation, we were honoured by Rusty Russell flying to Perth for PLUG. He presented a talk entitled “Coding: lets have fun“, which showed the simplicity and beauty of a regular expression engine in around 20 lines of C, to a wireframe Flight Sim from a recent IOCCC where the code itself was formated in the outline of an aircraft, and then a dotted history of his experiences and where he has found joy in coding.

After a pizza dinner break for the 46 (or thereabouts) people present, Rusty was then corraled into a panel discussion with Dr Chris McDonald from UWA CompSci, and Assistant Professor Robert Cunningham from UWA Law for a chat on various topics; seems like cloud computing was on everyone’s thoughts.

The PLUG AV crew streamed this event live, and recorded it: videos of the talk (93 MB mp4) and the panel (115 MB mp4) are now available (both are around an hour and a quarter). Older videos are here.

Rusty was very generous in refusing to accept the collected funds for the expenses, so we have money now to repeat this exercise of flying in another speaker. It’s up to PLUGGers to try and decide who they would like to see next! Time-wise its likely to be Q2 next year as PLUG has a full schedule until then.

Big thanks to Chris, Robert and Rusty for speaking – they were all excellent. Also to Daniel Hamrsworth for co-ordinating tickets, the AV crew for their recording, and for everyone who put their hand in their pocket to help the event come together.

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 93: A whole lot of running around

Thu, 2014-05-01 21:26

This morning Zoe woke up again at around 4am and ended up in bed with me. I don't even remember why she woke up, and neither does she, but she's assuring me it won't happen tomorrow morning. We'll see.

As a result of the disturbed night's sleep, we had a bit of a slow start to the day. Zoe was happy to go off and watch some TV after she woke up for the day, and that let me have a bit more of a doze before I got up, which made things vaguely better for me.

ABC 4 Kids has been showing a lot of ads for Ha Ha Hairies, which airs at 10:20am, lately, and it's one of the shows that isn't available on iView. Zoe had been lamenting that she never got to see it, and asking me if she could. Today the schedule was fairly open, so I made sure we were home at 10:20am. That involved a quick dash out to Woolies first to get a few bits and pieces for Zoe's birthday party.

While Zoe watched the Ha Ha Hairies, I did some bulk egg hard boiling in the oven. After the Ha Ha Hairies and a little bit of general mucking around, we drove out to Spotlight to pick up the helium tank I'd rented. Zoe nearly fell asleep on the way out there.

We picked up the helium tank and headed back home. That errand alone probably took a bit over an hour all up. We got back home and had lunch, but by the time all of that was out of the way, Zoe seemed to have missed the window for her nap. She did have a bit of a rest in bed, flipping through her library books, and I got to read some of my book as well, so that was nice. During that time, I got the call from Bunkers saying they were about half an hour out with the delivery of Zoe's bunk bed (my birthday present for her). That worked out well, as it was towards the start of the two hour window they'd advised me of.

The bunk bed was delivered and then we popped out to Overflow to see if they had any food covers for the party food (they did) so we picked up a few of them. Today I learned that "As Seen On TV" is trademarked, and so "Similar To As Seen On TV" is the trademark dodging thing to put on cheap knock-offs. As Overflow is two doors down from Petbarn, we stopped in there as well and grabbed some more kitty litter. One does not just pop into Petbarn with Zoe, so we spent some time there looking at the fish and assorting aquarium paraphernalia. They also had some hermit crabs now too.

On the way back home, we stopped in at (a different) Woolies to pick up the half slab of chocolate mudcake that I'd ordered for Zoe's birthday cake. I'd decided that the upright Minion cake I'd initially wanted to do was just way too adventurous for my abilities and not a good use of my time (and the quotes I'd sought for outsourcing it had come in at over $300). I scaled things back to just a flat slab Minion, which may still exceed my cake decorating abilities, but we'll find out tomorrow.

There'd been a miscommunication at Woolworths, and my half slab hadn't been boxed up and wasn't ready for my collection. All the bakery staff had already gone home, and I didn't really want to come back tomorrow, because I had this crazy idea of possibly starting on the cake tonight (not going to happen), so a couple of non-bakery staff had to find the cake and figure out how to extract a full slab from the baking tray and cut it in half and box it up. It provided some entertainment for Zoe and I.

We finally got home, and I rehashed some frozen leftovers for dinner. I decided to try something different for the bath time and bed time routine to see if it'd reduce procrastination. I got Zoe to pick out the three books she wanted to read at bed time before we got to story time, so we'd have something concrete to negotiate with. I also threw in the possibility of a "bonus story" if she didn't muck around. It seemed to work, and we had a fairly streamlined bath time. There's no doubt she was pretty tired today, and she went to bed without any fuss, so I'm hopeful that we'll have a good night tonight.

Michael Still: Another bowl

Thu, 2014-05-01 11:28
Here's a bowl I made last weekend. My sister hurt herself at her Roller Derby match, so she ended up with the bowl of condolences. At first I thought this wood was ash, but its acutally catalpa.


Tags for this post: wood turning 20140428-woodturning photo


Russell Coker: Links April 2014

Thu, 2014-05-01 11:27

Yves Rossy is the Jetman, he flys with a wing and four jet engines strapped to his body, he gave an interesting TED talk about flying along with some exciting videos [1].

Larry Brilliant gave an informative and inspiring TED talk about stopping pandemics [2]. I thought that Smallpox was the last disease to be eradicated but I was wrong.

Michael Shermer gave an interesting TED talk about pattern recognition and self deception [3]. It’s a pity that the kissing prank shown at the end only pranked women, they should be less sexist and prank men too.

Raffaello D Andrea gave an interesting TED presentation about “Athletic” quadcopters [4]. It’s very impressive and has the potential for several new human/machine sports.

Lisa D wrote an insightful article about Prejudice Spillover discussing the way that people who aren’t in minority groups only seem to care about injustice when a member of the majority is targetted by mistake [5].

Ron Garret wrote an insightful post about the Divine Right of Billionaires which debunks some stupid arguments by a billionaire [6]. Ron says that “it’s often instructive to examine incorrect arguments, especially when those arguments are advanced by smart people” and demonstrates it in this post.

Lisa D wrote an interesting post about her problems with financial aid bureaucracy [7]. She intended the post to be a personal one about her situation, but I think it illustrates problems with the various aid programs. If aid was available to her with less bureaucracy then she would be doing paid work, completing her studies, and heading towards post-graduate studies.

Mark Shuttleworth wrote an insightful article about ACPI, security, and device tree [8]. It’s the first time I’ve seen a good argument for device tree.

TED presented an interesting video-conference interview with Edward Snowden [9]. It’s unusually long by TED standards but definitely worth watching.

Tom Meagher (who’s wife was raped and murdered two years ago) wrote an insightful article about rape culture [10].

Key Lay (the Victorian Chief Commissioner of Police) wrote a good article encouraging men to act to stop violence against women [11]. It’s particularly noteworthy when a senior police officer speaks out about this given the difficulties women have had in reporting such crimes to police.

Emily Baker wrote an insightful article about the lack of support for soldiers who survive war [12]. A lot of attention and money is spent remembering the soldiers who died in the field but little on those who live suffer afterwards, more soldiers die from suicide than enemy fire.

Daniel Pocock wrote an informative article about the failings of SMS authentication for online banking [13]. While he has good points I think he’s a little extreme. Stopping the least competent attackers is still a significant benefit as most potential attackers aren’t that competent.

Jess Zimmerman wrote an interesting article for Time about the “Not All Men” argument that is a current trend in derailing discussions about the treatment of women [14].

The Belle Jar has an insightful article “Why Won’t You Educate Me About Feminism” about some ways that men pretend to care about the treatment of women [15].

Jon Evans wrote an article for Tech Crunch about the “Honywell Bubble Count” measure of diversity in people you follow on social media [16]. Currently on Twitter I follow 57 accounts of which 15 are companies and organisations, so I follow 42 people. I follow 13 women 31%, for a visible minority group other than my own it’s 2/42 or 5%, for people who live in other countries I think it’s 8/42 (although it’s difficult to determine where some people live) which is 19%. So my Honywell number is 55.

The Top Stocks forum has an interesting post by a Coal Seam Gas (CSG) worker [17]. It seems that CSG is even worse than I thought.

Ashe Dryden wrote an informative post for Model View Culture about the backlash that members of minority groups (primarily women) receive when they speak out [18].

Related posts:

  1. Links April 2012 Karen Tse gave an interesting TED talk about how to...
  2. Links March 2014 Typing Animal wrote an interesting article about the dangers of...
  3. Links February 2014 The Economist has an interesting and informative article about the...

Tridge on UAVs: An open letter to Paul from witespy

Thu, 2014-05-01 00:43

Hi Paul,

I don't know if you know me. I'm a lead developer for the ardupilot project. You know, the project that you just accused of not being open source in an interview on I write about half the code for the project, so maybe you've heard of me.

If you've been following my work for the last 4 years on ardupilot then you would know that I'm generally a pretty mild mannered person. I try to keep my posts polite and helpful, to generally raise the tone of diydrones and open source projects in general.

Well, you better don your asbestos suit now, because I also have a rarely seen darker side. Just occasionally someone does something that pisses me off so much that I get really really annoyed. Your recent actions have done that, so here comes a flaming.

Some background

A real flaming doesn't generally come with a background introduction, but hey, I still have a mild side too (despite the fact that I am seething with anger at you right now), so why not.

I'm a long time open source developer. I started contributing to open source in the late 80s. There is a good chance that when you read this letter the bits are getting to you via computers running open source code that I've contributed to. On the wall behind me is a Free Software Foundation award for the advancement of free software. I teach a masters course on how to build and contribute to open source projects. I'm not an open source newbie. Perhaps you should have checked before making outlandish claims about ardupilot, a project that I've put my heart and sole into for so long?

I've been working on ardupilot for 3 and a half years now. In that time I've contributed over 5000 patches to the project. Given your amazing statements on the crashcast podcast and on your website about you being a defender of open source I expected to see your name in the contribution list. Strangely enough, it's not there. Did you use a pseudonym in all the contributions you have made or did you just accuse a project that you have no association with of not being open source?

How Open Source Works

As I describe in my course, open source is different for different people. Me, I'm a free software radical. I like everything I do to be FOSS (free and open source software). If I can't do something with FOSS then I see if I can write a FOSS tool to do it, then distribute it to the world. As a result I've started about 30 FOSS projects over the years and contributed to dozens more. I'm such a radical that many people in the FOSS world (including Linus Torvalds) have accused me of being too radical, and pushing the "free software or death" line too hard.

One of the big misunderstandings about open source is the insane and self-serving idea you have been pushing that the ardupilot project is somehow required, because of open source principles that you somehow fail to explain, to provide your company with binaries of our software that work on your board. That is utter and complete drivel and rubbish. You're wrapping yourself up in the open source flag while not even having the faintest idea of how open source works.

Open source project leaders can choose which hardware they support. As a lead developer of the ardupilot project I have chosen to try to make the code work on as many boards as possible. So in fact the site (which I maintain) does provide firmware that will probably work on your RTFHawk boards. I've also worked with people who want to port ardupilot to completely new hardware platforms. Did you notice I merged in support for Flymaple boards a few months back? Did you notice I merged in support for the VRBrain too? Did you notice the work I've been doing on porting ardupilot to the BeagleBone?

I'm guessing you didn't notice any of that or you wouldn't be making such grandiose and idiotic claims about ardupilot not being an open project.

So here's the deal. Open source project leaders get to choose what code they accept, what code they write and how the projects get managed. Really basic stuff really. I have chosen to make ardupilot widely portable and flexible, but I didn't have to. It would still be open source if I wrote the code to only work on one brand of board.

Michael Oborne is the project leader of the MissionPlanner project. He has done an awesome job building up MissionPlanner from scratch, and making it a GCS that people love to use. As the project leader for MissionPlanner he gets to set the policy. If he wants it to only load firmware to only blue boards with pink edging that have butterflies embossed on the PCB then that would be his right. I might give him some odd looks if he did that, but I'd defend his right to do it.

Because MissionPlanner is an open source project you can make it do something different if you like. If you don't like what it does then why not try something really radical like talking to him (you _did_ talk to him before accusing him of heinous crimes against the open source world? right? yes?). Hey, you could even send him a patch! Now there is a radical idea. If that fails then you could fork MissionPlanner and make it do what you want it to do. That is the fundamental succinct definition of open source after all - the right to fork. You have that right, even if perhaps you don't deserve it after all you've said in recent days.

Why do we work closely with 3DR?

If I were to believe the crap you said on that podcast then it would seem that I'm held hostage by 3DRobotics. Help, I'm an open source developer being supported by a hardware company that uses my software. Oh no!! Help me get out!!

The fact is the ardupilot developers work closely with 3DRobotics because it benefits the project. Think about that. We choose to work with them because working with them advances the aim of producing the most awesome free software autopilot that we can.

I regularly get asked by Craig Elder from 3DRobotics if there is anything he can send me to help me with my work on ardupilot. If I say "well, I fried my last Pixhawk while testing the power handling to its limits" then he pops a couple of new ones in a fedex pouch and sends it down to me in Australia. It's great!

They even pay me! I get 100% copyright on all the work I do, I get complete discretion on what code I put in and I get paid to do it. Yep, open source developers can get paid!

In fact, most large open source projects have lots of paid developers. Ever heard of the Linux kernel? Last I heard about 80% of the code is written by people who work for hardware companies that benefit from the project. This is normal. I've been paid to develop open source software by numerous companies for 20 years.

The main difference with 3DRobotics is that they are one of very few companies who have been enlightened enough to pay the ardupilot core developers. In the case of Linux there are hundreds of companies that have understood open source enough to pay the core developers. Chris Anderson from 3DRobotics saw that pitching in money to pay the people who have been working on ardupilot for so long is a good thing both for the ardupilot project and for 3DRobotics, so he did it. Now you throw that back at him and try to use it to accuse him and 3DRobotics of being some evil company perverting open source. What sort of insane logic does that stem from?

I looked in my letter box today and I didn't see any hardware from you. I bet if I talk to all the other ardupilot devs they would tell me you didn't send any hardware to them either. I haven't seen any code from you. Yet you get up on your high horse and try to claim that we owe you something? Please just crawl back into the hole you came from.

That OTP thing

The thing you have built your edifice of open source outrage on is the way that MissionPlanner checks the OTP area of Pixhawk boards and doesn't load firmware unless they match a particular public key. I have stated publicly that I don't like that behaviour. I have also made it clear that it is Michael's decision as project leader for MissionPlanner.

I have been working with other developers to try to come up with a better solution. That is how things are done in the open source world. Contributors to projects tell the project leader if they don't like something the project does and the project leader takes their ideas into consideration. Ultimately the project leader (Michael in this case) gets to choose.

So we agree?

You might think that because I also don't like the current OTP mechanism that we are in agreement. We are not. I wouldn't be flaming you in such a long winded fashion if I agreed with you.

You are taking advantage of the OTP behaviour for your own ends, and those ends have absolutely nothing to do with protecting open source.

Let's have a quick look at your actual behaviour with regards to open source and your RTFHawk project. Given your rabid defence of open source I presume you've read the license of the projects you are criticising so loudly? It's the GNU GPLv3. I happened to be on a committee that helped develop that license, so maybe you don't know it quite as well as I do. Here is a refresher. When you distribute binaries that are built from source code that is under the GPLv3 you need to (among other things) do the following:

  • make the recipients of the binaries aware of their rights under the GPL. Have a look at for how we do that
  • offer the source code to anyone who asks for it (which is why making them aware of this is so important)

So, let's see. On your website you have a binary copy of MissionPlanner modified to upload firmware to your board. Do you tell people who go there that it's GPLv3 software? Do you link to the source code? Do you offer the patches you've done? Nope, nope and nope.

What is more, you are wrapping yourself in an open source flag and trying to use that flag to sell your clone boards. You do this by criticising 3DRobtotics, a company that has done more for open source autopilots than any other company I know of. You are doing this as a company that has, as far as I am aware, done absolutely zero to benefit the ardupilot project or MissionPlanner that you are criticising.

So what now?

First off, go read up on open source. Read some of ESRs essays. Read the FSF site.

Then go away. One of the things a open source project can do is ignore people who really piss them off. You have really pissed me off. I would not accept a patch from you in future, even if you ever could be bothered to get off your ass and make a real contribution.

I will accept patches from other hardware vendors, and I look forward to working with other hardware vendors who make boards that run ardupilot, just like I have done ever since I got involved in this project. I love working with any hardware vendors who make great autopilots and who want to work with the project. I will do it regardless of whether they contribute money or hardware, because I love to see the platform grow. I won't however work with you because you have decided to start off the relationship between your company and the ardupilot project by insulting it and using those insults to further your own aims. So congratulations, you are the first company that I have banned from working with the ardupilot project, or at least working with me on it. Maybe you'd like to put that on your website?

Time to get some sleep.

Michael Fox: Ubuntu 14.04 Server with TvHeadend and Realtek RTL2832U USB tuner

Wed, 2014-04-30 22:26

If you seen my previous posts here and here. I can confirm that the instructions I provided on the post here are still applicable to the installation of TvHeadend on Ubuntu 14.04 Server.

I just installed Ubuntu 14.04 Server tonight and tested the installation process of TvHeadend per my other notes and it works fine.

Ironically enough so far I really like Ubuntu 14.04 Server, so I will leave it running for a bit and see how much I do like it after a few days and/or weeks.

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 92: Kindergarten, cleaning and more birthday party preparation

Wed, 2014-04-30 21:26

I'm mostly back into my normal routine now. Next week should be spot on. Today, after my chiropractic adjustment and another walk to the post office to collect another package, I got stuck into cleaning the house.

I got that mostly done before my massage, and knocked out the rest of it before I picked up Zoe from Kindergarten.

Zoe seems to have successfully dropped her day time nap at Kindergarten now, which certainly makes a huge difference to getting out of the place on time.

I'd underestimated the number of kids coming to Zoe's birthday party, so I needed to get some extra goody bags made up, so we headed directly out to Westfield Carindale to raid the The Reject Shop for some more bits and pieces.

After we got home from that, Zoe watched a bit of TV and helped me assemble the extra bags, and then we had dinner.

After some epic procrastination (on Zoe's behalf) I managed to get her to bed approximately on time. I really need to try some different approaches to getting through the bath time routine, because it's just taking too long. I gave myself a couple of time outs because I could see the situation deteriorating if I didn't. It's unhelpful that my blog seems to be the third hit in Google at the moment for "positive parent procrastination". I don't have the answers.

Ben Martin: Actobotics and ServoCity, addictive Robot fun!

Tue, 2014-04-29 22:50
I have had the great fortune to play around with some of the Actobotics components. The main downside I've seen so far is that its highly addictive!

What started out as a 3 wheel robot base then obtained a Web interface and an on board access point to control the speed and steering of the beast. The access point runs openWRT (now) and so with the Beagle there are two Linux machines on board!

The pan and tilt is also controlled via the Web interface and SVGA video streams over the access point from the top mounted web camera. There is a Lithium battery mounted in channel below the BeagleBone Black which powers it, the camera, and the TPLink access point. That block of 8 AA rechargables is currently tasked with turning the motors and servo.

It's early days yet for the robot. With a gyro I can make the pan gearmotor software limited so it doesn't wrap the cables around by turning multiple revolutions. Some feedback from the wheel gearmotors, location awareness and ultrasound etc will start to make commands like "go to the kitchen" more of a possibility.

James Morris: Linux Security Summit 2014 (Chicago) -– Call for Participation

Tue, 2014-04-29 22:26

The CFP for the 2014 Linux Security Summit is announced.

LSS 2014 will be co-located with LinuxCon North America in Chicago, on the 18th and 19th of August.  We’ll also be co-located with the Kernel Summit this year.

Note that, as always, we’re looking for participation from the general Linux community — not just kernel people, and not just developers.  We’re interested in hearing about feedback from users, and discussing what kinds of security problems we need to be addressing into the future.

This year, we’re looking for discussion topics as well as paper presentations, so if you have anything interesting to talk about, send in a proposal.

The CFP closes on 6th June.

Michael Fox: rtorrent and rutorrent on Debian 7.5 Wheezy

Tue, 2014-04-29 22:26

I was hoping to install rtorrent and rutorrent on Debian 7.5 Wheezy, however it appears although I was referencing the page here, it appears to not work that simply.

i.e. Appears the installation of the two packages below causes some messed up packaging conflict and it seems to be in some sort of dead lock. I couldn’t get past it so I had to give up for now.

Problem packages causing packaging conflict is these;

  • libcurl4-openssl-dev
  • libssl-dev

Will give it another go in a few weeks time. I’ll also continue to do a bit of research to see if anyone has had success with this and how they did it.

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 91: Kindergarten, a successful assault on my to do list, haircuts and venus fly traps

Tue, 2014-04-29 22:26

I hate the days when I wake up at odd hours for no good reason. This morning I woke up at 4:30am briefly, with no idea why. It makes me wonder if there was some sort of external noise, and that's what woke Zoe up yesterday morning.

I got myself going at a reasonable hour this morning, and decided to walk to the Bulimba post office to collect a package that was waiting for me. It was a nice enough morning for a walk, and I'm glad I decided to do it.

Along the way, I observed multiple grandmothers walking their grandchildren to school. I've been thinking a lot about next year lately. I feel very strongly about Zoe not having to go into after school care. It seems that one of the new societal norms is the grandparents have to step in with the school transportation and after school care. That's not going to be particularly practical in our situation though, so I'm currently leaning towards seeking some sort of flexible employment next year that will allow me to be able to be available after Zoe finishes school.

I was fairly motivated to get stuck into my to do list after my walk. A long standing item was to cancel one of my remaining US credit cards, and the time difference worked out well to do that, so I finally took care of that. I then realised it was a good time for the US East Coast, so I did a Hangout with one of my best friends in New York. It was great to have a catch up.

After that, I finished off my US tax return, and also sorted out some other stuff that needed finishing off. I had to go to the Valley to find a FedEx location, so I drove over there, and on the way back stopped off in Bulimba to get some Mother's Day cards. By that stage it was about time to pick up Zoe from Kindergarten, so I quickly grabbed some lunch and then drove over to pick her up.

She didn't nap again today, so that made our departure from Kindergarten nice and easy. I'd booked both of us in for haircuts at 3pm, so we got home with enough time for Zoe to ride her scooter to the hairdresser. We had our haircuts and Zoe had a bit of a play in the play corner, and we headed back home.

I'd bought a venus fly trap from Bunnings last week while we were picking up other bits and pieces. I wanted to show Zoe how they worked, so we watched a few YouTube videos. This one was particularly good. After that, we went down to the rubbish skip with our fly trap to see if we could catch any flies in it, but Zoe quickly lost interest. So we headed back upstairs, and triggered one with a toothpick. I probably could have done this on a Friday and called it a Science Friday activity with a botany bent.

After that, we just watched some TV together on the couch until Sarah arrived to pick her up.

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Announce: LUV Main May 2014 Meeting: Heartbleed + WLCG

Tue, 2014-04-29 18:29
Start: May 6 2014 19:00 End: May 6 2014 21:00 Start: May 6 2014 19:00 End: May 6 2014 21:00 Location: 

The Buzzard Lecture Theatre. Evan Burge Building, Trinity College, Melbourne University Main Campus, Parkville.


Russell Coker, Why I Hate OpenSSL and Heartbleed

Sean Crosby, Worldwide LHC Computing Grid

The Buzzard Lecture Theatre, Evan Burge Building, Trinity College Main Campus Parkville Melways Map: 2B C5

Notes: Trinity College's Main Campus is located off Royal Parade. The Evan Burge Building is located near the Tennis Courts. See our Map of Trinity College. Additional maps of Trinity and the surrounding area (including its relation to the city) can be found at

Parking can be found along or near Royal Parade, Grattan Street, Swanston Street and College Crescent. Parking within Trinity College is unfortunately only available to staff.

For those coming via Public Transport, the number 19 tram (North Coburg - City) passes by the main entrance of Trinity College (Get off at Morrah St, Stop 12). This tram departs from the Elizabeth Street tram terminus (Flinders Street end) and goes past Melbourne Central Timetables can be found on-line at:

Before and/or after each meeting those who are interested are welcome to join other members for dinner. We are open to suggestions for a good place to eat near our venue. Maria's on Peel Street in North Melbourne is currently the most popular place to eat after meetings.

LUV would like to acknowledge Red Hat for their help in obtaining the Buzzard Lecture Theatre venue and VPAC for hosting, and BENK Open Systems for their financial support of the Beginners Workshops

Linux Users of Victoria Inc., is an incorporated association, registration number A0040056C.

May 6, 2014 - 19:00

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Russell Coker: Autism and the Treatment of Women Again

Tue, 2014-04-29 16:26

I’ve previously written about the claim that people use Autism as an excuse for bad behavior [1]. In summary it doesn’t and such claims instead lead to people not being assessed for Autism.

I’ve also previously written about empathy and Autism in the context of discussions about conference sexual harassment [2]. The main point is that anyone who’s going to blame “empathy disorders” for the widespread mistreatment of women in society and divert the subject from the actions of average men to men in minority groups isn’t demonstrating empathy.

Discussions of the actions of average men are so often derailed to cover Autism that the Geek Feminism Wiki has a page about the issue of blaming Autism [3].

The Latest Issue

Last year Shanley Kane wrote an informative article for Medium titled “What Can Men Do” about the treatment of women in the IT industry [4]. It’s a good article, I recommend reading it. As an aside @shanley’s twitter feed is worth reading [5].

In response to Shanley’s article Jeff Atwood wrote an article of the same title this year which covered lots of other things [6]. He writes about Autism but doesn’t seem to realise that officially Asperger Syndrome is now Autism according to DSM-V (they decided that separate diagnosis of Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD-NOS were too difficult and merged them). Asperger Syndrome is now a term that refers to historic issues (IE research that was published before DSM-V) and slang use.

Gender and the Autism Spectrum

Jeff claims that “autism skews heavily towards males at a 4:1 ratio” and cites the Epidemiology of Autism Wikipedia page as a reference. Firstly that page isn’t a great reference, I fixed one major error (which was obviously wrong to anyone who knows anything about Autism and also contradicted the cited reference) in the first section while writing this post.

The Wikipedia page cites a PDF about the Epidemiology of Autism that claims the 4.3:1 ratio of boys to girls [7]. However that PDF is a summary of other articles and the one which originated the 4.3:1 claim is behind a paywall. One thing that is worth noting in the PDF is that the section containing the 4.3:1 claim also references claims about correlations between race and Autism and studies contradicting such claims – it notes the possibility of “ascertainment bias”. I think that anyone who reads that section should immediately consider the possibility of ascertainment bias in regard to the gender ratio.

Most people who are diagnosed with Autism are diagnosed as children. An Autism diagnosis of a child is quite subjective, an important part is an IQ test (where the psychologist interprets the intent of the child in the many cases where answers aren’t clear) to compare social skills with IQ. So whether a child is diagnosed is determined by the psychologist’s impression of the child’s IQ vs the impression of their social skills.

Whether a child is even taken for assessment depends on whether they act in a way that’s considered to be obviously different. Any child who is suspected of being on the Autism Spectrum will be compared other children who have been diagnosed (IE mostly boys) and this will probably increase the probability that a boy will be assessed. So an Aspie girl might not be assessed because she acts like other Aspie girls not like the Aspie boys her parents and teachers have seen.

The way kids act is not solely determined by neuro-type. Our society expects and encourages boys to be louder than girls and take longer and more frequent turns to speak, this is so widespread that I don’t think it’s possible for parents to avoid it if their kids are exposed to the outside world. Because of this boys who would be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome by DSM-IV tend to act in ways that are obviously different from other kids. While the combination of Autism and the the social expectations on girls tends to result in girls who are quiet, shy, and apologetic. The fact that girls are less obviously different and that their differences cause fewer difficulties for parents and teachers makes them less likely to be assessed. Note that the differences in behavior of boys and girls who have been diagnosed is noted by the professionals (and was discussed at a conference on AsperGirls that my wife attended) while the idea that this affects assessment rates is my theory.

Jeff also cites the book “The Essential Difference: Male And Female Brains And The Truth About Autism” by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen (who’s (in)famous for his “Extreme Male Brain” theory). The first thing to note about the “Extreme Male Brain” theory are that it depends almost entirely on the 4.3:1 ratio of males to females on the Autism Spectrum (which is dubious as I noted above). The only other evidence in support of it is subjective studies of children which suffer from the same cultural issues – this is why “double blind” tests should be used whenever possible. The book Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine [8] debunks Simon Baron-Cohen’s work among other things. The “look inside” feature of the Amazon page for Delusions of Gender allows you to read about Simon Baron-Cohen’s work [9].

Now even if the “Extreme Male Brain” theory had any merit it would be a really bad idea to cite it (or a book based on it) if you want to make things better for women in the IT industry. Cordelia’s book debunks the science and also shows how such claims about supposed essential difference are taken as exclusionary.

The Problem with Jeff Atwood

Jeff suggests in his post that men should listen to women. Then he and his followers have a huge flame-war with many women over twitter during which which he tweeted “Trying to diversify my follows by following any female voices that engaged me in a civil, constructive way recently“. If you only listen to women who agree with you then that doesn’t really count as listening to women. When you have a stated policy of only listening to women who agree then it seems to be more about limiting what women may feel free to say around you. The Geek Feminism wiki page about the “Tone Argument [10] says the following:

One way in which the tone argument frequently manifests itself is as a call for civility. A way to gauge whether a request for civility is sincere or not is to ask whether the person asking for civility has more power along whatever axes are contextually relevant (see Intersectionality) than the person being called “incivil”, less power, or equal power. Often, people who have the privilege of being listened to and taken seriously level accusations of “incivility” as a silencing tactic, and label as “incivil” any speech or behavior that questions their privilege. For example, some men label any feminist thought or speech as hostile or impolite; there is no way for anybody to question male power or privilege without being called rude or aggressive. Likewise, some white people label any critical discussion of race, particularly when initiated by people of color, as incivil.

Writing about one topic is also a really good idea. A blog post titled “What Can Men Do” should be about things that men can do. Not about Autism, speculation about supposed inherent differences between men and women which are based on bad research, gender diversity in various occupations, etc. Following up a post on “What Can Men Do” with discussion (in blog comments and twitter) about what women should do before they are allowed to join the conversation is ridiculous. Jeff’s blog post says that men should listen to women, excluding women based on the tone argument is gross hypocrisy.


Jeff makes a big deal of the fact that Shanley uses some profane language in her tweets. This combines a couple of different ways of silencing women. It’s quite common for women to be held to a high standard of “ladylike” behavior, while men get a free pass on doing the same thing. One example of this is the Geek Feminism article about the results of Sarah Sharp’s request for civility in the Linux kernel community [11]. That’s not an isolated incident, to the best of my recollection in 20+ years my local Linux Users Group has had only one debate about profanity on mailing lists – in that case a woman (who is no longer active in the group) was criticised for using lesser profanity than men used both before and after with no comment (as an experiment I used some gratuitous profanity a couple of weeks later and no-one commented).

There is also a common difference in interpretation of expressions of emotion, when a woman seems angry then she invariably has men tell her to change her approach (even when there are obvious reasons for her anger) while when a man is angry the possibility that other people shouldn’t make him angry will usually be considered.

The issues related to the treatment of women have had a large affect on Shanley’s life and her friend’s lives. It’s quite understandable that she is angry about this. Her use of profanity in tweets seems appropriate to the situation.

Other Links

Newsweek’s “Gentlemen” in Technology article has a section about Jeff [12], it’s interesting to note his history of deleting tweets and editing his post. I presume he will change his post in response to mine and not make any note of the differences.

Jacob Kaplan-Moss wrote a good rebuttal to Jeff’s post [13]. It’s a good article and has some other relevant links that are worth reading.

Related posts:

  1. Empathy, Autism, and Geeks LWN has a recent article titled “The dark side of...
  2. Autism Awareness and the Free Software Community It’s Autism Awareness Month April is Autism Awareness month, there...
  3. Autism, Food, etc James Purser wrote “Stop Using Autism to Push Your Own...

Lev Lafayette: Slackware Install and Use of gcalcli

Tue, 2014-04-29 11:29

In the organisation of one's life it's a good idea to make use of a scheduler - that is, a diary, a calender, etc - as distinct from a to-do list which will be visited at another time. This is the place for appointments etc that should not be changed; not tasks or projects. One particularly popular implementation, given that it can be accessed anywhere where one has Internet access, is Google Calendar.

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Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 90: Kindergarten, and a motivational slump

Mon, 2014-04-28 22:26

My alternative option to quitting my day job so I could spend more time with Zoe was to take three months leave without pay. That wasn't really a great option, because it would mean that Zoe would only get one term of Kindergarten, and then I'd be back at work.

Well today is the day that I'd go back to work if I took 3 months leave without pay.

So far, I have zero regrets from doing the stay year-long at home Dad thing. At the end of the first week, I was absolutely exhausted, and a little worried that I'd bitten off more than I could chew, but since that point, I've found my stride and now I'm mostly just worried about what I'm going to do with myself next year.

I'm really happy with the range of activities that I've been able to do with Zoe in the past 90 days. For this term, I'm going to do a combination of repeating some of the things we've done previously (Zoe's already asking to go ice skating again), and introduce her to a few new things that we didn't get a chance to do last term. As it starts to cool down a little bit more, we'll be looking around for more indoor activities to do, as well.

Today though, I had a bit of a motivational slump. Zoe woke up, briefly, at 4:30am. I can't even remmeber why. I was smack bang in the middle of some serious REM sleep, so I found getting up to attend to her particularly jarring. I was a bit sluggish this morning as a result, and Zoe was also doing some spectacular procrastination. That coupled with rain meant we were a bit late getting to Kindergarten.

The drop off itself went pretty well, and I drove home and had a late shower. There was a myriad of things I could have been doing, but I mostly just made a bunch of phone calls to organise things, did some more planning for Zoe's birthday party this Saturday, and waited for pick up time to roll around. I'll need to do a better job of being self-disciplined tomorrow.

Kindergarten pick up was fine. I've been encouraging Zoe to reconsider napping at rest time, and the last two times I've picked her up, she hasn't napped, which has made for a much easier departure, and she hasn't been noticeably worse for wear for it.

We went to take a look at the park we're having her birthday party in on Saturday, just to get a lie of the land in terms of tables and BBQs, and then we went to the Valley to clear my PO box. After that we went to the dance store in the Valley to get a leotard, socks and stockings for her ballet class.

By the time we got home from all of that, there was only about an hour before Sarah was due to pick Zoe up, so she watched a bit of TV, and then we played hide and seek for a bit, and watered the seeds we've planted.

I skipped yoga tonight because I'm still on lifting restrictions, and decided to skip Meatless Monday as well and hang out with my friend Michael and eat all the ribs I could handle. Boy was that an eating binge.

Francois Marier: Settings v. Prefs in Gaia Development

Mon, 2014-04-28 18:36

Jed and I got confused the other day when trying to add hidden prefs for a small Firefox OS application. We wanted to make a few advanced options configurable via preferences (like those found in about:config in Firefox) but couldn't figure out why it wasn't possible to access them from within our certified application.

The answer is that settings and prefs are entirely different things in FxOS land.


This is how you set prefs in Gaia:

pref("devtools.debugger.forbid-certified-apps", false); pref("dom.inter-app-communication-api.enabled", true);

from build/config/custom-prefs.js.

These will be used by the Gecko layer like this:

if (!Preferences::GetBool("dom.inter-app-communication-api.enabled", false)) { return false; }

from within C++ code, and like this:

let restrictPrivileges = Services.prefs.getBoolPref("devtools.debugger.forbid-certified-apps");

from JavaScript code.

Preferences can be strings, integers or booleans.


Settings on the other hand are JSON objects which can be set like this:

"alarm.enabled": false,

in build/config/common-settings.json and can then be read like this:

var req = navigator.mozSettings.createLock().get('alarm.enabled'); req.onsuccess = function() { marionetteScriptFinished(req.result['alarm.enabled']); };

as long as you have the following in your application manifest:

"permissions": { ... "settings":{ "access": "readwrite" }, ... }

In other words, if you set something in build/config/custom-prefs.js, don't expect to be able to read it using navigator.mozSettings or the SettingsHelper!