Getting hitched, double-time?

Curious social phenomenon: female friends who have not been together with their respective partners for more than 1.5 years getting hitched. Granted time is not a measure on quality of relationship, and that this trend might be constricted to people around me. Nevertheless, fascinating observation on how coming to 30 years of age might be a key determinant towards urgency in settling down aka marriage. The clock is ticking!

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Linux: Postfix, spam and false positives – a lesson in idiocy

Everyone hates spam, and it’s the job of the administrator to minimise the amount of spam their mail servers receive. Postfix by default has several options to limit spam hosts, a few of which are so very logical and elegant.

Fact: Spam hosts like to spoof their hostnames, so unknown and/or invalid hosts are often signs of spambots.

Solution: Invalid hosts are not allowed to send emails over, period.

Thus if we enable the following options, it reduces a great deal of potential spam.

smtpd_recipient_restrictions = reject_invalid_hostname, reject_non_fqdn_sender

*Additional reading: guides to spam control for postfix, here and here.

**Additional reading #2: primer on SMTP if you’re new to how SMTP works, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Back to the main topic: so invalid hostnames and non FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) senders are given the boot, so to speak.

But of course, we’re talking about an ideal world here. In the real world, shit happens.

So the problem happens when a server admin conveniently forgets to modify the myhostname value in main.cf:

myhostname = localhost
FYI, myhostname is supposed to store the value of a qualified domain name e.g. mail.domain.com. Not fcuking localhost.

And obviously, they fail the host check because their hostname reads as fcuking localhost.

And this appears in the server log:

Jan 11 11:02:50 MAILSVR postfix/smtpd[1619]: 32A3137835: reject: RCPT from localhost[1.2.3.4]: 450 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [1.2.3.4]; from= to= proto=ESMTP helo=

In human talk, this means the mail was rejected because the mailserver represented ass.com, but it identified itself as localhost. localhost = invalid host + non-FQDN, no go.

So in this kind of circumstance, we usually ended up having to modify the mail server checks, because too many mail servers with similar configurations were getting blocked. And if you were wondering – we could not get the other mail server’s administrator to fix his config up, because he would go on in an indignant tone: “MY mail server was working fine until you fellows started these checks. SO DISABLE YOUR CHECKS AND LET US THROUGH!”

One can never prevail against an overwhelming tide of stupidity.

And yes, this is just a rant, no offense to anyone out there. Unless you screwed up on this, then yes please clean it up. It would make everyone’s lives out there easier.

Random: 2 popular misconceptions about your friendly IT dude

This is just some of those frequent misunderstandings between the mortals (read: the rest of the human race) and the unfortunate bastards omnipotent beings who work in the holy field of IT.

*And of course, it’s written in humor so take it easy people, leave the chainsaws where I can see them.

#1 – IT usually has nothing to do with desktop support.
IT reads Information Technology, and that means (supposedly) using technology in information management to make our lives better. Contrary to popular belief, IT has nothing to do with knowing how to fix your computer hardware when it mysteriously wheezes and stops working completely.

Popular rant: “But you work in IT, so you must know something!”

Yep, we know something. Something = knowing who to contact when our office computer goes bust; that means the system administrator or tech support, whoever’s nearer.

It sounds like a blessing in disguise, but I reckon many of us developed a knack of fixing computers simply because we had no one to turn to for help.

Also, doing desktop support for a big pool of friends/family is a nightmare sometimes. Can’t charge them money, can’t say no either.

Moral of the story: Think about giving your buddy a small fee next time he helps you out. Profuse thanks, fervent offerings of PS3 games and magazines with scandalous pictures of sexy females help too.

#2 – Working in IT does not make him a guru in every computer-related skill.
You don’t go looking for a dentist when you get diarrhoea, do you? Not unless you think that having a numbed arse helps in stopping the turd parade.

Similarly, being an IT professional is just a name tag that lumps us into the vast body of misunderstood individuals. We have:

  • programmers (aka code monkeys) who write software and web applications for a living.
  • networkers (like me), who usually idle until the office internet cuts off, and start cussing and swearing at their bad luck.
  • security administrators, very important. These are the guys who deny your access to Facebook and MSN.
  • system engineers who spend all their time reading server logs and slacking maintaining servers.
  • web designers that probably feel like strangling their clients after yet another request for change. Make up your mind assholes!
  • managers (me again), who pretend to make decisions and slack at their desks all the time.
  • others – all the rest of those suffering fellows I am too lazy to elaborate further on.

So you see, if that good friend of yours happens to know “how to make websites” and “set up the home internet”, you were lucky. Do not assume that every single one of us is capable of stunts like that. That being said, we usually pick up a bit of this and that in our years of work due to idle curiosity.

Moral of the story: ASK. Do not assume we know how to <INSERT-RANDOM-COMPUTER-SKILL-HERE>.

More to come when inspiration visits.

Random: How the Alexander Technique parallels keinism in swimming.

I attended an introductory workshop on the Alexander Technique (wiki link) on a gloomy Sunday morning last weekend, and it was actually more interesting than I thought.

In summary, it is a reflective school of thought by a fellow named F.M. Alexander (hence the name), on how you could best improve your everyday movements to minimise unnecessary strain to the body and hence avoid longterm aches and pains.


(source costco.com)

My coach for the session gave a startlingly simple example: the chair. All of us use the chair in our everyday life, but the back of the chair is actually a crutch that inhibits muscular development of the back. It was proven all too easily when everyone in the group sat straight in their chairs without leaning on the back of the chair for about ten minutes, and promptly began to feel discomfort (me included). Apparently, our backs were not as strong as we thought.

There’s also the obvious defect that chairs are all of the same height for easy production and storage, which does not facilitate comfort for everyone obviously. A short person ends up dangling, and a tall fellow tucks his legs under the chair. Therefore, the chair is also a contributor of discomfort and strain on the body.

Summary: chairs should have straight backs with no padding (because padding = bad support), and adjustable heights to suit different individuals.

Change of postures and physical habits cultivated with years of practice take time, and this is no exception. The Alexander Technique focuses on improvement over an extended period of time, and is not any wonder therapy by any stretch of imagination. And yes, it’s applicable to things like walking, sitting, standing and even singing or speaking.

A quote from the founder that the coach brought up, which I found enlightening:

“You cannot change something by repeating that which you have.”
– St. Dunstan’s Lecture 1949 (link)

Truly, change requires change itself.


This is slightly off-topic, but I found the Alexander Technique teaching similar to what I think about when swimming. The indoor pool at my apartment is about 20m in length, and swimming 1km (my usual distance covered) required 50 laps, which kind of made me feel like a goldfish bumping about in the glass bowl.

Therefore, I switched objectives instead.

  • Being absolutely horrible at the front crawl, I made it a point to observe my motions and subsequently correct them. Swimming after all, is just a set of movements made to move through water with maximum efficiency. Thereafter, I sought to experiment and improve my stroke, and I’m proud to say that the amount of effort for stroking is being reduced.
  • I paid a great deal of attention to every stroke. Similar to how you clench your abs on a situp to achieve a greater workout, I clenched the various muscle groups on every stroke. Tiring, to say the least. I swim less, but feel equally (if not more) tired.

*Note: all of the above happened before I went for the workshop.


(Back to the Alexander Technique.)


(source noelkingsley.com)

There’s also a position called the semi-supine, which is supposed to help relax your muscles and spine after you rest in the recommended position for 10-15 minutes. I tried it in the workshop, and surprisingly it did feel good. It doesn’t require much other than a quiet environment, the floor and a couple of books so you should try it too if you’re interested.

All in all, very interesting. I was tempted to sign up with the five week course after that, but the sessions begin at 7pm on Tuesdays, which is a little tough because I get to the city at 720pm on average. Oh well, self-improvement for now.

I’m currently trying (note on trying) to remind myself to sit straighter everyday, and to observe my everyday movements to see if there are unconscious habits that I should improve on. Granted it would be easier with a mirror and a personal coach, but I’ll take it by myself first to see how things go.

NBL: Postgame analysis on 8 Feb 09 Melbourne Tigers vs Crazy John South Dragons

Back to the Hisense Arena once again, and it’s an afternoon match this time round on Sunday. It was my second time watching a South Dragons home game against the Tigers, and once again the Tigers lost. I had pretty lousy seats this time too, which killed the mood somewhat.

vs

The game
Throughout the first half, the score was tied 90% of the time. Two points scored, and another two points evened up. Any lead made by one team was closed up quickly by the other. That lasted until the end of the game when the South Dragons began their lead. The Tigers managed to keep the gap from widening in the final quarter after a timeout, but lost momentum and subsequently lost their composure, despite valiant efforts from Tigers #23 Crosswell in pressing his man in defense throughout the game.

On a sidenote: Dragons #23 Donta Smith came through with a brilliant performance, driving and shooting with excellent form. And unfortunately, Dragons #7 Joe Ingles was off on his outside game once again, quite unlike the previous Tigers vs Dragons game when he was in tiptop shooting form.


Donta Smith at work. (image source from tigers.com.au)

I thought there were four major factors to the Tigers’ defeat:

  • Over-reliance on three pointers: the Tigers attempted an absurd number of threes, less than one quarter of which made the basket. That resulted in a decrease in the number of field goals, as well as the number of turnovers without scoring. Tigers #11 Dave Thomas salvaged the situation somewhat with his excellent offensive rebounding abilities, but it was not enough. The lack of scoring did not stop them from persisting on the threes in the entire game, even more so towards the end.
  • #13 Anstey’s decreased scoring: He was assigned to the high key in most of the offensive plays, and had to help in setting screens, passing the ball around and rebound. This resulted in top scorer Anstey not having the space to shoot, which would have helped to even the score considerably.
  • South Dragons defense: As always, the Dragons displayed consistent tough defense. The Tigers could not get anyone free for the open shot, and were pressed very hard all the time. That helped to break the Tigers’ offensive game by a fair bit.

It seemed like quite a few Tigers fans had come for the match and there were scattered pockets of rooting initially, but they were overwhelmed by the roaring pro-Dragons faction in the end, especially in the final minutes of the game. Enjoyable? Not as much as I did watching the Breakers vs Dragons game at MSAC.

Also, the Dragons merchandise was pricey; very, very pricey. There was a handwritten sign at the merchandise area saying Nothing above $10, so I wandered over for a look. I saw basketballs, tees and jerseys all going at prices above $10, pfft. False advertising! No way I’m gonna pay $60 for a Dragons jersey, bloody hell.

Related article(s):
Dragons win derby
Crosswell want rematch

Literary: Chain Thriller #3

If this is your first time reading this series:
Part 1 and part 2 in my earlier posts.

Surprise would not begin to cover what Bill felt at that moment; he could not help but swear in disbelief.

“What the fuck?”

Logic dictated that four grown men could not simply run headlong into a dead end and disappear, but it seemed like they had pulled a David Copperfield stunt and done precisely that.

Slow, deep breaths. Breath in, breath out. Bill tucked his revolver away and squatted down, staring mutely at the empty scene before him. He stubbornly refused to surrender to the irrational conclusion that Daniel-fucking-Bates had somehow escaped with some bloody superhuman power or other; things like that only happened in the comic books his son adored, not the shithole this reality represented. There had to be something.

It took several minutes of patient groping in the semi-darkness before Bill hit paydirt. Running callused fingers over the worn edges of the peeling Marxist posters, he realised they were but camouflage for a hidden door. Irritation began to mount yet again, as he searched for a knob. Bill’s impatience soon overwhelmed rationality, as the he realised Bates was getting further with each passing moment.

“Screw the bloody doorknob.”

Taking a few steps back, he charged headlong at the concealed door, shoulders braced for impact. The cheap wood splintered easily, and Bill’s resulting momentum carried him into the waiting presence inside.

I wonder what lies ahead. Comments are welcome, as always.

Literary: Chain Thriller #2

Continuation from the previous post:

The shadows of the alley seemed to await almost hungrily for any unwary trespasser.

There was the stink of sour human sweat; a pungent odor that permeated the air. Bill could not help but take an involuntary whiff, the stale smell filling his nostrils. His grip on the revolver tightened as he made his way into the grubby lane, flattening himself against the wall. The odds were one to four, and he knew he was being a rash fool by walking straight into a possible ambush. Detective Bill Simpson was never one to back down from lousy odds, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to start now.

Careful now. A glance inside, and a quick prayer. Dashing into what could be the final ten seconds of his life.

And Bill came up into a dead end. Empty beer bottles, and a grubby packing crate. Faded posters screamed for the return of Marxism. A mocking caricature of a woman, painted on a wall. She seemed to be laughing at his foolish caution.

The four men seemed to have vanished into thin air.

More to come in the next post; quality takes time. I hope you guys have enjoyed reading it so far, comments are very welcome.