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hiptop2 experiences

I decided to buy a hiptop2 after my original grayscale hiptop’s radio died, and the battery started to go on my roommate’s hiptop I was borrowing. They’re available for $25 after rebate from Amazon, assuming you’re adding a line or opening a new account, as I was.

So far, my impressions of the design changes since the earlier models have been mostly negative, though of course the much-improved build quality and new features are great. The biggest problem is getting used to the new keyboard; unlike everyone else I’ve talked to, who typed with their thumbs at an angle, I tended to type with my thumbs almost flat. Thinking about this, it’s probably because I’m used to playing the cello. I’ll provide more thorough feedback in a week or so…

Server woes

Things are still amazingly hectic here. I got calamity (9500+G3/300 running Debian, serving as the primary MX, IMAP, list and webmail server) back up last night on DSL in my parents’ new house in Boston, after its outage since mid-August because of Verizon’s incompetence. For weeks, Verizon assured both my father and our ISP that the line was turned on when it simply wasn’t, and it took a long time to get everything fixed from a distance, even when the DSL was enabled, since the house is still being renovated and my parents are busier than I am. Right now calamity’s behind an AirPort Extreme base station NAT, which will be replaced by hamton (Pentium Pro 200 running FreeBSD) next time I visit.

The whole MX saga was fun, too. This time last year, calamity lived on a reasonably-reliable cable modem in Cambridge, and arnold (Ultra 2 acting as Web server, backup MX) on reliable SDSL in Virginia. Arnold’s host moved to a more remote location and was stuck on a cable modem, with incoming port 80 blocked and outgoing port 25 restricted; not so good for a server. With the Web server down, at least it was able to spool mail while we waited for calamity to be reconnected, until Cox’s DHCP server assigned it a nonroutable address while its host was on vacation in China. Luckily I had set up another backup MX on my roommate’s OpenBSD box, but the Sendmail configuration turned out to bounce the messages as they were received. After fixing this, the messages once again got bounced when arnold came back up and postfix decided that it didn’t want to hold them any longer, either. Maybe Exim does a better job of this? I found the available options in postfix pretty inadequate for the situation.

After efforts to get a T1 or DSL for arnold failed (thanks to Qwest and Verizon once again), we compromised on “business” cable modem service, which removes the port blocks. Hooray for trying to use consumer-quality Internet services to run servers. The Boston ISP gives us 1.5Mbps/768Kbps DSL to a single static IP on a tiny subnet, which is perfect for my parents’ needs, and should resolve some of the VoIP quality issues we experienced with the cable modem’s more restrictive upstream.

My software has a first name?

I upgraded to SpamAssassin 3.0 last week, and since then, a bit more spam has been getting through the filters. Some of it looks like potential fodder for Spamusement, such as this one:

 935 N   Oct 09 Lamar Singleton (  61) little bottle eliminates traffic cameras

Then there’s a great idea someone had to invent likely-looking names, which resulted in this example:

From: "Christopher" <>
To: Hogue Appswitch <>

I never knew appswitch had a first name… Hogue it is.

Come to Reflections | Projections!

Hi, everyone! There are a bunch of reasons I had stopped blogging, but none sufficient to explain the multi-month outage. More posts will follow in the next few days, especially since my advisor and officemate Lee are off presenting at P=ac2 this week. But before I mention anything else…

If you’re in the Midwest and looking for something to do in a couple of weekends, I highly recommend coming to Urbana and checking out ACM@UIUC’s tenth annual Reflections | Projections computing conference, October 22–24. Reflections | Projections is a completely student-run conference as always, which helps keep the annoying stuff to a minimum. This is the first conference we’ve had in the five years I’ve been here that I’m truly proud of—a look at our confirmed speakers list should make it clear why. We’ve also got representatives of companies including Apple, NVIDIA, Microsoft and PayPal if you’re looking for a job, and a game AI programming competition which promises to be even better than last year’s amazing production.

Now I’ve exhausted my stock of superlatives, I can’t think of a better deal than the $20 registration fee—which includes food, thanks to our 17 generous sponsors. If you know me and want to stay at my place for the weekend, I’d be happy to put you up (first comer gets the spare bed!).