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A request for forgiveness April 22, 2014

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I know I’ve been getting really, really techie on this blog lately. I just can’t help it, it’s my career after all. 

Two more things to do on mail01.girouxforgovernor2014.com April 22, 2014

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1) Setup a postmaster account. Always pretty good practice though I do have port 25 inbound blocked to the server. I’ll set it up on Bluehost instead as everything is associated with the TLD there.

2) Setup SSH keys from my machine to the server. That way no passwords get used on the system just keys. If anyone gets in they don’t get the keys to the kingdom. I also need to remember to put myself in group wheel and to grant wheel the right to sudo without password.

And I really do want to make an image of the server – just in case it suffers catastrophic failure then all we have to do is build a base image and roll the image on external back to it.


The Giroux for Governor Campaign has it’s own email server now April 21, 2014

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With it’s own dedicated net connection  and the blessing of the ISP to send as much email as we can through it. At this point I’ve managed to get the real bitching people off the mailing list so that’s good. 

But today – actually plugged in and activated the old IBM eServer x306 8836 that I’d given to the campaign. It does sound a bit like a loud fan. But that noise is well worth what it will allow us to do. The server itself is setup as a RAID 1  or mirroring array. It’s only an 80GB array but replacement drives in the half a terabyte range – a pair can be had for < $100. I’m planning on doing that with my other x306. 

So I had tried getting Postfix to send email outside the network to no success. It kept getting bounced by external SMTP servers with 550 errors. A 550 error is basically a server rejecting a message as spam. To get around it you have to make sure the FQDN for your server matches the IP addresses you’re sending from. In other words say mail01.girouxforgovenror2014.com has an ip of The host registration for mail01 has to belong to that IP address. 

So I logged onto Bluehost and created the subdomain I show above. Then I went into the Domain Zones and pointed mail01 to what is our publicly appearing IP address for outbound mail only. And it works, of course I knew it would. You see the entirety of the anti-spam effort rests upon RDNS or Reverse DNS. The remote mail server or MTA sees the connection coming from but it then does a lookup on the IP address to see if the domain matches that of the sending party in the email headers. If it doesn’t, 550 error and blocked. If it does – the email flows. 

Another issue I had 

#mynetworks = [::ffff:]/104 [::1]/128

That pound sign means comment the line out. As soon as I turned that off I was able to send email out from inside the new network. Yippee! 



Education and Net Access – stamp out conservatism April 16, 2014

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I just saw this during the weekend.

So the thought occurred to me – all these militias in the U.S. They’re almost  all against the government, Jews and Black people. Why is it that they cannot connect the dots and see the corporate oligarchy/plutocracy. If they had more than two brain cells among them they’d see who the real targets were, the rich! 

I also note a lot of the militia types – they tend to side Republican even Tea Bagger. 

But I want to share something I learned about the voters in Rhode Island. Yesterday I decided to do the following query, show me all users that supplied email addresses and break it down by party affiliation, Republican or Democrat. 

Here’s the results:

Democrats with Email Addresses: 9496 43%

Republicans with Email Addresses: 2283 10%

Unaffiliated with Email Addresses: 10159 46%

Total with Email Address: 21,938

Extrapolation using percentages against unaffiliated voters

Democrat:  9496+4368 = 13864 63%

Republican: 2283+1016 = 3299 15%

Subtotal: = 17,163 with a difference of 4,775 (22%) true independent extrapolated. 

It’s the extrapolated numbers that are interesting – of the entirety of the database only 3,299 Republicans in RHode Island supplied email addresses. I really should have scraped dates of birth in that mix too. I’ve done similar analyses before and found that those over 65 tend to trend Republican and don’t have net access. 

I think net access makes a huge difference. I can’t quantify it but the fact that you have an email says you have some savvy about things. 

Now wouldn’t it be interesting if we could push net access to EVERYONE in the United States. Everyone. The young, the old and everything in between. Echo chambers like Fox News would have a pretty tough time surviving. And so too the neo-conservatives, tea baggers, Randians and other ilk of the conservative movement. 

Linux and Old Gear April 14, 2014

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The server I just built – it date to 2006. Which makes it at this writing eight years old. It’s had some upgrades etc. probably as late as 2009. So it’s of mixed age. But still perfectly functional. 

That’s the thing – try installing Windows Server 2008 on this and it’ll puke. But put Ubutu Server 12.04-4 on it and miraculously it works. All that’s needed from this box is one year. I fully expect it will work because the until has sat for near three years un-powered. So this brings it down to only five years of actual operational time. 

You get new life out of old hardware. This is sort of why I proposed recycling state I.T. gear – machines still usable wipe the disks and put Ubuntu on them. Older machines strip down and send for metal extraction as there’s quite a lot of gold in them. State would get residual value out of all of it and then not have to pay to warehouse it. Win-win. 

Networking an IBM x306 3386 April 13, 2014

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So I had plugged in my Alpha 802.11 external to the IBM x306 8836. But I realized I needed to have wpasupplicant on it. So I brought it near the router and plugged it in via patch cable. But no IP. Now reading all the IBM documentation it showed that Ethernet 1 was toward top center while Ethernet 2 was below and to the right of it. But this system had a dual Ethernet card in the riser too.

So I plugged into the Ethernet 1 port figuring Linux identified this as eth0. Nothing. No link, dhclient couldn’t connect. So on a whim I took it out of that jack and plugged it into the right most on the riser. There we go. It goes backward. That’s eth0. Grrr.

Finally managed to connect and did upgrades etc. and of course what did I forget to do before I powered the server off? Forgot to install wpasupplicant. Next time.



The end of frustration April 12, 2014

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So for the past two days I’ve been trying my damnedest to build a server to handle email and web services. Tried Debian – that failed. Tried CentOS – major fail. Couldn’t find the disks on the system. Read a whole bunch of documentation on an IBM eServer x306 Model 8836. It’s basically a PC underneath it all. 

So I decided to try an experiment. I have two of the x306′s. I snapped the drives out of the one that wasn’t powered and put them into the powered chassis. Voila – disks show up now. Debian install not so much – kept getting corruption issues trying to install grep, and a few other packages. And then I remember, Ubuntu does a Server version – so I downloaded and burned it and installed it. Doing first boot sans CD now. 

Two days and foiled by one or more bad disk drives. They’re 3.5″ SATA drives so easy and cheap enough to replace them. So for $100 I can get two 500GB SATA drives. That’s way cheap enough. 

Always been a fan of German engineering April 10, 2014

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The Germans and to some degree the French have always been phenomenal engineers. Now Italians are good for making things beautiful. 

There’s the old joke about in hell:

In Hell: the cooks are English, 
the policemen are German, 
the mechanics are French, 
the lovers are Swiss 
and the bankers are Italian.

But I seriously love German cars – particularly those from the region in the eastern part between Stuttgart and Bavaria. The cars they produced are this side of fucking awesome. Drivers cars. I’m speaking of three cars here – the Porsche 944, the Volkswagen Jetta, and the BMW X3. I’ve driven the last two and was very impressed by their performance. But then think about it, German cars are built for the speeds and conditions of the Autobahn in Germany. 

That’s the other thing the Autobahn. The standards for building that highway system are much deeper than what we have here in the U.S. The roadways are built for speed and a long lifetime. In the U.S. our highways, particularly in the northeast were built to suit political whim and nothing more. 

But German cars need to be able to do a respectable speed. For instance today I had a BMW X3. It’s a medium to small sized SUV. Refined as all hell. Does take a little getting used to as the radio controls are on the center console not the dash. And the gear selector – to go into reverse you hold down the button on the side and tip the handle forward. To go into drive you tip the handle downward. And then it has this little feature where you can select between sport mode and eco mode. I think you can figure out what they do. But I’ll elaborate – in eco mode the vehicle performs admirably. But put it in sport mode and it becomes a very responsive monster. Just touch the gas pedal and you’re zooming away. I like! 

Coming back from Cambridge, MA I had a long stretch of road to push it up to 70, 80, 90, and 100MPH. Cars built in the U.S. and Japan will shimmy like mad above 80MPH. But this BMW X3 was SOLID on the road. Simply amazing. And even the base model of the X3 can tow 4,400 pounds. That’s pretty wild. 

Now a new one will cost you $50K. But used and a couple years old the price drops precipitously. So maybe I might picked a used vehicle. A 2007/2008 with relatively low mileage is about $10K on average. Mazda may think they have the zoom zoom – but they’re kidding themselves. The X3 had the mother fucking zoom. 

And today I had a suit on – and the Keyron says the car – it’s a car basically – all the creature features, bells and whistles. But he says it fits me. Now I like small cars – a Mazda 3 or even a nicely restored Porsche 944 would suit me. But the X3 has the wow factor, actually that’s being too mild about it, it had the holy shit factor. And if there’s one thing I REALLY like it’s rapid acceleration and that feeling of being pushed back in your seat. Oh yeah!

I do wish the U.S. would adopt the practice of what is this: The left lane is for ludicrous speed. The German language has a term for it but it’s not what we in the U.S. would think. It is Verkehr rechts halten aka Traffic Keep Right. The assumption of the word ‘slower traffic keep right’ is inherent in the German term. The left lane is only for ludicrous speed! 


And the solution April 9, 2014

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A dedicated business class connection for $80 per month with dedicated IP. An IBM e-Server with Debian 7.4 installed and the latest iteration of Qmail installed. 

I’ve already told the campaigner.com story. And Constant Contact still hasn’t gotten back to me. So we roll our own. 



Another option for bulk emailing April 9, 2014

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So today I lamented that Campaigner.com and even ConstantContact weren’t really set up for mass mailings from a list and they both have poor understanding of what constitutes a paid for list. 

One of the options I had suggested at the outset was just get a Cox Business account. But memory from 2006 said a 2mbps VAN was $200. So I called them today – $70 per month for dedicated 30/15 service and $10 for a static IP address. $80 per month. 

That’s the way we’re going. I’m downloading Debian 7.4.0 right now and I’ll burn it to a couple of discs. Then I’ll take one of my IBM e-servers that was destined for the public wifi MESH project and make a Qmail email server out of it. Then we can email away to our hearts content. No bullshit, no stupidity. We’ll have to move our domain over to the new connection and away from Bluehost. But that’s easy enough to do – just change the MX and A records and we’re off and running. 

So the only thing we’re waiting for Cox on is the install. Then I can plug in the server – point all the domains and fuck off email houses – we’re our own email house. 



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