Monthly Archives: October 2007

mod_proxy HTTP protocol compliance

As mentioned in a recent blog entry, I’ve spent a lot of time recently on mod_proxy, including using the co-advisor protocol compliance test suite.

I’ve now hacked up some scripts to generate executive summary reports from the coadvisor results. They’re at, along with two reports: Apache httpd 2.2.6 (the most recent release version), and one for 2.2.6 with the fixes I’ve made since its release. In due course I’ll add similar reports for 2.2.7, etc.

If anyone with an eye for design would care to contribute, the reports could use a CSS stylesheet to appear a bit less ugly 🙂


#apache-helpdesk meet

Just back from meeting some of my regular online colleagues in person. Specifically, from the #apache and #apache-helpdesk IRC channels on

pctony, yango, noodl – great to put faces to the names (OK, I met noodl briefly once before). Not to mention yango’s lovely better half, Andrea, who is with him on a short holiday in Blighty.

Worth a mention: this was yango’s first exposure to trad. english warm beer. We had pints at two different pubs, of which the first was good and the second disappointing. If that second one had been our visitor’s first exposure to it, I suspect it might have been his last, leaving me slightly embarassed (again) to be a Brit. I wonder how many foreigners get a bad first pint and confirm all the worst they’ve heard about our warm beer?

It’s started

Goose Fair isn’t officially until Thursday.  But the humbug and nuisance has started already today, making the town a misery for miles around.

Bah, Humbug 😦

Blackhat? Not me guv

<arreyder> niq cyberwar on going.
<arreyder> you should have participated 😛
<niq> arreyder: where?
<arreyder> I got a shell on all 15 teams webservers with a cgi exploit
<niq> hehe
<niq> BAD arreyder
<arreyder> the one I told you about a while back. I got them to set up remote access if you wanted to play
<arreyder> I didnt get root on all of them though, I didnt have time and people were not cooperating like they usually do
<niq> erm, I’d prefer NOT to be carted off to Guantanamo Bay by some spook who hadn’t been told it’s an authorised game

To give this some context, arreyder works for the state government of Iowa, USA, and has mentioned these security exercises before. He seems keen on the idea of me donning a black hat and hacking in to their machines. Now that’s fine for him. It might be fine for me if I was an accomplished cracker with access to a botnet, and maybe an IP address or two in China to cover my tracks. It might even be fine if I was an American citizen who could demand constitutional rights between being arrested and clearing up the idea that I was authorised to crack into their machines.

But I’m none of those things. I’m just a dullard who is far too scared of the consequences to hack into anyone else’s computer. Let alone a U.S.-owned computer, in the time of the Inquisition. Even if the good folks in Iowa have authorised it, the spooks at my door might not see it that way. I’d be in no position to argue with them. And given the culture of secrecy amongst spooks, there’s no guarantee arreyder and his colleagues would ever hear about it.

In the ensuing discussion, arreyder explained that the computers in question are actually at the University of Iowa rather than the state government itself, so perhaps the target addresses are not quite so sensitive. But in any case, there’s no reason to suppose I’d have penetrated the target machines any further than, or even as much as, arreyder himself.

Thank you bishop

I don’t often have good words about religious leaders.  But since Bush & Blair brought a new reign of righteous terror on ever-increasing parts of the world, the Church of England has been something of a voice of reason.  With His Holiness The Liar gone, I wonder if anyone might even listen?

Today’s news: The Archbishop of Canterbury (who is second only to the Queen in the CofE hierarchy) has spoken out strongly about starting any more wars in the middle east.  Of course it’s easy for him: neither his job nor his funding depends on producing and selling armaments[1].  In the case of the Rt Revd Dr Williams, I expect he really does find it painful when his country inflicts untold suffering on millions of people.  And speaks from a position of some authority.  Well done that man!

[1] except insofar as it may be linked to the UK economy.

Disintegrating plastic!

I’ve heard of plastics that are supposed to degrade.  But I hadn’t expected to witness it myself.

I keep plastic carrier bags for re-use.  They live in the cupboard under the sink, along with other re-usable containers and a few cleaning materials. I re-use the carrier bags when I go to the local shops, or take my old bottles and cans for recycling.

So today I was looking for old bags ready for their last use (‘cos they were going to get too dirty to re-use afterwards), and looked at the back of the cupboard.  And there amidst the bags was a pile of flakes, from an old co-op carrier bag that had disintegrated.  Nearby was a second bag that was just beginning to disintegrate.

Not sure how that happens.  There was no sign of biological degrading (rotting/mould).  The cupboard is dark, and wouldn’t get sunlight even when open.  It doesn’t even get wet in there.  The only thing that might be expected to provoke degradation is short bursts of moderate heat due to the pipes bringing water to the sink above.

These co-op bags are pretty good when new: more robust than those from some other suppliers.  In future I’ll have to select them over others for early reuse, while they’re still intact.


Food in this country has improved hugely in my lifetime. Why can’t water do likewise?

In the UK, water is something that comes from the tap. Other options are a major ripoff: the choices are “still” (utterly flat, not as nice as tap water) or “sparkling” (obscenely gassy). That seems to apply to expensive brands with classy-looking labels, just as much as supermarket “value” brands. Only the flavoured variants are (in some cases) nice to drink.

Italy was different. There’s a culture of drinking water, so for example, if you go for a restaurant meal there’s an automatic expectation you’ll drink water (as well as whatever else you drink – typically wine). With that culture comes water that’s altogether nicer to drink. In particular, water that’s neither flat nor gassy, but naturally effervescent (best) or slightly sparkling.

Recently I’ve looked out for something drinkable amongst the (expensive) foreign waters on sale here (isn’t it just obscene that we should import water here)? There’s one Italian brand: San Pellegrino is familiar from my years in Italy, but was never one of my favourite brands. It’s sold here both in plastic and glass bottles, but alas, only the glass bottle stuff – the most expensive of all – tastes good.

But now at last, I have in the fridge a botted water that’s both nice and a little less expensive. I think it’s french: called something like Badoit, though I forget the name. I think I may have found a brand worth drinking, though I resent paying as much per litre for water as for fruit juice!