2002-05-14 04:51:42-05
My quest to keep tweaking my e-mail system is reaching new lows, but soon the frankenMTA may rise.

This whole thing started out rather normally and logically - I wanted to get away from sendmail on the server I run, and qmail looked like the perfect choice.

Later, I wanted to be able to search all the e-mail I have ever received from one interface, and moving everyone's mail into Cyrus seemed to be the best option.
At this point, it took a little work to make the two cooperate, but a little bit of shell scripting to wrap the deliver function, and then people could use qmail suffixes to point to Cyrus mailboxes making everyone happy.

Then, I realized that one mailinglist host which a bunch of us subscribed to lists on supported QMTP, so of course I had to add send and receive QMTP support.
As soon as I finished tweaking my MX entries, I added Spamassassin to the mix. Spamd was up and running with no trouble, and a little hacking of my wrapper scripts let users opt out entirely, tag their mail, or just dump spam before they saw it..

Everything was rather complex, but still ticking along fine.

Then I started looking at the client end...

Hmmmm - I have a bunch of boxes on my internal network - I should have my internal mail queue up on one, so that if my cable modem goes out, I can still just fire and forget my e-mail knowing that it will be sent when the connection comes back up. And wouldn't it be cool if I could wrap the outgoing connection between my local net, and my remote mailserver in a SSH connection. Hey - there's another daemon that is part of Qmail that I'm not using - QMQP. I should tunnel a QMQP connection between my local and remote servers over SSH.

And thus, it started...
It was only a matter of seconds to set up the QMQP server, and a few minutes more to set up a daemontools monitored SSH tunnel between the two machines - the problem arose with the choice of the MTA .
Hmmmm - Mini-Qmail does most of what I want, but it doesn't use a local queue. Nullmailer has a local queue, and does QMQP, but it won't accept outside mail. I wonder if I can mix the two.
And with that thought, I installed Qmail, gutted it, and began replacing components with bits of Nullmailer, as I attempted to crudely stitch the two MTA's together, fighting with incompatible syntax and queue structures.

The scary part? It's almost working.
The really scary part? If I get this working, what will I be compelled to do next?

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2002-04-28 04:30:44-05

Final Cut Pro

A couple of days ago, I picked up copies of Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro.

Since then, I have barely had any free time, as it has been filled entirely with figuring out the best way to get a good looking picture from my camcorder, and experimenting with the limits of the DVD spcs.

Final Cut pro is amazing software - I have learned such an amazing amount about video editing in the past few days, just by playing with this program. It's almost a constant stream of "Ah-Ha!" experiences as I wonder what a feature could possibly be used for, and a few minutes later everything becomes clear.
Here is an example. This display confused me. It looked cool, but I had no clue what useful purpose it could serve. Then I happened to run a test pattern through it, and everything became clear.

Currently, the best system I have been able to figure out for fixing up DV video is to start by running the following filters:
  • Deinterlace (flicker filter - high)
  • Anti-Alias (1)
  • Proc-Amp ( about -0.25, -0.25, 1.25, 0 )
  • NTSC safe (120)
While this produces a very good result, it takes a dual 800 G4 about 6 hours per hour of footage to filter.

DVD studio pro is also a very cool piece of software. Whereas iDVD takes the approach of automating everything, and not giving you any control over anything, DVD studio pro is at the opposite extreme - a collection of seperate tools for MPEG encoding, AC3 encoding, Subtitles, etc and one shell that combines them, giving you full absolute control over every aspect of the DVD.

Right now, my current DVD experiments lie in the area of the built in scripting system.
it is rather limited:
  • 5 registers
  • no memory
  • a 128 instruction limit per script (really 256, but only 128 usable for what I want)
  • no else blocks
  • no recursion
  • only == and != comparisons

I have a rather cool idea that I might just be able to pull off, by pusing the hardware to it's limits (bitmasks to pack variables, massive chaining of control scripts). I 'll have to pick up some DVD-RW disks for testing, so I dont chew through my supply of DVD-R disks.

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2002-04-16 04:08:39-05

Wireless Ethernet Rocks!

I had forgotten how great wireless ethernet could be during the winter when I was pretty much stuck indoors. Right now, however, I'm sitting out in a field behind my house with a laptop, listening to birds, and watching the sun rise as I type. I think the external antenna I put on my base station makes a big difference.

Strange Candy

When I was at the local Meijer's, I was checking out their newly expanded international food section. Since the last time I was there, they had expanded into a Candy Bars of the World department. I seized the moment to stock up on Violet Crumbles and other Australian treats that I haven't had since the first tine tuckeroos was around.

While I was there, I also picked up a bar of Turkish Delight (rose flavor) from the UK.
It was interesting...

I probably would have enjoyed it if not for the fact that the rose flavor they used was the same as that used by cheap deodorizers.

As it was, the constant nagging feeling that I was eating an air freshener was too distracting to be comfortable...

New Visor

On a sadder note, I have decided that my old Visor which has gone with me everywhere for years has suffered a major malfunction (It locks up after about 20 minutes of use) so I have to get a new one.
Hopefully in the next day or two, a new 16 meg visor Pro, and an Eyemodule 2 should be arriving for me to play with!

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2002-04-08 05:42:48-05
Hardware problems have been bugging me for a while.

For some time, there has been something not quite right with this webserver.
It hasn't been bad enough to cause any major issues (at least, not since I ran sysctl -w machdep.ddb_on_nmi=0 ; sysctl -w machdep.panic_on_nmi=0), but dmesg would keep revealing bursts of the following during heavy disk activity:
Assuming that the bits AND together, this indicates a memory parity error, an I/O error, and some undefined error.
These errors would show up from time to time, not causing any major issues (except for the occasional seg-fault of make while doing the tree cleanup stage of make buildworld, or while doing a make index under /usr/ports) and I felt that they were not worth the trouble of visiting the co-lo to take a look at the server.

Now they are increasing, and are being visited by their friend:
kernel trap 19 with interrupts disabled

As far as I can tell, this kernel trap indicates that an NMI came in, while the system was already servicing another NMI.

Not good...

The other day, one of my nightly Memtest runs showed an error. This also happened a couple of weeks ago, with the same bit being flipped, at the same memory location.

Even Worse...

So, tonight I'm going to visit the co-lo, swap out some memory for testing, replace drive cables with known good cables (Just in case - the faults occuring during heavy disk activity makes me want to change them), maybe underclock the processor if things seem too warm, and poke around with the rest of the system.
Hopefully I have better luck fixing this than Other people who have had the same problem...

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2002-03-11 01:33:57-05


Well, in a fast development last week, I found myself being transfered from my 6-6 W,T,F shift here , to a T,W,T shift here.

The new shift works better for me (I actually will have weekends free!) and the Tech Center is a little closer to where I live than the TPC-central was, plus they have more stuff to play with at the Tech Center (I'm looking forward to getting some time in on the test clusters). Additionally, I was starting to desire a change of some kind in my life - I was starting to feel trapped again, and this should help shake things up a bit.

On the downside, I'll miss seeing the people I worked with, and there is the normal uncertainty from a large change at work, but overall, this is looking good.

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