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Postings for October 2021:  (30 posts)
Fri, 15 Oct 2021 01:11:55 UTC

MPEG corruption

Posted By Greg Lehey

Seen on the screen after watching TV tonight: [ffmpeg/video] h264: Error splitting the input into NAL units. Error while decoding frame! [ffmpeg/video] h264: Invalid NAL unit size (0 > 8734). [ffmpeg/video] h264: Error splitting the input into NAL units. Error while decoding frame! What's that? There was no obvious corruption on the screen.

Fri, 15 Oct 2021 00:38:35 UTC

A mobile phone for COVID-19?

Posted By Greg Lehey

In the USA people have thought out various financial initiatives to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Round here there's an obvious one: a free (low-end) mobile phone. You have needed a phone to sign in to just about anywhere in Victoria for some time now, and soon you will need one to display these silly ?digital certificates?. Yvonne has a mobile phone, of course, but it's an old, small, folding one 10 cm high. She's reluctantly accepting the need for a ?smart? phone, but it shouldn't be any higher. Checked the old S?msung Samsung GT-I9100T. 12 cm. What can we find that's modern (and thus supported by the apps that the government has thought out) and no higher?

Thu, 14 Oct 2021 02:38:38 UTC

Calling German mobile phones

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since moving to MyNetFone, now Vonex, international phone calls have been ridiculously cheap. While a national ?landline? call costs $0.20 untimed, a call to a German landline costs $0.019 per minute, so a 10 minute call to Germany is still cheaper than a call to Australia. But mobile rates are different, sometimes markedly so. In Australia they're $0.10 per minute. And in Germany? I recall them being significantly more expensive than for landlines. And today Yvonne wanted to make a call to a German mobile telephone. OK, look it up. Where? The new Vonex web site is completely broken and takes me round in circles.

Thu, 14 Oct 2021 01:50:35 UTC

Bankwest replies

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call from Steven Garnett of Bankwest today to discuss the email I sent him on Monday, in which I had set a deadline of yesterday to get the bank's fraud team involved. He repeated the content of the letter and gave the impression?once again?that he hadn't read the email. You'd think he hadn't received it, but he confirmed that he did. It seems that he had informed his process expert, whatever that is, his manager and his team leader (there that term again), but if he didn't forward the message to them, there's not much they could have done. He finally undertook to inform the fraud people, and I asked him to get them to contact me.

Thu, 14 Oct 2021 01:09:55 UTC

Cherry brand delivery

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne came back from shopping today with an unexpected package: It was the Kirschwasser that Ruth Viebrock sent me two weeks ago. It wasn't due for at least another 4 weeks! As if that wasn't surprising enough, there was no customs duty. What did the customs declaration say? I can't make up my mind whether that's a mistyped English ?brandy? or German ?Brand?, which is a perfectly correct description. But potentially it was confusing for the Customs Australian Border Force or one of their parsing programs.

Wed, 13 Oct 2021 01:56:51 UTC

Reporting Centrelink security breach

Posted By Greg Lehey

Despite multiple requests, Bankwest has not responded to my request to get their fraud team involved in the Centrelink fraud case. The place to go is, which presented me with multiple warnings that it's not suitable for an emergency. They can certainly say that again, and they did: Due to the complex nature of enquiries undertaken as part of the assessment process, it is not uncommon not to hear from Victoria Police for at least 12 weeks. If there is an immediate threat to life or risk of harm, please call 000.

Wed, 13 Oct 2021 00:14:37 UTC

Understanding ?modern? apps

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why couldn't I download my ?digital certificate? on my mobile phone? Medicare seems to think I have loaded it: But Service Victoria just offers me an(other) opportunity to download it: So what's the issue? I have now updated the app, but Service Victoria still asks me to download it. But this time it offers to do it directly, presumably one of the results of updating the app.

Tue, 12 Oct 2021 00:29:59 UTC

COVID certificate

Posted By Greg Lehey

Gradually we're coming out of SARS-CoV-2 imposed ?lockdown?. Well, we're already out of it, but today it was eliminated in all of New South Wales, and the government of Victoria has stated that things will get considerably more relaxed in the next few weeks. A good thing, too: in the past the ?lockdowns? have worked well, but they don't seem to have much effect against the ?delta variant?: despite the measures, which have been in place for months now, the numbers have continued to climb and have now reached nearly 2,000 infections per day. The only thing that should help is vaccination.

Mon, 11 Oct 2021 02:02:07 UTC

Tracking the POP3S certification issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

In principle my POP3S configuration for qpopper now works, but clearly there's a question of trust with the certificates. Peter Jeremy suggests using Let's encrypt. That sounds like a very good idea, and not for the first time I've made a note to follow up.

Mon, 11 Oct 2021 00:57:38 UTC

ABC news subscription

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why have I not received any news mail from the ABC subscriptions that I set up on Thursday? Off to take another look. It's almost impossible to find anything on the site. When I did, it was a completely different page, offering many more newsletters, and claiming that I was subscribed to some of them. OK, select the ones that look interesting, press ?Submit?. Nothing. Oh yes, just as I was about to give up: TypeError: NetworkError when attempting to fetch resource. That was repeatable.

Mon, 11 Oct 2021 00:54:24 UTC

Hope, Not Optimism

Posted By Cory Doctorow

This week on my podcast, I read my latest Medium column, Hope, Not Optimism, articulating a theory of political change that draws on technology, law, social movements and commercial pressure. MP3

Sat, 09 Oct 2021 05:31:02 UTC

Another abandoned USB hub

Posted By Greg Lehey

The seller of the USB hub that I have been trying to return has accepted the inevitable and refunded the price. So far he hasn't asked for the thing back. That's the second time this has happened with this kind of hub. I wonder what rate of return they get.

Sat, 09 Oct 2021 05:08:04 UTC

POP3S revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

The problem with my Greg's setting up qpopper on FreeBSD page was at least that I had forgotten to write down the pass phrases for the certificates; I still had the certificates that I made at the time. But where do I need the certificates? There's nothing in that document to suggest that I will ever need them again. OK, the configuration files are straightforward enough, so why not give it a try? Updated the files and got as far as testing. According to the page, I should get: === grog@dereel (/dev/ttypj) ~ 90 -> openssl s_client -connect CONNECTED(00000003) depth=0 /C=AU/ST=VIC/L=Dereel/O=LEMIS (SA) Pty Ltd/OU=Messaging/

Sat, 09 Oct 2021 03:16:58 UTC

Visiting Centrelink

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally took up the courage (and two big books) to go to Centrelink in Ballarat to sort out my pension fund breakin. Was it worth trying to get an appointment? No, no indication that that would help, and the fact that Wednesday's letter didn't include a phone number speaks for itself. On the way out of the property, picked up the mail. Another letter from Centrelink, confirming that I had cancelled my nominee agreement with PPT (which they spelt Ppt). What other nonsense has been done with my account? At Centrelink I had the usual questions about COVID-19, and then was directed to a counter where a badly masked receptionist called me George Lehey and asked if I had an appointment.

Fri, 08 Oct 2021 19:00:00 UTC

Worst Case

Posted By Tim Bray

Suppose you?re running your organization?s crucial apps in the cloud. Specifically, suppose you?re running them them on AWS, and in particular in the ?us-east-1? region? Could us-east-1 go away? What might you do about it? Let?s catastrophize! Acks & disclaimers First, thanks to Corey Quinn for this Twitter thread, which got me thinking. Second, while I worked for AWS for 5½ years, I?ve never been near a data center, nor do I have any inside information about the buildings, servers, or networking. On the other hand, I do have a decent understanding of AWS culture and capabilities in software engineering and operations.

Fri, 08 Oct 2021 04:33:16 UTC

Daily news from ABC

Posted By Greg Lehey

I receive daily news email from Channel 9, a commercial TV broadcaster and, I think, allied with Microsoft. Not my natural choice of news information, but they have the advantage of good presentation, sort of. Others thought that I should take the national broadcaster, ABC. But somehow their web presence irritates me. They have chosen the domain name, which would suggest that they're an ISP or some such. It wasn't for lack of access to they have that too, but it redirects to Then, like almost all broadcasters, they have video content online (German ?Mediathek?) . But unlike almost all broadcasters, it's only in low definition, and access is painful.

Fri, 08 Oct 2021 04:23:16 UTC

POP3S again

Posted By Greg Lehey

I really need to sort out email for Jerry Dunham. Last week I ran into inexplicable problems with ?mail loops back to myself?. OK, I can compare that with, which I also handle. And that delivers fine to any address no in virtual. OK, try again with It works! What went wrong? I'm not sure. About the only thing I noticed was that the buffer hadn't been saved when I started today. But it can't have been that: I did a number of changes last week. But that was simply POP3, with no encryption. The next problem: set up POP3S.

Fri, 08 Oct 2021 04:16:08 UTC

Bankwest: what now?

Posted By Greg Lehey

No response from Bankwest to my letter asking for investigation of their part in my Centrelink breach yesterday. I know that the mail gets through, so my best guess is ?not my problem?. And why can't I send mail to It appears to be handled by, clearly a Microsoft space company. Can it be that they're too polite to handle mail from systems like mine? It would be worth checking with a mainstream MUA/MTA. How about Gmail? So I sent off a message to them, fully expecting it to be delivered. No: Date: 07 Oct 2021 10:13:03 +0800 From: Mail Delivery System <> To: Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure) Message-Id: <b14c0a$95o8fv@SHP01MAILGW02.rtdomau.local> [-- Attachment #1 --] [-- Type: text/plain, Encoding: quoted-printable, Size: 0.3K --] The following message to <> was undeliverable.

Fri, 08 Oct 2021 04:07:51 UTC

Returning the USB hub

Posted By Greg Lehey

I started a return for the malfunctioning USB hub yesterday, and got an interesting message from the seller: Dear friend. We are so sorry. We specially consulted the manufacturer and their feedback is as follows. The product has four ports and seven ports. There is only one 3.0 interface for the four ports, and 2.0 for the others. The seven ports have four 3.0 interfaces, and the other is 2.0. There is no problem with your product. How we refund you half,and you close the dispute?Thank you very much for your understanding.

Thu, 07 Oct 2021 00:52:46 UTC

Centrelink security: where?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Voicemail and mail from Steven Garnett of Bankwest today, asking, as I feared, for more information from Centrelink. OK, nothing for it: sign in to this horrible mygov and select ?Centrelink?. We could not connect to the service. Please contact us for help. (RFM51) That sounds right. They can never get anything right. OK, try with different browser. Same thing. Where's the help link? There isn't one. What does Google say? It found a tweet: RFM51 code refers to server issues, unlink your Centrelink account and relink it again.

Tue, 05 Oct 2021 23:47:39 UTC

More Google Maps fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

To Geelong today for my 6-monthly periodontics checkup. Nothing much of interest there, but of course it was another chance to play around with using hirse, my mobile phone, along with Google Maps, as a navigator First issue: find the periodontist. They have a free parking space round the back, and the location is very different from their address: I can enter that on a computer, but how do I do it on a phone? Off to ask Google, and came up with give a place a private label.

Tue, 05 Oct 2021 15:12:01 UTC

The Attack Surface paperback is out (and a once-in-a-lifetime deal on the Little Brother audiobooks)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

It’s my book-birthday! Today marks publication of the Tor (US/Canada) paperback edition of ATTACK SURFACE, a standalone adult Little Brother book. Little Brother and its sequel Homeland were young adult novels that told the tale of Marcus Yallow, a bright young activist in San Francisco who works with his peers to organize resistance to... more

Tue, 05 Oct 2021 00:18:44 UTC

Bankwest: look out!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally got all my documents together to send to Bankwest for my new credit card application. Sent it off and got a ?successfully delivered? DSN message, marginally interesting because it took nearly a minute to arrive. But there are more minutes. After fully 2 minutes, 10 seconds, I received: From MAILER-DAEMON  Mon Oct  4 16:25:35 2021 To: From: Mail Delivery System <> Date: 04 Oct 2021 13:24:31 +0800 Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure) The following message to <> was undeliverable. The reason for the problem: 5.1.0 - Unknown address error 550-'5.4.1 Recipient address rejected: Access denied.

Sun, 03 Oct 2021 21:28:55 UTC

Take It Back

Posted By Cory Doctorow

This week on my podcast, I read my latest Medium column, Take It Back,” on the relationship between copyright reversion, bargaining power, and authors? rights. MP3

Sun, 03 Oct 2021 02:23:43 UTC

Still more backup pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow I've run out of explanations for why I'm having so much trouble with my backup disks. Into the office this morning to find that the backup on the new disk had (just) finished, successfully. So had the photo backup, which I had forgotten to disable. But that was still at SCSI-2 speeds (40 MB/s). What do I do? First, play it safe: connect all the standard backup disks to the motherboard. Well, almost all: one of the issues is that the motherboard only has 4 USB-3 ports (I think), while I have at least 6 disks, and my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II also connects via USB-3.

Sat, 02 Oct 2021 19:00:00 UTC


Posted By Tim Bray

It was just a minor story in the business section, nothing front-page. But when I heard (earlier in the day, from an insider), the news was cathartic; I had to stand up and take a walk. Summary: Amazon was about to find itself in court with the US National Labor Relations Board over the firing of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa; the event that caused me to walk away from the best job I ever had and a whole lot of money. On September 29th, Amazon avoided that trial by signing a humiliating out-of-court settlement.

Sat, 02 Oct 2021 16:00:00 UTC

20 years of The Practice of System and Network Administration!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Twenty years ago the first edition of The Practice of System and Network Administration shipped! Since then there has been a 2nd and 3rd edition (2006 and 2014), plus a sequel book The Practice of Cloud System Administration, and many printings. (see the timeline here) When we started the project we had no idea if it would be a success. There was a real chance it could be a flop. Many people told us that our proposal was illogical: How could you have a book about system administration that is vendor agnostic and talks about process and people instead of specific tools and operating systems?

Sat, 02 Oct 2021 04:12:36 UTC

More backup disk problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find last night's backup of eureka still running. That's not really surprising; it was only a level 2 dump, but since there was nothing else on the disk, it might as well have been a level 0 dump. But something still didn't ring true. Looking at the log file, I found: Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: ugen0.11: <Western Digital> at usbus0 Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: umass0: <Western Digital My Passport 2627, class 0/0, rev 2.10/40.08, addr 23> on usbus0 Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: umass0:  SCSI over Bulk-Only; quirks = 0xc001 Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: umass0:3:0:-1: Attached to scbus3 Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus3 target 0 lun 0 Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0: <WD My Passport 2627 4008> Fixed Direct Access SPC-4 SCSI device Sep 30 ...

Fri, 01 Oct 2021 01:07:55 UTC

Another fishy hardware failure

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm still not convinced that my TV really failed exactly when I installed more memory in teevee last month. But it seems that I have another case: yesterday I got a new USB hub for my external backup disks, and this morning I came into the office to find lots of: Wed 29 Sep 2021 21:04:12 AEST: Partial backup of /home/grog since 26-Sep-2021 zstd: error 25 : Write error : No space left on device (cannot write compressed block) There should be plenty of space on the disk.

Fri, 01 Oct 2021 00:53:45 UTC

Mail configuration pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Jerry Dunham today, telling me that his ISP was shutting down, and he was looking for a new mail provider. OK, for him I can do that. But what is he going to do about his current email address? It relates to his current provider. He can't take that with him. This is the ultimate ?I told you so?. I even published it. From the last edition of ?The Complete FreeBSD?, page 317: It's certainly a very good idea to have your own domain name.