Wanted: one probabilistically sorted list algorithm.

(If you’re not both a programmer and an IRC addict, stop reading this post. Now. Otherwise it will just confuse you.)

I’m trying to come up with an algorithm for a probabilistically sorted list to improve UnrealIRCd’s spamfilter system. For more information on what I’m trying to achieve, read this article in the Unreal 3.3* development wiki. Now, I’m trying to work out the best way of doing this, and I’m kind of short on ideas (although I do have some sort of general idea that I need to refine a bit before I dare to post it). If you have any suggestions, please post in comments, e-mail me, SMS me… whatever.

I’ve decided to give this a try as it will really challenge my logic skills (or lack thereof). If there’s something I like, it’s a programming challenge. Also, this is a really good way for me to contribute to UnrealIRCd, instead of the usual bug report or feature suggestion that I occasionally make.

By the way, I’m only going to (try to) develop the algorithm, and then submit it to the UnrealIRCd team. As I don’t know any C, I can’t actually code it. Which kind of sucks. (Incidentally, I may be switching over to C++ as my main programming language soon… if it goes ahead, I’ll let you know more about that one.)

IRC Services forums temporarily down

Just a quick note to inform you that the IRC Services community forums that I maintain are temporarily down, as I’m moving them to new webhosting. It’s going to take a few days for them to come back up. As I write this, I’m using FTP to move all the PHP files and the database over to the new host. Then I have to contact za.net and tell them to change the nameservers, which will take a few days for them to do. Then it will take a few more days for those DNS changes to propagate. Which is, incidentally, the one real gripe I have with DNS caching – whenever you change DNS stuff, you always have to wait for those changes to propagate because some DNS server somewhere that has the old information in its cache is feeding users that old information. (Until that old information expires.) I will post back as soon as the site is operational again.

If you have absolutely no idea what any of that stuff in the above paragraph means, Google Is Your Friend.

Oh, and if you’re expecting to still find me on the KnightNet IRC network, I may as well tell you. I’ve permanently left them. I’m sick and tired of fighting with the network staff over getting their ircd upgraded (they’re running a derivative of UnrealIRCd 3.2.1 and we’re about to release 3.2.5); additionally I’m tired of getting abuse from said staff every time I try to help said IRC network out with something. You can still find me on FireServ and Ethereal though.

Windows Vista – will your existing programs run?

Anyone who knows the slightest thing about computers will know that the next version of Windows (Vista) is going to be released later this year. Assuming that ScumSoft (oops, sorry, “Microsoft”) doesn’t push back the release date yet again. Now, before you read any further, I just want to let you know that this post is not about flaming Microsoft in anyway (even though I want to), it’s not about “uninstall Windows and run Linux instead”, it’s not even about “uninstall Linux and go back to using Windows”. You can put those flames in the comments, thank you very much. This post is for those of you thinking about upgrading to Vista when it comes out. If you’re worried about application compatibility, you should definitely read this. A lot of things have been tinkered with under the hood, and while it was generally possible that an application that ran fine on 2K would also run fine on XP, it’s not going to be the same way with XP and Vista.

The folks at PCFormat managed to get hold of the latest beta of Vista, and they tried running various applications on it. Some worked fine, and others… well, they blew up in their faces. Horribly. So, here’s the various results, reproduced for those of you who don’t read said computer magazine.

I’m going to say this once, and once only: YOU WILL MOST LIKELY NEED NEW SECURITY SOFTWARE. All of the big names failed to run, for example Norton’s 2006 security suite. While new, Vista-compatible versions are sure to be released, this is definitely a cause for concern. It means that I, for one, will definitely hold off upgrading until I can be sure that my anti-virus and firewall are compatible with Vista.

Moving right along to productivity software, since I know that all of you are hard-working souls. (Or not.) You pretty much know that with any version of Windows, Microsoft Office is guaranteed to run perfectly. And run perfectly it does, even versions as old as Office 2000. rooijan will be very pleased to hear that OpenOffice 2.0 also runs absolutely fine, even the Java Runtime components (!!!).

Staying with that sort of thing, let’s move on to browsing. The big flop here is QuickTime. It just doesn’t want to integrate with Internet Explorer 7. Fortunately I don’t use it. It may be an issue if you do. Another “fortunately” here, is that Firefox runs perfectly. For the downloaders (I know that there are a few of you who read this), your BitTorrent and P2P clients runs fine. Likewise, Firefox’s download manager has no problems. (Don’t you just love Firefox?)

Now, I know that some of you reading this are keen gamers, and you’ll be keen to know how your games perform. Games were a major casualty when we all upgraded to XP, and it’s going to be similar with Vista. Particularly your older games, like those old DOS abandonware titles. (I still play the Space Quest games, by the way.) I’m sure that emulators will be developed, but don’t get your hopes up. However, the original Half-Life runs fine, and integrates itself with Vista quite nicely. On one side of the coin, I’m quite happy. On the other, I was kind of hoping that Microsoft would kill off Counter-Strike. (*ducks*) More up-to-date stuff like Half-Life 2, Unreal Tournament 2004 and their ilk run fine, albeit a tad slower due to more resources being used by Vista.

The audiophiles amongst you will be pleased to know that Winamp runs OK, generally. There are some glitches in places, but these are expected to be ironed out before Vista ships. There’s still no DVD codec included, so you’ll need something like PowerDVD to play back your DVDs. You also need at least version 6 of this; older versions break in your face. Microsoft has announced that Vista will also recognise Blu-ray discs, but that’s as far as support for them goes. (In other words, it won’t play them.) But that’s nothing that the right drivers and applications can’t fix. Most of you will still need a third-party application for burning discs. Granted, packet writing to CDs and DVDs is supported in Vista, as it is in XP, and you can use Windows Media Player to burn audio CDs (that’s one program that I avoid like the plague), but for anything more complex that third-party application comes in handy. And, unfortunately, Nero (which is what I use) doesn’t work. Yet another reason for me to put off upgrading.

As far as creativity goes, Paint Shop Pro works. Photoshop doesn’t.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the utilities. These are the applications you take for granted – until they disappear, stop working, or haven’t been installed in the first place. Programs like WinZip. Fortunately, that runs properly. But WinRAR doesn’t.

So, it can be seen that many applications, both loved and hated, don’t run. But there are plenty of them that do, and it’s surprising (considering Microsoft) how many of them there are. Needless to say, I strongly recommend to all of you to stick with XP, and only upgrade to Vista when absolutely necessary. Or you could just uninstall Windows and use Linux instead.

Give me the power!

So, my motherboard and power supply arrived last week – and because the power supply is mounted at the bottom of the case, it doesn’t reach the motherboard. PC Zone told me to return it and get a power supply with longer leads, which I was going to do, until Chris told me about a company called NCST (Natal Cabling blah blah). They’re at Unit 3, Ebony Park, Springfield Park, and apparently they sell extension leads for around R60. If anyone knows where this place is (I’m guessing that it’s roughly across the road from Makro), please leave a comment…

Stalking students…

This is what happens on IRC when one of your students decides to stalk you… happened last night when I was trying to upload those photos the first time.

* Now talking on #durban
* Topic for #durban is: We(Danny) put the U in idiot
* Topic for #durban set by wizzard!captain@nstuff.za.net at Mon May 08 13:17:16 2006
«Savage» Kieron
«Ron2K» …
«Savage» u work @ CTI
«Ron2K» Correct.
«Ron2K» Why?
«Savage» ??
«wizzard» and here we observe a stalker in their natural habitat. It seems we are lucky enough to see this one showing itself to its victim. Lets watch…
«Ron2K» LOL
«Savage» LOL : wizzard
«Savage» no i know u but u dont know me
«Savage» well u do but u havent acknowledged me
«Ron2K» Stalkers… 😛
* Ron2K suspects that Savage found his blog…
* Savage raises a eye-brow
«Savage» back 2 the action
«Danny» haha
«Savage» Ron2k u sit next 2 a Indian guy
«Ron2K» Talking of which, it doesn’t want to let me update it. Stupid bloody 56K line.
«Savage» shame life will go on
«Savage» anies
* Ron2K does a /WHOIS on Savage
«Ron2K» * [Savage] (jvarty@ethereal-2FCE77AB.telkom-ipnet.co.za): james
«Ron2K» OK, now I know who you are.

For the record, James Varty, aka Savage, is a quiet guy who tends to keep to himself. Now we know why.

Photos. Finally

Turns out that the anti-virus update was leeching my bandwidth, so I’m going to have another go at posting those photos. Feel free to leave nasty comments if they don’t upload this time.

How do you use a 3GB cap in a week?

Don’t even attempt to answer that question. But anyway, the students at CTI managed it.

OK, let me give you some background information. We have an internet room for the students. We’re connected via an ADSL line to the rest of the world, with a 3GB cap. Now, with students being students… you know the rest. Anyway, this time it took them five days to blow it.

The problem is that the staff share the connection with the students, so we’re affected by this as well. With the finance department needing to do Internet banking, that is a bit of a problem. The solution should be to have two ADSL lines, one for the staff, and one for the students. That way, the students can experience hell on earth (and deservedly so) when they use up their cap, while we can get to go through the whole month without such worries (unless someone on the staff downloads naughty things, which realistically shouldn’t happen). However, some may argue that just letting the Internet abusers amongst the students abuse the Internet like that is unfair on those who actually use the Internet for work. So, what we should do is limit what each individual student could download to, say, 25MB per month. The only problem is that I don’t know how to do this. I would guess that a proxy server, together with a domain controller (giving the students an individual login and password; right now there’s no such authentication, which is a tad impractical) would do the trick. Only… I have no knowledge of proxy servers. I don’t even know if Windows Server 2003 has proxy server capabilities. Tried looking though its help system earlier today, but found nothing. Typical Microsoft help. Oh well, suppose I should ask Jeremy for help on how to use squid (Linux’s proxy server). He should be well aquainted with it, given his knowledge of UKZN’s system. Failing which, I’ll have to make friends with Google.

I’ll have some suggestions at the next staff meeting, though.

Finally found the digital camera after a few hours trying to figure out where it had been hidden this time, so I took some photos of my new case. They don’t want to upload over my 56K line at home, so you’ll have to wait a few more days to see them. (Motherboard still hasn’t arrived, by the way.)

On a more serious note. I mentioned car crashes in my last post. Unfortunately, one of my friends (who will remain anonymous) wrote off his car the other day. The details that I heard are a tad sketchy, but from what I gathered, he was on the M13 in the vicinity of exit 7 (the University Road / Essex Terrace offramp) when a pedestrian ran in front of his car. He swerved, lost control, ended up on the opposite carriageway (somehow dodging the oncoming traffic) before hitting the barriers on the opposite side. Cracked a rib and a knee cap, and wrote off his car (he was going at quite some speed), but at least he’s OK, and that’s what counts.

Finally. (I know you’re sick of reading this by now.) I’ve successfully registered the domain ron2k.za.net, and set it up to point here.

That is all.