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status: coffee lunch irs spam utec

Mon Jul 17 14:46:02 EDT 2006

COFFEE
 
 When she is there, which is most of the time, the matriarch of the
 eggroll cafe [1] greets me with a cheerful "AND how are YOU, today SIR?".
 
 	[1] http://www.eggrollcafe.com/
 
 Without exception I reply, "I am WELL, how are you today MA'AM?"
 
 She replies "I am WELL today." and most often adds "AND where is your
 crew today?"
 
 If answer is needed, mine is "Ah well, they are all hard at work. They
 seem to like to work. They're not always slipping off the the coffee
 shop like me."
 
 The matriarch generally laughs politely.
 
 We perform this ritual at least once a week.
 
 Friday afternoon at the coffee shop (my 3rd visit that day), we were
 joined by Lee Jones of the math dept. He left us a puzzle-virus. John
 seems to have been infected. People were polite enough to laugh at my
 joke about the difference between an introverted and extroverted
 engineers. John suggested we talk about our week and modestly claimed
 not to have accomplished much this week.
 
 DATES (lunches, reunions, meetings,etc)
 
 (13 days) Jul 28 	Lowell Folk Festival
 (20 days) Aug 04 	lunch / project meeting / reunion
 (21 days) Aug 05/06 	Wikimedia conference []
 (24 days) 		Board Meeting
 (41 days) Aug 25th 	last day of summer work
 (52 days) Sept 03 	school starts
 
 [] http://wikimania2006.wikimedia.org/wiki/Schedule
 
 NERD LUNCH
 
 August 04, cadre at brave.cs.uml.edu is lunching with admin at cs.uml.edu
 
 PROJECT MEETING
 Josh Harding, president of our BOD and Minor Threat fan. ("at least I'm
 fucking trying!!") is coming up for the project meeting, reunion and
 possibly lunch.
 
 REUNION
 
 7pm Friday Aug 04, at the brewery exchange [2] we are having our summer
 reunion. Anyone reading this message is welcome. Lab will cover food,
 you are on your own for booze.
 
 	[2] http://www.thebreweryexchange.com/
 
 IRS
 The IRS asked for a second set of additional information.[3] I got the
 letter Tuesday and the deadline was Monday. I'm a bit nervous about some
 of their questions. [4] The nolo press book [] is a good guide and there
 is a newer one.
 [3]
 http://thecsl.org/sys/legal_and_tax/apply_501c3/1023_aug13_2005/2006-07_response_to_IRS.doc
 [4]
 http://www.nolo.com/product.cfm/ObjectID/5C6811EB-C2B2-414C-B126D98C0F5364B4/111/ 
 
 
 
 LOWELL SUN
 This particular tech support issue is interesting because it points to a
 need for ticketing software, the dangers of taking an error message at
 face value and the danger of trusting authority and the as yet 
 unresolved problem of scaling tech support up to handle more organizations.
 
 3 Friday's ago, Lindolfo Carballo of CBA [5] called because he couldn't 
 get email to Christopher Scott at the Lowell Sun. I left voicemail for 
 the Sun's web dept (as close as they have to a published IT contact) and
 with their anti-spam vendor "MXlogic.com". Then I moved the message out
 of my inbox and forgot about it. The weakness of my personal task
 management system is that I assume people will get back to me and file
 messages that I'm waiting for a reply on. --Hence a clue that we need a
 ticket system.
 
 	[5] http://cbacre.org
 
 Last week, I remembered I'd not heard back from anyone I had called and 
 repeated some calls. This time I reached a person @ the sun who asked I 
 forward original bounce message. It took me a while to find the 
 particular  "fwd,re fwd, MESSAGE BOUNCED" I was looking for. --Another 
 argument for a ticket system to organize these sorts of things.
 
 When I found the message, I reviewed the cryptic "mailbox restricted"
 error message, which confirmed my original "rogue spam filter" theory.
 
 However, for the first time I noticed that 'csott' was maybe not a good
 email address.
 
 I re-checked the Sun website and realized that while the label for the
 mailto: link was "cscott at lowellsun.com" the value of the link was
 "csott at lowellsun.com". Both Lindolfo and I had trusted the Sun's web
 site to have accurate contact info. (almost a week later it isn't fixed)
 
 With our current tech support systems, we won't be able to provide this 
 kind of support to everyone.
 
 BACKUP PROBLEM (swallowing frogs)
 
 The central premise of the quick, shallow but useful book, I mentioned 
 last week "Eat that Frog" [6] is that you should tackle your most 
 important and difficult task first thing.
 
 	[6] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1576751988
 
  From Sunday until Tuesday, the backup scripts on brave complained "this 
 is not an Rdiff-backup directory." Finally, I tossed the problem in 
 John's lap.  Rather than procrastinating, he tackled the problem right 
 away. As it turned out /etc/fstab was configured so that /var was 
 mounted after /var/backup --which obviously didn't work.
 
 LDAP ADMIN
 Manny's working on adding a more standard interface to
 /usr/local/sbin/ldapadmin
 
 Chris's script works fine and does all we need to do in LDAP, it just is
 a little awkward to use at first because you can't put everything on one
 command line. The old prompting interface will still be available.
 
 This should help Manny get the ldap knowledge he's going to need to work
 with John on getting the control panel up.
 
 SPAM
 After a few weeks of study, John made his first moves. He removed some 
 out of date rules. This had the happy side effect of reducing memory 
 usage per amavis process from 100M to 50M. He then added some more rules 
   which (very, very subjectively) seem to have reduced spam somewhat 
 over the weekend.
 
 Next steps are to upgrade from spamAssassin 3.0 to 3.1
 
 VIRTUAL SERVER
 Thanks to Josh and Tuyen for their helpful thoughts on the hardware. 
 Basically the sentiment was anti-Dell, too expensive, no virtualization 
 instruction CPUs, not free software friendly.
 
 Right now Rob is looking at the company [7] that Linux journal said was 
 worthy to create their "Ultimate Linux Server" [8] Prices seem a good 
 bit better, and everything is likely to work with Linux.
 
 	[7] http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/article/9062
 	[8] http://www.aberdeeninc.com/
 
 Apart from brandname, the potential downside is that it isn't clear that 
 they offer over-night or same day replacement of parts.
 
 Matt is working on getting csl-dns-03 moved over to a virtual server.
 
 He's also working on the problem of keeping the xen kernel up to date 
 with security patches. There is not a Debian xen kernel package and 
 mailing list archives suggest the default make-kpkg bz compressed kernel 
 doesn't work well with xen