Author Archive

Hooray A/C

February 13th, 2008 Comments off

That’s right A/C. I walked into my hotel room tonight, and the priorities were 1.) turn on A/C 2.) Scan for wireless networks. I guess more to follow but I’ve been traveling for 12-13 hours so I’m going to go relax.


I have no name!

February 10th, 2008 Comments off

I had this weird problem at work back in December that I thought I’d share. I had noticed that when I started new gnome-terminals, my prompts read:

I have no name!@urbs-19979

Now that’s weird, but I ignored it since the machine was working and I was in a series of meetings. However, when I started trying to ssh into other systems I was getting told

You don’t exist, go away!

At this point I verbally told my laptop “You don’t tell me no” which caused some weird looks but people moved on just fine. Since the problem was now getting in my way I had to look into it. After a while I had realized that by adding a username to my ssh commands (through -l user or user@host) I could use ssh again. This caused me to think something was wrong with /etc/passwd, and I was right. My user couldn’t read /etc/passwd, fixed the permissions and all was well. I forget what I did to muck up /etc/passwd, but I’m sure if I had been using vipw like you’re supposed to I wouldn’t have had this problem…..but then again I would have missed out on the great gems that programmers leave in their programs.


Cool tool: iftop

January 10th, 2008 1 comment

I’ve got a list of tools I think are cool or useful, so I’m going to start sharing my thoughts of them here….isn’t that the point? So today’s tool is iftop. It can be used to display bandwidth usage on an interface. If you can’t figure out what it does based on the name, their description of the tool lays it out well:

iftop does for network usage what top(1) does for CPU usage. It listens to network traffic on a named interface and displays a table of current bandwidth usage by pairs of hosts. Handy for answering the question “why is our ADSL link so slow?”.

Small and simple tool, what’s not to like. Real good for those times that you know something is eating traffic but don’t know what. Check out screenshots of iftop at

Update: While perusing through logs it is clear that people find this page because they are looking for information on how to read iftop output. Looking back at this post I clearly stiffed everybody on that aspect of things, and have wanted to post an update on how to interpret what’s going on in iftop. Luckily took care of that far better than I would be able to do, so go check out his article How to Monitor Network Traffic in Linux.


One of those weeks

December 13th, 2007 1 comment

Have you ever have one of those weeks where at the beginning you thought everything was going to be reasonable and time would just pass quickly, but then you run into a wall and everything falls apart? Why can’t this week just end? To make it worse, I was on the way home I was thinking about how it is supposed to snow late this afternoon and how that might mean not going to Poughkeepsie Friday, but now I don’t see how that helps at all.

On a brighter note, here’s a great reference for any How I Met Your Mother fan.


Random quiz: Your Sleeping Pose

December 13th, 2007 Comments off

Doing these quizzes isn’t my normal thing, but this had some odd questions and pegged me pretty well. It helps that I did not feel like even attempting to catch up on anything tonight.

I am a excalibur!
Find your own pose!