Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tale of the Missing FIN/ACK Part III

They fixed it!

They moved the server to a new box. They didn't mention if it was "beefier" or not, but they moved it.

I'd like to believe this is the end of the story.

I must say, I'm impressed. Stunned. That was a weird problem and they actually paid attention.

I asked GoDaddy Guy what the problem was and he was "not at liberty to say".



That, hopefully, is that. I sure got my four bucks worth this month.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tale of the Missing FIN/ACK Part II

Yesterday I get home from my busy day at work (which consisted of waiting for the boss to make a decision that is still in limbo as we speak, even though the deadline in sow rotting in its grave), there was a voice mail from GoDaddy waiting for me.

I pick up my cell phone, I call the 800 number, select "1", then "1", enter my account number and press pound, etc.

I know the drill. I'm turning into an expert on this part.

The first level tech answers, I tell him that I have an open ticket, give him the details and he puts me on hold with the Squirrel Nut Zippers music I am so familiar with by now (I love SNZ but they seriously need to get some new "hold" music at GoDaddy).

While I'm on the cell phone, the land line rings (yes, we still have one, Pinky and I being the oldtimers we are).

Surprise. It's the guy from GoDaddy who left the voice mail. He tells me to hang up on the other guy, which I consider kind of rude but I do anyway. (It suddenly dawned on me that "life imitates tech" here... dropping the connection without a proper close... how... cosmic... wow. Just... wow.)

First off, the GoDaddy Guy tells me the new server is EXACTLY the same as the old server.


Except... "it's beefier."

Otherwise, it's EXACTLY the same. EXACTLY. But beefier.

I suppose if he knew I was a vegetarian he would have told me it had more fiber.

I don't get that. If it was exactly the same it would have exactly the same beefitude. Perhaps my definition of "exactly" isn't quite right.

Anyhow, the GoDaddy Guy wants to see exactly what my script does so they can troubleshoot the server by duplicating the problem.

Of course, the FIN/ACK issue has nothing to do with the script at all, and they can duplicate it any time by just ftp'ing a file, but I email the script to him anyway.

Here it is for the world to see, less some private details...

login [my login name]
password [my password]
macdef init
delete data3.xml
put data3.xml

I'm not sure what these Layer 7 details have to do with a Layer 3 issue but I send it to the guy. I explain to him it's the ".netrc" file for the user running the process that uploads the file.

Unfortunately I pronounce it "dot net are see", which immediately confuses the poor fella. I knew it was a mistake the moment after it came out of my mouth. I bit my tongue as soon as I said it.

"I'm more of a Webmaster than a programmer," he says, "I don't know anything about Microsoft .Net programming."


The .netrc file (which should be pronounced "net arse eee" for future reference - the "dot" is silent), for the Linux newbs among us, supplies auto-login information for any ftp site you wish to define within it. So when you type "ftp" at the command line, the ftp program will peal these details out of the .netrc file and log you in automatically, optionally performing any other commands you specify.

A very nice feature, widely regarded as a security vulnerability. But I'm a Big Boy and I can take care of myself. Don't worry about me.

But GoDaddy Guy doesn't seem to think the .netrc file is enough. He wants the script that actually calls the ftp command.

What the heck, I send it.

This script is called "masterxml". What it does is collect all the player data from any UT99 game that may be in progess (BOT House, BITCH House, Classic3, EXP///, or any of the "seledom seen" UT servers I put up every now and then), mashes it into an XML file and sends it to the server. It's not going to do them any good without the script that calls it (which is the Robo-Spectator stuff) or any of the other support scripts.

I mean, if they really, really want to duplicate EXACTLY (there's that word again) what I'm doing, they're going to need to put up a UT99 server and run my scripts on it.

Which could be cool, but there's no point. The scripts don't affect what's going on at the wire level.

This is going to be fun.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

General Amnesty Declared 8/28/2008

After I post this blog I am going to commit the new firewall rules.

The IP bans will all be cleared. You may see some folks you haven't seen in a long time.

Then, in a couple of minutes, they'll disappear again.

Traffic has dropped off since the power outage on Sunday (8/24) took me out of business for over four hours. Being out that long, the IP address lease expired and changed.

So, that's part of the reason. The other part is simply the firewall ruleset is way too big.

Here we go! Have fun!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

GoDaddy's New Problem

Last week I received this email from GoDaddy:

Dear ---- ------,

As part of a continuing effort to provide the highest quality service for our valued customers, your hosting account, MRHINKYDINK.COM, will be migrated to a new server in 24 hours. If you are using external DNS servers or your domain was created under a separate customer number... blah blah blah...

I was going to blog about it but I thought I'd give the some time to screw the pooch before I said anything.

And, by golly, screw the pooch they did. It only took them a week. Such a shame. Things were going so well, boys and girls.

I came home today to find the 4PM proxy run hung up. Sure enough, the World Domination Map was fucked as well. But it's not the "426 Connection closed. Transfer Aborted" problem this time.

It's something Tech Support will never, ever understand. I don't understand it much myself, but I do have a great deal of documentation on how the old server acted during an ftp transfer, and here's how it used to work:

  1. the ftp transfer completes
  2. my side issues a QUIT command
  3. GoDaddy sends a 221 response
  4. GoDaddy sends a FIN, ACK
  5. my side sends a FIN, ACK
  6. it's over

Here's how it works now:

  1. the ftp transfer completes
  2. my side issues a QUIT command
  3. GoDaddy sends a 221 response
  4. my side sends a FIN, ACK
  5. my side sends a FIN, ACK
  6. my side sends a FIN, ACK
  7. my side sends a FIN, ACK
  8. my side sends a FIN, ACK
  9. ad infinitum

See that? They didn't send a TCP "FIN, ACK" after their 221 response. As a result, my ftp process never gets the "It's over, Johnny" signal and waits for a long time. Sooner or later it times out, but the ftp command doesn't exit until that happens. In the map process, this is very, very bad, because it will still be waiting by the time the next run is ready (the runs are 30 seconds apart).

Lucky for me, I found a work-around. I issue a "close" command right after the QUIT in the ftp script. Basically, "close" means "Fuck this shit, I'm outtahere!" It's very rude, but it's the only way out without the ftp server sending a "FIN, ACK".

So far it seems to be working well.

The Proxy List process is a different story. I'll need to get a few more captures to see what the problem is there, but I added the "close" to that script just for funsies. But I can see myself writing a separate script for each page (ugh) to get around this crap. The map process is one file. The proxy process is twenty files.

I just wish GoDaddy would stop doing me these "favors".

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Hate When That Happens

I'm not sure what this crap is all about...

... but it seems to happen all the fucking time here on BlogSpot.

What it is, what I think it is, is FireFox trying to display compressed content as though it were "text/html".

That trick never works.

In fact a lot of tricks never work around here. I'd complain to the management, but the place is free. What're ya gonna do?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Marketing To Idiots

This Web site was brought to my attention the other day:

These crooks offer free "network management software". They market this crap to network administrators.


Dear God.

Administrators are the people who have total, complete control over every server and workstation in your environment (I'm guessing your environment is Windows).

is a rogue's gallery of the BOZOS who have actually installed this nonsense on their network. One of them even works in a hospital.


Before you start thinking Mr. Hinky Dink is flipping out (and shit like this does drive him nuts), here is how these crooks keep their spyware "free":
Relevant, unobtrusive ads from our sponsors help keep Spiceworks free. We understand that not everyone can have or wants ads in their environment. With Spiceworks MyWay you can replace the ads with your logo for just $20/month.
Are you getting the picture now?

They use the network credentials of the IDIOT who installs this crap to install it on every computer in your network.

I can see it now (cue the harp music)...
Admin (to himself): "dum dee dumm... wah? This looks like a valuable Enterprise application suite! I think I'll install it!"

Boss (from other room, screaming): "WTF ARE THESE PENIS ENLARGEMENT ADS DOING ON MY DESKTOP!!!???"

Admin: "Fuck!"

[Admin frantically gets out credit card, pays twenty bucks to get rid of ads.]
Get the picture?

Saturday, August 09, 2008 Traffic Report

Here's the monthly traffic report for

As you can see, the Proxy Project has added quite a bit of traffic to the site, which was really only originally designed to hold UT mods (don't worry - they aren't going away).

I was surprised to see this because going by the "eXTRMeMe Tracking" results you'd hardly think anyone at all was hitting the place. I'm also getting a Hell of a lot more search bot traffic than I thought I was.

Everything prior to that is just UT mod downloads. I'd like to think my Websense hack had something to do with the December 2007 results, but looking at the 2006 results it was probably just the Christmas rush.

You might recall on Christmas 2006 I added Santa to the Robo-Chat program. That was a lot of fun, but I never got around to doing it for Christmas 2007. In fact by that time I had hacked the program around some much it was difficult to bring Santa back. Or I was just too lazy. I can't remember which.

UT2004 went up today. I found a public mod server. It doesn't seem like anyone's really interested in playing. One of the reasons may be because I shut off stat logging, but from what I remember nobody really cared about playing it in the first place, although there are a lot of servers out there. The AMD64 version turned out to be pretty flaky, so I decided to run the x86 version on the AMD64 box. There's no noticeable difference in play. The last time I monkeyed around with it, Robo-Chat worked fine with the voice chat feature except for certain phrases. Not anymore, so getting it "on the Map" will be a problem.

Friday, August 08, 2008

UT2004 *NOT* Online!


It seems I forgot more than I ever knew about putting up at UT2k4 server.

One of the problems is that you need to have the game installed in order to test the server.

That was a trial. I looked everywhere. It took about a half hour but I finally found all 6 CDs in the original package hiding behind a book that was leaning next to my stereo amplifier.

After firing up CD #1 it said "Enter the activation code on the cover of your manaul".

Manual? Uh-oh.

I found the CDs in the box, but no manual. Crap.

Luckily I had it installed on my old Windows XP box (which is using most of the RAM for the Proxy Project) as well, so I dug into the Windows Registry and, to my surprise, found it! I scribbled it onto CD #1's envelope for future reference.

After about 45 minutes of setup it says, "Insert Play CD" so I get the CD out of the box and there, underneath the Play CD, is the FUCKING ACTIVATION CODE!!!

"Manual" my ass.

In goes the Play CD and setup chokes on it. It try everything to get it to read the CD (including the toothpaste trick) and nothing works, so an hour after I started this mess it says "setup failed".

But I click on the shortcut and eveything's fine. It runs better than it ever did on the old XP box (probably due to the PCI Express video card and the AMD64 CPU).

I had moved the files over to the BOT House server and then noticed that there's also an AMD64 binary, so I moved it again to my Dual Core AMD64 Mythbuntu system (I haven't said much, if anything, about the MythTV project that had me tearing my hair out earlier this year, but this is the most powerful box I own).

What followed was about an hour and a half of fiddling around with the INI settings, but I finally got it running off-Net. VERY smooth performance.

I need to check into a lot of things before it goes online. There have been a ton of patches and I'm not sure which ones I've installed. There's the issue of downloads. I have none of this stuff in the utmods folder on so I'm hoping to find a public download server. That was the problem with running it before. All the downloads were sent locally, which caused serious LAG on the other servers.

If I can't find a public download server I'll burn a DVD with the data and sneak it online over the 40mBps connection we have at work. While no one's looking.


Of course, I'm the only who ever looks. I'll have to make sure I'm looking the other way.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hinky's Revenge

I'm sure you remember the December Disaster. I lost a lot of stuff that was very near and dear to my heart, including:
  • My UT2004 server, BITCH House 2004 (a very unoriginal name, yes thank you)
  • My SOCKS code, a big, BIG part of the Proxy Project

Well, nine months after the disaster, Fortune has smiled upon the Dinkster!

Today I took down Experimental /// in order to add a USB 2.0 card to it (it was only capable of USB 1.0, seeing as it's almost ten years old). I found a Web cam that actually works on Linux and I wanted to play with it, but that's incidental.

While I had the box apart I went looking for that USB card amongst my huge collection of computer junk (note to self: always find the parts first, before taking the box apart). I found the card and a couple of hard drives. One was the Hitachi that died in December and the other turned out to be a good drive I had installed Vista RC1 on last year (I was never impressed with Vista and I'm not upgrading as long as I can avoid it).

I also found an old dual IDE-133 card that had been a great disappointment. This card was a dud if there ever was one. The manufacturer made a Windows 2000 driver and then promptly went out of business. But I figured I had an extra drive and a card to plug it into, so I slapped them both into EXP/// and fired it up.

Worked just fine.

I figured I had nothing to lose so I shut down and plugged the dead Hitachi drive in and booted back up.


I don't know where the magic came from because I've done this a half a dozen times trying to recover that stuff and it never worked before. I think it's part Linux and part weirdo IDE card. Perhaps the card is just too stupid to know that the drive is bad.

I don't know and I don't care. I'm just glad I got the stuff back!

EXP/// will be down while I tinker around with the hardware and add the extra drive (not the Hitachi). It shouldn't be much longer.

And look out for BITCH House 2004! It's coming back, BITCHESSSS!!!!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I hope nobody liked "Keller"

Because he's GONE now. And all variations on ".*Keller.*" as well.

You have to be careful about who you say "FUCK YOU" to. It might just be the sysop and ... who knows? ... he could be in a BAD MOOD.

So... don't do that. Don't be a jerk. It's not nice.

I wasn't really in a BAD MOOD, even though GoDaddy's been

I feel sorry for the poor little lady who answered the phone when I called yesterday (Friday 8/1/08). That morning I woke up to
The Proxy List trashed and The Map script getting kicked from the server every time it tried to upload game data, which if you're familiar with the process happens twice a minute if anyone's playing (like Keller won't be from now on).

It took several tries to manually upload
The List in tact and if I hadn't been pressed for time (this was at about 6:30AM, just before I leave the house for my Day Job) I would have gotten back on the phone for another "Technical Support" session.


When the day was done and I got back home I slipped into my beer-swilling outfit and sat down in front of the monitor just in time to see...

426 Connection closed. Transfer aborted.

... staring back at me, twice a minute, in beautiful, bold, 12 point Lucida Console.

You see, for about two weeks I've kept the live ftp transfer log opened in an ssh window to keep track of this problem. Usually, it just runs and runs with no problems. Let me repeat... no problems.

So I get my customer account number, my PIN, and my incident ID in front of me and call GoDaddy. While I'm dialing the number and navigating the menu, it stops. Everything goes back to normal.

Then this... ummm... gal answers the phone. Probably a nice young lady, I'm sure. I explain I have an open ticket and give her the incident ID number, which she proceeds to ignore completely!

"Just tell me what's happening," she says.

And I said, "It's all in that incident ID I gave you. I've explained this a dozen times and I'm tired of explaining it. They told me to call whenever it happens and it was happening before I called but now it stopped."

"Well," she said, "this is the first time you've explained it to me."

I tried, boys and girls, I sincerely tried. She wanted to know, like several of her co-workers before her, what "ftp client" I was using. They want to hear "FileZilla" or "Internet Explorer" or something, anything mainstream but I said, "The ftp client that comes with Debian Linux 4.0r1."

"What's it called?" she asked.

"`ftp`", I said.

"No I mean what's the name of the ftp program you're using?" she said.

I said, "It's called 'ftp'. Do you want me to spell it for you?"

Needless to say (every English teacher/professor I ever had always used to scribble "Then why say it?" on any paper I ever wrote with those three words in it - they weren't very original) the call went downhill from there.

"Listen", I said, "it stopped. We're done. I'll call back when it starts happening again becuase I know it will start happening again. I was told to call back when it happens and it happened but it stopped. We're done. Please don't send me a Customer Satisfaction Survey."

And that was it. She was kind of flustered, blubbering "Why won't you let me help you?" as we... well, I, ended the call.

It started up again about 45 minutes later. I got a different Tech Analyst, who took my Incident ID and immediately escalated it to "Second Level Support". They witnessed the problem (not the first time, but it hasn't ever helped) and I was told ONCE AGAIN that I'd get a response in 24 hours.

We'll see how that works out. They've said that twice before and never sent a response. But it's the third time, so that should be "the charm".

So remember, boys and girls, when you play UT on the Dinkster's servers, he likes to play incognito. And, even though it's not your fault, he might be in a Very Bad Mood.