Archive for August, 2006

Carte Blanche

I don’t own a checkbook. I didn’t get one because I was moving when I opened my bank account and I didn’t know what my address would be. Since being here the only check I’ve had to write was the one for my rent. I’ve been doing that through my bank’s online bill-pay.

I’ve been contemplating what to do about the check my landlord said he never received and was searching the internet. I ran across a lovely story of a guy who had his checkbook stolen and the twenty or so businesses where his checks were subsequently forged and accepted without ID. I’ve been trying to find something on if you had an already completed check stolen, but I am having trouble with the huge number of results for stolen checkbooks. One of my favorites is for this woman who was paid with her own check.

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House Hunting

I got an email from my landlord a couple days ago telling me my rent was late and that I owed him a $25 late fee. At first I kicked myself for having forgotten to pay my rent then I remembered that I hadn’t. Not only had I told my shitty bank to send him a check, I had seen it in the mail at the house. I went online and verified that the check wasn’t a figment of my imagination. Sure enough there was a $650 debit on my account July 31st.

I emailed the bank and asked them exactly what I could do. The thing is I know the check arrived at the house. Someone in the house took it. Well, actually my landlord has had people wandering through continually for the last month trying to fill rooms. I suppose anyone could have taken it. I just need to get out of that damned flop house.

I went today to look at a place about ten blocks from my office (I currently live two blocks away). The cool bit is there are two big ol’ golder retrievers who live there. I really like real dogs and not the creepy overgrown rats that are all the rage with these sissified city-slickers. The main issue is the commute. A whole fifteen minutes of walking to get to work. I dunno if I can take that. ☺

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What Little Wills Are Made Of

So I went to the Y and had my fitness tested. I failed solidly with a 36/100.

I don’t feel too bad about it:

  1. I couldn’t touch my toes because I’ve got sciatica and there’s not too much to do about it.
  2. My cardio test showed me to have a high heart-rate, but I did it right after I did 35 push-ups and 60 sit-ups. (There was someone else going at the same time, so I had to do the strength bit first where you do as many of each as you can in a minute.)

The bit I really wanted to find out was my body composition. I’m 30lbs of fat and 165lbs of other stuff. That’s 15% which is a little better than I expected it to be. My goals are fourfold in this new gym bit:

  • 10% body fat (That’s about there the abbies start showing up in guys. It’s around 14% in women.)
  • bench press 195lbs (That’s what I weigh and it seems like I ought to be able to bench myself.)
  • curl 100lbs 15 times (That’s what McK weighs and I want to be able to throw her if she continues to sass me.)
  • touch my toes (Because I’m twenty-fucking-seven years old.)

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I’ve spent the day lying around doing not much of anything. On the_archange1‘s recommendation, I watched the entire first season of The IT Crowd. (The site is interesting in that people outside the UK are not allowed to access the show clips.) Very funny show and worth a download.

I also played around with configuring my computer some to solve some problems. McK has been coming over after the gym and I’ll rub her back while she relaxes. I like to watch TV while doing this, but for her, I want to play music. Well, my machine has two soundcards in it: an Audigy 5.1 channel card for my speakers and then an onboard NVidia chip. It turns out that if I just pass -ao alsa:device=hw=1,0 to MPlayer, it’ll pipe the sound to that other card so I can listen on headphones. Handy.

I’ve also been irritated that all the fancy keys on my Natural Keyboard don’t work. Unfortunately, xev revealed that about half of them don’t even result in keycodes getting sent in. I did however modify my config using xmodmap to get the forward and back buttons working for Amarok.

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Why oh Y?

MPP has a deal with the Y where, as a non-profit, they get 30% off all fees, so McK and I joined up. We went three times last week, and it was as unpleasant as starting back to the gym generally is. Yesterday was really interesting though: we had our introduction to the Fitlinxx system.

They’ve got two rooms full of equipment with little touch screens next to each one. You sit down and enter your pin. Whenever you do a set, it tracks the speed of your time up and down, and it counts for you. They’ve got some treadmills which will track your progress and there’s a little kiosk where you can enter cardio stuff that you do on your own. If you graduate to the free weights then you have to write down your sets and you leave it for a trainer who enters the numbers for you. From talking to the guy, he seems to watch people who are working out and leaves little training notes for them in the system.

As I was looking up Fitlinxx to link to them, I found all their data syncs online. Once I made myself an account, I can do stuff like see my stats and manually enter workouts. That’s pretty cool. They show your stats as a function of everyday objects. In my workout yesterday, I lifted a total of 15,110lbs or five of the new Beetles. That sounds much more impressive than the 35 gummi bears I burned off on the elliptical trainer. ☺

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I’m on the DC LUG listserv and someone mentioned getting hundreds of failed attempts to connect to the computer via SSH. I thought I’d take a look and see if I was having anything like that. I took a look at /var/log/secure and in the last three weeks there have been over 14,000 failed connections. michael, christopher, matthew, joshua, jacob, andrew, daniel, nicholas, tyler, joseph, david, brandon, james, john, ryan, zachary, justin, anthony, william, robert, jonathan, kyle, austin, alexander, kevin, cody, thomas, jordan, eric, benjamin, aaron, jose, christian, steven, samuel, brian, dylan, timothy, adam, nathan, richard, sean, charles, patrick, jason, luis, … It just goes on and on.

This clearly won’t do. It is highly unlikely this person is going to both guess my username and my password, but I just don’t like that it is going on. So, I added these lines to the iptables:

iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -m state --state NEW 
         -m recent --set
iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -m state --state NEW 
         -m recent --update --seconds 60 --hitcount 4 -j DROP

So, any more than three attempts to establish a connection to SSH within a minute period will cause any further connection attempts to drop. If I understand the code correctly as well, the count doesn’t reset until a minute has passed, so if they keep hitting it constantly, it will never stop dropping them.

If they’re smart, they could figure out it is resetting after a minute since rate-limiting isn’t terribly creative. Pulling off a brute force attack with one attempt every twenty seconds will certainly take a while.

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So, I’m an uncle now. Little Finn Lawson Holcomb was born 8lbs 5oz yesterday. I’d post a picture of him, but the Verizon people are bitches and have disabled OBEX on their Razr. They want to force me to pay them to get pictures off my phone and add ringtones. Greedy fuckers.

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