Monthly Archives: November 2006

GRC’s Script-Free Pure-CSS Menuing System

If you’d like to do a modern drop-down menuing system for your website but want to maintain compatibility as much as possible for people browsing with scripting turned off or older browsers you might want to take a look at the GRC menuing system which is entirely done in CSS without any help from Javascript or any other scripting language. Implemented largely by Steve Gibson with help from the GRC community the menuing system has been placed in the public domain so anyone can use it for free and allows tons of customization including at least two layers of menuing. Don’t take my word for it check it out yourself at the GRC script free menuing page.

Geeks come in all flavors

Yesterday I happened across “The Power Tool Geek” blog. Written by one of the forces behind an online tool supplier I won’t say it’s not biased towards or against various brands but most people do have a favorite brand of power tool so I won’t hold that against them. Anyway it makes for an interesting read.

Retro Computing

Today I’ve got two sites of interest for the retro computing crowd. The first is the Retrozone: New school tech for old school gamers. Here you can find popular console gaming system controllers that have been converted to USB devices so you can use them for gaming on your PC (perhaps with an emulator for some of those old games). They also have kits to convert some of the less popular (or available) controllers you might own to USB. Such a kit might also be useful if you desired to build your own controller from the ground up.

Secondly, I recently heard about a possible connection between an early Atari interface and USB. The Atari museum website seems to agree:

Atari’s first two computers were called the Atari 400 and Atari 800 Personal Computer Systems. These computers had a large assortment of “Intelligent” peripherals which communicated through a custom bus called the “SIO” (Serial I/O) which compared to today standards is a rather simplistic version of the USB (Universal Serial Bus). In fact the USB and the Atari SIO have a lot more in common then many would think. One of Atari’s original computer engineers, Joe Decuir who created the Atari SIO bus is also one of the team of engineers at Microsoft to help design and holds patents on the USB.

While I don’t know the specifics of the SIO interface or how it compares with USB (other than just being a serial interface) it is an interesting tidbit of knowledge and something I don’t remember hearing anything about when USB was introduced.

Why does Debian use antiquated syslog rotation?

Overnight I got loads of “452 Insufficient system storage” errors from one of the mailservers I manage which led me on a little hunt for the problem and a delving into the mystical world of Debian log rotation.

To make a long story shorter it turns out that BIND was filling my /var/log/syslog and /var/log/daemon logs with “sysquery: no addrs found for root NS” entries to the tune of 100s a minute bloating my logs to the point they filled my /var partition completely grinding Postfix to a halt because the chroot jail it runs in is on the /var partition.

Obviously the first step was to fix the BIND error that was filling the logs. This is actually a pretty easy fix and simply involved re-creating the db.cache file which was out of date (probably thanks to the use of generally reliable upstream DNS servers). All it took to fix this was updating the file:

cd /etc/bind
dig ns . > db.cache.tmp
mv db.cache.tmp db.cache
/etc/init.d/bind reload

The next step was to free up some space on the /var partition. I could probably have just deleted the offending files but because they wouldn’t take up much space when compressed and I hate to screw up the log rotation process I decided to rotate them a few times myself. I could probably have done this manually but didn’t know how the log rotation process worked in Debian and was afraid of throwing it for a loop if I did this so I wanted to do it using the rotation tool itself.

As it turns out Debian ships with a highly configurable log rotation tool (it’s really great you can seletivly rotate based on all sorts of conditions) called logrotate which I believe can originally be attributed to coders at Red Hat. Unfortunatly the standard Debian setup does not actually use it for rotating the syslog file which is exactly what I needed to rotate.

After some digging it turns out Debian uses a kludged together script located at /etc/cron.daily/sysklogd for rotating the syslog. This isn’t the first time that someone has pointed out the sillyness of having such a script as this posting from 1999 I found clearly indicates it’s been a longstanding issue. Why the developers didn’t switch to using the logrotate program for the syslog when they started including it is beyond me. It seems that it would be easy enough to make the changeover unless I’m missing something in which case I would appreciate hearing the concern with doing this.

Of course others have pointed out that the standard syslog daemon leaves a lot to be desired so you could even read about how to change that out to something more configurable at the Debian-Administration site.