April 2006

On my new server one of the things I really wanted was iptables. In the past when we have had problems with a machine choking the T1, all we know is which machine is doing it. Not what on the machine is doing it.

I want to solve this problem by letting iptables keep track of the traffic on each of the virutal hosts. I want to know if the traffic is on say port 80 or 25.

I spent many hours looking for decent info about this but didn’t find any. Sure everybody tells you how to build iptable filters but nobody gives you any good examples of how to do accounting based on them.

Then I found a site from 8/10/2004 that was just plain and simple.

It made it all make sense.

I will now take the into I’ve learned and see if I can coax MRTG into giving me some useful data about what is going on with traffic on the machine.

So I’ve been using TiddlyWiki since I first found out about it. Its turned out to be really handy.

One thing I’ve been thinking about would be a spreadsheet version of Tiddly. Tonight I’m gonna search and see if someone has alredy made one. I know that a javascript spreadsheet exists out there somewhere.

Off I go to look. If I find anything I will post it in comments.

I’m trying a new Pastis tonight.

In 2005 we went to southern France to the town of Collioure. While there I learned about a drink that is pretty popular in that area call Pastis. That night we bought a bottle of Ricard 45. I was hooked. I loved the strong flavor of it. I did not know how people drank it. My MIL told me that people usually mix it with cold water.

I took a glass and added 1.5 oz of Ricard and a few ice cubes. I watched the ice slowly melt into it. It turned cloudy. I was fascinated. Then I took my first sip. Wow! It was strong.

I’ve since learned that people usually mix it in about a 5:1 ratio of 5 water to 1 Pastis. I still cannot drink it at this ratio. I usually drink it at 1:1 or at most 2:1.

I’ve tried many of the brands available in Austin. Ricard, Pernod, Granier and Legendere. Tonight I’m trying one have have never seen before.

It’s made by Henri Bardouin and it’s just called ‘Pastis Liqueur – a pastis des provencaux’. The label says its a product of France and made in Provence.

Now of all the pastis I’ve tried I think Ricard 45 ranks as #1 best tasting followed by the Pernod. (I know they are made by the same company.) Herbsaint has the ‘best buzz’ and it happens to be the cheapest of the ones sold here.

This new one has a flavor that is closer to the Herbsaint than the Ricard. It turns a nice milky white color when mixed with water. (Each of the pastis have different colors. ie Herbsaint is greenish.) It seems to have a little more staying power for its after-taste. The anise dominates the taste; which is as it should be.

I will definitely add this one to my regular rotation.

I finally got around to putting all my Collioure 2005 trip photos on my HDD. So I plan on setting up a RLC and surrounding area gallery page. The plan is to have each photo well labeled and in some sort of order that is logical.

While waiting for the RLC stuff enjoy some wonderful scenes from the town of Collioure

The long awaited alpha of my RSS news feed ranker is now online.

Its really slow now, the Bayes library I am using is not really suited to this task. This is just a prototype.

The idea is that when you click on an article to read it, it increases the score of articles like that one in the future. When you click on the little blue arrow to the right of each headline, that will mark the article as uninteresting.

Right now there is only one shared database of likes/dislikes. Leave me feedback here about what you think I can do to improve it.

My first prototype of the XML Flashcards is online at XMLFlash

Right now it just has a text area for pasting code into. No error checking and it only generates one type of cards.

My photo gallery can now be found here:
Blank’s Gallery

So months ago, Around 6 months ago, when I first started thinking about XML flashcards, I couldn’t find much.

Now that I have taken the plunge and wrote some software to do it, everybody is doing it. I do a search for ‘xml flashcards’ and now suddenly there is lots of info. How did I miss all of this 6 mos ago when I was hoping to find that someone else had already done it?

Well now I’m gonna search and see if people have made any cool data sets. If so then I’m just that much further ahead. I have the program written to take the XML file and print it to pre-punched business card blanks. That way I get 10 cards per sheet. (After manual duplex printing.)

I punch a hole in the upper left hand corner of these and bind them by chapter or subject using a 3/4″ binder ring.

I feel compelled to rant about binder rings. A few years ago you could get them anywhere. All the major office supply stores carried them in boxes of 100 for good prices. Now it seems that they think these things are made o’ gold. They sell them in packs of 3 (three. no really three) for the price they used to sell a box for.

One of my most treasured possessions is a box of 9/16″ binder rings. Never before and never again will you these these. I got them in London in the year 1998 or so. Nobody makes them. People think I am an unfrozen caveman when I ask about them. Bah.

All this because I wanted flash cards to study my Italian.

The idea began as RSS flashcards. Not memory cards but the pieces of paper that have a question on one side and the answer on the other.

I see lots of virtual and physical word flash card programs available on the Internet. One thing most of em have in common is that the flashcards are in a closed format. You generally cannot import a dataset from one program to the next.

What if you like the way the program works but you want to have the data printed onto physical cards. Too bad.

Wouldn’t it be better if the data was stored in a common format that all programs could use. There could be a database of information that people want to learn. They can then just pick the program that presents that data in the way they want. (Now you have to find a program that has the data you want, that comes close to working the way you want)

So the simplest version of this in XML would be:
<?xml ?>

Any programmer could use this. You can get fancy and have the <front/> contain an image. Like: <front><img src=”http://www.host.com/image.gif”></front> and the back could be what the image is.

Another possibility would be RSS. Everything has got RSS in it. Think how easy it would be to convert the above example to the typical RSS…


With RSS you could send lessons on vocabulary to everyone in a class. They could check it in the morning. Look at the title and expand the description, see then answer and learn the new words.

So my goal right now is simple. Make some test XML data files. Create a few interfaces to it.

1. XML -> PDF so you can print out physical cards.
2. XML -> CSV so you can import the data into a word processing program for printing.
3. XML -> HTML interactive quiz based on the data.
4. XML -> RSS so you can subscribe and learn something new every day.