Monday, December 24, 2007

rsync and cygwin on 2003 Server

I encountered the following error when trying to use rsync to copy data from a Linux server to a Windows 2003 Server running Cygwin:

rsync: Failed to exec ssh: No such file or directory (2)
rsync error: error in IPC code (code 14) at /home/lapo/packaging/tmp/rsync-2.6.9
/pipe.c(86) [receiver=2.6.9]
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (0 bytes received so far) [receiver]
rsync error: error in rsync protocol data stream (code 12) at /home/lapo/packagi
ng/tmp/rsync-2.6.9/io.c(453) [receiver=2.6.9]

I did a bit of research into running 2003 server and rsync and getting this error. At first I thought it was a security issues, as 2003 server does start off locked down in a way that 2000 server just didn't do.

The search for a security or firewall related cause of the problem was fruitless. I stumbled across a few posts where people were using the Windows command prompt and got rid of the error when they set the appropriate environment variable to point to the SSH binary.

Sure enough, I tried typing ssh at the Cygwin prompt, and it wasn't in the path.

I'd made the newbie mistake of forgetting to install Openssh.

I installed open ssh and the copy command started working just fine.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Interview From Hell

Ever want to slap someone you were interviewing?

Most of the violence is amusing in a cartoon sort of way, but I did find it a little disturbing that when you pour hot coffee in Kathy's lap, she kind of enjoys it... The fact that she appears to be a pyro isn't very reassuring either.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I-35, the Highway to Righteousness and the "Purity Siege"

Dear God in Heaven, why are so many of your followers such morons?

A few Christian groups have decided that highway I-35, which runs from Canada to Mexico, slicing through the Midwest, is the focus of biblical prophesy, specifically Isaiah 35:8.

The basic idea is that these groups think I-35 is supposed to be a "Highway of Holiness" dedicated to God. To help fulfill this interpretation of prophesy they had a 35 day event where they focused on praying about the highway. They even a series of prayer events they call a "Purity Siege." The idea is to go someplace they see as "sinful" and have a prayer vigil outside,. abortion clinics, gay bars, adult video stores and the like have all been targeted.

Never mind the fact that the verse in question has nothing to do with modern highways.

The 700 Club, of course, thinks this is a keen idea, and has a hilarious if disturbing report on the phenomenon. I highly recommend the section about 2:45 into the video where a young man claims to have been "touched by the power of God" in a way that sounds more like a Dragonball-Z battle than a religious event.

One line that stands out in my mind is: "Sabil felt God moving in him then, saving him and taking away his homosexuality."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Strange Folks at the Office

The Setting:

I work in an office building in the Navy Yard. There are multiple companies sharing the space. Across the hall is a large, fish bowl style conference room used by, I think, a pharmaceutical company.

My office does not have a sink, but I make my own coffee using a travel French Press. This means I head to the floor bathroom whenever I need to empty the grounds. I dump the grounds in the trash (Where the paper towels already there absorb any residual liquid) and then rinse the press out in the sink.

The Event:

I left the office to head to the shared bathroom, opaque plastic French press in hand, just as the conference room across the hall was emptying. A chubby middle aged man gave me an antagonistic look out of the corner of his eye and then cut me off to get into the bathroom door before me, shoving me aside with his shoulder. He then sneered at me when he entered the bathroom. I got the impression of a man who'd peaked on the high school football team and learned all his life skills from the Coach.

I walked in and saw that there was already a queue at the urinal. This was not a problem for me, as I was just there for the sink. Since this was a mens' restroom, and only 40% of men wash their hands after using the restroom, there was no line at the sinks.

I dumped out the grounds and began rinsing the plastic base of the press. That's when one of the men in line for the loo decided I needed a peanut gallery. He turned to the person next to him and said "Most people know how to use a kitchen sink."

I glanced in the mirror and saw that the person next to him was not reacting. The speaker however had a smug look on his face. This was my first look at the Peanut Gallery. He was shorter than me by about four inches, very thin and had a pointed goatee, like a high school student trying to look like an mad scientist. His hair was jet black, slicked to a helmet like sheen. It occurred to me that if I looked like him, I'd be a bitter jackass too.

I began rinsing the filter portion of the press.

"What kind of redneck washes dishes in the toilet?"

I shook the water off the press components and grabbed a paper towel to wipe us some grounds that had gotten on the counter.

"Oh look, the janitor."

I took another paper towel and began drying off the press. He was silent for a moment, but I found myself facing him when I went to leave the restroom. He leaned towards me and said "Ever hear of Starbucks Forest?"

I stopped and looked him in the eye. I cocked an eyebrow and said "Charbucks? You actually drink that garbage?" I turned and walked away, muttering just loud enough to be heard "Can't tell coffee from carbon. Bilge drinker probably calls it EXpresso."

The door closed behind me.

Strange sightings on the T

I normally take the orange and red lines to get home. The last few nights I've taken the green line in order to get to Whuffle's parents' house after work. Last night I saw two sights that I found hilarious.

The Lesbians and the Fundie

I boarded a C line train and found myself standing next to two young college aged women. To say they were being friendly with one another would be an extreme understatement. Since a detailed description would require an "Explicit content" warning I'll just say that it looked more like a scene from a late night movie on Skinemax than what you would expect on the train.

The young and enthusiastic lesbians were not, however, the main attraction.

The main attraction was a young African American woman of about the same age as the lascivious couple. Her hair was pulled into a tight, sever bun. Instead of the grunge inspired attire of the lesbians she wore a conservative dark blue woman's suit. She wore a "Heritage Pride" pin on her coat. Her posture seemed to imply her spine had been replaced with a very straight titanium rod. She looked for all the world like the young version of a church matron, one of those women who could cut a teenager to ribbons with a single look. I'll call her Mable for the sake of reducing pronoun abuse.

I was fortunate to be looking her way the moment she saw the couple. At first she was shocked, a look of disgust and surprise washing over her face. Her nose wrinkled into a comical mask, as if someone has presented a cartoon character with a pound of rotten meat. It was clear that these young woman had offended Mable to the depths of her moral center.

Next her jaw dropped and she cast her eyes about the train, as if seeking an ally in this morally horrific situation. I discretely followed her gaze and saw no signs that anyone else had noticed the couple. Either the couple was largely unnoticed, or everyone was doing a good job of hiding their reactions.

Mable worked her mouth for a few seconds as if she were about to speak, but thought better of it and clamped her jaw shut. She shook her head and gave the couple a look that I suspect she learned from a stalwart and formidable grandmother with bifocals and a tendency towards harsh judgment.

The lesbians remained oblivious to the world around them, including Mable.

Mable began shaking her head, tut-tutting. She would occasionally clear her throat with an "Ahem" that seemed to say "You WILL give me your attention NOW you reprobate."

I was barely restraining my laughter, letting out a few repressed giggles despite my best efforts. The show continued, with Mable going through several comical and entertaining reactions. Withering looks dominated, but I detected a hint of despair creeping in. The couple did not acknowledge Mable. If anything, they intensified the their enthusiasm.

Sadly, I did not get to see the end of the drama, as I needed to change trains. I disembarked and the tableau was lost to my view. I went on, speculating as to why, if Mable was so offended, she didn't simply move to another car or just turn around.

The Pickpocket

I got off the train at Copley, as I needed an E or D train to get where I was going, and the C train I'd been on wasn't going to get me there. While boarding a D line train at Copley I witnessed an attempted pickpocketing.

I boarded the train at the front, where there's a few steps that take you up into the train. I was standing near the door next to a man with a briefcase. A young man in a sweat shirt and jeans pushed past the two of us and made a clumsy and obvious attempt to pick the coat pocket of the man next to me.

The intended victim was tall and solidly build. Visualize the protagonist in "American Psycho" and you get a rough idea of what he looked like. He grabbed the hand that had invaded his coat pocket and pulled it out. The pickpocket was trying to get out the door, pulling with all his might in a comical, cartoonish manner. I saw the victim look down at the pickpocket's hand, which was open and empty. The man then looked out the door and simply let go.

The pick pocket had been pulling with all his might when he was released and as a result he tumbled from the train. The sound he made as he fell resembled a squeak more than a scream. He landed in a crumpled heap on the subway tiles. The doors closed and the train pulled away within seconds of the would-be pickpocket landing.

The victim just looked out the door for a second, taking in what had happened. He blinked for a second and then began to laugh softly to himself.

Friday, December 14, 2007

This is your Captain Calling

I got another automated telemarketer call today. This time it started off with a crackling, pre-recorded fog horn followed by a recording telling me to "Press 1 to take the survey and get your FREE boarding passes." I took the survey, making sure to provide wildly inaccurate information. Once the survey was complete, I was transferred to an operator. I told him that I wanted to be placed on the "Do not call list" at which point he transferred me to another automated system. This one read my phone number to me, and then announced that I would "No longer receive opportunities to--" I hung up at that point, having lost interest in their pathetic attempt to make me feel sorry for wanting to be left the Hell alone.

Here is what Caller ID had to say about them:
12/14/2007 12:29PM
PCS Phone GA

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vandalism of Shocking Insight

This is an insightful bit of vandalism. Every few months you hear about a model dropping dead from malnutrition, anorexia and bulimia are rampant and millions of young women are made to feel insecure and inferior because they have actual curves.

One can't help but wonder why the fashion industry hasn't just started going to famine ravaged nations to find new models. Heaven knows they're thin enough.

Perez Hilton - Spammer and a bad one at that

I have my e-mail for forwarded to my Gmail account. When I opened my e-mail this morning I found two messages from Perez Hilton My familiarity with the name "Perez Hilton" extended to "Wait, isn't that the attention whore Blogger who chose a stage name similar to 'Paris Hilton'?"

The subject line was the next thing that caught my attention. "Here is your personal information we have on file". I was surprised this drek got through the Gmail Spam filter, as it's usually pretty good about purging messages that look like Phising attempts, particularly lame, transparent ones such as this.

I expected Spam, but opened the first e-mail anyway. Sure enough I found a pitch to buy crap, and the text:
You're receiving this message because you may have joined my newsletter If you do not wish to receive these special updates then please edit your email preferences.

I have a few issues with this block of text:

First, I never subscribed to the Perez Hilton newsletter, nor would I. I enjoy well written, well acted and well conceived movies, which means 95% of Hollywood's output holds no interest for me. The occasional Hollywood story that floats to the surface of more than satiates any Hollywood interest I may have.

Second, the block of text contains no actual unsubscribe information, just the vague advice to "edit your email preferences." Legitimate firms generally include clear, concise unsubscribe data at the footer of their newsletters. For example, the newsletter includes a link to the Privacy Policy followed by the text:
About This Email:
You are receiving this email at [Redacted] based on your VersionTracker or MacFixIt email preferences.

To unsubscribe or change your email preferences, visit while logged in or login at and go to My Account > Email Settings

Contact Us:
For further assistance email us at or:
CNET TechTracker, 55 SW Yamhill, 3rd floor, Portland, OR 97204

Notice the difference?

I opened the second e-mail and saw that it was not only a duplicate of the first, but was sent to the exact same address. This is another red flag, as it generally means that their subscription software is faulty, or the "subscribers" really are just harvested e-mail addresses being processed by a Spammer.

I decided to see if Perez actually provides a way to unsubscribe from this garbage, so I directed my web browser at While I found a few "Advertise here" links there was nothing resembling an "unsubscribe." There wasn't even a link or form letting you subscribe. I'd already suspected that this was just Spam spewed at harvested addresses and the lack of any newsletter information on the site only strengthened that belief.

The closest thing to an unsubscribe I found was a vague "Other Technical Problems" link which linked to "support (at)" I was tempted to e-mail this alleged support address, but decided against it. Everything about the site smelled of shady shenanigans and Spam.

I decided to check out and was unsurprised when the only content at their site was a Placeholder page and a link to Upon seeing this I decided to report the Spam to Spamcop. I haven't used the site much since forwarding all my messages through Gmail, but those that escape the Spam filter get sent to Spamcop.

Finally, I did a quick search through Gmail's Spam folder, and found yet a THIRD message identical to the other two, all of them sent within a two hour time span.

Finally, I'd like to present the headers from one of the Spam messages for your amusement. Notice that Google's SPF check failed. is the hosting provider for Notice that the Message-ID ends with and the header claims that the message was sent using Outlook Express. You'd have to be running a pretty piss-poor shop to see Outlook Express as the best option for sending out a large newsletter. My suspicion is that whatever bulk mailer they WERE using just identifies itself as Outlook Express. The other option is that whoever wrote the bulk mail program used by the Spammer honestly can't figure out how to connect to an SMTP server. Writing the messages to an EML file was the best he or she could do.

Delivered-To: [Redacted]
Received: by with SMTP id z18cs428652wfz;
Wed, 12 Dec 2007 03:17:56 -0800 (PST)
Received: by with SMTP id e5mr1208228ang.69.1197458275933;
Wed, 12 Dec 2007 03:17:55 -0800 (PST)
Received-SPF: fail ( domain of does not designate as permitted sender)
Received: by with POP3 id a29mf113399pyi.4;
Wed, 12 Dec 2007 03:17:55 -0800 (PST)
X-Gmail-Fetch-Info: [Redacted]
Delivered-To: [redacted]
Received: (qmail 90583 invoked from network); 12 Dec 2007 11:05:45 -0000
Received: from unknown (HELO (
by - with SMTP; 12 Dec 2007 11:05:45 -0000
Received: from by ; Wed, 12 Dec 2007 12:07:19 +0100
From: "Perez Hilton"
Reply-To: "Perez Hilton"
To: [Redacted]
Subject: Here is your personal information we have on file.
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2007 15:07:19 +0400
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2600.0000
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Annoying Ads - Stella Artois

I photographed this ad at one of the Boston Red line stations in early December.

Stella Artois is a decent Belgian lager. My complaint, the thing I find annoying about the ad, is that it's so boring and mundane when compared to some of the European ads below. American advertising is largely monotonous and dull. The same tired old themes are recycled again and again with little variation or creatively. Advertisers are frustrated by technology that lets people bypass advertisements, yet put their efforts into lawsuits against "Commercial skip" technology instead of just making ads people would find entertaining.

It's as if they dumbed down their ads for the United States of America. Oh, wait, Bud Light is the top selling beer in the country. Most Americans wouldn't know a good beer if we drowned in it.

Yes, you can argue that I'm comparing video advertisements to a small billboard, but the fact remains that the billboard lacks any creativity beyond the page design. Yes, the ad is executed well. The text is well placed and readable, the image of the product is attractive, but it's no different than any other similar beer advertisement. The bottom line is, Stella Artois can do better.

Annoying Ads - Sprint

Tis the Season of conspicuous consumption. When I look around at the commercial nature of
the Christmas Season, I find myself understanding why the Puritans refused to celebrate the holiday. While largely moderate in my views and beliefs, the "Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie" nature of the average American's "Christmas Celebration" can still be downright painful.

Knowing full well that the average rants on this subject are boring, I thought I'd be more specific in my criticisms. Specifically, I'm going to post a series of advertisements and explain why these particular ads annoy me. Who knows, if I get a good response this might become a year round shtick.

First, I present an ad from Sprint.

Boston T commuters will recognize the artwork as it's been infesting Boston Train stations since late November. The photo was taken with my cell phone, so the resolution is rather fuzzy. Fortunately, the readable text is also the only part that really annoys me.

This version of the ad, and there are several, has the text "For the Person who wants everything, but still wants more."

It'd be hard to create a better example of WHY the current state of the Christmas season is so annoying. The ad starts off appealing not just to greed, but to excess. "Having everything isn't good enough for you, ya greedy bastard" it seems to say. In the wealthiest nation on the planet, having more than 90% of the rest of the world's population isn't good enough. You've just GOT to have this gadget.

And what does this gadget do? Why it's a portable chunk of hardware that can make cell phone calls, check e-mail and even brows the Internet, all without wires. Oh, and it's an MP3 player. The really sad thing is this device, and hardware similar to it, is seen as essential to many people. We're so out of touch with reality, with the rest of the world, that a gadget that was a sci-fi fantasy just ten years ago is a vital device. Kids need it to one-up other kids and executives insist upon similar gadgets so they have yet another expensive anatomical compensator to show off.

Avoid Accidents

I took this photo near work. It's a WWII era sign that's on one of the buildings.

I find it amusing and thought I'd share.