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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

How much time does it take to secure a linux system?

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4 hours, yeah.. 4 fucking hours, especially if you are a newbie to the whole “networking” -iptables, ipchains thingamajiks…

I am trying to setup a small python based annotation engine and I am planning to let it into the wild on the internet (the horror!!) and as any normal chump who’s seeing the whole “web is the way to go for apps” mentality everywhere, I setup my application server behind apache using mod_proxy and let it run for sometime. And sometime in the fast moving internet space is 3 days, and on the third day.. I check my logs and I see lots and lots random people from all over the world trying to hack my damn server. Well this story is not about them.

So I decide to setup iptables – thats a pretty darn good idea, you might say.. except for one thing.. I don’t know anything about iptables. So, after browsing for almost an hour on tutorials, howtos, message boards, google groups..(has anyone noticed the search in google groups sucks?) I still couldn’t get anywhere.

Every tutorial out there seems to want to teach me what a TCP packet is or what link layer protocols are or the history of the whole IPTables filtering. Many would say thats great, you learn from the basics, you get your concepts straight. And to them I say “F*#$ you”. I just want to secure my damn server, not take the RHCE. And finally after three more hours of digging and reading the various “subtleties” of the IP protocol, I finally maanged to figure out what to do to secure my server.

Write 2 lines. Yeah, just 2 lines – the result for spending 4 fucking hours is not enlightenment, just getting to write two lines. For those who are using mod_proxy and don’t have linux networking guru to service you at your every beck and call, here are those two lines :

/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp -s “your-hostname/ip/trusted subnet” -dpt:”application server port” -j ACCEPT
/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp -dpt:”application server port” -j DROP

Where “your-hostname/ip/trusted subnet” should usually refer to the machine on which apache is running, In my case, the same machine. The “application server port” is the port on which CherryPy listens, by default i think its 8080. If you have multiple instances of CherryPy running, you would need to add similar rules for each instance (note : add the ACCEPT rules first, before you do the DROP rules).

Signing off,
Vishnu Vyas

Written by vishnuvyas

April 13, 2008 at 12:43 am

The Worst Kind.

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Warning – Hysterical Rant coming up.

I am very much human and being human, I am not immune from common afflictions of human beings. One of them, being hate. I hate many types of people. I hate a lot of people for their crazy views. I hate some people for what they openly profess. I hate others because they hate me, the feeling is mutual. Then I hate some people simply because I find their stupidity irritating. But I always value reason above my hate. I usually let reason win. But sometimes I simply can’t, because there is one more type.

The types of whom I hate so intensely, that my fingers tremble as I type about them. They disgust me utterly. They are total morons. Fucked up lazy bastards who sole purpose in existence is fucking up lives, theirs and in the process others. These are the morons who are the enthusiastic bozos who make promises, take up ideas and sometimes lots of energy and time of the others. And in return they come up empty handed. Once, twice, why even thrice can be excused citing circumstances beyond control. But every-time? That’s simply inexcusable.

People who take up responsibility upon themselves in all enthusiasm and refuse, in-spite of knowing fully well what might occur, to go the whole fucking nine yards. Their half baked attempts at every fucking thing, wasting the efforts and time of others. Their enthusiasm, true or falsely professed does not matter. Their promises empty. The people who give up when if you could just wait a bit more, if you could have spent a little more, if you could have fucking understood what you got into in the first place. These are the bastards that I hate – intensely, those who don’t fucking understand what they are getting into and end up hurting others and in certain cases, costing a life. The worst kind.

Signing Off,
Vishnu Vyas.

Written by vishnuvyas

September 30, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Posted in Rants

Lord Muruga lashes out at the Pope.

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Lord Muruga after being hounded by feminists groups for openly practicing bigamy, has now taken refuge in the city of Amsterdam after the Priyanka Rahul Gandhi brigade had burnt his effigy and promised violence for ‘misusing the national bird’ by trying to mount it.

In a controversial interview to AP, he criticized the Pope for being partial and lashed out at him for not giving all religions equal footing and totally forgetting to mention him in his speech, in spite of the status of God, given to him by many followers. He accused the decadent west of being morally bankrupt and have given into the evils of atheism and secular humanism and not acknowledging him for what he is – A God. He also lashed out at his followers of being impassive and not forthright as other Muslims in expressing their anger of the insult that the pope had accorded to him by not insulting him. He said “Its deplorable that Hindu India hasn’t woken up to its true potential and the Pope was clearly practicing minority appeasement”. He however has spoken favorably of the government decision to spend money on people who have married people from lower caste SC/ST. He said that “Yes, I applaud the government for implementing such measures and giving money to the cause of inter caste marriages.. I have already put in my claim” .

He also told that the tried and tested principle of the free-market is compatible with core Hindu values and said “the evils of the society are due to socialization and nationalization, especially of the six houses that used to belong to me in Tamil Nadu”. On asked about his future plans he said that he is in touch with the Sangh Parivar to launch a party based on core hindutva principles of capitalism, nationalism, inter-caste marriages and liberation of India and his houses from a psuedo-secular minority appeasing government. He said that all his intentions had the best national interest at heart and should not be painted the communal color.

Signing Off,
Vishnu Vyas.

Written by vishnuvyas

September 21, 2006 at 4:15 am

Cola Wars and The Loony Lefties.

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The recent report by CSE on colas having excessive amounts of pesticides and other possibily harmful substances has had a wide and varied response. From several states banning the colas in schools and colleges to government of kerala banning it completely in the state. The irony being, the communists are those who gave the permission to setup the plant in the first place are now the loudest voices calling for the ban!

What’s more weird is that, CSE openly admits that everyday food items like vegetables and milk has even more pesticides than colas. They even have a technical word for it, “nutrition-poison” trade-off. The weird thing is, if you can trade off nutrition to poison (which is crazy in its own right), then why can’t you trade off anything else for poison? Getting high-poison trade off in the case of smoking and liquor.

The loony lefties have outdone themselves again by being too clever by half. The commies who banned colas becuase of the alleged poison-nutrition trade off have kept “BEVCO” a government owned liquor distribution company open. For those who seem to champion the causes of the people, the sure are sending the wrong messages.

So for all those budding politicians here is a tip on making national policy, listen carefuly to what the left is saying and do exactly the opposite.

Signing off (disgusted and bitter at the government and loony lefties),
Vishnu Vyas.

Written by vishnuvyas

August 11, 2006 at 11:21 am

That Evil Little Red Guy.

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Writing a virtual machine is serious fun. But one thing that you probably shouldn't be doing is designing the virtual machine and the compiler at the same time. You ask why? Well, there is a very good reason why. If its a single person who is doing both the development (coding) and the design of a virtual machine, then that part of your brain which lets you write code (the same part that also lets you sit through CAT) is working along with the part that you are probably using when you are doing much more creative stuff, say, like writing blogs.

Now, whats the problem with more of your brain working at the same time? Well, ask any schizophernic and he will tell you. The reason that you shouldn't do both at the same time is because, when you are designing a virtual machine you are letting your creative side flow, and when its a compiler, its not as much a problem of design as it is a problem of assembly. And doing both requires exteremely different types of mind-sets.

When you are designing a compiler, its like you are building something out of lego-blocks. You have to nitpick it to perfection. Every component has to talk to ever other component properly. That means your interfaces and your data-structures that move from one component to the other must be clearly defined. It is in short a process of pain and paitence. But if you are out to write a compiler, don't fret, because the rewards are surely great. Write one compiler, and you will master almost all programming languages that are out there. When you see the syntax trees flowing, the scopes unfolding, and the recursion proceeding in a cyclic loop generating code, you will attain nirvana. Trust me on that.

And, now about that virtual machine. This is more like solving a challenging math problem. Its not as if you are writing a proof for publication, but just like solving a problem for fun. Its more of a creative endeavour. You have a billion options in design, each one with its own pros and cons. Each design decision affecting the way certain language constructs must be generated. This is not only serious creative thinking, but exteremly worthwhile exercise in critical thinking as well. And this spell should never be interrupted by the part of the brain that actually is incharge of the compiler. When both are working together, you get each part involved in a time-wasting dogfight and sometimes you may even be seen arguing with yourself, raising doubts about your sanity in the minds of others. And those are just the minor irritations.

The major ones, come up when the compiler brain comes to your vm brain and starts arguing about who should handle internal name-resolution or the fact that lexical scopes are handled by renaming rather than having a true runtime sphagetti stack. Or, since the vm tries to be elegeant and minimal, then you can't even have RTTI thats better than C++ inspite of the compiler actually compiling some breed of dynamically typed language. Its like in the movies, when there is an angel to your right and a crazy guy in a red drape on your left with a trident poking you.

The greatest mistake you could do while designing a virtual machine would be to let that evil little red guy win! So, if you are ever writing a virtual machine, don't let that evil little red guy win.

Signing Off
Vishnu Vyas

Written by vishnuvyas

April 15, 2006 at 3:32 pm

Musings on Indian Economic Growth

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The phenomenal growth that has occurred in the last few years in India can be attributed to two major factors. One the outsourcing boom in India, which brings in a tremendous amount of foreign exchange to our country. And secondly the improved investor confidence in the stock market which has also led to FII investing in the Indian stock market. But looking a bit behind the second reason, the new economy which is primarily dependent on the outsourcing boom, is the reason why there is improved investor confidence. There is higher spending power, and the new day knowledge worker is more cognizant of other forms of investments like stocks and mutual funds.

Though, all this is a reason to rejoice and revel in the prosperity that our new economy has bought us, we must for a moment pause and think about whether is it really sustainable? And is it as good as it seems? As I see it, the answer sadly is no. Unfortunately "India shining" applies only to a small section of the Indian social diaspora. Which is mostly dependent on the powerful outsourcing boom. Bluntly put, the new Indian middle class, is fundamentally not dependent on Indian markets for its lively hood.

This is such a skewed situation. With a more than 16% of world population residing in India, Indian markets are huge. Mind bogglingly so, yet they are mostly untapped. Purchasing power for major parts of the society has not improved in spite of the considerable increase in the outsourcing boom (because, mostly they are not correlated). The Indian consumer still is less powerful than an average western consumer that most of the outsourcing boom caters too. Our local markets are weaker and hence does not have enough power to drive capital asset appreciation. The new information economy is dependent on a weak rupee to be profitable. The local market has been neglected by the government at the cost of promoting the "new economy". We haven't made more Indians richer, we have just made a few Indians more richer.

So, what's wrong with that you may ask? Well, sustaining the new economy means keeping the rupee weak, and decreasing the purchasing power for a majority of the Indians. This means, our markets (not the stock market) but local Indian markets are weaker than local western markets and hence keeping a lot of Indians poor. In the worst case it might lead to violent revolutions and sometimes duct-tape solutions which are promoted with revolution like whats happening with the people's war group in many parts of the country. And keeping a majority of Indians poor for the benifit of making a few indians richer is never a good idea.

Signing Off,
Vishnu Vyas

Written by vishnuvyas

March 30, 2006 at 7:06 pm

The CAT and my 1000 Rupee joke.

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Yesterday was the D-Day for a considerable section of the Indian student population. It was the day of an insanely useless exam which decides whether you get a chance to enter into the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) or not. When I say for a considerable section of the ‘Indian student population’, I am actively excluding myself from that. In spite of actually writing the exam I fall under the category of those who did it because they don’t have anything better to do on a fine Sunday morning. In an exam driven student society, writing exams doesn’t seem too weird or difficult to me. But what does seem weird to me are my reasons for writing this exam. In fact, the only reason I even wrote this exam was ‘to please my parents’. For all those of us who quote that reason and talk as if they are pouring out love for their ‘birth-givers’, we all know deep inside that its just to stop the inescapable nagging afterwards. I have never been moved by love before, and I won’t ever be.

And about how I did the exam. The exam itself was pretty enjoyable and I found the paper pretty easy. I might even say that I could get an ‘IIM’ call or something. The sad thing being that if I do get a call, I deny the opportunity for a worthwhile or a deluded student from even having that chance. Seems like a dog in the manger (manger even sounds very similar to manager!). I hate myself when I do that. I liked the reading comprehensions, especially for the standards of CAT they were actually pretty enjoyable and well written. Or maybe they were all about topics I was interested in, things like linguistics, effects of globalisation, etc…. But for the 2 hours of entertainment I got, I would have preferred satyam. its cheaper and has comfortable chairs. But the whole reason I am against the current exam system, is because I don’t particularly approve of the idea of a direct UG to IIM. And No!, working for two years in INFOSYS/TCS doesn’t count as real work experience.

In fact, as I am aspiring to start my own company I would also have to know what management is all about. And from what I can see, the best management education should be about learning what not to do rather than what to do. Lets start with the persistent butt of my jokes – Microsoft. No, I am not saying they are a bad company. The “Microsoft is Evil? camp is hogwash. They are a company and they do what they need to do. Apart from the monopolistic practices that is. But in true free markets monopolies have very low sustainability anyway. They make some very good products, MS-Word for example. And I would probably put their compilers and Dev-tools in that camp too (and no, windows doesn’t come in this list). But they seem to have a hard time catching up to Google. Hmm, the reason I believe is the infestation of MBA types. When I say the MBA types its not just those run of the mill , I’m from IIM types, but also those who think they come from that category. And the rot, starts from the top. Losing out employees to google, getting MS bad PR with ‘the chair incident’? That doesn’t seem too smart. So what were they thinking, any PR is good PR? Consider this for a moment,

Adam : ‘Hey! Eve, did you hear about Steve B throwing the chair because someone left for google?’
Eve : Yeah, its all over slashdot! MS can’t even treat their own employees with respect. <turning her nose with disgust>
Adam : That just reminds me I have to order 3000 copies of Windows Vista.

Not happening guys! In all probability,Eve will dump Adam and start sleeping with the snake. See thats one thing not to do. Don’t fuck with your reputation. There are a lot of ‘not to do’ things which never seem to get taught anywhere. This is not to say good managers are unimportant, just that IIM types don’t fit well within software product companies. IIM’s might work for big banks, infy and tcs because all they seem to do is work on corporate consulting. I don’t think you have a fickle market with your competitors going for your throat there.

Secondly talking about Infosys and TCS and the fact that every politician is beating their breasts about India being the next IT super power is going to be one of the worst mistakes that India is ever going to make. Its appalling that our politicians balk in the glory of unsustainable growth. Infosys and TCS bring good money into the country, but unfortunately all this good money is being disproportionately fed back into the same companies in some way or the other. Things like building subsidized software parks and crap. Part of it is my fucking tax money too, and I would like to see some real development. How about roads? How about giving these ’sops’ to the textile industries. How about creating basic infrastructure. People who decry the globalisation might think this is all the effect of it. But no, its the effect of a seriously misguided polity trying to (mis?)manage an economy on the brink of change. And even if there seem to be sane voices around they aren’t loud enough. There are times when I wonder whether its better having an ‘insane’ left, rather than a misguided right. but I mentally kick myself into sanity in a while. No politician wants to be the guy who killed the ‘IT Boom’, even though it will eventually squash itself to death under its own weight unless companies like infosys seriously start diversifying and restructuring. Simply put, they don’t seem to have the balls to do what it takes. Unless politicians start growing those or we get ones with real balls, India’s IT Superpower dreams are will only remain as dreams.

Signing Off,
Vishnu Vyas.

Written by vishnuvyas

November 21, 2005 at 4:30 am