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Wed, 14 Dec 2005:

People do all kinds of stupid things. I generally don't care what half the world is doing because frankly - I don't give a damn. They are welcome to dig their way to hell with whatever they happen to be hooked on to. Apathy comes naturally. But I do not ignore the mistakes others make - I observe and I learn. In general, it is their life and I am just an uninterested observer. I don't meddle with theirs and I don't stand meddling in mine.

Once in a while, I run into a case where despite my regular policy, I decide to meddle. I don't meddle unless I think I can make a difference. I don't go running behind people yelling out advice. I usually do something which would make them think. What they decide, I leave to them - because once they start thinking, I can stop. There are very good and noble intentions. But the road to hell is paved with better ones. The effect of meddling in someone else's life, in effect gets your life meddled with.

Then turn selfishness into a weapon! Make all things yours! 
Make other lives and dreams and hopes yours! Protect them! 
Save them! Bring them into the sheepfold! Walk the gale for them!
Keep away the wolf!
                  -- Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

I hate to see potential wasted. Even worse, I hate to see potential being abused. The worst is when I see someone destroying their own potential. I have seen a socially brilliant - which needs both people skills and a quick mind - person degrade into a drunkard with no degree. I didn't care back then - I knew I couldn't make a difference. There was no point in trying.

But these days, I know I can make a difference. I can make others see my point. But I don't go running behind everyone I meet. I pick my fights - to win.

I don't pick on people I don't like. I am not built for cruelty. To pick on someone for my entertainment is not something that agrees with my basic philosophy of life. I do not hurt anyone in vain and when I do hurt, I try not to leave lasting wounds, if any. Believe me, it hurts more to hurt someone you care about than you might imagine. Especially because they are a lot more likely to hurt you back and retaliation is not something you are capable with them. That is the price you pay for meddling - pain and more pain.

If I can push someone the right way - I suppose that alone is worth all that. Nobody will ever appreciate my kindness with the scalpel. It is a delicate thing - the mental surgery - if it works right, they will never imagine I had anything to do with it. Unless you fail, nobody knows - but then, everybody does.

It is a thankless job. But I'm hiring ...

Either I'm going to kill her or I'm beginning to like her.
(Han Solo about Princess Leia)

posted at: 20:46 | path: /me | permalink | Tags:

I've been poking around with the new savannah CVS servers. I found some very interesting and un-documented features in there (update: I found some non-documentation here, eventhough they have blocked off read access on hacking_savannah/) . Things which I'd have loved if I was working in a restricted office network like my old employer had.

[gopalv ~/hacks]$ nc cvs.savannah.gnu.org 443
SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_3.8.1p1 Debian-8.sarge.4

They run an SSH 2.0 server on 443, which they couldn't do with just savannah.gnu.org because they had an https://savannah.gnu.org. With the different hostname/ip, they can do this. And it is really cool if you're behind a firewall which lets out only 80 and 443 ports. Now let's take this up another level, shall we ?

Back when I was in *cough* *cough* college, the network was a strictly firewalled, proxy based setup with two squids on the way out linked with ICP. Even DNS resolution was disabled and all outward access had to go through the proxy. Now introducing RFC 2616, Section 9.9 - HTTP CONNECT - the star of our show today.

[gopalv ~/proxy_tunnel]$  nc proxyhost 3128
CONNECT cvs.savannah.gnu.org:443 HTTP/1.1

HTTP/1.0 200 Connection established

SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_3.8.1p1 Debian-8.sarge.4
^C punt!

With this simple method, you could tunnel out through a proxy and pull stuff from other servers. In this distant past, Savannah actually ran a pserver on 443 to cater to people like me.

There are various ways to do automate the tunnels to this. The way I picked was to write a python script to do the hard work and talk sockets with it. You can pull the python script from here . Here's how you use the script in real life.

Add the following lines to the respective files:

/etc/hosts:       localhost.localdomain localhost sshtunnel
host sshtunnel
    port 2200

[gopalv ~/proxy_tunnel] python tunnel.py >& err &

[gopalv ~/proxy_tunnel] ssh -v <savannah_user>@sshtunnel
debug1: expecting SSH2_MSG_KEX_DH_GEX_REPLY
The authenticity of host 'sshtunnel (' can't be established.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
debug1: Entering interactive session.
Last login: Wed Dec 14 11:42:24 2005 from ....

For the final step - of checking out Savannah CVS using this ssh tunnel. If you are a developer, you can also check-in using this script (just remember that this script is a single-run only).

[gopalv test]$ cvs -z3 -d:ext:t3rmin4t0r@sshtunnel:/cvsroot/dotgnu-pnet \
               co CVSROOT 
cvs checkout: Updating CVSROOT

We have beaten the tyranny of the proxied and firewalled world of the office network. The pytunnel can be modified to accept multiple connections and do a proper asyncore listener grouping. I am too lazy to do all that. Besides there are good tools like corkscrew or ssh-connect which do the job required, with much less hassles.

Doing my own thing, is a perpetual weakness I have to live with. The code you just saw was hacked up in December 2003 ;)

There is no security on this earth. There is only opportunity.
       -- General Douglas MacArthur

posted at: 17:45 | path: /hacks | permalink | Tags:

You can never go back. You have left a precious part of your childhood when you left Home. The innocence of childhood is something you'll never regain. There was a time when you had no eyes for the bad. Age puts filters on your eyes, ears and of course one for your mind. Here's a selectively blind view of my cochin for the ones who have never been there. This is what I travel to see - my world.

Cochin harbour, Sunday evening

I am not a very religious person, but I did my rounds of the temples. I usually go to a temple for the noise and sometimes for the lack there of. I come from a family of Marars who lived in and around temples, playing music. Music, especially percussion, runs in my blood. Why I don't play now is a long and sad story by itself. But the point is that, I love elephants and thayambaka. Sadly, photography is prohibited in temples and I just got this small clip before I ran away.

Art is Nature speeded up and God slowed down.
               -- Chazal

posted at: 15:45 | path: /travels | permalink | Tags: