Archive for July, 2009

AT&T Blocks 4chan?

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

It appears that AT&T has blocked a subset of sites that hang off of 4chan.org. As of 11:15PST, the block was lifted.

AT&T has released a statement:

Beginning Friday, an AT&T customer was impacted by a denial-of-service attack stemming from IP addresses connected to img.4chan.org. To prevent this attack from disrupting service for the impacted AT&T customer, and to prevent the attack from spreading to impact our other customers, AT&T temporarily blocked access to the IP addresses in question for our customers. This action was in no way related to the content at img.4chan.org; our focus was on protecting our customers from malicious traffic.

Overnight Sunday, after we determined the denial-of-service threat no longer existed, AT&T removed the block on the IP addresses in question. We will continue to monitor for denial-of-service activity and any malicious traffic to protect our customers.

OK — so AT&T was acting to protect quality of service to customers that may have been impacted by a DDoS attack. Fair enough, though I question the means a bit (and admit fully that I have been too long out of the ISP business to claim these questions are anything but me being ignorant).

Was img.4chan.org hacked and, thus, AT&T walled it off because it was the source of the DDoS attack? Not sure how the “distributed” part comes in to play when an attack is sourced from a relatively small set of machines (I’m assuming img.4chan.org is more than one machine).

The initial report on the nanog list implies that the 4chan server was the source of the attacks and, thus, blocking ensued. Sounds like the server was hacked. Or spoofed?

Bottom line, though, is why the heck did it take AT&T so long to actually issue a statement somewhere useful?

I’m still in the market for a new ISP, just not quite as proactively.

Thus, I’ll continue to keep this post updated with suggested ISPs that folks submit. Feel free to add one in the comments. If you do, I’ll add the link/info to the article and likely delete the comment.

(To be precise, I don’t care about my ability to reach 4chan. I do care very much about network neutrality. I remember the last time the big providers went against net neutrality in the early 90s. It sucked.)


The suggestions, in no particular order:

Raw Bandwidth Communications, Inc.
No fussiness.
Speakeasy
No stupid policies of what you can/cannot do (within reason). I have heard good things about Speakeasy, too.
Sonic.net
Lots of raves for sonic.net. Shell access, no problems, good customer support, etc…
Verizon’s FIOS
Heard several good things about FIOS. Unfortunately, not available here (but keeping it in the “suggestions” because the reviews are good, where available).

The rejection(s). Companies that do stupid things to traffic.

Comcast
Comcast screws with BitTorrent traffic. I use BT for a variety of quite legitimate reasons, including for my day job. Doesn’t matter how easy it is to workaround, such a policy is a non-starter for me. Also, Comcast’s rates make it slightly cheaper to buy internet w/cable service. I don’t want cable TV in the house.

Make: Persimmon Wine Finished!

Sunday, July 26th, 2009
Persimmon Wine

Way back in February, I racked the persimmon wine between the various glass carboys to get it off the yeast poo (lees).

At the time, the two carboys showed 11.5% and 12.5% ABV. Not bad. But it didn’t taste very good in early March/April; way too bitter and *bleh*.

So, I let it sit until last week. The flavors have mellowed and, chilled, it is quite a drinkable beverage.

At about 12% ABV, it is obviously a dry wine. There simply isn’t any sugar left!

The sweet essence of persimmon is both present in the nose and in the flavor. And the characteristic astringency of persimmon carries through, too, giving the wine a slight “pucker” at the end.

I bottled a bunch of it in 750ml tequila bottles that I have lying around. However, I also mostly filled a couple of 2 liter soda bottles, chilled the wine to near freezing and then force carbonating.

It makes for a delicious wine cooler. Very drinkable and, at that level of ABV, it tends to sneak up on you!

Given the ease of making wine — much easier & less involved than beer — anyone with an overabundance of fruit (or veggies, even — I have a recipe for a tomato wine that sounds pretty good. Onions, too, even) should give it a try.

All you really need is a plastic bucket (primary fermenter), a glass carboy (secondary fermenter), some tubing, an air lock, fruit, sugar, yeast, and something to sterilize everything (I use sodium metabisulfite and/or an iodine solution — both very cheap). The glass carboy is the most expensive component and three gallon carboys can be had for less than $30.

(Again, for those in the South Bay, the folks at Fermentation Solutions have everything you need and are extremely helpful.)

Update: I have taken to bottling the persimmon wine into 2 liter plastic soda bottles. To these, I add about 3 tablespoons of cane sugar and then use my forced carbonation rig to lightly carbonate the wine. Very refreshing served chilled.

Forced Carbonation

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Update: Since posting this, a number of friends in the bay area have asked me about this rig and where to obtain the parts. You can buy all the bits and pieces separately if you want, but for not much more money you can just get a kit that has all the parts + a cornelious keg.

I picked up the full tank, gauges, regulator, hosing, clamps, 5 gallon cornelious keg, and dispensing spigot for about $250 from Fermentation Solutions in Campbell. Again — great store, very supportive, nice people, know their stuff.

For CO2 refills, I’m going to Carbonic Services. Refilling the 5# tank will cost me $12. They sell tanks, many different gas mixtures (need nitrogen? no problem), syrups, etc.. You can also get your tank refilled at many welding supply houses, but “food grade” and “welding” are not generally compatible.

For “the carbonator” cap, you can mail order it from any of a number of places. Do a google search. I have found that shipping can be a killer when ordering brew stuff. Find someone relatively local.

For folks in the South Bay area, Seven Bridges Cooperative has The Carbonator, along with a pretty awesome selection of really high quality brewing ingredients and, even, coffee beans.


Carbonate-it-yourself Setup (With Lemonade To Be Bubbled)

I love carbonated beverages, as long as they don’t have a ton of sugar (including the various sugar substitutes). I find the scrubby bubbles are a bit of a flavor enhancer as well as adding a bunch of texture.

But, damn, it is an expensive habit! And painful to drag all those bottles of carbonated water home. Worse, any kind of fizzed flavored water is 3x more expensive or more. Ever price out those yummy “italian flavored bubbly water” drinks? Ridiculous.

Problem now solved, though.

I picked up a kegerator kit from our local homebrew store (Fermentation Solutions on Winchester — right next to Luigi’s extremely yummy italian restaurant).

The kegerator kit includes everything you need to, generally, produce, and/or carbonate, and then serve, about 5 gallons of beer (or other beverage).

However, you need one more piece of the puzzle. That blue piece at the lower right is “The Carbonator“. It is a bit of patented plastic that screws on to your everyday average 1 to 3 liter soda bottle and has a connection for the standard ball lock connection on the other end. Expect to pay about $14 for one. Get three to five while you are at it.

You can make it yourself out of a tire fill valve (search Google). I chose not too as “tire” and “food grade” are not remotely related.

Once you have your basic setup, it is time to carbonate some beverages!



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William Orbit: A Tale of Two Albums

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
William Orbit - My Oracle Lives Uptown.jpg
William Orbit - Strange Cargo III.jpg

Wwwaaayyy back in 1993 an album came out that set me on a path of deep exploration of all things Electronica, borderline “dance”, and trance/ambient. Of course, back then, it wasn’t called that. It was just called “rave/dance” or “electronic” in most record stores.

That album was William Orbit’s Strange Cargo III.

It was a pivotal album in my music collection. Combining a depth & precision in production that any geek would be awed by with sometimes poignant and often beautifully ethereal lyrics all on top of brilliant compositions yielded an album of auditory bliss.

For many years, Strange Cargo III was the album I played for anyone claiming that bleep blorp compositions weren’t really music. And they walked away proven wrong, generally off to pick up a copy.

madonna-ray-of-light-cover-design.jpg

An aside; you might be wondering why Madonna’s Ray of Light appears at left. To many, Ray Of Light was a total surprise. It exhibited a depth of composition and lushness of sound that was unprecedented either in Madonna’s catalog or in major pop releases, in general.

One listen to Strange Cargo III and the connection is unmistakable; Ray of Light is a William Orbit album with Madonna authoring lyrics and performing vocals!

This is important because a relatively small percentage of avid music fans have heard the name William Orbit, and yet his work is pervasive and unmistakable, once you know the sound. Signature singles & mixes from Depeche Mode, Erasure, U2, Beth Orton, and many others were produced by Orbit. As evidenced by his discography, William Orbit’s impact on popular music has been huge!

16 years after SCIII, Orbit has released My Oracle Lives Uptown.

And this is where this particular “review” goes sideways.





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