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12/21/2015 Monday

Apologies, it's been a crazy end of year, both with work, and other commitments. Spent the afternoon shopping with my son, which despite our mutual dislike for shopping, is always a pleasure. Slight little tech note. Pingdom just announced that they are removing features from their free plan. This is almost certainly a direct result of the acquisition of their parent company SolarWinds, by Silver Lake investment partners. This maters to me, because we use pingdom to monitor our monitoring servers, which run Nagios. Even though I could get the new pingdom plan, which gave me what I was getting for free, for only $15/month, I was annoyed, and woke up early, to find an alternative.

Needless to say their aren't any free alternatives that I could find that provide 1 minute granularity, and SSL/TLS healthchecks that can do negative content verification. Thtat left me with rolling our own. So, I spun up an EC2 t2.nano, which can be had for about $5 a month, and installed icinga 2.4, on an Ubuntu 14.04 instance. It took (or should have taken) about an hour. I have to say I'm really impressed with Icinga 2 as a replacement for Nagios, and think I may have to come up with a plan to start replacing Nagios servers with Icinga 2. (The only real catch is that our nagios servers are built in a completely automated fashion, via puppet, and much of that work won't transfer over.)

11/03/2015 Tuesday

I started a diet on March 3rd and have lost over 30 pounds. It's called the keto (ketogenic) diet, and is basically a super-strict low carbohydrate diet that keeps your body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body's cells get their energy from fat rather than carbs. To achieve this state, one must basically starve your body of carbs, until all the glocuse reserves are depleted from your muscles, and liver. This takes about three days. The diet is amazing, email me if you'd like me to post more info on this diet.

10/15/2015 Thursday

Today, Oct 15th, is tax in the US. Well, to be more precise, it's tax day if you didn't file your taxes in April, and instead filed an extension. Sadly only one extension is granted. I have one thing to say about that. "Better late than never."

9/26/2015 Saturday

I just pulled this site out of a 10+ year mothballing. It's very dated, and has many broken links. At first it was hard to believe that it's been 14 years since I've last updated the site, but an insanely huge amount of stuff has happened since then, to the point that it seems like I was a different person back then.

Although I do use some forms of Social Media these days, it's largely "serious stuff". On Twitter and Google+ I try to share information that I feel is either useful or important.

Here, I'm going to try to be less serious, more opinionated and perhaps, if I can let my guard down, a bit more personal. I'm going back to old school, hand-edited HTML, until such time as that doesn't work, or I get frustrated.

For tonight I'll leave you with a television recommendation. Season 1 of Mr Robot. It's a weirdly entertaining show about a young hacker named Elliot. Watch a couple episodes.

10/8/2001 Monday

I have just discovered a letter written by Dr. Tony Kern (Lt Col, USAF (Ret). Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy) that I think brings a great clarity to the upcoming battle. It is worth reading:

The Unspoken Resolve

Like everyone else in this great country, I am reeling from last week's attack on our sovereignty. But unlike some, I am not reeling from surprise.

As a career soldier and a student and teacher of military history, I have a different perspective and I think you should hear it. This war will be won or lost by the American citizens, not diplomats, politicians or soldiers. Let me briefly explain.

In spite of what the media, and even our own government is telling us, this act was not committed by a group of mentally deranged fanatics. To dismiss them as such would be among the gravest of mistakes. This attack was committed by a ferocious, intelligent and dedicated adversary.

Don't take this the wrong way. I don't admire these men and I deplore their tactics, but I respect their capabilities. The many parallels that have been made with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are apropos. Not only because it was a brilliant sneak attack against a complacent America, but also because we may well be pulling our new adversaries out of caves 30 years after we think this war is over, just like my father's generation had to do with the formidable Japanese in the years following WW II.

These men hate the United States with all of their being, and we must not underestimate the power of their moral commitment. Napoleon, perhaps the world's greatest combination of soldier and statesman, stated "the moral is to the physical as three is to one." Patton thought the Frenchman underestimated its importance and said moral conviction was five times more important in battle than physical strength. Our enemies are willing – better said anxious - to give their lives for their cause. How committed are we America? And for how long?

In addition to demonstrating great moral conviction, the recent attack demonstrated a mastery of some of the basic fundamentals of warfare taught to most military officers worldwide, namely simplicity, security and surprise. When I first heard rumors that some of these men may have been trained at our own Air War College, it made perfect sense to me. This was not a random act of violence, and we can expect the same sort of military competence to be displayed in the battle to come.

This war will escalate, with a good portion of it happening right here in the good ol' U.S. of A. These men will not go easily into the night. They do not fear us. We must not fear them.

In spite of our overwhelming conventional strength as the world's only "superpower" (a truly silly term), we are the underdog in this fight. As you listen to the carefully scripted rhetoric designed to prepare us for the march for war, please realize that America is not equipped or seriously trained for the battle ahead. To be certain, our soldiers are much better than the enemy, and we have some excellent "counter-terrorist" organizations, but they are mostly trained for hostage rescues, airfield seizures, or the occasional "body snatch," (which may come in handy). We will be fighting a war of annihilation, because if their early efforts are any indication, our enemy is ready and willing to die to the last man.

Eradicating the enemy will be costly and time consuming. They have already deployed their forces in as many as 20 countries, and are likely living the lives of everyday citizens. Simply put, our soldiers will be tasked with a search and destroy mission on multiple foreign landscapes, and the public must be patient and supportive until the strategy and tactics can be worked out.

For the most part, our military is still in the process of redefining itself and presided over by men and women who grew up with - and were promoted because they excelled in - Cold War doctrine, strategy and tactics. This will not be linear warfare, there will be no clear "centers of gravity" to strike with high technology weapons.

Our vast technological edge will certainly be helpful, but it will not be decisive. Perhaps the perfect metaphor for the coming battle was introduced by the terrorists themselves aboard the hijacked aircraft - this will be a knife fight, and it will be won or lost by the ingenuity and will of citizens and soldiers, not by software or smart bombs. We must also be patient with our military leaders.

Unlike Americans who are eager to put this messy time behind us, our adversaries have time on their side, and they will use it. They plan to fight a battle of attrition, hoping to drag the battle out until the American public loses its will to fight. This might be difficult to believe in this euphoric time of flag waving and patriotism, but it is generally acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a long fight. We need only look as far back as Vietnam, when North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap (also a military history teacher) defeated the United States of America without ever winning a major tactical battle.

American soldiers who marched to war cheered on by flag waving Americans in 1965 were reviled and spat upon less than three years later when they returned. Although we hope that Usama Bin Laden is no Giap, he is certain to understand and employ the concept. We can expect not only large doses of pain like the recent attacks, but! also less audacious "sand in the gears" tactics, ranging from livestock infestations to attacks at water supplies and power distribution facilities.

These attacks are designed to hit us in our "comfort zone" forcing the average American to "pay more and play less" and eventually eroding our resolve. But it can only work if we let it.

It is clear to me that the will of the American citizenry - you and I – is the center of gravity the enemy has targeted. It will be the fulcrum upon which victory or defeat will turn. He believes us to be soft, impatient, and self-centered. He may be right, but if so, we must change.

The Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted and least read military theorist in history), says that there is a "remarkable trinity of war" that is composed of the (1) will of the people, (2) the political leadership of the government, and (3) the chance and probability that plays out on the field of battle, in that order.

Every American citizen was in the crosshairs of last Tuesday's attack, not just those that were unfortunate enough to be in the World Trade Center or Pentagon. The will of the American people will decide this war. If we are to win, it will be because we have what it takes to persevere through a few more hits, learn from our! mistakes, improvise, and adapt. If we can do that, we will eventually prevail.

Everyone I've talked to In the past few days has shared a common frustration, saying in one form or another "I just wish I could do something!" You are already doing it. Just keep faith in America, and continue to support your President and military, and the outcome is certain. If we fail to do so, the outcome is equally certain.

God Bless America.

Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret). Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy

 

9/23/2001 Sunday
Check out an artist's homepage.

9/12/2001 Wednesday
My thoughts are with those who have lost their lives, and those who have lost love ones to this needless tragedy. If you are in New York City please donate blood. The New York Blood Services can be contacted at 212-468-2060.

9/11/2001 Tuesday
I am updating today for two reasons. One to let my folks know that I am ok, as phone service is out in NY. And two to register my dismay, sadness, and regret that the horrible events of the past two hours have occured. How many people will have to die? Who is behind this? I guess it could be anyone.. Obviously someone who doesn't care about sentient beings. Also someone who doesn't have anything to lose. Americans are going to rise up to this declaration of war and find the real responsible parties and bring them to justice. For those of you who don't know what happened: Two jetliners crashed into the world trade center towers. This caused them to ignite and within 2 hours collapse. Also a jetliner crashed into the Pentagon. With a second suspected aircraft on its way. (Note: these craft have been hijacked.)

8/18/2001 Saturday
First real update in almost two years!! Well, real is relative. I am now hosting my website at a new company: megaspace.net. Truth be told I haven't had access to edit the site in a year, and at this point I had to find a new place to host it if I wanted to update it. (Yeah, yeah, likely story!!).. Anyway, I have been working all day today and am dead tired (It is now 2:40 AM on the 19th). Well, I guess the big news is I am turning 30 in Oct. (OH the horrer!) :). (Send me an email if you are planning on being in NY during the weekend of Oct 6th). I guess some of you may be curious as to what I have been up to for the past two years... well, other than work.. alot. I will try and recap. I moved into a larger apartment in April. I am no longer learning Wing Chung, nor do I get much chance to play the drums. I still paint. Two winters ago I broke my pelvis snowboarding. I have been exploring New York nightlife. Found lots of good places to eat as well. I have thrown a few parties in my new place. I have acquired over the past two years an extensive liquor collection (mostly Scotches, Bourbons and French brandies). What else? I don't know, just life, you know that thing that passes by before your eyes as you grow older.. I got a new killer black leather sectional sofa. I get a PS2. I've been doing the dating thing. It's kinda fun, you all should try it. I think that's enough of a recap. For the future, I have decided that this website needs a total redesign. (For now I am experimenting with a minimalist retro look, circa 1993). And I want to change the look and feel of the site too. Maybe, I'll figure somethin out. But I'm looking for ideas. So throw em at me. OK, I'm bored again. Must go wander the streets..

1/1/2000 Saturday
Live from NY its VJ wishing you and yours a Happy New Year! Welcome to the new Century and the new Millenium!! (No Y2k bugs to report)

9/20/99 Monday
Weekend report... well we survived the Floyd hurricane (not much to speak here in the City). Friday I saw "Run, Lola, Run" I strongly recommend this movie. It a blast and the soundtrack rocks... see this movie if you liked... I don't know it's pretty different from anything I've seen before.. (It's a subtitled German movie). What else I did my normal weekend stuff.. Downtown, dry cleaning, shopping... I've added a link, where you can order movies (it's the matrix banner), and moved the amazon link to the left bar. I've already ordered on DVD: The Matrix, Big Daddy, and Enter the Dragon. (Now I've just got to get a DVD player, hint, hint) Dec 21st is when Run, Lola, Run comes out. As for a comic strip, try: http://www.goats.com/, it's kinda wierd.. in a cool way...

LINKS
Very incomplete list of recommended restaurants in Manhattan.
Technical Geek Documentation

(c) copyright Vijay Brian Gupta 2001