Archive for August, 2009

Debian, PHP, and LDAPS

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Another helpful hint for people Googling for answers like I was this morning:

If you’re running a PHP-based web application on a Debian server, and it is attempting to authenticate against an LDAP server, you may see a situation where it works fine with unencrypted LDAP but fails to bind to the server using encrypted LDAPS (LDAP over TLS). The solution is to install the libraries in the package libldap2-dev.

Apparently, the TLS stuff isn’t in the regular libldap2 package. I don’t know why, it seems like an odd packaging decision, but it fixed the problem for me.

Peace Bridge

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Looks like Little Timmy Tielman and the rest of the hysterical preservation clique just got punched in the nose.

For almost twenty years, the debate has been raging on the Lower West Side about expanding the Peace Bridge truck plaza that acts as a holding area for the border crossing. Twenty years. The previous presidential administration refused to budge, but Louise “Queen of Gerrymanders” Slaughter stalled until the new group was in office to ask for a reconsideration. She wants the plaza on the Canadian side of the river instead.

No dice.

So it looks like some of the Columbus Park neighborhood might get the wrecking ball in the next couple of years. It’s sort of a shame — it’s one of the older neighborhoods in the city, being near the waterfront and all, and there is some interesting architecture there. But after twenty years in limbo, twenty years of uncertainty and rot, it’s looking more than a little ragged around the edges. About half the homeowners just want to sell off their houses to the Peace Bridge Authority and get out. The other half are determined to dig in their heels. This whole thing stinks of an eminent domain land grab coming up.

Another ten or twenty years, we might even see that truck plaza.


Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Senator Kennedy dies, and finds himself at the Pearly Gates. He waits patiently in line, and when it’s his turn at the head of the queue, he stashes the liquor bottle he’s been sipping out of under his trenchcoat and goes up to see Saint Peter.

“So! Mr. Kennedy! Or, should I say rather, SENATOR Kennedy! So happy to finally see you here! We’ve been waiting for you for a long time, and frankly, most of us were taking bets on what exactly would finally get you.”

“Oh?” Said Ted.

“Yeah, that damn Michael, you know, the Archangel? He had ‘brain cancer’. Lucky sonombitch. Looks like I owe him another pack of Heavenly Strikes. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes! Mr. Kennedy. SENATOR Kennedy! Come right on in!”

“Really?” Said Senator Kennedy. “You…you mean I’m welcome here? In _heaven_?”

“Sure, you betcha!” Said Saint Peter. “All you have to do is go right over there- see that Oldsmobile parked there, right next to the lake of Fire and Brimstone? There’s a young woman sitting in the driver’s seat- she’ll take you right over the bridge, over the lake, and into Heaven.  Just watch her though- I think she’s been drinking.”

The Senator thought, “This seems awfully familiar…”

Freegene and Linux

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

For the benefit of anyone Googling for compatibility:

I recently purchased a Freegene two drive enclosure from — I’ve got a RAID on my main computer at home that’s a series of 250GB Firewire drives, and I wanted to consolidate a bit.

I put in two low-power Seagate 1TB SATA drives, and hooked it to a Debian GNU/Linux box. The Linux software raid is setting up a mirror right now, and everything seems to be working perfectly. This is a nice little unit, if a bit on the loud side, for housing a couple of drives.


Monday, August 24th, 2009

Mexico just passed a new drug law:

Essentially, this law broadly decriminalizes small doses of a lot of stuff- the list includes pot, coke, LSD, Peyote, and others. The article above touches on a lot of salient points, but just misses the big point as to why this is a bad bit of legislation.

What? Did I say bad? Well, allow me to put aside my traditionally libertarian leanings on this matter for a second. Let’s say you’ve decriminalized what amounts to personal use amounts of most drugs. say, 3 or 4 “servings”, if you will, of a drug. OK, great. You’ve freed law enforcement from the hassle of tracking down every Johnny pot head and Jane coke-snorter and supposedly reallocated those resources to cracking down the dealers, pushers, and other big-timers. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case with many government plans enacted with the best of intentions, it ignores the laws of the marketplace. If using and possessiong small doses of drugs is now legal, that will drive up demand. Increasing demand means increasing prices, which means more of a market and more money to be made by the dealers and pushers. Its a nonsensical approach from just about any angle.

Naturally, there are now predictions of tour busses full of hippies headed down south for “vacations”, and comedic quips about Mexico’s problem of citizens of the USA illegally immigrating into Mexico.

But considering Mexico’s current problems with narcotics dealers, increasing violence and potential spillover into the US, such levity will be short-lived.


Monday, August 24th, 2009

According to new research, the walkability of a neighborhood factors into its desirability and the price of homes in the neighborhood. I’ve seen this in action here in Buffalo — there are actually people moving from the Elmwood Village area because the houses elsewhere are less expensive and the taxes are correspondingly lower.

I don’t think this is exactly universal, though — the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood is plenty walkable, with MLK Park and the Broadway Market right there, and I could buy a house for a thousand dollars anywhere in the area. I suppose this falls under the same heading as the _City of Tomorrow_ thinking about parks being inherently good for a neighborhood and uplifting for its populace, a “fact” the urban planners just won’t let go of no matter how dangerous some parks get.

I have to wonder if this trend toward New Urbanism and walkable communities and so on is the beginning of the end for America’s fifty year love affair with the automobile. The people that made the decisions that forced most people into a car-dependent, suburban lifestyle are now getting too old to drive everywhere themselves. Maybe it’s starting to look like a mistake.

The Skool System

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Went for a ride through downtown yesterday morning — looks like there’s a new billboard up off of Michigan Ave.


People are getting angry. That’s a good first step.

Walden Galleria Pond

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

It appears that an undergrad at the University at Buffalo has come up with a novel plan to solve his lack of money for housing. Rather than living in campus dorms, or renting someplace off-campus, he has decided to build a little shack in the woods on North Campus and live in that instead. Sure, it has no windows and the walls are just bare studs with no shingling, but that ought to be perfectly fine for a Buffalo winter, right?

He’s just like Thoreau, if Thoreau was living in a first-ring suburb with pizza delivery and shopping malls rather than in an actual wilderness.

I’m of mixed opinion on this. On the one hand, I sort of admire the kid’s chutzpah, and his stubborn unwillingness to concede that this idea is completely insane. And I’m looking forward to his carbon monoxide suffocation or shack fire this winter, when he tries to use a kerosene heater in the middle of a blizzard. But in a litigious society like this, there’s no way that the school should condone it. They’ll end up getting sued by all the relatives that couldn’t be bothered to give this kid rent money.

My House in 40 years

Friday, August 21st, 2009

275 cars. All up for grabs. Boyos, grab your wallets. We’re going shopping.

City vs. Charter

Friday, August 21st, 2009

It’s another school year, and that brings us the yearly discussion of the rift between the Buffalo Public Schools and the charter schools operating in the city.

From the article:

“The charter school movement began here in 2000 with the opening of two schools. Now there are 6,500 students enrolled in 16 charter schools in and around Buffalo.”

Now, this alone is an interesting fact. Add to it, though, the fact that students have school choice here in Buffalo. When Dean is old enough to go to kindergarten, we can send him to any school in the city. Same for middle and high school. And yet, with the entire district available to them, including some very good schools like Olmsted and City Honors, parents are still choosing to send their children to charter schools.

It seems to me that the district would be better off determining why that is and trying to emulate it, rather than being petty and confrontational over things like providing bus service and who came up with a “health technology” school program first.

People in my demographic and my neighborhood, for example — city dwellers with college educations and professional jobs — often send their children to charter or Catholic schools. The Superintendent would probably have more luck asking them why they don’t like his district than he will blundering around, picking fights and missing the point like he so often does.