HTTPS Support

It took quite a bit of trouble but I’ve added HTTPS support to this site. As an aside, most of my work has been on infrastructure projects and preparing to move to a new content platform. I’ll discuss that separately when I am closer to making it happen.

ArmA3: Linux Dedicated Server

Where to begin. How about I try to keep the back story brief this time?

So far I have tried running the ArmA 3 linux dedicated server on:

  • Debian 7 VM running on a Sun Fire x4140 server
  • Ubuntu 12.04 Server VM running on a Sun Fire x4140 server
  • Ubuntu 12.04 Server on a PowerEdge 2850
  • Ubuntu 12.04 Server on a custom gaming PC: Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P / Phenom II X4 965 black

None of these have panned out. The first three were abysmal in terms of performance. 10+ minutes – 1+ hour start up time, AI that lags literally seconds behind the player. Generally, these servers would start up and have a rating of 10-15 FPS on the server. On the last system, the map loads very fast — less than a minute. But depending on the scenario the game is unplayable. If playing Domination GITS edit, it’s playable and the server floats around 20+ – 30+ FPS. If playing Insurgency ALiVE, the server pegs at 2FPS and the AI lags seconds behind the players. I don’t know what to make of this. It’s unlike any other experience I’ve had with ArmA dedicated servers. Previously, they all “just worked” no matter how shitty my server hardware was. Now it seems even relatively recent vintage hardware is not enough.

The time investment of trying to get this far alone has drained most of my motivation to keep tinkering. I’m hoping that by documenting this I can save myself some trouble in the future if I decide to have a second look.

Pidgin: Adding a Trusted Root CA Certificate

I’ve struggled with this for a few days. The CA was not trusted by Pidgin, and I’d get certificate warnings wherever I connected from. There is no mention of this in the Pidgin FAQ, and various web searches turned up clues but no solutions. Through a combination of the Pidgin Debug Window and browsing the libpurple source code, I found the answer.

As an aside, it took quite some effort to locate the Pidgin source code. The Debug Window was one of the clues from my searching. The link to the Pidgin source repo was on the Download page. Because I was not interested in downloading anything — merely browsing — this was counter-intuitive to me.

The solution is to create a directory named “ca-certs” in the “.purple/certificates/x509” directory. This directory is located in “$HOME” on unix platforms, and in “%APPDATA%” on windows. Inside that directory, place a file containing the PEM-encoded CA certificate. I used the name “” for my CA certificate. Upon restarting Pidgin my XMPP account connected with no warnings. In the debug window, I saw that the certificate was validated and cached successfully.

Firefox Private Browsing & Window Raising

I’ve noticed several quirks when using Firefox. This is one of the more recent and annoying ones.

I first noticed it on windows, when there is more than one window open. In my case this means one “normal” window and one private browsing window. What will happen is that I’ll load a particular site and at some point during the process of the page load the other window will get raised to the foreground. It is as if there’s a “window.focus()” javascript call in the page that I’m loading but it’s raising the other window instead of the active window. So far it’s been impossible to figure out what precisely is happening so I can stop it. Instead I periodically have to minimize my other Firefox window.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

I saw this place driving through Fairfax a couple of months ago. Having already been to SmashBurger I was familiar with the concept of a Steakburger. I checked out some reviews on Yelp. I could (and probably will at some point) write a whole separate article about that. This particular Freddy’s fetches only 3 stars from the local yelpers. At the same time, many of the worst reviews seemed either petty or clueless (e.g. “It’s not Five Guys, so they suck…”). Nonetheless I figured that there had to be at least a grain of truth to the group consensus. I was wrong.

My initial impression… well, the place was clean. The appearance was Five Guys-esque. There was a lot of red & white. It was somewhat retro 50’s diner. The menu was reasonably well laid out. I studied it for a good few minutes before deciding on a #7, the “Bacon & Cheese Double Steakburger”. I subbed onion rings for the fries, since I’m not much for shoestrings. The drink selection was typical for a fast-food joint with the addition of iced tea. I opted for a soda so I couldn’t tell you if the iced tea was any good. The order only took a minute or two to come out. Not surprising given the workload. The staff were pleasant, on par with any of the classier establishments. The burger was good. I’d say typical for the type of burger. I liked how the cheese melted into the burger patties. The onion rings were good too. Overall, I’d say I got the quality of a lower-end sit down restaurant for less than ten bucks, which is not bad for fast food these days.



Exciting Times

We live in exciting times. Myself especially. I’ve been working recently on a number of projects. I’d like to post a good summary of everything, but I hesitate to since I’d also like to deprecate this blog engine. So I’ll write some stream-of-consciousness type babble and then move on with my life.

WordPress is on my bad side. It seems to be under active development, and they have gone full nagware on me. That is to say, that every time I log in to the admin panel, there is a banner stating there’s a new version. I had to go so far as to write up an instruction guide as to how to do the upgrades since I could never remember and I needed to do them so frequently. Also, Matt Mullenweg’s concept of how the GPL works and how it interacts with commerce doesn’t sit well with me and therefore I don’t want to inflate the usage statistics of his software. Instead I’ll probably develop my own blog engine, using some BSD-licensed framework that I can develop to my own taste. Then no one needs to hear about my eccentric ideas.

My Kerberos/LDAP Auth project was a failure. Not a complete failure, but enough of a debacle that I gave up on it. It turns out that Windows 7 is broken in some way that I have not been able to remedy, specifically in how it requests/retrieves/generates Kerberos tickets for samba share access. I’ve set it to use only the arcfour cipher, but it still requests aes256 cipher. Then it kills its samba connection and spits out an authentication error. There are no logs or events. I plan to replace this setup with a Samba4 AD PDC, at some point when I fix my application hosting platform.

My virtualization initiatives have been a wash. The hypervisor hardware I have is all garbage and I have zero budget for new hardware. There is some progress on the Virago, in that I’ve taken it apart and got the original stator out. I haven’t put the new one in yet. Work on the ’88 Corvette Transmission overhaul has been slow going. I keep needing specialty tools that I don’t have.

Owncloud has some promise but I am unhappy with the software. It is far too fragile to update without risking data. I really don’t like that. It seems to stem from a lack of a decent database library and perhaps no reliable ORM layer. I don’t know enough about the internals to tell. I just know that I had to brute-force the upgrade from 4.0.7 to 5.0.10.

Battlefield 3: Post Patch Woes, Part 2

I was able to partially resolve my Battlefield 3 issues (as posted here) by running a “repair” operation on the game from the Origin client. Numerous rounds of Windows Updates and driver updates didn’t help at all. Now the game seems to crash on map changes under certain circumstances, but I haven’t been able to isolate the problem yet.

A Different Kind of Linkrot

I’ve increasingly noticed that searching the web for answers to various technical questions gets me a lot of dead-ends or infinite loops. For example, when searching recently for information on libnss-ldap and libnss-compat, I found this forum thread: It conveniently doesn’t answer the question — instead referring the reader to search Google. I ended up using different query terms and finding what I was looking for but as I said, this is happening more and more.

I find it interesting and somewhat bothersome that these types of responses — typically snarky to boot — are becoming more prevalent in search results and I hope it doesn’t get too out of hand.

Battlefield 3: Post Patch Woes

In short, the game won’t launch post-patch (the Nov 22 patch). I’ve tried installing the latest AMD video drivers, and all of the current windows updates, to no avail. Now I’m going to try leaving it in this state (trying to launch) overnight to see what happens.