Prodigy Infinitum, SMTP through port 25, botnets and such

dsl.jpgAfter pulling my hair for a couple of days I just realized that my DSL provider is blocking all outgoing connections to port 25 with an ICMP Unreachable packet, which translates as a totally bogus “no route to host” message (An ICMP RST would be more kosher, BTW). The only explanation that comes to my mind is that Telmex has finally realized that it has become one of the largest botnet hosts in the world and decided to do something about it. This is a terrible inconvenience for me, because I run a backup MX at my home office and all the email I write while I’m at home is relayed through it. And now it believes that it has been cut out from the Internet, and is suffering from Internet withdrawal syndrome. Oh, and all attempts to use an external relay -like my primary MTA or the office’s- through port 25 fail as well, so I have had to set up an elaborate workaround *just to send email*.
*Argh!* I hate to pay up for those ignorant Windows home users.
Add to that the fact that i get 800KBps tops in a 2GBps line, and recurrent reports of arbitrary bandwidth capping and Infinitum stops looking like a good alternative for home broadband. I’ll have to look for a cost-effective alternative, but after experiencing 20MBps/20EUR in Europe I’m afraid that I’ve been spoiled for life.
In the meantime, if you were expecting a mail from me in the last five days or so, I’m sorry to say that it is either on its way or lost forever.
Anyway… Merry Christmas!
Update 20080104: AJ Gibson points out in a comment that Telmex is willing to remove the block from your account if you are willing to jump through a few hoops. Just go to and follow the instructions there. I registered yesterday and today I can connect back to external SMTP servers again. As mentioned in the comments, YMMV.

I’m a Dad!

MagditaMagdalena Rodríguez Delgado was born last Tuesday, June 5th 2007, sometime around 18:05 GMT. At birth she was 49cm long and weighed 3.220Kg. Just like her mother, she has a strong, commanding voice and powerful lungs behind it.
In the strange state I’m on right now -neither asleep nor awake, with hardly any sleep on the last three days- I can barely believe that I’m a Dad. And I’m completely, absolutely, positively happy.

Hello, Planeta Linux!

planetalinux-small.pngAnd now for something completely different: This site is now syndicated in Planeta Linux Mexico.
If you haven’t heard about Planets, they are sites that publish aggregated news feeds around certaint themes in the now all-too-familiar reverse chronologic order. Planets are a great way to feel the pulse and hear the buzz of a community without having to maintain individual subscriptions manually. Throught the years I’ve become reliant in several Planet feeds, most notably Planet Perl, Planet Python and Planet Debian.
A few weeks ago Beco introduced me to Planeta Linux -now I’m an avid reader- and kindly offered to talk to Damog and get this blog’s RSS feed into the site.
If you are one of my three regular readers, go visit Planeta Linux, I’m sure you’ll find it as enjoyable as I do. And if you are a Planeta Linux reader, well… Hello!

Goodbye, IBM / Lenovo!

After flickering in-and-out for a few weeks and then getting a misterious red tint, the IBM Thinkpad R50’s display got well for a couple of months before getting all flickery again and dying for good. It was the nicest display you could find in any laptop of its class, even tough it is rather opaque and has its share of glare. I called IBM Tech Support and they told me that I could send it to Guadalajara for service after paying USD$70 for shipping and diagnostics (the backlight’s out, what else is there to diagnose?). I called IBM Guadalajara and was told that I had to pay over USD$100 instead, which I paid up anyway. Then they promptly proceeded to lose my service order for a month, time in which apparently IBM finally managed to kick out Lenovo employees from their Guadalajara offices. After calling their new number repeatedly, I got in touch with them and they finally managed to ship me a prepaid box to send the laptop out.
Well, as it turns out they have to replace the display. Big surprise! Wanna know how much that’s going to cost? Over US$900, thank you very much. You may be aware that the price of the display is more than enough to buy an entirely new laptop of almost any other brand.
Well, let me tell you about brand loyalty: My first brand-new PC was a IBM PS/2 55SX in the early 90’s. I worked like crazy for an entire summer and the next semester to get my hands on a luggable P70. I even sided on microchannel against EISA during the bus wars. Overall, for over 15 years the IBM Thinkpads had been my favorite notebooks. And I advocated them everywere, because even tough they were *very* expensive, their quality was outstanding.
And up to the 600 line they were excellent. But the L series was terrible, the power brick and the laptop itself overheated a lot and overall had awful power subsystem glitches. Anyway -and against my wife’s warnings- I went and bought this R50 anyway just because bdelgado got me a good deal, but it came with a bad hard disk right out of the factory, has a battery that degraded incredibly fast (half the original lifetime in six months of moderate usage, and nowhere near the advertised lifetime to start with), had to have its motherboard replaced barely a month before the warranty expired and it still overheats and has glitches in the power subsystem.
And to think that I was already looking into getting a Thinkpad X41 right before the R50 crapped out.
So decided that I am not going to spend that much money to replace the display in an outdated laptop. Moreover, I’m not willing to keep pumping money into a company whose QA processes seem to have disappeared, and whose service has got so bad that they lose a service order for an entire month.
So, goodbye IBM. Or Lenovo. Or whatever manufacturer they sell out to next. And hello Dell. I just bought a Latitude D620 and I’ve started to document my adventures with it. I will keep all of you posted on that.
In the meantime it’s goodbye forever to IBM/Lenovo computers. Thanks for the memories, but I’m not looking back, and it feels really good.
[tags]IBM, Lenovo, Thinkpad R50, Laptop[/tags]

Amplifying ignorance through technological empowerment

There are numerous reports around the Internet about a supposed fraud. People that has never heard about the Drunkard’s Walk is firing up Excel or SPSS to plot variables and doing correlations, and while some of them actually ask for interpretation from someone else (an expert, preferrably), all of them are quick to state that the election is rigged, even when they lack either the knowledge or the experience to realize that they are wrong. Most arguments are critically flawed, the methodology is just wrong or anything resembling actual math is completely absent.
Some people are amazed when they apply a curve-fitting algorithm to some data and then -OMG!- it actually fits (What the fuck where they expecting?). Some other people find linear correlations in time series that represent percentages. A lot of people -a whole lot- are amazed that the lines in the PREP never crossed and believe that it is impossible. A couple of so-called experts were on the radio today discussing “mathematical irregularities” without providing real -scientific- arguments. AMLO himself has spoken about “mathematical impossibilities”. His cynicism -and the irony of the phrase- is mindboggling.
I have seen this same problem before in another context, and you might be familiar with it too: Someone learns to program using Visual Basic by drawing buttons and filling up code. He’s a programmer, right? Now he fires up VB.NET, learns to draw “web forms” and fills out some more code. Now he’s also a web programmer!
The same thing happens in other circles. For instance, we all know that anyone that can fill up a form in Blogger or LiveJournal is a journalist. Now we can prove that this very same phenomena -technological empowerment amplifying ignorance instead of supressing it- seems to work out with statistical programs -even with spreadsheets .
Hypothesis: If you give them SPSS, everyone is a statistician.
[tags]Mexico, IFE, PAN, PRD, PRI, Mexican Elections 2006, Math, Statistics, Ignorance, Education[/tags]

Mexican elections 20060704 @ 1600hrs

The PREP does not determine the actual winner, but a preliminary result within a certain error magin. The “Preliminar” part in “Preliminar Electoral Results Program” is conveniently ignored by many. Since the election numbers are too close to call, and given the error margin (that may account for human error, among other things), the IFE decided to go for a full vote before pronouncing a winner.
The data that the PREP reports is NOT random. The time series does not reflect the measurement of a social variable (e.g. number of births) but a sucessive approximation to a final state (the number of votes for each candidate).
There may be validations in place to detect typing errors (e.g. 129 instead of 124, 272 instead of 212) using the sums in the voting documents but the IFE may not be willing to discard the results of internally inconsistent voting documents (e.g. a bad sum).
The rules are clear, signed by every political party and written somewhere, but the great majority of the people does not know what they are.
As usual, the problem is either education, simple ignorance or disinformation.
[tags]Mexico, IFE, PAN, PRD, PRI, Mexican Elections 2006, Math, Education[/tags]

Mexican elections 20060703 @ 01:00hrs

Yesterday at 11pm IFE asked for prudence and -mostly- for silence. Once again, *both* PAN and PRD ignored the authority and jumped the gun to declare themselves the winner. The PAN cited hard -if somewhat uncertain- numbers. The PRD called to defend the vote, and that they will respect the results if the are real and the process was clean, which to me sounds like a poorly veiled threat. PRI -irrelevant as it may seem- is still in sweet denial and define themselves as “Mexico’s most important force for stability”, setting the table to negotiate with whomever comes out on top.
Myself, I will go to bed without the certainity of either a bright or a bleak future for me, my family, my business and my country, even if these elections demonstrate beyond doubt that those discrete black-or-white realities don’t apply to Mexico anymore. Uncertainity is definitely a lot worse.
I guess Paco Calderón says it best.
Now I just hope the rest of the world behaves with more responsibility than the candidates and that the market doesn’t punish us too much.
[tags]Mexico, IFE, PAN, PRD, PRI, Mexican Elections 2006[/tags]