behind the times...

today, i discovered that the quranapp i’d written for facebook has been broken for some time now (mainly due to the changed notification apis, which affects both notification sending and invites). so i’ve finally updated it and it properly works again.

i actually kind of like their changes - their new invite form and friend selector are pretty simple to use and are very feature full (not to mention well documented), and not having to catch return types from sent messages and forward to a confirmation page is always a very nice thing ™.

i guess sometimes, you can’t just write software and forget about it :)

illogical downloading...

continuing the trend from yesterday and posting more about annoying things ™, my friend pointed out that in the awstats report for one of my sites, i had a very abnormal number of reported bandwidth downloads for one of the days (~3tb, when i usually average under 50gb per day for that particular server). of course this is unrealistic (and, in fact, impossible, because the box is on a 10mbps connection, which would mean no more than ~108gb/day…).

so i did some investigation…

[ahmedre@cafesalam a]$ ls -alh download*21
-rw-r--r-- 1 ahmedre ahmedre 36M Jan 22 11:29 download-access_log.01.06.2008_21

i opened this file and noticed that a particular ip was repeated a huge number of times in this file, mainly with 200 and 206 return codes.

[ahmedre@cafesalam a]$ wc -l download*21
158618 download-access_log.01.06.2008_21
[ahmedre@cafesalam a]$ grep -c download*21
[ahmedre@cafesalam ~]$ echo 152514/158618 | bc -l

amazing… turns out that when i swapped servers, i forgot to re-enable mod_limitipconn in the apache configuration. the thing is, this isn’t the primary download server, it’s just one of the mirrors that the download rotates to (so it’s easy to figure out, but you have to have some computer knowledge to get to it, because the webpage currently doesn’t link directly to the files, but instead to a php script that figures out which server to get the file from (and it so happens that both servers usually have all the files, but that’s a different story)).

so what i don’t understand is, if you have somewhat of an understanding of computers, why would you go about initiating 152,000 requests within one hour (from some place in new york, i should add…)? how can you possibly expect to download that much at a time? i have nothing against people using download managers, i use them all the time, but at least be respectable about it - download no more than a handful of files at once… for what it’s worth, the ua string was: “Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.00; Windows 98).” i tried to see if this was some sort of download manager, but i am not sure… but it sort of has to be either a download manager or a script to hit that many files in an hour…

this really bothers me… not to mention that on the primary site, the error log reaches gbs in size due to all these 403 requests because of people with download managers constantly trying to leach a huge number of files at a time… i need to find lighttpd/apache modules that do progressive blocking to people who hit the site an exorbitant number of times…

angry at inconsiderate people...

i guess this can’t be considered backbiting, since i am not going to mention any names here. but today, something happened that really made me upset.

i was working on some sites with someone, and he uses dnsmadeeasy for their dns (an excellent service, btw). as time went on, i made my own sites that were in some way affiliated with this individual. he insisted i use his dns account, gave me the username and password for it. this was more than a year and a half ago.

a year ago, in january 2007, i logged in only to find that the account would expire in a few days. not being sure where this person was, i went ahead and renewed the account for a year. all was good and fine. in december 2007, i emailed this person and asked him if he was going to pay for january 2008 or if i should. he said he would pay.

today, i remembered this, and so i logged in just to check, and found the account had expired on january 9th. i tried to renew the account, and found a ~$8000 charge on the account! normally, the account costs around $60/year for a huge number of domains. the $8000 was for some support package that they wanted to be added to the purchase. i couldn’t remove this no matter what i tried, so i called up the company.

i told them that this person was overseas and asked me to renew (he really is overseas), and that i was wondering what the $8000 was there for. they looked into the account, and said, “your friend knows why there is an $8000 charge, that’s why he asked you to log in and pay from within the states.” – “huh? i don’t understand?” - “i believe your friend was one involved with dos attacks that affected our servers, this happened between him and some other islamic sites…”

i was shocked… i told the representative that i was sharing the account with the person and had some of my own sites on there and asked whether i could move them to another account. he said that they probably would not want to have any sites associated with this guy’s account on any account in their system.

they told me they’d investigate and notify him via email of what their investigation leads to. the representative advised me to move my dns before their service cuts off. so i spent the afternoon changing ~7 or so domains to point to dreamhost’s dns server until i figure out if there is a better option.

so why am i angry? because if i hadn’t, by luck, checked this site today, my sites would have all gone down (some of which are quite high traffic sites) for a few days and i may never have noticed it. this guy knows i use the dns with him, and knows i paid for it the last year, and i just reminded him in december… if he knew there were problems, why didn’t he either 1. resolve them, or 2. tell me and give me a heads up so that i can move the sites without losing them?

it just seems like a common courtesy to me, or am i wrong?

plus, what’s this about dos attacks that hit their servers if they’re just dns servers? i am not quite sure i follow… does that just mean that people just sent an influx of requests to the website at once and that registered as a dos attack on the dns server because the requests were going through them, or what could have happened? and why did the rep say, “your friend knows what he did…” and what is this about these dos wars happening between other “islamic sites” and how does this rep, who just works at dnsmadeeasy, know this?

i am confused and upset… i might try to call dnsmadeeasy again tomorrow and see if i can convince them to let me move the subset of my domains that i use to a different clean account or not, as dnsmadeeasy was an excellent service; that and i am not sure if dreamhost will get upset or not at the influx of requests hitting their dns servers for my more popular sites.

nice bash tip

i never really used this until i ran into this article by accident, but it’s fairly cool…


echo {one,two}.sh


this means that you can, as the article says, do something like this: cp /etc/apache2/httpd.conf{,.bak}

to backup your apache conf. cool huh? the article has more details and such, but that’s just a summary.

y! answers dev to be in europe

i guess since it’s already been made public on techcrunch, i can post about this here… but yes, y! answers development is moving to europe. we already had some developers there, but now it will be driven entirely out of europe.

as for the us developers, we were all moved onto another project. while this is a change that i personally welcome (it’s nice to have something new to work on every once in a while, esp if you’re currently in a lull with what you are doing), it is kind of sad because answers was sort of like a child to many of the developers. although i wasn’t there from the very beginning of its initiation, i was there early enough and for long enough to feel this way.

in other y! news, i found this to be great. it’s about time :)

myweb maxed out

so i usually bookmark things both on and on myweb2, especially because myweb’s search is a lot better than’s at the time being. so i had a bookmarklet that would bring up both save dialogs and i would save in both. recently, i tried to bookmark something, and got:

myweb2 maxed out

i guess it maxes out close to 5000 bookmarks…


i guess i may just be going through some weird phase in life, but here’s what’s on my mind this morning at 2:30 am…

  1. for some things, right and wrong are undoubtedly clear. but for others, how do you really know? two extremely good people with two extremely good (albeit different) view points can really leave you in the middle, unsure of what the right answer is.

  2. why is it so easy to hurt someone you care about accidentally?

  3. why do people get carried away trying to live out the “american dream” (ie nice job, nice brick house with a white fence and a dog named spot?)

  4. why is life so repetitive and cyclic?

  5. why are we as humans so impatient?

  6. why are we as humans always looking to be accepted by others?

  7. why do we let what people say and think drive our actions and affect them so much?

  8. “history repeats itself” - but sometimes it doesn’t… or does it?

  9. why is it that most of us are in much better shoes than so many people that we know, and yet we are still not happy?

  10. how do you distinguish people being “politically correct” with you and people treating you with sincerity?

  11. why do we try so hard to flaunt our accomplishments, yet at the same time rush to cover our weaknesses?

  12. if one dies an unexpected death tomorrow, would they have done anything to make the world a better place? would anyone besides their close family notice or care?

  13. why do the moments of happiness feel so short in comparison to the times of hardship?

  14. why does life feel so hard at times?

  15. how do you know who your real friends are?

before someone goes sheikh-style on me answering these questions, let me clarify one thing - i am not asking these questions from a religious perspective, i am just asking why we, as humans, feel this way about certain things.

girls down the street from you

maybe out of sheer boredom, or too many nerdy thoughts always going through my head, or just to find a good use for the domain, i’ve started a humorous (so claim those who read it) blog about youth and the problems they face in looking to get married (basically some of my theories about the whole marriage process).

you can check it out here.

update - i closed it down :)

when character really shows...

“the way of the Prophets is a difficult path to follow - they were all hurt and slandered by their people, and while they could have retaliated, they didn’t. but we have to do our best to follow it…”

this is roughly what someone i really respect told me today after he was cursed out for no reason. while he could easily have hit the guy or cursed him back out, he kept silent. the whole time i could see him on the verge of snapping, but he managed to keep his cool.

truly, as the Prophet said, the rough meaning of which is, “the strong one isn’t by the physical strength, but it is the one who can control himself at the time of anger.”

it is really hard for the nafs to remain silent, especially when it is wronged and has strength over the one who has wronged it. when a person is patient, however, they send a much stronger message.

may Allah reward him for his patience and grant him and his family utmost happiness in this life and in the hereafter. ameen.

a thought...

this past weekend, ustaz amr khaled visited us here in the bay area. he came to jum3ah at mca. it was really a surprise to me (i knew he was giving a talk the following day, but i didn’t know he’d come to jum3ah). i felt extremely happy when i saw him, and started thinking about what i would say if i could get to talk to him.

he gave a brief 1 or 2 minute talk in english - i was happy that he said our masjid was like a “hug” and that it felt different than any of the masajid he’d seen in europe. i think i had a smile on my face the whole time.

afterwards, i had the honor of shaking his hand, hugging him, and speaking one sentence to him and getting a reply back. i also tried to get someone to take a picture of me with him.

but after seeing the crowds of people rush him to say salams, get a picture with him, or even get an autograph in some cases, i stopped and asked myself a question…

if i was this excited about talking to amr khaled, wanted to find something memorable to say to him, wanted to tell all my friends that i talked to him and hugged him… what about on the day of judgment when we see the Prophet Muhammad (صلي الله عليه و سلم)?