Sunday, April 20, 2008

+1 for dnsmasq

If you use Ubuntu, and you spend too much time staring at "Looking up" in your browser's status bar, this hack is really worth the 5 minutes.

Actually, the above writeup is out of date (although it contains some additional details if you care to understand what's going on). On Ubuntu 7.10, it's even simpler:

  1. sudo apt-get install dnsmasq
  2. Uncomment the following line in /etc/dhcp3/dhclient.conf:
    prepend domain-name-servers;
  3. Restart your network connection. (I do this using the KDE system tray icon; ifconfig works too.)
  4. If cat /etc/resolv.conf turns up a line containing nameserver, you're done.

Background: I have Comcast, and its DNS servers are completely terrible. They can take minutes --- minutes! --- to respond to a lookup query for a pretty popular hostname like Equally often, hostname lookups fail entirely. I don't know what Comcast's doing wrong --- running DNS servers is, in Internet terms, an ancient problem --- but anyway, it's really frustrating. I am strongly considering switching to DSL, but that will probably take weeks for me to finish researching and setting up, because I don't have a land line (ugh).

In the meantime, dnsmasq caches DNS lookups on my local machine, making subsequent lookups to a given hostname after the first one almost instantaneous and perfectly reliable. This doesn't really fix the underlying problem in Comcast's DNS servers, but it does mitigate the pain I experience because of it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Enhanced Interrogation" approved in detail at the highest levels

If you're reading this, you're probably not someone who tends to give this Presidential administration the benefit of the doubt; but just in case you are, watch this Daily Show segment discussing the recent ABC news revelations on how our leaders were intimately involved in the details of planning torture sessions.

Look at the expression on Rice's face when she answers the reporter's question at the end, and ask yourself whether you can call this thing that speaks a human being, rather than some lower order of fleshy automaton.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Slackenerny: gainfully employed

For me, the hilarious thing about this is that somehow I didn't see it coming, and yet it seems so obvious in retrospect.