#include <stdio.h>
int main(int argc, char *argv) { char *code[] = { "nano", // GNU Pico clone "HackerKey", // Sig fodder! "CMatrix", // Console Matrix "GNU/Linux", // Linux info. "Talker SRC", // Text chat! "PG+Patches", // Deprecated "resume", // README.mycareer NULL }; char *personal[] = {   "about asty", // All about me "blog", // My weblog NULL }; float AmyNChris = 2000+10.07; float BabyMonique = 2003+11.01; int links; #define EMAIL "" }
/* $Id:,v 5.00 2003/09/29 01:46:57 chrisa Exp $ */
 *                                            * 
 *                                                       * 
 *   Copyright (C) 1999-2005 Chris Allegretta            * 
 *                                                       * 
 *   Welcome to the 5th major redesign of my homepage!   * 

2007.07.13 - The Helio Ocean - turns out it's useless!

Well, anyone out there looking for a new handheld smartphone with SSH, you can give up on the Helio Ocean. You would think a phone with 3G, a full qwerty KB and a minimum $60/mo service fee would probably be a potential dream tool for your average sysadmin geek. I emailed helio about the possibilty of getting an SSH client on the device last week. After the usual initial 'we don't know what you're talking about' email, I politely asked again about whether they would either consider creating one or allowing a 3rd party developer to do so:

...As a potential customer, one of many potential customers looking for a qwerty-enabled, SSH-capable 3g device, I do need to know quite specifically if any SSH applications are planned or already under development for the Ocean. Could you find out for me?

Regarding 3rd-party development, I'm quite happily employed actually, does your reponse mean only employees and no third party developers can write applicattions for the device, if no 1st party SSH client is planned?

The last sentence was because the original reply said I could consider applying to the company in order to write an app. No, thanks for the thought. The response back to this email was even more disappointing than the first one:

Hello from Helio, this is Randy, Thank you for your inquiry.

Chris, Secure Shell is only security programming, since Helio doesn't allow you to access certain personal information such as bank sites and online shopping. There really is no need for the SSH client. Although, we may still be coming out with updates for this service, please continue to check and clicking the sign up for updates tab. Also, in regards to third party development some third party applications will not work with our services. Thank you and have a wonderful day.

Now is it me or did he just say that the device is basically useless? You have a great network like 3G but you cant even check your bank balance? Is your device REALLY that underpowered that SSL encryption is beyond your capability? Wow, thanks for saving me the time and money from even considering your device!

Link to this rant

2007.05.25 - I really dont have any nice way to say this, so I'm just going to say it straight on:

and we will not forget it

No one in their right mind expects this President (who clearly is not in HIS right mind) will stop this war. We The People, your constituents, put you in the majority to stop this madness and you didn't. This act is no better than the deceipt which led people to support this war in the first place.

Friends of mine who may support this war and President, I may disagree with what you say, but etc. etc. You are entitled to your opinion, and I would never take it away from you. Enough is simply enough for me.

Surely the only injustice greater than silence is continued silence. I will be silent no longer, and I only hope others do the same.

2007.05.01 - Much good to report, let me focus on the good part first. We finally sold our house in Albany, got moved out of our awful apartment in Waltham, and work is going very well.

Now for the bad news. My dear cat Pico passed away last week (Liver problems...I would have suspected the bad pet food problem, but Zelda doesn't seem sick and we only feed our cats dry food...) Personally I haven't been able to deal with it yet, think Im still in denial. Perhaps when I pick up her ashes tomorrow and we scatter them, I can start to deal with it.

Rest In Peace
Pico "Boo" Allegretta
1996 - 2007

2006.12.18 - Ok, my blog will probably be going away soon, I simply don't post enough to warrant keeping it, plus it sure seems like the importance of each post must at best vary inversely by the number of posts you make, and if not my life simply isn't that exciting anyway :-)

Updates, updates. Well, our house still has not sold, not for lack of price drops though. Haven't been able to sell the Impala yet, either, but for good reason (read on). The girls are sick, I'm sick and have been out of work for 3 days and counting. But the worst part is that Joseph has been hospitalized since Thursday due to Bronchiolitis (complication from RSV which apparently we all have, and during his stay managed to get a UTI/urine reflux problem as's a pic for ya, from before all this crap.

The J man
It's the J man!

The positive of all this is that we have good health insurance and otherwise Joseph has been a very happy and healthy baby, and I'm very grateful for that. Hopefully he will come home Tuesday or Wednesday (and since I take forever between updates, just assume if you don't see anything else that that's what happened :-).

Most significant stuff out of the way, let's turn something a little more Yeah being an STP fan I'm excited to get the new Army of Anyone album, the VR album was ok too, I guess nothing will ever be the as good to me as STP was back in their heyday. But likely it doesn't matter, because with the exception of the new Weird Al album this fall, I listen to about 95% Radiohead nowadays.

I don't know if this was a common thing for people to first listen to OK computer and work their way backwards, and then much later suddenly 'getting' and then becoming obsessed with Kid A (better than OKC IMO)... HTTT is pretty awesome as well, Amnesiac is growing on me. But an ayway, that's how it happened for me. It's like a one way door, once you start liking that stuff you realize how insanely awesome Radiohead is, and then other 'rock' just doesn't sound right anymore...I guess knowing people with much better taste/appreciation for music than me like Mr Rafi and Miss TheCroccy it was bound to happen, but yes, you were right, the later Radiohead stuff is awesome ok! :-)

I should update the HackerKey Guide as well, perhaps this weekend, assuming the 'J man' gets home soon anyway. That's certainly enough for now!

2006.10.30 - Here is is, ahead of schedule even!

Joseph Howard Xavier Allegretta
Born 10/29/2006 at 08:42AM.
6 lbs. 15 oz.

2006.09.15 - Ok, well between work, taking care of two kids, preparing for the third, and trying to sell our house, I haven't had much time to even think, but may as well update here. I don't think I quite have said how wonderful my job is. So to remedy this, here is a little piece I like to call

Why ITA Software is the Best Place to Work, Ever

  • No computer I use at work has any version of Windows on it. To some people, this is probably unimportant. If so, you probably would not fit in at ITA anyway. More importantly, I have no need for Windows; I am not crippled in any way by not using it. Our environment is such that Windows is just another operating system choice. I'm sure some people use it, I think one person I know who work here does, maybe two people tops.
  • Work environment in general. I have a very efficient, not stupidly luxurious, office. My company does not waste money on fluff, but I have a nice big LCD monitor, dual core AMD64 desktop, new laptop (Apple *book or Thinkpad, although it seems people are getting to pick from other vastly inferior brands like Dell and Compaq). We have catered lunch on Fridays, and the food is even usually good :-) Very liberal setup, in summer I wore sandals and shorts (for some reason, this seems to be a no-no almost everywhere else Ive worked in IT except for SUNY). I think the official dress code is probably something like 'cover your groin and torso', or something similar.
  • The company is okay with exprimenting with new things, even non-trivial ones. From version control systems to company organization, we will try new things without fear. Positives and negatives are weighed before proceeding, of course, and we stage things and have (what I consider to be fairly resonable) change management processes, but new things are actually put into place. Anyone can suggest changing anything at anytime, and often the idea is a good one.
  • My manager is a genius. No seriously, probably the brightest person I've ever met, in terms of IT expertise. I dont need to give him powerpoint slides or excel spreadsheets when we talk, we use things at ITA called whiteboards. The speed of information distribution is worth the tradeoff in possible redundancy and impermanency. We also use a Wiki of course, for similar reasons. This probably belongs under the work environment section, but oh well.
  • I sometimes feel like I'm not smart enough to work here. This is probably because I suffer from an inferiority complex, but it's good when you realize how many smart people you have working in the meetingroo mwith you. Speaking of meetings, we dont seem to have many of them. I have 2 recurring meetings a week. Only one actually happens every week, the second proably something like every other week on average.
  • Last but not least - No one asked me to write this. Not at work, not ourtside of work, no one, no time. Sure, we are hiring at the moment, and I'd love a referral bonus (yet another perk), but I honestly am more interested in having the right kind of coworkers (i.e. really smart ones).

You'll notice that this is not in a numbered list. This is because no one item is more important than another. They are all part of a cohesive whole that is a good work experience.

Now of course no company is completely perfect, if I were to say so, I would either be lying or simply not looking very hard for possible improvements.

  • To be fair, the rate at which things happen is unsettling, sometimes it borders on terrifying. This is also a good thing, it means people are not idle or spinning their wheels in red tape or doing work of dubious benefit.
  • The work we do is also very complex, and the learning curve is enormous. I have been working here for six months and there are products I use today which I know next to nothing about, even the area I work on has such diverse possible implementations I don't know as much as I think I should to be on call to support it ;-) But learning on the spot is both challenging and fun, and if you get stuck there are always people to ask, wiki pages (and source code) you can read, bug tracking and source code control, IRC logs, etc.
  • On call can be murder. It seems to have gotten much better, and the employees who have been around more than a few years describe the nightmare it was before now (when there was no SOC and Tier 2), and comp days for rough om call weeks are good, but there is always room to improve here. Of course our hackers (programmers if you must) aren't on call, but someone in operations has to do it :-)
  • My commute is the longest I've ever had (from Waltham to the Cambridge is 45 minutes no matter what mode of transportation you use). The good news is that I do have choices there, I can drive, take the bus or the commuter rail, and ITA pays for my parking or T pass. Every cloud, you know...

Anyway, I think the fact that I felt the need to say how great my job is speaks louder than the words I use to describe it, so if this sounds like the place to work, apply, you don't even have to mention this self-admitted bombast as a reason for doing so!

2006.08.04 - Wow, that's quite a long pause between updates. Oh, where to start...

Well, we have not yet sold the house in Albany, and are finally ready to turn it over to a realtor. So if you know someone who sells houses in Albany, NY and wants a contract length of 2-4 months, let us know!

Work at ITA is great, it's by far the best place I have ever worked. Catered lunch on Fridays, meetings only one day a week, and a lot of scripting and troubleshooting, technically savvy manageers all the way up the (very short) "management chain"'s like no place I've ever worked. The downside being the off-hours maintenences and on-call, but it's comped so can't complain too much.

Also, Amy is pregnant with baby #3, and this time it's a boy! Should be interesting to see if we can keep our sanity with three kids under 4 for the next year. Should be a fun challenge though :)

Finally, some pretty bad news. After months of random nausea, hearing loss and tnnitus, I have finally been officially diagnosed with Meniere's disease. As it can last up to 8 years, it will be an interesting ride. Who needs to be able to hear anyway? :/

2006.03.16 - I have been putting off mentioning it for far too long, but yesterday was my last day as an employee of GE Global Research. I worked for there for almost four years between my time as a contractor and an employee, and like any job there were good times, bad times, times where I thought I was going crazy and times where I thought I was the only one who was sane. Overall I liked it a lot, but we picked Albany because it was conveniently half-way between my family's, Amy's family's, and Boston. Now with Dave and Erika starting their own families, it made sense for us to live near those in a similar stage of life.

Incidentally, if anyone I know did want to apply for my old job (one sentence job description would be: working in albany area to manage high performance unix/linux clusters and be able to tolerate working with excel and powerpoint as needed) just send me an email and I can get in touch with my former coworkers and put in a good word. The full job description should be Here

As for me, I will be working for ITA Software out of Cambridge. MA. Not yet sure where we're going to be living out there but we're looking at the Watertown area at present. Time will tell how this is going to work out for us, but now that my last day at GE is over I am finally getting excited about this latest life change (we've certainly had enough of them recently! ;-).

2006.03.09 - Have you, by chance, ever seen this error before?

If you've seen this, you probably are trying to pay your Federal Direct Loan on-line, since it comes up almost every single time! Please allow me to translate this error for you:

Translation: We're sorry, we're a bunch of incompetent federal employees who can't design a remotely reliable payment processing site! Sorry, electronically sending us your student loan payment is something we're not remotely capable of doing properly! Please don't bother contacting the Webmaster via the Contact Us link as you will just get a useless vague response.

The Direct Loans servicing site has to be the most embarassingly awful website I have ever had to use. It makes me ashamed to be an IT worker in the US knowing that this POS site is a product of the US government.

Yes, I'm bitter. If this were not the 7th or 8th time I've gotten this error when trying to make my monthly student loan payment, maybe I wouldn't have bothered putting up this rant.

2005.12.24 - Well here we are, another Solstice/Hanukkah/XMas season and I still can't remember to even do basic things like remember good friend's birthdays and to actually call pretty much everyone else once in awhile. I'm sorry, don't take it personally folks, Im not forgetting to call just you, I'm forgetting to call everyone!!

Some interesting news to those who know me at all: I'm apparently no longer lactose intolerant!! How does one suddenly become not lactose intolerant? Maybe it was all that lactase I was adding in my body via pills, maybe its a gland thing, who knows?! I seemed to get it suddenly, so why shouldn't it go away suddenly?

In nano news, I've finally turned the copyright over to David Lawrence Ramsey, the person who has been carrying the development for years. He definitely deserves it, getting rid of most of my um, eccentric coding :-)

Anyway, here's a pic of the family, man Amy and I are getting old ;-) Big 3.0e1 coming up soon. Oh well, Happy Holidays!

2005.10.19 - Okay, things are slightly better. Thanks to the magic of eBay and $60 my PSP is back in working order. Kids were sick earlier in the week but they're back to normal now, which is definitely good. UnixShell is having some minor lag issues, but I'm overall happy with what I get for my $. Ttfn!

2005.09.20 - Well, if you didn't notice in the title bar for the past few weeks, I've again changed hosting companies to UnixShell. I really wanted to see what a xen-hosted VPS is like, and Linode is not yet ready to put their xen solution into production AFAIK. Let me tell you, xen is FAST!

In personal news, things haven't been going the PSP is now a pretty black paperweight due to a cracked LCD, and today my tongue ring broke off a piece of my tooth. Hence the tongue piercing episode ends a mere 8 months after it began. There are people much worse off than me, so I'm not getting particularly down about it. Bree and Moniquey are happy and healthy, so I'm counting my blessings...

2005.08.25 - Settling in now with 2 children, whew! I did manage to buy (well, finance anyway ;-) an Acer Aspire 5002WLMI which is affectionately named 'overkill'. It is drasticly bigger than the old T20... And although it is a 'Turion64' system, Im still running ia32 Debian GNU/Linux on it. Anyway, here's the info for anyone thinking of putting Linux on it:

  • Wireless works great via ndiswrapper (m-a a-i ndiswrapper)
  • Sound running perfectly with ALSA snd_intel8x0 driver
  • X runs nicely with the synaptic mouse driver (apt-get install xfree86-driver-synaptics) and the widescreen setup (1280x800) just works
  • Getting useful battery status requires a kernel patch, at least for 2.6.11. Read these instructions for getting an updated dsdt for your system, I used this to recompile the kernel:

    MAKEFLAGS="CC=gcc-3.3" PATCH_THE_KERNEL=1 make-kpkg --initrd kernel_image --append_to_version dsdt"

    GCC 4 does NOT work and will give some very ugly errors on module compilation.

2005.07.29 - Introducing.....

Brielle Susanne Allegretta
Born @10:15AM, July 28th 2005
8 lbs, 1 oz 19"

More information as we get our lives back in order :-)

2005.05.29 - Well although I think the Hacker Key is great, people who aren't obsessed with computers may be more interested in the OmniCode. It contains a lot more non-geeky information about someone, like their height, weight, latitude & longitude, etc. Here is my OmniCode key:

---------------------- OmniCode 0.1.6 -----------------------
sxy cm183 kg99 skd39363 ha382720 ey6195b5 esO sp= Ag1976 anE hdd 
Lo42,51N-73,57W ZoP RlM PeC FHg UFGreg IN2.Cable AdI PrC(6)^(8)
----------- Omnicode ----------- 

2005.03.17 - After collecting some recent feedback about the Hacker Key, I have released version 2. Go take a look!.

2005.03.10 - Also, forgot to mention I'm now running full 64-bit FreeBSD on my desktop system, an HP 736N. here is the config file for a custom kernel including sound for this setup. YAY FreeBSD!

2005.03.05 - Ahh, another struggle to get a quasi-usable palmtop. Here you see a seeming rarity: a working NetBSD 2.0 installation on an IBM z50!

Anyway, apparently there is an issue with interrupt handling on the hpcmips platform. After reading this post, I decided to contact the poster and see if he had any copies of the kernel which included the fix mentioned. He did, and agreed I could host copies of them here as well! So to all you z50 owners getting "TLB out of universe" errors during your install, or random crashes with NetBSD 2.0/hpcmips if you do manage to make it through an install, here are some kernels more likely to work for you:

Many many thanks to Matt Dainty for providing these files.

2005.02.12 - In an effort to get that annoying pic of my tongue piercing further down the page, I'll post some stuff here. I seem to have caught the head cold that is going around at my job, so I feel like dirt this weekend.

In other (better) news, Monique and mommy haven't caught my ailment yet, both are doing well, and it turns out the government owes us some tax money. Hurrah.

I also went to the Capital District BSD User's Group Meeting a week or two ago, pretty neat. Anyway need to try and get some more sleep. Oh, and I bought some new tongue jewelry. Got to have a PowerPuff girls tongue stud if you want to be in vogue.

2005.01.23 - Yep, I did it! Hahaha, and it feels awesome. Here are some pics:

2005.01.06 - It's back!

         888                    Welcome to...                               888
         888                                                                888
         888                                                                888
88888b.  888  8888b.  888  888  .d88b.  888d888.d88b. 888  888 88888b.  .d88888
888 "88b 888     "88b 888  888 d88P"88b 888P" d88""88b888  888 888 "88bd88" 888
888  888 888 .d888888 888  888 888  888 888   888  888888  888 888  888888  888
888 d88P 888 888  888 Y88b 888 Y88b 888 888   Y88..88PY88b 888 888  888Y88b 888
88888P"  888 "Y888888  "Y88888  "Y88888 888    "Y88P"  "Y88888 888  888 "Y88888
888                        888      888                          
888                   Y8b d88P Y8b d88P                      @================@
888                    "Y88P"   "Y88P"                       | 2060 |
                                         888                 @================@
     @==================@                888
     |  A 24-hour chat  |              88888888 .d88b.   .d88b.
     | program based on |                888   d88""88b d88""88b
     |     EW-too by    |                888   888  888 888  888
     |    Simon Marsh   |                Y88b. Y88..88P Y88..88P d8b  d8b  d8b
     @==================@                 "Y888 "Y88P"   "Y88P"  Y8P  Y8P  Y8P

Why not log in and say hi :-)

Anyway, after a very hectic New Year that I'd rather not get into details about, we return home. Nice to be back.

Older news

[Edited with nano]

(c) 2000 Chris Allegretta. All right reserved.