Monday, March 31, 2008

UTP Network Representation

MPPUTP posted a post at their news blog about the DirectConnect file transfer is the one that affecting the Internet connection of UTP. And they showed this diagram

Dear MPP, obviously you are taking this image blindly without checking at how the UTP network functions. Its either you are being tricked about the design, or the real UTP network design is really that severely flawed.

Here, let me show you the map of the UTP network, from the the IP number point of view. I draw this map based on my experience analyzing the network structure of UTP to get around certain things to link up the UTPchat servers. How villages are separated, how stuff are being laid out. However, note that this map is mainly based on IP data and base routing only. I couldn't map VLANs and others lower level networking architecture because of the limitation of the access I have.

Let begin with the overall layout, [Image 1]

Opps ... like a web? .. oh yes it is... however, weblike doesnt mean bad. More redundant link will help reduce bottlenecks the core. The Internet have a lot of redundant links, just in case one link is down or overload, the other will take over. UTP have some redundant links, but theres something looks fishy with it. I'll explain later in this post.

Next up .. the per-village network~. I'll only show 1 village here, with 3 blocks (getting everything to be put here, is too much). [Image 2]

Now now now, this is where you file transfers are causing the perception of slow Internet connection. As you can see there, for block A traffic to get to block B, it will need to go through Block A's router then Block B's router. What makes it slow is .. 1 block, theres at least 250 IP available for use, imagine 250 computers, trying to transfer files across different blocks through one gateway. Theres only one phrase to describe that, HEAVY BOTTLENECK!. Transfer for people on the same block will need to go through the switch of the block. When too many traffic going through one gateway, the gateway became overloaded, collisions start happening, etc.

DirectConnect servers mostly handles clients on the same-village, any transfer between block of the same , by rights, won't be affecting the upstream internet connection. Unless ... somebody set the routing rules sooooo crazy, that it forces everything to meet at one point before passing it to the other blocks. The diagram you MPP show us, if that really is the real UTP network, than something really need to be done. When you make everything meet at one point, obviously, that one point become the single point of failure. Network routers and switches have maximum capacity, you cant simply direct all those 4000 100mbps LAN traffic through the central network. If you do, obviously ,when those 4000 users start transfering, for example, 1mbps (128KBps) traffic between them (not through the Internet), you'll end up with your central network had to handle all those 4000mbps traffic. The trick is to make each network able to send same-village traffic with the shortest route possible, and provide multiple routes so that when one route is overloaded, it will fallback to another.

Btw, DirectConnect, fyi , is not a virtual network. Its just a server which provide one point where users can share the file listing of what being shared on their system. Whenever a transfer occurs, it doesnt go through the DirectConnect server anymore. Its purely between the users and the other users. Imagine the server as a MatchMaker, and 2 clients as a Guy and a Gal. The MatchMaker only become the middle person to match the Guy and Gal with each other. Once the Guy and Gal met, the MatchMaker task ended there, whatever happened afterward, is between those two, the MatchMaker have no business neither control about it. The DirectConnect hubs in no way connected to each other over villages. They are just yet another computer on UTP network, all limitation of the UTP network applies to them too. So, that blue bubble in your diagram, is 100% inaccurate.

Okay thats all for now. If I want to explain more indepth of the network design from my analysis, it going to take a very long paper here. Plus, my data is not 100% accurate as I can only view from the IP level of the communication across UTP computers, I will need more access to the network devices and some worthy motivation if you want me to do a proper analysis of the design. I'm not quite supportive to those DirectConnect hubs and filesharing of illegal softwares. The only set of thing I see as okay to be shared are those TV Series, Anime, Free and Open Source Softwares, documents. TV Series and Anime are grey in the legal area because they available freely on the TV in the first place. But Movies, pirated softwares, porns, MP3/music, are generally very clear they stay in the Illegal area, and I am quite against them. However, your blaming that DirectConnect affect the UTP Internet connection is very inaccurate and I can't make myself not to rant. As you can see, DirectConnect handles same-village clients, if there really are overload of traffic, it is happening within the network itself, but not at the gateway to Internet. Of course, I noticed that V1, V2,V4 suddenly connected together while its not supposed to be, but still, it misses the point, if the design is correct, traffic should not go through the servers/gateway to the Internet. Unless, like I said again, some stupid person have set the routers to go through one single point and caused everything to get clogged when heavy traffic.

If UTP network is really designed centralized like the diagram you show us, my suggestion, its time for ITMS to learn how to layout everything in a decentralized way or hire someone to design it out. Centralized network design for a lot of traffic is soo not cool, it can't handle all this 4000 students traffic elegantly, breaks easily, and causes bottleneck at the center.

Genius: A gift?, or a curse?

The news spreading around the net about Sufiah, a child prodigy 10 years ago who was accepted to Oxford at the age of 12, is now living in a pitiful life as a hooker.

This is not the first time cases like this happens to Malaysian-born genius, previously, (I forgot his name), the boy who managed to fluently read when was 3 years old, is now, a drug addict. There are also some other similar happenings to people around me which I happened to see throughout my school life transfering from state to state with my family.

What possibly have been the cause of this?. Why does these born-geniuses suddenly end up in a pathetic situation?. My opinion, its because of the people surrounding these geniuses and also the media.

These gifted childs, are often the pride of their family and the people around them. Some family, or people around, being very proud of these childs, wanted to show the world about the child. And there came the media, news, gossips, and in a short time, these childs became well known to the world. However, this action, IMO, is a very bad action. The media coverage, the news, and the popularity these children gain from the media, started to create pressure against these childrens to perform well in their academics. Young childrens, they are not emotionally strong when facing this type of pressure , they are very vulnerable to it. By giving media attention to these gifted childs, it created an environment where the children started to be bounded to their gifts. Honor of family, hope of race and nation, hope of people around them, started to turn their gifts to a curse of life. Slowly everything accumulate, and these children .. cracks .. and break. Together with them, the loss of the talents they have, the loss of the potentials these children might open to the future of mankind.

The same goes to the life of normal children. Parents, teachers, family, tend to push children to their limit with very high hopes, very high expectations. Forcing childrens to go to tuition daily, forcing them to strain themselves into studying to get good results, etc. This, IMO, is very bad. The children became overworked, tired, and pressured. Strong ones will be able to cope, but the weak ones started to crack. They started revolting, creating problems to people around them, and destroying themselves. Even the strong ones, they might have some parts of them broken, because of the way they have been raised.

Children are meant to be happy, that is how they develop their minds. Don't cause them to break by putting a lot of pressure to them. These small minds and simple logic can't cope with too much pressure. For the gifted ones, please don't put them to the eyes of the world, let them grow and enjoy their childhood freely. Protect them. When they are older, when they are ready to carry the burden of popularity, that will be when its time to let the world know about them.

My parents does not pressure me on how they want me to be and let I choose the path I want to take. And I am very glad about that.

The are no such thing as "free" in this world. Everything have a payment - not necessarily in term of money. Even Free softwares have their payments - effort to learn how to use it. Gaining popularity == losing your freedom as the world will be watching at you. Having gifted, does not mean that gift won't ask for its price sooner or later.

You want something, you'll lose something. You create something, you'll destroy something. Give and take. Every action have a reaction. From great power, comes great responsibility. Everything have a price. No such thing as a perfect Utopia. Thats how nature keeps it balance. What important is to find the point optimum point.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

PIDA: An IDE which loves you!

I discovered PIDA while reading around Fedora mailing lists (forgot which thread), and decided to try it out. yum'ed it from the Fedora repository, and launched it.

My first impression - Coool!.. its gvim + version control + shell/terminal + customizable IDE, all in one!.

I usually do development with very basic tools - gvim and a bunch of shells/terminals. I don't like most IDE because of the over-complexity of them. I do use geany or gedit once in a while when I want to have a bit of non-vim'ish behaviour of text editor. But PIDA, its a whole different level. It looks very promising to be my next best-friend.

Not so long after, that I started using it for continuing my current project with Inigo, and quickly, it took over my daily use of gnome-terminal, and my frequent need to change directories and restart Zope. The basic version control feature it have is wonderful. Unlike Eclipse or other IDEs where it is quite hard to get flexibility on how the project is laid out because of the "smartness" of the IDE, PIDA's basic, "stupid", yet useful, version control integration JustWorks.

So far, I have fell in love with this IDE. I haven't tried its other features yet, but I'm quite sure its going to be fun. Its written in Python, so it should be easily extendable. Going to use this a bit more longer and see how my comfort with it - its already replaced my habit of using gnome-terminal at this point of time.

Some screenies:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Catching up

Catching up on stuff that happened this week:

MAMPU Migrates Malaysian Government Agencies to OpenOffice/ODF

MAMPU Migrates to

Hooray to kaeru and OSCC!. This is a great success indeed.

UTP-OSS meetup March 2008

Our little special interest group in my University just held a meetup last friday. We haven't done any meetups for quite a while now and to my surprise, it looks like the number of really interested people have grown a lot. The turnout was approximately 20 people, and I can be sure at least 90% of them used linux in some point of their life and have some clue about OSS world. Compared to our previous big meetup which was mostly attended by uninformed people.

Yondie presented his presentation from the last Ubuntu meetup and I share my experience working with an Inigo and how OSS economics works.

IMO, this meetup was a great success and I hope those who are in UTP-OSS can continue this momentum and help building UTP-OSS reputation among UTP academician as a great knowledge-community.

p/s: wheres our cameraman, da.blindheart???. I want the pictures!!. Upload it somewhere pls. :P

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When people petitioning to save WinXP

It means the end of Windows is getting near

Vista is such a bad OS, to the point that even non-*Nix geeks also hate it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

GNU/Linux World Domination for the Wrong Reasons

In the same way, you only have to glance at the user forums of major distributions like Fedora or Ubuntu to see that more users are concerned with getting proprietary video drivers installed than with having control of their own computers. After all, the proprietary drivers are available at no cost, just like the ethically free ones, so why not use them, especially when they are technologically more advanced? I've even seen some users castigate Fedora for not providing the proprietary drivers in its repositories.

Never mind that to do so would be against Fedora's policy of including only free software -- with such users, the short term convenience of the technically superior proprietary drivers outweighs the ethos of freedom. Many of the complainers do not even appear to have heard of free software ideals. Nor do they bother listening when those ideals are raised.

Fedora is a strong supporter of software freedom, and it will be for a long time to go. I am a believer of this ideal and this is one of the main reason I love Fedora. Thanks Bruce, for understanding Fedora's stand.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

And the results are ....

Malaysian Election 2008 result is out.

Barisan National got their ass seriously kicked!!.

They won simple majority at Parliament, and loses a bunch of states. DAP leading bigtime with Penang and Selangor seats majorly won by them.

With this result, lets see in this coming years, will BN will start fixing themselves? Will the Oppositions start seeing the real economics condition of Malaysia from the eyes of Parliament? How this will affect the stability of Malaysia? Can BN be able to find what's wrong with their organization? Can the Oppositions deliver their promises? Will the hidden voice within BN will raise and start reforming the party?

Will Change happens? to the better? or to the worse?

Let the coming years be the benchmark.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A bunch of CeBIT exhibitors busted for MP3 patent infringement

Something I saw at Fedora Planet from Jeremy Katz's post Who says the mp3 patents aren't enforced?

CeBIT crackdown: 51 exhibitors busted for patent infringement

The word is that 51 different exhibitors got busted at the show for the patent infringement, with 180 law enforcement officers confiscating 68 moving boxes worth of gear. Primary offenses included Meizu-style MP3 / MP4 infringement, along with unregistered CD, DVD-R and DVD playback devices.

Qemu slow disk throughput

I am doing some development for a UN community site, using Zope/Plone. I uses Qemu for hosting the guest OS for my development environment.

For 2 days, I keep wondering why Zope/Plone loads damn slow on the qemu machine eventhough I have allocated both cores of the processor, and 512RAM for it. 15 minutes simply to start up is really not desirable. I kept on investigating and guess what:

[root@unapcict ~]# /sbin/hdparm -t /dev/hda

Timing buffered disk reads: 18 MB in 3.03 seconds = 5.95 MB/sec

Just for a comparison, the host hdd's speed:

[root@Nobuyuki ~]# /sbin/hdparm -t /dev/sdc

Timing buffered disk reads: 174 MB in 3.01 seconds = 57.71 MB/sec

Darn.. So, thats what the reason. Dear lazywebs, anybody know how to improve the speed??.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Malaysian Election 2008

Seems like its getting near, and people from both Barisan National (BN) and Opposition parties started doing their usual crazy stuff. Both sides with their promises. Both sides with their accusations about their opponent. Which will win?. Lets wait and see. Which party I will vote?, Nobody (because I'm not yet legal to vote :P ). Furthermore, I prefer to be neutral. I value practicality more too.

I myself is not really excited with this event. Why?. Well, I just don't like the system of voting for a party and the party who decides who will become the leader. I see this method, is somewhat not really voting for a leader who will represent my voice and interest, but rather simply choosing what group of people will be the government. Voting for a group, IMHO, made me unable to choose one particular individual, who I feel, is suitable to lead Malaysia better.

In both BN and Opposition, there are good leaders, also in both of them a bunch of lamers (though I admit, IMO, theres one particular side which filled with lamers, but still, there are some good leaders in them too). Voting for a party does not guarantee me that my vote won't help those lamers. I don't want those lamers to become Malaysia leaders, because they sucks!.

When a party wins in a certain state or wins in overall Malaysia, its the people within the party are the ones who choose who will be the leader for that state or the leader of Malaysia. This system, is bad in a way that, its not people who chooses the leader. Within a party, there will always be cronism, etc. Thus, those who wins to be the party leaders, are those who have best influence within the party. I don't like this 2 layers of choosing leaders.

I want to vote for a Person NOT a party.

The Barisan National party, being having too much majority, and always-win, made them Microsoft-like with hidden corruptions. While the Opposition parties, with their impractical promises, accusations, and lame attitude. So, which party will win this time around?. One thing I'm sure, no matter who win, its not us who will get to choose the person who will become the person who will really represent us.

Oh yeah, Go Barrack Obama!!! Go Larry Lessig!!!..

To: Anonymous Coward Who Don't Understand What My Motivation of Reviving UTPchat

Seems like theres one anonymous coward (or maybe the rector himself hide this student's identity), responding at rector's note at UTP ELearning.

Dear Datuk Dr. Zainal,

I would truly support UTP Management to close down IRC and DC++ regardless what reasons given by the students.

I agree that UTP facilities are meant for academic, not for entertainment.

As far i m concern, the request of not to ban IRC shall not be entertained at all. This kind of request carries no value at all as the matter of fact, majority of the students use IRC for non academic purpose, and i admit that i m part of the majority.

I dont understand the reason behind why these students still want to fight for it as if they are paying for the facilities for entertaiment? Why dont they spend their time to struggle and get 4.0 every semester?

So what if the students get the IRC? would they still perform well and obtain 4.0 every semester? Definitely NO because entertainment are more enjoyable than study.

Let's put it in simple term... Who provide the internet facilities? Student or UTP Management? Obviously is UTP Management. So the UTP Management has the fullest authority to do anything, and there shall no be any questions about it. If the students do not like it or dissatisfied, please leave UTP and go create their own IRC in other campuses. I believe there are thousands of SPM leavers and DIploma students who are craving to enter UTP.

Lastly, i hope this issue should have a full stop because it has been carry over and over again. Nothing to be negotiate anymore. Students should understand their responsibility as a student. And that explains everything.

I am sorry for such informal feedback. Perhaps i feel very close to you due to your concern of us.

Dear Anonymous (whoever you are),

Obviously you, either have not been in UTPchat during its glory, have not known any of our graduated older seniors, have not seen what the importance of living as a community, living for others, not only for yourselves.

In any organizations, its the people who made up the organization. The leaders, or organization authority, only lead the way and make sure everything is in control, but its the people who make the organization strong. Without their students, a university will just a building with lecturers and management team.

UTP graduates, since years ago, is well known of their ability to mix with people, and good in both life and studies. But seeing the juniors, I have a feeling that, the identity will no longer be there in the future. Since, they sit in their room, study ,study, study, trying to get 4.0, to the point, a lot of them, forget one important thing - being a good citizen and a good community person who cares about others.

There are more in life than only 4.0CGPA. Your exam results, will only serve you to get your first job, just that. Your future jobs after that, its not your results that matters, its your contribution to your previous employer. But, lessons you learnt from being a good community person, you will bring it to your death. If you look around you, a lot of newer students in UTP nowadays, have lost this community value. They care more about themselves. The spirit of living in community is just not there in them. In the previous UTP era, UTPchat, and Grapevine, served as the environment where this community spirit was built upon.

About the term "entertainment" you mentioned above, for your information, I am not fighting to legalize those DirectConnect hubs. Being an OpenSource contributor made me very familiar with all these Digital Millennium Copyright Acts and related. I am not fighting so that we can share illegal stuff all around UTP, what I am fighting for is, a way for these long lived communication mediums to be revived in a way that is legal, and beneficial for students. I have no problem with disabling filesharing etc, provided that there are acceptable, logic reasons for it. We IRC Operators are ready to cooperate if requested correctly.

There are more in IRC and Forums than just "entertainment". It serves as an convenient environment for people to share ideas, share opinions, voice out problem, discuss for solutions, etc. You, obviously have not been in the industry/world of which IRC and Forums are being used for professional purposes. Professionals, does make use Forums and IRC as a way for them to communicate with other people, usually asking for support or for a simple teleconference. I know because this is how my company do things. And how a lot of others (usually OpenSource industry-related), take advantage of these technologies as a way for them to collaborate globally. I am fighting to build this type of community within UTP, this is what my primary motivation is.

Let's put it in simple term... Who provide the internet facilities? Student or UTP Management? Obviously is UTP Management. So the UTP Management has the fullest authority to do anything, and there shall no be any questions about it. If the students do not like it or dissatisfied, please leave UTP and go create their own IRC in other campuses. I believe there are thousands of SPM leavers and DIploma students who are craving to enter UTP.

UTP provide the facilities, and students who pay for it. Granted, majority of us are being under PETRONAS Convertible Loan Contract, but read that again, its a LOAN. We will need to pay that back later after we graduate. Either by money, or by working with PETRONAS (read: you are going to be a bounded-worker, not being able to have your Freedom, for 10 years). Frankly, if its not because the Convertible Loan Contract stated clearly that my location must be at UTP, I have been long gone from UTP, to some other university that worth that Loan money which I put that 10 years of my future Freedom at stake. Knowing people from other universities, and involving with them, made me noticed that, I have missed quite a number of real-life opportunities to improve my skills, simply because I am stuck at the hidden desert of Sri Iskandar. Furthermore, all these policies, while might benefit the Engineering students in some way (through, well, restricting them from being in ICT), is a discrimination against the ICT students. ICT world is unlike Engineering world where results matters more. ICT world, skills worth more than the results. Results only shows that you have learn this,this,that formally, but not the students skills. ICT talents can usually identified from what the students have done beforehand, what they can prove they worth. And these marketable skills, are not acquired through formal learning, but through experimenting and exploring around with technologies and involving with the communities which share the same interests of that technology. However, the environment in UTP, is not condusive for such activities. I know UTP have more Engineering students than ICT/BIS, but that does not mean, we, the minority, can be ignored from our opportunities.

SPM students craving for UTP?. Think about it, its because the way UTP market themselves to those students, not because they really know how is UTP . Oh yeah btw, I believe, quite a number of students who joins UTP, is not because they want to join UTP. But instead, because they get that Loan-which-masquerade-as-Scholarship, I am quite confident that quite a number of students who entered UTP, are those who applied for Oversea studies with PETRONAS but failed and get to UTP instead.

UTP popular marketing phrase is "Well-Rounded Students", students, who have balance balanced in all aspect of life - not only studies. From what I am seeing now in UTP, well, a bunch of people who have their "Study" bar high, but other bars (especially in ways of living as community), low, which does not make a Round, but some random shape instead.

Lastly, i hope this issue should have a full stop because it has been carry over and over again. Nothing to be negotiate anymore. Students should understand their responsibility as a student. And that explains everything.

And a human, should understand their responsibility toward other humans. A person in a community, should understand their responsibility toward the betterment of the community. These are some values, that a formal education will never teach their students. Students will learn this, through living and contributing to a community. IRC and Forums, are some examples of the medium to build a community.

I doubt this will be a full-stop anytime soon, but this is what I believe in - I will try my best to make UTP understand the technical/community advantage and importance of these two technologies. These technologies have benefited me in my current career, and my community - #linux of UTPchat. I believe it can benefit others too if it is implemented in a proper controlled manner.

I don't believe in stopping these technologies ever fix anything, it'll creates new problem instead - or worse, losing what they can benefit for it simply because we are ignorant and treat everything is bad. What important here, is to educate people, the proper way to use these technologies so that it won't be abused. "There are no such thing as a bad technology, technologies have no mind to think, its the users who make it good, or bad." So, instead of living in denial through blaming that technology is bad, this technology is bad, the user themselves who should be blamed because they are not being responsible for themselves and abuses the technologies to the extent it corrupts them.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Re: An Open Letter for the Rector of PETRONAS University of Technology

The long awaited reply from the rector have arrived!!. Its accessible from UTP ELearning Moodle Site.


Thanks for the reply Rector,

5th March 2008
UTP Chat - Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Dear Students ,
Further to some comments/complaints made by a couple of you on the above, please see the following explanation :

As you are aware, we faced serious network problems way back in 2005. Based on the network study conducted, it was found that the network congestions were caused by several factors including servers hosting Internet Relay Chat. After much deliberation, discussion, information exchange with other higher institutions, checking with experts as well as feedback from the students themselves, we found that the disadvantages for outweigh the advantages.

I am aware of that. However, note that I am not against the current network infrastructure which separates the 5 villages. Didn't I said in my original letter that I am a sysadmin too?, I know the advantages/disadvantages. Plus, considering I am someone in the community and experienced things first-hand, I am confident with my knowledge. What I want to fight for here, is reviving the two communication medium which was once flourished in UTP community. Below are my arguments related to your reasons + some mythbusting which somehow, UTP students, some ITMS, and those complaining students, don't understand the real technical background.

The above action had to be taken because the following happenings were noted:
1. Downloading of non-academic related materials e.g. movies, songs, graphics, etc. These are all big size files that chew up a lot of network resources which are very expensive and limited. This had hampered genuine users who are in dire needs of this resources to accomplish their tasks/assignments or any education related matters.

2. Downloading of obscene materials. These materials are then shared over the networks. Please bear in mind that these are not only violating UTP rules and regulations but also Malaysian law. (some students are now waiting disciplinary action)

This is related to the access control at the UTP gateway level. It is not related to UTPchat, neither Grapevine. I am aware of the layer-8 problem which students abusing the upstream connection and caused problem with the connection. Connection to the Internet is not related to UTPchat operation, as we are operating within the UTP LAN itself. Even if we do use the upstream connection, the IRC protocol, is a very light text communication protocol. The link utilization is very low, even lower than people browsing the Internet.

These 2 reasons, are in no way directly related with UTPchat.

3. Playing online games over the network. We also noticed some computers are never being switched off, indicating that the computers are working all night long. This is not only a waste of valuable resources including electricity but worse still it affects students performance due to insufficient rest

Games are games, IRC is IRC. I am fighting for the survival of IRC and the Forums. I myself does not play game much. Maybe once a while. But most of the time, I spend sharpening my ICT skills, and contributing to Open Source projects, and helping people at the IRC channels. Its much more fun and worthy :P.

4. There are also cases of hacking or intruding into computers of others including staff. We treat hacking activities very seriously, hence stern action has been taken on those responsible.

This is the problem of UTP designs itself, and the lack of monitoring and lack of competent people to maintain the vulnerabilities. The staff computers, are poorly maintained. The Operating Systems are not updated with latest security fixes, etc. New vulnerabilities are discovered everyday, its ITMS's job to make sure all of those computers are being patched early before anything happens.

Frankly I say this, the new network layout, in no way secure those staff computers from real crackers. Theres several ways to reach those computers, make it remotely from room, or from other ways which include going as near as possible to the computer. Nonetheless, the new layout does stop the lame-cracker-wannabees in UTP, so, I guess theres one benefit of it.

"No such thing as a 100% secure computing environment, its just the matter of time until someone figure out the method". This is why, maintenance, and competent IT security team is a must.

Again, this point does not relate in any way with my quest to revive UTPchat and its also not my quest to change this network layout as I'm quite okay with it.

5. We also noticed that the chat room is fast becoming a forum or platform to condemn certain personalities, use of abusive words, spreading of rumours, sexual harassment etc. which had offended so many people. Furthermore, hosting IRC had attracted unnecessary traffic to certain portion of the network resulting in network congestion/bottleneck and hence complaints from users.

Again I mention this, IRC is a very light text-based communication protocol. Its traffic (at least for the UTPchat IRC) does not even utilize 1% of out network bandwidth, if theres a congestion/bottleneck somewhere, there must be someone else (which I also hate), doing something.

Rumors, condemn, is a normal thing in communication. Even without those, people will still spreading rumors etc through the traditional way -> "The Mouth". These students, are already above their legal age, by rights, what they said, is their responsibility. Us operators and moderators, can only moderate them, its not our rights to stop them from voicing their opinions. In my opinion, whatever words they use, whatever rude they are, what more important, is their opinion, make it bad oponion or make it good opinion. Condemns, is also opinions in a way, but instead of stopping them (and caused them to condemn even more), find a way to resolve it. Nonetheless, whenever there are reports of objectionable content which have a valid reason, the operators/moderators will take it down. But those students, instead of reporting to us to resolve it, they report to ITMS/UTP management who dont know a thing about it. Which results on hurting innocent people (usually the operators and moderators).

For your information sir, us UTPchat IRC Operators, does have our rules in handling these abuser, such as banning, etc. Theres a popular saying "IRC is a priviledge, its not a rights. Abuse, and be ready to face the consequences". However, this require users to report to us who are abusing the system so that actions can be taken. But, those some UTP students, being themselves who don't understand the technology, take IRC as a rights for them, and instead of reporting to us for us to take action, they reported those to ITMS and even UTP management, which technically, not controlling the IRC infrastructure. And ITMS and UTP management, not doing what to do, start taking weird,annoying,irrational actions which caused problems to innocent people.

Nonetheless, even us IRC operators and Forum moderators, who technically maintain the system, have our limitation of enforcing our rules. Sometimes we need cooperation from higher authority (such as ITMS), to track down and eliminate the abuser, but we don't have that power/technical access to the facilities to track down of those - which results to -> us being blamed.

(I think this is the only point from you that valid and related to my open letter)

6. Some students employed tunneling tools to monopolise the bandwidth utilization.

HAHA!. Okay, I'm guessing this is what ITMS or those people who don't understand the real technology and complains based on rumours told you right?. HAHA! . (pardon me, I cant help it, as I am expecting this answer from you, and I really want to bust this myth)

Sir, these "tunneling to steal bandwidth" thing, is a myth. Tunneling, in computer networking term, means putting one type of traffic from a certain protocol, into another protocol for transmission. The common use of tunneling in UTP is for certain students, to access certain network protocol ports outside of UTP, such as IMAP (port 143 or 993 - for downloading email for offline viewing), SMTP (port 25 or 465 - for sending email ), SSH (port 22 - for controlling a remote computer at home/work - like me), to access external IRC network (port 6667-6669 - I need this a lot for me to communicate with other Open Source people), and others. UTP network is too restrictive which only allow port 80 and 443 (http and https), so, people who need those other protocols, had to tunnel out through some service provider. The Internet is not only what people see in the web browser, its more than that.

Granted, that through tunneling, users can also try to download from torrent or other services, nonetheless, traffic shaping (limiting speed) can always be done. A good traffic shaping rule and a dedicated and competent admininistrator who are dedicated to hunt down those abusers and take action on them, will be able to keep those at par (instead of this lazy only-port80-and-port443 rule).

We have spent so much time and effort to correct the situation resulting in the following outcome :

1. A stable and efficient production network.
2. Complaint pertaining to internet access has significantly reduced to only 3% which is only due to some site/configuration/equipment limitations.
3. Network congestion has been reduced tremendously and the network efficiently had reached more than 75%.
4. Minimized or reduced the chances of virus attack to the whole network. In term of operation, it will be more efficient and easy to isolate the network should outbreaks or attacks occur.
5. Rectification time pertaining to internet access problem or any network related problem is very much reduced. This resulted in more efficient services to all users.
6. Good feedbacks received from users pertaining to internet and network services.

This , (again) in no way related to my quest to revive UTPchat. This is more related to the network separation, and better access control at the gateways. Again, I am not fighting the network separation, and I am not fighting those NetworkBox gateways.

I believe the Internet Relay Chat is not the only way for voicing opinions , views, etc .There are more meaningful activities such as debates, elocution, and other co curriculum activities that provide opportunities to voice your opinion, develop your soft skills, etc.and engaging in intellectual discourse. There are also other activities that can nurture your creativity such as IDS, EDX etc.

Yes those are some of the options. But if you look again, they are mostly academical. Debates and elocutions, does those actually voicing a real concern which happening around and asking for a change?? - rather than debating/speaking, simply for certificates and winning competitions??. The equality is not there, only debaters can voice their opinion, but how about those people , those audience who does not have time/chance to join such thing? are they should be ignored ? are they does not have the rights to voice out?. Some people, take time to think and arrange their points, they can't quickly speakup and debate in real-time manner (I know I am. Blog, letters, and text-communication which allow some time for reply is my way to voice out). Does these people opinions, who will surely lost in a debate event because of they need time, be ignored ?. Some people also, have nervous problem which cause them unable to go to bigger public, does their opinion can be ignored too?. My answer, is a big NO.

These Internet technologies such as IRC and Forums, provide a different medium for these people to voice out, on their free time, without any limitation (that they need to join debate/elocution etc). Anyone, make it people with good grades, people with bad grades, people who does not these chances to voice out in real public, are able to voice out. The virtual environment encourage people to read the opinions itself, rather than questioning who are giving the opinions. Anyone can voice out, anyone can be listened, anyone can reply, regardless who you are.

About events like IDS/EDX/etc, those develops only skills that relates to that events (event management, communication between committee, etc). Again, they serve more academical purposes. What about people who want to develop skills different that those?. They need their own medium, they need their own community. IRC and Forums, can give them a place and communication medium for knowing/finding people who have the same interests build their own community. One notable example, is #linux of UTPchat. That IRC channel, consist of people who share enthusiasm related to the Linux operating system and Open Source world (that includes me). We use the medium for us to gather more people who share the same enthusiasm, help each other, and develop skills related to our interest. We are quite hidden from management right now, as we prefer to do our events unofficially due to bureaucracy takes too much time for us to handle. You can try asking our CIS Dept Head of Dept, Dr. Kamil. He knows about us under the name UTP Open Source Software Association, and he's been quite supportive for us.

All in all, UTP has spent a lot to develop and maintain all these facilities yearly. It is only wise that you use it for meaningful purposes whilst at the same time develop good moral values in you as individuals.
I hope you understand our rationale on the above . We only want the best for you .

For the network design implemented on 2005, I understand and accept the rationale, because I've been spent 1 whole semester during my foundation years trying to understand the network. :). But I am still not getting an acceptable rationale that UTPchat and the forums are bad.


Considering my original open letter was misinterpreted. Let me make it clear what I am fighting for here, in point form.

  • UTPchat and Grapevine existed in UTP as a community environment since years ago. Also a symbol of Free speech in UTP.

  • UTP network redesign on 2005, caused UTPchat and Grapevine to be unstable.

  • On the same period too, theres a case which was a stupid-irresponsible UTP student, caused UTPchat and Grapevine being attacked because of false accusation through blocking our physical ports and caused the servers had to be moved around UTP. Directly caused Grapevine to die, and UTPchat to lose momentum.

  • After 3 years, those who have been in UTP since the era of UTPchat and Grapevine (including me), noticed the change in UTP community life. Students, especially younger generations, live in their own microcommunity, not knowing others besides people in their class, people who they worked together in events. We, the earlier generation, noticed that UTP students, is slowly losing the quality which our seniors had in themselves. The environment in UTP, no longer have the aura it have several years ago. Learning from our experience, we conclude that, the loss of UTPchat and Grapevine, is one of the major reason this problem to happen.

  • Me, as one of the people who are in charge of UTPchat - and the person who have been working hard to maintain the intrastructure, decided that, I must do something, before I end my studies in UTP. UTPchat must be revived, if possible, as an entity which is approved by UTP, and managed in a proper way by a community. I don't want, after I left UTP, these communities and infrastructure will die together with the loss of me. Maintaining this IRC network is hard, and I can't find any new talents who I see as capable to succeed me - mainly because, the many new students, are hidden in their room/class, trying to score 4.0 CGPA.

  • What I'm requesting here are:

    • cooperation from UTP, for UTPchat, to be revived as an approved entity. I am willing to help with the technical matters, and resolve any issues which UTP might had with us during the previous era.

    • I want the large community UTP students, to be revived back, maybe not exactly like the previous era, but having a large community who knows each other, have benefits on its own. New students must know what they have been missing. Having knowing a lot of people (especially seniors) helps them too in the future. Theres a saying, "90% of the job market, is from the hidden world of social network". Having good grades, while it helps to make students pass the filters, could not beat the power of knowing people who work in the company.

    • An official cooperation from ITMS, for us to properly control and stop abusers. Also, some additional resource - namely, a subnet, which can be accessed from any villages easily, for us to put UTPchat server. This will reduce the complexity of UTPchat (from 5 servers , to only 1) and hopefully, I am able to find someone to succeed me. This server also, will be also be used to provide a facility, for growth of usage of Open Source technology in UTP.

I hope you will consider this request. Thank you.

Update - some additional message to Rector

Forgot to mention this, with my quest of reviving UTPchat as a proper medium of communication in UTP, I am putting together a document/plan for utilizing IRC protocol and Forums in a way that will be beneficial for students and also certain others like lecturers.

It is not yet complete as I still need time to gather ideas and information from several sources and put everything together. Currently I am on my internship and most of my time are focused for my current job. Nonetheless , there are still something there for you to refer to ..

Thank you

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fedora T-Shirt

A comrade of mine, ShahrimanSamsudin (Yondie), just signed the Fedora CLA and registered himself as the 4th Malaysian Fedora Ambassador. A big welcome for him. I hope this will encourage him more into contributing more to FedoraProject and help spreading Fedora and FOSS in Malaysia. I know I can't do this myself, as I'm more of a technical guy than a people-person. Hanafiah frequently MIA, Sharuzzaman with his translation projects.

Look what he got for us, also posted at his blog here:

For Malaysian readers of my blog, he is taking orders for those shirts. However, we are not sure about what the price to put yet. You can contact him about the T-Shirt through his blog or get his contact details here.

Fedora-MY, slowly trying to gain momentum. Hanafiah, where are you?? Sharuzzaman, hey, be on IRC once a while will ya? :P.

I will keep on advocating for users and trying to recruit more contributors from Malaysia.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Keep Fedora "less-moving" using yum-security plugin

Fedora updates repository moves very fast. A few months after the release of F8, hundreds of MBs of packages have been updated. Some people, especially those who came from the less-moving world of Debian and Ubuntu, might found this ridiculous. They are used to receiving only important updates during the stable lifecycle of a release and are not used to Fedora ways of going-forward and adding new enhancement and features to the stable release.

Sometimes, from that many updates, regression problem happened, which is fun to some, but annoying to the others. (I know someone who kept complaining about that - /me glares at a certain person @ #myoss )

I personally does not keep my stable Fedora installations up-to-date to the latest updates, and I hand-pick those packages which I think might have fixed some bugs which I'm encountering. Yes, some people find that tedious :).

For those weak-hearted who are not used to Fedora update release speed, you can opt to only update for security fixes using the yum-security plugin. For the other packages, "If its not broken, why update?". I have known this plugin exist since F7, but didn't really bother to try it, but yesterday I tried it and its awesome!. Yum-security plugin will automatically filter the updates to only security related updates for you.

Using it to update your system is easy, just 'yum install yum-security' and update using 'yum --security update'. More tricks in this Red Hat Magazine post.

This way, you can keep your Fedora installation with less moving parts for your production desktop/server use while keeping it secure.

Btw, looking @ yum-security code, and the updateinfo.xml.gz, it looks to me like its possible to also create a yum plugin to only pull packages which are bugfixes for reported bugs. Is such plugin already exist? I'm planning to look into the possibility, but I don't want to do a duplicate effort - furthermore, I am still not that confident with my ability to work with existing codes. IMO, this can be a good approach or airbag for users who are having trouble of too many updates from Fedora which randomly breaks their system. Users who only want bugfixes and security updates can reduce their updates through this type of filter, and (hopefully) reduce their risk of facing regression of enhancement updates. On the same time, new enhancements can still be continually added into the stable Fedora updates.

edit: fixed RH Mag link
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