Stop receiving junk mail

The average American home receives 1.5 trees in their mailbox every year in the form of unsolicited mail. Yep, and that is not all we are throwing away. The junk mail steals your most valuable asset: your attention. The US Postal Service is a spammer. They even sell your address information when you complete a change of address form! We need to do something to stop the greatest spammer and blocker of innovation the world has ever known.

To recap, three good reasons: 1. save the trees 2. recover your time and attention 3. stop the spammer juggernaut. Get your dog in the fight by stopping the mail.

How to stop the junk mail

  1. Notify agencies that create and manage meta lists. These are usually industry groups and consortiums that member companies use to either purchase customer lists or filter on black lists (listed below). This process can take weeks for the data to propagate
  2. Contact senders directly via website, email or phone and tell them to stop. This is a tedious process that a service like Outbox would have made simple. Time and persistance needed, so stay on target (1. save the trees 2. recover your attention 3. stop the evil spammers).

Coupon mailers

Credit Card offers

  • Stop credit card offers – the 3 agencies that track your credit info have created one site to allow folks to get it done.

Catalogs, magazines and misc.

  • Direct Marketing Association’s Choice site represents 3,000+ direct marketers. They maintain opt-out lists their members are expected to filter on. They allow you to set preferences for Catalogs, Magazine Offers and “Other Mail Offers”.
  • provides a service to remove you from junk lists. They even have some “environment impact” information that shows the impact they have had on the environment–900,000+ trees saved so far! I tried to find some of the catalogs I have been receiving, but they weren’t much help because I had to go directly to the catalog company to remove myself.


Designate, DNS for Openstack Sessions in Atlanta

In collaboration with RedHat, HP, and eBay, our Rackspace team will either be presenting, facilitating, assisting or attending the following sessions:

  1. Tues 12:05 to 12:45 - Designate Juno Design Summit (listed as part of the alternative Juno Summit Schedule)
  2. Tues 2:50 to 6:10 - Open Source Community Project: Designate Design Session
  3. Thurs 11 to 11:40 - Designate: Deep Dive for Operators/Deployers
  4. Thurs 1:30 to 3 – Interactive Workshop: Install and Operate Designate

Favorite Dig Commands for DNS

Dig is an essential tool for working with DNS. It allows you to understand what the ‘internets’ knows about connecting your domains to your servers/IPs. It is also much more robust than the deprecated nslookup.

List A, NS, MX, SOA for a zone:
dig ANY

You make the same request as above but with a cleaner response by disabling all feedback (+noall) then enable specific sections (+answer). The +nocmd will stop reprinting the question you asked. The +multiline will display the SOA record in a more human readable format:
dig +nocmd any +multiline +noall +answer

Query a specific name server for it’s records:
dig MX

If you want to see the entire record (you need special permissions from your DNS server):
dig -tAXFR

DNS Vocabulary 1


  • Domain
  • Zone
  • Record
  • Caching
  • TTL
  • Unicast
  • Servers
  • Resolvers
  • Authoritative Name Server
  • Recursive Resolver – A Domain Name Server is a server configured to find the SOA of a domain of an IP.
  • Resolution
  • Root
  • Root Nameservers – 13 servers that track the IPs of the top level zones, such as com, org, uk, gov, us.
  • Top Level Domain (TLD)
  • Root Hints File – contains the names and IP addresses of the root zone
  • Root Zone File – contains references to all TLD name servers
  • Root Trust Anchor – or Key Signing Key, is used by DNSSEC-enabled software to verify the contents of the DNS root zone is valid. It additionally enables a single chain of trust to DNSSEC-enabled top-level domains and beyond.
  • .ARPA – The .arpa domain is used internally by Internet protocols, such as for reverse mapping of IP addresses, and delivery of ENUM phone number mapping. IANA administers this domain in close liaison with the Internet Architecture Board, which has policy responsibility for .arpa.
  • IDN Practices Repository – documents the permissable characters for different languages and scripts provided for registration by different top-level domain registries. The repository is informative, and designed for information sharing.
  • Resource Record (RR)
  • Class
  • Type


  • Header
  • Question
  • Answer
  • Authority
  • Additional





  • RFC-952, RFC-953 – Describe the ‘original’ DNS system which was a single ‘HOSTS.TXT’ file that mapped host names (human readable names) to IP addresses. The file was maintained by Network Information Center (NIC) and was downloaded by clients to resolve names.
  • RFC 1034 – First DNS RFC, written November 1987,
  • RFC 1035 – Followup to 1035 describes the basic implementation details of DNS. Details include reference implementations, types (A, CNAME, NS, TXT, SOA, etc.), message format


  • IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) – IANA is responsible for the operation and maintenance of a number of key aspects of the DNS, including the root zone, and the .int and .arpa domains.

Record types

  • DNAME – DNAME record creates an alias for an entire subtree of the domain name tree. In contrast, the CNAME record creates an alias for a single name and not its subdomains.

Root Trust Anchors Advanced technologies

Linux wireless card driver install

Ensure you have gcc build packages:

sudo apt-get install gcc build-essential

Build and install the packages from within the directory with “Makefile”:

sudo make
sudo make install
sudo modprobe 'drivername'

Other Commands

  • ifconfig: Enable your wireless device.
  • iwlist: List the available wireless access points.
  • iwconfig: Configure your wireless connection.

Handy Linux Admin Commands

Permissions Management

  • ls -al – list all contents of a directory along with permissions
  • chmod a+x program.rb – makes script “program.rb” executable (x) by all (a) users
  • chown user:group filename – changes the owner and group of “filename”
  • chgrp -R users home/ – assigns directory “home/” and contents to group “users”
  • cat /etc/passwd – shows all users on a system
  • cat /etc/group – shows all groups on a system

Disk space

  • du -h – lists all child file names/sizes (careful, this can list every file on your computer if you execute while in “/”)
  • df -h – prints used/available disk space on drives


This rsync command is useful for running backups.

  • -P will keep partially copied files if there is a connection break (useful for large files) and show you the progress of the transfer
  • -a is archive mode, which includes options -rlptgoD. This does a great job of copying files and directories over so that if you restore them, all permissions, owners, modification times and more are preserved.
  • -v is more verbose. I just like to know what is going on.
  • -h outputs numbers in a human readable format

rsync -Pavh --stats /path/to/source/ /path/to/destination

There is a --daemon option worth checking out too.

Setup a Minecraft Multiplayer Server on the Rackspace Cloud with Ubuntu

Using a Rackspace Cloud server is a cheap, easy and fast way to setup a Minecraft multiplayer experience. The server size I use only costs $.03 an hour which works out to around $20 a month. This mini setup guide will take you about 10 minutes to an hour depending on how comfortable you are with the command line.


  • Setup a Rackspace Cloud Account if you don’t already have one. You should have Cloud Servers enabled.
  • An SSH client. On windows, use Putty. For Linux or Mac OSX, use the command line tool called ‘ssh’. On Ubuntu/Debian, you can easily type ‘sudo apt-get install ssh’.

Create your cloud server

This is the standard method for creating a basic Rackspace Cloud server.

  • Login to the Control Panel
  • Click Hosting > Cloud servers
  • Click ‘Add Server’ then click ‘select’ next to ‘Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal)’
  • On the next page (Server Configuration) set the server name to ‘minecraft’ and your server size to at least 512MB/40GB.
  • Click ‘Create Server’
  • Copy the root password and store it some place safe. Close the window that popped up.
  • You are now on the server details page. Under the sub-heading ‘Technical Details’, copy the IP address.

Server setup basics

You will need to install some software before you can begin. On windows, use Putty to create a new connection to your server, entering username, password and IP. If you are using linux/Mac, enter the following into a command prompt, followed by your password when prompted:

ssh root@[yourServerIP]

Install Sun Java

This line will allow us to use command line tools to update the source repositories. If you are not root, you will need to add ‘sudo’ to the beginning of each command.

apt-get install --reinstall python-software-properties
dpkg-reconfigure python-software-properties

Add the repository that contains our sun java package.

add-apt-repository "deb lucid partner"
apt-get update

Begin the java installation. Accept all the defaults by pressing [enter]. You need to also accept Oracle/Sun’s license agreements, it will be a blue/white screen.

apt-get install sun-java6-jre

Test to ensure a successful installation:

java -version

The response to this command should be similar to the following:

java version "1.6.0_26"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_26-b03)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 20.1-b02, mixed mode)

Install Screen

Screen is a tool that allows you to keep your Minecraft multiplayer server running without having to stay logged into the server.

apt-get install screen

Setup Your Minecraft user

For security purposes, you should setup a different user that will actually run the Minecraft server. Type the following. When prompted, enter your password and accept all other defaults by pressing [enter].

adduser minecraft

Finally, log out of your root account:


Setup the Minecraft server

Login as the [minecraft] user you created in the prior step.

SSH into your server using the Minecraft user you created in the previous step. With Windows Putty, simply create a new connection and insert your username/password/IP. In linux/MacOSX, type the following from a command prompt:

ssh minecraft@[yourIPAddress]

Download and Unpack Minecraft

Download the minecraft server using the linux tool ‘wget’.


Run the server with screen

screen -dmS minecraft java -Xms256M -Xmx512M -jar minecraft_server.jar nogui

If you get no errors, than your server is now starting up. It should take about 15 to 30 seconds to finish generating worlds and finish starting-up. To check on it, use screen to see how it is progressing:

screen -r minecraft

If you see the following, your server is now ready to use:

'2011-11-25 17:49:46 [INFO] Done (9753734653ns)! For help, type "help" or "?"

Since the server is now running, detach from your screen session by pressing [control]-[a]. Type the letter [d] and hit [enter].

Now, open minecraft on your home computer and craete a new multiplayer server. Use the IP address of your server. Enjoy! Remember, the Minecraft multiplayer version must match the Minecraft client installed on your home computer.