Friday, 27 May 2011

Google's Blogger Service is Broken

Since about 2011/05/22 google's "Blogger" service (where this blog is hosted) has been experiencing serious problems. You can see a list of increasingly irate people here . It's a weird fault that hits different people in different ways. Some can't log in, some can't log out, some can log in but can't post.

I've not been as heavily affected as some, I can still log in to the website and post to my blog. However, I can't use the 'blogger api' to post from applications. Other people using blogging applications like MacJournal or ScribeFire are having the same problem.

The amazing thing is how long it's taking google to fix this, days. Also it seems to me (though I may be wrong) that this is linked to a recent decision by google to turn on 'Spam Checking' on everyone's blog comments. They didn't ask us if we wanted this turned on, they didn't suggest we turn it on, they just went and turned it on for us. They did this a while back with 'google buzz', turning it on and in the process revealing users gmail contacts to the whole world. I conclude from this (assuming I'm right about the cause) that google learns nothing from history.

But there's a bigger issue there. We're told that everything is moving into 'the cloud', that big competent companies will 'look after our data' and make thing effortless for us. You know, big competent companies like BP, or Toyota, or Enron, or Sony, or Google, or any bank, or...

These big companies aren't exactly covering themselves with glory these days. Would you really trust them with your business critical data?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Things I wish people had told me about 1: Bind Mounts

Stuff I wish people had told me about No. 1

Bind Mounts

Quite often I find myself wanting to run processes in a chroot. This is especially true for file services being served up by ftp or http. Unfortunately I often find that files I want people to get access to are outside the directory that I want to chroot them into.

Now, symbolic links won't work across chroot, and though you can use a hard-link to make files individually available within a chroot, it becomes a lot of work for a lot of files.

Just recently though, I discovered that you can do this:

mkdir /home/PublicData
mount --bind /home/PublicData /home/chroot/PublicData

These 'bind mounts' allow you to 'mount' a directory onto another directory. So, you create an empty directory with a particular name, then call the mount command to mount another directory onto your empty directory, so that when people enter the 'empty' directory, they are teleported to the other directory.

This means that you can choose which directories to make available to people who are in some kind of chroot jail. Very useful!

I wish someone had told me about this earlier.