DIY DDNS

For those of us on cable or DSL who are slightly too cheap to pay for a static IP, dynamic DNS services are really useful. My DD-WRT based router knows how to talk to dynamic DNS providers, so setting it up is really easy.

I’ve tried both DynDNS and No-IP, and while they work quite well they’re kind of annoying. They really want me to sign up for a premium service, after all that’s how they make money. As a result I need to periodically visit web pages to confirm that I’m using an address or pay a fee. It’s not a big fee, but I’m already paying someone, DreamHost to host DNS for me, and they’ve got an API

So I threw together a little script that implements the DynDNS API and modifies your own DNS zones using the DreamHost API. You can get it from here:
https://github.com/ianloic/dreamhost-ddns

The setup instructions are included in the README. Hopefully they’re pretty self-evident, but they are written from the perspective of someone who ran their own DNS servers (primary and secondary) for ten years.

Ikea obeys local labor laws, how outrageous

The LA Times wrote an article that was later picked up by a bunch of blogs about an Ikea factory in Virginia that pays workers minimum wage, gives them minimal vacation and tries to prevent them unionizing.

Laborers in Swedwood plants in Sweden produce bookcases and tables similar to those manufactured in Danville. The big difference is that the Europeans enjoy a minimum wage of about $19 an hour and a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. Full-time employees in Danville start at $8 an hour with 12 vacation days — eight of them on dates determined by the company.

I find it somewhere between sad and funny that instead of arguing for improvements in US labor laws the LA Times and the usual left-libertarian blogs complain about a company maximizing profit within the legal constraints imposed by the society. If we want better working conditions we need to make it part of the political discourse, not just whine about companies following the law.

Donna Dubinsky struggled to get individual health insurance (NYTimes)

The new health care reform legislation is not perfect. Nothing that complex could be. But I have no doubt that the system is broken and reform is absolutely essential. If we are not going to have universal coverage but are going to rely on employer plans, then we must offer individuals, self-employed people and small businesses a place to purchase insurance at a reasonable price.

via Money Won’t Buy You Health Insurance – NYTimes.com.

This is ultimately my big problem with the healthcare situation in the US. I’m sorry that poor people don’t have access to healthcare, but they don’t have access to healthcare in much of the world. The fact that successful, wealthy people don’t have access to affordable healthcare is ridiculous and unusual.

Eat More Lard!

By any estimation, lard is a healthier fat than butter. Gram for gram, it contains 20% less saturated fat, and it’s higher in the monounsaturated fats which seem to lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and raise HDL (the “good”). It’s one of nature’s best sources of vitamin D. Unlike shortening it contains no trans fats, probably the most dangerous fats of all.

via Consider lard | Life and style | guardian.co.uk.

Looking for a present for your Valentine?

This item is one of the more disturbing objects in Henry Wellcome’s collection. A ‘Scold’s bridle’ is a fearsome looking mask which fits tightly on to the head. A scold was defined as a “rude, clamorous woman”. The bridle was used as a punishment for women considered to be spending too much time gossiping or quarrelling. Time spent in the bridle was normally allocated as a punishment by a local magistrate. The custom developed in Britain in the 1500s, and spread to some other European countries, including Germany. When wearing the mask it was impossible to speak. This example has a bell on top to draw even more attention to the wearer, increasing their humiliation. It was used until the early 1800s as a punishment in workhouses.

via Scold’s bridle, Germany, 1550-1800.

A Modest Proposal regarding littering and the homeless

In SFist I read that Scott Weiner, my district supervisor wants to give our San Francisco homeless brethren food stamps instead of cash when they bring bottles and cans in for recycling. I think he’s thinking about it all wrong. What we should do is deputize all of our homeless so that they can issue littering fines. Pay them a small percentage of the fine as a bounty. Give them cheap video recorders to collect the evidence. It would solve our littering enforcement problem and help address the poverty of some of the poorest members of our society.

The Julie Project – moving story of a mother, drug addict and AIDS sufferer

I first met Julie on February 28, 1993. Julie, 18, stood in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel, barefoot, pants unzipped, and an 8 day-old infant in her arms. She lived in San Francisco’s SRO district, a neighborhood of soup kitchens and cheap rooms. Her room was piled with clothes, overfull ashtrays and trash. She lived with Jack, father of her first baby Rachael, and who had given her AIDS. She left him months later to stop using drugs.

via Darcy Padilla | The Julie Project.

Cracking scratch lottery with statistics

“People often assume that I must be some extremely moral person because I didn’t take advantage of the lottery,” he says. “I can assure you that that’s not the case. I’d simply done the math and concluded that beating the game wasn’t worth my time.”

via Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code | Magazine.

A really interesting story about the mathematical weaknesses of common scratch lottery tickets.