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Andrey Mikhalchuk’s Blog

Technoblog about life

Dec 16, 2012 A few thoughts about gun control

Yesterday a horrible tragedy happened in Connecticut. A mentally sick person* stormed into a school and killed 26 people including 20 children. 24 hours later Internet is full of rage and petitions to ban guns, tighten gun control etc. I’m not a pro- or against- gun. I’m pro-logic, pro-thinking and pro-safety. I want my kids to be safe at schools and I’m worrying that this “ban all guns” histeria will make life in the US way less safe even than it is now. So let me express a few thoughts about all this.

The first reaction of many people to this situation is “let’s ban the guns”. Well can all guns in the US be banned at all? Just in theory, is it possible to take away guns from 88% of 315mil of the US population? Of course not. Many of these millions of guns will remain in the country but will only be accessible to criminals, not those who obey the law.

How about prohibiting concealed weapon carry. That should fix the problem, right? Well, do criminals or mentally sick people care about this? Nope. Guns are already prohibited in schools and cinema theaters, still tragedies like the ones in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CN happend.

So what should be done to stop this mass sooting from happening? Well, if you look at all the cases they had the same scenario: a heavily armed bastard goes to a place where nobody can defend themselves against firearms and shoots totally helpless people like on a shooting range.

There always be crazy people around us and there will be guns, knives and other items that can take lives. And tightening gun control laws will leave all those who obey the law even less protected from the madmen. Criminals and mentally sick people will not be affected by these laws.

So what could really solve the problem? Well, I have children and saw quite a few schools. With no exception all these schools are totally not ready for situations like the one in Newtown. Virtually anyone can crash into a school either thru a window or a wall (on a truck) and all people inside will have nothing to defend themselves against single armed person. For some reason (I guess financial reasons primarily) our schools do not have any armed security that would delay, if not stop such intruder. Neither do cinema theaters, BTW. What would really save those children is an armed policeman in every single school.

There are 248,000 public schools in the US. To pay 248,000 policemen their annual salary at least 248,000 * $60000 = $17bln is necessary. I’m not sure if this is realistic in a country that spent a lot of its economical power on two wars and real estate gambling. Also this won’t cover cinema theaters, universities and colleagues and other public places.

If you’re following the news you know about heroism of school staff. They tried to stop the bastard and five of them died protecting children. They were not able to do anything going with bare hands against a gunmen with 4 handguns. My question is WHY ON EARTH THEY WERE NOT ARMED? The US gun laws allow crazy people to get guns to kill people, but prevent people from protecting themselves where they are most vulnerable. This is why all these madmen go to schools and cinemas, they know there is no armed people who can withstand them. This is why they can keep killing until they run out of ammo, not until a bullet would stop them.

As controversially as it sounds loosening the gun control laws would help more in this situation. The solution is not just removing arms from wrong hands, but also putting them in right hands. There should be guns in every school accessible to limited number of staff like principal and assistant principal. Same relates to colleague teachers. Allowing guns for all people in Cinemas is probably a bad idea because besides crazy people there are stupid people who would bring a loaded gun that can shoot accidentally. But people with proper training should be allowed to bring a gun to cinemas and other public places and allowed to defend themselves and people around them. Former police officers, gun owners who own guns for more than 10 years and have impeccable record, retired military officers are all good candidates for protecting civilians in public places.

It is difficult to be not emotional after tragedies like this one. After Virginia Tech, Aurora and Newtown it is obvious that the current laws are wrong and need to be corrected. But these tragedies could not be prevented by cheap and populistic “ban all guns” laws. Only well-thought decisions would make the world around us safer, no matter how controversial they are.

And a few more thoughts:
– It’s time to re-think what was done to fortify schools in the last few years. It looks like people who invented all these buzzers, locked doors and windows on the first floor behind bars never saw schools. Buzzers do not stop intruders, they will just wait for someone buzzed in and go in along with that person. This is happening everywhere all the time. Or they will knock out the door. Or run into a school on a car. And at this point all those bars on windows and locked doors will trap everyone inside and leave one-on-one with a gunmen with no ways to defend themselves.
– It might be a coincidence, but the number of mass-shootings increased with the power of modern game consoles and first-person view shooting games becoming more realistic. Those games are so good in simulating kills that they erase border between virtual and real. This coincidence should be carefully analyzed and we should be more careful about what kind of games should get into people’s hands.

* At the moment there is no clear evidence if this person was mentally ill from medical prospective, but nobody in right mind would do anything like what this person did. Clearly he was mentally sick as well as all other people who do or can do anything like that.

PS. I’m not too crazy about guns, and I’d love to have none. I’m also not paid by NRA and not even a member of it. But as long as there are arms in hands of criminals I’ll be armed and do what I can to defend my right to defend my family.

PPS. And in the end are a few words from a wise man:

gun control

gun control

Dec 13, 2012 Moving Oracle BAM reports between environments

Recently I was in need to move Oracle BAM configuration from one environment to another. Here are a few helpful commands:

On the source machine

> locate icommand # where icommand lives depends on your installation. Make sure find-utils are installed and updatedb had been ran.

This will export your report
> <path_to_icommand>/icommand -CMD EXPORT -NAME “<path_to_report>” -TYPE report -file /tmp/<filename>.xml -USERNAME weblogic

This will export your data objects (both layout and contents). Again, some hint from icommand:
Data Object: “/Samples/Call Center”

> <path_to_icommand>/icommand -CMD EXPORT -NAME "<path_to_data_object>" -file /tmp/<filename>.xml -USERNAME weblogic

Similarly you can export alerts.

On the target machine

> <path_to_icommand>/icommand -CMD IMPORT -file /tmp/<filename>.xml

That’s it folks!

Dec 11, 2012 Surprised why X11 forwarding no longer works with MacOS. Here is the solution.

I actually ran into this problem after upgrading to Mountain Lion )(I think Lion has the same issue) and trying to run xterm on remote machine using ssh tunneling. No matter what I did the command always failed with

Warning: This program is an suid-root program or is being run by the root user.
The full text of the error or warning message cannot be safely formatted
in this environment. You may get a more descriptive message by running the
program as a non-root user or by removing the suid bit on the executable.
xterm Xt error: Can't open display: %s
xterm: DISPLAY is not set

(Well the “Can’t open display %s” only appeared because I did a terrible thing: ssh as root, anyway …)

I even installed xserver with macports, but that also didn’t help. So here is the solution …

Read More

Dec 9, 2012 Verizon blocks port 25. Wow!

I have just spent several hours narrowing down the problem, 30 useless minutes with someone in Verizon chat support and 20 min on the phone line. All the time was wasted just to find out that Verizon is blocking outgoing connections to port 25. That basically means that you can’t use your own mail servers for sending emails using plain (E)SMTP. The only unblocked server is

In fact many ISPs do that in order to fight spamming, but after years of not having this problem with Comcast that was kind of unpleasant surprise.

In my case I needed the external mail server for my webcams (I have whole bunch of them providing security at my place). Fortunately Foscams I use support alternative ports, so I just opened my mail server on an alternative port and reconfigured the webcams. If you’re using postfix, just drop this into /etc/
inet n – n – – smtpd

restart the postfix, patch your firewall if necessary

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