2013-04-02 fighting

I saw a man get stabbed yesterday.

Not really. I saw some fighting, and then there was blood.

I was coming out of the bus tunnel and saw a parked police car. The cop was using the car loudspeaker, telling a big guy "You'll both go to jail!" The guy was yelling about somebody "all up on me!" He and I went around the corner at the same time. He was loudly talking about "motherfucker gonna stab me?!" I think now he had already been cut once at this point - he was showing his arm to people around him.

I walked on and passed a couple, a skinny man and a short stout woman, walking in the opposite direction. The woman was pulling on the Skinny's arm, while he said "Don't be pulling on my arm while I'm fighting."

I few steps later, I heard yelling behind me. I turned around to see Skinny and Big tussling. They both went to the ground, then Skinny jumped up and ran past me while Big got to his feet.

Then the blood started.

It looked like a garden hose, being turned on and off rhythmically. It spurted out of Big's bicep in two-foot long jets. He was smiling and walking while the people around him screamed. I went towards him, thinking how the coat I just got at Goodwill was going to be ruined by being wrapped around his arm.

Fortunately for my coat, somebody else got to him first and tied off his arm with a hoodie.

Why didn't Big tell the cop that Skinny had cut him?

Why did the cop ignore the situation once it was around the corner?

Why did Big go back to fight someone he knew was armed?

Why has everyone I told this story to today said it was scary? (Not for the stabbee - for me.)

2013-04-10 Keep an account with an alternate shell on FreeBSD!

Last week I lost access to the FreeBSD box that hosts this blog. I was updating over ssh in a tmux session with portupgrade -u -l -y -p. At one point I lost the connection, and when I logged back in tmux was gone. tmux had been updated, and my session was gone. Boldy, and stupidly, I started a new tmux session and soldiered on.

The next time my connection failed, I couldn't log back in. I could ping the machine, and telnet 22, but all of my log-in attempts were refused. I have physical access to the box (it's in my living room, as a matter of fact), but it's headless. Our house has two imacs, an ipad, an Android phone, an iphone, a thinkpad, and usually my work laptop - and no freestanding monitors.

So for the last week I've been glaring at that recalcitrant box in the corner, convinced I could log in if only I had a screen. I could have logged in blind with only a keyboard, but how to debug the ssh problem with no output? (Just now I realized I could have tried emailing myself /var/log/ Next time.)

Today I finally had time to drop by the thrift store and pick up a monitor. I meant to spend about $15 on the smallest thing I could find, but there was a nice 19" 4:5 (12"×15") ViewSonic for $30. Lovely! I got it home, plugged it in, and attempted to log in.

Nope. /usr/share/bin/bash is gone.

That's easy to take care of - I logged in as root and reinstalled bash. And that was the whole fix. I could ssh in again. But before I restarted portupgrade, or did anything else, it was time to make a new user: fb-noah (for "fallback"), a member of wheel, and with login shell /bin/sh.

I've heard of this before with root - 'never use a shell for root that's not in /bin!' - but it hadn't occured to me that the same could be a killer for user accounts. With nothing but ssh access, and no ssh as root, if you lose your shell you're locked out entirely. I was fortunate this machine was in my living room.