My Slashdotting story for the barcode page

Someone in Sweden saw the barcode scanner page around 2003/1/11, wrote a few sentences about it, and submitted it to slashdot.

Sending all the images on that page to the hundreds of requests per minute was too much for my little network and DSL connection. I replaced the page with the following text:

This used to be an interesting page about the barcode scanner door
entry system I built with Python and Linux. I posted this page
because I'd like to share my project with others. I've answered emails
giving people circuit diagrams, and I've had various online
discussions about my design decisions.

Now MC68040 and decide that it's time for me to
go down. They didn't ask me if they could link right to my DSL box
from slashdot; they didn't ask if I'd like to put up a mirror
somewhere else. Of the two of them, at least
michael-the-slashdot-editor should have seen that I'd be down in
minutes if he made a link.

I'd love to put this page back up, and maybe in several days I'll
remember to do so. If you're interested in interfacing Linux with
serial devices or electric door strikes, drop me an email at

Later I appended the following:
There's been confusion in the comments about whether I'm bitter about
something. The answer is yes: I'm bothered by the carelessness of the
editor who used his power to put a DDoS on me. He didn't break any
written rules, but he acted in a thoughtless way that inconvenienced
everyone who lives in my house *and* hundreds of slashdot readers.

In my view, linking is fine. Links that lead to lots of traffic are
fine. Slashdotting is fine, although I'm only equipped to show this
page to a few hundred people a day, not a few hundred a second.  But
make no mistake: the page is still accessible to anyone. Those of you
who were interested enough have written me friendly emails, and I've
sent you links to the new page url. I'm sure I'll be ready to put the
page back at this url very shortly too. I understand what it means to
host web pages, and I'll deal with problems as my resources allow.  As
far as I'm concerned, the big offense tonight was that an unfriendly
editor intentionally and knowingly swamped my house's network so no
one inside or out could use my net for much of anything.

Thank you to the commenters who wrote interesting discussion about my
project; intelligent responses to trolls; and other sympathetic
comments about my unfortunate fate today. Big 'no thanks' to those of
you who complained about my site being down; accused me of having a
bad attitude; or otherwise tried to upset me this evening.

-Drew (slashdot user #49291)

By 2003/1/13 the traffic had appeared to die down enough that I put the page back. The alternate text had been up for about two days, and I received about 400 emails. About 5 of them were little mean flames; some were trivial requests for the new url; and the majority were friendly comments about my situation with slashdot and the home automation project itself.

I answered them in batches of about 100, sending a form letter with a link to the moved page plus some personal replies to the more specific questions that people were asking. I answered 352 people that way. Not surprisingly, some addresses bounced. If you never heard back from me at all, that's surely what happened to your mail.

I also received some phone calls and emails from people I hadn't talked to in a while, which was a nice side-effect of getting listed on slashdot.

Other points that came up this weekend:

  • The barcode-controlled door strike was a large security increase for the house because my roommates used to leave the door unlocked all the time for their guests to get in. Issues about how easy it is to photocopy a barcode are irrelevant to my main goal, which was "make it so the door's locked any more often than it used to be".
  • Getting slashdotted didn't stop me from getting in the house that night. It took about .5 seconds for my card to be acknowledged. A power outage would disable the strike and reader, although the computers are on battery backup. Yes, all the housemates can still use their keys if they want to.
  • The story submitter wrote to me on his own, and after a brief discussion, I think we both understand each other. I believe he'll communicate a little better with website owners in the future.
  • No one from slashdot has written to me yet (2003/1/13), although I can see that some of the encouragement emails I got were cc'd to Other people mailed me with similar stories about the slashdot staff behaving inconsiderately in the past. From what I can tell, slashdot doesn't have much of a reason to change their ways, and I expect plenty more people's evenings to be wasted (or ISP bills to be increased) just like mine. In fact, one reason I didn't put up a mirror and transparently point everyone to it is that I wanted the effect of the slashdot staff's actions to get noticed by the slashdot readers.
  • Incidentally, this weekend I made my first post to slashdot in over a year. It describes itself pretty well on the comment page here. After reading some of the well-reasoned slashdot sucks sites (I forget which ones now), I noticed that I wasn't getting what I paid for with the time I spent reading slashdot. So I never look at it anymore. I still have plenty of ways I hear about news that's interesting to me, and I still get to hear some different points of view on various issues. FYI, I subscribe to Scientific American and Wired and enjoy them both (this is not to say that they're my only news source).

My email address is I have other things to do, but I'm happy to clarify or talk more about anything you see on this page.