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My Christmas

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

..wasn’t too eventful but also had a few non-xmas related good points. Sunday my dad informs me that my aunt is coming for the festivities, not really enough time to order a present and I’m certainly not braving the hideousness of christmas shopping IRL. Was working xmas eve although we got sent home early (there was an issue with part of the system but that got sorted by about 3). Christmas day woke up late morning, pottered around. Rest of the day a little hazy, mostly a bit of clearing up and film watching. Ah yes, watched ‘Southland Tales’ the new Richard Kelly film – review to follow – and some more ST – TNG episodes. Half-way through season 7 and some I hadn’t seen before! Received a two-part present from father. The smaller part looked and felt like a memory card blister pack and turned out to be exactly that. Even worse, it was a Fuji xD card, incompatible with pretty much everything else I have (except possibly the card reader in my laptop). I do actually have 3 working digital cameras (alright, one is off to be fixed and I can’t find the confirmation letter for getting it back) so having another one didn’t really appeal… So I open the box and its a Fuji finepix 5200 (?) semi-slr-style: 7Mp, max 1600asa, ~40mm lens, 4AA batteries. Approx 170 from Argos… Being in a position where I am able to buy most things I need and being a tech geek make buying presents for me quite difficult, although now the question my dad asked about photographing his air rifles for insurance purposes now makes more sense. If I was going to buy another digital camera, it would be a pro one with interchangable lenses, not one that cost less than my “fine for snapshots as long as you’re not too far away if it’s dark” Sony DSC-T7 with waterproof (and beer-proof!) case. So I was quite disappointed and frustrated (hasnt he learnt yet???) and went down to express this. It may be perfectly good to have an answer of “Well you didn’t say what you wanted”, yet a better plan would be to actually ask me and give me a budget! (price range, you get the idea). No present from my aunt, although can give her the same idea and then get something useful. I’m thinking an SE Reflexion filter and a new pair of overhead mic’s… So that was the disappointment that was my Christmas day. Boxing day however went a bit better. Although I did spend most of the norning in bed, I did manage to sort out some recording with my new Variax300 steel string guitar (my present to myself) before I packed it up to be replaced because when it arrived it had quite a few unsightly dents and I had to reseat the pickup as the low-E was quieter than the others. So then I fire up Nuendo and a song I’d started working on a few months ago, add an instance of EZ Drummer and change the bass to use a local Trilogy sound instead of a slaved GigaStudio one, record a bit with the variax and it all sits together rather well, even without EQ or additional processing! Also added a simple guitar line using my electric and Guitar Rig 2 then a vocal melody after putting the (deja vu moment while writing this!) bow-tie shaped auralex foam thing behind the mic, leaving me with a very clean, very dry vocal sound with no hint of room colouration! Oh how long it has been that I have wanted to hear it like that! :o ) Then all of a sudden I got this smell of burning and rushed down to the kitchen to turn off whatever my dad had set fire to now… Couldn’t see anything burning there but the hallway was still filling with smoke! Then what makes itself known is a wad of burning paper behind the cordless phone that my dear father has just relaced in its holder. He thinks it’s the phone that has caught fire (don’t be silly!) yet I think it was probably the end of his cigarette that looks like it had just fallen out… After that was the end of recording as it’d got me quite wound up. So, onto other things. After nearly a couple of hours of heqd scratching and finding various pieces of outdated software, I finally managed to reload my T1 keyboard with its factory sounds after last changing the battery when it went flat and initialised. It has been a few months for that so I was rather happy to say the least. Now if I could find a floppy disk with my sound banks on that’d be even better! :o ) Oh, oaid my overdue council tax, have to wait to get a pair of 24″ flatscreens , which is now possible with having the free space from getting the new 12u equipment rack installed last weekend. Maybe the late-night coffee wasn’t such a good idea after all, as I had trouble sleeping, although I did wake up from a dream about a dried-up swimming pool with a fantastic idea for a live action video game. But that is an ifea yet to occur… ;-)

Thanks for the memory…

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

So last night when I got home I had a couple of packages waiting for me. One contained a 128Mb gamecube memory card, essentially for my Wii. So now there’s somewhere for those N64 saves of Mario64 to go. The other was another order from which contained a 1Gb SD card, also for the Wii (now there are extra channel and save spaces), a ‘real’ 8Gb MS Pro Duo for my PSP (after the palaver that has been me trying other methods, ending up with a fake card off of ebay and more recently the 8Gb MicroSD with adaptor that none of my Sony devices recognise) that I should just have got in the first place. Then last but hopefully not least, a standard size SD adaptor for the fore-mentioned MicroSD card, which hopefully will be supported by my Treo after I amend the now-custom firmware with the SDHC patch…

To whom it may concern…

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

I must say I’ve really (not!) enjoyed having to restore both my home and hosted servers from backups as you broke them so they wouldn’t even reboot, with your little irc bouncers (psybnc). I must admit that if not completely gaining root access then being able to write into /etc and the crontab on a machine that had only a single html page apache (ok with cacti for monitoring and php to run that) is quite impressive. Of course, having to spend the late nights and visiting my hosting centre to find out that the startup scripts are so royally hosed I have to replace them is something that I always look forward to (notice the scathing sarcasm) and so if I ever find who you are I will happily bring you a world of pain. I’m assuming the latvian ip address is that which you were connecting from and, for what it’s worth, I shall make the appropriate noises to your ISP. What I would really really like to know is that is it really going to be neccessary to harden every apache server in the world, just to stop you having your moments of fun?!

Skins series 1

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

This I first heard about when the initial trailers apeared on Channel 4 at time of first broadcast. Yet at the time I didn’t get to see it. More recently I think it was repeated and with the power of my PVR I got to see what I later found out was episode 3… About 3 weeks ago I was having a lovely walk around Crystal Palace Park with a friend who was telling me, among other things, how great she thought the series was and how it reminded of her time at Uni. in Bristol, where the series is set. So, what it’s about is a group of teenage friends going to college ( the 6th form type) in Bristol and what they get up to. I would say its the most realistic portrayl of modern family life I”ve seen, with the acting, presence and general underlying helplessness of modern society giving me at least the impression of a drama that should win awards… It may be a drama about teenagers, yet it is certainly no ‘teen drama’ in the slick american sense. Sex, drugs and Drum&Bass are what populate this world. What quite surprised me, having seen previously only one episode, was that while the younger cast are all (?) unknowns, those playing the parents are all pretty well known – Harry Enfield, Josie Lawrence, Neil Morrisey – with them playing obviously not strictly comedic roles, but bringing that quality to the screen of all the reasons why, as teenagers, we often find our parents embarassing… Which in this case adds to the quality of the production (as in comedians can do really well in serious roles). So what have we learnt from the series? Well… Teenagers arent stupid – not just for the acting, but the pretty believable characters too – we all have our problems and we cant always deal with them on our own.. Never trust the tall good-looking ones, they’ll always fuck you about, whereas the small, funny looking ones may surprise you… :o ) There is alleggedly a second series coming (soon), which I shall definitely set my PVR on repeat series for.
So thanks for the tip, J. :o ) x


Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

So today I had occasion to visit WH Smiths in Liverpool St.
I go in, down to the end to find the latest X-Men special, and this ‘security’ guard comes over and says “You have to take off your hat”, I say “Why?”, he says “Security”.
So I think “whatever”, go round to where the music magazines are, put my hat back on, pick up the latest 200AD and wander off towards the tills.
Bloke stands in front of me again, saying “I asked you to take it off”, I said again “Why?”, he says, “It’s for security. We have to see your face for the CCTV”, I say “But that’s just stupid!”.
Am flabbergasted at the apparent inanity and a bit pissed off.
Take off my furry hat again as I can’t be bothered to argue (although I’m in the mood for it), then see another 5 people with hats on my way to the tills. I bet he never asked any of them!
So basically I am being discriminated against because I’m wearing a warm furry hat. Where next? Not letting in black people because statistically they may be more likely to offend?
Not letting in eastern europeans because they may be low-paid migrant workers and not have the money?!
It’s preposterous and probably illegal in some way (if anyone knows, let me know!)
If they think that they need to see my face, then the implication is that if I’m wearing a hat that I would be more likely to be someone who would want to steal from the establishment. Is that really the impression they want to give their customers?
That you can only come in if you remove your headgear (whatever it may be), otherwise you’re likely to be a thief! I ask you! If find that very offensive.
Casting aspersions on my character indeed! I may have to demand an apology. Proper spoilt my evening that did.
Mind you, they probably thought I was a teenager too, which wouldn’t have helped either way.
Small person, big coat, big hat.
I shall look up their customer service address and complain!

feisty upgrade broke my system!

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

in attempting to see whether having the newest versions of cups & avahi I discovered that my home server was still running dapper and not edgy as I’d thought. So I dist-upgraded to edgy and found the vncserver wouldn’t start automatically. Fixed that by adding the changed fontpath in vnc.conf. Next I thought I’d go for the newest and dist-upgrade to feisty (for some reason update-manager wouldn’t recognise the existence of a new version. So I get through the update and all looks to be running fine, then I reboot to make sure the vncserver still comes up and it all stops working… For some reason I thought it would be a good idea, when reinstalling the machine itself from slack7.1 to xubuntu, to go with reiser as a boot partition. At this point it should be noted that the boot drive is a 9G scsi attached to a 29160 as then I could use the ide channels for software raid5. After rebooting the system I had apparent reiserfs filesystem errors so attempted to repsir them using the given tools, yet after 3 periods of sitting through –tree-rebuild I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere… My next bright idea was to boot with a knoppix disk, image the partion for safety (and tar up the filesystem with the preserve flag), so I could reformat the drive as ext3 and put back the files as they were and hopefully boot that way. This worked to a certain extent, except now I was getting Grub error 17 which is apparently when the partition type ID is not what is expected. So I tried installing ubuntu 7.04 fresh to solve that, no joy (then I copied my tar file back over that install). What I’ve discovered is this: * During the edgy -> feisty upgrade, the raw (standard) device names have been replaced by UUID entries (mapped in and the move to everything as a scsi device what *was* my primary scsi boot device of sda is now not, as hd(a-d) are now also sd* devices. This now (partly) explains why one of my raid5 stripes seems to think that it has a member that is 8Gb and reiserfs as opposed to 300Gb (I’m running lvm2 over raid5 – md0+md1 -> lvm0 which is about 800Gb), in fact finding both my lvm partition and the 300Gb spare partition showing as 7Gb and empty is a bit scary, but that’s for a bit later…
This change in device types (hd to sd) also explains why grub-install (tried to fix the error 17) no longer works, as the device it points to is not the same physical device as defined in the map file! That was Friday, this is tuesday… So Saturday I got it all figured out. All drives now go through a scsi emulation layer, however with a mixture of native scsi and ide devices, things got a little remapped. When I connected (what was) hda, sda stayed as sda, yet when I connected (what were) hdc & hdd, sda became sdd with the ide drives (the raid array) becoming sda-c with the cdrom (previously hdb) becoming sg0. So this explains all the confusion. What I eventually figured out after a bit of head scratching was that booting with an ubuntu cd would let me set up grub to boot from that drive (3 lines :o ) ), and mounting sdd1 would let me change the fstab and so get the machine to boot again! So the initial problem may not have been with the actual reiser filesystem, but the fact that the partition that had become sda1 wasn’t reiserfs at all… Next problem was that /dev/md0 & md1 were now remapped to /dev/md/0 & 1 so commenting out the entries in /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf was neccessary. The raid arrays themselves seemed to be pretty much ok, because of persistent superblocks, although md0 needed rebuilding because of its identity crisis regarding the drive, or more correctly the filesystem, that was previously sda1. An fsck and a few hours for the rebuild later and we were pretty much all good to go! I took this opportunity to reorganise the drive-bays so that ide drive 1, now in its quiet-drive box (very quiet but quite warm!) was in the top bay, then the cdrom (to ease any strain on the ide cable on its way to the motherboard) and then the seagate cheetah with its fan on front. I’m now thinking it might be best to put the hot scsi drive back at the top of the case with more airflow around it as I’ve now twice found the system terminal showing journaling errors and telling me the root filesystem has been remounted read-only. Which isn’t a good sign in a recently rebuilt machine. I also found that the cpu fan was caked with dust and that is acually what is causing all the noise, so I’m thinking that this evening will be including some time with a screwdriver… I can’t really explain the stress on Saturday before knowing that my 800Gb of data was safe and the relief when I found it all safe again. There were about 4 non-important video files with cross-linked clusters after lvm0 (if I hadn’t explained previously I’m running lvm2 on top of raid5 to ease growing the large storage partition) but if that’s the only problem then that’s a small price to pay. As this machine is but a 1GHz P3 I’ve disabled gdm from startup as I only really connect to it via VNC (which works again!) as having 2 X servers seemed a bit of a waste of resources. All in all a successful operation as I now have an up-to-date system with a nice looking minimal (latest xfce) desktop. After the final clean and drive rejigging later today, I should be able to leave this alone until the next drive upgrade (another 750G or even a terabyte drive when they’re more aFordable) or O/S update, as long as tha doesn’t try to UUID my drives again. Or then again when, or if, I have a spare couple of hours I can learn how that works and do it myself… :o )

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

With this being the first of the series that I’d be seeing for the first time on the big-big screen, I can’t say I was expecting that much to blow me away and in that I wasn’t disappointed. Maybe it was the fact we went to see the last showing (23:15 start) or maybe because I was quite tired, but the film felt very much like an in-betweener. It was rather over-long and to be honest could be summed up in one sentence – “The real return of the dark lord” or from the perspective of HP himself “How I learnt my destiny and its connection to the dark lord he-who-must-not-be-named”. With a name containing ‘and the Order of the Phoenix’ I was kindof expecting large-scale magical battles powered by magical birds, yet the order seemed to consist of a small group of misfits who meet in a dingy house to talk about what to not do next…


Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Needed to set the postie calling script to +x :)

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

and then (now) it works! ;)

Is postie working?…

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

…automatically I mean.