Diary of a geek

August 2004
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Andrew Pollock

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Tuesday, 31 August 2004

Assignment extension

Out of the blue, we got given an extension for that assignment. It's now due next Friday instead of next Monday. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, as the COMP1110 mid-semester is on the Wednesday in the middle. One chick that I spoke to after the lecture said she was going to just put the assignment on the backburner and do some study for the exam. I'm wondering if I should do that too, or just aim to have it done by Monday as per the original deadline. I think I'll go for a combination. I'll aim to have it functionally complete by Monday, study for the mid-semester on Monday night and Tuesday, and then polish the assignment from Wednesday night till Friday...

[04:14] [uni] [permalink]

Monday, 30 August 2004

Rain, mid-semester exams and dodgey umbrellas

It's been pissing down rain most of the day, which is nice for a change. I got to Uni, got out of the car and flicked my compact umbrella, like I usually do, to extend it and the business end of the umbrella promptly flew off, and I was left holding the handle and half the stem.

Note to self: don't flick the umbrella to extend it.

After reassembling the umbrella, it then wouldn't (for what seemed to be unrelated reasons) actually stay up, so I was forced the commence the long walk forcibly keeping the umbrella from folding up. Got a few funny looks and a rather tired arm. I caved in a bought a new cheap and nasty umbrella rather identical to the current one from the University newsagent.

Today was the dreaded Financial Instruments and Risk Management (a.k.a. FINM2002) optional mid-semester exam. I pondered whether or not to opt to sit it a fair bit. It was worth 20% if you sat it, and made the final exam worth 50% instead of 70%. Since the subject is all about risk management and diversification, I figured it was better to diversify by chances of failing by distributing it across as much assessment as possible, so I sat the test.

I was quite apprehensive about the exam, because overall, I haven't felt that I've been understanding the material terribly well. I spent most of the morning in the library doing some last minute cramming. I think it paid off, and I think the exam was reasonably easy. Time will tell. I was totally stumped on three related questions regarding swaps, but I knew I'd have issue with swaps before I went into the exam, because I was having problems when I revised them. I think I should be able to muster a pass.

So that leaves me with a maths exam on Friday and that assignment due next Monday, a COMP1110 mid-semester next week, and then a small breathing space (i.e. the mid-semester break) in which to do at least two more assignments (possibly three). Man, I don't remember the workload being like this last semester. Mind you, I only have one mid-semester exam last semester, so that'll have a lot to do with it.

[00:33] [uni] [permalink]

Listmastering

AJ stayed at my place on the weekend, because he went to the LCA Ghosts of Conference Past session, where there's a bit of a collective braindump from previous conference organisers.

I always find it great when I've got face-to-face access to another more senior Debian Developer. You can learn so much from just conversing with them in person than you can from idle chit chat via email. I guess IRC isn't bad, but face to face is more person.

Anyway, we were talking about the amount of duplication in various important roles of trust in the project, and he suggested that I look at becoming an AM if I wanted to help out more, and increase my general trustworthiness.

To be honest, I'd never considered myself worthy of something in this capacity (yet). But then again, I imagined the DPL to be someone much older as well... AJ said that you could just use existing templates of other AMs to get started.

So I gave it some thought and dropped Martin an email. He replied saying he'd been meaning to ask me if I'd like to be a listmaster, but hadn't got around to it, and send me an email with some more info. Listmastering is something I wouldn't mind giving a go to, so I've fired off Pascal Hakim an email.

[00:14] [debian] [permalink]

Sunday, 29 August 2004

Branden is a dickhead

It's not very often that I come out and publically criticise other people, but this can't go without comment...

I'm not defending what Frank Carmickle did. I was one of the debian-boot subscribers affected, but sheesh, you don't send stuff like that to debian-devel-announce. That's going to go in the archives, get cached all over the place, and really make us look like a bunch of twits. Well Branden anyway. And he would like us to consider him as an alternative DPL. Up until now, I'd really given him the benefit of the doubt, but there's no way in hell he's going to get my vote to represent me.

[05:28] [debian] [permalink]

Elections, elections, elections!

So Little Johnny has finally decided to send us to the polls on October 9. Bring it on, I can't wait to exercise my compulsory right to vote. For good measure, the ACT government elections are the following weekend. Voting central.

[03:08] [politics] [permalink]

Reflavoured (almost)

Well, for procrastination purposes, I've taken a break from studying for the FINM2002 mid-semester exam tomorrow to fix up my blog. I didn't realise how much carnage the upgrade had caused. It mostly looks like it used to. I think the sidebar is a bit narrower, which seems to be shrinking the calendar, but it's mostly there. I need to do some more tweaking of the CSS (not related to the loss from the upgrade).

[00:57] [tech] [permalink]

Saturday, 28 August 2004

Flavourless

I just dist-upgraded daedalus, and summarily got my flavours hosed. How sad. So how are you supposed to customise the flavour files that are included in the blosxom package and not get them hosed? Should they be conffiles? That seems a bit silly... Hmmm.

[19:54] [tech] [permalink]

Thursday, 26 August 2004

Maiden talk

Well I've just made my maiden talk at CLUG.

I basically recycled Gaudenz Steinlin's slides with a few improvements, and talked around them myself, followed by a demo install on my Vaio.

It went as well as could be expected, and I possibly caused a couple of people to take a second look at Debian.

General d-i feedback was pretty good. The only real comment more related to exim4's configuration screens.

[06:14] [tech] [permalink]

And the command for the day is...

PINKY(1)                        User Commands                    PINKY(1)

NAME
       pinky - lightweight finger

whatever next?

[06:08] [tech] [permalink]

Wednesday, 25 August 2004

COMP1110 quote of the day

Lecturer: "Who doesn't like multiple returns?"

Show of hands.

Lecturer: "Get over it".

Fair enough too. Screw this "a function must have a single point of entry and exit" crap. Entry is fair enough, but exit can be a royal PITA.

[20:01] [uni] [permalink]

Friday, 20 August 2004

brain_haemhorrage++

Holy crap!!!!!!!!!!!!

This assignment is driving me NUTS! I'm not having any issues writing Java, quite enjoying that aspect in fact. The part that is making my brain bleed is interpretting the freaking algorithms.

Sometimes I feel like I'm totally incompetent or something. Some stuff I just don't get... If you believe the discussion forum, there's a few smart cookies who have already got most of the thing finished... Here I am limping through the allocation algorithm, after spending about 4.5 hours headbutting my keyboard...

Sigh.

[23:28] [uni] [permalink]

Tuesday, 17 August 2004

changelogs.debian.net in DWN

Wee. I get a mention in DWN again.

[18:45] [debian] [permalink]

Good deed for the day

In my maths lecture today, my usual mature-age-student-second-from-the-front-row seat was occupied by a female Chinese student that I hadn't seen before. I plonked myself down a couple of seats adjacent to her, and she started talking me to straight away.

Turns out she's a late enrollee, and she wanted to know where things were at with respect to the course. Her English was pretty good, so I didn't mind being my usual helpful self. I figure it'll be good forced revision for me to go through what we've covered so far, so we're going to hook up tomorrow and do some revision together.

For some reason, I really enjoy playing the tour-guide and generally being helpful towards international students, even though I have a resentment for them taking up our University places. I think it's probably because deep down, I'd like them to go back home with a good impression of Australia and Australians...

[18:42] [uni] [permalink]

Monday, 16 August 2004

A good rule of thumb...

Saw this one on debian-devel today:

While working as root, sit on your hands before pressing enter.

[17:43] [tech] [permalink]

New Argus packages (but will they make Sarge)

I finally bit the bullet today and stopped procrastinating about packaging the newer version of Argus. I decided to go for the epoch option, rather than dicking around with the version string. I've previously made my case to upstream for coming up with a more sane version numbering scheme.

Fortunately argus-client didn't require an epoch, as 2.0.6.fixes.1 was greater than 2.0.6beta.47.

Of course, the five thousand dollar question is, will it make it into Sarge?

[05:00] [debian] [permalink]

Saturday, 14 August 2004

Database replication with MySQL

Well I'm finally getting my act together with the DNS migration for Ben, migrating from BIND 9 to PowerDNS. Migrating from dnscache to PowerDNS' recursive caching nameserver module was a failure, as it won't build on anything less than FreeBSD 5. I'm not too bothered by this, as the PowerDNS documentation generally alluded to using dnscache for this anyway.

So as the dnscache to pdns_recursor swap flopped, I thought I'd use the time alloted to get MySQL database replication up and going between the primary nameserver and the two slave nameservers. As much as I despise MySQL, I have to say that setting up replication was pretty easy. I just used the manual, and it was pretty accurate (which you'd hope a manual was). The thing that took me the longest was the fact that the MySQL environment on the two slave servers wasn't what I expected, so I ran into a few problems, oh, and some rather vexing .net.au vs .com.au reverse DNS entries. Mutter.

[16:44] [tech] [permalink]

Sunday, 08 August 2004

Skiing!

Rob and Deb are going to the snow for a week. They stayed with us last night on the way. We thought since they'd be at the snow today we'd do the bus package day trip thang and go to the snow for the day. In hindsight (it's a great thing, isn't it?) it didn't make much of a point, because they didn't get to the snowfields till 2pm, and we had to be back up at Blue Cow to catch the ski tube at 3pm, so we didn't get to spend any time with them.

Things to remember for next year:

  • Don't bother getting a locker at Blue Cow, get one at Bullock's Flat.
  • Load up the ski jacket before you leave, rather than trying to transfer stuff from the pockets of the clothes you wear on the bus to the snowfields.

[03:55] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 06 August 2004

SSH attacks continuing...

I decided to nmap a couple of the hosts back that have been doing the dictionary attacks on me. Of the two that I scanned, they appear to be Windows boxes, but they've got OpenSSH installed as well. Interesting.

I wonder if the SSH daemon is part of the trojan, or if people are putting SSH servers on their Windows servers these days?

[22:00] [tech/security] [permalink]

Thursday, 05 August 2004

Fetch me movies - that work!

We're trialling Telstra's new Fetch Me Movies service, and it's good in concept, but shite in execution. So far, of our free one month trial, one DVD never made it to us, two have had scratches making them unplayable, and today's one arrived with a split across the radius of it. We won't be continuing the membership once the trial period runs out.

[01:50] [life] [permalink]

hi ho, hi ho...

Dunno whether this is a particularly bright idea, but I've officially contracted back to Betrusted. Got to report out to the ATO for a bit of an orientation on Tuesday. Given that my timetable is a little bit sucky, it's going to be interesting trying to get a decent block of time out there on most days. I guess this is where having the carpark at Uni comes in handy. It also means Sarah's going to have to start riding to work more if I'm going to have the car... Wonder how she's going to feel about that?

[00:37] [life] [permalink]

(carpark == white_elephant)

Sigh. Methinks buying a car space in the new Dickson Precinct multi-storey secure carpark was a mistake. I should have checked where the heck it was, or more importantly, how long it took to walk there. It takes a good 10-15 minutes at a brisk pace to get from the carpark to the Union Court, which is about one third of the time it takes to get to Uni from home. So it's of limited benefit when it rains, and it doesn't give me that much more mobility, as I discovered today, you need at least 40 minutes to do a uni/home/uni round trip via the Ainslie shops. But since I'm about to start working, it is better than walking home to retrieve the car and drive to work, I guess...

[00:33] [uni] [permalink]

Tuesday, 03 August 2004

Overwhelmed!

Well last week I felt generally flat, but this week I'm just feeling overwhelmed.

Let's try and put things in perspective:

  • Essay for COMP1110 due next Monday. Written, just needs some reviewing.
  • Assignment 1 for COMP2400 due in a couple of weeks time. Started it yesterday, going to be a piece of cake.
  • Project for FINM2002 due in October or something. Haven't even looked at it yet.
  • Got a DNS migration to do for Ben. This is really bugging me that I'm not progressing it in a timely fashion. Not sure what to do about that yet.
  • Going to start contracting back to Betrusted real soon now.
  • Got a talk to do this month at CLUG. Slides need updating, and I need to run through it a couple of times.
There's not that much there, really. I just need to get my act together...

[18:38] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 01 August 2004

Some much belated d-i testing

Since I'm planning on doing a talk on d-i at CLUG this month, I figured it might be a good idea to do some more testing of it. I'm planning on doing a test install on my VAIO, and trying to elicit some feedback from the audience.

First up, I thought I'd try it's wireless detection. This worked reasonably well, insofar as it correctly detected my wireless card, and asked for my ESSID. However, it doesn't seem that it configures WEP properly. I filed #262624. If I manually set the WEP key, things worked okay.

However, at CLUG, I won't be using a wireless connection, I'll need to use blue cable technology. As my VAIO is so old, it doesn't have onboard ethernet, so I use a USB ethernet adapter on the odd occassion that I want to plug in. Seems that d-i doesn't detect USB ethernet adapters, although the pegasus module is available, so again, it can be worked around manually.

I also spotted a typo in the description for the e100 driver, so I filed #262626.

It seems that anonymous svn access is broken, so I can't check out d-i to poke around the source for hwdetect to see how hard it would be to detect USB ethernet adapters. Bugger.

It's nice to do some d-i testing again. It's been too long since I last did some. I haven't actually done a full install yet today, I'm just seeing how the preliminaries go...

[02:17] [debian] [permalink]