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Andrew Pollock


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Saturday, 29 October 2005

How does MacOS X (Panther) start ssh-agent?

Dear Lazyweb,

Ever since I reinstalled my PowerBook a few months ago, after I'd put back on all my software (including the lovely SSHKeyChain), I couldn't get the same SSH agent behaviour I used to have.

Specifically, the first time I'd SSH somewhere after logging in (or after awakening the laptop), I'd be prompted (in a nice GUI kind of way) for my SSH passphrase, after which the private key was loaded into my SSH agent, and life was good from then on.

That is no longer the case. I get prompted for my SSH passphrase in the terminal window and on a use by use basis, i.e. the key isn't being loaded into my agent after the first time I get asked for my passphrase.

I think the root of the problem is that my ssh-agent is being started with the -c option (generate C shell commands) when I'm actually using Bash. So, the crux of my question is where the hell does ssh-agent get started from, and how can I change how it is started?

Love and sloppy kisses,


[22:48] [tech] [permalink]

Friday, 28 October 2005

The FAI FAQ has been obsoleted by the FAI wiki

For a few years I've hosted a Faq-o-Matic instance for FAI.

I received an email today from someone saying that all of the content in the FAI Faq-o-Matic had been merged into the FAI wiki, so I've just reconfigured my web server to redirect visitors straight to the wiki. I'll give this a couple of weeks or so for the search engines to all get with the program, then I'll completely decommission the web server.

[05:34] [tech] [permalink]

Thursday, 27 October 2005

Last CLUG meeting for a while

Tonight was my last CLUG meeting for a while, and it was a pretty good one.

We didn't have a whole lot of structure to the meeting. Bob gave a couple of short talks. I gave a short talk off the cuff about the wonders of LVM. Hugh showed off some virtual reality goggle things. Alex tried to have a bit of a hackfest on Coda, but I think there was a general lack of Coda fu, so that didn't get very far unfortunately.

Steve Walsh has kindly offered to take over as the person behind the shell script that schedules the meetings, and I've moved it from caesar (in the cupboard at home on the end of an ADSL connection) to daedalus in Brisbane, so it will continue to be accessible while I'm relocating.

I'm looking forward to checking out SVLUG and BALUG (which seems to have fallen off the Internet (from home) at time of writing, looks like someone needs to read the IETF's BCP #16).

[06:09] [clug] [permalink]

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

On this surplus orange problem

Okay, this may be a bit naive, but rather than having farmers dump a quarter of their annual orange output, why can't the Federal Government step in, and using some of the money they'd have earmarked for foreign aid, buy the oranges and ship them to the nearest country in receipt of our foreign aid? Everybody wins.

[23:43] [opinion] [permalink]

Falcom A2D-1

Australian Reseller
Cellular Access
SAGE-AU Member Discount
Why do I think this is cool?
The Falcom A2D-1 is a great industrial-grade GSM modem that works very well with stuff like smstools and can therefore be integrated nicely with monitoring products such as Nagios. I've used one of these personally at home for a number of years, and in two different jobs. Generally I find them to be more reliable than a mobile phone and gnokii. Just putting this blog post here in the hope that the new Australian reseller's Google juice is increased a bit.

[19:32] [tech/gadgets] [permalink]

Canberra Perl Mongers meeting

The Canberra Perl Users Group is having one of its extremely irregular meetings next week.

If you're in Canberra, or will be on November 2, let me know. The last one wasn't too bad.


[18:06] [code] [permalink]

New toys

We've been stocking up on gadgets for our upcoming trips.


Sarah's going to Singapore to catch up with some relatives and then joining me in the US a week or so later. As our digital camera is currently a 1 megapixel afterthought on our Sony DCR-PC100E Handycam of 5 and a bit years, we thought it high time we got something half-decent as a compact camera.

I'm moderately keen on getting a digital SLR, and after using Mikal's Canon EOS 350D when we went to San Francisco for our Google interviews, wouldn't mind getting one of those down the track and doing a photography course. So we tossed up whether or not to get a compact now and an SLR later, or scrap the SLR, and get something in the middle like a Canon PowerShot S2 IS. We settled on getting a Nikon CoolPix 5900, partly because apparently all the PowerShots are stuck in Customs at the moment and there's none to be had in the country for love or money.

iPaq and GPS

There is no way I was going to drive in the US again without some form of satellite navigation in the car. There's just too much going on on the roads over there (not to mention driving on the other side of the road) to have to worry about how to get from A to B. We were just intending to buy a car that had satellite navigation when we got over there, and try our level best to get a hire car with one in the interim.

Some friends were saying that we'd probably pay a lot more for a car with it as a built in option, than if we were to buy a handheld/portable GPS. Then Mikal bought a bluetooth GPS for his iPaq, and that convinced me to go that way as well. So I bought an iPaq hx2100, which interestingly seems to have just fallen off HP's website (it was there on the weekend), so it must be approaching obsolescence or something.

Today I got the Destinator software with maps for the US, and some evaluation maps for Australia, and tonight Sarah and I went for a spin to try it out.

It was pretty cool. One thing that could be better is the differentiation between the directions leading up to a turn and turn itself. For example, it says "Turn right in 300 metres" and then proceeds to count down (e.g. "Turn right in 100 metres". Then it just says "Turn right". It'd be more obvious if you didn't have to listen for whether it was "in x metres" or not and either tacked "now" on the start or end of the final direction. It was also cute how it called roundabouts "circles". Going straight through a typical roundabout was "Take the second exit on the circle". If you ignored directions at some point, it'd plot a new route to still get you to your destination. All in all, I'm pretty happy with that purchase.

The bluetooth GPS unit itself is cool. I'm able to talk to it from our PowerBook under MacOS X as a bluetooth serial port, and I'm yet to try the same with Linux on my D610. Hopefully I'll be able to get it work with gpsdrive

The one downside with getting an iPaq and running Pocket PC 2003 (or WinCE as I prefer to call it) is it's forcing me to spend more time in Windows on my laptop than I otherwise would, just so I can do syncs and stuff. Hopefully once I've got the iPaq all bedded down, that'll change...

[05:11] [tech] [permalink]

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Hand me the brown paper bag

The moral of the story is always, always use at to schedule a reboot shortly in the future, no matter how harmless you think something is...

Today I stopped procrastinating about upgrading daedalus's kernel to 2.6.12 and did it. That worked fine. The reason for the upgrade was that I'd read somewhere that 2.6.12 fixed the problem with things like Dell's Baseboard Management Controller, where if you downed the interface in Linux, it downed it so far so that the BMC (which does some funky low-level physical interface sharing) also stopped being remotely accessible.

So I upgraded, hopeful in the fact that if I were to ever remotely shut down daedalus, I could turn it back on or reboot it remotely with ipmitool. I thought I'd test this, so I did this:

daedalus:~# ip l s dev eth0 down; sleep 10; ip l s dev eth0 up

and promptly kissed daedalus goodbye. Not just for 10 seconds, for until I could get the colo guys to kick it in the guts for me. Grrr.

At least I determined that the problem appears to persist. If I down an interface in Linux, it's down for the BMC as well. That sucks.

[19:14] [tech] [permalink]

Monday, 24 October 2005

Somewhere to live (temporarily)

The cast of thousands tasked with relocating us to the US continue to swing into action. For up to a month, we'll be accommodated at The Carlyle in Santa Clara. It looks a bit over the top. I mean we really don't need chandeliers, but at least it has a gym so I can try and keep off my Google pounds.

I also looks reasonably close to work.

Now if we can just get through all this customs paperwork for importing our personal effects...

[16:16] [life] [permalink]


But true.

You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

[05:47] [meme] [permalink]

Saturday, 22 October 2005

New dining table

About a month ago we lashed out on our first major purchase as a married couple and got a new dining table, as we anticipated having a few dinners with friends before we left the country.

Our new dining table Our new dining table

Last week it arrived, and tonight we had our first 8 person dinner to christen it. I made Moroccan stuffed lamb with roast vegetables, which turned out to be a success. It's always a bit scary making a new dish for the first time when you've got people coming over for dinner, as if it's a total disaster, you've still got to subject your guests to it.

[07:08] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 21 October 2005

Just the way I want to spend my Friday night...

Bashing my head over why Firewall-1 is eating my ACK packets for dinner - when I'd rather be at home eating some myself. Dinner that is, not ACK packets. They're not all that filling. No payload and all.

So, the bastard thing has a rule that is supposed to accept packets from the big bad interweb, and let them in to a web host, after a spot of load balancing and what have you. I'm testing it with a remote connection from home. The SYN comes in, the SYN goes out. The SYN arrives where it's supposed to. The web server ACK's that SYN. The ACK arrives at the firewall. The ACK is never seen again. Oh, and the firewall logs an ACCEPT on the packet.

So after restarting Firewall-1, rebooting (gotta love the fact this isn't production yet), checking my routing (there's not a lot to check, it's going to go out the default gateway), I'm at headbutting keyboard point.

At least I found and fixed a problem with logging.

[02:42] [work] [permalink]

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

I'm feeling lucky redux

Today we finally got our E3 visas in the mail, so I've resigned from Cybertrust, and I'll be starting at Google in Mountain View, California, in probably 5 or 6 weeks time.

Much bubbly to be consumed tonight.

[23:19] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 15 October 2005

Fast clean chroot creation with LVM snapshots

Now that I've got a bit more disk space, I decided to fully script chroot creation with LVM snapshots.

This requires dchroot, LVM, and as as many logical volumes as you want chroots for, with a logical volume naming scheme like this:

apollock@caesar:~$ sudo lvs | grep pristine
  stable-pristine   base -wi-a- 320.00M
  testing-pristine  base -wi-a- 320.00M
  unstable-pristine base -wi-a- 320.00M

sudo makes life a bit easier as well.

Next, you need a directory structure like this:

apollock@caesar:~$ tree /chroots
|-- pristine
|   |-- stable
|   |-- testing
|   `-- unstable
|-- stable
|-- testing
`-- unstable

Finally, you need some /etc/fstab entries to mount the chroots (and a /proc):

/dev/base/stable-pristine       /chroots/pristine/stable        ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
stable-proc     /chroots/pristine/stable/proc   proc    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/testing-pristine      /chroots/pristine/testing       ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
testing-proc    /chroots/pristine/testing/proc  proc    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/unstable-pristine     /chroots/pristine/unstable      ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
unstable-proc   /chroots/pristine/unstable/proc proc    defaults,noauto 0 0

/dev/base/stable        /chroots/stable ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/home          /chroots/stable/home    jfs     defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/tmp           /chroots/stable/tmp     jfs     defaults,noauto 0 0
stable-proc     /chroots/stable/proc    proc    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/testing       /chroots/testing        ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/home          /chroots/testing/home   ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/tmp           /chroots/testing/tmp    ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
testing-proc    /chroots/testing/proc   proc    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/unstable      /chroots/unstable       ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/home          /chroots/unstable/home  ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
/dev/base/tmp           /chroots/unstable/tmp   ext3    defaults,noauto 0 0
unstable-proc   /chroots/unstable/proc  proc    defaults,noauto 0 0

Note that you don't need to bother double-mounting /home and /tmp in the "pristine" chroots, because generally speaking, only root will be logging into them, for the purposes of installing packages or upgrading what's already installed.

So firstly, create the logical volumes that are going to hold the "pristine" chroots. Put your favourite filesystem on them, and mount them. Then use debootstrap to install a base installation. I found I had more success doing an installation of sarge into the stable chroot's logical volume, and then dd'ing that across to the testing and unstable logical volumes, and doing a dist-upgrade afterwards.

Once you've got your base chroots installed, add entries to /etc/dchroot.conf for them, as well as the subsequent snapshot ones:

unstable /chroots/unstable
testing /chroots/testing
stable /chroots/stable

unstable-pristine /chroots/pristine/unstable
testing-pristine /chroots/pristine/testing
stable-pristine /chroots/pristine/stable

Then use dchroot (as root) to log into each "pristine" chroot in turn and install build-essential, fakeroot, and whatever else you want to have consistently installed in each instance of the chroot.

Once you're done with this, you can use the couple of scripts I've knocked up for easily creating an instance of one of these pristine chroots. You can then install whatever packages you like into these instances, build your packages, and then when you're finished, just throw away the logical volume. You can rinse and repeat this process as much as you like, and it's as quick as creating a snapshot logical volume, giving you a clean chroot to start with every time.

[07:37] [debian] [permalink]

I love LVM.

There is sliced bread, and then there is LVM.

Today I had a pleasantly easy time migrating one of my servers from a 40Gb disk to a 120Gb disk, thanks to LVM.


A few months ago, caesar, my general purpose box, blew up. It's motherboard was of the vintage that couldn't cope with a disk larger than 32Gb, so it had a 40Gb hard drive in it, jumpered to look like a 32Gb disk. Apparently I could have probably fudged the geometry of a larger disk in the BIOS so that it would boot, but I survived with a small disk, and wasn't keen on reinstalling at the time.

When I replaced caesar, it was capable of using a larger disk, but I just did a direct disk swap from the old caesar to the new one, and got on with my life. I subsequently replaced daedalus, my web server in Brisbane, which made two 120Gb disks available.

Recently, I started hitting the limits of the 32Gb disk, and the old daedalus (recycled into minotaur) was just sitting around with a 120Gb disk in it, not doing very much, so I decided to try and migrate from the 40Gb disk to the 120Gb disk.

Partition layout

The way I generally partition a disk is I have a 512Mb partition for my root filesystem, a swap partition as big as the swap allocation recipe I'm subscribing to at the time, and use the rest as a physical volume for LVM.

Copying the root filesystem

So I took the 40Gb disk out of caesar, put it into minotaur as the primary disk with the 120Gb disk as the slave, and booted into single-user mode. Next, I created a partition for the root filesystem on the 120Gb disk the same size as it was on the 40Gb disk. I ensured the root filesystem was mounted read-only, so everything would be consistent, and used dd to copy /dev/hda1 to /dev/hdb1. Next, I shut down and reconnected /dev/hdb (the 120Gb disk) as /dev/hda to make sure I could boot from it okay. I think because this disk had previously had minotaur's Linux installation on it, with GRUB, this worked fine. I'd probably have had to dick around with installing GRUB in the MBR otherwise.

Moving the logical volumes

Once I was satisfied that I could boot from the 120Gb disk, I swapped back again so I was booting from the 40Gb disk as /dev/hda, and again booted into single-user mode. I did a pvcreate on /dev/hdb3, and then a pvmove /dev/hda3 /dev/hdb3 and sat back and twiddled by thumbs for a while.

At about 72 percent, I got a kernel oops and the pvmove bailed out. I started to worry a bit at this point, and retried the pvmove without any arguments. According to the manpage, it's supposed to restart from the last checkpoint. In hindsight I should have rebooted straight away, as the kernel obviously now had its knickers in a knot. The pvmove didn't seem to progress, and I couldn't interrupt it, so I had to do a hard reset. As Debian's single-user mode tends to do a hell of a lot (including mounting all the filesystems), the mounting of one of my ReiserFS filesystems seemed to also cause the kernel to oops also. So I rebooted with the "emergency" argument instead, and manually ran just enough of the rcS.d scripts to get the logical volumes available, and reran the pvmove again. This time it completed successfully.

I then used vgremove to remove /dev/hda3, which no longer had any extents allocated to it, from my volume group, and then did a pvremove on it for good measure. I disconnected the 40Gb disk, and booted with the 120Gb disk as the master, and all was good.

I put the 120Gb disk back into caesar, and if I hadn't had to pull it out of the "rack" to stick a head on it to discover that it wanted me to press F1 because the 40Gb disk had turned into a 120Gb disk, that part would have been interventionless.

So I was very pleased with how easy the whole process was. If I hadn't had those couple of kernel oopses, it would have been a piece of cake (and the oopses didn't really give me that much grief anyway, thanks to the checkpointing). So LVM would be great with an environment where SMART was accurately predicting the demise of a disk. You could ideally migrate all the data off a failing disk, probably without rebooting, and if the disks were hot pluggable, just remove it from the system without any downtime. Of course, it's no substitute for a good bit of RAID, but pretty cool nonetheless.

[03:08] [tech] [permalink]

Friday, 14 October 2005

No, I am not a wife beater

Sarah just looks like shit after having her wisdom teeth out.

I felt like everyone was giving me funny looks today when we ventured out to do a few things. It's certainly not a good look.

[22:32] [life] [permalink]

On musical breasts

Oh dear God.

So I wonder in future, rather than what cup size, the surgeon will ask how many gigabytes a woman would like her breasts to be? I find this whole concept as freaky as Jon Oxer's desire to implant an RFID tag in his hand. Insert heebie jeebies here.

[15:10] [tech] [permalink]

Thursday, 13 October 2005

To dpatch or not to dpatch

That is the question.

So as Joey's blogged, those in the anti-dpatch (and co) camp have stated their reasons for disliking it.

I can see where they're coming from.

One problem that I can see with having all the Debian-specific modifications just rolled up in the diff is that when a new upstream release comes out that incorporates some of them, the uupdate application of the diff isn't going to work cleanly. It's been so long since that's happened to me that I forget what actually happens, and what has to be done to rectify the situation.

Of course, the solution is to use a revision control system. I've really got to bite the bullet and start doing that. I've never really written anything terribly big (yet), so I haven't got a lot of revision control system experience. I've listened in on talks about Bazaar-NG and Arch and stuff, and haven't really gotten a lot out of it, because I haven't really, well, got the experience with doing version controlled work, and that's largely because I haven't had the need.

Time to take things to the next level, methinks. Time to stop procrastinating about putting src:dhcp3 into Alioth and just do it and die.

[05:20] [debian] [permalink]

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

dpatch considered harmful?

Joey Hess needs a peppermint.

I'd also like him to explain what's wrong with dpatch, as until now, I was of the opinion that it was the duck's testicles.

[22:54] [debian] [permalink]

Blogging saves the day

Well kind of.

A colleague in Operations came up to me with a Firewall-1 problem, which was identical to one I'd experienced earlier in the year.

I couldn't remember the details, but I remembered the situation, so I just pulled up my blog, used Firefox's find-as-you-type feature, and pointed him at the details.

[19:03] [work] [permalink]


Tonight we went and saw Serenity.

I think the thing I noticed first was that it showed that 3 years had elapsed since the TV series and the movie. Haircuts weren't exactly consistent, Jayne looked like he'd lost a bit of weight. The Shepherd was sporting braids. Oh, and he somehow had parted company since the last episode of the TV series. Hadn't seen that one coming, whereas Inara's (initial) absence wasn't a total surprise.

Someone was complaining about the movie's explanation for the origins of the Gorram Reavers, but I thought it was fairly reasonable. Heck, they featured in more of the movie than they did in the series.

I didn't find it all that compelling (but I didn't find the series that compelling either), but it was still enjoyable. Not sure if I'd have gotten as much out of it if I hadn't seen the series first. And it didn't adequately explain the background of Shepherd Book, which was one of the many plot lines that was built up in the series, but not explored to its end.

Overall, I think it's a bit of a shame that Firefly's plot didn't get to fully develop. Must do some research on why it was axed.

[04:56] [life] [permalink]


Today Sarah and I finished watching all the episodes of Firefly on DVD.

It grew on me over time. Initially I thought it was all a bit too Western, cowboy and Indian, but by the end of it, I was really enjoying it. I think I got a chuckle out of every single episode. I haven't really looked into why the series got axed when it did, because it didn't seem to have anything terribly wrong with it. I really liked the motley crew of Serenity. I think Jayne was my favourite. He was such a meat-head, but he was always coming out with funny lines.

So now that we're all clued up on the series, we're off to see Serenity tonight. Hopefully it ties up a lot of the loose ends and answers some of the questions left hanging from the series.

[00:32] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 10 October 2005

Sarah's little bottle of wisdom (or My wife, the chipmunk)

Sarah had her wisdom teeth taken out this morning. The bottom two were impacted, and the top two didn't have enough room to come down, so they all had to go.

I'm taking today and tomorrow off to look after her.

The surgery went fine. She had what they call "twilight" anaesthetic, as she didn't cope too well with the general anaesthetic last year when she had her arthroscopy. She's still a bit groggy, and I don't think the local anaesthetic in her gums has worn off yet, because she isn't feeling too sore, but the swelling is starting to kick in. It's bled a bit more than I'd have expected.

She got to keep the teeth, and they're huge! The bottom two are a bit grey and festy in parts. In the photo below, the outside two are the bottom two, and the middle two are the top two. Not sure what was left and right.

Sarah's wisdom teeth Sarah's post-op swelling

[23:30] [life] [permalink]

Big weekend away

Sarah and I had to go to the US Consulate in Sydney for my E-3 visa application on Friday, so we decided to make a bit of a long weekend of it.

So first up, we drove to Artarmon on Friday morning, and ditched the car at Sarah's Aunty Glenda's place (she was the MC at our wedding). We jumped on a train, which managed to

  1. arrive, and
  2. stay on the tracks

until we got into town, where we headed into the Consulate. Michael and Catherine had an earlier appointment that morning, and they were as successful as you can be on the day with their application.

We said a quick hello to them in Martin Place and headed up to the Consulate, as Michael said things were starting to get busy, so I figured the sooner we got in the queue, the sooner we'd get processed.

Security was interesting. Reception was on level 10, and we rocked up to what appeared to be a very temporary looking setup: a room with an "in" door and an "out door" at opposite ends of one wall, a bunch of chairs arranged in a sort of seminar layout, and a desk with a security guard.

The guard quizzed us as to who we were, if we had an appointment and ID and whatnot, and checked our names off against a list, and then searched our bags and ran a metal-detector wand over us and directed us to take a seat.

Half a minute later, another guard appeared, and ushered us into an elevator, which he had to swipe a card to get to go to something like the 59th floor.

Upon alighting from the elevator, we were presented with another desk with a pair of security guards, who again quizzed us as to who we were and what we were doing there, and then got us to empty our pockets to walk through an airport-style metal-detector. I'd brought my laptop bag (sans laptop) to hold all our paperwork, and that had a drink bottle with water in it on the side. The guard asked if it was water, and when we said it was, asked Sarah to have a drink of it to confirm it was safe. She took a sip and then proceeded to have a massive coughing fit. I thought we were going to get chucked out before we'd even started. She reassured them that it was okay, and took another sip and had another massive coughing fit! Fortunately the guards had a sense of humour about it all and let us in.

The Consulate itself was close to what I expected, but I didn't expect so many people to be sitting around waiting, and I didn't expect to have to talk to the Consulate staff through a sheet of plate glass.

We had a minor glitch with our paperwork, which my sponsor is sorting out at the moment, so we came away with our application being placed on hold. Eligibility-wise, it shouldn't be a problem though, which was more what I was worried about. The whole process took about 2 hours (and most of that was waiting around. We probably spent a total of about 10 minutes actually talking to people).

Next we had lunch with a couple of friends of Sarah, and then did a spot of shopping, and then jumped back on the train to Artarmon. We had a few drinks at the local pub with my mate Andrew (who conveniently lives two streets from Sarah's Aunty), and another former work colleague, and then had dinner with Andrew, back at Sarah's Aunty's place.

I awoke on Saturday morning thinking I was in a wind tunnel, there that much wind howling around outside. Shortly after that, there was a huge bang, and part of a tree across the road had blown over onto the power lines, so that was it for electricity for the remainder of our stay that morning. We got to watch the electricity company come out, chop all the wires off and chainsaw up the tree limb. Then we headed off to Newcastle to visit our friends Michael and Elise. I'd managed to sleep funny and pulled a muscle in my neck, so Sarah had to do the remainder of the driving.

We stayed the night with Michael and Elise, and then headed back to Wollongong to visit my boss, who has moved from Canberra to an absolutely gorgeous house on the coast, and then we headed home, arriving back at about 6:30pm on Sunday night.

So we had a busy weekend, but an enjoyable one. Would have been nicer if I hadn't had the paperwork problems with the visa, as I still have no idea of any time frames for relocation.

[20:13] [life] [permalink]

A picture tells a thousand words

Gee I wonder when linux.conf.au 2006 registrations opened?

Graph of traffic to the lca2006 webserver

[19:15] [tech] [permalink]

Sunday, 09 October 2005

lists.debian.org has Message-ID lookup

Google by Message-ID no more, Andrew Suffield has written a cool Message-ID lookup page.

[20:06] [debian] [permalink]

Tuesday, 04 October 2005

Are you subscribed to Linux Weekly News?

Catching up with my LWN backlog, I read that LWN subscriptions have pretty much flat-lined, and the current level isn't terribly sustainable.

I'm lucky. I get my subscription paid for because I'm a Debian developer (one of the few perks of the job).

Would I subscribe if I had to pay for it myself? After having been a subscriber for about 2 years, and for $60USD per year, probably yes.

LWN is one of the few weekly publications that I make a point to read. I find the writing style, and the length of the articles to be quite good. I think most "political" issues are covered fairly objectively. It's a good read.

I also subscribe to Linux Journal in dead-tree format, and to be honest, I have about 6 months worth of magazines lying around the house at the moment, still in their plastic. Purely because I just haven't had the time (or the presence of mind when I have) to sit down and have a read of them. And that's not because I don't think LJ is a good publication, quite the contrary, I think I'm just satisfying my information requirements with LWN, and so I'm not finding that urge to pick up the magazine.

I personally wish Jonathan all the best with LWN, and hope to see it reach 10 years. If you like what you can read for free, and would rather read it hot off the press, consider subscribing. If you're a Debian developer, you've got nothing to lose.

[22:33] [tech] [permalink]

Trip to the Snowy Hydro's Tumut 3 power station

Making the most of the long weekend we just had, Sarah and I decided to blow a tank of fuel doing a trip to the Snowy Hydro Power Scheme yesterday.

It took us the best part of 3 hours to get there from Canberra.

I was really impressed with the sheer engineering of it all. I had no idea how much water they were moving around from so many different dams. The scheme is just as much about carting water around as it is about generating power. In fact, the generating power bit is just a front to make carting the water around vaguely cost-effective.

The tour itself was a bit disappointing. You didn't get to see a real lot, and you weren't allowed to take photographs. I guess there isn't a lot you can see in a functional power station. The turbine is pretty much all concealed. The bus-bar room looked innocuous enough, but the tour guide said that if someone walked in there, it'd be like a bug in a bug zapper...

All in all, it was worth the trip though. I like dams and power stations, so it was fun crawling all over the place taking in all the different vantage points.

[02:01] [life] [permalink]

Upwardly mobile lemmings

That was Rick, his brother and myself on Sunday. We made the most of the weekend and walked up Mount Tennant, in the Namagdi National Park. I'm still sore.

The mountain is about 1300 metres above sea level, and we started at about 600 metres. The walk up was about 6 kilometres, and took about 2 hours. The walk back took about an hour and a half.

There was a rainwater tank at the peak, which I was very happy about, as I exhausted my water bottle getting up there.

There was also a fire observation tower, which we could get half way up without a key to the padlock. I took a couple of north-looking photos with my phone, which was all I had with me in the way of photographic equipment.

View north from fire observation tower on
Mount Tennant   View north from fire observation tower on
Mount Tennant

The view north was of southern Canberra, and the view south was of more mountains.

[01:41] [life] [permalink]