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Andrew Pollock


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Thursday, 29 March 2007

DOWNTIME: lists.linux.org.au and linux.org.au email


migration of lists.linux.org.au and linux.org.au email to new server


Saturday, March 31 09:00:00 GMT-7 - Sunday, April 1 17:00:00 GMT-7

(Sunday, April 1 02:00:00 GMT+10 - Monday, April 2 12:00:00 GMT+10)

admin@linux.org.au (oh gawd, not more spam)

Caesar on #linux-aus on Freenode


I'll be performing a move of all of the Mailman lists for lists.linux.org.au from the hastily slapped together copy of digital running inside of a Xen instance hosted by IVT (thanks, Jon!) to a brand-new installation in a Xen instance called morton.linux.org.au on the hardware donated to Linux Australia by HP sometime after linux.conf.au 2006.

I'll also be moving linux.org.au mail and local mailboxes from digital morton.

All shell users of digital have already had their home directories migrated from digital to morton and been individually notified.

I don't expect the outage to be anywhere near as long as specified, but I'm reserving that window of time for any problems, rollbacks, troubleshooting, etc.

I'll monitor #linux-aus after I've moved the MXes and enabled mail delivery on morton, for any issues that arise.

[23:00] [tech] [permalink]

Monday, 26 March 2007

I'm not sure I follow the maintainer's reasoning...

#369666: "mailx is recommended, and that is the proper dependency, as it by default need mailx, but can be configured not to need it."

Umm, call me crazy, but if you ship the package needing it by default, I call that a dependency. In my humble opinion, that bug should be release critical, as it renders the package unusable in its default installed state.

[21:47] [debian] [permalink]

Monday, 19 March 2007

Best. Quote. Ever.

Thom May: "... until my $PATH on Solaris is shorter than the next Harry Potter tome, Ubuntu has this won hands down."

Amen, brother.

[20:08] [tech] [permalink]

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Short-stay furnished apartments in New York

One for the note-to-self file.

Years ago on Getaway, I remember seeing a story that mentioned New York had companies that offered short-term rentals of furnished apartments as potentially more economical alternative to hotel accommodation. After a bit of concerted searching with Google, I've come up with Abode as one such company.

[18:16] [life/americania] [permalink]

New blades

Rollerblade Crossfire TFS

As I'd semi-intended to after last week's renewal of hatred towards my current in-line skates, we popped into Skates on Haight yesterday while we were in San Francisco, and I acquired a pair of Rollerblade Crossfire TFS'

The store was pretty nice. Small, but no other customers, so I got pretty good customer service. I have to wonder if I did the same level of due-diligence before purchasing as I did last time: I bought the first pair they recommended and I tried on.

That said, they have a nicer closure system than the Bauers I had previously. They've got a ratchet-style strap at the top, a bit like some snowboard boots, and they've sort of got laces. They have some thin "string" and an interesting bit at the back that you grab and yank on to tighten the string, and there's a separate release catch to loosen it. A bit hard to describe.

I've done a few test runs around the apartment complex today while I waited for the washing, and so far they seem not too bad. My biggest problem is I've got wide feet, so I have to find the happy medium between having the laces tight enough to have good ankle support, and not being too tight as to squish my feet.

If the weather is good tomorrow and I can drag my arse out of bed at a reasonable time, I'll try skating to work.

[17:23] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 15 March 2007

I love the Inspector Gadget theme song at the best of times...

But this guy just takes it to a whole new level...

[23:13] [life] [permalink]

Child process on the way

Finally all the family have been informed, so I can write about it here... Sarah is is 10 weeks pregnant.

The news came as a bit of a surprise, because Sarah had been feeling nauseous for a few weeks, and we'd immediately suspected pregnancy, but a total of seven tests all said she wasn't. It was only after comprehensive blood tests, that we got a phone call at 11pm on February 22 from the doctor confirming she was indeed pregnant.

We went to see the high-risk ob/gyn (why the feel the need to mash their specialty together like that I do not know...) and it was a bit of a sobering experience.

Sarah's cardiologist had previously said that he was okay with her having a pregnancy. Her aorta was larger than it should be, but not too big, so he advised us that if we wanted to have children, we should do it sooner rather than later.

Now, we sat before the ob/gyn, and she was very unhappy that Sarah was pregnant, and said that given her history and whatnot that she wasn't happy at all with the situation. She'd brought forward the appointment by a week specifically to tell us this.

So that really took the edge off things a bit, at least for me. Needless to say, we're continuing with the pregnancy (and this ob/gyn, at least for the time being).

Sarah's been having a bit of an unpleasant time with the all-day sickness, which hopefully will pass by the second trimester.

We've got an ultrasound from a couple of weeks ago here. Not much to see really. We've nicknamed the foetus "Squirt" until we know the gender and decide on a name.

[22:13] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Happy pi day!

pi day is an American phenomenon that we who don't write March 14 as 3/14 (or more appropriately for today, 3.14) just don't get to experience.

Much pie seems to be consumed. I wonder if July 22 could serve as an alternative?

[22:04] [life/americania] [permalink]

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Flights booked for DebConf7

I finally got around to organising my flights on Thursday for DebConf. It seems I can't book the train from London to Edinburgh until 3 months before the date of travel, so that's all that is outstanding.

Since I'm so close, I'm going to pop over and spend a week in the Dublin office afterwards.

We're also going to take advantage of being out of the country, and Sarah's going to join me in Dublin, and we're going to renew our visas, since they expire in October.

[11:49] [debian] [permalink]

Saturday, 10 March 2007

How would you feel if you got a $250 credit card that was only good for $52?

It seems that after having had a social security number for 12 months, and presumably 12 months worth of non-heinous financial activity, we're now on the pre-screened credit card offer bandwagon.

We're getting multiple offers from all sorts of credit card companies on a near-daily basis. Some are so insistent that they continue to send us offers after we've elected to take them up on them.

It certainly pays to read the fine print for the offers. Take today's gem (reformatted for clarity):

Account setup fee$29
Program fee$95
Annual fee$48
(Annual) participation fee$72 ($6 per month)
Additional card fee (per card)$20
Unbelievable grand total:$198

That $198 is what you get charged to your card in the first month, if you choose to get two cards, leaving you with a whopping $52 available credit.

I'm absolutely gobsmacked by how expensive this card is. There's also a pile of other fees for use, that I can't be bothered reproducing here. This isn't a credit card offer, it's an invitation to have your pocket gouged. It has a deceptively low interest rate of 9.9%, but it's quite obvious how that's compensated for.

No thanks, First PREMIER "Bank". From looking at your website, all you are is a credit card provider fee generator.

[16:52] [life] [permalink]

Busted out the rollerblades

When I first moved to Canberra to work at Asia Online, I was staying at the Waldorf, and working in Braddon, so it was a really nice short skate to work. I think skating around after work in the summer time (with daylight saving) was one of the things that made Canberra really grow on me.

I managed to destroy the (fairly cheap) blades in an incident in Commonwealth Park, and then lashed out on a more expensive pair of Bauer skates, which I subsequently hated. The original pair were simple, had a good hard shell, and three ski-strap style buckles, so they provided pretty good ankle support. The Bauers, on the other hand, had to be bought in a women's size because apparently my feet were too small for the men's sizes, were lace up, and had two Velcro straps that went around the top of the laces.

I really made a terrible purchasing decision in getting them, because I found I could never get them tight enough around my ankles, and they were too tight around my toes, and were generally quite uncomfortable.

Anyway, fast forward something like seven years to today, and I've been meaning to try skating to work to see how long it took. This morning, Sarah felt like some Vegemite, and I've got two bottles at work, and we seem to have run out at home. Sarah proposed that we cycle into work to get one of the bottles, and I thought this would be the perfect time to try out the skates again with no time constraints.

So, I pulled them out, got to try out the new safety gear that I think Sarah got me for my birthday 2 years ago, and we headed off down the Stevens Creek trail.

Things started out okay (as they always tended to do) but by the time we got to the La Avenida exit from the trail, I was feeling like a quick break to give my feet a breather, and I realised that the back left wheel had pretty much shredded itself. Seems the wheels don't have a fantastic shelf life.

So Sarah cycled back home and got the car, and we aborted that adventure.

I think rather than persisting with a pair of skates that I totally hate, I'll replace the wheels and give them away to Good Will, and look at getting a new pair that suck less. I think after waiting six or seven years between pairs is long enough get over the few hundred I spent on this pair.

We're going to stay in San Francisco next Friday night after a party, so I think I'll go check out this store on Saturday. Hopefully I can make a better purchasing decision this time around.

[14:06] [life] [permalink]

Is (non-Apple) DAAP development dead?

Now that I've got MythStream working very nicely, it's reminded me of my other wish: to be able to play music from the iTunes library on Sarah's laptop through MythTV somehow.

This leads one to an excursion into the slightly documented Digital Audio Access Protocol.

Life seemed fairly good until iTunes 7.0 came out with a new version of the protocol, which seems to have broken the hell out of anything that isn't >= iTunes 7.0, which is a bit of a shame, since I only learned of DAAP at around this time, so I've never been able to experiment with using a third party DAAP client.

www.opendaap.org sounds all promising, but it's really just a bunch of links to projects that don't seem to have done much for years, or only implement the iTunes 4.0 version of the protocol, which is reasonably well documented. There's a few implementations of DAAP servers that will talk the pre-iTunes 7.0 version of the protocol (which I believe that iTunes 7.0+ will work with fine), but that's not what I want. All of our music is already in iTunes, and I believe DAAP doesn't give you write-access, so it's not like we could stick all of our music on Linux and play it through iTunes the other way, because we'd still be wanting to buy music from the iTunes Store, and it'd all get very messy.

So I'm trying to find out if anyone's doing any work on reverse-engineering DAAP 7.0. So far, my searching hasn't turned up anything interesting.


A bit more searching turned up this, which suggests that even legitimate DAAP protocol licensees were caught with their pants down by this change, and so products like this one have a disclaimer about what versions of iTunes they'll work with.


[13:42] [tech] [permalink]

Tuesday, 06 March 2007

iLO shenanigans

One of the many things I'm working on in my copious amounts of spare time is setting up the server that HP donated Linux Australia after I think linux.conf.au 2006.

Said server has iLO, which facilitates remote power management and remote console, both things I want to have working on this server before it goes into production.

Jon's been madly poking holes in his firewall for me so I could access the iLO stuff. I'm already liking it better than Dell's BMC, because it has things like SSH, although the whole thing hasn't been without some adventures.

I fiddled around via the web interface and added an account for myself and an SSH key. Then I tried to SSH in, and promptly got stuff like

buffer_get_ret: trying to get more bytes 4 than in buffer 0
buffer_get_int: buffer error

straight after what looked like a successful connection, and then the SSH connection got terminated.

I did a pile of Google searching, and found people had to disable environment variable sending, and agent forwarding to get this to stop happening. Interestingly, I can't find a way to disable SendEnv on a per-host basis with OpenSSH, if it's been set in /etc/ssh/ssh_config, which is kind of annoying.

So after solving the problem of gaining SSH access to the iLO, I then battled with the remote console. The host already had a throwaway Linux installation on it, but the remote console kept freaking out about the console being in graphics mode. I figured this was because it was using a frame-buffer. No problem, I just needed to boot with vga=normal.

Problem was, GRUB was configured with hiddenmenu so I had 3 seconds to hit Escape before it charged off and booted up. Not that big a deal you'd think, except to get out of the remote console and back to the iLO prompt, you have to hit Escape (, so the iLO eats Escape keys for breakfast.

After having a bit of debate with some mainly Red Hat-oriented sysadmins on #sage-au, it turned out that RHEL has a patch so that GRUB accepts any key, not just Escape to present the menu. That was no use to me, as the box wasn't running RHEL. And all I was asking for was if anyone had any iLO experience, no whether or not "any key" was the equivalent of Escape. Sheesh.

It turned out that I needed to press Escape twice in that initial 3 seconds, with probably sufficient pause between the two presses for it to register properly, in order for an Escape character to be sent to GRUB.


[21:42] [tech] [permalink]

Sunday, 04 March 2007


I like to listen to Nova 96.9's stream, and I'd been doing it really sloppily at home by quitting the MythTV front-end running on the TV, and just running mplayer with the URL of the stream.

I really wanted to be able to play the stream through MythTV. So a few weeks ago I did a spot of searching and up came MythStream, which appeared to be just the ticket.

I'd already done a few sloppy unpackaged installations of things on the MythTV machine, and I wanted to stop this, so I held off installing it until I had time to make a package of it.

Today I finally had time to make said package (which is here if anyone else is interested) and it works a treat for what I want to do. It looks like it has plenty of other features that I don't really need but will explore anyway.

MythStream screenshot

[21:02] [tech] [permalink]

Thursday, 01 March 2007

On whacky spare tyre ideas

Russell Coker writes about not carrying spare tyres and relying on roadside assistance companies instead.

I had a similar idea a while ago when I had two of my tyres slashed. I was carrying a viable spare, but with two tyres out of action, it didn't do me a lot of good.

I got a tow to the nearest tyre place probably within a kilometre, but they had to order in the tyres to match what was already on the car, so I was left without a car for the remainder of the day and some of the next one.

I thought it'd be a great business idea to be able to call up for roadside tyre replacement, similar to how you can "holler for a Marshall" when you get a flat battery.

Incidentally, I've clearly been living here too long. I had to battle with myself to not write "tire" all the time.

[20:56] [opinion] [permalink]

Our first earthquake (that we noticed)

I do believe we may have just had a small earthquake. Sarah and I certainly both felt something. Hopefully this page will show something in a bit to confirm.


Yup. Wow.

[20:45] [life] [permalink]