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Andrew Pollock


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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

We've just discovered racquetball

We recently joined The Club of Mountain View, because it just happens to be around the corner, and we both want to try and get back into some semblance of shape.

The Club has pretty reasonable facilities. It has a large cardio room, a large weights room, a group exercise room where they do a number of classes, and a spinning room. It also has three racquetball/handball courts, as well as an indoor basketball court.

Pretty much all of the facilities are included in the monthly membership, so Sarah went and booked a racquetball court this evening, and we had a bit of a whack.

We didn't have a clue how to play, so it was just basically half an hour of belting the ball around, and I have to say, I really liked it.

I haven't played squash since high school, but didn't enjoy it, because I was more used to tennis, and constantly misjudged where the racquet head was, hence missing the ball. I never really liked the characteristic of a squash ball either.

I really like tennis, but I have habit of getting carried away and belting the tripe out of the tennis ball, either sending it completely out of the court (over the fence) and far away, or at the very best well and truly past the back line of the court and into the fence.

Racquetball seems perfect for me. I can belt the living daylights out of the ball. It can't get lost. The racquet is short and reasonably large. There's a very satisfying thwack sound to boot. In short: I like it.

[22:32] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Recommendations for Linux-friendly PCI eSATA controllers?

Newegg.com just had a special on 750Gb Seagate SATA drives, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to replace my 400Gb IDE drives with ones that can be connected to the host by something less ghetto than IDE to USB 2.0 adapters. Who knows? I might even lash out on some kind of enclosure, instead of sitting them on cork trivets on top of the computer they're attached to.

So once the drives turn up, all I'll need to do is replace the PCI 4 port USB 2.0 controller with a PCI 4 port eSATA controller.

I'm a total SATA ignoramus, so if anyone has any suggestions on what's good, or what to avoid, shoot me an email.

[21:46] [tech] [permalink]

Monday, 16 June 2008

Partitioning is so last century

Martin Krafft did a nice, if overly complicated writeup on disk encryption with Debian.

Martin stated his main motivation for the setup he describes is having separate filesystems whilst still employing encryption, and not entering a passphrase per filesystem at boot.

My laptop is encrypted. I have multiple filesystems, and I only enter one passphrase at boot. I used the standard installer and did nothing beyond what it offered me. I'm using LVM. I have an encrypted root filesystem and an encrypted PV for LVM, and that's the end of my partitioning.

[23:03] [debian] [permalink]

Sunday, 08 June 2008

Tour de Cure ride report

Sarah and I did the 50km route of Tour de Cure today. Many thanks to those who sponsored us. It was looking a bit dubious for me making the $150 minimum for a while. Sarah raised $170.

We couldn't have asked for better weather, really. It was clear, not too hot, a light breeze. The 50km route was very doable. All of the hills involved were rolling, so it wasn't too much of a slog.

This was the first major bit of exercise that Sarah's done since her heart surgery, just over 5 months ago now. She held up well, but was totally exhausted afterwards. Some of the uphills were a bit tough on her. I'm totally out of shape as well, and was expecting it to be much harder as a result, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how doable the ride was. That said, we both had a decent nap this afternoon after a dip in the pool.

Apparently the 75km route had some gruelling hills in it, so I think we'll stick to the 50km one if we do it again next year.

[23:01] [life] [permalink]

And we're back

We actually got home last Sunday, but I've been too jetlagged, and then too busy with work to really have a chance to write anything...

We got back in at around 2pm, but our bags fell victim to Heathrow's Terminal 5, and didn't arrive until around 11pm. I think I lasted until about 8pm, when I had to crash. Poor Sarah had to stay up until 11pm when they finally got around to delivering our suitcases.

The week in Zurich was wonderful. The Zurich office is everything the photos make it out to be, and then some. One weird thing: apparently there's some Swiss regulation about how much you're allowed to cool a building in relation to the outdoor ambient temperature, so there's no air conditioning in the office. Instead, you can open the windows. Unfortunately, there's a fairly busy set of train tracks right beside the office, so it can get a tad noisy... It was a pretty warm week, I think around 30°C. I certainly prefer being colder rather than hotter when indoors, so found the lack of decent cooling to be a shame, given the rest of the building's features.

That said, it was pretty amazing sweltering away in Zurich, and then looking up and seeing snow on the mountains. It was surprising how much of a temperature difference there was.

On the last evening in Zurich, we went on a reconnoitre to try and find the river that we could hear (and see on the map) behind our apartment. We eventually found some street access to it, and it was another world back there. It was fairly thickly wooded, and the sunlight was heavily filtered through the trees, so it was cool and shady.

The river was fairly fast flowing over some rocks in parts, which is what was making it so audible. The whole setting was absolutely beautiful. There were a couple of paths, and the whole thing felt like something out of a fairy tail. We think we stumbled onto a fox, but we're not sure. It's a shame we only discovered the place on the last day, as I'd have liked to have explored it further.

I really liked Zurich. It was nice and flat, and had an excellent tram service. Monday Night Skate made me wish I'd packed my roller blades. We were wandering around on Monday night, and it felt like the entire city had donned skates and were going out. Apparently the authorities really get behind it, and close roads, and the police go along behind the pack and reopen the roads behind them and pick up the stragglers. Great way to encourage an active lifestyle.

We've got all of our photos up now from the Europe trip, and they're here.

This brings the total countries I've visited up to 10, excluding Hong Kong and Macau. I don't like selecting China when I generate this map, as I've never been to mainland China. Countries I've visited as of June 2008

[22:54] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 05 June 2008

On the date(1) command and seconds since 1970

Russell Coker wrote something about converting between timestamps since the epoch and human-readable dates.

I haven't fully parsed his post because I'm still half asleep, but I feel the need to point out the @ operator that I discovered last year in newer versions of GNU coreutils.

apollock@icarus:~$ date +%s
apollock@icarus:~$ date -d @$(date +%s)
Thu Jun  5 06:31:50 PDT 2008

It seems a bit shorter than what Russell was using, and presumably does the same thing.

[06:38] [tech] [permalink]