Happy birthday to me

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Recently I accidentally flooded Planet Debian with my blog feed. This was an accident caused by some of my older blog entries not having valid "Date:" headers. (I use chronicle which parses simple text files to build a blog, and if there is no Date: header present in entries it uses the CTIME of the file(s).)

So why did my CTIMEs get lost? Short version I had a drive failure and a PSU failure which lead to me rebuilding a few things and cloning a fresh copy of my blog to ~/hg/blog/.

My host is now once again OK, but during the pain the on-board sound started to die. Horribly crackly and sounding bad. I figure the PSU might have caused some collateral damage, but so far thats the only sign I see.

I disabled the on-board sound and ordered a cheap USB sound device which now provides me with perfect sound under the Squeeze release of Debian GNU/Linux.

In the past I've ranted about GNU/Linux sound. So I think it is only fair to say this time things worked perfectly - I plugged in the device, it was visible in the output of dmesg, and /proc/asound/cards and suddenly everything just worked. Playing music (mpd + sonata) worked immediately, and when I decided to try playing a movie with xine just for fun sound was mixed appropriately - such that I could hear both "song" + "movie" at the same time. Woo.

(I'm not sure if I should try using pulse-audio, or similar black magic. Right now I've just got ALSA running.)

Anyway as part of the re-deployment of my desktop I generated and pass-phrased a new SSH key, and then deployed that with my slaughter tool. My various websites all run under their own UID on my remote host, and a reverse-proxy redirects connections. So far example I have a Unix "s-stolen" user for the site stolen-souls.com, a s-tasteful user for the site tasteful.xxx, etc. (Right now I cannot remember why I gave each "webserver user" an "s-" prefix, but it made sense at the time!)

Anyway once I'd fixed up SSH keys I went on a spree of tidying up and built a bunch of meta-packages to make it a little more straightforward to re-deploy hosts in the future. I'm quite pleased with the way those turned out to be useful.

Finally I decided to do something radical. I installed the bluetile window manager, which allows you to toggle between "tiling" and "normal" modes. This is my first foray into tiling window managers, but it seems to be going well. I've got the hang of resizing via the keyboard and tweaked a couple of virtual desktops so I can work well both at home and on my work machine. (I suspect I will eventually migrate to awesome, or similar, this is very much a deliberate "ease myself into it" step.)

ObQuote: "Being Swedish, the walk from the bathroom to her room didn't need to be a modest one. " - Cashback.



Comments On This Entry

[gravitar] rjc

Submitted at 13:56:09 on 10 march 2012

Regarding window managers - I tried different types of WMs a couple of years ago and very much liked the tiling ones. I used several of them and eventually ended up using "awesome".

Apart from tiling (obviously) you can still have your floating windows if you like, it supports multiple screens (you'll love "Mod + Control + j/k" and "Mod4 + o"), has tags, notification area if you need it (hadn't used it much in the past but can be very useful), etc.

I started using it on my iBook where speed (1.33GHz G4), size (10") and resolution (1024×768) are on the lower end. With "luakit", "uzbl" (still can't make up my mind) and "rxvt-unicode" (with tabs) I hardly ever use the trackpad.
I used it on a high end machines as well where it's even better.

Low on resources (speed) + keyboard driven (productivity) + no mouse needed (kinder to your wrists, i.e. "RSI").

Hadn't looked back since.

[gravitar] Steve Kemp

Submitted at 14:02:26 on 10 march 2012

Thanks for the comment - I suspect you're right, and that I would love it.

For the moment I've chosen bluetile partly as is pretty flexible (without requiring any significant setup) and integrates well with my GNOME desktop.

Once I've had a couple of weeks/months using this successfully I'll look at alternatives, and I think awesome is probably the most obvious choice.

[gravitar] Jon

Submitted at 22:29:45 on 11 march 2012

Regarding CTIMEs etc.: I've had the exact same problem with ikiwiki (really, with git) in the past, too. I solved it by writing a script which set explicit ikiwiki metadata (equivalent to your Date: header) based on the initial commit time for each file, and the last commit to touch each file.

Thinking about it now, an ikiwiki plugin could probably just make it check those at build time. I suspect a chronicle plugin could do the same :)

[gravitar] Steve Kemp

Submitted at 22:35:44 on 11 march 2012

Thanks for the tip, having a quick search there are a couple of extensions for mercurial which record timestamps in the repository in some fashion.

I shall investigate, but I guess now I've resolved the original problem...


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