Entries tagged birthday

Related tags: birthday.my.flat, computers, dnsmasq, dpl, eee pc, flat, forks, lenny, life, lvm, mamod, nodejs, pxe, qpsmptd, raid, redisfs, sid, steam, templer, time, wishlist.

Time passes, Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

This weekend I have mostly been reading Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time .

In modern times we divide the earth up into rings of lines, latitude and longitude, as wikipedia will explain.

Finding your latitude is easy, finding your longitude is a difficult process, and it was vitaly important when people started to sail large distances, the book contained lots of stories of sailors being suddenly suprised by the appearance of land - because they'd misjudged their position.

Having four ships, containing garlic, pepper, and other goods of value exceeding the total wealth of the UK, sink all at once was a major blow. Not to mention the large number of sailors who lost their lives.

There were several solutions proposed, involving steady hands and telescopes, etc, but the book mostly discusses John Harrison and his use of watches/clocks.

John Harrison was featured in Only Fools & Horses, as the designer of the watch that made Delboy & Rodney millionaires.

->Time on our hands

The idea of using a clock is that you take one with you, set to the time of your departure location. Using that clock you can compare the time to the local-time, by viewing the sun, etc. Calculating the difference between the two times allows you to see how far away, in degrees, from your port, and thus how far you've traveled.

Until harrison came along clocks weren't accurate enough to keep time. His clocks would lose a second a month, until then clocks might lose 15 minutes a day. (With more variations depending on temperture, location, and pressure. Clearly things like pendulum clocks weren't suitable for rocking ships either.)

All in all this book was a great read, there were mentions of Galilao, Newton, and similar folk who we've all heard of. There was angst, drama, deceit, and some stunning craftmanship.

Harrison was a woodworker, and he made his clocks out of wood (+brass where necessary). Choosing fast/slow-grown wood depending on purpose, and using wood that secreted oils naturally allowed him to avoid lubrication - which improved accuracy, as lubricants tend to thin/thicken when temperature/pressure change.

A lovely read, thank you very much.

In other news I received several patches for my templer static-site generator, and this has resulted in much improvement. I've also started using Test::Exception now, and slowly updating all my perl code to use this.

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So I'm a year older

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Last week I had another birthday, which was nice. I'm now all mature, and everything. Honest.

I received a few surprise gifts from friends and strangers alike, which was pretty good. Other than that I didn't do too much.

This weekend I'm going to be using "airbnb" to spend the weekend in Dundee with my partner who is regularly commuting between Edinburgh and Perth/Dundee, to work in various hospitals. With all the commuting time she's not had too much time to explore the actual city, and I've only been there once before so I'm sure it will be a fun weekend.

The templer static site generator got a little bit of pimping on LWN.net the other day, thanks to Martin Michlmayr, although embarassingly I seem to have read the article and repeated the content in the conclusion, and duplicated that in my own comment. Ooops.

Beyond that I've done little coding recently, although I suspect now that nodejs has had a stable release I might do something interesting soon. I don't want to dwell on the failure of Sim City - because I don't run windows and couldn't have tried it even if I wanted to - but I'm pondering the idea of a persistant grid-space where different items can be placed.

I've not tried anything browser-based before, but the popularity of things like minecraft make me wonder if you had an "infinite grid" where folk could store "stuff", and scroll around in a browser you might be able to do interesting things.

Starting small, with a 100x100 grid, and some kind of updated play-by-mail turfwars/drug-war like experience should be simple. But then again enthusiasm is easy to generate until you start working out how you'd interface with the server and what kind of client you'd need.

Now to enjoy some 21 year old whisky and call it a night..

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A few forks.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Although I promised in my previous entry that I'd made my last mention of the redisfs - replication friendly redis-based filesystem I have to disappoint.

Ben Sykes informed me that he'd made a fork of redisfs, called shredisfs. I like forks. Forks are good, and this particular one was very welcome - from the README:

Steve's original managed around 250k per second for writes on my test machine, this version does about 15MB a second writes.

...

Read speed on the test machine here now is around 180MB/sec..

Needless to say I "stole" the improvements and rolled them into my original release. Thanks all round to those of you that submitted bug reports, suggestions, and codez.

I also had a release out briefly which used zLib to compress the values of keys stored in memory. Unfortunately that lead to a net-slowdown for files which were bigger than a single block - due to the overhead of file-system appends which translated to: "fetch", "compress", "append", and "decompress".

Finally on the subject of qpsmtpd, my favourite SMTP-server - the exceptionally talented Matt Sergeant released a proof of concept rewrite in Javascript. Using nodejs this new SMTP server is heavily asynchronous and you can find it online under the name Haraka.

Although my javascript-fu is weak I'm very impressed by the codebase out there so far, and I'd expect good things of it in the future. Even if it does use Javascript and not my beloved Perl.

Finally I'm a year older. But birthdays aren't important.

ObQuote: "Do you wanna know what makes all my candy taste so special? " - Epic Movie.

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You Greeks take pride in your logic. I suggest you employ it.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Tomorrow, all being well, I'll receive a new computer.

I've always run Debian unstable upon my desktop in the past, partly because I wanted to have "new stuff" and partly because I needed a Debian unstable system for building Debian packages with.

However I'm strongly tempted to just install Lenny. I use that upon my work desktop and it does me just fine for surfing, building tools, and similar.

I can use pbuilder, sbuildd, or similar to build packages for upload to Debian, and if I want to experiment with new-hotness I can use a KVM guest or two.

Providing the hardware works with Lenny (and I have no reason to believe it won't) then there's no obvious downside I can think of.

The only potential complication will be restoring my backups, it is possible that my firefox databases, and similar things, might not work on older version. Still we shall see.

I plan to install software RAID, and run the system on LVM because quite frankly it rocks. Unless my current system fails in the next 24 hours I can use that to do the installation (My current desktop acts as a TFTP/DHCP/NFS server so I can use it to PXE-boot).

Anyway now I need to go eat food, tidy my desk, and decide what to call the machine .. At the moment the choice is between "march.my.flat" and birthday.my.flat, as my 34th birthday is on March 10th.

ObFilm: 300

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Oh my God, someone ate my entire pie!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was full of cookies, pies, magical pixie dust and things made entirely of sugar and spice!

The remainder of the day was spent re-installing Debian Lenny upon my EEE PC - Somehow I managed to completely screw the system.

Because the EEE PC is one of those ultra-portable machines I mostly used it when I was travelling, or outdoors. That mean I was generally receiving poor connectivity and the system packages weren't up to date.

While I was in bed I figured I'd dist-upgrade it to the recently released Lenny. Unfortunately I started the dist-upgrade inside X.org, once I realised this I figured I'd cancel the operation via Ctrl-c.

Bad news everbody: I think I was unlucky enough to interrupt an upgrade of libc, or something equally critical. Every single application gave segfaults afterward.

I had two open root terminals and I could navigate around via cd .., and "echo *", but all other commands such as sudo, dpkg, strace just gave segfaults. (Even static commands gave errors - so it might have been the dynamic loader that was borked, I admit I didn't look too closely.)

I figured reinstalling would be a good solution since the machine has a 4Gb root partition and /home was stored on a separate 16Gb volume. Unfortunately I managed to misjudge the installer's partitioning step and nuke the partition table on the external volume so I ended up losing the whole system.

Happily reinstallation was a breeze as my home network is setup to allow installation via PXE network booting (at some point I should document NFS-root PXE-booting). It took me longer to fiddle with the BIOS on the EEE PC to allow network booting than it did to complete a minimal install. Which I guess is good.

I still need to restore my backup of /home/, but that can wait a few days. Right now I'm loathe to touch the machine at all - although I did distract myself by getting KVM to PXE boot:

# create 4gb disk image
dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/img.img bs=1024 count=4096k

# launch KVM
sudo kvm -no-acpi
  -boot n -tftp /var/lib/tftpboot/ -bootp /pxelinux.0
  -hda /tmp/img.img
  -net nic,macaddr=00:0E:35:be:de:ad  -net user

It seems that KVM wants to have access to the local TFTP root directory so I just pointed it at that. Since my desktop machine is also my TFTP + DHCP host that works out nicely. (A quick scan of the manual suggests that QEMU/KVM has funky built-in TFTP code, so it doesn't actually forward TFTP requests over the network.)

DHCP requests were certainly passed around as expected though and were answered via my local dnsmasq installation. I did see errors at every DHCP request in syslog, but they seemed harmleess enough:

gold dnsmasq[29241]: no address range available for DHCP request via qemu0

*shrugs*

ObFilm: Never Been Kissed.

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Book Us A Ticket On The Next Space Shuttle

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Tomorrow I turn 32, so I've got to be all mature and responsible and stuff now. Maybe.

This means no more song lyrics will be used for blog titles. Instead I shall switch to film quotes. Films are more mature than songs, right?

There are three candidates standing for the DPL this year. I'm glad I didn't stand, but I came pretty close to doing so. I just think I'd be unlikely to receive the votes, and busy enough to fail even if I did get picked.

It seems to me that every year people promise to do too many things; fixing NEW, fixing the NM process & etc..

Me? I'd have only one goal: Open up the keyring-handling. Nothing more. Nothing less.

(Sure I'd blow all the Debian money on new toys for people but that'll be our little secret ;)

Anyway since there was a bit of interest I've uploaded a new steam engine video and I've started to document some of my collection:

More updates later. Really I need to sit down, clean my toys, and then get some good pictures taken.

Maybe next month I'll find the time. (Ha!)

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