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You say those thousand things

29 December 2006 21:50

Only three things to say today:

Second anniversary

Today marks the second anniversary of the Debian Administration website.

(I think that this is the first public mention of my intention to setup the site. It was the earliest I could find anyway.)

Edinburgh Trivia

Doing my own small bit for Debconf I went for a walk on Christmas Day.

For two years I've lived in the area of Edinburgh known as Leith. (Famous for being a port, and being a port of call for hookers)

During that time I've taken buses, and walked, up and down Leith walk hundreds of times. Almost every time I do I notice a large chimney by The Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre.. The top 20/30ft of the chimney can be seen from peeking over the top of local buildings, assuming you're not blocked by other buildings. And now?

Now I know what it sits upon.

My little adventure in getting to know the city I've been living in; I wanted to find the bottom of the chimney and see what it was attached to. So if anybody coming to Debconf next year gets massively lost and curious about a large chimney en route to my house .. I can tell them all about it.

It is the little things in life ..

Xen Shell

I'm not sure that there are many people using this, the freshmeat listing has a few subscribers but I'm never sure how well that translates. (Plus of course nobody rated the software so it might be they hate it?). Anyway there are almost certainly far fewer users of the shell than the main xen-tools package - but as of last night the shell now allows you to control more than one Xen instance.

This is quite a large change, since previously it explicitly only supported one user controlling one Xen instance. Expect a new release shortly once I've tested it more, and updated the documentation.

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All the pigs are all lined up

1 January 2007 21:50

I am slowly recovering from a very hectic New Year Eve celebration in Edinburgh. I was surrounded by a several visiting schoolfriends of my girlfriend, and we even managed to meet up with a couple of visiting Canadians - the ex-girlfriend of an online friend and her cousin (both freshly arrived only a day or two ago).

Edinburgh weather was appalling, to the extent that the outdoor street party was cancelled - and several large trees were blown over in Leith.

The girls and myself spent the night walking around far too much before settling into a local pub and hearing the bells.

Now that I'm recovered I've just released a new version of xen-shell which allows you to control a number of xen instances rather than just the one.

I'm still not a nice person though.

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Don't make me laugh .. bitterly

30 May 2007 21:50

Debconf is coming up soon in Edinburgh, so I figured I'd make a couple of posts for people who are coming.

Party because I've been busy, but mostly because I'm always busy on the Mondays when meetings happen I'm not involved in organization - I figure when we get closer to the time I'll volunteer to collect people, give directions, and staff the information/reception desk at Teviot for three-four days. (I've got two weeks off work; so I'll be around for 99% of the duration.)

Steve's Guide to Edinburgh: Expenses

Compared to many places, such as the USA, Edinburgh is expensive. Partly because it is expensive relative to the UK, but partly because of the exchange rate.

Common costs, which will vary a little locally, but are approximately correct for the kind of places you'll be near:

  • 20 cigarettes £5.50
    • Inside a pub ~£7.00 - but ignore them because a) They'll only have 16, and b) You can't smoke in pubs/clubs/indoors nowadays..
  • 1 pint of beer £3.00
  • 1 pint of milk £0.50
  • Bus fare £1.
    • Any single journey, regardless of duration or distance travelled will cost you a single adult ticket.
    • Make more than three journeys in a day and you could get a single-day ticket which costs £2.20
  • Taxi fare from Teviot to my house ~£5.00
    • Alfie, Jacob Applebaum, and other random people who want to watch films, drink beer, and catch up.

That's most of the common prices I think people could care about. If you have specific products / items you'd be curious about feel free to post a comment and I'll give you a figure.

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What day is it? What year?

2 June 2009 21:50

For the past few days Edinburgh has been experiencing a mini-heatwave. This is mostly pleasant, but the downside is that I've become sunburnt and bitten by many insects.

Happily I've discovered that the mint plants I've got growing beneath my bedroom window are antipruritic ("anti-itch") which solves both problems.

Aside from the heat I've had a busy weekend wiring up some Lisp code to serve as an XML-RPC server, so that I can carry out some functions remotely.

I'm almost tempted to package the s-xml-rpc library if only locally, but I'm not confident I know what I'm doing. I mostly unpacked the source beneath /usr/share/common-lisp/source/s-xml-rpc and fiddled until things started working by magic.

In addition to getting more hooked upon Lisp I've spent a while tidying up obsolete pages on my websites, unifying services, and giving a minor overhaul to the appearance of things.

ObFilm: Terminator Salvation



I like languages

24 February 2011 21:50

One of the reasons I like Scotland is the fun that Scottish people have with language. I'm going to use two examples to illustrate my point:

  • "Mind" is often used as "Remember"
  • "How" is often used as "why".

The last one is particularly fun when you use questions such as "How no?" - meaning roughly "Why not?".

Languages, and idioms, vary wildly in different parts of the world, even when you restrict yourself to English-speaking languages. I'll not even get started on Accents. The UK is tiny compared to many other countries, yet we have a wide array of accents - Australia, by contrast is huge, but I can think of only two accents across the country. (Rationally I expect that there are many accents in different parts of Australia, and I'm merely ignorant.)

In conclusion languages are fun, and some places this is more evident than in others. I will most likely contintue to say "The shop is open from 9 while 4" rather than the more typical "From 9 til 4" - I'm allowed to do that, having grown up in Yorkshire!

(PS. PHP still sucks - Even if you post it upon a PHP-powered blog. ;)

ObQuote: "People take you for granted, you know. We gotta make people miss you." - Hancock



Some things get moved, some things get doubled in size.

11 April 2015 21:50


We're about three months away from relocating from Edinburgh to Newcastle and some of the immediate panic has worn off.

We've sold our sofa, our spare sofa, etc, etc. We've bought a used dining-table, chairs, and a small sofa, etc. We need to populate the second-bedroom as an actual bedroom, do some painting, & etc, but things are slowly getting done.

I've registered myself as a landlord with the city council, so that I can rent the flat out without getting into trouble, and I'm in the process of discussing the income possibilities with a couple of agencies.

We're still unsure of precisely which hospital, from the many choices, in Newcastle my wife will be stationed at. That's frustrating because she could be in the city proper, or outside it. So we need to know before we can find a place to rent there.

Anyway moving? It'll be annoying, but we're making progress. Plus, how hard can it be?

VLAN Expansion

I previously had a /28 assigned for my own use, now I've doubled that to a /27 which gives me the ability to create more virtual machines and run some SSL on some websites.

Using SNI I've actually got the ability to run SSL almost all sites. So I configured myself as a CA and generated a bunch of certificates for myself. (Annoyingly few tutorials on running a CA mentioned SNI so it took a few attempts to get the SAN working. But once I got the hang of it it was simple enough.)

So if you have my certificate authority file installed you can browse many, many of my interesting websites over SSL.


I run a number of servers behind a reverse-proxy. At the moment the back-end is lighttpd. Now that I have SSL setup the incoming requests hit the proxy, get routed to lighttpd and all is well. Mostly.

However redirections break. A request for:

  • https://lumail.org/docs

Gets rewritten to:

  • http://lumail.org/docs/

That is because lighttpd generates the redirection and it only sees the HTTP connection. It seems there is mod_extforward which should allow the server to be aware of the SSL - but it doesn't do so in a useful fashion.

So right now most of my sites are SSL-enabled, but sometimes they'll flip to naked and unprotected. Annoying.

I don't yet have a solution..