Greg
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February 2006
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Groogle

Wednesday, 1 February 2006 Echunga
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More mail from Bitmover today, and finally found the problem. To quote from a message I sent internally to the MySQL mailing lists:

Finally I put in a support request to Bitmover, and we finally solved the problem: the keys on the server were out of date.

bk doesn't help you here. It doesn't tell you which key is out of date (indeed, I didn't know that I needed on at the server end; the fact that I did is simply because it's NFS mounted from the same directory as the test machines, which hadn't been updated).

The other thing worth looking at is that, when comparing keys, you can't rely on the trick of comparing the last few characters of the keys. They're obviously not nearly as well encrypted as, say, MD5. The big difference between the two was at the beginning:

Old (expired): BKL543a34e43436....fff9b
New (valid): BKL544a54e74435....fff9b

There are also other places where the key could be hidden, potentially overriding the key in the environment variable. To check, use:

=== grog@wantadilla (/dev/ttypf) ~ 11 -> bk _preference license
If there's any discrepancy (there wasn't in my case), the following command may help:
=== grog@wantadilla (/dev/ttypf) ~ 12 -> bk help config-etc

BTW, the response from Bitmover was very fast, in the order of minutes. People may complain about their proprietary nature (and of course this problem would never have been able to occur with an open source system), but their support is good.

We're off to Sorrento in Italy next month. More travel plans, more impossible schedules, including a 17 hour stopover in Singapore. There must be a better way.

Apart from that, finally got back to my documentation. All this takes up so much time!


Thursday, 2 February 2006 Echunga Images for 2 February 2006
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Brian Aker was due in this afternoon, but I had hoped to finish my update to the backup requirements document this morning. Didn't make it. Between reading mail, doing my expenses and arranging flights, I managed to spend the entire 5 hours I had.

In town, picked Brian up and showed him around a bit, including passing through the South Australian museum just before it shut; it didn't occur to me that their collection of marine mammal skeletons, which were on display in the foyer, has a different significance since I joined MySQL:


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Then to the Cafe Buongiorno to meet with David Logan and to the User Group meeting, which went well. Late to bed.


Friday, 3 February 2006 Echunga
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I still haven't finished my design! And today was the day that I was planning to spend talking to Brian about it all. Faked it a bit, and then got talking; of course Brian came up with completely different issues from those that I had addressed. That's fine, though: that's the whole point of a design discussion. Left me with some things to think about; looks like we'll be doing some work tomorrow.

In the evening got a call from Yvonne, in the Razorback Road part of Kuitpo Forest: Amadeo had a colic, and I had to call Greg Rodda, the vet, while she brought him home. Greg got there before Yvonne (and Amadeo) did: she had lost Tina, one of our dogs. Turned out that there was nothing wrong with Amadeo, but we couldn't find Tina, and were left wondering whether she had got hurt, or whether she had set off “home” (and to what extent she knew where “home” was). Back home, had dinner, and then at dusk out to look for her again, scouring the forest where she was last seen. We were just about to give up when I saw her at a distance, coming from the direction of Kangarilla (the other direction from home). She appeared to be unhurt. Fun!


Saturday, 4 February 2006 Echunga Images for 4 February 2006
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Given the lack of work yesterday, we had intended to catch up today. Somehow that didn't happen either. Though I came up at breakfast with some clever ideas about snapshots and log replays, we didn't get beyond that.

Finally got to looking more carefully at the pump problem that had occurred while I was in New Zealand last week. The results were surprising. I had noted on Monday that only the power connector had failed. Today I took it apart and found:


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It's difficult to recognize, but that's a standard computer-style power connector. Two of the pins have burnt away completely; and one of them is the Ground connector! With a bit of thought, this discovery gave rise to a number of conclusions:

All in all, an interesting series of conclusions from so little evidence. I'll investigate their veracity in the coming couple of days.

We had intended to go out riding. Brian hadn't ridden with us before, and so we first put him on Lady in the arena:


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Unfortunately, Yvonne had to give a riding lesson after that, and after that Di Saunders had other things to do, so the ride in the forest fell flat. Instead, Brian and I went down to Kuitpo headquarters to look at the kangaroos, which were less in evidence than normal; walked around a bit and finally found some. After lunch off to McLaren Vale to do some wine tasting and (in my case) also wine buying.

How do you cook for a vegetarian? If he's a keen cook, let him do it himself. Both apply to Brian, so he ended up cooking us some fettuccine:


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That was well worth while: if you're not a vegetarian, it's much more difficult to come up with something useful.


Sunday, 5 February 2006 Echunga
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Up at 4 am again to catch a plane. Well, no. I woke up at 3:15 and couldn't get back to sleep, so got up even earlier than necessary. At least we only had to be there 30 minutes before takeoff.

Spam is getting on my nerves more and more. The new ones seem to completely confuse SpamAssassin, which takes too long anyway. Last year at BSDCan I had listened to a presentation about spamd (the OpenBSD one) by Bob Beck, and I have been meaning to install that ever since. The problem was that I had first to change my firewall from ipfw to pf. Today I took that step, and discovered one of the disadvantages of putting too much functionality in the base kernel: pf and ipfw are both klds, but I had ipfw in the kernel, which meant that I couldn't run pf. Building a new kernel is simple enough, once I get over the emotional barrier of having to take a machine down for reboot, but it's been a while since I last built a system for echunga, so first upgraded to the latest FreeBSD-STABLE (amusingly, from 5.3-PRERELEASE to 6.1-PRERELEASE).

Setting up pf was more complicated than it seems, mainly because of the precedence rules: most firewalls stop as soon as they find a match; pf takes the last match. Still, got the machine up and running again, after first completely isolating it from the network. Also put the UPS back in circuit; it works as if there had never been any problem, which lends support to the conclusions I came to yesterday about the electrical system.


Monday, 6 February 2006 Echunga
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It's certainly a good idea to take time off over the weekend, but sometimes it means that I seem to spend all Monday catching up on my mail. It wasn't really that bad: part of the problem was the job advertisement that I sent out, and in the process got a surprising number of replies. Didn't get much else done as a result, though.

The mail carried a surprise today: a Notice of Assignment of Debt from AAPT. This apparently relates to the dispute I had with them 18 months ago, which they confirmed to have been resolved last May. The sum is the same as the sum of the demand they handed off to Baycorp last April, and which Baycorp confirmed closed on 19 April last year. How much longer will this nonsense continue?

Also in the unpleasant issues department, reviewed the mail message I had received from AVIS just before going to Dunedin, and to which I had replied, requesting in no uncertain terms that they finally read my messages. They have kept to their normal standards of incompetence and refunded some additional money, without addressing my objections and without refunding the complete sum. As I stated in my reply, their levels of personal and corporate incompetence are mind-boggling.


Tuesday, 7 February 2006 Echunga
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Unexpected phone call today, from the Channel 9 TV station: they had read about my trouble with AAPT, amusingly before I had updated it with yesterday's events. A TV interview may come of it.

More resumes have come in. It's interesting how many I get from just a few mail messages. Plenty of analysis to do.

Finally got round to addressing one of my bugs. It's not made any easier by the fact that the build has broken in the meantime.


Wednesday, 8 February 2006 Echunga
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More work on the job applications today, which kept me busy. Also finally more time to look at my bug, in the process entering a new bug report about additional build breakage.


Thursday, 9 February 2006 Echunga
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More work on bugs today; I'm finally at least getting one fixed. Also more follow-ups for job applications.

Tried to send customer feedback to AVIS. That wasn't easy: they have a web form, of course (can't anybody use email any more?), and it insisted on my contract number and other details. Unfortunately, it didn't like the result, claiming that the contract number was invalid. I was able to work around that by changing the category to “other”. And of course I didn't get a copy of the message, if indeed it was sent. Why does everything about AVIS reek of incompetence?


Friday, 10 February 2006 Echunga
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Still lots of work, but little additional input for my requirements document. Things are stagnating. I have patches for one bug finished, but the test suite doesn't handle the situation correctly, so I have to fix that before I can commit.

Yvonne brought back a second-hand (but not very cheap) fridge for lagering purposes today. Only one problem: it doesn't work (the compressor doesn't start). Growl. Called up the supplier, who promises to bring another one tomorrow.


Saturday, 11 February 2006 Echunga Images for 11 February 2006
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These tests are getting on my nerves. It's fairly clear that the bug fix I made on Wednesday is correct, but the tests fail because the tests have bugs. And one test in particular fails in a way that I don't understand. Spent a bit of time looking at that, and made some progress, but not enough to fix the bug. Damn.

Sean from the fridge people came along today and fixed the fridge; defective thermostat. That seems to happen a lot.

Also spent some time looking at the water pump and the pipe connections. Down to the “Barn” at Meadows to buy some pipe fittings; why do they never have the pieces you need? Most of the problem was simply mapping the available components to what I needed to do. Finally got it finished, though, and also repaired the power connections to the pump; fortunately I was right in my assessment last week, and the pump works fine.

Apart from that didn't do much. Spent some time reading fiction, something I haven't done for a long time, reading “The Smile on the Face of the Tiger”, by Hurd and Osmond, a book that Sue Fortescue had bought in 1970, and which we had taken with us to Turkey in July 1970; it looks correspondingly tatty. I don't think I had ever read it, which makes it doubly amusing: it's set in “the future” (1976) and handles a demand by China for the return of Hong Kong. Quite amusing to read it from a viewpoint 30 years after the “event”.


Sunday, 12 February 2006 Echunga Images for 12 February 2006
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I had all sorts of plans for things to do today, but somehow didn't get much done.

A month or so ago I bought a pair of power supply boards on eBay in the assumption that they would save me the bother of building my own. They did that, of course, but as usual the devil is in the detail. The power supplies came with pin connectors on each end:


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The supplier thoughtfully included the material to make the plugs, but they're all joined together. In other such systems, it's relatively simple: the pins are joined at the top, and you just cut the top off. Here they're joined in the middle, and I can't find a way to separate them cleanly enough to fit in the shells:


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It looks as if I'll need either to get different connectors, or to get better cutters to remove the remaining edges.

How I hate Mplayer. Here's the screen output after I entered an incorrect command line (I think I specified a non-existent file):

Encrypted VOB file! Read DOCS/HTML/en/dvd.html.

Too many video packets in the buffer: (4096 in 8254351 bytes).
Maybe you are playing a non-interleaved stream/file or the codec failed?
For AVI files, try to force non-interleaved mode with the -ni option.
MPEG: No audio stream found -> no sound.
VIDEO:  MPEG1  720x576  (aspect 2)  25.000 fps  9800.0 kbps (1225.0 kbyte/s)
==========================================================================
Opening audio decoder: [liba52] AC3 decoding with liba52
Using SSE optimized IMDCT transform

MPlayer interrupted by signal 11 in module: init_audio_codec
- MPlayer crashed by bad usage of CPU/FPU/RAM.
  Recompile MPlayer with --enable-debug and make a 'gdb' backtrace and
  disassembly.  Details in DOCS/HTML/en/bugreports_what.html#bugreports_crash.
- MPlayer crashed.  This shouldn't happen.
  It can be a bug in the MPlayer code _or_ in your drivers _or_ in your
  gcc version.  If you think it's MPlayer's fault, please read
  DOCS/HTML/en/bugreports.html and follow the instructions there.  We can't and
  won't help unless you provide this information when reporting a possible bug.
      

Beginners usually don't read the content of error messages. In this case, I can't blame them. About the only thing that I can see here is that mplayer doesn't do enough error checking.


Monday, 13 February 2006 Echunga Images for 13 February 2006
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David Edmonds, Greg's son, along this morning to find out where the leak in the underground water system was. He found it after a while and fixed it, but as I feared it's (apparently) not the last leak.

Still no improvement on my bug; being out of the time zone of most other developers is a pain. Spent most of the day writing yet more backup documentation.


Tuesday, 14 February 2006 Echunga
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Mail messages from Avis today—not one, but three. The first, with the informative subject line “Avis”, was a message acknowledging the receipt of the web message I had left last Thursday (faster than a speeding bullet!). The second, also with the subject line “Avis”, was a message on the same topic apparently addressed to the support people. The third, again with the subject line “Avis”, stated:

Cust.  Service - E-Mail - Tulsa would like to recall the message, "Avis".
      

It's amazing how consistent they are. Can they do anything right?

More progress on my bugs and also on the backup requirements documentation; the latter is now in a form that I can present for discussion.


Wednesday, 15 February 2006 Echunga
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Serg doesn't like my patch for Bug 14286: he thinks it will incur too much bloat for embedded systems. I'm not sure that it will, but it needs to be discussed.

More work on the backup documents, which are now (barely) good enough to put up for review on our Intranet. Certainly lots of people are talking about backup. I'm even getting requests on unrelated IRC channels.

Conference call with an external company Bangalore in the evening about a backup solution they're writing. Without any preparation didn't get much out of it, but hopefully we can change that quickly.


Thursday, 16 February 2006 Echunga
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Short working day today, stopping round midday. Got some feedback about the backup design; it's clear, though, that I'm going to have to completely restructure it.

Then into town for an ADUUG lunch, a revisit of at the the “Thai in a Wok” in Hindmarsh Square, which has nice outside seating for the kind of weather we had today (35°, in fact a little warmer than we would really have liked). Unfortunately, the food was not as good as last time, though the portions were as small: once again I ended up ordering a second main course.

Then to visit Ramana, where we spent a lot of time, signed yet a few more forms, but didn't do much else. I'll be happy when this is all sorted out.


Friday, 17 February 2006 Echunga
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Lots of telephoning today, and still more revision of the backup plans. Every time I revisit the design, I find new things to change.

There's been a lot of talk about Skype in the internal mailing lists, so I finally installed it. On the positive side, the FreeBSD port installed with no problems. It also showed that software doesn't have to be free to have no documentation. With a bit of effort managed to get a user ID. I have great difficulty believing that the names groggy, groogle and groggle are all taken. It finally allowed me to call myself groggled. Maybe it wanted at least 8 characters for the name. So now I have skype and have no idea what to do with it. More web searches are needed, I suppose, to make up for the missing documentation.


Saturday, 18 February 2006 Echunga Images for 18 February 2006
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Brew day today. I only barely had enough malt to make a reasonable amount, so decided to stretch it with wheat flour. In principle there's nothing to be said against the use of wheat in beer, and I've done it several times before. But this was the first time I had used wheat flour. Bad idea. During the mash it gelatinized and blocked up the sparge manifold, causing the worst case of stuck sparge that I have ever experienced. Gave up and left it to soak out; I'll syphon it off tomorrow.

In the afternoon working on a “new” project (I've really been working on it for years) that I'll announce in a few days time. In the course of that time the Makefile has become really kludgy, and I really should tidy it up before publication.

The project was the release of the machine readable version and sources of “The Complete FreeBSD”, which happened on the tenth anniversary, Friday, 24 February 2006

Sunday, 19 February 2006 Echunga
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On with my stuck sparge today, and finally got most of the sugar out and not too much grain. But it tasted sour, and the pH was round 4.1; I assume that it must have formed lactic acid in that short time. Added a total of 45g sodium bicarbonate to bring the pH back to 5.6, and then hoped for the best.

Apart from that, more work on my secret project, which is now looking in better shape.


Monday, 20 February 2006 Echunga Images for 20 February 2006
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I hate Monday mornings! As usual, spent most of the morning replying to mail. Mail seems to be on the increase: I seem to be getting about 2,500 messages a day at the moment.

It's been over a month since I reported the problem with the ejector for the PC Card slot on my Dell Inspiron 6000. As I expected when Charles came at the end of last month, they have taken no further action, and I had to call back. That took 35 minutes on hold; my telephone headset has proved very useful. Finally was connected to Wayson, to whom I had to say the word “ejector” three times before he accepted it. Clearly they have no record of the problem. He promised me that somebody would come tomorrow to fix it. Later I got another call from Roy, who confirmed that he was in Malaysia, and who said that Charles or Andrew would come along tomorrow and fix it. I wonder how they expect to have the material by then.

The oven that had required so much debugging in October 2004 failed again round Christmas, again with the same element burnt out. At that time we decided that it wasn't worth repairing every year, so I finally bought a new on on eBay. It arrived today. The oven looks good enough, but it's yet another example for absolutely appalling documentation:


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The left hand side of the page shows four function selector layouts; mine is the switch with the 10 positions at top right. I have little idea what the symbols mean, and the description on the right no longer refers to them. It looks as if I'll have to use trial and error to work out what the individual positions do.

It's also interesting to note the choice of words. I can only assume that the Italian word for “heating element” is the same as the word for “resistance”, and the translator made the wrong choice of word.

Call from somebody calling herself Lisa this evening. She claimed to be from Telstra, and gave the identification D244456 when asked. She then proceeded to ask me for confirmation of account details. They do this every year, but it still pisses me off: I'm really surprised that nobody has had their accounts abused by this method.

Long phone call in the evening, shattering my plans for a short-term backup solution. Back to the drawing board.


Tuesday, 21 February 2006 Echunga Images for 21 February 2006
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Charles in from Dell today round midday with a new motherboard for my laptop. I was astounded. It's unfortunate that replacing the PC Card slot requires a new motherboard, but the fact that it happened so quickly blew my mind; it's completely out of keeping with my previous experience. Still, a pleasant surprise.

More work on my backup plans today, effectively back to square one. Spent some time redoing the documentation.


Wednesday, 22 February 2006 Echunga
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Still working on my backup design. Every time I think I have nailed something down, it changes. An external contributor has supplied code that will do a table snapshot in MyISAM, but it still isn't ready. Given a deadline of early June, it looks as if this is probably the best thing to concentrate on for 5.2. Spent a lot of time on the phone discussing the matter. One of the frustrating things is that the deadline is so close that I don't really even have time to hire somebody else: to quote Fred Brooks, Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

As if I weren't busy enough already, a minor domestic issue took up far too much time: the bread slicer failed (mechanical failure: the blade mounting disintegrated). It was about 15 years old, so that in itself wasn't an issue, but finding a new one might be. Spent far too much time looking for spare parts (just in case, but not available), and then on eBay looking for suitable machines. They don't seem to be used much in Australia.


Thursday, 23 February 2006 Echunga
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More backup design work; I've been rotating for a while, but now things are gradually moving outside, and it looks like we'll have a few phone calls with customers as well. Busy day.

Into Mount Barker in the afternoon to look at various things, including a slicer. To my surprise, I didn't find a single one. They've been on every street corner in Germany for decades.

On the way home, stopped on Old Mount Barker Road by a policeman who had apparently been waiting for me. I was clocked doing 94 km/h in an 80 zone; $170 fine! This obsession with the measurable really pisses me off.


Friday, 24 February 2006 Echunga Images for 24 February 2006
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It's been ten years since I submitted the first version of “The Complete FreeBSD” for publication. Time flies when you're having fun! To mark the occasion (but also the fact that I no longer have time to work on the project), released the book on the web. Sent out message to announce@FreeBSD.org, which got put on the moderator queue, and then to questions@FreeBSD.org, which started quite some traffic. It wasn't until the message to announce@FreeBSD.org was sent that things really took off. The first download was shortly before midday:

c-24-63-86-11.hsd1.ma.comcast.net - - [24/Feb/2006:11:19:54 +1100] "GET /grog/Documentation/CFBSD/book.pdf.gz HTTP/1.1" 200 4899848 "http://www.lemis.com/grog/Documentation/CFBSD/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; FreeBSD i386; en-US; rv:1.8.0.1) Gecko/20060205 Firefox/1.5.0.1"

In the rest of the day, we hit the limits of the apache configuration, and many requests were rejected with a 503 error (“temporarily unable to service your request”). Things quietened down a little, though, and by the end of the day I had the following numbers of hits:

   6036 /grog/Documentation/CFBSD/book.pdf.gz
   4622 /grog/Documentation/CFBSD
   2064 /grog/Documentation/CFBSD/source.tar.gz
      

The increase load on the server was also noticeable:

 
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Apart from that, still more work on the backup design. Somehow progress is much slower than I would like.


Saturday, 25 February 2006 Echunga
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The idea of releasing the book was so that I didn't need to do anything more about it myself. For today at least, that backfired badly. Got a number of reports that the book wasn't buildable, and spent most of the day looking at little nits. I'm still suffering from the PDF ligature problem. It's straightforward enough to include the fonts in the document—if you have the fonts in the first place. But where are the font metrics for “standard” fonts like Times Roman and Courier? Not only are they missing, they seem to be different from the standard PDF, so the spacing round the ligatures is wrong when it's reconstituted.

On the positive side, the system is now holding up to the load, and we're not getting any 503s any more. The load seems to depend more on the time of day (this is UTC+11):

Network load


Sunday, 26 February 2006 Echunga Images for 26 February 2006
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Another slow day. The downloads continued much more evenly than a slashdotting did, and by the evening they were still at half the initial rate.

Spent some time round the house. Essey Deayton left for Queensland about 9 months ago, and when she did she left us some pot plants. One in particular has flowered continuously almost the whole time we've had it, but it's some kind of assisted creeper that needs a trellis, so put up some wire mesh:


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I still don't know what this flower is. There is some suggestion that it might be a variant pandorea, but I can't find anything similar on the web.

On 1 February 2008 I found some of these flowers for sale. They're Mandevillas, and this particular cultivar is called “Crimson Fantasy”:


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Another thing of interest is the gum tree that got blown down at Christmas hasn't taken the lack of a trunk lying down. Looks like it's going to be a bush now:


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All images taken on Sunday, 26 February 2006, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 26 February 2006, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 26 February 2006 Complete exposure details

 
Monday, 27 February 2006 Echunga
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Another day from hell! I have so much to do that I haven't even managed to get through the weekend's mail. Only a few hours fighting the most important parts of my backup spec before the monthly meeting of the ICT Council for South Australia, coupled with a house-warming for the new premises at 111 Gawler Place. Marg Nowlan is leaving us, unfortunately, so we combined the event with a farewell for her.

11:10 June from Bank SA in Mount Barker called, wanted to know about portfolio loans set up in October. Gave her the number of Ramana to call.

The downloads of the book continue. It seems that we shouldn't be exceeding 1 Mb/s upstream, and so things look a little different now:

Network load

That's even clearer in the weekly overview:

Network load


Tuesday, 28 February 2006 Echunga
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The pressure continues. The book required attention: given the bandwidth restrictions, it was clear that I needed to move it to somewhere else. Samuel Greear offered me space on the evilcode.net machine, so it's now at grog.evilcode.net/. The ozlabs.org load dropped back to normal pretty quickly:

Network load

That's even clearer in the weekly overview:

Network load

The load on evilcode.net was interesting: at the same time it raised to 5 Mb/s:

Network load

The time zone difference is 10 hours, so the changes are pretty consistent. Still, in the first 24 hours on evilcode.net, got relatively few hits:

book.pdf.gz      3792
book.ps.gz       1490
source.tar.gz     542
      

On the work front, another day of getting nothing done, as my mail backlog clearly shows:

Network load

Yvonne into town to look at slicers. The one she went looking for wasn't suitable (couldn't cut bread), but to our surprise she found a Sunbeam ES9600 in a retail outlet, almost exactly what we were looking for; Sunbeam even had the instructions on the web, highly commendable. Told her to buy it, then read the instructions: you need three hands to run the thing. One holds the device on its rubber feet and prevents it from skewing, one holds the food you're slicing—and the third holds down the damned silly “safety” switch. No wonder the things don't sell; who wants a device that needs two people to operate it? Admittedly I've seen this problem in Germany too, but this looks like safety precautions going too far. Next they'll be requiring safety guards for knives. Called Yvonne to tell her not to buy the thing, but she had already discovered the same problem. So we're back to square one. Very frustrating.

More phone calls, both interviews and discussions. Once again I need to throw my design out and start again.


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