An aggregation of our Blog Roll, made up of acmqueue authors.   more

Postings for September 2016:  (35 posts)
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 00:01:38 UTC

Goodbye KnoppMyth, hello LinHES

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally I had time to recover the disk on cvr2. Found a new, larger disk, inserted it and an old FreeBSD disk into the machine, and booted FreeBSD. First removed the partition table with gpart, and then I was then able to copy the disk with dd. All over, including 250 GB of data transfer, in under 90 minutes. Booting wasn't so easy: after booting from the new disk, mounting the root file system failed. That's quite common under these circumstances, but the message (preceded by a trace) was new: Failed to recover EFIs on filesystem: sda1 That's from XFS, something I don't really know too well, but it appears to be some log corruption.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 19:00:00 UTC

Still Playing No Mans Sky

Posted By Tim Bray

Usually before I go to bed, for an hour or so. Idly poking around planets, finding stuff to beef up my weapon or suit or ship, chatting with aliens. Except for Ive decided to head for the center of the galaxy, so maybe Ill be done soon, whatever that means. This is mostly to pass along tips and share pix. Sharing an evening vista with a weird plant. The little red shield means my inventory was (as it used to be, usually) full. Its an easy game Seriously. Yes there are skills you need to learn, and youll die a few times until you learn them.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:17:07 UTC

Come see me in Portland, Riverside, LA, and San Francisco

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I’ve got a busy couple of weeks coming up! I’m speaking tomorrow at Powell’s in Portland, OR for Banned Books Week; on Wednesday, I’m at UC Riverside speaking to a Philosophy and Science Fiction class; on Friday I’ll be at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, speaking on Canada’s dark decade of policy... more

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 17:19:29 UTC

How free software stayed free

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I did an interview with the Changelog podcast (MP3) about my upcoming talk at the O’Reilly Open Source conference in London, explaining how it is that the free and open web became so closed and unfree, but free and open software stayed so very free, and came to dominate the software landscape. Desperate is often... more

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 01:05:04 UTC

cvr2 dead

Posted By Greg Lehey

Recoding a recording on today, and in the middle got an error message: I/O error. What's that? Disk full? df told me nothing: it hung. So did everything else. It looked like a disk error. Connected a keyboard, but couldn't switch to the console, so I had to reboot. Nothing in /var/log/messages, apart from some silly --- MARK --- messages. Nothing in /var/log/syslog apart from some misspelt messages from cron. OK, it seemed to be working again. But only for an hour or so. This time I took a look at the console. Nothing. Why is Linux so lacking in error reporting?

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 00:50:34 UTC

Full Google Maps, an easier way

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of months ago I found a way to trick Google Maps into switching to Full mode, even though I wasn't using its anointed hardware and software. But it was somewhat clumsy, and in general I didn't bother. But today, also by chance, I found a much easier way, at least for firefox: Display something in Street View. Close the tab or window. Select History/Recently closed Tabs. Presto! Select YES.

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 19:14:57 UTC

Why Google should buy Twitter

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

[Disclaimer: I do not work for Google or Twitter; I have no investments in Google or Twitter. ] Google should buy Twitter. (link to rumors here) Twitter isn't a good "MBA runs the numbers" acquisition. However could be used as a showcase for CGE. It would more than justify itself. In fact, the financial losses might be off-set by the marketing value it provides to CGE. As part of integrating it into the internal Google stack, they should require their engineers to rebuild it on the Google Cloud Engine platform. GCE scales crazy-good. Twitter has a history of scaling problems. If Google could run it on the Google Cloud Engine, and show that it scales, it would be great advertising.

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:59:55 UTC

Making friends with kdenlive

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had a video clip from 17 April 1969 which I wanted to put into the diary for the day. My last experience with kdenlive didn't get me very far, but I had to do something. Today I tried again. Once again it asked me for setup details, which I thought were for the first time only. But for whatever reason it asks for them every time, with a series of 6 windows with Next buttons in different positions, clearly designed to irritate. Then I read the documentation again. Thank God it's there! It wouldn't have made any sense at all without it.

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 01:04:02 UTC

Ports upgrade

Posted By Greg Lehey

Encouraged (for some reason) by the installation of kdenlive, it occurred to me that it was probably time to upgrade other ports, notably the browsers that had just crashed. Started off with chromium: === root@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~ 137 -> pkg upgrade chromium The following 55 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked): Installed packages to be REMOVED:         vips-8.2.2         cups-image-2.0.3_2         cups-client-2.0.3_2         inkscape-0.91_6         nip2-8.2 New packages to be INSTALLED:         cups: 2.1.4 Installed packages to be UPGRADED:         chromium: 48.0.2564.97 -> 52.0.2743.116 ...

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 00:54:12 UTC

Understanding kdenlive

Posted By Greg Lehey

After finally installing kdenlive, time to run it. And sure enough, it popped up an introduction window: Followed that and got: Sigh. Maybe not the current version? Off to the web site to find out, but it's one of those sites that don't even tell you what it is, let alone what the latest version. At there's a section History. Well, a heading; there's no content.

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 00:10:18 UTC

Video editing revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have a large number of old 8 mm ciné films that my father took between 1956 and about 1980, now copied onto VHS tape, where suddenly there were only two E-180 tapes, both not full. Some time ago I copied one of them to DVD, and it looks like a good time to dissect the individual clips, which are very short: the old Standard 8 mm film only lasted 4 minutes, and it was very expensive. So a video editor. But which one? I've been here before. Once again I tried Project X, and once again I couldn't work out how to use it.

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 19:00:00 UTC

Focal Length and Angle

Posted By Tim Bray

If you care about cameras you probably like learning about interesting new (and old) lenses. Theyre described by two numbers: How wide they open (also: aperture, brightness, speed), and how long they are (also: focal length). That first number is generally comparable across lenses: Lower is better. The aperture unit, F-stop, is hardly intuitive, but whatever. Focal lengths are hard to compare, because how much the lens sees depends on how big the sensor behind it is, and there are lots of different sensor sizes. Generally, focal lengths are expressed as 35mm equivalent, meaning If we stuck this lens in front of a sensor the size of traditional photographic film, which is the same size used in modern expensive digital cameras, heres what the focal length would be. Which is dumb and irritating, because thats not the number printed on the side of the lens, and anyhow, the number itself ...

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 00:40:28 UTC

Hugin bugs

Posted By Greg Lehey

Michael Havens has sent several messages to the Hugin mailing list recently describing the problems that he has had with Hugin, and I've tried answering some of them. His most recent message: I got 34 images and when I first load the images everything seems cool but when I click align I get an error <below>. Then I click continue and it says that none of my images have control points and that I need to put them in manually. Any ideas as to what's wrong? ASSERT INFO: /usr/include/wx-3.0/wx/strvararg.h(451): assert "(argtype & (wxFormatStringSpecifier::value)) == argtype" failed in wxArgNormalizer(): format specifier ...

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 23:55:11 UTC

Increase speed limits!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Bill Tilley, a Victorian MLA of whom I had never heard, has started a survey (really a vote) on speed limits on Victorian freeways (only). Clearly a thing of which I am in favour, and I replied accordingly: See Speed limits have been imposed for the primary intention of reducing traffic accidents. As official documents quoted there indicate, this intention has not been met: depsite lower traffic volumes, road accidents in Victoria are higher than in Germany, where there is no general speed limit. Clearly the underlying assumption is to blame.

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 00:40:49 UTC

Slow day

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another slow day with nothing much to report. I suppose as I get older there will be more of them. I had intended to take my monthly garden photos, but the weather wasn't up to it. Spent some time watching the Marc Levoy videos, in the process noting that teevee can't render WebM sound correctly, while eureka has no trouble. What's the issue there? ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:19:02 UTC

Discounts on The Practice books until Sept 19!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Pearson is doing their annual "Back to Business" sale until Monday, September 19. You can save 35-45%, which is a big deal IMHO. The Practice of Cloud System Administration is 35% off, or 45% off if you buy 2 copies. Buy one for yourself and get a copy for a friend for their birthday. Just use this link to receive the discount. You can also get a copy of the Cloud Administration book plus the new 3rd Edition of The Practice of System and Network Administration (when it ships in November) and save 45% if you use this link and enter offer code "B2B".

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 19:00:00 UTC

Old Geek

Posted By Tim Bray

Im one. Were not exactly common on the ground; my profession, apparently not content with having excluded a whole gender, is mostly doing without the services of a couple of generations. This was provoked by a post from James Gosling, which Ill reproduce because it was on Facebook and I dont care to learn how to link into there: Almost every old friend of mine is screwed. In the time between Sun and LRI Id get lines like We normally dont hire people your age, but in your case we might make an exception. In my brief stint at Google I had several guys in their 30s talk about cosmetic surgery.

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 00:46:38 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

Spam is a way of life, of course, and a reasonable amount comes from people who want to improve my web site, even if it isn't mine. This particular one strikes me for a number of reasons: From: Oliver Hodges | Page Port Pty Ltd <> To: Subject: My name is Oliver and I am-Digital-Marketing-Manager. I recently browsed through your business-website-and wanted to highlight some key points for consideration. I am sure I can help your-website-rank on-Search-Engines-a lot easier. I have compiled a-website-audit-which lists all the areas that your-website- needs improvement in.

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 18:12:21 UTC

Revision Control Smells

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

As software developers, we talk about code smells , design smells , and even configuration smells . While reviewing some code, it occurred to me that revision control smells are also distinguishable and important. Here are some obvious ones and my recommendations for avoiding them. An orderly revision control repository is a sign of professionalism.

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 23:37:45 UTC

Levoy's depth of field explained

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm continuing with Marc Levoy's photography course. It's interesting, but the production is still an issue, and by lecture 4 (which has other sound quality issues) he's only just getting round to repeating questions posed (inaudibly) during the lecture. The course so far (currently handling lenses) is really quite technical, and I'm learning quite a bit. But he has come back to depth of field, an issue that had occupied me a couple of days ago, and it seems that he's making some quick and dirty assumptions, notably that the conjugate of the circle of confusion is small relative to the aperture: The size of the cognate is proportional to the magnification.

Sat, 10 Sep 2016 23:41:21 UTC

Thou shalt not KILL

Posted By Greg Lehey

Came across this on IRC today: ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sat, 10 Sep 2016 00:13:24 UTC

Old Kuala Lumpur, Facebook style

Posted By Greg Lehey

The photos that I licensed to Telekom Malaysia have now been published on Facebook, as part of a photo montage: It almost looks as if they took the versions I supplied before fixing them up. But maybe that's part of the impression they want to make. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 16:12:12 UTC

If DRM is so great, why wont anyone warn you when youre buying it?

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Last month, I filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of Electronic Frontier Foundation, 22 of EFF’s supporters, and a diverse coalition of rightsholders, public interest groups, and retailers, documenting the ways that ordinary Americans come to harm when they buy products without realizing that these goods have been encumbered with DRM, and... more

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 00:46:30 UTC

Marc Levoy's depth of field calculation

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm continuing watching Marc Levoy's photo course, and as I suspected the tone issues were much improved in the second lecture. For the fun of it, put his formula into my depth of field program for comparison. Parts of it are excellent. In most cases it comes out with as good as exactly the same values. But sometimes it doesn't. For example, for a 35 mm lens at f/11 and a focus distance of 12 m, using a circle of confusion of 8 ¼m, my program gives: Subject        Focal plane     Magnification  Exposure       Near        Far         Depth of distance (m)   distance (mm)                    comp  (EV)   limit (m)   limit (m)  field (m)   12.00           ...

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 17:57:42 UTC

The privacy wars have been a disaster and theyre about to get a LOT worse

Posted By Cory Doctorow

In my latest Locus column, The Privacy Wars Are About to Get A Whole Lot Worse, I describe the history of the privacy wars to date, and the way that the fiction of “notice and consent” has provided cover for a reckless, deadly form of viral surveillance capitalism. As bad as things have been, they’re... more

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 00:14:39 UTC

GPS navigation accuracy

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've ranted in the past about the accuracy of my GPS maps. In particular there's a good route home from the west of Ballarat, via Bowens Road. Even Google Maps gets it almost correct. Here's the relevant part of the journey. Coming south there's a turn south-east into Bells Road, then back south west into Sebastopol-Smythesdale Road and almost immediately south into Bowens Road: Google Maps doesn't like Bowens Road, so it takes me to the next parallel road, Tom Jones Road, adding about 700 m to the journey. But compared to its normal inaccuracy, that's almost acceptable.

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 23:44:14 UTC

More photo software

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm still looking for a photo software package that I can use to recover my slides. Today I came across Lightzone and installed it. Like all software, it requires getting used to, and it has a less than average awareness of directory structures, but there seem to be a number of knobs that I can use, and possibly it's worthwhile. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 01:41:58 UTC

Fixing HDR4 Projects gaudiness

Posted By Greg Lehey

I still haven't found a way to persuade HDR Projects 4 to produce images that aren't ridiculously gaudy. I can alter each individual image, but the whole idea is to batch process the images, and the save preset function doesn't seem to include the corrections. Today I tried a different approach: I first convert the raw images to TIFF with DxO Optics Pro. Today I set saturation down by 30 points (whatever that may mean in absolute terms) and processed that. It seems to be an improvement, though it's not that obvious looking at direct comparisons. I'll have to keep an eye on the matter.

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 00:41:58 UTC

The right language for the job

Posted By Greg Lehey

My recent work on old photos makes it clear that I need to have images that aren't listed on the pages. For example, the image 19650803/small/Norm-1.jpeg has moved to 19650804/small/Norm-1.jpeg, and I've renamed 19640828/small/KL-8.jpeg to the more descriptive 19640828/small/Bank-Negara-Malaysia.jpeg. But I can't just remove the old names, because search engines keep looking for them. On the other hand, I don't want these names to show up on the page. Each page has an associated file photolist.php (for hysterical raisins, since they're just a list of the file names and dimensions) which I use to build the page. My current idea is to add a further data column to flag those images that shouldn't be displayed.

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 21:54:00 UTC

Help to Translate my Videos into your language

Posted By Niels Provos

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 01:13:45 UTC

The advantage of laptops over tablets

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been ranting for years about the disadvantages of mobile phones and tablets compared to laptops (or are they notebooks now): the biggest is clearly the lack of a usable keyboard. But it seems that Lenovo has leveled the playing field: they've introduced a new laptop with versatile touch panel keyboard. What an idea! It seems that young users, clearly uneducated, are used to touch screens, so this is a natural. This article sums it up: Officially its called the Halo Keyboard, and if youve ever tried to quickly type on a tablets software keyboard than youll be familiar with the experience.

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 23:38:02 UTC

Still more photo recovery

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm not making much headway with my photo recovery, though I'm learning a lot as I go. Spent a lot of time today trying to make sense of these two photos: They're still not good. There seems to be no green at all in the first image, and nothing that I could do would help. The green slider on various software had no effect. It really seems as if all green is missing from the image.

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 22:45:00 UTC

TPOSANA launched 15 years ago today!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

15 years ago today (or August 24, 2001 depending on who you talk to) the first edition of The Practice of System and Network Administration reached bookstores. We had been working on the book for 2+ years, having first met during a Usenix conference in 1999. Writing it was quite an experience, especially since this was before voice-chat on the internet was common, and we were on different continents (Christine in London and Tom in New Jersey). We collaborated via email, used CVS for our source code repository, and we had monthly phone calls (which Tom dialed from work... Thanks, Lucent!)

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 14:30:00 UTC

Survey: What makes joining a new team difficult/easy?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

The last time you joined a new operations/devops/sysadmin team, what make it easy or difficult to get started? For example... if procedures aren't documented, it can be very difficult to know how to perform them. The rest of the team does them by memory, but you are spending your time asking for help, or guessing your way through them. Well-documented procedures (or even tiny bullet lists) make it easy to be self-sufficient quickly. What have you found made assimilating into a new team difficult? What have you seen teams do that made it easy? What did you wish a team had done to make it easy?

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 00:28:21 UTC

More slide scanning pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with my slide scanning today, though I'm not sure it's a good idea. Spent most of the day looking at the slides taken on 28 April 1967, in the Bay of Bengal near the Nicobar Islands. I'm really not happy with the results: The colours are all wrong! I noticed this a couple of days ago with the images taken on 19 June 1983, but here I couldn't find any way to improve them.