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Postings for August 2014:  (28 posts)
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

Flamenco Snapshots

Posted By Tim Bray

Recently, several times per week Ive been spending an hour or two biking. Usually after supper, with Ingress as a motivator. My route home goes by a Flamenco bar; and its absurdly easy to counteract the biking benefits with a couple of Guinesses while I watch the last set. And take pictures. The Kino Café is, to be honest, kind of a dump, and I hope the dancers are pursuing this as a hobby not a profession; the way it works is, theres no cover, but after each set the prettiest among them goes around with a little basket, which gets pretty full of folding money when the bars full, and doesnt when its not.

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 01:09:51 UTC

A year of Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been a year since I bought an Android tablet for real use. I had tried one a year before that, but had not persevered. Now I have been using a tablet for a year. What good is it? The attraction of the tablet is flexibility. It promises: Normal computer functionality, including word processing, web browsing, social networking and all those things you used to need a computer for.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:58:59 UTC

Maybe the problem was...

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

they wouldn't let me wear ear plugs.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:44:57 UTC

My CppCon Plenary (updated)

Posted By Herb Sutter

When we announced the CppCon conference program and I posted my final talk selection, the original plan for my Friday ‘endnote’ plenary was for it to focus on giving an update on future standardization plans. However, quite a few people immediately wrote me to express disappointment that I wouldn’t cover my Modern C++ Style material, […]

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:09:05 UTC

Neal Stephenson and Cory speaking at Seattles Town Hall, Oct 26

Posted By Cory Doctorow

We're getting together to talk about Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future , a project that Stephenson kicked off -- I've got a story in it called "The Man Who Sold the Moon." The project's mission is to promote "Asimovian robots, Heinleinian rocket ships, Gibsonian cyberspace& plausible, thought-out pictures of alternate realities in … [Read more]

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 02:04:58 UTC

A computer for CJ

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ Ellis showed up here today, apparently because he had wanted to do some work on our site, but got caught by the rain. Took the opportunity to help him transfer his home phone line to VoIP, which proved more difficult than I had expected. First, of course, I had to set up access for him. CJ's not stupid, but he's 75 years old and has never really learnt anything about computers. For him nothing is intuitive. No point in trying to teach him the fine points of FreeBSD. First, he needs a computer. There's a mob called Computers for Seniors that offers cheap computers for concession card holders.

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

On Pancakes

Posted By Tim Bray

Sometime in 2004 I started making traditional Sunday breakfasts, featuring pancakes and bacon; and never stopped, so theres a tenth anniversary coming up. Ive learned enough about them now to offer tips both on them, and on what you put on them. Which matters, because pancakes, un-topped, are kind of boring. Mix it up. As in, try different mixes, both noveau-organic and traditional-home-style. The differences are surprising. Maple syrup! Normally everyone buys Canada #1 but health-food stores will have other options; some of the darker shades with numbers that arent 1 have deliciously smoky flavors. Most mixes and recipes have a lot of baking powder aimed at giving you big thick fluffy pancakes.

Sat, 16 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

Saint Hilda

Posted By Tim Bray

Also known as Hilda of Whitby; shes the protagonist of Hild, by Nicola Griffith, which I just read and enjoyed hugely. Only I didnt know Hild was Hilda while I was reading it. What happened was, Charlie Stross had Ms Griffith on as a guest-blogger, and she posted Who Owns SF? which led me to an impulse buy. Its an odd, long, first-person book, with a different sort of rhythm. I was going to write not much happens but since its full of religion and sex and politics and war and commerce that would be crazy. What I think I mean is, you spend the whole book inside Hilds head and she doesnt change much as the years and battles and faiths and lovers pass.

Sat, 16 Aug 2014 00:50:24 UTC

ATA: finally

Posted By Greg Lehey

Over to CJ's place this evening to connect up the ATA. It worked, fortunately. Now he's going to have to learn to live with another paradigm. Hopefully it won't involve me in too much work. 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, 16 Aug 2014 00:39:34 UTC

Telstra: super up-to-date

Posted By Greg Lehey

Advertising from Telstra today to inform us that the National Broadband Network is now availableless than nine months after the event. But that's nothing. Look at the address: Cliff Taylor sold me the house in July 2007, and he hasn't been seen here since. And they've misspelt Kleins Road as Kliens Road. I'm a Telstra customer, for pity's sake! What incredible corruption do they have in their databases? Admittedly, it's not even the second time, but at least the third.

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:15:00 UTC

Simple bucket-ized stats in awk

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Someone recently asked how to take a bunch of numbers from STDIN and then break them down into distribution buckets. This is simple enough that it should be do-able in awk. Here's a simple script that will generate 100 random numbers. Bucketize them to the nearest multiple of 10, print based on # of items in bucket: while true ; do echo $[ 1 + $[ RANDOM % 100 ]] ; done | head -100 | awk '{ bucket = int(($1 + 5) / 10) * 10 ; arr[bucket]++} END { for (i in arr) {print i, arr[i] }}' | sort -k2n,2 -k1n,1 Many people don't know that in bash, a single quote can go over multiple lines.

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 02:15:02 UTC

Configuring CJ's ATA

Posted By Greg Lehey

Called MyNetFone about CJ's unconfigured ATA. This time I spoke to somebody who told me he wanted to start a remote desktop on my PC. That's interesting simply because not all versions of Microsoft support it. But no, it wasn't really a remote desktop, that's just what he called it. Instead he wanted to use TeamViewer. Problem: I don't want people messing around on my computers, and while TeamViewer is probably relatively safe, I always run it on pain, my XP laptop. And I had left that with CJ. Reluctantly fired up dxo, the Vista box, and installed TeamViewer on that.

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 01:54:58 UTC

VoIP ATA hell

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ's ATA, a Mitron MNFMV1, has arrived, and I promised to install it for him. Basically that means plugging it in. And sure enough, it came online and an IP address to the laptop (pain) that I had plugged into the LAN port. All plug and play. But the SIP light didn't light up. How do you diagnose that with a black box? Fortunately pain (now eucla, running FreeBSD) knew the device address, since it's the Internet gateway. So: point a browser at it? Sure, and it wants a user name and password, which MyNetFone didn't supply. admin/admin? Yup! And how about that, the thing hadn't been configured.

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 01:12:09 UTC

Data Center Cooling Done Differently

Posted By James Hamilton

Over the last 10 years, there has been considerable innovation in data center cooling. Large operators are now able to operate at Power Usage Efficiency of 1.10 to 1.20. This means that less than 20% of the power delivered to the facility is lost to power distribution and cooling. These days, very nearly all of the power  delivered to the facility, is delivered to the servers.     I would never say there is no more innovation coming in an but most of the ideas Ive been seeing recently in data center cooling designs are familiar.

Mon, 11 Aug 2014 10:43:27 UTC

My London Worldcon schedule

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'll be joining thousands of fans and hundreds of presenters at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, later this week. I hope to see you there! Weds, Aug 13 * 18h: Group signing at Forbidden Planet, Shaftesbury Ave, with Chris Achilleos, Madeline Ashby, Gregory Benford, Adam Christopher, Wesley Chu, Phil & Kaja Foglio, … [Read more]

Sun, 10 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

The Moon With No Mirror

Posted By Tim Bray

What happened was, we came home late and there was that Supermoon beaming through the trees. So I screwed the big ol 400mm Tokina onto the Fujifilm camera and got a pretty decent picture even though there was quite a bit of haze. Its so much easier when youre not using an SLR. Ive done this before, with a 2007-vintage Pentax DSLR and a zoom stretched to 210mm. But it was hard, involving guesswork; and a lot of Lightrooming. With an EVF its just no pain. Since I dont have a tripod mount for the big lens, I decided I better shoot pretty fast.

Sun, 10 Aug 2014 01:30:15 UTC

New ammunition against telemarketeers

Posted By Greg Lehey

On IRC today found this post from Chris Blasko (and not Chris Bahlo) about how to get your own back on telemarketeers: convince them that you're from their IT department and there's something wrong with their phone. Offer to fix it for them and get them to reset their phone to factory defaults. The more I think of this, the more fun it seems. In the example the perpetrator was connected to the marketeer, not the more usual other way round. But that doesn't make as much difference as I thought. Hypothetical conversation: TM       (Silence, sound of nose-picking) Helllo, how are you today?

Sat, 09 Aug 2014 19:49:06 UTC

New DevOps meetup starting in New Jersey!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

As you know, I live in New Jersey. I'm excited to announce that some fine fellow New Jerseyians have started a DevOps Meetup. The first meeting will be on Monday, Aug 18, 2014 in Clifton, NJ. I'm honored to be their first speaker. More info at their MeetUp Page: DevOps and Automation NJ Group Hope to see you there!

Fri, 08 Aug 2014 15:09:40 UTC

Impact Factor of Computer Science Journals 2013

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge has published the 2013 Journal Citation Reports . Following similar studies I performed in the past sever years ( 2007 , '08 , '09 , '10 , '11 , '12 , '13 ) here is my analysis of the current status and trends for the impact factor of computer science journals.

Thu, 07 Aug 2014 03:45:29 UTC

Next planning permit amendment

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent quite some time trying to fill out a form to amend my application for a planning permit. Filling out the form should be simple, but I was hindered by various software issues. The form is in editable PDF format, and I have already filled one, so it made sense to amend that form to fit the new data. But no, for some reason I couldn't change it, only the original. Make a copy? That didn't work either, though I confirmed that the content of the copy was identical. Permissions, maybe? This is using Acrobat reader on Microsoft against a file mounted via Samba on a UFS file system.

Tue, 05 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

Legal Advice

Posted By Tim Bray

Hey, are you operating an app or a Web site? If so, are you among the (large number of) people (for example, Instagram) who connect via http: instead of https:? Heres some advice. Set up a meeting with someone on the Legal side, and get them to sign off. Explain to them like this: Were offering our service in whats called plain-text mode, which means that someone with a WiFi sniffer, or employees of our ISP, or overseas hackers, or the NSA, or the local cops near where our servers are, or where our customers PCs and phones are, can see what our users are sending us and what were sending them.

Tue, 05 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

Got Yer Space Opera Right Here

Posted By Tim Bray

I refer to Cibola Burn, the latest from James S.A. Corey. Im going to quote myself on Space Opera from a 2013 piece that highlighted Coreys Expanse series, of which this is #4: Gleaming silver ingots of engineering poetry reaching up out of gravitys mud carrying humanitys sparks into spaces blackness... and blowing each other up! Well, yeah; this is like that; and if you like that sort of thing, youll like this. Our Story: A plucky band of hardscrabble homesteaders stake out a piece of the rugged (interstellar) frontier and then a big resource-extraction operation starts showing up to brush them aside and begin extracting.

Tue, 05 Aug 2014 01:53:44 UTC

More sloppy error reporting

Posted By Greg Lehey

Copied a video file to teevee tonight. I had difficulty watching it: === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/Videos 10 -> mplayer Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983 MPlayer SVN-r35933-snapshot-3.2 (C) 2000-2013 MPlayer Team Playing Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983. File not found: 'Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983' Failed to open Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983. OK, that's not so surprising in itself, but I didn't type in the name: I started it and let the shell complete the file name. And ls(1) showed that the file was there. After a bit of head-scratching, found: === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/Videos 12 -> file Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983 Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983: regular file, no read permission It seems that cp(1) sets the permissions to --------- while copying.

Sun, 03 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

On Hating T-Mobile

Posted By Tim Bray

If you are a visitor to the USA, you can expect TMO to be stupid and abusive. Background Youre visiting America. You probably do this more than once per year. You need Internet. Youre willing to pay for it. In certain countries (my experience is with the UK, Spain, and Germany) you can buy a reasonably-priced SIM in or near the airport. For example, there are vending machines at Heathrow where £20 will get you one thats good for a week or two. These SIMs, of course, dont care in the slightest what kind of device you put them in. The good part For a visitor, TMO offers prepaid plans that are not-bad-at-all; a few bucks a day for enough data.

Sun, 03 Aug 2014 19:00:00 UTC

CL XXX: Lensing

Posted By Tim Bray

The great thing about interchangeable-lens cameras is well, interchanging lenses. In particular while kicking back in Cottage-life mode. Fujifilm X-T1 + 400mm I already wrote about getting a Fotodiox PK-FX adapter, and finally couldnt resist clamping on the antique Tokina SL-400 F5.6 onto my Fujifilm X-T1. The combo looks absolutely ridiculous. Its perfectly hand-wieldable without a tripod, by the way. It lets you take arty stuff like this: Those are big mountains in the background. But I think the design goal is this sort of thing, a half-grown eaglet in its nest. His or her parents visit regularly to supply food; these occasions are accompanied by much screaming and flapping.

Sun, 03 Aug 2014 01:22:54 UTC

Why I don't use Facebook

Posted By Greg Lehey

In the evening, discussed with Chris Bahlo how we find things on the web. I go to some trouble to correlate my own content, and for others Google is the clear favourite. But we know that Facebook also keeps things forever. But for whom? The NSA? It's not easy for normal users to find things there. A case in point: a couple of months ago Jordan Hubbard put names to some photos on a photo, including mine. Most of them were deliberate falsifications, but that was part of the fun. The issue was: how to find the posting? A Google search for hubbard lehey mckusick facebook brings up a number of hits (23,300, if you want to believe it), including several of this diary (one claiming a date of April 7, nearly two months before the event), but nothing from Facebook.

Sat, 02 Aug 2014 14:35:17 UTC

Online course: An Introduction to Operations Management starting soon

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

U Penn's Wharton School of Business has one of the best Operations Management classes in the world, and for the last few years it has been available as a MOOC. They've announced a new session starting on September 29 2014. I've been watching some of the video lectures and Christian Terwiesch is an excellent lecturer. What is learned in the class applies to system administration, running a restaurant, or a hospital. I think that system administrators, DevOps engineers, and managers can learn a lot from this class. Sign up for An Introduction to Operations Management or just watch the videos. Either way, you'll learn a lot!

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:47:57 UTC

Internet for CJ

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ Ellis along this afternoon to get help connecting to the Internet. His real concern is not so much Internet connectivity as telephony: with MyNetFone he saves so much money compared to Telstra that it covers the price of the Internet connection as well. It'll all get connected next Friday. Now where can we find somebody to teach CJ about computers? ACM only downloads articles once.