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Postings for February 2019:  (21 posts)
Mon, 11 Feb 2019 22:20:18 UTC

A free excerpt from UNAUTHORIZED BREAD, my latest audiobook

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Unauthorized Bread is the first installment of my next science fiction book for adults, Radicalized, which comes out in just over a month; the audiobook is available DRM-free on Google Play and direct from me. Unauthorized Bread is a story about refugees, rent-seeking, DRM and the housing crisis, and the audiobook, read by Lameece Issaq,... more

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 00:05:30 UTC

Interruptible power supply

Posted By Greg Lehey

While looking at my soft updates journaling issues, looked at my uptime information. lagoon and teevee had both rebooted about half an hour before. Why? It was round 7:30, when we were not yet up, and nothing else had failed. My best bet is my main UPS. It is very flaky when the bore pump is running (currently between 4:00 and 10:00), and I continually hear the second UPS (in series) beep and the lights flicker. My guess is that it disconnected a little longer for once and took two computers out. That's ridiculous. This UPS is really a very bad choice.

Sun, 10 Feb 2019 23:53:24 UTC

umount completed

Posted By Greg Lehey

In to the office this morning to see how my umount was getting on. Still not done, after 16 hours. OK, there's no reason to believe it will, and in any case, if the file system is corrupted, it would be quicker to start again than to wait any longer. So Big Red Button time. The system came back with few issues: The first two file systems recovered instantaneously. The third (/dev/ada0p5, the new /home file system) took a little over a minute.

Sun, 10 Feb 2019 01:41:05 UTC

Power usage data formats

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Daniel Nebdal today: Hi again - the CSV from the power meter seems to be NEM12/NEM13, a somewhat over-engineered format for power meter readings. There's a python library for parsing it, with some useful links in the readme, here: That'll be something to follow up another day.

Sun, 10 Feb 2019 01:00:20 UTC

System upgrade, try 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

Tuesday's repartitioning of the new /home disk for eureka proved to have been a little hasty. I took the parameters from an older setup, giving myself 20 GB for the root file system (including /usr, and in particular /usr/local) and 10 GB for swap. In addition, I used effectively default settings for newfs on the new /home. The result was that the /home file system took up considerably more space than the original, several gigabytes more. Maybe part of the issue was the ridiculous number of inodes. Apart from that, the root file system was smaller than the current contents of eureka's root file system (30 GB), and I had already noticed that, despite have 32 GB of memory, eureka frequently comes close to 10 GB of swap usage.

Sat, 09 Feb 2019 20:00:00 UTC

D&I Soundbites

Posted By Tim Bray

I went to a two-day ?D&I workshop for leaders?. Many in biz will know what that stands for: Diversity and Inclusion. The people facilitating were WMFDP, which stands for ?White Men as Full Diversity Partners?. Having said that, only one of the two was a white man, and the audience was more gender-diverse than the high-tech norm. Everyone was senior, there were lots of VPs in the room. It had a strong effect on me. Truths In the technology space, we suck at diversity. We?re broadly better than average at LGBTQ, probably not far off the mainstream at Under-Represented Minorities, and terrible at gender.

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 02:24:54 UTC

More solar power insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call from Thomas Kucera of Effective Electrical today, about the solar power installation. He had a completely different approach: first look at my daily power usage for the past year and then make a suggestion based on that. How does he do that? Download the information from Powercor. All you need is a meter number, and you can get the usage data, apparently for the last 2 years, itemized in 30 minute increments, and in CSV format: 200,6203863822,E1,E1,E1,,A5860559,KWH,30,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 300,20170207,0.418,0.413,0.391,0.428,0.396,0.418,0.511,0.435,0.807,1.028,0.82,0.459,0.46,0.4,0.452,0.537,0.512,0.529,0.527,0.569,0.983,0.784,1.021,0.553,0.526,0.528,0.615,0.896,0.955,1.063,1.137,1.255,1.204,1.635,1.633,1.717,1.353,1.449,1.078,1.016,0.848,0.811,0.609,0.596,0.66,0.547,0.831,1.015,V,,,2.01702E+13 400,1,46,A,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 400,47,47,A,79,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 400,48,48,A,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 300,20170208,0.518,0.457,0.427,0.461,0.396,0.485,0.442,0.421,0.868,1.02,0.854,0.378,0.55,0.453,0.495,0.532,0.797,0.562,0.853,0.941,1.005,1.2,0.987,1.145,1.524,1.535,2.435,3.028,1.869,1.919,2.013,2.01,2.742,2.491,2.379,1.962,1.406,1.67,1.989,1.704,1.466,1.527,1.239,1.304,1.141,1.061,1.157,1.025,A,,,2.01702E+13 300,20170209,1.11,1.11,1.037,0.993,1.033,0.995,0.964,0.775,1.351,1.408,1.204,0.978,0.958,0.919,0.956,1.093,0.845,1.475,1.611,0.874,1.902,1.878,1.537,2.27,3.323,3.688,3.399,3.567,3.368,2.568,1.919,2.025,1.822,1.421,2.23,1.534,1.203,1.22,1.263,1.174,1.148,0.96,0.806,0.803,0.71,0.652,0.694,0.673,V,,,2.01702E+13 400,1,6,A,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 400,7,7,A,79,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 400,8,19,A,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 400,20,20,A,79,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 400,21,48,A,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 300,20170210,0.639,1.187,0.6,0.615,0.601,0.679,0.57,0.583,1.006,1.056,0.841,0.488,0.453,0.574,0.671,0.639,0.926,0.654,0.593,0.439,0.847,0.931,0.971,1.462,1.927,1.761,2.88,2.8,1.834,3.823,3.443,2.996,3.271,3.196,3.225,3.594,2.864,1.684,1.212,1.435,1.279,1.105,0.887,0.745,0.768,0.784,0.74,0.912,A,,,2.01702E+13 He has programs that import it into Microsoft ?Excel?, and he doesn't have any further information.

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 02:11:01 UTC

Microsoft network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer is one of the least reliable programs I know, but they're working on it?to make it less reliable, it seems. Today I had some issues with it, so I tried the standard Microsoft method of restarting it. But no, it told me that my (saved) license key was invalid. Please enter the correct key (displayed). But that didn't work because it hung, not for the first time. OK, next step: reboot the machine (dischord). And when it came up it told me that it couldn't connect to the Internet. In fact, it couldn't even resolve non-local names. What's wrong there?

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 01:54:37 UTC

Can't access photo

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Daniel Nebdal this morning, telling me that he was getting an HTTP 403 error accessing some of yesterday's photos, like this one: What's unusual about that one? Daniel suspected the name,ómi-1.jpeg. There's a ó in there, something that US Americans don't use. Could it be that? There's an easy way to find out: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/6) ~/Photos/20190205 223 -> ln Skjómi-1.jpeg Skjomi-1.jpeg === [email protected] (/dev/pts/6) ~/Photos/20190205 224 -> make sync s3cmd sync /home/grog/public_html/Photos/20190205/big/ s3://lemis/grog/Photos/20190205/big/ -P --delete-removed remote copy: 'Skjómi-1.jpeg' -> 'Skjomi-1.jpeg' In passing, it's nice to see how this software recognizes duplicates and does the right thing.

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 08:42:30 UTC

Collision at Sea: USS Fitzgerald

Posted By James Hamilton

At 1:30:34AM on Jun 17, 2017 the USS Fitzgerald and the container ship ACX Crystal came together just south of Yokosuka Japan. The ACX Crystal is a 730? modern containership built in 2008 and capable of carrying 2,858 TEU of containers at a 23-knot service speed. The Fitzgerald is a $1.8B US Navy Arleigh Burk-Class Destroyer...

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 03:39:14 UTC

The joys of ?smart? homes

Posted By Greg Lehey

There's a lot of talk about ?smart homes? recently. In principle it's something that should be close to my heart. But everything I read about them screams ?NO!?. In principle, I have something like that already, though not the way the marketeers conceived: my garden sprinkler system is run by a network connected controller, using a program started by a cron job. It works well. But that's not what people think of when you say ?smart home?. What they think of is voice controlled systems in the house (what, you have to tell it what to do?) and controllers accessible by mobile phone app when you're not there, closely related to the stupidity of an Internet connected fridge.

Tue, 05 Feb 2019 01:39:27 UTC

New ThinkCentre

Posted By Greg Lehey

The ThinkCentre that I had ordered last week arrived in Napoleons this morning. That's a replacement for Yvonne's defective one, and specially ordered to be the same as dischord. I needed my old test box back to recover eureka's /home file system, so off to pick it up. It's completely different! A different way of opening it, a different layout inside, and a different disk carrier: According to the label, it's a MT - M 7033, but it was sold as an M91p.

Tue, 05 Feb 2019 01:02:10 UTC

Returning the Nokia 3, try 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

Friday's attempts at returning the Nokia 3 phone were both extremely frustrating and completely ineffective. But Saturday's experience with the iPhone 6S makes it clear that I need it back as soon as possible. OK, brave Toll (a company whose obvious URL belongs to a domain squatter) on 13 15 31 and try again. This time things were different. The phone was answered almost immediately, by unintelligible, I think with a Pilipino accent. She asked me for the usual stuff: ConnNote ID, account number and my name. Then she put put me another unintelligible, whose name on repeated request sounded like ?Michaela?.

Mon, 04 Feb 2019 04:41:31 UTC

Getting rid of Apple

Posted By Greg Lehey

So, I've decided: life is too short for iPhones. Let's get rid of this horrible Apple ID. How do I do that? With extreme difficulty, it seems. Went searching and found this page. While I was doing this, I got a message on the phone: Where's Darlinghurst? Almost exactly 1000 km from here. Why is somebody trying to log in to my account from there? Why, is somebody trying to log in to my account from there?

Sun, 03 Feb 2019 01:35:37 UTC

Mobile phone: Die!

Posted By Greg Lehey

So after the failure of no less than three mobile phones in the last few days, I'm left without a phone. I had been planning to buy a second-hand one as a backup, but then I saw a special offer from ALDI today: a refurbished iPhone 6S for $469. Yvonne was going there anyway, so she could pick one up. I've had fun with iPhones a couple of years ago, and I quickly decided that it wasn't for me. In addition, that's more than I wanted to pay. But maybe I should give it another chance, and anyway, if I don't like it, I can return it within 2 months for a full refund.

Sat, 02 Feb 2019 01:27:29 UTC

Why no background fsck?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have /home on eureka set for background fsck, but it never does it. Why not? Spent some time looking for criteria, which was surprisingly hard. Found this in the FreeBSD handbook:      -F      Determine whether the file system needs to be cleaned immediately              in foreground, or if its cleaning can be deferred to background.              To be eligible for background cleaning it must have been running              with soft updates, not have been marked as needing a foreground              check, and be mounted and writable when the background check is              to be done.

Sat, 02 Feb 2019 00:54:11 UTC

Bending the network configuration

Posted By Greg Lehey

So I had to access the web while recovering eureka. I can do that, I suppose. Just connect dischord directly to the NTD, which I have decided to mount upside-down so that I can get at the connections: That ultimately worked. I had to change the network configuration, of course, to use DHCP. And while doing that I got one of the most amazing messages from the system: Unknown publisher?

Sat, 02 Feb 2019 00:16:56 UTC

Toll: Couriers at their best

Posted By Greg Lehey

The crash couldn't have come at a worse time. eureka is the main gateway for our home network, including the telephone. And I had given the number to Toll to call before picking up my phone. OK, call them up and tell them to call Yvonne's phone (the only one that still worked). Where's the number? They're too polite to write it anywhere on the documentation they provided, so I needed to look it up on the web. But that requires a computer! OK, we have computers, but they connect via eureka. I found a way around that that is worth another article.

Fri, 01 Feb 2019 23:53:14 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

While looking for a backup phone, my mouse froze. Dammit, time for new batteries? I've had too many issues with batteries lately. But the keyboard was non-responsive too, and a quick check from teevee showed that eureka was dead in the water. OK, I have been meaning to move it to the benchtop for a while now. One of the hindrances in finally upgrading it was that I had to grovel on the floor. So I took it out from there, in the process removing much of the dust that it had accumulated (another reason not to leave it on the floor): Finally placed it to the left of my monitors, where it's relatively out of the way: ...

Fri, 01 Feb 2019 23:52:52 UTC

Mobile phones: die! die! die!

Posted By Greg Lehey

After my phone died on Wednesday, the obvious thing was to wake up my old Samsung GT-I9100T, which I did yesterday. It was half charged at the time, but it quickly discharged during the day. Put it on overnight charge. Today it was dead as a doornail: no voltage at the terminals of the battery. Why? Is that a result of buying cheap aftermarket batteries? What do I do? The phone is old, and a new battery will cost me at least $12. Is it worth it? Went looking for something on eBay, with results that are worth their own article: eureka paniced.

Fri, 01 Feb 2019 02:37:14 UTC

Mobile phone pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

A while back (decades) there was this quasi-riddle: "What does Bill Gates do if he drops a $10 note??. Answer: ?He moves on. In the time that it takes for him to pick up, he has earnt more than $10?. I don't have anything like these earnings, but today's attempts at getting my Nokia 3 phone repaired reminded me of this story. I paid about $100 for it, and in the course of yesterday and today I must have spent several hours trying to get it repaired. First step was to verify that the number I called yesterday (07 3062 8463) really didn't answer.