Archive for September, 2006

Review of The Amber Spyglass

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

My review of The Amber Spyglass is up at BBC.

Poison Oak for a Good Cause

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

I spent the morning clearing trails for the National Park Service for National Public Lands Day.  The name is a bit of a mouthful, but the activity’s a lot of fun and a little work to make a local national park more acccessible.  Strongly recommended.  And you needn’t wait until NLPD rolls around again to help out.

Congratulations to Rod

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Rod's graduation.Rod Van Meter, famed in song and story, walked in graduation this week. This puts the formal cap on his long quest for a Ph.D – in Quantum Computing, because he’s got to have the weirdest thing on the menu. Rod’s a great guy and a smart one and I’m happy to see him pass another milestone (if you know what I mean and I think you do). Now he’ll be learning how much and how little those 3 letters are worth.

He actually earned his degree a while ago. This post is mostly a chance for anyone who actually reads this to stare in awe at his bad-ass graduation threads. I’m delighted to have done my own Ph.D where I did, but no one at Wisconsin has ever looked that cool at graduation.

I’m also quite certain that this is the first and I presume the last time I’ll ever characterize Rod as looking cooler than anyone else. Perhaps that’s worth all those long hours in the library.

Fears close opera

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

I don’t like the look of this. Closing a Mozart opera because it might upset a bunch of nuts is not an action of the people I’d like to be. The Mayor of Berlin seems to have it together, though:

“Our ideas about openness, tolerance and freedom must be lived out on the offensive. Voluntary self-limitation gives those who fight against our values a confirmation in advance that we will not stand behind them.”

Review of The Subtle Knife

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

My review of The Subtle Knife is up on BBC.

Cheating in grad school

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

And then depression set in.  From slashdot.

Happy Zweibelmas

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

I’m sure you’ve all made your preparations and are enjoying the day.  It is getting a little commercial, but I love the specials.

Pixel Art

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

This gallery is really impressive. Be sure to enjoy how abstract and innocuous the paintings look at the size you’d see them in most homes or museums. The 2004 gallery seems to have a bug, but earlier galleries will let you see each painting at a larger size.  From The Reverse Cowgirl.

New jabber service on Ylum

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

In a failure unrelated to the blown capacitor, I also lost my jabber server this week. There was an upgrade to the FreeBSD port for the daemon and when it came back up, I couldn’t talk to it. It’s always been shaky, and I finally decided if I was going to have to fix it again, I would spend that effort fixing it in a way that helped in the long term.

The result is that I’ve jumped over to ejabberd which is being actively developed and supports some gateways. We have lost the ability to bridge messages to Yahoo, buit other than that things seem OK. If I seem slow to respond to jabber or AIM, drop me an e-mail.

Ylum’s hardware woes

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

You may have noticed that ylum’s been a little shaky this week, staring on Labor Day or so. The good news is that shakiness should be abating. The bad news is that I’ve had to work some to get that to happen.

I opened it up on Sunday (the 3rd) to put a drive in for backups and get them running again. On the way, I found that my case fan had seized up. You nemember that 100+  degree week at the end of July? I imagine that’s when it seized. The bad news is that’s also probably when the capacitor blew on the main board (see the image). blown capacitor

Surprisingly this didn’t just shut down the machine when it happened, though the hardware has been sensitive, and I haven’t been able to reliably talk to my iriver. Well, I couldn’t leave it like that once I found it, and I really wasn’t happy with the cooling properties and general crumminess of my case, so a new case was called for as well as a new mainboard.

The new case is pretty spiffy – black with two cooling fans and real mounting hardware – and after a wrestling match with the AML on the BIOS chip, I’ve got FreeBSD booting and running credibly on the thing. This needs a little more tweaking, but it’s servicable.

Now proper backups are running as well, so there’s some hope that if my disk fails, some of this stuff will survive. Overall, things are better than they were – faster CPU, more memory, better cooling – but it was a pain getting them here.