|Subject:||HP DL180 G6|
Ohh, playing with a shiny new server at work. This beast has 22TB of usable RAID5, 8 cores and 12GB RAM. Ok, so the ram is a bit skimpy, but the rest is good. Running Windows 2K8 alas (but heh, we have plenty of Linux). For some reason the video driver was a pain to find, couldn't see it on HPs site, it claims to be a Matrox, but Matrox don't have the product listed. Some digging suggests it's an Intel chip with Matrox IP, and another hint that it is called "Server Engines" seems to say that it's made by a Fabless semi company that also appear to be, or to own Emulex. Huh. I'll get to the bottom of it somehow. Anyway, I eventually found the driver, so archived it here for easy access to people who might struggle to find it. Says Win2K3 in the file, but I have it working fine on Win2K8.
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Download Matrox G200e Server Engines Driver Windows 32-Bit
I'm feeling really down about the Japan thing and I think I worked out why. Sounds horrible, but I realised that with other humanitarian disasters in the world they seem far away, part of another world, just another onslaught off bad news on the TV. Because they are poor dishevelled people who never had much of anything anyway, and have lived a life of abject poverty. Somehow I don't relate, can't cross the gulf and am glad because I can turn the radio off and pretend everything is OK with the world.
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But when 9/11 happened, and 7/7, and Katrina this was something that affected people I identified with, 1st world countries with excellent communications able to describe the events in painful technicolour with constant, constant updates. And with Japan its the same. It's people you can relate to because they do all the same stuff as us, drive cars, take the tube to work, work in an office, chat on their mobile phone. It's not that they're more human, just easier to relate to. And as result, I can't switch this one off. It's really cut me up this one. Feel as bad now as I did a few days after 9/11. Feel like crying.
And whatever happens at that Nuclear plant, I think the workers trying to save it (if they live) should all become national heroes.
Me and Ang been back together for a while now! Yay. I still have my house though and intend to keep it that way.
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Ang bought an RX8! And she sold her MX5 to meee!
And you know what, on the first day I was going to drive it back to my house, the clutch went. Booo.
But this is the MX5 it's indestructible and only required hand-done work in all its years of Ang's ownership. And in fine tradition I found that the clutch is hydraulic, that the slave cylinder can leak, albeit slowly, and indeed, I found it had no clutch fluid. Refilled it, pumped the clutch and presto, I'm back in action. Now..the only issue is that it's a bit spongy because air has got in. No worries, miata.net to the rescue and I have detailed instructions on bleeding the clutch and it's an easy job. Will wait till its sunny again and get it done.
Viva le MX5!
My blog is named after the Thomas Pynchon book Gravity's Rainbow. Known for being almost unreadable and challenging I decided to see if I had the mettle. It got put down quite a lot at first, for months on end, but recently I found that once you got over it's initial "hump", it's really an incredible book. Smutty too, but then who am I to complain. It is worth understanding just a little bit about the qabbalah to see where he's going in his muses on mortality and the other side, and he frequently uses scientific terms that hasn't been much of a bother to me, but might be an issue for others.
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I read a critique that the book was cold, and on my very first scan I was inclined to agree. Now, I couldn't disagree more strongly. This book has more warmth in it than anything I've ever read. It is the only thing, ever, that I've found that makes me feel almost comfortable about facing mortality.
Pynchon's writing is lush, his ultra detailed style can be at first a little tiring, but I've found it really grows on you and it's what makes the book so warm. Nothing, nothing is spared of detail, of texture, of colour, or emotion. His use of colour, (and a very specific palette it is too) makes you feel like you're wondering through a beautiful oil painting, he's painting with words. It's poetry too.
This book improves my dreams, and my imagination. After a couple of hours reading it, my dreams are filled with lush landscapes, and concepts. None of the dull, repetitive nonsense that usually make up my dreams. It's an emotionally fulfilling book.
And I'm only a quarter way through. Another 500+ pages to go.
Over the years, us computer pros brought up on proper computer systems have watched with dismay the increasing march of that hideously insecure desktop operating system "Windows" into the data centre and beyond. When occasional media scare stories would talk of impending doom many of us would smirk and say, "yes, but nobody runs critical infrastructure on Windows, connected to the Internet". Nobody could be that stupid...right? It seems they can.
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I can remember my distinct dismay at seeing a ticket machine at a cinema displaying a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) in the mid 90s. At that time I thought it inconceivable anyone would want to run an embedded device/machine on the Windows OS. It was running NT4. Why, oh why? Surely it would have been happy enough running QNX or something?
And of course, we've all witnessed our ATM machines that over the years have gone from what were essentially terminals plugged into mainframes (correct me if i'm wrong), into running various OSes, and now it seems Windows XP is common. As these displays sprouted first (shock/horror) graphics, and then colour, and then animated graphics in colour, I started to wonder where it was all going wrong. I'd just like to take some money out, or check my balance, I'm fairly sure I don't need anything more than was possible 20 years ago. But I guess the vendors of the terminals have to sell something, otherwise they'd go out of business. I don't worry so much about the ATMs, if someone hacks one, and steals a load of money, that frankly is the banks problem, most certainly NOT mine.
Quite terrifying though, is news that companies are now idiotic enough to run industrial systems from Windows based software. The idea of a windows machine having any kind of data connection at all to a network of PLCs controlling say pumps and turbines and other controls in a nuclear power station is enough to turn you white as a ghost. However, it seems Iran's shiny new power station indeed does run (in some way) on Windows.
Frankly, the only thing that could be worse would be cruise missiles controlled by Windows systems.
|Subject:||End of an Era|
So, I moved into my new house, I'm no longer staying in a B&B. The owner of the B&B Jan has been so good to me and she gave me loads of stuff like plates, cutlery, towels, all sorts for my new home. Its even starting to look like a proper home now, so I'm living out in the sticks, not far from Mossley.
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Although the relationship with Ang was over, I think I stamped on the ashes today when I told her I wish I'd never met her. You see while we've been getting on as friends, I don't feel I can even do that anymore now, I've become so resentful. You see, although I did indeed choose to leave, I didn't do so because in a happy way, I did because I felt there were elements of her personality and behaviour that dragged me down, that ultimately she was making me unhappy, which would cause me to make her unhappy, and so on. Leaving her seemed the most mature decision I could make given the circumstances. The distinct lack of putting up a fight did make me wonder if despite her protestations about how unhappy I'd made her, she rather felt it was the right thing too. Which then made me wonder how long she'd felt that way.
Such has she has thrived on her independence, and such are those elements that were dragging me down now suddenly vanquished, I realize all along that my being in the relationship appears to be the cause of them. And that's something that bugs me, that fundamentally few people are honest, most will let relationships fester. Why didn't she tell me? I feel like all those times I doubted the relationship's validity, not only was I correct, but in carrying on with it, I was wasting my life, and hers, and she was letting me. The revelation was quite a kick in the teeth. Ironically, she boasted of her 23 yr relationship with Ade as a sign of her commitment to relationshoips (conveniently forgetting that much of it was unhappy and that he left her for another woman), whereas I just walk away. I think the 23 years demonstrates the lengths to which the woman is willing to go unhappy without saying anything. In the end, that's just horrible - life is too short for people to fall into such traps. And that is why, despite many good things coming from the relationship I said I wished I'd never met her, which probably isn't true, but what I do wish is that I'd ended the relationship 12 months ago at least.
Dad's been in intensive care for over a month, thankfully he's getting better, and may be back on a normal ward by next week. The poor fella, he's been through a really, really tough time. So glad he's getting better, because the first night he was admitted the doctors thought he might not survive the night.
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I split with Ang a couple of months ago and have been living in a B&B near Mossley. The hardest part as always is the animals. I still see them occasionally, but it hurts me so I think i'm going to have a clean break. Also she doesn't like seeing me as it hurts her. I'm fairly much over her in the sense that I can't imagine ever wanting to be back in a relationship with the woman (I chose to leave), but there are still the memories of the good times which are now tinged with sadness. That's the problem with failed relationships, they leave whole series of years of memories of your life tinged with sadness, there is something really unfair about that.
We went to my friends wedding, and did the camping trip and it was by the end of that weekend I'd decided I'd had it with the relationship, it was my "giving up" point. But I think it's fair to say that at the present point I'm more upset about losing Toddy the dog, and Hannah the cat, than Angela the girlfriend. Toddy goes so nuts when he sees me, it's like Christmas for him, he wees he's so excited, and to think I'll have deserted him really cuts me up. Looking at a house this weekend, so never know I might have some new digs eventually.
I'm back on escitalopram, but as I was on citalopram (borrowed from Ang) for about 2 years, it's pretty much the same. Only thing with escitalopram is it gives you a bit more of that "couldn't give a stuff" attitude, though right now in my life, that's probably what I need. So i'm not exactly depressed, but I'm certainly re-evaluating what I want to do with my life in a fairly big way. Have even been thinking about a change of direction in career instead of assuming that managing UNIX and networking infrastructure is all I'll do all my life.. suppose big shakeups like relationships ending cause you to re-evaluate who you are, and where you're going and it feels scary, but also, slightly like an opportunity.
Oh, and through an accident, I now own 2 caravans, both of which are pretty much useless to a young(???) single guy. As is a Volvo estate. Sigh. So that's the other thing, prolly sell everything except the RX7, and replace my standard mode of transport with an electric bicycle.
Like many geeks and mild aspergers people I have a profile similar to a potential terrorist :D
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+ I have an interest in planes and have taken a flying lessons
+ I'm actively interested in civil liberties, small government and a lack of government interference (so, clearly, I have something to hide ;)
+ I am interested in Nuclear power and Nuclear power stations
+ I am interested in Chemistry and Chemicals
+ I am interested in Infrastructure such as Bridges, Buildings, Towers, Transmitters, Reservoirs, Power Stations, Train Stations and Railways, Underground Stations, Transport Routes, Hidden features (the underbelly of things in public), Maps, Satellites, and so on
+ I am interested in materials
- I don't use multiple mobile phones, I own several, but then so does anyone, but having a luddite like hatred of mobile phones I rarely use them
+ I am interested in Spies and Psy Ops
+ I am interested in Cryptography, Numbers Stations and other methods of secure communication
+ I like to understand how things work at their lowest level, be it machinery, computer hardware, materials, physics etc
+ I am interested in, and mildy-proficient in building electronic circuits.
+ I own several books critical of US imperialism.
- I don't hold any religious beliefs
After the last update when I saw a car on its side in a ditch, we saw another one in almost the same spot. This time Ang witnessed it, and as I saw everyone was OK, I was pretty blase about it, this being the second time. I failed to get straight away that this wasn't Ang's first time seeing an accident in that spot, and so was at first dismissive of her panic, but then remembered how shook up I had been after seeing the first accident.
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Anyway, I must be morbid about such things cos i've been watching NCAP crashes on Youtube. All you really need to know is that if you want a chance of surviving you'd better be driving a modern car. That said, the old MX5 holds up surprisingly well, it's a rather solid little car it turns out. Still, no airbags, so that can't be too clever. The Peugeot 205, that wasn't a pleasant sight in the crash tests...eek, I used to have a 205 GTi and thrash it silly.
MX5 has a suspension squeak at the moment, hopefully its just bushes, might try lubricating them. The RX7 still needs a new alternator (output is weak at low revs) but runs well enough if not left idling in traffic for ever.. the other prob it has, not serious though, is that I put a battery in it that doesn't quite fit and the connector keeps working its way off. Very embarrassing when it happens at a traffic light. So I need to either fit the correct battery (rather than the one i stole out of my old 106 before it went to scrapland), or change the connector.
Going to a friend's Wedding on Monday, in Wales. We're camping in the caravan in the same village, so will be able to stumble back from the wedding into caravan :) Then we're on hols and will find another place to camp in wales, finishing up the end of the week by taking the caravan back and then camping by a lake in a tent. My sis is coming too for that bit.
Just rewatched the League of Gentlemen Christmas Special, forgot how dark and scary that one was, and boy they blew the budget on that baby.
Can't believe I forgot. The RX7 is back on the road! First step was finding another battery as the one left in it was well and truly dead. I pinched the good one from the Pug 106 before it went to scrapland. Next step, well I'd lost the remote locking/immobiliser fob hadn't I :) That's the sort of thing I do you see. Went to an alarm shop and the cheapest thing all round was to just fit a new one...and a better one. The result was a much cheaper insurance premium so it was worth it.
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She fired up first time, and despite being laid up for around 8 months was perfect. No handbrake sticking, the tyres didnt even need any air in them. The aircon even still worked, despite they usually need regassing/resealing after such a long time left not running. So then she went for her MOT, and other than a headlight bulb being out, she flew through and this is a 16 year old car. Mazdas are amazing - you may recall the now 18 year old MX5 flew through its MOT without a single fault recently and I'm merciless on that car.
She's still as thirsty as ever though, that hasn't changed. Still goes like a bat out of hell too.
In an attempt to cheer myself up, I thought I'd update on the caravan..It's fantastic! OK, the first journey with it was a nightmare, its a very scary thing to tow a caravan for the first time - You've got this terrifying thing in your mind - forward, forward, never backward. You mess up in a caravan on some double parked road in traffic that can't get past you in the opposite direction and it doesn't matter how large the queue, there're going to have to reverse....because backing up in that situation is just NOT an option. It makes you plan your route very carefully in future and was something I learned the hard way.
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Once you have gotten past the concept that this is not a take anywhere campervan though, and something akin to a small artic truck when you take into account the length of caravan and car, and it gets easier. So what are the advantages? Well, firstly you feel you have something approaching a small home. The campervan was good, but the Caravan really sank in for me one night when I went to the loo. It has a seperate bathroom with its own sink and a shower cubicle. The door even has a lock. While sat on that loo, surveying the little bathroom cabinet and sink, it came to me, I was in my own little property, with my own privacy and conveniences. Compare this to that rainy night where you're busting for the loo and you have to decide whether to just hang with it, or put all your clothes, shoes and coat on and venture into the night to the campsite toilets. It has an almost full size fridge. There is hot and cold running water in the bathroom, shower and kitchen sink. Even things like hot water are such a nice luxury. Once again, do you take all your dishes and wash them in the luke warm water of the communal campsite sink, or do you wash them in the comfort of your little home in a sink full of hot water, it's no contest. The cooker is the same size as the one at home.
There is so much room compared to the camper. You can move around, and washing the dishes or cooking doesn't mean nobody else can even move for elbowing you in the face.
It has electric and gas blown heating, and the heating is controlled on a thermostat. You can heat the water on electric or gas.
Perhaps the biggest change is that while a caravan takes a bit more setting up, once its setup, it's done till you leave. Contrast that with every journey out in the campervan meaning putting everything away, you can leave everything out, your books, radio, television, loose cutlery, jars, etc and just take off in the car and go out for the day, when you come back, maybe exhausted, everything is just as you left it, with a cold fridge and if needed, a warm van waiting.
So far then, loving it. The only note of caution is that some of the sites more suited to caravans can be a bit anodyne, like a mini suburbia. That said there are still plenty of family run sites where you don't feel you're out camping with the Jones'.
I haven't eaten all day because I was in a four hour meeting that went through Lunch. Its a massive project that is one of any number of massive projects falling at my door lately. Work has gotten so bad that one of my colleagues who has been in since the beginning is leaving. To say my stress levels are high would be an understatement. Ang cooked me some tea, and has been very supportive of me and I decided I was going to have a quiet night listening to an audio book or something to try and chill me out. What better way to chill someone out then than to walk in with the tea and say "we're being sued"...one bite later and I've gone right off eating anything...it went back in the kitchen with some sharp words. She's stormed off now.
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Years ago, a manager who I respected enormously was diagnosed with very serious cancer days before Christmas. He didn't tell his wife, never mind his family until well after the new year, he didn't want to ruin their Christmas. That, I told myself, took balls. Ang on the other hand it seems can't even wait till I've eaten my tea or maybe even until tomorrow, to tell me the bad news. The dog bit the postwoman you see and I'd been waiting for news like this, but ideally not today. It could have waited.
My manager died of his Cancer in the end, but fuck me he put up a fight.
Took the MX5 today on a whim for a customary ragging. Went out into the moors over the pennines as I tend to do. Car got a solid caning, and as I was pushed for time, turned the car around on the peak where there is a place for walkers to park. A bike went buzzing past at speed and I followed. It was soon in the distance as it was going at lightspeed. As I came over a crest I saw something that looked wrong...too many cars at odd angles, then something jutting out of a ditch. My first thought was that it was the biker and I got scared because it was going to be really bad if it were him. But it wasn't, it was a car, a Renault Megane on its side and their was a family crawling out of it. I saw a guy lift a very young child out of the window. I pulled in amongst a number of other cars that had already stopped.. there were already a number of people helping the family and they seemed uninjured. The baby, maybe about 2 was crying and so was a girl who I presumed might have been driving. In the end I just stood and gawped because there were lots of people already around and I didn't see how an extra body was going to make anything better for anyone. So I drove off after asking someone if they were all right and at first was quite calm about it, but in typical fashion it has now caught up with me and I feel a bit shocked.
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Here's how to make a great dairy filled breakfast...
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Fry an large free-range Egg and two slices of thick Bacon in Butter - not marg, or any other cant believe it's not butter crap, actual butter.
While the egg is cooking, season with salt, black pepper and a dab of HOT chilli sauce
Put some toast on
Grate some cheddar cheese and add to bacon about 30 seconds before removing from the pan.
Butter your toast, and put your egg onto it. Add a liberal amount of Tomato sauce to the egg.
Add your bacon/cheese.
Serve with a large glass of full fat milk and enjoy.
I'm starting to wonder if I do more harm than good trying to look after my older Radio's. My prized Sharp GF-6500 first lost its power selector years ago after I cleaned all the knobs and then lost that bit. And yesterday I had the bright idea of cleaning the knobs again, this time in an ultrasonic cleaner. Nothing wrong with that, but I had to go and mix Cillit Bang in with it. Yes, it really is a great cleaner...but it contains bleach. My red record button came out pink, and the black plastic has gone a grayish colour. How depressing.
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I intended to do a review of all my radios eventually, and one I was going to get round to was my Pure Evoke-1. It's a beautifully built radio that looks as though it is built to last a life time. It might be made in China, but so what, China is pushing out some of the most high quality kit these days. I had heard of a number of owners having problems with Pure's early products, but having not had such a failure myself assumed I was one of the lucky ones who had a good radio. My Evoke 1 has put in around 5 years of flawless service, and I'd love to recommend it...the fit and finish is second to none, and sound quality wise, I rated it as one of my best radios. It's very good looking. Plenty of power, clean yet rich, distortion free sound that makes an ideal kitchen radio. Very, very good....except now I've been made one of the Pure Widows...the radio one day recently decided not to turn on, just a row of black characters show on the display, a not uncommon fault my searching has revealed.
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It's sad because as a radio enthusiast I've always thought that good quality radios can last decades, and even though I'm not suggesting they don't occasionally fail, with the analogue circuitry of radios of yore an enthusiastic amateur could always look into repairing it. With DAB however, we have to understand our radios are actually a sophisticated and specialised computer. When it comes to MP3 players I've reluctantly accepted that they are only designed to last a few years and then will be either broken or outdated. I can't bring myself to feel that way about high quality radios though. Still, my chances of fixing my Evoke-1 look slim at this stage. Very sad, I could never bring myself to dump such a beautiful radio in the bin, even if it doesn't work. Maybe one day I will fix it. It makes me worry now for the future of my other DAB radios.
I said I'd do some reviews of my other radios ages ago, so here's another.
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The Gemini 49 is a very stylish, petite FM/DAB portable radio made for Roberts by Sangean, like most of Robert's radios nowadays. The first thing that strikes you about this radio is how clean, small and cute the thing is, the little orange power button sets off against the white and is very inviting. Press it and the orange backlit clear 2 line LCD display greets you. It will run from 6 AA batteries or a DC 12V power jack (adapter supplied). There are two neat things here, the first - it will take and charge rechargeable batteries while they are in the radio, making using rechargeables economical and handy. Second, because it will run from 12V DC you can use/charge it in the car or camper. Next to the DC jack is a 3.5mm headphone jack, which while this is a single speaker portable, is a stereo output. The radio features 5 presets for each band which is fine for most purposes, and while some might want for more the extra buttons would make the radio look fussy I think. Tuning DAB stations is a snap, you can just flick through them with the up/down keys, then select the station with the "select" button right next to the up/down keys. You can flick through the all the information available about the station with the info key, and scrolling text is easily readable on the LCD even without the backlight which goes out after a few seconds when running on batteries. Reception on both DAB and FM always has seemed good to me but I've never done any tests (yet). Volume is controlled by an attractive and beautifully weighted grey rubber dial. The quality feel is throughout the radio, nothing on it feels cheap, the packaging and tolerances are excellent. So how does it sound? Fantastic for it's size. The radio features a tiny speaker but the sound is remarkably good for it's size. It's never going to be room filling sound, and it doesn't go that loud, but crucially the sound stays clean and free from distortion all the way. Voices on Radio 4 are very listenable, and generally the sound is tight and punchy but without being tiring. It's aimed as a small kitchen radio I think, though I prefer a more powerful radio in kitchen and see this as more of a bathroom radio myself. It would also be a nice radio to take on a picnic. Sound output on the headphones is pretty good, though there is a slight flabbiness to the bass, but otherwise it's very enjoyable and as I write this I'm listening to Michael Jackon's Thriller on the headphones and I have it cranked up! Battery life is apparently about 20 hours with top spec rechargeables, so not stunning but not disappointing either. One niggle, if you take this places with you, remember to take out and pocket one of the batteries. Otherwise the radio will easily turn itself on while in your bag as the power button is sensitive.
Overall then a beautifully made, great looking, and great sounding radio that is small enough to take with you almost anywhere.
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* 106 went to scrappers
* Horace brakes went
* We now own a caravan! In very good nick, beautiful kitchen area - full size cooker and fridge, hot and cold running water, separate shower, bathroom with sink and toilet, fridge and heating run off either electric or gas, loads of room. Love it, but scared cos I've never towed a caravan before...we pick it up in a couple of weeks.
* Bought a car to pull it, a Volvo V40 - it's an absolute peach. The other thing about having a big estate car is that I'm going to get a screen in the boot so I can take Toddy for walks!
* Work is pissing me off, maybe looking for a new job but heh the current one pays the bills.
The little £325 Pug 106 has been a little cracker, but sadly the rear suspension is now shot. I think its the rear trailing arm bearings and apparently they're an absolute pig to do. For the money though I really can't argue, its done about 10K trouble free miles since we've had it. Yes, its slow, but its also very comfy, cruises nicely at slow speeds, and the engine,while clattery when cold, settles down to a contented thrum when the engine is hot. The little 1.4 TUD3 is frowned upon by some, apparently they chew head gaskets, but ours never missed a beat. 60MPG around town, and 75MPG on the motorway. It performed brilliantly in the snow we had recently too. We just got back from a lovely break in Wales in what will probably be its last long journey with us. It will be going up for sale for next to nothing as "spares or repairs". The MX5 and RX7 will be emerging back onto the roads blinking in the daylight!
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With the pug going, I do have my eye on another vehicle...seen a lovely Toyota Hiace "Super Custom" van going for very reasonable money. This baby is loaded - four wheel drive, 3 litre turbo diesel, climate control, memory electric seats and steering position that "remember" the drivers preferred setup, captain seats, two huge sunroofs, electric blinds, it has everything! I've driven it and it goes like a dream, and that diesel is so smooth it sounds like a petrol. Tempting, very tempting.
|Subject:||I <3 Python|
In the past I've played with numerous programming and scripting languages. Started off with Pascal in the 90s, moved on to C which I never got good at, its just so easy to break. Good for doing low level stuff, but a pain in the arse for large amounts of other stuff. Used to do a bit of x86 assembly, 68K, 6502 etc, all fun for low level. I did a bit of BASIC, but never quite got into that, always seemed a bit too high level for me...wasn't convinced. Over the years though as I've done more sysadmin, and less programming, I've made do with shell scripts. Checked out a few more scripting languages guessing I was missing out, but they never quite hit the spot. Something told me I should be writing my scripts in perl, but on trying to learn it, while I could see it was powerful, it just didn't do it for me. Made some half hearted looks at Lua and Lisp in the past too, and Lisp was probably the one that while different pressed my buttons. Still haven't got into it though someday maybe I will. And finally, along comes Python. Something just clicked. Its incredibly powerful, yet just so darn intuitive and easy to learn and use. I amazed myself today because I've never written web scripts, know next to rock all about HTML, forms and CGI and yet within a day I wrote a reasonably complex little web based script in Python. I'm absolutely smitten, there is something just so right about it.
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