Warning: geek post: A new toy is born.

After seeing Grim’s Nokia N800 and reading about Alec’s (and also finding out that I need to pay no more income tax on my Nan’s estate) I decided to buy one for myself along with the bluetooth keyboard.

It arrived on Wednesday and I’ve been playing ever since.

A quick summary of the device can be made thus: It’s a pocket sized Linux computer without a keyboard and can communicate via WiFi or Bluetooth and has a display driven using an X server and uses an embeded version of Opera for a web browser.

Well, it works well, though there are limitations, as there would be with such a small device. Having said that, it was relatively painless to download and install all I needed to connect the machine to the work VPN service so that I could use the WiFi there and once I’d installed an xterm program and OpenSSH hacking the system, based upon Debian Linux, is a doddle.

There are two things so far I’ve not been able to do. The first and most important for me is get standard X wiindow fonts to work. The second is get an development environment set up so that I can build and install applications such as the full set of commandline utilities along with bash etc.

Oh, and did I say that you can display remote X programs over an ssh tunnel on the device.. sweet.

I was a TV star….NOT!

Well, on the final of The National Lottery People’s Quiz earlier today they did actually use some of the footage taped at the pub quiz a number of weeks ago and, yes, I didn appear in the shots.. at the back for about 2 seconds in total. Woohoo! Not exactly a starring role.

My friends in the audience did manage to get a lot more airtime but I only spotted Anvita, Sam and Andrea and couldn’t see Sion and Andy. However, the large sheet with the Queen Victoria’s Truncheon picture on it did, somehow, get shown quite a lot in the audience shots!

Anyway, this brings my total TV airtime now to around 10 seconds, the other 8 were in a TSW news report on the Camborne School of Mines Geothermal Energy Project where I was shown twiddling the knob on an oscilloscope (while in a further shot the geophysicist was show working the computer.. dunno how that happened).

A window in the weather.

Having seen the week’s weather forecast on BBC’s Country File programme I made the decision to stuff washing the car and instead find somewhere outside where I could enjoy the brief spell of usefully dry weather while it was available. (i.e. the rest of the week’s weather is forecast to be rubbish!) So, then I had to try to work out where to go.

I came to the conclusion that the Ridgeway would be too wet and anyway I’ve been up to that stretch of byway by the White Horse a couple of times already this year. I really wanted somewhere with a bit of elevation and to possibly have something to photograph. I decided upon Wittenham Clumps as I’d never visited them even though they’re only about 10 miles away.

I was pleasantly surprised by the place. In between the droning of light aircraft (the worst of which are modern aircraft with high speed propellers which are loud even when the aircraft is miles away, unlike the old cessnas and pipers) it was pretty peaceful with lots of birdsong in the woodland and around the meadow with only the occasional bang of a shotgun, posisbly trying to kill the said birds, who knows.

I was glad I had thought to take along with me my binoculars and my camera and had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours of more solitude than normal. (And I worked out that the worst culprits for south Oxford aircraft noise were air cadets.) By the time I’d got back to the car park at about 3pm cars were literally queuing to get in, so if you want to visit, go early.

Here’s a taster of what I saw:

Tranquil Oxfordshire (or not)

Yesterday I came to opinion that there’s nowhere in Oxfordshire where you can get away from the sounds of people.

I had to escape from my house yesterday afternoon as if I had the windows open all I could hear was one (or more) of the following:

  • Kids screaming.
  • Music playing loudly.
  • Large engined motorbikes ticking over in a courtyard behind which amplified the sound.
  • Light aircraft either flying over, or, more annoyingly, doing aerobatics.
  • Motorcyclists using the road at the edge of the estate as a raceway.

So, I ran away to the woods, or, more exactly, the Oxford Harcourt Arboretum.

I walked as far away from the road as I could. I walked as far away from people as I could. However, I couldn’t escape the constant loud drone of multiple light aircraft which pierced the tranquility like a knife. indeed, it was loud enough that there was no way of hearing the wind in the trees or the crunching sound of my footfalls on the gravel path.

It’s not even as if the areas I’m talking about are close to any airfields, the nearest being at least 10 miles away, the other side of Oxford (Kidlington) so why the high concentration of aircraft around the edge of S.E. Oxford?

So, that’s how I came to the resolution that there’s no peacefulness in Oxfordshire.

London 2012, or is that 1986?

The new London Olympics graphics, especially the video, has been niggling me. It seemed to me that I’d seen this style before somewhere and couldn’t put my finger ‘on it. However, now I have pinned it down.. it’s the video from Queen’s “A Kind of Magic” and parts of the Wax “Building a Bridge to Your Heart” video.

So, we’re lead to believe that this “fresh,” “new” and “exciting” look is all wonderful, “forward looking” and very 2012 when in fact it’s just a rehash of a 20 year old pop video.. very retro. What was old is new again. And as The Register pointed out, this is the agency who thought up the BT piper logo, so it’s not that surprising.

It’s that middle of the week thing again.

Well, it’s the middle of the week, so what do I have to show for it?

Well, for one thing I’ve got the VPN system at work up and running after the computing services changed our gateway firewall’s external address to a routable one. It seems to work well and quickly and I’ve even managed to get a Linux client not running Cisco’s VPN client to connect to it.

Other than that, there’s not much to say, really. I have been feeling so tired after being shattered at the end of last week and not having Sunday to recuperate. Still, tonight I’m off to the University Club with a bunch of other sysadmins for a geek night out, which should be fun, if I can stay awake that is.

Stuck in work

Well, at half past midday today I got a phone call.. one of the RAID arrays used by a research group had a problem after an accidental knocking of the power cord out of the back of the UPS which powered the said array.

Now, it’s nearly 6pm and the fsck on one of the 1 terrabyte partitions has been running for about five hours and has found lots of duplicate block entries, so I’m sitting here in work waiting for it to finish so I can reboot the machine (to allow the other partitions to be NFS exported) before running fsck on the damaged partition again overnight (with the -y option this time and the output redirected to a file).

Oh well.