Sunday, October 24, 2004

Virus, CUPS (etc.), Radco, Evil Ray.

Yet another holiday and yet another (human) virus. This is starting to piss me off.

I haven't had printing working on tom (my main machine - runs FC2) for months. I fucked it all up by using the CUPS web interface which totally confused the Red Hat "system-config-printer" gui tool. I'm downloading a newer CUPS (I'd already done this to try and get USB printing working) and a newer HPIJS to see if it'll fix things.

The new Radco superstore is very nice - a huge improvement. Shame the ceiling fell in there yesterday. (The Co-op without a web site in Radstock, for the curious).

I was attacked (OK - it missed) by a feisty ray on Friday at the Seaquarium in Weston-Super-Mare. Odd. Very interesting creatures though. I could have watched them for hours.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I've set up a monoforge account. Wonder what I'll do with it.

Gaim, BLAM!, notification panel, xscreensaver, bus, Liverpool, workrave, Lq

Various things:
  1. Gaim - I wish gaim would show me as "away" automagically. Lq started typing at me the morning (from Oz) but guess what? I was still at home in bed. (Aside to Lq: hope you and A are having lekker time - thanks for message!)
  2. BLAM! - Read this with excitement. Finally worked out that it only disappears from the GNOME notification panel area when I've read/ma
  3. GNOME notification panel area: a bone of contention with some people. When I close gaim, it keeps running in the notification panel (the behaviour I want). When I close BLAM! the application quits completely.
  4. Why xscreensaver still looks like it did when I first started using it, by JWZ.
  5. The bus hit a car on the way in this morning gouging a hole in the car's front tyre.
  6. Liverpool is the most modern and forward-looking city in Britain - they're banning smoking.
Back to work - and workrave is telling me to have a break (again).

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Ubuntu Warty released

Ubuntu Linux Warty has been released. I'm running the release version now (and appear to have been for most of the day). Very nice. All the contentious graphics have been replaced with more usinversally acceptable ones (which is a mixed blessing, I suppose). Everything is stable and rock solid.

All I need to learn now is how to build .debs and I'll be as happy as Larry. (Who he?)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

PostgreSQL weekly news

I can't believe that my humble (but glowing) blog entry on PostgreSQL training was linked to from PostgreSQL weekly news.

I meant every word I typed though. I am now a PostgreSQL convert!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Ubuntu Theme furore

The fine folks at Ubuntu Linux are getting ready for their first release (Warty Warthog a.k.a. 4.10) and have just started making the final changes for the first "Release Candidate". Way to go - a lot of hard work from some very clever people.

So what's up? Well, they've changed the default GDM theme, gnomesplash theme (that splash image you get as GNOME starts up) and the desktop background.

The old defaults featured the beautiful, stylish and simple ubuntu logo (three stylised people of different races in a ring) and text. Very nice, conservative, modern and professional - with a subliminal, powerful political message.

The new themes (and bear in mind ubuntu is all about humanity, and their themes are called "human") feature - shock, horror: humans!!! OMG! The humans in question are young and happy Africans of different racial groups: one bloke and two women.

  • In the GDM background they're all happy and smiling and in a ring like the logo, on a white background. Very nice. Modern, different and human.
  • In GNOME, your background should default to a nice brown background with the ubuntu logo showing through. Due to a previous bug (hey, it's beta software), some people got the monthly "Ubuntu calendar" background. Same shade of brown as the default background, but with our three African chums all shown naked from the top up (the ladies retain their modesty by positioning their arms well).
  • gnomesplash isn't there long and is somewhere between the two.
The new themes/images are different, if a bit cheesy in some peoples' eyes. I'm almost won over though. I think it's a brave, radical change. Humans! On computers! Whatever next.

But I'm going to go on record and say I think the 3 people should keep their clothes on. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't bother Debbie either. It'd just be a bit more tasteful/less embarrassing in the workplace.

Here's Mark Shuttleworth's take on the whole thing: Mark's e-mail (can't argue with a man who has been in space).

PostgreSQL training 2

Had the second day of PostgreSQL training today. At last I understand how it works (to administer it). MySQL is a lot simpler to understand but is nowhere near as powerful/clever/well-suited to the enterprise/whatever.

Simon Riggs rocked as a trainer because he deserved ultimate respect. All that knowledge - wow. (I'm sorry; that wasn't a sentence).

Impressive stuff, especially version 8 (currently in beta).

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

PostgreSQL training

We're having on-site PostgreSQL training from Simon Riggs of 2nd Quadrant.

It's a bit different having training from someone who really knows what they're talking about. Other trainers may "know" their product well enough to train, install and troubleshoot it, but this guy knows the guts of the system being one of the contributors to it. (Not that he's full of himself nor is he mentioning it all the time or anything like that - he's humble and a likeable guy).

It's a damn fine course, and I'd recommend getting PostgreSQL training from these people any day. Props to them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I'm currently reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell - a book I knew nothing about until I picked it up a few weeks ago in Ottakar's in Wells. (Apparently it had just come out that week). I bought a black copy.

I'm only about 1/5th of the way through, so this isn't a review. It's just odd that I should
  1. purchase a book which I'd never heard of before
  2. purchase a book by an author I'd never heard of before
  3. purchase a book by a female author (I'm no sexist, it's just the way things go - although I do have all five Harry Potter books ready to read at home)
  4. purchase a new, hardback book
  5. purchase a book mainly because the cover(s) looked good
Strange that it was that almost instantly reviewed on /. and then I saw loads of adverts on the tube in London. Do geeks have an in-built sense of "we must read this"? Are we attracted to the same thing? Or is the book more mainstream than I think it is? (I never really have understood why certain things I like are mainstream and some aren't).

The book so far is very good - I keep trying to cram in moments when I can read it between work, parenting, food, talking to Debbie and sleeping.

The associated web site is an intriguing idea - good looking, extra content, associated stories and more. If only all web sites were like this (reminds me of the original Blair Witch one).

Monday, October 11, 2004 is live

I've moved from to (hosted by At last.

The CSS (nicked from here) is still slightly wrong and I'm thinking about a 3 column layout, but apart from that it's all systems go.

Next will be smarty and then mysql back-end.

nic's web-history:
  1. (c. Feb. 1994-2000)
  2. (c. 1995-1998)
  3. (c. 1999-2004)
  4. (Oct. 2004-...)
Of course, no-one ever reads it, but that's another story!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Still here in London

So I'm still here in London.

/dev/random turns out to be in a patch (112438-03) for Solaris 8 which I've now installed. Now I'm just waiting for the first two disks to sync... and someone's just come in and told me that the machine room shuts at 7pm. Not tonight it won't. I at least want / and /usr mirrored before I reboot (to get the kernel module loaded so OpenSSH can start).

More importantly, my car is going to be stuck at the Park and Ride all night. (I'm not going to get home until about 10pm or later at this rate). I hope no pillock breaks into it.

Stuck in London

So I'm stuck in London at ULCC doing a Solaris 8 re-install (don't ask why) on a SunFire V880.

The joys.

First, a cut down (ie. faster) install failed because it hadn't installed awt, needed for the installer to continue and install the second CD.

Next: why do Solaris Patch Sets take so long to install?

Why isn't DiskSuite installed by default?

Why is so much other stuff started by default?

Where is /dev/(u)random? My OpenSSH build needs this and it's gone off on holiday somewhere...

I know Solaris 8 is old now... Let's hope 10 is saner. (Bet it won't be).


Kudos to blogger: you can post using elinks (which I'm using now). You don't have to use a GUI browser. My main problem is I don't know the navigation keys off by heart and keep losing what I've typed by going backwards, or navigating away from the compose box and not being able to get back again. It's also a lot faster to render in elinks than in Gecko, etc. as the graphics for the WYSIWYG editor can take a long time to download.

Nice one blogger - if only all sites were this good.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Firefox and the common man

I wore my Firefox T-shirt to a family party last weekend, and was shocked when my Dad asked, "What's Firefox?"

It shows that sometimes we geeks can fool ourselves into thinking that the rest of the world will soon be marching in time with us. I'll burn him a CD when 1.0 final is released. And perhaps Thunderbird, too.

P.S. Debbie just read this and said "that's really interesting - not". More proof, if any were needed. :-(

Ubuntu 3

More comments about the fab Ubuntu Linux.

I installed it on sylvester (my venerable Dell Inspiron 2500 laptop) using "Sounder 9" (the Sounder pre-releases are known to install properly). First the problems:
  • The supplied version of grub is bollocks :-) It's obsessed with ext[23] as opposed to any real filesystems (XFS, JFS).
  • Not an ubuntu problem, but I got my keyboard wet, which screwed things up wonderfully!
  • The installer is dog-ugly - I'm used to anaconda.
But that's it! My other install went horribly, so I didn't know what really went on. (The other install wasn't from a Sounder disk and didn't even install the kernel, grub, modutils, ... let alone a desktop)!

What you get with this install is a fully-featured, working GNOME 2.8 desktop installed with everything you could actually want. Unbelievable.

This is only a preview release of the first version of Ubuntu and it's nearly as good as Fedora Core already.

It was also a piece of piss to get my prism54 card working properly - a quick look at the wiki and that was it. Fantastic. (The firmware was already in the right place). I'm loving laptop-mode, too. Clever.

I'm becoming a convert, and I've used Red Hat Linux/Fedora Core since RHL 4.1. Weird...