dave: December 2006 Archives

We are from the Third Planet


I heard you cry out, tell me, what did you encounter? I had a dream, about a man. He is not from our world. He came down from the sky and spoke to me. He said, "We are from the Third Planet." Go on. He said, "We come from Earth.

Need some spoken word samples for your music? Go to s107.net.

Cool Googling


It's a big Ad!


Internet Resilience


From this mornings SCMP:

On Other Matters...

Didn't the inventors of the internet claim that it would continue functioning despite anything, even an atomic war?

If so, how come we're now cut off from the world because an earthquake damaged four undersea cables?

Ron Baker, Tsim Sha Tsui

I don't know if they used those exact words, but the Internet protocols are very robust indeed and will usually find a path (if one exists) to the desired hosts. The problem with the internet this week hasn't been that the protocols are weak, it's been that there was a single point of failure for most communications.

We're hardly cut off from the world. I experience about a day or so of poor or little connectivity, and everything seems to be back to normal about now. That may just be my ISP routing through Singapore. Other people seem to be having more of an issue, but even at the worst, I could still contact other sites, even if I couldn't reach everywhere.

Blame PCCW for focusing all our international infrastructure on a few links going through an earthquake zone, not the Internet.

Various media reports have been going on about how we need satellite data links. I'm not sure how much good that would really do. Satellites are always available (assuming they're in geostationary orbit and theres no large objects in the way), but they're a long way away. Data will take a significant amount of time to get there, even travelling at the speed of light, so the latency would be worse, even though the bandwidth would be ok. What that means in practice is that and kind of streaming transmission (like iChat, Skype or online games) would be poor, although raw data (webpages) should be OK.

Quaked II


(This one's in OpenGL)

It seems that access is back to normal, or thereabouts. I'me still experiencing some slowdowns on some sites, but I can access most things from home.

I suspect that the techie boys at netfront.net (my ISP) have re-routed everything though Singapore, but they're turned off ICMP packets on pings, so I can't tell from the traceroute.

Trans-Pacific Cables


Looks like last night's Earthquakes near Taiwan have knocked out internet communication across the Pacific! I can resolve sites in Hong Kong, but nothing else!

Update: PCCW et al are predicting another two days of poor internet connectivity and phone lines. I was talking to family via iChat earlier on and that was almost unusable. (Oh woe is me, my full screen internet teleconferencing is only working intermittently!) Where I'd normally have my upstream transmission at 400+kbps, it was down to about 30-40kpbs, with poor latency. (packets arriving out of order, lots of audio lag, etc).

I'm getting many sites resolving now, but loading them takes a while. It seems like it's hard to initiate a connection, but once you're there it works ok, albeit slowly. Some sites, particularly east coast USA sites seem to be still unavailable.

Hopefully things will get back under control within five days and then email will self-recover. (Sensible mail-servers allow a site to be out of action for about five days before giving up on it. It's a very resilient protocol.)

Now that's driving!


Happy Hogswatch!


Happy Hogswatch to my imaginary reader!

2006 christmas tree

Bra Ad of The Week ][

| | Comments (4)

This one was pointed out by the missus the other day:



"Gong Li! She's *huge*"


It's from the poster for "The Golden Flower", the latest Zhang Yimou movie.

Psst, Chow Yun Fat, her eyes are a little higher up!

(Is it just me, or does he look like Jean Reno in this movie?)

Dealing with Corrupt databases


Hmm, the PostgreSQL database was corrupt and I had to manually delete a few records to get everything to the stage where it would recover it's onw integrity. So I lost a few comments. I manually retrieved some of the later ones, from google caches, and the various backups here.

So, what happened? As far as I can tell, the regularly scheduled backups at 0400 on Thursday morning caused the primary drive (old 40Gb) to fail and also completely bricked the primary backup drive (250GB). My Tertiary backup (300Gb) picked up some corruption as well, probably by copying stuff from a failing drive.

Three live copies of my data in on three physical drives and it nearly wasn't enough. However, to be fair, the stuff that was corrupted was in memory or non-comitted stuff in a database. All my client work, designs and reports are safe as far as I know.

I've whacked a new SATA drive in as primary with a fresh install of FC6, and moved services and data over as necessary. A better solution is obviously required: not just copying files, but a proper dump and restore backup, so a failed drives just means swapping connectors around, not two days of trying to remember everything I ever knew about Linux System Administration.

Site Outage


There's been a major failure on my Linux server: Primary and backups are both bricked, currently working on new installation of OS with shards of previous disks being milked for content. Normal service will be resumed later.

I've recovered my databases, although they were slightly older versions, and seem to have got most things working again.

On Christmas Presents


If you are at all unsure of the acceptability of your Christmas (or other) present for a small child — one that is under about seven years old — please remember the following facts.

A cardboard box large enough to hold one or more children is capable of:

  • Doing the Kessel Run in under 11 parsecs
  • Flying faster than Santa
  • Racing from Coast to Coast faster than Jackie Chan
  • Fighting off the attacking Hun.

It is the vehicle of choice of whatever badly dubbed superhero your children watch when you have to be out of the house, and will double as any vehicle/office/planet your children have in mind.

Unless you just get them a cardboard box. Then you're just being cheap and they can spot that a mile away.

English Editing Required


From Today's SCMP:

English editing required

While in Happy Valley the other night I noticed a police road sign that read: "Do not across here". A few days before, Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping became a laughing stock when he said in a published speech that "most people in Hong Kong live in buildings" and "we laid the seeds".

There is no excuse for such ridiculous mistakes. The government needs to show all English materials to a team of competent editors before they are published or posted as signs. There are quite a few of them employed with taxpayers' money in the Information Services Department.


Unfortunately, what happens is that the good old Chinese concept of 'Face' intervenes in the editing process and screws things up. To say that a senior person can't write proper English would cause that senior person to lose face, and therefore nothing is done.

Poor Quality Automation


Some web forums have a habit of sending you an email on certain days, usually birthdays. It's a fairly simple thing to do.

Unless, of course, you're jobsdb.com. I recently got an email from them wishing me a happy birthday two or three days before the day itself. Now, if it had been after, I would have assumed that the message got put in the email queue and was delayed for some reason, but before?

Mind you, I don't expect much from jobsdb.com. Their website is obnoxious, being IE only. (I think it might even be IE on Windows only!) That might have made sense back in the late 1990's (although I seriously doubt it), but it certainly doesn't do so now.

And don't even get me started on demand CVs in MS Word format for Unix Administrator positions.

One other annoyance with jobsdb.com is CV Spam. Whenever I update my CV on that site, I get a flurry of 'request for release of CV' emails. Unfortunately they're never germane to the actual content of my CV, they're from Manulife or AIA and looking for someone to sell insurance and 'financial planning products'.

Pyramid Cam


Worried that the tombs of the pharaohs might have vanished? Concerned that the Sphinx may have left in a huff? Worry no more! Keep track of your favourite billion-ton razor sharpening devices with the Pyramid Cam!

(Via The Sideshow.)

More Security Theatre II


U.S. puts machine-guns on Great Lakes coast guard vessels:

For the first time since 1817, U.S. Coast Guard vessels on the Great Lakes are being outfitted with weapons - machine-guns capable of firing 600 bullets a minute. Until now, coast guard officers have been armed with handguns and rifles, but the vessels themselves haven't been equipped with weapons.

Because, you know, any threats the US is exposed to are not exacerbated in any way at all by shoving guns in people's faces and insisting they they have to right to project force wherever they damn well like.

Young Man with a Horn


Pat Metheny on Kenny G:

But when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis's tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician.

At the moment I'm working in Festival walk, and I'm *glad* that the cheesy big-band swing Christmas music is piped everywhere now, because it means that I don't have to listen to Kenny G all day. (Muzak is piped to the toilets and the retail areas, but not the offices, thank God.)

(UPDATE: OK, Metheny made those comments 6 years ago, but they're just as true today.)

(UPDATE2: Richard Thompson had a go too!.)

Ants Nests


Colbert on Catholicism


Stephen Colbert on catholicism:

the microsoft of christianity

Firefox 2

| | Comments (1)

Firefox 2.0 is completely broken on Linux.

Sometimes it lasts for hours, sometimes for seconds, but it always crashes.

I've installed someone else's RPM, and compiled it from source, with no difference. It's broken, broken, broken.

It's so broken, I have a button on my dock which runs a script to kill firefox and restart it:

desktop screen capture


# stop firefox and restart it

killall firefox-bin && sleep 1 && firefox &

And yet, the way it recovers from a crash with all of your tabs and content is amazing. Can someone backport that feature to Firefox 1.5?

About Me


  • Unsolicited Bulk Email (spam), commercial solicitations, SEO related items, link exchange requests, and abuse are not welcome here and will result in complaints to your ISP.
  • Any email to the above address may be made public at the sole discretion of the recipient.

Other Stuff

  • Powered by Linux
  • (RedHat Linux)


Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by dave in December 2006.

dave: November 2006 is the previous archive.

dave: January 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

dave: Monthly Archives