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puppet revisited log - Thu, 16/06/2011 - 8:46pm

In an earlier post, I asked a number of questions, most of which are now answered. Here's a recap:

I wrote

I stumbled across some CF Engine-style definitions for puppet in a Debian Administration article (taken originally from puppet's own wiki, which have since been moved/deleted)

vote log - Fri, 15/04/2011 - 9:18am

I've just voted Stefano Zacchiroli for Debian Project Leader (DPL). The voting period closes tonight, so if you are a Debian developer and haven't yet voted, please do!

Debian uses a Condorcet voting system, which to my non-expert eyes, bears some resemblance to "Single Transferrable Vote" (STV), at least compared to "First Past the Post" (FPTP). There is a debate raging in the UK as to whether Government elections should be counted based on an STV method instead of FPTP, with a referendum on the subject in May.

sortpaper log - Thu, 14/04/2011 - 9:42pm


I stumbled across this file whilst sorting through some old backups. It's a "sortpaper": a wallpaper designed to aid people with sorting out files on their desktops.

I thought I would share it in case anybody thought the concept was interesting: The size/aspect of the picture probably make it less practically useful today than whenever I first made it.

aero log - Wed, 06/04/2011 - 10:54am

aero snap was one of the launch features of Windows 7 that was quickly copied into other desktop systems (most recently, gnome 3). I've written about it before. Essentially, dragging windows to hot regions of the screen resizes those windows to occupy some area of the screen. To the top: the whole window area (maximize). To the left or right, 50% of the width of the window area, all of the height.

office decoration log - Sun, 25/07/2010 - 5:21pm

Whilst re-organising offices, I found a collection of ancient X programming books. They seem like perfect book shelf ornaments for a (former?) UNIX hacker.

A series of X programming books.

Full size 768K.

bup log - Wed, 02/06/2010 - 4:28pm

Packages of bup, a git-based de-duplicating backup tool, are now available in unstable.

new job log - Tue, 20/04/2010 - 3:23pm

I'm changing jobs!

From June 1st, I will be team leader of the Computing Support team for the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University.

I will be leaving my current job as a Computing Officer within the central IT department's UNIX infrastructure team (ISS). My professional career began within ISS nearly 6 years ago. I have made many friends and will miss working with them as closely as I have.

tesco log - Wed, 07/04/2010 - 3:06pm

Tesco Car Insurance (and most likely their other financial products) operate a commercial email system which is populated by anyone who submits their address to them as part of searching for a car insurance quote.

That's not particularly unusual. Each mail that Tesco sends includes unsubscribe instructions - standard industry practise. However Tesco's instructions do not work. I have followed them at least three times since January this year to no avail. Despite this I have continued to receive unsolicitied commercial email (spam) from Tesco.

There must be a better way of doing this log - Mon, 29/03/2010 - 12:10pm
14:31:33$ rake
(in /home/jon/wd/web/sup)
rake aborted!
no such file to load -- rubygems
/home/jon/wd/web/sup/Rakefile:33:in `require'
(See full trace by running task with --trace)

So I identify which package is necessary and install it. Then:

14:31:52$ rake
(in /home/jon/wd/web/sup)
rake aborted!
no such file to load -- gettext
(See full trace by running task with --trace)

So I identify which package is necessary and install it. Then:

pilgrimage log - Wed, 24/03/2010 - 10:16am
a pile of records

I'm in Manchester so I have made my requisite pilgrimage to Vinyl Exchange and paid my dues.

“The Dice Man” and “Generation X” log - Fri, 19/03/2010 - 12:39pm

The movie '“Fight Club' had a profound effect on me when I first saw it in 1999. I wasn't as fond of the originating novel, although there was something about the prose that Palahniuk used which I did enjoy.

the world we live in log - Fri, 19/03/2010 - 9:19am

Sometimes the world we live in amazes me.

Rentokil falsify scientific studies that show an alarming number of bugs and pests on public transport. Ben Goldacre calls them out, and fellow marketing people defend the practice as a sound marketing tool.

The Wire log - Thu, 25/02/2010 - 9:54am

A good friend of mine convinced me to give "The Wire" a try. I've just finished season four of five. This is the best TV programme I have ever seen. I'd have a renewed faith in the TV industry's quality standards were it not for the fact it stands alone, quality-wise.

Guardian columnist Charlie brooker says it best:

iphone doom log - Thu, 04/02/2010 - 9:54am

Id Software have released a port of Doom for the iPhone. What makes this exciting for me is the lineage of this code. the iPhone port is derived from prboom. Peeking around in the source code, there's some of my code in there (p_checksum.[ch]) as well as some code I borrowed from dpkg (md5.[ch], thanks to Colin Plumb and Ian Jackson). This stuff is unlikely to actually be run on the iPhone, mind (although I think I have some patches against p_enemy.c which will).

Dawn log - Fri, 15/01/2010 - 11:48am

The weather in January in the UK is normally very drab, and this January has been no exception. Despite this I've found myself uncharactistically upbeat. I'm enjoying work, I've got a lot to do, and I feel like I'm making real progress in "real life" too. (It's a shame Debian has taken a back seat for the time being...)

This morning was marginally less drab.

music on linux 2009 log - Thu, 14/01/2010 - 2:53pm

An excellent Linux Journal article on the improvements made to music software on Linux during 2009:

no longer on hold log - Wed, 13/01/2010 - 9:06pm

I'm no longer on hold - the call was disconnected after 1 hour and 9 minutes. Yay for O2!

on hold log - Wed, 13/01/2010 - 8:55pm

I've been on hold to my mobile phone provider for over an hour. However, in that time, I've take a massive bite out of my miscellaneous TODO list. That feels good!

shunit2 log - Thu, 17/12/2009 - 3:20pm

Despite my position on shell scripts (see sh), one of the bespoke packages in Debian that I look after, game-data-packager, is written entirely in bourne shell. This is partly a result of it's origins: game-data-packager grew iteratively from hacky shell scripts that did specific jobs to install non-free game data into a Debian system.

shell scripts log - Fri, 20/11/2009 - 8:32pm

[Russell Coker writes about shellscripts. I have a different suggestion. Whenever you think that a shellscript is the right solution to a problem, you are mistaken: do it in a proper scripting language instead. Having access to proper data structures will mean you don't have to contort your code to fit values into scalar strings, or write loads of temporary files, or call cut/awk/sed/grep etc. repeatedly on the same inputs to get at different fields, etc. etc. etc.

sid fail log - Fri, 20/11/2009 - 12:06pm

Every now and then I have a demoralising experience with the quality of Debian packages in sid. That's to be expected, sid is a development distribution, but it still sometimes gets on my nerves. I've decided to write about some of my experiences.

Some rules: I may not rant without

Sweet and Sour log - Mon, 09/11/2009 - 8:43pm

Earlier in the year I bought some stuff from UK clothes retailer USC. USC kindly included some gift vouchers in my delivery.

This is a good example of how to sweeten a deal and make your customers happy.

FAC-10 log - Wed, 04/11/2009 - 3:37pm

Halloween was a blast. The aformentioned homebrew went down a storm: I think we finished about 25 pints. Apart from hangovers, everyone survived!

My good friend Rob was kind enough to knock up a label for the brew. Thanks to Rob, Dan for the photo and Helen for putting on the party!

ZFS de-duplication log - Wed, 04/11/2009 - 2:02pm

Sun's Zetabyte File System (ZFS) has grown de-duplication support.

De-duplication is where each block of storage is hashed and stored only once: if two (or more) files contain blocks which are identical, the common block will be saved only once, saving you disk space.


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