Saturday, May 31, 2008

Java and Erlang

I just got through my first week at work. It's a great environment, lots of geeks around. My primary project is in java, and I'm taking some time to re-acclimate. I'd avoided java in the last 5-7 years or so because I thought it had gotten over-complex. I have now just jumped into the deep end :-). I'll survive, of course, and maybe even learn something. As to whether what I'll learn is going to be worth the trouble, I'm not sure. It probably will be. Although it's going to be painful for a few months.

My secondary project is to be the backup (or go-to, I'm not very clear on that yet) guy on a project that was done in erlang. I've been interested in learning erlang, so I'm certainly interested in doing the project. On the other hand, the guy who implemented it (and who has since left the company for a job in Paris) gave me an introduction to the system and it was overwhelming.

I've just jumped into the deep end twice. I'm going to be gasping for air for a while.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tom Lane pics

I've always wondered what Tom Lane looks like. He's a great presence on the postgresql mailing lists, always informative, always polite and knows incredible amounts of postgresql implementation details.

Now there are pics of Tom Lane from PGCon2

Ehem, apparently a Mac user :-). I'm not going to be swayed to switch to Mac just because Tom uses one. Well, maybe a little. But not enough to buy one :-).

Friday, May 16, 2008


I just got an offer of employment at New Zealand's largest open source oriented company. I'm looking forward to working with 80+ geeks. I'm going to be working in Java though, with some PHP. I've worked with java a lot in the past, but I'm not up-to-date on the latest developments. As it happens, I've been told that most of the code is still 1.4. That's a mixed blessing. Some things in 1.5 and later are nice, but a lot else is horrible. Still, I'm going to miss autoboxing.

I've got a week to learn some basic things. I'm going to see how much of Java, Tomcat and Spring I can learn in 9 days or so :-)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Nontechnical, but must-post

OK, there have been a whole slew of articles about recent discoveries regarding platypus genes. I didn't post about them because it was enough that I read about them (frankly, I only read one of those links, I only searched for the other links so that I could have a whole slew of links here :-).

I finally broke down and posted about the discoveries though because, after all, who can resist a headline like this?

Platypus Genes Hint at Human Scrotum Origins

Of course, Pharyngula on this whole thing is better. The original study would be even better, but I am avoiding embarrassment by ignorance, and also sleep by boredom, so I'm not reading that :-).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

GW Bush: Impeach, Prosecute, Convict, Execute

I've got "Impeach, Prosecute, Convict, Execute" in my email sig, in reference to that Abject and Miserable Failure, George W Bush.

I'm taking that part off temporarily though, since I'm sending out job applications. No need to ruffle the feathers of any strongly anti-death-sentence hiring managers out there :-).

I had also taken off URLs for this blog and my other me since someone pointed to a spamhaus post that indicated it might be used by (and related properties) as an indicator of spam. In fact, I added the impeach, prosecute, convict, execute text because I had removed the blog links and wanted something to take their place :-).

Well, when I stop emailing job applications, I'll put something back in the sig.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Finally, Debian on NSLU2

I won a linksys NSLU2 at a TradeMe auction last month.

I couldn't get it running immediately since the power supply that came with it wasn't the right one. The seller had bought it in Australia and I think he got a unit where the power supply had been switched (maybe it was a U.S. unit and the australian seller replaced the power supply since the outlet jacks are different). In any case, Phil (the seller from whom I was buying), didn't know the power supply didn't work since he never got around to turning it on.

It took a while to get in contact with him (yahoo was filtering my outgoing email to Phil, considering it spam for some reason, probably because of some text on my sig). After some back and forth we finally sorted it out and, he sent a replacement power supply, we had to have that replaced again because the jack was the wrogn size too, and we finally got the right power supply and I got it working today.

I immediately installed Debian on it. That does take a while to install since the CPU is pretty slow, so I guess unpacking, installing and generating cryptographic keys and such take a while. I'm going to de-underclock the NSLU2 one of these days. Apparently, the CPU in there is forced down to half its speed. I can remove a resistor and double the speed. On the other hand, I'll take my time since I have a history of breaking hardware :-). Best to take my time and do things right :-).

I had planned to have it boot from one of my 60GB external USB drives, but there was a problem with that. It thought the drive had bad sectors. It didn't though, I ran badblocks on it (well, actually, mkfs.ext3 -c -c) and there are no media errors. Maybe it's just the low quality drive enclosure making the drive seem marginal. I just installed debian on a flash drive and then (with some work with fdisk, mkfs, mkswap, etc) copied the flash data to the external hard drive. The Slug is now booting from the 60GB drive, after those gymnastics.

I've got a self-powered Maxtor hard drive enclosure with two full size (3.5") drives in there. I'll use that as my secondary drive for the NSLU2. I used a power meter to measure power draw by my laptop, by the NSLU2+USB laptop drive, and by the Maxtor drive, and the Maxtor drive takes so much power I don't want it to be on all day :-). The NSLU2 with one external laptop drive only draws between 7 and 11 watts. That's very nice. The Maxtor enclosure, by itself, draws 26 watts even when there's no activity. That's not so cool since my laptop draws less than that at low CPU speed, and only around 48 watts at high CPU speed with the CPU fully loaded.

I've got just a basic install on the SLUG for now (well, I installed build-essentials, although there's not much profit from building from source on a 133Mhz CPU :-). I'll build it up slowly, probably installing an openvpn server (I've got openvpn on my laptops now, and firewall rules on the router to let openvpn through) and possibly moving my postfix+dovecot+fetchmail+ypops+bogofilter+spamassassin setup to the SLUG.

My thanks to ian sison for pointing me at the NSLU2. He told me about it maybe a year ago, but my wife and I were in the midst of preparations to immigrate to New Zealand, so I didn't try to buy one then. I've had a few months at home, taking care of Timmy and after losing one or two trademe auctions on an NSLU2, I've got one now :-).

I'd love to upgrade the memory on this NSLU2 too, but I can't do it, so I'll need to see if I get to know anyone with the requisite soldering skills :-).