Stephen Harris' Journal|
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|Thursday, January 1st, 2037|
This entry is locked to try and stop some random bot-generated spam posting to the top entry in an LJ. Dunno if this will work! Look at the next entry for real details :-)
|Wednesday, December 31st, 2036|
This is a "date out of order" post sent far far far into the future. If I'm still using LJ in 2036 then I guess I'll have to edit it!
This journal is now mostly locked. The occasional post is open, and historical ones are (I can't be bothered to go back to edit their settings).
WARNING: This is Livejournal. My postings here may be geeking, they may be sex related, they may be crap about my (lack of) exercise results, or they may be emo whining about my life and how I feel about myself.
With that warning in mind, if you know me and want to read my journal then leave a comment. If I recognise you and like you, then I'll add you to the misnamed "friends" list.
EDIT: The year is now 2014... and I figure I can relax security back to "public"... let's see...
|Wednesday, April 15th, 2015|
All this fuss about Clinton and Rubio and I thought the US election was _this_ year... but it's not! It's still 19 months away! AAAGHHH!
|Sunday, April 5th, 2015|
|Back on the (walking) horse
It's been a really crappy winter (weather wise), so I've not been able to go out and walk. Which means exercise has been purely indoors... and I had little motivation to go down into the Coldcoldcold basement to use the elliptical machine.
More recently I've started using Wii Fit again, and then Tori bought Wii Fit Plus which has a couple of new games that I've been playing (eg the cycling one).
But today the weather was OK (50F, slightly breezy) so I thought I'd go for a walk. Rather than the longer ones I've done in the past I thought I'd start easy and plotted one that's around 2 miles long. Not a lot, but a start.
So the stats were 1.9 miles, 27m5s, av speed 4.2mph. I had built up a small sweat (but that could have been sun+coat+jumper); not out of breath. 15 minutes after finishing I'm feeling a very very minor ache in my legs. I guess I could have done a 3 mile walk without issues.
|Sunday, March 29th, 2015|
So, as you should know, I'm into bondage.
Last year I had a pair of Chinos that wore through in the crotch (fatso me; legs rub; material wears).
So I thought I'd make a hobble skirt out of it. Now, from a sewing perspective, the results are pretty bad. However, from a bondage perspective it worked pretty well. Ankle length skirt that is so strict that I literally can not put one foot in front of the other; the freedom of movement is that small.
So the drunken plan...
I wondered how long it would take to walk a block. So I put on jeans and shoes and coat (literally that's it; no underpants, socks, shirt) and walked a square block; one block east, south, west, north. 4m27s.
Then I replaced the jeans with the hobble skirt.
It took 1 minute just to walk down my front stops and cross the road. At that point I gave up. There was no way I was going to walk the square block.
|Tuesday, March 24th, 2015|
|How does the web still work?
I hit a web page which, naturally, refused to work properly. So I looked at the NoScript report. This one page ws pulling in scripts from (hand-typed so maybe tpyos)
|Thursday, February 5th, 2015|
|Why I don't like travelling
Work wanted me to go to Columbus, Ohio, for an "offsite".
That's bad enough...
I had an outgoing flight Mon 2nd 16:50, arr 18:45.
Sunday morning I woke up to find my travel app was telling me that all flights on Monday between EWR and CMH had been cancelled. We were expecting megastorm.
So I reschudule the outgoing flight for 9am Tuesday. Adjust hotel rooms.
Early Monday morning boss tells me there was a 5:20pm from LGA on Monday, so I manage to get a seat on that and adjust the hotel back, then traipse out (in the snow and ice) to get to LGA. (Corporate travel agency smart; kept my Tuesday flight just in case). At 7:30pm we are finally told the flight is cancelled. So I traipse back home, call the agency and tell them to get money refunded.
Tuesday... 9am flight delayed for 2.5hrs because crew member was sick and no replacement available; needed to wait for arrival from Columbus. Eventually we board... and then are held up for 10 minutes 'cos the gateway thing hydraulics had broken and it couldn't be moved away from the plane.
Eventually get to Ohio. (Yay?).
The hotel said I didn't have a room; 'cos I didn't show on Monday night they cancelled the whole booking.
Today return flight was at 5:39... at the gate we were told they'd overbooked by 1 seat and until one person was willing to be bounced (and given $250 for the pleasure) none of us could board. We eventually board at 5:55. After pulling back from the gate we were _then_ told we had a 30 minute hold 'cos of no ATC slots.
Eventually I got home...
Because I left during snow and more snow fell while I was away I now have a long driveway that's about 6" deep ice.
And this is why I don't like travelling.
|Tuesday, January 13th, 2015|
So here's a question that I'm unable to solve. It's possible I'm dragging myself down a rabbit hole. Or missing the bloody obvious.
I'm building a new server. There's no SSH/telnet/etc. There's only a console. (And, if necessary, it doesn't need to run a normal getty; I can run whatever I like).
Emergency access to the server is via the console (and will be "burn after use"; ie the server gets rebuilt).
How do I ensure that only "authorised access" is allowed? Clearly we can't have a common root password, 'cos that would end up being known.
So idea #1 is generate random password on build, store password in a password vault. This has niceties; pulling the password can trigger a time rebuild event, is trackable, etc.
The question then becomes "how do we guarantee access to the vault is properly secure"; what's to stop a person bypassing the front door? Passwords stored in a vault must be decryptable (in order to be used) so _could_ be stolen. (Security through obscurity? use a commercial product where we can't know the algorithm used to encrypt?).
Idea #2 was something like OPIE or S/KEY... but then there's still a shared secret that needs to be stored somewhere (any key that can be algorithmically defined can be repeated by an attacker).
Every idea I've come up with ends up just punting the question back a level. The only way I could break the loop was to use eTrust Control Minder (aka eTrust Access Control, originally called SEOS) to even prevent root from accessing the password database and ensuring it's only accessed via the front doors.
There's got to be a better way.
But I'm not seeing it :-(
|Sunday, December 14th, 2014|
I grew up in a town in Essex (yes, I'm an "Essex Boy"). There were around 30,000 people living there. There were two "free" news papers; the Yellow Advertiser, and The Standard Recorder. Y'know the sort of paper; mostly supported by advertising and with a free classifieds ads section (for cheap stuff). There was a small amount of "local news", some editorial and some unique content. The two papers were in competition, naturally.
More recently, in an aim to be more relevant and up-to-date, they both started a "video games review" section. Things were going OK until one of the papers accused the other of plagarism in this section. It actually caused a bit of fun as each paper accused the other of bad faith.
Things came to head a few weeks back; apparently the writers of each column were in the same pub at the same time and things escalated to violence. It got so bad that the police got called to break it up.
The police report claimed it was about Video Game Journalism in Essex.
|Sunday, November 30th, 2014|
|Video digital lockers
A "thing", these days, is having a digital copy of your movie available in a "locker". When you buy the physical disk (BluRay/DVD) you might get a code with it. Enter the code into the right site and you get the rights to stream a digital copy of the movie. My guess this is an attempt by the studios to reduce people ripping their own media and then "sharing it"; if the media is easily available online then why rip it? And, of course, there's DRM online...
Of course these lockers also let you buy or rent digital copies of movies, which is (I guess) the primary revenue stream. They also allow you to insert a real DVD into your machine and buy a digital copy for $2 or $3 using their software (inserting the disk is "proof of ownership").
One common digital locker is UltraViolet
(UVVU). Many of the big studios have signed up with this, which makes it convenient. Now it seems as if UVVU is just a locker; you need another service to actually stream them. My TiVo supports Vudo
, so I signed up for a UVVU account and a Vudu account and linked them.
(This wasn't as easy as it sounds; the sites are heavily javashite and cross-site cookie dependent; didn't work with my firefox setup and failed to work with MSIE8. Eventually succeeded).
Once I had my TiVo talking to Vudu I looked at my BD collection. It seems maybe 16 of them had UVVU codes. They're awful to type and enter, but now 16 of my disks are available. Also "free bonus content" for Lego Movie (an awful lego-ninja series).
Annoyingly, many of my disks have "digital content" but the Fox disks provide that on a seperate disk in the pack and an unlock code that works with iTunes or Microsoft Media Player. It's not a streaming solution and of no use to me.
Disney are one of the studios that don't do Ultraviolet, although (apparently) they do make some content available. It seems Tron Legacy isn't one of them. However I also signed up for a Disney Movies account and cross-linked it with Vudu (many more problems with javashite, cookies, failure modes). This eventually gave me a freebie movie "Wreck-It Ralph".
So last night I watched that via Vudu. Streaming quality was pretty good.
As per Amazon Live stream, I don't think I'll use this to replace buying physical disks. But maybe I'll use it to watch stuff when I'm away from home, on my tablet. I wonder if it'll work when I'm in England...
|Tuesday, November 25th, 2014|
|I guess I'm hitting controller limits!
% hdparm -t /dev/sda /dev/sdg
Timing buffered disk reads: 708 MB in 3.00 seconds = 235.98 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 1064 MB in 3.00 seconds = 354.67 MB/sec
These are both SSDs (Crucial_CT512MX100). sda is plugged into the motherboard and reports
ata1: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
sdg is plugged into a PCI adapter and reports:
ata7: SATA link up 6.0 Gbps (SStatus 133 SControl 300)
I have these two devices in a RAID1, so the resulting speed is limited.
Spinning rust returns around 125MB/s so it's still almost twice as fast, but I guess I've now gone from rust speed limits to controller speed limits!
|Monday, November 24th, 2014|
|Let's hope I haven't broke it
Just replaced two old 500Gb disks with two 500Gb SSDs ( Crucial CT512MX100 ). Now these disks were my "internal" disks, being used for root+boot.
So disconnected disk 2; this caused "fail" and mirror break. Remove disk. Install SSD, partition, re-attach to mirror. Hmm, old disk was sdg, this shows as sdp. This left a stale /dev/sdg1 in my mirror config that I couldn't remove at all. Ah, let's reboot. OK, now it's back as sdg and mdstat looks good.
Disconnect disk 1 (sd1); again a fail and mirror break. Remove disk... oh, wait, no. I can't physically remove it! The memory chips are too tall and are blocking the path! Grr... oh well, let's leave that there, but unplugged. Install second SSD; good this shows as sda. Partition, add to mirror. OK, good!
grub-install --recheck /dev/sda
And I think that's it! With luck this will work.
Although... odd! The two disks report different geometries. I wonder if one is because it's on the internal adapter and the other is on a plugin card...
Disk /dev/sda: 512.1 GB, 512110190592 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 62260 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
Disk /dev/sdg: 512.1 GB, 512110190592 bytes
26 heads, 26 sectors/track, 1479608 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 676 * 512 = 346112 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
|Sunday, November 23rd, 2014|
|A Pleasant Surprise
My old TiVo 3 HD is beginning to play up. After 6 years it looks like the HDMI connector is failing; it seems to be a mechanical issue because if I touch the cable then I can affect the output (lose signal, or regain signal). By applying a lot of force I can temporarily fix it but a few days later it plays up again.
Since this is 6 years old and the state of the art has moved on (eg more receivers so can record more than 2 shows at once), I decided to upgrade rather than get this one fixed. I got a TiVo Roamio.
For other reasons I also signed up for a trial of Amazon Prime... which gave me access to a number of free movies on Amazon Instant, which the TiVo handles.
So, as a test, I watched Dredd. Surprisingly the audio channel caused the "HD Audio" light on my receiver to light up (something I've only seen before on BluRay disks). The video quality didn't start off too well; the opening "Lionsgate" animation was very pixelated. However afterwards I didn't really notice any pixelation (FWIW, a 50" Samsung TV
from 10ft away). I did note a few times where the video stream appeared to jump a few of frames. Not frequently but a few times (Verizon FIOS 75Mbit connection, definitely not bandwidth constrained at my end!) So, not perfect and not BluRay quality, but it's watchable.
I don't think Amazon Video On Demand will replace my buying of BluRay habit, but it's not bad.
However, that's not what this post was meant to be about!
After watching Dredd I then finally got around to watching the new Robocop BD that's been on my shelf for a few months.
So two movies that are remakes of older ones (Robocop 1987, Judge Dredd 1995).
Dredd... when the trailers for this came out I was not impressed. I had no desire to watch it. I'd read some of the 2000AD comics when younger, and the story line didn't grab me (mostly 'cos I don't like comic form of story telling), and the Stallone movie was just crap. But, hey, free. And I was actually impressed. I think there's a few parts where Karl Urban is struggling not to laugh his lines out, and the plot line didn't require a lot of brain power to follow, but it's definitely an improvement over the '95 version. And the SFX was really well done.
Robocop, on the other hand... I was a fan of the '87 movie. It's a great piece of satire ("6000 SUX" as the car model?) and I was worried that the new version might have played it too straight. But the trailers did intrigue me. I never got to see it in the theater and so got the BluRay. This version _is_ played straighter... but it still contains a lot of satire. Especially in the Novak segments (which had me laughing out loud). This version of the story plays close to the original in a number of major respects, but it focuses more on the struggle between man and machine. There's no real surprises because it sticks closely to the original (sometimes I found myself thinking "c'mon, break the programming already!") but it is well done.
Now the recent trend has been to create piss-take "comedy" versions of old movies or TV series. "Trampling over my childhood", as Tori says. But in this case we have two movies that treated the subject matter "properly". In one case (Dredd) it clearly surpases the older version (IMHO) and in the other it's just as good, and a worthy bringing up to date.
And I'm pleasantly surprised by this :-)
|Tuesday, November 18th, 2014|
I wanted to add an M-card to my account for my new TiVo that's arriving this week. The web site was giving an error... so I used "live support"
Thank you for your patience, An eSales chat expert will be with you shortly.
Agent Alannah has joined. (09:20:54)
Alannah : Chat ID for this session is #####. (09:20:54)
Alannah(09:20:54): Hello. Thank you for choosing Verizon and visiting our Verizon chat service. May we view your account information, including the services you subscribe to, to assist you during this chat with respect to available Verizon products and services? You may deny us permission, which will have no effect on your current services. Under federal law, it is your right and our duty to protect your account information. May I have permission to review your account?
Alannah(09:21:42): Hello! Thank you for the permission. How may I assist you today?
You(09:22:18): I currently have a Tivo HD with 2 S-card adapters. I will be receiving a TiVo Romio, which requires an M-Card. How can I replace my 2 S-cards with a single M-Card ?
You(09:23:08): Alternatively I would like to rent an additional M-card for the new TiVo and then will return the two S-cards in February when my old TiVo runs out of service.
Alannah(09:24:23): If I understand you are looking to get cable card, correct?
You(09:24:46): Yes, I currently have two cablecards (S-Card). I need a new M-Card for my new TiVo
Alannah(09:25:21): Thank you for the information.
Alannah(09:25:26): Please give me a few moments.
Alannah(09:27:51): Thank you for your patience. I am still working on your request and will be back with you shortly.
Alannah(09:29:42): Thank you for your time and patience.
Alannah(09:30:08): Allow me to share the details for the cable card that we offer.
Alannah(09:30:13): The Multi-Stream CableCARD provides digital access to all local, premium, national standard, and high definition channels on your CableCARD compatible devices, such as a digital-cable-ready television. The monthly charge for the CableCARD is $5.99.
Alannah(09:30:18): Please note: The CableCARD does NOT support the Interactive Media Guide, Video On Demand, or Impulse Pay-Per-View.
You(09:30:26): Right. That's what I need.
Alannah(09:32:31): Sure! Allow me to assist you with a link to login to your account so that I can assist you add cable card to your account.
Please click on the above link, enter your User ID and password, and click on the "Continue" button.
Please update me once you are on the "Upgrade and Renewal Center" page.
You(09:34:56): It's showing me my current DOuble-play stuff.
Alannah(09:35:51): Great! It shows that currently you have "FiOS TV Extreme HD + FiOS Quantum Internet Download and upload speeds up to 75/75 Mbps" for $89.99/mo.
Alannah(09:36:23): Please click on "TV Equipment & Outlet" tab on the left side of your account page and let me know once the next page is loaded.
You(09:36:54): OK it says I have 1 basic adapter and 2 cablecards. Which is correct.
Alannah(09:38:04): Let's make the selections to add 2 cable cards.
Alannah(09:38:49): Please click on "Add/Return a Box" button in red and let me know once you get the pop up.
You(09:39:02): OK, got it
Alannah(09:40:12): Now, please select "1" beside Basic Digital Adapter, "4" beside CableCARD and then click on "Continue".
You(09:40:28): Why do I need 4 cablecards? I only need 1 additional M-card
Alannah(09:41:03): I apologize, please select "3" for cable card.
You(09:41:30): OK, I select 3 and click "COntinue". It now gives me an error "1 STB is required to connect your TV to FiOS. Please reduce the number of TVs keeping at least 1 HD box"
Alannah(09:42:16): In that case, Please wait for a moment while I transfer your chat to an account specialist who may be able to assist you further.
This session is being transferred. (09:44:26)
Not bad, only took 22 minutes for the support rep to get me to the point where I already was, and then having to escalate.
The next rep...
09:45:06 We apologize for the delay.You are next in the queue. A representative will be with you shortly.
This session is transferred to Sheri. (09:45:16)
Agent Sheri has joined. (09:45:16)
Sheri : Chat ID for this session is ####. (09:45:16)
You(09:45:48): Hi Sheri
Sheri(09:46:13): Hello. Thank you for choosing Verizon and using our chat service.
You(09:47:49): So I'm trying to add a new M-card cablecard to my account but the website is giving me an error.
You(09:47:57): "1 STB is required to connect your TV to FiOS. Please reduce the number of TVs keeping at least 1 HD box"
Sheri(09:48:27): Ok. What is your name and account number, please?
You(09:49:44): Account number is ######
You(09:49:48): Name is #####
Sheri(09:50:23): Thank you. What state are you in?
Sheri(09:50:37): Thank you. One moment please.
Sheri(09:58:28): Thanks for waiting. I have the cable card added and the order will ship it out to you. You'll have it within 3-5 business days. There is a one-time shipping fee of $19.99 which will be applied to your next bill.
You(09:58:39): OK, thank you.
8 minutes of no update and then $20 for 3-5 days shipping? Huh... Oh well. Hopefully I'll receive the card!
|Monday, October 27th, 2014|
|My brain is going
I can "feel" it. My brain is going.
When I was a kid I could track multiple things at the same time. I remember when I was 13... my English teacher called me out "Stephen, you're not paying attention! What did I just say?". I repeated back the last minute of what she'd been talking about (almost word for word). She was right; I wasn't paying attention, but I didn't need to. I was chatting with my friend and thinking about a program I was writing. Listening to the teacher was a tertiary task, and I just recalled from memory what she said.
Roll forward a couple of decades; I was writing code, on a conference call and chatting with (and solving) a co-workers problem.
Roll forward 1 more decade. Just one decade. I can't hold 3 conversations in my head. I can't even hold 2. I'm finding myself at work missing things on conference calls because I've got bored and started to write more code.
I'm still VERY good at single threading.
But I don't think I'm that good at doing multiple things at once any more.
(More evidence; I've paused the Dr Who DVD I'm watching, to write this; I can't follow the DVD and write new and unique content at the same time).
My brain is deteriorating. I can 'feel' it. I am not as agile as I was before.
Now this may sound like #privilege and everything else. I'm still smarter and better than a lot of people. (Yes, I _am_ tooting my own horn here; false humility isn't what this post is about. Of course most people reading this journal are _also_ smart :-) ).
I am _dumber_ than I was before. And I'm scared. I'm only 46 and I know I've lost mental capacity.
My biggest fear of growing old is that I'll lose my mind and _know_ that I'm losing it. (My second fear is that my body fails and I'm still myself but can't communicate). I think I've started down this path :-(
|Thursday, October 9th, 2014|
I hit my LJ friends feed and saw something disgusting... Oh! That's the new "feed" page; my login had expired. Let's login... go back to the friends page. Ah, that's better.
That new LJ feed is absolutely disgusting.
|Monday, September 29th, 2014|
|Ah memories... and the internet
Anyone of my age growing up in the London area knows the old Thames TV logo; an image of the London skyline and Tower Bridge rising out the river with "buh da buh da, buh da da da" tune playinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qBKACyY-pU
I remember one morning (it was either a school holiday or a Saturday morning), coming down to watch the first show on ITV. I'd switched the TV on and a minute later the opening theme played... except it went on and on. "Wow!", I thought. I didn't know this went on; I'd never heard this before! I liked it. And I was pretty sure that most of my school mates had never heard this extended version, either.
I think I only heard it once. But it stuck with me.
Today the theme tune got stuck in my head (35+ years later!) so I tracked it down:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKG0oz9WHN4&t=226
The one I heard back in my childhood was then immediately followed by the normal short-version, which actually worked very well.
Funny how odd things stick with you!
|Sunday, September 14th, 2014|
|Doing it wrong
At work we've had a 'walking challenge'. Basically it's 12 weeks where teams try to do at least 8000 steps per person per day over those 12 weeks. Doesn't sound like much (since doctor's recommend 10,000 per day) but given most people don't even do that then it's a step up ("Step Up" was the name of the challenge). On addition the company will be donating money to charity based on how well we do (currently about $1.6mm).
Basically a way of "gaming" to encourage people to get fit.
The challenge finishes today. I wanted to make 1 million steps. Yesterday I was 33k steps short. So on Saturday I did a 6 mile walk and a few other things; around 16k. Today I wanted to go to the beer store (1/2 mile away) and worked out a 6 mile walk to get there. I added all the numbers up and got to 999,500-ish. So a quick 5 minutes on the elliptical got me to my target.
Which, of course, is the wrong way of doing it. The idea of the challenge was, really, to retrain people into better practices. A "sprint" is totally wrong.
And then I drank beer afterwards, totally ruining the health benefits!
But I did learn... 6 miles at 4.2mph (av) with the last half a mile carrying approx 13lbs of booze definitely causes my lower calf muscles to get tired and I have a blister on the ball of the middle toe on my right foot.
|Thursday, September 11th, 2014|
Fuck 9/11 truthers. Just fuck em with barbed-wire dildos. Fuck em all.
I was working on Wall Street the day it happened, just half a mile away. I'd only moved to the US 2 months earlier.
I spoke to people who were at WTC as it happened. I consolled a man who ran away rather than trying to help people, and thought this was a breach of his identity as a Christian.
When the towers collapsed the amount of dust caused a total black-out; you couldn't see anything outside of the windows. Afterwards I could see a set of footprints in the dust, as if it was snow.
Eventually we were told to leave the island and I had to walk home (about 6 miles in massive hot sun). I was really impressed; on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge all the office workers had brought out their water coolers and stuff and were handing out water to us as we walked past.
I still didn't have any furniture in my apartment; a TV sitting on a stand, but no sofa or chairs; only an office chair I was using for the computer room (no tables for the computers either; they were sitting on their boxes). No mobile phone (I bought one the following weekend!) but I did have a landline that still worked.
Not my happiest of days.
Oddly, the next week I was scheduled for DSL install. I expected this to be cancelled 'cos all telco technicians would be working to fix Manhattan... but, no! They actually installed it a day early!
13 years later and it still brings tears to my eyes.
I will fucking rip the head off anyone who tries "9/11 truther" shit in my presence.
|Wednesday, July 16th, 2014|
|Age catches up with me...
No, not my age. The age of my operating systems.
I have (quick count) 7 primary OS images that I care about. Linode, Panix v-colo, SoYouStart, home server, "bastion host" VM, primary usage VM, desktop. 6 of them are CentOS, one is Ubuntu (guess which one :-)).
Of the RedHat^WCentOS machines, 3 are C5, 3 are C6.
I chose CentOS many years back because of RedHat's long term support policy. I very very quickly got annoyed with Fedora's upgrade policy (FC2; that quickly!). However these old machines... RedHat 5 goes EOL in 2 or 3 years. I can procrastinate, but eventually I guess I need to rebuild these 3 machines with C7.
The 3 C6 machines I don't really have a need to rebuild. Not for 6 years :-) Except maybe my home server; maybe there's something useful in C7. I think I'll wait.