hirez: (Aspirational message)
Well, would you look at that:


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Yay for DW doing IPv6!

As detailed on FB, and probably just below this if the sodding algorithms even work, which I'm fairly sure they do, just not in a way that is useful to Carbon Units (or 'Flesh Liabilities' as the Commerce AI systems have it).

But, y'know, FriendFace isn't actually for you and me, is it? In much the same way that Twitter works best for authoritarians and 'GNU' 'social' is best for people with boundary and personal hygiene issues. Also PHP. Really?

Anyway. The garage is less full, the garden is less manky, the house LAN is less slow and I still can't find the blasted set of screwdrivers I wanted. This much achievement is actually somewhat disturbing.
hirez: (Default)
You know, perhaps trying to build complicated things with inadequate documentation, the day after an evening in the pub to commemorate a friend/colleague who'd killed themselves wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had.

I also have very mixed feelings about something that's basically mr-pointless-swearing becoming popular with a section of the twatterati. One might be forgiven for forming the impression that a swathe of twitter is just looking for the next jolt of vicarious indignation so they can fondle themselves into a frenzy of hatred in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.

I understand that the traditional method used to be 'a scourge of small cords', but we live in the C21st and going up to the mall at Cribbs to drive people out of the Apple shop with a pointy stick is just going to get you arrested.

So here's the thing. SysV is pretty hateful because it got preserved in aspic at some point in the late 80s and all that has happened since is that it's got faster and cheaper. No-one has yet managed to keep a straight face while explaining why you need five (or was it seven?) different startup configurations and their associated collection of dreadful scripts that have to detach from the console. Or not detach from the console. And provide redirection for stdin, stdout and stderr. Or not do that. I'm sure I wouldn't have to try too hard to redirect stderr to pun: (and stdin to rdr:) - I am aware that those are CP/M devices - because I have a punch/reader in the shed. Which I'm sure would be a jolly jape for an April 01 RFC, but exactly no use at all to someone who'd like to get their website working now please.

Short version - Change is good, init is dreadful. The way OSX does startup/shutdown is really very good. Although XML does basically look like the OS is wearing a mullet. Ha-ha business up front, far roo much typing with special editor out the back.

Meanwhile, back with SysV, the advice in 'Practical Unix and Internet Security' for Internet-facing kit boiled down to 'Only keep packages on the system you know you need, which does not include a compiler/build chain.' And 'If the process-list is longer than a terminal session, then it's too long. Don't run things you don't need/understand.' This is coincidentally fine advice when trying to stuff as many VMs as possible into a bulging sock of a hypervisor. And those filthy BSD degenerates had Jails. And. And.

Docker networking still makes my eyes bleed. However, I chanced upon the weblog of a chap going on at some length about the state of SDN. Hoo, boy. I know little of SDN and after that read I am glad.

Oh, the bit about spotting undocumented command-line options on a slide half-way through a presentation? I didn't make that up. Modern system documentation is piss-poor, and no, a 'screen' 'cast' is really quite far from acceptable. No I am not going to do it for you and 'submit' a 'pull request'. I already have paid employment and a life to be getting on with outside of that.
hirez: (Default)
Listened to Any Questions for the first time since FM was invented, because all the cool kids were doing it.

I'm not doing anything like that again, if only because I was jumping off bridges way before it was cool.

What a bunch of bastards. It's quite pleasing that exposure to Usenet and Twitter allows a chap to quickly spot concern trolls.

It would surprise me not at all to learn that yer man Corbyn had been a regular on uk.transport.london or uk.control.
hirez: (dissent)
I think I've jabbered before about the media's unconscious response to people pointing out that it is structurally sexist, which is to portray middle class white males as essentially useless.

If I haven't, then I guess a small and uncharacteristic amount of unpacking might be required.

So. People on the tellybox are generally ciphers. It would probably make things more interesting if I was talking about crypto, but there we are. Mind, given that there's a smart-card in the PVR downstairs, all the people and things on the telly are indeed ciphers. Or ciphered. Arf!

You've things like 'driven cop', 'strong woman', 'distracted scientist', 'scruffy hacker' - details available on TVTropes, if you don't mind losing several days to that blasted site. Sometimes the people in charge of telly like to 'mash it up' in order to play with our preconceptions. Sometimes the 'driven cop' is a 'strong woman'. Or the 'scruffy hacker' is a 'strong woman'. Or oh just fuck off do you actually know any real people at all? Even I wouldn't generate characters that two-dimensional and I write SF.

One of the weird things that happens is that any middle class white men who aren't one of the main plot-hinges (hero/villain/boss/person with the DA's office on their back) are generally portrayed as completely useless.

This may well be an accurate reflection of reality. Or it could be the people in charge of the media trying to hide from the people calling out their sexism.

'Who? Us?' they appear to be saying. 'No, we're not sexist. We're useless. Look! And, I mean, if we were being sexist, which we're not, it's because we're useless and can't help ourselves its not our fault, would you be an angel and fetch a steak sarnie from the kitchen?'

You'll mostly see it in adverts, because that's where the Id of the tellypeople lives. If you keep playing with other people's superstimuli, you will fall into the Id Vortex.

The place where careful portrayal of middle-class male uselessness and super-saturation of superstimuli crash in a very Ballardian sense is, as you might guess, Top Gear.

The message seems to be 'Stand around in a hangar. Be useless. Tell jokes about foreign people. Be more useless. He's not a real hamster. You can aspire to nothing but rugger shirts, middle-management and uselessness. And even that will not get you one of these cars.'

Bugger that.

The other week, I was pointed in the direction of 'Roadkill' and by extension 'Hot Rod garage'.

You know those shit car programmes up at the nosebleed end of the channel numbers? The ones with manufactured twattery and manufactured conflict and manufactured jeopardy, where anything even remotely technical is ignored so they may concentrate on arguments about money, so really they might as well be about any fucking thing that the capitalist system has managed to claim has value. Kind of like 'Look twenty years younger' only with more Isopon and less psychological damage.

Hot Rod garage is the functional antithesis of those things and TG. They have an in-house punk band, which is a guarantee of quality.

The same people make 'Roadkill'. The thing I have taken to heart from that programme is 'You can probably fix it with hand-tools and things you already have in your shed.' also 'Mechanical systems are fundamentally knowable', '68 Chargers are still cool' and 'A hemi being given a right shoeing sounds like nothing on earth'.

All of their cars are old and/or horrible. They break all the time. Usually because they've been thrown together from parts that were lying about at the back of the shed. And yet. The underlying message is that they'll make the thing work and then thrash it 'til something else falls off. There is no uselessness.

... It's just me, isn't it?
hirez: (Trouble with my worms (ii))
"Leader Vectron!"

"Yes, lad?"

"There's a universe. I mean, you wanted to know when beings in a universe discovered the Great Dimensional Truth, and..."

"I did. I said that. Out loud, with my voice and everything. Go on, lad. What about this universe then?"

"It's a strange one. It's filled with gamma-ray bursters, so there's only one planet with life on it. Here, see?"

"The blue-green one on the western spiral arm of that galaxy?"

"That's the one. There's just one thing, though..."

"What? They must be a lonely bunch. No other beings to share their great discovery. They'll fall upon themselves if we don't make contact."

"But..."

"What is it lad? Spit it out."

"... They use it to manage files."

"They do what with what?"

"The Great Dimensional Truth. They use it. On computers. For text. They don't know what it is."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"The horrible, horrible bastards. They can sit on their blue-green planet and bloody whistle then. Fuck the lot of them. Actually, can you spin up a few more bursters? That'll learn 'em."
hirez: (Default)


I've been quietly fiddling with a set of picks and a demo lock for a few months now. I fear I must admit that I've been getting precisely nowhere.

Earlier, I was digging through the coffee tins filled with random stuff in the cupboard under the stairs, hunting for some longish nails to use as soil probes so I could build an Arduino-based pot plant monitor. As well as finding more or less the right sort of nails, I found a pair of padlocks that I probably bought on the off-chance that I'd need to secure, er, something.

For a laugh, I set about the one on the left first. Probably because the thing sprang apart with a reassuring clank when you operated the key.

I fiddled with the picks for a few seconds and, lo! It sprang open with a somewhat less reassuring clank.

I tried it again, just to be sure. The same result. On the third go, I leaned on the torsion lever a bit harder. It sprang open with a not-reassuring-at-all-now clank, the picks some few centimetres away in my other hand.

I'm rather glad I never used that one, though it looks all hefty and secure and everything.

The one on the right required actual work. Admittedly only about eight or ten seconds of ham-fistery, but still. That one came from a proper shop, too.

In short: Yikes.

Meanwhile, the potential pot plants I want to monitor may end up as chili bushes.
hirez: (dissent)
As seems to have become standard (Standard. Isn't it.) these days, a great wedge of my non-technical internet wanderings seems to concern some part of the internet telling another part of the internet what a terrible set of people it is. If people could actually construct arguments and/or not hold on to strange quasi-religious beliefs in either sky-based progenitors, sky-based printing presses or wilful misunderstandings of what may (or may not) be 'science' without resorting to meta-arguments, wilful misunderstandings of common Latin phrases, wilful misunderstandings of common English phrases or just being bloody rules lawyers, then it would only be about as awful as Usenet in some virtual October-state.

One of these things concerned a chap who habitually pottered about who-knows-where but I imagine .ca.us while wearing nailie. Apparently he was in receipt of some measure of disapprobation from a sample of teens. Now, obviously, expecting anything other than views flying quite close to those of the Fucking Illinois Nazi Party from the modern teen is a bit of a waste of time, because they are by and large horrible little fucks festering with hormones and opinions. Equally obviously I had a bit of a meander to myself about how terrible this all was because making some spotty oiks question their gender assumptions is hardly going to bring any society to its knees. (And if there were some danger of that sort of thing happening, it would be a rubbish sort of society that had been carelessly boshed up by feckin' cowboys bloody hell look at the state of that it'll all have to come out I dunno you can't get the parts these days can you)

It was about this point that I remembered I was the sort of person who didn't have to experience his outrage through the internet and I could just as easily experience some of this society-based knee trembling on my own.

Thus blue nailie and nothing exciting happened, apart from someone going 'Oh, good colour!'.

What can I say, I'm a bloke and my nail varnish matches my car. Cars, since I've been driving Justyn's spare 9000 while he's had mine in bits.

Last night I got mine back and cor bloody hell it feels so much better with a working clutch. While it was in bits it seemed a good idea to get the (seriously, it transpires) leaky heater matrix swapped too. It's only a minor shame that the dodgy looking hose-clip at the bottom of the rad that Justyn warned me about did indeed let go. A good job I didn't want to go anywhere today, and an only mildly embarrassing slick of coolant halfway up the street...

Most of the reason for not wanting to go anywhere revolves around a sequence of migraines. Because I am having fun with poking computers with a stick, I don't really want to stare into space for a couple of days at a time while my brain comes back down to operating temperature. One of these days I will learn that Bastardos, angry god of migraines, will have his tithe. However, thinking is not usually my thing when in that sort of a state.

That's a pity, because I have lashed up the sort of thing that only $current-employers would ever want out of minimal documentation, alpha code and hipster components.

A thing that the SEO people like quite a lot is to 301/302 redirect URLs and the results of searches onto other URLs because, I don't know. I really don't know. There just seems to be hand-waving and angry statements about my poor attitude when I ask. Perhaps I should leave out phrases like 'complete waste of my time'?

Anyway. I dunno how other people manage this sort of thing, but the local answer is huge and ugly config files containing huge lookup tables and ugly PHP. When I discovered that there was a project to embed a minimal Ruby interpreter as a(n) Nginx module, and that it came with a Redis gem, the answer was a gleefully malevolent hacking session. And, yeah, other in-memory key-value stores are available, as are semi-native Nginx modules to take advantage of same. However, I defy anyone to make sense of them.

Actually, I defy anyone to make sense of this.
hirez: Humppa! (Humppa!)
This (as linked by the estimable @tef on the rather less estimable Twitter) was an odd read.

Back in the old days, just before beetling off to HEU and changing my life forever, I used to write C that ran on squitty little industrial(ish) PCs the size of, oh, four Betamax tapes sellotaped together. What that alleged code mostly did was grab serial data off the wire and send it up a modem to another squitty PC somewhere else. What made it 'fun' (FAVO) was that the serial data was destined for a printer, so was sort-of structured by layout on the page (and thus fitted into the boxes on the forms), which made working out which bit meant what a bit of a laugh. To add to the excitement, the data itself had come out of the back of some random pathology lab, so the guesses as to which bit meant what had to be 100% accurate.

Anyway. Before I'd been allowed into the programming room, I'd been set to assembling the immediate predecessors of the squitty-PCs, which were, er, oh hell. 68HC11-based? Something like that. A washing-machine controller with ideas, before all of this physical computing malarkey was cool. They were named the 'Argus programmable modem', which was basically true. Imagine a BBC micro sawn in half and running an integer BASIC optimised for serial comms and wonky data-logging. Because assembling and testing (and repairing) programmable modems became boring after about a fortnight, I started work on some noddy stock-wombling code - about enough brains to warn me or Brian that with a lead-time of (mumble) and an order quantity of (blah) we'd best order a bucket of grommets by next Wednesday - which brought me to the attention of the clever buggers in the coding room. I got the impression that it was a case of 'So, think you're clever do you?'

Well, actually, yes I did. And to prove it I persuaded them to order some toys from the Grey Matter catalogue and thus double productivity.

One of the things was FTPs PC-TCP library (Big green loose-leaf binder, IIRC) because I was convinced that speaking to the bloody path computers as a notional equal was going to be much less painful than Being A Printer. (There's some notional anarchist political wossname in there, which in the context of the tosspot boss and his many ways was radical business.)

The other blokes were less convinced. This TCP/IP malarkey was clearly some untrustworthy, proprietary and fly-by-night protocol and anyway the NHS was going to standardise on OSI/X.400/X.500 so anything else would be a waste...

Probably.
hirez: (Armalite rifle)
Yesterday was mostly spent pottering about Chepstow with some unusual suspects and it all turned out utterly splendid. I wonder if the one-way-system pub crawl is a thing, and if not it should be.

Anyway.

Part of the gig was minding an assemblage of artfully constructed steampunkery in the castle. For reasons which I suspect the estimable [livejournal.com profile] autopope of this parish could fulminate over for quite some time, several of the items were handguns of varying baroqueness.

While I was standing there, everyone who picked up one or other of the pistols peered down the barrel and worked the trigger.

I have a phrase for that sort of behaviour and it is fucking idiocy.

I think it is a problem created by a particular sort of smug, (English) (middle-class) type who consider all firearms icky and therefore won't have anything to do with any aspect of them. Indeed, after the n-th time I found myself cringing and looking for something to hide behind, I was moved to explain to some small Tarquin (or Bastian or whatever pre-teens are called these days) that perhaps it would be a good idea to keep the thing pointed at the floor and finger away from the trigger until he was sure the weapon had been made safe.

This resulted in the usual set of filthy looks. The useless tossers.

I am not, in the main, the sort of person who agrees with many of the aims of the NRA (US version), but their advice to parents is spot on.

In a similar area we find the gormless sods in the office who do the same peering-and-triggering with the nerf pistols lying about. I don't actually care that the fucking things are toys don't do that it's fucking stupid and by the way don't point the fucking thing at me because you will have a sense of humour failure when I wallop you with something.

Jesus.

It's just me, isn't it? I was the one who was taught gun-safety by my parents and so I have to put up with a legion of horrible horrible bastards who'll bang on for hours about the relative merits of MP5 over G36 over Glock something-or-other and actually they haven't a fucking clue what they're talking about because they're the same bloody people peering down the business-end of something they don't know the state of and working the trigger hopefully to find out.

The very next person who tries something like that near me is going to get a right fucking talking-to.

(The cringe-and-duck thing? I can't not do it. It's ingrained behaviour and really, I'm not about to stop doing it.)
hirez: (tank)
I haven't looked too hard at the online meejah hoopla over the Megaupload business, but my instant reaction was 'Oh fuck it's Kimble again' followed by 'They really were taking the piss, weren't they?'

It would have been a simple narrative if they'd been a plucky band of ideologically-sound scruffy hacker types running Linux boxes rescued from the skips behind merchant banks in some bender-housed eco-co-lo powered by vegetarian wind and the tears of orphaned seal pups. Well, simple narrative and tedious sentence construction. Then the various b0ings and Orlowski-antagonist fellow travellers would have been moderately justified in their 'sticking it to the man' handle-cranking.

I could kinda-sorta see scope for a future in a Howard Marks -style touring of the stations of the middle-class - Hay on Wye, Edinburgh and Cheltenham festivals - talking up a book for an audience who've no clue about the mechanics of the job, but who have their own oddly romantic ideas about it. However, it's Kimble, and I think he's too much of a bell-end to get away with something like that.

A technical audience would just want to hand out a shoeing. Partly because there ought to be some sanction for being an arrogant dickhead, partly for working out how to monetise a free FTP server. I mean, it's something everyone who's run servers for a while knows: people will deliver pr0n and war3z to your door if you give them even half a chance. It's like some batshit cargo-cult method of propitiating the spirits of the Internet.

I guess that's the question I have, though - what on earth did they do in order to end up with Pablo Escobar levels of cash lying about the place? I mean, was it some demented ball-pit of $100 bills or did they have a complicated machine to glue the things together so they were big enough for arse-wiping duty?

The other thing in my head is a half-formed ramble about Big Content buying their DVDs from the same shop that the polis get their drugs. You'll note that the news reports generally contain information that 'yea-many pills have been seized with a street value of dear-lord-how-much', which always used to make a chap shake his head in wonder when he did the maths.

It will also be interesting to see if the tiresome buggers report a similar rise in revenue in yea-many quarters time. I'll not be holding my breath though.
hirez: (Armalite rifle)
This one came steaming past on the Twitter feed. (via, I think, the gripped and sorted @ParisLees)

The 'unsettling' bit is that the captions don't match the hardware.

As far as I can tell, all the firearms pictured have been made safe. I would far rather see pictures of people who know what the hell they're doing, instead of some bollix posing with a twit-pistol held sidways.

I am actually and properly going to lose my rag over the Nerf-wars at work soon. The set of things drilled into any child who grew up around firearms involve not pointing them at people ever, not leaving the damn things lying around loaded and certainly not ever peering down the barrel while working the trigger hopefully.

Geeks who're all big talk about Glocks because they've played with one on their Eggs-Box £3.60? Hopeless mob of bastards, the lot of them. Piss off and die.
hirez: (pillock)
Interesting time at the model engineering exhibition.

Anyway.

I've gone on before about not being entirely sure if I hold with SAD or not. I don't actually think SAD gives a damn about what I think and turns up anyway to give me a wallop round the back of my head. I thought it was just me being an unwilling townie that meant I tried not to think about the days getting shorter on or about June the 21st or that I was the only one for whom autumn = despair. (Really, autumn's just autumn. The 'oh shit here we go again' grim pit of horror is recently learned behaviour)

The thing is that it is genuinely bloody awful, and I'm only half-joking when I burble on about wintering somewhere warmer with more daylight. The other thing is that I thought it was just me having a proper plumb of the depths there. (I also wish I'd written this a day ago when that conversation was fresh in my head.)
hirez: (Information Hazard)
(Via ML)

I believe that Geiger counters are about to become the must-have fashion accessory for the sensible steampunk-about-town.

Why?

Radioactive watch parts.
Mind, glowing in the dark could be handy when staggering back trousered to yr B&B. (although we is all well middle-class now isn't it, so it's going to be a cottage instead.)
hirez: (Cooper-Clarke)
Via [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/7/7/750786/-Incredibly-Shrinking-Liquidity-as-Goldman-Flushed-Quant-Trading

... So let's give a profit-motivated mob root and see what happens...
hirez: (safety chicken)
While I generally agree with the aims and aspirations of the Cats Protection Mob...

... Cos accidents do 'appen, don't they, mush? I mean, looka dat vase. Musta cost a few bob, right? Be a terrible shame if anyfink 'appened to it, etc...

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, right.

So there are posters throughout all[1] the railway stations I've visited with An Cat staring out at you...

Viz: )

As any fule no, this is entirely incorrect and the massed ranks of cat protection agents would be well served in bucking their ideas up quick-smart in order to avoid being laughed at by tiresome people in ironic trilby hats.

To save them all sorts of trouble, I've fixed their poster for them:

As if you couldn't work it out for yourselves... )



[1] A small sample admittedly.
hirez: (Challenger)
So we're off somewhere disreputable in my car - a MKII Granada with a righteous V8 and a PA loud enough to piss off the dead - and have to stop to pick up our travelling companions, who are living in Brockhampton Park. (Which does not appear on the internet for some reason)

[name elided] wants to have a quick blap around the grounds in the car because, well, who wouldn't. I warn them that the steering's lighter than you'd expect and booting the thing might become unfortunate, but I'm busy fiddling with the soundtrack via the Ableton interface built into the glove compartment lid and don't spot the manic gleam in their eyes.

Predictably, while they make it past the stables and clock-tower, the 90 degree left-hander outside the old Dowty test-beds proves entertaining and it sounds like this: BRAAAAR! SCREEE! CRUNCH! Ominous silence!

The damage is thankfully limited to one rear quarter panel and a bruised ego, but there's going to have to be some work done on the car before we can be on our way.

(Yes I made it all up. Lord alone knows why my subconscious thinks [name elided] would be careless enough to bend my car)
hirez: (Default)
Friday night I was subjected to a particularly widescreen and technicolour dream about hacking into the control-path of a Lovecraftian Servitor. (Or some other huge shadowy thing with a voice o' doom)

It was one of those experiences when you wake up, go 'what the fuck' and then fall asleep right back into the thing where you left off.

It's still with me. I'm still reasonably jangled by the thing.

The control path itself looked like it was some protocol for tunnelling nasty things over an arbitrary air-gap. A rectangular tube of blue smoke (a lot like the forcefields in Lynch's Dune) extended itself out across the countryside to the low frequency tune of an art-deco dynamo hall. Once that connection was established, three-dimensional blue neon runes begin streaming back and forth with a noise akin to the reanimated corpse of Nikolai Tesla fronting a Pan-Sonic gig.

I mean, I don't mind dreaming demonic comms protocols (much). It's just slightly disturbing when they're that comprehensive.

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