Christmas Imported From Epistula Personal Those who evolve

Day Off and IRC Evil

One of the channels on which I am an op is having a bad week. Nice little Script Kiddies with massively parallel spam-bots are attacking the small network it lives on, and the ops are spending their time playing whack-a-mole, as are the server ops.

Anyway, if you find the channel is restricted, /msg an op or /join #afp-invite and someone will let you in. Sorry, it’s just until we can attack flamethrowers to the defences.

In the time I’ve been writing this, someone has come into #afp-invite and left again because I didn’t respond in five seconds. This is not an automatic service

In other news, I’ve done the first bit of Christmas Shopping. I’ve bought the gift for the office Secret Santa thing. I hate these things. Fortunately, it’s anonymous. Unfortunately, I’ve resisted the urge to attempt to be funny. Ah well, maybe next year…

Oh, yeah. Office Party season. Thursday is our office Christmas party. This would appear to be exactly as Entertaining and Enlightening as it suggests, though since we’re at Jongleurs for it, the whole “eating cheese on cocktail sticks by the photocopier” aspect will be reduced.

OTOH, we have been mandated to wear “Outrageous Hats” which is kinda the ‘enforced joviality’ that I desperately try to avoid the rest of the year.

So today I also looked at silly hats. Sadly none were sufficiently outrageous.

I was crushed.

I did return today with not only the office gift, but a set of panniers and other misc. bicycle things, various and sundry items, and nothing I hadn’t planned to buy, which was very good of me.

Then I walked into the second hand bookshop, and had to get a taxi home.

Ah well.

Computer Games Imported From Epistula Personal


Another week, another five days of 05:00 starts and 20:00 returns.

Half-life 2 rocks. I mean this. I’ve just got out of (…we don’t go to…) Ravensholm, and the sawblades? Way cool. The physics engine rocks my world. (Also the worlds of the things I throw washing machines at). I just wish I had more time to play…

…and then again, maybe I do. I have the day off on Tuesday, so hey, you might get some actual updates.

Or I might spend the day playing HL2 again. It’s all possible.

Forewarning: There will be a Gathering this Saturday in Cambridge. Anyone who reads this is invited and encouraged to attend. It’ll be fun.

More details when I decide them.

computing Imported From Epistula


So, it appears that the partition with /home on it is fine, but the partition with /data on it has crashed, trashed and burnt. Won’t even mount. /data, as it happens, contains /data/music, /data/web and /data/aquarion/projectsVault.

So that’s a large pile of MP3s that have ceased to be, my backup of Aquarionics and all my archived projects, unless there’s some magic way of rescuing data from a JFS partition without actually reading it that I have yet to discover.

Suddenly, I have an overpowering urge to blow my next paypacket on a DVD writer and a raid system, and forget christmas. Most of the MP3s are also owned by other people, so I will be able to get most of it back, but the projects vault is something of a body-blow.


Computer Games Imported From Epistula internet


Yeah, you wait a week for an entry and then two come along at once

I also bought Half-Life 2, because there never existed a universe where I didn’t.

The game is amazing, captivating, well constructed, well plotted and has a gun with which you can throw washing machines at your enemies.

This is Good. It means I need more memory, but hey.

Steam is less good. Steam is Valve’s media distribution technology thingy. It’s blisteringly fast, easy to use, and doesn’t get in the way.

Except, of course, when it does. You see, the technology I can live with, it’s a good example of what can be done. It’s the politics I object to. Because I object to being made to feel like a criminal, and since in order to play the game (which I bought for 32.99 in Game) I have to prove I bought the game every single time I play it by contacting the Valve Authentication servers. And what happens when the servers aren’t working? Or my net connection isn’t working? I’m SOL. Okay, Steam has an ‘offline’ mode, apparently. But without a net connection… I can’t play the game, because I don’t own my copy of the game, I’ve merely got a license for it with Valve, which they can revoke at any time they see fit with no compensation.

Oh, and I still need the CD in the drive to play it. As well as the Internet connection.

Of course, within 24 hours of Half-Life 2’s release, a version with no CD requirements and that didn’t ever talk to Valve was up on bittorrent, ed2k and Kazaa. The only reason for people who don’t care about the legalities to buy the game is because at 5 CDs it’s probably quicker to walk to your local games shop and buy it.

On the other hand, the download version doesn’t take 20 minutes “Unlocking” the files it spent the previous 20 minutes installing.

Imported From Epistula Movies

Incredible Movies

Yesterday, I went to see The Incredibles at the cinema. It is, as the name suggests, good. It is a Pixar film, and therefore would be.

Pixar’s next film, Cars, for which the sneak preview trailer was released quietly last fortnight also looks good, and will be Pixar’s last film for Disney, the once Gigantic Film-Making Empire which is now a Gigantic Empire which funds the occasional movie. Disney are founding their own 3D Feature workshop, and there are rumours that their first feature might be Toy Story 3, which Pixar refused to do. I really hope Pixar retained the rights to Incredibles sequels, because they could be fun in a way that – for example – a Disneyesque version would be over moralized and probably involve one of the parents vanishing. (It is a sad fact that in most Disney movies of the last 10 years children only ever get one parent, the other – usually the mother – is killed off either in the first moments of the film or before the story begins. I know several parents who refuse to let their children watch Disney movies due to this).

Incredibles is darker than previous films, but then again Bounder – the short that precedes it in classic Pixar style – is bright, sunshiny and saccharine. Also fantastic, but you knew that.

Imported From Epistula Personal Those who evolve

Ask Me About

One day, many years from now, I shall be able to look back on today and say “Oh, that was the day with the eCommerce System”, and I will be able to laugh.

Today is not that day.

And the best part? I’d love to explain to you exactly what happened, but I’d be sued.

And fired.

And problably shot.

From a cannon.

On top of this, the bus from Bedford was early, so I missed it. The bus from Hitchin was early, so I missed that too. And the taxi driver overcharged me.

Tomorrow: Driving Lessons Redux.

Now: Pizza.

Humour Imported From Epistula



So, two dwarves were discussing who would win in a fight between an elf and a bucket of coal dust.

The result was a bit messy, so they called it a drow.


Between our house and the A1 are a couple of rows of monkey puzzle trees.

This is baffling.

computing Imported From Epistula linux


So, the week then.

Tuesday I got home from work at about 20:00 as usual. I discovered that atoll, my main server and home to my life, documents, music and email was thrashing at a 50.00 load average and the terminal was spewing out line upon line of “DriveSeek Failed” errors. This was not an unknown error, Atoll’s previous hard drive (Identical make and model) died in a similer way about a year and a half ago. The drive can read fine, but as soon as you try to write to it it thrashes the computer completely. I ended up buying the replacement drive (the one that has just died) and eventually (about two months ago) sent the old one off to be repaired. So I sat and swore at the drive for a while, redirected my email, powered off the computer, and wished I had more time to deal with this.

At this point, there was a doorbell. Nobody apart from the Jehovahs Witnesses and the Pizza People use our doorbell, so at 9pm this was unexpected.

It was, in fact, our neighbour. He was delivering a package that UPS had failed to.

It was the replacement hard drive.

The timing of this was so incredibly fortuitous that my immediate reaction was to install the drive and start copying the data. This was hastily kyboshed. The last thing I want to do is replace the dead drive with the same model that has died so faithfully twice before.

Wednesday I got atoll to stay together long enough to be able to edit /etc/fstab so that the broken partition (it was only one partition this time) was mounted read only, which means the server is back together until next month, when I can buy a new hard drive. Eventually, I decide to put the replacement 120 gig drive into my desktop, where it doesn’t matter so much if it dies. I resolve to do this at the weekend.


Can you guess what happens Thursday?

  1. Everything works perfectly.
  2. The main server dies
  3. The main server explodes
  1. The hard drive in my desktop dies.

    Anyone who went for the forth option can have a cookie.

    This has been a bad hardware week.

Imported From Epistula Personal

Crisis, my main server, filestore and sane point of the universe, has just informed me that it can’t read from /dev/hda – the one and only hard-drive – due to a hardware fault.

Until fridayish – when I can replace the drive – assume my email is as dead as a very dead thing.

Do not, under any circumstances, buy 100gig drives from IBM/Hitachi.

If you need to contact me use the email address nicholas dot avenell at gmail dot com, where all else is being forwarded.

driving Imported From Epistula

Evil Drivers

For the last year, I’ve commuted from Reading (and later Letchworth) to KX London by train. All was good. Well, I was spending as much on train fares as I was on rental, but mostly good.

Recently, I started commuting from Letchworth (which is on the Cambridge spur of the railway out from london) to Bedford (which is on the Bedford spur from same). Going by train was going to take four hours each way. So I go by bus.

It takes half an hour by car to go from my office to home. I know this because someone gave me a lift once, every other day I’ve spent two hours each way commuting, plus the half hour early I get to work, and the half hour late I have to leave because the buses don’t mesh with my work hours. That’s four hours excess that I spend every single day because I’m taking the bus, added to the fuckwittery that means that buses not only leave late, but frequently come (and leave) early, have totally different numbers on one sign to the other (and, of course, are going by neither route) , and yet I’m still bothered by militantly anti-car people who berate me for having the desire to destroy the countryside, kill thousands a year personally as I ride rough-shod over the battered and broken bodies of those who are killed in traffic accidents, and – incidentally – have more than two hours in my week day to actually sit down and watch TV.

But I can’t tell them that, of course, because I don’t have time. I have a bus to catch at 06:30 tomorrow morning.