Finger info for

find . -iname '*.zip'|sed -e "s/\(.*\)\/\(.*\)$/ if [ ! -d \"\1\/\2py\" ]\
; then unzip \"\1\/\2\" -d \"\1\/\2py\/\" ; else echo ___ \"\1\/\2py\" \
exists ; fi /g" | /bin/bash

Getting a new car on friday (not new-new, but new to me). Woo-hoo! Should
be nice and comfortable for buzzing around and seeing folks at xmas,

I'm partway into building my new firewall/webservery box. I love the
Pentium2 / compaq sff deskpro that I'm using at the moment because
its power consumption is so low (about 35W from the mains when it is
working), so I've been looking for a low-power machine with a bit more
grunt. Finally saw something I liked, and ordered up an Aopen i915GMm-HFS
board and a 1.86GHz Pentium-M. I've got the power consumption down to 50W
idle and 60W working, most of the hard work was finding an efficient PSU.
Contrary to some opinions, using DDR2 instead of DDR does nothing for
your power consumption (in terms of watts anyway).

I've also heard people grumble about the heatsink that Aopen supplied, I
think they must have changed it, because I'm quite happy with mine. I've
set the fan threshold to 45 deg C, and the fan doesn't come on when
the cpu is idle. At full tilt, the cpu doesn't get much past 50 deg
(and being a mobile chip, it is specified for about 80 deg operation). I
think the northbridge could have done with a bigger heatsink tho.

At the moment I'm having problems getting the on-board graphics (i915)
to do dual-head. I just can't get anything to come out of the DVI, so
I'm probably going to stick a pci graphics card in for my 2nd monitor
for the time being.

In other news, I've got a dentists' drill on my workbench now, its
an excellent little toy, put a diamond burr in it, and it'll take on

Had an alcohol-fuelled deep thought this evening:

On an infinite timescale, we're all damned, as temptation will get to
us all eventually.

One of the advantages of being mortal is that we might well shuffle off
this mortal coil before temptation gets the better of us, God willing.

Was concerned about laptop running its fan almost continuously despite
cpu usage being below 1%. I took it apart tonight, and found that the
CPU cooler block was pretty much entirely clogged with dust. Back to
cool running now, and only two screws leftover!

I think I'm suffering from phytophototoxosis or something. Got some
interesting blisters and rash and stuff on my hands and arms - I
immediately suspected something to do with the strimming I was doing at
the weekend. I did a google for 'strimming rash', and found a few pages
about plants whose sap, when on the skin then exposed to UV causes these
symptoms. I remember strimming through a cow parsley plant, and that's on
the list for phytophototoxicity. Apparently I'm likely to have these red
blotches and fluidy blisters for a few days, then there may be residual
brown hyperpigmentation for months, and heightened sensitivity to UV.
Dangerous business, this strimming. The tale goes that Giant hogwort
is even worse than cow parsley for this effect.

Had a minor panic that my net card was going titsup when I saw a load of
TCP checksum errors in ethereal. Actually caused by checksum offloading
to the hardware, the packet on the wire is fine, its just that ethereal
is capturing before the checksum is calculated.

What's wrong with this picture?:

I recently bought a SunPak 383 flash, and have been mostly happy with it.

I've just bought a Vivitar ring-flash, and was sufficiently struck by
the difference in quality to be motivated to write here "SunPak is better
than Vivitar".

That'll be tuppence, please.


It occurs to me that I spend too much of my time being a gobshite.

Sleep deprivation is a way of life.

Ebaying plotter was good. Made about 300 quid on the deal.

I have a 1Watt LED. With its awesome luminous output I shall take over
the world.

Sleep deprivation.

Fixed plotter, will ebay.

Lots of work.

Want an FX5900 and an NCQ SATA HDD.

I love my thinkgeek monkey.

This .plan is brought to you by beer, chips, and the temporary absence
of girlf.

64-bit stuff seems to be a little lacking. I can't get gtk to re-compile
for x86_64 and 64-bit windows is an interesting experiment, but sadly,
not practcial.

Having just got a 160GB SATA drive, I reckon I'm going to quad-boot
32-bit Slackware, 64-bit Mandrake, 64-bit win XP beta, and win2k.

In other news, I've inherited a broken BIG plotter thing (HP designjet
650c) at work, and it looks like fixing it is trivial. It also appears
that these things are worth moe than 500 quid second hand. Which is nice.

It seems to me that nowadays, spyware, viruses and spam are all different
faces of the same problem. It is a pity that the AV companies don't see
it that way.

On another note, work sucks at the moment. I don't have anything to
get my teeth into, and I'm bored. And they're re-arranging the lab,
and throwing out lots of useful stuff.

"Summonsed" is a deplorable linuistical construction, and I am appalled
to have found it in the dictionary.

Grub is not my friend.

A lot of messing about with gentoo for amd64.
I might have a working system one day...!

compiling a new kernel (2.6.7 with all relevant options for my box)
took 6m13s

I've installed win XP 64-bit version (free beta) on a separate hard
drive for a bit of comparitive benchmarking with our p4 Prescott that
I built at work. povray's built in benchmark test render completed in
43minutes on the presott, and 23 minutes on the dual-opteron (note that
the opteron test used the 64-bit beta of povray)

relatively painless. A few hiccups here and there, but now I'm writing
this from a machine with 7962.62 BogoMIPS. Still a fair bit of setting
up to do tho.

Any suggestions for benchmarking would be appreciated.


Plans to build an upgrade pc for myself are coming to fruition. Dual
Opteron 2GHz (i.e. 246 model), with 4 sticks of PC3200 ram (because,
notably, it can access 4 sticks of ram concurrently). It should be a very
tasty monster. However, my wallet is significantly lighter now. Stuff
is on order, building should commence friday/monday.

Credits to Chunky for smp and 64-bit geekery, (Wayne
Truter) for advice on hardware configuration, and Crucial for stocking
the ECC registered high speed ram.


Oral surgery is bad.

The vi pocket reference seems good.

3com gave me freebies, which made me well happy. I complained about ebuyer
sending me gigabit network cards without proper packaging (pci cards
rattling about loose in a carboard box!), and their quality manager said
he would follow it up, and that he wanted to send me a "thank you" for
reporting it to them, and sending pictures and serial numbers and stuff.
A few days later, and 802.11 a/b/g pcmcia card turned up, and an ADSL
firewall/router/ethernet switch/802.11 g access point thingy.

I've done a bit more work on my Wake on Lan packet generator, trying
to make it a bit more general, user friendly, and work with the latest
verison of libnet. I'd forgotten how much harder it is writing in C than
scripty languages like php.

The girlfriend is practicing some kind of bizarre psychological warefare
upon me.


chip & pin

I think it's a bad thing. It seems to me to be making the system less
secure not more. Maybe it's more secure from the credit card companies'
point of view, but I don't think it is from the consumer point of view.

Here's a hypothetical: I get a credit card statement with an item I
don't recognise on it. I phone up the credit card company, and speak to a
weenie who informs me "its on the computer, you must have bought it." I've
already had this kinda situation with a mobile phone bill. "They system
is digital, so its secure" (I had to try so hard to stop myself laughing
when he said that to me).

Now, at the moment, I can say "I'm not paying for it, unless you show
me the little slip of paper that I supposedly signed". But with chip
and pin, where's the evidence? Where's the burden of proof?

So, anyway, these four digits are my security. We're advised not to use
"predictable" number sequences like 1234 and 1111 for our PINs, so we've
got a little under 10,000 possible numbers. That's about 13 bits of
security. Expressed like that, its not feeling all that secure any more.

Nightmare scenario:

I'm in a shop, buying something with credit card using chip + pin. I
tap in my number. This is observed by someone (say the next person
in the queue, the person behind the counter, someone looking at the
shop's CCTV, or even the guy who runs the shop has tampered with the
point-of-sale terminal (don.t mock, I can think of a couple of ways of
doing it.). Whatever, there's plenty of opportunities). A little bit later
I get my wallet stolen. Say I get pick-pocketed, say I notice within 10
minutes. Say it takes me an hour to get home, and five minutes to dig out
my credit card paperwork, and phone up and cancel my card. The thief has
had an hour and 15 minutes to make merry with my card. One of my cards
has a limit of 3500ukp, I'm going to be pretty unimpressed if someone's
gone out and bought themselves a new AV system at my expense. And what
do I do when the credit card company says "Sorry, the sale went through
before you reported your card stolen. The card was present, and the PIN
was used. Its your problem not ours."?

Compare PIN numbers from debit/atm cards, the important difference is
that most atm cards have a limit of a few hundred pounds per day.

Now, to balance things up a bit, I actually think that credit cards with
chips in, and using your PIN at the point of sale is a good idea. But
I don't think its a good alternative to a signature, it should be an
addition to it.

If they've got the technology right (i.e. a private key stored securely
in the chip) then the computing can prove beyond *my* doubt that the card
was present in the point of sale terminal. This effectively eliminates
the possibility of a credit card being cloned, and I think that this
is a really good thing. However, the system still needs to prove that
the cardholder was present at the time of the sale, and I don't think
that knowledge of a four-digit number is sufficient security for this.
I'm fairly convinced that my signature is better at fulfilling this task.

The next step for this technology is to make a cost-effective addition for
home PCs, so that when I go shopping on the web, I plug my credit card
into a usb dongle (or whatever), and the cryptography does its thing,
so that web-sales have an extra layer of protection.

An aside: I'm now shuddering at the thought of people tapping in their PIN
on a pc which is compromised with a backdoor program. Perhaps it would
be better to have a numeric keypad in the dongle... but that drives up
the cost and makes it less user-friendly.

I'd like to see this advance in web shopping a lot more than I want to
stop signing at the till.

79 antivirus updates in the month on March.

Something tells me that the antivirus model we're using is falling apart
at the seams.


Currently getting mashed on vodka, so please excuse any spelling

Made a RAID-1 system with an adaptec ASH-1205SA card and two seagate
drives with kernel 2.4.24

I tested the performance with "hdparm -t /dev/md1" and was surprised to
get a figure of 15MB/s. That is bog.

Anyway.. more vodka!

Small 404 pages.
IE should be put down like a rabid dog.


I found GMT.exe running on my laptop.
I have no idea when that got there, or how.
"Trustworthy computing"? Hah.

So, umm, I plan to have a look at this suspend to disk stuff that seems to
have made it into the kernel, and consider going linux-only on the laptop.

Which would have the fringe benefit of freeing up a bunch of disk space,
so as I wouldn't have to go out and pay 180 squids for a big-little
hard drive.

I love it when a plan comes together.


This season I have mostly been delighting in:

du -sh `ls -1d */`


Serial ATA, silicon image chipset on adaptec card. Aaaaargh!

See below for more stuff about the kit. I babbled something earlier.

I'm using kernel 2.4.22. When I insmod the driver, it sets up ide2 and
ide3, and tells me that hde, hdf, hdg and hdh are all set in the BIOS
to pio mode.

I've got a sata drive attached to port0, so a number of problems: this
card support s two drives, not four. The attached drive should be in a
DMA mode. None of the devices hdX exist.

Further, this card with 2.4.22 doesn't like hot swap. The drive has the
connectors keyed approporiately to control the order of (dis)connection
of signals/voltages, but if I unplug the drive, the machine locks.

I guess that's a hardware problem, not a kernel issue, as I'd get a
panic instead of a lock-up if the kernel wasn't happy (wouldn't I?)


First trip into London with the laptop. First try looking around for
unsecured access points. First time out out of the bag, and I'm within
range of three totally unsecured access points!

I've read up a bit about serial ata, with a view to replacing an ageing
scsi raid array with sata drives.

The hot-plug details in sata look pretty good, but I'm still a bit worried
about what the controller is going to do in the event of a disk failure.

Cheapo controllers are allover the place, but the bona-fide sata-raid
controllers seem to cost about 200ukp upwards. So I'm going to have
a go with an Adaptec 1205SA (2 SATA ports, PCI 32bit, 66MHz). Adaptec
support Red-Hat on this device, so I'm cautiously confident that it'll
work nicely in my slackware box.

The controller IC on the 1205SA is a Silicon Image SATALink
Sil3112ACT144. The other IC on the card is an AMD 1Mi-bit flash memory
(or 1 Mibibit, if you prefer - i.e. 128kibibytes ;)

Addendum (later same day):
In the kernel config (I've looked at 2.4.23 and 2.4.22) for IDE, ATA,
ATAPI Block devices, there's an option for "Silicon Image chipset
support". That's the bunny. I've compiled as a module for 2.4.22, and all
seems well. I don't have a SATA hard drive to give it a go with just yet!

Quote of the day:

"There's nothing worse than distreputable penis enhancement outfits
besmirching the good name of the penis enhancement business by bombarding
already-satisfied males with unwanted offers of donkeydom."

Credit to Lester Haines at The Register.



I've been doing a bit of fiddling with apache+mod_ssl, which seems to
be mostly good stuff. I'm probably going to be doing self-signed stuff
for home, and possibly for work. I did an e-banking spoof thingy with
ssl and redirection a while back, but I'd mostly forgotten stuff.

And I think I'm developing insomnia.

I've made a composite sync -> sync on green adaptor for my huge HP
monitors. I can verify that it does good stuff up to at least 1280x1024
16bpp. It involves the use of one transistor, two resistors, once
capacitor, and a few connectors.

This is a good thing, because it means I can go out and buy two generic
pci graphics cards, use them with my fixed-frequency sync-on-green
monitors for the time being, and use 'em with TFTs if I ever get round
to chucking these goldfish bowls away.

The gfx cards I'm using at the mo. are Mirage Z128Pro cards based on
the Tseng Labs ET6100 chipset. They're getting a bit old, they've got
2.25MB ram, and I think their top dot-clock is 120MHz.

Hmm... this means I'm going to have to remember how to calculate modelines
(*properly* not like in all the crappy how-tos. You've got to get it
spot on with a fixed frequency monitor).

</hardware geekery>


f2s have replied to me about my domain name. Apparently my "free
included domain name" with my broadband account isn't quite what I'd
expected. doesn't resolve to anything, and all I'm
acually getting is that will take you to my webspace
on their webserver. If I want to have a domain name that points to my
firewall, I have to pay for one. Grrr.

New toys. 3com dual mode 802.11b and g access point (which does WPA
encryption at 256 bits, which I am reassured is better than WEP, and
a stepping stone to 802.11i ... the forthcoming security standard),
and a 3com pcmcia card to match.

I've also bought a zoom lens off the front of a 35mm camera, 2nd hand,
which I intend to attach to a webcam. Muhaha.


I just wrote an email to some folks about their website.
I thought I'd regurgitate it here.

Thanks for your reply, but I don't feel that I've got my point across.

The computer I am using to view your website uses the Linux operating
system. Microsoft's Internet explorer is not made available for linux
users, hence I use Mozilla as a web browser.

Mozilla has very good standards compliance, in particular, the Gecko
rendering engine claims compliance with DOM, XML, RDF, CSS-1, and HTML
4.0. (See for more
details on Gecko vs. Internet Explorer standards compliance).

According to an article I read at: Internet Explorer
versions 5 and 6 together account for around 87% of browser use (28th
August 2003).

I've interpreted that to mean that a website that *requires* Internet
Explorer immediately alienates more than one in ten potential customers.

Although I am not a professional web designer, I know from experience
that a website can be designed to work well with Mozilla, Netscape,
Opera, Internet Explorer and other popular browsers. The designer has
to take a little extra care to acheive this, particularly in the use of
javascript, but the task is not onerous.

I believe that a website which confesses to only work with Internet
Explorer is faulty. The problem lies with the website design, not with
the client software.

So, to summarise these points in the context of trying to use the
(company name) website:
-I am not able to install Internet Explorer on my operating system.
-I cannot view your website properly.
-I believe that the fault for this problem lies in your website design.
-You are unlikely to get any business from me under these conditions,
since I am unable to view details of what I would be buying.
-My opinion of (company name) is deteriorated by this experience.

I hope that my comments are constructive.


Watching Fight Club on bbcThree. (Digital terrestial is fabulous. Far
better than I thought it would be... except when a car with a dodgy
suppressor goes by).

Films like that make me philosophical, and I started thinking about
corporations vs government...

My company feeds me. My company pays my bills. My company is my reason
to haul my ass out of bed 5 days a week. It is my purpose, my loyalty,
where I belong, where I am valued, and where I value people. It is
significant social contact. It keeps my brain excercised.

The government takes money from me as tax. They squander it in London on
public servants who believe they are above the people whom they should be
serving. They don't know how to write laws properly, nor how to enforce
the laws that we've got.

Having said that, this government is what we've arrived at, and has kept
us going in relative safety for a number of centuries. I can't think of
a better system of government.

And my company has some big problems, foremost in my mind is the way some
of the managers are, shall we say slightly weak in terms of technical
knowledge. When they're in a situation when they need that knowledge,
they don't go out and get help from the technically aware people in the
company, they get sold a pup by external contractors. Great.

What worries me most about living in a democracy though, is my perception
of public stupidity, and the ease with which the media steers public


Scan computers are great... if you like your goods to be bashed,
handled by monkeys, scratched, and have stickers stuck over important
breather holes.

Newest chapter to the saga consists of a dead SODIMM, and a cdrom
drive that had been dropped convincingly. The cd drive wasn't worth the
carriage, so I took it apart, found that part of the mounting for the
optical assembly was smashed, and did a bodge super-glue repair. Seems
to work ok now.

F'n monkeys. I'm seriously considering not buying from them again,
Aria and Novatech are pretty good most of the time...


On the price of music.

It costs too damn much. Looking at the subset of my cd collection that's
stood in a pile next to my stereo, according to today's prices on new
albumns, its worth about a grand. My Arse.

But what I find even worse is that when the record companies consider
moving music sales to the web, eliminating the physical product that you
can hold in your hand, and also eliminating the cost of the producing the
CD and packaging, the cost of physical distribution, and the shopkeepers'
share, they expect about a quid per track for the download. I reckon
my albumns probably average about 15 tracks each. An albumn isn't worth
that much!

Actually, I think I need to qualify that statement. I'm all for
supporting struggling artists/bands that have a good sound, but aren't
well known. However, I've got problems with contributing to the income
of people that are earning more than 100 times my wage, no matter how
good they are in their chosen profession.

So, that's it for me, I'm staging my own little mini-protest. I'm not
buying music at those prices. The only possible justification of music
costing that much is that in general, that's the price people are prepared
to pay for it.

And a final thought: As long as I can play music on a pair of
headphones/speakers, I can copy it. I can do in analogue, or pipe it into
a PC, and take an mp3 of it. The music industry will *never* stop me being
able to do that. With SSL, I can share my music with whomever I wish,
with relative impunity. I'm not going to be one to let all-and-sundry
have full access to my music collection, but why not let my friends have
a log-in to get stuff?

I'd be less likely to give people copies of my music, and less likely
to take copies of other people's music if it cost a moderate amount in
the first place.


My head hurts. I got about 2 hours sleep last night. I tried unsuccesfully
to sleep until about 3:30am, then gave it up as a bad job. Got up,
had some grub, watched real-life police drama on tv (those shows are
great... "Hi, I'm sheriff John Burnell. When crooks run from the law,
the mighty fist of the police department needs to teach them a lesson"),
then I played bomberman on N64 till about 5am. If only I didn't have a
job to go to, it would be the life of Riley.

Anyhoo, linux RAID stuff, particularly root-raid. I've had a RAID5 system
of 4 ATA100 disks (each being the Master of its own channel) for my raid
filesystem for a while. The increase in speed, particularly on boot is
percepptible, however... One of my drives went a bit iffy - the bios
doesn't detect it on a cold boot. So, as linux booted, I thought it'd be
agood time to see how the raid system copes with a device failure. In
short, it doesn't. The kernel panics because it can't mount its root
filesystem. Presumably the boot-time raid stuff can't cope with a raid5
system with a broken disk. Which is a bit useless.

Ho hum. I've been planning to re-arrange disks for a bit, but this is
givng me the push I needed. I reckon I'm going to use 2 disks, and put
the system on a striped partition, and the user stuff onto a mirrored
partition. I think it'd also pay to make a little script to copy selected
config files etc somewhere into the mirror.

2 things up and coming, I'm going to be fiddling with a usb printer,
and seeing what I can do with GPIB under linux. (In case you don't know,
GPIB is pretty much *the* standard bus for controlling electronic lab


Umm, new stuff. 3com home connect lite webcam, which I can get for 7quid +
vat is friendly to linux and Teletubby windows (which I sadly have on my
laptop). eTEC pci adsl card installed under linux. Seems to be doing good
stuff, but I can't fully test it, as my exchange hasn't been upgraded yet.

Wlan stuff... MAC address specific filtering seems broken under 2.4.20.
Upgraded to 2.4.21, and MAC filtering works. Still looking into VPN.

My server at work has been up for 33 days now, the elusive random crashing
seems to have abated. Very odd. I'm suspicious of messages about spurious
interrupts from my scsi card.

I'm being a bit subversive at work, we have a database that does
*everything*, and its on an unstable overworked NT4 box, and the database
client is one of the worst pieces of software I've ever used. The db
has been set up to only allow named pipe connections, hence I can't
think of a way to get linux to talk to it direct. Anyhow, I've taken a
snapshot of the bits that matter to me, stuck it into a mySQL db on my
linux server, and made a little search form that has all its emphasis
on versatility, and none on user-friendliness or looking pretty. I had
a chat with the logistics manager (under whose umbrella the company db
falls) and told him about it, and asked him if that kind of thing would be
useful anywhere else around the company. He looked concerned, confused,
and as though I was standing on his toes. I made a tactical withdrawal,
and have been quietly showing a few selected people (people with brains,
political awareness, and a need to be able to search the db better)
what I've done, and how to use it. Viva la resistance.



I just re-read my previous update. Laptop is now running a kernel without
APIC support. I'm running 2.4.21, and I've got my network, sound, usb2
all mostly working (and pcmcia, so long as I only use one card). Haven't
had time to do much more fiddling, so many little projects on the go.

Having now fiddled with wireless LAN stuff a bit, I'm going to
ramble... Windows networking protocols aren't really suitable for use on
wireless networks. If we're going do be doing lots of wireless stuff,
particularly if approaching the edge of the range of the devices, we're
going to need better protocols. SMB/CIFS stuff should be resilient
by virtue of the fact that it uses tcp/ip (and udp to some extent) -
tcp should cope with the packet loss, and make everything ok. Sadly it
doesn't work out that way. When I was doing a site survey, running a "ping
forever at one second intervals", and streaming an mp3 across windows
networking, I exceeded the range of the link, then went back into range,
the ping resumed, but windows filesharing then refused to accept that
the other computer was present on the network. Which is great. Terribly
practical. You don't even have to wander out of range, maybe it'd happen
because you picked up your laptop with your hand covering the antenna,
or someone stood in your line-of-sight to the access point/whatever.

I'm going to be a bit bold now, and say that I reckon the default values
used in TCP for timeouts and stuff probably aren't terribly ideal for a
wireless network either. But the problem is that tcp isn't going to know
whether the packet was headed for a computer attached directly to the
other end of the wireless link, or whether it is going a long way over
congested networks after the wireless hop (hence, should the timeouts
be long or short?).

On the security thing, the feeling I get is that WEP is fundamentally
broken, and beefing it up to a 256 bit key, and changing your key
frequently aren't really terribly useful fixes. Still, using WEP is
better than not using any security at all. When you're leaving your
front door unlocked, building a little fence around your garden is going
to stop people casually walking over your lawn, but it'll do nothing
against someone who has come along with the intention of burgling you. (I
love analogies).

For my wlan at home, I'm looking at using VPN over the wireless link. I
googled for "linux windows vpn", and the first thing I stumbled across
was PPTP, and shortly afterwards, Counterpane's stuff on PPTP. Interesting
(Excerpts reproduced without permission. Bad me.)
How bad is it?
Very. Microsoft PPTP is very broken, and there's no real way to fix it
without taking the whole thing down and starting over. This isn't just one
problem, but six different problems, any one of which breaks the protocol.

Doesn't Microsoft know better?
You'd think they would. The mistakes they made are not subtle; they're
"kindergarten cryptographer" mistakes.

So, it seems IPSec is the way to go. I need to read a bit more about that,
but from what I've read, there are a few concerns, but IPSec is considered
the best we've got. Running VPN on the wlan seems to be the thing to
do, as essentially what I've got is two private networks with a public
network in the middle. Even with WEP and firewall rules tying wlan access
to particular IPs and MAC addresses, folks can still hop on my network.

The thing that really puzzles me is that the whole world seems to be
in love with WiFi regardless of these security pitfalls. WiFi is the
stuff that dreams are made of (either nightmares, or slightly more joyful
dream experiences, depending on your perspective), free internet access,
untraceable hacking, and untraceable virus injection. I would say "Caveant
Stulti", but for one, I'm not sure that I remember how to forumlate stuff
in latin any more, and secondly, I think my mood is more one of being
wary of the stupid folks, than telling stupid folks that they ought to
beware. Perhaps "Caveamus Stultorum" then... I've intended to get the
1st person plural of the present subjunctive of cavere and the genitive
plural of stultus to give "Let us beware of the stupid".

I kind of wanted to add "Let us beware of being stupid" too as a footnote,
but I can't work it out, even with the power of the internet at my
fingertips. "Caveamus entis" seems to be the way to form "Let us be
wary of being", but I'm unsure whether the correct construction would
then be of the form "Caveamus entis stulte/stulti" (let us be wary of
(stupidly being)/(being stupid people)), or "Caveamus stultentis" if
there is such a verb stultere. Further, I think latin probably requires
more strict control of the tense, since, really, we should be wary lest
we are about to be stupid, and to beware of being stupid demonstrates
the laziness of modern english.

I don't feel too bad about my latin now, my little bro, who just got a
B in GCSE latin (as I did 8 years ago) can't translate "let us beware
of being stupid" either.


Seems to be an issue running a kernel(2.4.21) with local APIC support
built in on my toshiba 2430-402. Without APIC support, I've got problems
using my devices, which I think stem from the fact that they all *appear*
to be on the same interrup without APIC support. With APIC support built
in, the kernel falls at the first hurdle (something like "Decompressing
the kernel" then "ok, booting the kernel" then complete hardware lock-up.

From a bit of a shufty at Intel's tech. docs, it appears that the APIC
communication is done a bit differently in the P4 to previously, as in
the P4, the local APIC (in the processor) communicates with the i/o APIC
(on the pci bus / part of the pci chipset? southbridge?) via the system
bus, whereas previously there was a 3-wire APIC bus.

So, I'm going to have a shufty to make sure APIC support works properly on
my P4 desktop, then it probably involves getting heavy with the kernel,
which makes me feel like a fish out of water. I'm a hardware monkey,
not a software monkey. I'm more at home with a big hammer than a text
editor. Particularly of concern seems to be that the point at which
the kernel is doing bad stuff is before it has the console stuff worked
out, so I reckon debuggy messages are going to have to be output in the
same manner as the code that does the decompression uses its own _puts_
code to tell me what's going on.

Worthy of comment, I think, is the quality and availability
of documentation from Intel, particularly this monster:


I got me a laptop now. I went for a toshiba 2430-402. Its pretty much as
the spec below, but 40GB disk, 512MB ram, and a P4 2.53GHz cpu with the
533MHz bus. And the spare battery I ordered doesn't fit it. The toshiba UK
website misled me. Buggers! Credit to Micro Anvika, though, they agreed to
take it back, and give me a refund, even though it was my problem really.


I don't think I can resist the urge to buy a laptop for much longer.

Unless I hear good representation why I shouldn't, the chances are I will
shortly part with about 1000squids in exchange for a Toshiba Satellite
2410-601 from Dixons.

It does things like this:
. Mobile Intel Pentium4M 1.9GHz Processor
. 256 mb RAM
. 30 Gb Hard Drive
. DVD/CD RW Dirve
. 15" TFT Display
. 32Mb nVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go Graphics
. 1 X Firewire Port
. Windows XP Home Edition
. 2.7 hours Battery life (up to)
. 1 Year FREE onsite Warranty

Then, I will just need to buy a ram upgrade, and prolly also a second
battery. I can't image why on earth they ship a laptop with only 256
milli-bits of memory. I wonder if that's like fuzzy-logic or something
"I'm 25.6% sure that it was a 1".



Been on holiday for a week, nice to get away, apart from mad drivers
who want to meld their car to mine, and the joy of the M25 on a really
hot friday afternoon rush hour.

Novatech have some CCD webcams pretty cheap, so I've bought a few,
and have ripped one apart for attachment to a telescope. Going to be
getting some input from a guy at work about mods for long-exposures with
ccd webcams, he seems to think its pretty easy.

I've now got 4 80GB Western Dig hard drives, so I'm going to be playing
with root-raid and stuff shortlyish. 320GB of storage in my box Woo-hoo!

Digital (freeview) TV has improved recently, I'd reccommend it now,
and I'm even thinking of buying a widescreen TV at some point to fully
apreciate its wonder (I had been an opponent of widescreen in the home,
as the majority of transmissions, dvds, videos were not widescreen. Plus,
a normal tv showing a widescreen picture wastes a smaller percentage of
the screen area than a widescreen tv displaying a normal picture.)

[21/05/2003 more...]

Time for some spleen venting on this "broadband" thing.

NTL say that their 128kbps cablemodem service is broadband. Well, at
least they include it in their figures when they talk about how many
broadband customers they have.

If this is narrowband (56kbps):

And this is 128kbps:

Then, this is what most people understand broadband to be (512kbps):

They can yarn on all they like about "always on" and gumph, but the fact
is, it isn't very broad. In fact it bears more of a resemblance to a
narrow thing than to a broad thing.

Less of an information superhighway, more of a small and congested
single-trak road in the Yorkshire Moors.


"Using this site means you accept its terms". Flankers.

Reading my .plan means you agree to join the cult of luaP, and be bound
by its laws and governance, and to participate fully in all of its
religious festivals.

Muhaha, soon the world shall be mine!

Today is fantastic. I keep drifting off into these little surreal
daydreams. That's probably soemthing to do with the fact that I'm pretty
tired, as I spent those hours when I should have been sleeping instead
quaffing russian vodka, and playing that classic game Red Alert.

Girlfriend didn't look to impressed when she got up to go to work, and
realised I hadn't slept. She also looked as though she'd decided not to
bother getting into an argument with me about it.

Still, I got into work nice and early, made sure the work I'd done to
the compressed air system hadn't exploded, and then started consuming
caffeine. I've been here 9 hours now. I might go home at some point.

I started looking at getting a CEng with the IEE. It appears to involve
an IPD, lots of CPD, a PDR, making a DAP, filling out form RPD, having
a PRI, and submitting an ESR. Great.


Its been a while since I updated .plan
I don't think my outlook has got any rosier.

This season, I am mostly "Lord Baron Von Hoffmeister".

I hate websites that force you to register and hand over your entire
life history for the simplest, most inconsequential piece of data that
you want from them.

Sadly my company ( don't seem to understand that
grievance, and stubbornly stick to the policy of forcing people to log
on with address, teledog number, etc.

I wanted some data from my own company's website, and so I thought "ha-ha
I'll give them a nice set of contact details..." Sadly the usernames
"Rudolf", "Mickey Mouse", "MMouse", "M Mouse", "Bart Simpson" and "Homer
Simpson" were already taken. No big surprise, I suppose.

Hence I am now "Lord Baron Von Hoffmeister", but if anyone asks, y'ain't
seen me, right ;)

In other news, having been quite impressed with Linux software RAID, I'm
giving serious consideration to investing in a couple more WD 80GB hard
drives (with 8MB buffers, of course), and having a go at RAIDing my root
partition, and scary voodoo like that. I'm a bit paranoid about losing
data, having had quite a few IBM drives fail on me recently (I spit on
you 60 and 75GXP series hard drives!), so my system will probably end
up a cunning mix of RAID levels 0,1,and 5 to suit the value and speed
requirement for my data.


Ugh. Political activism, anti-war protest, Joe Stupid Public.

*All* the anti-war protesters I've seen interviewed on the TV have been
the most ill-informed, superficial, annoying, stupid people that I've
seen in a while.

That's not to say that I'm 100% behind the war. War causes me moral
dilemmas. War needs careful forethought. My standpoint comes from the
basis that one of our ten commandments is "Thou shalt not kill". This
extends fairly readily, so far as I know, to most cultures, religions
and backgrounds. We universally accept that killing other people is a
bad thing. Having said that, allowing an evil tyrant to brutalise his
people is also a bad thing. And that's as far as I'm going down that road.

More to the point: Our legally elected representatives sat down in our
accepting ruling establishment, and took a vote. Our democratic system
decided to go to war. You have no recourse. That is how our system
works. If you don't like it, vote for someone different next time, hell,
even stand for election as an MP yourself.

Do not disrupt my country with your un-democratic protests.

What pisses me off even more: "Violence is not the answer" said some
protesters, while others broke into council offices and smashed them up.

Surely using violence, and causing disruption in this way, in order to
try to change a decision which has been been made in the proper manner
by Parliament constitutes some form of terrorism.

Go on, ask me "What about my right to free speech?". You don't have
one. This is Britain, not America. You are one of Her Majesty's subjects,
not a citizen of a republic.

To sumarise, I'd like to say to the vast majority of anti-war protesters
"shut up, go home, educate yourself." To those few that have properly
researched the background of this, and are still angry about the
governments decision, go and talk to your MP, write letters to Tony Blair,
but please stop causing an impediment to normal people going about their
daily lives.

If protests like this keep happening, I think the future of democracy
could be in doubt, not necessarily because it isn't working properly, but
because people *feel* it isn't acting in the interests of the majority.

/me gets down of his soap-box, for today.

Can't stop spleen venting...

Target: Dixons

"I can't properly view your website using mozilla 1.2 under windows 2000.

Please sack your web designers at your earliest convenience, and hire
someone who isn't a muppet."

Aren't I a regular plan updater recently?

Yeah, well, its only to vent my spleen about crap things again.

Today's frustration (well, actually the frustration of the past few days)
is a 24GB tape being nothing of the sort. Damn you, HP, DAMN YOU! A
tiny little asterisk, and a footnote finally alerted me to the fact
that a "24GB tape" in a HP Surestore DAT 24 will only actually store
12GB. "24GB with compression" they say. Not when my files are already
compressed it won't.

Why not just market it as a 12GB tape drive? There's no shame in being
honest. I actually generally quite like HP gear. The stuff I've worked
with has quite impressed me.

On another note, I just noticed that music match and real-player are
having a little turf-war on my pc for who plays which files. Its quite
amusing really, the icons for the files keep changing randomly.

Little things please little minds.

Today, a letter to the BBC news people (and a random fleeting daydream
about Miss Pringle, and Jessica Paterson...)


I'm often dissapointed by the news people's lack of grammatical
awareness. Surely a professional writer should not make mistakes like

As an example,
Matthew Price's piece on the Ark Royal.

In the first paragraph: "Today we had curry. Because it is Tuesday."
This should not be two separate sentences. "Because it is Tuesday" cannot
stand alone. It is not a sentence. I'll agree that what he required is
a troublesome construction, but it did not merit that ugly travesty.

"But you kind of have to get on with it. Keep your head down." I believe
keeping your head down in this construction is another thing that the
narrator believes you have to do. Again, this is not a separate sentence,
he was not issuing an imperative to the interviewer. It should have been
separated by a comma.

Matthew refers to the Ark Royal as "it". While I accept that there
is a move to defeminise ships in the English language, the Royal Navy
stated last year that it intends that its ships should remain female
(see,,2-242471,00.html). Its an
arguable point, but I'd have followed good tradition, particularly as
a guest of the Royal Navy.

He refers to "The al-Faw peninsular". Shame on you! As a world-class
news agency, you really should be thoroughly ashamed if you don't know
the difference between an adjective and a noun. A good writer would
be acutely aware of this from the word's derivation from the latin
"Paene insula", which is "Almost an island".

I don't want to complain about that one article individually though,
my complaint is that the writing, and reporting coming from the BBC
seems rather sloppy in general. Some of you are professional writers,
and having no better qualification than a grade B at GCSE level English
Language, even I can spot your mistakes. Moreover, I'm an engineer,
a member of the group of people held responsible for the addition of
the word "antennas" to the English dictionary.

Don't you proof-read any more?


Paul Norton MEng (Hons.) MIEE


I still like having more letters after my name than there are in my
name ;)

Is it just me, or is there something very wrong when Iraqi officialls
declare in the same breath that they have armed women and children with
kalashnikov rifles to repel the infidel invaders, and then that innocent
civilians have been killed in the conflict.

I read one report that said "The entire poulation is armed, and prepared
to fight against the Americans". If true, that means that anything and
anyone in Iraq is a valid target, there are no non-combatants.

You know, it actually really disturbs me that Iraq is arming children
with assault rifles.

Its all abit reminiscent of Vietnam to me, especially when I heard
an interview with one of the armed forces people who was saying how
demoralising the lack of support from the Iraqi people is.

And with the thing about sweeping through a place, and clearing out all
the enemy, liberating the people, then as soon as your back is turned,
one of the people you liberated is there with a rifle ready to shoot you.

I reckon Iraq is a very bad place to be.

Luap's incredibly useful advice in preparing for war/terror/armageddon.

First and foremost, convince yourself, and your colleagues, friends,
neighbours, and random people on the street that this really is it,
death and destruction are coming to place near you soon.

What you need to buy: Torches. Lots of them. Ones with solar panels,
wind-up torches, even old-fashioned battery ones. And lots of
batteries. Remember, if you see someone else taking the last torch
from the shelf, you must beat them to a pulp and get that torch. Also
buy candles. Lots of candles. Candles will still give you light after
an electromagnetic pulse has fried your torch bulb. Candles are also
useful for gently warming your baked beans over. Don't forget to buy
baked beans. They come in trays of 24, and you'll probably get about 6
trays in your boot (trunk), which should be enough to survive on. Also,
buy plastic sheeting, and lots of rolls of gaffer tape.

Now, go home and prepare.

Pick a room in your house where you will stand the highest chance for
survival. Ideally you want no windows, just one door, and no drains or
vents that might let in dangerous gases from outside. If there are any
doors, windows or vents, nail them shut, gaffer over them so they're
airtight, then gaffer some plastic sheet over them, just to make sure. If
you have loved ones in the room with you, cocoon them in gaffer tape so
that they can't endanger themselves or you by breaking the seal on your
room when they lose their minds in panic. It might be wise to tape them
to the floor once they're securely cocooned.

While you're in your survival room, remember to make as little noise as
possible. The people outside are probably contaminated, and they want
your food and torches. Do not look out of the window, as the contaminated
people might see you. Do not open the door under any circumstances. Do
not believe anything that anybody on the other side of that door tells
you. Remember, they want your food and torches, you need your food and
torches to survive.


Mantra for today: "A firewall is not a panacea".

(This results from my conversation with our IT manager today
"They've discovered a flaw in Sendmail. Our mailserver is vulnerable,
and needs patching"

"But its behind the firewall"

"Yes, but the firewall is configured to let people talk to the mailserver,
so they can send us mail"



Press release: Intention to cease support for Microsoft products

On 24th February 2003, Paul Norton declared his intention to withdraw
his support for all microsoft products. He cited what he called the
"ridiculous amount of patching required" in order to keep up with security
updates, Microsoft's seeming inability to program software which cannot
be abused by a buffer overflow, and Microsoft's apparent hostility (on
its web pages) for anyone using "an alternative browser".

He also stated "It is evident, by Microsoft's own admissions that in
this day and age, we require trustworthy computing. Microsoft have,
for the past decade, been delivering to me untrustworthy, and unstable
computing products. They have failed to learn from their mistakes. Its
time to draw a line in sand, make a stand, stand up for what's right,
and read Microsoft's last rites". The audience was not impressed with
his flurry of cliches.

In a separate disclosure to currently supported users, Mr Norton detailed
that windows and MS office support will tail off over the forthcoming
month, and assistance will be provided to any users making the transition
to Open-source alternatives.


Lots of little unfinished things. I've got to get better at taking a
concept to its conclusion. There's far too may projects loitering in
that stage where I've proved my idea, and got bored with it.

I've ordered a snakeboard now. That'll give me less time to finish
projects. Particularly if I break my legs, and become immobile.

Work is boring, and sucky.



Erm. Bored. I plan to, when I can be bothered, do something about my
sidebar code, which is, I reckon, pants. I plan to tell Orange they can
stick their contract, because I'm not getting as much usefullness out
of this phone as I would from a new hard drive every three months; add
to that the fact that the handset is f'd, and Orange's best offer was
"hmm, you've been with us for nearly three years now, and, oh, you're
still using your original handset, hmm, I think I can authorise 20% off
our over-inflated price". Well, their 20% off loyalty deal thing still
doesn't beat the marketplace price for a new contract. The only thing
I'll be sorry to lose is the everyday-50-ness of my contract, which you
just can't get anymore. I can't even find a new mobile contract that gets
you 1p/minute for calls off-peak after you've run out of free minutes.
I think generally, I'm stepping out of line, and saying "not for me,
not at that cost" on a lot of things. Maybe if I go far enough down this
road, I'll go and live in a commune and raise goats or something.


You really do have to despair when you're trying to talk techinal with
a guy from the drawing office, and he looks at something you've written
on a diagram, and says "200um, what's that? What units are they?"


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