Posts for November 2008

2008-11-04: President Obama

I'm back from vacation and was planning on doing more normal journal postings tonight (a review and a picture), but the election was just too compelling. It's a wonderful feeling to watch an election with a sense of joy and hope and a sense of history being made by the good guys.

The path ahead is hard (my retirement statement today is sad evidence of that), but I can go to bed tonight hoping that our long national nightmare is finally over.

I don't think Obama will be a drastic change, rather than a gradual return to normalcy. He's far more conservative than the President I want to vote for. And I'm under no illusions that the US will cease to be a corporate-run country under his leadership.

But despite all of that, we elected the first black President in the history of the United States. We elected someone who is intelligent, thoughtful, and who surrounds himself with intelligent people. We elected someone who represents thoughtful analysis rather than "gut feelings." We elected a President whose speeches I actually enjoy listening to. The fear, the smear tactics, the lies, the pandering, the racism, and the bigotry didn't prevail today. And there were tears in my eyes watching the reactions of black voters around the country.

That's something to be hopeful about.

Normal life will resume tomorrow.

2008-11-05: After the storm

After the storm

Where I was for the past two and a half weeks.

Why yes, I enjoyed my vacation tremendously.

2008-11-06: Trees against the sky


I've been posting a lot of beach pictures lately, so I thought I'd post something else for a change. This is from the trip that I took to Nanaimo earlier this year. I also added another picture from that same day and reshuffled galleries a little so that the beach gallery doesn't grow quite as fast.

2008-11-07: Beach haul

As usual, I went to Robert's Books in Lincoln City and found a ton of things off my want list, as well as going to the store that sells remaindered hardcovers and trade paperbacks. Combined with a few books that I picked up before vacation, here's the total haul.

Greg Bear — Heads (sff)
Suzy McKee Charnas — The Conqueror's Child (sff)
C.J. Cherryh — Merchanter's Luck (sff)
Brian Daley — Fall of the White Ship Avatar (sff)
Brian Daley — Jinx on a Terran Inheritance (sff)
Diane Duane — The Door into Fire (sff)
Diane Duane — The Door into Shadow (sff)
George Alec Effinger — A Fire in the Sun (sff)
Jasper Fforde — The Big Over Easy (sff)
Lynn Flewelling — The Oracle's Queen (sff)
Neil Gaiman — The Graveyard Book (sff)
John G. Hemry — Burden of Proof (sff)
John G. Hemry — Rule of Evidence (sff)
John G. Hemry — Against All Enemies (sff)
Donald Kingsbury — Psychohistorical Crisis (sff)
Megan Lindholm — Cloven Hooves (sff)
Lou Marinoff, Ph.D. — Plato Not Prosac! (nonfiction)
Jack McDevitt — Ancient Shores (sff)
Patricia A. McKillip — Alphabet of Thorn (sff)
Patricia A. McKillip — Cygnet (sff)
Patricia A. McKillip — In the Forests of Serre (sff)
Sarah Monette — The Mirador (sff)
Larry Niven — Crashlander (sff)
Kim Stanley Robinson — Forty Signs of Rain (sff)
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough — Nothing Sacred (sff)
Neal Stephenson — Anathem (sff)
Steph Swainston — The Year of Our War (sff)
Jeff VanderMeer — City of Saints and Madmen (sff)
Martha Wells — City of Bones (sff)
Gene Wolfe — Soldier of Sidon (sff)

2008-11-07: Strait of Georgia

Strait of Georgia

Another picture from my trip to Nanaimo earlier this year. Compared to the Pacific along the Oregon coast, the strait is so quiet and peaceful. The mainland is visible in the distance.

2008-11-08: control-archive 1.0.0

Many years ago (2002, to be precise), as part of the process of taking over various bits of infrastructure that David Lawrence had been running, I completely rewrote the software that maintained the active newsgroup lists and control message archive. My intention from the start was to release that as free software so that anyone who disagreed with the policies could easily run their own archive if they wanted to.

It's been almost six years, but I finally found the time today to polish up the software, write documentation for a few scripts that were missing it, write more detailed installation and bootstrapping documentation, and turn the whole thing into a real software release.

At the control-archive distribution page, you can find all of the software, the current configuration and inputs for the control.ctl file, and all the documentation (hopefully) needed to show how to bootstrap your own archive. The software is maintained in Git, so it's easy to clone my repository, make your own changes, and continue to merge my changes as you wish.

There are some major things that would be nice to improve, but I wanted to finish getting this out and I can release improvements later.

This isn't yet the exact software that's maintaining the lists and archive, since this version is updated to use an FHS-compliant directory and to modernize the Perl usage a bit. It will be before too long, since I'll switch over to this software when I migrate the processing to a new system.

2008-11-08: spin-rss 1.20

My announcement for control-archive 1.0.0 had a couple of FTP URLs in it, which led me to discover that spin-rss thought anything not starting with http: or https: was a relative URL. It now recognizes anything that looks like a URL scheme as being absolute.

You can get the latest version from my web tools distribution page.

2008-11-08: Garry oak

Garry oak

This isn't that great of a picture, but it seems to be the best picture of Garry oak that I got. I have several pictures of it, but none of them are against a nice neutral background except for this one. The second best has the line of the strait in the middle of the tree. I might have to go back and try again, now that I know better how to take pictures.

I also put up another picture of the Strait of Georgia.

I'm late posting pictures today because I spent just about all day working on the control-archive release. These things always take me longer than I think they will.

2008-11-09: Gnarled olive

Gnarled olive

Another tree picture this evening, this time from my most recent vacation. The olive trees were full of olives when we drove through, although alas I didn't get a picture that showed that.

Today was an errand day, researching what I want in the way of a new television. Now I need to do more research on-line to figure out which model to go back and buy.

It's surprisingly hard, for some reason, to find a regular home telephone without an answering machine that has a cordless handset with speakerphone.

2008-11-10: Rock and water

Strait rocks

I love rocks next to water.

Today was not as productive as I would have liked, but I finished a new tripwire update system using remctl and released that. So at least there's some concrete conclusion to the day. Tomorrow, I'm getting an earlier start and hopefully will get started on a project earlier in the day instead of wasting much of the day poking at things.

2008-11-11: In my niche

In my niche

A good picture for a work-from-home day.

And it was a good day, overall, up until I realized that I'd completely forgotten about a firewall migration that I was supposed to do part of, and the other people involved didn't successfully notify me about it. So right now I'm torn between guilt and annoyance (which is mostly coming out of guilt). Which puts a damper on the whole day and puts me in the mood to think about all the things that went wrong.

So I'm going to go exercise and read and call an end to the day and sort it out tomorrow.

2008-11-12: Pod::Thread 0.11

There are no real code changes here, but since I was rolling new Debian packages anyway for my ongoing repository conversion, I converted the repository to Git and refreshed the documentation to mention the new repository. At some point, I should convert the module to use Pod::Simple instead, but not right now.

You can get the latest version from my web tools distribution page.

2008-11-12: Mmm, water

More strait

I've spent the day (at least the latter half of it) running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to get lots of things done, so my speed for a picture this evening is to post the next pretty thing in the series I've been reviewing.

Nice, quiet soothing water.

The running about seems to have been productive. I crossed a lot off of my to-do list, although I didn't get any more virtualization work done. But I got the firewall migration done that I messed up yesterday, and that makes me much happier.

2008-11-13: pam-krb5 3.12

I'd accumulated a few significant bug fixes since the previous release and some additional options, so it was time for a new release.

The main reason to upgrade are two potential crasher bug fixes. The error handling code for a .k5login file with improper ownership was incorrect, leading to a NULL pointer dereference if search_k5login was set. There was also a double-free of the ticket cache structure if creation of the ticket cache in the session module failed for some reason. Those have both also been fixed with more targetted patches in the version that will release with Debian lenny.

The main new feature is new alt_auth_map, force_alt_auth, and only_alt_auth options to map usernames to alternative Kerberos principals for authentication. This is mostly useful in the PAM configuration for specific applications if you want the application to use an instance instead of the primary principal for authentication. This was contributed by Booker Bense.

Finally, there are some logging improvements (including logging to authpriv instead of to auth) and documentation improvements resolving a couple of Debian bugs, plus a portability fix for AIX's bundled Kerberos.

You can get the latest version from the pam-krb5 distribution page.

2008-11-13: Faces of olive

Faces of olive

Have more olive trees.

Today was a nicely productive day, although I didn't finish convincing lbcd to compile without warnings and I probably have another day of work to put into the next release. But further progress on virtualization is awaiting some software installation, so I have the time at the moment.

I expect to make a remctl release tomorrow.

Late night tonight because I spent the evening talking with friends, which was a nice social break in a week that has mostly been about concentration and re-establishing of schedule. I thought about skipping walking today since my heel is a bit sore (still getting used to new shoes), but I think I've convinced myself to go exercise, particularly since it's not as late as I feared.

I thought I'd talked myself into what I was doing about getting a new flat-panel television, but now I need to go investigate cheaper ways of getting rid of my existing one. I should probably just Freecycle it, but it's extremely heavy, I do not want to help carry it, and I'd feel weird about some random person showing up to take it and refusing to help. if I were paying someone to take it away, I'd feel a lot more comfortable about that. Maybe Goodwill will want it. Paying a premium to get a TV from a store that will haul away my old one probably isn't worth it. This is currently keeping me from getting a new TV and probably an Xbox, which is mildly annoying; on the other hand, it's not like waiting longer to spend money is going to hurt me.

Mostly I just want it done because I don't want to think about it and don't want to do the necessary research, but feel an obligation to do so.

Yeah, I know, it's such a first-world problem. Ten people have starved to death in Africa while I've been pondering how to spend $1000 on a new TV.

2008-11-14: remctl 2.13

This release has been in preparation for a while, and finally today with a lot of help from Jeffrey Hutzelman I finished some final fixes and testing and got it out the door.

The main improvement in this version are new PHP and Python client library bindings contributed by Andrew Mortensen and Thomas Kula respectively. There is also new, more general ACL scheme support in the server contributed by Jeffrey Hutzelman, which currently only supports a reject ACL and the CMU GPUT system beyond what was previously supported but which provides a framework on which to build.

Other fixes include substantial fixes to the Java client and server build system (it previously didn't work at all), fixes to the Windows port, improved portability to Solaris, and various other build and configure fixes. The server also now, when including configuration files from a directory, ignores more files with odd characters, fixing a reported Debian bug.

The new packages have been uploaded to Debian experimental rather than unstable to not interfere with the lenny release, since they won't make that. They'll be in the release afterwards. I expect it will take a little while to clear NEW.

You can get the latest version from the remctl distribution page.

2008-11-14: Color and calm


I got myself worked up this evening thinking about politics again and needed to look at a bit of calm.

I let time tracking and status reports slip for work and need to catch up from the past two days before I go to sleep tonight, but otherwise I'm done with work for the week. I'm not sure what I'm going to do this weekend yet, but it's going to involve not making plans. (Although I do need to do some grocery shopping.)

2008-11-15: The Teaching Company

John Goerzen recently wrote in his blog about the value of a broad, classical education. I wholeheartedly agree, and this gives me the opportunity to plug a gem of a company that makes a product you may not realize you're interested in (I didn't until I heard about it).

I love to learn about random parts of the world and random bits of history and culture, even if I have no practical use for the knowledge. I do a lot of that by reading, but reading requires certain conditions and a level of attention, and I can never read as much as I want to. I also often want something more in-depth than a popularization can provide, but not as technical and focused as academic writings in the subject.

A college course is just about right, but I don't really want to take courses. Apart from the possible expense (although I could audit classes for free) and hassle of having to be somewhere at a particular time, courses are often also based around more reading and around homework and grades, none of which I'm interested in. I get completely irrational about grades and push myself out of proportion to their significance, which meant I had an excellent GPA in college and I still have nightmares about missing tests.

Enter The Teaching Company. What they do is find high-rated college professors, generally those who have won teaching awards, and have them record a course within their field of expertise but without the homework and grades. They then sell those courses on DVD, CD, or MP3 download (some visual-heavy courses are only available on DVD). Some of them are as long as a full college course and some of them are a bit shorter, but they're all meaty enough to really dig into a topic. A typical course is about 18 hours of material; some can be twice that length. And they're exceptional, better than just taking courses at a local college since they draw on the best teachers from all over the United States (I haven't seen any non-US teachers yet, although it wouldn't surprise me if there were some).

I listen to these while I'm exercising, on long car trips, while I'm walking back and forth to work, even while I'm grocery shopping — basically, all the places you'd listen to a book on tape. I've listened to several twice, since I wasn't always paying attention the first time. So far, I've gone through a course on Greek mythology, a literature survey covering plays, poetry and novels, a course on modern economics, two history courses (Vikings and China), and I'm currently listening to a course on opera mostly because I knew I didn't know anything about it.

The courses are a bit spendy (always buy them on sale — they have a weird pricing structure where courses go on sale on a rolling basis, and the non-sale price is ridiculously higher), but you can get a shorter one for around US$50 and from that get an idea of whether you're interested. (And while that's a lot to spend at once, it's actually a great deal for the length of material you get.) They have a very solid guarantee system, they'll replace lost or worn-out or broken CDs from CD sets for life, they have a reasonable on-line ordering system, and I've had nothing but positive experiences with them as a company. And as soon as you start buying courses, they tend to give you discounts and special deals and so forth.

Highly recommended. It's filled a gap I've felt for a long time but never had the time to read enough to fill normally.

2008-11-15: Paths

Biggs Park path

I started a new gallery of pictures of paths, with both this picture and one other.

I'm still creating lots of galleries that as yet only have a small handful of pictures in them, but I have a ton of pictures yet to post that will flesh out all of these galleries. But I like taking my time and posting a few at a time. It's fun every evening to look through my pictures and find the next ones that I like well enough to post.

I spent today going through old picture shoots and annotating the pictures so that I can remember what they're about. That was a good project for a lazy day to let my brain recover, since I didn't feel like being productive today.

2008-11-16: Munch, munch

Munch, munch

I also added another flowering currant picture.

Today started quite late, since I slept in past 11am (partly because I was up late reading Jo Walton's Half a Crown, which is brilliant). But I still managed to do the grocery shopping and the laundry.

I'm getting a bit behind on writing reviews since I finished several things yesterday, but I'm hoping to finish one this evening after I exercise.

One more week of work and then I have company and lots and lots of video games.

2008-11-17: Oak and water

Oak and water

I did have a better picture of Garry Oak, just from another day.

I'm working on coding infrastructure right now. I've cleaned up a bunch of compiler warnings in lbcd and now I'm putting together a separate package for my runtests test driver so that I can more easily share the code between different packages. This mostly involves writing documentation and test cases for it and the associated libraries. It's fun and feels productive, and I can fill the time while I'm waiting to get unblocked on the virtualization stuff I'm working on.

Not much more than three days now before company!

2008-11-18: Leaf

Salmonberry leaf

Today turned out to be a day to work on virtualization, and I made quite a bit of progress. Perhaps tomorrow will be time to finish up my repackaging of runtests. I have been working on moving over the test libraries, though; now I just need to write some tests for it.

2008-11-19: Slowly creeping

Brown hair

I had no energy today. Absolutely none. As a result, I got essentially nothing done, which puts a serious crimp in my intention to build up a bit of extra time in advance of having company so that I'll feel like I'm moving various projects along adequately. Instead, I just vaguely poked at things, got some reading done, got a bit of half-assed coding done, and mostly felt frustrated at myself.

I think this is from getting much too little sleep the first two nights of the week. I slept in a couple of hours today; since I can't do that tomorrow with a meeting, I'm going to bed early instead.

No walking again tonight, and I didn't write either of the two pending reviews I want to write. It was that sort of a day.

Hopefully tomorrow will pick up a bit; a nice, productive push before company arriving Friday would be just what I need.

2008-11-20: Lace


Have another picture of sandstone for the day.

I managed to concentrate and actually get quite a bit of stuff done today, which was a relief. I'm still working on pulling my generic infrastructure from individual packages into a single Git repository so that I can more easily keep things in sync, but I made a lot of progress on that. I also got a lot of other random little things done and played volleyball.

I'm going to have to work about five or six hours tomorrow, which is more than I was hoping, but that shouldn't be too bad. And it's going to be a lot of fun.

I'm not sure if I'll keep up with the daily posting for the next week and change. I'm hoping to, but proirities will change. So if you don't hear from me for a while, that's where I am: playing video games and talking.

2008-11-22: New book haul

My company is out having dinner at the moment, so time to take a moment and mention the books that I just picked up after ordering while on vacation. Must keep up with new releases, even if at the moment I'm playing video games instead of reading.

Michael Andre-Driussi — Lexicon Urthus (non-fiction)
Elizabeth Bear — All the Windwracked Stars (sff)
Michael Chabon — Summerland (sff)
George Orwell — Down and Out in Paris and London (mainstream)
George Orwell — Keep the Aspidistra Flying (mainstream)
Jo Walton — Half a Crown (sff)

Lexicon Urthus is the long-awaited second edition of Andre-Driussi's dictionary of all of the fascinating words that Gene Wolfe uses in the Book of the New Sun series. The first edition had become horribly rare and was available only at steep prices, so I was delighted to see a second edition. At some point, I want to re-read the whole Book of the New Sun series with this dictionary in hand (and Solar Labyrinth close by). I have no idea when I'll do that, though.

I've been waiting for Bear's All the Windwracked Stars since I first heard about it, but I'd like to finish the Promethean Age series (to date) first. The Orwell novels are part of my continuing goal of reading his complete works.

I've already read Jo Walton's Half a Crown, and like the rest of the series it's brilliant. A full review will be coming before too long.

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