East of the Sun, West of the Moon


The inevitable (part 2)

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 3:37 pm

A year and just over a month after the previous one died, sometime last night A‘s rat died. She wasn’t looking very healthy yesterday evening but we were hoping to still have her with us this morning and see a vet. I know these critters aren’t expected to live particularly long, but I wish they’d live a little longer than this (he had her for 1 year and just under 2 months, N had his for 1 year and just under 6 months, if I remember correctly).

He’s already talking about a replacement, but just as with N, we’ll give him (and ourselves) a few weeks before getting back to him about that.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the two rats that were introduced to the household a year ago will live longer than this.



Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 5:15 am
A month ago:
Prepare server C, ship it off to work (which is two timezones away from where I live).
Two weeks ago:
Moved game M from server K to server C. This gave M a new home, and allowed me to rearrange the RAID5 setups and ext3 file-systems on top of them.
One week ago:
Moved several games from server T to server K, after the rearranging had been finished. T is one of our oldest machines, so that was a nice improvement. At the end of the week it becomes clear to me that something isn’t quite right in the current setup of K, but I can’t immediately put my finger on it.
This week:
I start to suspect that I’ve forgotten to use the -R stride=<number> parameter when creating the ext3 filesystems. To verify this I download the e2fsprogs 1.39 sources, edit the resize2fs program slightly, which has a heuristic built in to determine what stride was originally used (as it isn’t stored anywhere afterward for easy checking, unfortunately), and use that to confirm my suspicion. Damn. That would explain the less than stellar harddisk/filesystem performance, then. It turns out I also overlooked for that server C.
After a few days of juggling data around in preparation (RAID5 setups with 3 harddisks in the active set and 1 spare, so I can take two out, create the new RAID5 from those, copy data over, and later dismantle the original RAID5 and add their components to the new one), I begin an announced maintenance downtime, first on server C, which has only one game to deal with, but has 3 filesystems that need to be juggled around. Everything goes fine for the first two (non-root) filesystems. I reboot to make sure that the RAID autodetect code picks them up correctly, and that works fine. Then I proceed to make adjustments for the 3rd (root) filesystem. This shouldn’t be a problem because LILO, the boot-loader should be using the /boot filesystem, which is on a RAID1 setup. I make adjustments to /etc/lilo.conf and /etc/fstab and rerun the lilo program to make sure the master boot records are updated on all the hardisks involved.

I reboot… and the machine doesn’t come back up. Damnit!

The short version of what follows is that I wake up my colleague in Berkeley, California, who goes over to the colo facility to analyze the problem and helps me by swapping two of the harddisks into into another machine so I can extract the necessary data with which I can at least restart the M game on another machine (yes, we have backups, but those would be 8 hours older than the most current snapshot, so if we can restore that, that’s always better). After 6 hours the maintenance on machine K has been finished as intended (it didn’t involve a root filesystem, thankfully) and I can bring back all games, including M on it. We’ll deal with C later.

In the excitement I never ate anything for breakfast or lunch during those six hours, just had my usual morning coffee, so at the end of it I wasn’t feeling too cheerful and had a bit of a headache. Ouch.

I hope your day went a little better than that. 🙂


Fade in, fade out (2)

Filed under: Site,Software — Erwin @ 9:30 pm

I couldn’t resist, of course, and changed the look of the sidebar tabs a bit and (suggested by Kalle) sped up the transition effect when clicking on a tab to expand it. After all, why wait?

Meanwhile, I’ve got a Custom Links Widget in the works to allow me to add several differently-titled sections in the sidebar for different categories, instead of the all-or-nothing approach of the default Links Widget. It’s quite possible someone already wrote this, but it’s an interesting exercise. Hopefully I won’t have to change my code too much (for this one or for the previously written Custom Pages Widget) for the brand new WordPress 2.1 version!


Fade in, fade out

Filed under: Site,Software — Erwin @ 3:44 pm

I’ve changed the sidebar to use a so-called accordion effect where you click on the header of a section to unfold it and fold away the previously visible section. This should allow me to put content there without cluttering up the page, visually, and will inspire me to put the links back on the front page that I’d relegated to the links page in the static content.

I’ve tested that it works with Firefox ( and Safari (2.0.4), but let me know if it misbehaves with your particular browser choice.

That said, what do you think of this technique? Good or bad, helpful or annoying?


Linkage on 2007-01-19

Filed under: Linkage — Erwin @ 3:00 am

Why Joost Is Good for TV
Very interesting read about this project. Think of it as TiVo mixed with your collection of VHS tapes and DVDs, on speed.
(tags: technology software internet video television)


It does what?

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 2:23 am

In the expression the plot thickens, is there some explanation for what the plot was originally and why it got thicker? Sure, I can see how it implies that things get more difficult to sort out, the water muddier, whatever, but it seems to me like there may have been more to it, whatever it was.

Who knows?


A good start (follow-up)

Filed under: News — Erwin @ 10:52 pm

That stunt ended up getting a few people fired (Guardian Unlimited):

A US radio station has fired 10 staff after a stunt resulted in a woman dying from water intoxication in a bid to win a games console.

I just hope someone learned something from this?


A good start

Filed under: News — Erwin @ 11:07 pm

… for the Darwin Awards, that is (CNN.com):

A woman who competed in a radio station’s contest to see how much water she could drink without going to the bathroom died of water intoxication, the coroner’s office said Saturday.


Filed under: News — Erwin @ 4:18 pm

Maybe it’s foolish, but I did not expect this from the NPS:

  • Doonesbury:
  • New Scientist:

    The Grand Canyon was formed a few thousand years ago by Noah’s flood, and not a few million years ago by geological forces, right? So says a glossy book still on sale in Grand Canyon National Park, despite scientists’ protests.

  • Boing Boing:

    According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), park superintendent Joe Alston in 2003 lobbied to keep the book, titled Grand Canyon: A Different View, by Tom Vail, out of the park’s bookstores; the National Park Service responded by promising a “high-level policy review” of the matter. PEER claims that three years later, a Freedom of Information Act request shows that the review wasn’t even “requested, let alone conducted or completed.”

  • PEER.org:

    Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees.

I know there is a park ranger reading along here occasionally, I wonder if she (or anyone else, of course) would be willing to share her view on what’s (not) going on here?


Linkage on 2007-01-09

Filed under: Linkage — Erwin @ 3:00 am

Priceless. 🙂
(tags: humour photo cars)

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