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dws (341)

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Journal of dws (341)

Saturday April 23, 2005
01:59 PM

Riddle me this

Why, on a small bare-bones system that doesn't have room for a floppy in the case, or even a connector for a floppy on the motherboard, does the manual insist on making a bootable floppy to upgrade the BIOS?

I suspect blind copy/paste behavior on the part of the manual's authors.

01:54 PM

Fighting back chaos, one shelf at a time

The project to make my study livable has been growing ever more complex, with simplification just over the horizon. The floor is still stacked with stuff that needs organizing, though it's now in plastic tubs. Shelves have been acquired, and will get bolted to the wall as soon as I can pull the desk back. (And the desk will go on 1" risers when it gets pushed back forward.) This provides the opportunity to rewires the rat's nest behind the desk, or at least use cable ties to contain the mess.

Getting momentum on this project has been hard. It's been easier to just learn to live with the mess. One driver has been getting rid of old tower computers and big monitors, replacing them with a cute little mini-itx and mATX systems that share a flat panel monitor. That freed up space, creating a much-needed small win in the fight, and clearing a path for the next round.

Tuesday April 12, 2005
02:56 PM

An unexpected leak

DBD::Pg 1.31 leaks memory when you rebind values (e.g., when you execute a second query with values). When you're re-executing a prepared query a small number of times on a slow, periodic basis, this can be tricky to track down.

Fedora Core 3 ships with 1.32, which fixes that problem.

02:51 PM

Kudos to Newegg

I'm liking more and more. Their emailed invoice includes the serial numbers for all of the components I ordered, warranty contact info for parts Newegg doesn't warranty, warranty reminders for parts they do, and FedEx tracking links. Go, e-commerce!
Friday March 25, 2005
03:21 PM

Apache and Alias, Ambushed!

Running FC3? Had trouble getting Alias working with Apache when pointing outside of /var/www? Three hours of my life got burned up figuring this one out. Story here.

Sunday March 20, 2005
01:05 AM

Sic Transit Hardwarium Mundi

There's a warehouse in Sunnyvale where old computers go to retire. It's an impressive place, with stack and stacks of old equipment, some of which gets resold, some fixed up and donated to worthy causes, and the rest recycled. I went today to donate two old (but working!) 15" monitors, after failing entirely to give them away. From the size of today's pile of monitors, a dozen other people had the same idea.

I'll make another trip there next week after scrubbing an old P-II of any possible blackmail material. I was considering salvaging the case and a few parts and rebuilding, but after pricing out the replacement motherboards et al., it's less expensive to buy new, not that I need more hardware.

Thursday March 17, 2005
01:59 PM

Cough, cough, sneeze

There are two coughs and a sneeze that have been playing slow-motion ping-pong around our office for the past several months, occassionally knocking a coworker out for a few days. Nature and the weather have contributed recently by dumping a visible amount pollen into the air.

Current favorites are Ricola Elderberry cough drops and "Emer'gen-C" fizzy drink mix. I'm considering buying stock.

Saturday March 12, 2005
02:58 PM

Late-Night Configuration Problems


  • Install Fedora Core 3. Turn off a bunch of services. done
  • Setup Samba and move a bunch of stuff off of other boxes. done
  • Turn on and configure Apache. done
  • Configure the router to port forward HTTP and SSH to the new box. Test. done
  • Setup a skeleton "nothing to see here" web page and test. done
  • Setup some other random web stuff and test. done
  • Get dynamic DNS set up through, and teach the router about it. Test. done

Picking up the story again last night at 1 AM:

  • Setup and configure MySQL. done
  • Migrate databases off of the old box. done
  • Generate SSL cert for Apache, restart, and test locally. done
  • Setup a virtual domain for dynamic DNS. Test locally. done
  • Configure the router to also port forward HTTPS. Test... Connection refused. Hm... Double-check the router to make sure I didn't get dyslexic with the HTTPS port number. Nope. Check the httpd logs. Nothing. Restart Apache and try again. http works; https doesn't. Triple check everything. Nada. wtf?

The punchline, found at 2 AM after much flailing, was in /etc/sysconfig/iptables, which I'd touched once to get Samba working, and had then forgotten about. My FC3 install had ports unblocked for HTTP and SSH, but not HTTPS. Go figure. Add a line to support tcp on port 443, restart iptables, and test. Ah. Much better. Now I can sleep the sleep of those who can securely serve up a "nothing to see here" page from a home linux box.

Saturday February 19, 2005
07:50 PM

Tools hiding in plain sight

Years back I bought a solar powered calculator that does hex and octal. (Actually, I bought six, since they were on closeout sale for a couple of bucks each. I gave four to coworkers, and took one of the remaining two home.) Whenever I run into one of those bit pattern problems (like funky subnet masks), I reach for the calculator.

This week, while working on some problem that required radix conversion, the teamate I was pairing with reached for... the Windows calculator. The words "but ..." had nearly made it out my mouth when he pulled down the View menu and selected Scientific. Suddenly, there was a calculator that could do radix conversions. Right there in front of me where I'd never noticed it, because I'd never had the need or urge (or curiosity) to pull down the View menu to see what the options were.

Makes me wonder what else is hiding in plain sight.

Friday February 18, 2005
12:42 PM

Time flies like a banana

Time is nature's way to keep everything from happening all at once.
John Wheeler

No, Time is nature's way to keep everything wrong from happening all at once. And right now, nature needs some debugging. While waiting to hear from the Volkswagen dealer about whether they could get the part they needed to start fixing the car (toxic fumes out of the heater vents--it's what's for breakfast!), my cell phone took a dive into a puddle. After missing the train. While recovering from a mild flu.

They didn't have the part.

But later...

The VW dealer got the part and fixed the car under warranty, costing me a grand total of $5.21 to put gas in the rental car they sprang for. And the cellphone survived the dunking.

Sometimes time just gets things bunched up.