A few weeks with new stereo system

Just before Christmas, I bought myself a new stereo. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and one of those things that takes some care in looking at because it’s a non-trivial amount of cash.

I’ve ended up with B&W 683 speakers, an Arcam amplifier and CD player (Tivoli HiFi had a special on saving about $800+ on the amp and CD when bought with speakers).

The basic summary is that this sounds awesome. Tool especially sounds awesome. The only real downside is that i’m starting to get really used to this as the standard of audio I listen to.

Even better, no complaints from neighbours (yet).


Following my successful linux.conf.au talk “Eat My Data: How Everybody Gets POSIX File I/O Wrong“, I started to feel the need to easily be able to have my data eaten.

Okay, not quite. However, when you’ve written your software properly, so it uses fsync() correctly, opening files with O_SYNC or whatever – tests take longer as you’re having to wait for things to hit the rust.

So….. LD_PRELOAD=libeatmydata.so to the rescue! With a POSIX compliant fsync() (that does nothing) and filtering on open(2), it can take your test run times down dramatically.

The only time you shouldn’t use it for your tests is when you end up crashing the machine to test durability (i.e. when the OS doesn’t have the opportunity to cleanly write out the data to disk).

See the libeatmydata project page: http://www.flamingspork.com/projects/libeatmydata/

and the bazaar repository: http://www.flamingspork.com/src/libeatmydata

(it’s seemed to have saved somewhere between 20 and 30% of the time for innodb/ndb tests in mysql-test-run).

Everything that’s wrong (and right) with Ubuntu Gutsy

So, I’ve upgraded two boxes: my laptop and my mail server.


  • courier-imap-ssl broke. My cell phone could no longer pull mail.
    I got something like in the log:
    imapd-ssl: couriertls: connect: error:1408F10B:SSL routines:SSL3_GET_RECORD:wrong version number
    The fix for this is to change the TLS_PROTOCOL option in /etc/courier/imapd-ssl to SSL23 (an option not listed in the “possible verions” list in the config file). So mail now works.
  • Evolution now seems to put a blank line at the top of emails when replying (before quoting the message). GRRRRRRR…
  • The Window Manager (metacity) has changed how it arranges new windows. Instead of cascading them down, so if you’re opening a bunch you can easily switch between them, it now puts them right on top of each other GGRRRRRR.
  • It set up my Xorg to *not* to X monitor hotpluggy goodness. I’ve managed
  • Login seems to take a fair bit longer than before
  • Tracker
    • trackerd will index while on battery power… GRRR
    • trackerd will hog disk and CPU
    • I haven’t been able to get any results out of tracker.
    • There is no tracker-status or something to check that it hasn’t just stopped working
    • Tracker will use up all your remaining disk space… (I initially only had a few GB free.. and trackerd filled it up)
    • I haven’t actually had a query work at all. i.e. it seems to be useless. I just get a “trackerd exited with status 0”.
  • There is no “remember passphrase” button in Evolution for GPG signing anymore. I think this is now set in the global preferences… but the behaviour change is annoying.
  • The pidgin icon is different than the gaim icon in the Notification Area… this is annoying as I can never find it anymore
  • The Window List applet changed behaviour to now *not* group windows together at all… making having lots of windows open (as I often do) completely unmanagable as opposed to (previously) just annoying.

The Awesome:

  • X monitor hotpluggy goodness (known to others as xrandr 1.2). VGA out works with the free radeon driver now! *YAY*. (I can rearrange screens using xrandr… awesome)
  • Pidgin is quite nice… the likelyhood of reply plugin is neat. More compact IM windows (also cool).
  • Syncing between Pidgin and Evolution with contacts seems to work okay now.
  • Suspend and resume still works
  • New version of f-spot – goodness!
  • New OpenOffice.org (2.3)  sucks less.
  • emacs22 (shiny)
  • New WINE does real neat stuff (such as have menu items for browse C drive, remove software)
  • Evolution doesn’t seem to leak memory as much anymore. Only 316MB RSS at the moment!
  • Lots of neat Liferea bug fixes – much nicer! (read items in the planet.linux.org.au feed stay marked read now!)

Things that break while travelling….

This year, it seesm that whenever I go out for significant travel, the following things will break on my trip:

  • a laptop power supply
  • a disk

At least this time the disk is part of a RAID1 array.

Oh, and for some reason my mythbackend stopped doing anything a few days ago…. and I wasn’t checking it. grr… annoying. At least there’s not much on TV.

Eat My Data: @ luv Tuesday 3rd July

Tomorrow night (that’s Tuesday the 3rd of July) I’m speaking at LUV (Linux Users of Victoria). I’m presenting “Eat My Data: How Everybody Gets File I/O Wrong“.

This is another one of my (possibly futile) attempts to get people to care more about data integrity when writing software – and the less futile attempt to make users cry*.

* over lost data, not spilt milk.

UPDATE: date is Tuesday the 3rd . Turns out I can’t use /usr/bin/cal

Things that have recently stalled….

  • compressed backup patch
    • actually works rather well… and restoring from compressed backup too.
    • need to modify the rate-limiting code though… may as well rate limit the writing of the *compressed* data stream… otherwise the option isn’t nearly as useful
  • compressed LCP patch
    • well… the *restoring* of compressed LCPs…. can write them
  • working out exactly what more information I want out of the linux memory manager to find out what kswapd is really doing (and the patch that exports the right info)
  • re-jigging my procmail filters for commits@lists.mysql.com
  • fixing up my offlineimap patch and getting it in upstream
  • disk pre-allocation for MythTV recordings
  • buying workstation
  • unpacking the last few boxes around the house
  • finishing this list.

puzzling dot org : Finally feminism, suggested questions

So, Mary a little while ago found Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog (and she suggested some more questions for it). It turns out to be a pretty good read and summary… one well worth keeping around to at the very least point people to.  Oh, I should post more (got about 10 good blogging ideas in the brain) but I should really stop reading interesting RSS and get back to work…

Percent geekiness is not gender specific…

So, Pia is 80% geek. That area in the brain that causes you to take internet quizzes got activated and I went and did it…. casually surprised that the first question was “what gender are you”.  After being geeky enough to debate one of the questions (the email one… you should get more points to be okay with not going for mail for a while because you instead batch it up so that you loose less time to context switching), I did the “so what if I answered this quiz as a woman”. It turns out, no difference – still the same percentage of geek.

So why is the question there? Gah… the other part of my brain (the part responsible for optimisation) is firing intensely. gah.

Backups don’t suck

Today, immediately after lunch, I got IO errors from my laptop hard drive (ironically while attempting a file system dump). Words to the affect of “oh gosh and bother” exiting my mouth and the decision was made to go get a new drive.

Well… one “shortcut” to the computer store later, have new HD (will travel).

Backup from previous night, xfsrestore here I come. And a good number of hours later… about 1.5million files restored.

I do wish file systems had REPEATABLE_READ though… that would be nice.

Positive response on “Practical MythTV” from somebody who actually has the book

My trusty google alerts alerted me to: Yeraze’s Domain 2.0 – Practical MythTV (and about 15 seconds after mailing off to Mikal going all awww over it, I saw he’s blogged this already.

Not only is the review positive on the book (“5 out of 5” is a good rating), it looks as though the book will be of value to the reviewer as they expand their MythTV system (precisely one of the aims we had with the book). In fact even I am looking forward to my hard copy to use as a reference when doing some things to my MythTV system….. oh, and likely when I finally give into my mum’s requests and build her one too (yes, the same mother of mine who finds keyborad shortcuts confusing but has been using Linux on the desktop for years and now even installs her own security updates).

I feel good.

86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore. You Won’t Believe Who Wins

86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore. You Won’t Believe Who Wins

Well, except I did believe it – and pretty much expected it.

Proves my suspicion that next time I need to go type a few pages of text I should just go and boot up the MacPlus (as I have little doubt that these numbers are also true for OpenOffice.org).

Of course, these days my xchat logs take up about 10x the disk space of any drive you could buy for the MacPlus….

Mikal reports the book has shipped!

My co-conspiritor Mikal (a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley) reports that copies of the book have arrived at his house! Not only that, Amazaon is reporting it’s in stock!

Now, hoping that because I’ve just moved the books still get to me… eep.  Expect me to be going around showing off the book as soon as I get it. I reckon it’s cool :)