Yes, it's summer time, get ready for almost raw i/o, or slightly cooked!
It's now been a few weeks since I've been on my new diet. Since April I've lost a further ~6 kg, currently weighing in at around 77 kg. Other than my trip to Guernsey which appear to have added 1 kg (all the raspberries and tomatoes...) instead of a 440 g loss, taking me about 1.5 kg off track. I've stopped using a weekly weigh-in, opting for a 7-day moving average which is less volatile and probably more meaningful.
My diet is basically what I had when I was too heavy but slightly tweaked:
I've had to exclude:
The up shot is that with the limit on sugars, fats and salt most processed foods are now off limits, and will probably remain that way for ever. The occasion item is okay but it really has to be only occasionally.
The main addition to my diet are the nuts, I'm not really a fan of them, but they apparently are good for LDL/HDL ratio and blood pressure. I've also added some xylitol based mints as they are minty (I have a sweet tooth) and apparently there is good evidence that they contribute to reducing dental decay.
I've also swapped some of my yoghurt to yoghurt with plant sterols in or yoghurt based on soya rather than milk. Both are proven to reduce your LDL levels in the blood, which is probably a good idea - though possibly not enough to make a clinically significant outcome.
So recently I posted on twitter about a sudden gain in strength:
I have conquered pull-ups! On Saturday night I could do 1.5. Today I could do 11! (Chinups were always easy.) #fitness— Steve Kemp (@Stolen_Souls) June 15, 2015
To put that more into context I should give a few more details. In the past I've been using an assisted pull-up machine, which offers a counterweight to make such things easier.
When I started the exercise I assumed I couldn't do it for real, so I used the machine and set it on 150lb. Over a few weeks I got as far as being able to use it with only 80lb. (Which means I was lifting my entire body-weight minus 80lb. With the assisted-pullup machine smaller numbers are best!)
One evening I was walking to the cinema with my wife and told her I thought I'd be getting close to doing one real pull-up soon, which sounds a little silly, but I guess is pretty common for random men who are 40 as I almost am. As it happens there were some climbing equipment nearby so I said "Here see how close I am", and I proceeded to do 1.5 pullups. (The second one was bad, and didn't count, as I got 90% of the way "up".)
Having had that success I knew I could do "almost two", and I set a goal for the next gym visit: 3 x 3-pullups. I did that. Then I did two more for fun on the way out (couldn't quite manage a complete set.)
So that's the story of how I went from doing 1.5 pullus to doing 11 in less than a week. These days I can easily do 3x3, but struggle with more. It'll come, slowly.
So pull-up vs. chin-up? This just relates to which way you place your hands: palm facing you (chin-up) and palm way from you (pull-up).
Some technical details here but chinups are easier, and more bicep-centric.
Anyway too much writing. My next challenge is the one-armed pushup. However long it takes, and I think it will take a while, that's what I'm working toward.
Long weekend in Guernsey.Location: Guernsey
Well 123-reg mostly I think you don't know how to do email.
Yesterday was our last full day on Guernsey as we return to the UK this afternoon. The forecast was good for the morning and not so good in the afternoon, so we decided to walk to the northern tip while it was nice and if needed take the bus back. More beaches and fewer crags on this section of coastline than the southside.
The afternoon wasn't so nice, but it also wasn't too bad so we were still able to walk back to our hotel without getting cold or wet. We have now walked all the eastern seaboard of Guernsey from the southern most point (I think) to it's northern most.
Today is our last day in Guernsey, and we have had a lovely break - I think we will come back but with our bikes and for more than just a flying visit.
As the ferry back to Blighty was in the afternoon, we had several hours to explore the castle that guards the port. It was a few quid to get in, but very interesting with several museums and lots to look at. We had a very nice lunch in the sun at the back of the castle in relative peace, with no pigeons, seagulls or tourists bothering us.
Back to work tomorrow!
While I mentioned last September that I had failed to be selected for an H-1B and had been having discussions at DebConf about alternative employment, I never got around to elaborating on what I’d ended up doing.
Short answer: I ended up becoming a law student, studying for a Masters in Legal Science at Queen’s University Belfast. I’ve just completed my first year of the 2 year course and have managed to do well enough in the 6 modules so far to convince myself it wasn’t a crazy choice.
Longer answer: After Vello went under in June I decided to take a couple of months before fully investigating what to do next, largely because I figured I’d either find something that wanted me to start ASAP or fail to find anything and stress about it. During this period a friend happened to mention to me that the applications for the Queen’s law course were still open. He happened to know that it was something I’d considered before a few times. Various discussions (some of them over gin, I’ll admit) ensued and I eventually decided to submit an application. This was towards the end of August, and I figured I’d also talk to people at DebConf to see if there was anything out there tech-wise that I could get excited about.
It turned out that I was feeling a bit jaded about the whole tech scene. Another friend is of the strong opinion that you should take a break at least every 10 years. Heeding her advice I decided to go ahead with the law course. I haven’t regretted it at all. My initial interest was largely driven by a belief that there are too few people who understand both tech and law. I started with interests around intellectual property and contract law as well as issues that arise from trying to legislate for the global nature of most tech these days. However the course is a complete UK qualifying degree (I can go on to do the professional qualification in NI or England & Wales) and the first year has been about public law. Which has been much more interesting than I was expecting (even, would you believe it, EU law). Especially given the potential changing constitutional landscape of the UK after the recent general election, with regard to talk of repeal of the Human Rights Act and a referendum on exit from the EU.
Next year will concentrate more on private law, and I’m hoping to be able to tie that in better to what initially drove me to pursue this path. I’m still not exactly sure which direction I’ll go once I complete the course, but whatever happens I want to keep a linkage between my skill sets. That could be either leaning towards the legal side but with the appreciation of tech, returning to tech but with the appreciation of the legal side of things or perhaps specialising further down an academic path that links both. I guess I’ll see what the next year brings. :)
Yesterday morning we awoke at silly o'clock to take the train to catch the ferry from Poole to Guernsey. The ferry was rather busy with people going to the Island Games in Jersey, but we got off a St. Peter Port. We walked up the hill to our B&B to discover there had been a booking error and they were actually full - so they took us to another hotel (an extra star) where we stayed instead.
The glorious weather we had for our crossing had mostly deserted us and it had become rather dull and flat. However the predicted rain didn't turn up so we were able to explore the town without getting wet and were able to find some food for dinner.
This morning was great, after our breakfast we went into town to explore further. Once we had bought lunch bits we took the bus towards the airport, getting off one stop shy, then we walked all along the southern coast back to St. Peter Port. The walking was easy and the views were beautiful - very reminiscent of the Brittany coast or Cornwall. More like the UK and less like France they were a bit stingy with with signs and it was a bit confusing in places - the French GR paint marking system is very simple and much easier to navigate with than the occasional sign!
When we made it back to town we had a look at La Valette Underground Military Museum, which was most fascinating, and packed with more stuff than you would imagine could fit in such a small place.
For dinner we decided to try eating out. La Creperie was strange, the staff appeared to be of Slavic origin, half the menu was not crepe or galette, but the galette was actually quite good though the crepe was only average. Definitely fusion food!
The Core Infrastructure Initiative announced today that they will support two Debian Developers, Holger Levsen and Jérémy Bobbio, with $200,000 to advance their Debian work in reproducible builds and to collaborate more closely with other distributions such as Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenWrt to benefit from this effort.
The Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) was established in 2014 to fortify the security of key open source projects. This initiative is funded by more than 20 companies and managed by The Linux Foundation.
The reproducible builds initiative aims to enable anyone to reproduce bit by bit identical binary packages from a given source, thus enabling anyone to independently verify that a binary matches the source code from which it was said it was derived. For example, this allow the users of Debian to rebuild packages and obtain exactly identical packages to the ones provided by the Debian repositories.
After leaving IBM I’ve joined Pace at their Belfast office. It is quite a change of IT sectors, though still the same sort of job. Software development seems to have a lot in common no matter which industry it is for.
The job is still Software Development, and there should be some fun challenges with things like allowing a TV set top box to do on demand video content when all you have is a one-way data stream from a satellite, for instance, which make for some interesting solutions. I’m working in the Cobalt team which deals with a delivering data from the TV provider onto set top boxes, so things like settings, software updates, programme guides and on demand content and even apps. Other teams in the office work with the actual video content encryption and playback and the UI the set top box shows.
The local office seems to be all running Fedora, so I’m saying goodbye to Ubuntu at work. I already miss it, but hopefully will find Fedora enjoyable in the long term.
The office is on the other side of Belfast so is a marginally longer commute, but it’s still reasonable to get to. Stranmillis seems a nice area of Belfast, and it’s a 10 minute walk to the Botanical gardens so I intend to make some time to see it over lunch, which will be nice as I really miss getting out as I could in Hursley and its surrounding fields.
Also, web services generally spit out one of a fairly common set of formats: (json, xml, html) and I often just want to grab a value from the response and use it in a script - maybe to make the next call in a workflow.
So I made please which makes it super simple to do things like making a web request and grabbing a particular value from the response.
For example, here's how you'd get the page title from this site:please get http://offend.me.uk/ | please parse html.head.title.#text
Or getting a value out of the json returned by jsontest.com's IP address API:please get http://ip.jsontest.com/ | please parse ip
The parse part of please is the most fun; it can convert between a few different formats. Something I do quite often is grabbing a json response from an API and spitting it out as yaml so I can read it easily. For example:please get http://date.jsontest.com/ | please parse -o yaml
(alright so that's a poor example but the difference is huge when it's a complicated bit of json)
Also handy for turning an unreadable mess of xml into yaml (I love yaml for its readability):echo '<docroot type="messydoc"><a><b dir="up">A tree</b><b dir="down">The ground</b></a></docroot>' | please parse -o yaml
As an example, of the kinds of things you can play with, I made this tool for generating graphs from json.
I'm still working on please; there will be bugs; let me know about them.
Recently I've been experimenting with camlistore, which is yet another object storage system.
Camlistore is designed exactly how I'd like to see an object storage-system - each server allows you to:
It should be noted more is possible, there's a pretty web UI for example, but I'm simplifying. Do your own homework :)
With those primitives you can allow a client-library to upload a file once, then in the background a bunch of dumb servers can decide amongst themselves "Hey I have data with ID:33333 - Do you?". If nobody else does they can upload a second copy.
In short this kind of system allows the replication to be decoupled from the storage. The obvious risk is obvious though: if you upload a file the chunks might live on a host that dies 20 minutes later, just before the content was replicated. That risk is minimal, but valid.
There is also the risk that sudden rashes of uploads leave the system consuming all the internal-bandwith constantly comparing chunk-IDs, trying to see if data is replaced that has been copied numerous times in the past, or trying to play "catch-up" if the new-content is larger than the replica-bandwidth. I guess it should possible to detect those conditions, but they're things to be concerned about.
Anyway the biggest downside with camlistore is documentation about rebalancing, replication, or anything other than simple single-server setups. Some people have blogged about it, and I got it working between two nodes, but I didn't feel confident it was as robust as I wanted it to be.
I have a strong belief that Camlistore will become a project of joy and wonder, but it isn't quite there yet. I certainly don't want to stop watching it :)
On to the more personal .. I'm all about the object storage these days. Right now most of my objects are packed in a collection of boxes. On the 6th of next month a shipping container will come pick them up and take them to Finland.
For pretty much 20 days in a row we've been taking things to the skip, or the local charity-shops. I expect that by the time we've relocated the amount of possesions we'll maintain will be at least a fifth of our current levels.
We're working on the general rule of thumb: "If it is possible to replace an item we will not take it". That means chess-sets, mirrors, etc, will not be carried. DVDs, for example, have been slashed brutally such that we're only transferring 40 out of a starting collection of 500+.
Only personal, one-off, unique, or "significant" items will be transported. This includes things like personal photographs, family items, and similar. Clothes? Well I need to take one jacket, but more can be bought. The only place I put my foot down was books. Yes I'm a kindle-user these days, but I spent many years tracking down some rare volumes, and though it would be possible to repeat that effort I just don't want to.
I've also decided that I'm carrying my complete toolbox. Some of the tools I took with me when I left home at 18 have stayed with me for the past 20+ years. I don't need this specific crowbar, or axe, but I'm damned if I'm going to lose them now. So they stay. Object storage - some objects are more important than they should be!
I always seem to forget this one.
To pass F11 or F12 over a serial connection (either real serial or Serial-over-LAN IPMI), it’s Escape followed by ! (Shift+1) or @ (Shift+') respectively.
Note that on a US keyboard ! and @ would be next to each other above the 1 and 2 keys so that would make some vague kind of sense as alternatives to F11 and F12. But it’s literally the @ that matters and since I’m using a UK keyboard then it is Shift+'.
TL;DR: Most motherboards have a serial header in an IDC-10 (5×2 pins) arrangement with the pins as a row of even numbered pins (2,4,6,8,X) followed by a row of odd numbered pins (1,3,5,7,9). Supermicro ones appear to have the pins in sequential order (6,7,8,9,X and then 1,2,3,4,5). As a result a standard IDC-10 to DB-9 cable will not work and you’ll need to either hack one about or buy the Supermicro one.Are we sitting comfortably?
I bought a Supermicro motherboard. It doesn’t have a serial port exposed at the back. I like to use serial ports for a serial console even though I am aware that IPMI exists. IPMI on this board works okay but I like knowing I can always get to the “real” serial port as well.
The motherboard has a COM1 serial header, and I wasn’t using the PCI expansion slot on the back of the chassis, so I decided to put a serial port there. I bought a typical IDC-10 / DB-9 cable and plate:
Didn’t work. Serial-over-LAN (IPMI) worked alright. On COM1 I would get either nothing or a run of garbage characters from time to time. I wasted a good number of hours messing with BIOS settings, baud rates, checking if my USB serial adaptor actually worked with another device (of which I only have one in my home), before I decided to sit down and check the pin numbering for both the header and the cable.
Looking at the motherboard manual we see this:
And the cable?
Notice anything amiss?
The cable’s pins go in a row of odd numbers and then a row of even numbers:2 4 6 8 X 1 3 5 7 9 -
The X is the missing pin (serial uses 9 pins) and the - indicates where the notch for the connector would be: next to pin 5 in this case.
The header’s pins go in sequential order:6 7 8 9 X 1 2 3 4 5 -
As a result all but pin 1 are incorrect.
You actually need a Supermicro cable for this. CBL-0010L is the part number in my case. CBL-0010LP would be the low profile version. Good luck finding it mentioned on Supermicro’s site, but your favourite reseller will probably know of it. As it was I found one on Ebay for £1.58+VAT, and it works now.
After knowing what to search for I also found someone else having a similar issue with a Supermicro board.
You could of course instead hack any existing cable’s pins about or fit an adaptor in between (as the person in the above link did).
Thanks Supermicro. Thupermicro.
Previously I'd mentioned that we were moving from Edinburgh to Newcastle, such that my wife could accept a position in a training-program, and become a more specialized (medical) doctor.
Now the inevitable update: We're still moving, but we're no longer moving to Newcastle, instead we're moving to Helsinki, Finland.
Me? I care very little about where I end up. I love Edinburgh, I always have, and I never expected to leave here, but once the decision was made that we needed to be elsewhere the actual destination does/didn't matter too much to me.
Given the alternative - My wife moves to Finland, and I do not - Moving to Helsinki is a no-brainer.
I'm working on the assumption that I can keep my job and work more-remotely. If that turns out not to be the case that'll be a real shame given the way the past two years have worked out.
So .. 60 days or so left in the UK. Fun.
Long ago, in days of yore, we assumed that any software worth having would be packaged by the operating system we used. Debian with its enormous pile of software (over 20,000 sources last time I looked) looked to basically contain every piece of free software ever. However as more and more people have come to Linux-based and BSD-based systems, and the proliferation of *NIX-based systems has become even more diverse, it has become harder and harder to ensure that everyone has access to all of the software they might choose to use.
Couple that with the rapid development of new projects, who clearly want to get users involved well before the next release cycle of a Linux-based distribution such as Debian, and you end up with this recommendation to bypass the operating system's packaging system and simply curl | sudo bash -.
We, the OS-development literati, have come out in droves to say "eww, nasty, don't do that please" and yet we have brought this upon ourselves. Our tendency to invent, and reinvent, at the very basic levels of distributions has resulted in so many operating systems and so many ways to package software (if not in underlying package format then in policy and process) that third party application authors simply cannot keep up. Couple that with the desire of the consumers to not have their chosen platform discounted, and if you provide Debian packages, you end up needing to provide for Fedora, RHEL, SuSE, SLES, CentOS, Mint, Gentoo, Arch, etc.etc; let alone supporting all the various BSDs. This leads to the simple expedience of curl | sudo bash -.
Nobody, not even those who are most vehemently against this mechanism of installing software, can claim that it is not quick, simple for users, easy to copy/paste out of a web-page, and leaves all the icky complexity of sorting things out up to a script which the computer can run, rather than the nascent user of the software in question. As a result, many varieties of software have ended up using this as a simple installation mechanism, from games to orchestration frameworks - everyone can acknowledge how easy it is to use.
Now, some providers are wising up a little and ensuring that the url you are curling is at least an https:// one. Some even omit the sudo from the copy/paste space and have it in the script, allowing them to display some basic information and prompting the user that this will occur as root before going ahead and elevating. All of these myriad little tweaks to the fundamental idea improve matters but are ultimately just putting lipstick on a fairly sad looking pig.
So, what can be done? Well we (again the OS-development literati) got ourselves into this horrendous mess, so it's up to us to get ourselves back out. We're all too entrenched in our chosen packaging methodologies, processes, and policies, to back out of those; yet we're clearly not properly servicing a non-trivial segment of our userbase. We need to do better. Not everyone who currently honours a curl | sudo bash - is capable of understanding why it's such a bad idea to do so. Some education may reduce that number but it will never eliminate it.
For a long time I advocated a switch to wget && review && sudo ./script approach instead, but the above comment, about people who don't understand why it might be a bad idea, really applies to show how few of those users would even be capable of starting to review a script they downloaded, let alone able to usefully judge for themselves if it is really safe to run. Instead we need something better, something collaborative, something capable of solving the accessibility issues which led to the curl | sudo bash - revolt in the first place.
I don't pretend to know what that solution might be, and I don't pretend to think I might be the one to come up with it, but I can hilight a few things I think we'll need to solve to get there:
Given the above, no solution can be "just get all the apps developers to learn how to package software for all the OS distributions they want their app to run on" since that way madness lies.
I'm sure there are other minor, and major, requirements on any useful solution but the simple fact of the matter is that until and unless we have something which at least meets the above, we will never be rid of curl | sudo bash - :- just like we can never seem to be rid of that one odd person at the party, noone knows who invited them, and noone wants to tell them to leave because they do fill a needed role, but noone really seems to like.
Until then, let's suck it up and while we might not like it, let's just let people keep on curl | sudo bash -ing until someone gets hurt.
P.S. I hate curl | sudo bash - for the record.
http://baldric.net/2015/06/05/why-pay-twice/ asks why the government hires civilians to monitor social media instead of just giving GC HQ the keywords. Us cripples aren’t allowed to comment there (physical ability test) so I reply here:
It’s pretty obvious that they have probably done both, isn’t it?
This way, they’re verifying each other. Politicians probably trust neither civilians or spies completely and that makes it worth paying twice for this.
Unlike lots of things that they seem to want not to pay for at all…
Indeed my most recent tweet regarding Java could hardly be construed as positive towards it.