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Adam Trickett: Bog Roll: Body Mass

Thu, 02/07/2015 - 22:20

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:

  • Five servings of fruit per day
  • Five servings of vegetables per day
  • Five servings of nuts and/or beans per week
  • One serving of protein per day, lean or oily fish or vegetable based
  • Plenty of fibre, from the food rather than added as a supplement

I've had to exclude:

  • Salt - need to keep to the WHO limit, not the much higher UK limit
  • Caffeine - I don't drink coffee but I can only have very little or no tea, which I do like
  • Added sugars - no added sugars on/to anything
  • Added fat, especially saturated, trans-fats and Palm fat
  • Alcohol - it's got too much energy in it and there isn't space for it in the budget
  • No substitute foods, e.g. fat-free fat or synthetic sweeteners

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.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Adam Trickett: Picasa Web: Guernsey 2015

Thu, 02/07/2015 - 08:00

Long weekend in Guernsey.

Location: Guernsey
Date: 2 Jul 2015
Number of Photos in Album: 82

View Album

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: My new fitness challenge

Thu, 02/07/2015 - 01:00

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.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Adam Trickett: Bog Roll: Guernsey Walking Holiday 2015 (Day 3+4)

Mon, 29/06/2015 - 23:55

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!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Adam Trickett: Bog Roll: Guernsey Walking Holiday 2015 (Day 1+2)

Sat, 27/06/2015 - 21:49

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!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Reproducible Builds get funded by the Core Infrastructure Initiative

Tue, 23/06/2015 - 13:00

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.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Anton Piatek: Hello Pace

Mon, 22/06/2015 - 15:53

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.

There’s going to be some interesting learning, things like DVB are pretty much completely new to me, but at the same time it’s lots of Java and C++ with similar technology stacks involved. Sadly less perl, but more Python so maybe I’ll learn that properly. I’m likely to work with some more interesting Javascript frameworks, in particular Angular.js which should be fun.

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.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: We're all about storing objects

Sun, 21/06/2015 - 01:00

Recently I've been experimenting with camlistore, which is yet another object storage system.

Camlistore gains immediate points because it is written in Go, and is a project initiated by Brad Fitzpatrick, the creator of Perlbal, memcached, and Livejournal of course.

Camlistore is designed exactly how I'd like to see an object storage-system - each server allows you to:

  • Upload a chunk of data, getting an ID in return.
  • Download a chunk of data, by ID.
  • Iterate over all available IDs.

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!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Andy Smith: F11 and F12 over serial

Fri, 19/06/2015 - 21:39

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+'.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Andy Smith: Fun with Supermicro motherboard serial headers

Fri, 19/06/2015 - 17:42
or, “LOL, standards”

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.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: I'm still moving, but ..

Sat, 13/06/2015 - 01:00

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.

Sure Newcastle is the home of Newcastle Brown Ale, and has the kind of proper-Northern accents I both love and miss but Finland has Leipäjuusto, Saunas, and lovely people.

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.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Andy Smith: OneRNG kickstarter arrived!

Sat, 06/06/2015 - 12:43

My OneRNG kickstarter arrived today. I had five units, so I chose three external models and two internal ones. The finish of the external model isn’t really up to the quality of an Entropy Key. Here’s a picture of them together.

Given that the external model looks rather flimsy — I could imagine it getting snapped in half if someone bumped into it — I think I’d probably prefer the internal model in practice. Here’s what that looks like:

The three different connectors are to try to ensure you can find a useful connection angle no matter how your motherboard’s internal USB headers are laid out.

I haven’t yet plugged them in to check out how they work. This is probably going to have to wait a few weeks as I have quite a lot on.

Assuming they work about as well as the Entropy Keys then I only need to keep two of these for myself, so if anyone wants one I would be willing to sell it on to you at cost plus postage.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Anton Piatek: Bye bye big blue

Thu, 04/06/2015 - 11:00

After nearly 10 years with IBM, I am moving on… Today is my last day with IBM.

I suppose my career with IBM really started as a pre-university placement at IBM, which makes my time in IBM closer to 11 years.  I worked with some of the WebSphere technical sales and pre-sales teams in Basingstoke, doing desktop support and Lotus Domino administration and application design, though I don’t like to remind people that I hold qualifications on Domino :p

I then joined as a graduate in 2005, and spent most of my time working on Integration Bus (aka Message Broker, and several more names) and enjoyed working with some great people over the years. The last 8 months or so have been with the QRadar team in Belfast, and I really enjoyed my time working with such a great team.

I have done test roles, development roles, performance work, some time in level 3 support, and enjoyed all of it. Even the late nights the day before release were usually good fun (the huge pizzas helped!).

I got very involved with IBM Hursley’s Blue Fusion events, which were incredible fun and a rather unique opportunity to interact with secondary school children.

Creating an Ubuntu-based linux desktop for IBM, with over 6500 installs, has been very rewarding and something I will remember fondly.

I’ve enjoyed my time in IBM and made some great friends. Thanks to everyone that helped make my time so much fun.

 

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: A brief examination of tahoe-lafs

Thu, 28/05/2015 - 01:00

Continuing the theme from the last post I made, I've recently started working my way down the list of existing object-storage implementations.

tahoe-LAFS is a well-established project which looked like a good fit for my needs:

  • Simple API.
  • Good handling of redundancy.

Getting the system up and running, on four nodes, was very simple. Setup a single/simple "introducer" which is a well-known node that all hosts can use to find each other, and then setup four deamons for storage.

When files are uploaded they are split into chunks, and these chunks are then distributed amongst the various nodes. There are some configuration settings which determine how many chunks files are split into (10 by default), how many chunks are required to rebuild the file (3 by default) and how many copies of the chunks will be created.

The biggest problem I have with tahoe is that there is no rebalancing support: Setup four nodes, and the space becomes full? You can add more nodes, new uploads go to the new nodes, while old ones stay on the old. Similarly if you change your replication-counts because you're suddenly more/less paranoid this doesn't affect existing nodes.

In my perfect world you'd distribute blocks around pretty optimistically, and I'd probably run more services:

  • An introducer - To allow adding/removing storage-nodes on the fly.
  • An indexer - to store the list of "uploads", meta-data, and the corresponding block-pointers.
  • The storage-nodes - to actually store the damn data.

The storage nodes would have the primitives "List all blocks", "Get block", "Put block", and using that you could ensure that each node had sent its data to at least N other nodes. This could be done in the background.

The indexer would be responsible for keeping track of which blocks live where, and which blocks are needed to reassemble upload N. There's probably more that it could do.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Adam Trickett: Bog Roll: Rhubarb Jam

Mon, 25/05/2015 - 19:40

Over the bank holiday weekend I made two batches of jam: rhubarb & ginger and rhubarb & orange. I made a small batch last year - which we've not yet eaten - but it's quite a while since I've made so much and for sale.

This year I remembered to grade the rhubarb first, so that each batch was made from stems of similar diameter, which means that they cook evenly and you don't end up with a heterogeneous mixture - which is bad.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Anton Piatek: Customise your linux prompt

Fri, 22/05/2015 - 13:47

If you use a Linux or Unix box with bash or zsh, and you haven’t come across Liquid Prompt, then I suggest you head there right now to install it. I’m loving having more info on the status line, especially near code version control, but even having cpu load and temperature along with battery life right under where I am typing is really useful

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Anton Piatek: Raspberry pi cloud print server

Mon, 18/05/2015 - 13:43

It turns out that a raspberry pi does a very good job of being a print server for a google cloud printer. Thanks to https://matthew.mceachen.us/blog/add-google-cloudprint-wifi-access-to-your-older-printer-with-a-raspberry-pi-1342.html I can now print at home directly from my phone!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Andy Smith: Has your CurrentCost ever done this?

Fri, 15/05/2015 - 20:35

Update: Replacing the battery and retraining the receiver fixed it. I suppose it must have had enough juice to flash the LED but not transmit.

A few days ago my CurrentCost starting reading just dashes. There’s also no transmitter icon, so I think it’s not receiving anything from the transmitter. It looks like this:

I went and fished the transmitter box out of the meter closet expecting its batteries to be dead, but it still has its red LED flashing periodically, so I don’t think it’s that.

I did the thing where you hold down the button on the transmitter for 9 seconds and also hold down the V button on the display to make them pair. The display showed its “searching” screen for a while but then it went back to how it looks above.

Anyone had that happen before? It’s otherwise worked fine for 4 years or so (batteries replaced once).

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Debian Ruby team sprint 2015

Mon, 11/05/2015 - 23:01

The Debian Ruby Ruby team had a first sprint in 2014. The experience was very positive, and it was decided to do it again in 2015. Last April, the team once more met at the IRILL offices, in Paris, France.

The participants worked to improve the quality Ruby packages in Debian, including fixing release critical and security bugs, improving metadata and packaging code, and triaging test failures on the Debian Continuous Integration service.

The sprint also served to prepare the team infrastructure for the future Debian 9 release:

  • the gem2deb packaging helper to improve the semi-automated generation of Debian source packages from existing standard-compliant Ruby packages from Rubygems.

  • there was also an effort to prepare the switch to Ruby 2.2, the latest stable release of the Ruby language which was released after the Debian testing suite was already frozen for the Debian 8 release.

Left to right: Christian Hofstaedtler, Tomasz Nitecki, Sebastien Badia and Antonio Terceiro.

A full report with technical details has been posted to the relevant Debian mailing lists.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Adam Trickett: Bog Roll: General Election 2015

Sun, 10/05/2015 - 17:01

The UK has just had it's General Election. Labour failed miserably to increase their vote. The SNP picked uploads of votes and seats - mostly as they felt betrayed by the failure of delivery of anything after they agreed to remain in the union. The Liberal Democrats lost votes and seats a plenty as expected. The result is now we have a weak Conservative government with a slim majority - that will no doubt destroy it's self as the swivel-eyed loons on the far right of the party start to make increasingly unrealistic demands on the rest of the party.

The nutters in the home office, with the Liberal Democrat "sanity" checks removed will now demand ever increasing powers to snoop on everything we do, so that they can protect us from what ever problem they have invented to scare us with next...

I now feel compelled to support the Open Rights Group with my money as well as my moral support. If the lunatics aren't stopped then we'll have no civil liberties left.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs