09 Nov

Very Weird Week

This is a techie blog.. stop now if you don’t do geek.

I have had the strangest week with my Ubuntu installation on my Dell. I upgraded to 8.10 and all of a sudden my system stopped talking to the Internet via my network adaptor. Aaaargh! Nowadays a PC with no access to a network is useless, not only do I need the ‘Net to do my work but all my files are not on my work machine but on my file server. A LiveCD of 8.10 had the same problem so I sighed and reinstalled 7.10, reconfigured and started the upgrade back to 8.04. It’s not too awful on Ubuntu, all the apps and stuff comes as part of the install, and then there are the little tweaks and changes I make and I can do most of them from memory. All my data is on the file server so as long as I have a fstab backup then I am ok. It was eerie to see the video driver/kernel problem that scared me silly earlier this year happen before my eyes as 7.10 upgraded itself, broke the video drivers, recovered and then moved to 8.04.. like watching evolution at high speed!

In the end, after various pleas on ‘net forums I began to realise that no-one else had this problem. I also noticed that I was having real problems with DNS lookups and DHCP on my laptop. I switched it to using OpenDNS for DNS (not as easy on a Linux box as I thought it would be if you still want Auto DHCP for the machine IP) and things improved. My suspicion moved to my Orange router.. the second one I have had since the last one seemed to be the cause of my 6 weeks of intermittent Internet earlier this year. So, resisting the temptation to beat it with a branch in Basil Fawlty style, I rebooted it a few times. Oh look, DNS problems gone.. wonder if it was the route all along.

Now.. I thought, it’s time to be sensible and make a full disk image of my PC and have a perfect backup so I can upgrade to 8.10 and if it fails to network I can simple restore my image of my 8.04 setup. I downloaded Clonezilla and made a copy of my partition to another partition. It seemed to work. I rebooted and I got an odd error message but realised that my fstab referred to the backup partition as reiserfs but in fact it was now ext3. I changed it. Or did I? Long story short.. my system has been accessing both the original and backup since they share the sam UUID, a unique partition identifier, which they now both share! I have a working system which I upgraded to 8.10, but the upgrade seems to have gone to the backup disappeared! So.. I have edited BOTH fstabs, stopped using the UUID and moved to /sda1 and /sda3, and I am about to reboot.. wish me luck!

——-> 10 minutes later….

It worked. Mind you.. the 8.10 upgrade has vanished like snow in rain, which is very odd given that I sat here and watched the whole lot download, answered the configuration questions and so on!

——-> 60 minutes later ….

All sorted. Now I have tried a 8.10 Live CD and once again the network adaptor fails! Aaargh. I also noticed that my gnome-terminal failed to run. Have I got a dodgy LiveCD? I am downloading a new one now. In the meantime I think I shall stay with 8.04, after all it is a LTS (long term support) release so it’ll be kept safe and secure and frankly I am quite happy with all that 8.04 has, 8.10 would be nice but not killer.

In the meantime I have installed Debian 5 (lenny) on my laptop.. alongside Ubuntu 8.10 and Puppy 4.. but that is my ‘mess about toy’.. since it really is an old piece of junk.

02 Nov

10 Films to Annoy Geeks and Full Frontal Nerdity

I liked this run down of films likely to annoy the geeks amongst us:

10 Films to Annoy Geeks

I also loved this loving tribute to the gaming geeks amongst us:

Full Frontal Nerdity

Whilst I hate to reduce my chances of winning (I have actually won some VNUnet comps) I’d also love a friend to win a Samsung netbook with a 120GB SSD:

VNU net Samsung Flybook Competition

So, less of a blog and more of a list of links, but hey, somedays that’s all you need.

Now I have to complete a Talislanta adventure and I have 3 hours to stat up a Drakken tomb..

“Fly my monkeys.. Fly!”

25 Oct

20 Years Happy

JoFrom wedding

Ann and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary here at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool. Why? Well this is where we came for our first honeymoon with Michael and Leesa. Why? Well we decided to get married on a Wednesday half term, having already planned to take the kids to see the Blackpool Illuminations at the weekend. We went to the Registry Office, got a special licence and were married on the Friday. Impetuous? Nous?

So.. 20 years have gone by, the Illuminations are much the same. Blackpool has probably decayed somewhat (they spent too long thinking a supercasino would save them) but the key parts are as fun and working class as they ever were. We’re staying at a 4 star hotel and not a B&B, but the wind is still fierce as you wait for the tram to take you down to the Pleasure Beach.

Tonight we saw “Forbidden” at the Globe Theatre at the Pleasure Beach. There is a little secret about shows there… they’re excellent. A dazzling mix of Dita von Tees style burlesque and impressive circus skills, it was entertainment at a West End standard.

The back to the hotel where Ann seems to have a surprise for me.. but that’s not something we need to blog right now..

PS: It was a new neck chain.. and follow the image link if you want to see our original wedding pictures!

15 Oct


Finished reading the ambitious and (in my view) best attempt at a post-singularity roleplaying game: Sufficiently Advanced. I have played this when Dom ran it but didn’t really understand the system. I’ve read the book and now sort of understand the rules, but I am very impressed by how the author has tried to address the huge scalar issues of a SF setting where it isn’t a question of how advanced your civilization’s technology is, but how advanced your civilization has chosen to use.

I am feeling quite odd today, aching, depressed, tired and low. Ah well.

I installed Microsoft Office 2007 on Matt’s XP machine, and Office for the Mac 2008 on my laptop. I will still use OpenOffice and cloesly related NeoOffice myself but I like to see what M$ are up to. As usual Office for the Mac is so much nicer.. I guess the fact that M$ have real competition on OS X makes them try that bit harder. I have changed them all to use the older .doc formats and not the ‘evil’ OOXML .docx etc. but I shall probably not use them, although the Outliner in Word has always been rather nice and missing from OpenOffice.

OpenOffice 3.0 has just been released but since it’ll take a while to filter through the Ubuntu releases, I’ll not upgrade the XP and Mac until it hits the Ubuntu repositories. Thus is the first OO to have a native Mac build, which may threaten NeoOffice but is good news all round.

Off to watch Sliders I think.

13 Oct

Five Days until Furnace

It’s just FIVE days to Furnace 2008 and we have over 70 attendees signed up, over 50 games scheduled and planned, various publishers and traders coming and the ever welcoming gaol cells all warm and welcoming. It’s all hands on at Furnace Central, ensuring we have sign up sheets and flip charts and name badges and the Con book. Hopefull it’s all hands on with you too, digging out your dice, packing your toothbrush and manhandling your rulebooks into a manageable pile. If you’re up on Friday night then gspearing and newt will be in the Garrison bar for ‘pre-Con’ drinks, if not then Tom will see you bright eyed and bushy tailed on Saturday morning. [You bring the bright eyes and bushy tails, I’ll bring the handouts..]

I’m looking forward to it all quite a bit. I’ve carefully ensured I am not running any games so I don’t get under pressure from that, I have some clear tasks to do, and apart from the badges which I am relieved to say darransims has stepped in to do, I am on top of most things. My wish is to relax, ensure that it all runs smoothly, and enjoy some of the very great games that GMs have offered and newt has organised so well.

Oh, and world capitalism ended today.. LOL

13 Oct

Use Skype – Go Directly To A Chinese Prison

A research firm recently revealed that eBay and TOM are colluding with the Chinese government to spy on users of Skype. Together they monitored user’s text chats and stored those containing politically sensitive topics like freedom, democracy, Tibet, opposition to the communist party and Falun Gong. They also track voice call participants. Presumably they turned this data over to the government and it’s impossible to track how that data has been used. I have to say that if this is true, and it seems to be, that once again one cannot trust private companies with your security, let alone states, which I gave up on years ago. Go open source, adopt trust networks, tunnel into private encrypted corners of the ‘Net but don’t trust the Man.

Read more at Michael Robertson’s blog.

03 Oct

I’ve been everywhere, man

Monday: up to Newcastle to start lecturing on the MSc Operations Management and Logictics, went well much to my surprise. Tuesday: lunchtime meeting re possible project, then 5 hours on train and car to Bognor Regis, where I started sorting my colleague’s ICT setup and then spent the night in the Royal Norfolk on Bognor sea front, which was really quite nice. Wednesday: More ICT, teaching the expenses system and setting up wifi printer/scanner. Then off on a slow train to Teddington via Clapham Junction (wow that is a bog station) and another hotel. Thursday: A very productive planning meeting for the Freightwise conference and then on a train to Doncaster to meet Ann. Then to see our grandson Kieran and give him his birthday present, which was the new Star Wars: Force Unleashed and a couple of light sabre add-ons for the Wii. Phew!

On Friday I caught up with my emails and drank a lot of tea!

27 Sep

Newcastle Visit Day

We had a great day taking Matthew and Laura to the Newcastle University Visit Day. Matt was still quite poorly from his operation yesterday but pulled together quite well at midday. He’s discovered just what weird painkillers Tramadol are.. It was quite interesting to me to see my own Uni, which I know very poorly since I am so rarely there, as a visitor. I’d really like to study there, and I am pleased to say so would Matthew. He is now coming round to studying Philosophy and he liked the staff and students he met from the department.

26 Sep

eeePC and Twitter

I am setting up Phil’s eeePC for next week’s ICT trip, it’s lovely but the keys are just too small for my hands, I shall try and get a 10″ one next year. I have setup feeds from twitter to livejournal and facebook, so all I need now is to work out how to feed remember the milk from twitter. [I then decided the twitter to livejournal feeds were just not want you want on a blog.]