Advogato – 5 April 2000

(This is a re-post from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

5 Apr 2000 »

Sick as a doooooooog. There’s something floating around. Had an abortive attempt to go to work. Got there and nearly hurled on one of the managers. Got myself some anti-vomiting syrup from the chemist, and gagged some down. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say – it didn’t help. Went home, rode the porcelain bus for some time before retiring to bed for the rest of the day. The nice cleaners I have came today, so the place is nice and tidy again.
rant du jour: weather

It rained again. Sydney is so wet. Sydney-siders smirk when they talk about Melbourne’s weather, but it’s due to rain in Sydney for the rest of the week, and then Monday and Tuesday next week. In Melbourne, it may be cold, warm, hot, wet, freezing, sunny, overcast, a little hard precipitation (hail 🙂 all in one day, but it does it in small doses. It never really gets mean. The rain is currently pummelling my poor Echo out there. If the sunroof seals ever get loose, I’m going to have to actually put it away in the garage that this house has. I’m usually too slack to do that.

rant du jour deux: open fireplaces

To top it all off, the neighbors next door have started buring wood in their open fireplace. I hate people who burn stuff to make a room “cosy” (or to appeal to their own upper middle class pretensions) when an open fire adds little or no heat value and pollutes my air. In Victoria, my parents do the same thing – they burn some logs a few times a year (which requires them to get the chimney swept) and it smokes out the front of their house and for what? The central heating does a far better job and uses far less gas than the equivalent mass of wood being burnt in the lounge room. Call me unromantic, but I think it’s stupid. If you’re going to burn wood, get a proper wood stove that does the job properly, uses a lot less wood, puts out fewer particulates, and most of all does not let cold air in. Most winter smog is due to polluting open fire places.


I’ve been distracted by reiserfs, work, SAGE-Au duties, and a small amount of social life (and today obviously was a write off).

Duncan’s a busy lad. He’s making a run for pnm2ppa 1.0 all by himself, and that’s cool! He’s fixed all the known bugs, made bi-directional printing the default, added pgm[raw]/pbm [raw], and ppm support in, plugged in some good figures for all the printers. We just have to test them, and see how they fly. It’s good to see a project finally getting close to being finished. The next stage after this is to chop all the support functions out and plonk it inside gs itself. That’ll boost performance again, but not everyone will have that latest version of gs for a while.

Advogato – April 4, 2000

(This post is from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

4 Apr 2000 »

Woa! The diaries are getting out of control. Decided that coding the solution was the correct course of action. Defeated by the far too obvious solution that the GNOME anon cvs details are in the general FAQ and not in the developer area. Maybe tomorrow night – no dang, that’s SAGE- Au National Exec IRC meeting.

Ordinary day at work. Started way too early at 8.15 am. Finished with Burger King. Damn Ian (he of newly minted schoolsnet fame) for getting me hooked on the better burgers there. It is all his fault. See pfb’s diary for more Ian related news.

Loved the caffiene quote (see well below in the diary list), from a fellow 24×7 poisoner.

Signed up a friend for Friend Finder because she’s not ready to make that sort of committment to do it herself.

If you are

  • In Melbourne Australia
  • Can deal with A-grade Catholic Guilt(tm)
  • Don’t mind window shopping in Chapel St on the weekends (but not the two weekends the various Grand Prix’s are on)
  • Can handle interacting serially with her (she’s can be a bit monopolistic on your time), then you too can have a weird girlfriend.

Mail me today if you’re still interested. She’s not as bad (most of the time) as I’ve described, but hey, if you’re taller than her, older than her, and have bizarre extreme sports fetishes (the more dangerous the better), you have a very good chance of landing a long term partner.

Meebles has tried killing my screensaver for like 20 minutes now. The Alpha is really churning out the lissajous figures, and they don’t act like anything Meebles has seen before, and boy is he pissed! Don’t let anyone tell you that a cat’s attention span is about this >< long. 🙂

Advogato – 3 April 2000

(This is a re-post from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

Well, I got my new HFC cable modem installed today by fibbing extensively. I had to lie about the following things: I owned the place, that I was going to use NT 4.0 (as if 🙂 on Intel*, with their crappy SMC ethernet card, and I wasn’t going to run any servers and it was a stand alone installation.

The guy came at 7.45 am, and started work. As soon as he saw all the computers, he knew I was going to be running Linux on it straight after he left, and so he rather nicely gave me a few tips on finding the resources I needed to get Linux working.

So here I am at 11.33 pm, running RedHat 6.1 on my Alpha after having to download and compile Mozilla using the cable modem (which took like 2 mins, god I lurrrve the speed) because Netscape is not available on the glibc/Alpha platform. It’s hooked through Dan’s NetBSD alpha hackbox at the moment, but that’s only temporary. I want a dedicated gateway as he has this nasty habit of a) running simultaneous CVS pulls b) running multiple NetBSD kernel builds on rather busy disks c) doesn’t think a loadavg of 4 is a bad thing. I want a gw that sits at about 0.00 and maybe now and again thinks about a named query. The only bit that I didn’t have to lie about is that we wouldn’t run any servers. Since we have extensive ipfilters in place, it’s unlikely that they will find any. We’re more off the air than the poor WinNT people who leave their NetBT ports open to abuse. I feel for them, I really do.

We also got WAVELan wireless peer to peer running on our laptops. We are officially the geekiest house on the block. I’m like a pig in shit right now. Honest. I lurrrve cable.

I only saw one fashion victim today. Shared with Dan and Ange an excellent bottle of St Hallett’s 1996 Shiraz over dinner at the ever reliably unreliable Pino’s. Fantastic – the bottle not the meal, in which the service was at really bad French restaurant bad levels. Not snooty just incompetent.

The most recently nightly snapshot of Mozilla M15 (pre I think) is rather dodgy on the Alpha. I’ll have to fix some bugs by the look of things. Bugger. I have plenty on my plate already. But I need a good browser. Also, green is a real sucky selection color.

* if the worst came to the worst, I have an actual Win2K license. The installer had seen this work, too. But luckily, all it takes is one extra argument to dhclient, and we’re off!

Advogato – 1 April 2000

(This is a re-post from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

1 Apr 2000 »

Went to breakfast this afternoon, and saw a Very Weird Thing. The table next to me was occupied by what I thought was a guy and his teenage daughter. Nothing remarkable about that until they started holding hands about 10 minutes before they left. She couldn’t have been a day older than 16, he in his forties. If I were jwz, I’d have something profound to say, but I’m not, so I don’t.

Working on porting the reiserfs/utils to my Alpha. Getting sentimentally attached the uptime figure. 28 days and growing. Soon I’ll have to disable it booting into runtime level 5, and start testing reiserfs as I’ll have no excuse not to reboot.

Have to agree with schoen’s assertion that if you don’t know what you’re doing (or in my case) your parents are pressuring you to go to uni directly from high school – don’t do it. Take a year off and evaluate what you want to do. I still don’t have my degree 11 years after starting, and four years after giving up. I should never have bothered with my CS degree, and spent a year really thinking about what I want to do and how to get there from here. Now, I need a degree (eventually), and it basically has to be management focused (an MBA would be good, but need to get past the lack of undergraduate qualifications) as I’m being paid extremely well – at the top of the CS profession tree without being management. The only way for me to progress is up the slimely management ladder, and I do not have the necessary bits of paper that would help there.

1 Apr 2000 »

Bad flame war going on between BSD and GPL bigots/trolls on the reiserfs mail list. Get over it guys.

The Queen of England left Australia today, and our disgusting government leaks a report that claims there was no stolen generation. This is like a right wing party in Germany declaring that there was no holocaust. The Liberal Party must get serious about reconcilliation. This was a day after they started in on the UN about “interfering with the internal affairs of a nation”. Australia is not China, Burma, Iraq – the Libs are losing it. I hope the Queen enjoyed her stay and that by the next time she comes by, we’ll be a republic. She’s even obliquely said that she doesn’t care what we do, so basically that’ll take the wind out of the wings out of the misguided monarchists.

I read about Jason Haas’s bad car accident at Get well soon, Dude, and Cassie is an example of strength to us all.

Advogato – 30 March 2000

(This is re-post from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

30 Mar 2000 »

I managed to get reiserfs 3.6.3 to compile out of the box last night on Mr Alpha. Good work, fellas 🙂 There’s a small number of problems, and I’m expecting some oops’s once I load the sucker, but it’s compiled, and that’s good. Some changes to the CVS today by Chris Mason from Suse should allow me to recompile and not fret.
Meebles spent the night outside, and his tail is getting better. The rats he has killed in the last week are putrifying in the rubbish bin in a plastic bag. It’s really smelly. Bad cat.

Greebo has decided that inside my bed is warmer than outside it – something she hasn’t done since spring last year. I hope that I’m not squishing her in the middle of the night. It’s also probably quieter than on top of the doona due to my snoring being muffled.

On the work front, it’s my last day at my current client. That’s sad, as they have mucho bandwidth, which I will miss. They’re also a great bunch of people. It’s not everyday that you get a good client.

Advogato – 29 March 2000

(This is from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

29 Mar 2000 »

Went home about 21.00 last night and downloaded and compiled 2.3.99pre3 on my Alpha. Eventually, I managed to find a set of config options that compiles with minimal warnings, and better yet links. If I cared enough about kernel development, I’d do something more. Submitting patches to lk seems so haphazard as well.

Now the trick is to see if the latest CVS sources of reiserfs is willing to patch cleanly against pre3. I am going to hack that sucker until it works on the Alpha. The guys are busy cleaning up Intel-isms in the code, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Once it works on two architectures, I think Linus will accept the code as an experimental filesystem for 2.5. Once the Alpha is done, we need a sparc or PPC port to fill out the trifecta.

We’ve had our first report of pnm2ppa causing a box to hang whilst printing. This is a first. I think it might be a hardware issue, but I don’t have the first clue right now.

The cats spent the night outside since they didn’t come when called. Meebles’ tail is getting better – this morning he was able to swish it and react when I tried tickling the tip. So no tail amputation for Meebles! YAY! (I hate my Cat Slave’s Big Book of Cat Hypochrondria for suggesting that a tail amputation might be necessary. That really freaked me out).

Off home now to go hack 2.3.99pre3 with the latest reiserfs CVS patches and see if I can bring up a reiserfs module under the Alpha. Should be a fun night. I’ve downloaded Alan Cox’s latest bunch of patches, but I couldn’t find the pre4-1 patch. I need to pay more attention to the secret places they stash stuff. Why can’t l.k. use a CVS tree like everyone else? But from the mail list for the last day or so, pre4-1 is looking decidedly dodgy, and I already have pre3 compiled and ready to test.

Advogato – 28 March 2000

(This post is a re-post from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

28 Mar 2000 »

Worked until 23.30 last night. Too buggered to even look at the Alpha. Trying to figure out which of my PC’s will have the Wavelan card fitted. Solution: the quietest one so it stay in my bedroom.
Adding mucho paper sizes is harder than first thought. I tried doing auto-detection, but gs provides ppm images only as big as they need to be, so autodetection is off the agenda.

Duncan gave me some good ideas on robust paper handling (that wont result in das blinking lights (a HP PPA owner in-joke)), and it looks as 0.9.0 is going to become a reality soon.

Reading through the responses to my post about enums on, I have the C system programmer weenie brigade ignoring the real problems with #define vs typedef enum. They believe (and in the kernel, I can grant them) that enums don’t work in an assembly environment. But in programs, I totally disagree with these maintainance nightmares. #define is Evil(tm), and that’s the end of the discussion.

Advogato – 27 March 2000

(This is re-posted from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

27 Mar 2000 »

Working on adding all sorts of nifty paper sizes into pnm2ppa in auto-detect papersize and DPI stuff. Should be cool and allow us to silently drop support for paper size switches. Once that’s in, maybe I’ll convince the other guys that we need to move closer to 0.92 or similar.

The stuff that pays the bills is getting long too. Documentation, documentation, documentation.

The weekend is getting busy. I’ll have to learn how to program Mr Video Recorder again. Organised cat care for Easter.

Did I mention that everyone’s at IETF in Adelaide, and I’m bored because there’s no one home to play CivCTP or Alpha Centauri with? At least Dan’s getting me a 11 mb/s wireless LAN card so we can geek without cables. It’s bad when a single house and its inhabitants (Population 2 Cats 2 People 7 computers) needs more than a 8 port hub. I’m thinking the next piece of comms gear after the Wavelan stuff is a 10/100 Mb/s Netgear 16 port switch. Either that or I’ll end up getting myself a 80 cm TV as the 34 cm TV is a joke.

Advogato – 26 March 2000

(This is a re-post from Advogato, which I no longer use.)

26 Mar 2000 »

Decided to have a weekend to myself for once. Had a big Friday night, involving much Guiness. Had breakfast early on Saturday for once, and then drove to Bondi for lunch with Dan and Ange. Bondi was as superficial as ever and had the customary annoying Mor(m)on.
Drove Dan and Ange to Ange’s place, and since it was part of the way to Wollongong, drove to Wollongong. Didn’t get the fang out of me there, so continued on. Stopped eventually in Batesman’s Bay, some 200 km south of Sydney and 150 km east of Canberra. Had a cheap vietnamese meal there and saw Hanging up. Sad movie – take a tissue or two.

The alternatives were to drive back the way I came, or via Canberra. Went via Canberra. Excellent fang. I think it’s out of me now. Drove around inner city Canberra for twenty minutes trying to find a petrol station (Echo’s have to be filled occasionally, and mine was approaching 500 km). None really, so pottered off to the Hume highway. Got petrol at Goulbourn, 630 km from my starting point, whilst still having about 10 litres left (about 140 km to spare). I love fuel efficiency.

Drove home from Goulbourn, eventually crawling into my driveway at 3 am to share my bed with two damp and hungry little felines.

Sunday was a complete waste. I was going to spend some time working with Reiserfs and my secret project for it on my Alpha, but since I slept in until 3 pm old time (2 pm non-DST time), I decided to rip through Crytonomicon instead. Good choice. Tried seeing the Insider but not on any more. Bad. Went to Burger King to make up for the loss.

SAGE Advice – First Editorial

[ I took over editing the SAGE-AU journal for a while ]



Well, this is my first go at being SAGE Advice’s editor; so hopefully, I won’t screw up too badly. Thanks to Donna Ashelford for all her efforts these past couple of years and Lee Monette who continues assembling the copy and doing all the hard yards in pre-press.

Correction Time


You may be shocked, but occasionally I make mistakes. However, in striving for perfection, … oh yes, I made a mistake. Simon Hancock of Praxa wrote to me after the publication of the last newsletter and pointed out a mistake that I’d made in my previous article in SAGE-Advice. Instead of each regional office having three class A’s, as stated, it was one class B subnetted from the CIDR network. Just the facts ma’am.


W. Richard Stevens  1951-1999


William Richard Stevens died on September 1, 1999. He wrote or co-authored seven books, three RFCs, and other papers, including the seminal “Unix Network Programming” and of course the “TCP/IP Illustrated” series. He contributed immensely to the ‘net, bootstrapping knowledge of arcane networking to computing professionals everywhere. It’s sad to see the passing of yet another “great” in the Internet world, with Jon Postel passing on last year.


However, it’s also especially sad to see the deterioration of social grace in online communities, such as slashdot. It might surprise you to know that Slashdot used to be a firm favorite of mine. But a substantial minority of the slashdot “community” reacted to Richard Stevens’ death in a way that just shocked me. I think I’ll quote Tom Christansen, a noted perl hacker:


Good bye, Rich. Good Riddance, Slashdot


In my nearly two decades of habitation upon the Arpanet and its descendents, never before have I ever had the misfortune to witness so distressing a thread of messages as these. This unspeakably sickening invective against so kind a man, a man whom most of you never even knew, can have no other effect than to boggle the mind, wound the heart, and taint the soul with a nauseous stench.


Rich was always gentleman: pleasant, helpful, and courteous. Despite his fame and his skill, no prima donna was he. He was never bitter nor spiteful, never arrogant nor condescending. His humor and his insights inspired many of us, and not merely in our programming.


In the last few years that I came to know Rich a bit better as we shared a meal at random conferences scattered about the globe, I was always impressed by his irrepentantly positive attitude. Whatever the tale he told, whether a personal one relating to his children or his delightful rediscovery of the piano, a professional one related to programming and computers, or simply some incidental anecdote, that tale he presented with a childlike delight and glee. Rich displayed a perpetually positive attitude rare in a man even half his age. He was uplifting merely to be around.


Never was I so honored as on that day when Rich lamented not bringing his Perl Cookbook with him so he could get my autograph on it. I was deeply touched and completely surprised. Rich is acknowledged in the credits for his indirect help in preparing that book from our discussions of troff and systems programming matters. Despite his good taste and obvious skill, he had been for some time using Perl for various daily jobs. It’s true that Rich had minor issues with Perl’s cleanliness, but these were subsumed by the practical concerns of simply getting a job done easily and quickly. In short, it worked and he used it, and he was thankful it saved him time. The very things that the HTML crowd find hardest with Perl — its Unix roots and proclivities — Rich found immediately familiar and obvious. I am proud that I had ever so small a part in helping out a man who had tremendously helped me and thousands of others.


It is with nothing less than complete shock and surpassing shame that I have read here what so many insensitive malcontents have cruelly and unjustly scrawled. Doubtless these are the same twisted perverts who torture kittens and kick pregnant mothers, a sickness upon this medium and this planet. I hope these sociopaths find help soon, or at least remove themselves from the company of men and the gene pool.


Forget not this one inescapable fact: that where Rich has gone, so too inexorably goes each and every one of you walking shadows, and tragically sooner than you dare fathom. May you be remembered in the same measure as have you remembered those who preceded you down that lonesome path to dusty death.


It does not take a particularly compassionate and sensitive person to be sickened and hurt by these inexpressibly horrible postings. It takes nothing but a decent and caring human being, the sort of which we seem to have so few of these days–and today, to our loss, one fewer.






I’m happy to receive feedback on how I’m going, or just to have a whinge at the world in general. Please mail me at The good stuff will be printed in the next SAGE Advice.


On a personal note, I truly wish you, your friends and family a merry Christmas and a happy new year. For the cynics among you, this can be read as: I hope you can stand your family, and have a good time despite the impending Christmas/New Year’s consumer splurge^W^W holidays. Happy shopping at the sales and try not to work on New Year’s Eve unless you’re doing it to avoid boring parties elsewhere. May all your toy dreams come true and there’s a big bag of Lego MindStorms waiting in your Christmas stocking*.


Happy holidays, stay safe and see you next year!

Andrew van der Stock

* Links the Office Cat tells me that it is traditional not to be so cynical about the Christmas holidays. I’ll stop being cynical when the churches are full, shops aren’t open 24 hours a day the week prior to Christmas eve and pre-Christmas promotions aren’t available in August.