Dispatches from Andyland "Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever!" — The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

January 28, 2007

A game like rock-paper-scissors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 8:14 pm

Abbie  wanted me to write about a game we were just playing. Its called  “bear-coyboy-ninja”. Its similar to  rock-paper-scissors but  instead of hand movements, you use your whole body.    I think I first learned of this variation from a former co-worker.

January 15, 2007

A way to lose more brain cells then I have in a long time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 11:15 pm

A week or so ago, Apple was giving away the audiobook version of The Areas of my Expertise. I listened through the whole thing in two to three days, and during that time, and for a few days afterwards, I had the oddest sensation. Nearly every conversation that I was in, I was trying to remember if the facts I were remembering where true, or if they were some of the made up stories that came from the book. The book is so full of plausible lies told in such a deadpan authority that its facts seem just as real as most of the things I’ve learned over my life.

When Hodgman describes the book as total fabrication with the occasional true fact, he sort of exaggerating things (Who would have thought?) For example, when describing Boston, he discusses a red painted line through the city called the Freedom Trail. He describes it as going past “Paul Revere’s home, Faneuil Hall, the site of the Boston Massacre, the preserved corpse of Crispus Attucks, the Cheers bar,then straight on to Moscow“. The first couple sound right. The last one is obviously a fib. Somewhere in the middle though, I start questioning myself. I know the Bull and Finch Pub isn’t an actual stop on the Freedom Trail, but it seems reasonable that it might pass by that portion of Beacon Street. The grave of Crispus Attucks sounds like it would be on the Freedom Trail, but why would the remains be preserved?

Within a few days after finishing the book, the feeling started to go away. Facts that I remembered started  differentiating themselves, and things started going back to normal. The only remaining side effect is hearing a phrase and thinking to myself, “that would make a good hobo name.”

January 11, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 3:30 pm

I started reading Study: Procrastination is getting worse (I didn’t bother to get all the way through it yet, maybe later) but off the bat found one thing odd.

After 10 years of research on a project that was only supposed to take five years, a Canadian industrial psychologist found in a giant study that not only is procrastination on the rise, it makes people poorer, fatter and unhappier.

So the people who are studying the effects of procrastination can’t even get thing done one time?

January 1, 2007

The advantages/disadvantages of Linux LVM.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 10:43 pm

I had to add more disk space for the /home directory on the machine that has everyone’s data. It wound up not being that hard to do, since the disks are LVM. Unfortunately, since it isn’t something I’ve dealt with all that frequently I spent more time reading up on things than I actually spent doing it. Actually, there were a bunch of small wrong moves, but the end turned out OK.

At first, I thought I needed to attach another disk, so I broke out an unused ATA disk I’ve had around for a couple of months and put it in a firewire enclosure. Then when I went to partition it, I found out that the existing disk in the machine had a fair amount of unused disk space that was unpartitioned.

I can perfectly imagine me leaving the unpartitioned space on purpose. “Well, I don’t need it now, I don’t know where I’ll need it when I do use it, and the system has LVM support. Why don’t I just save it until I need it, and then add it onto the system then. Unfortunately, there is a difference between imagining why I did it and remembering that I did it in the first place.
OK, so now I’ll save the firewire drive for later. I have a couple of other machines it can be used for. After creating a new partition for the unused disk space, and after I read up on LVM to remind myself about it, adding a new partition is pretty simple:

pvcreate /dev/hda12 # mark this as available for LVM use.
vgextend system /dev/hda12 # add it to the volume group
vgdisplay #to find how much space was added to the volume group
lvextend -L694 /dev/system/home # give the space to /home’s volume
umount /dev/system/home
resize2fs /dev/system/home # tell the filesystem to the extra space
mount /dev/system/home

Simple. The free space for /home went from 100% down to 51%, and I’m set.

Then buyer’s remorse sets in. I’m not going to double the space use for /home really quickly (after all, it took years to get there.) and /usr although not at them brim yet, at 94% may be the next candidate. So I decide to scale back /home a little bit. That’s a bit tougher though. Adding disk space can be done without all of any sort of annoyingly minute but critical disk space calculations. The default for resize2fs is to look at the size of the disk that it is on and extend it by that exact amount. To reduce an ext3 filesystem under LVM, you need to first tell resize2fs to shrink the filesystem by a certain block size (in its 4K blocks) and then tell lvreduce to take away a number of its blocks (in its own 4M blocks size). If you give the wrong numbers you either lose data or lose disk
space. What I wound up doing was using resize2fs to around back to the original size (taking the “used space” value of df, dividing it by 4K, and using that as the number of blocks. (I got it wrong the first time, got a No space left on device error and then used a slightly higher value.) I then use lvreduce to change things to the size I really wanted and resize2fs once more with the defaults to increase it to the logical volume’s size.

All in all, setting everything up as LVM helps things out a lot. Having a highly partitioned system allowed me to run for a while with /home full, because /var still had enough room and the system could still run. Its easy to add more space (even from multiple disks). But on the other hand, since this isn’t something that I do frequently, I need to refamiliarize myself with it each time I touch it. It makes it a bit easier to mess around with things (If I had to add disk space to /home by adding another disk, copying everything from the old home to the new one, etc then that buyer’s remorse thing would have ended right there.) but the details (like how many ext2 blocks do you take away when you remove 362 extents from a volume?) become more important.

Things I managed to accomplish on my vacation from work

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 10:19 pm

Before I left work for a week off, I kept on telling people that we were heading to Cape Cod to “unplug from the grid”, and we figured we’d stay there until we either got on each other’s nerves, or decided that we really liked the grid. In reality, I wound up bringing my work laptop, with EV-DO card, VPN, etc and wound up checking in on work every day. Then when we got back home, I stopped checking in at work. Oh well.

One of the reasons we wound up leaving was because Abbie had an ear infection. She was up nearly all night Thursday night, and so we went home Friday to see the doctor. She is usually fairly medicine-phobic, but she’s doing better this time for a couple of reasons. The doctor explaining that she want her ears to be better in time for the airplane trip to Florida, and that she wants to be all better to go to Disney World and see the princesses. She also went to the pharmacy and got to pick out the FlavorX flavoring to add to the amoxicillin. (Its funny how if you give a bunch of limited choices, the wider ranging choices aren’t noticed. “Do you want you medicine to be grape, banana, or chocolate flavored?” “Do you want to walk to bed, have a piggy back ride or do you want to crawl to the room like bears?”)

I didn’t get to work much on my off-and-on SNMP project, but when I looked at the latest releases of some of the components, I did find out that they’ve added python bindings to Net-SNMP 5.4. I’ve submitted a couple of patches to it. One issue I have is that it assumes to use the python that is first found in your PATH, so it is difficult to use with an application where you build a special purpose python solely for its use. The other patch is to avoid having a prerequisite on the python setuptools package. (The developer’s of setuptools have a neat feature where you can include a small bootstrap module called ezsetup.py that can check if setuptools already exists, and if not download a temporary copy and use it.)

I got one out of two Linux boxes upgraded from Suse 10.0 to Suse 10.2. Maybe I’ll get to the other one tonight.

I needed to read up a bit on Linux LVM to give more disk space for the /home directory that everyone’s files are on, and that could probably be a post of its own. I do find it amusing that when looking at what I did last time for the LVM setup, the timestamps are all from December 30, 2006. That probably means that it was last years winter vacation project.
Read a bit from some Equal Rites, Godel Escher Bach, The Essence of SQL, Mind Performance Hacks, Essential SNMP, and Do Fish Drink Water, but didn’t finish any of them. (unless you count The Essence of SQL or Essential SNMP, since I was re-reading those.)

And this is rounded out by a bit of work around the house, a fair amount of time visiting my parent’s house, and a fun (but early ending) New Year’s Eve party for us and the kids at Michelle’s friend Patti’s house.

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