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August 2002
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Thursday, 1 August 2002 Echunga Images for 1 August 2002
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Still more activity with AUUG today. The following day, I discovered:

        On 1 August 2002 you received 1924 mail messages and sent 100 mail messages.
      

I don't know when I last sent that many mail messages.

The instant workstation is really a pain. Well, it's OK, but it relies on ports which seem to be pretty flaky in their build process. I think the ports people need to agree on a core set of ports which must build properly; it's difficult to tell the Debian crowd how good our collection is if they don't build.

Greg Rodgers has also come up with some strange problems running JFS1 on 64 bit PPC; there's nothing obvious that could be wrong, and I just didn't have time to look at it.


Friday, 2 August 2002 Echunga –> Melbourne
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Up early this morning, since Qantas had changed my flight. Absolute catastrophe! echunga had paniced in the late evening, sydney, the laptop I was going to take with me, had frozen, and it proved that air-gw was also not responding. Since it doesn't have a console, it's not very clear what was wrong with it, but power cycling brought it back. It seems that when the system is down, any dhcp activity over an Orinoco 802.11b card causes a watchdog timeout:

Aug  2 06:02:21 sydney /kernel: wi0: timeout in wi_seek to fc80/0; last status ffff
      

This was before I discovered that air-gw was hanging, and I thought that was a hardware problem and changed the card. Another annoyance is the error message that a second invocation of dhclient creates. It starts sensibly enough:

Aug  2 06:03:36 sydney dhclient: Can't bind to dhcp address: Address already in use
      

Unfortunately, it follows this up with another 22 lines of advice, all written to the console and most over 80 characters long, so the original message just gets lost.

Tried to find out what went wrong with echunga, but it seems that I have lost the debug kernel during the disk and tape crash a couple of weeks ago, so couldn't look in any detail. Seems to have been an inconsistency in soft updates during last night's dump. I can't see how it can have anything to do with the dump, though, since soft updates aren't enabled on that file system. I'll have to investigate when I get home.

Then breakfast, and Yana reminded me to contact Qantas. Yes, still flying, so off to the airport, where once again I was stopped by security complaining about a corkscrew. Damn, forgot that, so had to get Yvonne to pick it up. Then off to Melbourne, discovering on the way that I had another corkscrew in the bag as well. These security checks are just a bloody nuisance, and I'm sure they wouldn't stop a determined criminal.

Got to Melbourne before Liz, and went looking for the Virgin Blue terminal. This place is really badly signposted, and there seems to be no information counter outside the secure area. I had to ask two people before I found the terminal, and that Liz wouldn't be there for another hour.

Into town and checked into the Duxton Hotel, where we're going to hold our conference next month. After that out and walked around a bit. Inside Flinders St. station for the first time in decades; it seems to have changed completely. The only part I recognize is the North-East entrance.

Liz and Adrian in later, and we did a bit of talking, planning the network, and talking to the facilities people. Things look like they're under control.

In the evening, Mark White, Stephen Boucher and Enno Davids also turned up. Had dinner in the restaurant, which was not too bad, but also not too cheap.


Saturday, 3 August 2002 Melbourne Images for 3 August 2002
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Down to breakfast with Liz, and we were soon joined by Gordon Hubbard and a little later by Sarah Bolderoff. Gordon has been doing a pretty good job of getting publicity for AUUG, with the result that I was able to recognize him from the newpaper photos.

The meeting got off to a reasonable start. We had already been discussing whether the meeting would be shorter because we had already discussed things on Email, or longer because people were getting more involved. The latter proved to be the case. In any case, we certainly have a very different group of people from the last two years. It'll be interesting to see how things go.

After the meeting, off to the other side of town. Sarah had not been able to get a room at the Duxton for tonight, so took her and Emil over to the place we stayed at in November 2000. Then to the Pepper Chili restaurant, where we had already been with Michael Paddon last time we were in Melbourne. The food is good, but I was left with a lingering feeling that we should have tried some other good place.

Another big difference between this board and the last is that people aren't interested in going out for drinks after dinner. Even Sarah has stopped drinking. Ended up heading back down Flinders St. with Adrian, he on his way home, when we bumped into Mark White with Luce Napoletano, now called Chandon, and their wives. I haven't seen Luce for years. but I had just been talking to Adrian about him a few minutes before. There are some funny coincidences in life.


Sunday, 4 August 2002 Melbourne –> Echunga
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Up and off to the airport without too much trouble this morning. At the airport, though, I had my now-usual run-in with the security guards. I had already given Adrian my other corkscrew, but this time they took exception to my screwdrivers. When I asked them what they were going to prohibit next week, the supervisor, a certain Alfred Zammit, said “don't be a smartarse”. There's a basic problem with this approach to security: apart from this attitude, which seems popular in Melbourne, there's the issue that they fail to even screen things properly. We called his supervisor, and I repeated my question, showing the contents of my bag of tricks, and he found a lot of other things, including a knife that I didn't know I had. But they would have let me through with them if I hadn't drawn their attention to them. At least this time I was able to check it in without any trouble, getting a free carrier bag in the process.

Back home spent my time trying to catch up on the accumulated mail, and spent most of the afternoon making only a slight dent in it. Yvonne had decided that we'd eat another choucroute garnie, and spent some time on that, with much less success than last time: apart from more proportion problems (I overcompensated), we also had a different kind of Sauerkraut, a “Sauerkraut Mild” from Germany which tasted of nothing. Why do the Germans make these things? It's like German cheese, which could just as well be made out of plastic.


Monday, 5 August 2002 Echunga
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Things are just getting ridiculous lately. I haven't had time to do any real work, and mail keeps flooding in. The AUUG Conference is bad enough, but the articles I published in Dæmon News have also elicited a surprising amount of feedback. It's becoming a full-time task just keeping up with my Email.

Fired up pita to investigate Greg Rodgers' problems with JFS1, but didn't get enough time to find out what was going on.


Tuesday, 6 August 2002 Echunga
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Work's letting up a bit now, and about time. Had time to deal with both the AUUG stuff and also (finally!) Greg Rodgers' JFS1 bug, though I need feedback from him before I know if it's fixed. I don't really feel like installing 64 bit Linux on sphinx right now.

Also started reinstalling FreeBSD on sydney. Somehow there's too much messing around needed with an upgrade, and sydney has been patched and modified for two years now, long enough for both batteries to fail completely.


Wednesday, 7 August 2002 Echunga
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A relatively calm day, which gave me a chance of getting some more work done on my book. Nevertheless, AUUG is still keeping me pretty busy.


Thursday, 8 August 2002 Echunga
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Just when I thought things had calmed down, we had problems with the proceedings for the AUUG conference. Traditionally, we haven't had submission guidelines, and as a result converting the papers to a consistent form has been a nightmare. Today we discovered that many of the diagrams are at a completely unacceptable resolution. And, of course, today was also the day the final copy was due at the printers. Spent most of the day attending to that and trying to cool frayed tempers (OK, trying not to fray other people's tempers more than I can help).

Did get some work done on my book, though. sendmail keeps changing, and none of the examples in the last edition work any more. sigh.


Friday, 9 August 2002 Echunga
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Gradually our proceedings crisis is dying down, though we're not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately there seems to be some resentment; hopefully we can clean that up.

Spent most of the day working on the book. Things are looking closer now. I need to get some review copies out so that people can look at them.


Saturday, 10 August 2002 Echunga
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It's still late winter, but spring is definitely in the air. The daffodils are in full bloom, and today the Bureau of Meteorology predicted a maximum temperature of 22° in Mount Barker. After all the stress and frustration of the last few days, decided to give work a miss and go riding instead, the first time in over a month. Nevertheless, Darah went very well, though she tried to spook a few times. I have a suspicion that Arabs aren't nearly as spooky as people claim, they're just trying it on.

The combination of winter coat, mild temperatures and long and tiring gallops showed, though: both Darah and Scarlett were dripping wet after a little over an hour, though that didn't stop them from wanting more. We thought, though, that it was enough for their current state of training, and got back home after less than two hours. It was certainly enough for Yvonne and myself: we were completely exhausted by the time we got home, and we got quite an early night. We should do this more often.


Sunday, 11 August 2002 Echunga
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Another quiet day. Spent a lot of time working on my book, which is now coming on reasonably well. Also found a little utility to monitor the motherboard temperature and voltage parameters, sysutils/xmbmon. It displays a window with the parameters motherboard temperature, CPU temperature, chipset temperature (in some cases) and core voltage, unfortunately in colours that you can hardly recognize:

xmbmon screen shot

It took a little while to massage the X resources tuned to where I could read them (the core voltage was off the scale in the example above). Now I have:

xmbmon screen shot

It's interesting to compare the values. The examples above are from echunga, which doesn't seem to heat up much. Here are wantadilla and daemon:

xmbmon screen shot xmbmon screen shot

wantadilla runs FreeBSD 5-CURRENT, so the CPU doesn't halt; that shows up in the high CPU temperature (46.5° C, virtually unchanging). daemon, on the other hand, is running 4-STABLE, so when it's idle it halts, and the CPU temperature drops to about 24°, effectively room temperature. This example shows what happens when I run a make world on it. It started about half way across the graph. Interestingly, the chipset temperature rises more than the CPU temperature.

Geoffrey Bennett along in the afternoon to pick up the TiVo Ethernet card he lent me last year. At the time he had been trying to debug his own TiVo and had borrowed an oscilloscope for this purpose. Today he told me that this had only helped identify the chip which appeared to be defective. He had taken the device to Philips, who hadn't been able to repair it, but they did refund him the entire purchase price. Considering he had bought it in the USA, that it was nearly a year old, and that Geoffrey had ripped out the US tuner and replaced it with an Australian one, I find that quite impressive. But then, he's the bloke who sparked off the Microsoft Refund Day.


Monday, 12 August 2002 Echunga
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As always, getting the proceedings finished is dragging. Spent a fair amount of time on that today, but also had time to work on my book. It's amazing the number of rough edges you find when you try to document how to do something. In many ways, the ports collection is more difficult to use now than it was when the last edition was published.


Tuesday, 13 August 2002 Echunga
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Yet another day consecrated to AUUG. I'll be glad when this conference is over. We nearly have the proceedings finished, and other things are moving apace. In addition, we finally managed to get messages out offering member mail IDs @auug.org.au, and also slave DNS servers. So far I seem to be the only person to take advantage of the latter service. On the down side, I didn't get anything else done all day.


Wednesday, 14 August 2002 Echunga
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The strain of the last few days is beginning to show. Woke up this morning feeling exhausted, and it took several hours before I was really awake.

More of the same today, but also did some testing on the JFS1 stuff and found that my Linux boxes wouldn't boot again. I don't know what it is about them; in the last four months I've had more trouble booting Linux than I have in ten years booting BSD. My Ozlabs friends suspect a hostile attitude of the BSD boxes. Ended up on doing my testing on sat-gw, which mercifully hasn't given any trouble in nearly five months.

The problem with the inode bloat turned out to be the timestamps. Unlike most file systems, they're struct timespec, which has the distinct advantage of having a resolution of one nanosecond. But Linux defines struct timespec like this:

struct timespec {
    time_t  tv_sec;     /* seconds */
    long    tv_nsec;    /* nanoseconds */
};

That's wonderful on a 64 bit machine: time_t remains 32 bits, but long is 64 bits, and on the PPC it's on a 64 bit boundary. Not only does this double the size of the structure from 8 to 16 bytes, but it also places other following structures on wrong boundaries, so the inode structure increases in size from 128 to 160 bytes. AIX has obviously run into the same problem: in the headers you can read

#ifndef __64BIT_KERNEL
    struct timespec    di_atime_ts;
#else
    struct timestruc32_t  di_atime_ts;
#endif
      

I don't believe that's the correct way to handle it. There's no reason for tv_nsec to be more than 32 bits: it would effectively fit into a u_int_30 if there were such a beast (UNIVAC 494, for example).

To town in the evening for the last AUUG chapter meeting at IBM. Internode is moving to new premises in the middle of town, and Simon Hackett has offered his facilities for the meetings. This will alleviate a number of security concerns.

Attendance was good again, probably because Geoffrey Bennett was demonstrating his TiVo, which once again, after all this time, proved very interesting.


Thursday, 15 August 2002 Echunga
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Things are gradually quietening down, and a good thing too. Finally we have a final draft of the proceedings for the conference, and sent them out for a final review. Tomorrow they go to the printers.

That reminded me that I still haven't done the slides for my presentation, and spend most of the day doing that. For once, it wasn't too difficult, but it'll still keep me busy.

Also did some work trying to get FreeBSD up and running on my Duron box. For some reason, probably related to the motherboard chipset, it doesn't work very well. Spent most of the afternoon copying data around.


Friday, 16 August 2002 Echunga
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Got a couple of voice mails from a bloke in San Francisco during the night. He has managed to blow away the partition table on his system, but he thinks the file systems themselves are still there. I thought it strange that there is no program out there to recover this situation, so spent a fair proportion of time writing one. The result is a bit kludgy, but it recognizes MS-DOS and UFS slices, and also Vinum drives, and prints out suitable information to rebuild the partition table or Vinum configuration. Despite everything, it seems that the Microsoft information is wrong; based on the information in the header files, the 3 GB Microsoft partition on sydney is only 328 sectors long. Other information is correct, so I obviously have the wrong definitions.

More talk about the struct timespec stuff today. It's interesting that both AIX and FreeBSD have the same definition (long) for tv_nsec. I wonder if it's some strange standards thing for compatibility with 16 bit machines. Anyway, looks like I'm going to have to define my own version in the JFS1 stuff.


Saturday, 17 August 2002 Echunga
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Spam is really getting bad lately. Worse, even companies whom I have previously considered to be reputable are getting in on the act. Today I received a spam from American Express, sent by Yahoo!. I had always thought of Yahoo!, at any rate, as being the “good guys”. That's over now. Goodbye Yahoo!. I wonder how easy it will be to get the $5,000 that our AUP prescribes for this situation. I've never thought much of American Express, but this just confirms my opinion.

Finished off my slides for AUUG 2002, and in the process wrote an Emacs macro to make several slides out of one bulleted list, each adding another bullet. For example, this slide gets expanded to this series. It's not much, but it really makes life easier; I used to have a real problem doing this manually, and it enables me to keep two versions, one with one slide per list for distribution, and one with multiple slides for presentation.


Sunday, 18 August 2002 Echunga
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Up early this morning and with Yana to Adelaide for universities open day. First to Adelaide University, where she got a fair amount of information, and we listened to a presentation of the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty. Quite a reasonable presentation, and the campus looks pretty good in comparison with what I've seen elsewhere in Australia.

Then to UniSA, which was completely different. It was all around the area where we had AOSS 2 in November 2000. Cramped, noisy (as if it wasn't bad enough, they had brought in some live musicians), disorganized and ugly. I don't think there's any green on the campus at all.

Didn't stay very long, and moved on to Flinders University. I like the campus, but it's not very practical: it's pretty spread out, hilly, and even on weekends you need to pay parking fees. Wherever Yana ends up (and currently she's tending to the University of Queensland, which she hasn't even seen), transport is going to be an issue. The other problem with Flinders is that it doesn't have a very good academic reputation, which is reflected in the entrance requirements.

Tried to order a new battery for my Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop. Both of the batteries had died within 20 months. By comparison, firefly, which used to be called mojave, has 5 year old batteries which still seem to be in perfect condition. Dell is obviously no longer interested in supporting something as old as the Inspiron 7500: it was not possible to buy batteries via the web site.


Monday, 19 August 2002 Echunga
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A surprise this morning: on the pond we saw a pair of Australian Wood Ducks (themselves quite common here) with nine tiny ducklings, obviously hatched here. This was the first sign of anything. Spent some time chasing away a crow who was showing an unhealthy interest in the ducklings.

Back in catchup mode today. I wonder when I'll finally get on top of all my work. Or is that “if”?

In the morning, more problems with the AUUG conference proceedings. It seems that some pages had EPS generated by some Microsoft tool, and they referred to undefined fonts. A total of six pages were affected, and we had to convert them to PDF. What a pain these tools are. On my PostScript printer (HP LaserJet 6MP) I saw nothing at all: the EPS was PostScript level 3, and the printer doesn't handle that. I also have serious doubts as to the accuracy of the PostScript output:

%%BeginDocument: frontmatter/AUUG-2002-conference-proceedings-page-2.eps
%!PS-Adobe-3.0 EPSF-3.0^M
%%Title: (\376\377\376\377)^M
%%Version: 1 2^M
%%Creator: (\376\377)^M
%%CreationDate: (D:20020813163826)^M
%%For: (\376\377)^M
%%DocumentData: Clean7Bit^M
%%BoundingBox: 63 18 558 816^M
%%Pages: 0^M
%%DocumentProcessColors: Cyan Magenta Yellow Black^M
%%DocumentNeededResources: (atend)^M
      

Certainly the \376\377 sequences seem wrong.

Spent some time trying to collect the data from a number of old disks, including the one that died on me a month ago. Certainly having some new disks to play around makes things a lot easier.

Finally got round to calling Dell about my laptop batteries, at 5 pm. They were closed, presumably only for spare parts sales. I recall calling them much later when it's related to new sales. Grrr.


Tuesday, 20 August 2002 Echunga
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I still haven't finished my reorganization of my disk space. Before overwriting a disk with an old version of wantadilla's /home file system, I did a bit of checking and found a total of 5 GB of data which seemed still useful and which I no longer had on the current /home file system. I really need to find a better way of keeping track of files.

Into town for lunch, to a Korean place not far from the CBD. Had quite an interesting discussion, and the food wasn't too bad either. At least now I have the feeling that my kimchi is relatively authentic.

After that wandered through a bookshop and found a copy of “FreeBSD unleashed”, by Michael Urban and Brian Tiemann. It's published by Sams, not my favourite publisher, but it's surprisingly good. I'm going to have to reconsider my own book.


Wednesday, 21 August 2002 Echunga
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I'll be glad when the AUUG 2002 conference is over. Things are now hotting up, and I hardly had time to do anything else, especially as I had a multi-hour phone call from the San Francisco Bay Area about NAS. That's a pretty hot topic at the moment.


Thursday, 22 August 2002 Echunga
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Yet another handyman, Guy Schubert, came today to help tidy out the shed. By the end of the day it was looking pretty good. The only problem is that there are a lot of things that I had assumed were in the shed which we didn't find. Maybe some of them are in the still-unpacked boxes in the library.

More preparations for leaving IBM today. Tomorrow's the last day. Also more talk about NAS, another couple of hours on the phone.


Friday, 23 August 2002 Echunga
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In to town today to terminate my IBM employment and hand in my laptop and badge. Things weren't as sad as they could have been; somehow the long approach meant that today was nothing much more than a formality.

After that to a Telstra shop to pick up a second SIM card for another mobile phone, since it was free. There were complications, though: here I am with IBM already behind me, but the billing address for my mobile phone still includes the name Linuxcare. The company no longer exists in Australia, but Telstra want a signature of an officer of Linuxcare before changing the name. The bloke tried for some time, but finally gave up in disgust, just as I have done in the past.

Back home and didn't do much beyond the normal emergencies. I'll be glad when the conference is over.


Saturday, 24 August 2002 Echunga
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Another tiring day today. Turned out that a case of system crashes that I was discussing on FreeBSD-questions had at least a Vinum component in it: one of these mysterious crashes in launch_requests with zeroed out request structures may be related to what I believe is a bug in the ATA code. We've already seen that some systems, notably the Duron that I bought about a year ago, cannot run FreeBSD ATA in DMA mode, though they seem to have no problems with other operating systems. Tried to install 4.6-RELEASE, but had problems there too, though it wasn't quite clear whether it was a bad CD-R or a problem with the ATA driver.

Apart from that, working on my report for the conference. I wish I had time to do more work on my book.


Sunday, 25 August 2002 Echunga
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I've been really tired again, and didn't do too much today. The weather was wonderful. What has all the winter rain gone? It's usually much wetter at this time of year. Yvonne got me to go out riding again, not as pleasant as last time, and Darah misbehaved somewhat. I need to ride her more often.

Spent some time reading novels, something I haven't done for a long time. “Trustee from the Toolroom”, by Nevil Shute. I must have read it 30 years ago, but I can't remember anything. If he had lived nowadays, the hero might have been a FreeBSD hacker.


Monday, 26 August 2002 Echunga
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Things are gradually getting a little quieter. In retrospect I wonder how I managed when I was with IBM. Spent most of today testing some fixes to Vinum. At leat they seemed to work (on -STABLE, at any rate). Building on zaphod (-CURRENT, with debugging enabled) is so incredibly slow.

Also some work on ports stuff. It's surprising how difficult it is to find documentation for ports; it seems that a lot gets installed in /usr/local/share/doc, but I don't know of any standard way to access it. Fixed that on echunga by adding a link to my home page:

That's really <li><a href="file:///usr/local/share/doc/">Ports collection documentation</a></li>   It works OK on echunga, but it's obviously not a general solution, and my version of Mozilla doesn't understand file: URLs as links. We need to do something about the general solution.


Tuesday, 27 August 2002 Echunga
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More work on Vinum today, also more on the conference.

Also finally got round to looking at the system which had lost the disk label a couple of weeks ago. My recovery program didn't find anything, so tried it with gpart, but that did the same thing that my recover program, just much more slowly: it reads a sector at a time. Ended up updating recover, and after that was able to perform an almost perfect recovery. Only one minor problem in the root file system. Here's the updated program, which after some tidying up will have to go into the Ports Collection.

I still have strange problems with Mozilla, not helped by the lack of documentation. Spent what seemed like all day rebuilding it, but the latest snapshot still seems to have trouble with the cursor keys. I wonder if that's a termcap thing? mutt also has trouble with cutting and pasting: all lines are blank filled to the end of the line, which is a real nuisance.


Wednesday, 28 August 2002 Echunga
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Back talking with Greg Rodgers about JFS1. We now have the ability to read small files (without indirect blocks), but there's something wrong with the indirect blocks. I suppose it's bound to be a data size thing again, though I can't see where. It's really painful debugging at a distance and without a real kernel debugger. We could have had this finished long ago.

Apart from that trying to catch up on other things, notably my article for Daemon News, which kept me busy for a while. Ports documentation really needs to be looked at again. Also finally into Mount Barker for a haircut.


Thursday, 29 August 2002 Echunga
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Lothar Dummin in this morning to pick up my remaining IBM equipment. About the only thing that hurts about leaving IBM is losing the 21" monitor (the black one in the photo). Spent some time trying to rearrange things and discovered to my pleasure that the Hitachi 813 monitors would also display 2048x1536, in fact a little better than the IBM monitor. Had to move the old iiyama Trinitron monitor into position 4. It runs at 1600x1200, but the resolution is (and always has been) pretty terrible. By contrast, the ancient (1989) Eizo 9500 does relatively well in position 5 at 1280x1024.

Spent the rest of the day on administrative matters. I often wonder where the time goes, but it becomes clear when I read:

On 29 August 2002 you received 1765 mail messages and sent 85 mail messages.
      

At five minutes a message, that would be over 7 hours. Obviously I manage less per message.


Friday, 30 August 2002 Echunga
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Last day before I leave for Melbourne. Strangely, things seem to be pretty much under control, though a last-minute decision to press some CDs for the conference required a bit of coordination. It's interesting how cheap CDs in small quantities have become.

Spent most of the day working on my Daemon News article, and rather to my surprise was able to get it finished. That's a load off my mind.


Saturday, 31 August 2002 Echunga –> Bendigo –> Melbourne
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Off early to Bendigo with Yana this morning. Yana decided she wanted to drive all the way herself, leaving me to navigate, which wasn't too difficult, but I managed to do badly enough to miss a turnoff onto the Borung highway from Dimboola to Warracknabeal, so we ended up taking a little side road to Minyip. Apart from a bit of dirt road, that actually proved to be better. Stopped after hitting a rather large stone (no damage) and found ourselves next to a historic marker in the middle of nowhere. Turned out to be the site of the second local cricket field, which had been abandoned in 1957. Ah, the joys of history.

In Bendigo, filled the tank. 48.40 litres of petrol for 654 km, an average of 7.4 litres/100. I haven't had that low a consumption since my 2CV days, but this was a 2.6 litre Mitsubishi Magna, and our overall average speed, including stops, was 90 km/h. I'm quite impressed.

Down to Melbourne Spencer St. by train. I think this is the first time I've been on a train in Victoria since I was in kindergarten. Got to the hotel and met up with the others, then out to a very filling Indian dinner just round the corner in Queen St. Late to bed.


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