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Greg's diary
December 2001
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Saturday, 1 December 2001 Echunga
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Tried to sleep in this morning, but didn't do very well. When I looked at the clock, time had stopped: another power failure. Although it was well after breakfast time, none of us had noticed in time, and all but three machines had died. While trying to get the core machines up, the UPS decided to turn them off again. Why are UPSs such a pain to use?

Spent the rest of the day trying to catch up with having a life. Typed in some additional days of my May 1967 diary. What a lot I wrote in those days!


Sunday, 2 December 2001 Echunga
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Another couple of power failures this morning, but fortunately they were short, and the UPSs didn't misbehave. I really need to get UPSs for the remaining machines.

Didn't do much all day. Tried to get the Citroën CX started again, since Yana wants to drive it when she passes her driving test, hopefully tomorrow. Unfortunately, the battery is completely dead.

Spent most of the late afternoon cooking a Chinese steamed and deep fried duck.


Monday, 3 December 2001 Echunga
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More work on JFS 1 today, or at least meta-work. Copied an AIX volume to a Linux partition, which required first making the Linux partition on what used to be a FreeBSD partition. That worked fine. Moved the disk from the PPC machine (sphinx) to the ia32 machine (pizza), in the process discovering that Linux does not take kindly to hot-swapping, and found that pizza still thought the drive contained a FreeBSD partition. Put it back on sphinx, and after a forced rebooting discovered that sphinx still thought it was a Linux partition. Strange.

Tried using a different machine for the sat-gw machine, since the current one was rather loud, and it didn't recover from a power failure, despite BIOS settings telling it to do so. Unfortunately, I couldn't boot the new machine: the loader stopped with the message LIL-, which I'm told is in the documentation (but the documentation didn't get installed on any of my now four different Linux boxes), and means “geometry problem”. Frustrated, put the old one back in. Linux is not showing itself from its best side today.

In the afternoon to Murray Bridge again with Yana. The last time was on 31 May, to get Yana's learner's permit. Today it was for the provisional license, also the first time she drove on a freeway, and the first time she was allowed to do 100 km/h instead of 80. Observed that it's funny that that's about the first thing a new driver does after no longer having an instructor to guide them.


Tuesday, 4 December 2001 Echunga
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Up early as Jim Couch came to start the Citroën CX. As feared, he confirmed that the battery was dead as a doornail.

Greg Rodgers was supposed to come this morning, but he stayed the night in town, and that seemed to sicken his daughter, so he finally didn't get here until mid-evening. In the meantime spent more time trying to work out why pizza (Red Hat ia32) thought a specific drive contained a BSD partition, while sphinx (Debian ppc) thought it was Linux. Rebuilt another machine as daemon (FreeBSD ia32) to find out the low-down, and discovered, from fdisk:

******* Working on device /dev/da1 *******
parameters extracted from in-core disklabel are:
cylinders=522 heads=255 sectors/track=63 (16065 blks/cyl)

parameters to be used for BIOS calculations are:
cylinders=522 heads=255 sectors/track=63 (16065 blks/cyl)

Media sector size is 512
Warning: BIOS sector numbering starts with sector 1
Information from DOS bootblock is:
The data for partition 1 is:
sysid 131,(Linux filesystem)
    start 62, size 8386120 (4094 Meg), flag 0
    beg: cyl 0/ head 1/ sector 1;
    end: cyl 1016/ head 132/ sector 62
The data for partition 2 is:
<UNUSED>
The data for partition 3 is:
<UNUSED>
The data for partition 4 is:
sysid 0,(unused)
    start 0, size 0 (0 Meg), flag 0
    beg: cyl 0/ head 1/ sector 1;
    end: cyl 521/ head 254/ sector 63

Fixed that, but it still refused to agree, so finally gave up, created another drive and copied across with dd. Spent most of the afternoon making my file system dump program endian-insensitive, which raised some questions about how to do these things.


Wednesday, 5 December 2001 Echunga
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Up at the crack of dawn this morning for a development teleconference with the USA and some of the people in Canberra. Interesting enough, though the logistics were less than ideal. After that had a little time before the next teleconference, this time only with Canberra.

Spent the afternoon planning work for me to do. There's no shortage of that.


Thursday, 6 December 2001 Echunga
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Up even earlier this morning for another teleconference. Greg Rodgers seems to get by on 6 hours sleep, which puts him at a great advantage over me.

After that, Alan Modra came along, and we spent most of the day looking at administrative things, which involved far too much Microsoft. Anyway, at the end of the day things were running much more smoothly, and I was exhausted.


Friday, 7 December 2001 Echunga
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Surprisingly tired after the last couple of days' work, and didn't do very much. Things started off well with monorchid failing during the night. Foolishly, I had installed the same amount of swap as main memory, so I can't dump. That will have to wait until the next phase of my system upgrade, which should happen soon.

Caught up on various non-work-related things in the afternoon. The SIM card in Yvonne's phone died a couple of days ago, so in to get a new one, along with a Nokia 8210, which is so small it seems ridiculous. There are still no new triband phones on the market, and since GPRS is allegedly just round the corner, took Yvonne's old phone in the meantime, which was in fact the Nokia 3210 I bought for myself not quite 2 years ago. Also bought a new whipper-snipper, since the old one couldn't take a blade.

The Citroën CX is also back from the workshop. Took Yana out for a drive in it, after which she was not as enthusiastic as before.


Saturday, 8 December 2001 Echunga
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Entered my office this morning to hear the sound of a modem dialling. On closer examination, it proved that the network had been disconnected for 90 minutes already. Called Telstra, who told me that there was some ISDN breakage in Adelaide, and that it would take another 3 hours.

It's funny to be off the net. I suppose it won't be long before network connection has the same importance as electricity or water supply, maybe more: we can generate our own electricity, and we are self-sufficient in water, but there's no substitute for the net.

Did some odds and ends work around the house, tried out the new whipper-snipper, which fortunately did do a much better job than the old one, and went riding for the first time in weeks. There are advantages of being off the net, I suppose. Finally reconnected after not quite 6 hours.


Sunday, 9 December 2001 Echunga
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We're running out of wine, so set off to Clarendon and Maclaren Vale to buy some more. First stop was Normans Wines in Clarendon, where we were surprised to find that they had closed down the cellar door sales and are no longer trading; they've been bought out by Xanadu wines. Hopefully they'll continue to make their Shiraz.

On to Maclaren Flat to look for Rosemount, only to discover that their cellar door sales had closed down. This time, however, the story wasn't so bad: they've moved just North of Maclaren Vale. First on to Wirra Wirra, who were no longer prepared to give me the same discounts they did last time, so didn't buy too much there. Finally on to Rosemount, who have merged with some other company whose name evades me, and their new place certainly looks a lot better than the old one. Bought some reds, but I still think I preferred Normans' Encounter Bay series; hopefully they'll be back on their feet soon.


Monday, 10 December 2001 Echunga
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Back to work. One of the tasks that I identified last week was to investigate was User-mode Linux, which I could use for debugging the file system code I'm writing. I had estimated a day to try it out, but once again I note how fragile the Linux build environment is, and spent most of the day just trying to build a kernel, ultimately to be unsuccessful. Still, it looks promising.


Tuesday, 11 December 2001 Echunga
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Received the Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM in the mail today. I've been meaning to buy it for years, but there were a number of reasons not to:

  1. It is very expensive. Even at the discounted price I found, it cost me over US $200. That makes it one of the most expensive CD-ROMs around.
  2. It is supplied with a browser for Microsoft only.
  3. It seems to be impossible to access it except via the browser.

Since I now need to use a Microsoft machine all the time anyway, the last two issues no longer seemed to be a problem. My concerns were confirmed, though: they seem to have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that the application will run only from the CD-ROM, and that it's not possible to make a copy of the CD-ROM. In addition, all the data is encrypted. This means that if anything goes wrong, I will have to buy a new CD-ROM.

The software is terrible. Things like font size are not configurable, some of the displays are barely legible, and there are errors in the transcription (for example, the character é is rendered as <eaigu>). Yes, you can print things out if you want, and if your printer can handle the monster output it creates, but the transcription problems remain. I tried printing to my Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 6MP (with Postscript). The entry for the verb “hang” ran to 20 pages, but the printer gave up with “job too big” after printing the first 10 at a snail's pace (about 1 minute per page). I've printed the entire 900 pages of “The Complete FreeBSD” on that printer and never had problems of that nature. Of course, Microsoft's emetic printer management software doesn't make it any easier.

Did some work, too, and after a lot of messing around get User-Mode Linux to work. Now to do some useful development work with it.


Wednesday, 12 December 2001 Echunga
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I don't know what it is about teleconferences, but on days when we have them, I don't seem to get much work done. That doesn't make sense, since they typically last an hour.

After this morning's conference, out to Mount Barker to pick up Yana, who had run out of petrol in the CX. She also said something about being out of oil, but that turned out to be a red herring: she didn't know that the oil warning light doesn't go out until the engine is running.

In the afternoon finally got user-mode Linux running. It's very slow, and I have a suspicion I'm running it in single-step mode. Still, possibly a good basis for development.

In the evening to the AUUG SA chapter meeting, in which I had intended to demonstrate wireless networking, but most people there knew about it already, so just did some talking. Yana came with me, and wasn't completely bored out of her skull.


Thursday, 13 December 2001 Echunga
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Mail is keeping me busy again, but I did get some time to work on user mode Linux, which is now in a position where I can leave it and move on to building the infrastructure of the file system implementation.

In the evening with Yana to Mount Barker to do her first-even night driving. That went OK, but on the way back we ran into trouble with the car: looked like a vapour lock or failed petrol pump. Had to leave it on Old Mt. Barker Road and get Yvonne to pick us up. sigh


Friday, 14 December 2001 Echunga
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First thing this morning, before breakfast, down to Old Mount Barker Road to see if I could get the CX started. Due to the hydraulic system, the brakes don't work at all when the engine has been stopped for a while, so towing it would have been a serious problem. Fortunately it started. We still seem to have problems with the fuel system, so left it with Jim Couch to find out what's wrong with it.

Plenty of mail again today. People are talking about porting JFS2 to FreeBSD, and that's obviously something I should get involved in. Apart from that, more experimentation with User-mode Linux, which I now understand well enough to return to my JFS1 coding.

To town with Yana this evening to attend a meeting of the Japan Australia Friendship Association. Sounds like she had a lot of fun. It'll be interesting to see where that leads.


Saturday, 15 December 2001 Echunga
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For the first time in years, I've officially taken some time off work just to stay at home and catch up with things I need to do, notably the next edition of “The Complete FreeBSD”. Interestingly, the psychological distinction helped, and I actually got some work done. Also added a few more days to the transcript I'm doing of my diary of May 1967.

This spring has been one of the wettest on record, and the hay crop, normally cut in early November, was a catastrophe. Even Greg Edmonds, who normally cuts his hay on Melbourne Cup Day (the first Tuesday in November) put it off another couple of weeks, but it didn't help much. As a result, we couldn't find any good hay, but we found plenty of grass growing in our paddocks, so today got somebody in to cut it for us. The weather forecast promises to be good, but it's difficult to rely on. Saw Greg later performing his own aftermath, but then he left it for the cows to eat.


Sunday, 16 December 2001 Echunga
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A quiet day, but finally got round to doing some work on my book. At least the big problems are out of the way, and I have a fighting chance of getting the manuscript in by the deadline.

More talk about JFS2 on the mailing lists. What is it about the rabid fringe that makes them ignore logic? Send a message to Richard Stallman asking for his interpretation.

Out riding in the afternoon. Darah is noticeably more tired now; time to give her something more to eat.


Monday, 17 December 2001 Echunga
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More work on the book today. Finally got out a final draft of the first chapter. It's amazing how much has changed since the first edition. Hopefully I'll get the remaining chapters out pretty quickly.

More nonsense on the GPL on the FreeBSD-chat mailing list today. Got my reply from Stallman, not what I expected, but acceptable in my eyes.

Off riding again, this time with Diane Saunders as well. I wish I could keep this up on a daily basis.


Tuesday, 18 December 2001 Echunga
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More work on the book, and finally I'm making some progress.

The rabid fringe of the FreeBSD project is going far beyond what I expect in their FUD about the GPL. Yesterday, Stallman replied:

If you link some GPL-covered code into the
kernel, the GPL's conditions will apply to the kernel as a whole.

I don't think that results in any legal difficulty.  The FreeBSD
kernel uses the revised BSD license, right?  That is compatible with
the GPL.  So you can link these things together.  The kernel code
released under the revised BSD license will continue to be under the
revised BSD license; it is only the *combination as a whole* that will
be covered by the GPL—if and when the GPL-covered code is included in
it.  If someone links a kernel without that GPL-covered code, the GPL
won't apply to that kernel.

Brett Glass (yes, he wants his name to be mentioned) interpreted this statement in the following manner:

Dead wrong.  That source code must also be GPLed.

There's obviously no point in discussing with people who ignore all evidence pointing away from their prejudices.

Mark and Essey Deayton over for dinner in the evening. Had an lively time.


Wednesday, 19 December 2001 Echunga
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Up early and into town to pick up Dad at the airport. Problem: he wasn't there. Qantas confirmed that he wasn't on the flight, but wasn't prepared to say whether he was coming later. These privacy considerations are just plain counterproductive.

Off to buy a new fax machine. Thermal paper models have just about died out. They had only one, at $269, a lot cheaper than a few years ago. Plain paper ones started at $329. To my immense surprise, one of the two cheapest machines at $329 was a Hewlett-Packard Officejet 725C, which also did colour, 600x300 scanning and printing. It wasn't clear whether that would work on a real operating system, but since it was the cheapest anyway, it seemed a no-brainer.

On the way home, Yvonne called: Dad had arrived on the following flight. Back to the airport and found him at the baggage services reporting a lost bag. Ah well, at least we put the wait to good use.

In the afternoon, didn't get too much done. Confirmed that the OfficeJet does have drivers at least for Linux, so it looks as if we'll have a good chance to get it working under FreeBSD. Dad has bought himself a digital camera, without asking me: a Sony Cybershot with memory stick. Nobody knows how to read memory sticks, and he doesn't have a computer anyway, so spent a bit of time looking for alternatives. gphoto2 seems to be the way to go, using USB. It occurs to me that one of the issues with USB is that the camera must be switched on, which can have a bad effect on the battery life.

Finally got the hay in, dry. Must be some of the very small quantity of hay made this year which didn't get rained on.


Thursday, 20 December 2001 Echunga
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More work on the book today, and finally broke the back of the installation instructions. That took all day of course, so there's not much else to report.

Discovered that security had wanted to confiscate Dad's nail scissors at Melbourne airport, like they did with mine a month ago. He too had complained, and in the end, since he was a Singapore Airlines passenger, they had agreed to carry them for him. Score 1 for Singapore Airlines, 0 for Qantas. I wonder if they realize how much they're pissing off their passengers. It's obvious who I should travel with from now on.


Friday, 21 December 2001 Echunga
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Still more work on the book today. I've got to a point where I might even be able to make the mid-January deadline.

In the evening, talking with Dad about the Asia trip. He has a number of recollections that I don't, and reminded me of some things that I didn't write down. It's about time I did some updates.


Saturday, 22 December 2001 Echunga
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More work on the book today. In the process, tried to make a release of 4.5-alpha, but didn't finish. Making releases takes forever, especially on the Pentium 133 I was using.


Sunday, 23 December 2001 Echunga Images for 23 December 2001
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Getting work done is satisfying, but it doesn't make for interesting reporting. Still, I found other stuff to do today: some flute makers are researching Siccama's diatonic flute, and I have one. Interestingly, one of the makers is Terry McGee, who lives in Canberra, so it looks as if I will be able to get him to restore the instrument as well. Spent some time taking photos of my instrument and making a web page out of them.


Monday, 24 December 2001 Echunga
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More work on the book. I've been trying for 4 days now to do a make release so that I can produce realistic examples for the book, and the new Duron machine, despite all the work, keeps hanging. What a pain.

Stopped working early and decided to try out a new duck recipe for Christmas Eve. Deboned the duck Chinese style, but tried a Western-style filling with potatoes, ham and prawns, but it wasn't very successful. Ah well, you live and learn.


Tuesday, 25 December 2001 Echunga Images for 25 December 2001
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Off to Sandy and Dean's for Christmas today. Discovered they still didn't know about the photos I took at Karen's place last year. Took more photos and promised to put them up on the web Real Soon Now, so here they are.

Didn't do much for the rest of the day. Having a heavy meal in the middle of the day is a Bad Thing.


Wednesday, 26 December 2001 Echunga Images for 26 December 2001
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A year today since Miss Teak died. It still hurts. Went out to check that the horses were all OK; they were, of course.

Later Yvonne came to me and said we had run out of water. Checked, and found that the water pump had failed again. Dragged out the phone number of the bloke who was dragging his feet on the repair of the last one, a certain Robert Young, and fortunately contacted him. He said something about having repaired it “by accident”, and that I couldn't have it today. After the consequent explosion, he finally agreed that I could pick it up in Adelaide in the afternoon.

Down later to pick up the pump, and had a long talk. It is beginning to look very likely that something in the water system is causing the problem, but what?

Later in the afternoon trying to explain the Sony Cybershot to Dad. It ran out of battery, and refused to work with any of the new batteries I put into it.

Later still Yana tried to make an award booking with Qantas on the web, using my frequent flyer points. The software (Java, what do you expect?) was so broken that we gave up. It checked family relationships first, then complained because it wasn't me. And every time there was no backing up, we had to start over again. What a pain.


Thursday, 27 December 2001 Echunga Images for 27 December 2001
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Today was the second Hackers Barbecue, this time with Linux and NetBSD presence as well. Lots of fun, and I think we'll make a yearly thing of it. Didn't get much else done as a result.

Back in January, Tridge took Alan Cox riding, and managed to get him thrown off a horse. We weren't able to get Rusty Russell on a horse today, but Tiquita came to the rescue and ran him down, much to everybody's surprise. Didn't seem to do him much harm.


Friday, 28 December 2001 Echunga
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Another day with no work done. I had barely got through my mail when I had to take my father to town; he's off to Melbourne some time over the weekend, taking our old Mitsubishi Nimbus with him. We've had it for nearly 5 years, the longest we've ever had a car in active use. It had 246,000 km on the clock when we bought it, and now has 356,000. I'm surprised how well it has held out, and in a way I'm sorry to see it go.

Had lunch at Audrey Schaedel's, and then home. I had barely had time to put up the photos of the Hackers Barbecue before Daniel Demuth arrived, so not much more work got done.


Saturday, 29 December 2001 Echunga
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Yvonne and I went out riding with Daniel in Kuitpo Forest after breakfast today, despite the temperatures in the high 20s. Had quite a bit of fun, but both La Tigre and Pebbles were quite tired, and after returning Yvonne discovered that La Tigre had developed wind galls again, so she decided not to ride her again for a year to give her time to grow up a little.

I don't like riding in the mornings; breakfast is still too heavy in my stomach, and today I discovered that it completely stopped me from doing any further work.

In honour of Daniel, had a cheese fondue in the evening. Also not the lightest thing for a warm summer's day.


Sunday, 30 December 2001 Echunga
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Rusty Russell and Alli came today, the latter to do some riding, and Rusty ostensibly to talk about kernel interrupt implementations. Before they arrived, tried to track down the problems with the Duron box. I couldn't even install FreeBSD 4.3 on it: it hung during the initial boot. 4.4 was better, but knowing that some bugs had only been fixed in -CURRENT, I decided to build a new kernel and world on monorchid and just install it. In the process, I managed to completely screw up the kernel configuration on monorchid: tried this new make kernel target and didn't realise that it installed the kernel on the local machine, not quite what I wanted.

Couldn't get Rusty back near a horse, though Alli enjoyed herself. Another late night, talking about everything except interrupt handlers.


Monday, 31 December 2001 Echunga
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Up far too early this morning because Rusty and Alli were leaving at some ridiculous hour like 10 am. Spent most of the morning trying to wake up, by which time Daniel was ready to leave. It's been a pretty socially active Christmastide, and I'm glad it's over.

More work on the book in the afternoon. I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped, and I'm still only half way through the first pass. I hope the second half of the book will be easier.

We were pretty tired in the evening, and so we celebrated the New Year on Kiritimati time, 3½ hours before we should have done, then early to bed.


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