Greg
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March 2002
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Friday, 1 March 2002 Echunga
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More work on the JFS1 userland stuff today, and made some pretty good progress. Now most things work except for indirect blocks, which I started looking at and marvelling.

Jörg Micheel back today, having met some new colleagues—Sarah Bolderoff and the crowd at Foursticks. Each of them was equally surprised to find that the others knew me.


Saturday, 2 March 2002 Echunga
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Into town this morning to see Rick Babbidge in the next installment of the pump saga: bought a new pump which will hopefully deliver enough pressure to run our damn silly Míele dish washer, and also not burst. Interestingly, it doesn't have a non-return valve on the output; on 26 December last year, Robert Young had claimed, amongst other things, that a faulty non-return valve could have been the cause of the failure. Today Davey confirmed that they are not necessary. They also claimed that the documentation (which specified incorrect pressure) was incorrect, and that the pressures are set correctly. Well, we'll see. Rick promised to lend us a pressure gauge for when we install the thing on Monday.

In the afternoon with Jörg to McLaren Vale to buy some wine. Based on a bottle of Chardonnay we received as a gift, went to see Tatachilla, and came back with a nice Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache/Shiraz.


Sunday, 3 March 2002 Echunga Images for 3 March 2002
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Up later today and spent a bit of time tidying up after the mess of the last few weeks, not helped by long discussions on the FreeBSD core team mailing list. Got the photos of last night and also last month up on the web site, and spent the rest of the day revising my book. There's still a lot to do.


Monday, 4 March 2002 Echunga
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More work on the JFS 1 userland program today. I'm finally getting some understanding of the indirect blocks, but there's still a lot to understand. They seem to work differently depending on the size of the file. Also the block numbers are sometimes so big that they must contain coded information somewhere.

Yana didn't get very far towards her Japanese lesson today. Between Echunga and Hahndorf, the Magna broke down with ignition problems. Gave her the Commodore, and Jim Couch had to come and tow me back to Echunga. Ah well, these things can happen.


Tuesday, 5 March 2002 Echunga
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More work on the JFS1 stuff today, and made more progress understanding the disk format that most other things. It's all becoming a lot more intelligible.


Wednesday, 6 March 2002 Echunga
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Two years ago since I started with Linuxcare. How times have changed.

More JFS1 stuff. Much fun, little to report.

Heard from Jim Couch about the Magna. It seems that this damn silly security device has failed, and since the device is an add-on with no documentation, things could look bad. He has a colleague who knows his way round this stuff, and will get him to have a look at it tomorrow. How I hate security devices which are more trouble than they're worth.


Thursday, 7 March 2002 Echunga
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More work on the JFS1 stuff, and most things now seem to be working. I seem finally to have understood the indirect block structure, but I'm left with a feeling that there's some surprise waiting for me somewhere.


Friday, 8 March 2002 Echunga –> Sydney
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Five years ago today I arrived back in Australia, to stay as it eventuated. Things have certainly happened since then.

Did a bit of work on JFS1, but most of the day was taken up by preparations for the trip to Sydney. At least I got things sorted out without too much stress, though I wasn't exactly delighted to discover that one of the batteries on my Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop had died. I can't say that modern laptops are overly reliable; I've had far more problems with modern machines than the ones I had five or ten years ago.

The same went both for our old TV, which Yana now has, and the Magna. The TV blew something in the EHT system a few weeks back, and we had it repaired. It ran five minutes before blowing something in the EHT system. Looks like they fixed the symptom, not the cause.

The Magna is giving us other problems; looks like the ignition/injection calculator has died. Not a good week for electronic equipment.

Off to Sydney without incident. I was the only person staying overnight, so off to bed pretty quickly.


Saturday, 9 March 2002 Sydney
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Luigi and David picked me up this morning, and off to the meeting, where Warren Toomey didn't show. I wonder what happened to him.

The meeting was relatively radical. David Purdue, the president of AUUG, has decided that four years as president are enough, and won't be standing for the committee. Michael Paddon, the vice-president, and Luigi Cantoni the treasurer, have come to similar conclusions. That leaves me (the secretary) the only current officer to stand again. In addition, Peter Gray suggested that we should completely overhaul the organization, which seems appropriate in view of a continuous decline in membership. We could have some interesting stuff happening in the next year or two.

In the evening to a beer garden in Coogee. Heard from Yvonne: her mobile phone has died again, after only 8 days, and 3 weeks without being able to use it. This is completely unacceptable. Nokia seems to be another company which isn't paying enough attention to reliability.

Spent a lot of time talking with Michael, Conrad Parker and Simon “horms” Horman, and took some photos:


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Michael Paddon, a multiported BSD man.


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Conrad Parker and Michael Paddon, with a little bit of horms showing.


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Simon “horms” Horman, Conrad Parker and Michael Paddon.

Got a taxi back and spent the time talking to the driver about the relative merits of C and C++. We are living in interesting times.


Sunday, 10 March 2002 Sydney –> Echunga Images for 10 March 2002
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Up early and took a look out of the hotel window:


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That's the Sydney domestic terminal in the background. Had breakfast and then to the terminal. This time I was able to get a network connection, and had a fair amount of work done by the time I got home. Back home carried on, and was able to get the minutes of the meeting out by the late afternoon. A far cry from last meetings' minutes, which I got out three days ago.


Monday, 11 March 2002 Echunga
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It's funny how some days nothing goes right. Today I thought I was going to carry on working on the JFS1 stuff, but a whole lot of problems ganged up on me: zaphod had hung itself up, kimchi had paniced and wouldn't reboot, sphinx had just plain stopped, and my Microsoft laptop decided to turn on to the external monitor when suspending, requiring an explicit switch back on resume.

Turned out that kimchi had died because the CPU fan had died, and zaphod has a history of hanging, probably due to bugs in the SMP code, but it's not clear what killed sphinx.

After getting the machines back up and running, tried NFS mounting some JFS1 file systems from pizza (Intel/Linux) to sphinx (PPC/Linux), but all sorts of strange things happened, so decided to shut down blowfish (OpenBSD/Intel), reboot it as current (FreeBSD), and try mounting the file system from there. That worked fine, but I still couldn't do any NFS mounts, and I discovered that zaphod had the same problem. That took all the day.

In the meantime, Ed Hay came to put in some fencing, and of course he managed to find yet another underground water pipe. For some reason the Barn in Meadows closed early today, so we couldn't get any components for repair and had to leave it overnight.

At least we have the Magna back, after nearly a week in repair. This one looks like being expensive.


Tuesday, 12 March 2002 Echunga
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Spent more time upgrading current today, which took about half the day. Our upgrade procedure for /etc is sadly in need of overhaul.

Spent the rest of the day working on upgrading sphinx with EVMS. The instructions only handle installation from tarballs, and not from CVS.


Wednesday, 13 March 2002 Echunga
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Somehow my intentions to do less work have backfired, and I'm as busy as ever. It seems that I worked all day and got nothing done.


Thursday, 14 March 2002 Echunga
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So much for my intention of working less. Much more work today. Real work, AUUG and FreeBSD Core are all running at record levels.

In addition, Ed Hay is here putting in some fencing. He already managed to hit a water pipe earlier in the week, and he had a row which we knew went over some cables (two phone lines and the main electrical power). To be on the safe side, we called in a cable detector, who confirmed that Ed had hit the jackpot: with only 9 posts, he managed to exactly find all three cables. Take a look at the photos


Friday, 15 March 2002 Echunga
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Lots more work today. I've seldom had so much work to do. At least I think the JFS1 program is about as far as I need it to be. Now to get back to that book I was writing...


Saturday, 16 March 2002 Echunga Images for 16 March 2002
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Back to the book again, finally. Got a fair amount done; hopefully I'll have the thing finished by the end of the month.


Sunday, 17 March 2002 Echunga Images for 17 March 2002
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Spent most of the day sleeping. Clearly I've been working too hard. Made some progress on the book, though.


Monday, 18 March 2002 Echunga
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Back to work again, and got things working quite nicely. I can now read JFS1 files directly from the disk using EVMS and my JFS1 access program. A bit of progress for a change.


Tuesday, 19 March 2002 Echunga
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Another long slog with little to show. Spent some time trying to build the EVMS tools. There seem to be problems with CVS updates; at any rate, I keep running into unresolved symbols.

Seems that there is interest in a real JFS1 file system after all. I suppose that's going to be my next thing.


Wednesday, 20 March 2002 Echunga
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A particularly busy day today. Ozlabs conference call in the morning, then preparations for the AUUG SA meeting this evening, which was at IBM. After that into town to talk to my tax advisor, picked up Yvonne's Nokia 8210, the fifth she has had since December last year, and which like all the others had failed with a dead display. It seems that Nokia is incapable of supplying known good new phones; one wonders how they can stay in business. Anyway, this one was repaired, and they tell us that this time it will be OK. We'll see.

At IBM, got shown the facilities and the security arrangements, then a wait until people arrived. We had 21 people, more than I expected, and the more formal venue seems to have improved the quality of the meeting. Most of us moved on to the Kublai Khan Mongolian Barbecue after that. On the whole a very successful meeting.


Thursday, 21 March 2002 Echunga
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Yesterday was more tiring than I realized, so up relatively late. Started to get back into the JFS1 file system code, but didn't make it very far.


Friday, 22 March 2002 Echunga Images for 22 March 2002
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More JFS1 stuff today, also played around with some stuff that Greg Rodgers is working on.

At midday, I got an anonymous call (no calling phone number displayed) on my mobile phone from somebody claiming to be Kim from Telstra Mobile. She wanted to review my account, she said. I accepted, and she asked me for my account password. She sounded genuinely surprised when I refused, but she still refused to give me the phone number from which she was calling.

I called Telstra and asked if the call was genuine. They were unable to confirm, but suggested that it probably was. I had to call three different numbers before I found somebody prepared to log a complaint. They didn't understand the problem: they said that they could note that I didn't want to be contacted in this manner, and that the callers were frequently external marketing firms. I suppose it will take somebody to repeat this “exploit” before Telstra sits up and takes notice. After all, it just takes a mobile phone and a sweet voice. That should be straightforward enough.

Today was our wedding anniversary, so in the evening to the Grange Restaurant at the Adelaide Hilton, supposedly the best restaurant in Adelaide. Yvonne and I had the six course “dégustation” menu (called “tasting” in the menu, but not by the waiters) with specified wines, while Yana took the three course menu.

The food was indeed good, though it tended to fade towards the end. The “four dances of the sea” were excellent, though the first time I've been given instructions on how to eat a dish (the sequence is important, like a crescendo from start to finish). The wines were well balanced, but unfortunately not as good as I would have expected. The ambience and serving are, unfortunately, lacking. The restaurant is open to the foyer of the hotel, and halfway through the meal some live musicians arrived and made enough noise to make things really unpleasant. I made a comment to the waitress, and that resulted in appropriate escalation, and to their credit they toned down the music. But that shouldn't have been necessary.

In addition, the service was too slow. This isn't a fast food restaurant, of course, and we expected to be there for a couple of hours. But at one point Yana had to wait an hour between two courses, and I was left unpleasantly hungry for much of the time. Our 2½ hour meal took us four hours. A far cry from both the ambience and the service we were used to at the Auberge de l'Ill. Sadly, I still don't think I know a good restaurant in Adelaide to which I would want to go back.


Saturday, 23 March 2002 Echunga
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Up late this morning and got some more work done on my book. I'm now allowed to submit it in groff, and don't have to convert to DocBook, which greatly encouraged me, so spent some time modifying the look and feel of the document.

In the afternoon, re-reading Glaskin's “The Beach of Passionate Love”, which has played a significant role in my life. Yvonne had a copy (in German) when I met her, but we lent it to somebody who never gave it back, and she only recently bought another copy, second hand.


Sunday, 24 March 2002 Echunga
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Finally making some headway on the book. It's amazing what a turn-off it is to have the threat of painful format changes ahead of you. Things are looking a lot rosier now.


Monday, 25 March 2002 Echunga
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Work pressure is dropping, and I've now had time to do some of the more interesting things, like installing Linux on a pSeries machine running AIX. After that, back to the JFS1 file system. Things are making a lot more sense now.

Autumn has finally arrived. In marked contrast to late spring and early summer, the last month or two have been remarkably dry. In February, no rainfall was measured in Echunga, against a normal expectation of 26 mm. This month so far we also had no rain. In the evening, though, it started raining properly. I'm reminded of C. J. Dennis' A song of rain.


Tuesday, 26 March 2002 Echunga
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Somehow I managed to leave a file system on the AIX incarnation of sphinx mounted on echunga before I rebooted it as a Linux machine. As a result, the daily backup didn't run (it hung on a df command), so I tried to reboot sphinx to AIX. No go. Spent most of the day trying to work out why; it proved that I had installed an invalid boot block. The only question is: where did it come from? Interesting debugging lies ahead.

Got a call back from Sarah of Telstra Mobile customer complaints about my complaint on Friday. She didn't understand the problem either. It makes you wonder how crackers have any difficulty at all. Somebody should erase some high-ranking Telstra official's phone account. That would make them take notice.


Wednesday, 27 March 2002 Echunga
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It's amazing how obstacles can dampen enthusiasm. I'm back at the JFS1 file system today, and I couldn't drum up much effort.

I've come up with an interesting idea for a series of articles, though: “Trawling the Ports Collection”, descriptions of ports I've been looking at. I once tried to start writing a book about the Ports Collection, but I've decided not to do that any more. With any luck, we'll have the first article in the April issue of Daemon News.

I must stop putting disks loose on top of open card cages (see my test setup). Today one became agitated enough to jump off and land on the motherboard, removing a blade from the CPU fan:


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Annoyingly, the fan had an odd number of blades, so I couldn't remove another one to balance it again. It made a hell of a noise. The disk wasn't too happy afterwards either.


Thursday, 28 March 2002 Echunga Images for 28 March 2002
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Yvonne put an advertisement for a handyman into the Courier yesterday. We got about 40 replies, far more than we expected. This morning two of them came along to take a look. Two very different people who look as if they might both be good.

Somehow couldn't get started on any real work today, and relatively quickly decided to stop for the Easter break and spent the rest of the afternoon working on my book, which is due to be finished by the end of the month. Not much hope of that, but it shouldn't take much longer.


Friday, 29 March 2002 Echunga
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Good Friday has never seemed very good to me. Today was no exception: I came into the office and found that the ppp connection had somehow died. I still had a phone connection, but I couldn't ping the other end. This happens occasionally, and I haven't found a way of determining which end is at fault. I power cycled the modem and it reestablished without any problems. I suppose next time I should disconnect the phone line and see if it has the same effect.

As a result of that, DNS had failed for a number of my domains. It seems that the backup servers were down too. This sort of thing is happening far too often nowadays. Jerry Dunham disappeared despite having two other name servers: he's still registered with Notwork Solutions, and he hasn't been able to find a way of updating his domain record to point to name servers registered with other registrars. What a mess.

Spent most of the day working on the book, but still didn't make much progress.


Saturday, 30 March 2002 Echunga
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More work on the book today, without making much headway. Also working on a new column, “Trawling the Ports Collection”, which I hope will be successful.

In the afternoon finally rode Darah again. It must have been a couple of months since the last time. Since La Tigre has been away, Yvonne doesn't seem to be very interested in riding, so I don't ride much either. Also tidied some of the last removal cartons out of the shed. They've been there nearly 5 years.


Sunday, 31 March 2002 Echunga
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Didn't do much today. Up late, despite the fact that daylight savings time ended last night. Noted also that it's a bad idea to start a long-running cron job exactly at 2 am: today it ran twice, and in the spring it won't run at all.

More work on the book, also spent some time cooking Easter dinner, trying to come up with a bean recipe I'd had in the Pas de Calais years ago. Only moderately successful.


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