Greg
Greg's diary
March 2003
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Saturday, 1 March 2003 Echunga
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First day of autumn, which came pretty suddenly this year, and the temperatures didn't rise above 17° all day. Also a reminder that I've been keeping this diary for 2½ years. A lot has happened in that time, and I'm glad the rate is slowing down.

Quiet day, finally some time to look at the book. I've been trying to make the index look more like the O'Reilly standard, with a surprising amount of success. I still need to go through the chapters and weed out inappropriate entries, but at the moment it's looking pretty good.


Sunday, 2 March 2003 Echunga
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Ah, the joy of not being completely overloaded! It's interesting, though, that when I get some real work done, there's not much to report. Rasmus had been complaining about syntax errors in my web pages, so spent some time tidying up some of them. Also went back to my saved review feedback for the book, and added a section about how to handle kernel dumps. It seems that the FreeBSD handbook has lost that corresponding section.


Monday, 3 March 2003 Echunga
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More book work today, this time attacking the table of contents. To my surprise, this too was much easier than I thought. Back in 1995, when I started writing the first edition (“Installing and Running FreeBSD”), I had no idea how to make tables of the form:

Chapter 1: Introduction...................................................   1
  How to use this book....................................................   2
  FreeBSD features........................................................   4
  A little history........................................................   7
   The end of the UNIX wars...............................................   8
  Other free UNIX-like operating systems..................................   9
   FreeBSD and Linux......................................................   9
  FreeBSD system documentation............................................  11

Instead, I chose to put the page numbers directly after the entry. Today I spent a bit of time reading “UNIX Text Processing”, written by Dale Dougherty and Tim O'Reilly years ago, before they founded O'Reilly and Associates. It's still the best book on the subject, though it's been out of print for years, though it's now available in reconstituted source form. I got a second-hand copy after I wrote the book, so never got round to read how to do tables of contents properly. The secret is the \a escape, which is documented elsewhere simply as “noninterpreted leader character”. In fact, it produces the row of dots (or whatever the character is) in the middle of the example. Getting the page numbers right-justified is a little more work, not helped by the fact that the typeset version has different point sizes. Hint: the \w (width) escape calculates the width at the current point size, so if you're changing point sizes, be sure you do so before any calculations.

Spent some having problems with X: I could no longer cut and paste. It didn't go away until I restarted X on both echunga and wantadilla, a thing I hate to do. I suspect a problem with x2x, but don't know how to attack it.

Sent some letters off to the newspapers and my Federal MP about the Telstra fiasco. It's the first time I've written a letter to an MP asking him to solve community problems. I wonder if it will help.


Tuesday, 4 March 2003 Echunga Images for 4 March 2003
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More work on the book today, and had some funny problems. I have a Makefile target which runs in a loop once a second to make updated versions of the PostScript for each chapter:

ymake:
    while :; do  \
      for i in ${SOURCES}; do \
        dest=`basename $$i .mm`.ps; \
        ddest=Chapter/complete/ps/$$dest; \
        if [ $$i -nt $$ddest ]; then \
           ls -lt $$i $$ddest; \
           echo make $$dest; \
           make $$dest; \
           touch $$ddest; \
        fi; \
      done;

For some reason it didn't work properly. Sometimes I'd get empty files, sometimes I'd get syntax errors which weren't repeatable. Took me quite some time to realize that I had accidentally started two of the things, and they were overwriting each other. Got most of the formatting sorted out, but I'm still fighting a losing battle with the page layout of the first page of each chapter, which needs to be different.

In addition, the X cut and paste problem that I had yesterday reoccurred. By coincidence, it was the same as the make problem: I had managed to start two copies of x2x between echunga and kondoparinga (which used to be called sydney), and for some reason this caused cuts and pastes to fail.


Wednesday, 5 March 2003 Echunga
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The Telstra saga isn't over yet. The letter I sent to Alexander Downer seems to have born fruit: got a call from Pauline Schulz of Telstra as a result, and explained to her that I think the entire cable needs replacing, or it will just happen again. She added the information to the existing complaint; it might make some difference.

Later, got a call from a reporter from Daniel Sluggett of the Courier, to whom I had written a letter on the subject. They're not going to publish the letter; instead they're planning an article on the subject. Maybe this time we will get some reaction.

Apart from that, more work on pagination. This is such a pain! Spent some time looking at how O'Reilly did it and came to the conclusion that they format individual chapters rather than the entire book at once. The disadvantage is that there is no last page of a chapter with odd page numbers. In some cases, they put a completely blank page there, in other cases, notably including the DocBook book, they start chapters on even page numbers where necessary. I think I can do better than that.

Made one partial breakthrough when I discovered that the header environment could bleed over onto the next page unless I included a .br request. That was straightforward enough, but chapters with a completely full last page still caused their own page break, stopping me from doing my magic. I need to think of how to handle that one.


Thursday, 6 March 2003 Echunga
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Three years ago today since I joined Linuxcare! What a time it's been.

More work on the pagination today, and finally got it finished. It's amazing how much difference good debug tools make. That's a load off my mind.

The marked up proofs of the book were sent off by US Mail last Tuesday, but they still haven't come, so for once I don't have too much work to do. Spent some more time looking at Samba. What I have is still too little for a chapter, but it should make a useful addition to the net server chapter. Set it up again and almost had it working, with a little help from Tridge, but there are still authentication issues. I need to understand the Microsoft side of things better.


Friday, 7 March 2003 Echunga Images for 7 March 2003
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Had a visit today from Danny, the photographer of the Mount Barker Courier, who took some photos of me in the office (with a big "All Lines Down" display on two of the monitors) and on the site of the Telstra line outage, where they're currently putting in conduit for a new cable. He had a Nikon digital camera with a 14 mm lens and compact flash medium, so I was able to get the photos from him right away, and at the same time put some of my photos on the card in case he wants to use them. Times have changed.

One place where people haven't quite got the message is at the conventional photo development places. I had finished a (35mm colour) film a few days ago, so took advantage of the offer to have a CD-R made of the images. It came back today in three resolutions: 768x512, 600x400 (with names starting with "MED", suggesting that they think it's medium resolution) and 145x96. Total storage usage was 12 MB. Even a cheap digital camera will exceed that resolution comfortably. Still, the photos of the snails in our water supply came out pretty well.

Finally got the proofread manuscript of the book back from O'Reilly. There's a lot of stuff there relating to differences between Australian and American usage, but I think I can get though the rest pretty quickly. The end is in sight.


Saturday, 8 March 2003 Echunga Images for 8 March 2003
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Another anniversary today: six years ago today I arrived back in Australia, to stay as it turned out.

Spent most of the day working on the book manuscript. Not much to report, but I'm glad that I'm through the first 100 pages already.

Spammers are getting steadily worse. Between Friday 1 am and Saturday 10 am I received 2473 message delivery attempts from 218.13.253.0/24, at which point I firewalled them off. Something needs to be done about this, but the tendency for increasingly respectable companies to spam worries me. If there's no legislation on the matter in the near future, I fear that we're going to find it a free-for-all.


Sunday, 9 March 2003 Echunga
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On with the book review, at quite a fast pace. This is much easier than putting in reviewer feedback, which I still haven't finished. By the evening had finished the first 180 odd pages, but then decided it would make more sense to go back and finish the reviewer input as well, so that I could make this the final pass through the content. I'll still need to review the index hits, but I'll do that last.

Rode Darah again today, for the first time in nearly two months. I really should do it more often, but now it's looking more possible.


Monday, 10 March 2003 Echunga
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More book review stuff today, taking up the whole day. Finally managed to fold in the reviews of the first chapters, and now have 10 chapters in the final draft state. Things are looking good.

SCO have gone crazy. They're suing IBM for giving away trade secrets. The complaint they filed must be one of the most stupid documents I've ever seen. Once they claimed to be a Linux company. Now they write:

Prior to IBM\222s involvement, Linux was the software equivalent of a bicycle.  UNIX was the software equivalent of a luxury car.  To make Linux of necessary quality for use by enterprise customers, it must be re-designed so that Linux also becomes the software equivalent of a luxury car.  This re-design is not technologically feasible or even possible at the enterprise level without (1) a high degree of design coordination, (2) access to expensive and sophisticated design and testing equipment; (3) access to UNIX code, methods and concepts; (4) UNIX architectural experience; and (5) a very significant financial investment.

How, after writing that, can they convince their customers that they are a serious contender in the marketplace? It looks like corporate suicide to me.

Note also the \222 in the text above. This web page was done with a Microsoft tool which generates invalid HTML. HTML tidy finds 406 errors and warnings, mainly invalid characters. And they want to be a UNIX house. I think we're going to see them collapsing pretty soon.


Tuesday, 11 March 2003 Echunga
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On with the manuscript. Only got two more chapters done today: I discovered that my pagination macros are still not what they should be, and the page breaks in the complete manuscript were subtly different from those in the individual chapters. Spent some time looking at that, but in the end decided to give it up as a bad job and just adjust the text for the finished book. Grrr.


Wednesday, 12 March 2003 Echunga
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More work on the book today. It's tiring, but I'm making good headway, and I'm now half way through.

In the evening to the AUUG SA chapter meeting, which was held at Ngapartji in Rundle St. I talked about the presentation we made at NOIE last month. Surprisingly few people turned up. Maybe the average hacker just isn't interested in such issues.


Thursday, 13 March 2003 Echunga
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Received a phone call on my mobile from a Telstra “Complaints Manager” called Sam Stewart (female) this morning, offering me $36 as a total compensation for all the trouble I had last month. She had no idea of what was going on, had no explanation why my phone diversions to mobile had gone through New Tel, my long distance provider. Indeed, she had no idea who New Tel were, and I had difficulty persuading her that it wasn't Optus.. Asked to speak to her manager, but she claimed that it wasn't possible, because she is a manager. I'd hate to know what her underlings are like. When it was clear that she neither knew nor cared how many telephone lines I had, I gave up. This kind of stupidity annoys me even more than the line outages.

Conference call in the afternoon, maybe one of the reasons why I didn't get very far with the book, only finishing a single chapter. Hopefully things will do better tomorrow, but Yvonne has a riding party on Sunday, so I probably won't get anything done then.

Riding Darah again in preparation for Sunday. She's been getting more attention from Yvonne as well, and is now much quieter and doing well.


Friday, 14 March 2003 Echunga
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Spent the whole day working on the book. Sometimes things really go ahead quickly, and at other times I seem to spend forever getting nothing done. In the process of reading reviews of the network chapter, discovered a number of things that have been wrong since the second edition, and nobody had reported them. Ah well, this edition looks like being the best of all.


Saturday, 15 March 2003 Echunga
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I've been pretty tired lately, and today I had intended to take a break from the book reviewing. Somehow it didn't quite happen that way, and I got through another couple of chapters, though admittedly I did do less work.

Preparations for tomorrow's party in the afternoon, including riding Darah round the gymkhana layout. She's not doing badly for only a couple of days' training, but she certainly won't come in first.

Quite some discussion about OpenOffice and friends on the LinuxSA mailing list. It's interesting, but also a little disappointing, to see how many people really do like the Microsoft approach. Somebody suggested you could edit web pages with it, so I tried that with this month's diary as it was at the time. The result was completely differently formatted, though admittedly not as much a mess as what Microsoft would have made out of it, and it only got one warning from HTML Tidy. But it's so ugly: here's the first day's entry as I format it:

    <center>
      <h1><a href="index.html">Greg's</a> diary--March 2003</h1>
    </center>

    <h2><a name="1">Saturday, 1 March 2003</a></h2>
    First day of autumn, which came pretty suddenly this year, and the temperatures didn't rise
    above 17° all day.  Also a reminder that I've been keeping this diary for 2½ years.  A lot has
    happened in that time, and I'm glad the rate is slowing down.

    <p>
    Quiet day, finally some time to look at the <a
    href="http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/cfreebsd/index.html">book</a>.  I've been trying to make
    the index look more like the O'Reilly standard, with a surprising amount of success.  I still
    need to go through the chapters and weed out inappropriate entries, but at the moment it's
    looking pretty good.</p>

    <h2><a name="2">Sunday, 2 March 2003</a></h2>

And here's what OpenOffice made out of it:

<H1 ALIGN=CENTER><A HREF="index.html">Greg's</A> diary--March 2003,
OpenOffice edited</H1>
<H2><A NAME="1"></A>Saturday, 1 March 2003</H2>
<P>First day of autumn, which came pretty suddenly this year, and the
temperatures didn't rise above 17&deg; all day.  Also a reminder that
I've been keeping this diary for 2&frac12; years.  A lot has happened
in that time, and I'm glad the rate is slowing down.
</P>
<P>Quiet day, finally some time to look at the <A HREF="http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/cfreebsd/index.html">book</A>.
I've been trying to make the index look more like the O'Reilly
standard, with a surprising amount of success.  I still need to go
through the chapters and weed out inappropriate entries, but at the
moment it's looking pretty good.</P>
<H2><A NAME="2"></A>Sunday, 2 March 2003</H2>

Apart from the complete reformat, it also changed the language, the encoding and the doctype. That's definitely not for me.


Sunday, 16 March 2003 Echunga Images for 16 March 2003
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Today was Yvonne's gymkhana and barbecue day, so didn't get much work done. Spent most of the morning preparing an enormous quantity of spare ribs and other food.

The gymkhana was due to start at 1 pm, by which time exactly 2 people had arrived. They trickled in over the next hour, and things got started round 2 pm. Darah was so excited at the sight of all the other people that she was completely uncontrollable, and in the end I had to put her back in the paddock, both of us dripping with sweat. Back to the gymkhana, not in the best of moods, and noted that Shaleema was one of the guest horses. She and Darah remembered each other, though she must have been gone for 2½ years.

Barbecue after that. Ever since running short of food at a BUGA barbecue a few years back, we've erred on the side of caution, and that, combined with a few no-shows, meant that we were left with half the beef and chicken and ¾ of the spare ribs. We can freeze the spare ribs, but it looks like we know what we'll be eating from Tuesday on: Chris and David Yeardley are coming tomorrow, so we have other food for them.


Monday, 17 March 2003 Echunga
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On with the work on the book. Reading reviews is very tiring; by comparison, the proof reading is pretty straightforward. Spent most of the day on that.

It never rains but it pours. After being left with so much food yesterday, the Yeardleys had to cancel their visit, so we're left with even more than we already had. The reason is not good: David's a merchant seaman, and they've changed his assignment. He's now off to the Persian Gulf, presumably to supply logistic support while the Americans attack Iraq. Sad times.


Tuesday, 18 March 2003 Echunga
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More work on the book, little to report. A few years ago, when I wrote the chapter about DNS, I was quite proud of myself. Today I spent all day going through it and reading Doug Barton's review, which (rightly) tore it to shreds. It's amazing what a few years' experience can do.


Wednesday, 19 March 2003 Echunga
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More work on the DNS chapter of the book today. It took me just about all day, but finally I had it in a condition I was happy with. Marched on into the firewall chapter, which promises to be easier, but didn't finish. I'll be glad when this is over.


Thursday, 20 March 2003 Echunga
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My main iiyama monitor has been getting progressively flakier over the last few months, and today it cut out (powered down) altogether. It was prepared to run again after a few minutes, but it's obviously repair time. Sent a message out to the local mailing lists asking for names of repairers, and got a surprising number back.

Carried on with the book, and by noon I had another chapter done and a second on its way. Then into town to the ADUUG lunch. Last month was the largest I can recall (17 people). This month was the smallest (4 people). Ate at the Air restaurant on the North Terrace side of David Jones'. Food was good, but relatively expensive and not very much.

After that to Internode to get the disks back from the old AUUG web machine. Discovered that the Americans and English (and, sadly, Australians) have invaded Iraq. They had to, in self-defence. Or was it weapons of mass destruction? Or did they just have a personal score to settle with Saddam Hussein? It depends on when you heard them "justify" it. In many ways, this is worse than what Hitler did in the 1930s. At least Hitler didn't lie about his motives.

After that, took the monitor to a repairer on Henley Beach Road. They look relatively trustworthy. Should be ready early next week.


Friday, 21 March 2003 Echunga
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The NetBSD project is 10 years old today. How time flies. It's been just over 11 years since I first installed beta version 0.3.1 of BSD/386.

More work on the book. I had hoped to have all chapters at the final draft stage by today, but there are still six to go. It'll probably take me another week. Will I be happy when it's done!


Saturday, 22 March 2003 Echunga
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After the difficulty I've had in the past few days upgrading the book drafts, today wa s a pleasant surprise: I managed to complete another four chapters, which only leaves four to go. They were the ones I thought would take the longest, too. It looks like the goal of next weekend is realistic after all.


Sunday, 23 March 2003 Echunga
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Woke up dog tired this morning and took a long time getting moving, but rather to my surprise made it through to the end of the book. I still have to write up on Samba and do some modifications to the wireless networking stuff, but basically I'm done. Thank God for that! Now to get the crop marks in position and tidy up the index.


Monday, 24 March 2003 Echunga
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Spent most of the day working on book layout issues. Discovered that I hadn't even come close to the O'Reilly layout for table of contents and index, but was able to fix that relatively quickly. Somehow my index sort program isn't working anything like the way it should. Looks like I'll have to look at that tomorrow.

In the evening discovered that the air conditioner in the new part of the house was completely dead. The control unit showed no power at all. Confirmed that we had power to the unit, and then took the cover off. The results were interesting: the entire electronics, which looked as if they dated from about 15 years ago, were almost unprotected. A dead frog lay on one of the junction blocks. The problem was evident from the smell: the neutral line for the power supply had not been connected correctly on installation, and had now burnt off, in the process burning the contact screw to a point where I could no longer loosen it. Put in a provisional connection to the other side of the junction block, but it's going to need some urgent attention.


Tuesday, 25 March 2003 Echunga Images for 25 March 2003
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On with the index of the book today, and made some progress in getting the format right, but my sort functions still seem to be all messed up. Things were somewhat complicated by an hours-long AUUG teleconference and some forms I needed to fill out for Yana, so I didn't get as far as I had hoped.


Wednesday, 26 March 2003 Echunga
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Yet another day spent with the index. Found a surprising number of glitches with the indexing program, including a number of surprises with collation. One of the problems of sorting upper and lower case as the same thing is that an input sequence like this, as sorted by sort(1) with case folding, won't be re-sorted:

emacs 27
Emacs 143
emacs 91

The numbers at the end are page numbers, which the collation sequence should ignore completely, since mergesort has already sorted them in the correct order. The trouble is that, until the strings have compared as equal, there should be no difference. Then I need to check if one place differs in capitalization. Not a big problem to solve, but it needs to be recognized.

Finally got all recognized bugs fixed and on to edit the entries, which wasn't quite as painful as I thought, though it means going through every file again and changing things.


Thursday, 27 March 2003 Echunga
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More work on the index. I had a horror of the idea of going through all the files looking for index entries to change, but in fact it was relatively mechanical and went faster than I thought. It did take me all day, but I had been fearing more like a week. By the end of the day I only had 6 chapters to go.

Egg on my face. AUUG is holding a Systems Administration Symposium in Melbourne on 9 April. That's normally the province of SAGE-AU, and it would have been only polite to mention it to them. We intended to, but somehow it remained with the intention. Ugh. Called up Andrew Hennell, SAGE-AU president, and somehow managed to tidy things up.

My iiyama monitor came back from repair today, unchanged. Called them up and discussed the matter. It seems that the monitors are not designed to be serviced: you can't adjust them while they're running, because the adjustments are between two circuit boards which are sandwiched together. Makes it cheaper to make, almost impossible to repair. Looks like I need to find a new monitor.


Friday, 28 March 2003 Echunga
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The Internet is coming to an end! It seems that the majority of my traffic is now either spam or attempts to break into the system. I have a tcpdump running on one of my screens, and most of it shows http traffic. Except that there isn't any: I don't allow http packets into the system:

12:19:20.887278 < 67.115.4.226.2714 > 192.109.197.228.http: S 3880403160:3880403160(0) win 16384 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK> (DF)
12:19:20.914302 < 211.99.143.71.7071 > 192.109.197.249.http: S 2623656253:2623656253(0) win 16384 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK> (DF)
12:19:21.067427 < adsl-67-39-75-131.dsl.wotnoh.ameritech.net.1542 > dialup-45.lemis.com.http: S 1581205395:1581205395(0) win 16384 <mss 1372,nop,nop,sackOK> (DF)
12:19:21.357813 < 61.160.27.178.4121 > dialup-59.lemis.com.http: S 1980399631:1980399631(0) win 16384 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK> (DF)
12:19:21.488082 < 61.183.220.253.4197 > 192.109.197.220.http: S 3941882580:3941882580(0) win 16384 <mss 1380,nop,nop,sackOK> (DF)
12:19:21.608819 < puertoordaz-ras4-238.ras.poz.cantv.net.62513 > dialup121.lemis.com.http: S 3050027489:3050027489(0) win 8760 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK> (DF)

Maybe the problems I'm having with sat-gw freezing up from time to time are really a full bit bucket. Wrote a little script to watch the progress:

$ last=0;
while :; do now=`iptables -L -xnv|grep :80|tail -1|awk '{print $1}'`;
  echo `expr $now - $last`;
  last=$now;
  sleep 60;
done

101
109
129
106
137
142
135
157

This script looks at the number of packets of type 80 rejected by the firewall in the last 60 seconds. That's between two and three a second, in the same order of magnitude as the Code Red attacks I had a couple of years ago. At least it's not so expensive any more.

Finished my first pass through the index of the book, and discovered that I still had a surprising number of index hits which needed fixing. On the plus side, managed to get the index looking pretty much the way I wanted it. Nearly got through the second pass, but not quite.


Saturday, 29 March 2003 Echunga
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Finally got through the index. What an effort. Also managed to get the crop marks sorted out correctly, so we're now looking pretty good. Just a bit of review feedback to do, and the book's ready to go. Took advantage of the fact to do relatively little work today.


Sunday, 30 March 2003 Echunga Images for 30 March 2003
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Up early today, partially because daylight savings time had finished. While reading mail, SpamAssassin changed tactics and became a suicide bomber: it worked fine when run manually, but with exactly the same parameters from procmail, it died with an error 231, leaving me exposed to all the spam I had forgotten I was getting. It's almost impossible to debug this sort of thing, but after an hour of cursing and swearing, found that it still worked if I started the spamd daemon and used spamc instead of spamassassin. There should be a better ways of debugging this kind of problem.

The end of the book is in sight! Went through most of my reviews today, leaving only one about the Vinum chapter to go. Somehow I'm still on schedule.

Chris Yeardley came in from OliVaylle today, and in the afternoon we went off riding with her and Diane Saunders. All went very well until Darah injured the backs of both front hooves, and we had to go back. Yvonne took some photos, and while processing them, I managed to delete most of them, after having already deleted them from the flash card. Grr. Spent some time playing around with the image left behind on the card, editing it with Emacs, and managed to get the files to "reappear", but after mounting the image as a vnode device, was still not able to read anything useful from it. It seems that Microsoft-style undelete programs aren't available under FreeBSD or Linux, so I may end up having to write one myself. Grr again.

More Choucroute garni for dinner tonight. I've cut back the quantities of meat and potatoes considerably, but I think we should halve the current quantities.


Monday, 31 March 2003 Echunga
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About the only thing I really needed to do for the book was a section on Samba. I had tried a while back, and couldn't get it to work. Decided to finish the section anyway, and in the process actually did get it to work. As I had suspected, and Tridge had not, the real problem was on the Microsoft side. I'm still not sure what I did to get it to work, but it appears that I ended up setting a different kind of networking configuration on the Microsoft side. Ah well, who cares?

As a result, didn't quite hit my deadline of this evening for submitting the final draft. I still have the bibliography to do, but that shouldn't take too long. Tomorrow, hopefully.


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