Older blog entries for MikeCamel (starting at number 46)


Finally got a new job - at Arcot - starting 2003-04-29. Looking forward to it immensely: it even involves some coding, and they're a good bunch of folks, by all accounts. On first hearing about the job, I was concerned that they might be a snakeoil outfit, but a quick search revealed that their technical advisory team includes the luminaries Tahar Elgamal, Martin Hellman and Bruce Schneier. You can't really do any better than that. Catherine also starts a new job on that day, so things are looking up.


Unemployed. Maybe if I'd posted to Advogato this wouldn't be the case, but the company for whom I worked (until yesterday) decided to lay off 12% of it's European staff, and there was I a technical manager in the marketing department, and guess who got the chop. Catherine (my SO) has just had to take a 20% pay-cut, too, which isn't helping. I'm not actually feeling too sorry for myself, but need to keep focused. Will try to start posting more often.

21 Jul 2002 (updated 21 Jul 2002 at 15:27 UTC) »
Was just reading the most recent diary entries, when I scanned pjf's, and saw something about woody being stable. Did a double-take, and wondered if this was just a reference to how generally unflaky it is, or whether 3.0 had come out. And it has - at last! Well done everyone who's involved. Now, the difficult question - stick with woody, or move to sarge? Hmm.

Went to our friend Wendy's wedding to Carl yesterday, and had a lovely time. I was singing at it, and there was spontaneous applause after I'd finished. I was flabbergasted - I don't expect to be applauded in church! Not in the middle of a service, anyway. I'd put my all into it, though - it's lovely to be able to contribute, and that's what I was able to give. I sang two of Ralph Vaughan William's "Five Mystical Songs" (settings of five of George Herbert's poems) - "I got me flowers" and "The Call" - and was accompanied by one of Wendy's cousins. Spent the rest of the day being congratulated (oh, and eating and drinking lots). Had a wonderful time, even if we ended up going to bed before the bridge and groom left! Good luck to them, and God bless.

Woody: stable. Wow - I wondered if it would ever happen!

one other thing - spare cycles
Most of the time, my home machine sits at home doing very little, so it's got lots of spare cycles. My work laptop does United Devices processing for cancer, but this is Windows only. I used to run seti@home, but I'm wondering what other spare cycle-using projects other Advogato denizens would suggest for Linux. So - post them, or email them to me. Worth starting an article on this?

Flanders and Swann
After a spate of gripping and Ogging, I'm currently listening to some Flanders and Swann - absolutely marvellous!

my day (and iPaq heads up)
Meeting in Reading, which is the other side of London to me, and then some, so up at 6:15 (that's ante meridian, folks), and off the Witham station. It was only when I got there that I realised that there was a tube strike on today (yes, the very one to which RossBurton refers), but it was too late to start driving, so I thought I'd chance it. Got into Liverpool Street around 8:15, and started queuing for a taxi - they were few and far between, but I got lucky, in that after only about about forty minutes, the person at the front got into a taxi and was happy to share. The driver went down the line, and as I was going to Paddington, which was close to his passenger's destination, I got to go - five of us, in the end. Traffic not too bad, and I was there in about 50 minutes. First train cancelled, but second got me to Reading for 10:25 - only 25 minutes late. However, getting back was hell - Liverpool Street was closed due to power outages, and I spent over 45 quid's worth of time in the taxi getting to Stratford, the next stop on the line. The train was packed and late, but I sat opposite a couple of Compaq guys, who were playing with the latest iPaq - bluetooth to a GPRS phone, and very sexy. They suggested delaying to the 3970, which should have _much_ better battery life. Linux is, they assured me, in mid-port. Good news. Got to Witham around 1725. Thanks to Neill for warning me about Liverpool Street!

my evening
So, what's a guy to do after a serious day's travel in London? Go to see Minority Report, of course - which wasn't showing for an hour and a half (I'd arrived 10 minutes to late for the earlier showing), so went to watch Spiderman, instead. A little too much CGI for me, but quite amusing. Bugged by the ending, though - why does he have "nothing to offer" but friendship? Yeah, right.

Fallen Angel
Got home, wrote some more javadoc comments. Dull, but it needs doing. Floated the idea to some mates the other day, and it went down well, which pleased me. Also need to add time-stamping to the protocol. Then create a version for XML, then write up the protocol and the framework, then socialise it (raph, yes, that means you), then go for an RFC. Phew!

Sorry this is a bit long, but should have said: got a new printer (Epson Stylus C80) to replace the one I've given to Moo (Catherine). Took forever to get CUPS to see it, then to realise that I needed to install gimp-print, then realise that it's gimpprint-cups or something in Debian, then install that, etc.. But it's working now, and very good. Why, oh why is printing such a pain to set up?

Hey, Denny - the Posse love you! So - do we know the whole story yet? Are you prosecuting? Were the police helpful? Did she run out of bricks, or what? (-;
-The Bursar.

Mike who?
Got one of those wierd emails today, to one of my lesser known accounts (very little spam, thank heavens), from a guy called Mike Adams. Turns out that he's changed his email address, but at least he gave me a form to send him SMS messages. And enough information to track down his web pages. Seems like a nice enough bloke, lots of pictures of him and his wife, etc., but I have to admit that I don't know him from Adam. Which, I guess, is quite ironic.

Fallen Angel
Wrote some javadoc comments for Fallen Angel (the distributed trust engine that I've alluded to before) last night, and it's going to take more time than I thought. Must get in touch with raph to tell him about it at some point, I suppose.

Want a dog, want one now. The Newfoundland Club have us down for a rescue, but nothing yet. Sad. It seems that Kate (my mother-in-law) has latched onto our having a dog (though, as she rightly points out, they're more the size of ponies) as an alternative to her having grandchildren for now. However, as we don't seem to be about to produce either for her in the near future, I guess she's going to have to wait a while.

Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea is good, but it's far from my favourite. If you're looking for other short fiction by him, try "The Snows of Kilimanjiro", which I have down as the best short story ever written. For longer works, "The Sun Also Rises", and "For Whom the Bell Tolls". I get annoyed with him after a while (and he's not exactly great with female characters), but he writes dialogue like noone before or since.

Was supposed to go to a work summer party on Sunday, but the weather was so nice that Catherine wanted to stay at home and garden, so I stayed at home and read (and moved things in the garden from time to time). Beautiful weekend, and two great barbecues. Was going to write some code for Fallen Angel, but it was too lovely outside.

I've been thinking about getting a standalone Access Point, as the PCI card I'm using doesn't really have the range I need to get around our (fairly large) house with any decent bandwidth (or at all, in some places). However, as I've just had a buy a new printer to replace the one that I've given to Catherine because the XP drivers for her old one are so cr*p, I might hold off on this for a while. I'll either go with the Netgear ME102 or the Buffalo Airstation WLA-L11G - any comments about using these with Linux systems (specifically on ease of admin) would be appreciated.

CUP's all well and good, but I'm not sure I'd be worshipping it! I worked there for a while, and hmmm. Be aware that the Pitt building in the centre of Cambridge isn't where the real work gets done - that's in the Edinburgh Building, out on Shaftesbury Road. Just a note - I created their website in 1994 - we were the first UK publisher with one, and one of the first 20 publishers in the world with one. It was still in the times of "if you build it, they will come". How are you enjoying the UK?

Wrote a job spec. for a role I'd like to fill today. It started off as a discussion document, but someone suggested I stop beating around the bush, as there's clearly a need for it. Security ... We'll see.

A bunch of mates from where I used to work got told yesterday that 10% of them will be laid off. They should hear by the end of tomorrow. Decimation, literally (although people tend to use the word to mean very few people left, it came from the Roman army's practice of executing one out of ten men in disgraced units). Morale's low (surprise, surprise), but I hope that none of my friends are in too much danger. They're "considering their options" (read "looking/asking around for new jobs) anyway, but the market's not good ATM.

8 Jul 2002 (updated 8 Jul 2002 at 11:46 UTC) »
It's our seven year wedding anniversary today! Not an itch in sight, and we're both very happy (well, I am, and she says she is!). We had to be up at 6:15am this morning so that Catherine could get to London in time, and as a result, it was only when she texted me on the way to work that I realised that we'd both forgotten! Presents later.

As I finally moved our CDRW from Catherine's machine to mine (hers runs WinXP, which doesn't seem to want to burn any CDs at all), and I've been reading lots of security books recently, I thought it was high time I did some backing up of data. So I made an image (mkisofs), and then tried to burn it to a clean CD (cdrecord). Hang, big time. Button at the front of the box big time.

So, next time, try it as root. No obvious reason - just thought I would. Same problem. Reboot, try it from the command line, without going into X (sometimes X gets upset, in my experience, and won't respond to the appropriate 3-finger salute). Hang. Same, as root. Hang. Time to do some searching on the 'Net.

And it turns out that if you've got your CDRW hooked up to an off-board IDE card (mine's a Promise one), some people have big problems. So, I think, let's try moving my HDDs to the IDE card, and my CDRW to the onboard. Much swearing and pulling and pushing of connectors, then power and reboot. Machine doesn't immediately find boot partition (which is fair), and tries to use BOOTP. Interesting - I escape it. It finds LILO (which surprises me), and the boot partition. However, it panics on not being able to find the root partition, which is also fair. I'd wondered whether the ide bus had a direct mapping to hd* devices, and now I know.

Pull machine apart again, reattach HDDs to old IDE interface, move other drives around. Reboot - machine comes up. Spend some time changing soft links in /dev, checking /etc/fstab, and then try cdrecord. Joy. So, in the hopes that others will find this account useful, here's something for the search engines to fix on:
"cdrecord CDRW IDE card Promise hang".

Remember I said that I'd gone to see Catherine down in Sussex, because she was unwell? Well, I picked it up, and was up at 4am on Saturday morning throwing up and the rest. Not the nicest weekend, and I must have been mad to agree to see the parents-in-law on Saturday. Oh well, I did spend most of the day asleep in the car while they walked around Stamford, and they did give me a well-done present for passing the MBA, so it wasn't all bad.

being a good husband/friend
Catherine's away in Sussex (about 1.5-2 hours drive away) at the moment, on work. I was working from home today, and she phoned to say that she was ill - nothing life-threatening, but not at all well. I told her to go back to the hotel, and to bed, and offered to come down. She told me to stay where I was. Spoke to her again a bit later (she'd at least gone to bed), and she wasn't sounding any better. So I hopped in the car, which made me very popular indeed when I turned up at the hotel room an hour and forty-five minutes later. I'm home again now (she didn't fancy waking up extra early so that I could get to work near enough to 9am), but it's nice just to do the right thing from time to time. That's love, that is, and I feel happier knowing that she's not dangerously ill.

Well, isn't grip better behaved with ide-scsi? Certainly is. The extra 512Mb of RAM may be helping, but the CPU usage seems well down, and I can now listen to oggs via XMMS and rip at the same time, and even get stuff off the modem(*), which is a huge improvement. Still a bit jerky typing from time to time, but that's all part of the fun. So, my recommendation is that you definitely run grip with ide-scsi (unless you already have a SCSI cdrom drive). Don't forget to add /dev/sg0 (or appropriate) in the config, and to give the appropriate group access to this device (generic SCSI).

(*)Note - after some experimenting, this bit turns out to be rather less true than I'd hoped...

interest rankings
These are new since I was last here. Interesting to see them in action. Important not to regard them as "I'm a good person" marks, of course. I was rather a karma wh*re on /. - until I got to 50, of course. So I'd better try to be sensible about them this time.

Independence Day
As a Brit, this is a bit of an odd thing for me (glad to let you have your independence, chaps, if that's the way you treat good tea, etc.). However, I recognise the importance of the day to Americans (USAmericans, that is), and it's sad to see that it's been spoilt by a shooting in Los Angeles airport. I hope that the rest of the day goes well, and safely.

Scary, scary, scary. I should have included, in my last entry, which was around New Year, a resolution to keep posting to Advogato, which I haven't done. Well, hopefully I'm going to start again. I've managed to finish an MBA (how many m*n*g*rs on Advogato, let alone MBAs?), and now I'm thinking hard about what I want to do. Probably security consultancy - I've got a good technical grasp of the technical issues, and I'm commercial enough to deal with the business issues. Well - let's hope.

It's been good to spend some time (virtual) with the Posse - thanks guys! What else have I done? Well, the new (debian) box is up and running, 802.11b is working, I've now got a gig's worth of RAM, a GeForce 3 Ti200 and a 17" TFT, which makes sitting in front of a machine lots more fun.

I also thought very hard about starting a new company, and decided not to. The other guy involved agrees that we should open-source the software instead, which I think is very positive. I with I could pretend that it was because we care, but it's more about lack of funding - sorry. Give us some time to get our thoughts together, but let me give you a preview - it's about groups and communities, and democratically securing them. Believe me, it's nice, and the crypto works (I wrote it, and it _still_ works!).

Last but not least - all of my emails are now signed - I finally got gpg up and running. Mike Bursell, MikeCamel - you'll find the key in the obvious place. Should we support signing in Advogato?

Good to be back - I'll try to keep this up.

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