Older blog entries for mikal (starting at number 877)

Robyn's Health

I apologize if there are factual inaccuracies in this post. It has been written with the best information I have available at the time.

My mother in law, Robyn Boland, has had severe liver problems for a long time, and has been in and out of hospital in Canberra for at least a year. This was one of the major factors in being unable to move to Sydney for Google, and was one of the reasons I was ultimately laid off by them. However, Robyn's condition has been getting worse recently and she was transfered to Sydney about two weeks ago. The transfer was because RPA is the regional specialist hospital in liver problems.

On Friday I got a call from the resident overseeing Robyn's care. I was told that her liver had basically failed, and that it only had months of any form of operation remaining at best. The liver failure has resulted in the kidney's having to do more work than normal, and they are now failing under the additional workload. The doctors wanted to put Robyn on the transplant waiting list, which we of course agreed to.

However, this morning we got a call that Robyn is now much worse, and has been moved into intensive care after requiring a crash cart to resuscitate. Emily and Justin were already at the hospital, but the other kids are now flying to Sydney as rapidly as they can to be there. I am staying home for now to look after the kids. We obviously don't know what the likely outcome is at this stage, but things are looking pretty grim to be honest.

So, I'm pretty distracted at the moment. If you've emailed me about conference stuff or anything else, I apologize and will work through the mail backlog as soon as I can.

Tags for this post: health robyn liver sydney
Related posts: In Sydney!; In Sydney for the day; Planes at 600 meters!; Sydney next week; Getting ready to leave Sydney; What are we doing with the pets?; Slack talk at SLUG; Don't use Jetbus Sydney if you want to catch your flight; Travel details so far; In Sydney; Sydney 1, Mikal 1; Sydney redeems itself, if only a little; Google? Sydney?; On the potentially sorry state of second hand science fiction book stores in Sydney


Syndicated 2012-03-17 16:24:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

It seems stickers are a gas

It seems that stickers are a gas -- they expand to occupy available space. We thought we'd ordered heaps of extra stickers to promote LCA 2013, but now we find ourselves running low. That's not a huge problem, but I do wonder if they are getting used or are just in the bottom of people's sock drawers. So here's the plan -- if you've got a LCA 2013 sticker and have stuck it somewhere, why not tweet a picture of it with the #lca2013 hashtag? If you don't use twitter, blog it or whatever and let us know at contact@lca2013.linux.org.au. The best picture will get a prize. I don't know what yet, because I just totally made this up. Perhaps a t-shirt. Perhaps a pet goat.

Tags for this post: conference lca2013 stickers


Syndicated 2012-03-15 16:42:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)


ISBN: 9780441014095
I bought this book on impulse, and I am glad I did. The book is very Buddhist in its outlook, and characters believe in reincarnation, which makes it ok for people to die. There sure is a lot of that happening in this book, perhaps more so than in Dietz's combat books. The underlying story is very different from the other Dietz stuff I have read, and very good. The Legion of the Damned books suffer from very one dimensional characterizations of their female characters, whereas this book has a strong female as a leading and fully developed character, which is a nice change. I enjoyed this book.

Tags for this post: book william_c_dietz religion combat space_travel decay courier engineered_human genetic_engineering
Related posts: The Accidental Time Machine ; Rendezvous With Rama; Friday ; Cyteen: The Vindication; Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; East of the Sun, West of the Moon; The White Dragon; The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; The Last Colony ; Zoe's Tale; The Ship Who Sang ; Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom; Cyteen: The Betrayal; Starbound; Patron saints; Buying Time; Marsbound; Red Mars; Emerald Sea; Snow Crash ; Nerilka's Story


Syndicated 2012-02-26 01:21:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Red Storm Rising

ISBN: 0006173624
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (1988), Paperback, 832 pages
I had read this book many years ago, and remembered it fondly. I wasn't disappointed reading it again -- its certainly a classic techno-thriller, even if it is a little dated now. I imagine it would make less sense to someone who hadn't grown up with the cold war, but within that context its a good read. The worst bit is that given what we knew back then it is so completely plausible. Great book.

Tags for this post: book tom_clancy combat communism thriller
Related posts: The Road to Damascus


Syndicated 2012-02-10 18:13:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

The next thing

It has been a couple of months, so I feel that perhaps its time that I mentioned more publicly where I ended up after Google. I am now a systems administrator at Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu. That's a pretty good fit for me in the sense that I have been a Ubuntu user for a very long time. For reference, I don't love the job title "systems administrator" because it doesn't really match what I do, but it isn't something I'm fixated on.

One of the things I help manage at Canonical is our Openstack infrastructure. Along the way I've been finding a few things there I think can be improved, which is why I've been hacking on Openstack in my spare time. I've had a couple of patches merged already, and am generally having fun contributing to an open source project which I think stands a very good chance of being the Apache of cloud management. It is a lot like the stuff I was doing at Google in the sense that I like working on things which I think will affect the quality of life for a large number of people, and Openstack is clearly in that space.

Canonical is also much more open about contributing to open source projects than Google was, so expect me to be able to talk more about what I do in my work life than I did before. I think its already noticeable that I am blogging more than I did during my six years at the big G.

Tags for this post: work canonical google
Related posts: Taking over a launch pad project; Slow git review uploads?; Further adventures with base images in OpenStack; Wow, qemu-img is fast; Are you in a LUG? Do you want some promotional materials for LCA 2013?; Announcement video; linux.conf.au Returns to Canberra in 2013; Openstack compute node cleanup


Syndicated 2012-02-04 15:50:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Rise of a Merchant Prince

ISBN: 0006497012
CollinsVoyager (1996), Paperback, 496 pages
I didn't really like this book, but I persisted with it because I want to keep reading the series. I thought the previous Serpent War book Shadow of a Dark Queen was weak, but this book was weaker. The book follows the rise of Roo as a merchant, and is improbable at best -- Roo's wealth is generated by cornering the food market for Krondor and I see weaknesses in the analysis there -- surely the Duke wouldn't allow such a manipulation of the market when it harms his citizens, why weren't there food riots when the cost of basic staples jumped to record levels overnight? Basically, it just doesn't seem believable to me.

The sequence at the panthian lair on the other hand is much better, and the best bit of the book. Its a pity it is only about 50 pages long.

Tags for this post: book raymond_e_feist midkemia combat crime fantasy sword_and_sorcery serpent_war
Related posts: Shadow of a Dark Queen; Daughter of the Empire; The King's Buccaneer; Servant of the Empire; The Riftwar Series; Silverthorn; A Darkness at Sethanon; Mistress of the Empire; Prince of the Blood; Magician: Master; Magician: Apprentice; Raymond E Feist's Empire Trilogy; Polar City Blues; Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood; Caves of Steel; Currency; Tipping point: windscreen washers; You Can Be The Stainless Steel Rat; Belgarath the Sorcerer; The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat; Mona Lisa Overdrive


Syndicated 2012-02-04 15:30:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

An update on Catherine's health

In the last week we've now seen the two specialists that we needed to see to learn more about Catherine's pituitary adenoma. The first was the opthamologist, who kindly saw us at very short notice. Even better, he's Andrew Tridgell's brother and a lovely guy. He did a great job of answering our questions and generally reassuring us, and the short of it is that Catherine's vision is not current disturbed and barring another hemorrhage or a significant growth in the tumor it shouldn't be. He of course couldn't rule these things out, but that's because all things are possible even if they are unlikely. The ongoing strategy here appears to be a series of MRIs and visual field studies done every six months or so for the foreseeable future. The only real wart here was that if there is a hemorrhage, which is something we can't control, the prognosis here could change rapidly for the worse with very little warning. There is evidence of a previous hemorrhage on the MRI.

The second specialist was the endocronologist, who we saw on Monday in Sydney. Again he was a lovely guy and put up with our two pages of questions. As best as he can tell the adenoma is not cancer, but he's not sure if it is functional or not (controlling the level of prolactin in Catherine's body). The first steps are that he's going to take the MRI films to a radiologist specializing in cranial scans, and has put Catherine on a drug which should control her prolactin levels. Then it will be a blood test in a month to see if the drug is working, and we'll take it from there. He was talking about the possibility that this whole thing is related to Catherine's sarcoidosis from a decade ago, but he thinks that only a biopsy of the tumor will confirm that. I feel that if they're going to do brain surgery for a biopsy they may as well just take the darn thing out while they're there, but we'll have that argument when we get there.

So, overall not as horribly bad as it could have been. There are still risks if there is a hemorrhage, and its possible that we'll end up seeing a neurosurgeon to have the tumor removed, but we'll cross those bridges when we come to them. The next step is either that the radiologist will see something on the MRI that he thinks needs more information, or that Catherine will have a blood test in a month. We'll keep you posted.

Tags for this post: health catherine brain tumor pituitary adenoma
Related posts: It hasn't been a very good week; JJJ's hack


Syndicated 2012-02-04 02:02:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Wow, qemu-img is fast

I wanted to determine if its worth putting ephemeral images into the libvirt cache at all. How expensive are these images to create? They don't need to come from the image service, so it can't be too bad, right? It turns out that qemu-img is very very fast at creating these images, based on the very small data set of my laptop with an ext4 file system...

    mikal@x220:/data/temp$ time qemu-img create -f raw disk 10g
    Formatting 'disk', fmt=raw size=10737418240 
    real	0m0.315s
    user	0m0.000s
    sys	0m0.004s
    mikal@x220:/data/temp$ time qemu-img create -f raw disk 100g
    Formatting 'disk', fmt=raw size=107374182400 
    real	0m0.004s
    user	0m0.000s
    sys	0m0.000s

    Perhaps this is because I am using ext4, which does funky extents things when allocating blocks. However, the only ext3 file system I could find at my place is my off site backup disks, which are USB3 attached instead of the SATA2 that my laptop uses. Here's the number from there:

Slow git review uploads?

jeblair was kind enough to help me debug my problem with slow "git review" uploads for Openstack projects just now. It turns out that part of my standard configuration for ssh is to enable ControlMaster and ControlPersist. I mostly do this because the machines I use at Canonical are a very long way away from my home in Australia, and its nice to have slightly faster connections when you ssh to a machine. However, gerrit is incompatible with these options as best as we can tell.

So, if your git reviews are taking 10 to 20 minutes to upload like mine were, check that you're not using persistent connections. Excluding review.openstack.org from that part of my configuration has made a massive difference to the speed of uploads for me.

Tags for this post: openstack git review gerrit ssh voices
Related posts: More reviews; Book reviews; Contact details for the Canberra LCA 2013 bid; Working on review comments for Chapters 2, 3 and 4 tonight; A ssh quickie; Review; LCA 2013 bid process opens - Canberra at the ready!; Andrew's SSH filtering causes me pain; Further adventures with base images in OpenStack; Twisted conch; The Wild Palms Hotel; The mechanics of bidding for LCA; Status of the book; Are you in a LUG? Do you want some promotional materials for LCA 2013?; Announcement video; linux.conf.au Returns to Canberra in 2013; Canberra officially expresses interest in hosting LCA in 2013; clusterssh; Openstack compute node cleanup


Syndicated 2012-02-02 16:53:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

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