Article History

February 2012




Got up at 10 am. Andrew messaged me while I was taking my morning piss, asking me if I would be ready by 10:15-10:30. I tried to reply but it didn't go through. He tried to call me while I was making my breakfast, and arrived just as I'd walked up to my room to eat it.


Andrew came over after work to download a bunch of podcasts. I asked him if they'd put up the glow-in-the-dark light switch stickers yet and he said no. He hadn't been able to find anything to properly clean them. I gave him our bottle of isopropyl alcohol.

Mum and Dad arrived back.


My new camera finally arrived! I've now got a Pentax LX.

Mowed the back yard after dinner. Boy, was it long! I've put off mowing for way too long.


Andrew came over with Sarah to talk about ISP's.


Tried installing the SSD and 2×2 TB hard disks in Mars. It didn't at all go according to plan. To summarise:

We're definitely getting a new motherboard, CPU, and RAM for Mars at the computer fair this weekend. Or maybe Mum will get new stuff and Mars will get her hand-downs. Oh well.

In the mean-time I‘ve come up with a stop-gap measure that will hopefully be easy to transition to the intended configuration once Mars gets a new motherboard. I’ve setup the first new disk to have a partition table with the boot and root filesystems, swap, and a big LVM PV. I‘m moving the physical extents from one of the old disks to the new one. When that’s done I'll put the other new disk in and just put a PV on the whole device (no partition table). I'll convert the LV's to mirrored, with mirrored logs. When we get the new hardware this weekend, I'll move the boot/root/swap stuff to the SSD, blow away the stuff on disk 1 and also create a single large PV on it. Then I'll move the mirror logs to the SSD. And all will be fine, no?

Then I'll see what I can do with these two 1 TB disks. I had been thinking of putting them in Buster for more MythTV recording space, but at least one of them have been failing and causing problems. Can you still get low-level format software?

Oh, Andrew came over in the middle of this to get more information about ISP's.

Put a roll of Superia 400 in my new LX to test its low-light performance. I wasted quite a few frames though. First, the back door opened just after I had loaded the film and advanced to frame ‘1’. I wonder if this is a problem with my camera and whether anything can be done about it. Then I left the shutter speed at 1/2000th for the next few shots, instead of the intended ‘automatic’ setting. That wasn't the first time I've done that with a camera.


We had a fair bit of rain today and tonight. I finished the roll of Superia in my new LX photographing the rain and front garden.


Tania came over to visit. She's here for “residential school” at CSU for the next week. She's looking quite pregnant now. Two more months to go!


Went to the computer fair. For some reason I was expecting the vendors to still have mostly Phenom Ⅱ-era AMD CPU's and motherboards. Instead they had a lot of FX's and AMD 900-series motherboards. So we got an FX-4100 CPU (dual module/quad core, 3.6 GHz), a Gigabyte GA-970A-D3 motherboard, and 2×4 GB of RAM. I had wanted to get a new gigabit Ethernet switch, but when I discussed this with Mum and Dad they felt my “bad cables” hypothesis should be ruled out first. So we got two Cat-6 cables instead.

Installed the new gear in Mars.


The new Ethernet cables aren't helping.


Went into town to see my doctor. While in town I cashed the money order Grandma gave me for my birthday. I also tried to cash the cheque Grandpa gave me for Christmas but it was non-negotiable, so it'll have to go directly into my account. Oh well. I then walked home. It started raining on me a minute or so from home.


The new gigabit Ethernet switch came this morning.

Dad and I pulled apart the old switch.

I mowed the front and side.


Alissa came over with the kids. They played inside for a bit and then we went out the back. It was difficult to get them to go in the end. Zac started really misbehaving.

Installed Munin on all of the Linux machines. It's producing pretty graphs with hardly any effort!


Spent more time enabling Munin plugins, sometimes installing needed Perl modules or configuring them with necessary information. Now I'm getting even more pretty graphs!

Finally got around to trying out the intervalometer with Mum and Dad's Canon dSLR.



Finally another update to CM7 for my phone! Updated to CM 7.2.0.


Woke up to find the Internet down. Baal was having troubles, reporting that eth0 was up every few seconds. No traffic was going through that card, which serviced the local network. A reboot worked for only a few minutes before it started again. It was decided to shut down Zoe, which has been pretty idle for several months now, and use its network card to replace ‘eth0’ in Baal. The swap went pretty quickly and ended up solving the problem.

Realising that Baal needed to be replaced, Dad started asking about replacing it. I had been wanting to get a Ubiquiti RouterStation Pro for a while now, but it's been discontinued. I did some Googling and came upon the PC Engines “Alix” boards. It looked like the Alix 2d13 would suit our needs. Some more Googling and eBay searching found some places selling it as a ‘kit’ with a case and power supply. We ordered one from an eBay seller because it was cheapest. That should be here in a week or two.

Dad expressed a desire to make the router “as robust as possible”. Namely, he wants it to be self-reliant, not needing Mars, our main server. That mainly relates to DNS.


Woke up to find the Internet again not working. I went downstairs to check on Baal and found that it was off. Hitting the power button did nothing. This machine is so old it uses an AT power supply, so the switch is push-on/push-off type, not the momentary button used nowadays. Looks like the power supply finally packed it in. The fan in it has been filled with dust for a while now, running very slowly if at all.


Up early and off to the Central Coast for Grandma's 89th birthday. We checked into a motel, got her a card and flowers, and went over to her place. We talked a while before having to head back to our motel and get ready for the dinner. We changed into our ‘nice’ clothes, picked her up, then drove to the restaurant. It's the same place we went for Mother's Day last year, which is close to our motel. So a lot of back-and-forth driving! The dinner was nice and expensive. Then we went back to her place again to talk some more.

I watched the end of The Terminator on television. The stop-motion animation of the terminator “skeleton” looked sub-par, but it was only used for a few shots. The puppet/animatronic they used for most of the shots looked pretty good.


We took grandma out on a shopping trip just like we did for Mother's Day last year. We had lunch at a small shop in Tuggerah.

I put a roll of Ektar 100 into my LX and took some photos around her backyard and the village. It was all overcast though.

We had dinner at a restaurant in Bilpin, having two delicious wood-fired pizzas.


I was awoken by a delivery at the door. Our Alix 2d13 has arrived.

I seem to have hurt my shoulder somehow.


My shoulder is worse.

Discovered that I had installed OpenWRT 10.03.1-rc5 on the 2d13, which was released in July last year. So I downloaded and installed the full 10.03.1 release.

Concerned about my shoulder, I looked around on Wikipedia for what could be wrong. The shoulder is a complex joint! I finally settled on a separated shoulder (likely only class Ⅰ) because it was really tender at what seemed to be my acromioclavicular joint.

Managed to compile a somewhat custom kernel, but it failed to boot. I really need a null modem cable so I can see the serial console. I started making up my own but got tired and gave up.

I‘m no longer so keen on OpenWRT. While the web interface is nice, it doesn’t actually do a great deal. I still found myself doing a fair bit through SSH. And I really do want this machine to be a server, not a simple router. Many of the packages I need are not included in OpenWRT and any similar packages just don't have the features I need. So I think I'll just install Debian and do my best to clean it up — make it reliable and robust.