Article History

November 2010




Computer Fair. I got a 650W Corsair power supply for my desktop computer. The 400W PSU I had been using was implicated in the instabilities of my previous motherboard - one of the pins in the big ATX power connector was browned from overheating. And it only had four of eight pins for the “ATX 12V” connector. Since I built the new system in July, I had experienced two or three complete lock-ups just like I had with the previous system. So I figured a new power supply was in order. Plus it will fit into my future computer plans.

The plan is to switch to a small mini-ITX desktop system by getting another motherboard and case (using the same CPU and RAM). Then I can put the current motherboard (with a triple- or quad-core CPU and RAM) into my main server system. It'll be a nice upgrade to the aging Athlon-750 (that's the original Athlon) currently in there. When I get some disks to put in it, I'll also move over the functions of my K6-Ⅲ file server. I'd also like to use SSD's in both systems. Checking on Shopbot, prices for 32 GiB models are under $80, which seems reasonable. Okay, that's not huge, and the price-per-gigabyte is terrible compared to regular disks. But it's big enough for a root filesystem, swap, and even some databases (my current server is running on an old 14 GiB disk). And the speed increase is pretty huge from what I hear. That alone could make it worth while, so $80 doesn't seem so bad. I'll still use rotary disks (RAID-1 mirroring) for cheap mass storage.

But all of this will have to wait until next year. Not only is money tight (as it always is for me) but the mini-ITX motherboard I want isn't available here yet. There's not many AM3 mini-ITX motherboards out there.


Damn, my rear-end is definitely mucking up again. I had some strong, dull pains during the computer fair on Saturday, and some more pains since. I think it's another fistula. Considering how long the last one took to develop (months?) and then burst, I might not bother a doctor for a little while.


Ok, my rear-end is getting worse. I called up the local GP practice and amazingly got my doctor for a 10:20 appointment. Dad was home for the day but had taken the car in for a service or something and wasn't back. I had been meaning to to go into town for a while to do some things so opted to take a bus into town. I passed Dad coming home on the highway. I put in a roll of film for processing and got a pre-paid phone recharge before walking over to the GP practice.

My GP noticed the wound that had never really gone away since last month. It was weeping and he took a sample with a swab. He then rang the surgeon and talked to him in terms I didn't completely understand. By the end of the call I had a 1pm appointment to see the surgeon.

I called Dad and arranged a lift home. While waiting for him, Liss and the kids met me and we had a short chat.

The surgeon originally wanted me in for surgery tomorrow morning at the Bathurst Base Hospital. I told him it was my birthday in two days and I wanted to keep it clear. He thought for a while and suggested I get an MRI scan. He rang up the place in Orange (we don't have one here in Bathurst) and managed to get me an appointment for Tuesday.


Oh dear, maybe I should have gone in for surgery today. My bum's worse and I felt sick for a few hours while Mum and Dad were out shopping. I was afraid it was a fever caused by an abscess and that I would need to go into hospital. Perhaps it was, but I sat it out and it eventually went away.

Glenn and Tania dropped in. They were visiting for the weekend to go to a friends' wedding.


My 34th birthday!

Because my rotating sleeping pattern wasn't quite around to normal daylight hours, I opted for a birthday lunch at The Vanilla Bean. We had a long table in the small garden area out the back.

Andrew, Liss, and the kids arrived after us. Sarah had made her own card with a drawing of a “silly pig” on the front and her name written inside. They also got me a present, which concerned me a little because I haven't put together a wishlist for this year and, well, I don't get them presents on account of being unemployed. The present was a copy of The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins' latest book. Andrew explained he got it only because he happened to see it on special and he got himself a copy at the same time.

Glenn and Tania arrived a little late because they came from their friends' wedding.


Mum drove me to Orange for the MRI scan. That was not a lot of fun. First I had to have an IV put into my arm. I didn't know about that part. Then I had to be wedged into the tube of the MRI machine. I didn't like that with my arms by my side, so at the suggestion of the operator I placed them above my head. Then I had to stay still for half an hour while the machine made loud jack-hammer noises around me. I had headphones on but I was listening to some crappy commercial FM station. I should have asked for Triple J. I had to cough a few times and I tried to keep them small but the operator said it affected the scans.

After the first lot of scans I had a “contrasting agent” injected into me through the IV. I also put my arms by my side because my shoulders were quite sore. The second lot of scans might have been faster, but not by much. My neck was also pretty sore after I got up.

I was given a large envelope containing X-ray-style film images from the MRI (even though it is thoroughly digital). When I got home and pulled them all out I found that there was also a CD-ROM included with all the images in DICOM format. A quick install of Aeskulap from the Debian repository and I was scrolling through all the slices of my scan.


Checked out Gource after SparkFun posted about their new website and included a video using Gource to show how their website code had grown over time (a PHP website has become wildly complicated? say it ain't so!). I played around with a bit, first using git-svn to make a GIT repository of my NSK source code (that runs this wiki), since Gource doesn't support Subversion. That was kinda interesting, but didn't show the branching I'd done.

So then I turned my attention to this wiki. I'm still working on the next version, which uses PostgreSQL to store everything. Until then, this wiki is stored in a Subversion repository. This time I used the program to convert the SVN log of this wiki into Gource's simple log format. It looked good, but included all of the low-level, internal bits that aren't that interesting. So I started work using grep and sed to filter the log file. It removes changes done to “internal” files and renames a lot of article names to make it easier to understand. For example, this article named “November 2010” would be renamed to “2010/November”. That way each year (which also have their own articles) is shown as a directory with each month a leaf node. Without these renamings all the articles clumped around each namespace directory.


A little more playing with Gource. I worked out how to create a video using FFmpeg. Once I'm happy with this I might post some to Youtube or Vimeo.

I started work on a Perl program to trawl an IMAP store of email and produce a Gource log file. The idea was to be able to watch people posting emails over time. We have a fairly large and old store of emails on the family Cyrus server, going back at least ten years.

Some issues though:

The current version constructs faux file paths from the folder path and the subject line. It also doesn't sort the lines, which is easily done externally. Since I also filter out spam messages with grep -v at the same time, this isn't a big issue for me.

But I'm thinking a better method would be to use the Message-id: and In-reply-to: headers to track replies. This would mean replies are marked as “M”odifications to the original instead of creating new faux files. However this raises the problem of where to place these messages - if I start a thread, the first message will be in my “Sent” folder. Should this faux file be moved to the folder of the first reply (e.g “Family”, “Friends”, etc)? What if there are multiple replies and they end up in different folders?


Rang the surgeon about my MRI results. They busy and haven't been done yet. He told me to ring him on Tuesday, which will have been a week from when the MRI was performed.


Installed Mesa 7.9 from the ‘experimental’ branch of Debian. This gives me OpenGL 2.1 functionality, whereas Mesa 7.7 only gave me OpenGL 1.5. In particular, it lets me play around with WebGL in Firefox 4.0 beta. It's a little unstable - both Mesa and FF 4. The Mesa/Gallium3D development is advancing at a good pace. With a proper r600 driver (and lots of interesting things coming along) I could actually make use of a separate Radeon graphics card.


Looking at graphics cards, although I don't plan on getting one for a while. Just looking. I‘m focusing on fan-less models because I want a quiet machine. I’m also rethinking my earlier plans for a mini-ITX system. Now that I think about it, I don't really need a small system. My interest in mini-ITX came from the desire for a quiet system and finding VIA's fan-less mini-ITX motherboards. But I've since abandoned VIA - they have very poor Linux support.

The big advantage of not going the mini-ITX route is that many more (AMD) motherboards are available.


The surgeon got back to me with the results of the MRI - no inflammation. We made an appointment for me to come in on Thursday.


My new LCD monitor came today! It's a Samsung 2443BW+, a 24 inch LCD with a resolution of 1920×1200. I specifically looked for this resolution because I‘ve been using 1600×1200 on my CRT monitor for a decade now and didn’t want to lose height.


Saw the surgeon. He had another look at my rear end and found a small fistula just below the skin. He said that's what would have been causing my pains. He booked me in for surgery on next Thursday (the 2nd) and said he'd specifically check me beforehand to avoid the waste of time that occurred last time I went in for this surgery.


Dad and I drove over to Andrew and Alissa's to look after the kids while Alissa had a driving lesson. I suggested we go to the playground at the start of the street. We couldn't find any keys but knew that Andrew would be getting home soon anyway, so we just locked the door behind us and started walking up the street. On the way I texted Andrew about our plans. It was a good ten minute walk with a steep section. As we got close to the park I saw a car that might have been Andrew's turning to go around the park. Sure enough, when we got there his car was parked and Andrew was sitting on the play equipment under the shade cloth. The kids liked finding Daddy at the playground. They played on the various bits of equipment while we talked.