30 April 2003

I wasn't in the mood to advance my life in any way today, so I missed Dad at the office again, walked to work again, made dinner for Tyla again, and got to see Emily again. Actually, I hadn't seen Emily since she left on her latest travel adventure, but I thought I'd slip that in there and see if I could fool you. And then I went and gave it away, proving that I'm really not cut out for this whole "sneaky" thing.

I did manage to make some cunning plans with respect to a friend's upcoming birthday, but I am not at liberty to divulge additional information at this time. Thank you for your co-operation.

Oh yeah, I also didn't get Movable Type installed again. Suck, thy name is Mike.

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29 April 2003

I did a bunch of things today, but the one that turned out the best was walking to and from the office. What a gorgeous day! I hope the weather holds up, so that I can continue to get the nice exercise and whatnot.

Today is my middle-youngest-sister's birthday, and so I went to Dad's office to drop off her card, such that it would arrive in her hands today. My incredible planning prowess came again to the fore, and I discovered only minutes ago that my father isn't at the office today. Sorry, Marla. I suck. (Marla is turning 14 today, just like Sara.)

Tyla's first day at work was yesterday, and yet she hasn't written about it yet. I guess she was too tired, or something.


Tonight's Buffy episode, capsule review: "Huh. I see."

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28 April 2003

I managed to get my laptop revived, using what I now recall is the same trick as was required the last time: unplug the (oh my god that's tiny, how can all my data fit in there?) hard drive from the controlled, wait 15 minutes, boot with it missing to cause the laptop gremlins to bang their heads together in appropriate ways, reinsert drive, write the laptop's service number on the LCD with chicken blood, boot again, sigh contentedly.

And then I spent the rest of the day trying to fix problems with my patch that didn't really exist. Sometimes, just sometimes, I need to realize that it might not be my fault, that our build system might be a little wonky, and that I should start from a newly-clean build. It's OK, though, I wasn't using that day anyway.


Played some Planetside with Fixy and Chris and their krew tonight, and it was lots of fun. I should have been finishing up the Movable Type installation for Andrei and J and Madhava and others, but I was really in no mood to wrestle with software. Besides, I have to let this slide for weeks and weeks, lest the users of my system develop unreasonable expectations of promptness.

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27 April 2003

I have a few days of entries — Coop'n'Kris visiting; in-laws: shopping and dining and birthday celebration; clothing, in which our hero discovers white T-shirts; train travel; small worlds, and the cities thereof; a year of ~shaver/diary — that are sitting on my laptop now. My laptop is not booting, because it can't — or, as I suspect, just won't — see its hard drive. Sort of annoying, because there's some work on there I'd also like to give to Phil and our partners. The work is small, though, so I can redo it tomorrow if I can't bring the laptop back from the dead.

So, yeah, one year. More later, sigh.

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26 April 2003
impatient zero

As a visitor from Toronto, I feel that I have some responsibility to spread the plague within my host city. (Don't be fooled by the fact that active cases are constant-or-dropping, and that there hasn't been a new case of SARS outside the known-to-be-vulnerable healthcare community in a dog's age; Toronto is still seething mass of danger and viral terror. You should probably visit someplace tropical instead, where you don't get those nasty WHO travel advisories).

In service of that goal, I've been talking with a sputter and forcing myself to cough whenever I'm in public. So far, I seem to not have caused Ottawa to fall under the umbrella of our plague, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time. I'll almost feel bad about it when it happens, because my hosts have been very kind to me, what with their provision of futon and Pho and Mexican goodness, but this us-vs.-them thing has to stop. And if people are already terrified to go to hospitals in Ottawa, where they haven't had suspected case number one, I feel they should have their fears justified. I'm just doing my bit, as I see it.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of this little diary endeavour, and I have nothing especially special to present in observance thereof.

We went shopping today, Sara and Tyla and I did, and I purchased some clothing. I now own a mildly-fitted white T-shirt, and I don't know why I never did before. Vastly more comfortable to wear under things than the non-fitted variety I already had, as I'm sure you all knew. Sara says that I need to work out more before I can wear just the T-shirt — she and Tyla tried to back pedal in a variety of ways, but I know what I heard! — but I'm sure she meant it in the nicest, kindest, boy-my-brother-in-law-is-a-slob way possible. Tyla also made me buy a bunch of socks that are identical, because she finds the close-but-no-cigar nature of my present dress sock collection to be frustrating. Also: why was I not informed about this "machine-washable silk" innovation? Reasonably-priced machine-washable silk at that.

At Marroush, home of shawarma that is very much worth almost missing your train for, I ran into Pete Matthews. This was inevitable, because there are only 300 people in Ottawa, and I know half of them. The extras employed by the city to keep the place all bustle-y do a great job, don't get me wrong, but you'd do well to not be fooled by them.

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25 April 2003
vive la difference

A variety of people attempted to convince me that we were celebrating Sara's 21st birthday yesterday, but I know that to be false: Sara is fourteen years old, and always will be. I have neither the time nor the patience to continue debate on this topic, so I will thank you to keep your "corrections" to yourselves.

I always forget about this fact, but my family (families, I suppose) and Tyla's family are very different. I'm not having a lot of luck articulating, even to myself, the specific differences, but they always strike me within about 20 minutes of arriving at a family gathering. It used to be that I would only notice this difference when visiting Tyla's family, but now I get that same "huh" feeling when I visit with my own kin. (Exception: other than some trivial clothing-choice differences, and the fact that I can be marginally meaner to Steph in pursuit of my own entertainment, the Three Sisters are pretty much mix-and-match.) I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but it was a little weird when it happened the first time.

Martha let me drive her car around yesterday, while we were in search of desserts for Sara's birthday, and I'm now a little worried that it was illegal. See, I forgot my license — and debit card, and credit card — back home in Toronto, and I'm not sure if there's any present-it-at-a-police-station leeway for we G1-holders caught without our credentials. I guess it's for the best that I didn't do anything worthy of a traffic stop. (OK, other than that one little I'm-turning-no-I'm-not-tee-hee swerve on Bank Street. But really, if they pulled people over for that, the world would be a very different place.)

I headed over to Chris' and Kristina's to crash last night, because it was a little bit crowded at the Primary Holmes Residence — to whom it may concern: I do not sleep on a "twin" anything — and because I wanted to get an early start on work with Coop in the morning. Worked, for the most part. Also, I feel this moral imperative to impose on these lovely people whenever I'm in town.

Coop and I were going to have a little chat about recovery testing today, hopefully so that Robert doesn't get another mess of surprises like the one I stumbled into on the most recent test-binge. Of course, Robert wanted to be involved in that call, and then Peter felt he should join in — sure, now everyone wants to help with this sort of testing. In other news, I have a fence that needs painting, and nobody is getting any of my bread. (It occurs to me, only now, that we never did discuss in detail the two issues that spurred Coop to ask for my input. I'm such a loser.)

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24 April 2003
big blue room

It's a gorgeous day today, and I'm going to get to see most of it. Tyla is travelling to Ottawa on the 9:30am train, and I got up about when she did this morning. Since then, I've tested a patch, tidied up a bit, assisted the landlord in the installation of a security camera, worked on fixes for a few other bugs, packed my luggage, and played with the cat. Not bad for it still being before 11.

Somewhat apropos the yes-yes-I-know-it's-flawed-you-can-all-stop-mailing-me test from yesterday, a mathematical model for marriage. Is that systematising or empathic? (Apropos very little: the author of the E/S test is possibly related to the British comedic persona Ali G, whose HBO show is surprisingly entertaining.)

There's been a lot of talk lately about Rick Santorum's remarks regarding rights to sexual privacy — an amusing interview in places: "I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about man on dog with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out." — but the best analysis I've seen so far is on the Volokh Conspiracy, where there are about a dozen well-written posts on the topic.

Time to shower and hit the, er, rails.

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23 April 2003
not with a scream, but with a sigh

The Leafs really did run out of steam last night, but I'm not all that sad about it. A healthy Leafs team would have done better, I think, and I have to say that some of the best Leafs hockey I've ever seen took place in this series. And, really, the Flyers were much more "together" during most of the affair. Hopefully, Pat'll keep this excellent roster together next year, so they can finish gelling (like a felon) and return to the playoffs with a little less falling-apart in their D, and a little less of the two-line passing and offside parade that so amused Jacob this year. I still believe.

Kudos to Minnesota for just plain old wanting it more. The West is so freaky this year. I love it. (I am sort of sorry that Alasdair's hockey pool entry is basically worthless now, but I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over it.)

I'm 43 points worth of empathic and 55 points worth of systemising, for a nice balanced brain. I haven't tested, but personally believe that I'm also very little country, and somewhat more rock and roll. (Links to non-Flash tests and more background available on the main "Essential Difference" page.)

Madhava should watch out, because there's a new disease running rampant in the pirate community: SARRRRRRRRRRS!


I just paid my taxes for 2002 — I don't have to file until June 15th, because I'm all self-employed and such — and apparently it never becomes less than terrifying to sling that amount of money around with my web browser. Not that anyone shouldn't trust Mozilla, because I mean, really, it's all good, but that's a major financial shift hinging on the press of one little grey rectangle.


Driving lesson today was OK, but brief. I really don't like this Honda as much as the Mustang — not that I'm really a muscle car sort of guy, but the dead-zone in the accelerator is no fun at all. I'll practice more on Martha's car this week, when I travel to Ottawa for Sara's birthday, and then maybe trick Alasdair into letting me wheel about a bit in his car next week.

Good day for online findings:

Appearing on national television Wednesday, Dosha seemed in fine spirits apart from a gunshot wound to her head and other injuries sustained from being hit by the car.


The vaguely quantitative words "significant" and "significantly" are used 5 times on this slide, with de facto meanings ranging from detectable in largely irrelevant calibration case study to an amount of damage so that everyone dies to a difference of 640-fold. None of these 5 usages appears to refer to the technical meaning of statistical significance.

Jacob had better start training. He only has 360-odd days to brush up on his public urination, indecent exposure and general lack of hygiene before next year's Boston Marathon.

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22 April 2003
catastrophic failures of judgement

I'm not really panicked about SARS, since the fatalities so far have all tended to be the aged. Unless this little crisis drags on for another decade or two, I think I'm out of the danger zone. Some people have suggested that it might be a good idea — I think one of them actually used that term — to intentionally contract SARS while there are still unoccupied respirators in the Toronto area. I'm not sure that's a great plan, but I am sure that this assclown has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad plan. I mean, really. There are better ways to demonstrate that you're not under the thumb of The Man than by endangering your fellow Torontonians.

Some of you might have seen the comic before it was removed, in which case you will likely appreciate, as George did, that they missed a golden opportunity to use "Cherry Tart" in their parody. Now, though, they've been "asked" to take it down, in what seems like a case of lawyer-letter attempting to trump parody and fair use. I guess it's possible that the parody angle doesn't cover their use, since they were intending to parody American McGee's mauling of classic stories and not the Shortcake franchise itself, but I have hope.

I don't have a lot of hope left for the Leafs at this point, what with them being down 5-1 with the third period about to begin. Not that the score reflects the play in this game inaccurately. Bah. At least Beltzner will be able to sleep tonight.

Some years ago, Chris bought a car from this lunatic. I wonder if that's like buying drugs and supporting terrorists, or driving an SUV, or something. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the kidnapping, dog-biting Syracuse tree:

<blizzard>I'm never too jaded to loot and burn
<blizzard>I'm just waiting for my chance
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21 April 2003
giving a little back

I'm still a little giddy about the passage of The Test, and that glow carried me through a handful of nice little fixes today. One of my patches totally breaks things, but that doesn't bother me too much. I'll get to fix it tomorrow.

Phil's been a sweetheart of late, and has been helping me with the little bits of tidy-up bugs left in the rest of the suite. I really do so enjoy working with him, and I'm thrilled that the answer to what next, when recovery is "done"? involves toiling even more closely by his side. Huzzah.

In my continuing efforts to push more and more of my work onto my unsuspecting Coopbot, I drafted a quick note about the first steps in analysis of a Lustre crash captured under UML. Hope it makes some sense. I'm sure he'll tell me if it doesn't.

A few modest suggestions on how to improve the sport of hockey:

  • When the goaltender is out of the crease — or, for purposes of this rule, an enlarged crease-like area — he should not be immune to bodychecks. Many goaltenders act as "third defensemen" to play the puck under forechecking pressure, and that's fine, but they need to be subject to the same rules as the other two defensemen. Within the crease area, the goalie should remain a god among men.
  • A penalty shot should be awarded in addition to, not in place of a two-minute minor. While exciting, a penalty shot isn't really much of a penalty in many cases, and if a goal on the penalty shot invalidated the penalty — as a goal on a delayed penalty call does, for example — there would not be a risk of a "double" penalty.
  • Even if the ice surface "can't" be widened, opening up the game a little bit more through removal of the center line, at least with respect to two-line passes, would be welcome. There's a reason there aren't many highlight reels devoted to the neutral zone trap.
  • I should be awarded Leafs season tickets, including any and all playoff rounds, to encourage my further development of these and other game-saving suggestions.

Go Leafs, and I leave you with some words of sport-relativism wisdom:

<odorizzi>even if the avs lose, remember...there's always basketball!!!
<shaver>basketball is a sad substitute for playoff hockey, Jason
<shaver>for shame!
<phik>basketball is a poor substitute for a razor blade sandwich
<phik>If you worked in my office, I'd cut you
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20 April 2003

I had a nice anniversary post composed, about what motivates me to write, and how it's somewhat similar to what motivates me to program, and what sort of things I wanted to do over the next year. I say "had" because it appears to not be here anymore. It's not like the last time, at least according to my command logs. Huh.

Also, the anniversary is next week. Who sucks? I suck.

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19 April 2003
I wonder where the birdies is

I woke up today to two fantastic discoveries. First, last night's run of The Test I Hate With All My Spleen blew the requirements out of the water, running longer and failing over more frequently than the acceptance criteria require. What a huge weight off my shoulders. We're so close to passing the last test — and then, of course, re-running everything "for the record" — that I can taste it. And like tonight's dinner, about which more below, it tastes great.

The second discovery was that it is definitely spring in Toronto. Perfectly timed, too, because Tyla and I needed to disappear during the landlord's open house. We started by wandering down to Bloor for brunch, including some tasty huevos rancheros: a dish that Chris Blizzard will never eat, I predict. Tyla and I looked around briefly for a new joystick, because the one I've got right now generates random noise for the "stick rotation" output, which makes piloting virtual aircraft more challenging than it really needs to be. We came up empty-handed, but our failings on the computer-peripheral front were more than compensated for by our grocery triumph. I picked up some rib steaks and a pile of pork chops from a little butcher shop in Kensington Market, and then topped up with a bag of veggies from some random market stall. When we got back home, the open house was still on, so we put our groceries away and retreated to the park to enjoy the sunshine — and play with random friendly dogs, as it turned out — until the hockey game.

Alasdair couldn't stay for dinner, which I think actually worked out for the best. If he'd been here, I'd have cooked two of the steaks, which would, I now realize, have been far, far too much food for three people. So Tyla and I split a only-slightly-overcooked steak — I'm still getting my grill-groove back — and some grilled baby bok choy, scallions, and tomato. The improvised garlic-jalapeño-lime sauce for the veggies was, oh, a seven out of ten. I'll do better next time.

There's a pretty good screaming match going on upstairs. Maybe one of my neighbours is an Edmonton fan who's watching the replay of Turco's heinous diving. I hope they fine the crap out of him, even if no EDM penalties were called as a result of his performances.

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18 April 2003
you can take the boy out of the browser, but

Apropos yesterday's mention of wasted time and energy: a slashdot comment I didn't have time to write. I never thought I'd be giving lessons in diplomacy, but here we are.

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17 April 2003
let's all just relax and enjoy the crisis

The Firebird fracas continues to consume time and energy that should be spent elsewhere. I love people.

Coop passed two additional tests today, which made me very happy. Just 2 left now, including the one that I've been working on since the Carter administration. Some day I'll be through this. Some day.

I torqued the setup of one of those tests, but I'm too weary to go back to it, now that hockey is over — along with the Islanders' and Bruins' seasons — so I'll go play Battlefield 1942 with Phil and Jacob. I should dig out my joystick.

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16 April 2003
two steps forward, ...

Phil headed back to Boston today, ostensibly to play some street hockey and get work done, but really because he couldn't bear to watch the Leafs lose a heartbreaker in triple-OT. (Boston television was not showing the PHI @ TOR game.) I'm tired just from watching that much end-to-end-to-end-to-end hockey. What a fantastic series.

Actually, I'm also tired from grinding through logs all day, in search of little edge-case bugs that bite our recovery tests. Yes, I'm still trying to pass that test. Made a fair bit of progress today, including fixing an error case that has been plaguing us — or, at least, me — for literally months. Finally got a client to stop in a state that preserved the failure condition, and then it was just a simple matter of staring at code and logs for two hours. I wish they were all that easy, or something.

Mozilla is going through a name change for one of its projects right now, and it's the usual hell that results when you do anything involving more than five people. I've done a little bit to try and calm things down, because I hate to see people waste energy like that, but there's not much I can really affect. More later, when the dust has settled a bit.

The handymen came by today to start the repairs on the house, in preparation for the showing this Saturday. We really, really need to clean this place up, too, though the kitchen and living room are in not-terrible shape already. If I can figure out the current problem with The Test in the morning, I'll be able to spend the afternoon cleaning in inter-test bursts and then watching hockey with Alasdair in the evening.

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15 April 2003
riding a thermal

Scarcely more than a week ago, it was snowing and hailing here, but today we had weather that I consider to be just about perfect: low 20s, mild humidity, sunny, nice breeze. I could handle another 6 months of this, but we're apparently getting some more freezing rain later this week.

I got some good work done today, with a handful of test fixes and some good design discussion with Robert, but Phil's bitter that we interrupted his work for a walk to lunch and a handful of errands. Actually, I don't think he's all that bitter.

The hockey orgy continued today, with a mediocre-Buffy-episode intermission. Phil was very tolerant of our fannishness, especially Tyla and Beltzner's. A fine dinner of pasta and sangria and pie kept us moving, and Phil and I continued with some hacking after all the hockey dust had settled.

Earlier in the day, the landlord was outside trying to clean the spray paint off his signs, and some random guy was standing in the street yelling and swearing at him. I guess we'll be on the lookout for further vandalism. I have to say that I'm glad we won't be here when they start sabotaging the construction site.

Apropos of which, we accepted the new apartment today. The lease numerology works out quite nicely, since we have a five day window in which to move our stuff a block. What could go wrong?

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14 April 2003

I hadn't realized that Beltzner was at the Matthew Good concert along with us. I wonder if he was as entertained as we were by the guy running around with white LEDs all over his jacket, dancing like a fool. I also wonder which hypocrisy he thinks Matt was pointing out. I recall him talking about Operation Playmate deciding to continue with non-nude photos to avoid offending various Islamic nations — as a rather contrived segue into a description of US troops kicking back with a Bud to relax after a hard day of slaughtering women and children — and his mention of Ernie Eves' claim of wide-spread Ontarian support for the US military action. (I keep hearing that Canada-wide support is in the mid-70s, which makes the Ontario-vs-Canada dichotomy even odder, but maybe he's not had time to keep up with polling data while on tour.) Neither of those seem like pointing out hypocrisy — an activity for which I offer nothing but unbridled support — but there might be something else I'm forgetting. I don't agree with all of Matt's politics, but he's at least well-spoken, even if I think the random anti-American cheap shots are beneath him. I don't know why that previous sentence is there, since it really doesn't flow from the thought before it, does it?

Mom visited yesterday, and we all had a good time. She was even nice enough to not object to Phil and I taking brief naps. Sounds like she might come back next weekend to coordinate a visit with my cousin, which will be a nice break.

Disabling the page cache yesterday helped, but then I had to fix a few other gotchas in our debugging infrastructure — it's like a fireman arson party, the way these tools keep getting in my way. Some semi-routine maintenance on the large test cluster apparently didn't go so well, so instead of being ready for dataset creation on Friday night, we're now thinking tonight will be the night. Or tomorrow, maybe. I fixed some bugs today by inspection, since running tests was foiled in various uninteresting ways.

And now, hockey.


Oh, the hockey. If the hockey were any more exciting, I would need to wear a diaper.

The landlord came by today to ask about the signs he'd put on our front yard advertising the newly-approved townhouse development, and which had been vandalized some time last night. We hadn't seen anything, or we'd have called the police, but it was sort of surprising. I don't usually imagine a large overlap between the neighbourhood reactionaries and the spray-paint crowd.

Those wacky guys from IBM UCD are at it again:

IBM tells us that the absence of Windows key is a result of internal ergonomic and usability studies which determined that putting a Windows key on a keyboard alters the normal typing pattern and makes the unit less ambidextrous.

Not that I'd really ever buy a Thinkpad, but it's nice to know that they're still innovating in the space. And so is Shuttle, who I may reward with a purchase the next time I need a computer. (Even I'm not fooled by that use of "need".)

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13 April 2003
third-degree nomadism

Tyla and I are moving again. The place we're in now is being sold as part of a condo/townhouse development, and we're not really looking to buy it. So we get to embark on a grand moving adventure again, which I approach with the sense of childlike glee usually reserved for cleaning suck-starting septic equipment. At least we're living in the "target" city this time — HELLO MISTER RCMP, NOTHING TO SEE HERE — which can only make it easier.

As luck would have it — or perhaps luck would not have it this way, but was beaten in a Spanish Train-esque bet by some more helpful force — our landlord has an apartment on the top floor of the (enormous, beautiful) house he lives in, a mere block south of us on Brunswick. Further endangering my karmic balance, this apartment recently became future-vacant, as the current tenants gave notice of their intent to flee the jurisdiction, as of June 10th or thereabouts. So we wandered over this morning to check the place out, and were pretty pleased with the prospect. The apartment layout is fairly different, with a combined living-dining-cooking area and a very large master bedroom standing out as the dominant differences. The total living space is comparable, the rent is the same, the hunt would end early, the neighbourhood is perfect. I'm pretty sold, but I'm sure Tyla will have some good questions to ask.

Mom's coming into town today, at some point, so I guess I should get some work done first. I'd really rather be playing BF1942, though.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
12 April 2003

We had planned to get to dim sum for breakfast this morning, but Phil and I got up too late for that to really work out. The Blizzards had to return to Boston early-ish today — with their camera, though there were some tense moments! — so an early start on siu mai events was requisite. I think I had some chocolates instead.

Phil and I worked during the afternoon, as we are oft wont to do. Phil is working on the parallel-RPC code that we started together in Boston, and I'm fighting tooth and nail to just get one bloody set of proper logs out of this test, please please please, is that so much to ask, I'm not too proud to beg. Current thinking: disable the Lustre page cache, which we don't need for these tests, and which Zach will absolutely not want to repair on this rapidly-aging branch, when it's already largely repaired on the main development tree. Such drastic measures are even being considered only because the current state involves a massive, system-wide lockup right after the arrival of the bug I'm trying to get logs for, which means that I can't get the logs. And the crash-dump tools in use on this cluster don't provide a means for forcing a crash, and getting a dump to analyze. (Not that it would tell us much, because I already have a pretty good handle on the lockup, but it would at least be something.) Bah.

Alasdair joined us just before the second hockey-viewing of the evening, wherein the Senators tied up their series, but really didn't put a lot of hustle in their bustle for much of the game. I guess they can get away with that against the Islanders, but if they don't smarten up in a hurry, it's not going to be a long post-season. The last game (STL at VAN) was fantastic hockey; archetypal playoff stuff. It was sort of sad to see Cloutier's shutout broken so late in the game, but it doesn't really diminish his excellent performance.

I didn't think we'd get a chance to play Battlefield 1942, but it turned out that Phil and I didn't have concrete plans for the four-hour period beginning at 2am. That's a pretty fun game, right there, though a training mode wherein one could learn to effectively pilot various vehicles would be a welcome addition. It took us about half an hour to figure out how to open the gate on the landing craft, which was not the most exhilarating part of our gaming experience.

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11 April 2003
an important part of the computer

The test cluster was down for much of today getting some extra disks welded on, so Phil and I ran some quick errands in the afternoon: lunch, pickup of concert tickets, and acquisition of video games that we will likely never have time to play.

When the cluster was returned to service, I got another afternoon's worth of frustration chasing logs and "good" test runs — by which I mean "representative and well-instrumented", not "passing"; I am ambitious, but not insane. Coop did some good work on my behalf chasing people and running tests, for which I rewarded him with some fixes to test bits and actual bugs. I hope he's happy with the trade, because we're going to be making it over and over again until we pass these tests.

The Matthew Good concert was pretty excellent. The first opening act ("Pilate") was pretty good; I might search out more of their music on my own. The second group, "The Dears", is part of the whole Matthew Good tour, and they sucked so hard my ears popped. The keyboardists were pretty hot, though. And speaking of hot, I should clearly have been spending more time at Matthew Good concerts when I was younger and singler. Aye carumba. I don't know how Phil left that place without at least two wives.

Matt also replaced the "super-size" rant from the album version of "21st Century Living" with the inevitable war commentary. Not really my political take, but I can generally handle opposing viewpoints pretty gracefully; that's the flavour of "liberalism" to which I subscribe. I did think that his description of US troops kicking back with a Budweiser to relax after "taking pot-shots at women and children" was out of line, though. Someone appears to have spilled some Michael Moore in my rock star.

Phil and I had planned to watch the Leafs game on tape after we got back from the conference, but some dork-head announcer at the concert told us that they'd lost 4-1. Kinda took the wind out of our sails. We'll save up our hockey time for tomorrow, when Alasdair comes over to watch the Sens try to regenerate some dignity.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
10 April 2003
victim of my own success

Phil decided that I wasn't a liar. We added some more instrumentation — that's right, our 25 gigs of log data didn't tell us everything we needed to know — and I waited my turn for a re-run on the highly-sought-after test cluster.

While I was waiting, Chris and Shona showed up back at the house, so I headed home to kick off the test from there. It went pretty well. Too well, even: it hadn't triggered the failure condition I care about before we had to leave for dinner, so I left it running. Tragically, the test doesn't stop correctly in some failure cases, and so it over-wrote its log data when it looped around, and all was for naught. Over-writing the logs sure seemed smart when keeping everything around was causing the disks to fill up, but it didn't seem so smart when I got back from the evening outing to see what I had wrought. I'm going to get Coop to re-run in the morning, while I analyze an entirely different failure from an entirely different test.

Basic was OK. Connie Nielsen didn't really do much of note, but the rest of the film at least kept my interest. Maybe we should have seen Chicago, with Tyla and Shona, but I really wasn't up for watching Richard Gere sing and dance. At least there was no awful rap act being filmed in the theatre before the movie, as there was the other night when Alasdair and I saw Phone Booth. "YYZ", indeed.

Phil arrives tomorrow, and I have to pick up the concert tickets and do an incredible amount of testing. Could happen, could happen.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
9 April 2003
so sue me

I remembered on the way home last night that I hadn't published yesterday's entry, but when I got home Tyla was on the computer, and I was fricking exhausted, so I just went to sleep. Sorry.

Almost time to head into the office and see if I can fix the clock on the cluster, so that things don't "happen" 100+ seconds apart on different nodes. Whee.


Playoffs started today, so far so good. Toronto won their first game, though they didn't look all that strong for some of it. Going to be a great series, if this game was any indication.

Phil and the Blizzards arrive tomorrow (I think) for the Matthew Good concert, which means that I should probably go down to the Skydome and pick up the tickets.

I finally got good logs of the bug that's killing me on the current test, and it's a doozie. I told Phil about it, and he thinks I'm a liar. We'll see who's the liar tomorrow, mister! (I sort of hope it's me: this bug will be no fun at all.)

I forgot my power adapter at the office, so this is all I write. 'night.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
8 April 2003
was it something I said?

My driving instructor quit today. His back problems weren't getting better, and I guess it occurred to him that teaching people to drive standard wasn't a great occupation for someone with chiropractic issues. I liked him, even though we occasionally seemed to be working from different calendars and clocks, so I'm a little disappointed. I'll find out in a week or so what my new instructor is like.

My laptop has been resuscitated, and I'm now quite loving Red Hat 9. For those who might be following in my path, here are the things that I needed to fix in order to make my Inspiron 8100 work the way I wanted:

  • add support for using the left-hand Windows key as Compose, because my laptop doesn't have one on the right;
  • install apmdfix so that I could use the built-in Ethernet after a suspend;
  • add Option "IgnoreEDID" "true" to my XF86Config, so that I could use resolutions bigger than 800x600;
  • install xmms-mpg123-1.2.7-21.i386.rpm so that I could play MP3s;
  • install the kbd package — which, I'm assured, should not have been deselectable during the install — to quell the unicode_start errors I would get with every shell.

I never did get suspend-to-disk working properly. The laptop complains that the partition isn't big enough, even though I used Dell's utility to create it. I probably have to do something icky and manual, with which I shall likely never bother.

Alasdair and I are going to go see Phone Booth tonight, in spite of rumours of savagely-bad reviews. They didn't show up on Rotten Tomatoes in any significant number, so I'm going to pretend they don't exist. Hmm, I need some food, too.


Phone Booth wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. The little pieces were fine, excepting for the moment some small continuity issues that Alasdair rightly points out, but the big picture wasn't really all that compelling. As redemption plays go, it could have been a lot worse.

I just spent hours and hours looking at logs, correlating network activity across 28 computers in order to find a bug. The logs show "impossible" behaviour, which I may detail later, but will describe now only as a "system configuration problem". Which rhymes with "colossal waste of Mike's time", alas. I guess 3am is time to go home, anyway.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
7 April 2003
rebirth and hubris

Basically since I got it, I've lived with my laptop not doing all the things that I think a laptop should. Like use DMA to make the disk go at a decent speed, or suspend so that I don't have to shutdown and reboot all the time. The recent release of Red Hat 9, in addition to getting Matt Wilson some much-deserved press time, promised to provide solutions to both those problems. So I spent a bit of time today installing that operating system. It went quite well, though the network install took about three times longer than it predicted: over the course of nearly three hours, the "time remaining" lieindicator never claimed anything north of 53 minutes.

It still didn't suspend, though, so I thought I'd try updating the BIOS and fixing up the suspend-to-disk partition. I don't have my floppy drive at home, but I was able to work around that during the installation process — short version: use the pxeboot kernel and initrd, and point grub at them as an alternate boot choice — so I was pretty confident that I could pull similar magic again. The BIOS upgrade was no problem at all: Dell provides a "floppy-less" version, and it worked like a charm. So quickly, in fact, that I thought something had gone horribly wrong, but everything came up roses afterwards.

Then I got clever. I figured I'd try the grub-alternate-boot trick with the floppy image for the suspend-to-disk partition. Slammed the floppy image onto an otherwise-unused partition, hacked up my boot configuration so that it wouldn't try to boot off the partition that was about to get spanked by the suspend-to-disk code — see? so clever! — and rebooted.


That's all it said when it booted up. That's all it says now. It beeps if I press any keys. Smug little thing. I think I'm going to be heading into the office tomorrow, where I can wield the floppy drive in an attempt to undo my cleverness. The lesson here, of course, is that I'm really not as clever as I'd like to be.

My test is going well, though: 27 failovers in a row before something as-yet-undiagnosed goes wrong. More fun with logs tomorrow.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
6 April 2003

Turns out that I was inspired to hack a little bit on Mozilla, thanks to Seth's excellent guidance through the mail/news code and Justin's complaints about account management. I think my fix is good, and I hope to see it in 1.4b. It had been a while since I was last in that source tree, and I'd lost a lot of fluency. Took me forever to figure out which parts of the mail/news code talked to which other parts. I really appreciate Lustre's (relatively) small size, now.

I had another driving lesson today, and my instructor thinks that I'm just about ready to pass my road test. I guess that means the remaining 12 lessons will go pretty quickly. Still need more stall-parking and some parallel-parking practice, but I'm quite comfortable and smooth with the whole "control of the car" thing. Even the Gardiner with waves of spray pounding at the windscreen didn't faze me. Go me. If I take my test in Peterborough, I could have my license by the end of May, it seems. That's a bit of a hike, but it might be worth it.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
5 April 2003
r & r

The only real problem with making more progress on my test is that we now run longer, which means that we generate more log data. Faced with some 13 gigabytes of log data, I took the appropriate and responsible course of action: I closed my laptop, played some Shadowbane and watched hockey with Alasdair.

In addition to my work on availability and failure recovery in Lustre, I'm now doing some business development work as well. I'm quite enjoying it, since I get to use the other half of my communication skills, and spend my time telling people all the wonderful things our software can do. Or will be able to do soon, in some cases, in exchange for eminently reasonable sums of money.

Brendan and Hyatt wrote a new Mozilla development roadmap, and I think it's pretty darned good. Some people are nervous about the move away from a monolithic application suite — even the ones that aren't under the mistaken impression that we're dropping XUL — but I think it's the only way for Mozilla to move forward. I think the new plan is good, since it emphasizes motion towards the practices that have already produced the most promising work in recent months — to wit: stronger, tighter module ownership; small application teams building a small app core with robust extension mechanisms; and a more natural relationship between the "embedding core" and the "application layer". It might even inspire me to do some hacking.

There was something else that I was going to write about here, but it eludes me at the moment. I have a driving lesson in 9 hours, so I should really get to bed and sleep. The "Indian winter" snow and freezing rain of the last few days — hello, it is April, is it not? — should make that especially interesting.

(Make that 8 hours; silly daylight savings!)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
4 April 2003
return of the thing

This is the return-to-diarying that you've been dreading. I guess it was only a a smidgen more than a week, but it really did feel like a long time to me. I hadn't realized how much a part of my life writing this thing was, I think, until I stopped doing it for a while. Glad to be back.

I'll probably start writing about various war-things soon enough, since it's basically impossible for me to avoid reading about it, and therefore developing strong and provably correct opinions. I hope that doesn't bother too many of you; I know there's already tons of war-noise (actually, that's a really good site for aggregated stories) out there on the interweb, so I'll try to leave things that are reported elsewhere, well, elsewhere.

I'm still trying to pass my damned test, and yesterday I analyzed about 7 gigabytes of log data — this is the equivalent of 15 Libraries of Congress run through a mulcher and then forced down one's throat with a hydraulic hammer, in case you're not familiar with the scale of data I'm talking about. I discovered the same important fact twice: neither set of logs contains the right information for me to learn anything helpful. And that's all I'm going to say about that, because if I'm sick of this test, nobody else needs to hear about it either. Until I pass it, of course.

The rest of the code I'm working on is working out quite well, though. I'm quite pleased with how the massive recovery reworking — yeah, I keep doing that — went, all things considered.


I didn't pass it yet, partly because as we get farther along it becomes clearer that we don't have an especially crisp definition of "pass", but we were able to fail over 4 times just now, and then we hit a failure that may not be related to recovery at all. 6 consecutive failovers would be enough for me to claim we were able to meet this initial, explicitly-not-bullet-proof threshold of capability, so things are, for the first time in a long time, looking pretty good.

Furthermore: woo.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
1 April 2003

This is not the return-to-diarying that you might have been waiting for. Well, maybe it is. It's not the return-to-diarying that I'm waiting for, though. That'll come later this week, I think.

This is just a quick note to wish my good friend Deb a happy, drunken, ignore-that-silly-bug-list birthday. Happy Deb-day!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)