It's that time of year again..

It's that time of year again, my hair has all gone!

Slightly beardless me

Posted: 2013-02-18 13:45 in Life | permalink

Public Libraries...

OK - so I've just been reading the Gaurdian Article on Terry Deary saying that Libraries are outdated and should be got rid of. I entirely disagree with him, I spent a fair amount of my youth borrowing books from my local library, when I had no income, and so the only alternative to borrowing from the library would have been saving up for second hand books... which he wouldn't have seen a penny from. These days I buy Quite A Few books (OK - so, mostly on the kindle these days, but still), if it hadn't have been for libraries when I was younger and couldn't afford to purchase books, I may never have properly picked up the reading habit.

His claim that they're killing bookshops is also, in my opinion, entirely wrong. Bookshops are closing more because of the ease of ordering books online and getting them delivered to your door, with a huge collection of books available from large warehouses rather than the stock that a book store can sell easily. We've got a vast collection of literature available to us now, and it's only ever going upwards, no book shop or single library is going to be able to cater for the entirely different needs of their customers. Libraries do inter library lending, which means that the collection of rarer, less popular books are still available (potentially with a bit of a wait), and every time the book is lent the author gets some funds. If he seriously thinks that if libraries closed the number of people reading his material would stay the same I think he's mistaken. He also doesn't seem to take in to account at all the second hand book market.

All I have to say is NYARGH.

Posted: 2013-02-13 16:54 in Life, and Books | permalink

The Weirdness of People

OK - so you go to any place that has a social gathering, pub, club, bbq, anything - why is it that what invariably happens is that everyone manages to gather in the places that are most inconvienient?! E.g. in a pub, how is it that everyone gathers around the point that makes getting to the toilet difficult? Or outside? Why is it that at house type parties/bbqs everyone manages to end up in the kitchen?! (OK - I know that I'll probably be guilty of the kitchen thing, but meh!) - There must be something built in to us to end up gathering in the places that everyone is going to need to go sooner or later, are we really that social? Or is this just a need to be recognised? I don't really know... just that it's very annoying trying to get from the bar stool in the pub (where reading a book) to the toilet was a lot harder than it should have been!

Posted: 2012-08-08 23:11 in Life | permalink

Mira Grant - Countdown

I've really got to get a better method down of watching for books than my current periodic searching and checking and hoping, but...

Hoorah - Countdown release date has been done - and it's only just over a week away - YAY!

Posted: 2012-06-24 22:18 in Life, and Books | permalink

Mira Grant - Countdown

Hmm, so, at the end of Deadline, there appears to be the first chunk of the novella Countdown - and a notice "If you enjoyed Blackout look out for Countdown, an ebook only Newflesh novella also by Mira Grant" - it then seems to have the first chunk of that in print, I'm reasonably certain that it's not the full novella (it doesn't end cleanly enough for that). Now, last year (way back when Countdown was originally announced I commented asking when the UK release was going to happen for it (there's a US release, after all) - that was August 2nd 2011 - 10 months later, we've still not got any news on the UK release, and now we've even got a teaser at the end of Blackout. There's also notes that there's going to be some more novella for the series soon - which will be fantastic, if we ever get them in the UK :/

Ah well, hopefully we'll get it soon!

Posted: 2012-06-12 12:33 in Life, and Books | permalink

Newsflesh Trilogy

So, on Thursday the final part of the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant came out, I'd only been waiting on it for a year. The series is fantastic, and the last book answers the over hanging questions from the second nicely - there's some twists along the way, and it's a Damned Good read. I didn't pick up Blackout (the last book) until Saturday night, as I was re-reading Feed and Deadline first - I'd finished Feed on Wednesday but didn't finish Deadline until Saturday. I picked up Blackout Saturday night at ~ 2200 and didn't go to sleep until ~ 0200 - then, waking up on Sunday, other than doing a few bits of work from 1100 till about 2100 I read the rest of Blackout, it's kinda addictive. It ends a bit abruptly, but well.

If you've not read this series - pick up Feed - if you like it, you'll love the series... also, if you don't cry at at least 2 points in Feed, you're obviously a heartless bastard!

Posted: 2012-06-11 09:50 in Life, and Books | permalink

Awesome, Gnome Power Manager and ACPI

I use awesome as my window manager, without a gnome session around it - as gnome-power-manager now depends on having a gnome-session running, I had a choice to make - I don't need or want to run a gnome-session, so I went on the hunt for a different battery monitor for my laptop. I've ended up using fdpowermon as it does just what I need and nothing more - then I edited the default acpi scripts to do what I had gnome-power-manager doing before hand, i.e. if I've unplugged the AC and I close the lid, the laptop does a s2both. Slightly more configuration, but it now does what I expect all the time (yay!).

I wanted some extra keybinding from the default config of awesome in Debian, so I also created a very small rc.lua file as follows:


mylayouts = {

for s = 1, screen.count() do
    for t = 1, 9 do
        awful.tag.setproperty(tags[s][t], "layout", mylayouts[t])

globalkeys = awful.util.table.join(globalkeys,
    awful.key({"Control", "Mod1" }, "l", function () awful.util.spawn("/home/brettp/bin/") end)


This basically overrides parts of the default config and makes it so that my "tags" are vsplit for tags 1 and 3-6, maximised for tag 2 (where my browser lives) and floating for 7-9 (where the IM client sits, and I do anything involving GIMP). It does mean that I'm at the whim of the default config mostly, but as that seems to be fairly sane most of the time, that's not a problem... it also means that I'm only maintaining a small change set rather than a full rc file, and so new "features" can come in without me having to touch anything (well, other than restarting awesome...).

I do need to either unmap the minimise key combo, or create an unminimise key combo that pops up a menu with the list of minimised windows in it at some point, though - because it's all too easy to press Meta4-n when you meant Meta4-m.

Posted: 2012-03-22 11:54 in Tech | permalink

StarTech IP KVM - SV1107IPEXT

So, at work we have a little single port IP KVM, it is a StarTech SV1107IPEXT - it's not a "bad" bit of kit, if you're completely configured for using it in the way they expect... When you're not, then it throws a NullPointerException when you try to connect with it's Java applet.

This morning (mostly because the monitor and keyboard I had been using for building stuff on my desk has gone missing) I decided I'd try again with the device, it's not on our default office network range, mostly because it might not always be in the office, so I quickly added an ip alias using ip addr add dev wlan0 on my laptop to bring up a route to it. Navigated to the page and asked it to fire up the Java applet. Straight off, a NullPointerException happens - hmm. So looked at what was being logged by the JVM - it was trying to run ifconfig (no, really, the java applet ran ifconfig... with no path...) which, on my debian laptop, is not in the default path... so I went and make a quick wrapper in ~/bin for it... right - now it can run that... still a NPE, hmm. So look a little closer, it's looking for the MAC address assigned to the IP that you're coming from... no, really! WTF! So I went and hacked my little ifconfig wrapper to rewrite the address for wlan0 to be what the KVM expected it to be, low and behold, I can now run the java client (hoorah!).

Why the heck are they doing that though - that's just plain insane! On the plus side, I now have a work around, on the minus side, egad that's ugly!

Posted: 2012-01-19 11:20 in Tech, and Work | permalink

Mira Grant - Newsflesh Trilogy

OK - so I read, a couple years back, the first book in the Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant, before getting my Kindle - it was fantastic, and I wanted more, ... so, diligently I waited and then after getting my Kindle, I spotted that the second in the series was available for pre-order (yay!), so noting when it was due out, I made sure that a couple of days before the release of Deadline, I could read Feed again - having already owned it in paperback, I also diligently bought it a second time for the Kindle (knowing that I would be reading something else just before starting the voyage through Feed and then Deadline, and travelling with lots of paperbacks in my bag was just getting annoying...).

In a few months time, the final part of the Newsflesh Trilogy comes out - and I await it with baited breath. I also note, that, currently it is only available for pre-orders in paperback - NOOOOOO! So, with that in mind, can everyone please go to the Amazon page for the paperback and click on the magic link that says you want to read it on the Kindle!

Also, if someone can work out why the novellas are only available in audiobook format, and somehow makes them available in a nice printed format (well, kindle), that would be great!

(One day I'll get round to re-enabling comments on here... one day... yes, one day!)

Posted: 2012-01-16 22:20 in Life, and Books | permalink

Holy Crap - another set of books to re-read when the last comes out.

ARGH! Have just finished "The Wise Man's Fear" - fantastic book, but still the middle of a trilogy, without the last book in sight... If you've not read "The Name of the Wind" and "The Wise Man's Fear" by Patrick Rothfuss, I seriously suggest going and picking them up (at least if you read some fantasy, even if you don't they're worth a read I reckon).

Posted: 2011-11-23 00:45 in Life, and Books | permalink

Things that annoy me #31294

I use to read rss feeds, it has a nifty feature whereby if a post is changed, it just gets tacked on to a thread for that post. There are 2 things that really annoy me with rss feeds, though - 1 is the people that don't include the full post in the rss feed, and the other is people that include a comment count in the rss feed.

I don't care how many comments are on the post, dammit. I'd deliberately go follow the post if I did, but having that comment count means that I get another one in the thread for NO REASON, the content of the post hasn't changed, dammit. This means that until that post drops out of the feed, every 30 minutes if the comment count has changed (and so the "content" of the feed changes) I get that post yet again and marked as new in my mailbox. Why does anyone put the comment count in the feed, does anyone really care?! If you want to link to comments from the feed, that's fine, just drop the count from it, and the content of the post wouldn't change, and I'd be happy.

Erm, comments are currently turned off here, until I manage to get round to turning on all the little spam prevention fun... just thought I'd have a whinge, really!

Posted: 2011-07-22 14:20 in Random, and Tech | permalink

IPv6 Woes...

So, I'm in a bit of an odd situation where I've got 2 (sometimes 3) stateless ipv6 configurations hitting my laptop a lot of the time - I need to prefer only one of them for the default route, but obviously I'm getting served default routes all over the shop (because each radvd on that network is advertising itself as a default route too)... Now, on my laptop I actually deliberately set one of my own machines as a DNS server on the bringing up of a certain interface which happens to be v6 only, the problem is that only does recursive if you come from a fixed set of IPs, so I get sporadic dns failures if the laptop decides to use one of the other default v6 routes.

Now, being spoilt as I usually am by the kernel, I thought "Hmmm, obvious way to get round this would be to tell the kernel that $interface should have a default routing metric for the default route of 512 rather than 1024". Apparently that was a pipe dream, from what I can tell from the kernel source, routes added are given a metric of 256 if they are a directly advertised prefix, and 1024 if they are a default route, I couldn't see a way that you could at any point change that.

As this doesn't actually exist, and I just realised that I could advertise the route to the dns server (which is on a different /64 to the vpns /64), I'm now advertising that route - note, however, that for this to work you have to have enable a sysctl option to let it accept router advertisements for things that aren't the prefix it's getting or the default.

The way to enable that is

sudo sysctl net.ipv6.conf.interface.accept_ra_rt_info_max_plen=64

Which will enable anything up to a /64 prefix to be advertised at us.

Looking at how the kernel handles default routing tables, what would be really useful (to me at least) would be to be able to set default metrics per interface so that when a route is advertised at it it used the per interface metric rather than the (sortof) hardcoded kernel metrics.

Posted: 2011-04-06 14:03 in Tech | permalink

Discovering Netgear ProSafe switches and IP Power 9258 devices

So, we have some netgear prosafe switches and some IP Power 9258 devices where I'm currently working, unfortunately, these don't always get the IP configuration that you'd expect (or, they get a DHCP lease from a DHCP server that I can't query the leases from...), however both come with little windows utilities that "magically" find the devices and give back (quite a lot, really) information on the IP configuration of the device. Being somewhat of a "oh god, I don't want to use windows, please don't make me" type person, and knowing the the IPPower 9258 boxes were going to a remote site where I'll only have linux machines on the same network as them, I figured that it would be a good idea to sit with wireshark and find out how the heck these tools worked.

Turns out that both just send out a UDP broadcast packet (or two) and then sit and wait for responses - this meant that to get the information that I wanted out of them I could get away with writing very little python, taking the UDP packet that I got back, taking the payload and dismantling it piece by piece so that I could display that information. The scripts aren't at all polished, but if anyone happens to need something (that should work multi-platform, too) to discover either of these, let me know and I can throw you what I've got.

Posted: 2010-09-07 22:00 in Tech | permalink

Life, the Universe, and Everything (or something)

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned... or at least, not blogged for a looooong time. I've been reasonably busy, stopped working for Runtime Collective and started contracting for a small company in Portsmouth, it's been somewhat hectic, and the commute isn't brilliant, but it has given me a lot of time for reading...

Really, mostly a lot of my time during the week is commuting, working, reading and sleeping, haven't had much time for anything else, and have mostly been knackered... I'm getting in to the habit now, though, so am getting a bit more time for getting on with other things. I have, however, gained a lot more fiction books in the last few months, and am averaging 2 or 3 books a week at the moment. Most enjoyed the first 2 books of the Demon Trilogy by Peter V Brett - have to wait till 2012 to get the last book, though - which is a loooong time! Actually, I seem to have made a habit of ending up starting trilogys recently where not all of the books are published, in the case of Feed by Mira Grant I managed to really screw up - not even the second book is due out until next year - but the first is really quite good. I've also got the first book of Mark C Newton's Legend of the Red Sun books, really enjoyed that, but am waiting for the second in paperback, as they're much easier to carry around and use on the tube.

Have read the Millennium trilogy, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The first film, although a reasonable adaptation of the book, misses some good parts of the book, and doesn't leave you feeling as if you know the characters as much.

Am also planning on working through all the Laundry books by Charles Stross, I picked up The Fuller Memorandum on a whim (OK, it was on a 2 for 1 in Waterstones...) and really enjoyed it, so am going to get the rest (when I start getting low on books again - I've currently got another 5 queued up, so it might not be for a couple of weeks).

So, other than that, what have I been up to? Well, played the last bits of DLC for Assassins Creed 2 on the PS3, and thoroughly looking forward to the release of AC3, played most of the way through Lego Harry Potter, wandered about and saw people... you know, the usual things!

Oh, and of course, August bank holiday weekend (28-30) were spent with good peoples at the ever fantastic Debian UK BBQ where much Nero was imbibed, many people spoken to, and some gpg signing done - as always many thanks to Steve McIntyre for a fantastic weekend, to Collabora and Mythic Beasts for the beer, and to antibodyMX and Coding Craft Ltd for the food (Oi, Pashley , stop being crap and sort out your company website...).

Posted: 2010-09-07 21:30 in Life | permalink

So... shortened urls then...

Turns out that I do get shortened urls in twirssi if I manage to install libwww-shorten-perl, so having now installed that it appears that I've got a fairly much fully working twirssi, which is rather nice.

Posted: 2010-03-23 10:30 in Tech | permalink

Twitter and irssi...

So, from the last post, it appears that most people got fed up with trying to get twirssi working in Lenny, and it was suggested that twircd was the viable alternative - I've not tried that (yet) mostly because it's PHP based, and (strangely) I try to avoid running any PHP unless I absolutely have to. Might be of interest to others though!

I'm likely to see about making a cleaner package of libnet-twitter-lite at some point over the next week (for Lenny), but for the moment it's mostly working (I'm fairly sure the URL shortening bit won't, but I haven't tested that yet... right - tested and it doesn't work - fairly sure that's because it relies on a newer version of LWP than in stable... so I'll add that to the list of things I need to work around :)

Posted: 2010-03-15 17:05 in Tech | permalink

Getting twirssi working in Debian Lenny

So, I finally gave in and got my self a twitter account, it is (as one would guess), me, being me, I hate having to have lots of browser tabs open for things that I should be able to access in my IRC client, with twitter this is even more obvious that an IRC client is better for reading it, lots of short messages that are text, why would you need a browser tab for that? Also it means that I've got a log of the twitter messages and can look when I feel like it. All of my IRC is done from my main virtual machine, which is also my e-mail server and web server, and thus, it's running Debian stable (currently lenny), unfortunately this does not include the Net::Twitter library that twirssi relies on.

So, first step first, how much of a PITA would backporting Net::Twitter be... well, I took a look at the dependencies and went "Well, that looks like rather more effort than I want to put in right now", however I then found Net::Twitter::Lite, which you can satisfy the dependencies (well, sortof) in Lenny... they're a few versions out, but they're close...

First part was doing :

dh-make-perl --cpan Net::Twitter::Lite

Once that's finished you'll have a Net-Twitter-Lite-blah directory, which in turn contains a debian/ directory, so you can go in there and do:

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

That should tell you roughly what you're missing etc, from there you can check for the debian packages providing the missing libraries, and what versions they are. Install them and edit Makefile.PL to have the version numbers of the debian packages, you might also need to update debian/control to change some of it's restrictions.

Once all that is done, you should have a libnet-twitter-lite-perl package, install that and you're most of the way there.

I then cloned the twirssi source, and edited it to use Net::Twitter::Lite rather than Net::Twitter, my source is available via gitweb at;a=summary. To clone do:

git clone git://


git clone

Hope that helps someone else out there! If you want my Net::Twitter::Lite package, let me know!

Posted: 2010-03-15 00:26 in Tech | permalink


So, I just went to register for a SeeSaw invite, I entered my usual e-mail address, which is, and got told it was not a valid e-mail address... erm, yes it is, I use it rather a lot, dammit! So, I changed the localpart from iDunno to one of my less used aliases, and that it accepted... this means that they're checking the localpart and rejecting things with a localpart of idunno, I don't know what other localparts they're rejecting, but that seemed a little harsh...

Ah well, now I'll wait for the invite then I can test :)

Update: Apparently if you put the e-mail address in all lowercase it accepts it fine. sigh.

Posted: 2010-02-02 10:38 in Life | permalink

Of TV shows and them being cancelled...

So, I've (only just) got round to watching most of Tru Calling, I'm nearly at the end of season one, and then I looked at the number of DVDs left and went "erm, err, what happened with season two, then?"... This appears to happen rather often with anything shown by Fox... The other show that I really liked but didn't see till a long time after they'd cancelled it was Firefly. Why do Fox do this?! Annoying gits! Of course, the other show that I'm waiting for on DVD/Blu-Ray is Dollhouse Season 2, after which we get no more of that either (go Fox!) - I've also just finished The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2... which I believe has also been cancelled...

Mutter - it just all mostly sucks. With that and the stupid schedule that Disney PIXAR are releasing things, I'm sure that the entertainment industry is just out to piss me off, there's no way that they needed so many months between the US premier of Up and it coming to the UK (OK, so when it did come out here, I didn't go and see it in the cinema, but that's mostly cos I was still pissed off with the release scheduling, and that I'll have it on DVD/Blu-ray as soon as it's released here on that... I own the rest of the Disney PIXAR movies, so meh).

Posted: 2010-01-23 16:09 in Life | permalink

Of networking, bridging and ipv6 tunnels...

So, as I'm not always sitting directly in front of machines that I'm working on I've been using various tools to get temporary network connections between completely seperate network blocks, for example, sitting on wireless outside of my home, connecting back in to the desktop at home, and then connecting to the virtual machines on that desktop - the virtual machines are on their own private network, which is bridged and then routed through the desktop. The desktop machine has an ipv6 tunnel setup using tinc to my main VPS. That in turn has a tunnel setup to's ipv6 network... I then have my laptop configured to also use tinc to connect to my VPS, so lots of ipv6 over ipv4, really.

From that I can then get a 'direct' ssh connection between my laptop and my desktop (OK, so it's actually going over 2 ipv6 over ipv4 tunnels to get there, but it "looks" direct), so, that gets me as far as the external network on that box. From here, we can run a vde_switch which is connected to a tun/tap interface that's part of the internal bridge, once we've got that running, I bring up another vde_switch on my laptop attached to another tun/tap interface purely for that network with a static ip configure on that interface... using the magic of dpipe I then connect the two vde_switches together using vde_plug, and as if by magic, I then have access to the internal networking of my virtual machines, meaning that I can now ssh directly in to the virtual machines without having to do anymore interesting ssh bouncing and port forwarding.

It's a little sick, but it really does make remote working a lot easier to do, it's a vpn of sorts, I suppose, as all traffic is being thrown over ssh pipes or tinc (which in turn is encrypted using x509 certificates)... probably not the quickest of networks, but very very nice all the same.

Posted: 2010-01-22 16:16 in Tech, and Work | permalink

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