Mon, 31 Jan 2005

Backups, Backups, Backups

— SjG @ 10:22 pm

Well, on Friday, a directory on the Snap Drive fileshare suddenly had no files in it. Then the directory itself vanished. Peculiar. Then in the Snap Drive’s system log, it started complaining about “broken spans.”

This was not good. But hey, it was a RAID drive, so I wasn’t that worried. Until I realized that the drive had been configured in so-called RAID-0, which is not really RAID at all, it’s just striping. Hence the reference to “spans.” Of course, in my confidence in the safety of RAID, I’d never bothered to back up the drive. Stupid, stupid. Now I’ll be spending upwards of $2-3k to try to recover some of the data, which could have been $50 worth of time and $100 worth of storage.

Lessons: Know the configuration before trusting the hardware. Make backups anyway. Don’t be stupid. sigh

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Tue, 25 Jan 2005

Philosophers and Flappers

— SjG @ 12:21 pm

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1920, read as an e-Book from

This collection of short stories deals with the bored daughters of the super-wealthy, jaded society girls, lucky ne’erdowells, fallen philosophers, and other (perhaps less expected) characters. The stories vary in tone, in how convincing they are, and general depth:

  • “The Offshore Pirate” was somewhat weak and predictable; the best part of this story was its early descriptions of the spoiled, bratty Ardita, the Paris Hilton of her set.
  • “The Ice Palace” is one of the best of the collection, which deals with regionalism, relationships, and the lies we tell ourselves when we think we’re following a dream.
  • “Head and Shoulders,” while contrived, told a good story of the twists of fate and changes to plans that love can bring.
  • “The Cut Glass Bowl” was a second rate story, but did get in some digs at society mores.
  • “Bernice Bobs her Hair” is an interesting exploration of the battle for status in the leisure class. Direct and brutal, it’s one of those stories I’d had to read in high school, and therefore didn’t properly appreciate. It really highlights Fitzgerald’s understanding of human interaction, and the ways people establish social hierarchies.
  • “Benediction” is the most subtle of set, and has more complicated characters than the others.
  • “Dalyrimple Goes Wrong” is a simple tale of the downtrodden worker being turned to crime, and thus to politics. Amusing, but forgettable.
  • “The Four Fists” is a fun conceit about an ordinary fellow who gets punched into moral behavior, and thus great success.

Fitzgerald’s greatest strength seems to be exploring the inner dialogues of the desperate and disaffected, although he also excels at a sort of insider critique of upper class American culture and the mythology it creates for itself.

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Fri, 21 Jan 2005

First toadflax of Spring!?

— SjG @ 2:30 am

In the back yard, the first of the toadflax has begun to bloom. Awfully early for it — doesn’t it know that it’s only the middle of January? But I guess you wouldn’t know it from the weather. It’s been up in the eighties much of the week…

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Thu, 20 Jan 2005

Progress on War Widow

— SjG @ 9:28 pm

I did more work on War Widow this evening. She’s made with a marbled layer of assorted clay slips, supported on a base of white clay (Laguna B-Mix with Sand). The bones all started as extruded tubes, which were then manipulated and sculpted.

She’s really shaping up nicely, although her face is fairly androgynous. Especially with heads coming from my slump molds, I am still struggling with the subtleties of feminine faces. Older male faces happen easily; feminine or young faces are still somewhat ambiguous.

Here are some fairly crappy pictures taken with the Treo (click to see larger version):
war-widow1.jpg war-widow2.jpg war-widow3.jpg

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Tue, 18 Jan 2005

Slow POP connections

— SjG @ 12:29 pm

OK, this is an esoteric one, but I’m happy to report there is a simple solution.

We migrated Stacy over to using Thunderbird (from Outlook Express) on her Mac to cut down on the spam. In the process, we upgraded her to OS X.
Strangely, while POP connections to our local QMail server are nearly instantaneous on the Windows machines, there would be a 30-40 second delay for her. It wasn’t a Thunderbird problem — we could replicate the problem by telnetting to port 110 — and only from the Mac OS X machines.

Karl finally succeeded in diagnosing the problem. QMail uses tcpserver to wrap connections. tcpserver, in turn, checks back via ident. The Mac OS machines don’t have identd running by default. By running tcpserver with the “-R” option (disabling the ident lookup), everything works brilliantly as it should.