Friday 31 March 2006


"He’s more deceptive than he looks"
"On the surface he’s very caring but deep down he’s a shallow person"
"Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be"

Solar Roof

See on, If you are not looking to convert your loft anytime soon, you might want to look at adding electricity-generating solar panels to your roof.

They don’t look like the ugly water-heating solar panels you may have seen from time to time, which look rather like roof-top cucumber frames; these panels could be mistaken for glitzy roof tiles.

Take a look at SolarCentury, as well as maybe getting a 50% grant towards instalation cost, you have the peace of mind of knowing that not only have you reduced your carbon footprint, you’re earning some cash helping others to do the same by selling surplus electricty to your electric company!

Bobby Robson quotes

"I wouldn’t say that we underestimated them. No. It’s just that they played far better than we expected."

"He’s very fast and if he gets a yard ahead of himself, nobody will catch him"

"My father had 5 sons, I had 4 brothers"

"They’re 2 points behind us, so we’re neck and neck"

"I’m not going to look beyond the semi-final - but I would love to lead Newcastle out at the final"

"Well, we got nine and you can’t score more than that"

"I do want to play the short ball and I do want to play the long ball. I think long and short balls is what football is all about"

"Eighteen months ago they (Sweden) were arguably one of the best three teams in Europe, and that would include Germany, Holland, Russia and anybody else if you like"

"He never fails to hit the target. But that was a miss"

"I’d say he’s the best in Europe, if you put me on the fence"

"Tottenham have impressed me: they haven’t thrown in the towel even though they have been under the gun"

"I played cricket for my local village. It was 40 overs per side, and the team that had the most runs won. It was that sort of football"

"Both teams - and Brazil even - got better on their way to the World Cup final"

"There will be a game where somebody scores more than Brazil and that might be the game that they lose"

"We don’t want our players to be monks, we want them to be football players because a monk doesn’t play football at this level."

"All right, Bellamy came on at Liverpool and did well, but everybody thinks that he’s the saviour, he’s Jesus Christ. He’s not Jesus Christ"

Wednesday 29 March 2006

Shell script wrappers

Sometimes a bash script needs to invoke another program, but for temporary compatability reasons needs to override some environment variables to affect it’s behaviour.
A common way is to do this:

flanger() {
  MODE=compat /usr/bin/flanger "$@"

flanger-test() {
  MODE=compat /usr/bin/flange-test "$@"

and then call flanger as normal.

I had a case where this kept cropping up so I finally wrote this:

env_wrap() {
  local env=""

  # collect VAR=VALUE pairs for environment
  while :
    case "$1" in
      *=*) env="$1 "; shift;;
      *) break;;

  for prog in "$@"
    eval "$prog() { $env `type -p $prog` \"\$@\"; }"

Now I just do

env_wrap MODE=compat flanger flange-test

And it’s all taken care of

Beggars can’t be choosers

There’s many software projects I would donate to, but don’t because they don’t take paypal. Why does this matter?

Paypal is quick, doesn’t involve getting my wallet out and typing in a long credit card number and trying not to make a mistake. And I don’t want to give me credit card number to every random Joe who is short of cash.

The latest is OpenSSH. I don’t know if they have particularly severe financial problems, but I use openssh often enough that I figure I owe them some money.

So I click on the make a donation to the OpenSSH project link, but they don’t take paypal. So I click on the Discuss this article on the forum link so I can suggest "Hey guys, why don’t you take paypal?" but I have to register first… already I can’t be bothered.

It’s a similar story with the Debian Software Foundation, and Advocates For Free Government, both vaguely worthy causes in need of a bit of cash, but they don’t make it easy to give.

So I didn’t.

On the other hand I pay £3 a month to Cedega so I can play battlefield2 under linux.



Thanks Natalia (below);

From OpenSSH Donations at:

I go to:

and then:

and I can donate to OpenBSD via paypal.

I didn’t find this very obvious. That link on the OpenSSH donations page talked about credit cards, not paypal, hence I didn’t click.

I want to donate to OpenSSH not OpenBSD - yes I can recognize that 2 pages away from the paypal page it said I could mark the payment for "OpenSSH" but I’m beginning to lose confidence that my money will go to OpenSSH. DFSG (Debian) donations also got this complicated.

However, I have now made a donation to OpenBSD put down to OpenSSH

Natalia, thanks ot you OpenSSH has another $20

Saturday 25 March 2006

Dapper Dodges

I dist-upgraded from Breezy to Dapper - a bad mistake, lvm shutdown and unmounting at reboot failed and corrupted my root FS like a Labour Lord,

In the end I had to do a re-installation of Dapper flight 5 which leaves the problem of all the Ubuntu missing packages that are required for a useful system.

Here are some of the harder ones, saved for posterity:

For Amarok, install amarok-xine and configure xine to use ALSA - yay!

For dvd playing, add this to sources.list

deb-src sarge main

And then after apt-get update do

apt-get -b build-dep libdvdcssapt-get -b source libdvdcssdpkg -i libdvdcss2_1.2.9-0sarge0.0_i386.deb libdvdcss2-dev_1.2.9-0sarge0.0_i386.deb

My sources.list is:

deb dapper main restricteddeb-src dapper main restricted

deb dapper-updates main restricteddeb-src dapper-updates main restricteddeb dapper universe multiversedeb-src dapper universe multiverse

deb dapper-backports main restricted universe multiversedeb-src dapper-backports main restricted universe multiverse

deb dapper-security main restricteddeb-src dapper-security main restricteddeb dapper-security universedeb dapper-security universe

deb-src dapper-security multiversedeb-src dapper-security multiverse

deb-src testing maindeb-src sarge main

Friday 24 March 2006

b# for kernel modules?

Reading from;

B# (pronounced “be sharp”) is a tiny, object-oriented, and multi-threaded programming language that is specially dedicated for small footprint embedded systems.

It has a mini-kernel, and can implement interrupt handlers. What I want to know is; can it be used to write portable cross-platform linux kernel modules?

More info, and sign up as a beta test at

Thursday 23 March 2006

Is Joking or Choking?

Joker DNS servers are unavailable from most parts of the world for a few days now.

fails miserably, as it does for most joker hosted domain names.

I’m only using their website now because of an /etc/hosts entry pointing to

All these fail:



Whats going on? I’ve filed a support ticket, lets see what they say…

DDOS Attack on Nameservers currently experiences massive distributed denial of service attacks against nameservers.
This affects DNS resolution of itself, and also domains which make use of nameservers.
We are very sorry for this issue, but we are working hard for a permanent solution.
Thank you for your understanding,

Your Team of

Sunday 19 March 2006

KISS of death (Keep it stupidly simple)

GNOME takes the biscuit (Americans seem to like that word lately).

The new GNOME Screensaver UI is so stupid you can’t actually do anything useful apart from choose the screen saver.

I upgraded Ubuntu from Breezy so at least my GLSlideShow screensaver works, cos I configured it before I upgraded to Dapper, but some poor folk are stuck! Dapper GNOME screensaver UI doesn’t even let them tell GLSlideShow WHERE to find the photos! See their cries of pain in their bug report.

GNOME is going so far backwards that only a granny will be happy with it, any one with an ounce of sense will quickly graduate to KDE so that they can do someting the way they want to, see my cries of pain at regressing from a quick cross-fading slideshow of all my photos to a ghastly 5 times showing over 10 seconds for each photo. 

When family members pass around new photos I don’t spend 10 seconds looking at a single one, I certainly don’t want to spend 10 seconds on a load I’ve seen before.

Of course with GNOME, thats what I’m doomed to, until the GUI designers think it worthwhile, but I doubt that they’ll descend from their abstract usability values to something so concrete as actual usability.

Of course I could fork GNOME (free software is all about freedom, which GNOME are denying me) or just move to KDE.

Thank goodness for Kubuntu.

Saturday 18 March 2006

A house, for One Red Paperclip

I was looking for cabin style bunk beds on ebay and ended up getting myself a real ebay bargain: A holday cabin in Wales for renting, for only 10 pence. (preserved for posterity  here)
Rename to .pdf to view full document
I was going to rent it out (as the buyer suggests) but I think I could trade it on One Red paperclip, it could be the house he is looking for! I don’t want the recording contract but maybe he can get something else…

Thursday 2 March 2006

Drivers License Checking

This company, Intelligent Data Systems, provide a driving licence checking service which works directly off DVLA data.

Why would anyone want to do that?

Bank charges and pension post offices

In the UK the banks closed branches "cos there’s cash machines and its cheaper".
Then they decided to charge a quid a time to use the cash machine (now there’s few branches left).

it didn’t last long before all the banks were boasting they THEY didn’t charge for ATM use.

Co-op bank NEVER charged for ATM use and also allowed post offices to be used as branches.
-Which also makes it funnier about pensioners complaining about pensions being paid into bank accounts and not collectible from the post office, and even stranger that the Co-op bank didn’t say "hey guys, get your pension paid into a co-op account and then come and get it out the post office".