Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mouse in your hair is nothing

Just finished Russell Brand's Booky Wook, which is what the title references. Interesting in terms of the honest coverage, but it did feel a little rushed (zeitgeist is everything, darling). At one point he talks about when a mouse lived in his hair (I think it was referenced in the Jonathan Ross interview as well). We can top that. Callum has a nit comb from school; apparently part of the national curriculum to inform hygiene issues. Connor was using it on Al the other night and kept lifting her hair.

Connor, what are you doing?
Looking for bees, Mummy.
Not nits, Connor?
No Mummy, BEES!

Minor casualties from the disk crash

There was some loss - mainly source code for personal hacking. My Jython UnicodeData implementation was lost, although I did have a copy of that in my GMail Sent folder which has been contributed to the committers in the hope that someone with more time and enthusiasm than me finds it useful. Apparently they have. The other thing lost was my WideFinder sketching. I surprisingly did have an early warning that the disk was close to failure, when my implementation (which was clocking ten seconds or something) suddenly started taking twenty minutes to complete. Obviously I didn't pick up on this warning; instead blaming it on some horrible mistake in my code. Some learnings from my WideFinder experience.

  • NIO can be tricky, and should probably have an easier API in comparison to classical IO. It was nice to look at this anyway, and I'll probably have a read of the Jython and JRuby IO stuff to see how others do it, and also the Apache NIO stuff.
  • Java string matching is slow using regexp. I'd not got as far as implementing Boyer-Moore or similar, but I expected to get a big hike out of my 10 second time when switching to that.
  • CAS is good, versus synchronized blocks. Brian Goetz has talked about the advantages of non-blocking forms elsewhere.
  • Java is quite restrictive. I must have been doing too much Common Lisp, Erlang and Scheme recently!


(File under this will happen to you)

Former colleagues may recall how smug I once had occasion to be, when I migrated my old home machine from dual boot with Linux and W2K to solely Ubuntu. My preparation for that was very informed by this, but it was still slightly nerve-wracking to delete everything and start from scratch. After that, my backups got a little slack. A single 40GB IBM Deskstar with content being intermittently copied over to my external USB drive, with very infrequent backups to DVD. Then the IBM drive crashed. Arse. Oh well, still got the USB drive. Then the USB drive crashed two days later. Oh shit, that's five years of my life in pictures and film gone. The first photos of all the boys...
I was feeling physically sick. A few days later and I have a better appreciation for what I've lost. Personal stuff - nothing. The USB drive started working again after leaving it on for half an hour. Everything was taken off that and put on my work laptop, and I still had photos and video on the cameraflash disk and digital tape respectively. Thank fuck for that.

Rebuilt machine - two Maxtor 360GB PATA drives (hey, my motherboard is seven years old!). My motherboard aslo has RAID 1 capabilities, but didn't appear to work too well when I installed Gutsy. It might be possible to do it, but I didn't have the patience and was worried about what happens the next time I upgrade the kernel. So I went for the software RAID option instead. I'm now doing the backups more frequently along with using S3 for anything that would give me serious pain to lose.

So just adding to the general noise around this issue. Look after your data, people!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Cooking pancakes with the boys today, and Connor was getting a bit impatient waiting for a pancake to cool.

Can I have it?
No Connor, it's too hot.

Cue the boy going into the cooking draw to get the oven gloves to pick up his pancake. Clever!