Tue, 08 Jul 2008
Back in to the fold!
It's been a while since I posted anything here but now seems like as good a time as any to get back in to the wider world of tech. Where's a good place to start? Since this years YAPC::EU only has two or three talks I want to see I've decided to use the cash (and holiday time) and invest them in to PyCon UK instead.
Sat, 01 Mar 2008
Unemployed - Again
I'm far happier than I should be to announce that as of about 39 minutes ago I am once more unemployed. My two month contract finished on time and I'm looking forward to being a strain on society for the entire weekend. I start a new role Monday morning (not sure what I can and can't say about it yet) but I'm looking forward to getting my teeth in to their technical challenges rather than just advising.
Thanks to everyone who sent me links and leads when I posted about leaving my last job, they were much appreciated.
Sun, 26 Aug 2007
Attending YAPC::Europe 2007 - Maybe
I've been quiet recently for "medical reasons". I've been suffering from a pain in the side that seems to strike strongly when I'm sitting, laying or standing up - yes, that doesn't leave a lot :) It's present most of the time but tolerable unless I sit in certain positions or chairs. It's not been too bad at work as the office has very nice seats but I drastically reduced my time spent online (my home desk setup seems to annoy it) while I waited to find out what's wrong. It's the geek in me but things don't seem to bad once you can put a name to them.
Although I'm still waiting for results from a number of tests, the basic view (ultrasounds are cool) seems to be I have Gall stones, an infection and inflammation (the latter of which is probably due to the infection, which is probably due to the gall stones; woo).
And so we get to YAPC::EU, I've got tickets, a hotel booked and a list of people I'd like to catch up with but I'm still not sure if I'll be going or not; but that's OK, I've got... oh 15 hours to decide. This does mean I won't be going to Linux Conf AU 2008 though. I doubt this'll be resolved by then and the two long flights to Sydney this year were awkward enough without the extra problems and pain I'd have to put up with this time around.
Mon, 14 May 2007
The legal issues surrounding my grandfathers estate are heating up again. Which takes a lot of my time and energy (and money).
Builders have been in and redone the kitchen in the flat. It flooded a couple of months ago and now looks shiny and new again. Which means I've not been able to move about in here much for the last week or so. Should be finished tomorrow.
I've started writing blog entries for work. I'm not used to watching my published words quite so carefully. I also can't make the same assumptions about my audience.
We're starting to feel some time pressure at work (we've got a number of big announcements at a large tech conference in a couple of months) so I did my first weekend in a long time. It was all new software to me (FAI and Puppet). We're re-doing our provisioning so I quite enjoyed it. Note to future employers - give me interesting things to do and I'll work seven day weeks. Even on salary.
An old friend of mine broke up with his long term girlfriend and has needed equal parts sympathy and nights out. Which has eaten most of my social life. They're now back together.
I'd like my life back now. Please?
Mon, 26 Jun 2006
Dealing With RSS Backlogs
The work is done, the script is written and from this Sunday night my RSS aggregator will kill any post that's from before noon on Saturday. This is all part of my (proably pointless) attempt to prevent backlogs and pile ups of unread things. I'm not going to release any of the (very hacky) scripts as they all assume lots about their running environment but I thought I'd mention it in case I can inspire anyone (Lee) to clear out their queues every now and again. (Lee)
Sat, 04 Mar 2006
firstname.lastname@example.org - Gone!
If you want to contact me then please use the gmail address given on the About Me page. While email@example.com was my main address for a number of years (about seven) it's been getting less and less use over the last 18 months, I now send all my mail via a different address, and it's finally time to put it to sleep. It's gone as of the end of February.
Sat, 12 Nov 2005
Being Sick Sucks
I've been out of action for the last week and a bit due to illness, this may have something to do with all the windows where I live being removed and left out overnight by incompetent, unprepared builders. Nothing like trying to sleep through a minor gale. In WINTER. When it's raining. And you have NO WINDOWS!
On the plus side I know my email system's working fine, I've got a big enough backlog to prove that. I've also got an announcement about the frameworks evening to send out shortly, I'm just waiting for a final confirmation.
Thu, 29 Sep 2005
Short Planet Outage
In what is just another in a long line of things that have been sent to test me over the last couple of weeks, today one of my sites got hit by a group of machines trying to do not nice things. The result? A load of 56 and a very slow machine. I stopped apache for a while, put some "measures" in place and we're back up running.
I've never bothered to make blosxom cache or anything to keep the load low, not having that much traffic always achieved the same goal, but I'll try and pencil some time in to take a look. Learn from your mistakes and all that.
Thu, 18 Aug 2005
I've just finished upgrading the server that hosts my mail and websites from Debian woody to sarge. The upgrade itself was pretty painless (except for apache vanishing...) and should now allow me to install modern perl modules without a lot of messing around. If you've tried to mail me and got a bounce then please retry, everything should be working again now. Of course if it isn't then you can't email me to let me know anyway ;)
Sun, 24 Apr 2005
I've been out of touch with most of the world (and reality) for most of the last seven days due to personal and professional demands on my (ever so badly managed time). The one thing I've concluded is that I need a new, light, laptop and a source code control system that has a sensible off-line mode. The ability to use SSH and the web over my Treo would be a bonus. I've been looking at some older Sony Vaios (very small) and the quite new and shiny Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebooks and I'll do some digging over the next couple of months to work out which looks most promising (and in my budget!); but it won't be a mac. I don't like them that much.
Update: A quote from my review of Painless Project Management with FogBugz has been used on the Apress Project Management with FogBugz page!
Tue, 15 Feb 2005
Slashdot review of Pragmatic Subversion -- The Aftermath
I was pretty surprised when Slashdot accepted my submission, a Pragmatic Version control Subversion book review. I was even more surprised when it hit th front page and for about twelve minutes my name was one of the first things on slashdot!
After this short lapse into geek I logged into my bytemark machine and battened down the hatches. I shut down all unneeded daemons and prepared for the server to go down. The only thing that upset my plans was the absence of the Slashdot Effect.
In total I got the best part of 500 new readers when the article hit and then these dropped down by three hundred or so over the next few days. As my record for unixdaemon.net is over 1700 people in a day this isn't exactly a worrying amount. With hind-site (and after restarting a couple of daemons) it is pretty logical, the whole review was on slashdot, there wasn't much of a reason to follow the links back here. Everyone was interested in the review rather than me so the traffic wasn't going to spike as badly as I thought.
The article itself received a lot of interesting comments (which I'm thankful for) and only a couple of little niggles. One reader picked up a mistake in grammar which I'm annoyed I missed. A second one was curious as to how I had a review copy and was paranoid about any back handers I may have received to write the review. If only I was that predictable! All in all it was a pleasant experience that made the extra time spent on the review worth while. And to everyone who commented on the review; thank you.
Sun, 23 Jan 2005
Unixdaemon.net Site Upheavals
You may have noticed the abscense of my sites and received bounced emails yesterday, this is due to the machine that this site was being hosted on getting cracked via a vulnerability in a PHP application.
That machine was a shared box that had a number of people looking after it, but with no central responsibility or formal plans in place. I'm now running on a Bytemark box, which I bought for this purpose about six months ago, and just never got around to finishing, which is going to be my new home. I had a known good set of backups to restore from and after some final Apache, Postfix and DNS fiddeling (I had this machine as my qa site in the past) things should be setteling down nicely.
Sat, 15 Jan 2005
This Blog Validates!
Well at least the main page does for the first time since I added the Google Search on the left hand side. I've had a fiddle with the HTML and between removing some styles, turning some in to CSS and re-arranging the tags it now passes validation.
The other occasional problem I've had is Blosxoms desire to auto-wrap each post in <p> tags. In a casual conversation a very smart chap named Simon Rumble pointed out that you just need to start the post without a <p> and end it without a closing </p> and it works perfectly. It's never been a huge issue to me but thanks to his advice it never will be. As for the older posts that do end with a </p>, I'll get aound to fixing those when I get the chance.
Mon, 20 Dec 2004
Short Term Sabbatical
This year has been a pretty rough one for me, too many good people gone forever with nary a replacement in sight, the proving of "no news is good news" (one more "are you sitting down" phone call and I'm either gonna go boom or crack) and lots of crap rained down from above. In response to life taking a firm hold of my dangly bits I've decided to take the next eleven days out and then start afresh from January (I know it's only a symbolic date) with a clear head, a lot more enthusiasm and a lighter tone.
In the mean time my site / blog / email / apps should all be considered suspended while I get some things in order. I'll hopefully be back in the New Year with a lot more tech to post and code to share.
Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and thanks for reading
Dean Wilson -- Site Owner and Tech Rambler
Sat, 16 Oct 2004
Stock Photos Considered (Non-)Harmful
As anyone who has ever read this site will have noticed, I have no artistic ability; and a love of torturing innocent punctuation :). Even the comet tail / mosaic at the top of almost every page was done for me by an amazingly talented guy called Pete Jones.
One of my side projects (which typically move at near glacial speed) could do with a splash of colour and some photos. A quick google around led me to iStockPhoto which, in addition to having a great little tag line (The designer's dirty little secret), has some great images, especially some of the business shots by Lisa Gagne.
What's interesting to me is both the cheapness of the images, the fact that the submitters get 20% in royalties and that this may be the closest thing to a working micro-payments system I've seen recently. Oh and the prices are in dollars which rocks for me as a UK denizen.
Sat, 09 Oct 2004
Attending Events and Blogging from the back row
It's been pointed out to me that while I'm willing to endlessly type about such thrilling subjects as "Incomplete Ideas -- Knoppix, UML and CDs in books" and Apache Logging directives I'm very lax about covering events, talks and workshops; or as it's known, things people actually care about :)
Two good examples over the last few months have been EuroFoo and the UKUUG Linux Techcon in Leeds. I started out intending to blog at least some of the sessions at each conference but two things stopped me, the talks were too interesting and I felt rude.
Both UKUUG and EuroFoo (which I am immensely thankful to have been invited to) were full of interesting people and sessions, I don't think I spent more than five minutes on my own at either event, there was always someone interesting to chat to about what they are working on or the contents of the last session. This constant activity stopped me taking any real notes or actually typing up the little I did write down while there and once I got back I decided to catch up on that pesky sleep.
The second reason is something I've mentioned on mailing lists before, if you are going to a session to listen to someone talk then shut up until the question session and TURN THE BLOODY LAPTOP OFF. I don't want to hear you picking away at the keyboard and I really don't want to hear you getting beeps from bash tab completion. If you NEED to use the laptop, and lets be honest you don't, then either sit at the back not the front row, and turn off the speaker or sit in the main areas of the room. Politeness costs nothing.
Wed, 22 Sep 2004
Running Behind -- Again
If you are expecting an email, call or anything else from me this week then there is a pretty good chance it ain't coming. I've come down with the flu and I've been going to work, doing the minimum hours, coming home and crashing out. What's that noise? Violins? For me? ;)
While I'm typing I'd like to note that my packetstorm feeds actually seem to be getting more users, any other time I'd be ecstatic but come on people move to the official ones so i can shut mine down.
Thu, 15 Jul 2004
I've not had a good week as far as computers have gone, my trusty P2-350 with 512MB finally bit the bullet and died, it's not even reaching the BIOS anymore so I'm looking to dump it. I'm currently using my backup machine, a P3-866 with 128MB running the evaluation version of Windows 2003 (which is quite nice but more to come on that) but its dog slow when I've got FireFox, SharpReader, winamp and half a dozen terms open. Might be time to splash out on a new PC.
The box hosting this site also went down for a couple of days, the hosting centre had a power failure in a couple of racks that took the box down until someone could get down and have a look, everything is running again now so i can continue to prattle on.
Tue, 01 Jun 2004
Testing, Testing, one, two, three.
Is this thing on? With a little luck you'll be seeing a spiffy UnixDaemon mosaic across the top of the screen and me blathering on underneath it. I finally decided to stop just reading blogs and start writing my own. I'm not sure how its going to go update-wise but i should be able to stretch to a couple a week. I'm using the quite excellent Blosxom so expect the site to go through a lot of small changes while i get everything just the way i like it.