On TMPFS on the Acer Aspire One

I’ve found FireFox3 to be rather slow on mouse and a bit of reading shows that it’s primarily due to how disk i/o heavy FF3 is. SQLite backed this and that, it’s more than the poor little SSD can take. However with 1.5gb of ram there is a solution. TMPFS!

I’ve mounted a ram-backed TMPFS and run Firefox, Thunderbird, Liferea and Pidgin out of there. It’s made a huge difference. I started with the instructions from here, and have since modified the setup over the last week.

Step by step, this is what it would take to recreate what I’ve done. As your regular, browsing user:
$ mkdir ~/.tmpfs

Then as root add the following to /etc/fstab, modifying it for your username, uid, and gid:
my-tmpfs /home/$USERNAME/.tmpfs tmpfs size=200M,noauto,user,exec,uid=1000,gid=100 0 0

With that done I modified the shell script to read as follows:
# Change this to match your correct profile

cd "${HOME}/.tmpfs_backup"
if test -z "$(mount | grep -F "${HOME}/.tmpfs" )"
mount "${HOME}/.tmpfs"

if test -f "${HOME}/.tmpfs/.unpacked"
rsync --exclude='Cache' --exclude='.unpacked' --exclude='lock' -r "${HOME}/.tmpfs/" .
cd "${HOME}/.tmpfs"
cp -r ${HOME}/.tmpfs_backup/* . && touch .unpacked

I named it tmpfs_rsync and put it in ~/bin. That’s right, no more tar for this guy. I found that after adding Thunderbird, Liferea and Pidgin into the mix, I was creating a sufficiently large enough tarball that performance would drop through the floor every 5 minutes as it backed up the tmpfs. Speaking of every 5 minutes, the respective crontab line for my user:
*/5 * * * * ~/bin/tmpfs_rsync

Make the script executable, and execute it once to mount the tmpfs and create the .unpacked lock-file of sorts:
$ chmod u+x ~/bin/tmpfs_rsync
$ ~/bin/tmpfs_rsync

With that done, all that’s left is to copy what you want to the tmpfs, then symlink it back in place. In the case of Liferea:
$ mv .liferea_1.4 ~/.tmpfs/liferea
$ ln -s ~/.tmpfs/liferea_1.4 .liferea_1.4

I repeated the above for Firefox, Thunderbird, and Pidgin and bob was my uncle. Make sure tmpfs_rsync executes once before shutdown and everything is backed up.

My god, it’s full of

useless shit.

My days, that is. It seems I can lose entire mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends to activities I really should know better than even starting. The problem is the guilty satisfaction I get from incessantly reloading fark and reading the comments. It’s a nasty habit I picked up on slashdot (though it’s usually worth it there) and it’s why I left digg. I now incessantly refresh fark and read the comments there as well. Usually it pays off but without the moderation system of slashdot you have to sift through a lot of chaff on fark. I lose an incredible amount of time to that sit, time that would be better spent doing a great many other things. Like sleeping. Or cooking. Or fixing my body. Or fixing my mind. Any of the outstanding projects I have could benefit from an influx of time.

The problem is this behavior I want to stop is so rewarding. Horrific puns, rare insight, even the trolls have something to offer. I feel like Henry when he walks into a library or bookstore full of books he hasn’t yet read. Unread threads mock me, they taunt me. Who knows what lulz are contained within. It’s so rewarding I keep coming back, day after day, week after week. I wouldn’t begrudge myself if I just stopped in on caturday, really I wouldn’t. But I can never stop at just caturday.

I guess I’d have thank the farkers for being so good at what they do. They never fail, they never disappoint.

I disappoint myself though. I get home and I lose myself to fark. I enjoy it, I learn, I get angry. It’s glorious, but then my night disappears, dinner hasn’t been made, dishes haven’t been done. I’ve neglected my blogs another day, another week, another month.

Though I obviously need to work on my ability to moderate my time in this regard, I’ve noticed two things.

1) This is worse in the winter, when the days are shorter and I’m less and less inclined to go outside. If it’s nice out I’ve no problem putting fark away. Even if I stay inside I have more energy, more initiative.

2) This is a downward spiral, I get less done so I get discouraged so I don’t bother to force myself to get up and do something so I don’t get anything done.

I know I’m a creature of habit. I’ve found I’ve always had the best success in changing my ways, in breaking out of ruts when I get back from an extended road trip for work. It just so happens I’m in the middle of one right now so it would be the best time to make the push. Get to bed on a regular schedule, get up earlier, get to the gym before work, better plan my meals. Read more, write more, think more, consume less.

As always, we’ll see what happens when I get back, but I have hope.

Regression by Self Image

I feel younger today than I did two years ago. It seems my self image is tightly intertwined with some notion of an expected linear life progression. A large step back has made me feel younger, less experienced and less ready to face the world.

I look at my contemporaries and feel dwarfed by their accomplishments. I feel ill suited to be compared to them. I feel there have been points in my life where I have had a more meaningful existence, a more focused purpose, and spent more time working towards that. This is not to say that I oppose where I am, just noting the difference.

Apparently I don’t fuck around

Yesterday I ended up migrating what was left of my colocated machines onto a single VM. Had about 5 minutes notice before I decided to pull the trigger and with that in mind I have to say it went fairly well. I’d already updated DNS settings for my domains in anticipation of a change as well as dist-upgrading my main hosting VM and updated the hosting panel to the latest stable release.

With all that done, starting with a fresh install of Debian Lenny it took a couple hours after work to migrate most things over. I bollocksed up the first installation of ISPConfig, not entirely sure how and ran into a database issue. Being that this was a migration though I figured the easiest thing to do was to nuke it and reinstall the hosting panel. Did that, re-imported the databases and away we went. Had a bit of a mail issue for a few hours, nothing major though.

I spent a bit of time this morning modifying the hosting system to put mail tagged as spam in a Junk folder under each users’ IMAP root and we’re back up and running as we were yesterday with relatively little downtime. Exceedingly little considering it wasn’t a planned move. So for anyone I host that was wondering what the story was yesterday, that’s it. We migrated and upgraded. Now to arrange a time to go collect my hardware and sell it off.

There are a dozen aborted posts under drafts

All of which I want to finish, none of which probably will be. I think Ze is right, if you have a neat idea just throw it out there now. To hell with trying to release it when it’s ready just punt it out the door and see what happens.

There’s stuff in there I would liked to have written about at the time, and I could do some small posts about them but I don’t know that it’s all that engaging to do so. So fuck that noise.

I saw Richard Fucking Stallman, a few weeks back, give a talk on how Copyright harms society. Nothing unexpected, I got to ask a question and he interrupted me as I pretty much expected he would.

A few days later I bought an Acer Aspire One. Upgraded it to 1.5gb of ram and soldered in a bluetooth adapter. Wiped whatever the hell distro they put on there and installed Debian Sid. Happy times.

The Soekris is coming along, it’s doing all routing at home quite handily and I’m working on asterisk. Once that’s done I think it’s time to ditch the personal cellphone. I’m tired of giving rogers money. The number will be ported to the VOIP account and people who don’t get the new mobile contact number immediately will have to accept voicemail and email as contact options for me.

Further to that, I think it’s time to ditch the equipment at the colo. Nothing I do right now justifies a half-rack of equipment, I could do everything I do currently in a rented VM, so that’s the plan.

It certainly does sound like I’m trying to cut expenses, and that’s because that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. I had a plan for this year, I think it’s about time I made it happen.

Other news, the Golf was broken into this week. They got away with a flashlight and a couple of car chargers. Fuck them and everyone who questions my carrying the tactimurse.

Time to stay angry.

Oracle is reborn!

Years and years ago, when I first started playing with linux and teaching myself networking I built up a PC to use as a router at home. It was based on the family’s old desktop, a Pentium 2 233 w/64 mb of ram. I hacked up an old AT case to mount the ATX board in and used the only spare hard drive I had, a 100mb drive. I squeezed an install of Debian Potato (2.2) on there in just over 50mb and I had myself a router running ipchains. Over the years oracle grew up, was upgraded to a Athlon 2200+ and 512mb of ram, I added a bunch of hard drives one by one and she became the home fileserver.

A drive failure one saturday morning in September 04 led me to the job working at the mom&pop computer shop. I was looking for another harddrive with the same disc geometry so I could swap the logic board, apparently that was enough to peak the interest of the owners.

It was with that failure in mind that led me to decomissioning oracle. I consolidated my data, and my drives, and built up my RAID array in neo. Oracle was replaced by sati, a WRT54GS running OpenWRT.

Oracle is reborn though. I’ve recently picked up a Soekris Net5501-70 to use as my router at home and it seems that sati just isn’t the appropriate name, as this embedded PC is more powerful than sati ever has been, and will do more than sati ever could. It is only appropriate that the 5501 take on the name oracle, and a few very similar roles as well as some new ones.

The new oracle is 500mhz AMD Geode LX with 512mb of ram running on a 4gb Transcend compact flash card. I’ve installed Debian Etch (4.0) and she’ll be running as the gateway/firewall for the home network, with sati handling only WAP duties from now on. Oracle will be responsible for traffic shaping and DNS (both caching the external net and running the .thematrix.dagr.net domain internally). I intend for oracle to also run Asterisk for my local network, feeding my Linksys PAP2T-NA as well as my Cisco 7960. I’ve been considering bringing in a DSL line to suppliment my cable connect. Not so much  for the extra bandwidth but for the better conenctivity for work.  Currently traffic from home goes to Vancouver to get to the office 7km away from my flat. I think oracle would serve well to run an IPSec link to the office via the DSL line and keep my personal traffic routed over the cable line. I’m not sure what else the new oracle will get up to, but I’m certainly looking forward to playing. This is the first new toy that’s not just a mere upgrade I’ve gotten for the home network in a good long while and I can feel the hacker juices flowing again.

I’m rather excited.

“I’m Voting Democrat”

I didn’t see this as it was making the rounds, so when I saw it posted today I went off. The quoted section is the original piece.  My response is below, full of ranty goodness.

I’m voting Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.
I’m voting Democrat because freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.
I’m voting Democrat because when we pull out of Iraq I trust that the bad guys will stop what they’re doing because they now think we’re good people.
I’m voting Democrat because I believe that people who can’t tell us if it will rain on Friday CAN tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don’t start driving a Prius.
I’m voting Democrat because I’m not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.
I’m voting Democrat because I believe that business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as THEY see fit.
I’m voting Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would NEVER get their agendas past the voters.
I’m voting Democrat because I believe that open borders and government give-aways to foreigners is a great way to grow a nation.
I’m voting Democrat because I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.
I’m voting Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry whatever I want. I’ve decided to marry my horse.
I’m voting Democrat because I believe oil companies’ profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn’t.
I’m voting Democrat because my head is so firmly planted up my butt it’s unlikely that I’ll ever have another point of view.

Do you really live in such a partisan echo chamber that you hold these assertions to be true about the sum total of the DNC and its supporters?

I’m assuming by “do[ing] a better job of spending the money [you] earn” you are implying those evil, “Tax and Spend” Democrats are going raise your taxes. With a 455 billion dollar deficit for 2008 and a 10 trillion dollar debt your country doesn’t have much of a choice. The current administration has waged two wars on credit and your economy is now beholden to the central banks of Japan and China. Over a trillion dollars of your debt is held by those two countries alone, and 44% of the entire debt is held by foreign countries.

Never mind that your President Elect has fairly extensively detailed the changes he intends to make to US tax structure, if your line of reasoning runs that taxes should *never* go up then you’ve got two options. Saddle your future generations with a crushing debt or start paying it down. If taxes can’t go up in your world then spending must be cut. Numbers for the 2007 budget tell me that 64% of the discretionary budget went to military spending. You want to avoid taxes there’s where you cut.

Which takes us to point 3: stop funding a meat grinder in a part of the world where, despite the continued moving of the goalposts, the only true goal has to install friendly governments to ensure the timely delivery of oil to American based multinationals. I hate to break it to you, but the rest of the world pretty much consider your country to be full of spoiled, petulant, assholes. They don’t hate your freedom; they don’t hate your way of life. They hate your decades of interventionist policies. You want the rest of the world to leave you alone, look up Isolationism, better yet, look up Republican Isolationism and discover a time when the GOP’s policy wasn’t dictated by multinationals with foreign energy interests.

Skipping back to point 2, I can’t say as I’d support the restriction of free speech (and I live in the wrong country for my beliefs on the matter) on the basis of it being offensive, but then again I wouldn’t restrict someone’s speech on the basis of my finding it immoral, which is something the theocon controlled GOP is having issues with. Speaking of morality based legislation…

The day your horse can legally enter into a civil contract as well as give a statement of consent we’ll talk. Most probably about the informal fallacy that is the slippery slope, but if you’re up for it I’ve got no problems talking about the logistics of bestiality, again, I don’t restrict speech to that which is only inoffensive to everyone. Until that time, however, can we stop pretending that same arguments against interracial marriage that were soundly defeated are magically applicable to same sex marriage?

Further down the list of morality based legislation we find the topic of abortion. A touchy subject that requires a delicate sense of tact to debate in mixed company without causing too much of a disturbance. So let’s jump right into the debate with how sad dead babies are. Aborted fetuses make baby Jesus cry and should be avoided at all cost. Which can only, logically, lead to an administrative policy promoting abstinence only education under the threat of having educational funding revoked. The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies is obviously a campaign of ignorance… They’re going to have sex one way or another, you want to “think of the children”? Make sure they understand what it is they’re doing and what their options are. If, once that’s taken care of, you still believe that you have the authority to tell other people what they should do regarding their own medical, social and financial situation, perhaps we can talk about the raise in taxes necessary to fix the support system for the unwanted children that are given up for adoption.

Speaking of purposeful ignorance it’s rather fitting that you bring up the death penalty along side abortion. Perhaps looking at the statistics from the innocence project might help you understand why so many people find the death penalty to be offensive and unethical.
I think I’m going to keep skipping around here, because it’s fun. Regarding the “goddamn piece of paper” (President George W. Bush, Dec 2005) that you hold so dear, perhaps in your civics class they may have covered what is required to amend your constitution. I’m having problems understanding how you feel “a few fringe kooks” have the ability force a two-thirds vote in both houses or a two-thirds vote amongst the legislatures of all the states in the union, and then force a three-quarters vote across all states to ratify the proposed amendment.

I’m going to require a citation for the assertion that the ice-caps are going to melt in the next ten years unless everyone switches to the Prius. In fact, I’m growing tired of this, while you’re at it I’d like to see a citation for the assertion that Democrats don’t feel business should make a profit. I’m also curious why you see a 15% tax on fuel which is reinvested into the country is more onerous than a 4% profit margin that is squirreled away from the country at large. I’m not implying that 4% profit is obscene, I just don’t understand your numbers. The money for military spending, 65% of the discretionary budget, needs to come from somewhere.

Despite skipping around I have left the head-up-your-ass comment out, quite purposefully. Frankly, it’s the only thing you said that I agree with. Quit pretending that either end of the spectrum has all the answers. Lay off the strawmen and false dichotomies. This isn’t us vs. them, this is the future of your country. Political discourse should be, and needs to be, above the manufactured distractions.

Harper promises another 270 million dollar temper tantrum?

SASKATOON — Stephen Harper’s Conservatives pledged today to put forward a new version of the party’s bill to remove the option of judges handing out house arrest for a list of 30 crimes – and to make the matter a confidence motion that would trigger an election.

It was the second straight day where Mr. Harper announced a crime measure that carried an all-or-nothing threat that the opposition would have to pass it or face an election, again.


The opposition parties refused to take the bait and force an election everytime he made something a confidence motion (partially because the Liberals didn’t think it work out in their favour) so he instead packed up his parliment while ignoring a law he passed from his 2006 campaign platform. DURING this campaign he has threatens to make his “tough on crime” bill a confidence motion if he gets a minority government? What the flying fuck is this man thinking?  “I wasn’t getting my way so I ignored my own promise to the Canadian public to not call an election when it was politcally advantagous to do so and called an election, and if I get a minority government and they don’t let me do what I want I’ll just make Canadians go to the polls again?”

The 2006 election cost around $270 million, the 2004 election around $277 million. It stands to reason that the 2008 election will be in the same neck of the woods, and he’s promising to do it again?

This is not fiscally conservative, this is not following the spirit of Canadian governance, and frankly it’s not even passable as a mature reaction.  IF the Canadian public gives Harper a minority government again he had better learn to fucking deal with it. I am in no mood to pay $500 million out in temper-tantrum expenses.

A fun discovery

I was doing some reading on Dream Theater last friday on wikipedia and found out an interesting little tidbit about the Live Scenes from New York album:

Coincidentally, it was originally released on September 11, 2001, but when it was noticed that the cover artwork depicted the twin towers of the World Trade Center in flames, it was recalled and re-released a short time later. Some copies with the original artwork still exist, and are now a rare collectors item.

As I was looking at the two artwork examples on the wiki page I realised that my copy of that album looked like NEITHER of the images there.  Later that evening I pulled out my copy of the album and I got very, very excited.  I bought that album used and had always thought it curious that there was a big sticker over the center of the album but had never thought to peek underneath.  It took about 5 minutes to peel it off without doing any damage to the original artwork underneath.  What did I discover underneath? Why nothing short of the original artwork that was released on Sept 11, 2001.

A very happy Dave indeed.