Back to the grind

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to the grind. Today wrapped up a four day weekend for me. I just took Friday and Thursday off for fun … then spent those two days worrying about a hurricane headed our way that ended up turning right instead of left. So it goes. It was also a low-energy weekend – I felt pretty washed out the last couple of days. Maybe my body was missing work?

Still, you might have noticed a bit more activity around here than usual over the past week, from foxes to Apple upgrades. Most of the activity was indoors, because outdoors was a bit damp. While the hurricane chose a different destination, we still had 5.6″ of rain measured in my back yard over the last five days. The wind finally came up and blew the moisture mostly out of the area, but it’s still cloudy with occasional drizzle. Additionally, there was apparently an EF-0 tornado that cut a minor swath 20 miles away, last Tuesday. But other than that, not much else to report on the home front.

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Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Seaman Philip Frazier Manes, 21, of Fairfax, Virginia, died Sept. 27, in Manama, Bahrain, of a non-combat related incident.
  • Capt. Jonathan J. Golden, 33, of Camarillo, California, died Oct. 2 in the crash of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
  • Capt. Jordan B. Pierson, 28, of Abilene, Texas, died Oct. 2 in the crash of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
  • Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Hammond, 26, of Moundsville, West Virginia, died Oct. 2 in the crash of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
  • Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris, 21, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died Oct. 2 in the crash of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
  • Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, 29, of Pensacola, Florida, died Oct. 2 in the crash of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
  • Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz, 21, of McDonough, Georgia, died Oct. 2 in the crash of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.


Oddly Low-key Introduction

If you play in Apple’s sandbox, you’ll know that today was release day for the latest version of OS X: El Capitan. For a variety of reasons, I decided to upgrade on release day (admittedly after pulling a full, bootable, copy of my system using my favorite tool for the purpose, SuperDuper! Highly Recommended!).  An hour or so to pull down the 6 GB download, another 30 minutes or so to apply the new OS, and my Mac Air was rebooting!

Happily, I got a login prompt at the far end. That’s always a good start. I typed in the credentials, expecting a splash screen all about El Capitan, OS X 10.11, and what insanely great things I had installed on my hardware. Well, um, no. Not as such. Credentials for iCloud – gotta enter them, even though I barely use iCloud. Then I was regaled with legalia – four different many-page things on privacy, etc that I was to pretend I agreed to. I “agreed.” Now, surely, on to the good stuff…

Well, um, no. Not at all. For some reason, the system just dropped onto my desktop, with the VPN prompting me for credentials, a copy of Word opened (weird, haven’t had to use Word on this box in months), and a dialog telling me that Mail had failed to upgrade, click to continue. So I did, and boom. Error message and close. No Mail for you. Well, fine, I use Thunderbird anyway, but I restarted Mail to get that refresh done. 15 minutes later, all good. So I shut down, started up, and logged back in … Now, surely, I can have lights and music and frighteningly good looking young people in videos telling me about my new OS… Nope.

#WTF, Apple. Losing your touch, much?

The new OS is “working”, I suppose. I haven’t found anything broken yet (having hardly looked). Not breaking anything would be sort of the minimum bar, I guess. But what’s the upgrade? Or, more pointedly, “Where’s the beef?” Yes, that ad for Wendy’s came out the same year as that wonderful Ridley Scott-directed Apple Mac 1984 advertisement. Where. Is. Beef?

Apple, you’re welcome to reply in the comments…


Fox at the roadside

Fox at the roadside

This gal was standing in the middle of the road on my back-road drive home today. I gave him a couple of blasts on the horn, which sent him scampering off the right side of the tarmac. But as I pulled up even with that spot, there she was, standing 15 or so feet off the roadway, staring up at me. I stopped, and brought my phone up, opening the camera app. I got the picture. Throughout, I expected the fox to bolt … but it didn’t. The area where I was is a blend of crop fields and woods – nice terrain for this animal. Fun to see, and to have been seen. Ciao!


Carl Sanders wrote:

Was wondering why was down.

The registration for the site expired on 23 September 2015. It’s in limbo for a while, then it’ll go on the block. was a domain purchased by, and leading to a website designed by, and originally maintained by Tom Syroid, back in September 1999. By sometime around the mid-naught’ies, Tom dropped off the Internet, and with few exceptions, has not resurfaced. A few times we tried to get the site registration transferred from his name (and with difficulty, since the email address he registered with exists no more), so that we could transfer it to a less-expensive registrar than Network Solutions. Those efforts failed. So, over the years, as often as not, I’ve footed the bill to keep that site up and alive. I only find out it is expiring when someone asks, because I’m not any of the registered people.

So …

  1. I used to be able to go to the NSI site and renew without logging in. That appears to not be the case any longer.
  2. There is still, which is nearly identical in content, and I am the registrant, and continue to foot that bill.
  3. If someone wishes to figure out how to pay NSI to renew the site, go for it. I’ll continue the hosting – that’s very little effort.

So there you go.

Lexi at work

My work and week was relatively uneventful: just computers, patching, rebooting, yardwork, and shopping, so I’ll share Lexi’s work week with you instead.

Lexi helping me exercise

Lexi helping me exercise

Before I get onto the elliptical, I’ll generally do a repeating series of stretches, alternating with exercises like squats, sit ups, and push ups. Above, you can see how helpful and encouraging Lexi is during this phase of my workout. Her prone position, her near-perfect lack of motion is extraordinarily motivational. Frankly, I couldn’t do it all without her.

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Lexi on guard

Lexi on guard

When she’s not “helping” me exercise, or outright sleeping, Lexi likes to guard the house. Anything that she sees may be a threat, and she can warn us appropriately. Coming into Fall, she becomes a more effective guard beast. As the leaves drop from the trees, her detection range increases, and her blind spots drop to nearly nil. Soon, she’ll be able to warn us of automobiles driving on a nearby street, over a quarter of a mile away, on the other side of the community pool. She might also be able to spot a cat or dog or that most dangerously evil of animals – the hideous squirrel – as far off as the community playground, just this side of the afore-mentioned pool. We also sometimes refer to this as “Lexi TV.”

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Kyle E. Gilbert, 24, of Buford, Georgia, who died on Sept. 21, in Bagram, Afghanistan, in a non-combat related incident.


Computational changes, at least…

During the past week, I migrated all of the public sites (including this one) from a machine running Scientific Linux (SL) 6 (an RHEL respin out of CERN), and onto a different box running FreeBSD 10.2. I did this for a couple of reasons.

First, SL6 was pretty slow to get updates from Red Hat and rebrand them, and release them to the world. I’d initially gone with SL because CentOS was suffering that problem. Then CentOS was picked up directly by Red Hat, and has become much more responsive. But I was ready for something different.

Reason the second: I’ve been running FreeBSD at home as my main system OS for a while now, and bringing the public-facing machine into the same venue seems appropriate. I’ve got a good handle on the security thing, and I like that it’s a well-maintained but lower-profile-than-Linux OS. I also especially like that I’m running on ZFS, which is a rockstar among file systems.

So that all got done during the week. Then, today, I replaced the D-Link gateway/router with an Intel i5 NUC device running Sophos UTM Home Edition. It’s a full-featured firewall with AV, web filtering and inspection, IPS, etc. And it’s free for home use. It’s a far more secure edge device than any consumer-grade router/gateway, with better logging and a huge feature set. That said, I’ve got … issues with the selected hardware platform. The NUC has but one network interface, so the second is a USB Ethernet device and it’s unstable. I’ve had to setup a scheduled job to refresh the hardware every couple of minutes to pick it up, dust it off, and start it running again, when it falls over. Which it’s doing. I may change the hardware on this sooner rather than later.

In between computer and networking gear swappage, I spent Saturday washing cars and doing yardwork. It’s been a tiring weekend, and I’m glad it is winding down. I can relax tomorrow at work!

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DoD announced no new casualties during the last week. Ciao!

Quiet times

It’s going to be busy soon, what with Capclave, and LISA15 … but this weekend was quiet. We went to supper and played Trival Pursuit with Mike and Linda last night. The rest of the time? Chores, a spot of shopping, a bit of telly, a dash of early morning system administration for work. Boring, really. But necessary. Oh, and I’m working on migrating the underpinnings of this site to FreeBSD. But not tonight.

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DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

Mailing list etiquette…

7 zillion years ago (Internet time) – aka 2002 – I attended the Contact Conference at NASA Ames. It was wonderful, made sad only by the fact that a part of it was a memorial for Poul Anderson. Niven, Pournelle, Vinge, and many others were in attendance as well.

However, enjoying a conference over 13 years ago does not excuse the email I received today:

Welcome to the [Contact-conference AT listsDOTcontact-conferenceDOTorg] mailing list! …

My reply to the list owners went something like this:

 I should never, ever, ever, get a Welcome to… email from Mailman without first subscribing on my own. A *good* option would have been to send ONE email to all of the recoverable members of the old list, asking if they’d like to subscribe to the new list, and provide a URL for that purpose.

I’ve already unsubscribed myself, thanks, but you should consider sending an apology to the rest of the list, and provide clear, simple-to-understand instructions for unsubscribing to help those new list members who, like me, really didn’t want to be on a mailing list just because they attended a Contact conference a decade or more ago.

Just because it’s the Internet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be considerate.

Sigh. It’s not hard, people. Mailing list etiquette has been cast in concrete for ages…