Meet you back here in half an hour.
What are you going to do?
What I always do - stay out of trouble... Badly.

Friday, April 24



So humans and aliens finally make contact - in a horrific starship collision, where the warp fields of the two ships interact in such a way as to draw them inexorably together into a gravitational singularity.  As time dilation effects spread out differentially from the engine cores, giving everyone more than enough time to realise their fates, the aliens resign themselves to the inevitable, while the human captain (yours truly) figures out a way to save his ship and crew, while dooming himself and the alien craft - and takes it.

The aliens respond, punishing the captain by trapping him in a time loop, where every morning he awakens to find an unfamiliar pistol on his dressing table, and slowly comes to the realisation that he is trapped in a time loop on a strange planet, with no way out, no way to ever see his family again, no escape except to end it all with a bullet to the head, whereupon he awakens to find an unfamilar pistol...

And manipulates the idea of quantum immortality to survive his own death, escape the time loop and the growing gravitational singularity both, and return to the real world, where he finds that he has been reading a little-known story by Fritz Leiber (or George R. A. Murray, whoever he is) in a small-press limited-print collection at Galaxy Bookshop, the old one on Bathurst St, where his 19-year-old self is trying to update his store discount card, only they won't accept his identification, and he has to get his mother to sign for him.

I don't think my mother ever set foot in Galaxy, though I do remember her buying Dragon magazine for me, back in the day.

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Saturday, April 11


Ars Munuvica

Just browsing Ars Technica, as is my wont of a Saturday evening, when I find....  This:
One such Taliban propaganda site billed itself as the official voice of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," and regularly provided enthusiastic (if highly dubious) reports of successful attacks on coalition troops in the region. It was pulled offline last week after conservative blog The Jawa Report urged readers to complain to companies "unknowingly and unwittingly giving the Taliban some of the necessary tools they need to prolong the war." (The blogger also provided Taliban officials' contact emails, and suggested signing them up for sheep porn.)

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Friday, April 10


Yeah Baby

Mythbusters is back for a new season.

Three words: Radio-controlled bus.

You know you're on something big when your small scale involves dropping cars from a crane.

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Python 2.6.1

Akane: 82,169 (Xeon 5520 (Nehalem) 2.26Ghz, 64-bit)
Mikan: 84,033 (Xeon 3230 2.66GHz, 64-bit)
Yurie: 55,463 (Athlon 64 X2 5200+ 2.6GHz, 32-bit)
Haruhi: 66,533 (Athlon 64 X2 5200+ 2.6GHz, 64-bit)

Psyco 1.6

Yurie: 346,020

Unladen Swallow 2009Q1

Yurie: 71,787
Haruhi 78,369
Akane: 102,880
Mikan: 99,800

So a 2.26GHz Nehalem is about the same speed as a 2.66GHz Core 2.  And both are a good bit faster than a 2.6GHz Athlon.  Also, 64-bit Python is 20% faster than 32-bit.  (Though this drops to 10% with Unladen Swallow.)

But Psyco, the JIT compiler, still wallops everything else, more than three times as fast as the nearest competitor.  Google is working on a project named Unladen Swallow, an attempt to improve Python's speed, which may one day free us from the genteel tyranny of 32-bit environments and Python 2.x.  Psyco doesn't work in 64-bit mode or Python 3.x, but its performance benefits outweigh all other concerns thus far.  Python 2.x is still under active development - new features, not just maintenance - and OpenVZ allows me to set up 32-bit environments under a 64-bit kernel.

The Unladen Swallow developers actually warn against taking Pystone as a representative benchmark, and don't use it to guide their performance tuning; nonetheless it provides a 20% to 30% improvement even in its first release.

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Ooookay, That Will Probably Suffice

SoftLayer now support IPv6, and you can get a free block of IPv6 addresses with new servers.

You get one master IPv4 address, four free secondary IPv4 addresses, and 64 free IPv6 addresses.

At least, that's how I read it.  I was wondering why they were being so stingy with IPv6; they're not exactly in short supply.



It's not 64 IPv6 addresses, it's a /64 block.  In other words, 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 addresses.  Over 18 quintillion.

They also offer additional IPv6 blocks at extra cost.  I don't think I'll need that service in a hurry.

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Thursday, April 09


And Mikan Makes Two

The second server for the new hypercluster is being provisioned right now.  Mikan* is just a baby compared to Akane - a quad-core Xeon 3230, but with just 2GB of memory and one 250GB drive.

Fortunately, Mikan's main job is to sit there and look pretty...  And to contribute 4TB of bandwidth to our monthly quota.  I used a different promo code this time - double bandwidth instead of double memory and disk - because Akane has all the memory and disk we need but only comes with 2TB of bandwidth against the 3TB+ we are using.

Thanks to the special offer, Mikan gives us a spare server and 4TB of bandwidth for the price of 2TB of excess bandwidth charges.  That means that right now it's effectively a very cheap spare server, and going forward it will actually be saving me up to $200 a month.

I can also run a instance of Minx on there to use the spare CPU power, which was why I went for the Xeon 3230.  The cheapest option was a Xeon 3050, a dual-core 2.13GHz CPU.  The 3230 cost 25% more, but it's a quad-core 2.66GHz chip, so it's 2.5x as fast.  Which seems like a good deal to me. smile

This will be really nice once Akane is configured (trying another OpenVZ kernel now).  We won't need to move to a new server for a good long time: We have 4TB of RAID-5 disk and an SSD for the databases, and room for another 5-disk RAID array and another SSD.  And we can upgrade from 24GB of memory to 72GB now, and to 144GB once 8GB modules come down in price.  And we can upgrade our 2.26GHz CPUs to quad-core 2.93GHz CPUs now, and to six-core CPUs in the future.

I can just add little FEP (front-end processor) / bandwidth pool machines like Mikan as we continue to grow; the next one is destined to be named Kurumi.**

Update: Splatooie!  Oh well.  I have an Intel kernel module driver thingy here to try next.

* A mandarin, also a shade of orange.
** Walnut, both the nut itself and the colour.

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Tuesday, April 07


It's Going Too Fast! I Want To Get Off!

Vroom!  5 x 1TB disks in RAID-5:

[root@akane ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sdb

 Timing buffered disk reads:  1230 MB in  3.00 seconds = 409.96 MB/sec

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Monday, April 06


I Is Goings To Beds

Cause I tireds.


P.S. Watched the first ep of K-On!  Not spectacular, but an agreeable little bit of fluff in a way that the previous five thirty-seven four outings from Kyo-ani haven't been.  Will continue to watch.

P.P.S. Upgraded the RAID array in Akane to 4TB (5x1TB drives, RAID-5).  Glad I did this before installing a few hundred blogs on there, as it required a controller swap, a full OS reinstall, and an estimated twelve-hour array rebuild (still going!)

On the plus side, I now know that even during a rebuild I can sustain 100MB/sec off the aray.  I'm hoping to see 300MB/sec once the rebuild is complete.

P.P.S. Seems that the automatic installer at SoftLayer uses old-style partitions, and so has a 2TB limit.  So I now have two RAID volumes, a 100GB system volume and a 3.9TB everything else volume.  Which actually suits me perfectly - the base system goes on the 100GB volume, and the 3.9TB goes under LVM for the VPSes.

P.P.P.S. Oh yeah, beds.

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I Think You Just Authored A Web Browser

Wrote a search engine over the weekend (when I wasn't building new super servers that don't work).

It pulls data out of a SQL database and creates full-text indexes for it, then provides a web server (no Apache needed!) and query engine with output as template-driven HTML or JSON.

4K of code.

CherryPy and Xapian, an awesome combination.

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Sunday, April 05


The Internet Has Everything

Even this.


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