What happened?
Twelve years!
You hit me with a cricket bat!
Ha! Twelve years!

Thursday, November 30



I got home this evening to discover that there'd been a blackout while I was away, and all the computers had shut down. So I power them all back up, and the Linux boxes seem to come up (even the broken one - see comments to previous post). But not the Windows box. Oh no. It won't even try to boot. I put the Knoppix CD in, and it doesn't seem to like that either.

I want to check on the Linux boxes, but I normally access those via SSH, either from my Windows box - which is dead - or from my Notebook - which might as well be dead, since after I got it back from "repair", where it was wiped and reinstalled, I wiped it and reinstalled it again, whereupon it promptly went back to its crashy ways so that I never managed to install any sort of useful software on it.

So I have:

One Linux box which has the best part of two terabytes of fansubbed anime on it, and which I can now ping, and that's about it.
One Linux box which was working fine right up until I tried to do a backup, whereupon it developed a severe case of FRUDS.*
One Windows box which will not boot, apparently, from anything.
One Windows notebook which is just about capable of playing a round of Minesweeper between reboots. If you choose the smallest game area.

At least when that iTunes upgrade destroyed my boot drive I had a mostly-working notebook. (And a good thing too, because it took two weeks to recover from that one.)

Right now - just so you know - right now I am typing this on a screen running at 800x600 in 16 colours. I managed to boot into Windows repair mode (which is crappy, but not completely useless) and repair the boot drive to a bootable state, but along the way it ate half my drivers. Which was fun when it came to trying to get networking working again.

Oh, and my old DVD combo drive has gotten stuck the way my CD burner did. Just plain will not open.

Dum de dum.

I should have a video driver in another five minutes or so.

De dum...

The disk drives seem to have survived, mostly.

La la la...

Why don't Nvidia have an Australian mirror, dammit? This would take 30 seconds from my ISP's FTP server.

Dee dee dee...

iTunes does not work in 16 colour mode. Seriously. It's unuseable. You just get this overlay of text on your previous application. No buttons, no window borders, nothing.

Doo doo doo...

And when the text is in Japanese but the character set is screwed up so that it shows random gibberish, this doesn't really do you much good at all.

97%... 98%... 99%... Ping!

Install install install. Oh, now I get to reboot. How sweet!

So I tell iTunes - which is running, of course - yes, fuck off, I really want to reboot right now, and then wander off to the bathroom, and when I get back I have a Windows desktop with no applications.

Now it clearly hasn't rebooted, because (a) it didn't have the time and (b) it should be at the login screen, not at the desktop. So I go Start->Shutdown->Restart, and off it goes.

And doesn't come back. It won't boot.

So I put the Windows CD back in, and while it's booting I go into the kitchen to make some dinner, and when I come back it's gone straight into recovery mode and is asking which installation I want to log in to, the options being (1) C:\Windows, and nothing else. So I press Enter.

And this being Microsoft, and Microsoft having the user-interface design sense of a dead bug, it reboots.

Now while I was waiting for the video driver to download I was at least able to SSH in to my Linux boxes and restart the DNS and proxy and file servers and stuff, so at least at this point I can go and try the notebook and maybe at least bring up a web page. Which I do, while Windows crawls back toward its suckovery mode.

And I run another chkdsk, and naturally it finds some more errors, and then I reboot again, and Windows comes up.

Still in 800x600, 16 colours.

I will cut short the next hour and a half of screwing around, of uncounted reboots and failed driver installs. Needless to say, I am still at 800x600, 16 colours. A little surprisingly, I have had no further problems with rebooting, which is a good thing considering how many times I have had to do so.

The situation is, as far as I can tell, this: I have an Nvidia 6600GT. It was working perfectly this morning, as it has done every day since The Sims 2 was released.** I have the latest drivers installed.

Windows chooses not to use it. It says, not entirely helpfully, this:

This device cannot find enough free resources that it can use. (Code 12)

If you want to use this device, you will need to disable one of the other devices on this system.

Click Troubleshoot to start the troubleshooter for this device.

I have disabled every non-essential device. (Ignoring the fact that it all worked this morning.) I have scoured the interweb, and learned that this can be caused by problems with the motherboard drivers. I have installed the latest drivers, since it appeared that I was running a very old version. This required three attempts and three reboots, and has not resolved the problem, or, as far as I can tell, done anything at all.

The troubleshooter is as helpful as ever; that is to say, not in the slightest.

What I can do at this point is open the case, take out the current boot disk, put in the new 320GB disk, put the current boot disk in the external case, reinstall everything from scratch, and copy all my files back again, having had a working computer for just over two months this time round.

Or I could heave the damned thing out the window and take up basket-weaving. Two problems with that: First, I don't know how to weave baskets, and don't expect that I'd make much money at it even if I learned; second, I live on the ground floor.

Oh, and iTunes has apparently decided that my iPod is broken and wants to wipe it clean and rebuild it.

The iPod itself is working just fine, except that I can no longer update it.

I was going to write a short post about that, but then I found a more interesting topic.

But until I can resolve this, I can't listen to any new episodes of the Penn Jillette show on my way to work.

Update: Aha!

My notebook crashes if you ask it to do anything involving I/O or heavy processing, but the screen works.

My desktop works fine except for the display being stuck in 1986.

Remote Desktop! I get everything except for ClearType. I'll live.

Update: Aha part two! Too many USB drives means that the iPod collided with one of my network drives. When that happens, iTunes goes insane. I mean, what else would it do? Going into Disk Management and changing my iPod to drive A sorted that out. Of course, it's now completely blank, but that just means I leave it to sync overnight.

I hope.

Update: Actually, changing it to drive A seemed to drive iTunes insane. Insaner. Changing it to drive Z, though, that did the trick.

And running iTunes over Remote Desktop is an education in itself.

* Frequent random unlogged death syndrome.

** My old ATI 9600XT crashed when I ran The Sims 2, which necessitated a sudden upgrade.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:28 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, November 28



I needed a small server for a project I was working on with another company. They said no problem, they'd either find one or buy one and send it to me.

It arrived today.

It's a quad Opteron.

It doesn't have a CD-ROM drive.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:48 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Saturday, November 11



I hate spammers.

But spammers are at least trying to do something constructive for themselves. Sure, the damage they do to others far outweighs any possible economic benefit to themselves, but that's another matter. (That's why we have laws.)

There are worse people. Like the cretin in the Netherlands who just downloaded 20,000 copies of a 2.5MB file from a dormant blog here at mu.nu. That's why I enforce bandwidth quotas, by the way. I don't mind at all if someone like Ace or Rusty is using 200, 300, 400GB a month if that's going to real readers.

But when some idiot chews through 50GB in three hours - and the best explanation I can think of is referrer spam, the least effective marketing tool ever invented - I want CPanel to lock down that account.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:59 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Crappy Piece Of Crap Of The Day

Today's crappy piece of crap is Yumex, a remarkably bloated and sluggish graphical front-end to Yum, written in (sad to say) Python. It's using 97MB of memory and 20% CPU and not, so far as I can tell, doing a goddamn thing.

And that's once I managed to actually get it to run (I almost said "work", but I have no sign of that); for hours it was complaining that something else had locked yum and wouldn't run at all.

I tried running it using X over SSH - locally - and sshd was chewing up 40% of my CPU.

I swear that Fedora Core 4 didn't suck this bad.

Update: OKay, I'll give it some credit. If you wait the fifteen minutes or so it takes to start up, and put up with its wallowing GUI, it will actually let you browse packages and install them.




Update: God, this thing is just excruciating. It's using 177MB of memory now - resident. I tried the category view. Clicked on Applications, and then on Educational Software. Nothing happened for a couple of minutes (but the CPU was very busy). Then, nothing continued to happen, although now the application responded to mouse clicks.

Then I found out that in the category view, it divides packages into Mandatory, Default, and Optional. It defaults to Mandatory, and since there are no mandatory educational applications, it didn't show anything.

There's no indication that it's busy - other than the fact that it locks up.

There's no All tab.

I clicked on the Engineering and Scientific category a few minutes ago, and it's still frozen. Okay, so that bloody beagle-build-index thing is still running (620 minutes of CPU time now). Okay, so I'm running under VMWare with only 400MB of memory allocated. I expect it to be a little slow; that's part of the reason I set it up this way. I want performance problems in my code to be obvious so that I can catch them early.

I wish someone had taken the same approach for yumex, because it is pure, distilled suck.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:31 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Crappy Piece Of Crap Of The Day

Today's crappy piece of crap is beagle-build-index, which has so far spent five and a half hours indexing the documentation on my new Fedora Core 6 install.

It's not the only thing that runs for ages after a fresh install, either.


If I wanted Gentoo, I'd have downloaded Gentoo.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:15 AM | Comments (11) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Friday, November 10



The Fedora Package Updater is frigging useless.

There have to be a dozen superior open-source package managers already in existence, so what's the excuse?

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:08 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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