Monthly Archives: October 2006

Spotted on Knirirr’s blog

Knirirr is of course Milo (see blog linkage bottom right), former colleague and most excellent tech head now for

Anyway the linkage:
Logo There are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

There’s only 24,000 Swan’s in the USA – I’m pretty surprised to be honest. I have bumped into a few namesakes online though. One is maintainer of the FAQ, one was another IT worker type in .nz. One’s a convicted racist cross burner (we don’t talk about him or link to him), and another writes books about Native American customs for he is an anthropologist and published author. Same initials too. I think there’s a pretty decent USA tennis player with my name too. Mixed bunch eh?

I still out-Googlerank the lot of them ;)

Hmm 3 posts in the evening, clearly this is what I do when not playing EVE


Fine, so call me grumpy, but I can’t stand Halloween. Yet another pointless commercial exercise to litter the calendar, slapped on top of a tradition that hasn’t been relevant for hundreds of years and still isn’t unless you’re some neo-pagan teenage Wiccan or ageing hippy.

Why do we do it? We don’t get a holiday, what is the point? I was out earlier on and all I see in Halloween is a bunch of kids (and teenagers who should know better) crawling round the streets in depressingly large numbers, still dressed in their everyday couture of trainers and tracksuit bottoms but with the concession of a rubber mask, occasionally escorting younger children (who must be *freezing*), intent on attempting to extort money out of neighbours.

I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of Newcastle but in Bensham right now, there is no-one on the streets but kids. Interestingly the lights in the flats seem more muted tonight – perhaps, like me, having closed the curtains and turned the lights off to avoid the incessant hammering at the door when the little devils decide that you really *are* in.

And yes I am aware that this is making me sound particularly middle aged..

To attempt to allay that particular image – I can’t wait for Bonfire NIght! Every year a glorious celebration of something meaningful. Another year to sit and wonder what would have happened if old Guido had pulled it off. “The only man to ever enter parliament with honourable intentions” a quote I particularly love.

Fireworks – great, sparklers – great, communal bonfires in Saltwell Park – great, glo sticks to wave around – great.

Ad what’s Halloween got? Pumpkins no-one eats, and kids no-one wants to answer the door to…

Bah Humbug!

I keep getting this spam

And it amuses me :)

I guess I should point out for people who don’t know that this is a screenshot from, and the concept of Yahoo! being unaware of a Google enterprise is unlikely!

The spam itself is fantastic and offers to submit a website of your choice with search engines (I think I last saw anything like this circa 1997) for an incredibly cheap £150 (down from £450!!!). It’s not even an SEO offer!

Firefox 2.0

Is finally released . It’s identical to the RC3 build, so if you’ve installed that you probably wont get any updates (I didn’t on OS X anyway).

There are some nice new features and also some fairly annoying ones. Firstly there is an integrated spell checker and thank $DEITY there is a British Dictionary extension (sorry, they’re called ‘Add-On’s’ now – a mark of the inevitable FisherPriceation of any software package that gains popular public support).

You can find the British dictionary here – my Windows install comes with the Yankee one by default (yuck.. sorry Ally ;))

There’s ‘search completion’ for the search engines box, where common queries are autocompleted, this is unobtrusive and occasionally useful when looking to craft that search term just so.

Most annoying feature has to be the new tab management system. I work on a 20″ Apple Cinerama display at work (mostly) and have my browser window generally quite wide. I have (on average) 16 tabs open at any given time. Firefox 2.0 has decided to fix the width of the tabs, so you can read the first few characters of the tab each time (I just don’t need this, it’s the 21st century and we have favicons!). Consequently you get a tab bar that has scroll buttons on, and scrolls horizontally to allow you to access tabs that slip off the screen. There is a single button to access a drop down of tabs but it’s just not good enough. Fortunately it’s easily remedied.

Simply type about:config into your browser address bar[1] and change the browser.tabs.tabMinWidth setting from 100 (the default) to something saner (like 10). Et voila.

Disable Targets for Downloads
is no longer required as an extension and has been deprecated by the developer – the new features of Firefox 2.0 do the same thing, so don’t be worried if you upgrade and find there’s no 2.0 version of this add-on.

Biggest gripe? Natwest On-Line Banking doesn’t trust Firefox 2.0 yet. It only supports 1.5. If you install this User Agent Switcher Add-on you can forge your User Agent string and pretend to be running IE5 on XP if you so desire. This is good enough to fool the Natwest site. Come on Natwest, get your arse in gear and stay up with the times.

[1] I also like about:mozilla

My Dad

There’s just a touch of the ‘Fred Dibnah’ in him methinks :)

Pic courtesy of my sisters mobile :) You will also notice he sports a fine, trendsetting beard that I can only hope one day to emulate. I’m less keen to emulate the absence of keratinised proteins ‘pon the head.

Reasons why RHEL4 sucks…

This one speaks for itself:

[root@nudbase ngeron]# rpm -Uvh postgresql-*
error: Failed dependencies: is needed by (installed) cyrus-sasl-sql-2.1.19-5.EL4.x86_64

ok, fine, let’s get rid of cyrus-sasl-sql, we don’t need it:

[root@nudbase ngeron]# rpm -e cyrus-sasl-sql
error: "cyrus-sasl-sql" specifies multiple packages


[root@nudbase ngeron]# rpm -qa | grep cyrus-sasl-sql

so there has to be some underlying difference between these two packages surely?

[root@nudbase ngeron]# rpm -qai | grep cyrus-sasl-sql
Name : cyrus-sasl-sql Relocations: (not relocatable)
The cyrus-sasl-sql package contains the Cyrus SASL plugin which supports
Name : cyrus-sasl-sql Relocations: (not relocatable)
The cyrus-sasl-sql package contains the Cyrus SASL plugin which supports

Um no. And what’s worse – there are other packages with the same issue:

[root@nudbase ngeron]# rpm -qia | grep postgresql-libs
Name : postgresql-libs Relocations: (not relocatable)
The postgresql-libs package provides the essential shared libraries
Name : postgresql-libs Relocations: (not relocatable)
The postgresql-libs package provides the essential shared libraries

A quick “rpm -qa | sort” reveals that there are literally dozens of these damn repeating packages. Even better *every single* RHEL system in the cluster is exhibiting the same issue. This is not surprising as they’re (supposedly) cloned from each other (in practice this ain’t true as some show KDE on the ILO and some show Gnome!).

The suggestion here is that this is due to a failed up2date at some point. Presumably Northgate are working from some screwed up master image when they build the clusters… God help us all.

Anyway the fix (ha!) is as suggested in the link “Our solution was to rpm -e –justdb package where package was the higher version of one of the duplicate packages.”. This does work, but I don’t like the fact I’m going to have to do this every time I hit the issue.

[root@nudbase ngeron]# rpm -e --justdb cyrus-sasl-sql-2.1.19-5.EL4.x86_64
[root@nudbase ngeron]# rpm -e cyrus-sasl-sql
[root@nudbase ngeron]#

Matt’s suggestion to wipe RHEL from the system completely is looking more and more interesting. Of course it’s too late to do that now. I’m sure as hell not putting RHEL on the next one. I don’t care what they perceive the supposed benefits of an ‘Enterprise’ operating system with ‘paid support’ is. You just don’t get these issues with Debian. Ever. Grrrrrrrrr.

The joy of backups

Sorry for the slight interruption in service – we lost /var on the server yesterday. The machine has been partially rebuilt and we’re purchasing a new server next month to replace this venerable old machine. Fortunately pretty much everything survived the transfer with the exception of the database that runs this blog ;) Of course, being a good computer user, I had this weeks backup to restore, so we’ve lost a couple of comments (sorry Nic!) and a couple of posts (which Google hasn’t bloody cached of course!) but that’s about it.

Thanks to Andy and Jess for getting things up and running at 2am this morning with the aid of a laptop and serial cable!