Blog entries from December, 2010

A surprise at the end of year competition

Friday, December 10th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I got a surprise at the camera club on Tuesday in the end of year competition. First prize for monochrome print and second place for colour print.

For the end of year competition we could enter up to three images per section that had been entered into a monthly competition in that year. With the sections being monochrome print, colour print and EDI. The judge then selects first, second and third in each section.

As I had only submitted two monochrome prints (I had done a couple of mono EDIs, but they had to have been entered as a print) that is all I was able to submit. Of these it was my photo of water lillies that got first place.


As I mentioned at the time, this was a colour image that I played around with in monochrome. While most of the effort I put into it was to remove spots from the leaves, the judge read a lot more into it. But hey, first is first.

In the colour print competition I received second place for an image that I liked mostly for the joke:

Sit down!

The judge agreed, but not enough for first place :(

I was a little disappointed that my Lego based images didn’t get any prizes, but there only being three prizes and all of the entries being people’s best, that is not surprising.

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Continuing with Linux for home server

Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Not that long ago I decided that I would be switching to Windows (from Linux) for my home server, specifically running Windows Home Server (WHS). I wasn’t ditching Linux entirely, it would just be running within a VM on that server.

As I said at the time the primary purpose is as a file server. Both as a target for backups and for media. The media becoming more important than before as I will have a television in a lounge room to play it on.

The specific component of WHS that I wanted was called Drive Extender. This is a storage solution where you add the hard drives to a storage pool and you then define folders within that pool. A folder can be set to duplicate its files across multiple drives for redundancy, or to just keep a single copy. Individual folders don’t have limits, whatever free space is available in the storage pool will be used.

In contrast to the other options, where you had to preallocate space and at the beginning set the redundancy level, this is just so flexible. Running out of space? Add another drive. Case not really big enough for that extra drive? Mark one of the smallers ones for removal it the data is copied off it.

I was waiting for WHS version 2. At least I was until they announced that Drive Extender would be dropped. It is the prime reason I was moving toward WHS. Many others agree and if you read further you will find that Microsoft’s reasons are not very well explained.

So, without WHS I am back to Linux. What I am now planning is an updated version of my current server. This means an LTS release of Ubuntu and I will continue to use LVM for the disks, but with a difference.

Currently I have two drives striped for media, then a partition on the primary drive for backups. The current sweet spot for drives is 2TB, so I will get two of them with 500GB of each setup in a mirror for backups, then the remaining space striped for 3TB of space for media. That should be more than enough. For now at least.

The aspect of this that I haven’t finalised is how I setup the mirror. I can partition the drives, RAID them and then setup LVM on top. Or I can just use LVM for the mirroring. Further investigation is required.

In addition to storage I also still intend to use this box for recording broadcast television. While I am quite impressed with DV Scheduler, it is no longer suitable as it runs under Windows. While I have yet to look into it, I suspect that MythTV backend will be the solution there.

The other feature of WHS that I was interested in was the ability to perform a complete workstation backup to it. I can continue using my robocopy based method as I know that it works, but that is only backing up data. If I have a drive failure I will need to spend a non-trivial amount of time to reinstall. But I have time to investigate other options (including the backup built into Windows 7).

I will continue to write about this (in between house stuff) but I actually need to act fairly soon as I have been out of space on the current server for a week now. It’s not good.

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I went to TAM Australia

Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 10:35 pm

For many years I have been a skeptic. That doesn’t mean I maintain a doubting attitude, it means that I don’t take things for granted, instead I will look for the evidence.

For some time I have been aware of local skeptic groups such as the Australian Skeptics and the Victorian Skeptics I had not become actively involved. Instead of was content to follow the science from a distance via blogs and the books that I read.

That changed when I found out that an Amazing Meeting! would be held in Australia for the first time. I had to go, but while waiting to see if it would conflict with OSDC2010 I missed out on a ticket. But when I heard that a lottery would be held for the final few tickets I entered and was lucky enough to be offered a ticket. I jumped at it, even though I would have to miss the final day of OSDC2010.

So how was it? It’s in the title: Amazing.

Although I struggled a bit, I did manage to make my 8AM Friday flight to Sydney which got me there in plenty of time for the 1PM start. From then on it was a rush. I am not attempt to detail everything that happened, but the obvious highlights included meeting and hearing speak: James Randi, Dr Karl, Dick Smith, Simon Singh and Rob Morrison.

I also met many other people, some of who I expect to see again as next year I intend to go along to some of the local skeptic events. Of course that may even include a Melbourne based TAM.

While most of the talks were great, they had the issue of repeating things I had already read. The discussion panels were more interesting as they depended on the questions people asked. But the largest surprise of the entire event was a talk on management pseudoscience.

It had never occurred to me that management was a psuedoscience, but now that I think about there are plenty of management theories, but very little evidence to back them up. Think about it, businesses are wasting money and time on unverified theories, often on theories that in practice fall down.

Seven years ago I did start to write about work processes and I have been meaning to get back into it. Realising that much of management training is pseudoscience if hopefully the trigger I need. (we are also undergoing major organisational change which was the first trigger)

Instead of writing more here about the event, I will simply link to my messages from during the event. When I do get around to sorting through the photos (mostly from the dinner cruise) I will try to provide some more detail.

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Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 9:19 pm

A week and a half ago the Open Source Developers’ Conference was held for the seventh time in Australia, the fourth time in Melbourne. I have been to all seven so far and there was no way I was going to miss it, especially as it was local, even though it did clash with another conference.

That clash caused me to miss the last day of the conference. Unfortunately that was the day that Damian Conway was giving two talks. I am glad the the talks were recorded, but I have yet to find time to watch them. (1, 2)

Before I run through my highlights of the first two days I will touch briefly on the biggest negative of the conference. It was held in Melbourne. This is bad because I live in Melbourne.

For the past three years the conference has been in Brisbane, Sydney and then Brisbane again. I enjoyed the conference much better at those places as I was able to immerse myself in the conference. In 2007 I stayed in the hotel that was the venue, so I just had to stumble downstairs, in 2008 I stayed just around the corner from the venue, so it was a short work, and in 2009 I stayed in the city so it was a bus ride to the venue, but I knew others who were staying in the city as well.

But with the conference being in Melbourne I had no hotel to stay in, I travelled home each night. Since I had the option of driving (instead of 1.5 hours on public transport each way) I drove which meant I didn’t stay back for the social drinks as late as I wanted to. If it hadn’t conflicted with TAM, I wonder if it would have been worth the expense of finding somewhere near the venue to stay…

Looking back at the program (there seemed to be a higher number than usual of last minute changes) there are only two sessions apart from the lightning talks that jump out at me:

Of these three sessions, the highlight was Adam’s talk about the scale of the environment that he works with and how it is structured. I may go into that later in another post.

From the second day, four sessions (again excluding the lightning talks) were memorable:

Arjen’s session was lightning talks of a non technical nature, the highlight being Noirin getting us all to stand up and try to learn the Charleston. This was so popular it was repeated during the standard lightning talks session later in the day.

While Noirin’s talk on the Apache community was interesting as we Schwern’s perl5i talk, Schwern’s demonstration of Git revisions using Tinkertoy‘s was the standout.

So, overall it was a great conference and I intend to watch Damian’s two talks, plus any others that I missed such as Rainbox House v4.

I can’t wait for next year.

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Three posts tonight

Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Tomorrow I shall take posession of a two bedroom unit in Mount Waverley. I expect that settling in to it will occupy every spare minute I will have for the next few months. I have lists of things to get and stuff to do, but once I move I expect that there will be numerous things that I haven’t yet thought about.

On another list are three blog posts that have come about from events in the last two weeks. One about OSDC, one about the first ever TAM Australia and a final one about Microsoft ruining an otherwise useful product.

I will try to write all three posts tonight. The first two should have accompanying photos, but I am even more behind in sorting photos…

Update 11:13PM: The posts are done:

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