feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
In preparation for the arrival of my parents, who should be here any time in the next hour, I put a space heater into the guest bedroom and turned it on. The guest bedroom in my house is at the farethest end of the furnace's limits so it tends to be chillier than the rest of the house in winter and can use a bit of auxillary heating.

Five minutes after I turned the heater on, the lights in the master bedroom and the office (a repurposed bedroom) went dark. The UPS units in the office went bezerk. Was I having a brown-out? No, the furnace was still running and the light in the den was on.

Huh.

Off to the laundry closet I go, where a few seconds of looking later I can find a tripped circuit breaker. I reset the breaker, turn the electric space heater in the guest room down and go back to the office. About a minute and a half later, the UPS alarms are going off again and I'm sitting in the (relative) dark.

Sigh.

Back up, back to the laundry room, reset the circuit breaker. [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon suggested replacing the big space heater with her smaller ceramic-based unit. I do so, and once again three minutes later it's BEEP-BEEP-BEEP in the dark time.

I have run a heater in the guest room before and never had this problem, so this new set of circumstances vexes me mightily. I am making my way out of the office and cursing when I notice in the living room the Christmas tree lights are off, too. Wait, what?

Reset the circuit breaker, turn off the heater in the guest room completely and review what I know. I knew that all three bedrooms are strung on a single electrical circuit, but why is the livingroom off? Back into the breaker panel I go, and I reread the chickenscratch handwriting on the legend. "Bedrooms/living room." Then I look at the breaker - it's 10 15 amps.

TEN FIFTEEN. AMPS.

Ten Fifteen amps to run the master bedroom, the guest room, the living room and the office. But wait! I also know from tinkering about in my electrical panel that this same circuit also serves the master bathroom, the guest bathroom AND the garage. You know, the garage that has the flood lamps for the flag pole plugged into it.

TEN FIFTEEN. AMP. BREAKER.

The way I was taught electrical work, while growing up, was to put every room on its own circuit with its own breaker. Clearly the contractor who wired this house was taught no such thing and had no qualms snaking wire hither, thither and yon throughout the walls and connecting an unnecessarily long leg attach to a single breaker. This explains everything: with the new flood lamps for the flag pole running off the garage, the exterior Christmas lights running off the garage, the Christmas tree lights running in the guest room and the various other electronic widgetry I've added over the intervening years (cell phone charges, new clock radio, etc) I've taken this breaker and pushed it to the very edge. The additional resistive load of a space heater takes that precarious balance and kicks it right off the cliff.

Great, so now I know what I'm doing for my spring project in the house! In the next few months I'll be plotting which walls are coming down, amassing conduit to put in and when it's "Go Time" I will be replacing this snarl of copper-clad aluminum crap with proper romex. I'll have to hire an electrical contractor to replace the breaker panel (it's far too small and doesn't have nearly enough breaker positions to take each room onto its own circuit) but that's fine. Hell, while I'm in there I'll have to see about the feasibility of pulling a 50 amp 240 line into the garage to run a sub-panel so I can put in my welder and air compressor.

I can't help but keep coming back to the thought that some lazy bastard thought a single 110v 15 15 amp breaker serving all those rooms was acceptable or even "good enough." Oh, to travel back in time and slap some contractors...
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
I got my digital copy today and spent most of the day listening to it at the office and at home.

Daft Punk did a fantastic job with this score. They took their usual electronic genre and began pushing and bending it, eventually creating something that will lend a fantastic backdrop to the mood of the film. What is nice is that I think the album is also able to stand on its own, alone, without the movie. I could easily put it into the same class of "epic, ambient music" as the Batman Begins sound track from Hans Zimmer & James Howard, probably because this film also has vast, sweeping orchestral arrangements.

It seems like some of the critics agree with me while others are a bit more critical of the album.

Overall? It does exactly what I'm sure Disney wants it to do, and serves to whet my appetite for the December 17th release of TRON: Legacy to theaters.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
We're back home from my family's farm after having been away from home for almost a full week. We missed the cats and they missed us, though the neighbor did a good job of keeping Ra and Diva fed and watered. Jazz was, as usual, boarded with the veterinarian so she could have her proper medical treatments (pill and sub-cutaneous fluids) to remain stable and healthy.

The visit was good, except for the part where my father was nearly crushed to death under 4,800 pounds of truck. Thankfully he's okay. He is badly brusied and scraped up, but is okay. I think the swelling in his hand had visibly gone down some today before we set out on the drive back to Illinois.

Food is what Thanksgiving always centers around to some extent, and there was food in great quantity over this vacation. Wednesday, after arriving at the farm, we had a pair of giant bake-at-home pizzas. Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday was delightful: it consisted of BBQ turkey (just a hint of barbeque to go with the turkey, juicy, fine and crispy skin), mashed potato, corn, beans, squash and a few other side dishes. Friday was leftover day and the aforementioned incident with the truck. Saturday we had carry-out chinese to break up the monotony and on Sunday we had barbequed steaks.

Like all the trips to visit the place I grew up, this vacation came to and end far too quickly. While I accomplished everything I had intended during our stay, I'm still left feeling vaguely disappointed that I didn't do more for my parents while I was there. And, like the trip to the farm in August for my birthday, this feels as if it was far too short in duration. Now that I'm home I can feel a cloud creeping back around me. It's mixed in nature, ranging from depression at leaving the farm behind to anxious desire to return to work. Very likely I will be a moody, unhappy person until I get back into the groove and can bury myself in the routine of my professional life (which usually eclipses my personal life).

There are stars in the southern sky
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
All I can say is wooooooooooow.

Embedded link goes to the Standard Definition version to prevent breaking Friends Page viewage. I strongly encourage that you view it in the HD version.

VOTE

Nov. 2nd, 2010 01:30 pm
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
US folks: Want to cast your vote but don't know where your polling place is? Text "where" from your cell phone to 30644 or visit http://m.google.com/elections and find out.

Rewards

Oct. 11th, 2010 10:15 pm
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
This evening, while I stood in line to order a pair of burritos from the local Chipotle Mexican Grill, I was approached by a young man. He couldn't have been much more than eight or nine years of age, but he asked me in a very polite tone and with impeccable diction, "Excuse me, sir? Do you know what time it is?" I answered him that it was quarter-past six. He nodded, moved back to his position in line and I and went back to idly staring at the wall, not really thinking anything of the encounter.

It turned out that I was right behind this young fellow when he ordered his burrito bowl. At every step of the ordering process his requests were prefaced with "May I have." He wasn't in a hurry, he knew what he wanted but he never deviated from using "May I have," at the beginning of his sentences. At the end, when asked if he would like his meal here or to go he said, "I would like to have it for dine in."

I've stood in line at this Chipotle a few dozen times in the years I've been in this neighborhood. The line has always had a widely varied demographic. I've seen children his age and people three times my age ordering. I've seen adults who were impatient, rude, crass. I've seen children who were unruly, ill-mannered or simply out of control. I've seen grown-up mothers lean over the glass sneeze guard to point at ingredients and exhort "More, I want more, give me more." I've seen people be talking into their cell phones gesturing in vague ways at the selection, then yell at the employee when they guessed the wrong ingredient.

I have never seen anybody as well-mannered as this young man-to-be.

When he finally reached the register and was given his total I told the cashier that it would be my pleasure to pay for his meal. The cashier stared at me, as did the young man. I explained, "You were polite asking me what time it was while we were in line. You were very polite when you ordered, more polite than many people I've seen here. Politeness is bloody rare these days, so you deserve to be rewarded." He thanked me, as did an older gent in front of him who may or may not have been a parent, guardian or family friend. It doesn't matter. I wasn't doing it to impress anybody around me, I was doing it to reward a virtue was see all too little of in today's hurried, me-centric society.

Okay, so maybe I did do it to impress something on someone. I did it to impress onto this future politican, this future mechanic, this future engineer that sometimes the world does reward us when we do the right thing -- even if that reward was just a free burrito bowl.

I hope it's an impression that lasts.

Ouch.

Aug. 11th, 2010 10:25 pm
feren: Feren the photographer (oCe_Feren-Photography)
Due to a comedy of errors (I'm not laughing right now), it turns out that my macro lens hit the floor tile in my hallway. Frantic testing produced abnormal behavior, which [livejournal.com profile] tugrik confirmed to be damage to the USM ringmotor.

The good news, as such, is that a repair shouldn't run me more than 1/5 of the price of the lens.

The bad news is that, well, let's face it -- a $520 piece of glass hit the ground and suffered damage as a result.

This is not how I wanted to start my vacation two days before my birthday.
feren: Feren the photographer (oCe_Feren-Photography)
Ladies and gentlemen of the LazyWeb, I am about to give back to you.

I shoot in RAW format on my Canon 40D. I have grown weary of the fine folks at Canon dicking around and being utterly unable to provide a codec for 64-bit versions of Windows. All I want to do is be able to see thumbnails of my photos in RAW format that are on my CF card or hard drive. Is that so much to ask?

Well, judging by the utter silence out of Canon, yes. Yes it is.

Even as technology marches inexorably onward and 64-bit operating systems become increasingly more common (Hell, Solaris has been 64-bit since 1998 and pretty much anybody who mattered announced or released a 64-bit capable OS in 2003, people!) Canon seems intent on punishing those of us who want to actually be able to use the full potential of our machines by refusing to publish a 64bit-friendly codec for the RAW files (CR2) produced by my 40D dSLR and other models. I can find no word to use other than "refusing" since they've been asked repeatedly over the last two years and constantly do not act upon the requests. This flat out denial means that users of Windows XP x64, Windows Vista x64 (what I used to run) and the platform I'm on currently, Windows 7 x64, are essentially shit out of luck. Sure, I can run Adobe Lightroom 2.6 in 64-bit, hell, Adobe's been supporting my 64-bit experience since I first installed Lightroom back in 2008, and hell they even supported using multiple cores; it's been smooth sailing with them every step of the way. Pulling in 8GB of RAW files and converting them to Digital Negative (.DNG) would have been hell if I had been in the 32bit world, unable to take advantage of my 8GB of RAM in this rig. But Canon? Not so forward-thinking.

Fellow suffering Canon owners, rejoice! Your salvation is at hand. A little company out of Switzerland, called Axel Rietschin Software Developments has heard our cries. They have released a codec pack for purchase, called the FastPictureViewer Codec Pack. It supports Windows 32-bit and Windows 64-bit. It supports tons of RAw files, not just Canon's (I counted Minolta, Nikon, Sony and Kodak amidst many, many others). The install is easy, purchase is easy, everything's easy. They fix what lazy, wayward manufacturers will not. And the software is on sale right now for an absolute steal compared to what other third-party codec providers are charging.

Act now.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
Some folks (looking at you, [livejournal.com profile] hakeber) may remember this post from 2008 wherein I delivered IPv6 to my network at home.

My poking and prodding with the "next generation" protocol has continued over the following two years. Today I was trying to reach my home machine's IPv6 address from my IPv6-enabled machine at work. I've found a few things that have vexed me. I'm not the first person to find them or post the work-arounds, but I'm probably the first person to put them all together in one place so you can just get all the pain out of the way at once instead of stumbling from one obstacle to the next.

First, I found something important to note about IPv6 on Windows Vista/Windows 7: both Windows Vista and Windows 7, when in stateless autoconfig, use "privacy extensions" (specified in RFC4941) by default rather than EUI-64 addresses (deriving the host portion of the address by using the NIC's MAC as per RFC2464 and RFC2373). What this means is the OS automatically generates random interface IDs for every attached IPv6 interface and uses them for privacy addresses. This is great for "privacy" of users who are primarily content consumers, browsing the web. Every few hours or days they get an entirely new IPv6 address (from their subnet) and thus maintain a degree of anonymity (which completely ignores spyware, tracking cookies and the like but I won't go into that here).

The downside of this great privacy feep is that if I have a machine I want to connect to over IPv6, I'm unlikely to know from day to day what address it has (temporary) nor can I derive what to attach to (public) because they're both scrambled and in no way directly related to the NIC's MAC. Yes, in addition to the "temporary" addresses (used for outbound connections to global addresses) Microsoft has included a "public" privatized address, similarly scrambled but at least not prone to rotation.

Since I have no privacy issues to worry about at home, there's a relatively easy fix that gets rid of all this Security Through Obscurity and gets me back to sane, predictable behavior:
* Open an elevated privilege command prompt
* Disable the "temporary" outbound IPv6 addresses with: netsh int ipv6 set privacy=disable
* Disable non EUI-64 IPv6 interface identifiers with: netsh int ipv6 set global randomizeidentifiers=disabled store=persistent

The second thing I found was, even after configuring my IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnel and firewall to pass traffic through, I still couldn't ping my IPv6 address. What I found was that even though "core IPv6 networking" was permitted through the Windows Vista firewall by default, ICMP echo requests weren't passing properly and were being dropped. In the case of my personal workstation at home, the offending Firewall Policy was the "Public" one. I ended up creating a custom policy to do this. Note that this cannot be done via the basic Windows Firewall interface, that'd be too simple. No, instead I had to:
* Start
* Administrative Tools
* Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
* Inbound Rules
* New Rule
* Custom
* All Programs
* Protocol Type: ICMPv6
* Any IP / Any IP
* Allow the Connection
* Apply to Domain, Private and Public (Though for me only Public was the important one)
* name and describe it

The downside is ANY ICMPv6 packets can get through, beyond the echo request and reply I wanted. I'll likely have to circle back to that.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Huh, so after almost two years they've finally managed to convict Terry Childs of felony computer tampering for his role in "locking out" staff and other IT workers from the San Francisco FiberWAN.

While Terry's contribution to the incident was certainly ill-advised, I'm not sure a 5 year prison term and felony rap is really in proportion to what happened.

Interesting mixed messages to us IT folks both in and out of the private sector, something that has already been picked up on by some press outlets.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
Based on this article at the Daily Mail it seems entirely plausible that England may have to start importing gin from other countries. Apparently the juniper bush, which is rather crucial to gin's creation, could be extinct in lowland England within 50 years.

I better start stockpiling my Beefeater now....!
feren: Feren the photographer (oCe_Feren-Photography)
I opted to pay the $202 to Canon and have the 40D repaired. The 50D had two big strikes against it -- first, it was a refurbished. Second, based on feedback and reviews, it struck me as almost a trade DOWN from my 40D (minus the micro-focus adjustment for each lens). If Canon had given me a "loyalty credit" of some amount to use against any new model I want, like a 7D or a 5D Mk II, I might have bitten. But the program as it was presented to me (trade to a refurb and pay $$$) just didn't bring any significant value.

The really good news is that the body was shipped back to me today via Fedex 2nd day service, so I should have it in my hands again on Monday the 26th. I'll be curious what the service notes say was ultimately wrong with it.
feren: Feren the photographer (oCe_Feren-Photography)
I got email back from the Canon factory service center. They received the 40D yesterday and have done a preliminary evaluation. That being said, $202 is the current estimate to repair my broken dSLR.

They also sent along a little note that hey, if I Really Want I could upgrade to a refurbished 50D for $699.

Right now neither option is terribly appealing.

I guess I'll select the "cheaper" option of simply fixing the 40D.
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic


Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Tearing apart [livejournal.com profile] datahawk's motorcycle is how I spent my Sunday. It was productive. We now know what the plan of action should be, because now we know for a fact what (one of) the (biggest) problem(s) is.

feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Please donate to Strikes for Strays!

Hi all! It's just under 2 days until [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon and I bowl in Strikes for Strays on Saturday, April 10th at 2pm to benefit the West Suburban Humane Society. We are close to our goal but haven't made it there yet. I know that times are tough in today's economy, but please think of how this is impacting donation-driven programs that rely on our generosity! Any donation you can make to the cause will help cats and dogs find loving Forever Homes as well as going to help the WSHS educate our community and provide important support programs.

Donations can be made online via http://www.firstgiving.com/feren

Please remember "Love is a Pet Away."
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Dear Lazyweb,

[livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon and I are part of the Strikes For Strays bowlathon! The fundraiser occurs on Saturday, April 10th from 2:00-5:00pm at Lisle Lanes in Lisle, Illinois. Strikes for Strays benefits the West Suburban Human Society. I am striving to generate $100 or more in pledges for a very worthwhile organization.

Please join myself and [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon in supporting West Suburban Humane Society by going to the following URL and donating whatever you can to this cause - http://www.firstgiving.com/feren

Thank you for your time and pledge!
feren: Feren the photographer (oCe_Feren-Photography)
As near as I can tell from troubleshooting the problem lies with the mirror motor (or the springs, or some damn thing related to moving the mirror). It looks like, whatever the relevant component is in the 40D's body, it just took a dirt nap -- I can't even get the mirror to lock up for a manual sensor cleaning. No ability to bring mirror all the way up means no ability to make a complete exposure -- thus I have no ability to take any photos at all.

Hooray for non-budgeted money needing to be spent on repairs. Glad I did my income taxes and filed for my return last month.

Off to Canon she goes, I guess. I can only hope the repair is quoted as costing less than $350, because if it isn't I'm going to start thinking about just going out and buying a 7D body (which would be a non-trivial upgrade from where I stand now in terms of features). Though I have to be honest with myself .... I'd be an idiot to do that. Even if the repair was in the $350-$450 range it would still be far less than $1,600+ for a new 7D.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Got into the office around 7:45pm last night (Friday). Got home at 7:30am this morning (Saturday). This is a sign that things did not go as well as I might have hoped.

To begin the night, I did the second Opt-E-MAN circuit cut. This one went much more smoothly than the one on Thursday night. Was done in under an hour (less than half of the total time window I had set aside for the event). This was good.

Then it became not so good. )
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
I have had some major, incredibly important deadline pushed up by 5 days. We were supposed to disconnect the old datacenter on 2/20, and yesterday I found out we're turning the power off to the old facility on 2/15. Joy.

I was at the office from 1930 last night until 0400 this morning doing the first phase of a circuit migration (using AT&T's "Opt-E-MAN" WAN/Ethernet service). What should have been simple went really sideways and we encountered some significant problems. The irony of it all is that it turns out I had completely overthought the situation and made a simple, elegant solution vastly more complex than it needed to be. When I returned to the simple solution everything started working. Thankfully I realized this at around 0240 and reeled everything back in, successfully completing that stage of the trasition. Hooray for smoke breaks and my coworker NF who let me bounce thoughts off of him (and watched me draw with a whiteboard marker on a non-whiteboard surface. I'll be staring at that for the next 15 years).

Right after I fixed things up on the Opt-E-MAN I got some news from the good folks over at Hurricane Electric's IPv6 tunneling service that made me happy: the tunnel I had requested to $EMPLOYER's router should be fixed (it hadn't been working before). When I tested things out, it was! Not only did I have IPv6 connectivity on the most rudimentary level, my BGP session for IPv6 was also working! After I got home at around 0400, I couldn't sleep (surprise surprise, given the events of the evening) so I settled into the office and did some tinkering to see if I couldn't get $EMPLOYER's IPv6 allocation to be announced out to the global Internet (what little of it that speaks IPv6, anyway) via the Hurricane Electric tunnel. It took a bit of fiddling but eventually I was able to successfully announce 2620:0:1400::/42 out of my Juniper M10i router into the IPv6 Internet (all hail the MultiServices PIC).

So, over a year after I got $EMPLOYER a provider-independent IPv6 allocation, it is finally being announced into the Internet (from ASN 22734). The next step? I probably need to get the traffic through the firewall....
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
Best wishes to friend and coworker [livejournal.com profile] markvd as he celebrates another year of riding this planet around the sun. Sorry I didn't get to go out to lunch with you today, man. I'll make it up soon.

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feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
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