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Pics or it didn't happen

Finally caught up on my photo backlog, without simply declaring bankruptcy:

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Ubuntu Lucid first impressions


  • Open source 3D acceleration for the R600 family of ATI cards. Flurry runs almost as fast as it did on my Duron 800/Matrox G400 combo. Party like it's 1999!


  • It does boot quickly. Which is nice, but I still think more time should be spent on things that would genuinely make a difference, like software to credibly compete with Active Directory or Time Machine.
  • It will now ask you if you'd like to skip mounting things that are missing, rather than stopping and demanding you go into a root shell to fix them. Still not as good as Jaunty and earlier that would just ignore network mounts that are inaccessible.
  • The default theme is, arguably, chasing Apple's tail lights, but it makes a welcome change from the whole brown/orange thing.
  • Firefox 3.6. Maybe. As far as I can tell, it still as prone to the slow down if you leave it running a few days.


  • Switching to placing the window controls on the left. I'd like to see some sort of usability study justifying this before I retrain my muscle memory. I managed to switch it back by playing around in the appearance dialog, but I'm not sure what I did that caused that.
  • kmail was deleted from the system for some reason. I had to reinstall it, and even then it's missing an entry in the applications menu. It picked up data and upgraded gracefully, fortunately.
  • Apps that used to open links in a new tab of your existing firefox instance now try to open a new firefox instance. Probably some MOZ_NO_REMOTE environment brain damage.


  • Grub, the boot loader, screwed up during the upgrade, complaining about a phantasmal /dev/sdb and leaving my system unbootable. I had to download and burn an Ubuntu image on another machine so I could boot up and fix the problem. The grub-install program still complained about /dev/sdb being missing, but at least it worked this time. Nice testing, guys.
  • The network icon vanished from the dock, again. This is probably due to me managing network interfaces under /etc/network/interfaces, but it means I can't start up VPNs. I though they fixed this nonsense several versions ago.
  • Getting the network-manager to manage your /etc/network/interfaces settings brings the network icon back, but it's handling of multiple logical interfaces (eg, eth0:1, etc) is completely broken. Why the fuck it thinks it should set a gateway when there is no gateway option for an interface is anyone's guess.
  • The password dialog used for ssh keys, among other things, is system wide modal — which means it blocks all other workflow, including moving the window, until you enter a password or cancel it. Which means you can't copy-paste a password from your password safe. This is, admittedly, the same system as was introduced in Karmic.
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Process Supervision for Web Developers

Process Supervision for Web Developers — a way to have your long running processess (the web server, memcached and so on) automatically restart, without a lot of tedious mucking about writing scripts and polling the process table.

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Knee woe

Went to see my orthopaedic surgeon about the MRI of my knee, today. He said there's a lot going on in their, the highlights being a severed anterior cruciate ligament, which has been like that for some time, and a tear in the meniscus which is what's causing me pain I'm still experiencing.

A quick background for those of you I haven't already bored to death with the details: About seven weeks ago I injured my right knee playing indoor Ultimate. I didn't collide or jump anything particularly dramatic, I just turned 180° to chase a disc and felt it go mid-stride. It took two weeks before I could put weight on it and it's still giving me trouble, none the least because my quad has shrunk down due to a lack of use.

About two years ago I first injured the knee playing indoors. It swelled up a bit, but wasn't nearly as painful as the recent injury. But it was persistent, so at the urging of a friend, I had a physio look at it, to very little effect. Since then, the joint has been a bit loose, and prone to partial dislocations (And wearing a brace didn't help; it actually resulted in problems for the other leg!). The most recent tweak was about a year ago at indoor nats. I guess the muscles had managed to strengthen enough to compensate.


  1. I probably snapped my ACL two years ago. It probably also wasn't up to much in the first place, as I've always had a tendency to have that knee occasionally give out if I've been lying on an odd angle or similar.
  2. The ACL is supposed to, amongst other things, arrest anterior movement of the tibia. Which is medical talk for stopping your lower leg from moving too far forward relative to your upper leg. Two physiotherapists have failed to discover that mine doesn't work.
  3. The specialist worked it out in five minutes, doing roughly the same kind of examination as the physios. Admittedly he had X-rays as well, and probably sees more knee injuries in a month than a physio, who is a generalist of sorts, sees in a year, but still...
  4. Failure to have the problem detected the first time around has resulted in a second injury involving a meniscus tear. These don't heal and can't easily be fixed. I now have osteoarthritis to look forward to in 20 years.
  5. But the bur can be cleaned up and the ACL reconstructed, pending ACC approval. Three months to heal properly, followed by three months of intense physical therapy.

In about a months time ACC should have decided whether I get surgery, at which point I make a booking, so hopefully I'll get the surgery sometime in November, or before Christmas at least.

Still, the take home message for me is that knee sprains are always serious even if they don't feel that bad a couple of days later. If I had another injury of this sort, I'd have the physio make sure to thoroughly check it's not an ACL injury, and arrange to see a specialist via a GP anyway. You tend to have to wait a month for the first appointment with a specialist anyway; if you really are fine, you can cancel and some other lucky punter gets an early appointment. If not, you see someone who can actually tell you what's wrong.

(But get it done under ACC or health insurance, as x-rays cost $80 and MRIs are worth $1k!)

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Photos from Brass Monkey and BOD

Finally processed 400 odd photos from Brass Monkey and BOD:

  • Brass Monkey, being an Ultimate Frisbee tournament held in Rotorua in the middle of winter: Flickr set or slide show
  • Survivor: Dark Lord, being a Grand Strategy game run at Buckets of Dice: Flickr set or slide show

Still haven't got the hang of the slow auto-focus speed of the lens I'm using, nor the tendency for the program mode to stop down rather than use faster shutter speeds, by default. Hence, this is a small selection from otherwise blurry action shots.

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1. Millhouettes, 2. Tranyz, 3. Untitled, 4. Finger-Like Colorful Hills, 5. Vanak Sqr, Tehran, Iran / Fired Basiji Motorcycle, 6. Moonchild
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Social Graphing

So, anyone using Flickr? Post me a link to your photostream if so.

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Neals Yard Remedies

What happens when a company of earnest natural medicine greenies get featured on The Guardian's "You ask, they answer" column?

Hilarity, that's what.

My favorite question:

I've been soaking a £20 note in a bathfull of water for the last few days, is it ok to pay for an order using my new homeopathic money? I now seem to have rather a lot of it.

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(no subject)


  • True Blood and Being Human, in spite of having vampires in them
  • The new Star Trek film
  • Underworld, live at The Oblivion Ball
  • Violater, by Depeche Mode
  • Dig! Lasarus, Dig! by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • Race For The Galaxy
  • Ginger Tom and dirty vodka martinis (surprisingly)
  • Twitter


  • The latest Depeche Mode album, baring a couple of pretty good tracks
  • Dollhouse


  • Cylon origins and the finale of BSG season four
  • Wolverine: Origins, unless, like me you lower your expectations to "big, dumb action film". Worked for Blade, and it worked for me, here, as well. Splosions!
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Ordering things from the US. Damn, their banks suck.

Jury is still out

  • Los Campesinos!
  • The new Franz Ferdinand album
  • Running

Still Good

  • Firefly
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
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Jaunty upgrade mirth and woe

I wanted faster photo editing tools, so I decided to upgrade from hardy to intrepid, on the grounds that if intrepid proved too brain damaged (it's the Windows ME of Ubuntu releases, thanks to the shite state of both KDE4 and Gnome) I could always upgrade again to Jaunty. So when my bluetooth keyboard failed to work, I did.

The Average: most things are the same. Firefox 3.5 is still months away, shells are shells, emacs is emacs. Kmail now running the KDE4 version, and has a few more nice search and organisation features, but is basically the same (so IMAP isn't faster, but that's because IMAP is shit).

The Good: sudo cmd | less asks for your password properly, rather than being stomped by less and requiring stty sane to be run to fix the console. Nice.

Bluetooth is much improved for pairing keyboards and mice. My keyboard problem was solved by deleting the old pairing from the GUI and re-pairing, which, while still being a little timing sensitive, for the most part Just Worked. A massive improvement over the old system of groveling over conf files and command line tools.

The mysterious USB 2.0/bluetooth lock up I used to get seems to have gone. Haven't actually tested a USB2 speed device, yet, but I haven't had to yank the ehci_hcd module, yet, either.

The Annoying: The upgrade to KDE4 resets a lot of GUI layout stuff and changes the default theme to a new one. Fixable by installing and running systemsettings, but that's the country cousin of the more powerful kcontrol, so it's not as powerful. And kcontrol seems to be missing. Oh well, only running a couple of apps. KDE4 stuff also seems to enjoy barfing a load of I CAN HAZ MEFDID CALL noise all over .xession-errors and any console you run it from, too. Goody.

OO.org decided to forget my recent document list for giggles, too. And for some reason, the flash player that YouTube uses decided to dial it's volume down to nothing, sending me on a wild goose chase trying to disable pulseaudio. As it happens, pulseaudio has been remarkably well behaved — xbmc and audacity now work properly with it. I haven't tried Skype, yet, but by now, if Skype doesn't work it's really their fault and not the pulseaudio people.

The Bad: the 2.6.28-11 kernel stops talking to the hard drive after about an hour on my AMD 780 based motherboard. This requires dropping to the command line after a hard reboot to run a full fsck on reboot. That's a show stopper for fresh installs; I get away with a running system by booting into the kernel from intrepid.

But that kernel seems to have decided to disable my L2 cache, which renders things like desktop switching sluggish. So much for jaunty being faster :-/. In fact, it probably is, and it's making up for it.

Also, fglrx is flaky as ever. Full screen GL windows have a bad habit of not cleaning up after themselves, and X/console switching can leave X graphics corrupted. And it still doesn't do EXA, so no accelerated 2D blits. Judging by the work still to be done on the intel driver it looks like this stuff will suck for the next year or so in the ATI camp.

I'd advise folks to wait a few weeks before upgrading.

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