Disk upgrade

Yesterday evening I finished the big disk upgrade. As evidenced by my last post, I have been suffering through the death of some of IBMs old “Pixie Dust” disks. Both of them finally died and forced me into an earlier than planned disk upgrade. But this time I wanted to make sure that future upgrades would be easier. LVM and the Linux software raid tools have improved since my last big disk upgrade but were still horribly complicated. I dream of storage that provides raid 5 reliability, easy expandability (add a disk and the storage grows), and simple management. I guess I will have to wait for ZFS to make it’s way to Linux from Solaris. Apparently there are still some outstanding license restrictions that are holding this up and the port is being done through the FUSE layer.



Difficulties and rants aside, bunker is now up and running with 4 x 400GB disks sliced into 3 partitions (boot, main, testing). Boot is a simple partition at the start of each disk running in raid 1 (2 active, 2 spare), main is raid 5 with LVM on top and testing is a simple 5 GB at the end of each disk for, well, testing raid configurations like growing.



The LVM raid slice (1.1TB) is then setup with some operating partitions on top. The real difficulty came in setting up a initrd that would booth the LVM logical volume correctly. Part of this was that I was using an existing raid array and this confused the mkinirramfs program.



It’s done now and I can get on with my life knowing that I have reliable storage for mythtv recordings, mail and music.

Mountain Biking

Went on my first trip of the season with Martin today. Took the train to Tegernsee and then went up and down some steep hills. Expecting much muscle pain in a couple of days.

Mountain Biking

Went on my first trip of the season with Martin today. Took the train to Tegernsee and then went up and down some steep hills. Expecting much muscle pain in a couple of days.


Far too early

I was awoken with a hangover and what sounded like an alarm in the background. Strange I don’t have one that sounds like that. I was hungover from Reitschule but not that hungover as to forget what my alarm sounds like. Next I thought it was my laptop beeping. No, that was next to me on the bed and in sleep mode. I got up, the head hurt even more and figured the building’s fire alarm must have gone off. The noise was coming from bunker, my main server. It was the sound of a disk drive continuously resetting:

recording of the disk dying in mp3 format

I shut of the power to the offending disk and it now rests in peace. 3 years of of a Cyrus mail spool have taken their toll.


Acutally I think it has been the heat of this summer that has been cruel to the disks. I thank the RAID gods every day for the way in which my disks have failed over so smoothly:




[simon@bunker[ttypts/4]~]$ sudo mdadm --misc --detail /dev/md2
/dev/md2:
Version : 00.90.03
Creation Time : Tue Aug 9 10:40:33 2005
Raid Level : raid1
Array Size : 1465024 (1430.93 MiB 1500.18 MB)
Device Size : 1465024 (1430.93 MiB 1500.18 MB)
Raid Devices : 2
Total Devices : 2
Preferred Minor : 2
Persistence : Superblock is persistent
Update Time : Fri Aug 11 06:39:36 2006
State : clean, degraded
Active Devices : 1
Working Devices : 1
Failed Devices : 1
Spare Devices : 0
UUID : b715e21a:0ac688c2:156d41bc:4263e71c
Events : 0.13856
Number Major Minor RaidDevice State
0 0 0 0 removed
1 22 3 1 active sync /dev/hdc3
2 3 3 - faulty spare /dev/hda3



I don’t like doing any big system changes before I go away and I am in Austria this weekend. I’ve been planning on doing the “big disk upgrade of 2006” afterwards, have the disks priced up and just need to pick them up from Bauers on Monday. The net result should be 1.2TB (4 x 400GB in RAID 5) of usable storage on the “/mnt/vault” array and 200 GB on “/” (3 x 200Gb in RAID 1 with hot standby). In the mean time I am going to hope that the single disk failed raid array holds up over the weekend.

Why I hate flying

Just listen to that accent.



The dulcet tones of Stanstead Airport



And people come to England to learn English. Honestly.

Why isn’t the UK working?

9 years in power and the Labour government has done nothing for London. I used to love being in London and indeed believe that it is still one of the great cities of the world. But it’s creaking under the weight of an un-maintained and never-replaced infrastructure and a half-assed approach that seems to permeate through so much of the UK’s public services. Perhaps I notice this more after having lived in Germany for a while. On this last trip I became acutely aware signs stuck around stations: “Machine out of Order”, “Toilets closed” (during office hours), “Due to signal failure… …not running” Why can’t this shit bloody work properly. It’s really not difficult to run a metro network system (most of the world manages somehow) or have spare parts for ticket machines. Improving your service through “We are pleased to announce that all tube lines are running normally” announcements is an embarrassment. What else should they be doing? I am picking on specific examples but feel that they reflect the surface of a far greater problem, which is Labour’s lack recognition of London’s importance in the economy, and the lack of investment in the city’s infrastructure to reflect it’s wealth generation.

The city still has not even broken ground in the Cross London rail link. This is a project that has been on the books for 16 years. Instead people have to make do with a Victorian rail network that is packed and where temperatures rise into the 40s in the summer. Shockingly only now are moves afoot to try and cool down the tube tunnels.

Unfortunately improving infrastructure type projects take time and even if the Labour government is finally kicked out, it’s going to be many more years until projects are started to fix London and ordinary residents (and exiles like myself) start seeing the benefit. For the moment, living in Munich is appealing.

I have noticed a real pride when I speak to people in Munich who work for the city’s administration. Yes, people in Germany attach more cachet to working for the civil service but it goes beyond this. One woman from my gym works in the city works department and spoke with real pride about her promotion of the city’s pools and was genuinely interested in my experience of using them. I can’t imagine Kevin from Essex asking me passionately about what I thought of his outsourcing of the parks and pools (are there even any left in London?) to Capita Resources.

I’m also the last person to advocate the state running services but also don’t want to be living in a society of “Computer says no” attitude and lack of responsibility for things working. In Munich they do.

Why isn't the UK working?


9 years in power and the Labour government has done nothing for London. I used to love being in London and indeed believe that it is still one of the great cities of the world. But it’s creaking under the weight of an un-maintained and never-replaced infrastructure and a half-assed approach that seems to permeate through so much of the UK’s public services. Perhaps I notice this more after having lived in Germany for a while. On this last trip I became acutely aware signs stuck around stations: “Machine out of Order”, “Toilets closed” (during office hours), “Due to signal failure… …not running” Why can’t this shit bloody work properly. It’s really not difficult to run a metro network system (most of the world manages somehow) or have spare parts for ticket machines. Improving your service through “We are pleased to announce that all tube lines are running normally” announcements is an embarrassment. What else should they be doing? I am picking on specific examples but feel that they reflect the surface of a far greater problem, which is Labour’s lack recognition of London’s importance in the economy, and the lack of investment in the city’s infrastructure to reflect it’s wealth generation.

The city still has not even broken ground in the Cross London rail link. This is a project that has been on the books for 16 years. Instead people have to make do with a Victorian rail network that is packed and where temperatures rise into the 40s in the summer. Shockingly only now are moves afoot to try and cool down the tube tunnels.

Unfortunately improving infrastructure type projects take time and even if the Labour government is finally kicked out, it’s going to be many more years until projects are started to fix London and ordinary residents (and exiles like myself) start seeing the benefit. For the moment, living in Munich is appealing.

I have noticed a real pride when I speak to people in Munich who work for the city’s administration. Yes, people in Germany attach more cachet to working for the civil service but it goes beyond this. One woman from my gym works in the city works department and spoke with real pride about her promotion of the city’s pools and was genuinely interested in my experience of using them. I can’t imagine Kevin from Essex asking me passionately about what I thought of his outsourcing of the parks and pools (are there even any left in London?) to Capita Resources.

I’m also the last person to advocate the state running services but also don’t want to be living in a society of “Computer says no” attitude and lack of responsibility for things working. In Munich they do.

284 Wireless access points

On my train from Chelmsford to Milton Keynes I ran KisMac (wireless access point scanning software) and here’s what I discoverd:

Of the 284 access points:

  • roughly a third are open

  • A sixth are using WPA

  • half use WEP


Many people don’t change the name on their APs:

2WIRE051
2WIRE069
2WIRE089
2WIRE104


53 Roundabouts

I am now on the train back from Milton Keynes and returning home after my interview at Cranfield’s School of Management. I left home this morning with mixed feelings about my aims in doing and MBA there and now on my route back home have even more mixed feelings about committing to a year. I can normally tell what I want to do through my actions and the last couple of days have been almost sabotaging my preparations for an MBA. For example, part of the preparation was to preparae a discussion about cars and their impact on soceity. I only got this done at 10pm last night and was not very mentally alert. I did no preparation for the maths exam today and no interview preparation. I find it hard to do things that I am not intereseed in and this is symptomatic of my actions in getting ready for my trip to Cranfield.I have left today with a depressing sense of dread when I think about living in the neighborhood of Milton Keynes for a year. The place really is as dire as the media makes it out to be. A Bermuda triangle of suburbia. This is especially evident when I contrast Milton Keynes with the beauty of the last couple of months in Munich. There really is nothing endearing about the architecture and I find myself wondering how people can live in such a planned & soulless city.

But the architecure shouldn’t be a significant factor in deciding where to spend a year of my life improving msself. My thinking about doing an MBA is that I will use it to develop the redprompt business plan and spin off the business at the end of it. Perhaps this is me avoiding committment to taking the plunge and committing to setting up my next business venture? I have the money and time now to develop the Redprompt idea furthur. On the way back I stopped of at Bob Morgan’s house and he can’t see why I would want to do an MBA if I don’t wish to climb to the top of corporate managment.

I let them know my reservations about doing an MBA during the interview because I would rather be frank and avoid committing to something they also know is wrong for me. I am not sure what I will do at the moment except that for the last 8 months I have been keen to do an MBA but now, a month after stopping working for the EPO, I am less certian. I have really hated the preparation for the GMAT. I can only hope that an MBA would be better.

No matter how I feel about doing an MBA, I will find out on Thursday whether they want me or not. Perhaps it would not be such a bad thing if I am rejected.

53 Roundabouts

I am now on the train back from Milton Keynes and returning home after my interview at Cranfield’s School of Management. I left home this morning with mixed feelings about my aims in doing and MBA there and now on my route back home have even more mixed feelings about committing to a year. I can normally tell what I want to do through my actions and the last couple of days have been almost sabotaging my preparations for an MBA. For example, part of the preparation was to preparae a discussion about cars and their impact on soceity. I only got this done at 10pm last night and was not very mentally alert. I did no preparation for the maths exam today and no interview preparation. I find it hard to do things that I am not intereseed in and this is symptomatic of my actions in getting ready for my trip to Cranfield.I have left today with a depressing sense of dread when I think about living in the neighborhood of Milton Keynes for a year. The place really is as dire as the media makes it out to be. A Bermuda triangle of suburbia. This is especially evident when I contrast Milton Keynes with the beauty of the last couple of months in Munich. There really is nothing endearing about the architecture and I find myself wondering how people can live in such a planned & soulless city.



But the architecure shouldn’t be a significant factor in deciding where to spend a year of my life improving msself. My thinking about doing an MBA is that I will use it to develop the redprompt business plan and spin off the business at the end of it. Perhaps this is me avoiding committment to taking the plunge and committing to setting up my next business venture? I have the money and time now to develop the Redprompt idea furthur. On the way back I stopped of at Bob Morgan’s house and he can’t see why I would want to do an MBA if I don’t wish to climb to the top of corporate managment.

I let them know my reservations about doing an MBA during the interview because I would rather be frank and avoid committing to something they also know is wrong for me. I am not sure what I will do at the moment except that for the last 8 months I have been keen to do an MBA but now, a month after stopping working for the EPO, I am less certian. I have really hated the preparation for the GMAT. I can only hope that an MBA would be better.

No matter how I feel about doing an MBA, I will find out on Thursday whether they want me or not. Perhaps it would not be such a bad thing if I am rejected.

Some time in Munich Airport

I’m now at Munich Airport after having missed my flight this morning (by only 5 minutes but still missed). Disappointingly after searching around I was unable to find any open wireless access points. The portal based ones were uncrackable and Vodafone wanted €20 to access it for the day. Good thing that the Thunderbird email client has such good off-line capabilities and I have been able to queue up loads of email replies that will get sent out when I reconnect in England.



I have next to me my old Dual G4 Mac that has been freshly installed with Tiger for my mother. It should be more than enough computer for her needs for a couple of years yet. Her computing needs consist of email, listening to missed episodes of the Archers on Radio 4 and visiting Amazon and Ebay. Two beefy CUPs and 1.5GB RAM should cope just fine.



She’s getting this machine which, up until last week, was my workhorse PC. I recently upgraded to a MacBook Pro. After 10 years in IT I finally bought my first laptop having preferred the configurability and expandability of desktops. I’ve never really had the need to work on the road and when I have, have made do with a badly set-up and difficult to use work laptop. So far the MacBook is working out well. I have set-up OpenVPN on it which creates a tunnel back to the Imaginator network in Franzstr 5 and allows me to access iTunes and files securely. At the moment this is done via NFS but I made good progress on setting up Samba to authenticate via LDAP (I hang everything off the Imaginator LDAP tree) and plan on rolling that out tonight or tomorrow.



I have been impressed with OpenVPN but am having some trouble getting it to use the existing DHCP server to hand out addresses and options like name servers. My mother’s G4, my laptop, my neighbour’s laptop and the Slomkowski Compound network all now connect back to imaginator through it. And so the imaginator DarkNet expands…

Summer in Munich

I decided to take some time off from work to enjoy the summer this year. That and I need to move from Munich back to the UK, finish applying for business schools and haven’t taken much time off from working at the EPO for the last 2 years. I am loving it.

This is a really hot summer and I’ve been hanging out at the rivers and lakes that surround Munich. What a wonderful city that one has the possibility to swim in the river that runs through it. Most other places I know you would be lucky to come out without ome new heavy metals in the bloodstream.

One particular fun thing to do is go swimming in the Eisbach that runs through Munich’s main park. This river enters the Englisher Garten park on the southern end where surfers practise on the standing wave. It’s possible to dive in here and get pulled along through the garden (at quite some speed), sucked into some rapids and then relax on your back, finally exiting near the Chinesischer Turm beer garden. Convieniently there is a tram that takes you back to the start and you can endure the rapids all over again.

The lakes are also beautiful this time of year and I was swimming in the Starnbergersee this weekend. I met up with Ulrike and her sister and we upstream along the Isar. It was about a 3 hour ride on a very hot day. And now I am at the end of my first month off from work. Still have 2 more to go but alas the time is flying by and September is going to be punctuated by morning and sorting out all the administrative crap that goes with changing countries yet again.

My flight to the UK for the weekend is now boarding. But only for a weekend.

Summer in Munich

I decided to take some time off from work to enjoy the summer this year. That and I need to move from Munich back to the UK, finish applying for business schools and haven’t taken much time off from working at the EPO for the last 2 years. I am loving it.

This is a really hot summer and I’ve been hanging out at the rivers and lakes that surround Munich. What a wonderful city that one has the possibility to swim in the river that runs through it. Most other places I know you would be lucky to come out without ome new heavy metals in the bloodstream.



One particular fun thing to do is go swimming in the Eisbach that runs through Munich’s main park. This river enters the Englisher Garten park on the southern end where surfers practise on the standing wave. It’s possible to dive in here and get pulled along through the garden (at quite some speed), sucked into some rapids and then relax on your back, finally exiting near the Chinesischer Turm beer garden. Convieniently there is a tram that takes you back to the start and you can endure the rapids all over again.

The lakes are also beautiful this time of year and I was swimming in the Starnbergersee this weekend. I met up with Ulrike and her sister and we upstream along the Isar. It was about a 3 hour ride on a very hot day. And now I am at the end of my first month off from work. Still have 2 more to go but alas the time is flying by and September is going to be punctuated by morning and sorting out all the administrative crap that goes with changing countries yet again.

My flight to the UK for the weekend is now boarding. But only for a weekend.

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