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01 January 2013

Willkommen zu 2013! Καλώς ήλθατε στο 2013! Welcome to 2013!

It's time again to re-learn typing the date

Happy New Year 2013 to everybody! It's become a tradition on this blog for me to write a post at the start of the year, outlining what's happened to the last year and the weblog. It's now been 8 full years that I'm running this weblog. For some time with a lot of spirit, the last few years on a reduced rate of activity. For my visitors this does not seem to make such a huge difference.

I've got about the same numbers in 2012 (182194 visits, 348897 pageviews) as in 2011 (183691 visits, 293212 pageviews). The slight increase in page views I chalk to the bots and spammers and not to real rising interest, given that the reported hits increased only below proportion. A page view without corresponding hits to CSS and image files means either a bot or someone using a console browser like lynx - which is rare.

The monthly levels of visitor activity stayed about the same, with the usual bump down during the summer months. It does not seem to make much of a difference if I write more (like in May or in December) or if I write almost nothing (both in September and in November I had months with only one post). Why is that? I guess because a lot of traffic goes to some posts with steady readership. Basically for some reason Google ferries people to resources I wrote, which isn't dependent on me adding any new content. The posts that tend to "pick up" in the long run tend to be fairly technical stuff, fairly long writing. Interesting enough, planning and writing long posts like that often gets me stopped to write more often on the blog. Focussing on shorter, more "daily" posts gets me more into a frequent posting spirit.

Why did I post only once in those two months? I went through a few ups and downs in respect to the sport of blogging. For some months I had picked up gusto and spirit. But then the days and weeks would just pass and I'd almost forget the weblog. I must admit in both months I got myself up to post something, partly to make sure there wouldn't pass a month without a post. I'm not any more attempting to predict if my pace will pick up or continue to slack. Every time I tried to guess at it or make plans, I changed my mind or things changed. I seem pretty determined to keep the weblog alive in some way or other though.

Posted by betabug at 17:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
04 January 2013

Attaboy X220 with atactl!

Spin that disk down

My Lenovo Thinkpad X220 has two disks, the Hitachi 320Gig drive it came with and a 64Gig Kingston mSATA SSD that I fit in there myself. The system (OpenBSD) and most of my home dir are on the SSD, which makes for a more responsive system. On the other there is a large partition that I mount into my home dir for the bigger digital cruft that always assembles over time. So in theory I could unmount the spinning disk and get more quiet and less energy consumption, but that didn't happen automatically. Yesterday though, my friend Rodolfo told me about atactl(8). Now that is a fun tool...

Continue reading "Attaboy X220 with atactl!"
Posted by betabug at 17:24 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
11 January 2013

Wood Smog

Athens is Smoking

Athens is smoking. I'm not talking about the ban of smoking in public places which has completely disappeared (some months ago, restaurants would place small candleholders that could serve as ashtrays on the tables, now they reverted to simple ashtrays, apparently all legal fears are gone). I'm talking about people burning wood to stay warm. The thing is, there are a lot of people here who don't have money for heating oil. There aren't that many people who don't have the money, but since the heating systems work on a per-apartment-house basis, if out of 15 tenants, 2 don't have the money to pay their bill, then nobody gets to heat their apartments, money or not.

The first step was that people would light up their open fireplaces. That of course is a futile move it you want to stay warm. Open fireplaces have energy efficiencies below zero, your place gets colder if you use them. Then people started to set up small stoves that burn wood and "pellets" (which are some kind of pressed wood throwaways if I got that right). Rumours about people going into the woods to cut wood illegally made the rounds and were promptly picked up by the press, but a friend of mine with links to the WWF and forest preservation societies denies these things happening at any scale. I see a lot of turnover at places that sell bundled firewood and I see people bringing firewood from their villages.

So far the effect for me was that it was smelling of wood fires in the evenings outside some times. But yesterday, when I came home from the hackfest at, inside Omonia Metro station, I had a sensation of almost not being able to breathe freely due to smoke in the air. Inside the station, next to the tracks, I don't know how many meters under the earth. It was so strong that I was looking around, expecting to see someone who had foolishly lit up some papers or something. More likely someone had lit up a fire outside, near an air intake. Getting out of the Metro and waiting for the bus, the air wasn't much better.

This morning I heard from a couple of other people that it has been the same in other areas of Athens. It seems that Athens notoriously smog prone setting (hills all around it, except on the sea side) meets those wood fires and if the wind conditions are wrong, we get "wood smog". Also we had some cold days, so people needed to get warm more.

Posted by betabug at 22:09 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
18 January 2013

Keine Angst vor dem weissen Licht

Auf LED Lampen umgestellt

Letzte Woche habe ich drei LED-Lampen gekauft. Die ersetzen zwei mal normale Glühbirnen, einmal eine sogenannte "Energiesparlampe". Die Glühlampen zu ersetzen bot sich aus naheliegenden Gründen an: Eine 40 Watt Birne ist halt einfach zu wenig, um ein Zimmer angenehm hell zu machen und eine 100 Watt Lampe ist halt ökonomisch wie ökologisch heute nicht mehr der Stand.

Die "Energiesparlampe" wurde ersetzt, da mir nach einem kleinen Unfall bei meiner Freundin (Lampe kaputt gegangen) wieder mal klar wurde, was für ein Chemie-Risiko man da im Haus hat. Stichwort: Quecksilber. Will man nicht im Zimmer haben, will man nicht einatmen. Also so eine "Energiesparlampe" z.B. an der Lampe neben dem Sofa, das ist einfach keine gute Idee, einmal dumm zurückgelehnt und das Ding fällt gegen die Wand. Und dann? Fenster aufmachen, Zimmer evakuieren, Sofa... saubermachen? wegwerfen? Und was mit der Bruchlampe machen? Die offiziellen Informationen gehen von einer funktionierenden Giftstoff-Abfuhr aus... hier in Griechenland? Pustekuchen.

Das Szenario will ich gar nicht planen müssen. LED-Lampen sind da sympathischer und sicherer. Schon immer noch einiges teurer, auch wenn die Preise einiges runter gekommen sind. Theoretisch soll man das ja über die Stromrechnung wieder rausholen, mal schauen.

Der grosse Unterschied bis jetzt: Bei den "Energiesparlampen" war die Erfahrung immer "das soll 50 Watt entsprechen? Hmm, vielleicht wird das ja noch heller, wenn es eine Weile an ist..." Bei LED ist die erste Reaktion eher "das entspricht 50 Watt? Ganz schön hell für 50 Watt." Vor allem bei den "weissen" LEDs (4000K), denn bei den "wärmeren" mit 2700K gibt es aus technischen Gründen Verluste. Ich habe zwei "weisse" und eine "warme", die "warme" hat mit 800 Lumen etwa die Lichtleistung einer 100 Watt Glühbirne. Aber da sie noch in einem Lampenschirm steckt, scheint sie gegenüber den anderen eher nicht so starkt durch.

Die "weissen" haben je 650 Lumen. Zuerst war ich mir gar nicht sicher, ob ich mich mit dem Licht anfreunden könnte. Aber gerade tagsüber, wenn die Lampe an ist, um Innenräume aufzuhellen finde ich es inzwischen sehr angenehm. Ich weiss nicht, ob ich gerade gegen Abend alles "kaltweiss" haben wollte, aber mit der "warmen" Birne kann ich es gut ausgleichen. Historisch gesehen werden unsere Kunstlichtquellen sowieso immer "weisser", umso besser sie technisch werden, ist wohl auch Gewöhnungssache.

Interessanter Gedanke am Rande: Das weissere Licht wird üblicherweise als "kalt" beschrieben, das "gelbere" als "warm". Rein physikalisch ist es umgekehrt, siehe Angaben in K (Kelvin). Warm werden die LED-Lampen übrigens nicht wirklich, auch nach ein paar Stunden kann man die Lampe problemlos anfassen.

Posted by betabug at 21:48 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
19 January 2013

Misc and ed day

It's ed the editor, not Ed the guy
Μεταφερθήκαμε δίπλα, πριν 26 χρόνια

Let's start this piece with a confession: Yes, I do read misc@, the infamous OpenBSD mailing list for miscellanous topics about that OS. But, I must hasten to say, only occasionally, through the marc web archives, and only to get a bit of a late night fun read or some minor interest tinker idea. Really. So I was reading a bit of misc@ yesterday evening, which I repeat to say, I do only rarely. There was this discussion about if there should be vi instead of ed in bsd.rd or even on the install (floppy) disk image. At that moment I thought, "why, I thought they had actually put vi in there some day?" I seemed to remember finding vi on an install image one day a few years ago.

Obviously I was wrong, as I just confirmed by bringing up a qemu virtual machine booting it into bsd.rd. My second thought was that I should bring back my annual "ed day" then. My annual "ed day" used to be one complete day where I would not touch my normal text editor (vi) to do my work, but instead do everything with ed. Wikipedia informs me that ed was written in 1971, so you can imagine it being a bit rustique. Still, it's able to do most any job, especially when it comes to sysadmin work. If your system is misconfigured and all you can bring up is single user mode, ed is all you will have and ed is what you should know how to handle. So I would strugge a bit for one working day and keep a bit of practice, much like with a fire drill.

The reasons I stopped the tradition were: I thought that they had vi on bsd.rd (wrong, see above) and I started to work more in programming and less in support/sysadmin stuff. In programming it's going to be even tougher to use ed, so now when I get back to my "ed day" habit, I'll have to make amends on what kind of stuff I'll do on that day.

Posted by betabug at 20:32 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 January 2013

Going to Work by Bike

Well, getting there
You will not find "Paralia" on a map

We're on the 12th day of public transport strikes today. During those 12 days, either the busses or the metro or both were on strike (along with tram, trolley busses etc.). So, it wasn't easy to get to my office. For two days while only the Metro was on strike, I took the bus. It wasn't so bad, since I get on at the first stop, I had a place to sit. But it was hard to get off the overstuffed bus and the traffic jam was epic. (Sidenote: I think the strike is justified, even though I would prefer if they had another means to fight for their rights.)

On Saturday I got myself a bicycle. This morning I went to my office by bike. I tried to avoid the big roads. Result: I got lost in the small streets. It wasn't that bad, since those were quiet streets with some nice old houses from time to time. I stopped a lot to check where I was on the gps. I got lost again, more stops for the gps.

On my way I also came across the spot in the picture with those three signs. I know those signs for many years and always I wanted to stop and take a picture. With the bike it was easy. If you speak Greek, please don't read on and try first to spot what's wrong with those signs. Το βρήκες; Μπράβο! For everybody else: The Greek word Παραλία can indeed roughly be transliterated as "Paralia" (it's not pronounced the way an english speaker would pronounce that), but that makes no sense. Παραλία is no place that you will find on a map, it needs a translation, it means "beach" or "coast". So the sign say: Stay on the 2nd lane if you want to pass through to the coast.

All in all, it took me a bit more time than the trip with bus and metro would have taken. My guess is that when I find a good route (and not get lost) I can make it in 45 minutes, which would be half the time from taking public transport. Well... except, tonight it will be all uphill to get back, so I will see how I will manage that part. One option is to take the Metro for a part of the way, as today the Metro works and it's ok to take a bicycle on the Metro (it used to be possible only on line 1).

Posted by betabug at 14:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 January 2013

Biking Home at Night

Easy ride, no Metro

Yesterday's ride home wasn't so bad with the uphill as expected. For one thing, the bike seems to be quite good. The gear lever system works well. I seem to have the most important "clicks" (shift down) already in my muscle memory. I could do with a lower first gear though, I've been in first gear quite some times, so I wonder what will happen if I have to go really steep uphill somewhere.

Traffic wasn't bad. For one thing, I started around 22:30. Also I took mostly smaller roads and where I was on big roads, I took the by-lanes (παράδρομο). I must admit that in one stretch I was on the by-lane, even though it was one-way. I also drove on the sidewalk on two occasions. Once (very slowly) near a Metro station, where the traffic is a bit crazy with all the taxis in line. The other one on a looooong uphill on a road with fast traffic. Nobody was walking there anyway. Oh, and I didn't put the bike into the Metro, the ride was easy enough. IIRC the online map planner said it was 13.5km or so.

The light system of the bike seems to be good too, I sure didn't notice the dynamo doing some work. The backlight that keeps the light for some time even when the dynamo is stopped is great: I'm still visible, even when standing at a traffic light. I wasn't so happy with the front light. It needs some tightening, it was jumping all over with the slightest shake. Should be fixed with a (torx) driver in no time at all.

Posted by betabug at 09:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)