zen.org Communal Weblog

November 30, 2004

Now on the resume: Expert Witness

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:12 IST

This summer I was asked to take the role of technical expert witness in a case in the High Court here in Ireland. My first. Holy cow.

It involved Internet filter usage in libraries, and I was on the side of the person filing suit for no filters being in place. Today, finally, was the court date. Last week I finished my official opinion, all 21 pages of it, and today it was going to be submitted to the judge as part of my appearance when the whole trial started.

In a very anti-climactic way the trial ended up not happening. There was no judge available to hear it, so there ended up being some kind of settlement since apparently neither side really felt like waiting til February or March for another try. The system is very different from America, at least using my Law & Order-based perspective: you learn at 11am whether or not you can get one of the three judges that listen to cases in this group, whatever that may be. If you get one, you may start in half an hour. Or you lose out and have to reschedule for some later date. Very down to the last minute.

Turned out only one judge was available, with three separate cases vying for position. The first case on the list, with us in third place, won out. I arrived at the court at about 9:45am ready to rock, and finally left after tons of cafe latte and tea at about 2:30pm. Most of the time was spent waiting around to learn if there would be a judge, then waiting for a settlement or a later trial.

Overall it was an interesting experience where I got to take part in two consultations (meetings with the client or the barrister involved), do a few technical evaluations of what’s currently set up at the library, research a-plenty, and reread my written opinion a few times en route to the Four Courts to make sure I would remember the important stuff. Lots of work but I think it was worth it. (Hmm, am I overstepping my bounds by putting it on my resume if I never actually spoke in the courtroom?)

Maybe I’ll be lucky and get to do it again some time. Hey, maybe I’ll even make it into the witness box.

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November 29, 2004

I can go to CUBA!!!

Filed under: — elana @ 17:05 IST

As of September 30 (but I just got the certificate today), I am IRISH. I have dual citizenship. I can get a passport, vote, and properly bitch about this country because I BELONG here :-).

It’s amazing. You never think about getting citizenship in another country, at least I didn’t. It’s really a wild feeling.

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Lunch at the Clarence

Filed under: — brendan @ 08:30 IST

Up in Dublin today, I was hunting around for a place to sit down and read my mail while eating lunch. Could’ve gone with the Subway Internet Cafe (yup, Subway made it to Ireland). But I thought I’d try lunch at the Clarence Hotel since E’s parents ate there and liked it, if I remember correctly. I’d seen it in a list of wireless hotspots in Dublin. The fabled U2-Bono-TheEdge hotel seen in their Beautiful Day video is reportedly an attraction for tourists and fellow stars. I can certainly say that the fellow at the reception desk was really nice and works hard to help you, particularly when the bartender tells you there’s no wireless Internet access but reception says there is. heh. Not free, of course, for 1 hour: 6 pounds sterling aka 8.55 Euro aka $11.38 US. After lunch he appeared in the bar to check that I’d successfully connected, and asked again who had told me they didn’t have access so he could make sure they knew the right answer. He’s good at his job.

For lunch, you have an assortment of traditional pub grub and then a Daily Dish—for Monday, an Irish Stew with Guinness bread. Stew was okay, but not amazing. Kinda bland flavor, though I’d love the bread recipe. The bar had maybe two other tables with anyone at them. I didn’t look in the restaurant, since I knew I was already splurging for lunch and it’d be ridiculous to consider what a restaurant meal here probably costs.

With an empty bar, I’m not sure why my equally empty pint glass has been left without intervention (regardless of whether or not I would drink any more having finished my lunch). Maybe they’ve been yelled at by customers with laptops enough that they don’t dare interrupt?

Anyway, all together a decent enough lunch but nothing to write (much) in your blog about. One review came up with a fun play on words: Where the Sheets Have No Stains.

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Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation

Filed under: — brendan @ 02:26 IST

Even though he falls asleep in his own bed, just about every night our 3 year-old wakes up somewhere between 10pm and 1am to come into our bedroom, climb over me, and snuggle down between us. Many a morning we’d wake up to find him there, neither E nor I with any memory of his arrival.

As comforting as it is to feel his warm little body cuddling up to us, I think he’s forcing us to come up with a strategy to make him opt for his own bed more often. The last few nights a combination of accelerated feet swinging out of nowhere, “Dad I wanna go downstairs,” and head-butts have made us get little sleep. It’s as if he were 6 months old again. If he slept through the night in a civil manner, he’d be more than welcome. But our kidneys and heads can’t take much more of the abuse.

Last night I think we can count perhaps 3 hours of real sleep. I’m up at 6 today while E sleeps in, and this afternoon I expect I’ll crash for a couple of hours to be in even close to a decent mood for the evening.

There’s plenty about a young P that we’ll miss in a few years, seriously regretting not keeping a more active journal of his funny quirks, new discoveries, and happy moments. We’ll lament our poor memories, knowing for any one tidbit we kept we let a dozen disappear forever. Yet somehow I suspect this random sleep deprivation isn’t going to be as quickly forgotten. 🙂

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November 26, 2004

Full Moon and Clear Skies

Filed under: — Sven @ 19:56 IST

At 20:07 UTC on November twenty-sixth the moon was totally full. Now just a few hours on the waning side I went out in the cold with the opera specs Brendan gave me for being in his wedding party. The moon is amazing! If this happens much more I should get a small telescope on a tripod.

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Cosmic Wimpout

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:54 IST

Wow, if you Google “Cosmic Wimpout you discover tons of info about the game, a FAQ, even a copy of it for the Palm. Sven taught me how to play this in our studio (said very loosely) apartment in college. The mention of stuff like Scrabble reminded me of it, and only now did I try to see who else knew about it. Turns out plenty do.

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Butchers can sure look like turkeys

Filed under: — brendan @ 05:59 IST

We were going to throw a big turkey dinner this weekend as a practice run of Christmas. We’ve got family over then, and want to make sure we pull off the complex menu we’ve concocted. But then we were told by more than one person how turkeys are a rare product in Ireland except right before Christmas. “There’s no market for them except for Christmas,” it was explained. The great organic butcher down the street confirmed what the butcher at the supermarket had told us: no turkey before mid-December. So we let go of the idea and didn’t plan to do anything this time.

At the very same supermarket this morning, where I was doing an early-morning run for the week’s menu, I had just finished getting frozen veggies when I saw a cooler at the end of the aisle. Packed full with big, big frozen turkeys, complete with giblets and the rest. At least 20 of them. To back up my organic butcher’s story, I bet if I looked on the wrapper around the turkeys I’d find an address in England. But still. They were both wrong: you can get a turkey in November, just not a fresh one, much less an organic free-range civil responsibility sort of turkey.

Maybe we’ll have a veggie stir-fry this weekend to just really push the point.

Discovered in a blog via Google: Male turkeys are too stupid to find their own food, so in a group (sic) of male turkeys there must be a few females to find the food or else the males would all starve to death.

That tends to describe the scene in an awful lot of supermarkets—or the kitchens of too many homes.

As an aside, our road has a ladies’ book club that meets about every three months. The husbands on the street don’t have a gathering of their own for another time, though I would love to figure out something. No meeting up in a pub to watch a match, since not everyone drinks. I had the idea of a gathering where all of the guys take part in putting together a 3-course meal. The ladies would eat it with us at the end. The cooking idea got poo-poo’d by more than a few people. Not many of the guys would find that even close to a recreational activity. Oh well. Maybe we’ll come up with something else. Poker or a similar game is reportedly a favorite among testosterone gatherings. Don’t suppose they’d be into Scrabble or Boggle or Risk or … boy do I feel snobby.

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November 25, 2004

setuid doesn't fix the rendering for TV

Filed under: — brendan @ 16:22 IST

I tried doing

   chmod u+s /usr/bin/mythbackend /usr/bin/mythfrontend

to see if it would make the display of the show actually work properly. No dice. I wonder now if there’s an issue with the X display properly using the Hauppauge card? I worder if there are hardware options available on the card that my XF86Config should use to make things go more quickly.

Actually, I suspect the first thing I should do is check out the latest ivtv driver. Build it, make it reboot to load it (I’ve not been able to make the module unload, try as I might). One helpful comment from someone suggested that I shouldn’t be forced to do quite the level of custom settings in /etc/mythtv/modules/ivtv as I have been. The newer driver reportedly does a lot of the work for you, so you don’t have to specify which card, PAL vs NTSC (I’m suspect of the chances of this), etc.

Just a matter of time. I’ve got to get this working in the next couple of weeks, or I know the holidays will make me not touch it again until January. That would just be ridiculous. 🙂

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Upgrade SuSE 9.1 to 9.2 … the precursor

Filed under: — brendan @ 16:17 IST

I tried to upgrade my desktop system from SuSE 9.1 to SuSE 9.2, but it failed. I have a few drives on it:

hda / and /home
hdb /work
hdc /music
hdd CD-ROM/DVD-RW
hde /backup and /tv

(I know I need to put /home on its own disk, just not easy at the moment—either a 40Gb as it is now, or a 250Gb. Too much space for /home not isolated on its own disk.)

I was able to boot off the CD, pick the language English(US), and then select “Update an existing system.” (Why on the initial boot menu don’t they say “Installation / Upgrade”? I had to go through to see if it supported upgrading instead of just a raw install.)

It got to the point of trying to figure out my system and then complained, “Failed to mount target system.” It pointed me at /var/log/YaST2/y2log for the details. Tsk tsk, the GUI should let me see it there. I looked in the log, and saw that it failed trying to mount /dev/hdd1 as /backup. Hmm.

It looks like it saw the hde drive just fine (meaning the kernel has the driver for the Promise UDMA133 card that I use to let me have more than 4 devices), looking at the Alt-F3 screen where it initially lists the drives. But something in the scripts used to install messed up the idea of where the drives are. The original /etc/fstab is clear about mounting /dev/hde1 on /backup and /dev/hde2 on /tv. I’m not yet sure why it thought it was hdd (the CD doing the install). I didn’t expect a mistake like this.

The short-term fix will be to just comment out the /backup and /tv entries in /etc/fstab so that the install process won’t think that those partitions need to be mounted. Maybe tomorrow or next week, time to go to bed.

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bow wow wow

Filed under: — daphne @ 15:11 IST

Sven and I were comparing notes on how people describe the way dog barks in the English and Chinese language. Off the top of my head, I only know of one Chinese bark – “wo, wo”. In English there are many – “bark”, “ruff”, “arf”. We couldn’t figure out what’s up with “bow wow”.

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