Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pissups, Brewery - Not Happening ...

I have got into the habit of going off to the cave coopérative every couple of days to get another 10l of Chateau Carton, so imagine my disgust when I went there today and found that there was none left! A pub with no beer is possible - a cockup on the logistics front, perhaps - but a winery with no wine? WAILIES! I suppose I shouldn't complain: it's probably good for me; they actually gave me free, gratis, and for nothing the last 5l box they had; and the new lot should be coming down the pipeline for next week.

And everyone is saying how 2015 will be a great year. I am willing to believe that this could be the case, but it will take a fair amount of tasting for me to form a definitive opinion.

For some reason there is a tradition - or perhaps (although I have my doubts) an old charter or something - in France whereby every Gristlemouse shopkeepers pay someone with less artistic talent than the average cockroach - someone in fact whose removal from this vale of tears would result in a slight but nonetheless measurable improvement in aesthetic sensibility the world over - to paint their shop windows with humouristic and educative scenes. The local bar is, sadly, no exception.

There is a reindeer that looks more like Odie the dog, from Garfield, who is apparently enjoying a bit of erotic strangulation at the hands of a large rat dressed as Santa Claus, whilst what I can only describe as a hedgehog onna stick looks on approvingly. There is also some sort of Grinch on skis getting ready to drop its trousers.

In other news, I see that thanks to the usual lack of effort put into security, thousands of you could have your Christmas barbie incinerated remotely due to gaping security holes in internet-connected barbecues. But seriously, who in hell uses their barbecue to browse porn or watch cute kitty videos? Who, you? Sorry. Honestly, sticking the damn thing on the innatübz just so as you can fire it up from your iThing seems to me to be a half-assed solution looking for a problem.

Also, have none of the half-witted arts-school dropouts who dream these crappy IoT things up ever seen "Terminator"? You'd have thought that SkyNet would've given them pause.

I always knew that healthy living would kill me, which is why I avoid it like the plague. Now I have evidence to back up my stance. (For a given value of "evidence", anyway - and probably not one that means what it says on the tin.)

Persons of a technical nature - looking at you, Tom - and those of a non-technical nature - looking at everyone else - may skip the next few paragraphs, because you either know it already or, alternatively, would rather slit your own throats and gargle with fresh arterial blood than know it. Be that as it may, I am reminded - once again - that the ARM architecture very rigorously enforces object alignment. To the point where if you ask it to fetch a 32-bit object from memory and supply an address which is not 32-bit aligned, it will blithely go off and fetch data from an address which suits it.

Old Motorola processors (remember those guys? Used to make chips, not just phones) at least raised an address exception and - usually - what passed for the operating system back in those days would trap it and work around it: Intel x86 processors could not give a shit. You pay a performance hit - an extra bus cycle - but that's a price I don't mind paying if the alternative is having things go randomly titsup.

Whatever, I am reminded of this because I had the occasion to share some memory between two entirely different processes. With the requirement that whilst one process was accessing that memory, the other had to wait. Computing 101 stuff. Now under Windows it would be easy-peasy: all synchronisation objects live in the kernel, may be named, and are global - so I would just create a mutex called "Bob!" in each process and use that.

Sadly, under UNIX - and by bastard descent, Linux - life is not so simple. Just take my word for it, I am the Doctor and I am not going to delve into the grubby details. So I thought to myself "Aha! I shall make one process the custodian of the data, and the other process - or processes - shall call upon it by invoking socket juju to perform data manipulation!" OK, so that's just reinventing RPC without paying €5000 to get the tool that converts yer formalized RPC schema into actual code that you can compile, so sue me.

Maybe a false economy, because had I paid for the tool in question it would have generated clunky, unreadable code that took care of byte order and data alignment. I choose to look upon it as a learning experience, for from now on I will never - until the next time - forget to pass data structures on 32-bit boundaries.

I've finished now, you can come back ...

On Friday Cédric turned up for more or less the last time, just to finish sanding the plaster on the ceiling downstairs, and I asked if he could give me a hand to shift the poele à granules out of the garage where it's been lurking for the last two years and get it up into its destined place where the old Kent-style insert used to be. (This is science-based sympathetic magic: by all rights the fact that it is there but not installed will cause the apparition of a chauffagiste, who will suck his teeth noisily and make an appointment to do the job sometime in June, 2017.)

"It can't" we said "be that heavy, after all ..." - let me tell you that heaving 250kg of cast-iron stove one metre up the steps to the verandah, through a door with about 1cm to spare on each side, and from thence to the front door and inside, is not something you really want to do. My back is still reminding me of this. Also, you'd think that just maybe they'd have fitted handles or something somewhere on the damn thing, to make it just that little bit easier to manoeuvre: you would be wrong.

But now I've taped up the gash in my wrist and wiped most of the blood off the floor, and we is waiting for Santa to send us an installation-type person. With any luck we shall be able to give it a test-drive before summer, although I'm not overly optimistic.

Be that as it may, Christmas is icumen and all that, and in a few days Rick will take a couple of jerrycans of elderly diesel out back and light up the solstice balefire and there will be much feasting and eating of odd apéritif biscuits and savoury cake with olives and bacon in there and soggy-bottomed greasy quiche, and hopefully a fair bit of drinking as well, and then the days will start getting longer and before you know it it'll be Spring again and the mangel-wurzels will be nodding their tousled heads or whatever.

But right now, because Provence and the Languedoc are not all cloudless bright blue skies and the smell of thyme and rosemary baking in the summer heat, it is gray and there's a spiteful little rain that reminds me of nothing more than the crachin Breton that we used to get in Britanny: the sort of light drizzle that would like to grow up into a proper drenching downpour but just can't get up the energy so it hangs around like a sullen adolescent playing with his pimples, making you damp rather than actually wet as such.

And as the weather is not forecast to improve over the coming week I can see that my plans for a Christmas Day barbecue might have to be put on hold: we shall just have to eat our foie gras and roast venison and whatever (Yams! I found real yams at the market! And bought all that the guy had left, despite the eye-watering price. Man the mighty hunter is pleased, goes "Ugh"!) on the table inside, wearing paper hats for a jollier atmosphere.

A very Hairy Gristlemouse and a Furry New Bear to all of you: see you in 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Merry $mas! (I don't have your e-address on this here travelling lap-top).