Friday, April 14, 2017

There Must Be Worse Ways To Die ...

... or so I guess, I'm not actually about to do that. No, I just say that because I'm reading a book on the Cathars at this moment and - being a French book - it is rather didactic and starts from the very beginning, on the grounds that to understand the Albigensians you must understand the very origins of heresy ... be that as it may, one of the chapters on early Christianity contains the following, absolutely unforgettable line: "Saint Augustine died in 430, in a Hippo besieged by Vandals".

As epitaphs go, that's pretty damn good, I think. Although you should probably know that "Hippo" was in fact the name of a city.

(Incidentally, the invaluable/infallible Whackyweedia informs me that a group of hippos may be referred to as a "bloat". I hope you wanted to know that.)

On the other hand, there are not really worse ways to die than trying to restore a Linux development system onto a new machine. Those who are better-funded and more trusting than I would just giggle and say "Hey! Why don't you just spin up a new VM instance on AWS? No problem!" and to them I say ... no, on second thought I'm not going to say that. For The Shamblings™ is - relatively - family-friendly (for a given value of "friendly" that does not include Hellfire missiles).

Be that as it may, I spent an extremely dull Sunday (good thing the weather wasn't bright enough to draw me out) disinterring an ancient tower system that was still running Windows 2000 on a 1.6GHz dual-core Pentium with all of 1GB of RAM, determining that it was fit for purpose (or at least, would probably, albeit grudgingly, do the job), installing the latest build of Fedora, restoring my backups, checking out exactly what extra packages I needed to install because somewhere between going from V17 to V25 the RedHat guys seem to have stripped out a lot of convenient stuff ...

That, and then redoing the networking around The Shamblings™ just because: the new CPL adapters (that's Ethernet over powerline, to you) and the spare switch turned up and of course I'd ordered six extra 1m Ethernet cables to go with them and - of course - each adapter arrived with its own 1m Ethernet cable ... What I should have done, when we got the place rewired, was have CAT-5 pulled from the utility cupboard on the first floor into every room in the house. Then I'd have stuck the Livebox in there too along with a 16-port switch, and we wouldn't have to live with CPL and crappy WiFi. Sometimes, just don't think clearly.

Getting back to Linux, must now get used to the latest version of the GUI and try to find out exactly where the firewall settings are right now, and how the hell do you get RDP to work, also I would like to change the size of the icons on the desktop from "grotesquely bloated" to "merely obese" and how do I do that ... you can see why I don't often change systems. (You can also see why I would never recommend Linux to an elderly aunt - nor, in fact, to anyone less stubborn than Death.)

But at least it suffices for my vile porpoises, which is to say that I can recompile the software and rebuild the kernel and rootfs without terrifying error messages, even if I do have time for a coffee while it's booting.

(Did I mention that it's so frikkin slow that when running Eclipse - the IDE of choice for the discerning developer, written in Java for reasons that escape me - you can actually see the letters scurrying onto the screen as you type? And I swear you can see a little trail of blurry pixels as they run in, shedding their legwarmers, stage right.)

In other computer-related news, I note (thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the quality journalists of El Reg) that some manufacturer of - um, intimate - devices saw fit not only to equip their dildo with a camera at the business end, but also turn it into a WiFi hotspot and connect it to the innat├╝bz. Security in the marvelous world of Internet Of Shitty Things being what it is - that is to say non-existent - the admin password is empty and it is wide open to being taken, and you could find out that a live feed of your vaginal endoscopy is up on YouTube.

Don't know why they didn't think to stick a mic and speaker into the thing whilst they were about it, although I guess that might have made waterproofing a bit problematic.

Quite frankly, whoever thought of sticking Linux (not to mention a webcam) into a vibrator in the first place needs to be taken around the back of the shed and shot as a mercy killing, and then adding Internet connectivity (and injury to insult) seems to my poor addled brain to be an absolutely ridiculous idea. True, it does mean you can control the object with a smart-phone app, but I'd have thought it so much more convenient just to stick a hand down there. Especially as your hands are probably down there anyway. Or get a friend to help.

Just as an aside, the researchers who turned that one up also discovered that the smart-phone app in question - yes of course there's one - shared a whack of code with apps developed to pilot drones. Why not? Seems reasonable.

And while we're on the subject, this one turned up this very moaning. I must admit that the concept of a system that will happily tell you its password if you just ask it nicely enough is rather sweet, but I would have thought somewhat outdated. Maybe no-one's thought to tell the guys at Schneider just which century we're living in these days.

Just in case you'd forgotten, we celebrated thirty years of life in France last Friday. Gifts of appreciable sums of money are always welcome, just saying, and don't feel obliged to limit your largesse to special occasions such as that. It finally gave me the opportunity to open the cupboard reserved for such things and drag out a couple of the bottles of champagne that have been following us around like a bad smell for at least a decade, and get other people to drink the stuff.

Whatever, first barbecue of the year on Sunday. Bob! came past sometime around midday, I had the smaller of the two beasts fired up, and with potatoes en papillotte with vast quantities of olive oil, cremated rib of beef, a simple salad, good bread and some aged chevre and - of course - some chilled red wine, the whole afternoon just disappeared like that.

Of course we were under a generous sun and let's face it, it's a moral imperative for the French to refaire le monde, to set everything to rights. And even if Bob! is not exactly your typical Frog-person we all play the game and I must admit, there are much worse things to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, out on the terrace.

And a thing that is not worse than that might be, for example, heading off to La Perle Gruissanaise for an idle Monday seafood lunch, because why not? I've talked about the place before, you've seen the photos, I do not particularly wish to make you jealous ... eating prawns and bread and salad with a carafe of the la Clape white wine and the salt air in your nostrils is a very pleasant thing to do. Especially when you've turned off the phone.