Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

06 Nov 2021

Canon PowerShot G5X mk II

After nearly two years of waiting I've bought a new Cannon PowerShot to replace my old one that died at the start of 2020. The G5XII has a much larger Sony sensor instead of the Canon one in the S110. The electronics are all newer and the screen is both higher quality and higher resolution. It costs more than the camera it replaced, which is okay as it's a much higher spec, but annoyingly to fit the optics into the camera it is quite a bit thicker - which is annoying...

The most annoying thing in practice at the moment is the secret squirrel file format that Canon have developed to replace the CR2 of the old camera: CR3. At the moment I can read the EXIF file data with one tool, and open it with another - that can't read the EXIF data - and then save from GIMP. It's all a bit of a faff, but it's better than it was a year ago.


24 Oct 2021

Notwork

At the moment we are camping at my mother-in-law's while the builders do things to the house. Last week I was able to work all week from home as only the electrician was working and I was able to use his live line while other bits were off. On Friday afternoon the heating engineer took out the old hot water tank, so now the house as no water as well as only some electric and no heat...

My mother-in-law moved into her house this August and ordered standard PON fibre from Orange.fr once she had a confirmed move date, and in late August we collected the Orange live box. While we've the box for a while we don't have any fibre and Orange have now made and then cancelled on the day three appointments to install about 50 m of fibre optical cable from the pole in the street to my mother-in-law's house.

So while she is paying for a 1 Gbit/s Internet net connection, all she has is a 4G WiFi puck, which works and is quicker than our old ADSL connection, but it's got no wires and every now and they she has to go back to the shop to be given a new SIM as the bandwidth has been used up....

The architect says we may need to be out of our house for about a month, while things are done, so it's going to be interesting. I had hoped to take some time off while out of the house, and got some DIY done at my mother-in-law's but work needs me to do some REST interfacing work, so that's currently not possible...


26 Aug 2021

Debian GNU/Linux 11.0 "Bullseye"

I've now upgraded or installed Debian Bullseye on all my non-server systems. The upgrade this cycle was one of the easiest of all, and overall I'd say the change was the most evolutionary rather than revolutionary to date, in my experience since I started with Woody.

Most things seem to work in the same way as before, only things are a little newer and a little better, a few bugs have been fixed and a few new features have arrived. There are a few visual improvements, but it's very much more of the same - which is a good thing, I think.

I'll upgrade my servers last, even though they actually have way fewer packages on them (not having a GUI or any desktop allocations) there have been major changes to Exim, so I don't want to break my email system...


25 Jun 2021

Brexit VI

We are now 6 months into Brexit and 5 years since the fraudulent referendum that has plunged the UK into a self inflicted crisis that I fear it will not emerge intact from.

Basically every promise that the Leave campaign made has turned out to be a lie that Remain said it was. The fishing industry has been thrown under a big red bus, Northern Ireland has been cut of from Great Britain, citizen has been abandoned, and the new trade deals are either basically the same as before or as for in the Australian one, worded as to kill off the British beef and lamb industry...

All the fears of the Remain campaign are slowly coming true, jobs have left, imports are down, exports are down, the pound is down, skilled people have left, costs are up, business are drowning in red tape, the economy is growing slower than it was previously, and inward investment has dried up. Northern Ireland and Scotland are pulling at the very fabric of the Union...

How things will actually pan out I don't know, but while the Brexit fruit cakes are enthroned in Westminster I don't any change in direction. Long term I suspect that Scotland and Northern Ireland will break away. Eventually England will be forced to rejoin the EU, but on much less favourable terms than the UK had, but that will still probably be a good thing...


More Debian GNU/Linux 11.0 "Bullseye"

Though still not officially stable I've upgraded a further spare laptop, a lightly used desktop and a virtual system from Debian 10.10 to 11.0. In all cases there was even less than usual that needed any manual attention. In most cases I reset to standard where I could and then checked afterwards if I wanted to put back any customisation. I've also built one new system directly on Bullseye, and that's a pretty neat system too, given it's age and low spec.

Superficially everything is a bit newer and a bit more polished, and the like most recent upgrades it's evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Compared to the 9 to 10 step, so far there was even less to worry about, and things have just got a more polished. While the KDE 4 to 5 transition was a big technical change, as was the move to systemd, I feel the last noticeable change was versions 7 to 8. A decade ago the move from 5 to 6 was very noticeable as KDE jumped from 3 to 4, which was a more noticeable change than the later KDE 4 to 5 transition.

The biggest step change I remember was 3 "Woody" to 3.1 "Sarge". Sarge had been in gestation for quite a while, and though it was only numbered 3.1 it was one of the biggest jumps, which saw a whole range of changes and also gave Debian a reputation for slow release cycles, which is unfair as post 3.1, most versions have actually come out with an even cadence of about 2 years per release...!

Dull upgrades are always good, but other than a few changed splash screens and some new graphics it mostly feels the same, just a bit better, which is good.


20 May 2021

Debian GNU/Linux 11.0 "Bullseye"

Yesterday I test upgraded an old/spare laptop from Debian 10 to Debian 11. The upgrade process has changed for this release cycle, it now uses apt instead of apt-get, but seemed to go well other than a few minor cases when I needed to press Y for it to continue.

I'll probably put some new systems I'm building directly onto Bullseye, but I won't upgrade the rest of my systems until the formal release rolls round later this year. It looks pretty good already, and I've noticed fewer changes on a virtual system that has been shadowing Bullseye for a while.


07 Apr 2021

NFSv4 over a VPN

Over the Easter weekend, we were visting (fully vaccinated) family. So we were away from the house. Using my WireGuard VPN I was easily able to read email from my home server on my laptop without having to do much to make it all work. I still need to tweak the dynamically generated /etc/resolv.conf file, but I can live with that.

For a laugh I tried to see if NFS would work over WireGuard. Other than adding my machine's VPN name (already in BIND) to the exports file, nothing actually needed to be changed, and autofs started working as if the laptop was at home, and I was able to stream FLAC files over NFSv4 fom home to my laptop away from home...!

I think that's a result!


07 Mar 2021

Le chat mange un croissant

I have been with a French person for quite a while. While I did make some effort to learn French, there wasn't much point really while we lived in England, worked in English and all our friends were English. Since we decided to move to France, learning French became more, critical, so I started lessons, and used various resources physical and on-line.

For nearly three years, I have been using Duolingo every day. I've pretty much got to the point that some stupid design flaws in French don't bother me anymore and I they come naturally. English has its own design flaws too, but you don't notice them in your first language until you try to learn another one....!

Every day before bed I plug away at the site, learning something new and repeating something I've done before. To be fair I've got faster, and lots of things come naturally without thinking, and I can now watch French TV (with French subtitles) and follow most of what's going on.

One thing that does bug me though is that in its limited form and to try to create some level of variety Duolingo varies the sentences a bit but that does mean you get a fair share of the silly ones, my favourite being Le chat mange un croissant.


29 Jan 2021

Further adventures in IPv6 land

Now all my systems at home are running IPv6, and have been renamed I'm having fun with the way IPv6 works relative to IPv4.

With IPv4 my computers had one IP address per interface, which usually means just one, except when a laptop is connected via wires and wireless at the same when it is multi-homed. For the machine that has more than one address it's not a problem, but it's a pain to connect to as means duplicate records in DNS and more faff with DHCPD. Most of the time it's not a problem, but once I added WireGuard everything had at least two IPs.

To solve the VPN address, I reorganised my domains. The external machines have their own unique IPv4 and IPv6 addresses at the top of my domain, and the home systems are on their own home sub-domain and the VPN addresses in a different VPN only domain, which makes the name resolution easy, and the domain search order simple.

IPv6 is inherently both more complex and simpler than IPv4... Every machine makes up a non routeable local address based on its own MAC address (unless privacy in enabled), and it normally takes a prefix from the router and adds that to the local address to create a globally unique and routeable address. You can also allocate a local non-routeable, private address which is static and can easily be used in your local DNS. The global address is basically based on something given to you by your ISP, so can change at any time so no use for DNS, and the local address is no use if privacy is enabled as instead of a static MAC address base, it becomes a random number...

For my immobile systems, you can tell the system to allocate a static IPv4 and IPv6 address, and let the automatic IPv6 address happen as well. I can then put the static address into my DNS, and not worry about the global address. On the mobile systems it's a bit more confusing, but it turns out you can merge the static allocation, and let network-manager deal with the automatic stuff as well... Win!


22 Jan 2021

IPv6

Linux has worked fine with IPv6 for years, but while in the UK I only had an IPv4 connection to the Internet, so I just ignored IPv6. In fact I disabled it on most of my machines to make my life easier.

Since moving to France, my Internet connection has dropped from a half decent VDSL connection at ~35 MBit/s to a more meagre ADSL2 connection at ~6 MBit/s. However I have gone from one static IPv4 address to one semi-static IPv4 and one semi-static IPv6 block. I've started to turn IPv6 back on and it has had some interesting results....!


03 Jan 2021

WireGuard

I've run a VPN at home for a while. Initially I used SSH to create ad hoc tunnels which work but aren't practical in a regular way. I then tried OpenVPN, which is mature enough to have books about it, and was easy enough to set up. Performance was so-so, which is important as the ADSL into the house is poor, so I can't really afford much of an over head.

At the end of 2019 I installed WireGuard and ran it side by side with OpenVPN. The VPN part is actually the easy bit, the more challenging part is making sure that NAT/firewalls and such are all configured too. After a while it became clear than WireGuard is more efficient, and I migrated everything over to that. Until we are upgraded to FTTP the lower overhead of WireGuard is pretty important to me, even if OpenVPN is a good solution too.

As of 1 January 2021 companies like Sky have stopped roaming of their UK contracts within the EU, so lots of Brits suddenly discovered on New Year's day that their British TV services are no longer valid. Another gift of Brexit. It's relativly easy to get round these GeoIP restrictions with a VPN, so we can expect the commercial VPN providers to pick up some new business from Brits residing in the EU unable to watch local TV, buying VPN contracts so they can continue to watch British TV...

My French isn't good enough to watch French TV and follow everything that happens, so at the moment I download programmes using youtube-dl, which also downloads the subtitles, from the TV company in France, and then run the French subtitles through a translation service into English, and then I hand correct them the best I can. It's not perfect, but it means I can at least hear French and absorb some of the meaning as I watch more and more French TV.


01 Jan 2021

Brexit V

Well it has finally happened. The UK left the EU in 2020, and then a wafer-thin agreement was agreed and the transition period ended on the last day of 2020. Northern Ireland is de facto still in the Customs Union and there is now a border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Gibraltar is joining the Schengen area, and Kent is now a giant lorry park. After all the promises it turns out that the UK will have to follow most EU directives after all, and has zero say or veto in any of them, failure to do so will result in penalties.

This is probably the greatest confidence trick in British history, and was done so a few super rich people can avoid paying tax... One can only hope that a sane government is eventually elected in the UK, and moves to rejoin the EEA, and finally the EU. Though the terms will never be as generous as the ones the UK used to have, and it's also possible by then that the UK won't exist, Scotland and Northern Ireland may have left...


18 Oct 2020

Annoying...

One of the disks in my home server has started to moan. It's a 4 year old Toshiba 6 TB drive. I installed it back in 2016 by upgrading a computer I'd originally bought in 2008.

The original computer had a pair of 0.5 TB drives in a mirrored pair, and by 2015 I was running out of space. The PSU had already died and the case fan had developed a squeak, so both had been replaced already. One of the disks started to fail, so in 2016 I bought a new motherboard with more & faster RAM and a faster & cooler CPU. I swapped the two 0.5 TB Samsung disks with a pair of 6 TB Hitachi disks. Annoyingly one of the Hitachi disks died with a week and I had to swap it.

At the moment the computer is my home server, holding all my music in FLAC format, tv and film downloaded (not ripped DVDs) and backups of the other computers. The disks work as a mirrored pair, so even if it does die I have a copy of the data on the other disk.

I've several options:

  • Wait and see if it gets any worse, the Samsung took several weeks to fail previously and never got to the point of the RAID system complaining.
  • Swap the failing drive with a similar new drive.
  • Replace the pair with two new drives - the size could be different, the current array is 6 TB, but only 2.2 TB is actually used, so a 4 TB pair would suffice and accommodate several years more growth without a problem and be cheaper than 2 new 6 TB drivers.

Annoyingly since I bought the original 6 TB drives, the price has actually gone up, they are now €175 each on Amazon, and I paid slightly less than that in 2016, which is the first time I've ever encountered inflation on computer components - for most of my life things had undergone deflation...!


17 Oct 2020

Brexit IV

Brexit is the gift that keep giving. The UK is now heading for a no-deal BREXIT after Johnson's so called oven-ready deal has turned out to be a lukewarm turd. Not content with signing a treaty with the EU that he then decided to ignore before the ink is even dry, he's now turning large areas of the Garden of England into a lorry car park, breaking the Union up, throwing the economy under a bus and failing to deal with a second and predicted wave of COVID.

It's hard to know if the Brexit zealots are:

  • Incredibly stupid - and believe their lunatic rhetoric
  • Know what they are doing because they will personally benefit from the collapse of the UK

I'm not sure which is worst, being criminally stupid or being a criminal. Either way most of the current Tory party aren't fit to be in government...


27 Sep 2020

2020

When this year started I didn't think the world could get any worse. Brexit was happening and panning out to be the utter disaster that I thought it was going to be. Trump was proving to be an even bigger moron that I thought was possible and the UK had just elected a lazy clown as PM.

First up my step father died, which was a surprise and not a very nice one. He had a decent innings and had a pretty decent retirement, and his illness had no symptoms until the final few weeks, so he didn't really suffer - which is the best one can take from the situation.

While attending my step-father's funeral COVID exploded and I was nearly trapped in the UK, with no where to stay and no clothes to stay in. I managed to get home, via a long, expensive and tortuous route, and then spent several days in bed sick as a parrot. I don't know if I had COVID or stress enhanced cold/'flu, as tests weren't readily available at the time - and I still wonder...

My favourite compact camera died, and I've not yet replaced it - but given the situation it's hardly surprising...

The UK went into semi-lockdown and France went into real lockdown, so I didn't leave the house for weeks and other than my wife, I saw no one, which was all very odd. As I already work from home that wasn't an utter disaster, but I have put weight on this year as I just haven't been out as much.

We have started to work on the house, which is going well, but is absurdly expensive. The original quote was €100k, which I thought was way to low, and in my mind budgeted for €200k, but the current quote is now €240k, and we've already spent €50k on essential work... When it's all done, well probably add €1 to the value of the house for every €2 to €3 that we spend. Not a good return on financial investment, but it will be good for us.

At this very moment France and the UK are hurtling towards a very nasty second wave of COVID, and while France is dealing with it better than the UK, it's only marginally and in both countries there is a strong current of idiots opposing the scientific advice and trying to make things worse - though at least in France they aren't in the government...!

Finally the UK is heading towards some kind of absurd no-deal Brexit, or some kind of weak to useless deal Brexit, which will make things very hard in the UK for a while - which I'll at least be partially shielded from...