Machines can’t be blamed for human incompetence

Dev is back

Dev is back up I see. Not that iMen were even told officially that it had gone down in the first place…

Don’t forget about cooling, computers need air

I spent most of Sunday converting the part of my desk which used to house two drawers into a computer Unit to free up some legroom under the desk.

I managed to build in a false floor under which the remarkable tangle of cables for my 8 point home network, surround sound audio cables etc. can be hidden. It was made of black ash MDF to match the desk and fits perfectly with a slot in the back for cables to discretely disappear, supported by two carefully cut supports.

I unplugged everything so I could relocate the box then wired everything back up which took about 15 minutes. It all looked neat and tidy and my main tower fits perfectly next to the subwoofer, router and switch.

I booted up the computer and it was just sat there playing music and displaying the gmatrix screensaver when Ubuntu froze and bombed out.  Upon rebooting the machine the CPU temperature was reading a 75 degrees C and was probably hotter than that when it crashed.

I’d completely neglected to build in any ventillation. The hot air was pumping out of the back of the box and getting trapped in a black wooden box where the temperature built up and it overheated. The aluminium case was hot to the touch.

I think I’ll have to take the back off the desk to allow airflow and hope it doesn’t fall apart!

Running out of Petrol

The petrol gauge on my car can be a bit tempremental so I try and keep it reasonably well topped up. But this morning I got in the car and the fuel light came on. I was already running a little late but I dashed to the other side of town to the Petrol Station.

When I got to the petrol station I realised I didn’t have my wallet so had to drive home to fetch it. I then went back to the petrol station and filled up.

On the way to work I got stuck behind three lorries and wait for two trains and by the time I arrived I was 40 minutes late.

I probably could have got to work on the fuel left in the car.

In other news

Friday night was speech day at BGS which was traditionally dull. The special guest was an ex BGS pupil who discovered a gene related to obesity, she was the most interesting person talking all night.

However, it was worth sitting through the speeches to a) get my hands on the Dirk Gently Omnibus (I won the Computing Prize and it was my Prize) and b) go to the pub with djkoa

I also made a final decision not to retake any of my maths A Level and got to see a lot of people who’ve been at Uni all term.

P.S. Deepest Sender is very cool

Power Outage + Meningitis Outbreak = Chaos

Power Outage…

I was in a meeting about Sonic Postcards when Gary burst in and asked if we still had power. Turned out one of the three power phases to the college had blown (I’m pretty sure of this, the electrician said it was the case and it certainly smelt like something had melted). Nobody is quite sure how we managed to draw enough power off it to make the something melt, but it did. As it happens, the entire server room and the office happened to be on the phase that blew.

The UPSs kicked in nicely but we had to take out the Windows servers (because apparently they drain the most energy) and leave the Mac servers running. After a while the power outage was seeming more permenant by the second and computers were dropping like flies as the UPSs ran out of juice so we had to take the whole lot down.

…+ Meningitis Outbreak…

Meanwhile, before the power cut the college had received a phone call saying that one of the lads who went on a school trip yesterday has come down with Meningitis C! This means that all the students and staff (including a member of staff I’d just had a meeting with) had to have an injection as a precaution. They all had to be kept after school and walked down to the hospital round the corner (I think).

…= Chaos

Unfortunately the power outage meant that the phone exchange was down so the office staff couldn’t ring all the parents to let them know what was going on. When I relayed this fact to the electrician he said that he could switch one of the working phases to the broken one to give the phones power, and why hadn’t anyone asked him to do this anyway? So the power was switched and the phones back online. The electrician wasn’t sure about the load on the now working phase so we rushed around the place turning everything off that didn’t need to be on.

After a while it emerged that the fuse that had blown was actually one that had to be changed by the electricity board so they had to be called out. At this point the power had to be switched back to how it was so the electricity board didn’t know it had been touched (shh), meaning the phones would go out again. So we ran an extension lead from a working socket upstairs down to the phone exchange, the fax machine and some temporary lighting in the office (it was starting to get dark).

At this point the network manager (who had just popped out) arrived wanting to know why all the lights were switched off!

phpicalendar, Windows ATMs and Mr Wong

Regarding my previous post about setting up phpicalendar to allow multiple calendars being posted to a WebDAV server with different usernames and passwords…

I was going to suggest hacking phpicalendar to allow transversing subdirectories recursively so that each calendar could be in its own (separately authenticated) directory, but before I do that I’m going to try something else. After reading a lot of Apache documentation I’ve come across another possibility. (I’ve been reading and

Basically, within the Apache configuration a section can be nested within a section in order to manage access control on an individual file basis. So instead of having a subdirectory for each user, you need only have a calendar file (.ics file) per user within the default calendars directory.

The example given in the Apache documentation is:

<Directory /var/web/dir1>
<Files private.html>
Order allow,deny
Deny from all

For this application I was thinking something along the lines of…

<Directory /var/www/phpicalendar/calendars/>
<Files calendar1.ics>
AuthType Basic
AuthName “Private”
AuthUserFile /etc/apache/htpasswd
Order allow, deny
Allow from all
require user user1
<Files calendar2.ics>
AuthType Basic
AuthName “Private”
AuthUserFile /etc/apache/htpasswd
Order allow, deny
Allow from all
require user user2

The downside to this is that the .ics filename must be identical to the one in the Apache config file.

Note: this isn’t secure, the next task is to pipe all this through SSL.

Runtime Error… on an ATM

I noticed that BBC News is reporting “Concerns over Windows cashpoints”, “Cash machine networks could soon be more susceptible to computer viruses, a security firm has warned.”

There’s been a Windows Runtime Error displayed on our local Nationwide cash machine for about a week now, which I find highly amusing. It still works, but apparently they’re waiting for someone from head office to sort out the error.

On a semi-related note, the Sainsburys Bank cash machine down the road is being very unstable. The screen flickers, it’s extremely slow and kept beeping at me at random intervals last time I used it. I thought it was going to eat my card.

Guiness lamp

lauperr bought me the *coolest* present. It’s a Guinness Neon Lamp (you’ve really got to see it, I’ll post photos when I find the lead for lauperr‘s camera). She bought it on eBay from a Mr Wong from Hong Kong (I kid you not) and had it shipped over 😀

Pub Quiz

After our impressive winnings last fortnight (8 free drinks and a bottle of wine) we failed to win the quiz this time. We were against stiff competition and the questions were mostly about events just before we were born. We did manage to come away with a T-shirt, DVD and bottle opener and we didn’t pay for a drink all night 🙂 so it wasn’t all bad! And we didn’t come last either.


I’ve just recovered from a tummy bug which I caught off Laura. I haven’t thrown up in about ten years, I thing I’ve been storing it all up ‘caus this time was pretty bad!

After being sick I was having weird dreams while trying to sleep which seemed to continue into when I was awake. Perhaps these are what are called hallucinations. I think I thought I was running Buckingham Palace and the Queen was getting mad with me because I was doing a bad job of it. There was too much paperwork to fill in you see and I didn’t understand any of the forms!

On top of that, I couldn’t seem to get comfortable, I was tossing and turning all night, and rambling at lauperr keeping her awake. I couldn’t concentrate on anything or straighten out my thoughts. If I thought about a person for example, that person would suddenly change into a group of shapes in my head – rods, spheres and cubes – and then float around incomprehensibly in the air. I didn’t really know where I was and felt very uneasy. Scary stuff!

I’m glad that’s all over!