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May 26, 2011

My favorite error message:
last update: 05/26 @ 18:15
And with the error message, “Multiple doodads…” you need the message repeated multiple times.

(Courtesy of Fedora 12)

May 22, 2011

Home Run !!!
last update: 05/22 @ 11:34
Normally in Tee Ball, the last batter gets a home run and can run all the bases. In yesterday’s game the coaches decided to play with no outs but if the ball was still in play, you could keep running past one base per hit.

So Robert got a good hit (after a false start — you have to wait for the team in the field to be ready and Robert hit before they were ready). And took off. The first base coach said to keep running, so he did.

The third base coach said to keep on going to third, so he did.

And them everyone was shouting, “Go on home!” So he did. It was a lot of fun to watch.

And I’m sure more fun to play.

The weather has turned warm so the watermelon Sarah brought was very well received by the players and the coaches and parents.

We came home and relaxed for a bit before joining Hank and Sally for a very nice birthday dinner for Sarah (on top of the very nice birthday dinner we had last week when her brother was in town).

Back to our normal programming
last update: 05/22 @ 11:12
Zip Drive snoozing on the porch on a lovely morning. The kitties have not found the porch to be quite as inviting as Zip Drive so it’s nice spot for him to get away from them.

May 19, 2011

Trying to learn something new
last update: 05/19 @ 23:05

No cute kitties or kids here, just geek speak, feel free to skip this.

I finally decided I couldn’t keep up with the 6 month new release, 13 month support schedule of Fedora. Way back when I did my server upgrade (about 2 years ago), I planned to install CentOS on the servers, but when I actually started working on them, I just loaded the same Fedora I had on my desktop. I’ve finally corrected that (I think mistake) and have CentOS on both my servers. Here’s a bit of trivia from the process:

By way of background: I have a CentOS PC in my office connected to a DSL modem. After upgrading to 5.6, it no longer talked to the modem — it did talk to the switch in the closet on my floor so I talked Verizon into sending me a new modem. When the new modem didn’t work any better, I booted into the old, 5.5 kernel and that worked fine. Not quite what I wanted, but I didn’t want to spend any more time troubleshooting.

So going into the 5.6 install at home (with a similar DSL modem), I was a little worried about losing my Internet connection.

At about 11:00am I started with trying to install from the CentOS DVD I had downloaded and burned. The SHA1 checksum of the download matched and the disk check part of the install went fine. Unfortunately, the actual install bombed out. No problem, I remembered similar problems with the 5.5 install on my other server. So I dropped back to the 5.6 LiveCD — again the SHA1 checksum and disk check went OK but the install bombed. Not a big deal, only 11:43am by the time I went for the network install CD (checksum and disk check OK).

That was looking fine (thank you Georgetown for the local mirror) until after the stage two kernel was downloaded, partitioning all set and partitions formatted. At the stage when it starts to pull down the packages to install (after pulling down the kernel and the installation packages fine) it bombed. Of course that’s where the message says, “this may take several minutes.” After deciding 30 was more than several, I presumed it was the 5.6 / DSL modem problem and moved on to a network install of CentOS 5.5. About the same time I also remembered one reason for my new Nexus S phone and fired up a local hotspot for my laptop. The Georgetown server was responding fine, even though I kept running into that problem at the same spot in the install (I did try more than once).

When the 5.5 install hung at the same screen, I first thought, “maybe 30 minutes isn’t too many to be several” and I was just being too impatient. Then I fired up Wireshark to check the network traffic on the switch and prove to myself that the switch was OK and I could use the DSL modem with my laptop. All I was seeing was ARP traffic — not a good sign. (Later, I decided my little Dell switch really is a switch and I didn’t see any of the IP traffic because the switch knew not to send it to my laptop’s port.)

It was about 2:00pm, as I was still scratching my head, that I started to give much more serious thought to Ubuntu (I’m running that on my laptop and Robert’s PC; it seems less painful to update and support for the LTS edition is long enough to stay off the frequent upgrade bus). But I really feel more comfortable with SELinux as delivered with RedHat (and hence CentOS) and more familiar with the RedHat way of doing things.

After a break to spend some time with the long suffering family, back to the fight: I thought about trying to run Wireshark on the server in order to see better what was going on with the network — but of course, I didn’t have enough of an OS to actually boot the machine. The answer was this: mount the files from CentOS 5.6 DVD on my internal server and do the network install pointed locally rather than at the nice folks at Georgetown. Two benefits: One it was much faster across the 100Mbs switch than the DSL connection. Two it worked; that was the clincher.

And giving it more thought as the install progressed (and using my laptop through the Nexus S’s hotspot for research), I hit upon the problem: the network stack in the newer kernels were not properly auto-dectecting the 10Mbs DSL connection from the 1Gbs network card. After the install I turned off auto negotiate, set the card to 10Mbs and it connected fine. Actually, before I went down the 5.6 local network install path, I did some testing with an extra NIC card in my internal server. It was running 5.6 and worked so I was pretty sure if I could get 5.6 installed, I could get networking to work for me.

After figuring how how to actually get the OS installed, it was only about 4 hours to install, update and get most of the configuration done (of course, with all the unproductive preamble, it was about 3:30am by then). There were a couple final clean up steps and I ended up wanting to tune logwatch a bit to get a little more detail on sendmail (BTW: Logwatch with Detail set to 5 generated about a 23MB report of one day’s activity. Much better to set Detail just for sendmail to 5 and leave overall Detail at 0 or 1.)

So some keywords that I searched on without luck in case someone else is in a similar boat: centos westell 6100 verizon linux networking 5.6. (I guess you can tell my DSL modem is a Westell 6100 on a Verizon DSL line — default password has been changed, by the way.)

PS: The same force-10Mbs-connection trick worked in my office as well; I’m running the current kernel there now too.

May 12, 2011

Cute Kitties
last update: 05/12 @ 21:29
I carried them down to the kitchen for a final dinner of the evening and after they were through, I carried them back up. Not that they have trouble with the stairs, but I didn’t want to leave the extra food out, and after carrying them down, I felt it was only fair to carry them back up.

10 minutes later, there they were back in the kitchen keeping me company. And 5 minutes after that, asleep on the chair.

I’ve got to get a nice photo of Zip Drive to put here so he’s not too jealous. That’s Panzer on the left — a few minutes after this picture he was sitting up, then his eyes closed and he waved a little bit and I thought he was going to fall over asleep, but he stretched himself back out. And on the right is Pinker — she’s just been asleep.

Tee Ball
last update: 05/12 @ 17:33
Robert had a Tee Ball game last night: the Timber Rattlers (his current team) played the Intimidators (his team last year). This was an especially fun game because Sarah’s brother, David happened to be in town. He had fun watching, Robert had great time playing catch with him and then David Z., Sarah and I headed out to an early B-day dinner for Sarah. It was a great evening.

May 08, 2011

Busy Mother’s Day
last update: 05/08 @ 21:58
After the Battleship round this morning, we picked up lunch and headed back to Fort Washington. We thought it was pretty cool a couple week ago when we finally took the time to find the place we’d seen from Mount Vernon and Fort Hunt.

But this time, we did it the way Sarah really wanted to: storming the fort from the river. (You can just see the lighthouse in this photo—the fort is above and to the right of the lighthouse.)

We spent a little bit of time driving up and down the GW Parkway looking for a likely spot before getting to Sheridan Point. Which was a little disconcerting since we couldn’t see Fort Washington from there. But after looking at maps and plotting a bit, we realized it was just behind the trees…

Not long after we started paddling, we spied the fort and set our sights on her. Actually, on the lighthouse at the Potomac’s edge.

After a couple minutes gauging the speed of the motorized, and much larger, boat traffic (and talking a little bit about Huck Finn), we crossed the channel in a very light rain—which was perfect for hiding our approach from the defenders. (That’s Sheridan Point behind Sarah’s left shoulder.)

After a brief stop for lunch—it’s hard work paddling across the Potomac—we stormed the fort.

The first door we tried was still locked tight. But the main entrance was open (they must not have suspected we’d try a sneak attack). It was a lot of fun to check out the cannon emplacements and jail cells. And the weather turned glorious. (That’s the Woodrow Wilson bridge you can almost see spanning the Potomac.)

After crossing back to our side of the river, we checked on the kittens before heading out to La Strada for a nice Mother’s Day dinner.

Happy Mother’s Day
last update: 05/08 @ 08:42
Robert—er, Sarah really wanted Battleship for Mother’s Day. And imagine that, it showed up right on time. I’m not sure what else we’ll be doing today; clearly there will be some kitten playing as well.

May 07, 2011

Introducing Panzer
last update: 05/07 @ 18:51
Robert named him Panzer because he’s a boy and he couldn’t name a boy kitten “Pinker.” There are sure to be more photos of the new additions to the family

Introducing Pinker
last update: 05/07 @ 18:49
As promised, more kitty pictures. This is Pinker, so named by Robert because he likes pink and adds “er” to his pet names (the caterpillar he found became fuzzer).

Class Trip to West Virginia
last update: 05/07 @ 18:46
Before the excitement of bringing home the kittens, Robert and I were with his class at the “Cove” in West Virginia. Sarah lost the coin toss so she didn’t get to see this expression or hear his laugh when he was newt tickled. More photos in the vactaion section.

last update: 05/07 @ 18:12
Pinker and Panzer have arrived. The new kittens came home this afternoon; there was just a little bit of hissing with Zip Drive. We’re hoping that they will all become friends in a week or two.

For now, Robert is reading them a bedtime story while they nap in the new kitty condo. Zip Drive is no where to been seen. They’ll have seperate rooms for a while yet.

There may be a few cute kitten photos here over the next couple of weeks…

May 04, 2011

Double Rainbow
last update: 05/04 @ 20:55
Robert and I are leaving Sarah to slave away here while we join his class in an overnight trip to West Virginia. The teacher just sent a WARNING!!! It’s Gonna Be Cold note. Hard to believe it could be anything other than great after seeing this double rainbow on the way home tonight.

The rainbow ending at the Hilton explains why Uncle David (Sarah’s brother) tends to stay there rather than the Embassy Suites… Maybe we’ll have to go look for that pot of gold.

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