Wednesday Mar 23, 2011

This blog has moved

This blog has moved to

Monday Apr 20, 2009

Off to Newcastle for the mash up

This is worse than being on a mobile, but I'm on the train o.k.?

Tomorrow I will be a the System Admin Mash up event at Newcastle. If you are going to be there I suggest you don't bother asking us about Sun/Oracle and instead go straight to then you will know as much as us.

Saturday Feb 07, 2009

You can't put it back in the box.

It seems the clever Lawyers at LBC have not really paid attention to how the web works. Specifically "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.". This post is part of that routing.

The Bad Science blog from Dr Ben Goldacre took justified issue with a rant from Jennie Barnett about the "dangers" of the MMR vacine and in doing so included the audio clip of her ravings. Now rather than being pleased that increased publicity would result so that more people would listen to her radio show in the future they decided that Ben was in breach of copyright and set the Lawyers on him. I can understand them not wanting her ravings heard but the better way would be to stop her talking about things she knows nothing about but that would make for a much shorter show.

So you can no longer listen to the clip unless you look here, or here, or listen to it and read a transcript here. And what ever you do don't type "Jeni Barnett censorship" into google!

Sunday Feb 01, 2009

Blog Comments broken

The spam detection on the blog comments on this blog seems to have done a google and is marking all comments as spam which requires me to approve them all, even my own!

Unless the comments are obviously spam, really offensive or duplicates. I will approve them even if I disagree.

Friday Oct 24, 2008

Pay as you go Chat room

Over £100,000 raised in four days in what appears to be the internet's first pay as you go chat room. Look at the comments with the donations.

At least at £2 a pop it would keep the spammers and trolls down or at least down to people with serious amounts of cash and even then the cash is going to a good IMO cause.

Thursday Oct 02, 2008

Blogs, wikis and email for announcements

I've been having a conversation with some colleagues about how to communicate announcements within Sun and rather than do this via email I thought I would go a bit off topic for this blog and post it here.

Why I think a blog is a good place to put announcements.


Email provides a fantastic one to one or one to many communication medium but only if the “many” are all known to you. Sending out large announcements via email is likely to cause large numbers of the potential audience to ignore you. If you want this sort of broadcast medium I would suggest a blog.


Blogs being largely write once and then read only are a great way to put out announcements so that they can be subscribed to by users using the blog's RSS feed and consumed either by a blog reader or even by thunderbird so that they look like emails. Or you can read them directly via the web or via a blog reading web site like They will get indexed via search engines and so can be found by occasional readers while at the same time those who want to can subscribe to them to get the latest news or views when they are posted.


There are wikis and there are wikis so to some degree the question as to when they are good and bad depends on the wiki. However I've not found a wiki yet that has a really good RSS feed for handling announcements. They are great for cooperative working or for community documentation (eg wikipedia) but for announcements they lack concise RSS feeds or notification methods that don't either suffer from too much noise (changing a single typo results in the entire page being in the RSS feed) or don't send enough updates (the feed is per page so having an announcement per page does not produce a good stream of announcements). Some wikis allow you to build complex RSS feeds based on search criteria that may allow a feed to be built but this is really for a power user and so I've not found it suitable for announcements.

Thursday Aug 28, 2008

Consitent but not accurate

As I wrote previously I have three kitchen appliances with clocks on them and being that kind of person I have to have the clocks in sync to the second. Yesterday I had reason to reset the clock of one as it had been powered off so I set it according to the clock on the Sun Ray photo frame which, thanks to ntp is correct. Once this was done I noticed the other two appliances are running 10 seconds slow.

What I find odd is that all three appliances have stayed in perfect sync for 6 months but have lost exactly the same amount of time.

Like I said previously they need to be on the net.

Monday Jun 16, 2008

Camp Dads 2008

Not wanting to break with tradition this weekend, being the weekend of Father's Day meant “Camp Dads”. A smaller number of campers but no less enjoyable weekend. Seven Dads, thirteen children and what turned out to be an overly pessimistic weather forecast. The smaller group worked really well as the children were more likely to play as one group.

Apologies to the man on the beach who was hit by the ball (one of the children seemed to have a knack of hitting or throwing the ball at people by accident). Thanks to the family who decided not to pitch their tent in the middle of the “rounders field”.

We followed the now traditional format of on Saturday, Beach and then back to the Camp Site for take away Curry. Then on Sunday strike camp and into the forest to find a stream and have a picnic before we all returned home very tired.

Saturday Apr 26, 2008

Strange Rumours

Now the builders have gone my hifi, with it's turntable are back. Our record collection is now an combination of four separate collections as my sister and husband was kind enough to give me theirs when they no longer had a record player. So I have been going through the duplicate albums of which the most interesting is Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.

The reason for it being interesting is not that is was and still is an excellent album or that it is one of the very few records that I now have four copies of. The interesting thing is one of those copies is different.

Side two is missing the track ¨You make loving fun¨. Instead it is replaced with ¨Songbird¨ which is then repeated on Side 2. Meanwhile the track listing in the centre of Side A is claims the last track should be ¨You make loving fun¨ while the disk contains ¨Songbird¨. The pressing claims to be "R/S Alsdorf 56344 A2". The other copies two are "56344 A" and one "56345 A4".

Here is a track listing

Normal tracks

Actual Listing on the record (56344 A2)

Actual tracks on the record (56344 A2)

Side 1

Side 1

Side 1

Second Hand News

Second Hand News

Second Hand News




Never going to say good by

Never going to say good by

Never going to say good by

Don´t Stop

Don´t Stop

Don´t Stop

Go your own Way

Go your own Way

Go your own Way


You Make Loving Fun


Side 2

Side 2

Side 2

The Chain

The Chain

The Chain

You Make Loving Fun



I don´t want to know

I don´t want to know

I don´t want to know

Oh daddy

Oh daddy

Oh daddy

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman

I wonder if this is a forgery or a mistake?

I'm surprised that google has not found me the answer. So if you have a Rumours LP what tracks does it contain?

Sunday Apr 06, 2008

Gerhard's Law

If you place an order on an internet shop for something you need and then too reduce the shipping costs add to that order something you want, the thing you want will arrive before the thing you need.

The thing you need will arrive after you really first needed it.

Monday Mar 24, 2008

Blown Fuses

My son got an electronics kit for his birthday that includes a 2A fuse to protect the various components from the 2 AA batteries. Needless to say he managed to blow the fuse pretty quickly and the spare not long after that. I pondered whether I should teach him about tin foil since this is just 3V and poses no real danger but thought it would be a poor thing to teach him until he understand more. I ordered lots of fuses but they have not arrived yet.

Alas he learned it all by himself that a safety pin is a perfect fit.

Friday Mar 07, 2008

How to eject a manager from a chat room

Pasting some output from a kmdb session seems to work (I've changed the name of the manager to protect their identity):

(09:10:03) ChrisGerhardX26033: [1]> $r
%g0 = 0x0000000000000000 %l0 = 0x000002a87de1e000
%g1 = 0x0000000000000004 %l1 = 0x0000000000000002
%g2 = 0x0000000000000000 %l2 = 0x0000000000002c08
%g3 = 0x0000000000644000 %l3 = 0x0000000000002000
%g4 = 0x000000000000092b %l4 = 0x0000000000000001
%g5 = 0x0000000000000923 %l5 = 0x00000300114861e0
%g6 = 0x000000000000001c %l6 = 0x0000000000000004
%g7 = 0x000003002de327a0 %l7 = 0x00000000012bf65c kcopy+0x1c

%o0 = 0x000003004cfa68c0 %i0 = 0xfffffff88a113240
%o1 = 0x0000000000000000 %i1 = 0x000002a87de1e40c
%o2 = 0x000003006c9cd0c0 %i2 = 0x0000000000000003
%o3 = 0x000003004cfa68c0 %i3 = 0x0000000000000000
%o4 = 0x0000000000000000 %i4 = 0x0000000000000000
%o5 = 0x0000000000000000 %i5 = 0x0000000000000000
%o6 = 0x000002a107f30461 %i6 = 0x000002a107f30621
%o7 = 0x00000000012296e4 fop_getpage+0x90 %i7 = 0x000000000115fc98 uiomove+0xbc

%ccr = 0x00 xcc=nzvc icc=nzvc
%fprs = 0x00 fef=0 du=0 dl=0
%asi = 0x00
%y = 0x0000000000000000
%pc = 0x00000000012bf780 kcopy+0x140
%npc = 0x00000000012bf784 kcopy+0x144
%sp = 0x000002a107f30461 unbiased=0x000002a107f30c60
%fp = 0x000002a107f30621

%tick = 0x000744f67fbad093
%tba = 0x0000000001000000
%tt = 0x17e
%tl = 0x0
%pil = 0x0
%pstate = 0x016 cle=0 tle=0 mm=TSO red=0 pef=1 am=0 priv=1 ie=1 ag=0

%cwp = 0x01 %cansave = 0x06
%canrestore = 0x00 %otherwin = 0x00
%wstate = 0x0e %cleanwin = 0x07

(09:10:28) pointy hair left the room.

Sunday Feb 24, 2008

Sworn to secrecy

All I will say is:

Fresh Eggs will be available in GMP after March 3rd.

I think you will agree this is excellent news.

Monday Jan 14, 2008

Dear google reader

If I have gone to the trouble of logging in then you know who I am and so can I please have the pages in my native tongue, English English, rather than the native tongue of the IP address from which I am connected. Which is this case is Spanish.

Also can someone tell me how to force google search to let me be English when travelling?

Wednesday Dec 19, 2007

Ethernet over Mains

Since the whole house is not wired with Cat 5 cable I have had to use Mains over ethernet to provide some networking. However after our building works the mains in our house is now split in two with two fuse boxes (containing circuit breakers and RCDs) which then have separate tails leading to the electricity board fuse.

1Needless to say the computer that drives the Sun Rays is on one mains fuse box and the Sun Ray in the kitchen is on the other.

You can see the effect of the extra hop in the screen shot. Rather than the maximum 85Mbps when the two mains bricks are on the same fuse box that reduces to a paltry 13 Mbps thanks to the hop to the Electricity board fuse and back. This explains why that Sun Ray photo frame sometimes looses connection with the server when updating the picture. The other Sun Ray in Sues Office works like a dream2.

Clearly using these to form a network between buildings would not fly. That does however not stop me from being paranoid enough to have blotted out the ethernet addresses and passwords from the screen shot.

I can see that if in the final network set up I have to have devices on both fuse boxes I will have to run them as separate networks which will cost me one extra mains over ethernet brick.

1Yes this is a windows only application. However I did grab this screen shot using a VNC session on Solaris.

2Except when the server will occasionly on booting negotiate the ethernet switch down to 100Mbs rarther than 1Gb at which point things are much more sluggish, so I have a cron job that checks the speed and warns me of this.

Sunday Dec 16, 2007

Happy Birthday

After reading in The Register that today would be the Sixtieth birthday of the Transistor, sharing my dad's birthday, I asked the family if they could guess what was invented this day. I gave three clues:

  1. It is probably one of the top ten most important inventions of all time1

  2. It was invented in the 20th Century

  3. We have millions of them in the house.

It was the third clue that made me write this. People are often saying that in the future we will have computers everywhere and I often find my self wondering if this is really true. However if 60 years ago, or even 30 years ago you had said that homes in the UK in 2007 would contain millions of transistors would you have thought that was as preposterous? I think I would.

1 I made this up on the spot but it can't be far off. My starting top ten would be: The wheel, the bicycle, the printing press, Railways, the light bulb, the telephone, the flushing toilet, the transistor, the aeroplane and radio. I think I could be persuaded that the computer should be on the list but it can't be higher than the transistor since it needs the transistor to be practical. In the same way you can't have the bicycle without having the wheel.

Monday Dec 10, 2007

dial in or dial out

Being in a Geographically diverse team conference calls are a necessary evil to keep some connection with the rest of the team. Of the many1 irritations of the conference call the one that seems hardest to solve is people turning up late. However I'm now wondering whether we could not handle them better by calling the participants rather than having them call in. At least that way there would be a chance of the calls starting on time. Since our current conference call provider has a nice gui that allows this ( I will give this a try to see if it improves things.

1The many would include but not be limited to: Not having an agenda, having managers trying to solve engineering problems, having to attend to give the same update that was in your email when this is a hot problem and while you are on the call you are not solving it, not having an end time, not having an IM back channel, people not concentrating on the call (doing email), people on the call when they need not be, not using the mute button (again the nice gui can solve this) not being able to warp time such that it is not a ridiculous time of day for someone. Apart from that they are great.

Thursday Nov 29, 2007

A380 what A380

I have a friend, well colleague, well acquaintance who I met again this week in Kuala Lumpur (KL to the locals). I had flown from London he had flown from Australia, via Singapore.

I was absolutely staggered when he said he had flown to Singapore on an A380 and only noticed as he got off. Quite how you can not notice being on a double decker plane is beyond me. Clearly he did not even bother reading the safety card. At times like this I understand why he moved into management. No engineer could have missed that.

If only they flew to London.

Tuesday Nov 27, 2007

Trapped in an airport

The bad news is your flight is delayed 2 hours.

The good news is there is free WiFi in the airport.

The bad news is that the battery on you laptop is only good for 1 hour.

So that is one vote for KLIA.

Update: perhaps not a vote for KLIA after all. As you would expect from free Wifi the service is less than perfect however the most irritating thing is it appears to be blocking a number of port including IMAP so I can't even read my email, much less send the presentation to those who are on the call at 9am tomorrow.

Friday Nov 23, 2007

Travelling by Tube will never be the same

I had to go and visit a customer today which meant a trip on the Tube. When I got to the station I had to buy two newspapers. Two because my son had a “compare and contrast” two newspapers homework. So I bought The Guardian and a copy of The Sun.

So obviously on my journey I read The Guardian and put the copy of The Sun in my bag.

Then when I get on the Tube and I hear the announcements, thanks to Alec, I sit there waiting for Emma, to say:

The passenger with the Sun Microsystems bag reading The Guardian, you are not fooling anyone. We all know you have The Sun in your bag and are off to ogle at page three later.

It's not true, honest, it is really just for my son's homework.

Travelling by tube will never quite be the same.


This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to


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