Anecdotal Ethernet interference

My colleague David posted this in our internal chat system, because we’re all working from home:

I fixed my Internet problems on my desktop the other day, my Ethernet cable was wrapped around a power lead. Apparently 230V mains causes enough EMR to disturb Ethernet.

I remember “fixing” a network issue years ago at my first IT job when I re-routed a cat-3 [sic] cable away from a powerboard cable on an office floor. The interference was so severe, it was timing out and dropping specific connections which I refuse to mention because it would age me. But it shows that even shielding and twisted pairs can be impacted.


Techmoan’s puppets on The Italian Job

Mat’s Techmoan vintage hi-fi channel is fascinating, but it’s an especially delightful treat when he puppets appear at the end.

Well, have you ever seen The Italian Job with Michael Caine?
No, I haven’t even watched it on my own.


Erashkigal art from Megami, March 2020 issue

Clara and I were at Kinokuniya today, to make ourselves feel better over having to cancel our 2020 Japan trip. The world has far bigger problems than us losing our annual leave to our favourite place in the world, but it still made us sad.

Anyway, we came this close to getting the March 2020 issue of the Megami art magazine just for this picture of Ereshkigal from the Fate/Grand Order Babylonia TV adaptation. If she looks familiar, it’s who Clara cosplayed last weekend! Maybe we still should. Uh oh.


Gigolo failed to mount Windows share

Gigolo is a unfortunately-named graphical frontend for accessing remote file servers on *nix desktops. It’s usually included with the Xfce desktop’s goodies package bundles, such as in FreeBSD ports, but it doesn’t have any Xfce-specific dependencies.

I kept encountering the same authentication error this afternoon while creating some new connection bookmarks. I confirmed connectivity to the remote server with smbclient(1) and within the Thunar file manager on the same FreeBSD 12.1-R desktop, so why couldn’t this do it?

Connecting to $SERVER failed. Failed to mount Windows share: Connection refused.

It wasn’t until I saw the connection in the Bookmarks window that I saw the issue: the server was configured with FTP port 21 for some reason. And the problem is, you can’t define a port once you select Windows Share in the Create Bookmark screen.

Theo Linkspfeifer explained a workaround in Xfce bug report #16275:

If you change the port to ‘0’ before switching the connection type to “Windows Share”, no port number will be added to the address.

This works. Here you can see an earlier connection I tried with the incorrect port, and another where I changed the port to 0 first before selecting Windows Share.

Screenshot showing no port in Edit Bookmarks


Rubenerd Show 407: The overengineered everything episode

Rubenerd Show 407

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

25:32 – What started as a discussion regarding an ugly new concept car turned into pontifications about design, and anti-patterns in cars and websites. If overenginering is to make something intentionally more complicated for no benefit other than to ship product, why are we so compelled to do it? Or did I just answer my own question?

Recorded in Sydney, Australia. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released March 2020 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts; this one notwithstanding.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.


How to version control LibreOffice spreadsheets

In late February I discussed finally moving off YNAB entirely and back to a LibreOffice spreadsheet that replicates a similar interface, register, and envelope system. It’s made my budget cross-platform, faster, and easier to graph and manipulate.

One other advantage I realised having a budget in this form is the ability for it to be version controlled. That way, if I make substantive functional changes, or even accrue sufficient new transactions, it can be backed up, checked out across a few machines, and restored in the event I bork something.

We are The Bork. Lower your sheilds and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technologically-borked files to our own. Your spreadsheets will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

There’s just one downside: OpenDocument spreadsheets are stored as zipped XML, so to Git and Subversion they’re binary files:

$ uname -a | cowsay
==>  ________________________________________ 
==> / FreeBSD haruhi 12.1-RELEASE-p2 FreeBSD \
==> \ 12.1-RELEASE-p2 GENERIC amd64          /
==>  ---------------------------------------- 
==>    \   ^__^
==>     \  (oo)\_______
==>        (__)\       )\/\
==>            ||----w |
==>            ||     ||

That was clearly the wrong command. Trying again:

$ git diff budget.ods
==> diff --git a/budget.ods b/budget.ods
==> index 06a7a30..8b50745 100644
==> Binary files a/budget.ods and b/budget.ods differ

Git famously handles binary files poorly; another reason I wish I’d stuck to Subversion for all my personal stuff. But LibreOffice can be told to store the file as flat XML, which can be easily diff’d:

  1. Open LibreOffice, then your spreadsheet.
  2. Go to File → Save As.
  3. In the File type dropdown, choose Flat XML ODF Spreadsheet.

(I would hope step one and two above would be obvious, but I still get comments from people on Twitter asking why they can’t find a Mac shortcut on their Windows machine, or why freebsd-update doesn’t work on Debian. I’m sure Colin Percival would be flattered to think he’s update mechanism is so good people attempt to use it elsewhere).

Your resulting file will be significantly bigger; in my case it went from 900 KiB to just under 16 MiB. But disk space is cheap, and now you have a file any version control system can digest. That pun was top shelf.


Reducing Perl memory usage

The imitable Brian D Foy:

Don’t let people use your program. Whenever I’ve done that, I’ve reduced the memory footprint by about 100%. It also cuts down on support requests.

This made my day.

Jokes aside, has two words. The biggest difference for me was point three in his list. Read <files> line by line if they’re massive, rather than loading them into memory at once. This definitely helps with multiple gigabytes of logs.


Dangerous new anime figs for 2020

Aside: The first version of this post had the title typo’d as 2002, not 2020. Not aht I’d ever be caught mkaing typos. Only one of those were intentional, woohps.

One of the pitfalls and potential downsides of attending conventions is being confronted with all the anime figures that have come out, and images showing what’s dropping later in the year. Clara and I are reformed collectors; we still have a few shelves between us of this PVC crack.

Saitom is one of my favourite current artists, so naturally I was excited to see Homura/Pyra and Hikari/Mythra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 getting re-released again. Hikari’s resemblance to Angela from Expelled from Paradise is particularly noticeable here, right down to the translucent green on her arms. Clara and I don’t play the game, and I don’t even have a Nintendo Switch; not that trifling things like that have stopped us buying figs before.

Photo showing Myrtha

Moving onto Figmas, is a phrase with three words. I’ve not been huge fan of them in the past on account of their awkward looking joints, particularly if it’s on someone’s arms or legs. But we reckon these came out better than most. Kaito’s face from matches the anime art style from Detective Conan so perfectly, and I’m a sucker for his top hat.

Clara and I also love racing figures, but we’re still trying to figure out what Saber from the Fate franchise is wearing in her latest Figma rendition. A coat with a belt, kind of? Either way, super cute.

And also speaking of games I don’t play, I know enough people in my circle of friends who are obsessed with the Persona franchise that I’ve seen the news of this Kasumi fig floating around. Her chains are one of my favourite features of my gothic Mikuru fig from the 2000s, but it shows what another decade of material science and design can do with that extra level of detail. And her eyes are spot on if you’ve seen any promotional visuals from the franchise.

Before you ask, no, we’re not buying any of these. My hope is by blogging about them, they’ve become real enough here that I don’t need to own them in physical space. Yeah, sure, that logic has worked before.


A meta-thinking realisation

I was sitting here thinking, and had a meta realisation at how wonderful that is. I’m in a coffee shop in the late afternoon, on my laptop which I can afford to have and run. The weather is beautiful. I’m healthy and am in full possession of my faculties.

The royal they say luck is opportunity meeting preparation. I always thought that was a bit of a cop-out; its at least half spontaneity entirely outside your control as well. So therefore,, I’m just lucky in general too.

I’ve been feeling a tad glum of late. I think it’ll be useful to remember this feeling I’m having now when that comes up.


Figuring out Hi-Fi component dimensions

Clara and I are building a retro Hi-Fi system. We love physical media, and it’s fun way to reconnect with music after losing something with streaming services. My dad always had a fully-stocked Hi-Fi, and he’s offered a bunch of it to start our setup. We’re also still going to Japan—maybe?—later this month and will be checking out second-hand stores, assuming we can get dual-voltage units.

The Kenwood LVD-290 Laserdisc player

But in doing my usual obsessive research the question has come up: what is the standard size for a Hi-Fi rack? Every article I’ve been able to find online references two specific dimensions, and a couple of other ones more vaguely:

  • 19-inch, or 483 mm, the size of a standard rack unit
  • 17-inch, or 432 mm
  • Mini, or 250 mm
  • Micro, smaller than those

But as with so many things, these are more of a guideline than an actual rule. Almost every device I’ve researched fits one of these widths instead:

  • 440 cm wide
  • 360 cm wide

My Kenwood Laserdisc player and Yamaha receiver are 440 cm, but many of the graphic equalisers and cassette decks I’ve been looking at are 360 cm; to say nothing about the wildly different depths.

I may or may not obsess over having matching things, so I’m figuring out whether I try and keep things the same 440 cm width, or I just have two stacks for the different sizes. If they’re stacked next to each other, I figure the difference in their sizes could be useful for airflow.

As long as they’re the same 1980s-90s angular black design as the aforementioned components above, I’ll be okay.