Back at a Dôme

Last week a colleague and I were flying around Australia to speak at the WatchGuard roadshows. Our last day was in Perth, on Australia’s west coast.

Perth is an interesting place. Technically you’re closer to the Indonesian capital Jakarta than you are to Canberra there. If you look at a map of Australia, almost all the major cities are on the other side of the continent, so you really feel as though you’re in the middle of nowhere.

(A West Australian client told us the Brisbane to Perth trip is the longest non-stop domestic flight in the world. I don’t think that’s true; I’d assume Hawaii to the continental US would be longer, or between Moscow and Vladivostok. But it’s definitely a long flight!)

Perth holds special significance to Singaporeans because it’s relatively close, it shares the UTC+08:00 timezone, and has Australian universities which a decent number of international students attend. The other, perhaps less publicised reason, is the existence of the Dôme coffee chain everywhere in the state.

Before Starbucks or even Coffee Bean got a foothold in Singapore in the 1990s, Domes were everywhere. My personal favourite was the Olio Dôme in the late Park Mall. All their chains have a small dome in the ceiling, but that one was especially impressive.

So it was delightful to leave the hotel bleary-eyed the following Saturday and seeing a welcoming Dôme on the ground floor of a glass tower. Perth’s coffee drinkers likely consider it old-hat; I’m sure their hipsters whinge about them too. But it was a fun nostalgia trip, and the food was pretty good.


Cleaning compromised servers

I work at a cloud infrastructure company with immediate level 3 phone and email support; we’ll even make Slack channels or whatever else. I know, it’s shocking such a thing exists!

This is one of the most common questions my colleagues get asked, how do I clean compromised servers? I’m tempted just to get them to refer to this cPanel article:

When a root account is compromised, users often ask how they can “clean” their server. To put it as succinctly as possible: without knowing every action that has ever taken place on a server, it is impossible to prove that the server is completely clean. While it is simple to show a compromised server, showing the opposite, for all intents and purposes, is not.

Even my honeypots get blown away and rebuilt rather than cleaned. Worries aside, rebuilds are just easier to do, especially if you use something like Ansible and have proper backups.

Bidding salamat tinggal to the Q on Harris

It’s a weird, bittersweet moment this morning. I’m a morning person, so for the last two years I’ve been coming to this coffee shop across the road from our office for coffee, reading news, blogging, SSHing, and checking my calendars to prepare for the day. Chances are much of what you’re read here for a while has been written over a batch brew here.

Our office is moving to a awesome new terrace-style building in another part of town, because we’re sick of being in a corporate, open plan office. And so ends this morning ritual.

The staff are lovely, the coffee is among the best in Sydney, and I love the surroundings. Please do pay them a visit if you’re in Ultimo or surrounds; they’re across the street from the Powerhouse Museum. Try and get there on Tuesdays if you want to see and smell their roasting machine.


Japanese tourism

A decade ago today I quoted a FinanceAsia article—which of course now 404s—suggesting fans of Japanese pop culture were still spending despite the economic downturn:

“Forget the usual business jargon about the four Ps (positioning, price, etc). Here it’s about the three Cs, namely community, collection and creativity. Despite all the economic bad news, shops are still opening in Akihabara and people are still spending, even if they are not very well off,” says Fong.

It reminded me of this article in the Nikkei Asian Review this month, commenting that tourism in Japan is booming, emphasis added:

Analysis has found that, while visitors to Japan from abroad are spread through the country, their spending is concentrated in Tokyo.

In the first half of 2019, 16.63 million people visited Japan from abroad, up 4.6% from a year earlier, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Despite a slowdown in the rate of growth, the number represents an all-time high for the January-June period.

To which Clara and I would say: don’t blame us! We’ve been to Tokyo twice for AsiaBSDCon, but the Kansai region is by far our favourite part of Japan. Even when we were in Tokyo last time we took time to head back to Osaka and Kyoto, not least so we could travel on our beloved maroon Hankyu trains again.


GCC being removed from FreeBSD 13 base

Warner Losh posted on the FreeBSD architectures mailing list back on the 13th, a date I’m sure was entirely coincidental:

As promised for almost the past decade or so, gcc 4.2.1 will be removed from the tree before FreeBSD 13 is branched. […]

The timeline gives powerpc, mips, mips64, and sparc64 9 months to integrate either into an in-tree compiler, or to have a proven external toolchain solution. This is on top of the many-years-long warnings about this being the end game of the clang integration.

I’m glad to see this finally happening.

The GNU Compiler Collection was licenced under the GPLv2 up to 4.2.1 in 2007. The FreeBSD maintainers had reasonable concerns with the GPLv3, which precluded them from using anything newer. From FreeBSD 10, base is built with clang/LLVM, which distributed under a freer/BSD-friendly licence.

Colin Bass: Return to Earth

It’s Music Monday time once again. Today we have the first song on Colin Bass’s beautiful 2015 album At Wild End.

Play Return to Earth on SoundCloud

If you could go and change what you regret
Would you still be who you are?
Or someone else instead?

It’s a good question; I’d like to think I’d largely be the same. Or would I be? Wasn’t it B.J. Neblett who said we are the sum total of our experiences? I feel this is a topic worthy of its own post and reflection.

I’ll always know Colin Bass by his alternate stage name Sabah Habas Mustapha, for his Denpasar Moon album. The bulk of my sister’s and my childhood soundtrack consisted of that and the Michael Franks discography. Forgive me for use of the term, but juxtiposing that dulcet Indonesian instrumentation with Colin sitting in rural northern Wales years later made me smile.

I haven’t blogged nearly enough about his music. I will correct this.


Anime I hate, love, find overrated, etc

Via @BADCATBAD_ on Twitter:

  • Anime I hate: None really, at best I’m indifferent. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, one of the first series I ever watched, had an infuriating ending though!

  • Anime I think is overrated: None really, see above. That said, I thought I’d enjoy One Piece more given how popular it is. I found Fairy Tail way more fun. I’d better not let my friend circle know.

  • Anime I think is underrated: SKET Dance. It’s one of the all time greats, but will always live under Gintama’s albeit fabulous shadow.

  • Anime I love: Suzumiya Haruhi. It was my favourite till recently, perhaps at least in part due to nostalgia and the impact it had on me in the mid-2000s.

  • Anime I secretly love: Clannad, perhaps not so secretly. Air was a bit much though.

  • Favorite anime of all time: Barakamon, didn’t even need to think twice. Everything else about why I love it aside, it’s about a gentleman rekindling joy for his craft in beautiful new surroundings having living under pressure, which I can appreciate right now.

Under pressure, dun-dun-dun da-da dun-dun. ♫


Some more jot numbers

I talked about BSD jot for generating pseudo-random numbers in a pinch four years ago. To generate a number from 5 to 100, for example:

$ jot -r 1 5 100

I quoted integers last time. Here are another ten more numbers, using the -s argument for defining precision:

==> 7.7 18.9 71.7 36.6 52.4 90.9 39.8 29.9 6.2 91.0

Fun fact, two of those numbers contained seven. Refer to my January post for examples of numbers that don’t.

Sometimes I worry my weblog might be too useful.

Doug DeMuro on multiple dead-ends

From his 2018 Lincoln Navigator review. I’m not a car owner, know little about cars, but Doug is a treasure.

Maybe if you're stuck in one of those suburban neighbourhoods with a lot of cul-de-sacs.


More sun, less grass

What’s a blog but a selfish discussion of one’s interests? And what could be more interesting than reading about one’s preoccupation with health, right? I need a skip button for individual posts.

I’ve been worried for a few months with recurring headaches, so finally I had a blood test last week. Bluntly, could describe a pencil. But also, I was terrified. The good news is, my blood is excellent! All the markers and other medical sounding stuff that goes over my head, all look good. Only two caveats:

  1. The pathology lab defined <20 nmol/L as “severly deficient” for vitamin D, and I’m not that much higher! Even though I liked to think I get plenty of outdoor exercise and sunlight, with my occupation and interests I wasn’t surprised.

  2. An alergy test defined me as “highly” reative to grass? Specifically, Bermuda, Perennial Rye, Kentucky Blue, Bahia and Johnson. Those sound more like food and music than grass. It explains why I’ve felt like I’m always starting to get a cold, but that I seem to keep it at bay.

So I’ve been directed to get out more, exercise in sunlight, but avoid grass seeding seasons. I’ve moved my office desk to be by the window, and am taking a longer walk to work in sunlight rather than taking the Tunnel of Doom near Central in Sydney.

The good news is, I now have a perfect excuse for not helping people mow their lawns. Not that I’ve ever needed one, but always good to have an arrow in the quiver. Gee I’d love to help out, but you don’t have enough antihistamines and tissue boxes!