July 30, 2013 by Steven D. Brewer
I've been feeling fragmented with lots of everyday things keeping me busy. Here's a brief update about several of them.
Rules committee meeting today -- with "confidential materials" distributed in advance. Nothing seemed that confidential, but it's clear that the chancellor is feeling his way toward a more open, transparent administration. It's pretty new for everyone on the campus, but very welcome. I really think we're moving in the right direction.
Last week, Alisa and I went to Table & Vine -- a giant wine/liquor store in West Springfield. We walked around and looked at all the cool, diverse stuff… And then mostly bought the same stuff we would buy at our local liquor store. There was a woman there giving samples of Drambuie. I hadn't tasted it before (except maybe in little chocolate candies or something), but found it to be tasty and fragrant, rather like Poire William or Belle de Brillet -- but less pear flavored. The lady giving the samples also had some little tchotchkes as giveaways -- a little flask, some little glasses, some keychains. I got Alisa to try it too and persuaded her that we should get a bottle. The woman was showing Alisa the various bits of loot and Alisa thought she was going to have to choose, but then she gave her a bag with everything: two little flasks, two glasses, and two keychains. As if we need more stuff in the house.
When I first set up polaris (now my home server) with the kids at North Star, I wasn't sure which ubuntu to install. It comes in two flavors: 32-bit and 64-bit. Since I wasn't sure, I made installers for each one and figured we'd try 64 and if that didn't work, fall back to 32. As it turned out, I couldn't attend that day and the kids ended up installing the 32-bit one. For what we were doing at the time, it didn't really make much difference. But when I was going to tune mysql, I found that, having installed 8gb of RAM, it pointed out that with a 32bit operating system I couldn't use more than 4GB of it. So, to make a long story short, I spent a couple of hours today and re-installed 64bit ubuntu. I found that I could install ubuntu "along" my previous install (on a new partition). Then I reorganized the files on the original root partition to make it into my home directory and remounted it under my home directory in the new install. That's two hours of my life I'll never get back. But probably worth the investment of time.
Speaking of such things, I've spent too many hours at work recompiling PHP. Again. (I would hate to think how much of my life has been waiting for operating systems to boot and software to recompile.) And, of course, it couldn't just work -- It's Solaris! I compiled it and it would just segfault with a bus error. Both 5.5 and 5.4 had the same problem. So I got the most recent 5.3 and it did too. I tried various things and eventually think I narrowed it down to mcrypt. After I removed the --with-mcrypt, I was able to compile a 5.3 that will run without dumping core. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can get a 5.4 that works too. It turns out that 5.5 doesn't support --with-mysql anymore, which will break too much old stuff on this server.
On the plus side, I have finished my first draft of compositing senokulvitre (my next book of haiku). I'm still tweaking things and now I have to work on the cover. But it's coming together nicely. Before the end of August, it should be available. It's always fun to make stuff.
It's a wonderful time to be alive with so many awesome webcomics to read. Corporations tend to focus-group everything to death, which tends to bring everything weird back within some safe boundary. The kind of off-beat creativity an individual artist can bring to their work when they're not limited by corporate beancounters is delightful and refreshing. Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks can do amazing stuff -- higher quality than an artist could do by themselves. But they'll never match the originality and quirk that a solo artist can achieve on their own without the limits set by corporate overlords.