system admin log entries

When I’m doing maintenance on my computer systems, I sometimes find myself wondering what I was thinking when I made a configuration change, (un-)installed a package, etc. At one point, I attempted to keep a log in a text file that I could refer to later so that, in case there was an undesirable behavior observed, I could correlate the timing of the disturbance with intentional system changes. My attempt failed due, in part, to lack of discipline, but in many cases the changes I make are so incremental and sometimes arbitrary that it seems like overkill to record the change at all. The issue is really one of convenience though: If I got prompted to enter a message when I installed or removed packages, it would make it far more likely that the messages were actually recorded for my future self’s benefit. I think for the use-case of package management, at least, it should be simple to add hooks or wrappers on command line tools I already use for package management to issue a “log entry” prompt.

I should emphasize, that I’m not talking about a declarative configuration and change management system like with, say Ansible + Git . My system is, effectively, single-user and otherwise not volatile enough to justify such detailed records — a log in my own words generally describing what I did along with key details would suffice.

Teriyaki Flounder

Fillets of skinless flounder, a white meat, brown in some areas from the teriyaki sauce, overlaid with black flecks of pepper. Crowning the fish is a pile of golden-brown onion slices. Bright green cilantro garnish nestles up against the fish on the right. A fork lies in wait in the background.
The first time I cooked flounder, it was alongside salmon, which I already knew I liked. I was struck by how unpleasantly fishy it was and delayed cooking the rest of what I had. Now, however, I’ve found a preparation of flounder that I like. The fillets are placed in a baking pan, lined with foil, atop one half of a sliced onion in a thin pool (about the height of the onions) of teriyaki sauce. These are sprinkled with garlic salt and pepper, then another layer of foil is placed over the top. The fish cooks at 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, then it’s ready to serve, topped with the sliced onions.

The fish had good flavor with a bit of spice and the fishy taste from before was virtually gone. It may be possible to cook for a shorter period of time, but I err on the side of caution for fear of food-borne illness.

Streaming audio with long reconnect timeouts is fun. It’s like having ghosts in my computers. I’m writing, sitting on the couch, and an unexpected burst of audio pops out from the corner of the room. Experientially, there’s no difference between a disembodied voice and a voice from a body you don’t imagine, and for the split second before I the NPR reporter’s voice, I get slight a thrill.

Bluetooth adventures

I have a bluetooth headset that I’ve wanted to use with my Linux laptop for a while, but couldn’t, largely because of weak support for bluetooth<->pulseaudio integration. Today, I decided to give it another shot and actually got sound going from XMMS2 to my headphones. That was great except then my wifi connection slowed to a crawl. Apparently, because the wireless card on my laptop is shared between bluetooth and wifi, they have trouble working at the same time. So disappointing.

As a side note: I was screwing around with wifi settings on my router and somehow ended up catching what sounded like a kendo competition set to music: lots of passionate yells, clacking, and flute.


I was able to get it working by setting some options to the iwlwifi driver. To my future self and interested hackers, the documents I referenced:

  • ev3dev github issue — running pulseaudio as ‘pulse’ user in system mode is because ev3dev is embedded systems (lego mindstorms :) ), but this page did give me some useful diagnostic commands and clued me into using the “agent on” command to bluetoothctl.

  • Arch Linux docs — got me the rest of the way to playing the audio. Ubuntu and Debian docs on this part were pretty useless

  • Debian iwlwfi page — indicated the options to prevent bluetooth/wifi conflict

Strictly The Best

I got this dance hall music record that some guy on the Internet listed as one of his influences. Since I don’t have a record player, I’ve been listening to tracks off it on youtube. It’s a lot of drum machine. Also, I can’t really tell what the musicians are saying most of the time. Most of the songs sound the same to me. Maybe it’s good and I just can’t tell. Maybe this really is strictly the best and I just can’t tell because I’m not hip enough. Maybe Mad Cobra is a genius of dance hall and here I am just smearing my imprecise, unmusical opinions all over this post like a five-year-old with finger paints and a paint-by-numbers. This record’s just making me feel awful now. I can’t even return it because I opened it, just to have a look, you know, and, like, now it’s just this thing that makes me feel bad and unhip.
Strictly The Best 5 front album cover

Mare Internum

Probably about once every two months, I find a new web comic to read, and if I like it, whether it’s been going for years or only a few weeks, I’ll read through every published page. I favor the comics with a narrative–really they fall into more of a graphic novel format–because I like to see how the author develops themes and character personalities over the long term compared to more episodic works where we essentially start from the same place with every new strip.

Mare Internum, the latest comic I’ve read through, is a great example of why I prefer a narrative. The story starts off with a man who is, apparently, suicidal, but over the next three chapters (including the one currently in-progress) his drive for survival apparently shocks him out of his depression. So we get to a see a whole slice of this character’s range of emotional states as he navigates the beautiful scenery and strange creatures Der-shing Helmer renders within the subterranean Martian landscape (cavescape?).

What really excites me though is seeing a web comic I love on store shelves. Here’s hoping that happens for Mare Internum.

Javascript with imports? Madness!

Not a detailed post. I just found out that this exists:

Having suffered through variations of require.js implementations, custom import functions, HTML <script> tags (which are invisible within a given module) it’s good to see that a tool for modularizing code is finally landing in the language itself. Of course, none of the methods for exposing and importing objects from / to Javascript files are going away — people will probably continue to write new code with the pre-existing methods indefinitely, not to mention the legacy code — which no-one is going to spend money updating unless someone also writes a module-loading syntax translator. Even so, the presence of a widely-supported language standard for modularity is good for the language going forward since developers will have less of a learning curve on something as basic as answering “what does code I’m looking at depend on?” or “where does this function come from?” I mean really, those are stupid questions to be spending time on when you have real problems to solve.

I cooked with tofu for the first time today, and it turned out pretty okay (but not pretty, so no picture). When I first decided to try working with tofu on my own, I bought silken and didn’t know what to do with it. I think I was just curious about what a “silken” food might look like. Online, all of the recommendations for what to do with silken are for sauces, shakes, thickening other foods. Basically, it isn’t something to build a meal around. The whole cube went into a shake, which was good, but I didn’t feel like I had expanded my culinary skills in anyway with that one. Thus, I resolved to try again with firmer stuff in the future.

Happily, I read a recommendation to marinate firm tofu ahead of cooking to impart it with some flavor. After about 30 minutes soaking in teriyaki, sriracha, and honey, I rolled my extra-firm tofu cubes in a little cornflour and dumped them into a large wok with a couple tablespoons of sesame oil inside. I cooked these on their own for maybe five minutes — I didn’t time it. Once the cornflour on the tofu had browned, cabbage, carrots, onion, broccoli, and peppers were added. I didn’t get down the cook time with the vegetables, but I judged it mostly by the color of the broccoli.

When I’ve had tofu before, the cooked product was spongier and held it’s shape better than mine has. The next time I prepare tofu, I’ll see if I can reproduce that texture. Maybe freezing will work?