2016 — 19 March: Saturday

I find I know less about more these days. Example? How can Peter — whom I still clearly recall as a wriggling babe in arms — possibly now be 36? Shome mishtake, shurely? And my lovely cousin in Birmingham has caught me up yet again, too. "Inconceivable!"

Happy birthday to the pair of you.

There are other...

... matters to contemplate. Ignoring breakfast, and crockpot stuffing — both tasks nowadays relegated to unconscious processes — I've found a temporary use for the spare1 port on my 8-port Gigabit switch down here. With that (and the bit of network cable I tripped over last night) I shall take yesterday's toy out looking for new firmware before I declare it fully ready for business. Who knows? I may even discover a way to switch off its front panel display.2 (That's only needed while trying to wrangle the thing.)

Now that I 'run'...

... an all-Linux network it's been suggested that NFS may well be a better answer to this maiden's next prayers. Particularly in combination with SSHFS and NoMachine. I've therefore begun asking Mrs Google some pertinent questions. And reading her interesting answers. (It was a timely suggestion, actually, as I was having some hassle with my Gigolo last night when accessing data on one of the NAS boxes. I fear Gigolo brings a bit too much baggage in its wake, and is now on the "expunge" list after my short fling.)

The idea of (excuse the term) mounting and accessing all my digital bits and bobs associated with each PC from any of them, with equal facility, is a happy one. Not to mention being able to find my way through those "caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea" as I search hither and yon throughout Xanadu's Pleasure Dome picking up and examining at greater leisure some of my "unconsidered trifles" from a lifetime's gathering of same.

I may even find Rosebud :-)

To my considerable surprise...

... it seems that Iain Duncan Smith does have a point, after all. To discomfit the boy Dave at this juncture is quite remarkable. Almost as much fun as hearing Sir Geoffrey Howe's resignation speech savaging La Thatcher back in the day.

I don't recall...

... overmuch discussion of the penis as inspiration behind "hydraulic action to prevent buckling in bridge supports, dams. Deployable structures that use water to provide rigidity." back when I was pretending to be an aeronautical engineer. (Link.)

And, lest you wonder, I was taken there by this. Source and snippet:

In its transformed state, Kelly recognized that the penis has the hallmarks of a hydrostatic skeleton, a type of structure that maintains stiffness by means of fluid trapped in a chamber. She began to wonder why mammalian penises did not bend, while creatures made of hydrostatic skeletons, like earthworms, could coil and uncoil at will. She took on the question for her dissertation, hypothesizing that the answer lay in a 90-degree arrangement of fibers in the collagenous tissue under the skin.

M Sophia Newman in Atlantic

I've not read...

... anything by Anita Brookner. This article suggests that may well have been my loss. Source and snippet:

Her novels were what they were; they played to her strengths, of clarity, irony, wit, insight. Her voice was recognisable from the opening line. (Take the first three words of Latecomers: "Hartmann, a voluptuary, ..." No one else would have written that.) What she did less well, she didn't do at all...
One summer, my wife and I took her latest novel to France on holiday. I read it first; the next morning, my wife settled down to it beneath the shade of a tree. After about an hour, there was an explosion of disbelieving rage — and I already knew exactly what it was about. "I'm on page 35," she called across, "and I've just reached the first line of dialogue — and it's in French!"

Julian Barnes in Grauniad

"Voluptuary"? Delicious! (One has but to recall the Baron Harkonnen.)

Nice to see...

... good ol' Microsoft keeping up the traditions. (Link.)

An afternoon...

... spent amiably manoeuvring Technology Towers and its ancient caretaker into this new NFS-centric networking world. We also took some time out to install the graphical version of the Vim editor properly so I can give it a decent chance to prove its worth. Both Synology NAS boxes are now set up to share files via NFS to "me" at a PC and via Samba to the Oppo Blu-ray player for onward display on the Kuro plasma screen. (NFS seems fine for video material, but the Oppo refuses to 'see' some audio material — its networking abilities are still somewhat experimental, and certainly not guaranteed to work across all combinations of domestic hardware and software.)

My PCs have all been "locked down" to specific network addresses just to make sure they don't go unexpectedly AWOL at some point. One or two desktop foibles have also been sorted out — for example, adding an 'action' to the Thunar file manager to open folders of MP3s directly into the Decibel MP3 player that's about as simple as they come. I am also now, to a large extent, able to manage no-password-required SSH logins across the three main PCs in any combination courtesy of some crafty pre-set RSA 4K private key exchanges. (I find it's quite easy to lose track of "where" you are when you login on machine A to hop on to machine B and then from machine B you leap across to machine C...) I can only hope my guru enjoyed the crockpot I fed him after all his exertions.

Next came an evening of stripping down and re-building the A/V stack, connecting up the items (cassette deck and minidisc recorder) that I hadn't already "properly" assigned to the care of the new pre-amp, and actually listening to some nice music.3 I've also given in, and added in an extra analogue connection from the Humax satellite radio/TV box as well as HDMI. The sound is identical, but leaves the signal unperturbed if the plasma screen is switched on or off (unlike the HDMI sound, which disappears for several seconds). I really cannot find anything nice to say about HDCP.

I was interested to see (on iPlayer) a repeat showing of a fascinating "Horizon" programme about Temple Grandin from June 2006.



1  Not that it is spare. It needs to be reserved for daisy-chaining my next 8-port Gigabit switch!
2  I won't be holding my breath. Rotel's low-tech approach involves add-on "addenda" kits of Dark Matter to stick atop the blingier bits.
3  A long-neglected 1985 cassette of Handel's Concerti Grossi (Op. 6) from a 1982 performance directed by Trevor Pinnock.