2016 — 2 October: Sunday

An unusually early start this morning — it seems my subconscious has been struggling somewhat with some aspects of my UltraEdit settings for correct handling1 of UTF-8 data. It's nothing an unusually early cuppa can't help me crack. Besides the music on BBC Radio 3's "Through the night" is generally well-curated.

This is all...

... part of the process of making quite sure I can correctly create and edit my 'molehole' HTML files from any choice of PC now that I have all three up and running. Next comes publishing to the AWS bucket.

There's another upside: now that the 'molehole' files master data lives on one of the RAID 1 NAS boxes, I may as well play my music from there too. That way, I keep the NAS "spinning" which, in turn, minimises the latency when writing an updated HTML file to the AWS bucket from which it is served outside the confines of Technology Towers. [Pause] Now, about that second cuppa...

There's a splendid rant...

... one click away behind this image:

Passport control

It accords with many of my prejudices :-)

This, too...

... rather tickled my fancy. Source and snippet:

Those whose encounter with mathematics at school was less than happy ('Minus times minus equals plus/The reason for this we need not discuss') might feel some sympathy with the nominalist picture. Then again, it is also a view that appeals to physicists and engineers who regard serious propositions about reality as their business. They look on tables of Laplace transforms and other such mathematical paraphernalia as, in the words of the German philosopher Carl Hempel, 'theoretical juice extractors': useful for getting extra sense out of meaty physical propositions, but not contentful in themselves.

James Franklin in Aeon

My own use of Laplace transforms was exactly as described here. Nor have they ever again raised their ugly heads or troubled me in any way since leaving what was then still called the Hatfield Polytechnic back in 1973. (And me with a distinction in Computation, too!)

[Pause, while I fight2 with FileZilla on Skylark]

Who knew...

... all I needed in my life is a "BOM"? I didn't until two recent emails.


I gather the UTF-8 BOM (Byte order mark) is a way of ensuring a file is recognised as being encoded in UTF-8.

A number of...

... quite interesting things happen when trying to fix a broken symbolic link called /var/www (held in /var) on BlackBeast to point it to an unbroken symbolic link called AWSfiles that you successfully set up yesterday in your /home/david space.3 Particularly when both you and the chap kindly trying to help you do this trivially easy thing both forget that:

  1. overwriting a symbolic link actually fails silently unless you physically remove the original one first, and
  2. your /home/david space isn't actually where you think it is because you've both forgotten that when you installed Linux 17.2 many moons ago you placed in the "real" /home space a symbolic link to your "original" /home space (to safeguard all your system's application configuration details), and
  3. you don't realise that you're working on a Remote Desktop in any case (though that was pretty minor in the scheme of things as it turned out), and
  4. you accidentally succeed in creating a symbolic link where you want it but one that is actually linking what you think is /home to itself

Chief among the cascade of worrying symptoms and unfamiliar error messages that ensues is the apparent, instant, effortless, nuking of your entire /home space on BlackBeast. Taking with it all your system's application configuration details (of course). And I have to tell you, trying to navigate a Linux system without a /home space is a weird and unwondrous never-to-be-repeated psychedelic desktop experience.

Cue the phrase: "Well, I've never seen that happen before. Sorry. Have you got a backup?"

Lessons learned

Keep an up-to-date backup in a clearly-labelled location so that, if necessary, you can find it even when in a mild panic. Write down a good description of its location and status.

It was only while staring at, and then poking at, the three identical SSDs that realisation eventually dawned. The /home space and all its data was still all present and correct, and merely required a re-instatement of the symbolic link to it that had got itself zapped. Fixing that took just a few seconds. Realising that that was the necessary fix took rather longer and a second cup of tea, each. [Pause] While waiting for 311,130 files to back up I've been renewing my primitive-but-effective washing line system. And making a start (not much helped by a series of Kindle brain freezes) on Gary Lachman's book "A secret history of consciousness".

A secret history of consciousness

Fun fact: Lachman was a founding member of "Blondie" and wrote "(I'm always touched by your) presence, dear".

The Herefordshire farmer who...

... founded Tyrrells Potato Crisps 14 years ago sold it for £30,000,000 in 2008. The buyer boosted exports, bought cheaper spuds, and sold on the bigger business, in 2013, for £100,000,000. Meanwhile, Farmer Giles re-invested his profits, and redeployed his potatoes in a farm-based vodka distillery selling 10,000 bottles per week. He exports to Russia, and offers a marmalade vodka "ideal for your breakfast martini"! That's the spirit. (Info from "Spectator" magazine, 13 August 2016.)


1  The default encoding for new files in UltraEdit is indeed ASCII, and the settings to change that are quite deeply tucked away.
2  Fighting will have to continue, alas, until I have finished wrangling FileZilla's connection settings through a symbolic link that is proving a tad reluctant to play nicely with a fairly deeply-nested subfolder on the Synology NAS. Mother said there would be days like this.
3  That in turn symbolically links to the new location of all your web files on the NAS, and would thus enable the lighttpd web server running as a service on BlackBeast to find its web files on the NAS rather than on BlackBeast.