Save of the Century

Being an IT professional, I have to hang my head in shame and admit to you that I nearly lost data today. I was resigned to restoring from the last full backup I took, which was ages ago. In the end a last ditch attempt came to fruition.

It all started innocently enough with the upgrade of the main server from FC3 to FC5.  I hate upgrading TurboTas so much that i missed out FC4 completly.   The upgrade began and (as with FC3), the installer baulked at my lvm drives.  not at all of them, just the striped 160s.  I guess this happened coz i use them native, not with any partition table. 

The installer warned me that it wouldzero the partition table on hdc and hdd if i continued.  I selected cancel and the install proceeded anyway.  Lo and behold, after the upgrade Linux booted fine but no LVM on the two big drives.

All LVM tools suggested that there was nothing LVMish about the two drives which left me a bit stumped.  The net was symathetic, but no actual help.  I tried vgrestorecfg, but this reported that the vg memebers were not correct.  In desperation, I wrote new signatures to the PVs using pvcreate.  I had to use -ff as lvm already thought they were in a vg.  

Next I tried the vgrestorecfg tool again, but now was told that the signatures were wrong.  In desperation I edited the backup file and changed the drive signates to those now reported by pvdisplay /dev/hdc and hdd.  Amazingly, vgrestorecfg worked. 

A few minutes later and I had mounted the drives and discovered that I seem to have lost nothing at all other than a few clumps of hair. 

The lesson, dear readers is to do those backups even if they are manual and a pain in the butt.  I've had my warning: you may not be so lucky.

Project Veggie News

Sunday saw the latest phase of work on the veggie mobile. Acquisition of 3/8" hose proved the right thing to do: all under bonnet hoses arenow connected and a mjor milestone has been reached: the heat exchanger is now inline. I did everything I could to get air out of the systemand the car only coughed a couple of times when I started it. All inall a very good result. It transpires that the 3/8" hoses are a great fit on the outside of the 8mm OD copper tube I've been using.

The next major task is to find a wiring route into the passenger ompartment for the switch and a temperature guage. You would thinkthat this would be pretty easy to do, but it has not proved so thus far!

After that, I need to measure fuel temperature inline between the exchanger and the fuel pump. This in turn will be used to decide whento switch supply from Derv to Bio. This will be simply a short length
of copper tube inserted inline in the fuel path and with a temperature sensor fitted.

During the next mild weather the front to rear run will be installed for the oil tank and connected to the front Oil filter unit. At the bottom of the car, this will be copper like the existing hoses for security.

Fuel hoses are already routed outside the vehicle, so cable tying to these should be trivial.Finally, when we have a working fuel temperature indication and we aregetting good numbers, the tank can be fitted in the boot and the whole system tested with 100% veg.

Art and Culture Section kicks off

I checked out my links library today and I seem to have rather a large collection of Art and Culture links.  So many that it seems odd that I don't tell both of you about them.

All that is set to change: from now on, expect regular art and culture postings when I see neato stuff.


Lets start with a classic 'Abandoned Places' Photography site.  This one is by the clearly talented Shaun O'Boyle.  Check it out now.

The UK is cold you say?

Moaning with your workmates about the cold snap in the UK at the moment.  Think again: perhaps you better take a look at these pictures of a village on the shores of lake Geneva before you complain too loudly.  Don't worry they are worksafe.  Flipping cold, but worksafe.

Mixed Reality Interface

As if the multi-touch screen was not cool enough technology, now check out the mixed reality interface .  As soon as you see it you'll thing it's obvious, but whats clever is not the technology as such, but the very idea and that it works so well.  I bet you can thing of a hundred uses for this all by yourself!

Home Cinema first foray

Decorating the Living room was like breaking a bond.  It was one of those things that we knew needed to be done and yet it was a big enough job that we put it off for nearly five years.   The big push this year came about when I came home one eve and just grabbed a hammer and chisel to see how difficult it would be to remove the york stone covered chimney breast.

2 days later and the room was a wreck.  On  the plus side, without the fake chimney breast there was a nice empty wall just begging for a big TV.  I've never been a big fan in the past, but recently we have been watching a lot of movies at home and it occurred that if we do spend a lot of time in front of the TV, might as well make it a good system!

Here we are two months later and the first part of the master plan is complete. The room is essentially finished and we are now the proud owners of a great home cinema system, except for the TV! 

The system is based on two key components: the surround sound speaker system and the decoder/Amplifier.

For the speaker system, I went for the KEF KHT-1005 set, which is a 5.1 system.  The gorgeous  aluminium egg shaped speakers landed at £300.  Don't bother shopping around for these: KEF have a very strict retail agreement which means that these are not available by courier.  This means that prices are strictly controlled too!

One word of caution though: make sure any accessories you want are available: the sexy KEF stands for my speakers are still on a boat somewhere between China and here and the speakers don't look the same without the stands. 

The same restrictive sales policy does not apply to the stands so shop around: I'll get mine for £55 per pair when there are some in the UK to buy!

The Amp that I went for is the Yamaha DSP-AX757SE .  It's a flipping great big unit that is far too deep for the fireplace but it works great.  It has 7 inputs, each with composite, Svideo and Audio connections.  There’s a big bank of Digital inputs too so most digital kit will work just fine.  Note there is no HD available though, so look elsewhere if you want HD ready kit.

I do want this feature, but I'm happy to bypass the AV Amp with the HD Video signal when the kit is available.

Shop around for this unit, I got mine for £322 delivered which is a whopping saving on the RRP. 

Okay, so it's all plugged in and although the speakers are presently sitting on the floor, it is one impressive sound.  I can't begin to describe how eerie it is to have ambient sounds behind you when you watch a movie.

I'll post again when the Telly is installed and the speaker stands are in. 



Windows Update being a bit naughty?

Recently, I audited my work laptop.  I set lots of the services disabled so that I control to some extent what runs and when.  All pretty obvious stuff for a security professional.  An interesting point was noted when I next tried to run Windows Update though.

Not surprisingly, Windows update has some dependancies which must be satisfied for update to work.  They are BITS, Automatic updates and Event Log.

I can understand that.  Windows update kindly reported to me that some of Automatic Update, Event Log and BITS were not running and asked me to go start them.

I did and interestingly, Windows Update still did not work.  It transpires that it is not good enough to start the services: You must set them to Automatic in order for windows update to work.

This is a bit of an arse.  I can see that MS want this stuff running, but it's a bit naughty to insist that the services are set automatic rather than that they are running.  It means that to apply updates, I need to jump through a whole lot of hoops: changing service settings every time.  I'm certainly not happy to just leavee this stuff running the whole time.

Unfortunately, it seems that MS still don't get it..

Google Map adds Mars

Have you checked out google today? Google showed us the power of their Ajax driven mapping application a few months ago when they added lunar maps seemingly overnight.

They have excelled today though: To coincide with the arrival of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at Mars, they have released updated the maps application with Elevation, Infrared, and traditional visible light versions of Mars. Check it out and see what you can see. Hopefully not houses and streets.

Interestingly enough, since the high resolution maps were added to the UK service a month ago, It's been noted that a number of _ahem_interesting locations are no longer available at the same high res they were in February. TurboTas can't help wondering if this is due tosomeone somewhere pulling strings at Google.