Sandmann

Aug. 28th, 2016 12:05 pm
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Sandmann
Reuterstraße 7, 12053 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 21.12.2006

Kaffee gibt's im Sandmann auch, aber ich glaube, es wird doch mehr Bier getrunken. Das Getränkeangebot ist nicht ohne Reiz, wenn auch eher kneipentypisch; dazu gibt es Snacks. Das Publikum ist stärker intellektuell geprägt als sonst in Neuköllner Kneipen üblich, aber immer noch gemischt.

Wenn man sich, wie es die meisten tun, an einen der Tische setzt, ist der Sandmann eine Kneipe, in die man gut mal mit Freunden gehen kann, weil sie günstig gelegen ist und weil einem die einfache, aber liebevolle Atmosphäre gefällt.

Kommt man aber allein und setzt sich an den Tresen, kann es durchaus sein, daß man in nette Gespräche oder aberwitzige Diskussionen verwickelt wird, je nach Zusammensetzung und Tagesform des Publikums, und viel später erst wieder nach Hause findet als eigentlich beabsichtigt. Das gilt nicht nur für "die, die immer hier sitzen", sondern auch (vorher) Fremde werden schnell aufgenommen, wenn sie etwas kontaktfreudig sind.

Häufig gibt es Musikveranstaltungen, zum Beispiel "Blue Monday", eine offene Blues-Session jeden Montag, aber da bin ich nicht auf dem neuesten Stand.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Krasselts Imbiss
Steglitzer Damm 24, 12169 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 20.12.2006

Ach ja, es ist doch sehr Geschmackssache mit der Currywurst. Seit ein paar Jahren wohne ich nun fast gegenüber von Krasselt's [sic], und an Currywurst ohne Darm habe ich mich immer noch nicht gewöhnt.

Schlecht ist sie nicht, und das Ketchup (auch in Flaschen zu bekommen!) ist wirklich hervorragend, die Würzung gut. Aber die Wurst selbst ist so weich und labberig, es fehlt das Knusprige, das ich an der Wurst mit Darm so mag.

Das kann man Krasselt's natürlich nicht vorwerfen. Inzwischen esse ich dort viel öfter einen Fleischspieß, oder auch zwei, mit Pommes. Die Spieße sind sehr gut und haben uns auch zu Hause schon ein paarmal abends das Kochen erspart.

[Inzwischen gibt es dort auch Currywurst mit Darm. Ich ziehe aber immer noch die Spieße vor.]

jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Willmanndamm 15, 10827 Berlin
Nagel, Siegfried Lucky's Pizzeria u. Lieferservice

Jürgen schrieb am 16.12.2006

Dieses Lokal ist schräg. Die Wände sind voller Namibia-Devotionalien, davon frei gebliebene Flächen sind inzwischen mit Fotos vollgepflastert, die Lucky von seinen Gästen gemacht hat. Komische Dinge stehen herum, und zu späterer Stunde kann es durchaus vorkommmen, daß Lucky zur Gitarre greift und singt.

"Schärfste Pizza Schönebergs" ist der Wahlspruch, und das stimmt wahrscheinlich auch. Die Pizza hat standardmäßig eine gewisse Grundschärfe; eine milde Variante gibt es aber auf Wunsch auch.

Was ist das eigentlich für eine Pizza? Italienisch ist sie nicht so sehr, amerikanisch schon gar nicht. Seine eigene Schöpfung? Ich weiß es nicht, aber sie schmeckt mir außerordentlich gut. Der Boden ist dünn und knusprig, der Belag intensiv aromatisch. Meine Lieblingspizza ist die Kapernpizza mit Schafskäse und frischen Tomaten, mit extra Knoblauch.

Von Nudelgerichten und Salat war ich bisher nicht so begeistert, aber weil ich nur etwa monatlich da bin, kann ich auch jedes Mal Pizza essen. Faßbier gibt es leider nicht, aber Beck's, Wohn Pils, und Weizenbiere. Der Wein war eher schlicht, aber zur Pizza paßt mir Bier ohnehin besser.

Lucky ist ein Original. Er zündet auch schon mal Sonnwendfeuer in Blechfässern auf der Straße an und wirft einen Gast aus dem Lokal, der sich zu vehement über Rauch vom Nebentisch beschwert – rauchen können soll man bei ihm. Nun, mich stört's nicht.



["Lucky's Pizzeria" gibt es inzwischen nicht mehr, er hat sich zur Ruhe gesetzt. Und inzwischen stört mich Rauch in Restaurants und Kneipen schon.]
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Restaurant Glühwurm
Handjerystr. 77, 12159 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 16.12.2006

Den Glühwurm – diesen Glühwurm, den anderen kenne ich nicht – finde ich zwiespältig. Einerseits ist es dort ganz nett, sympathisches Personal, gutes zu essen und zu trinken, andererseits ist es oft so voll und laut, daß es anstrengend wird. Dann ist meist auch der Service so überlastet, daß einem zwischen den Getränken die Dehydrierung droht.

Die Speisenauswahl ist, wie das ganze Lokal, stark schwäbisch geprägt. Maultaschen gibt es in diversen Variationen, meine Empfehlung: die "Spinatwachtel" mit Ei und Spinat. Deftige Fleischgerichte sind gut vertreten. Manchen ist das Essen insgesamt zu schwer, aber das schreckt mich meist nicht.

Bei den Weinen herrschen die Schwaben ebenfalls vor, aber es gibt auch eine kleine Auswahl des üblichen internationalen Spektrums. Mehrere Biere gibt es vom Faß, darunter ein Hefeweizen.

Im Sommer ist der Garten sehr schön und, da am Renée-Sintenis-Platz gelegen, recht ruhig.

Paulaner's

Aug. 25th, 2016 09:45 am
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Paulaners
Alt-Moabit 98, 10559 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 16.12.2006

Beeindruckend finde ich an der Kette der "Paulaner's"- [sic] und "Leopold's"-Restaurants, daß sie das vorgegebene Styling so präzise einhalten, sei das Lokal nun in Moabit, Neukölln, oder Shanghai – Konzeptgastronomie eben.

Laut ist es in der Tat manchmal. Das paßt eigentlich ins Konzept; leicht erhitzte Stimmung gehört dazu wie das Bier.

Neben dem schon erwähnten Hefeweizen gibt es Paulaner Münchner Hell und Dunkel, und zur entsprechenden Jahreszeit das von mir besonders geschätzte Oktoberfestbier, sehr süffig und würzig.

Die Speisen sind deftig, bayerisch; mein Favorit ist der Schweinsbraten, sehr saftig, mit knuspriger Kruste, dazu Knödel und Krautsalat.

Eigentlich, fällt mir dazu ein, müßte ich mal wieder hin.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Weingut Kaiserberghof
Oberdorfstraße 47, 76831 Ilbesheim

Jürgen schrieb am 16.12.2006

Nun ja, ein Lieblingsplatz kann es eigentlich nicht sein, denn ich war noch nicht da. Und das kam so: Eigentlich wollte ich letztes Jahr im September mit meiner Frau und meinen Schwiegereltern eine Woche in die Pfalz fahren und zwei oder drei Weingüter besuchen, darunter das Weingut Kaiserberghof der Familie Kast. Aus beruflichen Gründen mußte ich diese Reise kurzfristig absagen (don't get me started...), und so sind sie ohne mich gefahren.

Sie ließen mir allerdings vom Kaiserberghof ein Carepaket schicken, mit deutlich mehr verschiedenen Weinen, als ich bis dahin von Kast kennengelernt hatte. Damit war mein Schicksal besiegelt – ich konnte nicht mehr von diesen Weinen los.

Daß sein Schicksal besiegelt war, mag auch der Paketbote gedacht haben, als er sich vor ein paar Wochen vor der Aufgabe sah, unsere Herbstbestellung von 48 Flaschen Kaiserberghof-Wein in den vierten Stock zu schleppen. Aber unsere Hilfe und ein Trinkgeld ließen ihn die Fassung schließlich wiedergewinnen.

Durchaus trinke ich noch andere Weine, aber als Sortiment eines einzigen Winzers liegt mir das der Kasts besonders am Herzen. Sie machen "ehrliche", klare Weine mit sortentypischem Geschmack, aber mit viel Ehrgeiz und nicht ohne Rafinesse.

Meine Kastschen Lieblingsweine sind die kräftigen Roten, Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Laurent, und vor allem der Spätburgunder, den ich dieses Jahr sowohl jung als auch aus dem Barrique besonders gelungen finde.

Gleich danach kommt der Chardonnay aus dem Barrique und die frischen, "knackigen" Weiß- und Grauburgunder. Der Riesling ist auch nicht übel, aber der schmeckt mir woanders besser.

Von den Spezialitäten haben wir dieses Jahr kaum etwas abbekommen, nicht den 24 Monate barrique-gelagerten St. Laurent 2003, der mich extrem gereizt hätte, und nicht den Sekt Pinot extra brut. Wir bekamen allerdings etwas von der Grauburgunder-Auslese süß, die mich letztes Jahr schon begeistert hat.

Bestellen kann man bei den Kasts am besten per Telefon. Es gibt zwar auf der genannten Website auch einen Shop, aber der berücksichtigt nicht, daß manche Weine schon ausverkauft sind. Per Telefon kann man dagegen gleich erfahren, ob ein Wein noch lieferbar ist, und wenn nicht, einen Ersatz bestellen, damit die Kapazität der Versandkartons von 12 oder 18 Flaschen gut ausgenutzt wird.

Wer Glück hat, liegt im Einzugsgebiet der Liefertouren des Kaiserberghofs und kann seine Weinbestellung zweimal im Jahr frei Haus geliefert bekommen; alle anderen zahlen 5,90 € pro Karton. (Das steht auf der Website falsch!)

[Nachtrag 2016: Inzwischen, muss ich feststellen, habe ich schon lange nichts mer bei Kast bestellt. Ich sollte wohl mal wieder.]
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Pizzeria i Due Forni
Schönhauser Allee 12, 10119 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 16.12.2006

Vielleicht sollte ich einfach nicht im Dezember hingehen. Ausgesucht hatte ich es mir auch (wieder) nicht, aber das Argument, relativ kurzfristig nirgendwo anders einen Tisch für 20 Personen zu bekommen, ist schwer zu widerlegen.

Das Essen ist gut, der Wein für einen schlichten Tischwein ordentlich (in den Sorten "rot" und "weiß", letztere besser). Einrichtung angenehm schlicht.

Wenn ich mir die anderen Beiträge hier ansehe, scheint die Qualität des Service sehr mit der Tagesform zu schwanken. Gestern war er passabel – Bestellungen kamen manchmal nicht zum Erfolg, aber meistens schon, wenn auch nicht typischerweise schnell; die Haltung war freundlich bis "gestresst, aber nicht übelnehmend".

Aber die Lautstärke... unglaublich. Nun gut, es war extrem voll (ist es das eigentlich immer im Dezember?), aber es ist auch wirklich ein lautes Publikum, jung, "lebenslustig" (muß man dazu eigentlich so rumdröhnen?), und mit kräftigen Stimmchen. Der Raum tut wenig, den Lärm zu mildern.

Als es das zweite Mal am Abend "sehr laut" war, habe ich mich schon wieder gefreut, denn zwischen dem ersten Mal "sehr laut" und dem zweiten Mal "sehr laut" war es die ganze Zeit "fast unertraglich laut". Da war "sehr laut" dann schon wieder eine Erholung.

Ach ja, das lebenslustige Publikum: Vielleicht gehört es auch ja zum Lifestyle, auf der Toilette mit nassen Papierhandtüchern rumzusauen. Ich hätte es für tendentiell unnötig gehalten.

Wahrscheinlich ist es hier ganz nett, wenn es nicht so von rumdröhnenden Gästen voll ist. Ich weiss nicht, ob das vorkommt – vielleicht sollte man am Nachmittag eines schönen kalten Novembertages herkommen, zu kalt für den Garten, zu schön für einen Restaurantbesuch.

Dann könnte ich vielleicht das gute Essen in Ruhe genießen, bedient von einem gutgelaunten und nicht überlasteten Service.

Grünzeit

Aug. 23rd, 2016 11:17 am
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Grünzeit,
Martin-Luther-Straße 41, 10779 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 15.12.2006

Es geht doch nichts über einen anständigen, soliden, schwulen Blumenladen! :–)

Eigentlich bin ich ja wirklich kein großer Blumenkäufer, aber zur eigenen Hochzeit sollte es doch mal sein. In Grünzeit fanden wir einen Blumenladen, der nicht, wie manch anderer, die Preisschilder beim Nennen des Worts "Hochzeit" austauschte, der eine wunderbare, allenthalben bewunderte Tisch- und Raumdekoration herstellte, der sich in der Abwicklung äußerst entgegenkommend zeigte, und mit dem es eine Freude war, Geschäfte zu machen. So wünscht man sich das.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Rixdorfer-Weihnachtsmarkt,
Richardplatz 1, 12055 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 15.12.2006

Dieses Jahr habe ich ihn schon wieder verpaßt, so ein Ärger – es war doch einfacher, als ich noch direkt um die Ecke wohnte. Aber es klappt einfach nicht immer am Wochende des zweiten Advent.

Der Rixdorfer Weihnachtsmarkt ist aus meiner Sicht der einzige, auf den es sich wirklich zu gehen lohnt. Die nahezu durchweg nichtkommerziellen Standbetreiber machen die Atmosphäre viel angenehmer als auf den normalen Weihnachtsmärkten.

Die Stände bieten alles mögliche an, von Speisen und Getränken über selbstgebasteltes Spielzeug bis zu antiquarischen Büchern, so manches Geschenk habe ich dort auch schon erworben. Highlights sind für mich der Stand der koreanischen Krankenschwestern mit leckerem Feuerfleisch und Gemüsepuffern und, im wörtlichen Sinn, der Platz, an dem das THW die Petroleumlampen neu befüllt, weil das Licht dort so schön ist.

Nur vier Sterne statt fünf vergebe ich deswegen, weil es manchmal ganz furchtbar voll ist. Da macht es dann nicht mehr viel Spaß.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
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Friedenauer Weinhandlung,
Hauptstraße 80, 12159 Berlin

Jürgen schrieb am 15.12.2006

Hier kam ich her, um mehr Auswahl an französischen Weinen zu haben als bei meinen bisher besuchten Weinläden, und die bekam ich. Auf meine vagen Wünsche hin bekam ich Empfehlungen, die genau paßten – sehr gut, die Beratung, und nett dazu. Nur allzu oft darf ich nicht hingehen, denn ich möchte jedes Mal den halben Laden mitnehmen...
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
[Incidentally I found the text of a number of old articles about bars and restaurants and the like again. I wrote them between end of 2006 and early 2009, and although I knew I had saved the texts, I believed them lost until I stumbled upon them again today. I will post a number of them here; alas, all are in German.]

Ende 2006 bis Anfang 2009 tummelte ich mich mit anderen auf der Lokalbewertungsplattform "Qype" (mitterweile von Yelp geschluckt). Freunde zogen mich da hinein, und es machte mir viel Spaß, kleine Artikel zu schreiben, mich mit anderen Teilnehmern zu treffen, und darüber noch mehr Artikel zu schreiben.

Leider veränderte es sich dort so, dass der Spaß nachließ, und ich verließ die Plattform. Die Texte fand ich nicht mehr wieder, obwohl ich wusste, dass ich sie mir gesichert hatte, bevor ich sie auf der Plattform löschte. Heute bin ich vollkommen zufällig darüber gestolpert, und ich werde in der nächsten Zeit einen Teil davon oder auch alle hier posten.

Diese Artikel sind historisch. Vieles davon ist nicht mehr aktuell; manches Lokal gibt es heute nicht mehr. Auch würde ich vermutlich manches heute anders sehen oder anders beschreiben. Als Reminiszenz möchte ich diese Artikel trotzdem unverändert lassen bis auf Fehler in Rechtschreibung und Grammatik; wo es mir nötig scheint, werde ich einen Kommentar anhängen.

Also nun, eine Reise in die nähere Vergangenheit!
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
Just for fun I timed a program that I have developed in my spare time, the Lisp interpreter lingo, written in Go, on a number of computers. This measures basically single-thread performance, presumably with some emphasis on memory access, as the interpreter does a lot of pointer chasing. Mainly I wanted to compare my newly upgraded home server mellum with others.

The first four of the computers listed in the table are my own, the first three at home, the fourth an external rented server. All others are my employer's and are operated by our group.

 

Hostevals/sFactorCPU(s)CoresClock/GhzOS
mellum35057151.00E3-1220 v343.1FreeBSD 10.3
naibel4971927.05T40E APU21FreeBSD 10.3
wrixum16591912.11Core 2 Duo22.4OS X 10.11.4
holt18490071.90Opteron 138542.7Debian Jessie
Brunei13756742.55E5-2620 v3122.4Debian Jessie
Island15480872.26X5650122.67Debian Jessie
Bermuda21399851.64i5-240043.1Debian Jessie
qcm0516227772.16E5-2690 v2203Debian Jessie
qcm0613554492.59E5-2690 v3242.6Debian Jessie
qcm0713915232.52E5-2690 v3242.6Debian Jessie
qcw5041664560.84i5-459043.3Debian Jessie
dgm0714736662.38X5650122.7Debian Wheezy

 

The listed number of cores is the total in the machine, without hyperthreading.

The program I ran is the interpreter lingo, commit 5aa9fa8cd136efd05e0adcbb9474f0aa6fe1fe64, built with the current Go 1.6.2 – to be precise, a run of make benchmark10 in the lingo directory, which factorises the number 100000000001 with the (rather naïvely implemented) Lisp program factor.lisp.

The number at "evals/s" states how many Lisp expressions have been evaluated per second. I have used the best number of a few runs each (at least two). Apart from qcm05 and qcm07 the machines were very lightly loaded, such that each had a "free" CPU.

I am a bit surprised that, apart from the workstation qcw50, my computer with a relatively cheap and nearly three-year-old CPU comes out ahead of nearly everything I could get my hands on, and not only the old ones (Island, our workgroup server, and Bermuda, my workstation), but also the newer ones. Now that computer has only one CPU and only four cores in total; especially the qcm0[5-7], meant for serious number crunching, have much more. Still amazing.

But I am even more surprised that my oldish MacBook Pro wrixum (13", mid-2010) keeps itself up so bravely. It has not only a CPU design from nearly eight years ago, but was also the slowest of the product line when I bought it.


Update: an additional result from rbarclay (see comments)

Update: More results are welcome! If you want to build from source, look into the comments for detailed instructions. If you want to use a pre-built binary for FreeBSD, Linux, or OS X on the amd64 architecture, download the appropriate one of the following files, unpack it, change into the lingo directory, and run <code>make benchmark10</code>. See the output for the "evals/s" value.

additional results
Sourceevals/sFactorCPU(s)CoresClock/GHzOS
rbarclay28504421.23FX-835084Debian Jessie
Update: An article Modern Microprocessors – A 90 Minute Guide! by Jason Robert Carey Patterson is interesting in this context.
 

Pay Raise

Jun. 28th, 2015 07:38 pm
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
A few data points about pay raises.

WeTeachFaculty, where I work now, is public service, implies collective labour agreements, implies small increments. Not coupled at all to performance reviews, which The Director didn't do until very recently anyway, but suddenly started, to everyone's surprise. (This may well be related to that recent employee survey that very visibly showed a high, and I mean high, degree of discontent of the employees with The Director. Maybe he did get some flak for that from The Chancellor after all.)

My other places of work were diverse.

VeryNiceCompany[1] did yearly performance review cum next year planning / objective agreement, where they also declared your incremental pay raise. This would have been the place to claim spectacular successes or developments and so a higher pay raise, only I didn't have those.

[1] my first one, mid-sized[2], and, in hindsight, a really great work environment

[2] grew from ~90 to > 250 before being hit by the burst of the Internet bubble and was shortly after bought out by WeMakeChips

The small startup WeLoveMulticast where I was for 16 months in between was founded by a former colleague from VNC, so he copied many of their processes, including reviews and pay raises. He had worse ideas than this.

WeMakeChips had roughly the same, only in a more refined and regulated way. When it came to the obligatory objective agreement, my boss said, well, what shall I say, keep on doing what you're doing? Yes, I said, that sounds quite right. So it is that then, he said. (He was a good one.) Incremental pay raise, only at one point I had a really good rating, but a definitely sub-average pay raise. I had some suspicion why that was, but my boss had said nothing of it. I found that kind of dishonest and it was the final straw to leave.

MobileInternetEnablers did nothing, IIRC, in the 2.5 years I was there — no performance reviews, no pay raise. Maybe the way was to go to the boss and say "I want!", only I didn't.

WeHostMillions did yearly performance review cum some planning, objective agreements were quite like at WMC. No pay raise, though, despite very good ratings — to get one, I'd probably have had to claim one, which I didn't. That wasn't only due to cowardice, but I also didn't want the pay to be a bigger reason to stay there than it already was. After 4 years, when WHM had been bought by FormerStateMonopolyTelco, suddenly a 10 % pay raise. What a conincidence. And then, after a year, I left for public service and 20 % less.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
The IPv6 tunnel via HE worked fine, but I was not really pleased with the roundtrip times to their access point. So, when I got a new server hosted by my former employer last year, one that comes with a /56 IPv6 space, this gave me another tunneling opportunity.

In between I had trashed the Mikrotik router described in an earlier article after it had bricked itself when I tried to reset the configuration just like it was documented. Last straw and all that. The new one is an EdgeRouter PoE from Ubuiqiti, with which I am mostly happy. It has its weak points, too, but it is openly based on Debian and Vyatta, meaning you don't even have to break out of the configuration CLI to access any Unix commands. (The web GUI is nice and shiny, but very limited in its capabilities.) The CLI is modeled after JunOS, which made me feel at home fast.

Vyatta offers OpenVPN out of the box, so it was easy to set up a tunnel configuration to an OpenVPN instance on my server. This way I have a /60 tunneled to my home, which should be plenty. And other than with HE, the roundtrip times are in the single digits of milliseconds.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
Today I thought of that version cum configuration control system ("ShapeTools") with Makefile-like input files I had the pleasure to work on 20+ years ago.

One user, a co-student of mine, came whining (again!) about some alleged bug in the "shape" program that had allegedly deleted his (alleged) source files. No way, we said.

No, it didn't. It only tended to skip the very last character of the Shapefile. Which didn't do any harm (ever), because that (always) was a newline character, right?
clean:
        rm -f core *.o $(PROGRAM) #*# *~

(For totally unrelated reasons, I implemented a new Shapefile parser not long after that bug report. And I still never end a "clean" rule in a Makefile with "*~".)
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
Some time ago I found this book mentioned at some other place and immediately resolved to read it, which I finally did.

Fox is a cultural anthropologist by trade, and as such, embarks on the IIRC self-appointed endeavour to investigate the English. While this is a serious study, she presents it with lots of humour, making this book both interesting and funny.

At the end she arrives at the result that at the core of Englishness sits what she calls the "social dis-ease", a non-relaxedness, an awkwardness of the English in dealing with each other (except with close friends and family). This social dis-ease results not only in hypocrisy, class snobbery, and eeyorishness, but also in humour, modesty, and fair play.

But not only the result is interesting, but also all the details she gets into. Her own embarrassment when she experiments with queue-jumping, all those consequences of the money-talk taboo, a broad perspective on rites of passage — there is a lot in here, and all really fascinating to see so thoroughly scrutinized.

Everywhere in that book I recognized things that also applied to me, or rather to the northern German society I grew up in, and things that did not. It would be most interesting to read the same book about my own tribe; alas, of course it is impossible to find the same kind of anthropologist from northern Germany doing the same thing.

So this must stand alone, but as such, it is an extremely interesting book, and great fun to read.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
In the last days I have put a new server for infrastructure services into operation at home.

It does not run as router or firewall, but has an SSHd for remote logins, DHCP and RADIUS server, DNS resolver, and cron jobs to do all those little things that must be done when my outer IP(v4) address changes, like updating dynamic DNS and reconfiguring the IPv6 tunnel with HE. For a few hours now, fail2ban has also been successfully blocking those pesky brute-force ssh attacks from China and the like.

The hardware is a small and — moderately — low power model from PC Engines, but still with a dual-core 1 GHz AMD CPU (amd64) and 4 GB of RAM, so it is quite capable. I have put in an SLC SSD (relatively expensive, but AIUI not as easily worn out by writing), also with 4 GB, which is enough for normal operation.

http://www.pcengines.ch/apu1c4.htm

Despite being low power (≤ 12 W), that little thing runs quite hot. Internally, CPU and south bridge are thermally connected to the case via an aluminium heat spreader:

http://www.pcengines.ch/apucool.htm

Still, the case gets so hot that I felt another cooling element is in order, as it is already quite warm on the upper boards of the store-room shelf (the left one in the picture):

from left to right: the new small server with heat sink attached, the router, the switch connecing router and DSL modem

With that, it runs up to 72 °C on the CPU when it is around 30 °C outside. As the CPU is rated for up to 90 °C, that seems to be okay.

The server is connected to my "core" network, to the WLAN segment, and to the DMZ, where incoming SSH connections are terminated.

As it runs security-critical services, I decided to give OpenBSD a try, for the first time. Not a bad idea — while not as much pre-packaged software is available as for, say, FreeBSD or Debian, most things I want are there, and then I should still be able to install most things from source. Or write them myself, dammit!

OpenBSD feels more like a "traditional" BSD than FreeBSD — the installation is rather like that of other systems 20 years ago; the whole setup feels simpler, more straightforward, with fewer automatic tentacles; updates are done by getting the source for the whole system and recompiling. Without being able to give really informed comments yet, I can say it feels good, solid, familiar, definitely likeable.

BTW, the 4 GB SSD proved to be too small for rebuilding the system, so I had to put /usr/src/ and /usr/obj/ on the file server, NFS-mounted over mere Fast Ethernet. I was afraid that this would slow down the system building by much, but building the userland was done after 5h20m, with 63% CPU utilization. Pleasant surprise!

Update: I have to admit that after some time I fell back to FreeBSD for this machine. While that decreases the OS diversity, it is much easier to update two FreeBSD boxen than one FreeBSD and one OpenBSD box. Also, the tunnel isn't to HE any more, but to my own external server, which is much closer, roundtrip-wise, and handled directly by the router (the middle device in the picture) using OpenVPN.
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
As I have mentioned, I have been using a Mikrotik RB750GL router running their RouterOS. This thing is small and cheap, and I was quite fond of it. At some other place, I wrote:
I have [a RB750GL] now as my home router, and I like it. Not that it doesn't have its quirks, of course — some things don't work like documented, and some might, only I find the documentation quite confusing. Firewall settings seem to presume intimate knowledge of iptables (which I have always hated and never got comfortable with). And a few other things, like it mysteriously only accepting only DSA public keys for ssh, not RSA.

Two weeks ago this saga continued, and the dissonance between documented and actual behaviour of this cute little piece of hardware produced semi-catastrophic failure.

To do some larger firewall changes, which is really tedious through the web interface, I downloaded the configuration from the router and wanted to be able to upload and activate it again.

The configuration can be exported to a file using an "/export" command and imported from a file through an "/import" command, says the documentation. The export worked fine, only the import complained about syntax errors in the file. Oh dear.

Now the lines in the exported configuration are just like lines you could type on the command line, so why not just try that? Because it complains about things like "I have a DHCP pool with that name already" — well, yes. Granted.

So you'd want to reset the configuration first before executing it again? Hey, it turns out this there is a command for that! It is "/system reset-configuration", and it has a parameter that makes it execute a configuration export file after reset, exactly what I wanted.

Only it didn't work. The reset may have worked, but obviously the configuration file is not loaded — the router is effectively dead. Maybe the factory default configuration file has been loaded. My trust in the Mikrotik router is gone, though, and I don't bother to check.

Luckily I had not sold the Juniper SRX100, as intended, so I brought it up again — not without changes, though, but at least it worked before the neighbors, who share the Internet access, came home again.

 

The Juniper is only a temporary solution, as I have learned that, while more convenient than IOS, JunOS config is similarly difficult if you don't deal with these things on a daily basis, and without a support contract you don't get software updates, which I see as a major problem nowadays.

I am resolved now to get a Soekris thingy once I got the money from the tax return and try OpenBSD. I know that is good hardware, I can put arbitrary other services on it as long as there is RAM, and no problem with software updates.

Update: I didn't get a Soekris, but a much cheaper APU1C4 instead (see later article), but don't use it as a router. The router I use now is a Ubiquiti EdgerouterPOE, and while it does have some quirks, it seems to be the right one for me.

Trying...

May. 27th, 2014 09:28 am
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
It has been said you cannot "try" to get a girlfriend.

Oh yes, you can try. I know I did; post-21 (after it had gone well when I was younger) there were stretches of years where I felt so godawful lonely and really tried, tried to demonstrate interest (which was genuinely there) towards any vaguely compatible-seeming, possibly interesting, and remotely attractive female, tried to make them interested in me, offered and gave help in small things and in bigger, cultivated friendships that I hoped to be able to turn into romantic-erotic relationships eventually, yada, yada, yada, all that.

To no avail. I am sure I am not, and was not, that much of a loser to be totally ineligible (hey, I really did that personal hygiene thing!), but probably I just didn't do the right things because I didn't know what the right things were or was too shy to do them (like, me, chatting up an unacquainted woman? you're kidding), or perhaps did the right things all wrong, and then, after a while of frustration and continued loneliness, there was, very likely, that stench of despair.

In the end, despite all the trying on my side, and despite all hopeful desperate fruitless desires crushes infatuations, all those vaguely compatible-seeming, possibly interesting, and remotely attractive — or even really compatible-seeming, totally interesting, and immensely attractive — women more or less ignored me or fell for someone else or gave me no encouragement at all to step out of the friend zone or even showed very clearly how decidedly they were not interested, further increasing the stench of despair on my side.

Anyway, this trying didn't help, not once. Not once did it lead to anything. I just felt lonely and broken and hurt, and did I mention lonely? In any of these stretches I gave up after a while, felt numb, passive, no longer hopeful enough to even try or even to be interested to try, too numb to even be desperate. Healed a bit.

And then, suddenly, that relationship thing came up from behind and bit me in the ass. Met someone new, or someone I already knew suddenly and explicitly showed interest, or I suddenly developed interest in someone I knew and it was reciprocated just so, *WHAM!*, mutual attraction, falling in love, bliss. Unexpected, out of the blue, effortless.


TL;DR: you can try. But in my experience, trying does not help. Trying leads to frustration and despair. Only not trying helps. At which point I am nearly at "there is no trying"...

[Just to be clear, what I describe here is a thing of the past. I have been happily married for a while now.]
jyrgenn: Blurred head shot from 2007 (Default)
I am interested in programming languages in general. In particular, I was always intrigued by how another programming language can offer me new possibilities to express my programs and allow me to grow as a programmer.

I learned my first one in school. The computers there — a room full of PET 2001s, when they were new — had only BASIC, which frustrated me soon. At the university, I started out with a course in Pascal and did quite some programming on the side in it. Pascal filled many of the gaps that I had found annoying with BASIC too soon.

For fun I learned the basics of FORTRAN, but never had any real use for it. Modula-II came along, even for largish programming assignments, but didn't really catch my interest. I found Ada more interesting, but had little opportunity to use it outside of the process control course. I looked a bit into Forth, but again had no real application to get some practice.

It was when I got to C that I was finally hooked. That was, finally, "the real thing", in a way, and a language that served me well, not only in the technical sense — for most of my professional life, it was one of the main things that kept me well-fed.

There were other interesting languages I learned at the university, Tcl, for instance, not the greatest language, but a very easily embeddable interpreter. For a while, I put one into every major program I wrote. I learned a little of Prolog, but not enough, which I regret.

But I was fascinated by functional languages and got a bit more productive in that field — Lisp, Hope, ML mainly. Lisp was the only one that I built an implementation for myself — or, rather, more than one. First for an assignment, together with a co-student, in Modula-II. We did not like some of the requirements in that course, and not so much the implementation language, so afterwards, we did a similar one in C. Years later, I made a Lisp interpreter in Java, and still later another one in C. All these are not really complete — in particular the garbage collector of the latter is a bit too eager and collects away things it shouldn't —, but both do implement a small but "real" Lisp, one that can use recursion and higher-order functions and has the basic builtins available. In between I have written one in Go, which is the most complete of all of them, although still in the My Favourite Toy Language category rather than a useful programming environment.

As mentioned, C was instrumental to most of the professional jobs I had, and the one I currently have. But others came into view, mainly Perl. Perl has even become the default language for me when I want to try something or have to implement just a bit of functionality. This is not because I value Perl so highly for its technical merits, but it is available everywhere, everybody knows it, so many things are admittedly much easier to do in Perl than in C, and consequently Perl has become a kind of habit. I am not the biggest fan of Perl, though; I find it inelegant and clumsy in places, and seductively encouraging questionable programming habits in others. Still, often it gets things done with relatively little effort.

There are others that I found interesting on the way, but have not found enough time (and practical use) to really learn them — Lua, SNOBOL, and APL (or J, rather) come to mind. I will have to work with JavaScript soonish, but I am strongly meh about it.

Then I saw more and more of Go. An article about it by Rob Pike finally made me dig into it, something I had been wanting to do for a while. Now that seems to be a fine language, with great ideas built into it, while still catering to the habits of programmers who grew up with C and its descendants. Go has the potential to give me back some of the fun I head with C 20 years ago, by combining ease and pragmatism (like in Perl) with a, finally, elegant language (although not as elegant as Lisp or the more modern functional languages). I'll see; for now I haven't done more than a few sample programs and the abovementioned Lisp interpreter in Go.

Then there is Haskell. I became curious about Haskell already in the early 90s, when I had contact with other functional languages as a student (see above). Someone passed me an article about Haskell in, I think, the ACM SIGPLAN Notices. Haskell was still new then, but in between it has matured for a few decades and is still there, which I assume is a good sign. As I always liked functional programming, this may be something to go with.

Now the biggest obstacle in adopting a new programming language for myself is not the difficulty of learning it and getting up to speed for real tasks, but other people. While my workplace has, to my regrets, a culture of people mostly doing their development projects alone, it is still considered important that someone else will be able to fix things when the original author is on vacation, or to do further development after the original author has left. I agree with that, of course. But that makes it difficult to adopt a new programming language when the others are just not interested in doing the same. And alas, it appears they are not.

Besides shell scripts, we work with C and — mostly — Perl, but I would love to do things in Go or Haskell. And I would like to do that at work, to make my work easier and more interesting. But as there is no one to take over a project done in one of these languages, I cannot do that. (There is one who would be interested enough in Go, I guess, but he is a student and will leave us in a year or two.) That is quite frustrating. Perhaps I should try to initiate a kind of consensus which language we should adopt next — but I am afraid there is too little interest to leave the beaten tracks of C and Perl. After all, they have already adopted Perl as a new laguage not even twenty years ago, so why do something like that again so soon?

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