Monthly Archives: April 2010

Late notice

Notice of works: No parking for two days (March 4th-5th)Once upon a time a notice went up, warning motorists not to park on a short stretch of road because works were to be done.  That was for March 4th for two days.  It’s still there, and the works have gone through a number of phases chronicled in part here, here and here.

Following my last post here – the one where they’d outright poisoned my home for two days – I went and had a word with the local paper.  I had already complained to environmental health, but their response came only on the third day as the offending engine was being removed.  The story I thought might interest the paper is the contrast: how they’d gone to the trouble to protect those overhead wires but hadn’t even bothered to tell the residents what we were to be subjected to.

The reporter called the council, and (probably) as a consequence of that they’ve finally notified us of what’s going on, with apologies for “late notice”.  A result of sorts, though it’s to be a minimum of another three weeks, and with no detail of how much more nuisance to expect.

April 27th: Notice was finally sent to us!

April 27th: Notice was finally sent to us!


A slightly-belated spring is now clearly upon us.  Apart from the weather, which moved very rapidly from a cold winter to bright&sunny around the beginning of the month, we have the flowers in bloom, and a rapid growth in wildlife activity.

Two things in particular mark the season.  This weekend I bought some rhubarb and made a crumble of it, marking the beginning of a delicious season of fresh, sweet fruit and veg that runs through the summer soft fruits to the autumn’s blackberries and apples, plums and pears.  I’ve spotted rhubarb before, but now I can believe it’s genuine local fresh stuff, as opposed to grown under very-artificial conditions or imported.

Then last night, I heard a rich buzzing sound.  Actually rather easier on the ear than a bee or big fly, this large and rather beautiful wasp shut up fairly quickly and settled on the top of the curtain.  I went to the kitchen to fetch a large jar with screw-on lid[1], but on my return I couldn’t see it anywhere, even after shaking the curtains and other soft things.  Oops!  Carefully shake the duvet and pillows before returning to bed.  Hear it later, but by now I’m sufficiently relaxed to ignore it, and in the morning all I needed to do was encourage it out of the window.  A bit of research today tells me I just met a queen hornet!

[1] Plan: leave it in the jar overnight, and take it out to the garden in the morning.

Apache TrafficServer

Congratulations to Leif Hedstrom and everyone else on the TrafficServer on graduating to an official Apache project, soon to be at

TrafficServer is a high-performance web proxy/cache/accelerator.  It started life with Inktomi, and passed to Yahoo when they bought Inktomi.  Last year Yahoo donated it to Apache, since when it’s been in the Incubator.  In that time it’s started to build a diverse and welcoming community (though obviously Yahoo employees still feature heavily), and taken on the shape and form of a healthy Apache project.

Trafficserver’s chief claim to fame is that it manages the majority of Yahoo’s total web traffic[1], thus demonstrating extreme scalability running in a ‘cloud-like’ configuration on low-cost commodity hardware.  It also has a decent set of user-level documentation, so it should be straightforward to test-drive even if you’re uncertain whether it will be well-suited to your needs.

Congratulations also to the other newly-graduated Apache projects Mahout, Nutch, Tika, Avro and HBase.  One day I may find the time to look at some of them.

[1] If I understand aright.

Obese, but not fat

Those who know me, or have known me since nineteenninetysomething, will be familiar with the ample middle-age paunch, promising a Falstaffian (can I say that?) profile in my later years.  Well, erm, I happen to like the Buddha a whole lot better than other religious figures, so I’m following a good role model 😛

On Tuesday I went to Exeter, for an extensive medical checkup.  It’s a perk of the job: I’m entitled to this every two years.  They measured me and confirmed that I should lose several inches from the waistline which is, in modern terminology, obese.  But they also performed a body fat measurement, and found 17%, which is bang in the middle of the healthy range (14-20%) for a man of my age.

So it’s official.  I’m obese but not fat.  Not even a little bit fat!

Happy to say most of their tests showed good health.  But to share detail of everything would be TMI.

It gets worse

I’ve complained before about noise from the works outside the window.  Now they’re filling my flat with diesel fumes:

An exhaust pointing upwards is presumably designed to protect the workers from being poisoned by the thick clouds of diesel.  But it doesn’t help when you’re looking down from two floors up (and yes, believe it or not, that’s not steam in that plume – just diesel fumes).  Perhaps we should require the exhaust to point downwards, so that the workers’ interests (health and safety) are aligned with the neighbours.

I suspect that’s also why the wires on the far side of the road have got that orange cladding on to protect them (it was put up last week).  The powers that be don’t want to risk the infrastructure, but I guess their responsibility ends at the door or window to private property.  Hmmm, no, that still doesn’t explain why the owner of the wires was warned while we weren’t.

The machine is noisy too, though not quite as bad as some of what they’ve had.  I suppose I should be grateful none of them are inflicting a ghetto-blaster on us.


Eyjafjallajökull sends a cloud of dust into the sky. Airlines are grounded, and start to grumble. Now we hear that Ryanair, the veteran of the tantrum that has made a successful business model of throwing its toys out of the pram, wants special treatment.  Specifically, exemption from EU rules requiring them to look after delayed passengers.

Well, no sympathy here.  You know the rules, and have often sought to bend them to the limits.  If your business model lacks contingency or insurance, that’s your failure.  Any special treatment now would be a kick in the teeth for the competition who make provision for a disaster, as well as for whoever loses out, be it your customers or the taxpayer.

More sympathy for individuals who are stranded.  Those who reasonably thought themselves insured only to face substantial uninsured costs have a legitimate grievance.

Let’s just hope the politicians don’t meddle in this.  If government were dictating fly/no fly, or changing the rules on the flyhoof, then the airlines could legitimately claim against them (or rather, the long-suffering taxpayer).  That doesn’t necessarily mean they’d get anything (Railtrack or Northern Rock shareholders had valid claims that they sustained losses due to government action and should therefore be compensated), but it’s a mess.  So long as we stick with an existing non-political framework to control the matter, it remains a clean commercial issue between the airlines and their insurers.

What, no insurance?  Whose fault is that?  Not the taxpayers!  Your problem – you deal with it.  Though I fear those airlines that richly deserve to go bust (chiefly BA and Ryanair) may alas not be the ones to do so.

Longer-term, this may be a Very Good Thing.  Maybe finally Alice can start to get her way somewhere more mainstream!

On the slow train

When Flanders and Swann romanticised the memory of the slow train (at a time when many lines were closing, and they may have envisaged the prospect of its complete disappearance), one of their chief tools was the long list of evocative place names.  The (unglamorous) slow train was to be written into history as an element of the mythical rural idyll for whose ruin it had no doubt once been blamed.

Inexplicably they omitted Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the place famous for its name and nothing else.  It’s still a station served by some of our remaining slow trains, and I couldn’t resist taking a snap of the old-fashioned station when I found myself on a train stopping there en route home from Ireland.  Although the name is descriptive, I can’t help feeling it owes more to the Welsh tradition of having a quiet laugh (c.f. Llareggub Hill, that creation of the most famous bard since Taliesin) than to the more prosaic and succinct place naming conventions that give us names like Plymouth or Aberystwyth.  Even the most expansive English names, like Buckland Monachorum just a few miles from here, don’t come close.

Should’ve stayed in Ireland


The works outside had become a lot quieter since about Easter.  Now it’s back to a level of major physical pain, even with earplugs and closed windows.

Should’ve stayed in the Wicklow mountains and had some fun.  Would’ve worried about work, but being here right now is worse than nothing.  Can’t even think enough to write.

Weekend with a difference

The apache meetup has been very different to bigger ApacheCon and comparable (or bigger) conference events[1].  It feels like a halfway house between a holiday and a working event.  The smaller numbers and informal agenda, coupled with the remote location and fine weather, make for an altogether more intimate event.  Within an hour or two of arriving I’d met two of my esteemed HTTPD colleagues who had hitherto been just names, along with (of course) a lot of other old and new friends.

The downside?  Having to get up at 5am to travel out here, and nearly as early tomorrow for the return journey.  And the youth-hostel accommodation, including the mandatory snorer (though the four-man room is, these days, en-suite) And being isolated here leaves no choice but to eat food that … left something to be desired.  Though come to think of it, it was better than the food ApacheCon 2003 in Las Vegas, when I first gave a public presentation on an Apache topic.

Thanks to Noirin for organising the event!

[1] There is no ApacheCon in Europe this year.  This low-budget developer-only meet is all.

The Apache Way

For this weekend’s Apache meetup in Knockree, co. Wicklow, we’ve got some gorgeous spring weather.  So much we took this morning’s sessions outdoors on the lawns.  Here folks gather for ASF president Justin to lead discussion of the Apache Way.

This afternoon we briefly took time out for a walk, to see a little of the scenic splendour of the Wicklow mountains.  Missing my kitchen, but I’ll survive a weekend of roughing it.