Monthly Archives: March 2014


Next weekend is a real highlight of the musical calendar.  I’m due to sing in not one but two concerts, and can thoroughly recommend both of them to anyone in the area.

The first is on Saturday April 5th, where Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony is the major work in a concert by the EMG Symphony Orchestra at Exeter Cathedral.  This is the same group and same inspirational director with whom I sang in Mahler’s 8th symphony a year and a half ago, now returning to another only slightly less huge but perhaps even more glorious choral symphony from the same era.  Don’t miss it!

The second is on Sunday April 6th with my regular choir the Plymouth Philharmonic, who are performing Dvořák’s Stabat Mater at the Guildhall, Plymouth.  This is my first time in this unjustly-neglected work.  In complete contrast to the glorious exuberance of the sea symphony, this is a contemplative poem on the most tragic story in the Christian corpus, set by the 19th-century master best known for his gorgeous symphonies.  Another one not to miss, especially if, like me, you don’t already know this work!

Looking forward to an exhausting but intensely rewarding weekend!

2005 revisited

Yesterday’s budget sounded a note of optimism.  The economy is growing, the deficit is shrinking, and …

… hang on …

… the deficit?  We’re running a still-huge deficit when we’re in the cyclical boom?   Right, straight back to the bubble-economics that got us into trouble in the first place!

2005 was kind-of the opposite.  The economy was slowing, the credit bubble had grown beyond sustainable, house prices were stumbling, and we were staring at recession.  The government of the day spent its way out with a huge dose of Ballsian stimulus: add fuel to the fire, buy a couple more years feelgood at the price of turning that recession into the biggest slump for 30 years.

The chancellor of the day rationalised breaking his own rules by explaining that when he had talked of a balanced budget, he meant over the economic cycle.  So at the bottom of the cycle in 2005 he would spend more, and make it up when the economy recovered.  Ed Balls said much the same even as his idea collapsed in flames.  And now … today’s chancellor has made clear his own commitment to Osbrownomics: run a huge structural deficit and – currently – claim the credit when a cyclical boom takes a few quid off the headline figure.

Hmmm … not really so different to 2005 after all …

On the plus side, the mood music about savings is a real change, and a welcome one.  It will probably work for some time, propped up by “safe haven” status for the global super-rich.  But that of course is another bubble involving prostituting our economy most wantonly!  One day sentiment towards Sterling will change, and then what can survive a round of Weimar inflation in commodities including food and energy?


Q: When does a stable system start to go bad?
A: When you install a non-open package with privileges.

This morning my laptop with Debian Wheezy has shown its first signs of software trouble outside of my control.  The Cisco AnyConnect VPN client, which I installed to be able to access $employer-intranet from it, refused to start up.  No error messages, just that I double-click the launch icon and nothing happens.

I have some relevant information in syslog:

Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: ClientIfcBase File: ClientIfcBase.cpp Line: 162 Initializing vpnapi version 2.5.3051 ().
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: loadProfiles File: ProfileMgr.cpp Line: 112 No profile is available.
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: fileExists File: Utility/sysutils.cpp Line: 500 Invoked Function: _tstat Return Code: 2 (0x00000002) Description: unknown File: /opt/cisco/vpn/AnyConnectLocalPolicy.xml Error: No such file or directory
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Current Preference Settings: CertificateStoreOverride: false CertificateStore: All ShowPreConnectMessage: false AutoConnectOnStart: false MinimizeOnConnect: true LocalLanAccess: false AutoReconnect: true AutoUpdate: true ProxySettings: Native AllowLocalProxyConnections: true PPPExclusion: Disable PPPExclusionServerIP: EnableScripting: false TerminateScriptOnNextEvent: false AuthenticationTimeout: 12
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: CvcGtkNotifyBalloon File: CvcGtkNotifyBalloon.cpp Line: 87 Invoked Function: dlopen Return Code: -33554427 (0xFE000005) Description: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: connectTransport File: IPC/SocketTransport_unix.cpp Line: 711 Invoked Function: ::connect Return Code: 111 (0x0000006F) Description: unknown
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: connectIpc File: IPC/IPCTransport.cpp Line: 246 Invoked Function: CSocketTransport::connectTransport Return Code: -31522804 (0xFE1F000C) Description: SOCKETTRANSPORT_ERROR_CONNECT
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: terminateIpcConnection File: IPC/IPCTransport.cpp Line: 385 Invoked Function: CSocketTransport::writeSocketBlocking Return Code: -31522783 (0xFE1F0021) Description: SOCKETTRANSPORT_ERROR_NOT_CONNECTED
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: initIpc File: ApiIpc.cpp Line: 299 Invoked Function: CIpcTransport::connectIpc Return Code: -31522804 (0xFE1F000C) Description: SOCKETTRANSPORT_ERROR_CONNECT
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: initiateAgentConnection File: ApiIpc.cpp Line: 214 Invoked Function: ApiIpc::initIpc Return Code: -31522804 (0xFE1F000C) Description: SOCKETTRANSPORT_ERROR_CONNECT
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: attach File: ClientIfcBase.cpp Line: 405 Client failed to attach.
Mar 14 08:43:57 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: run File: ApiIpc.cpp Line: 387 Invoked Function: ApiIpc::initiateAgentConnection Return Code: -31522804 (0xFE1F000C) Description: SOCKETTRANSPORT_ERROR_CONNECT
Mar 14 08:43:58 mimir vpnui[861]: Function: detach File: ClientIfcBase.cpp Line: 288 Shutting down vpnapi

OK, that gives me some things to check and messages to google. Lots of results, people experiencing similar though not identical grief.  Seems often to happen when something gets upgraded.  OK, let’s see if reinstalling the VPN client fixes anything.

But first, ensure the system is fully up-to-date.  Now apt gives me another, rather more worrisome message, repeated many times:

insserv: Starting vpnagentd_init depends on minissdpd and therefore on system facility `$all’ which can not be true!

Dammit, it’s running an agent behind my back.  Grrr …

After that, re-installing the VPN client fixed it, and I may have to repeat that when I reboot in future (which I rarely do – suspend is more convenient).  But now I have a system error.  Is this the start of a slippery slope to an unstable system?

A promising solution is here.  Let’s hope!