All posts by Matthias Scheler

Holiday on Tenerife: The Journey

Yesterday the time had finally come: my wife and I went on our overdue holiday. We’ve a booked a week in a nice hotel on Tenerife.

Our flight left London Luton Airport at 14:45 which meant that we didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night. The drive from Cambridge took only little more than an hour and we found the long term parking without problesm. The airport is quite small but they’ve build a really nice terminal in the last two years. The restriction on hand luggage have fortunately been relaxed and we were allowed to take our backpacks (with the notebook and the digital camera inside) on the plane.
The flight was operated by Monarch Airlines. The service on board was good although not free. I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest on the onbard entertainment system and spend the rest of the time reading a book. The seating was allright because we bought an upgrade to get seats next to emergency exit.

After uneventful fours of flight time we arrived at the south Airport on Tenerife and picked up our rental car. We only booked a compact car but were lucky and got a free upgrade to a Citroën Xsara Picasso with a Diesel engine. It took as 20 minutes to get to the hotel where we finally could get some rest.

Beaver in the 21st Century

Last saturday my friend Markus finally found the time to update the hardware of his externally hosted server beaver.core.de. The update took place month later than initially planed because Markus has a very busy schedule and his hobby server is understandably not his highest priority.

The new hardware consists of an ASUS P4B266-SE motherboard, a Pentium 4 2.0A CPU and 1GB of DDR memory. While this would be step backward for mankind it was giant leap for that system. The previous hardware was built in the last century: an ASUS T2P4 motherboard, a AMD K6 III 400MHz CPU and 192MB of PS/2 EDO memory.I was looking forward to the update because beaver is also the backup DNS and mail server for my domains. I help Markus with the system administration and if you are used to the speed of a machine driven by a Pentium M CPU it is not much fun doing similar things on such old hardware. Besides the slow CPU the lack of main memory really hurt the overall performance. The machine spent a lot of time paging out memory especially while SpamAssassin was processing e-mails. The high disk throughput caused by this was probably the reason that one IDE harddisks died earlier this year. And the other harddisk has hung once recently which indicates a forthcoming failure. Fortunately beaver uses NetBSD’s software RAID driver RAIDframe which prevented a catastrophe in both cases.

The new hardware seemed to work very well at first. The machine came up fine and felt really fast. Yesterday I had another quick look and sent an e-mail to Markus that everything is allright. That was of course a bad idea because the universe doesn’t tolerate such open display of optimism. Five minutes later the machine froze for reasons which we haven’t figured out yet. It came back after being resetted manually this morning. But I guess that it wasn’t the last time that this has happened. 🙁

Things you can do when you have a fews day off

Having a few days off is great. You can relax and have some fun.

So what could we do today? What about getting the Lego model railway out of the box and play with it? Yes, great idea! Let’s put up the tracks first:

The first track layout

That are definitely not enough tracks. Let’s go to the garage and search for the box with the extra tracks that haven’t even been unpacked so far:

More Tracks

That’s more like it. Now let’s improve the layout so the tracks go all the way from the dining room to the living room:

The second track layout

Now let’s make a movie of the train. Chasing the train with the camera is not only difficult the result is also unconvincing. We need a better plan!

What about putting the camera on the train? Yes, that will work. But we need a waggon to hold the camera. Wait, this is Lego. So let’s simply built the waggon:

The Camera Waggon

Not very spectacluar but it does the job. Now we can record our train movie (please click on the picture to watch it):

The Train Move

Things we need for the future:

  1. More tracks.
  2. A better camera
  3. More Internet bandwidth for publishing movies

Anyway, that was definitely fun. 🙂