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Tue, May. 8th, 2012, 08:04 pm
Dtrace on Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit

So my boss recently recommended that I watch Bryan Cantrill's talk on Dtrace. Unfortunately it wasn't until the end of video, after I'd been thoroughly seduced by dreams of widely usable production-safe software testing, that the other shoe dropped: this toy is for Solaris and BSD, and with a license (CDDL) that appears designed to make it difficult to include in the GPL ecosystem.

Thankfully, I'm not the only one to say "fuck that with a largish cactus". Since the instructions to getting it going were somewhat baroque and hard to find, I'm endeavoring to collect a little HOWTO here. Thanks to lazyswamp for the instructions I'm cribbing from, Paul Fox for the Linux port, and Cantrell, Shapiro, and Leventhal for the original code.
# Set up the build environment
sudo aptitude install bison flex zlib1g-dev libelf-dev libc6-dev-i386 binutils-dev libdwarf-dev
git clone https://github.com/dtrace4linux/linux.git dtrace-linux

# Install (or reinstall)
cd dtrace-linux
git pull
make clean
make all
make test # Optional, but good practice and interesting to watch
sudo make unload
sudo make install
sudo make load
Next step is probably getting this into a Chef cookbook, so I can easily deploy it on Infochimp's servers. I might also be convinced to undertake a .deb packaging, if enough people mention an interest. I've not cut one before, but it's a skill worth knowing.

(Edit: No, next step is "learn D". Hrmm . . . )

Mon, Feb. 27th, 2012, 10:08 pm
After Effects

While going through her effects after her death, I found this in Reesa's email:

Nathan's mom might contact you guys by email just to get a second perspective on his behavior, per the conversation we all had up here the other day about something in Nathan being broken and him unwilling to fix it. She seems to think an intervention would work; I think that he doesn't trust anyone enough for an intervention to have any effect from any of us. After getting her perspective, it sounds like he's had this bullying behavior for quite a long time and just managed to hide it fairly well from most people.

For the sake of a peaceful memorial, I kept my mouth shut about this. It cost me a solid month of lost sleep and shouting at empty air during commutes. The memorial has past, and with it my interest in silence.

Holly Eliot:

I cannot trust you in my life anymore. You slandered me as a bully to my dying wife, an accusation which would be laugable, save that you waited until we were arguing, and that she (sick, heavily drugged, and worried) believed you. I will not rehash those arguments: a bully would have easily won them all, because he could have easily pushed around a woman in a hospital bed, strong-willed or no. That you transmuted my treatment of my dying wife as an equal (even in arguments) into this slander is vile.

I also cannot trust this to private conversation, because you were always better at whispering nasty doubts in quiet corners. This is the third major time you have attempted to pull the rug from under me, and always you have excused such behavior as well-intentioned. This time I leave no room for doubt or excuse. If your intentions are as good as you claim, they are so ill-executed as to be indistinguisable from raw malice. Far more believable is that you are a sad control-freak, who bent her own nose out of shape running into ever firmer boundaries of mine, and who would rather think her son evil than herself at fault.

I will not exclude you from the lives of your grandchildren, but I also feel no urge to foster those relationships. Your shitty behavior leading up to the memorial impressed nobody, and left Dylan uninterested (of his own accord) in visiting with you further. Iliana is too young to know what you've done here, but it will be your responsibility to work through the layers of distrust you have engendered, in arranging any further visits.

I am utterly disinterested in any other interaction with you.

I am sure you will, sometime in the future, try to apologize for this. Know that I have heard your apologies many times, and their sincerity has only been rivaled by their inability to prevent this (or other intervening wrongs). There may come a time when I trust you once more, but I cannot see how you could get there from here. You have backed yourself into a corner, and I've got no sympathy left to help you get out again.

Everyone Else:

Holly Eliot doesn't know me: she has simply played the part, based on a years-old acquaintance. She has slandered my good name repeatedly, causing others and myself many times to doubt that I am the strong, capable, hard-working, honorable, and kind man that years of proof have shown me to be. Reesa spoke passionately against this mistreatment in its earlier instances, and while I'm sad that she finally got tricked by it, I am not convinced.

If you consider yourself my friend, know fully and completely that Holly Eliot isn't, and act accordingly when she next attempts to "intervene" in my life.

In Sadness and Anger,

Nathaniel Eliot

Tue, Jul. 12th, 2011, 05:37 pm
d20 Monster: The Sinking Cities

The d20 Monster campaign grew out of several frustrations. While I've been able to get some gaming in during all of this, the adult campaign I'm in is intermittent and not really appropriate for a 13-year-old. I'd missed a whole lot of play time with my son while his mother was fighting me, and all the events of this last year have taken their toll on our previously scheduled game time (a Friday night card-game night). And I'm currently the only one available to run a game regularly at our house, but my last campaign fizzled when the plot got more complex than my ability to manage it.

So the simultaneous goals are:
  • Run a game enjoyable to a thirteen-year-old.
  • Run a game enjoyable to my adult friends.
  • Spend as little energy on prep as possible.
What emerged is a burlesque noir sandbox d20 blog mashup. It will be epic. It will be gritty. It will not be overly serious. It will have serious enemies, who will often try to kill the PCs for their presumption.

It's set in the center of the Sinking Cities, a huge metropolis cursed by She-Who-Lives-Beyond-The-Waves to a slow watery death for a failure to pay tribute. Largely abandoned by the Tawy, the Tengu/Yuan-Ti/Gnoll empire that built it on the backs of human slaves, the metropolis has become a haven for all kinds of monsters (including the human kind) and other miscreants unlucky enough to be dropped there.

Which the PCs (monsters of the non-human sort) have been, by the Overseer of Tawy, a ghoulish vizier to her majesty Hssspatia. In their first two days, they have tangled with lizard men, carnivorous vines, avaricious kobolds, and dangerous humans. They've made enemies of powerful guilds, and friends of fools and the downtrodden. They've been transported, held for ransom, hired for a posh party, assaulted, and tricked into a home invasion. None of them have died yet, but its only a matter of time . . .

(ObDad: Dylan understood the concept immediately, and is picking up the rules quickly. The first session was slow, but also competing for attention with Minecraft; second session he hit his stride. Watching him buff his flail with a bit of liquor and his ifrit's innate fire abilities, and then improvise passing a guard at the party a drink when collared, was great. He also ate a bee, got sat on by a fat lady, and smashed a window to help get party-goers out when the house they were in got attacked. Whoot!)

What will happen next? I have no idea. That's the point of a sandbox: the PCs have been given some starting motivations, and a setting that encourages single-session adventuring from a common point (thus allowing players flexibility in attendance without disrupting the game).

Now it's their job to provide the plot, while I make the setting react try to kill them.

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011, 04:36 am
Carry On, Carry On

So the overwhelming response seems to be "keep it together", with a couple of "well, what do you intend?"s (and a technical "and my axe!" from cavorite, vis the underlying CMMess problem). The question as to what I want to do with this is fair, and since it was asked twice and I'm lazy: I don't know, exactly.

At first glance, it seems to be mostly to get writing again. I liked writing publicly, but the way I did it required more mental effort than I can spare at the moment. Finding ways to make it fit better into the new routines requires regular practice. Hat-tip to my wonderful wife, for leading by impressive example here.

There's an element of wanting to build the stream of technical braggadocio which seems the calling card of the 21st century alpha-geek. Reading those blogs can be heady pipelines of technical information, but at the expense of general applicability: I've stopped reading some tech blogs simply due to an overwhelming stream of talk about tools I don't use.

So for now, I'm going to stick to one stream and tagging. That's what I'm familiar with, and changing things when I'm not sure how I want them to change seems foolish. It may prove to be "wrong", but (at least in computers) a consistent wrong choice is often much easier to fix than intermittent or poorly applied cleverness. (Speaking of which: hello, Facebook and Twitter!)

Up next: inter-generational D&D for the exhausted.

Mon, Jun. 27th, 2011, 08:37 pm
To Cross The Streams, Or Not To

::tap:: ::tap:: ::tap::
"Is this thing on?"

So . . . yeah. I've been pretty quiet for a while.

Lots of reasons for that, and thankfully enough of them were good reasons that it has balanced the bad reasons. Iliana Wednesday Eliot Brown was born March 30th, having decided that another month wait was just not going to do. Dylan continues to be an awesome teenager, alternating between astounding maturity and intentionally childish absurdity, sometimes in the span of a sentence or less. The job with National Instruments failed to go full-time just after Christmas, but I've launched into a new position with InfoChimps, which is far closer aligned to my interests: full of heady challenges on bleeding edge technologies.

But Reesa's back in the hospital, because during the unscannable months of pregnancy cancer took root in her spine and hip, and the chemo and radiation treatments didn't catch it quick enough to avoid a massive cascade of pain and mobility loss. She's recovering, but its slow and frustrating going for her and everyone around her. Between that, last year, and all the other surprise drains on my energy, I hit a wall of exhaustion. In true Eliot fashion, I've been head-butting through it, but at the expense of some of my image (hah!) as a polite and gentle soul.

On the gripping hand1: there's a good team here, in several respects. It's all mashed up of smaller teams, and the coordination problems and hurt reactions can make it hard to see it working, sometimes. But it's there, and part of what keeps being promised to me is space and time to recuperate.

And since writing is one of my outlets, I should probably get it going again. However, I'm at a bit of an impasse here. The trend in blogging has been toward blogs with a single topic, and that seems to the most sensible response to the state of the technology and the art; there just aren't enough readers and platforms that allow per-topic subscription to allow for multi-topic blogs. But the alternative is that I make three or more blogs, all of which get 1/3 of my already meager writing time.

So what do you think? I can see a few alternatives:
  • Buck the trend, be a rebel, and pour it all out in one place. Write about bleeding edge computer technology, tabletop role-playing games for teenagers, and family cancer-survival all in one stream. Tag for those weaklings who must see only one side of it.
  • Write 3+ blogs, and aggregate to another for those who want the firehose.
  • As above, but each links to the others as part of a weekly links post.
  • Some other middle ground I've not thought of, which will hopefully be suggested to me by one of the three of you still reading.

  1.  The Gripping Hand, this month's five-pages-a-night reading material. Good stuff.

Sun, Jun. 12th, 2011, 07:18 pm
Help Wanted: Fiscal Unfucking

Okay, lazyweb: Who can recommend a bad-ass financial adviser in the Austin area? I've got a largish mess that I need some to help cleaning up, now that I've got the stable income to do so. Personal recommendations are my best hope for finding one worth their salt.

Tue, Jan. 11th, 2011, 12:07 am
Spawn of Nathan II

I still think "negative for metastases" is pretty damn awesome, but "completely normal baby" is currently wrestling it for the Happiest Phrase Evar crown. Wednesday Addams Eliot Brown (provisional name only), ETA: late April.

Watch out, world . . .

Mon, Jan. 3rd, 2011, 01:28 pm
Why I Support Wikileaks

The choice is not for or against leaks, in any meaningful sense, though both sides are trying to make it so. Information leaks will happen, and they will happen more as technology advances. People do not understand the baroque and constantly shifting security implications of their actions, and they will be duped. National cybersecurity professionals are not immune.

The choice is between openness and poorly kept secrets. The choice is between everyone being able to reuse the data, or only the authorized and criminals being able to. The choice is between allowing average citizens to know what those working in their name are doing, or keeping them intentionally ignorant in the midst of ongoing information warfare between government, business, and criminal elites.

I prefer openness because its the only way I see that the little guy might not get chewed up and spat out without any recourse. Trusting without the capacity to verify is not governance, but the abdication of that fundamental responsibility. I prefer openness because I believe it's the best way to ensure that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Sat, May. 1st, 2010, 04:08 pm

One of the amazing things to come out of Reesa's cancer recovery has been the SpinAThon, a fiber endurance event organized by freyapax. She and several other spinners, knitters, and weavers are working around the clock, sponsored by PayPal donations, to help cover some of the sudden medical bills we've received.

They started work at midnight, and currently stand at almost 35 hours donated. Only a few more donations will put us into time promised by local celebrity skzbrust for book signings and musical entertainment. If you're in the Austin area (and we get enough donations), you can come by the event and meet the spinners, Reesa, Steve and I tomorrow. Details will be listed SpinAThon as they become available (i.e. - once freyapax gets the chance to count the donations, and post her address), or you can contact me privately.

Wed, Mar. 31st, 2010, 06:54 pm
Looking For Group

I'm looking for full-time work. The majority of my experience is in Linux administration and PHP development (recently with a Drupal focus), but I'm a polymath: there's little on the internet I haven't at least brushed past, and I'm an expert on several fields within it, ranging everywhere from computer hardware to social trends. I'm entirely self-taught, a hard worker, good both on teams and individually, and I don't let my ego get in the way.

I am currently sifting several RSS feeds for public job postings, so I have no shortage of jobs to apply to. However, each job application is a fairly involved process of multiple emails, phone calls, and interviews. It's one of the truisms in the IT industry that it's not what you know, but who you know. I know a whole lot of technology, but I've had a harder time knowing how to ask my social circle for help. Given recent events, I'd be a fool if I didn't head-butt through get past that particular mental block with alacrity.

So if you know of an IT position you could recommend me for, please pass my resume on. If you know an IT director or an HR person, ask if they need a dedicated internet guru on their team, or know someone who does. I'll also take contracts on as I can, although juggling contract work with current needs seems more difficult.

Please, and thank you.

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