Redemption Ark Review
Posted in Books, Reviews
First dog watch, 3 bells (5:51 pm)

I just finished reading Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds. While technically called the second book of the series, following Revelation Space, I would suggest reading Chasm City between Revelation and Redemption. The following is my LibraryThing review:

Wow, where do I start? This book was an incredible journey.

According to Reynolds' website, this is the second book of the Revelation Space series, with Chasm City being a separate, stand-alone novel you can read any time. However, I would strongly suggest reading it in between Revelation Space and Redemption Ark. There are people and happenings that you will understand better if you read Chasm City first.

In any case, Redemption Ark is the next piece of the story. The Conjoiners are seeking the hell-class weapons that were stolen by the Ultras and placed onboard Nostalgia for Infinity, their lighthugger vessel. Much more is explained about the Conjoiners and where they came from. One of the main characters, Nevil Clavain, is a conjoiner with some special history, being one of the first. When Galiana, the founder of the Conjoiners and Clavain's lover, returns from a deep space mission as the only surviving member of the expedition, the other Conjoiners find she's been infected by "the Wolf"--an ancient race of robots that are also known as the Inhibitors. Their sole mission is to seek out and repress the emergence of intelligent, space-faring life.

The Conjoiners are seeking their stolen hell-class weapons, and know that they are on board the Nostalgia for Infinity. They prepare to launch a mission to reclaim them with Clavain at the head. Clavain, after being introduced to some Conjoiner secrets and new technology, realizes that the other Conjoiners are preparing a mass exodus from human space and away from the Inhibitors, whom they know will be arriving soon. They plan on leaving without telling anyone, or even warning them of the dangers to come. Clavain immediately defects, realizing that the Conjoiners, or at least their current leadership, has evolved into something different than what they used to be. Clavain meets several other people on his way to turn himself and knowledge of the new Conjoiner technology of inertial suppression over to the authorities, but is captured by a man called 'H' (Sky Haussmann from the Chasm City story). H sends him on basically the same mission the Conjoiners would have, but to keep the weapons under the control of someone that would use them for the good of everyone.

At first I thought the Inhibitors were just a clone of Saberhagen's Berserkers, machines programmed to eliminate life where ever it is found, but as the story progressed I realized there were several key differences which made them unique. Reynolds explains the Fermi paradox (without calling it that) and how the Inhibitors are responsible for culling the emerging intelligent races throughout the universe. We also find the reason behind it--the galactic collision between our galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy 13 billion years in the future.

Unfortunately, the Inhibitors have already arrived at Delta Pavonis, the system where the Nostalgia for Infinity is located. They destroy several uninhabited worlds for the raw materials to build a giant gravitational laser that will cause the star to burn the remaining planets of the Delta Pavonis system. Clavain is now in a much trickier situation, between the Inhibitors, the evacuation of 200,000 people from Resurgam, and the recapturing of the of the stolen hell-class weapons.

It was a fun ride, and Reynolds is a great science fiction author. I didn't find any explanations of scientific things too far above my head nor so detailed that it wasn't fun to read. There was just enough explanation to make everything plausible.

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Yet More Snow
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:49 am)

We got several more inches of snow last night, and it's still snowing outside right now. Someday Spring will come. Unless the next ice age is beginning. To hell with global warming, this is the longest winter we've had here in a long time.

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WordPress Upgrade
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:38 am)

Well WordPress just released their latest version, 2.5, to the public. I, being the generally techy guy that I am, instantly upgraded without fear. And I was justified. It took me under 2 minutes to back everything up by hand, unpack the new files, copy them, re-apply my comment spam patch, and now I'm up and running. Yay for upgrades!

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Puzzle Games
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:18 pm)

A cow-orker of mine (Susan) recommended Zak and Wiki as a super good puzzle game for the Wii. Lorien really loves puzzle games, so I thought we'd try it out.

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Sucked In
Posted in Books
Morning watch, 8 bells (8:20 am)

Once again, I've become sucked in by another good book by Alastair Reynolds—this time it's Redemption Ark, the next book in the Revelation Space series. All I can say is wow.

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Note To Self
Posted in Tech
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:11 pm)

Yesterday I ran in to a problem compiling a program on a remote linux server I have. It's fairly old, and there aren't a lot of newer packages available for it. Two years ago I downloaded the latest version of the GCC Compiler because I needed some newer features that weren't available in the ancient bundled compiler. I made some changes on the system and had to update some libraries and change some symbolic links.

Well, fast forward two years to yesterday: after running ldconfig, perhaps for the first time since then, I found I could no longer run any program I compiled. I kept getting a weird error about /lib/libgcc_s.so not being the right GCC version. When I went to that directory, I found a readme file called libgcc_s.so.README. When I read it, it was a note I wrote to myself two years ago about the change I had made and that this would probably break something. Funny thing is I don't even remember writing the note.

Anyway, I updated my /etc/ld.so.conf file (it didn't have /usr/local/lib in it), which was the root of the problem, re-ran ldconfig and everything worked great.

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Cooper’s Chute?
Posted in News
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:37 am)

Looks like they may have found DB Cooper's parachute. I wonder how this one will play out.

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Drive Space
Posted in Tech
First dog watch, 4 bells (6:02 pm)

I had a problem today with one of my servers, the bulletin board software that runs on it started sending me errors, and it turns out that the partition ran out of space. Turns out the strange partition manager (some kind of logical volume manager) had a bunch of unallocated space, I just didn't know about it. It turns out that when I wrangled the space up, created a new device for the partition manager and got it formatted, things started working out. I moved some files on the offending partition to the new one, created some symbolic links, fixed the fstab entry, then ran some diagnostics on the SQL tables and fixed several errors. Now everything's peachy.

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Technical Nightmare
Posted in Dreams
First dog watch, 3 bells (5:57 pm)

The other day I had a technical nightmare (a dream, not IRL). I had a very important file to print out, but it could only be read by a special EEPROM only found in arcade stand-up Pac Man games. I had to go to Las Vegas to find one, it was very frustrating, and weird.

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Easter Bunny Dead At 7
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 2 bells (1:02 pm)

My wife is up in arms about Easter. Apparently her sister's oldest (7 years old) boy asked his mom why the Easter Bunny didn't come this year and bring them baskets or hide eggs and she told him the Easter Bunny isn't real.

What is the right age for kids to find out about this stuff? Who's next on the hit list? Santa? The tooth fairy?

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Have You Been Saved?
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:19 am)

Yesterday my wife and I drove by Davis Donuts at the corner of 4th and Appleway, where the sign said something about have you been saved. My wife read it out loud. She then said, "saved from what?" To which I responded, "being skinny."

Lorien then said something about most Americans could live for two weeks off the fat in their bodies. I responded, "yeah, and the skinny people that die off first will be the ones the ex-fat people are eating."

Somehow I've turned being overweight into a defense mechanism against cannibalism. Or at least being on the good side of cannibalism. The eating and not being-eaten side.

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Peep Show!
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:48 pm)

Just in time for Easter, yay!

Peep show!

Thanks to John S., who sent this to me in an email!

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Server Room Day
Posted in Tech
Afternoon watch, 8 bells (4:16 pm)

Today was a Server Room Day. I spent almost all of my time in there. We've been having some trouble with our source code server that was, at first, being blamed on our backup procedure. It was found out today that the problem is a corrupt file that the revision control software uses. These files can be rebuilt, and to top it off we've purchased a newer, faster server to replace this one as well.

So to test things out, I formatted the new server (Quad Core Xeon, 4Gb RAM, 1Tb RAID5, Windows Server 2003 x64) and restored files from tape. I could have copied them from the current server, but this was a good time to test our disaster recovery process from the beginning. Everything went fine, until I tried to rebuild the database files—the backup copy of the journal file that keeps track of changes between checkpoints has a problem on line 7,388,817. Yeah, that's gonna be fun to track down…

Anyway, the server seems to be working good, but I'm still going to have to come in tomorrow and do the final migration and swapping out of the old server. The licensing is tied to the machine's IP address, so it can't really even be tested before it gets rolled out.

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Even More Snow
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:07 pm)

We got four more inches of snow today.

When will it end?????

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New Book
Posted in Books
Afternoon watch, 3 bells (1:59 pm)

I picked up Goblin War by Jim C. Hines. I can't wait to read it, although it does sound like it may be the last book about Jig!

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