More on the Bussard Fusor (by )

As I mentioned before, Dr. Bussard is claiming to have solved the secret of fusion power generation - but now here's him giving a talk to Google about it!

UPDATE: Link fixed...

Plague! (by )

We have been down with the 'plague' ie bad colds for the last two weeks - its not been good - Jean the first to be ill is just about over it, I the second to catch it am still feeling really grotty though better than the three days I spent in bed, now Al is sickening and has had to drink large quantities of cough mixture 🙁 He gets sinus stuff bad so we have all the joys of post nasal drips with him - not good.

Just thought I'd best blog as I havent for ages!

I've also currently got an acting up pelvis - sigh - its clicking painfully agian. Its my own fault I slipped over last week at the capfire - but like away from the fire and inbetween groups - it was a bit embarrasssing as I couldnt get up and the elderly camp warden and Al dressed as a Yeti found me and helped me up. I was carrying my coffee at the time, so that was split on me and was ouchy hot as the mark on my finger testified the next day!

I also fell out of the van yesturday as I thought our back tire was on fire (long story) this added to cold and damp (I dont care that Al says its warm!) has been a bit of a pain 🙁

Anyway enough of the maoning and self pity - hopefully I'll be back on form with the posts soon!

The Eye Of Horus (by )

As I mentioned in passing before, I've been writing my own server status monitoring package, The Eye Of Horus, because I wanted to better monitor my own servers.

Well, I installed it today, both to get started with some actual monitoring and to try it out in a real environment before releasing it properly, and the first thing I found was that the load on my primary server was high. As in, around 5. And a bit of digging revealed that it was Postfix being kept busy - delivering spam.

So I upgraded postfix on it, and my backup mail server, to the most recent version in pkgsrc, and added a bunch of SMTP-level anti spam checks to take the load off of spamassassin - and pow, system load has dropped to reasonable levels again.

The Eye Of Horus has saved the day already!

It's not yet as featureful as Nagios, but it's a better architecture, so it's easier to configure and has potential to overtake Nagios in the feature stakes. I've written an optional module for it to log statistics (load average, disk space, etc) to RRDtool databases, and hooks into the Web status display CGI to allow it to link to graphs produced from RRDtool, which is pretty nice.

Merging BitTorrent and HTTP (by )

I've been kicking an idea around for a while now, so I thought I'd blog it, rather than just sit on it then feel frustrated when somebody else has it and gets RICH and FAMOUS and POPULAR...

Basically, BitTorrent makes publishing large files on the Web much less of a burden on the server than HTTP. If I put a 10MB file up on an HTTP server and give out the URL, everyone who fetches the file will transfer 10MB from my server. The same 10MB, over and over again.

If, however, I run a BitTorrent seed on my 10MB file, connecting to a tracker server, and give people the .torrent file describing my file and naming the tracker, then people with BitTorrent clients can connect to the tracker and find a list of connected clients with parts of that file (initially, just my seed client), and start fetching chunks of the file from them. As soon as a few people are downloading my file at once, they can actually start sharing chunks between themselves - my seed sends a chunk to one client, then my seed and that client are both available to send chunks to more clients. This reduces the load on my server a LOT, and thus reduces the cost of publishing large files.

Lovely stuff.

However, it's complex. Rather than dump a file in a directory on my web server and give out the URL, I have to run a tracker server, create a .torrent file, run a seed client, and distribute the .torrent file (perhaps by copying it to a directory on a web server and giving out the resulting URL).

It strikes me that one could probably write an extension to HTTP, implemented by an Apache module, that:

  1. If a GET request for a file comes in with a special header stating that the client supports it, then engaging this special behaviour. Otherwise, sending the file as normal. The server may be configured to send the file as normal if its size is below a certain limit, too.
  2. Have a tracker built into the server. I think the tracker protocol is HTTP anyway?
  3. If one does not already exist, automatically generating a .torrent for the file, naming itself as the server, and sending that as the response body

Then clients/web browsers that support it could then automatically fetch static files using BitTorrent, from servers that support it, while still maintaining perfect backwards compatibility between mixtures of old and new servers and clients, and without needing any extra admin effort (beyond perhaps installing and enabling the Apache module).

As far as I can tell, it'd be better than Web Seeding.

Little Baby Working Things Out :) (by )

Jeani-Bow is really starting to work things out!

Sunday saw her do something very intreging - I walked past with some left over chocolate from Halloween in a bowl, Jean saw it and started asking for the Yummy. I told her no she couldnt have it as it was Mummy's Yummy, she wailed in ingdignation - that old cross donald duck face again. I put the bowl on the table, Jean went quiet to my suprise as I expected more wailing. But no, instead she crawled to the other side her room to her little blue bouncy chair, then round the back of it. She then stood herself up and pushed it along - stumbling after it. She pushed it right up to the table - meaning that the bit you sit on was under the table, she then crawled under the table and onto the seat. This was where her plan failed - she kept trying to stand up on the seat but off course it was half under the table so she kept banging her head on it! But the idea was there - thought out and almost perfectly exicuted - I gave her a little piece of the marzipan off of the choc orange pumkin as she'd tried so hard. Of course I probably should have told her off for still going for something I'd told her she couldnt have!

Yesturday saw her trying to blow her noise into a square of tissue to! She only tries to do this after I've had to blow my noise though and not when hers is actually runny! If I try and wipe her nose she still pulls away as fast as possible!

She has also reached the stage where she can arrange things - ok so her dexterity is not quiet good enough for what shes trying to do but the thought processes are there - I bought some plastic block things in the same vien as her rollar balls - made by Fisher Price. I got them in a charity shop and they are supposed to be her christmass presant - they where sitting on the stairs after being washhed, waiting to be hidden. Jean told me she'd pooed and started crawling for the stairs. I followed her - she found the blocks on the stairs and begain to arrange them - first of all she moved them all up a step but insisted that they all be upside doewn so their identical (but different coloured) bottoms where all visible. The she put them in two rows - then she got very annoyed cos mummy didnt understand and put them on a different step (I was trying to encourage her to go up the stairs). Then she put them bak on the step she'd found them on - trying to restack them in their original pattern - unfortunatly shes just a bit too clumsy still to manage that one!

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