Greetings everyone! My first update in the month of September. It’s already the 13th as I write this; Monday the 13th thankfully, not Friday. Apologies for missing an update last week but if you read on you’ll see just why last weekend was so busy. There’s been gigs, recordings, interviews, podcasts, server attacks, project bail outs and far too much crying over broken CSS code. Plenty for us to talk about then, so let’s not delay any more.
We’ve had a couple of weeks break from Linux Outlaws as Fab went off to Italy for a holiday, touring around in the Twingo and meeting up with various FOSS people along the way as well. All sounds very nice. I wouldn’t mind a holiday myself after the last couple of weeks. I didn’t let my podcasting skills get rusty during this time as I again co-hosted FLOSS Weekly. This time talking to Dan Scott and Mike Rylander about the Evergreen library software. As I said on the show, I believe libraries and Open Source go together so well because they’re both about sharing information for the public benefit, knowledge is power. The interview went well and I think my improved HD camera and some network tweaks have fixed everything on my end. Unfortunately we spent most of the show talking to Dan alone and not Mike. I say that not because Dan wasn’t a fantastic guest, he was, but Mike was having real connection problems and every time he tried to answer a question it was cut off. He must have spent most of the show trying to reconnect and get a word in. I felt sorry for him because there’s nothing more frustrating. I hope he wasn’t too bummed out by it all. The resulting show (FLOSS 132) was very enjoyable and I’ve had some good comments on it. You may be hearing a lot of more of me on FLOSS in the near future. I certainly hope so 😉
I’m gonna skip over the body of this week ( beginning Aug 30th) as the events of the weekend were far more interesting. I mentioned recently I’d gotten myself a HTC Desire smartphone as a contract upgrade and I was keen to hack it. This is a subject I’ll really have to write a proper guide for as a separate article I know, but suffice it to say I hacked it good and proper. I’ve replaced the normal OS with CyanogenMod 6.0, a modified version of Google Android. It’s still early days but I’m impressed so far, both by the possibilities and also by how easy it was to unlock the phone. I was advised to use a programme called Unrevoked on Identi.ca and it means rooting the phone involves little more effort than pressing a button. The battery life and other things seem unaffected by the software change and I’ll write a full article on this as soon as I can. I just wanted to include this mention for all the geeks amongst you.
A few weeks ago I did Rathole Radio live from the Nerve Centre in the heart of Liverpool. It was housed in the old Rapid paint shop on Renshaw Street, a location well known to locals. I found out on Thursday Sept 2nd that they wanted me to do another live show there the following Sunday, Sept 5th. I had heard a rumour this was possible but not had any confirmation. I’d mentioned doing an unplugged set with the band a few times and we’d discussed it at practice. On this particular Thursday we nailed down some newer tunes and I decided we should go in all guns blazing rather than acoustic. It was tough to get everything arranged in such a short time but with great help from my many wonderful friends we pulled it off. Rathole Radio 34 was performed and recorded on the Sunday evening and we did our first band gig under the new name, 20lb Sounds. There were some friends in the venue with us and many people listening online. It all came together and I was really pleased with the results. It gave me an appetite for more gigs and I’ll be trying to book as many as I can in the future. We played for about half an hour in total, with 2 of those songs included in the podcast and the rest just for the live audience. Right after the gig someone came up to me and said “somebody just posted a video of a baby dancing to your gig online!!”. It all sounded a bit bizarre but sure enough Linux Outlaws community member @mjjzf (Morton) posted a video on YouTube of his baby son Matthias dancing to our music all the way from New York. The other side of the world. That’s pretty mind blowing when you think about it. I put it in the show notes for the episode. Speaking of video, another friend Pete (hello Pete if you’re reading this) took video inside the venue and posted it to YouTube after mixing it with the recorded audio. The results are pretty impressive and give some idea what it was like on the night. Many thanks to him for the great work on that.
During the gig I got some text messages and emails about problems with the Linux Outlaws website, but obviously I had my hands full doing a live show. I read up on them afterwards and discovered that our web server was in serious trouble. It kept dying every hour or so after a reboot. With a lot of other stuff on my plate already I could have done without that. Fab was still away in Italy and I didn’t have the root login details to do much about it. I kept resuscitating the machine via the Linode web control panel in the meantime. I was also in the middle of bailing out a problem with another website for someone else and it felt like perhaps this wouldn’t be my week. Things were blowing up all over the place. I got the login details off Fab and kept trying to fix it over the next day ot two. I had to back up all the databases via the shell. Not a major problem but it did take some Googling for a novice sysadmin like myself. By Wednesday I was able to get the server back up and running to some consistent level with the help of a real sysadmin, @netzturbine helped me on IRC. It looked as though someone was after the forum user database we think and they made a right mess of the server in the process. I had to run a raft of Ubuntu 8.04 updates and we also blocked some malicious IP addresses. So far it’s stayed up since and I hope this will see us through the worst of it.
With my server woes coming under control my week had started to turn around and ended up being a pretty damn good one. I had tickets to see Rhod Gilbert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Saturday and he was hilarious. I bought the tickets a while back and I’d never seen him live before, only the odd bit on TV. He’s always impressed me on panel shows and other things though, he didn’t disappoint and I think everyone had a good night. Right after the show I headed down to the Nerve Centre again for their closing party. I was told to bring beer from the off license but the party was winding down by the time I arrived. They locked up the place 20mins after I arrived and everyone moved to the pub. Not ideal for a bloke with a bag full of beer but I managed to get a friend to take it home and store it for me. Just as well I did as some of the other people in the group got in trouble for bringing their own beer into the pub and before I knew it there was a police van outside. Everyone escaped ok I think and I stayed around in the pub chatting to my friend Neil and others. On Sunday I headed down to band practice and we actually recorded a couple of tracks with the portable studio gear. The first was a cover of “Tin Soldier” by The Small Faces and the second one of our own tunes called “Liar”. They haven’t been mixed yet but I hope to share them with all of you soon. It’s amazing what you can do with just a laptop and a decent external sound card these days. Gary is a wizard on Cubase and that also helps. We got everything done in record time (pardon the pun) and they should be on the website in the near future.
Coming up this week I’ll be appearing on FLOSS Weekly again (4th time now) as we discuss the WebCamStudio project with it’s founder Patrick Balleux. I’m looking forward to that and I’m already booked for another FLOSS at the end of the month, it’s possible there may be more shows if the other hosts are busy. It’s been good fun and it’s certainly great exposure to be on the TWIT network. On Friday my cousin is getting married so I’ll be taking the day off to attend that of course. With Fab winging his way back from Italy we should also see the return of Linux Outlaws in the very near future. I’m not sure what day yet but I know the gap has been tough for some and it won’t last much longer. I’m off to see my friend Sarah do a gig with her choir on Saturday and there’ll also be more music on Sunday with another live Rathole Radio, this time back in the studio. I’m sure there’ll be plenty to report so stay tuned. Until then, take care of yourselves.