Taking the plunge (updated)

I’m about to try and upgrade this blog from WordPress 2.0.11 to 2.3.2, expect breakage for a while!


That was quick (as ever) – I’m now running 2.3.2 – now for the plugins..

OK – plugins done and theme hacked to do a better job at being a variable width theme!

I’m going to be an Aussie! (Updated)

Catching up on my backlog – a few weeks ago I received a letter saying:

13th December 2007

Dear Mr Samuel

On behalf of the Government and the people of Australia, I am delighted to advise that your application for Australian citizenship has been approved.

Yay! I’m going to be an Aussie (( well, OK, to be precise, a dual-national UK/Aussie ))!

Back in the middle of the year I decided that after having lived in Australia for almost 5 years it was about time to do the right thing and apply to be a citizen of my new home. I was hoping to get to vote in the 2007 general election, but changes in the process and travelling overseas meant that the interview that should have happened in September didn’t occur until the 7th December. So they moved pretty quickly from that to the approval! 🙂

I am still a PR (permanent resident) until I do the “Pledge of commitment” which will be some time in the next 6 months or so, but once that happens my PR visa will cease and I’ll need to get an Aussie passport to go with my UK one.

Update: Turns out that “in the next 6 months or so” is actually going to be this coming Australia Day, January 26th!

The Date of Christmas

Some folks wonder why Christmas is on December 25th given there is absolutely no clue in the bible, so here’s a handy passage from Professor Ron Hutton’s (( Wikipedia entry )) excellent book “The Stations of the Sun” quoting the Scriptor Syrus, a Christian writer in the late 300’s CE:

It was a custom of the pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day

Now 354 CE is the earliest calendar (that of Philocalus) which gives that date, but Prof. Hutton goes on to point out that the pagan festival that Syrus mentions was just 80 years old then, hardly an ancient practice. He says:

It had apparently been decreed only in 274 CE, by the emperor Aurelian, as a major holy day of a new and syncretic state cult with the sun as its official chief deity.

This in turn was built upon the older Syrian “Unconquered Sun” cult, which had its major festival in late summer. I suppose that last bit makes it almost appropriate for Australia. 🙂

Electronic voting report in Ohio

Ohio has published a report on an investigation into electronic voting machines, Wired reports on it, summarising one particular finding thus:

They found that a voter or poll worker with a Palm Pilot and no more than a minute’s access to a voting machine could surreptitiously re-calibrate the touch-screen so that it would prevent voters from voting for specific candidates or cause the machine to secretly record a voter’s vote for a different candidate than the one the voter chose. Access to the screen calibration function requires no password, and the attacker’s actions, the researchers say, would be indistinguishable from the normal behavior of a voter in front of a machine or of a pollworker starting up a machine in the morning.

…and if you think that’s bad enough, then here’s an interesting comment from a collection of complaints about voting in Florida in 2006 that were assembled after an FOI request:

Vote for one candidate registered as vote for different candidate

Upon opening ballot for first time voter saw “x” by Katherine Harris’s name though voter had not touched screen yet.

So the machines are quite capable of getting things wrong without a malicious attack (well, assuming that wasn’t the cause in the above events).

So, who would you like to win today ?

(Via Bruce Schneier)

Happy Yule/Xmas/Solstice/etc..

Condiments of the seasoning to all!

Donna and I have been flat out recently (still are I guess given it’s gone 1am and we’re both still up!), which is why things have been so quiet here.. Still, we’re both doing well and very much appreciating all the rain we’ve had, the garden is loving it!

I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas…

Emerging Linux Filesystems

In July I was commissioned to write an article for LinuxWorld called “Emerging Linux Filesystems” which they published in early September in three parts. Part of the deal was that there was a 90 day exclusivity period for them before I could republish it elsewhere, which has now lapsed.

So you can now read the article in its original (single page) form complete with inline images and graphs and covering Ext4, NILFS, btrfs, Reiser4, ChunkFS and ZFS under both FUSE on Linux and OpenSolaris. Enjoy!

My thanks to Don Marti of LinuxWorld for commissioning (and paying for) the article and to Dragan Dimitrovici of Xenon Systems for the loan of the test system!