No More Sprint

Finally dumped Sprint due to a failed EVO 4G LTE. Ended up going to Verizon with a Galaxy S4. Yeah, one evil over the other, but the big thing was that Sprint’s service sucked rocks in a big way. They are literally the only major provider that does not have LTE service in my area. AT&T has it, T-mobile has it, and Verizon was the first to have it. Sprint service just kept getting worse. It’s too bad they couldn’t get their act together.

Slow SMB Browsing with MacOS X

Ever since Apple dropped Samba and went with their own SMB stack in MacOS X the browsing performance suffered badly for SMB shares on a Debian server. After much searching the solution that finally worked was to set the following in smb.conf:

socket options = IPTOS_LOWDELAY

The Cloud Fails Again…

Amazon AWS is suffering yet another outage, this time taking all of Netflix (and things like Instragram) down with it.

8:21 PM PDT We are investigating connectivity issues for a number of instances in the US-EAST-1 Region.
8:31 PM PDT We are investigating elevated errors rates for APIs in the US-EAST-1 (Northern Virginia) region, as well as connectivity issues to instances in a single availability zone.
8:40 PM PDT We can confirm that a large number of instances in a single Availability Zone have lost power due to electrical storms in the area. We are actively working to restore power.
8:49 PM PDT Power has been restored to the impacted Availability Zone and we are working to bring impacted instances and volumes back online.

Mass Effect 3

Warning: potential over-analysis of a video game follows. Plus if you haven’t played Mass Effect you’ll be completely confused.

The Mass Effect series has been my favorite gaming trilogy as of late and so it was no question that I was going to start playing its final installment on release day. I dove into it with the same completionist attitude I had with the previous installments.

I love the back and forth with Liara during the Shadow Broker DLC in ME2. “Remember when you could just slap omni gel on things?” That reference to ME1 made me smile. Seeing characters pop up here and there, or not, also made me feel. I had hoped to see Emily Wong or Kal’Reegar again, but alas they perished off screen. But the penultimate ending to the trilogy is just… bad. No matter what happens you lose and everyone is simply fucked. In fact, you might as well have actually helped the Reapers succeed. Maybe Saren’s way was the right way in the beginning and we’ve actually been the villain.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time doing every single side mission, quest and scan, no matter how minor. Some of my decisions sucked – I was shocked when I overheard the refugees mention that Kelly had been coldly executed during the Cerberus raid on the Citadel – and some made all my previous actions feel like a payoff. I put a lot of work towards trying to have the best possible outcome in then end, because that’s just how I roll.

Mordin’s death to put right what was once wrong in curing the genophage was both sad and rewarding. In my game there was no other option as far as I was concerned. I couldn’t betray my friend Wrex, a friend who would follow me to hell, just to make some shady back room deal with the Salarians. Had it been his brother because I foolishly killed (or was forced to kill) Wrex way back in the beginning on Virmire then yeah, I wouldn’t have felt bad lying about curing the genophage, and I would have been disappointed to have Mordin die for that. For me, watching Mordin put things right while singing “scientist Salarian” to himself just about brought a tear to my eye.

Being able to bring peace between the Quarians and the Geth was one of those good moments. Will the peace last? Maybe. Legion “dies” sort of, but we’re shown a machine that became alive and ultimately chose to give up its life for the greater good. Again depending on choices made along the way one may feel differently about Legion’s fate, or even killed him in what effectively would be the genocide of the geth. Either choice had its consequences, but provided I could I saved them both (and I did) to ensure both sides would be there to fight the Reapers for the best possible outcome.

Seeing and speaking to Thane in his final days in the hospital was cool, as were all my encounters with those I’d saved (my entire crew survived in ME2). But when Thane showed up to fight Kai Lang? Epic. The choices I made resulted in Thane showing up to kick some ass. He ultimately dies from a combination of his wounds and terminal illness, but like Mordin it was a good end. The other minor missions were nice to see Miranda, Jacob, and Jack again.

And then the final push comes. My squad and I fight valiantly alongside literally the rest of the galaxy (Geth plus Quarian fleets together) that I worked hard to bring to bear in full force. Full of inconsistencies, plot holes, and straight up WTF. No matter what, everyone dies and the Reapers fulfill their annihilation whether through their hand or mine.

  • I bought the Quarians to Earth. I was able to create peace between them and the Geth, but no matter: with the mass relay network destroyed, they will never see Rannoch again, even though earlier the way for them to return home was paved through peace with the Geth, because it’s way the hell on the opposite side of the galaxy after I convinced them to come to Earth to fight the Reapers. And since they can’t eat anything on Earth they’re just going to starve to death as a best case scenario. More likely though is infighting as resources grow scares, or die trying to go home to Rannoch because the journey is too long and too far.
  • I brought the Geth to Earth. As machines they don’t need things like food and would survive the long trip without mass relays – at least until they run out of fuel, lose power, and shut down. This also assumes that the newfound peace doesn’t collapse under the strain of the Quarian’s aforementioned bleak situation.
  • I brought the Grogan to Earth. Wrex, the leader with a vision for a new future for his people that others will rally behind, is certainly there. But like everyone else that was duped into bringing everything they had to Earth for a final push they’re now just as stuck without the mass relays. Those left back on Tuchanka will probably just revert to the old ways and kill themselves off. Mordin’s sacrifice, while profoundly powerful at the time, ultimately meant nothing.
  • I brought the Turians to Earth. Like the Quarians there’s nothing for them to eat, and unlike the quarians they probably didn’t bring any greenhouse ships with them. So now that the fighting is over whoever is left is probably going to grapple with the Quarians for something to eat once the reality of the situation sinks in.
  • I brought the Salarians to Earth. I also brought races like the Volus and the Elcor. None of them are going home, either. Even if everyone wanted to sit around and be happy on Earth, the planet is in absolute ruin, to be bombarded with wreckage falling from orbit, and there’s simply too many of everyone combined for the planet to support at its best. With everyone in close quarters without a unifying cause faced with strained resources from whatever remains is the perfect recipe for old conflicts to rise again and attrition through infighting to finish off the survivors.
  • Everyone on the Citadel is simply killed when it self-destructs. So much for all of the refugees plus its former regular population. In fact, the choice to let more refugees on board might as well be an assist to the Reapers because it simply increase the body count. The most likely end for them was that everyone is asphyxiated or vented into space.

And then there’s the Normandy. Why would Joker suddenly run from the fight? How did he know the mass relay was about to self destruct and manage to make it there before the Citadel did its thing? How did anyone in my squad even get back on board when they were supposedly all down on Earth fighting? Liara was with me during the run to the beam with ol’ Harby firing lasers of doom at everyone, and somehow she is suddenly back on the Normandy running away to crash land on some unknown jungle planet? None of this ending sequence is even remotely believable.

Of course, all of this assumes that everyone wasn’t simply vaporized by the destruction of each mass relay as was shown when the Alpha Relay was destroyed and released a supernova in its wake. This would mean that every system with a mass relay plus everyone on the Citatel were simply annihilated and the only thing left are far-flung colonies in the ass end of the galaxy. In which case, well, everyone and everything still dies.

The sad thing is that I loved the games but knowing how much futility there is in the end makes playing to better the universe simply no longer makes sense. You may as well run around the galaxy softening it up for the Reapers to finish off because that’s what happens regardless.

Ethernet-based I/O

In my search to find cost effective I/O modules I came across ControlByWeb Ethernet I/O the other day. The product line is impressive and they’re reasonably priced. There’s digital input, analog input, temperature input, and relay outputs. Some have advanced features such as SNMP support, but at the bare minimum they all support HTTP/XML and Modbus/TCP. The devices can also interface with each other directly and several even have a 802.11af POE powered version. I’ll probably end up using modbus since I already have some RS-485 modbus stuff in place.

My first planned project for these Ethernet I/O modules is to monitor a multistage cooling system; things like thermostat stage calls compared to compressor calls since there’s an economizer in the mix that modifies the true compressor staging calls.

San Diego’s Epic Power Outage

On September 8th, 2011 the vast majority of San Diego County and the southern part of Orange County returned to a simpler time.

All of them? That sounds like a big “oops”.

To the bunker!

Abbie “Mini Mew” (2003 – June 10, 2011)

This is Abbie, but I always nickname them, so hers was “Mini Mew”. Yesterday she was put to sleep after treatment for kidney failure and ultimately complete failure. Here’s a few pictures I had of her. Unfortunately she liked to hide a lot and after I moved out of my parent’s house I only saw her during rare moments of not hiding under a bed or something.

She eventually ended up back at the vet a few days ago and we found out she was dying. It was only a matter of time or she’d be put to sleep. Some final tests were run and the decision ended up being the latter. I visited her at the vet to say goodbye the day before and took a few pictures and videos of her rubbing my hand. When I came into the room she was sitting in the litter box her her cage. She meowed at me once – the only time I can clearly recall her doing so as she was normally a quiet cat – and came out to rub my hand and lick at a plate of food. She hadn’t been eating for days and was rapidly losing weight and dehydrated.

And then the final morning came. All of us who were able to came to the vet’s office to be with her one last time. She was a blanket, but she would get up, circle, and rub her head on everyone’s hands. She would try to roll on her back but it was clear she was tired. And after about 10 minutes of saying goodbye in her own way, she just curled up as if to go to sleep.

I held her head and took this final picture and we called in the vet. I stroked her side during the procedure. She went quickly, faster than I thought, I didn’t even notice when she left us. She left this world being held by those who loved and cared for her. Mini mew came to us in 2003 after the passing of my cat Glendale and left us too soon on June 10, 2011. She will be buried in my parent’s back yard with the other cats on Monday.

Goodbye, mini mew, we’ll miss you.

IPv6 with the HP AP420

I use an HP AP420 wireless access point at the office and a few other locations. Although certainly not as cheap as a low end Linksys, they’re probably some of the most reliable ones I’ve used and can be found on eBay these days for a great price.

I did have one problem: it didn’t seem to be passing IPv6 router advertisements (RA) and thus autoconfig would not work. I finally discovered the culprit today: the “AP Management Filter” must be set to “disabled”. With it enabled it was apparently filtering IPv6 RAs. Since I am using a management VLAN this setting was pointless in my environment, but I thought I should document this potentially obscure problem in case anyone else happens across it.