like a virtual workspace manager for the shell

How did I manage to go for so long without knowing about screen? screen allows you to create several connection sessions to a terminal, switch between them, detach from them, then reconnect from anywhere. I’d previously had to to set up long-running remote jobs as background jobs, relying on nohup and various methods to prevent terminal output. But no more!

This page taught me all I know about screen: screen: Keep Your Processes Running Despite A Dropped Connection

pear shaped plan

I fear my plan to have the T21 as a home server has gone wrong. Looks like the mini-PCI network card has blown, leaving it invisible to the network. Since the screen backlight is dead, I can read no diagnostics … ;-(

Update: Aha! The backlight gods must’ve heard me, for the T21 actually graced me with a visible screen for a few hours. It was down to:

  • A bad line in my fstab which was trying to mount an unattached USB drive. This drops OpenBSD into single-user mode.
  • no dhclient configuration, so the machine would not automatically appear on the network. Since I swapped out the purportedly faulty mini-PCI network card for a spare (what?! you mean you don’t have spare mini-PCI network cards about the house? Tsk.) I had to tell the system that this was the new card to get a DHCP address.

So all works now, and I’m happy. Now to attack the LaserJet 4 duplexer, and swap it onto my refurbed printer …

free food from Dexit

Though I still hate Dexit, I have found a place to use the remaining balance — the Pizza Pizza at the corner of Vic Park and Sheppard. Yes, their pizza is still like damp cardboard, but they have passable salads.

They still need to work on the reliability of their terminals, and training staff. The other day they said my debit was authorised, when clearly nothing had come off the tag. They wouldn’t take the cash I offered (their screen showed a green thing), so yay Dexit, free food!

my lappy is not well

My ThinkPad T21 is dying. Well, its processor and interfaces are fine, but its backlight is erratic, the battery lasts about 20 minutes, and the case is badly cracked. Because it takes so long for the screen to come on, it’s almost no use as a portable computer.

It’s a shame; it has been a nice machine. I’d prefer not to have to buy a new machine — it’s a toss-up between another used ThinkPad, or a new iBook — but this gets me very frustrated. Catherine has been complaining about how tetchy I am about it.

I’ve probably been very bad at responding to e-mail over the last few weeks because of this. Apologies.