Lego Galaxy Squad

Nathan helped me put together my Christmas present. And by "helped", I mean I actually got to assemble a few pieces of it.

I'd never heard of this series before, seems to be quasi-mecha-like. Of course you can't have mecha without enemies, so the kit provides you with a couple of giant insects to fight. I don't know why we have to portray humans fighting any alien life they happen to come across, so I asked Nathan why we couldn't say the humans and the insects were working together on something. Nathan looked vaguely horrified at the idea -- I guess it's too strange a concept for a nine year old.


Math: Dell PowerEdge 1950 G3 Power Consumption

Sorry for the potato quality.

When I posted my feeling-pleased-about-myself post about the Dell's RAM, I got a lot of static on Reddit for buying such a power-hungry computer. I didn't think it could be that much, but nothing settles arguments like data.

So, the homelab electricity usage. This Kill-A-Watt currently feeds my Dell 1950, the Bell internet gear, a small switch, a POE injector feeding a Ubiquiti access point, and a Sunfire X2200. The Dell is the lion's share of this load.

The potatoes show you that this has consumed 206 kWh in 478 hours.

The math shows us that works out to 0.43 kWh/h, or an average load of 0.43 kW. That works out to 10.34 kWh per day, which at $0.10 per kWh works out to $1.34 (update: MATH: $1.02) in electricity per day, or $31 per 30 day month. Depending on the month, this could be anywhere from 1/3 (spring/fall, no heat or A/C) to 1/5 (summer, full-time A/C) of my daily load.

I don't have the exact numbers, but the Sunfire draw is a fraction of the Dell's. My current plan is to send the Dell to the colo facility where power is wrapped up in the hosting, and do my "homelab"-ing there across the internet, and use the Sunfire as the firewall at the house. That requires a lot of juggling though since the current firewall is a VM inside the Dell.

In conclusion: the power draw on these PowerConnect 1950s is quite high. For me, $1/day isn't a huge amount of money, but it does mean I spend per year in electricity what I paid for the computer in the first place. This is something important to consider when looking for homelab equipment.


Early Easter

Too early. This is my first trip to the grocery store in a while so I don't know how long this stuff has been out -- but I think its still too early.


Some Days, I Tell You...

Some days it's hard enough without your tools actively fighting against you. This BSoD happened twice, both times when I rebooted a switch while watching its console through a USB-to-serial dongle. Never seen that happen before. This USB-to-serial is a piece I've had with me for 15 years now and has been one of the most reliable pieces of kit I've had, but maybe it is finally too old for use.

In totally unrelated news, minicom on Fedora Core 25 still sucks as bad as it did 15 years ago with RedHat (non-enterprise) 6.


First Time Since The Rebuild

Today was my first day on Landsdown Park since the big OSEG rebuild. I seem to think the last time was when Alex and I went to a '67s game -- and yep, it was 2011.) Since I had arrived nearby with some time to kill, I decided to take a walk around the site to see what's what.

The parking garage is unexpectedly narrow inside. It is all decked out with the same redlight/greenlight parking spot availability lights that are in the City Hall parking garage, except these are new enough to still be in service, resulting in a ceiling that is unexpectedly festive. Parking is more expensive than typical downtown is at $20 for the day. And the narrowness of the lanes caused a couple of other drivers -- in more than one instance -- to get in each other's ways, not to the point of collisions, but to the point where the drivers of the large pickup trucks were squealing their tires as they left the scenes.

Above ground everything seems to be exclusively paving stones ornately laid out with traffic lanes on them -- not exactly asphalt, but paradise paved nonetheless. The whole thing seemed to be laid out with the same crowd control tricks seen at Disney -- controlled sightlines, wide open walkways, and robust fittings designed to withstand the crushing use of a game day crowd.

It was a dreary day weather-wise but there is little on the site to combat such impressions.

If there's one thing you can do at Landsdown, it's eat. And presumably drink. I hear that the Teriaki Express isn't doing well -- and probably not surprising given that the typical non-game-day crowds probably don't pay the bills -- but there are a ton of bars and restaurants for your pre- or post-game drinking and snacking needs. Plus a fitness store, a movie complex, and a bank. But not much else.

It was interesting to visit after all the fuss. Frankly with the parking being what it is, I doubt even the super-deluxe movie theatre will get me out here recreationally. I might do a football game some time -- something I should probably do at least once -- but the volume of people also doing the football game means that public transit is mandatory, and the available transit for games is boosted to something approaching usefulness before being dropped to the standard level of mediocrity for regular days.


Today On The Testbed

Palo Alto PA-200 Firewall
....well that's certainly different.

Clean Teeth

Nathan visits the dentist. Verdict: dirty teeth, no new teeth, but no cavities. Good show!


Subreddit Simulator Keeps Killing It


Retro Entertainment

Some kind of 8mm film. It turned out to be too retro, the projector had not been run in over a decade and the feeder sprocket wasn't turning. Someone will have to take it apart to see what's wrong. Back in the 80s I was the go-to guy for the AV equipment in middle school, to the point where I would be summoned out of my class to go and whack a misbehaving projector for other teachers.


Fourth Time Lucky?

This is at least the fourth time someone's been around to stick signs in the snowbanks on this street. On Tuesday we had the "no parking overnight" signs, then Wednesday morning they were gone -- but the snowbanks were still there. Last night, the "no parking overnight" signs were back, and this morning we have "no parking through the day".

This street isn't well designed for dealing with snowbanks -- our side has the nice decorative trees on the piece of grass between the sidewalk and the street, so the snow removal operations have to be careful not to kill any of them, and in doing so they end up leaving around 50% of the snowbank untouched. And our side is the south side of the street, so it gets less direct sun through the day too. Add it all up and our side is stuck with snowbanks longer than the people across the street are.

Update: They actually came this time and removed some of the snowbanks. Not sure if there was much point to it since it seemed to be melting pretty quickly on its own.



I know nobody except me cares about my progress through a 5 year old iPhone game, but I'm a little amazed that this particular technique actually works.



This map on "Intermediate" has been beating me on round 63 for seemingly for ever. Sooo many attempts, soo close, only to fall on level 63. But this time I actually got through. On to new maps!



This picture really brings home how large the Space-X rocket that landed on the barge is.


Trump And The Russians

Even if the US Intelligence services are right, and that Russia did influence the US election, I think it is a stretch to say that it was that influence that got Trump elected -- you can have it both ways.

I think it would be pretty clear that nobody, the Russians included, expected Trump to actually win -- the goal was merely to make Clinton (and, by extension, the US) look ridiculous and perhaps redirect some of the incoming administration's attentions in directions other than towards Russian interests. In that, the strategy paid off in spades, except that I'm sure that the Russians are just as worried about an unpredictable Trump administration as many of the American progressive voters are.


Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

I'll be honest -- I never read any of the original books and I bailed on the movies after number two or three. So maybe I missed a lot. But even without all that history (or maybe because I don't have that history) I thought this was a pretty good movie. Set up for the inevitable sequel(s), but stands on its own well enough. Good creature design, reasonable story. The effects fell down in a few places where they over-reached themselves a bit, but overall I'm glad I saw it in the theater.


Let's Hear It For Happy Accidents

So about a year ago I obtained for myself a Dell PowerEdge 1950 Generation 3 server for use in my basement as a ESXi sandbox plaything. One of the guys at work found it online and wanted one for himself, since the seller was selling them by the skid -- obviously off-lease equipment -- I decided I wanted in on it, too. It was less than $400 for a 2x4 core with 16GB RAM, two disk sleds and no disk. Clearly the basic minimum for ESXi -- enough headroom to start up a couple real VMs, plus a small fleet of "cattle" VMs that would get churned as I played around.

Well I recently started playing with CentOS 7 instead of CentOS 6, and the memory headroom for the VM load was on the server was just too tight. So it was clearly time to get more RAM, right?

I was lucky in that I had a Generation-3 server, which could take 8GB DIMMs instead of just 4GB DIMMs. So that gave me the option to expand to 32GB by either buying 8x4GB DIMMs (which would probably necessitate me throwing away the 8x2GB DIMMs I undoubtedly had already installed) or I could buy 4x8GB DIMMs instead, permitting me the ability to A) keep 4x4GB DIMMs for a total of 40GB, and B) upgrade in the future to 64GB with another 4x8GB purchase. Part of this equation turned out to be cost... which I'll get to in a moment.

So I went off to my friendly neighbourhood reseller and asked him for the RAM. Turns out that this is premium PC2-5300 — DDR2 667 MHz stuff -- not easy to come by new. And he came back with pricing around CDN$1K for the memory.

Well that's clearly out of the question for a hobby system. If I had $1K to spend I could buy one or two whole systems with 32GB of memory EACH on eBay. So that's not going to happen.

The rule for this stuff is, when in doubt, google. So I googled RAM for Dell PowerEdge 1950 computers, and found... Server Monkey, landing on this page. Through this page I learned all about memory configurations and generation types and everything else... looked at the pricing to get this upgrade done.

Option one would be 8x4GB for US$60 delivered.

Option two would be 4x8GB for US$85 delivered. That's a 50% premium for essentially the same immediate amount of memory, or in other words, a $25 premium for the ability to run slightly more RAM now and still have the option of going to 64GB later.

Those options are probably worth $25, so I went with option 2.

This is the part of the article where I tell you how wonderful Server Monkey was -- but really I can't gush too much. They took my money and shipped me what I ordered and it got here in a little over a week. The Canada Post guy who dropped it off at the door apparently did a ring-and-run, which would have perhaps been more disturbing if there was actually expensive computer parts inside... but since Jenn was home, it wasn't an issue.

And so, laboriously, I come to the point of the article. It turns out I had never opened the dust shroud of my 1950 when I got it, because when I did open it I discovered 4x4GB installed, not 8x2GB. So this means that instead of  having to throw away 4 DIMMs, I ended up being able to keep everything I had, so at the end of the process I have 48GB available.

(It does mean that I would have felt like an idiot if I'd ordered the 8x4GB -- yes it would have been cheaper, but I wouldn't have used half of it.)

I've powered it up and it all goes -- we're back in business.

Half again what I'd hoped for!
So let's hear it for happy accidents!

Bye Bye A&W

After at least 20 years, the A&W at Hazeldean Mall has closed. I asked the girl at the Subway next to them if they were gone or renovating, and she said they were gone. This store has been there for the entire 20 years I've been going through Hazeldean Mall. This mall really does appear to be dying like the Kanata Town Center mall did 15 years ago -- stores leaving and nothing coming in behind them to replace them. There always seems to be new developments on the outskirts of town, and I guess the real-estate equation works better for stores in new developments rather than existing ones. Eventually this mall will be a ghost town and we'll be doing all our shopping south of Bridlewood or in Stittsville.


Nobody Here But Us Monkeys

For some reason -- maybe because it reset when I got the last phone upgrade -- I've been playing this again more.


Canada 150

Nice day to be downtown in the snow. At least until you want to cross the street, then it gets nasty.


Monkey Defences

This worked out better than expected.