No, you can't have my password

Sep 22, 2010 / 0 comments

I got pulled up on my password policy yesterday; I don't tell other people my passwords. The context was arranging that a friend could use my laptop while I was away at work - instead of telling her my login details so she could use that I created a new account. This provoked a "Don't you trust me?" response. I couldn't quite manage to successfully articulate the fact that I did trust her, I was aware that unsupervised physical access meant that it was easy enough to gain access anyway but that I just wouldn't hand over my password. It's not like there's anything confidential or that isn't backed up on there. The password is for that machine only. My GPG key doesn't live on it, so the biggest effort if it was attacked would be rolling the SSH key (that has a passphrase, of course) for that machine. And yet I couldn't bring myself to do it. This is nothing unique to this instance; I spent 13 years with Katherine and she never knew my passwords nor had root access to any of my machines. I can imagine situations where I'd share root, but even then I wouldn't share my personal password.

Do I come across as untrusting, or is anyone else like this too?

(In the interest of full disclosure I have actually handed over my password [more accurately, changed it temporarily to something else] to someone in a work context, but it was really, really hard for me to bite my tongue and not respond with a curt "Shouldn't you be able to gain the appropriate access as you are part of IT anyway?".)

New Laptop Frustration

Aug 17, 2010 / 0 comments

I've been talking about replacing my laptop since November. Now I've somewhat forced the issue by giving away my R200, leaving myself with just the EEE 901. I'm not planning to bring a desktop with me to California (well, I might ship bits for a media box, but probably not even a complete machine), so I've been looking more seriously at what my options are.

I like smaller laptops; the R200 is 12", I had a Compaq N200 previous which was 10". There seem to be a number of 13" options that are light, so I'm prepared to look at those.

This is going to be my main machine, so I need something with some grunt. A decent amount of RAM with a reasonable processor. I'm probably prepared to take the price hit in order to get SSD. Also a decent resolution screen along with built in wifi (does anything not have this these days?) + 3G would be nice too.

Of course, it turns out I can't have all of this. In particular the US market seems pretty dire for 3G support (no, something locked or that can't take a GSM SIM doesn't count. I expect to travel.) The UK market is a bit better, but there are still no perfect answers.

Lenovo X201s

(It's really hard for me to think of this as a Lenovo rather than an IBM Thinkpad.)

This comes in a 1440x900 resolution variant, which is nice for 12". I can have a touchpad too. What I can't have is 3G; with the 1440x900 screen there's apparently no space for the 3G antenna. Doh! Also Thinkpads are *ugly*.

Sony Vaio VPCZ12Z9E/X

I want this. Core i7, 1920x1080 screen, SSD, 3G (Gobi), sub 1.5Kg.

But. Sony. Ridiculously expensive. If it was half the price and made by Lenovo or Toshiba I'd have bought one by now. As it is there's no way I can reasonably expect it to last 3 years (and really I'd want 5 given the cost).

Toshiba R700-155

I've been extremely happy with my R200 and spent a long time eying the R500/R600. The -155 is a Core i7, 1366x768 screen, 13", 3G, sub 1.5Kg.

2 problems. One, I'd like a better resolution if I'm going to 13" - both the Lenovo and the Sony manage that. Secondly, and more of an issue, nowhere seems to have them in stock.

HP Elitebook 2540p

This has potential. Seems to be a little heavier than the other options, and it's only a 1280x800 screen (but in 12"). Available with Core i7, SSD & 3G. Oh, except once again stock is a problem.

Have I missed anything else out there? I can probably buy from the UK or US with equal ease.

Not my usual sort of keys

Aug 13, 2010 / 0 comments

In a week I'll be in California. I'm not packed, though I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure how exactly what I need to take, what I want to take, and what I really shouldn't take.

One item I've been uncertain about are keyboards. When Simon went to France for a year he took a UK keyboard with him, but then they have AZERTY which is substantially different. There are a number of US keyboards lying around the office so a few weeks ago I switched to one for work to see how it went. I think I'm bringing a stash of UK keyboards with me. Annoyances with the US keyboard:

  • Enter is too small. I have this problem on my EEE 901 as well. Usually this manifests as me typing lots of half written lines on IRC.
  • The " moving location is actually much more irritating than I expected. Likewise ~
  • And, the decider, PERSON RAISING BOTH HANDS IN CELEBRATION simply doesn't flow as easily. On a UK keyboard it's left, middle, right. On a US keyboard it's right, left, right.

California here I come

Jul 15, 2010 / 0 comments

On Thursday 19th August I will be leaving Northern Ireland and relocating to California. I'm keeping my current job with 3PAR (who I should point out are actively hiring in Belfast), just moving west by a few thousand miles. I'll be working in the Fremont office, but based on advice from most people I've talked to I plan to live in San Francisco.

I've got a few trips over to England planned between now and then which will give me an opportunity to see people before I go. Also I'll be at DebConf, where I hope to try and meet a least a few other Debian people from the Bay Area and pick their brains for advice about where to live & things to do.

This is something that's taken a lot longer to come together than I originally expected. I'm very glad it finally has, but obviously there's a degree of trepidation about the whole process. If I seem somewhat disconnected from reality for the next few months rest assured I'm sure I'll be back to normal soon enough once I've moved and found somewhere to live.

SPI 2010 AGM & Board Election

Jul 10, 2010 / 0 comments

As SPI secretary I announced that nominations for the SPI board were open at the start of the month. The nomination period closes this Tuesday (13th July) with voting opening up on Thursday 15th. This year over half the board is up for election - 5 seats (currently held by Luk Claes, Joshua D. Drake, Bdale Garbee, Joerg Jaspert & Martin Zobel-Helas). So far I've received only 2 nominations, though I'm aware these things are often left to the last minute, so hopefully more will appear in the next few days. All anyone who wants to stand needs to do is drop secretary@spi-inc.org a (preferably PGP signed) email nominating yourself and providing a position statement (which will all be published once the nomination period is over).

Oh, and if you're a contributing SPI member please do remember to vote once voting is open!

subscribe via RSS