Thursday, December 28, 2006

IT would be fun to be a train driver in Bismarck

One of the curious things about Bismarck is that there is a train track that goes right through the centre of it. That in itself is not unusual. This track however crosses some of the main thoroughfares of Bismarck. Some are bridges, but there are many level crossings too.

The trains come through in a sporadic, yet steady stream all day and night. Every time they cross a bridge, or a road they hoot their horn. I bet the drivers derive great satisfaction at driving a train through town in the middle of the night hooting their horn for all they are worth.

It seems like the biggest impediment to the smooth flow of traffic in Bismarck is not cars, but trains. These trains are pretty long. I think 100 trucks is not unusual. So, when they come through town during a busy time, then they can stop traffic downtown for a good 5 minutes.

There was once, on my way home from work when a train crossed one of the main roads and then stopped with the train still blocking the road. They then fooled around for a few minutes doing I don't know what, then they very slowly reversed the train bac the way it came.

Holding up traffic while you shunt - that has to make the job a whole lot more fun.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Starting Avahi Daemon in Edgy

OK, this has bitten me twice now, so I guess that makes it a good reason to blog it.

If you find that avahi daemon is not starting for you, then you probably need to set AVAHI_DAEMON_START=1 in /etc/default/avahi-daemon

Twice now I have found that an Ubuntu Edgy install has not started this and twice I have ended up reading init scripts to work out why. So, now we know.

Monday, September 04, 2006


originally uploaded by mr-potter.
We were reading in the Bismarck Tribune yesterday about a bunch of turkey vultures that have decided to roost on the water tower 2 blocks away from our house. I went to have a look last night. There were loads of them all perched on different bits of the twoer.

Just before we put the kids to bed this evening, we looked out that way, and we watched toem coming in to roost. There were tens of birds swooping in from all ditrections. They circled the water tower for a while and then they disappeared behind the trees. I tried to take a photo of that too, but the pictures didn't really turn out. If I get a better shot I will post it on flickr.

Check out some more of my vulture shots on flickr.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I have a job!

I now have a job to go to. Starting Tuesday 5th September. I will be working for a local engineering firm as a developer in ther IT section.

I am looking forward to getting back to work after a three month break. It will be good to finally get back into real life again. I'm sure I am going to suffer some more culture shock in the next coming weeks. I think there are going to be some aspects of working in the private sector in Bismarck that are different to working in the public sector in Edinburgh.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Somebody else is making a big move

Justin is moving to Florida. He is keeping a photo diary of the five day drive on Flickr.

Nice one Justin - keep it up, and good luck in Florida.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

and we're back

The cable guy came yesterday and hooked us up. So now we're back on line.

In other news, we heard from the movers (after giving them a poke) that our stuff will be loaded on to a boat on the 25th August. Hopefully we will see it sooner rather than later.

The house is coming together. The washer, dryer and freezer came Thursday, I fanally got the locks changed and the passage locks on the bedroom doors removed and replaced with shiny new door handles. We are still waiting for the lounge suite to arrive. It's all ready bar one arm chair. We may get them to deliver what they've got and pick up the chair once it is ready. Then we will have something to sit on and watch telly on.

More to follow...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

signing off (again)

We have moved into our new house. We don't have internet access yet. In the meantime I will be checking in as often as I can. More later.....

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Our new house

originally uploaded by twooldbobcats.
I think it is now safe enough to announce this...

We have bought a new house. We should get the keys on the 31st July.

The online schedule can be found here (while the detailos are still up.) and some photos taken by my Father in law are here

A Long Way Behind

I just called the company who is moving our stuff over here. It seems that it's all still in the UK. I was hoping it would be further along than it is. So, it looks like our stuff is still weeks away.

I suppose the best we can hope for is that when it does start to move, then it travels to us quickly.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's Hot!

The thermometer out on the deck says it is 103 degrees Fahrenheit - which is about 30 - 40 Celsius. That's Hot! In fact, I would say that it is unpleasantly so.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Step one of naturalisation complete

originally uploaded by mr-potter.
You may think this is a weird thing to blog about, but this is the first pair of trainers / sneakers/ tennis shoes/ whatever I have owned since high school. I don't remember ever owning white ones - although I'm sure my mum will put me right on that. I haven't owned white athletic socks since high school either.

So, now you know why I blogged this. It's quite a big step for me; but when in Rome and all that....

Friday, June 30, 2006

We are still alive


We have been in Bismarck 10 days now. We are settling in nicely. Believe me, there has been an awful lot of stuff happening; I just don't want to pre-announce anything that may fall through.

So, stay tuned, and things will start to happen over the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Safely Arrived

It has been two days since we arrived, so I should talk about the trip while it is still relevant.

All in all it was a pretty smooth trip. The Amsterdam to Minneapolis leg was in a new Airbus A330. The seats were nice and wide, lots of leg room and each seat had a flat screen in the headrest of the seat in front. With the flat screen we had things like video on demand, etc. The kids watched cartoons and napped.

Immigration was also painless. We were advised to expect a wait of anything up to 2 hours. We waited 10 minutes.

The whole trip took 16 hours. Throw in the 6 hour time difference, and it all made for a long day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Readu to go

The house is cleared, the car is sold, the bads are packed, and we are ready to go.

We leave the house here are 4:30am tomorrow morning and we arrive in Bismarck at 5pm.

We'll see you on the other side

Monday, June 12, 2006

signing off

This is our last night at this house. Cable modem is taken away tomorrow morning.

We go to stay with my mum for a week - I will mooch her wifi when I am there

The packers come tomorrow. They will have everything boxed and out of here in the next couple of days. We have been frantically sorting everything over the last few days, but we still don't feel ready. Just so long as they don't pack something we need to take on the plane with us we will be alright.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I like this LazyWeb idea.

Just need to get a few thousand more readers on this blog, and then I can leverage it all I want.

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's amazing how your house goes from immaculate when you are trying to sell the house to quite the opposite when you are preparing to move. Here is a before and after shot of the office to illustrate the point:


and after.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

upgrade woes

My wife has been running Ubuntu Hoary on her laptop for over a year now. I intended to upgrade it to dapper and so I upgraded it today - to beat the rush.

It was a jump of two versions, so I decided the the best thing to do was to dist-upgrade to breezy, run all my wife's apps, then dist-upgrade to dapper. I first backed up her home directory to a usb hard drive and started.

The first dist-upgrade was started at about 7:30 in the morning. The laptop locked up solid about a third of the way in, so I ended up doing a bunch of package fixing before I could restart the upgrade. Once that was done, I rebooted, logged in and started all the applications. Everything worked fine.

Next was to upgrade to dapper, so I edited the sources file again, updated apt and then started the next dist-upgrade. This went with no hitches - although I did end up having to manually install some more packages later.

The real problem has been my wife's wireless card. It is a Belkin F5D5010 ver 2. It loads the atmel_cs modules as expected, but then you see a message in syslog that says:

ADDCONF (NETDEV_UP): eth1: link is not ready

It really has me stumped. I did both the dist-upgrades via the wireless card - so I can assume from that this is a new to dapper problem. iwconfig seems to work properly. I did get it to work once. I was messing around manually loading in firmwares and setting the essid with iwconfig. When I re booted and tried to repeat the process, it didn't work - so I'm not sure what I did to make it work - it certainly wasn't what I thought.

I will keep plugging away at this.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blowing Bubbles

originally uploaded
by Lostpup.
These photos are fantastic

Check out the reflections on this one. Well done Ade. His photography gets better all hte time.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


It's been a while, so I thought an update is in order.

The house is sold. It was on the market for 12 days in all. We got the full asking price, and so we are very happy.

I have handed notice in at my job. My last day is 23rd May. I have been wanting to quit this job for over a year. It felt to to finally do it.

The movers are booked, the plane tickets are bought, and we are starting to do the final sort through our stuff. The closer you get to moving date, the more your thoughts change on what should go and what we should get rid of.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The schedule for the house is now up on the espc web site - see it here.

Shame about the photos. The lounge one came out better than I thought, but the kitchen ones are all blurred. Also, we could have sorted the clutter in the kitchen ones easily.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


The house is now listed on the ESPC web site, here. No pictures yet, but Rome wasn't burnt in a day.

They screwed up the viewing times. They originally included Thursday evenings, despite our saying no to the agent who came to see us, by email, and in voice mail messages. They have sorted that out now. This week's ESPC paper will have the wrong viewing times, so we may get people turning up tomorrow night. If they do they will have to come back if they want to see the kids' room. The kids will be asleep by then.

Things have been busy this last week. Getting sucked into felling the neighbours trees, and clearing away their rotten fence did not help. Things are starting to take shape now.

Friday, April 14, 2006

It's all starting to happen

originally uploaded by mr-potter.
The estate agent came this week. The house goes on the market on Easter Monday. The "For Sale" sign went up today.

We have had three of the four moving companies come and see us. They will send us quotes next week.

In between all that, we are trying to finish removing clutter around the house, and generally trying to make it look shiney. We have been doing lots of jobs that we meant to do months or years ago. Things are starting to look really nice.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


originally uploaded by mr-potter.
Well the weather may not be warming up as fast as I would like, but the flowers are coming out nicely. This photo was taken in our back garden.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Road Trip to France

My brother just did a trip to France.

Here are some photos from the trip.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I have been idly poking with a stick. On the whole it is a fun toy. However, I am finding that when I do a similar artist search radio in the client, half the stuff I listen to is not there.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Still no RSS

The Bismarck Tribune has redone its site. Still no RSS. Come on guys - it's not hard!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

US-o-vision Song Contest

It says here that NBC is planning a Eurovisionn Song Contest clone.

"Eurovision is the granddaddy of all talent shows and the Super Bowl of singing," said Ben Silverman, chairman of series producers Reveille.

Has this guy actually sat through a whole Eurovision? If he has, then he must not have realised that you watch Eurovision, nit for the music, but for Terry Wogan's contribution.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

GAIM beta

I have been using the Gaim 2.0 beta 1 realease for a few weeks now. I like it.

The project have said that "Gaim 2.0.0 beta 2 does not include voice or video ("vv") support". Shame - because to me, that would make the app complete. But good things come to those who wait.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Saved passwords as an anti-phishing measure

My wife gets a lot of phishing emails - don't know why - but she does. Quite a lot of them are ebay ones. She can spot them a mile a way and she says that some of them are quite amusing with their bad spelling and grammar.

Well, this morning she found one that was almost believable. For reasons known only to her, she decided to click on the "log in" link in the email. She said that another clear sign that this was not ebay was because her browser did not auto-fill the login form for her.

We all have heard the arguments for and against using the saved passwords feature. But I had never considered before that it could be a good anti-phishing tool.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Sometime in the last 36 hours, my son's tricycle and scooter were stolen. They we taken from our front lawn - right outside our front door. Not only that, but they raked through the shed and found the parent bar.

Somebody who steals a child's toys is pretty low in my opinion.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Fighting fire with fire?

"Faced with the prospect of another year spent tackling the hundreds of tonnes of unwanted mail discarded in the Capital, the council has compiled an advice leaflet for residents."

Could an advice leaflet not be a euphemism for junk mail?

I do agree with the sentiment, and I hope they make a difference.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

We were too early

It turns out there was a positive leap second introduced between 2005 and 2006 to keep atomic clocks in sync with the rotation of the earth. There is a slashdot article about it which also references a couple of other articles on the matter.

So, does that mean that we who are in the UTC timezone celebrated New Year one second too early? Still I suppose being one second early for New Year is better than one year too early for the new millennium.