Shooting the Buck Moon

The moon moves really fast when it’s behind trees.

Buck Moon, July 2021, Kingston WA

Hotel wildlife

We just got back from vacation in Florida, where we stayed at a lakeside apartment. On the last day, we got to see some cool wildlife. (From our downstairs, screened in porch. The lake had a substantial fence, with bars that might mildly inconveniance a large alligator.)

Alligator crawling out of a lake at hotel grounds in Florida.

Our hotel wildlife.

Weird Al Yankovic sings “The Elements”

Weird Al Yankovic in concert at the Golden State Theatre, Monterey, 2018-05-17.

My wife and I got to see “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert in Monterey last Thursday night. He covered Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements”. This is interesting because….

  • Al doesn’t often do covers, but often does parodies.
  • Tom’s song was itself a parody.
  • The source material (from “The Pirates of Penzance”) was, some say, partly a response to the rampant musical piracy in the U.S. at the time.

So there’s a thing. Anyway, I really enjoyed the concert, and I wanted to test some experimental binaural microphones I’d constructed. Bada-bing! Bada-boom!

Me and Sara enjoying the calm before a concert at the Golden State Theatre, Monterey, 2018-05-17

So, please Don’t Download this Song, and if you want to help Al and Tom get their Solid Gold Humvees, then support them by doing stuff!

Oh, and Emo Philips is a great opener, very funny, and (despite rumor) still alive.

Princess Ida Sitzprobe recordings

Yes, it’s done! Relive the excitement and adventure of cramming a full cast and orchestra into a band room!

Poster for Lyric Theatre's 2017 production of Princess Ida

Usual caveats about “this was not a studio recording”, etc.
Continue reading ‘Princess Ida Sitzprobe recordings’

Cygwin bash in the context menu

Getting the Cygwin bash (mintty) in the Windows context menu is a little esoteric. Mostly this is because you have to set the directory at Windows time, rather than Cygwin time. (Otherwise you would have to convert the directory pathname with drives and colons into Posix-ish format of /cygdrive/D/….)

Here’s the way that works for me. Add the Windows Registry key
and set the default string (REG_SZ) to the impressively unwieldy value of
C:\utils\cygwin\bin\mintty.exe -i /Cygwin-Terminal.ico --dir "%V" /bin/env CHERE_INVOKING=1 /bin/bash -l
(Modify the mintty pathname as required. Also, –dir is only supported on newer versions of mintty.)

The Wonderful World of Fibre Channel on eBay

I just bought a fibre channel HBA for $15 on a whim. This is (was) expensive equipment, and I joke that I have spent a significant portion of my career trying to kill the technology (see, e.g., iSCSI). Now that it’s cheap, I figured the least I could do was play with some equipment at home; and hopefully learn something.

Well, first I needed to connect it to something. Witness, a Brocade Silkworm 3200 switch (with 6 SFPs installed) that I bought for $9 (plus shipping).

Brocade Silkworm 3200E

But I still needed cables to connect the devices. At work they were throwing away fiber optics, and I also bought some for $1 each (free shipping!).

Picture of a fiber optic cable

But now I had a problem. I suspect the reason for the multi-thousand-dollar switch selling for under $10 was that the passwords were lost. Oh dear. Apparently many of these switches have been junked because the person who knows the passwords leaves the company. Brocade does not provide any support for these bricks (why should they, when you can buy a new one from them?) and the password reset is unique for each switch.

No problem, find a serial cable, and… oh, the management port is also password protected. Never mind, vxWorks has a terrible password hash (only about 80k unique hashes), so I tried them all over telnet. No dice, but the python telnetlib is nice.

Brocade was nice enough to leave the boot loader program in only a slightly disabled state though. That meant that I was able to dump the firmware out over the serial port (several hours of pressing ‘d’ to get a 9600bps hexdump).

The passwords were listed in the dump! They weren’t vxWorks, they were MD5-crypt(), gah! So I embarked on a fruitless guessing spree, but the standard password guessers (including a 15GB dictionary and brute force) only found a single, disabled user password. Hmm.

Another tack. After uncompressing the OS code, I was able to compile an old GNU binutils for the Intel 80960 and disassemble the machine code. Using the ECOFF information gleaned from Brocade’s obsolete procedure, I was able to flip a bit in the firmware. Yay! Default passwords again, and zones removed.

Now I can find out what FC is all about. In the mean time, I’ve learned a bunch of useless, but very enjoyable, password workarounds.

Utopia Limited Recordings

Fresh from the digital mixing toy, here are the recordings for Lyric Theatre’s Utopia Limited Sitzprobe. (From Dropbox, dismiss the sign-up ad, go to Download and select as .zip.)

Image of Lyric Theatre's 'Utopia Limited' poster from the 2014 performance.

The recording was made 26 September 2014 at Cupertino Middle School’s music room with a (pretty full) orchestra and cast.

Individual tracks are listed below.

Continue reading ‘Utopia Limited Recordings’


The kids now have their own YouTube channels. Visit:

I hope you like Lego….

Xorg Nvidia and Ubuntu Trusty

I have a rather picky home-theater-PC screen. After upgrading Ubuntu on the HTPC from Precise to Trusty, I just couldn’t get the display to sync. After switching out HDMI cables (which did change things, but not for the better) I figured out that xrandr --output HDMI-0 --mode 1348x752 would bring the display back. (It’s a custom mode line.)

However, I couldn’t make this mode change permanent in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. The nvidia-auto-select mode kept overriding things.

The solution was to add this line to the Monitor section of xorg.conf:

Option "ModeValidation" "HDMI-0: NoPredefinedModes, NoXServerModes, NoVesaModes, NoEdidModes"


Mikado Recordings

Somewhat faster than usual (thanks to less splicing and editing being required), the Mikado sitzprobe recordings are now available. From Dropbox, select download as .zip

Poster image from Lyric Theatre's 2014 performances of The Mikado

The recording was made 14 June 2014 in the Miller Middle School music room with the orchestra and a reduced cast.

Individual tracks are listed below.

Continue reading ‘Mikado Recordings’