Authentication Survey

On the off chance that there are some people reading my live journal, we're doing a survey on what people think about the costs authentication advice. There's a version for people who tend servers/computers/services here, and if you have 10-15 minutes, we'd love if you could give us your opinion on a miscellany of advice.

We do have a survey for users of services too, it's here, but takes a little longer to complete. As it's easier to find people who use services, we're more eager to find people to fill in the admin version, above.


Rational choice theories are those that reason about behaviour based on those in the system acting on rationally to achieve their own interests. Rational ignorance is when you are ignorant about something, but the cost of addressing that ignorance is larger than the possible gains from knowing the answer. Rational irrationality is when you have a mild preference for a irrational belief and the cost of holding that irrational belief is small enough that you don't care if it is irrational or not.

All done

It seems that French people actually say "fait accompli", or at least one of them did on a phone call within earshot...

FreeBSD Soekris serial console

I keep meaning to write down a reasonable set of options for making the serial console for booting FreeBSD on a Soekris box work well, so I don't have to keep looking them up. In the BIOS, set ConSpeed=19200. Next, in /boot.config add -P -S19200 - this tells the boot blocks to use a serial console at 19200 if there no keyboard attached. Then, in /boot/loader.conf add


which does the same for the loader. Finally, make sure that /boot/device.hints has either hint.uart.0.flags="0x10" or hint.uart.0.flags="0x30". On older FreeBSD systems this would be sio rather than uart.

You may then also want to enable a getty at 19200 in /etc/ttys.


The oldest reference I can find to "principle of least astonishment" on Usenet is in comp.sys.amiga in 1988, though the new google groups interface seems to have trouble sorting by date (feedback filed).

Using ngram, it seems that there is a much earlier reference in "Information Retrieval: Ground Rules for Indexing" from 1963.

(The alternative versions from wikipedia, replacing "principle" with "rule" or "law" and/or "astonishment" with "surprise" look like they are probably newer.)

Price of a pint

The Economist had a nice chart showing long you have to work to earn 500ml of beer. However, they didn't include a link to the original report and didn't include Ireland (for shame, tomorrow is Arthur's day)

I can find the average hourly wage on the CSO site and it looks like the average is usually about 120% of the median, so I reckon the median wage must be about 18.25.

According to (and it's roughly backed up by, who have historical data on the ratio of pint prices and average incomes), the average cost of a pint is about 4.50. So, for 500ml of beer you work for 60*4.50/18.25*500/473, or 15 minutes 38 seconds. That puts us between roughly Mexico and Britain.

TS -> mp4 -> DVD

Today I converted a YouTube video to a DVD for one relative, and converted a programme recorded using out DVB-T&S DVR box into a DVD for another. It took a bit of fiddling around to find a smooth path for both, but the following seems to work.

For YouTube, I used a Firefox plugin to download the mp4 video. Then I used iDVD on my Mac to make the DVD: you just drag the video file into the menu, then can drag a picture into the background and finally you click on the Burn icon.

For the DVR recording, I copied the .ts file from the DVR. Then I used Handbreak to convert the .ts file into mp4. The file contained not just the programme, but some stuff on either side, so I used Quicktime's "Trim" then "Export" to produce a new mp4 file. Then I followed the technique above for creating the DVD.


This list of non-errors in English reminded me that CA has a nice regularisation in his grammar at the moment. He must know that adverbs often end in "ly" in British English, so at the moment, somethings are done "fastly" and "hardly". We did get "goodly" for a bit, but it seems to be less common now.