Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Great Canadian

I was walking around my neighborhood of the 6th Arr.of Paris last night, looking for a place to have a beer. Now having been a bartender in the same area, I pretty much know all the bars, and was pretty much getting sick of all of them. I mean you can go to a place only a certain amount of times before you just get bored.

So I was walking down Quai des Grands Augustins, from Rue Dauphine to Saint Michel, and came across a place I didn't know - The Great Canadian Pub. Now this place looks cool - from outside you see the multiple flatscreens alongs the walls, the bar is nicely lit up, but the place in general is quite dim, which is great - Most bar managers have issues with lighting a place properly. Most of the time you'll walk into a pub or bar, there'll be too much or too little light. The general atmosphere appealed to me, so I walked in.

Well the place lived up to the expectation - I took some Stella on tap - nice, cold beer. The atmosphere is great. The guys behind the bar are authentic Canadians (It's good to see a place that has bartenders which fit into the environment). I ended up knowing the owner/manager quite well, from my days as a bartender. He had already opened a place some 7 or 8 years ago in the 6th, called the Moosehead, which mich and I are quite familiar with. The Great Canadian was his own place, and he told me they had just opened, at the end of summer 2005. There is mucho space in front of the bar, so the summertime terrace there will be great, and he told me they serve Sunday brunch ALL DAY - which is not an easy thing to find in Paris. The menu looks good, I saw some stuff that I'm definitely going to try, and the prices are pretty decent for central Paris.

I took this picture whilst leaving the place:

and this is a picture I found here of the same place during the summertime:

In any case, I think I'll be going back to this place. I like the general feel of it, and it's good to have a new place to go to. Plus the bar is beautifully located - I mean you can see Notre Dame from the terrace! Oh yeah, there are also flatscreens just above the urinals - just a detail, but it's pretty damn sweet (I think only men can understand that)

Here's the place's business card!

Closest subway is St. Michel, but Odeon or Cluny-La-Sorbonne should be good as well.

Voila! If you have a chance to drop by, check the place out!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Soekris net4501

Got my soekris boxes the other day.. they are nice little things..

Obviously I forgot to buy some CF (compact flash) cards, so I had to score a 64MB cards from one of my Cisco routers.. I've ordered 256MB CF cards, as 64MB and 128MB might be a bit too tight.. but hey, if 64MB is all I have for the moment, I'll make it work.
I used PHK's nanobsd shell-script to build an image, that I could dd(1) to the CF. Only problem: I do not have a CF reader/writer. So how to get the image over on the CF-card...
Fortunately, the network adapters in the soekris can PXE boot, so I simply setup a diskless FreeBSD environment - and booted up the soekris on the NFS share (granted it took a little while, to make all the things play along).

After booting up the diskless system, I could do the following from the box (connected via console):

# ssh myhost 'cat _.the-disk-image' | dd of=/dev/ad0 bs=64k
(ad0 being the CF card in the soekris)

Et voila:
I will rollout these babies as firewalls in all our office locations.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Opening hours

So I just popped out for lunch to pick up a couple of bottles of wine.. I usually eat my lunch at around 1pm, so I drove over to out local Nicolas wine pusher at around that time. To my big surprise they were closed..
After closer studying the "opening" hours, it seems that they close everyday for lunch !
How incredibly stupid is that ?!?!
So they open from 10am to 12pm (where normal people are at work, so cannot go an shop) - then they close from 12pm to 15pm (where everyone has they lunch breaks, and are able to spend money in the shop) - and open from 15pm to whatever (when people^h^hconsumers are back at work)

On top of that these shops have the audacity to complain about:
1) Their work hours
2) The fact that they work too hard (*cough*)
3) Their turnover

I'm bustin' a vein here, people !

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Da "Tech" Workshop

A little project of ours for a while now has been to put up a piece of plexiglass in order to close up the gap left by the aircon exhausts in our server room. This of course was a relative pain in the ass, considering that it let scorching hot air in during the summertime, and rain in the rest of the year.

Well we finally did it. We had the equipment - jigsaw (called a 'bouncing peepee' by the Danes..), drills, screws, and a big piece of plexiglass.

After several hours of head-scratching, jigging, drilling, erasing, gluing and drilling again, here is the result - which i might add, isn't half that bad for a couple of morons..

We're available if you need handymen, just give us a call on 1-800-MORONS-AT-WORK


USB key/stick with UFS(GBDE) and FAT32

So, I have one of them USB sticks. I don't really use it much - but I'd like to. I'm just generally against having some (semi)-important data on, that anyone can stick into a MS Windows box and gain access to...
Well, I have my USB stick attached to my keychain, and my keychain is often with me when I'm getting drunk - so the probability of me losing my keys (hence my USB stick) is quite high.

So how to remedy, this most unfortunate situation and make good use of my USB dongle ?
What are my criterias ? I want to be able to stick it in any computer with an USB hub, and have a public place to share files. I also want to be able to have an encrypted part of the key, that I can access with FreeBSD.

First make sure you have the appropriate devices and options in your kernel config (you can find this information anywhere on the net).

When plugging in my usb device, I see the following in syslog:

Dec 13 12:15:48 mich kernel: umass0: SanDisk Corp. Cruzer Micro, rev 2.00/20.33, addr 2
Dec 13 12:15:48 mich kernel: da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 target 0 lun 0
Dec 13 12:15:48 mich kernel: da0: Removable Direct Access SCSI-0 device
Dec 13 12:15:48 mich kernel: da0: 1.000MB/s transfers
Dec 13 12:15:48 mich kernel: da0: 125MB (256000 512 byte sectors: 64H 32S/T 125C)
Yeah, I've got one of them SanDisk Cruzer 128MB sticks.

First off, I'll partition the stick - so I have two partitions. One for FAT32 and one for UFS. If commandline fdisk(1) is too complex, you can use the fdisk(1) interface from /stand/sysinstall. (Please know what you are doing here, as you can mess of the partitions on your harddrive - should you write to the wrong device).
Also, I'm asuming you've backed up all data on your USB dongle ! No ? Well, your loss.

So - I've split up my key into two 64MB partitions (slices) - one (the first) with subtype 6 (FAT) and the second with subtype 165(UFS). To contruct the actual filesystem, I will use newfs_msdos(1) - like so:

root@mich ~# newfs_msdos -F 32 /dev/da0s1
Now - you will have a perfectly usable FAT32 partition on the first slice. Stick it into a MS Windows PC and see it work. This will function as my public share on the key.

The second slice I'll use for the encrypted part. You should not newfs(1) it, before having created the encrypted device - else you'll be able to mount two different filesystems that will write to the same sectors on the device - and we all know, that can't be good.

Start of by initializing gbde and creating a key. (Make sure you have OPTIONS GEOM_BDE compiled into your kernel, or that you have loaded the kernel module)

root@mich ~# gbde init /dev/da0s2 -i
This will bring up a template with the description of the parameters for gbde. Since I'm using an UFS filesystem, I will change the sector_size to 2048 as it should be set to the fragment size. The rest I will leave as default.
Now you will be prompted for your passphrase:

Enter new passphrase:
Fill it in twice, and voila. (The longer the passphrase, the better the encryption)

Now you can do:

root@mich ~# gbde attach /dev/da0s2
Enter passphrase:
root@mich ~# mount /dev/da0s2.bde /mnt/key

Once you are finished putting top secret files (or your porn) into /mnt/key - you should do the following:

root@mich ~# umount /mnt/key
root@mich ~# gbde detach /dev/da0s2.bde
And your porn^h^h^hdata - is now safely stored on your USB device.

PS. Don't forget your passphrase, or you'll be screwed.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Burn baby - BURN!

How happy I was to leave the office on Friday - I mean a whole 2 DAYS without seeing mich's face - what else could I hope for? Ahhh, finally a couple days of chilling out without having to look at his ugly mug!

So I go home and pick up my gf to go do some christmas shopping. On our way back from shopping, we get off at the Mabillon Metro station, and who - WHO do we cross at the Marché St. Germain? You guessed it! Mr.mich, freshly hairdressed and pretty, and his wife. They were in the area to go get some mexican food, so we gladly tagged along, because no matter what the occasion, Fajitas are always in the house!

We went to Fajitas, a nice little restaurant on Rue Dauphine (Paris, 6th arrondissement). This is one of the few places in paris where the Mexican food is actually good - REAL good.

We went apeshit on the pitchers of strawberry margarita, ordered a bunch of food, and had a jolly old time. 2x 1 liter pitchers and a few tequila shots later (oh, and a couple "Café Mexicains" - Coffee with cream and tequila), we were laughing and basically making tools of ourselves in the restaurant, which frankly was alright, considering we were having a blast!

We took this picture on our way out. It'll help you identify the place on rue Dauphine,were you in the area and in need of some tequila and beans...

Fajitas Restaurant
15 Rue Dauphine, Paris 6eme.
Tel: 01-46-34-44-69
*Reserve on weekend nights, because it gets packed fast.

On the way back from Fajitas, we walked past a promotional truck with a bunch of people that were getting ready to do a promotional stunt for the new Coca-Cola drink called "Burn". Being a bit tipsy, we went straight for them and asked them to fork over some of them drinks, and they did. Surprised by this spontaneous generosity, we took a pic of the group, and told them we'd put them online. Here they are!

Basically, this drink is another one of those "energy drinks". It tastes nice, and actually reminds me of the original kratindaeng we used to drink in Thailand (the original small glass bottle, no bubbles caffeine/taurine drink). Here's the link to the real stuff:

In any case, we had an absolutely brilliant evening, the food and company was great!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Me, on the french government

It's time for the 6th republic.


Oh, and happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

RATP/ SNCF issues in Paris

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I am no sick of this damn city! It should NEVER, EVER take me 1:30 hours to get to work!

This is what it's like in the morning:

So I got to work at 9:30, having left home at 8....
That just ruins your day.. when you have to go through that hell in the morning...

Screw those bastards at the SNCF and the RATP - I, as a daily commuter, am sick of their bitching and incompetence.



Monday, December 05, 2005


Pretty uneventful weekend - after a successful Broker Meeting with work Thursday/Friday - I *really* needed some "solid-sack-time" to regain my strength. Too much booze in too little time..

Saturday we begun (ever so slightly) our Christmas shopping, *sigh* - I'm not a fan of shopping in December - too many people.. Managed to find a few things though - Most notable the game "BopIt" that I've been looking awhile for. It's excellent entertainment, especially after a few drinks. First tried it out, at Ben's summer bash at Fontainebleau.
After went to the 17th (haven't been there in ages) - Avenue Clichy is not as bad as it used to be, found a nice "Bar a Biere" and had a cold brewskie.

Sunday, we went to Chateau de Chantilly - and spend some time walking around the beautiful park - and visiting the museum. Awesome paintings, and a very old library - definitely worth a visit.

Back to work now - got so much shit to do... The backlog is immense. Just ordered a couple of Soekris 4501's (embedded systems) - I want to play around with them, and eventually set them up as remote office firewalls - upside is, that the OS will be running of a compact flash card, so no harddrive that can crash or overheat etc etc .. Nor any fans, that can get stuck... Also it's a lot smaller, and makes absolutely no noise.