Joe Blogs

Review of 2012



Drawing: 2012/12/30



Andy knitting, tried to add my sister but ended up with some kind of witch-troll instead, another christmas decoration, my own slipper/moccasin and a random googled image of a My Little Pony (don’t ask).my little pony,christmas tree,slipper,moccasin,andy,knitting

Drawing: 2012/12/29


Suddenly realised at the end of the day that I hadn’t drawn anything, while visiting my sister. Totally lacking inspiration, scribbled a few ill-proportioned still lives.


Drawing: 2012/12/28


Day 2:

An abortive attempt at copying a butterfly from a book of insects, and an even worse attempt at a grasshopper. The proportions were all wrong (actually, they were wrong on the butterfly, but not as badly)


Slightly better attempt at the grasshopper, a Lego Ninjago figure belonging to my son, and a couple of christmas decorations (a dove and a star).


Drawing: 2012/12/27


Last month, my sister wrote a blog post about being “able” to draw.

I come from a family of artists on my Dad’s side. He was a graphic designer and book illustrator and both his brothers have been involved in painting or book illustration at times. Both my paternal grandparents were illustrators (my grandfather illustrated the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records and posters for Oliver):

Elsie Wrigley

Denis Wrigley

My sister has artistic aptitude, as you can see from her blog and galleries and is working on illustrating children’s books. I, however, have always been the “science-y” one. Drawing has never come easily to me. Proportions are wrong, and I lose patience and interest quickly.

Reading Susie’s post, though, inspired me to try again. I bought myself a sketch pad and some pencils and a cheap netbook case to keep them in, and I am trying to draw something every day. To keep me at it, I’m going to post it all here, however crap it is. I’m hoping that by simply getting something down on paper most days, I’ll start to improve or at least find a style of my own that doesn’t look too awful.

Here’s my first drawing. Just a collection of things lying around the living room at Christmas.


The teardown continues


Oscar and I continued the process of dismantling the LTD this morning.

First off, drained the cooling system and removed the radiator.

Second, remove the exhaust. Overjoyed to find that the nuts on the stud came off easily (not snapping).

Next was to begin the process of removing the engine. The Haynes manual has a fairly short list of steps for this, but each one refers to one or more other chapters. In some cases, this was a little recursive:

Remove air filter box

Remove carburettors

On reading the section on removing the air filter box, it turned out that the carburettors needed to be removed first. But the carburettors were extremely difficult to budge with the air filter box. Argh! Horrible job, ending up with basically brute force to lever them free of the intakes on the engine and the air filter box. I think I shall investigate using pod filters instead when we rebuild it (probably needs rejetting etc if we do).

Discovered that the choke cable was totally shot, so that’s one more think that will need replacing.

After fighting the carbs off we called it a day and bagged everything up in ziplock bags and labelled them. Next time, I hope to get the rest of the engine out.

Disabling comments for individual posts in WordPress


This had me stumped for a while, so I’m posting this for other, and to jog my memory if I forget.

I’m not sure when it happened, but in more recent versions of WordPress the page/post editing screen has been cleaned up by default to not include some of the (presumably lesser-used) options.

The way to re-enable them is via the “Screen Options” menu in the top right-hand corner:

Screen Options drop-down

Once clicked, it opens a menu where you can toggle various aspects; Categories, Tags, Excerpt, Send Trackbacks, Custom Fields, Discussion, Comments, Slug and Author.

Discussion is the option you need to turn on to disable comments, as “Comments” only shows the existing comments. ¬†Somewhat disconcertingly, I found that the Discussion section, when it appeared, was empty:

Screenshot from 2012-12-14 09:49:02

However, if you click on the Discussion bar, it will expand and show you the check boxes for “Allow comments” and “Allow trackbacks and pingbacks on this page”.

Screenshot from 2012-12-14 09:49:09

Not all that intuitive, I guess. But you may find similar features hidden in the “Screen Options” on other parts of the admin dashboard. Check it out.

Automounting USB disk on boot with systemd in Fedora


I had a requirement to boot a USB disk (a Hitachi SimpleDrive) on a machine I rarely log into via the GUI. In the good old days, I’d hack up a udev script to do it.

In Fedora, with the advent of systemd, I googled and quickly became horribly confused about how it should work.

I found some stuff about systemd and automount, but the idea of a system.automount unit file scared me and I *really* didn’t want to have to learn too much more about systemd, just in order to mount a disk (I guess I’m putting off the inevitable since, professionally, I support Oracle Linux and I imagine it will eventually start to use systemd).

I found the man page for systemd.mount(5) and read:

Mount units may either be configured via unit files, or via /etc/fstab
(see fstab(5) for details).

When reading /etc/fstab a few special mount options are understood by
systemd which influence how dependencies are created for mount points
from /etc/fstab. If comment=systemd.mount is specified as mount option,
then systemd will create a dependency of type Wants from either or, depending whether the file system
is local or remote. If comment=systemd.automount is set, an automount
unit will be created for the file system. See systemd.automount(5) for

I obviously hadn’t drunk enough coffee, so I couldn’t seem to grok this, and had to read

Well, systemd possesses magic powers, in form of the comment=systemd.automount mount option in /etc/fstab. If you specify it, systemd will create an automount point at /home and when at the time of the first access to the file system it still isn’t backed by a proper file system systemd will wait for the device, fsck and mount it.

I added:

UUID=d0e1f72d-c56e-4239-ae79-277af99ada7a /simpledrive ext4 defaults,comment=systemd.automount 1 2

On reboot, I got dumped to a systemd console, and I thought maybe it was because the volume was being mounted before it was ready, so I added noauto, to let systemd pick it up later:

UUID=d0e1f72d-c56e-4239-ae79-277af99ada7a /simpledrive ext4 noauto,defaults,comment=systemd.automount 1 2

Still failed, but this time I got to see an error, and ran:

# systemctl status automount.simpledrive

and it told me something about a resource. I figured out I’d misunderstood this line by Lennart:

If you specify it, systemd will create an automount point

and that I needed to manually create /simpledrive:

# mkdir /simpledrive

After that,

# systemctl status simpledrive.automount
Loaded: loaded
Active: active (running) since Mon, 03 Dec 2012 10:25:00 +0000; 1h 51min ago
Where: /simpledrive

and on reboot, the drive is mounted:

systemd-1 on /simpledrive type autofs (rw,relatime,fd=44,pgrp=1,timeout=300,minproto=5,maxproto=5,direct)
/dev/sdd1 on /simpledrive type ext4 (rw,relatime,data=ordered)

The teardown begins


My existing bike is a 1985 Kawasaki EN450 454LTD. It had problems with starting, which got partially solved by taking it to a mechanic but before I’d ridden it a handful of miles, it had electrical problems I haven’t managed to solve.

In the snow

I have acquired another bike, which still needs a bit of work (wrangling with exhaust studs, mostly) to get it on the road, but I am loathe to lose the Kawasaki. I now have the luxury of not needing to keep it on the road so I am making it my “project” bike. I’m not sure what the end result will be, whether just restoring it to roadworthiness or turning it into a bobber. I have extremely basic mechanic and electrical skills, so I hope to learn something if nothing else.

The first stage is to get it into bits small enough to carry it through the house and down the garden to the shed where I can work on it under cover. I spent an hour with my 5-year-old son taking the first steps toward this goal. We removed the seat, fuel tank, front wheel and forks. I’ve ordered a load of ziplock bags to put all the bits in as we get deeper in. It was wonderful spending some “man” time together, and he really enjoyed himself, bringing his own toolbox out in case I needed some help :-) Also, he actually did really help me, sliding a support under the frame just right while I lifted the front end up after I’d removed the front wheel.

I intend to use this under-utilised blog to document things.

The bike has been sitting on the drive under a cover for over 2 years. It has not enjoyed the experience, I think. I am going to do a full strip down, and probably tackle the frame first, once the engine’s out, as that probably requires the least skill and can involve my son.