Sunday, 19 November 2017 - 7:43pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 19/11/2017 - 7:43pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 12 November 2017 - 5:01pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 12/11/2017 - 5:01pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 5 November 2017 - 4:29pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 05/11/2017 - 4:29pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 29 October 2017 - 7:59pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 29/10/2017 - 7:59pm in

Oy, this week… My life! 'Ere's all I can offer. For you and you only. Top quality schmutter. I'm cuttin' me own froat gaw blimey:

Sunday, 22 October 2017 - 6:24pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 22/10/2017 - 6:24pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Friday, 20 October 2017 - 12:42pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 20/10/2017 - 12:42pm in

When you don't have a job, it's particularly annoying to see so many people who can't do theirs:

"The memorable songs kept on coming with the group delving back to its earliest days then playing the songs that made the Oils one of the biggest acts in the world.
"The end of each number leaving the crowd calling out for more.
"All except one that was.
"After half a dozen songs one crowd member was escorted out for drunken behaviour which led Garrett to make a speech about how they expect their fans to be courteous and have consideration for all.
"A message reiterated with a section of the UN convention in big letters draped above the stage reminding all that every human being is worthy of the same respect and rights.


"If the open air venue had a roof, when The Power And The Passion was performed it would've well and truly been blown off.

"The die-hard fans who raced to the front row when the gates opened four hours before the headline act hit the stage weren't disappointed when the memorable show came to an end."

As it turns out, I am practically eating from the palm of the reviewer's hand. The one sentence per-paragraph rule is, frankly, a relief when so often these days one has to deal with multiple ideas without a whitespace breather.

A string of random words also counts as a sentence.

A sentence of Hemingway-esque minimalist brilliance that is.

If this review had a roof, or an editor, it would have been well and truly blown off. I'm now going to delay reading the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights to read instead "the UN convention in big letters". I'm getting on a bit, so I can't ignore the fact that my eyes are the same age as the rest of me. I don't know why it's not common practice to publish large print editions of international agreements.

There is a lot to think about here. It's been memorable, but I wasn't disappointed to get to the end of it.

Users and groups in Debian: getting it right

Published by Matthew Davidson on Thu, 19/10/2017 - 1:15pm in

So ideally when I set up a new computer, I want all the users I trust — including, by necessity and regrettably, myself — to be in the staff group, and all the files they create to be by default writable by anyone in that group. This ought to be easy, and in fact now is, but has changed repeatedly over the decades I've been using Debian GNU/Linux, so I can never remember how it's done, hence this note.

You will need to do all this as root, and to be on the safe side, make sure any user(s) you want to put into the staff group are not currently logged in, as files and directories in the affected home directories will be reassigned to the group, which (I guess) won't work for any currently opened by a running process.

If you enable the pam_umask PAM module, you will only need to configure group-writability once, and it will work regardless of whether you're logging in locally, SSHing, or whatever. As root, edit /etc/pam.d/common-session to include this line:

session optional

Then edit the umask line in /etc/login.defs like so:


If yours isn't a fresh Debian install, the umask setting may already have been overridden in one or more of:

  • /etc/profile
  • /etc/bash.bashrc
  • ~/.profile
  • ~/.bashrc

If so, delete or comment out where necessary. (Source)

Adding a user to the staff group is:

usermod -a -G staff myusername

Making staff the user's primary group — the one which by default newly created files and directories are owned by — is just:

usermod -g staff myusername

Too easy.

Sunday, 15 October 2017 - 3:01pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 15/10/2017 - 3:01pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 - 7:58pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 10/10/2017 - 7:58pm in

Coffs Harbour is defined by the NSW Government's 2036 North Coast Regional Plan as a regional city and it does home a Southern Cross University campus.

But would you consider Coffs a university city?

I would love Coffs Harbour to become a university city. The trouble is that SCU is a vocational college that happens to have the word "university" in it's brand name. Last year the incoming Vice Chancellor, who in a stunning departure from the norm for bottom-tier uni VCs is not an out-and-proud philistine, nonetheless wrote to students "I want to assure you that your employability and your future career success are top priorities for all of us."

Obviously somebody who has the ability and inclination to pursue an academic education will inevitably also be employable, but SCU does not offer an academic education. All the work a student does is assessed against predetermined "marking criteria", which refer to desired "learning outcomes", which are in turn linked to "graduate attributes", which ultimately answer to the needs of employers. It's a TAFE with airs and graces. It's three additional years of high school with a much narrower range of subjects and virtually no permanent full-time teaching staff. And under the "demand driven system" it has a commercial imperative to take all comers, and ensure as many as possible complete courses which are consequently so dumbed-down as to be meaningless.

The post-1988 expansion of alleged higher education is a scam built on the hoax of "human capital". By flogging a false promise of employability instead of contributing to the intellectual life of its host community, SCU Coffs is merely the largest leech in the swamp in which it sits.

Sunday, 8 October 2017 - 6:16pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 08/10/2017 - 6:16pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading: