Older blog entries for rillian (starting at number 71)

hating computers

So, advogato is back up-ish. Raph has moved it to the new machine we bought to replace the ghostscript.com host, which expired some time ago and only survives now only as an artificial creature, dependent on life support.

There may be a few more glitches as we transition the machine's primary responsibilities, but hopefully things will stay up a little better now.

Sometimes I hate computers. I feel like I've spent more than half of the last 3 months fighting with broken servers. The hosts for both ghostscript.com and xiph.org imploded about the same time, and getting replacements online was in both cases something of a nightmare. The lesson, at least for me, is that when you're trying to do things on the cheap, build the machine locally and ship; the kind of on-site support you need if it doesn't work costs more than the hardware, and you won't save anything by having someone build something locally.

For Xiph.org we also ended up switching hosting providers. Our primary server is now with the very cool folks at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab. We were also inspired by the pain of the downtime and data loss to set up some redundancy, and in particular mirrors for the websites. If you'd like to help us out, email the xiph.org webmaster; we need both mid-bandwidth web hosts for the sites, and high-bandwidth mirrors for media content and release files.

Still, an end is hopefully in site. At least if my home machine would also stop trashing its disk.

Ex Londonium

I finally received my Canadian immigration papers this past November, and officially became a resident on December 21st last year. After spending xmas was my partner's family in Kingston, we found a nice apartment in downtown Vancouver, then went back to London to pack up there. We came back ourselves at the end of February and the things we shipped finally arrived in June, so we're officially here. It's really nice to be back.

The reverse culture shock was interesting. When I first moved to Vancouver 10 years ago it was the biggest city I had ever lived in. After a while I got used to the scale and enjoyed taking advantage of all the things on offer. Then we went to London, one of the largest cities in the world. So when we came back, we were struck by how pleasant and friendly everyone was, how clean the streets were, but also how small it all was. Now Vancouver is just a place with only two cheese shops.

These things wear off though, and we're still happy with our decision to return. It was a great experience to be able to live in Europe for a few years, but London wasn't our first choice as a place to stay.


fatal: I'm not surprised you're getting forks. The xmms program remains the most widely used audio playing in linuxland, and when the custodians of such an important brand don't provide leadership, other people inevitably step forward to try. We all want things to get better, and of course the right to fork is all about that being possible. Ideally such things either motivate you to finally do your own version, or one of the forks eventually becomes the official version again though clear superiority or popularity. But by telling people they can't call it 'xmms2' you're ensuring that someone else will try, until there really is a successful xmms2...even if it's still called xmms.

Re making it a video player, I've always been confused about that. Adding a general multiplexed media framework seemed the obvious step back when 1.2 was new, and the intent was obviously there at some point or it would just have been called 'xms'. I didn't know it was a schism between xmms.org and 4Front. (If I may define the groups that way; seemed like they were almost the same back in 2000.)

Oh well, someday soon we'll get a decent modern player. Pity it won't be called xmms, because it's a very cool name.

Hating computers

It looks like the hard drive corruption I complained about last entry was just the disk itself going bad. I started to get repeatable errors reading from the root partition, though the home partition remained thankfully readable. Coincidence with the DVD burner apparently. And maybe obvious in retrospect. Oops.

Anyway, I backup up a lot of stuff and moved the rest onto the newer 80 GB drive, now booting with a fresh debian install. That was kind of crowded though, so I bought a new 160 GB drive for general data storage. Yay free space!


I've finally been approved for an immigration visa to Canada. HOORAY! I'm cutting short the current stay in London to go home and finish the paper work. The plan is to 'land', as they quaintly refer to it, soon after xmas and start setting up in Vancouver again in January. Anyone in the area who knows of a free room we could rent for a while (even just a week or three while we look for a real place) please let me know!

S is keeping her post at UCL for the moment; she'll help pick out the apartment and then return to London, and I'll follow when everything is settled for a last round of europe. There are museums in london still on the 'must see' list. Ordinarily we'd avoid paying double rent, but the London flat is free in the sense that S hasn't found a job in Vancouver yet and I feel safer having somewhere to go to on the other side. Hopefully the chance to see more of europe will be worth the time apart.

Since I'll be in California anyway, I'm going to SCALE in November with a bunch of the xiph people, most of whom I haven't met in person before. Should be a lot of just, and hopefully we can drum up a little more interest.

Solar Power

Bram, there are several problems with your solar energy proposal. The most fundamental is that you're trying to drive a steam turbine with the pressure generated by the boiling water. If the only reason it's boiling is that you've pumping on it, there's no postive pressure differential with the ambient air you can use to turn the turbine. All your steam will out out through the vacuum pump, and the only way the turbine will turn is if you pull outside air through it backward with the vacuum pump: a classic perpetual motion design. Pumping air out of the enclosure also isn't free, and would likely cost too much for the system to run even if the boiling magically worked.

Using enough mirrors that the water boils on its own does work fine however. It's called Solar Thermal generation, and there are a number of plants in operation based on that principle. I've driven by the ones in California a number of times. They're kind of pretty.

One drawback of the whole boiler-turbine-condenser loop is that the machinery and pressure vessels tend to be large and heavy, so they're more cost effective at the MW scale than as something you'd want for household generation. Which is why most building-scale solar thermal systems just produce hot water, not electricity, and people use photovoltaic panels instead if they want power. It's possible something like a 2m dish solar stirling engine would work for that, at least until we get cheap, quantum-efficient solar electric materials. Plants, after all, do it everyday.

I hate computers

Ok, not really, but it's been ridiculous. Last week I bought a DVD-R drive. This is actually my first burner: I kept waiting for CD-R drives to get cheaper (and could usually borrow from friend and office when I needed one) and when they were finally cheap enough for me, well, I was waiting for DVD-R drives to get cheaper. :)

But it's been hard to make backups since we moved to London, and I was starting to run out of disk space, so when I saw one for £140 I bought it. Yay, at last! I hooked it up, installed cdrecord, picked a likely looking 4 GB of backups, and started a burn.

First hitch. It turns out cdrecord doesn't support burning dvds; that's a payware add-on. Except it's still freeware for personal/academic use. So there's a binary you can download. Which I do. Except it doesn't burn more than 1 GB. Oh, there's a 'license key' you have to set in an environment variable. Ok, we write a script to do that, which looks just like the script they suggest you use further down the README page.

Yay, my first complete burn of...a coaster. Huh. Ok, we'll try again, this time at half the speed. I bought cheap media, so maybe this is the problem. 2x takes awhile...Let's just check this in the drive itself instead of the laptop. Nice, mount locks the machine! That's not good.

So I hard reset the machine. I check the disk on the laptop, and yes, another coaster. Not having gotten a clue yet, I try again at 1x after the fsck completes. That really takes awhile, and this time I eject the disk before trying to mount it, having vaguely remembered that resets broken drives. Coaster number three. This is not the shiny toy experience I was hoping for.

I give up and go back to work. A little while later the machine locks, independent of mount. This time, as I reset, I notice the hard drive light is on solid. Uh-oh. I reboot, and this time it wants a manual fsck. (yes, my root partion was still ext2). It finds a lot of problems. With a sinking feeling I try reboot, and the kernel load fails. So do all the backup kernels. Did I mention I'd not made a backup in way too long? And my rescue cd's are all from over a debian version ago, and can't even mount my reiserfs partitions. Oh, the irony.

Anyway, near as I can tell, turning DMA on for the DVD-R drive (a Pioneer A06) causes disk corruption on the other controller. At least with my motherboard and recent 2.4 linux. What? Is this 1997? It's not like DMA is this fancy new technology we're just figuring out how to support.

I borrowed a rh8 cd to use for rescue, made backups of what data I could, managed to burn a debian netinst image, and did a fresh install from there. Fortunately, all the home directories seem to have escaped damage, so it was just the system config I lost. As usual after a fire, there's been refreshing new growth: things run better now that I don't have so much cruft installed, I'm trying Gnome again, and I was finally motivated to clean up the partitioning and, for example, consolidate my two home directories--legacy of when what used to be two computers became this one. And I can burn discs fine now. But what a frustrating experience! Also turns out that dvd+rw-tools includes a program that will burn CD- and DVD-R, despite the name. Of course, we're all still using iso9660 instead of UDF, but that's a problem for another day.


Back in London for a few weeks now. It's good to be home. Strangely, I'm finally coming to like living here, now that we're almost ready to leave. I think maybe it just takes a while (like more than a year) for me to get comfortable in a place; until then I don't know if I like it or not.

Sandra and I had a really nice time on the california coast. We especially liked Morro Bay, and had an authentic surfer dude encounter in Santa Cruz. I've always found that area really relaxing, so it was an effective vacation.

After Sandra when back to the UK, I spent a week visiting jack in Albuquerque. We had a great time and it was good to see him again. They've got a nice set-up there, which I got to see finally, and we did geek-tourism things like visiting the VLA. It's a pity we don't want to live in the US; I hope we can do as well in Vancouver.

Virus bounces

Sorry you've joined the esteemed ranks of the virus bounce recipients, garym. I've been on it for a while, mostly as an admin of the ghostscript.com lists, since we have TMDA filtering of the xiph.org lists. However, in this outbreak I've been getting lots to my xiph.org address; apparently it trolls the web cache, which explains that, and why everyone's suddenly asking us to purge the addresses from the archives.

Inappropriate spam bounces actually account for more than half of the messages caught by the list filters. Of course it's terrible; I expect the problem is there's no integration between the site's MTA and the virus filter's they've bought, so the filter has no way to obtain the envelope sender or otherwise guess whether the from is spooffed.

Of course, replying at all in the case of the virulent Sobig strains, which are known to spoof, is inexcusable laziness. I find a ray of hope two weeks ago when I complained to a particularly personally worded bounce and the admin actually said they would clean up the problem. Hooray!

I don't know though. It's really starting to look like we need a replacement to mailing lists. Usenet news was better, but we moved to lists because of spam. Now it's time to move again, but I don't know what to.

C macros (sometimes) harmful

chalst responded to raph's complaint about macros and error reporting protesting that C macros (unlike M4 in the context of autotools) work fine. That is generally true, and they're quite a powerful feature; C would be 2/3 the language it is without them. The contraints are mostly idiomatic however. Another example of poor error reporting and debuging performance raph had in mind was in fact Ghostscript, which is written in C. It also implements memory structure tracing for garbage collection and an object system (among other things) with preprocessor macros. It's not unusual for these macros to be 5 layers deep, with definitions spanning several files, qualitatively similar to the complexity you see with the autotools. It's definitely a demonstration of the power of the macro system, but it can be no fun at all to debug the code. I suppose it's a combination of the unfamiliar idiom and the lack of debugger support, but there's probably a reason the preprocessor in C is usually limited to constant substitution, trival inline functions, conditional compilation. and some definitional magic within header files.


I'm in California for a few weeks. Came to San Francisco to get the required physical for my Canadian Immigration Visa. S came with me this time so we've been having some vacation. In addition to the usual visiting with friends we went to Yosemite for 4 days. S followed up with a week long backpacking trip while I stayed in the Bay Area working and visiting with raph, and now we're renting a car for a week and travelling along the central coast. Looking forward to more perfectly wonderful weather. :)

Poynton's Google Juice

I wonder how much of raph's experience with gamma correction information on google has to do with Poyton's article having fallen off the web for over a year. My impression was that it was becoming the definitive reference for this, when it disappeared. I'm glad it's back up again, but it will take a while for people to relink. Even the Gamma FAQ itself still references the old location.

sorry state of affairs

So live.guadec.org has a live A/V stream...in realplayer. Ouch. Real is actually (still) a reasonable choice for live video streaming, but a vorbis stream and a continuously refreshing webcam page work about as well. Better if you feed it the viewgraphs at a reasonable size. But there's absolutely no excuse for archiving talks in realaudio. I shouldn't have to say it, but use Vorbis. So much for the benefits of open technology.

I guess this is really another clue that we're not doing a good enough job with the tools. Icecast2 remains perpetually unreleased, and while it's not hard to get working, it could certainly involve fewer steps and the documentation doesn't amount to much. And no one's ever written a brain-dead webcasting app.

theora alpha 2

In the actually doing something about it dept., we made the alpha 2 milestone release of the theora video codec last week. Yay! We've made all the bitstream-compatibility changes we intend for 1.0, so the main idea was to get people looking at it in case we need to make any more. :) Bug fixing and code clean up continue, but the main item for the beta release is a specification for the codec. If you'd like some code to read, please check out the source and pitch in with the writing.


Mostly settled in after the move now, and even starting to figure out where things are. It's certainly much more suburban than where we were in East London, which is nice...and a little scary that it's nice. Fortunately the tourist traffic to the gardens holds back the residencia in our little corner.

We're also right across the street from a nice (they're wonderfully snooty) cafe, so today I moved the airport up on top of the kitchen cabinets so it had line-of-sight out the window, and now I'm getting a nice strong signal amongst the umbrellas. It's too bad I don't drink coffee, it's a nice place to work.

The DSL install went quite well after all. There were some hassles getting the actual phone connected, but that only took a few hours, and the activation didn't require a visit at all. I plugged in the modem the day I got a schedule for the install and it just worked, three days before my ISP wrote back to confirm BT can connected me. :)

What was really strange was my ISP has no provision for moving customers--you have to cancel the service and reorder at the new location. This means all your account info changes, which isn't cool. Funny thing is this seems to apply internally as well: my modem worked on the new line with the old config including the old IP addresses! So if they'd just fix their database front end, it could have been really painless. I changed anyway, because I took the opportunity to switch to 'business class' in the nebulous hope it would help with the connection glitches I was getting.

Still, I'm pretty happy with the new place. We still wouldn't have moved if we'd had the choice, but the change is nice. We keep telling ourselves there's only two more moves to go. :)

GNU Ghostscript

atai, good luck with that. Compromise isn't possible; that is the whole point of the split. It's not like we didn't try there. The only thing that's acceptable to both parties is for someone to do a port, in the direction you've contributed already.

It's frustrating that they haven't accepted even your modified version for distribution yet. Maybe you should ping them again.


It's been a hectic couple of weeks. We've moved flats, from Bow in the east end to Kew in Richmond, half way to the ring road in the west. I really like the new place; it's better finished than the old place, with high ceilings and better, though still not up to North American standard plumbing. The landlord seems a lot more interested in keeping things up as well, which was a relief.

The location is great as well, just two blocks from the main gate of the Royal Botanical Gardens. We've had season passes for a while, and on friday I went in with my laptop and sat working as geese walked by on all sides pulling grass and the concorde flew overhead. That was pretty neat. :)

The moving part was stressful. Part of it is just not being familiar with the system, but there also seems to be some basic impedence mismatch that keeps bureaucratic adjustments from every going smoothly. Normally it's just annoying, but with basic shelter at stake it was a little more worrying. In retrospect everything went well enough, and we're just waiting for the DSL install before things are back to normal.


I've been more inspired to work on xiph stuff lately, largely because Emmett has left (I'm sorry to say) and (I'm not sorry to say at all) jack is asserting himself again. Monty has been swamped with vorbis work since doing the initial port of the theora codec, but several of us have banded together to pick up development and have made good progress. Video is what got me involved in the first place, so it's about time!

We've also been trying to organize ourselves a little better and get everyone on the same page again. Xiph has grown quite a bit lately, accreting several other projects, and it's gotten hard to keep follow everything that's going on or figure out how to contribute. We're also trying to open the process back up again, more the way Jack and I (at least) think things should be.

To help organize things and document our collective direction, we've started a wiki. It's really an experiment, but so far I think it's going well. It's a great tool for maintaining todo lists, meeting agendas and so on. Please have a look and contribute if you've been following our efforts.


Went to see The Matrix Reloaded on friday. It was much better than I feared after the tacky bad press it got opening week. StevenRainwater, I really like Susan's musical theory. One of the first things I noticed is that the action sequences felt stirred-in in a way that the original didn't, like they didn't really serve to advance the story; thinking of them as dance interludes is clever.

ction aside, I was really happy with the direction they took the science fiction. It's a lot more complicated than the original, enough to make it an actual trilogy rather than a pair of sequels. It's funny how the messages about control have complexified, like they're written this movie from a perspective that's sold out compared to that of the first movie: now that you know you have the power to make a big budget studio movies, things don't look so simple as maybe you assumed.

JBIG2 in Ghostscript

Checked in the first integration of jbig2dec with Ghostscript last night. It took a while to get everything working; the stream implementation in Ghostscript is a bit tricky to work with. The code doesn't yet handle shared 'global' decoder contexts between page images, but all the (single page) pdf files I've seen don't use this feature, so it actually works for wild files. That's very encouraging.

One of the things we've talked about is cleaning up the stream library in Ghostscript. There's sort of a long term project to improve modularization in general, and this is a good place to start (aside from Fitz which will separate the graphics library). It was first suggested by raph about a year ago, and tor brought it up (independently?) recently. Practically speaking, it seems like something the core developers are never going to get around to. So if anyone's looking for a nice refactoring problem, please do take a look.

Edinburgh, city of the future

Been back in the UK for a couple of weeks now. We went to Edinburgh for a couple of days just after I got over jetlag. S had a meeting to go to and I tagged along. We went out in the evenings, and stayed over an extra day to wander around. Beautiful weather for it too: we got a little snow on friday, just enough to be fun (if you weren't trying to leave town) and then a warm sunny day on saturday.

Seemed quite a nice town and we had a great time. The really wild thing is the geography. The castle and the old town are up on a ridge, with what are effectively cliffs dividing different parts of the down. The really wonky thing is that a couple of the major streets are elevated, though the way the buildings are fronted it looks perfectly normal. We were just walking along and would look down a sidestreet to suddenly realize we were four stories up! And there were all these crazy-steep staired passages leading from one level to another. We even found a little lane that ran along the roofs of a row of buildings.

I think that makes for a really cool arrangement. Riding the DLR around Canary Wharf in London I've often remarked that this is how a 21st century city should be, with tracks winding between the buildings several storeys up. Now I see...Edinburgh has been a city of the future for a hundred years.

How not to run an irc network

Last week I got a repeat cold message, Do you know Yopi? from someone on freenode irc. In retrospect, it sounded like they were just looking for someone, but there was a language barrier, and the first time they didn't really respond when I tried to work out what they wanted. So when I got the same message again from a different nick a week later, I worried it might be spam and went to the oper channel to report it in case there was a pattern.

The openprojects staff had always been in my experience interested in helpful in such situations. However, when I went to report the issue, I found #freenode to be a moderated channel. One is expected to msg random people with 'staff' in their hostmask before being granted voice (not an easy thing for novice users with 60 people in the channel) just to ask a question. This struck me as both offensive and ridiculous, but I didn't worry much about it. The network has generally been quite stable, and has let us use our channels in peace.

Yesterday, the freenode admin staff closed down the #vorbis channel. As in we were all booted off without discussion, and joins are disabled. lilo thankfully took the time to explain after the fact so I'm no longer angry, just sad and annoyed.

#vorbis was a very small channel. Most everyone moved to irc.xiph.org in the huff over lilo's canvassing for donations. We mostly had a handful of lurkers, but Michael Smith and I both maintained a presense there. We continued our usual exchange of pleasantries and occasionally used it for technical discussions, in addition to helping visitors when we could. I actually preferred it to the official #vorbis because, while the signal was much lower, the signal-to-noise ratio was much higher, and because I never appreciated the reason for the move in the first place. A pointer to the new channel was forcibly installed at the time of the move and the ownerships changed, but the channel had more or less become what it was obvious to me it would be from the time of the move: a small topical channel on another network from the primary activity of the project.

Lilo's explanation was that he was doing it in retaliation for political games with Emmett Plant. This is so wrong-headed I barely know where to start. It's also surprising given the pretty good advice he's written in the past of irc management. Maybe it shouldn't be; this feels very much like what everyone was complaining about when he was asking for donations on the network, which never bothered me.

Certainly Emmett can rub people the wrong way, but I think the problem lies elsewhere. Lilo clearly views the #vorbis channel as pawn in an argument and nothing to do with the people actually using it. Freenode has a strange policy about channel moves. Lilo has said several times that #vorbis was granted an exemption, by which I guess he means allowing the remainder of the channel to remain after the rest of it has left in a huff. Maybe what's happened to #vorbis is was is meant by 'freezing' the channel. This is just stupid. The policy is heavy handed at best, and seems designed to prevent amicible changeovers. People and channels come and go, and it shouldn't be anything to the network staff. Furthermore, it's impossible from the outside to choose a side in succession disputes. There's just too little information or time for discussion.

Anyone can start their own irc server. The advantages of a shared network like freenode are, as with sourceforge, in the collection of like-minded people who can more easily find each other and in support of small projects for whom the infrastructure is expensive. Not given the space they need, people move elsewhere and the commons is diminished. This is not the way to run a friendly network service. Perhaps they're hurt about all the people who left the network. The end result of this is that I've left too, finally moving to #vorbis on irc.xiph.org.

fresh snow

Finally got around to upgrading my desktop system. Actually, snow has been the server-in-the-closet for a the last couple of years, but when rain died early year I amalgamated parts and started using it as a desktop. We shipped it to London, and it's been doing double duty here too.

However, it was a 300 MHz K6, and while perfectly adequite for mail, repository, etc. it was getting painful to browse the web with, and was essentially hopeless for development work. (funny how standards change.)

S also doesn't have a computer of her own, so it's nice to have something a little snappier to work on at home. I'd delayed upgrading first because of the move, and then because S was thinking about getting a tibook, but we decided upgrading snow would do for now.

The new innards are an MSI KT400-based motherboard, a 1.8GHz athlon and .5 GB ram. It's pleasantly snappier, but not amazing by any stretch. Economy and all that.

Unfortunately the upgrade could have gone smoother. The manual had the cmos reset jumper labelled backward, with a stern warning about not powering up the system in the reset position. Fortunately it was wrong on both counts, but I couldn't figure out why the board showed no inclination to power up at all. Ended up taking it back to the store and asking. It was the second thing we tried, after the power supply.

Also ended up with a new video card, replacing the 4-year-old hand-me-down RagePro I'd been using. Not really sorry there, but again, I'd gotten it all put back together before I realized AGP1 wasn't the same connector as AGP2/4/8. Bought a lower-end radeon 9000, which also turned out to be something of a mistake. I've long been boycotting nvidia for their refusal to publish specs for their 3d hardware, but it turns out ati has recently reversed their policy are are now also offering in-house binary-only drivers. Ugh. The card is also too new to be supported in debian's X11, even in 2d. I have in working in 1024x768 with the vesa driver until I can build from xfree cvs.

So in short, it was a lot less fun than the last time I build a machine. Macs are looking attractive again.

middle age

Speaking of, it's just surreal. I turned thirty a couple of months ago, and suddenly I'm worrying about retirement, and enjoying watching my little pile of savings grow more than buying new toys with it. Seems like a pretty big change over not so much time. Maybe S is just rubbing off on me. :)

Only two more weeks in London before we head back to NA for winter holidays. S is meeting my mother, then flying up to spend xmas and new years with hers. She has to come back soon after, but I'm staying on a few weeks, including a trip to SF in mid January for a Ghostscript meeting. So much to do still!


Discovered the distributed proofreading website for Project Gutenberg. Beautiful low tech approach to community building. I've been doing a couple of pages a day. It's nice and relaxing, and feels good to contribute. I tried scanning a book for pg once, but just burned out on doing the corrections; this makes it much more manageable.

I've always had mixed feelings about Project Gutenberg. On the one hand, I really believe in what they're doing. On the other, their willful lack of technical sophistication really offends my sense of efficiency. I just really, really, hope they'll keep the scans.

account syndication

Raph somehow talked me into doing a test implementation of bram's single sign on protocol. I'm doing it for advogato because that seems the most immediately usable, but I may do a python cgi version as a second example. So far I've only got as far and implementing hmac (I only just now found libmhash) so it will take a while yet.

This is simple enough to be useful to casual projects. Raph I think is excited about being able to export the trust ratings, but the real value would be in not having to register on every little web forum. That means a standalone registration engine and knowing lots of people who write blog software. It might still be worth using mod_virgule, with certs just on the general level of 'this person is not an idiot', of course. I suspect we might have to use a real database for the accounts in that case.

The drawback to single sign on is of course namespace pollution. You could attach a de to each nick and support multiple account hosts (rillian from advogato, stacy from livejournal). The certs are much harder to export, since you have to somehow label the domain. That would make a nice thesis topic.

One fun thing happened looking at the mod_virgule code. I was checking to readme to see where the mailing list lived these days, and was pleased to see it had been updated with info about the cvs repository move. "How nice that someone did that," I thought. And when I got to the bottom it was signed, rillian. Hmm. Either I'm getting old, or I'm startarting to actually deserve journeyer status. :)

repairman effect

Sandra stayed home today to meet the repairman coming to fix our shower. (I was out seeing A House Built on Water.) He turned the shower on et voilà hot water! It seems everytime we'd tested it in the last two weeks it had either been the water pressure was too low (not uncommon lately) or <sheepish>we'd forgotten to turn the power no</sheepish>. Oops. He did give us careful instructions on how to, er, increase the lifetime of the thermostat. Not that it's defective, mind, just...do this and things will be better.

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