Japan Going Bankrupt?

According to Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, Japan’s “debt to budget ratio is more than 50 percent” and without issuing more government bonds would be bankrupt by 2011.

This comes on the heals of strange reports from friends working in the Japanese IT industry. Supposedly Japanese tax collectors are showing up, unannounced, at medium and large-sized IT gaishikei, rifling through the books and insisting to peak into the accounts of executives.


Updating fstab and missing data!

If you have drives mounted over cifs and, after calling mount -a or /etc/init.d/netfs restart, suddenly find that your data is missing — even though you can still access your drives — try deleting the corresponding entries in /etc/mtab and mount/restart again.

I just experienced this on an elderly Red Hat distro. Problem with the older kernel?

How to PUK yourself…

So I’ve had this VodafoneSoftbank keitai for the last couple of years that I use whenever I go back to Tokyo, or to occasionally see what’s the latest and greatest inside one of Japan’s mobile walled gardens.  I rather like this phone:  It’s a unique reminder that being a global monster of a company does not mean you will succeed in Japan.  (Vodafone and, recently Nokia, have both gone the way of those who tried and and failed to do business in the Land of the Rising Sun.)

Anyway, I somehow managed to activate the SIM lock on this thing.  Problem is, I don’t remember setting up a PIN, and struck out three times guessing.  Now it says something to the effect of “Enter your PUK code or else” every time I turn it on.

There has been copious amounts of frantic googling.

According to the cute furry woodland creatures who dole out information in the Sofbank forums on 携帯電話最新情報, in a nutshell, I’m royally screwed. It would appear that if one mis-types the PIN three or so times, a PUK (“Personal Unblocking Key“) is then required to continue.  If this PUK is subsequently mis-entered ten or more times, then the SIM card self-destructs.  Kind of like Mission Impossible, but without the smoke.  I think.

The woodland creatures point out that I actually have to physically visit a Softbank shop and pass some kind of test of will or feat of strength or some such before they will remove the PUK lock for me.  Damn.  It’s a good think I’m heading out there next week.

Important take-aways from this post:

  1. Don’t forget the PIN to your SIM card.  If you do, call support right away.  Don’t wait for it to lock up further.
  2. Don’t assume that you will do well in Japan just because you’re a multinational economic juggernaut.

Ignoring the above advice is a really good way to PUK yourself.


I’m still trying to get my head around what the hell is going on, but best I can tell is that Colonel Klink, social climber that he is, has somehow lifted himself from an obscure commandant of Stalag-13 to the very highest levels of the  American military industrial complex.

And he appears to be a mere thirty-two words away from unilateral control over the American banking system.

Where’s Hogan when you need him?

Seriously though, I’ve spent a good chunk of the last two days trying to get a better handle on what’s really happening.  As someone who, until just about a week ago, knew virtually nothing of American or international finance, I’m the first to admit that I have no idea what I’m talking about.  That said, here’s my take on it all; oddly enough much of which can best be summarized via this tiff between Naomi Klein and Andrew Sullivan:

I think they both might just be right.  Certainly an administration that relies on shock doctrine to achieve it’s goals could leverage a generation of Americans raised on the concept of credit as money — after all, “Life takes Visa” doesn’t it? — to engineer a self-imposed financial disaster.

C’mon, let’s put on our tinfoil hats and ask a few “what if” questions.

  • What if the current administration colluded with the likes of Goldman Sachs to setup mortgage packages that were difficult to trace and, more importantly, doomed to fail.
  • What if these mortgages were promoted as part of an ownership society, a get-rich concept sold to an American public that grew up on credit and believing in the words of Gordon Gekko: that somehow greed “will save that malfunctioning corporation called the USA.”
  • In other words, what if the current administration set out with the intent of producing a — this — disastrous event as a means of furthering an agenda?

Of course, some would call this financial terrorism:

And if it’s true, they’re damn right.  But terrorism to achieve what end?  What’s the agenda? More profit for Bush cronies as the dollar collapses?

I wonder if the Bank of Klink will offer a good Dollar to Amero exchange rate..

apache2: apr_sockaddr_info_get() failed for somehost

Hypothetically speaking of course, let’s assume you forget to renew a domain name. And suddenly that domain’s email is not working. And then you notice the site is down. The next step is, logically speaking, to panic, followed by an attempt to figure out what the hell is going on. Which usually means restarting Apache. Which results in:

apache2: apr_sockaddr_info_get() failed for yourhost

Which is, wow, an exotic new error. If you see this it means that, even though Apache says its restarting, really its probably not. And now all your other sites are down. And, so, more panic. More panic for you.

Now that you’ve probably realized that the default domain name has expired, you will want to get Apache back up on a different, actually non-expired domain. Like this:

$ hostname actual-non-expired-domain-name.com

Now restart.

Alternatively if your hostname is set to something like “www”, probably you can change the default site in vhosts so that Apache can connect the hostname to the tld.

This is all hypothetical of course.

Unlikely Fix for HP Printers

Our HP PSC 950 (admittedly ancient) has been slowly breaking down for the last two or so years. Whenever you try to copy, scan, or fax, the printer will randomly go into a Warming Up mode from which it cannot seem to return.  Zombie mode.

Our when-in-doubt-reboot solution had been to cycle the power numerous times until the printer finally deigned to work. It’s hit or miss that the thing will work on any given reboot. Lately the hit ratio has become frustratingly low.

I was about to throw the printer out the window when I figured I might as well Google “psc 950 problems”. Sure enough, other people are complaining about the very same thing. And sure enough there is a simple solution from a gentleman going by the name tomahawk on fixyourownprinter.com.

The fix? Tear open the printer and wipe dust off the mirror.

I was shocked that this worked. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it will work for other HP printers with similar problems.

Details reproduced here for posterity:

  1. Turn off the power, unplug
  2. Remove the control panel on the right side by prying off the control box cover with a small flat screw driver, then do the same with the control box underneath (if required).
  3. Take off the copy cover, followed by the two small screws at the back/top of the glass cover/scanner unit. These screws are tricky to remove and in the end you might break the plastic in desperation in prying up the cover! Don’t worry, your unit is useless anyway and a couple of missing screws is worth the sacrifice of fixing the copy function. Disconnect the connector multicable, noting how it came out.
  4. Pry off the black cover on the copy/scan unit to expose the bulb housing. Don’t touch the bulb, but open the cover of the black plastic housing to the right side of the bulb. This can be a bit tricky too, but will come with a bit of encouragement.
  5. With a soft, clean cloth give the mirror a wipe to remove any dirt/dust.
  7. Reassemble the unit, making sure that the multicable is properly seated.
  8. Plug in, turn on and the copy function should work.

Thank you tomahawk. Maybe now I can eek another two years out of this thing.

clamav crashing on Debian

I’d seen this happen occasionally over the last couple of months, but it seemed to get really bad on Friday.

Fri Mar 21 21:31:45 2008 -> SelfCheck: Database modification detected. Forcing reload.
Reading databases from /var/lib/clamav
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory (try 1)
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory (try 2)
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory (try 3)
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory
Terminating because of a fatal error.
Socket file removed.
Pid file removed.
--- Stopped at Fri Mar 21 21:38:16 2008

Not entirely sure what the problem is, but it seems like clamav is choking on recent updates from freshclam.

And apparently I’m not the only one. Took advice from this thread and updated clamav to the version in debian-volatile. The official ClamAV documentation also recommends using the volatile repositories.

I’m new to Debian and almost took this to mean that I should use etch. Good to know that Debian maintains a volatile repository. To pull packages from volatile, just add:

deb http://volatile.debian.net/debian-volatile etch/volatile main contrib non-free
(though preferably use a mirror)

to /etc/apt/sources.list. Running a simple apt-get update clamav or aptitude update clamav will find and install the appropriate volatile updates. Nice.