Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 2

Week 2 of the Citizen’s Academy covered patrols and traffic enforcement.

Considering the size of Wyoming, there are usually only 6 or 7 cars on patrol per shift.  WPD is somewhat below the national average for officers per 1000 citizens, and that number will only continue to get worse with the retirement of the Deputy Chief, whose position will not be filled. The expansion of the city west towards the Metro Health area has placed additional strain on the coverage, since less than 10 years ago, most of that was all farmland, and now its a high traffic zone with the hospital and M6. Wyoming officers will not unlock your car if you lock your keys inside, unless there is a child locked in the car.  They explained that because of the increasing complexity of the insides of car doors, and the fact that they had some ‘unsatisfied customers’, its become too large of a liability issue, and they will refer you to a tow company.

MPO Dave Thompson is head of traffic enforcement, and did an excellent job explaining the most common issues he would run into on patrol. He assured the class that there is no ‘monthly quota’ for tickets, since generating a revenue stream from tickets is illegal, and they have no problems as it is writing 20 tickets an hour with 12-15mph-over today. Of every ticket, no matter the infraction, $49 immediately goes to Lansing, whatever is left over comes back to the city.

Current patrol cars are the standard Crown Vics, but they are transitioning to Chargers, as Ford would not commit to continuing a police package for the CV (and as one officer put it – Chargers ‘go like crazy’). Loadout for a car is a satchel containing tools & safety supplies, interior roof mounted shotgun (loaded with slugs, buckshot in car), M4 rifle in the trunk, and computer & radio equipment. In addition to a .40 cal sidearm and pepper spray, officers carry a Taser. Seeing one up close, they are a lot smaller than I was expecting. The barbs do not look at all pleasant to be hit with (like fishhook barbs, but larger).

I am looking forward to week 3. (I’ll put together a writeup for week 1 later, it was mostly introductions)

Cheese with that Whine?

If you are reading the blog of a Microsoft developer, you shouldn’t be surprised when he posts examples using Bing. While I’m all for open source, and convincing people to switch, an MS blog probably isn’t the place to complain that Bing throws a warning in Konquerer and that Google Maps “just works”, especially when Bing works fine in Firefox, and the only reason you’re seeing that warning is because you are using a somewhat niche browser (yes, I realize that it’s essentially Webkit, and that if Chrome and Safari work, then it should, too).

As he responds to one of the comments – “If I link to Google, people scold me for not linking to Bing. And now, if I link to Bing, people scold me for not linking to Google. …  I guess the only safe thing is to not link to anything.”


Sony Drops Linux Support on Slim PS3

With the release of the PS3 Slim, Sony has announced that the new SKU will no longer support the ‘Other OS’ install option. It is going the way of PS2 support before it, and being cut in the name of cost savings. Sure, Linux on the PS3 was crippled under a hypervisor which prevented direct access to the GPU, but it still marked a step in the right direction for opening up a nice hardware platform to the masses for something besides games & movies.

This change, fortunately, does not affect existing PS3s, but raises the question – What if one day for some reason, Sony just decided that they aren’t including the hypervisor anymore in firmware updates? Would those of us with Linux installed have any way of pulling that data off the drive?

When All You Have is Document Imaging…

…everything looks like a document. I was surprised, to say the least, to learn that one of the salesmen for Flowerco, after having his computer replaced, wanted access to the legacy document imaging system (which we’ll call FileMania).

It was my assumption that FileMania was only used for some billing and insurance paperwork, not anything that sales would really need. Turns out, he was using the software as a rudimentary CRM, to track customer calls, contact information, and the like. Hardly an ideal solution, but unfortunately, there isn’t much else we currently have available for him.

If users don’t have the tools they need to do their jobs, they will find some way to use the tools they do have to make due.

Ubuntu Media Center PC

I finally had it with Vista on my media center PC. Slow startups, it never saved my resolution for the TV correctly, and frequently locked up while loading videos. It’d been a while since I tried Ubuntu (normally I use Fedora), so I decided to load up Jaunty and see how it worked.

First, the bad. It did not load the accelerated drivers for the Intel onboard video. While it sucks for 3D, it was more than enough to run XBMC smoothly under Windows. Under Ubuntu, videos would play fine, the interface was just dog-slow. I could’ve researched and fixed the problem, then I remembered I had an old GeForce 4 that Vista didn’t support. I slapped that in there, loaded up the nVidia drivers, and XBMC ran smooth as butter.

Now, the good. Wireless. Freaking amazing, I did not expect it to work right after an install with a Linksys WUSB54GSC I had, but after logging in, I was presented with a list of wifi networks, and connected to mine with no problems whatsoever.

There was some Samba weirdness. For some reason, it initially only showed my other Windows PCs, and my OpenFiler server didn’t show up in the Network list at all, even though they were all in the same workgroup. Changing my workgroup settings seemed to fix that.

On the whole, I’m very satisfied with how XBMC on Ubuntu turned out to be.

Rebuilding Software RAID5 on an Atom

The replacement drive for my 1TB RAID5 finally came in last night. I had never actually had to do a rebuild with the md toolset before (I’ve always had hardware support in the past). I wasn’t able to find any rebuild option in OpenFiler’s web interface, so I ssh’ed in.

First, I looked at the partition structure of one of the remaining working drives with fdisk -l /dev/sdd, then I matched this partition setup on the replacement drive. Then I added the new drive back into the array with mdadm /dev/md1 -a /dev/sde1, and monitored the rebuild process occasionally by looking at /proc/mdstat.

The total time for the array rebuild was just shy of 4 hours and 30 minutes, on an Atom N270.