Colin Dexter: The Secret of Annexe 3

Det årlige nyttårsselskapet på Haworth Hotel går av stabelen, med dans, mat, vin, kostymeparty, og jubalong. Det er god stemning helt til dagen etter, da en av gjestene blir funnet død på rommet sitt i anneks 3, med skallen slått inn. Førstebetjent Morse har strengt tatt noen fridager, men blir kalt på for å steppe inn som vikar på den lokale politistasjonen for å kikke på saken. Han får med seg sin faste sidekick overkonstabel Lewis, og sammen tråler de hotellet, sjekker gjestelister og finner ut av ting.

Dette er en ganske klassisk whodunnit, med mange kryssende spor lagt ut for å forvirre Morse, Lewis, og leseren. Noen av Colin Dexters fortellinger om Morse har en så kompleks løsning at det virker usannsynlig og oppkonstruert. Her tar forfatteren seg selv på kornet, idét Morse slår fast i siste kapittel: Vi har tenkt for komplisert, Lewis.

The Secret of Annexe 3 er ikke den beste boka om Morse, men jeg er på Morse-kjøret nå. Alle skal med, og det er en fin liten intrige med triste sjebner som rulles opp underveis. Anbefales sånn passe. Kompletistene må ha den med.

Colin Dexter: Service of all the Dead

Førstebetjent Morse blir kalt tilbake fra en ferie han uansett aldri får dratt på, for å grave i et mistenkelig dødsfall i St. Frideswide-kirken, Oxford. Det blir etter hvert ganske mange dødsfall å se på. Morse, med sin trofaste makker Lewis, er ikke en kirkens mann selv, men han møter lek og lærd i den lokale menigheten med respekt (og list). Fortellingen gir et lite innblikk i en litt inngrodd angelikansk kirke på godt og vondt, og det er sannsynlig at det ligger et godt stykke feltarbeid til grunn her.

Denne boka finnes også på norsk, og et stykke uti, skjønte jeg at jeg har lest denne tidligere.

Colin Dexter: Last Seen Wearing

Alle tenåringsforeldres mareritt slår til hos familien Taylor: Datteren Valerie forsvinner. Hun stikker av eller blir kidnappet eller hvem vet hva. Tilbake står fortvilte foreldre. To år senere får de et brev, tilsynelatende fra Valerie, der hun skriver at hun har det bare bra. Nesten samtidig omkommer politimannen som etterforsket forsvinningen en en bilulykke. Førstebetjent Morse liker ikke forsvinningssaker. De er vanskelige å etterforske, og denne saken er dessuten gammel og kald. Motvillig tar han saken da han lukter ugler i mosen, for ikke å si mord. Med seg på lasset får han overkonstabel Lewis som vanlig.

Dette er bok nummer to i serien om Morse. Førstebetjenten selv er yngre og mer energisk enn i senere bøker, og flommer over av idéer og teorier om hva som har skjedd med Valerie og et stigende antall personer i omkretsen. Som ofte i historiene om Morse virker noen av dem i overkant kompliserte. I denne runden får han til slutt rett, selv når han tar feil.

God, om noe forvirrende underholdning. Morse blir tydeligere plassert i rollen sin som tiltrekkende og frastøtende på en gang. Han røyker som en skorstein, drikker i tjenesten, spiser usunt, smugkikker på strippeshow, er en liten mannsgris når han kikker på damene. Samtidig er han dannet, høflig, velformulert, og har en sjarme som gjør at kvinnene ser etter ham når han går forbi. Ikke akkurat Liza Marklund, kan man trygt si.

Running varnish from EPEL7? Upgrade to varnish-6.0 LTS now

Yesterday I pushed an update to varnish-4.0.5 in EPEL7. It includes the following advice:

SECURITY: The varnish-4.0.x branch is marked END OF LIFE by the Varnish Cache upstream project. Please consider upgrading to varnish-6.0 LTS or newer. Links to packages compatible with VCL 4.0 and EPEL7 may be found at https://varnish-cache.org/releases/

varnish-4.0.5 is vulnerable to CVE-2022-23959. If you are unable to upgrade to a current version of varnish, consider mitigating against this attack, see instructions in the included file vsv8_epel7_varnish405.vcl

So to repeat: varnish-4.0.x is EOL. The 6.0 LTS branch may be used in VCL 4.0 mode with minimal changes, and Varnish Software provides free el7 compatible packages that are well tested for production. If you use varnish-4.0 from EPEL7 on RHEL7, CentOS7, or other clones, it is time to upgrade now. See https://packagecloud.io/varnishcache/varnish60lts/install#manual-rpm for repo details, and https://varnish-cache.org/docs/6.0/whats-new/upgrading-6.0.html for details on the upgrade process.

Sam the Spy (J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings)

I read Tolkien’s “Canon”, that is, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, every year about Christmas. So also this year.

If you are among the lucky readers that get to immerse yourself in The Lord of the Rings regularly, you may have wondered about Sam’s thoughts and reactions in The Shadow of the Past. After Sam’s exchange with Ted Sandyman at The Green Dragon inn at Bywater, we learn that Sam had a good deal to think about (…) He would have a busy day tomorrow (…) But Sam had more on his mind than gardening. After a while he sighed, and got up and went out. When I read this, I used to pause and consider what Sam was thinking about. For some years I thought it was Rose Cotton that was on his mind. But she does not enter the story until the very end. So what is it that bothers Sam so much?

We learn that this is the same time as Gandalf is visiting Frodo. And their exchange about The Ring must be the next morning. When Sam is discovered by Gandalf, eavesdropping outside Frodo’s windows in Bag End, Sam first try to bluff Gandalf, producing his garden shears. Then he quakes and begs mercy and talks like a waterfall. Finally, he shouts of joy, before bursting into tears. Anyone may feel a bit intimidated under Gandalf’s bristling beard and brow, but isn’t this reaction a bit much? Sam is a bit of an emotional type, but shouting of joy, and then crying his eyes out?

We know from A Conspiracy Unmasked that Sam, Merry and Pippin are conspiring against Frodo leaving The Shire alone, and have been for years. Sam is presented as the chief investigator of the group. Here it all comes together. Merry and Pippin has talked Sam into spying on Frodo and Gandalf. It is not strange that he is thinking a lot and planning how to get through with this, even cooking up an alibi of mowing the lawn, and trimming the grass outside exactly the window where Frodo and Gandalf are discussing The Ring. He is even almost caught at one point, where he appears to coincidentally pass along the garden path whistling. Let us repeat that: He actually passes by, whistling innocently. When I read this again, I almost can’t believe Gandalf not seeing through this! When Sam finally is discovered, he actually tricks Frodo and Gandalf into believing that he only coincidentally heard what they were talking about. It is not strange that he first babbles and begs before finally shouts of joy and bursts into tears. He cries in relief of not disclosing the conspiracy. He is not revealed as a spy yet – and luckily, not by Gandalf, or he might actually been turned into a spotted toad.

In Crickhollow, after the conspiracy is finally unmasked, Sam says that Frodo ought to take the Elves advice. Gildor said you should take them as was willing, and you can’t deny it. Frodo’s answer is a bit remarkable unless you have figured out the connection: I’ll never believe you are sleeping again. Here, Frodo is of course pointing to the fact that in Three is a company, while Gildor has a conversation with Frodo, and that while these words fall, Sam sat curled up at Frodo’s feet, where at least he nodded and closed his eyes. But Sam is here still the spy in the group. He only pretends to sleep, and is actually eavesdropping as hard as he can all the time. This is taken up again by Merry in The Palantir: Now Pippin my lad, don’t forget Gildor’s saying – the one Sam used to quote: “Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” Gildor said this to Frodo while Sam was apparently sleeping.

At the end of The Council of Elrond we hear that Sam again is spying and eavesdropping. He suddenly jumps up from the corner where he had been quietly sitting on the floor, and Elrond remarks that the council was secret, and that Sam was not invited.

In Flight to the Ford, Frodo says about Sam that First he was a conspirator, now he’s a jester. He’ll end up by becoming a wizard – or a warrior! And Sam answers: I hope not (…) I don’t want to be neither!. But at least his career as a conspiring spy was rather successful.

Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

 

 

With great thanks to The Tolkien Professor and his Exploring the Lord of the Rings project, where the role of Sam has been more than thoroughly discussed

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit

I read Tolkien’s “Canon”, that is, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, every year about Christmas. So also this year.

I recently got access to the new audiobook recording of The Hobbit, read by Andy Serkis. I have listened through The Hobbit many times before, but then usually the version read by Rob Inglis. While Inglis is still my favorite, Serkis does an excellent job, and of course, his top performance is Gollum. I have read this book perhaps 35-40 times over the last 25 years. I think I never have realized how abolute completely desperate and  crushed Gollum is when he realizes that his precious ring is gone. Also, Serkis’ Bilbo and Gandalf are great.

I would reccomend this recording as a good alternative to Inglis’ version, just for the Gollum part alone.

Til Vetle – Amdir og Estel

Advarsel: Nå går jeg straks full frontal Tolkien nerd. Here be Dragons!

Kjære Vetle

Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo. Det er en hilsen på Quenya, et av Tolkiens alviske språk. Det betyr En stjerne skinner over timen vi møtes. Veldig vakkert, ikke sant? Vi som har kjent Mamma og Pappa en stund vet, at du var et veldig velkomment barn. Stjernene skinte, og lykkeliten ble født, og du er, på et vis, Håp, i kjøtt og blod. Så jeg skal si noen få ord om Håp.

Tolkien – altså han som skrev bøkene Hobbiten og Ringenes Herre, som noen av dere muligens har hørt om; Tolkien har ikke ett, men to ord for håp – på alvisk: De er Amdir og Estel. Amdir og Estel.

Amdir er det håpet vi har til daglig. Vi håper det fint bra vær til vi skal på tur. Vi håper strømprisene ikke stiger for mye. Vi håper koronaen snart er over, så vi kan dra på konsert igjen. Vi håper Amazon sin nye Ringenes-Herre-TV-serie blir bra. Vi håper kanskje på regjeringsskifte, og at fadderbarna har det bra, det håper vi på. Du håper kanskje at den prøven du skal ha på skolen om noen uker ikke blir for vanskelig, eller at Pappa ikke så ofte må fortelle om jobben sin til VG for eksempel. Amdir er også håpet om at mormor skulle bli frisk, eller at det en gang blir fred i Midt-Østen. Alt dette er Amdir. Noen ganger får vi det vi håper. Andre ganger brister håpet.

Estel er et høyere håp. Estel er å se opp. Estel er tillit. Estel er å vite, at uansett hvordan det går i livet, om vi har rikelig med Amdir, eller klynger oss til et siste halmstrå, så har vi tillit til, at det er et høyere håp for oss. Vi vet at det er en Gud som ser oss, og vi kan hvile i at vår Verden har et Mål og en Plan. I den planen er du viktig og verdifull uansett.

Det har vært en glede å se deg vokse opp Vetle, og selv om du er konfirmert betyr det heldigvis ikke det at vi trenger å slutte å treffe deg. Som faddere har vi hatt noen oppgaver som vi fikk da du ble døpt. Vi kan kanskje ikke påberope oss å ha vært så veldig tungt inne i oppdragelsen din, men du skal vite at du har blitt bedt for, og kommer fortsatt til å bli bedt for.

I selve oppdragelsen har vi altså dessverre vært alt for passive. Det skal gjøre et siste forsøk på å rette opp nå. Vi har derfor tatt med oss en kasse med noen oppbyggelige filmer til deg:

Her er, i den rekkefølgen de bør sees:

• Star Wars episode 4, A New Hope
• Star Wars episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back
• Star Wars episode 6, Return of the Jedi
• Star Wars episode 1, The Phantom Menace
• Star Wars episode 2, Attack of the Clones
• Star Wars episode 3, Revenge of the Sith

… og ikke nok med det mine damer og herrer, for oppi kassa legger vi også

• Star Wars episode 7, The Force Awakenes
• Star Wars Rouge One
• Star Wars episode 8, The Last Jedi
• Star Wars episode 9, The Rise of Skywalker

Og for at ikke det ikke skal være fare for at du blir helt Star Wars-nerd, legger vi oppi noen oppbyggelige bøker også:

Her har vi Hobbiten, og så klart, Ringenes Herre

Gratulerer med dagen Vetle, og Gud velsigne deg

Georges Simenon: Maigret i tåkehavnen

En mann blir tatt hånd om i Paris. Han kan ikke snakke, virker forvirret, og ingen vet hvem han er. Og han har blitt behandlet for en skade etter et skudd mot hodet. Etter noen runder blir mannen indentifisert som havnefogden i den lille byen Ouistreham utenfor Caen, forsvunnet og antatt død. Han blir hentet av sin husholderske, og Maigret følger ham tilbake for å forsøke å oppklare det angivelige drapsforsøket.

Havneområdet i Ouistreham blir beskrevet i detalj, med kanal, sluse, strand, og tåke. Miljøet er intenst. Tåken ligger ofte tett over byen, og for dem som ikke er kjent i terreng eller farvann er det stor fare for å gå seg vill, falle i vannet, eller, for den saks skyld, gå på grunn. Maigret går seg vill, for det er mange blindspor, både i tåka og under oppklaringen av mysteriet. På den lokale puben er han velkommen til å ta seg et glass og lære litt om sjømannskap, men når han trenger dypere i mysteriet, blir han stående og stange, for ingen vil snakke ut.

Maigret må bruke intuisjon og psykologisk teft for å finne løsningen. Fortellingen virrer litt. Fra intens psykologisk drama til action og basketak, med av og til litt underlige løsninger. 20-tallets fransk bondeland er også litt vrient å bli klok på. Kunne man bare dure inn på soverommet til fattigfolk for å få et enerom til å prate i? Det er også alltid interessant å se hvordan forfatteren løser problemet med kommunikasjon, når det er 80 år til mobiltelefon blir vanlig utstyr. – Sentralen? Hvor mange samtaler har borgermesteren hatt fra Caen de siste dagene? To? Mange takk. – Send et telegram til Paris snarest!

Jeg koser meg med Maigret.

Ernest Hemingway: Islands in the Stream

Tre deler: Rørende vakkert av kjærlighet til og omsorg for egne barn på en passe røff og mandig måte. Blandet med savnet og ikke-savnet etter mødrene (såklart) deres. Så sorg og savn og forsøk på å ikke drikke seg langsomt ihjel, på en røff og mandig måte. Til slutt en spennende ubåtjakt(!) der sorg og savn blir døyvet av disiplin, tjeneste og oppdrag – på en veldig røff og mandig måte.

Det er liksom Jan Kjærstad og James Bond om hverandre (uten at jeg har lest Jan Kjærstad). Sterke følelser, savn og sorg, men også stive drinker, raske båter, sverdfisk, og vakre kvinner. Og alt i dette korthogde presise språket. Fyttikatta så bra. Ja, og kjærlighet til katter. Det er det også mye av.

Jeg har altså lest, dvs hørt ferdig Islands in the Stream av Hemingway. Den Anbefales VELDIG. Kjære allverden som den mannen kan skrive. Dette var altså lydbok, mesterlig lest av Bruce Greenwood, som jeg nå ikke vet noe annet om enn at han mestrer et kjempespekter av aksenter.

Free Software and Open Source: Get involved

Contributing to Free Software using Open Source methodics may look like intimidating deep expert work. But it doesn’t have to be that. Most Free Software communities are friendly to newcomers, and welcome all kind of contributions.

Reporting bugs

Hitting a bug is an opportunity, not a nasty problem. When you hit a bug, it should be reported, and with a bit of luck, it may even be fixed. Reporting the bug in an open forum also makes other users find the bug, give attention to it, and they may in turn be able to help out working around or fixing it. Reporting bugs is the most basic, but still of the most valuable contributions you may do. Finding bugs are finding real problems. Reporting bugs are helping fixing them, for you, and for other users. You may not complain to your coworker on a bug unless it is reported upstream.

While reporting bugs, remember to collect as much information as possible on the issue, including logs, runtime envionment, hardware, operating system version, etc. While collecting this information, make sure you don’t send any traceable private information that may be used by rouge parties, like ip adresses, hostnames, passwords, customer details, database names, etc.

Bugs in operating system packages

Bugs in components delivered by a Linux distribution (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat, SuSE, etc), should be reported through their bug reporting interface. Remember to search for the bug before posting yet another duplicate bug. Perhaps a workaround already exists.

So the next time something strange happens to your haproxy, nginx, varnish, or your firefox browser crashes or has unexpected behaviour, collect data from your logs, and open a bug report.

  • Red Hat / EPEL / Fedora users should report bugs through https://bugzilla.redhat.com/
  • Similarly, OpenSuSE users may search for and report bugs at https://bugzilla.opensuse.org
  • Ubuntu users may have luck looking at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ReportingBugs
  • As Ubuntu’s upstream is Debian, you may search for bugs, fixes and workarounds using their tools at https://www.debian.org/Bugs/Reporting

    These tools have detailed guidelines on the details on how to search, report, and follow up the bugs.

    For an example of an end user bug report with an impressive follow up from a dedicated package maintainer, have a look at https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1914917

    Reporting upstream bugs

    Using software directly from the upstream project is growing more usual, specially as container technology has matured, enabling developers to use software components without interfering with the underlying operating system. Reporting and follow up bugs becomes even more important, as such components may not be filtered and quality assured by operating system security teams.

    Find your component’s upstream home page or project development page, usually on Github, Savannah, Gitlab, or similar code repo service. These services have specialised issue trackers made for reporting and following up bugs and other issues. Some projects only has good old mailing lists. They may require you to subscribe to the list before you are allowed to report anything.

    Following up the report, you may be asked for test cases and debugging. You will learn a lot in the process. Do not be shy to ask for help, or admitting that you don’t understand or need guidance. Everybody started somewhere. Even you may learn to use the GNU debugger (gdb) in time.

    Non code commits

    Similarly to reporting bugs, non code commits may be low-hanging fruit to you, but may be crucial to a project’s success. If you can write technical documentation, howtos, or do translations to your native language, such contributions to Free Software are extremely welcome. Even trivial stuff like fixing typos in a translated piece of software should be reported. No fix is too small. I once did a single word commit to GPG: A single word typo fix in their Norwegian translation. Also, write blog posts. Don’t have a blog yet? Get one. Free blog platforms are thirteen to a dozen.

    Use source code tools

    Admit it: You already use git in your day job. Using it for documentation or translation should be trivial. If you have not done so already, learn how to clone a project on github (just google it), grep through the source for what you like to fix or add, make a branch with your contribution, and ask for a pull request (again, just google it). If you changes are not merged at once, be patient, ask for the maintainer’s advice, and listen to their guidelines. Be proud of your contribution, but humble in your request.

    Feature requests

    Usage of a piece of software is not given from the start. Perhaps you have ideas to how a piece of code may be used in some other way, or there is some piece missing that is obvious to you, though not reported in the project’s future roadmap. Don’t be shy to ask. Report a feature request. Usually this is done the same way as reporting a bug. The worst you can get is that they are not interested, or a request for you to produce the missing code. Which you may do.

    Join a project

    If your work require it, and/or your interests and free time to spend allows for it, join a Free Software project.

    Distribution work

    Upstream distributions like Fedora, Debian, and OpenSuse (not to mention Arch and Gentoo) are always looking for volunteers, and have sub projects for packagers, documentation, translation, and even marketing. As long time players in the field, they have great documentation for getting started. Remember to be patient, ask for advice, follow guidelines. Be proud of your contributions, but humble in your requests.

    Upstream projects

    If you want to join a project, show your interest. Join the project’s social and technical forums. Subscribe to their development email lists. Join their IRC channels. Lurk for a while, absorbing the project’s social codes. Some projects are technoraties, and may seem hostile to newbie suggestions without code to back them up. Others are welcoming and supportive. Do some small work showing what you are capable of. Fix things in their wiki documentation. Create pull requests for simple fixes. Join in their discussion. Grow your fame. Stay humble. Listen the long time players.

    Release your own

    Made a cool script at work? A build recipe for some special case? An Ansible playbook automating som often-visited task? A puppet module? Ask your manager for permission to release it as Free Software. Put GPLv3 or some other OSS license on it, and put it on Github. Make a blog post about it. Tell about it in social media. Congratulations, you are now an open source project maintainer. Also, Google will find it, and so will other users.