Speak the weather

Here at Ice Moon Prison, going outside with insufficient clothing can be fatal. Hence we find ourselves checking the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast often, even before we get up in the morning. Fumbling for a smartphone while still in bed is out of the question—LCD screens are off-limits in sleeping quarters—so we are experimenting with audio announcements.
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Map of Mordant from Stephen Donaldson’s “Mordant’s Need”

Here at Ice Moon Prison we have strong opinions about what constitutes a fantasy novel.  One aspect that is non-negotiable is that it has to have a map.  So we were disappointed while rereading Stephen Donaldson’s Mordant’s Need that it does not ship with a map.  This omission is peculiar, because clearly the author had a map while he was writing the story: there are many often quite detailed descriptions of the land’s geography. So we set ourselves the task of annotating every geographic statement in the novel.

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Tracking ADSL modem statistics with Nagios

Here at Ice Moon Prison, we are blessed with an ADSL2+ lifeline to the Internet.  At the same time, we are cursed with degrading copper and have seen a gradual decline in our sync speeds over the last two years. To monitor the situation, and to provide ammunition to use when technicians doubt our sincerity, we have created Nagios scripts to collect statistics continuously.

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Join the NTP Pool on IPv6

Here at Ice Moon Prison we bill by the second. Hence it is important that we always have the exact time.  To this end, we are longtime users of the NTP Pool Project, a distributed network of Network Time Protocol-enabled servers around the world. As firm believers in paying one’s debt to society, Ice Moon Prison has joined the NTP Pool with one of its spare servers.

Since Ice Moon Prison is too cheap to have more than a single IPv4 address, and since we are IPv6 evangelists, the Ice Moon Prison NTP server is accessible over IPv6 only.  Doing this is easier than messing around with NAT and port forwarding of UDP packets.  (And, we might add, the following recipe is a testament to how easy setting up a service is without the burden of NAT. The same process can be followed for just about any service, not just NTP.)

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Recipe: Butter chicken

Here at Ice Moon Prison, we like a good curry, especially that most British of curries, butter chicken.  Home recipes for butter chicken tend to be awful, and usually end up being given to the Ice Moon Prison Hound.  When we came across a recipe from MasterChef’s Jimmy Seervai, we were sceptical.  But it proved to be authentic, and ever since, we’ve been tweaking it to taste more like what we can get from our local Indian restaurant, Tandoori Cottage (Urbanspoon page).

The latest version, heavily adapted, is presented here.  The most important spices are the fenugreek leaves (methi) and Kashmiri chilli powder; there really is no substituting them.  Ice Moon Prison uses and recommends Herbie’s Spices (unlike MasterChef since 2011).

Prep Time: 3 hrs | Cook Time: 1 hr | Difficulty: Medium

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The Wednesday Problem: Checking how many tuners EyeTV needs for scheduled recordings

Here at Ice Moon Prison, inmates receive the Australian digital free-to-air broadcast, on the assumption that it is the least consumer-friendly television ecosystem in existence. Shows routinely run late, requiring those using PVR software to add at least 20 minutes to each scheduled recording Just In Case. Networks also collude and ensure that all the shows you actually want to watch are scheduled at the same time on different channels. We call this the Wednesday Problem.

Ice Moon Prison uses EyeTV and HDHomeRuns for a total of four tuners. This is usually sufficient except for the busiest Wednesdays. Rather than manually check the schedule and count whether five or more tuners are needed at any given time, we have an AppleScript … er, script, which gets this information straight from EyeTV and reports how many tuners are needed for its upcoming scheduled recordings.

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War of the Weeds

Here at Ice Moon Prison, we are fond of Jeff Wayne’s Musical version of The War of the Worlds. Some days we play “The Red Weed” on continuous loop to elicit an appropriate mood of futility in the inmates.

Ice Moon Prison also has a garden. While tending the garden, the Warden was inspired to take these photographs. The Warden acknowledges the assistance of the Ice Moon Prison Hound in producing these images, which were originally posted to Twitter in April 2012.

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