sshfs with RSA keys on OS X using MacFUSE

MacFUSE is nifty, and in particular supports sshfs for mounting filesystems from ssh-accessible remote boxes.

However, I found today that using the GUI always asks you for your “ssh password”. I don’t use a ssh password; indeed, all my boxes have password tunneling disabled: you can only log in via keys. The GUI didn’t/doesn’t seem to be key-aware.

Thankfully, the command-line version (sshfs-static) mentioned on the wiki page linked above is aware – so I succeeded in mounting my remote fs using:

Applications/ om: om \

I’ve set up an alias for that in my .zshrc and am now in sshfs happiness land.

(Oh yes, perhaps I should have mentioned: I’m using OS X now, for my desk/laptop needs at least. More on this as time progresses, no doubt.)

A dog on a trampoline

A dog on a trampoline — does exactly what it says on the tin.

What Every Programmer Should Know About Memory

What Every Programmer Should Know About Memory (114 page PDF) [abstract absurdities].

I didn’t teach him to swear like that!

Take one-time Gimbo tutee and long-time beard user DaveA, and one handsome stranger from outta town goes by the name of Zac, some beer and some Jaegermeister, whisk them together briskly in a kitchen in Helsinki and you’ve got what we in the 1970s American sitcom business call a recipe for laughter. Oh yes.

Gourmet Pizza Tacos.

Microwave chocolate cake.

Go you.

Update 2008-09-15: they have a website!

Update 2008-10-01: two more recipes!

Big Music From Small Nations 2008

I’ve been to two festivals this summer, and it’s high time I wrote about them. The first was Big Music From Small Nations, back in mid July. Sadly I don’t have any photos – some of my friends took some but they’re locked away on Facebook so I can’t post them here. :-(

Still, let it be known I had a great time: my best festival experience so far, in fact (until the next festival, Dance Camp, of which more later). In 2007 Bash and I went (for which there are photos) and had a good time, but it rained rather a lot and the place got pretty muddy – we still had a good time, in I called it the first time I’d enjoyed a wet festival, but I’ve gotta say, this year was much better. It still rained a bit, but much less, and the areas that got very muddy last year (in particular the bottleneck between campsite and main site) were better protected.

The main difference was that this year’s Small Nations was smaller. It’s a fairly dinky festival anyway: about 1500 people last year — but I heard there were only 900 there this year. It’s been a bad year for festivals in general after so many were washouts last year, and the weather leading up to Small Nations this year wasn’t great, so I think a lot of “wait and see” types decided against going. That was their loss though, because it was fine.

As well as less people, there were only two stages this year, as opposed to three in 2007. I didn’t mind that at all, actually, because there was still always something on that was worth seeing, and you were less likely to miss something cool by being in the wrong place. The only part I minded was the absence of an open mic tent, because last year Shiko did a spot there and it was great fun — and a few of us hoped to do so again, really.

Lots of people from Swansea go to Small Nations. Somewhere in the last eighteen months or so (Shiko has a lot to do with this, for sure) I seem to have reached some kind of “Six Degrees” critical mass point, and whenever I meet new people in social/musical/party situations they always seem to already know people I know; similarly, I keep meeting people I’ve seen around, by similar mechanisms. I don’t know, I guess various networks are connected, and the circles I’m moving in are somewhat incestuous! As a result (and combined with the smaller numbers), this year’s Small Nations felt particularly friendly to me: everywhere I went, there was someone I knew, or someone I was about to meet. It felt like a big happy family at times — and that was definitely the aspect I enjoyed the most.

Of course, the music was also half the point. On Friday night I heard the Samba Galez in the distance as I pitched my tent, then the entertainment properly kicked off for me with Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba followed (in a rather different flavour) by Swansea psy-trance outfit Chaos Theory. Bernice described them uncharitably as “some kind of techno Spinal Tap” but I think that was a comment on their hair as much as anything. The music did what it was supposed to, that’s all I’ll say.

After the evening’s scheduled entertainment, I ended up at a big campfire in the corner of the campsite, where there was drumming, singing, etc., and met more good people. IIRC I got to bed around 2 or 3 or so…

… only to wake early on Saturday needing the loo, so off I popped to the facilities, then found myself mostly awake enjoying the early morning activity of the site coming to life. I sourced myself a cup of tea, and a little later a bacon/egg roll, and sat and watched the world wake up. Actually it was clear that some of the world hadn’t been to bed yet, including Naked Fireside Bloke (who, it later transpired, I’d met a few weeks earlier, but at that point he’d only been without shoes), and Scarily Aggressive Shouty Woman.

The plan had been to get some sleep in the morning, but I kept seeing people to talk to, and all of a sudden it was 10AM, and if I was going to go on the guided walk that was on offer, I’d have to go now — so I did! The festival site is here; we went on a circular walk a few miles away, around about here, starting outside the pub, heading down to the river, following it north for a while, then heading uphill under a few red kits, towards abandoned lead (?) workings, through some (sadly chopped – recently) forest, to a hilltop offering a magnificent view, the horizon stretching from the Black Mountain in the west (almost) to the Black Mountains in the east (the distinction between the two being the source of an intensely irritating discussion with a woman with a map who refused to listen and consequently took 90% of the conversation to realise I was talking about two different places). After that, back down to the pub, basically. We’d gone by minibus, and there were enough of us that two buses were needed. Gladly, I’d walked slow enough to be in the group destined for the second bus back, giving us — as our formidable guide Huw Garan put it — “time for a swift half” — time he put to good use by downing two pints of fine real ale. :-) Indeed, on that last half mile before we got to the pub, he whet his appetite by displaying his expertise on local watering holes: where does good beer, where food, where cider (“but their beer’s not so good, unless you get it on the first day or so: they don’t store the barrels properly”) – clearly a true local, in both senses.

The walk was great, and I met some good new people, but it lasted longer than I’d expected – the whole excursion took about five hours (including standing around time at each end, the bus journeys, etc.); bearing in mind I’d had about four hours’ sleep, I consequently spent a good part of the rest of Saturday thinking and saying that I should go and get some sleep. But I just couldn’t! Groovy things kept happening! There were people I had to talk to! Music I had to watch! Shops I had to check out! I think somewhere I managed to lie down for half an hour and inspect the insides of my eyelids, but you couldn’t call it sleep; at some point it became clear the night was beginning again. Somehow (I’ll leave it to you, but alcohol may have been one factor) I managed to stay up until 4 again, and oh, what a night.

The absolute highlight, the pinnacle, the best thing I saw at that festival, possibly at any festival ever, were The London Bulgarian Choir. Now, obviously this is a very personal thing: not everybody is going to feel the same way I (apparently) do about Bulgarian folk music, so please forgive me if this seems strange. Having said that, they got a fabulous reception, so I clearly wasn’t the only blown-away person in the tent. I don’t know, there’s just something incredible about the language, and the style of singing: so strong, so strange, such odd harmonies and beautiful dischords. But hey, don’t take my word for it: you can watch a goodly chunk of their Small Nations performance (minus some inter-song banter, sadly: Dessislava’s ++charming) on youtube here and here (note well: at least one of those handsome Bulgarian men is in fact a very cheeky cockney chappie). Then buy the album: I finally got it last week and haven’t been listening to much else since.

Actually, I lie. That wasn’t the pinnacle. The pinnacle was about 20 minutes after their performance, when I realised they were singing in a small tent in the middle of the main site (used in the day for face painting and the like), so I ran there just in time to become part of an impromptu spiralling circle dance as all around (and in the dance), a subset of the choir sang the wonderful Shto Mi e Milo (full version at 5:35 on the first youtube version). It was just incredible, and (looking back) an introductory taste of the joy to come at Dance Camp, a few weeks later. Seriously, at that moment I felt as happy as I have ever been. Bliss. I couldn’t tell you why.

Nothing could top that, but it did propel me into the rest of the night full of happy and feeling very open, so I had a great one. The main stage got rocked to pieces by N’Faly Kouyaté‘s crazy griot bouncing, and then torn to pieces by Sicknote, an extraordinarily rough, punky, danceable, visually exciting bunch of nutters from (I think) Newport. I think drinking with them would be scary, but man they rocked.

After that it was back to the fire circle into the wee hours, and around 3 I was saying goodnight to various people when I stumbled into a little spot where some Shiko types were hanging out; I had intended just to say goodnight, but somehow something I said caused a bloke called Phil to start on Monty Python impressions, and damn he was good. He started with Holy Grail, I think, but then moved onto the Four Yorkshiremen, and his delivery, his timing, not to mention his memory of the actual lines, was just perfect. I was bent double with laughter, begging him to stop because I couldn’t breathe.

(By the way, if you don’t know what I mean by the Four Yorkshireman, you really should check it out and then don’t miss the Amnesty International remake.)

Sunday was a much gentler day. I took it easy, mooched around, bought a t-shirt, ate good food, drank coffee, didn’t see much music, and just enjoyed chewing the fat and sitting in the sun. Oh, actually that’s something of a lie: there was a belly-dance workshop which I helped do some drumming for, but I think I did it badly, so I’ve mostly wiped it from the memory banks.

So, in summary, I had a great time, hung out with and/or met lots of sweet people, shook my stuff to lots of sweet music, laughed a lot, and discovered a love of singing and European traditional folk music which would bloom at the next festival, Dance Camp, along with much else besides.

One does not simply… walk into Mortor

One does not simply… walk into Mortor [bash].