Svend who??? - er, whatchamacallim ...

My Wife and I

Here I am, caught off-guard with my wife!

Early Days

I went to high school in Odense, was further educated in the field of Electronics in Copenhagen and worked - mostly in the analog realm - for Bruel & Kjaer for a good many years. Sadly, the once proud corporation fell apart when I resigned. In my spare time I doubled as a movie projectionist, and I was one of the founders of Rubber Band way back when, playing the bass.

Going Contemporary

Moving back to Funen I finally managed (after a couple forays into somewhat more odorous livelihoods) to grab a scarce job with DanTaet Electronics a/s, where I presently function as R&D director, IT-manager and BOFH. Today, for me electronics is largely digital, and microcontroller-based at that. Sign of the times, I guess.

With micros becoming abundant and ubiquitous, I gradually got increasingly involved in the software side of business. This is how I came to experience the general flakiness and instability of commercial legacy PC software. Fortunately, I found a knowledgeable guru to show me the way.

Also, back on Funen, I took to a different style of music altogether (funk) with lots of horns and reeds. And singers too, one of which (Lisa) was later to become my dear wife, who also got me involved in making music for the theatre - a completely different ballgame. After taking part in productions such as Robin Hood, Santa Claus, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Hobbit, The Mystery of Edwin Drood with the local pro-am theater company I decided to catch my breath for a while. Theater production is hard work; making it in your spare time is exhausting. Incidentally, computers have come in handy for me at various stages of music production for the theater.

For reasons of illness and misfortune I no longer perform music in public, but I can still manage to compose and arrange music, notably for Lisa's 30+6 strong choir/orchestra named ExDjazz.

Companion Kitties

Emmy and Bobbi performing long-term elevated ambient temperature testing of a wind turbine controller
Feline Thermal Computer Testing
Company products are submitted to special QA testing: our cats. These darling creatures are sure to like any piece of electronic equipment that dissipates a little heat. They will curl up over the warmest spot of the circuit board, napping until you care to feed them. Very good for component burn-in and elevated ambient temperature testing. Further, the occasional rollover, or re-curl as well as scratching (and in-situ petting) of a warm cat is sure to produce ESD levels of sufficient severity to reveal any design weaknesses. Also, cats are good at revealing weaknesses in software. The classic walk/stand/sleep on button/keyboard technique often brings to light surprising unexpected side effects (or 'features').
Little Guy: Come pet me, I mean do some ESD immunity testing
Ready for ESD testing
Our household is currently blessed with no less than four marvellous furry kittycats. King of the heap is the Big Guy aka The Guy aka Sir Guy. He is a very gentle cat - never scratched anybody since his birth in 1994. He can be a grump, though; the other cats can testify to that. He can also be a real kvetsh. On a bad day he only wants to complain over every closed door in the house, and that we never feed him interesting food! On a good day, however, he overflows with love and affection, purring so hard he shakes your body. The Big Guy is a very pretty striped cat with big eyes and a wide, brown nose. There is no pink on him until he opens his mouth. He is a blackpaw!
Big Guy: Real Cats Have Black Paws
Big Guy in an outdoor pose
Next in line is Emmy (also a blackpaw), so named for her emerald eyes, followed a few days later by Bobbi, so named for her 'socks' -  these girls are both from 1999. Bobbi has a very friendly personality, and she made the acquaintance of a guy very much like her in apppearance. This guy would sneak into the house to foray at the food bowls, and he would not run away from human beings, so he finally forgot to sneak back out of the house, and adopted our family for his home. For lack of a better name we called him the Little Guy. He is our fourth cat. He was little when he first came here, honest. He can be a real charmer. Boy, can he sucker us.
And suckers we are, shelling out dough for ridiculous amounts of catfood and kitty litter, plus the inevitable and horrendous vet bills. Four cats make a lot of spaying, neutering and earmarking. Indeed, these furballs have taken on the role as our children! (Not that we would have spayed, neutered and earmarked our children...)

The plot thickens

Doing software development in a Win95 environment amply demonstrated to me the necessity for regular backup of user data. Every so often, Win95 would crash and burn, and on a fair number of occasions affect the disk controller so the data was irrecoverable. Even having separate System and Data disks in the box would leave user data vulnerable to the OS ailments. Backup to diskettes did not seem a practical proposition, and I had no tape drive. I did have an old 486DX50 box, though, which had been running Win3.1, and now served mainly as a DOS utility development platform and as a serial terminal.
Windows: An all too familiar occurrence
Blue Screen Of Death
My knowledgeable guru recommended I give the old box a fresh lease of life as a highly stable fileserver. He even assured me I could still use the box for DOS development and serial terminal. I purchased NICs and a new 8GB disk for the old box, and my guru arrived to show me the joys of an installfest. I was impressed and a lot happier. But things would get better. I found I could still lose data from OS crashes on the client, so changed my setup to edit source files directly in my homedir on the server. No having to think about manually backing up user data from the client to the server. And data no longer vulnerable to client OS crashes because it is on a different disk controller  :)   Plus my guru was right - I could still do DOS development on the box if I wanted, and I could use it as a serial terminal - and much, much more. It gave me (at least) eight switchable consoles on the server ... true, preemptive multitasking and a multiuser environment. Oh, and Lisa's PC got networked too.

Private GNU/Linux

What my guru had introduced me to was of course GNU/Linux. At the time it was RedHat 5.2 with kernel 2.0.36, which seemed a pretty solid and stable distribution. Only later did someone describe it as a major bug...

Watching my server accrue uptime *) made me resent frail Win95 more each day. I vowed to free my client machine of it too, and did a workstation install of my RH cdrom and fiddled for a long time with X and DOSEMU until my usual tools worked to my satisfaction. Alas my assembler ran much slower in this environment than in Win95. I found the bottleneck to be the NFS implementation in RH5.2; the server was panting with high CPU usage in userland whenever my assembler was running. Samba did much better.

*) Stints well in excess of one year have been recorded.
Power cuts, hardware upgrades, and eventually counter rollovers get in the way.

Time had been passing, and when I mentioned this annoyance to my guru he suggested an overall OS upgrade to RH6.1 (kernel 2.2.12-20), which featured a kernel space NFS daemon much faster than previously.

Quite so. And what's more, I could adjust the number of NFS daemons started, and thereby the actual speed of my assembler ... :)
On the downside, RH6.1 played a couple of nasty tricks on me. The parport business, for starters. I proudly figured it out myself, but had to delve into the source to resolve the issue. That was an unpleasant oversight on RH's behalf. To think they'd make a boxed set, and not have printer support out of the box  =:o
Even before that I cursed their choice of Python for the installer. Having only 20 MB of RAM on the server, I never could get it to upgrade from the local cdrom. It spent 90% of the time swapping. I had to do the upgrade via NFS from the client box, which had 64 MB of RAM.

Humble me on the left; guru Martin Petersen of GNOME, Linux/PA-RISC and XFS fame on the right.
Humble before my guru
Meanwhile, Lisa suffered Windows bloat so needed a more capable bitty box. This freed her old box, which eventually became a new LAN file-, mail-, name- and printserver; the old fileserver changing into an internet gateway proxy and firewall. The latter still had only 20MB of RAM, and ancient UARTs without FIFO, so serving an ISDN connection it would occasionally break a sweat and drop a character. Careful tuning could bring the Rx packet error rate below 1%. I had to use hdparm to achieve this figure - and the disk duly crashed a couple times as a result. Things are now much better with ADSL: CPU loading is slight, and hard disk trouble is absent. I massaged the old drive with badblocks, which healed it completely, reinstalled it in the gateway box, and now life is good.
This firewall box expired in late 2002 and was replaced by another used box almost similar to the fileserver except in the way of hard storage, and of course now featuring a tailored non-modular kernel.
The old firewall was refurbished and re-emerged a miniature experimental web server.
I should mention that Lisa swears by Windows, claims to love Bill Gates (gotta be for his money...) and is adept at hand coding HTML and using Paint Shop Pro, though her web designs do not win any awards for modest bandwidth/storage requirements. Of course, they do tend to win a lot of other awards. Also, she is not what you'd call puritan when it comes to email content and uses. Oh, and unlike me, she is prone to vira and worms. This has established the fact that despite her obvious advantage of having California roots, I read spanish better than she does ... case in point: Navidad. OK, 'nuff said.

Business GNU/Linux

I was appointed IT-manager of my work, and when management decided it was time for the big leap (e-mail and Internet) I recommended a switch to uniform TCP/IP networking (we had been using NetWare (IPX) for file and print services). I got the go-ahead for my plan which came in three phases:

  • Replacement of existing file and print services
    Samba and NFS, LPRng, Amanda, bind (secondary)
  • Internet connection, firewalling, proxy and nameserver
    ipchains/masq, squid, bind (primary), exim, fetchmail
  • Internal mailserver
    exim, imap

Tux means business
Medium penguin
At the end of this plan, four boxen were running Linux, and a fifth was soon to follow to support additional shared printers. Client boxen run Win9x with a few dual-booting into Linux. As usual, Linux boxen never crash. They keep running until you take them down for whatever reason you may have (hardware ...). Oh, and to sustain the reliability figures the servers and the network switches are located in a fireproof, airconditioned room without windows (glass or otherwise) and with indoors access only. Also, I have managed to automate most tasks, so only minimal manual intervention is required - notably to change backup tapes.


Little Bobbi has been missing for almost a year now (Jan 2005). One day she just didn't return home. We never found her; nobody seemed to know anything about her fate; ads and posters did not produce any clues, nor did her earmarking.
On the linux homefront, fileserver and webserver have both been upgraded, and Lisa and I have gotten new workstations both.
For new installations I have switched to Debian because they don't ditch legacy packages the way Red Hat does. I don't want X on my servers, nor do I want framebuffers (why bother to have Tux sitting on a boot screen you get to see once?), but I do want SVGATextMode. I will even install ancient video adapters in my new server boxen just to exploit the SVGATextMode capabilities. They simply can't be beat!

Aug 20, 2007 at 1700hrs

Alas the Big Guy is no more. After years of slow weight loss, decay accelerated. First, he would want to sleep on the warm bathroom floor. Then he would seek solitude outdoors and eat precious little. He became slow and inagile. His demise was stayed for about a month by feeding him dietary food gentle on the kidneys, but this weekend he just stopped eating and drinking, and he did not at all want to be in the house. Come monday he had little strength left, and we rushed to the vet after work to have him put down to much sobbing. All at the somewhat extravagant expense of dkr 650.
(The sobbing was over him, not the expense, honest...)

Jan 22, 2008

Finally completed a long-standing project

June 15, 2015

After Big Guy's demise, Emmy's character changed - she would no longer shy away from me, but began seeking my company. She never did care for Lisa, though.
She suffered from arthritis, and was on dietary food and painkillers to ease her situation. Eventually, Emmy, like Big Guy before her, would seek refuge on the heated bathroom floor if we left the door open. All the time she would eat and drink, but she was losing weight, and on June 14 she just began to wander restlessly around the house. We decided it was time to have her put down; after all she would be nearly 16 years old, and had had a good life.
She managed to sneak out into the night and wander far away, but she was found and put down as planned the next day, this time at the expense of dkr. 1,000. Boy do I wish my wages would follow suit.
Now the Little Guy is the sole survivor of the once-foursome.

Aug 29, 2017

This was a sad day. We had to put down our beloved Little Guy (Kitty Guy). In the weekend he simply stopped eating.

For the past 16 months he was a diabetic, and I successfully administered food and insulin to keep him stable. His kidneys were so weak the vet discouraged more dental work requiring aneasthesia, so for a long time we held his gum infection at bay using antibiotics. In the end his blood count and energy dropped drastically, the suspected cause being internal bleeding in the digestive system. So he uncharacteristically stopped eating. He was ever hungry. He was a very social cat that sought our company and our caresses, and even though he could not meow (at best he creaked or chirped) he had ways to make us understand what he wanted.

Having always been a very homey cat, we decided he should rest in our back yard, in the shade between our two birch trees. He lies there, curled up in his beloved basket, as he did much of his life also.

We miss our dear friend an awful lot. Hopefully in the future we shall love another cat. Only time will tell. For now, our house seems empty.

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