I've been kind of lax about updating lately, I know... What happens is, it gets near the end of the week, and I think back and say to myself, "eh, nothing really happened that's worth writing about." Then I finally sit down and force myself to start typing, and one of these 700+ word giganto-entries like this one comes rolling out.
Let us begin...
At the Adam Freeland show, someone brought in a giant boombox. And by "giant" I mean "filled the whole stage!" It's an easy guess that this was something left over from Burning Man, but it was exactly the right size for our stage: it looked like it had been built for us. The DJ stood in the place where the cassette door would have gone, and the VU meters above him were actually hooked up to the mixer, so they were accurate. It was pretty cool. I didn't have my camera with me that night, so here are a few shots I pulled off the webcast (mostly taken after closing):
We got new bulbs for all the intelligent lighting, and this combined with the fact that our hazer is working well again means that the lights have been looking really good lately: I guess they'd been growing gradually dimmer, because it seemed like a pretty dramatic difference after the bulbs were replaced. (Nice fact about intelligent lighting: it's a bad idea to wait until bulbs burn out to replace them, because they tend to fail catastrophically (i.e., explode) and damage the light.)
We've been having the usual assortment of computer troubles:
- Last week our main gateway/router OpenBSD machine decided to just stop allowing most new connections to be established (but only, like, 99% of them.) Existing, established connections were fine, though, and sometimes connections could get through. I couldn't figure out what was going on, so I rebooted it, which "fixed" it. Then it did the same thing again three days later (and so did I.) I hope this isn't becoming a habit.
- Every now and then, the audio on the RealVideo stream turns to static. I don't know why, it just does. Sometimes it fixes itself, and sometimes not. It always starts working again if I restart the server. Of course, I have no way to make the computers detect this, and auto-restart the server, since Real uses a proprietary, secret protocol. I have scripts that will restart the server if it crashes or otherwise goes down, but if it goes to static, I'll never notice, so I have to rely on people emailing me about it. That's kind of weak.
- As far as I can tell from looking at the bandwidth charts, nobody ever uses our wireless network. Or, perhaps, people are trying and it doesn't work. I wonder which it is. If you've tried to use it and failed, let me know! I'm leaning toward "nobody cares about it", myself.
The restaurant next door, Dulcinea Cafe, is finally open! Yesterday (thursday) was their first day. The food is just great, we're all going be eating there a lot. Ok, well, we'd probably be eating there a lot regardless, it being next door and all, but it really is good!
I put up some photos of thursday's Capacitor performance. It was super cool: if you missed it, you have three more chances, since it's happening every thursday at 8pm until October 24th. There was a review of an earlier incarnation of this show in Wired a few months ago.
We've got a few special events coming up that I'm looking forward to:
- On Monday, October 28, we've got a live performance by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, with Cherrie Blue and Voodoo.
- On Thursday, October 31, our second annual Halloween party, with Rosin Coven (who performed on Halloween last year as well), Butoh dancers, a bunch of goth djs in the main room, and CODE residents in the lounge; plus the requisite costume contest, prizes, etc.
- On November 14, 15, 16, and 17 we've got the four day Beyond the Pale festival, with Neurosis plus fourteen other bands. It's probable that all four nights are going to sell out, so get your tickets early if you're interested...
Let's see, what else is new... We've got a new weekly friday event, Remedy, and it seems to be going pretty well. By which I mean, there are a lot of people. It's basically the same crap house music as most of our weekend events have always been, though I'd have to say that this one seems even a little more unabashedly disco than OM and Melon, which I wouldn't have thought possible. The crowd seems a lot more mainstream too. But, that's offset by the fact that they hire the Go Go Pro dancers every week, who always have really creative costumes (and do things like stilt-walking, etc.)
Making fun of some hair-splitting from one of the promoters, tonight the staff has been joking over the radios, "Hey, is the house music getting deeper? Over."
But I think really it's just that the people are getting shallower.
So, computer hell continues: the ever-generous Mal has been spending days here sweating out half his weight in fluids while tinkering with my firewall, and has determined that what's going on is that the state table in the firewall keeps filling up, causing no end of trouble. And since I'm running OpenBSD 2.8 with ipf, there's no way to increase the size of that table without rebuilding the kernel. (Ease of configurability being a sign of weakness to these people.) And rebuilding/upgrading the kernel is a sketchy proposition since that release of the OS has been disavowed for quite some time. Those of you who have been following along for a while may recall that the thing that made me switch from Linux to OpenBSD for the firewall in the first place was the pathetic state of affairs in the Linux world with respect to networking: basically, the motto of that group seemed to be, "your security is our learning experience!" Every release of Linux came with a rewritten-from-scratch firewall system, with incompatible config files: so every time you upgraded, you got to rewrite your rules. YAY. So I switched to OpenBSD, because they weren't playing those games, and generally seemed to take the whole thing more seriously.
So what happens? Six months after I start using OpenBSD (the OS whose motto is now " 0 days without an on-site injury") , some ego battle or other caused Theo to switch to a new, incompatible firewall package. YAY.
So maybe next I'll switch to FreeBSD or something, since apparently they still use ipf. (Hey, so does MacOS X...)
Oh, but it gets better.
The other end of the club's T1 circuit is in above.net in San Jose, and I just found out that above.net is closing the facility we're in at the end of the month. So, if I don't find a way to get a new T1 by November 1st, we're totally offline. Dead in the water. My understanding is that it's impossible to get a T1 that quickly, and so, we're totally fucked. It's made even worse by the fact that we have our current T1 with XO, who went bankrupt several months ago, which means there are probably like five people total still working there. This is a state of affairs that tends to not make a company be terribly responsive.
It may be -- and this is truly frightening -- that our best hope may be to find a way to get a line-of-sight wireless link to our ISP's colo facility downtown. And since there probably tall buildings in the way, we'd end up bouncing off of Twin Peaks or something.
But more likely, we're just totally screwed and will be offline for a month or more. YAY.
Good lord, someone just came in wearing a giant glitter clown afro wig. I remain amazed by the depths to which this club sinks.
We rebuilt the (old) kernel on the firewall, and increased the size of the state table from around 5,000 to around 500,000 (oh, but both make sure you pick a number that's prime! Because computers can't figure that out for you.) Some testing seems to show it behaving better now, but I guess we'll find out for sure in a week.
Still no luck on the T1 front. Jonathan has been spending the last couple days on the phone, but it's not looking terribly hopeful for getting things installed before the end of the month. Meanwhile, other-John is trying to get Plan B going (some crazy Rube Goldberg wireless scheme.)
I put up Angela's photos of last week's Capacitor show. Her pictures are better than the ones I took of the previous show, but there aren't as many. This is because she knows what she's doing and uses a real camera; whereas I don't know what I'm doing, but since I have a digital camera, I can take hundreds of shots to get a dozen that don't totally suck.
She also finally gave me her shots of the Meg Lee Chin / Chris Connelly show from last month. The long delay was mostly because the photo CDs the lab made were absolutely terrible scans (and not for the first time) so this was the final straw that made her go buy her own film scanner.
In other news, this sunday we hosted our second wedding reception at the club, this time for our friends David and Jen. The ceremony was in a park, then dinner next door at Dulcinea, followed by drunken revelry at the club. It was a lot of fun.
Last week, our center speaker cluster became our center speaker. We really didn't need that much muscle up there just to take care of the balcony, so we took two of the speakers down to use as side-fills on the stage. We had been using our live-show stage monitors as side-fills on dance nights, and hauling them up and down every time we had a live show, so this is a lot more convenient.
I think the center speaker looks kind of goofy now, though, all by itself; with the other two in place, it looked much more substantial; now it's just kinda sticking out. We can't turn it sideways because of the angle the sound comes out of it, so it is what it is...
To hang the side speakers, some new mounting points had to be attached to the railings. The welder did this by detaching two old mounting loops that were no longer needed, and welding them back on in the new spot. Check out this quality fucking workmanship. Sure, we've got sharp little nubs sticking out where the old mounts used to be, but that's "good enough", right? Sure, all the other mounting loops are in line with each other, at exact right angles from the railing, but having the new ones be ten degrees out of whack is "good enough", right? This was, of course, not the same welder who did all the other fine metalwork in this place: he never would have done something so halfassed. I mean, I sure these out-of-whack mounts are strong enough, and I'm sure that just about no one but me would ever have a chance of noticing this, but we put a lot of attention to detail in this place, and every time I see it descending into the same level of half-assery by which other clubs work, it drives me crazy. The only reason this place isn't the same kind of dump it was before we remodeled it is that we obsessed over details like this, dammit!
Anyway, moving along to the nerdier news...
Last week, Jonathan got XO (the folks we have our current, about-to-pumpkinize T1 circuit with) to agree to have us up and running with a new circuit by Nov 1. We have it in writing. Today he finally got through to one of the XO monkeys on the phone again, and found that the order went in today -- while he was on the phone. So they're totally on track for getting us that new T1 in around 17 days. Which is either Nov 12, or Nov 19, depending on whether they meant "days" or "business days", which leaves us dark for around two weeks. Pigfuckers! They don't even have to send someone out to make this change, it's all software.
Meanwhile, Plan B is looking more promising. Other-John put a dish up on the roof of UnitedLayer and pointed it in the general direction of DNA, and today he brought the other dish over to the club and we hooked it up. Our original plan was to bolt up a 20' pole at the back of the building, so we can see over the building next door. John brought a pole, and Jonathan and I made like Abbott and Costello lugging an extension ladder up three flights of stairs and out the roof hatch. But, it turns out we didn't need to -- we have line-of-sight to the other dish from the front of our the building at roof level, so we only needed a 4' pole! This made things a lot easier, since, among other things, it meant the hub could go inside the building, instead of inside a tupperware box strapped to a pole 20' in the air. We actually got connectivity between the two dishes today on the first try. It's pretty crappy signal strength, though, because (we think) the other dish needs to be angled down a little to point directly at the club.
After we saw that it was probably going to work, we did another run of ethernet from the back office (where all the computers are) up to the front of the building, which is just about the longest distance it's possible for a cable to go in this building without looping back on itself; I think the run is about 200'. And as long as I was climbing around in the rafters getting dirty anyway, I did two runs, so we were able to move the Airport (wireless hub) from the back office to basically the peak of the roof at the front of the main room: so if you're ever pathetic enough to bring a laptop into the club, you should be getting much better wireless connectivity now.
We were still messing around with the dish after dark, when the club was open. So at one point, John and I were picking our way across the steeply-angled roof, and he said, "wow, this is so much like being back at Burning Man: it's dark, it's cold, we're filthy, we're trying not to trip on something and die, we're out here with a laptop trying to debug the network, and there's loud bass thumping from somewhere nearby." It made me nostalgic, it really did.
In case you haven't seen the Guardian's cover story this week about the SFPD harassing clubs, it's here:
It's a good article overall; though I don't have much sympathy for the excuse of, "but I had no idea I needed a permit!" If you're running a business, it's your job to know those things. It's one thing to challenge the necessity of the permits, or to willfully ignore them as civil disobedience, but "I didn't know" is just irresponsible.
"We've let the police run roughshod over entertainment for the past 20 to 30 years," says Mark Renne, a local attorney for the entertainment industry. "And now we wonder why there's nothing going on in San Francisco?"
As subtle support of this thesis, note how the article casually seems to assume that "live music" means "djs playing other peoples' records."
Speaking of which (plug plug), don't forget our live show tomorrow, Monday October 28: My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, with Cherrie Blue and Voodou. Then on Thursday we have our Halloween party, with a live performance by Rosin Coven.
Well, it turns out we didn't have line of sight to UnitedLayer after all: apparently the sporadic blips of connectivity we were seeing were echoes, and weren't reliable enough to actually get packets through. We were actually getting the best signal when we were pointed directly at the brick wall behind the club: presumably the signal was bouncing off the building on the other side of the street, or something.
But, we discovered that we know someone who lives on the top floor of the apartments next door, so tonight we mounted the dish up there! Once we got up on that roof, we saw the true hopelessness of our previous situation: there were dozens of buildings in the way, even if we had managed to get over the wall behind DNA. But, from atop the apartment building, we've got a clear shot.
Moving the dish up there means another 260+ foot ethernet run, and it means the wireless hub had to go outside, inside a tupperware box strapped to the dish mount. Which means we need to get power up there somehow: we're doing that by running power over some of the unused wires in the ethernet cable. This about as sketchy as it sounds, because there's significant resistance in that much copper. We still need to get a different power supply to drive the hub, since we need to push more voltage down the line to make up for the loss. (Looks like the 5v power supply needs to be cranked up to 9v.)
But, before starting all this, we brought John's telescope up to the roof and confirmed that we have line of sight this time by looking through it and seeing Tom waving back at us. (That was pretty neat.) So it looks like it's going to work this time... Tomorrow, we obtain and hook up the bigger power supply, then figure out how to actually get a bridge running across the two dishes, then figure out how to actually route our packets over that bridge...
This had better work, because XO is still fucking us over about the T1, and we're something like 17 hours away from the deadline when the club goes dark. So if the webcast stops in the middle of the Halloween party, you'll know we didn't get it working in time.
Here's the dish in its new position, and here are John and Jonathan working on it in the middle of the night:
Here's a shot of Eleventh Street from Really High Up (the motorcycle parking in the bottom left corner is in front of DNA's north door.) And, here's a shot of the location of the other dish we're trying to hit, as seen from our dish. The large version of the photo has a target painted on it: at this scale, the dish we're trying to hit is less than a pixel tall. I think one pixel corresponds to about five feet on the roof of the target building!