I cultivated yeast from the bottom of a bottle of gueuze (a Belgian beer made with wild yeasts) and used it to make bread. I’ve made a couple of loaves so far, both of which have risen slightly better than my old home-grown starter. They taste good too, if a little less tangy than the other culture.

I renovated my old ThinkPad X220, last used some time in 2021, by dismantling it, cleaning out the fan, reapplying thermal paste to the CPU and replacing the thermal pad on the other chip under the heatsink. It seems to whine less.

I then used it as a testbed to see if I could resize an existing partition on an encrypted disk, which turned out to be fairly straightforward. I really like the flexibility of Linux’s LVM, now that I’ve used it a few times and understand what physical volumes, volume groups, and volumes are.

I replaced Ubuntu with Debian on my current laptop (a ThinkPad T470s) by shrinking the existing root partition as above, creating a new root partition, and using the old root partition (with a bit of directory housekeeping) as /home on the new system.

Installing Debian onto an encrypted volume isn’t obvious, and you have to use the “expert install” option and do a bit of work behind the scenes to get it to work.

Unfortunately, I forgot to mount the /boot partition, so ended up with a system that wouldn’t boot. It took me several hours of wee hours hacking to fix that, with the eventual solution being booting to a live image, mounting the root partition, bind-mounting several points including /sys/firmware/efi/efivars into there, running a chroot and reinstalling grub.

It worked in the end, though, and because I had the same home directory, all my personal settings were exactly as before and I only had to install a few packages. Even things like docker containers that I use for work were in /home and I could just bring them back up right where I left off.

Having succeeded on my laptop, I also replaced Ubuntu with Debian on my desktop PC. I did exactly the same things (I take notes for this kind of thing) except that this time I did not forget to mount /boot and therefore finished the install without any complications.

I’ll write a post from my notes to explain how to reproduce everything.

My Kensington Expert trackball stopped working. I’ve had it for 22 years, so it wasn’t entirely unreasonable. At first, I thought it was a software problem, but another mouse worked, and it wouldn’t work on my laptop either. I resigned myself to consigning it to the great e-waste pile in the sky.

However, today, while idly trying it one last time, I noticed an error in the system logs:

fwupd ... failed to load BOS descriptor from USB device

Which led me to an issue describing exactly this problem, and a Debian bug report mirroring my experience:

I have a Kensington Expert Mouse (trackball) connected by USB. Today I installed the update to fwupd 1.9.14 that apt upgrade offered me. Soon afterwards, my trackball stopped working.

You can probably guess exactly which version of fwupd I have on both my desktop and laptop. Now that I think about it, it happened when I rebooted after moving the computer from Bookworm to Testing, which is what brought in the errant version.

The good news is that it has been fixed in fwupd. The bad news is that I had already bought a replacement trackball, an Elecom Huge. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have some variety, and to see what’s new in the past couple of decades, and it wasn’t very expensive, but it was unnecessary. For now, I’m going to see how I get on with this new trackball.

I remapped the buttons according to a helpful blog post written by past me. Thanks, Paul.

A “broken” Crybaby wah in excellent condition came up on eBay recently at a cheap price, so I grabbed it. They’re simple devices, and there’s not much to go wrong electronically, so when I read the description

Sound comes through only in bypass mode. When the pedal is switched on, there is NO SOUND whatsoever.

I thought it had to be an easy fix. And it was: the footswitch wasn’t connecting one of the throws. A £3 replacement later and it’s back and working perfectly.

Modern microelectronics can be unforgiving, but many guitar pedals are straightforward analogue circuits, and it’s often the mechanical parts, like switches, sockets, and potentiometers, that break. It’s satisfying to fix them.

I went to an excellent short concert performed by musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music on Thursday night. It was organised by Sam Meredith as part of his studies and featured pieces written by Purcell, Beethoven, Bruckner, and Meredith himself, played on several trombones and (in a couple of pieces) one trumpet.

I hadn’t really listened to much trombone on its own, but it turns out to be a wonderfully warm and mellow sound (at least, when played by good musicians) that deserves to be heard more.

Currently reading: Vitre vite by Brigitte Giraud.

This week’s links: