Rohit's Realm

The thoughts, observations, and rants of the proverbial young urban professional.

June 03, 2017

Learning the Hard Way: Postgres Recovery from the File System

There are some lessons in life that are perhaps better learned the hard way. That you should have a proper backup system for your data is not one of them. And it's especially not a lesson to learn the hard way when you have been building and working with computers for nearly two decades. But so it goes.

Earlier this week, I had a hard disk fail in one of my servers that doubles as my main workstation. It wasn't the first time I have had a disk fail (or even the first time one has failed in this particular machine), but it was by far the most damaging instance. For reasons that now escape me, I never bought a second hard drive to setup a RAID 1 mirror when I upgraded the system a couple years back (which I normally always do for this system), nor did I ever get my regular backup system running after the upgrade. Even more inexplicably, during that same time period, I went from using that machine solely for development to using it host my definitive photo database (described here).

So you can imagine how I felt when the computer refused to boot after an update. After several consecutive nights of staying up into the wee hours, I can say that I've almost brought things back to normal. No part of the process was pleasant, but by far the worst of it was trying to recover the Postgres database cluster from the file system because my database backups generated by pg_dump were too old.

October 02, 2016

Rohit Reviews: Light in August

Light in August

As I briefly observed in my review of Demons some years back, the order in which one approaches a particular author's catalog (oeuvre, for the pretentious among you) often influences one's perception of his or her individual works. And so was the case when I read William Faulkner's 1932 novel Light in August.

I was first exposed to Faulkner in high school (The Sound and the Fury), and since then, have made my way through two of his other major works—Absalom, Absalom! (for an English class in college) and As I Lay Dying (review here). In each of those instances, I recall enjoying the read but also struggling to make my way through it. The distortion of time, the dense, unpunctuated prose, and varying narratives all required tremendous focus to follow. Light in August was different.

August 21, 2016

An Update (of Sorts)

Well, hello there, dear readers. It's been a long while, has it not? Nearly three years to be precise and, really, quite a bit longer than that (tepid book reviews hardly count). And while I primarily decided to return to this site after so many years to test that the bug fixes I implemented over the weekend were working, I thought I might as well also put out an update (of sorts) while I'm at it.

August 24, 2013

Rohit Reviews: Demons

Demons

I would say something about my long absence from this loathsome affair, but is there even a point any more? You, dear readers, should know not to expect anything of me—I told you as much last year.

I return today to this miserable site to review Demons, Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1872 novel about political intrigue and revolutionary conspiracies in nineteenth century Russia, which I finished while traveling through India earlier this year. This being the last of Dostoevsky's major works on my reading list after Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamozov (review here), The Idiot (review here), and Notes from Underground (review here), I was expecting to be somewhat disappointed—how could this novel possibly match up to those awesome works of literature? Instead, I was rather pleasantly surprised.

March 24, 2013

Rohit Reviews: Nausea

Well, dear readers, it's been a while. I hope you didn't miss me too much over the past few months. (It's hard to imagine the scenario in which anyone might miss me or this dreadful blog, but hey—the world is full of strange and dreadful phenomena. Who am I to judge?) In any case, I wish I could tell you that I emerge today full of spirit and motivation to begin writing again, but that's simply not the case. I have, however, gotten through several books since I last wrote here, and will hopefully be reviewing a few of them over the next couple week. The first of the set is Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, which I finished on a plane from Los Angeles to New York last Christmas. To put it mildly, it was definitely not a merry read.

Sartre's first novel, and purportedly his best, Nausea takes the form of the diary of Antoine Roquentin, a listless French writer who has moved to the small (and fictional) town of Bouville to research the subject of a biography he is writing. Fixated on and horrified by his existence, however, Roquentin spends much of the novel documenting his feelings and sensations as he goes through his daily routine and interacts with both animate and inanimate objects. And while certain other characters do make appearances, including an ex-lover (Anny) and a local acquaintance (the Self-Taught Man), the novel is largely a collection of Roquentin's (actually, Sartre's) thoughts on consciousness and the meaning of life (or the lack thereof).

August 18, 2012

Some Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of the Realm

Even typing that title is a little disorienting: has it really been that long? Have I really been tending this miserable little spot on the web full of irrational rage and misguided existential angst and random computer shit and really crazy ideas for ten years? Am I really so old that a decade can pass me by with nary a notice? Hardly seems possible.

March 12, 2012

Rohit Reviews: War and Peace

War and Peace

For the benefit of those who have not had the insurmountable displeasure of interacting with me in person of late, I must admit that I have become somewhat fixated in recent months upon the so-called Mayan apocalypse and the prospect of world coming to an (unlamented) end on or about December 21, 2012 (the winter solstice). That's not to say I believe the world is coming to an end in nine months, because only lunatics and buffoons believe in such rubbish, but only that this prospect has caused me to contemplate the meaninglessness of life (alone and in the dark, of course) and consider the extent to which I have accomplished nothing more than I normally might. One natural question that follows from this line of thought is as follows: what would I regret not having accomplished if when I perished along with the rest of the wretched mass of humanity that torments this miserable planet like a biblical plague? The answer shouldn't be too hard to guess: I would regret having not gotten to Leo Tolstoy's 1869 epic, War and Peace.

And so, with heady thoughts of the world's end consuming me, I set out on January 1st of this year to accomplish at least this one goal in a life otherwise riddled with and downright failures. Last night, I accomplished this goal, some nine weeks after I began, and below I briefly summarize some of my impressions on this vast, towering novel.

February 01, 2012

Handwringing on the Subject of E-Books

Having committed most spare moments of the past month to making progress in Leo Tolstoy's massive 1869 tome, War and Peace, it seems only fitting to pause as I pass the approximate halfway point (end of Volume II, page 600 of 1224) and consider the vexing question of book format that has tormented me since the start of the e-ink revolution in late 2007. Although I bought a second generation Kindle shortly after its release in April 2009, and have since then occasionally used the thing to read books (as opposed to law articles), it has never replaced the physical format for me (as it has for many fellow techies I know). Indeed, both of my last two ill-advised book-buying binges have involved brick and mortar bookstores, and my version of War and Peace is the 2008 Vintage translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (easily my favorite Russian translators, incidentally).

As with most things in my sorry excuse for an existence, the question of why bothers me. Why haven't I abandoned the physical format yet (as I long did in music, TV, and movies)? E-books mean less clutter and less expense—what's not to love? Perhaps nothing. But I can think of at least three possible explanations as to why I—and many of my fellow bibliophiles—might not have made the leap to e-ink wholeheartedly: (1) books are intrinsically different than other media such that (a) format matters and (b) the physical format can be superior; (2) the utility people derive from pretension (i.e., others seeing your library) exceeds the cost of the clutter; or (3) we are relics of a soon to be bygone era on our way to waxing nostalgic about bookstores and paperback books much the way our parents' generation goes on about record stores and LPs.1 Bear with me as I tackle each of these thoughts in turn. Or don't: it wouldn't be the first time I (or this third-rate site) have been abandoned, and it certainly won't be the last.

January 22, 2012

Some Thoughts on Sports Allegiances

SF 49ers

Obsessive allegiances to sports teams have always mystified me, even as I myself hold and act upon these obsessive allegiances. This most worthless of sites, for instance, has long documented my ire and despair over the trials and tribulations of the ever faltering Cal Golden Bears. But as I myself observed some years back following an especially devastating failure by my alma mater that nearly brought me to tears, the notion of caring enough to weep about a sports institution whose only relation to you is that it represents your undergraduate university is difficult to explain—at least as a rational matter. The notion that one might care the same way about a team whose only relation is even more tenuous—that it represents a city which you may have once called home—is downright preposterous.

All these rational thoughts notwithstanding, each August I inevitably get excited for the upcoming college football season (and by October, am usually reduced to despair by atrocious quarterback play). Worse still, I would have been getting similarly excited about the NFL each year, but for nearly a decade, the team I've long rooted for—the San Francisco 49ers—was stuck in a rut of horribleness that actually made it seem like Cal had a better chance of getting to the Rose Bowl than the 49ers to a playoff game.1 One might think that after a decade of next to no expectations, my allegiance to the 49ers might have lessened. Instead, hours away from the NFC Championship, I again find myself anxiously awaiting the game—and wondering why it is that I care so much.

January 02, 2012

Rohit Reviews: Notes from Underground

Notes from the Underground

I am a sick man . . . I am a wicked man. An unattractive man. I think my liver hurts. With those opening sentences, Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1864 novella Notes from Underground joins the pantheon of books with awesome opening lines, alongside such masterpieces as Anna Karenina, A Tale of Two Cities (review here), Pride and Prejudice, and Huckleberry Finn. And like its compatriots just mentioned, Notes did not disappoint beyond its opening lines.

Considering that Notes is often regarded as the first existential novel, it has, unsurprisingly, long been on my list of books to read. But for whatever reason, it never was a priority, and given the length and density of other works of Russian literature (including a few by Dostoevsky himself), the almost absurdly short Notes, which clocks in at only 131 pages, always seemed to fall by the wayside. That is, until my second ill-advised book-buying binge of 2011. But length can be deceiving: despite its rather skimpy appearance, the novel still packs a rather impressive intellectual punch—and this time, without the 200 pages or so of exposition usually endemic to Russian novels.