MySQL errno 13 on OSX: it’s a permissions problem. (Yes, this is technical. Move on.)

This is really techy, and only for those who find themselves in the same situation as me, frantically searching Google for some nugget. No media or financial info here – ignore and move on.

Here’s what happened. I thought one of my databases needed another table (don’t they all?). So I clicked in CocoaMySQL to add a table. Nuh-uh: /* ERROR 14:48:53 Can't create table '#sql-ca_36' (errno: 13) */

Uh? Tried again in a different program, MySQL Administrator. Same result. Tried while logged into to MySQL as root. No luck. So I spent some time tweaking permissions in the administrator. No luck. Clearly, MySQL couldn’t change the structure of its own tables. That seemed a bit remiss.

Puzzled, I searched around a bit – but got nothing that seemed helpful. Except some people had had bad installs… hmm.. Aha! I’d had a problem a couple of months back where a key system program got corrupted – everything else was fine, so I’d done an Archive and Install, and just dragged over the folders holding MySQL (and its data: it all lives in the folder referenced by /usr/local/mysql (get there by going to the Finder and typing Cmd-Shift-G and then enter /usr/local/) – which is usually itself a symbolic link to the folder holding your version of MySQL.

The Apple guide to installing OSX is intended for server but works perfectly well for your own. The key lines are those about getting the right permissions:

Note that at this point everything is owned by root — meaning the mysql account won’t be able to write to the databases under var/ nor be able to create the mysql UNIX socket in the run/ directory. Since we want to run the MySQL database under the mysql account, and not under the root account, we need to change the group association of /usr/local/mysql to the group mysql, and the ownership of /usr/local/mysql/run and /usr/local/mysql/var to the mysql account, as follows:

sudo chgrp -R mysql /usr/local/mysql
sudo chown -R mysql /usr/local/mysql/run /usr/local/mysql/var

That fixes things. But then you need to apply them to the enclosed items too – see the popup at right. Apply to enclosed items, and you’re done. There. A bit of a pain. But maybe it’ll sort someone out who’s flummoxed.

Dear lazyweb, diagnose my knee problem: bursitis? Tendinitis? Ligament? What?

OK, I have queried Google and the places it points me to extensively, and now it’s over to you physiotherapists, chiropractors and other readers on the lazyweb. I mean, if I can’t crowdsource a diagnosis for my knee, then what the hell use is the intertubes?

(Everyone else may find this utterly boring, and self-indulgent. Which it is. You’re completely let off reading. It’s an experiment, OK?)

OK, so here is the history. Because I broke my finger (don’t ask) I wasn’t able to play squash – my favoured form of exercise – so I went on a running machine. First time for an hour (no trouble) and then three days later for half an hour (no trouble) and then a week after the first one for another half an hour, on quite a tough program. I don’t recall any knee pain after any of them.

Possible data point: the day after the last run, I played a game with the youngest of the children – who weighs 10kg+ – in which I crossed my legs and he’d bounce on the foot. So that would be putting a lot of strain over the knee attached to the foot. And as it happens that’s the knee that hurts. But that was two weeks ago.

Symptoms: If I crouch down, bending both knees, the affected knee (right) starts to feel as though something is being squashed – like trying to compress a cushion. And it becomes really painful; I can’t crouch all the way. I can’t pull the lower part of the leg back to touch the upper part (which I can on the left): there’s too much tightness across the top of the leg, on the quadriceps as it comes over the knee.

It doesn’t hurt to straighten my leg; doesn’t hurt to twist my lower leg. If I hold my leg up and bend it, I feel tension on the outside of the knee. If I stand and then gradually crouch, I feel a tension from the top of the inside of the knee diagonally down to the bottom of the outside of the knee. And the muscles on the outside of the knee are enlarged; in fact the whole of the front of the knee seems a bit enlarged. The swelling isn’t obvious except in comparison to the OK knee; then it is.

It doesn’t stop me moving around; I’m just aware of it, particularly when I’m going up stairs; don’t notice it going down. But it’s there, almost all the time.

And that’s about it. My guesses are, in order
-ligament strain: because my knee was bent and turned when child3 was bouncing on it, I’ve strained the ligaments on the outside there. It just seems like a long time to heal.
-bursitis. Might explain the apparent swelling, but the precise location of the feeling of stress doesn’t seem to fit the cause.
-tendinitis: inflamed from running? Possible, but I’ve never had it before.

OK, do your worst. What’s wrong? I’ve tried taking ibuprofen, which has little effect.

Oh, and I plan to play squash competitively tomorrow (having tried it out on my own this afternoon; no pain, just a little tightness, which actually eased when I played. Aches afterwards but not much of it.) The clock is ticking!

(Perhaps a new category needed: self-indulgent wibble.)

Gee, I’m going to miss those lolcats

From the Wikipedia article for Ohai, which is a place in New Zealand:

The lolcat in the wild

(The version on the right is the post-edited version “removing dumb vandalism”. Spoilsports.)

Books I read on holiday: lies, truth, and stuff in between

I’ve been meaning to write this for a couple of weeks – since I got back from holiday, in fact. In France, it rained at night and the sun shone in the day. This seemed a good arrangement. And with no TV and no internet, there was time to read.

I read: Belle du Jour, by .. um.. Belle du Jour; Bringing Nothing to the Party, by Paul Carr; The Other Hand, by Chris Cleave; and The Last Juror, by John Grisham (it came free with a magazine somewhere).

First BDJ. My wife (she’s a novelist) read it first because she wanted to know if it was real. On finishing, she went “hmmm…”. I began reading it. And gave up one-third of the way in.

Why? Because I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that there was a single person writing it. Or if there were, then I felt that person was just lying to me all the way through. (And I didn’t think much of the writing either, tell the truth.)

An instance: at one point, she goes to a big awards dinner with her friend B (or G or X – it’s like the secret service). Yup, her friend B – who she says is “a bouncer at a gay pub”. A what? I didn’t know there was such a job. And if there is, is it really so well-paid that you’ll be getting along to awards dinners – unless it’s Gay Pub Bouncer Of The Year? I’m sorry, but I couldn’t believe at least one-half of that scenario. And when you stop believing that sort of thing, what are you left with? Are these diaries of life, or what? And how strange that none of the clients she dealt with was ever unattractive, rude, smelly. Again, you’re sure there’s no fiction involved here?

I spoke later – on getting back – to some people who I thought might know. (I know, I know, it’s been debated endlessly.) I’m assured by people like Zoe Margolis that BDJ really does exist, and is one person. Well, OK, I’ll have to accept that. But it turns out too that many of the details are obscured; she isn’t Jewish, for example, and there’s much more that she purposely obscured to protect her identity.

Well, OK, fine; conceal yourself. But then don’t be surprised if people giev your book up less than a third of the way through, because it’s not the truth, and it doesn’t work very well as fiction either.

On to Paul Carr’s Bringing Nothing To The Party – subtitled “confessions of a new media whore”. What’s it with my holiday reading and whores?

Anyhow, this is a completely different thing: Carr, who started the Friday Thing, is compellingly honest about his desire to make it rich like (it seemed) all the other internet people in London – Moo, milliondollarhomepage,, that sort of thing. And so he tried to get an internet startup, er, started.

Where it’s so compelling is in his description of how hard you have to work the spinning wheels to make the Emperor’s new clothes that so many startups wear. They’re not just surviving on fresh air; they’re wearing it too, and trying to sell it to anyone who’ll listen – angel investors, venture capitalists, the press. Seeing the crunch come like a slow-motion car crash is compelling reading. Recommended.

And then we come to The Other Hand, a work of fiction by Chris Cleave. How to describe this? It’s a fantastic novel. Cleave’s first book was Incendiary, about people bombing a train in London. It was published on July 7 2005. Ouch.

That thought gives you some insight into the sort of writer Cleave is: he’s tuned in to the things that are going on underneath the patina of society.

Anyhow, The Other Hand.. is about a British woman who has a finger missing from her left hand, an African beach where she lost it (and not in the sense of “I’m sure I left it here..”), the woman who were there, the British woman’s husband.. and also immigration and asylum policy in the UK, the Home Office spin cycle, women’s magazines, national newspaper opinion columns, and of course four-year-old boys who are certain they are Batman. Clear enough?

The quote to mull over: “As I stood there in my green bikini with my hands over my tits I realise that I had freeloaded myself into annihilation.”

It’s a great book, a fabulous read that despite – or perhaps because – it’s fiction is far more true to life than BDJ. It’s got the graininess of life. Highly recommended.

And finally, John Grisham’s The Last Juror, which turns out to be about a local reporter in a Mississippi paper who buys it out – in the 1970s – when its owner dies. It’s engrossing, quite long (it covers about a decade) and full of realistic touches. I’d expected that it would end with a huge car chase, explosion and last-minute rush into a courtroom. Not at all; the ending is almost an anticlimax. It reads more like Grisham’s paean to the lost times of small newspapers and small towns: when there weren’t Wal-Marts in every town, when the small stores were the lifeblood of the place, when you knew pretty much everyone you needed to.

Robert Fripp and Martin Freeman – separated at birth? (And Josh Homme too?)

Freeman Fripp

I was looking at the copy of Exposure, by guitarista Robert Fripp (made wayyy back in the 1970s, but still highly recommended) and started wondering… where have I seen that sort of puggy face before? Something about the line of the nose and mouth… who can it be?

And then it hit me: as seen in The Office, and that sitcom everyone’s forgotten about, and the (really quite good) film of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the separated-at-birth twins: Robert Fripp and Martin Freeman.

Got any other favourite separateds?

Later… listening to the Fripp album, I realise that there’s a clear line that extends from Fripp and his experiments right through to Queens of the Stone Age, my latest favourite band. (As regular readers will have noticed.) They both like music that goes in very non-obvious directions, yet sometimes stray into very tuneful areas that anyone could have written. If you like Fripp’s stuff, there’s a good chance you’ll like the desert rock of QOTSA; and vice-versa. WEll, it works for me.

Laterer… this comparison (musical, between Fripp and Homme) becomes even more true if you listen to Homme’s Desert Sessions, where he gets together with a bunch of people and makes an album in a week. Desert Sessions 9 & 10 sounds very like what Fripp might put together in such a mood.

What if there was a football team that never played football?

David Mitchell wrote the second of two terrific sports comment articles for the Guardian on Friday (could be he’s going to do more, certainly hope so). In I want a long rest from a game that never sleeps, he notes that

Despite the fact that no matches are being played, football still dominates the press. And what are they talking about? Transfers. Essentially, “Human Resources”. So-and-so is reported to be meeting what’s-his-name about a new job. AN Other is in talks with thingummy about a move down south. I mean, what’s next? Reports on clubs’ heating bills? In-depth analysis of a damp problem in one of the stands at Anfield? Even for football-lovers, those who don’t find the game dull and alienating, this transfer guff must still be pretty boring. So why is it so avidly read?

Bloody good question. (Though it does beg the question – that is, assume – that it is avidly read. Is it?)

Are other sports so hated and inadequate that their actual matches are considered less interesting than football’s behind-the-scenes admin? Is football really such a “beautiful game”, such an all-consuming passion for everyone except me and a tiny number of other freaks, that the majority cannot bear to be parted from thoughts of it even for a few weeks? If everyone loves it so much, am I being cruel for disparaging it at all, and not accepting its media domination as rightful?

Yeah, well, I wonder this too. But then I saw a picture in the Observer today, which showed a picture of Bill Nighy in front of some giant letters.

The way he was in front of them, the letters seems to spell out “AC NOW”. Hmm, I thought, sort of like AC Milan.. except this would be AC NOW, the great giant media creation with players so famous that they’ve moved beyond being famous for actually playing football. You know, like David Beckham, who – if I’m remembering this right – occasionally turns up for practice sessions with LA Galaxy, though nobody cares if they live, play or vanish off the face of the earth.

Well, why not have that? Why not a football team whose stars are all so famous they never actually play any matches? They’d just be the subject of eternal press conferences about who was going to join them, or leave them, or where their new manager – some celebrity in his/her own right – would appear in endless press calls talking about how their strategy would move forward now.

Of course there’d come a reckoning, when they’d have to play. But that’s OK: for the boss who runs the club, which makes millions from merchandising, finding ways to not get a match played is incidental. Oh dear, the groundskeeper sprayed weedkiller all over the pitch. Dangerous even to play. Oh hell, the lights failed. And so on.

I see it as a TV series – a sort of Trevor’s World of Sport, but in a football milieu. Seriously. Come on, it’s asking to be sent up. Get in touch..

To Downing Street, to see people. Such as Gordon Brown (out of a window)

Courtesy of Tom Watson, Cabinet Office minister, I was invited on Thursday night to 11 Downing St (I’d been in No.10 before, when Alastair Campbell stalked the earth). The occasion: a reception for “digital entrepreneurs”, though also – it turned out – to give a namecheck to the Free Our Data campaign as an inspiration to said minister, who says he wakes up and thinks “How can I free another dataset?”

Was I impressed? You betcha.

But while we stood listening to the speeches, I noticed (with someone else) that below us, on a patio, there were two people sitting in some chairs, with two bottles of wine and two half-poured glasses on the table in front of them. One of the men was wearing a open-necked light pink shirt, looked vaguely like Simon Cowell (slightly younger) from that distance. The other was.. blimey, it’s Gordon Brown, dressed in dark suit, dark shoes. Is there a prime ministerial uniform, then?

We couldn’t hear a word that was being said – too far away, through a window – but the hand and body language was fascinating. The younger man was a shoveller: hands together on one side, then both move across and push, or come together and push forward.

Brown listened intently. Once or twice he took a note, dragging a piece of paper from a jacket pocket. Once the other guy pulled out a single piece of A4, folded twice, blank on the back, and gestured at it as though it were a short list of things that weren’t quite right. Neither drank from the wine glasses while I was there. Brown sometimes leant forward, sometimes sat back. His body language was listening; then he began talking, and his hand movements were also shovelling, but they seemed like defensive shovelling: the palms turned outwards, as if trying to get something away from him. And then he too did the move-and-shovel routine. Take it from here, put it over there. Shovel, shovel, push and push.

There was something about the tableau that felt fragile. I could have taken a picture with my mobile, but it would have felt intrusive, rude -especially since we’d been asked not to take any pictures inside No.11. (Describing it here is different from a picture, which is just wrestled out of its context; here you have to imagine the scene yourself rather than have it presented.). It was a beautiful summer’s evening, the sun forcing through the trees wet with the heavy showers that had fallen earlier on. And two men discussed.. something, surely important.

It was fascinating to watch; we couldn’t figure out what they might be talking about. Policy? Spin? How to reach voters on some topic? What the effect of oil prices would be? Whether the NHS should impose choice? Who knew? But it was interesting as much as anything because it provided a picture of someone prepared to have a long, detailed talk, listening as well as talking, clearly accepting that he didn’t know everything about the topic. You don’t often see politicians in that unguarded state; only when you get inside the compound, beyond the razor wire, and see them at their ease do you get that insight.

Then they got up and went inside, still not having (in the time I’d watched) touched a drop. Perhaps Gordo prefers a whisky..

So howcome we don’t hear about citizen doctors, citizen lawyers, citizen architects…

So today I’ve been a good citizen. That is, a really disruptive internet break-the-mould stick-it-to-the-man citizen.

Started off being a citizen chauffeur. (OK, driving the family about. But you know, that’s doing a specialist job. Though why is it that if you stick “celebrity” in front of something, people don’t assume you’re the celebrity? If you called yourself a “celebrity chauffeur” people would assume you drove celebs about, not that you were famous and liked ferrying.)

Then moved on to being a citizen childminder. Well, actually, they were just my kids, so “childminder” might have been sort of overstating it a bit, since I didn’t get paid, and didn’t take any exams – but hey, not taking exams is the whole idea about being a “citizen something”. It’s about how you don’t do it.

Then I did a bit of work as a citizen electrician. Yeahhhh, really sticking it to The Man there. Rather than getting an electrician to come in and fix our light switch, I bought one, replaced the old one – having, yeah, switched off the electricity in that part of the house – and put it in. Lights work! Yeah! Come on! Citizen electricianery.. er, electriciany.. electricianing.. anyway, doing it yourself is the wave of the future! Come on, who wants their home wired? Well, I can do the light switches.

Then I did some citizen interior decorating. Yeah, we had a curtain pole that had to be put up. You know, there are people who would charge you good money for that sort of thing. They call themselves “decorators”. Come on – you know that the internet has empowered us to go to exactly the same stores that they do to buy our supplies and Change The World. So – me, a curtain pole, a couple of rawlplugs, a cross-head screwdriver. Oh, damn, a pencil. Down tools. Got the pencil! Oh, damn, a hammer. Down tools. Right! Set. Oh, damn, the rawlplug’s pulled out. Drill drill. It feels so good to be changing the world. If only the flipping holes in the poles would line themselves up. Trust me though – it’s the wave of the future. Soon we’ll all do our interior decoration. It’s going to change completely, baby. Skills in our hands.

So, with that done, and the curtain pole mostly level, it was time to do some citizen gardening. Well, mowing. But you know, that was damn good mowing. If hot.

And that’s not mentioning the citizen paddlingpoolcleaning, citizen chef-ery and citizen just plain reading that I’ve done today. I tell you, being a revolutionary is pretty hard.

Though I think I’ll leave it to others to do the citizen medicine, or citizen architecture, or even citizen policing. Some things, I guess, you need a little training for. I mean, I wouldn’t want to hear that the person trying to reset my broken leg learnt all her expertise from watching ER and House. Hell, I’d do it myself if I thought that approach would ever work.

And so then we come to the topic of nuclear power again

I’ve just read a piece that has been sitting in my browser for weeks: John Lanchester, writing in the London Review of Books, with a piece about why we keep not doing anything about climate change. Because we don’t. We do nothing. Real nothing. Total nothing. Nothing that’s going to make any change.

As Lanchester writes,

I don’t think I can be the only person who finds in myself a strong degree of psychological resistance to the whole subject of climate change. I just don’t want to think about it. This isn’t an entirely unfamiliar sensation: someone my age is likely to have spent a couple of formative decades trying not to think too much about nuclear war, a subject which offered the same combination of individual impotence and prospective planetary catastrophe. Global warming is even harder to ignore, not so much because it is increasingly omnipresent in the media but because the evidence for it is starting to be manifest in daily life.

Through the piece (which checks in at 6,960 well-chosen words), he runs through the false dichotomy about whether climate change is “proven” (of course all science has uncertainty, but around the edges; it suits the oil companies, which like their profits today, to pretend the small uncertainty about detail is really Big Uncertainty about cause and effect); how George W Bush knows that the US is in a mess, and is pretty careful himself not to be caught out (his ranch in Texas uses geothermal heat pumps, and has a 25,000 gallon underground cistern to collect rainwater); how we just can’t look at climate change and its potential effects square in the face, because it’s simply too frightening:

ncreased melting in the Greenland and Antarctic is not included in these figures because there is not enough of a consensus to include its effects in the modelling. That isn’t reassuring. The Greenland ice sheet holds enough water to raise global sea levels by seven metres – which would mean the end of, for instance, London, Miami, the Netherlands and Bangladesh…

What would happen if the Gulf Stream (the Atlantic’s ‘meridional overturning circulation’, as it is scientifically known) were to shut down suddenly – the Day after Tomorrow disaster scenario? The prediction is that Western Europe would become 8ºC cooler, about the temperature of Canada. But Canada produces enough food to feed 30 million people and enough grain to feed 60 million. Western Europe has a population of about 450 million. So what would they eat? Hurricane Katrina gave us a glimpse of how quickly a meteorological event can destroy a city in the richest country in the world. We may be moving towards a future in which events like that come to seem commonplace. Anything in the paper today, darling? Not much – oh, all the Dutch drowned.

And then finally he comes to the question: how do you sort it out? I was surprised to find that he, like me, thinks that an accelerated (or at least urgent) programme of nuclear power stations is the right way forward. We’re both channeling James Lovelock, who points out that nuclear (fission) power

is a mature technology whose risks are understood, which would produce all the energy we need, and which is considered in the round the least worst solution to our urgent need for a carbon-free fuel source. It is not a prospect that brings much joy, and it is going to be of more than academic interest to see how the government gets round or forces its way past the inevitable local objections. We can all expect to hear a very great deal about how France gets 78 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power.

Which makes it all the more depressing to read rubbish at – of all places! – The Register, where some clown (Steven Goddard? Who he?) who’d like to believe that climate change is all a fix has written an article about Nasa’s readjustment of various temperature settings.

So what is the probability of this effort consistently increasing recent temperatures and decreasing older temperatures? From a statistical viewpoint, data recalculation should cause each year to have a 50/50 probability of going either up or down – thus the odds of all 70 adjusted years working in concert to increase the slope of the graph (as seen in the combined version) are an astronomical 2 raised to the power of 70. That is one-thousand-billion-billion to one. This isn’t an exact representation of the odds because for some of the years (less than 15) the revisions went against the trend – but even a 55/15 split is about as likely as a room full of chimpanzees eventually typing Hamlet. That would be equivalent to flipping a penny 70 times and having it come up heads 55 times. It will never happen – one trillion to one odds (2 raised to the power 40.)

Wow, a whole set of wrong suppositions. Who put him in charge of a web page?

  1. who says it’s a 50-50 probability that the temperatures will be revised down or up? Perhaps they found the thermometers all had the wrong readings. Similar has happened – the ozone hole wasn’t detected because its detectors were set to ignore low levels. (Look, a Nasa page admitting mistakes.)
  2. yes, the odds are (if we allow the previous flawed assumption) 2^70. That’s not the same as chimps writing Hamlet, which will be many, many orders of magnitude larger – it’s 2160 lines at performance length; assume 6 words per line (underestimate); that’s 12,960 words, or (average) 77,760 letters; chances of that being typed randomly, 1/26 * 1/26 * 1/26… = 26^(-77,760) or 1 in .. my calculator can’t do it. Astronomically larger than 2^70.
  3. Flipping a coin 70 times and have it come up heads 55 times *will* happen. Not often – but you’ll get it before the monkeys finish. It’s absolutely *certain* to happen, some time.

And this is all before we ask why the joker writing this piece didn’t simply contact Nasa and *ask* them why the temperature readings changed. But no, that wouldn’t let him play up the conflict. He might have to find something out, rather than just questioning something that’s presented to him emptily. Kind of shocking for El Reg to let such rubbish through, to be honest.

Anyhow, that’s the second piece by John Lanchester I’ve read which has been fantastically informative and absorbing. (The other was about finance.) Must get subscription to LRB, I think.

Grangemouth strikers are just the start. Wait for other essential services to realise…

So the Grangemouth strikers have realised that the fact that they’re essential to the running of a plant which refines huge amounts of oil and which in turn powers other oil-refinining plants gives them enormous leverage.

Yet the thing about this strike is that it’s not about pay. Not per se – it’s about pensions. The Grangemouth strikers have the plumpest pensions:

(Presently the top result on a “Grangemouth strikers” search is “why not sack the lot of them?” Obvious answer being “because it’s not an easy job”.)

The workers there don’t pay into a pension scheme; yet even so they get a final salary scheme. This has of course nettled Ineos, which is a bit of a Mr Burns, at least according to what I’ve read. (The Guardian seems to have the only sensible coverage on this.)

So the strike’s about the pension scheme. Ineos wants to close it to new employees and get the existing ones paying in to it. Even so it says

Ineos says it will keep a final salary scheme for all existing workers, paying one sixtieth salary for every year worked, and is proposing that employees contribute 6% over the next six years.

Anyhow, what this strike has shown the Grangemouth workers is that if you’re in the right industry, in the right place, in a key loction, you have to be listened to.

Who’s next? Water workers? Electricity? Gas? Docks? We get the underground strikes from time to time, but the Grangemouth case shows that some workers will realise that they can – at least – get their pensions improved, at the very least.

I’m sure the government’s COBRA group will already know which are the key parts of our infrastructure that need to be kept running. I wonder how easily that would leak to the staff involved there?