Monday, July 31, 2006

Not a story about Black Widow Spiders

On Sunday, Yvette and I were rearranging stuff in the garage in preparation for the roofing guys to come in and tear the roof off way too early in the morning on Monday. During the course of moving all the boxes around and covering stuff up, we managed to disturb a spider. I looked over at Yvette, and I saw a large, globular black spider crawling up her neck. Now, it so happens that Black Widow spiders aren't all that uncommon around here, and from a few feet away, this thing really, really looked like a Black Widow.

I attempted to calmly say "Hold still" so I could brush it off her without her getting bitten, but apparently my eyes gave me away, and Yvette totally freaked out. So she's shaking all of her clothing out and moving around, while I'm trying to get her to stand still so I can find the stupid spider and get it off her before she gets bitten. Mentioning that I thought the spider was a Black Widow was decidedly not helpful. It probably would have been comical if we weren't doing such a good job of completely panicking each other. Yvette managed to get the spider off of herself, and I eventually recovered it. It turned out to most likely be Steatoda grossa, a much less dangerous relative of the Black Widow.

After the incident, Yvette and I talked about what we might have done differently. We didn't really come up with anything, other than possibly running "Spider Drills". I'd just walk up to her and calmly say "Don't move" or something similar, and we'd practice not freaking each other out. I really hated the feeling of the whole thing spiraling out of control like that, with everything I said and did just making the situation worse.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Damned zombie python processes...

If you're running Mac OS X, and you've installed XCode, try this:

open up a Terminal window, and type
ps -x |grep -i python

Do you see dozens and dozens of processes named (python)? Then you'll probably be interested in the discussion here.

This turns out to be due to a bug in XCode 2.3's distributed builds functionality. There's this sctwistd process that gets launched at startup, and every time you log in and out (even switching to another user counts), it spawns off a couple of python processes that get orphaned from their parent. These zombies accumulate over time, eventually leaving your Mac unable to launch any more programs.

Long story short, if you don't use dedicated network builders and you don't want to fill up your process table with Zombie Python Processes from Hell, perform these commands in a Terminal window, then reboot:

cd /System/Library/LaunchDaemons
sudo launchctl unload -w

Now if I can just figure out why Nikon View Monitor is being launched, even though I don't even use Nikon View anymore, I'll be a happy camper. I just don't like running software that I don't need.