Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Advogato Entry 14

I hate Solaris. Well, maybe that's a little strong. I'm just so used to Linux, and it bothers me when things aren't where I expect them to be. Oh well, I'll get over it.

Saw that links browser. I'll have to try it out sometime.

Work is pretty slow, though it's not like I don't have anything to do. I really need to reinstall WinNT on one of my boxes. I suppose I may actually have to sacrifice some RAM from one of the Linux boxes I have -- I think the NT box only has 32 right now, which means it's dog slow. Personally, I don't need NT, but I have users who run it on their own systems, and I need to test out software for them (PuTTY and other stuff).

Lately, I've been organizing a lot of documentation. Clearing out old cruft from The Big Manual that we have for all of our systems here. At some point I actually have to use it to re-install a database or two.

I saw David Boies on Charlie Rose last night. He was talking about the Napster case, and was very good. I knew that he exaggerated some things, but he cited the 1989 Audio Home Recording Act when saying that it's OK to sample music and to share music with your friends noncommercially. I think I'll have to do some reading. I haven't decided if I'm going to buy any music this month, but my musical mind seems to be withering. I think I'll have to go get a few (or a lot) of CDs.

The commercial advertising actor strike is really bothering me. Very few ads are being made, so advertisers do not have any variety in their ads anymore. My mind is going numb after seeing the same ads over and over and over. It's becoming sickening, and I've been avoiding TV.

Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Advogato Entry 15

Grr.. I'm installing CRSP data on a Linux box here at work. Of course, Linux is not a `supported' platform (not that they seem to support their other platforms very well). They have this ungodly Bourne Shell install script that is really, really crummy. Of course, Bourne Shell doesn't have functions, so you have to cut-n-paste whenever you need to reuse code. Oh fun. And the idiots have to go chmod 555 all of their data. What's up with that? You should use 644, morons! Blah.

Anyway, I have to figure out the best way to lay out the directory structure so that the researchers that use it will actually be able to find the stuff they need...

I've had a highly unproductive day so far. I've been reshuffling documentation for our servers. I think I've gotten rid of all of the old crud. I'm lucky that I didn't throw out one section -- there was a server that I thought had been converted over to NT. We needed the root password.. It turned out that it is just partially converted. It's an old NeXT box (!?!@#$*@%) that runs what is apparently a fairly popular web site. At any rate, the filesystem had filled up from log files. Someone must have tried redoing the main index.html file, so the system truncated the length down to zero when they tried to save it... Oops. Thankfully, Google's cache brought it back to within a few months of it's previous glory.

Still haven't had much time to work on any Free Software. I really need the day to be lengthened to 36 hours...

Thursday, August 3, 2000

Advogato Entry 16

Diary entry 15

Late/Early

I just had a light bulb burn out in my room. The other one had burned out two days ago. I need to invest in those long-last bulbs, though I bet the ones I get will only last 6 months. (but then I could sue ;-)

Noonish

The sun was out early this morning, and I almost got up. I really should have gotten up, because the sun disappeared again and I ended up feeling really lethargic.. That must be why I've been having trouble getting up lately -- it's been overcast in the mornings for quite a while now..

I've really got to look into this printing stuff a bit more. I saw reference to Grant Taylor and more CUPS stuff. The Linux/Unix printing system really does need to be revamped. I mean, I don't want to define a new printer in /etc/printcap just to be able to run at a different resolution or to print in color or whatever. This is something that has been missing for a long time. Of course, what's the best way to do this? You don't want every program that wants to print to be dependent upon a particular graphical widget or anything (of course, you don't want it to be dependent on graphics at all).

I don't want more printers to be using proprietary languages, and I think that has been named as one of the detractors to CUPS, whether it is true or not. Of course, perhaps the truth about that rumor is the fact that device manufacturers don't know how to make a `driver' for Ghostscript. AFAIK, all of the drivers are compiled into that program, which makes the distribution of drivers very difficult. Regardless, it sounds as though CUPS can help a lot on PostScript printers (using the PPD printer definition files), especially those that have extensions for landscape, portrait, double-sided printing, stapling, collating, etc. It's a heck of a lot easier to do those fancy printing modes by clicking a button and having your program insert the correct commands rather than going and editing the postscript output by hand..

Hmm.. kind of on the topic of printing, I wonder if there are yet any programs for reading the status of my Epson Stylus Color 640. I'd kind of like to know how much ink is left. I had thought that printer would be very nice, but it's really slow. The heads can get very jammed up with ink, making it impossible to print anything that looks good at all without going through three or four cleaning cycles.. All of these things that I have to buy.. must...resist..temptation...to...spend...money...

I do really need to go out and get a new hard drive. They're selling some pretty nice drives at fairly decent prices just a few blocks from where I live. I still have to dig around the web and see if $210 for a 30GB 7400RPM IBM drive is too much. Or should I just go whole-hog and get a 60GB 5400RPM Maxtor for $280? If that's twice the bit density.. would it be faster than the other one? Hmm...

Late Afternoon

Boy, this is getting to be a long entry.. Oh well. I saw gtaylor saw the previous version of this and gave me some pointers. Thanks for the info..

I've been fighting with CUPS this afternoon. It just doesn't want to behave on my system for some reason. I think the backend filters are getting passed the wrong arguments when they get called. I'll have to investigate that further (and wonder why nobody else noticed..) I suppose the mailing list holds the answer.

Friday, August 4, 2000

Advogato Entry 17

Entry 16

I'm finally learning a bit more about why I'm here doing this job that I'm doing. The business school where I work is trying to set up a fairly massive Oracle database which will contain all sorts of information, from who is enrolled in which class to the financial data that we have in a number of binary or ASCII data files on our main servers. It's sounding like it will be a massive thing. We've got a quad-processor Sun box (E425R, I think) with a RAID bank that will be running the database, eventually accessible via web, Java, and other front-ends (or so I'm told). Request Brokers and all of those fancy buzzwords were thrown at me. Certainly, Oracle is a nice database, but can't you just slap a PHP frontend on it and call it a day? (At least in the early stages?) Also, it seems like my efforts around here will go to waste if people are no longer logging into my boxen.. A web interface is just so sterile and with zero personality.. Then again, Solaris' ordinary personality really, really sucks..

Last login: Fri Aug  4 11:16:11 2000 from <...>
Sun Microsystems Inc.   SunOS 5.7       Generic October 1998
$ tpo^?^?^?^?^[[2~^?^[[F
tpo: not found
??: not found
: not found
?: not found
[[2~: not found
?: not found
?: not found
[[F: not found
$ top     
top: not found
NOOOOOOOO!

At any rate, I just went put four copies of Seti@home on the server (they're really doing a number on the data chunks.. looks like about 10% every 30 minutes). Some Oracle guys will be coming in eventually to actually set up the database, but they want to have a good idea how it will be used before doing anything. Of course, nobody has really figured that out yet...

I have mentioned previously that I was working on a small NeXT box that has been gleefully serving web pages for years. They've been trying to port the backend of this thing over to NT for nearly the same amount of time. From what I can tell, it's just a medium-sized pile of Perl and TCL scripts. I'll have to see if it's hard to port it over to Linux or not. The box is not exactly in my jurisdiction, but only me and my boss are the only people around here who really seem to know how to administrate Unix-like systems...

Afternoon

Hmm.. I think I may pick up that 60 Gig Maxtor drive tonight, or perhaps tomorrow sometime. Of course, what sort of filesystem do you put on that thing? I need journaling if it's going to be that big. I see three options: ReiserFS, Ext3, and GlobalFilesystem. I'm kind of leaning toward GlobalFilesystem, just because I don't have to travel far to physically beat on the developers if something goes wrong ;-)

Saturday, August 5, 2000

Advogato Entry 18

Entry 17

Well, I decided that I'm making enough money to go out and buy a new large IDE hard drive. I may regret this. Oh well, I can always sell something, like my Palm II, which has been going fairly unused..

Now I'm stuck with the task of figuring out what exactly to do with 60 GB of disk space. My /:/usr disk is 8 GB, and I figure I can move my 2 GB /home onto that disk. Of course, my big issue is that I want a decent filesystem now. I'm not sure how long an e2fsck will take on that much space, and I don't think I want to find out. I mentioned earlier that I see ReiserFS, Ext3, and GFS as options. I worry a bit about Ext3, even though I haven't tried it. Ext2 (semi-)compatility is nice.. I wonder if either ReiserFS or GFS have anything like Ext2's file attributes: immutable, append-only, etc. However, both ReiserFS and GFS are supposed to be significantly faster at many things than Ext2(/3?).

One of my concerns is that of large file support. Not that I expect to be coming across many large files (>2 GB). Apparently, this will all become moot when 2.4.x arrives, although GFS does support large files in 2.2.x. The other thing is journaling. Ext3 is basically designed to add journaling to Ext2. ReiserFS has had journaling for over a year. GFS's journaling is relatively new, added since their last release in late 1999 (it's in CVS). GFS really scores points for being a best-of-breed clustering filesystem (but I'll only be running it as a local FS, so that doesn't really matter), though Reiser counters by having interesting ideas behind it like behaving almost more like a database than a filesystem. If I had an Alpha, I'd probably jump for GFS. It's largely been developed on Alphas, where Reiser is geared more toward i386.

I understand that there were people at OLS from all of these different camps. The GFS people have some slides..

Blah, enough about filesystems. Hmm.. Oops! I forgot about a backup that I was supposed to be doing.. I'd better go do that.

Sunday, August 6, 2000

Advogato Entry 19

Entry 18

Been reading through the Slashdot story about the protests surrounding the Republican Convention. I wish I could be a few degrees less separated from that situation -- then I could at least be reasonably sure I'm hearing the truth or being told an all-out lie. Regardless, it reminds us in the United States that we really have to stay vigilant about our rights. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people disagree about the definition of `civil disobedience' and the degree to which it is useful.. 90% of the time, I think you can be heard without getting in the way of anyone else (ie, walking/sitting on the street and blocking traffic). More than 99% of the time, violence is not going to help you. Oh well, just my opinion.

Wired ran their own story about the stuff in Philadelphia and mentioned phillyimc.org, a site gathering the views of `independent' reporters. It's pretty cool to hear that it's running on Slash, and the Wired article said that it had been put together by some of the core Debian coders (though Wired may have misinterpreted something..). It's neat to see how Free Software is helping people who are interested in protecting the freedoms of Real Life. This continued merging and mingling is really neat, and I hope that the actions of the people involved in this stuff will have an impact upon governments everywhere.

I think I'll use ReiserFS on my computer instead of Global Filesystem. I like the work of the GFS guys, but ReiserFS is far more likely to be a supported filesystem the next time I have to upgrade or re-install my system. Of course, GFS should definitely go into any product targeted at high-end servers or clusters (well, once the GFS team considers it `stable'). They'll both work on anything, but Reiser will be best suited for PCs, workstations, and individual servers.

Hmm.. I see that I said `Palm II' instead of `Palm III' yesterday. Actually, it's a Palm IIIx... (Why didn't they call 'em `Palm ][' and `Palm ]|[' ? That would have been cool ;-)

Monday, August 7, 2000

Advogato Entry 20

Entry 19

The Slashdot story about DOS being essentially removed from WinMe is interesting. Nobody would care, but a lot of programs are still being made for DOS, mostly in the firmware upgrade arena. I had to upgrade the BIOS on my system last night, as I had just purchased a UDMA/66 (or even /100) drive, but my motherboard only has a /33 controller. The drive wasn't detecting.

I went and found the right BIOS from FIC, then tried to copy it to a floppy. Floppies suck, BTW. They suck more than a cluster of Electrolux. Badblocks couldn't find the bad blocks on the diskette. Annoying. Anyway, I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to find a DOS boot disk, but the roommate actually had a 98 install disk (though he runs Win2k these days).

I guess it just shows we have to put more effort into FreeDOS.

Mid-Morning

The Quest for Companionship: Well, I just came into work. There was a girl on the bus today who I've seen a few times. Actually, she probably lives in the same building I do. Anyway, I waited an extra stop to get off where she did. There's basically no way in hell that I could talk to another person, so I just have to try to increase the chances of accidentally talking to her. Anyway, we both ended up dropping off to pick up something from the same vending area, so I'm somewhat encouraged. However, she pretty well booked out of there, so that's not such a good sign. Unfortunately, I've gone through a bad version of this before. Something I must be careful not to repeat.

There was a girl in High School that I really thought was The One or something along those lines. I lacked the charisma, or perhaps you would just call it the blatant idiocy, to just go up and talk to her. Pardon the use of that annoying phrase, but it was a long and strange trip. I remember the things that happened, and my whole being believes that there was something going on. I just never understood what that something was. Oh well, right now all it means is that there are years of my teenage life that I'll never have back, and that makes me feel terrible. I don't want those pains to come back, and I don't want to be the haunting force in anyone else's life ever again.

Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Advogato Entry 21

Entry 20

Late/Early

It rained tonight, quite hard. It rained much harder a while back, and there was a small leak. Today, it seemed as though the entire wall was leaking, seemingly coming throgh the window, streaming down the walls, and dripping all over. It actually wasn't as bad as that sounds, but I'm sure it will get worse if I don't say something. I'll have to talk to the management tomorrow. Sigh.

Noonish

I had trouble getting up again this morning. I took a long nap after work yesterday, but then I stayed up very late mucking on IRC and doing other stuff. I decided to telecommute and have ended up having a very unproductive morning. I'm sure I'd be much more productive if I could just find some extra stimuli in my life. At least in High School I was forced to interact with people every day. At college, people aren't crammed so closely together, so they don't interact as much, or at least I don't.

Anyway, spent too much of my time reading Sinfest, which is really funny if you don't mind poking fun at God, swearing, and references to the sexual mentalities surrounding us these days.

I'm going to head out to actually work at work soon. The boss and I are a little worried that our developers are going to start using Microsoft J++ for communicating with the eventually-will-be-installed Oracle database. He gave me a copy of J++ to try out, in order for me to see if it's possible to actually produce something resembling pure Java with it. Unfortunately, my NT box is fairly underpowered, at least for NT4SP5 (P133 w/ 64MB RAM). I'm feeling masochistic, so I'm going to give Win2k a shot. My P166/128MB Linux box is extremely nice and snappy in comparison, though I really need to find a good video card for it (800x600 is becoming tiresome).

Late Afternoon

I'm displeased with my building's management right now. As I was walking out, I saw that we had a notice slid under the door stating that we owe $50 plus $25 penalty. Dunno what it's for, but I'll have to bring up my leaky wall when we talk to them about it.. Unfortunately, they keep relatively inaccessible hours like 9:00-4:30 or something, so I'll have to come to work late or leave work early some day. Blah.

I think I finally found something to hack on -- porting Secure Locate to Solaris. It's a small codebase, so it shouldn't take too long, though I'll have to read a bunch of man pages to refresh my memory about all of those functions. I think I'll be annotating a lot of source, too..

I'm annoyed with [X]Emacs, and *vi*, so I was looking around for decent editors. gIDE seems to be coming along nicely, and the syntax highlighting actually works (though it seems slow...). Finally, a text editor where I don't have to have a QWERTY keyboard (*vi*) or learn horrendous keystrokes ([X]Emacs). Not perfect, but it's something I can live with.

Oops.. I'd better quit before I start an editor war..

Evening

Somewhat disappointed that there was no mention of the multi-State suit against Big Music on the national news tonight. I guess it's not surprising, but it sure seems to prove the biases we believe to be out there these days. In a similar vein, it's amazing what is happening in China. I mean, the son of the President of the country is running a Linux company over there. It's basically impossible for interesting things to not happen because of this.

I've said too much today.. I'll be quiet now.

Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Advogato Entry 22

Morning

Last night, I was asked to volunteer some time for the Minneapolis Independent Media Center. I think it's wonderful to have a media outlet that isn't influenced directly by corporate interests. However, the coverage that the various IMCs have been giving has been pretty heavily slanted towards covering protests and other action. It would be a waste for that to continue..

I remember watching the unveiling of Transmeta earlier this year (in RealVideo), and seeing how moronic the reporters were. The Transmeta guys went out and very clearly stated what they had done, and the reporters would go and ask questions that had already been clearly spelled out. Afterwards, I could tell which reporters had actually been there, and which ones were just reporting by reading reports.

The best reporters know a lot about what they're reporting on. Sometimes, the best person to report on a situation is not sitting there with a `Press' tag, but is just an interested observer.

Unfortunately, the IMC sites are just as susceptible to pranksters as Slashdot, kuro5hin, and Advogato.. I hope that they can find some fair-minded editors and contributors.

Noonish

Hmm.. I'm probably spending too much time on diary entries. Better cut back. However, I just had to mention that Miguel de Icaza posted his OLS presentation. I knew that was what he was talking about, it's just that the people who reported on it in the beginning weren't very clear, and the Slashdotties went a bit nuts about it.

It's a wonderful article, and I hope Good Things will happen. However, I wonder how much of the old Unix/Linux will remain when it is all done.

I mentioned yesterday that there is a lot of interesting things going on in China. I see that there is now a story on the front page, and there was a Salon article about it today, saying essentially the opposite of what The Register posted yesterday..

Thursday, August 10, 2000

Advogato Entry 23

Noonish

Woke up late, and stayed at the apartment again. I should have tried to do some work, but I've been lacking focus lately. It was probably good to play hookey a bit. Unfortunately I read my e-mail late. I got an e-mail (sent late last night, after work) saying I had to be around to tell some electricians where they should put some 30 Amp plugs. After swearing at myself for being so unorganized, I put myself together, had a quick breakfast/lunch, and headed out. Fortunately, I think I got there before completely pissing them off.

I did find some music by Paul Oakenfold this morning. Well, it's hard to say `some music' when you're talking about Paul Oakenfold, since the guy produces mixes running for an hour or two. It's amazing stuff, and I'll have to see if I can pick up some of it on CD.

I've tried to make music on my computer in the past, but I completely suck at it. I'm sure this isn't helped by the fact that I'm too cheap to go out and find a CD or CD-ROM of decent sound/instrument samples out there (actually, I'm probably not too cheap for that -- I've just never looked). Anyway, I'm a person that really likes high-quality samples.. None of that mono 8kHz crap.. Besides, the music trackers I've found have usually been pretty crummy (though there are some shining stars out there). Of course, hell would freeze over before I'd pay $100-1000+ for a decent tracker (and I'd never want to have to use Windows...) At any rate, I doubt I have the talent required to produce anything interesting...

Also, I have to mention Katz's recent Academe, as I posted a comment about where I work..

Friday, August 11, 2000

Advogato Entry 24

Morning

The 12 Coins Problem: It's really easy if you have a balance with 3 platters. You can even do it in two weighings..

Oooh.. here we go -- ``The A&E guide to the late summer big studio movie toilet. Approach with caution.'' Space Cowboys: How bad is it? James Garner seems to be edging his way off the set. The Replacements: Survival Tip: You won't. Take strychnine.

Sometimes, the campus newspaper just rocks ;-)

Anyway, I'm really impressed with the level of political debate in the US these days (and it's amusing to watch the coverage of the Reform Party convention ;-). I think Nader (and the others too) is really getting people talking. Of course, this begs the question -- how many people are going to be in the debates? I remember that there were some debates already, just involving the Democratic and Republican candidates. IIRC, the Republicans had 5 candidates, and the moderator was making a valiant but vain attempt to keep order. That many candidates is very difficult to handle. But I think that if you let in Nader, it's only right to let in others, namely Buchanan (who I hate, just so you know) and Browne (and there are probably others). This is an interesting year, though the primary candidates are very un-interesting (IMHO).

The electricians are apparently going to take quite a while to get the three new 30A plugs in. They managed to do the conduit for one of the plugs yesterday. That's about it. Oh well, we plugged our Sun E425R into some regular jacks for the time being. Still crunching Seti@home packets instead of serving an Oracle DB. We still don't know when that will happen. We don't know what tools will be used in the database project, so the Oracle people won't come and install the db. I have to help research Java development environments. Oh fun.

Finally moved some data over and started using my 60 GB drive. I'm not sure how well ReiserFS is doing it's job, but the drive is extremely quiet. Nice. At work, I'm still torturing myself with an 800x600 display. I think this is part of the reason why I'm having trouble getting work done -- I can't get enough stuff on the screen at once to see what I'm doing.

Enough rambling. Time to do some work.

Saturday, August 12, 2000

Advogato Entry 25

Early/Late

pcburns: A `whois 202.106.155.162@whois.apnic.net' indicates your scans came from the Beijing Province in China. Of course, they appear to be using the Internet Security Scanner, which is pretty silly, IMHO. ISS is messy and leaves a lot of tracks. However, it is good for doing security audits on your own systems.

More fun whois tricks: Add the line

198.41.0.8      whois.crsnic.net

to your /etc/hosts file, and you'll be able to look up whois entries without going to a webpage or using jwhois or whatever.

Late Morning

raph: I just have to say that the best solution I've seen to the problem of lack of reimbursement is by being involved in open source through an umbrella organization. You probably know everything I'm going to say, but I'm just going through the motions of writing down my thoughts on the subject...

This is probably easiest in the US Government(!), as much of the `intellectual property' created by the government is placed into the public domain. Beowulf really got its start this way, and there are plenty of other projects going on that involve the government that are or could be open source. Also, I'm not sure how many gov't employees have actually asked to make their projects open source..

Another place where this can work is when your work is funded by a university, though they seem to have that nasty habit of wanting to copyright it like ``Copyright the Regents of <university name here>.'' This is (at least partly) how the TeX/METAFONT fonts were funded and made.

And, obviously, you can do some work by working for some sort of business. OctobrX, Raster, and others are employed by Linux businesses, and they release a lot of graphics. I guess I haven't checked to see what sorts of licenses they want with them, but they don't really ask for any extra compensation, as they are already getting paid. Then again, I shouldn't attempt to put words in their mouths...

Advogato Entry 26

Early/Late

Well, I actually got out of the apartment today. Went `guy-shopping' with a friend of mine. To the computer shop (my friend needed a replacement 3" fan) and up to Best Buy. I got some music. Would have gotten more, but I'm always scared that I'll get crappy music. I suppose I can exercise the availability of Napster (et al) a little bit more..

This flap over Lieberman as V.P. nominee is confusing to me. I guess it'd be a bigger deal to me if I was Jewish, but I could really care less. The only interesting aspect of it is how it may affect US involvement in any Mid-East peace deals. Besides, Nader has a woman as his Veep nominee. She's a Native American -- Mississippi Band of the White Earth Anishinaabeg. Beat that with a stick.

As for open source stuff, I think I need to take a look at RIMPS and any other decent music playlist software. I need to set up something for my system that makes it easier to find music in my expanding collection (though I can't say I have many many gigabytes of it yet, though I now have the available disk space to start doing so). I did make a simple attempt of my own with PHP and MySQL, though I haven't really played with it for a few months..

Monday, August 14, 2000

Advogato Entry 27

Afternoon

Note to self: Learn how multicast works, and why my boxen will pick up all of the multicast data from a Ghost session when they aren't running Ghost clients. I'm not exactly sure how much extraneous data is getting pumped into my boxes right now, but the disk on my Debian box sure filled up quick by logging all of it. Debian has some pretty tight rules when it comes to firewalling, and they seem a little too tight right now...

I think I finally figured out why my NT box was so slow -- it was compressing all of the files on the hard disk. That would explain why the Cygwin installation took several hours...

Evening

I agreed to come into work early (~7:00 AM) to let the electricians into the server room. Oh fun. Better get to sleep soon if I have any chance of getting up in time.

I'm annoyed with myself for not getting into programming as much as I'd like. I'm not a whiz at it, but I'm not exactly a blockhead about it either. Oh well, I'll be taking some CSci classes starting next month, so maybe I'll become inspired..

Maybe.

I guess part of my problem is that there are so many different things that I'm interested in, and I can't focus on a single one very well. I spend a lot of time reading about this, that, and the other. Hours of my day are spend on news sites (both Computer news and Real Life news). I guess I just have to become less interested in the outside world and more interested in my local world, or something.

A girlfriend would help with that. I think. It's not like I have a lot of experience in that area... Blah.

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Advogato Entry 28

Morning

Well, it wasn't so bad getting to work at 7:00, though it's fairly surprising how many people are alive pre-7:00. Morning people. Ugh.

I tried to install Win2K on a P133/64MB. It didn't work. Er, actually, it's been hung on the startup screen for the past 18 hours or so.

One of the things that really annoys me about the lack of Linux support among (some) hardware vendors is the fact that many of their engineers probably run Linux at work or at home. You'd think they'd have an incentive to produce Linux drivers. Either that, or Linux is not as popular in the technical community as I thought.

Regardless, Linux and *BSD are quite popular with the college crowd. Even Michael Dell knows that -- he says that nearly 15 percent of the user base at places like UNC is running Linux (though I don't know if I should quote Michael Dell for such numbers). I know that there are a lot of people who run it here at UMN, though there have been problems (security is an issue, as the U's networks are scanned pretty frequently).

Which reminds me -- I still have to figure out how to tell the admin for my apartment's network that it listens to broadcast ICMP echo-requests. Every day, I get those packets. It's annoying. Especially since whoever is doing it obviously doesn't know what he's doing. Sending 1 packet every 30 seconds.. Hello? What are you doing? Trying to smurf from a 14.4k modem? Sheesh. (BTW - I've asked my building management about this already, they don't want to give out the information about how to contact my admin, as they have to pay extra when someone gets called in. Perhaps I should tell them that the network has been used to (attempt to) DoS Yahoo!, among others..)

Afternoon

nymia: Did you actually mean WinMe? You can still use bash, can't you?

mrorganic: I'm guessing you either have a crappy video card or are using it in framebuffer mode? If you want performance, you need to let X access the hardware directly, and don't use the FBDev X server.

In the long run, I expect the framebuffer to be the `right' way to display things, but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of effort being put into making it usable (but maybe I just don't pay much attention). The Accelerated Framebuffer Library apparently hasn't been updated since last year..

In other news, I'm listening to the Gnome Press Conference right now.. (er, well, I was until just a second ago.. RealPlayer sucks..)

More Afternoon

nymia: I'm not sure if NT (which W2K is based on) ever had a DOS shell. It has something similar -- CMD.EXE, based upon CMD.EXE from OS/2.

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Advogato Entry 29

Morning

I've always wondered if someone `famous' used Linux. Someone you'd know from TV or movies.

Also, I wonder why women don't seem to get into Linux or `the community'. Girls are usually a lot more social than guys, so it would seem that this is a really screwed up world we all live in. Then again, the girls I know are highly susceptible to gossip, which can easily destroy social circles..

Hmm. I used `girls' instead of `women'. Blah, I'm not feeling PC today.

Anyway, I'm currently trying to do some wacky NFS sharing that is going to involve mounting loopback filesystems and other weird nonsense. There's probably another solution which is easier, but I haven't found that one yet.

Evening

Well, the loopback filesystem trick actually works (the problem was that the disk being shared didn't have enough space left, and it was supposed to be pretty much an exact mirror of another system. Symlinks to another filesystem don't work all that well with NFS, but maybe I could have still found a way..). Never thought I'd find a real use for loopback devices (other than viewing ISOs that haven't been burned and whatnot..). Then again, I guess a loopback fs is an important part of those bootable business cards, among other things.

Spent much of the afternoon mucking with TCP Wrappers on Solaris. Some of the daemons just don't want to run from tcpd.. Annoying..

I see that there are versions of tcpd that support IPv6. Might be fun to play with.. I've been interested in IPv6 for a long time, but it's only now really getting any use on the Internet at large. Debian 2.2 supports it though. Hopefully it will finally start to displace IPv4.

Kind of along the lines of why we need IPv6, I'm always scared by the DSL and Cable modem setups where you essentially get 25% efficiency WRT addresses. The lower number is the network number, the higher is the broadcast. The two left over are gateway and client IP. Scary..

And this brings me to a question I've had for a long time -- is there a system for NAT in IPv6? Ideally, this won't be necessary, but we all know that the service providers will only want to give you a single address if at all possible, meaning that they can bilk you for cash if you want more than one computer on your connection..

Annoying companies..

Late

It's raining, and I'm getting interested in how Free Software can be used to distribute weather information. There's a system called EMWIN that I've looked at before, but I don't have the time/money/hardware to play with it. The best way to get info right now is probably to have a satellite downlink. They have a moderately powerful transmitter up there, so the dishes only have to be 2-3 ft in diameter. Not as small as the digital satellite TV dishes, but not exactly huge.

The important thing is that you can get real-time or at least close-to-real-time data, which is often better than what you can say for most of the current Internet sources. With EMWIN, you can get notified of watches and warnings at the same time as or earlier than your local TV and radio stations. Weatherguys.com is largely powered by EMWIN data.

At any rate, I have been wondering if the National Weather Service will make at least some radar data publically available on the Internet after some contracts expire at the end of next month. It looks like they have defined the layout for how things will be on their FTP server. This sort of thing is a prime candidate for mirroring and multicasting.

Thursday, August 17, 2000

Advogato Entry 30

Noonish

gtaylor: I've actually been using METAR data as the source for weather info on my home page for quite a while using a modified METAR Perl module. The version I use is laying around on my website somewhere..

At any rate, I seem to be able to retrieve NEXRAD radar data via FTP (wget works, though interactive clients (Netscape, ncftp, etc) can't handle it for some reason). I went looking around and found that the good folks at Goddard Space Flight Center have made some software available (much of it is GPLed) that can render radar data. Still working out some bugs..

In this process, I discovered that my fairly new ReiserFS /usr partition had been (slightly) corrupted. /usr/src/linux/include/asm/param.h had suddenly turned into a binary file, and all attempts to remove it would produce kernel panics and deadlocked processes. Fun. Even better -- reiserfsck wouldn't compile on my system (signal 11). Oh fun. Fortunately, I got it to compile on another box, and ran reiserfsck --rebuild-tree, which scared me a lot with it's warnings of it only being a beta-quality option.

In the end, it appears that all has turned out well, though I think there are a few files missing from that partition (param.h, for example). At some point, I'll have to try and run a RPM verify job, make sure that there aren't huge problems..

Anyway, I'll have to do some debugging with the radar package I downloaded. I think I may be missing a package. Shouldn't configure catch that?

Friday, August 18, 2000

Advogato Entry 31

Early/Late

I shouldn't have, but I wrote something to Fred Moody. Cripes. The guy has `sources' that span a continent of hatreds. NT guys that hate Linux. BSD guys that hate Linux. Security guys that say having source code is a risk. Guys that say having source is a good thing. He has managed to make just about the most self-contradictory article ever. Is he insane? Well, I wouldn't blame him for going a little nuts after having to read what many /. trolls sent him, but this goes above and beyond...

Anyway, I shouldn't waste my diary entry on that.

schoen: Yeah, I felt pretty much like that. Didn't get much work done today after seeing that. I was hoping for a good outcome, but the judge couldn't or wouldn't try to test the Constitutionality of it. It'll pretty much go to the Supremes whether we like it or not. Hopefully, the MPAA won't try to completely stall the case (though I expect they will).

On the radar data front, I have been slowly digging up information about data formats. There's a bit here and here. I'm not sure if the data available over FTP is currently being encrypted or not. Apparently, they have designated times when it is not encrypted to facilitate testing of software. The encryption will be removed once everyone is able to receive over FTP or some sort of multicast. There's an older system called NIDS that has to be phased out before everything can be publically available.. Kind of strange. The RSL system apparently can't decode the products that NOAA is currently releasing, and I don't know if it ever will -- it seems to understand a more raw form of data.

Anyway, I hope I'll be able to find some software to decode the stuff that will be available over FTP. Either that, or I'll just have to keep hunting for decent documentation about the file formats...

Afternoon

Grr. I wish Mapquest had an option for making biker-friendly maps and directions. It should basically ignore interstate highways (which are illegal to bike on, unless you have a permit or something), and add bike trails.

I want to go see The Cell tonight. I am still pissed about the MPAA-DeCSS debacle, but I'm in need of some mind-bending.

Saturday, August 19, 2000

Advogato Entry 32

Morning

I ended up riding my bike out to a theater in a nearby suburb in order to watch The Cell. It was both cool and not. Like with many movies, I'd already seen many of the best visuals in the ads, which was disappointing. Also, you could tell that Jennifer Lopez was trying to hide her accent, which was just annoying..

I remember that I had read too many reviews of The Matrix before seeing it, which spoiled much of the experience. It was still a cool movie, but I wasn't as surprised by what happened as everyone else was.

Seen on the web: LAPD Harassed Philly Mayor's Aide. ``We don't treat our guests in Philadelphia this way,'' the Mayor said. A lot of people would disagree.

I'm wondering if/when Kuro5hin will be resurrected. It was an interesting site.

There are a lot of different methods for distributing news and information popping up on the Internet. You have the traditional media, where the editors tell reporters what to do. You have places like Slashdot, where individuals tell editors about interesting things they've seen. Then there are places like Kuro5hin, where news is moderated before being released to everyone. Advogato requires a certain level of trust for people to be able to post news. The Independent Media Centers largely have an open policy where basically anyone can post.

In my opinion, a combination of these techniques is required. Certain reporters could gain trust and basically post whatever they want. People who are less trusted probably need to go through at least a thin layer of moderation and filtering. Perhaps everything should go through a kuro5hin-style moderation. Then again, it may be hard for the trust levels to work appropriately. For instance, if you have a general news site that suddenly starts getting input from a well-known reporter from a well-known newspaper, would they instantly become trusted and able to post anything? I suppose it depends on the audience.

If the readers get much of their news from corporate media outlets, they'd probably mark the reporter much higer than if the readers were more interested in the independent media.

Just some random thoughts..

Monday, August 21, 2000

Advogato Entry 33

Afternoon

Went home for a little bit. Tried to go to an `all-school' reunion, which was really dull as I was probably the youngest person there (most people there graduated in the 50's, 60's and 70's, I think). Oh well, got some decent food.

We have this research box at work. I was told that it was for `fraud detection', which I thought meant that it was some sort of honeypot box for detecting crackers (or at least script kiddies). I completely forgot that there is such a thing as financial fraud, which is what the box is for. Makes sense, as the box is in the business school.

Anyway, the main guy that actually uses this box for doing research is apparently back from summer vacation or something. He tried accessing it, but couldn't because there is a rule somewhere on one of our routers blocking that IP (I get `!X's when doing traceroutes from the box). Of course, nobody wants to take the blame/responsibility for it, and I couldn't get the block removed (well, the main networking people said it wasn't their problem, and the guys here say that they didn't do anything either). Changed the IP address, and now we have to see if the DNS entry can be changed..

I hope I will be able to do some more fiddling with radar data, though I don't know if I will be able to do anything this week (Marching Band starts on Thursday), and I don't even know what their schedule is for producing unencrypted data. I might just have to wait until the end of next month.

Evening

Well, it turns out that the central networking people foobared -- they actually were blocking the above-mentioned system. I guess it got broken into a month ago. I'll have to see if I can pull down a [rd]ecent Linux ISO of some kind to do a reinstall. Maybe Mandrake..

I had to try and figure out how to back up the system in a reasonable manner. tar is supposed to support running over some sort of remote shell, but none of the commands I tried would work. In theory, you should be able to do something like `tar cvIf user@host:/path/to/archive.tar.bz2 /path/to/archive', which would be really cool, IMHO.

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Advogato Entry 34

Morning

Wow claudio. That's kind of a scary picture. I'm not exactly sure what kind I am. I try to avoid non-free software (Netscape is my big exception right now), I like point-and-click, though I understand (and use) the power of the command line (well, don't forget the fact that all graphical file managers for Linux are currently crap). I'm running bash2, and I'm a .tar.gz or .tar.bz2 person.

As for my xterms, I run with reverse-video white on black, and with ls aliased to ls --color=tty -F. I've also hacked up my own /etc/DIR_COLORS file. I remember some point a year or so ago when someone jokingly made `ls.themes.org'. I thought that was a great idea ;-)

In the area of documentation, I like it when programs are completely intuitive, or if they at least have some decent usage information when started with --help. However, I hate it when I want to look at the more advanced parts of programs, but I can't because of inadequate docs in /usr/doc or the man pages. I also hate info pages, unless I'm viewing them through gnome-help-browser.

Anyway, I'm having all sorts of trouble with this fraud detection box. Well, that's making it sound really bad. It was actually a pretty easy install. Unfortunately, the IP address it is using has been administratively blocked on one of the routers to the outside world. Getting that fixed has been pretty difficult. I do have it running on two different IPs right now, so at least it can be accessed. However, the DNS entry doesn't point to the publically accessible address. Oh well.

Hmm. `publicly' and `publically' are both correct spellings, according to M-W..

Afternoon

krftkndl: I, too, have heard the call of `just write another one,' and rejected it. However, I think there really are enough people pissed off about the current state of text editors that they would love to do that. But I just can't help thinking that someone has already made the editor I really, really want..

In the meantime, I'm counting down the minutes until I leave today. I'm not coming into work again until school starts (~10 days). I'm going to be really busy for the next week and a half...

Late

``We will bury you,'' or something to that effect: LinuxToday links to the story. Does this mean I gotta boycott Sony? Dammit...