Friday, February 2, 2001

Advogato Entry 46

Thinking of doing a couple of hacking projects: Getting gweather to calculate Wind Chill, and also getting it to grab the latest radar images from the National Weather Service. Also, it'd be neat to get gweather to check for weather watches and warnings in the area and notify the users about it. That's one feature where I'd really like to see multicasting work on the Internet at large, since polling every 20 minutes just won't do much good when warnings pop up..

I'd also like to add font selection support to Evolution if possible and get the message composer to read named pipes for .signatures (My .sig is automatically generated ;-)

Of course, to do this, I actually have to sit down for a while and bother to look through the code. Then I have to get it to compile ;-) One of these days.

On to a completely different topic...

I'm a shy person. Some days, being shy feels like the worst curse in the world. If you're looking for a good deed to do today, strike up a conversation with a shy person that you know or that you've seen around. There's no telling what you might learn.. Then again, you could learn that person is a complete ass....

Saturday, February 3, 2001

Advogato Entry 47

I actually sat down for a bit to get gweather to do wind chill calculations, and I also used the pre-existing code to download new radar images. (some of it had been #ifdef'd out and otherwise disabled)

The most effort went into modifying the Locations database to point to the new Nexrad radar stations rather than the old call signs. If you live in the US, it would help a lot if you could go and find a good radar site for your locale...

If you want to see it work, get some patches [1] [2] and a new Locations file.

Other than that, I'll be heading out shortly to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with some friends. Hopefully it'll be entertaining for me..

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Advogato Entry 48

video. Posted on Slashdot. Top article. Over 1 GB in size. Bwahahahaaa!! That's hilarious.. I'm downloading it anyway, for some reason. Someone's getting pantsed for that...

Now I just have to figure out how to play it. They have this vlc player program that I've never heard of. It doesn't appear to display any video, though I haven't let it play very long yet. No seek bar or anything, though, which sucks. Maybe it's all a big practical joke ;-)

Thursday, February 8, 2001

Advogato Entry 49

I've been coming to the realization that my computer has not really been helping me much lately. I use my computer for reading and writing e-mail, surfing the web, and some entertainment value (screensavers, MP3s, the occasional video file). It could be so much more useful, but it doesn't seem that there is appropriate software out there...

I just started looking around for ways to start keeping track of my money -- something I'm not very good at. I do carry my Palm Pilot much of the time, so I think I just need decent program on there that can communicate with something on my desktop (GnuCash is probably the best contender for that..) I guess there's PocketMoney ($$), or PalmCoins (in development, GPL). Neither of them work directly with GnuCash, and I'm not sure if PalmCoins works with it at all.

As for documents, LyX is okay, but needs work. I suppose a lot of work is going into KLyx, but I don't like Qt widgets. I really like the idea of WYSIWYM, and I wish that idea could be applied to e-mail. If that could work, we wouldn't have so much trouble with sending HTML mail to text consoles, or sending 72-column messages to 30-column displays on handhelds... Of course, everybody is so enamored with WYSIWYG (or ASCII) that it'll probably never happen.

It would be really nice if my computer could reliably keep track of my music collection. My pile of CDs continues to grow (it's not huge yet, though that may change), and my pile of MP3s and Vorbis files is already pretty difficult to manage. Unfortunately, there isn't enough information in a simple ID3 tag to make a good database.. ID3v2 is probably overkill, and xmms doesn't know how to add ID3v2 tags. I suppose that's something I need to work on. It'd also be really cool if MP3 players (and of course, by `MP3', I mean `compressed audio') could talk to databases directly. I've been putting a little time into a PHP/MySQL interface for a while, but it hasn't really gotten anywhere, since I'd have to deal with streaming the audio. Building this stuff right into the player would make my life easier (I think).

There are a lot of areas where database integration would be really cool. I know I'm not the only one who believes that. However, it's hard to say exactly what the benefits would be. Also, there are at least a few operating systems out there that put database-like metadata directly into the filesystem (BeOS is a good example today). I don't know how easy/hard it is to add that information. I remember that OS/2's HPFS had something similar, but you had to go through and edit a lot of it by hand, which basically made it useless (of course, part of that was because I was using software like WordPerfect 5.1 that was totally unaware of Extended Attributes).

ReiserFS promises to do similar things, but I wonder how long it will be before anyone manages to make anything useful out of it (and will rudimentary programs like `cp' have to be upgraded to handle it? Will pico totally destroy extra information if I just open and re-save a file?)

I just wish I was a better coder... Practice makes perfect, I suppose.

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 50

Funny to see these two articles on top of LinuxToday: Microsoft trying to hire developers, and Jim Allchin stating that Linux threatens innovation.


Anyway, I'm lightly considering doing some work on a simple Gtk+ (and maybe Gnome too) mail app to tide me over until Evolution reaches maturity, but I really hate the idea of Yet Another MUA..

I like 3-pane mail clients like Netscape 3.x and 4.5+, but most GUI clients are missing support for PGP/GPG (I noticed that the newest RPMs for Pine have gpg support, but I pretty much avoid console clients except as a last resort). I also despise the look and feel of most graphics toolkits except for Gtk+ (though there are neat bits in some of the other toolkits).

The only reason I'm considering writing my own MUA is because it doesn't seem that it would be all that hard. If I could find the right components to use, it would be pretty easy to at least get a basic mailer. The tricky parts would probably be threading, drag-n-drop, filtering, and perhaps message writing (though I think there may have been enough work on that already).

Well, will this happen? Knowing my record at keeping up on projects, probably not.

dirtyrat: I've picked up headlines and other data to put on my homepage for a while (currently weather info and Slashdot headlines, but I used to pick up current TV listings). If you're having trouble with slow loading sites, you just have to cache the data. My scripts will update the data after they run if the data is over 20 minutes old or so. The scripts spawn lynx in the background, so the page always loads quickly (well, if the server is working right).

A better way might be to attempt to get a current page just after setting an alarm() for a few seconds down the road. If the retrieval is going slowly, the alarm will go off. Trap the alarm and used cached data instead or just give a sane error message.

Friday, February 16, 2001

Advogato Entry 51

I wonder what all is going to happen because of Mr. Allchin at Microsoft. Some people are really riled up. I got a message from my Dad that had a pointer to the article. He works at IBM -- I suspect there are a few people over there who had their jaws drop because of it..

Anyway, I'm not going to worry about it too much. It's just another example of Microsoft being downright rude..

The search for a good MUA

Well, I got a link to sylpheed, which appears to have a lot of the things I want. GPG support is apparently experimental, though I see they are using gpgme, which appears to be a Gnome/Bonobo component.. I'll have to give it a try. I also was pointed at spruce, which is apparently fast, though I wonder if it actually threads messages or not (I really like message threads for some reason..)

You're wondering why I was linked to these projects? I bashed Mozilla's mail client on Slashdot, which gave me essentially two responses: Use <insert_name_here> instead, or ``Yeah, the tree widget is slow, but we've got somebody working on it!'' Yeah, well, I'm tired of waiting.. Heck, I've wanted to encrypt my mail for about 8 years -- you'd think it would have been a little more popular by now..

A little later:

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I think it would be great if someone decided to make a generic library for doing mail retrieval/storage. Kind of like cURL, I suspect.. Balsa already has libmutt, maybe that would be a starting point.

Saturday, February 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 52

Gnome 1.4 Beta 1

``Oops, we did it again''

Worst episode ever!

Actually, I think it's really funny ;-)

Sunday, February 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 53

Got a new monitor -- it's a 17" Trinitron FD, labeled as a `'.. Whatever. Anyway, I got Xinerama working on my G400 after going to Matrox's website and getting their newest X4.0.2 drivers. Unfortunately, X now refuses to accept the `-dpi' flag, and gv and other DPI-aware apps go pretty nuts.. (The X server says the DPI is something like 135x75)

Anyway, there are plenty of goofy things with Xinerama. Many Gnome dialogs like to pop up in the middle of the whole desktop, riding the `crack' between the two monitors. XPlanet doesn't work right, and Gnome can't set the background properly (I'm just using a random Propaganda tile right now). I also can't set gamma correction on the second head, and DPMS only works on the first head.

Strangely, this new monitor apparently doesn't talk VESA DDC, though that's not surprising considering that it was pretty cheap, at least for a flat 17" Trinitron ($249 at Best Buy).

Monday, February 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 54

Almost Noon

A new day, sort of.

Got up and went to my CSci class -- class was canceled, but I still had to hand in my (unfortunately unfinished) homework. Oh well. Went to work for a while this morning, then went to my next class, where an exam was dropped on me. I guess I should have picked up a syllabus when I had a chance...

Anyway, I'm back at work. Right now, I'm looking for a piece of clip-art or a picture of a broken monitor (preferably smashed to bits and smoking or burning). I want to use it as the banner on a Netsaint box I'm building (the hostname will be `monitor', so I figure it's fitting). Unfortunately, I suspect my search will be fruitless..


Having some trouble getting OpenSSL and OpenSSH to compile/install properly on the servers here at work. The really new versions are not wanting to compile on some of the older OSes we have laying around (RH 5.2, some random incantations of Solaris). Oh well, just drop back a rev, I guess.. Those systems should probably be upgraded anyway (at least the Linux boxen).

The networking folks are going to run a vulnerability check on our servers sometime this week, and I'd like to be sure that they're zipped up as tight as possible.

On a completely different note: Girls suck. Sorta. Kinda. Well, okay, I'd be happy to make a different opinion if I could just figure out how to talk to them. blarg..

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 55

Having some strange problems with Xinerama. The background does not want to wrap properly. Each screen starts the image over again at (0,0), so I can't set up the backgrounds like I want. However, aterm seems to pick up how the background is supposed to be, resulting in an interesting screenshot (3.2MB PNG). Note that I set the background shading at 90% of full brightness, which is not what I usually have -- it's just for demonstrating what's going on..

Anyway, I'm not exactly sure what to do about it. This is what happens when Gnome or XPlanet sets the background. (it's really annoying, because I like using XPlanet for my background..)

My incantation of X4.0.2 with Xinerama and the Matrox drivers also seems to leak memory pretty badly. I'm still trying to track down from a user perspective if there's anything that triggers it, or if it just happens on it's own. Also, I always have a nagging feeling that the kernel gets confused by the fact that the video card has 32MB of RAM on it that are mapped by the X server (actually, the X server has allocated 40MB from that 32 -- one 24 meg window, with two 8MB windows at the same location..)

Figuring out how much memory X is actually using is always difficult. The Resident Set Size is something like 85MB, which would seem about right if you take out the 40MB allocated to the video card. Unfortunately, the Resident Memory Size is something like 130MB, which I just don't understand..

Oh well, maybe I'll pull down a new version of X from CVS and see if I can compile it properly..

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 56

Well, looks like the Matrox G400 hardware doesn't support some nice things like Gamma correction on the second head. I wonder if it's worth it to go out and get a G450.. I suspect I'll go like this for a while. If it gets really annoying, I'll consider it, but until then, I need to beef up my cash reserves again.

Oh yeah, I should probably open another savings account so my money in checking doesn't just sit there collecting dust but no interest.. Considering the recent downturn in stocks, it might be worthwhile to invest sometime soon (on the theory that what goes down must come up, which is not as safe an assumption as the other way around).

For work, I'm digging around a bit to find out what to do about X11 connectivity to Windows desktops.. Looks like the development versions of PuTTY actually support X11 forwarding, so I'll be happy when the next release rolls around. The users at work have been running Reflection X, which is a little overpowered for what they need to do. Users just want to connect, run their program, see the fancy graphics pop up, fiddle around, and quit. Reflection X seems to insist upon making a huge event out of logging in. I much prefer the behavior of Exceed, which you start up before connecting to a remote system. It's also `transparent,' where you can still see the rest of the desktop. There's also no need to run an extra window manager -- it just puts X windows in Windows windows. Provided the $DISPLAY variable is set right, you can just run programs and have them pop up. I just wonder if it's a decent price..


Suddenly, I'm thinking like Q from Star Trek:TNG -- ``Just change the gravitational constant of the universe!''

I've been playing around with GnuPG some more. I still don't have a mail client that I like where I can use GPG, but at work I've been using Pine, which has decent support. Anyway, I'm wondering if the public will ever start using crypto. GPG seems to work pretty well, even downloading new keys (if they are available) on demand. Of course, they need to have been uploaded to a keyserver first.. If Mozilla could have support for GPG, that would help things move along quite a bit.. Of course, it would be cool if there was a GPG plugin or something for MS Outlook, but that's almost a contradiction in terms...

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Advogato Entry 57

Ahh. Downloaded and compiled Linux 2.4.2 last night. Finally booted it up. The first time I started the system, it didn't work -- I've had trouble with IDE DMA on my system. Fortunately, I had a plan of attack. I run a K6-2/350 at 392 MHz -- bus speed of 112MHz, and a 3.5x multiplier. I'd probably try to bump it up even higher, but I'm already pushing a PC100 DIMM in my box. Anyway, I think the problem I had been having was that the kernel driver for my IDE chipset was assuming that things were running along at 33MHz, when they were in fact running a little faster than that at 37MHz (well, I think -- 112/3 = 37.333...) Just pass `idebus=37' to the kernel when booting, and everything works great. I can untar/bz2 whole kernels without huge I/O overhead once again! Actually, the main benefit of that is that my music doesn't skip ;-)

The whole mess had been broken back when I installed a new PC133 DIMM in my computer (replacing a sub-PC100 10ns DIMM) and decided to fiddle with the system clock. I had tried 400MHz, though I had run into trouble (probably with this same thing -- I probably could have just passed a different idebus parameter to get it to work, but I only figured this out today).

Pretty amazing that these POS computers we all have can have so many parts that run at so many different speeds without usually causing too many headaches. Then again, maybe that's why many boxes do mysterious things..

Sunday, February 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 58

I'm becoming ill. This sucks. Headache and sore throat, mostly, so it's not entirely obvious to other people. I wouldn't really mind, but I have an exam tomorrow (which I have not studied much for yet).

Oh well, I'll just have to try and clean myself up and see if I feel any better..


N*Sync on The Simpsons? Oh, how Matt Groenig has fallen...

Even later

Oo! Lone Gunmen premieres next week! Hopefully it will be entertaining.

Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Advogato Entry 59

Well, in addition to reading Slashdot and LinuxToday to get a lot of my news, I've recently been occasionally visiting Yahoo's most e-mailed and most viewed content pages. Those pages bring up some pretty interesting articles (and a lot of pictures that border on porn, but that's okay ;-)