Tuesday, January 1, 2002

Advogato Entry 241

I usually don't make resolutions, but I have two things that I'd really like to have happen this year. First, I hope that I get a girlfriend. That's actually a perennial one... Second, I need to do something about this slowly growing gut..

I hope to be heading back to my apartment tomorrow. Looks like my Mom might insist that my brother come along..

Thursday, January 3, 2002

Advogato Entry 242

Finally plunked down cash for a new Dell laptop. I've described it before, so no sense doing it again.

Been running some errands today. Bought one of those fire-resistant safes for my documents. I thought I could put my backup tapes in there too, but the box isn't rated for that. I suppose I could still put them in there, but they'll probably melt if I ever burn something down by accident. Oh well. I'll probably get another safe for tapes and other electronic media in a year or so.

Anyway, the safe isn't really for protecting anything, it's just a big gray box that I can dump important things in, and not forget where they are..

Touched up a drawing I made of Sarah.. It finally looks like her ;-) I've never done much drawing -- always got frustrated with it. Even with this, it was basically just copying a photo I had.. Sure took a long time. Just like hacking/cracking is highly accelerated on TV and in movies, I guess the same must be true for artistry.. Of course, there are exceptionally fast folks out there, but I bet most painters take a long time to get things right.. Also, when it comes to a face, that's really hard anyway.

It might have been a bad idea for me to make the drawing, though.. Oh well.. I should be able to find other things to keep me occupied soon..

Friday, January 4, 2002

Advogato Entry 243

Haven't had much to do today. I suppose that I should be trying to do some programming now that I'm back to my apartment and computer. Well, I have school crap to deal with because of my grades, too...

Watched a lot of TV. Sad part was that the most interesting thing on for a lot of the time was junk on MTV & VH1. I guess I became somewhat intrigued by some rap/hip-hop stuff after watching Frontline's ``LAPD Blues'' report on PBS last night. Very interesting story about how some gangstas managed to get onto the police force. They had links to the hip-hop scene, the drug trade, and one of them may have even been the triggerman who gunned down Notorious B.I.G.

Finally remembered to send in my check to the local PBS station today ;-)

Anyway, after seeing a ``Best of'' episode of Cribs today, I'm just wondering if some geeky celebrity will ever show off their server room on the show :-)

The stuff on that show is so over-the-top, I'm already laughing my ass off knowing that some of those guys are going to crash hard in the coming years.

Saturday, January 5, 2002

Advogato Entry 244


Usually you're a man of few words, but today you open up, especially in expressing love. Common interests have resulted in a powerful romantic bond, and today you want your beloved to know how you feel. However, your natural restraint should serve you well. Even though your friend reciprocates your feelings, you don't want to come on too strong. Be sincere, but maintain a safe distance.

Sunday, January 6, 2002

Advogato Entry 245


I feel like I'm out of alignment with the universe. There's an ad on American TV these days -- I think it's for a trading firm -- where a guy goes through his day, but all of his actions are delayed by a few seconds. The same thing basically happens to me, though it's a lot less obvious.

I wish I had the knowledge and tools I needed to fix it, but how can I possibly figure out how the right time to do that?

Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Advogato Entry 246

Finally got our Cyclades 8-port serial terminal server (TS800) working at work. I think, unfortunately, it was all a simple matter of having the ports numbered in the opposite direction on the front as on the back. I'd noticed this on my ethernet switch a month ago..

              8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
             |               |
             |               |
              1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

That seems so dumb.. I never think of rotating the thing 180° -- I figured that the lights on the front would directly correspond to the ports on the back.

Sheesh, this box should have been working months ago..

Anyway, I figured it out because we finally got some RJ45<->DB9 and RJ45<->DB25 adapters, though I have to wire them up myself. Discovered that the cables that work are not normal null-modem/crossover cables. They're similar, but they don't use the `standard' cabling. I'm not sure why it works. At any rate, I built an adapter that is wired like the cable that works, and another wired like how Cyclades says things should work. I hope at least one of them works, but if they both work, I'm not sure what to do..

I wish serial crossover was like ethernet crossover, where you don't have to splice any wires together..

Looks like Dell shipped my order yesterday (probably around midnight or something), four days earlier than they estimated. I guess they have some leeway in their estimates. Of course, the annoying thing is that it'll probably get to Minneapolis on Friday or Saturday, meaning that it can't get delivered until Monday.

Sarah and Josh went up north to visit her family. They'll be back Thursday, but that probably won't make me feel any better.

Need to find out when the CSci advisor is available... Crappy grades..

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Advogato Entry 247

Strange. Mozilla was jumping down a page whenever I pressed the spacebar when I tried to write earlier... Lotus Notes seems to cause Mozilla to have some funky behaviors..

Registered for two classes. One is a class I took before, got a D in it, so it didn't count. The other is a writing-intensive course (meaning that I have to write a few pages of stuff per week, generally) -- Ethical and Legal Issues in Computing. I need to get a new printer. Smeary bubblejet gunk just isn't going to cut it -- I think I need a laser. Dammit, those actually cost money.

I contacted the professor teaching a real-time systems course, as I need approval to take the class. I guess he has some lab stations set up with PlayStations, PCs, some input devices, and even `active' chairs for force-feedback of a sort. I don't know if the professor will let me in, and I know it would be challenging as I've never done such low-level programming before.

I'm on waiting lists for a few other classes. So damn close to graduating, but I won't be able to fit it all in this semester. I'd have to take 6 courses -- all Computer Science! Talk about a death wish.. Stupid classes are only worth 3 credits.

I talked to the undergraduate advisor about my problems, saying that I couldn't understand the professor in class. I think he believed that I couldn't comprehend the subject matter that was being taught, and told me that I should visit more office hours. But, I meant what I said -- I can't understand my professors a lot of the time. Excuse me for thinking that my professors should speak English.

I guess I should have tried to go to a smaller school. I think there are generally more Americans teaching in them.. But what do I know?

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 248

Not getting much work done today -- spending time playing with my new laptop. It hasn't booted Windows, as I stuck a Debian testing install CD in right away. What annoying hardware on laptops! Stupid i810 AC97 audio driver is crap (I guess I have to play with ALSA to get it to behave). The ATI Radeon chipset it has isn't yet supported in XFree86 4.x (though I hear it's supported in the CVS version, and 4.2 should handle it). I haven't been able to get AGP working, and I'm sure I totally horked something when I installed the box.

Oh well, at least there's something on the hard drive that boots and comes up with X (though in unaccelerated VESA mode).

I had problems after installing because I immediately went to the 2.4.16/17 kernel, which would die after a few minutes when an APM BIOS event of some sort occurred (ie, telling the system that a fan had spun up). Thankfully, someone else had run into the problem before, and I borrowed their kernel .config and built a new kernel..

I guess I thought the laptop had a firewire port on it, but I don't see one. The Linux APM driver apparently doesn't report the battery level, though it may be confused since I have two batteries installed at the moment.. (Hmm.. let me check -- yep! as soon as I take out the second battery, APM tools start working properly).

Networking is going to be an interesting challenge, though I suspect I'll try to rig up something where the system checks for a change in link status on the ethernet jack. Just plug in a cable, and get a DHCP client going automatically (someone *must* have done that already)

Anyway, having fun playing. I should really get back to work, though...


Got ALSA working, though that's going to turn into yet another thing to compile whenever I want to do a kernel upgrade.. I'm glad folks are planning to include it in the base kernel in 2.5/2.6 (or whatever). The sound card is a crappy AC97 thing that only understands 48000Hz sound. Funky. That wouldn't be too bad if most stuff was encoded at 48000Hz, but most stuff (save for DVDs) are 44100Hz. *sigh*

As I expected, once the net battery charge on my two batteries went down to 50%, the kernel APM driver saw a 100% charge, and started working it's way down. Strange that when I remove the primary battery, things break again, but when I remove the second battery, the APM driver reports the actual charge on the primary battery.. Weird..

Tried playing with hibernation a bit. I want to get suspend-to-disk working, mostly just for the hell of it. The system boots up in 35 seconds as it is, so it's not a huge deal. Also, the system already goes into a near-hibernation state when I do a normal suspend. The lights all turn off after a few seconds, so you don't even know it's suspended. If that's just a suspend-to-RAM deal, I think it's bad... Someone could close their laptop, forget about it, and have the battery slowly drain away...

Friday, January 11, 2002

Advogato Entry 249


#!/usr/bin/expect -f
eval spawn ./mii-diag --watch eth0
while {1} {
  expect {
    "Good link" {
      system /sbin/ifup eth0
    "have link beat" {
      system /sbin/ifup eth0
    "no link" {
      system /sbin/ifdown eth0
    "not established" {
      system /sbin/ifdown eth0

Saturday, January 12, 2002

Advogato Entry 250

Wrote up some of my experiences so far in getting Linux going on my laptop, and submitted it to the linux-laptop folks.

Discovered the other day that APIC was the problem on my computer, causing it to hang when an APM event of some kind happened.

I want to get out of the apartment. I need to buy some more pop and get some RJ45 connectors so I can build a good Ethernet cable. There are probably tons of other things I should do, too. I'd like to pick up a wireless PC card, but I don't think there are any good deals on those around here (too bad my main source of stuff is either Tran Micro or Best Buy.. I'd go out and get the stuff, but my nerves are shot.

Last night, Josh's friend Teresa came over, and we all watched Pay It Forward. A decent movie, but that's not why I'm talking about it. Teresa had complained about her roommate bringing her boyfriend overnight recently. I didn't say anything, but Josh and Sarah have been staying overnight a lot over break.

This morning, Josh asked me if it bugged me when Sarah was around so much. I couldn't really give a good answer. I thought about it a bit, and sent him an e-mail telling him that it is kind of hard having her around. I'm jealous that they could be having such a great time together. Meanwhile, I feel like I'm alone in the apartment, so it's really weird when she's around, but I can't get to know her since she's in the other room or something (and then promptly exits the room when I come in).

Anyway, Josh asked me about this when he got back from work. Should she spend less time here? No.. Do you want want to get to know her better? Um, er. Uh. Yeah. But, you know.. Uh. Only if.. Hmm..

So, I don't know what's going on. I'm going nuts. Sarah's not around now, and I don't know how much I'll be around over the next few days.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Advogato Entry 251

Just saw "The Royal Tenenbaums" with my family. It was a very weird movie, and it involved some pretty dark feelings. Still, it was pretty funny, and I'm glad I saw it. We went to the new theater in town that has nice stadium seating. Heck, the picture was even in focus!

Decided to put my more private stuff in a plaintext file on my laptop. No need to clutter up these pages with the junk in my head.

Compiled a new kernel for my laptop with VESA framebuffer support, but it doesn't seem to work right.. A mode that had worked in a previous incantation of the 2.4.17 kernel no longer works. Strange. At any rate, nobody knows the value to put in for 1600x1200 anyway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Advogato Entry 252

Got a wireless card for my laptop today. Cisco Aironet 340 from work. Looks like it doesn't support WEP at all, though iwlist seems to report that it handles 64- and 104-bit encryption. Strange.

Trying to figure out how to get the winmodem in my laptop working. Not that I need it now, but it'd be great to finally have a backup for when our building's network goes down. It appears to be a PCTel 2304 MDC modem (PCI), but the pctel drivers don't appear to work -- they look like they're for ISA PnP winmodems. `lspci -vv' reports that there's a subsystem of a Conexant unknown device 0x5421.

Oh well, I have ethernet almost everywhere anyway, so it doesn't matter too much if I get this to work.. It'd just be kind of cool. I think that's the last piece of non-working hardware on this box. (Hmm.. not exactly.. I still need to figure out how to get the video drivers working completely right..)

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Advogato Entry 253

Ahh.. Feeling much better today. Turns out that the F I got was due to a missing grade on a paper I did. The professor still had the paper, so he recalculated my grade. B+


We also finally got the wireless network converted over to the system I invented.. It's pretty cheesy, but it works. It restricts traffic to people who have a University x.500 ID, though nothing gets encrypted or anything yet.

I chatted with Sarah online the other day, and things kind of tumbled out (well, she sort of asked). Logically, I know things can't work out the way I want them to, but hopefully we'll be able to talk about it and find some happy medium.

So, it's not the best day of my life, but I'm definitely feeling a thousand times better than I was just a few days ago.

Friday, January 18, 2002

Advogato Entry 254

Oh right.. Things could just work that well for me. Sheesh. Maybe I just need to be patient, but I've been patient for years and years.. It's gone on long enough.


Trying to compile a FreeS/WAN kernel on my laptop. Not sure if the modules and stuff are actually being built -- the kernel configurator didn't seem to have any FreeS/WAN-related options when I ran make-kpkg. I'm not sure if the kernel got patched or not..

Anyway, to be of any use, I'll probably have to compile that into the firewall as well. Hmm..

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Advogato Entry 255

Downloaded and compiled XFree86 4.1.blah from CVS yesterday, though I haven't bothered trying to install it. I knew I had to pull it out of CVS -- I fully expected the release ;-) Now I just have to wait for someone to put together a Debian package.

I've packaged things before, at least with RPMs (haven't done much with DEBs yet, though). X is a very big beast, though, and not something that's all that easy to do..

Anyway, hopefully unstable will get some packages built soon. It'll be cool to have accelerated drivers working on my laptop.

Called Sarah around noon. I guess she had a slow day. She was expecting to babysit and have her sister visit, but the babysitting gig fell through and her niece got sick, so her sister didn't come today.

She's been taking care of her dog, who is on his last legs, so I suppose it was good I called.. Still, I'm at an uncomfortable point in my friendship with her. I just hope it passes and everything straightens out.

Well, it should, as long as we can keep talking to each other.

School starts on Tuesday. I think I'm going to be very lazy this weekend.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Advogato Entry 256

Still playing with my laptop, setting it up to have a cool desktop. I really like how it's set up, I figure I'll manage to pull off some Linux advocacy with it ;-)

Watching Ranma 1/2 with my roommates. Being lazy today.

Monday, January 21, 2002

Advogato Entry 257

Well, I still haven't installed X 4.2.0 on my laptop. It's compiled, but I don't want to install it and toast my current packaging setup. I'd really like to see some .debs soon, but I don't know where to look for those..

Classes start tomorrow. I have to be somewhere at 8:15, and I need to look up where to go for some of the classes that I'm on waiting lists for.. It's going to be a looong day tomorrow..

Anyway, I've learned quite a lot in the last week about Sarah and me. I've written a bunch of stuff in a private diary about the junk going through my head. There's a lot of it that is just junk, but I hope it helped me figure things out.

I talked about stuff with my roommate and I hope I've found why I find her so interesting. I identify with her a lot -- we're both fairly similar emotionally, and I know what it's like for her when she just isn't feeling `worthy.' I don't know what needs to be done for either of us to get us out of those emotional holes sometimes, but I might be in a better position to help than the other people she knows.

We also have some strangely similar tastes in food and other things, but I suppose that might just be random.. We're also the only two people that hang around the apartment that like to say `pop' instead of `soda,' so it's kind of funny to have us stand against everyone else ;-)

At any rate, my roommate thinks that Sarah and I have an interesting ability to communicate. Well, she is someone who actually gets me to step away from the computer for a minute. I guess I'm not really sure what to think about that.

I actually mentioned some stuff to Sarah.. I told her that I wished I had a girlfriend like her. I'm not really sure what she thought of that -- of all things, I had to tell her over AIM.. Anyway, she told me that she was sure I'd find someone, someone smarter than her :-)

That was kind of funny, since that's the only real thing I don't like about her.. I was just surprised that she mentioned it..

Anyway, I slowly beginning to understand us, figuring out what I want, and what I can and can't have in the end.. We can be friends, and I'm sure we can get pretty close -- but there are things that just shouldn't happen between us. I just hope I haven't overstepped already, and that things will just get better as time goes by.

I hope I can remember this stuff, too, as I'm pretty sure it's about as close as I can come to finding the truth. It's going to take time to understand it fully, and I know I can be forgetful sometimes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Advogato Entry 258

Just had about the weirdest day of my life. Second day of classes, and I actually talked.. I'm taking some courses at the business school, and about half of the class is Computer Science students! What the hell? I think I was the only CS major in the previous class I took there.

Bumped into Sarah as she was coming out of a class, and helped her find an office to get a permission number to get into that course.. Showed off where I work, but only for a moment (I didn't really have anything interesting to show off...)

Discovered that Internet Explorer apparently doesn't like self-generated SSL certificates at all... Need to actually pay for a certificate at some point, or find a workaround.

Anyway, it's just been a weird day. I've been overstimulated by the talking in class and stuff.. My courses look to be pretty intensive. I know that my previous classes have been hard, but it wasn't obvious on the first day of class.. I guess I'm not sure how these classes really stack up..

Still waiting on permission numbers for two classes.. Not sure what will happen there.

Gotta cut down on using my laptop for web browsing. Using the scratchpad doesn't seem to be good for my wrist..

Monday, January 28, 2002

Advogato Entry 259

Have a pretty bad headache right now. I tend to get headaches when I don't get enough sleep. But then, I often worry that I sleep too much.. People have always discussed the `average' 8 hour night, but I tend to need 9-10 hours to be rested. Well, I think.. I'm still not sure what's appropriate for me.

Anyway, I had a decent day, spoke up a bit in class and got some things done at work. Unfortunately, the big thing I was working on today (restoring a system from Amanda backups) didn't go well at all.

The hard drive died on that system, so I had to boot off of something else. I had an old Linuxcare BBC, but it was too old.. The version of tar on the thing was 1.13, which is incompatible with the tar dumps we've made with Amanda.. It would mostly work, but files were prepended with a directory name that looked like a timestamp of some sort.

Anyway, I played around, trying to get stuff to extract somewhat correctly.. I ended up chroot'ing the tar and gzip that were on the partially-restored system to extract things properly.. In the end, I was stuck with trying to install LILO, but it would complain like

/sbin/lilo: /dev/hda: No such file or directory

Even though it was plainly there..

Anyway, I spent way too much time on it, and I have a pounding headache. I need to get some rest, but I need to do some work for classes tomorrow before I fall asleep..

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Advogato Entry 260

Bleh.. Tired. These 8:15 and 9:05 classes are going to kill me, or at least turn me into a zombie..