Saturday, January 4, 2003

Advogato Entry 297

Sort of fixed a problem that I was having with Debian's murasaki package where it would basically hang on startup (when /etc/init.d/murasaki start was run). On my desktop, some initialization programs were not working right. They were trying to execve() something that didn't exist, but the programs were written under the assumption that the execve() would never return -- which is normally the case unless there's an error of some kind.

The program was made to fork() before each execution, so I'm just lucky the software didn't explode in my face as a fork bomb. I guess it just ended up being a "fork fire," as it didn't get out of control, but there were about 15 processes going at any one time..

I haven't found anything to automatically mount/unmount my camera and other USB/FireWire devices like I want, but I suppose I haven't looked all that hard yet.

I got a little pissed off about binary-dependent, pseudo-open-source software the other day after my X server died after an upgrade. I need to get a new HALlib module in order for my second head to work again. Matrox hasn't updated their driver packages for X 4.2.1 yet. Supposedly the precompiled files on their website should work for 4.2.1, but they don't work for me (causing the console to get toasted). I could also recompile stuff myself, but X is just too big a package for me to handle..

Matrox apparently doesn't have too many problems releasing specs for their boards, but the HALlib stuff apparently has to be binary-only because the software interfaces with chips that Matrox got from other companies, and they don't want specs released..

Hmm.. It occurs to me that there is code in the kernel framebuffer driver that allows you to activate the second head on the G400 (and probably some other Matrox cards). It's unaccelerated, if I recall, but I might have to look into whether it's possible to get that code to initialize the second head so I don't have to deal with this again (or, get stuck with a slow head, rather than just one head and a blank screen next to it).

Makes me wish I could start a "nice" hardware company that releases specs and decent documentation, doesn't use chips and stuff from other companies that don't like to release specs, uses good standards where possible, etc.. Sounds nice, but the profit margins are probably too thin in the PC industry to pull it off. Maybe it's possible.. I just keep running into hardware at every turn that isn't fully workable under Linux. Even my new camera, which I'll probably recommend to friends, is only half-working with Linux -- you can get files off it like a USB hard drive, but you can't use it as a webcam (though you can get decent Linux-compatible webcams for <$20 anyway..)

It's just annoying when you look at what works and what doesn't in your system, and you realize you really only have half a computer...

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Advogato Entry 298

Some unusual stuff happening in my life lately, so I figured I should write it down.

I don't want to go into much detail. I chatted with Sarah, she felt I sounded depressed. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to her later, but she ended up being too busy the rest of the day. I wrote a late-night e-mail laying out some of my thoughts. She hasn't mentioned it yet, though I think she read it (though there's a distinct possibility that Hotmail's junk mail filters trashed it).

Anyway, we all went out to a restaurant for dinner. My fortune cookie said, ``Now is the time to go ahead and pursue that love interest!''

Yeah, even the Mongolians are against me (although I guess all the cooks were Mexican ;-)

I'm sort of looking for a new job. My boss is trying to keep me at Carlson, but needs to find funding somewhere. I think I'm going to wait until he finds someone to fill the student position that opens up as I graduate, perhaps facilitate in any knowledge transfer that needs to take place (where did I learn to talk like that? I guess the business school has rubbed off on me). After that, I'll be happy to go look for work elsewhere.

We'll see what happens..

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Advogato Entry 299

Hmm. The lock vulnerability is pretty interesting. I don't know why I didn't come up with that idea myself, since it's so simple.

I've run a few numbers on the problem, and it appears that even if you have some pretty nice locks with 100 million possible keys, you can find a master key with only 40-80 tries. Of course, I hear that locksmiths have plenty of tricks that are even more effective than that..

I'm wrapping up stuff at work (sort of -- there's some documentation that I've been avoiding writing). Last day will be tomorrow, barring something strange happening out of the blue.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Advogato Entry 300

Found out today that the National Weather Service (USA) and the weather service in Canada changed the formula they use for calculating wind chill back in November of 2001. I'll have to go and tinker with some of the weather programs I have so that they do it right..