July 18, 2000

Advogato Entry 1

Well, I just joined (yeah, I came here from Salon..), so this is an inaugural diary entry. Maybe I'll actually get in the habit of doing a diary this time (then again, I don't know if I'd want some of my weirder thoughts posted in public..).


I just managed to upgrade a Linux Mandrake box about as much as I could. (Loopback filesystems are wonderful -- just download the ISO instead of getting a few thousand RPMs) It's a server running some proprietary mishmash of a RAID system (It's a RaidZone in case you're wondering). Unfortunately, their drivers only work with 2.2.15 (AFAIK, I suppose I could patch things up to 2.2.16, but I don't know if it would work). Also, their driver is distributed as a `.a' library/object file that gets compiled into the kernel. I think that's a GPL violation, but I don't have the energy to complain right now.. blargh.

On a slightly lighter note, I came across an IBM ad touting their Linux support earlier today. Pretty cool, though it isn't making the same waves it would have even a year ago.

I need to find where I put a 3-button mouse I picked up the other day -- X Windows with just 2 buttons is nasty.. I just hope the damn thing works (it was sitting in a pile of what may have been broken equipment). I had another 3-button mouse that worked with USB, but that seems to have gotten fried somehow.. Grr!

I joined a mailing list on Minnesota E-Democracy the other day and finally got around to reading the rules and guidelines. Boy do they suck. You're only allowed two posts per day. You have to put your name, e-mail, and city in your .sig, and you can't post under a pseudonym or anonymously. Some guy was going around flaunting the fact that he puts a 5-paragraph advertisement signature for `healthy' cigarettes at the bottom of each of his posts. I posted a reply to him, quoting part of the rules, only to discover that I was violating at least two rules in the process. I didn't have my city in my signature, and I sent the note with an attachment (my GPG signature).

I think they may have already banned me..

Posted by mike at 11:38 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 19, 2000

Advogato Entry 2

e2fsck: Attempt to read block from filesystem resulted
in short read while trying to open /dev/hdb1
Could this be a zero-length partition?


I had a particularly nasty crash this morning. For some reason, my hard drives can't handle extended writes, such as what you'd get from ripping the audio off a CD. I've even reformatted the damn things and they still do this (I had thought it was a slightly corrupted fs, but now I'm thinking it must be slightly broken hardware.. grr..)

On days like this when things aren't going my way, I just end up feeling so tired and alone. It doesn't help that my job seems to not allow any human interaction. I should have got a job with my roommate belaying for rock climbers at the local gym. He got a girlfriend right away.. *grumble* I'm way too old to have been single for so long. Oh well, complaining will probably only make things worse.

I looked at some of the LFP variable-width fonts yesterday. They weren't very variable in the widths, and a lot of them were too small for my display. Perhaps more people need to try out Gote and make some decent scalable fonts..

I decided to pass a `-gamma' flag to XFree 4.0.1, and I think it helps. But somehow, Slashdot's colors managed to get even uglier. Also, I see that many websites are designed for non-gamma-corrected displays. *sigh*

Ralph Nader was here in MN again over the weekend. He drew a big crowd for a rally on campus -- 1500 people in one lecture hall. I'm gonna vote for him this fall unless there's a drastic change in the other candidates. I tried to search for some more news about it on the websites of the nearby newspapers, but their search engines are so braindead that they give you the same link 10 times. Maybe I need to make my own search engine for this stuff..

Rode my bike into work today, as I'm sick and tired of waiting for the bus. That and the fact that it was actually cool enough outside to ride without dumping a gallon of sweat. The foliage around here is beautiful this summer -- we've had too much rain, so everything is a very deep green.


Finally figured out how to print from Linux to Novell. It was actually pretty easy, so this will save me the trouble of managing IP addresses for 50 printers..

I just tried out Evolution 0.2 (you can get it through helix-update, you know..) and I really like it! Not as light on the memory as I was hoping, but not as bad as I was fearing. It seems pretty fast (my box is a P166, though I have 128MB of RAM). Of course, the Lotus Notes POP3 server just decided to stop accepting my password..

Yesterday, I was thinking a lot about the reasons I started using Linux. It wasn't because Windows (3.1) was bad, it was because DOS sucked and because OS/2 Warp 4 decided to ignore my SB16 (literally -- Creative wouldn't be caught dead writing new drivers). Of course, what I had really wanted to do was 32-bit graphics development (try finding a free 32-bit DOS assembler), but that never really happened.

Posted by mike at 12:39 PM Central | Bike , Decision 2000 , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , Software , Work , XFree | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 3

Just saw on the news that security (the physical kind) is going to be tight on UMN's campuses the rest of the week. Big genetic conference going on, and they're expecting protests. They've basically shut down access to the St. Paul campus, though I doubt anything similar will happen on the Minneapolis side, as it's a major throughfare for commuters going to/from downtown.

Posted by mike at 08:24 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2000

Advogato Entry 4

Well, I decided to mke2fs the damn thing.. Apparently, something exploded on my hard drive and threw random bits everywhere. I wrote a tiny program to try and find the 0xEF53 magic number marking a superblock -- found nothing in 1GB of data. I'm still trying to figure that one out especially considering that I did a byte-by-byte check. I should have gotten back hundreds or thousands or millions of false positives, but I got nothing.

I dd'd the first meg or so of the disk, found all sorts of aincent garbage (OnTrack disk manager, anyone?). Perhaps the kernel exploded after hitting the 5% reserved space for root... Hmm.. Found some text files that got turned into binary files from all of the flying bits. Oh well, at least it wasn't important data, and I do have a lot of it backed up on a CD somewhere..

Some of the corruption may have hit my /usr partition as well. MP3s were not playing nicely from XMMS. I ran `rpm -V xmms' and discovered that libmpg123.so had a bad md5sum. I just hope there aren't more problems.. Hmm.. Perhaps this had something to do with the solar flares (though I'd put that at about 3% probability). Maybe I need more shielding...

I'm probably going to write up several mini-howtos so my users can figure out how to mount their home directories via SMB, print to the Novell printers, and use SSH instead of telnet. Pretty generic, but who knows how well things will work. Also, I played around with the login scripts on our main Solaris box. People can now safely get bash running by creating a ~/.iwantbash file. I couldn't just change /etc/passwd to point to /usr/local/bin/bash, because there are other systems in the NIS domain that are Linux boxen with /bin/bash instead. Also, people can get GNU ls to work in color now with a ~/.iwantcolorls file. Hopefully, I put everything in the right place so the scripts people have written won't be broken..

I still have to tell my boss that I'll be gone for a week and a half to do Marching Band. Perhaps I'll have to do some coding on the Flute website. I just wish the U ran PHP on my web server..


*Yawn* *stretch* Ooh.. Actually did some work today. Did some more mangling on login scripts. What a mess those things are. However, I am really beginning to like RedHat's /etc/profile.d idea. I can just make tiny scriptlets and have them get run from either /etc/profile or /etc/bashrc (since it's an either-or situation when you start a shell, AFAICT). I suppose I'll be tinkering on über-scripts that can startup both Solaris and Linux pretty soon. Then again, I shouldn't play too much, since I won't actually have an opportunity to test them (users get a tad peeved when the system reboots in the middle of a week-long run of data analysis..). Oh well.

One of my roommates is coming to the apartment to visit. Yeah, he's not living here this summer. Stayed at home. Whatever. Of course, myself and the other roommate that are around here are happy he's coming, since his car works and we can finally go buy some food. It's either that or try your luck on some 7-month-old beef in the freezer. We're planning on going to X-Men this weekend, and I have another friend I should invite to come along. I hope I'll remember.

Found some school songs encoded in .au and .ra format on the Marching Band's homepage. I think I'll vorbize them, though I don't know how well 8-bit mono works..

Posted by mike at 02:39 PM Central | Dan , Josh , Movies , Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 21, 2000

Advogato Entry 5

Got a note regarding login scripts. Yeah, I probably should try zsh, but I don't know how the users would feel about that. (Of course, I'm amazed that they haven't complained about being forced to use the (not so) good ol' Bourne shell on Solaris). Anyway, I'll have to put that on my todo list..

All this Solaris stuff reminds me. Two or three years ago, I was taking a programming class (Scheme, IIRC). One day, I was talking about how I was using Linux on my home computer. The girl sitting next to me said, "Why do you use Linux when Solaris is free [for personal use]?" *shudder* Probably because I keep finding little gems on our servers, like the fact that /bin is a link to /usr/bin, and (of course) /usr is not the root filesystem. I'm amazed that system actually boots.. Besides, why would I use Solaris if Linux has the best support for my 3D hardware.

Anyway, I'm enjoying a lazy morning -- the boss is doing a bunch of level 0 dumps on the servers and said I didn't have to come in until the late morning/afternoon so I can backup the user data. I'm taking the opportunity to look over some of the e-mail I got regarding a pseudo-FAQ I posted to the LiViD user mailing list. Hopefully, this will keep people from endlessly asking if the Dxr3 is supported..

I think the next computer I set up will be named `tacobell'. I've been naming systems after restaurants lately, and my roommate is pissed that the nearby Taco Bell closed down (it was very poorly managed. You'd try going there at 3:00 PM on a Saturday and it would be closed..) This way, he can have his very own Taco Bell..

IBM is investing a lot of money in Linux. That's pretty cool. Of course, I'm biased when it comes to anything from IBM -- they've provided my parents with income for about 25 years. Both of them have done some pretty interesting things. Mom did clock and calendar code for the AS/400, plus the bootloader and power management code for the S/38. Dad has done work with the '400's 32->64 bit conversion and a lot of more recent work on getting Java to run fast. Of course, since it's IBM, some of Dad's work is patented...

Posted by mike at 08:18 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 22, 2000

Advogato Entry 6

4:00 AM

Can't really sleep for some reason. I guess it's all these thoughts I'm having about Linux, ease of use, and whatnot. ``GNU's Not Unix'' I think people forget that. Some think it's just a play on words, but I believe it. There's no reason why it shouldn't be true -- all of the `true' Unices I've dealt with have been annoying as hell. I love a lot of the GNU stuff. I can't live without GNU fileutils. I need bash. I love the Linux kernel (especially /proc ;-) Though I can't say I get along well with Emacs..

I posted a rant about crappy text editors to my local LUG's mailing list. Again. I think I've done it several times before, and each time I say how much I want to get away from pico and start using something decent. {g}vim is fairly nice, but there are some things I just don't like. Of course, it doesn't help that `true' vi sucks goats (especially for those with Dvorak keyboards), so none of this does me any good if I have to fix something on Solaris, for example. I was wondering if maybe there should be a system-wide file for common keybindings..

I wish I could go through every type of package and find the best one. What's the best text editor? Eesh. The best mailer? Do we need elm? mail? pine? The `best' ones probably haven't been created yet, but I really don't want to start these religious wars all over again. Maybe we should use Roxen instead of Apache. Perhaps there's an up-and-coming SQL database that's way better than PostgreSQL and MySQL. Should everything in Linux be re-written to be object-ified, so it's even easier to make complex and powerful programs from small parts? And why the hell am I running i386 binaries on an AMD K6-2?

So many questions, it all makes my head spin. There's no need for a Linux kernel-based OS to behave much like Unix at all, is there? Can we move beyond pipes to more advanced types of message passing, or do we always have to use Unix or TCP/IP sockets to communicate between local programs? Blah, I wish I knew more of the answers..

On a somewhat more serious note, would it be a good or bad idea to make devices directly accessible through some sort of /dev/bus/{usb,pci,i2c} hierarchy? Most of the PCI devices tell you exactly what resources they use, right? So, can you create generic devices that allow direct access to memory and registers. That way, programs like X don't need to be suid root (if the /dev/bus/pci/1/0.0 AGP video card is writable by the user), and no real video drivers have to be in the kernel.. maybe. But it might allow for neat tricks like setting up eth4 before eth[0123] by directly accessing the device.. It would certainly allow for more user-land development of drivers before trying to implement the same functionality in the kernel. I suppose there has to be some gatekeeper functionality, so it probably all depends on whether or not you can generalize that sort of thing.

If I was a kernel hacker, maybe I'd actually know this stuff. Right now, I have to be content to be one of those annoying `brainstormers' that don't have enough time/talent/knowledge to do this on their own. Sorry if I got anyone's hopes up...

Posted by mike at 02:30 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 24, 2000

Advogato Entry 7


I had a refreshing weekend. Went out to see X-Men with two of my roommates and another friend on Friday -- very good show. Actually ate real food over the weekend, which was a nice change (our primary vehicle was down, so we hadn't been to the supermarket for a few weeks). However, I wish I'd had a decent chance to do some hacking..

Today I continued mucking around with login scripts -- that task will probably never end.. Solaris doesn't set $USER.. How weird. Oh well, I suppose it's not a big deal.

I played around with bash prompts a little too much. Man, tinkering with a cool color prompt can be really fun. Unfortunately, I have other stuff to do.

We're currently looking to find a cross-platform (well, just Solaris and Linux) backup solution. Right now, we're backing up the Solaris boxes with ufsdump, and the Linux boxes aren't getting backed up. We have BRU, though I'm not sure if we have enough licenses for the whole server cluster. I'll have to see if Amanda is a good choice, though we'll probably need to add SSL support.

We just put Samba on a few of our Solaris servers. It's working fine, but people are having trouble finding them in the browse lists. I'm not sure how stable SMB workgroups are when you have a large number of nodes. Many hosts seem to fade in and out of existence. We talked to the NT guys and they say that they have problems too. I'm sure that being on a /21 network doesn't help. NMB lookups still work, and a person can just type in `\\server\share', so I guess it's not a big deal.

I should really keep writing some documentation for the RLG Security Project that I'm trying to coordinate. At least I'm writing some similar documentation for my users at work, so maybe it won't be a big problem..

Posted by mike at 08:12 PM Central | Dan , Josh , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 25, 2000

Advogato Entry 8


Decklin: Yeah, I saw that $LOGNAME is getting set, which is good for those systems around here that don't have a version of `id' that can print out just the user name..

I think I'll be staying away from Windows 2000. My roommates installed Win2k Pro on one of their systems Friday night. They re-installed on Sunday night. NTOSKRNL.EXE was crashing for some reason. I tried replacing it with a known-good copy (using Wine, EXPAND.EXE, and a few DLLs), but that didn't work. The system just wasn't giving me enough information about what was going wrong. I tried booting with a bootlog, but the system didn't tell me where that log actually was! Grr..

Oh well, it's not my computer ;-)

Anyway, I just had Netscape crash because I hit shift-insert to paste again. I was working with a two-button mouse for way too long. Now I just need to get a decent video card. A lot of computers around here have some really nice displays (I'm sitting in front of a 17" Dell/Sony Trinitron), but the video cards only have 1MB of memory around here. Somebody wasn't thinking.

I copied 8.5 GB of data last night. I thought something had barfed as `du' clearly showed 17GB. Oops.. du counts things in blocks! *sigh*

I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to put together a 10 or 100Mbps switch using Linux or *BSD just for my apartment. I found out that the hub we have is a piece of dung (I strung a 50 ft. Ethernet cable around the place, then plugged it into the hub. Collisions galore, even though nothing was connected to the other end..). Sheesh, any computer with a PCI bus has a Gb/s backplane, and you can add ports for $50 or less. Something to think about..

Well, I'd better go write some more documentation..

Posted by mike at 09:44 AM Central | Dan , Hardware , Josh , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 27, 2000

Advogato Entry 9

S.5....T   /bin/ps
S.5....T   /bin/login

Heh. That's good.. This box has been broken into before, I guess nobody bothered to clean it up properly..

I've just been going around the different servers and setting up NTP daemons and fiddling with other stuff. The Linux boxes here have been surprisingly stable. One of them has been up 194 days at this point. I almost rebooted it yesterday, but then I realized things were behaving strangely because the automount daemon had died somehow, but the mountpoint hadn't been released. A simple umount did the trick. Maybe that thing will run for another 194 days. I just hope that it will come back up after it finally goes down -- we don't have a display or keyboard on the thing ;-)

Anyway, I'm hoping to work on a new project. I want to make a simple program that will let me input simplified bus schedules and then display them on a webpage (or output to a text file, whatever). It's sort of an effort to keep the campus busdrivers `honest'. The city buses in Minneapolis are very good about being on-time (IMHO). The campus buses for the University, however, vary from their prescribed times by quite a bit. If they could just get down to ±2 minutes (that's a 5-minute window), I'd be happy..

Hopefully, I'll be able to make something simple, yet powerful enough to handle the weirdness of big-city bus schedules..

Posted by mike at 10:18 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 28, 2000

Advogato Entry 10

Hmm. Need to find a good, clean (and hopefully libre) method of getting Reflection X to work with SSH. Right now, it is heavily dependent upon Telnet or the r* commands.. blech. PuTTY is great for just being an SSH client, but if you need to tunnel X sessions, forget it. Perhaps I should just avoid tunnelling and go for direct X connections (ie. Set $DISPLAY to point to the client system rather than server:10 or whatever)..

Anyway, my boss gave me an Internet Security Scanner report about our servers yesterday. ISS guessed the SNMP community name and could change the system configuration. Oh yay. I went through and disabled quite a bit of stuff. At some point, I need to find all of the potentially sharp objects on the servers and make sure that they are safe. (mostly SUID root executables, but perhaps compilers and assemblers as well..)

We have a Linux Mandrake box that had some pretty nifty security stuff built in. I wish RedHat would do that.. However, Mandrake seemed to go a little too far in some places. I mean, should the /usr mountpoint only be readable by root? *shrug* At least it didn't start every service on the planet when I first booted it up. Of course, that system is the fallback fallback. Well, it will be primarily serving NFS shares. Secondary function is being a fallback NIS server. Tertiary function is being the fallback fallback shell server.

Anyway, the security report wasn't terrible, but not as nice as I had hoped. Of course, my Unix boxen were the only ones that didn't have the problem of predictable TCP sequence numbers (if they are not predictable, it is very hard to do complex IP address spoofing). The Novell servers were the worst, with ISS getting 100% of it's guesses correct about the sequence numbers. Most of the NT boxes were around 60%

I still want to work on my bus schedule proggie, but I don't know when I'll get the time. I can't live without my 8-9 hours of sleep (compared to most techies, I'm a total weenie). I might be able to live with less, but then I'd need to be able to sleep in until late (11AM or so). I'd also love to do some work with weather-related programs. You know, something that would send me a message if there's a Tornado Warning or something. I guess I just need to find a decent data source first.. Also, I hope the (U.S.) government will make NEXRAD radar data available publically when the radar contracts expire later this year. Getting hour-late images from Yahoo and other places just sucks. Besides, wouldn't you like to be able to zoom in on the images just like your forecasters do on TV? Or maybe make your very own 3-D flythrough?

Posted by mike at 01:05 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 29, 2000

Advogato Entry 11

Well, I finally got started on my bus schedule project. I'm probably a third of the way through making a decent parser to read in my data (it's full of redundant code, though I hope it will be moderately robust). Then, I actually have to do something with the data and output it into a decent format. I've got a bit of work ahead.

More guests last night. I stayed in my room most of the time, though.. They got in late, and I was busy coding. Bumped into them when I woke up, and they were gone in 30 minutes.

There isn't anything good on TV. Perhaps I should plunk down some change and give in to the cable gods.. Oh well, since there isn't anything on TV right now, maybe I'll actually do something useful. Part of the problem with the consumerized society here in the US is that people forget how to innovate on their own. I realized earlier this year that I had become afraid to be curious about a lot of things. There are so many warnings and locked doors around us these days that we forget what it's like to explore. It doesn't help that every corporation on the planet wants to patent everything they touch these days..

Hmm.. My bus schedule parser sucks.. I think I'll have to rewrite it..


I tend to forget how useful ANSI colors are. They're wonderful for debugging. Especially when you're trying to find a needle in the haystack of pages and pages of output..

Posted by mike at 04:42 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2000

Advogato Entry 12

Hey, djcb, fix your last entry -- you're missing a double-quote mark..


Went to the Twin Cities ``Rockin' Ribfest'' today and got a half rack of Roscoe's ribs, some fresh lemonade, and a Dove bar. All for $20.. Eesh. Yet another one of those *fests that that requires you to buy using tickets rather than paying in cash. But it was good.

I rode my bike there and back. There's a fairly nice half gravel/half asphalt road going along a railroad right-of-way. The road basically goes under all of the traffic, which is a much more pleasant way of getting places, IMHO. However, the road is suffering from potholes and washboarding. My arms were getting thoroughly tenderized for a while.

It would be really nice if the University would put a real bike path down there and connect it to the new bike/pedestrian bridge they just installed. One of these days.

I haven't gotten around to working on my bus schedule thing much today, though maybe I'll do something after Futurama and The Simpsons. However, I was pleased that I actually got Evolution to compile and run. Now I've got to try my luck at Nautilus..

One of the things that I worry about with Advogato is that the diary area could be prone to DoS-ing of various kinds. Individuals could presumably plaster diary entries all over the place, or post pages and pages of junk at a time. I imagine there are some checks for this already, but there's almost always a way around it.

Oh, I have a few mail-related problems. One is that I just started using procmail to filter my mail. Locally, I run an IMAP server so it's easier to view mail with disparate clients. Also, I think my mail actually gets loaded faster, as Netscape is not the most efficient at reading/parsing mailbox files. Anyway, I still have to find a way to get procmail to notify the IMAP server that it just dumped mail into a certain folder. Then, the IMAP server must be able to notify my client that there is new mail. This isn't happening automagically, and I'm not sure how to get it to work correctly. I suppose I may have to start using a different IMAP server or something.

In other news, I need to find a good way to consolidate mail at my workplace. Well, my mail doesn't matter, since I'm an admin and can basically do anything I want. However, the head of my department basically wants all mail to go through Lotus Notes (Domino?). I believe it is my task to now find a good way to get Notes to interoperate with my system and the Linux/Unix desktops of others in the organization. I imagine that the server can just run POP or (preferably) IMAP through stunnel. Then, any decent client can read the mail. However, calendaring still remains a bit of an issue, though Lotus is (or at least was) a supporter of the iCalendar protocol, which Evolution is going to support. My only question is, does Lotus actually support iCalendar or not?

July 31, 2000

Advogato Entry 13

I went and rotated LinuxSecurity.com's Linux security quick reference card. I couldn't get it to print nicely when dumping the PostScript version directly to our printers. A simple `-90 rotate' and some tweaking of a `translate' command and everything was peachy-keen. It doesn't display right in gv, but that's not a big deal.

My job today is to set up all of the Novell print queues on one Linux box. Then, everybody can print with Unix lpr/lpd pointed at the Linux box. Saves me the trouble of setting up IPX on all of the client boxes, but that's just two lines in /etc/rc.d/rc.local anyway..

Well, it's the end of July. August cometh. The Minnesota State Fair will be starting soon. (It's the first or second biggest, IIRC. If it's second, it's probably only behind Texas or something. Not bad for a state of 5 million) That's cool. School will also be starting in about a month. That's not so cool. I also need to exercise and practice for Marching Band.

Stress is building. I wish I had a gf to help me relieve that, but maybe having a gf would just make life even more stressful...

Posted by mike at 10:23 AM Central | Exercise , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 01, 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.

Posted by mike at 01:12 PM Central | Law , Music , Old Advogato Diary , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 02, 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...

Posted by mike at 02:07 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 03, 2000

Advogato Entry 16

Diary entry 15


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 ;-)


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.

Posted by mike at 02:43 PM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 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

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...


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 ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:28 PM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 05, 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.

Posted by mike at 08:46 PM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 06, 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 ;-)

Posted by mike at 03:25 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Software , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 07, 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.


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.

Posted by mike at 08:08 AM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 08, 2000

Advogato Entry 21

Entry 20


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.


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..


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.

Posted by mike at 04:26 PM Central | Abode , Comedy , Law , Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Software , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 09, 2000

Advogato Entry 22


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.


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..

Posted by mike at 09:56 AM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Software , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2000

Advogato Entry 23


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..

Posted by mike at 11:19 AM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 11, 2000

Advogato Entry 24


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.

August 12, 2000

Advogato Entry 25


pcburns: A `whois' 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      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...

Posted by mike at 09:21 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 26


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..

August 14, 2000

Advogato Entry 27


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...


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..


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.

Posted by mike at 07:50 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , School , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2000

Advogato Entry 28


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..)


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.

Posted by mike at 12:30 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 16, 2000

Advogato Entry 29


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.


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..


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.

Posted by mike at 09:06 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2000

Advogato Entry 30


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?

Posted by mike at 11:06 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2000

Advogato Entry 31


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...


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.

Posted by mike at 01:58 PM Central | Law , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 19, 2000

Advogato Entry 32


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..

Posted by mike at 07:31 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2000

Advogato Entry 33


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.


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.

Posted by mike at 05:21 PM Central | Corporations , Old Advogato Diary , School , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 23, 2000

Advogato Entry 34


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..


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...


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

Posted by mike at 09:17 PM Central | Corporations , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 11, 2000

Advogato Entry 35


Well, I see I haven't posted for quite a while. I've been busy with Marching Band and the first week of classes. My apartment is now fully populated (4 people), though we are still in the process of setting everything up. We've got a nice stereo system going (really good receiver with Dolby Digital), and have two computers hooked up to it. I still have to find a good way to get MP3s playing, though. Both computers are not very close to the stereo itself -- you have to get up and wander over somewhere to change the playlist or anything. Oh well.

I had been working on a simple MP3 server web interface, though I don't know if that will ever bear fruit. I'll probably just use RIMPS or a similar piece of software.

I'm having some trouble adjusting to the fact that my computer is not in my bedroom this year. While it's nice to fall asleep without the background noise of my computer, it's annoying because I haven't been able to keep up with my e-mail very well. I unsubscribed from some LiViD mailing lists that I'd been on for a long time, but I got tired of wading through messages that weren't very interesting to me..

Anyway, people I know will just have to deal with the fact that I will not respond as quickly as I usually do..

Posted by mike at 09:48 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 13, 2000

Advogato Entry 36


I'm sick. This sucks. I was just getting over another illness when this one came along. I could barely function yesterday, and I seem to be doing a little better today. We'll have to see how things go.. Anyway, I've been as inactive as possible, trying to let my immune system do its thing.

I was happy a few days ago when I whipped up a little phono jack switch. One input to two different outputs. Not that it was very hard to do or anything. Now I just have to do some soldering and put it in a small box..

Posted by mike at 08:32 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2000

Advogato Entry 37


Well, I haven't been keeping up with this. Being sick for a month doesn't help things.. Oh well, I'll have to see if I can get back on this horse.

I totally screwed up a CSci assignment today. I was supposed to download a Word(!) document, fill in relevant parts, and hand it in.. Oh well, it's still early in the year, and I still have plenty of time to make up for stupid mistakes. Hopefully, I'm done with stupid mistakes for this semester.

I don't know what it is, but school really seems to take a lot out of me. Even if I don't do anything (or maybe it's because I don't do anything), I get really tired. I should really get into an exercise routine (heh, like that'll happen).

The exciting event over the weekend was that Ralph Nader had a fairly large rally here on Friday. I paid my $7 to get in. Apparently, 12000 people is (or was as of Friday, they're still having rallies) the largest gathering of individuals paying to listen to a Presidential candidate. Not that it means we gave a whole lot of money -- they got about $110k (entry cost plus donations once in the door). Still, it's a much better deal for me than those $25k/plate dinners that some candidates have (*cough* *cough*).

Anyway, I'm having all sorts of fun bashing Sun here at work. We can't figure out how to use the 100Base-T network card in our new server. Fun. My boss had hooked up our tape drive to the system without realizing it only ran at 10Mb. Our backups are running several times slower these days.

As always, I keep hoping that I'll get motivated to help out on some open source projects. Someday it'll happen..

Found out about a semi-new TV channel in town, KSTC 45. There have been all of these strange `Hi, I'm Gregory and I'm 45' posters and ads all over town. It's kind of neat, as it is supposed to be an independent station with a local focus. Unfortunately, they're owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, a company that owns about 10 stations (and they at least used to have a DBS network). It's just hard to call a station like that `independent' (of course, they mean that it will not have a network affiliation

Posted by mike at 12:39 PM Central | Decision 2000 , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , School , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 04, 2000

Advogato Entry 38


Well, well, well. I was disappointed in the US Presidential debates. Only 2 candidates. Sheesh.

There was a small rally on campus for Nader, which I participated in. We got about 75 people. Not huge, but decent. There were a few reporters (at least one each for newspaper, radio, and TV), but I haven't seen much coverage yet [picture]. There have been polls saying that about 75% of the public thinks that adding a third candidate would have made the debates more interesting. I understand that Dan Rather essentially called last night's debates a snorefest...

Anyway, on to some non-political stuff. For one of my CSci classes, I (along with a group) have to write some simple malloc() and free() routines. It was really funny how we did most of the development -- Borland Turbo C++ version 3.0 for DOS. DOS does not have sbrk(). DOS does not have 32-bit pointers. Anyway, we moved the files over to a Unix box to finish things up. We got them to compile, and a test program appeared to not crash, so maybe it actually works. At any rate, we still have to put in some code for checking for overruns and underruns (we have special buffers that contain a particular pattern. If the pattern fails somehow, we know that there was a problem). Hopefully we'll get it done by the due date and time (midnight on Thursday).

November 28, 2000

Advogato Entry 39


Well, I've been away for a while. It happens. Anyway, I've been playing with all sorts of things. I wrote a small game for my Palm for one of my classes. It's based on an old PC game where the object was to drop depth charges on submarines passing below the surface. The old PC game was just an animated terminal game. At least on the Palm you can get graphics ;-) Then, as now, the name of the game was Depth Charge (pretty lame, but obvious). I'll try and post a copy of the source somewhere pretty soon.

Another thing that has really been bothering me lately is my lack of portable music. I have an old CD player that is probably due for a replacement. There are a lot of MP3 players out there, but they are all spendy and don't play Vorbis files (AFAIK). When I can wander down the street and pick up 128MB of PC133 memory for $60, you'd think that it would be cheap and easy to get slower memory for portable music devices (of course, you have to get non-volatile memory, or spend all of your batteries refreshing the bits). If only I knew how to build this sort of thing...

Paying $200-$300 for a device that can only play an hour of music is absurd to me.

Of course, I wonder how these devices that do exist actually work. I haven't seen many of them in use, especially not the ones with huge storage capacities. I don't think the hierarchical filesystem model is quite the right way to access the files -- it would probably be better to build a database that reads all of the ID3 tags, allowing you to look by album, artist, title, genre, etc. Of course, how many of us actually have appropriate ID3 tags? I thought so...

I'm debating whether the best way to talk to one of these things is via ethernet or USB. USB works for lots of people, but some of us don't have USB ports that are known to be working (I think I accidentally plugged mine in backwards at some point -- they are on an add-on slot in my computer, much like the old PS/2 and COM/LPT ports were. Anyway, I burned out a mouse by doing something wrong..). Ethernet is probably a little easier to do, though it may be unsafe if you are in a dorm or something, where others could notice when one of these things broadcasts it's presence. (of course, the appropriate thing to do would be to print out a DHCP'ed address on the LCD, rather than broadcasting that info -- not plug-n-play, but safer)

Something like the ucSimm would be nice, but I understand that doesn't have enough CPU power to handle decoding of much of anything more complicated than ADPCM. Perhaps something based off of a StrongARM or another low-power general-purpose cpu. Of course, I don't know how much floating-point processing is required for this stuff..

Posted by mike at 12:11 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 29, 2000

Advogato Entry 40


Can't write much -- I have to go to a meeting for one of my CSci classes soon. I've been busy trying to get my computer from falling to pieces. I installed ReiserFS when I got a big 60 GB hard drive a few months ago. It worked for a while, but it seemed to be unstable. Of course, it doesn't help that I play around quite a bit. Right now, I'm running 2.4.0-test9 with reiserfs patched on. Anyway, I spent the morning copying files back and forth between partitions, and doing mkreiserfs when I could. I think things are a little more stable now.

In the whole process, I noticed that my ipchains rules were not running -- I forgot to insert a module (blah!). I'll have to dig around and see if anyone managed to break into my system through the holes that I covered up with those ipchains rules...

What's the deal with the new markup languages using lowercase tags? I got used to doing them all in uppercase (they're easier to see that way, IMHO). Oh well, I guess I just have to re-train myself. Hell, if I can learn the Dvorak keyboard layout, I can do my HTML tags `right'...

Speaking of Dvorak, I wonder if I should spend some dough on a decent Dvorak keyboard. I have a keyboard now that just allowed me to move the keys around, but I'd like one that is actually designed for it.. Sort of. Then again, with the way I've been doing things before, it seems like I'm more in need of an ergonomic mouse than an ergonomic keyboard. Damn Solitaire ;-)

I also need a new sound card (I think). My system bus is running at 112MHz right now (x3.5 = 392MHz clock speed ;-). I'm supposed to have an AMD K6-2 350, but I just wanted to bump that up a bit.. Anyway, having an old ISA SB16 hanging on my computer probably doesn't do anything good for my system..

Well, gotta go..

Posted by mike at 11:11 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 01, 2000

Advogato Entry 41

Well, I went out and got myself the top-of-the-line SoundBlaster card. Now I just have to figure out if I'll ever use much of it. Upside: audio decoding is now a non-issue. It's amazing how much processing time can be taken up just waiting for the ISA bus. No more scratchy sounds when I scroll a window while music is playing. Bonus: this card appears to have much better shielding (far less line noise), too.

Anyway, my SoundBlaster Live! Platinum 5.1 with the Live!Drive IR (IR=infraraed -- it comes with a remote ;-) is pretty cool. All sorts of damn connectors. I looked around the web for software (there's hardly anything out there for it, other than the generic SB Live drivers). Anyway, with this, I'm basically ready for anything. It can be connected to/from MiniDisc systems (and others that use the optical connection), and it has other S/P-DIF connections. Midi is easily accessible on the front, along with an extra headphone jack and two line inputs (well, one can also work as a mic input).

One piece of software I did find was a bare-bones utility for setting up the `routing' of audio. I'm not sure if it works at all, but with all of these connectors, you have to worry about where everything is actually going! Anyway, all sorts of fun will probably be had, once there is actually some software out there that works ;-)

Fortunately, I had predicted that I would be getting a Live! card of some kind, so I had compiled the drivers in my last kernel upgrade. Not so good was that at least one of my hard drives appeared to be failing. When I attempted to power-up again, the system started choking dramatically. In the end, though, it appears that everything worked out. I've decided to get rid of ReiserFS on my /home partition -- it's just too unstable to use on my important files. I am using it on my /usr and /media (where I put all of my music and videos) partitions. If I lose that stuff, it's just a re-install or a matter of re-ripping a lot of CDs.. I just don't want to lose my mail, writings, code, etc.

Posted by mike at 09:42 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 03, 2000

Advogato Entry 42

I played around with RIMPS the other day. Someone decided that it was a 1.0 release. Still has a few bugs to work out. Non-numeric characters in the `Year' field in any ID3 tags cause it to break, for instance. It also doesn't produce a nice stream like I want. I want to have an interface that makes a playlist that I can click on and get a continuously-running stream. Hook it in to IceCast or something. I guess I may still have to build something on my own.

Just saw Gladiator last night. Very good movie, though we only got to see it on VHS. Still, I'm not sure how I feel about DVDs. They usually look good, but sometimes the video quality is not so hot -- especially when you're looking at a field of color with only small variations.. The DeCSS mess still makes me stay away from buying them, though I will watch them. Good audio and widescreen encoding are two very good things.

Anyway, I liked the soundtrack, too, so I snarfed the files off the 'net. I kind of hate doing that, though, since many people do not encode things very well. I had to re-download a few files, but what I have sounds pretty good. I may still go out and buy the CD, though. One problem is that it is a score which doesn't quite seem to be the same as a soundtrack. One song blends right into the next, which means that it seems that you start in the middle of a song, even if it's the beginning of a track. I wonder if I can do something with Ogg Vorbis and concatenate the files together in any good way. It might be good to make a trivial stream format (ie, a special stream consisting of just one frame) that is put at the beginning of a file, telling where each track begins and ends. That way, the entire disc is in one big file, but you can easily find each track. Putting each track into a separate file causes blips between each one, which isn't good in this case (I also have the same problem with a Paul Oakenfold CD I bought).

I was bored enough to dig through all of my MP3s and fix much of what was wrong with the filenames and ID3 tags. I just put `a', `an', and `the' at the end, rather than the beginning, of song titles and band names. I also made sure that prepositions (words like `of', `on', `in', etc.) were not capitalized (except in a few cases). Deciding who the actual artist is, though, remains a challenge. I wish I could just say ``These three people are all the artists that made this song,'' rather than just saying one of them, and then putting in a comment or something. Also, I really need to pick up some good ID3v2 utilities and anything that can handle the info in Vorbis files. Then, I need to whip up a decent database that can read all of that, detect errors in filenames and tags (fix the case of letters, move `a', `an', and `the' off the front, correctly handle numbers in names, etc). Ugh. I'll never manage to do it... I already have a simple database system that I could extend, but I don't know if I ever will..

Posted by mike at 01:27 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 43

Bleh. It's been a while since I've written. Which is okay, since I haven't done any programming in that time (well, I did finish up a really annoying group project for one of my annoying CSci classes. I'm so glad I passed that damn annoying class. Can you tell I'm annoyed?)

I went to the MicronPC.com bowl in the University of Minnesota Marching Band. Got a nice t-shirt. Stayed in a nice hotel. Got $78 for food (whee! steak!). Watched 4 hours of an utterly boring game where we lost after leading in the first quarter by something like 24 points...

To be expected...

It was really interesting when we traveled to Florida and back, since our original charter plane had been grounded for some reason or another. We ended up packetizing the band by taking 3 planes down (plus a few people on a 4th plane) and 3 planes back.


Finally got DRI working like it's supposed to.. Who knew that you actually had to add that `Mode 0666' line in the DRI section of XF86Config -- I thought that was only a suggestion... I also discovered that DRI doesn't work very well when your resolution is weird. I like to run my display at 1320x992, since it produces square pixels on the screen while keeping the same amount of desktop space as 1280x1024. When you run at 1280, things get squeezed and pulled by about 5%, so they don't look quite right anymore.

I had fun installing Debian on an old SparcServer 20 at work earlier this week. It's pretty slow, but it's not terrible, since it has two processors. I set it up to run X windows and share the keyboard and mouse with my P133 Linux box with x2x (I understand you can do the same thing with a Windows box and a Unix box with x2vnc). It's really nice to have smooth mouse movement on a Sun for once ;-)

Other than that, not much happening here, except people are slowly trickling back onto campus. A female friend of mine responded to a note I sent her a while back. There seems to be a strange tone to it, though I guess the note I sent her had a strange tone to it too. She was (probably jokingly) lamenting her love life.

It's probably best to cut off that train of thought...

I'm thinking of going to see Antitrust tonight. I just hope I can hit the buses right. Not having a car sucks. Then again, parking at the U of MN is impossible, so it all evens out..

Posted by mike at 02:18 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 13, 2001

Advogato Entry 44

Well, I did go see Antitrust. I don't highly recommend it. Definitely a rental, unless you want to see the (usually very quick) screen shots in their full resolution.. If you want that, go see a matinee or watch it at a second-run theater.

I think the baseline story was good, it's just that the writer and director didn't quite know how to piece it together. I went and read a number of reviews, and I think many agree that there were some very good bits in it. A lot of them understood what the movie was supposed to be, and that the packaging just turned out to be pretty bad (although it looked good). Okay, the packaging was really, really bad. Ryan Phillippe? Why, God, why? A bunch of the sideline characters would have played the starring roles far better. There was one guy that helped introduce Phillippe's character (Milo) to the office that I thought really should have been played out much more. He had one of the best lines in the movie: ``You have a girlfriend? Like a real three-dimensional girlfriend? That's really rare around here, man.''

Also, the techie bits were pretty good. It looked like the f/x people actually listened to John Hall. It was kind of funny though, since some of the screenshots were based around Gnome, others appeared to be from CDE or something (the good guys used Gtk/Gnome, the evil guys appeared to use Motif).

In the end, the movie feels like it was an alpha release. I think it was spliced together pretty badly. It could be improved quite a bit by rearranging the scenes, making some cuts longer or shorter, etc. That would probably bring it up from one or one and a half star to two stars (of four). If they ditched most of the leading roles (Phillippe, Forlani, Cook) and replaced them with the supporting stars, it could have easily reached 3 out of 4.

I heard over the grapevine that Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman (along with a bunch of people from Ximian/HelixCode) went to see the movie. Apparently, Nat was very loudly making Miguel's presence known to the theater crowd, and Miguel wasn't terribly happy about that. But, like I said, that's over the grapevine..

Posted by mike at 10:45 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2001

Advogato Entry 45

Blah. The registration system at the University has been computerized and re-computerized. It still sucks. Well, it may not actually be that bad, but the CSci department is overbooked or something, so I can't get into (m)any classes. I did register for a History of Science/Computer Science class that discusses the history of computers, and the intro lecture seemed really interesting. Unfortunately, that's my only class so far.. Are people coming across overbooked CSci or technology departments elsewhere too, or is the U of MN just weird?

Of course, it is partly my fault for waiting a little to register for my classes. I hate registering, which doesn't exactly make me jump for joy whenever I have to do it.

Anyway, I've got at least another few days of headaches before I know if I'll end up working the entire semester or not.. Work is supposed to be the side thing, but I guess school might end up like that.. Oh well.

Maybe I can do some programming if I end up with gobs of extra time. My roommate has a program on his Journada that keeps track of his checks and other accounting information. It'd be nice if I could do something similar for the Palm. Not that I'd necessarily ever use it (I'm terrible about bookkeeping..)

Other than that, I thought I might wander around QuestionExchange a bit (if that place is still around). Maybe I can actually pick up some cash ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:05 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 02, 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....

Posted by mike at 08:15 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 03, 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..

Posted by mike at 07:31 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 06, 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 ;-)

Posted by mike at 04:38 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 08, 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.

Posted by mike at 11:28 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 10:13 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 08:30 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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 ;-)

Posted by mike at 09:02 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 53

Got a new monitor -- it's a 17" Trinitron FD, labeled as a `MicronPC.com'.. 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).

Posted by mike at 08:45 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 09:37 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 09:21 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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...

Posted by mike at 01:42 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 01:20 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 11:34 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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 ;-)

Posted by mike at 09:05 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 01, 2001

Advogato Entry 60

Finally decided to play with the CueCat that my family got from Wired. I was wondering why the decoding software that I was using just wouldn't work. Then I realized that the software doesn't directly touch the hardware and was reading cooked input. These programs don't like Dvorak layouts ;-) I guess that someone (maybe me, but I doubt I'll put that much effort into it) will have to re-write some of the software so it can play nicely with different keyboard layouts.. It'd also be nice if I could somehow power down that damn bright red light, but I think it's hardwired to always be on..

Anywho, not much else going on. Had dinner with some friends at Baker's Square and finally tried out the French Apple Cheesecake -- good stuff, though I think my favorite is still Caramel Apple á la Mode. Of course, I don't think it helped my (so far pretty vain) attempts at exercising. I'd really like to cut down on my soda-pop belly, but there's no way I can get myself to work out every day or every other day. I did manage to look up some `ab' exercises, so maybe I'll at least find a few minutes here and there to do those..


[root@3po][~]# reiserfsck /dev/hdc3

<-------------reiserfsck, 2000------------->
reiserfsprogs 3.x.0f
Will read-only check consistency of the partition
Will put log info to stderr
Do you want to run this program?[N/Yes] (note need to type Yes):Yes
Segmentation fault (core dumped)


Posted by mike at 07:30 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 61

Well, I got TV listings on my homepage again. They seem to be somewhat flaky, though, since the source of the data has been acting weird all day. I still have to figure out a way to sort the channels to be in numerical order, but that shouldn't take too long..

In the process of figuring out all of the right channel numbers, I discovered that NASA TV is running a Robot Wars-esque competition right now. It's pretty entertaining ;-)

Posted by mike at 11:03 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 04, 2001

Advogato Entry 62

Wasting my weekend again -- I should really make an attempt to study and do some homework. And do laundry. And eat. Well, OK, it's not hard to convince me to eat.

Anyway, I watched The Whole Nine Yards last night. Very funny movie. Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry make for a great combination. Unfortunately, that movie kept me up far too late. Oh well.

I can't wait to see The Lone Gunmen on Fox tonight. I hope it will be an entertaining show. I suspect my expectations are high, though, so there's a good chance I'll be disappointed.

Well, I'd better start doing stuff..

Posted by mike at 11:48 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 63


What the heck is wrong with me? Bah. Total lack of drive to do any sort of school work. It's accompanied by a significant drive to do other stuff like hack on some random Gnome panel applets (which doesn't display seconds for some reason...)

I have a sense that I'd feel a lot more motivated to do the stuff I need to do if I had a gf, but that would probably just make me want to do all sorts of other stuff (like actually getting away from the apartment more than once every week or so).


My homework doesn't look too bad. I just hope I can get it done before my brain turns to mush (which will happen in a few hours).

I'm getting a little tired of all of the censorship/DMCA/etc stuff that's getting posted on Slashdot.. That's what the Your Rights Online section is for dudes..

Posted by mike at 01:15 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 64

Today in my History of Computing class, the lecture was about the time in IBM's life when the company decided to unbundle software from hardware. The decision to unbundle was made in the mid-1960s, and a task force was put together in order to figure out exactly how to do it.

They weren't concerned about how to price the software. Mostly, they wanted to know how they could `protect' their software. They thought about patents, but at the time, they didn't even know if software could be patented. Also, they didn't feel it was a good idea to flood the Patent Office with SW patents.

Next, they thought about protecting their code by making it a trade secret. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well either, since once a trade secret is out in the open, it ceases to be a trade secret and no longer has any legal protection. It would be very hard to keep it secret, because of the large numbers of developers that would have to interact with it regularly.

Lastly, they considered copyrighting the stuff, but the folks at IBM thought that copyright protection was very weak and didn't provide for much. I'm not sure if my prof said exactly what they decided, but I suppose that all of this is why we have all sorts of crazy software licenses today.

Posted by mike at 06:09 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 07, 2001

Advogato Entry 65

It all started innocently enough. I wrote a simple message in reply to fears about advertisers going and changing homepages on Windoze boxes:

On Mon, 5 Mar 2001 xxx@xxx.umn.edu wrote:
> Something of interest: > > http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4931077.html I would think home page hijacking is an easy thing to fix. It would be a trivial task for a moderately talented programmer to write a program that periodically checks to see if the browser homepage has been changed. If I had a Windows box, I wouldn't hesitate to write such a utility and distribute it freely. Also, it may be possible to deter this activity by simply making the browser preferences file read-only. Certainly, this is more complicated than some people would like, but it's a miniscule task in the grand scheme of things..

So, today, I hear from my boss that his boss heard that I was going to go teach a class on programming now. What? I guess the note got forwarded all over the place, and now people think I'm ultra-talented or something.


I guess I shouldn't have said ``...wouldn't hesitate to write...'', since my job is not a programming job -- we're not supposed to do that (much) because the tech staff would get inundated with little programming requests. I suppose I should have made it more clear that it was not a job thing, more a personal one. And I suspect that I would have had to have been bitten by this before really wanting to write such a utility..

Posted by mike at 11:31 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 66

If everyone admitted their `illegal' copying, and all marched to the police stations to be put in jail, what would happen? ``I'm sorry officer, I helped my Mom copy her favorite CD to a tape so she could listen to it in her car..''

Posted by mike at 07:26 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 10, 2001

Advogato Entry 67


[mike@3po][~]$ ls -l /dev/cdrom
lrwxrwxrwx    1 root     root     2923625285389647875 Dec  8 02:00 /dev/cdrom -> hdd
Posted by mike at 05:20 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 68

fucking Linux fucking filesystems fucking can't fucking crash fucking sanely fucking...

And Fucking ReiserFuckingFS doesn't have a fucking fsck that works.

The only way I can fsck my Reiser partition right now is to copy it's contents to another (ext2) partition, format, and copy everything back..

Seeing the kupdate process with a dreaded `D' flag when doing `ps ax' doesn't exactly make me feel wonderful either. Lots of things stop working after that, like sync and shutdown.


I want to go to sleep...

Posted by mike at 11:08 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 69


Well, I managed to move most of my files off of my ReiserFS partiton. I reformatted -- probably good to have a RFS 3.6 partition to use with kernel 2.4.x, as opposed to the 3.5 version that I'd carried over from the 2.2.x days.. Maybe that's why reiserfsck was crashing.

Anyway, I discovered that I had a number of music CDs that I hadn't ripped yet. grip is a great tool -- the thing I like best is that you can rip a CD, eject it, let the computer keep compressing the files, and start ripping another CD. Right now, I have about 90 tracks queued up to be compressed. Too bad the Vorbis encoder isn't superfast yet ;-)

Of course, the computer really chugs when it's ripping and compressing and doing other stuff. I'll have to stop ripping for a while when I do some work later and let oggenc catch up..

Posted by mike at 09:56 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 70


Well, guess what? grip managed to cause my ReiserFS partition to die again. I guess reformatting didn't work. Next time, I'm trying Global File System instead.

Posted by mike at 04:45 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 13, 2001

Advogato Entry 71


Isn't misspelling `grammar' just about as bad as misspelling `spelling'?

Well, my computer and I have been having an on again, off again relationship lately. Something is flaky when it comes to the filesystems.. I want to get a new motherboard -- one that has known-good IDE(/SCSI) chipsets. Of course, if I'm going to get a new motherboard, I'd really like to get a really kickass one, like a dual athlon system (which is still vaporware, if I remember right).

Anyway, ripping CDs is a pretty scary thing for me to do. It has been the source of the most crashes for me. Really annoying.

Well, I'd better get going and see if I can get any work done.

Moments Later...

[mike@3po][~/mp3]$ ls
Segmentation fault


/me kicks himself for not yet replacing ReiserFS with Global File System

Posted by mike at 09:34 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 14, 2001

Advogato Entry 72

I tried Nautilus 1.0. I was actually fairly impressed. I had tried earlier versions of Nautilus and was not so happy. I think I really need to turn off the image scanning bit, since that's what really seems to slow it down and make it use tons of memory. I'm still not using it as my desktop, though.

Once Mozilla, Nautilus, and Evolution stabilize, my desktop is going to go through it's greatest transformation since I started using Gnome (way back around 0.13! ;-) Heck, it might even be the greatest change since I went from OS/2 to Linux.

A few things I noticed about Nautilus:

  • The desktop icons do not move down to get out from under a panel at the top of the screen.
  • There doesn't appear to be any way to configure the Mozilla component (I really don't like serif fonts when browsing, and I like to turn off underlined links).
  • There doesn't appear to be any way to configure the text viewing widget (when viewing text, I like monospaced fontns)
  • The background drawing system doesn't appear to work with programs like xplanet.
  • I'd like a little more control over exactly how the files are sorted. For example, when viewing icons by Type, the ordering is pretty wacky. Nautilus appears to sort things by MIME type, but the types themselves don't appear to be sorted at all. It would be good to have something where media files are grouped, compressed files are grouped, documents are grouped, etc.
  • Also, the windows don't seem to remember much information, like size.. I like it when a program remembers how big it's windows were from the last time (well, usually -- sometimes it just makes problems).
  • For the Intermediate and/or Advanced users, it'd be great to have a button on the toolbar that would toggle the inclusion of dotfiles in the file listings
  • If I'm going to use Nautilus to browse the web a lot, I really need something equivalent to Netscape's Personal Toolbar, where I can put my frequently used bookmarks

I also tried the latest Evolution snapshot. I was happy to see some GPG/PGP support. Unfortunately, the composer component seems to be broken, so I can read messages, but can't write them. I also don't know if there is GPG support for sending messages. I think the broken composer is just a configuration error on my system somewhere -- I just have to find it. Evolution still has problems, though it hasn't reached the fabled 1.0:

  • It doesn't remember window sizes either.
  • It took me forever to see that you configure the message viewer widget (GtkHTML?) through Gnome's Control Center, so there should be a link to that in Evolution's menus.
  • Back when the composer did work, I don't think it could from .signatures that were named pipes.
  • Evolution also displays my signature incorrectly, and I need to figure out why that is..

Mozilla is pretty good these days, but it isn't exactly a speed demon. In comparison, any version of Netscape is blazing fast. I guess the biggest problem is that Netscape seems to handle a heavily loaded system much better than Mozilla does. If you're compiling a kernel in the background, it feels icky (to me) to be running Mozilla instead of Netscape..

Anyway, I'm hoping to move away from Netscape as my main application. I'd like to use Mozilla as a browser or a widget (such as within Nautilus) and Evolution for mail/calendaring. I just wish Mozilla used Gtk+/Gnome widgets rather than those ugly XPWidgets (or whatever they're called). Then my desktop would finally look consistent..

Posted by mike at 08:41 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 73


Well, finally dumped ReiserFS and installed GFS. I used CVS, since the 4.0 version of GFS didn't have a patch for Linux 2.4.2. Hopefully that wasn't a dumb idea.

Still, I managed to crash the system while I was copying the data onto the newly-formatted partition -- I probably shouldn't have tried starting up X at the same time :-/ I just hope that GFS works better than Reiser did. At least Reiser actually had a fsck utility, even though it didn't work all that well.. GFS doesn't have a consistency-checking utility, AFAIK. Hopefully, that means that they put some more effort into making sure the code worked right ;-) If not, I only have to walk about a mile to show my distaste to the developers in person.

They do appear to have code for Sparc/UltraSparc systems, so maybe it wouldn't be an entirely bad idea to make a real cluster at work where all of the databases can be on a cluster of disks accessed through a big SCSI bus... Of course, our Sun boxes run some proprietary software, so it probably wouldn't work so well, not to mention the fact that there probably aren't any Linux utilities for managing the RAID arrays..

There's no doubt in my mind though -- if you want to run a clustered system, use Linux.

I'm kind of curious, though -- is GFS a good replacement for NFS? It's a journaled filesystem, and each client needs its own journal, so that may cause some problems. I suppose you could just make a lot of fairly small journals -- 16MB or something (default is 128MB, IIRC). I guess security might be an issue -- if you get a root compromise on a client to an NFS server, it's not a huge deal if you have things set up right. With GFS, an attacker could really do some damage.

'kay -- if any of that doesn't make sense, blame it on me being up way too late once again..

Posted by mike at 11:38 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 74

Hmm.. People don't seem to be posting as many diary entries lately. Is everybody on sabbatical?

Guess what my computer's going to be doing while I sleep tonight?

[root@3po][~]# badblocks -o badblocks-hdc3.txt -svw /dev/hdc3 44403660

That's right! It'll be checking for bad blocks on my hard disk -- and it probably won't find any!

I've now tried three different filesystems in as many days. First was Reiser, which I already knew was choking. Second at bat was GFS. It seemed to be doing alright, but then strange things began to happen -- I'd start up a new song, and it was like the file had overlapped another. XMMS would start up in the middle of another song, often one that was nearby in the playlist (and therefore probably nearby on the filesystem). I even wrote up a little perl script for testing stuff:


my ($orig) = "/usr/music";
my ($test) = "/media/music";
my ($goodout) = "good.txt";
my ($badout) = "bad.txt";

open (GOOD, ">$goodout");
open (BAD, ">$badout");

chdir ($orig);
open (ORIG, "find . -type f|");
@origlines = <ORIG>;
close (ORIG);

my ($numgood, $numbad) = (0, 0);
my ($starttime) = time ();
my ($eta, $etas, $etam, $etah, $etastr);

for $i (0 .. $#origlines)
 $file = $origlines[$i];
 chomp ($file);
 $file =~ s|^\./||;
 if (system ("cmp", "-s", "$orig/$file", "$test/$file") == 0)
   print (GOOD "$test/$file\n");
   print (BAD "$test/$file\n");
 $goodpercent = $numgood/$#origlines * 100;
 $badpercent = $numbad/$#origlines * 100;
 $totalpercent = ($i+1)/$#origlines * 100;
 $time = time();
 if (($time - $starttime != 0) && ($totalpercent != 0))
   $elapsed = $time - $starttime;
   # estimated total time
   $est_total = int $elapsed/($totalpercent/100);
   # estimated time remaining
   $eta = $est_total - $elapsed;
   $etas = $eta % 60;
   $etam = (($eta-$etas)/60) % 60;
   $etah = int $eta / 3600;
   $etastr = sprintf ("%02d:%02d:%02d", $etah, $etam, $etas);
 printf ("Good: %d [%.2f%]  Bad: %d [%.2f%]  Total: %d/%d [%.2f%]  ".
         "ETA: %s\r",
         $numgood, $goodpercent, $numbad, $badpercent, $i, $#origlines,
         $totalpercent, $etastr);

close (GOOD);
close (BAD);

print ("\nDone.\n");

Anyway, I hope badblocks does find something, otherwise I have a bad drive that only shows it's true colors depending on the phase of the moon. On a higher note, I might just be able to lug my computer over to Sistina and have them take a look.

Then again, I should probably restore the original CPU clockspeed to this thing. I'm running an AMD K6-2 at 392 MHz with a 112MHz bus. The IDE controller, AFAICT, is running at 37MHz.

Posted by mike at 08:37 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 16, 2001

Advogato Entry 75


Well, I haven't gotten around to running my system at it's normal clockspeed yet (350MHz w/100 MHz FSB and 33MHz IDE), though I did run at 400MHz. The numbers seem to break down like this: 400MHz CPU clock, 100MHz front side bus, 33MHz IDE subsystem. Previously, the CPU was running at 392MHz with a 112MHz front side bus and a 37MHz IDE subsystem. I actually booted the system once by passing the `idebus=50', which might have set the IDE subsystem to run at 50MHz.

Did any of it make a difference? Not really. If anything, the errors are now less consistent than ever. Then again, they may not have been very consistent in the first place.

My motherboard is a FIC VA-503+..

Oh joy -- I just did a Google search on `corruption va-503+'. Guess what came up? `The WORST Board Ever'


Not that I should necessarily trust NBCi user opinions, but his experience is fairly similar to mine. I haven't had any major trouble with my video card, though running X does appear to make the system more prone to faults. I cannot burn CDs while in X -- they get corrupted, even though I have a pretty decent SCSI burner that has a 2MB buffer. CDs don't burn with 100% reliability in console mode, but it's better than when in X.

I once tried hooking up a USB mouse through a USB dongle thingy (this motherboard is half-n-half AT/ATX, so it doesn't have the rear riser with USB built in). I must have connected it backwards, since the mouse ceased to function after that..

The IDE controller is a VT82C586, my mention of which once to the linux-kernel mailing list made one developer cringe in a reply to me.

Needless to say, I'm in a fairly bad mood right now (playing some Weird Al a little while ago helped a bit), and I'm wondering when/if any dual-Athlon boards will ever become available..

Well, the roommates rented Nurse Betty.. Hopefully it will be good.

Posted by mike at 08:50 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 76

Hmm.. I suppose I should install XF4.0.3 pretty soon, though I should wait until Matrox releases a driver for it.

I bought a Matrox card to get away from the `proprietary driver' model that came with NVidia cards. I guess Matrox isn't a whole lot better, though I only need to use their binary HALLib when I want to do dual-head stuff. I suspect this is because of Macrovision and other licensed stuff on the second head. We can't have those filthy Linux users playing DVDs now can we?

Of course, somebody has figured out how to display video on the second head anyway...

Well, I've had a very strange week or two. My sleep schedule has gone way out of whack (not that it was very good to begin with -- my roommate snores a lot before 1 AM, so even if I get to bed at 10, it doesn't help).

I'm debating whether I should just buy a new motherboard/processor now (hopefully a DDR-capable board and a fast proc), or if I should try to wait until the fabled AMD 770 chipset-based boards emerge from the mists of vaporware.

I suppose something I could do is buy a fast processor with a decent but inexpensive motherboard, then buy another processor and a good dual board when the 770-based boards actually show up.

Spring Break is coming next week. Not that I'm doing anything but going home, though. I'll be glad that I don't have cable -- it won't take any effort to avoid MTV ;-)

Posted by mike at 07:38 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 77

I Will Crush You!

Earlier today, I got a message from CrushLink. I have a secret admirer! Well, maybe. It's basically a viral e-mail harvesting system. I was in an odd enough mood (and, well, my address was in their system anyway), so I decided to try to take a stab at guessing who this person was. Little did I know that I had to add 5 more addresses to their list before they'd tell me anything. To top it off, they even insult you once you've entered 5 addresses -- ``You need help.'' or something to that effect. More than likely, my address was just a filler address for someone else.

Wake Up!

Anyway, didn't do too much today. I got up fairly early for once -- and I think I found a few good reasons for actually getting up at ~7 AM. Batman Beyond is on WB at 7, and Comedy Central usually starts a movie then as well. If I'm feeling sleepy, I can just wait until The Daily Show comes on at 9 ;-)

Posted by mike at 06:12 PM Central | Daily Show , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 78

Would you like a free taco?

Posted by mike at 08:17 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 79





Posted by mike at 05:40 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 80

Well, I'm finally on break. Hopefully I'll have a good week.

Today, I did some research on the FM radio stations in the Twin Cities area. The results are moderately interesting.

Of course, once I was done, I found this stuff from NorthPine (still haven't figured out who they are...)

Posted by mike at 04:30 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 81

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig

I'm back at home now. I'll be here for at least a few days. I found a new computer in my bedroom. No, it's not a gift for me or anything -- I think it'll basically be the Windows box where Dad can do his taxes and where Mom can program her sewing machine cartridges. Of course, I'm trying to add everything I need to connect with my Linux box up at my apartment.

This is actually a good thing, since I need some experience setting up stuff like Cygwin and some sort of X server for Windows boxes at work (I don't have one -- I have a spare computer I could install it on, but it's only a P133 with 32 or 64MB of RAM...)

I was pretty surprised to see that Cygwin comes with OpenSSH 2.5.1p2. I also installed the experimental PuTTY that comes with X forwarding support. Unfortunately, the only X server I have right now is WeirdX, which runs extremely slowly on Win98. It looks like Cygnus has done some good work on XFree, so I'm going to try out their implementation soon.

Posted by mike at 11:07 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 31, 2001

Advogato Entry 82

Spring Break wasn't that great -- of course, all I did was go home and get sick :-p

The `energy crunch' that the US is experiencing these days has made me worry about what role I might be playing in the whole scenario, especially considering that I'm in the computing field. I mean, how do the numbers break down anyway? What is using the biggest chunk of electricity these days? What is burning the most fuel? I know the United States is way ahead of everyone else in terms of energy used per capita (though I'm curious where Japan is), so we should really be the ones trying to figure this out, IMHO..

Interesting that this DoE article shows some interesting trends. Petroleum consumption is now the highest in 20 years (yeah, we actually used less gas for a while), and natural gas usage dropped around 1970 only to come back up to that level a few years ago. Coal and nuclear usage has climbed steadily for the past 25 years or so.

Interestingly, the consumption of electricity is only about 1/3 efficient. Losses incurred when producing and distributing the electricity cause 2/3 of the energy to disappear into thin air. However, electricity that does make it to the home is on a bee-line to overtake natural gas as the biggest chunk of residential/commercial usage. Making electrical devices more efficient is certainly important. Producing and distributing the electricity more efficiently would also help. There are nuclear plants out there that produce gigawatts of electricity. However, since the losses incurred in distributing the electricity are so great, it would seem a better idea to make many more small plants (of course, that might make things less efficient in other ways). Coal is the fuel used most in generating electricity, so making it clean and efficient is important.

Anyway, just some random thoughts induced by the fact that I had to replace three light bulbs today (actually, I need to replace more, but that was all of the 60-watt bulbs I had..) I don't understand why they only last 1000 hours, which ends up being something like two months in a lot of cases. If the lights in my apartment run 6 hours a day on average, one will fail each week. :-p

Posted by mike at 02:54 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 83

Fatboy Slim, ``Weapon of Choice'' -- the video for that is awesome. Hey! It's Christopher Walken! Dancing! LOL!

Hell, I'd buy that video..

I'd say more, but I really need to get to class today...

Posted by mike at 07:46 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 03, 2001

Advogato Entry 84

Fear the Almighty Bush!

Heh, I think that headline graphic was supposed to strike fear in my heart, but it only made me start laughing...

I wonder if Comedy Central's ``That's My Bush!'' will be any good..

Posted by mike at 06:05 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 85

Blah.. I've been in a bad mood for quite a while. I felt a bit better these last few days, though. I think it must have all started when I noticed how rampantly my computer was corrupting files. It's kind of like having a sick pet, I suppose. I've changed clock speeds to something a little more standard, disabled DMA, and fiddled with the BIOS settings a bit. I think I can play with the BIOS some more, but I don't know how much of an effect that will have.

After Spring Break, I had a really crummy week -- I had absolutely no motivation to do homework. My computer didn't help me much, since it just printed out garbage one morning. I've tried to turn myself around, catch up on homework and reading and start on my work early, but I don't know if I'll survive this semester grade-wise.

For the first time in years, I'm actually hanging out with friends that don't live twenty feet away from me. I just don't know if I'll be able to stay in college due to my stunning lack of motivation. I've got a decent job. I guess I'm not really tied to it, though my boss would hate to see me leave (he needs the help).

I've been writing down a lot of stuff for work, trying to organize my thoughts about what we're planning to do this summer (since many projects end up getting pushed to the summer months, when students aren't taxing the systems as much).

Well, anyway, I don't want to dwell on my depressing thoughts too much -- If I think about it too much, I just shut down. Better to just get my work done.

Posted by mike at 09:31 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 16, 2001

Advogato Entry 86

So much stuff I want to spend money on.. I want to go out and get a new processor and motherboard, since my current board is behaving badly (VIA MVP3), though I still haven't really figured out why. If I have energy tonight, I might go and try removing my SCSI card, my SBLive!, and swapping my Matrox G400 for a PCI video card, just to see if it changes anything..

I've played with some BIOS settings, and I just read about a few more I should probably try, though people have mostly been talking about Athlon chipsets, while the MVP3 is a K6 chipset. (PCI Delay Transaction: off, PCI Master Read Caching: off) I also heard that some people had better luck compiling the kernel for 586, rather than K7. I've been compiling 2.4 for K6, so maybe that would help.

It would be extremely fun to get a dual-Athlon with DDR memory. I've wanted a dual system for a long time, though maybe there isn't much point to it. Also, these new processors use a lot of electricity (~70 Watts) and therefore throw off a lot of heat. Therefore, I'd need to get a new case and probably a new power supply. Hopefully my hard drives are OK. Hmm.. If I get a DDR motherboard, I'll have to get some DDR RAM.

It'd be cool if I could also pick up an HDTV tuner card. With the prices of actual HDTVs, I won't be able to buy one for a while, but putting down ~$400 for a PCI card wouldn't be so bad.

I should also get an Uninterruptible Power Supply -- The power just blinked off for a second the other day, forcing me to go through some annoying fscks..

Let me take a look at the local prices..

  • Socket A Motherboard (w/DDR): $200
  • 1.33 GHz Athlon: $300
  • 256MB DDR 2100 RAM: $170
  • Case and Power Supply: $75

And I can get a WinTV-HD card online for $385. Of course, none of this includes shipping or tax.

Without the HDTV card (which probably doesn't work in Linux anyway), that comes to about $740. Add tax, about $785.

Posted by mike at 01:47 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 87

Hmm.. This thought has been brewing for a while. I have slowly come to the realization that my mind can only handle one stream of words at a time. Well, I can handle more than one, but I can only interpret one at a time. This is why I can't talk on the phone while watching TV, or read a book when music is blaring (music with words, mind you).

Maybe this is why `classical' music supposedly helps people think. I really like to have music when I'm studying or trying to think, though if I start paying attention to words, everything pretty much comes crashing to a halt.

Anyway, I'm sure a lot of other people have come to the same realization already.

Posted by mike at 07:43 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 88

I posted my first article moments ago. It started off as a diary entry, but I figured it was long enough and actually structured enough to become an article. I suppose it's mostly just a rant, but maybe it will spur on some intelligent thought (it begs the question, was it an intelligent thought in the first place?)

Posted by mike at 08:54 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 89

Random ramblings..

I've been thinking about my article and the replies to it. Maybe this is why I got confused about my major -- Computer Science. All of my classes have been dealing with stuff I really don't care much about. How many times do I have to write a routine to integrate a function, or sort data into a binary tree? I'm much more interested in getting computers to do more work for people, not making programmers do the same thing over and over.

People keep bringing up the fact that Linux is largely based on 30 year old technology. Obviously, that isn't entirely true, since Unix systems have robust networking capabilities (though TCP/IP is still 20 years old or so). Still, we have to put it in perspective. When a corporation makes an investment of many millions of dollars, they generally expect whatever they paid for to last. Today, airlines fly planes that are decades old, though no plane that old is still flying in its original configuration. Strip mining companies have huge machines that last the lifetime of their operations, and those machines are often updated with new sensors and other technology as time goes by.

Unix is much like the framework of these massive machines, a skeleton on which everything else hangs. Sometimes, a major component is changed or replaced, but the basic framework is still there.

It can take a decade or more to design and build a new airplane, ship, or building. When people want to create new operating systems or environments, the same care must be taken. This is difficult to handle, since computer hardware progresses so rapidly.

I suppose I should be careful, because some very complex things have been designed and built in a very short amount of time. Builders of cruise ships can go from an empty wharf to a gleaming vessel in a matter of months. They accomplish it through componentization. The same idea has worked in the past with software projects, but software often has some very complex interfaces between components, and I'm not sure if anyone has figured out how to make that easier.

Part of the problem on Unix is that some components seem to be absolutely huge, and that many of them barely interconnect to each other at all. Many people don't realize how extraordinary the simple Unix pipe system is. If that were extended (as was apparently done in the Plan 9 and Inferno operating systems), some very interesting stuff could be done by basically just stringing commands together. When we think of building a program out of components today, we generally think of libraries and functions that are compiled into or otherwise linked to a binary program file.

What if you could combine GUI elements with just a command line (or, at worst, a description in XML)? Make a new e-mail program in hours or days. Building a GUI interface to your database would be just as fast as building a Web interface.

I think that's what people are trying to do with Bonobo and other component architectures. However, I believe that a lot of people are being hampered by their operating systems, be it Unix or Windows (I'm not sure where MacOS fits in anymore...). Fortunately, operating systems of today are flexible enough that many of these things can be grafted on, but just as it would be very hard to retrofit a 747 to do Mach 3, it will be hard for Unix and Windows to keep up.

Update a moment later

It seems to me that the reason Web interfaces are taking off so much is that web pages can be powered by scripts that can take advantage of componentization that is much easier to use than what you'd get by programming in C or almost anything else these days. When you're running a script on a Unix system, you can pipe data here, there, and everywhere. Still, even the web systems are pretty crufty..

Posted by mike at 09:37 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 23, 2001

Advogato Entry 90

My first `real' job was at a printing company in my hometown. When I started there, my job was to take a bunch of old 286, 386, 486, and Pentium systems and shuffle them around so we only had 486s and Pentiums. In the beginning, almost everyone (except the programmers and network admins) had diskless workstations that booted off the network. It put a heavy strain on the servers, though, because each person had their own copy of Windows 3.1 (oh, before I forget, this was in 1997). Many of the workstations (the ones out on the floor, for instance) just ran DOS and a scripting system called Metaview.

The irony of it was that even though we were moving forward by installing hard disks and putting a (mostly) 32-bit operating system (Win95) on these computers, we were in fact taking a large step backwards in the ease-of-administration department. Since most of the systems were similar, you could log into almost any of them with your regular username/password. When we installed the OS locally, that was no longer the case. Well, you could do some stuff, but you didn't have your familiar desktop and other configuration information.

In businesses and other large organizations, we see the same problem. There are people out there trying to fix it, such as Sun and IBM, with their thin-client systems, but I don't think enough people are seeing these problems in their proper light. Microsoft seems to be ignoring the problem, but then again, I don't really like to keep watch over what Microsoft is doing (besides, it's a pretty huge company at this point).

I'm not sure if Linux is the solution, at least not the Linux we see today. IMHO, the Unix user/group model is a little too simplistic. I think a larger hierarchy system might be in order. Of course, the more complex your user/group system, the less likely people are to use it. Hell, the Unix user/group system is usually not put to its fullest potential. Beyond that, I think a good caching network filesystem would be good for client systems (for example, when you run Matlab, it would copy the files it used to the local disk, so they will load up quickly the next time).

Well, it all depends on how much money and time people want to spend dealing with this stuff..

Update, a few hours later

Hmm, maybe I'm really looking for Plan 9 or a similar OS. I remember that I gave Inferno a half-hearted try a few years ago, but it would seem to me that it would be best to use an operating system that has been largely designed to work with the C programming language (well, plus others, but..)

It seems there are some really good ideas out there regarding distributed computing.. Makes Beowulf look really lame, IMHO..

Linux has been a really good system for me. However, I started using it because it was stable, 32-bit, and because it supported my SoundBlaster 16 (when OS/2 did not). That's not enough of a reason for me anymore. I want an environment that helps me to collaborate with others by allowing me to easily and securely share data and messages, keeps my data, documents, and media files organized, and helps me remember when I have homework due ;-)

Posted by mike at 10:42 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 91

So, Linux and other Unix-like systems suck. They just suck less than Windows and many other commercial OSes.

Allow me to qualify my statements.. Unix has had many technologies tacked onto it. Since it started its life in a manner somehow resembling Open Source/Free Software, it was easy to change the source and add new things. However, the core ideas of Unix did not really change.. Networking is fairly well integrated, but it is obvious that the graphical system (X Windows) was duct-taped to the side of the system.

Now, I just have to find more people that feel the same way.

Oh yeah, I put down some ideas on what I think a next-generation operating system should be like. Actually, my ideas went beyond the operating system itself and into the area of the `operating environment,' through which the user interacts with the system. On so many OSes, the developers forgot that people actually need to use the system. Hopefully the next big thing will address those issues properly..

Posted by mike at 08:19 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 92


Well, I re-installed RedHat 7.0 on my box. I wanted to try Debian on my box, but I didn't feel like going through the configuration bits associated with a Debian install, plus I didn't have a Debian CD readily available. I thought about getting RedHat 7.1, but it seems that everybody is heavily bogging down any servers that have it, and many servers don't even have complete mirrors.

Anyway, I'm installing Ximian Gnome 1.4 at the moment, which might not be the greatest idea in the world. Annoyingly, these installer programs open up the RPM database while they do their thing, and never close it unless they finish.. So much for querying the database for other info.. Kind of lame.

Ugh.. Why doesn't my Backspace key work? For some reason, I have to ^H my way through X Windows. Must be because I use the Dvorak layout.. No sane person would release an OS with such a flaw..

My VIA chipset bugginess (the reason for the re-install) only seems to show up heavily in Linux 2.4, though I think that some variations on Linux 2.2 could get it to show up to, such as when I added in ReiserFS support. Anyway, I just have to be careful from now on. I just hope it gets better...

Well, I should really roll into bed, though I'd really like to get X working with Xinerama again before then, just so my regular desktop will greet me in the morning.. Still..

Posted by mike at 11:17 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 93


Well, I got RedHat 7.0 back in working order. It's been pretty much impossible to access RedHat mirrors. The one I've been able to access regularly (ftp.rutgers.edu) has not been terribly fast, and it only has packages for 7.1, none of the 7.0 updates. Hey, that's what package management is for ;-)

Anyway, I've got X 4.0.3 running, along with Ximian Gnome 1.4. I managed to update some important things that actually talk to the network (ntp, ssh, X), and I had to update glibc to get some Guile apps working right, but things seem okay now. I just wish it hadn't taken so long.

Red Carpet isn't working yet -- the servers are too busy for it to download anything, even just the channel information. While I was dealing with the Ximian installer, though, I was wondering why these apps want to put a lock on the RPM database for the entire time that they are open? Certainly, someone could come in and change things while the program was downloading stuff, but the locking mechanism is so heavy that I can't even query what packages are installed and other useful info.. Oh well.

I tried using Nautilus. Heh. I couldn't even open a window, though maybe that's because I had an older glibc.. Hmm. Now, I'm trying to fix some special keymappings I cooked up with the extra buttons on my keyboard. I use the Wake, Sleep, and Power buttons to move forward a track, backward a track, and to start the music playing. The Pause button is what I use for stop.. Anyway, X is seeing the keycode and putting up the right XKeysym, but it's not giving the right button name.. Oh well, I'll get it working again sooner or later.

Anyway, one of my female friends called my apartment this afternoon -- I guess she's going to be an aunt soon. Of course, she also has homework to do tonight (30 page paper), so hopefully that news won't prevent her from getting things done..

Speaking of getting things done, why the hell am I writing this instead of doing my homework?

Posted by mike at 03:11 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 94

I think maybe I should put together a simple system (probably w/ an SQL database and a PHP front-end) where owners of troublesome VIA motherboards can go and catalog their hardware. Maybe there's a common thread somewhere.

Unfortunately, I don't think I'd have anywhere to put it. I could run it on my box, but I don't want to worry about someone hacking my system, etc. Also, I'm not sure if my ISP would get mad at me for doing that. I never signed anything terms-of-service agreement with my ISP, it's just a connection I get through my building..

Oh well, the traffic probably wouldn't be significant enough for them to care. If I was serving tons of music, OTOH...

Anyway, I guess I'll see if I can set something up.

Posted by mike at 10:21 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 28, 2001

Advogato Entry 95

Well, I haven't been doing much lately. I should have done some homework today. Heck, I should have done some of it a week ago. I'm really not enjoying my schoolwork this semester, and it looks like that will be evident in my grades. Oh well, in two weeks, I will be able to spend time at work fixing real problems and putting together real solutions. I enjoy that so much better than running fifty tests to see which algorithm is better at finding the integral of a particular function..

I would like to have a less stressful school year next time around -- I want to actually get a life this fall. Who knows if that will happen. Still, it seems that college is a last best chance to get a girlfriend before I wander out into the real world. Speaking of which, my roommates, another friend, and I have all been getting to know this one girl lately. It's pretty weird for me, as we're all competing for her attention. My friend has been hanging around with her the most, though he's going to move into the apartment in the fall. Just a weird situation that I've never been in before -- I just hope it won't bring out the worst in us..

Posted by mike at 08:55 PM Central | Erik , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 01, 2001

Advogato Entry 96

I ended up being pretty helpful in my LUGs today.. I guess the questions being asked have just been about things I know.. Anyway, hopefully I've actually been helpful ;-)

gweather is funky -- it's behavior is different lately. I had submitted a patch a while back to get weather radar images directly from National Weather Service servers, but I guess nobody liked it. I also made a patch that would include Wind Chill calculations. *shrug* They added radar images from weather.com, but they're apparently pointing at images that are from January 5th. Oops.

It'd be really cool if that app could be developed further, into something like WeatherBug, only less gimmicky and without all of the ads ;-) Since I live in Minnesota, where the weather is always changing, it'd be nice if it supported weather watches and warnings, but who knows if that'll ever happen. Historical data would be cool too -- if you could get some simple graphs of the temperature in the last day or week, it might be useful. (sidenote -- is anyone ever going to write a replacement system for Gnuplot, or have I just not been paying attention? Gnuplot is somewhat misnamed, for those wondering -- it's not GNU.)

Actually, the best thing that could happen would be if a good system could be set up for multicasting weather data from the National Weather Service to everyone who wants it.. I know they do that for some people that already have dedicated connections and special software, but it would be cool if it could be on a larger scale. The NWS actually spews out a few gigs each day, IIRC. Of course, most of that data is useless to the layperson. I suppose it would be best to create some specialized `packages' that include a few radars, the watch/warning messages for a state or three, and so on.

Anyway, on to other stuff..

I noticed a while back that GTK+ has problems recognizing the size of my second head. Menus and things can drop down into the `blank' space below it (my first head is 1600x1200, the second is 1280x1024, so there's a 1280x176 area of dead space). Of course, all of the toolkits I've seen have problems with it..

I'm still trying to figure out how to properly set up a music server/database. I want it to be easy to find the music you want, I want to properly credit the people who made the music. For instance, `South Side' by Moby and featuring Gwen Stefani should go where, exactly? Should a search for Propellerheads return results where they remixed a song, rather than creating something original? How do I avoid counting songs twice, especially when just making a simple playlist for XMMS? Also, how easy is it to automate the `beautifying' of filenames and ID3 (etc.) tags? What genre does this song fit in?

Maybe someone has found an answer to all of my questions, but I kind of doubt it.. I don't know why I'm anal retentive about my music collection. I just am. Of course, I'd also really like it if I could find a very good DJ program that could properly choose the music for me. It never ends..

I added a few quips to bugzilla.gnome.org. Hope people like them..

Oh yeah, I've been considering sending a note to LKML regarding some funny behavior with named pipes. My .signature file is a named pipe, so I can get random sigs attached to my e-mail messages. Strangely, in kernel 2.4 (and late 2.3.x as well, IIRC), the signature will occasionally `double up' -- I'll get four lines of signature (normal), and then those four lines repeated again. If you've been having trouble with named pipes in 2.4.x, this may be why. Of course, the program that powers the whole mess is a piece of junk that I wrote in two hours, so I suppose I should really re-write it first.

Posted by mike at 09:21 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 97

kgb: I've seen my computer lock up many times with xscreensaver, though I haven't tried RedHat 7.1. Sometimes, it was because I was running OpenGL stuff. Other times, it just randomly happened. I think I can still blame it on my kooky VIA chipset.

My system has RedHat 7.0 on it now. I've been thinking about trying one of the new 2.4.x kernels, just to see if the VIA chipset problems have been resolved at all, but I've been a bit scared to do that. Also, my build environment doesn't appear to be set up right yet, as the last time I tried, the compile died pretty quickly..

I see that AMD is continuing to drop prices on their chips, so hopefully a T-bird will be coming my way soon. I just hope the chipsets are better on the newer systems.

Anyway, I just got out of a meeting for work where there was a presentation of our new ``data warehouse.'' It's an Oracle server that contains all sorts of stuff regarding what goes on here at the University. Course evaluations, some scheduling data, etc. It'll be really interesting. My job is to help manage the box it runs on.. Hopefully we will be able to keep it secure and properly backed up.

Still, the presentation (using Oracle's Discoverer) gave me a bunch of ideas. Man, I wish I could have gotten into a database class -- that's so much more interesting to me than compilers and numerical computation stuff.. Of course, I'd mostly just apply that knowledge to creating a good music database.

I think, though, that the presentation showed me how good it can be to have well-structured databases. Is a simple database of ID3v1 tags any good? Hell no! Those tags don't contain enough information to be very useful. Heck, you can't even fit the names of some bands, songs, or albums in them. ``The Presidents of the United States of '' Hmm..

I saw that they had applied the idea of aliases to course evaluations. Do you remember how to spell your professor's name? For some reason, those misspellings were put into the database verbatim. It can make the data get really messed up, but aliases seem like a good way to clean it up. Of course, it does seem like the Micros~1 way of doing things (sorry about that pseudo-pun..)

Anyway, I think I'll have to do something like that, just so I can keep my music like ``Amos, Tori'' and my roommate can have his set up like ``Tori Amos''..

I think I'll have to find myself a good SQL book.. I should learn more about transactions, too. If I understand correctly, they make database operations more atomic, so client program code doesn't have to do as many multiple queries.. They can kind of be stacked together, making the database do more of the work, cutting down on traffic between client and server, among other things.

Just 8 days until my last final of the semester!

Posted by mike at 01:31 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 03, 2001

Advogato Entry 98

Hmm.. Can I put my DNA under GNU GPL? I suppose I have to figure out how to publish it first ;-) Actually, I don't think I'd like a GPL-like license for my DNA -- I'm not too big on the idea of modifying it, except through natural processes. Verbatim distribution permitted..

I'm just trying to figure out how to combat Microsoft's funny behavior lately. Perhaps a big campaign -- posters, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. all bearing the slogan ``Democracy is Open Source.''

I like that one.

Posted by mike at 06:16 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 99

I'm discovering that a girl I know is basically turning out to be a muse for me. Unfortunately, I have no control over when she shows up (she's a girlfriend of a friend), and thus my motivation is as chaotic as ever. Ugh.. So confusing. If only life came with a manual page.

LIFE(8)          Universe Programmer's Manual            LIFE(8)


      live; die

      Life is spawned.  It does stuff, then dies.

      It's difficult to get working right.  This manual could be
      spruced up a bit, too.

Anyway, I had a good day, though. Went to the local LUG's meeting on OpenNMS. It looks like a really nice tool, but you really need some horsepower to run it. It uses Java, which is part of the problem. The good thing is that it seems to be pretty portable -- you just need a few hundred megs of RAM, a fairly large hard drive, and a few hundred MHz. I think I'm going to stay with Netsaint for now.

I hung around with a friend from High School for most of the afternoon. We discussed a lot of stuff, though it largely centered around computers. I don't think I've `geeked out' for a while, so that was nice. He's having trouble finding a job, though I guess he's not very sure if he wants to get a job doing computer stuff.

He totally agreed with me that it appears that one problem with electricity generation in this country is that it's too centralized -- something like 2/3rds of the electricity evaporates before it reaches customers. Decentralizing power is probably better -- no need to worry about the losses of sending power huge distances. Of course, I don't know if there are enough people to manage a lot of small power plants or fuel-cell shacks effectively.

Well, if I can find some motivation, I should do some studying for my finals this coming week..


Why the hell isn't anyone running IPv6 or Multicast yet? Is having support for these things in all modern host and router operating systems not enough? sheesh..

Posted by mike at 06:05 PM Central | Brian D , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 100

I listened to Richard Stallman's recent talk at MIT, Copyright and Globalization in the Age of Computer Networks. It seemed pretty good, and I'm considering burning it onto CD (after converting Ogg/Vorbis->CDDA) and sending it into at least one of my national representatives. That led me to look up the definition of `verbatim,' as Stallman always says something to the effect of ``verbatim distribution permitted.'' I was worried that it meant that I wouldn't be able to change the audio format, but Merriam-Webster defines it as ``in the exact words,'' or ``word for word,'' so I shouldn't have to worry, since the words are preserved.

The idea of putting the speech on CD made me think, because I believe that CDs are supposed to support audio other than stereo 44.1kHz audio, but who knows how many players actually work with different formats. Regardless, cdrecord doesn't appear to support anything else, so I figure I'll just convert from mono 44.1kHz to stereo. This has the unfortunate side effect of making it fit on two CDs instead of one, but that's survivable.

A while later, I was wandering over to NPR's web site to listen to their news report, and I was wondering how well they might be able to transition away from RealAudio and Windows Media, so I made a simple test stream to see how low bitrate Ogg/Vorbis files sound. The output was not as good as I was hoping, and I could only convince it to go down to about 16kbps by using 8000 kHz audio, mono, 16-bit input. It seems to require about twice as much bandwidth as RealPlayer to produce the same quality output. Obviously, this is because the Xiph folks haven't optimized it for low-rate stuff yet..

I did some searching for low bitrate voice encoders, and it looks like GSM is the most popular method. I used sox to encode the same input, and the output quality of GSM seems to be pretty similar to Ogg/Vorbis, and the bitrate ends up being pretty close, as GSM works at about 13kbps. Oh, before I forget, I just used `sox' and it's accompanying script, `play', to encode and play GSM audio.

This is also tangentially related to my short comment yesterday. I wonder when we'll finally see multicast get more widely deployed. I guess it'll be around the time I get myself an IPv6 address, which should be shortly before Mickey Mouse lands in the public domain.


Hmm.. I should make a GSM input plugin for XMMS. Heck, a GSM output plugin wouldn't be that hard, either. Actually, I suppose a generic plugin that can just run sox might be good, too..

Actually, I think the whole development of audio and video should become somewhat more centralized. Individuals or relatively small teams would work on each codec, but it would all fit into a larger architecture. Of course, I'm not the only one that had that idea, which is why we have GStreamer and other projects..

Looking beyond the player and back to the input stream, I'm thinking that an effort needs to be made to generalize the streaming formats out there, so many things can be streamed much more readily. GSM audio, for instance. There's probably been significant effort put forth in that area, though I think the `generic' streaming formats have not really been that generic. QuickTime and MPEG2, if I recall correctly, are examples where this hasn't quite worked out right. Anyway, I suppose there has to be a distinction of sorts between unicast streams and multicast streams (again, note that multicast has not been as widely deployed as it probably should be..)

bleh.. I'm writing too much, and not studying enough..

Posted by mike at 02:41 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 07, 2001

Advogato Entry 101

voltron: Yeah, I have gone through some periods here at college where I haven't dreamt for months. I don't notice until I meet someone new or actually do something intellectually stimulating and then have a very vivid dream. Shows how interesting I find college..

Some people laugh about things like `dream analysis.' Heck, I do too, but I think our society forgets that dreams are a natural fsck, clearing out the junk in our heads and helping us to re-index everything. Certainly, the content of dreams can be interesting, but if you aren't having any at all, then something's probably wrong about your environment...

Heh, it seems like I and plenty of others need some sort of ``Geek Guide to Sanity'' which outlines some good ways to stay productive and motivated without driving ourselves nuts. Things like getting outside at least once every day or two, and finding things to do that can stimulate the dreaming process.

Personally, I need to find a way to keep from locking up when I reach a certain stress level. When my `todo' list gets too big (and sometimes, this means just a few things), I find that I just can't get started on anything. I have a theory that getting a girlfriend would help, but I'm too heavily introverted for that to happen anytime soon (and, obviously, significant others can often add a lot of stress at inopportune times..)

Too bad it's so much harder to fix the bugs in life than it is to fix the bugs in software..

Posted by mike at 02:55 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 102

I think I've figured out why it's so hard for me to succeed here at college. I guess it's not just one thing, but a combination (well, that's obvious). However, I'm pretty sure I've found a significant combination that has caused things to be really difficult for me.

I grew up in a fairly small town, only two or three thousand people (it's hard to get a good number, because it's been growing rapidly for the past 20 or so years). The number of people in a grade usually worked out to somewhere around 100. When you see these people every day, year after year, it's impossible to not get to know them. No matter what class you take, you'll see people you know.

I made a rather silly mistake of going to a large college, the University of Minnesota. I've never been able to pin down the numbers, but there are something like 40,000 people enrolled here. When I came up for orientation and whatever, we had student guides tell us that this place could be as large or as small as we'd like -- depending on how you make friends and where they are, you can have a large community around you or a small one. It's pretty true. However, I forgot to notice that these student guides are probably fairly motivated people that tend to make friends pretty easily.

I'm neither of those. I don't have any natural charm or anything, so if I get a friend, it's not because I made an effort or anything. This has made it hard for me, since I don't share classes with anyone I know. In other words, I let this school get too big for me.

Unfortunately, now that I've been here for four years, it's kind of hard to change my ways. I suppose now that I've made the realization, I may be able to correct for it, but I'm not sure.

I'd rather just go and get a job at a small to mid-sized company, where I can see the same people every day and get to know them. Well, at least I'll be able to start working a regular schedule again on Monday. Maybe I'll have to make a greater effort to hang out with the people there, even though all or most of them are older than me (I think).

Posted by mike at 12:34 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 10, 2001

Advogato Entry 103

I wasn't very coherent yesterday. My thought process might be a little easier to understand if I turn it around.

When I have people in my classes that I know, or that I get to know through group work, I do a lot better than when I don't know anybody and when I am not allowed to work with anyone.

This semester, I have been pretty much stuck on my own, and I think this is a low point in my college career. I'm enjoying other parts of my life.. It's just when my schoolwork comes crashing down on me that I get really down.

Anyway, like I've been saying for a while, I'll be happy to have my job and be able to do real work this summer. Hopefully I just won't work myself into the ground ;-)

Posted by mike at 07:53 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 104

I've been trying out Konqueror. It's pretty fast, and doesn't bog down my machine much if at all when it runs. I think it even uses less resources than Netscape 4.77. Unfortunately, there are a few things I really don't like.

I really prefer to have the `Back' option be the first on the list when right-clicking on a web page. Konqueror has `Up' there, which kind of works, but not quite. `Back' is sitting just below that. Secondly, when I tell the browser to open a link in a new window, either by middle-clicking or by going through the menu, I prefer the window to be `cloned,' at least in terms of window size. At the moment, doing that will open a new window that is wide and short.. At least there is a `Duplicate Window' option on the `Location' menu, so I've been doing that and then dragging a link to the new window. Lastly, fonts continue to be an issue. At least with Netscape, I can decide to largely ignore the fonts that web sites tell it to use, and just use helvetica and lucidatypewriter.

I don't understand why Advogato uses lucida as a font, because Unix systems seem to frequently pick a monospaced font for that.. I really don't enjoy reading large amounts of material that is monospaced..

Oh yeah, I'm posting this through Netscape because I can't log in through Konqueror at the moment...

Moments Later...

Okay, so I figured out how to fix some of the problems. Advogato was just acting funny, I guess, and I can save the window size by using the `Control View Profiles...' option on the Window menu. The fonts are still ugly, though. I had tried to get Render support working, but I'm not sure if I have munged the right files and environment variables..

Posted by mike at 08:13 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 13, 2001

Advogato Entry 105

Well, everybody's moving out. At least it means that the traffic has died down around here. I have a friend who will be moving into my apartment with me and two others this fall. He dropped off some stuf that he doesn't need this summer (he'll be a climbing instructor at at a camp, I guess). I've tried to pile it into a small corner, but I had to be careful since that's where the air-return vent is..

He left last night with his parents, and his girlfriend left earlier in the afternoon to go to her hometown. She's going to be working at a paper company where she'll probably have a near-death experience or two. Shoving around rolls weighing hundreds/thousands of pounds is not my idea of fun.

I'll be going in to work tomorrow, and all week! Hopefully I won't bore myself to death. I'm also supposed to pick up a good system for running Windows (needed for testing client connectivity to the Unix systems). Perhaps a laptop, which might be fun. I've been surviving with a P166 running Linux (though it has 128 Megs in it). There are just a bunch of projects that require box capable of running Win2k.

Well, called my Mom, though I didn't say much. I'll have to find a present for her, for when I go home in a few weeks. I also have to get gifts for my brother and my Dad, since they both have birthdays this week.

Posted by mike at 06:51 PM Central | Erik , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 14, 2001

Advogato Entry 106

Grr. We're getting rid of two Linux boxes. One of them I couldn't care less about. Actually, I don't care much about either of them, but it means that we will be down to one Linux server, with a bunch of Solaris boxes. We're also picking up a HP/UX box to be a web front-end to our Oracle server.

I'd rather see more Linux rather than less, though a lot of that is probably because I don't understand Solaris very well. Linux is far more user-friendly, so perhaps we're trying to annoy the users? I dunno..

Of course, we need systems that can actually run Linux and the right software. Mathematica for Linux on UltraSparc? Yeah, right. Hell, they won't even port to the Alpha, though there apparently is a LinuxPPC version.

The new Sun box is going to be connected to an existing RAID bank as a failover mechanism. I don't know how well that's going to work. It would be much safer to get Linux going so that we could run GFS. If we accidentally had two Solaris systems mounting the same partition at the same time, really bad things could happen.

We do need to get at least one Linux box in the server room. In the very least, we have found that we need a system that can monitor the temperature in there (the A/C went dead on Friday, and has been causing problems).

I've also been trying to muck with Oracle a bit, but I don't have any permission to the views or tables. They had changed the system password because of sensitive data being stored there, and I can't grant myself any access anymore.

Our network is so screwy here.. I wish I could tear it down and start over again, but I'm just a little peon.. Besides, I'm just annoyed that I can't play with Linux as much as I'd like to...

Posted by mike at 02:59 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 107

The Windows folks here have been running around trying to get their Lotus Notes mail hub up and running again. It must have at least a few cool features, but I'm not sure that it's worth the trouble they have with it. I just have the servers set up to forward mail to me, though they apparently don't understand ESMTP's ETRN command..

The bad thing was that they didn't have any secondary MX hosts set up until last night, so mail hadn't been flowing much at all..

I just picked up a DAT drive from my boss. I might have to take it home and play with it.

Hopefully I will be able to pick up a new computer for my office later today. I need a Win2k system. I might be getting a laptop.. We'll see.

Posted by mike at 09:59 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2001

Advogato Entry 108


I've been playing with some old tape drives by hooking them up to an old Sun SPARCServer 20 (a dual 50MHz system, IIRC). There's a DAT drive (DDS-2) that seems to work pretty well, though it's fairly slow. Apparently we have piles of media laying around somewhere, and the amount of storage (somewhere between 1 and 4 gigs) is good for backing up some of our smaller systems.

I'm in the process of erasing an 8mm tape (I laughed when I saw that it could take 8mm video cartridges) to see if we can expect any level of reliability from that drive. I guess it can handle tapes of 5 gigs or so, though I'm not sure if that's compressed or not.

We're trying to set up a backup procedure that can go over ssh or another secure channel, so this old SS20 doesn't quite cut the mustard. I think we're going to get a SCSI card for a 333MHz Pentium II system that we have. It should be able to handle it just fine.

Of course, the problem is that we don't have a good backup utility. I've been looking at Amanda, but that just seems to be more than what we need. I think I'm going to do something simple with tar. The problem with tar is that there isn't a quick way to get a listing of the files in the archive. I figure I'll just run `find' and dump the output to the tape before running tar. That way, we'll have alternating `files' on the tape -- a directory listing, then the tar, a directory listing, tar, etc.

If I get ambitious, I think I will take some of the ideas from Amanda, but just leave out their scheduling system. The `scratch' partition sounds like a good idea to me, though I don't know if I'll ever find enough spare storage to do that here. In order to keep track of what files are where, I'd like to have a decent indexing system. That index data could be put both on the tape and on the tape host. Knowing where a particular file is hiding is very important. Hmm.. We do have an Oracle database ;-)

GNU tar can apparently go in a `dry-run' mode, where it just reports what the size of a dump would be. If I use non-compressed tapes, but just have tar report the size to me, then I will know when space is running low.

Amanda sounds really good, but it seems to take just a little too much control away from the operator (knowing what data will go on which tape at what time, for instance). Then again, I haven't managed to set it up yet. Maybe appearances are deceiving.

Moments Later

My boss just showed me an interesting IIS exploit. Just point your browser at http://some-iis-host/scripts/.%252e/.%252e/winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir to get a directory listing. Heh. Just change those last three letters to do more interesting things than just dir.

Posted by mike at 10:02 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 109

I wonder what it would be like if we could get everyone to shut everything off for a day. I guess it'd be quiet -- that'd be nice for once. No car, airplane, A/C, or other noises.. It'll never happen, though.

Anyway, I picked up a laptop that we're thinking of using as a `console' for our Unix boxes. Unfortunately, we can't really use it for a true console, since we don't have the appropriate hardware to hook up all of the serial consoles.. We'd also need to use a PC for that (using a multiport card from Cyclades or somewhere). A laptop's not going to do it.

Still, as soon as I get a floppy drive for this thing (it can't boot off the CD), I'm going to put a minimal Debian on it.

I'm still thinking about how to properly do fairly simple tape backups. I thought it would be nice to put a header on the tape, but I don't know how to do that on a drive that likes to compress things. I guess it'd just have to be something really simple, that will always fit in a single block or something. Keep it under 512 bytes, and it should be okay, though I think it would require some testing..

I'd probably just do a simple header:

TapeID: daily-incremental-1
NumArchives: 2
Archive: somewhere.com:/home:gnutar
Archive: somewhere.com:/usr:gnutar/gzip

The layout of the tape would be something like:

  1. Header
  2. Archive 1: File Listing
  3. Archive 1: Data
  4. Archive 2: File Listing
  5. Archive 2: Data

I did some searching on Freshmeat. Looks like some people have had similar ideas, though I don't know how well they've been fleshed out.

I think that there haven't been many backup systems for Linux because it's usually so expensive to get tape drives. They require a decent investment, and often need SCSI, which a lot of people don't have.

I might have to pick up a 4 or 8mm drive for myself. The prices don't seem quite as outrageous to me anymore, but then again, I've been desensitized to computer hardware prices by working at a place that has a couple of spendy Sun boxes.

I sent off a note to sales@alphapoweredlinux.com, just to see if anyone is home (their site hasn't been updated since 1999), and whether they'd be willing to just let me buy an Alpha CPU and motherboard. Even if I could cut a deal, it's probably still much more than I'd like to spend. I probably have enough money to buy a decent system, but the money I have in the bank is one of my security blankets..

Anyway.. I'm talking too much.

Posted by mike at 07:55 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 110

manuel: Nice to know there are others out there who are somewhere in between backing up a single system versus a huge cluster ;-) And, don't worry about your English -- I think you probably write better than I do..

I sent an e-mail off to an Alpha reseller (not the folks I mentioned yesterday), trying to find out what it would cost to get an Alpha board that had AGP on it. I got a response back -- the guy thought there weren't any Alpha boards with AGP. I had to point out two to him: UP1000 (discontinued), UP1100. They're boards based around AMD's 751 chipset -- the same chips that are in some Athlon boards (recall that Athlons use the Alpha's EV6 bus, so some of the parts are fairly interchangeable).

Of course, I'm really scared to see what the cost is. I know I can afford an Alpha 21164 (the folks I'm talking to have a 21164 ``Cheap Alpha'' for $650), but I don't know about the 21264, which is what the UP1x00 boards support. Even though an equivalent Athlon board would cost $100, I'm probably looking at a 10x jump.. Damn economies of scale...

Well, I'd better go. My boss just told me to check two of our Sun boxes for any sort of logs that would indicate how/where the sadmind/IIS worm has been moving around. Hopefully, those systems weren't compromised, but I guess that there are some very significant problems with IIS right now (all of the web servers here have to be reinstalled, apparently).


I guess we're getting a 5% discount on a Sun E220R since we're trading in an old SPARCStation 20. $1000 for a slow old SS20? Sure, I'll take that ;-) Of course, this probably means that we're getting roally reamed on the 220..

Posted by mike at 07:40 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 111

Spent several hours compiling Gnome on Solaris 2.6. Then I discovered that I can't finish because gnome-vfs needs recursive mutexes for threads, which don't exist on 2.6. 7 and 8 have them, but there's a chance that the system will deadlock when using them. Heh, fun.

Anyway, it was still an interesting experience. Even though I was compiling on a fairly old operating system, it appeared to work almost flawlessly up to this point. Of course, I had to update some of the other software on the system (texinfo, gettext, etc.), but all in all, it was very simple -- just the basic ./configure; make; make install.

Didn't hear back from the Alpha guy, so who knows if he's just ignoring me now or what. Then again, maybe he didn't even work on Friday or something.

Looks like we might be getting rid of both of our old Sparc 20s. Strangely, I think I'll be sad to see them go. I hope they find nice homes.

I've been working on a laptop system that we're hoping to use as a `console' to some of our servers. Unfortunately, it's not going to do the trick. We need something that can plug into the serial ports of all of our servers, so the laptop will probably get replaced with a PC with a multi-port serial card. If we can find the money in our budget, we might get a small 1U Cyclades terminal server instead, which would be very cool.

We need to get a SCSI card for at least one of the Linux boxes at work, since I've been playing with getting some tape drives going on one of the Sparc 20s. If it goes away, we need another system to plug into.

It feels like it's been a month since school finished, though it's only been a week. That's good, though, since it means I've actually been interested in the stuff I've been doing.

Hmm.. It's the weekend. I should go outside.

Posted by mike at 10:55 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 112

jmallett: You managed to remind me that I've been forgetting to find a copy of NEXTStep to put on a `pizza box' NeXT system we have here at my apartment. I haven't been able to determine if there's supposed to be free/cheap media available from Apple or anywhere. I did find one guy that would burn a copy for me, but that was a few months ago, and I never found a good time to go over and do it..

Anyway, I just read this interesting article at Byte. Interesting to see that some of the limitations in Linux actually appear to be due to the fact that PC hardware sucks. x86 processors have certain limitations, like only being able to have memory page sizes of 4kB (too small) or 4MB (too big). IDE has problems as well. It's amazing how willing the kernel developers are to find workarounds for hardware problems..

I'm all alone in the apartment. Two of my roommates are in Milwaukee (though one's coming back today), and the other is out East somewhere, doing something for his job (he's an engineering intern at Northwest Airlines).

Posted by mike at 07:16 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 113

It's a Monday, alright. A little tough getting up this morning -- it was cool and cloudy this morning, compared to last week when it was pretty light out at 6:00 or so.

Anyway, I'm just trying to make our Solaris boxes a little more user-friendly (well, more friendly to me, at least). I just tried compiling vim, thinking it would work better than the system's vi in terms of key handling (arrows, backspace, delete, etc), but it wasn't. *sigh*

It's really annoying that we don't have bash in the same spot on all of our servers, so I can't easily set up accounts to use /bin/bash if bash exists in /usr/local/bin/bash on other systems in the NIS domain. I suppose I should try to change that somehow. I'm really tired of sh.

I'm putting together a list of the software I'd like to put on right away when we get the next Sun box. Things like GNU fileutils. We've been using a lot of packages from Sun Freeware, but they're annoying to use. I'd like to get rpm installed, since it's easier for me to use, and because it's usually very easy to make packages (well, if the .spec files are included in the source tarballs, anyway).

I'd rather just use Linux, but I'll make do with what we've got..

Posted by mike at 01:08 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 22, 2001

Advogato Entry 114

I'm in the process of attempting to get RPM (yes, RedHat Package Manager) working on Solaris 2.6 and 7. I have one box that I'm attempting to strip out all of the Free software that we've already installed, so that I can determine exactly what it is I need to get RPM up and running.

I figure I need a compiler (stupidly, we don't have Sun's compiler on this box, but that's okay since the RPM docs say you need gcc anyway), some libraries, and that's about it. Once RPM itself is up and running, those packages have to be recompiled and made into RPMs. The Sun pkg files would be removed, and the RPMs would be installed, and RPM itself will probably have to be recompiled and reinstalled.

Once that's accomplished, it should be insanely easy to build packages for Solaris (whee!), or at least a helluva lot easier than making pkgs.

One thing I'm not so sure about: should the RPMs all be built to be put their files in /usr/local? The Linux Way of doing things is growing on me, so I'd personally rather put packages in more normal locations, but I suspect there's a chance that doing so could cause Really Bad Things to happen.

At least it doesn't matter too much if I screw up -- the system I'm doing this on right now is an old Sparc 20 that's going away fairly soon, and I'll probably fiddle with another UltraSparc system before it gets taken down when the new E220R comes in.

Posted by mike at 06:34 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 23, 2001

Advogato Entry 115

Well, I got a few e-mails from people regarding RPM on Solaris. I'm sure that by the time I get home, there will be a bunch more waiting. They'll probably all have obvious answers to the things I've been trying to accomplish ;-)

Early on, I had tried to just build from RedHat Source RPMs, but I eventually figured out how doing that wasn't the greatest idea in the world. RedHat patches things like crazy, and even though they invented RPMs, some people there certainly don't seem to know how to use it properly. I see that there's a lot of power in RPM that gets pretty well squashed when someone goes in and assumes that a particular file will go in a certain spot. I have had to go through and make my own .spec files for each package -- something I never wanted to do in my entire life, but hey.. It makes me wonder if people are going to create .spec file archives at some point.

At any rate, I do have it up and running -- 5 packages built so far, only about a hundred to go :-p

Posted by mike at 01:03 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 116

I'm very tired right now.. I've been staying up working on getting packages built on Solaris. I should really take a hint, and only work on it during daylight hours. Or, at least, stop trying to do all of it on a Sparc 20 ;-)

I think that once I get to the point of having rpm built as an RPM (which appears to be only a package or two away at this point), I'm going to try and move this development onto a faster system.

I'm seeing that there are a lot of nasty little tricks that people have to do when building RPMs. Patches galore. I still think a .spec file repository is a good idea. They'd be cross-platform files that worked on as many systems as possible. If enough programs just use autoconf/automake, most of the work is already done, and the spec file just worries about where all of the files end up, plus the install/remove scripts.

If that were to be successful, I think it would just be more evidence of Linux being a unifying force in the Unix world. Granted, this would just be due to a program, but a program that originally came from Linux.

Looks like we're getting a new Intel box to run Linux on here at work. The plan is to make it be a log host, have a multi-port serial card to have serial console access to all of our servers, have it run Netsaint, and (I think) have a SCSI card in there so we can control a DAT drive to run some backups on the smaller systems.

Posted by mike at 10:29 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 117

Well, we had a scare at work -- one of our RAID arrays is giving us trouble. I left early today, though -- went home for Memorial Day weekend. I still have to pick up a gift for my Mom (belated Mothers' Day gift), and one for Dad (his birthday was six days later). I do have a gift for my brother, though (his birthday landed three days after Mothers' Day).

RPM building for Solaris/Sparc went pretty well today, though I didn't get too many packages done due to the problems with the RAID. install-info continues to give me trouble, as it can't seem to find the gzip binary when it gets run from an RPM post-install script. Maybe I have to append things to the $PATH? I'd hate to have that sort of stuff in an install script...

Posted by mike at 08:06 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 118

Well, I picked up some gifts for the family. Got Dad a small Mag-Lite and a fiber-optic adapter, for working on computers.. Got a set for myself, too, though I wonder if there's really enough light going through the cable. Perhaps I should have tried to find the 20 inch version. Also got Mom a t-shirt that said ``I want to be a Millionaire (and that's my final answer).'' Got my brother Secrets and Lies by Bruce Schneier.

Got gettext packaged on Solaris. I still should really go through and re-compile a lot of stuff, though I should probably try to at least move this compile stuff onto the dual-processor Sparc 20 (though I'd still have to install Solaris first -- it has Debian on it at the moment).

Hmm.. Underline tags (<ul>?) seem to be broken on advogato, or at least on whatever version of Netscape I'm using.

Posted by mike at 09:17 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 27, 2001

Advogato Entry 119

Instead of watching TV, since reception is bad these days (the 14 foot antenna on our roof has probably been slowly deteriorating), my family and I have been listening to the radio. Car Talk, A Prairie Home Companion, and Whad'ya Know. Probably much more entertaining than anything we could have found on TV anyway.

We're planning to go see The Tailor of Panama tonight.

Posted by mike at 12:22 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 29, 2001

Advogato Entry 120

I'm a little concerned that Microsoft will probably be in posession of the personal information (names, addresses, credit card numbers) of hundreds of millions of people by this time next year. Apparently, when you first log onto the Internet on Windows XP, it asks you all sorts of things. It's supposed to make things easier for the consumer -- you can easily buy things without having to re-enter information, for example -- but how much do you trust Microsoft?

At work, we're inheriting a dual-processor workstation that we'll be using as a print server, log host, and monitoring system. Hopefully it'll work out.

My boss is acting pretty crazy, getting ready for our new server. I hope I'm actually doing the work he wants me to do.

I think I'm supposed to move to a new office tomorrow, but I'm not really sure. Fun.

Late Evening

Well, I finally got around to downgrading glibc on my system -- looks like it helped. I had been having trouble with a lot of `Illegal Instruction' errors while attempting to compile things. I had picked up glibc-2.2.2-10 from RedHat 7.1, thinking that it would work okay on RH 7.0, but it didn't. Picking up glibc-2.2-12 from RedHat's updates appears to have done the trick.

Er, almost. Still got an `Internal error: Segmentation Fault' on gcc when making sylpheed, but there are not nearly as many errors as what I was getting.. Maybe I picked up a mismatched gcc as well. Hmm.

Posted by mike at 08:56 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 30, 2001

Advogato Entry 121

Stopped by Blockbuster last night, even though I knew Tora! Tora! Tora! was going to be checked out. If I'm going to watch a movie about Pearl Harbor, I might as well watch a good one ;-)

No other movies really jumped out at me, and it's hard for me to actively decide to get a DVD. It does provide a better viewing experience, but I still have moral issues with it.

Tried out John the Ripper here at work. Well, well, well. It cracked 20 passwords in about as many seconds (okay, it took longer than that, but only because I was using a P133). Now I just need to find something that works on an SMP machine ;-)

gcc still barfs on my machine at home every so often. Maybe I got a bad version of binutils, too... I still think RedHat has been compiling stuff for i686 rather than i586 (or less). Or maybe K6's just suck.

Posted by mike at 07:54 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 31, 2001

Advogato Entry 122

I'm now officially in the process of moving from my office to the new place. I'm not exactly sure what to call it -- it's the room outside the server room, and I'll be sitting near some lab support people.

I have to move my stuff out of the old office because it's getting painted on Monday, but I won't get a decent desk setup in my new location until Tuesday. I moved two servers down and have them running in a corner that's relatively out of the way.

I put my workstation (heh `workstation' is a poor description of a P166, but it had been up and running for 283 days when I shut it down ;-) on the desk that is currently there, but I'm not sure if I have enough room for two more systems that I have to bring down, not counting the box that I will be using as a Win2k system pretty soon (That one will just have to wait, I think). However, I guess I can just run the Sparc 20 headless for a while, and I think I can find room for the Intel box I still have to bring down. It's just annoying to think that I have to re-arrange things again on Tuesday.

Ah yes, those folks are going to love me, with all of the fan noise and heat I'll be generating with my systems ;-)

There's a Netsaint box that I should really muck around with some more, but it's going to be upgraded/replaced soon, so maybe I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

Posted by mike at 05:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 01, 2001

Advogato Entry 123

Well, most of my stuff is out of the old office. I left a large Sun monitor, since I didn't have anywhere to put it. Never fear, it'll probably join its (now headless) host next week.

Hmm. I'm distracted

Posted by mike at 09:07 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 124

Phoon: you can hot swap PS/2 keyboards, but it's not a recommended practice as there's a distinct possibility that you'll fry the motherboard. I've never had much of a problem, although I've always had to reset the keyboard rate with `kbdrate'.

Hmm. My system decided to kill Konqueror and X at about 3AM last night, probably for using excessive amounts of memory. I didn't even know Konqueror was running when I went to bed, it must have been in one of those not-quite-exited states. Also, there's a pretty good chance that XScreensaver is the responsible party.

I'm considering adding weather information to the network monitor box that currently has Netsaint and MRTG. Apparently, we were under a tornado watch or warning yesterday while I was at work, and I had no idea..

I figure I can just use Geo::METAR to get temperature, humidity and so forth (that's what I use on my page), and then grab some images from the National Weather Service and merge them together into an animation of some kind (gif, png, mng, mpeg, or something).


Physical Hacking

I went to the Twin Cities Robo-- uh, I mean Mech Wars (apparently they got sued). I guess this was only their second event, and it showed in the construction of the arena, which was just made up of two-by-fours. One of the competitiors had been on Battlebots and had managed to throw a chunk of something through the plexiglass on the show, so the design of the arena will have to be improved by the end of the summer. There are going to be competitions daily during the Minnesota State Fair, so I'll have to head over there at least once to see some of the action (and I'll probably drag some of my friends along).

The event shoud have some coverage on WCCO and KMSP tonight.

Posted by mike at 08:27 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 03, 2001

Advogato Entry 125

jschauma: Thanks for the heads-up about Linus, though I should point out that Fresh Air is not broadcast at the same time throughout the US. Check here for when it's on in your area.

Anyway, I got myself a new 'pooter today. Well, just a case, CPU, fan, memory, and motherboard, but it's a 1.3 GHz system. Unfortunately, I think I may have a CPU that can only run with a 200MHz FSB. I had them put those parts together, then I transferred the other guts later, so I'm not sure what the jumper on the motherbard is set to. Still, 1.3 GHz is nice. Stuff actually pops up right when I click a button (well, okay, Netscape still takes a few seconds).

I think I have an Enlight 7237 case. At any rate, it looks the same. I'm a little concerned about airflow in it though, and I might have to drill out the front holes like this.

I don't seem to have a temperature sensor onboard anywhere, which is disappointing. I may have to look around for one, though I'm not sure how I'd attach it to my system.. I guess I have a serial port available..

Hmm.. Does shared memory work at all on Linux 2.4.5? I have a line in /etc/fstab that uses tmpfs. Is that right? Maybe free just isn't working right. I find it hard to believe that over half of my memory is being used as cache right now, plus another 50 Megs of buffer, which would put me below 128 MB of memory being used by programs? Well, it looks like my swap is getting hit fairly well in the meantime..

Posted by mike at 08:09 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 04, 2001

Advogato Entry 126

Were having network problems here at work, and it looks to me that we've been having trouble since Thursday. Sounds like one of the switches may have been overheating, as two of my coworkers just carried a big fan out the door..

Anyway, I spent way too much time overnight playing with my new computer. I didn't really get to sleep until 5:00 AM, mostly because I was watching movies ;-) I highly recommend the VideoLan client for that task, as it provided the smoothest playback for me. Try the CVS version too, as it seems to have somewhat better audio support.

I played around with ML-View, an improvement on dxpc. Unfortunately, it won't compile with GCC 2.96, but it worked great with 2.95.3 (which I was happy to discover could be compiled really quickly on my system). It seems to be a pretty good program, though the syntax is pretty ugly. I think it would even be a good thing to use on a LAN, because it can cache a lot of things, rather than dealing with the latency involved in sending data back and forth across the network.

Posted by mike at 12:08 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 127

Bleh, Advogato's front page is screwed up

Anyway, I finally got desk space in my new cube today. I'll apparently be sharing the area with three other people, and I don't know where they'll fit. Anyway, I guess I have one more box to move before I'm done (I decided to give the guy that uses that system a little warning before I moved it).

Yesterday and today, I put together some packages for GPG-enabled Sylpheed. GPG 1.0.6, GPGME 0.2.1, and Sylpheed 0.4.66. Seems to work pretty well. And on the 10th anniversary of PGP, too.

Posted by mike at 10:16 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 128

for j in $((for i in $(cat /var/log/messages | egrep '(ICMP|SYN)'); do echo $i; done) | grep SRC | sed 's/SRC=//' | sort | uniq); do host $j || (echo -n $j: ; whois $j@whois.arin.net | head -2 | tail -1); done

I'm logging pings and SYNs on my box now. Just thought I'd see what has been peeking around on our apartment's network. My system should be set up to ignore broadcast pings, though, so I probably won't get [m]any scans.

Recently, a user here had his Lotus Notes account broken into. The cracker apparently sent out messages stating that the user was in failing health, and other strange statements. It's partially my fault, as I had sent a password for one of our Unix systems to him by mail, which he then forwarded to his Hotmail account. Someone apparently got into his Hotmail account, grabbed his password, logged into the Unix system, and then somehow managed to crack his Notes account.

Either that, or my boss just doesn't know what he's talking about.

Anyway, I mentioned that this is just one reason why cryptographic signatures are good things. Now if I can just find a way to get an OpenPGP implementation that works with Lotus Notes...


Perhaps I'm looking for S/MIME. There seem to be a lot of implementations of that for Notes.

Even Later

Gah! So much for that idea.

Posted by mike at 01:19 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 07, 2001

Advogato Entry 129

Mmm.. secure NFS. Hope that happens.

Anyway, I got snookered into trying to build a bridge firewall for our wireless network. At this point, I can do a bridge or a firewall, but a bridge firewall is currently not working. I guess I have to patch the kernel to bring the bridging code up a layer and push the whole mess through an IP filter of some kind (ipchains, iptables, ipfilter)

We want to be able to filter out data from unknown MAC addresses. This is possible to do directly on the wireless gateways, but that would require keeping several boxes in sync, and those things have fairly limited amounts of memory, so keeping large tables of addresses is not easy to do.

I'm not sure how possible this is. If *BSD can do it, maybe that will finally convince me to try it. However, it may just be easier to re-number a subnet and use a more traditional router setup.

Linux 2.4 is the only OS I know of that has built-in filters for MAC addresses. Of course, I only took a very quick look at IP Filter.. Perhaps there's something obvious that I'm missing.

Posted by mike at 09:39 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 08, 2001

Advogato Entry 130

If only I knew how to get cp437 on the web..

o/~ I want your girlfriend to be my girlfriend... o/~

Dammit.. Way too many unwanted sexual images today. I'm noticing it because I'm depressed about my grades. I got two Cs and two Ds. At this University, a D usually means a failed course. Dammit. I was depressed this past semester, and unmotivated. I really didn't want to deal with differential equations again, but they forced it upon me. Why can't they just drop the math? Dammit.

My Dad's coming up tomorrow, basically to get me out of the apartment, I guess. He'll also probably try to do some amateur psychology. Not really looking forward to it, but I really do need to get out of this place for a while. Maybe I can get to a decent movie or something.

I'm really introverted, and I don't get into social situations as much as I should. Even when I'm in them, I don't say much, but just being around others and not being forced out of the loop makes me feel better and reminds me that these carbon entities that pass by me every day actually have brains.

I'm enjoying my work life, and I can't complain about my generous parents. I just wish that I'd had the strength to get to know some of the girls I went to High School with. I ended up fixating on one, which I'll probably never forgive myself for. I'm scared to death that she might be scared to death of me.

I just listened to ``Pink Moon'' by Nick Drake. It's a song that makes me wonder about what my classmates have done in their lives, as the song was featured in a Volkswagen ad a year or so ago. You may recall it -- several friends are driving along the road at night, enjoying the open air (since the top was down). They arrive at a party, where a drunk guy stumbles past their headlights. The friends in the car look at each other, then pull away from the party and continue driving around.

I've been to one party in my entire life. I'm definitely much more like the people in the Volkswagen than the folks at the party.

Anyway, I suppose I should actually put something about computers in here. I think I'll have to re-work some of my ideas behind the wireless ethernet firewall. Now I think that the bridge is a little too low-level. MAC addresess can be spoofed, after all. I think I'll use a combination of MAC address and IP filtering, plus VPN through PoPToP or something similar.

Posted by mike at 08:05 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 131

Wow davem -- I was just talking with my boss today about how Sun systems could probably work with standard PCI video cards, save for the fact that many of them have x86-specific BIOSes. It's cool to see that you appear to have a workaround. Of course, I don't think I'm going to benefit from that anytime soon, but it's something I can put in the `future weird references' pile.

My boss actually really enjoys it when I appear to pull a solution out of my ass. The real answer is that I read way too much stuff on the web, but hey..

Today, I was banging my head on the wall most of the day, trying to get serial console working on a new Sun Enterprise 220R server. Dual 450MHz with 2GB of RAM (in 16 128MB sticks), two 35GB 10,000 RPM drives, and even a DVD drive (it'll be the first DVD drive in our server room ;-)

Anyway, after playing with cables for several hours, trying this and that, I finally connected two together and got something to work, though it defies explanation. I installed Debian, which went amazingly quickly, though I've only previously installed on much slower systems.

The Debian install was largely due to the fact that it'll probably be a few days before we can get our hands on a copy of Solaris. We have to deal with the campus folk who handle the site license. I think it'll be a good idea if we keep Linux on the system -- it may prove to be useful if Solaris ever gets toasted. Linux's UFS support is pretty weak, from what I hear, but we'd at least be able to make a backup in a worst-case scenario, and it would be something good to have if someone ever breaks into the system.

When a really interesting break-in happens on campus, the networking folks like to come in with a Bootable Business Card and dump the whole hard drive over the network so they can examine it more thoroughly. Of course, nobody has ported the BBC to Sparc (though I doubt it'd be very hard).

I'm sure that we would be running Linux on all of our Sun boxes if it weren't for the fact that we need some proprietary applications that aren't available for Linux/Sparc yet (AFAIK). Heck, a lot of it doesn't even exist for Linux/x86. Of course, we may need 64-bit userland, so I dunno..

Anyway, I'm still just learning when it comes to non-x86 architectures. I really like Linux and the GNU utilities.

Hmm.. I'll have to try and see if any apps will work with the Solaris emulation.. I doubt it's good enough for us, but it's worth a shot.

Posted by mike at 07:57 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 14, 2001

Advogato Entry 132

Well, we finally put the new Sun in one of our racks today. Unfortunately, the rack case is not quite big enough for it. We have to get rid of the front door for it to fit (and, of course, the stupid thing likes to slide out a little bit when you try to push it in). Oh well.

I got RPM up and running on the system's Solaris half yesterday. Before I left, I even got to the point of having OpenSSL and OpenSSH installed as RPMs (unfortunately, I haven't added in startup scripts for the SSH daemon, though I hope to fix that soon..)

Cripes. I should get chkconfig and some other goodies for Solaris as well. Porting RedHat's functions script for the init scripts would be another good thing to do.

Once we get proper licenses for Mathematica, Matlab, and other programs that will get used on this server, I'll just have to test them out on the Linux side and see if they can run there.

Also today, I went to a Net-People meeting -- a monthly gig where tech people from across the campus come together for a bitching session. Okay, it's definitely more productive and fun than that ;-) I went largely because I wanted to see what solutions the campus IT department was finding for wireless firewalls. I'm happy to find that I'm basically on the same wavelength as those guys. Unfortunately, that also means that they don't have a solution yet -- everything's just at an intermediate stage at the moment.

I'll probably just run PPTP for the moment. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the problems with Microsoft's PPTP show up in their clients or their servers or what. At any rate, it's easier for me to get PPTP running on the system I have than it is to get IPsec going, as I don't have or want any compiler on the firewall..

Hopefully I'll get something up and going next week.

Oh yeah, sad to hear about the trouble around Netsaint. We use that at work, so I hope the project will continue.

Posted by mike at 05:26 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 133

I finally got some code down for retrieving more weather information. My local weather service station puts many of their products in an easily-accessible location, and the radar images aren't too hard to access either. Unfortunately, most sites appear to not provide the text messages in such a nice location.

The big problem with weather information is that the National Weather Service (and, indeed, much of the world) uses extremely cryptic standards (well, at first glance) for naming files and directories. I could be researching a huge amount, and still only scratch the surface. Cripes, I never said I wanted to be a meteorologist! Of course, maybe I can find a helpful one to get me to understand this stuff.. Maybe..

Anyway, I can download a few things, and I've set up a cronjob to make a radar loop using gifsicle.

Posted by mike at 07:54 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 134

Had my first Linux crash on my new system yesterday. I was looking at my radar loop in Mozilla. I'd looked at the image earlier, then had gone surfing elsewhere on the 'Net. I came back after a while, and discovered that Mozilla was only displaying a cached image. So, I did what anyone would do: Shift+Reload. It cleared the page, and started showing a few frames of the animation. Then, my swap just started growing like mad, and I ran out of memory in just a few seconds. Unfortunately, Linux 2.4 apparently can't handle it when you have 1:1 RAM:swap..

I could still ping the box, but I couldn't ssh in or anything. Dejected, I hit the reset button.

When the system came back up, I used GNU parted to shrink one of my partitions to give me enough room for a new ~256 MB swap partition (doubling my swap space to ~512 MB).

I tried it again. Again, my swap got chewed up really fast, the first 256 MB going by in just a few seconds. The system hung up for a few seconds when it reached the end of the first swap partition, but it came back shortly, albeit in a very unresponsive state.. (actually, now that I think about it, it's quite possible that the drives dropped out of UDMA mode at that point -- the responsiveness was much like a PIO IDE system under heavy disk load).

At that point, I slowly maneuvered the mouse up to the `X' to close Mozilla. Unfortunately, once the program was closed, the system still had a very large amount of swap space used up (a lot of stuff was still in buffers or cache, I guess).

I might go out and get another 256MB stick soon, but I wonder if I'll then have to bring my swap space up to 1 GB..

Posted by mike at 08:03 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 135

Been building more RPMs for Solaris. Ugh. I never said I wanted to become a distribution maintainer! ;-) Anyway, I spent most of yesterday trying to get gcc to build properly. Actually, it would always build fine, but I kept screwing up in the %file section. Annoying that I have to wait for a whole build cycle to test that (actually, I suppose there's an option to short-circuit to the end, but I'm not sure).

Today, I discovered that `cat' packaged with GNU textutils 2.0 will cat directories, just like Solaris' cat. That seemed really strange to me. I suppose I'll just have to pick up a newer package from alpha.gnu.org..

Anyway, I just keep finding more and more packages that I want. It's really enjoyable to grab a package from the FSF and do a pretty standard `configure; make; make install' (albeit in the ``RPM Way''), at least when you compare it to some of the other configuration systems in use out there..

Oh yeah, I thought it would be a grand idea to gzip the man pages on the packages I've been building. Unfortunately, I forgot that Solaris doesn't understand gzip-compressed files. Ugh. So I try to compile man (from ftp.win.tue.nl on Solaris. No dice, and the configuration is a PITA as well.. Of course, I'd like to compile man for other reasons -- it has the nice feature of allowing you to do `man ./file.1' to load a file outside of the MANPATH..


Posted by mike at 12:43 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 136

Not much open-source hacking, but I did write to five companies that produce applications we're using on Solaris/Sparc, and asking if they could bother to try building Linux/Sparc versions. They all already had ports to Linux/Intel, and some of them had Linux/PPC and/or Linux/Alpha ports.

My boss and I agree that Linux is much nicer in a number of areas. Better security, better integration of cryptography (most distros come with SSH now, for instance), more user-friendly (I can't use a Unix box without GNU tools), and easier to administrate. It's so much easier to just `rpm -Uvh' or `apt-get install' a package than it is to bother recompiling, or fear downloading years-old packages from sunfreeware).

Solaris doesn't come with MD5 passwords, and I'm not sure if anyone has done it properly yet, while Linux has that integrated. Also, using the Global File System, Linux can have multiple systems reading/writing to a single shared device, which we'd really like to do with our RAID arrays. It comes with a real compiler, and you don't have to worry about whether the program you are about to run is the one in /usr/bin, /usr/ucb, /usr/ccs/bin, /usr/xpg4/bin or whatever..

Anyway, I'd be really happy if we get positive responses...and if they aren't all positive, I think we have some associates in other departments that would be happy to fire off a note voicing support.

Oh yeah, this is statistical/mathematical software like Mathematica, etc.

Posted by mike at 01:20 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 137

I just figured I'd list the software we're hoping to get Linux/Sparc versions of, so that we can transition away from Solaris where I work:

If there are folks out there who also want to run this stuff on Linux/Sparc, please contact those companies.. Considering most of them already have Linux/Intel versions, it probably won't take much convincing, but I'd just be really happy to have some support from others.. I'll have to make a similar request elsewhere around campus, as I think some other departments have been wanting to do this..

Not much open source hacking. I just got an NT box in my cube yesterday (after waiting for one for about a year). I'm playing around with permissions, etc, trying to make it behave more like a Unix system, with a home directory and everything. It sort of works..

Posted by mike at 05:40 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 22, 2001

Advogato Entry 138

Excellent! SAS is available for Linux/Sparc! One down, four to go.


Well, I heard from two other places. They said they don't have their apps going on Linux/Sparc (yet). Those two are Gauss and Stata.

We're waiting on Matlab and Mathematica.

The really important apps are SAS and Matlab. Others can just be shoved off to our Linux/Intel servers, or put onto and old Sparc 20 (heh.. At least it has 2 processors ;-)

Hmm.. of course, if we keep a Solaris box, we may run into the problem that Solaris doesn't understand MD5 passwords (it does have PAM, so it should be possible to fix that, but I'm not sure how hard that is..)

Posted by mike at 08:58 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 139

I had an interesting weekend.. My apartment building's router died at about 1 AM on Saturday, so it didn't get fixed until about 8:30 on Monday. The stupid building management won't let anyone in to fix this sort of thing unless it's during business hours. I told the girl in the front office that this was unacceptible to me, as similar things have happened several times now..

It's likely that all that had to be done was to reset the router. I told them that if that was the case, they should just invest in a remote power switch accessible over the phone.

I'm getting curious as to what alternatives are available for our apartment.. DSL is probably more likely to work than a cable modem (seeing the tangle of boosters and things already here). It really sucks that one of the big selling points here was the Internet access..

Luckily, this coincided with a few friends coming into town, so we didn't just sit on our asses all weekend doing nothing.

I haven't heard from the Matlab or Mathematica people, though I did get pointed at GNU Octave again. I took a look at that -- I guess they strive to be at least semi-compatible with Matlab, which is pretty cool.

Today, I had a terrible time concentrating at work, so I left early and went for a bike ride (after my conversation with the front office folks..) and got burned..

<tangent> In High School, I became obsessed with one of the girls in my grade. I don't know why it happened, and I probably never will. Somehow I just got it in my head that we were somehow meant to be together. Even so, I kept my distance. I tried to talk to her, and we talked through a few phone calls and handwritten notes. It just didn't work, and I've had an empty part of me ever since High School ended.

My belief in possibilities turned her into a muse of sorts for me, though I guess it was all in my head. That's the most frustrating thing -- knowing that the pain I've felt by not being able to be with her is probably all due to my (then) over-active imagination.

Anyway, I thought I saw her the other day, which is partly why I decided to take my bike ride. A faint part of me still hopes that we'll see each other again, and finally speak face-to-face. I know the scales are against me, though I hope it would at least bring some much-needed closure.. </tangent>

Posted by mike at 06:34 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 140

Whoops, forgot to post this.. This is actually from Jun 27..

Spent the last two days at work figuring out how to share a Sun A1000 RAID array between two hosts -- one running Linux and the other running Solaris. Amazingly, the Solaris box didn't crash even though I did evil things like have conflicting SCSI IDs on the host adapter (something that killed Linux -- well, 2.2.18-pre21 from Debian, anyway).

Actually, I figured out how to get it going in a minimal fashion yesterday.

SILO boot: linux sym53c8xx=safe:y,hostid:5

Unfortunately, that only lets you do slow asynchronous transfers, while we would really like to do fast synchronous ones. After playing around, I came up with a really nasty append= line for silo.conf, but it seems to work. Both systems can read from the UFS filesystems at the same time (well, I only did a simple test of running `du' on the same directory at the same time on both machines).

We're planning to use this as a failover setup, so if one of our servers goes down for one reason or another (maintenance, or just playing, plus the extremely rare crash), NFS services will still be available.

I'd really like to get GFS going on that, but we'd need appropriate software to be available first.

Currently, it sounds like we're going to do several things. Migrate our main Solaris 2.6 server to 7, while putting it on our new box. Then we'll install Linux on that old system, along with whatever Linux/Sparc software we can get.

Posted by mike at 09:06 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 141

I came into the office this morning, after taking a long weekend (visiting grandparents in Fargo), to find a new black Dell Precision 330 sitting in my chair. I'd been looking for a new system in my office for about a year, then my boss gave me his old 500MHz system after he got one of these new Dells. One of the other folks that got a new Dell didn't like it (the dark color didn't match her monitor, or something..)

Anyway, as I'm a lowly student employee, I'm not sure if I'm actually entitled to the system or not. I sent a note off to my boss and his supervisor (who oversees much of the department), just asking if I can keep it or not. Who knows at this point.

It's a pretty sweet system -- UW-160 SCSI, 400MHz bus (not that I necessarily believe that statement), 1.2GHz processor.

It has RDRAM in it. I'll have to run some benchmarks to see how it stacks up against my 1.3GHz Athlon at home (though I'm not sure at the moment if my system has a 200MHz or 266MHz bus..)

blah blah blah

Over the weekend, I brought my old system up to replace the old KX-133 (a 133MHz 486, basically) that my grandparents had. The new system has over 10 times as much memory and disk space, and the processor is probably about 5 times as fast. The new video card is miles ahead of the old one (a VESA Local Bus card). Anyway, I'm confident that this system will be with them for a long time, and I doubt they'll ever have to upgrade it.

I had to use the LNX-BBC to repartition the new hard drive. My Dad had brought Norton Ghost along, but nothing was around that could delete partitions. I was getting ahead of myself when I was repartitioning, though. I created two main partitions (not counting the extended partition that held the second drive). I could format the first in Linux -- a 2GB FAT16 partition -- but I couldn't format the FAT32-labeled partition on the remaining 6GB. I copied files from the old C: drive to the new one with Ghost, and then upgraded the system to Win98. Upon rebooting, Win98 ran Scandisk, and managed to delete everything on the C: drive. It was getting confused by the labeled-but-not-formatted FAT32 partition. Removing that partition fixed the problem, but it was kind of scary.

I also discovered that if you try to run the Win98 upgrade/installation from a PC (IBM) DOS 7.0 boot diskette, it's slower than molasses...

I hope MS gets a $100 billion fine..

Posted by mike at 05:39 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 03, 2001

Advogato Entry 142

Obviously, the new computer turned out to be too good to be true. Being a student employee, it just doesn't fit with their normal practices to give me such a nice system. Oh well. I do at least have a decent 500MHz box for NT, and a P166 with 128MB of RAM for my Linux box. Maybe I should switch that around. Or, if I got more memory in the bigger box, I might be able to request a copy of VMWare, so I could run NT just as a guest OS.

Still, it's nice to just be able to mouse around and do things for once. Linux is powerful, but there still aren't any good file managers for it (IMHO). I tried to write one once, but didn't get very far.

Hmm. I think that whenever programmers do user-interface stuff (even if it's just command-line switches and informational output), they should really think about ``What do I really need? How often do I need it?'' etc. Personally, I really like how Netscape 4.x (under Linux) always has `Back' be the top option on the right-click popup menu, for example. It's annoying when that's not there.

When making a file manager, one should ask, what operations are done most frequently? I switch between normal and long views pretty frequently, so it would be great if that option is easily accessible. Also, most file managers (<petpeeve>and things like Gtk's file selector widget</petpeeve>) don't let you show/hide dotfiles easily.

I think a Unix file manager would have to have a command line. I do things like `ls *.html' far too often. Integrating a command line properly would be quite a trick, though..


I'm heading home for one night. Going to a bonfire (well, not quite -- just a fire, but we like to exaggerate a bit) with some friends for the 3rd. It's a semi-tradition for us. I'll be heading back up here tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 02:25 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 143

Got pointed at ROX-filer for a file manager. In the process of compiling an RPM at the moment (download.sourceforge.net seemed to be down, so I'm using files from ftp://rox.sourceforge.net/) Looks pretty good. I think I'd glanced at it previously, but it didn't appeal to me last time since it didn't have a tree view or something. The tree just makes things overcomplicated sometimes anyway, so I'll see how this works.

Went home for a very short stay. One of my friends picked me up in the evening on the 3rd. We went to his place (near home) for a bonfire. Some friends showed up, we threw a few pop cans in the fire (low-grade fireworks for those of us without permits for that sort of thing ;-) Stayed there until 2:30 in the morning, and went home and was in bed by 3:00. Sat around the house on the 4th, reading some magazines, then we went to see the show in Rochester. Actually, we got there a few hours early and just sat around there too. Finally got back to my apartment in the 'Cities around 1 AM. I forgot my jacket somewhere..

Anyway, I realized again that I'm not weird. Well, no more weird than my friends, at least.

Hmm, got rox 1.0.0 up and running. It's not enough for me. I suppose I'll have to try the devel version.

I think I'm going to stop by Cheapo on the way back to the apartment this evening. I need more music in my life.

Posted by mike at 01:04 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 144

Hmm, been sleeping in a bit too much lately. I've just had a really screwed up week or so, and my sleep schedule is still off..

Picked up a few more CDs today. One of them includes HDCD audio (``another Microsoft Buynnovation(tm)!''). I'm wondering if it's possible to retrieve that data or not. Apparently, the data gets spit out the S/P-DIF on any standard CD player with a digital output, so that's one way to get at it (in theory).

Also, the CD and liner notes bear no discernible copyright, which seems odd.

Otherwise, I was totally unproductive today. I mostly played with my bash prompt, trying to set it up so the path will first be displayed on the line above the main prompt, once it reaches a certain length. Then, when it starts to fill the screen, the path is truncated to keep it from running overboard and taking up multiple lines..

Ordinarily, it looks like this:


Then, when prompts get long:

[/media/music/By Artist/Presidents of the United States of America, The]

And when things get really out of control..

[...step.bak/Library/AfterStep/start/Decorations/Screen savers/Without password]

Apologies to those who don't like StyleSheets ;-)

Anyway, I put the source up here. Note that you will have to `touch ~/.iwantcolorprompt' if you want color stuff to show up.

Posted by mike at 07:28 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 145

Went home again. Dental appointment this morning (oh fun..) Came back to discover that one of my roommates had taken his receiver in to the Sony service center about 20 miles away. It wasn't powering up properly when I left on Saturday. It's under warranty and everything, and it should be back in in about a week.

I need to read up on the GNU Mono and DotGNU projects. If it's worthwhile, I'll have to sign up and do something. I can't sit idly by while Microsoft unloads all of their resources into something that appears to heavily damage our freedoms. I just don't want to get involved if the project ends up just helping MS along.

At any rate, it requires more research, and I don't know if I'd be able to help at all (I really have no good way to measure what level my skills are at yet..)

Oh yeah, I also picked up a SkyScan Atomic Clock at Target over the weekend. It's a digital wall clock that can listen in on the time signals broadcast over shortwave from Colorado. It was about $50.

Posted by mike at 06:05 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2001

Advogato Entry 146

Our ethernet network died for about half an hour, just as I was going to start this entry. The network here is really screwy (it's a /21, if I remember right) as just one critical component failure in a Cisco switch somewhere can bring the entire thing down (ie, no data whatsoever going anywhere). I don't know why they have it set up that way -- it would seem better to me if they had ethernet bridges rather than one huge network. Of course, I'm not a network engineer..

Anyway, things would have been worse for me, but I had a mini-hub, so at least I didn't have to deal with losing my x2vnc connection where I share my mouse and keyboard between my Linux and WinNT workstations.

I was considering getting a WinTV-HD card for my computer at home, but I don't know if there are any drivers available for Linux (or, at the very least, if there is documentation available so drivers can be made), and it appears that the cards may be out of stock everywhere as well..

I've been looking around for an XDS (eXtended Data Service) encoder for NTSC, so that I can manually insert the correct time into TV transmissions coming into my apartment. As far as I can tell, the local PBS station isn't doing it (though they insist they are), and back when it did work, they usually had the wrong time anyway. I just want to hook up my NTP-synched computer to a box that will keep our TVs and VCRs set to the right time (and then tell the PBS folks how to do it ;-)

It might be possible to do it with my Hollywood Plus MPEG decoder board, though I'd have to find a way to put that signal on a real channel (not an auxilliary input) that I don't care about, and I don't even know if the card's video encoder can generate those signals or not. I'm working on writing a document describing how to get Reflection X working nicely with (Open)SSH. I'll probably post a link here tomorrow.

Ugh, it's Tuesday already. I have to go in and talk with an academic advisor about my poor grades by Thursday. Blech.


The ADV7175A is able to mangle line 21 of the NTSC VBI, but only field 1. XDS data, including the time code, is in field 2. Drat.

Posted by mike at 02:34 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 147

There are a lot of people making noise on my roof right now. Our two year old apartment is getting re-roofed. It was leaking badly in some places (it happened here too, though we have a mostly flat roof, while they appear to be mostly replacing the shingled part. Whoever is paying for this is probably not very happy.


Finally got Quake III running on my NT box at work. The other guys have been trying to get me into it for months. Unfortunately, my skills seem to have declined. Then again, I much prefer the rocket launcher to the rail gun, and the map we were using didn't seem to leave very many places to hide/take cover. Also, I probably do better when there are more people in the game (we only had 3 or 4).


I have to get back to some other ongoing projects. I need to migrate more software to one of our new servers. The NIS databases will also have to be moved over.

We have to get the raid monitor software configured properly (we have two systems connected to the array at the moment, which makes things somewhat complicated).

Once we move everything over, I'll install Linux on the old server (currently running Solaris). We'll run it as a slave NIS server, with as many Linux/Sparc versions of the software we have as possible (only one package at the moment, but that'll be supplemented by GNU Octave).

I've been meaning to improve our tape backup system for quite a while. I suppose I should set up a database for that, though my job isn't to be a programmer. We're also probably moving to Veritas shortly, so it will probably be a moot point.

I'm supposed to be working on a firewall and/or VPN gateway for our wireless systems, but I need a wireless access point, a laptop with a proper card, and the proper IP space before I can really get into that.

All of our X clients (using Reflection X and the occasional Linux box) will have to be configured properly to use SSH instead of Telnet/RSH/RLogin. I'm still working out that process.

Once we get a faster system for it, the Netsaint monitor box will have to be updated to watch more of the network. Hopefully Netsaint will continue to be developed (/me crosses his fingers).

So much stuff, and I'm just a student employee. Then again, I haven't exactly been putting my best effort into getting things done (probably due to my sick-and-tired-every-day-because-I-can't-get-a-date problem..)

Posted by mike at 05:56 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 148

Just tried running Stata on Linux/Sparc using Solaris emulation. Heh, I'm glad that's not a production server (yet), since it brought the system to a screeching halt. It's possible that I just did something simple wrong (like putting it in the wrong directory). However, I don't want to run a production box with binary emulation if this sort of thing can happen.

Went to the net-people meeting. Heard about some folks in Duluth that are using Linux boxes to authenticate with Radius to an x.500 directory. I guess they don't have encryption going yet, but it's still farther along than I am.

Our new Sun box is slowly coming along. I'm working on adding programs to it. We need to then move the primary passwd/shadow and group files to the new system, get the RAID working properly, and then we'll have an Ultra 30 to play with (the old box) and hopefully put Linux on.

Posted by mike at 01:29 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 149

Been playing with running an old P100 w/ 16MB of memory as an X terminal. I think it will be a good idea to figure out how to get it going correctly, as I'm planning on moving my main workstation back into my bedroom. Leaving this X terminal outside of my room will allow me to stay up late working on stuff without bothering my roommate.

Unfortunately, the monitor I currently have connected to it isn't going to be available for too long. I'll have to dig around for a decent replacement (this one is actually amazingly good for being a CTX...)

It just takes a while to realize that opening an xterm window on this system doesn't allow me to muck with it -- the xterm is actually runninng on my main system.

I currently have a separate user id, though I'm hoping that I will be able to figure out how to use separate Gnome `sessions' -- I just don't know how to select them yet. It'd be great if I could get this working with mlview-dxpc as well. I have an ethernet connection between the two, but any little bit that keeps queries from going out over the wire will probably help (or not..)

Anyway, I ran into the problem that the two X sessions were colliding over /tmp/.esd. I'm not sure what the correct fix would be for that.

Posted by mike at 07:08 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2001

Advogato Entry 150

I'm sitting around at work, not doing much of anything. I suppose I should start coding something. A while ago, I was looking at solutions for backing up our systems here. I came across a few interesting sites, but I didn't sit down and work with them very much. Now, I'm thinking of working with Amanda to do our backups.

At some point, we're going to be getting a fairly large tape system (~2 Terabytes) attached to a NAS system. Each person will have a Gigabyte of storage allocated to them, and they will mount it via SMB (well, for the Windows folks, at least.) I presume we'll be able to back up the Unix, Windows, and Novell servers through this tape system as well, though I have my concerns about `cross-platform' solutions like that. Hell, nobody can even figure out how to back up Novell servers properly (well, their long filename solutions were always messy and are what have caused the most problems).

It'd be cool if we could run GFS on the NAS, so a few computers could be serving the data (one on each subnet or something, if the folks here ever realize that a /21 is a bad idea...). Hmm.. We might need quota support, though. Maybe I'll just have to pass the name Sistina up the chain of command here.

Anyway, that's off in the future, and I still have to figure out how to back up our Unix systems now...


Whoops, did I say NAS? I meant SAN..

I've got Amanda going to a certain extent now. Not exactly sure what it's doing, though. I do have to ask -- when Amanda runs tar it runs it with the correct flags to only go on a single filesystem, right? Otherwise, I'm in for a long wait :-p

Posted by mike at 01:05 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 151

Well, I let Amanda run as I left work (late) yesterday. Unfortunately, the tape I had put in (the very first one in the first Amanda cycle I've ever done) was bad. It did fit two or three small dumps on it, but then it cacked out. Fortunately, Amanda is able to handle that situation, and the backups just landed on the holding disks. I'm running amflush at the moment, to flush those backups to the next tape.

We don't have an optimal setup at the moment. I could only scrounge up about 17GB of holding disk space while we are using 35GB DLT IV tapes. Hopefully Amanda will be intelligent enough to handle that, but we'll have to wait and see.

I'm pretty surprised that the system I'm backing up with is using so much processing power to watch the I/O on the SCSI tape drive. You'd think it was an IDE device :-p .. I probably just never noticed before..

Still, I'm really impressed by Amanda. It's not the easiest thing in the world to use, but it's a slice of nice pie compared to what it takes to run our Oracle database.

I may have to set up something for myself at home, though I'd have to find a decent tape drive first. I can probably steal a DAT drive from work, though I think I might like to just pick up a DDS3 drive (the one available to me is DDS2). Too bad they're still spendy for me..


Well, I started the second real Amanda run shortly after the flush of yesterday's unfinished dumps got done. I figure that once we get everything going properly, the dumps will actually happen overnight via a cron job or three.

I think a few of our servers are on 10Mbit connections when they should be on 100Mb. I tried to ask our networking guy about it, but I haven't heard back.

Posted by mike at 07:40 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 152

Accidentally clicked the big `X' in the corner of the window, so this'll be the short version.

I actually ordered a DDS3 tape drive on eBay. 12GB native (with the right media, of course). Should work great for my system, as well as much of the apartment. One of my roommates has 20GB or so of music in MP3 format, so I'm not sure if I'll want to back that up, especially since that would be going over the building's network (10Mbit).

At work, I've been trying to get all of our servers capable of 100baseTx running at that speed. I think our network guy isn't all he thinks he is (okay, he can kick my ass in QuakeIII). Picking up the mii-diag utility helped to show that the hub is only putting out a 10baseT link beat. No advertisement of better service. Trying to bring the link up to 100Mbit tanked the connection (the link light went dead). Hopefully we'll get this fixed up tomorrow.

My boss wants me to put together some documentation, that'll be a good thing to do tomorrow as well.

Posted by mike at 08:35 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 153

ok boot cdrom

Wait 3 minutes...

Configuring devices...

Wait 4 minutes...

Starting OpenWindows

Wait 3 minutes...

Discover that the mouse doesn't work...


One more minute...

The system is coming up. Please wait.

Heh, that's funny..

Two more minutes, and I finally get the first dialog box.

It's been a long day.


We Americans are so silly. Worms. Heh. /me hugs Linux.

Posted by mike at 12:24 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 154

Got some mail today regarding how to check servers for vulnerability to the Code Red worm. The message was along the lines of ``I'm going to be gone for a while, how can I be sure I'll be safe?'' I wrote a note to the staff reminding folks that security is an ongoing thing. Updates need to happen, and default installations cause all sorts of trouble. I mentioned that the Internet is a hostile network, services should be avoided whenever possible, etc.

Didn't receive any hate-mail after that, so hopefully it was well-taken. I repeated many of the comments later in the day to one of the LUG mailing lists I'm on.

Anyway, worked on a newly installed Sun. If you guessed that it was a Sparc 20, you're right! Too bad I was putting Solaris 7 on it instead of a decent OS, but we need a Solaris box available to run a few things. Ugh, now I have to make more RPMs..

My Dad and my Uncle are coming up tomorrow. Planning to show them my office/cube and probably the server room as well.

Not so sure about this Dmitry Sklyarov business.

Posted by mike at 07:28 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 155

Well, my tape drive arrived yesterday. I bid on some DDS3 tapes and got them for about $10/tape. They will arrive on Monday. Also, the drive is black and doesn't match my case. However, I can buy a new faceplate for $6 online.

I'm beginning to hate UPS ground. Everything arrives next Monday, since I live in the middle of the country in Minnesota, while most places that sell stuff are on or near the coasts (east, west, gulf). Oh well.

Been getting a few of those SirCam worms. Got around 10 of them so far, none from anyone I know, indicating that the worm picked my address out from the web cache of the infected system. Most news sites don't seem to mention that the worm is actually an EXE file, renamed to look like a document, and is (almost?) never less than 200kB. It actually encodes a document in itself, but the first ~half of the bug appears to always be the same. Even when it's encoded in base64, it looks the same for about the first 1700 lines.

The University has usually filtered out mail worms (didn't get a single ILOVEYOU, for instance), but this one has slipped by them.


Debating installing Debian (woody) on my home computer. I did it at work today, though it took a long time. If I start now, it probably wouldn't get done until 2 AM..

Maybe tomorrow.

My DVD drive is having trouble (apparently) doing the layer transition on Tora! Tora! Tora!. The drive pretty much hangs on that. I had mounted it to try some more testing. It had trouble reading some files, so I tried unmounting, which sat there and sat there. Went away and watched TV, only to come back later to see that the whole system had apparently frozen up (to an extent, SysRq still worked to power off the system). Hmm. I wish framebuffer worked better, so it might actually be possible to see errors pop up when X is up. Then again, I hate how messages screw up the display on our Sun boxes at work...

Posted by mike at 07:26 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 156

Finally got all of the systems I really care about into Amanda's disklist. I really like not worrying about how to schedule backups, whether stuff will fit on a certain tape, etc. It's currently hitting about 45 partitions on different systems. Unfortunately, all my work will probably be in vain, as the folks upstairs are planning to implement Vertas's NetBackup.

I do have to figure out a good way to keep longer-term (months instead of days/weeks) backups. A separate tape cycle running on Fridays only, maybe. We had only been doing weeklies, so I should continue that practice somehow (right now, Amanda just has a two-week cycle, though we have enough tapes to bring that to a month, or two months if backups are done every other day).

Anyway, I like my Debian box at work, and I might do my home machine soon. IPv6 support appears to be better in Woody than RedHat 7.x. I was surprised that my OpenSSH daemon here at home appears to be missing IPv6 support. Of course, none of the systems under my control are on IPv6 networks. I wonder when that will change. No multicast yet, either. Oh well.

Do Linux IPv6 hosts need to have some sort of daemon running to discover routers? Maybe that's all I'm missing. All I'm doing for testing at the moment is `modprobe ipv6', which gives me a site-link address.


Got some spam directed at me, apparently because of my eBay ID. I wonder when my tapes will arrive. I didn't get any tracking numbers or anything, so it may have been USPS..


Saw that Freenet6 is giving out /48 IPv6 blocks now. I'll have to set up a gateway at some point.

Still getting sircam worms. Need to set up a filtering system for my computer, I think.

Beyond Late

Just found the GutenPalm reader for etexts on Palm. Pretty good, though when I converted the 2000 CIA World Factbook, it took up a very big chunk of my Palm's RAM (1.5MB).. Oh well.

Otherwise, it's cool to finally have a decent way to read Gutenberg texts on the Palm.

Posted by mike at 06:52 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 157

Big new server rack thingy arrived today. It's still in pieces, and I really don't feel like putting the thing together, moving stuff around, etc., but it'll be nice when it's all together. It will organize all of the servers that are currently stacked like bricks in my cube.

Found some really nifty screensavers for Windows today at GizmoZone. Some of them were nagware, others free, and at least one Free one. I'll have to see if I can port any of them to Linux. Of course, that means I have to find some way to get accelerated OpenGL working on my G400 at home where I'm running Xinerama. Not sure if that's possible or not. Even if it is, it's probably way out of my skill range..

Heh, that display at home uses about 13 MB of RAM when it's just sitting there. Not sure if that leaves enough for doing OpenGL or not.

I started thinking about screensavers and OpenGL because my boss is planning on putting together an OGL app to help us keep track of computers in the building (connecting to a PostgreSQL database backend). He's planning on scanning in the floor plans and then overlaying that with a grid system to help us locate things. If it works, it'll be very cool.

Picked up some IPv6 drivers (and their sources, apparently) for Windows NT. Doesn't do much since we don't have any v6 routers yet, but I feel a little better knowing that I'm helping the transition along in my own small way.

Eesh, is that corny or what?

A bit later

Hmm.. Need to figure out how to get x2vnc to play nice with

QuakeIII running on the Windows box.


Gah! Why can't people who write about this Sircam virus say, ``It's a renamed EXE file. It's like any other program, except this one does bad things. The smallest it gets is about 200kB. It (almost) always puts in the header `X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4133.2400'.''

Interesting character strings:

Portions Copyright (c) 1983,99 Borland
Too many levels of symbolic links
Too many processes
Too many users
Disk quota exceeded
Stale NFS file handle
Posted by mike at 01:30 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 27, 2001

Advogato Entry 158

Hmm.. Advogato seems to be getting slower, at least on some things. Oh well, I'm sure the site is getting more popular..

Anyway, thinking of putting together an updated prc-tools package for Debian. Woody's current package is 0.5.0, while the version out in the real world is 2.0 (or 2.1-something, if you want to be on the bleeding edge).

Gah. I have to do something to justify my presence here. Still not much of an open source hacker yet.

There are tons of things I'd like to work on, if only I had the skill and/or willpower (somethings I have the skill for, others I don't)

  • Decent filemanager [1] [2]
  • UDF CD/DVD write support
  • OpenGL+Xinerama on the G400
  • Various Palm apps

...and, as always, I'm sure there's stuff I'm forgetting.

Hmm. Does Advogato drop </li>? Did I ever actually have to put it in my web pages?


Went to Planet of the Apes. Pretty good flick. Also got my DDS3 tapes in the mail today, and am currently working on backing up my system. Accidentally left hardware compression turned on, so one of my partitions didn't fit on there in a previous run, apparently.

Now it's time for bed.

Posted by mike at 03:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2001

Advogato Entry 159

Tired. Had a fairly unproductive weekend where I sat around the apartment and watched movies most of the time. Saw Planet of the Apes on Friday, Romeo Must Die on tape Saturday, Die Hard Special Edition widescreened on the FX network yesterday, along with A Life Less Ordinary a few hours later. After that, saw Miss Congeniality on tape -- actually much more entertaining than I expected.

So, I'd seen three of them before, although I didn't remember that I had seen A Life Less Ordinary until I'd been watching it for a while. I don't remember when I saw it previously, though some emotions started to come back, so I think I know when it was.. Anyway, that's a pretty funny movie as well.

Very hot and humid outside today. I'm wondering if we'll have some heavy weather to drop the wet out of the air. I hope so...

My campus paper is getting in on the Dmitry Sklyarov case. Hopefully a few people on campus will read it.


Walked home. Nearly cornered by bible-thumpers again. I don't usually have a problem with religious groups, but it's annoying when they keep trying to get me to join them.

Posted by mike at 10:54 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 31, 2001

Advogato Entry 160

Hmm. Rack for servers is still sitting down in the loading dock. Not sure when that will get put together. I'm perfectly happy with it still being in pieces -- I don't really want to move everything again.

Still haven't gotten this WinNT box to crash. I've had it for nearly two months now, and it still works fine. I figure the reason why is because, being a Linux guy and realizing that running as root is not a good idea, I've been logging in as a user, then logging out and logging in as Administrator when I need to install something. Probably keeps things a little saner. It is annoying that I can't just `su' to run installers and whatnot, though. The Amanda backup setup here at work decided to estimate very strangely today. The actual backups were about 2x what the estimate was. The backup started at 1 AM and is still running now at almost 3 PM. Worrisome.

Whoa! Just reminded myself that the amcheck cronjob was just about to run. That probably would have rewound the tape (not that it necessarily matters at this point -- the dumps didn't fit anyway). I think Amanda might be having trouble calculating things when >2 GB dumps are involved.

Got an AIM note from a female friend up north. She's really cute, so it's always a joy to hear from her. I don't have enough girls in my life at the moment.. Wasn't awake this morning when she sent it, though, but I did respond through e-mail. Hope I get to see her again soon.


*sigh* Two weeks ago, the news media was terribly scared about reporting on the Code Red worm. Now they can't get enough of it. Jeez, does it have to require a press conference from the FBI for people to consider it newsworthy?

Bought some music: Paul Oakenfold, Live in Oslo and Orbital, In Sides.

Posted by mike at 01:02 PM Central | Internet , Music , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 01, 2001

Advogato Entry 161

[mike@3po][~]$ grep -c default.ida /var/log/apache/access.log

[mike@chipotle][~]$ grep -c default.ida /var/log/apache/access.log

Interesting how the numbers can sometimes be very different from system to system.


Kind of a weird day today. It actually rained. Walked toward work around 1:00 PM, when the tornado sirens went off as per their monthly testing cycle. Thought about the effects of warning people. Some people don't care, often for good reason. My building has had the fire alarms go off a few times -- I never go. Of course, we're also in an apartment right next to the stairwell.

The media has often been unneccessarily scaring folks. They don't know how to properly target their stories at the people that need to hear them. There more concerned about ``how can we fit this story into the demographic that's watching now?''


Maybe I should float my name around and see if someone will contact me the next time they need someone who knows what they're talking about.

Been looking here and here to watch the worm spread..

Posted by mike at 06:30 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 162

14 yesterday (GMT), so:

[mike@3po][~]$ expr $(grep -c default.ida /var/log/apache/access.log) - 14

The CAIDA graph shows an uptick around midnight GMT. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

Finally added a procmail recipe for getting rid of those stupid SirCam messages. Still testing it, though.

I am now of the opinion that someone should write a worm to go out and disable IIS on vulnerable servers. Shut down the service and set it to be disabled. Perhaps even remove an important EXE or DLL file that is required for it to start up. If nothing is done, the Internet will continue to be polluted by garbage traffic from worms like that.

Makes me think of the noises that surround us every day, and the light of the city at night that keeps people from seeing the stars...


Considering possibilities for active response to the IIS worm. I suspect that many servers that aren't patched for the IDA vulnerability also aren't patched against the Unicode vulnerabilities. It'd probably be easy enough to make a script that references a URL like this , but it requires testing.


Posted by mike at 06:14 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 03, 2001

Advogato Entry 163

49 through the first two days (GMT)

[mike@3po][~]$ expr $(grep -c default.ida /var/log/apache/access.log) - 49

Still haven't gotten any SirCam worms to test my new .procmailrc on. I suspect the university finally started filtering them out.

Looks like caida's graphs disappeared again. Too many people must have been looking at them or something.

Just put together a script for making small histograms. Currently it outputs in three formats. Unix time vs. number of attempts per n seconds, ASCII `*' histogram, and HTML output. That needs a small image to be available, though. See it in action here.

Posted by mike at 07:10 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2001

Advogato Entry 164

74 through the first three days (GMT)

expr $(grep -c default.ida /var/log/apache/access.log) - 74

Went to the TCLUG meeting today. Pretty good presentation on DNS. At the end, I asked about IPv6 stuff.. I hope there'll eventually be a meeting on that (even half a meeting would be really good).

Went to Annie's afterward for a really good hamburger. I had thought about getting a malt as well, but didn't. Maybe I'll have to drag some people over there again soon.

Had to drop back to a week-old version of Mozilla since recent versions have scrollbars that are only half as wide as they should be. Annoying.

Roommate's rent check arrived today. It's due by the 5th, which is tomorrow (Sunday). Not sure if he'll get stuck with a late fee or not.


Trying to get an IPv6 gateway going with freenet6. Having some trouble. Everything seems to look right, and the other system on the network can properly autodetect my router, but nothing seems to be getting through..

Posted by mike at 02:26 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 165

105 through the first four days (GMT)

expr $(cat /var/log/apache/access.log*|grep -c default.ida) - 105

I need to find some other form of entertainment..

Downloaded lxdoom and played it, since Doom apparently rates #1 in games for all time (so far). Unfortunately, it appears that not a whole lot of work has been put into making it work at higher resolutions. It was nearly unplayable at 1024x768 on my 1.3GHz Athlon (and I think it was only scaling the image, not even rendering at that resolution). Reminds me of what it was like on my 386sx/25. The mouse control seemed somewhat screwy too, but maybe it's all due to Xinerama..

Figure I'll put a post up to the LUG and ask if there are any ideas as to what I'm doing wrong with my IPv6 gateway.


Went to Little T's in Uptown for supper tonight. When we were leaving, a few guys commented on my Penguin Computing ``Born to Frag'' t-shirt with Tux holding a rocket launcher from Quake III.

Posted by mike at 08:55 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 166

127 through the first 5 days (GMT)

expr $(cat /var/log/apache/access.log*|grep -c default.ida) - 127

Hmm.. Seems to be around 1/hour. Slowly getting more and more CodeRedII scans. Like I said before, I think it would have been better if a newer variant had just shut down IIS..

Posted a note regarding setting up IPv6. Got one response so far, which wasn't very clear. One thing was that I apparently need a usagi kernel. I think I'll try other stuff suggested first, as I don't really feel like compiling a new kernel..

I should really find some work to do..


Wow. Some people are getting way more hits frome Code Red than I am. Glad I'm not on a cable modem, I guess. Strange how nearly all cable modems are in the 24.x.x.x block. Was that intentional? I live in the 206.blah range, which seems to be spread across a lot of varied stuff, and it appears to be very geographically separated as well.

Sounds like the power company wants people to start turning stuff off. Reminds me that we have the thermostat set pretty low at the apartment. At least one of my roommates likes it cold, which really bothers me. I don't exactly like it hot, but I can't stand it when when my fingers start to get chilled... I think we have finally found a spot that works okay for all of us, but it's still cooler than what I'd like to have it run at.

Of course, we're running it lower than we would if we were paying for electricity separately from our rent...

Posted by mike at 08:58 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 07, 2001

Advogato Entry 167

I think I'm done watching my own logs for Code Red. I now have a script to do that for me ;-)

I'm not getting hit much by CRII, but my family's cable modem is getting hit once every few minutes, for a total now of nearly 2000. I read that CRII has a cutoff date: Oct. 1, 2002.


I need something in my life to change. I feel motivated for a few days, or maybe a few weeks, then I just start to drone on.


Following is the policy for standardizing URLs. The purpose of standardizing our URLs is to create a logical URL system so the user can easily find the site they are seeking.

The Carlson School URL is www.CarlsonSchool.umn.edu The standard URL style for programs/departments/etc. is www.CarlsonSchool.umn.edu/xyz [or www.xyz.CarlsonSchool.umn.edu]


Under no circumstance should Carlson School be abbreviated as csom or shortened to Carlson.

Dinks.. I like `csom.umn.edu' just the way it is..

Heh.. Google rocks

Posted by mike at 10:36 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 08, 2001

Advogato Entry 168

Yay! I got IPv6 routing going. Turned out that I just needed to add a route to 2000::/3 with `ip route add 2000::/3 dev sit1'.

Now I think I'm off to take a shower to see if I can wake up before 9:00..


Installed Debian on a PPro 200. I think that machine is one of only two or three PPros I've ever touched. Rare beasts.

Anyway, it took very little time to install the stuff I needed, since it's just going to be a webserver. Right now, I think the Java development environments on there take up about half the used disk space ;-) I was contemplating using mod_dav, but I'm not sure how to use/secure it yet.

Installed Jakarta Tomcat on the system, and it seems to actually work with Blackdown's 1.3.1 Java 2 environment. Need to find where I'm supposed to put the files so I can actually test it.

Posted by mike at 06:01 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 169


Posted by mike at 06:39 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2001

Advogato Entry 170

Strange that the default.ida PHP responder script I put up yesterday only works against Code Red II. Something about the way Code Red (I) works causes Apache to return a `400 Bad Request' error, so the script doesn't even get run against those hosts. Code Red II handles its HTTP connections differently and allows the script to be run.

Went to the campus net-people meeting yesterday. Always interesting. The first bit was obviously on Code Red. Considering the size of the U of MN, things have gone very well. They said they'd responded to about 40 incidents (probably more infections than that, if it hit a lab or something). Very small for a campus of 40,000+ people (well, when school is in session). They were very agressive about scanning for vulnerabilities when Code Red first popped up, and I think they had been looking for systems with the IDA vulnerability even before then.

Of course, I have no idea how things would have been if school was in session and students had their systems in the reshalls. Of course, the networking folks probably would have blocked port 80 to the dorms starting near the end of June.

Anyway, heard that the state of South Dakota went offline over the weekend due to Code Red II. Not sure if that means the entire actual state, or just state-run agencies like the universities, etc. -- the State of South Dakota.

Real-Time, the ISP that hosts the TCLUG website, was forced to block access to port 80 to most of their dialup, DSL, etc., customers. Their routers' CPUs were pegged at 100%, so they had to do it to save the infrastructure. They did notify their customers about what was going on, though.

I'm not weird for being worried about these worms! I think lots of routers were probably not designed to handle the heavy many-to-many traffic, instead tested for few-to-many or many-to-few.


Hmm.. My thought processes are apparently cutting off in mid-sentence now..

Anyway, migrated our Netsaint/MRTG box from a P200/32MB to a PIII-600/256MB. Got a SCSI drive in the process, and we're ordering another processor. Of course, now that we have more horsepower, we'll be able to scan more systems -- the Novell and Windows systems. It also now has a 100Mbit ethernet card, so I think we'll have to enable 100Mbit speed on the etherjack soon.

Posted by mike at 07:51 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 171

Contemplating how to get the wireless firewall going at work. I'm thinking of supporting two modes of operation.

In `Router' mode, the client system will obtain an IP address through DHCP. This will set up the client to have a default gateway of the firewall. Using IP Tables, all attempts to connect to port 80/tcp will be redirected to port 80 on the firewall. All DNS traffic to port 53 would also be directed to a caching DNS server, so if someone types in `www.yahoo.com', they'll actually get a response. A mini web server running there will only serve HTTP redirects to the secure web server running on port 443. This will present the user with a web page requesting authentication.

I'm still figuring out how to do authentication, but we can either use the local Lotus Notes user IDs, or the campus X.500 directory, both through LDAP (I think). Using the local IDs would only allow people who have e-mail accounts in the School to connect. Using X.500 would allow anyone who has a campus-wide account to get online.

Anyway, the authentication would require a valid username/password, and the request must come from an IP/MAC address combination that was served by the DHCP server. Authenticating would cause the IP/MAC combo to be added to a IP Tables chain, allowing all IP traffic to/from that host.

Nothing would be encrypted, unless it was done at the protocol(?) layer (I need to brush up on that Taco Bell 7-layer model). Therefore, at authentication time, there would be a warning in BIG RED LETTERS that the user is responsible for keeping data secure. We may actually restrict certain traffic to keep people from doing anything stupid, like preventing access to Lotus Notes servers unless data is going over SSL.

Cron jobs would run every 20 minutes or so to flush out the IP Tables entries for hosts that have been idle for a while. They'd probably also try to flag when strange things were happening, like tremendous amounts of traffic flowing to/from certain hosts.

In `Secure Gateway' mode, the clients would authenticate somehow (RADIUS?) and get a single-hop VPN tunnel set up. If I'm not mistaken, this requires two IP addresses per client box, which is really annoying.

Still working out how that would all work.

Posted by mike at 08:02 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 172

Interesting how some scary organizations can sometimes get it right. Well, ``get it right'' is not quite what I'm looking for, since the Taliban is still probably going to try to kill these folks. I dunno.. I just don't think that helping people should involve religion (well, a religious organization helping people who are of the same religion is fine, I guess). Gah.. Why don't I know if President Bush's ideas about Federal funds going to religious organizations went through or not? That was a Really Bad Idea in my book.

Oh well, I don't want to talk too much about that. I know how mentions of religion can cause flare-ups in here..

I was helping our LUG's mailing list dictator set up a default.ida script at his ISP. His server didn't have a compiler, so he couldn't build any new Perl modules. He did have PHP, though, and tried my script. I still haven't heard if any of these scripts for talking back to Code Red II work at all.

I guess I should really try to put one together that starts up Internet Explorer and points it at a page on my system (or probably just a redirect), just so I know if it works or not.

Posted by mike at 12:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 13, 2001

Advogato Entry 173

The graph looks so weird now.

Hmm. Very tired. Need to eat something..

Posted by mike at 07:29 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 14, 2001

Advogato Entry 174

I bought two games from Loki yesterday morning, Railroad Tycoon II and SimCity 3000. Then I saw the Chapter 11 notice. Kind of scary. However, I think I've seen a lot of companies float in and out of Ch. 11 without too much trouble.

I also bought three shirts at ThinkGeek, linux kernel, linux, and I don't work here. It got shipped right away, and it'll even arrive on Thursday! A rarity that anything shipped by UPS ground ever reaches here without going over the weekend.

Don't know when my games will ship, though, and no tracking numbers (AFAIK), as they're going by USPS.

Slowly working on helping some guy print from his Unix account. Not sure when that will wrap up today. I'm not sure of what his exact problem is, and I wouldn't be surprised if it took all day to find out.

I should really head upstairs and talk to my boss a bit about various little things.

Posted by mike at 09:21 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 175

I expected to get a working firewall today, and I did. Always nice to accomplish things.

I have a PHP login script that connects to one of our Lotus Notes servers via LDAP (I hope to go to LDAP/SSL soon) and authenticates. If authentication succeeded, an IP Tables rule is added that matches an IP/MAC pair.

Any packets that don't come from an authenticated address are marked. Of these marked packets, only the ones that are connecting to DNS servers are allowed through. The nat table also has a rule to forward packets destined for port 80 to the local system.

Unauthenticated systems get directed to the firewall's web server on port 80, which replies with a Redirect to the SSL server running on 443.

It's not too complicated, though we'll have to see how hard it will be to deploy.

...when pigs fly!

Posted by mike at 02:12 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 16, 2001

Advogato Entry 176

Spent much of the day tracking down why the wireless firewall couldn't authenticate to the LDAP server.

It was connecting to the wrong system.


My rommate is piling up stuff in our room.

We need a loft.


Posted by mike at 08:01 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 177

My back started hurting yesterday morning when I ran to catch the bus. The day before, I had helped my roommate move in. I guess I should have stretched before carrying all that stuff.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to take it easy for a few days, and then start exercising my back in the mornings (sit ups, stretches).

I hope I'll actually do it -- I have a terrible track record for exercise..

Hoping to get our wireless firewall authenticating to the University's X.500 directory rather than our local Lotus Notes server. Need an LDAP version of it, though.. Hopefully things will work the same. (we currently just do ldap_connect, ldap_bind with server, username, and password, and then ldap_close)


Exchanged a bit of mail with one of the campus networking folks that has been thinking of how to do firewalls. Sounds like what I came up with is almost exactly the same as what he had, though I used Linux and he used FreeBSD. He said that BSD couldn't filter based on MAC address and IP address (at least not at the same time), which works out well for me ;-) On the other hand, if it's decided that IPSec is a good thing to have on these boxes, Linux is still behind (AFAIK).

Oh yeah.. I should go start playing with IP Filter on Solaris..

Posted by mike at 08:42 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 178

I neglected to realize when I bought Railroad Tycoon II and SimCity 3000 that those games are meant to take quite a while to play. Time that I probably don't have.


Saw that Caldera's OpenUNIX 8 contains a `Linux Kernel Personality' which is probably a lot like Linux's iBCS (or whatever it's called these days) for running software on other Intel-based Unices as well as Solaris on UltraSPARC.

Of course, it's probably much easier for a Unix company to add a Linux `personality' than it is to add a proprietary Unix personality to Linux (which is why we aren't running Linux on our Suns right now).

God I hate Solaris..

Posted by mike at 11:18 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 179


Not sure what it is about music, but I always have to keep hearing more of it. I need to listen to new stuff, or my brain turns to mush.. It's something I realized several years ago, though I've always had trouble actually finding music, since nobody on the radio will tell you what they just played. I don't really like it, but I've ended up turning to MTV and (mostly) MTV2 and actually occasionally hearing music I like. At least they label their music..

Tuned in recently to notice Sugar Ray. Some cognitive dissonance there.. I actually like a lot of the music from that guy/group, though I thought I didn't.. Also heard Michelle Branch, who reminds me a lot of a girl I was obsessed over in high school. Strange that the one song of hers I've heard reminded me how I felt back then..

I'll have to pick up some more music to see if I can get my brain to unstick and start thinking again..

Last little note about this: I was watching something about Neanderthals/Cro Magnons last night, and they mentioned something about the brain. They aren't really sure if Neanderthals came up with art and jewelry on their own, or if they learned it from the Cro Magnons. It's interesting because they said something to the effect of, ``The jewelry was a manifestation of something more inside,'' suggesting to me that art is something more than I thought it was. The creative process, I guess, involves art, music, engineering, science. Everything. And if parts are taken away, we stop moving forward. The ``don't touch'' attitude is bad, I think..

I need more art in my life

and a girlfriend..


Exchanged some e-mail with one of the campus networking guys. He's interested in getting together at some point to discuss my firewall ideas in more detail. I should really talk to my boss a bit about it (and the discussion should go all the way up the chain and around the staff, probably). I shouldn't be representing the whole School without some more support (I'm only an underling, so I may have overstepped some bounds..)

I forget how much time can be spent playing games. SimCity moves too slow sometimes. Of course, it moves excruciatingly slow with disasters. Things just don't seem to burn as fast as they did in the previous versions ;-)

I kind of think Loki should see if they can port some older games. Hell, a lot of great old DOS games won't even run on Windows these days

Bah, talking too much. I should get to work.

Posted by mike at 08:39 AM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 180

Kind of a disappointing CD. I think the artist is good, but encumbered by a poor producer that was determined to put those hip-hop wiggy wiggy noises in their somewhere.

Anyway, the summer is coming to an end too quickly for me. I need to also get in to see an advisor about some stuff, make sure that I haven't utterly destroyed my chances of getting through college.

There have been some curious numbers shoved around by the campus newspaper this summer. They've been saying that about half of incoming freshmen don't graduate in six years. They also say that about half don't graduate at all. Not sure if there's overlap there or not.

Folks are starting to show up for Marching Band. I'm not in it this year, but I'm looking forward to hearing them around campus. Also, I hope I'll run into some friends in these next few days.

I think I'm taking an `Internet Programming' class this fall. I'll have to ask a lot of questions about buffer overruns, and how to prevent them.

Posted by mike at 09:42 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 23, 2001

Advogato Entry 181

GNU is Not Unix

I've thought for a while now that the `GNU is Not Unix' statement has turned out to be quite true. GNU is better than Unix, IMHO. The utilities that have been developed are certainly more user-friendly than anything I've found native on Solaris (the only Unix that I've really had a large amount of experience with).

Additionally, Unix is certainly a great example to base an operating system off of, but there's no extreme need to follow that guide exactly.

I'm out of thoughts at the moment. Probably because I got up pretty early today.

I think I'm going to install Debian on the Linux half of my NT box..

Posted by mike at 09:59 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 182

Got Quake III (the real thing, not the demo) going on my computer at home yesterday. It's kind of annoying to play, though, since I usually run a dual-head setup with a Matrox G400, which can't run OpenGL in Xinerama mode. However, it is possible to start up a second X server with DRI going.

I have two layouts now. One is the normal Xinerama layout, and one is for Mesa3D/DRI. The Xinerama layout is default (I think.. I may have had to specify that for gdm), and I can start another X server with `X -layout DRI :1'.

However, it appears that you must load the kernel agpgart and mga modules *before* running even the Xinerama desktop. I'm getting around that problem by adding those modules to /etc/modules. I'm also running an AMD 760 northbridge chipset, which apparently isn't automatically recognized by Linux 2.4.7. I had to create a file in /etc/modutils that contained `options agpgart agp_try_unsupported=1' in it, and then run update-modules.

Fortunately, I have plenty of RAM (512MB), so it's not a problem for me to run two big X servers.

Unfortunately, the DRI X server is so slow and cumbersome at switching video modes that Quake III crashes whenever I try to change the video configuration at all. I still get a decent framerate at 1024x768 and the texture detail all the way up, plus bunches of other goodies turned on, but I'd like to see how fast I can get it all going.

Need to look up what the different variables in q3config.cfg mean.

Heading home today, for the weekend (well, go home Friday, come back Sunday).

Wonder when Debian testing will get XFree86 4.1.0 and kernel 2.4.9. Should make gameplay better..

Hmm. Now to find some work to do..

Posted by mike at 08:05 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 27, 2001

Advogato Entry 183

Cool. Cyclades has two new standalone units for accessing serial consoles over Ethernet. The TS400 and TS800 have an embedded version of Linux on 4MB of Flash, plus 16 MB of RAM. Dual (low-power?) PowerPC CPU.

It might actually be in our price range, finally. We really don't want to take up space with a big PC, PCI card, and the serial port dongle hanging off the back. Not sure if it's worth paying 2-3x the price, though.

Posted by mike at 09:40 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 31, 2001

Advogato Entry 184

Haven't posted for a few days. Been busy getting transferring stuff from an old server to a new one. The new one doesn't seem to broadcast it's NIS domain (or, perhaps, doesn't respond to broadcast queries), so clients have to be specifically told where the NIS server is. That's not so bad, I guess. It's running Solaris 8, while the old one ran Solaris 2.6.

I want to figure out how to enable IPv6 on the new system as well. There was an option when installing, but we were forced to re-install with the network initially disabled (and then clean up the mess afterwards. Why the hell Sun set up /etc/nsswitch.conf the way they did, I'll never understand..

Anyway, the new system is a dual-processor Sun Enterprise 220R, which makes licensing some software more difficult, as the system can support four processors, and some software vendors like to squeeze as much money out of us as they can. We ended up dropping at least one package (though it's still running on another server that is outside of the NIS domain). My boss ordered the Cyclades TS800. We'll have to see how well it works. I suppose we'll have to find some DB25->RJ45 connectors. Maybe we'll be lucky and they'll come with the box. Though they'd probably come with DB25 connectors for PCs, not Suns.

I'm trying to figure it out, are the serial connections on Suns `backwards' compared to PC serial ports? Do you actually need a null-modem cable to connect a PC to a Sun, or can you just use a straight-through cable?

Ordinary null-modem cables obviously don't work, since a female connector won't fit onto another female..

Posted by mike at 05:53 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 01, 2001

Advogato Entry 185

Installed Debian on the old server (an Ultra 30) the other day. We'd been having SCSI troubles with the system back when it was running Solaris, but the errors didn't seem to follow any reasonable pattern, so it wasn't obvious what the problem was.

The server had been our Amanda tape server, and we're planning to keep it that way. The DLT tape drive and an external enclosure with three hard drives in it are connected on the same bus. It turns out that the cables are too long or we're using a bad type of termination. I think..

I set up the internal hard drive to contain the operating system, and the external disks are now set up in a software RAID 0 array (~24 GB total). Once Amanda started running, dumping to disk, and then writing those dumps to tape, things really went nuts. The SCSI bus was resetting every few seconds. Anyway, I'm going to try re-arranging the cables and drives.

Hopefully that will help. Otherwise, I was thinking of either taking the DLT drive out of its enclosure and mounting internally, or getting another UltraSCSI card. The RAID 0 drives were running perfectly when I left work yesterday.

I think I may have to come in this weekend and fiddle with it. Classes start on Tuesday, and I'd really like to not have to worry about stuff going on at work, so hopefully I can get a good, clean start this semester.

Posted by mike at 06:52 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 04, 2001

Advogato Entry 186


Still having trouble with SCSI on the Ultra 30. Also having trouble with software RAID. It destroys the partition tables on the second and third disks in the 3-disk array. The drive just has one big partition, so I may just do it `raw' without any partitions to deal with (/dev/sdX instead of /dev/sdXN).

Wondering if I should report a bug to someone on that.. The disks were using Sun disklabels. Maybe there's a bug that applies to non-DOS partitioning schemes..

Tried putting in an Adaptec 2940UW, but that didn't appear to work. The kernel module just loops forever on initialization, trying to reset the SCSI bus so it can see all of the devices (just a DLT drive). Oh well. Just find a card more appropriate for a Sun, I guess.

Back in the real world, the whole apartment is having an interesting time getting to know a cute girl I've mentioned before. We all gladly drop whatever we're doing when we know she's going to be around. We're all crazy, I guess. I just hope we don't end up doing anything stupid..

Classes just started today. I'm in an `Internet Programming' course, which turns out to be a class on how to do stuff in web pages with JavaScript and Java, and how to do server-side stuff in Perl and Java. We'll also do some actual Internet programming by doing socket programming at the end of the semester, but I'm kind of annoyed that we do all of this web stuff first (and in those languages rather than something nice like PHP ;-)

I can't understand my Automata professor


No wonder this is my third time taking that class..

Posted by mike at 04:41 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 187

Well, I reorganized the SCSI chain. That seems to work. The disk pack self-terminates on the end of the chain, and the tape is in between. I guess the whole system is only going at 20 MB/s now (instead of the max of 40), but that's decent.

My boss was querying me a bit about GNU Octave and how well it compares to Matlab. I'm pretty sure that Octave isn't SMP-aware (though there is an MPI patch that could let it distribute across different systems and perhaps even disparate hardware/OS platforms), and I'm not sure if Matlab can do SMP either (it sounds like there may be an MPI system for Matlab as well, albeit quite costly).

Classes are turning out to be somewhat strange this semester. I've now ended up not having anything on Monday or Friday. I'm still going to get through 13 credits this semester, but it'll just be spread out in a weird way. I also happen to have a class that starts halfway through, and will be when I actually have to start getting up in the morning ;-)

I'm expecting to work quite a bit, though I should probably talk to my boss -- I don't know if they've really budgeted for that possibility. Then again, my pay is inconsequential compared to the other stuff that gets bought..

I think my boss might be starting to plan to use all my available time, though.. just got an e-mail with a bunch of things to do. At least that'll keep me thinking of practical stuff

Posted by mike at 06:17 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 07, 2001

Advogato Entry 188

Work is getting a little too interesting now. I need to make sure I don't spend too much time doing that rather than my schoolwork.

Turns out that the Adacemic Distributed Computing Services is pushing Sun/Solaris solutions, since that's how they get their money. They apparently get a cut of any of those things. They aren't too pleased to help out with Linux stuff.

Still, we're going to eventually be getting Veritas's NetBackup for Linux on Sparc. We'd be able to get it pretty much immediately if we were running Solaris, but I hear it's going to be a few months since we're weird.

Amanda rocks ;-)

I guess we have a few power users that really got interested in the possibility of having a Matlab-like environment with parallel processing capabilities. I'm still working on getting an MPI-enabled version of Octave going. Having some trouble, and trying to find the best way to solve it. I'm doing it on Solaris, which appears to be the problem...

Posted by mike at 02:13 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 08, 2001

Advogato Entry 189

I was in #billennium on irc.openprojects.net. Wow ;-)

Our apartment's female friend appears to have picked the guy she's going to get to know the most. We'll see how that plays out.

Just saw AI at the cheap theater. I thought it was good, but then I suppose I had lowered expectations, since everyone I had talked to had just thought, ``meh...''

Put `set blink-matching-paren on' in /etc/inputrc or ~/.inputrc for paren matching in bash and other programs that use the readline library.

Append `user_pref("capability.policy.default.Window.open", "noAccess");' to your Mozilla prefs.js file to get rid of those stupid popup windows.

Posted by mike at 10:23 PM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 190

I suppose I should write something. The news anchors are very tired at this point. Peter Jennings can barely speak in complete sentences.

I'm concerned about what the military/political reaction will be. I was watching BBC news, which was being broadcast on a local PBS station. One quote of a quote -- ``I hope Bush doesn't make it worse.''

I guess I can't think too well right now. I must have been in shock this morning. Nothing to compare it to. When I first heard comparison to Pearl Harbor, that made the most sense. The best way to put a real label on it. Unfortunately, it's still against faceless enemies.

Posted by mike at 05:30 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 191

``Welcome to the real world''
  -- Morpheus


From the back page of the campus newspaper:

Net: We're not feeling particularily funny today (not that we ever are) but we thought Brain of J said it best:

From Brain of J: Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck

Net: Take it easy, folks ... we'll be back tomorrow, we promise.

Posted by mike at 11:17 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 192

Sent to president@whitehouse.gov:

Mr. President,

I join with the country in grief and sorrow following the tragic events on Tuesday, September 11. However, I worry about the responses that the administration appears to be leaning toward. In the recent news, I have seen great throngs coming together in church and on the streets, hoping and praying for peace. Yet, moments later, there is talk of war.

I think it is important that if we as a nation must retaliate with force and therefore violence, we must be extremely certain of the goals. When I think of this as a war, I see it as a war against violence, hatred, and fear.

Mr. President, I feel that this is a battle that must be fought in the soul, not in the air, at sea, or on the ground. I am grateful to hear that the United States government has attempted to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table (though I am troubled by Israel's response).

Those moments of horror on Tuesday could be the greatest gift the world has ever known. Never before have so many people been united in the pursuit of peace. Therefore, the goal I see is not just the security of our great nation, but security and peace throughout the entire world.

Thank you for your time.


Michael Hicks

Posted by mike at 10:52 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 193

Barely managed to do my homework last night and today. Grr.

I just get distracted when news stories come up. I've been avoiding real work for a week now. I should change that. Of course, it didn't help this morning when a new worm showed up. Sheesh.

Silly Microsoft.

Took a look at the Billboard charts today. Found a song name that seemed very appropriate (though who knows how appropriate the song itself is): ``Bleed American''

From today's campus newspaper: ``We don't live in America. America lives in us.''

Posted by mike at 06:03 PM Central | Internet , Music , Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 194

Worked today on a few little administrative things, mounting some filesystems that hadn't come up for some reason, etc.

Attempted to build a 2.4.9 kernel with RAID 0 support from the Debian sources (and later tried to query why the stock kernel packages don't come with raid modules -- not sure if that got through to the mailing list or not..) Compile failed, probably since I was using gcc 3.0, and the sparc64 compiler at that..

Tried installing Gnome on one of our Solaris servers, since I was having difficulty logging in to CDE or OpenWindows. Managed to crash the system 'cause Ximian's installer _still_ doesn't care when disk space gets completely used up. Sendmail apparently had a fit and caused the system to go down because of a full /var. Too bad that's our freaking Oracle server!

Frantically searched for a way to get it started again. Not sure if it worked or not.

Ralph Nader is going to be at Northrop Auditorium tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 08:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 195

Turns out that other people have had the same troubles I've had using RAID on Linux/[U]Sparc. The disklabels (`partition tables' for you Intel-only folks) would consistently get clobbered on the second and third disks. Best guess is that the Linux RAID code assumes a DOS-style partition table to be there.

Of course, PC partition tables suck anyway. I believe someone should invent or find a better system for Linux to use, with enough room allocated for a good bootloader, and none of that stupid extended partition crap.

Also, it's entirely possible that a very good system already exists. Maybe BSD disklabels? (do they have that annoying `whole disk' thing too? so strange..) I suppose now would be a great time to do it, since LVM is becoming a more common thing. Also, with 64-bit systems becoming more available (sort of), it'd be a good time to get together with the people who build these systems in the first place to define what the BIOS must do to get a system going, what it doesn't have to do, etc.

I better learn a lot more about this before I keep saying what should and shouldn't happen..

Looks like my `atomic clock' finally synced up again last night. In certain weather conditions, it works great. Other times, it's just terrible. I don't think it had gotten synced for the past several weeks. At least my computers all run NTP ;-)

Nader at Northrop tonight.

Posted by mike at 02:03 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 196

Nader can still draw a decent crowd, even on fairly short notice. Near as I can tell, there was less than a week to get the word out on this one. The bottom level of Northrop was nearly full, except for the back corners. The article estimates 2,200 people, though I'm not sure if that estimate was just from a reporter, or based around real numbers from the ticket counter. Of course, it makes things easier when people can just walk there, since the Auditorium is at the center of campus..

Anyway, off to do homework.

Posted by mike at 06:55 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 197

Haven't posted for a few days. Been somewhat busy with homework and, well, being lazy. Currently seeing if I can compile octave-mpi again or not.

Too bad `make -jN' doesn't always work. I suppose people don't like having to set up the proper dependency structures for it..

Stalled too much on homework this weekend. Got it mostly done, but not as good as I could have done. Something just seemed to be missing for me after a while.

I suppose James Randi could probably debunk it easily, but it's interesting that the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton apparently can see changes in the output of random number generators when big events happen, suggesting that thought or emotion can somehow affect the physical world.

I've wondered a lot about my place in the world. Probably any conscious being would do the same. There are the thoughts where you wonder about where, when, and why. Is the world real, or some sort of test for a soul or a mind?

Maybe I read too much sci-fi as a kid, though I think I just identified with it. But it probably had a negative impact, too.

I probably believe a little too much in fate. I just expect certain things to happen in my life. I'll get a girlfriend someday, and things will just happen, right? Unfortunately, it hasn't `just happened' yet. Which all probably just screws up my worldview and makes me feel like I got left out or something, somewhere didn't click when it was supposed to.

I tend to get like this after I've spent too much time sequestered in my room. I need to get out of the apartment more, see more people, and probably get out of town. Again, timing lands in my way. I was hoping to see Zoolander with friends this weekend, but it sounds like they'll be going next weekend, when I'm planning to go home for a few days.

Dammit dammit dammit dammit..

Posted by mike at 09:14 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 198

Went home for the weekend, a nice diversion. Sort of. Got some music: Coldplay - Parachutes, Third Eye Blind - Blue, and Weezer - The Green Album. Mellow stuff..

Also picked up copies of Linux Journal and LinuxFormat. LXF seems chock-full of goodies, but it's spendy since it comes with two CDs and it's from across the pond..

I was successful in my Automata test today. Either the tests are a lot easier this time around, or I'm actually understanding the subject matter. Third time's the charm, I guess.

Internet Programming is still an interesting class. I'm learning much more than I was initially expecting. Sometimes, it's good to have a good teacher tell you what's going on, rather than trying to figure it out by yourself from disparate sources. Certainly, the interactivity of classes is useful.

Feeling decidedly un-interactive with the government and people making decisions about what is going on in Afghanistan. I was somehow hoping we could take a moral high ground of some sort and focus on the humanitarian goal of helping these people out while learning to respect their points of view -- why they hate or dislike us.

Now that bombs have dropped and missiles have flown in, I'm hoping that it was just the opening move in an intricate chess game including many different aspects. We need to put people on the ground, whether they are military or aid workers of some kind. Throughout all of the actions taken, we need to work to uphold the ideals put forth in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and other foundational documents.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Democracy, equality, free speech, and free trade.

The US shouldn't be in the country-building `business,' but we appear to be falling into that role. This nation certainly has limits, and we can't be a global policeman or carpenter or whatever forever. It all takes time, money and energy that we don't have endless stores of. We can do a lot, certainly, but it shouldn't get out of hand, either.

Life is often about striking balances, finding the middle ground. Politicians may be a little too good at this sometimes (actually, they're not -- they're just vague enough to fake it). I know we can help build a stronger, more tolerant Afghanistan. Hell, how much money will it take to replace those bombs and missiles we sent in? I'd rather that money get spent on building rather than destroying.


Tried to get the shower flowing again, without much luck. Tried some off-brand de-gunking fluid that may have not been the best solution.. Flow rate may have improved slightly, but not much.

Time to empty the dishwasher, I think...

Posted by mike at 04:56 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 199

The topic that won't die

Had a bit of a confrontation on IRC today, talking with someone from the LUG about the current wave of nationalism. He couldn't refrain from referring to our country as `ameriKKKa' all of the time. Got annoying after a while.

There is no doubt in my mind that there have been atrocities in this country, and that we've done un-good things in other parts of the world. However, I can't live if I think that the only direction this country is going is down.

Most of this country's founding fathers owned slaves. These people who promoted the ideals of freedom and justice had their dark sides. That can't be denied. However, they also knew that they were going to make mistakes when they wrote the Constitution that would bind the colonies together. The constitution can be amended. They strove to keep a balance between the different branches of government.

We have problems, but it's not like we haven't been working on them. It takes time, obviously, and there is that chance that we'll fail miserably at some point. However, at this point, I see a bright future for our country.

It's important to stay informed -- that's probably the biggest single problem we have. The media (mostly TV) is often sensationalistic, and can cause the public to be misinformed or uninformed. Then public opinion polls can be slanted in unusual ways, causing politicians to push ideas they may not believe in.

On a politics mailing list that I'm on, there has been recent discussion and praise for the `question time' that many European parliaments have. I saw the Canadian parliament doing it on C-SPAN a week or so ago. One hope I have is that this practice will come to the US in some form. Perhaps not a formal event in the halls of the Capitol, but any way we can get our congresscritters more animated is a good thing.

Of course, too much speed can be a bad thing. Knee-jerk legislation is an evil that we need to be watchful of. I wrote to one of my senators (at least I think I did -- I'm not sure if that web form actually did anything) and asked him to be careful about how he moved in this time. I requested that if he is not able to fully read proposed legislation before it is put up for vote, he should either not vote on it, or should vote against it.

I think I'm becoming more concerned about what's going on in Afghanistan. I'm just not sure what the military has as its goal. Obviously get rid of bin Laden, but what about promoting freedom?

Posted by mike at 10:40 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 200

Never knew how cool CGI.pm was. Doing some homework with it..

Wonder when I should update my homepage. It's been a while. I'd like to re-do it in PHP or CGI.pm. I wrote some really nasty routines for doing stuff in Perl the last time around. I'd really like to clean it up.

Of course, I probably won't get around to doing that until I leave college..

Posted by mike at 12:49 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 201

Galeon rocks! I still don't like lots of stuff that went into Mozilal/Gecko (stupid to build cross-platform widgets, IMHO), but this interface is really nice. I even noticed that if you middle-click on a folder in a bookmark toolbar, you open the entire folder in new tabs (or windows, if you like that sort of thing). Very cool.

I don't think I'll be writing too much in this diary for a while. My emotions have been stirred up, probably due to many things, and I'm not sure if emotion stuff is good to write here.

Suffice it to say that I've been really looking for interpersonal contact much more lately. It's not something I'm good at, and writing much about it would probably only make me more frustrated, forcing me to re-live failures. Anyway, I'm in a tough place right now.

My roommate has a very beautiful girlfriend, and I can't help but think I have a chance with her (yeah, right). I have to work to find someone else, otherwise I'll just drive myself nuts pursuing someone I can't have.

On a completely different topic, I've noticed how Sci-Fi literature, movies, and TV has really been around to help us explore possibilities -- ones that have turned into reality in the last month and a half.. Perhaps that's why I see the technical community seeing these events in a different light..

Posted by mike at 07:42 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 23, 2001

Advogato Entry 202

Thinking of hacking on `gv', just so that it will display right on my Xinerama desktop. All I want is for it to understand that my pixels are still roughly square.

Interesting that `xdpyinfo' reports

screen #0:
  dimensions:    2880x1200 pixels (330x252 millimeters)
  resolution:    222x121 dots per inch
Posted by mike at 10:02 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 203

Yay! I submitted a Xinerama patch for gnome-gv (a.k.a. ggv) to the Debian bug tracking system. Now to try for gv.


Got gv done before I headed to work (late) today.

Bug for gv. Bug for gnome-gv.

Posted by mike at 08:39 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 27, 2001

Advogato Entry 204

Hmm. Mozilla has trouble picking font sizes on my computer. Appears to be an issue with the interaction of Mozilla, Xinerama, and the X font server. TrueType fonts seem to exacerbate the problem, but it's hard to be sure.

Hopefully I can find where the bug is, if there is one, this week during Mozilla's bugweek. I think, just like with gv and gnome-gv, it's calculating DPI of the screen incorrectly. If I specify the font size to be 14pt (what my normal font is set to in browser settings), I get a font much larger. Huge, in fact.

Even 8pt text is big. It's crazy.


Saw Iron Monkey. It's more bloody than the other Kung-Fu movies I've seen, so Quentin Tarantino supporting it isn't too surprising.

Driving back, I was reminded of the fluidity of life. I don't spend much time in cars, so I forget how driving can be like a dance, and how traffic has such interesting motions. In my life, where things are often measured in frames-per-second, it's good to be reminded that the real world is much more continuous.

I really wish I'd dated at least a girl or two in High School. I still don't know how this sort of thing works. Not that I have any opportunity to find out at the moment..


Posted by mike at 10:28 PM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 28, 2001

Advogato Entry 205

Posted by mike at 05:35 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 31, 2001

Advogato Entry 206

Dealing with a crappy Internet connection in the apartment. The whole building is on a T1, which really isn't enough. I bet people have been sharing loads of stuff with Morpheus or something.

The connection to the outside is slowly getting better. Recent measurements indicate packet loss has finally dropped below 50%.

Very high quality Internet connectivity is definitely something I miss from my college dorm days.


Crap.. it was my stupid hub the whole time.. well, I still have terrible ping times to the outside, but it's not dropping 90% of packets or anything..

Dammit dammit dammit..

Posted by mike at 08:29 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 01, 2001

Advogato Entry 207

Bah. Text editors have a tendency to go too far in n directions at once. I like the quick startup associated with vi-like editors, though the various modes are a little confusing. If I'm not in insert mode, I often accidentally do something strange (like paste in a huge chunk of stuff). I prefer a better distinction between `command mode' and `edit mode'

I think I would have gotten along with PC DOS's editor really well if I'd had more time to play with it before I went completely to Linux.



SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN: We interrupt this column with the latest on the Anthrax scare. The band is currently touring the continental U.S., last seen in a nightclub outside Des Moines, terrorizing citizens with their savage brand of speed metal. Rumors of Anthrax visiting the White House are unsubstantiated, but one inside source said, "I'd sure like to see them tour with Bush." At which point several Secret Service men wrestled him to the ground, bitchslapped him, and detained him for "making threats to the President." We now return to the column already in progress.

Posted by mike at 05:29 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 208

We've been having some strange network problems here at work. Turns out that our main router hasn't been updated. Ever. The warranty even ran out in 1998. Anyway, my boss (the main Unix guy here) is working with someone. I think he's probably a Rent-a-Guru from on campus, so hopefully he's not completely milking us for money ;-)

Our main networking guy is out of town for a few weeks. Looks like he's barely held things together. Not that he had the best setup when he came in -- we have a very strange network configuration that was set up when the building went up. Our netmask is Addresses go from x.y.112.0 to x.y.119.0. The network is pretty well flooded with Windows systems advertising their presence, along with IPX traffic and other fun stuff.

We've been looking into the possibility of putting our servers behind a firewall of some kind, but that would require splitting off a new subnet. That would require a huge revamp of the current network architecture.

Yeah, it all sucks ;-)

Anyway, looks like I might get sent to a mini Cisco course to learn about this stuff. I should really learn about SNMP at some point, too. We have MRTG on our network. I'm supposed to help administrate it, but I have no idea how that stuff works. I see lots of things like, but have no idea what they mean.

Ah, the joys of working with technology

Posted by mike at 09:38 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 209

Tired.. I'm going to bed soon.

Friends are trying out WinXP. I guess they like it. I'm still concerned about it. I hope the government will give Microsoft an appropriate punishment for what they've done. I've heard this includes making versions of Windows that don't have Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, which should be interesting.

Went to a talk of sorts on LDAP over the weekend. It wasn't a great presentation, but I think it would be great if we could merge our authentication systems together where I work. One tree for all that stuff would be nice.

Got DVDs working again on my system. Turns out that I just had a bad symlink. /dev/dvd was pointing at my second hard drive rather than the DVD drive (oops).

I need to set aside some space for a true /var partition on my system. A 200MB root filesystem including /var just doesn't cut it these days.

Posted by mike at 09:12 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 210

dammit dammit dammit

Posted by mike at 06:43 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2001

Advogato Entry 211

*sigh* My internet connection sucks. There must be someone in the building that is running a KaZaA supernode or something. Not a nice thing to be running on a T1. Oh well.

Started playing with Squid as a web cache on my computer. I'll have to see if I can get my roommates to sign on and use it. It'll probably be pretty pointless otherwise, as I'd be the only one using it.

It took a while to figure out how to convince Galeon how to use the damn thing.. The dialog box didn't really do anything with what I typed in. I just set up Mozilla to use a proxy, then copied the relevant lines into Galeon's prefs.js

I actually signed up with IRCache. Dunno if that's a great idea. I picked two sites, uc and startap. I still have to wait a day or so before getting an account. Both sites are close, somewhere around 8 hops away (their networks are blocking traceroutes somewhere). Still, ping times to them can be pretty nasty, in the 300-500 ms range. It makes web browsing slow, and it feels like I'm on a modem. However, big transfers still work pretty well, and I can get 70kB/s or so from nearby sites.

Things used to be better, and I was able to do something like 160kB/s.. It's really annoying, and I'm debating whether we should look at a cable modem or something as an alternative to the apartment building's network.. It requires more research than I really want to do..

Posted by mike at 09:25 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 212

Well, I got an IRCache account. One of the servers I selected seems to cause traffic through Squid to hang, so I'm not peering with that one right now.

This will be an interesting experiment. I'm not sure if it will help my browsing at all, since ping times can sometimes be atrocious, and any extra traffic to the outside will probably just slow things down even more. It certainly doesn't help that most of the sites I visit are largely dynamic.. Even images (well, ads) are produced on the fly in many cases.

Anyway, it will be a while before I really notice any improvement or whatever. It's Sunday now, and traffic is at its lowest point. Ping times are reasonable, and I should really do some homework..

Posted by mike at 10:37 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 213


Then again, it is sweeps week..


Okay, this is on an annoying site, but look at what political cartoonists are doing these days. A stunning theme, if you ask me.

What's Bush rated at again?


It's organizations like this that really screw things up. And there are plenty where that came from. I have little doubt that if public companies were more honest about their earnings, the economy wouldn't be in the shape it is..

yakk: you evil bastard. Er, uhm. Sorry. It's just that people like you have been smashing my bandwidth to pieces...

Posted by mike at 10:46 AM Central | Comedy , Corporations , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 214

Well, I decided to snmpwalk my building's router, and was somewhat surprised to see that it actually worked! I'm now graphing traffic in and out of my apartment building with MRTG. As I suspected, the connection is pretty much maxed out. What surprised me was that outgoing traffic was the big culprit. Okay, that fact didn't surprise me, but I was amazed at how big the effect was. I thought that both incoming and outgoing would be pretty much pegged, but outgoing traffic was maxed (around 189kB/s -- the maximum theoretical bandwidth of a T1 appears to be 192 kB/s) and incoming showed a fairly normal curve. Annoying that it looks like there are just two or three people sharing lots of data and screwing up the connection for everyone else..

I'd like to learn how to make prettier graphs with RRDtool, but then I need to learn a new `frontend.' Of course, the current method for configuring MRTG sucks anyway. It's really annoying to have to modify line after line after line just to duplicate an entry for a new interface or host. Maybe I should just look at some config file generators..

Finally sent in the booklets for Nielsen ratings. They might not count what we watched, since I mailed them a few days late. Who knows. Of course, my roommates didn't really bother to keep track anyway..

I got tangentially involved in the news in the last week. A news crew from WCCO followed some folks from a new security company in town around downtown and the campus looking for open wireless networks. They apparently printed to some people's printers and sent out forged e-mail. They stood outside where I work, and started accessing professors' computers. Needless to say, the wireless firewall project got a kick in the rear to get operational soon.

It's really close to being ready anyway. Unfortunately, we won't have any encryption mandated on the network, so we'll have to block some of the nastier protocols that let passwords go out in the clear a little too much. Telnet, FTP, POP3, and IMAP are all probably going to be blocked. Debating locking out SMB shares as well..

In my Internet Programming class, I was happy to learn about pseudo-terminals. If it's not already obvious from the screen, they're `virtual' terminals which are moderately easy to hook up to a program. He showed an example of using Perl's IO::Pty and Net::Telnet to run ssh. Pretty funny, but it looks like it should work.

I need to write a chat server and client in Perl this weekend. I suppose I could emulate the behavior of talk if I really felt like it.. Probably too much effort..

There's a big orange sign on the front door notifying our building management that they forgot to pay for sewage service. I wonder if the city posted that today.. The stupid office people usually aren't around on weekends at all anymore.

Hmm. I should go buy some music.. The stuff I'm playing is becoming very redundant..

Posted by mike at 11:40 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , TV , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 215

Started mounting my roommate's shared files over SMB again. We're nearly equal in the number of songs we have. It adds up to around 5000. Way too big to easily handle in Xmms's ordinary playlist. I really need to work on my web/database interface.. It just seems like nobody's done a good one yet. I also really want to figure out how to integrate it properly with Icecast or something, so all of the rommates can be listening to a single audio stream.. Of course, keeping that synced up could be a big problem..

Posted by mike at 11:33 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 216

The director of the U of MN's Marcding Band is a really inspiring guy, almost always full of energy. However, he's said that he couldn't have all of that energy if he didn't surround himself with great people.

While I doubt I could ever be as energetic as he is, I completely understand that. I do my best work and have the most motivation when I'm surrounded by good people. Sometimes it's so hard to keep these groups together, though.


I suspect my roommate's girlfriend might be coming over tonight -- another roommate borrowed her cell phone today. I've had a slow day, and I really want to give her a hug. Well, I'd love to do more than that, but it would be inappropriate.

One time when she came over, I reached my arms out in a motion to hug her without even realizing it. I still wonder sometimes why I did that. I'm not sure if I was imagining her as my girlfriend, or if it was simpler than that (or vice-versa..)

I really need to find some new/different music.. Hopefully it will get me out of this slump.

Posted by mike at 06:50 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 217

Need to write a chat client/server combo in Perl. They must allow asynchronous communication, which probably involves fork()ing and other stuff.

Must be done by tomorrow midnight.


If it weren't for Thanksgiving, the University wouldn't let us go home all semester. Only two more days of classes, then I get a four-day weekend.

Gah! I just keep having trouble. I'm getting stuck in a rut again, where I just can't stop feeling sorry for myself for not having a girlfriend. Unfortunately, that's one thing that won't get much better when I go home. The change of scenery will do me good, but there's about zero chance of me meeting someone.

Posted by mike at 04:10 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 218

[root@body][~]# ps ax|grep life
   12 ?        D     22:55 life

Waiting for something good to happen.


I got my hug! Woo! A few days late, though..

Must focus on homework.

Posted by mike at 08:33 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 219

Gah.. I really should find a good diary program for myself. No sense in filling up Advogato with much more of this mushy stuff.. Then again, reading other people's comments reminds me that we're all human.. Blah, blah, blah..

Got the important bit of my homework done last night. Thank goodness the assignment was pretty easy (and done in Perl). I don't know if I would have gotten anywhere, though, if Sarah hadn't shown up.

I actually talked with her a little bit, a pretty rare thing for me. Of course, the most interesting bit was when she was helping us clean up the apartment (okay, she was being nice and doing most of the work :-p ). A weird little subject popped up, and we were just ``on the same wavelength'' as one of my roommates mentioned a moment later. That was really cool.

The most interesting thing was my roommate's comment. I think he saw something between Sarah and me. He just looked at us and said, ``Wow, you guys,'' with a look on his face that told me he saw something he never expected. I think he was happy to see it.. I just hope that what he saw involves me and Sarah moving closer together.

Sarah is not my girlfriend -- she's involved with another roommate. I'd hate to have to hurt him, as he gets pretty well shit on in many cases. But I can't turn off my feelings. I really just need to see where it all will go.

Posted by mike at 07:17 AM Central | Erik , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2001

Advogato Entry 220

Toorkey Dey!! Bork Bork Bork!
Posted by mike at 10:40 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 23, 2001

Advogato Entry 221

Spent a while talking to my Dad about the wireless firewall project I've been playing with for months. I was reminded of some of the reasons why we wanted to use `real' IP addresses instead of RFC1918 `internal' addresses. We wandered onto the subject of the new version of IP, IPv6. I believe he wasn't aware that it used 128-bit addressing.

Anyway, I'll probably be replacing our home's Linux IP Masq gateway with a Linksys router. My Dad isn't a Linux guru, so I'm sure he'll appreciate the web-based administration. Also, it's probably slightly less politically charged than having a Linux box sitting there. Annoying that Linux users even have to think about that..

My family is planning to go see Monsters, Inc. tonight.. Not sure if I'll do any shopping this weekend. If I do, I'll have to see if anything jumps out at me as a gift for Sarah -- her birthday is Sunday.

Posted by mike at 06:34 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 222

It's Sarah's birthday today. I have to remember to at least send her an e-mail. I kind of wanted to get her a gift, but I had no idea what would be good.

Anyway, heading back to school later today. Not even sure yet if my brother and I will be taking a car. My birthday is at the end of the week, so I suppose he'll want it around so he can go shopping.

Saw The Dish last night. Pretty good movie about the radio telescope in Australia that picked up the TV images of the moon landing. Pretty funny, too, though it made me realize that the Australian accent is a little harder for me to understand than I thought it was.

Carrier Pigeons! hehe..

Well, I did quite a bit of stuff over break. Thank goodness none of it involved school.

Posted by mike at 08:00 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 223

Well, of course, it turns out that Sarah turned 21 last night. Her pre-college friends and current roommates worked pretty hard to get her drunk, though she seemed to be taking it pretty well by the time I and my alcohol-free roommates left her with those folks at around 11 PM.

Actually, we first went to Cattle Company (a.k.a. Stuart Anderson's). Had some steak. Got full. Then we went to a bar a short distance away.

My roommates and I mostly stood around looking dumb. I must have been looking really dumb, since one of the first people I was introduced to was `Gay Paul.' That did wonders for my self-esteem, let me tell you (*cough*).

Ended up watching some of the people there play pool. Tried to fix one of the little web terminals that was there (kinda wish I'd had a BBC on me), but it was running WinME -- probably not worth resuscitating anyway...

Got a picture taken with Sarah. I probably looked stiff as a board or something (I don't really photograph well), but hopefully it'll turn out. Got a nice hug as we were leaving, so that made me feel pretty good. It was probably alcohol-induced though. She left a pretty funny voice message with us at some late/early hour. It's saved, so we can play it back to her anytime ;-)

Anyway, still slowly hacking away at the wireless network firewall at work. I haven't been working on it hard enough, though I've been waiting for folks to finish other things..

Don't forget, Star TrekWeakest Link is starting momentarily. I only ever watch Weakest Link when they have celebrities on. It's usually pretty funny, though they're often evil people, and usually kick off the best players...


Wow. The Star Trek folks were pretty cool, and usually picked appropriate people to kick off. Wil Wheaton managed to stay in the game for quite a while -- he was the last one to walk off the stage before Levar Burton and Robert Picardo duked it out.

Wil was playing to support the EFF, so too bad he didn't win.

Posted by mike at 04:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , TV , Wil Wheaton , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 28, 2001

Advogato Entry 224

Despite the fact that a lot of the folks in the Rochester, MN Linux Users Group work for IBM (presumably, they're smart people), a lot of them seem very prone to spreading rumor and fallacy.

Mushy stuff, move along

Thinking about Sarah way too much. I'm worried it's becoming unhealthy. If I can't at least start to straighten things out in my head over the next few days, I think I'll have to start talking to someone. It might be partially induced by the fact that my birthday is coming up, and I've let another year pass by without experiencing some things that I really want to do.

However, over the last few days I think I realized that a feeling I had associated with love/infatuation/etc. actually turns out to be something completely different. When my heart `skips a beat,' it seems to be a warning. It seems to be that I know there's something I should be doing, and another part of me is holding me back. I often get it when I'm sitting at home procrastinating.

I thought I was getting the feeling because I was feeling lonely or something. I had associated it with love because of a big string of mistakes I made in high school when I was infatuated with a girl there. Now, I need to figure out what the right things to do are when I get this feeling. Sometimes it's easy to know what to do (ie, when I'm procrastinating). Other times, when many things are going on, like in a social environment, it's much harder.

I've been thinking about this because of Sarah. I've had strong feeling for her. However when I actually got close to her and talked to her, I felt something completely different from what I'd come to expect. That mismatch has led me to re-examine many things. Unfortunately, it seems to be pretty dangerous, and I've been on a rollercoaster these past few days.

Still, if I fall back to the old me, I probably wouldn't last. There are a lot of pent-up feelings that I have to purge. If it turns out that I'm holding onto a lot of emotional baggage that was mislabeled, it'll probably be a huge load taken away. I just hope I'm headed in the right direction.

Posted by mike at 08:59 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 29, 2001

Advogato Entry 225

I turn 23 today. Whee. So many things I have yet to do.

As far as my screwy brain goes, I'm feeling much better today. It's amazing how my mind wanders sometimes, and annoying how much I can be affected by stress. Too bad life doesn't have a pause button.

Did a little holiday shopping. Got a book for my dad.


Doctor Tosney, I presume?

Posted by mike at 06:53 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 226

Stupid window is leaking again. Thought they fixed that..

A lot of melting snow today..

Before I forget ('cuz I know I will), I have to put down some infatuation-related thoughts.

I wrote a note to one of my friends, mentioning that I really like Sarah. I was hoping he'd have some great words of wisdom, but it didn't really happen. At least he wasn't mean about it or anything. The thing that I wanted to remember was that right now, all she sees is Josh. I'm nowhere near smooth enough to know how to change that, so I don't think that would be a good thing to waste time on.

I figure all I can do is be myself. I should keep trying to figure out how to get to know girls, rather than just waiting for them to walk into my life. I want to ask my friend to try to help me out. If he hears of things looking up for me with Sarah, I hope he'll let me know. I just hope I can accept that it might never happen.

I hope I can start talking about computer stuff in this diary again.. Less stressful..


Reminded yet again that I have very different perception of events when they are happening versus before/after. When Sarah visits, I'm in a different state than when she's away, and I think of her differently.

Sorry for writing this here.. I really need to find a better place to write down this stuff.

I've been meaning to have a diary program of some sort on my computer for ages, but I never got around to writing one (back in my DOS days), and I'm sure that there are umpteen packages for Linux these days. Web interface would be easiest, I suppose. Probably wouldn't be too hard to make one, just have to do it.

Posted by mike at 12:54 PM Central | Abode , Erik , Josh , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2001

Advogato Entry 227

Dammit.. Automata and I just don't get along. This is the third time taking that course, and I just might make it through this time. Sucks rocks.

Looks like I'll get an A in Internet Programming by hardly trying. Taking a `work factors analysis' course that I'll probably tank. Then there's this strange business school course I'm taking. I should pass it, but we get nearly zero feedback in the course. One assignment, two exams. The average time I'll spend on each exam will probably be around 20 minutes. Very weird.

Sarah surprised us by showing up after work. She needed cheering up as her boss was picking on her for some stupid reason. I guess she spent a lot of time ripping out and replacing an audio console at the theater where she works (`theater' as in plays, not movies).

Dunno what she can do about her boss, but I figured that she should get an ego boost if she can show off the work she's done. I guess she doesn't know who to show it to, though.

Well, I think about her too much, so I should stop. When I think about what to say to her, I tend to get stuck. I walked into the room last night with no idea of what to say. That works so much better for me, which seems strange.

Crap.. Now I really need to stop.

Posted by mike at 07:09 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 05, 2001

Advogato Entry 228

Need to study today. Probably skipping a class to do it.

Wow. It's over 60°F outside! That's not right for December in Minnesota.. It's still cold up north, though.. A big front must be sitting right on top of us, so it's probably going rain a fair bit today.

Didn't see Sarah yesterday, so nothing to speak of. I thrive on news and facts, so my lack of ability to know things in this situation drives me a bit batty.. I have to get thinking about other things, or I over-analyze the little tidbits I have.

Put together a simple webmail CGI script for a class in a few hours last night. I could have made a better script if I'd just spent more time on it, but I've done too well on my other assignments in that class. I think I still managed to do everything that was required of me, except for trying to encode the username and password of the user somehow rather than just having it in plaintext in the HTML that got spit back out.

The Unix Users of Minnesota are hosting a talk at the University tonight with an assistant to the Attorney General of MN. The discussion will be centering around the Microsoft case. It'll be pretty interesting after hearing the Wine talk on Saturday from the Codeweavers CEO. I guess the AG's office got in contact with Codeweavers, asking for some input on the case. One suggestion from them was that a third party should review Microsoft's code, and document the API, which would then be available freely. Probably better than telling MS to do it themselves..

Posted by mike at 08:13 AM Central | Law , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 229

I'm a citizen of the United States, I was born here and I'll probably die here, but I'm feeling more and more that I don't belong here. I don't support the military action taking place these days. I didn't vote for the President we currently have, and he's not getting my sympathy for having fallen into the situation we have these days.

I'm still proud of the fact I voted for Nader. Yes, I actually did think about the Middle East before I voted. Yeah, it's crappy that the US's current voting system made the last presidential election a big mess. I hope more people will work to fix it..

I feel I have little voice these days as the rights of me and my friends are slowly being eaten away. Still, I have to try do to a little. I'm going to try to see if I can come up with decent reasons why the Microsoft settlement sucks. After that, I'm planning on working with others to try to put together a summit on Intellectual Property (and some related subjects).

I've felt stressed about these things for a while, but I've avoided thinking about them because it's so hard for one person to change things. It's not impossible, but it really helps to have the support of others.

This leads me back to the feeling of being in the wrong place. I feel like I'm in a tiny minority. And, well, apparently I am (if you watch the polls out there). I'm really suspicious that the pollsters are somehow skewing numbers. I just can't believe the numbers that I'm seeing.

And, well, since I haven't heard anyone say it for a while..

Screw you, President Shrub..

Posted by mike at 02:49 PM Central | Law , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 08, 2001

Advogato Entry 230

Tired. I got up early this morning. It's something that I do on Saturdays for some reason. It turned out to be somewhat of a good thing, as I gave Dan a ride to his GRE test this morning. He was planning on leaving at 8:00 to get to the exam, which was supposed to start at 8:30. It takes half an hour to walk there, though I don't think he knew that. He usually only walks half that far to get to class and work -- the exam was held on the opposite end of the campus.

The Minnesota campus is pretty big, it's on both sides of the Mississippi up here (granted, the river isn't too wide here, it's about as far north as barges ever get).

I was expecting to chat with Sarah, as she usually gets bored while working as a lab attendant on Saturdays. Turned out my AIM client needed to get kicked -- it was showing out-of-date info on who was online. My roommates were talking with her, so I was getting a bit confused.

Anyway, we're all going to the dance performance she's been doing the audio setup for. Hopefully it'll be good. She's been having a crappy time lately -- lost her keys to her apartment, car, and the audio studio she's been working at. Also lost a CD folder thingy with ~30 discs in it. Thinking of buying her some music for Christmas, though I don't know what.

Roommate just heading to bed, so I better quit.

Posted by mike at 09:15 PM Central | Dan , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 231

Tired again, though I got up later today. That usually happens, too. I didn't get up early enough to keep Josh from waking up Dan two hours earlier than he had to be up. Josh thought we were all leaving to see a dance performance at noon. Sarah had told me that it was 2:00. I'd asked her, since I thought I heard Josh say noon, which seemed really weird for a Sunday (or, well, any day). Anyway, I didn't correct him until this morning, as I thought I'd just mis-heard him -- I didn't know he actually thought it was the wrong time.

Anyway, it was a good show. Five different dance routines. They were all pretty cool, though the last one was the best, IMHO. It had some good music. I guess I first thought it seemed pretty superficial and simple, depending on the music too much. Maybe it was, but it got the biggest applause, and it felt inspiring. I'm not sure what it was supposed to inspire, though ;-)

I have yet another programming assignment due on Tuesday at midnight. I have a test this week, then finals start next week. I should try to attend all my classes, get some review in for the finals. I also need to try to fit in some time with an advisor, though I don't know if that will happen.

I think I forgot to mention earlier that the wireless project is finally getting off the ground at work. Students, faculty, and staff can log in with their x.500 IDs, and they can even set up a `permanent' (semester-long) account that doesn't require them to keep logging in.

It's still a very poor security model. I wish it could be made better, but I just don't have the time or resources to research the options as a student.

Of course, I'm lazy. I don't know why that is. I've blamed it on my lack of female companionship, but it's impossible to say if that's it or not. Sarah continues to fill up a big chunk of my thought process... I hope I can come to some resolution to this stuff rolling around in my head. Unfortunately, Christmas break will probably be a stressful time for me in this regard, no matter if she becomes closer to me or not. Well, I don't know if I could keep my thoughts straight if we became closer -- I've never been in that sort of situation. I do know that I'll start having strange thoughts if things stay the way they are now...

Hmm... I wonder if I'll be bringing my computer home this Christmas. I haven't had two monitors at home before. Dunno if I'd bring both or not. I should just buy a laptop like Dan's. Crap.. I'm almost ready to shell out what Dan did to get his. It was like $2500! I'd want something lighter, though. His feels like a brick (though he usually has two batteries installed at a time to increase the time he can spend away from a wall jack). Needs more research.

He's been having some trouble with his wireless card. He thought it could do 128-bit WEP, but I guess not. I've been asking some questions on the TCWUG list, though his computer is running XP, so I'm not going to get into too many details.

Sometimes I'm amazed at how good XP is. Linux is awesome as well. The difference to me seems to be that XP seems to be a lot of flashy stuff without a huge amount of substance. Linux is the other way around. Well, that's my impression at least.

Well, the thoughts have stopped flowing for today...

Posted by mike at 06:27 PM Central | Dan , Josh , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 232

While I wait for Amanda's configure to finish running on my SS20, I may as well put some words down.

Like I said, I'm compiling an Amanda client on an SparcStation 20 box. It's really only running one piece of software, something that handles room registration for classes and whatever. I guess it has data going forward a few years!

Anyway, it's going to be retired sooner or later. I'm hoping sooner, but who knows if that'll happen.

Chatted with Sarah on AIM quite a bit last night. She was working on an audio project, putting together some music. I guess she ran low on time, and isn't feeling so good about the quality of her work. I made some feeble attempts to cheer her up, but I don't know if they worked at all. About all I could do was wish her luck -- she's presenting it today.

Woo! Amanda finished compiling. Looks like I managed to install it properly, too.

Posted by mike at 09:37 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advogato Entry 233

Heavily considering shelling out cash for a Dell Inspiron 4100 with a UXGA display. My roommate got an 8100, but it's too heavy (and expensive!) I'm looking for something lighter than that, and not too likely to kill my pocketbook. I can get a configuration I like for about $1700. Well, I'll probably later spend another $60-$100 on a few hundred megs of RAM, plus some more for a wireless ethernet adapter.

I'd really like to get a laptop with Linux pre-installed, or no operating system at all, but that's not going to happen with the prices they're going at these days. I just can't justify the sacrifice when it comes to that much money.

Anyway, I guess I'm not sure if I really need the high-res screen. I'd probably be happy with SXGA (1280x1024) or SXGA+ (1400x1050). If I do get the UXGA screen, it'll have a pretty awesome DPI, though -- about 140! That also means that plenty of stuff will be downright tiny. Oh well..

I haven't been doing any open-source coding lately, but I've submitted a few bug reports! :-p I'm sure plenty of folks groan at that... It would seem to me that anyone who would like to contribute to open source should do some digging in bug databases. There are plenty of things to fix ;-)

Sounds like Sarah's presentation of her audio project went well, which is good. I, on the other hand, just managed to not finish my last programming assignment in Internet Programming. Oh well.

That class is kind of weird, though. The average score for the homeworks is something like 47/50 and the median score is 50/50 on most of them! Isn't that insane? It's not like they're the easiest projects in the world, though we weren't getting killed by them. I have to think, either the graders are too nice, or the students enjoy programming too much ;-)

Posted by mike at 10:02 PM Central | Dan , Internet , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 13, 2001

Advogato Entry 234

I think I'll hold off getting a laptop until after Christmas. Still not sure if I want the system I mentioned previously -- in total, I'd probably shell out over $2000 to get the system, more RAM, and a wireless card. I'm just not sure if I want to spend that much money. Also, the system would have to arrive by the end of next week. I don't feel like pushing the shipping industry any harder than it's already going :-p

Which reminds me -- I have some savings bonds I should cash in..

School-related activities are winding down for the semester. I don't have any more homework, and I worked my way down to two finals: one on Tuesday and the other on Thursday.

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.. Dammit. I just know I'm going to make a mess of things. On the upside, I know I'm handling things much better than I could be. I have some e-mail laying around from High School when I couldn't keep my eyes off another girl -- I basically didn't know up from down back then.

Anyway, just trying to be her friend, I guess. Might get to go see Lord of the Rings with her next week. I guess everyone else wants to wait until next Saturday, but I'm expecting to be at home by then. Sarah wants to go on Wednesday (opening night), so that's probably when I'd go.


Whoops! My finals are on Tuesday and Wednesday. Glad I went to class today (er, well, one of my classes).

Posted by mike at 07:29 AM Central | Laptop , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 14, 2001

Advogato Entry 235

Stupid network! My apartment's T1 has been absolutely clogged lately. Too many people sharing or downloading stuff. Amazing that it can get pegged for days at a time. I mean, a T1 is relatively slow these days, but it's still pulling down 15 gigabytes a day..

Anyway, someone shoved notes under our doors earlier this week, telling people that they should stop sharing stuff or risk getting their access cut off. I think they may have cut my connection, though I haven't been using that much bandwidth. I haven't downloaded any music for weeks.

I have been querying the public SNMP data on our building's router, though, which may have made the network tech get mad. (Note the name of the community again... `public')

Blah.. I left a note with the office to check on it. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, and something honestly broke..

Dammit.. it's Friday. If it doesn't get fixed today, it won't get fixed until next week!

This is one thing that makes me wish I was back in the dorms.. (except traffic there gets restricted more and more with each passing year....)

Posted by mike at 11:27 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 236

crap crap crap

Love is definitely a cool feature of being human. I just wish I knew where I misplaced the manual.. I'm really trying to push Sarah out of my mind. If I don't manage to do that over Christmas break, it will be a -- geez, I hate to say it -- painful holiday season. It kinda works now, but I'm only at the point where some thought about her pops in my head, and I swear under my breath. It seems like I've got a mild case of Tourettes ;-)

Anyway, it gets worse when I'm under stress, so I need to find ways to relax. May as well go out and get some stress squeeze toys. Heh, I need to work on my grip strength anyway ;-)

I had a somewhat crummy day on Friday. I was all worried about my Internet connection being down. I was certain that it wouldn't be fixed when I got home, or I'd have to rant at the network tech or something. I guess the expectation of having that way of venting just made things worse, as my connection was actually working when i got home.

``Come back and break it again! I need to yell at you!''

Anyway, I wanted to come home early from work, but managed to find some work to keep me there. Turns out that I've been using a bad version of GNU tar (1.13) for our Amanda backups. The index files were all broken, as some strange number was being inserted at the beginning of each line in the index. I upgraded tar on all of our Solaris servers to 1.13.25 (since they were the affected systems -- all of the Linux boxes had sane versions of tar).

Actually had to write a little code to go through and fix the broken indices. It wasn't much, though -- just a bash script for walking through the directory tree with a perl one-liner to strip off the leading garbage. The files also had to be gunziped and the gziped again.

Kind of funny, though. I think that script is probably the biggest time-saver I've ever made. It also actually runs for a non-trivial amount of time (though it's not like it goes and does stuff for hours). Finally, something that wasn't just a silly math problem that takes actual processing time.

Posted by mike at 09:20 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 237

Life is sucking, but I picked up some music today. Take off Your Pants and Jacket - Blink 182, and The Invisible Band - Travis. I like most of the Blink 182 CD, and it is up-tempo at least.. I wish they could cut down on the raunch a little, as I really hate getting reminded that I can't get any.. The Travis disc is much more subdued, but still good.


Disappointed yet again by the cost of stuff. I thought I had the grand idea of using a PC104-based system to decode an Ogg Vorbis/MP3 stream in the apartment. I've wanted to have some way to keep music always playing in the apartment, with people voting for what they want, etc. Hopefully a nice random song picker as well. Something that would reduce `train wrecks' that happen when jumping between disparate genres would be wonderful.

Anyway, when I saw the prices one place had for piddly 386 boards with 2MB of RAM, I choked. Perhaps they were old prices, but I was hoping to get the whole thing put together for, say $150. Perhaps sans hard disk.. Anyway, looks like that's not going to happen..

What the hell is with our weather? It's the 17th of December, and there is no snow in Minneapolis.

My first final is tomorrow. Haven't studied yet.

Posted by mike at 01:52 PM Central | Hardware , Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 238

One final down, one to go. Need to do some work after my final tomorrow, and I should probably go shopping for some gifts.

Not much hacking going on, though I might do some work on an XMMS plugin (or something) for using the IR port on my Live!Drive IR to control music playback. Shouldn't be too hard to do, though someone will probably beat me to it.

Too bad I had to have the thing for a year and a half before I actually get to use it. I still think it's funny that the IR port is a MIDI device ;-)

With the Sarah situation, things are going alright. Nothing to speak of, just `normal'.. I figure that's the best thing for me right now anyway. Don't want to swing too much one way or another, or I'll drive myself nuts over the break. I just hope it stays that way..

Posted by mike at 09:57 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 239

bjf: All I can say is that most Americans are ignorant of the situation. The only coverage I've seen of it is in the print news (well, whatever shows up in Yahoo's most-emailed and most-viewed content). Then again, I've been watching TV news much less (usually only The Daily Show, if anything).. Amazingly, I'm still the most-informed person I know. Then again, college students tend to have plenty of other things to worry about. At the U of MN, a very large number of students work -- I guess the administration believes it's to the point of distraction, as the U has something like a 50% 6-year graduation rate.. I can't speak for any other communitites.

There are people who take an interest in that stuff, though. It's not something I think too much about. IIRC, Nader got somewhere around 20% of the votes on-campus in last year's presidential race. But I suppose that doesn't prove anything.


My brother and I came home yesterday. We brought the car up in early November, expecting to just keep it a week. I thought we'd have too many Snow Emergencies for the car to be easy to keep around, but only one big snow came (and that was just a few days after the car went up). Still bare ground in Minneapolis.

My mom mentioned that one of the instructors I had in confirmation class spoke up at a church service the other day to voice disapproval of bombing Afghanistan since, well, the Bible says faithful people should be peacemakers and shouldn't condone violence. I'm not really a religous person myself, though I agree with that idea.. At any rate, he's been known to voice his opinions pretty loudly in the past. I guess the pastoral staff wrote a long response in the subsequent church newsletter...

There are sane people in this world, just most of them are hiding :-p


What the?!? dammit..

Posted by mike at 09:38 AM Central | Comedy , Daily Show , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , School , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 29, 2001

Advogato Entry 240

My parents are way too nice. They just gave me $1000 to go toward a new laptop I'm planning on getting. This is in addition to Christmas and birthday stuff, and my monthly rent and bit extra.

Still looking at a Dell Inspiron 4100 with an extra battery, a UXGA screen, and some other stuff. Should come in around $1700. Looks like the price went up a bit since Christmas. Looks like Dell's `free' memory upgrade to 256MB wasn't quite free..

Had a pretty good Christmas. So far, it hasn't been quite as terrible as I was expecting. I didn't have to worry much about my (step-)grandfather (he slept a lot) -- just kept my young cousin busy by trying to avoid playing with her and her Barbie stuff (didn't quite succeed at that, which is fine :-)

I got a nice portable CD player with a decent radio in it (better choice for me rather than an MP3-playing model, since I use Ogg/Vorbis for most things).

Helped my brother install a new 60 GB hard drive. Sheesh, disk drive technology doesn't seem to be moving so fast anymore -- I got one of those 18 months ago! :-p I'd installed to the exact same motherboard before, and I knew he needed a BIOS update..

Not doing any coding -- hell, I can't even read my mail very well right now. My computer at the apartment is sitting cold right now because the power went out a few days ago.. It's in an ATX case, and I didn't have it connected to a UPS (an older P100 sitting in the corner came back up, since it's in an AT case). A week of mail is sitting on it, and I can't read it until I turn it back on..

Bah. Well, the only thing bugging me is if Sarah sent me a Christmas greeting. I could care less about other stuff :-)

Posted by mike at 06:12 PM Central | Hardware , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 01, 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..

Posted by mike at 07:38 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 03, 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..

Posted by mike at 01:57 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 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.

Posted by mike at 05:34 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 05, 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.

Posted by mike at 02:35 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 06, 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?

Posted by mike at 08:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 08, 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..

Posted by mike at 07:32 AM Central | Hardware , Josh , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 09, 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?

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...

Posted by mike at 01:43 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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
Posted by mike at 02:48 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 01:17 PM Central | Josh , Laptop , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 08:51 PM Central | Laptop , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..)

Posted by mike at 09:18 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 11:38 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 09:01 AM Central | Encryption , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 04:39 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 02:46 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 06:30 PM Central | Erik , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Software , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 07:22 PM Central | Encryption , Internet , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 05:46 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 08:03 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 05, 2002

Advogato Entry 261

So much crap to do.. At least nothing is due for about a week, but I still better get cracking..

Had to deal with a stupid chirping fire alarm today. The thing kills batteries for some reason. Anyway, had maintenance come up and replace it, and they even took away the doors we took off of the closet over a year ago. With the doors on, you can't even fit jackets into the closet, so they're basically useless.. At any rate, it gives us another few inches in the den area, since they were stuck behind the couch.

I managed to get the old P100 that was sitting in a corner connected back up to the big stereo in the apartment. It's running ESD and listening over the network, so I can use my laptop with wireless and send decoded music out to some nice big speakers. Of course, now I just need to find some decent music to play ;-)

Been listening to the Ogg Vorbis streams for the BBC's Radio 1. They can suck just as much as the stations around here, but they don't have ads and they play different music, so they suck in different ways ;-) At any rate, they still play some good dance music -- a genre that is severely lacking here in the US, IMO..

Posted to Slashdot about that Kenwood Music Keg. Too bad it doesn't actually play Oggs yet. I guess PalmOS 5 is coming out soon, and will be on the ARM platform, so maybe some good decoding routines for ARM processors will show up soon.

Still waiting for XFree86 4.2.0 packages to show up for Debian. I really really hope it finds it's way into woody, though I suppose I shouldn't get my hopes up. Oh well, it's perfectly alright with me to keep my laptop running testing in perpetuity...

Anyway, I suppose I should actually try to start on my Computer Graphics homework..

Posted by mike at 02:24 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 07, 2002

Advogato Entry 262

Having a bit of a crummy evening. I was tired this morning, and decided not to go to class. That was probably a bad move, and I stayed inside pretty much the whole day. Sarah and Josh brought me along to try out the Leaning Tower of Pizza that just opened downstairs. The pizza's pretty good, probably worth the price. As good as Papa John's is, I need some variety in my pizza diet ;-)

Anyway, I got reminded of things I didn't want to be reminded of while sitting across from Josh and Sarah. Blech.

Need to get some homework done soon. I'll have a busy weekend writing code or doing other work in pretty much all of my classes. I need to get some motivation to do that stuff. Not sure what the best place to do my work is. I've been doing a lot of stuff on my laptop these days, though I think it's probably easier to do programming on my desktop, where I have two monitors. The downside is that I can't relax on the couch with it ;-) Then again, even the laptop is annoying to deal with on the couch.

...And I do worry about the radio waves emananting from it into my legs.. I suppose it doesn't make me feel any better when the thing warms up to 50 degrees C or better..

Posted by mike at 08:16 PM Central | Josh , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 09, 2002

Advogato Entry 263

Got to hang out with Sarah for a while last night. Probably the first and last time that'll happen.

Anyway, it was pretty cool. She works over at the theatre building and has worked on a lot of audio equipment. For a class, she was looking at the characteristics of some microphones. I occupied myself by trying to help someone figure out how to do video feedback (we were in a TV studio). I was less than helpful, I'm sure ;-)

Learned all sorts of little things. I now know what phantom power is (or at least what it's used for), and I got some tips on how to properly wrap up cables. I guess the trick is to give the cable a twist every turn or so.. Lemme see if I can describe how to wrap them up. (BTW, I'm right-handed. There's probably a lefty way to do it).

Hold one end of the cable in your left hand, with the end pointing away from your body. First, just try to make a normal loop: grab the cable with your right hand using a power grip with your thumb pointing up (toward your left hand). Just bring your right hand up to your left and you should have a normal loop. The tricky part is next.

Grab the cable with your right hand again, but this time with your thumb pointing down and your palm facing up. As you bring the cable up to your left hand, twist your hand around so your thumb faces your body and your palm faces down. This'll look a little weird, as it will make a loop, but the cable will be dangling between this loop and the loop you made before, rather than on the side like you'd ordinarily expect.

Anyway, alternate between normal and twisted loops. The benefit of this is that it's supposed to be a little easier to unwrap, without getting those annoying loops that can lead to kinks in the cable. I'm not sure if there's really much benefit, but I did notice that I could feel some tension in the cable when I tried to make a loop of the wrong type. It probably can't hurt.. I think that using this method, you can wrap tighter loops of cable without having them unwind on you.. Unfortunately, it doesn't work very well when you'd ordinarily wrap a cable around something (like wrapping a mouse cord around the mouse).

Well, enough for now..

Posted by mike at 06:45 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 264

Katz is going off on some strange tirade about pre-/post-9/11 movies on Slashdot. It got me thinking (for no good reason--It's a pretty poor review), and I realized I haven't written down my experiences of that day..

I don't remember when I rolled out of bed, but it was later than I wanted. My roommate had woken up and had left the room, so I figured it was time. I climbed into the chair at my computer, powered up the monitors, and started my daily morning browsing. I think I hit Slashdot first, and the top story was the first article of the planes hitting the WTC towers. I tried getting to some news websites, but couldn't get anywhere.

I turned around and powered up the TV and turned it to CNN. With my groggy morning eyes, I saw a wide-angle shot of the towers. It looked entirely fake, but I figured if it was on CNN...

I came out of my room and went into the den. I turned off the music my roommate had started up, and turned on the TV out there. I still wasn't fully awake, and could barely manipulate the remote controls well enough to get it turned to CNN. I tried to tell my roommate what happened, but I didn't know anything. Some big planes had hit the World Trade Center.

Anyway, nobody knew anything, so I took a shower. I can't remember much else that happened. I know that the sky was very clear and blue. I came into the business school building where I work, and saw a huge crowd of students watching TV, but I felt like avoiding the coverage until people actually knew something. I went into my office area and sat down at the computer, trying to do some work, but I was thinking too much.

I was chatting with people on IRC, and was informed when the towers fell. I didn't have a TV at that point, so I didn't know they'd pancaked. I just couldn't imagine it.

Anyway, I sat around at the business school for a while, but I was going a bit stir-crazy. I walked to Taco Bell, about 15 minutes away on foot. On the way there, I saw a small United States flag protruding from a building. September 11th was a primary election day, and the flag was there informing people that they could go vote.

That was probably the last time a flag really made me feel good. It was a puny little thing, only a few inches in size, but it meant so much that morning. I smiled, and kept walking.

I got to Taco Bell. One employee was on the phone, looking out the window at downtown. She said, ``I know they're going to target downtown.'' It never actually happened, but people were worried. Anyway, I ate and tried to remain calm.

I got back to my desk and tried to work again. There were still way too many things racing through my head, plus I got a little worried by the fact that the business school is a very shiny corporate-looking building. I decided to head home.

I got home and spent some time watching coverage, browsing the web and chatting on IRC. That day, classes were supposed to start late for me, around 12:30. I was hearing that they may have canceled classes. Before long, I found they had..

I walked to class, finding a notice on the door saying that classes after noon were canceled. I started heading back to the apartment, but decided to see if my brother was at his dorm room. We got some lunch and hung out for the afternoon, though definitely it wasn't the most entertaining time we'd spent together. I spent most of my time watching TV, while he played Civilization on my computer.

In a lot of ways, it was a very dull day. It was very strange to feel so affected by something that happened half a continent away.

Strangely, the events since then have made me less interested in the news. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff going on that I'd like to hear about, but it gets drowned out by `The War on Terror'. Hell, I just wish the cable news channels would get rid of all of that extra crap on the screen so I wouldn't have to get reminded of it as I flip through the channels..

Hmm. There are some other things floating around in my head, but a bunch of it has already been posted, so I don't want to re-write it..

Posted by mike at 12:17 PM Central | Erik , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , TV , The Media , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 16, 2002

Advogato Entry 265

On AIM today:

Me: up to anything today?
Sarah: yeah...dinner and a play with Josh
Sarah: I'm trying to figure out where to go for dinner.
Me: ah.. what's the play?
Sarah: hehe...Vagina Monologues'
Me: heh.. can't really tie in any food with that :-p
Sarah: haha
Sarah: WELL
Me: lol

Heh. I was just conveniently `forgetting,' but she did her own thing.. Pretty funny

Posted by mike at 02:01 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 24, 2002

Advogato Entry 266

Hmm. Haven't posted for a while.. I've been pretty busy with homework for classes and stuff. Stayed up late a few nights, up 'til 3AM or even later. I hope I can get started on homework sooner from now on, but I haven't had much luck with that over the past several years..

I spilled some Mountain Dew on my laptop a few days ago. It only affected the PgUp key in the upper right corner, but it was really annoying. I disassembled the system, bending the keyboard a bit in the process (always read the instructions when first working on a laptop). I haven't been able to fix it -- I've basically just spread sticky liquid around by dribbling water on the keyboard. I hear that a new keyboard is about $45..

Anyway, I should get working on some of my networking homework.

Posted by mike at 12:19 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 27, 2002

Advogato Entry 267

Not a whole lot going on. Avoiding homework. Read all of Mega Tokyo. 1 0w|\| j00 ;-)

Anyway, I suppose I should get to bed. Damn 8:15 classes.

Posted by mike at 08:28 PM Central | Comedy , Old Advogato Diary , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2002

Advogato Entry 268

I've done a lot of browsing today, picking up little bits about the updated Microsoft settlement. I don't even know where the settlement is, though.. I guess I don't feel like reading that now anyway ;-)

Reading about some networking stuff. I'm getting kind of concerned about the lack of IPv6 deployment, but I was amazed at the fact you can just do `apt-get install freenet6' on Debian Woody and get an IPv6 address. With a little fiddling, you can have your very own /48 prefix (sort of, it goes through some ISP in Canada). At any rate, it's a good stepping stone. I saw that it's now possible to set up reverse DNS entries for the IPv6 addresses you get through Freenet6, which would be a good thing to work on and see if IPSec/IPv6 works.. I guess I need to look into using a USAGI patch..

I need to get my roommate to plug into our Linksys WAP11 access point so I can get IPv6 going over the 802.11 connection in my apartment.

I wonder if I'll get a chance to fiddle with IPv6 on our wireless gateway at work.. Not sure if I want to play with that or not ;-)

Posted by mike at 08:09 PM Central | Internet , Law , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 01, 2002

Advogato Entry 269

Ugh.. arpwatch is totally useless on a DHCP'd subnet.. I don't know why my boss likes to run it.

Decided I might try to set up a mailer with a decent configuration on our main Sun box. Sendmail is complaining about a mail routing loop, apparently since the MX record for that system points to itself. I fail to see why this is a problem. On the other hand, one of the other servers we have seems to think that our main box is a smarthost, and even local mail is getting bounced around to the main box. Wacky.

Looking at postfix, looks like it'll be just as much of a pain as anything else.. I tried figuring out how to compile exim once, really made me appreciate the Debian packages.

I wish we could go completely Linux here, but it's not gonna happen. My boss really likes Sun hardware, but Sun is being evil about Linux on Sparc, and very few software vendors support Linux/Sparc.

I set up almost all of our Linux systems to load the ipv6 kernel module at boot. I'd like to play with that at some point, but it looks like the building's routers and switches need to be upgraded to support it (well, they really need to be upgraded anyway..)

Posted by mike at 03:02 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 04, 2002

Advogato Entry 270

Bah. I've got a crush on Sarah. `Crush' seems like such a juvenile word, but it's the best word I have for whatever this is floating around in my head. Somehow, that simplifies things. I've seen and heard stories about crushes, so maybe that gives me a tool for finding a way out of the mess I'm in right now.

I don't know.. It seems to make things almost too simple.. I like believing that I'm a unique person, and knowing that other people have dealt with the same shit I have sometimes just makes me feel like I'm a tiny, insolent whiner.

Sorry for polluting the airwaves with this, but I'm under a lot of stress from homework and other stuff lately. I got a jury selection form in the mail last week. I don't know where I'm going to be living or working in the time period they mentioned. There was no obvious way for me to note that I'm a student, and I may still be in school then, but maybe I'm just afraid of doing it..

Anyway, things are just piled up right now. I wish I went to a University where we actually got a few days off every year (we get off Thanksgiving, Christmas (et al), and Spring Break -- nothing else). I guess Spring Break is only two weeks away, but all of this stuff I need to do is due before then..

I'm just hoping that Sarah and I can find some really good kind of friendship where it doesn't matter if I have a crush on her. I'd happily be an advocate for her almost anytime, and when she's around, I can actually clear my mind and get some work done (seems so backwards..)

Speaking of work.. I really need to get back to it..

Posted by mike at 10:05 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 09, 2002

Advogato Entry 271

Should really watch C-SPAN more often. I've seen some interesting discussions about civil liberties going on in the last few days.

It sounds like people are starting to wake up, looking past the war propaganda out there these days and starting to really talk about the laws that have been passed, and what might get passed in the future.

I read Michael Moore's book, Stupid White Men, the other day. It's pretty good, pretty funny. I wrote a review of it, though I don't know if it'll show up anywhere.. The book is a bestseller, though, so hopefully this means things are looking up.

I'll be busy tomorrow trying to figure out how to write an OpenGL program in my Computer Graphics course. I really didn't give myself enough time to get it done...

Posted by mike at 11:09 PM Central | Law , Michael Moore , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , School , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 15, 2002

Advogato Entry 272

Went to see Michael Moore tonight over in St. Paul. I was worried that he'd been lying about having overflow crowds for his book tour, but there really was a big line out the door of the church he was at, and there were a bunch of people who stayed out in the cold for 3 hours so that they could see him speak for the second time in one evening.

He showed some clips for his movie coming out this fall, Bowling for Columbine. Mostly, he just talked about stuff, but it was very funny, and it was cool to see people come together to talk about things that are supposedly unpopular here in the US at the moment.

Got in line to get into the church just behind the host of Mental Engineering, John Forde (eww.. that page definitely came out of something from Microsoft).. While we were all waiting to get in, someone in the line ahead of him asked, ``Anyone know what it's like inside this place?''

He said, ``No, I haven't been to church for a while,'' and paused.. ``I could tell you what the inside of detox looks like, though.'' That was pretty funny, but kinda not in the way I hoped..

Posted by mike at 09:31 PM Central | Michael Moore , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 06, 2002

Advogato Entry 273

Haven't written for a while.. I've been busy trying to keep from drowning in homework and studying for exams.

Played with CodeWeavers' CrossOver Plugin package, and actually paid for a license. Seems to work pretty well, though I've only used it for QuickTime and Windows Media Player so far. WMP doesn't work right on my laptop (probably because I have a crummy AC'97 sound device), but QuickTime works fine (especially after I set it to always output at 48000Hz).

I've had some of my wishes come to fruition lately, though. I hear that Coca-Cola is looking into producing vanilla-flavored Coke, and Deep Space Nine is going to be on TV tonight. I just hope another wish or two comes true.

Posted by mike at 04:56 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , School , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 09, 2002

Advogato Entry 274

Finally got sick enough of getting junk mail that I installed SpamAssassin. I'd been using Vipul's Razor for a while, but it hadn't been working well enough. Of course, once I bothered to look I noticed that SpamAssassin now checks the Razor database as well, so I can kill two birds with one stone. Of course, it has tons of rules, so it's actually like killing a few hundred birds with one stone.

Anyway, I saw someone post a little bit of code for drawing a simple graph of score vs. time on messages, and decided to make one of my own. I suppose it'll be a while before my graph looks like much of anything, though..

I just wish it was as easy to attack the bandwidth over-usage in my apartment building..

I also was happy to see anti-aliased text when I pulled down a copy of Galeon 1.2.0 and Mozilla 0.9.9 from Debian unstable. I played around and even got sub-pixel rendering working on my laptop. Very nice. Too bad that the Render extension doesn't work very well on Xinerama. Mozilla/Galeon actually works great, but gdkxft and StarOffice just gunk up the screen when they are used on the second head.. I guess the Gecko engine uses the Render extension in a different way than other programs do.

Also started using Evolution as my mail client. I was happy to see that it synchronizes quite nicely with my Palm IIIx. I haven't really used that thing to it's full potential.. Hopefully integrating mail, calendar, to-do, etc., will be good for me. Evolution just doesn't seem designed for the power user, though.. Sylpheed is still better in many ways..

Oh yeah, I switched partly because of Sylpheed being somewhat buggy with regard to GPG-signed messages. Of course, it looks like Sylpheed, mutt, and Evolution all occasionally produce broken messages. Well, maybe not mutt..

Uuuhh.. just saw a really freaky bug in the Gecko engine. For a moment there, I could type text into the scrollbar.. very weird.. Oh well, I can't seem to repeat it..

Posted by mike at 07:32 PM Central | Internet , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Software , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 275

Seriously considering unleashing hell upon Lotus for making such a crappy e-mail client.. I work at a business school where pretty much everyone except me uses Notes. It seems amazing that mail gets delivered at all..

It definitely shows it's heritage as a `groupware' system, not designed at all to communicate over the Internet.. Hell, it doesn't even have message threading, and no messages ever have In-Reply-To (or similar) set in the headers.. Really sad..

Personally, I had thought that an XML format for e-mail might be kind of cool (if it was well thought out, and there were good mailers/interpreters both on the text console end and the GUI side of things). Looks like some of the big names got together and created one back in 1998. Of course, I don't think anyone is using it...

Posted by mike at 10:17 AM Central | Internet , Lotus Notes (Must Die!) , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 11, 2002

Advogato Entry 276

Well, I was hoping SpamAssassin would reduce my junk mail to zero, but it's still managing an 88% hit rate. Razor was probably only getting about 1/4 to 1/3 of the junk mail coming in to my mailbox. I get a lot of spam where there's some randomly-generated string in the message body, so comparing MD5 checksums doesn't work against that..

So cool that all it takes is an `apt-get install' on Debian (testing) to get both Vipul's Razor and SpamAssassin..

My computer graphics project got pushed back a few days, which is good, but I really need to make sure I use the time, rather than waste it.

Glad to see that the CBDTPA is pretty much being criticized from every direction. Even more pleasing is that people actually wrote into their congresscritters about it! I wrote to my representatives recently, but I was criticizing the idea of reducing restrictions on how many TV/Radio stations can be owned in a market, and I also threw in a few bits on how adding copy protection capabilities to HDTV sets is bad..

I'd like to get into a habit of writing my reps both in Washington and in the Minnesota congress on a regular basis. I haven't checked if my state reps have e-mail, though..

Posted by mike at 08:02 AM Central | Internet , Law , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 12, 2002

Advogato Entry 277

Not really understanding the relationship between hotplug, cardmgr (PCMCIA), and usbmgr. Apparently, I can't use both cardmgr and hotplug at the same time. Okay, I can, but the kernel event daemon (keventd) and cardmgr will both start the networking scripts when I insert my wireless Ethernet card.

I haven't been able to get hotplug alone to work with my ethernet card, so I apparently have to run at least cardmgr. I guess this means that if I want to do USB stuff, I need to run usbmgr, which obviously doesn't try to start the networking scripts.. I guess it's good I don't have FireWire on my laptop, otherwise I'd have to see if there was a firemgr or similar program...

I suppose I probably just didn't properly set up hotplug..

Posted by mike at 04:17 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 16, 2002

Advogato Entry 278

Had a hell of a day yesterday.. I was trying to figure out texture mapping for my computer graphics course, but it just didn't happen. I just wasn't able to figure out how to get the appropriate (u, v) coordinates of a texture from a pixel on the screen. I think I just have a fundamental non-understanding of the math involved at the moment..

The annoying thing is that I was avoiding the course for most of college, knowing that it involved math that I didn't like. Finally, I was trying to figure out my schedule for this semester, and it looked like a good choice at the time.. Maybe I should have gone for that real-time systems course, but that might have been even worse...

The next assignment is a ray-tracer, which I'll have to work on every free minute I have, I think..

I'm so disappointed with myself today..

Posted by mike at 09:33 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 17, 2002

Advogato Entry 279

Phone rings
Me: Hello?
Female voice: Is Dan there?</em>
Me: No. (as I start walking to the whiteboard) Can I take a message?
Female voice: This is Sara (I pick up the marker) from Hillel (I put down the marker). We're having an event tomorrow for Israeli Independence Day. (The image of a riot comes to my head -- of course, there was one just the other week when we won a hockey game..) If he's interested, have him call me at 555-1234.
Me:(Pretending to take the message) ...1234. Okay, I'll pass that along..

Dan's actually an atheist (though he was raised a Jew), but someone got him on Hillel's mailing list. I've been instructed to throw out mailings from them, etc..

My mental imagery is probably out of line, but there has been a lot of chatter between the Israeli and palestinian/Arab communities on campus (as I'm sure has been the case all over the world lately).

It's just weird how the people in these communities interpret the words from those on the other side. Seems like they can't even agree on simple facts. Of course, the conversations are flooded with hearsay. It seems like you'd have to tear down everything -- all of the supposed `knowledge' that people have -- and go back through with independent historians to clear up all of the misconceptions.

We can have peace in the region.. It'll just take a hundred years or so of research...


I've been sleep-deprived along with others.. It gets to be really bad when I have homework that I've procrastinated on, and then I have to stay up really late working on it.. I don't think this would be a problem if I had a regular job and could leave work at work.. Of course, I'm also a person that requires more sleep than the average (well, that's been my experience, at least).

Not sure why, but I tend to need 9-10 hours, but maybe I have other problems that contribute to that. For instance, factor into that the fact that it usually takes me 30 minutes or more to fall asleep. I'm also a fairly light sleeper, so the diesel trucks and buses running by on University Ave. don't really make life any easier..

I tend to sleep really well when I go home. In my childhood, I'd only be awakened by the garbage trucks that came by once a week, weather, and people clanging around in the kitchen.. Now I have to deal with planes and trucks all of the time, plus roommates and neighbors that turn up the volume too much..

I guess it's good that I have to move -- I just hope I can find a place in a quieter neighborhood..

Posted by mike at 09:09 AM Central | Dan , Old Advogato Diary , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 18, 2002

Advogato Entry 280

Hmm.. It's April. XFree86 4.2.0 was posted back in January, IIRC. Still no Debian package for it.. I know, I know, the dude's busy. However, I've been living with the VESA driver on my laptop for quite a while now.. It's usually not too bad, but occasionally I want to run an OpenGL app or watch a DVD or something, and I can't at the moment.. Moving big windows around is also pretty painful..

Anyway, I think it might be a weekend project

Posted by mike at 06:58 AM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 19, 2002

Advogato Entry 281

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?

Posted by mike at 09:38 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 25, 2002

Advogato Entry 282

Did you know that "In God We Trust" is the national motto of the USA? I thought it was just something we put on our currency.

Posted by mike at 07:55 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 01, 2002

Advogato Entry 283

Man.. Sarah and I are just way too compatible. We keep agreeing on all these little things.. Naturally, she's still Josh's girlfriend.

I'm moving soon (end of the month), probably into a fraternity for the summer. They've got DSL, digital cable, etc., so it should be pretty nice. The place is basically laid out like a small dorm, though we each get our own fridge (or half a fridge, or something like that).

Saw an odd thing today -- an apparently Muslim woman walking down the street wearing a Calvin Klein headdress.. The assimilation has begun, I guess

Been doing lots of stuff at work lately. Got a new version of Netsaint running, and it's now keeping track of many more things (with many yet to be added). In case people don't know, Netsaint has been renamed to Nagios, and Ethan Galstad, the main developer, is going to be giving a talk on it on Saturday at the U of MN.

Also, I've been tapped to build another firewall or two. Apparently Nimda reared it's head in one of our computer labs. Sheesh. Linux is a swiss army knife, but should I really be using it like a Band-Aid to fix problems that could have been avoided in the first place?

Posted by mike at 07:30 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2002

Advogato Entry 284

Spending too much time avoiding some end-of-semester projects. Dunno how far I'll get with them.

Anyway, bigger news for me was discovering that the Sun StorEdge A1000 arrays we have are not exactly operating at peak efficiency.. 4MB/s is a little slow for a RAID array. Still trying to figure out why that's happening..

Posted by mike at 08:14 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 11, 2002

Advogato Entry 285

I want this week to not exist. I don't want to take finals, or work on final projects. I'd rather be working at the job I have -- so much more rewarding to solve real problems..
Posted by mike at 11:16 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , School | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 12, 2002

Advogato Entry 286

Thinking that maybe I should start saying ``free and open software'' instead of ``open source software.'' Might be good, as ``free'' gets in there somewhere and strengthens ``open.'' However, the die-hard ``free software'' folks might feel it dilutes the word ``free.'' Hard to say.

Still wishing this week didn't exist. I want to get back to trying to have a life, rather than avoiding studying for finals and doing some projects.

This morning I realized that Sarah really brings out a part of me that I think has always been around, hiding beneath the surface. It's nothing fancy, just some of my silliness -- my imaginitive side that's been hiding for a long time. I think she helps me loosen up and bring that more to the front. Maybe that's why I like her so much. Hard to say.

One of my roommates graduated the other day, though he still has to take finals.

The joys of going to a huge school (what? 40,000? something like that..)

I shouldn't have come here, though I'm glad for friends I've made. I especially appreciate meeting Sarah, but it's still unlikely that will amount to anything.

Well, it's not like I can go and do it again. I just want to move forward, finish up classes this summer and clean up some somewhat loose ends at work. I just hope I can keep in touch with Sarah and other friends.

It'll be a huge load off when I get out of college. It's been too long.

Posted by mike at 06:56 PM Central | Dan , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 15, 2002

Advogato Entry 287

Every so often, I come back to thinking about Microsoft's finances. Their accounting techniques have been widely used, most prominently at Enron (or so I hear). Couple that with the new licensing schemes they're coming out with, and I think they've found a recipe for their own demise.

There's this Bill Parish guy that has said that MS is actually losing money these days. I'm not sure I believe him, though -- his grammar and spelling is too poor to be very credible ;-) He also has some ideas that stretch the imagination, such as a Microsoft pyramid scheme that caused a global downturn in the economy. However, if it's true that MS is losing money, that could be one of the reasons why they're changing licensing methods.

From the reading I've done, it sounds like MS pays people with stock too much. Apparently, the SEC doesn't require a company to deduct payment in stock from their profit numbers. If you take that out, Parish says that the company is in the red.

Microsoft has a lot of money in the bank, but it might be to cover their ass when employees start cashing in. The company has been criticized by people like Ralph Nader for not paying dividends to their stockholders (of course, I guess Nader is mostly just annoyed because MS isn't paying very much in taxes).

Personally, I figure Microsoft will probably stick it out for quite a while. They might go down in five or ten years, probably after Bill Gates has made a graceful exit from the company.

In the wake of Enron, I bet the accountants at MS are busily working to find a way to hide financial issues that doesn't look like they're hiding something..

Or maybe I'm just paranoid..

Posted by mike at 09:31 AM Central | Corporations , Law , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2002

Advogato Entry 288

I was halfway looking at cell phones the other day, and then my parents suggested today that I get one, since I'll probably be moving twice in the next few months, and don't necessarily want to pay for activation over and over. Of course, if I do get a cell phone, it'd probably be an expensive one that totally ruins the purpose of getting it ;-)

Well, maybe not. I guess I don't even know what features are good.

VoiceStream seems to be a popular carrier with the people I know. They appear to have decent coverage around here and decent prices (IMHO, not that I've looked much), but some ratings the company gets are pretty poor. They're deploying GPRS, some sort of networking technology that's apparently decent speed (I guess theoretically up to about 114kbit/s)

Hmm.. The data prices are steep, though. Ooh! I can pay $60/month for 20MBytes. Uh, yeah.

I suppose that just means I won't use it for what I want to use it. I think some of the voice plans allow for a little bit of data per month anyway.

Well, I'll probably head to a store tomorrow and get more info..

Posted by mike at 09:21 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 21, 2002

Advogato Entry 289

Ah, the joys of turning into Big Brother.

We put a 3c905B-FX card into our Netsaint server the other day and connected it up to the building gateway today. The idea was to "mirror" incoming/outgoing traffic onto that interface, and log packets.

It's getting us in trouble already.

Ordered a cell phone on Sunday, should show up in the next few days.

Moving in a week.. Did some packing/cleaning already. Bare walls in the apartment make me feel pretty sad actually.. :-(

Posted by mike at 01:17 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 26, 2002

Advogato Entry 290

Got my cell phone on Thursday. I got service through VoiceStream since their rates seemed pretty low, and I only had to sign my life away for a minimum of one year. AT&T and others wanted me to contract for two years. Their coverage is probably lowest of the big carriers, though I think they have the biggest GSM service in the US (Deutsche Telekom bought them a year or so ago).

Coverage isn't really a problem for me. I'm planning to use this phone instead of a land line, at least for the summer, so if it works outside of the local area, I'll just consider it a bonus. I found out it doesn't work at my office, but that's a windowless room in the middle of the building, behind at least two layers of concrete... Signal is good at my current apartment, though the meter blips off occasionally -- I'm curious why that happens..

Anyway, I just got the free phone they had, the Motorola T193. It's tiny, slightly smaller than Sarah's Nokia, at least (I think she has a 3360, but I'm not sure -- it has the same form factor, whatever it is).

I think VoiceStream had sent me a text message when I first got the phone, informing me of the phone number, but I think I accidentally deleted it. I'd gotten another text message, telling me I had a voicemail, but that was someone leaving a message for a girl named Brooke, IIRC. Anyway, I deleted the text message informing me of that, and then I think I deleted another one, which was probably the phone number. In the end, I used the phone's text messaging facility to send myself an e-mail, and the number was on the From: line ;-)

I was pretty surprised when I started looking into various phone services. For some reason, I expected companies to be upfront about the various services they offer -- what's included in which plan, etc. I suppose I might have gotten a clearer picture if I'd gone into one of the cell phone shops to get it, but I didn't want to get railroaded into a plan I didn't like. The information on the web was just awful, though.

I still don't know exactly what services I get, though. I realized after a while that the Internet service that had been promised wasn't working. After searching high and low to try and find some information, I called customer service. I was informed that I'd been put on a plan different than what they advertised on the web.. The code for the plan was apparently just one character off, so the guy switched to what I thought I ordered.

I've seen people complain about the customer service department, but I haven't had trouble yet. I suppose I'm just lucky. However, I have a suspicion that my Linux user habit of trying to find the solution myself by searching and trying various things probably makes me more prepared when I call them.. We'll see what happens in the future.

I've found VoiceStream's websites to be very inconsistent. They contract out various services to different organizations, which probably contributes to the mess. It's not hugely inconsistent -- that'd probably be better! I've found myself browsing around, having buttons suddenly disappear on the next page, etc. They also have some very short session timeouts. I've had to re-login many times.

I've noticed that the various websites seem to use different technologies to power them.. VoiceStream's main websites appear to be powered by ColdFusion, the iStream pages (iStream is the name for their data service) appear to be running Microsoft's Active Server Pages, and my billing info is brought to me by servlets. Very weird, IMHO..

The phone I got has similar inconsistencies. I think it has at least four different font sizes, but I can only pick two in the phone settings. Composing text messages uses the smallest font, browsing the web uses the next smallest. The default interface font is the second-largest, and there's a huge font that is the other option. Going between big and huge is not my idea of configurability.

Even the instructions for activating my phone weren't very good. I knew about SIM cards and whatever beforehand, but someone who didn't know about that would probably be really confused. There were at least two sets of instructions, but I think they started with "turn on your phone," neglecting the "insert your SIM card" part.. One set of instructions said I had to call someone with my IMEI number (apparently the handset serial number) and a number printed on my service agreement. Well, I didn't have a service agreement in the box I got, so I was glad that the phone seemed to work right out of the box, once I figured out exactly how the SIM card was supposed to be put in it's place..

It'll be a while before I can say whether I like the service or not. With all of the weird things I've seen already, I could never give it a strong thumbs up, but it's relatively cheap and I can text Sarah whenever I want ;-) I'm paying $30/month for 200 daytime minutes, unlimited weekend minutes, toll-free long distance, 300 text messages, and 1MB of data. I paid an extra dollar this month so I could have a "Smooth Criminal" ring tone, too, but nobody's called me yet.. *sigh*

Posted by mike at 08:38 AM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 29, 2002

Advogato Entry 291

Moving sucks.

I managed to find myself some good roommates for the past two years, but they all decided to wander on to other places (where they don't need to share bedrooms anymore -- very understandable). Anyway, I'm moving into a very dorm-ish frat for the summer. I think I'm going to start looking for places for the fall very soon..

Unfortunately, the building manager at my new place has not shown himself to be very reliable. In the past few days, the place seems to look more and more like a dump, too.. I suppose that could be my mood, too.

This move is really bothering me, even though I'm only moving a few blocks. Mostly, I think I won't be able to see Sarah much anymore. On the other hand, she works three days a week at the building next to mine, so maybe we'll go out to lunch every once in a while. Oh well, I'm probably just overreacting..

I need to get back home for a little while, take a break from Minneapolis..

Posted by mike at 05:28 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 292

Not much has happened to me in the last month, at least nothing I really want to talk about. Suffice it to say that I've finally started on an exercise binge that I'm going to continue for at least 5 weeks, mostly out of spite. Not one of the best reasons, but I'm more motivated that I ever was before.. Anyway, I don't plan on doing anything terribly dramatic/traumatic -- heck, I don't even have any weights to use, so I'm just making a fool of myself jumping around in my room early in the morning (I do plan to get some weights soon, once my car gets checked out and is running normally again).

At any rate, I'm getting up now at 6:00 (or so), with the TV set to turn on to PBS so I can watch (well, listen to) the BBC news. I don't wake at 6:00 easily, so it takes ten or fifteen minutes of listening to droning reporters to get me up..

I'm mostly just trying to get my arms to look less like pogo sticks and more like something that belongs on the human body, but I hope to do something to cut down on my gut too. But basically, I just want it to be noticeable to my friends that I did some work.

Posted by mike at 02:07 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 11, 2002

Advogato Entry 293

Presidents are no fun.

Posted by mike at 01:06 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2002

Advogato Entry 294

Well, my car is finally back where it belongs. It ended up costing quite a bit less than I expected to get it fixed. Sounded like a computer component went nuts.

Anywho, I took a detour on my ride home to go get some 8 pound weights at Target. I probably shouldn't have been that ambitious (the trouble I had getting it out of the rack should have given me a clue ;-) I'd read that guys should start out with 10-15 pound weights, though I knew that (until recently at least) my arms were skinnier than most women's.. At some point, I did something that put too much stress on my left shoulder somewhere. None of the muscles on top hurt or anything, it's buried underneath, so I figure it must be a tendon or something related to tendons/muscle connections.

I'm going to have to avoid upper-arm exercises for a few days, but that gives me a chance to do some leg work. I've avoided my legs since they've always seemed fairly strong (at least to me), and since I walk quite a bit already (the University of Minnesota is a huge campus, and I have to walk all the way across to get from home to work).

For the past week, I've mostly just done a lot of aerobic-type exercises. I don't like high-impact or high-stress stuff, so doing a lot (2 hours, though usually not in just one go) of silly stuff (waving my arms around like a lunatic) seems to be something that's good for me. I've got enough time this summer to do it, and for once I have the motivation to do it. I've been doing it every day, since I'm certain that if I don't work out every single day, I'll keep pushing it off day by day until I completely forget.

There have been a few moments where I've felt absolutely great during or after exercise, and it makes me wonder why I hated gym class so much when I was in school. Probably the competitive atmosphere, and the fact that most activites were geared toward people who were already in good shape.

Anyway, I'm happy to see the image in the mirror is slowly becoming closer to the image of myself I have in my head -- looking like that is my real goal. I just have to make sure that the image in my head stays realistic ;-)

Posted by mike at 12:27 PM Central | Car , Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2002

Advogato Entry 295

Went out to Audio King and tried to get a Tivoli Audio/Henry Kloss Model Two, but ended up having to order it. I had to live closest to the one Audio King in Minnesota that didn't have it in stock. Anyway.. This morning, I was looking for a nice car stereo, but ended up hunting around for something to use in my room.

The box is supposed to have a great tuner, though the demo box didn't seem to pull in stations as well as I'd hoped. Of course, there are any number of things that can mess up reception even on the best of receivers. It still sounded very good compared to the boxes sitting next to it which cost much more.

At any rate, it should arrive in a few days. I didn't order the subwoofer, but I might get one later. I don't really have the space at the moment, and I felt like a pretty big dork as it was ;-)

At work, we're running around trying to find space in the server room. We got a very large air conditioning unit to go in there. Fortunately it's on wheels, but if it had been taller and wheel-less, we wouldn't have to deal with it taking up so much floor area. We've also got a rack or two of FibreChannel equipment coming in. My boss is frantically looking for a rackmount console for at least one of our Sun systems, and we're running into trouble with our Cyclades TS800 crashing. It seems to not like our Sun Netra X1.

I'm finishing up classes. Took a final for my database course on Wednesday, and I've been helping to put together our presentation for my Financial Information Systems course. Hmm.. I suppose I'll have to dress up a bit tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 05:56 PM Central | Hardware , Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 28, 2002

Advogato Entry 296

Thought I'd post a note (mostly for the search engines out there) that the FujiFilm FinePix A303 camera works with Linux (as a USB storage device, at least). The camera can be configured in a "PC Camera" mode, but that doesn't work with Linux yet (the manual says that only works with Windows (XP?), and won't work with MacOS either). I was somewhat worried, as this camera uses xD-Picture Card media, rather than CompactFlash or SmartMedia.

Anyway, I guess my computer was set up for USB already, so I just had to mount the camera, which was a simple ``mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 /camera'' I decided to add a line to my /etc/fstab so I can just ``mount /camera'' to make it easier to copy images onto my laptop.

I've been thinking that I should try to find a way to automatically mount and unmount the camera when it is plugged in and unplugged, but I suspect someone has done that already. I had the thought that most of these filesystems have pseudorandom serial numbers on them (well, unless you get preformatted media, which often all have the same thing, which can lead to data corruption in certain situations). Anyway, you could make it so different serial numbers get mounted in different places. Any of the cards for your camera show up on /camera, while your MP3 player shows up on /boombox or something.

I just want something that does it automatically, because I always forget to unmount before unplugging the camera...

Posted by mike at 10:27 AM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Photography , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 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...

Posted by mike at 07:54 PM Central | Hardware , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Photography , Software , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 09:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Posted by mike at 12:38 PM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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..

Posted by mike at 09:34 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 27, 2003

Advogato Entry 301

Hmm. Mister Rogers died this morning. A sad thing to see, but all things must come to an end.

Strange he's almost a mythical figure. When I was in high school, lots of kids said that he had been in the Marines and had tattoos on his body. That's definitely an interesting idea...

I was very young when my parents sat me down to watch Mr. Rogers, and I don't remember much of the show. However, I'm never going to forget the story of his stolen car from a few years back. Once the thieves discovered the car was his, they returned it to the parking spot and left a note explaining, ``Sorry, we didn't know it was yours.''

Posted by mike at 09:15 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 25, 2003

Advogato Entry 302

Heard on the radio the other day (NPR's "Marketplace", if I remember right): "The Dow Jones was down 300 points today, as the realization sunk in that war is unpredictable and ugly."

Things like that make me happy I don't own any stock at the moment.

Posted by mike at 01:29 PM Central | Corporations , Old Advogato Diary , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 27, 2003

Advogato Entry 303

I think I'm going to move my diary to a Movable Type system on my own website. Too much of what I want to say is not open-source related or anything. Does anyone know of a converter for translating Advogato XML data into the Movable Type format appropriate for importing? I suppose I'll have to hunt for something to do that..

Posted by mike at 02:24 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 28, 2003

Converting (cont'd)

Well, instead of going to sleep like I should have, I stayed up late and worked on a small perl script to convert my Advogato diary entries into a format that Movable Type can handle. It's a puny script less than 40 lines long, but it worked well enough for me. I'll probably spend time fixing up the screwy output that it created for some things, but it's mostly okay.

Posted by mike at 03:56 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Well, I've managed to tweak a good portion of the entries I uploaded. For some reason, Movable Type doesn't appear to have an option on import for disabling converting carriage-returns to line breaks. I had to go through and do that manually. What a pain. Also, the import script has a bug where if you have an entry with 8 or more dashes in a row in it, the parser will jump to the next entry. The parser should be more strict and only go to the next entry when it sees something that is exactly 8 dashes and a linefeed, rather than just looking for 8 dashes.

Anyway, I had to fix two entries because of that.

I'll probably go through in my spare time and categorize many of my past entries, and perhaps give them more appropriate titles. I noticed one odd thing: I tried to number some of my early entries on Advogato, and the numbers are off by one. I don't really know why that is. Iit's one in my favor, though -- doesn't look like I'm missing anything. It's possible that the Advogato site causes the first entry to be "hidden" after a while..

Posted by mike at 11:00 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Well, I've pretty much categorized all of my entries from September 11th, 2001 onward. I was just making a Sept. 11 category, but I kept running into other messages that needed to be categorized, and I did a little over a hundred of them. I still have to do a good pass through the approximately 190 messages that are before that day.

I think the events of that day have had repercussions that have made me less interested in posting to Advogato. Since I now have all of my stuff on my own website, I can write whatever I want, and I don't have to bend to fit the technology and open-source orientation of another site. I can say "Bush is an idiot" as often as I want ;-)

Posted by mike at 07:52 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2003


Just categorized stuff from July 2000. I'd better do another month or two tomorrow, but I don't want to do it tonight and stay up all night again.

Movable Type generates a lot of files, so I need to free up some disk space on my web account space. I would like to keep my old files, though, so I'll have to find a good web-accessible spot to archive them..

My mom told me about a CPC Job Fair tomorrow 10 AM to 4 PM at Southdale. I should go, if only to get a change of scenery. I guess I'll have to manage to dig out some resumes to bring along.

Posted by mike at 08:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)