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?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

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.

Afternoon

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)

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)

August 15, 2000

Advogato Entry 28

Morning

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

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

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

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

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

Afternoon

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

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

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

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

More Afternoon

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

Posted by mike at 12:30 PM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Work , XFree | 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.

Later

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.

Anyway..

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..

Dammit.

Posted by mike at 10:28 PM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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...

Later

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 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 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)

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)

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 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)

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)

May 07, 2003

Push My Buttons

I bought a Logitech MX500 mouse shortly after I moved because the PS/2 port on my computer started acting flaky. The mouse pointer jumped all over the place. I thought the mouse had died, but it now appears that the port itself has gone bad, as my new mouse (a USB and PS/2 one) exhibits exactly the same problems when it's plugged into that port. Fortunately, it works fine on a USB port.

Anyway, this mouse has more buttons than I know what to do with. Well, not quite. When I first got it, the buttons were mapped really weird under Linux. Some of the extra ones would repeat the functionality of other buttons on the mouse. But, now I have most of them working like they should.

To get the buttons working, I had to edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and edit the section for my mouse. It now looks like

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Mouse1"
        Driver          "mouse"
        Option          "Protocol"      "ExplorerPS/2"
        Option          "Device"        "/dev/input/mice"
        Option          "Buttons"       "7"
        Option          "ZAxisMapping"  "6 7"
        Option          "SendCoreEvents"        "true"
        Option          "Emulate3Buttons"       "yes"
EndSection

Note that this is for a secondary mouse entry. I still have my old PS/2 mouse configured as Mouse0, so if you only have one mouse, you'll have to remove the "SendCoreEvents" option and probably change the Identifier..

Unfortunately, editing the config file is not the only thing I had to do. I also have to run `xmodmap -e "pointer = 1 2 3 6 7 4 5"' to remap the scroll wheel "buttons" to 4 and 5, so that they will be accepted as scroll wheel buttons by most applications. Actually, I also have to run `xsetpointer Mouse1' or `xinput set-pointer Mouse1' before doing that, since I have to select which mouse I'm modifying. I may have to swap the order of the mice in my XF86Config file..

Additionally, I had to setup and run the imwheel program in order to get the extra buttons to do anything useful. Here's the contents of my ~/.imwheelrc:

#Default Settings
".*"
@Priority = -1000
None, Left, Control_L|Left
None, Right, Control_L|Right
Control_L, Left, Control_L|Left
Control_L, Right, Control_L|Right

Now, I run `imwheel -b 006700', and the buttons on the side of my mouse will take me forward and backward in my web browser window.

Geez, I don't know why more people don't use Linux :-p

Posted by mike at 09:19 PM Central | Hardware , Software , XFree | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2003

The Colors! The Colors!

Ungh..

Why can't XFree86 get updated a little more frequently on Debian? They're always many moons behind the curve..

I want XFree86 4.3.0, which supports color cursors and other nifty things. I remember, back in 1996, when I ran OS/2, having some pretty color cursors. Since then, I've only had sad black-and-white ones.

Ah well, it should at least show up by Christmas..

Posted by mike at 02:08 PM Central | XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 12, 2003

It Is a Good Shrubbery

Well, I finally got high-resolution video playing back on my computer. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite seem to be flowing at full framerate yet. Looks like the Linux drivers for my motherboard's AGP slot need some work. In addition, the video drivers for my Matrox G550 have a limitation of a video size of 1024x1024. I'm not sure if that's a hardware limitation, or just an arbitrary limit that the driver author put in. Even if there is a hardware limitation, I wonder if it could be worked around in some way for 1280x720 video, which contains fewer pixels than a 1024x1024 square.

However, an alternative which already exists is to use the “texture engine” instead of doing traditional video overlay. This has advantages and disadvantages. With the G550 driver, this goes up to nearly 2048x2048. Also, you get gamma correction in the video output automatically. However, video doesn't seem to be synchronized with the scan of the monitor, so you get a shearing effect where, say, the top half of the screen is one frame of video, and the bottom half is the other. I'd get that problem with video overlay, but it was much less frequent. In addition, it just seems to be more CPU intensive, and scaling the video away from the “native” resolution slows the frame rate pretty dramatically.

I think I've finally figured out a good method for watching the video stream without the player crashing every 60 seconds when some corrupted data is received. It's amazing enough that I get a usable signal after it has been bounced off the school across the street—I have to expect some data loss (line-of-sight to the tower goes almost straight through the whole building I'm in).

So, I've been watching soothing high-definition video for the past hour. And it really is soothing—way too many pictures of nature scenes for you to think that this is being broadcast in 2003. In fact, there are so many flowers in the test streams that TPT sends out that you'd think HDTV was a pet project for a botanist (one short video was called On the Azalea Trail). Then again, there's so much green, you'd think that it was done by a golfer.

Now, I just need to figure out what needs to be tweaked so the video plays back more smoothly…

Posted by mike at 11:29 PM Central | Hardware , Software , TV , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)