Hack of the Month
Today started out great. The weather was fantastic, I was rested. Took
the laptop out on the deck and started working away at finishing
Celestia/Gnome. It's definitely ready to go out now. The perfect onion
in the photo contributed to a delicious lunch. But the real fun started
in the evening.
The Evening Story
The connection to the EngSoc
machines was down. At first, it appeared that Carleton was down, but
then that came up. I could even access other EngSoc machines not on the
main subnet, but the core machines were definitely not reachable at 23:00.
There were three options: fire, UPS failure, or router-machine
failure. Upon arriving at the office, I noticed all the machines were
running, the router was misbehaving in terms of network interfaces;
restarting networking on it seemed to help, but actually did nothing.
The next step was to turn my attention to the back of the rack.
Immediately I noticed that every LED on the main Nortel BayStack switch
was lit up, and very, very dimly: "shit."
I unplugged everything, took it to the workbench, plugged it in:
still no good. I opened it up, nothing seemed torched. "Power supply?
Maybe. But where am I going to get a 5.0V 4A supply at this time?"
I decided the best bet was to try to rig up some of the Linksys and
3Com wireless routers, each with 5 ports or so on the back, and maybe
get minimal services back up. As I was about to do this, it hit me that
they use 5.0V 2.5A power supplies! Sure enough, a D-Link power supply
made the BayStack work just dandy with no load. Indeed, the original
BayStack power supply smelled quite charred.
I considered for a while just using the D-Link power supply, but with
the switch fully loaded, I worried it would overload. That would make
everything bad happen again and cost a power supply. So, I started
thinking how to run two of them in parallel. Too much work, far too
delicate without a good supply of solderable plugs.
As all this was being considered, an old AT power supply caught my
eye. Hm. Perfect! The label even says +5.0V 5A.
In the end, I found a wire and plug that was already severed from a
dead 12V power supply, shoved some solder into the plug's hole to make
it about the right size for the BayStack, shoved the stripped its leads
into the holes for the red and black wires on the power supply, moved
all this into the rack, plugged all the network cables back in... you
know, it works!
That's the story of a Pat Suwalski solution. It is 01:28 and I shall
go to bed now. First day of full-time employment in the morning.
] | posted @ 05:33 | link
No More Teachers, No More Books...
Last exam was yesterday. It is so nice to be free. Summer work starts
Friday. For now, I am enjoying the freedom, working mostly on my big
boat, getting in some much needed reinforcement on the propeller shafts.
I had that out on the pond this week, and had forgotten just how fast it
is! Today, the tax papers were done; expecting good money back. Also
discovered that SuSE has issues with their Gnome configuration, and
GConf install rules do not work very well. The crowning achievement was
getting back on ten or so eMails that were up to six weeks out of
date. The important thing is that I got to them eventually, right? So,
therefore, the photo of the day is a beauty shot of my laptop
keyboard... just because...
] | posted @ 03:49 | link
In study boredom today, I thought I would try to get multi-channel
mixing working on my soundcard working once again. Got it, this time.
Alsa dmix is awesome. I can have any number of audio streams
simulataneously, as well as sound notifications in Gaim and whatnot.
This is definitely what I've been missing in Linux!
PS: That Centrino sticker was about ten times easier to remove than
the Windows XP sticker.
] | posted @ 03:10 | link
Exams... Almost Done!
That Comm Theory exam was brutal. Never have I seen so many disappointed
people. There were people literally trying to reregister for the summer
section right after the exam. Th other two exam since were fair. Only
Statistics remains now. Once Tuesday comes and goes, I am free.
Gnome development work is very exciting. I've subscribed to the Gnome
desktop-development-list, and there are some very stimulating discussions
there, as there are on the various Project Utopia mailing lists. For the
most part, I'm attempting to keep my mouth shut, and help out the occasional
newb if there is a simple solution to their problem. I'm still not at the
point where I can just sit down and hack away at code easily, so I'll
continue to do supportive work. This week I made a p.g.o head for Joe Shaw, and my cleaner
version of the Gnome SVG logo made it to Jeff Waugh's Logo Site. Next, maybe
the t-shirt design?
The Centrino sticker has started bugging me, so I removed it from the
laptop. Now it has a dull spot amongst the shined up paint. It's amazing
that this 6-month-old laptop is already showing areas where the paint is
completely worn through.
Celestia is getting final polish. I redesigned the autoconf script to
force a front-end selection and be less ambiguous throughout. Just a few
very minor bugs left.
] | posted @ 03:57 | link
Exams Quickly Approaching.
I'm worried. I'm always worried when it comes to Comm Theory. The exam
is coming up Thursday, the day after a much less stressful real-time
systems exam. Spent the day studying on and off. Filed a few
ALSA-related bugs. Some Gnome programs go nuts if OSS mixer emulation is
turned off, apparently.
In my boredom over the last several days, I've added the first model
I built, a Klingon Vor'cha Cruiser, to the models page. Not much of a
build-up: flat paint job and not much else. But it was enough to
motivate me to create more. I spent hours making the thing look more
interesting in the Gimp; it was an excellent learning experience about
how Gimp handles layers, transparency, and so on.
Also over the last several days, Project Utopia components just
started working on my laptop. It's nice to see that this stuff works,
and is extremely promising. I've attempted to write a patch that
produces more verbose messages and places them in the system log. It got
sort of turned down, looks like Havoc
Pennington would like a much more elaborate solution: some
configuration file options, a little more selectivity in what gets put
in the log, etcetera. I might just try to make these things happen.
To aid with this exam studying, went out and bought Don
Giovanni by Mozart. Excellent studying music. Highly recommended.
Back to studying...
] | posted @ 03:28 | link
Time - Drift Bignesses.
Tonight, for the boat club meeting I decided to be the first with a
boat in the water this year. There was just enough water. The boat
doesn't have a motor, or even for that matter, a propeller, but I'm
fairly certain it still counts.
Just got back from the monthly OCLUG meeting, where there was a very
interesting presentation from a man involved with running Canada's time
servers at the NRC. Apparently, Canadian time
is based on NTP running on three Sparc 2's. A person asked what the
units of drift that NTP uses are, and the man responded saying "drift
bignesses." That's the quote of the day.
Also, often after meetings like this, I go to Shirley's Bay by the
Ottawa River and code or whatever. In this case, the Java TFTP
server/client due tomorrow-ish. As I was going there, I passed a cop car
going somewhere between 70 and 90 in the 40 zone leading up to there,
and luckily nothing bad came of it. Then, while sitting in my car with
the laptop, another cop came by and shone the big light on the roof of
his car at me to make sure I was alright. Finally, on the way home, I
passed another police car. That's a lot of police.
] | posted @ 03:44 | link
Last Week of School... Sort Of.
This week dragged on and on. It's the feeling that it should be done by
now but it still isn't.
The TFTP project presentation at school went not-so-well. This
thing's finally due this week, and I'll be glad to be rid of it. It's
not the actual workings that make this project ugly, it's having to
pollute the code with debug functions that prove it handles errors.
Bought a whole load of computer things for school. It's great trying
to spend as much of the budget as can be justified. The guy at the
computer store actually asked me: "Stocking up on network cards?"
Started helping out with the model boat classes again this weekend.
Since exam time is approaching, I decided to start going at my hobbies
again. Strange how that happens every exam period.
Regarding exams, it looks like they will be mostly straightforward.
I'm not terribly worried about anything besides Communications Theory.
Even the content on that can be accurately predicted, it's my ability to
answer it that's uncertain.
Can't wait for this school year to just get by me one way or another.
The apathy is starting to set in.
] | posted @ 03:41 | link
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