Pat's Log
Wed, 30 Jun 2004

Super Size Me
This evening I had plans to go out and see Fahrenheit 9/11 at the World Plaza. Upon getting to the theatre, it was obvious we wouldn't get in, and a guy came in saying he had just come from the other two theatres playing the movie with equally slim chances of getting in.

So, we went to see Super Size Me. I thought it would be a comedy. It turned out being a documentary. Normally, I wouldn't pay to see a documentary, but I highly recommend this one. It really got me thinking about fast food, and some of the imagery in the production was disturbing to say the least. There was also a lot of humour. I guess I left the place feeling better about my slowly increasing weight than I have in a long time.

[] | posted @ 04:17 | link
Mon, 28 Jun 2004

A Weekend of Relaxation
20040627 This was definitely a "hands off" weekend for me. We had a party here with about twenty guests, lots of wine, lots of delicious food.

Yesterday, I went to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with the younger siblings. I thought the movie was very well done, certainly covering all of the important aspects of the rather long book. Unfortunately, the character of Oliver Wood was cut, even though he played a fairly important role in the book. While the first two movies were directed by Chris Columbus, this one was directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The movie was filmed with much higher contrast, and the style was different. Not better or worse, but strikingly different, less childish. I very much miss Richard Harris' Dumbledore; he passed away and it's not the same without him. I haven't seen a movie with Harris where his performance didn't touch me in some profound way.

Today, I went to see The Chronicles of Riddick with Markus, who seems to be in town pretty often for someone who works in Toronto. The movie was sci-fi, with Vin Diesel as the main actor (and producer). It was filmed in Canada. The design work and cinematography were fantastic. Even Vin Diesel's acting was above Vin Diesel par. But it was definitely a Vin Diesel movie. That tends to mean lack of character development. Otherwise, the movie was entertaining. The only real work I did this weekend was to rip the prop shafts out of my big r/c boat. The starboard shaft had come completely loose after over three years of heavy usage, and they were never set properly in the first place. They will be done properly this time, hopefully in time for the Merrickville meet next weekend, probably my favourite event.

[] | posted @ 03:37 | link
Sat, 26 Jun 2004

Six Months
20040625 Work went smoothly today. I biked there for the third time this week. This was my goal to maintain throughout the entire summer, so now I just have to do that every week. I stopped by the side of Timm Road to take a photo of the grass swaying in the wind.

I've spent most of the evening debugging the HAL daemon. That problem with the Atheros card causing crashes still exists. I know where it happens, but I can't yet explain why. It's easy to avoid (one line can be commented), but the goal is to fix the problem.

Today marks six months since I started writing to this thing. Although it's not fed to anyone anywhere, this log still feels useful.

[] | posted @ 02:20 | link
Fri, 25 Jun 2004

OLS, Goshdarnit.
So, today I finally had all the information needed to register for the Ottawa Linux Symposium; information such as my ability to take time off work to attend (this is always harder for students). However, upon logging into the registration site, I was informed that registration closed three days ago. I eMailed Andrew Hutton about being put on the waiting list, but I'm sure my chances are pretty low. I was really counting on making it in. I did manage to make it into the Desktop Developers' Conference taking place during the two days preceding OLS.

[] | posted @ 17:53 | link

Strangest - Vehicle - Ever
20040624 As I was driving down the Queensway today, I encountered the strangest vehicle I've ever seen on the road. It was small, open, three wheeled, very low to the ground, had a funky trailer, and bore a license plate from New Brunswick.

Then, on my way from the car to the meeting, while stuck on the median of Bronson Avenue, the strongest rain I've ever encountered pelted at my face. The wind was so strong that the water was flying nearly horizontally. I could hardly see anything a metre away, and was completely soaked in a matter of seconds. The wind was so powerful that it literally threw me off balance as I ran for shelter, and the raindrops hurt more than the ice during a hailstorm. I've never been that soaked by rain in my life.

In terms of fixing the car, I went to get a quote at a body repair shop during lunch. Still waiting for the man to get back to me. They think they can fix the hood; I'm skeptical. I did manage to buy new headlights for a very reasonable price, however.

[] | posted @ 03:44 | link
Wed, 23 Jun 2004

In last night's entry posted the old family name, Suwała. Shortly thereafter, it occurred to me that I had to switch the log's HTML header to use the UTF-8 character set by default, instead of ISO-8859-1. I post to the log via PGP-crypted mail. I was expecting something to break along the way, if not in the MIME encoding, then somewhere along the procmail piping, but it didn't. I'm generally impressed by how well UTF-8 works at this point. No need for funny encoding types or ampersand-notation; I could easily insert Russian or Japanese throughout my text. До свидания.

[] | posted @ 20:45 | link

My Ancestry
20040622 Today was a calm, cloudy day, with one 10 minute spurt of very heavy rain. Of course, it was when I was driving. The photo shows how it was, with the wipers going full speed. In fact, the EXIF data tells me that the exposure time was a 1/100 of a second. It's remarkable how quickly the rain was coming down. I probably should have been paying more attention to the road...

The highlight of the evening was my grandfather giving a history lesson on the family roots. This is a subject I greatly enjoy, and he has done extremely meticulous research into our ancestry. Last time he was here, we mapped a detailed family tree, and scanned in all available photos, dating back to the very beginnings of photography. At that point, I had cleaned up many of the photos, and they were archived on CD. This was 1996/7. Now, I plan to scan all his notes and create a proper archive that can be distributed throughout the family.

The most interesting point of the discussion tonight was that my roots have been traced back to 1644. It is believed that our family name originated around then, as Suwała. The name has evolved since then, as names tend to, but remains true to its original meaning.

[] | posted @ 03:33 | link
Mon, 21 Jun 2004

Semi-Productive Weekend
20040620 I spent a good portion of the day at churches. First, the beautiful Polish Church downtown, an astounding glossy wood design. It made nice reflections of stained glass of off my glasses. Unfortunately, the camera didn't quite capture the saturation, the colours. Then, I thought my grandfather might enjoy seeing the cathedral downtown. It's amazing how the whole thing is built from wood. It really gives the pipe organ a unique sound that you don't get into a church built from rock. The organ must have at least 200 registers. I thought that would be a real bitch to set, until I saw the organist slide open a drawer, enter a number into a keypad within. At tat point all the registers reset, and then quickly set themselves to a preset pattern. That is a really neat modern add-on to this old organ.

The rest of the day was devoted to the EngFrosh site. Unfortunately, I gave in and converted my purely DIV-driven design into one that uses the forbidden table with a height of 100%. I think the conclusion I can draw is that while CSS is great for a consistent look in lengthy documents, a graphical-artsy type of design still benefits from classic HTML elements, especially when Mozilla and IE react completely differently to the styles. My design still passes HTML 4.01 Transitional, so it's not all bad. The evening was spent producing hand-drawn designs to populate the pirates theme, including various ornaments to decorate the site with an authentic ink and paper feel.

The quote of the week, yelled at me by a co-worker, is: "No one's ever thrown USB mass storage at me before!"

[] | posted @ 03:34 | link
Wed, 16 Jun 2004

Fair Weather
20040615 The weather today was good; clear skies, decent temperature and humidity. It was perfect for model boating. On the way home, a quick stop at Shirley's Bay made for a few nice photos of the calm waves.

I came across a badly named Debian package, making for a confusing statement in apt:

dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of libinstaller2: libinstaller2 depends on expect; however: Package expect is not installed.

Although the package name is perfectly legitimate in and of itself, the sentences it forms in apt output didn't make sense at first.

The EngFrosh web page is coming along, finally. I think I've managed to find a look that conforms to CSS guidelines and benefits from being implemented with stylesheets too. Still, progress is slow.

[] | posted @ 03:42 | link
Tue, 15 Jun 2004

Lunch today was spent scurrying through the local junkyard in search of parts to replace the ones damaged in the accident. Prices were pretty good: $125 for the hood, $150 for both headlights, $150 for the bumper, and $35 for the grille. After that, there will need to be some straightening of the frame, and of course, paint.

Work was productive. I thought I'd give a shot at packaging up the latest monolithic server release. Instead of the usual Debian scheme (over 30 packages), I figured the monolithic server deserves a monolithic package. And monolithic it is: one .deb with 6852 files. The task for tomorrow is to finish writing a script that parses the contents of this package and tells me what needs to go in the "Provides" line, based on existing Debian packages. Debian compatibility is paramount.

My grandfather flew over on Saturday for the first time in eight (?) years. It's nice to have him here, he is a member of the family I look up to. He is wise and has good technical skills. I look forward to his input on some of my projects.

[] | posted @ 03:34 | link
Sat, 12 Jun 2004

Crumple Zone
20040611 Work was terrible today. My brain was complete mush, I couldn't concentrate. So I started playing with kernel 2.6.7-rc3. Power management is broken more than ever before on my laptop. It sucked. My inability to debug it sucked. So I went home.

On my way home, I got a call that my mother had just crashed the car, so I drove over to help. She had rear-ended a car. The damage is mild but significant, with the front frame pushed in about 4 cm in the center, the lights bent in accordingly, and though not easily visible in the photo, the leading edge of the hood is quite a bit more vertical and scraped than before. The hood actually doesn't sit flat on anymore. The bumper is all scratched up. Next to the licence plate, the other vehicle's exhaust pipe punched a nice hole. All damage is structural and body, the vehicle's performance is completely unaffected. The other car suffered a lot more. Though a tough-looking Oldsmobile, it had just had a hitch installed, which is what caused the center-damage on our car. Because the hitch was attached to the frame of the car, it had majorly deformed their rear-end. I felt horrible for these people, but not nearly as bad as my mother. They were an older couple, on a trip from New Brunswick the man explained was 1016 km, with 2 km left to their son's house, where they were to spend the night, before leaving to their other son in Toronto, and catching a flight from there to go travel. They were so close to their destination, too.

The bad part is that this is my car. I was driving my mom's van, having just picked it up from the shop where the A/C was fixed. Here is the twist: I was the cause of the accident. I was driving down the road in the other direction, about a half-hour earlier than expected. My mother turned her head to see if it was actually me, and the rest is history... ironic history.

I made my mom a sticker that reads "I used crumple zones today."

[] | posted @ 03:38 | link
Thu, 10 Jun 2004

A Generic Day
Work was fairly plain today. I attended a number of meetings. Nothing blew up in my face.

I finished with the diplomas for my brother's graduation. They go to the printers tomorrow.

I should be starting the EngFrosh work right about now. Somehow, I'm not in the mood, though. I have all these great ideas, but they'll take a lot of work to implement. Also, my ideas don't seem CSS-compatible, which means tables-galore. I was hoping for a clean design, so I need to think about it more.

[] | posted @ 03:02 | link
Wed, 09 Jun 2004

Muggy Day
20040608 Today was super-muggy. It was 31 degrees, and the atmosphere was so thick that the clear sky was almost gray. The weather is driving the dog nuts. Speaking of the dog, she tried jumping out of the van today while it was moving, right out the passenger-side window. My dad got her by the hind legs just in time. Still, it was a close call... silly suicidal dog.

The rear driver-side bearing on the car was changed today. Hopefully that's all the repairs for this week!

Work went as planned. I started playing with the X-server. It's very similar to XFree86 at this point, but with some very nice additions. One of the most notable ones is the ability to run without a configuration file. It actually generates one on startup with a complete list of resolutions so that xrandr has a good list to choose from. Additionally, the commercial ATI drivers compile against it. I'll have to check the nVidia ones tomorrow, though I don't expect any problems.

Markus asked me to clarify that yesterday's discussion was definitely not QNX versus Linux. That's the thing about blogs: they tend to have an audience, which means sometimes things need clarification.

Had my first ice cap today. I forgot how fond of those things I am!

[] | posted @ 03:18 | link
Tue, 08 Jun 2004

Cruddy Day
20040607 The weekend was alright, I did very little, while enjoying good brew on the deck with the laptop. The photo is of moss on the front walkway at sunset. The camera was set to macro mode, which always results in a high depth of field.

Today was terrible. Nothing worked. At all. At work nothing would build, then Markus decided to start an IM debate about why QNX's microkernel approach is superior to Linux's much simpler design. From my point of view, it seems that microkernel is great for embedded systems, like what QNX was designed for, but not for servers and workstations like Linux. But besides that, Linux is getting more and more modular, and is moving more and more into userspace. The OS is moving from a monolithic design like classic UN*X toward a modular layout, unique to itself. Then Kyle pointed out that Exokernels are all the rage now anyway.

At lunch, the EngSoc mail server lost a drive on the RAID array, so I had to go in and try rebuilding from there. It didn't go, and the drive was swapped with one of the desktops' drives in the afternoon. Looks like there's a WD RMA to be requested: bad blocks, probably. The temporary replacement just finished rebuilding in the middle of the last paragraph.

I was determined to not go home until things started working, which resulted in a pretty late day. One of the last things I tried was the new fd.o x-server. It worked, shadows and all. Everything was good, except that I was just informed on IRC that I was using the experimental "k-drive" server, formerly Tiny-X, instead of the server I had planned to use. It may be experimental, but it's pretty cool. They should definitely come up with a better naming scheme, it's to confusing. Tomorrow I will try the "monolothic" server, which is the XFree86 branch I intended to use.

Project Utopia got asked if it would consider formally proposing for inclusion in Gnome 2.8. After some debate as to the API stability, it looks like there will be an effort to get it in for the 2.7 branch. That is good news. Hopefully the distributions will not rip it out like they rip out other Gnome components. 2.8 is shaping up to be one helluva release.

[] | posted @ 02:41 | link
Sun, 06 Jun 2004

20040605 Today was a astonishingly beautiful day. I spent most of it outside on the deck with my laptop trying to debug HAL. At one point, my mother decided to remove all the window blinds in the house and hose them down to remove dust. All was well until the garden hose was used for the first time. There were at least four places where water was shooting out of it. It's amazing what winter can do to rubber.

The whole evening was spent trying to make graduation certificates for my brother's Grade Six graduation ceremony. I got suckered into doing this, because when I was graduating from Grade Six back in 1994, I made the certificates, and I figured I could just reuse the same file. Well, I still had the file, but recent versions of CorelDRAW wouldn't import it. The additional catch was that they want all the names printed automatically, whereas ten years ago one of the teachers with calligraphy skills had put them in herself. This last point is what caused me pains. After messing around for several hours, I ended up recreating my work in WordPerfect, with various bits exported from CorelDRAW as EPS form, and using database merging from the Windows Address Book, which is populated by importing CSV text with all the names of students. It's an ugly hack, but it works. I did manage to reuse my Georges Vanier School logo scan from 1994. I never thought I would be using that scan ten years later!

[] | posted @ 03:58 | link
Fri, 04 Jun 2004

New Wheels
20040603 Today I finally purchased the wheels I've been meaning to get for the last little while. The diameter is one inch larger (R14 vs. R13), and they are a little wider than stock. The current tires need changing anyway, and the wheels were a good deal, seeing as they cost less than the new tires will. Of course, only after bringing them home did I notice that one of the four (pictured) is missing the center cover. All the others have pieces that fit into the middle hole. I will have to concoct something; even black lexan would be better than a hole. It was still worth it: each wheel even has a stainless steel vent cap. There is someting beautiful about how light reflects from polished alloys.

I am still very much amazed by the camera's ability to take good photos. This photo was taken during twilight, when the sun had already mostly set (at about 20:30). The brightness of the wheel is significantly higher than in real life, making it look like daylight.

[] | posted @ 03:17 | link
Wed, 02 Jun 2004

New Shades
20040602 I bought new sunglasses today. The old ones had a crack in them, misshapen, and were too wide (always getting them caught on things). The new ones are definitely smaller, small enough that it will take some time to get used to seeing the frame in my peripheral vision. They are polarized, which means that when they are turned 45 degrees to a LCD, the screen is black. The intended purpose of catching the glare off of shiny cars is also served: on the bike ride home today, I noticed that whereas windshields are normally white with glare, now they were dark and I could see right into the cars. Even tinted windows do not hinder seeing inside cars too much. Very cool.

I spent a good chunk of the day playing with CVS versions of D-BUS and HAL. D-BUS runs fine, but HAL is a no-go. With recent wireless additions, the daemon segfaults on startup when it attempts to communicate with the Atheros card. I may try fixing the code, since I seem to be the only person on the list who has one of these. It should definitely ignore "bad" devices if it cannot talk with them.

I was pondering what writing in this log does for me. At the very least, it brings into focus all of the little writing nuances that require constant practice to avoid. For example, repetitive overuse of certain words. I know I do this. When writing an essay, the repetition does not come out immediately. When writing a continuous journal, it is easy to spot deficiencies in writing style, since the topics are all over the place, and, therefore, there should never be a shortage of words. I wonder if these entries will be better in a year from now.

The monthly OCLUG meeting was last night. I missed it. Oops. It didn't even occur to me that it was the first Tuesday of June yesterday. I expected it to be next week, somehow.

[] | posted @ 15:37 | link

I have never lost important things on a hard drive...
20040601 ...until today. When I got to work, I noticed that my build machine was completely nuts, and the upon reboot wouldn't boot. The filesystem wouldn't mount from a rescue CD. Looked very bad.

The crazy thing is that the next thing on my todo list, clearly marked for this morning, was to back up all the important things on the disk. Murphy must be laughing.

Anyway, after two hours of playing, swapping hard drive PCBs, using reiserfstools, and hoping for the best, the filesystem did mount, and I was able to retrieve all important information. There were weird things, like all of the directories from the root of the drive (usr, bin, sbin, and so on) existed within subdirectories of /etc, but it mostly worked. It would not mount after that. But that's okay. There was one shot at retrieving data and it was used.

I cannot tell why this system was using ReiserFS. I generally insist that all my build machines use ext3, which would not suffer the kind of errors Reiser did. Proper journalling could have saved a lot of hassle, especially since it was just a few bad blocks near the end of the drive.

The day wasn't over yet. As I was installing a new copy of Debian on a new drive for this machine, a big storm developed. The power went off, then on. Then, a minute later, it flickered again. Damn. Well, everything survived... but not quite. Turns out the dish on the roof stopped working. So out to the roof I went. No damage. But the radio box on the antenna was fried. It got replaced quickly, thankfully.

The day was over. And I guess I didn't lose anything important on the drive after all.

[] | posted @ 03:53 | link
Tue, 01 Jun 2004

May Has Come and Gone
20040531 Work wasn't terribly exciting today. At lunch I picked up the replacement stabilizer bolt. When the guy handed it to me, I actually asked if it was the right part. It looked nothing like what I took off. The photo shows the new part at the top, and the old at the bottom. The one on the bottom has really suffered the elements! Also pictured is the part installed; there is always something strange about a shiny new part surrounded by old weather-beaten ones.

I'm just putting the finishing touches on all of the parts that make a boat go. The little bugger will definitely be in the water tomorrow.

When I took a break to go out and play with the RC car, I noticed that it too needs attention. The clutch is getting very loose. Looks like it will need replacement parts soon too.

[] | posted @ 03:59 | link

copyright ©2004-2016 pat suwalski