Pat's Log
Sat, 31 Jul 2004

All Worked Out...
Over the past six days I've been to the gym every night. For the past three, I've also been to the pool. My arms are aching from weights and swimming. My legs are aching from serious recumbent biking. But the spot I want to work out, the spot where all the fat is, my stomach area, is not aching. I go to big lengths trying to get that area of my body to break a sweat. On one hand, it's a good thing since it indicates I have strong torso and back muscles. On the other hand, I'd really like it to endure a little stress and burn fat. Other than that, I find that a swim after a workout completes the experience. I started diving off of one of the high diving boards tonight.

Since I'm biking so much in the gym this week, I've pondered why I don't just enjoy biking to work as much. The reasons are:

  • I don't have a recumbent bike.
  • I don't like getting to work sweaty.
  • I don't like exercising in the morning; only evenings.
  • I don't like hot, humid temperatures; the gym has dry/cool air.
  • I don't like wasting time in the morning, when driving is faster.
  • I do enjoy the bike ride home, especially if the sun is setting.

Still, when the weather is just right, a bike ride to and from work is great. Driving just feels wasteful.

At work, this week has been productive. Today felt especially so. I finally got all four of my build machines to behave, and they will soon function as a well-oiled machine.

I'm expecting the family home any day now. Bye-bye freedom.

[] | posted @ 03:34 | link
Thu, 29 Jul 2004

With everyone gone, this is truly a week of freedom. Since I don't have a dinner to come home to, I've been going to the Carleton gym to work out. I find it relieves hunger quite a bit, though it's left me a little sore. Tonight was the first night I went to the pool to do some laps. I feel great.

At work, I've spent the whole week thus far making a software RAID array work. The machine has an on-board VIA SATA controller. If this were kernel 2.4.x, VIA provides a driver for this "half-hardware" card, where the BIOS keeps track of consistency, while the OS driver takes care of writing to multiple devices. But, this being a 2.6.x kernel, I needed to go with the kernel's RAID1 implementation. It's been difficult, but it finally started working. It's actually a very comprehensive driver. I may start using it elsewhere too.

Only a couple more days of freedom...

[] | posted @ 04:27 | link
Mon, 26 Jul 2004

OLS is Over...
...and I'm dead-tired. Saturday was the last day, and I was completely exhausted. At the end-of-OLS party I was simply too tired.

Earlier that day, Greg KH of Gentoo, who had won an AMD FX-51 processor earlier in the week, gave me his prize, since he has a new machine and has no use for such a processor. Apparently, it's a very expensive chip. Apparently, the motherboards are really expensive too.

Yesterday was a dat of relaxation in Perth with the boat club. In the evening I watched Fahrenheit 9/11. Now I like Bush even less. Without making too much of Moore's style, there were parts that just made sense in hindsight.

And now, after sending out a few thank-you eMails, it's back to real life. I have to start putting serious thought into my fourth-year project. There is important work to be done on the car. Then, there's my job, with quickly approaching deadlines.

[] | posted @ 14:17 | link
Sat, 24 Jul 2004

OLS, Day 3
20040724 I didn't get to attend very much of OLS this Friday. The most interesting thing was an X BOFS. Again, Keith Packard and Jim Gettys put on an interesting conversation. This one looked like it drew a lot of interest from potential developers. An observation is that the X talks have drawn the largest crowds of any of the concurrent seminars. This is good, and it's a sign that good things will come relatively quickly.

The photo is of yesterday's X presentation, with two videos playing with different levels of overlapping transparency. I know I'll look back on this in a few years and consider it super-primitive.

The evening was spent doing more water-ballooning from the 16th floor. My aim has drastically improved. I was able to hit within a couple of meters from targets most of the time. Decent for distances in excess of 200m.

My family left this morning for a week-long vacation, giving me the freedom to get some true rest.

[] | posted @ 16:20 | link
Fri, 23 Jul 2004

Suspend-To-RAM Works!
An emerge sync showed there was a new version of the xorg-x11 packages in Gentoo. The changelog revealed that there is a patch to fix Radeon upon S3 resume. I built the X server, and it works! No modules even need to be unloaded except ehci_ucd. No problem.

The day started off shitty, with me being unable to attend Robert Love's speech, and then being informed that some machines at school got compromised yet again. But when this suspend/resume started working, it totally outbalanced that. I finally have a functional Linux laptop.

I'm about to leave work to go for several OLS talks. I will have to thank Len Brown. Maybe I can listen to a recording of Love's speech to make the day complete.

[] | posted @ 18:48 | link

OLS, Day 2
Due to work commitments, I only got to go to one event yesterday. The speech was by Jim Gettys and Keith Packard about the in-the-works x-server. He showed the great things that are available on his page as screenshots, but then amazed everyone with overlapping translucent videos playing in Xine as well as the technical things that drive them. I hope we can get his X server into the distros sooner rather than later.

In the evening, I spend another hour or two around Len Brown trying ACPI things. His latest patch made everything work in S3 except video resume. Still, it was a good step forward.

[] | posted @ 18:40 | link
Thu, 22 Jul 2004

Conferences, Conferences...
The second day of the Desktop Developers' Conference was definitely more lively than the first. In particular, CodeWeavers was very whiney, while TransGaming had a fantastic speaker; one of those people who can keep a presentation fast-paced and exciting. The Mozilla guys put on a good show as well. There was much bashing regarding the latest SVG spec, which for some unknown reason goes far beyond the bounds of vector drawings.

OLS started yesterday. It's amazing how much is packed into each and every day.

First, there was the speech about where 2.7 is going.

Next, I attended the presentation by Keith Packard about where is heading. It's really nice to see how quickly that's moving now that it's an open project.

There was a presentation by Tim Bird of Sony about how they've managed to reduce Linux bootup time to 1.2 seconds on their embedded devices. These are the people who get excited whenever they cut off 20ms of execution time. They succeeded very nicely. It was amazing to watch.

Finally, Len Brown, the maintainer of ACPI, did a fantastic summary of the ACPI spec, where it is at, and where it is going. Len was nice enough to spend an hour after his talk to show me the ropes of debugging ACPI. The situation has been getting worse and worse on my Dell, and hopefully we can clean it up a little. I intend to meet with him again, this time with a serial cable for debugging.

The evening entertainment was provided by Jim Munroe. I didn't hear much of it, but what I did hear was very interesting. Extremely unique.

The real evening entertainment was launching about thirty water ballons from a large surgical-tube slingshot from the sixteenth floor of the hotel everyone is staying at.

An interesting observation someone mentioned is that the presentations, as great as they are, are just an excuse to have the event so that everyone can get together. The presentations are needed to get corporate funding, but the real meat is in the conversations with others.

I was rather dismayed by an eMail I got telling me I have to come to work today.

[] | posted @ 21:10 | link
Tue, 20 Jul 2004

Desktop Developers' Conference, Day 1
20040719 Yesterday was the first day of the Desktop Developers' Conference. The keynote was by Havoc, where he talked about "silos" of free desktops, where each silo is a vertical stack built on the substrate that is the desktop platform. Next, Daniel Stone talked about and X-servers. Later, I attended a talk about MultiSync and Bidirectional text layouts.

After the conference, I bugged Edd Dumbill to show me his Bluetooth gadgets and software. It's pretty neat how everything can link like that. Edd then gave me a copy of his recent book, Linux Unwired. I now have something to read.

The evening was spent on the town. It's amazing how little time I spend in Ottawa after dark.

[] | posted @ 13:46 | link
Mon, 19 Jul 2004

Weekend in Summary
This weekend has a lot of things going on. Friday night was the first night of Lost Weekend, the only one I attended. Everyone got very drunk. There were, as there always are, some nice moments. I think the most important realization from the event is that unlike most people, who tend to lose their inhibitions when drunk, I do not. At least, not as easily. Perhaps this is why I go over the top with the drinking when socializing with close friends: I want to that point where inhibitions start going away. Later, I pay for it with physical sickness.

At the Linux in the Wild BBQ, I talked with Alan Cox about his work on optimising icon themes in Gnome. It doesn't look like it will make it into Gnome 2.8, but there is interest in having it later. It will definitely lower RAM usage, speed things up, etc.

My grandfather left today, after about five weeks here. On one hand, this will free up time. On the other, the time that will now be freed was precious.

Tomorrow I start my week of conference craziness. I'm all charged up and ready. I printed up some "Business Cards" with my vitals, including my PGP key. Output from LaTeX, they look pretty sharp. I intend to give some out this week.

[] | posted @ 03:52 | link
Fri, 16 Jul 2004

Year Four
Today I decided that enough is enough: I called the Registrar's office and demanded to talk to the head of the former Engineering Registrar Office. She was (as always) very kind and extremely quick to respond. I now have all my marks. By my books, that makes me a Year IV student.

Tomorrow night starts Lost Weekend, the EngFrosh summer party. It's always great. I can only stay for the first night, since this weekend is totally hectic. I am quadruple booked. Next week will be crazy too.

[] | posted @ 02:15 | link
Thu, 15 Jul 2004

Many Things
20040714 The accomplishment for the last few days is definitely getting the EngFrosh site up and running. I've gotten great feedback on it, and best of all, it's completely valid HTML 4.01 Transitional. The validation was what was causing me all the grief earlier, but it's really nice to have it. Also, it is my first serious web design done without the use of any commercial tools.

Work today was slow, I'm having huge troubles working around Debian's X packaging. The day was uninteresting until I got a call that my long-awaited Keytronic USB keyboard came in. It's black, but otherwise identical to the one I got in 1991 that died two years ago (except it has 104 keys). It has a totally awesome feel to it.

As soon as I got the keyboard, my hand started using the lacking-from-laptop keypad, and my biggest Linux annoyance resurfaced: Shift+NumPadKey causes digits to be entered. So, I decided to fix the keymap. I soon realized that Gnome has a setting for exactly this preference. Then I went the whole way and set my keyboard up so that I can easily enter any Polish characters, and other Latin-based ones are easy to get at too. Now UTF-8 is actually useful.

At home, we watched The Pianist once again. That is one amazing movie.

After the movie, I wanted to get software suspension going. Upon applying the kernel patches and testing, I fully expected something to go terribly wrong. But nothing did. In fact, to my complete surprise, I don't even have to reload the sound or network modules, only the USB (ehci). However, a big problem is that X crashes if I have the commercial ATI DRI module loaded. Besides that, the only hitch is that it doesn't actually shut itself down automatically after writing all the data: apparent ACPI S5 doesn't work on this unit. In time, these things will all be worked out... as it is, it is still much, much faster than rebooting.

The next project is to get GTK Celestia up to speed. It really needs work, especially after I discovered that there is a callback mechanism built right into the core. This should solve all the synchronization issues between the GUI and the Core. Hopefully I can hack on that tomorrow, as the next release is imminent.

A thought recently crossed my mind about how to embed my inverter into the car. I was thinking of hiding it somewhere and running the output cable down the middle of the car, and outputting it in the rear ashtray (built into the hand-brake island). That would be nice. Still very preliminary...

[] | posted @ 03:57 | link
Fri, 09 Jul 2004

Taking it Easy.
20040708 The weather this week has been very unpredictable: drastic changes of temperature, humidity, and pressure. As a result, I've had a mild headache all week, so I'm taking it easy.

This last weekend was very nice, the weather in Merrickville couldn't have been better. It was so sunny that shadows in the water had haloes from the light streaming into the water around ones head, something a digital camera captured quite nicely. This weekend also has two boat club events.

I spent all of last evening playing with UTF-8 once again. This time, it was my intention to get the filesystem to allow for UTF-8 filenames. To do this, I had to add kernel support for the full character set, as well as change my locale to something compatible: I chose en_CA.UTF-8. A good choice it was, all instances of color in the Gimp are now colour, and there are similar Canadianisms throughout my desktop.

Transferring these filenames to Windows proved surprisingly easy, they translate transparently through Samba. However, burning them to a CD is extremely tricky. It works great for what Linux uses (RockRidge), but Microsoft's implementation of Joliet doesn't like it. If I burn under Windows, it uses the CP1250 or ISO8859-2 character sets, which means I'd have to add kernel support in Linux to handle those. Seems silly that Microsoft cannot support UTF-8 properly. The mkisofs manpage has excellent information about all this.

I went to see a free movie today, it was Anchorman. Really funny. Really stupid. Good laughs.

[] | posted @ 03:38 | link
Wed, 07 Jul 2004

Middle of Summer
20040706 It's amazing, but half of the summer break has gone by. I still haven't gotten to the projects I set out to do, but it's alright since I'm wasting little time.

The weather today was beautiful. I put together a 180° panorama of Andrew Haydon Park right after a boat club meeting. Next time, I will have to lock the camera on a single auto setting and go from there to avoid colour fluctuations. I worked most of them out by varying the individual brightness and contrast of the layers that comprise the image.

Yesterday was a momentous occasion: I got invited by the leader of the ATI's Linux project to join a development mailing list they are starting up. The list is to discuss improvement of their closed-source binary display driver. They're not opening the driver up, but they're creating an open forum for bug reporting, testing, and development ideas. This is a definite step in the right direction. In the immediate timeframe, I hope to work with them to fix a nasty rendering issue that cropped up in Celestia since three driver releases ago. It really is nice to see more and more companies beginning to open up.

[] | posted @ 03:16 | link
Mon, 05 Jul 2004

Mechanically Sound
20040704 Yesterday was the yearly boat club meet in Merrickville. As always, the location was beatiful, the weather was amazing, and the food great. However, this year, it was my newly-redesigned boat that made me really happy. A general satisfaction, even.

Until now, the boat was overpowered, but technically flimsy: there was always a scratching or squeaking noise, often excessive vibration, to the point that I was scared to push the it to its full speed in case it tore itself apart. And really, it did. That is why I had to rip the prop shafts out in the first place. The photo is from last year, when I first got it up to full speed: it's 117cm, weighs in at 7kg, and draws almost 30A at 12V at top speed... it's a beast.

But now, while still ridiculously overpowered, it is mechanically sound: there are no vibrations, squeaks, or other signs of fatigue. The boat flies as before... but silently...

[] | posted @ 02:21 | link
Fri, 02 Jul 2004

Canada Day
20040701 Today was Canada Day, and I enjoyed some fabulous fireworks. My brother and I went down right to the shore of the Ottawa River by Sussex Drive. The fireworks display was brilliant from there. It seems that these pyrotechnics are evolving and getting more extravagant every year. We then walked all the way from Sussex back to the Lees abandoned Algonquin College campus, where the car was parked.

The only really useful thing I did today was to set and glue the propeller shafts back into the boat. Looks like this beast will be ready to play with on Saturday. My grandfather had a great idea to use plasticine to position the shafts for gluing. It turned out much better than tape and wooden blocks.

[] | posted @ 03:56 | link
Thu, 01 Jul 2004

New Backpack
20040630 It was payday today, so I decided to treat myself to a new backpack. I've been meaning to get one that has a laptop compartment for some time. But those have always been either too big or too expensive. I came across this Roots bag at Radio Shack and liked it immediately. This is a good thing, since my back was starting to ache on the weeks where I had lots of books pulling me to one side. This unit has comfortable padding, too. Best of all, it looks like every other Roots backpack, and won't draw attention to the fact that there is an expensive piece of hardware inside.

In a stroke of good luck, yesterday I managed to get in on one of the final ten openings for the Linux Symposium. I'm all paid up, can't wait for the event to begin.

Tonight, I welded some twelve-guage wire to the sides of the prop shafts I ripped out earlier. When they are glued in now, there should be more for the epoxy to hold than just the smooth brass surface of the shafts. I expect this will make for better durability.

[] | posted @ 03:31 | link

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