14 November 2007

Tower of Hanoi

Moving stuff around or even preparing to move stuff around is all hard work - especially when space is limited. Preparing stuff for my new home office and getting things ready... Soon the rest of the furniture and stuff will be ordered. I hope that it would all be done by Christmas.
My arms are aching though.

05 November 2007

Leopard Spaces...

I wish that Spaces can use multiple displays ... Having all the 'thumbnails' only on the primary display makes them small and unintelligible.

02 November 2007

Book browsing

I went to Borders this evening after work and while I was there, I browsed some books ... My interest today was looking at different scripting languages (yeah computer books, how predicable of me). Had a look at the books on Python and Ruby - It's amazing that none of them are thread safe which makes it impractical for some of the stuff I want to do.
So I purchased a Terry Pratchett book. I much prefer the artwork on his UK books than the artwork over here.

30 October 2007

Time Machine

Looks like Apple's "Time Machine" feature can be made to work with a non-Apple fileserver. From the helpful hint at the following URL, I now have it working to my fileserver, a FreeBSD machine with netatalk... http://blog.danielparnell.com/?p=43
Now... I just need some more storage space...

29 October 2007

Leopard is a bit spotty

It appears that the formerly excellent X11 support in Tiger has regressed and the X11 support in Leopard, despite being based upon the more modern Xorg codebase, shows significant regression in functionality.
  1. Unable to move windows on to secondary displays

  2. Unable to be configured to use TCP connections, except by manual startup (Do we really need multiple Xquartz processes?)

  3. DPI is fubar - I prefer to set 75DPI even though I have large displays - I have large displays because I want more stuff on the screen!

  4. Display feels slower.

Some of the other new features are nice - the new SSH AskPasswd program is a nice new touch but I think I shall just have to bite the bullet and 'upgrade' to the Tiger X11 release. I shall be following the instructions detailed at http://aaroniba.net/articles/x11-leopard.html

28 October 2007

Leopard's CUPS defaults

Mac OS 10.5 was not discovering my CUPS printers like how 10.4 was. It turns out that Apple has decided to only discover printers by Bonjour only and has turned off CUPS own detection. This seems like a poor decision.
I found the answer at http://mcdevzone.com/2007/10/28/printer-fix-for-leopard

27 October 2007

Leopard Review

Here is my not-very-objective review of MacOS 10.5 aka Leopard.
Installation was pretty painless - I uninstalled things like APE beforehand and after reading the various blogs where people had hanging installs, I am sure glad that I did take the precaution. It feels faster on my Quad-G5 PowerMac - things seem to respond faster. Visually - I'm going to have to change the default background - some of the annoying artifacts on the menu bar are from the background image. The work done to Mail - is excellent. Much improved responsiveness. The iChat improvements are very welcome - it can now be signed-in on multiple accounts.
I have not managed to get Time Machine working from using a FreeBSD fileserver, even when I have netatalk installed and operational - There has been some skectchy reports of workarounds but its not working here. I really don't want to have an external drive for each Mac for backup - I would prefer to be able to back them up centrally over the network.
With respect to software development - time will tell. There is already some indication that the assembler/linker may have some problems with some inline PowerPC assembler which prevents the build of the glib macport from completing successfully.

26 October 2007

Mac OS X Leopard has arrived

Actually, the small box arrived about an hour ago. Clearing some old work source repositories from my hard drive and other general 'housekeeping' duties. I haven't eagerly anticipated a new OS release for a long time: I would probably compare this to the time when OS/2 2.1 was released with its full 32bit Presentation Manager or perhaps even OS/2 Warp 3 with its UI enhancements... As to what features I am looking forward to exploiting, I would say in no particular order: Spaces, XCode, DTrace, Shark. There is a bunch of other 'nice to have' features... I guess I will see how well I like it after I install it.

24 October 2007

We can smell the smoke from here.

All throughout today and yesterday, there has been ash falling from the sky from all the fires around near Los Angeles. We have had all the windows closed to keep the dust and ash out - going outside for a short while irritates my eyes something awful and that is even though I take a powerful anti-allergy medicine daily.

17 September 2007

Today we lean that Microsoft has lost it's appeal regarding their monopolistic practices in Europe. I foretell that Microsoft will continue with business as usual and otherwise completely disregard the ruling and the penalties. So, they may pay the fiscal part of the penalties but the rest of it will have to wait for Satan to get a new job as a snow-plough driver in hell.
What can be done about it? Quite simple. It is within the EU's power to void Microsoft's copyrights, patents, trademarks and all other intellectual property in Europe.
Radical, yes. But it would also serve as a warning for all other companies that they are not above the law. Europe is a big market for Microsoft ... bigger than their American market.
I doubt that would ever happen but it doesn't hurt to dream.

14 September 2007

Time to morn the passing of an old friend. My old Pentium 200MMX (SMP 2 Processor) machine would not start up today. The PSU is fine - the DPT SCSI controller can be heard to spin up the hard drives but to no avail - the CPUs failed to start up. No POST beep codes, nothing. No activity.


It was a trusty workhorse, from 1997 to 2007.

Only one question plagues me.... What machine should I butcher in order to have a working OS/2 machine or do I wait until eComStation goes GA and buy a modern machine?

06 September 2007

I am not happy. As to why I am not happy, lets consider a hypothetical situation: Imagine you have purchased a new computer and while it was in warranty, it kept crashing and working slow. The manufacturer of the computer thinks that the CPU may be a little faulty so they want you, the end user, to take out the CPU and ship it to Intel for diagnostics. And while you are at it, maybe you should send the video card to Nvidia, just in case.
Would you accept that kind of situation? I doubt it. You purchased the computer whole and complete from one vendor, you do not expect to go to the suppliers of the computer's vendor in order to have it fixed. You'd think it to be unacceptable... What if there was a faulty diode on the motherboard... Would your PC vendor expect you to go to IR for a replacement diode?

Anyways.... Our car has been having problems. It isn't even two years old yet but it has already spent about two months sitting at a Saturn dealership. It has had 3 steering columns replaced. 2 drive wheel bearings. a transmission control modules and an engine management module ... and thats only the expensive parts. Now, we have had the driver's side front drive tyre blow out two times in as many months: Both times, the tyre failed in an identical fashion. Now we (the end user) must send the tyre to the manufacturer to be examined for defects... The first tyre came with the vehicle, the second was purchased from a Saturn dealer.. ie. Both failed tyres came to us via Saturn. WHY DO WE HAVE TO TAKE THE TYRE TO THE MANUFACTURER? Absolutely non-existent customer service: They should be bending over backwards for us, especially when you consider the entire catalogue of faults that this vehicle has had to date.

I am not a happy Saturn customer.
I cannot in good consciousness recommend anyone else to buy a Saturn vehicle.

I wish I had purchased a Volkswagen.

05 September 2007

Something seems a bit fishy in Redmond Land.... As many people who know me know, I don't use Windows that often but I do mostly for my work and I'm typically using Visual Studio C++. Only yesterday, I fired up Windows XP and after a couple of hours of use, up popped up the dialog for installing updates. I simply closed what I was doing and let the updates occur.
Windows XP rebooted and I began to use it but when I copied files over the network, I had a nagging feeling that the performance wasn't quite up to par.
Today, I have tried transferring larger files and I notice that it appears to stall frequently while performing the file transfer. So I started "ping -t" ... and wouldn't you know, this machine which used to have no problems is now dropping about 1 in 10 packets over my fully switched network. Just in case it was a faulty port on the switch, I changed the port and ethernet cable. No change.
Is this some sinister plot to make Vista "better" by crippling older XP installations?
In any case, it is stupid - and dropping that many packets causes a lot of problems. I cannot believe that everyone are experiencing this or else there would be a worldwide outcry - a revolt. Perhaps its just a coincidence that the network card is now faulty but it's a bit awkward to resolve as the NIC is the on-board integrated port on a laptop. I guess I will have to try with a PC Card device and see if that rectifies it.

29 August 2007

I was wondering around a superstore the other evening when the black Windows Vista box caught my eye... It says there, right under where "Windows Vista Ultimate" is written, "The most complete Windows ever" or something like that.
What I would like to know is.... Why would anyone want an incomplete operating system? I don't care if it is the "most complete". I want an operating system which is "complete".
Still, I have to admit that the most expensive software purchases I have personally paid for in the past couple of years has been 2 retail boxes of Windows XP Professional. Of all the people I know personally who have tried Windows Vista (usually bundled with their computers), almost all of them have either purchased Windows XP or have somehow acquired a DVD. One person even considers installing XP Home an upgrade over the bundled Vista Home Premium. For all of Windows XP's flaws, it never drove people to install Windows ME. I have to confess that I haven't actually used Vista long enough to be as frustrated with it as those people but to be perfectly frank, Windows XP Pro does everything I need out of an OS when I need to use it.
There are a few new pieces of software which I will purchase in the near future when they are released: Mac OS 10.5 which I will probably buy the family pack and the expensive one: eComStation 2.0 - partly for nostalgia's sake but I also have a unopened, still in shrink wrap, Hopkins FBI for OS/2 which I have been thinking about trying for the past couple of years.

20 August 2007

It looks like Kingston Technology is serious about their Lifetime Warranty on their products. A little under a week has passed since I had sent them the memory which had gone faulty - and it didn't cost me a penny. They paid for the FedEx shipping both ways. The replacement module looks a little different than the returned and the new modules I had purchased immediately after the failure: They all had identical track layout unlike the replacements. It all seems to work though. The machine has correctly identified the modules and so now it has 4.5G RAM.
On a little side note - I tried to post this message earlier today but the Google Blogger site appeared to be down for maintenance.

07 August 2007

Yay, the new memory arrived. I am glad that I didn't splash out and only paid for the standard delivery - it arrived next day. The machine was getting a little slow without the memory even with a lighter workload than normal - the swap had grown to 1.5Gb after a day's use. I still need to get a RMA for the old memory so I can send it back for replacement...

05 August 2007

Oh Joy.... The past few days, my Mac started crashing randomly, usually just applications or a MySQL test run would show that the server SIGSEGV. Quite annoying. Today, it locked up complely. Not even the mouse cursor could move and it didn't even show the MacOS kernel panic message. So enough was enough. I found the MacOS install CD and started the Apple Hardware Test. Kicked off the extended test and wandered away to do other stuff. When I came back, I was greeted with a message that the memory was faulty:


It's well beyond the Fry's 30day replacement but definitely less than a year... so I will have to call Kingston on Monday for a RMA number for it. Meanwhile, I'll order some replacement memory so that the machine won't be crippled for too long... besides which, when the replacement memory comes back, I will have a bit more memory to do stuff with.

05 July 2007

Yay! The new motherboard, CPU, RAM and PSU are npw installed into my home fileserver. Booting up and running straight after the major upgrade without a hitch, very nice how seamless FreeBSD makes the transition but there again, I expected that to be problem free. Sitting on my desk is the old motherboard, an Intel OR840 with a Pentium 3 800MHz processor: A real oddity by todays standards as the CPU is a Slot-A module and the RAM is RamBus 800 modules. There is a spare slot for a second CPU which is only populated by the termination card... as are half the RAM slots. Tempting to try to find a second CPU and perhaps I will splurge and buy eComStation to run on this odd motherboard. At least now, I will be able to update FreeBSD on the fileserver without worrying about carefully reapplying patches to allow FreeBSD to work without problems on the OR840.

03 July 2007

Just when I was somewhat enthusiastic about swapping over my fileserver motherboard, I discover that my power supply is too ancient to support the new motherboard. Ho hum. So I have ordered a new PSU and it should arrive on the 5th. I was hoping to be able to do the swap during a day-off so theres minimal interruption.

28 June 2007

Server upgrade imminent. I have purchased a new motherboard, CPU and RAM to replace the aging Pentium 3 + OR840 combo with 128MB RamBus RAM I am currently using in the server. The new motherboard is a SuperMicro PDSGE and will have a Pentium 4 650 and 1Gb of RAM. I am probably not going to use the new motherboard's on-board gigabit ethernet adaptor because of concerns about Intel's AMT technologies.... Heck, I may just place the AMD PC/Net PCI adaptor for the outward facing interface (Yes, that is the same adaptor I 'cloned' when I wrote my AMD PC/Net PCI emulation for QEmu which is incidentially also used by Xen when performing machine emulation). I may just use the on-board gigabit NIC for a direct crossover link to the Mac for fast jumbo frames. Meanwhile, I just have to make sure that I have everything - Likely to need a new PSU to power the motherboard. Will probably need a few new case fan, good practice to replace them anyways for a machine which practically stays on 24 hours a day.

13 June 2007

Every now and again, I have to have a large sigh...

*** sighs ***

With the recent release from Perdue detailing a computer simulation of the 9/11 WTC attack, the fierce debates that it spawns as to the "It's an inside job" vs. "No it's not," camps and their arguments miss the point of the simulation.
I have looked at the short video clip and I would say that it seems plausible: I could imagine a aeroplane causing that kind of damage. It is also clear to me that the damage rendered to the core columns is inadequate to cause a complete structural failure of the whole building, especially considering that the aeroplanes hit quite high up on the building. There was relatively little load being supported by the core columns at that level.
Of course, the "Terrorists hate us" camp would trot out the argument that steel only needs to be heated up to half it's melting temperature in order to begin to warp and fail. Given that the buildings were hit some 400m above ground level, assuming that there was enough fuel burning to heat the core columns via radiation, and assuming that 100% of the radiation was absorbed with no radiative losses... for that heat to propagate down the core columns such that all the columns were heated sufficiently that a cascade "pancake" collapse would occur, hmm... after some scribblings on a back of a napkin.... assuming a rather light core column at an average cross section of .34 sq m per column... it would take as much energy as released in 18 million pounds of TNT to raise all the core columns to 800 degrees Celsius... Or expressed as a speed of a 747 aeroplane if translated into kinetic energy - about the same as if it was traveling at around 10,000 miles per hour.

Pretty fast, innit?

Oh well... People never let facts bother their perception of the world. Unfortunately, they let any idiot vote nowadays.

31 May 2007

This is amusing... Ok, perhaps ironic, also prophetic... But quite definitely amusing.
Apologies to all those people who have seen it in March but here is the link:
George Orwell's former house surrounded by 32 CCTV cameras, all within 200 yards.

22 May 2007

Delayed posting, originally for Monday 16 April, 2007

So much has happened during th past week but due to the happenings, I have not been able to post any news.
Easter Sunday at around 3:30am, my mother in law suffered a severe heart attack. She passed away early on Tuesday at about 4:30am. These events were completly unexpected due to the full exam she had a month ago and of her mere hours before the heart attack. We held her funeral and burial on Friday. There was quite a good turnout.

18 April 2007

Now that Google has migrated Blogger to some new-fangled system, I can no longer write blog entries in my comfortable way - on my Palm organizer using Plogit whilst offline.

29 March 2007

Morons from Saturn... Sounds like a B film title but it is the reality of the total idiots at a certain car dealership in Cerritos. I would wager that the employees of their service department are completely unable to tell their ass from their elbows without the aid of a working diagnostic computer... Except that they are unable o READ or THINK in order to plug the wires in. As people would say in England... What a load of Plonkers.
Just realized that I haven't posted anything to the blog in a while and I had an old unposted entry in my Palm. This morning, I am having to bring the car to its service.
Funny how the optimism of what airlines tell their customers know no bounds. Here I am writing this entry and its already 6 minutes past the ticketed boarding time and there is still no aeroplane at the gate, yet they have only just changed status from 'on time' to 'delayed 20 minutes'. This is dispite the fact that the aeroplane is still in the air with passengers on its way here.
Kind of like trains in the UK.

08 March 2007

Stuck in rainy Seattle. Yes, it did rain for a while earlier. I listened to it hitting the roof and windows. I still hear a few spots now.
I am returning back to Los Angeles today. It was nice to work and chat with Bran but I do miss Katie... and the messed up cat Sweety.
Here is a random thought which just struck me: Freedom is having a wide range of choices available and not having to make a decision.

23 February 2007

It is somewhat facinating that Americans will debate the British origins of many English phrases without ever consulting an Englishman.
A case in point: The debate on the origin of the phase "Rule of Thumb" which people parrot as being a part of British Common Law permitting husbands to beat their wives, which is then used as an explanation as to why it is not written down. A few problems: English Common Law is written down as it utilises past precedent and that the earlist reference to "Rule of Thumb" as an defense for beating a wife in a case near the beginning of the 20th century. The best explanation is this: The phrase has its origins in the textile industry as a way to measure fabrics. Half the circumference of the thumb does approximate an inch. It was well established as a phrase when the English went to the New World. In the Americas, some pious preacher then invented the concept that it was ok to discpline an errant wife whereupon it entered into American folklore. That concept was then exported back to Britian at the turn of the 20th century through literature and by US servicemen who served in Europe.
Another thing which does irk me some is the ancient nursery rhyme which Americans know as "Ring around a Rosie". Here is the version I learnt as a child:
Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo (like sneezing)
We all fall down

It is popular to attribute this rhyme as related to the Black Plague... However another interpretation which is not concidered much is the ancient pre-Christian practice of dancing around the maypole, which is an ancient fertility ritual.
Isn't history so much fun?

05 February 2007

I was browsing cnet's news and I noticed that they posted some photos of the Collosus rebuild project. In the blurb, they failed to mention that the British had built several more of them for redundancy and increase throughput... and of course each later one carried improvements from the previous. If you're ever near Milton Keynes, it is worth spending a day at Bletchley Park. There is a computer museum there which has many working old computers, including an IBM PC model 5150, similar to the first PC that I owned. The Sinclair ZX-81 doesn't count as that belonged to my dad.

30 January 2007

What a wonderful quote from Siân Berry of the Green Party (UK) on 29th Jan 2007:
"There will be thousands of tonnes of dumped monitors, video cards and whole computers ... Future archaeologists will be able to identify a 'Vista upgrade layer' when they go through our landfill sites."
Such insight! That is assuming that Vista is a consumer hit with existing computer owners...

27 January 2007

So many projects I am iching to do, so little free time. I still believe my idea or a MySQL storage engine is viable. My ideas for an alternative computing platform. The OS/2 clone system. So little time.

23 January 2007

Yet another root canal... Hopefully the last. This didn't go too badly but that is hindsight: I hate injections and the sounds and smell of metal cutting in to teeth completely fails to fill me with joy. I have a couple more check-ups in the future: With luck, they should now be uneventful.

19 January 2007

The Apple Tech Talk was interesting... chatted with a few interesting people. I think that I should talk to Calvin to take advantage of some opportunities Leopard can give MySQL... Couldn't stay for the "Cheese and Wine" reception as the last Metro home departs Union Station at 6:30pm.
It is 8am. Funny thing... I have been living here for over 15 months and today will be the first time I venture into LA alone and I am travelling by train.

15 January 2007

UPS delivery drivers here are complete and utter MORONS! Actually, thats insuling to the common moron. Look at the box: Three large symbols, first one means "this way up", the second one means "fragile", the third means "keep dry". Yet this delivery man throws the box from his cab onto the front door step - a clear 15ft that the box, which contains a replacement hard drive from Seagate, is airborne! That does not fit my definition of careful handling. And UPS has no easy way to lodge a complaint about mishandled packages on their web site - as if they hope that no one will complain. Wankers, the whole lot of them!

07 January 2007

This device looks like a nifty toy. Pity I don't have much time for toys.
Seems as if there is a bug going around ... Not the computer kind... It seems as if I have caught it and I am not feeling so great.

03 January 2007

The car did have a defective bearing. It has been replaced for no charge. Thank goodness for warranties! And while on the topic of warranties: The faulty hard drive was sent to Seagate today. Sad to note that if I buy a Maxtor drive now, it will be the third time I have purchased a Seagate drive. The first was an ST-225 and the second was something like a ST-364A...

02 January 2007

Chaos reigns supreme! For the second time in as many months our car, a 2006 Saturn Ion Coupe, is in for repair except that this time, not only is the power steering dodgy but it appears that the front left drive wheel bearing is failing! Less than 20,000 miles and only 16 months old.
Renting a car at Enterprise Rent a Car...