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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

August 31
Started the big room reconfiguration operation thing, mainly during ad breaks while watching Bowfinger. The movie starts slowly, but the idea is fantastic - and just might work in real life! Plus, I'm generally a sucker for Steve Martin movies.

The room thing has so far seen me swap around the beds. During the course of which I discovered that my futon (how very) is about three inches too long to put it where I wanted it. BAH.

August 30
Louise's birthday. Drink, Feck, etc. (Ask Google Sets for the rest of this series)

August 29
Figured out why membase was getting set. Solves one problem. Of course, that means I need a valid scenario where it's set to test the other problem, but let's brush that under the carpet for now.

Hi. If you're living in Maryland, run Windows, connect via abs.net, and have my email address in your address book, you've got the Klez.E virus and you've had it for the last few months. You're a dork. You shouldn't be allowed own a computer. You shouldn't even be allowed USE a computer. Any chance you could maybe run a FREE VIRUS SCANNER once in a while? And go update your email software from Microsoft's site while you're at it. That's free too. Don't continue being a dork to the extent that I have to go find out exactly who you are and push your machine off the net the next time it pops up.

August 28
Well, I found one crashing bug in my hacked wireless driver code: if the PCMCIA initialization comes up with a value for the memory base (for memory-mapped access, I guess) then the functions that try to talk to the card simply fail to work. So problem the first is why do they fail, and problem the second is why is membase getting set in the first place? The latter is something to do with the PCMCIA initialization song and dance routine, and I'm not really au fait with the code - I cribbed it from other drivers - so I'm just forcing membase to zero for now.

PCMCIA init is REALLY HAIRY, btw.

August 27
Woah! Magic wine! No hangover!

More Doolin, more geekery, departure, back to Dublin. I have acquired two new tshirts, a Mandrake 8.2 disk (thanks Eddie!), two new signatures on my PGP key (thanks, Wiktor & Kevin!), and varied muck on my car. Also, my GPS toy crashed twice, and my laptop crashed 4 times. I think the latter has to do with my 2Mbit wireless card interoperating with a 11Mbit network, though.

Spent a little time hacking through my attempt to port the old 2Mbit driver to the wlan-ng framework, but wasn't really giving it much effort to be honest. All else being equal, I wouldn't mind spending the week in Doolin, but Work Must Be Done, so.

Further investigation of the laptop crash reveals that flooding the network interface with traffic causes the kernel lockup. Hurrah! Identified! Now to figure out how to stop it from happening.

Hey, look! Mozilla 1.1 is out! download download

August 26
Drove to Doolin. Hung out with half of Doolin Technologies and the Linux Bierwanderung folk. Drank like a fish.

August 25
Egad. Nasty hangover thing. Managed to spend an hour in the office trying to move things around the network. I think I've figured out what I'm doing tomorrow, once there are people around to test the changes.


August 24
Up at some ungodly hour to drive my roomie (now ex-roomie) to the bus stop. Considered catching up on sleep when I got back to the house, but decided to move things around in the house instead. Now that I have an extra room I'm trying to decide which is to be the computer room and which is to be the bedroom.

Went to see Reign of Fire, which is pretty damned good. I loved the dragon sequences.

Met up with Gemma, who was over from Holland, and a few other DSPs for a fun evening in Messrs.

August 23
Woah. Whatever RedHat did with DRI in the new kernel, my newer laptop is now scorchingly fast at 3D.

August 22
Buncha new stuff from RedHat including a kernel update, so I took the opportunity to reboot Gonzo since I couldn't find out what was preventing me from unmounting the partition I want to try out Intermezzo on.

Also took the opportunity to move Gonzo to the 100Mbit switch, and lo, it worked this time. Alas, Intermezzo oopsed as soon as I tried to mount the filesystem, so that's back on the drawing board. Probably I should read the doco more carefully. Also, RPM got locked in some sort of cycle of doom trying to upgrade packages on Klortho, so more unhappiness there. Right now I've decided to wait out the cycle, if possible.

Futzed around with Intermezzo some more, but didn't get anywhere. The documentation doesn't appear to have kept up with the source, which is all well and good, except I don't quite have the time to go digging in the source right now. rpm -e intersync, except that spewed an error, too.

August 21
Ann-Marie's going-away night, so food & drink was had. Logan's Run was on TV when I got home, but I was too tired to stay up and watch it.

August 20
Whee! New passport arrived. I look a bit like Ozzy in the photo, less the eyeliner.

August 19
Today's fun task: moving a user from one NT domain to another without losing the user's local profile. That proved to be more fun than I expected.

Got a patch for BBDB from someone at RedHat. I wonder if this means that someone's building an RPM?

August 18
Barrichello won the F1 in Hungary for Ferrari, giving them the Constructor's Championship for the fourth year running. Schumacher senior came second, junior third. And Fisichella finished sixth, hurrah! Also, Jordan announced that they're running with Ford engines for the next three years.

I find it interesting, while I'm on the topic, that since the Formula One association purchased formula1.com - or rather sued the original owners into a position where selling was the easy way for them to get out - the site has been a lot slower with the post-race updates. Feh.

Spent some time looking at directory sync tools, as I now have two laptops to contend with and it's irritating finding that the file I want is on the Other Machine. The contenders appear to be a thing called unison, which is apparently written in caml, and the Intermezzo filesystem, which RedHat put in their shipping kernels but mysteriously fail to provide the tools for. So then I saw that Mission Impossible was on, so I watched that in lieu of doing anything about the syncing problem. Which is why you won't yet find the updated mapping code (mentioned yesterday) on my server.


August 17
Did some more with the MapServer stuff, trying to figure out just what exactly MapQuest use for scaling. I've gotten an approximation that's right about 80% of the time, and I can't really fix the 20% that's broken without getting into serious image manipulation, which isn't quite worth the effort. I did figure out how to get the silly red star off my maps, though.

August 16
Hic.

Got a present in the post from Ferret: a signed copy of William Gibson's Idoru. Whee!

August 15
More Klez Kleaning, among other things. Plus, drinks & dinner with the boss & coworker in the evening.

August 14
Office: tried out stuff I'd learned. Learned more stuff, although thankfully not the hard way. Found lots of Klez.E, whoopee.

Home: (a) discovered that my crossover serial cable for the pilot-to-GPS notion does actually work, yay! (b) discovered that my C-code NMEA parser has a bug in the display stuff, which is sort of OK because that's only for debugging anyway... (c) hacked the MapServer MapQuest code back into some semblance of working order. It appears that in addition to changing around all their URLs, MapQuest also updated their maps - they seem a bit more detailed for my neck of the woods now. Woohoo!

August 13
I'm still having an ongoing problem with the USB ISDN toy; every so often, I get an error like this:

usb-uhci.c: interrupt, status 3, frame# 262
already running port 1 disabled by hub (EMI?), re-enabling...


This causes the USB endpoint to move from /dev/ttyACM0 to /dev/ttyACM1, where the pppd can no longer find it. Which sucks, obviously. I have to remove the acm module to get things back in order. I've had no luck finding any information on what's causing this (EMI? Electro-magnetic Interference? Are you seriously telling me that my USB hub is being disabled because of the bogon flux around my computer?) so I don't know how to go about fixing it.

Well, that was unexpected. The recalcitrant Windows box of yesterday will not reboot from Linux, either.

Fetched and installed the current version of Grip to see if it's better behaved now that it's been (as far as I know) rebuilt from scratch, more or less. It now does ID3v2 tagging (hurrah!) and also has a mode where it'll analyse the ripped tracks for correct gain value, which is something that had been bouncing around at the back of my head for a while... why isn't there a standard volume level for CDs to be pressed at?

Huh. I notice the fonts still don't fit the display properly.

Here's my discovery for the evening: Change the workgroup your Windows 95 machine is in by editing HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\VxD\VNETSETUP\WorkGroup. Probably this is contraindicated and more to the point still requires you to reload the network stack (i.e. reboot) before anything notices, but this is pertinent to office work, so. Oh, and you can look up the info by doing NET CONFIG and playing with FIND.

The aforementioned network firewalling was not in evidence today, for some reason. And I spent much of today figuring out how Netware is spoken to. Egad. Still. I can make use of my discoveries tomorrow and (hopefully) get about two days of work done in an hour or so. Much input has been gathered for the Things That Would Be Cool To Hack list, also.

August 12
Spent pretty much the entire day in someone else's computer room looking at network traces and figuring out how to reconfigure things without upsetting everyone. It's tricky.

Coincidentally, the network in question is firewalled in a similar fashion to Vodafone's GPRS service.

Spent an irritated evening rebooting a Windows machine repeatedly in an attempt to get it to log onto my little domain. I can't even get it to display a Windows login prompt, dammit. Oh, and the stupid machine won't shut down, either. It just sits there with the "Windows is shutting down." screen and does... nothing. Reinstall time, I guess. Argh. What a piece of crap.

August 11
After much manual reading, I got Linux and GPRS talking to each other. Of course, I then discovered that Vodafone appear to have firewalled off useful ports like ssh. Web and POP access work, though. I guess I could do something dastardly with the TCP/IP over HTTP gadget I was messing about with last year, or set up ssh on a non-standard port outside the "protected" range. As soon as I figure out what constitutes the protected range, of course.

Almost forgot to do a Micromail update this weekend, d'oh!

Parents stopped by, dropped off more hardware goodies. Whee!


August 10
Whee! Spent several hours in the morning/afternoon paddling a canoe around Blessington Lake, followed by a barbeque.

August 9
Hacked some more on the Spamassassin sendmail filter today.

Discovery of the day: by enabling my crappy winmodem, I disable my serial ports. Well. Isn't that special.

Discovery #2: Vodafone have, in fact, finally put their GPRS software up on their site. Windows only, even the PalmOS stuff. And the PalmOS stuff requires a minimum of PalmOS 3.3. I am not pleased by this, even if the software does actually work.

August 8
Ah, the noble and black art of timelining. How I hate thee. To say nothing of timelining with incomplete information.

August 7
Brain temporarily disengaged. At least, it must be, because I watched A View To A Kill from start to finish. And about ten minutes of Twister.

August 6
Sent in my passport application today, alas too late for a trip to Sweden next week. That'll teach me to be complacent, or something. One of the things - ok, the thing that had held me up was getting my photo taken, because photo booths don't seem to be as common as I remember, and the only one I'd tried had swallowed half my money, refused to take the rest, and refused to refund what it had swallowed. And of course there's noone around to complain to when this sort of nonsense happens, because they're generally leased. Anyway, I got my photos, got 'em signed by a local Garda who also witnessed my signature on the passport application, and went to the post office to submit my application for "Passport Express". In the post office, there was a photo booth. D'oh. Oh, and "Passport Express" means that you get your passport "within ten working days" as opposed to the "at least two weeks" service provided over the counter at the Passport Office. Errr. Okay.

Had another bash at my scanner, failed to make it fly in Linux, failed to locate the trace file I'd made of its USB conversations, so I'm currently waiting for the new one to save. Since it's saving via the wireless link, it's not, like, rushing... ah, it's done. 17MB of log file. Gack.

August 5
Woah. Summer appears to have returned, at least for the day, anyway. Screw this hacking lark, I'm gonna catch me some rays...

...with my wirelessly linked laptop, gnee gnee.

August 4
Poking at the PDC some more, and it seems like the new 10/100 card has intermittent problems. Which eventually turned into permanent problems. For some reason, arp requests for the card's IP address were coming back with Broadcast rather than a useful ethernet address. Dammit. I've switched it back to the 3com for now.

Went to see Men in Black II (or MIIB, maybe). Enjoyable, but mostly I guess because it's pretty much reprising the first movie almost exactly, and I really liked the first one. So I came home afterwards and watched the first one again. Whee!


August 3
Assembled the PDC into something vaguely resembling an actual computer (i.e. not so much of the bits-hanging-out look) and tried a new 10/100 network card in it. Works great with the switch. I'm beginning to suspect that Gonzo's network card is the source of my troubles here.

Then, to town for partying. Woohoo!

August 2
Decided to do the "proper" thing with the switch: I bought a US-to-UK (hello! IRELAND!) voltage convertor. So far I've just patched it to the 10Mbit hub and it seems to work okay with one of the laptops. I guess I'll gradually move stuff over to it and see what works.

After much sweating and swearing, I managed to get a hulking wreck of a machine from the office set up as a PDC. Woohoo, vaguely. This is for some experimental work which will end up in someone's office.

August 1
Found a useful program for a project at work, and am trying to establish if it's a going concern or not. If not, I may take it over. Woohoo!

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Waider
I'm sure we'll have an Indian summer. We certainly haven't had a European one.