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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

November 30
Drinkz with da boyz.

November 29
Drove about 400 miles in the name of work. Cisco VPN stuff on Linux is horrid.

November 28
I finally added Xine to my "configured it in 1994 and haven't changed it much since" FVWM desktop. That about fills the button bar from top to bottom, so if I want to add anything else I'm going to have to come up with some new ideas. Of course, I could shrink the power monitor down, and ditch xpdf and the logfile icon...

Wow, something working for me for a change. Not only did I get the Cisco VPN client working on crappy Windows machinery, I also got it working on Gonzo without disturbing the rest of the networking. The freaky part is that although it creates a pseudo-device called cipsec0, that device never appears to be active nor is there any routing visible. Yet I was able to surf the tunnel (woah, gnarly) from any of my NAT'd boxes sitting behind Gonzo. Tis MADNESS, I tell you.

Now to construct a firewall/proxy/dialup/VPN box to install in the office tomorrow...

November 27
Added a bunch of link tags to a page to test 'em out. I don't like that Mozilla treats any unrecognized tags as something to be crammed into a submenu; perhaps there's a way for me to cause them to be ignored. It'd be nice to be able to frob the little icon, too.

Grabbed, built, and installed Mozilla 1.2. New features that I like: image preloading and the ability to load a bunch of pages instead of just one page as your startup. Neat-o!

Modified the diary template (and code) to include site navigation hints, as I've added to this page. Of course, I'm going to have to back-propagate to all the other entries, too.

November 26
I'm thinking of maybe moving all the computer stuff into the smaller room, mainly because it gets so much colder at night than the bigger room. Hmm.

Also, copying a Red Hat 8.0 distrubtion across a 2Mbit wireless link takes a lot of time.

Tweaked my ifup script to update the nearest DNS, if that seems sensible.

November 25
Since I didn't get finished with the Windows stuff at the weekend, I spent the day working at home trying to complete the task. Gave up around 11, although I've a few more pointers as to what might be wrong. Bah.

November 24
Hurk. A little hungover, and now I have to do work. The great Windows eviction starts here, or something.

distcc is the absolute bomb. I can compile stuff configured for my slow machine on my fast machine without library conflicts. Excellent!

November 23
Spent most of the day arguing with various things. It seems that something has changed in Red Hat 8's distro build process that is preventing me from doing it correctly, but at least I didn't burn a few coasters to find this out.

My brother's machine plays DVDs better under Linux than it does under Windows. If this isn't proof of the benefit of open source, and more to the point, proof that throttling things like DeCSS is just plain stupid, then I don't know what is, really.

November 22
Oh the irony. You can get a free, if legally dubious due to DeCSS code, DVD player for Linux without any problems whatsoever. FreshRPMS.net will even provide a version packaged with DeCSS code and menu navigation. For Windows, you're pretty much stuck with payware.

November 21
Fixed up my mailcrypt installation, which has been broken for ages. I'm not even sure why it originally worked, to be honest.

Also killed a working motherboard. Oops. Fortunately, it's not like it was a highly valuable motherboard, but it did stop me from doing some tests with the Samba stuff. Basically, it booted up and complained that the CMOS battery was low. I reconfigured the CMOS, rebooted, and it continued to complain, and wouldn't let me boot the machine. So I inspected the board, located a likely-looking plastic cap, and removed it. Presto, a small disc battery. Soldered to the CMOS chip. And I thought I was a cowboy... anyway. I decided to pull the chip out (I do have a chip extractor, before you ask) and see if the battery was in any way replaceable. Tug. Tug tug. Yank. CMOS chip comes out, battery goes flying. Along with two legs from the chip, snapped right at the casing. CRAP.

November 20
Ok. Here's an approximate summary of the Samba situation: Samba TNG is probably closer to being a real PDC or BDC, but all the useful documentation seems to be out of date and any attempt to get an answer on such issues as the LSA secrets database results in a post from Luke Leighton about how Tridge's coding choices suck; Samba 3, on the other hand, is pretty solid code (albeit flagged alpha) that doesn't do quite so much at the RPC end (meaning that the NT-based manipulation tools won't generally work) but on the whole I've been able to get further with it. At least in terms of hoovering off accounts, anyway. Next thing is to see if I can make the resulting domain information useful.

November 19
Hmm. I appear to have solved my BDC problem. Essentially, you need the add user etc. scripts to be valid and working and suchlike.

Needed to reboot Gonzo to pick up a fresh kernel, so I decided I'd take the opportunity to install the extra memory I'd inadvertently bought, remove the DVD ROM drive (I'm going to put it in my brother's machine and see if I can make it work), and install the 60GB drive I bought a while back. Alas, the 60GB drive and my BIOS do not have, as the phrase goes, an understanding. I suspect this is associated with the 80-conductor cable which I didn't know about until Sunday, and such mystery phrases as ATA-100 and the like. This is what I get for not keeping my hardware up to the state of the art, or something (also, I note my bank balance is healthier than that of some of my more rabid hardware-acquiring acquaintances). And, of course, Linux on Patrick's goes "shrug, new drive" while Windows has a screaming hissy fit and locks right up. Brilliant.

Accidentally rebooted the WLAN box in the middle of all this fussing, too. I should really move the WLAN card into Gonzo and go back to experimental hardware tricks with the WLAN box (since that's what I built it for anyway).

November 18
Continuing to argue with Samba variants over BDC, mainly. A little UPS wrasslin' as well.

November 17
More work on the brother's machine; turns out that graphics acceleration was turned off, which explains why various Direct X things weren't working. Also discovered that there's an 80-pin cable for hard drives. I have no idea how old this standard is!

Found a neat GTK::Perl tutorial which gives far more information that the rather meagre man pages that come with the module. Still doesn't tell me how to get my toys to read X resources, though.

November 16
Did some work on my brother's PC, which turned out to be riddled with Klez.E and a few ElKern variants. Put Linux on it, too, during one of the reboots.

November 15
Spent the day arguing with UPSes. Powercare's software seems to imply that I can have one machine hooked directly to the UPS serial port and have a bunch of others communicating with the controller program over the net, but damned if I can get it to work.

November 14
I've spent most of this week arguing alternately with Samba 3 and Samba TNG. Both are designated alpha-quality, and both appear to be maddeningly close to supporting Linux-as-BDC. If I can make this work, I will be well pleased. Alas, documentation on both is out of date, and both are failing in non-obvious ways. I'm reluctant to go hack the source just yet, but it seems I may have to.

November 13
Well, it can't have been the real Bob, because my hangover's pretty mild.

November 12
The usual "Bob turns up, Waider goes drinking" event.

November 11
I am appalled. I have a Barney toy in my house. This wasn't listed under "Duties of Godfather" when I accepted the post.

November 10
Ran into the dead serial port problem again. It appears to be related to use or not of the IrDA port. Hmm.

November 9
Drove down the country to visit the folks and my new niece. I had planned on installing Red Hat 8 on my brother's machine, but time and the like conspired so that didn't happen. Oh well.

November 8
The DSPsrv web server broke again yesterday. No idea what happened it, just that it was down when I went to check something or other. This time, the only way I could get it to come back up was to disable PHP's IMAP support, which breaks our JawMail setup. Bah.

November 7
More recabling, also trying to figure out which of Samba 3 or Samba-TNG I should attempt to grok for future use (work-related). Both are alpha and both have exclusive features that I'd like, so I suspect some experimentation is on the cards.

Also, the more I learn about Lotus Notes the more I'm convinced that no sane person would advocate it, much less use it.

November 6
Useful info, since it took me an age to find it: Nortel BayStack 450 switches with older firmware have a default backdoor password of NetICs. Case-sensitive. Feed it in at the console password prompt.

This nugget enabled me to get into and reconfigure two second-hand BayStack switches so that the office I'm working in is now running at 100Mbits. Some complaints about the network running too fast after that...

November 5
I had planned on going to bed a little earlier, but ended up hacking at the linux-wlan driver so that it now has bytecounts. Only for Rx, though; I couldn't make it do anything with the Tx side of things without digging deeply, and I wasn't in any frame of mind for digging deeply.

November 4
Looking at someone else's Java-based chat client, and I got highly annoyed with it because of the effort it was taking to even get it to run. Eventually, when I did get it running, I decided to sniff the protocol to see if it was anything obvious that I could hook a regular client up to. And lo and behold, I saw a join message coming through.

Complete with the hostname of the joining user.

I shall have to investigate further, but it looks like I could perhaps build myself a far, far better client with this information, muahahahah!

Inklings of an idea about the metadata thing: it appears there's some sort of UDP traffic going on that I should know about. I suspect reading will be required. Note, however, that I can't get metadata working shoutcast-style, either (UDP is x-audiocast or something)

Aha. Got the Shoutcast-style streaming working. Basically, if you enable streaming titles AND the UDP stuff in XMMS, it doesn't ask for Shoutcast titles to be streamed. And my peculiar network setup means that I'm in an oddball part of the network that isn't playing right with UDP.

November 3
Rebuild Icecast and Ices, but I'm still getting the same problem I got the last time I tried this - it just fills up the Recv-Q on the listener, eventually getting to the point where the music craps out and resets itself. Feh. Plus streaming titles don't seem to be working on XMMS, a problem I've noticed with listening to other streams. I'm pretty sure I've got all the relevant knobs turned and levers pulled. On the plus side, I've put it all under RPM control this time, so when I get fed up with tinkering with it, I can just can the whole lot with a flick of my rpm -e.

Discovered that I'd accidentally blackholed some email, including a reply to someone to indicate that I'd already sent 'em a mail (yes, the original was blackholed too). D'oh. Freed it up, and in doing so forwarded two messages onto the BBDB list which weren't intended for it. Double d'oh.

Icecast: rebuilt with a fresh copy of libshout. Tried Windows Media Player. WMP sees a single "track" of 56 minutes 15 seconds, after which it determines that the stream has ended. The only meta information it sees is the stream name. Tried Winamp, which sees the stream ok but can't get any meta information. Double-checked my configuration and, well, I'm sure I'm doing everything by the book, but it's still not working. Back in Linux land, XMMS is still dropping the stream after a period of time (which I should determine, in case it's the same length as the WMP timeout.)

November 2
Okay, I think I've managed to correctly configure my home DNS to (a) not look elsewhere for answers for things it is supposed to be authoritative for; (b) allow local network clients to update it. Next, I'll need a local network client to update it from Linux land...

xplanet is pretty, but I'd prefer if it was the earth program from Snow Crash...

Applied a several-month-old patch to BBDB. My original beef with the patch was that it doesn't work properly under some arbitrary older version of Emacs; now I'm thinking that, well, CVS is for development. Better to get the code out there and fixed than not have it at all.

November 1
Poking and prodding at my network scripts again. Some day I'll be happy with them.

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Now is the winter of our disk content