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
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 @ 23:31 | link
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 @ 00:17 | link
A Weekend of Relaxation
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 @ 23:37 | link
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 @ 22:20 | link
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 @ 13:53 | link
Strangest - Vehicle - Ever
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 @ 23:44 | link
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 @ 16:45 | link
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 @ 23:33 | link
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 @ 23:34 | link
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 @ 23:42 | link
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 X.org 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 @ 23:34 | link
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 @ 23:38 | link
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 @ 23:02 | link
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
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.org 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 @ 23:18 | link
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 X.org 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 @ 22:41 | link
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 @ 23:58 | link
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 @ 23:17 | link
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 @ 11:37 | link
I have never lost important things on a hard drive...
...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 @ 23:53 | link
copyright ©2004-2012 pat suwalski