Archive for September, 2003

Tadpole SPARCbook

Tuesday, September 16th, 2003

[ from the the-jcm-sparc-museum dept. ]

Tadpole SPARCbook

The Tadpole SPARCbook arrived. In the evening last night I powered it up to confirm that SPARCbook Solaris 1.0.1 is installed and runs. Networking is coming up and the AUI adapter works however I need to remember how a few of the settings are configured on old SunOS over the next few days. This is pretty cool. I need to get hold of an installation CD either from Tadpole or from another SPARCbook owner who has one of the originals.

The plan is to investigate upgrading the hard disks to multigigabyte ones and to install both SunOS and SPARC Debian GNU/Linux on it. I can make a battery pack since at the moment it is running off a modified power supply which was sent to me with the unit. Screen size is small and supports only 16 on screen colours in the 256 colour colourmap at any given moment due to the limitations of the display technology. Who cares though really? It does display information and runs SPARC Solaris so what more could anyone really want in a laptop? :-) .

So it will not be replacing my Apple 2002 Powerbook obsideon however it might come with me to Telehouse and to the Nuclear Bunker party at Christmas for the general extension it suggestively offers to manhood. Besides every other geek would do the same. Now all I need is to get a slightly newer Tadpole SPARCbook to complement this original S1 and I can have a pretty complete museum of old SPARC hardware going on in my bedroom.

Meanwhile in the real world I am debugging a serial driver and looking at networking and Compact Flash. One of the family pets is unwell and everyone at home seems to have a cold which they either caught from me or are going to give to me. I have not figured out which yet.
I am probably going to be in Poole this weekend and am writing a review of pGina for next issue – also writing about Tomcat and some other stuff too.


Midlands Trip

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

[ from the Reading->Birmingham->Nottingham->Birmingham->Reading->Oxford dept. ]

Midlands Trip

Written on the train from Nottingham to Leicester at 14:20.

Today I am on route to Birmingham via Leicester (thanks to weekend engineering works which augment the journey time) to see Hannah and Joe for a very late lunch or early supper and to see their new house. This is the second visit in the last day since I met up with Hannah, Joe, Biggles and Susie last night to see her brother Mike performing Folk songs at the Arts Festival. Mike is very good and I was quite happy to buy an album for easy listening.

I caught a train yesterday to Birmingham and spent a few hours wondering around before meeting up. During this time I went to a Starbucks with a T-Mobile hotspot (Name: tmobile, SSID: tmobile, BSSID: 00:40:96:5A:F1:B5, Manufacturer: Cisco, Model: AP-350, Channel: 1) which I tried out. The service is pretty reasonable actually since it does not unfairly impose system requirements upon paying customers. It does some kind of rate limiting on uploads and has a few interesting monitors in place as well as some kind of MAC blocking prior to authentication which allows DNS queries and HTTP redirects all requests to the login service.

Last night I went to Nottingham to meet up with jok and have a late supper. I called our friend sid who dropped in too. Stayed up playing go and chatting. This morning I went in to Nottingham to grab a coffee and this train but also went in to W H Smiths and HMV. Bought another Pet Shop Boys album called DISCO 2 which turns out to be mostly remixes – I should have guessed from the title probably. We are planning on going to the Linux Expo in a few weeks although I will likely be in Nottingham at some point before. Freshers turning up soon.

Apple Rant

Apple want 279 pounds to extend my warrenty to the three year Apple Care cover plan. This runs from the original date of purchase so I would lose the first year thrown in anyway and since John Lewis already gave me another extra year of warrenty I would pay that for just one extra year. I have insurance and figure Apple are charging too much tax for extending the warrenty especially given that they will not repair the paint issue which is a known flaw in 2002 Powerbooks or the couple of annoying dead pixels. Somewhat minor things that I would want fixed in return for paying a ransom.

Birmingham visit part II

This afternoon I returned to Birmingham and caught a train to Selly Oak. Hannah and Joe and myself went to a Pizza restaurant which did not have Aubergene and Goats cheese toppings available however was still pretty good. I visited their new house for some tea before heading back on the train.

Currently I am on the return portion from Birmingham to Reading and am reading through some kernel documentation while cdparanoia processes the CD aquisitions from this weekend. I met another Powerbook user on the train which is always amusing. I believe that sysctl does now require the procfs interface in order to do any useful work in which case on a technicality my point to one of these bankers about sysctl is correct.

I am thinking about writing a modification for procfs /proc/sys to support sysrq sytle operations through the file interface for those situations in which there is no access to sysrq such as over an ssh session without a serial console as was the case in a recent post to Linux Managers. I am also perfecting the process by which I would overwrite kernel code at runtime via /dev/mem based upon disassembly of /proc/kcore.


Another Random London Trip

Friday, September 12th, 2003

[ from the London-abstracted-from-reality dept. ]

London Stuff

On Friday I was in London all day. In the morning I had a meeting in the City and after that I went via DLR to Telehouse Docklands suite TFM4 to update the kernel on dmesg. Having rebooted twice following the realisation that lmsensors was not running in the new 2.4.21 which had replaced 2.4.20 – 2.4.22 does not have ACL patches currently available as yet – I went over to Cabbot Square for a late lunch or early dinner at
The Gourmet Pizza Company. Very nice vegitarian pizza there indeed.

Eventually I went back to Bank station and then began walking randomly in a direction I thought might take me to the Thames. I ended up at The Tower and then walked over Tower Bridge to find a certain David Blaine suspended in that famous glass box. I waved as he waved at the crowd.

Then started walking towards Westminster and crossed the now not so wobbly Millennium Bridge to end up at Tate Modern and spent a while looking at the art. Look out for the Sausage video of a female artist eating a sausage and a banana, and also for the violent clown videos. Of course there were a few typical examples such as a completely blue canvas which is supposed to express the meaning of voidness or somesuch – I see the point though this also encourages me that I too could be an artist in the sense that a printout of this blog might be considered art. :-) . The Soviet Poster section was rather thought provoking. The cafe is quite nice and the coke and smoothie were well called for.

Did a whole bunch of random other stuff and added a high priority to getting a digital camera so that I can preserve more of these events for posterity.

Weekend Plans

This weekend I am likely to be in Birmingham at some point, obviously Reading a bit, possibly London for theatre, and I might go to Poole on Sunday if the weather is pleasant enough to randomly visit ben.


Strangely enough I will probably not visit Call Centre Expo 2003 as was suggested in a mailshot I was sent which just made me think that little bit more about human depravity. I did consider going in order to track down some Telemarkers in order to explain why it is that they do not help humanity but it would do not good. Of course not all Call Centres are used for Telemarketting BUT I would like to suggest that this Expo will feature a lot of that side of things.

The SPARCbook has now been paid for at should at some point be on its way to me perhaps. I am going to Linux Expo UK 2003 in London in October. Probably the Thursday and perhaps the Wednesday too.


Today Today

Thursday, September 11th, 2003

[ from the another-update-another-title dept. ]

Random purchase of the day was a Tadpole SPARCbook S1.

Source: Tadpole SPARCbook S1 auction photo.

Today I had a rather lazy day looking over tax returns and contemplating stuff. Tom was going to be visiting however has changed his plans so I had a much more laid back day. sladen sent me a link to the Tadpole SPARCbook S1 auction and er, it absolutely positively had to be mine. I have wanted one of these for quite some time and now I will have one.

Muwhahahahaha! :-) .

[ Mozilla Firebird crashed half way through writing this the first time. ] Thanks to Bill Joy for writing vi and the inspiration that gave to write other editors such as vim which is being used here for this rewrite!

The Linux kernel development that I have been doing has made a lot of progress and I will post a link to some patches once these become official. Suffice it to say I am happy with the amount I am learning and gaining from the work that I am doing with hardware and Linux kernel development.

I went to Telehouse last week to meet sladen and to fix the serial console problem with Unfortunately I was delayed but I did buy pizza for us afterwards! I am back in TFM4 tomorrow to perform a software upgrade which necessitates that I am onsite. I met Chris last week too and went to Wagamama for Noodles. I hope he graces me with another visit at Christmas or whenever he returns!

I was in Winchester last weekend to listen to my cousin and his band “The Taming Of The Shrew” performing as a support act to “The Trade” at the John Stripe Theatre. They were pretty damn good with Tom being great on vocals and the other band members too – especially Sam on guitar. I need to talk to them again about websites and other such random stuff to see if I can help out somewhere. Also met gran and my aunt Anne for lunch. Unsurprisingly we went to Pizza Hut and then headed down to the Water gardens for a walk which was very pleasant. Winchester changes every time I am there.

Last weekend I was at the OxLUG meeting which was in the Lamb and Flag since there was no talk planned. We discussed SCO and various obvious stuff, then got on to talking about Windows worms and the design of various Operating Systems. I discussed low latency networking with a guy who runs some of the stuff in what used to be and might still be Oxford Parallel including Myrinet.

Tonight I am planning for some stuff in central London tomorrow and visiting dmesg to perform patching. I also am considering going to Birmingham over the weekend and the possibility of also going to Nottingham or Manchester with a chance that there will be time to fit in a trip to Poole on Sunday.


Disgusting News

Thursday, September 11th, 2003

[ from the read-project-censored-reports dept. ]

I was particularly unsurprised when reading the news from Project Censored discussing those stories which have been notably absent from mainstream reporting over the last year or so. Still the reports are somewhat disturbing nonetheless.

Disturbing things the Bush Administration have kept from us

Rumsfeld’s Plan to Provoke Terrorists

This basically suggests that the US have been contemplating causing terrorist incidents in response to subversive actions on their part.

US Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq UN Report

Did you ever wonder where those missing pages from the Iraq weapons reports actually eventually turned up? According to this report, the US removed them and this in itself does not particularly surprise me. It does sadden me to think that this was again for capitalist reasons.


[back ported] Diary – 05/09/2003

Friday, September 5th, 2003

[ from the retro-fitting-older-entries dept. ]

Random Stuff

Today I am on route in to London again in order to meet sladen and dmesg. Unfortunately I am now quite late having had to receive several calls this morning which resulted in leaving home quite late. I owe Paul a pint or two. Anyway…

Miscellaneous Stuff

Apparently I am also now officially “overqualified”. At least according to the SA’s at a certain large investment bank. I was asked what happens when you type sync at the ok prompt on a Sun box so I discussed zero page deferrencing and how Solaris traps down to the
do_panic function which verifies the disk driver sublayer and then stores a crash dump towards the end of the configured swap device – then why it does this and even parts of the magic numbers used in the dump. A little OTT perhaps.


[back ported] Diary – 04/09/2003

Thursday, September 4th, 2003

[ from the retro-fitting-older-entries dept. ]

Random Stuff

Today I am in London sitting in Cabot Square at Starbucks. While this is indeed an example of entirely articial asthetics it is quite pleasant nonetheless. Canary Wharf is in the distance with all the banking buildings dominating the skyline while I write random code and slurp tea. In a few weeks from now this area will be quiet and much more wintery. Back here again tomorrow with sladen probably if we can arrange a time to check in on dmesg over in Telehouse.

I seem to have lost more weight, which is probably down to not eating much over the last few days while spending most of my time at work. There can be problems when you enjoy your job to the level that I currently do and really the only way forward is going to be to live next to the office. Need to sort out my PhD applications also – I am applying to research distributed embedded systems and their reliability and failover capabilities.

Hacking on random code while contemplating life and the Universe and various other entirely random stuff. I should go to go see a play and experience some culture, I need to get out more. Of course this would be much preferable with a female geek so willing volunteers are sought. :-) .

Hacking Stuff

The Linux PowerPC 405 ZPR Zone Protection Register handling code is amusing. Another classical example of a single endian issue with a byte swapped register differing between the way it actually works and the way the developers must have thought it works. That took enough time to track down. Everything starts working happily when you swap the zone numbers in it around, so if you are reading this having had the same problem and finding this page in a google search or something please do get in touch to share your frustration! :-) .

Miscellaneous Stuff

So today I am in London and also tomorrow. Then I am in Winchester to visit my grandmother for some afternoon tea. Tonight I am meeting a friend and I still need to finalise the weekend – not quite packed enough in to this week so maybe another trip to Cambridge or Nottingham is in order. I am planning to visit Congleton as soon as there are trains going there once more and also Bournemouth once Ben figures out when would be good.