Archive for January, 2005

Monday, 31 January 2005

Monday, January 31st, 2005

Still up finishing stuff. Need to get some sleep later but not tired right now and wouldn’t sleep right now anyway – so I figured I might as well do something useful.

Subscribed to and subsequently immediately delurked from BLU, the Boston LUG, in preparation for going along to a meeting on the 16th February during the LinuxWorld Expo. Offered some advice to someone obviously attempting to setup a gdb stub on a target board using a USB serial tty adapter.

Coffee time.


Sunday, 30 January 2005

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

Got up, felt crap yet again. A bit better later on though. Finally got a couple of articles in and I’m now finishing off this month’s Kernel Hacking so rest of the folks at LU&D have it for tomorrow. Tonight, we went to John Nike Leisuresport Bracknell, and I tried skating for the first time. I don’t think I did too badly when all things are considered using some level of mystic consideration, but I’m not a natural skater. I can probably just about make it around a rink without holding on at this point – so it’ll be interesting to try the real deal in Ottawa during the coming days.

Daniel advertised our trip to klug in Kingston (I wasn’t subscribed to that list – fixed now – probably in part because their list shares the exact same name as the Kent LUG here in the UK, so now consequently that will necessitate some further level of organisation of my mail folders), I am debating about asking fellow oclug members if they want to join us on the road to Boston LinuxWorld – we’re working out what space we have right now. Certainly the trip has a prospect of being interesting and I’ve never done a proper “road trip” so this will be one of those things I can chalk up and cross off the list of stuf to do before whenever.

I’ll hopefully be updating this blog during my trip and should have some photos to add to the gallery and link from here if there’s good connectivity for uploading them. Probably going to take bits of the duck with me so I can work on that in the evenings – still haven’t got all the serial communications working properly and I’m a bit annoyed that I can’t easily discern activity with a simple LED wired up to RX1out on the MAX233 I’m using (I have several 232s and a 233 for cheating when I just want to be sure I got it right – still the 233 is annoying because you do have to hookup the internal charge pumps within it – the Dallas parts look a lot better from the point of view of plug ‘n’ play). Next I need to wait for Denk or someone to have a decent form factor board with host USB.

I was reading a little about Firefox plugins and using XUL as a consequence of discovering bugmenot (an excellent tool for those reading the New York Times or similar websites who don’t want to have to give them “free registration” information for pointless reasons) and discovered about:config as a mechanism for setting parameters. I wonder if the people behind the Mozilla Foundation (e.g. Gerv) could setup an alias.

Tomorrow I had better get emergency remote access to work related stuff sorted in case I need to hack on something while I am away.


Friday, 28 January 2005

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Visited Monta in Bracknell. Was over 20 minutes late but didn’t mean to be – I need to get a car so I can not have to do the waiting around for trains thing. Tried getting the Monta phone number from directory enquiries, but with no success. Tried calling Business Exchange only to find there was no listing for their Bracknell office in BT directories either. Laptop battery went flat. Bah. Annoying.

Felt really shitty later on, ended up having to lie down for a few hours to avoid being sick. Nice.

Currently trying to do everything I was going to do earlier on today. Ended up on #kernelnewbies until gone 03:00 discussing ioremap_nocache vs. ioremap with someone who wanted page protection bits (cacheability control) explained in some detail. Figured out that they wanted vmalloc_to_page to convert the ioremap address to a valid struct page in order to check it was mapped correctly (they wanted to verify).

I checked Air Canada prices for Ottawa during 2005. Prices begin to go up in a few months, rising to 580GBP for Linux Symposium, but I could perhaps afford to go three or four times this year, if necessary. Looked at various boots today too, but the Schuh shop I went in to didn’t have the temperature rating for Timberland boots (FWIW the guy in the store was helpful and did find a sheet with quite a large amount of information aside from that which I was actually seeking) and another shop had boots expensive enough to affirm the need to wait until I am actually in Canada.


Thursday, January 27th 2005

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

Photos (from left to right): Rootes pump, Carl von Linde’s Air Liquiefaction equipment (taken at the Deutsches Museum, in Munich).

Finally uploaded more photos from last weeks’ trip to Munich. I enjoyed that visit, but I learned that Adidas gloves aren’t necessarily all they’re supposed to be since the ones I bought in Munich have already broken at the seams. Bah.

Today I’m trying to get some stuff finished off at home in preparation for being in Canada from next Tuesday. I’m flying out on a Boeing 767 300ER (the same family I was on in the summer – last time it was plane equipment number 647 if anyone cares) at 16:35 on Tuesday afternoon and shall return on the 21st, arriving in Heathrow at around 11:15. I’m staying in a Victorian guesthouse in Ottawa for most of the first 11 nights, but am still planning a day trip to Toronto which has to fit in somewhere. I’ll be in Kingston for a few days, on the road to Boston, MA (via Maine, New England) and then in Boston during the show itself. I’ve arranged to meet up with Jeremy Allison (I think I can now mention he’s doing a column in the magazine) – I’m hoping he can put me in touch with the guys working on various embedded Linux media stuff at HP too – and hopefully one or two friends from other companies over there. I also have recently corresponded with some GNU/Linux companies in Ottawa (anyone else want coffee?) and today spoke with the folks over at Novell about meeting up for a few hours.

After recently moving some servers around, it became necessary to abort an installation of Ubuntu and recover the previous Mandrake installation from a bunch of soft RAID level 5 disks on a particular box. Luckily, only the partition tables had been nuked at the point that the install was cancelled. This meant that a few hours with xxd, less, fdisk, dd, disktype, and friends – coupled with the fact that RAID superblocks live not at the end of a blockdev, but at the last 64k aligned block (very important to realise, not well documented however) – allowed me to manually locate and read off the superblock contents, performing necessary endian conversions, and reconstruct the appropriate partition table entries which had existed previously. Unfortunately however, the geometry of the disks had been forced to be different previously (4866 cylinders rather than the real 4865, for various random reasons) which meant that I also had to figure this bit out. Anyway, at this point it’s almost ready to force mdadm to use it – anyone who likes non-Free Software: how would you do this with your favourite OS?

I added a bunch more entries to recently, am doing some reading, and keeping up the daily exercise within certain limits – I’ve also upped the number of situps to 40 each morning and evening whenever possible, and 20 pressups each time too. I have not yet gotten around to that serious python study I was going to do – but I hope to spend some time in the evenings while I’m away with my safari.

Tomorrow I’m in Bracknell to have some more coffee with the folks at Monta and talk about an article we had planned. I need to mail several other Embedded Linux guys I know about participating in a feature on the realtime work going in to support the various new uses we’re seeing for Linux through various devices.


Sunday, 23 January 2005

Sunday, January 23rd, 2005

Someone found my first geocache, GCMJCN this morning. That’s cool, I only just listed it, having finally put it in place last week. I had been meaning to place it since last December but had to find a time when there weren’t geomuggles around to take it.

Sitting in SFCC at Odeon Square again (moved out to the back to get power, found a SuSE user guy sitting next to me just now when I saw the Chameleon out of the corner of one eye – my day pass from yesterday is still working even though I bought another. At 3.90 EUR it is really good value wifi here – take note Starbucks – this is how to get people to sit in a coffee house all afternoon). Trying to do some work now, having spent a substantial amount of time in the Deutsches Museum yesterday afternoon – wow is all I can say to summarise the place.

At the German Museum, I saw everything from Carl von Linde’s Air Liquiefaction equipment (demonstrations only available by booking two weeks in advance or for school parties and special group excursions) and the insides of a Rootes pump in the Physics section, to Astronautics (including actual spacecraft, rockets, and the like) and even a UNIVAC and Cray I in the Computer Science section. I’ve taken plenty of photos but since I’m using the PCMCIA socket on this Powerbook for wifi, I’ll upload them sometime later, probably when I’m back in the UK. Anyone reading this who does go to the German Museum should note that only the post-1960s sections tend to have substantial English translations of text – I couldn’t read most of the information in the Physics section because it was sparse and in German, and the nice chap I asked about it apologised for not speaking much English (that’s not his fault). The Technology sections and anything recent obviously had at least English available as an option (but I did not notice any audioguides or headsets on offer – though the lady in the ticket office was English!).

Just over a week until I’m in Ottawa. I should go skating one evening for practice.



Visiting DENX in Munich

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

Photo: Odeon Square in Munich.

I’m in Munich for a long weekend visting DENX and investigating what this major European City has to offer in the way of tourism. It’s been pretty interesting so far – I enjoyed finally meeting wd in person and think their new offices are pretty cool and cosy. Thursday was spent flying out from London Heathrow, meeting Wolfgang & co., and then having a few drinks in the evening too.

Yesterday afternoon, I visited the Siemens Forum (site doesn’t render well in Firefox browsers – a shame for a technology company site). I’ve been geocaching already (last night) – Ludwigs-Apotheke / Ludwigs-Pharmacy and bought some more gloves (having left my main light pair at home). There’s skating here too, but today I must do some writing – right after a quick visit to the German Museum, where I hope to see Carl von Linde’s original refrigeration (Air Liquefaction) equipment (I hope to be able to see some kind of demonstration if I get there in time).

Wifi courtesy of the San Francisco Coffee Company, outside the Odeon Square here in Munich (3.90EUR for a whole day of wifi access on some kind of reasonable ADSL connection – they heavily advertise Apple Airport Extreme Wireless APs too but I don’t think that hardware actually supports a hotspot type pay-per-use arrangement, perhaps it does support RADIUS or something though? It’s probably done at the head end if this is actually running on one of those units).


Monday, 17th January 2005

Monday, January 17th, 2005

Bah. I’m ill. I’ve had a headache for the past day or so (no, I’ve not had much coffee – I’ve been keeping it to a couple of cups per day so far this year) and a slightly runny nose. So meh.

Let’s see, try to keep this up to date with small installments. Today I spent some time at home sleeping, made a few config changes at work from my armchair, and played with the beta of VMware to get a devel FC3 environment having given up on waiting for it to install under bochs (RedHat: please please please offer a “minimal install” option in a future release. I guess a bug report is necessary, I just want a couple of hundred megs of environment). I need to play with rawhide stuff and have a box that I can do kernel debugging on – a virtual machine seems to be the best option for FC until either this old devbox can be made to take SDRAM (enough to actually run an FC) or I get around to buying an Apple MiniMac (which hopefully will happen) so I can use this desktop for development stuff. I am willing to consider using VMware as an option – after all, I use closed source proprietary hardware so using their software is only an equivalent. The kernel sources are open.

Air Canada cancelled my booking, because I booked tickets on the 31st of December (New Year’s Eve) and elected to collect from a travel agent (as opposed to on the day at the airport or whatever the other entailed) but was given until the very next day to collect. It just so happens that New Year’s Day is a public holiday in both Canada and the UK (no, we don’t have the exact same public holidays btw – I’ve looked them up, they do have federal holidays for things like Thanksgiving, but earlier than the USians) so, Air Canada, this would be an obvious glaring bug in your website software. Please fix it. Alternatively, you could elect to respond to my customer service email rather than giving me a coronary when I called to confirm the weirdness with the booking status on the website (it was showing up, but nothing was showing for ticket status and the site generated an error code to accompany it) only to be told the booking had been “auto-cancelled”. Could you please not go cancelling my bookings without telling me you’ve done that? Thanks. I’ve now paid them again and been told I was never actually charged the first time – but I’ve checked with Barclays and will also have any double payments immediately cancelled from the account. Despite the obviously British sounding phone system at Air Canada UK, I’m not entirely convinced I wasn’t ultimately speaking to someone in a call centre in India – not that it bothered me too much since they did work with me on both occasions that I called them (the second time to reconfirm the confirmation and to get another copy of the second confirmation mailed out to me just to be certain). Note that, despite this, I am generally happy with the airline and their prices seem quite reasonable – just under 250GBP for a return flight is not bad at all.

I’m reading Designing Embedded Hardware. Specifically, brushing up on electronics – it’s the interactions of passive components and so on that I need to improve upon; For example being able to put precise values on rather fuzzy descriptions of “that probably wants a pullup resistor there or something”.