Archive for March, 2005

Friday, 1st April, 2005

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Expecting a topical RFC to be published today…I wonder what it’ll be this year.

Photos (from left to right): Afternoon tea with mum in Goring, three of my favourite people in the world, spring-like weather in London, an anti-Bush event poster in Oxford.

Well, I’ve not updated this blog in a couple of weeks, so here goes a random list:

* Started getting up at 07:00 each morning, thanks to multiple alarms.
* I’ve gone a week without meat now and feel better for it (read: less tired, lost a little weight).
* Started work on “ktop”, a kernel task browser in python (powered by pygtk, glade and to pull in the bits from the glade XML project file). It’s covered in the forthcoming issue of the magazine – so far it’s a graphical front end to gdb magic on /proc/kcore, and as such is a little too slow for general use, but I’ll clean it up and release it properly as a kernel object browser for the curious. It should let people see what’s really going on inside.
* I wrote a couple of hacks for the forthcoming Linux Desktop Hacks. It should be out soon now and I should get some copies. You know you want to buy it.
* I officially need glasses for doing close-up work.

Screenshot: ktop – a kernel task browser

Those who know me (and you probably do somehow, since you’re reading this) know that I can be a wonderful procrastinator in certain situations – especially medical ones. I spent several months in hospital once, and haven’t liked doctors ever since. Ever wonder why I’m so paranoid and scared of blood tests? Try having one or two every day for a while (and eventually in your hand when they run out of places on your arm to jab you with sharp needles). That might be enough to convince you only to go to the doctor when it’s really really necessary…and to avoid talking to medical relatives about whatever medical problems one might have. For the curious, I had a rare blood disorder (very low platelet counts in my blood, triggered by some weird reaction to a virus or other somethingness) which meant that if you so much as hit my arm I’d bruise like crazy and perhaps even bleed – so any falling over on a hard hospital floor would have been not such a great thing.

So, now I’ve put you in a sympathetic mood, maybe it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve been putting off addressing a growing problem with my vision over the last couple of years. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to focus on nearby objects and my eyes are getting tired quite regularly. Finally, I went to Boots and had an eye test last week (picture me in paranoia mode, convinced they’re going to tell me I’ve got glaucoma and every conceivable issue under the sun is wrong with my eyes). Apparently my eyes are medically healthy, but the reason I have trouble working on the computer or sometimes reading music is that I’ve become slightly long-sighted. Hopefully, the glasses which will be arriving soon will facilitate me being much more productive again.

Oh, I’ve stopped eating meat for the time being and cut down on caffeine intake too. Wow! I figured the nasty stuff in the meat was bad for me, and having just watched one too many documentaries on smart pigs and animal treatment, decided I can’t in good conscience continue to regularly consume large quantities of meat. That’s not to say this will last forever – I like the taste of meat and I might not manage to keep this up. But I will try. There are some limits: I’m not going to go 100% crazy (my sister is much more strong willed in this department – Hannah won’t eat somewhere if there’s a risk of contaminated food, more power to her) and if meat is the only viable option then I’ll just have to lump it. I’m also still eating fish for the moment. Time will tell how fadish this is and whether I can keep it up.

I’m in the US next week, for various bits and pieces, and will be visiting friends in Portland and San Francisco. I’ve got a BDI2000 here at the moment and a funky board that’s not yet properly booting ecos, but hopefully will soon. Had to get some US->UK adapters for bits. Built various control stuff for the roboduck project (hopefully more news soon) and hope to have a couple of pretty interesting items of news in the due course of time. I’m speaking at OxLUG next month, and have been invited to give a lightening talk at this summer’s LUGRadio Live. Tonight, I’m meeting some friends in London – call me if you’re about and we didn’t talk.


Wednesday, March 16th 2005

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

“But you made this Clan great
And you made this nation bloom
And you rose
With your people through the new world
Like a rocket to the moon”

— Rocket to the moon, Runrig (reminds me of Canada).

Spent a bit of time getting a Blackfin board up and running properly, in between playing with a couple of ppc things. The BF kits I’ve seen are truly shoking examples of vendor luring of unsuspecting victims – there’s no way the average person is going to get one of these booting via a network with NFS.

Got that semi-sorted now, discovered a few unpleasantly nasty things about the uCLinux build process (by now, I’m not very happy with the whole design implementation – what I’ve seen of it suggests that a bedroom hacker with all the time in the world might enjoy it, but someone with a deadline will only find using the supplied infrastructure somehow enjoyable if they’re in to masochism in a big way), generally decided to throw everything in the BF kit away aside from the bare ucLinux sources and do it again myself properly. FFS, where the heck am I meant to produce a DXE if I didn’t spend a few grand on AD software? Oh, I was supposed to do that? huh? really? Wow. Obviously it sells enough software to do things this way.

Confirmed meeting some folks from Sunnyvale, but I’m doing it in San Francisco now so I get time to do the tourist thing before returning to the conference. Need to get lots of other things progressed further this week – been getting up better lately, since I’ve generally not been up after 01:00 and have cut back on the coffee intake. Still doing my daily exercises when possible but have now resorted to a three meal day (trying to keep up sufficient exercise to offset that) including some yummy breakfast. I discovered maple syrup and chocolate spread in Canada.

Looks like I’ll take a route to Nottingham via Birmingham on Saturday.


Sunday, 13th March 2005

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

We build this city on rock and roll
— Jefferson Starship (circa 1978), San Francisco.

Got a certain board booting semi-properly last night. At least it listens on a serial boot loader console and takes commands. I can also build the same firmware the others were building, so I think my toolchain is working ok (although I am currently rebuilding a powerpc GNU toolchain as the GNU ld in ecos gnutools is horribly broken for me – no, bfd, it’s ok to have a “huge negative offset” if it’s your fscking boot vector…it won’t let me objcopy ELF binaries in to binary images). Inadvertly discovered a Redhat 6.2 box I’d forgotten about at home (we have enough old machines kicking about here) which was still handing out DHCP addresses to boxes upstairs and devkits. Moved all the DHCP lease serving over to another Debian box.

Read bits of last month’s LJ finally. I was annoyed at the time to see they’d also covered Netlink at the same time that we just did in LU&D – but meh, it’s popular. Read rml’s article on D-BUS and found it useful, need to play with that some more since I’m meant to be doing this pythony thing at the moment. Almost got chance to read a bit of LDD3 again, maybe tonight.

My eyes are playing up a lot at the moment, and I’m feeling rundown on occasion, but I just need to sort stuff out, I hope. Like, getting in to a regular routine, getting up in the morning, etc. Will try to set a really noisey alarm for the morning and get up super early so I can get work done before it’s too late. I’m too lazy generally, and I am trying to fix that now. My new year’s resolution was to do something about it, I am really trying. Today I must get somewhere with this board port and finish some of the uC stuff that’s been dragging out. Hopefully I’ll sort out visiting those folks in Sunnyvale tomorrow.

What happened on the ppc405 bi_recs front? Well, I’m in a mail thread about it right now. I have started to shove stuff in to my tree, but I’m lazy and need to figure stuff out too. The plan is to have this fake OF tree BLOB sitting somewhere in memory (shoved there by u-boot) and tell Linux about it through bd_info->bi_fakeoftree. Then I need to get this unflattened a la the ppc64 tree and tell the kernel to make it available as the OF tree (userspace visable via /proc/device-tree) so modules can find out stuff from it.


Saturday, 12th March 2005

Saturday, March 12th, 2005

Been feeling a bit better again, although my eyes are still annoying me. Ears playing up a bit too. Bah. Anyway, need to get back on track with some stuff this weekend.

I went to the Ig Nobel event in Oxford this evening, which was quite amusing. Had chance to talk to agk briefly, might turn up to a bit of GLLUG today. I won’t make the Cambridge #debian-uk meetup today and maybe not next week either. Oh well, Paul will wait a bit longer for the HHKB – unless I can figure out another way to get it back to him sooner (if he’s around to get it).

Having booked flights to Los Angeles and Portland, I now need to add in a trip over to Sunnyvale (San Jose) for variously varied reasons. Might see if I can schedule a couple of things while I’m in town – it’s only about 39 miles to San Francisco and I quite like the idea of coffee and a gentle stroll along the Bay. We’ll see.

Had 6644 miles added to my Aeroplan account, setup a Virgin Flying Club account and generally need to have miles from other trips added on to these. Might be in Nottingham next weekend for Julia’s choir’s concert – depends upon various things but might be able to meet up with people while I’m in town if I stay for long.

I think my musical taste might be on the mend. Currently listening to an eclectic mix – right now it’s “Farewell to Nova Scotia”, but I’ve been playing a lot of Garbage (not the type I used to play). Some occasional Jefferson Starship in there too though.


UPDATE: None of the local government websites I looked at wanted to tell me that trains exist – but they really do. Caltrain operate a sub-one hour service from SJC to SF and back later on. So it’s feasible to visit San Francisco for coffee. Just something I’ve wanted to do since a mate went over for something like LinuxWorld a few years ago.

Wednesday, 9th March 2005

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

Ok. I wasn’t much better today either – but at least everyone agrees I look like shit :-)

On the other hand, I did manage to get someone here to get hold of a US->UK adapter for me when out shopping. This will be useful, and it actually works (kudos to Shop On The Bridge in Tilehurst). I hope to have some more fluid and feel better over night. Whatever I’ve had the past day or so has just made me feel really tired and icky on a semi-irregular basis (enough to be annoying).

I’ve booked my flights over to the States. I was pragmatic in the end and didn’t pay over the odds to go to Vancouver (the flight I wanted had gone and it was getting a bit silly to do it at this point) so I am just going straight to Los Angeles (LAX) with Virgin from Heathrow. I have booked a separate internal flight to Portland, Oregon (PDX) to stay with Deepak for a couple of days. He offered to let me crash on his floor when we were at FOSDEM last week. Never make jokes about such things when vaguely near me – I might just actually do it :P

Someone mailed me about the OF device tree stuff, I picked up head_4xx.S and started hacking on some stuff again.


Tuesday, 8th March 2005

Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

Photos (from left to right): A weekend in Nottingham, Waterstones in Oxford now have a Google section…and an ebay section too.

I went to Nottingham for the weekend with Hussein, since he was driving up anyway. I got to see a number of friends I haven’t seen recently – Sid was the obvious example (I gave him a Flash card I’ve had sitting around for ages, sorry for the delay), but also Mel, Rowan, and the regular gang: Robin and Beckie, Jok, etc. I took some Belgian beer with me and discovered that, yes, it can be pretty pressurised if shaken well during transportation.

We went to Skinny Sumo on Saturday night, in a change from our regular Wagamama dining (it was jok’s insistance that did it really, so I blame him, but it was good). I had real sushi for the first time. I like it. But I might not like some of the weirder stuff – I need to try it some more. Last time I went to a sushi bar before this restuarant, I cunningly avoided any sushi whatsoever. We had Turkish food on Sunday.

More friends are moving away from Nottingham and I am starting to realise that I was infatuated with the situation we were in while studying, moreso than the place itself. I don’t need to be in Nottingham now, but I don’t mind visiting and reminiscing about times gone by (when I win the lottery we can all move back and have that lifestyle again if we want). I didn’t see Dave, but I will arrange to be in Nottingham on a regular term day sometime soon and pop in to campus. That’s all changed too – probably can’t even go in without an armed escort by this point.

I didn’t place the travelbugs so they need to find homes urgently – anyone going to a castle and want to take Merlin with them?

Trying to get stuff done, played with the blackfin devkit a bit recently (the kit is great, what you get shipped sucks – dudes, you don’t even ship a useable compiler for making a trivial hello world program – people don’t want to go through your hassely build process to add a new project, etc. etc.) – mostly to help someone else get up and running with the unhelpful stuff that came in the box – did other worky stuff. Was off sick today since I’ve just been feeling rundown and had a headache – so I’ll jig days around and try to compensate in order to avoid having the day as sick leave if possible – the main reason is that I am going away again in a few weeks and don’t want to annoy people.

I’ve confirmed my trip to the US and will be in LA around a month from now. I’ll probably take a routing via Vancouver and Toronto so I get 5 hours in BC on the way out, and a couple in Toronto on the way back. It’s silly money to get longer in BC on the way out – but it’s worth hours and hours of extra travelling to see it just even for 5 hours. Hopefully some of the folks I have been chatting with will be keen to meet up – so I might have to take a couple of internal flights to Seattle and elsewhere, if applicable.

This week features more deadlines and busyness. Proposals loom, work stuff, conference calls, and I plan to be in London for a few hours over the weekend for a play and some cycling. I am listening to more new music – bought a Garbage album at the weekend (why have I been under a musical log since 1995?) and found more Arrogant Worms too. Also discovered Jim Brickman when searching for something completely different. If you stay away for just two days, you get $100 duty free!

I’ll be in Oxford for the compsoc thing this week, might find a Novell event or two too, and am going to be in Cambridge in a few weeks for a meetup. Hopefully certain friends are around then. I am interested in hearing sensible suggestions for film themed party costumes.

For those interested friends and family, I am using gaim a little more these days. My MSN identifier is and has been for a while, my full first name (jonathan) at my domain name. I also have ICQ and Jabber accounts, for those who care. Mail me if you need help finding these other identifiers.

After writing the above, I was catching up on planet #nott and saw WoBL’s posting on WoBLand. Not to be outdone, check out my very own jcmland. You’ll recognise it as basically Canada in disguise, since they generally make good sense, but I reserve the right to be more liberal in places.


P.S. I am informed by noodles that the Audioscrobbler XMMS plugin in Debian was fixed a while back. It was broken for me originally, but I have now configured it so you can see what I am listening to and will also find these statistics popping up over at planet jcm.

Saturday, 5th March 2005

Saturday, March 5th, 2005

I got a Eurostar to Brussels for a meeting. It was running late. Discovered there are two places with similar names, got the wrong one. Train coming back was late again. Great stuff. Still, I managed to do some playing and have borrowed an ML300 for a little hacking that needs getting done.

There is a little selection of beer here, so I can give some of my colleagues a bottle, as promised. Today, I am going to take some Brussels Triple (Le Grand Place Microbrewary) on our little road-trip up to Nottingham. I’m actually quite looking forward to this since it gives me the opportunity for meeting people I haven’t seen in a while. Bought mum some Belgian chocolates for Mothering Sunday in a pre-emptive strike not to miss it – well done to Waterstones for reminding me that this commercial festival was approaching (still, it’s one I’m happy to go along with – mums are really great).

We still haven’t made a final call on CeBIT and might end up booking tickets today. I’ll be sorting out a trip to the West Coast. There’s a valid routing I like via Ottawa, Portland and LAX but it’s expensive so I might not get to crash on Deepak’s floor just yet :-)