Saturday, 30th April, 2005

Photo: VIA Rail’s “The Canadian” trans-Canada railway service currently operating between Vancouver, B.C. and Toronto, Ontario. Image is Crown Copyright (C) Government of Canada. This is fair non-commercial use under copyright law (image taken from Wikipedia).

I did something naughty this week. I booked a train. Across Canada. We (myself and dsaxena, and anyone else we rope in to joining us en route to OLS) are leaving Vancouver on July 15, and arriving in Ottawa on July 19, which is just in time for the end of the kernel summit and start of the main OLS conference. I’m totally psyched. I’ve booked my ticket for the conference too, and now need to follow up on arjan’s link to atp to get that cheaper air fare from Amsterdam->Vancouver and Ottawa->Amsterdam. This means I end up taking a pointless flight to Amsterdam in order to get a flight back again and connect to my transatlantic flight – but it’s 200 pounds cheaper this way. [ UPDATED: I've now booked the flights, departing LHR July 12th for Amsterdam, arriving Vancouver, B.C. July 13th. Cool. ]

I feel a little guilty about wasted jet fuel but I’m not a millionaire and “the flight was going there anyway”…the routing then becomes: London -> Amsterdam -> London -> Vancouver and Ottawa -> Montreal (or maybe even Toronto) -> Amsterdam -> London. I’ll need to book an el cheap easyryan (sounds like a gay porno star) flight to Amsterdam (probably not best to discuss gay porn in this sentence, but meh) for the night before I fly out. Next thing to do is figure out if there’s any way to: a). fly to Portland and/or San Francisco (I’ve got a date with a yacht on the bay at some point), b). take a train to New York and/or NJ if I’m not doing post-OLS stuff all week during the following week. Definately need to get in some cycling along the canal and am considering canoeing too (which I mention as a reminder that I should book for any course I want to do while I’m over there as places are limited).

Photo: Flying above the clouds in an Airbus A319. No, that’s not water below.

I’ve flown 8 times this month, which is my new record. Perhaps it’s also a sign that I’m slightly less bothered by the experience – although I still have many paranoias associated with flying. I guess it’s also related to the “fun factor”, in that going places to do interesting stuff is more enjoyable than just getting a bus from one city to another. Then there are the people you meet – “single serving friends” (Tyler Durden, Fight Club) – from the guy sitting next to me out to LAX, who’s moved from IT to wanting to study sustainable development, to the guy on the return flight, who is visiting from Australasia and has a mission to track down the family of a famous Australasian fighter pilot (I can’t recall if he is from NZ or AU so I’ll cop out and go with Australasian so as not be any more offensive than the idea of confusing the two in the first place).

Where was I? Hmmm, so, anyway, back on some kind of topic. I met a very nice girl on the Railair coach from Reading station at 05:00 on Thursday morning. She’s studying for a PhD in Physics at Reading University – but not wanting to be an annoying male type, I didn’t ask the obvious question. Meh. The question is, do I continue to follow my principle of not trying to ask out every female geek the first chance I get (because, frankly, it must be very frustrating to be thought of as a geek sex object rather than a scientist) or do I admit that on some level we’re all human and I should probably do more about being single. I wonder what stargirl and Val Henson would have us geek guys actually do in such situations. Well? What say you? :-)

I was just in Brussels again, for two days, visiting some folks in Leuven. We (mostly myself and Carlos) did a bit of ecos development in to the wee hours in their funky offices and I crashed out on a matress in one of the offices when the lack of sleep finally caught up with me. Figured out a few things about the particular port we’ve been looking at, and am getting more familiar with the isms present in the latest Xilinx tools. Speaking of which, I’ve borrowed an ml300 to do some development work – and to use at OxLUG next weekend. I should probably start writing my slides over the weekend, but I’ve also got a proposal to put together (that should really have been done by now) and a number of articles to churn off to Richard. Meh. That’s life.

If I actually get chance (or even the motivation) to do some hardware development with this board, I’d be sorely tempted to buy an ML403 on the grounds that it’s cheap (compared to the ML300) and can run both Linux on PowerPC and Linux on Microblaze with custom SoC designs built in Platform Studio (EDK – dudes, just call it EDK, that’s what everyone else does). As it is now, I need to fix up differences in HAL revisions and try to come up with a generic set of procedures for handling this next time they bump “compatible” releases. I’m getting to grips with ecos, figured out some changes to the default templates for building applications and have been reading the Bruce Peren’s series ecos book (Embedded Software development with ecos – download it over here) – which I finally started reading properly once I got it in paperback form while in London with Richard H. a week or so ago.

It’s looking like I might use one of those free vmware licenses the folks at vmware gave me in order to run some of these Windows-only tools. I feel slightly evil about actually doing that, but it might let me catch up on some of the .NET stuff too, so it could be reasonably educational. I’ve been domainified at one of my day-jobs so am now having to use a nasty Windows domain from at least one PC – I’ve found a way around having to actually contemplate using Microsoft Exchange by having my mail forwarded to an account sitting on a more friendly mail system that’s actually usable.

Photo: Linux Desktop Hacks – look for yours truly in the credits.

Finally found out what that DHL package which kept not being delivered when we were in actually was. It was my copies of Linux Desktop Hacks which had been shipped over from the US. I quite enjoy the form Jono and Nicholas went with in the end, and so far have found only a single typo in an hour or so of reading (a simple replacement of Hz with MHz – I don’t think you’ll find any monitor with refresh rates in the millions, not even in research labs, but meh. :-) ). I am, of course, bound to have a slight bias towards liking this book as Jono asked me to shove a couple of hacks his way – check out the Bluetooth Hack (number 92) in which I inform readers how to setup Bluetooth dialup connections using a single desktop icon.

Photo: University Parks, Oxford (Comlab in the distance).

I’ve been walking again (well, it’s springtime in the UK, and you know I’m a sucker for parks and canal walks) but need to get out and do some serious cycling and more outdoor exercise. I should actually go climbing properly sometime with my friend Ian from work – indeed, I could also go with twh or one of my other friends too.

That’s about it for the moment. There’s other stuff I should of course mention – like Hannah’s overall stress levels being a little high right now – but having read her blog I can at least see she’s feeling a bit better. Oh, I had supper with Philippe in Zaventem last night – Greek Kebab style. It was good to see him, if even only very briefly. Anyway, that’s all for the moment.


P.S. Still not eating meat.

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