Older blog entries for Mulad (starting at number 299)

Found out today that the National Weather Service (USA) and the weather service in Canada changed the formula they use for calculating wind chill back in November of 2001. I'll have to go and tinker with some of the weather programs I have so that they do it right..

Hmm. The lock vulnerability is pretty interesting. I don't know why I didn't come up with that idea myself, since it's so simple.

I've run a few numbers on the problem, and it appears that even if you have some pretty nice locks with 100 million possible keys, you can find a master key with only 40-80 tries. Of course, I hear that locksmiths have plenty of tricks that are even more effective than that..

I'm wrapping up stuff at work (sort of -- there's some documentation that I've been avoiding writing). Last day will be tomorrow, barring something strange happening out of the blue.

Some unusual stuff happening in my life lately, so I figured I should write it down.

I don't want to go into much detail. I chatted with Sarah, she felt I sounded depressed. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to her later, but she ended up being too busy the rest of the day. I wrote a late-night e-mail laying out some of my thoughts. She hasn't mentioned it yet, though I think she read it (though there's a distinct possibility that Hotmail's junk mail filters trashed it).

Anyway, we all went out to a restaurant for dinner. My fortune cookie said, ``Now is the time to go ahead and pursue that love interest!''

Yeah, even the Mongolians are against me (although I guess all the cooks were Mexican ;-)

I'm sort of looking for a new job. My boss is trying to keep me at Carlson, but needs to find funding somewhere. I think I'm going to wait until he finds someone to fill the student position that opens up as I graduate, perhaps facilitate in any knowledge transfer that needs to take place (where did I learn to talk like that? I guess the business school has rubbed off on me). After that, I'll be happy to go look for work elsewhere.

We'll see what happens..

5 Jan 2003 (updated 5 Jan 2003 at 05:28 UTC) »

Sort of fixed a problem that I was having with Debian's murasaki package where it would basically hang on startup (when /etc/init.d/murasaki start was run). On my desktop, some initialization programs were not working right. They were trying to execve() something that didn't exist, but the programs were written under the assumption that the execve() would never return -- which is normally the case unless there's an error of some kind.

The program was made to fork() before each execution, so I'm just lucky the software didn't explode in my face as a fork bomb. I guess it just ended up being a "fork fire," as it didn't get out of control, but there were about 15 processes going at any one time..

I haven't found anything to automatically mount/unmount my camera and other USB/FireWire devices like I want, but I suppose I haven't looked all that hard yet.

I got a little pissed off about binary-dependent, pseudo-open-source software the other day after my X server died after an upgrade. I need to get a new HALlib module in order for my second head to work again. Matrox hasn't updated their driver packages for X 4.2.1 yet. Supposedly the precompiled files on their website should work for 4.2.1, but they don't work for me (causing the console to get toasted). I could also recompile stuff myself, but X is just too big a package for me to handle..

Matrox apparently doesn't have too many problems releasing specs for their boards, but the HALlib stuff apparently has to be binary-only because the software interfaces with chips that Matrox got from other companies, and they don't want specs released..

Hmm.. It occurs to me that there is code in the kernel framebuffer driver that allows you to activate the second head on the G400 (and probably some other Matrox cards). It's unaccelerated, if I recall, but I might have to look into whether it's possible to get that code to initialize the second head so I don't have to deal with this again (or, get stuck with a slow head, rather than just one head and a blank screen next to it).

Makes me wish I could start a "nice" hardware company that releases specs and decent documentation, doesn't use chips and stuff from other companies that don't like to release specs, uses good standards where possible, etc.. Sounds nice, but the profit margins are probably too thin in the PC industry to pull it off. Maybe it's possible.. I just keep running into hardware at every turn that isn't fully workable under Linux. Even my new camera, which I'll probably recommend to friends, is only half-working with Linux -- you can get files off it like a USB hard drive, but you can't use it as a webcam (though you can get decent Linux-compatible webcams for <$20 anyway..)

It's just annoying when you look at what works and what doesn't in your system, and you realize you really only have half a computer...

Thought I'd post a note (mostly for the search engines out there) that the FujiFilm FinePix A303 camera works with Linux (as a USB storage device, at least). The camera can be configured in a "PC Camera" mode, but that doesn't work with Linux yet (the manual says that only works with Windows (XP?), and won't work with MacOS either). I was somewhat worried, as this camera uses xD-Picture Card media, rather than CompactFlash or SmartMedia.

Anyway, I guess my computer was set up for USB already, so I just had to mount the camera, which was a simple ``mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 /camera'' I decided to add a line to my /etc/fstab so I can just ``mount /camera'' to make it easier to copy images onto my laptop.

I've been thinking that I should try to find a way to automatically mount and unmount the camera when it is plugged in and unplugged, but I suspect someone has done that already. I had the thought that most of these filesystems have pseudorandom serial numbers on them (well, unless you get preformatted media, which often all have the same thing, which can lead to data corruption in certain situations). Anyway, you could make it so different serial numbers get mounted in different places. Any of the cards for your camera show up on /camera, while your MP3 player shows up on /boombox or something.

I just want something that does it automatically, because I always forget to unmount before unplugging the camera...

Went out to Audio King and tried to get a Tivoli Audio/Henry Kloss Model Two, but ended up having to order it. I had to live closest to the one Audio King in Minnesota that didn't have it in stock. Anyway.. This morning, I was looking for a nice car stereo, but ended up hunting around for something to use in my room.

The box is supposed to have a great tuner, though the demo box didn't seem to pull in stations as well as I'd hoped. Of course, there are any number of things that can mess up reception even on the best of receivers. It still sounded very good compared to the boxes sitting next to it which cost much more.

At any rate, it should arrive in a few days. I didn't order the subwoofer, but I might get one later. I don't really have the space at the moment, and I felt like a pretty big dork as it was ;-)

At work, we're running around trying to find space in the server room. We got a very large air conditioning unit to go in there. Fortunately it's on wheels, but if it had been taller and wheel-less, we wouldn't have to deal with it taking up so much floor area. We've also got a rack or two of FibreChannel equipment coming in. My boss is frantically looking for a rackmount console for at least one of our Sun systems, and we're running into trouble with our Cyclades TS800 crashing. It seems to not like our Sun Netra X1.

I'm finishing up classes. Took a final for my database course on Wednesday, and I've been helping to put together our presentation for my Financial Information Systems course. Hmm.. I suppose I'll have to dress up a bit tomorrow.

Well, my car is finally back where it belongs. It ended up costing quite a bit less than I expected to get it fixed. Sounded like a computer component went nuts.

Anywho, I took a detour on my ride home to go get some 8 pound weights at Target. I probably shouldn't have been that ambitious (the trouble I had getting it out of the rack should have given me a clue ;-) I'd read that guys should start out with 10-15 pound weights, though I knew that (until recently at least) my arms were skinnier than most women's.. At some point, I did something that put too much stress on my left shoulder somewhere. None of the muscles on top hurt or anything, it's buried underneath, so I figure it must be a tendon or something related to tendons/muscle connections.

I'm going to have to avoid upper-arm exercises for a few days, but that gives me a chance to do some leg work. I've avoided my legs since they've always seemed fairly strong (at least to me), and since I walk quite a bit already (the University of Minnesota is a huge campus, and I have to walk all the way across to get from home to work).

For the past week, I've mostly just done a lot of aerobic-type exercises. I don't like high-impact or high-stress stuff, so doing a lot (2 hours, though usually not in just one go) of silly stuff (waving my arms around like a lunatic) seems to be something that's good for me. I've got enough time this summer to do it, and for once I have the motivation to do it. I've been doing it every day, since I'm certain that if I don't work out every single day, I'll keep pushing it off day by day until I completely forget.

There have been a few moments where I've felt absolutely great during or after exercise, and it makes me wonder why I hated gym class so much when I was in school. Probably the competitive atmosphere, and the fact that most activites were geared toward people who were already in good shape.

Anyway, I'm happy to see the image in the mirror is slowly becoming closer to the image of myself I have in my head -- looking like that is my real goal. I just have to make sure that the image in my head stays realistic ;-)

Presidents are no fun.

10 Jul 2002 (updated 10 Jul 2002 at 21:11 UTC) »

Not much has happened to me in the last month, at least nothing I really want to talk about. Suffice it to say that I've finally started on an exercise binge that I'm going to continue for at least 5 weeks, mostly out of spite. Not one of the best reasons, but I'm more motivated that I ever was before.. Anyway, I don't plan on doing anything terribly dramatic/traumatic -- heck, I don't even have any weights to use, so I'm just making a fool of myself jumping around in my room early in the morning (I do plan to get some weights soon, once my car gets checked out and is running normally again).

At any rate, I'm getting up now at 6:00 (or so), with the TV set to turn on to PBS so I can watch (well, listen to) the BBC news. I don't wake at 6:00 easily, so it takes ten or fifteen minutes of listening to droning reporters to get me up..

I'm mostly just trying to get my arms to look less like pogo sticks and more like something that belongs on the human body, but I hope to do something to cut down on my gut too. But basically, I just want it to be noticeable to my friends that I did some work.

Moving sucks.

I managed to find myself some good roommates for the past two years, but they all decided to wander on to other places (where they don't need to share bedrooms anymore -- very understandable). Anyway, I'm moving into a very dorm-ish frat for the summer. I think I'm going to start looking for places for the fall very soon..

Unfortunately, the building manager at my new place has not shown himself to be very reliable. In the past few days, the place seems to look more and more like a dump, too.. I suppose that could be my mood, too.

This move is really bothering me, even though I'm only moving a few blocks. Mostly, I think I won't be able to see Sarah much anymore. On the other hand, she works three days a week at the building next to mine, so maybe we'll go out to lunch every once in a while. Oh well, I'm probably just overreacting..

I need to get back home for a little while, take a break from Minneapolis..

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