Recent blog entries for johnsonm

Found my advogato password today. The cookies had quit working and I had forgotten my password, and with no way to reset the password ("mail me my password") I was out of luck for nearly a year until I found that I had written it down when I created the account in a secure location, where I just happened to be looking and surprised myself.

Spent much of the weekend reading, partially George McDonald's Malcolm (in the original Scots) and partially an unpublished novel.

Most of yesterday and today I spent working on procps, getting ready for a new release. I could not believe how many of the bug reports I had queued were from people whose distributions still shipped the old version 2.0.2 -- 2.0.6 was released last November and fixed nearly every bug that continues to be reported. In the end, I told the polite ones to upgrade and the impolite bug reports I just canned.

Did some work on preparing a bank of IA-64 machines to be used as a compile farm.

Forgot to go to lunch...

Hmm. Learned about Cisco switch management a little yesterday. I'll see how much I remember when it comes time to change the configuration... Worked on solving cable routing problems without working myself into a hole. Built the wooden ladder rack and it ended up being much more flexible than the real thing, as I realized that I could use it for much more cable management than just running some wires overhead. I'm quite pleased. And it doesn't look like falling apart any time soon.

Today arrived at work to find that someone had cut a power cable (idiots with backhoes!) and we were subsisting on emergency power. That keeps the servers running, fortunately, but meant I wasted some time bringing up "non-essential" machines after power was restored.

Spent some time catching up on lad-comments email. I kind of lost track of it while I was in .nl and forgot to catch up with it when I got back. Oops. The errata is now up to date. Now I start on patches for procps that have accumulated over the past few months. Time for a new release.

Rain yesterday evening shortened the fireworks display. Had fun anyway. Went to a 4th of July get-together with some church group friends, and got a chance to meet a few new people, and also to talk again to folks I had not talked to much for too long. Also did five loads of laundry...

Read almost all of the printed version of Grokking the GIMP yesterday when I wasn't watching fireworks, eating bratwurst, or doing laundry. Definitely worth purchasing. Unfortunately, that was one of the books that fatbrain mangled somewhat. :-(

Today I worked some in the test lab, working on setting up the kernel and HA development/test areas. This included finding some strips of plywood that will make an excellent ladder-rack substitute; our cool facilitities dude is going to bring in his cordless saw tomorrow and I'll make up some real ladder. Today I just used some pieces of metal and some screws to make clips that go on the end of the boards to hold them onto the rack with the switch in it. When I'm finished it will be really cool. ("Trust me, this is a good idea. I know what I'm doing!")

Some people might use this as an opportunity to complain about low-budget lab equipment setups, but I absolutely love to jury-rig things, so I'm abosolute enjoying myself. (Sorry, Bryce, I couldn't resist ;-) In all honesty, real ladder rack would not attach terribly well to the rest of the equipment (for example, the wire rack opposite the real rack) so a custom solution is probably the best thing in any case.

It looks like I'm going to be learning a bit about Cisco switch management as well so that I can set up the local switch for equipment on these racks. Always something new to learn.

I'm brilliant. Simply brilliant. Proof? I forgot to bring a phone cord with me when I took this business trip, and so I didn't, um, waste time with email while I was gone. :-)

Came back to find that several of the books I ordered from fatbrain showed up. Unfortunately, their packaging methods leave a lot to be desired; they damage the spine by shoving the packing bill all folded up way into the book, and their single-book packaging with the flexible sticky corrogated cardboard can easily damage paperbacks.

Also came back to discover a loud server machine installed in my cube. Clearly, msw is trying to get rid of me... (In all fairness, he has to put up with the noise, too...)

I should plug Mutopia because it is so cool. An on-line free music (real music, none of this wussy rock-n-roll stuff!) archive I've been frequenting lately. My keyboard is finally getting some use again as I've been rediscovering my lost piano skills. Some of the pieces I've been enjoying include Bach's Wohltemperierte Clavier I, Prelude I (BWV 846), Carcassi's Etude 15 for Guitar (still playable as a keyboard piece), and Clementi's Sonatinas Op. 36, Nos. 1 and 3. A few of the pieces I printed out have turned out to be well beyond my current abilities, including Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag and a Bach Fugue or two. I miss having a real piano, but maybe if I stick with this for a while I'll save up for a piano.

jpick: the mirror problems were caused by the same BART-sponsored cable burn as all the rest of the bay area phone problems. FYI.

Not a lot of computing this weekend, just a bit of email. Watched Chicken Run. I didn't get all the Star Trek references because I've only watched a few episodes of Star Trek in my life; it didn't even occur to me that the engineer-chicken being Scottish was a Star Trek reference until after the movie was over. I am continually amazed by what they will do with claymation.

Found some references to George MacDonald's works online and started reading an HTML version of David Elginbrod from the CCEL. This requires learning to follow a fairly heavy Scots dialect. It takes some learning (it's hard to read "get" as "way", for example) but repays the reader with rich sound. Found more George MacDonald here.

I have decided that reading books on the screen is OK for short periods of time, but I want to read them on paper as a general rule. I ordered about $200 worth of MacDonald's books from fatbrain (so far, Amazon's patent policies have lost them about $600 worth of my business); unfortunately, all but one of the books were out of stock, so that order will trickle in over the next few months; I expect.

Yesterday evening, I was torn between going to an outdoor symphony concert and a gospel/hymn sing at church. The sing won; I listen to classical music all the time, I don't like the heat, and I love to sing.

Today I'm preparing for a short trip by trying to get things done that have been sitting around for far too long.

Hmm. I appear to have forgotten to write a diary entry yesterday. I walked into the test lab and got shanghaied into a project without even going to my desk, and then the project absorbed time imperceptibly, and I accidentally stood a friend up for lunch. Oops! :-(

Today will be a catch-up day. I've got a bunch of things that I have promised to write for people, so it's time to sit down and get to work.

21 Jun 2000 (updated 12 Mar 2004 at 19:36 UTC) »

Co-loc got their act together (turns out there was a routing problem that was masked by the IP problem) and the errata was pushed and announced. Now we just wait for the mailing lists to churn through.

Did a few updates to the current development version of the kernel package.

I'm investigating digital photo printing services such as ofoto, shutterfly, and photoaccess. A bunch of these services try to convince you to install their proprietary software to upload your pictures; one of them wants to replace your camera communications software with their proprietary package which "with one click" uploads your picture to them to print. They also post-process your image based on the camera you have in order to get better color, but they make no mention of white balance settings; my camera (at least) has several different white balance settings, including the default automatic correction. I wonder how this service tries to compensate for automatic white balance? I could send them one of my pictures that looks really washed out and which I can't seem to correct in the gimp, and see what they make of it... But in general, I'm rather leary of "don't worry, we magically correct everything for you" services.

Today was, I hope, the last firefighting day for at least a short while. We finished the last QA cycle on the new kernel and are pushing it out to the ftp sites. The fact that our co-loc accidentally assigned one of our ftp servers' IPs to someone else's machine as well (oops!) has slowed that process down a little (grrrrr!), but I expect that to get cleared up shortly.

In odd moments during the day when I don't find myself actively fighting fires (i.e. while I wait for the build servers to finish compiling or for packages to push out to the world) I'm making sense of the kernel team's area in the test lab. This involves building racks (real racks and bread racks) and re-wiring the whole mess. No matter how neat the wiring was in the first place, moving machines in and out adds entropy to the system, and pretty soon you have no idea which machine is connected to which port of the KVM switch, and tracing network and power cables becomes a puzzle. As much as I enjoy puzzles and untangling cords, I'm ready to put this in good order.

19 Jun 2000 (updated 12 Mar 2004 at 19:34 UTC) »

Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote one of these. That's because I was working on IA-64 (Merced, Itanium, whatever) and wasn't sure what Intel's NDA allowed me to say about what I was doing. Fortunately, that's all changed. I did have fun doing the IA-64 work; the process was (as one might expect) similar to what I experienced when I bootstrapped early Linux versions (0.03, 0.10, etc.) on the x86 platform.

I then disappeared off to The Netherlands for nearly two months while my wife attended a short school in symbolic dynamics (her area of mathematical expertise), and I worked remotely on ACPI again. I discovered what it is like to have a metered internet connection, and came to value the U.S.'s flat rate local calling areas. While I was there, I kept a rather detailed diary of my work and play. This includes a few photos; I have hopes that some time I'll have time to go through and add more photos from my collection.

I've discovered that I have fairly naturally slipped into the role of an interface person between the kernel hackers and the user-space folks here at Red Hat. Sometimes I answer questions myself, and sometimes I play traffic cop and direct people towards the right other people to answer their questions. One of my strengths is knowing the difference between questions I can answer and questions I can't answer... I also tend to be the one asked to find slack to do one-time tasks that desperately need to be done. That suits me.

As my other tasks allow, I am still working on ACPI. There are some interesting problems here, many of which involve internal politics within the companies that own the ACPI "standard". ACPI is incredibly broken; if there were any other option I would be campaigning to throw ACPI away. I could write (indeed, have written) screeds explaining how broken ACPI is. However, the two important things that keep me going are that there is no realistic hope of replacing it, and that it is better than the alternative in the power management space (APM).

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