Older blog entries for mascot (starting at number 33)

aes: hey, that should have been in my diary entry ;-)

Yes, I have been offered a place to read Computer Science at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I've just been too busy to tell Advogato :-/ .


follower: Thanks for the pointer to FastMail; I'll certainly look into that. Their free service obviously doesn't have the features of Port995, but for a small one-off payment it seems I can get a decent service.

I haven't quite decided how I'm going to organise my e-mail yet. I need to be able to pick up new mail on the move, but I keep a fairly large archive of past mail at home. Ideally my home server would download new mail from my IMAP server, but leave a copy there, without touching the 'New' flag (so it will still download mail I've read via the Webmail interface). I can't think of a way to do this (I don't think Fetchmail supports this - it uses the 'New' flag to mark whether it's already fetched a message). I believe Fetchmail can do this with POP3, by keeping a list of message UIDs it's downloaded - anyone know whether you can do this with IMAP? It wasn't possible last time I checked.

I might have to settle with accessing my INBOX folder via IMAP across the Internet from home - not ideal, since my connection is fairly slow.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, wait, it's after midnight (here in England), so in theory it's not Christmas any more. But a Merry Christmas to those of you in lesser time zones ;-)

Where has all the time gone?

All that time I decided I had over the Christmas holidays... all these projects I was going to do... I haven't done a single one. Where has the past week and a half gone? Oh well, I'm sure I'll have time over the remaining couple of weeks [famous last words...].

Let's see... stuff to do...

  • Write "e-mail helpdesk" script for the Intranet I've written - of course, this should only take ten minutes or so, but I still haven't done it...
  • Do more coding on MyAddressBook - I had a load of ideas and bugs to fix, but they never happened.
  • Tidy up my room :-) Erm... what colour was my carpet again? I seem to have lost it beneath heaps of assorted stuff.
  • Work out what I did with my partitions; I'm sure I've got another distro hanging around in a partition in some obscure corner of my hard disk... this distro hasn't been in my GRUB menu for a while, but I might have a boot disk for it. (That's the problem with 60Gb hard disks - so big you can lose entire operating systems in it...)
  • Find out why Gentoo's NVidia module compilation pretends to apply a patch to make it work with 2.5.x kernels, but yet it doesn't work. (I'd like to try out 2.5.x, but then again, I'd like X to work too.)
  • Fix my e-mail - MyRealBox (my current free provider) seems to be introducing random four-hour delays in my e-mail. This is very annoying since I was trying to test a box to see if it had SMTP access, by e-mailing myself, and the mails didn't appear to get through. So I assumed it was broken and spent ages trying to work out why. Then, hours later, the original test messages arrived.... <sigh>. I'm thinking of moving to Port995 (the company, not the POP3/SSL port... and not free) - anyone used them? They use Linux, so hopefully they should be stable at least. And Squirrelmail, my favourite Webmail program.
  • Revise for my Physics exam shortly after I return to school... :-(

There's probably something else, but I'm too tired to remember it right now. Goodnight.

thom: thanks for the hint about module-init-utils; I've now installed the package by that name on Gentoo, but I haven't had the chance to reboot into the other kernel to try it. (Really need to look into usermode linux sometime...)

Gentoo's warnings were slightly scary - they implied that module-init-tools only worked with 2.5.x kernels, not 2.4.x, so I'd have to have two versions of insmod/modprobe etc. floating around. However, based on a bit of experimenting, the new module-init-tools appear to work fine with the older kernels. Please tell me if you know otherwise... :-)

At last. Finally, a holiday. A lot has happened in the past two months since I last wrote here, but unforunately not much of that is what I'd call interesting.

Well, let's see... at school, my form teacher / maths teacher has vanished. For about a month everyone claimed not to know why, but recently it's been revealed that he was suspended. Although for what, no-one will tell us...

University admissions... finally, no more interviews!! I've got offers from four out of six choices so far, with news on the other two expected within a month. The last interview was last week - and that was Cambridge, the important one. I think it went quite well, especially the subject-specific (computer science) interview. The problems they asked weren't too bad, and I seemed to have a common interest in electronics with one interviewer.

Programming - the Intranet Menu I mentioned a couple of months ago is getting considerably bigger than I expected. It's getting all sorts of nifty features, like the ability to have Roaming Users (it usually bases a menu item on your IP address, but as a roaming user, you can make the system display the menu for your usual IP address even if you're not actually at that address at the moment), and others. Yes, it's GPLed, but the source isn't on the net at the moment (because I haven't got round to removing all the branding). Even so, it's probably fairly specialised, so I doubt many people will want to use it.

Linux - tried the 2.5.51 kernel this morning (just before 2.5.52 came out... aargh, another long download beckons) and found that it refuses even to load modules (modprobe complains "Feature not implemented"). Strange. I'll have to upgrade and see if it was a minor blip. I can't see anything wrong with my config.

Er, oops. This morning I typed 'halt' into the wrong window, and brought down my server :-P My uptime! Noooo!

Well, you know you haven't rebooted in a while if your bootup scripts don't actually work any more. It took a fair amount of hacking and two further reboots before the thing came back up again. Apparently, mount doesn't like me running

mount / -o remount,rw

any more, no idea why (no, I haven't deleted the root fs from my fstab!). But this works (or at least, it seems to):

mount /dev/root / -o remount,rw

Ah well...

Ten days?! Is it really ten days since I last posted here? Seems like only yesterday! Oh well...

Let's see now... what's happened within the last 10 days...

  • MyAddressBook v0.1.1 - this is a security release, which mainly fixes some HTML quoting (i.e. it does some now!) plus a couple of other big-ish bugs. No new features; they're waiting for 0.2.0 . On the slight chance that someone downloaded 0.1.0, though, you're very much recommended to upgrade to 0.1.1 (or the latest CVS version).
  • Intranet Menu - wrote a MySQL-and-PHP-based intranet menu system for our favourite supermarket company (i.e. my Dad's work). It does some IP address / subnet checking, so machines only get menu items relevant to them (i.e. on machines in stores with 'Existing Web Based App X', that will get displayed on their menu). Now if this was for me, I probably wouldn't bother with writing an admin site, and I'd do it all via phpMyAdmin. But in this case, it's got to be User Friendly (or at least, Non-Unixey, Non-MySQLey IT Admin Friendly) so I had to write an extensive admin interface. The admin interface is probably about 20-30 times the size of the front-end :-)

    This is hardly a large project - I wrote it in odd half-hours here and there, in evenings and at lunch-times - but it marks another conversion to Linux. It looks like my menu system is set to roll out across their WAN within the next few months, served from a Linux server centrally - and this will be this company's first on-site Linux server. Yes, really. (Incidentally, they had two off-site servers at a local ISP, hosting their web site (before they moved to a Managed Service, and NT.... grrr....) - and I set up one (the firewall), and knew root's password and performed routine administration (and on one case, emergency administration) on both. They really should start paying me for this.)
  • 486-based Debian box - it turns out that that box might be useful after all, since The Powers That Be were persuaded that it probably was a good idea to turn on IMAP, otherwise they'd have to buy thousands of new machines just to run their snazzy Java-based iNotes client.
  • University admissions - just like buses, I wait ages for acknowledgement of my application, then three arrive at once :-) At least something's happening... although I've got to wait till next January before I find out where I'm going. And, for the record, I'm the 4020th person in England to send in their application this year. It pays to be before the rush...

Resuming downloads

Grr.... I've been trying to download the latest Mozilla source code (30Mb) in chunks over my ISDN line. Fine, except what I didn't realise was that Mozilla use multiple DNS records to load-balance between a few servers which contained different versions of the file!. (I was downloading the "latest source", and one server had a different idea about what "latest" meant.) So I managed to download a stripey tarball... a section of one file, then a section of the second, then back to the first again... and so on. Oh well... I'm going to download using the server's IP address in future.

Moving goalposts

Remember my attempt to make a 486-based Linux box which I've been talking about for a few days? Well, apparently (now they tell me!) it's got to run Lotus (IBM) iNotes - a Java-based, IE-specific Lotus Notes client, which needs a 400MHz processor. So I won't get that on Linux on my 486 then.

Actually, it might end up useful, if I can persuade them to turn on Notes's IMAP server. But the chances of that are rather close to zero. ("We have paid for iNotes! We *will* use iNotes!" etc. Sigh.)

Electronics homework (lots)

Well, I like electronics, but there is a limit! It didn't help that I only rememered it fairly late. No time for further hacking...


Stevey: I was using Konsole, which does seem to resize when you run 'reset'. xterm doesn't. That's useful to know; thanks for the pointer.

salmoni: a novel way to block ads (quite literally!). I'll try that. Thanks. (Unfortunately, it doesn't reclaim the wasted space for browsing...)


Oops, I found some security holes in MyAddressBook today (not dissimilar to those which were until recently in Advogato!). They're mostly fixed now, thanks to PHP's very useful htmlspecialchars function.


I'll have to be careful what I link to from Advogato in future. It turns out my university personal statement got spidered by Google. This is not good. People (presumably those who, like me, need to write a good personal statement to enter university) were finding it by searching for "personal statement computer science" amongst other things. I just hope no-one was stupid enough to copy it... :-(

Whiptail, and ponderings on C

Thanks for the Whiptail hack, Stevey, that's great. Only one minor problem - because I have to run reset after I've finished, my terminal window jumps back to being 80 columns wide. Never mind, though, I can live with that - definitely a huge improvement over not displaying anything :-)

I suppose I'd better start learning a useful language myself soon... I don't think I'll be able to get by without C for much longer. The reason I haven't learnt C beyond the basics yet is because C is so fiddly. I don't want to have to compile every time I run! I probably need to find a decent IDE that I like...

Still shrinking Debian...

In my ongoing quest to shrink a Debian install, I've decided to ditch Metacity for that old favourite, WindowMaker. WindowMaker is a lot smaller (since it doesn't need Gnome) - and a huge amount faster on a 486. This has saved me a lot of hard disk space.

Browsers: Phoenix was far too slow (a number of seconds between typing text and it appearing), so I've gone for Opera. Shame about the adverts though.

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