Older blog entries for richieb (starting at number 55)

27 Nov 2001 (updated 7 Dec 2001 at 03:07 UTC) »

Well, back to work after a 4 day weekend. The weather in the north-east has been rather warm for the end of November.

Last Friday was a nice day and I took my airplane on a short cross-country flight. That's flight that's at least 50 nautical miles away from the home airport. I visited Kutztown, Pennsylvania for no other reason that I have never been there before. Also the direct route to Kutztown was away from any controlled airspace, so I didn't have to worry about navigating around all those restricted zones I cannot fly into since September 11th.

I haven't done a cross-country flight to a new place in a while, as I tend to go to the same places all the time, and I forgot how much fun it is to navigate with the sectional chart and the compass. Of course, I also used the Loran and VORs to keep track of my position, but they weren't really necessary.

Navigation during flight shows you that math works. It's simple trig and basic rate problems, but it gets you from one point on the globe to another. Amazing!

When flying into Pennsylvania I get to see some mountains - not big, but real mountains. It can be little scary, for a flat-lander pilot like me, to cross even small ranges of mountains. I can't imagine what it would be like to fly in real big mountains.

Saturday morning was foggy and then it got bit windy so I didn't fly.

Early Sunday, the weather was nicer, with little wind, so I flew a bit in out J-3 Cub. Since stronger winds were forecasted for later that morning I decided to just stay and practice takeoffs and landings. One can never do enough practice in the Cub. Out of the five landings I did (takes about 10 minutes to go around the pattern) one was pretty good, the others just fair. Not much bouncing.

The Cub is very light, so if there is any significant wind (i.e. wind stronger than 10 knots) I would avoid flying it - unless I had lots of recent cross-wind practice.

Other than that I haven't done much this past weekend - except I gave in and started reading the first book in the "Harry Potter" series. I already saw the movie.

14 Nov 2001 (updated 14 Nov 2001 at 03:48 UTC) »

I finally put a larger disk in my music server in the basement. It's only 6 GIG, which should hold about 100 CDs worth of MP3 data. The /music file system is visible as an NFS on my home network, so now I can play these files through any computer on the network.

I guess I should try to configure Samba as well, so the files are visible from Windows machines.

Meanwhile I hooked up my laptop to the stereo and now I can set up long play lists and play things from the computer, via the the laptop.

Seems to work fine, as long there are no high loads on the network...

I also added the Abra project to the list of my projects on Advogato. Abra is a framework that we developed at the failed startup I was at for the last year and we were able to release it as open source project. Check it out: Abra Project

I finally finished setting up all my home machines. Well, nearly. I have drive to install in my basement server. I'm planning to put much of my CD collection, encoded to MP3s, on this machine. This way I won't waste space on my laptop.

I gave my son the old Pentium 200MHz machine for his games. This makes him spend more time in his room, rather than my office.

I'm still reading Emacs Lisp manual and playing with some lisp packages. I'm also getting little more into Eiffel. I was thinking about adding some support for Eiffel debugger to the Emacs Eiffel mode, but the set of commands in SmallEiffel debugger is bit limited.

I also want to play with the OO-Browser Emacs package. Recently I had learned about Emacs Tags files and I've been using them at work. Cool stuff...

I've downloaded Red Hat 7.2 and I'm debating whether I should install it on my laptop. For one thing I want to get rid of the Windows partition - I don't use it at all. It's just a waste of 2 GIGs.

Today I printed out parts of the Emacs lisp manual, well actually it's the "Introduction the Emacs Lisp", and formally begun the reading. In the past I spent little too much time hacking Emacs lisp. I know Lisp enough to be dangerous, but to do more serious things in Emacs I need to have a firmer foundation. Plus, reading the manual is more fun than trying to puzzle out some code.

I already learned few useful things from the early chapters (eg. the difference between interactive and non-interactive functions).

I have two reasons for doing this. First, at work I'm the office Emacs "guru" - so I really need to be able to do little more than rebind people's keys. Especially, I'm struggling with JDE and JDEbug packages, which I'd like to use, but I'm having trouble setting them up.

Second, I'd like to see a much expanded Emacs mode for SmallEiffel. In particular a nice debugger interface would be cool. So, I want to work on extending current Eiffel mode .

And I guess doing some coding in Lisp is good exercise for the brain - kind of like doing a 10K run.

Now that my job situation has stabilized and my workload is more reasonable, I again feel like getting back to some open source Eiffel projects.

I have been playing a little with XEmacs JDE and JDEbug packages. These provide a nice IDE for Java within Emacs. However, I can't seem to be able to get these to work properly just yet. This I need for work, as we work remotely on a Sun machine that's in Boston and any graphical IDE (like Jbuilder or Netbeans) simply doesn't work over a wide area network (way too slow!).

Anyway, seeing how nice the Java mode is in Emacs, I thought it would be nice to extend the Eiffel mode to allow compiling and debugging Eiffel - now that SmallEiffel has a debugger. There are already two different Eiffel modes, one of which already has the compilation things in it. This project would require a more serious dive into Emacs lisp programming.

Meanwhile the eGTK project is showing some signs of life. Another developer has become interested and wants to help in building eGTK for the new, future version of GTK. This time around the plan is to generate a lot the tedious code we wrote by hand before. Perhaps this time we will be able to generate a single set of bindings that works with all the compilers...

Since the last time eGTK was worked on Eiffel language acquired "agents" - basically routine objects, so that call backs can probably be done much nicer. Before we used the COMMAND pattern, which is bit tedious to code.

Now, I just need to sleep less....

I set up dual booting on my new machine: Windows 2000 and Linux. I also figured out the problem with the CD writer. It doesn't work at higher speeds (the 16X), but works fine at 8X. So now I can burn CDs, multi-session and all. Just to try it I made a CD of all my Larry Coryell CDs.

So now, I just have to move the files from the old machine to the new one, create accounts for everyone and we can do the switch.

Had a weird morning today. On the drive to work I hit a deer. It's still dark at 6:00AM, and I saw the deer standing on the side of the road and just as I came near it it darted right in front of the car. Fortunately I wasn't going fast, I slammed on my breaks and stopped, but I hit the poor thing just enough to knock it over. The deer got up and ran away and there were no dents on my car.

Well, what a difference a day makes. Having had some time to think about what I was doing I solved my installed problems.

Trick number one: when installing Red Hat use "fdisk" to set up partitions, this way no objections are made about things being above 1024th cylinder. Since I'll be using floppies at first, and then Windows 2000 boot manager it doesn't matter where the root partition is.

In Windows to format a large driver you have to choose the type of file system. Windows defaults to FAT, naturally, which doesn't work above 2 Gig. But rather than giving you a warning or picking a reasonable default Windows tries to do the stupid thing, fails and just says "it didn't work". "Professional" indeed!

Now that I have both OSes installed, I have to set up the boot manager, then install all the sofware I need and finally fight with the CD-writer (it seemed to have software problems with creation of multi-session CDs).

I had some time this weekend to play with my new machine. I got a second hard drive (40Gig for $100!) and a CD burner. But I'm having trouble configuring Windows 2000 and Linux together. Linux needs a boot partition on the low part of the first drive (at least RH 7.1 install wants it that way) and Windows wants to be on the first partition.

When I defined three partitions, one for Windows, one for Linux /boot and third big data partition for Windows, Windows was not able to format it. I don't know why!

There are no error messages to be found - only "Sorry I can't do it". Grrrr....

I need to come up with partitioning that works, but it takes time to fiddle with all these installs.

It's Saturday. I finally had a regular work week of five days. Last time I worked five days in a row was at the end of June. My summer was crazy, because the company I was working for ran out of money and fired most of the employees - except the core tech team. This included me.

However, since there was no money to pay us - we would come to the office when we felt like and after a while you stop feeling like. In retrospect I think that the people who were laid off earlier were better off, because they went to look for new jobs sooner.

I was lucky though, that through connections, I got another job pretty quickly. Moreover the new company hired the four person team, so I still get to work with my friends.

I started the new job right after Labor Day and Tuesday September 11th was the end of my first week there. Then all hell broke loose in Manhattan...

So, after all this time it's nice to be back to a regular working week.

Oh, yeah. I want to make T-shirt for myself that says I was a Chief Architect at an Internet startup and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.

Meanwhile, I got another computer to use as our home Windows/game machine. This one came from a fire sale at a startup that died. It's a nice dual Pentium III machine. Today I installed Windows 2000 on it. Tomorrow I'll add Linux and set up dual booting. I've been going to these computer shows to pick up cheap parts - I got the soundcard for this computer there.

This new machine will become the new game machine for my kids and also I may use it for some development - if my laptop is too slow.

Win 2000 install was pretty easy - almost as easy as Red Hat Linux.

I found out this week that a saleman from DEC I knew long time ago was killed at WTC....

24 Sep 2001 (updated 24 Sep 2001 at 00:53 UTC) »

Today is Sunday. I went flying again. First time since September 11th. The airspace around New York is all closed to me, as I'm not capable going IFR. I don't want to fly there anyways.

Today was a hazy day. Yesterday is rained. The air was nice and smooth.

I saw Lew, our former partner in the airplane, at the airport. We went up around the patch once with Lew at the controls. He just came back from France where he visited Normandy.

I've not done much coding at home. I can't build up enough enthusiasm lately...

I'm trying to get Webmail to work with Resin, but I'm running into some trouble. I don't feel like debugging it just yet, although I can see where the problem is.

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