2008-11-29

If it ain't broke, no one has tried to fix it yet!

I own an Acer Travelmate C100 tablet PC with the Silicon Motion SM720 Lynx3DM card that came with it. It is currently running Ubuntu 8.10. Or trying to, at least. I had once tried to run Fedora 9 on it, but it experienced issues with its X server. I didn't have time at the moment to sort that out, so I tried Ubuntu 8.04 again and things worked.

Now I've upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10 and I am experiencing the same issues. A laptop that used to work just fine now encounters the following error, and X refuses to start.

AddScreen/ScreenInit failed for driver 0

I initially tried a variety of difference changes to my Xorg.conf file which did not help my situation. So, I did some investigation, some toying with source code, filed bug 18816 at FreeDesktop.org and wrote to the Xorg mailing list. Franscisco Jerez took interest, indicating that the issue with my driver in Ubuntu 8.10 was probably fixed in git. It seems to have been, but other issues continued to exist. I also have to add the following to my /etc/X11/xorg.conf file:

Option "UseBIOS" "off"

After this, my screen displayed, but was out of centre and flickered. He provided another patch for that. Afterward, I could start X after a fresh power cycle or resume and have a fully functional X server again. Yay!

However, now that I'm using 8.10, I notice a bunch of lag. It seems that when some dialogues open, the screen freezes for 3 or 4 seconds and the content of the dialogue frequently remains just white. I tried disabling acceleration in my xorg.conf (using 'Option "NoAccel"') and in a brief session after this, I didn't get the pauses any more (but acceleration was missing in obvious situations, such as moving a translucent terminal window). I'll try to better test whether XAA acceleration is causing the slownes. Hopefully Francisco or another developer might take an interest in that problem too, if XAA seems the likely culprit :D

So, my upgrade to Ubuntu 8.10 has been fairly painful. My tablet's portable CD-ROM isn't very reliable for reading CDs for installation, and the tablet doesn't boot from USB, so I usually install Linux on it over the network. This makes it difficult to try a different distro. Oh, and my wireless doesn't work anymore. I historically use a Netgear prism2 USB wireless adapter. Try to figure that one out to. So, the moral of the story? Don't upgrade ;)

Francisco Jerez is awesome and I (and others) should totally buy him as much non-alcoholic beverage of his choice as he ever wants.

X.org badness

I own an Acer Travelmate C100 tablet PC with the Silicon Motion SM720 Lynx3DM card that came with it. It is currently running Ubuntu 8.10. Or trying to, at least. I had once tried to run Fedora 9 on it, but it experienced issues with its X server. I didn't have time at the moment to sort that out, so I tried Ubuntu 8.04 again and things worked.

Now I've upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10 and I am experiencing the same issues. A laptop that used to work just fine now encounters the following error, and X refuses to start.

AddScreen/ScreenInit failed for driver 0

I initially tried a variety of difference changes to my Xorg.conf file which did not help my situation.

2008-11-23

Reading the Internet

Disclaimer: What I read and my comments on them (as well as my posts on this blog) are not particularly interesting.

There are a number of websites that I like to read. Thanks to the advent of RSS and Atom feeds, I can subscribe to a feed of their latest posts and read them in a single location: an RSS Aggregator of some sort, like Google Reader. You may be reading my blog via such a medium yourself.

A very sad thing about such aggregators is that they usually do not preserve the pretty theme of the page from which the posts are coming from. I really enjoy the aesthetic I've designed for Kosmokaryote, but if you read it from Google Reader, your concept of Kosmokaryote is probably somewhat dissociated from the simple design I've laboured for so long on.

ANYWAY, the point of this post is to note that, for efficiency reasons, I now do all my Internet reading on Friday night/Saturday morning/Saturday afternoon. I usually have accumulated about 600 items to read and it takes several hours to go through them all. At the top of my blog (which you would not see via an RSS Reader!), there is a list of the last 6 items that I have read. At the bottom of the 6-item list is a Read More link which takes you to my actual Shared Items page of mine from Google Reader. It has the actual value, as it features the comments I sometimes put on the things I read. While the things I read might be insignificant to you, sometimes the comments might be :) I generally read technical and open source blogs, a linguistic and a psychology blog, webcomics, a professor at a small Christian college's blog, and some Green propaganda.

In the future, I think I will try to rig up something that takes the shared items and converts the comments into blog posts with a link to their original item. Since my comments are usually short, I'll probably aggregate them into single Weekend Reading entries that have a list of comments with their links. Mwahaha.

So, if you're interested in what I read or my comments on them; go forth. You may also subscribe to a feed of my shared items, and then avoid seeing the pretty theme I selected for the Shared Items page, boo hoo hoo

Self-sufficient Me

Here is a cut video from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries of Japan advocating self-sufficiency in their food industry to increase their food security. Apparently, about 60% of the food they consume is imported, with the oils and meat that has been introduced into their diet increasing in price because of the increased demand on feeds like corn by the biofuel industry. The economics of resources is interesting. Anyway, it looks like the Sims and Sim City a little.

Ultimately, I think I expect higher efficiency food production through genetic engineering of plant crops :) I am also hoping in vitro meat largely displaces meat from live animals. I was linked to the video via a page that I think would take it as advocating buying local as being more environmentally friendly. I think I enjoy exotic, non-local foods too much to practise that all the time, though. Also, I think it's generally believed becoming a vegetarian who doesn't eat local has a much more significant impact than eating local :D, so I'm ahead of the curve.

2008-11-21

Learning All Around

I do not write enough about my Kendo. I am practising with the UBC Kendo Club in Vancouver twice a week. Despite having done approximately 2 years of Kendo during high school, I am indeed a beginner again. I specifically need to remember to keep my grip on my shinai when I raise it and to keep my left arm straight strike. I more or less learnt my first kata to-day. I think it is one I had actually learned during high school, but I didn't learn it very well then. That was also shortly before I stopped attending. (Work and University, you know.) On Thursdays, practise for beginners is shorter, and the more senior students practise after us. So, I usually remain behind and watch the seniors. Many of them are quite good. Since a few are to be graded next week, Harding-sensei spent the end of the lesson working on kata, so I mimicked the one being introduced to a few near where I observed. Kendo is easier to follow now. I remember when Underwood-sensei took us to a tournament in Etobicoke and I had difficulty seeing, or understanding, which kendoka scored a point. I felt more confident about my judgement when I last got to observe keiko, though.

A friend of a friend talks to me about computer science questions occasionally. He is my junior in that regard. It's very nice to find someone interested to the degree that he is, as few of my peers ever seemed to be. To-day, he had a calculus question which I couldn't immediately help him with beyond suggesting that he was wrong. I think I found out why. While I'm glad that my "intuition" helped protected me from error, I am quite alarmed at my initial inability to comprehend the details involved or to recognise the error. Perhaps I should practise some mathematics every day?

I'd say I'd start practising calculus, but I have a few other initiatives underway:

  • Good Boyfriendliness (apparently, I still warrant poems on birch found on keyboard :D)
  • Japanese (presently, Hiragana)
  • German (presently, Irish folk tales in German)
  • Personal software development (presently, Gender Guesser)
  • Open Source software development (stalled, mostly, but to some degree my X.org bug solving right now)
  • Kendo (:D)

I hope to add the violin to that. I own one, but I am awful at it. I require lessons and it requires restringing.

2008-11-18

Gotta Cut Something

So, I have at last finished reading a prominent novel: 1984. By finished reading, however, I do not mean that I have read the thing to its end. No, I have read it to a few pages into Part II when the protagonist and another character establish a new connection. That's it for me. Its themes have been repeated so often since its publication that I am not overly concerned about missing out on them or the messages they can convey. I think I only stand to miss out on the specific details that can help characterise those themes in the minds of others. My girlfriend likes to make apropos references via events in the book. It was one of the reasons that I began reading it. However, I have limited time and many projects to fill it with. Being depressed by a book whose ending I partly know and whose valuable themes are not totally foreign to me does not seem like a great expenditure of my time.

It is satisfying to be able to accept that I do not want to nor do I need to continue doing certain things. Reading books are great examples. I've started on many a terribly boring book before and felt as though, having started something, I ought to finish it. If I had a problem where I started a dozen things and finished not one, then I'd be concerned. But seeing as I seem to be fairly productive with my time, I think it is not dangerous but rather just great! to give up on something that seems so fruitless. Previously, if I laboured away at a book that I did not enjoy, I might not read anything else for months (or a year!) at a time, as I laboured painfully through it. I wish I'd discovered this ability sooner. Less time misspent.

My time is of great value to me. I'm saturated with things I want to do. It's good no longer feeling bored. :) One concern of my mine is my work. I enjoy the work itself (at least when I agree with the project I'm working on, which was once not the case :|), but it makes me sad, the feeling that the time is being invested into a blackhole. The work we do is not very universally applicable, which software frequently isn't, and it's not universally accessible (and I don't mean for the differently abled) nor available. I have to focus on the benefit that my work confers onto the relative few individuals that get to use it, and how my efforts can improve their daily life. In the future, I hope to be able to contribute to the world in a greater fashion. Affect more people and in as timeless as manner as possible.

I've been glad to work on my project Gender Guesser recently. Really, I end up working on it almost exclusively on the bus. However, it's still turned into something quite useful. I'll be uploading it once I retrieve it from my laptop that I tried to upgrade to Ubuntu 8.10. (As could be expected, upgrading a Ubuntu installation ends in the fiery death of X - what else is new?)

Anyway, my girlfriend and I finished carving a pumpkin about 2 hours ago. It is belated, but if you have a pumpkin and a knife, what else are ya gonna do? Gotta cut something!

2008-11-17

2008-11-16

Time To Justify Your Words

I have finally instituted a bunch of changes I had wanted to make to KosmoKaryote. One of them is the path breakup in the header. I wonder whether I can get a more KosmoKaryote-ish directory page set up.

Also, there was far too much colour on this page already, so I have fixed that, too. Links and headers are now grey like the highlands. I hope it won't be too hard to identify links for what they are now.

For quotations, I now have a nice left border, and the quotee has their own div class. Fun.

Everything is also wider now. That seemed to fix a problem I was having with commenting, but not for a friend. I can now see captchas again- hurrah. It also allows me to now justify my text without it looking so terribly deformed. Comments aren't aligned, and I don't know that I will do that.

It's very rewarding having had/found/made the time to finally do work so long in waiting. Yay.

Hail Google

Google makes my life materially better. It is fundamentally more enjoyable for having it on-line. To-day, I discovered the greatly expanded profile service: me. You ask, why bother? Don't you already have a Facebook profile? Yes, and I dislike it. It is locked within Facebook. It's also not quite as simple :) Facebook changes a bit more and more away from the profile aspect, and more towards communication. I'd prefer it if that were more public, too. I know people enjoy their privacy, and privacy is necessary for many things. I fear that someone will be able to answer those painfully simple "Reset your password" questions now :) I hope they all only send the answer back to my alternate e-mail :D

Google's profile page was originally much simpler and was mostly accessible via Google Reader. As you may have noted, I now have a Google Reader feed at the top of my blog. Clicking "Read more..." (which I intend on trying to change to "Excerpts and Comments") reveals my Google Reader Shared Items page, along with comments I've made on some of them. (Traditionally, short comments.)

I'm not sure if I've ever noted it here, but I use a Twitter-like service called identi.ca. I prefer it because of its open source foundation.

I will next try to get a stream of my public PicasaWeb photos here. I have been remiss in uploading recently, though.

Cheers, Internets.

2008-11-15

Comments away?

Where have my comments go? I have a friend who reports not having their comments go through. Just now when I looked, I didn't even see the comment box. This post is merely for testing commenting.

More things which I have done

Hello. Here comes another brief posting in list form!

  • Met Nausicaa. She was feeding gulls doritos off a ferry. Imagine being a few metres above sea level, moving steadily forward, with a flock of gulls flying parallel to to your course, a couple metres away, alternately swooping in to grab a dorito from your hand. Watch out for feces and sharp beaks.
  • Had another delicious eating at Pizza Hut, meeting a member of the Kingdom of Simafort en route who gave us directions was intimidated by my masculinity.
  • Upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10 on my Acer Travelmate C100 only to have X fail to come up. I am trying to debug the issue now.
  • Retrieved Belladonna (my Acer Aspire 5100 with the ... motherboard issues? It fails to detect the hard drive, but it's not the hard drive's fault: I can try a known good working one and still have the problem!) I'm running it off of a USB Live installation of Fedora 9. It's working better than I fear and a bit worse than I could have dreamed of. It boots really quickly; in under 20 seconds perhaps. However, when I accidentally filled up the overlay (which is misreported to Fedora as being almost 4 times larger than it is), the installation was ruined, and I had to re-make it.
  • I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show (film) in a theatre on Halloween with my girlfriend and a ferry friend. It was also tricky getting home, somewhat, as we were on the verge of not having running buses, or bus passes. That was rectified by a 7/11, which also fed us an Egg Salad sandwich. My girlfriend also made a variety of noises with a fellow there.
  • Earlier on Halloween night, I went Trick or Eat'ing with a pair of grapes and Wenda. My French Maid Magenta joined us later in the evening. I'm not used to fireworks on Halloween, but there were plenty of hooligans to introduce us to whizzy crack-bangs.
  • Acquired a 15" LCD screen from a work auction. I had also bid a ridiculous amount on a tablet PC that ended up going for still more. Sadly, I cannot seem to get Ubuntu to do more than mirror its screen to this alternative laptop. Sigh. I'll see if a coworker wants it after all.
  • My hands are greasy from taping stars to the sky.
  • It will be another bus ride home. I can't underrecommend Greyhounding across the country. It's terribly uncomfortable and the sights are blurred by filthy windows: it's awesome. I'm being sincere and not sarcastic. It's a lot of fun, stopping off at random places that you'd never consider visiting, driving between mountains, along Saskatchen planes of wheat, boring through the northern forests of Ontario (well, relatively northern), hugging the great lakes, and feeling chilled in Winnipeg. (Last May, there was still snow and ice in Winnipeg, and now we'll be going in December!)
  • I work too much. If I was better at "managing people's expectations" and not promising more than is reasonable, I'd probably be more comfortable in this regard.
  • Saw a James Bond double features: Casino Royale on Thursday at 9:30PM followed by Quantum of Solace on Friday at 12:00AM. It helps remind me to be a bit more confident about myself. It cost us a total of $4 for the seats: we had free passes from when we saw Batman's sequel earlier this year at the same theatre, and we used those for Quantum of Solace. Casino Royale only cost $2 per person. Consequently, to make up for the money saved, I purchased a Quantum of Solace Empire Combo thing. It's usually atrociously expensive, but it was only madly expensive since we had a $3 coupon from the Batman session as well. It was worth getting this amazing combo because it allowed us free refills of the popcorn and a reusable beverage cup. Having gotten both refilled, it was like getting the combo twice at half the price!
  • Sometimes I think I should have pursued CSIS.
  • Sadly, I missed two potential Kendo socials and two special Kendo practises last week due to overworkiness, and that makes me sad.
  • Comments apparently do not work here right now.

2008-11-09

Words schmeckt

There are all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynne Truss and John Humphrys than to write poems, love-letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs, shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings, but do they bubble and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to? Do they? I doubt it. They’re too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer’s less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind.

I notice that I am still tentative about right-clicking links. I grew semi-accustomed to Firefox occasionally crashed once upon a time when I did it. And now I am trained to feel apprehensive during the act. The same thing had happened with my laptop and my University's library's old book detectors at the door. It would variably set them off and irk me, and I would have to come and prove that it was indeed nothing more than my provocative laptop. It took me months to release the apprehension a year of alarming suspicion had taught me then.

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.