Mon, 18 May 2009

Hoe, hoe, hoe


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Mon, 16 Mar 2009

Geeky Anniversary

15 years ago today I created my first web page. Unfortunately this predates The Wayback Machine by a couple of years so there is no historic evidence to back up my claim. I just happen know because my Emacs told me. Digging through an old backup tarball revealed some html pages dated a week later. So today seems about right.

The home page was very simple and pretty much just mirorred the contents of my existing .plan. I can see in a tape inventory file that I have a copy of both files but I'm too lazy to hook up a DAT drive to restore them right now.

Reminiscing about this makes me wonder whether 15 years of web presence is enough. It certainly feels like it is. And common wisdom dictates that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime...

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Mon, 29 Dec 2008

Downtime

After working pretty much non-stop the last couple of months I decided to take a few days off ... well, everything ... but the internet in particular. Vanessa is visiting her family for Christmas. I stayed home with the cats, cooked some great food, drank lots of tea and read a bunch of books:

In the Beginning Was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson. I've read this before but stumbled upon it going through my books.
Across the Top of the World by James P. Delgado. About finding the Northwest Passage.
Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. Typography handbook.
Longitude by Dava Sobel. Descending from several generations of watchmakers I found this hugely interesting. It's about solving the navigational problem of finding the longitude by way of chronometers. And an interesting story of technological pragmatism and craftmanship vs. theroretical science. I bought this book a while ago and never found time to read it. Recommended!
The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual. I first read this when Emacs and I started dating in the early 90s. I am one of those people that uses Emacs for pretty much everything but I'm mostly a copy-and-paste Lisp programmer so it was good to revisit this book and tinker a bit with Lisp outside the scope of .emacs hacking.
The New New Thing by Michael Lewis. I inhaled this in a single reading session. It's about Jim Clark who started SGI, Netscape, etc. And about the .com bubble in general. I borrowed this book from Master Wilcox a while back and thought I'd better read it and give it back. Put both my time at SGI and our woes at Linuxcare in a whole new light. Especially so given that our interactions with Kleiner Perkins happened after the events described in the book.

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Thu, 18 Dec 2008

Outsmarting Dell: Fail

In my lab I have a Dell PowerEdge T300 that's been my main test machine for a while. It was bought with SATA and the smallest drive possible because I always netboot my test boxes and don't need local storage.

A few months ago I got a Nehalem box that I've increasingly used for my testing. And consequently I decided to make the T300 my build box.

My old build box had a bunch of nice SAS drives that I intended to move to the T300. However, the T300 didn't have a suitable SAS wiring harness. Also, I decided to leave one of the SAS drives in the old build box. So I needed an extra SAS controller.

Off I went to Dell's website. I ordered a SAS controller for the T300. And then I spent a couple of hours trying to find the part number for the matching SAS wiring harness.

My T300 was wired for SATA so I needed a SAS data cable (SAS is dual-ported and has slightly different connectors). I needed SFF-8484 to 4 x SFF-8482. Also, in the T300 power and data are wired into the same connector so the wiring harness also had to provide a 2x5 pin hookup to the power supply.

I looked and looked. Turns out the harness is only listed on the US support site, not the Canadian one (The part # is NP390 in case anybody is interested).

I called up Dell's parts department, gave them the part number and two days later I had the cable in the mail. Yay!

Today the SAS controller arrived. And guess what? Inside the box was a wiring harnesses suitable for my T300. Serves me right for trying to outsmart the system. When you order a controller for a T300 you actually get the right cable. D'oh! I don't think it's worth the hassle returning a $17 part, though. So now I have a spare...

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Sun, 07 Dec 2008

A quick guide to glitch-free audio on Fedora 10

The release note advertises glitch-free PulseAudio in Fedora 10. What the note conveniently forgets to mention is that the trick in getting glitch-free audio is to completely remove PulseAudio from the system. When PA is involved, playback stutters like Porky Pig on the North Pole...

This comes as no real surprise as removing PulseAudio was also imperative in the previous Fedora release unless you were completely tonedeaf. It consistently played back audio almost a semitone sharp on two of my machines. Both were using the extremely rare (dare one say "exotic"?) intel i810 audio hardware.

I applaud the tremendous progress we have made in making Linux a world-class desktop operating system.

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