Where's Will?

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I'm in the process of the following:

  • finishing up my grad school application for NEU
  • tweaking my "new" desktop so I can do some programming work on it
  • working on pyblosxom 1.1 release
  • finishing up a children's book S and I wrote, illustrated, and are publishing ourselves (more on this later [I hope])
  • preparing to visit with George this weekend
  • watching the Red Sox... (whew--the anxiety in the air is as thick as butter!)
  • trying to complete items in my infinite queue at work where the items are progressively more complex and potentially NP-complete--at least, it sure feels that way

Ubuntu

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Wow--I just installed Ubuntu on my "new" desktop (a PIII 450mhz) and it's very very nice. Installation was refreshingly easy--I didn't have to tinker with anything. Then I unison'd my user directory over from my laptop and ... tada! I'm productive.

I highly recommend it to myself. If you're like me, then you'll probably like it as well.

Ubuntu web-site

But you don't have to take my word for it. Having said that, and as most of these reviews will point out, this is a pre-release. If you check the Ubuntu forums, it's pretty clear they put this out to get feedback for the final release.

My status with Debian

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I have Debian GNU/Linux happily running on my laptop, though my laptop is pretty pokey (it's an Inspiron 7000 that I bought in 1998).

My server at Serverbeach (bluesock.org) runs Debian and it was doing fine until the kernel switched the / mount to read-only and then died. Rebooting caused the server to fsck everything and I lost /var/lib and /var/cache... Then things got pretty interesting for a few hours. My friend gave me a tarball of his /var/lib (minus some random stuff) and from that and some useful files in /var/backup, I was able to bring most of the server back to life. Additionally, I found some of the files that were missing in lost+found. Tawdry things like mailing list archives dating back to 2000. Time to institute a more rigorous backup system that includes more data....

My dad loaned me one of his monster servers (see figure 1) because it was non-functional. My roommate pulled all the stuff out and put it back in again and now it works fine... Not clear what the actual issue was. Anyhow, once I get it booting, I'm going to slap Debian on that machine and start using it for development. Then I'll switch my pokey laptop to mirroring/backing-up bluesock.org.

I've been really happy with Debian. As happy as I was with Gentoo, except I don't have to wait hours for X and various other large things to compile.

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figure 1: an ascii picture of me standing next to the server

PyBlosxom 1.1 status

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I finished taking the GRE so now I'm going to start the long process of moving everything in /contrib to the registry, moving the flavours to the registry, and then going through the steps to release PyBlosxom 1.1.

We'll do an RC and wait a week for people to speak up about issues. That puts a PyBlosxom 1.1 release around the end of October. Things that will be in the release:

  • a bunch of important performance enhancements
  • some bug fixes
  • some other minor changes

We're also removing the contrib directory and all the flavour examples. This is probably going to be controversial, but I don't think we have enough polish to continue distributing them with PyBlosxom and it'll be easier to distribute fixes and such if they're separate from the PyBlosxom release.

Spearmint status: 10-12-2004

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The plant is doing fine. I think I'm going to move it next year to a place on our porch that's not in direct sunlight for most of the day. Seems as though the plant and soil dry out too fast when I do that. If I can clean enough of the stuff in the study out, I'll put the plant in there.

I snipped some of the branches off and dried the leaves. I think I have enough spearmint for a couple of cups of tea now. Next year, I'll be more aggressive about clipping and drying.

Other than tea, I can't think of any good uses for mint. We might add another plant next year that's more useful to us. Probably basil.

Installing OZ 3.5.1 and OPIE on a Zaurus 5600

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I have a Sharp Zaurus 5600 that I bought when Amazon.com had them for like $260 (might have been $280). It was a price at which I decided it was definitely worth getting a handheld computer with a thumboard that was running Linux.

Anyhow, so I ended up with a minor issue... The Zaurus 5600 I got had a PXA 250 Intel chip which has some problem with caching or something like that. The PXA 255 chip fixes this problem. In order for Linux to work on the device, they slowed down the something or other. So I think the end result is that the 5600 with the PXA 250 is slower than the 5600 with the PXA 255. I'm really fuzzy on all of that mostly because I don't really care a whole lot.

The OE team put out the 3.5.1 OZ release a couple of weeks ago. I followed the instructions here and downloaded the files from here.

Everything seems to be working on the pda itself. OPIE is pretty neat--I'm definitely very excited. The ability to rotate the screen is awesome. It's definitely a lot more snappy than the Sharp ROM that comes with the Zaurus 5600 itself.

Next step is to get a wireless card. After that, I want to install some games for those dull moments in life.

Comment spam

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It's getting to be a drag when the nicest comments I get from my blog are comment spam for a casino site. "Thanks for the great work!" "That entry was really helpful!" "It's really nice to have people like you around!"

If I were a less self-confident person, I'd filter out the actual spam part (usually the web address) and leave the rest of the comment be. I'm sure these spam folk mean everything they say.

Hewlett Packard 10c: where can I find one?

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My grandfather is a (apologies if I get this wrong) Geotechnical Engineer and co-wrote Soil Mechanics, one of the seminal soil mechanics books.

Anyhow, he either broke or misplaced his HP 10c calculator recently and he's looking for another one. Turns out that the HP 10c calculator is considered "rare" now and HP hasn't made them for quite some time. It's in the Museum of HP Calculators.

I don't want to get into a discussion of why alternative calculators aren't good enough.

So, given that, any ideas on where I could get an HP 10c? I checked Ebay and there's one for sale, but it's up to like $160 now. Are there other places to look? Specific places ("Have you checked [site x]?") are better than generic ones ("You should check your local flea market"...). Any thoughts? Anyone have one they'd like to part with?

status on everything

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I had a splendid weekend with S's parents and then bumping around Harvard Square on Sunday. I did some studying for the GRE, but mostly took a couple of days off from doing work.

I also finished up overhauling all the code on DarkRifts to work with the MudOS v.22.2b14 driver. There's a huge amount of code and there were a lot of problems most of which are sorted out now. There are still a few problems, but no one seems to be logging in, so I don't really feel any urgency to work through the last bits.

I'm planning on pushing pyblosxom through to a 1.1 release soon. First, I'm going to package up the flavour files into flavour packs for the registry. Second, I'm going to add documentation to all the contributed plugins and move them all to the registry. Accomplishing those two tasks should give the code in CVS enough time to bake. Then we'll do a 1.1 release and start thinking about 1.2 which will likely involve a minor overhaul to how we pull files from the file system.

The next two weeks will be pretty busy. Already I'm way behind in replying to email.