East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2006/1/30

Mythical fun (4)

Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 2:16 pm

One takes an old Dell desktop machine, with a Celeron 700 MHz or so. Then:

  • Put in a cheapo video card with TV-out (a Jaton Video-198PCI, which features NVidia chipsets ).
  • Rummage through a drawer to find a PCI sound-card.
  • Rummage through a different drawer to find a working network card.
  • Hook up a previously retired 10Mb/s hub to multiply the incoming Cat5 that the MythTV front-end uses in the bedroom.
  • Install a minimal Debian/sarge, add basic things like rsync, less.
  • Make sure to also install the nvidia kernel modules, and then of course the basics for X11 and finally a MythTV front-end.

Actual money invested so far for parts I didn’t already have: $30-40 for the video card.

End-result: A second front-end for the livingroom, so that the kids can watch some recorded daytime TV when it suits us/them, instead of watching the same Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD over and over and over and… Ugh!

Still to do: Set up DHCP to hand out a fixed IP number for this machine and give it appropriate DNS so I can more easily ssh in for maintenance and such, later.

I also still need to figure out what needs to be done exactly (preferably repeatably) to get the StreamZap remote to work, but in the meantime I can probably move the Pinnacle remote to the livingroom and make do with a cordless keyboard.

The first test has already been passed successfully, in the sense that both front-ends were in use at the same time last night and the network held up beautifully and the front-ends worked without a glitch. The MRTG output shows a nearly 600 kB/s throughput, which I guess means the theoretical 10Mb/s was only 50% used. 🙂

2006/1/27

GPL v3

Filed under: News,Software — Erwin @ 3:40 pm

When I saw the story (The Register) appearing in the news that Linus (Torvalds, a.k.a. Mr Linux) would reject GPL v3 (LKML) (which is still a draft, this is not the final version) because he didn’t like the DRM related wording in it, apparently saying that it meant he would have to turn over his private (encryption/signing) key, I blinked a few times. Huh? How is one thing related to the other?

Unfortunately I didn’t have or take the time to find the original statement from Linus (until just now) or read up on the GPL v3 draft to see if I could read the same thing into its wording.

Fortunately I don’t seem to be the only one who’s quirking eyebrows at this statement, because here’s GrokLaw‘s Pamela Jones, the open source’s favourite paralegal (so to speak):

Linus seems to think you have to turn over your private key, such as one might use to sign off on code. That’s not my understanding of the clause about DRM at all. I see no wording saying that. Of course, I’m still getting up to speed myself on the GPLv3. My current understanding of the DRM clause is just that if you can’t run a program without a private key, you have to be given the key. And no invasions of user privacy are allowed.

Thank you for confirming I wasn’t the only one who was somewhat confused by this statement. I’m sure time will come with clarifications on whether the GPL v3 draft really implied this and, if it did, whether that wording is going to be in the final version.

2006/1/26

Sweet!

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 4:43 pm

On days like this I quite like Buy.com:

  • I ordered two items yesterday (January 25th).
  • Picked the budget shipping option (free shipping) because I’m not in desperate need for them, just want to have them so I can move along on some (personal) project in the long run.
  • Budget shipping means 7-9 (business) days.
  • I check the FedEx order tracking this morning: Wow! It’s on the vehicle for delivery!

I guess it helps that it was shipped from Texas, which is a pretty straight line up to get here. 🙂

Update: It’s been delivered now, so it wasn’t some bizarre fluke in their webbased tracking service.

On this day

Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 2:38 pm

Well, sort of.

Some guy (who turns out to be Dutch, cool) has made a webpage that tries to make it easier to search Google for specific dates (and optionally some keyword). I figured I’d check for my birthdate and found that:

Hamilton watches created the first electric watch in 1957; Seiko unveiled the first watch with a Quartz movement on December 25, 1969. Some people argue that these advances in watch-making technology deny the intricacy and the elegance of the automatic mechanical watch in the same way a chef feels that fast food has degraded the hamburger.

Now you know. 😉

2006/1/25

Ogg Vorbis and iTunes

Filed under: OS X,Software — Erwin @ 5:34 pm

A few days ago I was made aware of a recent software project to make iTunes and Ogg Vorbis play nice together, this time the project has been picked up by the creators (Xiph.org) of the format.

Unfortunately the word nice still does not apply. Adding a *.ogg file to the iTunes library that resides on the usual NFS share takes ages and locks up iTunes and affects the GUI as a whole. Playing involves a 5-10 second pause before it actually begins. Doing these same things with a local file doesn’t improve things as much as you’d hope.

Maybe someday…

2006/1/22

Educational ad

Filed under: Technology — Erwin @ 10:57 pm

Nice crash course (AppliedMaterials.com) on how chips work (very roughly) and are created. Easy enough to ignore the promotional bits.

2006/1/21

Pet peeves

Filed under: Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 6:37 pm

ATM machine = Automated Teller Machine machine

2006/1/19

Livejournal feeds

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 4:13 pm

Gah. Livejournal is changing all of their URLs and is redirecting old URLs to the new ones:

All journals will now be located at http://username.livejournal.com.
All communities will now be located at http://community.livejournal.com/username.

There is some vague reference to a security vulnerability that causes them to do this:

Recent changes to a popular browser have enabled malicious users to potentially gain control of your account.

Eh? Which browser, what changes, how? Details please! Yes, I realize they’ll announce the details later, in their development journal, but I’m impatient to know if it’s something I should be aware of for work.

Anyway, what mostly annoys me is that, as new entries start showing up in various LJ blogs that I track in NetNewsWire, all old entries also show up as new again, because their URL changed. *mutter*

Here comes the flood!

2006/1/17

Meetings

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 8:28 pm

This sums up pretty nicely what I don’t miss about having office meetings:

A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that the amount and length of meetings correlate with “negative effects” (burnout, anxiety, and depression) on its participants.

Brainstorm sessions on the other hand can be very useful, but can, assuming all participants are decent typists, be just as easily done online. Sometimes it’s actually better, if that means that they are forced to consider what they’re about to contribute before they hit enter.

R.I.P.

Filed under: Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 4:40 pm

An old friend of mine, we shall name him hostmaster@is-here.com, has passed away.

He had been with me since the beginning of is-here.com, now almost 10 years ago (which feels like an eternity in internet-years) and had always been a supporting figure, passing messages back and forth.

When I moved away from that overpriced landlord Network Solutions and decided to live with Gandi.net, using different contact addresses, he grew mostly silent, just sitting in a corner, occasionally passing on some misdirected messages.

Lately all he got me was those misdirected messages, more than a few per day, and my friend just couldn’t take it anymore, so together we decided to end that suffering. Peacefully, quietly.

Goodbye.

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