Archive for March, 2005

Keep your distance

Last week was fun. Tuesday: midterm. Wednesday: midterm. Thursday: presentation. Awesome. I haven’t had that much fun in a while. I didn’t really get any sleep on Tuesday night, and very little on Wednesday, so I’m blaming that on my current situation: I’m sick. It was weird. I was trying to study for my physics midterm, fell asleep for just 1-2 hours, got up and felt like utter crap. And I don’t mean I’m sick in a I have to blow my nose every 10 minutes kinda way. I’m sick in a my throat’s swollen, it hurts to swallow, have a dry cough – which also hurts, still have to blow my nose, can’t speak very loud, sometimes have a killer headache, and last night I woke up at 6:30am gasping for breath because I was choking on my own saliva kinda way. I’m not sure if I’m contagious, so if you see me, I suggest you run – faster than usual.

I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, it seems to hit me really hard. At the advice of a friend, I’m cutting up ginger root and making tea with it. I was surprised to discover the taste was rather pleasant – but it hasn’t done much to help my throat, so far. I hope this just cooperates and goes away so I can enjoy my long weekend a bit more… I don’t even feel like making anything because it’s so much effort to eat!

The midterms were pretty bad (definitely failed the physics one), but at least the presentation went ok.

WordPress Bugs

WordPress is great, but it’s far from perfect. The few who have left comments may have noticed that they must be moderated. Well, according to my current settings, I should only have to moderate your first comment. All subsequent comments should not have to be moderated by me. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case. As it turns out, it was a known bug. My apologies, until it gets fixed in a main release (when I upgrade to it).

More significantly, however, is a bug that removes parts of comments! Shirley experienced this, and had her well thought-out post almost completely destroyed. 😮 That’s terrible! I’m sorry, Shirley. 🙁 But, I’ve filed a bug report (#1106) like a good little user, so hopefully some good comes of it. So, if you want to post angle brackets in your comment, you may want to use the appropriate codes:
< and >

More codes can be found here.

Ubuntu Live – My Experience

So I downloaded the Ubuntu live-cd, and am currently testing it out. (CD-RWs are great for things like this!) Everyone uses their computer for something different. I use mine for quite a large range of things, so certain features are important when I’m looking at a desktop/distro. Here’s the skinny on what I’ve been messing around with:

(Using Ubuntu Hoary-Preview-Live-i386)

Can I connect to my Zaurus?
The important thing here is whether or not the usbnet drivers are installed and working; and they were! I was able to ping my Zaurus over the USB cable. There was no Samba client installed, so I could not mount the Zaurus as a local directory for file transfer, but I was able to use Nautilus’ abilities to do the equivalent.


I didn’t bother testing VNC or SSH, as the only matter is if they’re installed or not.

Does the system detect and allow me to mount my compact flash card when I insert it in the PCMCIA slot on my laptop?
Yes! After inserting it, there’s an unmistakable pc-speaker beep, and I’m able to mount it as a local drive.

sudo mount /dev/hde ./my-local-cf

The performance was fine. I’ve had slow-down issues when transferring large amounts of data from my CF on Gentoo; I don’t think the same problem was evident in Ubuntu. I think it’s an option I missed in the .config or something.

Can I connect my digital camera (everybody’s got one, these days) over USB?
Yes! (This was the first time I’ve ever actually used the USB cable with my camera; I usually just put the CF in my PCMCIA slot via an adapter. Step one: find the cable and remove it from the bag…) As soon as I plugged in the camera, a little box appeared asking me if I would like to import the photos from the camera. Click “Yes,” and Gthumb’s Import Photo dialog appears. Wow. That was pretty impressive! I’ve never actually seen Gthumb’s Import Photo in action, before. Really nice! After seeing that, I had to try it out on Gentoo. 🙂 It works, it just isn’t mapped to a hotplug script to auto-prompt the user. Always discovering new things. 😀

Can I use my USB Wacom tablet?
Yes!… well, kinda. After plugging it in, I could use the pen and all seemed swell… so the major test: pressure. I loaded up Gimp and tried adjusting pressure settings and scribbling – no luck. Damn. After opening up the Devices dialog, I realized it was just registered as a Core Pointer. Looking back at /var/log/messages, I saw the following error message:

usbhid: probe of 2-1:1.0 failed with error -5

That’s the same error message I’m currently getting in Gentoo. 😐 The Wacom mouse behaved similarly, with absolute positioning… which is bad.

Can I play an MP3 or stream music while I’m testing?
Unfortunately, no. I was excited to try out Rhythmbox, a music player that’s included in the Live CD. I was even happier to see that it had some radio stations already bookmarked. Great, I thought. After waiting for something to timeout, I got the message:

There is no element present to handle the stream's mime type audio/mpeg.

What the…? Immediately, I panic. No music? I almost plugged my speakers in to my Zaurus and played the music from it. As I’m unfamiliar with both Ubuntu and Rhythmbox, I figured I’d ask around in IRC. The #ubuntu folks are were very friendly and helpful… but I was not able to resolve the problem in a timely manner. One suggestion was to use gst-register, but that didn’t seem to do much. I seemed to already have the latest versions of various gstreamer plugins, according to apt-cache search gstreamer. I blame my lack of patience, at the time. But, in a perfect world, I don’t think playing MP3s, or even streaming them, should have to be set up. I didn’t have any OGG files to try out.

Can I read the font without my eyes bleeding?
Yes! The default settings are quite pleasant, so they aren’t all “fuzzy” – a common problem with fonts on Linux.

International Input?
Not immediately available. I don’t know if SCIM would cause much grief installing or not. It would be really nice to see a distribution, especially a live one, have this setup by default, however.

The sudo that you do
Another thing that I ran like a scared boy to IRC for, was the root password – I couldn’t mount my existing drives without it! Well, I was directed to this helpful link, explaining the way Ubuntu handles the root password/account. Makes decent sense to me! I’ve gotten so used to using a separate root account, that I’d probably continue doing it on Ubuntu, but it makes a lot more sense for the new user, I think.

So that was my Ubuntu experience. To get a copy of Ubuntu, visit their website:

I think Ubuntu is one of the most promising distributions available. I used the Live-CD offering, which is not really what Ubuntu was made for, so I’m not sure how similar it is to the regular desktop install version. I would probably switch to Ubuntu if I did not currently have so much invested in my current Gentoo installation.

If anyone has any questions, notices any errors, knows solutions to any of my problems, or simply wants to say something, please post a comment. 🙂


2.10 – joy!

My heart almost stopped, today, when $600+ (my Zaurus) jumped out of my jacket pocket and skidded across Burrard and Nelson. After taking my time (the light was green and cars were patiently waiting for me) to ensure I had picked up everything, I nodded “thanks” to the drivers and headed over to the sidewalk. An inspection was in order. I was nervous. Insert SD card (it had been ejected on impact with the concrete). Insert Stylus; No, wait, I need that that to test. Turn on. It turns on. Play. No sound. Fuc——- oh, there it is. This song just starts quiet. PHEW!


Sony wants to shuffle

I know this might make somebody cry. 🙂

Will it compete with Apple’s Shuffle? Well, if the FM tuner is any good, then it may be a fairly attractive alternative to me. But, in my experience, Sony never gets it right on the first try. I’ll have to wait for reviews which will ultimately compare the two players together.

In other news, Google Desktop looks interesting. If I ran Windows, I might give it a go. For Linux, there’s Beagle… which I still have yet to try.

CSS Woes

Dunno how many people are familiar w/CSS, but I’ve recently updated the CSS for my blog. The only things I changed was to increase the base text size (because I like bigger), and add some style to handle the “galleries.” But for whatever reason, the galleries refuse to display correctly on Opera or IE. Here’s the relevant code:

.gallery {
padding: 6px 6px 6px 6px;
margin: 1em auto 1em auto;
background-color: #F7FBF7;
border-bottom: 1px solid #959596;
border-top: 1px solid #959596;
text-align: center;

.gallery_item {
display: inline;
margin: 8px 4px 8px 4px;
padding: 0;
position: relative;

img { border: none; }
a img { border: 2px solid #000; }
a img:hover { border: 2px solid #06c;}

I even made sure it validated!

Valid CSS!

Any suggestions are welcome. To view my site as it’s intended to be viewed, I recommend using a Gecko-based browser, such as Firefox. And as much as I love RSS readers, I haven’t seen one that takes and uses the style of the source page to display it, unless it’s inline.

ERRATUM: I forgot to mention (for all you impatient folk): if you hover your mouse pointer over the images, you should get a description of some sort.

Bachelor Food!

I love food. I enjoy cooking it, and I love eating it! 😀 One of life’s simplest pleasures. As I’ve recently moved out, I’m having to buy all my own stuff to be able to make things. This has the advantage that I can be specific in what I eat, but it has the huge disadvantage that I must pay for it. :'( So I’ve tried to make food that’s good, doesn’t require too many ingredients, is cheap, and doesn’t take too long to prepare. Here’s some of the stuff that’s been made in our tiny little kitchen:

Cube the Cat

My roommate has a cat named Cube. You can see his recent 2nd birthday picture over at Pope’s bloggy-thing. When Cube is not taking up as much of my tiny bed as he possibly can, he’s … well, he’s most likely lounging somewhere else. Ah, the life of a cat. Anyways, here’s some snaps of the ‘lil guy. 🙂

drink it, Cube!

drink it, Cube!

He drank it all up.


Cube and the penny jar

VNC Server on Zaurus SL-C760

Finally got around to setting up a VNC server on my PDA. It freaked me out a little when the first app I tried prevented stylus input. DELETE! So, that was because I was using an old version of fbvncserver made for the zaurus 5500. I have the zaurus SL-C760 (still using default SHARP ROM), and it’s not available outside of Japan, so the best support is… in Japan, of course. After fruitless efforts browsing ZUG forums and other “local” resources, I made a quick trip to and found what I was looking for here. Install it. Reboot QT, and voila! I gotta admit, it’s pretty sexy controlling the zaurus through my laptop… I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to doing this. Apparently, the new fbvncserver for the 6000 model will also work, you just have to change the default mode from portrait (or something).

Heading out to Half-Price Computer Books, today. They got a big sale on… gonna go bargain hunting. I’ll probably end up buying more books I don’t need.

Update: Took some action shots!

VNC working its magic
VNC - Screengrab