Older blog entries for Svartalf (starting at number 40)

22 Jul 2005 (updated 16 Jan 2006 at 04:20 UTC) »

Hm... Another year alive on this Earth- another year older. Birthday party went decently enough; the week of my birthday was nothing to write home about. Laurie was in the Hospital for mysterious stomach pains up in the 10 range on their little pain scale. She's home now and doing sort of okay- but they still don't know what caused the problems. (I'm none too happy about that, mind...)

Well, on to updates...


This is pretty much being scrapped. Michael and Company's found a way to allow OpenPlay to work more like it was supposed to so we're running with that for Ballistics (as soon as we can find the engine bug with NVidia's latest drivers- either ours or theirs...). Michael arrived at the conclusion, to which I agree wholeheartedly, that most of the frameworks we have in hand are nothing more than bloated beasts to begin with and he's started, yes, yet another library designed to be an easy drop-in for DirectPlay. No word yet on whether he's succeeding or not, but I'm willing to let the man try it- it's the same thing I was about to do in light of the issues I had with ANET, I just didn't have enough time in the day to do it right at the moment...

Open Embedded

While I've had some issues with the way people are generally treating newbies and the lot with this project (and still DO )- the project itself has raftloads of promise and I think I'm going to use the metadata and build system to frame in my own embedded distribution for media-box/game console use as well as for Coollogic's use. (No, still no final word on funding... Can't say any more than that...)

JXTA/JMF Related Projects

Well, I had to sideline these for a while (no time...) but I'm beginning to pick them back up as they had promise (still do) and I'm interested in pursuing providing the world with a decent P2P IM/Chat/Video-conference application. Don't know if I'm going to bring in SIP support for this stuff; while SIP is the "way to go" in this arena, there's no standards for the meshing support needed and all the players out there seem to be using proprietary (which is bad mojo) solutions and while they claim Linux support, it's pretty much impossible to get a Linux version of any of them at this point (which I consider flatly unacceptable...). If it works solely with JXTA, then there's no sense in doing SIP except for allowing SIP clients to join in to the mesh from the edges or to allow a client to dial out to the rest of the world- which can be handled by cribbing source from SIP Communicator...

Long time, no post.

Still haven't gotten back to any of the Open Source projects yet, but things are dramatically improved. Things are looking up and I think we're going to be on an even keel by the end of this month, middle of next. Got quite a few creditors that we still owe money, but soon...soon... Should be clearing some real money doing work for a small financial trading interest while I wait to see if Coollogic gets their funding (If's really, really too strong a word, considering what I know, but I can't say what is actually happening on that front because of NDAs and all... But, with all the pain I've went through over the years, I'm going to harbor some small doubts until I see the end of it- even if I know it's actually going to happen...) and I should be largely back on track with finances, etc. by next month at the latest.

On a different subject, I found the company that makes PC keyboards the exact same way IBM used to make them. Why would one want one of these old "clunkers"? Because of the positive feedback and solid performance of them- they're like tanks and can shrug off all kinds of abuse that'd kill other, lesser keyboards. Go on over to Unicomp and check it out. Gamers should love the snappy response these gems give to you.

Well, on to the Open Source notes...


Well, I'm in the process of attempting to resurrect this library. While it was something to speak of in it's day, it's a little crufty- and makes assumptions about things that aren't 64-bit clean. I'll hopefully know more about whether or not I've been wasting my time or not in another week or so as I find time to finish an integration of it instead of OpenPlay in Ballistics. I was hopeful at first, but it's not looking as rosy right at the moment...

JXTA/JMF Related Projects

Ended up getting laid off from my Contract back in March (Damned shame really, he couldn't afford my services because of investor problems- and he's just short of getting his products out the door...) but I've been continuing working on the Java based projects with his blessings. Most notably, there's two frameworks, JXCube and P2People. I got an older CVS version working of JXCube and I reverse engineered the final binary of P2People so that I now have clean compiling code, etc. In the case of JXCube, the video conferencing stuff's kind of kludgy and probably should be re-done as it's streaming raw video and audio, using the Java Media Framework only to capture. (A pet peeve of all of this is that while Sun seems to "rely" on JMF for some of their initiatives, everyone, Sun included, seems to treat the whole thing like a red-headed stepchild... Poor docs, no real books on the shelves... Hmph!) It's going to need some overhaul using snippets of code from P2People to make it work the way it should, using JMF to stream RTP via normal means, SIP/STUN based means, or through JXTA... In the case of P2People, I've got some overhaul to do in that it's been written against JXTA 2.1.1 and things have changed up in the form of crypto code, etc. The code compiles right now, but it's not happy w/1.5 of the JDK. I expect to have working P2P Video Conferencing using Java shortly- if the stuff works decently enough- I've still got loads of reservations. If one could make GnomeMeeting a little less Linux-Centric and could find some way to manage all the P2P capabilities within a SIP->H.323 bridge that also ran on the machine, it'd rock. Well, I don't plan on letting the Videoconf stuff go by the wayside, too useful...

Various Embedded Linux Projects

Haven't worked on this for a little while, but as things slow down a bit around home, I plan on revisiting my energy management solution system code and working on the embedded packaging and LiveCD solution for stuff as time permits. When Coollogic gets things all straightened out, I'll probably shift focus to doing this stuff. Should know more on this by end of next month one way or another... Just went over to the DirectFB site and was anything if not impressed- quite a bit of support there now and it's pretty robust. I expect to be able to use the UniChrome support shortly on my EPIA setup and I plan on coming up with something to work with MythTV- sort of a Media PC/Gaming Console. Yeah, yeah, I know- everybody and his dog has attempted this and failed. Well, I don't plan on making money at the boxes themselves- I just plan on making up a distribution that provides someone with the right toolbox to make one for themselves with minimal fuss.


Well, it's not been forgotten and it's mostly waiting on free and available funds to afford the purchase of a few parts. I'd sidelined it, waiting to see if the bunch that claimed to be almost there were going to produce results or not (Why put any real effort into the project when they're going to do nearly as well as I could- it'd be better if I got along with them to combine forces...)- which they haven't. Expect a possible resurrection of the thing in the future as I move forward with one of the needed components of this project, the embedded distribution system.

Linux TabletPC Project?

I just got a demonstration recently with MS' Windows Tablet Edition. Nice. Too bad it's got Windows at it's core. But then, it got me to thinking. Why can't we have the same capabilities under Linux- and I don't just mean a touch keyboard on the screen like Lycoris did. What's keeping us from coming up with similar capabilities for Linux? Oh well, food for thought, eh?

Well, well... New year, new posting.

Haven't gotten back to any of my stated Open Source projects, but it looks to be that I'm going to be duffing about with some new ones as a consequence of my contract job (the one that pays the bills), LGP (Fun job...), and Coollogic (The "longshot" that I'm sharing spare time with LGP on (mostly on this one at this time...)... Won't bore you all with the details- suffice it to say, things should be a lot rosier by end of February no matter HOW one were to slice it.).


In the case of LGP, I'm going to resurrect a networking library that worked, worked well, looked similar to DirectPlay on an architechtural level, and was used to produce over 20 commercial titles and was used in several Linux ports done by Loki Games that interoperated across Linux, MacOS, and Windows machines. Once modernized, while it won't be the greatest, it'll be a good arrow in the quiver of game developers and porters that will work across multiple OS platforms comfortably.

Various Embedded Linux Projects

In the case of Coollogic, I'm expecting to further several different user space drivers and create a few new ones as well. Current C/C++ based X10 control libraries do not include support for the LynX10-PLC interface (Something we need to at least get to a demo stage with some of our projects we're working on right now) which is purportedly suported in MisterHouse, so I'm going to add code to the C/C++ libraries because I need those instead of Perl. I'm also planning on coming up with some API libraries for several previously unsupported sensor devices, including some 2D MEMS based accelerometers available from SparkFun in Colorado. I have some other plans in mind, but our budget at Coollogic will probably have to allow for another developer or two dedicated to embedded distribution development to be able to honestly do them as I'm kinda stretched thin (When am I not, right? :). However, if things pan out the way they should, Coollogic's expecting (and this is the CTO speaking on behalf of his company here...) to provide a couple of nice gems for embedded Linux development, pooled from the amazing work people have done on minimalistic LiveCD's and other work we've done in the past and in the present on things.

On my contract side, we're looking at some JXTA based stuff to backfill some of their services offerings. Can't say more than that at this point in time on that part of things

Wow... Has it been all that long? Well, I was unable to find the memory issue in the code that was the long tent pole in the release schedule for Ballistics- due to time constraints more than anything else, so I handed off the code to one of the other developers. We should be seeing some results shortly on that front- if not, never fear, I will be coming up with something other than OpenPlay, from which I believe the cause of some of the last issue stems from. OpenPlay's got it's place in the world, but I don't know if it's with LGP or anyone else. You see, the thing's got issues with Firewalls, and there's better solutions available for nothing or next to nothing that do a better job of things AND allow us to do a better job of making things look like DirectPlay. We should be seeing Ballistics, hopefully within the next couple of days.

Coollogic was supposed to have gotten the funding, but it did not happen yet. Should know a lot more by this evening- supposedly, the big bridge from the VC is due to be wired into our account by this Friday. If so, things get a whole lot easier for me and everyone else at Coollogic. If not, well, we've got alternatives to keep things going a while longer. I'll believe it all when I see it happen, but I'm hoping that I'll be pleasantly surprised this evening with the update from our CFO.

Hopefully, I will be getting back to my Open Source and other pet projects once things settle down... (Me, have things settle down- not bloody likely mate! :-)

22 Jul 2004 (updated 22 Jul 2004 at 21:12 UTC) »

Well, well, well...

A good month to say the least.

I survived another year on this Earth.

I'm about to close out the last issue in Ballistics. (This means it goes gold soon).

Coollogic is about to close on it's funding (Finally!!! YES!!! :-)

On another note, I got a lesson in why one should be careful about blogging- I had to excise a few ill-advised comments from this diary (I will say that I had reasonable cause in my defense- but it's still causing me to work just a little bit harder than I should have to because of the rather stupid things I put on here.) and go about asking Google, etc. to purge their caches...

I'm convinced.

The current means for providing AMD64 32-bit support within a 64-bit Linux environment is a BAD thing.

Split directories, one set for 32-bit (/lib, etc.) and one set for 64-bit (/lib64, etc.). It confuses the hell trying to make a cross-compile setup. It leaves it open for you to miss libraries on either side, causing you to not be able to do the stated thing, run 64-bit binaries alongside 32-bit ones. And it confuses the hell out of each and every automake setup.

We all need to really, REALLY re-think this idea. There's a need/desire for someone to run 32-bit applications- but this isn't the way to do this. Do I have answers for this? Not yet- I've not had the time to think about it seriously.

Here's a little gem of wisdom that I wish other coders and developers would figure out:

Pointer Values != DWORDs

Reinterpreting them to DWORDs causes no end to problems. Yes, on a 32-bit platform, they're DWORDs. On a 16-bit or 8-bit, they're not- they can either be DWORDs or WORDs depending on architechture. On a 64-bit machine, they're QWORDs. If you want to make a handle, in other words, an opaque pointer, declare a typedef for void * and go to town. If you're recycling something that was intended for use with DWORDs or INT32s to handle indexing or tracking pointers, you might want to take the time to think about and re-think your design to use the right data types.

These are the same silly things that I saw with migrating DOS applications to Windows. It's the same silly things I saw with migrating Win16 to Win32 applications.

It's so easy to write code in a manner to avoid this stuff, I guess that I'm amazed that I keep finding gems like this in modern code.

I just thought I'd make an entry for this. I just found out (it's apparently not hit Slashdot or any of the other regular sites...) that SuSE is offering the base distribution for download without install support, etc. Better yet, I've found a mirror that appears to provide AMD64 versions of the ISO's. Guess I'll be testing SuSE in another day or so- hopefully, they've done a little better job in handling the issues I outlined in my previous diary entry.

24 Nov 2003 (updated 24 Nov 2003 at 13:36 UTC) »

A comment on things Athlon 64-ish...

I've been tinkering around a little further with Mandrake 9.2 AMD64 and it's definitely "okay". The install made it feel a little rougher around the edges than I thought, but there's still some issues that are lingering that I'm not 100% sure they're Mandrake's, but not having any other reference (Gentoo was an interesting failed 1st and 2nd attempt. Maybe three tries is the charm, but I'm not sure about it at this point. Pretty damn complex setup if you ask me...) I can't say either way. Boils down to how they accomplished 32 and 64-bit support all in the same runtime environment. They have seperate /lib and /lib64 directories for all .a's and .so's on the system. What's more obnoxious is that your source builds can't assume where the libraries are- they have to dynamically choose the right one, and at least Mandrake opted to not have all of the development or runtime binaries for some libraries in 32-bit (which is the assumed pathway based on them placing all the 32-bit stuff in /lib, /usr/lib, etc.). A good example of this is Source Navigator. It will not build in the Mandrake AMD64 world without some hacking of the makefiles in the source tree so that the thing will find the available (64-bit only) X11 development stuff.

This has me wondering if supporting 32-bit in this manner is really worth it. Stuff's breaking unpleasantly because of the way they made it all work. While I admit it relegates the AMD64 to the same role as the PPC if you went nothing but 64-bit, it might be better for everyone involved as it would be exactly like everyone expects things to be.

20 Nov 2003 (updated 20 Nov 2003 at 02:16 UTC) »

Well, things have changed, hopefully for the better.

I have a job as a contractor for Texas Instruments. It's not for what I should be getting as a contractor with the years of experience I have- but, it's pretty much guaranteed money for the next 6 months at a rate that'll help get me back on my feet well enough.

The previous employer's morphed into just business partners working on some important projects after hours while they get their house in order. When it's all said and done, I'll be a part owner in the reorganized company if they get their funding (which will actually be some small recompense for all the agony they put me through these past two years)- IF they get their funding. The projects and the potential contracts lined up, plus the fact that they're still paying me a salary even though I'm on a contract elsewhere has me still talking to them at this point.

Athlon64. 64-bits. Nice. If you're wondering what I'm prattling on about, someone gifted me with an Athlon64 to do some work on their behalf. It's nice. It's pretty fast. Mandrake 9.2 for AMD64 is okay, but it's really rough around the edges for a release candidate. SuSE appears to currently be the way to go, but I don't have budget for a copy of Professional (Which, I believe is the only version set up for AMD64 right at the moment...) and they want $1500 for a developer relations arrangement (definitely NOT in the budget, either for me or for LGP...). So, that's kind of out of the question. Gentoo's an option, but I've not gotten around to doing the deed on another partition of the main HD yet.

On a slightly different note, I got a reminder about living for the moment today. Someone rear-ended me as I was getting on to I-35E in Lewisville. Pretty hard, in fact. Had the experience of being put in a cervical collar and put on a back board and carted off to the hospital in an ambulance. Nothing to speak of wrong with me that they can see, thankfully. It could have been worse. It was the, "it could have been worse" that kept going through my head- trouble has a way of finding you and you never know when your time is up.

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