Older blog entries for forrest (starting at number 27)

Prior art for Patent # 6,368,227:

I was at my mom's recently (actually, it's a sad thing ... my stepfather passed away) and I made an interesting discovery.

You see, my mom's dad made a lot of home movies, and sometime late in his life he had a video made of the most interesting clips. When I was watching this video, I was astonished to see my mom as a young girl swinging exactly as described in the infamous swinging patent. She even used the "oval-shaped" motion described in points (3) and (4).

I aimed my Mavica at the TV screen to get an mpeg of this, but I'm not sure how to edit it: I need to remove the sound (just some dumb conversation while we were watching the video) and tiny bits of the prevous and following clips which I included in order to make sure I got the complete scene.

Can anyone help me edit this? Here it is: http://www.wiredaemons.com/forrest/prior_art.mpg. It's only a bit more than 300K. Try to ignore my stupid voice in the background.

My mom and aunt told me this must have been filmed before 1942.

I've been so inactive in the free software universe, I feel that my journeyer status should probably be revoked.

How not to impress a non-Linux user:

I was helping a neighbor burn a mix CD from his collection, and I grabbed a GUI tool for the purpose, a program called xcdroast. I generally do things on the command line, but ordering tracks and keeping track of times is a good job for a GUI. Since I rarely burn CDs, I hadn't noticed that I got a kernel parameter wrong (ATAPI support needs to be a module if the SCSI emulation is built in) so I quickly rebuilt. This is a Debian system, so naturally I use make-kpkg.

Writing tracks to the hard disk is time-consuming, so I was generally bored, and started surfing the net and such. Since I had just rebuilt the kernel, I didn't have the ALSA modules installed, so we couldn't listen to the tracks. Just as we were almost through writing tracks to the hard disk, I decided to take a fatal shortcut to get sound going: I installed the alsa deb I had made on my previous kernel build. After all, I had only tweaked one small parameter, right?


The machine went down hard: although I was able to ssh in from another box to do a shutdown, I might as well have just flipped the switch off for all the good it did. Reboot force-checked all the disks, and hung when it got to the alsa install. A second reboot into the old kernel force-checked all the disks again, after which I was able to edit modules.dep and blow away the offending alsa module directory.

Now, I know that linux is typically solid as a rock, and it's actually difficult to lock up like I did, and that what I did to make it lock up was atypically boneheaded , but I think I scared my Windoze-using friend away from the platform for a good long time.


The stuff about sye's poem (which I've rendered as text, although I still don't understand it) having a special meaning in the initial column reminds me of a poem I wrote around twenty years ago, the entirety of which can be read by either rows or columns.

I suggested to my public library that they order the new Stallman bio Free as in Freedom and they actually got it! There's something appropriate about checking this book out of the library.

zhaoway, I'm sorry to hear they've blocked SourceForge. I wonder if Microsoft is helping them censor.

Here's a related story: a young friend of my wife's I met on my last trip to China was just starting college when we spoke. She sent me several e-mails asking questions about C programming, but my replies to her e-mails @263.net bounced back to me with a "no such user" error.

My e-mails were entirely about the C langauge, except for polite salutations. It's just so weird.

Xing Nian Hao!

I'm sure the Year of the Horse will bring us all prosperity.

I'm being pulled in lots of different directions lately; as much as I want to work on Ghostscript at work (and getting stuff done with it ... truly an amazing program) I know I'll be expected to do stuff with EJB's soon.

I just can't seem to get excited about java ... I'm sure it's a good language and all, but the hype which has surrounded it since it's inception has really worn on me. It's like advertisements that scream at me ... there's no surer way to make me boycott a product for life.

I won't be boycotting java, but I have been putting it off for longer than I should.

I spent my whole weekend trying to come up with clickable text in emacs -- actually, just text that highlights when the mouse is over it, but got nowhere. I'd like to crack elisp sometime (and I have written a few modest things to help me at work) but now it seems like a black hole for my time.

I also wish I had time to persue non-computer reading: George W. Bush's naming of Iran as one of the nations in an "Axis of Evil" really got to me since I know some history. [nytimes.com] But there's so much history I don't know: I'd really like to find a good book on the history of colonialism (as if I'd have time to read it).

I wonder what the heck Iran is supposed to do now?

Oh, and I've also learned that not getting enough sleep is really, really bad for me. So, Good night!

Today, I found out that the link to http://www.opendvd.org/ from my web site is broken.

I don't have time to keep my site up anyway, it's kind of like a laundry list ... uck ... but I do have a few political awareness things at the bottom.

I was looking around for a good link that could give a nice general introduction to the the whole DVD-CSS / DMCA issue, that wouldn't sound like a rant, yet clearly states the case against legally-enforced technological measures to prevent all unauthorized use.

I see http://www.anti-dmca.org/ is around, but it doesn't quite seem to fit the bill for what I'm looking for.

I gave blood today, which is a first for me. I tried a couple of years ago, but that time they told me my blood count was too low. This time, it was fine.

I've got JBoss/Tomcat running on the linux box I mentioned in my last diary, and am going through the examples. I really have a lot of catch-up to do with this J2EE stuff.

Today, my boss asked me if I thought I could get JBoss going on OpenVMS. I said I'd have to try. It will probably work; the only possible problem would be file name issues. (Hmmm ... I seem to remember our sys admin saying he could set up a disk with the new ODS5 filesystem ... I bet that would work fer sure ..)

Ok, my first entry for 2002 (Happy New Year, everyone)!

I drove down to Georgia with my wife to see my parents: Christmas with my mom; New Year's Eve (our 1st anniversary!) with my dad. It was a very pleasant trip.

I've got some working Perl hooks into the Ghostscript API, everything except for gsapi_set_stdio(), gsapi_set_poll(), and gsapi_set_display_callback(). It's enough to do what I need, which is catch gs errors when I'm creating pdfs, but I don't think I have time to get the GS API working under VMS, which is where I need it.

My work is pushing me in other directions. Our group, which until now has always been the VMS group, is taking over an application from another group which runs on a BEA WebLogic Application Server under Solaris.

I guess now I get to find out whether Java lives up to all the hype.

I suggested that we put together a development box with the open-source alternative to WebLogic ... which, I'm guessing, is Tomcat/JBoss. I took a spare parts box home to configure and when I swapped in the largest hard drive I had available, I found it was already a Debian "potato" boot disk. I have a bit of mucking around to make it have the appropriate drivers for its new home, but it's still a lot easier than installing from scratch (especially since this box has no cd-rom drive).

Now, I know how to reset the root password when it's unavailable. I didn't even have to use a boot floppy.

This is a good day.

Incidentally, I received a random SirCam document from Taiwan which is in Big5 Chinese encoding. I know I probably shouldn't, but I'm going to disinfect it and try to decipher it.

My newest idea for a program to help me learn Chinese is based on the idea that it's hard for me to easily distinguish between all of those unfamiliar characters, even not considering their meanings.

So, a simple game: The character to match is shown at the top, and there is a field of moving characters, bouncing off each other and off the borders in billiard-ball fashion, and the goal is to click on the matching character. Of course, it gets faster and faster and all that.

My wife tells me that this would be good for Chinese children, as well as us ignorant foreigners who hope to improve ourselves.

The question is: what platform, what environment? I had been thinking of a GTK app, but when my wife heard my idea, she immediately asked me if I was going to do it in JavaScript, like my other toy for learning Chinese. Well, I wonder if that's possible? I thought that some cute web things where things follow your mouse around were done in JavaScript, so unless I'm mistaken, the basic functionality is there. The "faster and faster" part would probably fall down though.

Then, the F-word was mentioned: couldn't I do it in Flash? The combination of wanting to keep it in the browser (which would make this kind of educational toy useful to a lot more people, and that's desirable) and having reasonable performance make Flash a good choice ...

... but, I have no tools for developing Flash, and I don't know of any that exist for Linux. Besides, it's not free, and I don't like that one bit.

Well, it's just a vague idea at this point ... one more project in the heap.

I'd like to say I'm halfway through my perl module to wrap libgs (you know, Ghostscript) but in terms of what I still need to learn, maybe one-tenth done is more accurate.

Passing I/O references from C to Perl and back is a Major Arcanum. I got some good help on the perl-xs mailing list, but the fact that the sv_2io() function I evedently need to use for passing handles isn't formally documented anywhere is disquieting, especially when you further consider the fact that perldoc perlapi sez "The interfaces of any functions that are not listed here are subject to change without notice."

At one point I was working on the perl interface to libcurl; I wrote a hook into the progress callback so you could write your progress function in perl. Most of what libcurl is about is I/O, though, and some more clueful people than me stepped in to get that working. The threading requirement for libcurl is what really threw me for a loop; to me, the statement in the documented Ghostscript API that warns "At this stage, Ghostscript supports only one instance" is a great relief.

I guess I will need to experiment in several environments and look at (shudder) some of the Perl sources to make sure I can get things working ...

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