Older blog entries for forrest (starting at number 42)

I'm quite excited to have discovered Rosegarden-4 because it has an interface that reminds me somewhat of good ol' Music-X I used to use on my Amiga 500.

However, I've just spent several hours trying to get a sound out of it, to no avail. Yes, I did get my sound card working since last I posted. I have the requisite JACK working -- I checked that with AlsaPlayer.

I wonder if I'd have better luck if I installed KDE (the native environs of this app) instead of using it from fvwm?

Oh well, enough for a night. My wife's already in bed.

Hey, I got a new machine! After I finally realized that my old machine "junkyard" which wouldn't run FreeBSD, OpenBSD or The Hurd was actually flaking out on me, I splurged and got a dual-Athlon system.

I purchased one from KC Computers almost exactly like raph's box, Spectre. My processors are a little faster and I got an ATI Radeon video card, but otherwise it's the same. I have no use for such a powerful machine, really. I'm not a gamer. I told myself I wanted to learn more about SMP, but maybe it's my geek equivalent of a mid-life crisis sports car. (By that measure, it's damn cheap!).

I came up with the coolest name for my dual-processor machine -- "gemini". I'm sure hundreds of people must have taken the same train of thought, but I still think the choice was inspired.

So, I'm still configuring this beast. It took me a while to get X working, because I had to figure out that I needed to compile framebuffer support into the kernel. Unlike raph, I got the onboard networking to work without any difficulty (I guess spectre may have hardware problem). OTOH, I'm having a hell of a time getting sound working. The alsa modules install fine, but xmms tells me ** WARNING **: oss_open(): Failed to open audio device (/dev/dsp): No such device and mpg321 says Can't find a suitable libao driver. (Is device in use?)

I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually.

A friend unexpectedly gave me his Sharp Zaurus, too! He's kind of a gadget collecter and realized he didn't have time for it. It's a SL-5000D, the original "developer's model" (which came out before the official product release and has less memory). I guess he got it off of eBay.

So now I have a reason to try to get USB working on gemini: that's how to talk to the Zaurus when it's in its cradle.

All this is really cool, but it kind of makes me worry that I'll be configuring stuff for days and not get any programming done. I've got a perl module VMS::Logical which is really useful to VMS folk, and it just needs a little tweaking to make it CPAN-worthy. Maybe I'll just have to make time for that, even if my sound's still not working.

The HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux which has received some attention around here is certainly ... well ... strange. It states right at the beginning "This HOWTO is definitely not intended to help male Linux geeks find female Linux geeks to date." Well, why would you have a gender-specific focus like this if it doesn't relate to the one place where gender matters? (Yes, some people have different preferences, and for some people gender may not be the most important consideration in dating, but that's a side issue.) I know I was very happy to find a programmer to marry (albeit not a Linux one -- yet) because she can relate to my interests. That's important.

The document goes on to offer some very unflattering female stereotypes: there's actually a section entitled Women are less confident. Sheesh. There's a power in words: that's how spelling in the mundane sense is related to magickal spells. If you label women as "less confident", you will selectively recognize their failures of confidence and fail to see their boldness. In that way, the document itself is what it most wants not to be: patronizingly sexist.

That said, I don't really have a problem with it being in the HOWTOs. If I want to get USB going, I'll read the USB HOWTO, and if I want to "Encourage Women in Linux", I'll read this document. If there get to be too many "social HOWTOs" mixed in with the technical ones, they could be seperated. Still, every HOWTO is just the author's opinion; that's fine.

No OpenBSD for me

In my last diary entry I told of my inability to install FreeBSD on my old Pentium 90, now known as "junkyard". Well, I decided to use OpenBSD, and it's not booting, either.

While FreeBSD was unable to recognize my hard disk in order to mount my root partition (strange, considering it was booting off it), OpenBSD comes up I get messages that it's mounting all my partitions (ah, slices?) just fine.

The line after the mounting is done reads "setting tty flags".

... and that's it. I've let it sit for a half hour, and it just ain't going any further.

So much for being cooler than the linux geeks. I could install Debian on this box in my sleep. Everything is really standard; I don't see why the BSDs I've tried can't grok it. It's not like I didn't try hard.

Oh well, maybe I will try The Hurd.

On another note, here in MN we're really depressed over the tragic demise of Senator Wellstone. There's not much I can say about it -- I was certainly going to vote for him.

no FreeBSD for me

This is the last message in a thread describing the problem I'm having trying to install FreeBSD on an old Pentium 90 I have. You can look at the older messages in the thread, but I think this one (and the fact I got no response) really sums it up.

This machine was my first Linux box back in 1995. (Well, at least the mobo, power supply and blazing 2x CD reader are still original.) It was called "jacquard" back then; more recently it's been "junkyard". I thought it would be great to get to experiment with another OS, and FreeBSD was first on my list. Pity. I'll probably try Debian GNU/Hurd next, although I'm not terribly excited about that since I wanted something more mature. I'm afraid the other BSDs would probably have the same problem as FreeBSD, though.

Finally on CPAN

I applied for an account on the Perl Authors Upload Server for CPAN. I had a little problem because the initial acceptance mail was sent to "orrest" instead of "forrest". I got that fixed, so now I'm good to go. I just have to figure out how to package my modules properly.

Don't shopnbc.com

I got my wife a TV for her birthday. I really hate TV, but my wife ... well, I get a lot of time to work on my computer now.

Anyway, she saw something on the shopping program on NBC (shopping on NBC? I always thought that shopping channels were the rock-bottom of non-entertainment; I'm suprised a major network started doing that) which led us to their website, http://www.shopnbc.com/. We went to order an item and filled out the info. There was an option to enter our credit card # early ... it wouldn't be clear to most NBC shoppers at that point, but the deal was it was optional at that point, but they kindly offer to store your cc# forever and make it easy for you to shop. We skipped that part. When it came to entering an e-mail address, since I now have my own mailserver, we entered "shopnbc at abstractfactory dot org" (formatted as an e-mail address of course) in order to track spam. When we clicked "submit" for that first page, the next page informed us that our email address was already in their database, and we could click on a link to get our password mailed to us. Clicking on the link brought up the error message that we weren't really registered after all.

At that point I decided that my credit card number would have nothing to do with that web site. Oh, and there were javascript errors on every page. I wouldn't have been too suprised if MS-affiliate NBC built a website that wouldn't work under Mozilla and/or Linux, but this was IE6 on Win2K.

Hello, all.

I have finally released my new version of Hanzi Quiz upon the world.

That's at my new domain, abstractfactory.org, but I haven't set up a general webpage there yet. I don't have mail working for that domain yet either, but when I do, I will finally feel that I have a "permanent" home on the internet.

When that happens, I'll submit all my perl modules to CPAN. Oh Happy Day.

Hello, all.

I had thought that if I wrote some code using the DOM in Mozilla, it should be fairly simple to get it to run in IE6, since they are both converging on W3 standards. Last night was the first time I checked my new DOM version of Hanzi Quiz in IE6, and I learned how wrong that was.

IE6 Bug #1: When the contents of a <select> box are dynamically generated, only the first box on a line has the correct width; the others have near-zero width.
Workaround: Put the select boxes into a table; if there's only one select box in a cell, IE6 will render it correctly.

IE6 Bug #2: Setting the select box option which appears selected by default using the W3-standard myOption.defaultSelected = true doesn't work; the first item is always selected. I almost thought I had a workaround as I wrote this, but setting the default selection using the select object (e.g. mySelect.selectedIndex = 2), which also works as expected in Mozilla, is ignored by IE6 as well.

I had a grudging respect for IE6 when it helped me confirm that I had found a Moz bug, but now I've seriously revised my opinion downward.

I wonder how much effort I should put into making IE6 work at all?

A JavaScript conundrum

I suppose I should post this to an appropriate newsgroup, but hey, this is my diary after all ..

I'm creating an table of buttons using the DOM, and I want to give them all the same event handler, but getting each one to pass in its own number as a parameter.

I've tried this:

for (var i=0 ; i<Numchoices ; i++) {
   // ... bunch of stuff omitted ...
   var qbutton = document.createElement("button");
   qbutton.onclick = function () { process_answer(i); };
   // ... more stuff ...
}

The problem with this is that it doesn't use the value of i at the time I make the assignment; it keeps track of the variable, so that when it's all done, all the buttons have an onclick handler of process_answer(Numchoices). Oops.

I've tried all sorts of stuff without success.

Oh well. G'night, folks.

Concerning the recent discussions of anthrax: If

  1. Stephen J. Hatfill is a suspect, and
  2. he was in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) supporting the last-ditch efforts of the White Supremacist government to reamin in power during the suspicious anthrax outbreak of 1978-1980, and
  3. anthrax lies dormant in the soil, like, forever, and
  4. DNA analysis techniques can determine if a given anthrax sample is related to the strains used in various biological weapons laboratories ...
... it should be possible to determine what strain the Zimbabwe anthrax belongs to. Has this not been done, or are we just not being told?

This paper has some very interesting information about the outbreak.

(Meanwhile, my free software efforts continue at a snail's pace ... I may have a DOMified Hanzi Quiz done in a week or two.)

scrottie, I found your Perl Design Patterns stuff quite interesting.

I actually got quite a bit out of the Patterns in Perl page I found in your references -- it just so happens that I was able to use the "Factory Method" as soon as a I read about it:

I had written a perl class to create a pdfmaker object that calls the Ghostscript API through its various methods to create a pdf. A coworker of mine, who is more a "scripter" than a "programmer" took my pdfmaker, copied it, and minimally changed it into a jpegmaker. I wanted to join the two into a more general module, but wasn't sure how ... now I know.

What's the best place for a USian to register a domain name? I just thought of the perfect name today; the .com and .net are taken, but I wanted a .org anyway ... now I want to grab it before someone else does. I'm going to get DSL and run a server at home soon.

sej: TMBG at First Ave? Really? Really? REALLY?. I'll see if I can make it. Thanks for the tip.

Still wrestling with utf-8 in emacs. I discovered the mule-ucs debian package, which almost does what I want, but not quite.

I finally filed a bug report after experimenting with it on-and-off for a few weeks now. I did see some much weirder behavior, but when it came time to sit down and write out the details, the really bizarre things were not reproducible. I suppose that's just as well.

I always have this worry in the back of my mind that I'm the one who's stupid, and the bug is really a case of my misunderstanding something really basic.

Yeah, that's all I've done for Free Software in the past three weeks. Pathetic, isn't it?

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