Older blog entries for forrest (starting at number 52)

zhaoway: Google Groups is fine from here. Is that the Great Firewall in action?


I got no response from the author when I wrote him before. I fixed the compilation problems: One was solved by emulating the effects of this bison patch; and then there was another dinky tweak.

There are still runtime problems (most importantly, no sound) but I've got "the itch" now, and this progam will work on my computer.

I wrote the author a second time with my positive results and indicated my interest in continuing to work on it. I hope I will get a response this time.

I mean, just looking at the web page ... sooooooo much work went into that project, but then, in mid-2000, everything stopped, and there's no real clue as to why. All that effort shouldn't go to waste.

Advogato Proposal

UTF-8 should be the charset for advogato, so we can use it in our diaries and articles. Zenmeyang?

xing nian hao

I hope the Year of the Sheep will bring us all prosperity. In this crowd, I'm sure it will, because our free software wealth will increase and never decrease.

sound synthesis

Back when I was in high school, my friend Harry played a sustained piano chord at the end of an improvisation which, as it slowly decayed, gave way to an incredibly rich tapestry of beat frequencies. When I tried much later to reproduce this sort of sound, I realized that it must have been a unique artifact of the imperfect tuning of that particular piano -- I was never able to coax a well-tuned instrument to weave such a complex fabric.

The memory that fateful chord planted a seed in my mind which grew into the idea that an entire composition could be made of changing timbres; beat frequencies syncopated through clever synthesis techniques could effectively be rhythm and melody.

I've finally gotten around to following up on this a bit, and I'm looking at various sound synthesis packages. I had played with it a little before in CSound but I ended up writing perl to generate the complex .orc files I wanted to experiment with. It was just too clunky; not the right tool for my job.

So, I've been poking around the Linux Sound Pages looking at other synthesis packages to see if I can find anything more suited to my purposes.

I was quite impressed with the sound samples and web page for Tao but the latest version is labled 1.0-beta-30Apr2000 and sadly won't compile on my Debian "sid" box. I'm guessing this is due to some differences in g++ 3.x, but it errors out on a .yy file.

I wrote the author to see if he was still active with it, but have yet to receive a response. I guess the next thing to do is to make it work and send him a patch.

There are some other programs I'm looking at, but I've blathered on enough already.

If anyone has a suggestion about a sound synthesis program I should investigate, I'd be interested to hear it.

art thang

I have been working on an "art intro" page for www.abstractfactory.org, and put a preliminary version up at http://www.abstractfactory.org/arttest/.

Please imagine that all the "clever saying #n" statements are actually filled with text, along the lines of the bastardization of the famous George Clinton quote you see on the opening page.

I hope it works on Macs -- I've got no clue.

advogato sociology

It's funny that our resident troll rating everyone who ever reacted to his political rantings down to "1". I always thought that the intent of trolling was to provoke such responses. Oh well, I guess he actually inhabits a different advogatan planet than the rest of us. That's just as well.

I do wish we could stop our insane president from starting this ill-concieved war, though.


Will Ghostscript ever work on VMS again?

Ghostscript has been a big proof of open source at my place of employment. There are still a lot of people who think that if they pay thousands of dollars for a software solution, it must be better -- but Ghostscript has been used in production for years there, and that's proof that open source works. Colors had been less than optimal -- a constant source of complaints from gs detractors -- until -dUseCIEColor was introduced in 7.x. I thought things were great for a while, then I discovered an eps which crashed when that switch was used. The problem has been fixed in the latest 8.x, but somewhere along the way VMS support got broken. I kind of stuck my neck out advocating our use of gs; now I've got to fix this one way or another before the "I told you so"s start coming from the other camp.

I made a new release of Hanzi Quiz today.

Most of the work I put into it was getting it to work on Mac IE5. This thread shows what I went through to get a dynamically-generated select box which works on Moz, Win IE5+ and Mac IE5. I'm wondering what, if any, Javascript bugs I should submit to the Mozilla project from this. I'm happy I found something that works, but I'm clueless as to what is or isn't "supposed to" work.

I also modified the code so it remembers the answers to recently-asked questions and doesn't present them as choices in subsequent questions. Besides having more quiz data (which I hope someone else will do), this is the only request I've received.

My implementation of that feature was broken on Mac IE as well. I finally discovered that Mac IE Javascript arrays don't implement the "splice" method -- and trying to call it didn't generate an error; it just caused the browser to hang. I rolled my own.

I have to keep calling friends of mine with Macs -- "can you check it?" -- what a pain. There's still a problem rendering one of the pinyin accent marks in Mac IE, and those characters just show up as boxes. I assumed there must be a font install to fix this and rolled on with the release.

A friend of mine checked it in Safari and the question and all of the choices are blank. The (empty) choice buttons are rendered fine and work, though -- you just don't know what you're choosing. Sounds like another browser adventure I'll save for another day. If I'm lucky, they'll fix their code before I get around to trying to "fix" mine for their browser.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

I went back to GA for Christmas, where my mom has an iMac with OS 9 and my brother has OS X.

I discovered this bug with IE5 for Mac. Whack!

I wanted to avoid browser detection and just look for document.getElementById() but this bug throws a monkey wrench in that stategy.

Well, raph, I asked an authority (who is also an anarchist poet) about your family motto, and this was his response:

Try "Felix, Adhaerens, Viridis"

The 1st & last words are pretty straightforward. The middle word is kinda, well, sticky. "Adhaerens" is about the most literal translation, but it's not very elegant for a family motto. You could also use "Tenax" or "Lentus" which can mean sticky, but have other overtones besides.

And even color words aren't always so straight forward. See my gloss on "X/lwpotepa" 14 lines down on http://www.mindspring.com/~jcsiii/Sappho_index.htm

(Hmmm ... looks like I have to fix some javascript for him on that page he referenced)

Now maybe someone can tell me what's happened to FSF-CHINA's web site.

It's a beautiful, sunny day here in Minneapolis. Kind of amazing for December. I was out raking leaves (glad I got the chance!) but I'm taking a little break now.

The site hosting FSF-CHINA is still unreachable. Wei shen me?

I've got Debian back on my new box, after my brief experiment with Gentoo. Although I certainly like Debian better, there is an annoying problem I'm having which didn't happen under Gentoo:

I have a Radeon graphics card and a ViewSonic VX900 LCD monitor. (The monitor is great except for the fact it makes a high-pitched whine. Caveat Emptor.) The LCD screen is kind of cool because I don't have to worry about setting ModeLines in my XF86Config -- the screen analyzes the signal it's receiving and does an "auto image adjust" to display it properly.

Well, under Debian, it sometimes decides to "adjust" itself about 1/4 the width of the screen to the right. Sometimes pressing the buttons on the monitor will fix this; other times I've needed to restart X.

I thought this was a hardware-ish issue, but I did have Gentoo installed for several days and it never happened then. Hmmmm ... interesting.

Well, I must go pick up my wife, who's out shopping. Later.

11 Dec 2002 (updated 11 Dec 2002 at 05:37 UTC) »

Anyone know what's up with the site hosting FSF-CHINA being down? It appears www.rons.net.cn has some kind of DNS resolution problem. It's been that way for a few days at least.

I hope it's really just a technical issue and they'll be back up soon. You never know when you're dealing with China ... they've got other sorts of connectivity problems.

/me misses China, and hopes to go back, despite that sort of "issue".

Ok, I hate Gentoo

About the only thing I've done since I've installed Gentoo Linux is twiddle with my system, which is an annoying waste of time. I will be going back to Debian soon. There are a few things I like about Gentoo:

  • I like the fact that Gentoo uses GRUB instead of LILO. This makes it easier to experiment with other OSes like FreeBSD or The Hurd, should I choose to do so.
  • It was fairly easy to set up a ReiserFS partition, which isn't part of Debian's default install.
  • I also find the idea of keeping the boot partition unmounted during normal use intriguing (although I've never had a problem with a corrupt boot sector in my seven years of running Linux).
But these are all things I can bring to a Debian install, I'm sure. I can also do optimized building from source, perhaps using apt-src.

So, what sucks about Gentoo? Let me count the ways ...

  • The account and group management scripts are pathetically primitive. Gentoo's "useradd" can't even create a home directory for a new user. Maybe it's more BSD-like; whatever. It's crude. Sure, I could write my own scripts, but I don't consider that "doing something useful" when every other Linux distribution on the planet has already solved this.
  • It was hell getting an fvwm desktop set up. I had to read startup scripts to figure out I could create a ~/.xinitrc file containing "exec fvwm". Some things are tacked together -- when I emerge a new program it may show up on my fvwm menu, but hell if I know how. There is zero documentation, and I don't want to spend my time digging through scripts to get things to work.
  • There are things which aren't working quite right: when I minimize a window in fvwm, it tries to to this cute twisty thing as it shrinks. Well, that leaves lines all over my screen -- even inside other application windows. In KDE, the xv image viewer program (yeah, I know I should switch to something "more free" ... but anyway) doesn't refresh -- I have to minimize or move a window in front or something to prompt a refresh every time I change the image.
Soooooo ... back to Debian. I guess I've learned a few things, but I'd say my experience with Gentoo has mostly been a waste.
Moved to Gentoo

Recently I was searching around trying to figure out when Debian's "unstable" [sic] distro will go to gcc 3.x and what's holding it back. I can't locate the debian-devel discussion I stumbled onto now, but basically someone was saying that users were fleeing to Gentoo because Debian can't keep up with these changes.

Since I just got a new computer and don't have much on it yet, I thought "what the hey" and decided to give Gentoo a try.

The installation was a thouroughly masochistic process. The install docs only take you up to getting the system booting. To get X going, AFAICT you're on your own.

I've got a functional fvwm going, but it's not nearly as nice as what Debian gives me. There's no "menu-update" that I can tell.

I've built the latest KDE and GNOME, although I've never been interested in desktop environments. I guess I'll look at them before I go back to Debian.

I doubt I'll be keeping Gentoo, though.

43 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!