Older blog entries for jameson (starting at number 9)

Merge time for FreeSCI: The new GFX subsystem goes in today. There's still a lot of old code to be changed to the new system (almost everything's broken, but it compiles and some of the more common graphical stuff already works), but I'll put it in CVS to replace the old crud anyway. Maybe people will finally start to care then :-)

This raises an interesting question- when replacing a major portion of a project, where an when should it be merged in? I decided for "in CVS and when it's almost done" this time, but maybe keeping the development process more transparent would have been better. (Note that nobody appeared to have any interest in helping with it, so I didn't see much of a point in putting it in CVS earlier).

Now what I'm most curious about is how many tries I'll need until I've merged all relevant files into CVS...

After over two weeks of waiting, I finally got my login/password for the evil ISP service. I just had to sign over my soul, which isn't worth much without net access anyway.

Started merging in the new gfx subsystem. Now that I'm half way done, I'm pretty sure my ad-hoc widget set design sucks. Well, I'll call it a prototype and start over...

Wrote the last Pre-Diploma test on tuesday. My stomach believes I'll pass. (Pre-diploma tests are required to get your Pre-diploma in Germany. It's not considered an actual degree, though. If it was, it'd be worth slightly less than a Bachelor's Degree in CS, AFAIK. So, unless I got the terms wrong, I'm now something similar to a graduate student (unless I failed the exam, of course). I don't feel any better yet, though; maybe I'll have to wait for the actual Pre-diploma to be Enlightened.)

They did it... again! Doing two weeks' worths of updates simultaneously probably was a bad idea, as it broke my woody (as you can imagine, this is a most painful experience). Apparently libc is buggy, which meant that all of the commands I needed to restore the system didn't work. ar and gzip worked fine (as did cp, but not ls...), but tar and all commands for doing remote file transfers were broken, so I had to restore my system from a different box.

Finally watched the End of Evangelion. It was more flashy than the original 25th and 26th episodes and definitely had more drama (They killed my favorite character! Those bastards! She got a pretty decent exit, though). I still enjoyed the original episodes, mostly because they were pretty expensive, but also because they were quite original in style (a character development tour de force). Both variants got the point across, though.

I finally gave in to the dark side and signed up with Germany's big bad telco monopolist's service. This is a sad day, but I need net access, and no other ISP provides that service for a fixed monthly fee anymore.

Only one bug left. Also, I decided I'd put in 'dirty frame' management before merging the stuff in.

Linux World Conference & Expo in FFM (Frankfurt/Main)
The show was much smaller than CeBit (by several orders of magnitude, actually), but it made up for that with coolness. I talked with a few people from Compaq/API (and got an API t-shirt- Woo-Hoo!), two KDE guys (for some reason, the GNOME booth was empty), and even met Alexandre Julliard of WINE fame. Unfortunately, I was late to the show, so I missed most of Linus.
One of the things that really surprised me was the amount of stuff they were giving out for free; much more than they did on CeBit (or maybe I was just too late for that one). We even got free drinks and lunch packets.

Finally got a chance to watch that show in the original US version. It's considerably better there, but I have to admit that the German synchro speakers aren't as bad as some I've heard (or maybe I'm just too used to them).
Anyway, the show, while still great, appears to have lost something in its 11th season. I can't quite point my finger at it, but there just aren't any killer gags any more. They've even started re-using some of them, which, IMHO, is a pretty bad sign.

My ISP stopped letting its 'flat rate' customers (including me) log in. This sucks badly.

Nethack problems
The "bugfixes" I did to Nethack (to which, recently, fixes for custom level monsters and altars) were, obviously, workarounds for internal gcc deficiencies. Looks like the state of Debian's version of gcc for the Alpha is pretty bad... If someone wants that patch, drop me a note.

The FreeSCI new gfx subsystem is almost complete, except for a few bugs that need to be fixed and the actual merge into the main tree (which should take a while). It appears to be considerably faster than the original system (no surprise there) while taking up more memory.

Human embryo stuff
Somehow, this reminds me of the Human Instrumentality Project (note that the boy's name is Adam, too). Is this a good thing or is it not? Well, they want to keep the boy, so I'm leaning towards "good thing" in this case. Of course, the issue is anything but trivial ethically- how would you react if your parents told you that you were chosen to live because you could save your sister's life? It's not that bad in this case, but the idea of arbitrarily letting humans choose which of a set of embryos are to live a life and which are to be discarded makes you wonder whether we're intelligent and wise enough to making decisions about life and death. Personally, I'm quite sure that we are anything but.

"Fixed" a heisenbug in Nethack 3.3.1 that kept moving doors to the far left/top of the level in many cases. Might be a compiler problem (gcc 2.95.2/Alpha/Linux). However, I've heard of no one else having those kinds of problems, so either Alpha/Linux people don't play Nethack, or something is fundamentally broken here.

Anyway, this turned out to be my worst idea so far. There won't be much of a point in attending to the tests I'd have to write in two weeks, unless they are about topics such as identifying wands, monsters' special abilities and how to work around them, or dietary strategies to survive in the Dungeons of Doom.

Referring to my belief that no sane person would want to link against a versionning tool, cpw pointed out a few potential candidates for doing just that. Being used to versionning frontends (only at work, and not by choice...) that use fork()/execvp() for this kind of stuff, I didn't consider this might be insufficient in some cases. I've never seen anything that linked against, say, CVS, though... Well, point taken. But I don't agree with him that there are whole arseloads of programs that would want to do that (of couse, that depends on the individual arse). And, considering their origin, I'm not sure if I'd want to use them.

Sun vs. the GPL

I guess most of you read the article linked to by Slashdot. Does anybody have a link to an official press release or something like that? From what I got from the article, it sounds as if it's a code generator/compiler thingy that doesn't actually contain any GPL'd code. Since the GPL allows everybody to do what he wants on his own box (it's only about distribution, after all), I don't see where the violation would be in that case. I'm not even sure it's against the GPL spirit- people can still share the original sources, modify them, and adjust them to their needs.

By the way, is there any point in running Solaris on ia32? No, I'm not being sarcastic, just wondering- I've never seen a Solaris/ia32 box myself.

Had a look at subversion, which Stab's diary entry pointed to. Their goals look pretty neat, even though it might have been easier to improve CVS to do just that (don't know what state the CVS sources are in, though).

It took me a while to find their license. It's definitely not compatible to the GPL (who would want to link against a versionning, tool, though), but it should conform to the DFSG, if I'm not mistaken. However, I don't quite understand clause #4:

 * 4. The hosted project names must not be used to endorse
or promote
 * products derived from this software without prior written
 * permission. For written permission, please contact

So project names must not be used to endorse/promote derived products? If I understood that correctly, this means that I mustn't host hypothetical projects called something along the lines of "please-derive-a-program-from-subversion" in a subversion repository. Nor may I host "foo" and "bar" in a subversion repository and then post something like "Hi everyone, my name is Joe R. Hacker. You may recognize me from projects such as 'foo' and 'bar', and, by the way, please back up project 'quux', which happens to be an improved version of 'subversion'". Or am I getting something wrong there?

Anyway, utah-glx appears to have made its way into Debian/Alpha. <zoidberg>Hooray!</zoidberg> Too bad it crashes X as soon as I create a glx context. My G400 MAX works fine with glx.so from march, though. Well, almost. I'm back to software rendering now, which is reasonably fast (moebius runs considerably faster in sofware- on 1600x1200 w/ 32bpp. Looks like the triangles have to wait for the bus. Or they forgot to buy a ticket and got caught. Whatever.)

13 Sep 2000 (updated 13 Sep 2000 at 21:08 UTC) »

Hmm, it's been a while... I wanted to update this thing more regularly. However, doing stuff regularly usually means that I have to force myself to do it three to four times until I'm used to it, so it'll probably be a while until that happens.

A lot of stuff happened. I'll leave the KDE/RMS stuff and Windows ME discussions (is it really worth discussing?) to people who have more time on their hands. (Actually, I wanted to give KDE a try now that it's free, but Qt 2.2.0 doesn't compile on the Alpha.)

Last wednesday, my ISP stopped allowing me to dial in. Strange, I thought, and wandered off to the office, where I learned from the Heise Newsticker(my primary source for news- yes, slashdot is only #2) they'd went bankrupt. When I went back home, I noticed I'd lost my cell phone somewhere along the way. Great. It took four days until I got a subscription to a different ISP (and exactly as long to get a new SIM card). Well, things are almost back to normal now, even though I'm still limited to ISDN. According to some rumors, DSL will be available in my area before the end of the year; ADSL only, though (128 kbps upstream / 768 kbps downstream).

Well, I don't really have time to do anything serious in the net or install interesting stuff on my web server ATM; two pre-diploma tests (the last 2 of 5) are approaching rapidly. And at least one of them is about stuff I don't have any clue about... In the few spare seconds that remain, the new FreeSCI graphics system is advancing- slowly (see the page pointed to by my previous diary entry- it's got a link to a new updated page near the end). Soon, it'll be time to write object-oriented code (widget management stuff) in plain C. This will be... fun. Well, at least I got confirmation from the two (current) main contributors to the project that they're still interested in it (and at least one of them has worked on it recently), so I'm happy to announce that FreeSCI is just in cryostasis, waiting to be woken up some time next month.

Speaking of cryostasis, the Futurama pilot was shown last week- or, at least, what was left of it after they'd localized it (or should that be "synchronized"? "mutilated" may be the most appropriate verb, though) into german. I'm seriously glad I saw it english first... For people who are interested in the quality of synchronized shows on Germany's TV broadcasting companies, there's a german article about the mis-translated Futurama episode at Telepolis (which is sort of a part of the Heise Newsticker).

When I'm talking about animated shows, I should mention that I finished Serial Experiments Lain recently (13 episodes, japanese with english subtitles). It's one of the best Anime shows I've seen so far (rating only the parts I understood), and I'd readily recommend it to anyone who's looking for a replacement drug for LSD.

Real life's catching up with me again- the summer term is hardly over, but my pay job calls for me once more. It'll be at least four weeks on the demi-dark side of software design & development ('open systems', i.e. technical specs and stuff, but not 'free software') until I can do something useful again.

Anyway, people interested in FreeSCI might want to check out the inofficial new graphics system demo page, which shows off some of the features and many of the bugs in the scalable pic resource renderer which is part of the new graphics subsystem.
Apparently, Lance Ewing (who is somewhat related to AGI research) wrote a similarly scaleable pic renderer for AGI a while back- maybe that'd be a nice addition to Sarien once they complete the transition to the new graphics engine.

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