Older blog entries for khazad (starting at number 20)

I had passed in an exam for a job on the government and started working this week on Serpro. Moved to Brasilia. Job description: "Our platform is Windows. All our systems are in ASP (HTML + VBScript + JavaScript) and Visual Basic." I can hardly wait for my MSc on computer science to be approved so that in March I go back to Campinas and quit this job with a long letter about how wrong is spending tax money on M$ licenses. At least I'm in one of these CMM places where I'll probably draw millions of diagrams and never get to see a line of code (yeah, calling ASP code is dirty).

P.S.: at least Serpro's ping time to my MUD server is smaller than my previous job's link. Warrior Dwarf, level 38 and going.

Just a quick update on the firing: They fired all 9 employees in the Campinas office, which is being closed. They tried to convince the first ones to go, like me, that it was a single dismiss, but later on monday we found out everyone was gone and the office was going to be closed. One of the managers opened his own company and stole the maintenance and support contracts from us, outsourcing it.
I can't join the development of the WinCE apps because the company doesn't have enough licenses of the CE toolkit (eVC++ wouldn't work on some older Jornadas and Compaq C-series). I can't join the development of the server-side app because the high bosses consider it to be in a frozen state and no one but the original developers can touch it. I was assigned to a database reverse engineering task which the Solaris server's memory and Oracle's rollback segments just can't handle (and DBAs refuse to extend or add more of them).

Today, after getting there 2 hours late (and I called them early to say that I'd be late) because I was in the university choosing my MSc program for 2002, I was fired for 1. not accomplishing the db reverse engineering task (not my fault, give me more storage or reduce the database) 2. being late 3. setting all my NT fonts to Anghertas of Moria. (and they discovered #3 because everybody logs in the NT workstations as administrators, same password everywhere).

I should be sad, but somehow I just am not.

22 Oct 2001 (updated 22 Oct 2001 at 04:47 UTC) »
an emacs version that can buy liquor
/. has made us the favor to DoS the GNU ftp repository before the mirrors could update themselves.

Meanwhile, if you fellow reader is willing to take up on an exciting open-source project, how about reimplementing Emacs from the ground up in XUL (the Mozilla interface layer that achieved the lovely capability of being as slow as Java) with a Lisp interpreter written in Java ?

Of course, since emacs currently includes a mail reader, a news reader and, maybe (I'm not sure) a simple HTTP browser, this would enable you to run Mozilla, run Emacs, then browse the web from Emacs. Lovely, isn't it ?

Can you see AOL using Mozilla as their default browser (not just Gecko) ? Heh

AOLer: How do I retract the cup holder ?
Support: Click on Tasks, Tools, GNU, Emaczilla.
...(50 seconds, customer has a dual 3 GHz Athlon)...
Support: Type Meta-X , (emacs-system-drive-tray-close '(dev cdrom)), enter.
AOLer: Meta ?
Support: er..., make that Alt.

Just finished my first IOCCC entry. It's been a couple of years that I want to enter the contest but always missed the deadline, first entry almost done (already fits the size constraints, works fine, I just need to give it a nice layout) and I already have a sick idea to explore the new 2048-non-whitespace-limit rule. Oh, joy.

    You gotta stem the evil tide
    And keep it all on the inside
    Mary you're nearly a treat
    Mary you're nearly a treat
    But you're really a cry.
-- Pigs (Three Different Ones) in Pink Floyd - Animals
new job
At last, I got a job. It consists of designing, writing and maintaining software on PDAs. Given my previous experience with Windows API, I'm starting with the Windows CE devices, but the company currently works with Palm too. Most people there are Un*x enthusiasts, and the PDAs just aren't running Linux/NetBSD for the OS comes in ROM (blame HP and Compaq). I had to choose between two positions, this one that I got here in Campinas, and another in Sao Bernardo do Campo, 150 km from here. Even though the other position was for writing Linux device drivers for the hardware the other company manufactures (mostly industrial sensors that are plugged in single-board PCs based on the 386EX processor), the logistics for moving out of Campinas was very complicated and I would need to drop all my open source projects to move. (Here in the state of Sao Paulo getting a phone line capable of dial-up access (i.e., not WLL or cell phone) can take up to 2 years, and I'd need to pay both a rent on the new city and keep paying the apartment here in Campinas. I'd lose money and wouldn't be able to access the net from home for a long, long time, and my projects would die. Not to mention that S.B. do Campo is in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, one of the most polluted, violent and overcrowded regions of South America, not the place I dream of living in.

MSX / Uzix / FOCA

This week I'm restarting the work on my FOCA compiler system for the MSX/Uzix platform. For those who don't know, check the link, but MSX is an 8-bit computer based on the Z80 processor with nice graphics and sound capabilities popular in Brazil, Japan, Netherlands and Spain in the 1980s. Uzix is a Unix implementation for the MSX, implemented by a college mate who graduated along with me at Unicamp. The system is in development and I committed myself to writing a compiler/linker/assembler system for the lil'machine. I hope to present a working beta of FOCA (Fudeba: Optimizer, Compiler and Assembler) at the Brazilian MSX meeting that will happen in Jau / SP in the first week of november.

Unfortunately I've slowed down a lot the development, but it's almost done, most TODOs are GUI frills. I hope to have 0.4.x by the end of august.

birthday and guitars
After some months without time to run through electronic component shops to look for the capacitor that was burned in my amplifier, I finally got it and fixed it. Thus today I was able to enjoy my birthday with the volume knob on the loudest and reverb on its finest. I shouldn't be so happy at scaring away my neighbours, but hey :-)

23 Jul 2001 (updated 23 Jul 2001 at 02:42 UTC) »

I'm back to Campinas for another round of job interviews.

Mandrake "Usability"
Last weekend I was in my mother's house. I took one of the Mandrake 7.2 shrink-wrap boxes Mandrake gave me on New York's Linux World Expo. The only time I tried to install one of these on a friend's computer here in Campinas it failed completely to detect the partition table on the hard drive (while RH 6.2 and FreeBSD 4.2 detected it fine, same computer).

Here goes a report of the epopea:
After deciding that repartitioning was a bad idea (no backup media around), and as Mandrake's manual said the Linux4Win install was a bit slower, I decided for it. I boot from CD 1, start installing... the progress indicator starts saying "34 minutes total, 34 minutes left". It just keeps increasing. 40. 55. 1h20. 1h40. I came in later and it was reading '2h09 total, 4 minutes left'. Those must have been the longest 4 minutes ever, they lasted like half an hour, after which I started hitting the Cancel button on screen. The button went 'down' and 'up'. I must have hit it about 50 times. Nothing happens. I peruse the VTs, RPM says it's working. Reboot, remove C:\lnx4win, try again with less packages... I notice also that you can't go back and forth in the installation.

After another 2 hours, installing only the basic, it's done. GRUB fails to load the newly installed Mandrake system. fdisk /MBR to restore it, and start it from the .exe in Windows. It takes eons to load. It was a K6-2 500 MHz/64MB machine and it took like 6 minutes to get past the green OKs part of the boot process. X, which worked so cute during the install, comes in without mouse. DrakXConf uses a non-standard widget to present the 'clones of Control Panel items', making it impossible to select the 'Configure Mouse' item with the keyboard. All in all, it was too sluggish to use.

Now, the most funny thing is that I hear lots of people saying Slackware is not well suited for newbies and that Mandrake is the most 'user-friendly' Linux distro around. I'm using Slackware since late 1996, have tried RH and Conectiva just to come back crying to Slackware. Some comparisons:

1. Slack seems to use a regular, unmodified kernel. It never failed to detect the partition tables on me.

2. Slack uses text mode. It's not so cute, but when I 'hit' a button, it works (unlike Mandrake's Cancel button).

3. Slack never lied about the time left to finish for me.

4. I can go back and forth in Slack's installation.

(Everything I say about Slack above applies to FreeBSD's install too)

Not to mention that I had to manually edit /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 to configure the mouse on this experience. Recommending Mandrake for newbies looks offensive.

It's been some weeks since I last touched the code, better work a little on it tonight.

...currently brainstorming some interesting way to protest against Adobe (first PDF (Pifious Document Format), then KIllustrator, now this...), send suggestions if you have any :-)

Well, looks like all the easy bugs are gone, now it's time to struggle with the die-hard ones, and that's why I'm taking longer to release more 0.3.x versions.

Anyway, I'm going to Brasilia for some days, maybe the bugs will be dead when I get back :-)

I should also consider implementing single-process tracking in gPS and call it 1.0.0, it's been a long time I don't touch that one, and it shouldn't be 0.10.3 for all eternity.

A review just came out talking about chess interfaces for Linux (including eboard), here is the review itself and here is a thread about in in Linux Today.

It's been a long time since my last note and until someone remove that awful link that's screwing up Advogato layout I'm not reading diary notes anymore.

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