Older blog entries for lkcl (starting at number 168)

working for a cool company, now.

have a talk to do at linux expo on dce/rpc.

new [old] python project to release under BSD license on sf.net soon.

looked at project zooko was working on, it didn't install presumably to me having incompatible version of python.

number of lines of open source code written in last 6 months: zero.

[everyone but intended recipients: please ignore] stop dicking with the connections. thank you.



12kWatt 105mm diam x 60mm electric motors.

building work.


absolutely no coding whatsoever.

3 emails a day.





3 hours driving a day.



14 Jan 2002 (updated 14 Jan 2002 at 07:22 UTC) »

well, the micra it appears has the ability to make fuel disappear even when it's standing still, making my cobra's 14mpg city and 22mpg highway economy, if that is an appropriate word, look _really attractive_.

it's gone from 1/8 tank last week to empty and 1/4 tank yesterday to empty, overnight. this morning, it is indicating 1/2 full and it's not starting.


geek strikes back

orange has no access control on their staff being able to enable and disable services. this means that incompetent and ill-informed staff may not only mis-inform customers as to pricing and features but also disable the default setting of data service availability (9600baud) without a) warning the customer that enabling high-speed (28800 wow!) will take 24 hours b) informing the customer that there are _three_ speeds available, at standard rates off&peak for 9600, slightly higher than that for 14400, but that 28800 is 25p/min _flat_ rate c) actually switching _on_ the data service...

the guy i called back was very annoyed, told me of a company called softgsm.com that is trying to get their USB-nokia data cable approved by nokia (good luck guys) it would save me a _hell_ of a long cable+adaptor which is about 6 inches of plastic all joined together :)

i added an extra option -t 6 to the chatscripts, i now only wait 6 seconds for the phone to be told by "chat" to reset & wake up.


i have no idea how it happened. one minute i was minding my own business, unsubscribed from virtually every mailing list in sight, receiving 4-5 emails per day and very happy about it, and suddenly _whammo_ it's a full-blown 150 email warfare scenario the likes of which make me homesick for the times when i was in OZ. _not_.

actually, that's not true: i really enjoyed the social life in canberra. it was the other bits that got to me.

well, after the technical discussion attempts moved on into the usual slagging off introductions, followed by attempts to actually move into further technical discussions and justifications for directions to take, and everyone getting far too much information, wasting time, some very surprising comments, a deliberately sensationalist article, i think that, deep down, the guys on the samba team are beginning to realise that they have a maintenance problem on their hands, which i've been telling them for at least two years, now.

the people whose names do not begin with andrew tridgell and jeremy allison do actually realise that samba needs to become similar to apache's architecture: libraries, modules and services. one or two of those people are actually prepared to sort out the mess.

hopefully this will result in people not wasting any _more_ awfully large amount of time on an experimental codebase i developed in 1997 for exploratory purposes, using very time-consuming [but information-rich, which was the whole point] network-reverse-engineering techniques.

zak and the importance of waking up

i've often received messages that, despite their shocking nature, were very useful "early morning" messages.

in a similar vein to "never post 3am letters", most people need to be aware that starting work later in the morning _after having been up_ for at least two to three hours results in a much more productive day...

oh god, the geek strikes back!

sitting in a freezing room on a building site, at risk from aggravating rsi and the beginnings of arthritis, i am building up an arsenal of mobile computing technology. i am ashamed.

after various embarrassing fits-starts, i have linux 2.5.1 with ppp, usb, usb-serial, usb-serial-hub/converter (PL2303), also an IRDA port that doesn't work (*sigh* what a waste of 30 quid), a serial / data cable for my nokia 6210e phone, and i am mobile & online.

efax doesn't work, though.

occasionally hotplug gets confused.

once (using the alternative JE uhci driver) i got "uhci has stopped. this is bad!" - repeatedly. whoops.

the uhci driver keeps throwing "interrupt!" messages at me whenever it starts up, thereby causing the usb serial converter to not tell the phone that it's hey, time to wake up and get bizi, with the result that "chat" has to send an "alarm" after 30secs and then everything's hunky-dory.

... but at least i can send and receive email - to the client, who is in hong kong. the pain of the transfer speed is WELL offset by the pain of the cost of mobile phone charges to call hong kong.


2 Jan 2002 (updated 2 Jan 2002 at 18:00 UTC) »

tips to reverse-engineers:

_don't_ initialise the data to all zeros!

if it's a sparse data structure, you won't be able to tell what the lengths of fields are!

if you can guarantee the same sparse data input [where you don't know what the data structure sizes are] onto a randomly-filled area of memory, then changes in the memory area where it's copied to will tell you where the data structures start and end.

remember: if you initialise all memory to zeros, you won't be able to tell the difference between the input data containing zeros and the blank memory!

don't initialise to zero: non-zero means "information". thinking about it.... if you can, initialise to 0xdeadbeef or 0xfefefefe or 0xefefefef or 0x012345678. create a file. change the initialisation background. create another [identical] file. COMPARE THE TWO. [see article on how to reverse engineer and still be legal]

27 Dec 2001 (updated 27 Dec 2001 at 16:54 UTC) »

wha-heeey! after downloading ghostscript debs, _and_ after remembering to also download gs-fonts deb (*muuur*!) i now am the proud owner of a canon bjc55 colour printer that can actually print in colour. having promised myself never ever to buy any computing equipment that i didn't actually need, and therefore having _no_ clue on how to get printers to work, this is quite an achievement, and i am very chuffed :)

linuxprinting.org would be proud: another happily advised non-paying-customer.

rasmus, hi there: long time no see. i note that you comment that there are a number of people "waiting in the wings" to take over where one developer leaves off. well, that assumes that there are people _capable_ of taking over.

the level of complexity of some projects is actually greater than the momentum it may have acquired. a project that would take three years with one person leading it may take ten to fifty [man] years without them. and no, that's not an exaggeration.

24 Dec 2001 (updated 24 Dec 2001 at 12:39 UTC) »

well, i got a new printer, hurrah. i hate printers. printers are irritating. if they work, they work. if they go wrong (drivers, hardware etc), it's a _complete_ pain in the neck to fix.

my fun-and-games began when recompiling the kernel. the _actual_ problem was that you have to mkdev a device number of 180 in /dev, which i only discovered later by activating (kernel compile) mounting (/dev/devfs) devfs and doing ls -al /dev/devfs/bus/usb/lp0 AAAAGH.

2.4.4 usb support is crap, it failed to create the device. 2.4.7 created the device but i didn't know about device number 180, so downloaded patches 2.4.10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17, 2.4.14-2.5.0 and 2.5.1. compiled up multiple kernels, got on with the job of running several.

lost all my pcmcia options and i forgot about pcmcia serial support _and_ i forgot about ppp async ARGH. rediscovered them.

discovered devfs - experimental device filesystem support, in 2.5.1, hurrah! it showed me the device number! cat 'hello you stupid printer^L' > /dev/devfs/bus/usb/lp0 hurrah! it worked!

okay, *groan* so there was nothing wrong with 2.4.7, 2.4.10, 12 _or_ 2.5.1. now to recapture my lost settings, including my pcmcia 3c574/serial card...

anyway, the upshot is that i am now the proud owner of a _working_ and cute and very small portable Canon BJC55 deskjet printer. it sings to me when you put the new cartridge in [which is why it's cute - you think i'd call a printer 'cute' otherwise??? :) ] as it tests it.

i have no idea how to print graphics on it, and lpd doesn't recognise it properly, but i don't actually care. cat file.txt > /dev/usblp0 is good enough for me!

i can now print out "stuff" like invoices and faxes and statements for people, which i am ever so pleased about. of course... everyone else i talk to takes this kind of thing totally for granted [well _duur_ of _course_ you can print stuff out these days, this _is_ the modern age you backwards philistine twerp!]

remember the story i told last year about the royal navy in 1850 commissioning sea charts to be a) calculated accurately b) _printed_ accurately, after the royal navy discovered that 1 in 3 charts had copying (yes, copying) errors. an error in the third decimal place on sea charts can result in being off-course by hundreds of miles.

anyway: we seem to have the calculating bit down pat, but the printing is still leaving a lot to be desired... :)

[update: _now_ i read raph's latest diary entry *grin*]

clinton's "dimbleby" lecture at the LSE on wed, broadcast on bbc2 on sun, was fantastic. i am so relieved to hear a prominent american actually talking sense. bush - the stupid one that's been bought by u.s. companies - wouldn't have a hope of coherently stringing any two of the sentences in clinton's lecture together, even if they were placed in front of his nose to read out loud.

i feel really sorry for america. well... not really. democracy results in people getting the leaders that they _deserve_. everyone takes on the consequences of their actions and thoughts, whether they like it or not.


the building work, at least, has resulted in me writing a diary, wages, ordering, payment, invoicing and statements database plus a python command-line (enough for me to get by) to view invoices, orders, statements, cash invoices etc. kinda fun.

i get to add sales and other ledgers as soon as heather's explained it clearly enough to me :)

11 Dec 2001 (updated 11 Dec 2001 at 20:17 UTC) »

well, i feel a _Lot_ better having worked out that various suspicions regarding open source funding and therefore, by extension, open source companies, have a significantly higher probability attached to them [like, 99% instead of 70% or so].

the likelihood of there existing quite drastically important - and exploitable - security holes in a number of commercial linux vendors distributions is, therefore by extension, quite high.

purely conjecture, by being good at spotting patterns.

and also by being aware that the misnomer "no information", actually "negative results", is actually _useful_.

specifically, a number of statistically significant spurious time-wasting job offers and contracts rolled in at various significant times, leading me to conclude that something is drastically wrong with the popular viewpoint on who _actually_ runs open source.

the thing that _really_ pisses me off is what happened with linuxcare, and how these people jerked me around to the extent that a) i nearly had a nervous breakdown, and definitely went through some seriously heavy trauma b) i lost a lot of friends c) i lost a lot of money d) i lost the means to achieve my goals.

ends open source-related part. begins message to non-open-source individuals.

guys, you know who you are. if you're reading this, you made an enemy out of me. i won't make you pay for it, because you're not worth it. your arrogant manipulative short-sighted and ultimately evil nature contains the means by which you will fail without me having to be of assistance.

your interference causes too many waves to be tolerated and go unnoticed.

anyway. as a result, i am now working as a building labourer, for 12 hours a day, and have no time to spend doing open source software. congratulations, i bet you're real proud of yourselves.

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