Older blog entries for robey (starting at number 10)

Well that was a nice Thanksgiving. After work hell for the first half of the week, i worked "from home" on Wednesday and then avoided email and IRC/say2 from Thursday to Sunday: i highly recommend it.

Since i've forbidden myself to buy Final Fantasy IX until i finish a music project, i went by Blockbuster and picked up the "Final Fantasy Anthology" (V and VI). Both are more primitive than VII, obviously, but i liked V enough that i've gotten hooked and it's looking like renting them was an unwise choice. I think i'm going to have to wean myself from it before the late fees pile up too bad.

For Thanksgiving, Greg and i picked up some stuff from Safeway and make a nice "baked chicken" meal with veggies and bread, and watched Vertigo -- you know, the traditional Thanksgiving movie! I had a vague idea for veggies: slices of zucchini and squash cooked in a big pan. Greg was able to magically transform my vague idea into a viable dish (which was good!). I've learned to leave all vegetable cooking to him: anyone who can chop vegetables so well must be an expert.

Strick is back in town, so on Sunday night we all went (with Rupe, Matt, and Geoff) down to Santa Cruz and pigged out at Pink Godzilla sushi (a long-overdue idea). Strick and i swapped ideas about say2 and smilax on the way back, plus he'd been thinking of a say2-like mod to IRC, which proved to me that we're on the right track.

Got CVS working on the Mac, so i could hack on goo (and maybe even say2) over the coming holidays. Plugged my home machine into a fairly cheap (but servicable) UPS so it can shutdown cleanly when the monthly PG&E power outage happens. Otherwise avoiding work because i'm frustrated with the state of the installer, but hopefully it will be okay after they do this "patch" release, and we can stop wasting time and actually fix the broken parts.

Eazel rearranged the cube layout in our building last week (to add more cubes) so i arrived on Monday to find the building more "full" than before, and spent most of the day unpacking my stuff and getting my computers set up right. Shane, Mike, Eskil and i are now in one big (or not so big) cube. It's nice to sit close enough to the people i work with that i don't have to shout across the building anymore.

We're going to do another release of the bootstrap Nautilus installer early next week to fix some of the immediate bugs that were causing heartache: memory leaks, odd error messages, its uncanny desire to erase KDE packages -- the usual stuff that makes me doubt my own sanity. (Do i write code or just bugs?)

Greg and i got the rack-mount machine installed last weekend and it's pretty nice. It's weird now, because it's not in my living room anymore so i don't think about it much, but it's always around. I guess having a machine in a coloc is a lot like not having a machine at all, if it runs itself well.

In the post-PR2 lull i got a little bit more work done on say2 (but not a whole lot). I decided to try to tackle the SSL stuff because it's made me curious for a long time and nobody seems to know how the heck it works -- or how the heck to make it do anything useful. Getting client-mode SSL to work in ammonite was mostly copying other people's code and twiddling it until magic happened. So after fighting tooth and nail with this stuff, i finally managed to get some socket code written that can be an SSL server or client with a minimum of fuss. Wonder if any other gnome projects could use that? They'd probably rather write their own, i bet.

So the next step will be setting up cert swapping between sephiroth (say2 server) and the perl client, and getting them to make a secure connection. Hopefully this part will be a little easier (though i'm in utter fear of what the perl openssl library API looks like).

Just finished a very funny book Eli lent me: "Youth In Revolt" -- highly recommend it. Now halfway through "Soul of a New Machine", non-fiction about a computer company in Boston in the Carter era. I looked it up on the web: Data General was indeed a real company. Scary how quickly some things can fade into oblivion.

I just voted in the gnome foundation elections. If I know you and I didn't vote for you, it's because I'd rather have you coding than participating in politics. Especially those of you who were running "to pick up chicks": everyone knows that miserable sex-starved programmers write better code! :)

4 Nov 2000 (updated 4 Nov 2000 at 03:04 UTC) »

Been too long since i posted an entry. Things have been really busy at Eazel because we've been getting ready for the PR2 release of Nautilus, and it's the first time a lot of the trilobite stuff will be visible and easily accessible. Eskil and i have been working on the RPM installation system, and it's looking really nice. He took my quick hack for resolving a Redhat 6.2 installation problem and turned into this generalized problem-solver that's totally going to kick ass. I'm sure it all has lots of bugs that we haven't found yet, but the idea that this stuff works at all is really cool.

Greg and i finally solved the issue with the rack-mount case by taking it back to Central Computer and exchanging it for a Boom rack which had risers on two slots instead of one. To our surprise, the risers were actually on slots 2 and 3: they were prepared for the rise of AGP! So we can use both slots in this case, which was really nice. The whole case seems to be designed well, as if it was designed by people who actually do a lot of rack mounting. I'm impressed and pleased with Boom now.

We got the 3 60G drives in, and set up a RAID5 on it: 120G block device with a redundant drive. The 120G block device then became a 114G reiserfs partition (it journals, which makes it much faster at recovering from crashes on big disks than ext2). We need to do a little more testing, but i think we'll be ready to put this machine in the coloc next weekend -- yay!

Say2 switched over to using the database for user logins now. The next task (which i avoided starting while work was so heated up) is to figure out a way to use the openssl library to do encrypted connections, without using the cert baggage. I want to do my own authentication over ssl using raw DSA keys (Frank at work convinced me that the overhead of X509 certs is just not worth dealing with them). I figure the client and server could exchange keys when they first meet, just like ssh. At worst, i can make up a bogus cert that's used by all say2 servers. Also, answer convinced me that the details of splitting off the channel server merited a little more thought.

I'm incredibly infatuated with Plaid now. Bought a double-CD called "Trainer" which is just packed with stuff that burrows into my brain. Very little new music beyond that. Still working on the Venus EP, aiming for November. Did absolutely nothing for Halloween. My PS2 arrived a few days ago, and i bought a crappy game (Orphen) and tried out the DVD player (much cooler). Gonna bring it up to the city this weekend to show off and get better games for.

The rack-mount machine: we have most of the parts but unfortunately the rack case we got doesn't quite match the motherboard (the case assumes that your 1st slot is PCI, but on modern mobos the 1st slot is AGP). Probably this weekend we'll go exchange the case, since finding a flexible PCI extender has been nearly impossible. One place in the UK was selling them for 60 pounds!

Work has kept me busy this week -- so busy that i had to run out last night and buy cat food so poor Commie wouldn't starve. But it's been really productive, and hopefully next week it'll calm down a bit. Looking at the services stuff, I've actually started to feel like it's going to be pretty cool when we ship, i'm all excited about it again!

Lots of work stuff means not much say2 work, though we did get rudimentary database support working. The Big Switch will probably happen this weekend: next is either secure connections or channels (depending on which looks more interesting; right now its swaying toward secure connections).

My DSL works again, hooray!

Ate 3 donuts tonight, which was probably a bad idea, when added to the double espresso i had earlier. Guess i won't be going to sleep anytime soon. My DSL connection at home has been really spotty lately anyway, so there's little incentive for me to be there instead of here at work.

Say2's proof-of-concept server on bastille has gotten a small set of regulars now, so i guess it's a success so far. I've worked here and there on the code to hook it into an SQL database (for storing the user accounts) but haven't had a whole lot of time to put into it. Once that's done, i can either start looking at the SSL/SSH stuff (auth and encryption) or start trying to wedge channels into the infrastructure. Right now there's a single bogus channel just for testing.

Plaid is the coolest music i've been listening to lately. Other current faves: Club 8, Mojave 3 (hmm, some kind of number theme), 6ths, Godzuki, and for some inexplicable reason mfleming has gotten me hooked on an old Talking Heads album (which he claims he doesn't even listen to).

Greg bought the disks for the Linux rack-mount yesterday. We decided on a software raid-5 (parity raid) of 3 60G's, so we'll have 120G total. I get to foot the bill for the rest. :) Tried out serial tty support on Linux last night just to make sure my iBook will be able to talk to the machine once it's in a rack, and it looked okay. We're gonna try to put most of it together this weekend.

Went shopping for computer parts today -- we're going to make a rack-mounted Linux machine for reasons unknown. Looks like 60G drives will be about $200 when we buy them, which is cool (I bet that price will look ridiculous when read a year later), and the 800mhz Thunderbirds look like a nice buy. This is going to be cool. I think we settled on "buda" for a name.

I bought a little serial adaptor for my iBook, that converts my USB port into a serial port. Weirdly, Greg found an old program called Z-Term from the mid-90s that does serial-line terminals -- and it still works! It was just fine with using my USB port (even calling it a USB port, which couldn't possibly have existed when this program was written). Macs rule sometimes.

We went over to the Metreon (pronounce with French accent for big laffs) and stumbled into a "demo day" at Sonyland for the new Final Fantasy IX game -- for the PS1! The game looks really good though. I guess they just couldn't wait for the PS2. Mmmm Final Fantasy. Like I need another addiction right now. "eworld.com" said the PS/2 I ordered in June will be shipped as promised: yet another distraction. 17 days!

It's only been a week since I started using this as my online journal (after abandoning my other journal in January) and already some of my entries are causing some stirs. So I just want to reiterate that my journal entries are just that: personal journal entries. I use them to rant about things bothering me or just to chatter aimlessly about what's going on in my life. If I start censoring myself, the entries are no longer journals, they're articles meant for public consumption. My compromise on this has been to avoid mentioning people by name if I think they would be offended by what I say. I hope that's enough...

My living room carpet does seem to smell better after all the steam cleaning and baking soda stuff. It's still kinda icky in spots though -- I guess it's the mege-hopeless carpet. I bet it will start smelling sour again in another week or so. Time to find a new house!

I need to go eat now, so more later.

Annoying meeting today -- tried to sleep through it, but i'd gotten enough a full night's rest so i couldn't. Evil manager tried to pin blame on our team until we yelled at him. Sigh, this dude isn't gonna make it. I think this is like the 3rd time he's tried to throw around blame for things he doesn't know about, instead of being on top of what people are doing (you know, like a manager is supposed to do).

Various annoyances like that convinced me that i should ditch work this evening and go to the Mojave 3 concert, so i did and don't regret it at all. They were just what i needed, slow soothing songs with steel guitars about tough Vegas women and such. For a few songs, I lost track of where I was and just sorta drifted with the music, but part of that might have been the fact that I drank two beers and hadn't eaten since my lunch of cup ramen. My only complaint is that some of the songs sounded a lot alike (Greg thought so too). The opening band seemed to have been chosen simply because they were wearing country-western gear. They otherwise didn't have a lot to do with the rest of the night.

Afterwards we got burgers at the Video Cafe and watched part of an extremely annoying Jim Carrey movie about a lawyer who can't lie. It looked so bad i thought it might be a Disney movie. I bet it was.

Came home and vacuumed up the baking powder that was hopefully soaking up all the rest of the nasty smells from the downstairs carpet. It had certainly migrated from emitting a strong soapy odor to emitting a hybrid soapy/musty odor, so hopefully that means it was soaking things up. I guess i'll find out when i get a fresh smell tomorrow.

Living room is now empty -- yesterday g & i hauled all the furniture from the living room and dining room outside, and rented a steam cleaner to run over everything. There are still two "trouble spots" of dog-whatever leftover from the last tenants, but overall the room smells less musty.

The steam cleaner has a little white bin where sucked-up water gets stored. It sucks up surprisingly little water (i guess the carpet soaks most of it in) but the water it gets back is the blackest, evilest liquid i've ever seen. I'm not sure I find it easy to enter diary entries into a little HTML text widget that doesn't even stretch across the screen. This could definitely be cleaned up.

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