|[COMP] Staying Home||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I woke up and realised I am quite light-headed. I can barely stand up straight. So I decided to take it easy and stay home. I did some math in the morning (of course). I also did some stuff on the computer. I compiled aspell support for mcabber so now when I chat on the console I have spell-checking. I wrote a few Makefile recipes, learning things such as substitution references and pattern matching. I built a completely new set of recipes for cooking up a normalized music collection.
I also fixed a bug in mplayer so now it will no longer hang for a few seconds going between files. This bug has bugged me for quite a while ever since I installed Fedora 13, moving between files on the playlist has been slow. Recently I noticed the delay shortened (I have no idea why), but it lengthened again a few days ago, making me once more aware of the problem. Today I decided to fix it. I searched online and couldn't find an answer (I found threads when people asking about this but no one knows how to answer). Eventually I gave up on searching and decided to fix it myself. And fix I did. Now it's working great. I hope I did not inadvertently broke something else. This is the beauty of open source software! I get to improve the code.
I did not open my door at all today. Just completely in my room. I have trouble lifting my head up, so I have to look down the whole day. It makes things like cooking a bit difficult, but I still managed. I also did a bit of reading (besides Bible which I usually read, or math books, I actually spent some time reading a leisure book).
|[COMP] Bashful Morning||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I got ready to jog but when I went outside I realised it was raining (I had my blinds closed). So I came back in and wrote bash scripts. I've had a perl script called presence.pl that monitors xscreensaver and logs and writes down my status of being "active" or "idle." I also had an acpi script that logs closing and opening of my laptop lid. I decided to refactor these through a bash script called presence that would manage logging and labelling, which made it simpler to also have it perform more tasks. Indeed, it now calls idle, a new bash script I wrote today, which would pause or resume a job that I wanted to have run only while the machine is idle. I further wrote a bash script called hsync that would wrap rsync in this way so I can do "background" transfers. Now when my computer is 15-minutes idle or when I close the laptop lid, it will automagically resume a file transfer. And when I use the computer again, it will pause it. Although cpu-intensive jobs can be controlled easily with nice, other resource-intensive applications such as Internet-heavy ones cannot be as easily controlled. I don't have too many transfer jobs and thus it is best just to run them while I am away. In fact, I have so few that I have trouble making it into a habit! Hence I need a script which I can "set it and forget it" whenever I need to.
Yes, I ended a paragraph with a preposition. I also reworked some bash scripts such as lock and blankscreen to take use of the features I wrote today. Then I set up network printer successfully. I could not get the scanner to be invoked over the network, however. Command-line scanning works just fine, so I'll leave it at that for now. I got the sound server transferred from module to matrix. I was unable to get RTP multicast to work properly with pulse, so I am sticking with module-native-protocol-tcp. Now matrix has replaced module in the capacities of file server, audio server, print server, and file backup server. I may soon turn module off, so my room is not so hot.
Besides taking care of all these computer tasks, I went to pick Alex up and had lunch with him at Hurry Curry.
|[COMP] Fedora 12 on module||0 comments|
This Thursday, I woke up at 9 AM! So late! Haven't woken up past 7 since going back to Taiwan. So let's see, in the last day, I slept for... hmm... noon to 3 and 11 to 9... 13 hours! Wow.
Today I installed Fedora 12 on module. Why? Well, it was running Feodra 7, and I had trouble retrofitting it with the pulseaudio audio system. So I just installed a new distro. Why 12 instead of 13? My 13 DVD is for 64-bit architecture, and module's cpu is still 32-bit. I first used a live edition to move the data out of the way into a subdirectory, and then install F12 on it without reformatting the hard drive. So all my data is intact. Yay!
Now I have audio from prime pulsing to module. I can finally remove my static-causing cables. It indeed causes weird noise, as one of my tutoring client asked me if I was listening to avant-garde music. I also pulled out an old speaker from Barmore to daisy chain to the kitchen. Now I can watch TV without blasting the volume way high. Crazy, huh?
Anyway, I should have done this distro update thing way long ago... module is not running anything critical, so it's not like I am going to break anything—I was probably just worried about losing data, but since I backed up a lot of things before my trip, this timing was perfect. Now module can utilise my widescreen display, and is no longer cropping at 4:3. Maybe I'll start watching video on it again.
|[COMP] T410 prime||0 comments|
This Thursday, my mother gave my sister a bath. Now she is clean and puffier, and cuter than ever! I've been using prime as my primary laptop for a day now. I should summarise its differences. At first I thought upgrading from a T400 to a T410 would be pointless, but boy, was I wrong! (Warning, below details my new T410 computer, it may be a boring read.)
- CPU: From 2.66 GHz to 2.67 GHz, not much change, but went from 2 threads to 4 threads (still duo core)! Now multitasking is easier than before.
- RAM: From 4 GB (which I could only use about 3 GB) to 8 GB. I have successfully utilised around 7 GB already... because
- OS: I finally ventured into installing a 64bit system. I am using the x86_64 version of Fedora 13. Indeed, 64bit provides additional challenges such as installing flash and such, but I managed.
- Keyboard: The ESC key is bigger, it takes up the space of the old ESC key and the F1 key. I'm getting used to this, stretching less to press ESC (which I have to press a lot since I am a heavy vim user). Consequently, the F1-F4 keys are shifted (well, so are the F5-F12 keys, but I feel the effect less) and I am still adapting. Often pressing F2 instead of F3, but I think I'll get used to this. DEL key is also bigger, taking place of the INS and DEL keys. Not much difference since there is little need in stretching up to press the DEL key. And I don't use the INS key much anyway. CAPSLOCK indicator light is on CAPSLOCK. Well, that's interesting, except I switched CAPSLOCK with left CTRL, as usual. The indicator light still works, but is kind of weird. Overall, the keyboard types very well. I like it.
- Sound: Hardware mute works, and more impressively, the volume control keys actually control the volume! Usually this does not work. Unfortunately, I no longer have the two jacks for headset and mic. Now there is a combo audio jack with 3 rings. I have to go get either a new adaptor or some new headset.
- Touchpad: Bigger and has a non-stick weird finish. I'm quickly enjoying the weird finish, but the size takes getting used to—I keep missing the scroll zone.
- Ports: I now have 4 USB ports, one is always powered, and they are once again horizontal (instead of being stupidly vertical in the T400). I also have DisplayPort, eSATA, and Firewire that I don't have use for yet. I like how the audio jack is on the side now. No ports in the front. This way it won't be cluttered and I can run cables from the side to the back of the computer. Ethernet still on the side, but modem in the back now (great, since I never use that in this day and age any more). Finger print reader which I have no desire to test. And I get a card reader! I can now put my memory card from my camera directly into my computer, and it works! This prevented me in buying a card reader-USB multipler combo that I was eyeing to replace both my USB hub and my card reader. Now I will simply retire my card reader and keep using my USB hub (or not, since I have so many ports now).
That's about it for the hardware side. On the software side, I got pretty much everything I wanted to work. I can use software to control the screen brightness, got all my usual packages to install correctly, updated > 1000 packages after the initial install. Even got dnsmasq to share my Ethernet connection wirelessly with my other laptops (thus eliminating the need and desire to buy a wireless access point). Sleep and hibernate works, too. Hibernation takes a minute or two, but that may be due to the 8GB of RAM needing to be written to disk? Anyway, things are good.
|[COMP] Primary Migration||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I got a haircut in the morning. This duration marks a 4-day deviation (elongation) from my usual 63-day cycle. Indeed, my hair was getting quite long, and I should have cut it the past Saturday to keep my routine. Oh well, what better time to change it up than in Taiwan?
Afterwards, I started primary migration of my laptops. I turned off unit, took out its hard drive, and connected it to prime and field to transfer data via a USB-SATA link. Now almost all the data is duplicated onto both prime and field (they both hold 320G hard drives). I also installed Xvlib-devel onto both computers, enabling Xvideo support for mplayer on both. And I also installed various packages (some counter-intuitive) in order to endow flash support in both firefox and google-chrome. Indeed, one needs to install nspluginwrapper in both i686 and x86_64 versions, and also install alsa-plugins-pulseaudio.i686 as well. Yes, I had the x86_64 installed before, but I do need the i686 version. Who knows why. (I should point out that this is my first time dealing with a 64-bit operating system. This way I can utilise my 8GiB of RAM!) Doing everything twice is both cumbersome and also time-saving (in terms of the total). It is definitely a new experience for me: configuring and initialising two very similar laptops at the same time. As of the night, unit is still off, and this is First Post(TM) from prime. A Google search for "xvideo x201s" returns my diary as the first hit, even before the thinkwiki page! This is most intriguing.
We had dinner with my mother's sister and her husband. I ate way too much because it was all-one-can-eat and I wanted to earn back the cost. I think everyone loses.
|[COMP] USB Install Fedora 13 on X201s||0 comments|
This Sunday, I went with my dad to play tennis early in the morning. We also practised volleyball a little. In the afternoon, I spent a huge deal of time trying to make a USB stick bootable in order to install Fedora 13 on my X201s (named field), which does not admit a standard DVD install since it has no optical drives. After playing around with lots of options and tools, I finally got the right boot images loaded to make things work. After installation, I realised the wireless still does not work. After more investigations of dmesg, lspci, and other things, I realised the firmware needed is missing, as this is quite a new device (Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250). After locating the microcode file, now my wireless works!
At night, my family went to dinner with the family of the NDHU President. My dad works very closely with him on a daily basis, being the whatever (dean or VP, depending on how we call it) of academic affairs. This is the same Japanese restaurant we went to a few days ago, and also the same one he treat us to last year. It was a fairly pleasant dinner, though basically it was filled with clever small talk most of the time. At least they were clever. Last time it was with their youngest daughter. This time she was there, but also their middle daughter. I think they have an older daughter that I haven't met yet.
|[COMP] Wrestling with Pulseaudio||0 comments|
This Friday, I got sucked into configuring Pulseaudio on my laptops. Since I have so many computers on, in the past I use hardware connections to mix the audio outputs into all using the same speakers. It would be nice to do this via the software, since I was getting a lot of static from the connectors. After playing around with settings and doing countless restarts of the sound daemons, I finally realised that I got the port number wrong (in my defense, it was the poor documentation that faulted me) so I opened up the wrong hole in my firewall. Thanks to netstat, I caught this and fixed it. Now I have audio streaming across the network. Yay!
Afterwards, my dad and I went to Hualien city a second time. Today we first went to the hospital for me to get my medicine for dizziness, had lunch at a Japanese restaurant that we frequent, then went to the department store to buy clothes. Then we went to the bakery, but they were not ready. So I went to the stationeries store while my dad went to get new glasses. Finally, we went to the bakery again as they were bringing out the fresh bread pastries. Yay!
Oh, and I bought tickets to go see Phantom (which is my favourite musical) in a month with Esther and Antonia (and their guests). Exciting.
|[COMP] Fighting with NVIDIA||0 comments|
This Thursday, I went with my dad to see my dentist, get my eyes checked (it's been 3 years and I still don't need new glasses!), and buy socks, shoes, and sports pants. Then we had lunch at my favourite restaurant, stopped by my favourite bakery, and then came home.
In the afternoon, I worked on my T410 prime. Yesterday the first problem I noticed was that the screen brightness controls work not. Today I compiled mplayer and noticed that there is no Xvideo support. To test out the problem, I ran my trusty friend glxgears. Sure enough, it is jumpy. Now starts the fight with NVIDIA. Contrary to my past laptops with Intel integrated graphics, this one is equipped with NVIDIA Quadro NVS 3100M. The preloaded open-source reverse-engineered Nouveau driver is probably the weak link here. So I tried to install the NVIDIA propriety driver. This required tweaking kernel boot options in order to remove certain modprobe kernel modules and to load new ones. After way too many reboots, I finally managed to set things up right. Now I have smooth graphics in glxgears. Time to test mplayer again. Well, still no Xvideo support, but we got VDPAU now. I'll take that! (This allows offloading portions of video decoding and post-processing to the GPU. Who wouldn't want that?) The video is also no longer jerky. But wait... no sound?
Okay, after thinking and investigating for a while, I realised an easy fix: install pulseaudio-libs-devel. Doh... it's always the devel packages that are missing. And yeah, I'm starting to like Pulse now. I used to quite dislike it when it first came out—a big ALSA fan I was. Even aRts or ESD felt better than giving in to Pulse. But here is its age now. (Remember OSS? Haha.) I also recompiled my xosd_logd program (back when I wrote C programs) to work with my x86_64 architecture (and this is why I no longer like writing compiled programs—I have to recompile them every time I migrate).
Now back to the fight with NVIDIA. Still no brightness adjustments. I tried echoing to /proc/acpi/video to no avail. Finally, editing xorg.conf saved the day. Whoa, that's funny... understanding xorg.conf has always been my weak points in configuring X. Oh well, glad it worked. And now echoing to /proc/acpi works as well! I can write scripts to change brightness. I even got automatic progressive dimmer to work with the idle counter. This should save some (small amount of) electricity.
One last task of the day: sharing Internet! Since I will be getting a small mobile computer (probably tomorrow) to bring back to Taiwan, I figured I would finally want wireless capabilities in my apartment. But do I want to go get a wireless router or access point? That's not cost effective. Why not use my primary laptop as a bridge? So I tried to get the T410 to share its wired Ethernet connection over its wireless card as a secured ad-hoc network. And after some heartaches with knetworkmanager, I decided to go with nm-applet instead and got it to work. At the moment I am typing on my T400 unit that is wirelessly connected to T410 prime that is connected to my router via cable (and a switch in the middle). Success!
|[COMP] Fedora 13 on T410||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I followed through with my plan to install Fedora 13 on my new laptop, Lenovo Thinkpad T410. For now, I am calling it prime. I customised it as usual, and did a few post-installation tasks. It is still in its testing stage, and I am doing liberal things to it—intending to possibly reinstall the whole thing in a few days. I did clone over my entire home directory, though, to make it more homey feel without needing to reconfigure (e.g., I have hotkeys automagically remapped out).
Besides this I also took care of some CCLI stuff for ACF, sent my dad to work and picked him up later, did a manipulative therapy session, did some math, and read lots of Bible. Oh, and I watched a bunch of TV today. Yesterday I pushed to stay awake until 20:15. Today the goal is 20:25. It's not getting any easier—though I am waking up after 5 now, so that's improvement.
|[COMP] Windows 7 on T400||0 comments|
This Tuesday, I read Bible and sang hymns in the morning. I also installed Windows 7 on a spare hard drive inserted into the T400. Actually, to be more specific, I restored the T410 image onto this spare hard drive in T400. I figured if this works out well, I can then erase the T410 hard drive and load Fedora 13 on it. Then I'll have T410 new hard drive (320G) running Fedora 13 as my new primary laptop. It also has 8GB of RAM, so I downloaded a 64bit version of F13 to install. I'll probably do this tomorrow.
After posting but before going to sleep last night, I came up with this ingenious programme. I will be pushing back my sleep time from 8 by extending it by 10 or 5 minutes in an alternating fashion. So last night I went to sleep at 8:10, tonight the goal is 8:15. I actually woke up later today, so it is possible I can go a lot more (which would be great).
Dad came home tonight. I haven't seen him on this trip yet since he was on a business trip. As expected, he brought back bread for me to eat. By the way, he is quite high up in the administration, so I think the police guards recognise his car. When I drive into the university, they salute me at times. I am pretty sure they don't do this for every car, and I don't look that old, so it must be the car they are using to identify targets for salutes. It's kind of fun.
|[COMP] libnotify||1 comment|
This Wednesday, I continued with studying lightly. I spend some time playing with libnotify, and learning Python to use the excellent hooks. I realised I could install some package to have Perl hooks, but I've been wanting to learn Python for a very long time now (I have been writing increasingly many scripts in Perl, and I really want to switch out). So I started reading Python tutorial online. Obviously this was only a side project today, the main day is still doing math, but there is not much to write about that.
[Photo: I made pot-stickers again. This time it turned out perfect, I am really happy.]
|[COMP] Crashed, acpi, rsnapshot, and Partitions||0 comments|
This Thursday, I woke up at 7. Looks good, right? Not really. After breakfast, I was extremely tired, so I lied down for a bit. Wrong decision. I fell asleep for another three hours. Oops!! I woke up just in time for lunch. Oops.
Today I decided to read some Bible, and do some errands. I wrote some acpi hooks so now when I close my laptop lid, it will mute the sound (using amixer). When I open the lid, it will unmute it! Except if I had muted the sound by pressing the mute button before closing the lid, then opening the lid will not unmute it (what I wanted). All is well! I am extremely proud of myself. See, in Windows, this either would have been the default behaviour (in that case one would be happy, but not as happy as if I had did it myself), or it would have not been, and I would then have no idea how to fix it. In Linux, everything is fixable, though it may take a lot of effort—it is definitely worth it, for the joy of solving problems (much like mathematics) outweighs the trouble that which the path of solution had cost.
On a less exciting note, I also installed and configured rsnapshot, a toy that I found a few cycles (as in... years—I've been watching too much Star Trek) ago, and have been using ever since. It takes a "snapshot" of my home directory (or anything I want) every 15 minutes (or whatever I set it to; the default is hourly, I think, but I like to be more frequent). It makes a new copy each time by linking, so the disk space used is minimal. Only changed files get replaced, yet each copy looks (by ls or any other usual means of examination) like a full copy of the directory. It is extremely useful. Imagining that the more ancient some data is, the less important it is to be frequent, the quarterly snapshots are only kept for 2 hours, then it is kept as hourly backups, for part of the day, then daily for a week, the weekly for a month, then 12 months.
I also set a separate partition for this file backup system, so it will never accidentally flood over and cause operations on the root directory (or the home directories, which is also on a separate partition), to halt. After years of experience (not really, more like 6), I recommend at least four partitions: / (15G), /boot (I leave 128M), /bak (10G), and /home (rest, which is 118G on my 160GiB hard drive).
|[COMP] mail-notification||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I went to play tennis by myself! My father is out of town, but I liked playing so much that I had to go anyway. There were only 3 other people, so we played doubles. We won a set (6-2 or so) and lost a set (4-6). Then I went to get physical therapy for the penultimate time.
In the afternoon, I worked on getting mail-notification, a new toy I found today by searching online, to work properly. It seemed a well-written program, yet it would hang and not respond in an easily reproducible situation. Namely, when all the mail became read, the system tray icon will fail to disappear properly and hang there, not responding to commands. I wrote a script that will fix this problem by brute force. It works so far.
|[COMP] Fedora 11 on Thinkpad T400||0 comments|
This Tuesday, I continued with my endeavours at installing Fedora 11 on my new computer (tentatively) named unit. As expected, I ran into several problems here and there, but most of them were easily solvable after a bit of effort. I had a list of things that must work for me to want to switch to Fedora 11 (so far Fedora 6-10 have failed to satisfy these criteria, and hence I have been using Fedora Core 5 on my primary laptop ring since 2006). Things that I have to have are those that I use on a daily basis or often enough that it would be inconvenient to switch back to my old primary laptop ring for. For instance, dvd burning is not often enough that it is okay if I have to use ring. But not getting latex to work would not be acceptable. Also, things that are on my wishlist are things I never got to work properly on ring. They obviously are just bonuses, and I will not be too sad if it does not work on unit.
Things that simply worked include
- clock (there were no way to get a clock with second display on plasma panel when KDE 4 first came out; and since I really need one, I decided to keep using KDE 3.5 until this is remedied),
- ibus (replacement for scim for Chinese input; it works really well, even for inside firefox, one of my two non-terminal applications that I usually run, the other being thunderbird), and
- various other little things.
After a few yum install or configure && make, I got these to work quite painlessly
- fuse and sshfs (this utility is gold, after I discovered it, I cannot live without it),
- renameutils (same comment as sshfs, I use these almost every day),
- synergy (again, same comment, especially since I have so many computers),
- latex (what kind of mathematician am I if I do not use LaTeX?), and
- gsynaptics (I did not use this utility before, but it seems like I need it to get tapping to work on my touchpad, which is my primary mouse these days).
One thing that does not work properly is mplayer. After seeking, it often pauses and would not play again. Very peculiar, I will have to work on this tomorrow. I won't be terribly sad if this does not work, however, since I've always had problems with mplayer on ring anyway (it often kills the x server).
Another thing that still does not work correctly is konsole, my terminal of choice after outgrowing rxvt, xterm, and mrxvt. As you can see, I have been switching terminal quite (I have gone through 4 over the course of the last 6 years I've used Linux predominantly as my primary computer). I usually switch when something does not work well with the distribution for whatever reason. For some reason, in KDE 4.2, sometimes konsole stop accepting keyboard input. I can still use keyboard in everything else, just not konsole. After killing all instances and restarting, it usually works again. This is completely unacceptable, since I spend most of my day in terminals, with often 20 or 30 terminals open—I do not want to have to close all of them and re-open. Thus, I tried out gnome-terminal. It is very light-weight, but it works. I will try it for a while to see if it satisfy my needs.
Some things I have yet to try (due to time constraint) includes thunderbird (must have), dvd burning (probably should have), wireless (hopefully, though I probably don't need it that much, as currently I don't have it working on ring), and audacity (whatever, it does not work on ring at all and I lived 3 years like that). We will see how these things progress.
|[COMP] Finalizing Laptop Arrangements||1 comment|
This Wednesday, I went to my last physical therapy session. The doctor says I am much better now, and taught me a few stretches that I should do in the future.
I also spent a ridiculously enormous amount of time working on my two main auxiliary laptops (Thinkpads T41 and T42). Since both the hard drives and the ultrabay (optical disk drive) are easily interchangeable (but require powering down), I rebooted the machines many, many times today. I finally settled on putting the better DVD drive in T42 with a small hard drive and bringing it back to the US, whereas I will keep the T41 with the 120G hard drive (quite big for a 2.5 ATA IDE drive) in Taiwan. I also did some physical work setting Ethernet cords for this laptop. It will be connected to my cable feed with my TV card so I can record shows in Taiwan, and then transfer it back to the US for watching. Besides all this, I also transferred my web server and my IM clients to this computer, named tensor. Tomorrow I will be shutting down ideal, which was running both my web server (temporarily when I was in Taiwan) and my IM clients (for the past few years now). Coping with unforeseen problems and dealing with the sheer number of tasks regarding these laptops pretty much ate up my entire day.
Tonight is probably also the latest I've stayed up in Taiwan this time, besides the initial night when I got to the hotel at 23:30. I am going to sleep now, good night.
|[COMP] Fedora 9||0 comments|
This Friday, I installed Fedora 9 on the auxiliary laptop I obtained from my father. After a lot of work, I finally compiled correctly a kernel module that allowed me to record TV using my Plextor TV card. There are a LOT of shows I like to each in Taiwan, arguably more important to have TV card here than in the US. As such, I am going to be leaving my TV card here and remote accessing my laptop to record and then transmit the recorded shows.
|[COMP] ring Update||0 comments|
This Tuesday, I updated my primary laptop ring. I made a exact replica of the operating system (by performing the Htam Hard Drive Deadswitch) and then performed yum update followed by some manual updating with or without the help of yum. Overall, my attempt today is quite successful, staying within Fedora Core 5, as contrary to the attempt [DEPRECATED] at installing Fedora 7 last month.
Now that I am back, I will spend the next four days applying to my four beta schools. They are all public schools. Today I applied to Rutgers. This school is apparently very, very, good at combinatorics.
|[COMP] New Old Laptops||0 comments|
This Monday, I started working on the two new old laptops (as in, they are old, but they are new to me) I acquired recently for free. They are in pretty bad shape, and I am uncertain if I can get them to be useful. But more computers is always good!
I went to the dentist today. Including traveling, it only took one hour today, as opposed to being at the dentist for one whole hour two days ago. Hopefully this will be the mode for the next five visits or so.
|[COMP] ring Revert||0 comments|
This Friday, I de-upgraded ring. I do not want to say "downgrade" since I am simply swapping the hard drive back to the one I used to have. This is why I have an extra hard drive. Actually, I used to have a lot of extra hard drives, until Lenovo decides to ship T60 with SATA hard drives instead. Now I only have one laptop using SATA, so I only have two SATA hard drives. It would be nicer if I have a lot more laptops using SATA and then I can have lots of SATA hard drives.
I also wrote a little program that would help me memorize vocab words for the GRE. I hope it works. I am counting on it to raise my GRE score from NULL to TARGET_SCORE. ;-P
I looked and looked but I just cannot find my watch.
|[COMP] ring Update||0 comments|
This Thursday, I attempted at updating my primary laptop ring. The first order of business after installing Fedora 7 is of course upgrading the kernel. The shipped kernel is faulty and makes restarting the network hang indefinitely. After that, I tested glxgears,
glxinfo | grep 'direct rendering', and xvinfo. After installing fglrx (propriety Linux binary-only driver for ATI graphic chips with support for 3D acceleration), the three commands above give much desirable results. Now mplayer has xv support after installing fglrx, but it is still jumpy for some reason. thinkfinger allows logging in via the fingerprint scanner, but it does not allow me to unlock my screen, which is the most frequent usage of my password on my computer. audacity can playback while recording. firefox and thunderbird works with my old profile, after changing the mail.show_headers option in the pref.js of thunderbird. Most kde options are carried over after a home directory swap. panel needs configuring. konsole fonts are all messed up. hal support for USB mass storage device is buggy: one of my USB device is recognized but the other is not. Not everything is done yet, consequently, my response time to emails might be a bit slower. I will evaluate some more tomorrow. If I cannot get things under control, I will revert back to FC5 and just update individual programs as I see fit.
I also obtained two very old ACER laptops today for free. I want to start playing around with them, too.
|[COMP] Server||0 comments|
This Saturday, I lost contact with my ideal server hosted back at Caltech. As it is locked in my room, I cannot take a look at it, being physically in Taiwan. Therefore I brought up server daemons on ring and turned it into my server. After restoring data from the backup I took of ideal right before leaving for Taiwan (smart move back then), I am almost up to date. However, I am missing about ten days of new data and editions (dumb move there not copying data over to Taiwan daily). I managed to re-edit most of the edits I have in my PHP scripts, since they are still fresh in my mind. I use the current opened version of Diary, Bible, and Time to repopulate and update those corresponding sections. There is a two-day gap in my Diary that I will have to fill in when I get access to my server when I return to America.
The other thing that is not available is my logs of my IM clients. I run my IM clients on ideal almost all the time, this way, I can freely disconnect my main computer without regard to the continuity of my "important" Internet connections. However, this means that now I am without IM access. Sure, I can rebuild another client, but it will take some effort. Sure, it will take very little effort, but I might as well take a break from my friends in the US. If anyone of my usual IM buddies are wondering why I am not online anymore, here is the reason. Feel free to email me if you need to get in touch with me. I am not avoiding you, but simply taking "advantage" of a "bad" situation.
|[COMP] TV Recorder||0 comments|
This Monday, I spent a lot of effort on preparing my T41 for TV recording duties. I first backed up data from a hard drive, and then installed Fedora 7 on it. I ran into a bug [DEPRECATED] that actually took me quite some time to track down. Moral of the story: always update the kernel to the newest stable release before complaining about random failures.
I got TV recording functionality settled on the T41. It can correctly tune to all the cable channels (unlike when I am in America and cannot tune to anything but channel 3, which is quite bizarre). Therefore I will keep this laptop in the living room, right next to the TV.
Once that is taken care of, I spent a lot more time trying to get wireless working on T41, since it is going to be recording TV in the living room, I want to be able to beam the recored shows back to my primary laptop ring. I finally got the wireless working after installing madwifi. However, the signal is not strong enough to go from my bedroom to the living room. Too bad.
On a different note, I have contacted the Registrar regarding my courses for next year. I will be fulfilling my remaining 27 units of additional HSS by taking a year-long German course. The reason that I am switching from Japanese to German is that 7 out of 8 grad schools I researched require some sort of foreign language requirement. Out of the 7, only MIT allow Chinese. The other 6 will make me choose one (or in the case of Princeton, two) out of French, German, and Russian. My parents both think German is the better choice. I say "better" instead of "best" because Caltech does not offer Russian. (You did not think I will make that kind of grammatical mistake, did you?) In any case, I will not be watching Anime without subtitles anytime soon.
|[COMP] Ring Reinitialization and Mcabber Work||0 comments|
This Tuesday, I finished migrating my files from primary laptop ring to the new 500GB hard drive I purchased. I also freed another SATA laptop hard drive (I only have two) and installed a operating system on the now clean hard drive. Then I used that operating system to copy all the files that I have moved to the big hard drive to this hard drive, matching the partition structure of the original laptop hard drive. After this, I used a Knoppix Live CD to boot and swap the contents of the new operating system with the old one, and reboot. Now I have successfully mirrored my old hard drive to my new hard drive without resorting to writing via external attachment (which is much slower). All this was done because my old laptop hard drive was faulty, and I am thinking of getting it replaced.
During all this work, I first migrated my Gtalk client mcabber to my server ideal and run it remotely. Since mcabber used to beep when I run it on ring, it now beeps on ideal, which is not ideal (pun intended). The same issue occurs for my AIM client pork which has been running on ideal for quite some time now. Therefore I worked on my these issues. I made it so that on my xosd forwarding protocol, it not only forwards the text, but when the text is received by the xosd-listen server on ring, it will display the IM messages on screen, but it will also ring (pun intended) a bell. In fact, I made it so that it rings a different bell depending on whether it is AIM or Gtalk communications. Furthermore, I coded some more and now when some friends changes status, my speech synthesizer will say "[name] is [status]" out loud. I also started coding some preliminaries for a better auto-away support for mcabber.
|[COMP] Postfix||0 comments|
This Thursday, I installed postfix on my primary laptop ring. After I was removed from the Caltech network due to Charter's business decision, my outgoing emails have been rejected. I noticed that my server ideal has no problem with it, since it is running postfix instead of sendmail, and since I know how to configure postfix better. Therefore, after trying to configure my sendmail on ring unsuccessfully for the last few days, I decided to give up and just install postfix. Now my emails are working again, yay.
Tonight, after working with some Rudds on Ma109b, I was walking to my bike when I saw Bing Huo and Po-Ling Loh outside. We talked a while, and decided that a lot of people (including us) will go to Life Plaza tonight. Po-Ling and I both decided we would go if the other will go, since we will have a greater leverage to get back sooner. Bing came to my apartment and sang Endless Love with me. We still sound good together, we sang on medium and almost got pefect. Afterwards, Peter Hongdau Liu drove us, Sunny Chun and Stephen Wilke (who were doing work together in my apartment) to RLZ. Stephen went home and we reshuffled. We ended up with 3 cars going to Life Plaza, totaling 14 people: besides the people mentioned already, we have Dan Chao, Kevin Chen, Jen Hawley, Scott Hsieh, John Liu, Caleb Ng, DW, Jon Winn, and Ben Yang. Po-Ling and I (and a few others) left first a bit after midnight. this excursion was quite interesting.
|[COMP] TV Capture||0 comments|
This Saturday, I spent time coding. I bought a TV capture card this summer. It supports Linux (yay). I have been using a primitive "demo" application gorecord to capture TV episodes. It has the problem of audio-video desynchronization. So someone wrote a AV-sync patch. Someone also added a mod that made it possible to pipe the recording to stdout so we can watch it (almost) real time in a media player that reads from stdin (like my mplayer). In doing so, however, he took out the timed stopping of recording and the code for splicing big files. The timed stopping is not a big problem, since I usually use cron to start a recording, I can use cron to issue a kill easily (with the help of the skill program). The ability to splice big files, however, limits quite a bit. I can only capture files up to 2^31-1 bytes. Since it also only captures uncompressed audio, this turns out to be about 94 minutes. So when I record longer shows, I have to stop and restart the recording process. It is best if it is done during commercials because I will miss a few seconds (less than 10) of video. This, however, requires time-based human interaction, VERY bad idea. So I have been recording those shows still on my VCR, then later replaying the VCR and recording another middle section. Then I use mencoder to compress the audio, and then use avidemux to glue to files together and cut out the commercials. Today, I tried out the splice option in the original gorecord (which has a lot of problems). It works, somewhat. Only the first file is playable directly. After using cat to concatenate all the segments, I can re-encode it using mencoder and reindex with the -forceidx option. Of course I take this chance to compress the audio. After this is done, I have a (not so big) file that could play very long! (The reason it is not so big is because the compressed audio really save a lot of space.) Today, then, I patched gorecordomd (which was a patch of gorecord to include AV-sync and stdout options) with time-based stopping option (which was removed from gorecord) and the splice functionality. Then I tested by recording 2+ hours of video, which spanned three files. After a lengthy process of encoding, the file plays nicely and no big problems occurred. I did find some AV desync at the end, but I suspect that is because I switched channels while recording, something I will not do in the future. I am fairly happy with my TV capturing setup now. It is ironic, however, that I finally figured this out at the END of the winter break, after I have manually wasted time recording so many TV shows. Now my automatic recording should save me time when school starts (in a few days). I am looking forward to school starting again. (This post took thirteen minutes to compose.)
|[COMP] Rescuing Ideal||0 comments|
This Thursday, as I woke up, I realized my website is not working, and many functionalities of my secondary laptop ideal is highly impaired. I suddenly realized why when I issued yum update yesterday it keep on downloading packages for Fedora Core 4 instead of 5. I ssh'ed into ideal from ring and issued the commands there! Oops. Carelessness caused me a panicking hour, while I was trying to rescue ideal. After reboot, several problems were presented in the disk drive, so I ran fsck in single-user mode. After that, certain things won't work such as KDE and my tv recording. After playing around it more, I got tv recording functionality back.
After ideal stabilized, I decided to upgrade ring, which was just cloned yesterday. The command yum update fails. After playing around with the repositories a bit, I got it to update for the most part. Of the programs that did NOT update, avidemux2 was something I used a lot, so I manually updated it. But lo, the new interface is more mouse oriented and my keyboard shortcuts do not work anymore. Unacceptable! I tried to revert to older versions but they will not compile. Finally I decided to transplant the compiled binary file from my old hard disk drive. Hey, we cloned it for this purpose right? Now avidemux2 is working fine. As a added bonus, I compiled mplayer 1.0rc1 with no trouble, and I finally got the elusive mp3lame support for mencoder to compile this time. I figured out how to change the aspect ratio of video files as well so I am re-encoding them today.
|[COMP] Cloning Fedora Core 5||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I decided I will stop the existence of my short-lived Fedora Core 6 installation on ring. I copied non-essential files from the old ring hard drive (with FC5) to the new hard drive. Then I rebooted with the old hard drive, and proceeded in copying the entire installation over. This is the unsophisticated way of cloning a hard drive. Finally, I rebooted using the new hard drive, which is a copy of the FC5 installation. However, something is wrong, it will not boot. I booted with the FC5 dvd in rescue mode and looked around. Aha! The boot partition is numbered differently because I no longer have a Windows partition at the beginning of the hard drive. So I changed grub.conf and hoped for the best. The best turned out right. I was able to bootup the system, and my fears for randomly copying the root filesystem with the -x option to prevent the creation of weird devices and such did not come true. Now that I have safely a copy of a working system at hand, I proceed to update lots of programs on ring by using yum.
|[COMP] Fedora Core 6||0 comments|
This Tuesday, I inserted my new hard disk drive into my T60 primary laptop and proceeded at installing Fedora Core 6. The installation was very quick, I was quite surprised. Afterwards, I spent some time configuring the settings that somehow did not carry over even after copying most files from my old home folder. I also installed some applications that were not included in the distribution, like fglrx, mplayer, firefox 2 and the like. However, I ran into the problem of sed not terminating (100% cpu) during make install for several programs. This is most annoying. If this problem cannot be fixed, I will be forced to revert to FC5. Such a shame, this scim is working great. Another problem I ran into is that I cannot automatically mount my old hard disk drive via USB (my OTHER IDE hard disk drive works, but not the SATA HDD that was in T60) without sudo'ing, and I simply cannot get my camera to interface with my computer. These problems are big enough that if they are not resolved, I will have to revert as well. It is not looking sobright for my FC6. Especially the fact that I do not have much time to play with these, as school is starting soon, I probably will end up giving up FC6 for now. Spring break is also too short to do this, so I guess I just have to settle for the once a year computer OS upgrade during Summer.
|[COMP] Suspend to RAM and ATI fglrx||0 comments|
This Monday, I tackled one of the last standing issues with my new laptop. My ring is a T60, with new S-ATA hard disk drives. The Linux support for it is not yet mature enough to handle suspend to RAM. (After suspending to RAM, the first write to the S-ATA HDD will fail, and the kernel will think it was a RAM problem.) It gave errors that said
ring kernel: Uhhuh. NMI received. Dazed and confused, but trying to continue
ring kernel: You probably have a hardware problem with your RAM chips
Everytime I close the lid and repoen it, the screen is locked up with bizarre colours. This did not happen before I used the ATI fglrx driver. However, without the fglrx driver, the screen display is extremely slow, most noticeable when xscreensaver runs.
After searching online for power managment issues a bit, I realized this behaviour might be controlled by the ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface), which allows the operating system (here Linux) to distribute the power to various devices. After being able to reproduce the errors by simply typing a command, I decided to go with it and disable the command by inserting an "exit" instruction at the top of the code. This solved the problem.
Now my new expensive laptop ring is finally "strictly better" than my old laptop ideal (read: component-wise vector domination). I am glad that I can get everything to work before going back home.
Actually, ring is not strictly better. I cannot get my TV card driver to compile on ring, but this should reduce my random TV watching anyways, and I can continue to do automated recordings (which is what I got the TV card for anyways) and watch time-shifted TV shows on my primary laptop ring.
Tonight, my parents also invited six NDHU students whose parents know my parents (primarily from NCTU) to dinner at my house. One of them was Kevin Huang, my childhood friend. Another was my kindergarten classmate. The rest I did not know or did not know well.
|[COMP] Matrix||0 comments|
This Saturday, I went to my dad's office to see matrix. It has an overheating problem. I opened the case and confirmed that all three fans are running. There was not much else I could do. I also took this opportunity to load some backup files into matrix.
|[COMP] TV Capture||0 comments|
This Friday, worked for a long time on getting TV capture working properly. A few trouble includes not having cable on hand, and since I don't have a good place for the antenna, the signal is rather weak. I often misinterpret week signal as something I did wrong; but in reality, I might have been doing all the computer stuff correctly.
I also tried KnoppMyth on my T41 with a spare hard disk drive (the one I got off of functor, which is completely unusable now). I got nominal signal capture capability. It is, agian, possibly ONLY due to lack of clear signal. However, a problem might be with being not in the US and I tried to tell the system I am back in Pasadena. I guess there is something I need to test once I get home. I doubt I will have time to play around in the near future, however. This might be my winter break project.
I am also having some hardware-related difficulties on my new laptop. After the lid is closed, the computer becomes unresponsive. I have experienced this many times with all sorts of operating systems. The general solution is to disable power management and the like in the BIOS. However, I am unable to find the settings there.
|[COMP] New Matrix||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I went to my father's personal office and worked on his computer. I first attempted to install Microsoft Windows XP on it, but failed to establish network connection. I then used the free space to install Fedora Core 5 on it. I got dual boot working properly. After some simple tweaking, the network worked fine. Convinced that I am not as well-versed in Windows configuration, I reinstalled everything, this time with only Fedora Core 5. This counts for the fourth and fifth time this Summer that I installed Fedora—I am quite adept at it now. I then made some preliminary configurations so that most of the work now can be done remotely. There were error messages
Message from syslogd@matrix at Wed Sep 6 18:12:38 2006 ...
matrix kernel: CPU0: Temperature above threshold
Message from syslogd@matrix at Wed Sep 6 18:12:39 2006 ...
matrix kernel: CPU0: Running in modulated clock mode
that kept on being screamed to all the pts when I do heavier things such as running yum update. I need to go check the CPU fan some day. This computer inherits the name matrix. The former matrix which was renamed db is now named dblab, in accordance with its hostname dblab.ndhu.edu.tw.
Today I also upgraded my mplayer on my primary computer. I finally followed through and recompiled from source using the option (which is suggested every time mplayer is run) —disable-runtime-cpudetection. I also used this opportunity to support more codecs, and also install to 1.0pre8 (instead of pre7). I am overall quite happy since I got several video formats to work (which did not work before). We shall see whether the playback quality is noticeably improved and if all this compiling was worth it.
|[COMP] Updates||0 comments|
This Wednesday, with rsnapshot working to back up my files, I confidently marched to update my new laptop ring. I ran |yum update| to update all my packages, this took a very long time. I did not exclude the kernel this time. With the new kernel, I configured wireless support, and it works! Right now I am posting without wired connectivity. If you can see the last number of my IP address (which you can't), you will see that it is indeed different. I also installed the ATI fglrx driver for my ATI video chip supporting 3d acceleration. After switching over from vesa to fglrx, glxgears run very smoothly. I now have xv support for mplayer (no more of that |vo=sdl| workaround), everything seems to run more smoothly (including Firefox, general X login, virtual desktop switching, et cetera), and also my xscreensaver programs all run super fast, too fast that I need to tune a lot of them down. You can say I am very excited: I updated packages, updated kernel, configured wireless, and updated video driver. And now everything works super fast! I would think this is the happiest day regarding my new laptop, even happier than the day I installed Fedora Core 5 on it or the day I actually received the laptop.
Today, I started typing some of my new results for SURF. These results have not yet seen the light of scrutiny, and must be carefully reviewed. Before that can happen, I need to write it up first—hence the work today.
|[COMP] Matrix||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I went to examine the broken server matrix. It happened that most computers cannot connect to it, save the computer my dad uses in his office. This is a very odd behaviour. Nevertheless, I cannot figure out the reason behind it. I removed files from it using USB device and transferred them to ideal. It now hosts my father's email files through IMAP so he can store mail online and view it from multiple machines.
|[COMP] Programming||0 comments|
This Sunday I spent some time programming. I improved my on screen display functionality to be accessible remotely: now IM received by the client running on ideal can display on ring's screen. Quite an improvement to the expected response time. I also configured thunderbird to not blink the screen when new mail arrives, and turned off screen blinking for IM notification (since now I have on screen display). Now the only screen blinking would be when a system bell is really supposed to be heard.
I also programmed the "photo" section of the diary that is accessible from the "theme" chooser as the first option. It will display thumbnails of all the photos that are associated with posts (a feature I programmed some time ago). I also uploaded a few more photographs.
Finally, I also re-established Chinese support (viewing and input) for my new laptop. I had to deal with mkfontdir and chkfontpath. Viewing is no problem any time. However, to make input universal, it breaks rxvt, my trusty terminal emulator (causes segmentation fault when maximizing) and Skype. Therefore I have decided to not load the input method (scim) on startup, but only load it whenever necessary.
Unicycle update: I achieved two seconds of unicycling today, with a good grasp on one-second journeys, and a bit longer if holding on to my father.
|[COMP] Ring Succeeds Ideal||0 comments|
This Saturday, I spent more time on my new IBM Thinkpad T60 laptop ring. The buggy X server is repaired, more softwares are installed, and more files are transferred from my previous primary laptop ideal. Today I made a home for myself on ring. The speed at which ring open applications is astonishing. However, the graphics support is not as good as that of ideal (except ideal's screen is broken now), and watching video and displaying screensaver is a bit sluggish. Good thing I am not a very big fan of graphics-intense applications. I also succeded in burning a DVD under Linux.
Today I rode a unicycle for the first time. I was able to do a fairly successful ride of one second. We shall see whether this geometric progression technique I utilized for learning to ride the bicycle hands-free last summer will work for this device. I am hopeful that I shall learn how to ride the unicycle by the end of this summer.
|[COMP] Fedora Core 5||0 comments|
This Friday, I received some DVD-R's so I burned the installation disk for Fedora Core 5. This is the first DVD I ever burned in my life. I then proceeded at installing the OS on my new laptop. Everything worked fine except for Chinese support. Later, when I rebooted, however, the X server refused to start up again. I see I have more work to do tomorrow.
The past two days I slept for about half an hour each before dinner. Today I did not, therefore I cannot wait until 21:00 to sleep. I think I am going to sleep now. I wonder how early I would wake up tomorrow.
|[COMP] Time Difference||0 comments|
This Saturday, I decided to visit an old perl script of mine. It is supposed to display in correct grammar how many years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds an event is from now. However, due to the variable number of days in a year and a month, the script always caused trouble with long time distances. I have modified it so it now calculates correctly, by dropping "months" and calculating years differently than simply dividing the difference in seconds by a large number.
Today is the last day before the last day before school starts. This means it is the last day I have to myself. My roommates will be returning tomorrow. I do not think I am as ready for school to start as by the end of Winter Break.
|[COMP] More Work||0 comments|
This Thursday, I worked more on the computers. I have swaped functor and vector, restoring the purpose of vector to be a backup server and letting functor be my playground. This is mainly due to hardware concerns, as my functor is bulky and has a broken screen, yet has a better CD drive, suitable for installing OS's for fun. I also worked on donut and fixed some SQL queries. The Newsgroup section does not take 15 seconds to load now, it should now be almost instantaneous. Today, I also got my external hard drive to work with my Linux laptop. I can actually read more from Linux than from Windows, I am delighted. I think I am beginning to know more about how hardware connections for Linux works.
|[COMP] Work||1 comment|
This Wednesday, I did work. I finished recycling, I went on campus and got my graded sets and exams back (Praise the Lord!), and I got some food. In the afternoon, I cleaned the bathroom counter and bathtub. I also worked on donut and clubs. I installed mailman on clubs and configured it. Donut Directory now has search by email capability.
|[COMP] Games, BSD, and Songs||0 comments|
This Tuesday, I finished trying most of the online games in A Complete Waste Of Time [DEPRECATED]. Consequently, I updated my games section to include more games that I found interesting. However, I must say that this was a complete waste of time. ;-)
I continued to work on my FreeBSD laptop. I familiarized myself with the ports framework and updated the entire collection, I installed apache22, mailman, and wget as well. Apache web server works fine, but serving a mailing list mechanism requires correct MX records in DNS, and I also need to deal with the fact that my laptop is behind a router. But all in all it was a success today.
I found the Caltech Recycling Center and recycled some of the recyclables that have been piling up in our kitchen. I also spent some time singing songs, mostly from Les Miserables, reminded by June's email.
|[COMP] rsnapshot||0 comments|
This Monday, as promised, I gave functor a serious job to do. It will now be responsible for making daily backups of my main laptop ideal. I installed rsnapshot (through ports) and configured it successfully. I also installed mrxvt through ports and now I can ssh in once and then use mrxvt for multiple shells. However, I keep on getting some X errors when using vim after su. Oh well, I can just use vi.
Later I created a ccf user on clubs.caltech.edu and migrated the current CCF website over. There are still work to do, like porting server side includes to PHP, but the mundane tasks should quickly cease. I will be faced with the roster dilemma soon.
|[COMP] FreeBSD||0 comments|
This Saturday, I downloaded the ISO image of FreeBSD 6.0-RELEASE for i386. I burned the installation CDs and then installed FreeBSD on functor, one of my auxiliary laptops. I equipped functor with a 40GB harddrive and a PCMCIA ethernet connection. The X server seems to only let my screen display in 1024x768 resolution. Oh well, I will most likely be using it as a server that I SSH into anyways. I will be hosting some functions of matrix on ideal, my primary laptop, and some other functions on functor. I am of course still going to look for the reason of matrix failure. I used to utilize vector for backups, but it is quite loud and my roommate does not like it. This burden might now fall on the BSD functor, however, I really want to keep a playground laptop. Therefore this role might now switch from functor to vector. For the time being, tensor is going to stay as a Micro$oft machine serving my occasional need to use Windows software. Today is the first time that my four functioning, networked laptops are all running different operating systems: Fedora Core 4, FreeBSD 6, RHEL 3, and Windows 2000. 'tis a day for rejoicing.
|[COMP] Update||0 comments|
This Friday, I continued my efforts in updating my computer. Now I am running kernel 2.6.15. My Firefox and Thunderbird are also updated to the newest version. Now they actually interoperate quite correctly. I also updated hundreds of packages through yum. At one point, I was panicking because both Firefox and Thunderbird were throwing segmentation faults. Apparently in the upgrading process, some libraries of services are upgraded but the services are not restarted properly. I rebooted my computer and now all works fine. I don't know if I am imagining this, but I think Firefox 1.5 is running cleaner and faster than 1.0.6, perhaps due to the other upgrades I performed, it is hard to tell. I also finally got around to installing Java.
I also updated my four-year plan programming (not the plan, but the coding) to include the capability to show grade and GPA (dynamically calculated). This information is hidden unless a family member logs in. To facilitate this, I also updated my website login interface to more easily login to a specific page.
I conversed with Timothy Barnes and will now be taking over the CCF website. I will probably add back some form of roster control, and also update the outdated information.
|[COMP] Virtual Mail Accounts, Retake||0 comments|
This Saturday, I embarked on the mission of setting up virtual mail accounts: with mysql! (Yesterday I did everything but the mail part as I have not done it properly before.) Even though I did not get virtual mail accounts with mysql last time I was playing with postfix + maildrop, this time around I got it to work perperly. It took some work, some fooling around, some tweaking, but it paid off at the end. Besides, the path is the enjoyable part. Now I can provide mail to whoever I want without the need of actually creating user accounts. I also wrote a frontend for changing mail passwords via HTTP (without compromising general system security of the passwd file, as it has nothing to do with it at all, yay.) I am faily happy with my solution. If you want spam-filtered, unlimited*, IMAP mail, let me know.
|[COMP] New Server, Reloaded||0 comments|
This Friday, I re-installed the new server that I mentioned right before I left for Hsinchu. Now it has FC4 installed. As always, I like to install the operating system while I sit in front of the physical computer. I made sure that I had a non-priviledged account set up properly and that SSH was up and running. Then I came back home and started configuring the server remotely (which I really like doing). After several hours of work, the server is now matching my specification. Compared to the time I spent tweaking my own laptop, this is next to nothing. I really enjoyed the well-documented log of the things I did to my fresh FC4 installation, so this time I only have to do them (with minor modifications). I like keeping logs.
|[COMP] Virtual Mail Accounts||0 comments|
This Thursday, I picked up from where I left off yesterday and continued working on the virtual mail hosting solution. (Thus confirming the `temporarily' clause at the end of the last diary entry.) Now I decided to strip everything and start over. Instead of following tutorials blindly like yesterday, I configured everything htam-style: meaning, I do very small changes and continually making sure everything works. Finally, after playing around with groups and many, many configuration files, I got everything to work properly. This whole thing is a test, however, as I was not careful in cleaning up when I made changes. I will be reinstalling the whole system over (using FC4 instead of RHEL). I just wanted to get a feel of RHEL before I commit to FC. In any case, as I am leaving for Hsinchu tomorrow, the work will have to be put off until I return.
|[COMP] New Server||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I went to my father's office to set up a brand new computer. It came with no OS pre-installed. I installed Linux on it and made sure SSH is properly up and running. I came back home and started playing with the machine (via SSH) trying to set up virtual mail accounts. I tried postfix + maildrop + authmysql + spamassassin + courier-imap. Only maildrop and authmysql are new. Sadly, I was unable to get authmysql to work properly in authlib. So I (temporarily) gave up.
|[COMP] Etc||0 comments|
This Monday, I did not do anything special. I mainly read some text (books, online, etc) and searched around for console (text-based) IM solutions. I did not find any to my satisfaction.
|[COMP] New Domain Name||0 comments|
This Sunday, I ventured into the unknown. Well not really. I applied for a domain name. Now this server should be able to be accessed at . Having my own domain means several things. For one, I will now be able to insert arbitrary resource records for subdomains. (Previously, htam.hn.org was given a single A record.) Currently most of the subdomains (including the wildcard) are CNAME'ed to htam.hn.org. However, in the future when I return to America, some of the servers will remain in Taiwan and some will be in America. This should decrease the number of bounced mail by having secondary MX. In any case, I wrote `should' towards the beginning because DNS record propagation is not (designed to be) instantaneous. When a sufficiently long time has transpired, I might update the canonical host name.
Note, this ALSO means that I am capable of giving you a subdomain pointing to your own server. Or I could also provide virtual hosting. If you would like that, contact% me privately (obviously we should know each other, this is not a public service).
|[COMP] MySQL and Misc||0 comments|
This Saturday, I browsed many linux, programming, or technology related news sites. I also updated many of my programs. More significantly, however, my MySQL server died for the first time ever! This is truly a phenomenal event. It shall be noted in history for all generations to come. But seriously, I was quite puzzle as to the reason of failure. Ah... probably because of updating mysqld without restarting? But under linux, no software has ever demonstrated weakness in being updated while running. We shall see when I update mysql next time. I think I am also starting to really like InnoDB. I might switch from MyISAM to InnoDB completely. If you actually understand what I am talking about and have an opinnion on this matter, please let me know.
|[COMP] Authentication||0 comments|
This Friday, I played with authentication options and error handling with my apache httpd server. I now have an updated photo section of pictures taken last winter when I came back to Taiwan, password protected. If you are part of the group, you should be able to figure out the password from the hints when authentication fails.
I also read some more Sherlock Holmes, some more Unix/Linux, and some more Bible. I still like reading a lot.
|[COMP] Image Counter||0 comments|
This Sunday, my dad asked me to give him a web counter. The problem was, my counter cannot be directly copied, as it requires a php server, and I am uncertain whether his server provides php support. So I decided to befriend the GD library and write a image counter for my dad. As it now stands, it is fully functional. Look at counter. If you want to use it, you should follow instruction on that page.
|[COMP] Wine||1 comment|
This Saturday, I installed Wine on my laptop. Wine stands for Wine Is Not a (CPU) Emulator. As its name states, it is not a cpu emulator. To the best of my knowledge, it translates calls of win32 applications to unix ones. I do not really know how Wine works, all I know is that it enabled me to run an old computer game called ``Chip's Challenge.'' At the moment I only successfully tested this application. The other two I tested were DOS applications and did not run correctly, which is understandable.
|[COMP] Procmail Filtering Recipes||0 comments|
This Friday, I played with procmail recipes. Earlier this week I installed email servers. I tagged SPAM messages for easy identification. Then I set up the email client of choice (i.e. Thunderbird) to filter the mail to a different mailbox. My Dad asked me whether this can be done on the serverside, so one could read mail and enjoy this feature regardless of client choice. I, of course, feel pretty strongly about using Thunderbird, but he might not. Another concern is that with his many computers, filter rules need to be set up correctly on every single one to ensure that mail are filtered correctly all the time. This is actually a big hassal, and Unix philosophy prohibits this ;-).
In any case a better solution was needed. I told my Dad that I would install Courier-Maildrop next time: when I am setting up the REAL server that would handle mail for our family in the future (next month, when we gain a server). Being Jed, however, I could not wait to implement what my client desires. So I looked for alternatives. I decided to use procmail. I played around with it today, creating simple recipes and testing mail. I got Spam filtering (to different folders) on the serveside functioning properly with multiple accounts. I also got email-forwarding to work well with ``sendmail'' (actually postfix). Today was very enjoyable. For I accomplished much.
|[COMP] Caltech UGCS Cluster||0 comments|
This Thursday, I explored the Caltech UGCS cluster. I have had an account for an extended period of time already, yet I have not explored the system. I tested different features of the cluster. I also used secure tunnelling to download some software, used links (a character mode WWW browser) to download other software, and used wget to download yet other software. For the three different tasks, I belive I selected the best tool to use (at least out of the three). So one cannot strictly say I am merely testing different methods: it was best to use different methods in different circumstances.
|[COMP] Dad's Email||0 comments|
This Saturday, I woke up and went out and exercise (by walking under the trees) with my father. We discussed what we want to do with his SPAM tags. I convinced him to switch from M$ Outlook Express to Mozilla Thunderbird. Then I helped him configure the client so that mail tagged with SPAM are delivered to a separate folder by using filters. We decided it is a good idea to train the Bayesian filter. So I set up different folders where my dad could drag spam and ham into. I also wrote a cron job that would periodically invoke sa-learn and afterwards clean the folders.
|[COMP] Email Server||0 comments|
This Friday, I spent the entire day working on running an email server on my computer. Saying `an email server' is actually not correct. It takes several daemons (from different sources) to run a successful server.
First is the SMTP server. I was (like half of the other machines in the world) running sendmail, an extremely outdated and overgrown server. Do not get me wrong, it was sendmail that brought about the success of internet and email we see today. However, like most programs that were designed for a different framework and context and then patched and modified for a newer environment, the patch work makes it hard to maintain. It is sometimes better to start fresh.
I also have postfix installed on my server, I switched my mail transport angent to postfix and played with the configurations. It took me a while to get it correctly configured: I want it to, obviously, relay mail from outside to local users at htam.hn.org. I do not want it to be used as a SPAM relay point, so I disabled relaying mail to any other host, even other .hn.org hosts.
Next I played with SpamAssassin. A major reason why I am setting up these servers, if not just for pure enjoyment or education, is to be able to filter my father's emails. He gets way too many spam in his inbox. After fooling around with postfix's master.cf, I got postfix to pipe mail through spamassassin. After that, it pipes it back (so to act as a filter only, marking message with a score indicating the X-Spam-Level, and optionally tagging subject lines with [SPAM] so action can be taken at the client's end) to the fake sendmail (it is actually now a frontend for postfix).
Now it is time to set up IMAP server to allow easy access to these local mails. I decided to take Courier-IMAP instead of UW's IMAP. I would really like to support the University of Washington, but Courier-IMAP seemed to be a good choice at the time, as I readily have access to tutorials. After configuring, make'ing, make install'ing, editing configuration files, revisiting postfix's configuration files, and opening up two layers of firewall, I finally succesfully set up the IMAP server.
One more thing that is absolutely necessary: I need all these servers to automatically startup as daemons when my computer boots. I played around with the /etc/rc.d/ directory, manually creating symlinks with semi-cryptic names, then I remembered the chkconfig tool. I read up its manpages and edited the original startup scripts to match chkconfig's specifications. After some work, I now have these daemons controlled and booted SystemV-style. Yay. I really learn more and more each day.
Now for the grand finale. I redirected my dad's old email, which was getting way too many junk mails, to his account I created on my server. When he got home, he was delighted to find that more than a half—even two thirds—of the junk mail were marked with [SPAM] on the subject line. It worked.
|[COMP] Misc||0 comments|
This Thursday, I configured little things like X forwarding via SSH, ability to sudo, distributed public keys, tested USB flash storage devices, and slightly more importantly, tested and configured voice recording capability. Why am I doing all these small things? Am I running out of things to do? Negative! I am getting ready for a big day tomorrow: I studied documentations on various options in hosting a electronic mail server. Yes, I've set up and ran web, ftp, ssh, telnet, mud (coded by myself from 0), mysql servers, but I have never studied the workings of the email model. Prior to this date, my knowledge of how emails are transmitted are limited to reading headers of emails once in a while when mails seem to come late. I am going to have lots to do tomorrow.
|[COMP] Chinese Input, Finally||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I went with my dad to the NDHU library and borrowed some media. Afterwards, I decided to try using
|[COMP] Media, CD Record, and Wireless!||0 comments|
This Tuesday, after a long run of success (after failures), I built up confidence and tackled problems I could not fix before. I set up my media players and now I can actually seek in
For the first time in my life, I got my cd writer to work under Linux. Furthermore, even under XP and other people's burners, I have never been able to burn successfully a Red Hat install disk. They always fail the
While trying out Knoppix (a Linux distribution that runs directly from CD and does not require installation) on my T42 laptop, I noticed that it automatically detected and configured (correctly) the built in Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG adapter. I was amazed. If Knoppix can get it to work out of the box, with only one CD, I must be able to get Fedora Core to work. With this determination, I grepped the web and downloaded ipw2200 module. I compiled (
|[COMP] Post-Data Transfer||0 comments|
This Monday, I woke up and saw most of my big files have been transferred. I set up some small transfers while I went out to morning exercise. Afterwards, I set up my KDE session defaults and customized a lot using
|[COMP] [SPORT] Pre-Data Transfer and Tennis||0 comments|
This Sunday, other than reading the Bible, I spent most of the time performing tasks necessary before large-scale data transfer.
This afternoon, I played tennis with my father. He is actually quite good in my humble opinion. If he is not better than me, he is definitely relatively better than me as compared to our difference in table tennis. In any case, I was the one that decided we've played enough.
At night, I initiated large-scale data transfer. Hopefully when I wake up, nothing bad would have transpired.
|[COMP] Chinese Support||0 comments|
This Saturday, I again spent the entire day trying to get Fedora Core to work. I reinstalled twice (so a total of three times in two days). I got Chinese display in
|[COMP] [SPORT] Fedora Core 4 and Table Tennis||0 comments|
This Friday, I spent the entire day trying to install Fedora Core 4 (Stentz) on my newly acquired 60G 7200rpm hard disk (for laptop, so this is actually a very good HD already). I installed Fedora Core over HTTP from my own server. This provided me with an extra install log with timestamp information. Fedora Core installed smoothly, however, I had trouble getting Chinese language support to work properly. I worked on this issue the entire day to no success.
In the afternoon, I played table tennis for the first time since I came back to Taiwan. I played with my Dad, and he was suprisingly good (not that good, just relative to my expectation.) I remembered the old days when he used to beat my right hand with his left hand. I think that was just because I was really bad. I can beat people with my left hand nowadays.
|[COMP] Ethernet Setup||0 comments|
This Friday, I woke up around 04:30, stayed in bed till 06:00 and got up and bought some milk.
I set up the ethernet system. Previously, both computers (one desktop one laptop T42) are both connected to the internet solely wirelessly. As my laptop (T41) does not support wireless connectivity (yet, I am going to update my kernel to 2.6, which the wireless driver supports), I had to reroute our ethernet flow. My dad gave me a super long ethernet cable, I connected the router that I brought with me (yes, I carry a router with my laptop at all times ;-)) to the original air router position, connected the wireless access point to the router and connected the long cable from the router all the way to my laptop (T41). After fooling around with the settings and not getting anywhere, I realized I need to know the precise setting of the wireless gateway. I searched online for the default password and voila, the password was not altered, shame. After getting everything to work, I realized that I will be installing Linux on the other laptop (T42), so it is best to also have wired connectivity. I do not want to bring two cables over, so the only option is to have the router in the room. I do not want to route all traffic through wireless first (54.0Mb v 100Mb) and I do not want to use the desktop to bridge anyways, I also brought the wireless router in to the room. Now everything is in the room, and we did not have enough power plugs, so I also re-organized all the cables in the room. That took a lot of time. Now I can finally reap the benefits of my harvest, I have both laptops (and they are on the same desk, both accessible at the same time) on wired ethernet, and the desktop is on wireless (strange setting, won't you agree), as I do not use the desktop anyways.
I went to sleep around 17:00, woke up at 18:00 for dinner, and went to sleep around 21:45.
|[COMP] DSA Authentication for SSH||0 comments|
This Friday, I successfully accomplished what I wanted to do for a long time: passwordless ssh between my own computers. I used ssh-agent and usa public/private key pair. This is very exciting. It will cut my password typing down perhaps to 1/4 of the original. (I ssh between my computers very often.) This endeavour, however, caused me to break my sleep pattern and slept at half past midnight (I used to sleep at midnight.) Oh well, it was wort it.
|[COMP] Update Complete||1 comment|
This Saturday, I woke up after seven plus hours of sleep. I worked on my server and completed the installation and configuration of:
o Apache httpd 2.0.52 (—enable-module)
o mysql 4.1.9
o php 5.0.3 (—with-mysql, —with-apxs2)
I compiled all three from source and interlinked them as necessary. I migrated all my web files and mysql data (and sermons, which can be accessed http://htam.hn.org/~sermon) to this new server. I redirected HTTP access so with a flip of the switch, the same hostname now points to a different machine. Everthing seems to work fine. I am now posting from a computer from a local network (my original laptop), that is why my IP address is no longer 127.0.0.1 but 192.168.0.*. No, I am not telling you the last number. Anyways things seems to be working. After working on this and not being able to post to diary during this time, I made up and retro-posted Thursday's and Friday's posts. I shall rest now.
|[COMP] New Server||0 comments|
This Friday, after finishing everything, I decided to work more on my newly installed server. Before I installed RHEL Advanced Server release 3 (Taroon Update 4). Currently I attempted to migrate my webserver from my dominant laptop to this server. Now I can unplug my laptop without fear of affecting my server. I needed to get MySQL support. I decided to try out everything new: Apache + php + mysql (the same old triad) but all new versions! I did not finish upgrading everything. I shall have to finish the work on Saturday.
Later my roommate invited a bunch of Moles (and a few Rudds) to our room and watched Stargate SG-1 Season 1 Episode 1. As I watched Stargate, I also watched with them. It was quite interesting.
|[COMP] Repartitioning||0 comments|
This Saturday ``morning,'' I repartitioned my hard drive on my primary laptop. Formerly, I had a 20G and a 3G (logical) partition for Windows and 10G for Linux. This was done by someone who set up my computer.
Since I primarily only use Linux, it is a waste to give Windows such a large partition. So I shrunk the 20G FAT to 11G (was aiming for 10G, but GNU parted would not allow it.) Now there is a 9G gap after the Windows partition and my former Linux partition. Since I do not really want to move partitions, (it took so long to shrink the Windows partition, yes, no data was lost) I made a new partition in between. Now I also have a linux-swap after my original Linux partition. After I delete the 3G of FAT at the of the disk, I cannot add a new partition in that place because I already had 4. So I thought about the possibility of moving partitions, and bing, I got an idea. So I deleted the swap partition (normally one would not want to delete a partition, but when a swap is not swapped-on, there is no data in it) and made an extended partition for the rest of the disk. Then I was able to put back the swap and a new ext3 file system (as logical partitions, of course) on the extended partition.
Now I use the 3G ext3 as backup and the new 9G ext3 as home. So I moved data from /bak and /home to the two partitions, respectively, and then mounted them to the original position. All is good. Now I have much more space for my home directories. :)
|[COMP] Computer Update||0 comments|
I updated many things on my computer for the past week or so.
* switched from GNOME to KDE,
* switched from Mozilla to Mozilla Firefox + Mozilla Thunderbird,
* upgraded GLIB 2.4.7,
* upgraded Pango 1.4.1,
* upgraded ATK,
* upgraded GTK+-2.4.13 (needs GLIB, Pango, ATK),
* installed the GIMP (needs GTK+-2.0).
I finally got the GIMP 2.0 to work, after manually configuring many aspects of the installation, including, but not limited to, manually soft-linking libraries. On this note, who knows how to make things automatically consider ``/usr/local/*'' over ``/usr/*''? I have /usr/local/bin before /usr/bin in my PATH, but I do not think it works for, say, libraries. In particular, I had to manually soft-link ``/usr/local/lib/libgimp*'' to the folder ``/usr/lib.''
|[COMP] Mathematica||0 comments|
My roommate is having trouble with his computer so he is installing Linux instead of M$ WinXP. On the other hand, I am having success. Yesterday I ventured into USB flash drives and got them to work for the first time with my Linux laptop. Today I installed DrScheme (for CS1) and also Mathematica!! I am so glad Caltech let us install Mathematica for free on student privately-owned computers. Now all I need to do is learn how to use it. Blah.
|[COMP] Mathematica 5.0||0 comments|
Wow, Caltech students get Mathematica 5.0 on personally-owned computers. I am also glad they provide the Linux version as well.
|[COMP] Gmail invite!||12 comments|
|[COMP] Gmail||0 comments|
I just got a gmail account. Yay. Now I have no fear about the gap betwix my comcast email terminating and Caltech email start. Of course I will keep using the UW forwarding service. For future reference, send all emails to my UW one and it shall be forwarded the correct service (that actually includes an inbox). I did not know that I could get a gmail account (since it is by invite only). That is why I need to switch over to the UW email. Till now, there is still people sending email to my comcast account. Switching email obviously require a buffer time of probably a month. Hence I told everyone to switch to my UW one. Now I can manipulate all my incoming mail instanteneously.
|[COMP] Software upgrades||1 comment|
So I updated/installed
* Mozilla 1.7
* Gaim 0.79, with addons
o Auto-profile, and
o Extended Prefs
it feels like I'm on a new system
* su'ed, and
* make install'ed
so many times today...