Archive for November, 2004

Gmail POP nightmare

I am now starting to believe in the Google conspiracy theories (against me, no less).

So, apparently, the POP server would *deny* my username/password and won’t let me download the google email! I tried on Linux, I tried on the Mac, I tried different email clients, I even changed my password, nothing would work!

Then, I tried to grab the emails from my other two Gmail accounts that I only use very rarely and they are not directly associated with me. These worked *perfectly*. But my main gmail account, just refuses my username/pass!

This is just, plain, weird. I emailed them for support, let’s see how good their support is… I am starting to wonder if someone dislikes me over at Google… 😉

Web cam support

Bought yet another webcam. I think I have 5-6 now… I just find them cute. I don’t really use them though, as my family is on 56k modem, and I don’t have the need to videochat with anyone else…

So, spent all day to make it work with Linux. A driver ships with the default linux kernel, supposedly supports my exact model, but still no cake. I had to build xawtv, kdetv and gnomemeeting-cvs with v4l2 support in order to make the video to load, but still nothing.

After spending about 4-5 hours trying to recompile kernels, modules, associate libraries and cvs apps I finally found another driver for the same camera, but for v4l1. Thankfully, that driver worked out of the box, with all apps. Still though, that driver is very rough with no support for brightness/contrast.

It would do for now, until the other guys in the mainline kernel fix their bugs. It should take a few months, but it would eventually work with the main driver.

On the Mac side, the webcam is not supported at all, including not supported by external parties.

Dolphins save swimmers from shark

A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark, media reported on Tuesday.”

Dolphins are known to be more clever than dogs, maybe even more clever than Gorillas. Some researches say that they have a real language.

IMHO, a law should be passed where people who kill dolphins should be trialed the same way if they were killing other people. Dolphis are very different animals, they do have something special in them, that we must protect.

Microsoft warns Asian governments of Linux suits

<<Microsoft Corp. warned Asian governments on Thursday they could face patent lawsuits for using the Linux operating system instead of its Windows software.

Linux violates more than 228 patents, according to a recent report from a research group, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at the company’s Asian Government Leaders Forum in Singapore.

“Someday, for all countries that are entering the WTO (World Trade Organization), somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property,” he added.>>

Why does this reminds me so much of StarWars’ “Trade Federation” and its secret leadership of the Sith?

I am all for keeping what’s yours, but when it comes to software at least, 99% of the patents out there are BOGUS. There *are* some algorithms/ideas patented that do deserve to be patented, but the large majority of them are trivialities that limit software people from writing the kind of software they want to write. That’s a bad thing for enterpeuneers and for further innovation.

I say “yes” to software patents, but I also say “no” to the large majority of the existing ones.

Anyways, I have explained myself better, here.

memory upgrade

So, the 64 MB memory upgrade to the SONY Vaio came in today, and it works well. The 333 Mhz laptop now has 128 MB of RAM, which is the maximum it can receive.

Thing is though, even by running ArchLinux, which is a pretty lightweight distro, Gnome is just a DOG. Having the desktop loaded, a few panel-applets and Firefox, and we are back at almost no-memory-left situation again. Before the upgrade, I could not use anything else other than WindowMaker with Dillo, now with 128 MB, Gnome and Firefox fills it up.

There was a time where Linux’s full DEs could use less memory and be faster than Windows. That was around 1998/9. Today, Linux and its DEs/apps are dogs, while WindowsXP continues to run pretty well and pretty fast on lower spec machines. You see, optimizing for speed/memory-consumption is NO glorious work. No hacker wants to do that work, and so no one does it. Even companies like RedHat/SuSE only do such work only when they really have to. And the result? A slow a$$ OS. On the same machine BeOS flies. I am sure that FreeBSD (without X/Gnome) would also boot/run faster than Linux.

But thing is:
a) I don’t want FreeBSD because configuring it or supporting extra hardware is nightmerish
b) I don’t want BeOS because it’s useless
c) I don’t want WindowsXP because it costs money
d) I don’t want Windows98 because it crashes like a motherf*cker
e) I don’t want QNX or OS/2 because they are also useless.

So, I am staying with linux, even if performance sucks.

UK fox hunt debate reaches climax

The House of Commons, which has voted repeatedly to outlaw fox hunting with dogs, was debating Thursday whether to take the rare step of forcing the ban into law over the opposition of the House of Lords — and legions of devoted hunters.

The House of Lords, their horses, their dogs, and the underaged lovers at their Masonic chambers, can kiss my ass. Hunting is a terrible thing, we have ended up with extremely few animals these days, most have been defaced.

As I said in a previous blog entry, if you need to eat a duck or a deer, go buy it at Safeway. Foxes are not even eatable!

On a different note, Kenteris & Thanou, the two drugged athletes from Greece, were found guilty –pretty much. And along with them, even doctors who lied in order to cover them from the Olympic Comittee. I say, jail them. That’ll teach them.

Won’t buy it….

I decided to not buy the Dell desktop I wrote yesterday, because it doesn’t have an AGP slot (it has only 2-3 PCI slots, one occupied). I don’t mind at all the onboard Intel graphics cards usually as I don’t play games anymore, but usually these cards (Intel, SiS, S3) are not capable of displaying CLEARLY on 1600×1200 at 85 Hz because their ramdacs are cheap-a$$. They are usually good for up to 1280x1024x75 Hz and then they become fuzzy. Tough luck, my monitor is a 21″ SONY E540 CRT and needs a graphics card with real balls to drive it.

So, just because this desktop doesn’t have an AGP slot to put in either my Matrox or GeForce AGP cards that I have lying around, I won’t buy it…

Instead, I will be buying a new… chair for my desk and a new battery for the Vaio. These will be my Christmas presents. 🙂

Dirt Cheap Machines from Dell

Dell is having some really-really sweet special prices for machines currently, 25% off of all their Home-based machines. The ones that caught my eye are:

1. Inspiron 1000 or the Inspiron 1150 (laptops) $598/$679

This is a pretty good laptop (just a bit heavy), and it’s the cheapest in the market today for what it does. However, I *think* that the 1150 is the model that has the trouble with XP SP2 where SP2 f*cks up some CPU detection and it degrades performance down to 300 Mhz effectively. Dell has posted a patch, but it’s always better to get the real update from Microsoft so future upgrades won’t break again… 😮

2. Dimension 2400 (desktop) $348

I am seriously thinking of buying this one. You see, I STILL run winXP Pro on my dual Celeron 533 system with only 256 MB of RAM! I have that dual Celeron machine since early 2000. It’s too old now… XP runs just fine of course, but I can’t do much with it really other than some email and browsing. I think it’s time for me to upgrade my main machine with XP…

The X Server….

…it’s a really nice thing… It lets you have many xterminals open at the same time, all tiled together… 😛

Someone save *me* from that laptop…

So, this laptop was a pain in the ass. It can only boot from the SONY PCMCIA cdrom (that I don’t have), or its USB floppy or the internal hard drive. Nothing else is supported. Firewire/USB external CDROMS are not supported to be BIOS-bootable…

So, I tried to install Arch Linux using floppies. Too bad that the Linux kernel is a piece of shit that won’t support reading a second floppy disk! The kernel panics as it can’t find the device back. There is a 5-line patch for this ( 2.4.26.patch), out and about since 2001, but only Debian and SuSE used it. It’s LAUGHABLE for this patch to not be in the kernel all these years by default. Result: no other distro can boot with more than one floppy disks via USB! Not even Slackware.

So, in order to install Arch Linux, I had to devise a plan:
1. Load the Debian 4 boot disks (boot.img, root, cd-drivers, net-drivers.img) and place the Sarge netinst.iso on my external USB CD drive.
2. With Debian create the partition scheme as I would like it to be, both using ext2fs: hda1=700 MB, hda2=5.7 GB (the laptop has a 6.4 GB disk)
3. Install Debian on the small 700 MB partition.
4. Boot to Debian and get to the net. Install via apt-get: reiserfsprogs, ssh.
5. Format the hda2 as reiserfs (mkreiserfs /dev/hda2)
6. Go to *another*, normal desktop PC. Load the Arch CDRom, create two partitions: /dev/hda1=swap, /dev/hda2=/ and install Arch on /dev/hda2.
7. Get to the internet with Arch, install via pacman the openssh package. Edit the /etc/ssh/sshd-config file to point to the right port and IP address, and then add a “sshd=ALL” on your /etc/hosts.allow file. Start the sshd deamon via “/etc/rc.d/sshd start”.
8. Go back to the laptop. Mount its /dev/hda2 under /mnt/arch/ and then cd inside that directory. Then type:
rsync –exclude=”/proc/kcore” -e ssh -av root@ .
(change the IP address to the one corresponding on your Arch machine, type “ifconfig” if you don’t know which one it is)
9. Now wait for about 15 minutes, as the files are copied over.
10. After it has been installed on your laptop, “cd ..” back to the previous directory, and type “chroot arch”.
11. Now, setup grub with grub-install or, if that doesn’t work (mine didn’t work because Debian’s grub was already in the MBR), use lilo (type “lilo”). Lilo works.
12. “exit” from chroot, reboot your Debian. When you get to the boot manager, it now only shows Arch. Load it.
13. Now, you are inside Arch, running on the laptop. We now need to create a swap for Arch.
14. Do a “mkswap /dev/hda1″ and then type “swapon” (this smokes your debian installation). Make sure the swap is listed once on /etc/fstab too (remove any extra duplicated lines if there — that’s an arch bug).
15. That’s it. Now Arch is installed the laptop! Slackware can be installed via a similar way too.

It took me overall about 3 hours to come up and realize the devised plan… Of course, none of that crap should have happened. If the Linux kernel didn’t have the USB bug, I would have installed Arch directly via the floppies. All hail open source.