Sitsofe's diary for March 2003
SUCS has been expieriencing a few power cuts and seems to have chewed up my mail spool so that many messages were compressed into single one.
No updates until further notice
Sorry folks but updates are officially going to stop until further notice. I'm just too exhausted to be typing this diary up after work. Come back in two months and maybe there will be something here but I don't make any promises.
I got back from work today to find the place in a shocking mess. The milk had been left outside the fridge. Last night's Chinese takeaway was still in the living room dried on the plate and the curtains were still drawn. The toilet was messy. Lights had been left on. All the common hallmarks of slobbery of the highest degree I think you'll agree. On closer inspection I realised it was my milk that had gone sour on the kitchen counter, it was my dirty Chinese littering the living room and so on. What had I been doing last night to leave such havoc behind?
It started to drift back... Ah yes I was on heady high getting Grand Theft Auto 1 which Rockstar have recently released for free. However, I wasn't just "downloading" it though. No, all the sites were straining under the bandwidth load. I had become desperate and in the process discovered BitTorrent — a swarmcasting program that shares a bit of your bandwidth to let others download parts of the file off you as you download it off other people. A clever solution that scales past the the overwhelmed site problem. It requires a fairly modern version of Python and wxWindows libraries for its GUI but I had made do without the GUI nicety. Of course once I had GTA I embarked on a mini crime wave with general disorderly beahviour. I only managed to finally crawl into bed at 2.30am and that's about all I remember before passing out (yes I know "falling asleep" is more accurate but hey).
Another week goes by
I think I might instigate a paragraph a day policy with regards to the diary otherwise I just feel too tired to write anything at the end of the day. Ok time for another weekly summary:
A Tuesday afternoon, an afternoon going pretty much like any afternoon at the office. It's the end of the day and employee one asks employee two whether they should test an isolated update on the website. After some umming and ahhing employee two agrees and proceeds to update the site. In the process of deleting an old file, the ftp program rapidly flips through a collection of directories unrelated to the deleted file. On inspection employee two laments as a part of the site has been destroyed. Both employees wind up staying three hours after repairing the damage.
Wednesday was Jo's Women in Work presentation. The iPAQ did good by allowing me to record someone's email address when I had no pen or paper. It then went and disgraced me during a presentation — I heard a mobile beeping away during someone's talk which actually turned out to be the iPAQ. It then wouldn't suspend until it had been given a reboot.
I went round Huw's house on Thursday to take a look at his parent's PC. It turned out to be a P200 running Windows 95b and had never been reinstalled. Unfortuantely it was randomly locking up around ten seconds after Windows loaded and then refusing to even boot as far as the bios when it was reset. My initial guess that it was dodgy fan failing to cool the CPU turned out to be wrong but setting the RAM speed to be higher in the BIOS seemed to help (it's difficult to know whether this was the cause of the problem though).
I ended up taking an improtu afternoon off today. This was because Victoria (who was on the same Computer Science course as me last year) had come down to Swansea for three days and I had missed her calls on the weekend and thus originally thought she had gone back to Oxford on the Sunday. However she met Gareth in the caferteria at lunch and we met up and wondered round looking for Alfie (who was teaching a tutorial) before visting a few other Greek people.
A week's links
First up, a Slashdot discussion Advice you would give your 12 year old self. It's kind of interesting to see the the huge number of posts to it — I reckon it was the most popular topic for quite some weeks.
I finally got round to changing the backdrop wallpaper on my computer. By old favourite Gamewallpapers just doesn't have the selection I'm looking for so I've turned to Computer and Videogames screenshots instead. My old Automodelista Linux backdrop has given way to this screenshot from XIII but and I have a feeling that the Windows wallpaper may change from Ninja Gaiden to Zelda - The Wind Walker. Actually, finding decent Zelda wallpaper was really quite hard — Nintendo wake up! The videogame industry can make it very hard to find big (1024x768) pictures of games still in development/not yet released despite the obvious good publicity it would generate.
Discussion about the 3DMark2003 benchmark. This article does a fair job of dissecting and discussing the current controversy surrounding the latest release of 3DMark 2003. Various releases of 3DMark have been used over the years to compare one 3D card to another and the latest release seems to score the latest NVidia cards lower than the ATI ones. NVidia do not endorse the benchmark and pulled out of the beta development for it in December 2002 when they let their membership to the beta programme lapse.
Mandrake 9.1 hits release candidate 1. Now that most of the GNOME apps have GNOME 2.x versions my complaints about the horrendous inconsistency present within the 9.0 GNOME desktop should be eliminated. The other showstopper (being unable to set the panel background to that of the desktop) has also been fixed in new GNOME releases. Of particular note is the inclusion of the ntfsresize tool so it is now possible to resize Windows NT/2000/XP partitions. The inability to (non destructively) resize NTFS partitions this has prevented quite a few people I know from trialing a Linux distro since the alternative was to pay for a costly version of Partition Magic (of which you need at least Version 8 to resize XP partitions) or destroy your partition table and reformat (usually not an option). Hopefully ntfsresize will make its way into the free GNU Parted partition manager software soon...
While discussing which BSD OpenBSD forked from I found this rather rather good page about what a (software) fork is. It also briefly descibes how OpenBSD was split from NetBSD.
Need to optimise (I'm starting to really tire of that word) your PNGs so they are as small as possible? Try pngcrush which reduced the size of images on this page by around 12% (and I had tried extremely hard to make the filesizes as small as possible in the first place). Found via dive into mark.
I was poking around the web looking for a linux rescue distro (I don't need it right now but it's a useful thing to have) and noticed that there is a newer version of Tomsrtbt than the one I have out. Tomsrtbt crams as much linux support for devices and various tools as possible on a single floppy disk (or ElTorito CD boot image). Hmm the scrolling message makes me wonder if it's time for another backup...
I found a mention that there was little point using Tomsrtbt on an entire CD since you could use a distro which could have a pretty interface and more tools on it. In fact the Tomsrtbt wiki details some rescue CD distros. I took a brief look at LNX-BBC and it seems to be the most promising fitting on those half size CDs.
Some musings about how instant messaging could cannibalise SMS on mobile phones. I'm not sure myself — I've started seeing the spam on Yahoo! messenger and once spam starts arriving it makes any service that bit less useful.
iPAQ on the brain
The diary entries for this week were, um, postponed while I played with Linux on an iPAQ. Soon I will be able to enter them directly on to the iPAQ which should make skipped days less likely.
About the only thing of note other than the iPAQ was Jo's delicious
iPAQ pasta dish yesterday and I know I'm glad that I share a house
with Chris :).