Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, October 06, 2007

  Trying to find the fire in my belly

There were a lot of things I wanted to write about recently - the sputnik anniversary, tomorrow's unprecedented vote on CAFTA in Costa Rica, and some paid work, even, all of which once put a lot of fire in my belly, I really care about these issues...

...but for most of the past couple of weeks I've been pretty ill - fevers, chills, dysentery - and the only fires I've had have been those burning in my intestines. Sometimes I feel well for half a day, enough time to get something started, but I run out of energy fast.

I've 1/10th begun far more projects than I've finished. I have a couple nagging projects that are like 99% done, 2 that just need long phone calls to the US during business hours, but I flat out refuse to pay 26 cents a minute to live on hold for a half hour, and my voip connection only works well at night.

Speaking of voip, I got my IP04 up and running and connected to teliax via iax using the gsm codec. DTMF isn't working, but I think that's gsm's fault.

I moved the laptop into bed with me only to have the power cord break.

It took me a week to get around to remembering to buy batteries for my dictation recorder, a couple more days to get around to actually put them in it - and then I misplaced it for another week. I've had all these feverish fantasies and allusions that could have - should have - gotten captured, all lost now.

I did read a lot. Stuff like "African Queen" and "Where is Nicaragua" and "1984" did little to settle my stomach, however. I am haunted by the phrase that recurs frequently in 1984 that I'll finish writing about later.

I also built up my uber-quad-core-machine to where it runs Linux realtime and a ton of audio apps. I got all 3 video cards working and having three heads is way better than two from a productivity standpoint, although my 22inch displays are so wide that I get a crick in my neck switching between them. So far portrait mode on these nvidia 7600GS's eludes me. One sure sign that video is too important to the marketeers (and not this particular user) is the plethora of non-rotatable 16x10 displays - for a writer, or a typical businessperson 3 10x16 displays would be far more effecient (and easier on the neck muscles). I have a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart now remembering my Dad's old Wang wordprocessor - circa 1983 - and CP/m. Way back then you could see a whole printed page of text without scrolling or squinting! Now you can't. Ah! Progress. I've got the mounting brackets for portrait mode....

I decided to revert back to x86 mode for uber-machine because I wanted things to "just work". I felt I'd busted my brain against x86_64 for long enough (5 years now). An enormous number of things worked out great (notably most of the cross development systems I need to use "just worked" and the rest I'm going to have to create a debian virtual instance for), so it was kind of worth it. But I can't use more than 2GB of ram (I have 4GB), I had trouble convincing the video cards to work (fix = vmalloc=256M and a grub line to relocate initrd), and I have occasional weirdnesses with dvds. Recompiling RT for PAE was a disaster that simply reminds me too much of the emm386.sys disasters and I don't think I'm going to try that again.

It took three nights of downloading to get the x86_64 fedora core 7 release dvd. I'm going to give it a shot, one day, just so I can benchmark the differences in performance (and pain) between the two x86 variants on the same hardware. If I have to create and run multiple virtual machines to do my job anyway (sigh), I might as well do that with 4GB of ram available. (but I'm not looking forward to having to recompile all these audio apps and deal with the 64 bit pointer flakinesses)

Celestia is utterly magnificent on this hardware. I set up orbit around toutatis and toured the whole solar system at 100000x realtime the other night.

I miss my piano keyboard, but am working on songs like "Wish you were here" and "Hotel California" on guitar and seem to be making some progress. I've also got a new (surf) song, called "Gordo's going out again", which is written in 90% spanish (call it "eng-spanol"). As it's written on guitar I haven't the foggiest idea what the beat is, and I hadn't heard of freecycle before now - which looks like just the thing to let me break down the beat into some backing tracks. Problem is, the good audio interface I have has a short usb cable and it doesn't want to work off a hub hung 16 feet away where my monitors are.

Last week I converted two people's machines off of Vista onto Fedora Core 7. Linux was an easy sell - even loading Linux apps off of a live CD was faster than Vista was at loading office for these 1GB machines, and both machines festered with hundreds of viruses and worms when I got them, despite the presence of a virus checker. The users involved are quite happy with the change and have barely noticed a difference in how things work, except for the vastly improved speed and reliability. Compiz is also a big win. I've looked with dismay for years at the gnome people making everything bland - users dig flashy stuff like enlightenment, etc, dudes - and compiz is a welcome relief.

OK, well maybe I did get some stuff done after all, it just wasn't what I needed to be doing, and I'm way behind on some paying work...



Tonight is the first time in ages where I feel free to fart in public without fear of soiling the furniture. Perhaps I'll take on CAFTA.

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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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