You are currently browsing the May, 2009 archives.

Joys of Self Employment #19

Posted 2009.05.30 10.29 in Pointless Blather, Work by Stephanie

Dropping everything to leave the office at 3:00pm on a Friday afternoon, while announcing to your co-workers:

I must leave you now. I’m needed on my home planet.


Posted 2009.05.29 21.54 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Not long ago, I was pondering the correlation between aches and pains, and weather. While I don’t have any further data or revalations to add to that post, I figured I’d explain a bit more about why my back hurts like hell at times… You see, back when I was 18, my friend called me up and asked “Hang Gliding or Parachuting?”

It didn’t take too long to figure that one out. Hang gliding is insane crazy dangerous, where you risk your life hanging from a bunch of aluminum tubes and nylon. Whereas with parachuting, your life hangs from nylon and rope. When you crash with a hang glider, you risk impaling yourself on aluminum tubes. When you crash with a parachute, there’s nothing to impale yourself on (other than stuff on the ground.) And finally, if you go parachuting, at least you have a parachute!

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EeeTop – Part C

Posted 2009.05.28 16.03 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

So, I got the graphics working right by using Ubuntu 9.04. I had increased the RAM and hard drive, and was looking to install Bluetooth. By now I’m getting bored of this story, so I’ll try and make this short.

I was thinking about tapping into one of the two unused ports on the GL850 USB hub chip. This is a 48-pin LQFP package, with 12 pins per side, and a pin-spacing of 1/2mm from pin to pin, with a gap of 1/5mm between pins. I have soldered directly to chips with pin-spacing this tight before, but it’s very, very difficult. And in this case, the risk of failure is losing the webcam, the SD card reader, and possibly wrecking the whole motherboard.

So I mulled it over for 2 days before it hit me – instead of tapping one of the unused ports on the GL850, just grab one of the existing USB ports. With 6 ports, there’s no way I’d use them all, or even half of them. I could just tap one and wire it internally rather than externally!

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Posted 2009.05.27 19.48 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Photography by Stephanie

Part of the same family of sites that brings us our lolcats, is the Fail blog.

parent-seatbelt-failSafe parenting?  Fail!

Grub2 Rescue Mode / Console

Posted 2009.05.27 9.28 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

As a change of pace, this missive is actually meant to be useful and informative. If you don’t know anything about grub or grub2 and aren’t interested in learning about bootloaders, then this article is not for you. On the other hand, if you suffer insomnia, then you may wish to keep a copy of this nearby.

Grub2 is the next generation of the Grub bootloader. Grub stands for GRand Unified Bootloader, and offers advantages over LILO and others in that it offers a ‘command line’ mode, enabling one to possibly recover from a non-booting system. Like anything though, there is a learning curve and Grub has it’s own set of commands and quirks. For several years, this article at Linux Journal has been my Grub bible, as it were.

The original Grub (aka legacy grub) is a few years old, and appearantly there were some shortcommings with it, so Grub2 is now out there. It’s available in Debian and Ubuntu repositories, among others. When you install it, legacy Grub is automatically removed. There are warnings that Grub2 is not yet ‘finished’ and all that jazz, but in my case I was having trouble with Grub so I did switch to Grub2, and that seemed to solve my problems. However, it introduced some new ones. Grub2 has a different command set, and more or less works rather differently than legacy Grub. And being so new, there is a lack of good documentation for it. I’m not attempting to write the documentation, only to explain what I was able to figure out myself, in order to rescue a non-booting system.

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Cures for Insomnia

Posted 2009.05.27 8.37 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Like [some large impressive number] other Canadians, I suffer from insomnia.

Over the years, I’ve found a few different methods of coping. One is to just deal with it. After 20+ years, I’m accustomed to being tired all the time. Another is to not go to bed until one is about to fall asleep. Not laying down till one is nodding off in a chair saves on the relentless tossing and turning while waiting for sleep.

Of course, people have lots of ‘helpful’ suggestions, like read a book etc. The problem I find with this is that if it’s a boring book, I can’t read it, and if it’s an interesting book, I end up reading all night rather than sleeping.

Recently however, I stumbled on a great new resource for insomniacs:  Just try and read this. It is a changelog from the Linux Kernel repository. It’s almost 3,500 lines of fairly obscure technical jargon, ubergeek to ubergeek. 

I know I said that boring books don’t work for me – but I started reading that with a purpose… I was trying to find out if the latest linux kernel would contain any new drivers or bugfixes that would help with my EeeTop issues. 


p.s. another good insomnia cure is textbooks. I have some programming textbooks that I really want to read and learn, but those things just make my eyes roll back into my head. The punchline though, is that even when I do get a full night’s sleep, I still wake up feeling exhausted… but that’s another story.

EeeTop Computer – Part 2

Posted 2009.05.26 17.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

So I had my new EeeTop up and running with my Debian “Lenny” version of Linux, and things were working well, except for getting a graphical screen driver. Every time I tried going into the GUI the screen just went blank. 🙁 I hit Google and the forums, and quickly found the first solution…

It seems that the chipset, or the way it was hooked up, was just new & different enough to befuddle the intel drivers for X. 

I found a post at the Eee User forums which not only told me how to get the screen to work in X, but also contained detailed instructions on getting the touchscreen to work too! This wiki page had all the answers!

So far, so good! I could get a nice GUI running, and the touchscreen was working well. All was good… for a while.

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