zen.org Communal Weblog

April 29, 2005

Don't believe everything you hear

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:28 GMT

At the recent CFP in Seattle, a rep of the US State Department tried to explain why the RFID proposed to go into US passports was as safe as could be. Nobody can read a thing unless they’re about 10cm (about 4 inches) away. Really.

You worry too much.

Then Barry Steinhardt of the ACLU showed how you could be a good meter (about 3-1/2 feet) away and still read all of the details from it. It’s just as applicable to UK passports; the experiences of both sides ought to make people reasonably worried about not letting the government give your identity away with sloppy use of RFID.

The US seems to be backing off a bit. They’re considering a plan they had rejected before—require authentication before allowing anything to be read from the RFID chip, and even then require it to be transmitted in encrypted form. Sounds a lot better to me…

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April 28, 2005

Been a while

Filed under: — elana @ 10:20 GMT

I realized it’s been a long time since our last podcast. Wonder if we can get our act together tomorrow to do one? Raise your hand if you want more AcciCook!

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April 27, 2005

We don't need no steeenking judges

Filed under: — brendan @ 09:21 GMT

Today was the third time I received the call on my mobile phone: “Brendan, we’ve no judge.” The third time I was up late getting prepped to sound reasonably informed as an expert witness to the High Court in Dublin. Once in November 2004, once in February 2005 (after I’d gone thru the turnstile at the DART station on my way up to the Four Courts), and now in April 2005 the same again. This one seemed like a sure thing. There was no other case on the docket for today. But somehow neither of the two judges “on call” today were available.

The next try is in June or July—well over a year since my part in this whole adventure actually started. The Irish legal system is too mysterious for words.

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April 25, 2005

Jumping back 13 years

Filed under: — brendan @ 15:42 GMT

It’s hard to believe, but I left Widener University 13 years ago. (Gasp.) The first edition of “Zen and the Art of the Internet” was created there (well, partly at the campus and a good portion at Sven’s house over Christmas break). It still has my brendan@cs.widener.edu address in it. However, realistically speaking, I don’t think I remember getting a Zen-related email to that address for at least 3 or 4 years, if not longer. Instead, I’ve just gotten a fair amount of spam for it—approaching 40-50% of all of the spam I get, in fact. It’s time I accept the loss of my Widener address, and save a lot of wasted bandwidth.

I asked the postmaster in the CS department there to please finally remove the alias. Big change for me, but one that needed to happen. At home tonight we’re enjoying some wine in tribute to the experiences of college and some life-long friends I made while I was there. (Well, all right, more the friends and getting to hack in the CS lab all night long, day after day. And we’re just having wine cuz we really like wine. But you get the idea.)

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April 23, 2005

Travel Tales #2: Check the seat first

Filed under: — brendan @ 04:47 GMT

Pulling into Tara Street station on the DART, our full train was about to give back half of its passengers. I saw my opportunity: at the end of the car the seats were empty! I wasn’t sure if they’d been taken when I boarded at Connolly Street, but they sure looked free now. I got up from my seat in the middle of the train car and went over to those seats just as folks finished leaving and others came on board.

As I turned to sit down, I noticed the LED display up on the wall and how it looked a little weird. Normally it’s either blank (more often than not), or it is doing its job of naming the train’s destination and our next stop. Added as a feature of the “new” DART trains, this attempt to inform is only working perhaps half the time. Today was a new twist on its problems—it said only one word: FUNCION. Not only is there a bug in its software that makes it fail on a regular basis, this time it’s crashing with a misspelled word as its only message. Hmm. (Update: No, no, no, had I just tried to google it I would’ve quickly found función to be a Spanish version of “function”. My friend Cyril pointed out my silliness. Boy do I feel foolish.)

I sat down, my brain trying to figure out what makes it have a funcion failure. At the same instant, my nose got a whiff of something foul. I was in the seat for only a few seconds before I identified the smell—and realized that the bottom of my pants were suddenly damp. Someone had pissed liberally over all four seats, mine included.

I jumped back up only after I knew some of this horrid stuff would be on me until I got home. I went right back to my previous seat before those boarding the train claimed it. (This all sounds really territorial, doesn’t it? If we were dogs it’d make sense that someone marked their spot back there.) Hoping those around me didn’t think I actually wet my pants, I started to read my book and let its story accelerate the train, bringing me home that much faster.

We arrived at my station and I glanced at the corner seats as I got off the train. Two people were sitting there. This was their alternative to standing up in the train for another half hour or more, I guess. A man and a woman, each reading a newspaper, sat with no real expressions and no hint of the secret the were sharing.

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April 22, 2005

Oh yeah? Well, you walk funny!

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:22 GMT

Travel back: Nearly 3 years ago, I had to go to the doctor because my left foot had a piercing pain when I walked. It felt as if a nail was being driven through it. Doctor#1 looked at it, and sent me in to get my foot X-rayed. If she didn’t call me back, she said, it means it’s nothing serious and should heal itself. Got the x-ray, no call, pain wore off over about a two-week period. Fine, it wasn’t the shoes I was wearing I guess.

Jump to today: for about the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve had the same problem, only this time in my right foot. I’m doing some contract work up in Dublin, and like walking from the Tara Street DART station over to the office. It’s a lovely walk using the boardwalk that runs over the River Liffey in parallel with the road. In the picture found at the link in the previous sentence, this is the exact route I’d take—up ahead you can see the O’Connell Bridge, which I’d take to go over the river. When this pain started up again after such a long hibernation, that walk became impossible. I stayed on the DART past Tara to its next stop, Connolly Station. You can connect to the Luas light-rail system, which does the rest of the distance over to the building where I’m working. After a couple of weeks of this, I got tired of waiting for the pain to go away.

I went in to see Doctor#2 this morning. I described the pain, and mentioned I’d had an x-ray a few years ago for the same exact thing. He brought up an image of a sheet of paper that had been scanned into the system. It said in 2002 I had a partial fracture in the second metatarsal bone in my left foot. (Among the many surprises with this letter was learning it was my left foot last time—my memory, flawed as it can be, kept telling me it was my right foot both times.) The biggest surprise, of course, was how it had been a partial fracture. I never got a call back last time! Doesn’t that sound like something you might be interested in knowing, even if it will eventually heal itself?

He prescribed me some anti-inflammatory meds and also a request for a couple of x-rays, which I had done at the local hospital this afternoon. He’ll get them by Tuesday, which is when he said I should call him (2 days after the x-rays are taken) to find out the result. If it was the same problem as before, he believes the actual cause is in how I walk. This is the same pain in the same exact location, only on the other foot. That apparently makes it good a candidate for being a metatarsal stress fracture. It’s sometimes called a marching fracture, in tribute to the many soldiers who have grimaced looking down at the pulsing pain inside their dirt-coated boot after marching for twelve hours straight, day after day.

He said we may need to look at using orthotics to help program my brain to walk a little differently. A slightly different step and change in where my weight presses down on my foot can help avoid this pain being a regular event.

I wonder if I’d have this problem if we chose to stay in California? Probably, but maybe not quite as quickly. Ireland is a very mobile place, where taking long walks is pure recreation. I’d not want to change that for a second.

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April 17, 2005

Travel Tales #1: The psychological impact of porn

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:50 GMT

I got onto a mostly empty DART train. It left Connolly Station, the stop just before Tara Station and Pearse Station. Those two that do the majority of the work loading up train cars with passengers headed in either direction. (Well, the stop at Lansdowne Road is an epidemic in itself when there’s a rugby or football match on at Lansdowne Road Stadium, the site for 50,000 boisterous inebriated fans.) I went to an empty pair of (long) seats on one end of the front car. My Rio500 is loaded up with a bunch of podcasts; this time, it’s lots of the cool stories from The Seanachai.

The next stop, Tara, half-fills the car with people heading home from work. Across from me half of the empty seat is taken by a guy who looks like he’s about 20 years old. Wearing blue corduroy pants and a dark jacket over a t-shirt, he puts his backpack down beneath the seat and opens it up. Out comes a copy of Nuts: Everything For Men magazine. He closes the backpack, scratches his 5 o’clock shadow, and opens the newly-purchased periodical. The train’s doors close with a loud beeping and we start moving. The fellow across from me starts—um, I guess reading—his magazine. PAGE 1: An article well placed by a word processor to not run into the many large pictures of nude women clutching their breasts.

As we pull into Pearse, the number of people waiting on the platform is not a surprise to me but is still impressive. We slow down, come to a stop, and the doors open. The flood begins. There are so many people, the seats fill up quickly and the remainder stand. Even when it’s obvious there can’t possibly be room, still more people come in.

The other part of my seat, and the one opposite me with the Magazine Reader, both get quickly claimed by a man and a woman in their 50s, I’d guess. They’re friends. Conversations start all over the train, headphones are pushed into ears of those who are alone, books are opened even by those still standing, and we keep moving. The two new residents of our area of the train continue whatever they were talking about just before the doors opened to board the train.

Magazine Reader glances over and sees the person next to him.


Flip. The page with the cup size contest is gone. This new page of the magazine has plenty of text and pictures of cars. Thank God. Flip.

Oh crap, more boobs, quick, before she stops talking to the man sitting across from her. She’ll see! Quick! Flip. Whew, a story about Ozzy Osbourne. Flip.

Cameras, cars, flip, free beer contest, flip girls in bikinis including Charlotte Church?? Eyes wide reading the story, then realizes half the page is only the bottom half of bikinis. Flip.

Girl stripping. Crap. Flip. Girl holding only one breast, Jesus C—Flip. Girl tanning her—dammit! Mobile’s ringing, I’ll never—flip—manage to get to—flip—something without. More. Naked. Girls. Mobile should just get turned off.

Screw it. Slam.

Magazine closed, rolled up, crammed on the seat pressed between hip and the inside of the train. Staring out the window, clearly pissed off. Can’t believe it, almost caught (caught?) by someone who looking just like mom. Damn magazine.

Makes you wonder why he bothered to buy it just before taking the train…

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Tough breakfasts

Filed under: — elana @ 03:25 GMT

For obvious reasons, breakfasts for us are hard to do. With no eggs, dairy, tomatoes or strawberries, lots of things are cut out right away. It’s difficult, cause making our weekly recipe list, we normally just blow off the breakfasts (cereal, porridge, occasional bagels with smoked salmon, toast and jam). But we like breakfast food. We do make french toast, pumpkin pie pancakes, and right now we’re having raspberry muffins.

What I would do to just whip up a proper fry tho….

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April 12, 2005

Movement

Filed under: — Sven @ 17:04 GMT

Zoë has reached a major milestone. No longer can I put Zoë down and turn auround, and then assume she will be in a foot of where I put her when I turn back. If I really zone she could end up in the dining room.

I did, however, follow her around a little and she found some specs of dirt I would of never found without her. Thus helping with the house work.

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April 10, 2005

Mac OS X on a Fujitsu Lifebook P-2046?

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:03 GMT

In a copy of Linux Format magazine, they had an article by Richard Smedley called “What on Earth is…PEARPC”. After reading it, and lots of experience with emulators and simulators over the years, it peaked my interest. With just a little effort, I was able to run Mac OS X on my Linux host. For more than 20 years, I’ve been a big admirer of the Mac’s attention to detail in the user interface. I’ve even had conversations with Elana and friends about switching over to a PowerBook sometime soon.

So trying out PearPC was sure enticing. The pearpc.sourceforge.net site has a plethora of goodies for you, including some nice easy instructions on how to do it. Interestingly, they talk about using Darwin to partition a disk image (not a physical drive) for the installation. I tried a few times, but it kept freezing after the line

Warning: AppleMacIO self test fails

However the ideas posed on the blog at Designspace (I can’t find a person’s name for attribution) suggested that this was a little too much and the Disk Utility available inside the installer itself would be enough. The fact that others also offered ways to do all of this without first using a Darwin boot CD gave me some hope. There was some mention of getting a preformatted hard drive image out of pearpc.net though I didn’t actually use this.

I had to use the CVS version of PearPC instead of 0.3.1, the last release sent out in September 2004. The CVS tree is able to boot off the ISO image of the CD, while 0.3.1 doesn’t even show it as existing. My ppccfg file pointed at the ISO image I created from Elana’s first CD for installing Panther (Mac OS X v10.3). I changed prom_bootmethod to have the value select so I could pick the CD image by hand just in case. I created my disk image with

dd if=/dev/zero of=myharddisk.img bs=516096 seek=12482 count=0

and pointed the ppc program to it with the line

pci_ide0_master_image = "/osx/myharddisk.img"

in my ppccfg. I also changed the line

pci_ide0_slave_image = "/osx/osx-3.iso"

to be the image I created of the OS X install disk 1 CD. I created that image with the command

dd if=/dev/cdrom of=osx-3.iso

So when I got it to boot and run the installer, and it was asking me what device to install it on (but showed no choices), I used Open Disk Utility from the Installer pull-down menu, clicked on the disk image (not the CD), on the Partition pull-down selected “1 Partition” , and then chose Partition. It did well, but when I quit out of that, the Installer said “you cannot install Mac OS X on this volume”. Almost gave up, but tried again—and it worked! I didn’t note the URLs, but I found a couple of places explaining how they got around this same problem just by quitting the Installer and running it again. Voila, that did the trick.

The install went great, and I was able to run src/ppc ppccfg and see OS X boot up in the window. How cool.

The part to still solve: I can’t get networking to behave well yet. I first had to make sure to do

chown root /osx/pearpc-cvs/scripts/ifppc_up
chmod g-w /osx/pearpc-cvs/scripts/ifppc_up

as root to make PearPC be willing to actually use the script. First enabling pci_3c90x_installed in my ppccfg, it never showed the device when I looked in System Preferences. Then I switched to enable pci_rtl8139_installed; that was a lot better, and even showed the device during the messages of the boot sequence. I also had to run ppc as root with

sudo src/ppc ppccfg &

in order to make lots of permissions problems not come up related to changes to the network device.

Choosing Network under the System Preferences made a window pop up announcing that it saw the device. But after that, I wasn’t able to get it to show me that it had successfully used DHCP. Hmm, writing this now I realized that I never made my system enable IP forwarding. Hmmm.

Anyway, now that I’m trying it again with networking enabled, I see

ppc0: error fetching interface information: Device not found
...
UID=0
/osx/pearpc-cvs/scripts/ifppc_up: line 16: brctl: command not found
/osx/pearpc-cvs/scripts/ifppc_up: line 17: brctl: command not found
/osx/pearpc-cvs/scripts/ifppc_up: line 18: brctl: command not found
SIOCSIFADDR: No such device
br1: unknown interface: No such device
SIOCSIFNETMASK: No such device
br1: unknown interface: No such device
SIOCADDRT: Network is unreachable
program terminated with exit code 7
main() caught exception: error executing ifconfig.

Gahh. Back to pearpc 0.3.1, which does much better. It has pci_rtl8139_installed in its ppccfg. But it still freezes at

Warning: AppleMacIO self test fails

When I can get the CVS version of pearpc to boot, if I move the mouse while it’s booting I get

[IO/CUDA] Event processing timed out. Event dropped.

appearing a few times until I’m kind enough to stop moving the mouse any more. And attempts to boot with

pci_ide0_slave_image = "/dev/cdrom"

always gets me the error

[IO/IDE] /dev/cdrom: could not open file (No medium found)

and it exits. So I stick a random CD in the drive, and it gets past that—and back to the AppleMacIO warning. I wonder what I did last night to get it to boot successfully (albeit without networking), but now whether I use PearPC 0.3.1 or the CVS version, it’s hanging at the same place. Even if I change ppccfg to use (or not) the CD image. Or either options for networking or not. Or if I try with a new untouched system disk image or not. Gahh. Trying an strace shows it looping with

futex(0x810a4d8, FUTEX_WAKE, 1) = 0
clock_gettime(CLOCK_REALTIME, {1113159672, 863922000}) = 0
clock_gettime(CLOCK_REALTIME, {1113159672, 864070000}) = 0
futex(0x810a4f4, FUTEX_WAIT, 5831, {0, 9852000}) = -1 ETIMEDOUT (Connection timed out)

after that warning message. I wonder why its connection is timing out?

Darn, I was hoping what I’d be writing was a description of how I got it to work for me. Not just yet.

More later. 🙂

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