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Box Rebuild
Date: 12/12/2003
Well after the disk crash I got donated a new Seagate drive (yay! Thank you.) and I've reinstalled Win2k, Office, Visual C++ and some utilies, but it's taken most of the day. And wouldn't ya know it, to install 2k you have to be running windows. And well all I had on the new disk was the Win98 system files (ala c:> sys d:) and so I had to install '98 just to be able to RUN the 2k setup. Bah!

So by Monday I'll be productive again I hope. There is still a zillion more apps and OS's to install (yeah several Linux's) but the new disk is pretty quiet and cool. Both big plusses.
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2nd Hard Drive Gone
Date: 10/12/2003
Yep, I've lost 70gb (30+40) worth of hard disk in the last month.

I think I've saved everything important off the failed disk.. but now my machine is down to 13gb and Windows 98 + Gentoo. Ironically it's the oldest (6yrs) drive thats still going. The other 2 drives were both less than 2 years old. However still out of warentee of course, and the IBM drive was already a replacement for a failed disk. Not that I'd put an IBM drive into my machine these days even if they paid me.


Although I had my first positive Linux experience in months when I managed to move all the files around to get Word working again from Linux, as Win98 just hung badly with the failing drive powered up. Konqueror of all things has a "skip all" option when copying huge directories of files and some files are not readable. Plus it seemed less inclined to get stuck on bad sectors.

I managed to get enough things working to see us through the week with some judicious deleting and moving of files. I think I've got less than 100mb free on each partition (Windows + Linux). Although no compiler... that didn't fit, and my mail is stuck on the Linux partition, but thats alright... I can just use this ;)

It feels really old skool to be micro-managing space like this again, I vaguely remember the bad old days of never enough disk space. Even after years of always having free GB's on every partition.
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KDE / konqueror
Date: 9/12/2003
Things I love about KDE and konqueror:
  • I have time to get a coffee waiting for a dropped file to arrive on the desktop.
  • The desktop refreshs itself 3-4 times, flickering away when you change anything on it.
  • My fravorite is how konqueror lays out it's contents twice when in list view (if at first you don't succeed), repainting the text without clipping properly which leaves ugly "bolding" effect because of XFT's anti-aliasing. Lovely.
  • When I use the arrow keys to navagate the list of folders and files in konqueror it jumps over the file I want to select. I love that!
  • I really like how the icons are 2x as big as windows, and don't like being next to each other, and the fonts don't look good at small point sizes and every window wastes 4-8 pixels on every item. Let alone the ugly name clipping that konqueror does. Thats fantastic!
  • I love when you drag a file into an application from the desktop and the mouse hits the window's border on the way to the client area of the application, KDE never honours the applications response to whether it can receive the file being dragged. You have to whip the mouse over the edge of the window from some existing "droppable area" and hope for the best. It's just plain buggy. But thats the beauty of open source, bugs for free! But then not to be outdone the d'n'd support is also really slow, with everything updating seconds after the fact. And that little "file icon" that attaches itself to the cursor paints itself a 1000 times across the screen leaving a trail of images behind. I love that!
This is the year 2003 and we have a product from 1997 living on lots of Linux desktops!

So whinge whine blah blah, you say. "Use the source". Hmmm well I don't think KDE is "rescue-able" but I'm slowly writing my own file manager. I'm also playing with Y hoping to give some legs to something that isn't lame like X.

And don't give me that "X isn't broken" drivel, if 1000's of applications can't get X to run as fast as Windows then I don't think it's the applications fault. I don't care whether they could optimize the apps, it's the underlying latency of everything X does thats the problem. Slow message passing, slow drawing on the screen, slow clipping, having to maintain 2 graphics states (X and XFT) and the lack of proper input support just say to me "kill me now".

When something finally replaces X people will stop saying how it's the apps fault. Scribe runs on Windows and X. I can certainly say the X version is much slower and no where near as fun to use.
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Traffic Offence Cameras
Date: 9/12/2003
It seems at least some people are waking up to the fact that speed cameras are not doing their job, despite the lame excuses offered up by the incumbant Roads and Traffic Authority. Finally people are getting "it", that it's about revenue and not safety.

Take for example, my own experiance with red light cameras. Driving along I come upon a red light camera sitting on flat road in a 60km/h zone. The orange / amber period is a mere 2(.3?) seconds, well below the time required to come to a stop at that speed, and a LONG way below that mandated by the RTA's own guidelines (4-4.5 seconds for those conditions). So we get "booked" entering the intersection 0.6 seconds after the light went red. Which by my calculations would still put us in the amber period on any other CORRECTLY configured traffic light.

So how do I react to this same traffic light these days? Well I certainly perpare the car (and occupants) for some pirotechnics, drop down a gear, which winds up the 1st turbo for a full power (206kw) launch across the intersection if the light bumps to amber, or screaming ABS pumping stop if I don't think I can make it. And I have to wonder whether they have installed a speed camera as well, which no doubt would get me storming over the line. So lets review my options if I arrive at this intersection at the wrong time:
  • Boot it across the line, excessive acceleration, risk speeding fine.
  • Slam on the brakes, risk collecting the camry tailgating me. (At which the RTA won't foot the bill)
  • Coast through the intersection, get fined, risk going postal at the RTA.
So who's the safer now? The ******* RTA in their cosy little offices collecting the cash one way or the other. Where as we deal with added "taxes" on our roads and less safty.

Btw if anyone feels like doing something deconstructive about the situation in Sydney, lets talk!
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Silly Season
Date: 4/12/2003
Seeing as it's that time of year again, I've found a little peice of "silly code" to expunge from Scribe. Ho Ho Ho!

In the folder compact code, the first stage builds a list of data blocks and sorts them, from start to finish in a list. This is no problem on small folders, but my folders are edging up to about 150mb, and I noticed that the item sort slows to a crawl towards the end of the folder file. Thats not good, the rate dropped to about 2mb/s. Which on a 150mb folder was a non-trivial amount of time.

So I exaimined the code and found the algorithm for sorting was O(n^2). Which as most computer scientists know is eeeeeevil. A little tapping away on the keyboard produced a b-tree for storing and sorting segments, that exhibits O(n.log(n)) complexity, and thus eats through the folders at about 16mb/s. Up quite considerably from the old code at 2mb/s. At first it ran at 50mb/s because the file was cached, much to my amazement, so I had to write some code to compare the results of the 2 methods just to be SURE that it was actually doing the work. Sure enough it was and it's going into the next build.

A little less "sillyness" for the season eh?
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My Linux Rantings
Date: 18/11/2003
Are now all in one place. Although the new 2.6 kernel sounds like it's a big step in the right direction, if I have to use X, KDE or Gnome (or any other brain dead GUI/desktop) on it I won't bother.
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