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26.09.2007 A short report

I have been carried away from my hobbies and everything else because of the work that also happens to be my hobby. There is a lot going on now that I am studying, doing some extra work and a new semester started at my school. I have come acquainted with things such as facebook, testing tools, boot loaders, kernel drivers, social networks, virtualization, firewalls, compilers, a puppy, stress, low carb diet, hardware like I never knew it before and window managers. I didn’t name everything and not all of them are brand new to me but there seem to be a lot of new things around me right now.

Today I played around with Compiz. All of that was because of my bright idea of updating my Xorg when I was updating Java from Gutsy Goatse (or what ever the distribution is called). The reason for installing Java was the fact that I am taking part in a seminar that heavily suggest I install this software named Condor on my laptop to analyze my social network. The software started fine but the main window remained blank. Installing from Gutsy helped a lot. In the morning, nothing seemed to work on my updated X and I made a full upgrade to Gutsy (quite counter-intuitive, right?) After that I had huge problems with Compiz changing two workspaces with one press. It turned out that wall and cube plug-ins do not mix. I am not quite sure how I managed to mess things up. At least the Gnome tool and Ubuntu’s desktop-effects collided and things went wrong big time. While on a lecture about social networks I fixed it. I think gconf-editor is the best tool for Compiz configuration.

I am attending a seminar on COINs, distributed software development and whatever goes along with them. We have a chap named Peter Gloor from MIT talking to us about analyzing these creatures. He has covered a clutch cable in Ghana and drug abuse in his side tracks, which may implicate him finding the phenomena in his every-day life or just avoiding the subject. Sociology plays a big part in this branch of science along with graphs, matrices and other exact science. The softer stuff makes the subject a bit easier to approach, I think. I don’t feel like mathematical proofs right now.

The rest of my day, among social things, consists of kernel drivers and boot loaders. I have been ripped from the high-level abstractions to the really low level of programming. It feels good for a change to implement something that no one has actually done before. Conceptually the things preexist but this time the undisclosable things might even end upstream with slim to none changes. Working in a company circling around Open Source I have been able to do that rarely. Also the mindset required for the programming is completely different when working on a lower level. Even the system resources are restricted for a change. I have worked before with BUENOS which is an educational system for learning operating systems but the real deal feels different. Also the specifications of an academically used software are from another planet compared to the things coming from chip manufacturers. I thought it would be easier to sell something if the specifications were any good and easily available.

Having these projects it has still been possible to do some gardening as well. I got two IBM Xseries 340 3U servers. The other one is going to be the new server for this site and a few others. The other is going to do Something until the more important one starts rotting and needs spare parts. I am almost considering a S-ATA controller and a 160GB mirror instead of the current 18GB SCSI blades. It is the first time I have the privilege of owning a real RAID controller but I consider 36GB a trade-off. The system is not quite configured yet. It seems to filter traffic from and to the virtual servers that I have configured and debugging is a luxury I can’t afford in personal projects at the moment. The firewall is nearly a copy of my home server. The biggest difference is that I bridge the connections instead of messing things up with a NAT.

Configuring the home server is the latest successful fruit of my recent gardening. I configured the system in one weekend and it runs almost everything the previous system used to. I still have to create a virtual server for most of the old functionality though. There’s no hurry as it’s been a while since I booted my desktop (the RAID has some problems due to stability issues) and I don’t have any FLACs since my last RAID corruption. Now that I have my new book case, tray table and a place for the server, I have been perfectly happy with my sofa and the table in front of it. The laptop I am currently using is my most used computer these days. I might use the EPIA for playing something from and I have some notes in my Tomboy other than that, I am completely mobile. I even had the energy to pair my BT mouse today.

In my real life I have been doing sports and eating better. I have had a low carb diet for several years now but somehow it has taken me this far to really know what I am doing and feel better than ever. I have decided that living better is a perfect excuse to avoid sitting in front of a computer and writing a stupid blog. I hope my excuse remains the same if I still don’t have the time to write in a long time. Funny though, I feel like I have to sleep less now that I have changed some things in my life.