Search Results: "Per Olofsson"

12 August 2007

Per Olofsson: Xorg and widescreen

When I got myself a widescreen LCD monitor, it didn't quite work as expected. The image showed up on the screen, but squeezed down to the wrong format. Fixing it was not trivial. Apparently, X uses the video mode supplied by the monitor through EDID, but the video mode is wrong. Whether this is because the monitor sends the wrong information, or because of a limitation in the EDID format, I don't know. Anyway, here's how I got it working. Note that I have an Intel graphics card and I use the new "intel" video driver. It might not work for your particular configuration. First, I generated a modeline with the cvt command. CVT means "Coordinated Video Timing", and it's some kind of VESA standard. Run the cvt command with the horizontal and vertical resolution as arguments:
$ cvt 1680 1050
# 1680x1050 59.95 Hz (CVT 1.76MA) hsync: 65.29 kHz; pclk: 146.25 MHz
Modeline "1680x1050_60.00"  146.25  1680 1784 1960 2240  1050 1053 1059 1089 -hsync +vsync
Now, put the modeline in the Monitor section of /etc/X11/xorg.conf:
Section "Monitor"
    Identifier  "Generic Monitor"
    # 1680x1050 59.95 Hz (CVT 1.76MA) hsync: 65.29 kHz; pclk: 146.25 MHz
    Modeline "1680x1050_60.00"  146.25  1680 1784 1960 2240  1050 1053 1059 1089 -hsync +vsync
    Option "Preferred Mode" "1680x1050_60.00"
The Preferred Mode option is needed so that the mode is actually chosen. In my case, I have a laptop, so there's also a built-in display, but the mode will not be used on it (the card knows the supported resolutions somehow). In order to be able to switch to a higher resolution when initially using a lower one, the framebuffer needs to be initialized to be big enough. This can be done in the Display subsection:
Section "Screen"
    SubSection "Display"
        Virtual 1680 1050
Here's an interesting thing: the old Modes directives are not needed anymore. They are ignored by the intel driver. You only need one generic Display subsection. That's about it. The display should work automatically if it is connected when X is started. If it is connected afterwards, you can enable it with:
xrandr --output VGA --auto
It can be disabled with:
xrandr --output VGA --off
At least when running Gnome, the window manager automatically fits everything to the right screen size. See the xrandr(1) manual page for more options.

12 April 2007

Per Olofsson: Bacula

I have switched backup system at the department from afbackup to Bacula now. afbackup was really awful, I'm happy that I made the switch. Bacula is actually quite competent: it keeps a database with all files and volumes, and allows flexible configuration of most things, like scheduling and retention. If you need a free program for tape backup, I can highly recommend it. For disk-based backups, however, rsync is still the tool of choice (with some kind of script).

Per Olofsson: LyX 1.4.4 uploaded

Yesterday, I finally uploaded LyX 1.4.4 to unstable. Not too exciting perhaps, but at least we're in sync with upstream now. I've also uploaded 1.5.0~beta1-3 to experimental, which is hopefully not as broken as the previous two uploads, which had some file conflicts.

Per Olofsson: New blog and website

I now have a new website, complete with a blog, powered by ikiwiki. Exciting! I hope to be able to put some interesting stuff on my website, now that it's a bit easier. There are many features in ikiwiki I'd like to test too.

15 November 2006

Per Olofsson: What's the deal with hermeneutics?

Dear Lazyweb,

Today I had a philosophy class and we discussed hermeneutics. But I didn't understand a thing. Not that I ever understand much of what my philosophy teacher says, but I just don't get hermeneutics.

Yes, I've looked it up on Wikipedia, and I've read about it in a book. But I still don't understand. The language used to describe hermeneutics is complicated and weird, and just doesn't make any sense to me.

What I've grasped so far is this: Hermeneutics is a methodology and/or epistemology used in the humanities and, to some extent, the social sciences. Hermeneutics is about interpreting texts. A text can be a literary text or something else (like a film, painting, or perhaps even reality). When you read a text, you need to read it several times and perform "close reading" of the parts. A text consists of the parts and the whole, and somehow they relate to each other, and you need to understand the parts to understand the whole and vice versa (I have no idea what this means). Hermeneutics is also some kind of way of describing reality (epistemology) which differs from the natural science in that it seeks to understand things rather than explain them. In the natural sciences, or the logical positivist tradition, knowledge is sought by explaining cause and effect (at least that's what my teacher says). Proponents of hermeneutics argue that this method does not apply to the humanities. Hermeneutics also employ something called the "hermeneutic circle", which means that you understand a text better the more you read it.

But I don't understand this method. What's so special about reading a text several times? What's the deal with close reading, why is it that good? What kind of knowledge is gained by this method? How does it differ from simply reading a text any number of times and then write an essay about what you think and feel about it? The parts I understand about hermeneutics are only trivialities. Also, there seems to be some kind of rules when you read the text. Like, you need to observe the characters one time, and the plot the second time, etc. Who decided that? Why is it necessary to follow these particular rules, if they exist?

Most importantly, exactly why is hermeneutics a scientific method? To me it looks merely as a practice of reading texts and writing essays about them. These essays are of course subjective; they don't generate any objective knowledge in the natural scientific sense. I'm not saying that it's wrong to write about literature, I just don't understand why a certain method of doing it is considered more scientific than any arbitrary method. In the natural sciences, there are criteria of intersubjectivity, independent testability, verifiability, falsifiability, etc. I see nothing of the like in hermeneutics; I don't know any of its scientific criteria. Apparently you need to refer to specific parts of the text in order to justify your statements (opinions? theories?), but it is a rather vague criterion, and I don't understand the rationale for it.

Another thing is the epistemological side of it. Somehow, hermeneutics is a general theory of knowledge. How that could be I don't know. Why would, for example, a close reading of a text give us the answer to questions like the distance to a particular star or human effect on global warming? Maybe that's not what hermeneutics is intended for. But if it is claimed to be a general theory of knowledge, it should be able to answer those questions in some way.

Maybe all this is just me being stupid or zealous. Or maybe I'm not thinking clearly -- I'm suspecting that I've not been thinking clearly lately. Perhaps I'm refusing to understand out of mere distaste or frustration. My classmates suggested something in the line of that. Perhaps it's because I've read physicist Alan Sokal's brilliant satirical article "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity", and I am now allergic to the language used by academics in the humanities.

If someone could enlighten me on these issues, that would be much appreciated.

24 October 2006

Per Olofsson: useful firefox extensions

Some useful Firefox, uhm, I mean IceWeasel, extensions. You can find them at the usual place (Tools->Extensions->Get More Extensions).
Oh, but maybe I shouldn't use Fireweasel anyway for political and technical reasons. And it's a memory hog you know, but my recent memory upgrade really gave it a boost. Maybe I'll switch someday, but not right now.

21 October 2006

Per Olofsson: Searching packages and sort by popcon

When I search for packages, I frequently want to know which one is the most popular. For example, I can easily apt-cache search for a list of CD rippers, but I'd also like it sorted in order of popularity, according to popcon. Although I could easily write a script which does this, I just wonder if this already exists? Is there a Debian package for it?

Per Olofsson: cheap mp3 players

I have bought a dirt cheap SanDisk mp3 player (< 40). It has 1GB of memory, but no ogg vorbis support. So I have to use mp3. Also, I want to conserve space so I can have many songs and radio shows. And I'm not fanatic about audio quality, I just want it to sound OK and without artifacts.

I found this command line for LAME:
lame --vbr-new -V5
It's fast, uses VBR, and generates on average circa 128 kbits/sec of data. The quality seems to be quite good. This is the exact same command line options as was used in this public listening test.

Together with the ripit package and some configuration, I just have to type ripit to rip a CD. Neat!

Per Olofsson: acpi-support vs hibernate

I used to use the acpi-support package. It originally comes from Ubuntu. The problem is, it really does a *lot* of weird things when suspending and resuming. There are all sorts of workarounds for broken drivers and hardware. And in the end, all these hacks only made things worse: it actually worked better if I just did "echo mem >/sys/power/state" than if I used acpi-support.

I guess this is an Ubuntu thing, hack around everything and try to make it work. It gives fast results. In Debian, I think there's often a kind of opposite perspective: if the driver is broken, fix the driver, don't add ugly hacks. Both approaches of course have their pros and cons.

But now, I have switched to the hibernate package. I like it a lot better, because it isn't just a collection of shell scripts. You can actually configure which workarounds you want to enable, and how you want things to be done. I don't know why Ubuntu didn't simply use this package instead of inventing their own. Maybe hibernate wasn't around at the time.

In the long term, there really needs to be distribution-independent suspend/hibernate interface though. The current situation is less than ideal. Maybe pm-utils will fill this gap.

Update: Oh, I forgot. acpi-support is configurable, but not in a particularly intuitive way, at least not when compared with hibernate. Or maybe it's just my irrational taste.

Update: What I meant to say here actually, I think, is that hibernate is a lot easier to configure and much better documented. You can in a much easier way control exactly which workarounds/hacks you want to apply. And the options are described in the manpage for hibernate.conf. Editing /etc/default/acpi-support is a lot less flexible and a bit confusing.

20 October 2006

Per Olofsson: blogging software

I was kind of thinking of starting blogging again (after having blogged only two entries here). I also wanted my own blogging software; not this livejournal thing. I want to be able to edit my blog entries with emacs, the easy way, and keep it all in a git or darcs repo. I want to be able to choose my own editing language; whether it be markdown, textile, rd or whatever.

Of course I thought of Joey's nice ikiwiki. The only problem is that I don't like its commenting system. I want people to be able to comment easily. I like comments. It is probably possible to extend ikiwiki to make it easier to do comments, but it's not something I want to do right now.

I took a look at this weird thing called hobix. I liked the design and the fact that it is written in ruby, but the author seems to be on LSD. And all this blahhrhrg whsyyythe thing, though marginally amusing, is not the kind of solid documentation I'm looking for.

Yes, I know, there are tons of blogging engines out there. I just don't _like_ them. I hate PHP, and I hate SQL databases (with a possible exception for SQLite). I just want something simple, dammit.

But I'm tired now, and my neck hurts. I will look more another day.

Update: I forgot to mention that I've tried pyblosxom, and it really looks most similar to what I need. I just thought it was a bit complicated to set up with the features I wanted. But maybe it was just me being lazy.

13 February 2006

Per Olofsson: Added to Planet Debian

So now I'm on Planet Debian. I didn't know how people were added, but it turns out that all DDs can edit a config file on gluck (instructions are in /org/ Maybe I should get one of those hackergotchi faces too.

Per Olofsson: DNS cache

Since DNS is slow (for me, at least), I'd like a DNS cache on my machine. pdnsd seemed to fit my needs according to its description. However, after using it for some time now I've concluded that it's even more unreliable than accessing my DNS servers directly. It crashes way too often. It seems that upstream has fixed the bugs but the Debian maintainer is behind. I've pinged the Debian maintainer, I hope he uploads a newer version.

I'm going to try nscd instead. Maybe dnsmasq would work too, but I wonder if it's good at caching? I probably don't want a full recursive DNS cache on my machine, though.