Search Results: "awm"

08 May 2009

Jaldhar Vyas: New GnuPG Key

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1 - -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA256 Recently there has been some brouhaha about migrating away from SHA-1 digests as used in GnuPG and to this end I followed the procedure described by Daniel Kahn Gillmor and created a new key which I will get signed at the Debian NYC meetup tonight and use to replace my existing key for signing packages. The old key (which is still valid btw) is: pre. pub 1024D/EE6DC66A 1999-12-16
Key fingerprint = 48DF D000 3BE7 1FF8 D9C1 5832 DA46 0E47 EE6D C66A And the new key is: pre. pub 2048R/C4794DAF 2009-05-08
Key fingerprint = 37EF 5B02 19C3 0C6E 47B2 51D0 EAA6 38FA C479 4DAF You can fetch the new key from http://people.debian.org/~jaldhar/gpg.txt or from the public keyservers (I don't know if there is a lag in how quickly new keys are made available.) This message has been signed with both the old and new keys.
- -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux) iQEcBAEBCAAGBQJKBLrsAAoJEOqmOPrEeU2vfzIH/A99fMg6fC30GEm6SavJY4lt
hNS7N95dAn8iSGWfWgRv7t3ePAwmiIAZrcsFsjFgpS5IlZOTj9cFjTTz9Tgj030V
s55BSiM8yVrwnsgmZOHoVcQitS7i3b/I4AD/7Nrgx711GEIKesi1/O7eY1h0NaBM
kKlgIxg4GW1BFWd6P6XGtquO5ERYKUAkWRuPpxwUThlLbkXt0AOkWD13pmVD6adw
ZZwTPbFHQ/xvdYLwwSCZWXoPsrmuYcxlTcCzGkWISBPof6wmOkVshUAO6flVqKJ/
lm6rhpDKVgC/M1dOyDR9yh+Na3rgBFP0lOrJZpjW93Wld19v/yY6DSyZdJZoIOE=
=mDg8
- -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux) iEYEARECAAYFAkoEuwsACgkQ2kYOR+5txmp31gCgjoG/Y5W0QMkVY9fafZPb5SUb
MzEAn253UwCq+8UbdyD+ls7ZAcSvSt4h
=/lhN
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

11 April 2009

Andrew McMillan: DAViCal 0.9.6.3 released

After far too long (too many holidays away from my keyboard :-) I've released DAViCal 0.9.6.3 and AWL 0.36. This is mostly a stability release, fixing all those little niggles that might only affect a few corner cases, but it frees me up now to concentrate on adding more functionality for a 0.9.7 release in due course. Hopefully this will be the last in the 0.9.6.x series. More information in the DAViCal release notes on the wiki. There are quite a few changes to the AWL libraries which this release depends on, but most of those changes have been driven by my Work Request Management System and Capital APMS projects, rather than from DAViCal.

30 March 2009

Russell Coker: Links March 2009

Cory Doctorow has written a column for The Guardian titled You shouldn t have to sell your soul just to download some music [1]. One really interesting point he made was The same companies that spent decades telling lawmakers that they were explicitly not the guardians of the morality of the young that they couldn t be held accountable for sex, drugs and rock n'roll, for gangsta rap, for drug-fuelled dance-parties did a complete reversal and began to beat their chests about the corrupting influence of downloading on the poor kiddies . The pt4me2 organisation advocates that the Victorian government spend more money on public transport infrastructure [2]. Recently the congestion on Melbourne roads has been getting worse, the costs of private car parks in the central city area have been increasing, and during peak hours all public transport is over-crowded. Some significant improvements are needed, and more trains, trams, and buses are the only possible way of coping with the number of people working in the city. Also there s the issue of suburbs that lack any public transport, I wouldn t want to live near one of those areas when petrol hits $8/L (as the CSIRO predicts for 2018). Michael Tiemann writes about Microsoft s latest patent attack against Linux [3]. He doesn t pull any punches which is a very noteworthy thing. It s pretty rare to see someone in a senior position in a company blog in a way that makes any significant comment about another company. Dan Ariely gave an interesting Ted.com talk about Our Buggy Moral Code [4]. One of the points was that people who declare themselves to be atheists are less likely to cheat when asked to swear on a bible first, another was that if someone who is identified as a member of the same group cheats then others will follow, but if an outsider cheats then they won t. It seems that if you want to minimise cheating then you want to have only outsiders be seen to do it, and you want everyone to swear to follow some sort of moral code. Flame has written a good rant titled Anarchy is Dead about the lack of popular outrage against the Australian government s censorship plans [5]. Rolling Stone magazine has a good article about the US banking crisis [6]. A moderate amount of bad language, but no more than is deserved. Amazing video of rounding up sheep that are fitted with LEDs at night [7]. Here s an interesting TED talk by Saul Griffith about using kites to generate electricity [8]. Unfortunately he didn t give much engineering information, it was more of an executive summary of what he has done. He claims that if a wartime level of effort was put in place then wind could supply all the electricity needs of the US within 10 years. Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) gave a talk for TED about his obsession with the Dodo [9]. One thing that surprised me is how his manner in that talk differed from his appearance in Mythbusters. It seems that most of his crazy antics in Mythbusters are an act to entertain the audience. The information about the dodo was really interesting too. He then went on to talk about his recreation of the Maltese Falcon. His work can serve as inspiration for other geeks who want to try sculpting.

25 February 2009

Andrew McMillan: Conference Audio: Problems, Procedures & Suggestions for the Future

I was going to reply to this in the mailing list, but after I spent half an hour furiously typing this, I thought it might be better to put it into a blog, for a slightly wider audience, perhaps a more permanent life and partly in an effort to end this thread on a more or less constructive note. The backchat for this is that the LCA 2009 video has started to go up on the web, and some talks have some gaps in the audio stream... Russell Coker wants to make a constructive suggestion, as follows: On Wed, 2009-02-25 at 18:02 +1100, Russell Coker wrote:
>
> I've pasted in the below paragraph (the third time I've included it in this
> thread) to reiterate my point. Note that I am not asking you to re-do any
> videos, I am making a suggestion for future people.
>
> # I suggest that in future when preparing such videos the sections with no
> # sound be omitted and replaced by a short note explaining the omission,
> # something like "sorry, due to technical difficulties four minutes of sound
> # were not available". Having a second ogg file for the lip-readers would be
> # an option although I expect that the demand would be minute.
> As someone who has not been at all involved with the production of the LCA videos, but who has been intimately involved with the process of streaming DebConf 6, 7 & 8, I think this sort of additional effort will only happen if people voluntarily do it themselves. Just the task of *watching* all of the produced videos is a huge job for one individual, but as a community of individuals it is quite likely that at least one individual in the community watches each video. If each person who was offended by the quality of post-production work took it upon themselves to fix up only one video then it is probable that we would see some changed. Otherwise I'm afraid it is unlikely. Further in his e-mail, Russell Coker wrote:
>
> My observation was that the microphones were put down AFTER they ceased
> operating. A non-functional lapel microphone is no better than a non-
> functional hand-held microphone.
>
> Having a large supply of new batteries would be one way of alleviating the
> problem (I believe that some of the instances were due to flat batteries).
> Another possibility is having two microphones on hand so that if one died the
> other could be turned on.
>
> A wired microphone that doesn't rely on battery power would probably be the
> most reliable option. That of course might not fit with OH&S issues. Most speakers are uncomfortable / unfamiliar with wired microphones. Spares are essential, of course, but the problem can usually be avoided by having a checklist for the audio person to confirm several things: Before the start of the talk: At the start of the talk: At the end of the talk: There are probably a couple of things that I've missed, but if you start with a checklist you pretty soon modify it into a *good* checklist, and it *really* helps when people are under fire. In fact lapel mics are not the best microphones for these kinds of presentations. The best mics are the ultra lightweight 'headset' models which place a the mic near to the speakers mouth. These do not suffer when the speaker turns their head hard to the left or right, at which points a lapel mic stops getting their speech. They also work well with that more hirsute minority so over-represented in our particular community (alas, that this set no longer includes Bdale :-) Of course DebConf has a large team of volunteers for streaming the conference, and has developed these kinds of procedures over a number of years. At DebConf there are usually only two main streams, each of which involves: Ideally that really is 7 people (times two streams), and you can get by if you can't find all of the last three, but the other four are increasingly desirable. We mostly manage to do that with volunteers for two streams at DebConf, but for five or more streams at LCA it is inevitably a lot harder, and the quality necessarily has to be cut back to match the resources available. While it is true that sound is critical to this communication, it is unfortunately also true that most people's (even most geek's) eyes glaze over when presented with a mysterious box with a mere 6 sliding potentiometers, let alone when there are 36 of them, each associated with another 8 rotary knobs, and a rats nest of cables worthy of the worst network nightmare they've seen, and where everything appears to be literally held in place with duct tape. So it is not so surprising then that while it is relatively easy to find a gadget mad geek capable of operating a camera, or even experienced with operating a camera, finding people with experience operating a sound mixer is an order of magnitude harder. At LCA the operation appears superficially to often involve a (single) speaker camera operator with a very basic sound mixer which has been configured once by an overworked person who is unobtainable during the actual talk to solve any audio problems. These people are volunteers, and are doing their best, but it simply isn't possible to get a consistently high quality of video and audio in those circumstances. So as one of the organising committee for LCA 2010 in Wellington I will be watching what we do, and although I don't intend to get personally involved in the video production (I've got plenty of other stuff on *my* plate :-) I do intend to provide what advice and assistance I can. I know that we hope to have some professionals involved (as volunteers), but how many volunteers, and with what levels of skill & experience, we are unlikely to know until much closer than the date. I'll also personally try and get a run-down on all of the audio equipment so that in an emergency, if I happen to be available, I can sub as a sound mixer operator. So we will try and do better in Wellington in 2010. Come to the conference, though, because we can make no guarantees, and if you do come to Wellington, and you see a single cameraman, and you know something about running a sound mixer, then perhaps you can come and volunteer to help out in that capacity, for the talks you are attending anyway. We'd really appreciate the help. And finally I must say thanks, in particular, to Holger Levsen for all the learning I have gained since joining the videoteam at DebConf5 in Helsinki in 2005. And too, to all of those past conference teams (LCA, DebConf and otherwise) who have put their best efforts into providing videos of the talks I couldn't see in person. I know it's a bloody hard job, and often a less high profile one, so:

Thank You.

02 February 2009

Benjamin Mako Hill: Mottos

I recently ate a bag of potato chips made by FoodShouldTasteGood, Inc.. Their motto (as printed on that bag under their name) was, "It's our name. It's our brand. It's our motto." Now, either the antecedents for those three it's are different -- which seems implausible -- or their motto is lying in its final sentence. It's all very complicated. Seth Schoen reminded me of a somewhat similar issue with the United States' national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. The final stanza includes the line, "And this be our motto 'In God is our trust.'" This is not and has never been the U.S. motto. In fact, the U.S. had no motto at all until 1956 when "In God We Trust" -- which is very similar, but not quite the same -- became official. It seems that nobody is quite sure where "In God We Trust" came from but there is some speculation that it originated in the anthem itself. Presumably, it became the motto because lawmakers thought it sounded good in the song and not because the U.S. government failed while trying to "correct" the embarrassing incorrect line in its anthem.

23 January 2009

Andrew McMillan: LCA2010 in Wellington, New Zealand

The news is out now, that Wellington will be hosting LCA 2010. As someone on the core team for that (potential sponsors please contact me sooner rather than later :-) I really hope we can do something as awesome as the current week we've had here in Hobart. Thanks to all of the Hobart team for doing a great job.

Andrew McMillan: Summary of Paul's Perl talk

For the benefit of Debian users, here's a quick summary of Paul Fenwick's talk about cool stuff in recent Perl versions.

apt-get install libmoose-perl
apt-get install libpar-packer-perl
apt-get install libdevel-nytprof-perl
apt-get install libautodie-perl
apt-get install libperl-critic-perl
Now I have to integrate all that into my writing of Perl programs, which doesn't really happen frequently enough for such changes to become easily ingrained... Great fun, and it's tempting to install Windows just so I could run some of that stuff, but perhaps Paul hasn't realised that you can run Minesweeper under Wine?

22 January 2009

Andrew McMillan: Seeing my photo

Today in Anton Hughes talk at LCA 2009 I saw my photo of Eben Moglen up on the big screen. Woohoo! :-) As with most of the photos I have put on Wikimedia Commons it is released under PD-Self, so it will be interesting whether he chooses to credit me or not. He seems to have a pretty good argument, and I hope that this gets visibility and acceptance in the legal community over time. The free software audience is pretty sympathetic, of course.

20 January 2009

Andrew McMillan: LCA 2009 - The first couple of days

LCA is once again proving it's premiere status as one of the top free & open source software conferences in the world. Our hosts in Hobart are well-organised and friendly, and though I've been locked into the Systems Administration miniconf by virtue of being one of the organisers, what I've been hearing from the other delegates with the freedom to sample other streams is that all of the miniconfs have once again achieved the high standards that we've come to expect from the conference. Right now I'm in the keynote by Tom Limoncelli who's giving us all a good kick in the proverbial, to switch us to the mindset of plenty, and to see beyond limited scarcity. Wonderful stuff. Linux == Infinite Love :-)

30 December 2008

Andrew McMillan: Off to Tasmania

Tomorrow will be a challenging day, herding the kids through the airports to get to Hobart for a holiday in Tasmania before linux.conf.au 2009 in a couple more weeks. Sadly I didn't get the DAViCal release out over Christmas that I'd hoped for, and realistically I should face up to the fact that I won't have much chance to push it out until I get back... Still, it might happen, so don't lose hope! And if you're desperate the current Git head is pretty safe too - so long as you use the head for AWL as well. I'll only have sporadic net access (until LCA anyway), and my cellphone won't reach me at all, so I guess the world will have to get along without me for a few weeks :-) Have a Happy New Year - we won't be partying tonight, with a 4:00am start in the morning!

28 December 2008

Joachim Breitner: MuMer relaunch preview online

A few years ago, I had some ideas about a real-world trading game. In short, a combination of the game play of Settlers of Catan , the cute pseudo-medieval world of The Settlers (the computer game), which you can play in your every day live along, without having to sit in front of the computer for a long time. I then started some code, lost motivation and let it sit there for a while.Recently, I re-developed interest in the idea and started from scratch, using Haskell and HAppS. To avoid losing interest again, I m now putting the code online and set up the server. I invite everyone to play around with it, maybe have a look at the code, send me patches or comments. As you can see, the web user interface is plain ugly HTML and could need some love. Some CSS is definitely needed, some AJAX would be nice. Also, the resource tree is very small at the moment there are a lot of things to work on, even if you don t want to touch Haskell!You can register at http://mumer.net/. You will be either given a forest (a source for wood) or a source of stone. You can reap your source, and trade on the Free Market , which is where you can always trade online, at bad prices. The idea is that you find real trade partners, to get better prices.For now, trading without physical contact is possible. You can create so-called issue ids, which represent stips of paper. You can then load resources on them, and give the paper (i.e. the number) to other players, who can then redeem them. Eventually, it is planned that these pieces of paper are provided centrally and (sufficiently) unforgeable, so that it is clear who owns a resource.You can also bid on certain stuff, such as a sawmil, which allows you to turn wood into boards. It will regularily be re-leased to the highest bidder.You can get the code (in a darcs repository) from http://darcs.nomeata.de/mumer2 and also browse the code.If you happen to be at the CCC right now and would like to talk about it, please do so!

12 December 2008

Chris Lawrence: Corollary of the day

King Politics thinks the GOP anti-bailout faction has the politics of the day wrong:
The time for pragmatism is now, but Senate Republicans don t recognize that. Senate Republicans have yet to realize that the GOP lost so many seats in 2006 and 2008 because the American public has a greater desire for pragmatism than ideology.
I think that s true to a point but I suspect it has more to do with post-Katrina George W. Bush than any coherent definition of ideology. As much as the Democrats would like to pretend otherwise, ideological is not a term I d readily apply to the bumbling nature of Bush s second term. Nor am I really convinced that the average voter is doing much more than engaging in post-hoc rationalized-as-something-else economic voting, which doubtless makes me no fun at parties when I play a public opinion scholar. ( Yes, all this crap matters at the margins, and occasionally elections are won at the margins, but most of the time it doesn t matter. ) But I digress. There is a broader lesson, though, in that to the extent the Democrats believe that their recent success is due to their ideology it is at their long-term peril, particularly if they bypass pragmatism in favor of catering to the cobbled-together collection of rent-seekers that passes for the Democratic coalition. To the extent bailing out Detroit is seen as a Democatic handout to its paymasters particularly with the emerging frame of the greedy unions are standing in the way trumping any sort of concept that any deal that tells the UAW to can their contract is essentially an impairment of the obligation of contract (which, believe it or not, is unconstitutional) the auto bailout won t go over well in the 48 or so states that don t host significant Big Three production. On a related note, Steven Taylor notes the defining-down of the filibuster by the media to mean failure to win a cloture vote. While I accept the point graciously, I think this may be more a failure of us as a profession than the media per se; modern congressional procedures (not just filibusters and holds, but also esoterica such as the Rules Committee and UCAs), even superficially treated, aren t a strong point of most American government textbooks, and more often than not that s the only real government orientation budding journalists will get. I make a point of assigning Barbara Sinclair s Unorthodox Lawmaking in my Congress classes, but I doubt the average journalist gets that in-depth in their undergrad days. So here at least I think the blame falls somewhat closer to home than we might want to admit.

Chris Lawrence: Corollary of the day

King Politics thinks the GOP anti-bailout faction has the politics of the day wrong:
The time for pragmatism is now, but Senate Republicans don t recognize that. Senate Republicans have yet to realize that the GOP lost so many seats in 2006 and 2008 because the American public has a greater desire for pragmatism than ideology.
I think that s true to a point but I suspect it has more to do with post-Katrina George W. Bush than any coherent definition of ideology. As much as the Democrats would like to pretend otherwise, ideological is not a term I d readily apply to the bumbling nature of Bush s second term. Nor am I really convinced that the average voter is doing much more than engaging in post-hoc rationalized-as-something-else economic voting, which doubtless makes me no fun at parties when I play a public opinion scholar. ( Yes, all this crap matters at the margins, and occasionally elections are won at the margins, but most of the time it doesn t matter. ) But I digress. There is a broader lesson, though, in that to the extent the Democrats believe that their recent success is due to their ideology it is at their long-term peril, particularly if they bypass pragmatism in favor of catering to the cobbled-together collection of rent-seekers that passes for the Democratic coalition. To the extent bailing out Detroit is seen as a Democatic handout to its paymasters particularly with the emerging frame of the greedy unions are standing in the way trumping any sort of concept that any deal that tells the UAW to can their contract is essentially an impairment of the obligation of contract (which, believe it or not, is unconstitutional) the auto bailout won t go over well in the 48 or so states that don t host significant Big Three production. On a related note, Steven Taylor notes the defining-down of the filibuster by the media to mean failure to win a cloture vote. While I accept the point graciously, I think this may be more a failure of us as a profession than the media per se; modern congressional procedures (not just filibusters and holds, but also esoterica such as the Rules Committee and UCAs), even superficially treated, aren t a strong point of most American government textbooks, and more often than not that s the only real government orientation budding journalists will get. I make a point of assigning Barbara Sinclair s Unorthodox Lawmaking in my Congress classes, but I doubt the average journalist gets that in-depth in their undergrad days. So here at least I think the blame falls somewhat closer to home than we might want to admit.

07 November 2008

Andrew McMillan: Multiples of latency

Today someone asked me to take a look at an Evolution enhancement that's just begging to get into trunk. Since this is a Gnome program in a subversion repository I've commenced the process of cloning the repository so I can look at the issue against the current head. At the current rate I should have a copy of the repository by early tomorrow morning, in order to be able to start looking at it. Of course today is when I actually do have some time to spare, and I hope to be fast asleep at the time when I expect this to finish. Presumably subversion isn't this slow for everyone, but since my latency to their repository is 300mS I'm probably on the worst end the pain, with each commit seemingly taking around a second. It sure would be nice if subversion provided some kind of chunked compression of these five-year-old commits, so I could be bandwidth limited, rather than latency challenged. The addition of a day to the checkout of a software project must be a significant barrier to entry for anyone considering contributing. It makes it much less likely to be opportunistic. So far I'm up to r3600 in 75 minutes. That's 75 minutes that I could have spent actually looking at the code, but now it's time for me to go and vote for me...

01 November 2008

Andrew McMillan: DAViCal 0.9.6.1 release

Well, it seems that there were few problems with the pre-release of DAViCal I pushed out last week, so 0.9.6 is out now. The full release notes are on the wiki. The biggest change is that this release now supports free/busy using the method defined in the draft scheduling extensions for CalDAV, so it's possible to schedule meetings with Sunbird/Lightning or iCal, and possibly other clients if they support that. Now I can concentrate on getting some paid work done for a few weeks before I start on the next stage. Updated After release I discovered that due to the changed behaviour of DAViCal, interoperation with Mozilla Sunbird/Lightning 0.8 was no longer working. A new 0.9.6.1 version has been released to resolve this issue.

Andrew McMillan: DAViCal 0.9.6.1 release

Well, it seems that there were few problems with the pre-release of DAViCal I pushed out last week, so 0.9.6 is out now. The full release notes are on the wiki. The biggest change is that this release now supports free/busy using the method defined in the draft scheduling extensions for CalDAV, so it's possible to schedule meetings with Sunbird/Lightning or iCal, and possibly other clients if they support that. Now I can concentrate on getting some paid work done for a few weeks before I start on the next stage. Updated After release I discovered that due to the changed behaviour of DAViCal, interoperation with Mozilla Sunbird/Lightning 0.8 was no longer working. A new 0.9.6.1 version has been released to resolve this issue.

31 October 2008

Andrew McMillan: Graphics in OpenOffice.org: SVG, EPS and WMF

When Heather designed a logo for me for Morphoss she did it with a bitmap editor, naturally enough because that's the tool she's most familiar with using. I'd rather not use a bitmap as the source format for the logo though, because it will degrade when it gets resized, so I redrew it as a vector graphic. One of the best free, open-source tools around for vector graphics seems to be Inkscape and I've mucked around with it for many years, so I naturally used that. Once you have a logo though, you naturally want to use it in documents, and the importing of SVG graphics into OpenOffice.org documents is a long-outstanding bug (let alone embedding SVG graphics) so I needed to convert them to another format. It's actually the most requested feature in OOo, appearing twice in the top 10, and even spawning an external SVG importer project. Since both programs support encapsulated postscript I was able to save the logo from Inkscape as .eps and use it directly in OpenOffice.org. While this initially seemed satisfactory, after a few weeks of using documents with the .eps logo embedded in them I started to get annoyed with the strange pauses when my CPU was maxed out while paging up and down. I was sure that that had not happened in the past when I was using a logo in WMF format, which OOo inevitably has to support well for compatibility with other Office Suites. After some searching around for more complicated ways to convert SVG or EPS to WMF, I discovered that what I could do was simply to open the EPS in OpenOffice.org draw, and save it from there as a WMF. This seems to work well, for my purposes anyway, so now when I use my logo in my OpenOffice.org documents I don't see any annoying slowdown paging up and down within the document, and I didn't have to download the SVG importer for OpenOffice.org either. Well alright, I did download the SVG importer as well, but my logo didn't look nearly so good without it's text, and with everything displaced up and to the right at various offsets!

28 October 2008

Andrew McMillan: DAViCal 0.9.6 pre-release packages

Here are some pre-release DAViCal 0.9.5.90 (i.e. nearly 0.9.6) packages now. Since there is a lot of refactoring that has gone on under the covers here, I'll publish these packages so that people can tell me about all my embarassing mistakes, and I can correct them, before I upload them to places where they might get installed more or less automatically. In particular if you do find problems with these, and can catch me on the #davical on irc.oftc.net during the coming week I should be able to include a fix into the real 0.9.6 release next week. If you can't get on IRC then an e-mail will also be fine. The full release notes are here but the short version is that this fixes a number of bugs, notably one to do with importing calendars containing repeating events with exceptions. The big change is that this adds the initial support for the draft scheduling extensions to CalDAV, in particular the lookup of free/busy information.

17 October 2008

Andrew McMillan: Squid packages with IPv6 support enabled

I've been helping Amos Jeffries with a little testing in the last week to help nail some IPv6 bugginess preparatory to the upcoming 3.1 release of squid. In the process of that I've built some Squid3 packages with IPv6 support enabled from current HEAD. Get 'em while they're hot. Note that these are in a 'works for me' state. They have been built on Lenny, and I have them running on both Lenny and Sid. I haven't put them somewhere you could apt-get them from because you should be paying attention if you're going to use them! PS. If you can't click through to Amos' site it's because you're using IPv6 and the EveryDNS servers are continuing to serve up old data for his domain. Sigh.

11 October 2008

Andrew McMillan: Shiny New Laptop

After a few years of only buying laptops with Intel hardware, today I bought something totally different. It's not really what I wanted (which was an HP HDX 16t) but I get the feeling that none of these 16" HD 1080 laptops will make it to New Zealand for a while yet, and the NZ dollar has done such a nosedive recently that it's better not to wait any longer. In the places that hold stock there seem to be some good specials around at the moment, and as the owner of a new free, open-source consulting business (i.e: a cheap bastard) I went shopping for the cheapest dual-core I could find with a half-decent screen, and I found the Asus X53K for $999 (USD$589) at Dick Smith, including a 2G ram upgrade to take it to 3G. It's entirely non-intel, with a 2GHz Turion dual-core, ATI Radeon X2300 with 1440x900 panel, Atheros AR2425 wifi and 160G HD. I'd bought a replacement 320G hard drive even before I got the laptop, so now I have a pristine, unbooted 160G hard drive with the install files for some other OS on it - no doubt I'll find a use for the disk, at least! Since AMD got ATI to release all their chip documentation earlier this year I felt able to shell out for this, rather than the extra $100 for the model next to it, and it was nice too to get home and find that Atheros have recently released the HAL for their a/b/g chips. Which presumably means that they haven't done so for their 'n' chipsets, and I should continue to steer clear of that technology for a while yet... I'm running Debian GNU/Linux 'Sid' on the Asus X53K and, everything pretty much just works out of the box. My installation process was to rsync the old laptop onto a new disk, and boot the new laptop from that - after compiling a new kernel more appropriate to the changed hardware. After overcoming my own stupidity in not syncing the /dev/ underneath udev, which I easily googled my way out of, the only problem I've found so far is that the free radeon driver doesn't do 3d for me. Presumably the non-free ones would, but they won't compile against my 2.6.27 kernel so I don't know for sure. Fortunately I don't use 3d for anything so it's not a huge inconvenience to me. With 3G RAM and a fast 320G hard drive the laptop actually is an upgrade for me, too, and it has a webcam too, which I expect I'll look at in much the same way as I did the fingerprint reader on the old laptop. It will be good to finally hand that old one back to Catalyst, too, who have given me the flexibility to take my time on this. Now to try and peel off all these stickers without damaging anything!

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