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posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 09:27pm on 11/11/2014 under , , ,
Every now and then I find myself needing to remember the gcc rune (above) to list the built-in pre-processor symbols. Google knows it, of course, but I just came across a scrap of paper with the scrawling. How very 1990s. So rather than keeping it buried amidst the silt of my physical desk, I'm going to try keeping it buried amid the silt of my virtual consciousness to see if that's a more useful place for it.
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posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 09:01pm on 17/10/2012 under
From time to time I contemplate the notion of a tablet PC of some sort. Yes, yes, I know, Apple's offerings positively exude a level three glamour, but I do hear rumours of people out there who do serious useful stuff with them. As a tool for getting things done, in other words - not just a plaything. But Apple's blurb proclaims there to be over 250,000 apps in the App Store. Right. How on earth am I expected to navigate that?

Of course there is the other option, of a much cheaper Android device, but there is such a profusion of devices to choose from, and no single unified App Store, making the problem much worse. (Side note: commodity hardware is dead.)

What, dear readers, might I do with such a device? What do those of you who have them do? (I also have some notes from folk at work.)

There is also the question of 3G or not. My lifestyle doesn't currently put me in situations where I think "hey, if I had 3G and a tablet right now I could do X", so I don't see much utility in paying the extra - but of course this is a chicken and egg situation. What can I do with a 3G device that's useful, cool or both? I appreciate that you can't answer for me, but you can at least tell me about cool stuff that you'd do, which is hopefully going to give me ideas...

(Side note: I have a PAYG 3G stick; I don't currently see the benefit of a 3G subscription. Casual data is eye-bleedingly expensive here. The least awful rate I have found is with Telecom NZ, who charge $1 for the first 10MB in any 24 hour period, then $1 per MB after that; and if you go a-roaming, then (in most parts of the world) thirty bucks per MB is what they will be a-charging. If RevK is reading this paragraph, he's probably had kittens by now and/or spotted a market ripe for exploitation. But griping about mobile data rates is not (really) the purpose of this post.)
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posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 07:33pm on 05/09/2012 under ,
Leaving work last night, I remarked to a colleague that the world looked wrong. By that, I mean the colours were wrong. The sun was nearly setting, but its golden glow was somehow reflecting off a monstrous thundercloud looming to the south. It was the golden hour, but applied to everything that I was expecting to be in shade.

As I drove to meet [personal profile] rustica there was lots of lightning, though it was too far away to hear the thunder.

20120904 hail By the time we got home I went to unplug the sensitive electronic kit around the house, then we stood out for a while hoping to be able to photograph it. Alas, none of the shots were any good. Then came was this sudden roaring sound, which we took as our cue to take shelter... it was hail. I think it was the largest hail I've ever seen. I photographed them with a 50c coin for scale, which is pretty much the same size as a 10p piece. It wasn't a huge dump; we must have only caught the edge of the storm, because there were reports of golf ball sized hail over in Addington and Papanui (3-4km away) breaking conservatory roofs...! has some decent photos. Poignantly, it was the second anniversary of the September 2010 quake which kicked off all that fun and games.

After it passed, I plugged things back in, and found that (long story short) the DSL modem was fried. Can't say I'm that surprised, really, so I picked up a new one today. The replacement has a web interface which requires me to solve a captcha to log in, even on the LAN side. I'm not sure what I think of this.

On the other hand, I now have some more dead tech kit that I can rip apart and turn into paperweights :-)
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posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 06:58pm on 05/05/2012 under
I finally got round to replacing my aging CRT TV today with a flat-screen. Relatively cheap, practically entry level, a 26" tiddler compared to some of the giant beasts they had in store.

It has an ethernet socket on the back. The paperwork includes a copy of the GPL, and a URL I can download kernel (and other) source from.

When I powered on it asked me if I wanted to enable automatic firmware updates. It has Opera on-board and will apparently play YouTube and other net-based video streams - not to mention Sony's own content offering, but I'm not sure I dare plug it into my home LAN in case it tries to DRM anything it can get its hands on!

I suppose I ought not to be surprised, but from the fact that I'm writing this you may infer that I am. Where's my walking stick, and will those darn kids get off my lawn, please?
crazyscot: Beeblebear wearing headphones (tech bear)
posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 07:48pm on 20/09/2011 under ,
Today I got an email from Google inviting me to monetize my YouTube videos by joining their AdSense program, which would allow them to insert their selection of pop-up ads on my videos, for which privilege they would throw me a breadcrumb or two.

I had never intended to do so, and I'm not about to start, but it got me wondering how the numbers work from a business point of view. They don't give any clues up front what the rate per click or the typical click rates are. So I googled (of course!) and found not much to go on, because if you do sign up to AdSense it's a TOS violation to discuss your results in much detail.

The hits I found suggested that per-click rates range wildly from a few cents to a few dollars, depending on the advertiser; a more useful metric is an average revenue rate per thousand impressions of the ad, for which some arbitrarily-googled discussions suggest you're doing well to get $1 unless you're actively playing the AdSense game with your content so you can try to hit the big-paying ads. (It smells rather like SEO, but in a new dimension: rather that trying to get the top PageRank, you're playing the keywords game for somebody else's money, and of course Google take a (rather large) slice of it.)

My most-viewed video - the Middle-Earth weather forecast - has had all of 1137 views in nearly a year since posting, of which half came in the first month. Now, the AdSense TOCs say that they won't regularly reimburse sums earned of less than US$100. So, assuming that each video is good for 1000 hits, a generous rate of $1 per 1000 hits, and that I somehow had the ideas, resources and wherewithal to make one such video per year (yeah right), I'll need to be making videos for a hundred years before Google will cut me that first cheque - supposing the Internet is still around and the AdSense programme is still going. (Inflation will raise that $100 figure, but it'll also raise that return rate, so I'm waving my hands and ignoring both effects.) And then, in order to actually see the money, I'd have to deal with the US tax authorities. Of course, if I were Google I'd want to get that permission to make money from content, and to set the rates such that I'd never have to pay out in most cases.

No, I don't think so.
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posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 10:45pm on 01/09/2011 under
Who's making wireless bridges these days? No, bridges, not just access points. I have two LANs and want to bridge them wirelessly. The wireless access point I bought last week is going back to the shop as it turns out to specifically not do client bridge mode; apparently dlink don't think this is a feature that anybody wants. It'll do bridging as an access point, but not as a client.
crazyscot: Beeblebear wearing headphones (tech bear)
posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 10:20pm on 05/08/2011 under ,
At work, we have a build system.

Up until today I had treated it mostly as a black box: press the button, software is built. It's entirely homegrown and written in Ruby, of which I speak not a single word.

We have multiple firmware deliverables and unit tests to build; the build system compiles and lints everything within sight (both for the target and for the host), then selectively links subsets of the object code into the outputs. As part of doing so, it builds up a map of the symbol dependencies amongst compile units; if something fails, you get a pointer to the linker mapping log which tells you where it started from, where its meanderings took it, graphical representations of same, and an attempt to provide some hints as to what you might need to do to fix it. If everything does build, it then goes on to run all the local unit tests (and it does so under valgrind, for good measure).

There's more. As well as doing all that, it's smart enough to only recompile the compilation units that have changed, relink the affected outputs, and rerun only the affected tests. So in other words your first build takes ages, but they're much faster and pretty reliable after that. Fully automated laziness, I like it :-)

Today's lesson was to not try to outsmart the buildsystem, for it is cleverer than I am. I thought I was being clever and saving myself time in telling it to build only a subset. This was before I had realised it computes the minimal set of tasks anyway, and I got the runes subtly wrong and it bit me (gently).

I half suspect it is plotting world domination while we sleep.
crazyscot: Beeblebear wearing headphones (tech bear)
posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 02:27pm on 04/06/2011 under
In honour of the upcoming World IPv6 day this week, I've set up IPv6 on my shiny new VPS and sent test mail to it from another ip6 site (chiark). It might even see some real mail this week as I move services onto it.

I know the new numbering space is mind-bogglingly vast, but even so it does seem a little bit profligate to have been allocated a /64 (that's a standard allocation of 264 addresses - the square root of the size of the entire IPv6 space) and have just a single host rattling around in it...

It's just a shame there seem to be no consumer devices that support ipv6 yet. Still, there is a fair chance that I'll be able to get 6to4 going and ceremonially tunnel my way to test-ipv6 and Loops Of Zen (that latter link won't work, btw, unless you are IPv6-enabled).
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posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 07:15pm on 21/05/2011 under
My desktop has an Intel Core2 Duo of 2007 vintage, with an Intel DG965SS motherboard. For the past four years it has had 2Gb of main memory, which largely served me well. Today I finally got round to upgrading it; having checked what it would take I reckoned I would get one 2Gb stick for each of the two spare slots, seeing as they're only £24 each at WOC.

So I booted back to my desktop and it was great; things were much faster. But then I noticed that the memory usage meter only showed me as having 3.2Gb available.

"Huh?" quoth I. 3.2G is a well-known issue if you're running a 32-bit kernel which doesn't have PAE enabled (i.e. is limited to 4G; you lose the top 800M or so of the address space to motherboard and OS internals), or indeed if you're running 32-bit Windows. But on a 64-bit machine running a 64-bit kernel? Surely not.

Well, in amidst the noise of bootup log there was this wonderful(?!) line:

WARNING: BIOS bug: CPU MTRRs don't cover all of memory, losing 2752MB of RAM.

My first thought was Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot. and my second, Ouch.

Googling suggested that I should look for BIOS updates, but that a number of people have been bitten by this sort of motherboard issue and not been able to get it fixed. I looked at the latest version on; the release notes were not very clear, but did provide a hint that something in this department had been fixed, so I was optimistic and went ahead with the upgrade. They're slightly scary if you're not running off a UPS, but nevertheless the power held.

And now it works - Linux can see all six gigs - and I am giving them an exercise. I could have done without that!
Mood:: 'uncomfortable' uncomfortable
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posted by [personal profile] crazyscot at 10:33pm on 10/04/2011 under
Shattered platter
This, ladies, gents and other gentlebeings, is a good demonstration of why, if you must apply brute force and ignorance to a discarded hard drive to ensure your data is unreadable, WEAR EYE PROTECTION. (Before you ask, yes I was.)

This is (was) a laptop hard drive of 2004 vintage; the platters turned out to be extremely fragile, much more so than the desktop drives I've previously mangled. This is what happened when I applied not very much force to try and prise it off the spindle; the second one let go almost explosively when I gripped it firmly in a pair of pliers.

Oh well; job done, at least! Now, excuse me while I go sweep up the fragments...


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