Friday, 25 January 2008

kubuntu feisty ahh ohhh .... ARGH!

After bedtime songs over (I peeped in - Maeve, Airport up in Knock - Kate, Does God have a name) Maeve directs me to go on computer. Unusual! Fionn out residents meeting. So well I _have_ been meaning to backup photos and get video upload and editing working so I toddle over, fire in kubuntu live CD and after a little clicking go and install. I see qtparted and lots of nice things so I can probably recover if something goes wrong.

BTW, need to update at this stage as SuSE 9.1 even after kernel and driver upgrades and reconfig cannot access new SATA DVD/RW and usb driver hangs/goes ultra-very-slow when communicating with HD camcorder. And of course have reached limit of adding bleeding edge versions of various libs built from source in order to get later versions of anything (Wesnoth :) Scribus/Inkscape ...)

So 1st reboot later and ARGH! Blinky cursor top left of black blank screen where grub should be starting up. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Typical. Plus ca change ... PAS! :)
Redhat install pre-1998 involved lilo loopiness first and then every teeny step of the way needed configuring and persuading (keyboard, mouse, graphics, sound, modem, ...)
SuSE 9.1 install maybe 2002/3 was much easier. Resized an ntfs windows partition and grub did everything right. Had fun with Nvidia 3D gfx drivers (Makefile edits).

After rebooting with live CD lots of times, reading up on grub/kubuntu install problems (quite possibly down to sata handling) poking at grub. retrospectively backing up mbrs of every partition. At about 4:30am I get a grub menu BAUGH!! Of course nothing boots but I can quickly see hd0 seems to be sdb not sda and vice-versa for hd1 and sda so another liveCD boot, edit grub manu.lst and YAY! can boot new ubuntu. And YAY! boot old SuSE 9.1 but urk! can't boot windows?
Install install install stuff on ubuntu.
Kids educational and games.
Graphics, some music and video edit.

I hear ... something beeping beeping beeping ... waurgh! It's my alarm clock.
Glance at clock .... 7am!! Ach jaypers! I leg it to spare bed and crash.
Fionn up with kids, I'm really cold during getting ready/breakfast.
Galke force winds.
There's been crash on M50 and traffic is CrAzY can see it backing up in our estate.
All Leopardstown road is jammed, lots of N11 much busier than usual and around port too.
Windy but grand and dry and not cold really for motorbiking. Lots of motorbikes/scooters around.

TODO: 3D/nvidia setup, java+flash+licenced extras around system, transfer photos and music (or ...), transfer video, backup & setup editing.
Installer doesn't recognise SATA disks as primary.
Grub installs to wrong drive's MBR in default install. No way to change in standard installer.
grub guessed BIOS disk order incorrectly
grub uses wrong bootparameters with sda after install

Same problem for me feisty 7.04. Two SATA drives sda and sdb. Dell optiplex desktop.
There seem to be a few problems for users coming up related to grub + sata difficulties
and the issue seems to be ongoing so I'll just add my piece.

bios before was booting from hd0 (suse + grub)
kubuntu new installed on sdb, wrote grub mbr to hd0, sdb was unformatted before install
After kubuntu install sdb bios was looking for hd1 mbr only? Boot hung.

After woe and wailing and gnashing of teeth wrote kubuntu sdb grub mbr to hd1
(in grub root(hd1,1) setup(hd1)) and got a grub menu YAY. But nothing worked.
Weirdly could see sdb was now hd0 and sda was hd1.
So if boot kubuntu live cd grub hd0 = sda, hd1 = sdb.
But in grub from bios boot hd0 = sdb (disk booting from) and hd1 = sda.
Swap hd0<->hd1 in menu.lst

Also the os scan could see suse and windows on sda but entry for suse was not added in kubuntu's menu.lst.

So ... hurmmm. What should the grub install do?
The grub setup(hd0) write by kubuntu gui install flashed up very fast and I didn't see it.
Write to hd0 or hd1 ? If I think you can't trust bios
I think it could have some helpful things added:
1. make a backup of any mbr it is writing over, put it in /boot/grub/backup_mbr_xxxx (and rotate)
(consider also backup of all partition mbr areas - user would appreciate that if they have to start
running grub install themselves)
2. if kubuntu successfully boots from install mark grub as having a successful boot
3. If user has come back in on live CD and there is an mbr backup then options to
restore these would be nice (display options if advanced user OR if user has come back and
a successful boot has not happened).
4. If user has come back in on live CD and there is no grub successful boot mark then ... ... ?
offer option to audit hardware/software and send report somethere?
5. If there is another grub ... play nice, warn user. Can't cover all options but it would be nice.

bloat bloat bloat :) but in the name of user-friendliness and that's what the grub install intends?

I think the bios behaviour is odd.

To handle bios weirdness I'd guess after any partition editing a reboot would have to be done (YEUCH!) and then the assigned handles would probably be correct so that grub install could run and be reasonably sure the handles have not changed.

Otherwise write grub mbr to all disks seen? Especially if have just formatted a disk ...
In my case the sdb mbr was left uninitialised so when it was attempted to boot from by bios it hung.
If a grub mbr was sneakily written to new disks it could save hassle for a few people.

But grub is clever and ?should?/could be made to be a bit more flexible?
i.e. if (hd0,x)/boot/grub/menu.lst not found then look for it on (hd1.x) (hd2.x) ... ?
Maybe that is hard to do.


Sunday, 6 January 2008

dsp cookbook and pumpkins

Yay! :) Paula has published latest dspsrv cookbook

We just harvested our last 3 pumpkins after christmas - they were a bit late
in the planting really and probably just got half the potential Irish sun due to location
- we had 4 for halloween but left the others as they were still very green.
We've eaten one of the latest ones and wow it was so sweet!
I'd say not 100% ripe as there was no apace inside, just pumpkin seeds packed in tight.

We've also discovered pumpkin goes very nicely in omlette.
Fry pumpkin with herb/seasoning quickly before taking out and adding to egg
(you have to add the pumpkin to the egg so it's inside the omlette and not obviously underneath).

I have to clarify one thing, I actually quite like bogs and Brenda Costigan's book too!.
So when I say "some simple bog-standard Irish recipes" I actually mean simple*** and bog-standard as in
down to earth and sensible in a very excellent way. I didn't put enough emoticons and
thought/proofreading in there!

*** simple in one way yet teeming with gazillions of twii###mendously compwex and exciting
micwo-owganisims (hopefully for a healthy bog)

### sowii!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

varied diet

for my midnight-ish snack I've just had:
half an apple
pulp of one orange
hot whiskey (with zingy grated lemon peel and ginger, honey & lemon clove slice) (with Fionnuala)
piece of cajun salmon
half glass red wine
bowl of breakfast cerial (girls from this morning - medly!)
small piece of christmas cake

Yum. Leftovers. Me dustbin.

DIary. Back to work. Fionn sick.

Fionnuala is miserably sick - got sick last night.
She wakes me up 8:30. I actually remember some of a dream!
Partly in dream I had already gotten up and gone to work so my wake up instinct was already happy and not firing.

In dream in work we must have been bought by a bank or newspaper or something like that. The few of us were in a big meeting in desks (like school/uni) in a strange place with lots of people in this new company. After a while I ask a girl something (I had been anti-social/shy) and she answers in volumes and I think Hmmm, I think she likes me/is shy too. Switch to smaller room, office shared with some others, bare desks and I'm thinking this company doesn't have use for me. I should resign. And I start thinking how to phrase resignation letter.

I get up - Maeve stirs as I look in and go past. I see laptop windows build (make -k for continue on errors) has just had errors on two binaries. MR and something else. Not too bad. Pack it up in my bag. Collect my stuff. Unwrap motorbike. Then up to Maeve. She's sleepy but we get up and dressed fine. Down for breakfast then to creche on bike. Not too cold for winter, windy. In creche we find puppy who has spent Christmas in creche. Coat off. Nappies in basket. Maeve hangs coat. Gives me puppy to bring home. Back home I put bike in, motorbike won't start. arg. battery drains while I try to start it. I had hooked up charger to rubber wire day previously DOH! Get gear on. Roll bike down hill and start.

Keep revs high all way in. Late, about 10am and quiet traffic day anyway. Wind swirling. Leaves and newspaper swirling in a few places. On N11 near Donnybrook.

Quiet in work. Gerard, David & myself. Tons of stuff to do. Start builds and tests. Don't get into anything properly.

Head home 17:20. Thankfully motorbike starts. Still windy. At home Kate comes to "Hello" and I "Hi" Fionn on couch. I cycle and collect Maeve. Lots of lights on bike. Maeve is in baby room and excellent form. Jumps up and comes out. We get coat on, find elephant, she carries folder stuffed with her art on bike seat. At home every piece is taken out and we lay it out on couch and admire.

Daire's visiting Conor O'Boyle. Bernard drops him home. Kate had just had some tea - pizza. She has more and Maeve has some too. Assumpta drops in soup. Daire has some soup and so do I. And I have salmon + mushroom. Daire goes to call on Conor next door. Girls play a bit and have a tiff after a bit. Kate plays piano. Won't let me tin whistle. Maeve (as usual) "I don't want to go to bed" (like Little Tiger). She's in her huge puffed-up floaty fairy dress. Up we go after a little, pyjamas, Maeve goes back down to get her book (successfully in huge dress) and again (successfully again) to get puppy who I had put eating the dinosaurs food in their cave (cardboard box). Charlie and Lola snow story for Maeve and the REAL red-riding hood and wolf story for Kate. (teeth and toilet before). Night to mum. ABC song, Baa baa black sheep (with Maeve, Kate & Daire starring) and Airport up in Knock song. "Night night". "Check on you in 2 minutes". "See you in morning". I call in dropping in elephant in 2 mins and Maeve is conked.

Daire comes back and plays table tennis with Conor. I go shopping. Ballyogan Dunnes nearly closed 9pm so I turn around and goto Dunnes Cornelscourt. Shop shop shop 137 euros. At home I unpack all. Daire's playing wii.

Fionnuala is cold. I get her duvet, make hot water bottle, hot whiskies for both of us.

Daire bathes his foot and we do his veruuca/warts and cuts (new one on hand from dismount from adult monkey bars in Cabinteely park). Slick of skin off and dirt underneath (cleaned out day before tcp and savlon).

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

robot etymology

I saw on some website ( a question about the word "cyborg".
Perhaps more interesting is the origin of "robot".

Karel Čapek (1890-1938) popularised the word first, he was a Czech writer.
He credits his brother Josef as the inventor of "robot".

"The word first appeared in the play RUR published in 1920."
R.U.R. - Rossum's Universal Robots

"The word robot comes from the word robota meaning literally serf labor,
and, figuratively, "drudgery" or "hard work" in Czech and Slovak.
The origin of the word is the Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude"
("work" in contemporary Russian), which in turn comes from the Indo-European
root *orbh-. Robot is cognate with the German word Arbeiter (worker)."

Text of play RUR here. And of War with the Newts. WWTN I had bought years ago and didn't read
until ... well, a couple of years ago (when I was still in Doolin). I quite like retro-sci-fi.
Capek's newts and the robots are animal/human (or closer to animal anyway than are mechanical bots).
Interesting anyway.