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I suffer from jet lag ...

Ashtead One day per hour, more or less (163 comments)

Going West (from Europe to the US for example) I wake up really early the next morning, then one hour later each subsequent morning. Takes about a week for a 7-hour time difference.

Going east is different. First morning after I am up around 7 or 8, second day I can sleep until 1 PM if allowed to. Then it alternates the following days like that, for about a week for 7 hours as well.

Seems there is some kind of 25-hour cycle active on stretching the day, and a 48-hour cycle in action on compressing the day.

Shorter differences, 1 hour or 3 hour are similar, but the transition time is correspondingly shorter.

about a month ago

Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

Ashtead For mathematicians and scientists... ? (224 comments)

What advantage does this offer over traditional Julian Day numbering. where each day is sequentially numbered and their number is divisible by 7 on Mondays? As long as it is necessary to refer to civil or traditional time that can be easily converted.

about 4 months ago

GNU Hurd Gets Improvements: User-Space Driver Support and More

Ashtead Re:GNU HURD (163 comments)

From what I remember, NT 4 didn't support USB very well, if at all. Windows 2000 however, did work reasonably well with USB. So unless they had upgraded to Windows 2000 or XP, they would still be stuck with the PS/2 -connected devices.

Interestingly enough, the summary indicates that Hurd still doesn't support USB ... that does limit the selection of useful hardware.

about 6 months ago

Electric Cybersecurity Regulations Have a Serial Problem

Ashtead Re:pshaw! (40 comments)

Nevermind the sound of gunfire -- what about the sound of electrical failure (ever heard the loud SNAP of a squirrel got in the way of 11 kV?) and the quite likely subsequent electrical fire? That's going to be the difficult one to run away from...

about 6 months ago

Electric Cars: Drivers Love 'Em, So Why Are Sales Still Low?

Ashtead Re:Somewhat connected to that (810 comments)

Norway's large sales of electric cars is mostly driven by positive incentives: electric cars may use the lanes reserved for busses and taxis, they go free of charge on the toll roads, they are not taxed with VAT when sold, and the yearly vehicle tax is only on the order of 400 kr as opposed to the approximately 3000 kr for cars with gasoline or diesel engines.

about 8 months ago

My productivity peaks between...

Ashtead Re:24h clock (309 comments)

But that includes the expectation that the change from AM to PM is somewhere between 11.59 and 12.00 -- not between 12.00 and 12.01. Seeing how messy the rest of this system is, with 12.59 giving way to 01.00, while still remaining AM or PM, I would not want to make any a priori assumptions about which of these are right, and hence whether 12 AM is supposed to mean 12 noon or 12 midnight.

It's either use the 24-hour system or at least use expressions "12 noon" and "12 midnight".

about 10 months ago

Driver Trapped In Speeding Car At 125 Mph

Ashtead Re:No Key!? No E-Brake? NO SHIFTER!??? (1176 comments)

That car model, the Renault Laguna, is especially made to be modded for disabled people. I don't know what kind of disability the driver has (the article doesn't say, although he did have two epileptic seizures because of and during the hectic drive).

Epileptic seizures, and going 60 MPH (or 100 km/h as this is in Europe) or more. Twice. And still stayed on the road? Makes one wonder if there isn't any other modifications like lane-keeping there as well. Depending on the degree of epilepsy, but at that speed, say 30 m/s, one cannot be out cold for much more than a second before leaving the road.

about a year and a half ago

USMA: Going the Extra Kilometer For Metrication

Ashtead Re:Real problem (909 comments)

It's been tried. IEC-60906-1 is currently used in Brazil only. In Europe there are still several different plugs and sockets in each country, although some of these can be interconnected.

Then there's all the various micro-usb variations for low-power ...

about a year and a half ago

USMA: Going the Extra Kilometer For Metrication

Ashtead Re:What's the point? (909 comments)

Having once learned the so-called Imperial, US, system, here are some answers and translations:

The Ampere and Second are the same in SI and in the US systems of measurements, so the Coulomb would be as well. Sometimes the electron charge was more useful.

The force unit is pounds, abbreviated lb. The gravitational acceleration is 32 feet/second^2, and the mass unit is called the slug. Just like there is occasionally talk about the kgf (kilogram-force) in the metric system, there is also talk about the "pound-mass" in the US system, at the risk of confusion.

The electronic and electrical units were all SI- so the units were F/m and H/m (as well as Ohm*m for resistivity) -- no inches there. However, when specifying the sizes and shapes of microstriplines, inches were sometimes seen for lengths, widths, and thicknesses, in addition to millimeters calculated from the wavelengths of the RF signals. Wavelengths were calculated in millimeters using c=3*10^8 m/s, then converted to feet or inches as needed for antenna construction.

The US unit of work is foot-pound-force per second. (lb*ft/s) One of these would correspond to 1.3558 W. Horsepowers and BTU/s are other units that could be encountered.

about a year and a half ago

USMA: Going the Extra Kilometer For Metrication

Ashtead Re:What's the point? (909 comments)

Our Norwegian equivalent of the 2x4 is still called "to-tom-fire", which refers to wood with cross-section 48 mm by 96 mm after adjustment. I'd think it is similar elsewhere in Europe; that size of lumber is specified in millimeters.

Even though we've been using metric for more than a century, a few inch-measurements mostly in building materials remain, names for lumber sizes and pipe threads.

about a year and a half ago

USMA: Going the Extra Kilometer For Metrication

Ashtead Re:What's the point? (909 comments)

gallon, quart, pint, cup, ounce, tablespoon... all different names for what is really just volume -- why not stick with one of them and use multipliers for the larger and smaller sizes? There's also the advantage of the metric system that the cubic centimeter corresponds to 1 mL, so there is no real need for a separate volume unit (the Liter, originally the equivalent volume of a kilogram of water, being a cubic decimeter, is a secondary unit).

I'll agree however, that the inch can be somewhat convenient in metric and powers of 2: 1 inch is very close to 2^8 / 100 mm, which makes 5/8 inch very close to 16 mm. Provided the need for precision isn't too strict. Which also applies to binary representation of the decimal fractions, where the inaccuracy should be small enough so it doesn't matter for the job at hand. Most measured or calculated values won't have a nice exact representation in any numbering system anyways.

about a year and a half ago

The DARPA-Funded Power Strip That Will Hack Your Network

Ashtead Re:Made in China ? (176 comments)

Hopefully this strip is not made in China I'm crossing my fingers

According to the link from cryptome than an AC has provided further down here, the hardware is indeed mostly made in China. What makes this US made to the satisfaction of the government is that the software that makes this thing what it is, is made in the US, replacing all the original code.

This document goes on at length about how that can be. As an EE, not a lawyer, I found the information that the "brain" is a SheevaPlug to be more interesting.

about 2 years ago

The DARPA-Funded Power Strip That Will Hack Your Network

Ashtead Re:PDF from Cryptome (176 comments)

Some interesting info there. This thing is based on the SheevaPlug hardware co-located with a power strip, with customized re-programming. An expensive wolf in sheep's clothing.

about 2 years ago

Adopt the Cloud, Kill Your IT Career

Ashtead Re:So much for definitions... (241 comments)

Actually, the main difference between fog and clouds is a matter of location: If you're looking at it from the outside it is a cloud; if you are inside it is fog.

As a buzzword this seems very similar to the nebulous definition that .NET had about 10 years ago -- it was supposed to do everything but no-one could explain exactly what it was or how it was supposed to do it.

more than 2 years ago

What do you usually do with old hardware?

Ashtead Repurposing (309 comments)

Re-puposing sounds better than hoarding, though there are elements of that too. Machines and devices that still work are kept, even if they are obsolete. Things that don't work and there is no point in repairing them have power supplies, memory chips, sometimes power transistors, relays, or connectors, removed and the remainder goes in the recycling pile. Dead hard disks are taken apart and the motors, bearings, and platters are used for some other project. Even if this just stays a bunch of related parts in a box for a couple years...

I don't usually throw out things that work, or are sufficiently valuablet that I one day will get around to fixing them.

Of course, eventually all the old machines running various server jobs around the house and yard fail and have to be replaced, so there is a gradual attrition of the oldest machines, typically 486s or early Pentiums capable of running at least some Linux 2.2 or 2.4 variant. Old Slackware or Red Hat systems typically, are nice and light-weight. Of course, in these days of Picotux, Gumstix, and Raspberry Pi, these dinosaurs have only the fact that they aren't broke and thus need no fixing going for them.

And new old machinery always arrive when family members discard machines that still have some good life left in them, or there is something nice available at the junk-auctions of the radio-amateurs club.


more than 2 years ago

Dennis Ritchie, Creator of C Programming Language, Passed Away

Ashtead Re:And no patents (725 comments)

There is the setuid patent, however, that was applied for by AT&T in 1972. But it is described as a mechanism, since that was before software patents were invented.

more than 2 years ago

Company Unveils Personalized Anime Robot Girl

Ashtead Reality following fiction (240 comments)

Some weeks ago, the comic Questionable Content had a plotline involving a new and very humanoid "chassis" for one of the characters.

And now this news --- well to paraphrase Mark Twain: Reality does not replicate fiction, but it rhymes.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Could We Deal With the End of Time Zones?

Ashtead Re:Most people don't travel or do business so glob (990 comments)

Over here, we say "0.4" for the drink of that size (many places sell beer in 0.4 L glasses) or the traditional 0.5L, the "half-liter" literally. Then there's the "0.6" for the thirstier people... none of this gets to be any more complicated than the "pint" or "cup". The latter is for coffee only, and comes in various sizes, so it isn't really quantified.

more than 2 years ago

Why Does the US Cling To Imperial Measurements?

Ashtead Re:Carpentry (2288 comments)

A10, M10 one millimeter apart? I'd rather use existing colloquialisms like "two by four" (even if the material in question actually measures 48 mm by 98 mm). Like for pipe threads, the size has become more of a label identifying the standard size rather than the measurement of the size itself, what with 1/2 inch pipes being closer to an actual 3/4 inch or 20 mm... Besides, M10 is already used as a designation for 10 mm threads of various pitches: M10 x 1.5 is the regular coarse thread, M10 x 1.25 is finer, and M10 x 1 is another, even finer pitch commonly used with light sockets, faucets, and brake line connectors.

Which reminds me, the purported metrication of iron pipe and standard pipe threads is bad enough. We still talk about 1/2 inch, 3/8 inch and so on, sizes of pipe threads, even if the external diameters are larger than that (1/2 inch pipe thread is nearly 20 mm in diameter) but lately the catalogs are advertising these in the style of R20, R25, R32 -- the number after the R being some approximate value of millimeters from the original inches, R20 being 3/4 inch pipe threads for example, which are about 24 mm outside diameter. At least, copper pipes has been metric for years, with sizes from 8mm and up, and the size label is the same as the actual size.

I have seen a renovation job done in a 100 year old house, where some rotten joists had to be replaced. These were original "2 by 4" as in actually measuring 51 mm by 102 mm. The replacements were made from the next larger standard size material, and no need to depend on the stores having the old sizes.

more than 3 years ago

Embedded Linux 1-Second Cold Boot To QT

Ashtead Re:Pretty cool... (141 comments)

Kleinhenz, who are making the picotux, have had a server crash apparantly, according to

Not sure if one could get Qt going on the Picotux however, besides, the startup time there is about 90 seconds from poweron to the time the busybox banner and prompt appears on the serial console.

The equipment shown in the featured blog is identified as a Renesas MS7724 development board. It has quite a lot more peripherals.

more than 3 years ago



Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Ashtead writes "Finally ... the car is back from the shop. I put it in there the last week of September, and for more than 6 weeks they had it to fix the rust problems on warranty. It was worth the wait, as the results look really good. Finally, there is a star visible at the tip of the hood. I have to forget using the left foot again now, as the borrow-cars were manual and mine is automatic. Won't take long..."



My how time flies... last JE was nearly 5 years ago?

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  about 6 months ago

I'm still here though. But this "new-and-improved" thing, now, I haven't seen much of it yet, but the place is getting rather boring if all posts on all topics are just about how this "beta" thing sucks so bad -- like the worst thing since anyone can remember. Still, interesting to see the old posts about the terabucks and the Gjønnes station that now is a useful metro station again.


One reason why Linux on the desktop isn't quite here yet

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I've read several stories about the sudden shift from netbooks with Linux to netbooks with Windows XP. And there are arguments about price or accusations of shenanigans, and the observation of the user base being lazy.

This latter is close, but the lazyness isn't just on the part of users, but on certain newspapers' and banks' choices of interfacing software. And it might not be lazyness as such; resistance to change is more accurate. Having to change the way one is used to things being done seems to be harder the older one gets, and it is hardest for those who never knew more than one system ever, and knows that system well. I've seen this in several other situations at work. It is probably where the saying "If it ain't broke don't fix it" comes from as well.

I have had the opportunity of seeing the process of a long-time Windows user getting comfortable with Linux. Beyond the fact that we have a mouse and a GUI with symbols to click on, the innards are as we know, fairly different.

This is a different way of using Linux than I do, having known how to use and program UNIX systems long before there were any MS-Windows at all, and I don't have the same banks, and I don't care about the newspaper video offerings to the same extent.

There is also a third place where there has been some less than helpful messages; that had to do with playing DVDs. I'll get to that in time.

So, here it begins: Vista did work flaky, with occasional refusal to start-up or shut down properly, so the owner of the computer had spoken with several friends, many of whom had suggested trying Linux. I am one of these and there are several others, and all of us had some varying ideas as to which distro would be the best one.

First we tried Fedora 10, as one of the friends had recommended that, and I have used various varieties of that as well, so that was tried. Installing was easy enough; making the maching dual-boot with Vista as another option in the start-up menu was easy for someone like me who is skilled in the art. Even a secondary partition that held non-OS files, was available from the Linux system, and clicking on .DOC files caused them to be opened in Open Office Writer. Even plugging in the printer, which is attached with an USB cable, worked painlessly: a dialog opened up identifying the printer and asking if the defaults were OK. Subsequent attempts to print documents and webpages were all successful, and not very different from what one would do in Windows. After all, Firefox runs both places.

However, soon some desires for changing from the defaults came up, modifying the font sizes, moving the taskbar from the top to the bottom, and where was the control panel? So I showed how things could be grabbed and dragged around the screen, and that the control panel as such was replaced by some fairly easily discoverable dialogs under "preferences". This is a matter of relearning, but nothing really terribly difficult.

Then the bigger stumbling blocks appeared, in order of difficulty:

  • Watching Flash videos from the newspapers VG and Dagbladet.
  • Accessing MSN
  • Getting the bank's certificates to work
  • Playing DVDs
  • Watching the videos provided by Aftenposten

The first one was not so hard. Adobe's flash plug-in was downloaded and installed and we could now see the video offerings on VG and Dagbladet. The videos on the third major newspaper, Aftenposten would not work however, as these are not Flash but something else

Then for MSN, I've used Gaim before, and now this is called Pidgin, so it was pulled down through the "Add/Remove programs", installed, started, and run.

Next was the bank. This uses some kind of certificates, and the online information indicated that this might be windows only, unless one was lucky and got it working on Linux ... WTF? I'm using a different bank, which does not operate that way at all, and mine works fine on any OS that supports a graphical browser (Firefox, Opera, whatever) We've left this one for later.

The first big headache came with DVD playing. No player was available at the system update place, and the reasons given were, paraphrased, that we did not support patented and closed systems, so go complain to the providers. Or take a hike, we're sitting on our high horse and ain't moving off.

This might be the correct stand from a legal point of view, as the legality of non-closed decoders is questionable in some countries at least, and then there is the legal questions about the mixing of the legal closed-source decoders with GPL licensed components, which thus makes the publisher wash their hands of the whole mess. However, we sit here, and we want to see the movie on a DVD which we have purchased and thus have the right to watch...

Trying obtaining the VLC media player therefore, but that came as a .tar.bz2 file, and how do we install that? I know, unpack, configure, make, make install; but is this something we want to have everyone and their dog to be forced to do? First, there has to be a compiler in place. This is, surprisingly and somewhat alarmingly, no longer the default even on recent Linux systems. Then having got the compiler into place, and performing the necessary command-line-fu of tar -xvjf (try explaining this to someone coming in from the cold) then the ./configure generated a need for something called "mad". So go and google for that, and get another file, .tar.gz, this time, so unpack, now it is tar -xvzf (again, having to do a crash course in Operating System Concepts and having no good answer to the question of why there is several kinds of zipping files). But unpacked that and then ./configure, and now it needs several other varieties of codecs and suchlike, and this endeavour is given up.

Even persevering like this is way beyond what many other users would ever want to do, and it ends up looking like "linux is hard", ie. arcane.

A couple weeks later, on another suggestion, we try Ubuntu. There is a second computer available, and the disk is partitioned and this is made dual-boot as well, so now we have Ubuntu on one maching and Fedora on the other.

The first steps are much the same; the printer and open office works right out of the box. The menus ars slightly different, but no big deal. And now there are some "bad parts" available so we can even watch DVDs without too much hassle. This is better than Fedora who basically told us to sod off and complain to the distributers and not to them -- so who do we complain to about a DVD? The distributer? DVDCCA? Yeh right.

We only have Aftenposten left, it still needs the "Microsoft Media Server (MMS) Protocol Source" it says. Bang smack into the clutches of Bill and Steve...

In conclusion, a successful netbook or desktop OS must be able to work well with a number of external systems, and do so right out of the box. Windows on x86 does this, even if not perfect, it is at least good enough; Linux on x86 does parts of this (Flash, DVDs if you use the right distro) but fails utterly on some of the others. On Linux 64-bit which I have here, even Flash seems to be iffy; and chances are that a similar situation will occur on ARM-based netbook systems, whether Linux or Windows -- no Flash until Adobe gets it ported. And thus a lot of different sites' content won't be accessible when browsing.


This is a lot of money....

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Looking around in the news, there's this story about the US$ 683 trillion's worth of derivatives, that no-one's quite sure about who owns or who owes all this money. So the Fed steps in, and manages to do 300 billion here and 750 billion there, and thus there is now somewhere like US$ 682 trillion. Within a couple of significant figures anyways.

Take one down and pass it around, as it were.

Now, I'm already aware that there is financial troubles afoot, and I don't pretend to be the first or only one who's discovered another bit of scary-sounding news. The article referring to the money as "used toilet paper" does not exactly sound like praise either, it sounds more like they're all in the deep shite, is what it sounds like. Or perhaps it is on its way to a fan spinning merrily around somewhere ...

But 680-whatever trillions, how many zeros is that? Many, for sure, Uncle Scrooge of Disney-style numbers almost.

Except that he's a fiction, and these vast numbers are evidently appearing in Real Life. Arguably the actual money behind it is imaginary, but someone apparently has been pricing these derivatives, and here is the tag.

And it's real, US, dollars, and if you go and shop for the daily bread, you may have to pay 2 or so of them for it. It is not like the funny money such as zimbabwe dollars where you have inflation that makes you have to pay 2 million today and 3 million tomorrow, and 600 million next month. These things are like nano-bucks and shrinking, they are a different kind.

This is at a level way outta my, and possibly, everyone's league. Consider that the Fed put in 1050 giga-bucks and it just nudged the third digit. I know of no-one else who has any giga-bucks in numbers like that to throw around and even they made only a minor dent. First time I've seen giga-US bucks look like a pittance...

So how many zeros is this. Although prefixes like mega- and giga- are appropriate, they're just not big enough. We're approaching tera- and exa-buck scales here -- I can't remember having had to deal with such enormous numbers since calculating doping densities in semiconductors, back in college. And then we were talking about atoms and electrons within spaces of cubic centimeters -- obviously tiny things, so it would make sense that there would be many of them. One gets used to that. Dollars however, needed no such decimal notational tricks, there were never too many of them either debit or credit.

First, getting rid of these stupid "-illion" things, so that it is possible to see and speculate on the scale of it: 0.683*10^15, how does that sound? Then subtract the 10^12 which the Fed coughed up, and of course we're down to 0.682*10^15.

There's pi*10^7 seconds in a year. Spend a dollar a second, and this amount would have been counted after 2*10^7 years! Spend, or earn, a dollar per microsecond instead, or, spend or earn an entire megabuck per second, and you'll still have to keep it up at that rate for 20 years solid.

But spend it on what? Or if earning it, who'll be paying? Doesn't seem to be anyone else.... Is it the next stage in the progression that goes: If you owe the bank a million dollars it is your problem; if you owe the bank a billion dollars, it becomes the bank's problem; if you owe the bank a trillion dollars, it becomes the govenment's problem... but if you, or someone, anyone, owes 682 trillion dollars, is it then the world's problem?

It seems crazy and unreal. It is perhaps "funny money" after all. There's a bubble about to burst here it looks like... Then there will be a matter of figuring out what to do so that this kind of bubble is not allowed to be created again. Gold or silver standard, whatever.


Since the lameness filter wouldn't let me post it

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

On wanting to show some longer C program code, I got the "too many junk characters" -- well the characters are just the ones they should be, since it is OK for the compiler. The lameness filter sez otherwise.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
FILE *fpo;
char *exstring;
int escount;
int j;

escount = 10;
for(j = 1; j<argc; j++) escount += strlen(argv[j]) + 2;

exstring = malloc(escount);

strcpy(exstring, "(" );
for(j = 1; j<argc; j+=1)
strcat(exstring, argv[j]);
strcat(exstring, " " );
strcat(exstring, ")" );

fpo = fopen("kcal.c", "wt");

"#include <stdio.h>\n"
"#include <math.h>\n"
"int main() \n"
" double r;\n"
" r = %s;\n"
" printf(\"Result of %%s = %%G\\n\", \"%s\", r); \n"
exstring, exstring);


system("cc -o kcal kcal.c -lm");

But I can show this in the Journal at least.


Hardware notes, updates

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

So I've dusted off the 468 scope again, the one I bought for 40 kroner or so, some years ago and had another investigation of its malfunction. It looks like there is something wrong with the ROMs as it doesn't get very far from start-up to halt. (pins 29 and 33 on the 8085 going both LOW). I've managed to find some memory dumps of these on the Internet, so I'll try burning 2764s and connecting these, then see what happens next.

Then there is the other acquisition, the HP3330B synthesizer. This thing works fine, so I've had no need to open up the box. But there's this interesting "remote control" connector on the back, and I have been able to procure the complete manual for this unit. Turns out this "remote control" interface includes a listen-only variant of IEEE-488, minus the cable-interface, so I could either construct that (just putting in some buffer-circuits) or make another parallell-interface, maybe via I2C or similar to a Picotux, so that I can put the synthesizer directly onto a local network. The signals are all 5V TTL-level ones, so there is just a matter of sticking some 74LS05 open collector inverters between the device and two PCF8574s, making both sides happy about the electrical loading. That was the easy part, figuring out this.

The slightly harder part is to verify which way is up and down, and which letters and numbers are used, although looking at omitted connections and seeing the correspondning non-connected fingers on the card edge sticking out, makes this an easily solved puzzle. There is basically 2 by 18 positions, and in the manual one side is numbered and the other side is marked by letters.

Running the synthesizer in sweep mode should make it generate pulses on the sweep-address outputs, so it should be reasonably easy to figure out where these are, and by elimination, which pins are the IEEE-488 set where the thing can be controlled.

The less-than-easy part has proven to be obtaining a 4 mm pitch card-edge connector. All the current places I've seen have only fancy 1.27mm and suchlike tiny-pitch connectors available now; the old and large 4mm pitch seems to be unobtanium... Even 2.54 mm, the old familiar standard, is getting harder to locate. And I haven't seen any 2mm pitch ones either, at least that would be somewhat compatible with the 4mm pitch connector, just removing every other pin, or maybe it can be aligned so that two pins match each finger. I will have to finagle something here... perhaps take one of the 2.54mm pitch connectors that I do have lying around, then pull out every other pin and cutting it up into slices and mount these on a circuit board, so that the spacing becomes the requisite 4mm.

I do not want to solder anything onto the card-edge and damage it.


The good, the weird and the ugly

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Okay, what is up with the "home" page now? Looks like some unconnected CMOS input in the works, with what appears to be some random mixture of recently moderated comments, my own journal entries, comments that I have posted and other comments that I can't even remember having seen before...

Fortunately, the tabs there make sense at least, with Comments and Journals and Friends (which also includes Fans, Foes and the others) so not all is lost. It is not like I am threatening to leave as I've seen others here want to --

But the "home" page, that is a number of notches more curious than the "45 of 33 comments" seen on the front-page for the low-visibility stories, that I've never figured out.

And where has the journal logo selection gone to?


From metro railway to rollercoaster

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

This morning, it was discovered that the earth underneath the metro tracks at Gjønnes station had shifted upwards. Picture here. The vertical alinement here used to be level -- now one track has a vertical curve like a hilltop, and the other is twisted sideways inwards towards the platform. The overhead wiring hangs in tatters -- some neighbor had seen a flash and heard a bang sometime during the night when the 750 V DC supply had shorted out --

There is a large mound of deposited rocks from a new railway tunnel that is being built nearby, and the weight of this eventually pushed the clay in the ground here downwards and made it move upwards under the metro track and Gjønnes station. This whole area is old seabed, from back when glaciers and ice had held the landmasses down.


More hardware fun with the Western Digital Worldbooks

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I've had these Western Digital Worlbook units for a while now, and although I soon got the shell access to the Linux system on them, I didn't investigate them further until last week.

What I found is that there is an SMBUS/I2C function available on them, and that the kernel, right out of the box, contains the necessary drivers for this. The actual connection is to where an omitted RTC chip would have been. (The specific details is that U9 pin 5 is SDA, U9 pin 6 is SCL, U9 pin 4 is GND, and then get 3.3V from the serial-port connection, J4 pin 1) I hooked up a DS1621 temperature sensor chip there, and managed to talk to it via the /dev/i2c-0 device and the i2c-dev module.

I'll be making a nice hardware modification (no loose wires all over the place) and there is space for an additional circuit board inside the cae. Only issue now is what kind of connector to use for the external i2c connection, for which I need four wires: Serial Clock, Serial Data, Ground, and Power for the pull-up resistors.

This opens up many interesting possibilities, imagine some kind of self-contained data-logging arrangement, where the system pulls information from sensors on the I2C-bus and stores it on the disk. Then just have this sit on the network somewhere...

Of course the USB-connector can be used for something similar, perhape even higher-bandwidth -- but the sensor hardware would not be that simple!


Fiber in the house!

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Finally, they managed to get a working fiber in here. The first one they pulled was no good, so the fiber-installing people had to come an put in a new one.

Then it was a matter of minutes before "We get signal!"

First thing I had to try was to download the Fedora 8 DVD ISO, just to see how fast it would be. This took some 20-odd minutes for 2.4 GB. I'm wondering if I got the whole thing, as that ISO is exactly 0x7FFFFFFF bytes long, which I've seen as having been a file-size limit on some 32-bit systems.... (such as the Western Digital Worldbooks) Since it is a DVD I'd think it is rather unlikely that it will have exactly this size. And I've checked that the file system on the machine I'm downloading to can handle bigger files, which it does, so any limitation is elsewhere.

But the fiber goodness is there: 10 Mbits/s in and 3 Mbits/s out, and there is a public IP-address assigned through a transparent modem, so there is the ability to run servers. Which will be of the "show the temperature here" variety at first.

Now that I have two different Internet connections here, there is the matter of having to loop around outside just so as to be able to access the fairly noisy machine sitting behind my back apart from USB-stick-net (the modern descendant of the floppy-net concept from the 1980s and 1990s) but eventually I'll be moving everything over to the fiber.

In other news, I've been doing a lot of moderation recently, getting the points 10 at a time instead of 5, but I've also noticed that a lot of Anonymous Coward posts show up at -1 now, even if their contents actually are at the very least Interesting, and even positively Insightful, even when they're not Informative. Looks like there is some new settings in slashcode: I modded one of these as Interesting, and looking at it now, it started off at -1, then it is 50% interesting and 50% informative with an up-rating of +1 for a total of 0. No idea where that Informative came from though, though this post is deserving of that as well; had I seen it as Informative in meta-mod, that I would consider Fair.

I hope there is not too much mixing up here, I'd hate to mod something Insightful and have it come up 50% Insightful and 50% Troll, although I have seen comments where that might be an appropriate combination... Still, this would be no big deal, as long as the direction on moderations agree, Insightful/Informative/Interesting, and Troll/Flamebait at least, where the specific choice is somewhat open as per the "don't sweat the small stuff" of the FAQ.


Fiber, almost

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

The fiber goodness is almost here. The electrical contractor responsible for the last branch lines from the poles along the road to the wall came by today. We had an appointment for today at 11 AM.

But after about half an hour of walking up and down the road, looking at the poles and cables betwene then, it became apparent that the company rolling out the fiber trunks hadn't got around to do this part of the neigborhood yet.

So I'll have to wait a bit longer; as I'm supposed to go out travelling sometime during the next weeks, I'll have to remain patient for a little longer. The hook-up cost is fixed, so this timing error won't cost me anything; no bill until there actually is an operating service here. Which is nice.


Year 2380?

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Stupid abbreviations again: 2k38 for 2038 ? Why the k instead of the zero? From component values, the unit or power of 1000 is occasionally used to substitute the decimal point, thus 2k7 is 2700 and 2k38 therefore becomes 2380; which year is too far into the future to even start worrying about....

2k038 or more usefully spelt: 2038, is of course when the 32-bit integer number of seconds since January 1 1970 goes from positive to negative in the early hours of January 19 (at 03.14.08), and that may or may not be any problem by then. Easy enough to test. On this machine, the time_t is 64 bits, so it will be OK (of course, the hardware will probably have died sometime in the intervening 30 years, but that's nothing to do with this.)

The Picotuxes however, have sizeof(time_t) equal to 4, so they will not make it past 2038/01/19, I just discovered. Consider this:

# date 011903102038
Tue Jan 19 03:10:00 UTC 2038
# date
Tue Jan 19 03:10:06 UTC 2038
# date
Tue Jan 19 03:13:59 UTC 2038
# date
Tue Jan 19 03:14:06 UTC 2038
# date
Fri Dec 13 20:45:56 UTC 1901
# date
Fri Dec 13 20:46:02 UTC 1901

Friday the 13. oh well, just adds to the scariness. Just goes to show that using Julian Day numbers and 1/86400 fractions of them makes sense. These will remain good a lot longer than me or anyone reading this will be able to care about it personally.


vista filter nonsense

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 5 years ago

As I may or may not have mentioned, I have a friend and her daughter living here for a while, before they find another place to stay. Now, she bought a new portable PC this fall, an ACER and this runs Windows Vista.

One early problem was that the DVD-drive, which also handles CDs didn't work right out of the box. I googled this, and found the fix was removing some strings from the Registry.

Now she installed Nero 8, and the drive went MIA again -- presumably the same problem, and the same fix. Which I'll record here, so as to be able to find it again. Rant will follow. Kudos to someone, name of Ryan for this. The recipe is as follows:

Go into the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/CURRENTCONTROLSET/Control/Class/ then 4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318 and wipe out any string-values named Upperfilter and Lowerfilter as these may exist.

So I did this, and lo and behold, the disk drive came back into view. So far so good.

However, since I use Linux on most of the machines here, I haven't had any problems with the disk drives disappearing like this at all. Neither do I have to install anything like Nero for burning disks either, it just works right away.

How come windows-depemdent people even think this is supposed to be the normal way of the world, that things won't work until finer surgery is done on them? No car buyer would accept that, in order to open the trunk, you'd have to disconnect certain wires under the hood.

Whatever happened to fitness for purpose? Even if not having certified the system for use in situations where life or limb is in jeopardy, one does have a reasonable expectation of things at least appearing to work right! Never mind EULAs and legal weasel-wording, if it is broke on delivery that is bad P.R. My friend is on the verge of writing an angry letter to Bill Gates, and ask him what kind of rubbish his company is pushing.

What are these filter-things supposed to be for anyway? Since things actually work when they are removed? They worked fine until Nero put them back in, then I had to look up the Martian phone number for the fix again. The last part of that number looks like a MAC address, and I noticed it was the first of a series of entries, where only the first set of digits were different. So the GUID becomes something else to ponder, but what is going on in there. Unfortunately there is no source code, so I can't have a look....


What's up with the naming of ships?

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I see the paper has a headline "MS Explorer sank i natt" (which is the title in Norwegian, "MS explorer sank during the night" would be this title in English). MS Explorer is a cruise ship that ran into iceberge, but unlike the more famous Titanic, everyone on board had been rescued and are safe now that the ship has sunk.

But to me with my IT leanings, names like "Server" and "MS Explorer" have other connotations than ships. Servers, ships or otherwise, at least agree on crashing as a common failure mode, but the MS Explorer, well, "sinking" isn't the most likely failure mode there -- "Blue screen" (as opposed to the big blue sea (as opposed to C)) just appears a lot more plausible.

Thus leading to the initial question, what is up with the naming of the ships. Will we see some ship named Excel or maybe Fortran crash or sink or something, next?


Lookin' at some old stuff ...

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I've been getting the suggestion for meta-moderation again, and this time several of the posts were from June onwards. It is as if I wonder if all the hullabaloo about the 10th anniversary pushed the metamod-invitation out of the way, and not everyone keeps remembering to go look at every now and then...

This meta-modding activity has also brought another set of 5 mod-points to be spent on the worthy, so things seem to be in fine order.

Now, the thread of interest was some meta-discussion on "Interesting vs Insightfui" as a flamewar with a set of jokers posting mild flames and another set of jokers moderating them Insightful or Interesting... Since the whole topic is about flamewars, this isn't really offtopic, but it is strictly not Insightful, though whether it is Interesting is more a matter of opinion. Informative it certainly isn't either, as it brings no new knowledge on the table. Funny? Could be, like Interesting, it depends on the audience. But did this post really show insight? Not obviously, though as a statement of opinion it could well be it did. Time to go look at the context.

And this one made me laugh: Someone with the name ov lexical (842527) says: I can't wait for these posts/mod to show up for meta-moderation....

Guess what! It just did, after some 5 months.

I won't reveal whether I considered the metamod fair or not.


Pain in my foot.

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

What has been happening recently...

September 15 was the Ekeberg Market. There I bought a set of rubber gaskets for the doors and trunk of the old car, I managed to replace the one on the left front door so far, before the foot went sore: strange how it seemed just tired on the Saturday, but was hurting terribly on Sunday morning.

I had been walking too much or some such, and the shoes I had were quite worn, that might have contributed to the malady. I thought I'd try resting it for a couple days to see if it got better. In particular, trying to walk down stairs was not pleasant at all. So any trip down to the basement became a planned excursion, making sure I would not have to go back up for some tool or whatever.

Now since I work mostly with programming, the sore foot wasn't much in the way there, apart from the general painfulness that was not good for concentration. And then there were a couple of customers that wanted visits those days too, so I had to go out there. After having had to walk up and down the stairs at one of the on the Tuesday, I was not feeling very mobile on Wednesday. Sort of the "spoons" thing that Solemdragon used to talk about as a measure of exhaustion. This was the left foot, so I could still drive the E-car, fortunately. And I got a ride with a friend into Oslo when having to visit another customer there, then I could take a streetcar back towards home and save some walking that day.

As the foot still hurt after a week, it was time to see the doctor. Which appointment was after another 3 days. By then I'd gotten used to the pain in a way, it would be coming and going, and occasionally I'd feel something, a tendon or muscle shift around inside the foot, with a sense of tension and relief when it hit the detente. The doctor said this seemed to be inflamed tendons, and I should try to keep the load off, and take these "BREXIDOL" pills for a week. Now, these pills would be hard on the stomach, and another common side-effect would be a headache, so I thought, gee, now I'll be having a pain in the stomach and in the head in addition to the foot --

Fortunately, the headaches did not appear. The pills were large, hexagonal, with a slot right across them, looked like the heads of certain bolts more than anything else. So I got the week's worth of these, and they actually did help. I didn't even get more than slight nausea either, so they worked and the doctor was right.

Now, a month later, there is still some pain in the foot, but it is a lot better than it was. I don't have to plan my trips to the basement anymore either, and that is just as well, since I've been busy clearing stuff out of the rear rooms, since a friend and her daughter will be coming to stay here for a while, and I'll have to make room for them and their stuff.

Like the sin(x)/x function for a large negative x -- I sense the approach of a change, today I found a magazine addressed to this friend in the mail, one of the first concrete signs. Having been living in this big house by myself for years, there will be some re-adjustment when two others will come here to stay.


Modern Sculpture...

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Now what's up with this?. The article title is translated as "Soon she will be lying floating outside the Opera house" and it refers to some sculpture or work of art that has the title "She lies".

Now, this looks more like a dead ship than anything else, so presumably the "she" is a ship and not a woman -- I am reminded of the West Pier in Brighton, which has been derelict for years, and it collapsed partially a few years ago. Now Oslo gets to have what looks like its own collapsed pier, right from the start.

First the Peace Price goes to Al Gore and now this? I don't know what to say, but I think the government needs to change come the election in 2009.


Shiver me timbers!

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago /* For today: */

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

#include <stdarg.h> /* Arrg! */

typedef int Pirates;
typedef char Shiver;
#define give_us printf
#define Avast for
#define Arrh if
#define Prepare strtol
typedef void *the_plank;

Pirates /* of the C */  main( Pirates ARRGC, Shiver **ARRGV)
    Pirates thar_ye, scurvy_dog, Maties;
    Shiver *me_timbers;
    Pirates Yo_ho_ho, bottle_of_rum;

    Maties = 1;
    scurvy_dog = Maties-Maties;
    bottle_of_rum = Maties+Maties;

    Arrh(ARRGC >= bottle_of_rum)
        Yo_ho_ho = Prepare(ARRGV[Maties], (Shiver **) &me_timbers, scurvy_dog);

    Avast(thar_ye = scurvy_dog; thar_ye < ARRGC; thar_ye++)
        give_us("Avast %d %d yer booty = %s %d\n",
            thar_ye, scurvy_dog, ARRGV[thar_ye], Yo_ho_ho & bottle_of_rum);


Another year

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I can now say my age is the same as the telephone country code for Sweden... Just upgraded from Denmark's, and will be Norway's next year.

This is also a semi-prime, a composite number consisting of two distinct prime factors. This is not a very rare number, there are 30 of these below 100.

I got some books, so I'll be away reading...


07.08.09 - Summer is here

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Ah, finally, when there's two days left of the vacation, there is something looking like consistent summer outside.

I've used some of the previous days, in between rains, to cut down some trees in the yard, removing them with a borrowed trailer and scrape up the side of the car whilst backing with said trailer. Today I was supposed to back it into another driveway and then I hit and smashed the garbage box there (where the rubbish sacks are set up). Me backing up with that trailer seems to be an expensive activity... I had the repairs priced, it will be some 12000 kroner (US$ 2000 or so). Ugh. But it's gotta be done.

And tomorrow another friend is clearing out her place, as she and her daughter are moving to Bergen, so she's been busy packing her stuff. I've been helping her some, amongst other things, begging for banana crates from all the stores around here, fortunately bananas are in high season, but so are the crates -- a lot of other students are moving these days. Anyways, I'll be borrowing this big trailer for a final cleanup there tomorrow, so beware all mail-boxes, gate-posts, and dumpster sheds! Ashtead is at large with the big trailer again!

I've also got a set of new tires for the old Mercedes. We have its kind of weather here now, so I have been using it quite a lot. I still have another 2000 km to drive it this year -- it is insured for 5000 km per year, and it really ought to be driven most of these in order to stay in good repair, so that for example the brakes don't start rusting or seizing. After all the car gets to sit in the garage all winter. These tires probably will last another 8 or 10 years as things are.

As for electronic stuff, I've got another ten Picotux devices, and now I'm thinking of using them for putting various things on the network here. These are interesting units, I keep thinking up more and more kinds of hook-ups; the only drawback becomes that the little Picotux ends up in the corner of a big board full of chips, which kinda negates the size advantage... though it still beats having to keep some old PC hardware (Pentium 100 vintage) alive.

I also got me a new air compressor, so I have all the pressurized air I ever need. This is a big heavy unit, with 150 liters tank and a 5.5HP 3-phase motor. I found out, that on delivery, the compressor motor was connected for 400V, Wye configuration, so I had to change that to the Delta, to match the 230V that I have here. It is common to have 3-phase power in residential areas here, most older areas have 230V, but the newer ones are 400V. We use a lot of power to keep warm during the cold winters....

Which are months away. Right now it is 28 degrees C outside, that is nice and warm -- I think I'll go for a swim in one of the nearby lakes.


Ghost Trains under Oslo

Ashtead Ashtead writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Even at the top of summer (the sun will be at its theoretical top point in a couple hours from now), there are talks about "ghost trains" showing up on the tracks in the Oslo Tunnel.

The phenomenon is that the track circuits that are supposed to detect trains present, get confused by electrical noise and fail as designed, that is, they indicate that there is a train present.

I guess the easiest way to fix this would be to add camera surveillance of the tunnel, so if some suspected ghost train were indicated, the controllers could have a closer look to see what was going on.

In related news, King Harald's model train set is on display.

The cucumbers are big and early this year....

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