23 December 2007

The mysterious tiny hole in Nokia 770

I did something very dumb today. Actually I started acting dumb yesterday. I installed the newest 2007HE OS and screwed a library by installing a newer version (3.3.8 instead of 3.3.5) but for 2006 OS. This screwed the media player. So this morning I was angry that I couldn't even listen to music, and I really don't know what got into me, but I pressed the bower button while it was deleting a file! I really should know how dangerous and forbidden it is... But well... So the tablet hung while shutting down for the entire day.
Well, what a great opportunity to learn more!
The Tablet has a tiny hole on the bottom. Many devices of the kind have one and it's a reset hole. This time, I deiced not to rely on my intelligence and google first. Half of the sources stated it was a reset hole indeed, and half that it was the microphone! I finally choose to believe this one:

Trust me it's not a hardware reset, I learned that the hard way.
...it's a mic.

I learned enough the hard way these days, so I played it safe. After removing the battery the device booted well.
Who designs a microphone that looks like a reset button and says "pluck me!" anyway?

22 December 2007

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming! And I noticed just now! Why? Pobably because I don't watch TV, don't go out much, and these weeks, if I ever went out, it was to school, and I didn't get to see many christmas lights on my way.
I started my gift shopping last wednesday. It was quite a challenge: a boyfriend and three brothers, two of wich I hadn't brought birthday presents during the last two months! However, I am lucky only to have one lecture on wednesdays, so I went shopping at 10 a.m., when the shops aren't crowded yet (and you gotta know it's tough this year, every shop lacks employees, after so many people emigrated to the United Kindgom), and brought almost everything I needed. Well, it was sweets in most cases, but I just couldn't really go for personalized gifts when this operating systems lab got me tortured untill the last minute (it was due on 9:30 a.m. and i stayed up untill 7 and typed!).
My shopping went on the next day, as my friend needed to hit the mall. This shopping session was more selfish, and I left the mall with the new Amy MacDonald album, coloured tights and two new ribbons for myself, as well as lots of medecines for my family, who is generously sharing all the viruses avaliable out there.
Anyway, I got my gifts, it's wrapping time. LifeHacker (again!) lead me to a site with great wrapping ideas: WrapArt.
One of my favourite ideas from the site are drawn ribons:
Why don't real-life bows ever look that impressive?
Next, marker strokes: so easy and simple, yet really elegant:

And last, collages. The site features lots of collages and most of them don't look impressive, but these do:

Isn't it a great way to use wrapping paper leftovers?
Okay, gotta go and wrap my own presents now.

Back to basics: read books people!

I love good motivational stuff. It's amazing how a simple string can make your life better sometimes. So I'm gonna post some good stuff here, I hope the blog doesn't get like a copy-cat of LifeHacker.org.

So, motivational article of the day: The 26 Major Advantages to Reading More Books and Why 3 in 4 People Are Being Shut Out of Success by Brad Isaac.

It's a shame to admit, but I almost don't read any books. I read a lot of magazines and professional blogs, though. I guess I didn't realize what I was missing until I read the article above. It lists vocabulary, discipline and concentration improvement, self-esteem raise, skill building, creativity improvement (wow!), money saving and many more advantages - who on Earth, when offered all those things for free or almost, would refuse??? Well, looks like many people do, starting with me.

Well, the books about hacking I borrowed from my boyfriend last week (after the meeting with the ABW, I realized that my security knowledge was way too theoretical and decided to do something with it) have drastically increased their chances of being opened during the Christmas break, and the poetry books I asked for for my birthday should be reopened soon!

By the way, LifeHacker just posted about an Amazon Discount Finder. I'll check it out and go improve my vocabulary, discipline, concentration, creativity, skills and everything.

20 December 2007

Major news: the new IE

A little quote from http://channel9.msdn.com/showpost.aspx?postid=367207:

The IE team has been very hard at work on IE 8 for the past several months and they hit a huge milestone last Friday evening. The IE dev team checked in a bunch of code that included several new features implemented in the core rendering engine that enable IE to pass the ACID 2 test! This is great news for web developers: IE 8 is going to be our most standards compliant browser to date.
Wow. Better late than never. However, I still am waiting for the days when us web develeopers won't have to work with N browsers open at once and do CSS hacks for IE6. It's not even that much fun, when you think you've got way more work to do just because someone screwed his part.

18 December 2007

Ribbons in webdesign

I suffer of an unexplainable ribbon obsession. See the pic on the side: what's in my hair?
(Well, to be honest, I haven't worn ribbons in my hair for quite a while, as I don't really care what I look like while coding, and last week was all about coding... but I love ribbons, the more colorful the better. )

So naturally, I incorporated ribbons into the design of my personal website. Today, I ran across another website with ribbons in the design: www.splittheatom.co.uk (it was featured on SmashingMagazine, which the geek used to read on a regular basis). I really like how colorful ribbons have been used for the navigation and frankly, I am a bit surprised that I don't see ribbons on websites more often (contrary to pieces of paper). Well, there's an area to explore. If
you're interested, here's a nice tutorial about creating ribbons in a graphic editor.

13 December 2007

How is my module going

Like a handicapped snail nailed to a wall.
Hmm, 'snail' and 'nail' rhyme in English... Sounds like song material to me!

11 December 2007

Busy geek.

Not much to read for you guys this week, sorry. I'm working hard on my kernel module, at the moment I'm reading chapter 3 from this book and adjusting the code to my needs.
Besides that, I wrote a song, which I hadn't done for a few months, and it went smoothly. (Well, I was supposed to be writing documentation for the team project... but I did both in the end.) How good can a song called "Every day is headache day" be? Well, it's not the most brilliant song ever, still I am happy with it.

09 December 2007

Givin'up on UML

The last week was a nightmare. Well, no one ever said it was gonna be easy. On the contrary, the operating systems lab is a legend. Anyway...
I spent quite a few days setting-up User Mode Linux. Compiled it, ran it, made and even better filesystem with a fresh and Ubuntu-suited script. The network didn't work. I spent a day trying to set it up. Nothing. I said "okay, I can live without mc, althrough I really like the built-in text editor as I don't have much experience with Vim or Emachs". Fine. Then make didn't work. One more day setting up the network, as successful as the previous one. I said "okay, I can live without make, I can compile on Linux1 (my machine on VmWare) then copy it onto Linux4" (the third attepmt to UML - don't ask wether I count from 0 or from 1). Fine. Modules didn't work.
This was time for a good lets'-burst-into-tears crisis. One week to deadline and I don't know how much trouble is UML gonna cause. So my boyfriend and I decided to give it up - I would mess with Linux1's kernel. He gave me access to the VmWare console so I could take snapshots and clean my mess.
Fine. Donwloaded a vanilla kernel. Compiled it (you gotta edit the Makefile a bit to compile 2.6.17-13 under Ubuntu, easy to find). Edited Grub and tried to run it. Once. Once again. And again. And again. And again.
And let's burts into tears again.
My boyfriend changes the hard drive on VmWare from SCSI to IDE. I reinstalled Ubuntu. He came over. Half an hour and it worked!
Man, when I think we could have just started off that way... One week to deadline and I haven't started writing the module. I just wasted an entire week.
Okay, gotta be strong now and type as hard as I can.

How geeks behave

My father was recently at a conference when one of the scientists, a great speaker, said he always began his lectures with a joke. So I'm gonna start this post with a geek joke. It doesn't translate really well into English, but you should get my point.

Some geeks are having a party and are only talking about computers. Finally one of them says:
"Guys, let's talk about something else for a bit.
-Like what?
-I don't know... bitches!"
A minute of akward silence. Then a geek finally speaks out:
"You know, my graphic card is a bitch!"
So the other day, I was at school, talking about you-know-what. Some guys were talking about how hard it is to pick up the girls at the dorm when every conversation ends the way it does (see above). So I joined their conversation and reminded them the joke. (You don't tell geeks geek jokes, cause they know them already, you just remind them.) And then I said:
"But you know what? Mine really is! Finding the drivers took me sooo long..."
Everyone laughed and I walked away. I went to have lunch with two girlfriends of mine. Another of our girls was there with her boyfriend, talking about virtualisation. This was pointed out: "My, having lunch with her boyfriend and talking about vitualisation...". Ten minutes later, we were talking about virtualisation ourselves.

04 December 2007

Meeting with the ABW (NSA equivalent)

I just came back from a meeting with the ABW (Internal Security Agency). I'm enchated and excited as every little kid when he discovers his vocation at the early age of eight and says "I wanna be a agent!" (as well as fireman, policeman, austronaut,... I was gonna be a teacher and a writer, never an agent.). I'm seriously considering applying there. But not today.
The pros: the meeting was with people specializing in cryptology, internet security,... And what do they do? EVERYTHING! Cryptography, cryptoanalysis, testing network protocoles,... just make a wish and do it! The have access to all the newest software! And Arabic teachers! I think ths is a place where I could do exactly what I want and I would be able to change it easily as I change my mind. I'm afraid that companies can't provide so many possibilities.
The con: the giant responsability. I wouldn't exactly want to have the weight of the world on my back, and that's what this kinda work is about. I'm scared!
Scared... But that reminds me of one thing: the only good definition of "courage" I ever heard was in a Disney movie (Princess Diaries). I was: "courage is not the lack of fear, but the conviction that something else is more important than fear". Well, isn't the country's security more important than my fear?
This reminds me of another thing: the movie "Thirteen days", when the guys wish there were some great smart guys that would come and solve the issue... but there are no such guys! Or more precisely, they are those guys! All they can do is do their best. So maybe I am one of the guys? With a solid crypto knowledge and being only able to do my best?
That's how I see working at the ABW: as a vocation. You can't do that for the money (they won't hire you). You can't do that for your own satisfaction (allthrough you get it). You can only do it for the country and doing it means assuming a huge responsability, not going "yahoo! I got a great job!".
Now a more pragmatic point of view. It's a work full time, wich means I won't be able to do it for the next 2,5 years (still in school!). So there's no point in applying now. However, it's something that I am really going to consider in two years. I need time to find that vocation in me (or its lack!) and to consider everything. Meanwhile, it's school, hopefully Google Summer of Code this summer, a part-time job next year, and we'll see the rest in its time.

03 December 2007

User Mode Linux

I just got it working. Took me longer than it should, but the important thing is, it works.
So, if you wanna avoid my mistakes, here's what to do:

  1. Before compiling the kernel, konfigure it properly, as outlined on http://cosi.clarkson.edu/docs/kernel/setup/uml/uml.html
  2. If you encounter compiling problems, believe there's a way and google for it (see my previous post for 2.6.17-related issues).
  3. Don't waste time on creating and configuring your own filesystem on Ubuntu 7.10, because the one for 7.04 works.
I'm really gaining a lot of experience here.

01 December 2007

User Mode Linux with kernel

I DID IT!!! I compiled the kernel for UML (make ARCH=um), on Ubuntu 7.10 Server (I think), vanilla style (no patches). "make ARCH=um" is not as simple as it seems, I had some errors, but finally managed to compile it (I didn't say "run it"). Here's what went bad:

arch/um/sys-i386/user-offsets.c:19: warning: implicit declaration of function offsetof
arch/um/sys-i386/user-offsets.c error: expected expression before struct

I don't remember the second mistake, but such a simple thing helped:
In arch/um/sys-i386/user-offsets.c, change #include <linux/stddef.h> to #include <stddef.h>
It was said on:

arch/um/include/kern_util.h:9:27: error: linux/threads.h: No such file or directory

arch/um/os-Linux/aio.c:83: error: unknown field aio_reserved3 specified in initializer

arch/um/os-Linux/process.c:275: error: expected =, ,, ;, asm or __attribute__ before { token
arch/um/os-Linux/process.c:144: error: parameter name omitted
arch/um/os-Linux/process.c:285: error: expected { at end of input
or (not tested, but they say it also works)

arch/um/os-Linux/sys-i386/registers.c:139: error: JB_BP undeclared (first use in this function)
Apply this patch: http://user-mode-linux.sourceforge.net/.../2.6.17/patches/jmpbuf

You know you do it too much when...

I was going to bed yesterday. My other cat, Linux, was lying on the bed. And I said to myself:

"This is Linux in guest mode and I am the host."

Adventures in kernel hacking

My operating systems class is a real pain in the brain. I spent the entire day yesterday trynig to compile anything. My dream goal was to add the "Hello, World'" module to the Linux kernel. It's still a pretty remote goal.
I had already spent a few days tryinhg to compile the kernel on Ubuntu 7.10 on my VmWare. First, there was a bug. Fixed it. Then it couldn't finish because the drive was full (and i started off with 5 gigs free!). Gave up.
Moved on to a VmWare on my boyfriend's server. Debian. Compiled kernel. Didn't boot (probably cause I screwed the disk drivers). BF fixed but told me to get UML because of all the screwing opportunities. won't compile with "ARCH=um".
Went to bed at 23h.
I started this day a lot nicer. An episode of "Project Runway". Talking to my parents. Tea, tea, tea, and more tea (my throat is always dry). Yoga and abs training. Then I did what women do best: spent half an hour in the bathroom using a dozen of different products.
Now it's time for one more cup of tea (or maybe coffee? no one sane compiles the linux kernel without coffee!) and googling about that UML.

29 November 2007

Nerdore hip-hop: MC Plus +

So... as a songwriter, I just have to have an opinion about any sound I hear. Today, I'll blog about an artist who really caught my attention as soon as I heard of him: MC Plus +.
Picture credit: official site.
I don't really remember how it began. But soon, his entire first album (Algorythms) was on my playlist. I was like: "Whoah! geek stuff!" and a bit of "It was my idea!". Anyway, I really like this album for its originality. I'm still full of admiration the line:
Like a progress bar that's gone too far...
There's a track about my life-passion, cryptology. There's a track about Tomek The One And Only. Anyway, a great album. Go get it.
So, I decided to do a bit of search in the nerdore hip-hop (or geeksta rap) genre. The only interesting thing I found was the nick "DJ Ikstra". Besides that, well, lots of swearing a nothing I'd remember as interesting.
Then, MC Plus+'s second album came out. And let me say, what a disappointement! Taking a sample of classical music and adding a beat to it sounds good, but not on half one's album! "Sluts" from MySpace are no computer science! The dude can do much better...
Anyway, if you're looking for some nerdy music, MC Plus +'s site is the place to go.

Getting organized with my Nokia 770

My concentration and memory have caused me a few troubles lately. And my time planning... I almost never am satisfied with it.m So I decided to use my Nokia and get a bit more organized. Here's what I installed:
GPE Calendar + Ermining to synchronize it with Google Calendar, which I extensively use.
GPE to-do list. Cool for tasks lists, with both categories and priorities. BUT: I have plenty of ideas that are not exactly tasks and putting them on a to-do list is no good idea, because it becomes very messy, and I keep on adding and removing the same tasks over and over as I postpone realising them. That's when MaemoPad Plus becomes handy: it works on SQLite and lets you build a tree, with nodes that can be sketches, text or lists. I use that for a kind of mind-mapping. (There is no real mind-mapping software for the ITs.) That's where things that are more ideas than tasks go, like making a headband with the fabric I used for my latest dress (when the sewing machine will be fixed) or that website with a Scottish pattern as a background (when I have time for that....).
Last but not least, Gnumeric Spreadsheets. Amazing tool! I don't use it to its fullests, it has a nice bit of arithmetics implemented (and add-ons, which I haven't even installed). I just use it to keep track of health-related stuff, like my physical activities (how many times have you been told to write them down to motivate you?)

New OS2007 HE for the Nokia 770 with Mozilla engine and memory corruption bugfix.

Originally posted: 14 Nov 2007
All the bad things that made me go back to 2006 seem to have been fixed!
The question now is "what do I do?" Only a few days ago I spent a bunch of precious time installing new software to get organized and I wouldn't want to see all that flushed away. I was just going to blog about it when I saw the news). So I guess it's time to learn about dualboot.
Wait a minute, "time"? School has been demanding so much of it recently. Today is a case study, tomorrow a paper in semantics is due, friday, I think I'm not going there cause I have a presentation next week (about debugging the Linux kernel, no room for improvisation here), a business use-case to write over the week-end... And I asked for all of that and I love my life! (Seriously, I do!)

Switching operating systems (back) on my Nokia 770

Originally posted: 3 Oct 2007
So, I was saying the other day how I changed the operating system of my Nokia 770 from 2006 to 2007 Hacker Edition. It was cool, lots of soft, an arabic font so I could easily view arabic pages (not write in arabic, but still). BUT but but. It crashed a lot. At first, I didn't really worry, cause I was installing lots of soft and reboots were needed. However, when it crashed while I was just looking for a network, I started doubting wether it was worth it. And when I noticed that the text editor wasn't working, I said "enough" and I'm back on 2006 right now.
Switching back to 2006 was easy, jut reflash it with the right OS. You can restore your backup information from 2007, except for settings (it made the browser crash, so I imported only the settings from an older 2006 backup I had which I am sure you have if you started flashing your Nokia).
Now, some issues are to be solved. Choose a mail client. Figure out a way to play videos, particulary from Youtube. View arabic characters. Keep a calendar. I don't remeber what else. I promise I'll blog about it when I make some progress.

What [not] to watch: The IT Crowd

I've never really written any reviews, but I recently started feeling the urge of expressing my opinions some place better than between hundreds of other people's comments. So I'm gonna do what I do when I wanna do something: I do it. I'm not really good at reviewing yet, but one gotta start somewhere.
So, I'm gonna start with the geekiest show ever: The IT Crowd, a Channel 4 series about two IT support guys, Moss and Roy and their new Manager, Jen, who doesn't know much about computers (but said on her CV that she had a lot of experience with them).
Left to right: Jen, Moss and Roy (Picture credit: official site).
The show is both geek and good. Geek, because it has a lot of geek humor, like Roy's T-shirts ("RTFM", "I see dumb people", "42",...) or Moss' geek behaviour ("Don't google the question, Moss!"). Good, because it has a lot of British humor (wich I love) and can be unpredictable (what is it with american sitcoms that you can tell the ending after having only watched the first half?).
Two episodes, however, have really disappointed me: "The Haunting Of Bill Crouse" and "The Work Outing". They both have this plot when one of the characters lies, then lies again (not to contradict the first lie), and again, and keeps on falling deeper and deeper. I have seen that kind of plot way too many times (which means more than once, but I'm talking a dozen here) and it's stupid and boring and unforgivable. At least, there still was a bit of geek humor not to consider the episode a total waste of time.
Anyway, the show is really worth watching, and I can't wait for the third season and the remakes (an american one and a german one have been announced - the second will be an awesome opportunity to pick up some german tech talk ).

28 November 2007

The banner

As you see, my blog has a beautiful banner with lots of stuff on it. It's time to give credit to the authors of the graphics I used. So, left to right:

  • the bow is by me, you can also see it on my website
  • the diamond is from here, it's by Ryan Thompson
  • the Nokia 700 is from here, it's by florisla
  • the little black dress is from here, it's by Missie
  • the lady shoe is from here, it's by Almighty1
  • the music notes are from here, they're by Dominique Michel
  • the books are from here, they're by Doodledoo
  • the "Arabic" banner is from here, it's by AnonMoos
  • the lipstick is from here, it's by Jorge Barrios
  • the "e to the i pi" formula is from here, it's by Dermeister
  • Tux is from here, it's by Jan Vansteenkiste
The banner relates to my interests, hoobies, taste,... not perfectly, because I don't read much (the books are math textbooks, okay?), I doubt the musical notes clearly express songwriting, and the diamond is just nice.

27 November 2007

My new baby

Originally posted: 15 Sep 2007

I got a new baby: a Nokia 770. It's really great and unique: it costs around 100$ and has it's own operating system, IT OS, a a modified version of Debian GNU/Linux. The average user will just click on the colorful icons, the advanced one can modify the operating system!

So, since I have a blog, I'll just post here all the wondreful things I did with my baby. Hey, I gotta find a name for it!

So... I changed the operating system for a start. Because "2007 Hacker Edition" sounds sooo cool. I did it the simpliest possible way:
1. Got the os from http://tablets-dev.nokia.com/
2. Flashed the Nokia with it usung the windows wizard from http://europe.nokia.com/A4144790

If someone prefers the good old Linux command line instead of the wizard, there are plenty of cool thing to do described on http://maemo.org/community/wiki/flasher_tool_usage.html.

Picture credit: florisla.

Adventures on eBay

I decided recently to stop attending my correcting codes class and get the book and study at home instead. Easier said than done: the school library lest you borrow the book just for the day, only to copy it (don't excpect me to come to school once a week and study here like a nice little girl, I can't concentrate at school outside of class). You can't buy it in Poland. You can buy it on Amazon for only 140$ + shipping. (Err, yeah, I'm talking about "Error control coding" by Lin & Costello.)
Luckily, I found it for 55$ on eBay (+28$ shipping, but that's still a lot cheaper). Immediate PayPal payement was required, but I hve a PayPal account, so there was no problem. At least I throught so.
The shipping price to Polande wasn't given on the listing page, but I emailed the seller, he said 28$, cool. Clicking "buy it now" lead to a mistake: it couldn't calculate shipping costs for my location and wouldn't let me fill them in by myself (bravo eBay!), so it wouldn't just let me buy the book.
Another mail to the seller, and he sent me a PayPal bill (!!!) instead of modifying his listing. Guys, NEVER fall for that: that's a transaction outside of eBay (because the book would never appear in my eBay as bought by me). Not only these are forbidden, but they are really unsafe. Once you send the money, what's gonna make the seller send you the item? What if he doesn't? What if it "significantly not as described"? Maybe PayPals buyer protection program could help you, but on eBay, nothing could be done. Not even a negative comment. (And if you brought another item just to give him his neg, it would most certainly turn against you.)
So, another mail to the seller, he cancels his bill but I still can't buy the book. Luckily, I found another one on eBay for a comparable price. If I can't even communicate with the seller about a technical detail, things can get very ugly. Not worth the risk.

25 November 2007

Meet my cat

Meet my cat: her name is Fifa, she must be 8 years old.

Isn't she beautiful? She most certainly is, but she's also bored to tears. And that's what happens when a cat is bored:

But you haven't seen the worst yet. Here's a picture of cakes Mom made today:

As you can see, a part is missing. No one in the family confessed having tasted the cake this way, and since Fifa has been caught quite a few times on the kitchen counter recently, who could have done this?

So here it is

My new blog!
It doesn't look exactly as I would wish, but I hope it soon will. The banner already tells a lot about me!
I came here because the TagWorld blog I had been using wasn't great. I think I'll just copy the most interesting posts I wrote back there, so don't be surprised if you see a dozen of them appearing overnight.
See you soon.