29 Jan 2005

new powerbook battery!

as previously discussed, my powerbook battery has been nearing its death. various resuscitation techniques have failed miserably. i've been able to only reliably get around 40min to an hour of battery usage. at home it drops to around 20-40 min of battery time for some reason. maybe it has to do with my wireless setup.

M9572 Lm-1 but thanks to basil, i've now got a brand new powerbook battery! costing only £65 from HK compared to £89 from any UK apple store. btw, what is with the UK store calling it a 12" powerbook and the HK store calling it a 12.1" powerbook? i reliably got around 3 hours of juice last night with wireless (802.11g), bluetooth and screen turned on playing mp3s from itunes and being online! i'm still going to keep my old battery so i use it exclusively for when i plug my laptop in for the whole day. we'll see how long this battery lasts for me.

btw, if you want to dispose of an apple battery, you can bring it into any apple reseller/store.

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29 Jan 2005

page design updated - v8

i just updated the design of my website to match my photo album and other parts of my life scattered around the net. i'll complete the upgrade of all the other sites like my gentoo, code and xtemplate plus some interesting .htaccess/php wrappers to dynamically fill content using a common templating system. right now, v7 of the site uses basically some funky php functions to generate the same look and feel, but that is very hard to maintain, i like working with pure HTML much better.

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27 Jan 2005

back to normal phd hours

yep, i'm back, after 2 days of insane sleeping hours, i'm back to my usual rhythm of getting up late in the day!

there are three types of phd students ...

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25 Jan 2005

body clock officially broken

lately, it seems my perception of time has been severely affected. it is 7:20am and i'm in the lab already. i got up at 5:30am this morning, and did a little bit of hacking. and yesterday i managed to get up at 6:30am and get into the lab at around 8:00am. all of which is more the weird given that i usually get up at around 8 or 9 and get into the lab at around 10 or 11am.

some may call this healthy, but i call it screwed up.

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21 Jan 2005

gentoo project participation

i started getting involved with gentoo development sometime around january 2003, which corresponds to around the second term of being in cambridge. my motivation was that i had used gentoo for about a year and was extremely happy with it. it used to run on my desktop and even on my sony vaio pcg-n505ve 10.4" notebook.

i used to spend somewhere between 20-30 hours a week just maintaining packages and contributing to development, which actually meant all the other time i wasn't working, i would be tweaking with portage, playing with ebuilds etc.

eventually, i wrote 'etcat' to ease the way i could manage ebuilds and portage in general. it was written with the goal of being lightning fast and roughly accurate. in fact, it was designed on the principle that i am usually smarter than portage, and sometimes i don't mind putting in an extra 0.5 seconds of effort to decrease portage calculation time by 10 seconds (eg. specifiying the full package name rather than have portage search.)

but as my phd wore on, i got less and less time to work on it, mainly cumulating in a period where i didn't have a single gentoo machine anywhere to do development. so development switched to a chroot on a redhat box which proved to be incredibly interesting. i also dabbled into UML (user mode linux) and Gentoo/PPC, both of those didn't really work out well for me.

since then, gentoo has introduced the concept of herds, which basically imply a group of packages that can be roughly categorised into groups. for instance, there's a mobile herd, pda herd, dictionary herd, a gnome herd, a cjk (chinese-japanese-korean) herd, etc. i believe i am a member of around 6 herds at the moment, and by the end of this post, i would only be a member of 5 herds. apart from packages that are grouped by herds, i also maintain around 50+ packages that are herd-less.

nowadays, i think i spend around 4-5 hours per week on the project, which is not ideal especially given the amount of packages i directly, or indirectly maintain. so after around a week of consideration, i've decided to withdraw from maintaining for the gnome herd. the herd responsibility is so big, that i just haven't been able to keep up with bugzilla mail for that alias. it has more bugs reported/commented on than any of the 5 other herds plus my own bugs combined. not only that, but i have lost interest in the GNOME project in general, not that i don't like them, but most of the gentoo machines i maintain are actually servers. i only have one gentoo machine that actually has a display.

hopefully, by withdrawing from the gnome herd, i'll be able to focus on upping the quality of the other packages i maintain, and also slowly delegate some of the packages that i've lost interest in to other people, find good new maintainers for them.

at the end of the day, i'm still a member of the python, cjk, mobile(bluetooth), pda and dictionaries. so it's not like i'm abandoning gentoo development!

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20 Jan 2005

mahjong at home

frankie got us a mahjong set from hong kong! its kinda cute, and its around half the size of normal mahjong, but thats alright since our table isn't very big anyway. but its another addition to the many games that are accumulating at our place, like cambridge monopoly, twister, jenga, uno, etc.


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20 Jan 2005

drupal xtemplate bug

i've been messing around with drupal's xtemplate system to simplify and re-do the corpus mcr website (i've taken the site down for the moment). it turned out to be quite annoying because of a bug somewhere that leaves out the ".engine" bit in the interpreter field of the database causing the system to fall back on to just the default template.

i ended up having to have an MySQL console that did:

UPDATE system SET description = 'themes/engines/xtemplate/xtemplate.engine' WHERE name = 'corpusmcr';

every time i screwed up something major. but after getting all the block tags in place, it didn't exhibit the bug. maybe i'll try reproducing it with the CVS drupal to check if its been fixed or not.

i've got to say, the new version 4.5.2 is looking very polished and nice. works straight out of the box, even the drupal website looks very professional. i'm subscribed to their dev mailing list, and the traffic is very heavy on it. looks like alot of work is going into the system.

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18 Jan 2005

got a useless plasma screen?

i often get asked the question, "what do i do with this useless plasma screen i got christmas/birthday/valentine's day/easter/mother's day/father's day/secretary day/sysadmin day...?"


here's what you can do, turn it into a giant 60" lamp. designed by a top japanese design firm who also made lights out of balloons!

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16 Jan 2005

comment spam on this blog

i've just been going through my blog and deleting the recent spate of comment spam over christmas. for some reason, spammers thinks this is a g4mbl1ng website. although a few smart DELETE FROM statements later they were mostly gone.

i don't want to disable free-form commenting yet though, there are some neat comments that i get sometimes, most of them actually surprise me on who actually reads this random blog.

for instance, i talked about mr. clement some time ago after teresa told me about it, and apparently he found my blog (by looking at referrers?) and random overseas friends ;)

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13 Jan 2005

if the world was designed by apple

this video shown on BBC Three shows what would happen if everything was designed like an ipod. freaky!

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