• Software Engineering Project started

    It has been a while since I wrote something here…

    The new trimester started last week on Monday (28 November). Together with the trimester also the Software Engineering Project (SEP) started, which is a two-trimester project teaching the process of managing and executing a larger software project.

    We got a three hour lecture in which every project could present themselves in order to let us give our preference. Our group of eight students chose a project for Océ as our first choice. Since it is tradition for SEP that you don’t get the first choice, that was not really our first choice. We’d rather program Sony Aibo robots or create a user interface for a scientific grid computing application.

    A few days later we received our assignment, we were appointed for the grid computing user interface. However, since we apparantly were the only group to have that assignment in our top 3, it was considered by senior management that the presentation gave a wrong idea of the assignment (very strange). We would receive a new assignment, which one was unclear until this Monday.

    So, Monday we received our actual assignment for the next half year. We’re going to create a model railroad control and surveillance system. For what I’ve read so far, it seems like an interesting challenge.

    Now, the time of sitting back and relaxing is getting at an end, since SEP is notorious to be taking up every last bit of spare time… I hope everything goes well and we’re going to have good cooperation within the group and with our project manager, our customer and especially senior management (they’ll be grading us June 2005).

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  • Rendezvous is hip!

    I have a laptop functioning as my mail and printer server. Of course it would be cool to be able to print directly from OS X instead of making a PostScript and then scp’ing it to the laptop.

    Well, Apple has been busy supporting a very functional print system known as CUPS (Common Unix Printing System). Linux (and other Unix) users have been converting their systems from the old lpr-style daemons to this new system and printers are supporting IPP (Internet Printing Protocol). No reason for Apple to not convert their apparantly broken printing system of OS X 10.1 (I don’t know, but I’ve read a lot of bad things about it) to the modern CUPS.

    So, with CUPS in place, I can easily print on my laptop… Or so I thought… Of course, I can go and edit the /etc/cups/printers.conf file myself, but that would be no fun. No, it should work the Mac-way: Everything automatically configured with a single click.

    The answer to this is Rendezvous (or OpenTalk nowadays). Rendezvous is Apple’s implementation of the DNS-SD (DNS Service Discovery) protocol, used for announcing services on remote machines to your machine. It works only on the local network, since it uses a multicast link local address (IPv4) which cannot go through routers.

    I installed Apple’s mDNSResponder from their Rendezvous Developer Web Site and configured it so that my printer would be announced.

    Printer HP LaserJet 4M
    txtvers=1_Arp=printers/LaserJet-4M_Aproduct=(LaserJet 4)^Apdl=application/postscript

    Now I start the responder, start an application I’d like to print from, select Print…, select Printer HP LaserJet 4M from the list, it is added automatically and I can press the Print button!

    Too bad this whole configuring has taken me a few days to figure out what software to use, what exactly should go where and then adding the printer is so fast… Since now my only other computer is already configured, the responder is a bit useless (not completely, it is also used to keep the printer in the list) so I am exploring new possibilities of Rendezvous like announcing a WebDAV server or a remote iTunes Library.

    Oh, and apparantly there is a bug in Howl mDNSResponder by Scott Herscher, which announces an incorrect DNS TXT record. I’ll have to mail him about that. I mailed to the rendezvous-dev list of Apple and Marc Krochmail of Apple was very helpful in detecting my problem.

    Update: In the meantime, a much better implementation of mDNS has emerged, called Avahi.

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  • Its first Linux boot

    Today I tried the experimental Gentoo PPC64 LiveCD and it worked. I totally got two Tuxes… Tuces… Tuxi… Tuxii… whatever and a #-prompt.

    And then I remembered it was a Gentoo system and against my religion to use that, so the first command I entered was halt<enter>, which printed haltC on the prompt… Great, wrong keymap. Luckily the numpad-enter was a real enter, so I tried that one.

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  • The Gathering in Mezz

    Went to see The Gathering in Mezz yesterday.

    An “audiovisual show” was announced, well, the audio part was excellent. Too bad the visual part didn’t really stand out. A VJ would show clips made by Dutch video-artists, mixing with the music. But they didn’t match at all, except of course the video clip of Souvenirs itself.

    I noticed too that at least one part wasn’t by a Dutch video-artist as it came directly from the ending sequence of Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio and music by Philip Glass: The launch of a Saturn V and crash of another vessel (don’t know if it was manned or unmanned, don’t even know its name). Ok, so the video part was nice, but a bit disappointing.

    Well, back to the musicians and their music, where we were all there for after all. Anneke is now five and a half months pregnant and that was very visible. I wonder if her baby will once become such a good singer, too :-)

    02-08-2004: Dear Gatherers, I am 3 months pregnant! As happy as I was, that’s how sick I was as well. I took the pregnancy-nausea to a whole new level. :-) Now all is well again and I look forward to carrying both, the baby as well as the upcoming tours and the rest of the year to a blazing end. Many greetings, Anneke

    I really liked the long “jamming” part on Black Light District (starting from 7:46 on the album running for about two minutes), basically it was just 5 minutes playing exactly the same accord, but after a while I started to hear some melody in it. Very strange and for everyone a diffent one probably. The crowd loved it and Anneke and René, who play the guitar, too. The whole performance of it was perfect, totally different from an album recording, just like how a live show should be.

    Maybe they should do the same special thing with every song they play.

    Next month, 25th of November, Vive la Fête will be performing in Mezz. I’ll have to see if I’m going.

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  • RSS, the next big Internet thing?

    Well, since everyone is talking about RSS all of a sudden, Mozilla’s FireFox has builtin RSS support. The new Safari of Mac OS X “Tiger” will support RSS. And at the same time, there is news coming from the content providers stating that the whole RSS thing is cutting in their bandwidth, leaving less for the non-aggregated, probably more profitable, content.

    There are some major problems currently with RSS, first of all and also the most important factor, is that it is a poll system. It means the user has to poll the content provider for new information. Well, that is not so much different from going to the website every now and then, but the problem is that RSS feeds are downloaded very often, also on moments the user would not be watching the site anyway. Also, you miss the exposure of your advertisements, so no income.

    For RSS to be a big commercial success like HTTP is right now, it needs to be converted into a push system, in which the content provider notifies the subscribers of changes; very much like E-Mail is nowadays. The problem with E-Mail however is that you get a lot of spam, and the last thing we want is getting spammed in our new and improved message system.

    A very nice idea may be to integrate RSS with some kind of new and shiny internet message system. Luckily, the IETF has a protocol for such a system. This protocol is called Jabber. Currently mainly in use as a layer for instant messaging, but it is very powerful and, very importand, all messages are identified and authenticated. This is a major difference with E-Mail, in which anyone can send an E-Mail to anyone using a third person’s address. This is in fact what most spammers and E-Mail viruses do.

    So, if RSS is pushed, then we can subscribe to some service who will be posting certain messages when they come available. This is also a drawback of current systems: News isn’t really news, it is news with a small delay, and therefore unsuitable for real-time information like stock quotes, a burglar alarm for your house, parcel tracing, etc. It is nice to get this information at all, but it would be even nicer if you get the information right on time.

    Good, so now we have a pushed RSS feed from an authenticated party. A spammer can spam me only through a feed on which I am subscribed (of course you could set this differently if you like), but if he does, I simply stop the subscription and nothing is getting through from that spammer anymore. It is like subscribing to a mailing list, but much simpler of course. We want this to be as simple to use as possible.

    This is the first part of an article series about RSS. I’ll come up with some more points that need consideration probably within a few days. I hope it will also be a bit more vivid.

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  • Proper detection of PowerMac7,3 (mine) by Linux

    From the Linux 2.6.9-rc4 changelog:

    <schwab@suse.de> [PATCH] Properly recognize PowerMac7,3 	
    Make the PowerMac7,3 no longer unknown.
    Signed-off-by: Andreas Schwab <schwab@suse.de>
    Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@osdl.org>

    So that is nice already, let’s hope the Ubuntu guys will create a new installer soon with this patch applied. Maybe it will boot (it currently doesn’t at all).

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  • Debian install a no go?

    I was trying to install Debian with a newer version, but that was no success at all.

    opening display /pci@0,f0000000/ATY.WhelkParent@10/ATY,Whelk_B@1 ... ok
    copying OF device tree ... done
    starting cpu /cpus/PowerPC,G5 ... failed: 00000000
    Initializing fake screen: ATY,Whelk_A
    Calling quiesce...
    returning 0x01400000 from prom_init

    …and then silence. Well, not completely, because the fans start blowing after some time… And they can get really loud indeed!

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  • Sixflags

    This weekend I was at my parents’, so no playing around with my Mac. Sunday me and my cousins went to Six Flags Holland. I really liked the Goliath which was so… different from what I had experienced before (and that is not much to be honest). It was my first non-Vekoma coaster and what a difference indeed!

    Update: Actually, it wasn’t my first non-Vekoma, Big Thunder Mountain (Disneyland Paris) and Bobbaan (Efteling) are no Vekoma rides.

    While Vekomas tend to rattle and shake, this one, of Intamin AG was smooth like a snake. Some nice > 90° banks and air time on the bunny hops.

    Aw, well, I think Superman the Ride is also funny with its linear motor, but that is more because it is a technical challenge to get something heavy at a high speed in short time and on such a short track.

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  • Problems

    So, I’m having some problems with my machine, of which I’m not sure it is because of the machine or from external factors.

    Firstly, the network is sometimes very unstable, I cannot even watch the AppleExpo keynote at 300kbps (I have a 10MBit connection) and (incoming) ssh connections also suffer from instability.

    Secondly, the machine tends to overheat itself and then just go into suspend, of course only if I’m away.

    Thirdly, it is a bit loud at night, so I can’t sleep with it on.

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  • Impressed

    After playing around with OS X I must say, I’m impressed. It is something you need to get used to, because it just works a little bit different. For instance, I keep forgetting there is a menubar of the running program all at the top of the screen. Over to the design of the machine itself. The materials used are of very high quality. It is put together very well, everything fits exactly. I only have one single point of critic, the screws of the PCI slots are a bit hard to (un)screw; the frame is in the way.

    I looked into the DVD/CD drive bay to look if it is just an ordinary drive, and it is, so you can just put any ATA drive in there.

    Oh, and one other thing about the material, it is very prone to dirt ;-)

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  • First OS X post

    Well, here I am. Sitting at OS X on a very small screen (14”) and an even tinier resolution (832 x 624). I really need a bigger screen, this is not workable. But I have to for the time.

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