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User Journal

Journal Journal: Taking a break

I really can't stand the new layout. So I'm leaving slashdot for a while. I may be back.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Where'd the ponies go? 2

Dammit, I even switched browsers so I could use the slashdotter extension to make everything pink and poneyey. But to no avail. It seems they've taken everything down :(
User Journal

Journal Journal: Anyone got a spare alpha OS (or lives in the US)? 3

A few weeks ago I was amazingly lucky in acquiring an alphastation 600. Beautiful machine, and it's currently running gentoo very smoothly. However, it has a hulking graphics card (ZLXp-L) taking up two 64-bit pci slots which is currently acting as an 80x25 VGA card, because there is no open driver for the card. I either need to persuade a free os to use the xfree86 3.something version that digital supplies drivers for, or acquire a copy of openvms, tru64 or windows NT.

It looks like there's a way for people in the US to get a free copy of openvms. If you join encompass ( as an associate member, you can get a hobbyist license (which is all I need). However, I'm living in the UK, so I don't have a valid US address with which to sign up for this.

So, is there anyone with a copy of an alpha OS they could give me? Or, would someone in the US be willing to get me a hobbyist copy of openvms by this method (if it works)?

User Journal

Journal Journal: GCC stage 2 complete 1

About 6 weeks ago I began a gentoo stage 1 install on my 486. The ncurses problem I had was because bootstrap had not in fact completed; it had died while unpacking linux-headers due to insufficient swap, but this was the time the machine crashed, and when I attempted to resume bootstrap it somehow thought it was completed. Anyway, it's bootstrapping again, and most of the time since then has been taken up with gcc since distcc is no use in building this. Today I noticed the stage 2 xgcc being used, so it has finished the first two stages and is now doing the rebuild of itself using itself for optimization purposes. Of course this is the longest stage (it's unoptimized, but optimizing)...
User Journal

Journal Journal: Take two 7

I have just pressed enter on "emerge -e system" for my second attempt at installing gentoo on a 486. So far there has been no output. My eventual goal is to run KDE on it. I will post updates as and when things happen.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Looking to set things up

What I have:
1 modern x86 machine (Semperon 2600+). PCI only, and sound is so modern it has no DOS support. Onboard sound, also a PCI sound card (both no DOS support), and 10/100 (possibly gigabit) ethernet. Standard parallel and 9-pin serial ports.
1 pentium 1. PCI and ISA, onboard sound which presumably works with DOS, IIRC onboard ethernet (haven't tested the speed). Standard parallel and 9-pin serial ports.
1 486. ISA only. No sound. Standard parallel and 9-pin serial ports.
1 Sparcstation 10. SBUS only. Sound, onboard 10baseT/AUI ethernet. 25-pin serial port and sun parallel port.
Networking equipment:
2 PCI 10/100 ethernet cards.
1 ISA 10baseT/thinnet/AUI ethernet card
4 cat5[e] cables
2 24-port 10/100 hubs, rear stacking connectors, AUI, one with fiber.
1 8-port 100baseT switch.
1 plip cable
1 25-pin slip cable
1 25-9 pin serial adapter
What I can probably accquire:
1 ISA 10/100 ethernet card
1 cat5[e] cable
What I can connect to:
LAN. 1 ethernet jack. Must have a single MAC address on the end of it.
What I want:
Play modern windows games over the LAN with IPX
Play dos games with sound
Permanently accessible webserver running
All computers able to access the lan, at least with TCP/IP
Anyone figure out a way to get this all working?
TIA for any advice

User Journal

Journal Journal: The book meme thing

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.


Nearest Book: "Market Forces" by Richard Morgan
ISBN: 0-575-07584-8

Fifth sentence on page 23: "'The hospital?' Hamilton's voice was politely disbelieving."


Journal Journal: A good film

Night Watch (no relation to the Terry Pratchett book of the same name), though not as good as the last film I saw, is a good film. The overstory sounds preposterous but works very well, the characters are possibly too grim but this makes them seem more realistic, and the action is well executed. The philosophy is impressive but also where the film falls short of greatness. Too many questions are left unanswered, and the upbeat conclusion is completely at odds with everything that lead up to it. The film asks us "why is light better than dark?", but doesn't even attempt to answer that, just assumes it is true.

Overall a good film, worth watching, but flawed and ultimately slightly disappointing.


Journal Journal: The best film I've seen

If, like me, you put off going to see Howl's Moving Castle, go see it right now. It's simply amazing, wonderfully drawn, and incredibly emotive. There are scenes that are truly harrowing, some sad enough to make you cry, a nobility of spirit that will bring a lump to your throat. Watch it, now.

And if you already have, what happens in the first five minutes that I managed to miss? (Everything before the title).

User Journal

Journal Journal: Q: How do you get intellectuals to like a dumb action film?

A: Pretend it's a parody of the dumb action film

I'm sitting here on my own because I really could not stand the film a group of the UK's finest students were about to watch. The Incredibles takes all the worst elements of every bad action film ever, rolls them all together, and expects you to find it hilarious. No, if I want to laugh at a bad film there are plenty of bad films I can do that with. Pixar should go back to making good films. They're much better at it.


Journal Journal: Do as we say, not as we do 1

I am amazed that most of today's news sources seem to be accepting the rescue of British troops by breaking them out of an Iraqi prison as a heroic episode. While I can understand the tabloids enjoying saving our brave boys from the evil beturbanned arabs, I'm far less enthusiastic than they and would expect more opposition than has been seen from elsewhere in the media.

Firstly, the British troops in question shot a police officer. That much isn't disputed even by the British authorities. Whilst I can appreciate the need to fit in when going undercover, and am happy to allow undercover troops or police to deal drugs, launder money, maybe even commit minor thefts when it's in the interest of stopping greater crimes, that stops well short of shooting at anyone, yet alone a police officer. Only the truly desperate criminal will kill an officer of the law rather than come quietly, but here are our "brave boys", supposedly the good guys, refusing to answer questions and opening fire when approached.

Second, if the soldiers were guilty they deserve what they get. It is, supposedly, the Iraqis' country, their government is supposed to be running the place, their legal system is supposed to be in charge. If, as the papers seem to be assuming, the soldiers were innocent, then shouldn't we have faith in the Iraqi justice system to clear them? How come the Iraqi government is good enough for Iraqis but not for the British troops? Could it be we don't believe the government is good at all, we're just installing one which will be the best for our interests, the very same policy that lead to Saddam being there and in charge in the first place?

Thirdly, the method of releasing them. The fact that official sources initially denied they'd broken down the walls shows there is at least some shame about this, but really, letting 150 criminals loose because you're worried about your 3 men who were arrested is a bit of an inappropriate response, to say nothing of wanton property destruction. Is the Iraqi prison situation so bad that we believe people would be killed that quickly, and if so, why are we allowing those 150 people to be held there? If they are genuine criminals, what about all the problems they'll now cause for other, innocent Iraqis?

We appear no better than an inner city gang busting da boyz out of the nick, because, y'know, they're da ladz, we stick together. I would expect more concern for other people, and more willingness to consider errors on our part, from the military of a civilised nation, and it seems hipocritical to expect others to accept the authority of the new Iraqi authorities when we are not willing to do so ourselves.

Operating Systems

Journal Journal: Linux 2.6 is unstable 7

I don't care what other people say. I'm sitting here trying to run a vanilla kernel. It crashed four times last evening and has already crashed once this morning in eight minutes of use. Hard lockup, nothing to do but push the reset button and thank god for reiserfs.

No, it's not just X locking up, I've tried SSHing in to no avail.

No, it's not my hardware, my hardware worked fine under 2.4, heck it's more stable than this when I boot win98 on it.

No, it's not my config. I've configured the minimum possible into the kernel, even leaving off some filesystems that I occasionally use, to try and get rid of this freezing. Also, the same config seems to produce a working kernel with 2.6.11, but no other versions.

No, I'm not trolling. I genuinely want to fix this and I can't.

No, I don't work for microsoft. I'm not trying to discredit linux. I just want a working home system and I can't get it.

I'm sick of everyone either denying that I can possibly be having these problems or insisting they're my fault. They're not. I've done everything right and the damn kernel isn't stable. There are many possible points of blame, but to me the fact that the crash was fixed in 2.6.11 and then a new one introduced in 2.6.12 points to the new 2.6 policy of doing development in the stable tree. I don't know if this is right, but I do know that 2.6 is not a stable kernel and should not be released as such.

The Internet

Journal Journal: Internet Fragmentation

I'd make this into a science fiction story if I was a better writer. It's not necessarily going to happen, but it's enough of a risk that people need to be made aware of it.

The days of the Internet as we know it are coming to an end. The squabbling we're currently seeing over the root DANS servers is just the start. Links in the network cost money. Real money, not some theoretical service thing. They're currently provided by either universities as a public service that aids the university academically, or by ISPs where the link benefits both. But the expensive ones like the transatlantic cables are all in the former category. (Feel free to correct me on this.) As more and more content becomes illegal in various places, the universities will retreat, routing only academic content. With the rise of DRAM systems and general improvements in cryptography, eventually only provably academic content will be routed. For the rest, you'll have to find someone else whose interest it serves to forward your packet.

There will be all sorts of innovative money-making schemes from people running server sets. For a monthly fee, companies will guarantee routing from any of their endpoints to any other endpoint. Of course, getting the packet to your local endpoint, and ensuring your recipient can pick it up from theirs, is your business. You might find postal-service-like setups who will deliver "door to door", but I wouldn't count on it, and it will probably be priced per packet. A cadre of hackers will offer free routing anywhere, like in the old days, but it will be unreliable and congested. The spread of wireless adds another dynamic to this, because it allows cheap routes between any two basestations within several kilometres, provided they're willing to cooperate. There could well be several networks layered over each other all around you. Of course encryption technology will be advanced and adopted enough that they are no use to you. The really interesting part will be the half-open networks, those that pass unsigned packets based on automated inspection (manual is impossible with the volume of packets around). These rules will probably change daily, and there will be a new rush of hacking crafting encodings for arbitrary data to go from A to B on. It requires cunning and agility, and can't be used with huge amounts of data, but it's doable. Things might be sent with some of the steps being physically moving discs, or links that only work half the day because they're being run by some kiddie hacker and his friend a few miles off. The current routing protocols won't be able to handle it as well as a competent human, meaning hackers will have an advantage over normal people who simply curse their slow link and hope it will work better next time, or pay for a premier routing service. To send a packet around the world will be a tricky feat, maybe even an induction test for those joining the resurgent hacking gangs. Over time a complete economy will emerge, with exchanges tracking the prices of packets between major locations. Neighbourhoods will lay their own cables to popular servers, and anyone who can provide content people are interested in - probably cracked software/music/movies, now very much a rare commodity with the strong encryption, stronger laws, and slow spread of cracked versions - will be able to get their connections free, maybe even have people pay to connect and charge those who route through them. Networks will form around these hubs, and then dissolve as the operator gets raided, one of the leaf nodes perhaps trying to trade their way with what they managed to acquire before the raid. The canny will stay on the edge, not popular enough to attract attention but popular enough to be able to get what they want, much like posters in mp3 newsgroups today. (If you haven't ever been to such a newsgroup, they're worth watching just for the social dynamics, not to mention the mp3s). Bang paths, UUCP, netnews and local BBSes will all see a revival. It will be a wilderness once more, but a post-apocalyptic one, with older hackers reminiscing about the few decades they had when there was free routing everywhere. Eventually, when wireless evolves to a range of hundreds of miles, free networks may see a return, but the rules of mesh networks dictate that the bigger they get the scarcer bandwidth becomes. As normal Internet bandwidth has increased content has grown to fill the space available (text->images->music->applications and video), and although it's hard to imagine a higher-bandwidth successor to current content it seems inevitable that one will arise, perhaps full 3-d simulations. So the Internet will always be an economic entity, and with the increased power hackers get will come a sadness at the loss of that period of freedom.

Anyone know if anyone has tried to write about this kind of idea?

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