{September 30, 2008}   sneaky little scripts

so I was getting rather frustrated the past couple of weeks, because vars I’d set didn’t seem to be sticking, no matter where I called my scripts from. I got *really* frustrated yesterday when I realised that I was also still running packages for kdebase stuff, not the code I’d compiled myself. *after* making three commits to this code. doh.

last night I finally figured it out: there were some “helpful” little scripts lurking on my system, changing things after my scripts set them and setting other things that confused kde4. a script in /usr/env/ was setting up its own ssh and gpg agents, overriding mine (I like to keep them running between kde sessions, especially when debugging). then /etc/profile.d/ was setting KDEDIRS, which confused kde4 into ignoring my stuff and always running packages instead.

so, I’ve disabled those scripts and I can finally run compiled code. :) yay! the stuff I committed before fixing this was just the stuff I wrote at akademy and never finished; after that I committed some minor little cleanups.

…it’s not all perfect, though. ssh-agent works, but kmail still believes gpg-agent got a bad passphrase without ever asking me for one at all. I’m still running kdemod packages for everything other than kdebase and plasmoids… kmail completely ignores kwallet, akregator says it has some problem with metakit and won’t archive my feeds, and kmix won’t bring up the mixer window. guess I’ll have to compile them myself so that everything’s on the same revision.

then there’s some regression in powerdevil: when using packages, powerdevil worked perfectly but kickoff’s suspend/hibernate buttons did nothing. now that I’m running yesterday’s trunk, powerdevil also does nothing. since hibernating is pretty important at school, I might have to go back to packages temporarily until I figure out what changed. oh, and disabling the entirely means that kde can’t see basKet (my one non-kde4 program) any more, so I’ll have to go back and fix that one properly.

[update: I fixed my KDEDIRS properly and untangled exactly what was being called when. I now have akregator and kmix and basket happy. kmail and gpg-agent haven’t changed (the kwalllet thing probably does require an update, iirc). surprisingly, powerdevil works again, although it forgot some of my settings, and kickoff’s suspend buttons work too!]

still, I’m happy to be writing code again. :) whee!
…except now it’s time to study for tomorrow’s midterms instead.
if anyone is interested in taking one of my tasks from the feature plan, feel free. (I think someone in #plasma was interested in dbus interfaces..?) I’m going to have my hands full debugging my soc project’s bitrot and keeping up with school. :/

{September 24, 2008}   more rambling about my laptop

well, the not-so-perfect aspects of this laptop are beginning to show.

last week I configured xorg… my synaptics touchpad worked right away, but composite… didn’t. there’s a known issue with my graphics card on techbase, but the workaround suggested didn’t work for me… someone said that xorg 1.5 worked for him (although it broke other things on his system), so I think I’ll be patient and wait for a stable release of that before trying anything else.

more disturbing are the hardware quirks… one night I got two kernel panics out of the blue – capslock and numlock flashing, not even the mouse would move. thankfully it hasn’t happened again, but stuff like that is unsettling. also, a few times a day one of my keys randomly sticks. sometimes *not* the one I was actually pressing. shoddy hardware there, I guess :/ the only other time I’ve seen anything like that is when my wireless keyboard would get low on batteries.
oh, and suspend-to-disk failed to resume once… but it had been through loads of suspend cycles, both to ram and to disk, so I forgive it ;)

oh, and while the webcam worked automagically with zero effort (all I installed was skype!) the builtin mic doesn’t seem to be working. not a big deal – using a real mic is better anyways – but mildly disappointing.

on the bright side, I *finally* compiled kde yesterday, and today I got it running properly. I’ll still use packages for the applications, but obviously I can’t write code for plasma without compiling it myself ;) oh, and my compiled kdesupport gave me phonon-xine, which makes phonon Just Work again, yaay :)

now I just have to go report a few extremely annoying konq bugs involving unnecessary modal dialogs I can’t disable… er.. waiit, I was supposed to be studing math :P
…oh hey, i triggered the keyboard thing again. if I hit y and u at the same time, u stays down until I hit any key. it’s very hard to trigger intentionally, though.

{September 16, 2008}   arch + kdemod = win

wheee. I have kde4 on my laptop now, and it just *zooms*. maybe it has something to do with the 4 gigs of ram ;) or the fact that I’m not using debug packages atm. it’s incredibly fast. I’m running kdemod unstable, which seems to be trunk packages – very, very unstable indeed. :) akregator likes to crash every few minutes when I use it, but I can restart it so quickly I don’t really care. ;)

for comparison… my desktop, with nvidia and 512mb ram and opensuse 10.3 runs like a fscking *slug*. I haven’t even attempted composite there. since it doesn’t have a dvd drive I can’t do the dvd upgrade to 11, so I think I might wipe it clean someday, do a fresh install of opensuse 11, and see what that’s like.
my old laptop, with intel hardware and 768mb ram and a rather messed up system based on kubuntu feisty, ran kde4 with composite pretty well – I was never annoyed by slowness or impressed by speed.

for now, I’m quite happy with arch. hopefully today I’ll have time to configure xorg, so that I can have scroll wheels and compositing – I’m running without an xorg.conf right now, and surprised at how well that works. I have suspend to ram and hibernate to disk *both* working, and so far they’ve been flawless – only funny bit is that while powerdevil has no problem triggering them, kickoff’s buttons do *nothing*. s’weird. hopefully I’ll have a powerdevil plasmoid soon, and then I’ll be able to click a suspend button there. :)

…oh, one other odd thing. no kde sound effects yet. sound is working for mplayer n’stuff, but phonon seems to be silent, and the sound config dialog doesn’t even have a ‘test’ button any more. did I miss something here? even weirder, it’s using gstreamer instead of xine, and there is no other option…

and I notice wordpress is working a lot better in konqueror suddenly. neat. :)

anyways, next thing I have to figure out is mail. I want to be able to check mail from either my n810 or my laptop, but the imap client on the n810 is far worse than using gmail’s web interface, despite the instability of the browser. :( and gmail, in its infinite wisdom, doesn’t mark mail as read when I read it via imap (although it’s possible that might be the client’s fault). I’ve heard generally bad things about its imap support too…
I really want to get back to using a real mail client, because it’s really hard to follow all the mail I get with the web interface’s limited filters. there’s also that small matter of not always being on teh interwebs. I’m not sure what to do, though; if I set up mail properly on my laptop, then it’ll be harder to read it on the n810. if I find a different imap host and move away from gmail, it’ll be even harder to check mail on my n810. ideally I’d just like to have a non-sucky imap client on my n810, but it sounds like kdepim has its hands full already, so I may have to wait a while.
this is a bit of an awkward time to be contemplating a change in mail stuff. (oh, and I also have to choose between kmail and mailody on the laptop. hrrm.)

{September 13, 2008}   new laptop!

whee! :) I got home friday afternoon and my laptop was here waiting for me. it’s a dell xps m1330, and so far I’m fairly happy with it. I installed arch on it last night, and now I begin the long process of installing software and tweaking settings and so on… :)

the hardware is almost all intel. the screen brightness fn-keys work even from a terminal, and the bios lets me choose default levels for AC and battery. there are two audio-out jacks as well as mic in at the front; I assume one of the two is better quality, but they sound the same to me. there are only two usb ports, but they’re on either side of the laptop so at least I can still choose what side to put things on. there’s a capslock led. there’s a slot-load dvd drive (why don’t all laptops have that?) and a fingerprint reader (maybe I’ll try to get that working sometime) and a webcam and it’s shiny. :)

the keyboard is standard size, unfortunately, which means it’s just a bit big for me. the trackpad, otoh, is tiny. blah. there’s no volume knob, but there are volume buttons that are producing keycodes, so I should be able to hook those up. I hope there’s a kmix plasmoid soon :)

along the top there’s a row of shiny buttons that don’t look like buttons: you press on them and they glow. :) whee, shiny. there’s a eject button, music controls and volume there.

something weird about the drive, though… it can boot a kubuntu cd just fine, and other computers can boot the arch cd, but the laptop can’t boot the arch cd. o.0 I ended up using the usb-boot option.

installing arch was fun. it’s like gentoo without the compiling. :) I spent far too long trying to decide how big my partitions should be, which ones to put in lvm, etc… eventually I finished with the base install, then spent hours trying to get wireless working – only to discover that I was running commands in the wrong order. :) pretty much all of my problems with arch today have been like that – audio was silent, then I remembered that I’d upgraded kernel stuff, so I rebooted and it worked again. network profiles didn’t work – because I’d got the wrong values in the config files. :) so now I have working sound, and a nice little dialog that lets me choose my network profile on boot (hooray for avoiding NetworkMangler!) – and arch boots amazingly fast. :) that might have something to do with the 2.1ghz processor, though. :)

it might be a while before I get around to installing kde on it, because I have math homework I really should start – but, wheeee! shiny new laptop! :)

{September 11, 2008}   survived the first week of school :)

whee! it’s been a bit more than a week, but yesterday i handed in my first assignments. far too much of my time this week was spent on those. iirc i did math all weekend :P and now i have new assignments, oh joy!

somewhere i have a list of thoughts about the n810 that i’ve been meaning to blog. let’s see how long it takes me to get around to that. i don’t like how little computer time i’ve been getting; school is too darn busy.

anyways, good news: first, my group for cmpt 275 seems prettty awesome. not a lot of experience, but lots of enthusiasm, everyone seems smart and has their own strengths. :)

second, my laptop may arrive tomorrow :D yay! i’ve burnt an archlinux cd, and started learning how to install it… that should be fun. :)

third, i managed to repair my backup and got some files off it. yayy! i have my calendar back at the very least… basket files are there but i haven’t got basket installed… i think some files have damage but haven’t run into them yet, so hopefully it’s just unimportant ones. from now on i test my backups after creating them :P

oh, and somehow i got talked into being exec at large for the csss (whose website is indeed down atm). doh.

anyways, i have to go back to getting school stuff done. blah. i hope i can find some time to write code this week…

{September 5, 2008}   crowds and buses

crowd behaviour amuses me.

there are always long lines for the 145 bus, the last leg of my trip to school. the school crowds are big enough that they have us board through all 2 or 3 doors, and security is there to make sure we stay in lines and off the road. today a 2-door bus showed up just after i arrived, but when it was 2/3 full a 3-door bus pulled up behind it. suddenly almost everyone rushed for the other bus. i figured i had the choice of standing on the first bus or standing on the second, so i stayed with the first and had plenty of room to stand in – normally we’re packed like sardines :P

once the doors closed I looked around, and noticed something that’s far too common. the newer buses have some seats at the front that automatically fold up, for the convenience of wheelchairs n’stuff. a pair of these seats had been left up, and there were so few students on the bus that nobody was even standing in the space the seats would occupy!

i waited a minute to see if anyone would take the seats, then pushed my way to the front and put the seats down myself. :) once i’d done that, someone else sat in the other seat, but he would have stood for the whole ride if I’d gone to the other bus. :P
i’m not sure if people have trouble with the latch that releases the seats, or it’s one of those funny social things, or if they just don’t care… but it got me a seat on the bus today. :)

i’m also happy to see more no-smoking signs around sfu. there are a few outdoor areas that i have to walk through regularly, and now i don’t have to try and hold my breath for them. yay :)

{September 3, 2008}   first day of class

well, i had my first day of classes today. it wasn’t my first day back at school, though – yesterday i spent the day standing in lines for things like texkbooks and lockers and free ice cream. :)

anyways, today was spent sitting in lectures as well as standing in lines. i’ve got two math classes, which seem like they’ll be fun (yeah, i like math), and the dreaded cmpt 275, a project course that nobody likes – group work and “deliverables” and we don’t even get to choose the groups, ugh.

it was a bit disconcerting being reminded of how windows-centric the world still is. i spent the summer in a nice happy kde bubble and now i have to deal with courses where it’s assumed everyone uses windows… i was somewhat relieved to find out the cmpt 275 teacher will accept assignments in .odf format as well as .doc. *sigh* most of these people don’t know what kde is. i don’t think i’ve ever seen anyone use it, despite the reasonable percentage of CS students with linux installed.

i miss kde. i miss having a laptop, too, although this n810 is really handy on campus. i haven’t had time to install ssh or anything like that on here, the default software’s not so good for following mailing lists or rss, and my desktop comp is being weird (plus there’s a guest sleeping in the computer room), so i’ve not got much idea what’s going on in the community lately.

the good news is, i have ordered a laptop (dell m1330, dunno when it’ll arrive), and since i have no class tomorrow i’m planning to spend the day dealing with software and data recovery n’stuff. :)

et cetera