{November 28, 2008}   the xps m1330

I’m not awake today, so blog title creativity has reached a new low… anyways, peter asked me to blog about my laptop again, so here it is.

I’ve been using it for over 3 months now, so I suppose it’s safe to say is does work. :) hibernation and suspend have been great; only two or three hibernation failures since I got it, and I hibernate at least once a day. :)

I think I’ve ranted about most of the problems already, really… the keyboard gets some keys stuck if I press them at the exact wrong time, which is apparently a driver issue, but I can live with it. the bad wifi drivers are a real pain (while I’ve kinda gotten used to using wired ethernet at home, I’m concerned about running into openwrt routers at conferences) but there was a a time when I didn’t get panics, and I have a vague feeling that a kernel update may have been what changed things, so I should look into that.
I still have no composite… I must look into exactly what version of xorg is supposed to fix that, and try it out, even if it’s not stable yet. I also have to figure out how to get a monitor/projector to work when plugged in… I’ve never tried that on anything but kubuntu with my old laptop, and I found out it doesn’t work at all by default in arch, so I have to start by finding out what words I should even be googling…

oh, and the builtin speakers are fairly useless – very very quiet – but I never expect much from laptop speakers anyways. either I have headphones (and this laptop has two outputs, so my buying a splitter was a bit of a waste in the end) or I have real speakers at home. it’s a shame that the builtin mic doesn’t work at *all*, though. I do have a good mic of my own, but getting it untangled takes time ;)

the screen is good, so long as it doesn’t have direct sunlight on it… although really, I’d be happy with faded colours if I could have a daylight-readable screen. :P

other than that… well… it mostly just works. :) I haven’t tested bluetooth or the fingerprint reader, although the interwebs suggest they’ll work. I haven’t got around to making the multimedia keys work, either. I really wish someone would write a simple gui program for mapping those keys so that you don’t have to read man pages to learn how to do it… I can never remember the process and I have better things to do with my time, but I don’t want to have to trust it to distro “magic” (especially given the apparent state of distros that do such magic).

somehow I haven’t gotten around to putting stickers on the laptop, though. either I’m too busy using it, or I subconsciously don’t think of it as “mine” yet ;)

oh, and I love having a 4-hour battery. I can actually *use* my laptop unplugged, compiling and playing music, without constantly glancing at the battery meter. :) the slotload dvd drive is nice too, although I hardly ever use it – why don’t all laptops have that? it makes so much more sense… no silly tray to pop out and get damaged.

so… it may not be a perfect laptop, but that seems almost entirely to be driver issues, and driver issues can (hopefully) be resolved in time. :) perhaps I’ll finally put some stickers on it tonight. I’ll have to pick up kde stickers again at campkde…

{November 24, 2008}   code == happiness

despite spending my whole damn weekend at school, i’m feeling much happier recently. maybe it’s the sunshine. maybe it’s knowing that the seester is nearly over. maybe it’s the fact that i’ve been carefully not thinking about all the things that could go wrong and all the things i’m not getting done. maybe it’s that for the last 2 weeks (not counting this weekend) i’ve been making sure i spend some time relaxing in some way, not always being on the computer. maybe it’s other nice things ;)

but i think at least part of it is that i’m writing code again, lots of it. not only that, today i had my whole group with me coding too. i could help them debugs things, i could get code written while they helped each other, i could hear cheers go up when something hard started working, i could bitch about the insanity of this course with them… :)

slowly but surely our system is taking shape. by most reports we’re well ahead of the curve. today i spent a bit of time helping someone in another group – he’d essentially been writing procedural code in java. heh. the complete lack of code design experience among the people in this course is pretty unfair, really.

and speaking of design, it’s pretty cool to see mine coming together and working :) yay! naturally there have been changes along the way… i’ve learnt that designing classes for other people to implement requires much more planning and detailed explanations of just what is responsible for what. i should’ve started the class diagram earlier (or not gotten sick :P ) – it’s amazingthe number of ways a design can be misunderstood. especially when the generated code doesn’t include the comments from the diagram it was generated from. :P
i also would’ve had more classes if i was doing this over again. some stuff seemed small, so i lumped it together, but i would’ve had a much cleaner system if i’d pulled all of that out into separate classes.

i’ve also learnt a bit about group dynamics. working with people isn’t one of my strengths… i needed to teach them gui programming concepts and had no idea how. still don’t really have any idea how actually, but in the end we all figured it out somehow. :) i also have this tendency to make people feel stupid when i try to explain what they’re doing wrong, and i haven’t quite figured out how to tone that down… but i seem to have not really pissed anyone off at least :)
in the end, i stiill feel fairly lost on how to work in groups well when people don’t have the same grade expectations as me… but at least i’m a little more confident that it can actually work :)

i’m also happy that some of my group members with the least experience have been catching on quite quickly and writing stuff that does in the end actually work. :) it’s kinda neat to watch people make the same standard beginner’s mistakes that i remember making in the past… and reminds me just how much of programming is learnt from making and fixing those mistakes. somehow it still amazes me how valuable experience is.

anyways, it’s very very late now – i had to catch a nightbus and then walk a dozen blocks home, and then decided it was such a nice night i should sit outsiide and blog…
i’m gonna go inside and defrost now ;)

{November 22, 2008}   one week. just one more week

just one more week of classes. then the evil group project will be over. ohh god.
it’s actually not going too badly. could be a lot worse. but i got home at 12:30 this evening and i’m oing back to school tomorrow to do more code. urgh.

so it seems to be 4.2 beta time. already. huh. aseigo cleaned up my config ui in time for the string freeze, but i still haven’t had time to make it actually do anything.

pretty soon i need to figure out this fosscamp thing, and start planning the campkde thing… more plane tickets to buy. wow. stuff will be happening again. :)

oh, and an odd thing: a couple of weeks ago i found the source of my kernel panics. buggy iwl4965 wifi driver. if it’s connected to a router running openwrt it’ll panic randomly, so bad that even the magic sysrq keys don’t work. some people report success with the previous version of the driver, but for me that just won’t connect. so, since the router at home runs openwrt, i’ve got an ethernet cable running down the hall to the bedroom :) wired connection… feels so old-fashioned ;)
i wonder if there’s a way i can help debug the driver… maybe i should bug whoever wrote it…

anyways, time to pass out now. :P looking forward to december… i’ll probably need to do a fair amount of studying to catch up on the neglected math courses before exams, but at least there won’t be any groupwork. and then exams will be over and i’ll be free for the rest of the month! :D hopefully i can join the plasma bughunting for some of that time. and, y’know, actually relax and have some fun too. ahhh, it will be nice to have a vacation. very, very nice :)

so, my nice shiny new laptop doesn’t do composite atm. that means that all semester I’ve been hacking on plasma-overlay with a solid black background. that much black gets annoying after a while.

coincidentally, my lack of composite began not long after plasma’s wallpaper plugins hit trunk. :) sometimes I even caught a glimpse of wallpaper automagically loading before the blackness was drawn. I just didn’t have time to do anything about it.

well, today I finally found the time to unbreak the screensaver containment’s settings dialog, and this was the perfect moment to bring in wallpaper configuation too. :) surprisingly it was quite easy; I copied some code from hte desktop settings dialog, replaced the theme and containment stuff with my own config widgets, and I had happy magical wallpaper :)

the transparency stuff there doesn’t actually *do* anything yet; I’m too tired to hook that back up now. it’s also not going to look like that when composite is disabled, because 90% of that stuff requires composite… but I’ll blog about that stuff once it’s done :) hopefully I’ll have time to finish it soon. maybe even tomorrow night if I’m really really lucky.

oh, and kmail recently got ten times more awesome. :D it finally sorts mail the way I want, it’s lovely and fast even with huge folders… I’m a bit concerened about this weird unstarring-all-starred-mail bug that’s happened to me a couple of times this month :/ (gmail imap), and I don’t really see the usefulness of the tab bar that I can’t turn off – but apart from that kmail’s looking really awesome now :)

et cetera