Fri, 25 Apr 2003
File under "the joys of Linux"

I just had my Linux install go fubar on me. The reason? I'd commented out the <dri> line in my /etc/security/console.perms so that a game demo I just installed would work.

Upon reboot, almost immediately I get an inexplicable error along the lines of "**CRITICAL** ... unknown [something] <dri>" and then my boot disk wasn't recognised. Nothing would seem to work when I was dumped to the prompt - it was like the disk just didn't exist.

This had me all panicky about superblocks going bad (and unreasonably cursing Windows as the cause). After looking into it using the rescue disk, the disk was just fine - I could mount it, edit stuff on it and it was just fine and dandy. So I edited the console.perms file, uncommented the <dri> line, and voila, the machine boots ok.

This is an hour of hand-wringing later, of course. Next time a demo wants write permission to /dev/nvidiactl, I'll just chmod it on the spot.

It turns out I'd only commented out the "class" specification which indicates what <dri> means in that file. I'd missed that much lower in the file that <dri> symbol is actually used in another statement. When that statement is attempted, <dri> is unknown and the whole thing goes barf-o. It's just a tad unfortunate that this results in none of my disk devices being created...

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Thu, 24 Apr 2003

Half-Life sequel. Awesome :)

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Wed, 16 Apr 2003
Leica, stylish as always

The new Leica D-Lux is not only techincally sound camera, but it's damned attractive too. From the DPReview article:

The design of the LEICA D-LUX is reminiscent of the use of classic forms for Leica's rangefinder cameras. It is a modular composition of basic geometric figures such as semi-circles and rectangles. The result is a timelessly elegant shape that fits comfortably in the photographer's hand.

via gizmodo

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Mon, 14 Apr 2003
Python is an Agile Programming Language

Kevin Altis and others have devised a much better label for Python than "scripting language" - agile language ("characterized by quickness, lightness, and ease of movement; nimble")

Kevin explains:

We still don't have a complete set of tenets, but here's the working list:
  • excellent for beginners, yet superb for experts
  • highly scalable, suitable for large projects as well as small ones
  • rapid development
  • portable, cross-platform
  • embeddable
  • easily extensible
  • object-oriented
  • you can get the job done
  • simple yet elegant
  • stable and mature
  • powerful standard libs
  • wealth of 3rd party packages
And don't forget that with Python, programming is fun again!

This is a work in progress for Kevin as he and others refine this statement.

path: /python | permanent link |
Tue, 01 Apr 2003
Upgrade update

Well, the death throes of whatever died in the old computer took out both disks on the IDE chain, and the controller logic. Unfortunately, one of those disks was the /home disk. Lots lost :( I hadn't noticed, but my dodgy backup methodology had missed my .ssh and Mail directories. Ouch.

I'm now sitting in front of a very quickly thrown-together new Athlon system (the minimum spec system I could buy - 1.9GHz would you believe) which replaces the old, now very dodgy, hardware.

The moral of this story ... more regular, complete backups!

While I was at it, I splurged on a Linksys router/switch to take over that role from my desktop. AU$169 well spent, since it's quiet, compact and consumes significantly less power than a real computer :)

path: /stuff | permanent link |