Behdad Esfahbod's daily notes on GNOME, Pango, Fedora, Persian Computing, Bob Dylan, and Dan Bern!

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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July 2003
August 2003
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Current Posts
McEs, A Hacker Life
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I need some tea. I can't concentrate. No slides yet :(.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The death of one is a tragedy
The death of one is a tragedy
The death of one is a tragedy
But death of a million is just a statistic

 WADS Badge Pickup

So I had time to have a look around Carleton University. After picking up the badge and, thanks to Prof. Ghodsi, the proceedings, I tried to find some cigarettes. On my way I ran into venerable Prof. Gilles Brassard. I knew him from the Cryptography course. He is the key speaker tomorrow.

Having the proceedings, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, volume 2748, proceedings of Algorithms and Data Structures (WADS'2003), now I can start working on the slides.

 The Nobodies, Marilyn Manson

Today I'm dirty
I want to to be pretty
Tomorrow I know, I'm just dirt
Today I'm dirty
I want to to be pretty
Tomorrow I know, I'm just dirt

We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are
We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are

Yesterday I was dirty
Wanted to be pretty
I know now that I'm forever dirt
Yesterday I was dirty
Wanted to be pretty
I know now that I'm forever dirt

We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are
We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are

Some children died the other day
We feed machines and then we pray
Look up and down mortified
You should have seen the ratings that day
Some children died the other day
We feed machines and then we pray
Look up and down mortified
You should have seen the ratings that day

We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are
We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are
We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are
We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are

 Health Canada

is great! I bought some Marlboros a few days ago. It was not a classic boxed one from US. One of them with Health Canada notices and warnings all around the box. The interesting one was the one talking about that smoking can reduce the blood flow to your penis that can reduce your ability to get an erection! Should I smoke more? or less?


Workshop on Algorithms and Data Structures is going to open tomorrow morning. I have a talk tomorrow afternoon, but I have not even started making presentation slides! Nor did I went to bank, or even went out to buy some cigarrettes! I have been compiling, patching, repeat for past few days. Now I have a nice 2.6.0-test2 vanilla kernel (without ac patch). It solved the problem that caused DVD players crash.

More important: I have subscribed to LKML (Linux Kernel Mailing List). The traffic is not so heavy, around 30 messages per hour. There I found how to make the touchpad work again. The /dev/psaux is changed in 2.5 kernels, so you should pass some parameter to make it behave as old 2.4 ones.

More 2.6 stuff: Actually I have compiled all the sexy features in, and it was my first time compiling it! I have procfs, sysfs, and devfs mounted. Power management and CPU frequency modulation work like a charm. SonyPI, the Vaio programmable interface is great too. I still have problem selecting tools to bind all the functionality to GUI. Oh, suspend to disk works without X server!

That's enough hackery stuff for now. I will go back and write what has happened to me for the past few days when I finished the slides (if ever).

Friday, July 25, 2003
 Second Day at Symposium

Well, I slept last night again without putting online what I have wrote. Here it comes:

Today I attended some nice talks, the first one was on Ugly Ducklings - Reassuring Unmaintained Code, by Dave Jones from the SuSE Labs. It was such a talk I like, on keeping code neat and clean, and other stuff. After that was the Getting Open Source Login Into Governments (GOSLING), that I didn't enjoyed much. I tried compiling my kernel. The next one was Large Free Software Project and Bugzilla: Lessons from GNOME Project QA, by a friend: Luis Villa from Ximian. It was talking about how many bugs they have reported on GNOME, Ximian, Mozilla, and other things. After that was another technical talk on Improving the Linux Test Project with Kernel Code Coverage Analysis. It was kind of stuff I like. I learned how to use gcon and lcov to do code coverage tests and get some nice HTML output.

After that, I was in an doubt to if I should attend Hacking for fun and not for Profit, or Linux at Google, More Than 10,000 Linux Machines, well, obviously I chose Google. Actually, the Google guy changes his talk's name to Google, A Linux Cluster for Fun and Profit! The room was already full. I found some seat in the fourth row. It was Marc J Merlin from Google who talking. He started to show us Google technologies, among them are:

Then he showed us the Mozilla Google Bar that Behnam likes so much, and told that it has the same functionality as the IE version.

When the talk was over, he ran a program that showed two Google queries a second online! Great, among the queries were: "jennifer love hewitt fake nude", someone was looking for "my panties", "glamour" which I really don't know what it is, "beautiful ass", and "sex with animals".

He was answering the questions while we were laughing out of loud of the queries. If I had a wireless card, I would flood Google with a funny query, like "Get out of Linux Symposium", with the hope that mine is shown on the screen, but I didn't have. While I was hacking and listening to his answers, I felt something flying right by my head. Oh, it was a Google shirt I missed, and the first one. So I closed the laptop screen, waiting for the next one to come, but damn, he was not going to through them this way again. I was starting hacking on my kernel again when I found something coming down right upon my head, and I caught it! So I have a Google t-shirt now. Finally he told us they are hiring, and send your resumes, and blah blah. I'm going to send mine.

We are at the dinner party sponsored by IBM now. Last night at the intel party there were no liquor, but the wine and beer brands were free. Tonight there are liquor and cocktails, but you have to pay for any drinks. Well, I a screwdriver is fine. We had a steak for the dinner. Someone asked to check my badge right now, and after that he told me that I better show off my hip flask as drinking is not allowed here! Well, IBM they are. I was using my hip flask to drink some gins. He told me that I better put it in my bag or I will lose my head. So I left the room as my objection.

I jumped out to find some cigarettes, with no luck, so I jumped in a book store. I picked up some postal cards to send to some of you in Iran. Actually I'm going to put 'em all in an envelope and send to the World Trade Center (sed 's/Trade/Computing/'), as some of the would be definitely censored. I'm going to list the cards. Please skip anyone of them if you feel you are the one to receive that. Please let me know whenever you receive the cards. And please don't tell others anything about the cards, as I've not send them any. And please forget all about the card stuff, as I was just kidding. Here they are: Franz Kafka, Untitled, Drinks at the Monkey Bar, Wallpaper, and The Difference is You! Mail me if your guess about what card you are going to get.

When I came back, the party was over, so I took the bus home. I'm getting quite used to the buses, and well, to the coins.

It is late, around the midnight. I bumped out to have a Coca, but fuck, I have 1.40 dollars of coins, and it is 1.50! I tried to fool the machine with euro coins, but it fooled me by rejecting 'em all. So I decided to not drink anything tonight.

Power management stuff: I have now something to work on. The ACPI enabled kernel can recognize if the AC adapter is attached or not, but cannot detect the battery. The sonypi driver, that's better. It recognizes the Fn keys, and it also can report power status, as well as setting the backlight. I should write some apps to attach to the Fn keys, and hack battery status applet from Gnome to fit my situation. The sleep and suspend functionality do not work still.

I went out walking around in the night, when I found four Iranians. They have been playing cards. They are from an MBA delegation.

Thursday, July 24, 2003
 Dog, The Mad One

Well, such a hard day was yesterday. When I came back it was around 11PM, so I slept.

The ceremony last night, after the intel guy, guess who was speaking? The maddog! With five jokes in each sentence, I can't explain, you should have been there. As his first slide after the title page, there was the trademarks, as his lawyer tells him they are important. Here are the trademarks:
On the back of Keith Packard's laptop, it is written "Coding is Not a Crime".

I found a B.Sc student from UofT, who told me that he has heard from a friend that drinking and smoking is prohibited in the middle east!

The The Wall Wall DVD introduces itself for regions 2, 4, and 5.

The kernel? Not tried more yet. bash_completion? Not tried that yet too. Later today.


I'm trying to compile a kernel with acpi support, with no luck yet.

We are at the reception ceremony sponsored by intel now. The intel guy claims that they have sold 1 million wireless card chips THIS year! On the table I am are Keith Packard, and a few other speaker. Keith would have a talk on vector rendering, and other things blah blah. Guinness.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
 Welcome To The Matrix

Geeks everywhere. Hackers everywhere. This is the great Ottawa Linux Symposium. I entered at 9:50, and was around, when I found someone calling me. It was the great Orna Agmon, both from the linux-il list. Great to meet them.

I attended the talk on Linux kernel testing, but spent my time reading the bash_completion code. It is teasing my mind for a few days: I want to write some hacks so that the bash would complete the GNU style long options of the command line programs. I found some package named bash_completion from the fedora package repository which uses the new bash programmable completion to implement such a system statically. I would use it to extract programs' options by overriding getopt calls, and feed the bash_completion system on a per-user basis. That would be great. Some time tonight.

I jumped out to by a Wireless LAN card, but couldn't find a Linux compatible one. I should ask for some help from some expert here. I'm going to ask someone to setup my laptop's apm too. It's so frustrating to shutdown and boot up to same the battery for a quarter. I found some support for both the VAIO, and the Mustek webcam in the kernel. They are in sonypi and ov511 modules, but I couldn't make them work myself.

 What A Wonderful World

Well, I just picked up my badge for the symposium. It's going to start by tomorrow 10AM. Now I'm in my room at Carleton University residence, and wow! I've got luck out of my ass: there is a fast internet connection, and I've bought a network cable this morning! So I'm going to be online every night. Couldn't be better.

About the DVD zones. I just checked my new DVDs, they introduce themselves as all regions (1 to 6). I should check the other one too.


I should unpack my stuff in the home account, and then setup VMWare some time today. What a wonderful thing VMWare is! So bad that I have a Windows XP Professional already paid for, so I need to set VMWare up. I would need it to complete (ie. start, and the complete) my B.Sc project on FarsiTeX. Humm, the keyboard can't be better than this. Moreover, it's flat, so I even can rearrange the keys whenever I switched to Dvorak; I should switch tonight or tomorrow.

Ok, the battery light is blinking. Later today.

 To Ottawa

"I can see what you want me to be". Freddy Mercury is still performing. A Jewish man is sitting on the seat next to me. He writes down on the paper in English, and reviews some Hebrew letter forms. I've got to ask him about what he is doing, but not now. At the huge Toronto airport, I met a British, an engineer at Ford. He new a few Persian words and told that he reads Persian poetry, and he was just a random guy off the airport!

Another thing I should set up with the laptop, is to turn off all unnecessary services (postgresql, httpd, network), and do a simple hacking to start independent services in parallel; the current boot time is too much for a laptop to be handy. There is one such system already written, but I will write my own /etc/rc, as that one needs its own init package. I would set up standby too, that helps a lot.

I don't feel good about running the webcam under Linux; at least, it would not work with the Y! Messenger, means, the Y! Messenger do not support webcam under Linux, or I guess so. All in all, the Linux support for my VAIO is more than good. No stoppers yet.

Update (July 15, 2005): I still don't have any advanced power management, gave up on the webcam, firewire doesn't work, etc, etc. And more important is that I've gave up trying for a long time...

 Toronto, The First Look

Well, the battery went off in an hour or two. I need to buy a dual battery ASAP. The laptop, it is a Sony VAIO GRX616SP, with a P4 2.4 Mobile CPU, and 1GB of RAM! 60GB of Hitachi hard space, a DVD/CD reader and writer, and a wonderful 16" TFT display. I have not still found the time to set up my account on it and configure everything, but it works for now.

I bought a couple of nice DVDs, actually three, as one of them is a double collection. I hope I can set it up to play zone 1 DVDs too. Let me try... O it does! I already had Pink Floyd The Wall movie by Allan Parker. What I bought is Queen Live at Wembley Stadium, and The Wall live at Berlin. I'm going to have a nice time :D.

What I have not set up yet, and don't know if I can do, is the power management. I went out of battery last time without any notice. Maybe I ask somebody at the Linux Symposium to help me on that.

This morning I jumped out with Mehrdad to Computer Science department of University of Toronto. Checked the emails, and left there to set the residence at St Michael College, and pick my baggage and leave for Ottawa. A terrible rain started and showered my until I got home. All my documents got wet, but not the maps I bought after that :D. Fortunately I caught the bus, and I will be in Ottawa in four hours. I may not find the time to sign in for the symposium tonight.

In my way back home, I found an electronics shop. It had a wireless LAN card with a reasonable price, but kudzu simply SegFaulted when installing it, so I didn't got it.

The Queen started playing. It's a kind of magic. More later.

 The Journey Begins...

Well, we just left Milan to Toronto. The stop was just two hours, and everything went smooth. I spent the time smoking a few cigarettes, and having a breakfast in the Milan airport. I wanted to try Italian cappuccino, as well as pizzas; so I first had a piece of cake with cappuccino, then a piece of pizza with beer. They were wonderful. Then I thought better I buy my liquor from duty free shop. The woman there helped me a lot, so I finally bought these a bottle of Bombay Saphire for the gin, a Remy Martin as V.S.O.P cognac, an Absolute Vodka instead of Smirnoff, as the Smirnoff was not the original from Russia, and finally a cream liquor named Tia something-I-can't-remember. This is a long 9 hour flight.

Behnam has set up my laptop, now powered by Red Hat Linux 9. I just spent an hour installing Red Hat Updates, and Fedora packages. Red Hat boots very nice, with a few errors on drivers. It recommended my to pass a pci=biosirq parameter to the kernel, so I did and get rid of USB mouse and keyboard errors. The one on FireWire is still there. Better I turn it off, as I'm not going to use the port any soon.


"A new life needs a new blog." -- Bertrand Elizabeth