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So, I recently got a new monitor, a nice big HP LP3065. It’s one of those high end 2560×1600 LCD monitors. When I got it, though, it had a problem with being really yellow, like it was adjusted for 6500K color, which makes sense, considering it’s a design/photography monitor. Anyway, the CD came with a .ICM file that I wanted to try to get working in linux.
The program I found that would lead these in was called xcalib. The problem is that it wouldn’t take this particular .ICM, which I guess is from some newer version or something, I guess… not sure, but it looks for a “vcgt” tag in the .ICM/.ICC file you load in, which this file lacked. It had the ramp in some different encoding, so basically, I couldn’t use it.
So I needed to tweak it very specifically, more so than I could get from just brightness/contrast/gamma. I recall seeing back in the day on the nVidia control panel that you could plot points on a graph and it’d connect them to create a lookup table, but they have since removed this functionality (and on my system, for some unknown reason, I get no Color Correction menu at all.).
I had noticed that the vcgt just has 3 tables, for R, G and B ramps, very simple, so I just needed a way to create these ramps in a convenient way like I did with the old nVidia control panel, so I threw one together. It’s not as complete and a bit rough, and doesn’t support spline curves, but works pretty well. When you’re done and export the .icc file, you just need to load it in with:
I completely rewrote GMEplay, and called it GMEplay2 (yeah, real creative!). I did this because I needed something with worked using SDL audio, because it previously used OSS, which had problems on my system.
The problem is I wanted to avoid using ncurses, so control is a bit crappy. You have to press enter after each keypress for it to register… there’s really nothing I can do about that. If someone has any advice, let me know. I already looked in to what mplayer does, it calls it’s method getch2, but it’s kinda really built in to mplayer, and I really don’t know what the rules are with respect to using code like that… I suppose if it comes down to it, I’ll just use ncurses.
Overall, it might not interface as nicely as the old one, but it’s much cleaner, internally. I also got to learn how to program stuff asynchronously, and work with a second thread… it’s a bit new to me, still. :p
I found this thing that I made, recently. Just a stupid little program. It’ll record the output of a command line program, with timing data, so it plays back exactly.
A capture of the famous star wars asciimation. It has a bit of tearing, though. That’s how I actually received it.
I should post on here more often…. I just haven’t had much going on since last time. I guess there’re a couple projects I’ve worked on. I made a driver for a random device for Linux. Demonstration videos:
Download link and more information available in the first video.
I also made a couple programs that handle extraction and compression of Wii Virtual Console .CCF archives:
I taught myself HTML and CSS. I don’t have much to show for it, though.
Here’s a post layout I made for one site:
Another post layout:
I also made a mock-up for the app store for the Pandora project (http://openpandora.org):
Some random art:
Some of it’s fairly old. All varied in size, media, completeness and quality.
So I was working on my computer with few problems. I had just gotten gentoo 64bit up and running for a few hours and my connection drops. I try to unload the driver (rtl8187) and rmmod gets stuck on waiting for a device.
Now, this has happened to me before; nothing new. So I try installing ndiswrapper, which worked before in 32 bit gentoo as far as having it crash weekly instead of after a couple hours. I guess ndiswrapper doesn’t work in gentoo 64 bit very well, since it was masked with ~amd64 keyword, which means unstable on amd64 architecture. Of course, it doesn’t work. I grabbed the drivers off Realtek’s site and shit didn’t work at all. I installed the driver in ndiswrapper and loaded it in, and the device didn’t show up at all.
Well, I have a backup for that situation, a cheapo Ralink wireless card which, lo and behold, didn’t work. That one showed up as a wireless card with iwconfig and wpa_supplicant and I could try to associate it, but it wouldn’t, it also didn’t show up as a network interface to ifconfig so even if I could get it to associate, I couldn’t use it to connect to the internet.
I kinda knew it wouldn’t work, though. It’s always been kinda dodgy, even in Windows. So I wasn’t too upset from that specifically, but mostly annoyed that nothing was working properly.
What I tried to do next was I opened the window in my room and took the side off the case, thinking it was possibly a heat problem. This actually worked for a few minutes, then the connection dropped again and I tried to reload the driver, which fixes the problem sometimes, when it doesn’t stick rmmod. Of course, it stuck rmmod.
So, let’s just say I was a bit pissed.
I turned the computer off, went in to the case and messed with the card a bit trying to get it off to see if maybe there was something wrong with it but the stupid thing was screwed to a bracket that was riveted to the motherboard. I tried getting to the screw for a while and just couldn’t get at a good angle at all with the screwdriver I had which admittedly is one of those clunky, interchangeable ones.
So after a while of messing with that, I was pretty much at my limit so I just grabbed the card and ripped it off.
After this, the motherboard still works. It still shows up as an option in the BIOS but nothing detects it, obviously.
The moral to this story is don’t get motherboards with onboard wireless or anything by realtek, ever. Realtek stuff sucks and their website is slow and shitty.
Last week Thursday I had DirecTV service installed in my bedroom. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s satellite TV service. The process was relatively quick and painless with no terrible hiccups.
My sister had called them Monday (The servicee is in her name.) and they scheduled for 8AM to 12PM Thursday that they’d come. The guy was a little late, coming around 1PM. No big deal since I had no obligations that day. I’m surprised I’d heard him at the door, though. He came to the side door which is kinda the entrance hall before you get in to the upstairs apartment as well as the basemennt access hallway. The door is on the other side of the house as my room and has no door bell. The front door would’ve been a bit better choice in general since more people are more prepared to answer that door and they tend to have a bell.
All he really had to do was replace the satellite dish then go down in the basement to run the wiring. I’m not sure how he ran the cable all the way up to my room but I imagine he has some kind of tool. He then went up to my room and hooked up the receiver and activated it. What I found interesting is that to activate it they had to call in, but he had to use my cell phone to ddo it. I’m wondering if it was to farm phone numbers to sell to advertisers or something. Fortunately, I’m on the donotcall registry, anyway.
Anyway, when everything was done, everything worked great. I, of course, dug through the menus a bit and didn’t find anything too interesting. What I’d like to do is to be able to change the GUI appearance for the guide and info bars and all that. I remmember the old Adelphia (now Time Warner) digital cable boxes had at least selectable colour schemes but I couldn’t find anything about that. Only adjustments for the closed captioning colours.
Some tips that aren’t too complicated but might be a bit of an oversight. One thing I’ve hated with the DirecTV boxes is the laggy interface. Scrolling through the guide is normally very sluggish, but this is because of the smooth scrolling effect that you can disable. Why they would have such an effect in there and set on by default if the hardware can’t handle it without choking is beyond me, but you can disable it in the Setup -> Display menu. After disabling that, it was very snappy. Another thing you can do, which was a bit hard to find, but I stumbled upon it by accident was the ability to remove the channels which I don’t get from the guide menu. What I had to do was set up a custom favourites list, then tell it to “Add channels I get”, then set that as the active choices for the guide. Not too buried, but it’s obfuscated enough for something that should be enabled by default. To trim the list further, I set the option to remove all the duplicate SD stations since why even have them if I have the HD ones? Next I’ll probably manually go in and remove all the pay-per-view and a few of the last remaining premium stations that didn’t get removed automatically for whatever reason.
One great thing I’ve noticed about these things is the great remote they come with. It’s a simple remote but it surprisingly gets things done very well. I have it programmmed to control the TV and amplifier, but I can pretty much control everything without having to change the device selection. Power turns the TV and receiver on, volume controls the amp, channels and everything else control the satellite receiver, so it’s very convenient. Probably not super fantastically great if I had a billion devices and a home theater but does well for a typical entertainment setup. Mind that before this I couldn’t even adjust the volume on the amp without going up to it and turning the knob, since I got it used without a remote. Now I can safely watch TV from the bed without some commercial playing ridiculously loud and making me get up and adjusting the volume every time.
One thing I like is that the service came with XM radio, so I can listen to that when I’m on the computer or something. The quality is surprisingly not bad. I was kinda wary because it sounds kinda shitty in my sister’s car but on the satellite box it’s pretty clear.
As for the box itself, it looks nice. It’s a DirecTV H20. It’s sleak and silver but not all round and awkward like a lot of modern electronics are. It’s nice and boxy and sophisticated looking. A bit big but that’s I guess to be expected from a 4 year old HD receiver. An issue I’ve had with it is that it runs very hot. I put my hand over the top and was surprised how hot it got. Not an issue since it’s still pretty much winter here but it’s starting to get a bit warmer and the summer can get up in to the 90s degrees fahrenheit so I’m a bit worried it might overheat and become unreliable. I’m thinking they should’ve put a cooling fan inside of it. To be honest, I would do it myself if the box wasn’t on loan.
The satellite service itself meets expectations. Quality is good, except some movie channels look kinda like I’m watching a bootleg but it could’ve been those specific movies.
And a final note, excuse any and all the typing mistakes, please. I’m on the EEE, which upon further use, has a pretty lousy keyboard.
If anyone sees this blog, post a comment about what you want me to build in Blockland. Keep it reasonable and mature, but nothing too cliche; I’m not going to make another house. If I made it, I’ll post screenshots and brick save files.
Sorry about the long rambling post to anybody who reads this. It was late at night and I was tired so I kinda went on and on and made a very boring article. I don’t expect anybody to read the whole thing, but there is some useful specific information and it’s organized alright.
By the way, if anyone has any information on replacement or high capacity batteries, leave a comment since I’ve looked and not found anything, but I’m curious as to their existance.
I just recently got an Asus EEE laptop; the 1002HA model. I was going to get the 1000HE which I guess is a bit better but he site I wanted to get it from was out of them when I looked. Either way, I’m pretty happy with it so far.
The OS that came on it was Windows XP Home. It seemed a bit slow to start and just didn’t perform well at all. The computer is similarly specced to my old desktop which ran XP quite well, but I had wanted to put linux on it anyway, so I put linux on it.
This was a bit of an ordeal. I tried Ubuntu-EEE, which is now called Easy Peasy, but following the instructions to make an install disc trhough a USB drive did not work on this particular EEE, so rather than screwing around too much with it (Though there was plenty of screwing around.) I decided to try debian.
That was a bit smoother to get the basic system on it, but I couldn’t get wireless AT ALL. This laptop has an Atheros A928x wireless card whose driver was added very recently in to the linux kernel, and without networking, it was very hard to get anything to work or compile or anything. Eventually, trying to install compat-wireless-old (Old because the kernel was pre 2.6.27.) I got a lot of compile errors about the code itself, not about missing headers or anything like that, after a bit of messing with the code, I kinda just said screw it.
After that I tried EEEbuntu, which is different from Ubuntu-EEE. Install was smooth and quick. Most things worked OK out of the box and it was useful right away. I had problems with the wireless in that it’d drop, but at least it worked enough that I could install the required packages and update the wireless drivers. It uses kernel 2.6.27 so I was able to use the compat-wireless package that worked. After that was compiled and installed, I rebooted and the wireless hasn’t dropped since. I switched from gdm/gnome to xdm/xfce to make bootup a little faster and the system more responsive overall. Since then, it’s been running great. Smooth, responsive, fast and hasn’t crashed after running for several days straight.
The box it came in looked like something you’d get an outfit in as a gift. It was a black rectangular box that simply says “Eee”. Opening it up revealed the laptop in one compartment and a smaller box that’s built in to the main box for the charger. The laptop comes in it’s own cloth carrying sleeve. Underneath the laptop is the resource DVD, which contains replacement Windows files, drivers and some other software; pretty much enough to bring the EEE back to how it was when you bought it. There was also the instructions, battery, warranty card and battery notice. The battery came in an ESD protective baggy. Nothing else of note in the packaging.
The cloth bag is pretty nice. Nothing fancy but durable enough and soft. It’s black so it’s pretty neutral and not too ugly. Small, of course, as it fits the laptop like a glove. The problem with this is, the charger does not fit in the bag, unless possibly if you cram it in; I haven’t tried, though. When you open the bag for the first time, the laptop will be covered in a foamy paper wrapping that you need to take the laptop out of, then after opening the laptop, there’s a good bit of tape around the screen bezel. There were 2 layers of it on mine for some reason.
Initial setup is easy. Pop the battery in and plug it in, then turn it on. After that it’s the standard Windows XP first run setup where it asks what your name is, if you want to register, if you want automatic updates on or not, and so on.
Initial bootup was kinda slow. Norton bugs you about whether you want to activate it on startup. First thing I noticed was, it came with a lot of programs installed. Even some redundant ones. There was the standard, earlier mentioned Norton Security Suite offer. There was Skype, a DVD player, and some other junk. There was Microsoft Works and Star Office for some unknoen reason. I could maybe understand their choice but you could probably have just put Star Office on there and nobody would care. Works can’t even open or save Word documents last I checked, so it’s pretty useless for compatibility reasons. I didn’t get a chance to use the provided Windows OS very much so I don’t have a very strong or extremely credible opinion on it, but I wasn’t too happy with the default software setup. Too bloated with too many built in utilities and other silliness for a low-power netbook.
Let’s get back to some more hardware. The computer itself looks very nice. It was cheap at around $430 but doesn’t look it at all. The top shell is grey aluminum and the bottom is black plastic. I think it would’ve been abetter option to have both parts aluminum for heat dissipation but it doesn’t seem to need it and would add to the cost. Around the seam where the top and bottom meet is a silver border, which I think looks pretty sharp. A small detail but looks good. When you open it up, it still looks nice. The screen has black glossy bezel, like that of a Playstation 3, or any other recent Sony product. The keyboard area is mostly shades of dark grey. The wrist and track pad area are plastic, but have a brushed aluminum finish. The trackpad, which has the same finish but a darker colour has a single silver coloured bar underneath it that you press on the left for left click and the right for right click. The keyboard is a pretty standard laptop keyboard. I kinda like the layout though, moreso than some other laptops. It’s a bit condensed with a lot of keys stuck under Fn functions, (Which are mostly handled in hardware except a few more complex things like screen on/off, volume. The standard keyboard functions as well as the screen brightness are handled in hardware, though.) but the placement is very reasonable and intuitive. The computer has very few media buttons or hot keys. The only non keyboard buttons there are is the power button and some other button which has a function under windows, that which I have no idea of. As far as indicator lights goes, it has the battery light (off when running off battery, orange when charging, green when fully charged.) a light with a padlock next to it–not sure what that does, probably a BIOS feature or something built in to some application in Windows–a hard disk activity light (blue), Wifi light (blue) and a power indicator (blue).
The specs aren’t too bad for such a small and cheap laptop. This one has the Intel Atom N270 running at 1.6Ghz. It features hyperthreading which is arguably alright, not sure the impact it makes. It has 1GB of DDR2-533 RAM and Intel Mobile GMA945 graphics which, really, are a shit-house but I don’t see myself or anybody playing very demanding games on this, anyway. It has gigabit ethernet and 802.11b/g/(n?) wireless, 3 USB ports, an SD card slot as well as 1/8″ line out and mic jacks.
Now for the hardware gripes. While the new type of battery is innovative, (Litium polymer based batteries supposedly are less susceptible to exploding.) it’s weaker than the batteries in most other EEEs. It claims 5 hour as opposed to the claimed 9.5 hours in other models, but really scores much lower from what I’ve read in reviews. Another issue I have is the power jack pops out way too easily. I can just move it wrong and it’ll fall out; a bit annoying. The webcam, I didn’t use too much, but from running the test program, the video quality was quite poor and it got about 2 to 5 frames per second and it’s native resolution was higher than the display’s resolution. I would’ve preferred a VGA resolution camera if it had a better picture and frame rate overall.
Apart from a few complaints, I like this laptop. It does what I need and works well. It’s not a powerhouse, but it never runs hot and the price was right. It feels solid but light and doesn’t look bad. I recommend it but if you can get the 1000HE, go for that instead, I think; similar but ever so slightly higher specs, a bigger battery and a few bucks cheaper.
I’ve been playing a game on and off for the past year called Blockland. It’s an online Lego building game with a pretty small group of users. Users can run their own servers. There’s no main server other than the one that lists the available servers so it’s nothing like an MMO.
Anyway, I’m posting to talk about some random things I’ve done in blockland that I find worth sharing. This includes some builds, addons and silly little utilities.
As far as builds, there’s a handful I’ve made recently that I feel came out very well. I’ve taken some screen shots.
This one is an overview of them all, to get some more details you can go here for the rest.
I’ve also thrown together some simple addons that I’ve found useful. I created a set of brick prints (Prints were what I used for example on the letters on the playstation, just graphics that you can paste on bricks.) that include all of the printable characters in the 7 bit ASCII set. I did that because blockland’s built in letter prints are missing all lowercase and most of the symbols. You can get that here. Just put the .zip file in your Blockland/Add-Ons directory, still zipped.
Another I made was a set of sounds that you could use in events. They’re just some hand selected sounds from Duke Nukem 3D including some enemy/duke sounds as well as environmental sounds. That is available here.
I’ve also made a silly little utility in C that will take a text file and put it in a blockland brick save that you can load. It requires the ASCII prints set and is suitable on a Slate map. You can download it here. That package contains source and binaries for Windows and Linux. To use it just open a terminal, go to the directory the executable is in and run it like this:
./txt2bls sample_text_filename.txt >text.bls
or in windows:
txt2bls.exe sample_text_filename.txt >text.bls
Not terribly useful but I think it’s kinda fun and neato, the only issue is prints do not transfer over automatically. People need to download the addon themself to see the prints. I had an older version that’d export to blockland’s built in brick letter prints but it pretty much destroyed most documents and just looked terrible overall.
That’s all. Hope you find this stuff useful or something.