Another Blog

Mostly about computers, generally Linux-related

Google SoC and Plan9

I noticed Summer of Code applications are open and am planning to jump on the opportunity. This year I am finally both elligible and, to a great degree, free for most of the summer. Although coding starts a month before I finish school, I am confident that I can handle both tasks. The downside will be that I can’t really be away for weeks at a time, as I had planned.

However, I made up my mind. If I am accepted, I will take part. The money involved is not by far negligible, but it is secondary to other prospects such as actually contributing to open source and learning a great deal in the process. I have become quite immersed in Plan 9 and am reading a lot in order to formulate a competitive application for a bug-tracking system (seen as a fs, of course), but I suspect getting accepted is quite hard, although folks on IRC are more than helpful and optimistic.

Between a kernel that doesn’t properly support my motherboard and strange VmWare issues, I finally got Plan9 working. I am thrilled at the new ideas it brings forth, but a bit disappointed and often annoyed at the heavy use of the mouse. Habits and lack of space make me want to just get my hand off it asap, but I will be as patient as it takes. Especially because I am quite pressured: deadlie for applications is Saturday, but I plan on submitting a draft to the Google group by Thursday evening.

It’s off to my fresh Plan9 install then, as well as the very long, but equally interesting documents.

March 20, 2007 Posted by | google, plan9 | Leave a comment

The File Compress Utility — Coolest So Far

So I helped RobyC and D00kie with their Shannon-Fano algorithm implementation this past week and it was by far the most interesting thing I have ever programmed. Only two days for the initial program in C, two more for a basic C# port and another day and a half for a Visual C++ port. The latter ended up very messy, with unmanaged C code that was being called from a .NET interface. Again, the productivity vim and Ion3 offered me was no match even for the awesome IntelliSense (as much as I disapprove of Microsoft, Visual C# is just too darn easy and fun to use).

Most problems with the inital C code were based, as usual, on lack of attention in writing code, although the printf debugger (tm afaik) helped me do away with them quickly. I also got in trouble by forgetting about endianness — I spent at least half an hour looking at a hex dump and cursing because bytes were ordered differently in words. I was plain stupid at that time. But overall, the satisfaction of “diff infile outfile” returning nothing on a 80+MiB tarball was unique thus far. I was especially impressed at my apparent skill with pointers. Maybe the classes help, too.

March 20, 2007 Posted by | programming | Leave a comment

Window Managers

I am so damn happy with Ion3, but I browsed recent emails on the mailing list recently and it looks like the maintainer is acting like a jerk. However, it was worth reading, because a post lead me to dwm.

dwm stands for Dynamic Window Manager and is written only in C (no scripting of any kind — not sure I like that though). Configuration is made before compilation, via C preprocessor directives; I am not quite sure as to whether this presents any advantage. Anyway, the attitude on the website stinks of 1337 from a mile on, so I thought I should give it a shot — maybe it actually is as good as they advertise it, though I seriously doubt it. My first thought of it was that it had ignorantly few keystrokes defined, compared to Ion3, which is also minimalism embodied. I’ll update my description if I find time to play with dwm, which I should this weekend.

I also came across TinyWM, which is only 58 lines of C code, though probably not usable. An interesting exercise though.

I’m tired as hell from school and Priest’s Revolution is abusing my eardrums. I love Fridays.

March 9, 2007 Posted by | linux | Leave a comment

Computational Physics

I got this monumental shock today when I went to my first Computational Physics class. I thought it would be a uselessly hard, overly theoretical course that is not connected to computers. On the contrary, 70% of the grade is based on part of a program I need to write. I already chose my task, which is finding the common surface between two Gauss bells (one ideal, and the other real). It will be my first opportunity to code something useful to another area and I look forward to getting started. I was thinking of including a Gtk2 interface, but it is not essential — a graphical representation is not required.

The teacher looks like a typical elderly geek, a helpful, non-ignorant, but probably fully vertical man. Although the course is optional and there are very few of us taking it, we’re probably going to have to work hard for an A; but hard work is not what I fear.

C is, of course, the language of choice; its speed and simplicity will allow me full liberty, although I will probably need to be careful with floating point operations (which abound in my task). It will be interesting to see the errors that occur, as well as the manner in which our various programs will be combined into a single one (the professor has great plans, but I think he’s biting more than he can chew). Time permitting, I might volunteer to help glue code together, although I shiver at the thought of what I might find in others’ code. I have this strange lean towards never changing code that’s not mine.

March 3, 2007 Posted by | programming, school | Leave a comment

Fidling around with SPICE

My roumored-to-be-impossible-to-pass Electrical Engineering course uses SPICE for lab applications. It was quite easy to install, just a simple, stable emerge, but running spice in the command line has proved much more difficult that I had expected. Not because of the awkward interface (which is quite awkward, by the way — no basi line editing), but because of my poor understanding of the concepts at work. I ultimately managed to get things started, although an exact example from my lab notes did not work as expected — I need to look into it tomorrow or something.

While it’s not going all that great, I love learning new things and this is one area which appeals to me. The course today (first one this semmester) proved to be quite boring, although I can get the entire courses off the Internet. The only problem is I have to go to class — an overcrowded, uncomfortable room, with an improvised projection device. And a grouchy teacher, but apparently my kind of guy — maybe this will change if I fail.

March 3, 2007 Posted by | school | Leave a comment

Hello world!

I started this blog for the n-th time, aiming for regular updates. Some of my past experiences (especially with computers) deserved to be logged somehow, if not for other reasons, than because I might need to look up solutions later.

March 2, 2007 Posted by | abstract | Leave a comment