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October 2001 Archives

October 2, 2001

Dave, I don't look good poor.

Funny quote that I saw on a t-shirt yesterday:

rm -rf /bin/laden

Got a UPS from Best Buy. Plugged it in, turned it on, no power light. Plugging things into the sockets didn't get power. <sigh>

I returned the UPS to Best Buy and exchanged it for another. This one worked without a problem. It's fishy, though -- this new UPS has a telephone cord in it (the UPS also acts as a surge protector, and has plugs to surge protect the phone line as well), and my original one didn't. Makes me think that someone bought the thing before, it didn't work, and they returned it to Best Buy...

I hooked my server and my DSL modem up to the UPS (after charging the UPS' battery), and it seems to work fine. I disconnected the power to the UPS and the server and modem continued working fine. Cool.

This should help because I suspect that some of the problems that I've been seeing lately (DSL modem hanging, server hanging) are due to power brownouts.

The UPS has a serial out as well, so that I can connect it to the server and make it automatically shut down. I haven't had a chance to look into that yet, but I will soon. I see that there's various linux packages out there to handle this kind of thing.

Saw ABC's new show Alias. Looks pretty interesting. As Tracy said, "you love all that conspiracy crap."

I guess I do. :-)

Got a whole bunch of pictures developed at Meijer. Never again. They screwed up a whole bunch of pictures (double exposed, etc.). I know that it was their error and not ours because we got CDs of the pictures as well, and the pictures are [mostly] ok there. <sigh>

Some of the pictures are from some very old film -- I even had some old shots from Berkeley. It's amusing 'cause I bought a disposable camera while in Berkeley, and didn't notice that it was a "Celebrate 2000!" camera that put captions and graphics on the bottoms of each picture. Doh!

So the new pictures are up at http://jeff.squyres.com/pictures/. The new items are: Berkeley, House, Old Looieville apartment, and Trip to San Francisco.

Lesson learned today: M-x ispell-buffer sucks.

Never run ispell (a popular unix spelling checker) in latex mode in emacs. It misses many, many things. I don't know if there is a particular reason why it misses things, or if you can code up your latex such that it won't miss things. <shrug>

I learned this by having Lummy point out numerous spelling errors and typos in the LAM paper today, on files that I was sure that I had run M-x ispell-buffer on. I ran M-x ispell-buffer on them again, and they came up dry when I could plainly see the mistakes in the text. I double checked my private dictionary and none of those [mistake] words were in there.

I ran ispell outside of emacs and it found/corrected all the errors. Arrggh!!

Part of the niceness of running ispell in emacs is that it will skip all (well, most) of the latex formatting commands. So now you have to skip them manually. Arrgh.

I added the {shrug} function to jjc today.

I got a replacement paper handling pad thingy for my laser printer today. It was rather difficult to install. More specifically, it was rather difficult to get the old pad out (had to use a utility knife).

Hopefully, this new pad will fix the multiple-sheet-feed problems I've been having with this printer for quite a while. I got really fed up the other day when I printed off a 40 page document on my printer and it took forever because I had to individually feed each sheet. Takes a lot of effort and continued participating on my part, too, which is not desirable.

I asked about printers to a bunch of friends and got a bunch of recommendations. It turns out that in general, vertical sheet feeders (which I have -- the HP LaserJet 1100) suck. I have no other problems with my printer itself -- it prints fine. I'm not too worried about its speed, either. I just want to be able to print documents and not have to be involved with every sheet. The next laser that I buy will probably have a horizontal feed tray.

Funniest comment from the recommendations of my friends:

"I have a HP LaserJet 4100 at home (that's probably a bit too much). ... I have noticed that when I print, the lights dim."

Anyway, I was getting fairly despondent and resigning myself to shelling out a few hundred dollars to buy a new printer when Johnney pointed out a handy web site: http://fixyourprinter.com/. It had a replacement part for exactly the problem that I am having (multiple sheet feeds). And it was only about $25. So I ordered it.

It seems to be a mom-and-pop organization, but the replacement pad came in about a day or two. As I said above, I put it in last night. It seems to work; we'll see how it holds up. I'll keep the journal updated, 'cause if it works, it saved me hundreds of dollars!

October 5, 2001

I call it my "Deluxe Severance Package"

Doh. I left Looieville in a rush today and totally forgot to bring the tape of last week's Enterprise episode for Brian, and, even more importantly, forgot to bring my WAP for tomorrow's OSCAR working meeting.


After much deliberation, Brian and I finally solved the problem by going out and buying a linksys DSL router/switch/WAP at a local Circuit City. After this meeting, it will be going to Brian's dad in South Bend. :-)

Perk is getting into the wonders of IMAP.

Mmmm..... IMAP......

Some beer, some laughs, and a lot of technical discussions later, it's now after the OSCAR IU meeting. We had three teleconferences during the 2 day session to mix with the other developers who couldn't be there.

In short, it was a good meeting, and much was accomplished. There's still oodles to be done, but we finally have a set of concrete stakes in the ground to move on from.

I downloaded Star Office today, just for the helluvit. We'll see if it's worthwhile.

I've found an annoying feature in Mozilla -- if you're in a different virtual desktop and a popup dialogue box appears from Mozilla itself (say, asking about cookies or moving between SSL/non-SSL pages), it will take control of the window manager and switch back to the virtual desktop where Mozilla lives.

That's quite annoying. I wonder if there's an [undocumented or poorly documented] way to disable that?

October 7, 2001

Slinging chocolate-filled pastries

Great quote in response to my last journal entry:

"IMAP, YOUMAP, let's all MAP together!"

ND vs. Pitt -- we looked a lot better. Of course, Pitt is also an unranked opponent, so that may not be saying much. But if nothing else, it gels the team together to form some kind of cohesive playing strategies. I would have liked to see a little more flexibility than just "run the option" 6,000,000 times, though.

But we won, so I can't complain much. Rock on!

We actually had tickets to the game but woke up on Saturday morning and decided that we were too travel-weary to drive up to SBN and back in a weekend for a minor game where the weather had potential to be crappy. So we totally wimped out and watched it in the comfort of our own home. :-)

We rearranged the furniture in our TV room a little yesterday (after much debate). We put the stereo speakers on top of the entertainment center (they sound a lot better up there -- I'm no audiophile, but there's no intermediate furniture blocking the sound and it makes a noticeable difference), and tilted our couch/love seat/coffee table/end table to face the TV more directly. We also put the entertainment center further back against the wall (since the speakers are no longer on the ground -- you kinda have to see it to understand what I'm talking about).

Every once in a while (never paid much attention to figuring out the pattern), my clock is way off. So I just changed my BIOS clock on my latop to GMT; I think there's some Mandrake scripts that periodically sync the software clock against the hardware clock, and it assumes that the hardware clock is GMT.

I had previously set something in linuxconf saying "hardware clock is not GMT", but that didn't seem to help. Changing the hardware clock to GMT seems to help... we'll see.

In mucking with BIOS settings, I somehow disabled my internal ethernet jack. It took me quite a while to figure out that it was just BIOS settings and not linux going whacky. Arrghhh...

I'll probably do a little LAM 6.5.5 porting today, followed by reviving lamtree so that we can have something demo-able by SC2001.

October 12, 2001

Dave, Ed quits three times a week

Whoops. The disk on lsc.nd.edu filled up today, causing all manner of Badness.

The web logs hadn't been archived in quite a while, and they just filled up all space. So I moved them out to AFS and downloaded them to my laptop. Pure-text compression is amazing -- downloaded 99MB across my DSL in 2:35, and 395MB in 7:26.

bzip2'ed down, it's less than 20MB.


My DSL modem periodically (and randomly) freezes up. The only way to fix it is to power cycle it. I think I've mentioned this in previous journal entries.

This is somewhat annoying as it only tends to happen when I am away from home and need to access my machines remotely. I am therefore unable to power cycle my modem, and life sucks.

I got a UPS to see if I could alleviate this problem -- thinking that it was perhaps due to dirty power.

Apparently, it's not. The modem froze yesterday as well. :-(

I finally decided to call my DSL ISP (DirectTVDSL) and ask about this. Their solution: move the DSL modem physically 3 feet away from any other electrical device.

Sounds kinda sketchy, but I'll give it a whirl, I guess...

We got a new phone book today.

Progress is actually being made on OSCAR documentation. I spent too much time the other day tex-izing the installation document for 1.1. Tom from ORNL tex-ized the "introduction" doc. And Jim from LLNL and Mike from ORNL/Wisconsin both just got write access to the OSCAR repository to write to the 2.x architecture document. Woo hoo!

We've rolled a whole bunch of LAM patches into a CVS branch for LAM 6.5, and are gearing up for a 6.5.5 release. After a few minor glitches, the testing seems to be going well.

ND's IRIX machine seems to have locked up, though. The last load factor that I saw from uptime was 38 -- I think someone is DOS'ing the machine. My session is now hung; I can initiate new ssh sessions, and they connect, but then nothing happens. <sigh>

Our neighbors are moving.

Perhaps I need to take more showers.

Jeremy has started a journal. It has my favorite picture of him on it, too -- the Blair Witch Jeremy ("I'm so sorry...").

Helped a friend order a new Dell Inspiron 4000 laptop (similar to mine). It finally came yesterday, and I spent a little time last night setting it up. Nice machine.

It came with w2k and office XP (although she ordered office 2k --
had to call customer support and get them to send office 2k CDs). Interestingly enough, it came with speech-to-text software as well. We played with it a little, and it was surprisingly accurate with no training.

I said, "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" and it just magically appeared in Word. Kewl.

On the flip side of w2k, though, I've been trying to figure out how to do peer-to-peer shares efficiently at my church. They have various file-sharing needs, and currently do it in a mish-mash manner (everyone shares some set of specific folders to everyone else).

Among other reasons why this is bad, there's no file protection in this model because most of the machines are w98. There's a small number of w2k machines in the office, and I set about consolidating all the shares onto a single w2k machine so that I could have proper file permissions.

The only problem was -- I couldn't seem to set file permissions on the w2k box! It took me a long time to figure this out, but apparently Gateway shipped the w2k machine with FAT32 as the filesystem instead of NTFS. Permissions and quotas and whatnot require NTFS.


Helpful Johnny found a conversion tool (convert.exe) that converts from FAT32 to NTFS (I found it very amusing that a Windoze guy I know said "you can't do that"). This should fix my problems...

We'll see.

October 13, 2001

Copy that, Doug, but we have lost interest in peas -- repeat we have lost interest in peas. Over and out from canned goods.

Got the new Mozilla today -- 0.9.5.

Still has the text focus problems. I've also hit a page or two that didn't work properly (telocity.com's signin page didn't work for some reason), but I do the majority of my browsing through it these days.

I finally hooked up the serial line from my UPS to my DSL server today. I used the genpowerd package that someone wrote (http://freshmeat.net/projects/genpower/) for the actual monitoring. It dumps things into syslog, so I'll see if I'm having any dirty power issues.

I also moved my DSL modem a few feet away from the server, switch, and UPS. We'll see if that helps the stability of my DSL modem.

I gave my dad a primitive way to upload images to my DSL server so that he could make them show up on http://www.squyres.com/~mike/pictures/, but he somehow managed to delete my index.php that did the upload.


This from the guy (back in the early 80s) who, when he got his first unix machine (actually, a Xenix machine), decided that he didn't like the name "root", and used the included user-management tool to change it to "mike". The machine started acting strangely after this, so he rebooted it and was rewarded with the message "No root!" repeated, over and over again. He had to call tech support and describe what he did. Astounded, they had to ask, "You did what?!?" Much laughter.

Modern Unix systems don't depend on the name root, and who would have thought that that would hose the entire system, but it's still pretty funny. :-)

Anyway, I finally spent the time again today to re-figure out how to do HTTP file uploads with PHP. It turns out that this is key in your HTML:


The enctype part is pretty critical.

The company that I bought by printer replacement part from (http://www.fixyourprinter.com/) seems to be off the air -- the web site has been down for a while now. The name still resolves, but there's no web server on the other end.

I wonder if I was their last customer...?

The ND game was not on here in Louisville for its first hour (nor via PPV), so I listened via real audio again. The real audio seems to lag AM radio by about 30 seconds. I can hear Tracy down the hall swear and then about 30 seconds later find out what she is annoyed about (yet another Irish interception, <sigh>).

Dave, are you gonna fire Matthew?

Our neighbors across the street are having some kind of Halloween party. A million junior high kids have showed up, all in uniform.

Don't they know that there's a Notre Dame football game on right now?!?

In the first quarter of my retirement fund at IU, I've already lost money. Ugh!

In all fairness, it's probably due to the crash after Sept. 11.

BTW, in my last entry, I accidentally put some raw HTML rather than showing what I meant to show. Here's the key part for HTTP file uploads:

 <form enctype="multipart/form-data" action="./" method="post"> 

Again, the enctype is the critical part here.

The game here on Looieville NBC is running over, so we don't have TV coverage of the ND game yet -- it's almost 1.5 hours after the ND game started. Ugh.

The real audio announcers think they're funny, "The Irish are throwing left-to-right across your computer screen..."

All in all, it looked like it was raining like hell in South Bend, but we managed to beat West Virginia, 34-24. It was fairly evenly matched, but we came up with some big plays in the second half and wore down their offense. Looks like the Irish are starting to come together as a team.

October 15, 2001

They had to call in his manager from Memphis... I don't want to talk about it!

I upgraded to Mandrake 8.1 today.

That was the smoothest linux install that I've ever encountered. Wow!

It identified everything correctly -- got my video (1400x1050), sound, ethernet... everything.

I kept my notes from my last install and I'm still doing some extra configuring of my setup, but I'm amazed at what the installer did for me already. Finally -- Linux installers are getting mature!

The shock will probably wear off sometime soon and I'll find the real shortcomings of 8.1 soon, but I'm impressed with the start that it's gotten so far. And KDE 2.2.1 has some nice new features.

One thing that really bothered me from my installation of 8.0 was that I hadn't selected to "install everything". I kept having to go back to the CD's and install some RPMs that were not initially installed. I cursed myself for not having selected "install everything" during the install.

Well, I found out why I didn't -- that option doesn't seem to exist anymore. For example, Mandrake didn't install pine, which I thought was weird. In all fairness, that could well be due to my eclectic selection of packages during install (which was one of the few things that could still be a little better during the install, even though it has improved since the 8.0 installer). <shrug>

Which turned out to be ok -- the 8.1 RPM was pine 4.33, and I want 4.40. 4.40 must not have been released before the cutoff. So I built 4.40 from source and everything is fine.

I also selected to use ext3 instead of reiserfs. Initial experience is that it might be a little slower than reisserfs. No hard data yet, and indeed, no real testing -- just a gut feeling (took forever to copy all the RPMs from the installation CDs to my hard drive).

The tech-geek M-clone guy on ABC's new show Alias is really, really funny.

I really hate AIX.

It has been causing no end of problems with LAM in trying to release LAM 6.5.5.

Yesterday, we were seeing random lockups in the test suite. The problem seems to be in the lamd; after many, many hours of chasing this down, it may be a latent bug that has been there for quite a long time. It seems that AIX's select() may be detecting situations that no other OS is detecting.

Our use of select() in the lamd is used to test a set of read fd's and exception fd's. Some fd's may be in both sets. For whatever reason, the lamd code assumed that select() would never indicate that a fd would have both read and exception status true in a single pass through the control loop. The logic is a bit squirrelly, and I haven't figured it out yet, but it seems that this hasn't happened before (barring failures of course -- this is normal operation of LAM) on other OS's.

So I'm still trying to figure out the exact problem (it got too late for me to think clearly last night), but it has something to do with this.

Ok, so this technically isn't AIX's fault at all because it's perfectly legal for select() to return multiple statuses on the same fd (yes Rich, I know!). But it's easier to blame AIX. After all, it has worked reliably for years on other operating systems!!


Heading up to Bloomies today to teach Andy's OpSys class (note to self: tell the students that AIX sucks) because he's at Oopsala.

October 17, 2001

The price is wrong, bitch!


It seems that I've been giving the fix-your-printer URL as http://www.fixyourprinter.com/, and I've been wondering why it's always down. It's actually http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/, and it is alive and well.

Anyway, for $25, they sold me a part which has effectively eliminated the need to buy a new laser printer. Quite a cost savings!

If you've got printer problems, go check out their site. The only thingy that I can personally vouch for is the sheet feed fixer thingy for the HP Personal LaserJet 1100 -- it seems to work great!

Taught Lummy's OS class yesterday (well, half of it -- the TA did the first half, and I did the second half). It seemed to go over pretty well, and the students seemed to actually understand what I was talking about (virtual memory stuff); lots of good questions and discussion.

Got an e-mail from Dr. Sauer of the EE dept from ND yesterday, of all things, about MPI! It seems that he's got some seniors doing some work on a project that they want to use MPI for, and he was asking about some good pointers for starting out with MPI.

I pointed him out to the LAM site and to the excellent NCSA MPI tutorial.

AIX is really giving us problems with LAM. Problems are not always repeatable. Ugh!

There may be some problems, or it may all be due to AIX suckage. After two days, I still can't tell. <sigh>

Excite has removed its ZDNet news category. Arrggh!! I have 4 sections of news on my home page: top stories, tech news, ZDNet news, and "oddly enough" news. The ZDNet stories were frequently better than the tech news stories.

This sucks.

OTOH, I just discovered that Excite offers RSS feeds for Slashdot and Freshmeat. Who knew? So now on my Excite home page, I see the most recent titles for both /. and fm. It just seems odd somehow...

October 18, 2001

Dave, I have been working here three years, and I have been thrice shafted.

I did it today; I switched my home page from Excite to Yahoo!.

I guess the elimination of ZDNet news did it for me. Plus they started pop-under ads. So they're no better than Yahoo! w.r.t. ads, and Yahoo! a) still has ZDNet news, and b) I have a good friend working there, I have no excuse not to have http://my.yahoo.com/ as my home page.

We'll see how it works out.

Wow -- I got a mail from Scott Adams today!

A while ago, I submitted a story about Induhviduals. Here's what I sent to Scott:

There must be induhviduals in the tech support center of my internet service provider. Here's an e-mail that I received from them recently:
"We are currently writing this to confirm the status of your DSL service. We are aware that some of you are currently down and we are working to resolve the issues. If you are currently down please respond to this Email..."

If my connection to the internet was down, how, exactly, would I either receive or reply to the e-mail?

How cool would be it if it got published in the next DNRC newsletter?

Answer: very cool!

I can't believe the talk about a national ID system for the USA. Is anyone else scared?

I have visions of "Papers, please!"

And how, exactly, will a national ID system prevent terrorism?

The only thing that a national ID system will do is allow the government to track innocent citizens closer. The potential for misuse here is amazing. And there's the whole security-of-the-national-ID-database issue, too. If the IRS can't keep its computers safe, what do you think the chances of the national ID database (where all your personal, private information is stored, by the way) being kept secure are?

Trust me -- I know the computer geeks in our government. There's not enough good ones to keep our personal data safe.

I'm scared.

I just noticed that 'drake 8.1 fixed a major problem that I had in 'drake 8.0. I have my pine setup such that I can link from URLs in e-mails to netscape (yes, this is quite a common feature for most mailers, but it's a little wonky for a text-based green screen e-mail client).

This link took the form of an outside script that calls 'netscape
-remote "openURL(url)"
'. This didn't work in Mandrake 8.0 for some reason -- it would give some bizarre X error about no children on the same display.

But it works again in 8.1. Woo hoo!

Linking to a browser from e-mail is soooo time-saving (rather than cutting the URL from the mail client and pasting it into the browser). I'm extremely happy that it works again!

I was in Wallgreens earlier this week and bought two of cheapie their scented candles on a whim. They're in little clear glass jars.

It's kinda interesting to watch them burn -- the wax actually liquefies (sp?) and sits there while the wick burns, slowly evaporating / vaporizing / whatevering. Looks kinda cool to see the top 1/3 of a candle as liquid.

Smells nice, too.

I got a new flavor of spam today -- maybe others have gotten this before, but I'm pretty sure that it's the first time that I've gotten spam like this.

It pretended to be a mail intended for someone else -- a mail apparently intended for a friend telling them about "this great deal" that they found. It even included supposedly personal details like coming over for dinner later.

Spammers continually find new lows. How do they sleep at night?

October 22, 2001

So dinner and a desk? What's next? Are you going to get him a pony?

My new Yahoo! front page doesn't reload every few minutes like my Excite page did.

So I have to manually reload to get new headlines, etc. I guess I got spoiled by Excite.

I also liked the index of stories that Excite puts next to each article, so you can quickly jump to any other story in the section. With Yahoo!, you have to click Back to get back to the index page, and then go to the story that you want from there. Harumph.

OTOH, Yahoo news stories have much more HTML-ized content rather than Excite's mostly just plain text. That's kinda nice.

I just got the weirdest call from DirectTV.

I don't have DirectTV satellite service; I have cable. I have telocity DSL, which was recently bought out by DirectTV (hence, it's now DirectTVDSL).

I got an automated call saying that DirectTV had determined that there was a problem with my DirectTV receiver. Press 1 if it is connected into a phone line, and press 2 if it is not. I hung up.

I wonder if that was a bizarre marketing trick to try and get me to sign up for their satellite service (which doesn't really make sense, because I've already received snail mail promotions from them trying to get me to sign up -- "now that you're a part of DirectTVDSL, you're eligible for satellite service discounts!"), or whether they just screwed up in their systems and somehow have me listed as having satellite service.

Either way, I'm going to be checking my bills closely over the next month...

Hah! I had no idea that LAM's flatd was used to pass the argv from mpirun to each of the destination nodes.

So that's what the flatd is for!


Tracy and I went up to the ND/USC game this weekend.

We went up on Friday and met my parents for the pep rally. Afterwards, we went to dinner at the University Club with Maddog and Maddog, Jr. (his little brother TJ, who is a freshman). A good time was had by all, but I think Maddog mortified my mother with some of his stories.

We went to Senior Bar afterwards and ran into Cristina, Vernon, V, Marty, and some random drunk people. I chatted with Larry (Sr. Bar manager for a while); he's a great guy. I unexpectedly ran into Peggy and Amy Keough who I hadn't seen in years; we chatted for a while and reminisced about old alligator wrestling matches... good times.

Tracy and I stayed at Dog's place. On Saturday morning, we roller bladed to the Jean and Russ tailgater. It was way the hell out by the credit union -- you can't get much farther away from the stadium. Whew! Bunches of other people showed up -- Miker, Mike (yes, they're two entirely different people) and his brother and sister (don't remember their names...:-\ ), Jeff and Dana, etc. There were kids running around everywhere.

We managed to catch the end of the band concert at the Archy building, and then met up with my parents for a little while before the game.

We met up with Katie and Scott outside the gate of the stadium, and went up with them to the student section. Mike was there, and we were later joined by Arun and Pete. It was good to see the everyone again and be generally obnoxious. After the halftime show, Tracy and I moved to section 106 (GA's, baby -- you get to sit down!) where we had some friends with extra tickets.

Wow -- I had forgotten how having higher seats really makes a difference in how much of the game you can see. In the student section, you're still low enough that you are within the profiles of the players, and you can miss stuff. When you're up high, you can see much more of each player, although you may miss some of the finer details. However, I'd choose to be higher up any way -- the view was great.

After the game (we won -- it wasn't tremendously pretty, but we did look allright, and Lovecchio (sp?) got a few snaps when Holliday got a little shaken up on a play), we went to the M's tailgater and saw my aunt and uncle and extended family. Much fun, beer, and white castle burgers. Mmmm...

We then went back to Jean-n-Russ's tailgater and saw Janna and Jill. Rock on. We went to dinner with Janna; after seeing a 100 minute wait at Outback, we found a 30 minute wait at Chilies (sp) and ended up eating there. Yum!

After such a full day, Tracy and I were exhausted, so Janna drove us back to Dog's place and we crashed, watching the NYC concert on TV.

Sunday, we met up with my parents for the 10am Basilica mass. And it's a darn small world -- the McCandlesses sat in front of us! It was Paul and John and their sons. We chatted briefly after mass; it was nice to see them again. We had to hustle, though, to get to our reservations at Tippecanoe for brunch (becoming a tradition with my 'rents).

After that, we stopped at the ND bookstore and then continued on home to Louisville. I dozed in the car a little, and then Tracy and I both slept hard when we got home.

Whew! What we weekend.

I like KDE 2.1.1's feature of listing "Halt" under "logout options" so that you don't have to separately logout and then shutdown the machine. Very handy.

Yes, Windoze did do some things right, and this is one of them. It's about time KDE stole this idea! :-)

October 23, 2001

You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?

I got a speeding ticket on the way to Bloomies today.

This is my first-ever speeding ticket.


There's about a 7 mile line construction zone right at the Indiana border that I have to drive through. The speed limit is 45mph. I always slow down to about 50-55 through that zone. Always.

Except today. And I have no idea why I decided to go fast. Arrggh!! I was doing 70 and saw the cop right at the instant when it was too late. He pulled out as I passed and pulled me over.


From the FAQ that came with my ticket (!), doing 1-15mph over the speed limit is $90, while 16-25mph over the speed limit is only $100.

So I suppose that at least I got a good value for my money.

Jaakko has arrived here at IU -- a new addition to the OSL. His wife and family will follow in a little while (they're still in Finland).

Welcome, Jaakko!

I got the new emacs 21.0 RPMs from the Mandrake Cooker distribution and put them in on my laptop. The only real feature that I want is the syntax hilighting in terminal mode -- yum! (i.e., when you're not in graphics window mode)

Something that I have to admit that vim has had for quite a long time. :-)

Brian also pointed me to a php mode for emacs. I had problems with the most recent version (and dutifully posted a bug report about it), but one version back seems to work just fine.

Yay! I've been wanting a php mode for a long time.

Pete pointed me to a place on Yahoo! where to set the refresh rate on my.yahoo.com so that the page reloads periodically. I have no idea how I missed that before.

KFC and Taco Bell have started putting their straws in plastic individual wraps. They're harder to open than their paper counterparts. I don't like them.

KFC has also stopped making popcorn chicken! Woe is me!

Apparently it was only supplied during their recent popcorn chicken promotion. Now KFC has moved on to BBQ wings. While I'm all for BBQ wings, I can't easily eat those while I'm driving -- popcorn chicken was excellent in this regard.

What a loss to us all. <sigh>

I'd like to formally say that the Solaris inetd sucks.

It apparently has a fixed limit on the number of characters per line in inetd.conf that it allows. This caused a bunch of grief when Dog added another CVSROOT to the CVS pserver line in inetd.conf on cvs.lsc.nd.edu -- he exceeded whatever Solaris' limit is, and it broke the whole CVS pserver.

It took a while to figure this out, of course.

It turns out that removing the --allow-root that he had just added made it all work. Hence, there's a max line length. Dog ended up putting the whole thing in a script and having inetd call that script rather than putting the entire command in inetd.conf directly.

...actually, I just read the inetd.conf man page (I was in the car, talking to Dog on my cell phone, trying to help him figure this out, so this is literally my first opportunity to RTFM) and it says, "No more than five arguments are allowed in this field [the server-arguments field]." What possible reason could there be for that?

Stupid lazy Solaris programmers!!

I just noticed that the default ispell dictionary that comes with Mandrake 8.1 doesn't have "RTFM" in it. How can that be?

October 24, 2001

I've been activated

So guess what?

Nah, you'll never guess.

This morning, I was extremely surprised to receive orders via FedEx recalling me to active duty in the US Army. Don't get alarmed
-- I'm not going to Afghanistan, or anywhere near it. I'm being activated specifically to do computer geek stuff for the army at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. I report on 5 November (i.e., less than 2 weeks from now); I will likely be stationed there for a year.

From what I understand, I'll be doing general support, consulting, and management of military intelligence software for the army. I will be working in an unclassified facility at Ft. Huachuca; my boss is a Captain (who is almost a Major). Everyone else in our section is a civilian; my Captain's boss is the civilian equivalent of a Colonel.

Q: Didn't you say that there was very little chance of being called up?

A: I had previously told many of you that in my present position, the chances of me being called up were extremely small because what I did in the Army Research Lab wasn't really helpful to the current situation. Well, I was actually right -- I have been transferred to the Army Communications Electronics Command (CECOM) and have been activated in this capacity.

Q: What is the Army Communications Electronics Command?

A: It's the full name of CECOM. Other than that, I have no idea. I'll let you know in a few weeks. :-)

Q: Is this a hazardous assignment?

A: I want to assure all of you that this is NOT a hazardous assignment; the major risk I will encounter during this assignment is carpal tunnel syndrome. My Captain tells me that it's more or less an 8-4 job. We'll see how it goes.

Q: Will you be hacking into foreign computers? Do you get to play with satellites?

A: Sadly, no. :-) My initial job description is to do support/management of software that our troops use.

Q: Will you have e-mail access? How do I contact you?

A: Since I am doing computer-related stuff, I will most likely have pretty good internet access. Sadly, I am told that there is no DSL, cable modem, or high speed internet access of any kind around Ft. Huachuca. But hopefully I should be able to utilize bandwidth on-post, particularly after duty hours. Your best bet for contacting me will be my jeff@squyres.com address. While I will likely have a military e-mail address, I'm sure that it will be "for official business only".

Q: What does this mean for your Ph.D.?

A: Hopefully, I'll have time on afternoons, nights, and weekends to work on my research and dissertation. We'll see how this pans out; I don't have a good answer for this question right now. All I can say right now is that I fully intend to finish my Ph.D.

Q: Have you talked with your new commander?

A: Yes, he seems like a reasonable enough guy. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1990, so we actually overlapped for a year (although I don't remember him). Sadly, however, this means that he had my sister Robin as a commander while he was in ROTC, so he may extract some punishment from me for all the pushups that Robin made him do.

Q: Will you be able to come visit us on weekends and holidays?

A: I have no idea what my leave schedule will be like. Please don't be offended if I don't see many of you for the next year -- it is highly likely that the vast majority of leave that I get will be used to visit my wife Tracy back in Louisville, KY.

Q: Where will you live in Arizona?

A: No clue yet. I'll likely live in a hotel for the first week or two while I'm apartment-hunting. I won't really know this until I get down there in a few weeks.

Q: Did you have any idea that this was going to happen?

A: Actually, no. None at all.

Q: What's the funniest thing that you heard today?

A: I used the line "the major risk that I'll run into in this assignment is carpal tunnel..." on someone earlier today, and he replied, "No, the most dangerous thing is always a second Lieutenant with a map." :-)

Q: Are you mad/sad/glad/_____?

A: Yes... no... maybe... Who knows? What I do know is that I signed on the dotted line all those years ago, and I knew what I was getting into. I therefore have no right to be angry about being activated, and so I won't be. I fully accept that I have to go do this; I will go do my duty to the very best of my ability, and serve my country just like thousands of others. Remember us and think of us; we work for you.

Someone sent me an audio file yesterday that fits fairly well in this situation. If you have a moment, visit:


Q: What else can you tell us?

A: That's the executive summary of information that I have so far. I literally found out this morning, so there's still a lot of unknowns. I'm sure that Tracy and I will be racking up frequent flyer miles over the next year, but we're thankful that, all things considered, this isn't a bad assignment.

God Bless America.

Who's the cat who won't cop out when all the danger's about?

One last thought for the night:

IU's UITS Craig S. rocks. He just rocks.

(sorry, had to abbreviate that because of the JeffJournal policy of not including last names in journal entries...)

October 26, 2001

The patient is suffering from an acute case of arrogance!

Status of preparations for deployment:

  • Things to do before I go: 6,424,324
  • Number of them done: 37
  • Number left to go: 6,424,287

I've received a lot of responses to the various e-mails that I have sent out about my pending deployment. The vast majority of them have been along the lines of, "We're sorry that it was you who was selected, but we're also glad to know that competent people are being selected to go." I take that as a pretty nice compliment -- thanks, everyone!

Additionally, just about everyone is offering to help in any way that they can. Tracy and I deeply appreciate all the offers to help; and we'll even take a few of you up on your offers. :-)

It was also nice to see that a whole bunch of people actually came and downloaded the Red Skelton audio file from jeff.squyres.com.
Perk had an "anti-protest" protest yesterday and made a huge banner saying:


and had it up in Santa Barbara, CA. You need to check out . He also posted a great picture of the banner. Kudos to you, Perk! And Kudos again!

Best reaction so far to the news of my activation:

"Well ain't that a kick in da pants!"

All in all, preparations are actually going fairly well. Lots of paperwork has been signed, decisions have been made, etc. As I said earlier, my new commander is an ND grad and seems reasonable enough.

I'll definitely be driving out to Ft. Huachuca (pronounced: Wa-choo-ka, or "Ft. Sneezy"). By Mapquest, it's 1800 miles from Looieville. Mom has offered to drive with me, but since the army won't pay for me to ship anything to AZ, I can literally only take what will fit in my car. So I don't know if mom will fit!

Speaking of cars, I took mine in for a tuneup before I drove all that distance. It's a good car -- a '93 Honda Civic, and it has served me well for years. It was slightly overdue for its 120,000 mile service, anyway.


All in all, I had $800+ worth of service needed -- new brake pads and new boots... all this on top of the normal 120,000 mile service. Plus, my alternator is "making noises". They didn't have a new one, though, and it would have taken several days to order and receive one, so I postponed that for later. But that'll be another $400. Ouch!

Because of this, though, I might end up taking Tracy's car instead. We both have Honda Civics, but hers is 3-4 years newer than mine. That is, I didn't want to get down to Ft. Sneezy and have to find a reliable mechanic right away because my alternator is shot. Or, even worse, have it die on the trip down. Uck.

I bought Quicken 2002 today in the hopes that it would have some kind of feature that would enable Tracy and I to manage our combined finances from two different locations.

No such luck, it appears. :-(

But I did find a cool new feature (might have been in the old version that I had -- Quicken 99) that allows me to auto-download my transactions from my bank. Cool! Up until this point, I have been manually downloading an "import" file to the local hard drive and then manually running File->Import to bring those transactions into Quicken. Now I just click on one button and Quicken goes and gets them from my bank.

I think my bank didn't always have this service (the one-click update thingy) -- I think they only used to have the manual download/import, and I somehow missed the announcement that they now support the auto-download/import.

Either way, I'm a happy camper. But I did wish that there was some kind of CVS-Quicken hybrid; that would make my life a whole lot easier for the next year.

I discovered today that my Linksys 8 port switch has 2 bad ports. After discovering this, I realized that I've now thrown away two perfectly good Ethernet cables because I thought they were bad.

Doh. :-(

Fingers are quicker than the brain


I totally screwed up my link to Perk's account of his anti-protest protest.

Everyone should check out his account of the event.

October 31, 2001

It's got 42 snaps right now, but I want to get it to 47 because that's a prime number.

Mozilla 0.9.4 sucks at showing error messages.

It just stops and says "document done" and doesn't move off the current page -- it doesn't even tell you that they was an error.


I upgraded to the 'drake cooker 0.9.5, and the problem still exists. Bah.

But it does have a nicer fonts package -- my.yahoo.com looks decidedly better.

Romi stopped by on her way to Columbus, OH, yesterday. She's heading there to finish up her post-doc -- she left it in order to take a position at Rhodes College. It was good to see her; we had dinner at our house and Tracy and I showed he the wedding pictures.

Then Notre Dame lost to Boston College. <sigh> http://www.dumpdavie.net/.

Alias was cool tonight. I think I like that show -- it's getting a little predictable, but I the twists and turns are kinda nice.

Emacs 21 seems to not highlight .tex documents for some reason.

It also doesn't seem to want to indent configure.in files -- it somehow mistakenly identifies them as tcsh shell script files. Doh.

I finally got around to revamping the configure/build system for LAM's C++ bindings. Last week, we had to fight (yet again) with the automake timestamp issue in CVS (not even worth describing), so I finally did it. The nightmare of having 2 separate configure/build systems is finally over.

I sucked all the relevant parts of the C++ configure.in into LAM's configure.in (which were remarkably few), modified the relevant parts of the Makefile.am's in the mpi2c++ tree, and tweaked a few portions of the source code itself to integrate it tighter into the LAM source code itself. Done.

Mmmmm.... much better.

Epiphany got their new computer today -- the one that was going to be the server. Since I'm not going to be there to install and configure it, etc., it's just going to be someone's desktop.

Since I'll be gone, they're going to pay an outside firm to do the initial setup, installation, configuration, and integration of the machine into the Epiphany LAN. I feel badly about this, but I just don't have time this week to go do it. :-( (they actually already have 8 prepaid hours with this company that they've never used, so it's not a total loss)

Bummer. :-(

Hopefully, I'll be able to reconfigure it upon my return from military duty and set it up for proper server duty.

Just to make things confusing, it appears that the telephone area code for Sierra Vista, AZ (the town outside Ft. Huachuca) is 520, while the area code for Louisville, KY is 502.

Had my last visit to Bloomies for quite a while on Monday this week. Had a nice lunch and dinner with everyone in the lab; good times and good laughs. Had a nice long chat with Eileen on Tuesday morning before I came back home here to Louisville.

Administratively, things seem to be shaping up at IU and ND as well, so everything should be "ok" on those fronts.

About October 2001

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in October 2001. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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