Fun on a friday afternoon…

So, this Friday I went into surgery, for reasons I will not post publically. First, kudos to everyone at Lake Point Hospital, they were, quiet literally, great. Excepting the exhorbitant medical fees I’ll be paying, I couldn’t ask for better. After weeks of pain, I’m finally relieved that … there is no more pain, partly due to the large amounts of perscription pain pills floating around in my bloodstream.

So, to sum up: yay for perscription pain pills, yay for good doctors, and yay for an anesthesiologist that actually managed to put the right amount of juice in me to be knocked out for a surgery. (Unlike last time…..)

On the KDE front: KDE 3.4 packages are acomming! And will hopefully be done in time for the next release. This time I hope to actually have a patch against Kdemultimedia, so we can distribute noatun and friends legally (IE: without mpeg and mp3 support).

I’m also starting work on what I’m calling project Mini-Me linux. It’ll be based on conary, but diverge in a few key areas: 1. it’ll use uclibc and busybox for most of the utilities, 2. the init process will be very different. The main purpose of Mini-Me linux will be for a wireless router/access point/router/firewall. I’ve got the design mostly figured out, now I just need to execute!

Trudging Ahead

After spending some deal of time researching how mimetype/file associations are handled, I’ve managed to figure out how gnome and kde handle themselves. While GNOME and KDE have good user documentation, this type of thing is sadly missing. There is little documentation for packagers and distribution maintainers. I guess they expect us to be reading and contributing to the code. In any case, the good news is sometime in the future versions of Specifix the Gnome/KDE file association bug fixed.

Now that particular mole has been whacked, I’ve turned my attention to packaging other important packages. Namely, right now, xfce and scons, as well as updating KDE to the latest version. In other news, I got conary running on ppc, now all that remains is rebuilding everything for ppclinux. I’ve decided that my laptop needs reloaded with something more like Specifix first, I’ll probably go with Yellowdog or some similar.

In something non-Specifix related, I recently got a digital camera thanks to JForbes, which means…. puppy pictures. Check out my main page to see. I also have now completely revamped my website, to make it a bit more friendly for editing..

Finally got my own weblog

This time I’m doing things right, that means among other things, using real software to do the webloging thing. I started this mostly to appease several people that would like to see how I’m doing from time to time. Also, I’ve started this so people can keep tabs on my work on Specifix Linux, specifically the state of the KDE packages – my nemesis!

So, what have I been up to you ask? First, trying to get a new job. I desperately need one that lets me work more than 10 hours a week. Even a second job that let’s me work a couple hours a week would be great right now. As I’m sure most college students know, things can get very hairy when you’re going to school, trying to maintain a car, etc…

In other news, I got a puppy! He’s more than a little active. He’s a beagle and everyone that has met him thinks he’s cute as a button.

Other things: I’m working on yet another SCons tutorial, and polishing up several SDL tutorials, and checking them all for errors. So keep your eyes pealed.

6/5/2003 Entry

GNU – the organization that keeps giving. I’ve currently got two different projects hosted on All things given, it’s a lot better service than sourceforge. (Ahhh, sourceforge, home of twelve million dead projects, and a couple dozen of still useful ones.) But that’s not what I’m here to write about.

I’m here to write about the sickening pothole into hell that is autoconf. Autoconf, through some sickening joke, has managed to succeed as the #1 method of building makefiles. It’s used by all major projects, in some form or another. If it’s on GNU/Linux, it’s most likely configured by autoconf(unless we’re talking about X11, the only piece of software that makes autoconf look stylish.) But see, the funny thing is, I don’t think ANYONE quiet understands how Autoconf works outside of the three or four people that maintain it.

I would like to know for instance, why on half the projects I compile, after running configure once, and typing make, configure, for no apparent reason decides that it needs to run AGAIN. Each time running the SAME freaking tests OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I can go through half of them by memory now, from watching compile screen after compile screen after compile screen. Let me think “checking for unistd.h”, “checking whether build environment is sane”, “checking for BSD-compatible install”, and so on and so forth. One wonders if it ever occured to anyone that *maybe* this invention of a hard drive could *somehow* manage to actually store this information for later use.

But, I digress. It’s the very height of fun when installing program xyz-version 5.4.2, to sit and run through the 55,000 different options for this program. Is it –with-x today? Or –with-gtk? Or do I need to do a –enable-gnome? Oh the choices!

Of course, when things go wrong, that’s where the real fun begins. Oh no, the xyz-version 5.4.2 thinks that I have libabc installed in /usr/lib, when it’s really in /opt/kill/me/now/damn/it. Of course, the wonderful configure picked up on the fact that it exists, just not WHERE it exists. I don’t, however, know this immediately. Instead, I have to recompile the program, and redirect stderr(hint for n00bs its >&) to a file, tab through the file, and find the start of a 93 line long list of errors.

Now, if you where in this situation 5 years ago, you would know to take a quick look at the Makefile, and add a few more flags to one environment variable or another. So, you, being the seasoned Unix person you are, first go and pop up emacs(the one thing the GNU people got right), and open the Makefile, only to be suprised with a 50,000 line long monstrosity, with multiple, conflicting environment variables. Upon seeing this gateway to the seventh circle of hell,you of course, do one of the following: A. close the editor and try another piece of software, B. try to edit one of the 53 different .in, .am, .figtree, .bannana, .yoyo files that auto* uses, or C. shoot yourself in the head with a twelve gauge shotgun. Or, you could try to wade through the file, editing the 500 different $LIBS flags, all of which are completely useless except for the one three directories down called $(FOO_BAR_NONSENSE_NAME_VARIABLE), only to discover that having found the proper variable, FINALLY, running make this next time causes “configure” to rerun and trash all that hard work. Of course, you forgot to write down the file/line number or name of the variable, so you start the wonderful search all over again.

Let’s be honest. People don’t write files, they either A. use a tool to generate it, or B. copy them from someone else. What else would explain the same five errors that happen in all the programs that use autoconf. Finding documentation is even more of a challenge, you are left either purchasing a book(which will be out of date), reading an ancient howto(most of which doesn’t work properly), or wading through the even more wondrous “info” tree. It doesn’t help matters that the “info” tree seperates things out into 4 different packages, requiring you to flip from one to the other, to figure out why your is causing your to puke when run through automake.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the auto* tools where designed by Satan himself in an attempt to drive me into a slow and deliberate madness. The sad thing is, I think it worked.

4/28/2003 Entry

Python really is a language that grows on you. Several months ok my general reaction to python was something along the lines of: indention based blocks? ick. And I refused to even take a look at it.
Then, I started working on a project where the easy integration of a scripting language was invaluable. Looking at all the various languages out there: perl, php, even some basic interpreters, I found python by far to be the easiest to integrate. My general idea was, the scripts don’t have to do anything advanced anyway. Now, after lots more work on same project, almost half of it has been written in python. (The other half is in straight C.)
Now, I’ve completed several midterm projects entirely in python(including a particularly nasty project in Statistics), and I have no doubt that several different aspects of python(functional programming lambda, nice statistics package, etc..) helped greatly.
The users on Freenode, #python where a great help, and the developers more than interested in listening. Keep up the great work guys. 🙂

9/2/2002 Entry

Finally, I’m back on the air! It’s been a long bumpy ride, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay at the old domain, or host, or keep the old hard drive archives, (or pretty much anything). What happened? Well, let’s just say that a certain hard drive decided to have a nervous break down, and is now no more. So, this new page is now at a new host, where I have complete control. Remember folks, pay service in your name is always better than being hosted by someone else, especially when your a rather small site like this.

The downside of this, is that I can no longer offer Crack.Com’s original archives on the webpage, which many people downloaded. I’m considering what to do with the zip files located on my HD. If you are really interested, e-mail me, and let me know, and I’ll see if I can’t set up a 1x transfer, or perhaps a paypall/burned CD thing could be done.

The upshot of all this, is I’m going to expand the old SDL tutorials into something a lot more interesting, as well as host a couple software projects here in conjunction with sourceforge – more on this to come. If you are still interested in the distro, THIS IS THE PLACE TO WATCH.

The SDL tutorials are in the process of being edited to a brand new format, with better formating, and a lot more clarity. These will form the main thrust of the site launch.

Thanks for the e-mails guys, and I hope that things get going again, REAL SOON NOW. 🙂

5/17/2002 Entry

Long time, no updates. Well, lots of news for here.
First, I quit my previous job. I left amicably w/ the company, but I doubt I would ever want to work there again. I have started working again on all of my pet projects. Most notably Fluid, Sasteroids, and the Linux distribution. (Fluid is going to be really Nifty for all of those X people out there.)

Finals are over, and I now have my grades, which means: I GET TO HAVE SOME TIME OFF. It’s about time too. I though I was going to go mad. I’m chillin right now, but I’m also working on a couple new articles(living with Xinerma, and an entire new bunch of SDL tutorials.)

For those that noticed, the past week or so, I’ve had my articles page here instead of the news. Quiet simply, I accidently overwrote this page with a school assignment(topic/etc.. not chosen by myself), sorry to everyone that showed up here and got confused… 😉

4/3/2002 Entry

Finished site updates today. Now that I’ve finished some site updates, managign this place will hopefully be a lot easier. Meaning, more news updates. More tutorials. More distro stuff getting done. I’m now using CSS, among other other things – and, things are still optimized for lynx. Hehe.

I’ve started some work on perlizing this site. And I’m getting another few tutorials finished up. Stay tuned.