Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The making of a computer cabinet....

Hello everyone. Today, I completed making a computer cabinet for myself! yep.... a home-grown chasis... only for myself. I needed more space for the 2 new SATA disks that I had just added to my existsing system which comprised of:

  1. 2 ATA disks

  2. CDROM drive

  3. CD-writer

  4. Floppy DIsk Drive

So, I needed power extensions, and more SPACE in the chasis. So, instead of purchasing one, which would cost me quite a bit with space for these extra disks that I had(and also taking into consideration the cooling reqired thereof).

I'll try to get hold of some camera, take snaps of the cabinet and upload them here. Along with it will be a detailed description of how I went about making the chasis.

Yeay!!!! I have a few snaps to share now.

Click here
for the set of photos of my custom cabinet.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The making of a Tea/coffee cup holder.

Hello people... I've always wanted to have a tea/coffee cup holder to go along with my stool which I use to keep my mouse on. However, due to lack of funds(and otherwise), I never bought one of those things. Now that I have all the time in the world, I decided to make one for myself. This was triggered by the sudden discovery of a Meccano Set in my house, which originally belonged to my dad! I was like wow! This is probably just what the doctor ordered!!!!

So, I started designing, and like a typical hacker, that went out of the window once the implementation begun. The final product is totally different from the one designed, but it looks sexy, and can hold the weight of a full tea/coffee cup.

Once I get a camera from somewhere, I'll upload the pics. too. Till then, keep imagining what it must look like ;-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Martrix RAID.... Just what the doctor ordered!

From wikipedia: "Matrix RAID utilizes two physical disks. Part of each disk is assigned to a level 0 array, the other part to a level 1 array. This product provides a safe area (the level 1 section) for documents and other items that one wishes to store redundantly, and a faster area for operating system, applications, etc."


The only problem is that "Currently, most (all?) of the other cheap RAID BIOS products only allow one disk to participate in a single array." Which means that this is not possible in Hardware, though "Matrix RAID is a feature that first appeared in the Intel ICH6R RAID BIOS." Which means that it has initially been implemented in hardware. Now, only if this were available on my Hardware RAID controller, or even Software RAID on Linux.

Of DMA and southbridges....

After getting a new motherboard, Linux seemed to be running fine except that I kept getting this message on boot up:
VP_IDE: Unknown VIA SouthBridge, contact Vojtech Pavlik < >

Later on, I realized that my CPU was being used every time I read/wrote anything to Disk. This CPU usage was very evident when I decided to burn a CD. It took up nearly 60% of my CPU time! Considering that this used to be about 5% on my older CPU,it is a 15 times increase over the previous value. This led me to believe that somehow the kernel has disabled the DMA, and all the reads/writes are being routed through the CPU.

I was wondering whether DMA is controlled by the north or south bridge of the computer, and I tried asking a few of my friends, but they were as clueless as me. I immediately opened my crappy text-book to see if they had any clues, but there were none :-( However, I did notice that the ATA/SATA connections go into the Southbridge(SB), and the SB is not directly connected to the CPU, but is to the NB. Wow! This made me believe that DMA is controlled by the SB. To confirm, a quick search on google revealed the following:

Which proved that I was right!

So much for that ;-)
Now it only remains to get a new kernel:d

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Xmms bug-fix.

I had been wanting to fix this xmms bug for quite some time now... Was feeling really lazy. Got down to doing it today though.

What's the bug? If you enqueue many songs, and then clear the playlist, and the load a new playlist, then the "queued list" isn't cleared, and contains pointer to the old(now non-existant list). This causes xmms to crash when the currently playing song gets over. It tries to play a non-existant entry! Made it clear the queued-list as well, when the playlist itself is cleared. owever, I'm not entirely sure this is a 100% corrective patch, because it may still be possible to make xmms crash by removing that song which has been queued. I haven't checked if xmms removes queued songs rom the queued-list when they are removed individually from the playlist.

If you want a patch, mail me. It's only 2 lines worth though ;-)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The use[full/less]ness of Software Quality Assurance.

Today, I picked up my SE(Software Enginnering) text book, and decided to read the chapter on Software Quality Assurance[SQA]. Ok, let me put this straight; SE is a subject I don't agree with, and certainly do dislike. No, wait.... I hate it!

I was surprised to see the stuff about SQA written in that book. I just realized that the need for SQA arises only because people lie, and say something and do something else... which is basically lying explained a bit differently ;-) Also, current trends wherein work on software projects is outsourced needs to be checked for quality because of the above mentioned reasons. Hence, this model may not be ideal or even close to that for many not so big companies and software development centres. IMHO, even corporates have something to gain by looking at the other side of the picture....

Auto-Save in Blogger????

I was wondering if auto-save would be as useful in Blogger as it is in Gmail... Any ideas? I'm of the opinion that Blogger should include it sooner or later[better sooner than later though]. The Recover Post option is prosent, but doesn't really cut it, like Gmail's Auto-Save feature. Now, only if the guys at Blogger were to read this! ;-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Even more hypocrisy.....

This time, it's Sony... A brand that is SO very much trusted around the globe. They have used LGPL code in their copy protection software(yes, the so very controversial rootkit), and have more mentioned it(as they are required to do so with any LGPL code).

The irony is that the copy-protection software(rootkit) is itself violating a copyright! Hilarious but true. I wonder if music protected this way is illegal to listen to! This just get more and more twisted....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To RAID or not to RAID....

Comments required.....
Thanx in advance!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm sick of this whole artificial thing around me....

Last few days have not been very good for me, and have forced me to do some real thinking.... Life has not exactly been sweet to me, but hey it's not always fine and dandy.... You do have your ups and downs, and you should take them in your stride... I was speaking about this to my friend Aniket a few days ago, and I happened to mention "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." To which he gave me a really broad grin, and said "When the going gets tough, Gup-Chup baith jaane ka. which means Sit down quietly and try to maintain a really low profile.

This came across to me as a really practical piece of advice.

It's just that things have been so fucking screwey around here... I was going to write a lot, but Sandy called, and I had a nice chat with him... Calmed me down a bit... I was just soooo.. pissed with the sickness filled in people around me, and the hypocricy therein that I was so fucking pissed just to think of it... Like right from SOPs(Statement of Purpose) to shopkeepers, you have hypocricy and corruption, and we as common people just crib about it and fail to do anything about it. In fact, we even give fuel to it most of the time, knowing that we are doing the wrong thing. That just so pisses me off.

People should be more God fearing. Why do people visit temples? To ask forgiveness for any sins they may have unknowingly committed. However, in recent times, people think that visiting temples is like applying white paint over a tainted wall.. which is so fucking wrong. They will commit sins on purpose, and hurt people, and then visit temples, thinking that God is going to tear out the previous chapters of their lives. They are just fucking lying to themselves.

I say... Why not sin in the first place, so that you don't need to visit the temple. Don't do wrong, and you won't have to ask forgiveness. Only if more people could understand what I'm saying, the world would be a much better place to live in. I think we have over-complicated things... far too much for our liking, and it is hitting us hard now. I'll try to stick to the basics, and keep it simple... as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Should I be happy now?

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain was beating down my roof's top, and I could hear it distinctly as it it was trying to say something... Something very important; something that would change my life forver...

I was sitting a front my computer's screen, and writing as usual, some lines of code in C++, thinking about what to do next, and how to irradicate the errors from the program when... suddenly, out of nowhere, I hear the sound of bells ringing.. and it is a loud sound mind you. Numbed by the monitor screen, and contant exposure to harmless rays emiting from the monoitor, I fail to comprehend where it is coming from, when.... almost as sudden as thunder, it struck me that it was the phone. I swiftly swooped down my wings, and made a clean sweep. With the receiver in my hands, I had the liberty to speak into it... yes. The freedom of speech. I simply love it. I thrust the receiver into my stinking mouth and uttered the holy word: "hello". The person on the other side as if expecting the reply said "Namaste".

For a few seconds, I could not believe my ears. This word could only be uttered by members of one of Vasai's biggest gangs. It would not be wise to name them now. I was by then scared to death, but somehow mustered the courage to inhale a bit of air, and modulate my voice to say "yes". This is probably the only thing one can say to these people. They will generally not take "no" for an answer. He spoke as if in a very point-to-point and direct manner and said "stop coding"... For a few seconds I wondered whereby he knew of my ongoing activities, but then realized that these people had spies working for them in every nook and corner of the city. Before any more words could be exchanged, the phone clicked... He had put down the receiver. I had no option but to obey. Otherwise, I ran the risk of being executed.

After a few seconds, I pressed the dreaded keys, Ctrl-X + Xtrl+C. Emacs had been put to sleep... Rather a deep and unforgiving slumber. I could hear it telling me to have mercy, and re-spawn the process, but my life is quite dear to me.

Two days passed and still there was no call from anyone regarding when I could resume coding. I was getting restless. It's almost as if I had been kept hungry for a couple of days. That's when I went to the kitchen, eat the largest meal I've ever had, and decided; "I shall not eat of drink till I have resumed coding".

My resolve to confront these group of people who want to disrupt other people's lives was growing just as the bacteria multiply. It was growing in stature by the second; just a my hunger was gaining some serious momentum. That was when I decided... Enough is enough; someone had to stand up and sort out thing with them. I took the bold step to adorn my stupendous jeans and Google t-shirt, and put on my trusted footwear[a pair of floaters], and steped out of my house with only Rs 28/- in my pocket. Enough to purchase a return ticket to Vasai.

On reaching Vasai, I had no clue as to where I should begin looking for them. I tried asking some people for directions but I didn't know what place I was looking for myself. So, that plan failed miserably. Then a sudden flash of brilliance; as if magically enterd my bird-brain. I proudly walked up to the next person that I saw, and said "Namaste". I could see this plan also back-fire, when his face turned the palest of while, and he fainted on the spot. I was now convinced that I was dealing with a gang that had instilled death-like fear into the minds of the people living there. "This brutallity must be stopped", I said to myself.

Treading on fearlessly into the dark, I reached a solitary cottage, away from all known civilization. I figured this was the place, since there was no soul in sight. Standing a good 3 metres out the porch, I shouted out as loud as I could, gathering all my energy "Show yourself up, you fear-instiller". And out from the roof came a caped creature, with his frock blazing away with the wind. His outline was distinctly visible in the beautiful setting sun, which had just about a few minutes left to dissapear and appear on the other side of the earth, and shed light on their sorrows. He spoke in a very commanding tone and said "So, you have finally arrived, you greedy bandwidth seeking creature". I was taken aback at the way in which he spoke and the confidence he exuded. After all, he was wearing his underwear atop his pants. Pulling out his shimmering sword which shone brightly in the setting sun, almost blindig me, he uttered the following words which I shall never forget for all long as I live: "I am the ruler of the Dial-upers, and off later broad-band seekers have been infiltrating into our territory. I shall not allow this adultration to happen, and shall take ncessary steps to erradicate all high-bandwidth spots on this planet. You shall find yourself in dial-up hell after some time, miscreaeant". With that, and and one fell swoop of his weapon, I fell to the ground; unconscious, motionless.

When I awoke, I found these really sexy chicks around me dancing all around to the sound of holy rhythmis tunes being chanted in the background. I said to myself "yeah!". Then, I logged on to a computer which had my name on it. 4 CPU, AMD 64-bit, 64GB RAM, RAID-1, 3TB disk space, and loaded with all the possible songs I would have dreamt of. I fired up firefox, logged into gmail, and am writing this mail now. Btw, I now realized what that demi-god ment when he said "You shall find yourself in dial-up hell after some time, miscreaeant". I am in dial-up hell because we have 10mbps leased lines per user here! I am in broad-band heaven!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Humans - So simple, yet so complex.

Have you ever wondered what a complex mechanism the human body is, and how many facets it has? Well, I'm sure you have. Everyone has asked themselves this question sometime or the other, and has felt the hopelessness within due to the inability to answer it. One of my friends did notice something similar to what I experienced today. I was just doting upon one of our subjects in college - Computer Graphics [CG], and the different kinds of techniques and algorithms used to render 3D graphics on a 2D monitor. The complexity of these techniques is such that it would be impossible to study them without an external aid such as that of mathematics. The approach used is to convert a situation into a mathemtical model, and then apply some transformations to that model or set of equations obtained thereof, to get the final result in the form of equations or numbers, which are then interpreted accordingly, and displayed on screen.

Let us take a simple example such as filling a polygon or a figure having a random shape and orientation in space. This task is quite complicated for computer to perfrom, and during the course of the running algorithm, it has to perform various checks, and handle the situations accordingly. If on the other hand, you look at humas, we will be able to tell or at least imaging exactly what the shape will look like after filling has taken place. Testimony to that is that small children are first taught to do such filling operations on sketched out figures, and they are able to do so without much difficulty and little or no help.

However, the other side of the coin has somethinh entirely different to say. Consider the task of multiplying 1000 - 3 digit numbers together. It is a task solved within a fraction of a second by a computer, where as a human may take a few minutes at the least to perform the same operation!

So, the question that arises here is why are there such differences between seemingly smilar tasks and why humans are able to solve some very quickly and others not so quickly? And why do computers behave in a similar way? Also, if computers were designed to solve computationally intensive problems fast, why do they fail on some accounts? This question will probably be answered if we probe deeper into the birth of computers and really understand the basic thinking behind the forefathers of the computer.

Another question that arises because of the above line of reasonaing is: Will computers be able to solve the problems in the near future which they can not presently, and which humans solve with relative ease? A similar question can be framed for humans too. There are arguments both way. For example, we can argue that since the first computer was invented, they have come a long way, and can now perform tasks that seemed impossible at that time. In short, computers have evolved. However, huans have been on the face of planet earth for sooooo many years now, and they too have evolved, and this process is an on going one, and nobody know if and when it will end. I strongly believe that evolution [at least for humans] is a non ending process, and the moment the human race stops evolving, it will be doomed, simply because it will not be able to cope with the environmental changes taking place around it. So, the basic factor guiding evolution is probably the environment in which the humans live and thrive. So, does the environment for computers change similarly? The environment is guided solely by humans, and their environment changescontinuously, even without their knowing about it, so it should be quite evident that the environment for computers changes too, and that too at quite a rapid pace.

So, can computers 'evolve'? I don't think they can do so automatically! At least not now. Who knows what the future holds. There have been various novel and probably not so successful ideas and concepts such as AI [Artificial Intelligence], which I believe have been no close to failure. The best they could do is program a computer to beat the Chess Crand Master. That probably does not constitute AI as far as I am concerned. It is more of an exercise in super computing, and combinatorial logic. However, arrogant it may seem, it is probably the naked truth.

So, humans rule once more!
All Hail God

And a Solution :-)

Ok, let me without any further ado get straight to the point. How should one go about cleaning their computer? Well, firstly make sure that you have the confidence to open up that baby, and strip off it's clothes ;-) After you've gobbled down a few pegs, you will feel like man enough to do the needful! BUT, STOP, relax, and come back later. Let me assure you that you are in no position to open up your computer [unless of course you've decided to take up 'sanyas' and live the rest of your life in the Himalayas like a Sadhu, in which case you wouldn't need your computer anyways].

Oops, OT is my middle name! Grrrrrr. Ok, here's the deal. Every time, I deviate from the topic.... well, forget it. I won't bore you any further. Well, now once you have opened up your computer, removed all the various cards and the IDE connectors, carefully remove the CPU fan's cable, and then remove the CPU fan from atop the CPU [Do this carefully. If you screw up, don't coming running to me].

Now, you have 2 options. One is the dry way, and the other is the wet one. I used a hybrid. Here's what I did. I removed the motor along with the fan blades, and removed the dust from then using my vacuum cleaner, in high power blow mode. To remove the dust which was stuck hard on the heat dissipating alloy, I dipped in in warmish water, and then washed it under moderate pressure running cool water. This ensures that after the dust has become loose, we can wash it away using hydraulic power. Then, wait for it to dry. In the mean time, we can get down to blowing out the dust from on top the mother board [using a vacuum cleaner again]. Once that is done, check if the alloy is dry enough to be put back. If it is then, attach the fan to it, put it back atop the CPU, make the various connections, put on the casing and you're ready to use an overhauled computer! Now, isn't that simple :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My Computer won't work properly :-(

This is a more technical thing I'm gonna talk about now. Yesterday, I did a complete overhaul of my computer; in the sense that I cleaned up all the cobwebs that had been created on the various components like CPU and motherboard by certain 'spidery' creatures.

The main source of congestion was dust particles collecting on the CPU fan, and the Display card fan. What effect does this dust have? At first, you like me might think that it just spoils the aesthetics of the internals of the computer, but that is not the case! Surprised? You'd better be. Well, here's the deal. The dust formed on the CPU fan, and the heat dissipator[usually made of Aluminium, or some good headt conducting of Aluminuium] makes the dissipation of heat into the surroundings that much more difficult, so the CPU keeps getting hotter, and can burn if it becomes too hot. I use an AMD processor, so it does not turn off if it becomes too hot as compared to an Intel CPU, which powers down the computer to prevent damage to itself.[I have burnt out an AMD CPU this way, so trust me on this]. The official docs. say that anything <= 70 degreesC is a 'safe' operating temperature for the AMD CPU. The temperature should not cross 90 degreesC, when they mention that the junction breakdown takes place, and you are doomed! However, I have once operated the CPU at 120 degreesC [just for a few seconds though] without it being damaged. [Don't try this at home kids!].

Getting back to the point, if the CP gets too hot, and I started peforming CPU intensive tasks such as encoding wav files to mp3[using lame on Linux], the OS would just hang[because of the overheating], and successive reboots would not help bcause the heat would have not yet dissipated till the computer gets back up. Thus, the computer would also sometimes stall in the middle of a reboot. I began to suspect the temperature quite early on, but I got down to do the cleaning up much later on. When these things became commonplace, and I found it hard to even read .pdf docs on the computer because of constant hanu ups, I decided to open up the computer and do the cleaning myself. And you won't believe the results I ot after cleaning up the internals. The max. temp. of the CPU dropped from a 72 degreesC to a cool 61 degreesC[a drop of about 10 degreesC], which is always a welcome change. I no longer experience such hangups even when perfroming CPU intensive tasks continuously, such as interperting large perl scripts, and encoding music at the same time.

I shall describe in a later message[in detail], how I acuallly got about cleaning the internals of my computer.