Red Echo

November 30, 2012

Plan 9 on Raspberry Pi

This sounds like fun – I have a Raspberry Pi sitting on my desk at home doing all of nothing:

Do you like Unix? Do you really like Unix? Well, what if I told you there’s a little-known operating system out there that’s more Unix than even Unix is. Cool, right?

Well it is true! Plan 9 occupies an interesting niche in the open source operating system world. It is a full-fledged descendant of Unix, but not in the way that most systems out there are. It took the bones and beating heart of Unix and then built a brand-new cybernetic exoskeleton around it, with lasers, and heat vision… oh wait. You want to boot this bad-boy up, right? Well, okay, we’ll do that. But what hardware shall we run it on? Hey, you got a Raspberry Pi? Well then, read on!

I’m not sure why it sounds more reasonable to install Plan 9 on a tiny cheap computer than to put it on a full size computer where one could actually have some elbow room for one’s experimentation, but there’s something indisputably cool about the thought.

November 29, 2012

Ava and I spent the evening helping Alison equip one of her jewelry display cases with a battery pack and an array of LEDs.

November 28, 2012

Also, grr

The other thing I hate about Android: I can’t send mail, and it won’t tell me why. I haven’t sent a single email with my phone since I got it last Christmas. (Another way this fancy Galaxy Nexus is actually worse at being a communication device than the old, supposedly obsolete Blackberry it replaced.) I don’t remember the exact error message, but it was two words, along the lines of “connection failed”, containing zero useful information. After discovering FOTAKill earlier today – resulting in hour after hour of beautiful, calm, serene not-being-pesteredness – I thought I might take another crack at the email thing.

Yeah. I poked around until I found where “outgoing settings” lived, set all the switches and turned all the knobs, then sent a test email. No error message. Yay, I thought, it’s finally working! That wasn’t so bad.

Twenty minutes later I got a little concerned. That’s a long time for email to spend in transit. I sent another message. An hour later, still nothing had come through. I sent a couple more messages, to various different email addresses.

Yeah, no. They’re all sitting in the outbox, not going anywhere. No error message, no nothing, they’re just not sending, and the Android system either can’t or won’t tell me why. There’s a little spinny widget thing in the bottom bar that looks like it might be trying to tell me that the phone is working on something or other, but nothing happens when I click it, and it never stops spinning.

Oh, well. Progress, eh? Does Google even test this app, or do they just assume everyone is going to use gmail?

Grrrrrr phones

Google has apparently produced a new version of Android. My phone is now bugging me to install it. A notification pops up: “there’s a new version, would you like to install it now, or later, or get more info”? “Later”, I click, because I’m not sure I want it, and I sure don’t want to deal with it right now.

This process repeats EVERY HALF AN HOUR.

Who on earth thought this was a good idea, and how can I get them fired?

Now trying to find out how to completely disable all upgrade checks, for ever, because I’ve seen more of them in one day than I should ever have to deal with in the entire life of a phone.

OK, more information: you apparently solve this problem by installing an app which is inscrutably named “FOTAKill”. This is that sort of app which gets temporary download links in forums, so the best thing is to just search for “FOTAKill.apk” and browse the endless list of discussion board links until you find one that works. Download, install, and…. that’s it. If you’re curious about what it actually does, the source code is available, but all I learned from looking at it is that Android isn’t like any other operating system I’ve ever used.

November 26, 2012

Tulalip Shores

November 24, 2012

Foster Island with MJ

November 23, 2012

192 LEDs in a wire lattice

Making progress on the chandelier for Michael T: one LED matrix finished, six more to go!

November 20, 2012

Another way the TSA does more harm than good

a Businessweek article claims that airport security is killing us:

There is lethal collateral damage associated with all this spending on airline security—namely, the inconvenience of air travel is pushing more people onto the roads. Compare the dangers of air travel to those of driving. To make flying as dangerous as using a car, a four-plane disaster on the scale of 9/11 would have to occur every month, according to analysis published in the American Scientist. Researchers at Cornell University suggest that people switching from air to road transportation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks led to an increase of 242 driving fatalities per month—which means that a lot more people died on the roads as an indirect result of 9/11 than died from being on the planes that terrible day. They also suggest that enhanced domestic baggage screening alone reduced passenger volume by about 5 percent in the five years after 9/11, and the substitution of driving for flying by those seeking to avoid security hassles over that period resulted in more than 100 road fatalities.

It’s certainly true for me: since 2001, I always choose to drive rather than fly if I have any way to make my schedule accommodate the extra time. I’m going down to California for a Christmas visit and you can bet I’ll be taking the car.

November 17, 2012

Sunset, Tulalip Shores

November 15, 2012

Kilauea lava flow

November 13, 2012

Mauna Kea observatories


Mauna Kea former sheep ranch


Kilauea lava flows


November 12, 2012

Kilauea steam vents


November 11, 2012

Hilo, Hawaii


November 9, 2012


I think I’m going to call it quits on the Lytro camera. It’s a neat idea, the user interface is great, and I keep trying to make it work, but I just can’t take good pictures with it. I get better results with my phone. Oh, well – it was worth a try.

It’s a Friday night. Nobody, so far as I can tell, is doing anything, anywhere. What the hell? I don’t want to just sit around and write code all evening, after sitting around writing code all day, and pretty much all week, but there doesn’t seem to be much else to do. Hrmph.

As we saw in the last couple of Presidential elections, there are no “red states” and “blue states”; there are cities and there are not-cities.

The curious part is that even as America’s population has grown more urban, its culture has grown more conservative, such that our Democratic president gets excoriated for “socialism” even though his policies would have sounded unremarkable to a Republican in the ’80s.

November 7, 2012

Iron Chef: Bourbon

Sautéed chanterelles (thanks, Nika!) and a bourbon reduction sauce, my contribution to the weekly “iron chef” dinner Ava’s friend James imported from Vermont

November 6, 2012

Well yeah! Marriage equality looks set to pass in Washington, Maryland, and Maine, and the state-constitution-amendment banning it is failing in Minnesota. For the first time in the USA, marriage equality is being supported by popular vote and not just by court action. At long last the tide has turned and the current is flowing in a positive direction. So glad.

Overheard at work: “Our data model is 95% irrelevant under a foo-only paradigm”.

November 3, 2012

Hacker Monthly collects the best articles linked on Hacker News in a given month and prints them out as an actual, on-paper magazine. That’s a neat idea. I’ve been following Hacker News for years and I’d guess that one monthly magazine is just about the right size to print the really good stuff that shows up there.