My evening alone

Tonight marks the first evening that Jess and I have spent away from each other. I must say it is strange. It is very quiet around here. For those that are just joining us here, Jess volunteered with the Utah County Rape Crisis Team when we lived in Utah. Eager to do similar volunteer work here in Livermore she found Tri-Valley Haven and joined up with their crisis team. Tonight was her first night of training, so that's where she's been all evening.

I decided that it would be a good evening to go for a run. I want to get back into running regularly, since I haven't been running since some time in February. So I took off jogging down Livermore Avenue. Boy am I out of shape. I jogged for about 1.5 miles before resting and stretching. Then I walked a mile and jogged the remaining half mile to get back home. It was a good run, I'm just completely out of shape.

The rest of the evening I've spent working on some programming projects. I did some work to keep the Board alive, and got the code base setup on my desktop so I can start working on Board 5 again. I made dinner (exciting plate of spaghetti and a slice of toast). And now I'm finishing up this blog post. Jess will be home in another 30 minutes or so. Maybe I'll play some Guitar Hero in the interim.

Also, unlike the cool weather Mike is having down in Sunnyvale, the weather here in Livermore is lovely:
Livermore_weatherThis is usually how the weather is, occasionally it gets cranky and pushes into the 90's and even the 100's, but that doesn't usually last very long. I certainly don't miss Utah summers.

Ubuntu 9.04 Touchpad Scroll Region

Jess has switched her laptop to Ubuntu and in the process there are some tweaks to be done. One of them was that her touchpad has a little area set apart for scrolling and the default option on Ubuntu was allowing scrolling for a small amount past that set apart area. Unfortunately, they've just updated those settings to be part of the HAL device settings rather than the Xorg.conf settings. So now there is not a nice clean GUI configuration program.

After some messing around I was able to figure it out though. You need to create an FDI policy in the directory "/etc/hal/fdi/policy". It doesn't seem to matter what you call this as long as it ends in ".fdi". So I called mine "touchpad.fdi". In this file we put:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<deviceinfo version="0.2">
<device>
<match key="input.x11_driver" string="synaptics">
 <merge key="input.x11_options.RightEdge" type="string">5900</merge>
</match>
</device>
</deviceinfo>

(For more information on how to form this file see: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Config/Input.)

If you follow these instructions and things don't seem to work, you might try switching the encoding option from "ISO-8859-1" to "UTF-8".

Anyway, save that text into a file like "/etc/hal/fdi/policy/touchpad.fdi". The next step (which was left out of 99% of the information I found online and made me very frustrated) is to restart HAL:

sudo /etc/init.d/hal restart

After HAL restarts, log out and then log back in.

If it found and read your file properly something should have changed. If you want to test to see if things are working at all you can try setting the RightEdge value (5900 in the above) to something small (I'll warn you that this will probably turn your entire touchpad into a vertical scroll area, however you can do some sneakiness to recover, first you can still access a terminal by accessing your menus using ALT+F1, and you can access the shutdown menu (not the logout menu sadly) with ALT+CTRL+DEL).

You'll need to play with that value in order to get it to work for you. I tried to be clever and calculate it from some information, but it didn't work, so [shrug] just play with it. I changed things about 200 at a time which was enough of a change to notice.

I hope this helps someone out.

For the record

We went and saw Harry Potter 6 last night. Everyone seems to think it's an incredible movie. I thought it was incredibly flat and lacking almost any substance. Of course when you take a long book and condense it into a movie things are going to get left out, but I think you need to really choose certain scenes and plot points to develop rather than just grazing over everything (and what was the deal with adding an entire scene not in the book which adds nothing to the story?).

So, I don't know what everyone is going crazy about. The piece that the entire book builds toward was entirely anti-climactic for me (No Battle Scene?! They just walk out without any resistance?! Ridiculous!). I was sure that the movie would end with the funeral, but they skipped that entirely too. Instead it's a rather dull scene on top of the astronomy tower.

I think it would have highly benefited from being stretched out another 30 minutes, throw in the fight scene that at least half the audience is waiting for, and develop the important scenes further (the cave lasted all of like 10 minutes).

The book, to me, was mostly to educate us about Voldemort's history. But very little of that comes out in the movie. Since we're not focusing on that, we end up not really focusing on anything, since what Draco is doing is a secret until the very end. So it's kind of like, random thing here, oh Draco acting angsty, another random thing, Dumbledore being vague, Draco being angsty, anti-climactic scene, anti-climactic scene, the end.

DMV: Department of "Nice try, but no"

Trip 1:

Me: I just moved to Livermore from Utah, I need to get a California Driver's License and register my car.
Them: Ok, fill out these forms and take a number.
....
Me: [hands over forms when number is called]
Them: That's $28 for the license and $242 for the registration.
Me: [Grumble, since I just paid $200+ to renew my registration in Utah 3 months ago...]
Them: You'll need to take the written test, but you can't do that now because we don't hand them out after 4:30, and you need to get a smog test done.
Me: [sigh] Ok. Do I get the smog test done here or somewhere else?
Them: You do that here, just come back sometime before 4:30.

Trip 2:

Me: I need to take a written test and do a smog test.
Them: Written Test go to window 14, you get the smog test done at a testing facility.
Me: So, not here, like I was told last time.
Them: No, not here.

Trip 3:

Me: I have my smog test certificate (another $78.50!) and I need to finish registering my car. [hands over stuff]
Them: You need another signature on this form.
Me: Why?
Them: Because Debora is on the previous registration, so she needs to sign the form as well.
Me: Why didn't someone mention this the last 2 times I was here trying to do this?
Them: They must have overlooked it.

GAH! I've now paid almost $350 and still have nothing. Ok... not quite nothing, I did get the license part done, but I don't actually _have_ a license, I won't get that for another 4 to 6 weeks.

I can tell you exactly why California's government is bankrupt. If the rest of their departments run as efficiently as the DMV there's no reason to wonder. Not to mention that the DMV is only open 4 days a week and closes at 5:00pm. When do they expect people that have jobs to get this done exactly?

Franken-video-card

I offered to keep my nerd-posts to my original blog, but Jess said, "If you're still going to post to your old blog, there's no reason to have a joint blog." So, I'm posting a nerdy post to start things out.

The video card in my desktop has been dying slowly over the last couple of months. I was hoping it wouldn't die on me completely, like some of my hardware (I'm looking at you laptop), until I had finished my thesis and moved. Well, it honored that request and lived not a minute longer. I got my computer out and setup so I could make some bookmark changes to my thesis so it can get approved by the electronic submission people, and the fan wouldn't spin at all.

Needing to make these changes regardless of fan operation, but not wanting to run the system without a fan on the video card I had a problem to solve. I have 2 old little fans that I took off of broken motherboards. These have been sitting in a "nerd box", as Jess refers to it, since my electronics lab Physics course. I took off the dead fan and determined that the possible replacement fans wouldn't quite fit and the electrical plugs were slightly too large. So, with some creative adjustments (cutting off the circle of plastic that goes around the outside of the fins) and a little extra force on the electrical pins I got a fan in place and it spins. I probably shouldn't be playing any graphics-intensive games until I get a new card, but I can at least make changes to my thesis and browse the web.

Here's the mess which is my video card:
Franke-video card