Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In one of my past expeditions, I tried to capture sunset from Nanyang House; thwarted by weather. I mostly forgot about that until last Saturday. I was near one of the libraries and there it was: the sky glowing orange in the distant. Good thing I had my camera with me.

One thing: sunset is really an ephemeral thing. During the time it took me to walk along the rooftop walkway to get a better view, most of the sun had been below the horizon. By the time I'm finished keying in some settings to the camera, it had practically sunk under the horizon of trees.

Still, wasn't it beautiful! Click through to see the photos in its original size, these small ones don't do it justice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I have had memory problem for years. Even if I don't have a bloatware as operating system, 512MB of RAM is pretty weak nowadays. Unless if I'm running something really lightweight, which I don't plan to. Now, 4.5 years are a pretty good time to put off upgrading, right? I'm discounting replacing monitor, adding HDD, and getting a working power supply.

So I took the liberty to get a pair of 2GB RAMs in the recent sardines-fest, ehm, IT show. Cool, memory deficiency solved, huh? Well, no. I have another deficiency: selective lack of attention to detail. I didn't remember the spec of my motherboard and didn't bother to review it. So I was in front of my computer, casing open, trying to fit the chips in, then enlightenment happened: my board was so obsolete it didn't support the new memory chips.

Fine, I've been contemplating upgrade for-ever anyway, might as well. Couple days later I found myself walking home, a bag in hand with a new motherboard, cpu (Intel Core2Duo E8400) , and gpu (NVidia XFX GeForce 9500 GT) inside. Predictably, the next step should be: disconnect the old board, mount the new one, connect all the peripherals, and boot, maybe skipping dinner while enjoying the new, bleeding fast, machine. Not so easy. Over the years, something clever happened and the power supply connection to the motherboard changed. I couldn't just plug in my old supply and fly, instead I was left with an agenda for the next day: get a power supply.

Next evening, all's in place. Time to boot, the moment of truth. Guess what: it mostly worked. Only, mostly wasn't quite there. Here's the problem: if I install the proprietary driver for my new gpu, the thing would just fail and I'd be thrown to low graphics mode. Let's go directly to the lesson: I was booting the wrong kernel version and the driver didn't work with kernel header from that version.

It was surprising. I update my system whenever there's an update, including kernel update, so how can I be booting the wrong version? Turns out it's a side effect of a sloppy patchwork I did months ago. I'm booting 2.6.24, while I actually have 2.6.27 (x_x). I have two HDDs, my system is installed in the second one, the first one has an emergency OS. The computer uses the grub on the emergency disk, which knows I have an OS on the second disk, but that grub wasn't updated whenever I upgrade the kernel, the grub on another disk was, and I couldn't use that due to some penguin-up I did some time ago. I can't remember what.

The fix was simple though: just put lines describing the new kernel on the emergency disk's grub list. It's in /boot/grub/menu.lst on the respective disks, don't forget to back it up first. After that, the gpu driver installed in a breeze and mad giggling ensued. I used envyng.

Some other practical lesson:

  • Ctrl+Alt+F1...6 for a command line in case the GUI hates you. ☆☆☆
  • sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg to restore your X settings in case something goes fubar there.
  • htop is very useful, I relied on it a lot to search and kill processes during the driver snafu.
  • Keeping your computer running with barely passable patchworks would backfire eventually.

Now I can say to Firefox to go ahead and eat all that memory (but really, it shouldn't!), and all my HD videos run without slowdown, I don't even have to close any other program before playing them too! Goodbye framedrop. Maybe I'll try some games when I have the time.

Next, I should think up some use for the old machine. Obsolete or not, it has got enough juice to do many neat things, and as long as it's not used, it's just crampying up my cramped place.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping Count

Rain. Once I got rained pretty generously in the middle of a run. It felt kind of nice, but the novelty wore off soon after I got soaked. Luckily, hot shower got me off flu just with a little sneezing the next morning.

I still run, though unfortunately, not so disciplined. Still, I'm making progress. When in the beginning I could only do one lap on the running track before walking, I can do six now, but there's a problem. I said running is great because I can't think much; that get in the way of something: keeping count. It's useless to say I could do six laps if I lost count in the middle. Here's what I do then:

Strings. I tie them around my fingers and take one off after each lap. Problem solved. They're slightly distracting though.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Island Bound

Sea. What kind of thoughts does it invoke? It used to be not so much; salty water, sand grains hard to shake off sandals, weird fishes, blazing sun —heat, sweat, ice cream!

Looking at the sea is kind of like looking at a clear night sky: sometimes I just can't get my eyes off it, even when it stays practically the same for minutes, then I take my camera.

This one's from East Coast, Singapore. Point-and-shoot didn't seem like the right stuff to point at cargo ships deep in the night, so I waited until sunrise, riding around on a bicycle talking to myself.

This one's from the sea near Fjaltring, somewhere in western Denmark. The wind was so strong I was bombarded with sand, and my glasses ...weren't the cleanest after.

From the same place, same time, though the sun does look heavy and ominous in this one.

Another one, I just like the scenery so much.