Hacking While Mir Burns

I’m having fun tonight. On my main Linux box I’m hacking on a weird pile of code that’s a combination of C, Perl, and Javascript while I listen to some old Krafwerk CDs. On my other box, I’ve got several nice real-time Mir telemetry feeds. The streaming video feed is too clogged up to be useful but CNN has a cool 3-D graphic that updates once a minute and there’s also a map showing Mir’s current position. NASA also has a Mir position tracker but it’s not as interesting as some of the others. I couldn’t find any live webcam views of the Taco Bell Mir Impact Target though, so I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out if we get free tacos.

Robots Fighting Fires

The DPRG held the regional for the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Robot Contest in Dallas today. I took a few photos and will try to post them tomorrow or Monday on robots.net along with a summary of the action.

Otherwise, I spent the day hacking on a Perl/DBI/PostgreSQL project. I’m looking forward to the release of PostgreSQL v7.1 (which will happen real soon now, hopefully). I keep hearing good things about how fast it is.

I also ran across the new 1040.com tax form for recently laid-off employees of dot-coms. I know a few people who’ll need it this year.

Music and Robots

I had a nice quiet weekend for change. Nothing really interesting to report other than a DSO concert on Saturday. Two Prokofiev pieces – first the Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Opus 19 and second the music used in the Russian films, Ivan the Terrible parts 1 and 2. Interestingly, they had decided to enhance the experience by putting a big screen up in the performance hall and showing a collection of excerpts from the films as the music was played. While not exactly a Robert Wilson production, it was still quite interesting. And an excellent performance of both Prokofiev pieces as well.

This week I’m trying to split my time between work that pays the bills and continued work on robots.net which is a bit more interesting. Things are picking up quickly with the site and we’re getting an impressive number of hits already. Actual registered users are accumulating fairly slowly so there’s not much discussion going on yet but I guess it takes a while for these things to reach critical mass. If you’re interested in robotics, feel free to stop by and check things out.

Unix Package Managers

I spent the day yesterday fighting with an HP-UX system trying to get OpenSSH installed. It was an OpenSSH binary in HP’s goofy DEPOT format. You really begin to appreciate things like RPM when you have deal with the Sun or HP package managers. HP has a fancy Motif GUI package manager but it couldn’t see the OpenSSH depot file even when pointed right to the directory it was in. Interestingly there were a dozen other depot packages in this directory and the package manager GUI could only see one of them. I eventually found the command line version and got the package installed only to discover it was missing all the files that are supposed to end up in the /etc directory. I ended up grabbing the source and doing it the old fashioned way.

Today I’m working on robots.net again. The traffic is begining to pick up and so far my mutant version of mod_virgule is holding up pretty well. It’s now syndicating content to xmlTree – though I found some more hard-coded references to Advogato in the RSS code I had to alter for our site until I get time to make them configurable.


Too much hacking this week or I would have posted some news a bit more often. I’ve been totally absorbed in adapting mod_virgule to use on a new project I’m working on, robots.net. I’ve made a bunch of new changes to the mod_virgule code, a few of which may eventually work their way in the official code someday. In the meantime, I’ll tar my hacked version and make it available sometime next week.

In between hacking and other work, I’ve been watching the headlines on the latest Islamic nuts. This time they’re destroying 1,000 years of the world’s cultural heritage that can never be replaced. Seems to me if we can manage to take military action to stop nuts like this when they endanger the world’s oil supply, we could do the same when they endanger the world’s historical and art objects.