charm's blog

Job Posting (1)

Job Posting

Warehouse/Shipper-Receiver
Computer Recycling

Full-time Temporary
Job Creation Partnership Project **
Funded through Service Canada

March 26, 2007 (40 weeks)
$423 per week

The Working Centre’s Computer Recycling project has moved to a new location and is expanding its outreach to local businesses to encourage the recycling and refurbishing of used computers.

This project will expand the quality and number of refurbished computers made available to people living on a limited income.

The Warehouse/Shipper-Receiver position will:

CD and DVD availability at meetings.

The Distribution Library & Burning CDs & DVDs at Meetings

With more new members showing up to meetings it seems prudent to provide some sort of CD/DVD Linux-distribution burning facility. It would be nice to provide something like the Freedom Toaster http://www.freedomtoaster.org/, and in fact I've been working on putting together a low-end (Pentium III 1GHz) version of the Toaster for The Working Centre's Computer Recycling Project, which is now in the basement of 66 Queen Street (door on Charles Street - hey, I'm Charles on Charles now). But in the meeting space we have to have something mobile. I propose to bring my notebook which has a DVD/CD Burner. If other members are also willing to burn CDs and DVDs at meetings please feel free to offer to do so at meetings.

New version of LinuxBIOS

New release of LinuxBIOS 2-2536.

The LinuxBIOS team has released a new version of LinuxBIOS 2-2536. The team has listed a number of compelling reasons to use the BIOS:

  • 100% Free Software BIOS (GPL)
  • No royalties or license fees!
  • Fast boot times (3 seconds from power-on to Linux console)
  • Avoids the need for a slow, buggy, proprietary BIOS
  • Runs in 32-Bit protected mode almost from the start
  • Written in C, contains virtually no assembly code
  • Supports a wide variety of hardware and payloads
  • Further features: netboot, serial console, remote flashing

More allegations against Microsoft

Comes v. MS: Plaintiffs Get Right to Inform US DOJ of Alleged MS Noncompliance on APIs
It seems that Microsoft is in hot water again for not properly documenting APIs in accordance with a 2002 ruling against them. The complete story is on Groklaw.

One person, tiger99, commented that "I have had to use some of the documentation that he [Bill Gates] wrote, many years ago, which was undescribably awful. It was only a manual for Basic, which other suppliers invariably were able to produce to a decent standard." This reminds me of how little value you get when you buy Windows. The manuals that come with Windows are thinner than some of the magazines I subscribe to. There's no comparison (weight-wise) between a Microsoft Windows manual and the SuSE 9.2 manuals I got when I bought SuSE 9.2 a couple of years ago. Even better, the SuSE manuals were very well written.

More pre-meeting ideas/rambling

Earlier in the year I started an hour long session with volunteers at The Working Centre to get them used to using Linux. I did some open office presentations. If people are interested, I could also show them during the pre-meeting.

In an unrelated note... I've also started putting the LUG books into Tellico.

January Pre-meeting notes...

Next meeting at the pre-meeting we'll be showing a 17 minute video about getting "Dad" to switch to Linux. Dad, of course could be anyone with an interest in computers. This should leave lots of time for new Linux user questions and casual conversation.

Password hacking

So I have this Norstar Startalk Mini that I have to get going, but we've lost all the Windows software (a real shame), and no one knows the administrator password. I connected the serial cable from the Startalk box to one of the Linux boxes under my desk, launched minicom on /dev/ttyS0 with 300 7N1 and voila: I got to see the box doing system startup tests.

At this point I tried sending some break signals, hoping to stop the box before it loaded the system software... but no luck.

I looked into minicom's internal scripting language, runscript. If you have minicom installed you should be able to just type man runscript to see the commands runscript will take.

What to do with the library...

As many of you know our LUG library has grown pretty large. At one point I was carting down 8 boxes of books, plus the projector, DVD, and speakers (often with the help of LUG members - thank you all). I've managed to reduce what I cart down to 4 boxes because I have quite a few on shelves around Computer Recycling -- but this limits what people see at each meeting. I'd like to make everything available to everyone, but it's a lot of work carting everything up and down, and I like to get out in time to join everyone for the after meeting meeting at Zekes.

I think what I'm going to do is bring down a couple of boxes with a good selection of titles. The library is on the web site. If people email me a couple of days ahead of each meeting I can confirm or deny whether a book is in or out. I think I'll work on managing and updating the library if no one minds.

New project

A few months back I did a presentation on how easy it is to create Family Guy's Stewie using Inkscape. Well, I've started using those skills to reinvent the graphics for a video game. I'm not sure if the game is GPL or not - it is available for Linux. Until I figure out whether it is or not I'm holding back the graphics... all I'll say is that my graphics kick the current graphics' butt!

More RAM for the SUN Ultra 2

I have a Sun Ultra 2 at home that I've been building up step by step, it's a sick hobby. There's something about old hardware I couldn't buy 10 years ago that gets me going. I bought the Sun Ultra 2 (a whopping 200MHz processor) awhile back for $19.99 US plus $14US shipping. Considering it weighs about 50 lbs the shipping was a bloody bargain!

It was advertised with 64MB of RAM, which I was sure couldn't be correct, because the RAM must be installed in quads (yes, 4 sticks at a time) and I thought the minimum configuration was (32MB x 4). As it turns out, my box had 8 x 16MB. One of the sticks of RAM wasn't seated properly.

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