DIARY 2006














Thu, Dec 28

<02:36 EEST> Continuing with the immensely popular theme of Linux libata drivers ;) I'd like to note that my server is running fine, while the laptop continues with the old drivers. In addition to PCMCIA flash card problems, the libata drivers don't like usb-storage either.

This has come to my attention as I've got two such devices in a short amount of time; I bought a USB ATA adapter last week to accommodate an extra CD ripping drive, and Father Christmas brought a 1-gig flash key :) The adapter was a pretty good bargain as it handles both sizes of PATA as well as SATA (though I don't have any SATA devices yet). Both of these are intended for use with the laptop only, so I don't have to 'downgrade' the server away from libata.

So, there was once again a family Christmas in Varkaus with surprisingly little travel woes. With a good choice of train schedules, the one-way trip takes only an hour and a half, which is probably the maximum one can spend with a bunch of drunken students of technology ;)

Thu, Dec 14

<03:25 EEST> As a part of experimenting with Linux 2.6.19, I've finally got this laptop to work with libata. It's a SCSI-based driver framework that, in addition to giving neat device names that begin with an s ;) seems to provide better performance than the old IDE subsystem. According to hdparm, disc caching to RAM is much faster than before, which explains why silly things like web browsing seem to work more nimbly.

Unfortunately, flash cards on PCMCIA don't work (though pata_pcmcia as such does work, with a real hard drive). I even tried to use the old IDE-based driver with no success. Other people have reported similar problems. It's pretty essential for dealing with my camera and my synth, so I'll have to live without libata for a while.

It's technical stuff like this that I like to work with, after a number of social events. Last week was pretty heavy with JYT's pre-Christmas party with me as the head organizer, and other parties including one with more of the lovely Star Boys :) At the Xmas party there was fine live electronica performed by Kone-Kekkone, whose style bears slight resemblance to Aavikko while being weirder in some ways. All this with a pair of Yamaha PSRs, which are far from serious musical instruments :)

In addition to cozy JYT circles, I've acquainted with a new university society called Yleissivistävä kerho. The name is pretty hard to translate accurately, and even after some studies in education there's no direct concept of 'sivistys' in English. Basically it means well-rounded education. The society organizes discussions/debates on specialist topics that one person introduces each time. The idea strikes a chord in my idea of student life, which is something else besides focusing narrowly on your subject. On the other hand I'm not too fond of hanging out in bars; Rentukka was not the best possible place to discuss maths and music, but it was much better than nothing.

Fri, Dec 1

<02:25 EEST> On the first day of Christmas my Whatsup came to see four Star Boys and Quality.

JYT showed this traditional Finnish Xmas performance at an international university gathering, and I took part as a first-timer, namely the King of the Moors. Later I wanted to do something with the dark face paint, and played a little with my camera and The Gimp. The result brings to life a vague in-joke relating to the long black Matrix-ish coat. More interestingly, I learned a little more about Gimp's features, particularly concerning layers.

Quality entered my consciousness through reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In some ways the book reads somewhat like a grown-up version of Sophie's World, with one of the drastic differences being that Pirsig has developed a new kind of philosophy. It's a sort of synthesis of Eastern philosophies into a Western framework and terminology, a value-based metaphysics. In my impression, the three main manifestations of Quality are metta, mindfulness, and hackitude :)

The book is occasionally rather heavy with formal philosophy, at least for a novel. Nevertheless, it's very inspirational in a down-to-Earth way. For example, the book has reinforced my stance on one big question of personal future: Quality works better in a small scale. You can better the world by doing your own thing with Quality, by showing a high-Quality example. There's no rush to try and accomplish something big, since you cannot mass-produce Quality. So, at least for now, I'm still on my way to become a teacher, while doing time with art and science on the side.

Risto A. Paju