DIARY 2006














Mon, Jun 12

<22:11 EEST> Summertime!

Finished reading two novels over a weekend. Actually I was nearing the end of one novel while going away to see my family, and I took another one with me. The first was the beginning for a SF-fantasy saga by O. S. Card.

The other book was Generation P by Victor Pelevin, a nowadays rather famous Russian author whose novel Omon Ra I enjoyed some time ago. Realizing that I swotted the book within 24 hours, it was probably a little too quick considering the profound themes, but then again it was nicely written and quite digestible. In fact the profundities were mostly written tongue in cheek, consisting much of philosophical and marketing jargon that doesn't really mean anything new (called Heideggerism in some circles :) Then again there were grand and interesting themes that inspired further thought.

In a way, during the reading I recalled/realized that a good story always includes some exaggerated synchronicities. Being a parody of sorts, this novel raised synchronicity and conspiracy into new heights — not unlike The Illuminatus! Trilogy in many ways. In this comparison, Generation P is much easier to read and understand, if only for the facts that it's more compactly written, a shorter story overall, and the Soviet bureaucratic stereotypes are probably more familiar than the US counterparts to Finnish readers.

In spite of the reading, I managed to spend quite some time with my parents, sister and nephew. It was interesting to note that the company of familiar people didn't induce the kind of social fatigue that I often experience with many friends. It was easy to sink into a book while still being with the family.

Another key point of my 'productive' weekend was being away from computers. Thus I had to satisfy my addiction of information procesing by reading a lot :) Well, I did spend a few hours helping with a Windows 2000 installation, which doesn't count as a real computer ;) I could probably have installed half a dozen Ubuntus in that time, and stayed clear of viruses n' stuff as bonus. But what can you do, when Windows is 'obviously' so much easier :-/

Sat, Jun 3

<19:44 EEST> Heat, and how to hack it

Yesterday it felt like summer for once: ice cream, getting wet in a fountain, and drying out in the sun without feeling chilly. I think I got some tan as well.

In the evening I felt nerdy again and decided to give undervolting a try. Since Pentium M processors have software-controlled operating voltages, there's a rather simple patch in Linux to gain manual control. It seems that CPUs of the very same model are unique in the sense that some can tolerate lower voltages than others. Too low a voltage makes the machine crash, and too high 'only' has the problem of generating heat. Thus it's nice to find a balance that gives out the minimum heat while keeping the box stable.

The patch installed with zero problems and plays nicely along with Suspend2. As explained in the wiki, even when you find voltages that don't quite crash the system, you can get occasional instabilities in the form of rounding errors. These can be found with GIMPS. Anyway, after hours and hours of testing I've gotten huge improvements in terms of cool and quiet: for example, at the lowest frequency of 600 MHz I can run full CPU-bound tasks with zero fan noise :)

The change in voltages was in fact quite substantial: the machines's default range (set by ACPI BIOS, apparently) being 988...1340 mV (for frequencies of 600...1600 MHz), and my final stable range of 700...972 mV.

And now for something less geeky. This Monday I bought a diatonic harmonica in C, for my role in the upcoming blues comedy, and it's opened up a world of new music for me. For example, my theme has to be played in G because that's the way to get a blues scale in a diatonic C major tuning. There are other interesting possibilities for playing different modes in their respective keys. I've also learned basic single-note and bending techniques. It's interesting and challenging in many ways compared to chromatic instruments; on one hand it's limited by the diatonic scale, but on the other you can use bending to get over the limits while gaining a new kind of sound. And then you have the modes to experiment with as well.

Risto A. Paju