Friday, November 18, 2005

I tried to look at the pictures in camera, but everything was crashing for some reason.

Nautlius, eog, gimp, all were having issues.

In the console, I was seeing errors like:
** (eog:5662): WARNING **: URI NOT LOADED

** (eog:5662): WARNING **: Error in parse: Error on line 3799 char 15: Odd character 'h', expected a '>' character to end the start tag of element 'Ucoming'

** (eog:5662): WARNING **: Error on line 3799 char 15: Odd character 'h', expected a '>' character to end the start tag of element 'Ucoming'

** (eog:5662): WARNING **: URI NOT LOADED

** (eog:5662): WARNING **: Error in parse: Error on line 3799 char 15: Odd character 'h', expected a '>' character to end the start tag of element 'Ucoming'

** (eog:5662): WARNING **: Error on line 3799 char 15: Odd character 'h', expected a '>' character to end the start tag of element 'Ucoming'

Both eog and gimp were complaining about the odd character.

I eventually worked out what was going on. My home directory had filled up yet again.

I thought I'd fixed this the other day, by moving firefox's cache directory, and putting a symlink to it, but it seems that firefox doesn't like that, so it just trashes the symlink, and rebuilds it's cache in my home dir.

Browsing had caused it to fill the partition again. I trashed the cache again, and cleaned up more disk space in the partition.

This didn't help, apps were still crashing. I tried logging out and back in, but that didn't fix it. I even tried rebooting, but that didn't fix it either.

Hmm, something's stuffed up hard.

I decided to use strace on eog, when trying to look at the pictures, and I found that it was reading a file ".recently-used", just before it would spit out that error.

I checked in the file, line 3799, and found that it was indeed invalid, based on the format of all other lines.

It looks like the disk filled up during it trying to write in the file, so it had not been able to save the file properly, and resulted in corruption.

I deleted the section out, 3 or 4 lines, and then everything started working again.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I got around to using the new earpeice thing that I bought at the computer fair, it seems quite groovy.

I tried to get Skype working, but I had no end of issues with the sound.

I could make one call, but then no sounds would work in Skype, whether it be sound effects in the UI, or trying to talk to someone, or making a test call.

My mate called, and said that his ADSL modem was having problems. He said it wouldn't power on. I asked him to check if the power supply was warm (first test, to see if the transformer is working), but he said it was cold.

I suspect the plug pack has packed up. I said I'd come around and look at it later.

I continued mucking around with Skype, and everytime I ran it, sounds were blocked after first call.

I googled around, and I found this page, all about the issue.

I tried updating Skype from 1.2.011 to, but it was a waste of time, didn't fix the problem.

I read through the forum thread again, and decided to investigate "skype_dsp_hijacker ".

The link in the forum is to here. That site seems really slow, so I also found the download page here.

I downloaded it, and set it up, it reads like it will fix my problem, but it didn't make any difference, the card was still stuck.

I was also seeing the error "/dev/dsp-1: Device or resource busy".

I rebooted my machine, to clear up the sound card, and then I used the hijacker to spawn Skype.

I tested it, calling the test number a few times, and my sound maintained properly.

When I checked the console, I saw:
hijacker: open DSP /dev/dsp flags: 2
hijacker: mic /dev/dsp opened with fd 133
hijacker: speaker /dev/dsp opened with fd 134
hijacker: open DSP /dev/dsp flags: 2
hijacker: SKYPE BUG WORKAROUND, open mic /dev/dsp which wasn't closed. closing it before reopening
hijacker: mic /dev/dsp opened with fd 133
hijacker: speaker /dev/dsp opened with fd 134

Aha, so it is working.

I went to the computer fair, for the first time in about 8 months, probably more.

It seemed like a really poor turnout. A mate of mine was there, trying to get some 10k RPM SATA drives, and couldn't get anything bigger than 76GB, he gave up.

My mate had asked me to look for ADSL modems. There was only one guy with Linksys stuff, and all he had was a plain ADSL2 modem, and wanted $115 for it. I think that's a bit rich.

I might have to trip into the city again, and get another WAG54G.

I saw the USB hub I bought for almost $20, going for $7, and saw a much nicer powered USB hub, for $20.

I've given up on that wireless bridge I bought a while ago, I think the guy I bought it off is trying to claim the money back from Australia Post, so I need to get a wireless adapter.

I bought a USB one, for $45 or something, a 54Mbit adapter, not too bad.

I also bought a little headset thing, that sits over one ear, with a microphone, for using with skype, or other stuff on my laptop. It's pretty small, so I won't worry about carrying it around.

On my way out, I bought an FM transmitter, it's a "Songbird", which looks like a knockoff of the Belkin one.

It got pretty sad range from the radio, so I expect an aerial longer than 10cm will help.

I opened it up, and I've found the aerial lead, I need to get a length of wire (probaly about 6 feet will do :-) and replace it.

I went back around my mate's place in the afternoon, and continued trying to get IPCop to authenticate using PPPOE with the ADSL modem in bridge mode.

I tried resetting the modem to defaults, and then I set it to boot in "clean" mode, and I could no longer connect to it with ethernet.

I read the manual, and there's a reset button, but it doesn't factory reset the unit, it's just the same as turning it off and on again.

I tried doing it a bunch of times, in case you had to hold it, or press it at a certain time to get it to factory reset, but I couldn't find anyway to do it.

I plugged in the alcatel ADSL modem, that refused to get line sync, which again wouldn't sync, and I came back home, where I could research how to fix the modem.

I wondered if it was something like the NB1300 I've got, that gets screwed up, and needs to be reflashed to get it working again.

I googled for details of fixing modem, and I eventually found this page, detailing problems with Netgear units, that are supposed to use the same chipset.

It had a link to this page, which has lots of excellent information, even though it's in mixed language.

Basically, the gist of it, is that you connect a serial terminal to the modem, watch the boot messages, and then short a couple of pins on the header near the flash chip to cause the checksum of the flash to fail, and the modem falls into TFTP server mode, where you can upload a new firmware.

This sounds quite viable, the main issue though, is that the serial port on the modem is round, and is a 4 pin mini din, ie SVHS socket.

I raided all the cables I have, because I thought I saw one like that the other day, with a round end, and a DB9. I found it, then realised it's a Mac cable, with the 8 or 9 pin round serial port connect for Mac, so that was no good.

Then I remembered about a small analogue modem I've got, that has another similar cable. I found it, but the cable has the full pin set in it too.

This must be a custom cable.

While looking for details of the pinouts of the port, since I think I have a spare SVHS plug hanging around, and I could make up the cable, I found this page, which makes references to the modem, and pinouts, but for a parallel cable, used for reflashing the modem.

It didn't have pinouts for anything on that page either.

I couldn't find the pinouts, and didn't the right cable, so I figured I'd just try shorting the pins at different times after turning on the modem, and see if I could fluke it into TFTP server mode.

That didn't work, I couldn't do it.

I thought about it, and I realised it was going to be pretty simple, since there are only 4 pins, so there's going to be signal gnd, rx and tx, and the combination won't be that hard to find.

I got some short lengths of wire, and pushed them into each pin in the socket, got some aligator clips, and the usb -> serial adapter for my laptop.

I put the clips on pins 2/3/5 in the db9 serial, for rx/tx/gnd (or vice versa, I can never remember which is rx/tx, and it's swapped in the db25).

I then randomly clipped them to the pins on the modem, and started up minicom. I'd found references to the modem serial running at 38400, 8N1, which minicom was configured for.

I turned the modem on, and nothing happened, just the usual thing, of the power LED on the modem coming on, then the diag LED flashing for a second, and going off.

I moved the order of the clips around, and tried again, no luck.

I think it was probably about the 10th or 12th combination that worked. I turned on the modem, and saw something like:

Starting POST - V2.2
SDRAM ... Passed
Loader Checksum ... Passed
Loader (V2.06) Self-Extracting ... Done
Decompressing UMON (V1.62) ... Done/Activated
Flash ATMEL AT45DB161 (Capacity=2112K, PageSize=528, TotalPages=4096)

with more output after that, ending with a normal looking decompress/load/run of the software.

The pinout I ended up with was as follows..

db9/2 -> modem 4
db9/3 -> modem 1
db9/5 -> modem 3

Where the modem pins are labelled clockwise, starting at the bottom (7 oclock position).

I saw something about it running in clean mode, and I wondered if that was anything to do with why the ethernet interface wouldn't come up.

I rebooted the modem, and when it said it was checking APPCODE, I shorted pins 2/3 near the flash chip. Nothing happened, the checksum passed, and the modem booted as normal, with no link still.

I tried a few more times, but had no luck. I wondered if they were the right pins to short. I tried sorting pins 1/2, and that time I caused the checksum to fail, and the modem went into TFTP mode.

It said it was running on, I had it plugged into my laptop, and had detected a 100Mbit link.

I configured my laptop's wired interface to, and I tried TFTPing to it, but it timed out. I looked at the ethernet traffic, and it wasn't responding to ping, or ARP, or anything, which is probably to be expected, since the link isn't up.

I even tried adding the ARP entry manually, but this didn't help.

I rebooted it, and let it boot normally, to the CLI.

I tried to work out if there was a way to factory reset the modem from the command line, or something, but I couldn't find one, and the help was next to useless.

I also tried to work out how to switch the config file the modem was using, to get it to boot in "normal" or "default" mode or something, but I couldn't find that either.

I got a call from my mate, and apparently the alcatel I'd plugged in before I left had line synced.

I went back around to his place, and it did look to be working. I patched the modem to the wireless AP I've got around there, and he was able to browse on his laptop.

We went out for a couple of hours, and then I wasn't interested in clubbing anymore, and I'd left my bike at my mate's place, so I went back there.

The link was still working when I got there, I browsed for a bit, and then I went home.

I continued working on the ADSL modem I had there (even though it was about 2am).

I wondered if there was a problem with getting an ethernet link because I was using a straight through cable.

I looked for a crossover cable, but I don't seem to have one.

I tried connecting the modem to a hub, and a switch, but it wouldn't even autonegotiate the speed with either of those.

I looked for a CLI mode manual for the "Viking" devices, and I found it, here.

It's brilliant, all the commands are defined in there, parameters and all.

I found on page 75, details of the "create ethernet intf" command.

I worked out the command I needed to use was as follows:

create ethernet intf ifname eth-0 ip mask

but it just returned:

Error: Size command not executed

Hmm. I turned on verbose mode ("verbose on").

I looked in the manual again, and on page 646, I found the "size" command documented.

I ran it:


and it returned:

Entry Created
Max PPE Sessions : 1 Max TBG MAC address : 256
Max VCs : 2 Max 1483 VCs : 1
Max PFRaw Rules : 96 Max PFRaw Subrules : 68
Max IPF Rules : 50 Max L2TP Tunnel : 1
Max L2TP Sess Per Tunnel: 1 Max L2TP Peer RWS : 4

At this point I noticed the LAN link LED on the modem was on, sweet.

So I had another go with the original command:

create ethernet intf ifname eth-0 ip mask

This time I got:

Entry Created
Interface : eth-0 MTU : 1500
Interface Sec Type : Private Configured IP Address :
Mask : UseDhcp : False
Physical Interface : - Nat Direction : IN
Configured Duplex : Auto Configured Speed : Auto
Duplex : Full Speed : AutoNeg In Prog
Operational Status : Down Admin Status : Up

After configuring my laptop's wired interface to, I then found I could access the web interface. Hooray!.

For some reason though, the normal login didn't work, and I had to use root/root as the username/password.

I downloaded the latest firmware, from here, and then I extracted it, and loaded it through the web interface.

The unit sat there for a while, and in minicom I saw:


At which point it rebooted, and I watched the serial output:

Starting POST - V2.2
SDRAM ... Passed
Loader Checksum ... Passed
Loader (V2.06) Self-Extracting ... Done
Decompressing UMON (V1.62) ... Done/Activated
Flash ATMEL AT45DB161 (Capacity=2112K, PageSize=528, TotalPages=4096)
First time boot up, verifying flash device checksums ...
CFG1: 49632 : Checksum Passed (00000323) ...
CFG2: 49632 : Checksum Passed (000002F8) ...
ALRM: 8448 : Checksum Passed (000002F6) ...
DHCP: 66000 : Checksum Passed (00000356) ...
FACT: 16384 : Checksum Passed (000894EC) ...
MANU: 4096 : Checksum Passed (00004A85) ...
BOOT: 4096 : Checksum Passed (3F404B89) ...
LOAD: 84480 : Checksum Passed (78EAD288) ...
FILE: 259776 : Checksum Passed (01FA8C2D) ...
DSLC: 77616 : Checksum Passed (11C384C7) ...
APPC: 1502160 : Checksum Passed (90BBF06F) ...


Decompressing "TEAppl.gsz" (1435033->3720144) ... Done
Text Segment Size = 3352096 bytes
Data Segment Size = 368048 bytes
Bss Segment Size = 960560 bytes
System Stack Size = 16536 bytes
HISR Stack Size = 16536 bytes
NetBuffer Pool Size= 712224 bytes
System Memory Size = 2160944 bytes
Start of DSPText = 207c0800 bytes
Decompressing "TEMod.gsz" (64414->152440) ... Done
Decompressing "TEDSL.gsz" (76393->166740) ... Done
File System Memory Size = 389120 bytes
UnTar File System \...\...\..\\.....\\\..\......................\.\..\..\......e
Normal Execution Mode
CfgInit: System Coming up from Default Configuration
Welcome to Viking
GlobespanVirata Inc., Software Release VIK-2.1.040827a1
Copyright (c) 2001-2003 by GlobespanVirata, Inc.
Thu Jan 01 00:00:03 1970 : STATUS ALARM : System Up

Which looked a lot more promising, because there were more files going through, and this time the LAN link was on, and the DSL LED was flashing.

The settings had changed back to the default, and the username/password were back to the normal admin/admin.

It looks like it's back working again.

Since the chipset is the same as used in the Netgear DM602, and I'd read a reference to someone loading the RTA firmware into a DM602, I wondered if I could do it the other way.

I went to look for a DM602 firmware, but on the Netgear support page, there are only 2 firmwares. The first says "not for Australia or Germany", and the second one says "for Germany". Great.

I continued flicking through the CLI mode manual, and I read the "quick reference" at the back.

It seems the "reboot" commands takes params, of the config to boot with.

Argh, it seems that all I had to do was "reboot default", to get it fixed. I tested this, I did a "reboot clean", and it booted with no ethernet link.

I did "reboot default", and it came back up, with ethernet link, and ready to go.

Friday, November 11, 2005

My mate called me, and told me that he'd had a Telstra tech out to test the ADSL line, and apparently the issue was with the modem, not the line.

He's now had 2 alcatel speed touch modems shit themselves. They really must be quality equipment.

He found a Dynalink RTA100+ modem in an ozemail install kit that was never used, and set that up.

It had it's own issues though, it would take ages for the web interface to come up, and the port forwarding didn't seem to work, and NAT was broken, because LimeWire wouldn't connect through it.

I grabbed a spare machine he had hanging around, and put a couple of extra network cards in it, and install IPCop on it.

I reconfigured the crappy RTA100+ in full bridge mode, so that IPCop could deal with the authentication, but I couldn't get that working even for some reason.

First it was the same issue I had when I setup my IPCop box, it detected the LAN cards in the wrong order, so I had the ADSL modem plugged into the blue interface, instead of the RED, once I sorted that, it would almost connect.

There was PPP/LCP stuff going on, but then there was some "denied requesting message" error (or something similar), and it wouldn't connect.

I tried configuring the bridging several times, and gave up at about 3am, and came home.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I noticed my IPCop machine had a couple of updates available.

I installed the first one, 1.4.9 I think it was, and then I tried to install .10.

Somehow the .9 update had broken everything, I couldn't access the web interface, and I couldn't even ssh to the machine.

It was still routing though, so that was ok, but I didn't know how long it would last. I logged in locally, and rebooted the machine.

Installed the second update, and rebooted again.

After that, I tested the status screen, and found that it wouldn't display. When I turned on the debugging output, I found that it was caused by that samba package I tried to install a while ago, which had incorrectly edited the status page code, so I fixed that up.

I've had skype running a bit recently, not really using it, just leaving it in the background, and I keep having people speaking foreign languages wanting to add me to their list.

I don't really have a problem with that, but today, I started getting spam. Here's the message:

[Thu Nov 10 2005 04:57:55] Sergej Good day, many humans select a possibility with little time their income to doubling, and from at home! I would like being able to reach you to show like also you that. Please you take 7 minute time around the video to regard: my skypename ist:sergej-ws

I did a bit of googling, and I turned up a similar thing happening to someone else, here.

I wonder if there's somewhere to complain to skype, and get these accounts closed, but I suppose since it's free, they'll just open a new one.

I hate spammers.

Paris Hilton crashes Bentley..

Yeah, you've probably already heard about it, but I thought it was so good I'd have to mention it anyway.

The dumbass' dumbass boyfriend drives a car worth about $280 000 AUD into the back of a parked truck.

Apparently there's a video here, but I haven't been able to watch it.

I tried to watch it on my windows machine at work, using firefox, but was told that I need the "Mozilla ActiveX plugin". That to me sounds like a Really-Bad-Thing (TM), and I won't be installing that.

I tried to watch it in IE after that (I would have removed IE if it wasn't part of windows), but it tells me that I need a newer version. Forget it, not putting an even more bloated version of IE on there.

There was a big storm, and we had some power issues. All the machines, crappy Acers, except my Dell rebooted. That happened a couple of times during the day.

I was watching the bureau of meteorology site, and there was a huge storm heading for work. I thought about leaving work, and racing it, but I didn't think I would make it, because it looked like it was moving about 40km in 10 minutes.

Someone said it looked like it was going to hail, so I moved my bike under the building, but then nothing happened, there was a tiny bit of rain, and the storm went past, up north.

The wind caused some powerlines to get blown down though, and the New England highway was closed for a while, causing a big traffic jam, I just waited at work.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I didn't take my laptop to work with me today, just the files I needed on a usb drive.

I intended to take back the faulty 128MB drive while I was there, but when I plugged it into my machine at work, it worked, I don't know what the go is there, because it crashed the USB driver on my laptop twice.

When I plugged my ipod into my work machine, so as to not run the battery down while listening to it all day, itunes popped up, and told me that there was an update available for my ipod.

I knew this, since it did this ages ago, and I downloaded the update, but never updated it, because I was worried that I'd have to reload all my music.

I downloaded the update again (all 55MB!), and forgot all about it.

At the end of the day, as I was about to leave work, I noticed the updater on the desktop. I googled around, and I found that you can update the ipod without having to reload all the music.

That's the "update" function, rather than the "restore" function, which wipes the music/whole device.

I decided to do it, because I'm sick of the ipod not turning on, and requiring a reset constantly.

I ran through the update, waited, and then it came up and told me to connect the wall power supply.

Uhh.. that's at home, 100km away. I tried resetting the ipod, and plugging and unplugging it, to see if it would just update anyway.

I googled around, for a way to update to ipod, without the charger.

I found this page, which mentions that the wall charger is required, because the firmware is updating.

That's fair enough, but the thing's been charging all day, I doubt the battery is going to go flat while it spends 30 seconds flashing the firmware.

That page mentioned that the USB connector has the power pins longer than the data pins, so it's possible to half plug in the plug, and have only the power pins connected.

I tried to trick the ipod by doing this, several times, but couldn't get it to work.

I wondered if perhaps the USB sockets on my machine had taken the pin length into consideration, and that the power pins in the socket were shorter than the data pins or something.

(Well, it's not too much of a stretch, since the USB ports on my Dell machine at work are backwards to start with).

I got a small piece of paper and I put it in the plug, covering the 2 center, data pins, and inserted it.

No luck, the ipod must be able to tell that it's connected via USB, and not the firewire cable, like when I built the portable charger with the 5v regulator etc, which the ipod refused to charge off.

Oh well, I figured I'd just have to fix it when I got home. So I rode all the way home, over an hour, with no music.

Would it really have been that hard, to have a dialog box/question come up, before I updated the device, telling me that I needed my wall charger to complete the update?

Then I could have cancelled the update, copied the updater onto my USB drive, and done the update at home, where my wall charger was. Thanks Apple, brilliant design.

Anyway, I got home, and I plugged the ipod into the wall charger.

The ipod rebooted a couple of times, and then a status bar went across the screen, the ipod reset again.

I looked through the menus, and found some new options it didn't have before, like "podcasts", and "audiobooks" in the music listing, and also a "shuffle music" on the main menu.

I connected it to my laptop, and it just connected, it didn't need to reset to connect. When I unmounted and ejected it, it just went back to the menu, and didn't need a reset. Hooray, that always pissed me off before.

I guess this means now, that I can connect the ipod to my machine, then unmount and eject it, but leave it connected, and then I can listen to it, without running the battery out.

I suppose the update was worth it, but having to ride 100km home, with no music, was quite boring, again, a warning that I needed my wall charger to complete the update would have been appreciated.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I came across an old serial remote/mouse thing I bought a long time ago, an "Interact Web Remote Professional".

I used to use it with winamp, for skipping songs, and that was really cool, especially at parties, when I could lineup a play list, and wander around carrying the remote, and skip songs remotely.

I wondered about getting it running under linux, with LIRC, or something else.

I'm not sure that I will be able to get it running though, because it looks like LIRC bypasses the normal serial support, and talks to the serial port directly, and my laptop doesn't have any "real" serial ports.

All I have is a USB -> serial adapter, and it says the homebrew serial devices don't work like this, and I tried selecting a few different serial devices support, but they all reference using a real serial port.

I did a bit of googling, and turned up this page, a slashdot post (which seems to have no comments at all, my god, do I win a prize for finding a slashdot article with no comments?), and this page, which doesn't have much information at all, but it does link to the source code of support for the remote that someone wrote.

That support is based on talking to a real serial port too though, so that doesn't get me far.

I also found this page, which mentions the web remote, but this tool is running windows, and has a Red Hat sticker on his case, and doesn't even run linux.

Back in 2000, someone asked on the LIRC mailing list about support for the same remote, but received no replies, so that doesn't help much.

Oh well, I suppose I can build a usbirboy, it looks like only a few dollars worth of parts, and hopefully I can use the same remote, but it's not like I have a shortage of remotes around here.

The only problem with the usbirboy, is that I need to program the IC on it, and I don't think either my nppp (no parts pic programmer) or a phoenix will do the job, so I'd have to build the "prommer" to flash the chip.

The other possibility, is that I buy a USB "IR2PC" unit, from here, but it's $84! So I don't think I'll be doing that.

Oh, and here's a funny page, I found and read this a few years ago, and I remembered it, when I was thinking about mailing something unpackaged..

I was supposed to go to work today, but it was pissing down with rain when I woke up, so that wasn't going to happen.

I wasn't going to ride to work, for the first time in 8 months, and end up soaked through when I got there.

The rain didn't last, the sun came out towards the afternoon, so I took my new camera, and I rode out to the beach.

I planned to take a couple of photos of my bike, parked in front of a nice view, but there were too many people parked out at the beach, so I couldn't pose my bike like I wanted, and I also probably would have looked like a bit of a tool.

I just took a couple of photos of the ocean, for some tests of the camera's quality.

After I put the camera away again, I realised that I'd left it on VGA, and not 4MP, so they aren't even a good test of the camera, though they are pretty good quality pictures.

On the way back, I stopped in at the beer garden. It felt wrong to go into a bar, and order a soft drink. It was free though, surprisingly, so that wasn't too bad.

I noticed a few days ago that my 32MB USB drive has gone missing again, it's not in my laptop bag where it should be. I figured it must have come out of my laptop bag, when I was around at my mate's place, helping him fix his bike last weekend.

I went around there and had a quick look for it, but I couldn't see it anywhere. I hope it hasn't gone for good, because there are files I want on it, and I don't have them backed up (stupid).

Ah, it looks like blogger have instituted a new comment moderation system.

I've enabled it, so I can check the comments before they end up on my blog, and as a result of this, I've reenable anonymous comments.

So, go ahead, do your worst :-)

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm in the process of setting up a web based photo album, so I have somewhere to display the photos I take with my new camera.

I found a few different ones, like "yappa-ng" and "gallery2", and a couple of commercial services, "smugmug" and "pbase", but I don't like paying for things I can do myself for free.

gallery2 needs a db backend, like mysql or postgresql, and I'm not sure if I've got access to either of those on my host (and I don't intend to upload so many photos that it would need to be db driven anyway).

I went with yappa-ng, I did an initial install, and uploaded a couple of photos, it seems pretty good.

I'll have to reinstall it, because I accepted all the default settings, just to get it running, and there are things I want to customise.

Once I've reinstalled it, and configured it properly, then I'll post a URL to it.

I've finally got my license back.

Only took 3 trips to the RTA, 2 trips to the truck repair place, and a trip to the bank.

Oh, and about 6 hours.

I was in at the RTA at 9am. It took almost an hour and a half to get my license back, because the fact that I had car Ls and motorbike Ps seemed to terribly confuse the NSW system, even though I had a license like that before.

The woman serving me spent the entire time on the phone to some help desk, because she had no idea what she was doing.

She entered my license as a Ps licence, which I don't believe to be correct, and it seems neither did the system, as she couldn't go past until she changed it to an open license.

Eventually, while still on the phone, I think the process she had to go through was to delete my car Ls, change my bike to open, then change the bike to Ps, and add the car Ls back on again, and then remove the car Ls again.

Each of these needed an "override", so we had to wait while someone, presumably who knew what they were doing, since this woman didn't, came and entered in some great long code to allow whatever the woman serving me was trying to do, to occur.

At one point, there was mention of me having to do a knowledge test. WTF?

Later to that, after I'd been standing at the counter for over an hour, the woman took my photo, to go on my license, and it conveys quite well how happy I was to be there at that point. I paid for my license.

So then I wait, and I'm issued with my license, a Ps license. WTF?

I politely argued that I felt that this was the wrong license, because I had held a Ps license, either in NSW or QLD, for over 2 years, at the point it was first suspended in March, so I should have received an open license, because I'd had a rider license for over 12 months.

The woman wouldn't even listen to me, and was telling me that the time my license had been suspended did not count, but that's not what I was telling her.

Eventually, after another few minutes of going back and forth, and me explaining several times that I first received my Ps license at the end of 2002, and held it concurrently until February this year, she went off to ask someone else about it.

I waited, for several more minutes, and eventually the woman came back, with another woman, who explained the same thing, so then I had to explain again, about the timeline of my license.

They then argued that it was my fault, because I had not upgraded my license when I was eligble. I then had to explain that there was no time that I was eligible to update it, because I only held it for 5 months in NSW, before I transferred it to QLD, and I only held it in QLD for 21 months.

They were then going on about a P2 license, but there's no such thing for a bike, at which point the woman agreed with me, and went off to find out again.

I sat and waited. She came back a few minutes later, and explained that because the QLD government had cancelled my license, the 26 months I already helf my Ps for, did not count.

I have to go back on Ps, for another 12 months. So bacially, I've ended up being on my Ps for almost 4 years, and will end up travelling about 150 000 km on my Ps.

What a completely useless system.

I feel like it was hardly worth getting my license back. I wanted it so I could go to and from work, but now I can only be a hazard, going 90km/hr on the freeway, while every other vehicle goes blasting past me, going at least 120km/hr.

Oh, and put a shitty looking P plate on my bike. Like the big yellow number plate isn't fugly enough.

I was just fuming, I couldn't even be bothered to listen to the rest of the woman's pathetic excuses, and cop outs for me getting screwed by their system.

I fucking hate the RTA. Forget fire and brimstone, spending eternity in the RTA is my idea of eternal damnation.

Anyway, before this spins off too much further into a rant (ok, maybe a bit late), I went home again.

I got on my bike, and rode around to the truck repair place nearby. The bike wasn't too happy, I think that fuel was pretty crappy, considering some of it is from 8 months ago, and some from over 6 months ago.

It got there though, and I asked the guy to look at it. I waited, and noticed that the blinker I spent about 2 hours fixing the other day had fallen off again, I quickly shoved it back on, before the guy noticed.

He came and looked, it was all fine, and he filled out the blue slip. I asked him to make sure that all 1s and Is looked like they should, so the RTA wouldn't send me back again, like they did when I registered my 250.

I saw they had a sign doing QBE green slips, so I asked about green slips, but he told me they wouldn't do one for me.

He finished filling out the blue slip, and then I paid, and because the office was closed, I guessed this was why they wouldn't do the green slip, because there were no office staff there, only the grunt mechanics.

I then got some fuel around the corner, the blinker falling off again as I left the truck place, buying fuel for the first time in over 6 months, and rode home again. The bike ran a bit better on the way home, no real surprise really.

I then rang up to get quotes on green slips. I rang Allianz first, they'd sent me an invitation to insure with them, a couple of years ago, just before I transferred my bike to QLD.

I spoke to a helpful guy on there, and after asking me about my driving history, which I answered truthfully, that I'd had more than 2 "moving violations" in the last 2 years, he quoted me $398, not too bad, the only issue is that they don't have offices, only agencies, and they'd have to mail the green slip out, and I'd be waiting 5 days for it.

Hmm, I don't think so. He suggested that some banks operate as agencies for them, so I could get it over the counter there, but didn't tell me who, only suggested that I call up some banks and ask if they are an agency for Allianz.

I then rang up QBE, because when I looked around for CTP a few years ago, QBE were the cheapest, not this time however, they wanted $594. I explained that I needed the greenslip today, and the guy told me they could sort that out, if I had a credit card
, but I had no intention of paying $600, so I told him I didn't have a credit card.

I then, for a laugh, called up NRMA, since they have always been the most expensive. I didn't even get to talk to a real person, just their crappy menu system, which quoted me $596.20.

Good to see they are the most expensive as usual.

I then tried to find an agency for Allianz. There's nothing on their website, that's a bit poor. I look on the invitation they sent me a few years ago, and noticed that at the bottom, was a slip for payment, through the commonwealth bank.

I had a look on the commenwealth bank website, for details about Allianz, but found nothing. I noticed something about insurance, and when I looked into that, I found that the commonwealth bank offer green slips.

That would be quite handy, I could just go in and get one from there. When I called up, to get a quote, the phone message explained it was underwritten by Allianz, and the chick who answered transferred me to Allianz again.

As soon as they answered, I explained I was just trying to find out if the commonwealth bank was an agent for Allianz, and that I'd already just got a quote from Allianz, but the woman asked me the same questions again, so I just answered them again, and got the same quote.

I then asked if I could get it over the counter at the commonwealth bank, and was told that I could, and then the woman went about find where the nearest branch was, but I already knew that.

I then had a go at fixing the blinker again, I grabbed a back plane cover, and use some tools to shape it to fit in to hold the blinker, and I shoved it in, it seemed like it would work quite well.

I grabbed my stuff, blue slip, old Allianz invitation form etc, and I took off.

I rode into town, noticed that the blinker had turned around, facing upwards (argh), and went to the bank. I got my green slip over the counter, and I left. I went and got some breakfast (only about 1pm by now), and then I went back to the RTA to do the rego.

I waited, got served, and the woman (who actually had a sense of humour) explained that I needed details of the purchase of my bike, and previous registration of my bike, the plate on it, a number plate form, and that they couldn't accept the blue slip, because the guy hadn't put the date on it.

So I left, and I went back to the truck repair place again, and the guy asked me what was wrong. I explained that the RTA wouldn't accept the blue slip, because he hadn't put the date on it.

He put the date on it, and then I came home. I collected the details of the purchase of my bike, and the previous rego receipt, and then I went back to the RTA, for the third time today.

I took the plate off, went in, filled out the number plate form, waited again, got served.

This time I was able to get it all sorted, without issue. I handed in the old plate, got a new one, paid the rego and the plate fee, and was out of there. If only getting my license back had been so organised.

I put the plate on my bike, and now I was almost legal, I just had to put the rego sticker on my bike now.

I went out to Jaycar, and I bought a pack of 4 2400mAh rechargable NiMH batteries and a charger, to use with my camera. Only $36 or something, unlike the ripoff Dick Smith had the other day.

I came home, on the way I got a tag to put my rego sticker in. I got my bag, and I went to the supermarket. It was so nice to be able to pickup things off the shelf, and not have to worry about how much it weighed, how big it was, and if I was going to be able to walk 4 kilometres carrying it.

I had another go at fixing the blinker after that, I used another backplane cover, but I had to rip out the metal I spent 2 hours putting in there the other day. It's still not fixed either, the blinker still floats around, so I need to have another go at fixing it.

I put the rego sticker on, grabbed my ipod, and I took off. Ah, back riding. This is where I should have been 8 months ago, minding my own business, riding around.

What a complete waste of the last 8 months it has been. I've done nothing but work, and feel angry and depressed. Oh well, the lesson I learnt from it all, is don't rely on anyone.

I'd had hints at this before, but this last 8 months has proven it several times for me. my new motto: "Do not rely on anyone, for anything. You will only be let down."

OK, I'm ranting again. On my way home, I stopped in at my mate's place. He's been having some trouble with his phone, and ADSL recently.

I tried to sort it out, but I think there's a problem with the DSLAM patch the exchange, the link doesn't seem to come up or anything.

He's going to contact Telstra, and find out if they're playing silly buggers with the patching.

So that's the end of my story. I wasted almost an entire day getting my license back, and my bike back on the road, and I had to spend almost $600.

It probably would have been cheaper and easier to fly to QLD, get my bike transported up there, and get my license and rego sorted up there, and ride home again. If I'd known dealing with the RTA was going to be such a nightmare, I would have investigated that more thoroughly.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I just finished playing through SQ2, and I decided to play SQ3.

I realised this is an early SCI game though, not an AGI game, so I need to use some other software to run it.

I suppose I could have used dosbox, but apparently freesci can work better.

I fired up freesci, and discovered I had no audio. the following output didn't look very nice:

While trying to open '/dev/sequencer':
Failed to open for sound output: No such device
midi_mt32gm_open(): midiout_open failed
[SND] The MIDI device failed to open cleanly.
[SND] Disabling sound output.

I looked around, and found this, which says you can use "-Madlibemu" to get sound.

I tried this, and it worked, groovy.

By default, you get the "normal" graphics, like you'd get when running the games under dos, but freesci has built in renderers to make the graphics look better.

Apparently you need to add some lines to your config file (or create one). It took me a while to find, this is called "config" under .freesci in the user's home directory.

The details about that are just above the sound details on the page linked to above. I added the lines to the config file, and decided to add the audio line too.

I ran it up again, now I had better looking graphics, but no sound.

I checked the output, and saw:

Unknown midiout driver adlibemu

Along with the errors from before. Weird, since I followed the documentation.

As a workaround, I just aliased freesci to "freesci -Madlibemu", and then it worked.

I got my camera, finally.

I was out at lunch, and decided to have a look at JB Hifi, to see what range they had.

I noticed they had the DSC-S40, which I decided I wanted a little while ago, when I saw it on sale.

It's a Sony camera, 4.1MP, with a Carl Zeiss lens, and it runs off AAs, everything I'm after.

They didn't match the price, wanted $12 more than Kmart, but this was fine, because the one on special which I missed out on before, I think was the display model, and this one was new in the box.

The chick discounted the memory stick for it, and a carry case, so I got the whole lot, camera, 256MB mem stick, and carry case, for $350.

I wanted to get some proper batteries for it, 2300mAh NiMHs, and a charger. I didn't have time to go to Jaycar to get them though, so I had a quick look in Dick Smith, they had the batteries, and the charger, but the charger came with 4x 2000mAh batteries, which I don't really want, and it was also really expensive.

Oh well, I'll just trip out to Jaycar next week at some point, once I have my license back, and buy some.

Anyway, I set the camera up, took a couple of test photos, and attached it to my laptop.

The camera just turns up as a USB disk, and the pictures are immediately available, it's groovy, no mucking around with drivers or software or anything.

The picture quality is pretty impressive too

For some reason, I can't delete pictures off the camera from the laptop though. I might have to read the manual to work that one out.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I've got back into playing games recently.

I'm not sure what caused it, but I found myself reading about old games, like Leisure Suit Larry, and Space Quest, and went about working out if I could play them on linux.

I found various useful documents, mainly a PDF on Al Lowe's (the creator of Larry) website, here, pointing out how to play all the different Larry games on Linux.

I went about installing and configuring the necessary software.

I already had Sarien installed and configured, from a while ago, so that was able to run Larry 1 (the AGI version) fine, but only to a point, and then there's a bug somewhere, and you get stuck in the disco.

I then got Larry 2 running, using dosbox. I hadn't previously been aware of dosbox, and it's pretty cool. I also used it to run Larry 3, 5, 6, and the VGA remake of Larry 1.

It's a little bit slow for 5, 6, and the VGA remake of 1, but they would probably be playable. I actually played a little way through the VGA remake of 1, until I got to getting the remote from the drunk in the hall, and the game just got stuck.

From Al Lowe's site, I went looking for websites of other guys from Sierra, like Mark Siebert, and of course Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe.

Scott really needs to put a bit more effort into his site I think :-) I'm sure he's got tons of interesting stories about the development of Roger Wilco, and the Space Quest series, among the other stuff he's done, and I know I'd love to read all about it.

I couldn't find a site for Mark Crowe, but I found an interview with him here, which is fairly interesting. It mentions fan based games, and SQ7, so from there I did a bit more searching.

I found the site for SQ7, here, and while reading the FAQ, answer 14 got my attention.

It mentions other fan based games, like "Vonster's Space Quest, the Lost Chapter" (which I played a few years ago, and found quite good), and "Space Quest: Replicated".

It's a prequel to the series, the website is here, and so I downloaded that, and got it running with Sarien.

It's pretty good! Admittedly, I did cheat, and use a walkthrough, after I died the first time, but I really enjoyed playing it.

After that, I managed to find my "Monkey Island Madness" CD, and I used ScummVM to play "The Secret of Monkey Island". This would have been quite easy to get running, but I think my laptop doesn't have a way to play analog CD audio.

I couldn't get any music from the game, until I used grip to extract and compress the CD audio to mp3 files (probably should have used ogg, but anyway), and then it was fine.

It seems to have some sound effects issues, but it was very much playable, and I played that through to the end.

After that, I downloaded an old copy of the original AGI version of Space Quest 1, which I've never played before, and it was pretty good too, I don't mind the old typing adventures.

Oh, and while downloading the old Space Quest 1, I ended up with an Amiga version, adf file.

I had to work out what the hell an adf file was first though, and I turned up this page, and then this page, with the emulator on it, although it's an old version, I found a newer one here.

There was a compatible binary, so I just had to unbzip it, and then it ran.

I setup UAE on my laptop, and got it to try to boot the disk image, but it wouldn't start, something about an unsupported feature of the kick rom replacement.

I googled around, found a copy of kick.rom, and put it in the right place, and then the game would run.

It wasn't too flash though, because UAE was doing a half scan double size image, so it had all gaps in it.

It was also exactly the same at the DOS version (basically), which I'd just finished, so I wasn't going to play it again.

I then used dosbox to run up some old dos games that I found here, and it's been running them all quite well.

I think I'd like to try and get "Escape from Maniac Mansion" (or whatever it was called) running, because I've never actually played that one.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The woman from the RTA called me back today.

She'd been in contact with Queensland Transport, and apparently I'm not elligble to have my license back until the 6th, not the 5th.

So now I can't get it back until Monday, because the RTA isn't open on Sundays.

How pedantic, like they couldn't have let me have my license one day early, or even made it valid from the 6th.

I didn't even bother trying argue, there's just no point, it'd be a waste of breath.

Oh well, I didn't have to rush around and get my blue slip/green slip/rego sorted out today then.

I might as well just make a day of it on Monday, I'll go in and get my license back, and then I'll take my bike and get the blue slip, ring up and get the green slip, go back to the RTA, and pay the rego, and get a new plate.

By that time, it will probably be too late to go to work.

I made my way home today, to fix up my bike, to take it for the blue slip tomorrow.

On the way, I went into the RTA, and I explained my situation, and found out what I exactly needed to do.

The woman took some details, and said she'd contact Queensland Transport, for any information they would need.

Basically, because I'm inside of 2 years, I just apply for a new license, as if I lost my wallet or something. I don't have to do any tests or anything like that.

They gave me some forms to fill in, license application etc, and I left.

I came home, and I fixed up the blinker mount on my bike, using an old tin can, slicing my hands up in the process, oh well, it's back on, and should get through the blue slip now.

Goodbye anonymous comments.

After the comment system was abused on one of my recent posts, I've now disabled anonymous comments, and you have to be a blogger registered user to post on my blog.

I'm mainly talking to the users at: and

who posted 16 comments in the case of about 1/2 hour.

Also, while looking in the logs to find out who it was, or rather, to confirm my suspicions, I noticed that the picture of a couple of my mates at a fancy dress party has ended up mentioned in a myspace thread now.

You can see that here, but I think you'll need to have a myspace account in order to login to see it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My mate from work brought in his laptop, and wanted some files backed up from it.

There's an external USB DVD burner floating around the office, so we got that, and attched it to the laptop.

I installed "deepburner" on the laptop, which I've used on windows a bit before, and it's quite good, but for some reason, it wouldn't pickup the external dvd burner, only the internal cd burner.

I wondered if it was because we hadn't rebooted after installing it, so we tried that, but it still wouldn't show up.

I wondered if it was then something to do with the ASPI layer, so I downloaded a newer APSI, from here, and installed it.

I'm not sure if I rebooted or not, but after that, the extra drive showed up in deepburner.

We backed up the files to a DVD, which took a while, because it's only a 4X dvd burner.

After that, we couldn't read the files back for some reason. In the end, after all that, I connected the laptop to the network, and connected to it with my laptop, and used k3b to burn the dvds, which took half as long, because I have an 8X burner in my laptop, and the discs work :-)