Robotic Tendencies
The personal blog of Robert McQueen

May 20, 2005


In other news, I submitted my dissertation yesterday after being awake for 32 hours completing it. I’ve reconnected to IRC for a bit, a couple of pub visits scheduled, and I’m going home for the weekend to relax before I start preparing for my finals in two and a half weeks.

posted by ramcq @ 4:41 pm
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May 12, 2005


Recently I received a pleasant package of forms and information from college about graduation. One of them is a pleasant reminder that if I owe any money to college by the (previously unheard of) Friday 5th June 2005, I will be removed from the list of graduands. Given that my last bill was £3,300 greater than what it was supposed to be, because my LEA lost my original student support application, so I submitted a replacement application over two weeks ago, and have heard nothing since. I phoned them today and they checked on their computer system, had a wander round the office, and assured me that the last they’d heard from me was my form for last academic year. They then went on to blame me for probably not putting enough postage on when I handed the f🤬ing form in at a post office, and they weighed it and charged me the appropriate amount of postage. So now I have to fill out and send them another of their stupid forms (taking no chances – recorded delivery this time). Thanks guys, it’s not like I have enough to worry about with my dissertation being due in 8 days time.

On the up side, I rewrote half of the code between Monday and Wednesday, meaning it’s 1500 lines shorter, but has the benefit of actually working now. As a consequence, I also have a lot more to write about (testing it, demonstrating it works, why the first one didn’t work, etc) rather than something which is a poor reimplementation of strace. On the down side, you get no marks for the code, so I’d better get back to the writing about it. Yay.

posted by ramcq @ 7:47 pm
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April 19, 2005

Low-competence Education Authority (LEAs)

I’ve just been billed by my college for an extra £3300 of college fees which are supposed to be paid on my behalf by my LEA (Local Education Authority). They sent me a form to arrange this during last summer, some time around July, with a covering letter saying it was meant to be with them by 24th May or something. I sent it back to them by return of post, and they lost it. Hence, my college haven’t received the money so they’ve billed me instead. Curiously, my LEA did send me a letter earlier this year asking why I hadn’t submitted a form for this academic year, and so I phoned them and asked them to send me another. Which I’m now filling in so I don’t need to pay college, except for the fact they sent me a PHOTOCOPY of their STUPID PASTEL COLOURED FORM, making it practically illegible, mostly irrelevant to me, half in Welsh, DOESN’T MATCH THE ACCOMPANYING NOTES BOOKLET they sent me, and to top it off, IS REQUESTING EXACTLY THE SAME INFORMATION I GAVE THEM LAST YEAR AND THE YEAR BEFORE, AND THIS YEAR’S FORM IF THEY HADN’T LOST IT. F🤬ING SORT IT OUT!

Update: Oh… this 🤬 poor excuse of a photocopied form they sent me is the WRONG ONE, which is why it doesn’t match the notes they sent me along with it. EXCELLENT. SO VERY, VERY GOOD.

posted by ramcq @ 3:23 pm
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March 28, 2005

Actually deliver signals

$ darcs record
hunk ./trace/main.c 90
- if (ptrace(PTRACE_SYSCALL, pid, signal, NULL) < 0)
+ if (ptrace(PTRACE_SYSCALL, pid, NULL, signal) < 0)
Shall I record this patch? (1/1) [ynWsfqadjk], or ? for help: y
What is the patch name? actually deliver signals
Do you want to add a long comment? [yn] n
Finished recording patch 'actually deliver signals'

This doesn’t actually make my project work any better, it just means that it exits rather than goes into an infinite loop when I cause the process being traced to segfault, which I do whenever it makes a fork or vfork (for some reason gcc does this, so my project can’t trace itself being compiled) syscall versus clone which is how all the cool kids implement fork these days.

posted by ramcq @ 2:45 pm
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March 18, 2005

Warped sense of distance

After a very short time at university in Cambridge, doubly so at a college in the centre of town, everyone quickly develops a very warped sense of distance. Anything that takes more than about 10 minutes to walk or 5 minutes to cycle to is Really Far Away, because everything that concerns students in the city is so centralised. Nothing highlights this more than the ongoing debate about which of my college’s two “outlying” undergraduate hostels are further away from college – the one I currently live in, or the one I was in last year. Both have proved to be sufficiently far away from the center of town to cause people who live in college to not bother to come and visit on occasion, or go back home rather than trekking to join us for a further drink. A quick check on Map24 in indicates that they are both in fact the same distance from college – a mere 0.35 miles. 😛

posted by ramcq @ 4:03 am
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March 18, 2005

Beer, Ubuntu love, project stress

Although I was still feeling pretty ill yesterday, I went out last night for a few pints with mjg59 and robsterat the Free Press in Cambridge, a nice non-smoking pub with a few Greene King ales and some interesting trinkets on the wall. Despite having been there several times with Debian folks, and it being just over half a mile from where I currently live, I always have to walk round the wrong way and find the other three pubs in the vicinity before I manag to find it again. Thankfully, on the way back from there to my place to sample some gin and horrible cheap vodka, mjg59 showed me the correct unmarked lane to get directly between the pub and the main road, betraying the fact he’s been in Cambridge for far too long (although in his defence he has lived in the area)…

Later on, as an acid test for Matthew’s ACPI work, we tried installing the Ubuntu Hoary Preview on my really appallingly crappy FIC Celeron 366 old laptop, which previously under Linux did things like never enabling the CPU fan, so hard locking intermittently, and suspending to disk (with APM) when the battery was low, even though the AC was plugged in. It’s also got a really dodgy LCD (not TFT) screen with burnt patches, and weighs a ton. It took quite a while for Ubuntu to install, but booted in pretty decent time after that thanks to magic readahead and hotplug tweaks, and to my absolute amazement actually hibernated and resumed correctly, and suspend to RAM worked too when we enabled it. The CPU fan came on at 55C after making it do some work too, although the GNOME battery applet didn’t seem to notice when it was taken off AC, and lifting the lid doesn’t send a wake-up event like it claims to. Even so, I’m still glad I bought an X40, which is about half the weight and a hell of a lot quicker, and I’ve upgraded the acpi-support packages on it to Hoary’s latest versions to sort out some niggles with stuff not working after resuming from sleep – need to fiddle with my kernel and get hibernation working too. As a side point, I was also really impressed with the Update Manager & notification applet now included in Hoary – it’s exactly what the people I’ve given Ubuntu to in my building need to remember to install security updates.

Today I caught up quite a bit of sleep and felt a lot better, until I realised I had to go and see my project (I know, it’s fairly crackful…) supervisor and report on my progress this term. Unfortunately, I’m mind-bendingly behind schedule due to essentially having achieved nothing at all for several of the weeks in this term – I was hacking on it beforehand and my last darcs patches were from early February. He really wasn’t happy with me, and it was an awkward half hour or so while I explained how much more needed doing. The frustrating thing is even after I’ve done the coding, I have to write a dissertation, and I get marked for that only, and not the code… Now that lectures have finished, and supervisions are winding down, I’m staying in Cambridge over some of the easter break to try and nail it before next term and exam stress kicks in. Had a few pints in the college bar (lots of St. Patrick’s day drunkards around) and a game of Mao with my friends, and now I’m off to bed…

posted by ramcq @ 3:41 am
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