Archive for August 2007

Mike’s calendar

Don’t know why most of you people would care, but hell – you can now see what I’m up to on a hourly basis by looking at my google calendar.

Life Slowly Approximating Normal in Atlanta

…or normal for me anyways. Kitty arrived at 6am this morning and seems be handling being transposed to a new hotter stranger place altogether better than me. She sniffed around the paltry tower of stuff deposited near the door of my ridiculously large apartment and didn’t even really run and hide.

I’m extremely happy and proud that I have an address:

2957 N. DeKalb Dr., Apt. 101
Atlanta, GA 30340

It’s bit distant from Atlanta but it’s close to the MARTA station.

As to classes, I am essentially enrolled in 1: Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing, billed as “The Coolest Class You Will Ever Take”. It’s a course where you build wearable computing devices. The best of these will be making an appearance in a fashion-show in Korea towards the end of the semester. And with two projects comprising 85% of your grade, you can be sure the pressure is on. With some luck, I’m hoping to leverage a bit of my USB work.

Beyond that, I’m working with Mark Guzdial – right now on setting up survey of CS majors. Oh yes, and he’s giving me many many books to read. Which I haven’t even started yet. But its no problem, because within the next few days I plan to have a chair in my apartment. That should increase my reading productivity I’m hoping.

So yeah, things are crazy. But I’m doing all right. Miss all you Seattle people!

Arrived in Atlanta

Just thought everyone would be pleased to know that somehow me and Ben arrived safely in Atlanta.


So the good news is that as of right now I am in a hotel with internet access in Rapid City, South Dakota. But getting here took some doing. Here’s the blog entry we wrote but had no internet to post at 5am this very morning…

There are few things scarier to contemplate than myself, set loose from the moderating influence of society and inserted into a motor vehicle filled with computer hardware and snacks. But take that deeply uncoordinated caffeine addled Buffalo and mix in Ben – the very living incarnation of profound travel disaster – then you have something that really cause some damage. Me and Ben feel confident that the only way this can end is with my every earthly possession incinerated in a mile high explosion, possibly momentarily after our truck makes its unexpected debut as the lone vechular victor of the Pretty Pricesses Kindergarden League State Red Rover Championship.

I’m sure everyone’s faith in the universe will be reaffirmed to know that Ben still has that same magic. At hour 18 I am staying awake only with the help of caffeine, unwashed unshaven, still wearing the same underwear I had on two days ago, and have already performed inpromptu car repairs and had a run in with the police.

The madness began about hour 6, when (fortified with ice cream and hot turkey to a dangerous overconfidence) we decide to push past Spokane to Missoula and thus unexpectedly violate the laws of man and god. If you are the sort of godless heathen who doesn’t consider The Book of Revelations recreational reading, you may (like me and Ben) be unaware of this key section:

[stuff about seven seals and dragons and crazyness]…Then Jesus looked at the camera and said “if every man woman and child in Montana is not in Missoula for the West Montanta State Fair every year, I am fucking razing all of creation to the ground.”

Luckily for all of us, Montana biblical scholars take their job seriously. And so when we got to Missoula around hour 9 or so, we discovered that there was not a hotel room in the city. Our surprise that there could be no hotel rooms in a whole city was met with the bemused “how could you not know” look reserved for those whose ignorance has doomed them to wander in eternal exile both now and in the hereafter.

But like a programmer who feels in heart that one more make clean; make will put the inscrutable C++ templating error to bed we just kept retrying no matter how little it worked. We headed East on 90, confident that in some little town would have a room for us. Ben’s GPS Blackberry crackled with electrical nerd kung-fu, but it counted for little against the impenetrable aucturus of Montana’s endless fair masses.

Finally, at hour 12.5 we endurance-drove battered and half-blind into Butte – a full 100 miles away from Missoula. At long last Montana ended our misery with its flying triple-suplex finishing move. Every hotel in Butte was completely sold out. And then, exiting the city after abandoning all hope, we saw a sign announcing “Truck parking area – no rest area for 73 miles”. Which was how we ended our first night on the road sleeping upright in a parking lot off the highway populated by semi-trucks.

Automounting ext3 usb drives: fstab and ubuntu

This is a problem I don’t think I ever would have solved if not for a combination of caffeine and tattoo pain that kept me up all night. Context: I have a nice new external usb hard drive I decided to use for backups. It worked great with Ubuntu right up until the time that I realized that I was never going to be able to use the truly slick rsnapshot unless I was backing up to a drive that was something fancier than VFAT. So I partitioned it and formatted it ext3 and even gave it a volume label and then ubuntu stopped mounting it automagically when I plugged it in.

Why was ubuntu not mounting my ext3 usb external drive?

The first thing I did was add a line to /etc/fstab

LABEL=bookbak /media/bookbak ext3 defaults,user,auto 0 0

Now when I typed “mount /media/bookbak” or “mount -a” it worked like a charm. Also dmesg looked great when I plugged in the device. But it still wouldn’t mount it when I plugged it in. Hmmm…so I went online and found a million unhelpful forum entries. And one helpful one, which explained (and I paraphrase here) that there’s a whole load of funky crap going on with automatic mounting but that the thing that finally really does the mounting is a program called “gnome-volume-manager”. And then I discovered if you do something like this:

killall gnome-volume-manager
gnome-volume-manager -n

You can see what happens when your device gets plugged in. And from that I discovered an error message to the effect of “volume.ignore set to true”. And then, using another helpful blog post I can no longer find I looked here /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/20-storage-methods.fdi and saw this:

<!– Ignore fixed partitions which are automatically mounted from fstab, –>
<!– but are not mounted; users should not mess with this situation –>
<match key=”linux.fstab.mountpoint” exists=”true”>
<match key=”volume.is_mounted” bool=”false”>
<merge key=”volume.ignore” type=”bool”>false</merge>
<match key=”linux.fstab.options” contains=”defaults”>
<merge key=”volume.ignore” type=”bool”>true</merge>
<match key=”linux.fstab.options” contains=”auto”>
<merge key=”volume.ignore” type=”bool”>true</merge>
<match key=”linux.fstab.options” contains=”noauto”>
<merge key=”volume.ignore” type=”bool”>false</merge>

And that gave me the inspiration to change my fstab entry to this:

LABEL=bookbak /media/bookbak ext3 defaults,user,noauto 0 0

And that worked. So yes, turns out if you want your external usb hard disks to be mounted automatically, you have to set noauto. I imagine this makes complete sense, auto no doubt referring to drives that are supposed to be mounted at boot time etc. Anyways, somewhat uninitive on the surface.