September 29, 2006

Notes on a Broken iPod

Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 12:22 am

  1. The Genius Bar is a good thing: free face-to-face troubleshooting for any Apple product. Note, however: (a) you need an appointment, which you can get online, (b) you apparently need to sign in even if you have an appointment, which is not at all clear when you arrive, and (c) there is a separate Genius Bar just for iPods, which is past the regular Genius Bar, and which really, really isn’t clear when you arrive.
  2. It actually can be cost effective to repair an iPod. Portatronics replaced my batter and my clickwheel in under 10 minutes. The charge was, IIRC, $30 for labor, $20 for a the wheel, and $50 for the battery. Which means as long as my hard drive doesn’t die (knock wood), I’ve got an essentially new 30GB iPod for about $100. Apple wanted to sell me a 5GB Nano for $120.
  3. Trying to get your iPod working with Linux is not worth the effort.* The filesystem is liable to get corrupted if you look at it funny and gtkPod is laughably unusable.

* For those of you who are non-technical or who are tired of the Linux posts: I have my reasons!


September 27, 2006

John Hodgman on Comedy

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 3:03 pm

From an interview with Radar:

Comedy may be an exaggeration of the truth, but it always resonates, sometimes painfully, in the body’s truth-recognizing mechanism (a small chamber-and-membrane structure in the skull) or else it does not produce laughter. Often, it is a truth that we do not wish to hear, or that we have been trained to be embarrassed by—comedy breaks taboos. What is unique about our life today is that The Daily Show is breaking a taboo simply by making plain, truthful, obvious observations about our existing government, its bankruptcy of competence and vision when faced with the basic jobs with which it is tasked.

September 22, 2006

IRQ, PCI, Linux, Broadcom, Nvidia

Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 4:05 pm

(If the title looks like gibberish, move along.)

Oh, woe. Woe. Woe!

The setup: a Dell Inspiron 6400, an nVidia GeForce Go 7300, a built-in Broadcom BCM4401 wireless chip, and Ubuntu Dapper 6.06 with the latest kernel patches (2.6.15-27-686 SMP PREEMPT).

The only way I’ve gotten the Broadcom to work is with a custom-compiled version of ndiswrapper and bcmwl5.inf. The free driver that’s shipped with the kernel could but doesn’t support the particular variant of the wireless chip that I have (code no 4311). (Support has been checked into CVS and will eventually trickle down to peons like me.)

I currently have the graphics card running under a proprietary driver (nvidia-glx) that was installed by Automatix. Previously, I was running a stock driver that caused the display to die on Suspend. (Now, the display only occassionally dies on Suspend.)

Since I installed the graphics driver several days ago, my PC has started periodically crashing, hard. Since this morning, my PC has started crashing hard and often. (It occurs to me that the hardware has gotten itself stuck in some crash-erific state and that possibly a solution is to somehow reset the hardware. However, this strategy, should it succeed, would still leave me facing intermittent crashes in the future.)

Here’s the thing: the nVidia driver and ndiswrapper share IRQ 169. Here’s the log of the crash:

Sep 22 11:33:25 localhost kernel: [17179867.804000] [__report_bad_irq+42/160] __report_bad_irq+0x2a/0xa0
Sep 22 11:33:25 localhost kernel: [17179867.804000] [handle_IRQ_event+61/112] handle_IRQ_event+0x3d/0x70
Sep 22 11:33:25 localhost kernel: [17179867.804000] [note_interrupt+135/240] note_interrupt+0x87/0xf0
Sep 22 11:33:25 localhost kernel: [17179867.804000] [__do_IRQ+253/272] __do_IRQ+0xfd/0x110
Sep 22 11:33:25 localhost kernel: [17179867.804000] [do_IRQ+25/48] do_IRQ+0x19/0x30
Sep 22 11:33:25 localhost kernel: [17179867.804000] [common_interrupt+26/32] common_interrupt+0x1a/0x20

This invariably happens after I bring up the wireless connection.

Egads! What to do?! Live without Suspend? Live without Wireless? Can you call that living?

SIDE NOTE: “Aha!” I thought, “I have an old, reliable Orinoco card. Let’s try that!” But… is it possible my laptop doesn’t have PC Card slot? What gives? What is this PC Card-shaped slot that the card won’t slide into? What is its purpose other than to make me angry?

P.S. I have heard complaints about similar problems from students running other Linux versions/distros.

September 17, 2006

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 6:49 pm

Not, in fact, crazy delicious. Sort of inedible, really. You could do better at your average PTA bakesale.

Note that, contra Ittai, the problem here is not with pouring cake batter into a cup. The batter itself lacks moist goodness and would be unacceptable in cake or cup form.

September 14, 2006

You know what’s cheap in India?

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 2:58 pm

Everything. You know what’s particularly, surprisingly cheap? CDs. New, popular, major label CDs cost Rs 149 (about $3). Right before I left, I went to Planet M and bought 3 CDs and a DVD* for about $15.

Yesterday, I went to Other Music and spent $50 on 4 CDs. (And 3 of them were on sale!) Boo!

* Are you curious? No? Well I don’t care. They were: Asian Flava Vol 2 (a compilation of Indian hip-hop, which I developed an inexplicable fondness for), the soundtrack to Omkara (because the main single off that (the name of which I do not know because I don’t understand Hindi) makes me want to shake my booty like I just don’t care), Himesh Reshaminiya (because I like his beard), and the DVD of The Killer (which H and I almost went to see in Shimla, before we decided to spend the evening frantically trying (and largely failing) to make train reservations).

[UPDATE 9/17/2006] The booty-shaking track from Omkara is “Beedi”. Go forth and get funky.

NYU Sandwiches

Filed under: Food, Not Tech — Chris @ 2:16 pm

After my cry for help last week, I’ve visited three new (to me) sandwich places in the NYU area.

  • bite is in that weird flattish building at Lafayette and Bleeker (the one that used to be a clothing store of some kind, I think, but I’m showing my age, because apparently it’s been bite for several years now). It is a good replacement for Pamela’s: it has the same kind of up-scale fancy cheese, fancy meat sandwiches, some of which are pressed and toasted. I had the fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and sun-dried tomato panini and I had no complaints. It’s a little pricey though: $7 for the sandwich and a lemonade, plus I went halvsies on a $2 brownie.
  • BB Sandwich Bar (W 3rd between MacDougal and 6th) serves exactly one thing: a cheese steak sandwich. It comes on a kaiser roll, with white American cheese, onions, and some kind of ketchup/chili sauce. It is $4.50 for regular people and $2.75 for NYU people. It is very yummy. (They also have cupcakes, which I didn’t try and which Ittai said he had never tried because he, “doesn’t like cupcakes.” Jackass.)
  • ‘wichcraft (8th Street between Mercer and Broadway) is Top Chef Tom Colicchio’s foray into “fast food.” I got turned onto this place by the NYU paper, which adorably thinks the “East Village” is between 5th Avenue and Broadway. I had the bacon, lettuce, and heirloom tomato sandwich, which cost an absurd $10 (it comes with aioli, not mayo, you cretins). Honestly, it was about as good as a BLT is going to get outside of a fine dining restaurant. But, even so, the tomato was a little mushy. Come on, guys, for ten bucks you can toss out a few mushy tomatoes! The “cheap” side of the menu is a $5 PB&J and grilled gruyere for $5.50. You can also get oatmeal, granola, or grits for $4.

September 13, 2006

Changing file extensions in bash

Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 9:30 pm

for f in *.old; do mv "$f" "${f%%\.old}.new"; done

The quotes take care of possible spaces in the filename.

It’s Like 9/11 All Over Again

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 3:21 am

LonelyGirl15 is totally fake. Via Ms. Heffernen.

It’s odd: in the last week, as the noose tightened, the videos got much more plot-ty and contrived. The first roughly 15 videos had only the barest whiff of plot, which is what made them so intriguing. I think they were trying to seriously advance the story before the Internets tracked them down…

September 12, 2006

Big Apple Takedown: A WWE Novel

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 1:57 pm


September 11, 2006

I Was Out Ahead on George Allen

Filed under: Politics — Chris @ 4:06 pm

Searching for “soccer” in my previous posts turns up this post, pre-macaca, describing George Allen as “deeply odd and odious.” I am so fucking smart!

BTW, see here for why Mr. Allen totally knew what he was saying was racist (though his audience probably didn’t). Hint: He’s part French!

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