Viewing posts for the category hardware

A small gotcha witha too smart printer.

A small gotcha witha too smart printer.
I have a PostScript capable printer (Lexmark C510) connected to one computer and I ofter print to there from my notebook trough CUPS. I noted that sometimes the printer would blink "busy" lamp and then go back to "ready" without printing anything. Usually I just printed to a PS file, converted it to PDF with ps2pdf and then it worked. (I had no time to investigate then)
Now, I found, what the problem was - some apps on the notebook were generating Letter size Postscript and the printer only had A4 paper, so it simply ignored the data after parsing it. Doh!

Planning to buy a Canon Digital Rebel XT...

Planning to buy a Canon Digital Rebel XT as my first SLR and can't decide on the lenses. What I know is that my current camera (Sony F717) has a fixed lens that is equivalent to 24-125mm and I would like to have a lens set that is wider at both ends.
I am already decided to take a Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens - for portraits and for low light situations (in-house sports, ...). All experts say that this is a must have lens - it is very fast and gives wonderfully crisp pictures for a price of 75-80$.
Now I can't decide whether to buy the kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) or go and buy something better right in the beginning. After reading a comprehensive review of the best Canon lenses from Bob Atkins I am more confused then before.
One of the best compromise "walking" lenses is actually narrower then Sony's range - Canon EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM. Buying this lens would mean that after some time I will probably buy the kit lens or a 500-600$ lens for that wide end and a Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 for the telephoto end. That is a total of 4 lenses - what a waste!
Now, if I would relax myself a bit on the money, I would take a Canon EF-S 17-85/3.5-5.6 USM and then extend to the telephoto end with Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 or (new, much better, more expensive) Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM.
Lets see what the numbers say:
Option 1 - kit lens + Canon EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM + Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 = 100$ + 200$ + 150$ (or 450$ with IS and USM) = 450$
Option 2 - Canon EF-S 17-85/3.5-5.6 USM + Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 = 520$ + 150$ (or 650$ for the great new Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM) = 670$
My start-up lens choices vary from the recommended 350$ (kit + Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 + 50mm prime) or 270$ (Canon EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM + 50mm prime) to 1250$ (Canon EF-S 17-85/3.5-5.6 USM, Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM, 50 mm prime). We must also remember that I will also have to buy the camera itself (500-600$), a carrying bag (50$) and a CF card (100$). Ouch.
Spending 2k$ on a hobby, that is just very not me.

Slow and Strange hangs

Yesterday I started to try to configure my desktop and my notebook to talk to each other via wireless using the AdHoc mode. The results were far from good - the best I could get, after few hours of desperate hacking around, was a working link with 100 Kbit/s.
The best thing was that my desktop started behaving erratically - almost all programs started to have strange 2 minute hangs all the time. Strace showed that they tried to connect to the portmapper. Disabling, enabling or even removing the portmapper didn't help. After much head bumping I traced the culpit back to a SNAT statement that I put up to allow my notebook to get some Internet - I appeared to SNAT all localhost connections and they had to timeout instead of getting an instant 'Connection refused'.

Shiny toy^Wol on a palm

Ha, I am now officially happy - my Palm Tungsten T has arrived from eBay. I wonder, how long will I keep admiring its wonderful simplicity until I (try to) install Linux on it :D

Speed burst

Got a paycheck today for one sidejob. Felt a need to celebrate. Bought 512 Mb RAM in addiction to existing 256 Mb.
I must say two things:
* RAM is cheap these days
* Get out of way .... I'm flying here! :D
Finally I can open 10+ Firefox tabs, run skype, GIMP, OpenOffice with a few docs and have BitTorrent running in the background without tapping into swap and thus without system load skyrocketing to 10+.


Today I ventured into the most annoying adventures a system administrator can face - reinstall. Fortunately this was a planned one, so I had just made all backups.
Problems started even before I did - all air circulation devices were broken in the company that collocates our server, so it was very hot there. I am not afraid of some heat unless it cooks my servers, so I went on with the reinstall.

While I was on the way to the location I asked the kind people there to make some kind of temporary banner page on one of their servers to say something like 'LAKA is being repaired now, come back in a few hours'. While they were doing that, it was needed to restart their corporate firewall as it stopped responding. And then ... the firewall didn't come up. Dong! Now imagine three men in a hot and tight server room struggling to untangle cables to get that firewall box out in the open to see what happened to it. Juk! After dissection the firewall claimed that it suddenly needed a video card. It's clear that the CMOS battery is dying on that thing. The way of least resistance was chosen (as people from all levels of the building were rushing in the server room every 5-7 seconds) and the Internet was returned to the people, and me as I was just going to finally start reinstalling our server.

As usually with 7+ year old hardware, the CD-ROM gave out in the worst possible case. Luckily there were some spares around. This servers case is something really interesting - it actually has a button to open the side of the case. Like a case eject :).

Installing Debian was uneventful showing the high level of this distro. In parallel I helped one guy to try to install SMB printer in Gentoo and soon I had to arrive to a conclusion that Gentoo sucks - nothing worked without a bit of tinkering. Even after installing ppds for the printer I had to unzip and install them manually. Juck!

Reinstalling needed programms was fast and seamless. The biggest problem was restoring the data. Unfortunately I made a full backup of the whole disk an that was a big problem. I mean 800 Mb is big if your downlink is less then 50 KB/sec :(. I spend a hour cutting out all the stuff I needed to revive the web and shell users. That was 150 Mb. Not wanting to waste my time waiting I wanted to put it on the download and head home to finish the thing remotely, but there was another problem lurking in the firery shadows - the firewall didn't want to give me back my IP.

I left hosters deal with that problem. When I left they were telephoning the authors of the firewall. Half an hour after I got home, the server was back online and I could start copying the reduced backup. Restoring Web and mysql services was a snap even considering migration to Apache 2 and MySQL 4 in the process. It just worked :)

After that I realized that I had screwed the user ids by copying old /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow over the new ones. Doh! I was save by some mysterious force that made backups right after the installation. I spend 20 minutes inching back into control of the system (I lost root and ssh would scream in panic because /etc/passwd had 0600 mode :P) and another 15 to carefully carry old users over to the new system.

Then I recovered a lost MySQL root password by looking at backup of my .mysql_history file. Doh!

Now I'll need most of the rest of the backup to get mail and postgresql back up. More waiting :(

Edit: Now this is getting ridiculous - the server that has the backup just shut down on his own. Ridiculous!

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