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Aaah, Mewel

December 14, 2014 — BarryK
Us old-timer coders recall our DOS and Windows programming days, perhaps with a touch of nostalgia.

I have ongoing rendering problems with the Intel xorg driver on my laptop. Parts of the screen suddenly disappear, or suddenly get replaced by a coloured background. it is weird.

I had this problem with Quirky Unicorn, still have it with Quirky April -- except it is now manifesting a bit differently.

Where does the blame lie? The Intel xorg driver? The kernel, the kernel i915 module? GTK?

Dunno, but I might do a rebuild of Quirky April with an older kernel, see if that makes any difference.

This set me off reminiscing... GTK is a bit of a mess, and I recall fondly my programming days with the win16 and win32 libraries.

I have an application, 'eve.exe', a freeware app, that was compiled back in early 2000, and it still works on recent Windows machines.
The win-api tended not to change, rather get added onto, unlike the madness of Linux libraries.

Then there is the implementation of win16 and win32, technically excellent. Apart from the lack of many modern features, I still consider those libraries to be technically superior to GTK and Qt.

I am writing of products developed fifteen years ago, superior to current efforts in the Linux world.

Then I recalled mewel, made by Magma Systems. I purchased Mewel late 1990s or very early 2000s. It is a win16-compatible library for writing graphical applications for msdos. it is not for writing applications to run in Windows.
I bought the cheapest one, to create text-mode graphic applications -- yes, text-mode. Quite remarkable product.

I hunted around, found this:
http://softwareuno.com/magma/mewel.htm

This got me thinking about WINE. A couple of years since I checked-out WINE, but I used to evaluate it periodically, and always found it to be slow and very imperfect.
Yet, 18 years ago these Mewel guys wrote a beautiful win16-win32-clone, worked very well indeed, very fast. They even sold the source code.

I am in a grumbling mood, aren't I!

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Distributions using eudev

November 19, 2014 — BarryK
Puppy Forum member wyzguy sent me this link, that catalogs all distributions using eudev:

http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-p-7645956.html

Note, if you are new to this udev/systemd/eudev issue, google around, also my blog has some posts on the subject.

I am currently playing with Buildroot, and that also has the option of eudev. Which is the option I have chosen of course.

Tags: general

Played with Gentoo

November 15, 2014 — BarryK
"Played", notice the past-tense.

I never really looked closely at Gentoo before. Yesterday I went through the whole install procedure. But, I didn't use Gentoo's bootstrap CD, I installed a Stage-3 tarball from my running Quirky 6.2.

it took a long time. Fiddling around, I felt like I was using Linux from 15 years ago.

I have documented every step, so if anyone wants to repeat my experiment, I can send you my notes.

At the end, I tried to do an "emerge seamonkey", but it reported a conflict between 'ffmpeg' and 'libav', as both cannot co-exist. However, it seems that some packages want libav, some want ffmpeg, which left me in a quandary.

So, I tried "emerge vlc", but it wanted package 'minizip', but there is no such package. There is a bit more to it than than that, but I couldn't figure out how to tell the system that minizip isn't actually needed.

I had been at it for about 12 hours, and I just ran out of patience.

Yeah, I could go to the Gentoo forum and ask, probably could solve those problems.
But, decided there is too much "messing around" and Gentoo is not for me.

Tags: general

Laptop with Windows 8.1

October 26, 2014 — BarryK
A friend who works in a remote town, entrusted me to purchase a cheap laptop for her, and bring it when I next come to visit.

So, today I found an inexpensive sale-price laptop at Dick Smith, an Asus X551MAV-BING-SX391B, with 15.6inch screen, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD, USB3 and DVD burner, for AU$348.

First time that I fired it up, I was somewhat bamboozled by the Metro user interface -- this is the first time that I have used Windows 8.x.

Fortunately, I found this site, which explains how Windows 8.1 can be restored to a reasonably sensible desktop:
http://www.howtogeek.com/167013/how-to-optimize-windows-8.1-for-a-desktop-pc/

Thank goodness. There are all kinds of peculiarities in the 8.x UI, that seem either confusing or unnecessary. I have now set it up so that my friend will feel comfortable using it -- as she is only familiar with XP and 7.

She also entrusted me with her Microsoft Office 2010 DVD, a legal one, with product key, and I installed that. I wondered whether there might be issues with installing a 2010 version of Office in Windows 8.1, but no problem, it runs fine.

Tags: general

Galaxy Note 4 bend test

October 03, 2014 — BarryK
Ha ha, I expected Samsung to take full advantage of the iPhone 6 #bendgate, and here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrhCz6PnT78

The "butt test" is quite amusing.

Except not quite realistic, as the bending forces in the back pocket are more likely to be more of a twisting force, or more applied on one side than the other.

It is the force applied on one side that is the downfall of the iPhone 6, due to weakness near the frame cutout for the buttons.

That situation has not yet been tested for the Note 4.

Tags: general

Note 4 "clever" advert

October 02, 2014 — BarryK
Well, you will go either way, either think this is very clever, or you might cringe right through:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxpTFT7XxN4

A couple of people I know, who have seen it, reckon it is brilliant. One of those people is employed in marketing, and told me that this video is superb "brand awareness" for the Note 4.

it has been suggested that Samsung might split it up into sections, for screening on TV.

Tags: general

iPhone "bendgate" saga

October 02, 2014 — BarryK
I have been following this closely. I was wondering how Apple is handling this in the background, in "damage control" mode.

Here is one answer:
http://www.phonearena.com/news/Apple-cuts-off-German-publication-for-showing-bendgate-video_id61237

I expected this. Media outlets that are dependent on Apple in some way, either with a pro-Apple stance or in receipt of advertising, or other favours from Apple, I would expect to give very muted coverage of #bendgate, even no coverage.

In the meantime, Apple will be frantically redesigning the case, but not after millions have been produced.
Also, I expect that some Apple employees will find their careers at Apple come to a sudden end, as scapegoats are sought.

A Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was also tested in the video -- it is interesting because the Note 3 is all-plastic, whereas the Note 4 has a metal rim -- meaning that the Note 4 might not "spring back" quite so well -- which will be funny, as Samsung have finally bowed to consumer pressure for a metal phone, partly anyway, when it might turn out that technically plastic is a better material to use.

Sorry that this blog still has comments turned off (for security reasons), but a comment can be forwarded via the "Contact Me" link above.

Tags: general

Traveling light

September 10, 2014 — BarryK
I have been writing some web pages on the theme of "traveling light".

I have been hiking in the bushland near Perth, Western Australia, camping in a tent, and having fun with trying to make my backpack as light as possible.

So far I have only uploaded one page, on the electrical and electronic requirements:

http://bkhome.org/light/electric.htm

...consider that to be the first draft of that page.

Tags: general