ping 224.0.0.1

Aug 3, 2005 / 0 comments

I've seen a few queries about multicast recently and I know the BBC are heavily trying to push it (no doubt so the next time something goes up in smoke they can try to shift less than 10Gb/s of traffic), so I decided to investigate further. While the Linux kernel has support for various bits and bobs it seems the userspace routing tools required to actually run a multicast network are sadly lacking. The only maintained code I can find is Xorp, which falls down because a) C++ for core code scares me and more relevantly b) it doesn't support OSPF. While various people seemed to have asked about it in connection with Zebra / Quagga there doesn't seem to be anything recent (I found some code from 2000, but it has large warnings all over it). Pointers welcome.

I'm not quite sure there's a whole lot of point in multicast yet anyway (not that this will stop me trying to sort it out - I'm a keen supporter of IPv6 even though it's not really there yet either). With the ADSL system in the UK there's no saving to be made across BT's ATM network, or even into the central pipes at the ISP end. Maybe that'll change and BT will do some sort of evil PPP stuffing magic. Cable modems strike me as more likely to get the facility first though, given they're a broadcast domain under the control of a single provider already. It'd be really neat if the new NTL Video on Demand was a multicast system, but I suppose that doesn't work with unique start times.

Oh, and while I remember, see Madagascar. I'd feared the penguins wouldn't be in it enough, and they're not, but it's more than I expected. The monkeys are good too.

Time passes

Aug 2, 2005 / 0 comments

Not a lot of visible productivity over the last week really. I spent the start of last week at Simon's with Dom, who started at Black Cat on Monday. So it was mostly trying to get him up to speed with all the things Simon and I Just Know, because we built it all. He seemed to take a lot of it in; I don't know if this is an indication that our systems are good or that Dom can just assimilate information speedily. :)

Then back to Norwich on Wednesday night and my parents arrived for the weekend on Friday. It was good to finally see them here again; we've had Kathy's numerous times but mine always claim to be too busy to come over. Though given the amount of good wine and food consumed that's probably a good thing.

All that's meant little time for other projects however. I still have to look at moving my EPIA-M code for LinuxBIOS over to the new SVN repo (my code is currently based off the old Arch stuff). And I haven't written any smartcard code yet. Or done anything with the E3 for months. I did manage to make a shortlist of double glazing people to ring, but I really don't want to actually ring them...

Scaring hardware

Jul 28, 2005 / 0 comments

David gave me a broken Cisco ATA-186 (a VOIP SIP adaptor; lets you plug 2 phones into the network). Apparently it wasn't talking to the network and he was going to skip it. So I took it apart, nothing obvious, plugged it in, got a network link light, tcpdumped and discovered it was DHCPing. Er. Ok then. This had been tried multiple times previously by David. Go figure.

Now all I need is for my Philips DECT 511 to finish charging so I can play with it as a VOIP handset. I'm hoping it might be nicer than the Grandstream 101 I have, which Just Works, but cordless would be nice. Also I noticed it has a pad of 9 pins on the base station, and a similar set on the handset on the battery. Wonder if there's anything neat that can be done with that. Google doesn't show anything that looks hopeful unfortunately. Too many things to take apart, not enough hours in the day.

Bland? Moi?

Jul 26, 2005 / 0 comments

I mentioned to Simon tonight about Hanna saying I was bland and he seemed quite surprised and said there's no way he could understand how anyone's who's met me could think this. I knew there was a reason he was my friend. :) However we got to talking about various bits and he commented on the random comments I'll make on IRC about whatever I'm looking at at present and how he won't fully know what it is that I'm doing and whether my comments mean it's going well or not. And he reckoned that if I blogged about what I was trying to achieve it might be more understandable. Or perhaps just more rambling. :) Anyway. I think sleep beckons. nn.

Underused tech toys

Jul 24, 2005 / 0 comments

I bought a Sharp Zaurus (SL-C3000) back in March. It's basically a tiny laptop that runs Linux. The software Sharp supplies it very much geared up toward it being a PDA, and although I want to use the PDA functionality I also want other bits like a decent ssh client and possibly various network diagnose tools or whatever. Oh, and games, though there are some for the Sharp ROM.

OpenZaurus is a much more complete linux environment for the Zaurus, using OpenEmbedded as its core. However when I got my Zaurus it wasn't yet supported. So I ended up spending some time trying to work out the various differences between my Zaurus and the supported models. This meant it wasn't usable for several weeks, which I found frustrating; almost to the point of putting the Sharp ROM back on it. However I got there in the end, and now it mostly works.

However, I'm still not using it that much. I think part of the reason is that I work from home and don't attend many meetings or similar, so I always tend to have a real computer to hand. But the other reason is that there are still a bunch of niggling loose ends that I need to tie up, and unlike my laptop I expect a PDA like device to handle the mainline cases well. My current list of gripes includes:

  • No seemless bluetooth. Although I've got a CF bluetooth card and have got communications working between my phone and the Z, I haven't actually ever had a PPP session up and running. I'm pretty sure I know what I need to do, but it's just too fiddly for frequent use. I want to be able to pull the Z out of my pocket with the BT card in it, hit a "Connect" button and be able to check my email.
  • Email. There's a client in OPIE which claims to be able to do SSL IMAP, but it doesn't seem to want to work with the. I've no idea what the issue is; I quite possibly need to do some connection snooping.
  • Multiple location support. My home network has a WEP key; I don't pretend this makes it secure, but it at least stops casual attacks. However when I'm out and about I'll want to use public hotspots. The OpenZaurus code doesn't currently have an easy way to indicate different locations (or even better detect them automatically). The Sharp ROM did at least let you easily select where you were and alter settings based on that.
  • Calendar/address book syncing. This isn't actually Zaurus specific. I have a work Mozilla calendar that has various bits of information in it, as well as my personal stuff, and what Kathy's up to. I want to be able to edit this on my Z, or my desktop, or my phone, and have it automatically reflect everywhere else. I'm sure this isn't a unique request. I even started writing some code for this, but currently am bogged down in timezone issues with Mozilla. sigh. I'm sure there must be a decent lightweight calendar for Linux with iCal support out there. Please? I've found myself almost installing Evolution several times.

Some of these I can probably solve easily myself (like the email issue), but it just seems like a lot of hassle. Are my requirements that non-standard?

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