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?


Jul 22, 2005 / 0 comments

Continuing on the topic of my name...

My name is Jonathan. This is, I believe, the most common spelling of the name. Indeed, I don't know any Jonathan who spells it differently. Once I queried the Cisco employee directory for each spelling. I don't recall the exact split, but it was overwhelmingly in favour of what I consider the correct spelling.

So, given this, why on earth do people constantly get it wrong? This has been happening all my life that I remember. These days I regularly get emails that start "Johnathan" or "Jonathon". Even when in reply to a mail from me. That of course has the name spelt correctly in the From: header. Gah!

With regards to contractions of my name, if you're my friend you can call me Jon (though I will never introduce myself as this). I am not John (yes, I've had emails with this at the beginning). If you know me from a long time ago then you might know me as Jonny. That's fine too, though I tend to find it a bit odd when people who've known me for less than 10 years or so call me it. If you're someone who has just rung me up, asked me my name and been told "Jonathan" you most certainly can not immediately reply by saying "So, Jon...".

No one ever spells Noodles incorrectly, except Socks.

Smoking the blog crackpipe

Jul 22, 2005 / 0 comments

<@quidity> Surely you're meant to write your own blog software?
< Twofish> quidity - using blosxom is basically writing your own blog software

So true. I noticed blosxom wasn't adding a pubDate entity to the default rss field, which made the LJ feed think all my posts were yesterday. And the amount of hassle it's been trying to get a valid RSS feed has been quite astounding. I thought this was the stuff the blogsphere ran on?

Firstly, I had issues with paragraphs. I'd been marking them up myself with <p>...</p>, which seemed the wise thing to do, but was a bit annoying over just having a blank line between them. So I found blox which seems to make it a bit easier.

Then to dealing with the aforementiond pubDate problem. slarti and David pointed me at a couple of patches to add the correct entity (which is already done by the Debian packages, but of course I didn't think of looking there). However although that seems to work, I end up with non-escaped HTML in the XML output, which isn't right.

So. Further searching. Several different RSS/ATOM plugins. And I eventually find Andrew Cowie's page on having the same problems, and his rss20 plugin. Which seems to basically Just Work. Or at least, Feed Validator is happy. Let's see if it makes LJ pick up the correct dates too.

I've scrubbed and scrubbed, but I can't get clean

Jul 21, 2005 / 0 comments

So, within only a few minutes of #keble discovering I had an ickle blog, I was syndicated on LJ as noodlesblog. I feel so dirty, but it's touching to think chrisvenus would rather read what I'm up to on the web than just ask me on IRC.

Why Noodles?

Jul 21, 2005 / 0 comments

Ok. Every now and then I get asked about this and people don't like "It's not particularly interesting" as an answer. It's not, so don't say you weren't warned.

Many moons ago I went on holiday to Crete with Kathy, Derek and Jane. They'd just finished their A-Levels, I was just about to start my final year of them. We got a very cheap deal for 2 weeks. During the course of these 2 weeks we found the only thing we all ate that we could easily get hold of and cook in the very basic self catering were noodles. At some point I said to Kathy that if I ever got round to running a BBS (which I'd been talking about for a while), then I'd call it Noodles.

As it happened I did end up running a BBS, and lo it was called Noodles (I've just tried to find a suitable Fidonet nodelist to indicate this, but failed. I was 2:443/21 from some time in 1997 until 2000 or so though). And eventually it got to the point where I got email gating to the BBS, so I used a subdomain of noodles. Note at this point I wasn't anywhere near using Noodles as a nick. I was j@ as an email address.

More time passes, I'm getting ready to go to university. My college "father", Jon Chin, writes to me and offers me an account on his machine in college. I suggest jonmcd (which was my Nortel username) or noodles (as I'd used that as an ISP account name for the BBS). Jon decides he likes silly usernames and so I get noodles. Fair enough.

Note I'm still not actually known as Noodles. However when Compsoc ask me for an account name, I choose noodles, rather than having to remember multiple account names. This continues, until I'm noodles most places I have accounts. And then OxIRC starts. And I type "irc" at a bash prompt and magically I become noodles on IRC. And that's really where it started. I think my downfall was the day I failed to turn round when someone shouted "jon" in a lecture theatre, but did turn round when they shouted "noodles".

There. Sorry you asked now?

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