March 2004

Ants: God’s little worker

Ah, the ant. They may be tiny, but they’re certainly productive! These small little creatures traverse long distances in order to seek out food for their colony. Working together, they’re able to pin-point where food is and set to work efficiently breaking it down and carrying it back home. What a sight to see. We could all learn a thing or two from them.

But now they’re in my vacuum cleaner.

Some may think living on an ant hill is a wise choice, and though it’s certainly more fun than living in a black widow-infested cave, the vanity eventually wears off.

Tip, ladies and gentlemen. Vacuum cleaners and Windex are not considered friends to the ants, as this colony is now figuring out.

I think I’ll take another shower. It feels like they’re all over me.

Nearing presence goodness

Although I took most of spring break off to attempt to relax (something that didn’t end up happening much at all), I’ve managed to make some really good progress with Galago. The library’s API is for the most part stable, and my work as of late has been with the daemon. Most of the functionality is there as well, though some stability issues need solving. I expect to have those issues fixed within a week. Then work begins on Evolution integration, as well as other applications.

The galago project name on SourceForge has been in use for some time, but the project is dead. I filed an abandoned project takeover request earlier this month, and today (well, yesterday now) was the deadline for the maintainers to respond, so we’ll see how that goes.

If all goes well this month with the Galago work, I should have a release out soon. I’ll get a page up before that, with example code, the details behind Galago, a FAQ, etc. Hopefully it’ll clear up some confusion that a few people still have.

Break Time

I’m on Spring Break as of this week, and it’s a much needed break. Unfortunately, it seems the only thing I’ve done with it so far is try to fix this computer. I decided to put the 2.6 kernel on here, and though it mainly worked, the changes in the keyboard driver and a few other things did nothing but upset me. I tried working around the Linux keycode to X keycode mappings, but I have no clue how the conversion is being done.

Figuring it had to be better than nothing, I grabbed the 2.6.4-mm2 patch and tried that out. The MS Office Keyboard scroll wheel support did nothing to support my scroll wheel, and instead prevented my “6” key and spacebar from working. So, I booted back into vanilla 2.6.4, and was met with minor but still annoying filesystem corruption.

A couple more days of hacking on things, and I’m now back to the 2.4 kernel. I’ll try 2.6.4 in a few more releases. I know my main problem is really XFree86’s fault, but it seems most distros don’t want to upgrade to the new versions due to licensing issues, and I don’t see any obvious fixes.

I decided I wouldn’t code until Spring Break is over, so I could actually have some fun for a change, and have parted most IRC channels and such. Monday, I went with some friends to a budget cut protest in Sacramento, which was a lot of fun. I took some pictures of that, but the memory stick became corrupted. So, I spent my entire Tuesday working off an image of the stick, trying to rebuild the partition tables. Last night, just before bed, I managed to get the images off. I’m not trusting that stick again.

Ah well, BBQ tomorrow, and a get-together with some of the girls Friday. Should be fun.. Just, now I feel like writing code, since I’ve been forced to do that all week anyway 🙂

Adventures with the MS Office Keyboard

For the past few years, I’ve been using the Microsoft Office Keyboard. It was a gift from my mom, as my previous keyboard stopped working one day. Now, I’m sure a lot of people’s first thought is that this keyboard sucks because it’s from Microsoft, but so far, I’ve really enjoyed it. I have the Application Left/Right buttons mapped to switch desktops quickly and easily, and the Cut, Copy, and Paste buttons for making a window sticky, shading it, and launching a terminal. Works well enough.

Until just the other day, I had this all configured through .xmodmap and my window manager settings. However, in GNOME 2.5.x, the keyboard settings are apparently supposed to be controlled by the Keyboard control center applet, and my xmodmap settings are now ignored. My latest build of gnome-control-center CVS even shows a dialog saying that the xmodmap settings will be ignored.

So, I launched the keyboard control center applet and selected my MS Office Keyboard from the list. Perfect, I thought. That is, until I learned that my End key no longer worked, and none of the shortcut keys on the keyboard did what they were supposed to. I put it away for awhile and started manually using xmodmap and resetting the shortcuts every time I launched GNOME, until I had time to actually fix it.

The other day, I decided to fix this. The problem was actually in XFree86’s inet keyboard symbols file, in the Microsoft Office Keyboard definition. After poking around and learning how these files were constructed and what the <I#> and <E#> codes meant, I finally patched up my definition. It was an almost 100% change, so I’m assuming that either the guy who wrote this entry was on crack, or that it was for an older version of this keyboard (unless it’s a newer one, but I kind of doubt that).

I’m mostly writing this so that if any Linux users with this keyboard want it set up properly, they’ll have the information available. I have a replacement inet file available that works with my keyboard. I’d be curious to know if there are MS Office Keyboard users out there that have their xkb settings set to use this keyboard who aren’t experiencing problems.

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