Lost weeks.

Mar 30, 2009

I haven't been posting lately due to the fact Real Life (tm) has been keeping me away from the Net and generally too busy to write about what's been going on. Two weekends ago Lyssa and I spent the weekend with Solo of the Lost Boys and Shimizu, the latter of whom was in town for a couple of weeks. No one's seen any of the Lost Boys for a few months, so we jumped at the chance to hang out and talk shop for a couple of days. We spent much of that weekend running around northern Virginia, discussing possible shenanagains for Alchemy Jackass (it's a long story), and visited Esoterica in Falls Church (which failed to impress any of us, truth be told).

Just a few days afterward I got sick again, with more of the hacking bronchitis-like cough that I thought I'd kicked to the kerb two weeks before with a carpet bombing of antibiotics. At the time, I'd been teaching my immune system how to count in binary, but unfortunately it kept stopping at the number 4. Once again, the tuberculosis jokes were flying fast and furious, and I think a few of my cow-orkers were concerned for their general well being. Thanks to a cough syrup cooked up by Orthaevelve I was able to get enough rest to negotiate new terms of employment with my immune system and then get it back with the program. As a result, I didn't do much of anything that involved more than walking around the apartment. I made a little progress on the OCZ NIA reverse engineering effort but the persistant headache kept me from doing much more than opening the Brainfingers patents and staring blankly at Windbringer's display. Around that time I started a couple of sewing projects. I set up my sewing machine for the first time in over a year on the kitchen table, bought a couple of old neckties at the thrift store on my way home one afternoon, and started reworking them into ascots using an article posted on Instructables a while ago. On the whole it's a pretty simple project, great for folks who haven't touched a sewing machine in a couple of years. I have one ascot half completed and once I get around to finishing it I'll make another. I also picked up a new toy to add to my field kit, an Asus Eee PC 900 onto which I've installed the beta release of Backtrack 4. It's a pretty slick little system and is ideal for field work, even though it only has 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage (it appears to be the stripped down version which was sold through Target for a while), but I rather enjoy working with minimal systems just to see how much functionality I can get out of them.

The way I installed it was by using unetbootin on the Backtrack 4 beta .iso image to install it onto one of my spare 2 GB USB keys, booted the Eee PC off of it (at boot time, hit the ESC key and choose the USB device), and followed Jabra's installation how-to.

Backtrack 4 isn't in full release yet, which means that there isn't a proper installer on the disk. What I'd like to do is buy a 16 or 32 GB SDHC card (why don't they call them chips these days? they're the right size) to keep in the slot all the time, use LVM to logically glue it onto the 4 GB solid state drive, build a file system, and install into that. This will probably mean doing a full reinstall after the final release comes out. Not that big a deal.

I'm very pleased with the Atheros wireless chipset in the Eee PC. I had little trouble getting onto my own wireless network once I figured out KDE's config applet (and remembered to start the networking subsystem), and Kismet almost ran right out of the gate without trouble. I had a little trouble picking the right wireless interface (ath0 or wifi0) to configure Kismet to use, but was monitoring the wireless traffic of my apartment complex within a minute.

The rest of the weekend was spent tearing apart the office so that Lyssa and I could re-do it into something more workable.. which is to say, a room in which we could actually work on things. After getting up on Saturday morning I pulled a Warhol and swept all of the junk off workbench into either a box for later sorting and storage or a nearby garbage bag for disposal. All in all, three loads of stuff were carted to the dumpster; a fourth awaits a trip to the used bookstore later this week for store credit. Lyssa and I are now up to fifteen bookcases plus a wire shelf which now contains most of my computers (Leandra still resides on the floor due to her full tower chassis and lack of horizontal space) and our art supplies (including my sewing machine). My workbench has been refitted as a full workspace, save for the LCD flatpanel and keyboard attached to the aforementioned servers.