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Tuesday, September 6th, 2005

Trip to Savannah

I have an upcoming trip to Savannah, Georgia. I’ll be flying out on September 11 (gulp!) and spending a week assessing the cathodic protection on the fuel systems at Hunter Army Airfield, home to the Aviation Brigade of 3rd ID, 1/75th Rangers, 3/160th SOAR and a Coast Guard Air Station, among others.

It was awkward trying to book a flight out – not because of the forboding anniversary, but because I don’t want to miss the opening season game of the San Diego Chargers against the Dallas Cowboys. Since my favorite airline is American (that extra two inches in coach is a really big deal for my long legs), I was able to book a connection through DFW and got a 3 hour plus lay-over. I’ll miss perhaps the first 15 minutes, but I figure just about every tv in the terminal will be tuned to the game. I tried booking a combination with an even longer lay-over – there was a SAN-DFW leg that got in an hour earlier, but would you believe it, it cost $190 more! That put me over my travel budget. Oh well, I’d rather miss the beginning than the end, even if it means I won’t get in to Savannah until after 10:00 pm. I just have to hope that the game doesn’t go into overtime.

I’ve booked a hotel with high speed internet access – wifi, not hard-wired, unfortunately; so I ought to be able to keep up with my blog while I’m away. I’ll have to bring a copy of Knoppix if I want to use Linux, though – the company really frowns on installing other OS’s on their laptops. Hmmm – would they be able to tell? They use AssetMetrix for monitoring our machines. I’m looking at the report for my desktop – I think the IT Department have given up any hope of keeping me under control, and they gave me a copy of my report when I asked. I see that AM detected the two NTFS partitions on my hard drive, but would they sense a ext3 partition? Windows doesn’t seem to.

Well, nix that idea- there’s only 1.6 GB free on the laptop I’m bringing.

Posted by Greg as Corrosion Control, Football, OS at 13:49 PST

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HWP54G/Ralink 2500/Fedora Progress Report

How I got my Hawking HWP54G PCI wireless card working with Linux, and links to drivers, instructions and forums so that you can do it too.

If you came here through a search engine link, you should try my updated post for more details and tons of links.

Original post:
I have had a couple of oppurtunities to try and install the Hawking HWP54G Wireless PCI Desktop Network Adaptor with my Fedora Core 4. My version uses the RaLink rt2500 chipset. So far it hasn’t worked. According to what I’ve seen on the support boards at the rt2x00 SourceForge project, others have been able to install the drivers with FC4, but there have been a variety of problems encountered. I’ve managed to find descriptions of problems similar to what I’m seeing, and am trying the proscribed solutions.

I spent too much time at first trying to learn the ins and outs of yum, FC4’s software management system, because I was anticipating needing to install qt like I had to in FC3. Turns out all I needed to do was doubleclick the rpm while viewing the contents of the install DVD, and then I found that under FC4 it is recommended to use the system network configuration tools instead of the config utility that came with the drivers (which is what I needed qmake for in the first place.)

Likewise, when I was unable to even make the driver, I learned that I needed to install the kernel development rpm. I used the same technique, and I hope I picked the right kernel development package. I got two warnings, but the make went through. The RT2500 driver showed up in the network configuration, but it still doesn’t work. I am trying to tweak the settings to enable access to my WAP, but so far have not had success. I can’t tell whether the driver is failing to install or if something is keeping me from connecting.

Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, OS at 11:31 PST

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Friday, September 2nd, 2005

The Modern Potluck

In the spirit of separating technical from personal material, I stopped my last post and started this one.

WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED TO POTLUCKS?

Tonight we had a potluck dinner for the Band Boosters. I’m sort of looking forward to being active in the Boosters. I remember coming home from college in that aloof, jaded way that college students come home, and being secretly impressed at how excited my parents were to go to the band events for my younger sister and brother; and later, how they expressed a feeling of emptiness when the youngest graduated from high school. I was looking for that sense of community that I’ve been missing all these years since I left the church.

So when I got the announcement that there was going to be a potluck, as much as I would deny it, I was a little excited. It was set the day before payday and things have been tight lately, so I was stressing just gathering the materials, but I got an unexpected rebate check in the mail and at the last minute I was able to get what I needed.

I’m pretty sure that I haven’t been to a potluck since high school, but I still have strong memories of the way my mother used to throw herself around the kitchen in preparation for them, trying to out do herself. I remember the intimacy of those gatherings, eating each other families’ cooking. Sure, I used to take what most appealed to me, but if there was one of those dishes out there that everyone else seemed reluctant to touch, I would take a scoop just so the person who brought it wouldn’t feel as bad.

By luck, we drew a main course, and I was up late last night (well, mostly because of installing FC4), and had put on a pork roast without knowing exactly what I was going to do with it – I figured I could turn that four-pound roast into something for 15 people. But at one o’clock in the morning, while I was carving it up to put away, I checked and found I only had two and a half pounds of meat. So today I worked through lunch, left early, stopped at the store to pick up more ingredients, came home and started cooking. I broke out the big pot and made sweet and sour pork from scratch. I’d never made it before, but the recipe looked simple, and I was encouraged as I got into it that the sauce actually tasted the way it was supposed to! It actually came out ok – the real sweet and sour with pineapple and carrots and green peppers; not that battered, deep fried stuff they serve here in Chinese-American places for people who don’t know better (can you tell that I’ve actually been to China and eaten the food?)

So Chelsea and I came traipsing up to this “potluck dinner” with a real pot filled with homemade food, and I had to push a bunch of pizza boxes and bags of supermarket fried chicken out of the way to find a place to set it down. It was only my reminiscences, my feeling of superiority, and my righteous indignation that kept me from being totally crestfallen. To top it off, a parent of one of the other girls in the color guard complemented me on my dish and said that she had to go back for seconds. I brought the barely-touched pot back home. At least I discovered that she was gracious.

When I was a teenager attending one of these, my eyeballs would have been locked in on any pizza ahead of me as I patiently waited my turn in line. But of course, there never was any. In that tough, transitory stage in the late seventies and early eighties, when a wife with a full-time job was just starting to be the norm but no husband could be expected to cook a meal or run a load of laundry more than once in a blue moon, the potluck dinner was the true test of the supermom. Any mother showing up with store-bought food would have sunk immediately to the lowest rungs of the social ladder.

There’s something about that that I miss. Not the unequal distribution of household chores between the sexes and the supermom expectations that were probably the single biggest impetus towards the rise of modern antidepressant drugs. No, I’m the dad that did all the cooking, remember? I think what I miss is the quality, as defined in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read the book. It will make your life better.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Posts About Me, Society at 02:03 PST

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Time Out

Gotta take a time out from trying to get that rt2500 driver installed on my brand-new FC4. I’ve been working at it so hard I’ve only caught a peep of the post-blacked-out-game telecast of the Chargers-San Francisco game, and that hasn’t exactly cheered me up. A lot of it was trying to relearn my Linux basics – I have not been a good boy in my stated goal of moving away from Windows. I keep using Windows because the XP login screen is what I see whenever I sit down (all right, I just know it better), but now that I’ve moved Chelsea’s computer upstairs, I’ve got an open slot on my KVM switch. I want to build a Linux webserver – maybe I should build the best Windows machine I can from available parts and turn my nice 3.2 GHz box into that server I want – and use it as my primary. I would only have to switch the KVM back when I was done, for Raquel. She probably won’t even notice the diffference – all she does is surf.

Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, OS at 00:45 PST

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Thursday, September 1st, 2005

OS and Machine Rebuild

How I got my Hawking HWP54G PCI wireless card working with Linux, and links to drivers, instructions and forums so that you can do it too.

If you came here through a search engine link, you should try my updated post for more details and tons of links.

Original post:
I’ve gotten so blasé about installing Linux that I am looking for something to keep me occupied during the process – such as rebuilding a partially disassembled computer of unknown origin.

Last night I got the chance to burn that downloaded dvd iso of Fedora Core 4 that has been sitting in my downloads folder for a couple of weeks. I’ve been without FC3 on my computer since I attached my LCD flatscreen (the beginning of July), and I never did get my Hawking HWP54G PCI wireless access card working under SuSE. So rather than troubleshoot the FC3, which I’ve never had to do after installing new hardware (although I’m sure it’s not hard – it’s just a little tough to learn when you don’t have I/O), I decided to take the opportunity to upgrade. There’s only been one thing holding me back from this decision – having to reinstall the RaLink rt2500 drivers for the Hawking. I know I can do it – I did it before, and knew a lot less then than I do now – but this time I’ll have to write down each and every little step I take until it works.

You see, the number one search word that leads people to my website is “hwp54g”, followed closely by “linux” and an assortment of modifiers. The number one post visited is my crappy description of how I got the damned thing working. I also remember how my inability to get a cheap wireless network card working with Linux prevented me from really trying to switch over to that OS for literally years. And I would really like to come up with a better, more detailed, step-by-step description of how to do it than the aforementioned post, which is really only a reproduction of my thread of pleading posts from the SourceForge forum for the rt2x00 drivers project (which is now hosted at serial monkey’s site.) And yeah, it would be nice to have something that didn’t include my stupid newbie questions like “what does ‘$’ and ‘#’ mean on the command line?”

So I’m going to do this thing, and I need to do it by Friday night, because that’s when my wife comes back from her trip to show off Boo to her old friends in Laughlin. Right now is a rare time for tackling involved projects that I’ve had sitting on my to-do list.

I installed the FC4 a couple of times last night, overwriting the FC3 and using the same partitions. The first time everything went fine, but I elected not to replace the bootloader that SuSE had installed – the same GRUB, but with nicer graphics and a cute visual countdown during the time I have to select the OS I want to boot to. I also did this because I recalled the problems I had with GRUB after installing a second Linux. I really should have canceled the installation at that point and started it again after I had gone back and found the boot options I had for SuSE, because I should have known it was going to get messed up. But I didn’t, so when I rebooted, my old grub.conf tried to launch FC4 with FC3 options. I rediscovered the same old problem again and ultimately reinstalled FC4 fresh with the bootloader, so I still need to fix the SuSE boot options now.

Maybe I would have taken a different tack if I hadn’t been distracted by my rebuild. It started off looking like a simple reassembly, but when I got done and plugged it in, nothing happened, except that I saw the light go on on the network card. So it became a troubleshooting job, and I started by unplugging everything. It was the power supply, although it hadn’t completely failed. I had another one that had been stashed away forever, but when I pulled that one out, it was even more dead. Rats. I still don’t even know if the motherboard/cpu works, but a dead 200W power supply with as many accessories as this box has is encouraging. I want to use this box as a free-standing Linux webserver. Now that will force me to learn more!

Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, OS at 09:08 PST

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