Grant McWilliams

Tech

Tech

China build the worlds largest metro in 5 years

I spend enough time on Seattle Transit blogs yammering on about transit so I decided I should probably start posting something in my own transit blog. Since a blog cannot be a blog without a log.

Part of my frustration with local transit (local as in the U.S.) is that it takes forever to do anything. In the amount of time that it will take the U.S. to build it's first real high speed rail Mexico will be done with theirs. Mexico? We're competing against Mexico and losing. The reason is that Mexico decides to do something and then does it. Here in the land of the free we decide to do something then sit in commitree meetings for the next 20 years trying to address every single person's objections. The last time we had any guts we built an amazing freeway system - that was 50 years ago.

China is another one. Yes I understand the issues with human rights and all of that but we're talking about transit. in 2005 China decided to build a metro system in Shanghai. Now they have the largest metro system in the world having just passed London. By 2020 they plan on adding extensions to it that by themselves equal the size of the New York City subway!

There's argument over how the size of metro systems are measured but no matter as this is a very large and they've done it in record time.

What keeps us from doing this? We have to take into consideration everything before pushing one shovel into the ground. How much will it cost? How much noise will it make? How will it effect the environment?  These projects are expensive but so are the alternatives. How much co2 is dumped into the air now and how much wear and tear is put on the highways in addition to the cost of expanding/widening them? How much longer would our cars last if we had a faster, more reliable way of getting to work? I'd like to see a REAL cost analysis on transportation. We have had transit projects shelved because of environmental impact. Environmental Impact of million sof drivers driving to work every day? According to the U.S. Census Bureau 77.3% of all commuters drive to work and are alone in the car. What's the environmental impact of building cars that wear out in 7 years from high mileage, producing trillions of gallons of gas a year, paving roads, repaving roads and repairing roads in addition to the impact of exhaust being dumped into the atmosphere? I'd like to see these numbers but I think that digging a trench in the ground and filling it with tracks is less than the above mentioned items. Not to mention that Paris, London and Budapest are still using their 100 year old metro systems. Cost? Spread it over the next century.

There will be more posts on China, they're also in the process of building the largest high speed rail network in the world.

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I've always wanted to do tech support calls (but would get fired).

I was digging through an old forum (OK I admit it, I googled myself!) and found a funny comic. I have always wondered how long I'd last on level 1 tech support - probably not long.

 

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Signs of the times

Sometimes if you know a few things about programming you can see mistakes other programmers have made. You could probably even find them in the code if you had it for review. A great example is of an email I got today from someone who supposedly saw me on a website. I'd assume this website was a dating site had the variable not been empty when the email went out.

Hello , I came across your profie in () and I will like us to have a good Relationship and to know much better .my name is Ann, i am single and never marriage.I will wait for your reply . you can contact me at this my email address ([email protected]) so that i can send you my picture and more about myself. waiting to hear from you . PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY WITH THIS EMAIL ([email protected])

It looks like I must have been hanging out on the site called () or perhaps I'm supposed to insert something in there depending on my own online dating habits. Or perhaps the programmer isn't parsing his junk properly or maybe they got my name from some data mining source and there wasn't anything in the dating site: field so it came up blank. Interestingly the parenthesis were included in the email.  In the spirit of this post I was going to include a picture of a shirt I once bought that had a very 1950s Hollywood TV looking blond woman with a tear in her eye and the caption said "I can't believe I didn't declare my variables". Funny but the t-shirt is now gone and apparently any trace of the design on the Internet has gone missing as well.

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iphone users get laid more

We all know that Android is a cooler geek OS than iphoneOS and let's not even mention Windows CE which is plain crap. However, the question may come up with who's getting the ladies - iphone users or Android users? Maybe a robot doesn't come to mind when women think of romance and love but still. Recently the popular online dating site OKCupid did the thing they're most famous for - analyze data and find patterns. The following picture is a result of that research.

It appears that mindless drones get laid more than businessmen or tech savvy geeks. Who knew?

I also find it interesting that 20% more women using iphones are getting laid then men who use iphones. Who are they waking up next to then I might ask? I'm not saying anything about iphone users but the statistics don't lie - they might be stuck on one cellular network but they appear to be fairly open with other choices in life. ;-)

If the original study interests you (it should) head on over to OKCupid and check it out. http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/dont-be-ugly-by-accident/

 

 

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The Chinese are coming!

I've been a long time user of Nokia's Internet tablets and have been looking at upgrading to something that has a cell and/or wimax connection to the internet so today I started googling. I've heard of people getting iphones refurbished for under $100 and just signing up for a data-only plan at AT@T so they essentially have an ipod touch with a cell connection (as apposed to wifi only) for $15 a month. I considered that but have issues with Apple's policies concerning what *I can do with the device that *I own.

Anyway as you may remember from past articles I've also been looking at Nokia's n900 phone. It's more Mobile Internet Device than phone although it does make calls. This is very similar to the iphone being a better media player than phone. The n900 though is still pretty pricy and there's questions about it's future since Nokia and Intel have merged their mobile OS efforts into Meego. Some n900 owners don't know if the n900 will be able to run MeeGo or not so I'm undecided on it. However I did turn up this "N900 Style" cell phone device made in China. From a distance it's pretty convincing until you read the comments and the FAQ. I'm providing a link but also giving an excerpt.

Interesting Specs

  • Support Extend (Memory) Card  2G
  • Camera Pictrue Resolution  640×480/240×400/400×240/160×120/80×60
  • Screen Resolution VGA(240×320 pixels)

Question and Answer

Can anyone tell me if the N900 style phone being sold by LightInTheBox has the linux based Maemo operating system like the actual Nokia N900? If so this is the tech deal of the century.

Sorry - this phone is based on the MTK operating system.

Does this have resistive or capacitive touch functionality?

Sorry, but this device does not have a touchscreen function.

Does this phone has a wifi ??

Sorry, this phone doesn't have WiFi.

Interesting device but there sure a lot of sorrys in the answers. It looks like an n900 down to the bulge around the camera bezel. However, where the n900 has 32GB of ram built in with support for another 16GB this pile of crap can be *expanded to 2GB max. Instead of the 5MP camera on the n900 this thing has a .7 MP webcam. Instead of Maemo Linux this has something called MTK operating system which nobody knows anything about and more than likely is also crap. The nice thing is it only costs $125 or so. It's even compatible with your Nokia charger.

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So much for having 6 cores

No matter how fast your cpu is or how big your hard drive is you'll find a way of using it all up. Here I'm encoding videos to h.264 for my Archos 5.

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Install Xen 3.4 on CentOS 5 (64bit) the easy way

The lastest version of Xen as of this writing is 4.0 but there's been some issues with blktap2 and other things with it so I'm still holding onto Xen 3.4. This tutorial shows how to upgrade a CentOS/RHEL 5 system to Xen 3.4. As soon as Xen 4.0 is as mature as I want it I'll update it again. I'm also retesting all of this as I'm not sure I had the problems with upgrading to 3.4 that I had with 3.3. I'll update it as soon as I'm done testing.

 

1. First we need to download the YUM repository file for the updated Xen. Then uninstall the old Virtualization group and reinstall it. This will upgrade the packages.

wget http://www.gitco.de/linux/x86_64/centos/5/CentOS-GITCO.repo -O /etc/yum.repos.d/gitco.repo
yum groupremove Virtualization
yum update
yum clean all
yum groupinstall -y Virtualization

 

Yum will probably want to upgrade some other files along with the ones we've chosen.

Warning! If you get an error message from grubby this is bad!

Installing: kernel-xen                   ####################### [ 9/13]
grubby fatal error: unable to find a suitable template

This means that your grub.conf file couldn't be written to for whaterver reason so you won't be able to successfully reboot. If you get this message you need to edit your /boot/grub/grub.conf file and make the kernel lines match the kernel you installed.

Get your installed kernel version:

[ root@vs / ] rpm -q kernel-xen

kernel-xen-2.6.18-128.4.1.el5

Now edit your /boot/grub/grub.conf to match this

# grub.conf generated by anaconda
#
# Note that you do not have to rerun grub after making changes to this file
# NOTICE:  You have a /boot partition.  This means that
#          all kernel and initrd paths are relative to /boot/, eg.
#          root (hd0,0)
#          kernel /vmlinuz-version ro root=/dev/vgsys/lvroot
#          initrd /initrd-version.img
#boot=/dev/sda
default=0
timeout=5
splashimage=(hd0,0)/grub/splash.xpm.gz
hiddenmenu
title CentOS (2.6.18-128.4.1.el5xen)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /xen.gz-3.4.0
module /vmlinuz-2.6.18-128.4.1.el5xen ro root=/dev/vgsys/lvroot rhgb quiet
module /initrd-2.6.18-128.4.1.el5xen.img

4. Reboot - no really I mean it.

5. Try it out by using the xm dmesg command

[ root@vs ~ ] xm dmesg
__  __            _____ _  _    ___  
\ \/ /___ _ __   |___ /| || |  / _ \
\  // _ \ '_ \    |_ \| || |_| | | |
/  \  __/ | | |  ___) |__   _| |_| |
/_/\_\___|_| |_| |____(_) |_|(_)___/

(XEN) Xen version 3.4.0 ([email protected]) (gcc version 4.1.2 20080704 (Red Hat 4.1.2-44)) Fri May 29 21:39:26 CEST 2009

That's about all. If you have any questions drop a comment here.

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Install Xen 3.4 on CentOS5 (64bit) the easy way

1. First we need to download the YUM repository file for the updated Xen. Then uninstall the old Virtualization group and reinstall it. This will upgrade the packages.

wget http://www.gitco.de/linux/x86_64/centos/5/CentOS-GITCO.repo -O /etc/yum.repos.d/gitco.repo
yum groupremove Virtualization
yum groupinstall -y Virtualization

Yum will probably want to upgrade some other files along with the ones we've chosen.

Warning! If you get an error message from grubby this is bad!

Installing: kernel-xen                   ####################### [ 9/13]
grubby fatal error: unable to find a suitable template

This means that your grub.conf file couldn't be written to for whaterver reason so you won't be able to successfully reboot. If you get this message you need to edit your /boot/grub/grub.conf file and make the kernel lines match the kernel you installed.

Get your installed kernel version:

[ root@vs / ] rpm -q kernel-xen

kernel-xen-2.6.18-128.4.1.el5

Now edit your /boot/grub/grub.conf to match this

# grub.conf generated by anaconda
#
# Note that you do not have to rerun grub after making changes to this file
# NOTICE:  You have a /boot partition.  This means that
#          all kernel and initrd paths are relative to /boot/, eg.
#          root (hd0,0)
#          kernel /vmlinuz-version ro root=/dev/vgsys/lvroot
#          initrd /initrd-version.img
#boot=/dev/sda
default=0
timeout=5
splashimage=(hd0,0)/grub/splash.xpm.gz
hiddenmenu
title CentOS (2.6.18-128.4.1.el5xen)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /xen.gz-3.4.0
module /vmlinuz-2.6.18-128.4.1.el5xen ro root=/dev/vgsys/lvroot rhgb quiet
module /initrd-2.6.18-128.4.1.el5xen.img

4. Reboot - no really I mean it.

5. Try it out by using the xm dmesg command

\ \/ /___ _ __   |___ / |___ / / _ \
\  // _ \ '_ \    |_ \   |_ \| | | |
/  \  __/ | | |  ___) | ___) | |_| |
/_/\_\___|_| |_| |____(_)____(_)___/

(XEN) Xen version 3.3.0 ([email protected]) (gcc version 4.1.2 20071124 (Red Hat 4.1.2-42)) Tue Sep  9 20:18:14 CEST 2008
(XEN) Latest ChangeSet: unavailable
(XEN) Command line:
(XEN) Video information:
(XEN)  VGA is text mode 80x25, font 8x16
(XEN)  VBE/DDC methods: V2; EDID transfer time: 2 seconds
(XEN) Disc information:
(XEN)  Found 1 MBR signatures
(XEN)  Found 1 EDD information structures
(XEN) Xen-e820 RAM map:

That's about all. If you have any questions drop a comment here.

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Xen from soup to nuts

This is just a beta at this point

 

1. Install CentOS from CD. Do not choose Virtualization

2. Follow installing Xen 3.4 the easy way

3. Follow installing DomU the easy way

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I'll take two fuzzy power adapters for $4 Alex

I'm thinking that Amazon has an issue with their database and the photo isn't matching up exactly to the description.

 

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