Pascal's TechBlog

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Open Watcom and FreeDOS

Apparently, a couple of days ago, the Open Watcom 1.4 C/C++ compiler suite was released. The new version of the suite finally includes a size optimized DOS target, I hope that this will help the FreeDOS project achive (what I consider to be) a major milestone in their project: To be able to compile the entire FreeDOS project with a single open source compiler.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Interface Design ala Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a really cool interface design tool just like Glade, but done right.

The irony with Glade is that it's single use is to design interfaces, which in turn hasn't been done properly for Glade itself.

Don't get me wrong, Glade is a great tool, but Gazpacho is just that much better...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Free and Legal MP3 support using GStreamer

Fluendo announced it has released a licensed MP3 decoder for the GStreamer framework, which allows distributions makers to have MP3 playback support by default in their distributions.

The Fedora Project can stop whining about licensing and just include MP3 playback, and Ubuntu can finally have the MP3 decoder legally installed by default.

Kudos to the folks at Fluendo!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Alexandria is a book collection management tool written for GNOME using Ruby, it's a really simple application which allows you to add books using either an ISBN or you can search an online database (data is retrieved from multiple sources).

Alexandria is capable of exporting to several formats, including HTML. You can view my bookshelf here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My LPI Certificate

My LPI Certificate was delivered today, it was a flimsy piece of paper, which got a bit wet because of the postman (and of course the weather)...

Unsuprisingly the certificate was printed on Letter sized paper, which makes it hard to keep in a protective plastic holder... grrrr...

Another example why two standards are bad, and one standard is good...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Corbicula anti virus: status report

It has been quiet on the Corbicula front lately, and to be plain honest development has stalled. Now that sounds like a bad thing, but it really isn't. Corbicula is feature complete right now, I don't plan on implementing extensive quarantine functionality which nobody uses anyway. When I say feature complete, please don't mistake this for 'done', because it really isn't. There are still some non-show-stopping issues left. They'll get fixed, eventually...

My packaging 'effort' has also ground to a halt, basically because I don't plan on creating an entire automake/autoconf instructure for something as trivial as Corbicula. The next release of MonoDevelop will feature a make like tool which uses the MonoDevelop Project file as it's input file, so I'll wait until then before creating proper packages.

In the mean time I've put a binary online here, to run it, please make sure you have Mono installed with gtk-sharp, gnome-sharp, gneme-vfs-sharp, gconf-sharp, glade-sharp, glib-sharp and gdk-sharp available. ClamAv also need to be installed with it's development files available (because Mono does late binding!).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Microsoft: One open document standard good, two better

In this article a Microsoft dude makes the following comment:

Microsoft’s Yates said that OpenDocument and Open XML come from very different design points. “In the future at some point there will be convergence,” he said. In the near term, the transition period from proprietary document formats to Open XML-based ones will be “messy and complex,” he added. “Competition between standards we believe is a very good thing.”

Well, how insightfull, he just forgot to mention that Microsoft was purposefully instrumental in creating that very same mess.

Anyway for a while I've been wondering what the technical differences would be between these competing formats. A comment taken from slashdot:
Compared to ODF, the format Microsoft is proposing is vastly less suitable for XMLT transforms. It fails to leverage preexisting standards, so other implementations can't take advantage of existing code to render and manipulate SVG, MathML and the like.

This would suggest that (not surprisingly) Microsoft missed the point of using XML in general, by not re-using SVG and MathML, how very typical of them...

Anyway when I get a chance it'll be educative to do some digging on the topic to see whether these claims are actually true.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Nintendo GameCube

After buying a Play TV Legends Street Fighter 2, I quickly got into console gaming, finally I decided to buy a Nintendo GameCube (Platinum Edition), with Mario Kart: Double Dash included.

The GameCube really is an awesome console, it features an IBM PowerPC 750CXe processor at 485mHz along with an ATI* Flipper graphics chip at 162mHz. The GameCube is probably the last of it's era not the feature a harddrive and multimedia centre capabilities, this of course can be attributed to it's small size (which prohibit's it from having a full size DVD-ROM drive) and extremely cool design.

Along with the GameCube I acquired a (reasonably cheap) fake controller by Joellenbeck which seems very sturdy.

* Based on ArtX technology

Monday, December 12, 2005


QEMU is a good processor emulator which uses dynamic translation to achieve acceptable performance levels. QEMU is especially nice because it requires no kernel module and it can emulate lots of different processors.

Using QEMU in Ubuntu is easy, start by installing the qemu package, then proceed to the commandline (for installation):

$ qemu-img create -f qcow win_nt4_wks.img 1G
Formating 'win_nt4_wks.img', fmt=qcow, size=1048576 kB
$ qemu -hda win_nt4_wks.img -cdrom win_nt4_wks.iso -boot d -m 128 -user-net

Then use the following command line boot the already installed operating system:

$ qemu -hda win_nt4_wks.img -boot c -m 128 -user-net

That's it, it's just that easy! The obligatory screenshot:

Friday, December 02, 2005

Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Transport Tycoon Deluxe is a classic, designed and written by Chris Saywer. Today I bought a legal copy of the game at a local MediaMarkt for a spectacular price of 6 Euro's, it was definately worth it!

I quickly downloaded the OpenTTD source tarball and started compiling, and voila, OpenTTD natively on Breezy Badger:

The binaries are publicly available:
OpenTTD 4.0.1

ASUS Radeon 9250 GE/TD 256MB

I received my Radeon 9250 yesterday, I did some simple benchmarks today, and results were a bit disappointing... I used a simple Quake 3 timedemo benchmark:
  • GeForce Ti 4200-8x (nvidia) @ 180 fps
  • Radeon 9250 (ati) @ 60 fps
  • Radeon 9250 (fglrx) @ X lockup
After doing some benchmarking in Windows, I came to the conclusion that the Radeon was about one third slower than my old GeForce, still the DRI drivers only attained about one third of the speed of my old GeForce. This means the DRI drivers only push the card to about 50% of it's potential.

Please don't get my wrong, the DRI folks are doing great work, the Radeon 9250 is a great card for the non-gamer, especially because it's works out of the box, without a need to install a proprietary driver on Ubuntu.