Some random thoughts

I’m still trying to find an optimal software and hardware for me. Of course, it is a never-ending process because the needs are constantly changing.

I was a (relatively) long-time user of the remind calendar program. It’s a CLI program with huge possibilities and it was more than optimal for me for a long time: it is small, and extremely flexible. It has only one disadvantage: it is meant for personal use – it means than it is not so easy to synchronise it between several different devices and it is very hard to convice non-UNIX users to use it, even for read-only use (rsync and diff are not options for everyone…).

Thus I was forced to use the WebDAV protocol and the tools that are available on different platforms that I use online:

  • Mozilla Lightning on IRIX (that’s extremelly slow on my SGI O2)
  • Thunderbird on Linux or W7 (at work)
  • default calendar app on iOS/Android

Honestly, all these tools are far inferior to the remind. The only advantage is that the calenar can be shared with other people.

For programming I still use the Vim (or vi if necessary) plus a command-line C compiler (the GCC in the most cases). I started to use the BASIC to be able to program my older machines (Elektronika calculators or Atari Portfolio) but I still tend to program the stuff in the C first and then to rewrite it to the BASIC. It’s a strange approach but so far it forks for me. To test BASIC codes on a desktop I use the ByWater BASIC interpreter. Older versions of this interpreter can be easily compiled on the IRIX.

And I still use the GNU Octave for math stuff and for work-related utilities. It’s easily available and it works well (at least for me).

That’s all for today…

Some random thoughts

IRIX software news

It may be unexpected but it is really welcomed: there are still emerging new or updated programs for the SGI IRIX (development of the IRIX was cancelled in 2006).

Firefox 3.0.19 on IRIX

The first thing to mention is an optimized build by diegel from forums.nekochan.net. It does not look like a big progress but it runs noticeably faster on certain SGI boxes (including my O2).

eBay

The second thing is even more interesting: it’s a bidding tool for the eBay. It’s writen in Motif and it is IRIX-only. That’s pretty interesting.

IRIX software news

Hardware Failures…

Unfortunately, recently I have experienced several failures of not-so-old hardware:

  • the Ultra 20 stopped to work (looks like power source problem),
  • the SL-C760 Zaurus started to recharge very rapidly and now it refuses to start at all (no idea about the problem),

Sun Ultra 20 Workstation (2005)

Ben NanoNote vs Zaurus SL-C7600

Also the Elektronika MK-90 refuses to start (there are some strange sounds, probably some recapping will be needed). But it is much older than the other machines (it’s from 1990).

Portable PDP-11 computer

Hardware Failures…

Paladin re-iterated

I have tried to resuscitate my old tablet: the Ainol Novo 7 Paladin. I stopped to use it near before two years because I thought that it is damaged.

First I tried to run it without microSD card (and it worked), then I added spare card to it and then I have started to optimise the installed software. After removing of about 90% of applications the tablet have started to be snappy and responsive. Some problems have remained – a random effects (ghost presses) on the touscreen are the most annoying.

MIPS Tablet

Some of software cannot be installed at all – it’s a MIPS device and it is not able to run any native ARM code. Thus the C:Geo and many others are out of the interest here. The device also does not have GPS, nor Bluetooth  so navigations and the Pebble cannot be used here. Also, there is no camera so no photos can be taken and no barcode or QR-code stuff can be red.

It can run the FBReader, the WordPress, the Evernote and also a Gopher client (the Overbite). So the most important stuff is available. Also on-line LaTeX and Octave clients are available (Anoc/VerbTeX).

It can be a nice device for places with higher risk of loss or damage. I have an increasing feeling that most of my pocket devices are too precious to be carried to such places (Zauri, Palms, Psions) so an availability of a cheap, small and light tablet is a good thing.

Paladin re-iterated

My digital camera

Near any portable device today has an integrated digital camera (even my phone has one). Their quality differ and it is obvious that big number of megapixels has no direct relation to quality of photos.

I still hightly prefer a dedicated device (with optical zoom) for taking pictures. In my humble opinion even a small digital camera is better than most of camqeras build in phones and tablets.

So I still use a HP PhotoSmart 735 thing. It is enough for a quality level of pictures that I am able to make. Also it is relatively easy to use and it uses easily available consumables: 2xAA as a power source and a MMC/SD carts for pictures (it supports sizes up to 1 GB, I thing). The optical zoom is only 3x but it is indefinitely better than a digital zoom (which is common among flat devices like phones and tablets).

The device is quite compatible with my other devices: the camera can be attached to a Linux computer via USB and it is also possible to take the card and read it in the Zaurus (the December viewer is nice for this task, by the way).

Smrk and Šance in 2005

I first got this camera in 2004 and used it until 2011 (the card slot died and there probably were issues with batteries). The device worked flawlessly for at least 5 years in a quite harsh conditions: it travelled at least 6000 km on my bike (including about 1500 km on mountain roads).
Then, I tried to replace it several times but with only a very limites success. I tried to use more modern cameras (even better ones) but finally (in 2012) I bought a “new” HP 735 with dock for a very low price. Shortly after that it became my only camera once more.

Beskydy: Smrk mountain

It is obvious that newer cameras have some stabilization, they are smaller and lighter (well, size is the biggest minus of my HP) but I am able to take the best photos with it. All photos that I took with other cameras, looks too ugly for me. So I still keep this old device.

My digital camera

SGI once more

My use of computers radically changed during the last year. It’s due to changes of my work. For a while I have been rather a manager then the researcher. Honestly, it is not what I want. But in 2014 it was a reality for me.

Thus I have had to change the equipment that I have used. For example I have been used the Windows computer for about 70% of my work time (for compatibility with some proprietary data formats). And I have started to dislike that thing even more.

So at home I increased my use of my old desktop, the SGI O2. I still feel much more comfortable with this computer. And I actually using the desktop more than previously.

There are things that are hard to be done on such workstation. I’m working on some computations that require at more than 2 GB of the RAM. So I use my Ultra 20 here (with dual-core Opteron, 4 GB of RAM and the Linux).  Some modern webs require too much Javascript or other modern things (including the comments engine at technomorous.eu, unfortunately). OK, I use my Linux laptop for them.

Anyway, the Links web browser can acceptably access 99% of that part of the Internet that is interesting for me (the modern pages look ugly without a CSS support but they are readable). The Gopher is also not a problem (of course). Some communication is still possible: there is the  Thunderbird for e-mails. Someone even ported a working Climm version to the IRIX recently (it’s a console ICQ client). There are even dedicated on-line tools for the IRIX – the most interesting is an eBay client (the RACbay).

And I still mainly use the TeX and Gvim to make texts, letters and articles (and the JabRef to maintain the references). I also do some programming here (the C, the Tcl/Tk,  and recently the BASIC – I actively dislike both the Perl and the Python). I’m not sure if a    use of the Octave is a programming but I do it, too. It you are curious why I started to use the BASIC – it’s because I want to make some software for my pocket toys (Elektronika MK-85 and MK-90, and also to run these program in the SmallBasic on the Palm III). I have found that the Bywater BASIC Interpreter compiles without issues and it works well on the IRIX (2.20.x – it’s the second latest version available at the sw.net). With some care the programs can be used (re-typed) on the Elektronikas, too.

I have several emulators here: the DOSbox, the SIMH (to emulate the PDP-11, of course) and a few others.

About games: there are some SGI demos that are actually games (both 2D and 3D ones) and some ports from more common operating systems (the DOOM, the Quake, the BZflag and Andy Johnson’s Battalion, for example). But I don’t play too much. 

There are also some good applications for the O2, such the Pegamento. It’s a nice tool for image composing. But in general I don’t work with graphics too much.

That’s probably all for now.

SGI once more