Tim Hatch

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What to do when a Dell Laptop Ignores F2 18 Apr, 2006

I was recently tasked with fixing a Windows XP Post-SP2 laptop that was operating very sluggishly for no obvious reason. It also wouldn't allow you to press F2 or F12 during boot to change any options. It turns out the problem was due to an ancient bios (an Inspiron 5100, revision A06 when the current is A32).

It wasn't a simple upgrade because these things aren't well documented on Dell's site, but you need to upgrade to A22 before going all the way to the current, it's called a "gateway" bios because it opens up new upgrade avenues.

The relevant post, just in case Dell allows deep linking for others with the same problem to save a little time: F2 does not access cmos which suggested removing the hard drive to force it to boot from cd and to do revision A22 first.

Incidentally once it booted from CD again with the new bios into BartPE, it was fast... and back to Windows on the hard drive it was fast too. Roughly 7x as fast for Windows to become usable, so I'm guessing it was a Post-SP2 driver mismatch with the old bios, as it did redetect a couple of things.

Howto: svn commit rollback 18 Apr, 2006

This describes how to fix an svn repository after accidentally committing a file with a password in it:

Yes, this happened to me. Today. I didn’t look at the files before committing to my public repository, and had to fix it quickly. These are the steps to undo the last revision. First, the easy way (if using fsfs backend):

The first thing you need to do is stop the server. Anyone who checks out the repository while it contains the soon-to-be-deleted rev will be hosed and have to check it out again from scratch. This includes the WC you committed from, so go ahead and move that out of the way.

  • Go into the svn repository using cd
  • Edit db/current and decrement the first number. That's the tip revision.
  • Move db/revs/$BADREV and db/revprops/$BADREV out of the way, so when someone does commit that rev it won't have issues
  • Run trac-admin resync and/or restart Apache, as necessary

And now the hard way, if you're using the bdb backend (because this way makes more sense than hacking it directly):

The first thing you need to do is stop the server. Anyone who checks out the repository while it contains the soon-to-be-deleted rev will be hosed and have to check it out again from scratch. This includes the WC you committed from, so go ahead and move that out of the way.

tim@client# mv workingcopy workingcopy_bad

root@server# /etc/init.d/apache2 stop
* Stopping web server: Apache2
root@server# cd /var/svn
root@server# svnadmin dump reponame > svn.dump
root@server# vim svn.dump (delete the offending revision in its entirety)
root@server# mv reponame reponame_bad
root@server# svnadmin create reponame
root@server# svnadmin load --force-uuid reponame < svn.dump
root@server# chown -R www-data:www-data reponame
root@server# /etc/init.d/apache2 start
root@server# trac-admin /path/to/repo resync

tim@client# svn co http://example.com/path/to/repo

That’s it... once you’ve got your WC clean, make the changes but this time watch out for passwords and recommit the changes you made the last time.

Updated 2007-07-27 for better fsfs instructions, suggested by Eric below (and finally verified as working by me).

Skip-Free Network Play in VLC 18 Apr, 2006

This may be public knowledge to everyone else in the universe, but I just found out where VLC hides a setting that makes files play without hitches even over slow-ish wireless networks. On OSX, first open VLC Preferences, then enable Advanced options, and go to “Input / Codecs,” “Access modules,” “File” and up the caching value from the default 300ms to something a bit more, like 2000ms. The higher this value, the laggier pausing and playing is, but it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make for playback without copying the file first.


Easily Amused 14 Apr, 2006

I’m easily or something. First for your perusal, the Belle and Sebastian Song Generator. I won't give away the easter-egg, but I assure you there is one, and it's just like the band would do.

Secondly, reading the misheard lyrics page from Sinister, and subsequently listening to the songs, I agree with two of them being better lyrics than are actually in the songs.

...“me and the midget don't see eye to eye on it”

I always thought in “Seeing Other People” the words “Your[sic] kissing your double, your[sic] kissing your reflection” were sang instead of “Your[sic] kissing your elbow etc.”

I thought it was about these skinny long hair boys who go to discos and get stuck into skinny long hair girls who look the same as them. And It got me thinking is it incredibly vain to be attracted to someone who looks like you, or is it worse to think you can do better.

I just read that. I know what I mean.

Panoramas Up 11 Apr, 2006

I neglected to mention it here, but I have several new panoramas online — Youth Fair 2006 and Fry Street - University Border for the Worldwide Panorama, Spring Equinox.

Media PC Field Trip 11 Apr, 2006

Last Friday we scheduled a trip to go out and take a look at how Dr. Garlick is using his Windows Media Center PC at his home. It was about an hour drive there, to almost-downtown Dallas, although parking was a lot better than we expected. All Photos.

We got things partially working, including divx playback using Tversity, better HDTV reception by using a larger antenna, and ended up convincing him that splitters weren’t the answer in this case, since we were working with low signal on several channels over the air.

Then we were offered the chance to go rewire a condo, which of course we nerds jumped on, but it was a bit of a zoo given four people that all had opinions on how to set it up. In the end, we came up with a scheme to save 300 feet of coax and use two splitters so all the satellite jacks will be live at once. The answer is more splitters, when you’re working with a good enough signal source.

Then we were trying to watch a scratched DVD and the Sony drive in the PC failed to make sense of it, but my Mac could. Macs rule. Dr. Splitter says so.

Design Revamp 11 Apr, 2006

I'm working on a new design with larger fonts and none of the weird “the window is too small” or “page takes 45 seconds to load” issues. Film at eleven.

before and after.

What I’m Up To 11 Apr, 2006

I’ve been working on a few projects recently, and they’ve finally gotten to the point where I can talk about them a bit. I’m interested in making better representations of interesting data, which is how pretty much all my projects got started this month. Why did I do them? Because I can.

  • Denton Restaurant Health Department Ratings as gleaned from PDFs on the City of Denton site, and melded with Google Maps. The PDF parsing was pretty easy, and will be added to my standard library pretty soon.
  • Oracle of UNT, styled after the Oracle of Bacon, but for UNT students linked by classes instead of movies. Can be slow at times, I haven't put much into optimizing it yet. See how you’re linked with me (I’m the tsh0019 in the second box).
  • Some updates to my standard Python library to include an ordered list that uses binary search to test for inclusion which is orders of magnitude faster than the linear search that Python’s builtin list uses. This speed boost has come in handy a number of times for solving Project Euler challenges.

Halo Night Update 11 Apr, 2006

Halo night was last night (Monday), and we spent the majority of the time discussing whether the events in Alanis Morissette’s song were indeed ironic or rather just unfortunate. Join us next week, and maybe Jeremy will pick some less lame gametypes!

S3D Tools 05 Apr, 2006

I've packaged up the tools I use for modifying s3d data files for the game programming class. This is of somewhat limited use to the average person, but I know of at least two it might help. project page.

Easter Egg Hunt by Flashlight 04 Apr, 2006

I originally took thse long exposures back in April of 2003, but forgot to copy them back up when I redid my website a while back. Easter Egg Hunt.