Eee, day 2

Posted on 22 December 2007 in Eee, Gadgets

My second day with the Eee has been much better than the first. It has connected happily to every wifi network I've pointed it at, it stayed in standby overnight without problems (though that did drain 70% of its battery power), and although there is no Remote Desktop icon on the default menu, it is installed in the default OS, so a quick Home-T (to pop up a terminal) followed by a rdesktop -f allowed me to connect to my media center PC and use the Eee as a glorified remote control. (If you use the command line above without having used an RDP client on Linux before, you should know that it's control-alt-enter to exit full-screen mode and get back to the local desktop). It's also happily displayed every web page I've visited, though the tiny screen has been problematic with a few -- Google Reader is particularly bad.

The most positive thing? I'm writing this post on the Eee. While I'm still struggling a bit with the tiny keyboard, it's usable -- and getting more so as I adjust.

I think my next step will be to install some interesting development environments on it, so that I can play with them on the to go. I'm thinking Django, Erlang and Squeak. Is there anything else I should be looking at?

Eee PC

Posted on 21 December 2007 in Eee, Gadgets

I received my Eee PC today. Its a lovely little gadget, but my first impression is that it's not ready for prime-time yet.

The machine itself is very neat -- quite tiny, and beautifully-built considering the cost. A quick poke around the applications shows lots of useful-looking stuff. But in order to use the device, you really have to be on the Internet. And, for me, that was when things started going wrong.

I wanted to connect to a WPA network; however, when I tried to connect to it, the machine stuck in a "Pending" state. A quick poke around the details in the connection dialog showed a weird error -- a message saying something like "Invalid parameter: XXX" where XXX was the second word of the two-word network passphrase. Sudden thought -- perhaps the system was trying to call some kind of command with the passphrase unquoted on the command line? A poke around the EeeUser forums showed that there is a problem with WPA passwords with spaces, and someone has written a simple patch to work around it. The fix was, as I suspected, to add some quotes to a couple of shell scripts; thanks due to EeeUser forum member Cmiller82, who packaged everything up nicely so that it was easy enough for a fairly-experienced Linux user to fix.

That all looked sensible, and I applied the patch, restarted the machine, and tried to reconnect. The old error disappeared -- but it still stuck in "Pending", and now appeared to be failing to be able to get a DHCP lease. Even worse, when I left the machine alone for a while, it hung completely! Even the trackpad refused to work. Time to press the power switch for a few seconds to force it to power down.

Once the machine came up again, I tried reconnecting -- and, mirabile dictu, it worked!

So, we'll see how it stands up to the next few days' work. But... silly bugs in the scripts that make up the operating system? Patching shell scripts by hand to get WPA working? Random hangs? Not a great start.

I think I'll hold off recommending one of these to my mother for a couple more revisions of the OS and hardware. After all, it's been more than a decade since she wrote her last compiler.


Posted on 18 December 2007 in Resolver One

I spent some of today putting together a minimal screencast, Resolver One in One Minute. It works quite well as a minimal introduction to our product (he said, preening) but what really surprised me was how good it looks on YouTube -- even after a downscaling of at least 50%!

Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:

Resolver One in One Minute