Monday, November 30, 2009

T42 backlight

My T42 has gone from half-display (the left 1/3 of my screen would be black) to display wiggles (hard to read, hard to know exactly where to click; the jiggles were just the external monitor, though) to shorter times after cold boot with b(l)acklight. At first, it seemed like I only had the display problem if I didn't use this laptop continuously, so I thought I thought I had the display stays black after resume problem; you know, back in the days where I had some runtime before the backlight turned off. Right now, I get about one minute of backlight before it turns off and the screen is essentially black unless you squint in a bright room. Sounds like I'm not alone, so I have switched from massive abuse of my xorg.conf to asking the spare parts guy. I hope this new tactic works!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Patience ...

Not that I'm exactly the patient type (having been a happy user of uControl for a long time until OS X offered this keymap), but sometimes good features will come if you wait. Initially I wanted to have CAPS LOCK and CONTROL in the same place on all of my keyboards, and my laptops needed to switch them. (I have muscle memory for many Unix control-key options, and hitting CAPS LOCKS instead can lead to foul language.) Then I put my work MacBook Pro, originally with OS X 10.4, on a KVM with an IBM keyboard, and I needed to switch COMMAND and OPTION. However, this led to another annoyance: if I swapped COMMAND and OPTION for the external keyboard, they were swapped when I took the laptop sans external keyboard to a meeting.

I've been running 10.5 for ages, but I finally paid attention while I was tinkering with the keymap: it now supports per-recognized-keyboard remaps! I know the novelty will wear off soon and I'll forget how much I love this feature unless someone asks me directly, but it's a very welcome feature addition to the welcome feature of keymapping. Sometimes it is the little things that makes long meetings with minimal content not so annoying.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Highlights High Five Magazine

The Highlights High Five magazine is a funny thing ... we gave it Karston as a Christmas present when he was three and a half. At first, he just liked getting something colorful in the mail, but he didn't care about the content. About three months later, it clicked. All of sudden, when his magazine arrived, he was very excited to get to read it and play with it. (Each issue includes an activity to cut out, and Karston is an expert with his safety scissors!) For about six months, it was the best! Then the phone calls to renew started (ugh) at the same time that Karston started plowing through an issue in about five minutes. He can do the puzzles, like find the hidden picture, quickly. He cuts out the activity, but that's also the most fun he has with it. It was worth it for the three months on either side of his fourth birthday, but since the renewal solicitations take more time than he spends with the magazine, we're not going to renew. It was fun while it lasted!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taste Test: crispy chocolate bars

Well, I just did the taste test (a convenient by-product of Halloween bringing more candy bars into my house than is normal, and with a greater variety) between Hershey's crisp wafer bars and Kit Kat. Before I tasted them side-by-side, I was sure that I would like the Kit Kat better. It's the classic of the chocolate-coated crisp bar genre, right? Well, crunch-for-crunch, the 100-calorie crisp wafers tasted much better to me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

From the depths of FreeRADIUS

Two pieces of advice on FreeRADIUS.

  1. Keep up with new versions. There are improvements in each version, so don't just copy over the same config files: make those changes in the new files so you keep up with the times.
  2. If you're starting with a fresh install, don't jump in and make changes right away. Test the freshly installed server first to be sure it works. Make a change, then restart the server to be sure it still works. Another change, another restart, another test. Debug mode -XXX is your friend.

And I finally eliminated a FreeRADIUS warning I saw while in debug mode. This warning is very common now because FreeRADIUS has been upgraded internally but not all of the sample files have been tidied up to reflect the improvement (see my recommendations above!). In debug mode, you might see Info: [ldap] WARNING: Deprecated conditional expansion ":-". See "man unlang" for details and man unlang wasn't particularly enlightening on first pass since it wasn't obvious until I read this post by Mr. FreeRADIUS himself where he explains why this change is A Good Thing. The key is to use more percents and more braces. The line that causes the error for ldap is in the modules/ldap file:

filter = "(uid=%{Stripped-User-Name:-%{User-Name}})"

It needs to updated like so:

filter = "(uid=%{%{Stripped-User-Name}:-%{User-Name}})"

This worked to eliminate the warning before I ditched LDAP because it wasn't matching what I needed.