Category Archives: Stuff

SoCG 2008 Update

There’s only one session left of the second day of SoCG 2008 here at the University of Maryland in College Park. The temperature is close to 40 degrees C and it’s very humid so everyone stays inside in the air-conditioned building of the conference venue. As usual it’s hard to dress such that you’re not completely fried when you go outside, and such that you don’t freeze when you’re inside. The conference is taking place at the business school, I’m definitely not used to seeing stock tickers in computer labs – fun detail.

Bardia presented our paper, I/O-Efficient Algorithms for Computing Contours on a Terrain, as the very first day of the talk. The audience raised a couple of interesting points which I’m sure we’ll think more about after the conference.

The closes thing to a conference excursion was two busses that took us to Dupont Circle in downtown Washington, DC for dinner yesterday. I went to a Korean restaurant with a couple of people and had good Korean-style steak thingy, and I liked walking in the Dupont Circle area, which hadn’t explored on foot before.

Tonight is the conference banquet, that should be fun.

Flight Log

This blog needs more random junk! Being a flight geek I decided to keep track of my flight history, so far 46 legs in 18 months (!). I wil try to keep the log updated – mostly for my own amusement.

It would also be cool to attach pictures to the different places as well, similar to Mihai’s picture page.

[Update]: Forgot trip to Waterloo in December, haven’t bought the tickets yet but it will probably raise the grand total to 50 flights in 18 months.

[Update 2]: Yay, Air Canada has direct flights from RDU to Toronto (YYZ).

Israel

I have not been very good at updating this blog lately, I personally blame the fact that I have both Facebook and IM accounts. It is more convenient for me to update my facebook status, so my facebook-friends get more updates than the readers of this blog.
Anyways, a fortnight ago I travelled to Eilat, Israel for the European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA). The conference hotel was situated right by the red sea and a few hundred meters from the Jordan-border and sported several swimming pools and bars.

Israel

View from my hotel room’s balcony.

Israel

The lagoon on the back side of the hotel, the mountains in the distance are in Jordan. Continue reading Israel

Noise Cancelling Headphones

I ended up buying a set of Sony MDR-NC60 at Circuit City here in Durham. So far I am very pleased with them, they come with airplane plugs and a handy bag and the sound quality is quite good. Furthemore, when the noise cancelling feature is turned on, the hum of A/C devices pretty much disappears, I am looking forward to see how effective they will be on airplanes. I constantly turn the volume up way to high on the crappy head phones that most airlines supply – hopefully I won’t have to do that with these.

GNU/Linux (Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 7.10) on the Sony VAIO SZ6 Series

For the most recent version of this document and for commenting, go here.. Please direct your links there, instead of here.

I purchased a Sony VGN-SZ650N/C in September 2007. Full specs are here. It’s a great laptop except for the fact that you have to pay the Microsoft Tax and that the preinstalled vista has a whole heap of junk preinstalled (I’ve never seen anything quite this bad before. Anyways, this is not a review, there’s plenty of those online already, but an attempt to document my efforts to make the GNU/Linux distribution: Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon run smoothly on this laptop and by extension, hopefully the rest in the VAIO SZ6xx series. This is the first laptop in the SZ-series with Intels new Santa Rosa platform (aka Centrino Duo).
I have not had the time to spend too much time on all of the items below yet, this is very much a document “under construction”. If you happen to have something working which I have not mentioned/solved yet please write me and I will put it here (and give proper credit of course).

PCI Devices

Here is the output from lspci in stamina mode.

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile Memory Controller Hub (rev 0c)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Mobile Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation Mobile Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI #4 (rev 03)
00:1a.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI #5 (rev 03)
00:1a.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI #2 (rev 03)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 03)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 03)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 3 (rev 03)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 4 (rev 03)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI #3 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI #1 (rev 03)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev f3)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile LPC Interface Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation Mobile IDE Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.2 IDE interface: Intel Corporation Mobile SATA IDE Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 03)
06:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Unknown device 4229 (rev 61)
07:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8055 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 12)
09:04.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCIxx12 Cardbus Controller
09:04.1 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments PCIxx12 OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller
09:04.2 Mass storage controller: Texas Instruments 5-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD)

USB Devices

Here is the output from lsusb:

Bus 006 Device 003: ID 05ca:183a Ricoh Co., Ltd
Bus 006 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 007 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 147e:2016
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 005 Device 002: ID 044e:300d Alps Electric Co., Ltd
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 0000:0000

Installation

The installation worked without any problems (using Ubuntu Gubsy Gibbon Tribe 5), I used the “stamina” mode.

Sound

Worked partly out of the box. The sound works, but speakers are not independent from the head phone plug. This means that plugging in head phones does not mute the speakers, and the speakers cannot manually be muted without also muting the head phones. In general, alsa exports very few controls for the sound card (which is a Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) ). Ubuntu is running Alsa version 1.0.14, and the changelog for 1.0.15rc1 lists a lot of changes to the snd-hda-intel driver, which is good. I have not tried installing any release canditate of 1.0.15, but will probably try it.

Update:
I installed alsa version 1.0.15rc2 and now the speakers are muted when the headphones are inserted. The microphone works as well after enabling it in the mixer. Using the GNOME alsa mixer, it looks like this:
screenshot-volume-control-hda-intel-alsa-mixer.png

Suspend/Hibernate

Not working yet

Fingerprint Scanner

Not working yet.

Webcam

Not working yet. According to lsusb the webcam has id: 05ca:183a. Owner of older-generation VAIOs have had luck with this Ricoh R5U870 driver. but the 183a is not listed as supported. Hopefully the driver will work with minor modifications, but I have not looked into this.

Brightness Controls

Not working yet.

Stamina vs. Speed mode

Not tested yet, should work out of the box. You need to use different xorg.conf files. This little script by Ariel Vardi copies the right xorg.conf file on startup depending on whether or not the nvidia card is activated or not.

VIDEO=`/usr/bin/lspci |grep -c nVidia`

if [ “$VIDEO” = 1 ]; then
cp -f /etc/X11/xorg.conf.speed /etc/X11/xorg.conf
else
cp -f /etc/X11/xorg.conf.stamina /etc/X11/xorg.conf
fi

The script should be placed in the /etc/init.d so it is run on startup (before gdm) and the two xorg configurations (speed and stamina) should exist, full details on Ariel Vardi’s excellent site.

For the most recent version of this document and for commenting, go here.. Please direct your links there, instead of here.