June 5, 2009

Getting back to work

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:25 am by carolynresearch

I got back from a far too relaxing week in BC, mostly diving near Nanaimo, and was ready to get back to work. Unfortunately, my two and a half year old tablet was not – halfway through ICSE, it decided to quit. The battery showed signs of excessive heat, as did the motherboard, and the wireless was burnt out. Combine that with a generally banged up case I was planning to replace, and a keyboard that my cats have stepped on one too many times (you could see the bend when I took it off), and the tablet is fixable, but at a cost greater than that of a new laptop. I’m keeping my eyes open for spare parts, though. I resurrected my previous laptop with some soldering and an automotive power connector. And duct tape. Kept it going another year or two like that. I don’t give up on electronics easily.

So, I’ve got a new home and transit machine, an asus eee pc 1008HA. It amusingly comes with an energy star sticker, whatever that means for a laptop. It came with windows XP, and ran relatively well with that. Me being me, I have configured it as a dual boot windows 7 release candidate and debian linux machine.

The wireless driver for windows 7 is picky, and I needed to change the router settings to get it to work. There’s a bizarre bug in which the screen goes blank right after the boot, but behaves again if I sleep the machine and wake it up.

The linux install was pretty straightforward, except the actual wired network adapter doesn’t have a driver that works – hardware’s too new. That will come, though, or I could probably fix it myself it I get desperate. Wireless just works, though I had to install the unstable release to get the updated driver.

I don’t have any data loss. I obsessively back up – I set up a little scp script to put things onto my university account, where everything is backed up, and have an external usb drive full of weekly-ish images.

I did spend a lot of time configuring and installing. I don’t know any way to get around that, especially if the hardware and OS change. It made me ponder a bit the whole “reproducible research” thing, how confident I would be that a program run on this new setup would have the same results as one run on my old one.

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