at home in the (technical) universe

Some recent (somewhat) technical notes:

  • A while back, I swapped the dead harddrive from my ipod with a compact flash card.  Unfortunately, at the time, the biggest (affordable) compact flash was 16 GB, so I lost about half the capacity from my ipod.  Not a huge problem, but it became more of one as I added more music.  Yesterday, a shiny new 32 GB compact flash arrived and now I’m back to the nominal amount of space on my ipod, except that it’s all solid state and cool.  From the technical standpoint, this was something of a PITA, since I didn’t have a windows or mac machine around to reinstall the firmware.  My ultimate solution:  1) back up /dev/sdb (boot record and partition table) and /dev/sdb1 (firmware) from the ipod using dd; 2) put the CF in my laptop and format it (a camera would work just as well), this just normalizes the card; 3) put the CF in the ipod (or in the laptop); 4) write the patition table using dd; 5) edit the partition table using fdisk, set the size of sdb2 to be 32 rather than 16 GB; 6) write out the firmware to sdb1; 7) format sdb2 using mkfs.vfat.  Voila – a 32 GB ipod CF
  • If you haven’t seen it already, check out  They’ve got a bunch of mathematically oriented programming problems online of varying difficulty.  Good solutions should all run in 1 minute or less and generally take 100 lines of code or so.  It’s a good way to get familiar with a new programming language and to exercise your brain.  So far, I’ve done the first 70 or so problems – they don’t take too long, maybe a half hour each on average.
  • Finally, I got the clutch in my car replaced yesterday.  The mechanic said that it was in pretty bad shape and that the (plastic?) bearing the clutch uses had worn completely away.  This probably explains why I’ve had no acceleration for the past year (or more?).  I had forgotten what it was like to drive a decent car 🙂
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