Waiting for results…

My grades for the Semi Structured Data… module will hopefully be out next week. I’m fairly confident, as my coursework marks were safely in the pass territory, so it’s not bothering me too much. If I wasn’t confident, I’d probably be a nervous wreck by now.

I have an exam voucher for the Sun Certified Web Component Developer (with free retake!) which expires at the end of July, so I’ve picked up studying for that again. I was studying for it before the MSc year started in 2008, so I hope I’ve just got time to pick it up and pass before the voucher expires.

Once (I’ve passed | the voucher has expired)* I’ll be making my choices for next year’s MSc modules, and then working hard to prepare. If you’re interested in seeing the kind of things that are on offer, the module options get posted on the Manchester CS Website.

Right. Now I have Chapter 13 of Head First Servlets and JSP – Filters and Wrappers to review.

(By the way – if you happen to be a servlets and JSP programmer but you haven’t done any formal training, I can thoroughly recommend that book whether you want to do the cert or not – the servlet specification provides loads of useful facilities that you can completely miss out on if you haven’t had the guided tour. It’s co-authored by Kathy Sierra, so you know it’s going to be a great tutorial resource. I’m getting through quite a few books of late, I might blog up my thoughts on them now and again.)

* delete as appropriate


Unsheffield 2009 Briefing…

unsheffield 2009

I’m volunteering live blogging and photography services at unsheffield 2009, an ‘unconference’ themed Future Users of Cool Technology over the coming weekend.

Unfortunately, the briefing tonight didn’t finish until late, and I’ve been downloading and editing my photos under Linux for the first time – which explains the late hour, and my heavy eyelids. There’ll be more to come…

There’ll be plenty of blogging going on from the event, and my half decent photos from tonight are on my flickr page if anyone wants to have a look.

If you’re coming to unsheffield, I’ll probably see you there! If not, there will be loads of news and info on the site as the event progresses.


Ubuntu 9.04 Teething Troubles


This seems to be a fairly Dell-specific problem, but there just might be a fix, as detailed in this ubuntuforums thread.

Long story short: you need to update your menu.lst file (mine’s in /boot/grub/menu.lst), and append the entries

i8042.reset i8042.nomux i8042.nopnp i8042.noloop

to the line beginning with the word kernel for your current kernel version. So far, it seems to be working… but that’s only a couple of boots later.

There’s more detail in the thread I mentioned, and if anyone wants any more detailed instructions feel free leave me a comment with your question and I’ll try and help.

Original Post:

I made the classic mistake of changing more than one variable at a time – installed Ubuntu 9.04 over my 8.10 installation, and went 64-bit – and now my laptop doesn’t recognise its keyboard and trackpad on some boots.

On top of that, I had that thing happen when you quickly log off, shut the laptop lid, and put it away… but some darned dialog popped up as it shut down, keeping my laptop powered up all night. Unfortunately I left it with the exhaust kinda blocked, so it was toasty by the time I picked it up the following morning. Probably didn’t help.

Maybe there’s a setting or something I can use to override this behaviour, but as an aside…

Dear Mr. Ubuntu (/Windows/whatever), if I’ve hit shutdown and then shut the laptop lid or done nothing else for an hour, it’d be great if the thing would just shut down by default, regardless of how many things want to pop up and clamour for my attention.

As opposed to toasting my laptop and potentially burning my house down. Thanks.

Anyway now on boot, my keyboard works just fine through the POST and the GRUB menu. By the time I’ve got to a login prompt though, I can’t type or do pointery things anymore.


I’ve seen a couple of other folks referring to the same problem with 9.04 on forums, so for now it looks like it’s a bug. My money’s on a timing issue during boot.

If anyone else is having the same problem, I have a couple of things to try that have made my system just about usable for now.

  • Stick a CD in your drive – I put the 9.04 32-bit CD in and switched from 90% bad boots to maybe 70% good boots. Maybe it changes the timing of events during boot or something.
  • Hit ESC just after the POST – this gives you the option of selecting recovery mode from the GRUB menu. If your input devices work in the recovery menu, select normal boot. This shortened the boot time to find out if it was going to boot OK.

Roll on a fix!

15 120ths of an MSc – Hopefully…

That’s it, first module all done.

Unless I failed the exam, of course, in which case I will be very sheepishly blogging to that effect and about my resit sometime over summer!

The weather in the UK has been absolutely gorgeous this last week whilst I’ve been trying to revise, giving me plenty of excuses to take breaks and get out of the house. Not to mention sitting in the garden soaking up the sunshine with my laptop. It’s easy to forget how convenient my home wireless network is, for me the technology has gone from science fiction to taken for granted in no time.

The exam was two hours, on a computer-based system called abc, which I think has been developed by the University of Manchester. It’s pretty good to use, automatically saving your responses to text-area based and multiple choice questions. You can hop backwards and forwards, with a timer on screen letting you know how long you have left.

Now, it’s time to start thinking about what happens next year… liking the look of Grid Computing, Ontologies, Machine Learning. Which means lots of reading and studying over summer!