Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Rock

I haven't been posting my open water workouts -- too many to list this year, and I just haven't had the time -- but this morning's workout was notable: I finally make it to Blakely Rock today!

This is about a mile off-island; since we start in Blakely Harbor this makes the trip just under 2 miles one-way). You feel like you're in the middle of Puget Sound standing on the rock. I hope to get some pictures soon. In the meantime, here's an overview map to give you an idea where this is in relation to Seattle:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's the year 2008...

Forget my flying cars. Why the heck can I still not print from Linux (more specifically, Ubuntu 8.04)?

I threw together a little applet to stitch together a Puget Sound navigation chart from NOAA (check out chart number 18449). This isn't acceptable for navigation, they say, but hey: I just want something to look at. I don't own a yacht, boat, or even a kayak; the extent of my water vessel ownership is owning a swimsuit and goggles...

It was a success; you can download it here, if you're so inclined. Anyway, now to print it.

Oh, god, the agony.

I tried Eye of Gnome first. I tweaked my printer settings a bit (I'm printing this to 13"x19" glossy paper instead of the normal letter paper) and hit print. The system starts puzzling over this for a bit (at least if the CPU usage bar is any indication) and then... nothing.

I open up the printer jobs viewer. It says the job is stopped with no indication at to why. That's strange. I cancel it and try again. Same result.

Ok, maybe EOG is flaky. I cancel the second job and start up Gimp (which, incidentally, is an exceedingly dumb and potentially offensive name for an image editing program, but I digress...). I change the settings again, hit print... and, again, minutes of thinking followed by nothing. I do the cancel/reprint/cancel/print a test page/reprint shuffle a few times, but all to no avail.

Hrm. Something is amiss. I check out the CUPS logs:
E [15/Jun/2008:23:11:10 -0700] PID 28099 (/usr/lib/cups/filter/pstoraster) stopped with status 1!
E [15/Jun/2008:23:11:11 -0700] [Job 226] Job stopped due to filter errors.

Well, that's interesting. But why is this pstoraster program failing? Any logs?

Nope, can't find them. But it turns out that pstoraster is a shell script which does attempt to print some logs out -- they're probably just going to /dev/null. I write a wrapper to send its output to /var/log/cups/pstoraster.log, try printing again, and see what I get.

Oh, joy. It's failing somewhere deep in the bowels of Gutenprint and Ghostscript:

DEBUG: Running /usr/bin/gs -dQUIET -dDEBUG -dPARANOIDSAFER -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dNOMEDIAATTRS -sDEVICE=cups -sstdout=%stderr -sOUTPUTFILE=%stdout -c -
... many lines of garbage deleted ...
Error: /rangecheck in --image--
Operand stack:

Execution stack:
%interp_exit .runexec2 --nostringval-- --nostringval--
--nostringval-- 2 %stopped_push --nostringval-- --nostringval--
--nostringval-- false 1 %stopped_push 1905 1 3 %oparray_pop
1904 1 3 %oparray_pop 1888 1 3 %oparray_pop 1771 1
3 %oparray_pop --nostringval-- %errorexec_pop .runexec2
--nostringval-- --nostringval-- --nostringval-- 2 %stopped_push
--nostringval-- 1809 1 3 %oparray_pop
Dictionary stack:
--dict:1149/1684(ro)(G)-- --dict:0/20(G)-- --dict:126/200(L)--
Current allocation mode is local
Last OS error: 2
GPL Ghostscript 8.61: Unrecoverable error, exit code 1
DEBUG2: cups_close(0x685378)

Catch all that? This will be on tomorrow's quiz.

How did I end up printing this? I fired up Windows XP in VMware Player, opened the image using an old copy of Paint Shop Pro 5 (which works well for 99% of my image editing needs), and hit print. Pretty map came out a few minutes later.

Seriously, folks: this is an embarrassment. You're making Vista look like a dream.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fly Derrie-Air

Skinny? Flying to Philadelphia? Check out Derrie-Air:
The magic comes from our one of a kind "Sliding Scale"—the more you weigh, the more you'll pay. After all, it takes more fuel—more energy—to get more weight from point A to point B. So we will charge passengers based on how much mass they add to the plane.
Yes, it is a joke. Nonetheless, the media company behind this spoof actually did buy full-page adverts in Philly papers this morning.

Seals, coming unglued...

First, the coming unglued part: this was not my fault. (Actually, it wasn't anyone's fault, though working around the issue took a lot longer than it should have.)

But the more interesting part: I apparently have a new pet. There's a seal in Manzanita Bay, where we often swim, who has decided that I'm fun to play with. It was pouring on Tuesday, so we didn't have a support craft; instead, I had one of those lifeguard rescue tubes dragging behind me on a strap. The seal thought it would be hilarious to play with it and tug on the straps. Spooked me out the first time the came around. Eventually, it just got annoying.

Wednesday was another swim day, this time with a support craft. To my surprise, the seal still wanted to play even though I didn't have the tube with me. This time, it was mostly in the form of bumping against my feet and swimming below me (face up, just to show that he was a better swimmer or somesuch).

I am a bit worried that he's getting too comfortable with humans. That's usually not a good thing for wildlife. Ah well... all of our attempts to scare him off have proven unsuccessful. I guess we'll just have to live with him.