A Teenager

It’s official. Ian is now a teenager. Hard to believe…

Not that I expect to see a step-change in anything, really. It has been amazing to watch howmuch he has changed, both physically and emotionally over the past year. God has really given us an amazing gift in this young man.

I Can’t Imagine

Ian had three of his friends over for the night last night. It’s kind of an annual thing, and each time I am struck by a couple of things:

  • I can’t imagine what life would be life with 4 of him around! It turns into sensory overload for me (and for Deb, I think) pretty quickly. I know its a function, at least in part, of what you’re used to, but I can’t imagine what life in a household with a large family must be like. I suppose I am used to our (mostly) quiet life.
  • His friends, in spite of the exponential increase in energy and noise when they get together, really are pretty good kids.

These guys really are almost as geeky as him, and the twists their conversations take are typically pretty good for a laugh. Last night, at one point, the conversation turned to their ancestry, and before we knew it, they were coming up with weird combinations (e.g., Ian being Scottish and German, was either “Scerman” or “Germish”).

Crypto

Steven Levy, 2001, Viking

It’s subtitled “How the Code Rebels Beat the Government — Saving Privacy in the Digital Age”, and the common theme throughout the book is the “code rebels” (the individuals outside the NSA who were interested in cryptography) against the US government (whose interest and involvement in cryptography diametrically opposed those rebels’ privacy concerns). It is an interesting read, and provides a readable, (mostly) non-technical overview of cryptography. It starts with Whit Diffie’s realization that the privacy of his information on an multi-user timesharing system was in the hands of, and at the mercy of, the system administrator; the more he thought about that, the more he became convinced that there had to be a better way, and that as computers and networks became widespread, the privacy of his information and his communications was increasingly at stake. The story takes off from there.

Coincidentally, the day after I finished reading Crypto, the latest issue of Wired showed up in the mail. This issue’s (August 2005, 13.08) cover story is “10 Years that Changed the World” and is the story of the Web, the start of Netscape, and the explosion of the Web into almost every facet of life as we know it. I was struck by how much the work of those cryptographers enabled that explosion and changed the way we live and communicate. No e-commerce without that public key cryptography they worked so hard to invent and then, in spite of the government, make both available and reasonably secure would mean no overnight shipment of books on CSS and Python from Amazon.

Red Leaves

Thomas H. Cook, 2005, Harcourt

Written by one my favorite authors, this is a book that I could not put down (almost literally). Deb grabbed it from the library on a Wednesday evening, and I finished it Thursday evening. Cook’s writing is always dark — Deb says it is often too dark for her. Reading this book is watching a man — father, husband, son, brother — as his life comes apart after an 8-year old girl disappears, last seen by his 15-year old son. Gripping. Disturbing. Sad. Thought-provoking. Beautifully written. True Cook in his depiction of relationships and how shallow and false they can be, how little we may really know about the people in our lives.

Grab your kids. Hug them. Talk to them. Love them. Know them.

Dual-headed Goodness

I finally figured out how to get my desktop box at work, running Ubuntu (of course!), to deal with the Matrox Parhelia P650 dual-headed video card and the pair of Dell 2001FP digital flat-panel monitors connected. I grabbed the latest Linux version of the Matrox video drivers from the Matrox driver support page, followed the binary driver installation instructions from the Ubuntu Wiki (Thanks, Cory!), and (after much Googling around for example configurations and a couple of false starts) cobbled together the following xorg.conf file. As always, YMMV significantly.

# /etc/X11/xorg.conf (xorg X Window System server configuration file)

Section "Files"
       FontPath        "unix/:7100"                    # local font server
       # if the local font server has problems, we can fall back on these
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc"
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/cyrillic"
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/:unscaled"
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/:unscaled"
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/CID"
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"
       FontPath        "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
       # paths to defoma fonts
       FontPath        "/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType"
       FontPath        "/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/CID"
EndSection

Section "Module"
       Load    "bitmap"
       Load    "dbe"
       Load    "ddc"
       Load    "dri"
       Load    "extmod"
       Load    "freetype"
       Load    "glx"
       Load    "int10"
       Load    "record"
       Load    "type1"
       Load    "vbe"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
       Identifier      "Generic Keyboard"
       Driver          "keyboard"
       Option          "CoreKeyboard"
       Option          "XkbRules"      "xorg"
       Option          "XkbModel"      "pc104"
       Option          "XkbLayout"     "us"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
       Identifier      "Configured Mouse"
       Driver          "mouse"
       Option          "CorePointer"
       Option          "Device"                "/dev/input/mice"
       Option          "Protocol"              "ImPS/2"
       Option          "Emulate3Buttons"       "true"
       Option          "ZAxisMapping"          "4 5"
EndSection

Section "Device"
       Identifier      "MatroxVideoCard0"
       Driver          "mtx"
       BusID           "PCI:1:0:0"
       Option          "HWcursor" "off"
       Screen 0
       Option          "DigitalScreen1" "on"
EndSection

Section "Device"
       Identifier      "MatroxVideoCard1"
       Driver          "mtx"
       BusID           "PCI:1:0:0"
       Option          "HWcursor" "off"
       Screen 1
       Option          "DigitalScreen2" "on"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
       Identifier      "Monitor0"
       VendorName      "Dell"
       ModelName       "Dell 2001FP (Digital)"
       DisplaySize     410 310
       HorizSync       31.0 - 80.0
       VertRefresh     56.0 - 76.0
       Option          "dpms"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
       Identifier      "Monitor1"
       VendorName      "Dell"
       ModelName       "Dell 2001FP (Digital)"
       DisplaySize     410 310
       HorizSync       31.0 - 80.0
       VertRefresh     56.0 - 76.0
       Option          "dpms"
EndSection


Section "Screen"
       Identifier      "Screen0"
       Device          "MatroxVideoCard0"
       Monitor         "Monitor0"
       DefaultDepth    24
       SubSection "Display"
               Depth 24
               Modes "1600x1200" "1280x1024" "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
       EndSubSection
EndSection

Section "Screen"
       Identifier      "Screen1"
       Device          "MatroxVideoCard1"
       Monitor         "Monitor1"
       DefaultDepth    24
       SubSection "Display"
               Depth 24
               Modes "1600x1200" "1280x1024" "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
       EndSubSection
EndSection


Section "ServerLayout"
       Identifier      "Dual-headed Configuration"
       Screen "Screen0" RightOf "Screen1"
       Screen "Screen1" 0 0
       InputDevice     "Generic Keyboard"
       InputDevice     "Configured Mouse"
EndSection

Section "ServerFlags"
       Option          "Xinerama"
EndSection

Section "DRI"
       Mode    0666
EndSection