Hiking along the water

I really needed an excuse to try out my new backpack. Actually I have the AC Lite 15 but that is no longer present on the site and I guess that explains the discount I got on it. It’s not that I’m not happy with my other backpack, but I found the Osprey a bit too big for simple daytrips. Hiking along the Oosterschelde yesterday confirmed to me that it’s also very nice to have a small backpack. I still expect to use the Osprey on multi-day hikes which I’m planning for spring and summer, but for single-day trips I think the Deuter will win out.

Yesterday’s route took me along the Grenslandpad from Biezelinge to Krabbendijke in Zeeland. Since I left a bit in a hurry to catch the once-an-hour train in Krabbendijke I took the wrong guidebook with me so I was left to navigate only based on the markings. Not a big deal normally, but here the markings where either faded by the salt water to the point that you could hardly see them, or they were put in such awkward places that it was unclear what way to go. With some educated guessing I did find most of the route, but in the end things were a bit unclear again and I just used the GPS to find back my car. The weather was great, with a strong wind blowing in the general direction I was walking in and splendid sunshine all afternoon.

Published on 02/03/2008 at 18h23 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Speaking of eselect...

Flameeyes mentions some possible eselect project for SoC. I’d like to add a project idea to that: rework eselect so that it has an interface at a higher level. Please explain to me why I have to write 195 lines of code (rails.eselect) just to manage a symlink to a binary. It seems to me that this is what most eselect modules are doing, so this case should be really easy, and just a matter of configuration. I’m sure some of the eselect modules are doing more complicated things, but that can be solved by providing hooks.

I’d rather specifiy something like this (and not make silly mistakes in the bash code like in the current eselect modules):

TITLE="Ruby on Rails"
DESCRIPTION="Some more verbose, multiline, stuff"
TARGET="/usr/bin/rails"
PROVIDERS="/usr/bin/rails-2.0* /usr/bin/rails-1.2* /usr/bin/rails-1.1*"

This is a bit of a simplistic example. I’m sure a slightly more complicated format would be needed to handle some of the common cases, including additional binaries, man pages, etc. Determining that would require taking inventory on the current eselect modules and seeing the common patterns, which makes it, uhm, a project.

Published on 02/02/2008 at 20h53 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Not a resolution

I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions, but there is something about the quiet period between Christmas and the New Year that makes you reflect a bit on the past year. One thing I noticed is that I haven’t been outdoors as much as I’d like. Two weekends and a handful of days in a whole year is a bit disappointing.

With clear blue skies there was no excuse this past Sunday not to go and do some hinking. The wind was much stronger and colder than expected, but that just reenforced the fact that I should have been thinking about the direction I was going in. I wouldn’t have had to stare into the sun all the time as well. Still, some nice views along the Waterlinie on the Waterliniepad.

Published on 07/01/2008 at 22h33 by Hans de Graaff, tags

XEmacs overlay

For some time now there have been an emacs and xemacs overlay available through layman. Both of them pointed to the same overlay of the Emacs project. While this worked fine and also seemed easy for the Emacs project people from a maintenance perspective, we’ve now decided to split up things more clearly to avoid confusion. The emacs overlay now contains all experimental things related to GNU Emacs, and the xemacs overlay contains everything related to XEmacs.

For XEmacs users nothing changes if you were already using the xemacs overlay, but if you used the emacs overlay up to now then you will need to add or change to the xemacs overlay to continue using the latest xemacs ebuilds and eclasses, most prominently the xemacs 21.5 ebuild.

Published on 30/12/2007 at 11h44 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Autumn hiking

Kicking up beech leaves and listening to the sound that makes is part of the full Autumn experience for me. This weekend I got ample opportunity to do so in the forest between Spa and Stavelot. Two nice days of hiking, with generally nice weather, although a little bit on the cold side, especially on the Fagne de Malchamps. Still, no rain, which is a huge improvement over our track record of the past few weekends, and even a faint bit of sunshine late on Sunday.

We followed the GR5 from Winamplanche to Stavelot, staying there overnight, and walking back to Spa through a route we made up ourselves. Making our own track worked out pretty well, with some nice sights along the way. Good fortune that hunting was on Saturday this weekend, so the forest we needed to cross was open to the public on Sunday. Wonderful autumn atmosphere all around us for the most part, and the Fagne de Malchamps looks impressively bleak.

We stayed in the Hotel d’Orange in Stavelot. The building has been a hotel for 7 generations but unfortunately this doesn’t really translate well into the decor. Some touching up and some subtle modernazation could really benefit the place. Still, we had a nice stay there in a clean room and friendly hotel staff. We had dinner at the Pizzeria Figaro in Stavelot, and that comes highly recommended. Nice relaxed place to eat with some great food.

Published on 29/10/2007 at 21h28 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Skiing this winter

The first week of skiing for this coming winter is now booked. I’ll be on the slopes in Tignes February 9-16. We’ll be staying in Les Brévieres, so I’ll have ample opportunity the ski down Sache again, the first black slope that messed with my head and where I needed some strong peptalk to finally get down. That was a loooong time ago, though, and I’m sure I’ll fare much better this year.

I do plan to go for at least another long weekend or perhaps a week, but I’ll make plans for that and/or jump in the car when the time is right, possibly even before Christmas if there is going to be a decent amount of snow. We’ll see… I’ll keep my eyes peeled on the snow-forecast.com predictions.

Published on 07/10/2007 at 11h25 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Installing Gentoo on an Intel DG33FB mainboard

I’ve slowly been going deaf in the last few days. On the desk in my study is a new 19" rack-mounted server which will soon become Winkwaves’ main web server, and its fans are making a racket. I’m glad it will be in the data center soon, but for a while it seemed like that would never happen.

When the server arrived earlier this week I thought it’d be a matter of simply popping in a Gentoo minimal install CD, running through the installation steps, and be done with it. So I popped in the CD. Rebooted the machine. Nothing happened. No boot disk present. Please press any key. Hmm. Popped the CD into another machine and it booted just fine. Lots of tinkering with the BIOS resulted in exactly the same situation. The machine was pretty eager to boot over the network, though. So, in the spirit of adventure and learning new things I decided to make it happy. Followed the instructions and rigged dhcp and tftp servers on my laptop. Succes! At least now the machine booted and showed that it could run a Linux kernel.

After some creative use of disk partitions and shuffling stuff on a too-small USB stick, I finally got to the point where I should be able to boot off of the harddisk, but again the dreaded ‘No boot disk’ message. My mind, devious as it can be, linked this failure to the problem of not being able to boot from the CD.

Time for a BIOS update. Intel had already posted two updates since the one I had on the board, so perhaps that would fix things, even though the very summary release notes didn’t seem to hint at a fix. After updating the BIOS I could again boot from CD, but still not from the harddisk. That should have been a red flag that perhaps this was an unrelated problem, but I didn’t see that at the time. It wasn’t until some time later that I finally realized, thanks to a lilo message, that the boot partitions weren’t flagged as active (ie. bootable). Not setting this flag works fine with the ASUS boards I’ve been using thus far, but the Intel board is a bit more strict. Anyway, set the active flags, and: success!

Now the machine runs fine, and it sure is quick to compile stuff. I did had to use the e1000 network driver from Intel, because the e1000 driver that is in the Linux 2.6.22 kernel isn’t new enough to recognize it. I didn’t play around with the other hardware such as video and audio since this will only need to work as a server anyway.

Finally, we got this server from HPS Industrial. They delivered right on the day they said they would and gave us a good price as well.

Published on 07/10/2007 at 10h51 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Finally: hiking on the Pieterpad

Whenever I mention to people in the Netherlands that I like long-distance hiking on paths stretching a few hundreds of kilometers, most of them invariably will mention the Pieterpad. I’m not exactly sure why, but there is something about this particular path that makes people remember. Perhaps it is the fact that is stretches from the far north of the Netherlands way down to the very south. Or that it was one of the first to get a lot of publicity. Or perhaps it just has a nice name.

In any case, I never really walked on it, apart from a few small stretches where it overlapped with the Pelgrimspad, and as a way of getting to the GR5 near Maastricht. Until last weekend, when I finally walked my first stretch, from near Doetinchem to Spijk. The weather was great for walking. Well, apart from the first hour where it rained quite hard, but we solved that by getting coffee. This part of the path crosses through a small part of Germany that protrudes into the Netherlands, so this was an international day of hiking.

Published on 08/09/2007 at 19h36 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Raining out of Belgium

I’m at home on a Sunday afternoon as I’m writing this. The weather is nice, with big clouds and an odd patch of blue, which makes it easy to dry out my camping gear on the balcony. It’s all still wet from what was going to be a weekend of camping and hiking in Belgium. We decided to leave there early this morning instead of hiking for another day, as the rain forecast was for 20mm of rain to fall in the course of 6 hours. That kind of downpour crosses the border, it’s where the fun ends.

It’s not that I wasn’t prepared as I got some new hiking gear. I got the Haglöfs Fusion jacket partly to take with me to work when going by bike and partly for hiking trips with a chance of rain. It did get a good workout on Saturday already, when we had some heavy rain in the first hour, and so far I love this jacket. Wears great and is easy to pack. The one thing that drives my crazy though is why there is a piece of velcro on the hood. Can that be used to fold the hood away? If so, I’m at a loss how to do that.

I’ve also retired my old backpack after years and years of heavy duty. A few minor annoyances have been building up while using it over the years, and I took the opportunity to correct them with a new backpack: Osprey’s Stratos 32. After two days of hiking I really love this pack. It’s large enough to stow quite a bit of stuff when travelling, but small enough to wear it as a daypack. It’s got a bunch of nice features that make it a treat to use such as the special side pockets for water bottles, the zippered side pockets for maps and books, and bungee loops on the back to easily attach stuff to the backpack.

As for hiking: we did manage to get a good day in on Saturday with only an hour of heavy to light rain at the beginning. The area just east of Liège is pretty heavily populated and the path took us over a bit too many paved routes for my liking, but it also ended right next to our campsite which made shuffling the cars a bit easier.

Published on 30/07/2007 at 20h37 by Hans de Graaff, tags , , , , , ,

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