Posts for the month of February 2010

Arduino Project

I'm thinking about starting an Arduino project. I don't want to reveal details yet. But it won't be all that cool, just something I want.

I was really liking the BlackWidow until I read that it is not 802.11b/g but b only, which would slow my network down too much. FAIL guys. :(

So now I need to decide - do I get a Ethernet shield for $46 and then load OpenWRT into a $25 802.11n router? Then if the project fails, I still can re-use the router as a bridge somewhere else... or do I splurge and spend $90 for a "real" Arduino 802.11g unit?

I Hate Java

(Originally posted 27 Nov 09, lost in server mishap, found in Google's cache of this page)

So for some reason this evening, my favorite RSS Reader (RSSOwl 2) wouldn't run... and that scares me. I use it to peruse probably 60-80 websites daily.

Anyway, it just wouldn't run. No error messages. Didn't even look like Windows would give it a chance. Never showed up in Task Manager. Well, I was using a beta, so I uninstalled it and installed the newly released 2.0. Still no luck. Nothing at all.

Decided to try it from the command line, to see if the helps:

Error occurred during initialization of VM
java/lang/NoClassDefFoundError: java/lang/Object

That's nice and descriptive - WTF? Remembering that RSSOwl is built on the Java IDE Eclipse, I decided to make sure I have the newest Java. I am running Windows 7, which is fairly new, so maybe something happened there. Doesn't explain why I've been running it since its release with no problems up to now... In fact, I notice that running java from the command line gives me the same error.

BTW, Google was useless, a bunch of posts about Java from 2005, or talk about the SDKs and/or rt.jar. None seemed to apply.

So I install the latest, which is "Java 6 Update 17" - an odd numbering scheme, I will get back to that. With a fresh install, the plugin works in Firefox. has a link to check your JVM too. That crashed Firefox. So I copy the URL and try Internet Explorer. Crashed that too. Drop to the command line to try java - same error.

Open up the control panel to add/remove programs, and I see that there are 4 or 5 versions of Java installed. Why? Shouldn't "Update 17" be sufficient instead of also having Updates 2, 5, 7, and 13 also? (I don't remember the exact numbers).

After uninstalling all of them, and then installing the newest, everything works fine, including RSSOwl and the JVM check page:

[email protected] ~
$ java -version
java version "1.6.0_17"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_17-b04)
Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 14.3-b01, mixed mode, sharing)

One note: I think Update 17 was the first one to be installed/updated after the upgrade from Vista to Win7. That may be related to why there was such weirdness... but I still don't agree with an update not removing all the previous ones.

RHEL/CentOS/VMWare pissed me off

(Originally posted 25 Oct 09, lost in server mishap, found in Google's cache of this page)

I cannot believe that a point release would hose me up so badly...

More than 4 serial ports under Linux

(Originally posted 24 Oct 09, lost in server mishap, found in Google's cache of this page)

So at work I am using a PCI104 octal serial port board. It's pretty cool that Linux now supports those OOB, but I had problems; I only saw the first two ports!

After doing a bunch of research; I finally found the problem. I had assumed it was something with the chipset itself. However, it is a problem with the default kernel build from RHEL/CentOS. They only allow up to four by default! To get more (up to 32 with the RHEL/CentOS kernel), you have to add to the command line in GRUB:


Again, that can be up to 32. I chose 12 because "traditionally" the mobo could have up to four. That made the two on the mobo ttyS0 and ttyS1, so the octal card has ttyS4 to ttyS11. So ttyS2 and ttyS3 are unused. A quick check with dmesg | grep ttyS will show them being allocated.

Side note: You can check how many the default is by doing grep CONFIG_SERIAL_8250 /boot/config-`uname -r` and looking for CONFIG_SERIAL_8250_RUNTIME_UARTS. CONFIG_SERIAL_8250_NR_UARTS is the maximum you can have without rebuilding the kernel.

Maybe I'll get inspired and blog sometime about the cool stuff I did with udev so that I can configure a box and then the software would just "know" where which serial port the (external device) was on by calling /dev/projectname/extdevice .

Strange Software Install Issue (Installer silently hangs)

I've been having a strange install issue with the ATI Catalyst software. It's documented here on the AMD site:

However, forums like that have a great history of disappearing when I need them most, so a summary is also now here.

Setup was totally hanging. I tried all kinds of things to trace what was happening. Then this wonderful post came along:

From Wiink:

I signed up to post in this thread since I was having the exact same issue and was really frustrated over it. I have a 4890 and have always used Ati graphics cards, never had any issues and drivers always installed flawlessly until one day i decided to update from 9.8 to the current 9.12.

I'd go through the usual uninstall methods using the ati uninstaller and then follow up with driver sweeper. Click on the exe for the 9.12 suite and it would unpack/extract then an hourglass for about 5 seconds and then nothing. I would see InstallManagerApp.exe running in the taskmanager and my hdd light would be lit, but that was about install. Tried many times and nothing worked. Drove me absolutely crazy. Checked and re-checked all the cleanup, c++ redist and .net stuff....All in order and still same results - nothing.

Then I came across this thread about not having full admin permission for registry changes needed for some software installs even though I am the only user and Admin of this pc. When installing the 9.12 Catalyst Suite, it needs to change something in the registry that was now being blocked , so I ran this fix posted here and my problems were solved immediately on both my Vista and my XP Pro machines. Just remember to create a fresh system restore point before applying it. I was so happy to have the issue fixed I had to share. It specifies Vista in the post, but it worked for my Xp Pro as well flawlessly. Took about 20 minutes and fixed! And sorry for the wall of text. Just do a reboot after running the cmd file and try to install the catalyst 9.12 suite again, should work now.

Post by Michael G. Simmons:

There is a quick fix for this and any other permission issues that occur with Vista. I've seen this happen with several different installs under Vista including VS 2005 and Orcas. The problem is for some reason regisry permissions are given to the user msiserver. You can reset each entry manually, but that is a major pain. It's much easier just to fix the entire registry by using the SubInACL utility. Basically, you can use the utility to add administrator permissions to every key in the registry.

  1. Download and install the SubInACL utility.

2.Create a new text file named fix_registry_permissions.cmd and add the following text to it and save it.

    cd /d "%programfiles%\Windows Resource Kits\Tools"
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %windir%\*.* /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
  1. Run the file by double-clicking on it.

That's it. It will take several minutes to finish, but at the end all registry keys will be accessable to the administrator and system, as it should be.