Proposal: A file system for Live CDs

(August 20, 2009)

CDs or DVDs containing a full Linux system for installation, testing, repair or other special purposes are quite common these days. Chances are high that people make their first steps with the Linux, BSD or Solaris operating system using these so-called Live CDs: They are convenient (no need to install the OS), they are safe (doesn’t write anything to disk unless you really want it to) … but they are slow. Booting from a Live CD like Knoppix or the Ubuntu Desktop CD takes ages and makes you wonder if your CD/DVD drive will actually survive that whole operation, considering that it is permanently seeking. And even if you made it to the desktop, you’ll still have to be patient if you intend to open any application, because the drive has to spin up again and load libraries and data for whatever program you start. Or even worse: In the modern GUI-based environments you have to wait for icons to load even if you just click on a launcher menu. As useful as those Live CDs might be, this a major source of annoyance.

In this post, I will present a method to solve this problem. I do not claim to be the first one to invent it – in fact, I refuse to believe that no one had this idea before me.
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I’m back

(August 11, 2009)

It’s been a while since I last wrote something here, but that’s because I was busy with Applied Mediocrity, my intro for Evoke and after that, I had some vacation. But now I’m back and have the time to work on my other projects, including this blog. So stay tuned for the next two real (technical) articles, which will be about some ideas I had about Linux Live CDs and an explanation of the effects in Applied Mediocrity.

NanoJPEG: a compact JPEG decoder

(April 29, 2009)

If you followed my works, you know that I like compact, single-file implementations of decoders for various media formats, and where such a thing doesn’t exist, I tend to write or at least port one myself. Now I’d like to add the third format to that list: Baseline JPEG images.
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Breakpoint 2009 Party Report

(April 16, 2009)

The is no such thing as easter. There’s only Breakpoint.
Happy Breakpoint!

This 1984-inspired text is from one of the bigscreen slides from this year’s issue of world’s largest Demoscene-only party: Breakpoint in Bingen am Rhein, Germany. As every year, the party takes place during what non-sceners call the easter weekend. And as every year, some friends and I were there, too.
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My new toy: Fujifilm F200EXR

(April 9, 2009)

I’m a happy user of the Fujifilm S9500 bridge camera since 2005, but lately, I noticed that it would also be really nice to have a second, smaller camera that I can take with me (almost) everywhere. This isn’t a problem in itself – there are countless compact point-and-shoot cameras at around 200 € on the market. However, most (if not all) of these suffer from too high resolutions and too small (1/2.5″) sensors. The days of the legendary F30/F31 with its large 6-megapixel sensor and unrivalled low noise are also long gone, so my »new camera« project was on hold for a long time. That was until february, when Fujifilm announced the release of its new compact F-series model, the F200EXR, based on the highly anticipated SuperCCD EXR sensor. After reading the first beta reviews and seeing the first example images, I immediately ordered the camera and it arrived just in time for my Paris visit, where I had the perfect opportunity to test the camera. Here’s what I found out.
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H.264 Decoder Benchmark, Part 2

(February 26, 2009)

After the H.264 decoder benchmark I did when DivX 7 came out, I got some comments that I misrepresented CoreAVC by using an outdated version. Recently, I repeated the benchmarks using the newest version of CoreAVC fresh from their website. I also used more computers to test the decoders on, and the results were very interesting.
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Four generations of iPod nanos compared

(February 16, 2009)

Over the last few years, I bought one specimen of all four generations of Apple’s iPod nano media player, mainly to make rePear compatible with each new model. (In fact, rePear’s main development target are iPod nanos.) Here are my thoughts about the benefits and drawbacks of each generation.
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KeyJ’s Blog 2.0 (or rather, 2.7)

(February 9, 2009)

For a very long time, this blog was run by WordPress 2.0.x – this was the current version when I started it, and I kept updating it for a while, but after I built the captcha, I stopped doing so. The reason is that I implemented my captcha as a direct hack in WordPress’ sources, not as a plugin, not even a my-hacks.php file. In the meantime, I some security holes appeared: I frequently found invisible spam injected into my posts. I have never found the actual hole through which they did this, but I disabled everything that could be problematic (all this Web2.0ey XMLRPC crap, for example). In particular, I excluded all hosts from a certain spam-friendly provider from my site. This helped a lot, until last week, when I suddenly found that my Windows 7 review has not only been altered, but replaced by invisible spam.

This was the point when I finally had enough – I upgraded the blog to WordPress 2.7 yesterday. To my great surprise, the test transition, performed on a local copy of the site, worked absolutely flawlessly. I could even re-use my theme without changes, which was my greatest source of fear. On the real server, there was still the little problem of the PHP memory limit which was too low for WP 2.7 (why on earth do they use more than 8 MiB, even without plugins and locales?!), but this has been fixed with a simple mail to my friendly webspace provider (thanks, Rafayel!).

Everything worked, except the captcha, which I reimplemented as a proper WordPress plugin today and activated just now. By the way, in the 22 hours without the captcha, I already got over a dozen spam posts. Sigh. Let’s see how long this installment of the site works :)

Compiler benchmark

(February 6, 2009)

I usually write my demos using Microsofts C Compiler for Win32 and GCC for Linux. But how good does Intel’s compiler optimize? And can the performance of MSVC and GCC be improved using a clever selection of compiler switches? That’s what I wanted to find out, and so I wrote my own little benchmark based on some code of my demos and let it run through all these compilers with different options. The results are a little bit different from what I expected …
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A quick look at Windows 7 Beta 1 … Not!

(January 15, 2009)

Sorry, but this post has been vandalized by spammers that somehow altered the post text. If anyone has a saved backup of this post, please give it to me.