• One 'bricked' laptop

    This evening I thought I’d install the most recent firmware update A09 for my new Dell XPS 1645 laptop. I downloaded the installer and ran it, and it automatically started the update.

    Then it got stuck.

    I left it for a fair while, but the progress bar was not moving, and then I discovered the mouse and keyboard were also not responding. Holding down the power-button had no effect, so the only way to power off was to remove the battery.

    A call to Dell support revealed that as it is a hardware problem I need to talk to their hardware support line which is only open 8am – 8pm (and it was already past 8pm).

    So tomorrow morning I’ll be on the phone to see what can be done. Very frustrating.

  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Event

    To paraphrase Roy and HG, “When too much SQL Server is barely enough”..

    If you’re interested in seeing some of the new Business Intelligence (BI) features of SQL Server 2008 R2, then you might want to attend one of the free events being held around Australia. The east-coast events are done, but it isn’t too late if you’re in Adelaide (Tuesday 25th May) or Perth (Wednesday 26th May). Register now via this form.

    As an added bonus, for Adelaide attendees you can stay on to catch Buck Woody direct from the USA present on another R2 feature - Data-Tier Application Components at the May meeting of the Adelaide SQL User Group – held for your convenience at the same venue.

    See you there!

  • Grafx 1.0 for MINIX

    Isn’t this Internet thing cool! Using Google Group’s Usenet archive, I managed to locate the project I completed in the 3rd year of my Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer and Information Science, way back in 1991/92.

    My supervisor (Bob Buckley) offered to post the finished source code to the comp.os.minix newsgroup on my behalf (as students didn’t have permission to post to newsgroups at that time). Strangely, the older posts in this newsgroup don’t appear to be indexed properly by Google (eg. searching for ‘gardiner’ doesn’t return any matches), but for posterity, here are the links to the overview and 4 parts:

    Quoting from the introduction text:

    The Grafx package gives MINIX the ability to display graphical output. It also partially implements the UNIX plot(3X) library. Graphics is driven through the BIOS (with all the associated implications).

    Hardware Requirements:         IBM-PC or BIOS compatible         Graphics Adaptor - CGA,EGA,VGA,(Hercules Untested)

            Other platforms eg. 68K should be able to use this package         with a small amount of work.

    The documentation is distributed in the following files:

    usrdoc.txt      - User documentation - ASCII text sysdoc.txt      - System documentation - ASCII text

    These are wordperfect output - so bold and underline may look odd on your screen, but should print OK. Mail a request for the WP files if you want to print with different fonts, etc.

    I would welcome your feedback on this package. It was my 3rd year project, as part of the Computer Studies Degree course at the University of South Australia.

    - Dave Gardiner, 14/2/92 Internet: [email protected]

    Historical notes

    • The 4 separate posts are part of a “shar” shell archive – a popular way of sharing scripts and source code in newsgroups.
    • It was in August 1991 that Linus posted to comp.os.minix about a new operating system he was working on (later to become Linux).
    • I’m pretty sure I got a response back from Prof. Andrew Tanenbaum – I can’t find anything online so it may have been an email which has since been lost. I believe he encouraged further work on the idea – but unfortunately that never happened.