Tuesday, October 10, 2006

DVB connection with Insat 4A

I got Tata Sky connection today. Overall experience is good.

Buying Hardware:
First I bought a Set Top Box (STB) from local dealer. Its Thomsom DSI3207C with Tata Sky CAS (Conditional Access System) card embedded in it. I cant find any details about this Thomson DSI3207C on web. Probably a special make by Thomson for Tata Sky. It costed INR 2999/-.

Apart from this we got to pay INR 1000 towards installation charges. With that offer says connection for first 82 days is free along with 50% discount on installation charges.

Later part of discount and free stuff is simply to fool customers. When you pay that 1000 towards installation charges, dealer gives you a pre paid charge voucher for 1000 bucks. Now when you get connection you need to activate using this 1000 bucks. Out of this 1000, 500 goes towards installation and remaining 500 for 82 days based on 200 per month charges.

Instead of this, they can simply say installation charges as 500 and minimum lease period is 82 days which costs 500. And post 82 days they are offering Rs 200 per month for limited period.
Actual package and cost are not yet revealed.

So the dealer gives you STB. Once you get that you need to call up their call center 66006633 or From MTNL/BSNL lines: 1-901-425-6633. Then some newly recruited call center guy picks up the phone. To be very poilte he adds Mr.YourName before and after every sentence. Finally he takes your DigiComp No and Digicard Number which are pasted on STB box. Then he schedules installation and informs customer ID and scheduled date for installation. Installation normally happens with two days. And they mention that it takes approximately 2 hours of time.

In my case installation team turned up well in time on second day. They called up and reached home by Maruthi Van. They are professional enough.
They bought a dish, LNB, wire and complete tool kit. Checked the location for clear site at 83 degrees East towards south. That is the location for INSAT 4A in GSO. Tata Sky booked all the 12 Ku band (12 to 18 GHz microwave frequency) transponders on INSAT 4A with DVB capabilities. http://www.lyngsat.com/in4a.html And their dish and LNB by looks appears a standard make. But its just Tata SKY written over them.

Then they routed the cable through best possible way. They are well trained professionals.

And then it is an instant start. You connect cable from LNB to STB and connect RYB cables from STB to TV AV-In port. Start TV and tune to AV channel. Boop... it picks up instantly. Scans all transpoders and updates information in STB.

Quality and Channels:
Picture quality, voice and navigation options are superb. I think SKY plays roles here. Star network which got 20% stake in Tata SKY joint venture, owns and operates SKY services in UK.

The test connection is valid for first 24 hours, during that we need to activate using prepaid card of 1000.

Goodie stuff:
Some good options are favourites, ACTIVE menus, Electronic Program Guide for a week etc, option to select language if uploaded in DVD format.. Here is the list of channels offered http://www.lyngsat.com/packages/tatasky.html

Poor/Bad Stuff:
Down side is movie on demand is not in active operation. And you got keep your TV sound full to control it from STB. And Music channels are not yet activated.

To explore:
I still need to explore on how to tune into other free channels using STB.
Is it possible to use the same STB with another service provider.

As per Trai all STB's should be interoperable. But TATA SKY has some objection with DVR capabilites of STB as opposed by other licensee for DTH broadcasting services in India,Dish TV.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

medical services

How can we rate medical services? Ok leave away with rating how do we decide upon which hospital/doctor to approach when we are in need of medical help? Traditional concept of "family doctors" is fading away from our society. Medical services are becoming commercialized. Approach for diagnosis has taken an unfortunate course.
Who cares about patients past medical history and treatments? Whom to blame for this? A doctor is mere a cog in the wheel of hospital. A doctor is still considered as a respectable person in India. But what are the factors that are offending their morale.

Just to think about profession of doctors. Many of my school friends, bothers and sisters are doctors.
As on today an MBBS doctor passed out from a reputed Govt. Medical college is unable to earn 10K, whereas a normal graduate could earn more than 15K from call center jobs. And the duration of MBBS course is another factor that discourages an individual from taking up medical science for undergraduate studies. Recently I met few doctors who got MBBS degree in last two years. They are leading impoverished life. They can’t see any road map to earn 25K per month in near feature. Very few can invest money to start their own hospital and run it profitably. Hardly anyone interested in MD or any other higher education options. Of course they constitute only a section of doctor’s community. Though you can be kind enough towards one or two sections majority of them are becoming intolerable.

When looked at this problem on national front, India as a nation is loosing the ability to provide quality medical services to common man. Our medical resources are depleting. Super specialty hospitals are succeeding in providing good infrastructure and one stop service centers but loosing on quality.

Casualty gets lowest preference. It’s pathetic to here about it but that is the reality which we end up facing every now and then. Either inexperienced doctors or doctors who don’t have back to back schedules are placed there. Many of them lack courtesy towards a patient. Sense of urgency doesn't have any role to play there.

I observed diagnose process closely for out-patient cases in so called multi specialty hospitals.
Here is a brief account

First step is to blame on hereditary. Because you can’t change your ancestors its easy to convince you by telling that you are bound to get this problem, if not today some time later in your life time. It’s quite a simple formula to diagnose. And this works out well in most cases.

Second step is to choose package. There are so many pre fed packages to filter out. Here the approach is not to diagnose, but to eliminate non probables. This is because multiple choice questions are quite easy compared to fill in the blanks. So chose which packages to apply upon. And enough care should be taken while selecting so that the reports are not be available for 36 hours of time. For those 36 hours prescribe pain killers and antibiotics. Good when patient collects reports and comes back ask for improvements; obviously pain killers influence him to say "feeling better to some extent".

Third step is dependent on second step. If patient complains that there is no improvement rather its worse, refer to another department. If you are fortunate this is where the actual treatment starts. Else you may go around another round before getting referred to another department or doctor or hospital.

Fourth step is contrary to third step or self diagnosis. When you turn up to hospital to say that you recovered, you got pay fine at pharmacy for recovering so quickly. Probably four to fives doses in a day, a dose before meal a dose after meal. 1 - 1 - 1 or 1 - 0 - 1 or 0 - 0 - 1 or upon suffering. Obviously you can’t meet this dosage particularly when you know that you recovered. So either discontinue that treatment or keep those tablets for self medication at later point in time till they expire.

Are there any such tools to rate hospitals in our locality, write treatment experiences and praise / curse? Are there any web tools where we can log our medical history, search on others for symptoms or experiences? We have so many forums about computer systems where are they for human systems? We got online photos albums, journal for entertaining tidings in life, email for quick communication. We got some forums for discussing about good or bad about a car, camera, phone and etc... We rate them and refer them.

Is there anything www community does in this direction?

Providing online medical services for a free or minimal charge is secondary, but at least are there any sites or forums to bridge patients and good doctors?

Friday, September 29, 2006

New PC

After 6 years I am tired with my P3 and got a new one today.

This time I felt like assembling it.

I was waiting to get a Core 2 since long time. Initially I thought of taking an iMAC. That is coming up with new Core 2 ones. But I felt the cost factor beyond my limit.

Then I went ahead to buy an E6400 (2.13 GHz, 2MB Shared) model Core2 from Intel. And then the motherboard I wanted with Firewire support. Only Intel P865 chipset supports firewire. So I took ASUS TEK P5B Delux WIFI AP board. This costed a bomb. Final configuration came out like this.

1) Intel E6400 - 12.8 K
2) Asus TEK P5B Delux WIFI - 18K
3) RAM 1GB non ECC Trancend - 5.5K
4) SATA 160 GB Hard Disk - 3K
5) ATI X550 256 MB graphics - 4K
6) Microsoft wireless Keyboard and Mouse - 1.5 K
7) Zebronics Cabinet - 2.5 K
8) SONY 17" LCD - 13.9 K
9) LG DVD Writer - 2K

But Motherboard is good with dual LAN and WIFI. Yet the explore the performance.

Can anybody suggest clean tools to test overall system performance.

Community Service!!

There was a good old barber in Bangalore.

One day a
florist goes to him for a haircut.

After the cut, he goes to pay the barber

and the barber replies:

I am sorry, I cannot accept money from you; I am doing
a Community Service.
Florist is happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the Barber goes to open his
shop, there is a "Thank You" Card and a dozen roses waiting at his

A Confectioner goes for a haircut and he also goes to
pay the barber he again refuses to take the money. The Confectioner is
happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the Barber goes to open his shop, there is another ”Thank you" Card and a dozen Cakes waiting at

A Software Engineer goes for a haircut and he also goes to pay the barber
again refuses the money saying that it was a community

The next morning when the Barber goes to open his
shop, guess what he finds there......

Scroll down for answer.................
(Believe me it's worth it!!!!!!!!!!)







A Dozen Software engineers waiting for a free
haircut... with Printouts of
forwarded mail mentioning about free haircut

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Reliance Broadband

I took new reliance broadband connection after cancelling Airtel.

Reliance is offering 1000 kbps with 1 GB limit on download for 600 rs rental per month.

Its nice, they give a telephone too with free rental. Call charges are as applicable.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bought new Motorola SLVR L7

Today I bought a new Motorola SLVR L7. Its a gift from Radhi for 6th wedding Anniversary.
So far so good, but today I found a problem with camera. Its gets picture with red patches.
I called up Motorola service center Redington at Somajiguda.
Went there and gave a written complaint. They say it may take three days to get the spare unit.Hope they will call me back.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Moved into new apartment

Today we moved into new apartment. Its 11A Jayadarsini.
So I lost internet connection for the moment and busy with shifting.
So back from today

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Influencing Satisfaction - Control to care not to question the dare

Here I want to write about influencing satisfaction on salary hike.
To some extent I want to criticise too, thus some parts of this writing may infer conniption. So please read those parts with a pinch of salt.

I would like to start by citing a known case then the intended case.
Listed companies distribute lot of printed material along with dividend. Companies draft such material with an intention to influence the share holders to deal with prevailing business situation. Here the key is to bring the shareholders under their influence.

Here is the intended case. Employee’s performance is measured as confidential subject. Same goes with Team’s performance, Group’s performance and Business Unit’s performance. But organization’s performance is declared and published. How can an employee relate to million dollar balance sheet? Agreed it gives some fun in discussing about it at coffee table, but seldom influences an individual.

When an employee feels dissatisfied about increment, management convinces by saying that everyone was treated fairly so there is nothing they can do about it. But basis for that fairness will remain a mystery for that employee. And those who express negative feelings are marked as inconsiderate and immature to account for the situation. I know it goes on case to case basis but just hold it for the sake of criticism.

Here is the point of discussion. In first place, why leave the scope to feel dissatisfied and later expect them not to react about it. I guess it’s because of the fact that they were not prepared to deal with the situation. Are there any measures taken to influence the satisfaction level on salary hike. If no, why not. If yes, did they yield benefits so as to influence the majority. And what about improvements.

In traditional businesses performance is quite apparent. But that is not the case in coding workshops (software organizations). Employees seldom get to know about billing, capital expenditure, assets, salary budget etc... Many such details are masked from them. Here the key is to give them a feeling that they are not ‘completely’ masked. It is not too difficult to do this with a presentation. Content may not be descriptive but just need to make some sense.

To conclude following few points can be looked on in this regard.

1) “Prepare/Influence” an employee at every level - as an individual, as part of team, as part of group and as part of business unit to deal with the situation.
2) Discuss about salary budget on “qualitative” figures. Analyze it by performance of groups and teams. Present figures from previous years.
If management got content employees got caliber, they are not dumb they can understand basics of economics.
3) Prepare printed material to publish results at each level. Also handover that material along with hike letter.
4) Help those employees who express difficulty in understanding the content, if needed provide them with further reading material
5) Allow employees to express their dissatisfaction. Privacy is desired about salary but not about satisfaction. Conduct YES/NO kind of satisfaction survey. Publish the result of survey and guide employees to go with majority. If dissatisfaction leads, act on it and substantiate with “Industry Survey”.

Further we get to see mails stating “such acts are not acceptable and disciplinary action can be taken”. I guess every now and then one need not explicitly announce that they are capable of taking disciplinary actions. Just mention that relevant document (like Employee Hand Book) is modified and employees are expected to go through those sections.

Control to care not to question the dare...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Electronic filing of tax returns

Every year we do this. I mean filing tax returns. Is it fun, pleasure, caution, warning or frustration? Typical cycle goes like this. From Jan we keep getting calls for tax saving bonds. We get to hear many discussions around coffee machines about these bonds. Some desire to invest conservatively and few others go with the wind. Those invested go around finance desks to include their new investments. That part ends by end of March.

April is the time to declare the investments for next year. So based on previous year experiences we tend to improve it. But changes in Union budget leave us with lot of confusion. Then we need reviews on budget from finance gurus to make an optimum investment declaration.

End of June is the time for mails, to float around, about tax returns. This exercise is compulsory. Normally organization calls an agency for this sake. Those babus offer this service for hefty price. By Aug 15 we get acknowledged returns. We are expected to keep these papers carefully. Then there won’t be any activity till next Jan.

Year after year we do this job in almost similar manner. I didn't see any change in this process in last seven years. Taxes are for building nation. But lot us got concerns about proper utilization of funds raised from taxes. What I understand is most of the time this money goes to repay the loans we take from worldwide banks. I don’t think we are in a position to plan to do anything with our own money. Surveys reveal that only 10+ % of population pays tax.

There are several kinds of taxes that we pay. But the bulk out of them is income tax.
Take the case of Municipal Corporation or Road Transport Authority. We can pay property tax online as well Road tax. They streamlined their process so much that tax payer need not face bureaucratic hierarchy in their offices.

But what is lacking with income tax department (ITD)? I have following queries
1) ITD operates on much much higher volumes still they are unable to streamline the process. Do they lack money? Of course NO
2) Unlike customers of RTO department majority of tax payers are well educated and can take benefit of advanced means to file tax returns. But still why ITD can’t improve the process of filing returns?
3) Why can’t Income Tax Act be in colloquial language or even in plain English?
Why so much of legal nomenclature? So many inter links within sections?
4) When can we file returns ourselves online and can see the process of the file online?
5) Do we hold PAN card for IT department’s sake or for the sake of a loans from banks? What is the information that a tax payer can access with PAN? If it is mere a number for ITD reference but to be maintained by tax payer
6) There are penalties for those who evade tax, but what are the incentives for regular tax payers? Just because very few people pay taxes we cant expect anything of this sort.
7) Why not the whole process tax-payer friendly?

I think even before expecting our governments to do something productive out of funds collected from taxes, we should ensure that they provide hassle free means to pay it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

getting bits

I just got an Airtel unlimited braodband connection. Though the stated bandwidht is around 256 kbps i am getting a good 200 kbps and 13-23 KBps download speed. But surprisingly when I try to use bittorrent bandwidth falls down to 100 odd. Airtel cutomer care representative simply gave me referece number for a complaint.

Please can someone share some gyan about why it happens so..

Thursday, July 20, 2006

is blog a page 3 on webspace

What is that Govt is concerned about and the huge uproar that blogging community started againt Govt ? Is it mere suspicion ? Something awry here. Typical tendency is - who cares about what I scribble here ? There are many blogs which post messages about last night movie or a photograph of a party. They are more like personalised page3 of daily print media. And ofcourse typically that is the impression blogging held so far.

Government's order to block blogspot and other sites triggered some adverse views. Its unfortunate but heat of the moment played role there. This incident exposed bloggers across geographical sections of this nation. Well I could never ever convince anybody what I get by scribbling rubbish that goes in my mind onto a webspace. However it might be, so far it didn't harm anyone so I guess there is nothing wrong here...


Its exactly three months since I last visited my lj space. For some reason writing rate is ramping down. So I just thought of taking up it agian before I complete loose interest in it.
Actually one of the reasons is time and content. I do update my desklog regularly. But that is internal to office. I am using logahead for that on apache web server. So I have one or other thing to put on every week or so. Similary I scribble about some tech bits on sriharshavardhan.blogspot.com. As such I am not hitting keys explicitly.

Here goes another attempt to restart... Probable reason being, now i can insert images here...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Maximum threads per process – where is the bottleneck??

Recently I was doing an OPC compliance test on one of the IO severs that we developed.
There is a tool for this compliance test from OPCFoundation.org. By default tool tries to test using 10 servers, 10 groups per server and 10 items per group kind of configuration.

But the test case asked for compliance with 100 servers each with 10 groups or 10 servers each with 100 groups. Though the first case doesn’t appeal much, second case definitely does. But this IO server failed to cope up with that kind of load and started crashing after adding around 70 odd servers. Kind soul who logged the bug actually gave me all scripts so that I could recreate the condition at ease.

Suggestions came from many circles to check for resource usage. Isn’t that obvious!!!
A process which is so excessively hungry dies while eating itself. So the idea led to capture memory and thread consumption. All that I could observe is 1980 odd threads and sad demise. So it was not difficult guess to think of magical limit of 2048 as limit on number of threads per process.

Now I started hitting google to substantiate the limit I observed. Google gave me a page from Microsoft site. So here is what Microsoft got to explain about the limit.

Windows operating System allocates one mega bytes of memory as default stack size per thread. So in this case 2048 threads swallowed 2 Gigabytes of memory. Unfortunately that is the limit on user space virtual memory allocation per process. As 4 GB is max per process 2GB goes on user side and remaining 2 GB goes to kernel side.

Isn’t an MB of memory per thread too much!!!!!!

Posix threads can address this situation with stacksize member of pthread_attr_t. But there is catch here too, if you don’t specify this parameter, pthread library tries to assign it with operating system’s default. And Another member of pthread_attr_t is guardsize which has a default value of size of a page (4KB).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Scitilla SciTE

I was using notepad++ on windows since long time, but I never bothered to look into what was behind it.

Just today I came to know about scintilla.org.
Downloded SciTE for linux with GTK+ support. I am on Gentoo 2006.0.First thought of looking for an ebuild, then relaised that is too much to expect.

Installation is damn simple. I didn't compile just tried binary version. Copied SciTE to /usr/local/bin and all properties files to /use/share/scite/

Experimented with cpp and py files. Ofcourse python integration would be netive thingi for this.
I happened to modify cpp.properties file to take ./ infront of executable file name.

Joined scintella intereset group. My first post to that group is
"bash like shell expects ./ before executable to run.cpp.propeties file line 283 need to be modified to like thiscommand.go.$(file.patterns.cplusplus)=./$(FileName)"

SciTE on windows.
This time I downloaded source and built using VC7 nmake.
Its quite simple just downloaded source of SciTE. SciTe source code includes Scitilla source also.

Built Scintilla library using nmake -f scintilla.mak from "scite168\scintilla\win32" directory,then scite use nmake -f scite.mak from scite168\scite\win32 directory.

Some hickups with setting the environment with vsvars32.bat in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003\Common7\Tools directory. I was getting errors like nmake is not a recognised command.

Then I checked batch file, this file doesn't add anything to registry, it sets environemnt on current console.So the environement is valid for that console only.

I use cygwin on windows. SciTE can be used to build and execute. These options are present under Tools menu. Inorder to use gcc compiler, i added c:\cygwin\bin directory to path environment variable.

I just tested a simple cpp file. All works well. I am going to use SciTE till I find it inferior to anything else.

SciTE for windows

Today I tried SciTE for windows. This time I downloaded source and built using VC7 nmake.
Its quite simple just download source of SciTE. SciTe source code includes Scitilla source also.

First build Scintilla library using nmake -f scintilla.mak from "scite168\scintilla\win32" directory.
And to build scite use nmake -f scite.mak from scite168\scite\win32 directory.

Make sure that you set the environment with vsvars32.bat in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003\Common7\Tools directory. This is important, otherwise you may get an error that nmake is not a recognised command. And this batch file doesn't add anything to registry, it sets environemnt on current console. So run this batch file and then call these nmake commands from same console.

Then I use cygwin on windows. SciTE can be used to build and execute. These options are present under Tools menu. Inorder to use gcc compiler, you may need to add c:\cygwin\bin directory to path. Ofcourse you need to have gcc installed in cygwin environment.

I just tested a simple cpp file. All works well. I am going to use SciTE till I find a better choice.

SciTE Scitilla.org

I was using notepad++ on windows since long time, but I never bothered to look into what was behind it.

Just today I came to know about scintilla.org.

Downloded SciTE for linux using GTK+. I am Gentoo 2006.0. First thought of looking for an ebuild, then relaised that is too much to expect.

Installation is damn simple. I didn't compile just tried binary version. Copied SciTE to /usr/local/bin and all properties files to /use/share/scite/

Experimented with cpp and py files. Ofcourse python integration would be netive thingi for this.

I happened to modify cpp.properties file to take ./ infront of executable file name.

Joined scintella intereset group.

My first post to that group is

"bash like shell expects ./ before executable to run.
cpp.propeties file line 283 need to be modified to like this

Let me see what comes back

Friday, March 24, 2006

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface

I guess the buzz word “unified” is getting prefixed everywhere. Since Jan 31 2006 it took its place in front of EFI. EFI is an Intel’s initiative and now governed by EFI Forum.
Forum released their UEFI 2 Specification a couple of months back. OK why I am writing about this now is because of Microsoft’s press release about Vista will not support EFI in initial phase. So I just want to focus some light on this subject.

The basic sequence that goes in booting a PC is, power on, load BIOS and then boot loaded and then Operating system. This is what we learned and experimented around since years. First time when you though of upgrading your BIOS, you would have got a doubt whether my PC supports BIOS upgrade though flash update or do I need to replace those funny chips. To go a bit deeper, what is BIOS doing on your box?

As you can think of every processor by virtue of hardware design can jump to particular location when it is powered on. It is not as simple as jumping, but to keep things simple just make an assumption of such feature. Then it got to find out some instructions there to run your computer. These instructions are important to build an environment where in various different components of your computer can be controlled. By then some fixed locations of your RAM are holding pointers to various device controls. So as a programmer that is your environment, schedule your tasks to leverage on this environment. But such a sophisticated program (typically operating system) consumes more footprint, which your BIOS chip doesn’t have. So BIOS need a position to jump into some location which has huge memory to feed in further instructions of operating system. Such a location is typically a mass storage device or hard disk or even a network interface card. Thus BIOS provides options to boot from floppy (this for traditional support only, can do much because of 1.44 MB limitation), cd-rom, hard disk, network, and even some new BIOS chips can understand USB flash sticks also. Mean basically BIOS need to understand how to initialize these devices and keep a place holder in RAM, so that when OS boots up it can utilize these placeholders either to reinitialize or use then to control devices.

Then what is boot loader? Now when you select hard disk option, there is some tricky thing here. There can be many hard disks and there can be many operating systems on these hard disks. BIOS solve this problem by assuming a fixed location on first hard disk which is called Master Boot Record (MBR) of your hard disk. MBR is a 512 byte block which points to operating selected. But for the operating system to boot up it requires some pre built binaries at specified location. Means kernel code will have idea about a file system that you are going to mount as root. It is this root file system that holds various small programs that help kernel initialize hardware and keep pointers.

All is good then why we need a change from BIOS? Of course the primary reason is aging. BIOS is developed in pre-historic times. Earlier it is used only to initialize and bootstrap the operating system. Later OS can reinitialize the interfaces again. But in recent times this phenomenon changed. The dependency on BIOS increased again due to advent of ACPI and hot plug stuff. This called for layered BIOS architecture.

Also BIOS, being a binary code, is specific to processor architecture. Mean different versions of BIOS are needed to boot different architecture families. To overcome this problem a byte coded BIOS is needed.

Then plug in support should be possible for BIOS. Right now additional boot options can be provided using BIOS boot specification API. And BIOS options are stored on CMOS which is a non volatile memory in addition to BIOS EEPROM. This complicated the stuff to customize the boot environment. That called for a modular architecture.

Open source community attempted to build Linux BIOS to overcome limitations of BIOS. But this is more of subject of hardware manufacturers than software. So a strong initiative from Intel kind of companies is envisaged. Thus came out EFI.

So what this can do so special is explained in much of technical terms in UEFI_2_Specification.pdf. I am going through this now. And want to write some simplistic gist out of this soon.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Gentoo 2006.0

I read Tim Yamin’s announcement about 2006.0 Gentoo release on February 27, 2006.
Till that week end I couldn’t download the package. Now there is a special installer cum live cd for x86 architecture. I thought I will not have much fun this time. But actually I got lot more fun compared with last two years.

As I don’t have laptop with cd writer now, I happened to take help of internet cafĂ© to burn the iso image. But unfortunately that CD didn’t work for me. CD got a sector error when it is about to start gdm. So nothing was moving after that white screen. I couldn’t believe it first time and tried couple of more times to conclude that it is problem with CD only.

Then thought of booting the from hard drive or USB hard disk. But my machine got old USB(1.1) stuff and even the USB drive is not bootable.

So I thought of using existing gentoo installation’s boot partition (32MB) to hold kernel and initrd binarirs. Then I thought I can point the root at some other ext3 partition. I don’t remember much but that didn’t work quite well. It was always ending up with loop path error. Only thing I could guess is to keep image file on same partition where kernel and initrd are located. By then my enthusiasm is slightly down. And I decided to try alternate methods to do the same exercise.

First I want to increase boot partition size, I am not aware how to do that online. So I thought I can quickly re install gentoo 2005 with increased boot partition. Something I missed even that didn’t work out. And while doing it during midnight I screwed up my MBR. So I couldn’t even boot to XP. Then I took help of Windows 2003 evaluation CD.
I tried to install Win20003 Server on hard disk where my Linux was there. So I get a clean slate on that front and also that fixes my MBR also. Anyway I don’t have key for Win2003 Server, but I know it does over write MBR the moment you select the partition to install Windows. All this exercise took whole night.

And by morning I thought I would Grub for NT. Created just one ext2 partition and took help of grub for NT. After tweaking hear and there in grub configuration file finally I could boot the cd image from hard disk. Rest of the details I will post with the screen shots of my gentoo 2006.0. I am thinking of using crossover office and work on gentoo 2006.0 for quite some time now. Let me hope gentoo supports me.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Windows XP DNS Cache problem

I never thought that famous Windows XP DNS Cache problem comes in my way. Someone told me about this problem couple of years back, but I just ignored it with the feeling that I would ever have to encounter it personally.

The problem is about DNS cache. When ever you visit a site from a browser or try to ping a hostname from command line, XP looks for “A (Host) Record” of that hostname in its DNS Cache.

DNS Cache can be accessed from command prompt using following command

C:\>ipconfig /displaydns

Here I listed typical entries. One of type CNAME and another of type A (Host) Record
Record Name . . . . . : www.math.harvard.edu
Record Type . . . . . : 5
Time To Live . . . . : 9015
Data Length . . . . . : 4
Section . . . . . . . : Answer
CNAME Record . . . . : math.harvard.edu

Record Name . . . . . : stuff.techwhack.com
Record Type . . . . . : 1
Time To Live . . . . : 4399
Data Length . . . . . : 4
Section . . . . . . . : Answer
A (Host) Record . . . :

XP has its own algorithm to add items into cache. It normally adds records based on “Time To Live” parameter or based on frequency of access. If TTL is very small it doesn’t make any sense to add it to cache even though it is frequently accessed.

The problem I faced is with expired A (Host) Record entry in DNS cache. I have a domain account with Yahoo and hosting account with znetindia. I changed nameserver settings in my yahoo domain account to point to my new name server provided by znet. I left “A (Host) Records”, CNAME Records and MX Records as they were in Yahoo. I have new entries for them at my new nameserver with znet.

When I try to access my page say with the request http://sriharsha.net/ or http://www.sriharsha.net/ sometimes it takes me to my old starter webpage with Yahoo.

I got following of solutions to get around with this problem.

check for entries in DNS cache, if there are expired entries then consider flushing DNS cache by following command

"C:\ipconfig /flushdns"

If there are no entries in DNS cache try adding an entries at the end of

“c:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts” file sriharsha.net mail.sriharsha.net

Try to ping your domain and check IP address. Based on that change your “A (Host) Records” and CNAME records in domain control panel

Also consider adding following two entries to registry key


Block XP from adding unresolved or failed (Negative) entries to cache

DWORD: MaxNegativeCacheTtl

Value: 0

Force XP to keep valid (Positive) entries only for specified time. This will be useful if your ISP/Domain registrar updates DNS entries more frequently than your XP DWORD:


Value: 14400

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What is in IBM's new P6

There is a new hype about IBM's P6. Recently we were discussing about why Industrial Automation controllers are not catching up microprocessor technology updates.

So following is the update that ISA published about IBM's P6

For years, chipmakers have improved computer performance by shrinking the size of transistors, squeezing more of them into smaller spaces, and ratcheting up the speed at which they process instructions. Recently, the benefits have diminished as the chips’ power requirements and temperatures have risen.

To get around the problem, the industry has resorted to building two or more computing engines known as "cores" on a single chip and throttling back the clock speed to prevent a silicon meltdown. As a result, performance does increase, but it does not double, even with two computing cores.

IBM claims its upcoming Power6, which is multicore and designed for higher-end servers running the Unix operating system, was crafted from the ground up to run fast without major losses in power efficiency.

Power6 is expected to run somewhere between four and five gigahertz.

Can someone focus on it and post what is special with IBM's P6

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Industrial Controllers

Why Industrial Automation Controllers are not catching up processor technology advancements? I worked on a project where we attempted to develop a new controller with the aim to maximize the use of Open Source/COTS based components.
Many a times we debated on 96 MHz big endian processor and the operating system, Linux which we chose for this project.

Many players in the market still use a typical board with a 100 MHz processor.
Of course with industry standard compliance list like EMC, ESD, RF, Surge, Power etc. and stringent temperature (-40 to +70 degrees Celsius) and relative humidity requirements. And most importantly the heat dissipation factor which may cause the need of a fan.

What is that operating system which can meet all demands of a real-time controller.
Currently industry uses VXWorks, Nucleus PLUS, VRTX and recently some flavors of Linux like Monta Vista, RT-Linux. Of course there are so many proprietary custom made operating systems.

How do we boot the board? Traditionally it is done using TFTP boot. A TFTP server runs on a work station and is expected to be ON while the controllers are booting up. And applications are built to take the complete image while comprised of kernel, control engine, custom network stacks, process control applications etc.

Some controllers use on board flash to store boot code and kernel and basic services to receive and execute control applications. Recent hardware designs are done considering more on board flash, typically ranging from 4 MB to 64 MB. These boards got more RAM also, typically in the range of 16MB to 128MB.

Apart from this external compact flash interfaces are adding storage options to controller.
Hi speed compact flashes or micro drives can be added as per requirement. However the disadvantage here is number of read/write cycles and kind of hardware interface (parallel/PCMCIA etc.).

And newer boards are coming up with 100 Mega bits per seconds Ethernet controllers.
Of course it is needed because all most all IO networks of today got Ethernet variants.

With the addition/enhancements of these peripherals the CPU performance demands are increasing dramatically. More storage options and high speed Ethernet access added new challenges like bulk data management and faster memory access. More and more functional requirements are now met on controllers itself using embedded web servers, embedded databases and time synchronization modules.

But are these CPU’s, with their resources being managed by RTOS, capable enough to meet the real time demands without effecting basic operations like IO scanning, control execution and hardware monitoring tasks?

Recently the demand for thin but service rich operating systems is growing. Security is one more aspect that adds heavy computing routines to basic operating tasks list. Firewalls are part of controller design now. Embedded databases and NFS partitions are commonly used by many controllers for non critical storage purposes.

Advanced power management, online upgrade and Ethernet based mirroring demands more computing resources out of modern controllers.

I would like to do some detailed study on this. Are there any good links for this.