Sunday, August 24, 2008

Diebold and the voting (NON) fiasco

I don't exactly know why people need to be told this, but all the comments blaming Diebold for the election problems miss very important points.

  1. The problem of dropped votes is because the memory cards got switched too fast.

    Imagine using a funnel to fill a canister, and you switched your source material before it was finished. The data transfer rates of memory cards are only so fast, and people are in such a hurry that they don't wait for the data to transfer fully.
    Or, if you're wanting a real-world application: You didn't transfer all of your pictures from your memory card before swapping to another.
  2. "Antivirus on a voting machine? Are you serious?"

    No, silly. Antivirus isn't necessarily on the voting machine. It's on the server that handles (receives and tabulates) the data. Misconfigured or not optimally configured, it could delay or delete data coming from memory cards as it scans the data transfer in real time. This *IS* the function of antivirus software and it does have the potential to cause issues with data transfer *at the server.*
  3. Diebold is in cohoots with the Republicans

    Of course they are. And the democrats who are in charge of the House and Senate have done nothing to stop Diebold from continuing to place touchscreen machines.
  4. ATMs don't have these problems.

    And Diebold is involved with ATMs. ATMs are not necessarily used for gathering data from several thousand people in one day by volunteers. It doesn't mean that ATMs don't gather data and transfer it, but I bet it's likely that the ATMs handle transactions with the servers in real time, rather than hand inputed memory card swapping at the end of a long day.

Disclaimer: I shouldn't need one. I am a computer guy. I have no real or imagined association with any of the parties involved, except that I vote touchscreen and I use ATMs with Diebold logos. If you don't want to vote touchscreen, get an absentee ballet. If you disagree with my observations, that's fine. I'm not telling you to believe me. This *is* my blog.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

xorg.conf multiple users compiz issue

OK, here's the deal. I figured out how to turn off the TV "Unknown" and it worked.
I tested it in an alternate user logon.
Thing was, I couldn't get compiz to work -- but compiz works on just on ONE login. Mostly, it was "Can't do that" or "checking for XGL not present" on the other login. Making multiple changes back and forth... nothing.

Well, the answer is stupid and *for me* has absolutely nothing to do with drivers, even though I have an "unsupported" Intel card. The answer was staring me in the face from a little other error message: "No GLXFBConfig for default depth". Why this login and not the other?

The answer: alternate switch-user logons have new display numbers (see /var/log/Xorg.#.log) and by default, you don't have an Xorg.20.conf. Sure, sure, xorg.conf is supposed to handle it for you, right? nah. I have to put this to the test, but in the mean time, additional Section "Screen"s are the likely fix in xorg.conf.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fixing the small screen on my laptop

My beloved Gateway MT6730 had one fatal flaw when converting to Ubuntu: The screen resolution.
It appears that the xrandr logic insisted I had a TV connected to my laptop and therefore would overlap two screens: one at 1024x768 which everything resized to, and one at my laptop's preferred resolution: 1280x800. It looks like this image. I'm certain if you're here, you know EXACTLY what this is.

From a command line, I found out I could do this: xrandr --output TV --off which kind of worked, except didn't survive reboots.

Here's the answer:
Edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add these lines:

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "TV"
Option "Ignore" "true"

Exit and do a ctrl-alt-backspace to reload X, and you, like me, don't have to worry about this any more.

Also, the "Unknown" display disappeared from the gnome-display-properties, as well as it fixed the same issue with the logon screen.

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