Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Beethoven: Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 Op. 69 - iii. Adagio Cantabile
Piano: Artur Schnabel; Cello: Pierre Fournier.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Installing OpenSuSe 11.1 on Lenovo T400 with ATI Display Driver

Guess my Chinese readers who are interested in TECH-ONLY posts will bother to read English anyway (i.e. those not interested won't read even if this were in Chinese). So I think posting it in English won't harm, and may help more people who happen to have the problem and find this out with search engines.

Of course I did some google work before ever installing anything. The most helpful information are from an OpenSuSe wiki entry on ATI Drivers, a Thinkwiki entry on Fedora 10 on T400, and this OpenSuSe forum thread. Some of what are said there are a bit misleading. But since I don't know what exactly was happening, I'll just describe what I did to make my ATI driver work. There might be some redundant steps.

First, my T400 specs:
CPU: Core Duo 2 T9400 2.53GHz;
Memory: 4GB DDR3;
Hard Disk: Hitachi 160G 7200rpm SATA;
Display: 14.1 in 1440 x 900 wide screen;
Graphic Cards: ATI HD3470 / Intel GM45 dual graphics unit;
OS: Windows Vista Business 64 / OpenSuSe 11.1 x86_64.

Second, why use the not-open-source proprietary ATI driver? Because 3D acceleration does not seem to work with only open source driver for the HD3470 card, and performance is not satisfactory with GM45 (even compiz-fusion is slow).

Finally, what I did:

1. Do not change anything in BIOS, and install OpenSuSe from CD. I used KDE 4.1 as desktop. Set up the Internet. At this time only the GM45 is detected. Install libstdc++33 and kernel-source.

2. Download the ATI driver to the desktop. Open Konsole and run:

sudo sh ./

Choose to make package rather than install the driver, and choose ~/Desktop as the destination directory, choose OpenSuSe 11.1 x86_64 as the specific distro. Hereby you will have an rpm on your desktop.

3. Reboot, press F1 to enter BIOS setup, choose config -> display, change "switchable graphics" to "discrete graphics", and change "OS detection..." to "disabled". Save and exit. Thereby X will fail to start. Login and type the follows in command line, and if necessary, use sudo to work as root:
/usr/sbin/sax2 -a
cd Desktop
rpm -Uvh fgl*.rpm
aticonfig --initial --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf
cd /usr/lib/dri/
cp /usr/lib64/dri/ .

4. After rebooting, you should be able to enter X and run 3D acceleration under the ATI driver. To verify this, run
and you should see "OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc." among the outputs.

If anything goes wrong and you fail to enter X, just run
sudo /usr/sbin/sax2 -a
to recover xorg.conf. You can also try
sudo /usr/sbin/sax2 -r -m 0=fglrx
to force sax2 to set fglrx as the default display.

BTW, why do I install OpenSuSe 11.1? Because: 1) I simply hate Ubuntu, 2) Fedora 10 was down just after I booted from the installation CD, 3) Debian uses Kernel 2.6.26 which won't recognize my Intel 5100 wireless card (which is my ONLY access to Internet), and 4) I don't have too much time to play with (or I'd rather say, to be played with by) Gentoo. OpenSuSe 11.1 happens to recognize my  wireless card, and happen to be simple enough, until I found that installing the display driver is troublesome. One problem is that you must keep switchable display disabled in BIOS to keep linux detect your ATI graphics. This will disable the switch display function in Windows. You may have to change BIOS settings before using Windows. After all, this is really a not-too-good user experience, from the Lenovo, ATI and Linux sides.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Name of Asparagus

经济危机中化学系期末办的自助招待,肉只有最便宜的鸡肉,比鸡肉贵得多的水果蔬菜倒是有一大堆。水果有各种应时的和逆天的,甚至看到了以为会永别了的石榴桑椹猕猴桃。面对那盘看起来应当生吃的蔬菜却只有瞠目结舌:不但有切片的黄瓜,还有洋葱,一剖两半的胡萝卜,整根四季豆,以及某样——在国内的时候基本是一种轻飘飘的只属于课本的东西,学过Asp和Asn,知道他们的名字和大概与常被归为百合科的天门冬属植物相关。在这边的超市里终于看到了这件标着asparagus的东东,后来不记得是贤惠的Kane同学还是getoffers同学告诉我,这个东西叫做芦笋……我取了一坨包有芦笋的长得很像春卷的东西,同座的韩国postdoc似乎想argu这个是大韩民族的发明,于是我问,it's so strange,why do they have asparagus in this roll? 他大概没听清我的问题,拿出一罐可乐,告诉我,旁边的吧台凭入场时发的酒票可以领到一瓶啤酒。据说,以前化学系的招待,酒都是随便喝的,不过现在经济危机,嗯……


The history of the word asparagus is a good illustration of one of the peculiarities of English etymology one found in few other languages. After the rebirth of classical learning during the Renaissance, Greek and Latin achieved a lofty status among the educated. As a result, etymologists and spelling reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries tried to give English a classical look by Latinizing or Hellenizing the spelling of words that had Latin or Greek ancestry (and even some that didn't). For example, Medieval Latin had a word sparagus, from Classical Latin asparagus, that was borrowed into Middle English and rendered as sparage or, more commonly, sperage. Botanists were familiar with the proper Latin version asparagus, and their use of that term together with the efforts of the etymologists caused the Latin form to become more widespread, eventually supplanting sperage. Thus, it is difficult to say whether the Modern English word asparagus is a direct continuation of Middle English sperage or a borrowing directly from Latin, a difficulty one encounters with hundreds of other words whose spellings and even pronunciations were Latinized during this time.·The Latin form asparagus lives on in another guise as well; in the 1600s it was shortened in popular speech to ’sparagus, which became sparagrass, sparrowgrass by folk etymology.




顺便提一个问题,google是怎么正确解读gallus gallus这种关键词的?有趣的是,搜索这个可以得到chicken,然而搜索chicken chicken,居然会给出一部分pizza pizza的结果,甚是费解。

Tuesday, December 09, 2008






下午在某办公室里,突然某教授兴高采烈地冲了进来。问我, do you know the indictment of our goveneror? 我答, yes, this morning, and he is trying to sell the senate seat left over by Obama, right? 他说, well, he wants to be the head of Dept. of Energy, but, you know, this is usually for someone from the energy states like Texas....

于是他开始介绍案中若干州长想要通过卖官给自己安排的各种职位,总结说,he will earn $250k a year if he got this job.... 他对此感到很不值,说,he could be a professor if he wanted that money! You know, if a professor does some consulting, he can earn $250k honest money. 然后面露得意之色。意犹未尽地补充道,and a senator earns only $40k a year, almost nothing, just what a POSTDOC gets. Basically this is because the people don't want to give senators money....

听到这里旁边的postdoc大哥愤愤然地打断,a postdoc does much more good than a senator!




Monday, December 08, 2008