Armenia Java Training

December 18th, 2005

Ok, so I was in Armenia. This is a bit incorrect - in fact I have spent just a week and only in Yerevan (the capital) and most of the time that I was there I was either sitting in a hotel room preparing PowerPoint slides, or showing these slides at the Yerevan State University where the aforementioned training took place.

On the other hand I was also in Georgia. It turned out just before I left Okecie Airport in Warsaw that the fog in Yerevan is so thick that the airport has to be closed - so I was transported by Austrian Airlines to Tbilisi (which is Georgia capital). It is true that the fog was thick, but not that thick. It seems to me however that the Yerevan airport just simply does not have CAT III equipment and I was also told later that a bit more, hmmm, brave airlines (like Air Sibir !!!) operated normally.

Tbilisi airport looks a bit more like Soviet military base than a normal airport, so for the uninitiated landing there might be a bit scary experience (ok, I must admit that I have seen more exotic airports), but the ground staff turns out to be quite friendly. After getting through passport control (which has not been that smooth for some people - “but I am not going to Georgia, but to Armenia and I do not need a visa - I know, but… - but I am not going to… - I know but etc…”) the rest was quite OK, or rather as good as packing inside two 15 old busses at 5 in the morning could be. The AA lunch package has been distributed (cold hamburgers, and it was Friday, ehhh…) and off we went (at something like 6 am).

The trip through Caucasus mountains is a very interesting affair - mostly due to contrast between the nature that you see (the mountains) and a rubbish (old buildings with broken windows, rotten constructions, half-destroyed Soviet style blocks - standing right in a middle of a beautiful mountain valleys etc.) that surrounds it. It gets better in Armenia, but only a bit better.

Armenia-Georgia border is a beautiful mess. I suspect that with luck I could even cross it without bothering to show anyone my passport and visa; on the other hand one get a feeling of a “military state” there - too many, poor looking, soviet style (again) soldiers, hungry dogs sniffing at travelers, and strange things happening during customs (which ended abruptly just in a middle of long quarrel between customs official and passengers - just as if someone given someone something, if you know what I mean).

Yerevan - I have not seen much of it, I did not have time. It is quite familiar in places to me - a lot of architecture is exactly the same style that was (and no longer is) present in some parts of Warsaw - especially in Praga. The problem is that these buildings in Poland were generally either refurbished or demolished, and here these are - hmm, let’s say not well maintained. Overall feeling is that the city is very gray - people wear gray and black (but it might be a fashion thing - leather is very popular), cars are mostly black and white etc. You get the similar feeling as in Moscov as far as people wealth is concerned - a lot of old or cheap Russian cars (old zigulis, wolgas etc.), some new cheap Russian cars (quite a lot of Lada Niva), and some extremely luxurious vehicles like top BMW or Mercedes models. Wolga 3110 is also quite popular, but is seems to be an official government car.

Above does not mean that the shops etc. are empty. Quite the contrary - there are small supermarket stores and these were packed on Saturday when I took a stroll through town, kiosks with newspapers seem to be well stocked (with local and Russian press but some international too) etc. Overall I had a feeling in places that I am in Poland A.D. 1989… The main difference is of course language - Armenian is quite different to anything that you heard probably, and the script resembles a bit kopthic (the same that I have seen in Eritrea - I have to verify it though). Russian is widely spoken, in fact I had to use my poor Russian abilities to communicate even with training organizers (who - after the first day - just gave me the keys to the training center room and vanished; only to appear at the hotel at the last day to collect the keys back and say goodbye. Which means that I could just take all the equipment, including computers, projector etc. and walk away… awesome trust - or is it stupidity?).

OK - enough writing. Have a look at photos at - http://www.gawrysiak.org/zdjecia/Armenia2005/index.html

Suse Linux OSS 10.0 on Dell Latitude D600

November 18th, 2005

First of all a few words of warning (in case you are browsing this looking for some shopping advice). Dell Latitude D600 is a typical business notebook - not very fast and not very pretty but equipped with some goodies (such as LPT and RS232 ports) that are rarely found on contemporary notebooks. This said I must add that the quality of Dell notebooks goes steadily down, and this machine is a good example. Previous Latitudes were quite nice and the build quality was ok. This one is terrible, especially when compared with IBM (well, Lenovo now) products. Various parts (especially rubber spacers) tear off, case is squeaky, the palmrest can get quite hot (HDD is installed just directly beneath the place where you usually put your left palm) etc. Performance is also not very impressive. In short - if you are purchasing a notebook for yourself, stay away from is model.

I received this notebook as my work machine - but trying not to offend anyone, instead of complaining (I was using T Thinkpad previously - it is like heaven and hell, really), I just decided to set up my environment on it. It has seen Fedora 4, Kubuntu Hoary and Breezy and various versions of Suse (including SLICK) - most of these work well, Fedora probably being the worst as far as hardware detection is concerned. Currently I have OpenSuse 10.0 (OK, Suse Linux OSS 10.0) installed.

Specifications and out of the box hardware detection

  • CPU - Centrino Pentium M 1500, speedstep works
  • RAM - 256 MB, DDR - a bit too little for some tasks
  • LCD - TFT, 15″, 1400×1050 resolution, quite fragile inner plastics and lid casing
  • Audio - standard Intel 82801, AC97 - works well with ALSA
  • Modem - Conexant Winmodem, I have to test it yest, but Suse provides apropriate drivers in their non-OSS YaST repositories

Power management, hibernation, suspend etc.
Additional software
Kompose
Katapult
Lipstik style

Mandatory desktop screenshot :-)
Screenshot

… to be completed