29 October 2008

... and then there were none

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
-- Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

We had a truck strike the power pole for the building hit last week; it took out the transformer with a most satisfying 'pop'. It also had the secondary effect of a power surge, which caused a 'fried' monitor, so that I had occasion to need a new one to get us back up to full complement.

New monitors offer an occasion to play 'monkey move up,' it is my turn for the upgrade, and the $200 price point has a nice Westinghouse L2210NW panel display [1680 x 1050 pixels, 22" diagonal] at the moment. I have had a Westinghouse LTV 19W3 [1440 x 1050, 19"] which I have enjoyed using since January 2006, and it seemed to make sense to stay in the brand. (I bought the 3 year service plan on that one for an extra 25% on the price, as I was unsure as to durability of this, by first panel, but that has never been needed)

One trial and tribulation (and geeky challenge) of a new resolution is the need to adjust the video card driver to support the new Modeline, and to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the monitor. I am an old hand with the Intel Modeline tool, 810resolution, and its successor, 915resolution, for my present X desktop chassis' video card.

Over time, 'progress' has removed the tools for a 'nix admin to configure a display for the X window manager:
  • Xconfigurator
  • xf86setup
  • a working X -configure
  • kudzu
  • system-configure-display
  • manual configuration of /etc/X11/xorg.conf

I find that the new panel has consumed 6 hours of setup time at this point, and is still not working, edge to edge at full resolution. Unpleasantly I was surprised to find kudzu erroring and dying; ddcprobe --raw returns nothing; X -configure and system-config-display seem to know only how to turn the screen blank and lock up the keyboard so that a power cycle is needed to regain the unit (I'll write more on this later); and manual edits of xorg.conf have so far succeeded in getting only an off center, mis-sized image up.

This is not at the magnitude of the atrocities of which Niemöller wrote so well; I see the battle raging about making a gratuitous change to VT's over on the Fedora-devel mailing list with false statistics abounding, and the usual 'don't bother us with the facts, kid; our mind is made up' on knowing what you need and want.

Dax Kelson wrote well with diagnosis and action plan, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears; 'pearls before swine', and 'the tragedy of the commons' again. We must fight the good fight anyway for
"The punishment of wise men who refuse to take part in the affairs of government is to live under the government of unwise men"

-- Plato

Summary, for those still listening: I want fallback (and degraded but partial performance) modes when a tool is not working as determined by the person looking at it; I want diversity rather than monoculture in tools; I want a upstream community which does not 'break expectation' by 'feeping creaturism' (or 'creeping featurism').

I'll take a stroll to Stauf's (the coffee shop down the street) to lower my blood pressure.