I spent a solid four days trying to upgrade the kiosks from Red Hat 9 + LTSP 4.3 (vintage 2003) to... something newer. In this case, Ubuntu 7.10 + LTSP 5, since it seems like that's what the cool kids are running these days. Why would I do such a thing? Well, one reason is that the Firefox 3 beta would neither install nor compile on RH9 (missing libraries), and another was that the kiosks are a little crashy (they reboot themselves pretty regularly for no adequately explored reason), and also, it's "just kinda old", which some people will tell you might mean, maybe, kinda, less secure. So I figured I'd give it a shot.
Well, since this is not my first rodeo, when I say "upgrade" what I really mean is "do a fresh install on a spare drive."
So, after four days of this nonsense, I gave up, and just put the old drive back in. "Nonsense" in this case is defined as: the upgrade made the machines be even crashier than before (they can barely stay up for an hour) and it's a far worse kind of crashy: it's the kind of crashy where you have to press the shiny red button to make them come back to life, instead of them being able to do that themselves.
So, fuck it. They'll be running a 2003 version of Linux forever, because I frankly have better things to do with my time (what, do you think this television is going to watch itself?)
To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Let that be a lesson to you, son: never upgrade."
See, I wanted to use my beloved Shure i2c headphones as a headset with my computer. Here in this modern world, you'd think that shit would be standardized by now, but no. It turns out that the Shure model I have, with the microphone and 2.5mm plug, is not a "cell phone" model, but actually a "Treo" model.
So, when I went and bought a USB dingus and an adapter cable to go with it, I found that the adapter cable was wired wrong (only one channel and no mic.) Apparently the Treo wiring plan is... creative? (This also explains why the retro handset doesn't work right with the Treo: it's wired in the same "wrong" way as the above cable.)
So, I made my own cable. Which was approximately 500% harder than it should have been because, bizarrely, it turns out that 4-conductor 2.5mm jacks are near-unobtanium -- and 4-conductor 2.5mm jacks in cable rather than board-mount form factor are complete unobtainium. (Radio Schlock has 3.5mm 3-conductor male cable plugs, so at least the other side is easy to get.)
So, to do this, you need to buy one of the rare board-mount sockets (Digikey CP1-42515RS-ND) and swaddle it in electrical tape.
(G=ground, L=left, R=right, M=microphone)
- I again slogged my way through this year's 764 track SXSW torrent, and it was (again) quite a chore. But, while only about 50% of it qualified as "tolerable", around 9% of it ranged from "worth another listen" to "hey, this is kinda good", so I guess it was worth the time invested.
The new instrumental NIN opus is actually pretty fantastic. Certainly the best $5 I've spent in some time.