Arrival in Pittsburgh

I stumbled out of bed at 4am this morning, and bleared my way onto a two-hop flight from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, to start getting ready for this year’s Supercomputing Conference.

So far, my seven-hour experience of Pittsburgh has been mixed. On the one hand, the weather was beautiful today, and the Best Festerin’ that I’m staying in has free high-speed net connections in every room. On the other, said hotel is 4 miles from the conference centre, in a grotty little exurb with nothing nearby, and the conference centre is in a sort of urban desert, so my options for eating actual food (as opposed to Snickers and M&Ms, which can be found in abundance) are limited.

Robert accompanied me as I tried to acquire dinner at a place called the Original Fish Market, where it took an hour for my meal to arrive. At which point I had to send it back because the allegedly seared tuna was stone cold both outside and in. The final annoyance was the $45 price tag for dinner.

I then spent about an hour in the PathScale booth, wrestling with Xorg modeline configuration, in an attempt to get a Fedora Core 2 box to drive a NEC LCD4000 TV at its native 1280×768 resolution. Try as I might, I could not get the TV to believe that it really could spread those pixels across the right side of the screen, so I was left with an image concertinaed into the left half.

I’m not happy with NEC not-quite-monitors so far. I managed to configure a NEC 42-inch plasma display to work properly with FC2 at a resolution of 848×480 a few weeks ago. My cries of anguish over the tiny number of pixels were listened to (“I’ll have to redo most of the UI! Have mercy!”), and we switched to these LCD jobbies for the booth. Although notionally better (with more than twice as many pixels as the plasma TV), the LCD TV is proving a beast to configure. Get the horizontal timings a little out of spec, and it decides I’m trying to signal a completely different resolution. And, of course, the specs are incomplete, so I’m working mostly blind. It is to weep.

Nevertheless, our software looks impressive on an almost-adequate display, and I should get the native resolution working tomorrow, albeit not before paying a few hours of config-tweaking tax.

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