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07 January 2008 @ 11:52 am
Training Day  
Buffalo, NY - 10:37am

The windows partition on my laptop has crapped out. Corrupted registry. I don't have the media on-hand to fix it right now, so I've booted into Linux. Unfortunately, I don't have the drivers set up to run the Sprint data card, so I'm depending on Ernest's cellular network card wireless router, which I can't really pick up from a car away. At the moment I'm assuming that I'm offline until Boston.

We arrived in Chicago at about 1630 Sunday. Ernest and I both had issues sleeping in the 'roomette' the previous night, so our first order of business was going to the Amtrak ticket desk and upgrading to the deluxe sleeper.

Afterwards we checked our luggage in the First Class Lounge in Union Station and headed out on the town.

We went looking for a Walgreens so E could fill a perscription and I could find some NyQuil. Lucky for us there was one just a block away. Unlucky for us it was closed on Sunday.

We asked around and discovered that there was a 24 hour Walgreens in Greektown about 6 blocks away, but as we were standing on the corner looking up at the Sears Tower, we decided to hop up to the top and have a look around.



Afterwards we hailed a cab, dropped off E's script, and headed over to Gino's East - supposedly the Gold Standard for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.

I'm not a food critic, so my description probably wouldn't do it justice... suffice to say that it was well worth the trip. I was particularly fond of the 'Meat Mountain Mouth Monsterous Meham Mouth Explosion'* pizza, which I washed down with an ice cold Shiner Bock.

That being said, and I'd probably be shot for saying this back in Chicago, I think I prefer the deep dish from Chicago St. pizza across the street from work in McKinney, TX. I'm planning on calling the owner later today to let him know that I prefer his pizza over the admittedly very good and deservedly world-famous Gino's East. I reckon he'll get a kick out of hearing it.

After picking up some goods at the drug store we taxi'd back to the train station and boarded.

I spoke to Jess for a while and uploaded some photos before sinking into a NyQuil induced haze and sleeping very soundly for the next 9 hours. For those of you thinking about taking a long train ride... I highly recommend the upgrade from the standard to deluxe sleeper. The air in the room was nice and cold and I was rocked to sleep like a baby.

Next stop of consequence: Albany, NY. I think I'll nap until then.


*It's not actually called that, but it should be.

P.S.: As I was writing this the leftover pizza box fell from its nest above the sink and hit me in the ass. I don't know if it's a sign from the pizza gods or the train gods, but I took the hint and am eating it now. After looking around carefully to make sure nothing dangerous could fall on my skull, I'm going to have to stand behind what I said earlier... Gino's East makes me hungry for my little Chicago pizzaria in Texas.
 
 
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
ehowton: Skoalehowton on January 7th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
Adventurous exploits abound! Sounds like you're enjoying your trip. What's the name of your train?
galinda822 on January 7th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
Train in Vain
ehowton: Drax0r BHGehowton on January 7th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
The Rockabilly Rocket
Me: Smile & Scotchphotogoot on January 8th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)
The Drax0rian Chieftain
ehowton: U-Haulehowton on January 8th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
The Meandering Meteor
Me: Smile & Scotchphotogoot on January 8th, 2008 05:01 am (UTC)
The Sanguine Scrotum. Too much right?

ahh hell, I should be in bed any way.
ehowton: Jesusehowton on January 8th, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)
The Flaccid Tracker
Me: Smile & Scotchphotogoot on January 8th, 2008 05:27 am (UTC)
Back to basics,

The Monster Express
galinda822 on January 7th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear that the ride is much better since upgrading to the deluxe sleeper. Have a great trip!
ehowton: Swordehowton on January 7th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Like he needs to be associated with anything with the word, "sleeper" in it.
ehowton: Swordehowton on January 7th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)

The sleeper has awakened!
galinda822 on January 8th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
When the shoe fits.....
ehowton: Swordehowton on January 8th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
...sleep!
Pay Attention, You Might Miss Somethingjesskd26 on January 8th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
When you get home, we will make a trip to Chicago Street. I could go for some of their pizza, too.

I love and miss you! Come back to Texas!
ehowton: Neelix - Mmm...ehowton on January 8th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC)
Can I come too?
catttitudecatttitude on January 8th, 2008 04:44 am (UTC)
Man Jess, I feel for you. I have been in your shoes so many times. It hurts me....
Can't wait to see ya.
Pay Attention, You Might Miss Somethingjesskd26 on January 8th, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)
Whenever Drax0r left the whole family shed tears. I mentioned that I wondered what it must have been like for you since E was gone for MONTHS when it was killing me and him only being gone for a week. Your are more of a woman than I am....I don't know how you stayed sane!
ehowtonehowton on January 8th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
Its always harder on the one who's doing the leaving. That 14-months I commuted to Wichita I was home every single weekend. But it was just as hard leaving the 25th time as it was leaving the 1st.
catttitudecatttitude on January 8th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
I was really sad for about 3 days then I was better able to cope with it. The worst one was when he worked at Air Bus. He was supposed to come back the first week of January and they wouldn't replace him in time. He didn't come back until mid February. It was such a let down to everyone. I wasn't the only one waiting for him to come back.
Me: Smile & Scotchphotogoot on January 8th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
Reading of your trip by rail has rekindled the always smoldering desire I have for a cross country rail trip. Great picks from the top of the Sears Tower!

P.S. I can smell your train funk through my cable modem!
Me: Smile & Scotchphotogoot on January 8th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
Inside view of the sleeper
Just a link for the gang to see how the old man is living in style.

And yes your eyes do not deceive you, thats an in room flush toilet (please don't flush in the station).

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=am2Copy&pagename=Amtrak%2Fam2Copy%2FAccommodations_Page&cid=1080080554021

Edited at 2008-01-08 02:29 am (UTC)
Pay Attention, You Might Miss Somethingjesskd26 on January 8th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
Re: Inside view of the sleeper
That bed is awesome. Tony and I were on the phone and he mentioned he was waiting for the steward to "come and turn down his bed". I called him a lazy fucker. "You can pull back the sheets yourself! Don't make that man do it!"

He then explained it was a "transformers" bed. I thought he just wanted to take advantage of the first class train butler!
ehowton: Transformersehowton on January 8th, 2008 05:15 am (UTC)
Re: Inside view of the sleeper
Sleeping quarters in disguise!
catttitudecatttitude on January 8th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Inside view of the sleeper
That is so funny.
Me: Smile & Scotchphotogoot on January 8th, 2008 05:15 am (UTC)
Re: Inside view of the sleeper
I am sooo envious. He is one lucky hombre. I think what he is doing is second only to a transatlantic crossing on the QE2. Cross continent rail travel is the best. I think any claims of suffering on his part is only a rues to make you feel better, he must be having a blast! ;-)
catttitudecatttitude on January 8th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Inside view of the sleeper
Photogoot, don't tell her that!
Me: Smile & Scotchphotogoot on January 8th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Inside view of the sleeper
Perhaps you are correct, that may have been a breach of the man code.
ehowton: vaioehowton on January 9th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
Novatel U720 linux hack

Using the usbserial vs airprime drivers

Many instructions on the Internet that detail how to use these modems in Linux talk about using the usbserial driver, often having to pass custom vendor and device IDs to the driver so that it recognizes the device. While this does work, the usbserial driver was not made to handle high-speed devices like EVDO and HSPDA modems. It has some small I/O buffers, and with these small buffers you will not be able to get transfer speeds greater than 60 KB/sec. There are patches available to increase usbserial’s buffer size, but with the airprime driver, this is not needed.

The Linux airprime driver can operate these modems at full-speed, after support for larger buffers was added in 2.6.18. Unfortunately, the driver has to be patched to recognize any kind of new device.

This doesn’t help me using since I am Linux 2.6.17 on Ubuntu 6.10, and I’ve also no desire to deviate far from the distribution-provided kernel. 2.6.17’s airprime driver does not have the support for large buffers, nor does it contain the driver IDs so that the driver takes control of the device.

I took Andy Gay’s airprime improvement patches and backported them (“backport” is a misnomer since it was so easy), also adding the device IDs from 2.6.20 and a few other popular wireless modem devices (Note: I’ve not personally tested anything but the Novatel Merlin S720).

You can get the patch against Ubuntu’s 2.6.17 kernel, or simply download the entire patched airprime.c file. The patch contains device IDs for:

* AirPrime 5220
* Sierra Wireless Aircard 580
* Sierra Wireless EM5625
* Sierra Wireless MC5720
* Novatel Wireless S620
* Novatel Wireless S720
* Novatel Wireless U720
* Novatel Merlin XU870
* ExpressCard34 Qualcomm 3G CDMA
* Dell Wireless 5500
* Kyocera Wireless KPC650/Passport
* Audiovox PC5740
* Pantech PX-500

Kernel and driver setup

Install the minimum build environment, Linux sources, and Linux headers for your currently-running kernel:
apt-get install build-essential linux-headers linux-source

Go into /usr/src/ and uncompress the kernel source code:
cd /usr/src
tar xjvf linux-source-2.6.17.tar.bz2

Enter the directory containing the airprime driver:
cd linux-source-2.6.17/drivers/usb/serial

Now, either apply the patch, or replace airprime.c with the pre-patched version (see above for download links).

If patching:
patch -p0 < airprime-sjain-012807.patch

If replacing (not recommended, patching is safer):
mv airprime.c airprime.c.bak
mv airprime-sjain-012807.c airprime.c

Normally, to patch a driver, you have to recompile the entire kernel tree and replace all the kernel modules as well as the core kernel image itself. But since we are using Ubuntu’s sources, we can only compile the driver’s that we need and overwrite the old ones.

To compile only the airprime dirver (this actually compiles all drivers in the directory):
make -C /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build M=`pwd`

Then, install it (you need root privileges to overwrite the existing driver) and update module dependencies:
sudo cp airprime.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/usb/serial/airprime.ko
sudo depmod -a

You can either remove and reinsert the driver, or take the easy way out and reboot. Your device should now be recognized by the airprime driver, and a new device node /dev/ttyUSB0 created.
ehowton: vaioehowton on January 9th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
Setting up ppp

There are some great GUI tools for setting up PPP on Linux, but I don’t care to use them. I like editing text files and working on the CLI.

To get things working, we only need to create several different files (as superuser). The first, /etc/ppp/peers/sprint:
/dev/ttyUSB0 # modem
921600 # faster than this has no effect, and actually can be detrimental
defaultroute # use cellular network for default route
usepeerdns # use the DNS servers from the remote network
#nodetach # keep pppd in the foreground
#debug
crtscts # hardware flow control
lock # lock the serial port
noauth # don't expect the modem to authenticate itself
local # don't use Carrier Detect or Data Terminal Ready
persist # Redial if connection lost
user
ppp
holdoff 5 # Reconnect after 5s on connection loss

lcp-echo-failure 4 # prevent timeouts
lcp-echo-interval 65535 # prevent timeouts

connect "/usr/sbin/chat -v -f /etc/chatscripts/sprint-connect"
disconnect "/usr/sbin/chat -v -f /etc/chatscripts/sprint-disconnect"

Notice that you do not need your Sprint PCS username or password. The modem authenticates itself to Sprint in hardware via its ESN. Next is /etc/chatscripts/sprint-connect:
TIMEOUT 10
ABORT 'BUSY'
ABORT 'NO ANSWER'
ABORT 'ERROR'
SAY 'Starting Sprint...\n'

# Get the modem's attention and reset it.
"" 'ATZ'
# E0=No echo, V1=English result codes
OK 'ATE0V1'

# List signal quality
'OK' 'AT+CSQ'

'OK' 'ATDT#777'
CONNECT
and your connection will work And then the optional /etc/chatscripts/sprint-disconnect:
"" "\K"
"" "+++ATH0"
SAY "Disconnected from Sprint."

You can also setup this connecton in /etc/network/interfaces, adding the stanza (assuming you want to use ppp0):
iface ppp0 inet ppp
provider sprint

And that’s basically it! If you setup your interfaces file, you can simply run:
sudo ifup ppp0

to bring up the connection. Remember to ifdown the interface to disconnect. If not using interfaces, you can use the pon/poff pair of commands:
sudo pon sprint # Start connection
sudo poff sprint # Stop connection
Problem: default route does not get set

For some reason, my default route is not set properly. If not set properly, you look as if you’ve been connected to Sprint, but you will not actually be able to connect to any site on the Internet. To check if this is happening to you, look at the last line of “route -n” and see if it reads the nonsense:
0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 UG 0 0 0 ppp0

To fix this, I created script into /etc/ppp/ip-up.d/zzz-fix-route:
#!/bin/sh
/sbin/route del default gw 0.0.0.0 # Remove nonsense route
/sbin/route add default gw $PPP_REMOTE # Add correct route

Remember to make the file executable. The “zzz-” prefix insures that it is the last script run, just to prevent a script after it from misconfiguring the route again,
Renegadeleonardii on January 25th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Pizza
Pizzeria Uno Chicago Bar & Grill in Addison also makes a very delicious pie.

When I used to work in Addison, at the Bank of America Plaza on Arapaho and The Tollway, we would often visit Pizzeria Uno.

I agree with you... somewhat. Not all of the best types of pizza can be found here in our Big D - but there are plenty of places who make you feel like you were actually in Chicago - or New York.

Campisi's makes some great New York style pizza.

Glad you enjoyed the trip. The Sears Tower looks amazing.
ehowtonehowton on February 15th, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
Wanted to invite you to http://anna-texas.livejournal.com - a new community for us to discuss all things ANNA as we continue to grow!

Thanks,

ehowton
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )