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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

As I mentioned downwhen Stargate, our gateway/router, had become basically unusable by Sunday morning. It's rather mysterious -- the CPU seems to be working fine, and it passed rootkit, memory and filesystem checks just fine. But there you have it: it would slow down rapidly after each reboot.

The next problem was finding a replacement. I tried the machine that had been our router. It wouldn't boot. Even after I noticed that the power connector on the disk had been disconnected, and fixed that. I tried several different ways of replacing it with the fileserver, and succeeded only in disabling its networking altogether with an ill-advised firewall install.

At that point I had two choices: add an extra ethernet card to one of the laptops, or reconfigure our wireless access point as a router instead of a bridge. Fortunately I did the latter. Which was something I'd been toying with for quite a while anyway. Did I mention that I'm somewhat obsessed with saving power?

At this point I have to mention that it wasn't quite that simple. I had to do quite a lot of reconfiguring, and got some of it wrong. For example, forgetting to test incoming ssh. I never did get that to work; it's something of a security hole, so it's not surprising that the router's ssh daemon doesn't listen to the WAN port. When I got back I did what I should have done in the first place, and forwarded the fileserver's ssh port to an alternate on the router.

Also forwarded the fileserver's web server; I still need to set up the appropriate virtual hosting. The other thing that needed attention was that the router was hosting my external git repositories. I moved them to my external host, at savitzky.net. No problem.

DHCP and DNS were a bit of a problem -- the DD-WRT distribution on the router doesn't seem to support multi-homed interfaces or my usual config files. I'll deal. I'll probably have to abandon my hare-brained idea of keeping WiFi and wired interfaces on separate subnets, but that wasn't working too well anyway. And I lose an instance of apcupsd, unless I can get that going on the router.

But the net gain is huge -- I've eliminated a box and about 12W of power-sucking from my rack, improved my security, and gotten a major project out of my "to.do" file. I win.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Hmm. Not as good a day as its two predecessors, though the morning included a really good, useful meeting on the web-services side of $PROJECT. But that and the switch to cold weather made for too many excuses not to go out for a walk.

And I made progress toward setting up a transfer from my bank to my credit union, but didn't get started soon enough for it to count toward Bank Transfer Day (which is today). I tend to get down on myself about the obvious negative effects of procrastination, but of course by then it's too late to fix them.

One of the good parts was figuring out -- remembering, really -- one of the last bits of magic required to make ssh port tunneling work. Still having trouble with X forwarding, though; it worked fine with Lenny.

As for links, I was pleased to note that Occupy rigs up human-power after generators are confiscated

raw notes )

Chrome

Nov. 24th, 2009 09:55 am
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Today's feeds included this post on ChromeOS by Cringely.

Last week Google made a preemptive strike against Microsoft, revealing details of its Chrome OS months before that product reaches its near-infinite beta release. The idea is simple: who needs a big OS if you are doing everything in a browser? It’s a huge threat to Microsoft and Apple. But then it struck me I’ve heard this all before, so I went back and found this video clip from my show Triumph of the Nerds, circa 1996, where Larry Ellison predicts the future, not knowing he was actually describing 2010.

It struck me that I've seen it before, too: Sun's Display Postscript. The difference is that Javascript is a far friendlier language to program in than Postscript, and that Chrome has some solid security behind it. We've learned a lot in the last two decades: Javascript was designed from the ground up for implementing the programming side of a user interface, and HTML 5 plus SVG on the front end are more than good enough to replace a 2-d graphics toolkit like GTK. So there's that.

Sun also invented the catch-phrase "the network is the computer", and NFS (which stands for Network File System, in case you've forgotten).

Cringe ends with:

We know that under the Chrome OS Google Apps will be very secure. Any tampering will trigger the download of a new and pure OS image. But will the Chrome OS have enough performance to compete with Microsoft Office? I think it eventually will, based, for example, on extensions like Google’s recently announced O3D API, which will allow Google Apps and approved third-party apps to grab spare GPU cycles to improve performance.

What’s left to be seen here is whether these improvements will be enough to beat Office or if Google will have to make a standalone (local PC-based) version of these apps. Only time will tell.

The most interesting part for me will be Microsoft’s response. This strikes at the very heart of Redmond’s business success and Microsoft will not take it lying down. Expect thermonuclear warfare.

What he seems to be forgetting is that it's going to be a three-front war. Down underneath ChromeOS, Android, Maemo, Moblin, and the Ubuntu Netbook Remix -- all of which are designed for mobile devices and thin clients -- is a perfectly functional Linux kernel. Mass storage is still dirt-cheap, and even after we get fiber to the home a suitcase full of hard drives will have more bandwidth than a pipeline to the cloud.

And a net app doesn't much care whether the back-end server it's talking to is in the next room or the next state, but you'll notice the performance difference. Heck, I notice the performance difference in my favorite audio editor between a local SATA drive and the same drive over gigabit ethernet.

Yeah, you'll back up to the cloud, use it for communication and sharing, and use it for deploying massive multi-user web applications. But all your applications will be running their front ends locally on Linux, so they can sneak behind the web to the local filesystem, and sneak behind the browser to X and the GPU, when you need performance. Your photos and music and video may be synchronized to a big server in the sky, but they'll all be in the fileserver in the closet, too. And some things won't get synced; the reasons are left as an exercise for the reader.

No matter what the (other) pundits are trying to claim, a URL is still a (virtual) pathname, a website is still a hierarchical filesystem (which you can of course mount with WebDAV), and the hierarchy of INTERconnected NETworks doesn't stop at your DSL modem or even at the ethernet port on the back of your PC. PCI is a network, too.

ChromeOS may take down Microsoft, and the Google Store may become a strong competitor for Apple. But is it the end of operating systems as we know them? I doubt it. Will you get all your applications from the Google Store? Probably not, any more than you'll get all your music from iTunes and all your books from Amazon. You'll hit some indy website, download to your local server, and away you go.

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

I'm an old bear, and rather set in my ways. But now that Colleen has an Ubuntu-based netbook, we're looking for a good mail reader.

Requirements:

  • Gnome or, preferably, desktop-independent. She doesn't use KDE.
  • Must be able to handle multiple POP and IMAP accounts.
  • Not too complex.

Another possibility would be to suck everything down using fetchmail, but she would still need a good mail reader. Feel free to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of fetchmail you have an opinion on it.

mdlbear: (tux)

Here's a good article on Gizmodo about Android. Things could get interesting.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A good day. I felt very dragged out in the morning, and didn't do much in the way of journaling. It may have been mostly blood sugar, and I was ok by the time I got to work, A little while after that I got a happy, almost bubbly call from [livejournal.com profile] cflute that got the rest of the day off to a great start. We agreed that it was wonderful to have good things to talk about. The last year has been horrific for both our families; we're ready for Samhain to bring us a bright, shiny new one with good jobs for those who need them, good health for all of us, and homes filled with music, love and contentment.

I followed this with a walk around the pond; I took 10 minutes out for meditation, and another five or so to simply sit and watch the beautiful koi. I could feel my mood lighten. I returned to work and was contentedly productive for the rest of the afternoon, turning an ancient EeePC into an Unbuntu server that can be taken to Japan next week for a portable version of $DEMO.

There were too many conversations going on for me to sing, but I came out of my hole for some up-tempo noodling a couple of times.

Yeah; a good day. Let's have some more of them.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

So... here's an update on this post about cleaning the office, upgrading the fileserver, and fixing the Starport's email.

One out of three is,... um,... pretty bad. I'm probably going to have to go to Plan B or Plan C on the email; I simply can't make it work at Dreamhost. Worth an email to their tech support, though.

As for the fileserver, the problem is that I really "need" to have my home directory up and running for at least most of the day. And I need to have mail working, and the YD needs to have the laser printer working.

After toying with and rejecting the idea of swapping Nova's hard drive into temporary hardware temporarily (which would involve a fair amount of work), it became clear that the right thing to do would be to pull the drive, plop it into an external box, and just do the upgrade (setting up the three SATA drives in a mixed RAID configuration). If it goes quickly and smoothly, mount the old drive and start copying /home. Whee!

If it doesn't go smoothly, mount the old drive on Dorsai, the desktop. This is almost but not quite as much work as a temporary Nova, and is only possible because Dorsai is currently the only machine mounting filesystems over NFS from Nova.

Even if I'm able to bring up Nova quickly and restore /home onto it (it's "only" 15GB, which won't take long), the next thing will be to move the external box over to Dorsai, where I can mount the big partition that has all the media files and website working directories, and still use it while rsync rumbles along doing its thing.

The nice thing about that is that if NFS or NIS gives me trouble -- and those are the two most likely trouble spots, for certain -- I can mount /home on Dorsai and go my merry way while trying to fix them.

11:35 On second thought, the best thing is clearly to start by moving the old drive to Dorsai. That will (presumably) be fairly quick, and will take all the time pressure off of the upgrade.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It just occurred to me that I can overlap three rather disagreeable major projects this weekend: moving thestarport.org's DNS and email, upgrading the fileserver, and cleaning the office.

I just realized that I have to do the first two in that order, or a lot of email will end up dropped on the floor. Most of that will be spam, of course, but the sheer volume of it means that if I don't move it, the tiny mailbox at my ISP will fill up and things will start bouncing.

But I also realized that having my fileserver out of service for a while will remove a major distraction that would normally keep me from cleaning out the office. Which direly needs it. Because I have to do a lot of that before I have the space to do the taxes. AAARGH!

I don't think I need help with this, just some good excuses to stop making excuses, if that makes any kind of sense. This post is a step in that direction.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

Hmm. After taking out the summaries of a couple of long but private conversations, there isn't a whole lot left. I spent almost all of the evening out in the living room, mostly geeking about Linux and programming languages with various people. A lot of the regulars weren't there, but [livejournal.com profile] andyheninger showed up, which is rare. We go way back; he was a coworker at both AMI and Zilog.

The other conversations were mostly about the problems that Colleen was having over the weekend around feeling excluded, and more generally the way she falls apart when things aren't going her way. It's taken me a long time and a lot of help to both understand a little about what her problem is, and to understand that it's her problem, not mine. That was the hardest part -- my natural tendency is to blame myself for anything that goes wrong.

Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi for finding the perfect word for "the way she falls apart". Once Colleen heard it she understood much more clearly what was going on and what she needs to do about it. I've seen that same look of determination quite recently, when she's been stretching her physical limits. She said something to the effect of: "I have 35 years of bad behavior to unlearn... You'll have to kick me in the ass when I need it. And I'll kick you in the ass about your problems."

So it's a deal. And I have to credit Colleen not only for her understanding and willingness to change, but for giving me the perfect straight line I needed to drive the point home: "You never have that kind of conversation with me." "I'd love to, but I can't -- you keep falling apart."

During the afternoon Colleen and Marty made huge progress re-arranging the sewing corner based on my realization in the morning that it would work better if the sewing machine got moved from the North wall (the window facing the driveway) to the East along the large window that faces the porch and the street. The front window is enough wider that it actually fits, and the rolling storage units that were crowded into the space in front of the built-in shelves are now neatly arranged along the corner wall. Impressive.

Along the way Marty also completely re-arranged the front closet, making it an actual walk-in, with all the contents accessible. And Colleen went through four boxes and sorted the contents. Wow!!

A somewhat tiring day and a little rough in places, but any day when you get a breakthrough on a major problem is a good one. Add the sewing corner and the closet, and it was a very good day indeed.

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

There are actually three things I can burble about right now. The main one is that my coworker presented a paper this week on the project that our group has been working on. So there are things I can talk about! (And some that I still can't.) I can at least point to the abstract, which is here, though you probably have to be an ACM member in order to download the paper.

Basically the thing is an e-writer -- an e-reader with pen input that lets you write on things like forms and book pages. The next prototype version, due soon, is about the same form factor as the Kindle DX only with WiFi instead of cell, and (because it's a research prototype) Debian Linux.

The other two are the fact that I'm pretty much off the hook for the demo next week -- I've already mentioned that one -- and that the Dell Mini-10 that I won at OpenSourceWorld arrived yesterday.

The Dell came already defenestrated, with Ubuntu 8.04LTS installed. Plusses include the almost-full-size keyboard, scroll gestures on the trackpad, a gig of RAM, and 16 GB of solid-state disk. Minuses include the trackpad, the fact that one does not put swap on a flash drive, and the fact that it's just a little too big for the cases that used to hold my Magio laptop. Still, it's a sweet, shiny little thing. It hasn't been named yet.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A very good day. By the time my walk came around almost all the shoulder pain and tension were gone, and a lot of pressure was off. This was mostly because of hearing $boss explaining to his boss why the demo wasn't going to work. So I'm off the hook. Also, the Dell netbook that I won in the drawing at OpenSourceWorld finally arrived (more on that separately), and the friends who'd been visiting Wednesday and Thursday left in the morning. I wish we'd had a lot more time to talk, but the house was pretty crowded and noisy. We'll try not to do that too much; one can't pay adequate attention to two sets of guests at the same time.

It was hot and noisy on my walk, but I wasn't as out-of-shape as I'd been earlier in the week, and all the tension was gone.

Colleen, Naomi, and I had dinner at Spicy Leaves -- excellent as usual. It counted as our date night, since we'd had too many guests Thursday and I got home so late. Great food, and two of my favorite women in all the world; it was wonderful.

The day ended with singing and snuggle, and sleep courtesy of cyclobenzaprine.

mdlbear: (debian)

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 released. Read more at www.debian.org.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This is being posted from Dorsai, a dual-core AMD-64 machine that has been my main workstation, um... all year. There are enough differences between Emacs on Lenny and Etch that I'm still not particularly satisfied with the configuration; that will presumably change over the course of the next few months. Iceweasel, now based on Firefox 3, is another source of continuing dissatisfaction. But on the whole it's a lot better.

The Emacs problems are largely due to my having carried over a number of hacks from the days of Emacs 18; things are better now, but they're different. It was long past time to update, though, and I'm glad of the excuse to do some cleanup.

Today was largely occupied with moving the daily mirror drive from Harmony (the old workstation) back to Nova (the fileserver). This shouldn't have been a problem -- it had been there before -- but a blown power supply occupied a lot of my time, and some oddities about the ethernet configuration occupied the rest. I still don't have a working gigabit ethernet card, and the old power supply I used is noisy. So those will need attention pretty soon, as will upgrading both Nova and Dorsai to reasonable amounts of RAM.

And the little old HP desktop the kids brought down from upstairs now that they're planning on using Harmony as a Linux box simply won't boot at all. Grrr - probably power supply again, and of course being HP it's probably all proprietary inside.

Still, I'm not complaining. I managed to get through the year without spending outrageous amounts of money on computers, and that's something.

The next thing that needs major attention is our net connection. I'd been planning to drop the old AT&T DSL line in favor of the new one from Sonic. But a couple of shills from AT&T came by a couple of days ago to say that the neighborhood has fiber now (or will have it soon -- I missed that part). So that would strongly tilt the balance back in the other direction. That would also include internet phone and TV; the latter would be a major win over cable or satellite. Later. When I have time and brain cells.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

What I'm looking for is an open-source, cross-platform (Linux, Windows, and preferably also MacOS) program for music notation. Preferably with the ability to export to Lilypond (for typesetting), ABC, and MusicXML. Must import and export MIDI files and play via MIDI. Rosegarden would be absolutely ideal, except that it only runs on Linux (for a change).

Canorus looks plausible, but appears to be immature at this point. Definitely worth a try, though, since there are Windows binaries on the download page. It's based on the earlier Noteedit, which is Linux-only again.

Of course, we could always use VMWare and either run Lilypond on Windows, or a pirated version of Concertware on Linux. The latter is ancient, though, and stuck with proprietary formats.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Don Marti www/google-chrome.html
The idea of tabs being first class citizens makes a lot of sense, but why have a sub-window-manager that just manages browser windows in tabs, when you could have a tabbed window manager that can manage everything? I might want a browser and a spreadsheet to share a tab.

So the right "browser" for a Linux environment might just be a really fast HTML/JavaScript viewer that talks to a separate HTTP client/cache, a Google Gears server, and a preferences/history server -- all of which are also available to the rest of the desktop. The browser isn't necessarily the only thing that wants to speak HTTP, use Gears, or store preferences. And the "browser" application could fit into a tabbed window or a standalone window, just as the window manager would let you do for anything else on the desktop.
I'm in complete agreement. I already have a tabbed window manager (the venerable CTWM). I want very much to have all the browsers operating out of my home directory, which is shared among half-a-dozen machines using NFS, to share the same flat file preference file, bookmarks, and history. I wouldn't mind throwing my shell and emacs windows into that mix as well. I already have a text box with command history and completion -- it's called xterm.
mdlbear: (xo)

... from both sides now. From Gizmodo, a matched pair of articles titled "Why I Hate Netbooks" and "Why I Love Netbooks". Both posted by the same author, apparently.

As for me, I want a netbook with a Happy Hacking keyboard. One of the old, clicky ones. That, or just run my XO in terminal mode with a Model M, except it wouldn't be particularly portable. Which was kinda the whole point.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I use too many different computers. At any given time I might be on one of three machines at home, or one of two at work. Managing things like browsers, email clients, and IM clients, all of which get upset if I'm using the same account from two different places, is a bit of a chore. IM is the worst; the others are at least manageable.

All of those machines know whether I'm typing at them or not. In many cases, based on the time of day, they might have a pretty good idea of where I am when I'm not typing. It would be really good if there were some kind of service, independent of IM, that could manage my presence, kill off extraneous IM and email clients if necessary, and let people know the best way to contact me.

It could probably be done with Jabber, a private XMPP server, and a batch of specialized clients. Anyone out there know of something like that? Preferably for Debian or Ubuntu.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

This week was LinuxWorld; I went up to the Expo on Wednesday. In some previous years that would have been the high point of the week; you know Linux has gone mainstream when the most innovative products on the show floor were a new kind of ergonomic chair (which didn't seem to suit me) and some gorgeous, handmade wood mobius strips. OK, the 160GB flash drive on a PCIE card was pretty cool, too, streaming 256 movies simultaneously onto two large screens.

The point is that the real action has moved to more specialized conferences; all the open source developers were at OSCon two weeks ago in Portland, for example. As this blog post points out, that's not a bad thing. These days LinuxWorld is aimed primarily at IT departments considering making the move to Linux, or looking to upgrade their hardware or services.

It's an IT show, and I'm a hacker. Sold a CD to someone at the Creative Commons booth, though; easy sell, since all the music on it is CC. *shrug* I'll keep going as long as it's free and it's local. Let me know if there's an interesting conference or trade show in Seattle.

The Linux Picnic, which was this afternoon, was also smaller than in previous years, but still fun. Colleen came, and a visiting [livejournal.com profile] starless_knight substituting for the Y.D., who was off gaming with friends. I brought the XO, and Colleen brought her EeePC; I also brought Ruby and sang a couple of songs after lunch. No album sales, though.

Moving back in the week, we had a terrific talk Tuesday morning by our company president, on the history of $PARENT_COMPANY. It was followed by the company picnic; smaller than the Linux picnic, but the food was better.

All-in-all it's been a quiet week, but as I've said before, that's good. Very good. Compared to what many of our friends are going through...

Much of my creative energy has been going into the drafts of some River posts on conversation and communication. The first two (out of three) are just about ready, but I find that I like taking the time to work on them over the course of a couple of weeks. Plays hob with my other projects, though.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Stayed home from work yesterday because we had our annual termite inspection scheduled for sometime in the 11am-1pm, and because it seemed as though there was some serious puttering catching up to do. Good call -- it turned out to be a pretty productive day.

Spent much of the day working on uploading the Tres Gique Concert from Baycon. This was a lot more work than I expected; since the last time I did it, I've made major changes in both the organization of the various websites, and the way uploading is done. (I'll get into that sometime upwhen.)

Squeezed in a trip to Fry's with [livejournal.com profile] selkit to investigate trading in the Fujitsu laptop that he bought back in March, and which has been giving him considerable trouble. That will work; we'll go in again today sometime with laptop and paperwork in hand.

Took a walk (Rose Garden) between the Fry's trip and dinner; cool and pleasant.

There were two background tasks: ripping CDs and uploading. At some point this week, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat decided that we really needed to not only get the entire CD collection ripped to disk, but correctly organized; she's started listening to the entire collection, starting with the A's, and handing them off to me for ripping. I got a package of little sticky dots a couple of weeks ago and have been putting them on the jewelcase spine to mark the ones that have been ripped. We're somewhere in the middle of Joan Baez (filed under B) now, plus a bunch ripped from before. (Last week she listened through, and I ripped, all of the piles of unsorted CDs in the living room.) There are 281 CDs ripped at this point.

The other background task is uploading. I believe I mentioned that I have less upstream bandwidth than a carrier pigeon, but I have rsync and nobody needs much bandwidth late at night.

I also finally got the KDE desktop installed on Colleen's EeePC. She'd been finding the dumbed-down desktop extremely limiting. I did the one I was borrowing from work first; using the manual method in the instructions on the wiki. Then I discovered that Asus has taken KDE out of the repository for the 900! !@#$% Idiots!!!@#$ But I found a review article that said that the "easy way" (installing via a Debian package from an alternate repository) worked, and indeed it did. Still have to get mail working for her, which will involve making sure IMAP works on the server and that she has spamassassin properly set up.

Also spent some time just talking and snuggling with Colleen. Somehow sitting in separate chairs with separate laptops didn't seem sufficient, and we discovered last night that a drive wasn't really sufficient either. The living-room couch, which I made years ago, isn't really comfortable and in any case is covered with stuff, so we ended up on our bed, fully-clothed but with the door closed. (Not that the closed door stopped the Younger Daughter from coming in for hugs.) Have to do that more often. (Content also upwhen, under the River filter.)

Sometime in the evening I also pulled out one of the 400GB SATA drives, stuck it in a USB enclosure, and started formatting it with low-level checking. It's about half done now. The plan is to use it for data transfer between home and work, where I have a lot more upload bandwidth.

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)
Interview: Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu | Technology | The Guardian
TG: Will you be coming out with a tailored version of Ubuntu for the ultraportable sector?

MS We're announcing it in the first week of June. It's called the Netbook Remix. We're working with Intel, which produces chips custom-made for this sector.

TG: Do you think that GNU/Linux will ever become a significant force on the desktop?

MS I think that depends on how people define a desktop. If people continue to define a desktop as the thing that they run Microsoft Word on, then Windows will retain its position. My sense, though, is that people are increasingly defining the desktop as the thing that they get access to the internet from. In that case, there's a real possibility that we're able to shift people onto different platforms. I think it's the emergence of the internet as the killer application, the thing that describes what you want from the computer, that opens the door to us.
(via engadget
mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

The main bit of hackery for the day was diagnosing Tatooine, an aging Fry's windows box (long since dual booted with Debian) that started out in the office, and most recently was used in the bedroom as Colleen's machine. Replacing Seymore, a slightly older Fry's box.

Tatooine had developed the bad habit of rebooting in the middle of the Windows boot sequence. We retired it when it developed the even worse habit of shutting off in the middle of the Linux boot sequence.

This morning I took advantage of a moderately new Vantec power supply I had sitting around, and gave it a try. Linux worked, of course. Windows still reboots -- something must have become corrupt. (OK, Microsoft has been corrupt for years. But I digress.) I'll have to see if the Windows partition is readable at all; I may be able to run the Windows games via Wine.

I also have to see whether I can make Seymore run now. If I remember correctly, a new power supply didn't help it, but it's worth a try. If not, I can always cannibalize it.

mdlbear: (debian)

Upgraded my ancient (IBM i series) laptop from DeMuDi (Debian Sarge-based) to Etch. Involved an hour or two resolving dependencies, and then another couple of hours re-hacking my config files to make them tiny-screen-friendly. I've been using wide screens both at home and at work for a while; it takes a bit of squeezing to fit things back onto 800x600. But I remembered how I'd done it, back when that was a big screen...

There are still a couple of bugs, but they're manageable.

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)
Open Source Java Technology Debuts In GNU/Linux Distributions
Latest Releases of Fedora and Ubuntu Feature OpenJDK-based Implementations

SANTA CLARA, CA April 30, 2008 Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA), Canonical Ltd. and Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), today announced the inclusion of OpenJDK-based (http://openjdk.java.net) implementations in Fedora 9 and Ubuntu 8.04 Long Term Support (LTS) Server and Desktop editions, furthering the promise of Sun's open source Java technology initiative.

In addition, the NetBeans 6.0 Integrated Development Environment (IDE) (http://www.netbeans.org) is being delivered as part of the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS release and Canonical has certified Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server Edition on several Sun x86 systems.
(From Groklaw's news picks.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Liliputing: Comprehensive list of low-cost ultraportables
Over the past six months or so, Asus, Everex, and HP have managed to bring low-cost ultraportable notebooks to market. But dozens of other computer makers have promised to bring out their own mini-notebooks. Some will run Linux, while others will be preloaded with Windows XP or Vista. Some will have flash memory, while others will have hard drives. But every one will be smaller, lighter, and cheaper than most existing laptop computers. Here's a roundup of some of the computers that have been announced or are already available.
(From engadget.)

EeeP(c)

Apr. 21st, 2008 12:28 pm
mdlbear: (xo)
Asus Eee PC 900 hits the US on May 12th - Engadget
We're serious this time, people. No more kidding around with those international ship dates, we've got ourselves a real live release date from Asus: May 12th. The hotly-anticipated Eee PC 900 with that relatively bountiful 8.9-inch screen is going to sell for a starting price of $549, with Linux and XP versions available at launch.
Well, it's nearly twice the price of the current low-end versions, but...
mdlbear: (tux)

No, I have NO FSCKING IDEA why my linux-based router won't route packets from the DMZ port to anywhere else. I'm guessing it's some piece of Shorewall misconfiguration that's been lingering around since the last time I tried banging my head against this particular problem.

However, my head is very damned sore now, and it at least continues to route from the internal network, so I was able to put the wireless router there where it used to be. At least it works now, even if it isn't as secure as I would like it to be. What's more, the WAP now seems willing to route to the internal network (it had damned-well better, since it's a host on it), so users of my internal web pages should be happy now.

I'm not happy. But it's less broken than it's been for several months, so I'm going to move on for now.

Note to self: any hostnames used in the firewall rules had better be in /etc/hosts, because you can't get to any DNS servers while the firewall is busy configuring itself.

Duh! It helps to enable masquerading for the interface. It helps to read the useful comment I left for myself in /etc/shorewall/masq. It would help even more if that solved the whole problem: it still doesn't route to the internal network. Grump.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Went to the Embedded Systems Conference yesterday in the San Jose convention center. A little disappointing -- smaller than last year, and nothing really new except some of the swag. Oh, and a booth with the slogan: "Seeing is Believing, but Touching is More Fun". Yeah; I can get behind that...

There was a moderate amount of Linux in evidence: in addition to the usual distros (Montavista, LynuxWorks) most of the single-board computers and evaluation boards support it as a matter of course.

The nice thing about doing a trade show on a Wednesday is that I can come home, dump the swag on a chair, and expect most of it to disappear by the end of the evening. The only things I found worth keeping were one of the bags (black, with the sides extended into a single long shoulder strap rather than the usual pair of loops) and a pen in the shape of a squid, that opens in a particularly interesting way (from Reach Technology). The patent drawings do not show the mechanism, which is fun to watch.

10:27 Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rowanf, we now know that this is called a "Transformer Pen". The minimum order appears to be 200...

mdlbear: (kill bill)

The [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat's desktop computer (in the bedroom) appears to have finally bitten the dust -- Windows has been flaky for at least a month, and now Linux is having problems as well. Its CPU fan appears to have died, which has probably caused collateral damage elsewhere. This makes the second of our three Fry's XP boxes to die; the third is the one in the Y.D.'s room. I'll be surprised if that one makes it to the end of the year.

I'm reluctant to just go out and buy her another Windows box -- Fry's track record is pretty poor at this point, and she seems to be happy with Linux on the EeePC. And the budget is still blown all to hell from the wedding and FKO; I really don't need the expense just now. I've been trying to justify a new workstation for the office, because Harmony has become noticeably noisy, but I can't do that either right now, especially when I'm trying to save for an EeePC for the Cat.

So I think what I'll do for the moment is move Dantooine in from the office -- it's an ultra-quiet Mini-ITX system. Fanless, which eliminates that point of failure. We do need a Windows box or two, but that's what virtualization is for.

The other advantage of this move is that it will, at long last, completely defenestrate the computers downstairs. That's a Good Thing.

Balance

Mar. 20th, 2008 08:38 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Here's wishing a happy -- or at least a calm -- Equinox to those who mark it. It seems like a good day to talk about balance.

My life, like my finances, has been significantly out of balance for years. Things are starting to find a new equilibrium, though sometimes I feel like I've finally gotten it all together just in time to be forgetting where I put it.

Things like blog reading and IM usage are still a bit of a problem -- I always tend to do the fun stuff first -- but I'm trying to limit them and have been mostly successful. This week, anyway.

Financially, it's too early to say for sure, but I may have finally gotten both the Cat and I interested in setting up a household budget. Suggestions for Linux programs or locally-installable web applications will be gratefully accepted. (The ones I know about from "apt-cache search budget" on Ubuntu are grisbi, homebank, and equonimize; haven't had a chance to look at any of them.)

I may have been the only one to notice that last night's selection of cheeses was smaller than usual.

Balance plays a part in conversation, too. Last night's geekish conversation in the office was marked by comparatively little of it; people were more intent on making their own points -- repeatedly -- than in noting their areas of agreement and disagreement and moving on to something more interesting. Yes, scanning, printing, and vector drawing programs in Linux are broken. You really only have to say that once. Yes, human interface studies and guidelines are important. But if you dumb things down to match what your study has determined to be the "average" user's expectations, you leave off what may be a surprisingly long tail of users who aren't average and weren't included in your pitifully small study. (It's my blog -- I get to have the last word there.)

I'm blathering. Balance. Right.

(Note: The trainwreck and river tags are for discussion of financial and psychological issues respectively; there will be corresponding filters for non-public aspects of these, but I haven't started using them yet.)

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

Well, the flakiness seen yesterday expanded into full-blown falling-apart today: I couldn't even boot. And I'll note in passing that an 8-day-old install CD of Hardy alpha required 600-odd updates. I don't think it's stable yet. I'm going to assume both that the drive is unhappy, and that Hardy Heron isn't ready; I put the old drive back.

On the plus side, I found the install disk for my 802-11g wireless card, and it worked in the Win98 partition. So the machine will be usable regardless. At some point I'm going to try both Gutsy (from the text installer) and Lenny. But not right now: there's a lot on my schedule today.

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

I've been spending some time this afternoon upgrading my Thinkpad T21, which I purchased several years ago at a surplus joint. One of my coworkers handed me a 60GB hard drive (removed from an upgraded laptop) that was flaky in his machine at home. We'll see. Replacing a drive on an IBM laptop is a cakewalk.

The install disk for the current Ubuntu, 7.10, boots but does something horrible to the display, making it basically uninstallable. Debian Etch does the same horrible thing, but at least it gets installed so you can flip the driver over to vesa, which is where I had it before. My alternate disk for 7.10 had an error on it, but I also downloaded Hardy alpha 5. That worked perfectly, and is currently installing.

I tried both my WiFi cards; neither worked. Hopefully a suitable driver will fix it. One of them (the 802-11g, oddly enough) actually recognized the network, but kept insisting on a password and wouldn't connect. It's an open network, damnit. Or do I have to kick the router? (9:08 that did it! Just fscking worked. I could really get to love Ubuntu.) (9:32 Still some flakiness -- unclear whether bugs or bad drive. Current thinking favors bugs.)

It's also an open question whether any of the usual laptop features will be recognized out of the box; Etch wouldn't even suspend properly.

Finally, I still have to copy over the old Windows 98SE partition; that will require a USB adapter and searching for the driver disk. The machine is going to a non-geek who's used to Windows; whether I can persuade her to switch over is an open question, so it's important to leave both options open. Hopefully I'll be able to do that with the partition manager once I find a USB enclosure to plop the old drive into.

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)
The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy — and Their Open Source Alternatives | WHDb
The following fifty proprietary programs are listed in no particular order within broad categories along with their open source alternatives. In some cases you could probably write your own book on frustrations with the proprietary programs shown here. In other cases, you’ll discover that the open source alternative isn’t quite up to snuff yet. And, in other cases still, you’ll learn that some proprietary programs are real gems, but that the open source advocate can replace those gems with equally shiny objects from the open source repertoire.
I don't necessarily agree with everything in this list, but it's a good place to start if you're wondering whether your critical needs will be covered if you switch to Linux, or if you just want to try something different on Windows. Many of my favorites are on the list.

(From InfoWorld.)
mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Getting a static web site organized with git | LinuxWorld Community
Yes, I still end up maintaining some static web sites. I've started doing them under git revision control, just to be safe, and because "git push origin" is just as easy as rsync anyway. Here's a rough cut at a system for keeping these things organized.
Not as directly useful to me as it would be if I wasn't already syncing my entire web-related directory tree up to a large external hosting site for backup.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

In this case, of course, Dorsai is the computer in the bedroom. (This being thestarport.org, all the machines are named after places that could plausibly have starports. The machines that are used for recording and editing music are, naturally, places mentioned in filksongs: the laptop is Argo, and the other workstation is Harmony.) Anyway, it works: I'm posting from it.

The little rolling desk isn't terribly solid, and because it overlaps the bookshelves on the left there isn't room for anything but my Lenovo Thinkpad keyboard. Which is pretty good, and has pointing devices that there otherwise wouldn't be room for, but it's not a Model M.

In addition, it's running Ubuntu Studio instead of Etch; not all my usual fonts are installed (so windows come out the wrong size and don't quite fit properly), (added 02-24: the font problem turned out to be a bad line in .Xdefaults) and it's running Emacs 22.1. I'm not quite ready to make the transition to the new Gnus. OTOH it's fast as a bat. I'd forgotten just how fast it is...

There are still a few piles of stuff scattered around the bedroom that were pulled out of the corner, and the chair isn't particularly comfortable. The recording rig hasn't been reconfigured yet; I'm not sure where the microphones and preamps belong, and there are no monitor speakers (so, basically, I don't have sound on this machine yet).

But, Colleen really likes having me in the bedroom with her, even though she can't see me from where she's sitting. And it does feel comfortable. Moving back and forth between the two systems is slightly painful: I have to kill the browser, and move my IM presence. Not a full solution. It'll take me a while to make the transition smooth; it will probably involve switching to Ubuntu or Lenny on all the clients.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Excellent post by [livejournal.com profile] don_marti on becoming more productive by going offline. Git (distributed version control, basically syncing on steroids), ikiwiki (offline-rendered wiki), blosxom (offline-rendered blog), and more. It's related to a lot of what I've been saying about keeping control of your own data. In essence, what you want to do is to separate writing from publishing.

Better yet

Feb. 3rd, 2008 10:10 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

The Wolfling is getting tutoring in math now. Hopefully that will get her through the two classes she needs to graduate. Since her tutor (a family friend) lives most of the way to Palo Alto, the Cat and I proceeded from dropping her off to dinner at Chef Chu's in honor of Chinese New Year. We decided going in that a whole fish, while tempting, wouldn't have given us enough variety, so we had hot and sour soup, tangerine peel chicken, eggplant in garlic sauce, and fried bananas for desert. Yum!

Chef Chu's was my intro to Szechuan cooking when I first came out to California for grad school, 29 years ago.

Coming home, I found that the VIA board had successfully started up X, after the various network-dependent processes timed out. Thus encouraged, I hacked on it for a while and discovered that the onboard ethernet was now eth2. Go figure. I think it has something to do with the hotplug code that I stopped using because it seemed flaky. But it works now: not super fast, but more useable than its predecessor, and totally silent.

The runtime on my UPS is now down from somewhere north of 45 minutes to 39; not too bad, considering.

Hopefully I'll be able to get back to actual (music) work soon.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Went to Fry's and bought a new CPU/Motherboard bundle for the fileserver: it's a comparatively crappy ECS MB with an AMD X2 BE-2330 processor. Under $90 with tax. Not terribly fast, but I don't need fast. Only one IDE connector, but 4 SATA, so that's OK. 100MB Ethernet, but it has two PCI slots, so that's OK. NVidia video, but it's a server, so I'm not using X. Swapped boards with the old one, and it just fscking worked.

Only thing that really needs fixing is the kernel -- the default kernel doesn't recognize the second core. (And of course it's in 32-bit mode -- fixing that would require a complete re-install, so I'm going to wait.)

The nice, quiet 1GHz VIA board that it replaced is, for some reason, not working particularly well: newer kernels don't seem to recognize the ethernet controller, and older ones don't see the mouse. Grump. May have to add an ethernet adapter and use it as a NAS box. Or maybe try Ubuntu.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

For some reason Kat's monitor (an ageing 17" Hyundai) has lost the ability to tell the computer at the other end of its cable what its resolution is. We'd just installed a new KVM switch, so I spent quite a lot of time thinking the problem was in the switch. At first it seemed to be -- last time she had problems, I took out the switch, plugged the monitor directly into the computer, and it worked. This time it didn't.

Swapped it with the 17" Samsung on the public system in the office downstairs. Now everything is happy -- Debian Etch on the downstairs machine is set up for fixed resolution, so it ignores the stupid lying monitor and Just Works(TM).

Meanwhile the taxes aren't done and there's practicing to do.

And did I mention that crawling around under desks is bad for my knees?

Better?

Jan. 18th, 2008 09:48 am
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

When last we met the Starport's harried local BOFH system administrator household hacker, he was trying to figure out why Nova, the household fileserver, kept locking up. It looked very like a software or memory problem.

Running top continuously from home and work revealed that the memory usage never got up to the point where it would cause problems -- heck, it hasn't used swap space in three days. On the other hand, it has been up for three days.

About the only thing I've done differently in that time was to kill off Big Brother, the system-monitoring program I've been using for several years now. My copy is decidedly obsolete, and because it was free but not open source, it never got automatically upgraded like the rest of my software. The last few months it had been crashing, and I didn't use it enough to bother tracking down the problem.

I'm now looking for a good system monitor that's well-supported in Debian. I'll probably end up with either nagios or monit -- any recommendations?

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

The last couple of days I've been helping the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf install Ubuntu on her ageing HP Celeron system. The initial problem, of course, was to back up the old contents; I tried several hacks of varying effectiveness before discovering that the Seagate drive I was using came with a Windows partition-imaging program on its install CD. Who knew?

Once that was taken care of, actually doing the install was a piece of cake, modulo a crash scanning the partition table and its inability to shrink the existing NTFS partition as much as it should have been able to. (There may be a connection.) There may be some bad memory in that box; it's quite flaky.

The Wolfling seems to be pretty happy with Ubuntu, which is a good sign. Of course, she still has her shiny new XP machine; I'll get her a KVM switch tomorrow.

mdlbear: (penguin-rant)
... so Nova, my fileserver, has been up since about 6:30am this morning. This afternoon I noticed that SpamAssassin's daemon wasn't running, so spam wasn't getting filtered. I started it. A few seconds thereafter, Nova crashed.

I'm guessing either a corrupt application file, corrupt database, or something running out of memory. Possibly some combination. Running out of memory (or some other resource) could be a problem; the others may be fixable by purging and reinstalling spamassassin. Could conceivably be some other weirdness, up to and including a bug in Perl, but the fact that problems have been occurring with increasing frequency is highly suggestive of a problem with spamassassin itself.

15:40 Could also be flaky memory, of course. SA is big, so it could have pushed it over the edge into a bad block. I'll run memtest, though that's no guarantee.

20:11 Spamd is pretty small, and top shows plenty of space: 1G of RAM, about 1/3 full, and 2G of empty swap. I'll watch it for a while.

So far...

Jan. 15th, 2008 10:15 am
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Nova was down again when I got up this morning; I took it as an excuse to disconnect the SATA drives (which I should have done yesterday, but it was getting late). If that fixes it, it's probably a controller issue. If not, it's probably memory. Worst case, I can replace it with Harmony (my current workstation), which has been absolutely solid since I bought it. In fact, that MB/CPU used to be in Nova. Would use more power, but a faster CPU would help for printing and some file operations.

Spent some good time this morning talking with the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf about upcoming web projects and setting her up with an Ubuntu box. We'll use her old HP Windows box with the new 320GB IDE drive that I originally intended for a USB drive.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Nova (the fileserver) hung again this morning; it was hosed when I checked on it from work. So when I got home I turned off email (didn't want it ending up in the wrong place), brought up nova just long enough to update the mirror and take down the workstation that had the external drives hung off it, and moved the new 500GB IDE drive from the external box to nova.

After that, I installed a clean copy of Lenny on the small rescue partition, and spent the entire damned rest of the evening copying files off the mirror. Amused myself while tar was doing its thing by seeing if I could configure a working fileserver out of Lenny, and almost succeeded. Still something wrong with nfs. It may just be something I didn't restart properly. I also had time to eat dinner, do the dishes, and move the boxes of Christmas stuff (including tree) back into the garage. Which in turn involved cleaning out the little closet between the bedroom and the garage, tossing out no less than three huge boxes that once held monitors that we no longer own.

I was a little surprised at how long it stayed up. I suspect that the problem has to do with writing to a SATA drive, and I wasn't doing much of that. But it's back.

Bear fall over now.

Foo

Jan. 14th, 2008 08:59 am
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

The fileserver froze again last night -- this is getting old. I remain convinced that it's some kind of driver race condition: it's not happening with the near-identical drive on the recording box. It could also be due to lurking disk corruption causing it to hang on a read. In that case, a fsck might fix it. It might not.

In either case, I'm tired of fighting it. I'm dropping the fileserver back to a single IDE drive, and moving the (SATA) mirror to another machine. Hopefully by the time I need it, SATA support will be better.

Meanwhile, I have lots of other work to do, and I don't want to have to deal with random fileserver hangs on top of it all.

10:48 It's even having trouble staying up long enough to copy a partition to the new drive. So here's the plan:

plans within plans; wheels within wheels. Nothing to see here )

mdlbear: (debian)

Upgrading the workstations, and possibly the fileserver, to Lenny (Debian Testing) is starting to look attractive. It's running 2.6.22, which is the one I need to support my Seagate SATA-II drives, and it has Audacity 1.3.4, which is the latest and matches the version in UbuntuStudio.

It's usually safe to upgrade the fileserver, since it's inside the firewall. The only reason to hold off is that every once in a while you get a major upheaval and something breaks, usually in one of my local scripts; when that happens it's handy to have the previous version around somewhere. I'll probably wait a couple of months. There's no reason not to upgrade the workstations now.

I'll keep UbuntuStudio around, too, especially since 64Studio is still based on Etch, so the kernels aren't up to date.

mdlbear: (grrr)

Based on the fact that a similar (bigger) drive has been running on my recording box for several days under UbuntuStudio, I'm trying a 2.6.33 kernel from backports.org. Might work. If it doesn't, Fry's is selling 500GB Maxtor SATA drives for $99 this weekend. They're a little older, so probably not SATA/300.

In case you were wondering, no, Seagate's DOS tool doesn't know how set most of the parameters on the drive. Their Windows tool does, of course. The probability that I'll be buying Seagate drives in the near future is diminishing rapidly.

mdlbear: (xo)
Pixel Qi - Home
What computing can be, the XO laptop was just the first step.

Pixel Qi is currently pursuing the $75 laptop, while also aiming to bring sunlight readable, low-cost and low-power screens into mainstream laptops, cellphones and digital cameras.

Spinning out from OLPC enables the development of a new machine, beyond the XO, while leveraging a larger market for new technologies, beyond just OLPC: prices for next-generation hardware can be brought down by allowing multiple uses of the key technology advances. Pixel Qi will give OLPC products at cost, while also selling the sub-systems and devices at a profit for commercial use.
Posts in engadget and gizmodo try hard to make it sound like this is a bad thing; the NY Times article is a little more balanced. They all try to make it sound as though the OLPC is doomed. It isn't.

Note that Pixel Qi is licensing the display technology from OLPC. This does two things: gives the OLPC a revenue stream that doesn't depend on the whims of government contracts, and lowers the price of their most expensive component by raising the volume. What's wrong with that?

And if the side effect is gadgets that look good, have fantastic screens and great battery life, run Linux, and cost under $100, I'm all for it.

Grumbles

Jan. 9th, 2008 11:57 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

The fileserver froze on me this morning, and again this afternoon. Best guess has always been drive spin-down; this is apparently a known problem with some newer SATA drives and some older kernel and possibly BIOS configurations. Various attempts to fix it with hdparm failed miserably. Installing acpid, while clearly necessary, didn't help either.

The current attempt uses a newer kernel (2.6.21) from 64studio.com. It certainly improves the results back from hdparm -i, but it's not clear that I was able to keep the drive from powering down. We'll see. The fact that a similar drive has been happy under UbuntuStudio (2.6.22) is encouraging. I can go that route if I have to; Ubuntu's not that far off of Debian.

If it stays up for a day or two, I'll start thinking of other places to use the 500GB IDE drive I bought at Fry's on my way home from work. If it doesn't, I get to start thinking of other places to put a couple of 400GB SATA drives. Preferably someplace where I don't mind running a bleeding-edge kernel.

Annoyances

Jan. 7th, 2008 09:39 pm
mdlbear: (grrr)

It seems some SATA drives have a tendency to spin down and not come back to life quickly enough to suit the drivers -- or even the BIOS. My fileserver, which has a pair of 400GB Seagates, seems to be afflicted. Twice, recently, I've come home and found it hung, and when I power-cycled the thing it took no less than two resets before the drives were happy. This does not make me happy.

As far as I can tell, every damned one of my four SATA drives has this problem, in varying degrees. Grrr. I seem to have it most often with drives that are left unused for a long time -- it mostly seems to hit the backup drives (though not always). For now I'm enabling swap on my mirror drive; I don't think it was this bad back before I disabled it to save wear and tear on the drive.

But I'm seriously considering sticking them in a RAID box where they'll get plenty of exercise, and replacing them with IDE drives. Not what I was planning to spend money on, though.

Meanwhile, I've been spending the last hour or so running malware scans on the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat's stupid Windows machine. And disabling the virus scanner, which seems to be causing a host of problems all by itself. Did I mention that I *HATE* Windows?

22:19 Did I mention that I'm an idiot? Seems the fileserver's bootloader menu is a mix of various and sundry old bits that don't go together anymore. No, I do not want to boot from the swap partition! Nor do I want the year-old multimedia kernel that seems to have stuck itself in for the hell of it. That's the problem with not rebooting for a long time...

mdlbear: (borg)

A couple of fascinating (in the same way that horror movies and trainwrecks are fascinating) articles about Microsoft have come my way in the last couple of days.

First we have Windows Home Server corrupting files that are being edited and stored to the server when it's heavily loaded. There are stories on ZDNet, C|NET, and ComputerWorld among other places.

"The problem isn't 100% reproducible and depends on quite a few different factors," explained Todd Headrick, the product planning manager on the Windows Home Server (WHS) team. "Home Server has to be under an extreme load while doing a large file copy," he said, adding that the flaw comes into play only in instances when the file server's cache is full and the user is editing a file previously saved to a shared folder.

"But we thought it was important enough to generalize [the bug] so people would take it seriously, even though we took a [public relations] hit," Headrick added.

On Wednesday, Microsoft warned users in a tightly worded support document not to edit files stored on their servers with certain programs. "Files may become corrupted when you save them to the home server," the company said in advisory KB946676, which it published last week to its support site.

Saying that the bug was in the shared folders feature of WHS, the document urged users to stop using seven Microsoft applications, including Windows Vista Photo Gallery, Windows Live Photo Gallery, OneNote 2003, OneNote 2007, Outlook 2007, Microsoft Money 2007 and SyncToy 2.0 Beta under some conditions. "We recommend that do not use the programs to save or to edit program-specific files that are stored on a Windows Home Server-based system," the document read.

Folks, I've been using Unix- and Linux-based shared file servers for two decades now, at work and at home, often under loads that Windows Home Server is unlikely ever to encounter, including flinging large audio and video files around. Know how many times I've had files corrupted by anything but a hardware problem? Zero. Microsoft has a problem here.

Meanwhile [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman points us at a blog post about last night's fireworks show on Seattle's Space Needle. In his follow-up he points us to this story at seattlepi.com. Their front page has a followup. Guess what? File corruption on a Windows machine. Hmm.

Look, if you're going to have an expensive, high-visibility show controlled in real-time by a computer program, you start by simulating the heck out of it. Then you put the app, and enough of an OS to run it, on a flash drive, fsck(1) it, adjust /etc/fstab so that it's mounted read-only, and run a couple of tests with the fireworks replaced by dummy loads but everything else in place. After that, if it fails in the next decade or so, it's because you damaged the box.

[livejournal.com profile] technoshaman assures us that he could write the controller app from scratch in a couple of months; I'd be inclined to use a MIDI sequencer and a bunch of current-loop-controlled relay controllers. This isn't exactly rocket science. Mortar shells, maybe.

Meanwhile cheap, rugged, Linux-based diskless laptops are getting a lot of attention, and corporate IT departments are staying away from Vista in droves. Wonder why.

You can download Ubuntu Linux here for free.

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