It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?
Wednesday, June 29
Is the Maxtor Shared Storage Drive. It's a file server. It looks like an external hard disk, but it's a file server. It's got two USB ports, but that's for attaching more disk drives. Or printers, because it's also a print server.
$549 for the 300GB model, $449 for 200GB. (Australian pricing.) That's $100 more than the plain external drive.
Tuesday, June 28
I'm looking for a CMS. My own development attempts have foundered on the twin reefs of lack of time and scalability (mainly database problems).
I'm not asking for much. All I want is:
PHP, Perl or Python, I don't really care. Even Java will be considered.
- Unlimited blogs, forums, wikis and portals feeding from a common pool of articles and comments. That is, a post can appear on a blog and a forum and a wiki, with its comments and other details intact.
- Sub-sites with their own domains - and their own layouts
- Group-based permissions
- Semantic markup
- RSS feeds
- Page, block and template based site construction
- In-line and out-of-line editing
- A few nice clean themes to start with
- Absolutely no PHP or SQL coding required of - or indeed available to - regular users
- Plugin / module architecture
- Web services API
- Runs on Linux
- Doesn't cost more than US$2000 (Free is good. Open source is better.)
- Fully integrated and self-contained. I don't need a choice of three different blog modules, each using a different commenting system.
- An application, not a service.
- No usage restrictions. None of this "you can't run a hosting service" stuff.
- Background processing for big tasks like spam removal.
- Scales to thousands of sites.
I have a list of nice-to-haves, but it's kind of long. I'll post that later.
Saturday, June 25
One local store has the new Athlon 64 X2 in stock. Starting at $885 (for a 2.2GHz 512k cache) and going up to $1639 (for a 2.4GHz 1MB cache). Compared to $408 for the 2.8GHz Intel Pentium D, it's not exactly a bargain.
Thursday, June 23
Intel's dual-core Pentium D is out, and at a reasonable price (around A$400 for the 2.8GHz model). I'd love to put one in my Windows machine, because the rue for making Windows run at a reasonable speed is "One CPU for each application, plus one more for Windows".
Unfortunately, it's only available as Socket 775, where my machine is Socket 478. That's not too bad, I can get a Socket 775 motherboard pretty cheap.
Except that it won't run on just any Socket 775 motherboard; you have to have one based on the Intel 945 chipset. Those motherboards aren't quite so cheap, but they're not unreasonably priced.
Except that they only support DDR-II memory, so I'd have to replace all my memory. And they only support PCI Express, so I'd have to replace my video card.
So it ends up costing $1400 rather than $400. I might as well wait for the dual-core Athlon 64, which will at least use my existing memory.
Thursday, June 16
Xshell. An SSH client/terminal emulator for Windows that doesn't suck.
And it looks like version 2 (currently in beta) will remove most of the remaining suck.
I got a nice new monitor at work today - a 17" Acer LCD, 1280x1024. It's very sharp and clear on a DVI cable on my Windows box, but on a VGA cable connected to either of my office Linux boxes the picture starts halfway across the screen and nothing I do will make it move. One of my Linux boxes has DVI output, but it doesn't actually output anything, so it's not a lot of use.
I have to have access to my Linux boxes to do my job, so I spent an hour downloading SSH clients trying to find one that didn't suck. Xshell was it.
Downside: It costs $69. Oh, and you have to bang it on the head a few times to knock some of the suck out (depending on what you consider suck), but it's configurable enough that you can get it working just the way you want with a few minutes of tweaking.
Xshell gets a silver "Doesn't suck much at all" award.
Wednesday, June 15
Real Basic 2005 is out! Yay!
Real Basic is another cross-platform Basic compiler supporting Windows, Mac and Linux, just like Blitz Max. Where Blitz is aimed at game development, though, Real Basic is designed for doing businessy-type stuff, with databases and GUIs and like that. It comes with the SQLite database built in, and the Professional (read: expensive) version can connect to other databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL and Oracle. You can write multi-threaded server applications too, like, oh, say, a blogging package, and compile it to run on any of those platforms. Again, you need the Expensive Edition to write server applications and to do cross-compilation.
However, if you want to get your feet wet, Real Software have done something real nice: The Standard Edition for Linux is free. Well, right now the Linux version is still in beta, but the beta is free and it will remain free once it's released. I think that's a very smart move for Real Software.
Naturally, I've downloaded the beta and the Windows trial version, and I'll be reporting back once I've played with it a bit. And I'll likely be buying it as soon as their Australian distributor wakes up and realises there's a new version available...
Fedora Core 4 is out!
Just when I finally got everything working on Fedora Core 4 Test 3.
Well, I expect that upgrading probably won't destroy everything.
Tuesday, June 14
I forgot to (a) set my new modem to respond to pings and (b) create a NAT rule for SSH. So now I can't home from work.
(Yeah, most people are happy with being able to work from home, but I'm a nut for symmetry.)
Saturday, June 11
Had huge problems with my internet connection today. Drop outs, freezes, packet loss, data corruption, you name it. Tried everything. Checked ISP forums, no-one else seems to be having trouble. Disconnected, reconnected. Reset. Powered off. Unplugged the phone. Swapped cables around. Nothing helped. Sometimes it would work fine for, oh, several minutes, before melting down again.
In a final fit of desperation, I swapped my old reliable modem for a new ADSL2 unit I'm supposed to be testing. Of course, that meant I had to configure it from scratch with all my NAT rules and such.
And waddya know, it works. Not sure I'll recommend it though. The modem we currently sell has a wonderful diagnostic feature that tests everything that could possibly go wrong and gives a nice little report. It's an absolute life-saver. "Okay customer person, now click on Diagnostics and tell me what it says... Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Fail. Right, that means your password is wrong."
This one doesn't have anything nearly as good.
Meanwhile, somewhere along the line, some episodes of Mahoraba that I was watching last weekend managed to corrupt themselves. That makes me kind of twitchy, because the files were fine when I watched them. Things that make you go urk.
And even after I'd patched them up with Bit Torrent (which is brilliant for that - it checksums the file in 256k blocks and then only downloads the corrupted or missing parts) - even when they were all happy again, WinAmp wouldn't play them. And it did a week ago. Some digging around suggests that it's choking on malformed VBR audio, but it worked a week ago. And Media Player plays the files just fine... And a week ago, Media Player on my computer would crash on startup.
I hate computers.
Um, anyway. Cool toy of the day is Azureus, an extra-nifty Bit Torrent manager written in Java. It's just the thing for downloading your 200 hours of anime a month. It can even show you an animated diagram of all the packets going back and forth between you and the other computers in the swarm. Azureus works particularly well when you aren't suffering 90% packet loss.
And it has a little blue frog. Every computer needs a little blue frog.
Sunday, June 05
There are at least three types of DVI connector, even though they all do exactly the same thing. On the other hand, two plug-pack transformers can have exactly the same plug, even though one provides five volts and the other twenty-four.
Small electronic gadgets are surprisingly resilient in over-voltage conditions. But I still wouldn't recommend doing that.
I was recabling my computers because the space under my
dining table desk had turned into something of a R.O.U.S. nest. In the process, I managed to plug my USB hub into the plug pack for my old Logitech wireless keyboard. (Not the new old one, but the old old one.) It survived, assuming that all the lights are supposed to be lit up all the time.
I haven't got my new flashy keyboard working yet. It doesn't seem to like being connected through a USB hub, which will be a problem since I plan to get myself a little KVM switch - one of these; it supports DVI, so there should be no loss of picture quality. But if my keyboard won't work with a USB hub, it probably won't work with a KVM switch either, which kind of defeets the porpoise.*
Meanwhile, my intended new ISP turns out not to provide static IP addresses. I've always had static a IP address, since way back in 1996, so I didn't even think to check.
Damn. That will really screw things up.
* If you ever wondered why porpoises live in the ocean, well, it's because they don't have any feet.
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