Go: older entries
Fri, 26 Oct 2012
10:26 PM - Testing Windows 8
far I'm loving Windows 8. My first impressions of the consumer
preview were not that high, but it's surprisingly polished for a
new windows release.
Mon, 18 Jun 2012
Fri, 28 Oct 2011
10:08 AM - (no subject)
Caryn's going on a business trip on Sunday. I'm trying to get some paperwork straightened out with my employer. Then there's the painters and getting the house ready for the next set of rooms. Tigress is doing better, but I'll be feeding her solo next week. So much going on.
Wed, 5 Oct 2011
10:32 PM - The end of an era
Many people remember Steve Jobs as a visionary, the driving force of Apple, Inc.'s success in the last decade. He was also the owner of Pixar that transformed a small animation studio into a blockbuster success and sold it to Disney. He sat on the boards of Apple, Inc. and Disney. He had successes and failures. NeXT Computer was a computer manufacturer that made workstations for schools and businesses in the early 90s. They made some of the first computers with decent graphical user interfaces, networking, and MACH kernels. Steve sold NeXT Software (the hardware business failed) to Apple around 1997 and became the head of a company he founded once more.
The world wide web was created on a NeXT computer. The first website, web browser and web server all ran on a NeXT cube! Steve brought us the iMac, Mac OS X, iPad, Iphone, iTunes (well they bought this from a former apple employee), and the reinvention of how users consume content. Good or bad, this has affected all of us.
Steve didn't do these things alone. Many other talented people helped him. He sold the ideas to all of us.
I started my BSD project because of Steve Jobs. NeXT (and OS X) was an idea that computers could be powerful, stable and easy to use. The last six years of my life, I've spent trying to build something like OS X but for people who couldn't afford the Apple preimum. As I've learned, he had to charge that much to be successful.
Wed, 14 Sep 2011
7:58 PM - (no subject)
Just finished mounting the other hard drive in ds9. Next time I build a rack mount server, I need to remember to buy hot swap bays. This project took 5 hours and it should have been quick.
Sun, 11 Sep 2011
10:45 PM - Linux is frustraiting
I always here that one of the advantages of Linux over BSD is the hardware support. My new laptop has proven to be a problem on that front. Ubuntu installed from Windows worked somewhat ok, so I tried to install it via burned ISO. It randomly crashed during install and never would setup grub for booting. I had deleted windows, but installed BSD at the beginning of the disk.
After trying 6 times to install ubuntu, I decided to try debian. Unlike ubuntu, debian has an older kernel (2.6.32). This is older than the magic 2.6.38 where AMD added graphics support. I thought I'd be clever and go to sid which has a 3.0 kernel. Often, the screen goes totally black during boot. No virtual terminals work and gdm3 won't startup either. I can't even get into single user mode without black screens after a few seconds of booting.
2.6.32-5 will boot and work, but I don't get battery or cpu frequency information and the amd graphics driver does not work well with it. It runs, but not much acceleration. Not knowing how much battery life is left on a laptop is a big problem. It runs like it's on AC!
I also can't dim the display because i have to use a hack to work around the broken acpi video so that the backlight won't be dimmed AND the keys don't work to change brightness either.
Sound also doesn't work in 2.6.32. It did in ubuntu.
Conversely, MidnightBSD does not have working wireless and i have not tried sound. The onboard atheros nic doesn't work well in either OS, but it's more stable on BSD. I have to run 0.4-CURRENT for that. I don't have the dim problem with the backlight unless i load the acpi_video module on MidnightBSD and that's not default. There is no binary amd graphics driver so I can't go with that forever.
Fri, 2 Sep 2011
6:32 PM - AMD
I sent AMD an email today asking about Linux drivers for the new laptop that I ordered. I was told in this email that AMD does not support laptops with ANY drivers and that is up to the OEM. Further, they said they don't support Linux even though they offer Linux binary drivers.
How does that work?
5:49 PM - Computer shopping
I just purchased a laptop last evening. It's been harder to do this time than any point since I got my first computer. There are so many new technologies out that it's a lot to shuffle through. Consider that in the old days, you could look at a few specs and know one computer was better than another. Sure there were quality differences and software packages, but the hardware was easy to figure out.
Between the Intel 486 and the Pentium 4, one could look at the frequency (Mhz or Ghz) number for a rough idea that one processor was faster than another. Then around 2006, they started shipping multicore CPUs. That makes things a lot more complicated. Most people didn't know what a core was. Computer geeks even thought about SMP (symmentric multi-processing) or multiple processors in a computer, not cores. Without getting too crazy, a core is like a brain in the processor. A multicore CPU means it's got more than one brain. The computer can think about multiple problems at the same time. It can do two different tasks at once like play a game and record a movie.
To make matters more confusing, a multicore CPU doesn't mean that it's twice as fast as a single core cpu (old ones). Two nearly identical CPUs, one with 2 cores and another with 1 will not mean the 2 core is twice as fast. There's a math formula to figure out the actual best case performance, but I'll spare you that. Worse yet, if you don't run two programs at once or you don't use a multithreaded program (one program that can do more than one thing at once), you don't get a lot of use out of a multicore CPU. Windows, Mac OS and Linux can use them for their own work.
Some consumers figured out sort of what a multicore CPU was. Intel ran all those fun ads about multiplicity and what not. Then they made major improvements in chip performance, yet with lower frequency (mhz again). So the core 2 duo cpu (a confusing name because the 2 is not the number of cores, but the generation) seemed slower by numbers, but it was faster than the pentium D it replaced (multicore stuff).
So consumers couldn't trust numbers anymore. How to tell what is faster? Intel had this great idea to give them numbers. Any number within the same range would mean a chip is faster than the next. That led to other problems. A 350 might be faster than a 610. That's not intuitive. To make matters worse, Intel would sell chips to computer companies with some features missing.
As a consumer, I have to search intel's website to find out if all the features are then when looking for a computer. Many of them have weird names like hyperthreading or VT or execute disable bit. Do most people even need these things? Maybe. Hyperthreading is a hack intel came up with to trick a processor into thinking it's got 2 brains (cores) when it has 1. This means two programs can run at the same time, but slower than one program if you didn't have that feature. VT is for virtualization. If you buy a highend version of windows and want to use the XP compatibility mode, you need this. Otherwise, it's only good for IT people. Finally, execute disable bit is always a yes. It's a security feature that stops some viruses and other bad programs from working.
So now the computer industry has found a way to make things even more complicated. There is new technology where they combine a graphics card (what makes the picture on the screen) and a processor together. This is a great thing for people who don't play games. It means your laptop will have better battery life. The graphics power in these things is very low compared to discrete graphics (separate video cards) and so they're terrible for WoW, starcraft2 or portal 2. They can run these games, but not fast. The other problem with these integrated chips is that they are usually slower than chips without this feature (especially on the AMD side). AMD has decided that graphics power is more important than CPU power because many people just watch movies or whatever and don't need CPU power. Intel did the opposite and made the graphics just barely enough to watch the latest high def video, but fast CPUs. Intel calls their CPUs with this feature Sandybridge (the codename of the chip/core) and AMD calls theirs fusion with 3 series.. A, E, C (fast to slow)
So when buying a new computer, realize that every small laptop under 14 inches probably has one of these new chips in there. It's going to be not much faster than a 2 year old computer for CPU power. If you buy a 15-17 inch laptop and it's intel, you will probably get a core i3 or core i5 CPU with this feature now. If it's an AMD, you may get it (A series) or a phenom II CPU without it. The chips with it might be as slow as 1Ghz. The type of chip matters too.. i3 is <= i5 <= i7 for intel and c < e < a (no overlap)
The other big thing to look out for are solid state drives (SSD). This is a replacement for hard drives which is what your data is stored on (windows, your files, games, etc). Hard drives use magnets and spinning disks to store information. There are moving parts. You have to wait for the litle read head to get back to where it needs to be (sort of like a cassette tape, but faster) before it reads data. SSD is faster for reading information (usually) because it can go directly to the place something is rather than having the moving parts. It's also said to be more reliable because there are no moving parts. However, I've seen several go bad so ignore those claims. Solder can go and they can only be written to a fixed number of times in one spot. They do wear out. They are expensive and smaller than hard drives. If you don't need speed and you have a lot of movies, music, games, etc stick with hard drives. Eventually SSD will be better, but it's still fairly new technology.
Fri, 22 Jul 2011
9:55 AM - Some people are just plain wrong
This is a mailing list conversation between several users of the Ingres database about why auto increment primary keys are bad. I disagree with them for many reasons.
- ORM packages require a surrogate primary key. And yes, it does have to be a PK. Thank Cayenne developers for that.
- The basis of their argument is that a PK should be meaningful and a natural primary key. I understand that perspective, but many people are paranoid about exposing meaningful primary keys in web applications. I think it depends on the key and the application if it's actually a problem.
- What they want to use a PK for can be accomplished with a unique constraint. One of them acts like constraints are evil (that's what an identity column is after all). Constraints protect data and enforce business rules from poorly written applicaitons or confused developers.
- I concede that a PK used in this manner is similar to an inode number which they can't even mention by name. There's a reason file systems use them. They uniquely identify a file. Imagine that. Imagine if file system designers thought like this, you could only have one file on the ENTIRE FILE SYSTEM with the same name!
- The craziest point in there was that developers use auto increment columns or guids because that's all they know. Most developers haven't been exposed to formal database theory and DBAs are no longer experts at databases, but rather maintenence workers in the modern .COM era. It's sad as a DBA should actually do real work not little tasks. There is a trend to use database records as objects.. that's the way things are.
Sat, 9 Jul 2011
7:48 PM - (no subject)
Just finished watching Detonator. I haven't seen it in years. Patric Stewart plays a U.N. team lead that is tasked wtih stopping two bombs from detonating. It's a rather funny film. Ted Levine is also in it, but he looks quite a bit younger compared to Monk. Of course, it's ten years before Monk too.
Caryn decided to take a nap rather than watch the film. LOL.
Tue, 28 Jun 2011
10:48 PM - (no subject)
Crazy. I had a 770GB log file on a server today. It actually filled up the file system. Very messy.
Mon, 27 Jun 2011
7:40 PM - U2 Concert
Caryn and I went to the U2 concert yesterday at MSU. It was a great show, but it's obvious they're getting tired of playing the songs from the latest album. They just flew back from a music festival overseas and I suspect they were tired. Several of the songs were played rather quickly.
They still sounded awesome though.
The concert ended around 11PM, but it took us until 2AM to get home. Rough night. We also had some weird issues with the venue. They didn't allow purses so we had to walk clear to the other side of the campus to take Caryn's purse back to the Car. I was very tired just from walking. Not used to pesky exercise.
7:37 PM - Server Upgrade
I just got the RAM for the servers. Had a few glitches. ds9 was a breeze. I just popped it in and turned it back on.. 12GB RAM. Stargazer, on the other hand, won't boot with the original HP memory chip + the new kingston ram. I had to live with 8GB of RAM in that one :)
Caryn's new RAM came too. We're just too tired to pop it in right now.
Mon, 30 May 2011
2:13 PM - Wii problems
Yesterday, I noticed my wii power light was not on. I checked the power cables and everything was hooked up snug. I tried changing outlets with no luck.
I went in search of a new power supply. Amazon has many marked "official" with bad reviews about knock offs. I stumbled upon the "reset" solution. A wii power adapter has a thermal fuse that must cool down. Letting it sit unplugged for 30 minutes and reconnecting it solved the problem and saved me $20.
Tue, 17 May 2011
8:56 AM - Updated magus results
This magus run is looking a bit more promising. We've still get several important mports to fix and many more to update.
Mon, 16 May 2011
9:26 AM - Linux market share around the world
Linux is primarily used for servers and embedded systems, but some users use it on the desktop. One website has compiled a list of numbers by region as well as the top twenty countries running Linux on the desktop.
Linux is most popular in Europe, but the #1 country running Linux is Cuba.
I am not surprised by the observation that the US is at .73% market share. I only know one person running Linux as their primary desktop OS. College students tend to do it more frequently and there was that brief period where netbooks ran it.
Sun, 15 May 2011
4:27 PM - Buying a computer
After reading a NYT piece on tech purchasing advice, I've decided to share my own perspective on purchasing a computer.
Most PC users have very modest needs. Typically, surfing websites, playing simple games, watching video, word processing, and listening to music are the limits of the average person. Almost any computer sold is capable of these tasks without any serious performance problems.
A first step in buying a computer is determining your needs. Will you run any software that requires higher than average computing power such as games, high end video or photography applicaitions, CAD, software development or engineering applications? Most people will answer no to this question. That means you don't need to spend over $650 on a PC or $1300 on a Mac. If you answered yes, determine what type of applications you will run. Games require a moderate CPU and a good graphics card in the radeon hd or geforce family. CAD or design applications work best with a workstation class card such as the ati firegl or nvidia quadro line. Most people can get away with a budget graphcis card such as the integrated Intel graphics found on most consumer PCs.
Most of the public can get away with a $300 laptop. I'm typing on one right now. In my case, I am a power user but I have a desktop computer for those tasks. My laptop is very modest with a single core processor (Intel celeron 2.2Ghz), 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. I purchased this computer over a year ago and it's still working well. I can stream netflix, play a few low resource games, and even run virtualization software (vmware player and virtualbox) for light software testing. It's great for word processing. It's a bit slow for writing software, but I have used it for work in the past. A low cost laptop does not necessarily mean netbook either. You can get a netbook or tablet for $300, but this is a full sized (15.6 inch display) toshiba laptop with a dvd burner.
If you are a Mac user, I'd recommend the 13in MacBook Pro or the Macbook Air. These systems are constructed rather well and tend to hold up. The regular MacBook is an OK machine as well, but the MBP is a better value. An iMac is acceptable as a desktop, but they are difficult to fix. Either way, get applecare. Apple's newer systems are hard to get into and not intended for user servicing or upgrades. You can usually upgrade RAM, but that's it. Even a battery replacement requires a trip to the apple store. If you plan on upgrading an iMac, I recommend going to an auto parts store and purchasing a suction cup to remove dents from an older car. These are great at grabbing the cover over the LCD display. You will also need some unusual screwdrivers were are under $2 at Sears. I replaced the hard drive in an iMac in about an hour using online tutorials to avoid damaging the display, camera, etc.
Sat, 7 May 2011
9:06 PM - Bad luck with gaming
Like most gamers, i've found the PSN outage to be irritating. Today, I've run into another problem. I bought a copy of Crysis via Steam and the cd key doesn't work. Looking at a forum post, I found that many people are having this problem. In fact, there are 17 pages of people bitching about this problem. EA admitted to some it was an issue with their activation servers. I've contacted steam/value about it.
They're running an EA weekend deal where many EA games are on sale. I've been avoiding EA games for some time due to the activation issues with newer SIMS games and several other titles. I finally broke down and bought Crysis because I've been told it's awesome and it was only $10 for the game. Now I don't get to play the game. It may clear up in a few days, but it ruins my plans for tonight. Bummer.
Lesson learned: don't expect to play EA games after you buy them.
Guess who's fault it might be... sony! http://www2.securom.com/ They make the DRM.
8:36 PM - The Social Network
I just finished watching The Social Network. The movie is an interesting look at a startup. Based on my own limited experience in Silicon Valley, I'd have to agree with the portrayal of the office environment shown at the end of the movie.
Funny thing is I agree with the movie zuckerberg regarding the difference between "The Facebook" and the Harvard site proposed. The latter ended up targeting a large audience and was in fact a different site. In the computer industry, it's common to rip off ideas. Look at Mac OS, Windows, KDE, or Gnome. Consider the similarities with various smart phones interfaces.
Was he a dick? Yes. Is it different from Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak or any other co-founders of large companies? Not so much.
It would be interesting to know what the movie got wrong.
Sun, 24 Apr 2011
3:02 PM - ipv6
I've been working on getting reverse DNS setup for my ipv6 block. I have a ipv6 tunnel setup on stargazer that lets me access IPV6 based websites. The process was a little annoying to setup, but it's worth it.
For those of you who don't know what IPV6 is, let me explain. Whenever you get on the Internet, you are assigned a unique address (called an IP ADDRESS). Geeks call these IPV4 addresses. We ran out of them. Many years ago, we saw this coming and came up with a longer address type called IPV6. It gives us a lot more IP addresses (32 hex numbers long).
To make things more complicated, there were hacks to get around the IPV4 problem. One of them is called NAT. Most of you use it everyday and don't even know it. If you have a router at home (for wifi maybe) and it's connected to a cable modem or DSL modem, it's probably using NAT. What this does is take one real IP address and link it to a bunch of internal ones that aren't used on the internet. This supposedly makes you more secure as well, similar to a firewall but it's really not.
Why should you care about this?
Most of your old computers can't do IPV6. Your blu-ray player, game consoles, cell phones, or other things connected to the Internet might not work with IPV6. It's been very slow to get people to switch but when it happens it's going to be as bad or worse as the TV transition. All those routers and modems you got from the cable/dsl providers might not work and you have to get new ones. You'll have to make changes to your computer setup to use them. You might not get to see everything on the Internet from this point on. Some websites in asia are ipv6 only and it will happen here next.
Until you can get IPV6 at home, you can use a service called a tunnelbroker to see the whole internet again. The one I like is called sixxs.net. It's COMPLETELY FREE. You run a program on your pc or mac and you can see the whole internet again.
Go: older entries