Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

30 Aug 2005

Su Doku

I've discovered Su Doku. Apparently the puzzles originated in Switzerland, but only became popular in Japan within the past few decades, hence the Japanese name for them. In the last few years they have arrived in the UK, just about every British newspaper has one, and there are plenty of "collected" puzzle books to choose from too. They are even in Linux magazines, Linux Format is offering a £500 bounty for a nice Linux program to generate and solve them for you.


28 Aug 2005

South West Trains...!

Yesterday we went for a bike ride in the New Forest. Being environmentally friendly we used public transport to get there. Carrying a bike is quite restricted on South West Trains, so when I bought my tickets, I also got reservations for the bikes on every train we were going to use.

Suffice to say we got half way there, and a train arrived, that was full. Even though we had reservations for the train, they hadn't bothered to tell the guard, so the train was full of bikes. Even though we showed him our reservations, he refused to throw the unreserved bikes off and put ours on...


Logical Volume Management

Today I installed Debian on my old desktop system. It's far too low powered to be used as a desktop system anymore, so it's become a "sandbox" system. My main aim was to try out LVM, which turned out to be very easy to setup from within the di. The box has two only small disks, so it's useful to join them together into a single logical volume.

After the install, I upgraded the box from "Sarge" to "Sid". My main desktop system is running "Etch", but it's nice to have a sandbox system living on the bleeding edge, so I know whats in the pipeline for the Etch box.


26 Aug 2005

Eye Candy

One of the annoying things about Windows XP, is the excessive eye-candy that makes the GUI run like treacle on a cold day. I've turned it down, and it now runs a tad faster, but nothing like the speed of Windows NT4 or Debian/KDE.

KDE is popular with some people because like Windows XP there are lots of fancy GUI tricks. On the whole I find most GUI eye-candy tricks annoying. I like KDE because I can tune it - turning most of the eye-candy off. One of the reasons I don't like GNOME is because tuning the GUI is harder.


24 Aug 2005

Using Microsoft Windows XP

Today I used Microsoft Windows XP for the first time in anger. I've used it once or twice before, but not for more than 5 minutes at a time. I've used a wide range of Microsoft's Windows versions in the past, from 2.x, through to 2000, so I'm not a Windows newbie. At home I run Debian/KDE and at work Windows 2K. In comparison I must say that XP is ugly, awkward and very sluggish, when compared with both 2K and KDE.

I'll turn off more of the annoying eye-candy and get cygwin and PuTTY installed, making the box almost usable. While 2K was a minor GUI step up over NT4, so far I think that XP is very much a retrograde step.


22 Aug 2005

Even Firefox Has Bad Days

This weekend Debian released a security patch to the Mozilla Firefox browser that fixes a number of security bugs. As I continue to preach "all software has bugs, and all software must be kept up to date", I upgraded the version on a computer. This morning I received a plaintive email informing me that Firefox was broken, so this evening I've been forced to roll back one version as the most recent version of Firefox for Debian AMD64/Sarge segfaults when you close tabs.


21 Aug 2005

Windows Users are Masochists

An interesting article by John Naughton in the Observer/Guardian: "The worm that didn't turn up". He has a point, any one still using Windows after being told time, and time again that there are superior alternatives, must be a masochist.


Setting up CUPS Again

I tried to set up CUPS on my Debian 3.1 "Sarge" server once, it refused to work with the USB interface to my Epson printer, so I gave up and installed the BSD line printer daemon instead. When I set up my new Debian "Etch" workstation I tried CUPS again, this time it worked perfectly via the parallel interface.

Today I tried to configure a second Debian "Sarge" system to print using CUPS and USB. This time it worked okay but nothing came out of the printer. I fiddled around, quite frustrated, checking permissions and Googling for the error message. Then I tried turning up the CUPS error logging, from "info" to "debug". Magically I saw that it was missing a postscript component, which was quickly installed by APT and now it seems to work perfectly.

Windows users usually smile a little smug smile at this point. I must confess that I've often found Windows integrated or monolithic design to be more incompatible with it's self than Unix's modular design.


20 Aug 2005

More Serious Holes

It's not been Microsoft's week. First they had the catastrophic remote exploit via the PnP engine in Windows 2000. Lots of very foolish high profile media companies appear to have been infected, even though a patch was available, and all the experts did issue warnings that it could get nasty.

Just as the dust starts to settle, another gaping hole has been found, this time in Internet Explorer. Again it's a remote exploit so the user doesn't have to do anything to get infected.

All software has bugs - sometime serious - but Microsoft does seem to have more than their fair share...


17 Aug 2005

Latest Microsoft Hole

Today was high tension at work. Our US parent company was infected with the latest Microsoft worms spreading via the latest critical security holes announced last week. Our operations in the UK were largely unaffected, we have more XP clients than 2K, and as a general rule being a smaller operation IT are able to keep our machines up to date faster.

At home I run Debian GNU/Linux on everything, so everything was safe and sound without any intervention. I'm not complacent though, I check my boxen every day, and keep them nice and trim - in line with the Debian security servers.


16 Aug 2005

Debian's Birthday

According to my calendar, today is Debian's 12th Birthday.

Happy Birthday!


14 Aug 2005

Blog Of Blogs

My Local LUG now has a Planet blog feed aggregator. They have added my use Perl blog but I need fix this Blosxom feed before it can be incorporated.

So if you want to know what people in the Hampshire LUG are up to go here and have a look.


Blog Of Blogs

My Local LUG now has a Planet blog feed aggregator. They have added my use Perl blog but I need fix this Blosxom feed before it can be incorporated.

So if you want to know what people in the Hampshire LUG are up to go here and have a look.


11 Aug 2005

Supermarket Plastic Bags

I've just returned from my summer holiday in Breizh (Brittany, France). It was interesting to note that the supermarkets now no longer give out plastic bags, you can buy a bag or have an old packaging box, but the days of the free plastic bag are no more.

Sadly this is not the case in the UK, my locally Sainsbury's still try to "scan'n'pack" my meager shopping, badly into a zillion plastic bags. It's a constant struggle to get them to not do this and let me pack my own shopping, in my own bag. If I let them pack, the soft stuff goes to the bottom, the heavy stuff on top, and any meat invariably goes on top of something you don't cook - such as salad.


Kaella/Debian for French Students

According to ZD Net UK French students are to be given open source software on CDs, including a Debian/Knoppix based live CD from the Kaella project.


10 Aug 2005

DCC Alliance

The DCC Alliance has formally arrived. It is a collection of Linux distributors and experts that based their distribution on the Debian project's GNU/Linux.

By agreeing a core sub-set of key packages from the vast pool in the Debian project, and a standard system layout/configuration, they can guarantee software compatibility across distributions. Software vendors need only tests against the "DCC", and be confident that their software will then run on a wide range of "DCC" Debian systems.

There are several key players in the DCC Alliance, but alas some major players such as Canonical/ubuntu are still missing. Even so it represents a major step in helping Debian into more enterprise roles.


Linux and Perl spotted in Brittany

I've recent returned from a cycling and camping holiday in Brittany France. While buying provisions in a small local supermarket I was surprised to spot a French GNU/Linux magazine nestling on a shelf of Windows magazines. A quick flick through even revealed a Perl article by the Paris Moungueurs.