Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

30 Sep 2005

Next OPALS Meeting

This weekend I need to decide the date for the next OPALS meeting. I have to email the membership, but the candidate date looks like it's going to be Friday 21st October 2005 at 7:30pm.


29 Sep 2005

SAP Application Server

We have changed our SAP DB at work. It was IBM's Informix, then it was to be IBM's DB/2, now it's to be Oracle. Rather than chop and change, we are actually going to upgrade our current Informix system, and then wait an see regarding Oracle.

The up shot of all this, is that I have to rebuild the Linux application servers from scratch. They run Red Hat Enterprise, so it's pretty easy to do, it's just cold standing in the server room during the initial stages.


Windows XP Not Ready For The Desktop

Yesterday I tried to set up a Microsoft Windows XP system for a friend. I was amazed at the shear volume of updates required, and the number of reboots necessary to get the machine close to current specification.

Things were not helped by the constant nagging from MSN and other annoying programs all set to run be default, that he has no interest in. I've now turned off most of the eye candy, and removed things from the startup folder, but it's still painfully slow to use, and I still need to hunt down and destroy MSN.

It will probably take another 3 or 4 hours to strip the machine down, and set it up in a half way usable condition. It's quite scary that this machine was apparently "set-up" by the vendor and ready for use.

I know that Linux/Unix has it's problems on the desktop, but it's considerably more user friendly than Windows XP, and unlike Windows it's getting better day by day.


28 Sep 2005

Dynamic DNS

For a while I've been trying to get BIND9 server and DHCP3 server to talk to each other. So when a new system is added to my home network, the DHCP server gives it an IP address, and then updates the DNS.

In theory it's all very simple, but it was harder that I thought, not because it's hard to do, rather there wasn't much documentation out there to read from. Once I found some docs, it turned out to be quite simple really.

Now I've got it all working, I need to write it up so that others can do it...


27 Sep 2005

Failure To Execute

This week has seen Microsoft and Google celebrate their birthdays. Both firms are phenomenally wealthy, and have made their founders richer than most people could imagine.

What is particularly interesting is Microsoft's abysmal technical track record, which is not reflected in their vast fortune. The company has constantly failed to anticipate changes in technology, innovate anything of merit, or actually execute and deliver anything on time. It has however benefited from fragmented corporate enemies, the gift by IBM of the PC operating system monopoly, and relentless aggressive & illegal business practices.

It's new version of Windows - Vista - is already 2 years late, and missing most of it's features. In the past Microsoft has been able to survive it's failure to deliver, but this time GNU/Linux is quietly waiting in the wings. When Microsoft trips this time, it won't be it's weak and divided enemies that allow it to escape, this time it could be the coup de grāce.


24 Sep 2005

Clueless Music Executives...

Thanks to Ken Fisher we know that a spokes person for the Finnish branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry believes:

"Now, we need to understand that listening to music on your computer is an extra privilege. Normally people listen to music on their car or through their home stereos... If you are a Linux or Mac user, you should consider purchasing a regular CD player."

The CD player in my PC has a small "Compact Disc" logo on it. That means it is a certified CD player. Any normal CD should play just fine, just as it will on my domestic CD player. I don't condone theft, but the music industry must accept that broken non-standard disks that may or may not play on a given device isn't going to be a commercial success, and will probably encourage crime..

Ironically this statement is even worse than it appears at face value. Many car CD players are based on computer transports, not domestic hi-fi transports and are just as likely to not play the various broken DRMed disks as my computer...


22 Sep 2005

Blosxom pubDates

By default Blosxom doesn't publish RSS feeds with a <pubDate> in them. This makes using the RSS feeds from Blosxom a bit difficult. A fellow Hants-LUGer has published a simple hack pubDate which fixes the problem.

This is really useful, and means that the this RSS feed can now be used at planet hantslug.


Blosxom pubDates

By default Blosxom doesn't publish RSS feeds with a <pubDate> in them. This makes using the RSS feeds from Blosxom a bit difficult. A fellow Hants-LUGer has published a simple hack pubDate which fixes the problem.

This is really useful, and means that the this RSS feed can now be used at planet hantslug.


Maypole Done!

An embarrassingly long time ago I started to work on a Maypole application for a colleague at work. When I allocated some time in May this year I made progress, however after that I was unable to commit to the project until this week. I've now got it all done.

A manager may complain about the length of time it's taken to get this far, but considering how few hours I've actually been able to allocate to the project over the months, it's actually not taken that long to do...


21 Sep 2005

New Technology

Things move at lightening speeds in the Internet age. No sooner do you get the hang of things, but something new comes along and changes everything.

AJAX is a very new and very cool technology. Like all the best ideas it's very simple and obvious - once someone suggests it. It's something I need to look at very carefully, it could have several useful applications at work...


18 Sep 2005

Spreading Memes

From the Planet Debian...


Countries I have visited:

create your own visited countries map.







States in the USA I have visited:

create your own visited states map.






15 Sep 2005

Am I a Unix Bigot?

Yesterday we had a meeting at work, and some top web consultant said that we are going to use a Microsoft product for enterprise web content management. I could not control my self and blurted out a laugh in front of senior management. When challenged, I had to state is as polite as terms as possible, that Microsoft products while fine desktop client systems, are not enterprise class, and do not make good server platforms.

Our corporate server web server runs on Windows 2003 and use IIS. According to Netcraft it has a maximum uptime of 6 days. Our division's web server is Apache running on Linux, it has an uptime of 438 days (as of today). Since going live over two years ago, our server has been rebooted once to apply a kernel and SSL/SSH patch and once to apply another fix...

Windows is just an expensive toy...


14 Sep 2005

Blosxom in the Press

Today I discovered that a fellow Hants-LUGer is using Blosxom for his journal Linuxlore. I had no sooner sent him an email to ask about his implementation of RSS feeds, than I spotted an article about Blosxom on NewsForge: Blogging with Blosxom.


Blosxom in the Press

Today I discovered that a fellow Hants-LUGer is using Blosxom for his journal Linuxlore. I had no sooner sent him an email to ask about his implementation of RSS feeds, than I spotted an article about Blosxom on NewsForge: Blogging with Blosxom.


11 Sep 2005

Computer Security

Marcus J. Ranum has a thought provoking essay on his site: The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security. There are some interesting comments about it in Bruce Schneier's security blog. Both the essay and the comments are well worth reading.


10 Sep 2005

SAP Support Packs

Today I started to load the Support Packs into the SAP system at work. As it's a Saturday and I don't want to spend all day at work watching it load the packs I'm doing it from home.

Work provide a MS Windows XP notebook computer, which connects to the work network via VPN tool running over the public Internet. Using XP is painful, it's so slow to do anything, I almost feel sorry for it, paint dries faster than this machine can do anything.

To be able to do anything vaguely productive, I SSH from the work's notebook machine to my desktop system, creating a SSH tunnel, then use KRemote Desktop and VNC to run my work desktop system over the SSH tunnel and VPN link.

It's all horribly convoluted, but the less I have to deal with Windows XP, the easier everything is. Anyway one system was upgraded okay today, tomorrow I'll do the other one.


09 Sep 2005

X.Org

I'm running Debian Etch as my desktop system. Every few days I update the software on it, with the latest versions. When it's a big change I cringe and hide behind the sofa in case something breaks horribly. So far running testing, I've been caught out once in 12 months but it's still stressful changing big pieces of a working system.

Today I upgraded from XFree86 to X.Org. I was worried that the funky nvidia drivers would break, and I'd be left without a functioning GUI. After a few minutes it's all done, and X is running again.

Many thanks the the excellent work done by the Debian people!


07 Sep 2005

Microsoft Software is for Dinosaurs

According to an advert in a paper I saw, if you run Microsoft Office 2000 then you are a dinosaur and you need to "evolve". I don't think they mean to OpenOffice.org on Linux, but I couldn't think of any thing else more obvious...


04 Sep 2005

Hants-LUG

Yesterday was our September LUG meeting. It went very well, I met some very nice people, and I was able to give away some old PC kit that was gathering dust.

I introduced some people into the QEMU generic emulator. It works very well on modern PCs with plenty of spare clock cycles. One person installed Debian into his SUSE box, and another installed Debian into their ubuntu box.

Today I completed the network stage, so I was able to upgrade my virtual systems directly of the network. At the moment I'm downloading a Ubuntu "Breezy" to see what that looks like.


02 Sep 2005

QEMU

One of the things I miss since upgrading from Windows to Linux is one particular computer game. Though Debian GNU/Linux comes with many fine free computer games, and modern games are starting to appear for Linux, the one I wanted to play would not run under wine so I've not played it in over a year.

QEMU is a generic open source processor emulator, which can be used to create a virtual guest computer - of many possible types - onto which a whole new operating system can be installed. In my case I've been able to install Windows NT4, and the game I wanted into a virtual machine, and play the game perfectly well.


01 Sep 2005

Five Mistakes GNU/Linux Neophytes Make

There is an interesting article by Jem Matzan on Linux.com called Five mistakes GNU/Linux neophytes make. It's quite interesting, and makes some valid points.

I have to disagree with the first point, "Distro Choice". Jem suggests five starting Linux Distros to use: SUSE; Linspire; Xandros; Fedora Core or Mandriva. The most important factor in choosing your initial distro, is help, if you can get help form a friend or colleague with distro "X", then that's the one you should have a look at first, even if it's not that new user friendly.

Many people have posted to the list suggesting all kinds of other distros, but to he honest, most of these posts miss the same point, it doesn't matter which distro you pick, it matters what help you can get.

I stand by my article The Best Linux Distribution For Users New To Linux, help is really critical to get you going.