Archive | October, 2003

Jon Udel and Joe Hewitt: Longhorn’s UI a replacement for… everything?

Replace and defend. Reading the Longhorn SDK docs is a disorienting experience. Everything’s familiar but different. Consider these three examples: ” From Jon’s Radio

Jon cites Joe Hewitt’s blog where Joe says:

“This means that Microsoft may be attempting to simultaneously obsolete HTML, CSS, DOM, XUL, SVG, SMIL, Flash, PDF.”

Why is Microsoft confusing innovation with obliteration? Read my blog subtitle: Interoperable, competition, working well with others. This is a time for evolution and not revolution. Microsoft’s arrogance is astounding.

Doc Searl’s blogging on aurorae

From The Doc Searls Weblog: “Storm of Light.

Aurora from space

NASA’s October 2003 Aurora Gallery has some amazing photographs of the aurora show that the current series of solar storms has been putting on. Here’s a shot from the USAF Defense Meteorological Satellite Program that shows auroras that are not only brighter than the city lights below them, but blurring the city images as well. If you look at the yellow outlines of state, provincial and Great Lake boundaries, you’ll see that the brightest auroras ran in a line from Southern Quebec and Ontario through Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota ÷ right over the cities of Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Milwaukee and Sioux Falls.

That was at 0214 UTC on 30 October, or 9:14pm, EST in the U.S. and Canada on 29 October. In other words, the night before last. Since auroras run up to 800 miles high, they are visible up to 1000 miles away or more. Which is why we have sightings as far south as Florida and Texas.

Though subsiding, the latest storm is still going on (as of dawn here in Santa Barbara). According to the NOAA POES Auroral Activity Map, there is still intense activity where it’s still dark: over the Northern and Yukon Territories of Canada, nearly all of Alaska, the entire northern border of Russia, and the southern reaches of New Zealand and Australia.

NASA has a terrific page on Space Weather that includes photos of auroras from space and 9MB movie titled Animiation of CME impact on Earth’s magnetosphere. A great watch if you have the bandwidth.”

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

External hard drive solutions

I’m looking for external hard drive solutions for making disk images and backups of a couple of our office laptops. Any opinions on 4200/5400/7200 rpm and bus-powered vs. transformer-powered would be welcomed. Tom’s hardware had a good review in “Mobile Data Storage: Up To 160 GB via USB and FireWire,” “External, But How? Mobile Storage Solutions Compared,” and “Smart and Simple: Portable 2.5″ Hard Drives from Fujitsu and Valueplus.”

My conclusion so far is that Firewire (built into one of the laptops and available in PC Card for the other) is the best way to go, and a 3.5″ drive the best choice. A fan is wise, and I think 7200 rpm is attractive, but worry about the noise and heat.

Any experiences would be welcomed. Epinions has some relevant reviews. A package deal like this at – 160 Gb, 7200 rpm, 2 Mb cache in an ADS Firewire/USB2 case for $270 – looks like a pretty good deal.

User-Hostile Interfaces

FoxBlogScriptError.GIFA friend let me know that my page was throwing a scripting error in Internet Explorer. I hadn’t thought of trying that – it works okay in Mozilla and Opera. Here’s the dialog box. Notice the editbox on the bottom half? You can’t copy the text from the dialog. Why would you? Perhaps you want to log the error. Or post it to a newsgroup seeking help. Or search online for the error. Or send an email to Craig letting him know he, too, has a scripting error. If you don’t want to let people edit it, why would you put it in an editbox? Stupid user interface design.

Cringely: How Microsoft’s Misunderstanding of Open Source Hurts Us All

“This week, speaking at a Gartner conference in Orlando, Florida, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said some fascinating things about Linux and about Open Source software in general. And thanks to those remarks and the blinding realization they caused for me, I finally understand exactly why Microsoft doesn’t understand Open Source.”

Cringely always makes interesting reading. Listen and watch Ballmer’s statements here.

NYT: Amazon Offer Worries Authors (but not all for the same reason)

Amazon Offer Worries Authors. From David K. Kirkpatrick of New York Times: Technology: “ has introduced a feature that lets users search for specific words or phrases in a database of the texts of 120,000 books, drawing skepticism from an authors’ group. ”

Amazon has offered to remove books whose authors do not want to participate. That’s even worse. Search on “Visual FoxPro SourceSafe” and you get a list of 48 books on Visual Basic, Visual InterDev, SQL Server, MSDE and even Dreamweaver. Hello? How about a book on SourceSafe? There are three, including my own, and mine has several pages on Visual FoxPro.

I suspect that Amazon hasn’t indexed the Hentzenwerke Publishing book, and hence we are sidelined. Indexing 120,000 books means marginalizing the great variety formerly available from Amazon. I am disappointed.

Zap your what?

From Scripting News: “I’m at the Zap Your PRAM conference in Cavendish, PEI. ”

That sounds like quite the get-together. Several friends and collegues have kicked around the idea for years that we need to have a conference and not invite attendees, just speakers, or participants. Sounds like what these folks are doing. I’ll be interested in how they get the dynamics to work out. It can be difficult when everyone in the group is a Type A extrovert.

Linux Work

So, this weekend I’ve got some time to spare and dedicated it to restoring my Linux laptop to life. I foolishly tried to update to RedHat 9 from 8 without considering the limitations of a 6 Gb hard drive with 2 Gb already dedicated to another OS. I was surprised that RedHat crashed the machine, rather than gracefully declined, but it left the machine a mess, with two hard drive partitions full to overflowing, and an OS that would boot and then lock up attempting to start X Windows.

My first urge was to just blow away everything and start again. However, that really isn’t the way to learn anything. Instead, I took it as a learning experience. What if a client had a locked-up or corrupted machine, but needed to recover some precious files? Looked at in this light, I hadn’t encountered a problem, but rather an educational opportunity.

I used a Knoppix 3.3 CD to boot into a working Linux OS, and then followed the Repair FAQ on the Knoppix site to clean some space off each partition. I also used the RedHat 9 CDs in “repair” mode to clear off still more files, test the file systems for integrity, and get the system to restart.

There were a number of problems with my last set of installs, and I set off to fix them. First, I got a few of the basic services restarted. I reconfigured the networking software to use the docking station’s ethernet rather than the wireless card. Once I was satisfied that was working properly, I reconfigured TCP/IP for a static address and programmed the router to allow minimal services to be exposed to the outside world – port 8080 for Apache and 23 for SSH. Over Apache, I’m running Twiki, a wiki written in Perl, and I use port 23 for a secure tunnel for shell work and also to run a remote graphical session via VNC.

Next, I tried to set up Samba, and ran into some problems. The RedHat Network insists the latest Samba for my distribution is 2.2.7-5.8.0, while I had somehow installed a 2.2.8a on the system, I suspect by downloading the wrong version directly from the Samba site. The installer wanted the Redhat 8 CDs, which I had given away, so BitTorrent to the rescue, and I was able to download and burn a new set of disks from Uninstalling the wrong version and finally getting the correct version installed was an education in the Redhat Package Manager (RPM) command line, but I am up and running.

Today, the goal is to configure MySQL and the MyODBC software so that I can read and write MySQL data from my Windows workstation. Onward and upward!

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.