DAT Stuff

Random thoughts and observations from DAT

Archive for the month “August, 2005”

Debian Observations

Ok, so I’ve had it installed for less than a day, and I’ve got very little actually installed on it, but I’ve noticed a few things:

  • Grub is very cool. Not something the average consumer would want to mess with, but a great geek tool for controlling startup.
  • I may not have noticed this if not for Grub, but the brand new stable release of Debian, named sarge, uses a Linux kernel that’s a year old instead of a newer stable kernel. I’m sure they’ve got their reasons; I know that just because the 2.6 kernel is considered stable doesn’t mean it won’t cause problems in the Debian distribution. Or it could be just fine; true stability takes time to discover. I was just surprised…
  • Knoppix seemed much better at identifying hardware and installing appropriate drivers. I never had to tell it what type of video card I had or when I was attaching my external firewire drive. When I booted, it just recognized them and got them running. (I haven’t tried the firewire drive yet, but on my first installation I was asked what video chipset I had. I took a guess but based on the fact that XWindow support couldn’t start, I guess I got it wrong).
  • Installing Debian

    Well, Debian 3.1 (sarge) is up and running, with a dual boot to Windows XP Professional. This post is pretty long and detailed, so read more only if you want that kind of detail.
    Read more…

    For my next trick…

    The hard drive on my Dell died (which is a whole separate story that I had hoped to tell, but may never get around to it). For the past few weeks, I’ve been running Knoppix on that computer. I started using Knoppix in an attempt to recover some of the data from the hard drive, but last week I even disconnected the drive and have been using the computer without a hard drive (the last time I did that was before Windows 3.1, I think).

    Today I bought a new drive (an 80 GB Seagate for $36 after rebates) and just finished installing it. It went rather well, considering it was only the second time I’ve attempted such a feat. The first time (many years ago) ended with calling in a professional to do the job, but this time seemed much easier; technology must have improved dramatically since that failed attempt.

    One thing I hope to do this time around is set up a Linux server. I chose Debian, partly because that’s what I have at Dreamhost, partly because it’s free and has tons of packages available. I’m going to start with a dual boot configuration, because I have some tools that I need to run on Windows (until I find a Linux equivalent). Once I get things set up, I hope to run Linux almost exclusively. I’m also planning to implement Xen virtualization. I’m mostly doing it just to learn it, but I hope to have one virtual “production” server visible on the internet and another as a playground. More details will follow…

    My goal: device independence

    The recent failure of my home computer has gotten me thinking about the way I use technology. I love computers, and would probably have more if I didn’t have a wife that hates clutter and only appreciates technology when it provides benefit that far outweighs the cost with little or no work involved.

    I have a few gadgets, but I don’t use any of them effectively. The main reason is that they don’t work together, and I’ve been too lazy to do anything about it.

    For example, my main PDA is a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500, which runs Linux and has a good UI and applications, even if you don’t delve down into the Linux underneath. If you choose to get into the Linux aspect of it, you can do some amazing things — I even got apache and PHP running on it recently. But I still carry around my HandSpring Visor, because I can’t easily export the passwords from an application on that device into the password safe I use on the Zaurus. I would write a program myself, but Java support on the Zaurus is outdated, and setting up a C++ development environment on my computer to support the Zaurus seems to be more trouble than it’s worth.

    Then there’s the matter of synchronizing between the devices. I’ve got my contact list and calendar on the Zaurus; I’ve got the same information in Outlook on my PC (though I can’t get at it right now); I’ve got a subset of contacts in my webmail program; I’ve got some of my contacts on my mobile phone; and I’ve got a whole different calendar and set of contacts on my work PC. Some of these don’t support synchronization, and I’m sceptical of the ones that do — my experience with synchronizing data has been troublesome, often deleting or duplicating items. And achieving a combined view through synchronization (home PC – PDA – work PC) seems impossible.

    To boost my productivity, I need persistent access to a centralized data store. I need to keep my data on a server that is accessible through the internet, and manage it with application(s)

    Free Flash Tool

    I discovered what looks like a great free tool for developing Flash components and web sites, called OpenLaszlo. Based on my very cursory investigation, applications can be developed using just a text editor, but they create very nice Flash output. An eclipse plugin is also available from IBM.

    The OpenLaszlo SDK uses a servlet, which I couldn’t run at my current host, but I discovered EATJ, which offers free basic Tomcat hosting. Laszlo Systems also has a Developer Zone, with forums and free non-commercial hosting at mylaszlo.com.

    Links around the world

    The internet continues to amaze me.

    Tonight I decided to search Technorati, to see if anyone’s talking about my family. I was surprised to see someone in the UK (Jasmine) mention my brother Grant — and it appears Jasmine is a bit of a celebrity there, doing TV and magazine interviews. But this isn’t the first time Grant has been mentioned on far-flung web sites. If you search Google for his name (quoted to further refine the results), you’ll find about 50 sites, from countries around the world, all related to his cubing achievements.

    He took an interest in Rubik’s cube and has become quite good at it. I don’t think he’s won any tournaments with the original 3×3 cube, but he had the best times for the 4×4 and 5×5 at a tournament in January, and he set a world record for the Megaminx in 2003 that wasn’t broken until this year. He still holds the American record for that puzzle.

    Simply amazing — that a puzzle invented over 20 years ago and relegated to the history books by much of the world still has such an active following, and can get a last name as uncommon as ours published around the world.

    datguy.net changes

    Well, I decided to make this the default page for datguy.net. All of the links from the old index page should be listed here, but let me know if something is missing.

    I’m curious how this will impact my listing on Google. I also submitted my site feed to Google¬†yesterday, and noticed that Technorati learned about this site within the past hour from the link on RhonDave news. I’ll have to check again, but as of this posting, my datguy.net listing was pushed down to the 11th page of results on Google!


    Will the real datguy please stand up?

    I was curious where I stood on Google, so I did a search for datguy. I was disappointed to find that I didn’t even make the first page (unlike rhondave, where our sites dominate the first page). I decided to look at some of the others using the name…

    On datguy.com, datguy is not one person, but two. They’re involved in the music industry and they’ve got a clever logo, so I guess they deserve several of the top spots.

    Some guy on Epinions that wrote one review in 2002 hangs on to another top listing, and there’s a user on the Easy Worship forums.

    My first listing in the results is for datguy.net, in the middle of the second page. Google’s copy is even up to date — I updated it recently with links to most of my sites (including this one).

    There’s a “bluntsmoka” in Michigan, a Disc Sportster in Manitoba, and an artist in Singapore.

    The DarkGalaxy profile is mine, but the DatGuy in the VW Club of South Africa is not me.

    I think the one on Experts Exchange is me, but I haven’t been on there in at least a year.

    Then there are a Chinese student in Ontario, a dominant male in Texas (I’ll skip the link on this one), a single Irishman, and a “Clan Member” in New Zealand.

    It goes on, but I won’t.

    Temporal Anomalies: 12 Monkeys

    I saw bits of the movie 12 Monkeys on TV today. I missed the end, so I started looking for more information on it and found an interesting discussion of the time travel in the movie: Temporal Anomalies: 12 Monkeys


    I wonder… now that Microsoft is taking on the big search engines, are Yahoo and Google going to be forced to merge? Might they call the combined company Yahoogle?

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