Wed, 29 Apr 2009

Microsoft Proves My Point

Microsoft's newest "Sheila" Laptop Hunters ad continues to provide a warped view of the PC shopping experience.

Here's how Sheila was apparently led astray.
  • Sheila says that portability is "super important", but then she picks a laptop that weighs over 7 lbs. (The Mac is a svelte 5.5 lbs)
  • She rejects the Mac because it "only has 2GB of RAM". For $99 more, Apple sells a 4GB model. Sheila is serious about video editing and portability, but $99 is too much to spend to get it?
  • It's questionable if the 4GB memory configuration on the laptop she bought is actually usable particularly if the version of Vista is the 32-bit version.
  • Even then, it's slower DDR2 RAM as opposed to the DDR3 RAM in the Mac
  • The only "quick ship" (I read that to mean "retail boxed") configuration from HP has a display resolution of 1366x768.
  • At that resolution, a MacBook is available for $1,973 including Final Cut Express with similar specs of the PC she bought. (The comparable HP would be at least $1,468.99, plus the cost of a comparable video editing package to Final Cut Express)


Can you get a comparable PC video editing package for under $500? Undoubtedly. But your work is far from done because price is only one dimension of the equation. You still need to answer a ton of technical questions (that are far simpler on the Mac aisle), which, even if they are favorable for the PC, require time to research and investigate.

Start by visiting the store, and write down every single model number for the ones with attractive pricing. Next, identify what version of Windows each one ships with (remember: Anything less than Vista 64-bit edition means you can't use RAM > 3GB). Then, fire up a browser, and begin the spreadsheet. DDR3 RAM? CPU speed? Display resolution density? Backup software? Antivirus subscription (tax) cost? Battery life? Weight?

When all is said and done, this task will take any thorough buyer several hours, at which point you can return to the store and compare the details that don't show up online. Flimsy keyboard? Cheap plastics? Pick it up with one hand, does it flex or is it solid? Layout of ports? Clamshell performance? Wake up time from sleep?

The experience in the other aisle is much simpler. Walk in, compare your needs and your budget to a simple and consistent product lineup, and find the Mac most suited to the intersection of your needs and your wallet.

Walk out knowing confidently that you got what you paid for, and spend the time you saved doing all that research using your new computer to produce something of value instead of downloading specs of a half dozen PCs, a handful of which you will never end up buying.





Sat, 25 Apr 2009

Universix

I'm a fan of computer science history (my favorite CS artifact is probably "As We May Think" by Vannevar Bush), but I'm surprised to find out how many people have no idea what the oldest version of Unix is.

Some people think Unix is less than 40 years old, when in fact, it is much, much older than that.

While the originals have been destroyed, I uncovered a 132-column printout (on green-white form feed paper) of the following transcript which is evidence of the true origins of not only the oldest version of Unix, but the very origins of the Universe.

Lest you think I exaggerate, read on.
universe login: god
Password: *******

Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 01 0000
# mknod heavens
# mknod earth
# touch light
# ls -l light
-rw-r--r--   1 lord     root           0 Jan 01  0000 light
# wall
light is good
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# mv /darkness/light /light
# ln -s light day
# ln -s darkness night
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 02 0000
# mknod expanse between the waters to separate water from water
mknod: too many arguments
# mknod sky
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 03 0000
# mknod water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground
appear
mknod: too many arguments
# mknod land
# ln -s gathered_waters seas
# wall
land and sees are good
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# mknod land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land
that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds
mknod: too many arguments
# touch seed
# cat seed > fruit
# cat fruit > trees
# touch seed-bearing_plants
# cat seed-bearing_plants trees > vegetation
# cat vegetation > /dev/land
# wall
vegetation, seed-bearing plants and trees and fruit are good
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:02 ...
---more---
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 04 0000
# mknod lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the
night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and
let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.
mknod: too many arguments
# mknod night
# mknod seasons
# mknod days
# mknod years
# mknod sun
# mknod moon
# wall
night, seasons, days, years, sun and moon are good
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 05 0000
# mknod water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth
across the expanse of the sky
mknod: too many arguments
# mknod living_creatures
# mknod birds
# wall
living_creatures and birds are good
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# bless living_creatures birds
bless: command not found
# chmod 777 living_creatures birds
# write living_creatures

Message from god@universe on ttyp1 at 0:02 ...
Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let
the birds increase on the earth.
^D
EOF
# write birds
Message from god@universe on ttyp1 at 0:02 ...
Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let
the birds increase on the earth.
^D
EOF
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 06 0000
mknod the land produce living creatures according to their kinds:
livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each
according to its kind
mknod: too many arguments
# touch livestock
# touch creatures
# touch wild_animals
# cat livestock creatures wild_animals > /dev/land
# wall
livestock, creatures, and wild_animals are good
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# bless livestock creatures wild_animals
bless: command not found
# chmod 777 livestock creatures wild_animals
# wall
Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let
the birds increase on the earth
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# adduser man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the
fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the
earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground
too many arguments
# adduser
Adding a new user. The username should not exceed 8 characters
in length, or you may run into problems later.

Enter login name for new account (^C to quit): man

Editing information for new user [man]

Full Name: Man
GID [100]:
Group 'users', GID 100
First unused uid is 100

UID [100]:

Home Directory [/earth/man]:

Shell [/bin/sh]:

Password [man]: ******

Information for new user [man]:
Home directory: [/earth/man] Shell: [/bin/sh]
uid: [100] gid: [100]

Is this correct? [y/N]: y

User [man] added
# chown fish man
# chown birds man
# chown livestock man
# chown earth man
# chown creatures man
# bless man
bless: command not found
# chmod 777 man
# write man

Message from god@universe on ttyp1 at 0:02 ...
Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over
the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature
that moves on the ground
^D
EOF
# write man
Message from god@universe on ttyp1 at 0:03 ...
I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and
every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And
to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the
creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life
in it--I give every green plant for food.
^D
EOF
# wall
man is good
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 07 0000

# rest
rest: command not found
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 08 0000
# mv /earth/man /earth/eden
# ls -l /earth/eden
total 0
# mv /earth/eden /earth/man
# mkdir /earth/eden
# mv /earth/man /earth/eden
# ls -l /earth/eden
drwxr-xr-x   3 man    users        1024 Jan  6 00:01 man
drwxr-xr-x   3 god    users        1024 Jan  6 00:01 garden
# write man
You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will
surely die.
^D
EOF
# echo "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper
suitable for him"
It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him
# touch /etc/nologin
# mv /earth/eden/man/rib /earth/eden/woman
# rm /etc/nologin
Message from man@universe on ttyp2 at 8:00 ...
This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called
`woman' for she was taken out of man.
# finger man
Login: man                              Name: man
Directory: /earth/eden/man                     Shell: /bin/sh
On since Sat Jan 06 14:16 (ET) on ttyp2 from eden.earth.universe.com
   1 second idle
No mail.
No Plan.
# write man
Where are you?
^D
EOF
#
Message from man@universe (ttyp2):
I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.
# write man
Who told you you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded
you not to eat from?
^D
EOF
#
Message from man@universe (ttyp2):
The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I
ate it.
# write woman
What is this you have done?
^D
EOF
#
Message from woman@universe (ttyp3):
The serpent deceived me, and I ate.
# write serpent
Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the
wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the
days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and
between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will
strike his heel.
^D
EOF
# write woman
I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give
birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule
over you.
^D
EOF
# write man
Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I
commanded you, `You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of
you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It
will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of
the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you
return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to
dust you will return.
^D
EOF
# touch skin
# mv skin clothes
# mv skin /earth/eden/man
# touch skin
# mv skin clothes
# mv skin /earth/eden/woman
# wall
The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not
be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and
eat, and live forever.
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# mv /earth/eden/man /earth/
# mv /earth/eden/woman /earth/
# chmod 000 /earth/eden
# cherubimd --sword=flaming --direction=flashing_back_and_forth --dir /home/eden
Cherubimd started, protecting Eden.
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 09 0000
You have new mail.
# mail
Message from: abel@earth.universe.com
Dear God: I have placed fat portions of some of the firstborn of my flock
on /dev/altar. Do as you please with them.

Your servant, Abel.
EOM
# chmod 777 /earth/abel
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 10 0000
You have new mail.
# mail
Message from: cain@earth.universe.com
Why did you not bless me? You did not look with favor upon me and my offering?
Signed, Cain.
EOM
# finger cain
Login: cain                             Name: cain
Directory: /earth/cain                  Shell: /bin/sh
On since Sat Jan 06 08:16 on ttyp4 from earth.universe.com.
No mail.
No Plan.
# write cain
Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will
you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching
at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Jan 11 0000
# who
god     ttyp1    Jan 10 8:26 (heaven.universe.com)
adam    ttyp2    Jan 10 8:42 (earth.universe.com)
eve     ttyp3    Jan 10 9:23 (earth.universe.com)
cain    ttyp4    Jan 10 13:24 (earth.universe.com)
# write cain
Where is your brother Abel?
^D
EOF
#
Message from cain@earth (ttyp4):
I don't know, am I my brother's keeper?
# write cain
What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the
ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened
its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the
ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless
wanderer on the earth.
^D
EOF
#
Message from cain@earth (ttyp4):
My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the
land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless
wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.
# write cain
Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.
^D
EOF
# chmod 666 /earth/cain
# logout

... some time passes ...

universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
# wall
My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet
his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# wall
I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both
man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it
repenteth me that I have made them.
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# ls -l /home/earth/noah
drwxr-xr-x   3 noah    users        1024 Jan  6 00:01 noah
# ls -l /home/earth/
... violence, evil, corruption ...
# finger noah
Login: noah                             Name: noah
Directory: /earth/noah                  Shell: /bin/sh
On since 08:11 on ttyp11 from earth.universe.com.
No mail.
No Plan.
# write noah
The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with
violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and
shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which
thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits,
the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A
window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it
above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with
lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to
destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and
every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish
my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy
wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. And of every living thing of all
flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive
with thee; they shall be male and        female. Of fowls after their kind,
and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after
his kind, two of every sort shall come unto
thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is
eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee,
and for them.
^D
EOF
# write noah
Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous
before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee
by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by
two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male
and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet
seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty
nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off
the face of the earth.
^D
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
# ls -l /earth
... violence, evil, corruption ...
# cat /dev/ark
... two of each unclean animal, seven of each clean animal, and seven of
birds and fowl, noah's family, etc...
# rm -rf /earth/*
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
# write noah
Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives
with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of
all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that
creepeth        upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the
earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
^D
EOF
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
You have new mail.
# mail
Message from noah@earth:
Dear God:
I have done as you asked, and I have built an altar unto you, upon which I
have given thee burnt offerings, and I trust thou wilst find them to be of
sweet savour.
Yours truly,
Noah
EOM
# wall
I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the
imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again
smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth
remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter,
and day and night shall not cease.
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# bless noah and all his sons
bless: command not found
# chmod 777 /earth/noah
# chmod 777 /earth/shem
# chmod 777 /earth/ham
# chmod 777 /earth/japheth
# wall
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and
the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every
fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the
fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing
that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you
all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof,
shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at
the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the
hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made
he man. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in
the earth, and multiply therein. And I, behold, I establish my covenant
with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that
is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth
with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut
off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a
flood to destroy the earth. This is the token of the covenant which I make
between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for
perpetual        generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be
for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to
pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in
the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and
every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a
flood to destroy all flesh.
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may
remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of
all flesh that is upon the earth. This is the token of the covenant, which
I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
Unable to allocate memory for stack
Out of disk space.
# df
Filesystem         1024-blocks  Used Available Capacity Mounted on
/dev/sda1            1921678  507612  1314738     28%   /
/dev/sdb1            4026924 4026924        0    100%   /earth
...
# du -s /earth/* | sort -n | tail -1
3920499      tower
# ls -l /earth/tower
-rw-r--r--   1 men    users           3094 Aug 28  0001 babel
# ls -l /earth/tower/babel
-rw-r--r--   1 men    users        3920499 Aug 28  0001 tower
# wall
Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they
begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have
imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language,
that they may not understand one another's speech.
^D
Broadcast Message from god@universe
	(/dev/ttyp1) at 0:01 ...
---more---
# rm -rf /earth/tower
# mkdir /earth/a
# mv /earth/a* a
mv: cannot move a to a.
# mkdir /earth/b
mv: cannot move b to b.
... and so on ...
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
# finger abraham
Login: abraham                               Name: cain
Directory: /earth/a/abraham                  Shell: /bin/sh
On since Wed Jan 01 11:12 on ttyp4 from earth.universe.com.
No mail.
No Plan.
# write abraham
Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's
house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great
nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a
blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth
thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
^D
EOF
# write abraham
Unto thy seed will I give this land
^D
EOF
# logout


universe login: god
Password: ********
Welcome to Universix 7.7.7
You have new mail.
# mail
Message from abraham@earth:
Dear God:
I have done as you asked. I have also built several temples unto thee. Also
I am going to Egypt with my most fine wife. Alas, since the Egyptians are
perverts and scoundrels they will kill me if they know that my wife is she.
Therefore I will introduce her as my sister, and thus I will spare being
killed by the Pharaoh and his men.
Yours truly,
Abraham
EOM
# ps axwu | grep pharaoh
pharaoh     12300  0.0  1.6  1692  1036  p2 S     13:52   0:01 -bash
pharaoh     24909  0.0  0.4   908   312  p2 S     17:16   0:00 sex -partner=sarai
# plague pharaoh
plague: command not found
# echo "logout" > /earth/pharaoh/.login
# logout





Fri, 24 Apr 2009

This post brought to you by Coda

As faithful readers of my blog already know, I use Blosxom as my blogging software. Thanks to the gracious hosting offered by my friend Richard, my blog resides behind a firewall and my only access to it is via a VPN.

In some ways I'm kind of old-school when it comes to maintaining my personal web site (my favorite editor is vi), but I'm also fairly new-century too, what with my preference for "all things Mac". Sometimes I straddle an uneasy fence... I don't use "xv" to manage my photo library, and I don't use "mutt" to read my email (thanks, iPhoto.app and Mail.app!). But I also can't stand the clumsy FTP clients on the Mac like Transmit and what not.

It's simple enough for me to break out ftp (1):
% ftp www.khan.org
Connected to www.khan.org.
220 XxFtpd FTP Server
Name:
331 Password required.
Password:
230 User logged in.
Remote system type is UNIX.
Using binary mode to transfer files.
ftp> |
Now I need to create the files locally, then transfer them over.

So, sometimes, I simply prefer to log into the server and edit the files locally.
% ssh www.khan.org
...
$ vi .blog/coda.txt
Coda might just change all that. True, it isn't vim-like, but what it does do fairly transparently is to make editing remote blog entries on the server painless. No local text files to write and publish, no shells to open to the remote host to edit with screwed up termcap entries (which apparently get bungled up by either Terminal.app or by my Unix shell on the remote box-- I don't care, mostly because I shouldn't have to).

If you haven't heard about it yet, check it out. If it's good enough to make me consider leaving vi behind because of its other conveniences, it might be worth looking at.


Name/Blog: Tim
URL:
Title: MacFUSE
Comment/Excerpt: I haven't installed this yet, but there's a lot of buzz around it, and I think my OpenSuSE installation uses it. The reason I mention it is that, in Nautilus (on OpenSuSE) I can give it an address of "ssh://somehost.com/Users/mclaugtd/" and it shows my files. Double-click, edit, run or whatever. It acts like net-mounted drive, but it's all done over SSH.

Name/Blog: Tim
URL:
Title: Blinking cursor...
Comment/Excerpt: ...nice touch. :)

Name/Blog: Khan
URL:
Title:
Comment/Excerpt: Glad you liked it. :)




Sun, 19 Apr 2009

Blog Housekeeping

One of the side effects of moving my blog to a new server is that some of my old URLs broke.

Specifically, some of my date-based URIs no longer map to any articles because the way that my blog software extrapolates the YYYY/MM/DD URIs was dependent on reading the timestamp of the files.

With the new server I run being in the Pacific timezone, and the previous ones in Mountain timezone, any blog posts I made near the end of the day ended up shifting back a day.

So I used this excuse to clean up my blog URIs. Blog title links should make it easier to permalink to a specific post (i.e. /blog/bloghousekeeping/), or to a specific year (/blog/2009/), month (/blog/2009/04/), or date's (/blog/2009/04/14/) posts.

I still have some work to do to implement Google's "canonical" tag (thanks to Vanessa Fox for pointing this out to me), but my URL structure is already quite a bit cleaner.





Mon, 13 Apr 2009

New Hosting Provider

Over the weekend I moved khan.org and a few other sites I maintain over to a new hosting provider.

While the old hosting provider (GoDaddy) was an "OK" web host, (my main beef with them was that all of the administrative emails to manage my domain were never getting to me because they insisted that they needed to point their MX to a CNAME to scale up their servers to send "billions of emails a day", which I can guarantee you is a gross overestimation of the amount of email they have to send, and begs the question about why it's "required").

They told me I needed to convince my email provider to accept email from domains who point their MX to a CNAME. I pointed them to RFC 2181, but apparently RFCs are just "a lot of simple tricks and nonsense", not anything that domain registrars are expected to know, not to mention follow.

So within a few days my domains were moved to register.com, and my websites remained at GoDaddy where a friend was graciously hosting them.

The Web hosting, I don't think, wasn't too shabby, but we were likely on one of GoDaddy's entry level virtual server hosting plans that only had 256MB of dedicated RAM assigned.

Now, 256MB of RAM is probably plenty, except the denizens of the hosting platform were heavily depending on MySQL, Apache, and PHP-based blogs. Your classic LAMP stack, but on very limited RAM.

My new hosting provider is Linode.com. They use the Xen "paravirtualization" package to create their virtual instances, and each node has a minimum of 360MB of RAM, 12GB of storage, and 200GB of bandwidth each month. They're not the cheapest, but their website is one of the clearest, most straightforward I have seen. They have a great support/wiki section, and their admin console to start up your Linode is pretty straight forward.

Since I don't rely on any databases to serve my blog (the biggest "application" on my site), the principal consumer of resources will be apache, and 360MB is plenty sufficient for that, as is the disk space, and network bandwidth, but they have bigger instances you can buy if your needs exceed the basic plan.

Set up was a snap, moving the data was the most time consuming part of the affair. After verifying the site worked with nearly zero modifications (+XBitHack had to be turned off for the default Apache 2.0 install in one of my .htaccess files), I moved the IP address over and my sites were migrated after a quick manual regression. I monitored my log files, and before long I was convinced everything had gone quite smoothly.

So far, the administration console, dedicated virtual private server, Xen setup and administration, as well as the helpful staff on the Linode IRC channel, have all been to or exceeding my expectations.

So far, two thumbs up! If you are in the market for some virtual hosting, and use the link above to get there, I'll get a $20 credit on my bill.





Sun, 12 Apr 2009

An Idea For A Startup You're Welcome To Steal

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard of Twitter.

Here's an idea for a startup. Basically, clone Twitter. Down to every last detail... except, instead of limiting it to 140 character twits, reduce it down to 1 bit.

Now, everyone you're following will either be a "1" or a "0".

What to call this startup? "Bitter", of course.

P.S. I've been one of those people who "don't get it", but have decided it's time to trade in my bifocals and geriatric creams and sign up for an account. Follow me @khanklatt.




I'm (NOT) A PC

I've been watching the Microsoft "Laptop Buyers" ads with some interest.

They highlight all that is wrong with computer shopping on the other side of the aisle. When buying a Mac, it's sufficient to simply decide on your budget, then select the laptop that best fits your needs. You're not getting shafted by some marketing guy who decided to design the computer components to look better next to some other clone.

For example, you can't buy a computer screen larger than 15" from Apple that has a resolution less than 1440x900 pixels. Yet the computer than Giampaolo bought is a 16" (!) laptop with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels! The Mac has 30% more pixels (screen real estate) on a 1" smaller monitor.

Why is that? Because HP markets its laptops on screen size, because consumers like Giampaolo are sheep to whom 16" > 15", even though clearly 1.0M pixels < 1.3M pixels.

Need another example about how you get shafted as a PC buyer in the store? Well, take for example, the fact that Giampaolo bought a computer with 4GB of memory. Now for the trick question: Will Giampaolo be able to use all 4GB? I don't know, but here's Microsoft's website you can check to find out.

Microsoft admits this is the case:
"to avoid potential driver compatibility issues, the 32-bit versions of Windows Vista limit the total available memory to 3.12 GB"
So, when you're shopping for a PC with 4GB or more memory, how can you tell if it will actually be able to use all that memory? Microsoft is happy to tell you:
For Windows Vista to use all 4 GB of memory on a computer that has 4 GB of memory installed, the computer must meet the following requirements:
* The chipset must support at least 8 GB of address space. Chipsets that have this capability include the following:
o Intel 975X
o Intel P965
o Intel 955X on Socket 775
o Chipsets that support AMD processors that use socket F, socket 940, socket 939, or socket AM2. These chipsets include any AMD socket and CPU combination in which the memory controller resides in the CPU.
* The CPU must support the x64 instruction set. The AMD64 CPU and the Intel EM64T CPU support this instruction set.
* The BIOS must support the memory remapping feature. The memory remapping feature allows for the segment of system memory that was previously overwritten by the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) configuration space to be remapped above the 4 GB address line. This feature must be enabled in the BIOS configuration utility on the computer. View your computer product documentation for instructions that explain how to enable this feature. Many consumer-oriented computers may not support the memory remapping feature. No standard terminology is used in documentation or in BIOS configuration utilities for this feature. Therefore, you may have to read the descriptions of the various BIOS configuration settings that are available to determine whether any of the settings enable the memory remapping feature.
* An x64 (64-bit) version of Windows Vista must be used.
Are we clear? So go on out there, and shop with confidence, PC users! Just make sure you ask your salesperson whether or not the BIOS supports memory remapping. After all, as Microsoft itself admits, "Many consumer-oriented computers may not support the memory remapping feature. No standard terminology is used in documentation or in BIOS configuration utilities for this feature. Therefore, you may have to read the descriptions of the various BIOS configuration settings that are available to determine whether any of the settings enable the memory remapping feature."

Of course, there is the alternative. The alternative where the hardware was designed for the software it's running. The alternative where the product is designed by people who use the products, instead of trying to fool the consumer into buying an HP instead of an Acer by buying the biggest, cheapest, lowest-possible resolution so that you can appear a little more attractive to the buyer who doesn't know that PC designers are trying to find ways of cutting costs (and thus features) to attract consumers.

True, the alternative might cost a little more, but when you compare apples to Apples, the cost dips significantly.

If you know a Intel 975X chipset from a Intel P965 chipset, if you know to reboot the PC at Fry's or Best Buy into the BIOS to find out if it supports memory remapping, if you know the difference that DDR3 memory makes over DDR2 (a cheaper, slower type of RAM found on many PCs designed to look attractive in the store), then go on out and get a PC.

Otherwise, declare yourself a Mac, and buy with confidence that you're getting what you paid for.





Colophon

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