Friday, September 30, 2005

Share the love, and the software...

Five pieces of software for Windows desktops that I use regularly and recommend:

IDM - shareware - $39.95

This low cost text editor has such a powerful feature set and flexibility it has more than paid for itself the two times I have purchased it. Now if I could just get my employer to support a fellow Ohioan with some additional licenses for my co-workers.

Opera Software ASA - free

I have been a loyal Opera supporter since version 6.01 and now that this alternative web browser is free I try to advocate it where I think it can be useful. Most of the extensions to the Firefox browser have been part of, stable and working in Opera for years.

K-Lite Codec Pack
Final Builds Site - free

The K-Lite Codec pack, and more importantly the Media Player Classic, Real Alternative, and QuickTime alternative pieces are mandatory items on any installs I do for friends or family. I haven't run into any video content that I couldn't play and this combination is a much more desirable option to installing Real One players and QuickTime players (which just maul your system, taking over everything) and dealing with the Windows Media player.

GAIM - free

GAIM is a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) client, i.e. it's a somewhat bloated piece of software that replaces Yahoo! messenger, MSN messenger and AOL messenger (and other messengers), consolidating them and their bloat into one convenient place. I use it and try to keep family and friends using it, especially now that Yahoo! and AOL are getting more pervasive and annoying.

Open Office
CollabNet, Inc. and Sun Microsystems - free

Who needs Microsoft? Open Office is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project. Compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute. Personally, I have no idea why colleges and universities force their students to obtain Microsoft software when the same functionality is available at a much lower cost (well, actually I do know why and it sucks).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

SPAM test

This is a test.

Apparently a blog spammer is watching and posting spam in the comments.

Let's see what happens...

Y'know it's pretty sad when people stoop to spamming in blogs that maybe one or two people other than the publisher, read.

Well, that didn't take long. A whole five minutes.

Eatery from my past now closed

Imagine my surprise when I saw this headline on NBC4's website:

Restaurant Closed After Failing Health Inspection

It has probably been close to a year since I last visited the Chinese Village Restaurant on North High Street, about three or four years since I regularly visited it with a friend that worked in The Ohio State campus area. I had noticed the past couple of times that business seemed down and it was the same two people there running the place.

"Officials found rodent urine on pipes" ... "human waste is contaminating stored food in the basement of the building" ... "it (human waste) was leaking (from a pipe) when we were there a couple of different times" ... "the food inside here is moldy, inside this cooler."


This doesn't surprise me, though. The restaurant always had a run-down look to it even years ago when I remember the small place being packed with customers.

Still, they had the best noodle selection in town. They are one of two places that offer chow fun the right way. Their rice noodle bowls were always delicious. The standard "Chinese food" dishes were always good as well.

It's sad to see such an establishment like this go south so badly. Hopefully the owner and his wife get the offered help and turn the place back into one of the best kept secrets on campus for cheap, good food.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Two cows

Political(?) humor from my aunt.
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. Barbara Streisand sings for you.
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?
You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.
You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.
You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.
You have two cows. Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milkthe other, and then pours the milk down the drain.
You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.
You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.
You have two cows but you don’t know where they are. While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.
You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.
You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two. You don’t milk them because you cannot touch any creature’s private parts. You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.
You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.
You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.
You have one cow. The cow is schizophrenic. Sometimes the cow thinks he’s French, other times he’s Flemish. The Flemish cow won’t share with the French cow. The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow’s milk. The cow asks permission to be cut in half. The cow dies happy.
You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one. Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can’t figure out how to vote at all. Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.
You have millions of cows. They make real California cheese. Only five speak English. Most are illegals. Arnold likes the ones with the big udders

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fun with FreeBSD 5.4 the final chapter

After struggling with FreeBSD ports off and on for about a week there are two things that are painfully obvious to me. One: for something outside of simple services, like Oracle OCI support, BSD ports are not supported well enough by vendors (i.e. Oracle) or by FreeBSD to be of use. PHP 5 support on FreeBSD is behind Linux and NT. Two: wiki's are a bitch to support in these environments even when you step back and use older versions of Apache, PHP, MySQL and graphic library components as recommended.

I have three options open to me now: beg for Apache and PHP on one of our AIX boxes, try a Linux distribution, or fall back to good ol' Windows 2000.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fun with FreeBSD 5.4 chapter 2.0

Installing MySQL from ports with a custom data directory the quick and dirty way:

cd /usr/ports/databases/mysql41-server/
make install clean
cp /usr/local/share/mysql/my-medium.cnf /etc/my.cnf
mkdir /data/db
/usr/local/bin/mysql_install_db --user=mysql --datadir=/data/db
chown -R mysql /data/db/mysql/
chgrp -R mysql /data/db/mysql/
/usr/local/bin/mysqld_safe --user=mysql --datadir=/data/db &
/usr/local/bin/mysqladmin --user=root password 'newpassword'
/usr/local/bin/mysqladmin --user=root --password=newpassword shutdown
vi /etc/rc.conf
# added 08/29/2005 grouchy@root mysql installation

When installing PHP extensions if you are going to use GD or Imagick, both require ghostscript and X11 - two large chunks you might want to consider installing from CD if possible or do as I did and said "screw it" and did not install them (most wiki's I've looked at want one or the other for thumbnailing).

Mensa Invitational

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's 2005 winners:

  1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
  2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
  3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer,unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
  4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
  5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
  6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
  7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
  8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
  9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
  10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
  11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
  12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
  13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
  14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
  15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web. (Hee, hee...been there, done that.)
  16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
  17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
  18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New life in the 55 gallon tank

Imagine my surprise over this weekend when I noticed one little orange dot swimming around in what must be to it a massive 55 gallon world. I am assuming that one of the two female orange platys in that tank got pregnant, gave birth and (so far) three escaped the parents and every other potential predator in the tank (there are a few). The only other orange(-ish) fish in the tank are the flame tetras but they are egg layers, require higher quality and much softer water, darkness and well just a lot more work than platys do.

The fry are already taking bits of flake and dust from tubifex worm cubes. If I would have known about them earlier I would have had some good live foods available for them.

I'll be surprised if any of them survive to adult status. They do hide themselves well in the large piece of driftwood and amongst the thick growth of green combomba but their chances are somewhat slim. There have been bronze corydora catfish fry in the tank before but I haven't seen any of them grow up yet.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Two to zip, the US qualifies.

F*** yeah.

Eat dat, beetches...

Two qualifiers in Columbus Crew stadium, two 2-0 results for the United States mens national team.

I couldn't be happier.

Dos a cero, usted pierde a amigos.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Fun with FreeBSD 5.4 chapter 1.0

Recently at work I was able to get a spare IBM NetVista computer to use as a FreeBSD server. The machine has a Pentium III processor with 128 MB of memory and 32GB of disk storage and a Zip100 drive. Not the most powerful beast in the world but enough to play with.

It has been a while since I have dealt with any x86 based Unix. I chose FreeBSD over Linux because a) I think it's easier to get working and maintain, b) I didn't want to deal with the "which distribution" turf wars, and c) I wanted to piss off the local Linux zealot. The machine might be used as an example for later installation and justification of a source code manager, wiki, and possibly a report archival and translation system.

I started off with FreeBSD 5.4, following a year old guide I created from vast Internet resources. Here is what I learned:

  • Install minimal with one package: cvsup.
  • When partitioning: 256MB for /, 3GB for /usr, 512MB for /tmp, /var and swap space, 3GB for /home, and the rest dedicated to /data was more than sufficient.
  • I started with packages (probably a mistake), which forces multiple CD swaps.
  • Later installations were done through FTP.
  • Recompiling a custom kernel was far too easy, took a while but it was dead simple.
  • Apache 1.3 was required for the PHP 5 package.
  • The delivered http.conf in the package is missing an important line. If you get a Invalid command 'LoadModule' syntax error in your log, insert AddModule mod_so.c after ClearModuleList (mod_so is usually compiled into Apache, evidently the ClearModuleList removes that support). Thanks to Eli the Bearded for the fix to that.
  • I got Apache working but later find that the PHP 5 package does not include the extensions. The "ports" have full support, the "packages" do not.
  • Today I am going to reinstall everything and strictly use "ports" instead of "packages"; a pain in the ass but I have most of it down to a science.

What a bitch.

I'm not complaining though. Operating system installs from DOS to VSE/ESA and VM/ESA on IBM mainframes to OS/2 to Windows 3.1 through 2003 to Unix all have these quirks that make you want to simply go postal on the world.