Sat, 07 Oct 2017

Fez-Wearing Dragon in the Living Room

I don’t know if AR is “cooler” than VR, but at least you don’t need a stupid looking hunk of geek strapped to your face to try it.

AR Dragon

:: 10:21
:: /tech/computers/os/ios | [+]
::Comments (0)

Thu, 18 May 2017


As someone who lived through the Syndication Wars, I find this interesting.

I’m way older and balder than last time. I also have a 4-year-old, so I’m sitting this one out. It looks like a PyBlosxom plugin would be a Saturday afternoon project or so, but I don’t really have Saturday afternoons free anymore.

:: 17:24
:: /tech/computers/internet | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 26 Sep 2016

Home Server Addendum

GkrellM AdamMicro Center is selling the Raspberry Pi Zero for 99¢ as a loss leader. I bought one, then spent another few bucks for a boot disk and a USB-to-Ethernet adapter and a minimal case. Total investment: about $15.

I’m using it as a Pi-Hole machine.

:: 15:44
:: /tech/computers/os/linux | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 10 Aug 2016

A Home Server in 2016

gkrellm display for raspberry piOver the years, I’ve had various boxes around the house that you could consider a home server. Often, these were just my desktop machine doing double duty. Occasionally, they’d be some old semi-retired tower machine shoved under a spare table, gobbling frightening amounts of electricity with spinning drives and cooling fans making way too much noise.

Raspberry Pi 3 in a pretty box

It’s really funny to think that this ~$50 guy is really just as powerful as the >$100,000 “medium iron” HP-UX box I was sysadmining barely more than a decade and a half ago.

HP 9000 / 800 Series

These handled the typical home server tasks: holding photos, music, backups, whatever. Serving media inside the house. For many years, this very weblog lived on home servers. With the advent of ubiquitous cloud storage, I’ve outsourced most of these tasks.

It’s still useful to keep some of these things within the home network. What doesn’t really make sense anymore is devoting floor space and lots of watts to some ugly, oversized tower.

Earlier this year I finally bought my first Raspberry Pi system. They’re basically teeny tiny Unix boxes (roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes) for hobbyists. They basically pack a smartphone-level SoC on a small board that can be deployed with minimal fanfare for all sorts of applications.

:: 18:25
:: /tech/computers/os/linux | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 13 Jul 2016

Ḭͯ'͓̤̹̗͓ͣ͆m̨̼̺̆́ I͈̦̭͘n̥̳̯̓ Y̮͚ͦ̈́r T̵͓͈̪̯ó̻͒o̾̆l̜͓̩̳ͯͅc̙̙̮̟̅ͣḫ̖ͤ̚͡a̪ͧ́in̥̦͕̱͎,̢̩̠̫ B̪̥̖̟͈̾͘r͉̠̱ͫ͘e̠͚͙̹̻a̙̦̻͔k̬̜͕̠̭i̟̫̰̲̝̋n̖̱͓̲̗̋̑'͆̊͝ Ỹ̨̪̺r̕ I̖ͧ̔n͇̿̐͠te̦̩͚̓ͦr͔̝͖͕͙ͧn̆͒͜è͈̪̫ͅt̄ͬs͎̻͙̭̭

Every now and then, you need to stress test your tools.

:: 16:16
:: /tech/computers/internet | [+]
::Comments (0)

Tue, 12 Apr 2016

New MacBook Pro

apple logoI’m probably the last Mac owner in the world to switch to a Retina MBP. My problem has been that Macs stay useful for so long — my previous machine was over 5 years old, and quite honestly, still works fine. It really only had one real limtation — it maxed out at 8GB of RAM, which made it uncomfortably tight when I needed to run virtual machines on it.

I was really getting frustrated with it at the end of 2014, but then I replaced the spinning rust with an SSD and got another 18 useful months out of it.

Compute-wise, I went from

It’s enough of an improvement to feel during everyday use, especially when I’m doing a lot of things at the same time (I gained 2 compute cores and a lot of cache, and the built-in SSD is much faster than the third-party one I installed in the old machine.)

Honestly, though, the biggest difference is the screen. The gorgeous, gorgeous screen. Combined with subpixel anti-aliasing, I’ve never seen a sharper display.

:: 08:43
:: /tech/computers/os/osx/apple | [+]
::Comments (0)

Tue, 29 Dec 2015

Autodesk Graphic

Autodesk Graphic header image

Treated myself to this as a late Christmas gift. Just playing around with it I’m pretty happy so far. Between 1990-1999 I used to support a small company’s worth of artists, illustrators, and layout people. I’ve never claimed to be any sort of artist, but out necessity I picked up some facility with the applications those folks used (primarily the Adobe suite.)

If you’d told me that I’d one day be able to buy an application that had essentially all of the functionality of Illustrator (at least the parts I used) for 1/20th of the price I’d have said you were nuts.

Apparently there’s a pretty feature-comparable iPad version that reads and writes the same files. I’ll try that out later.

:: 14:48
:: /tech/computers/os/osx/applications | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 20 Apr 2014

It Only Took Spammers 12 Hours To Find The “New” Blog


At least 2 of them hit me last night. I’m pretty sure I don’t have that many human readers. I’ve implemented the world’s simplest countermeasures.

:: 10:54
:: /tech/computers/pyblosxom | [+]
::Comments (2)

Sat, 08 Mar 2014

That Is One Chilly Yak

Biggest hassle was extracting disk images in the right format. I didn’t realize Apple kept around so much of the old stuff here

VMac WriteNow 4

:: 15:04
:: /tech/computers/os/osx | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 20 Oct 2013

Linkblogging Aid: Frontmost Safari Tab's URL and Title Formatted For Markdown

This AppleScript snippet is probably useful to no one except me, but if it saves even one other Mac-based Markdown-using linkblogger a few seconds, why not?

I have it attached to an Alfred hotkey. (download)

tell application "Safari"
	set myTitle to name of document 1 as string
	set myURL to URL of document 1 as string
	set mdstring to "[" & myTitle & "]" & "(" & myURL & ")"
	set myResponse to (display dialog "Selectable Markdown Link Text" default answer mdstring)
	if myResponse's button returned is "OK" then set the clipboard to myResponse's text returned
  end tell

:: 03:47
:: /tech/computers/os/osx/scripts | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sat, 31 Oct 2009

Netbook and UNR

The netbook business is an odd one, really. As a product category, it's easy enough to describe: take a notebook computer, and start taking things out until you end up with something really small and really cheap. Optical drive? As long as you assume the consumer already has a full desktop or laptop somewhere with a CD/DVD drive, you don't need one. Full sized keyboard? Too big, give them something smaller. Top of the line CPU? Don't need it for basic web surfing and light editing. Tons of storage? This is an appliance, you don't need it to hold all of the user's media.

As a business, though, it turns out it's pretty dicey. It's just not possible to make much money on a $300 computer, no matter who you are. Some companies have done the math and decided that it doesn't make sense for them to be in the business. To be honest, though, the business model doesn't matter much to me -- that's up to computer companies to figure out, not me.

I bought Tammie a little Acer Aspire for her birthday last year. Of course, I probably use it more than she does. It arrived with Windows XP installed, and I'm pretty sure I had the hard drive reformatted within a half hour of unboxing. Yeah, I'm one of them.

I installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and it was OK. The machine was OK for running Firefox, but I had recurring issues: sometimes, the WiFi would just stop working for no reason, for example.

I'm happy to say the new Karmic Koala release of Ubuntu drastically improves the overall feel of the machine. Everything feels a little snappier, it connects to the household wireless with much less hassle, and after I copied a few fonts from one of my Macs things even look pretty good in the browser. I installed an early access release of Chrome and the performance is very usable on all the sites I visit regularly, even Javascript-heavy sites like Google Wave.

Overall, though, the netbook is still a toy; something to check the IMDb or Wikipedia on while sitting on the couch. It's a nicer toy than it was last week, though.

:: 14:46
:: /tech/computers/os/linux | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 06 Jul 2009

Proper Care and Feeding of Computing Consultants

I’ve been doing this for a while. This is an aggregation of lessons I’ve learned while visiting various organizations, performing software installations and integration work. I hope this comes across as constructive. I assume male pronouns throughout for my own convenience. Feel free to search and replace as you see fit.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few things. If you have anything you’d like to add, please leave a comment.

  • Send the consultant an email with detailed directions to your location. If your company sits on a campus, make sure to let him know which building he’s visiting — he’s probably using an online map app to find your site, but those aren’t granular to the building level.
    • If special parking arrangements are necessary, let him know.
    • If there’s a gate, make sure to leave that security knows he’s coming, or at least make sure he knows who he needs to call when he gets there to gain access to the grounds.
    • If a visitor badge is required (it usually is), one that allows the consultant to take bathroom breaks without an escort is appreciated. :)
  • If your consultant is coming in from out of town, if you company has a preferred hotel, let him know. If there are any local restaurants/attractions/etc. that he should seek out/avoid, let him know. If he’s staying overnight, he may want to see some part of town outside his hotel walls and your office park. He’s away from home, and a happy consultant is a productive consultant.
  • Let your consultant bring in his phone and laptop onsite. Would you force your plumber to leave his wrench and pipe snake in the car?
    • Try not to freak out if the consultant’s phone has a camera. He’s just here to do his job, he’s not here to steal your secrets.
  • If he’s working on your systems, it is “nice to have” if you let him plug his laptop into your network directly. He likely has shortcuts, tools and scripts installed that will let him get his work done faster (it may even save you some money if he’s billing by the hour) if he doesn’t have to spend time duplicating his toolset onto a USB stick or CD while he works
    • It is understood that this is not always possible due to security policy.
    • If the consultant cannot be connected to your network, an external guest network with internet access is very nice to have. If the consultant can retrieve tools, scripts, and information from his office, he can consult his colleagues, try various scenarios on his office test systems, etc.
  • Unless he’s working directly on your server or network hardware, don’t make him work in the server room. It’s cold, deafeningly noisy, and probably has really lousy chairs. Provide a normal desk or conference room as a work area.
    • If you book a conference room, try to reserve it for the entire day. If you and your consultant have to uproot yourselves and your gear multiple times over the course of the workday, you’re losing time.
    • Verify beforehand that network drops, overhead projectors, etc. are working if the work you and the consultant are doing requires them. Once again, you’re saving yourself time and probably money.
  • If any access (hardware, network, software, etc.) requires management approvals, please try to get them all beforehand.
  • Related to the above, having a member of management available with approval/signing authority to get around unexpected roadblocks is a time/aggravation saver.

addendum: Adrian Sutton at Symphonious had a few more. Thanks, Adrian!

:: 19:20
:: /tech/computers/working | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 09 Jul 2008

Nifty Cool Clock Widget

I'm probably the last person on the internet to run into this, but I love it.

Click the link for the full screen version, even better with nice speakers.

:: 10:07
:: /tech/computers/web/widgets | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 16 Jun 2008

The Trifecta

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Spotted in the wild last week: 3 of the most common "viral" ad-hoc wireless networks while sitting at a single spot.

:: 10:32
:: /tech/computers/internet | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sat, 17 May 2008

This Month's Bargain

A neighbor of ours was moving and had stack of crap she was throwing away / giving away. One of the items was a ~3-year old Dell desktop — one of those ugly grey and black towers with the meaningless names (OptiPresidioFlexron 3000 or something.) It had XP Home on it, and she thought the motherboard was bad or something. Really, it was mostly just too slow to be usable and she had a new laptop anyway and just wanted rid of it. She gave it to Tammie, and I figured I’d take a look at it and replace the MB if necessary. After booting it into XP, it didn’t look too bad but I really didn’t want an old Windows box of mysterious provenance on my network, so I wiped and repaved with Ubuntu current. A wireless USB NIC and 15-minute driver hunt later, we have a perfectly adequate 2nd websurfing desktop in the house— total out-of-pocket cost: $20 for the NIC.

:: 14:34
:: /tech/computers/os/linux | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 25 Apr 2008

Ten Things Apple Could Do To Fix iTunes

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Slashdot’s CmdrTaco
, upon the introduction of the iPod, October 23, 2001

Apple’s iPod platform is a monster in the portable music space. Tens of millions have been sold, and the application that interfaces with the device,iTunes, runs on tens of millions of computers.

I have a love/hate relationship with the iTunes application. I use it to manage my digital collection, which it does handily, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that it has limitations and inconsistencies that I bump into every day.

Continued @ moodmat.

:: 01:52
:: /tech/computers/os/osx/applications | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 21 Apr 2008

iCal Through A Proxy Now Officially Somebody Else's Problem

My little LazyWeb mewl from a few weeks ago didn’t really generate much in the way of attention, though one poster, Matan Ninio, was apparently able to get things working with a manually specified proxy:

The problem seem to be that iCal does not know how to work with a proxy.pac file, but does know how to work via a proxy. Just enter the proxy address and port directly, and suddenly all is well again. (at least thats the case with our 10.5.2 machines)

My employer now supports Juniper’s SSL proxy, though, which means “free” split routing, which means my iCal traffic doesn’t need to negotiate a proxy at all.

:: 15:26
:: /tech/computers/os/osx | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 17 Mar 2008

OS X iCal Pet Peeve

iCal in DockiCal sure isn't perfect (far from it, actually), though its current incarnation is far more useful than it was at 1.0. I use it because it integrates well with the rest of the OS (e.g. Mail, Address Book, i$ShinyDevices, etc.) and since, unlike a certain other calendaring product from a large corporation that I Won't Name, it acknowledges that the rest of the world exists and that integrating with things Not Invented Here is OK...

There is one thing about it, though, that drives me batty. Unlike just about every other tool Apple ships, it doesn’t work through an HTTP proxy. They managed to fix the icon so it displays the correct date when the application isn’t running (which has to be hacky as hell behind the scenes), but they couldn’t do something as basic as reusing the same URL retrieval logic as almost everything else on the platform.

In practice, this means that if I log into my employer’s VPN, my calendar subscriptions are broken (i.e. non-refreshing) until I disconnect, rendering them useless during the most important part of the work day.

If anyone has managed to hack around this problem, I’d appreciate hearing about it in the comments.

:: 11:37
:: /tech/computers/os/osx | [+]
::Comments (0)

Reichel’s Law:
A body on vacation tends to remain on vacation unless acted upon by
an outside force.