A Blog of Very Little Brain

'What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean?' said Pooh. 'For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.'

Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

“Many customers are surprised to learn that their Office software cannot be classified as genuine.”

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No, ya thunk?

And even more surprising, this *is* a valid Office 2007 installation. Now I have to figure how to validate its validness. Woo, surprise!

Written by Erez

Friday, August 15, 2008 at 17:53

Posted in Computers

Tagged with ,

Some geek-ulture

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My computer geek score is greater than 81% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

And some geek jokes.

Written by Erez

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 12:21

Posted in Computers, Culture, Humour

I use the enemy…

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I never did like Microsoft Internet Explorer. Probably the only time I used it solely was when IE5 came out to an almost empty market, following the collapse of Netscape. Some time later, I discovered Opera, and that, as they say, is that. With Ubuntu being my main desktop OS, I have removed even the existance of IE from my computer.
The problem is, that most companies I’ve need of their web services have not heard about other browsers, and under false claims such as “applying to industry standards” (translation: our web-developer based the site on ActiveX and we don’t want to pay it to re-develop the site) and “supply of the user-base demand” (trans: our IE-only site has 99.9% of IE visitors), not only don’t support other browsers, but also prevent those browsers from accessing the site. And these sites include my bank, college and several others that force me to visit them while at work or (shudder) reboot to windows (which is probably the only reason for me to keep that OS on my machine), moreso, my company product depends on IE and ActiveX, which makes it impossible to run on any GNU/Linux configuration.

As an answer to my woes, comes IE4Linux, a script that installs IE on Wine, making it available for web-developers who need to be able to view their sites on IE and for IE-only sites. I’ve yet to test it, true, but if this works, it might mean that I can (FINALLY) remove my Windows partition and finally be able to use those 15 GB of hard-drive that are rotting away on the Windows partition. But more on that in the future.

Written by Erez

Sunday, September 17, 2006 at 21:18

…from our cracked team of developers…

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Courtesy of OSNews, comes the latest example of the effect on severe drug abuse while programming (not that I’ve tried, yet).

“4 short years ago, Microsoft unveiled its new framework/engine for programming and running applications in a virtual environment, and the world was stunned. Microsoft had introduced a run-time environment that was for the first time a true “Write once, run everywhere” implementation”…”

First, 2004 was a leap year. So that can only be “3 short and one long years ago”.
Second a “true Write Once, Run Everywhere implementation”???
Everywhere which is a Microsoft Windows OS based, I assume.
Unlike almost every other programming technology, which has a version for most platforms, Microsoft has released the .NET platform ONLY for Windows OS. Though some other half-baked (this pun is continuing the drug abuse theme, not criticising their abilities) project attempts to port .NET to *nix, this isn’t official, nor supported by Microsoft and, in fact, Microsoft had made sure to patent every possible aspect of the API. As such, developing in Mono can be seen as a cause for litigation, as the developer has used patented technology without permission and in a manner that is not acceptable by the patent issuer.
Microsoft has no need for “write once, run everywhere”. As “Everywhere” is made of *nix (UNIX, Linux, *BSD), Mac, Solaris, or, in other words “not Windows”. Since Microsoft, unlike Linux, is a commercial company, they are not going to spend money on a product that will make money for their competitors. Sun, on the other hand has two such “Not Windows” Operating systems, Solaris and Sun Java Operating System (which is a Linux distro that you probably never heard of, and a very good thing that you didn’t). For them “run everywhere” ensure that they have business. That’s also why they try to play nice to the Free Software guys. It’s corporate America’s version of nice, but at least they’re trying.

Written by Erez

Friday, August 11, 2006 at 22:15

Back to basics

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Not BASIC, mind you.

I’ve neglected the ole blog in the recent month, part of it was caused by a trip to Turkey (in a nutshell, great experience, beautiful country, I’m madly in love with my girlfriend), the other part was me trying to sort a lot of things in my head, and eventually post them here.

In the meanwhile, lot of things happened. The world cup has begun (ho-hum), I’ve celebrated one year at my workplace (ho-ho-ho), Ubuntu 6.06 was officially released (ho-yeah!), and I’ve been reading tons of comics (ho-ho-homicide!).

I’ve attempted to upgrade my laptop to 6.06, after doing a dist-upgrade with one of the Ubuntu alpha (aka Flight) CDs. The result was an overall hard drive format and a reinstallation. The laptop, nicknamed Wildstar, should actually be named Apache, not for the use of it as a web server (which it isn’t) but for the way I’ve installed stuff on it. The method is very simple, I’ve installed the base Ubuntu system, then put over it whatever packages I needed, and then removed whatever packages I didn’t. The result was a working system, but not much more.

Not that I need much more, honestly.
However, the attempted upgrades resulted in what could be best defined as “some sort of problem”. I mean, things worked, then they didn’t. Then they partially worked, then they broke, then they worked like nothing. For instance, I had to reboot to mount a USB device, after unmounting it, it found it perfectly, but mounting it didn’t work. When I finally got it to mount, it wouldn’t unmount and so on. Eventually I gave up.

I’ve tried installing Damn Small Linux, but the Live CD chugged the system to a halt (Pen III 445, 64 MB RAM), so I tried installing from the boot menu. Didn’t really work. I’ve then pulled Slackware and decided to give it a go. Installation went fine, but the system hung every time I tried to run it. I then thought about Debian, which is more-or-less the best choice in this matter, as I’m familiar with apt, the Debian package manager, so I downloaded the latest testing (aka “Etch”) CD and started it. Once again, being familiar with Ubuntu’s installer, which is basically Debian’s, resulted in a very smooth operation, until everything went quickly down the drain as the partitioner failed to locate my hard drive.

I am not a proud man, mind you.
The sole reason for me testing all those different systems is because Ubuntu runs GNOME “out of the box” and I want to use a lighter desktop, such as Fluxbox, or FVWM. I’ve been using those with Ubuntu, but I wanted a bit more “integration” which you can get in a distro that uses those as an integral part of it (like Damn Small), and not just as a package.
This been said, after the whole installation fiasco, I had no alternative but to pick up the Ubuntu (Alternative CD, the Live CD installation is a HUGE, huge pain). Amazingly enough, it installed the base system in a flash, which leaves me with the nice chore of finding whatever packages I want and installing them. More on that later.
As a side note, this process happens about every 3-4 months here, so I’m pretty used to it, and still am surprised when I find myself returning to Ubuntu. Great job guys.)

Written by Erez

Sunday, June 11, 2006 at 13:52

Posted in Computers, GNU/Linux

Hello Dapper (and goodbye Windows)

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All in all it wasn’t such a turbulent affair. Just a long winded one.

I’ve started the process at Friday noon. First I had to work on a promised backup to my mum, which took sometime, with zipping a couple of gigabytes worth of files into 7z files, then burning them on 2 CDs. Once I got that out of my way, I sudo update-manager -h and hit the upgrade button. When the smoke cleared, I was informed that the upgrade will demand a hefty 1 GB download, which will take anything between 2 and 7 hours, depending on the download rate. Ecstatic as I was, this was a real downer, but nothing comes easy. At exactly 9 pm, all the files have been downloaded and the installation process began. This was also the moment when I was supposed to go to my night shift.

I left everything running and went to work. I (correctly) assumed that things will stop somewhere along the way for some input, which will have to wait until my return. They were, I was prompted to replace both the GDM and the Vim configuration files. I approved both, which may, or may not, have been the best decision, as I was soon to learn. The installation and cleaning process went without a hitch, and the system rebooted.

Into a GDM error message. I don’t know if anyone had the pleasure of experiencing this error message, which, from what I’ve yet seen (and I’ve managed to get several of the more interesting error messages), is probably ranked quite high. The problem with it isn’t that it’s incomprehensible (which it is), or upsetting (which it is), it’s the, how shall I put it, look of the message. It’s quite apparent that someone wanted to make this as pleasant as possible. And failed.

“let’s make it nice and friendly,” said our programmer. “After all, we just told our user that his X server is probably riding in the fields of eternal hunting, for all that he cares. We don’t want those unfriendly, laconic messages, no Blue-Screen-of-Death-style stuff either. Let’s give it a light-gray background, and a sky-blue frame, with some nice ASCII motifs in it, and give him a yes/no “buttons” for the error logs, all rendered in what is the last word in ncurses design.” And then our programmer went and painstakingly designed this error message window, and then someone took this code and re-wrote everything in ADA, then used babelfish to translate it to Spanish and back and made sure that whatever error message it displays will be as garbled and misrepresented as possible.

It is quite a mess, really. Fortunately, I’ve already met with this monument to the futility of man, otherwise, it would’ve been a very unfortunate encounter, considering it was close to 8 am, and me coming from an all-nighter at work. A quick sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg later and… Nothing. Apart from the same Vogon-quality error message. Two more tries, didn’t improve things any better. I eventually decided to sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx driver and reconfigure X with the nvidia driver, which, lo and behold, worked. I had to sudo killall gdm and restart it, but it worked.

I tried playing around with the settings, and so far I like what I see. But I’ve yet to dig deep enough into all the tweaks. In fact, it preserved most of my gnome configurations, which meant that all the GUI bells and whistles were still turned off. I’m quite comfortable with it as it is, so I doubt I’ll change it just for the sake of it. I can’t seem to get the screensaver to not work, as the new setting dialog doesn’t include that option, but I’ll find where they hid it.

Which brings me to what seems to be the biggest problem I have with Ubuntu’s new version. A lot of things are hidden. The gconf menu, for once. It’s not buried or anything, and can be enabled with a simple click, but the decision to remove it is bothering. Same with the Palm Pilot setting menu item. I’m sure that hard-core GNU/Linux users probably don’t need those fancy-schmancy menu items, and new users are probably better off without another way to shoot themselves in the foot, but I’m neither, and I don’t really like to dig for what I consider to be basic features. (In fairness, to enable all the menu option, one only need to access the “Alcarta” application which lies on the top of the Application> Accessories menu (not that they WANTED it to be located that high (It just was fortunate to be the A on the A on the A…))).

Another item high on the not-working list is actually gvim. I works fine, but can’t seem to find the designated color scheme. Probably need a quite gvimrc shake.

So I’m still testing the ropes, as mentioned I made no sudden moves, no major configuration changes. I’ll try XGL this coming weekend, but until then, I’m still swimming in the kiddie pool as far as the new version is considered. One major decision was to move everything from the two Windows partitions into one, and format the other to Linux as well. You can count the times I’ve rebooted to Windows in the past couple of months on one hand. All of those were as result of IE only sites, such as my bank’s and my girlfriend’s school’s. And for that I definitely don’t need 30 GB of space.

Written by Erez

Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 23:11

Posted in Computers

This is your webserver, this is your webserver on MS

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Quite a fun post on a blog called “Treat Chaos” showing a map/diagram of system calls that occur when a web server serves up a single page of html with a single picture. One of them is Apache on Linux, the other is Microsoft’s IIS. Hilarity ensues.

Written by Erez

Sunday, April 16, 2006 at 9:56