Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...

Archive for May, 2006

New Thinkpad

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

My boss has just bought me a new laptop.

Thinkpad T60:

  • T2400, 1.83GHz
  • 14.1" screen (1024x768), Intel Graphics Accelerator 950
  • 512MB RAM, 60GB HDD

IBM NZ web price: $2949.00.

I'm sure the dual core thing is pretty cool, but I really wanted something in 1400x1050 so it was a visible upgrade from the T40 I have at the moment. But but but...

Thinkpad T60:

  • T2400, 1.83GHz
  • 14.1" screen (1400x1050), 64MB Mobility Radeon X1300
  • 512MB RAM, 80GB HDD

IBM US web price: $1,599USD - or $2,499 NZD!

Got friends travelling to the US? You can't even get this model here, at any price. That kinda sucks.

I never had Linux on my last laptop, but seeing as I have some free space, I'll probably throw Dapper on there (and possibly the Vista beta, depending on how crazy I feel at the time). Anyone got any experience running accelerated X on an Intel 950 chipset?

Saviour of the universe

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

Macromedia have announced that there will be a Flash Player 9 for Linux (but not till 2007), and Darron Schall has announced something to do with it when it arrives. There is also a new Flash on Linux engineer at Adobe, who sounds like he wants to consider community opinion on various issues.

Community building

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Hello, Planet NZTech!

First, a bit about myself; I currently work as a systems analyst/engineer/architect for a Hamilton company, mostly doing Windows and Linux consulting work; I'm equally conversant in both, which might make for some varied opinions! I'm the secretary and general go-to-guy for the Waikato Linux Users Group, and I've just joined the New Zealand Open Source Society (see below).

I'd thought about keeping a log of the interesting things I find on the 'net for a while, mostly because I often expand on stuff that you can't find much information on and end up writing full guides, but there are a lot of little things that I'd like the web to know (and possibly comment on), but can't really find which wiki page to write about them on. The thing that actually convinced me was the idea that people wouldn't read my post on my own personal page, but as part of a community aggregator, in this case Planet WLUG or Planet NZTech.

I run a BitTorrent tracker. It tracks music bootlegs, mostly concert recordings and TV appearances (of an artist that has expressed that he is happy with non-commercial distribution of his gigs).

A number of people with an interest in the artist have found the site, and bought their collections to it, which is great. Why should you have to burn discs and post them around the world, with a recipient possibly waiting weeks for them to arrive? However, there are a couple of groups of people who use the site First, there are the small number of people who have used other trackers before, know how it all works, and have a passing interest in joining up and secondly, there are the neophyte but more hardcore fans who, when you offer a copy of a show on a mailing list, all ask how much they can PayPal you, and how many blank discs you want.

I've worked on the second set of people for a long time - I started an FTP site before P2P really existed, and some of them haven't even grasped the concept of that (no, you don't have your own username, you share the same one as everyone else...) Unfortunately, just as they started getting it all worked out, technology moved on, and now I'm having to teach people a whole new set of tricks.

These are all good people, very eager, but who just can't understand NAT and ports and speed limits staying-on-to-seed. The trick is building a community around them and having them help each other, and convincing the somewhat-incorrectly-named "old guard", who are only used to dealing with other people who understand the technology, to help and nurture the new people. It is somewhat easier with BitTorrent, where the more people you have the better your connections can be, and where all you have to do is to leave your window open. It takes time, but if you can encourage everyone to help everyone else, then there far less burden on any one person.

I mentioned above about the New Zealand Open Source Society. The society has been active in challenging patents and advising Government departments. I hope to be able to assist the society in building a community between the Linux and BSD user groups, programming language groups, and anyone else with a shared interest. Sometimes it's hard to sell the concepts of open source to people who don't really even know what software is, but each step is a step forward, and the more you can empower other groups to spread the word for you, the better.

In other news, I'm currently downloading Windows Vista beta 2 for a play, but check out these Vista keynote videos!

Best description of the open source model I've ever heard

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Linus Torvalds:

In fact, I often compare open source to science. To where science took this whole notion of developing ideas in the open and improving on other peoples' ideas and making it into what science is today, and the incredible advances that we have had. And I compare that to witchcraft and alchemy, where openness was something you didn't do. So openness is not something new, it is something that actually has worked for a long time.

(Source: CNN interview)

In other news-stolen-from-Slashdot today, Peter Calveley, a New Zealand actor, has convinced the USPTO to reconsider Amazon's one-click ordering patent.

"Solitaire.exe is missing, you'll need to restart your router..."

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

I have an i-mate Smartphone 5, and have had no end of trouble with messaging on it. It was about two months after I got it that I managed to make it sync with our Exchange server at work, even though my old SP2 could do it fine.

PXTs (multimedia messages) were eventually made to go, but lately I have been unable to receive any more than the notification I have messages to download. Looked into it tonight: "There is not enough free space for message downloading. Please free up some space and try again."

The solution? You're not going to believe it... "go to Internet Explorer and delete your temporary files". I don't know how many times I've heard people told to do that to fix routing problems on the Internet that obviously have nothing to do with it, and on a completely different device it turns out to solve the problem. Go figure.

(Other solutions seem to be available; either upgrade firmware, which will no doubt cause pain, or edit a registry key.)

GNOME Remote Desktop Client

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Found through reading the dapper-changes list (thanks Matt): Gnome-RDP, a graphical front end for RDP (rdesktop), VNC (tightvnc) and SSH (via gnome-terminal). Written in .NET with GTK#. Looks good, will install it later and have a play.

Rock rock rock paper scissors

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Wow. I went to IHUG's Rock-Paper-Scissors competition website last night in Firefox on my Windows laptop, and there was a WMV plugin sitting there. I clicked play, and nothing happened. Oh well.

The next morning, I had need to find the website again to post a link to it, and so I opened it in Firefox on my Ubuntu pre-Dapper PC, and lo - the video starts playing all by itself. Most unspected but cool. Totem and GStreamer have come a long way.