I SSH between my many computers several times in the course of a day. Today when I went to SSH to my web server I couldn't quite figure out what was wrong. I could ping the IP address but SSH just didn't want to work. I tried restarting the SSH daemon and when that didn't work, I rebooted the entire box. After it still didn't work, it finally hit me: I forgot to renew my domain name and it was set to expire on July 17th! To confirm, I did a simple dig lookup:
; <<>> DiG 9.4.2-P2 <<>> xaero.org
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 46405
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 2, ADDITIONAL: 0
;; QUESTION SECTION:
;xaero.org. IN A
;; ANSWER SECTION:
xaero.org. 85511 IN A 126.96.36.199
;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
xaero.org. 85511 IN NS expired-domain-ns50.directnic.com.
xaero.org. 85511 IN NS expired-domain-ns51.directnic.com.
;; Query time: 0 msec
;; SERVER: 127.0.0.1#53(127.0.0.1)
;; WHEN: Mon Jul 20 13:08:14 2009
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 124
Oops!! Needless to say, I very quickly renewed my domain name and within a few short hours my nameservers were happily serving up DNS again. Thankfully my registrar provides a grace period for renewing expired domains so they don't immediately get thrown back into the available pot. Next time I'll stamp a sticky note on my forehead.
No, I didn't fall off a cliff. Been busy with lots of stuff:
- Passed the CCDP ARCH test and became a CCDP on April 25th!
- Lots of house remodeling projects
- Working on my final Cisco test (for now : ), the MPLS exam
- Various other sundries
On the FreeBSD front, I found an old 250GB SATA drive and installed it in my current rig as the only drive (just to be sure I don't screw something up). Not surprisingly, rebuilding the kernel and world with the latest 7.2 Release is quite snappy as compared to the Thinkpad T40. I was pleased that the Nvidia driver in ports worked without a hitch though it has no 3D acceleration whatsoever. For that you need Nouveau. I went my usual install route: install the minimal FreeBSD distribution, build world and build kernel, build Xorg from ports (including mouse, keyboard, Nvidia driver, and vesa driver for backup) with HAL support, build some sort of window manager (Fluxbox is my current favorite), install a shell (I'm torn between bash and zsh), and install Firefox 3. The entire process took about an hour and a half.
All of my hardware either worked out of the box or worked after a few tweaks but I used the i386 version of FreeBSD, not the AMD64 version. Before I built HAL, I had to use a PS/2 keyboard in order to actually install. Either I missed something or USB hotplug support isn't there out of the box and needs to be added to rc.conf. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my Blackberry was recognized when I plugged it in. It didn't automount or anything but it was neat to see it get recognized. I've yet to get it to work, but there is a ports version of barry available. Barry is a little rough around the edges but I was able to back up my Blackberry Curve 8320 to my Linux box with it.
It seems like FreeBSD is maturing and quite rapidly. Now that VirtualBox is coming for FreeBSD, the only barrier left is either getting a native 64-bit Flash plugin/player or for Gnash to mature rapidly. I tried Gnash on i386 FreeBSD and it works, but only part of the time.
I still watch with a bit of wonder and amazement at the effort that goes into an Open Source operating system and applications. That the developers can get their projects working with little or no support from hardware vendors is nothing short of amazing.
Not bad for his first month in office. Hugo Chavez would be proud:
- The Dow at a 10-year low.
- A tax cheat running the IRS
- Another tax cheat as the Chief of Staff
- A trillion-dollar plus federal deficit
- Over one-half of voters relieved of any federal tax liability
- Government mandated limits on executive compensation
- Three failed attempts and still no Commerce Secretary
- Tom Daschle rides his free limo into the sunset - after paying taxes he evaded.
- The White House performance czar turns out to be a tax cheat also
- Lobbyists hired to work for the Obama Administration
- The census gets politicized
- Double government spending in one year
- The word "freedom" fades into obscurity
- Increasing home loan mortgage rates across the board
- Millions of Americans made dependent on government
- Moving unionization-by-intimidation forward
- Welfare checks become "tax cuts."
- Illegal aliens free to work on taxpayer-funded "stimulus" projects
- Welfare reform reversed, states ordered to increase welfare roles
- Move to silence critical talk radio shows
- Selling Senate seats
- Obama books in religious sections of book stores
- More government workers, not private sector jobs
- A government bureaucracy to intrude on doctor/patient relationships
- Stage set for medical services rationing
- Annual welfare checks for middle income families
Hey, you voted for him and the media made him out to be a God even though the only thing he's accomplished as an adult is writing two racist books. You get what you pay for. Thanks to Neal's Nuze for the list.
Now that I have your attention, let's compare the U.S. to Argentina...
As anyone who has known me knows, I'm definitely a Mac user. I've used Apple hardware on and off since the Apple II days. The first Mac I actually bought, however, was a G4 tower. Most of the time before that was spent hating Apple and suffering in a Windows world.
This went on until a good friend took the time to show me what his G3 could actually do. Of course, back then, Mac OS 8 was the de facto OS and Mac OS X was still a research project. I initially resisted but started liking what I saw enough to say "I want one!". It was then that I bought my first Macintosh, a 400 Mhz PowerPC G4 PowerMac. It came with 64 MB of RAM, an 2x AGP ATI video card with 16 MB of RAM and a whopping 20 GB hard drive. It also came with the venerable 400 MHz PowerPC 7400 (G4) processor with the AltiVec "Velocity Engine" vector processing unit and 1 MB of backside cache. This CPU smoked any Intel Pentium 3 at the time and was classified by the U.S. Government as a supercomputer since it was capable of at least a Gigaflop of performance. Another nifty component this machine has is a gigabit Ethernet interface. No other PC I can remember at that time (we're talking late 1999, early 2000) had that and most didn't have an Ethernet interface (56k was still the bomb-diggity). Needless to say, for $1599, this was a very nice Macintosh.
I endured many months of ridicule but really enjoyed my G4. One very interesting point was that the Playstation emulator, Connectix Virtual Game Station, actually ran Playstation games on my G4 faster than a Playstation! I continued to love my G4 until I decided it was time to go back to school.
At that point, I got my first Apple notebook, the Powerbook G4 Titanium 867. It basically had double the specs of the PowerMac. I wound up selling my PowerMac to a friend that needed a new machine which I thoroughly regret to this day. I had been running Mac OS X 10.0, then 10.1 on the PowerMac with Mac OS 9 "Classic" alongside it. The PowerBook came with Mac OS X 10.2 "Jaguar" and it was a rather large bump in speed from earlier releases as well as actually having software to use.
Shortly before graduation in 2004 I bought a shiny new PowerMac G5 (Dual 2.0) as well as a 23" Apple flat panel (graduation present to myself of course!). It had easily six to ten times the speed of my notebook and is what I currently still have. Not planning on selling it and making the same mistake twice!
Since that time, a subtle but continuous shift has been going on with the direction Apple has taken its business. Back when Mac OS X debuted, Apple was very gung-ho about it's core business: selling Macs. It also had a miniscule share of the overall PC market, so it was still playing catch up after the success of the iMac line. Development of new hardware and Mac OS X happened at a frenzied pace, as evidenced by all the announcements of cool new technology. This continued to happen until around 2006, when the iPod really started becoming a large part of Apple's revenue. Then the iPhone debuted in 2007. And there was the Apple TV. Suddenly, Apple is no longer a PC maker and is instead a consumer electronics maker. They even dropped "Computer" from their name.
I started noticing many changes to what were Apple's core business: Macs and Mac OS X. Now there's nothing but tie-ins to the iTunes store or some other non-PC product or service. New notebooks now have HDCP built in to appease Hollywood in its neverending quest to make water not wet. Everything Apple does surrounds the iPod line or the iPhone now. People say it's supposed to be a halo effect to get you to buy a Mac but I call bullshit on this one. If Apple can sell an iPhone to someone who just wants to make phone calls, they will. There's no indication at the AT&T store that you should also own a Macintosh to get the best experience. Apple is now the new Sony: a consumer electronics behemoth that does much, but nothing very well in particular. Their OS is now comparable to Windows: a tiny portion of it is engineered to get stuff done and the rest is engineered to get in your way and wrest control of your computer from you. And resist as I could, I just couldn't stay away. Until now.
For the past several months, I've been evaluating more than one Free/Open source operating system for use as a replacement. After lots of time spent on all three, I wound up settling on Debian GNU/Linux. Why? Because Debian is a very mature and actively developed distribution of Linux. I tried Ubuntu for a month and a half and it just feels like it's got more "stuff" than I need. I presume this is for handholding new Linux users. It would appear that I'm not the only one getting a little more than sick of the way Apple treats its power users. Two "A-list" bloggers (gawd I hate that word), Mark Pilgrim and Cory Doctorow, are also former Mac users and for very much the same reasons I am (only they did it 3 years ago).
I've used Linux plenty in the past, first installing Red Hat 5.1 on an old 486 back in the day and even managing to get X windows to bend to my will. Today's Linux distros are nothing like that. Everything just kind of works and the stuff that doesn't isn't so hard to fix. I would place the hardware support in Linux about where Windows 98 was: if it works, it works, but if not, prepare to get dirty. To that end, I built a pretty nice box:
* Intel Quad Core Q6600 CPU
* 2 GB PC-8500 DDR 2 RAM
* 1 TB Seagate SATA hard disk
* Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT video card with 1GB RAM
* Gigabyte EP45-DS3l motherboard
* Logitech wireless mouse, wired keyboard
* Repurposed LaCie Big Disk Extreme 500GB Firewire 800 drive
* PCI express Firewire 800 card
* Dual layer DVD burner
By today's standards, these specs are probably a mid-range Windows Vista machine. Yet, by running Debian, I get spectacular performance, no annoying product tie-ins, and best of all, my operating system does what I want and nothing more (yes, that's you, DRM). In layman's terms, this means I control my computer at all times instead of being forced to prop up an entire industry dedicated to preventing me from doing what I want with the stuff I've got. For those of you with entirely too much time (hey, you've made it this far), read here about what goes into ensuring you can't "pirate" content on Windows Vista.
As a parting note, it was nice to build a PC again after a 4 year hiatus. I got all that hardware for less than the cost of a Mac mini and it's certainly more capable. I was rather shocked at just how cheap and powerful PC hardware has become as of late. Since I didn't have to buy a PC and pay the Windows tax, I also saved more cash. And in these times, that's certaintly a good thing. Next time I'll post a list of what apps I'm using so any Linux enthusiasts out there can compare and contrast.
So long Apple, it was fun while you were a PC company.
I've happily been using the PowerMac G5 I bought in mid-2004. During this time, Apple has released many, many updates (some specific to the G5). These days, not so much, especially now that all their machines have Intel processors.
One nagging thing about the G5 (and the Mac Pro, from what I've read) is that the internal fans are controlled by the operating system. Yes, there are benefits to that, but there's one major drawback which has yet to stay fixed as far as the G5: The annoying fan rev-up problem.
This has been quite a contentious issue since the G5's release and seemed to particularly impact the late 2004 (Rev B.) G5s. I own a dual 2 Ghz G5 and this problem is still a... problem. For those that aren't familiar with the the fan rev up problem, basically it is this: every so often, no matter what you do, even if it's just mousing over the dock, your fans will spin up, sometimes sounding like a 747 taking off. This is the definition of annoying.
I can remember countless forum posts on the topic when it first arose and the solutions offered. The one solution that seems to actually work to this day is to change your processor speed setting from the default Automatic to Highest under Energy Saver under System Preferences. While I'm glad this does work (well, the fans don't go supersonic, but they do rev a little occasionally), I don't think I should have to fix the problem myself. I happen to like the Automatic setting because it clocks down the CPUs as needed, therefore keeping them cooler and using less energy.
In Mac OS X 10.3.8, the problem was at its worst. Apple finally responded and fixed it in 10.3.9, which I was happily using until Tiger (10.4) came out. From then on, it was fan rev city. As of this post, the latest version of Mac OS X, 10.4.9 still does not fix this. I can't figure out why this hasn't been completely fixed, but it sure is annoying. If anyone out there knows of a better, more permanent fix so I can go back to using the Automatic processor setting, I'd love to hear it. For the record, my Apple Hardware Test disc reports no problems.
Well, after owning a very nifty smartphone for the better part of 4 years, the unthinkable has finally happened: I dropped it on the pavement. I remember getting this thing and absolutely falling in love with it. After all, it's the only mobile phone I could play Doom on! I picked up a replacement, albeit a weak one. It's a Motorola RAZR V3. It does what I need for now. I'm sure I'll eventually get another smartphone when the time comes; a P990 sounds good, but the almost $1100 price tag does not.
I will say though, the Sony Ericsson phones are quite impressive. On the down side, my P800 was a tri-band (900/1800/1900 Mhz) phone, and Cingular's switch to the 850 Mhz band left me with rather shitty reception and frequent dropped calls. I've also dropped the phone on other occasions, but as with this occasion, the phone was in the carry case. Unlike this occasion, it was only on carpet. My new RAZR is a quad-band (It's the U.K. version, not a locked U.S. version) phone so I get full bars and much clearer calls almost everywhere I go. Funnily enough, the model I ordered came with a U.K. plug and a 2 prong U.S. mains adapter. Good times.
If you want to see the final death blow to my P800, here's a few pics (both open in a new window):
Just looking at the pictures you might say "But it's just a cracked screen! Surely you can still use it!". Wrong. It's a smartphone, and the screen is a touch screen. No touch screen, no phone. At this point, all I can do is turn it off and on. Oh well, look for a RAZR review soon!
With MacWorld only 5 days away, I was wondering what new announcements everybody is looking forward to. I'm personally looking forward to hearing about the long-rumored about iWorks suite. Microsoft Office on Mac OS X is slow and kludgy at best (and I'm using a dual 2 Ghz G5). AppleWorks is horribly out of date (better than five years old). We need a modern solution, Apple! I'm also interested in hearing about the sub-$500 "headless" Mac. Argh, the anticipation is killing me already!
So slow in fact that I went out with a buddy to catch a movie. We saw Napoleon Dynamite, which a few other friends have been raving about. When I saw the previews for it, I thought it looked silly. Now that I've seen it, I'm not sure what to make of it. Might not want to continue reading if you haven't seen it. It looks like another "underdog" story where some guy who constantly gets shat on finally gets his. That or it's 90 minutes of rambling by some dork from Bumsville, Idaho. In the movie, Napoleon helps his buddy Pedro become class president by doing an unusual dance routine in front of the entire class.
There's some funny scenes in the movie, especially when Napoleon chucks a big 'ol grapefruit into his uncle's van and they get into it. Most of the laughs are chuckles though. Don't expect to fall off your chair laughing unless you're easily amused. If you haven't already seen it, you might wanna wait till it hits your local movie rental place.
What turned out to be a pretty decent day at work quickly became an series of headaches and frustrations. Read on dear reader(s) for the PowerBook Saga:
It all started this past Saturday, March 20th, around 8:30 p.m. when I was leaving work. I stuck my beloved Titanium PowerBook G4 in its carry case and slipped that into my book bag (I'm a student after all, and work is a great place to get homework done...). I pick the book bag off my chair and go to slip the straps over my shoulders and *whoosh*, the damn thing slips from my hand as the straps come apart and surges straight down to the floor. My heart skips a beat and my testicles shrink up into my body (ok, that was a bit graphic) as I stare at my fallen gear.
I didn't mind so much that my book bag fell (after all, books are pretty durable), but the fact that the PowerBook was in the front of the bag and hit the floor first made it that much more painful. So I took it out of the bag and carry case for a damage assessment. At this point I’m thinking it’s probably ruined and I should’ve made a backup of my data, but I was pleased to find that there was no case damage and more importantly, no screen damage. What I did find, however, was that I broke the screen release button on the front. Apparently, the PowerBook hit the floor in an almost vertical position and the pressure on the screen latch caused the latch button to break where it catches the latch. So, nothing horrible, but now I can’t close the screen. I know what you’re thinking, it’s just a button and there’s no other damage, so who cares? Obviously, you’ve never owned a Mac or any Apple product. My PowerBook is my baby, my pride and joy. So I tell my colleague that I didn’t completely fuck it up and put it back in its case and back into my book bag and reluctantly go home.
I think it really hit me when I finally got home and set it on my desk. I F’d it up and will never be able to close the screen again says I. It’s tainted, no longer the pure blissful entity it once was. I kept glancing over at it the rest of the evening as I enjoyed a good game of Deus Ex: Invisible war. As sure as I was staring at it, it was staring back at me. Hmm, mind games with my computer. So I finally call it quits and hit the sack around 3 a.m.
I wasn’t in such a bad mood Sunday and so decided to take a trip to the Apple Store to get a repair estimate. Can't be that much to replace a little button. Here’s where the headaches and frustration kick in. The “Genius” (notice the quotes) at the Genius Bar (where only the most knowledgeable Apple technicians work, for those of you that have never been to an Apple Store) said that the entire upper portion of the case would have to be replaced. I politely said this was absolutely ridiculous and asked why the button couldn’t be replaced. Can’t just replace that little button with a teeny chip off of it preventing the screen from staying latched. Nope, we’ve gotta send it off to Apple for a full inspection and repair at a measly $400 cost for you, the loyal Apple customer. I asked if he had any other recommendations and he said I could shop around, maybe get a quote from CompUSA or something. So I drove a few blocks and talked to a technician there. He said the Mac technician wasn’t on duty and gave me a number to call the next day. He also informed me that they have a labor charge of $175 an hour. Boy, that’s kinda “up there”, I think. So, with blood pressure rising and headaches aplenty, I leave the store and head home, all the while thinking, “Which one wants to screw me worse?”
When I got home, I was determined to find an answer somewhere. I hit the Apple Discussion Boards. Somebody there has to have an answer. And answer they did. I thought my woes were bad. I read a post where some guy tripped over the power cord and dented the entire side of his week-old PowerBook. Ouch. My answer (and salvation) came in a post in this guy’s discussion pointing him to PBParts.com. So, I thought “What the hell?” and clicked away.
Pay dirt! Eureka! I found exactly what I needed for $330 cheaper. So I ordered the Latch Release Button for a mere $70 (still not cheap, but way better than $400 and a week without a notebook that I cannot be without). However, only one small problem still remains. How on Earth do I replace this thing?
To find an answer, I emailed PBParts and ask if they include installation instructions with the parts they ship. I got a response a few hours later stating they cannot include instructions (fair enough), but can walk me through the process. That’s what I call service!
A day later (the 23rd, or yesterday to be exact), I get my latch release button in a big FedEx envelope. So I rip the sucker open to find a blob of bubble tape surrounding a teeny tiny aluminum button with a spring included.
I decide to strike out on my own and in about 30 minute’s time, my PowerBook is whole once again! Replacing the button is a fairly straightforward process. Take off the cover, take out the hard drive, detach the old spring and swap out the button. Couldn’t be simpler. See, all stories do have a happy ending. I will be following the thread for the poor guy who dropped his new notebook though…
So what's the moral to my story? Always get a second opinion. Shop around for any repairs you need. There's always a better deal. Secondly, you should be ashamed of yourself Apple. I realize you are in the computer business to make money, but trying to screw your customers like that won't keep you in business for long. I pity the clueless customer that would go for such an outrageous prognosis. That kind of attitude has put a severe damper on my desire to buy a G5 or any new Apple product for that matter. You're lucky I worship my PowerBook.