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November 28, 2007

No More Free Agency

After years of working as a free agent, I have accepted real gainful employment from a large and somewhat well known company. So if you need a mouse, keyboard, webcam, speakers, remote, or digital music boxe, I am your go to guy.

This is a bit of a change for me since I have been working in web development for almost a decade and this new position will be working on software for actual real world consumer electronics but I am ready for the challenge.

I took the position of a Systems Software Engineer which is part software architect, part project manager, and part UN negotiator. It won't be nearly as challenging as running a small business day to day, but I am looking forward to a little break.

Posted by Hefe at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2007

Ubuntu Totally Rocks

Ok, so I know I said that Ubuntu was terrible. I had a horrible experience with the installation and it seemed like it was never going to install. As you recall, I was unable to even get past the "simple" installation process. The notebook I was going to use for the installation is a Dell Latitude D600. It seemed to have the minimum specifications to install Ubuntu, but here's the kicker. The minimum memory required is more like 1Gb than 256mb. Sure, it might have finally installed at some point, but the PC was so busy thrashing that it never actually got to installing the OS.

I tried the version of the installer that was text based and that almost installed, but once I finally got to the point where X starts up, the system stopped responding.

The solution: 1Gb of memory. That made everything work very well and I'm staring to get used to Gnome. I normally use KDE but Gnome seems to work pretty well. It just seems a bit too much like Windows.

What I really like about the Ubuntu system is actually what I like about Gentoo. It is really easy to get packages and customize your installation just the way you like it. Unlike Gentoo, you don't compile the packages so you are not getting the best overall performance, but you are getting packages that will probably play to together.

So what didn't work? The biggest issue I had was with the Broadcom wireless card. In order to get things working, I had to get the original windows based drivers and rip the firmware out of the driver, and externally load it into the wireless card. It seems there was some licensing issue with Broadcom and to avoid problems the Ubuntu folks just decided to leave the drivers out of the distribution.

There are a number of different packages that are not supported or get blacklisted for different somewhat arbitrary reasons, but all and all I was able to create a pretty good portable we development platform.

Posted by Hefe at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2007

Ubuntu Totally Stinks

Ok, so I decided I should try one of the Linux for the masses distros, and thought why not try Linux lite (Ubuntu). It sounded great and looked pretty cool. Packaged Linux that I could just load and go. The promise of Ubuntu is simple installation and long term support without the need to compile, build, or configure anything.

If you look at the site they have a bunch of different different specialized versions of the OS for LAMP servers, education support, thin clients, kde users... It all seemed so promising. I decided I needed to do some testing and tried loading the latest version of the workstation installation on my dell laptop. The installation hung... Hmmm... not to cool. I then thought, I'll load the server installation on the notebook and then add the X packages later. The server loaded, but when I tried to boot the finished product I got this message "The cpu is too old for this kernel". Now that bit of info would have been helpful before I decided to go forward with the load. So I thought I'll step back one release just to check it out. I loaded the 6.0x version of the server, it loaded and then on reboot it hung expanding the kernel. I'm not very impressed.

What can I tell you, Ubuntu might work for some people, but I must be one of the totally unlucky people that can't use the Linux for the masses. At any rate, all I can say is that Ubuntu is a smelly stinky waste of time.

Posted by Hefe at 08:53 PM

November 10, 2007

I'm A Gentoo Guy

I used to be very fond of RedHat. I liked the idea that you put in the CD, loaded the OS, selected your packages, and you were golden. If you needed anything you just loaded the RPM and presto, you had the stuff.

Well, I have a server that is still running RedHat 7.3. The main reason for this is that, well... i suppose i was just too lazy or scared to update it. I mean, if it's not broke don't fix it right? So I decided I wanted to upgrade it and found out that waiting a couple years to do an update was really not the best idea. There was no clear upgrade path for me and I was pretty stuck.

I looked around for alternatives (RedHat was now Fedora, there were some new distros), and I decided that Gentoo was a pretty good alternative. It had the stability, features, and packages of a mature distro and provided this hot update feature using emerge. Ok, I was sold and loaded an old notbook to try it out. Well it wasn't easy or simple to get things working. It took about a week to work out all the small details and at least a day to install KDE. Once it was done, I was once again golden.

Now I suppose I am a Gentoo guy. I like the idea that I can configure the system exactly the way I want (control freak) and i can update the old system with an emerge world command. Sweet.

I must say that over the last week i've been updating an old notebook computer I had lying around to be a gentoo server and now after 4 days and about 42 hours of compiling source code, I still don't have much of a system. I'm not sure when it will be done, but when it is I will be totally golden.

I did find it funny that this article What Your Linux Distro Says About You did seem pretty accurate, but it does paint me as a super geek (not the case I assure you). I haven't gotten a tattoo yet :)

I do plan to look into some of the other distros just to see if I'm missing anything. I'll probably start with Ubuntu (I used to be a MS Windows guy)

Posted by Hefe at 08:27 PM | Comments (1)

November 09, 2007

Autum in Yosemite

Hefita and I decided we needed a little break from the crazy world and trundled off to Yosemite last week. We found that the park is fairly deserted in late October and the park is really in transition. The trees are changing colors (if they can) and the weather is pleasant but a bit unpredictable.

We decided to stay at the Wawona Hotel since we had never been there and it seemed quite and tucked away. We opted for a room with a privy and were happy to have reserved such a room in advance. When we checked in there were many people surprised to find that they would have to share a bathroom with others.

The hotel was great but there is only a single dining room and it only servers food at certain hours. Since we were staying there for the week we were going the have everything on the menu at least twice. The other problem with the hotel being tucked away was that we had to drive at least an hour to most of the major attractions, trails, etc. It was cool, but after 4 days of driving at least 2-3 hours we decided to hang around the hotel and take some of the more civilized hikes that were nearby. We also bought a cooler and packed it with sandwich and snack items so we could eat when we wanted and have a bit of variety.

We did take a bunch of pictures, check out the photostream

Posted by Hefe at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2007

IE and Nested Forms

I was just adding a new feature to the beneighbor.com website to take the user to the last page they visted when they complete login. Before this I was simply sending the user to the homepage of the site. This approach was not very user friendly and I wanted to have the user go back to the page that prompted the login. So I added a hidden field that would hold the return page and any CGI parameters to the login page and loaded that when the page was rendered. The login form is something like this

  <input for username>
  <input for password>
  <submit for login form>
  <form for password retreival>
   <input for email>    <submit for email form>
 <hidden field for return>(broken on IE7)

Well this worked fine for Firefox, but for IE7, the hidden field was blank. I thought about it for a bit and decided that IE expected the hidden field to be before the submit button, not just inside the form tag. Pretty bonehead if you ask me, but whatever. I moved the tag to just after the fieldset start tag and it worked. Just something to remember when you have nested forms.

Posted by Hefe at 02:33 PM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2007

A Clean Sweep

I have to say that sometimes baseball really stinks. Take the World Series this year. Boston simply rolled over the Rockies. It was as if the Rockies had their big chance and decided not to show up for the game. I'm an AL guy through and through, but I was really pulling for the Rockies. Anyway, not much of a series this year and I'm glad I didn't bother to watch it past game one. I hate sweeps in World Series, it just makes for bad baseball.

Posted by Hefe at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)