January 2002 Archives

After many years of procrastination, I am the proud owner of my own domain name olethros.com. At the moment, i'm simply doing a redirection to this old zip account. However I will be migrating to virtual hosting when I get time.

Expect a redesigned website when this happens (thus expect this to not happen any time soon!)

I must thank Michelle for arranging this domain for me

Here's hoping: iPod drive set to reach 20GB? - "Toshiba has announced 10 and 20GB versions of its 1.8-inch drives, the 5GB versions of which are employed in Apple's iPod."

This news/speculation taken from http://xspot.randomwalks.com/

This is all that is holding me back as my mp3 collection is much larger than the current 5 gig

I was reading is article on The new slackers today, I felt quite jealous that I couldn't do similar. Not many of my good friends work 9-5, Mon-Fri.

I know this is a feeling experienced by many, particularly during the mid twenties. I even watched my ex-girlfriend go through this same process. A year on and I'm finally starting to get what had been running through her head regarding change/travel/variety/relaxation/re-focus.

Is this just another form of mid life crisis?

Regardless, I am suddenly for the first time in a long time feeling that I need to make a major change. I'm not sure what that will entail yet, it could be something physical, lifestyle related, a new world view, travel or maybe i am finally ready to enter into a new relationship.

I'm not one for new years resolutions, and normally when I actually stop to think about it, I'm satisfied with the way I am. Yet at the moment, I cannot seem to garner that satisfaction.

I will soon have clocked up 8 years at the same company, and 5 years working in the same job/department. My co-workers keep on telling me i've only got 2 years more to work until i'm eligible for long service leave. Why then do I feel so much like leaving it all/walking away and spending 6-12 months doing other things (a course/travel/personal projects)

Through my life, I have mostly taken the well travelled road (to continue my overworked metaphor), my current job is very much evidence of that. Although I am actually looking forward to becoming an old silver haired eccentric, I don't know if I can honestly be this without having experienced aspects of life that my current environment cannot include.

Computers are funny things, here they are trumpeting "we can do things faster, better more efficiently", it's this kind of line that has been paraphrased in so many glossy sales brocheures over the years.

The internet was pushed the same way, and as a result people are continually pushing for faster computers, higher speed links to the internet etc. The question I have is, do we really need all of this.

One of the biggest driving forces in computing is the games market. Every new game has higher computer requirements, often for little real advantage in gameplay. There are about two games I can think of from the past 10 years of gaming which have used new hardware in an innovative manner

I was talking to a friend today about old computer hardware and it's use. I personally feel guilty that one of my old macs sits abandoned currently because I now have a faster mac which can accept more modern devices. He mentioned re-using his old computer as a render box, I pointed out that to do this properly would require software that was capable of operating in a distributed fashion. Not many apps offer this functionality even those that fall into the professional category.

It seems that distributed processing is limited to high-end specialised setups like those used by special effects production companies and to defeating encryption or finding signs of aliens

Old hardware seems to either be handed down to those more needy or for those more technically capable, turned into a linux/bsd server of some sort.

I know in part that our capitalist society means that if we were all to suddenly find ways to extend the life of our older computers, companies like Apple and Microsoft would cease to exist.

However I am amazed how often I see people using computers in an inefficent manner. At work, people will ask me how to automate something or make something simpler. Often a small change can result in a significant improvement in efficency.

Where does the blame lie for this? Definitely not with the computer, it simply does what we and/or the programmers of the application tell it to do.

So is the blame with the users? As my day job is as a system administrator, I love to blame the users. Honestly though in part they do have to shoulder some of the blame. Too many times computer purchasing decisions come down to money. If everyone had made decisions based on ease of use and productivity gains, we might not be in the situation where 90% of the world uses an operating system which has only poked it's head out of the dark ages

I prefer to blame the programmers, those geek-coders who by all myths subsist on pizza and jolt cola. After all, if these programmers were to sit down with the users and ask them what they actually wanted. Then sift through and implement the 20% of features mentioned by 80% of those surveryed, we might just end up with a utopian software paradise.

If any programmers out there are listening:

Things that would bring me closer to computer utopia:

  • Quick and dirty distributed processing, something that could patch the OS to do it's work, or maybe a nicely bundled language neutral shared library that other software delevopers could optionally hook into. Should be cross platform/os

  • Agent style applications, the next logical step from wizards and assistants. Examples include: Agent which scans your mp3 collection and then suggests/downloads/buys artists you might like. Anything which watches how you work/think/use the computer and learns how to automate/simplify what you are doing. Most early examples of this I have seen are server side, or incredibly annoying - eg the office paper clip.

  • computing that scales, why is it that some apps have incredibly high computer requirements when in reality, they could run on slower machines without the "bells and whistles"

  • Remote desktops, this ties in with the previous item, all OSs should be capable of hosting remote displays, a feature implemented in X11 and in the Terminal Services facility within Windows for example. The remote desktop should be scalable, so that apps can be run in a more slim fashion to cater for bottlenecks like the network path and the remote hardware

  • backup solutions that minimise the data backed up. So many backup solutions focus only on streaming/imaging the contents of a hard disk. We are heading towards 200Gig drives on the desktop yet most people still only have CD-Rs as a backup medium. In reality most people don't generate enough data to fill a single CD, but the OS and the applications that layer on top don't make it easy to make that differentation especially when it comes to restoration.

Anyone out there who reads this little log who is also using grey matter.

There's a minor update out, 1.21c. The update includes a few nice things like encrypted passwords and default templates that are XHTML 1.0 compliant. I found upgrading a little annoying as the upgrade package is only made available for those running greymatter on a non-unix host.

However it seems to be a simple fix

  1. make a backup of all the .cgi files in your cgi-bin location

  2. get the windows upgrade package from greylogs, unzip it, open the .cgi files in your preferred high-end text editor (I used BBEdit), re-save with Unix line endings

  3. upload via ftp these modified .cgi files to your cgi-bin location

  4. chmod these .cgi files to 755, leave your older .cgi files untouched

  5. login as normal, you will get an "upgrade screen"

  6. just in case, perform a diagnostics and repair

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

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