255 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009
I started with a Psion Siena (the 3 series was a bit too expensive for me at the time, as was the 5): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_Siena It was OK, though kept falling out of my top pocket. It allowed me to to keep track of my overtime in the run up to Y2K and the dot com boom!
After that I went to a Palm V, which I quite liked and in the end turned out to be a bit more useful than the Psion. Strangely I had sort-of dismissed my mate's Palm III (or soem varient) to get the Psion, so I could have saved myself money/grief.
The Palm was replaced by a Dell Axim X3i or X30 (I forget which). Whilst on the up side it had such nice things as a colour screen, WiFi and Bluetooth, it also had the nastiness that was Windows CE (or whatever it had been rebranded as at the time). To be honest it was a nightmare to configure as you were never really sure if settings had taken or not given the "not-quite-Windows" look/feel. Not helped by 3rd party software that was thrown on top. I recall that sorting WiFi out was a particular hassle.
Then that went, and I must have moved to phones I could sync with PC, so that would be S-E T610, Nokia N70 then N73, a work Blackberry 8900 Curve, an iPad2 and finally an iPhone 4S. And for a small device to do stuff I had an Asus EEE 701 for a while, which was great!
My wife has asked me to upgrade her 2007 MacBook. It's currently on 10.6 and it looks like it will only go to 10.7 (and some software she wants to run requires 10.8, but that's another story). So this evening I'll run some backups and clones and probably try and upgrade tomorrow. Hopefully it will still work after!
Meanwhile my 2008 MacPro is running 10.9, but I'm now a bit wary that the next OS X point release will not support the hardware. That will be a pity as it's still going strong (the odd hard drive and DIMM aside). I don't really like the new MacPro (or how much it will cost to more-or-less replicate what I have now), so it looks like I'll end up with a Mac Mini and loads of daisychained devices with the need for more power sockets...
I note that quite a few Sony shops in the UK (most of which were franchises I seem to recall) have also closed in the last few months.
Though to be honest even as a bit of a Sony fanboy I found their stores to be lacking in products on display. It's almost as if they didn't make AV amps or more than one BR player....
I finally saw a new Mac Pro the other day. Whilst it's an interesting concept, the fact that it starts at £2500 and will require external storage counts me out. So my 2008 Mac Pro will soldier on, but it's only a matter of time until the next release of Mac OS X decides not to support it.
Annoyed that I'll probably have to replace it with a Mac Mini and some sort of external storage that will no doubt require more cables everywhere and yet another plug socket.
Knowledgeable/experienced volunteers a must!
Some years ago I visted Vulcan XH558 at Bruntingthorpe whilst it was still being rebuilt. My friend and I were in the separate cockpit display that they had and ended up having a chat with an ex-RAF bod who used to do some of the electronic/comms on various Vulcan flights. Very enlightening it was too. It made the experience of seeing a Vulcan a lot more entertaining.
AT&T in Europe
AT&T (or at least the original AT&T, opposed to at&t of now) didn't seem to do very well on this side of the pond. Having worked for them twice in various guises I have found this out the hard way.
Quite a bit of Dell kit here, though it's been a long time since we had to speak to Dell themselves. Usually we figure out what we're after, use the website to get a full config and then send it to a few VARs for quotes. And usually the lowest quote wins, and it's usually a lower than what Dell can offer.
Some VARs are better than others of course. Once I was after a server with 2 disks mirrored for boot/apps and a single SSD for some RRD files. That option wasn't on the Dell config, so I asked 3 VARs if what I was after was possible. Only 1 VAR managed to tell me it was possible to do what I wanted and then provide the solution.
When I didn't get any mail on Saturday morning I figured something was up. The support/config website took a while to load and was a bit useless (and it said all was well).
I figured that Twitter would probably know what was going on, and it did.
I have to agree with other commentards, in this day an age a hosting company having such an outage is a pretty poor show.
"to ensure that an open-source firmware for the new router will be available for download"
Given the amount of time it took Linksys to bring out newer firmware for my X3500, I wouldn't hold my breath.
Re: better, how?
Over the past year we've inherited a lot of HP kit, and we're mainly a Dell shop. So I've got to see things from both sides. We have 3rd party hardware support, so I can't comment on any differences there.
We run a mish-mash of RHEL/CentOS and both Dell and HP provide firrmware updates for (Enterprise) Linux distros. I would say that HP's SPP/MCP is probably a bit more distro-friendly than Dell's OMSA, but they will both do RHEL and SUSE based distros.
From a firmware point of view getting hold it it (via the web) is easier for the Dell kit, as getting any info out of HPs website can be hit and miss. I also prefer the Dell OMSA method of getting a running server to update itself, rather than HP's SUM (I think) where you have to register a server and push it out. On a brief play with the latest version of SUM I found it to be quite dumbed-down and not as forthcoming with information on what you're pushing out to where.
For a one-off (ISO) boot firmware update I much prefer HP's Smart Update DVD than anything from Dell. Mainly as the HP method actually manages to update the lights out card you're probably using, whereas the Dell versions don't.
Which brings me on to lights out cards. Dell's DRAC offerings have improved quite a bit over the years, and iDRAC7 is pretty good. They must have been looking at HP, as now for the 'Enterprise' version where you can use the dedicated LOM port, a license is needed. Though I'm pretty sure you can still use the console, unlike HP's iLO3 where that's what you need the license for. With the iDRAC7 I'll say that it seems to have a better awareness of the other hardware in the server. So before you might have to run up the OMSA front end to see what was going on, but this (or a lot of it) now seems to be integrated into the DRAC, whereas as far as I know you'd have to fire up HP SMH separately.
One thing that HP iLO is still better than Dell iDRAC is the actual console. They both use Java to do all the hard work, but the iLO console is pretty rock solid. The iDRAC is still very flakey and will freeze/dropout at the most inopportune of times, usually on CentOS when the kernel selection screen kicks in...
On reflection, I think I slightly prefer HP kit but Dell isn't that far behind.
A small claim to fame for me is that my very first flight was in a Chipmunk and I was even allowed to briefly take control. Even better was the second (or third?) trip where some beginner aerobatics were attempted. I say attempted as my first loop ended in a stall, so I was told to try again. Happy days!
It must have been at the end of 93 when a friend of mine told me of a new game where the monsters turned the lights off at it was pretty scary. The university's networks ground to a halt under the original IPX multiplayer version.
A year or so later on my placement year I'd 'aqiuired' a small server for use as my desktop machine, so I threw on MSDOS 6.22 (with NT 3.51 on top). After hours I'd boot into DOS, load up the drivers and we'd deathmatch for a few hours.
And a year on from that (back at university) I'd started downloading the mods (Aliens and Star Wars being my faves), and even made my own maps, the best of which was a copy of my halls of residence. Every room had it's own theme vaguely related to the occupants. Not sure what Andrea the strange Italian made of his room really being a gateway into hell...
Big thumbs up to ID for this groundbreaking game!
Re: The Big Five
I did wonder about this, as PlusNet is owned by BT (but is a separate business). I guess PN et al would need a separate cort order to block things.
Meanwhile a quick bit of jiggery-pokery later and nastytorrentsite.com on 22.214.171.124 becomes nastytorrentsite.fu on 126.96.36.199, Google t'interweb spiders do their thing and it's back to normal.
I use Zenoss Core (the FOSS one) on a more system/application point of view. I've been using it since v1 and it's now v4.2.x. It takes a little while (and some Python) to get used to it, but it seems to be OK for my needs. I've written customised SNMP-based collector plugins to talk nicely to boxes running Dell OMSA, HP SMH or a plain shell script for VMs.
For all things syslog, instead of spamming Zenoss direct, we route all syslog messages via some central logger servers which run syslog-ng. syslog-ng is a replacement for normal syslog and it's pretty powerful in that you can create filters to match patterns etc and also re-arrange the actual message or override certain parts of it. This is handy when an application message, for example, says ERROR, but for some strange reason it actually has a level of critical. So in our case we tidy up messages (and filter out the crap) to make sure they're vaugely useful when they hit Zenoss. We've also customised the actual dashboard alerts and emails that Zenoss produces to make it a bit more useful.
However our US colleagues just seem to throw *everything* at Zenoss without a care, as such the front end is unusable as it has thousands of messages on it, and it just spams us all constantly as they take no care in trying to get quality alerts out of it. The result is very much "boy who cried wolf" and I've just set a rule up in Notes to ignore anything that comes from their servers to stop my mailbox hitting 100% every weekend.
Re: my favorite Internet Explorer Commercial
My fave IE ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB9fhjnJcB0
Unfortunately MS decided not to use it.
Just this very afternoon my old XP box at work was replaced by something slightly newer and more powerful running 7, with IE9.
Is X Y?
As a sys admin people frequently appear in my vacinity and say things like "Is box x running slow?" or "Is box X down". And I reply by saying "Are you asking me or telling me?".
Good for Mr Dell I'm sure, not sure about his staff though...
I look after 300+ Dell servers, and the odd DRAC dropout aside they're generally OK kit. So I hope this means that Dell (the company) will continue to shove out servers.
On the other hand due to personal experience, I hate those vulture capitalist scumbags Silver Lake with a passion. So if there are any Dell staffers reading, get ready for redundancies as that's SL's MO when it comes to making money.
I had something similar some time back when they were NTL. For a while my cable TV quality was horrible. Eventually an engineer was sent out and it was discovered that when one of my neighbours signed up, someone thought it would be a good idea to spur off my connection than to run a new cable out.
That was one of the reasons I dumped them. The other was by being bombarded with offers to use their broadband, which when contacted they said wasn't available as I was in an ex-C&W area. So why keep askign me and puuing leaflets in through the letterbox then...?
I suspect the lack of RT love is somewhat due to MS being rather late to the party and thier app store is (obviously) rather bare compared to the equiv iOS and 'droid. Plus calling it Windows, when it can't run existing (x86) Windows software also probably doesn't help.
Ironically it's for those reasons that I think the Pro could be moderately successful.
In both cases sales could be hampered by the general negative portrayal of Windows 8 (on the PC) due to TIFKAM. More irony in that TIFKAM is probably OK on touch devices. I was right when I said calling three different OS Windows 8 and foisting the same (mainly touch-based) interface on them all would not be a good idea.
At the moment I use VMware View Client and Citrix on both Mac and iPad. Being able to get to my trusty work Win 7 VM at home is a blessing. Esp on the iPad where I can usually sort out a quick work emergency without leaving the sofa. Though admittedly somewhere between Win 7 VM, VMware, iOS and more VMware some of the keyboard mapping gets a bit squiffy, no # for example which is a bit of a problem for a Linux guy!
Whilst I'm not a great fan of RDP (always seems to be slow and cumbersome to me) it would have come in handy the other weekend when my VM was playing up, the Citrix servers were down for maintenance and my work laptop has a dead CMOS battery which meant that the VPN client refused to work as the time/date was wrong. In the end I had to throw VMware View on my own Win 7 VM on the Mac (via Parallels), connect into another work VM and then remote desktop to my PC to run the VMware vSphere client to see what my work Win 7 VM was up to...
SGI, now there's a name (or ref to the orig Silicon Graphics Inc) I haven't heard for a while!
I recall visiting my friend who worked out near SF back in 1997 and we went to (old) SGI to play on some flight sim thingy where you sat (moveable?) pods and wore headsets. That was pretty impressive at the time.
We've got a PURE radio (DAB/FM/WiFi/Internet) in the kitchen that the missus likes to use at various times. I guess we've got a good signal (London) so I don't have any complaints. Though to be honest it is only used to play a handful of the main stations (I'm sure they're all on FM). And it's plugged into the wall, so no power problems. I'm pretty sure my amp has got DAB, but I never use it to listen to the radio. So even with it working in my house, I'm still pretty meh about it all.
Re: Desktop App Stores
In my case the answer is not entirely. Whilst I have got a few bits of software from the App Store on my Mac, most of it comes from external sources. I'd prefer to retain control of what I want to install on my own computer and where it comes from.
Re: For killing flies.....
I haven't seen them much over here (not that I've been looking), but when on holiday in South Africa a few years ago I became very proficient in smash-zapping flies. Also when they were at rest on a surface I learnt that if you v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y moved the racquet toward them and then as late as possible made the swipe then you'd usually get them as they attempted taking off.
One thing to note is not everything in the air is a fly and some wasps down there don't die when swiped, they just get very angry (like HULK angry)...
Local storage please!
Looks like I'll be hanging on to my 4S for a bit longer then. Potentially I could have gone for a 5S if it came in a 128GB flavour, though that would have cost a fortune SIM-free. I mean Apple are never going to put in an SD (or similar) slot, so it's going to have to be internal. They probably expect us all to plonk everything in the (i)Cloud and use all the 4G to drag it down...
All that aside I'm a bit meh about the 5S.
A long time ago I did some of the RedHat certification and got myself an RHCE. To do that required sitting in a classroom all day and fixing/configuring a PC to do various things. No notes were allowed and it was just you and the PC. The concept being that you had proven (under an NDA as well!) that you had the technical skills to get stuff done. I believe that some of the (higher?) Cisco certification also requires hands on.
I don't see the point of having paper-based or online (multiple choice?) questions for technical products when it comes to showing you know something. Surely the proof of your skill should be shown by actually doing something. I must admit when I looked at some of the Sun Solaris certification some time back it was based on mechanical learning and multiple choice qustions and I wasn't impressed.
Windows is Windows is Windows, except for those Windows
I can see why people would like/use a Surface Pro - tablety, does Windows stuff and you can throw on existing x86 software. Costs a bit though. Still horses for corses.
Surface RT on the other hand fails mainly because it's marketed as a Windows tablet, but won't run the aforementioned existing x86 software. We know that, but does Jo(e) Public. Meanwhile the same Jo(e) Public may also get a bit upset when the latest Angry Birds (or whatev) is not available on the MS apps store, whilst all their iOS/Android friends are playing. Oh and I don't think they'll be overly bothered about having a version of Office. Doesn't seem to do the iPad and various Android/Linux slabs any harm.
I'm sure creating two devices that look very similar, have very similar sounding names, both run "Windows" and at two different price points is not helping either. As I've said before trying to push something called Windows 8 on 4 types of device with 2 (I think) different architectures is not going to end well. I know what Microsoft were trying to do and it has failed pretty badly.
They'd have been better of dropping the Windows brand for the phone/RT tablet and creating something different. Apple have MacOS and iOS, Google have ChromeOS and Android. The Pro is probably the only sensible thing to hand the Windows brand on.
Re: 007 watch!
I really wanted a 007 watch, but my parents wouldn't buy me one. Gutted!
I think Assange would need a damn sight more luck/help than a political position in Oz to get himself out of his own self-inflicted predicament. One way or another he's going to face some time inside another institution the second he steps foot out of that embassy. And this time round I don't think there will be many people lifting a finger to help him.
Maybe if we just treat his current stay like the recent Channel 5 series of Big Brother; ignored by most people (and the media), to which the usual refrain is "Is that still going?". Might give him a bit of a clue if it didn't make the news every time he farted or something.
Having experienced a Level 3 run data centre I can see why customer satisfaction might be on the low side. I guess it may have something to do with things like dodgy aircon and power outages.
When staying just outside Paris last year the hotel threw in "free" WiFi with the room. Generally I don't need t'interweb connectivity when out and about on holiday, but I do find it very useful when back at the hotel to help plan where to go, online check-in etc.
Whilst the idea of a handset you can plug into TV/monitor to be a fairly full-on Linux box is interesting, I'm not entirely sure that Ubuntu would be the best distro. Mainly as their recent actions seem to be very much "our way or the highway".
Ah the Electron. Like most people I knew of someone who had one. Whilst there was the fact that it could run the same stuff as the BBCs, there didn't seem to be too many games. And the odd bit of code aside, I'm sure most kids wanted computers to play games.
As a quick aside I was still messing about on a BBC Master in 1992 when I was doing A-Level Computing. Though we used COMAL rather then BBC Basic.
My MacPro is coming up to 5 years old now and I use Parallels to run various flavours of Win and *UX. It all seems to run pretty well.
As stated above, unless you sepecifically tell it not to, Time Machine will quite happily back up those 20GB+ VMs, which may slow/clog things up a bit. I don't bother backing up any of the *UX stuff as most of it is for play/test, but I do back up the Win VMs as I value my time/bandwidth too much to waste ice ages installing and patching from scratch.
Come to think of it, the only time I *really* need to use Win at home is when I need to use a MySQL import util I quite like (and have not looked too hard for a native replacement) or to trawl through old .pst files in Outlook.
Re: Sorry _pre_ Internet Giant
A pedant writes... The Internet was around well before something called AOL (or even America Online). I assume you mean World Wide Web (WWW) which appeared soon after?
In Pirates that was Noah Wyle. I'm pretty sure at some Apple conf he and Jobs played a bit of a joke on the audience and Wyle went out and pretended to be Jobs for a few mins.
A pedant writes... Lotus F1 Team is (more-or-less) nothing to do with Group Lotus either. The rather dogdy link there is that a few years back there was a licencing deal between Genii (company that own the F1 team previously known as Renault) and Group Lotus.
This was slap bang in the middle of the entire Lotus Racing/Team Lotus (now Caterham) vs Group Lotus mess which was caused by Dany Bahar (then head of Group Lotus) and his insane approach of using a lot of marketing to make Lotus "the British Ferrari". This involved hyping up road cars that would never be built and paying various (non-F1) race teams to put their cars in a black and gold livery and slap the word Lotus on them. Everyone said it would fail and they'd run out of money... and lo it came to pass.
Bahar was them swiftly out of a job and a lot of the licencing deals then were modified so that Group Lotus would no longer pay any money, but the teams could still go on using the Lotus name for the duration of the original contract. Such madness resulted in this year's Le Mans 24hr race having the (LMP1) Rebelliion Racing Lola B12/60 sponsored by Lotus and also the (LMP2) Lotus T128, of which neither were actually built by (Group) Lotus.
As an aside I'm a big Lotus fan, particularly the JPS-era F1 cars in the 70s and 80s. The whole Team Lotus vs Group Lotus thing left a very bad taste in my mouth, particularly the way that Group Lotus and the Chapman family seemingly changed sides in the argument. It should also be noted that the 1Malaysia Racing Team (aka Lotus Racing/Team Lotus) didn't cover themselves in glory either, and I find their acquiescing into Caterham a bit strange after all their previous bluster. I'm sure Bernie and some money was involved. As a result whilst I first welcomed the name of Lotus back into F1, I now pretty much look down on what is now Lotus and Caterham.
Maths and languages
I did my CS degree at Aston Uni (92-96), which was one of the few that didn't require maths A-level. That was handy as I was rubbish at maths. Unfortunately for me, each year of the course had a "modeling and simulation" module, which was... maths. The lecturer for these courses was a relic from w-a-y back when it was a maths dept with some computers. So he'd spend ages on OHP slides on how to open a file on a Mac running MATLAB and then zip through maths stuff on the board missing out a few steps along the way. Fortunately for me the exam question format seemed to repeat every other year...
On more-or-less the first day we were told that the point of the programing module was not to specifically to learn a language, but to learn how to program. And the tool for this was Modula-2 (aka Son of Pascal). Ironically the lecturer said (and I quote) "..we could teach you something that's commercially viable like Ada, but we're not into that...". The next year the language of choice was Ada!
Though somewhere in the first few weeks I realised I wasn't as good a programmer as I thought I was. But I could do just about to enough to get by. By a stroke of luck my placement year job turned out to be being a sys admin, and so that's what I ended up doing.
I seem to recall the PS3 launching at around £425. As I result I give it a miss for a while. I did pick up a "fat" 60GB when their price was dropped and the 40GB was announced.
Re: FAIL felt as far as Oregon
The First Direct call centre is in Leeds, so you wouldn't end up speaking to someone abroad. Though there's still no chance of a face-to-face. On the up side I haven't had any big problems in 10 years.
For the BB (5)<-> MacOS sync it had a nasty habit of changing the date of calendar items during the sync. They couldn't be bothered to ever fix that, so hopefully the Google Calendar fix will be better!
I've had my Mac Pro for about four and a half years now. It cost a small fortune, but at least I saved a bit my putting my own memory and disk in. I deliberately got a Pro as I wanted a Mac with more than one disk, and I was messing about with video a bit at the time. I've had no real problems with it, though the OS is a bit laggy every now and again, but that's probably my fault for being lazy and upgrading rather then a fresh install. And on that subject I have a sneaky feeling that for the next release of Mac OS Apple may shift their support window and leave my Pro out in the cold.
I see my Pro going for a good few years yet (not bad considering I used to replace my Win PCs every 2-3 years) and I'd love to replace it with another Pro (hopefully with USB3, Thunderbolt etc all thrown in), so fingers crossed Apple don't do away with it and try and convince people that a Mac Mini with serveral daisychained external drives is a good thing...
Re: It's all "Top Down"
And on a similar subject: Kin, Zune, Sidekick (the data loss was on MS' watch), Courier...
Many companies have disasterous products, but Balmer-era MS seems to be having more of its fair share.
Re: To thumbs downguy
Funnily enough the website that gives you the $15/£15 promo code (http://www.windowsupgradeoffer.com/) doesn't actually check that you've recently purchased a Win7 box, so you can just make stuff up. And the code will work for XP as well (as long as you've got a kosher version, though XP 32bit will only upgrade to 8 32bit).
And as a quick aside when upgrading from XP to 8 it will not offer you the option to make an ISO. However once upgraded if you run the upgrade program again then it will give you an option to make an ISO.
I like to keep up with what's going on with desktop, so I've got VMs for XP, 7, 8 and a few Linux distros, all of which run on the Mac. So all bases covered for random support questions.
No phone line needed
Even though the T&Cs require you to have Sky boxes plugged into the phone line, you can get away with it not being plugged in. Though that does mean some of the interactive red button stuff may not work. I haven't had my box plugged in for about 3 years now and no complaints so far. Even when I swapped boxes I just called them up to pair the card when it couldn't do it itself.
As far as I can tell there may soon be the abaility for one Sky box to be able to stream to another. From http://www.skyuser.co.uk/forum/sky-hd-supertelly/48844-new-sky-hd-skyhd-epg-v49-20-being-rolled-out-now.html
"Sky is currently developing an ability to allow access to the contents on the Sky+ HD STB. This should then allow the SkyHD STB and the Sky Go app to stream content from your Sky+ HD STB when on the same LAN. There should also be an ability to allow you to view the content when away from home too with the Sky Go app."
I was waiting for a 128GB iPod Touch (to upgrade from my pre-'Classic' iPod) and would have purchased one ASAP. But for whatever reason Apple have stuck to 64GB. Basically I was after the storage, the apps (as I've bought a few for the iPad) and some wifi.
That didn't happen, and my work Blackberry is pretty stupid as far as smartphones go (not 3G, wifi never works, useless browser, lack of/expensive apps). So I took the (comprimised) plunge and got myself a 2nd hand iPhone 4S 64GB via eBay, as many people are upgrading to a 5 then there's a few of them about! It's nice to have a phone that is comparable with the missus, who has had a HTC Desire HD for a while.
I seem to recall one of the ASM libs/packages/whatever only being available via an OEL subscription (for 6.x). That's one way of getting people to use OEL. Strangely, even though you can download the ASM packages for 5.x from their website when I attempted to use some of their yum repos for the same packages, one of them was strangely absent...
Most of our RHEL boxes run Oracle (the rest is CentOS), so when they get replaced/rebuilt for 6.x it'll probably have to be OEL rather then RHEL to get a fully supported DB. No point paying for two subscriptions. In fact I think some of my colleagues over the pond will be going OEL 6.x for that reason. I don't particularly like it, but it's increasingly what you have to do if you want to tun Oracle DB.
Given their nasty (DB) pricing, mangled Sun support and this sort of thing, they are probably my most disliked IT company.
I'll wait for another year, again.
Once again I was hoping for a 128GB iPod Touch to replace my 'Classic' (though technically it's a 5th gen iPod 160GB from before they named them Classic). 64GB isn't quite enough to hold all my music and apps, which I would like to have with me at all times in case I have a burning need to listen to obscure remixes of Pacific State, 3am Eternal or A Huge And Ever Growing...
I'm surprised that the Classic is still on sale, as it doesn't quite fit in with all things fondle. I'd like like to think that if they drop it , then they'd beef up the Touch to compensate.
Though I'm sure there are some deep in Apple who live in some utopian futurist fantasy world where there's always wfif/4G/etc and everyone loves to use iCloud, iTunes match and the like and so therefore no-one will ever need more than 64GB storage.
I never really got to grips with CDE on Solaris kit, but I did spend a rather large amount of time messing about with HP VUE on 712 workstations running HP-UX 9.x and 10.x.
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