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July 2003

Perl 6 
- I'm still not using Perl 6 and neither are many other folks. Is this the wall that never will be climbed?
 
Alexa Site Rankings 
- Alexa can be interesting, though somewhat depressing for me as I fall from grace.
 
You're So Lucky 
- Never mind that I almost always am actually working every day of the week (weekends too) year round, and that all taking a long weekend or even a whole week means is that I'm away from my office and won't be visiting clients on site. I'm working just the same, but never mind that, because it is nice to be able to pick and choose when I work, and when we're away up here in the mountains I do take a lot of breaks and it is a lot more pleasant than working back home.
 
Step right up to buy your SCO license 
- SCO offers 'licenses' to Linux users. I'm sure those will be popular and SCO will sell 'be-e-elions'. Yeah, right.
 
OSS656B important for SCO 5.0.7 
- An important patch for those running SCO 5.0.7. A better 'patch' would be to switch to Linux, but..
 
Really Remote Backup 
- Do you at least take yesterday's backup off site every day? Too many companies don't, and in the event of fire, may find that they can easily get back in business but have no data. You may also find that your insurance company actually REQUIRES that you take backup off site.
 
SCO Lawsuit 
- On it goes, the most idiotic lawsuit ever. The fumbling boobs at SCO could win, but that would be a dark day indeed.
 
Can't find what I want! 
- This website has multiple ways to find the content you are looking for, but sometimes I even have a hard time..
 
Telecommuting 
- Attitides toward telecommuting often include suspicion and envy, but there are real benefits for the employer also.
 
Is Slashdot worth reading? 
- Slashdot reminds me of a summer barbecue full of heavy drinkers: a lot of noise, a lot of talking, but little intelligence. Maybe fun once in a great while, probably a blast if you are one of the alcoholics in training, but not something I want to do more than once every few years.
 
Outlook Add-ins 
- All of us Unix folk have to put up with this stuff now and then, so if you need things like automatic bcc's, automatic printing, etc. for Microsoft Outlook, here they are
 
SCO Lawsuit - Another shoe drops 
- So, Bill, if the inability to license Linux is an Achilles heel, why is the ability to license Windows something you obviously are trying to keep difficult?
 
Change your password four times a minute! 
- It never fails to amaze me when people think their dog's name is a great password. It isn't.
 
Pop-up Ads 
- Is there anything more annoying than popups? The person who invented them says his intent was quite the opposite.
 
Now We've Gotcha (more SCO Lawsuit) 
- People who aren't lawyers shouldn't bother trying to trap those who are. Games like this may be amusing, but they have no value.
 
Googlitis 
- Sometimes the local search tools are better than Google, but people don't seem to know that.
 
Useless Error Messages 
- We accept this as ordinary: error messages are nearly useless. We don't even expect that the error given by some misbehaving system is even accurate. I'd guess our confidence level in that hovers around 80% or so: it's pretty likely that whatever we got will eventually lead us to a solution, but there's no guarantee, is there?
 
What if they like it? 
- What if Microsoft employees had to evaluate Linux? What if they liked it? Ooops!
 
Gateway Down, no local network 
- Every time a Windows machine tried to access the Unix box, Unix would do a reverse DNS lookup, using the 192.74 address. If the Internet happened to be down, it would hang a long time trying to get an answer.
 
Gateway Down, no local network 
- It's the weirdest thing.". The NT guy ran his fingers through his hair. There were actually three of them, but this one did most of the talking. "If the Internet goes down, they lose connections on the local network. I know a little Unix, so I checked the routing tables, and they all look fine. Even more strange, when this happens, I can still ping the Unix box."
 
TTY locked, can't login 
- SCO OSR5 will lock out a tty after too many unsuccessful logins. That's meant as a security feature.
 
TTY locked, can't login 
- So I did. Al answered, very relieved that I had called back quickly. "Nobody can login?", I asked. "What's the message?"."Something about the terminal being locked. Funny thing though: Jim was just able to login, but nobody else can".
 
A Phone Call 
- Many a year ago, I worked for a small reseller. It was a blustery winter afternoon. Heavy snow was falling, the owner and all the big shots of course had skipped out early ("Bad storm coming - see you tomorrow") leaving us worker bees to hold down the fort.
 
Every Single One 
- Way back in the days before IBM and Microsoft took over computing, Tandy Radio Shack Model 16 computers running Xenix were quite popular with small business users. Laughably underpowered by todays standards, and costing a pretty fair penny too, they were still very cheap and quite powerful enough to handle a small office.
 
RMA's 
- I was working with Dick, who was one of the owners, helping him install a few new computers. In the course of putting in a network card, Dick dropped a screw, and it fell into the open case of the hard drive.
 
Money For Nothing 
- Many years ago, they had a Tandy 6000 Xenix system, lots of dumb terminals, and I did Filepro programming and support work for them. Their word processing (a large part of what they used computers for) was Word Perfect. I don't remember now what the problem was, but a new version caused some issue, and after whacking at it for half an hour with no success, I told Harry that I'd have to call Word Perfect support. So?, asked Harry, not understanding why I hadn't just done that. Well, I explained, Word Perfect had recently changed their policies, and support was no longer free. Harry would now have to pay for support.
 
Installing a helpdesk support system  by Bruce Garlock
- Installing a help desk support system. I manage about 85 PC's, 8 servers, and 20 or so printers - between 4 buildings. Our userbase is not very computer literate, so I field a lot of phone calls for general PC help, and problems.
 
A simple remote site monitor (part one)  by Dirk Hart
- decided that the thing to do was to monitor their IP adress for a while and see how many droputs they had. I searched the net and found many monitors, some of them very nice, but what I wanted was something very simple that would record the events in a log file. There didn't seem to be much but I did come across pingchecker. Pingchecker seemed simple enough for me, so I pasted it into a file and modified it to check my clients site.
 
A simple remote site monitor (part two)  by Dirk Hart
- The first thing I noticed is that sometimes all the sites I was checking were reported at once. I would get a string of messages and then things would be calm again. Clearly my own connection was having occasional drop outs rather than mailstarusa.com or my client sites. I reasoned that I would report outages only if machines I knew to be highly reliable were available. That is, if I could not ping certain DNS servers then I could safely keep quiet about the rest.
 
Telephone Switch Considered Harmful  by Dirk Hart
- I arrived on site with a pair of routers to set up a bridge, but I wasn't getting anything from the CSU/DSU. The telephone provider started asking me all sorts of questions about the circuit such as framing, line code and clock source. After quite some discussion back and forth I impressed upon these folks that these question are properly asked of the circuit provider.
 
Keyboard trackball erratic  by Perry M. Noble
- Anyway, I moved a server into a rack cabinet that had a compaq KVM switch with one of those nifty keyboard/mouseball units to control all the hardware... Well, the mouse was all over the place and I tried every variation I could think of based on the information in the document on your web site... I knew I was in the right area but just couldn't work it out... The solution was this...
 
Linux|Unix Security Cookbook 
- Enjoyable and useful. I didn't really expect to learn a whole lot from this, but surprisingly (and happily), I did. It's jam packed with practical advice, and avoids the too often seen slant of many security books that don't understand the concept of "good enough".
 
Sad Macs, Bombs, and other Disasters (4th Edition) 
- The back cover blurb for this says "Used by Apple's technical support staff". I could believe that, but I'll bet hard cash they aren't using it to support OS X.
 
Using rsync to update laptop  by Dirk Hart
- rsync lets you update a remote machine (eg, laptop) with another machine (eg RedHat server). We now had all the bits of the puzzle in place. Each laptop would connect to the Local Area Network (LAN) and we would use rsync to update the data directory on the laptop.
 
Forinet FortiGate-50 - What Network Security should be  by Michael Desrosiers
- Fortinet FortiGate-50 - What Network Security shouldbe
 
SME Server Local Networks and VPN's 
- A mail server rejects attempts to send mail outside of its own domain if you are connecting from somewhere other than the local lan. This is correct behaviour.
 
Why do programmers count from zero? 
- I thought that was a pretty funny way to explain it. Using the word "legacy" makes it sound like it had to be done this way because something older would break if it were not, or perhaps that you used to have to do it this way but now that computers are more powerful it's a silly artifact. Not really true: it never HAD to be done that way, but programmers think that way for good reason.
 
Understanding Virtual Domains 
- Virtual domains can seem confusing at first, but actual it's pretty simple. Here's the basic idea: you have ONE web server, at ONE IP address, but you host multiple websites, each with different content.
 
Solving Google Page Rank problems with a 301 Redirect 
- Both domains point to the exact same content. The Apache configuration file at my web server just treated them both as virtual domains having the same filesystem location. There was no difference: no matter what domain name you used, you'd get the same pages. These are just duplicate domains.
 
Xinetd 
- Xinetd is a replacement for inetd, which was the original Unix super-daemon used to start network services on demand. The reason for inetd goes back to days of low memory and poor memory management: you didn't want to keep a service running in memory if it was infrequently used.
 
Basics: rsync 
- You can learn quite a bit about rsync and how it works right on your own machine. That's actually a good way to learn: it's quick, and you can easily see the results.
 
Virtual PC for Mac OS X 
- This is a review of an ancient Virtual PC product and is only left here for historical purposes.