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November 2003

Google IPO 
- Google plans and IPO while Microsoft snarls and paces nervously in its den. Me? I'm a buyer.
More tools for on-line advertisers 
- Outside of the web, it's very difficult to get any kind of advertising statistics. You can track direct mail responses, of course, but certainly not with the ease and the depth that you cvan track web responses.
Slashdot getting worse? 
- thousands of monkeys banging away on keyboards will not produce Shakespeare's works
WinFS for Longhorn 
- Will NTFS be database driven in Longhorn/Vista? How does XML fit into this and will Microsoft dare it?
Longhorn competition? 
- Longhorn isn't a real product. It MIGHT be released two or three years from now
Abundance of Choice, says Microsoft 
- Microsoft insists that there are plenty of options in the computer marketplace.
Mac Panther Term Type too helpful 
- I had noticed that Panther had changed my default term type to xterm-color, which was immeditely annoying when I'd ssh anywhere else, so I had quickly changed it back to vt100.
Not fun any more? 
- Sometimes the world can be a discouraging place. Too much greed, too much dishonesy, too much cruelty. The joy is gone from computers.
RedhHat Linux 9 
- I thought I'd take a look at what will be the last non-commercial version of RedHat (sort of - more below).
Commies at the gate 
- The commies are at the gate. I've said it before: if this were the fifties, people would be getting hauled before Congress to name names. Given today's political climate (what's good for big business is good for America), I'm only surprised that there hasn't been more speaking out against Linux and Open Source. Probably the saving grace is that government likes this stuff for their own reasons and therefore is hesitant to join the attack.
Antivirus scheme threat to Linux? 
- Blocking devices based upon whether their security is up to snuff? How can you be sure of that?
Something all Open Source folks need to read  
- Programmers and engineers often don't understand how the rest of the world works. As I have said many times, "Engineers CAN lie, but it makes them uncomfortable". Engineers, programmers, tech people in general prefer to tell the truth, staright up and simple, no embellishment, no slant, no hidden agendas. The rest of the world is more or less the direct opposite: their first thought on anything is probably "Should I be truthful here?".
SCO Winners and losers 
- Who are the winners and losers in the SCO lawsuit (whoever wins and however long it takes)?
Professional Librarians are NOT needed 
- Really - do you need to be taught that moving pages is going to confuse people or that removing pages entirely will frustrate them even more? Does that require a degree?
Linux|Unix desktop? 
- I'll believe the year of the Linux desktop only when I see it. I WANT it - I just don't think it will ever happen.
Unhappy with Spam Bill? 
- It's hardto pass an anti-spam bill because mass marketers will fight it tooth and nail. Still, we should try.
Security Reminders 
- Weak passwords and social engineering are the cause for many security breakins.
It's the iPod, right? 
- Apple popularity surged with the iPod. Macs are catching on, but most of it likely is just the tunes.
Connection Refused 
- What apparently killed this turned out to be a Linux machine trying to add a network printer located on this box.
Connection Refused 
- Bill called late in the afternoon. "I'm trying to get this new server up and running, but the old SCO 5.05 is acting up. It's really weird: people who are already logged in are fine, but I can't get any new connections".
Newbie guide for the net install of SuSe 8.2  by Crouse
- How to install SuSe 8.2 over the Internet - a guide for newbies and anyone else who is confused by this.
Security Analysis and Audit  by Michael Desrosiers
- Security Analysis and Audit, a systematic, measurable technical assessment of how a security policy is employed at a specific site.
- Join the search for extra-terrestial intelligence with Set At Home. Put your unused cpu cycles to good use!
Information wants to be free 
- Stewart Brand was wrong: information wants to be free not because "it is now so easy to copy and distribute casually". It has always wanted to be free or, more accurately, we have always wanted information to be free. Still more accurately, what we really wanted was that other people's information be freely available to us. Whether or not we wanted to share our own intellectual property depended upon what was in it for us. That's no different than our attitudes toward any other resource, from food to sex.
How Do You 'Can' a Jedi Master?  by Joe McKendrick
- A couple of years back, I had the opportunity to talk with Allan Frank, chief technology officer for AnswerThink Consulting Group Atlanta and formerly national partner-in-charge of enabling technologies for KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, about approaches to building knowledge management systems. "How do you can a Jedi master?" he asked. "How do you store the collective learnings of the organization? Why did we win that sale? What have we built somewhere else before? What did that design look like? We can take a relational database, slice it, dice it, and cut it, rotate those cubes, and do data mining. But in the end, the difference is what really animates an organization is a human being." Companies have attempted to can institutional knowledge, spending millions of dollars on CRM systems. Management guru Tom Peters hit the nail on the head a while back when he declared that most businesses don't know squat about customer relationships. The ones that do have a sliver of common sense stand out like shining beacons. That still holds true today. The difference is that we are now trying to automate our way to customer-driven excellence. However, when you automate poor service, you get automated poor service.
Fedora Core 1 
- I hadn't looked closely at RedHat since 7.2, so this was quite pleasant and much improved. I could easily recommend this to anyone without a strong need for Windows applications.
Recovering System after upgrade 
- What happens when an upgrade appears to be fine, but a few days later you find that there is actually a serious flaw?
clfree panic and no logins at console 
- All serial printers suddenly stopped workingand a 'PANIC: clfree - Free block ' message appeared on the console screen. They power cycled; system 'went dead' after the fsck - no logins.
Advice for new bloggers 
- If you are serious about this, don't go with a free blogging site. Get a real domain and a real website.
Web Page Creation from the new users point of view  by Dorry Pease
- Web Page Creation from the new users point of view
Specialty Football Website (place kicking techniques) 
- I know very little about football, and even less about place kicking. But I met someone who apparently does know quite a bit about it, and I think he should have a website. As it turns out, he is in a very good position to have a very successful web site dealing with training hopeful young place kickers, and the reason he doesn't have it is just that he was ill-advised in a number of areas.
- That's a boot after powering the machine off as opposed to just rebooting. It's not a 'power cycle' (just shutting the poor thing off because it is unresponsive and then immediately back on).
- od is very useful when you aren't sure just what it is you are looking at:
- In Bourne-like shells (sh, bash, ksh), exec serves two functions: It can replace your current program with another, or can help you control input and output more easily. The first use is often used at the last line of a .profile.
- Bourne-like shells have an ability commonly referred to as 'here files' or 'here documents'. Many programmers and scripters will use EOF as the marker, though what you use is entirely up to you.
- Tape Archiver. A portable method to bundle up files and directories - even for transport to Windows, because Unzip understands tar formats (though it will loose permission and ownership information). At one time, tar was an inferior choice for backup..
- Set and initialize terminal type. Not entirely useless nowadays, though when dumb terminals were more common, so was this.
- Searches for appropriate man pages. Same as 'man -k'. So, 'apropos disk' will list man pages having 'disk' in their description. The 'makewhatis' script has to be run before apropos will work. I bet very few people have every looked at the man page for it.
- The original Bourne shell (sh) had no command like which. The csh introduced "which". Ksh uses "whence", and bash etc. will use "which".
- There are two aspects to sleep: a voluntary sleep, where a process needs to delay for whatever purpose and deliberately calls 'sleep' with some time argument, and involuntary, where the kernel scheduling code puts the process to sleep either because some some resource it wants is slow, or unavailable, or because it's just time for some other process to use the CPU.
- Live data is 'real' data, sometimes meaning data you can't screw up. 'We'll test against live data' vs. 'I don't dare test that against live data!'. A dead machine is a non-functional machine: it is crashed, and may be unable to come back up.
- Back when AT&T owned Unix, they were quite protective of the word 'Unix', and although they were willing to license code to Microsoft, SCO and others, they didn't want the products to use that name.
- Find files. This is NOT to search for strings inside files, though find can call other programs like grep for each file it finds. Although its most common use is simply to find files matching some name or wildcard, it is much more powerful than that.
- Create a new directory. Probably most folks have used "mkdir -p" which creates aLL the directories needed for a path: 'mkdir -p adir/newdir/thisdir' There's a seldom used "-m" flag that lets you set permissions on the targets.
- It doesn't have the flexibility or power of "find", but becaause it uses a precreated index, it is much faster.
- File comparison, and patch file creator. Let's say we have two files, t1 and t2 (t1) abcdefg abcdefg abcdefg abcdefg (t2) abcdefg defghij abcdefg abcdefg abcdefg
- Obviously this (the underlying system call, actually) gets used a lot in /dev, but there are other uses.
- Having used Unix since before 'cut' was apt to be on the machine, I'm used to using 'sed' to extract what I want from a line, but 'cut' is much easier.
- Similar in intent, but fmt is the more powerful of the two. The purpose is to reformat lines to fit a fixed width output device, and to do it intelligently so that lines are broken at appropriate places rather than mid word.
- Convert a file to an ascii representation that can be safely transmitted through mail gateways, posted on newsgroups, etc. Nowadays, attaching a file to an email or a newsgroup post is often 'behind the scenes' - you don't get involved in the details.
- Paste joins two or more files by line number, or turns multiple lines from a file into one line.
- Wait for background processes to finish. Useful where you can spin off something to background and continue interacting with the user, but if they then request something that depends on that being finished, you simply 'wait'
- This is a seldom used command, probably because most of what you'd need it for is handled by 'sort -u'. However, there are a few tricks 'uniq' has that are worthwhile in the odd case where you need them.
- List processes using a file. This is useful for knowing what processes to kill, and to tell when something else is done writing.
- 'tail syslog' shows the last ten lines of syslog. 'tail -20 syslog' shows the last 20 lines.'tail +2 syslog' displays from line 2 to the end. 'tail -f syslog' shows the last ten lines, but then continues to monitor any new lines added and will show those as they occur.
- The dd command without any options simply reads stdin and writes stdout; it's a copier like cat. But it can do so much more!
Transferring to new hardware with a Supertar 
- With any of the Supertars, transferring to new hardware is easy. If the new hardware uses the same disk controller (or the same driver) as the old, you can just boot from your recovery media and proceed to recover the system. But what about when the new hardware is different?
Downloading Fedora with BitTorrent 
- I had wanted to take a look at RedHat 9, but was stopped by some problem with CD 2. I then thought I'd look into Fedora, but quickly ran into download problems there also: I tried a number of servers, but kept running into timeouts and just couldn't get the CD's down. I don't seem to be having any problems with other downloads, so I suspect there are just too many people wanting to look at Fedora. As download is your only choice with Fedora (no boxed sets to buy), I was annoyingly stuck. I could have bought a set from Discount Linux CD's or one of the many other similar sites, but I'm impatient, and didn't want to wait for delivery.
Understanding Kill 
- One of the first things people using a Unix machine learn is how to kill processes. Unfortunately, they usually learn the wrong thing, and use "kill -9" indiscriminately.
Using Linux to create Photo Galleries  by Crouse
- I was looking for a way to convert over a thousand photos from my digital camera into several photo galleries suitable for the internet. I looked at several ways, and finally decided on what I thought to be the quickest. This entails the use of a several linux programs in order to achieve the desired result. Although it might sound complicated, it isn't. In fact after you do this a couple of times you will be amazed at the speed and usefulness of the programs.
Capitalism vs. communism 
- I tell you all this because Linux is a pot luck supper, and folks like Microsoft and SCO are restaurant owners.
CleanCode Email 
- Using Cleancode email client - a neat little command line utility for scripting outgoing mail without Sendmail.
Monitoring file or directory changes 
- Many modern systems provide a way to watch a directory for events (new files, reading the directory, modification of a file in the directory, etc.). This facility can be done in various ways, from providing hooks in the filesystem code itself to something that watches for inode changes.