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October 2003

- XML was created to offer improvements over HTML, but its use is not limited to the web at all.
SCO's death predicted 
- That SCO will become insignificant is a given. Their outright death will take quite a bit longer.
Microsoft Admits Linux is Cheaper? 
- Microsoft hates to admit it, but running Windows will always cost more than running Linux.
Microsoft BIOS danger to Linux? 
- Microsoft would love it if people would make hardware than can only run their operating systems. They keep trying to get there..
Monoculture may be bad, but it's unavoidable 
- Blog # 557 Monoculture may be bad, but it'sunavoidable
- A virtual internet is an interesting concept. PlanetLab is exactly that and there are interesting things planned.
Class Action Suit against Microsoft 
- Why is crappy software not liable to lawsutits just like crappy hardware is? Why shouldn't Microsoft get sued for sloppy practice?
New iBooks rumored 
- Does Apple design for obsolescence? I think so and even though I love their products, that costs way too much.
geek politics 
- I really doubt that anything will come of this 'Free State Project'. At best, it will be bickering.
Open Office 1.1 
- Free office suite. Not perfect, but more than adequate for most uses and most people.
Show Desktop (Mac) 
- Show Desktop hides all applications and minimizes Finder windows for an unobstructed view of your desktop. Unlike Command-Option-Click, Show Desktop also minimizes Finder windows to get them out of your way too.
Microsoft's new SMB server 
- Why would you pay good money for Microsoft's new SMB server when free or lower cost alternatives exist?
Recycling computers 
- Recycling computer parts as art? Computer circuits can be rather pretty, I guess.
Unix is NOT just as expensive 
- Microsoft propaganda about the 'expense' of Unix/Linux ignores reality. These systems are far, far less expensive to run.
SCO Road Show 
- SCO goes out to talk to the very few resellers it has left and hires some muscle to protect themselves.
Lying or Incompetent? (SCO Lawsuit) 
- Is SCO lying or incompetent? Clueless or mendacious? Perhaps they are a little of both?
Robber Barons 
- There's a reason why we have the phrase 'honest work' and why we don't like those who don't 'play fair'
Poor Microsoft 
- Microsoft has its burdens to bear, poor thing. Sometimes you almost feel sorry for them. Well, I did say almost.
Virus Insurance? 
- Will your insuraance company be interested in auditing your computing systems for security?
Analogies (SCO Lawsuit) 
- Analogies won't help in understanding this SCO lawsuit. It's too complicated and twisted.
- English speaking people tend to ignore all that Unicode stuff more than we should. I really need to shape up and at least do the minimums as that Unicode article suggests, but laziness and arrogance have kept me away..
NPR's Fresh Air: The Google Founders   by Bruce Garlock
- I admit it: I am an NPR addict. I have always held public TV, and public radio in the highest regard, which is something my grandfather instilled in me at a young age. I also did not have cable growing up, so PBS was about the only choice I had on the TV.
Tape gets bigger, but I still like DVD-RAM 
- Blog # 592 Tape gets bigger, but I still likeDVD-RAM
iTunes for Windows 
- Should Apple have delayed iTunes for Windows longer? If it were me, I never would have given it to them!
SCO/Microsoft Conspiracies 
- While not wanting to stand up and say "impossible" - 'cause greed knows no boundaries - I would like to suggest that even if Microsoft is pumping cash into SCO and doesn't want to admit it, that doesn't mean that SCO has conspired with them to this end. Microsoft is smart enough to see the damage that this lawsuit can do to Linux and Open Source, so why not help out behind the scenes? If this could help kill of what they are really worried about, great, and if it leaves SCO a little stronger after, well, so what? SCO is no threat, and, like Apple, is good to have around to point at when you want to show that you aren't a complete monopoly.
Is Email reliable any more? 
- First: email never was and never will be 100% reliable. However, until very recently, you had every expectation that email would arrive at its intended destination, probably with even more reliability than a letter sent by postal mail.
Linux|Unix and the golden Egg  
- Yes, we do love the Unix philosophy. It isn't the command line per se that is important though, it's the design that makes it work: small tools that work together.
More threats to Microsoft 
- I expect things to get very dirty. Microsoft isn't going to just stand idly by and watch state after state embrace Linux. If discounts and innuendo won't turn the tide, they'll push harder on the legal front, patents and copyrights, and quite likely attempts to invalidate the GPL and any form of Open Source.1
Eric S. Raymond The Art of Unix Programming 
- It all sounds good on paper,but come Monday morning all the sinners are back to business as usual writing crappy code.
Microsoft Interoperability 
- You don't blame a rattlesnake for biting you; there's no point in blaming Microsoft either.
Linux|Unix not accountable 
- ure, Microsoft COULD make themselves accountable for security. If they did, they'd be sued out of business, so that's not going to happen.
Linux|Unix Kernel Configuration 
- Storing Linux Kernel Configuration in /proc and using it for a rebuild - finally!
SCO Apologist 
- One immediate assumption was that any SCO reseller is a SCO apologist: we'd defend SCO's actions and would be a big fan of SCO Unix. That's dead wrong
Unixware 7.1.3 
- As if thewre were not enough reasons to use Linux over Unixware, here's one more.
Intentional Programming 
- The problem with this is the same problem there is with any programming language: garbage in equals garbage out.
More on SCO/IBM Suit 
- Where was Daryl McBride on the night the SCO code was stolen? Where is Perry Mason when you need him?
SCO attacks GPL 
- Foolish SCO doesn't understand that Linux and open source are really their only hope of survival.
Tablet PC's 
- Microsoft would like to sell you a clunky tablet PC. Good luck with that, Microsoft!
Moderation Systems 
- Do consensus based moderation systems work? I don't think so - they fall to the lowest common foolishness.
Internet replacing Radio? 
- What's 'radio', Grandpa? That just might be a question your grandchildren will someday ask.
GPG messages for OS X Mail 
- If you have need to send GPG email from a Mac, I suppose this would be useful. I know there are people who need to do this regularly, and other folks who probably should, but it's always amazing to me how difficult it can be. I often have to send or receive passwords, and I sometimes have suggested GPG when I felt that the other end of the transaction was techy enough that they could do that.
Samba and PDC's 
- Pet peeve though, which has nothing particularly to do with Samba: I see far too many networks with domain controllers that never should have been set up that way. Small offices, with a handful of cooperating users, and absolutely no need for the complex security and maintenance of a PDC, and yet they get set up that way, mostly because incompetent (yes, dammit, incompetent) Windows techs don't know any other way.
Microsoft Security 
- I already get regular calls from people who think Outlook or Outlook Express are broken because they can't get attachments (Microsoft changed the default on that a while back). I don't think anyone is likely to notice Messengers absence (anyone using that for a real business reason will surely understand that it has been turned off), but I can guarantee that turning on a default firewall will cause no end of confusion and subsequent support calls.
Linux|Unix anger 
- Some of the folks who have written about the SCO/IBM suit are very, very angry. I can certainly understand that, and I actually share it.
Rebuttal  by Steggy
- The fact that Microsoft has been proven to threaten and coerce PC builders into not shipping "alternatives" like UNIX and Linux demonstrates that end users are being forced to buy Microsoft products.
Remembering IANA  by Steggy
- Remembering IANA - It was October 16, 2003 that Dr. Jon Postel, the "Father of the Internet," passed away.
IP vs. Open Source 
- It's not really true that we are a nation of laws - laws are ignored, reinterpreted and expanded or diminished every day.
In Cyberspace, Nobody Can Hear You Scream  by Joe McKendrick
- The rate of burnout has increased to the point where no one lasts more than two years in an IT position.
Windows, Unix, and Linux- Which Earns the Most  by Joe McKendrick
- Many analysts and pundits have been predicting the demise of Unix, and that commodity-priced Windows and Linux architectures will gradually replace the OS. However, as Unix gets chased into the high end of computing, the value of Unix skills is rising as well. In fact, IT professionals skilled at either developing or managing Unix systems command far higher salaries than their Windows or Linux counterparts. A survey of enterprise IT salaries confirm that Unix knowledge trumps other platforms at all levels - from entry-level programmers to the CIO.
What to write about to be published at aplawrence.com 
- So, you are thinking about publishing an article or two here. Or maybe you already have, and would like to do more. You aren't sure what to write about exactly, but you'd like it to be useful, and hopefully one of the more successful published articles.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery  by Bob Mahood
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Part 1 of 4
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Part 2  by Bob Mahood
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Part Two
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Part 3  by Bob Mahood
- Business continuity and the business impact analysis is more focused on keeping the business up and running and less focused on recovery after a disaster.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery part 4  by Bob Mahood
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Part Four
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery  by Bob Mahood
- Essentially, the Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan addresses the who, what, where, why and when of recovery.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Part 6  by Bob Mahood
- The goal in a business continuity plan is simply that: to continue your business in the face of a disaster or a disruption.
Data Security: Backups are the Key to Protecting your Data and your Business  by Bob Mahood
- Data Security: Backups are the Key to Protecting your Dataand your Business
Cellular Wireless Access Tips 
- The cellular wireless access isn't slow but it's sure not broadband. With the older phone I use, it's about the same as good dialup.
New HTML features 
- Simple Mail Transport Protocol is how the internet transports mail from computer to computer. It's a very simple, text based conversation between two computers that might look something like this:
- Unix to Unix Copy Except it isn't just Unix to Unix, as there are uucp implementations for DOS, Windows and probably just about anything else. People sometimes think uucp is dead and useless now that we have high speed networks and don't have to use modems anymore.
- Under normal conditions, one Unix process has absolutely no access to another's memory. However, sometimes it can be helpful (for reasons of speed, usually) to be able to read or write a shared memory area. Therefore, Unix and Linux systems provide system calls to setup and use such areas.
- Unix 'join' is a database operator for text files. Suppose you have two files that have related text in them: for example, /etc/passwd and /etc/group. We sort them on their group field ( sort -n -t : +2 /etc/passwd > j1; sort -n -t : +2 /etc/group > j2.
- Probably more often applied to Basic code than anything else because of the 'GOTO' statement, but is often used to describe any tangled and confused mess of code. Programmers don't always write bad code out of ineptitude. Sometimes it is a deliberate form of job security.
- That's the '~' character, usually far left next to ! and 1. Some folks call it 'squiggle' but it isn't. It's often shorthand for your home directory: cd ~/bin for example, but remember that's a function of your shell, not your OS. It's used as the escape character in cu and ssh also.
- There are two general meanings for heap in the computer world. The first is unallocated memory available to your program.
- The computer use of this is from the mathematical sense of the correspondence of sets. You 'map a drive' when you assign a drive letter to it (Windows). Perl has a 'map' command that is often used for transferring one array to another with changes.
- When programmers talk about "the stack", they are referring to an area of memory that is used for temporary storage. This is supported at the CPU level: one of the registers that the CPU has is the stack pointer, which says where in ram the stack is located.
- Command Line Interface. Where you type commands rather than pointing and clicking with a mouse. When GUI's (Graphical User Interfaces) were clumsy and slow, CLI users were sometimes religiously opposed to GUI's. As GUI's have become faster and better, most CLI users recognize that there are things better done in the GUI.
- This is a converter. It gives you conversion factors for feet to inches, miles to meters, that sort of thing.
- 'Useless use of cat award' is often sarcastically given to people who post things like: 'cat file | more'
- In networking, a packet is the collection of information that carries your data to its destination. If you are, for example, sending a large email to a friend, it does not travel in a contiguous flow of bytes. Instead, it is broken up into chunks
- The 'usual way', the 'right way', the 'acceptable way'. Usually this is used to refer to the way the designers of the program intended that you present input or use flags, etc. You'll see 'icanon' amid the output of stty. That means you are set to do 'normal' erase and kill processing on your input lines.
- While computer folks will sometimes refer to binary numbers, binary is more apt to be a compiled executable. So the 'binaries' are all the executables that make up a program.
- In TCP/IP networks, the broadcast address is used to talk to all machines on the network. If you aren't on a switched network (if you are still using hubs), all machines actually see every packet;
- Address Resolution Protocol.This is the protocol that matches IP addressses to MAC (hardware) addresses. Every IP network device has a unique 6 byte hardware address, the first three of which are assigned to specific companies.
- Berkely Software Distribution. A Unix fork from 1977, BSD was the origination of much that it is important and expected in any Unix system. Many BSD programs and features have been incorporated into SysV Unix and of course vice versa, but one major difference has always been SysV's use of inittab, which BSD does not use.
- Rapidly fading from having any importance to the average user, these have to do with software flow control. This was once very important for terminal users, and still does have importance for any serial device you may be using (printer, bar code reader, etc.)
- Nothing. Not zero (though zero may be used to represent it), but nothingness. The /dev/null device is a throw-away bit bucket used when you don't want to see the output.
- A Disk block, block of code, or blocking a program or process from proceeding. The size of a disk block can cause confusion: 'du' historically returned 512 byte blocks, as did 'df', but now either or both may report 1024 byte blocks.
- This is always going to refer to some interupt driven driver. When the kernel gets an interrupt, the appropriate driver is called. As nothing else can happen while that event is being processed, it is important to get done and let the kernel get back to other work.
- When you send a mail message that can't be delivered, you get a bounce message back. If that can't be gotten to you, we have a double bounce.
- List Open Files. This is much more than it sounds like. It is similar to 'fuser', but has much more power. I often use it to find processes using specific network ports
Bitmap: Tech Words of the Day 
- When I first heard this term, it would strictly refer to saving storage space or sometimes to search techniques. Nowadays, it is much more likely that the usage is related to graphics creation or display. To my mind though, a bit map is truly a one to one mapping of conditions to individual bits.
Understanding Threads 
- The traditional Unix model was fork and exec, which is "expensive" in terms of cpu time. However (and this is the part that often gets left out), that doesn't mean that fork and exec is "bad" and threads are "good": it depends upon what it is you need to accomplish. Even at that, there are other considerations, as we shall see.
WINDOWS NETWORKING: Doing It the Samba Way  by Steggy
- WINDOWS NETWORKING: Doing It the Samba Way. The majority of businesses have at least a couple of PC's running Windows, which means Microsoft networking seems to be as unavoidable as death and taxes.
Publishing your articles at aplawrence.com 
- I'm currently not accepting articles. There are a few people I might make an exception for and you probably know who you are.
Text vs. Binary Data formats 
- When I'm doing some project that requires storing and retrieving data, I usually have a mental argument about how to structure the files. Should I use flat text, or some binary format (typically Perl dbm files)? The answer almost always should be "flat text", but old habits die hard.
Hobby Operating Systems 
- With the possible exception of OpenBeOS and Syllable/Atheos, there's nothing there that is particularly "different". Where are the real radical ideas, like a pure virtual memory OS that only uses disks as backing store or perhaps a "network os" where everything is packet based? Oh, well: maybe one of these will ring your chimes:
Fork and exec with Perl 
- Understandin Unix fork and exec. Recently I had a project that required a number of different programs that will mostly run all the time, but need to be restarted now and then with different parameters.
Tightvnc, Chicken of the VNC 
- Reviews of TightVNC and Chicken of the VNC. VNC is "Virtual Network Computing" and is a crossplatform method of allowing remote access to desktops.
Perl Input 
- Perl has wonderful I/O capabilities. I'm only going to cover input here: reading from files or standard input. There are two ways to do that (actually a lot more than two, but this is supposed to be introductory material): you can open a specific file, or you can pass files on the command line and either open them individually or just ignore the whole thing and pretend everything is coming from STDIN.