rfunk: (phone)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 07:48pm on 05/06/2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
This week we gained possession of a pair of 8GB iPod Touches, through a surprisingly generous rebate program.

The iPod Touch is unlike any previous iPods, but is very similar to the iPhone. It's basically an iPhone without the phone, camera, or bluetooth. That doesn't sound like it leaves much, but what it leaves is high-resolution video iPod functionality, plus wi-fi networking, built on top of a miniature Mac OS X complete with web browser, email client, and other programs.

Apple's firmware doesn't allow adding apps that aren't already there, other than using web apps designed for the iPhone/iTouch platform. (A new firmware version coming soon will open this up a bit, but not by much.) However, people have figured out ways of fixing ("jailbreaking") the firmware to allow installing third-party apps, and there's even a de-facto standard packaging/installing system to make it easy to get and install programs.

A Linux guy gets started with iPod Touch )
Jailbreak for the good stuff )
Some added applications )
Music! )
Video )

So yeah, quite the fun toy here.....
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
Salon is running a story wherein author David Brin complains that the computer world's deprecation and collective purging of the BASIC programming language (which of course he grew up with) is somehow hurtful to the technological development of today's kids, including his own. He seems to think that BASIC is a low-level programming language that helps kids understand how the machine works. Of course, the only way BASIC is low-level is that it encourages use of goto, like machine language and unlike modern high-level languages. Otherwise it is designed to insulate the programmer from the machine.

It seems to me that Brin is stuck thinking that the way he learned things is the only way to learn them, and he doesn't seem interested in modern options. I grew up on BASIC too, but I got away from it as soon as practical, and I wouldn't recommend that as a way for anyone to learn programming today.

If Brin wants his kid to learn something close to the machine (his major professed goal), he should choose C. If he wants his kid to learn a language that lets him ignore the machine and do higher-level algorithm work (part of the original goal of BASIC), he should choose Python or Ruby. Responses at Salon also mentioned programming TI-82 calculators, Lego Mindstorms, and other options that modern kids have and were unavailable to past generations.

On top of all that, today's technically-interested kids can put Linux or BSD on their computers and not only choose from a wide selection of programming languages to use (rather than the BASIC interpreter built into the computer and whatever else their parents could afford, as the previous generation did), but also delve as deep as they want into how all the pieces of the software and operating system work.

In one sense, however, Brin has a point. He mentions that his son's math textbook includes BASIC programs to demonstrate the algorithms. Since the computer world has rejected BASIC (a message the textbook writers seem to have missed), there is no single universally-accepted replacement. But that's mostly because of Microsoft - unlike every other common operating system today, Windows doesn't come with any development tools since they deprecated QBasic starting with Windows 95. On the other hand, MacOS, Linux, and BSD usually have Perl, Python, and others either built in or readily available for download.

Perl may be the closest we have today to a universally-available programming language -- it's an easy download and install on Windows, is generally built-in everywhere else, and is quite mature and popular. Many complain about its syntax, though most of that weirdness is obsolete and easily avoided. Python would be second (and a better first language), but it too has its quirks (well, one major quirk plus an object-orientation annoyance). Maybe Ruby is the way to go these days.
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
Lately I've been noticing a lot of cases where the successor to a given instance of web technology (specifically within the so-called "LAMP" stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python) isn't necessarily the next version of that instance, but rather something different. "Say what?" Let me explain with the specifics:

Web Server: Apache 1.3 -> LightTPD )
Programming Language: PHP4/Perl5 -> Ruby (On Rails) )
Database Server: MySQL4 -> PostgreSQL ? )
Operating System: Linux 2.4 -> FreeBSD ? Not much. )
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 11:01am on 07/12/2005 under , , , ,
A year and a half after I started a revolution, I can finally say that the revolution is complete.

Of course, I'm mostly just an instigator. Someone in Germany did most of the work.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
Music:: Sugar - "After All The Roads Have Led To Nowhere"
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 09:09am on 07/06/2005 under , , , , ,
So yesterday Debian finally released version 3.1, "Sarge", as a stable release. It's been almost three years since their last stable release. So when someone at Slashdot dared to ask when the next release would be, the response came:
These are some of the things that happened between Debian releases: a) The Olympic games returned to Greece. b) The Pope died. c) A German Pope got elected in a conclave. d) Apple switched to Intel. e) Watergate's Deep Throat identity was revealed. f) The French rejected the European Constitution g) Boston won the World Series. So just sit, be patient and wait for the signals my son.
And all that just happened in the past year!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to upgrade some servers for the last time for a while....
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 10:56pm on 17/05/2005 under , , , , ,
1. Between my MP3 player, my camera, and my 1GB flash drive, I have lots of use for the "USB Mass-Storage" interface. I use four different computers that I can connect these to -- all running Linux of course, kernel versions 2.6.7,, and The only one of these that actually works properly and consistently with those USB devices is the one running kernel 2.6.7, the oldest of these versions.
I may never upgrade my kernel again.

2. Debian is finally getting close to releasing the latest stable version of Debian Linux, called "sarge". People are scrambling to make sure their pet programs make it into the release.... to the point of parody.

3. I switched funknet.net web and email over to a new hosting company (DrakNet, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] chronarchy's suggestion) a few weeks ago, right about the same time I was moving my company's email from an old Windows IMail server over to a new Postfix-based mail server I set up myself. The spam at work went down dramatically thanks to a combination of antispam techniques (SMTP protocol checks, sender domain validation, greylisting, realtime blacklists, local blacklists, and SpamAssassin) I used there, but simultaneously the amount of spam I get at home went up because DrakNet seems to use only one or two of those techniques (SpamAssassin, maybe an RBL or two) while I lost the use of my well-trained bogofilter. So now I'm working on tuning and training SpamAssassin.

4. I love Konqueror as a web browser, except when I'm typing these entries on my slow laptop and it loses characters because it's too busy checking my spelling or something. Doesn't it know I was once a spelling champ?! (Well, except for "perculator percolator"....)

Update: 5. I forgot this one before... The movie studios are putting out a new media format. "Studios are embracing the format because, unlike current DVDs, the new discs include robust features to prevent the movies from being illegally copied." Heh, replace "DVDs" with "videotapes" in that statement and flash back to the 90s! I guess that means that DVDs' CSS encryption is now officially obsolete, and DeCSS is now acceptable.

Oh yeah, and I think I need to start keeping better track of the calendar, since I missed Dramarama and The English Beat last Friday. :-(
I did get to see and chat with Watershed when they came around though.
Music:: Weezer - Buddy Holly
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 01:59pm on 05/04/2005 under , ,
(LiveJournal as mobile bookmark database!)

My new camera includes a special mode for taking panoramic series photos, to be stitched together later on the computer. And of course it includes Windows software for doing the stitching -- and no Linux software.

But while looking for something totally unrelated, I just came across a couple Linux programs that may help, hugin for putting them together, and enblend for smoothing out the seams. So maybe I'll be able to use the panorama feature of the camera after all.

Late Update: Panorama Tools also looks promising.
Mood:: 'hopeful' hopeful
rfunk: (cartoon)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 11:30pm on 07/12/2004 under , , , , , , , , ,
My apologies to the vast majority out there who don't care about any of this....

PHP is annoying )

Soekris + m0n0wall = nice small firewall )

Geek Showdown: Debian vs Cartoon Nudity )
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 01:30am on 27/05/2004 under , , , ,
This week I've attempted to be a bit of a minor revolutionary, but things have stalled a bit....

Read more... )
Music:: Aimee Allen - Revolution
Mood:: 'frustrated' frustrated


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