rfunk: (phone)
2008-06-05 07:48 pm

iPod Touch

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.....
rfunk: (Default)
2008-01-15 06:23 pm
Entry tags:

One Button or Three?

Every so often I look at Apple's laptops, such as the just-announced ultra-thin MacBook Air and think "hmm, those are nice, maybe I should get one of those sometime."

Then I notice (again) that there's only one "mouse" button. I use three all the time (in Linux the middle button is a quick Paste of whatever's highlighted, and also opens links in a new tab). I could even get by with two buttons. But not one. And adding an external mouse kind of misses the point of ultra-portability.

Maybe someday there'll at least be a way to retrofit another button or two in there. Until then, sadly, no Macbook for me.
rfunk: (Default)
2007-11-29 06:32 pm
Entry tags:

Linux video success

Two weeks ago was Linux video frustration.

This week, I obtained and installed a known-compatible video card (ATI Radeon 9200). I now have working digital 2D and 3D video at reasonable speeds.

In other words, I'm a bit ahead of where I was before my Ubuntu upgrade, with no shark attacks. I'll take that as success.

Someday I'll try again at switching from a single analog screen to dual-DVI screens on my work machine with Intel video......
rfunk: (Default)
2007-11-16 05:43 pm
Entry tags:

Linux is great, but.....

You'd think after running Linux for 12 years I wouldn't have major problems with it. And for the most part I don't. But then come those weeks when I seem to get bitten by every remaining bug in the system.....

Warning, computer talk ahead )

At least having three machines here means that they're hit with different problems, and when I do have problems with one I can fall back to the others.
rfunk: (check this out)
2007-09-13 03:25 pm
Entry tags:

Later Project: Digital Media Box

This week we heard the latest news in the digital TV saga: cable TV operators will allow customers to use analog TVs until at least 2012. Which basically means they'll continue having analog video outputs on their boxes; I figure those output will stick around quite a few years longer than that.

On the other hand, those of us in the U.S. who get TV the old-fashioned way, through the antenna, are currently scheduled to lose the old NTSC signal on February 17, 2009, about a year and a half from now. The federal government is supposed to provided $30 coupons for digital-TV (ATSC) converter boxes, but when I checked the Best Buy website today I found only one such box available, and that was $180. It's slightly tempting to run out to buy one to add to the entertainment center.

Then consider that, for anyone still recording shows with a VCR, the tuner in the VCR will also become obsolete, so the VCR will no longer be programmable to record the appropriate channel at the appropriate time. The solution for that, of course, is a DVR, preferably a dual-tuner one.

But the only DVR I've found so far that handles digital broadcast signals is the third-generation TiVo, and that currently costs $800, plus a monthly TiVo service fee. (Other TiVos are more like $250.)

So since digital-broadcast DVRs are so rare, the next thought is to build a super-DVR (plus other capabillities) out of computer parts, using MythTV or Freevo software. Lots of geeks are doing it these days, but that starts a big adventure of choosing the most-compatible tuner cards, video output cards, and fast-enough processors that are still quiet and cool. Who knows what the price would turn out to be. (Update: [livejournal.com profile] ah_graylensman says about $685.)

Maybe I should wait a bit to work on this one. There will, by the way, be a talk at the upcoming Ohio LinuxFest that seems tangentially related to this: "The Path to the $100 Linux Media Center"
rfunk: (Default)
2007-01-17 03:18 pm

Flash, Finally

As noted at LWN, Adobe has finally announced the official release of the Flash 9 player for Linux. The last release for Linux was Flash 7; there was no Flash 8 for Linux, so much of the modern Flash-based web content, especially videos, has been unavailable to Linux people for a long time. (There were a couple of betas of the Flash 9 player in fall, but now we have the real thing.)

For a long time I was a Flash hater, and it still doesn't take much for Flash to annoy me. It bogs down the computer, it adds unwanted visual (and sometimes audible) noise to whatever I'm trying to read, and occasionally it crashes my browser. And these things can't be fixed by the programming community because Adobe (previously Macromedia) keeps it binary-only proprietary software, not allowing programmers outside the company to improve the code. This results in another problem, that a Flash player doesn't come with Linux like everything else I use does. So with the various problems, I tend not to have it enabled by default. Often I don't even install the plugin in my main browser (Konqueror), while still installing it in an alternate browser (Firefox). Or I might install it but tell the browser to allow it only for vertain domains. When I use Firefox, the FlashBlock extension is essential, since it allows me to only run the Flash that I want to run.

Despite its problems, here are three reasons that Flash is worthwhile for me:
Pandora - music player organized by musical similarity (or similarity to my taste)
YouTube - videos depicting such essentials as treadmill power-pop
Homestar Runner - well, mainly Strongbad answering his mail
rfunk: (Default)
2006-10-05 02:48 pm

Last Saturday: LinuxFest and Room Nineteen

Last Saturday was the fourth Ohio LinuxFest, at the Columbus Convention Center. Read more... )

Football? )

Finally: Music )
rfunk: (Default)
2006-03-27 12:45 pm

Tech Successes

I've had some surprising technical sucesses lately....
Read more... )

On the other hand, I finally got around to looking into the fact that my FunkNet icon no longer showed up as the "favicon" for my LiveJournal pages. Turns out LJ apparently started filtering out the HTML tag I used to make that work, forcing their pencil icon back. :-(
rfunk: (Default)
2006-03-06 06:08 pm

Detours On The Web Technology Road

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. )
rfunk: (Default)
2005-11-02 12:16 pm

Two great tastes....

(Yeah, I know, none of you care about this....)

I first heard rumblings of this a week or two ago, but now the announcement is official: There's now a Debian GNU/Solaris. (Unfortunately things aren't entirely open yet.)

Why does this interest me? Although I've used and run at least seven different flavors of Unix, I learned most of my "real-world" system administration skills on Solaris, and it was my primary operating system at work for a few years, while simultaneously running Linux at home.

But on Solaris I always needed to add the GNU programs (and others) that came with Linux, and then try to keep up with their updates. (I made a now-obsolete web page [Funknet version] just for this purpose.) Also, release upgrades were best done as reinstalls. In the Linux world, I found that Debian made keeping up with updates and upgrades quite simple. Now I run Debian on production servers primarily because of those attributes (plus the long-term stability of Debian's stable releases).

It will be interesting to see a Solaris with some of my favorite server-relevant features of Debian. I wonder if it will run on the old sun4c and sun4m shoeboxes I have in the basement. Of course, I also wonder what I'd do with them if it did; I haven't even put Linux on them, and I know that would work.

Meanwhile, OpenBSD has a new release with some interesting new networking features, but until they improve the update/upgrade mechanism quite a bit (preferably to Debian's level), I'm unlikely to use it for much.
rfunk: (Default)
2005-10-19 12:10 am

Weekend Update at last

Two weeks ago I started writing about a busy weekend, and got about halfway through it before putting it down. When I thought about continuing, I realized that my writeup was way too long and boring. Meanwhile, I had another (much quieter) weekend, and then a weekend together with my wife. But I still felt like I had unfinished business.

So, trashing the long writeup I attempted before, here's a quick rundown of the past three weekends....

Busy )

Quiet )

Together )

Ah, now I feel better.... all is right in this part of the world again. :-)
rfunk: (Default)
2005-06-07 09:09 am

Debian Sarge release

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....
rfunk: (Default)
2005-05-17 10:56 pm

Misc. Geek Notes

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.
rfunk: (phone)
2004-10-02 02:50 pm

Namespace clashes

I'm sitting here at the Hyatt Regency Columbus at the second Ohio LinuxFest, and so far the most interesting talk was about Security-Enhanced Linux. But it wasn't interesting only for the obvious reasons; it was also interesting because it reminded me of some mildly annoying namespace clashes in technology:

When someone mentions "MAC", it could be a reference to:
- An Apple Macintosh
- Medium Access Control on an ethernet network, or the hardware address used in that protocol
- Mandatory Access Control security

Then we also have:
- eMacs, the type of Apple computers
- Emacs, the "extensible, customizable, self-documenting real-time display editor."

I've also learned enough about FreeBSD here that I might give that another try; the last time I tried it was in the late 90s with version 3.something.
rfunk: (Default)
2004-09-01 10:45 am
Entry tags:

Peace in the editor wars

This makes me laugh every time I type it:
vi ~/.emacs