Relocated

30 06 2010

This blog is now hosted at http://techarcana.net; please visit us over there!





PDB from Emacs under Windows

2 05 2010

Apparently you have to force python to use unbuffered input. Passing -i works for me but I’ve seen -u recommended too.





64-bit binaries with MSVC 9.0 express

1 05 2010

The problem is that VCVARSALL.BAT refers to the wrong target/host-specific .BAT files. Make sure you re-point directly at the files in c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\bin\





WordPress is Amazing

17 08 2009

I have been using wordpress.com (this site is hosted there) for quite some time, but a while back I got tired of the limited configurability and the need to pay for every little tweak. When I narrowed down my choices of themes to the ones where source code examples, there wasn’t much left to choose from. Since I was just starting a new C++ blog, it was clear to me that I’d need a better platform for my purposes. I’ve become very particular about how my communications present themselves—who am I kidding? I’ve always been particular!—and it just wasn’t going to fly to have the type too small or the code look bad.

I started looking around at other blogging software, such as MovableType. I really thought I was going to want the Motion add-on, but I tried it and couldn’t really figure out what it was buying me. Furthermore I couldn’t stand waiting for MT to regenerate HTML files. I looked into a bunch of other technologies, too, though not in so much depth.

At some point I tried installing WordPress on my own server. It went smoothly, as most php-based installations seem to for me. IIRC, they guide you through the steps in a browser, using WordPress’ own web UI (why don’t more packages work that way?) Configurability has been just incredible; there are scads of free plugins, many of them very slick, and most of which seem to work pretty well. It feels easily as responsive as another site running on the same server using a custom-built Django-based framework.

But the biggest amazement for me has been the gentle learning curve. I don’t even really know PHP, and still I’ve been able to slowly and incrementally push the design towards the site I want it to be, and the frustration I usually feel with most web software systems seems completely missing. Now it seems to me that WordPress could be a good platform for almost any website, blog or otherwise. I’m impressed; can you tell?





Wish I’d found this site a year ago

11 06 2009

This blog series on setting up a home ZFS fileserver has a lot of awfully familiar screenshots. Simon, on the other hand, had the sense to go right to the official ZFS implementation rather than messing around with FUSE. I wish I’d seen it a year ago, but I’m sure there’s more to learn, so will definitely be plumbing it for information. I may only end up posting the few additional things I’ve learned here, since what he’s got looks so complete. Ta ta!





Hydra is Dead — Long Live Hoss!

11 06 2009

It’s been a while.

Hey, I’ve been busy. My adventures with ZFS-Fuse finally got too exciting when I mistakenly allocated a bunch of partitions to both ZFS and mdRAID, and I had to throw out most of what I’d accomplished. Since I had to tear the machine down anyway, I had the opportunity to do some benchmarking of native ZFS on OpenSolaris against ZFS-Fuse (follow the link and browse the thread for complete results). My conclusions in short were that in addition to continuing to be maintained and improved (it’s already one version ahead of the Fuse implementation), OpenSolaris ZFS is beating ZFS-Fuse on performance consistently, and often by a factor of 5 or more.

Finally, I realized I needed something that was less of a hack than my ZFS-Fuse setup with patches, pre-release Fuse, etc. I really can’t afford to spend the rest of my life getting this system set up. So with a little encouragement from Fajar A. Nugraha, I jumped. Hydra is being rebuilt as an OpenSolaris box called “Hoss.” I’ll try to post the same information about doing this in Solaris that I did on Linux; watch this space for updates.





Comments on Unibody MacBookPro 17″

14 05 2009

Been working with a MBP17″ for a few months, and Apple asked me for feedback today, so I thought I’d share what I told them with the rest of you:

  • Has HDAPS (“Hard Drive Active Protection System,” an IBM term), which uses inertial sensors to park your disk when you jiggle the computer around!  This is a great feature, but Apple doesn’t seem to market it.
  • Build quality is awesome.
  • Weight is awesome for a 17″-er
  • Battery life is really good, but I’d like it if Apple could do more to help me conserve.  For example, I only use USB at my desktop when the computer is plugged in; I’d like to have it off on battery power by default
  • Keyboard nit: the keys are too flat.  The slight curvature of keys on the earlier MBP keyboard helped with touch typing.
  • Too much tactile feedback in the keyboard.  Tactile feedback has been proven to be ergonomically counterproductive (hurts typing speed, accuracy, and RSI rate), even though everybody seems to want it.  The ideal keyboard technology (IMO of course) was only used in a couple of laptops, the Dell Inspiron 8100 and Latitude C810.  I had a custom external ‘board made from used parts and I’m still using it.
  • Not enough keys on the keyboard.  I miss Home, End, Page Up, Page Down, (forward) Delete, and Insert
  • Its unix is crippled in several ways that make me miss Ubuntu:
    • No single comprehensive package management system.  MacPorts and Fink don’t play well together
    • The X11 server is dog-slow.
    • Keys don’t pass transparently through Terminal.app and/or X11 to a Linux system
    • Command-line apps are 2nd class citizens next to regular Mac .app bundles.







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