Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Fri, 30 Nov 2007

More toys

I've been trying out some more plug-ins for my Pyblosxom site.

One thing I still want to do is to get the site URLs rewritten to something shorter. The main page should really just be at www.bagofspoons.net. I understand this means some set-up in Apache that I need to work out. There's other things to sort out when I find time.

[21:44] | [/Site News] | Comments | G

Thu, 15 Nov 2007

Herts LUG 20071114

Down to Stevenage for the monthly chat. I was interested to see a Panasonic Toughbook (very rugged looking laptop) and a neat Palm emulator on Tony's Nokia N770. If I could get one for my PocketPC then I wouldn't need to carry two PDAs around. I still haven't migrated some of my data or found substitutes for some of the apps I use. Malc showed up later to talk about his attempts to recover a dying hard drive. One suggestion was to bang it on a table if the heads were stuck.

Several people were interested in the new Asus Eee PC. It's a mini laptop with a flash drive for not too much money. I don't really need a powerful laptop and probably wouldn't want to take one on holiday, but this is much more convenient and powerful enough for internet, photo editing or watching videos. A big plus is that it runs Linux. I can't justify one just now, but perhaps it will encourage a new wave of budget devices. Or they will just bring out a better one for the same money in six months.

My software revelation of the week is that Skype released a Linux client that does video! It's a beta, but that's never stopped me before. I have it installed, but have yet to try the video feature. Otherwise it looks the same as the previous one, i.e. a bit lacking in features, like showing contacts by group, that I liked before. I don't have a working webcam myself. Recommendations for something cheapish that works on Ubuntu are welcome. Other interesting new software this week was Miro. It's a sort of RSS reader for video. You can subscribe to various feeds and get the latest editions. Some of it is even in HD, but the examples I tried were not that impressive on my 19" CRT. One day I'll move to a nice 22" widescreen LCD.

[22:00] | [/Computer] | Comments | G

Sun, 11 Nov 2007

One Million Gnodes

This is geeky, but I don't care. I've been contributing processing power to Distributed.net for many years on a variety of computers. My current dual-core Athlon is probably equivalent to a dozen of the old machines I started with, plus the software has been optimised to get more out of the hardware. I had switched to Folding@home as it seemed to be of more practical use, but I was having problems with it crashing out and losing many hours of work, so I switched back to the Dnet OGR project. There's also the RC5-72 code-cracking project, but that seems to have already proved that it's not currently viable to brute-force the code. After a few years they haven't even managed 0.5% of the keyspace.

Anyway, today I finally reached the milestone of one million Gnodes on OGR-25. I can see there that I've been running it for over seven years, but at the rate I'm running now I could do the same work in about eight months.

I'm not sure how long this project has to run. There are a lot less contributors these days, but I estimate it could be done within the next six months. There has been a hint that a new project is coming along soon. I feel a certain loyalty to this group, so I will be looking out for that.

There's an argument that we shouldn't be leaving computers on and running them at full capacity to run projects like this due to the increased energy usage. I have my own dilema about this, but I think I compromise well by not leaving my computer on all the time and by saving energy in other areas. The Windows F@H client has the option to not use all the available CPU. That's a good way to compromise and also keep the computer cooler. I understand that this is trickier to do on Linux. Dnet does have the option to only use one CPU core, which should keep the power usage down a bit, but I'll keep my PC on full steam for now. It helps keep the house warm in the winter, but probably not by much.

My contribution to these projects may actually be almost insignificant next to that of the many Playstations that now run them. Their multi-core processors seem capable of very high speeds. I'm not planning on buying one, but we have been considering a Nintendo Wii purely for family entertainment. The problem may be in actually finding one. They seem to be in very short supply in the UK. Ideally I'd like to use vouchers from my credit card to buy it, but that limits the options futher. For example I couldn't find any Argos stores with them in stock. Any suggestions?

[11:59] | [/Computer] | Comments | G

Sun, 04 Nov 2007

Socialists

I've mentioned before that I don't really like closed social sites like Facebook. I shouldn't have to force friends to join whatever site I'm on just so they can see my updates. I could ask them to subscribe to the feeds of all the sites I use, but that's asking a bit much and their list will not stay up to date for long. I've been exploring some sites that let me build a single feed from all my sites.

Mugshot does this fairly well, but has some limitations. It only allows linking to certain sites plus one blog. It has some nice social features like groups that all you to have a joint feed.

FriendFeed offers very similar facilities, but not groups. What attracted me there is the option to set up feeds for friends who don't want to join themselves. They call this 'Imaginary Friends'. Others may call it cyberstalking ;) They also don't allow for multiple feeds from sites they don't directly support. I'm on their support group, so I will be pushing for things like that.

The big news in social networking this week was Google's announcement of OpenSocial. I'm not fully clear on it's capabilities, but I gather that it would let developers write applications like those available within Facebook, but they could be used on any site that implements their API. We shall see how it develops.

[19:40] | [/Internet] | Comments | G

Fresh Py

Over the weekend I've done an overdue update on my site. I was a few revisions behind with PyBlosxom. This version doesn't offer any radical changes, but is supposed to fix some bugs. I've taken the opportunity to reorganise the directory structure to make future upgrades simpler.

I'm also playing with some plug-ins. I've had comments for a while, but only just set them up to email me updates recently. I'm not fully convinced that always works. I've also finally added one for static pages, i.e. pages that are not tied to a date. I intend to use these for things like saying something about myself and things I want to be always easily accessible. I've started with transferring a lot of the content from the right-hand side to a page linked from the top right. I'll tidy that up later. This should resolve an issue a friend was having in tracking links to his site. He was finding hundreds from here as my friends list appeared everywhere.

I still intend to generate my About page from my FOAF file when I find the time. I've seen some other places doing this, so I may be able to copy their code.

Big thanks to Will for his help in getting my static page working. He wrote the plug-in and is the main PyBlosxom man. We chatted on IRC to sort it out. I love the fact that you can have direct access to developers on free software. We found we had a common love of Philip Glass and I suggested he check out Steve Reich.

[19:39] | [/Site News] | Comments | G

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