Posts Tagged "technology"

iPad Reactions

iPad

So, yesterday was the big day. The Coming of The Tablet. I'm not exactly a big tech pundit. I've never seen an iPad in person. I haven't even played with the emulator yet. But I thought I'd still post my immediate reactions.

The Name: It's not that bad. It doesn't trigger the same juvenile "feminine products" joke urge in me that that it does with all of the commentators on Slashdot. It kind of reminds me of PADDs from Star Trek, which is a good association for a high-tech device. It's better than "iSlate" would've been. I think "Apple …

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SpamAssassin 2010 Bug

Hey all. One of the sysadmins at Mudd, Claire Connelly, pointed out that there's a widespread bug in SpamAssassin that might cause large numbers of false positives on mail sent after 2010-01-01. Apparently, the "date in future" rule is hardcoded to look for years after 2010. You can read more at LWN; the short of it is that you probably want to add the following to your SpamAssassin config:

score FH_DATE_PAST_20XX 0.0

sa-update may or may not be pulling down updated rules. You can find the relevant bug at the SpamAssassin Bugzilla (#5852). Anyhow, something fun to be aware …

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*nix Tip of the Day: Dynamic DNS

Bonjour logo

It's nice to have DNS records for all of your computers. It's a giant pain in the ass to remember IP addresses, especially if you're on something like a cable connection, where the IP address is dynamic (but only changes every month or two). Now, you could go ahead and use DynDNS or No-IP or something. But those are lame. You have to use a subdomain of one of their domains, and you have to use their software to update. You might be wondering if there's a better way. Well, there is. Standard DNS supports updating, it turns out. In BIND, this is managed through the allow-update parameter. I had some free time this week after I finished finals, so I went ahead and set it up, along with the other trimmings required for Wide-Area Bonjour. It's cool, so I thought I'd post a bit.

The most important resource for all of this stuff is dns-sd.org. Aside from a couple of minor errors that I corrected and an update for OS X 10.5+, this Tip will be based off of the guides from that site. So credit to them.

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New Machine

I picked up a new "computer" last week. A virtual one, that is. I ran into this site called prgmr which offers very low-cost, bare virtual private servers. So far, so good. Got Debian set up all the way I like it. Now just to find something fun to do with it. :-)

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*nix Tip of the Day: VMS

Okay, so this is maybe a little unusual, but today's "*nix Tip of the Day" isn't about Unix/Linux/etc. at all. Instead, it is about their antiquated archenemy: VMS. First, a little bit of history:

History

Way back in 1970, the PDP-11 was hot stuff. Ken Thompson, Dennis Richie, Brian Kernighan, and others at Bell Labs were writing what would become Unix for the PDP-11 (well, for the PDP-7 at first, but nobody talks about that). Unix was a huge improvement over what DEC shipped with the PDP-11, DOS-11 and RT-11. This couldn't stand, so Dave Cutler at DEC designed VMS. It was a new operating system, with lots of fancy features, like networking and, uh, lots of upper-case letters.

VMS and Unix sort of battled on. Or so some people would have you think. Really, Unix won early on and VMS stumbled along with corporate financing and an obnoxiously difficult-to-use interface. It passed from DEC to Compaq to HP, from the PDP-11 to the Alpha to the Itanium. And it still lives on, churning away in scary back-rooms here and there.

Current Events

So, why do I bring this up? Well, as some of you may know, Harvey Mudd College has a few VMS machines around. The most well-known of these (to students) is thuban, which is a 667MHz DEC Alpha running OpenVMS 7.3-2. Today, I had the, uh, interesting experience of using it, and thought I'd share my impressions with my readers. You can see the proof of my VMS skills at my VMS homepage. That's right, I'm on the Internet. And on DECnet.

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Recipe to Crash a Kindle

Kindle

Here's a fun thing that I've just discovered:

  1. Purchase an Amazon Kindle 2 (this trick may work on other versions)
  2. Download the MobiPocket version of The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
  3. Copy the .mobi file into your Kindle documents folder
  4. Open the copy of the book that appears on your device
  5. Enjoy the frequent crashes and random "java.lang.integer" exception errors that pop up (even when you do not have the book open!)
  6. Fight with the Kindle for a while until you realize that it's this book, remove it from your device, and reboot the device (yes, this step …
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