Monthly Archives: March 2006

Loof Lirpa Lerts

I don’t usually post on the weekends and the first of
April happens to arrive tomorrow (sometimes referred to as
Loof Lirpa Day – ed.). So, I’ve decided to post some things
that would otherwise have been posted then.

MS Ships Vista, Says You Can Buy It
Now!

In what is seen as a stunning turn around, Microsoft
announced today the immediate availability of its next
generation operating system: Windows Vista. When asked for
comment, MS’s co-president of Platforms and Services Division

Jim Allchin
, stated it had all been a big misunderstanding. It seems
they had accidently saved an older release candidate as their
proposed gold code and deleted the actual gold code. Once
they realized they had already fixed the bugs they were
working on, it became a simple task of finding the original
code and releasing it.

Apple Changes Direction, Says Goodbye to
Intel and Hello to AMD

During an unannounced appearance and speech at the Wil
Wheaton/Doc Searls/Linus Torvald book signing today, Apple
and Pixar CEO Steve
Jobs
hinted that all was not well with the new Intel powered
Macs. It seem his Highness was not getting sufficient credit
from Intel for his daring and superlative break from the
PowerPC platform. Thus, his Greatness decided to switch to
the long rumored AMD X3 10,000+ Tri-Core processors and would
complete the shift by Q2 of next year.

Lenovo Chops Suey

Lenovo image.
In a follow up to an earlier bulletin about the US
investigation of Lenovo’s so called “spyware” laptops from
China, we have obtained the following leaked image from deep
within Lenovo’s secret chip plant in Ooohlongdong province in
the southern tip of China. The extremely high magnification
image appears to be of a section of the CPU that deals with
reproductive functions but analysts are unsure as to its
specific use.

When pressed for a comment, Lenovo spokesperson Outout U
Deminz said only it was “pure stupidity.” It is unclear where
this newly created substance (i.e, pure stupidity) is on the
atomic scale of elements but is said to have been first
developed by Transmeta for their TransMuted(tm) line of
processors.

In an unrelated announcement, spokesperson Deminz
stated that Lenovo’s VP of Remote Systems Control
Division, Ling Suey, was terminated today. No reason was
given and messages left for Suey were not returned.

Have a Great Weekend, Everyone – Aloha!

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Forty Days and Forty Nights

There hasn’t been these many days of rain here since,
well, [insert fx: voice of Charlton Heston as Moses] never in
recorded history [end fx]. Well, may be since 1950s or so.
Perhaps we should have been concerned when sales of measuring
tapes that indicated cubits sold out last month.

But who knew? Moss is
literally growing on the concrete sidewalks. Mold is
everywhere that moss isn’t. If we wanted this much rain we
would have moved to Seattle or Portland.

Even the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau had to postpone a
national ad campaign that touts our sunny weather. They plan
to start it next week, weather permitting. We can only hope
they are right and we get a break.

Now if the rivers turn to blood or a plague of frogs
befalls us, I’m getting out of here…


Aloha!

Conscientious Cooperator

Some names evoke strong, iconic images. John Wayne. Ronald
Reagan. George Patton. But the following story is not one of
them, but it should – and does once you know of his
courageous actions during World War II (WW II).

He was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, to a carpenter father
and shoe factory worker mother. With parents like that,
perhaps it is not a surprise that he grew to be a very
religious man. To him, religion was not something you did
once a week. Rather, religion was something you lived. His
religion flowed through every cell of his body. It sustained
him during times of trouble and gave him courage to do the
things that needed to be done.

Growing up during this period was not easy. It was the
time of the Great Depression and his parents were so poor
that he had to scrounge bits and pieces from a dump to build
himself a bicycle. His ingenuity and resourcefulness to make
do with what you had would also come in handy one day.

When the storm clouds of war rained down on Pearl Harbor
and it became time to serve his country, he, like the others
of his generation, willing followed the call into the Army to
enlist and begin his training. But this was a different kind
of man.

During training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, at the
end of the day, he would quietly drop on bended knees, next
to his bunk, to pray to God. To thank Him for His protection
and to ask for His strength during the coming months. As
events would prove, he would need both, in abundance.

What did his fellow trainees think of this? They scoffed,
cursed, and taunted him. They hurled all manner of cruelty
towards him. One even threatened, when they were to face
actual combat, to kill him first.

Still, not only did he continue to pray daily to God, but
his religious beliefs prevented him from violating the
Sabbath by training on that holy day because the 10
Commandments said to honor God’s day of rest. He also refused
to learn how to kill others as he had entered the military as
a “conscientious objector” and because those same 10
Commandments prohibited him from taking the lives of
others.

Things got so bad that, eventually, his commanding officer
began the paper work to declare him “unsuitable for military
service” and to remove him under what is known as a Section 8
discharge. This, even though he performed all other duties
assigned to him with dedication. This, even though, as a
medic, he could save lives, rather than take them. But this
man of God would not, could not, sign a document he knew to
be untrue. So, in the Army he stayed.

Once deployed,

his actions
, in combat, immediately brought him fame. However, it was during
the period of 29 April to 21 May, 1945, that this man was
involved in the some of the bloodiest battles on one of the
bloodiest islands in the Pacific – Okinawa. The very name of
the island sends chills through the hearts of those who
fought there. Strong men have been known to cry, when
recalling how their comrades died on that battle field.

The
Battle
of Okinawa
is described as the largest amphibious assault during the
entire Pacific campaign of WW II. Almost 19,000 US troops
were killed and 72,000 were wounded. This astounding number
is double the number killed on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal,
combined. On the Japanese side, an estimated 100,000 were
killed. The Battle of Okinawa turned out the be the last
major battle of the war before Japan eventually surrendered a
few months later.

It was during this battle that this son of a carpenter, a
member of what is rightly called the
Greatest
Generation
, this man of God by the name of
Desmond
Thomas Doss
proved his worth to his fellow soldiers:

He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion
assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops
gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery,
mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting
approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back.
Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the
fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by
1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on
a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to
friendly hands.

On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar
fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the
lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4
men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly
defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to
within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he
dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips
under fire to evacuate them to safety.

On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and
small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied
bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered
protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and
mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered
plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely
wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where
he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered
aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually
exposed to enemy fire.

On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri,
he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his
company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he
would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving
aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded
in the legs by the explosion of a grenade.

Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared
for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter
bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The
trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss,
seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off
the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first
attention to the other man.

Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again
struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm.
With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his
shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over
rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding
bravery and unflinching determination in the face of
desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives
of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the
77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above
and beyond the call of duty.

Mr. Doss, died last week Thursday at the age of 87. He was
the first (and so far, one of only two) conscientious
objectors to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor (the
other recipient being Thomas W. Bennett, who was an Army
medical aidman during the Vietnam War). Our thoughts and
prayers go out to his friends and family. May he rest in
peace.


Aloha!

Lisa Brummel, MS VP of HR

Many people may think Bill Gates is Microsoft. But actually,
Microsoft is made up of 63,000 people. Many of these people are
bright, articulate, and have a passion to produce excellent
products that meet the needs of its customers.

Yes, as in any large organization, there are those who seem
to focus on counter productive behaviors. But, I hope, they are
in the minority.

What I want to spotlight today is
a Channel 9 interview of MS VP
of Human Resources Lisa Brummel
(the download is 110MB, so pause and reflect before choosing
to view it).


Ms. Brummel
has a BA
in Sociology from Yale University and an
MBA
from UCLA.

Before moving over to HR last year, she was VP of
Microsoft’s division that includes, among others, input devices
(e.g., mice and keyboards), games (e.g., Flight Simulator and
Age of Empires), and home applications (e.g., Money and
Encarta). This division brings in about one billion in annual
sales, making it the fourth most profitable enterprise within
MS.

But even with all her qualifications, she has a tough job
ahead of her.

All successful organizations must create work environments
that are healthy for its employees. By that I don’t necessarily
mean a safe workplace, although that is certainly part of it.
Rather, I’m talking about a workplace where people can express
their passion for what they care about and creatively
channeling that energy into solving problems.

However, some MS employees are saying there are festering
problems with employee compensation not being up-to-par. This,
especially in light of senior management multi-million dollar
bonuses. Others are concerned about new hires that don’t seem
to be qualified and appear to be placed just to fill a quota.
Still others are concerned about low stock dividends while, at
the same time, MS is spending millions to acquire other
companies.

Ms. Brummel seems to be a rare combination of
people-centered person while, at the same time, being tech
savvy. I wish her well because if she is successful, MS will
produce products that excel (pun not intended).

Bad Header! Bad. No Biscuit for You!

As a follow-up to my post on my internal server error (500)
that I keep getting when running MovableType’s rebuild of
Categories – I’ve mentioned before how it seems my web host,
pair.com, throttles how much CPU resources any one process can
use. Pair has a page that lists which processes have been
automatically “modified or terminated”. On that list are the
scripts that, among other things, run comments and rebuild
Categories.

However, feedback from pair states that although they are
throttling the script, they aren’t terminating it. In
investigating the problem, the indicate the following:

I was able to find the following error showing up through
Apache while trying to run the rebuild :

Bad header=Out of memory!

I checked the logs for the program on the server that
enforces the resource usage policies to see if this was
ending the script, however it was not. There are entries for
it running the “nice” command on the script which simply
lower the priority of it to the CPU. This would not impact
the actual execution of the script though.

While running the rebuild I saw that the process handling
this quickly grows to over 45MB of RAM usage in a matter of
seconds, then terminates. This appears to be a problem in the
configuration of Movable Type itself. Unfortunately, we will
not be able to debug this for you. You should contact Movable
Type support in regards to the issue. They should be able to
best advise what changes to the MT installation are needed to
correct this.

Possible solutions? 1. I can switch from static to dynamic
pages (i.e., switch from HTML pages stored on the server to
elements retrieved from the MySQL database and temporarily
assembled in memory when a “page” is requested). 2. I can
modify the category template to be more efficient. 3. I can
switch to another CMS that is more efficient in rebuilding its
archives. 4. I can switch to another host.

The downside of doing number 1 is that if the database
becomes corrupted or lost, all content is likewise corrupted or
lost. On a static site, loss of the database doesn’t mean
anything to the pages that already been created and stored as
regular HTML files. Those pages will always exist and therefore
are independent of the database server status.

In addition, once the static pages are built, it is usually
more efficient for the server to simply transfer the markup to
your browser for display than it is to make multiple queries to
a database, build the page, and then send the page to your
browser.

The downside of number 2 is that I’m not sure how optimized
it has to be to work. And even if optimized for
now, what happens when I hit 2,000 posts? Or 3,000. etc?

For option 3, I’ve taken a quick look at what else is out
there as far as CMSs. Although I was surprised at the number of
systems, there are only a few that output to static pages.
Still, this may be possible.

Solution 4 is also possible. There are other hosts,
including hosting my site myself on a PC at home. I’ve been
looking at operating systems to run the site and have tried
FreeBSD and various versions of Linux. Still, it would be a
large investment in time to get things running (and keep it
running).

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet. I will, of
course, contact MT and give them the information that pair
provided. But for now, I may try experimenting with using
dynamic pages for just the categories while leaving everything
else static.

Programming Note: Monday is a state holiday so probably no post. See everyone
back here on Tuesday!

Have a Great Weekend, Everyone –
Aloha!

Rocketbox: Format Neutral Firmware for your iPod

The folks over at
Rocketbox
have a project that may be of interest to, among others,
iPod (iPod 4G, Color/Photo, Nano or Video) owners. First, be
clear I have not tried this, nor am I recommending or
endorsing this project. Your use of this program probably
voids whatever warranty you may have and may or may not be
legal in your country of use. If it violates any laws in your
country, don’t use it. Even if you do, you use at at your own
risk. Insert disclaimer here.

So, what is Rocketbox? Rocketbox is firmware that replaces
the one your music player came with. Once installed, it
allows you to play MP3, OGG, FLAC, AAC, ALAC, AC3 and WavPack
without first transcoding into your player’s native format.
They say it also includes “gapless and crossfading, as well
as a five-band parametric equalizer to fine-tune sound
output. iPods also get ReplayGain support for volume level
normalization, and a large number of plugins, including
games, applications, and ‘demos'”.

Earlier, I listed things I wished my nano could do. One of
them was gapless cross-fading. Well, here it is.
Unfortunately, I would have to replace the nano’s firmware to
do it so I’m probably not going to try it. At least, not as
long as my warranty is still active. After that, who knows.


Aloha!

Path Problems in MT 3.2

So, pair.com support reminded me that my account allows
access to the server logs. In examining the error log, the only
thing I could find that seemed out of place was the
following:

http://www.seto.org [Tue Mar 21 2006] [error] File does not
exist: /path/to/mt-diary/mt-site.js

This error made be pause. Pause. Okay, mt-site.js, by
default, is found in the /~home/mt-static directory. Why is
MT looking for it in /mt-diary? I don’t know. But if it wants
it in /mt-diary, that’s where I’ll put it. So I copied the
file into /mt-diary. But. I still get a 500 error when I
rebuild Categories. Sigh.

The error log doesn’t indicate any error. So I download
the raw log and find the following:

[21/Mar/2006:] “GET /path/to/mt-diary/mt.cgi?__mode=rebuild&blog_id=1&type=Category&next=0&offset=&limit=&total_entries=1230&is_bm=&entry_id=&is_new=&old_status=&old_previous=&old_next=
HTTP/1.1” 500 535
http://www.seto.org/cgi-bin/path/to/mt-diary/mt.cgi”
“Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.8.0.1)
Gecko/20060124 Firefox/1.5.0.1”

For some reason, MT is looking for mt-cgi in /mt-diary.
But. The default location for mt.cgi is in cgi-bin. Why is MT
looking for it in /mt-diary? Clearly, something is
misconfigured. I don’t have the time this morning to follow
up but I will check on things later tonight.

UPDATE: What may be misconfigured is my brain. I have to double check the paths in the error messages. I may have read them wrong so perhaps the paths are correct. If so, then the server log messages aren’t very helpful and I need to keep looking for the answer.


Aloha!