Thursday, August 30, 2007

Seagate to offer solid-state drives in 2008

Because solid state drives can only be written and read from a finite number of times they have a very limited life expectancy. For example if you ran a benchmark test against the disk that updates it say 100,000 times the disk will be toast. These disks really need a disk manager that shows what percentage of it's life has been used and how long it will last based on the useage similar to what it has experienced in the last day, week, month, or some user specified period of time.

As it stands currently these disks are really only good for data that doesn't change and only needs to be read once in to ram each time the computer is powered on. Anything more and you are asking for trouble. Probably not many people realize these hard disks are about as worthless as the batteries built into many products. That is they are engineered to break down.

What's the solution? This product screams for a new market niche. This new market niche will consist of third party products that configure ram disks and management software to avoid using the SS Drives more than absolutely necessary. Here's how I see them working:
1) You need a motherboard that can hold 10+ GBs of RAM
2) You need a driver that partitions some amount of RAM into a RAM disk.
3) Calls to the SS drive are intercepted by the driver and read into the RAM disk and then the RAM disk feeds the program that called for the data.
4) A separate database resides on the ram disk specifying what files have been written to and when, the frequency of the writes, basically disk useage stats. All of these stats are read into the ram drive at boot up.
5) Programs doing virus scans and such, that do not change the files, should be blocked by the disk management software from actually reading the SS drive. Imagine a firewall doing this.
6) Writes back to the SS drive should be done intelligently. Say on power down, on important changes, at specific times.
7) Ideally the ram could be part of a RAID controller card that has battery back up.
8) Frequently used data could be prefetched when the cpu are not in use.
9) You'd want a web interface so it would be as portable as a linksys firewall. And like linksys you'd want the upgrades to be managed over the web with just a click of a button.

This type of software would dramatically lengthen the SS disks life. Not to mention making all hard disks much much faster. The key is offloading all intelligence to a PCI-E card that can hold GBs of cache. The cheapest RAM could be used because it would be obviously much faster than any HD. You'd want a linux OS to control it. The hard part would be to getting the RAID working on it. Maybe a RAID 1 solution would be a great start.

M$ FUD machine's death throes

I will never go back to M$. Everything is better or equivalent to M$ with Ubuntu. I think M$ realizes this and is doing everything they possibly can to stir up some interest in their POS OS. Good luck to them but it's too late. Nothing they can do, short of paying every hardware vendor not to write drivers for Ubuntu, will stop Ubuntu from rolling over them.

On August 23, Microsoft pulled plug on the “Get the Facts” site, replacing it with a new Windows Server “Compare” site.

The goal of the site is to offer more in-depth information and customer-to-customer opinions about many of the issues IT administrators face,” a company spokeswoman said. “It turns out people wanted 3rd party validation in addition to people’s experiences making OS purchasing decisions so in addition to customer case studies, research reports that compare platforms the site will also offer guidance around best practices, web casts, etc.”

Get the Facts had a long and controversial role in Microsoft’s battle against open-source software vendors. Recently, it came to light that Microsoft tried to influence some of the analysts it hired to perform studies in 2002 comparing Windows and Linux to portray Microsoft offerings in a more favorable light. Microsoft’s whole policy of sponsoring analysts to conduct studies comparing its products to open-source ones — which many company observers believed would naturally show Microsoft products and strategies to be superior — had been a bone of contention since the site launched at the start of this decade.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ocean Swimming

Crawling through the water is boring. There's got to be ways of making it more enjoyable. However I don't know any. When I look at the horizon and realize I'll be out there for an hour or two demoralizes me. Crawling on my hands for miles, that is what swimming is, is mind numbing.

I need to think of games to play. Here are some:
1) Keeping my arms strong the whole stroke and feeling my strokes turbulence hit my feet.
2) Harmonizing breaths and strokes to the swells.
3) Spotting on every stroke and being aware of everything around me.
4) Timing myself?

I just saw the following tips:

1. Never swim alone. For safety purposes, always swim with a group or bring along a friend. Given the unknown elements, a dangerous situation may arise such as fog, currents, boats, etc. where you will be in much better shape with others around.

2. Adjust to cold water. If the water you are training in is cold, below 66 degrees fahrenheit, be prepared. Wetsuits are necessary. Wearing a swim cap and earplugs can help keep your head warm. Get in the water slowly and only get in for 5-20 minutes the first time out, gradually increasing your time in the water with each swim.

4. Upon exit of your cold water swim, drink warm fluids, take off your wetsuit, and dress warmly.

3. On sunny days, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before getting in (especially for those with light skin!).

4. Be careful of the fog. It is easy to get lost in foggy weather and lose sight of the shore.

5. Watch the seaweed. If you are ocean swimming and come across seaweed, stay high in the water and do not kick. The seaweed can wrap around you if your legs are kicking.

6. Never swim in a lightning storm.

7. Open water swimming can cause chaffing. Use petroleum jelly if this is a problem.

8. Goggle color. Use dark lenses on sunny days, blue lenses on cloudy days.

Open water swimming can be challenging, but for many it is FUN and a nice change from "following the black line" at the bottom of the pool. Enjoy, and remember, "when in doubt, get out."

1. Fuck that never swim alone bullshit. Swimming with others is a waste of time. Sure, get to know a place with friends. Once you know the place then don't waste time waiting for others. You've got to do it on your own because you can't count on others.

2. I partially agree with the cold water ideas. Keep in mind channel swimmers are out in 55 degree water for 30 hours or more. With no wet suits. And some of them are quite thin. However they've conditioned themselves. They have done this gradually over months or years swimming 4 days a week or more. Your body adapts.

3. Upon exit you won't have a wet suit on to remove hopefully. Because you are not one of those wimps who buy them. Because you swim 3 or 4 times a week you can handle temperatures all the way down to 50 degrees for an hour or two. However changing into warm clothe and drinking something warm might not be a bad idea. Your call. Duh.

4. Yeah, fog is crazy. You need techniques. Here are a few. There may be some swells you can use for direction. You may also be able to see the direction the current is pulling the sea weed. Perhaps you can hear something in the distance like barking seals?

5. Seaweed? uh huh. It's not a problem. It gets annoying when it's so thick you resort to pulling on it to get you about. Other than that it doesn't deserve attention.

6. Lightning storms are cool. It would be a great way to exit this life.

7. Yes, chafing is a problem. Use body glide for it. Most all wetsuit users need it. It's not needed as much for us swimmers who go natural.

8. Uh, don't use dark goggles at night or in fog. Duh.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Microsoft FUD machine

While on a linux site I came across an obnoxious M$ advert. I followed it to here M$ FUD and wondered. M$ does seem to be winning many markets. Just look at China for example. The Chinese were big on Linux. However M$ came in, offered them Vista for $0.05 a copy along with back doors for the government to spy the users with, and now China is 90% M$. What gets me is nobody considers selling M$ Vista for a nickel as dumping. Same thing is also happening with web servers. That is M$ is winning market ground. I don't know how it is possible considering Apache and Linux are the cats meow.

Maybe it's a good thing. Keeping users thinking it is too expensive, too complicated, etc., to ever attempt to learn. This makes for a world that anybody can make a good profit in. Oh well. What the heck. It's as evil as religion. I want nothing to do with it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


It appears PHP has standardized on unit testing methods. It appears many people use the package PHPUnit. However for some reason it doesn't come preinstalled or in the standard PEAR channels. Here are the instructions:

The PEAR channel ( that is used to distribute PHPUnit needs to be registered with the local PEAR environment:

pear channel-discover

This has to be done only once. Now the PEAR Installer can be used to install packages from the PHPUnit channel:

pear install phpunit/PHPUnit

Previous installations of the PHPUnit and PHPUnit2 packages from the channel have to be uninstalled since PHPUnit is no longer hosted on PEAR.

Unfortunately that doesn't work. I get the error

Aug 12, 2007(10:13:15) [root@~]> pear channel-discover
Channel "" is already initialized
Aug 12, 2007(10:14:49) [root@~]> pear install phpunit/PHPUnit
phpunit/PHPUnit can optionally use PHP extension "pdo_mysql"
phpunit/PHPUnit requires PHP extension "xdebug" (version >= 2.0.0), installed version is 2.0.0RC4
No valid packages found
install failed
Aug 12, 2007(10:14:58) [root@~]>

Now if you'll notice the author's website appears to take feedback. The keyword is appear. It's currently busted and only lets you preview your posts. I think this package and his website are perfect examples of how bad the PHP support is. The ideas are great. The implementation is way behind...

Here's a tip for the smuck, err, Sebastian Bergmann. He should start testing his work with automated test tools. Similar to the ones he develops!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

'Marketplace' Report: High-School Econ Test

Day to Day, August 9, 2007 · One-third of the nation's high school seniors are required to pass an economics test. Results were released Wednesday, and scores were higher than officials expected. Students did better on the econ test than on more standard tests such as history and science. Amy Scott of Marketplace and Madeleine Brand test each other to see if they'd graduate on time.

There were two test questions they quoted. One of which the 52% of the HS kids got right. Unfortunately you didn't need to know anything other than be able to deduce the obvious to get right. I'm assuming those 48% didn't care to think about the question or purposely got it wrong because they are fed up with the stupid school system. A school system that would ask questions like the next.

If oil producing countries released more oil would
1) They receive more money
2) They would quit exploring for more oil.
3) The world would cut back on alternative energy investments
4) I forget, but very bogus and stupid.

The "correct" answer was they'd make more money. This is totally bogus. We don't know the curves. Maybe with more being sold they'd make less money. This is the reason milk companies toss good milk out into the desert. Or why the French government is trying to limit wine production currently. Or perhaps over the long term they would make much more money and at the present they don't need the excess money it would produce. So at best the question has multiple answers and can not be an answer. The correct answer is less money would be used on alternative energy. No wonder HS kids don't bother to answer these questions correctly. They get tired of giving the politically correct dumbed down answers.

So why am I upset? I should just jump on the PC bandwagon and join the powers that be. Screw everybody.

Nope, not me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The new Battlestar Galactica

I just discovered this series. It's interesting how bad their analytical abilities are. It's basically a soap opera wrapped in space. Where did these hollywood types come from? It's so bad I suspect the worst soap opera writers without jobs came up with this series.

How would I make it better? A simple clean up, keeping the drama, would simply be to add some logic to the characters. No one single person in charge of determing who are robots. And how could the robot lady be determined to be a robot in a matter of minutes while everybody else takes 11 hours. Hollywood idiots. The whole series is too stupid to watch or even waste more time typing about.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

PHP PEAR Console/Getopt.php

I am new to PHP though I've been using it off and on for years. PHP has a library of standard code much like all mature languages. Experienced coders like to build solid programs built around these standards. So I figured I would start using the command line get options library and start using standardized UNIX argument conventions. Unfortunately the PHP libraries are really quite immature. Sure it may be my environment. I'm using the latest release of Ubuntu, Feisty Fawn, so the version of PHP should be quite current but maybe it is not. Here's what I discovered:

1) The Console/Getopt.php does not pass the static tests if you turn error reporting on. What the hell? Do the developers write code and ignore the errors or do they even have error reporting turned on?! The pimply bozo developers need some maturity. To get around this I turned on the error reporting after including their libraries and calling their code. These kids who developed the code need a father figure to guide them.

2) There are no robust code examples or documentation on the PEAR site for this library. These script kiddies couldn't be bothered apparently.

3) If upper or mixed case keywords are used their libraries blow up with recursive stack problems. So basically their code will make your code look totally unprofessional the first time the user makes a typo.

I was going to post some bugs on the PEAR site but I don't want to be associated with this product. Instead I'll put a routine together that runs daily to test the code. If the code ever gets updated I'll get notification when the script runs. In the meantime these bozos who developed the library will hopefully mature.

!/usr/bin/php -q
require_once 'Console/Getopt.php';

$short_opts = "hf::";
$long_opts = array('help', 'file==');
$con = new Console_Getopt;
$args = $con->readPHPArgv();
$prog = array_shift($args);
$options = $con->getopt2($args, $short_opts, $long_opts);
ini_set("display_errors", 'On');
error_reporting(E_ALL | E_STRICT);

foreach ($options[0] as $option) {
printf("%3d %s=>%s\n", __LINE__, $options[0], $option);
switch ($option[0]) {
case 'h':
case '--help':
case 'f':
case '--file':
printf("%3d %s=>%s\n", __LINE__, $options[0], $option);

function usage($prog) {
$usage = <<Usage: $prog [OPTIONS]
Serves as a skeleton example to be modified as needed
-f, --file=FILE Name of file
-h, --help Display usage