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Apr 30, 2007

Drunken Sumo + More

Entertainment under 96kb - Brilliant Drunken Sumo.

An author often re-uses character traits over and over again - Feedback and Repetition Compulsion.

Pretty fascinating stuff - DIY Quantum Eraser. Can't see anyone reproducing this but it seems simple enough.

WordPress - Commodore64 Theme. Seriously retro.

Interesting - Optical nets easier to hack than copper.

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses strike again - Small houses challenge our notions of need as well as minimum-size standards. Definitely to small for me but just a little bit bigger and I'd happily spend time in one.

I eat to much rubbish - What do 300 calorie meals look like ?

Handy - Common Latin Phrases Explained. I always wondered what 'ie' & 'eg' meant . . .

Nifty - 3D Window Manager for Windows. Eye candy is always entertaining but long term they can be a real drain on resources.

As a Vi fan I can appreciate the geeky usefulness of a Vi mug.

Amusing - How to interview. The 'Feynman interviews for Microsoft' is brilliant.

Office 2007 is pretty awesome - the ribbon interface is genuinely innovative. However it looks like there are tools to tame the ribbon and give you the classic look 'n feel.

Interesting - Is Data ONTAP Based on Unix ? Intriguing to see them move to using FreeBSD for their ONTAP GX product.

Lift Improvements - New elevator technology. Makes sense - I wonder how much effort manufacturers put into optimising lift management ?

Aargh - While working on a particle accelerator, Anatoli Bugorski accidentally put his head into the proton stream.

[/links] | [permalink] | [2007.04.30-19:30.00]

YouTube Music Video - Chris Knox

Chris Knox is an elder-statesman of Kiwi alternative rock (I'm sure he'd hate the description). His stuff is characterised primarily by simple tape loops and melodic guitar fuzz - one of his releases with Tall Dwarfs even saw him accept tape loops from fans all over the world and incorporated as the rhythm tracks for each song. I've seen him play live a couple of times back in my University Orientation days and he was always entertaining.

The video is for 'Not Given Lightly' - I'm not usually a fan of sappy love songs but if you're going to do one then this is definitely the best way to do it - keep it simple, melodic, slightly twee and a little earnest.

Chris even wrote a self-deprecating article about this song 16 years after it was released.

For a less sweet side to his music check out Nothings Going to Happen and Turning Brown and Torn in Two.

[/music] | [permalink] | [2007.04.30-19:08.00]

Apr 29, 2007

This week I have mostly been listening to . . .

I've almost finished re-ripping all my CD's - I'm up to 15 days of continuous listening, 4500 songs and I still have the A and B section of my collection to go through.

Working backwards from Z I've ended up re-discovering a bunch of stuff I hadn't listened to in awhile.

So lately I've been listening to

Trash, Wagon Christ, M83, Iggy Pop, Portishead, Snapper, Whale, The Fall, Lambchop, Minutemen, Sun Ra, Terminals, Tindersticks, Transglobal Underground, John Zorn, Low, Skeptics, Ice, The Clean, Leadbelly

[/music] | [permalink] | [2007.04.29-19:04.00]

Apr 24, 2007

iSCSI + More

Some more interesting storage tidbits - Is iSCSI a SAN or NAS ? (depends where you want to send the bill :-) and it turns out EMC also have a simulator - EMC’s Celerra Simulator.

Joel Spolsky is looking at another office space - Moveable Walls. Interesting the financial hoops that need to be jumped through just to setup shop.

According to New Scientist it looks like wealthy people will help the poor and the poor enjoy punishing the rich - Money game reveals our inner Robin Hood.

Fascinating - Infographic of American Gun Deaths - looks like guns in the US are primarily used for murder and suicide. I can never work out if the NY Times has a paywall or not - hopefully this will stay accessible for awhile.

Nice eyecandy - wonderful desktop images.

A little pop-psychology - The Ideological Animal. "Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects' childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns."

Jason Kottke always links to interesting stuff (definitely recommend subscribing to his rss feed) - eco friendly web pallette. Someone calculated the power saving potential of a 'black' Google which has been moderated somewhat by this post. Still if you have a high volume page it does sound like an interesting idea.

If you're a fan of the brilliant anime/manga Akira you can check out the soundtrack. My favourite is probably the opening track - Kaneda - which features some brilliant tribal drumming.

Things to do with a Single Sheet of Paper. If you enjoy collections of humour goto the site root - quite an accumulation of stuff.

Brilliant but crazy - print your own film. Digitise some film (of the analog variety), split it into its constituent frames and then print onto acetate strips to play back.

[/links] | [permalink] | [2007.04.24-01:26.00]

Apr 17, 2007

Login Back Door + More

Wow - the hoops Unix co-creater went through to insert a back-door into 'login' - Ken Thompson and the Self-referencing C Compiler.

I hope this succeeds - Crushpad. Sounds like a new user interface device but its actually a way to get intimately involved in the wine production process. Wonder if someone will do the same for batch-brew beers ?

Brilliant - Good vs. Evil Foosball. Surprising someone didn't do a Subbuteo version.

Nice Linux home-server appliance - Bubba – The Mini Server. Nice form-factor. Apparently not much bigger than a 3.5" disk.

Some useful tools to recover your PC - PC Repair System - 32Mb USB.

Looks interesting - Shape your traffic with trickle. Our Telco has a Packeteer device we have read-only access to and it looks like packet-shaping will let you do some pretty nifty things.

The audio-only games sound fascinating - Five Japanese Gameboy Advance games worth importing.

Maybe its time to rethink the RAID concept - The Problem with RAID. A good counter-argument in the comments too.

What is it with America and Guns ? Love the guy who got cancer so logically needed a gun (or three) for protection.

Like many broadcasters TVNZ is starting to put some of its classic clips online - TVNZ Ondemand. 'Eating Media Lunch' is wonderfully offensive.

[/links] | [permalink] | [2007.04.17-19:15.00]

YouTube Music Video - Einstürzende Neubauten (Live)

One of the first 'industrial' bands, Einstürzende Neubauten are a German band formed in 1980. As well as traditional instruments they create their own using sheet-metal, power-tools, pipes and tubes. The video is for one of their early songs - Haus der Lüge from their recent DVD Palast Der Republik.

They actually sound like a carny band gone awry (FYI - the singer Blixa Bargeld was a long-standing foil to Nick Cave in the Bad Seeds).

[/music] | [permalink] | [2007.04.17-18:43.00]

A couple of amusing clips . . .

Kiwi film - Eagle vs Shark. Looks good. Possibly a little to close to Napoleon Dynamite though.

Pretty good Steve Jobs & Bill Gates Piss-take by Enfield & Whitehouse.

[/humour] | [permalink] | [2007.04.17-18:27.00]

Apr 11, 2007

Solar Power + More

Heh - Web 2.0 & Death of the Network Engineer. As someone involved in provisioning both Prod & DR data-centers this type of thing rings all to true - its very easy to say you'll stick your environment somewhere else (so someone else can feed & water your kit) but planning the interconnects is definitely non-trivial!

My old Uni actually comes up with something useful - Solar Power Breakthrough: Solar Dyes Could Be Put In Windows, Clothing. Not bad for a place with a reputation for turning out Ag students & Vets.

Impressive - How to Write a Spelling Corrector - in 20 lines of Python no less!

Interesting - Richard Dawkins on why Jurys don't work. Having sat on a Jury before I think I can vouch for what he says.

Interesting (again) - Classical violinist busks in Washington. I have to admit I wouldn't have given the guy a second look regardless of his musical prowess. Even before the iPod or Walkman I just tend to zone-out when walking anywhere.

NZ gets two entries in the top 20 - Top 100 Liveable Cities. Can't speak for some of the european cities but I'd rate Melbourne higher than Sydney and Wellington higher than Auckland (Auck & Syd are to big and sterile IMHO). Also interesting that in the top 20 the North American cities are all in Canada.

Fantastic - 3D Images (hand) painted on layers of glass.

More art - Photos of crumpled books. Believe me its more interesting than it sounds.

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) OLPC Live ISO CD. Take it for a spin and check out the interface gallery

Grammar - Top 10 Grammatical Mistakes (that make you look stupid). In a world where TXT is acceptable in English exams who cares ?

Nifty - Mozilla Coop. Browser add-in lets you share/collaborate with friends on the interweb. Looks promising.

About time this got easier to do - Tivoli Directory Integrator demo: Active Directory and Domino synchronization on YouTube. It was pretty rudimentary back in the Domino 6/6.5 days. Nice to see them bundle a basic Directory Integrator tool and leverage their wider product line.

Wow - 3 & 9mm thick OLED screens in the works from Sony. Makes me glad to have resisted the temptation to get a TFT or Plasma TV (not that I could afford either).

[/links] | [permalink] | [2007.04.11-18:39.00]

Apr 04, 2007

Switch UPS

Wellingtons had some up's and down's with respect to power in the central city over the last few months - just before Christmas half the Terrace was knocked offline for 4 hours and a few weeks ago we had rolling power spikes for an afternoon.

For a major outage theres not a whole lot you can do other than having a really good UPS on your core servers (or hosting in a data-center) - the spikes generally aren't a problem for your server room as the UPS will condition the power.

Most PC's actually handle spikes quite well too - the kicker is that your distributed switches will either reboot or pass on any spike to your Power over Ethernet equipment - which means as well as the lights dimming your VoIP phones cut-out and reboot (ditto your Wireless Access Points if they also use PoE).

Now you start to think about some UPS's to cover your distributed switching gear (if you have the luxury of structured cabling all the way back to your server room then you're really lucky!).

From an expert (not me!) -

"A general rule of thumb is that no UPS should be loaded more than 70% to 80% of full capacity to minimise the risk of compromising the protection due to unplanned or temporary overloads. In my calculations I have divided the total load by 0.8 to give a 20% headroom. It is then necessary to establish the VA rating of the UPS. Our UPS's suited to this application have a 0.7 output power factor, so the total watts requirement is then divided by 0.7."

So if you have four 24 port Catalyst 3550 switches and a PowerDsine PoE Injector -

Cisco Catalyst 3550-24-PWR: 525W x 4 = 2100W

PowerDsine POE Injector: 525W x 1 = 525W

Total Load: 2625W

Total UPS Watts Requirement with Headroom Allowance (/ 0.8): 3281

Minimum VA rating of UPS (/0.7): 4687

Which equates to a sizeable UPS. A 6kVA unit will last about 15min under full load but its primarily there for power conditioning and to buy a little time to cut phones over to another location in case of power-cut.

On the subject of Power Conditioning versus a UPS - again more expert opinion -

"Power conditioners were commonly used for protecting against brownouts - they would hold the voltage up for a few cycles. However off-line or line-interactive UPS's have now become lower priced than power conditioners and do the job adequately in virtually all cases. An on-line UPS regenerates the AC power so it is always perfect and constant irrespective of the incoming power."

"Most UPS's have spike protection too. However this is minimal and may become exhausted with one or two spikes, and there is no indication of this. If spikes are a special concern then dedicated surge diverters with a good practical surge capacity and low surge let-through voltage plus status indication."

So watch your switches :-)

[/tech/power] | [permalink] | [2007.04.04-00:38.00]

Apr 03, 2007

MacMini's - The OS X Blade Server + More

My ShuttleXPC is getting on in years - I'm sorely tempted to get a Mac Mini - Intel MacMinis - The OS X Blade Server.

Spooky - Map of how and where evolution is tought in the US. StangeMaps is awesome.

I should have guessed someone would have already coined a term for these carbuncles - McMansion. They seem to be cropping up all over the coast in NZ spoiling the scenery.

Dave is one of NetApps head-honchos - a couple of interesting posts relating to Power in the Datacenter and Rules of Management. The management rules in particular were pretty concise -

  1. Who owns the problem?
  2. Do I trust them?
  3. How do I find an owner I trust?

Useful tools - LifeHackers Top 10 Free Windows Tools.

I'm always on the search for free system-wide autocomplete tool - recently I've come across LetMeType and Texter. Texter seemed a little sluggish so I'm giving LetMeType a go. LetMeType actually learns as you go which is nifty (but you may want to put in exclusions for commonly typed passwords!).

[/links] | [permalink] | [2007.04.03-19:02.00]

Blosxom to Pivot

I did my bit for Pivot by helping to get text importing to Pivot - this means people with lots of text files or people (like me) who have a Blosxom based website can suck the content into a slightly fancier blogging engine.

Base-hosting plans often don't include database access so simple web tools like Pivot & Blosxom are a godsend.

I suspect I'll be importing and moving my website to Pivot shortly although Blosxom is so simple I'm not sure if I want to learn a whole new 'engine' and templating system . . .

[/tech/perl/blosxom] | [permalink] | [2007.04.03-00:36.00]