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software development and life.


Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Exploding processor

Yesterday, my server again losts its internet connection. It seems that dhcp is causing the trouble, but I can’t put my finger on the exact cause. However, I read on the website of our provider about the possibility to get a fixed ip-address, so I sent an e-mail asking if that is also possible for our connection. I hope this will fix the problem and has probably as added bonus that port 25 for outgoing traffic is not blocked, so I’m able to run a ‘normal’ smtp server.

I also wrote an article for about the release of version 1.0 of Ruby on Rails. This project exists for only 15 months now according to the project website, but is very popular with webdevelopers. Mainly, because of its strive to ‘not repeat yourself’ and the adaption of ‘webdeveloper trends’ such as AJAX. According to some people it is a decent replacement for J2EE with Hibernate, but I think currently it is mainly a competitor for PHP and maybe Python. According to what I read about RoR it force the developer to create a good strucure for a webapplications which very likely will make RoR applications better maintainable than their PHP counterparts. Maybe now it is a good time to step on the RoR wagon?

While wikipedia is critized a lot recently, a comparisation of the online encyclopedia with Britannica reveiled that the quality of articles about science topics are about the same within the two encyclopedia’s. Both contained errors, which is not suprising for Wikipedia, but actually is surprising for Britannica. Most people regard ‘printed’ encyclopedia’s as the golden standard when talking about accuracy. Wikipedia had four major errors in 42 articles, while Britannica had three errors. However, the text quality is sometimes very poor on Wikipedia.

Finally, via Planet Gnome I saw this video. I think there processor isn’t usable anymore (however, a clockspeed of more than 3,8GHz on a AMD Duron processor _is_ impressive).

On photography now: Last Tuesday I bought a Canon Speedlite 430EX flash and yesterday I used it. My girlfriend had the final presentation of a project about floors with light tiles. Because this project is rather ‘hot’ on the university (yesterday there was even an article about it in the Dutch national paper ‘De Telegraaf’ and someone is making a documentary about it), I was going to be the ‘photographer’. Some pictures are not very good, the shoot is not bad.


Lichtvloer 2


DNS error

Today, my server instantly seems to be unreachable. It turned out, however, that some mistake in my named.conf file of Bind (DNS-server) made the domain unreachable. I accidently didn’t specify a zone-file in my named.conf. This error must exists for atleast two weeks, but maybe more. The domain, however, was still reachable until today. Weird.
It is now fixed. I also discovered some other errors in my server setup. The server cannot be ping’ed and when my internet connection goes down, I’m also not able to ssh from my local network to my server.. especially this last one need some fixing.

Top-ten weirdest USB-drives has a top-ten of weirdest USB-drives ever. There are some very funny USB-drives in the list, for example a shrimps-drive a ‘thumb’-drive and a dimsum-drive.

Inkjet printer with Laser printer performance

CoolTechZone has a review of the Hewlett-Packerd Business Inkjet 1000 printer. According to HP this printer prints normal monochrome pages for only 0,02 cents per page. This is in the price range of Laserprinters and thus very interesting in my opinion. The reviewer of CoolTechZone wants to check HP claims and did so using the supplied cartridge. The final verdict is that the printer almost is as good as a (cheap) laser printer with a price per page of about 0,038 cents (which is a little higher than HP claims). On one 34 dollar cartridge it is possible to print over 1000 pages. The printing speed is impressive with 3 seconds per page (black/white) and 100 seconds for a photo. The purchase price of the printer is also reasonable with approximately 150 dollar. I think this is a good development. My OfficeJet 6110 All-in-one is a little slower but the price per page is in the same range I guess.

Sun is following a new course

It was already obvious that Sun Microsystems was changing. Recently, the company started to make several software products open source and still keeps saying that the ultimate goal of the company is to make all software it develops open source. Change is necessary for the company, because financially the company is still not doing very well.
Yesterday, Sun announced a new product which indicates that Sun is changing and taking risks in order to become succesful. The company introduced the new UltraSPARC T1 ‘Niagra’ processor and two new servers which incorporate this new UltraSPARC-product. Additionally, Sun is pretending that apart from software, it also is making its hardware open source. According to the site, all the hardware design files are given away to the open source community. Currently, there is not yet anything available, but according to the FAQ the Verilog design, ISA and a verifcation suite should be available by march 2006. Sun has not yet decided about the license under which everything will be given away, but also according to the FAQ it will be an OSI approved one. However, it will be questionable what the value of this action will be. Designing a processor is not something which everyone can do in a short period of time, and therefore there will be a limited numbe of possible contributers. According to the FAQ of the OpenSPARC project, there is already interest from universities, small embedded system companies and network specialists. I think that there are not many more groups of people which are interested in open source processor hardware. Still, I think it is a good initiative of Sun which underlines the new strategy the company is following.

Sun UltraSPARC T1 processorOn the hardware site, the Niagra processor is a rather innovative design. Unlike current available processors, the UltraSPARC T1 consists of at most eight cores which are able to process four threads simultaniously each. In total the processor is capable of processing 32 threads simultaniously. The processor is (obviously) entirely 64-bits and has 3MB of cache on board which should be shared by all eight cores. Also, the energy consumption is very low with a default energy consumption of 72 Watt which can raise to at most 79 Watt. Unfortunately, to enable the low energy consumption, Sun has to simplify some parts of the processor. For example, the cores are based on the UltraSPARC II design (which is a little bit dated) and there is only one FPU which has to be shared by the eight cores. Apart from that, I think Sun deserves some compliments for taking the risk of designing a processor which breaks with the tradition.

Of course there are downsides of the approach Sun has taken. The design is optimized for multi-thread applications, which are not very common, because most current processors are optimized for at most two or four threads simultiously. However, for some server applications, the ability to process a large number of threads simultaniously has big advantages. Think of webservers (Apache uses a thread for every incoming connection) or database servers. The floating point performance will be poor, because there is only one FPU. The opponents of Sun are trying very hard to let the customer believe that Sun is taking the wrong direction (however, the don’t state it in such harsh words, because it is not very likely that it actually is the wrong direction) and are trying to take customers from Sun to their server platforms. HP has even put up a entire webpage to point out that Sun has created a innovative design of which the success is unknown.

Sun Fire T2000 server

Google-API should prepare itself

Starting from today I’m going to do my first programming-task for my final project in order to graduate. I’m going to play with Google Webservices. A project which already exists and implements an ontology-based learning environment has to be made ‘internet-aware’. The main goal of this project is to experiment with search-engines in combination with an ontology (implemented in OWL). It is not yet certain that I’m going to use Google API, because there are also alternatives in the form of Yahoo API’s.
But first I have to become familiar with the existing code of the project.

Today I also saw a project where someone developed a tricycle with square wheels. Unfortunately, the road has to be adapted fot this tricycle, but otherwise it would be a very cool gadget I think 🙂

Tech Force against Big Iron

Today I came across a nice couple of movies on the Dell website. The movies are not very ‘objective’, so to say, but I think the idea is original.
Via The Inquirer

Firefox 1.5

Today Firefox 1.5 has been officially released. This is a major release for the Firefox project, because along with the new version of the browser, a new website is launched ( which claims to be more userfriendly for less customers with less technical understanding than most of the current Firefox users.
The most important new features of Firefox 1.5 include default support for SVG-images (which is very nice I think, and very important for the adoption of SVG as a general webstandard), improved support for CSS2 and CSS3 and of course the regular bug and security fixes. For Apple users, it is very intersting to know that support for the Mac OS X operating system has been improved.
I have just installed the latest version of Firefox on my Mac mini, and I must say that the improvemts are obvious. First, the rendering speed of websites seems to be dramatically improved. Additionally, there was a problem when filling out webforms. Previous versions of Firefox tend to become very slow when you were typing large texts (such as weblog postings), this seems to be solved. Finally the middle-mouse button now works again when you want to open a website in a new tab.
For Mac users, Firefox 1.5 is definately a big improvement!
I don’t have tried the browser on other platforms yet, because I don’t like to install it on Ubuntu without an official package for it. Because I hardly use Windows, the change that I will try the Windows version of Firefox 1.5 within a few days seems very unlikely.

Firefox 1.5 on Mac OS X

Winter sale

Today I’ve decided to sell some useless stuff I own. Because we don’t have a very large house, our storage space is limited.
The following items are for sale:

My Canon Powershot Pro1 camera. This camera has 8Mpixels, 7 times optical zoom (28-200mm) and high-resolution LCD. You’ll get an 512MB Lexar 40x CF-card along with it and a LowePro camerabag. Only 500 euro!

My only x86 desktop system . AMD Atlhon 1,33GHz (Thunderbird core), 512MB PC133 SDRAM, MSI K7T TurboII (VIA KT133 chipset) mainboard, 80GB Maxtor 7200rpm harddisk, DVD-ROM drive, CD-RW-drive, Club3D GeForce 4 Ti4200 graphics card, Inwin Q500 full-tower case.
Only 300 euro!

I also have an Microsoft Natural Pro keyboard for sale and a Zipdrive including 3 zipdisc (the case of these disks are heavily damaged, but the discs are fully working and undamaged).

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