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Comment: Selling my SheevaPlugs (Score 3, Informative) 316

by Andrew Ford (#33281328) Attached to: Linux Wall Warts Small On Size, Big On Possibilities
I have had 4 SheevaPlugs. Two died on me, one was replaced and the other I had to buy a replacement PSU. They are touted as plugging into a wall socket, but if you do that they are pretty precarious, and if you plug them in via a power cable, then they don't stack nicely. I prefer the PC Engines Alix boards ( - based on the AMD Georde with 255MB of memory they seem to be as fast as a SheevaPlug (I read somewhere that the Kirkwood processor only has a 16-bit data bus whereas the Geode has a 32-bit data bus). The Alix systems have a nice Aluminium case and run cool and sweetly - a German company, sells cases that will take a 2.5" hard disk, which draws an extra 2 Watts above the 8-10 Watts that the base system uses. I have 3 Alix systems: one as my firewall, one running my Asterisk PBX and the other running Exim, Dovecot, NFS, Samba, etc. The three systems together draw less than 30 Watts, replacing a pair of 150 Watt tower systems that ran 24x7 saving enough on my electricity bill to pay for themselves in just over a year.

Comment: Benefits of organic growing, or lower risks (Score 2, Interesting) 921

by Andrew Ford (#28879069) Attached to: UK's FSA Finds No Health Benefits To Organic Food
I have been buying organic food for 30 years or so and it is not because I believe it has higher levels of nutrients, but largely because of the lower levels of pesticide nutrients. For example: a couple of years ago the fields next to our kitchen garden were used for growing potatoes for a major UK supermarket. They were sprayed 2 or 3 times a week with fungicides for about 10 weeks, before being sprayed with sulphuric acid to burn off the tops before harvesting. Of course the sprays drift in the wind, which is worrying for people living just metres from the fields. Of course in the future organic farming (or at least farming with lower levels of chemical inputs) is likely to become more common, as peak oil drives up oil and natural gas prices, pushing up the price of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

Comment: DocBook and Emacs for Apache 2 Pocket Reference (Score 1) 325

by Andrew Ford (#26198449) Attached to: Tools & Surprises For a Tech Book Author?
Back in 2000, I wrote the Apache Pocket Reference and mod_perl Pocket Reference in DocBook SGML using emacs, with a perl script to convert to LaTeX for me to be able to preview what I had written. This year I updated the former book as the Apache 2 Pocket Reference. This time it is written in DocBook XML - again using emacs. Each of the 400-odd directives is held in a separate XML file and I have scripts that parse those files and the directive definitions in the Apache source code and report on inconsistencies. I also published two vegetarian cookery books written by my wife. These were written in LaTeX - with each recipe being held in a separate file. Writing a book is akin to a complex project. Keeping each section of the book separate and maintained in a version control system means that you can see which parts of the book are changing and do quick word searches just by using grep. Emacs also has various tags functions that allow searching and replacing across tagged files, so even managing a book split into almost 500 source files is quite easy.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein