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Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

Space

Journal: 3d galactic map with time calculations? 8

Journal by JWSmythe

Ok, here's an odd request. Maybe someone out there has an answer for me.

I know we've been making huge advances in mapping distant celestial bodies, their speed either across our field of view or relative direction (to or from us) with red/blue shift, etc. I was curious to if there has been any publicly available project which creates a 3 dimensional representation of that data, and allows for adjustment of time.

The way I understand it, in theory with enough data, the known universe could be collapsed (virtually) to the time of the big bang.

I've had an idea for a (fictional) story, which I'd like to be able to back up with at least something resembling factual information. For example, the Earth takes roughly 250 million years to make an orbit all the way around our galaxy (one "Galactic year"). If you were looking at Galaxy X and Galaxy Y, and for particular intervals. Imagine a line drawn from a fixed point in each Galaxy. Would it be possible to determine if the Earth (or at least a close part of our galaxy) would intersect that line, or look back to when that did happen? ... and save the supercomputer comments for some other time. :)

User Journal

Journal: Slashdot comment thread life expectancy 15

Journal by JWSmythe

I've noticed a trend lately (like in the last couple years). Comment thread lifespans are becoming shorter and shorter. I'm usually good about going back to my messages, and keeping up conversations in the thread. It seems not everyone else is.

    If anyone who programs here reads this, do your own research against the database, and see what mean life expectancy of comment threads is. I almost guarantee if you run it against all stories from the beginning, you'll see it's tapering off.
    What I have observed with my comments, even the occasional first post, is that the thread will die off at about 2 to 3 days, regardless of how interesting the conversation is getting. It seems people just aren't interested in going to older stories, which isn't surprising since it's a pain to get to older stories. Look for a story from two weeks ago. Type in some keywords in the search? No way.. Pointy-clicky through the More buttons, good luck there.

    Still, it's easy enough for people to keep up with running conversations. Well, I assume so. When we were forced into the new theme, I had to be sure my messages box was at the top left. Maybe I'm one of the few who actually set up for that, or most people are set for no notifications. Either way, it's becoming disappointing where conversations don't run their course. I don't think it's me... I have week and month long conversation threads going with friends and colleagues, even if every 3rd message (for colleagues at least) is "you are dumb, now send what we asked for". :) No offense to any colleagues or ex-colleagues who may read this. I'll assure you to your face that I'm not talking about you, but sure as hell when you aren't looking, I'm going to point at you and say "it was him".

So back to the topic... I wish more of you would keep up your ends of the conversation. It's hard talking about interesting subjects, and when I've written a well thought out reply, it's just exceeded the MTTL (mean time to live) for a thread, and it's abandon. Well, except for the random troll who goes back through old threads and writes TL;DR, but he barely counts as anything. :)

    Maybe Slashdot can gear up something more conducive to actual conversations, rather than a few hundred drive-by comments that are dead end conversations. I really miss the intellectual (or quasi-intellectual, sometimes) conversations, now replaced by a short thread lifespan and high churn of stories.

User Journal

Journal: Things I learned today. Browser URL length limitations 2

Journal by JWSmythe

For a long time, I've followed what I've read regarding URL lengths. 255 characters is it. Never let it get longer than that.

    By the RFC's, 255 characters is the guideline, to maintain backward compatibility with old browsers, old proxy servers, and other miscellaneous hardware that may be in the way.

    I went looking for more information, but found conflicting or outdated information. Who cares what the limits on Netscape 4 or MSIE 5 were.

    In my own personal MythBusters kind of way, I wanted to see what the limitations really are.

    What fun would it be without coding something up to handle it. :) I would share the code, but it seems Slashdot doesn't like that much. Basically, it would generate a URL, something like http://example.com/test.php?pad=11111 , and use a javascript redirect to send it back to itself. On receiving it, it would read the number of characters of the full URL, then add an increment to the pad. It printed the length of the request, and the full URL in the browser, so I could see where it was at. I introduced a 1 second pause so I could read the output.

    Initially my increment was 1, but that takes an awful long time, even with keepalives cranked up. I worked my way up to 500 per exchange, so the test would move along quickly. Watching the server stats, the keepalives were doing their job perfectly. The same connections were reused until their life expectancy ran out.

    I couldn't just give a redirect header. Browsers tend to not like that. My initial test with Firefox showed the problem. The default for network.http.redirection-limit is 20. Even turning that up to 999999 would stop pretty quickly (at about 500, if I remember right)

    My test client machine is a Windows 7 Ultimate machine with a Phenom II x4 955 and 8GB RAM. My test browsers are MSIE 8.0, Chrome 9.0, Firefox 3.6.13, and Safari 5.0.3. During the tests, I did not run into problems with CPU or memory utilization.

    My test server is a Slackware Linux 13.1.0 machine with two dual core Xeon 2.8Ghz CPUs and 4GB RAM. It is using Apache 2.2.17 and PHP 5.3.5. Other than custom configuration options, it's a fairly plain version of Apache and PHP. No patches. The OS is pretty clean. All non-essential ports and tasks are disabled. During the test, I did not run into any CPU or memory utilization problems.

    On the first run I observed:


        MSIE 8.0 4095
        Chrome 9.0 8190
        Firefox 3.6.13 8190
        Opera 11.01 8190
        Safari 5.0.3 8190

    I looked around a little. Apache lets you lower the length of the URL in the config file, but not increase it. The default is 8190, exactly as tested. Time to go patch Apache!

In httpd.h
/** default limit on bytes in Request-Line (Method+URI+HTTP-version) */
#ifndef DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_LINE
#define DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_LINE 16777216
#endif /** default limit on bytes in any one header field */
#ifndef DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDSIZE
#define DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDSIZE 16777216
#endif /** default limit on number of request header fields */
#ifndef DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDS
#define DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDS 16777216
#endif

    8190 was obviously set by people with no ambition. 16.7 million? That's a real URL! :) And before anyone says it, no, I wouldn't normally make the URL longer than I'm willing to type. Just like the MythBuster folks wouldn't normally put a dead pig in a car to see if it stinks. It's all in the name of science I tell you! :)

    So limits upped to 2^24, recompile complete, and we're ready to test again. While watching the compile, I had to ask myself, "does PHP have a limit too?". I guess not. Here's the results.


        MSIE 8.0 4095
        Chrome 9.0 122560
        Firefox 3.6.13 111060
        Opera 11.01 132560
        Safari 5.0.3 131060

Notes:
    1) I aborted the tests after I got bored.

    2) Chrome stopped displaying the full URL at about 32,000 characters. It truncated it at the ?, but did process correctly. If you have a 32,000 character URL, expect people to not be able to copy it from Chrome very easily. :)

    3) I started all the tests very close to the same time, and aborted them all very close to the same time. I don't normally use anything but Firefox, so I have several utility toolbars (webmastering, packet examination, and SEO analysis) that are installed. The others are clean.

    4) You can't use this as a benchmark saying any browser is faster than another, because I was limited by upload bandwidth at home.

    During the test, I was watching my uplink bandwidth graph. I'm on a residential line. It was clear where the upload bandwidth is cut off at (about 700Kbps). Due to the nature of this test, Every request was sent to the server, and returned to the browser, so like it or not I needed to use the same bandwidth each way. If I have a moment of sheer boredom at work or a datacenter sometime, I may repeat this test on a LAN. It's doubtful though.

    So in conclusion....

    1) All the modern browsers tested, except MSIE are effectively unlimited to the size of the URL they can handle.

    2) MSIE is still limited to a URL length of 4095 characters. I don't see a workaround for this.

    3) Apache is limited by default to 8190 characters, but this can be corrected with a patch.

    4) Regardless of what these components proved they could do, you can still encounter problems with firewalls, content filters, proxy servers, etc. Don't expect to be able to use over 255 characters.

User Journal

Journal: 2012 Presidential Bid 5

Journal by JWSmythe

I thought this was worthy for cross posting to my journal.

    For the 2012 election, the answer is easy.

        Write in JWSmythe!

        I promise restoration of the rights of all people, as protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

        I promise transparency in our government, and open public audit of all government projects.

        I promise revocation of the Income Tax (25% of your income for most citizens), to be replaced by a 2% sales tax. This effectively gives a 23% raise to all working citizens.

        I promise increase in tariffs on foreign goods to be no less than 2% of the retail value, to encourage growth in the industrial sectors of America.

        I promise immediate closure of all tax "loop holes" to ensure all "big money" corporations pay in their fair share.

        I promise yearly "dividend" payments to the citizens of the United States on any excess tax paid by the citizens and profit from foreign tariffs.

        I promise health care in the form of open access doctors and hospitals to be no less than 25% of the total medical service field (at least 25% of doctors will be free for the citizens). You may still purchase insurance, and doctors may still provide special expert service, but for those who can't afford it, free services are available, and more positions will be available for both new and skilled doctors.

        I promise open borders, reducing the lengthy and confusing immigration/emigration procedures. Diverse and contridactory policies exist now, including Canadians who are welcome across the friendly open borders, but Mexicans who are frequently detained, arrested, or left to die in military style borders and checkpoints. This will reduce operational costs for enforcement agencies by billions yearly.

        I promise retiring the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, returning their duties to the appropriate intelligence agencies. This removes over $55 billion in yearly government expenses that are simply not necessary.

        And oddly enough, I'm dead serious. I'm not a billionaire, so I cannot afford the campaign. The estimated cost for the 2008 Presidential election was $1.6 billion per candidate. Neither established party back me. I would hurt their corporate interests.

        And yes, I am an American born citizen. I have traveled to the majority of US states, and both bordering nations. I don't know everything, but I know people who I can trust who are experts in their fields. No individual can run the country properly, but a good team will return the United States to it's prior reputation of the nation all others want to emulate, rather than the most powerful and embarrassing nation in the world.

User Journal

Journal: How not to transfer an OS 6

Journal by JWSmythe

I got a fun pre-xmas present, a new Phenom II X4 955. It's a 3.4Ghz CPU that runs very happily at 4Ghz. The previous occupant in that socket was an Athlon II X4 2.8Ghz, that ran happily for a year at 3Ghz.

    I spent an hour fiddling with overclock settings, and settled at 4.2Ghz (more or less). While sitting with just the browser open, Asus Probe (temp, fan, and voltage monitor) started screaming that the core voltage was above threshold. At about 6pm, there was a thunk, and everything went dark. I'm not sure if it was the power supply or motherboard died. I had ongoing problems with the motherboard since I got it, where bios settings would mysteriously change themselves after weeks of working normally. The power supply wasn't anything spectacular, but it seemed to work. I headed down to CompUSA, and picked up a new power supply, motherboard, and I decided that the drives weren't fast enough, so I picked up a pair of 1.5Tb SATA drives to run as a RAID0. Mmm. More speed.. :)

    I got home at about 8pm. I dismantled the whole thing, and had it reassembled in about 10 minutes. Now I have two blank drives in position (ports 1 & 2), the old drive (port 4), and the DVD player (port 6). I poke around in the BIOS a bit, getting everything set right, and setting the drives as a RAID0. I boot up to a trusty Linux CD to start the transfer. Blah, the RAID controller is really a software raid. I see both disks. There are fixes, I'm just not that far yet. I decide to just copy everything to the first SATA drive, and I'll RAID other parts later. My girlfriend would like to watch a movie with me, as I set up all my theater equipment in our new "theater room" (DLP projector, 8' wide screen, 7 speakers all properly placed and tuned +- 1dB). All I have to do is get the transfer started, and go watch the movie.

    dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdc bs=1024k

    Seems simple enough, right? I switch to another console, and kill -USR1 $pid , to see where it's at. 2GB transfered. Great. The partition table should already be written. fdisk -l /dev/sda shows nothing. hmmm. fdisk -l /dev/sdc shows nothing.

    Aw fuck.

    It dawns on me, I'm not cloning the old drive to the new ones, I'm cloning the empty drive over my data! ABORT ABORT ABORT!

    Well, the partition table is gone, and presumably the beginning of the drive is overwritten, so none of that will be recovered. I think I have enough crap on there to fluff it a bit. My first and second partitions were Linux, which is easily replaced. The third and fourth partition hold Windows 7 and all my current work. The fifth partition holds all my virtual machines, which are my testbed for all kinds of fun things. Employment essential aren't a big deal, they're replicated at work, and on backups there. It's things like the 5,000 pictures that I took over the years, that I reacquired from various sources, which are now almost organized to store and back up, but I haven't finished. And a few videos including a 1hr 15min video of a live band that I'm including 400 stills into to make a good video of their performance.

    With tools on the TRK, I've been able to see the partitions to recover, but since I'm not totally familiar with the particular tool, it's been a slow process. Reading across a 1Tb drive, it takes hours. Even still, I'm not totally sure I could convince Windows to clone to the array, rather than using just one drive.

    So now, I'm starting off with a fresh Windows install. The Windows installer sees the array. I'm using 1Tb for Windows (2 1.5Tb drives RAID0 = 3Tb). Once I have a working machine again, and can play WOW with my girlfriend (she likes playing it), I'll be happier, and then can repair the messed up drive overnight on a few nights.

    The only real problems I had on the old machine were that it couldn't play Stargate: Revolution (crashes after a few minutes), and I wasn't totally satisfied with the drive speed. According to the "Windows Experience Index", my scores were:

Component
Processor 7.3
Memory (RAM) 7.3
Graphics 6.6
Gaming graphics 6.6
Primary hard disk 5.9

(current "max" score is 7.9)

    When I've looked at machines in the stores, this is way above any retail box. I just wanted to get the drive speed in line with the other parts. Dammit. So it'll take a few days to get it up and working properly. Until then, I'll be limping along on the laptop. :) No video editing on the laptop though, it just isn't fast enough, even though it's only a few months old.


Processor 3.2
Memory 4.9
Graphics 3.0
Gaming graphics 4.5
Primary hard disk 5.4

User Journal

Journal: Welcome to 2010

Journal by DG

Out goes the RAZR2 V9

In comes the BlackBerry 9700.

Amazing bit of hardware. Finally lives up to the promise my Palm Lifedrive offered but never quite delivered on.

DG

User Journal

Journal: Wasted humor

Journal by JWSmythe

I hate it when I put work into humor and no one notices, so maybe some folks will notice it here. :)

    There was a story a few days ago titled Giant Planet Nine Times the Mass of Jupiter Found

    Thread, segue, tangent, and a reference to Space Panda's, I doctored up
    this photo.

    Who can't love a cute cuddly planet eating space panda?

    Too bad we can't embed images into the comments, it would have been funnier faster.

    So, enjoy. :)

User Journal

Journal: PayPal Donations... I'll be damned 1

Journal by DG

So a while ago, I wrote a little web based e-book called Autocross To Win (inspired by Carrol Smith's "To Win" series.

You can see it at http://farnorthracing.com/autocross_secrets.html

I wrote it primarily because I wasted a shit-ton of money chasing my own tail and following "conventional wisdom" when it came to race car setup, and discovered a number of things that conventional wisdom got wrong.

It became more important to me just before I left for Afghanistan. I didn't want this information left locked inside my head where it would be lost if I got knocked on the head while in theatre. It seems silly I know, but I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't go for naught if I got killed.

Now I'm back - and I'm unemployed. I've been trying to go back to Afghanistan but there's no open slots and I'm having a lot of trouble prising one open. And it struck me that there's a lot of good info in ATW - enough that it probably makes a good book.

But I also do not regret the impulse that put it online for free. To pull it down so I could charge money for it... that seems dishonest. Information really does want to be free, even the information I wrote myself.

I put some ads on the site, but I'm not a high-exposure site. I'm deep, not broad, and I'm very highly specialized. The ads cover the bandwidth bill and little else.

So yesterday I figured I'd try a tactic that I've seen web cartoonists use - the PayPal "donate" button. I added one to the ATW base template. Small. Unobtrusive. No fanfare or hard sell. No promotion of this on any of the forums I use to announce site updates. Just added it quietly.

And 24 hours later, I have my first donation. Wow, I didn't think that would work.

I'm going to do up a little "thank you" certificate and email those out to donors.

Maybe this is how all content providers will get paid from now on...

DG

User Journal

Journal: MASSIVE farnorthracing.com website update - but IE6?

Journal by DG

So I finally took the time to convert http://farnorthracing.com to CSS instead of tables, and wrote a little perl front-end to allow me to separate content from presentation. Huzzah!

It has been a metric assload of work (with a little bit left) but the results are soooooo worth it.

Just one fly in the ointment - IE6. My nifty-keen layout works great in Firefox and IE8, but fails in IE6 - see http://farnorthracing.com/autocross_secrets2.html for an example.

Any CSS guru-types know why?

DG

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