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Hardware Hacking

Journal Journal: Terminal Server References? Anyone? 3

As I am looking to build or buy a new home, I started planning a home computing system for the house from scratch. What I have in my head is some beefy server and cheap workstations (graphical diskless thin-clients) throughout the house. I have read some up on the Linux Terminal Server Project and envisioned an amazing system possibly involving intercom (VoIP), home chat, controlled web access (I have kids), Myth TV, word processing, presentation and central fax & print. The software seems to be there for the right price. The hardware is another story. I have not been able to put together this architecture cheaper than just buying and networking full fledged systems for each room. Isn't there supposed to be a cost savings with this architecture? Am I after a 2001 dream that everyone else knows has already failed? I am tired of spyware and viruses and updating multiple systems with various patches. Is it going to cost more for less?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Informative Desktop Wallpaper

Why does it seem like there is a short supply of informative desktop wallpaper? Yes, a pretty picture is nice but what about a more subdued artsy design like many found on KDE-Look but with informative text and diagrams that are relevant to your job. I can think of a few examples:
  • phonetic alphabets
  • guitar chords
  • harmonica layouts
  • measuring conversions
  • parts of an engine
  • binary chart
  • network topologies

I think these would really be popular.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Anti-Wiki

I am trying to setup an internal general-use Wiki for my entire company. We currently have twenty five (25) wikis on our MoinMoin Wiki server but they are all department aligned. I am getting some resistance to using a generic company wide name along with some quetions about our purpose. In the process, the "Wiki Administrator" actually comes back with this rebuttal:

As to the larger issue, a single generically named wiki is not what people want. Also, it's not practical. Who owns the home page? Where do I find things? Who controls the placement of information? Who sets the naming standard? Who cleans out stale information? The usability of such deteriorates rapidly. Information simply gets lost. This isn't Wikipedia. By the way, the desire for multiple Wikis exists well below the department level. We have received several requests from several departments for multiple wikis, each targeted at a small subset of their activity. I call em Boutique Wikis :-)

I couldn't help but rebute every singe line:

single generically named wiki is not what people want

Uhmmm...I thought WE were people and have been asking about it. If I am just a person then if there were some other individuals then we would be a group of people that could be called just 'people' for short. Oh, and we ARE asking for a generically named wiki.

Also, it's not practical.

I looked it up on http://en.wikipedia.org/ and got the feeling it is practical.

Who owns the home page?


Where do I find things?

All Wiki's come with the built in automatic pages named: RecentChanges, TitleIndex, WordIndex, FindPage, WantedPages, OrphanedPages, AbandonedPages, RandomPage, PageSize, PageHits. Will they not help in finding things?

Who controls the placement of information?

Everyone can help control and maintain it. It is worth a try. Name one other system at our company that has limited bottlenecking control and is perfect. Try something different. This might work.

Who sets the naming standard?

The naming standard is already mostly done with the concept of WikiWords. The remaining work is trivial because page renames and link changes are simple. The system will report on which pages refer to PageOne and FirstPage and tells you where to fix them. I do it now but not because I have special privileges, I just understand Wikis.

Who cleans out stale information?

If anyone can then anyone could. If I could get rid of crappy unused portlets on our intranet portal and create new and better ones that I would but there is no facility to do that. There is no facility to tell me which ones are old and no privileges to let me. AbandonPages and WantedPages are the answer to that. Ironically our non-Wiki like current content management system is the king of stale information

The usability of such deteriorates rapidly.

The original Wiki on Software Patterns was started on May 1, 1995. I went there and I am not really seeing the deterioration.

Information simply gets lost.

Then search for it, find it and put it back where it belongs. Please see the "Where do I find things" response above on how this is possible.

This isn't Wikipedia.

No, you are right, they understand Wikis and how to use and host them. But we use portal software and we are not Yahoo, we use search but we are not google (ok, bad example, we don't really use search that well) but you get my drift.

the desire for multiple Wikis exists well below the department level.

Only because NO ONE is in charge of knowledge management for it to come from the upper levels and based on the horrendous point that follows, the lower levels do not understand wiki's either.

We have received several requests from several departments for multiple wikis, each targeted at a small subset of their activity. I call em Boutique Wikis :-)

It was at this point, I passed out

Am I off base here? Are corporate wiki's a flop or is this really about something else like lack of control?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Write your congressman

The Lessig blog pointed me to this blog software add-on that lets you take your blog entry and make it a letter to your congressman. Excellent Idea. I remember a standalone product from the makers of Act for DOS (A popular PIM at the time) that was called Write Your Congressman. It was basically a light version of Act! but came with the database pre-poplulated with all goverment officials name and address. I guess it didn't sell well.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Fun with 'Install Everything'

I have finally started using my GNU/Linux system again. I briefly used it once prior to now as a file and print server on a large project while at Deloitte Consulting. Since I rolled-off the project it mostly has been sitting in the basement pretending to be an extra network attached hard drive which is probably not much of a glamorous life for even this class of machine.

Recently, I decided to put dotProject on it and update it the OS at the same time. I installed RedHat Fedora Core 4 and for the first time, clicked Install Everything. Install took a while and I didn't know what I was going to get. When It was done, all the prerequisite software for dotProject was there. After an hour of fiddling with Apache and MySQL security, I had dotProject up and running. There are some things like Gantt charts that do not work yet but I will get to those. One thing that didn't work was email. I have been afraid of Sendmail so I neglect to do anything with it. The important thing was that dotProject was working!

I am also looking at putting a Wiki up at work and now that I had a working installation of the magic trio (Apache, PHP and MySQL), Installing Wikka was a piece of cake (after more fiddling with MySQL security again). Once you have LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP/Python/Perl), you have the keys to the world of easy free computing. It is like if you have fuel, oxygen and heat then no matter where you go next, you are going to create fire.

But now, I was on a roll. Since I really was using this Linux box now as a server and less a workstation (X is kinda slow on it) I started to think about the UI of this box. An old Linux Journal article pointed me to webmin. It installed easy and now I was really cooking. With webmin, I was able to use/configure/modify cron jobs, imap, fetchmail, MySQL (no more mucking about with security for me), Samba, Sendmail, Squid and the system time.

I even felt so good about all this that I updated my Linux Counter info and installed the auto-update script. I am sure now that this box useful that it will start to go down on a regular basis.

I will keep the blog updated on my Wiki studies.

User Journal

Journal Journal: PostSecret website found by NPR

An NPR story pointed me to this very interesting blog called PostSecret. People put secrets on post cards and send them in. It is an artistic glimpse into some anonymous person's lives. Very interesting. I hope he keeps it up. The NPR Interview with the author was also excellent and he talks about how he feels about what he started.
Linux Business

Journal Journal: LAMPD still elusive

LAMPD or "Linux as my primary desktop" is still elusive. I have a new T41 and started over in the planning. Outlook 2003 is rather pleasant and I always have a Windows based game that I think I will have the time to play sitting in the CD drive. A USB 2.0 DVD burner and the Sprint G3 connection to my phone makes this combo hard to move from.

I still feel like I can't move until I understand everything about how to do everything in Linux. For example, I seem to stumble over the route command in Linux which is where I am having a problem with my other RH9 based laptop when I am using WiFi card or Sprint G3 connection. It is little setbacks like that slow the move down. I think it is a catch 22. I won't move until I feel comfortable but I can't feel comfortable as LAMPD until after I moved and built my confidence.


Journal Journal: Move my desktop to Linux? 2

I have been contemplating sometime the possibility of making my primary workstation Linux instead of the corporate Windows XP. I have that Freedom (some do not) but want to build a pro/con list to do so. I think it is possible now as some things that were preventing me from moving are now available on Linux. I am going to build a list of "features" that are important to me that I use on Windows and rate that against what it would take to get it to work on Linux. Some things I have already moved over and work rather well (vpn client to coprorate network) and some things work even better (using my cell phone and Sprint G3 service to access the internet). Some I know are going to be a problem (Delorme TopoUSA mapping program) or impossible.

Journal Journal: Got Gnome Meeting Working

I downloaded Gnome Meeting and got it working (I think). As far as this kind of stuff, the speed at which Linux is moving forward is amazing. It might be behind but we are running faster than the rest (well, the other racer). Gnome Meeting, my RedHat is off to you.
User Journal

Journal Journal: If they are good enough for CmdrTaco...

Here is my latest line of thinking on how to use Slashdot. I wanted to begin experimenting with what is the best way to use the Friends/Fans/Foes/Freaks (I like how they all start with 'F', I'm sure that was the idea) stuff with Slashdot. OK, I can't force at gun point people to be my fans...multiple problems with that now that I think about it. So I had to start being a fan. But Who? So I pulled up user number 1 and thought. If CmdrTaco thinks they are valuable to have as a friend then they are good enough for me. So my Friend list mostly matches his. Now, if I am using this incorrectly then I'm sure a few are looking at their Fans list and saying, who the heck is chamilto0516.

At least this journal entry is here to answer their question.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Digging deeper into Slashdot outside

In addition to the moderation and meta-moderation features, I have begun to explore the usefulness (and I see them as useful) of slashdots friends & freaks, journals and message systems. I still haven't put it all together yet but I see something I like and is beneficial every time poke at this big Perl script.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot has fascinated me

In the last month I have meta-moderated about a half dozen times and have even been given 5 moderator points. Until I saw it in action, I never would have understood the brilliance in this collective quality effort/program. You are basically having a group bring the quality of something they depend upon without an army of central authority. I remember my former consulting employeer's knowledge base always had poor quality because a small staff was responsible for the whole things content. They often didn't know how to classify information correctly because they didn't know the subject matter. You have solved that problem (not for them, they don't have slashcode...they do have Lotus Notes but I guess they have bigger fish to fry).

I'm thinking of using such a technique to build an RFI/RFP question bank up and running and force users of the system to moderate and meta-moderate often. Hmmm...can I do this? Did you patent this concept?

Slashdot, my hat is off to you.

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Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser