Friday, March 28, 2008

Cygwin, X, and PuTTY

For Christmas last year, I got a new computer, upon which I immediately installed Ubuntu. Yay, Ubuntu! OK. And customized it to my liking. Also, if you care, I had eschewed the default email system for claws-mail, which I had also installed previously on my Windows Laptop. While not completely as GUI-rific as Thunderbird, I like the "individual message is a file" methodology rather than Thunderbird's "large file contains all messages" which basically failed miserably for me.

Right, so that's the background. The point of all this is that I'm here, late at night, and for whatever reasons known only to me, I wanted to check my mail on my now rarely used laptop (it has a broken hinge) while watching TV. Well, I didn't really want to check mail with the client on my laptop, because I didn't need or want to store the mail on the laptop. Plus, I didn't remember if I left mail on the server, so .. hey, stop asking questions, ok? :)

So, I remembered that I had already installed cygwin and X windows. I clicked on my cygwin icon, typed "startx" and then in the xterm box, "xhost +". Then I opened PuTTY that had a session that Forwarded X connections, connected to my Ubuntu box, logged in, then typed in "claws-mail" and I have the application running on my desktop in Windows. I suppose I could have VNC'd or other type of remote connection. However, the X interface makes the result almost seamless with Windows proper.File system is still on my Ubuntu, and so anything that happens disk-wise doesn't affect my laptop.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

VNC Multi-Viewer

I'm working as an administrator that uses Parent Pager computers around my campus. Sometimes, I just need to know what's working and what's not in a hurry. I found this VNCed program that allows me to see all my Parent Pager computers in one screen, then I can quickly go-to and react to the machines.

I can see how this also can be useful for multiple servers, and teachers watching a computer lab can easily see all the computers in their room in a heartbeat.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The other reasons that CD sales are declining


The multi-billion dollar music industry has gone through wrenching change. Sales of compact discs, the industry's biggest product, continue to decline at an alarming pace. Correspondent David Faber sat down for a rare interview with Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr., and looks at a company, and an industry, struggling to reinvent itself.

The above quote came from this month's edition of CNBC's Business Nation. While the points made in the entry -- noteably record labels competing with "free" -- were on target, perhaps the more crucial fact glossed over is the form factor of the CD itself. While the comment was made that the CD is over 30 years old, the fact is that the form factor of the CD is its own worst enemy. Compact Discs are large, fragile, subject to scratching, and not the least bit easy to store in large quantities. Further, they just aren't that portable.

CDs also haven't changed much in price in years. Even the digital equivalents of 20 songs=$20 on popular pay-for music services defy logic for many who listen to music. It certainly isn't expensive in any sense of the word to provide music digitally. I imagine there's something to the effect of packing, packaging, etc for CDs on shelf, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the CDs have generally too little content worth paying for on a CD. Not all songs by one's favorite artist are going to be hits.

As I was preparing this blog comment, I was thinking seriously about SD Media as a music distribution media. SanDisk has already beat me to it, only in microSD format. And why not? (Except iPods can't use them, and they get lost very easily).

At that point, it is very clear that Apple itself has destroyed the physical music distribution method.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tail for Win32 - Home Page

Tail for Win32 - Home Page

This is one of the "Oh, I didn't know I could do *that*" essential programs for people who want to know what's happening on their system. Want to follow the logs of WindowsUpdate.log in real time? Get this, and open the file.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Reflections on color

What's with Red, Yellow, Green, Blue as the 4 colors of most game pieces?

Red, Yellow, and Blue are the three primary colors of paint. Primary meaning that all other colors are derived from these colors, and the three primary colors are not comprised of other colors.

Green, of course, is made of Yellow and Blue. However, Green is one of the primary colors of *light*. Perhaps you've heard of RGB? Red, Green, Blue? ... In light, Green is a primary color. LCD screens use red, green, and blue colors mixed in various intensities to make all the colors you see on a screen.

Are there secondary colors? Yes. Secondary colors of paint are Orange, Green, and Purple. These are obtained by mixing equal parts Red and Yellow, Blue and Yellow, and Red and Blue, respectively.

Have you heard of CMYK? That's Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. While these are ink/paint colors, the colors themselves are secondary colors of light: equal intensities of Green and Blue, Blue and Red, and Green and Red, respectively for the colors.

What is interesting is that Cyan is "kinda" blue, Magenta is "kinda" red, and Yellow is ... yellow, hence we get to mixing "light" colors to make "pigment".

Dotted "Quad" notation for thread management?

Well, I'm thinking of ways to handle threads in message boards. Assuming that there can be infinite original posts, there might be a finite number of comments per original post. It is that part that I'm addressing.

It's not exactly "dotted quad", but it's close: FFF.FFF.FFF.... (Base 16 0-F)
Every "level" has 4095 siblings. Each time a new response is created, it either increments the current sibling level or adds a new dotted level. Threads have rather easy management and a calculable "number" for uniqueness. The unique identifier for a post/comment stores into a string instead of a numeric. The number of "."s indicate the depth of the post. A 256 byte string could handle 64 levels of children, grandchildren, etc.

I would estimate even the longest threads generally taper off at 16 or so *levels*, even if there are 4000 posts replying to the original poster.

In essence, this could allow 4096^64 total messages (1.55251809 × 10^231) with a numeric management overhead of 256 bytes per post.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

An Alternative Thumbs up/down

When I ws an avid Woot patron, it was important to me to find out whether or not it was worth buying the One Item a day ..whatever was on sale

But that was lame because of the people who clog the message boards up with inane posts.

I want to propose a Signal/Noise choice. Is this relevant to the conversation? Signal. Is this not? Noise. Further, as people vote on such matters, the sorting now becomes based upon Signal/relevance and not time or date of post. Threads are not needed. That is to say, if you want to read threads, you can do so by branch tags. The idea of branch tags is something to the effect of:

Original Poster Tag (ex: Money) Post#x, Money
Response to Original Post Tag Post#y, (Money-level1), Money
Response2 to OP Tag Post#z, (Money-level1), Money

I obviously haven't fleshed this out fully, yet. The concept is not to click to see the thread, it is to click to see the posts tagged with the original post. The generation of the tags to be used is the fun part. I might get there some day

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