New York Stock Exchange embraces Linux

Being a Linux enthusiast & hobbyist, I’m encouraged to see major industries make the decision to embrace Linux.

From the article:

The open-source operating system may not have all the polish of Unix technologies with 20-plus years of history behind them, “but it’s polished enough for us,” he said.

The NYSE’s shift toward Linux and x86-based hardware illustrates why analyst firm Gartner is predicting a slight decline in Unix server revenues over the next five years. In comparison, Gartner forecasts strong sales growth for both Windows and Linux servers.

Although Rubinow has the option of using HP-UX, HP’s version of Unix, he said that he’d prefer not to. “We don’t want to be closely aligned with proprietary Unix,” he said. “No offense to HP-UX, but we feel the same way about [IBM’s] AIX, and we feel the same way to some extent about Solaris.”

The NYSE still runs numerous Unix systems, especially ones with Solaris, which is Sun Microsystems’s Unix derivative. Rubinow acknowledged that Solaris has the ability to run on multiple hardware platforms, including x86-based systems from Sun server rivals such as HP. But he added that he thinks Linux “affords us a lot of flexibility.”

Also, having looked at Virtualization products like VMware, I found this paragraph very intriguing. I wonder why I haven’t heard of the latency-issue before with Virtualization, of course running an OS ontop of another would add latency, but the variants of Virtualization software that allow Virtual Machines to run directly off the server hardware without an OS host would (I would think) bring the latency to par with any OS, I suppose that thin layer separating the Virtual Machines running on the hardware do have some impact. From the article:

One technology that the NYSE isn’t adopting so eagerly is server virtualisation, which comes with a system latency price that Rubinow said he can’t afford to pay. In a system that is processing hundreds of thousands of transactions per second, virtualisation produces “a noticeable overhead” that can slow down throughput, according to Rubinow. “Virtualisation is not a free technology from a latency perspective, so we don’t use it in the core of what we do,” he said.

Source: ComputerWorld UK [[Full Article]].

8-bit Nostalgia: Part V

Ars Technica continues it’s fascinating history of the Amiga and Commodore in part 5 of this series. In this installment, they discuss the struggles of the Amiga due to poor advertising, and the Commodore suffering at the hands of the very-rushed Atari ST.

Also, The laptop that never was: The Commodore Laptop with an LCD screen.

Linux Backups for the regular user

Linux Planet has a 3-part series on simple backups for both single PCs and small networks, using portable USB storage devices. Learn how to nail down your device names in udev, attach your backup command to a menu icon, and schedule regular unattended backups.

Linux Backups for the regular user: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Off for a little R&R…

Will be taking a little vacation for the next 2 weeks, back @ the end of November, however, I reserve the right to post if the urge is overwhelming….


Hotwire: A contemporary shell

Hotwire is a Python-based object oriented crossplatform command execution shell. It is a part of the GoogleCode Project.

Hotwire is not a terminal emulator, nor is it something you can set as your Unix “login shell”; instead, Hotwire unifies the concepts of shell and terminal and can natively do about 80-90% of what one would normally do in a terminal+shell.

It’s perfect as an augmented command line interface for those running desktop linux like Ubuntu.

Practically speaking, Hotwire provides a modern command interface for developers and system administrators to interact with the computer.

Hotwire is Free Software and runs on Linux (with GNOME) and Windows (HotwireWindows).

Click here for the homepage and here for the .deb file for Debian/Ubuntu users.

Right click the image below and click View Image for a screenshot.

Darth Vader in love . . .

The title says it all, hilarious!

Google to announce plans that the GPhone will be ready by mid-2008

From the Wall Street Journal:

Within the next two weeks, Google is expected to announce advanced software and services that would allow handset makers to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year, people familiar with the situation say.

In recent months Google has approached several U.S. and foreign handset manufacturers about the idea of building phones tailored to Google software, with Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. mentioned in the industry as potential contenders. Google is also seeking partnerships with wireless operators. In the U.S., it has the most traction with Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA, while in Europe it is pursuing relationships with France Télécom’s Orange SA and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.’s 3 U.K., people familiar with the matter say.

Tomb of the Unknown Geek

Paperback: Write data you want to keep to actual PAPER.

PaperBack is a free application that allows you to back up your precious files on ordinary paper in the form of oversized bitmaps. If you have a good laser printer with 600 dpi resolution, you can save up to 500,000 bytes (just under 1/2 a megabyte)of uncompressed data on the single A4/Letter sheet.

For a 600 dpi printer you will need a scanner with at least 900 dpi physical (physical, not interpolated) resolution.

It’s free & open source, although for Windows only (blah).

More info here.

Stephen King on The Best American Short Stories 2007

Leonard Lopate and Stephen King talk about 2007’s best short stories, but more importantly, talk about the threat of the death of the short story (which I love, so much; regardless of genre).

Being a lover of literature, and relishing the time I have to read, when I can — this interview is meaty (audio 30 minutes).

Click here to get to the site where you can listen or download the interview.


EastOfTheWeb: A website devoted to short stories indexed by Genre and age demographic (some good stories here for those who want to read some fiction, but not necessarily get involved in a large, full-length novel.) Some stories are by very famous authors that are now out of copyright, others by unknowns, but very good tales.

Wikipedia: List of famous science fiction short stories (there are great compendiums available on Amazon for a few dollars.)

Also Related (authors):

My favorite Noir Hardboiled Detective author: Cornell Woolrich

Science Fiction: Too many to name, perhaps as a separate post someday . . .

Leveraging GPU’s to crack passwords 25 times as faster than with CPU’s.

From the NewScientist Tech section:

A technique for cracking computer passwords using inexpensive off-the-shelf computer graphics hardware is causing a stir in the computer security community.

Elcomsoft, a software company based in Moscow, Russia, has filed a US patent for the technique. It takes advantage of the “massively parallel processing” capabilities of a graphics processing unit (GPU) – the processor normally used to produce realistic graphics for video games.

Using an $800 graphics card from nVidia called the GeForce 8800 Ultra, Elcomsoft increased the speed of its password cracking by a factor of 25, according to the company’s CEO, Vladimir Katalov.

The toughest passwords, including those used to log in to a Windows Vista computer, would normally take months of continuous computer processing time to crack using a computer’s central processing unit (CPU). By harnessing a $150 GPU – less powerful than the nVidia 8800 card – Elcomsoft says they can cracked in just three to five days. Less complex passwords can be retrieved in minutes, rather than hours or days.

Click here for the full article.

8-bit Nostalgia: Part IV

Enter the Commodore: The complex tale of how Amiga, Commodore and Atari all helped and hurt each other in the scrape to reach the top. Who knew they’d all fall prey to the same enemy.

This fascinating series continues from Ars Technica, and soon part 5 will be released continuing this amazing saga.

History of the Amiga: Part IV

I love cats….

I’ve always loved cats. I don’t mind dogs either, but cats are easier to manage in a home where everyone has a full time job and needs a pet that can largely take care of themselves. Cats are less pack-oriented and much more independent. I’ve often railed against the ‘pack mentality’ which is another reason why I enjoy the company of cats.

Affection from a cat is often seasonal, and most-definitely on their terms, but they definitely have a calming effect for me, and I enjoy their company.

Currently we don’t have any cats, but we used to. Once in a while I will come across a cat video that instantly brings out the unique cat/human experience and distills it into a few comic moments. The video below does just that. Perhaps some day we will get a new cat … who knows.

Wake Up Kitty

41 things to consider to improve your Blog

From the article:

This list originally started off with 22 common mistakes that new bloggers tend to make. But while writing the list, other mistakes I’d made – and corroborated by other bloggers – came back to memory.

No blogger makes all of these mistakes, of course, but the list serves to help those of you who are still establishing your name in the blogosphere, and to remind you that you’re not alone.

Click here for the full article.

1-800-GooG-411 (800-466-4411)

Google 411 services, quite impressive. See the video below for more info. Many carriers charge extra for 411 services, so calling 800-GooG-411 won’t cost more than standard rates.

Click here for a video on the topic.

How a Walt Disney cartoon is made (1938)

… my my, have we come a long way.

GrandCentral (beta). . .

GrandCentral gives you a permanent phone number (for life). With this number (many area codes are available, in fact many that even Skype does not offer) you can perform a variety of routing and screening tasks to your incoming calls.

It is useful as a phone number to hand to people whom you don’t know well, or to put on web forms, or as a shared number when you want an incoming call to be directed to multiple people.

  1. Based on the callerID, you can route a call to one phone number or any other another (meanwhile the caller is only aware of the GrandCentral number they dialed.)
  2. GrandCentral can forward calls to multiple numbers simultaneously: Whoever picks up first, wins.
  3. You can listen to someone leaving you a voicemail and choose whether you’d like to pick up the call (like a real answering machine, but the call arrived forwarded to your home or cell from GrandCentral)
  4. Record phonecalls (while all parties know the call is being recorded, it’s very helpful for taking minutes on conference calls and review).
  5. Block callers – you can simply block callers based on their callerID, or even impersonate a recorded “The number you have dialed is no longer is service” message that sounds very authentic (on a per caller basis!).
  6. Force callers from “unknown” (callerID blocked) to announce themselves prior to the call being routed (this is optional, and GrandCentral will let you know who is calling and give you the option of taking the call or divert to voicemail based on what the caller said during the forced “tell us who’s calling, please” introduction by GrandCentral.)
  7. Receive notifications via email or SMS of voicemails.
  8. Personalize your voicemail greetings based on the callerID of the incoming caller.
  9. Webcall – people can call you from a webpage (Add a WebCall button to your website or blog for people to call you. Your number stays private and you can use all the normal GrandCentral screening, blocking, forwarding, and other features. The WebCall button takes care of connecting the call to you after getting the caller’s number.).
  10. CallSwitch – mid-call, you can switch from your cell, to house line, back to cell, all silently and smoothly without the other person even aware that its happening mid-call, by hitting the * key (which is filtered out during the call, bringing up an audio menu of 9 options you can do with the existing call).
  11. A well-maintained “black list” of telemarketers that GrandCentral will auto-block (this option can be turned on or off).
  12. Many more features!!

Google owns this company as of about 3 or 4 months ago, and it jives very well with their upcoming phone service and Google Phone which I mentioned in an earlier blog entry.

The service is entirely free (and also in beta). You can make calls to landlines from the web interface, however there is an expectation that once out of beta, they would charge for this feature, though not for any incoming calls.

Right now GrandCentral is on an invite-only basis. I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to use this great service and new GrandCentral users get 10 invitations of their own! So start asking your friends if anyone has an account, because an invitation is most-certainly worth receiving!

UC Berkeley puts hundreds of academic lectures on YouTube

The University of California at Berkeley has joined the ranks of YouTube partners by providing a number of full course lectures and other special events through YouTube. The school announced the availability of its own YouTube channel yesterday, with over 300 hours of video available on YouTube. This includes lectures on bioengineering, physics, chemistry, peace and conflict studies, and other topics. There’s even a lecture by Google co-founder Sergey Brin on search engines.

Source: Ars Technica

How Silicon Valley got its start in Radio

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

There is this myth that Silicon Valley was all orchards when the chip companies arrived, but it’s not true. It had been building, building for a long time,” said Christophe Lécuyer, a Stanford-trained historian who turned his dissertation into a book, “Making Silicon Valley.”

Lécuyer, now an economic analyst with the University of California system, said the region’s technological awakening began almost a century ago when, not long after the great quake of 1906, the Bay Area – and particularly the Peninsula – began innovating with the then-hot technology of radio.

“The San Francisco Bay Area was a natural place for interest in radio because it was a seagoing region,” said Timothy Sturgeon, an industrial researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who described this radio period in a paper, “How Silicon Valley Came to Be.”

Click here for the full article, and images.

Related: Standford’s oral history of semiconductor technology, complete with audio interviews (Real Audio format).

From Amazon: The Fairchild Chronicles and The Microprocessor Chronicles: The History of the Microprocessor.

Also: The original Stanford press release from 2005.

Helpful graphic for the Linux file structure

This graphic is a helpful overview of a generic Linux file structure. The creator used UPPERCASE simply for easy viewing, but this should all be looked at as a lowercase structure. Right-click and save-as or view-image for a full-resolution copy.

Souce: Geek2Live

USB 3.0 (coming in 2008).

USB 3.0 will be 10x faster than USB 2.0.

From the article . . .

The current USB 2.0 version has a top data-transfer rate of 480 megabits per second, so a tenfold increase would be 4.8 gigabits per second. Many devices don’t need that much capacity, but some can use more, including hard drives, flash card readers and optical drives such as DVD, Blu-ray and HD DVD. The fastest flash card readers today use IEEE 1394 “FireWire” connections that top out at 800 megabits per second.

In addition, USB 3.0 will offer greater energy efficiency, Gelsinger said. It will be backward compatible, so current USB 2.0 devices will be able to plug into USB 3.0 ports.

The amusement of the ads …

Just a bit of nostalgia, I can’t resist posting a few legendary videos about that most-nostalgic period when the old PC wars were alive and well, and the ads that fueled them . . . some are old, and some not so old.

MS-DOS 5: The Revolution Begins.

Winsongs 95: Order yours now!

PC vs. MAC: Southpark Style.

The beautfy of the Macintosh: MAC ad style.

Vista: Oh the vista . . .

. . . Bloatware.

Of course my all time favorite . . . stand aside, eh hem let the PENGUIN THROUGH PLEASE . . . 5, 4, 3, 2, and the most innovative one yet, drumroll please . . . UBUNTU (the GUI shown is available right now and is known as Compiz Fusion running with GNOME on Ubuntu.)

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together on one stage for an extended interview.

May 30, 2007 Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both together on stage for a lengthy interview about their history, regrets and discussions about their products and respective companies. I found the interview very interesting, although I thought they were a bit tame given the legendary tales that precede them. It’s roughly 90 minutes broken into 7 parts, with some introductory videos as well. Click here for the main page outlining the interview. The transcript can be found here.

All Things Digital is a production of the Wall Street Journal It is a web site devoted to news, analysis and opinion on technology, the Internet and media.

VirtualBox: Open Source VMware-style application

This runs on Linux as well as Windows, but I find it particularly useful for Linux to virtualize Windows (who would want to waste a box to run windows?! <smirk>).

Innotek VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

It offers many (not all) of the same feature VMware does, and is worth a look if you want to use open source to accomplish the same thing that closed source VMware does. It even runs on the Mac, allowing you to run windows on a Mac, virtualized <wikipedia screenshot>.

[Wikipedia write-up on Virtualbox].

Using GParted to copy/move/backup entire partitions . . .

GParted is essentially the open source version of Partition Magic. It’s a most-excellent piece of software that can run off a standard Linux distribution for regular partition manipulation, but for wholesale moving or backup of boot partitions you’d have to use the LIVE-CD (only a 50meg ISO) which assures no partitions are mounted, so the process won’t have any resource violations.

This how-to page illustrates how to use GParted to copy whole partitions for backup purposes or for rearranging partitions for dual boot setups, quite helpful indeed!

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