Month: March 2004

  • Google’s Gmail


    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 31 (Reuters) – Search engine Google Inc. said on Wednesday said it will begin testing a new search-based e-mail product called Gmail.

    ZDNet appears to have a little more information about Gmail.  It is currently in testing, and will allow users to search their email (of course) but will also provide a more generous amount of storage than competitors such as Yahoo or Hotmail.

    “The idea is that your mail can stay in there forever,” said Wayne Rosing, vice president of engineering at Google. “You can always index it, always search it, and always find things from the past.”

    That’s pretty cool.  Imagine your email sitting on a few dozen Google shards scattered throughout the world.

    Interesting note: the top search result for gmail (besides the google news stuff) is Gmail, the open source project.

  • Redundant Firewalls with OpenBSD

    Via Slashdot BSD, Ryan McBride explains the new redundancy features in OpenBSD 3.5.  The article explains why redundant firewalls are good, goes through a real world scenario, and gives examples of how to set up a redundant firewall system using OpenBSD 3.5.  The release of 3.5 is just around the corner.  Also check out the release song for 3.5 and hear why the invented a new protocol from scratch to accomplish redundancy.

  • Cobind Desktop

    Via Slashdot, Cobind Desktop is an interesting Linux Distro.  It is based on Fedora Core and is pretty cutting edge component wise.  It runs version 2.6.4 of the kernel, has XFree86 4.3.0, GCC 3.3.3, and so on.  It does not rely on KDE or Gnome, rather XFce.  This results in a lean distro with clean lines.

    For more info, check out an article at FlexBeta about it.

  • Xbox Officially $149.99

    CNet and others are covering the official announcement of the Xbox price cut.  It’s been pretty much a given since late last week.  Of course some analysts would have liked to see it drop a little further, but not just yet.

    As the price of the Xbox approaches zero, the chances of me purchasing one approach 1.

  • Subvocalization

    Subvocalization is one of those things that often show up in Science Fiction stories.  Characters usually subvocalize to interact with their computers or communication systems.  According to p2pnet, that technology is close to becoming a reality.  Check out more info about it at  The tech is far from becoming everyday reality, but NASA is working on it.

  • Hamfest!

    Yep, I’m up at 5am on a Sunday.  That could mean a few things, but today it’s a Hamfest/Computerfest.  I’m meeting up with some geeky friends and we’re planning on being at the gates near Baltimore by 8am.

  • Yawiki and text_wiki

    Yawiki builds upon text_wiki.  Both projects had new releases today.

  • X-43a Test Successful!

    I watched the X-43a test flight on NASA TV.  Everything seemed to go well.  The X-43a was launched with a booster rocket from a B-52.  The X-43a then seperated from the rocket, and a few seconds later they gave it fuel, and it seems to have functioned properly.  After about 10 seconds, they cut fuel, and it’s currently coasting around Mach 5.

  • Updating SuSE From the Command Line

    Whew.  I was worried that keeping a SuSE system up to date without employing their awesome YaST graphical administration was going to be hard.  After finding the right keywords to google, it looks like that’s not going to be a problem.  Enter your SuSEian friend, online-update. According to this page about Yast Online Update, online-update is a cronable command line program that allows you to keep your system patched and up to date.  My guess is that keeping up to date will look something like this:

    online-update -u security recommended

    I might set up a little script to run once a day with -s and email me with a list of patches if the output changes.

    I’m really stoked, as I need to replace a Red Hat 7.3 server running a bit of software that only runs on certain platforms (plesk).  My choices are RH9 (not viable long term), RHEL3 ($$$), Fedora Core 1 (Core 2 will be out soon, this is a quickly moving distro, not the greatest for server stuff), Mandrake 9.2 (more of a desktop distro), and SuSE 9 (a desktop distro, but runs great on my lappy).  I’d love to be running Debian on this particular box, but that’s unfortunately not an option.  I’ve already shelled out the bucks for Plesk and I’ve already got some stuff running on the existing installation.  This is the second of two major upgrades that I’ve recieved at no extra cost, so I can’t complain.

    I’m installing SuSE 9 on a testbed now to see if I can get this stuff to play nice with it.  We’ll see how it goes.


    It looks like online-update isn’t installed by default on SuSE 9, so I’ll have to check that out.  Running you from the command line gives me a nice curses-based system for downloading updates though.  It feels very similar to the graphical version.  Cool!

  • Wi-Fi at 30,000 Feet

    Via IT Vibe (and others), it looks like Wi-Fi in airplanes will finally become commercially available.  According to a press release by Boeing, they’re getting in to the wi-fi hotspot business.

    Pricing is honestly not that bad: $30 for 6+ hour flights, $20 for 3-6 hour flights, and $15 for shorter flights.  I’d pay that in a heartbeat to have broadband access from my seat in steerage.  They also have a pay as you go system, starting at $10 for 30 minutes.  If only I could get my laptop to last through the flight.  Someday I might be able to redeem my airline miles toward the elbow room and power outlets of business class…

    I love how all of those evil radio signals are suddenly safe.  I do remember reading about a wi-fi test by Boeing several months ago.  I’m glad that they’ve fast-tracked this idea.  Lufthansa will be the first commercial carrier to offer the service.

    I really hope that airlines in the US jump on this.  It’s an awesome opportunity, and I’m sure that a certain percentage of tech-savvy could make travel decisions around the avalability of Wi-Fi in flight.  I would sure consider it.  (Psst, United: I really don’t want to fly on another airline just because they’ve got Wi-Fi.  Get it now!)

  • Comcast Buys TechTV, World Mourns


    Comcast has purchased TechTV. They plan to merge the station with G4.


    Also mentioned in the Slashdot report is the announcement of Leo leaving as host of The Screen Savers.

    This is really bad.  I’ve been watching TechTV on and off for several years now.  Granted they play a lot of reruns and have airtime that they could fill, but I can’t see the purchase by Comcast as A Good Thing.  Right now I tend to catch the previous nights show as a rerun at 8am.  It’s great background, and often dive deeper in to stories that I’ve skimmed about the previous day.

    I’m just worried about something good like Tech TV falling through the cracks of an ever growing media company.

    I’ll have to start catching Leo’s weekend tech radio show in order to get my fix.  It looks like for the time being he will continue hosting Call for Help and will be contributing to The Screen Savers.

  • Modern Day John Henry

    I heard a modern day audio story of John Henry last night during All Things Considered on my drive home.  It’s the story of a drummer vs. a DJ with turntables and a drum machine.

    I’d highly recommend a listen.

  • OpenBSD 3.5

    OpenBSD 3.5 is out. The release song this time is a Monty Python skit with a message. Check it out.

  • Transatlantic SMS: Old News? (with bonus rant)

    Yesterday Reuters covered a breaking story: AT&T Wireless now have the ability to SMS across the Atlantic.

    What the hell took them so long?

    I signed up with T-Mobile about a year ago.  Shortly after finding the Mobitopians on IRC, I sent a quick SMS to Jim to see if I had properly configured delivery confirmation.  Sure enough a minute or so after I sent the message, I got a delivery confirmation.  A few minutes later, I got a reply from Jim.

    Transatlantic texting has been working for quite some time, thankyouverymuch.  I’m glad that AT&T is finally catching up, but they’re a bit late to the game.

    Have you ever noticed that just as every mobile phone seems to be missing that one thing that would make it perfect?  The same holds true for mobile operators.

    For example, T-Mobile is my carrier, and I love them.  But GPRS on a 3650 is painfully slow, and there’s no word about T-Mobile rolling out EDGE or other 3G data services in the US.  Everyone that I have spoken to at customer service has been excellent and helpful.

    And then there’s AT&T.  When researching my new phone and carrier, I was seriously looking at AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile.  When I went to the AT&T retail store, I got a very Sprint-ish vibe.  The sales staff was there when you wanted to actually purchase a phone, but were nowhere to be seen if you had a question that didn’t involve a purchase.  Their data plans didn’t seem very appealing at the time, and their current EDGE plans are out of my tax bracket.

    But AT&T has EDGE.  T-Mobile does not, and it doesn’t look like they will any time soon.

    And so, each carrier and each phone is missing that one thing that would make them perfect.  So what is your dream team phone and dream team carrier?  I think mine would be a 7610 + IR + EDGE for everyday in the pocket.  In a fantasy world I’d also have a 9500 in my satchel.  It’s too big for an everyday phone, but I love my 9290 and love the functionality that an updated version could give me.  My dream team carrier would be ATT-Mobileular.  It would have enough infrastructure that I always had a signal.  The data would flow fast and cheaply.  When you dialed customer service, they’d be helpful.  International roaming would be straighforward at a low rate.  I would still pay less than the locals for data access while roaming in the UK.  It wouldn’t break my bank account.

    That would be lovely.

  • Morning Edition Changes

    Via Ryan, Bob Edwards has been dropped as host of NPR’s Morning Edition.

    The radio network announced Tuesday that Edwards, 56, will become senior correspondent of NPR News, with his reports being heard on various broadcasts, at the end of April.

    Man.  That’s an institution they’re shoving off the host spot.  Worst. Move. Evar!

  • Fishing at Freshmeat

    Today is one of those days that I scrolled down the listing at freshmeat and saw several projects that looked pretty interesting:


    TinyButStrong is a library that enables you to create HTML pages dynamically. It’s a Template Engine for the PHP language. It enables you to easily display information from your database, but also to seriously harmonize and simplify your PHP/HTML programming.

    I have not looked too deeply, but this looks kinda neat.

    Big Medium:

    Big Medium 1.3.3 is an affordable, full-featured web content management system that allows non-technical staff to add and edit web page content without knowing HTML. Big Medium frees web professionals from tedious page updates and empowers writers and editors to make website changes directly.

    It always throws me off when non-free sotftware ends up on freshmeat.  Licensing is $129 per server.  That’s a little to rich for my blood, but before I knew it cost anything, it looked pretty neat.

    Tasks Pro:

    Tasks Pro is the multi-user version of Tasks: a powerful web-based task manager (to-do list manager) that allows you to organize your tasks in a hierarchical structure. Group controls allow projects to be set up only for people who need to see them.

    Hmm, $125 for 5 users.  I’m having a bit of a non-free day on freshmeat.  Tasks seems to be donateware though.  Must. Pay. Bills.

  • EclipseME 0.3.0

    Via Erik’s Linkblog, EclipseME 0.3.0 is out!  Craig has put a lot of effort in to making EclipseME work with the Nokia and Sony Ericsson toolkits.  I’ll try to install the new release as soon as possible.

  • ADC Reference Library

    Apple’s new reference library for developers looks amazing.  Now if I only had some Mac hardware that could successfully boot OSX…

  • CAN in Linux

    The OCERA Project has released LinCAN 0.2:

    an implementation of the Linux device driver supporting more CAN controller chips and many CAN interface boards. The driver roots can be traced to LDDK project. The OCERA version of the LinCAN driver adds new features, continuous enhancements and reimplementation of structure of the driver. The usage of the driver is tightly coupled to the virtual CAN API interface component which hides driver low level interface to the application programmers. Driver enables multiple opens of each communication objects from more Linux and RT-Linux applications. The message processing is based on the oriented graph of FIFOs concept.

    CAN is a really interesting protocol, but the last time I was at a real-time/embedded trade show, it appeared to be a pretty closed environment.  LinCAN will at least let you use CAN-specific hardware in an embedded Linux.

  • Mozilla 1.7 Beta

    Via Slashdot, Mozilla 1.7 Beta appears to be faster and lighter weight.  Of course, those of us who really like to make the Moz fly use Firefox.