The new version of ServersAlive came out this month, so I rewrote my web templates for ServersAlive. ServersAlive is a monitoring tool that checks your servers around the clock, paging and instant messaging people when things break. I have a couple of web templates that SA can use to display reports about the current state of your servers.
I’ve got more templates than this, but it’s been a looooong day, so I’ll stop there. I’d hoped to have more things up & running, like RRDtool and MRTG integration, but it’s 6pm, it’s dark and cold outside, I’ve still got real work to do for my job, and I feel like curling up with the Tivo remote and a beer. Worse, we’re back on Atkins, so the beer isn’t going to happen.
I’ve got two Tivos, and yesterday I spent most of the day researching and futzing with my DirecTivo. There are hack forums out on the net that talk about how to add cool features to DirecTivos, and I figured I’m a pretty smart guy so I’d give it a shot. I came very, very close, but lost the whole thing on a silly little patch. I haven’t given up, but I’m going to give it some time before I go back to it. I can only spend so many hours a weekend in front of the computer.
One other small thing – I’ve always resisted putting a links page on my site because it just never made sense to me. However, on all of my computers, I have the home page set to be this one page on my site that I’ve never shared with the public. It’s just a jumping point to all of the things I hit on a daily or weekly basis to catch up on what’s going on. I have a Quotes section because I change the signature on my email every day; sometimes I pull them out of books, sometimes from movies or songs, and sometimes from the web.
I figured what the heck, might as well put it up on here. You wackos keep reading my site, maybe you’ll like the same sites I like. You people, you’re strange. Except my relatives. No, wait, especially my relatives. (Just kidding, just kidding.)
CNet News now supports trackback, a method by which bloggers like me can log directly to their stories – and vice versa. When you’re looking at a CNet News story, you’ll be able to see which bloggers have commented on it, and jump directly to their commentary. This helps you see what the rest of the computing community thinks about a particular news item, and how much interest it’s gathering.
I wildly applaud this move, and it’ll change the news site I use. Until now, I’d used Ziff-Davis’s competing ZDNN, which basically runs the same stories, because I just liked the Ziff-Davis columnists better. But frankly, seeing the uninformed anonymous postings at the bottom of each ZDNN story didn’t help me digest and analyze the stories at all. When any moron can post a message on a news story, you’re not adding to the discussion, because you can’t filter these guys by intelligence level.
With the News.com trackbacking, the trackbacks only work for people who already have blogs, like yours truly. When you’re reading a News.com story, and you want to see a third party opinion, you want to know who’s giving it to you. Now you can start getting familiar with the people who do trackbacks, and you can choose to read the analysis of the people you trust or at least whose opinions you’ve previously vetted.
Some days, your only consolation is knowing that “Armpit Man” is an anagram for one of your coworkers’ names.
Total Commander 6.5 came out yesterday from Ghisler. It’s my favorite Windows shell program – it replaces Windows Explorer, and it’s a lot like the old Norton Commander from the DOS days. I wrote a review of Total Commander a while back when I was writing for HAL-PC Magazine, and I’m an even bigger fan today.
The new 6.5 version has custom views, with the ability to integrate plugins. One of the plugins available is ShellDetails, which can show your CVS tags like revision, status, sticky tag, and more. It shows that data in columns just like Windows Explorer. This screen shot shows what the columns look like, and the great thing is that you can sort by these columns too.
I think (but I’m not sure) that you don’t have to be using Tortoise – you can use any CVS program. In case you use CVS but not Tortoise, TortoiseCVS is an intuitive Windows CVS client that integrates with the Explorer context menus, so when you right-click on a file you get CVS options like update, history and commit.
Total Commander is fairly inexpensive, dirt cheap if you ask me, and the Shell Details plugin is free. Get more info in the plugin documentation that includes instructions.
I switched DSL packages a couple of weeks ago to get a much faster and much cheaper one. The drawback was that Southwestern Bell had to cancel my internet in order to do it – they couldn’t just change my DSL, they had to cancel it, then reorder it with a new package. And of course, when the DSL modem came in, it’s exactly the same model as I had before, so they basically threw $50 down the drain.
At what point does a company get so full of red tape that the employees are actually instructed to cancel someone’s service to change it, while shipping them $50 of equipment they don’t need? I’m sure SBC doesn’t make a lot of money off my $37/mo DSL, especially not as heavily as I use it.
To make things worse (for SBC, not me) they have a one-year contract, and every year without fail, I reevaluate the competitors out there to see if something’s cheaper and faster. I stuck with SBC again this year because I heard some RoadRunner reliability horror stories from my neighbors who’ve gone without internet for several days while the cable company troubleshoots it. That’s not an option for me telecommuting, so DSL it is.
I took another cursory look at voice over IP this year, and passed. I really like the convenience and reliability of having our alarm system hooked up to the phone line. We don’t use the phone enough to warrant gambling with VoIP.
None of this matters to anybody on the internet. I just started typing to waste time while I wait for my VPN connection to get set up and all of my apps to load. Ahhh, morning routines. Work’s ready, coffee’s on, time to get to work.
OH, wait, pirating the neighbors, almost forgot. I’m in a relatively new townhome community, and at any given time, there’s half a dozen unsecured wireless networks. I’m currently leeching off a couple of neighbors. One has a faster connection, but a lower 802.11b signal quality, while another has a slow connection but a great 802.11b signal quality. I’ve been manually going back and forth between them depending on the weather and the signal. I love being a geek sometimes.
Spent the morning catching up on pop culture via Orkut. It’s a social networking site where you can explore communities that your friends belong to, and vice versa. I just went off exploring various groups, and I was dumbfounded to find how many people I had in common with other friends. Also started a Parrotheads community – I still can’t believe there wasn’t one already.
Anyway, I noticed a lot of my friends’ friends were into the Scissor Sisters, so I checked out their album. Wow! Good stuff, very fun and enjoyable, like disco circa 2004.
My webcam is back up and running. Just brought it back from Dallas. Spent the week up there doing the office thing, hanging out in meetings. I’ve come to believe that there are three kinds of meetings:
Scheduled meetings with agendas. Lots of stuff gets done in a short amount of time.
Scheduled meetings without agendas. Nothing gets done and they take too much time because people ramble off topic.
Unscheduled brainstorms. This is where the really good stuff comes up out of nowhere, especially when somebody starts with something like, “You know, what if we….”
Usually, too many of the meetings I attend fall into the middle category. This week, they were almost all in the last category. Made for a short week!
Yesterday, as expected, Apple released the new Mac Mini. It’s 6.5″ x 6.5″ x 2″, or not much different than a hardback book. I’m in awe. I must have one.
Apple did a great job with the pricing to get people interested, but still not cannibalize the sales of their more expensive and more powerful machines. The Mini starts at $499, but can quickly spiral up to $900 if you get lots of options. I priced one out last night the way I’d get it, and it came in around $700 – more than I wanted to spend on an experimental machine, but still tempting.
I’m confused by some of the peripherals they built in, though. They built in a modem and a network jack, but didn’t include wireless internet? I gladly would have traded the modem for wireless. Does anybody still use modems these days? That one thing tells me Apple’s going after an even lower range of customers than I’d expected – they really want this to be an appliance that people buy for their less-tech-savvy relatives who don’t have DSL or a computer.
I know where my tax refund is going!
Apple filed suit against ThinkSecret.com, an Apple rumors site, because ThinkSecret broke a story about Apple selling sub-$500 computers without monitors. Apple has never sold inexpensive machines targeted at consumers before, but if they sell a $500 machine, I’m all over it. Apple has previously only sued people for breaking real news, not just fake rumors, so that gives some credence that they’ll be releasing this sub-$500 machine pretty soon. My fingers are crossed!
I’m only three days into my vacation, and already it feels like I’ve been off for three weeks. I’m completely relaxed and in goof-off mode.
I spent the morning putting in rub rails in the garage, wall-mounted clips for my Jeep windows, and then spent the afternoon building shelves for our cavernous living room closet. We have a walk-in closet in the living room – no kidding. After seeing stuff pile up on the floor, I decided to pick up some particleboard at Lowe’s and try my hand at built-in shelving. Plus, it was a proof-of-concept run at built-in shelving for the master bedroom walk-in closet, which I figured would be more ambitious. Better to take a shot at a smaller closet first. The results aren’t bad, but they’re nothing to brag about either.
My resolution this year is to stop building stuff. I know, I know, I’m off to a bad start, but the idea was to do a couple of easy projects that I knew I wouldn’t pay someone else to do. After I knock those off this week, I’ll sell my tools and never look back.
Even building these shelves, which was a fun exercise, I know I’m not cut out to be a carpenter. There’s way, way too much to learn when you just want to solve a few problems. I want built-in shelving in the closets, I want a set of built-in bookcases in the library, and I want a built-in window seat for reading. After that, any carpentry skills I accumulate would be wasted. You don’t buy a new house to do renovation work.