Technocrat: RIP

Looks like Bruce Perens is shutting down Technocrat. That’s unfortunate. Technocrat is one of the small number of news sites that I read regularly and it had a much better s/n ratio than Slashdot and Kuro5hin. And while I find there’s usually a lot of overlap between the other news sites, quite a few of the articles that were posted on Technocrat didn’t show up anywhere else. I wonder if anyone has volunteered to take over the site for him (or if he’d even be interested in passing it on?). In any case, thanks for running a great site Bruce. It will be missed!

Going to a Live Auction

Susan and I went to a computer auction Saturday and picked up a few interesting odds and ends. Live auctions are strange; they can be really boring sometimes and a lot of fun other times. But eBay is a lot more convenient most of the time.

All the work with JSP and servlets that I’ve been doing for one of my clients lately has gotten me interested in using them myself. I’ve got a development box set up with Tomcat and have been fooling around with it for a few days. It actually looks like one could implement a portal site like Slashdot or Advogato pretty easily using Java servlets. I’ve found a really cool HTML template scripting language that seems much better than JSP, called WebMacro. It allows you to completely seperate the Java code from the HTML markup so the web designers don’t have to know programming and the programmers don’t have to do page design. There’s a nice article about some of the problems with JSP by the WebMacro author over at

Vortimax and Elkmar

I’ve got a weblog/portal project coming up and have been looking at what’s out there as far as software. Nothing seems to be available that does everything I want. Slash doesn’t appear to be very configurable – every site I look at that uses it looks exactly like slashdot. Slash also requires the use of MySQL while I’d prefer to use only free software like PostgreSQL for this project. Scoop looks much easier to use and modify and, while it also requires MySQL, it appears to use DBI so it should be possible to adapt it to PostgreSQL without too much trouble. Both Scoop and Slash use Perl which is good. Squishdot, being Python-based, is right out. There’s also mod_virgule, which has a number of advantages such as being written in C, having a cool trust metric system and XML support but it also lacks a few features I want. I’ve had a mod_virgule test system running for a while and I’ll probably set up scoop this week for comparison. Being Perl-based, it may be faster to hack a trust metric and PostgreSQL support into Scoop. Hmmm…

Sunday, Susan and I spent the afternoon at the Dallas Artfest 2000. It was not as interesting as previous years but it was still worthwhile. Lots of strange art and music.

I’ve been pondering Irish names lately. Erin is going to be having her second boy soon and wants a good Irish name for him. I think they’re leaning toward Rory at the moment. I’ve suggested a couple of nice ones like Vortimax and Elkmar but I think they’re more in the market for a name like Kevin or Colin. Turlough is a good one too (it always makes me think of the Fifth Doctor’s rather unpredictable companion).

Number One on Seti@HOME Again

WooHoo! I’m number one on the Seti@HOME Team Slashdot stats again. Another 15 minutes of fame… Even though there are only a few boxes left here running the Seti@HOME software, I still check in on my stats every once in a while. Most of the people on Team Slashdot gave up long ago and I’ve been slowly moving up through the ranks. But I’m still falling farther behind all the time in the overall stats. I got as high 300th or so back when we had dozens of machines working on it but as more of the machines here went back to doing real work I’ve fallen to about 900th. Looks like Team Slashdot has fallen quite a ways in the Club stats too – they used to be number one.

A friend emailed me a link to Vigor today. Wow! now vi users can have an annoying Microsoft-like talking paperclip hopping around their Linux desktop. I don’t even use vi, so I found it particularly helpful when it offered messages such as “Are you sure you want to move the cursor left?”. And if you try to kill it, the response is “Are you sure you don’t want to close the Vigor assistant? Ok/Cancel”. Now, if they could just add a feature that would generate the BSOD randomly, I wouldn’t need Windows at all anymore.

Jon Johansen’s House Raided

This news is just too weird to believe. Jon Johansen’s house was raided today. The MPAA’s power is completely out of hand. I quote from his email posted on Slashdot:

The National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime in Norway raided my home today and seized my Linux box, FreeBSD/Win2k box and Nokia cellphone. Not only I, but also my father has been indicted, since he owns the domain (webhotel) where my homepage(s) have been located. They also took me in for questioning which lasted 6-7 hours. It’s 2 am CET now (I just got back), I haven’t eaten, and someone’s definitely going to pay for this.

This is insane. The MPAA, RIAA, DVD-CCA, and other IP organizations are now waging all-out war against the open source movement. Please consider making a donation, however small, to the EFF to help defend the victims of these attacks. If you have access to a web site, please mirror the source.

Fun with Host Naming Schemes

There’s a great Slashdot article on host naming schemes today. It talks about the struggle of smart people who want to give their machines useful and fun names based on consistant naming schemes such as Soviet leaders (Leonid, Yuri, etc.) or French Wines (Pauillac, Pomerol, etc.) versus stupid managment types who want to give them meaningless and confusing names like xyzibm34211, xyzspc25502. It’s loads of fun to read about all the crazy naming systems people have come up with. And I’d never realized there were any RFC’s on creating host naming systems but there are two. RFC1178 gives a lot of useful and interesting guidelines for creating a naming system and RFC2100 is, well, worth reading anyway.

The host names at NCC are all creatures from Science Fiction. Triffid, Horta, Nimon, Rodan, Mothra, Vorta, Ferengi, Krynoid, Vorlon, Zanti, and Wirrin so far with more to come. Eventually we hope to give each host a web page of it’s own explaining the origin of the name. We only have a couple of them up so far as you can see from the links above but more will go up as time allows.

The one problem at NCC is that Randy still names all of his machines wrr[something] – in violation of multiple provisions of RFC1178 it seems. Maybe he’ll read the article and become enlightened.