Older blog entries for Waldo (starting at number 129)

Malcom wrote:
Where's Waldo?

Right over here. :)

New Computer

The parts have started to come in for my new computer. buy.com appears to be grossly irrational in their shipping practices -- they sent all three things that I bought from them in three separate boxes that are arriving over a series of days. I got my 40GB IBM 7200rpm Ultra ATA/100 from Dirt Cheap Drives first -- it was very well packaged. I haven't actually used it yet, but I'm impressed with the company, anyhow. Tomorrow I'll download Debian and the new Mandrake to put on that system when I've got all the parts later in the week.

Bynari Insight

I downloaded Bynari's InsightConnector earlier in the week, onto my Win2k machine at the office. I'm doing my best to take us away from Windows, and this seems like a good step. The problem is that Bynari's product descriptions are so confusing, particularly to somebody (ie: me) who doesn't grok Outlook, Exchange, etc. The install of InsightConnector was smooth, but then I was left with an ostensibly full-featured Outlook without any knowledge of what to do with it. There was no uninstall option, so I futzed with it for a bit and was left with a copy of Outlook entire devoid of data. Oh, well. Now I have to figure out what Outlook does with the benefit of an Exchange server vs. without one so that I know what the heck to do with InsightConnector.
I started building a computer back in August, and I'm just about finished now. I've already bought a cordless infrared Logitech mouse, flat-panel speakers, a Romeo case and a 300w power supply. Last night I ordered a 40GB IBM 7200rpm Ultra ATA/100, a Plextor 32x/12x/10x EIDE CD-RW, Sound Blaster 16 PCI, and an Asus ACV266-E motherboard. Now all I need is an Athlon processor and a bit of DDR RAM, and I'm in business. Now I just have to figure out how to partition the drive so that I can try out a few Linux distributions. It's been a long time since I've used anything but PPC distributions.

Somehow I screwed up BIND so badly that reverse DNS no longer works. Which isn't too bad, except for the 60 seconds that it takes to send or check mail.

I'm sad that I've had so little time to program recently. I'm eager to gain fluency in Python, specifically so that I'll be able to teach it to others. Perhaps I'll have more time over spring break.

But I am getting a Wireless Free Charlottesville project off the ground. We need more disruptive technologies around here. :) So that's something.

After eight years of Linux use (and over a decade of FS / OS usage) I finally got my first really good chance to convert a major corporation. And I did really well.

Sure, I may have converted part of GlaxoSmithKline's web operations, but that's a little one -- I'm still waiting to bag a Big Boy. I got my first try last Thurday night. I was at a United States Liability insurance conference in Philadelphia, and we'd taken a field trip to the Flyers/Predators (hockey) game for the evening. I managed to turn the last two thirds of the game into an opportunity to expound upon the benefits of open standards and free software, and how they could reform the insurance industry. Convincing a huge insurance company to spend thousands to create a new standard and then give it away isn't easy. I've made a great start, and I get the feeling that a buzz has started over there. I'll have to keep hammering on them, but I think that it could work.

My goal is for them to store all policies in XML, issue quotes and policies via XML-RPC, and store them in a MySQL database rather than their (I kid you not) Paradox system. If they can design an API and release it to the industry to adopt, then programmers will flock to create programs that will work within their system to automate the Jurassic process that is the insurance industry.

It ain't writing code, but it's something. :)

I love Radio. It's incredible.
Free Speech Chalkboard
I've constructed, for the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Freedom of Expression (you may know them for their annual Muzzle Awards), a simulation of their free speech monument. It's a discussion board, but lacking any identifying information or form -- anybody can write anything anywhere, edit others' comments, delete them, etc. It's been quite an interesting sociological experiment thus far, and has certainly proved to be an excellent simulation. Topically, it's primarily of interest to people from Charlottesville, VA (USA), so you can't expect to find much content that will interest you.

I gave up on getting Zope to work on my Mandrake machine last night, and just downloaded a Mac OS X package that somebody had kindly assembled. That install was painless (save for the mysterious non-existent administrator login and password), and I proceeded through the most-excellent built-in demo that comes with Zope. I feel like I've got a pretty good grasp of the concepts now, but I certainly don't feel like it would speed up anything that I do.

My test will be to see if I can set up a Zope-based site for my mother to replace her existing site. My mother, a regular commentator on NPR, likes to make many of her essays available on her site. I've got a little system set up for her, but I think that a Zope-based site could make it even simpler for her. We'll see.

I finally got Zope working. I found this guide, which explained it real careful-like. I don't know who the guy is that wrote that, but Zope would do well do point people to that page.

I decided to try out Zope this evening. I've been needing a content management system, and Zope seems quite nice. I actually gave it a shot some years ago, but I got frustrated and gave up. Deja vu.

I went through the usual dependency song-and-dance for an hour before I finally got Zope installed. I excitedly went to get started and realized that I didn't know how to get started. So I listed the files that the distro came with, and found that it had an HTML-based getting started guide. I opened that up, and found that the "getting started with your Unix system" guide "does not seem to exist yet." I read a bit more of the docs, but found that they didn't tell me what to do with Zope now that I had it. So I went to the official site. Lots of how-tos and guides, but nothing on how to install and configure it. At that point I bailed, ran updatedb and searched for Zope. I found lots of files, none of which were executable. So had it modified Apache's httpd.conf? No, that was unaltered. So I got on IRC, specifically #zope on irc.openprojects.net. The channel was crowded, but nobody answered my questions. I moved to #python. The folks there were nice, but didn't actually help any. So back to the web. I googled for a variety of things like "zope help," "zope newbie," "install zope," etc. Nothing. So I spent a few minutes pawing through the files on my system more carefully, but found nothing. I erased the RPM and got a different package from a different site and installed that instead. Same results.

What in the world are the Zope maintainers thinking? I've been so impressed with everything that I've read about Zope, but I don't get how it is that anybody gets this thing installed. I'm giving up for now (it's 3:15am, and I'm beat down.) Maybe I'll resume my attempts tomorrow morning, or maybe I'll stumble across the package in a month and delete it. I have no idea. But I'm considerably less excited than I was a couple of hours ago, that's for certain.

Well, that sucked. I replaced all affected binaries, upgraded most everything, etc. I had to upgrade all RPMs by hand, which meant dealing with the stupid v3.x->v4.x bump, fighting with conflicts, and eventually installing dozens of things with --nodeps --force, which must be just great for my system. It is entirely beyond me why there's no command like:

rpm -Uvh --satisfy-deps filename.rpm

Can't RPM figure out how to do this on its own? Instead, I have to hunt my way up an ever-expanding tree of dependencies, keeping a big list in one window as I find more and more failed install attempts for mysterious libraries in my terminal. It's inane. Makdrake's Windows-style updating program looks better and better all the time.

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