hoffman is currently certified at Apprentice level.

Name: Tom Hoffman
Member since: 2000-11-11 21:32:02
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Homepage: http://www.feinsteinhs.com/fhs/Members/Hoffman


I am technology coordinator at Feinstein High School in Providence. We use Zope, Python, Linux and MacOS X (and Windows...).


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OK. My last entry was a major jinx. Since I posted my praise for Sorcerer and the advantages of the focused vision of one key developer, Sorcerer has basically forked and imploded. I'd downloading the install floppies for Debian Woody with my tail between my legs.

Seems like getting back to this diary might be a good idea. Now that I'm doing tech stuff full time I have so many threads going on I can barely keep straight what I've done and what I need to do.

Looking at my last post, I was just putting together my first real Zope server. I got the thing running on Debian on the blue and white G3. It worked great using Squishdot and ZWiki with the teachers through the summer. They took to ZWiki particularly well. I did a major revision to the site at the beginning of the year when I switched to the Zope Content Management System (CMF). That was a little rough, and frankly made things less effective, because there were now too many things to do, instead of just having a simple choice of weblog stuff and wiki stuff.

I eventually gave the Mac to the music teacher, which was probably a mistake, but it was a gesture of goodwill, since she was new and there wasn't actually any musical equipment in the school. So I moved over onto a Pentium (350mhz-ish) box with a scsi card and Red Hat, which I'm more comfortable with.

That worked fine. Then we got a few new motherboards with Pentium 4 1600mhz's to replace some that fried themeselves, so we put one of those in the webserver. As Zope 2.5 and CMF 1.2 have come out recently, I figured I'd do a ground up reinstall. I have also been playing at home with two source based distributions, Sorcerer and Gentoo. I've got Gentoo running on my desktop box, but I decided that Sorcerer would be perfect for the webserver, because it gives the administrator the most transparent control over the system.

Aside: Sorcerer vs. Debian

Debian and Sorcerer are similar insofar as they don't provide the kind of graphical configuration tools that Red Hat, Suse, and Mandrake do. I think what has always given me trouble with Debian is its community aspect--which seems bizarre to say. The thing is, there is a whole learning curve for the lingo and traditions, like stable/unstable/testing, woody/potato, the peristence of really shitty tools like dselect. I know it all makes sense once you learn it, but that's something else to learn.

Plus on the P4, recompiling everything locally with optimizations seems to make a big difference

So anyhow, I've got the Sorcerer system mostly setup, and I'm feeling good about it. It is blazingly fast and doesn't have anything running that I don't need. I've been working on getting iptables running properly. Sad to say my boxes have been pretty damn insecure up to this point, but it looks like I'll have a proper packet filtering system running here momentarily.

I found out on Tuesday that I have two weeks to put together three days of technology training for the faculty at Feinstein. There should be no problem filling three days with important training and discussion. Since I want to demo some network applications before I really have time to put the network together (or before we get the computers) we're going to do the training at Fortes Elementary with their gear. I'm going to set up a Zope server, since that is a quick way to get a lot of different things working and it will give me a good test of the actual practicality of using Zope.

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday at AS220 working on figuring out the best way to install Zope on my iMac, since it looks like the best computer for me to commandeer at Feinstein for the moment is a blue G3. The project gave me an excuse to buy and install MacOS X. It cleanly installed on top of my existing OS 9 files & the online updating utility worked well (unlike the previous versions). I'll just say that I've never seen an OS that puts as heavy a load on a processor even when it is doing nothing.

Anyhow, there is something weird about the C compiler in OS X that I can't fathom, and I wasn't able to get Python to compile cleanly (the binaries generally don't support threads, which Zope needs). So I had to give up on that and switch to Debian PPC, which is a more familiar OS, if you can live with the weirdness of running it on Apple hardware. Not being able to eject cd's etc isn't such a problem if you are just running a server, and I finally got Zope running this morning.

That's my status...

Spent much of the weekend messing with Peerkat and Zope and xml. Got on the peerkat mailing list (on yahoogroups.com) and found the answers to some problems. Peerkat only takes rss 1.0 feeds, which few places are using. There is a url that'll do the conversion on the fly for you, though.

I have been working on tweaking xpilot settings and maps to keep the kids entertained in the classroom when they are done with their work, as we creep toward the end of the school year. Teamplay is complicated, however, and not well documented.

I'm entering an attack phase, I'm learning lots of stuff every day, and I need to start writing down what I'm doing. Today, however, I'm sick, and feeling slowed down. Nonetheless, I downloaded peerkat, which is a new peer-to-peer version of meerkat. I was just trying out the meerkat product for Zope yesterday. I want to learn how to use RSS and meerkat to help bring more content on to community and school sites, to draw more eyes.

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