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I’m not sure I trust Canonical…

I received this email from Canonical (the company that supports Ubuntu) yesterday (I’ve neutered the anchor on the link)

From: landscape-team@canonical.com
Subject: You have been invited to the Landscape account canonica
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 12:07:48 +0000 (GMT)

You’ve been invited to the following Landscape account:

Canonical – candidates (canonica).

Please click the following URL to accept the invitation:

https://landscape.canonical.com/accept-invitation/GvEf6S0tBkpWD0YOcH8NQsKAe2Yh5H

Then a few hours later I received this email (I’ve removed hard breaks so that it reads a little easier as a blockquote)

From: Jamshed Kakar <landscape-manager@canonical.com>
Subject: Apology for mistaken ‘Canonical Landscape Invitation’ email
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 20:03:23 +0000 (GMT)

Hi,

A few hours ago one of our systems accidentally sent you an invitation for a trial account in Landscape.  The invitation was sent to you by mistake as a result of incorrect data in our contact database.

We’re working hard to ensure that this sort of thing won’t happen again.  Please accept our sincere apologies for this accident.

Regards,
Jamshed Kakar
Landscape Project Manager

The only conclusion that I can draw is that information I used to apply for a job with Canonical a month ago or so was mishandled and made available for (mis)use by others in the company.  Given that this has happened (clearly my information has been mishandled) it raises a concern as to how much Canoncial can be trusted handling any potentially sensitive or personal information…

Consider credit card numbers provided to them for support; contact information for sales or employment… the list goes on.

My advice — don’t trust any company with personal information that can obviously not be trusted to properly handle and safe guard that information.

I have requested that Canonical immediately remove any and all of my personal information from all of their databases (I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable being employed by or doing business with such a company), maybe you should do the same.

Originally posted 2010-03-24 01:30:17.

Relativity

Einstein theorized that time wasn’t constant — that it was effected by both relativistic frames of motion (velocity) and gravity.

Now scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, US have measured variances in  with unprecedented accuracy.

I seriously doubt we’re any closer to The Time Machine HG Wells envisioned and certainly the proof probably won’t meet with as much skepticism as On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.

Originally posted 2010-09-28 02:00:50.

Spring Forward – Fall Back

Today Daylight Savings Time ends in every state of the US except Hawaii — that’s the only US state (in it’s entirety) that does not observe Daylight Savings Time; the time zone, HAST (Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time; UTC-10) — of course the Aleutian Islands (Alaska) were on HADT until just a bit ago…

If you’re thinking I’m wrong because you believe Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time you’d be partially correct… but since the Navajo Nation does observe Daylight Savings Time, and it’s located within the boundaries of the state of Arizona, the state in it’s entirety wouldn’t meet the condition of my assertion.

Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa also do not observe Daylight Savings Time, but they aren’t states (they’re possessions) so they also fail to me the conditions of my assertion.

And fortunately for everyone the wacky system Indiana used for a very long time vanished in 2005 when the entire state began observing Daylight Saving Time.

Generally Benjamin Franklin is credited with the idea of Daylight Savings Time… but his plan technically called for the shifting of working hours, not the changing of the clocks — the actual concept of changing the clocks is generally attributed to William Willett (England) in 1907 — but the plan wasn’t adopted until World War I.

While the US observed daylight savings time during World War I, the law was quickly repealed after the end of the war (1919); it was re-established during World War II, used year round in 1973-1974 (Energy Crisis), and finally fixed by law in 1987 to insure consistency among states, then expanded in duration in 2005 (it’s not mandatory that a state observe Daylight Savings Time, only the start / end dates are set by Federal law if a state so chooses to observe Daylight Savings Time).

Personally, I think Daylight Savings Time, and Time Zones are an albatross that we simply do not need any longer; you’d have though with the redefining of measurements by the Metric System we’d have addressed the bizarre way in which humans measure the passage of time, and reference it by the calendar.

Originally posted 2010-11-07 02:00:06.

Virtualization Best Practices, Selecting A Vitualization Solution

This will be the first in a multi-part posting.

I use Microsoft Virtual Server on my PCs for virtualization, and I use VMware on my Macs (I used to use Parallels, but it got to be too expensive to keep paying for updates, and when VMware attempts to charge for an update I’ll probably switch to VirtualBox on my Macs); but most everything I have to say here will apply to any virtualization solution you might choose to use.

When you evaluate a virtual solution, you need to look at a number of requirements and features and decide which is right for you:

  • Cost, that’s the initial cost of acquisition, plus updates
  • Hardware requirements, some virtualization solutions require machines with hardware vitualization (most modern processor have that, but not all), some do not — some only require it for 64-bit virtualization.
  • What type of host operating systems are supported (that’s the operating system you will run the virtualization software on, and install guest operating systems).
  • What type of guest operating systems are supported (and what guest operating systems are known to work).
  • How reliable the solution is on the particular host you’re interested in, and how reliably it runs the guests you’re most interested in.
  • How easy the solution is to use, and how well it fits into the host you’ve chosen (software that runs on lots of different hosts may not be engineered to fit the paradigm of your host well, it may look and act the same on all hosts — which really is of no value unless you’re running it on lots of different hosts, in general you should prefer a solution that looks and works like the other software your use).
  • Whether the system supports 64-bit and 32-bit virtualization or only 32-bit virtualization; and whether you need 64-bit virtualization or not.
  • What type of network connectivity the virtualization solution provides (NAT, bridged, etc), and what type you need.
  • The performance of the network virtualization, and how important the performance might be.
  • What type of storage virtualization the solution provides, and what you need.
  • The performance of the storage virtualization, and how important the performance might be.
  • Does the storage system support undo disks, checkpoints, snapshots, etc, and what do you need.
  • What type of device virtualization the solution provides, and what you need.
  • The performance of the core virtualization (and how important slight differences in performance might be).
  • What type of management tools exists, and what you need.

The above list will get your started on evaluating the relative merits of different virtualization solutions.  My recommendation is start with a solution that’s free and try it out, if you find it doesn’t seem to fit your needs, then try solutions that offer a trial period.  And when you identify things you like or don’t like, go back and look at the free solution and compare it again.  Often you will find after getting a broader experience base things look different, and you shouldn’t just stop with the last one you looked at — you should reassess the less expensive alternatives you dismissed.

One final word, don’t install multiple virtualization solutions on a single machine.  Remove the previous software you were looking at (you can retain the virtual machines), reboot, and install the new software.

The next postings will cover basic operating, maintenance, and some ways to make management easier.

Originally posted 2009-01-13 12:39:01.

XML Notepad 2007

If you’re a Windows user, IE 7 does a great job of displaying XML files, but unless you have Visual Studio or Expression Web you don’t really have a decent XML editor (and those really aren’t designed to do XML edits).

Microsoft, though has XML Notepad 2007, a free download that runs on 32 and 64 bit Windows — and it’s a great editor for XML and supports XLST — here’s an excerpt from the download page:

Overview

Handy features include:
  • Tree View synchronized with Node Text View for quick editing of node names and values.
  • Incremental search (Ctrl+I) in both tree and text views, so as you type it navigates to matching nodes.
  • Cut/copy/paste with full namespace support.
  • Drag/drop support for easy manipulation of the tree, even across different instances of XML Notepad and from the file system.
  • Infinite undo/redo for all edit operations.
  • In place popup multi-line editing of large text node values.
  • Configurable fonts and colors via the options dialog.
  • Full find/replace dialog with support for regex and XPath.
  • Good performance on large XML documents, loading a 3mb document in about one second.
  • Instant XML schema validation while you edit with errors and warnings shown in the task list window.
  • Intellisense based on expected elements and attributes and enumerated simple type values.
  • Support for custom editors for date, dateTime and time datatypes and other types like color.
  • Handy nudge tool bar buttons for quick movement of nodes up and down the tree.
  • Inplace HTML viewer for processing xml-stylesheet processing instructions.
  • Built-in XML Diff tool.
  • Support for XInclude
  • Dynamic help from XSD annotations.
  • Goto definition to navigate includes and XSD schema information.

 

You can download version 2.5 from:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=72D6AA49-787D-4118-BA5F-4F30FE913628&displaylang=en

Originally posted 2008-08-14 20:36:29.

JustHost.com POP / IMAP / SMTP Settings

POP:
host: mail.<yourdomain>
host: <yourhost>.justhost.com
port: 110
port: 995, SSL

IMAP:
host: mail.<yourdomain>
host:<yourhost> .justhost.com
port: 143
port: 993, SSL

SMTP:
host: mail.<yourdomain> (requires authentication)
host: <yourhost>.justhost.com
port: 25
port: 2626
port: 465, SSL

WEB MAIL:
url: https://<yourdomain>:2096
url: https://<yourhost>.justhost.com:2096


NOTES:

  • SSL: you will need to accept the self signed certificate; some mail readers do not allow you to retain self signed certificates, so you will need to do that each and every time a connection (or initial connection) is made.
  • SMTP: requires authentication; also you ISP may block port 25 (which is why port 2626 is also supported).
  • <yourhost> would be something like cl111 so for example cl111.justhost.com
  • <yourdomain> would be something like mydomain.com so for example mail.mydomain.com

Originally posted 2010-03-05 02:00:49.

Dick Cheney complains about lying in the White House

The Washington Post has an amusing video to a statement Dick Cheney made in reference to the White House lying with respect to the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (oddly he never expressed a similar feeling about White House lying while he was in office).

 

December 10, 2013 7:52 PM EST — The former V.P. is offended of being lied to about Obamacare (The Washington Post)


 

Originally posted 2013-12-11 18:00:41.

Linux – Desktop Search

A while ago I published a post on Desktop Search on Linux (specifically Ubuntu).  I was far from happy with my conclusions and I felt I needed to re-evaluate all the options to see which would really perform the most accurate search against my information.

Primarily my information consists of Microsoft Office documents, Open Office documents, pictures (JPEG, as well as Canon RAW and Nikon RAW), web pages, archives, and email (stored as RFC822/RFC2822 compliant files with an eml extension).

My test metrics would be to take a handful of search terms which I new existed in various types of documents, and check the results (I actually used Microsoft Windows Search 4.0 to prepare a complete list of documents that matched the query — since I knew it worked as expected).

The search engines I tested were:

I was able to install, configure, and launch each of the applications.  Actually none of them were really that difficult to install and configure; but all of them required searching through documentation and third party sites — I’d say poor documentation is just something you have to get used to.

Beagle, Google, Tracker, Pinot, and Recoll all failed to find all the documents of interest… none of them properly indexed the email files — most of the failed to handle plain text files; that didn’t leave a very high bar to pick a winner.

Queries on Strigi actually provided every hit that the same query provided on Windows Search… though I have to say Windows Search was easier to setup and use.

I tried the Neopomuk (KDE) interface for Strigi — though it just didn’t seem to work as well as strigiclient did… and certainly strigiclient was pretty much at the top of the list for butt-ugly, user-hostile, un-intuitive applications I’d ever seen.

After all of the time I’ve spent on desktop search for Linux I’ve decided all of the search solutions are jokes.  None of them are well thought out, none of them are well executed, and most of them out right don’t work.

Like most Linux projects, more energy needs to be focused on working out a framework for search than everyone going off half-cocked and creating a new search paradigm.

The right model is…

A single multi-threaded indexer running in the background indexing files according to a system wide policy aggregated with user policies (settable by each user on directories they own) along with the access privileges.

A search API that takes the user/group and query to provide results for items that the user has (read) access to.

The indexer should be designed to use plug-in modules to handle particular file types (mapped both by file extension, and by file content).

The index should also be designed to use plug-in modules for walking a file system and receiving file system change events (that allows the framework to adapt as the Linux kernel changes — and would support remote indexing as well).

Additionally, the index/search should be designed with distributed queries in mind (often you want to search many servers, desktops, and web locations simultaneously).

Then it becomes a simple matter for developers to write new/better indexer plug-ins; and better search interfaces.

I’ve pointed out in a number of recent posts that you can effective use Linux as a server platform in your business; however, it seems that if search is a requirement you might want to consider ponying up the money for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and enjoy seamless search (that works) between your Windows Vista / Windows 7 Desktops and Windows Server.

REFERENCES:

Ubuntu – Desktop Search

Originally posted 2010-07-16 02:00:19.

Just Host

As I posted a couple weeks ago I’d gone ahead and moved some of my domains over to JustHost.com.

Mainly I was looking for an affordable hosting package that supports server side includes in addition to what I already had at 1and1.com for around same price.  I also wanted unlimited bandwidth (but frankly I could have gotten that at 1and1.com with a cross-grade for just a small amount more per month with no hassle).

The way I started looking for a new host was to find some the “10 best” “50 best” or what ever they happened to be articles on the internet for hosting companies.  I read through them, looked at their current offerings, features, and prices.  The ones I felt were interesting I looked for reviews on the internet and read them.

Reviews from people you don’t know are not necessarily valuable.  Read the review, see what they’re saying, see how they’re saying, and see if their needs and abilities closely ally with yours.  And look for a pattern in reviews — if many people say the same thing, it’s far more likely to be true and not simply an isolated incident.

Once I narrowed down the field to a handful I reviewed any demos they offered of their control panel, features, etc.  If they didn’t have any demo I placed them on the bottom of the list.

Then I tried their online “chat” feature to talk to a pre-sales person.  If they didn’t offer an online chat I placed them on the bottom of the list (the very bottom — online chat is more important in the long run than a demo).

For the chat, I asked a few questions that there were in fact answers to on their site (just to see how quickly the person on the other end could provide me with a response, and if their response agreed).  Then I ask any questions that I had that were not addressed by the site.  Finally I ask one question that would require the person to actually think and apply the information on their site to the context of the question.

After that I decided on going with JustHost.com — they seemed like they provided the best package, best support, and most reasonable price.  When I went to order the package they offered me a better price when I was going to navigate away from the order page to check on a couple things.

I’ve moved all my domains over to JustHost.com; I’ve put an affiliate advertisement for JustHost.com on my web page and my BLOG (if you’re going to order service from them, I encourage you to click on the advertisement on here so as to help defray the costs for maintaining my BLOG — and hopefully growing it; it won’t cost you anything).

Things I don’t like…

  • They have the concept of a “primary” domain; which makes all domains but that reside under the primary in the directory structure.
  • They do not allow direct access to DNS on shared packages.
  • Shell access is extra (quite a bit extra) per year.  It would have been a “nice to have”, but I didn’t need it, and didn’t pay for it.
  • PHP5 doesn’t work by default in subdomains.
  • Databases are on the same machine as web servers.  I know this is very common, but I prefer databases to be on database servers and web servers to be separate.  This item is on the end of the list for a reason.

But…

  • They will allow you to use a “fake” domain (I did a subdomain of their domain) as your primary, which makes all domains equal, but if you want to access the root you have to use the host name where your hosting account files are located rather than your domain name (you could have them enter a CNAME for you if you like, but if you forget the host name just do a trace route to one of your domain’s web addresses and you’ll see it).
  • While you don’t have direct access to DNS, they will enter DNS records for you — CNAME I know (they did that for me); and I expect they’ll do TXT, A, etc.
  • To enable PHP5 in a subdomain you just need to add a couple lines to your .htaccess file (the service representative didn’t know them right off the top of his head; but after confirming it should work, I had no problem).

Things I do like…

  • The price is very reasonable for a unlimited shared hosting package.
  • Customer support is great; the people who’ve chatted with me or replied to my tickets have been extremely courteous and have resolved the issue.
  • Server side include support.  It really is nice to be able to have dynamic content that is provided by the server rather than have to have intricate AJAX requests (and faster).
  • Performance.  Thus far I can’t complain about the performance.
  • IMAP, POP, SMTP email both clear text and SSL versions.  SMTP is offered on alternate ports as well for individuals who’s ISP block access to port 25.

I often say..

Rarely do you get what you pay for.

With JustHost.com you may in fact get what you pay for (and maybe more).

Originally posted 2010-02-07 01:00:29.

You’ll find “it” at Fry’s…

One of well known slogans from Fry’s Electronics… but from what I’ve seen over the past 25 years all you’re really likely to find at Fry’s is pathetic customer service (maybe that’s the “it” they’re talking about).

Sure, Fry’s tends to have good prices on their lost leaders (their normal prices are just retail)… and if they put it in their ad you can get it from any one of a number of other retailers at the same price (or better) by exercising a competitor’s price match policies and not have to deal with the horrendously bad experience of walking through the doors of a Bay Area Fry’s (Fry’s in other parts of the country actually have reasonable customer service… though I’m still not sure I would want to reward a company that trusts it’s employees almost as little as it trusts it’s customers and locks up completely random selections of items in order to force you to get a “quote” and have to deal with  even more incompetent employees).

For me I’ve decided I just will not buy at Fry’s… and when more people reach the same conclusion that if you stop supporting businesses that don’t deserve customers businesses with have to care about consumers and won’t do what ever they feel they can get away with.

After all… I’ve had to sue Fry’s a number of times in small claims court (and won); and they’ve lost a number of much larger law suits.  Is that the kind of business you want to encourage?

Originally posted 2008-08-31 18:54:49.