Entries Tagged as 'Software'

Compression

There are two distinct features that Windows Server 2008 outshines Linux on; and both are centric on compression.

For a very long time Microsoft has supported transparent compression as a part of NTFS; you can designate on a file-by-file or directory level what parts of the file system are compressed by the operating system (applications need do nothing to use compressed files).  This feature was probably originally intended to save the disk foot print of seldom used files; however, with the explosive growth in computing power what’s happened is that compressed files can often be read and decompressed much faster from a disk than a uncompressed file can.  Of course, if you’re modifying say a byte or two in the middle of a compressed file over and over, it might not be a good idea to mark it as compressed — but if you’re basically reading the file sequentially then compression may dramatically increase the overall performance of the system.

The reason for this increase is easy to understand; many files can be compressed ten to one (or better), that means each disk read is reading effectively ten times the information, and for a modern, multi-core, single-instruction/multiple-data capable processor to decompress this stream of data put no appreciable burden on the processing unit(s).

Recently, with SMBv2, Microsoft has expanded the file sharing protocol to be able to transport a compressed data stream, or even a differential data stream (Remote Differential Compression – RDC) rather than necessarily having to send every byte of the file.  This also has the effect of often greatly enhancing the effect data rate, since once again a modern, multi-core, single-instruction/multiple-data capable processor can compress (and decompress) a data stream at a much higher rate than most any network fabric can transmit the data (the exception would be 10G).  In cases of highly constrained networks, or networks with extremely high error rates the increase in effect through put could be staggering.

Unfortunately, Linux lags behind in both areas.

Ext4 does not include transparent compression; and currently no implementation of SMBv2 is available for Linux servers (or clients).

While there’s no question, what-so-ever, that the initial cost of a high performance server is less if Linux is chosen as the operating system, the “hidden” costs of lacking compression may make the total cost of ownership harder to determine.

Supporting transparent compression in a file system is merely a design criteria for a new file system (say Ext5 or Ext4.1); however, supporting SMBv2 will be much more difficult since (unlike SMBv1) it is a closed/proprietary file sharing protocol.

Originally posted 2010-07-11 02:00:49.

Revise Windows XP “Home” Directory Structure

I gave this “tool” to a few of my friends a couple weeks ago and many of them thought it was kewl (a few even though it was useful).

It’s a fairly simple batch file that uses LINKD (which is also in the 7z file) from the Microsoft Windows Resource Kit (technically you need to download the resource kit to get it) that creates a junction point (that is a type of reparse point in the Windows NTFS file system that causes a redirection much like a “hard link” in many *nix file systems).  I could have used the MKLINK executable that ships with Windows, but I prefer LINKD.

OK — enough techo-babble…

What it does is make the “home” directory structure on Windows XP look more like it does on Windows Vista and Windows 7… so that you don’t have to keep thinking about which system you’re on.  No reason to write one for Windows Vista and Windows 7 to make it look like Windows XP since Microsoft generates the Windows XP style links on install (and that’s where I got the idea).

So…

C:\Documents and Setting can be referenced by C:\Users

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents can be referenced by C:\Users\Administrator\Documents

Etc… I do the same for Downloads, Pictures, Music, Videos (if the My… exists).

I’ve tested it on both Windows XP and on Server 2003, seems to work just fine; but there’s no guarantee (read that as no warranty expressed or implied); code check the batch file for yourself.

The “tool” can be downloaded in a 7zip archive via: MkLinks

Originally posted 2009-11-25 01:00:28.

Dynamic IP Filtering (Black Lists)

There are a number of reasons why you might want to use a dynamic black list of IP addresses to prevent your computer from connecting to or being connect to by users on the Internet who might not have your best interests at heart…

Below are three different dynamic IP filtering solutions for various operating systems; each of them are open source, have easy to use GUIs, and use the same filter list formats (and will download those lists from a URL or load them from a file).

You can read a great deal more about each program and the concepts of IP blocking on the web pages associated with each.

Originally posted 2010-08-17 02:00:55.

Free Software!

Let me start off by saying that there is a lot of free software available for just about every popular operating system that works well, is well written, and straight forward to use.

Let me also point out that a lot of free software is free because is simply couldn’t be sold — yes it’s that bad (of course there is a lot of commercial software that is on the market that shouldn’t be sold; but that’s another rant).

I have a favorite saying:

You rarely get what you pay for.

And with free software that could be taken to mean, it almost always ends up costing you…

I always recommend that you read up on software before you use it; and try to read comments written by someone with similar computer skills and goals as you have.  Then ask yourself the simple questions “do you need the software” and “do you have something that already does the same thing that works”.

If you just want to play with a piece of software, consider using a virtual machine to try it out and then discard the changes; and I always try out a piece of software in a virtual machine even if I’m fairly sure it’s something I want.

I maintain a list of products (free and for pay) on my web site that I consider worth using…

It’s rare that I have any problems with any of my computers — and that’s mainly because I don’t “junk” them up with lots of software I never will use and don’t need… and keep in mind — COMPUTER PROBLEMS are one of the costs of installing software.

Originally posted 2008-12-17 12:00:43.

The new SPAMmer in town — Apple Computer, Inc

Last week I wanted to update my Mac Pro to the newest version of OS-X, it’s free after all…

So powered up my Mac, let it apply all the updates for the software I had on it; then I went to the App Store to download OS-X Version 10.9 “Mavericks”.

When I tried to use my Apple ID to log in, the system told me that it had been deactivated; when went through the rats maze of information I ended up needing to call Apple Support.

I got through in about two minutes, which was impressive until I was connected to a person who barely could speak intelligible English (if English was her native language I’d consider her near illiterate). After what seemed like an eternity of back and forth (the human version of the electronic rats maze I’d just been subjected to), she told me that she would not be able to re-activate my account… after that I ask to speak to her supervisor.

I don’t know how long the hold was, but it was long, and long enough to put us past the operating time for support — the phone clicked (I could tell a person had answered), and I was immediately disconnected.

Great service Apple — the only other places recently I’ve found websites as poorly done and customer service as clueless is HealthCare.gov…

Since service was now closed, and I couldn’t get another call through to Apple (I did schedule a call back for the next morning; which FYI — I never got, absolutely no record of any call attempt within an hour of the scheduled time) I decided to be creative with their recovery system.

Eventually I got a reset email (perhaps Apple’s recovery system takes a few hours to send an email — I don’t know — and I really don’t care).

I gained access to my account, changed my password as required (it indicated I couldn’t change my password to my previous password — so in fact it wasn’t that I had forgotten my credentials, the account really had been deactivated).

Finally, after several hours I was able to “purchase” Mavericks from the App Store (as an aside — what happened to the cat motif ) and start the install.  I just went to sleep, it was way later that I had expected to be up.

While it really miffed me that Apple decided to deactivate my account (no one could really tell me why) and made it so difficult for me to re-activate it (and threw a horrendous web site and clueless customer service in my face) but what really pissed me off is that Apple automatically subscribed me to their f’ing mailing lists.

WTF???

I don’t want $#!+ from Apple – unless you’re giving me something to get your f’ing marketing crap I don’t want it — and I (and the laws of the State of California — where Apple is based) would classify it as SPAM.

All I can say is Wall Street isn’t the only one who’s becoming disillusioned with Apple.

Originally posted 2013-10-29 16:00:04.

NetBeans for C/C++ on Windows

 

I’ve been a fan of the NetBeans environment for developing for a long time.  Yes, there’s a great deal of resistance to it because it’s not OpenSource (it’s an Oracle sponsored project), but it’s free for Windows, OS-X, and Linux.

Many think NetBeans is only an IDE for Java development.  That’s definitely not the case.  NetBeans will do Java, HTML5, C/C++, Fortan, Groovy, PHP, and many more (with plug-ins)… and works with both Tomcat and GlassFish (GlassFish is actually bundled with several NetBeans packages — but you do not have to install it if you’re not going to use it).

NetBeans is written in Java, and you need not only a JRE (runtime), but also a JDK (development kit)… on Java.com (also an Oracle project — they purchased Sun) you can download bundles for many operating systems including JRE, JDK, and NetBeans (you can also install them individually).

Getting NetBeans and C/C++ to work on Linux is a snap, you just need your development tools setup before you install / run NetBeans.  I’d considered install on Windows pretty straight forward as well, but since I’ve helped two different people get it working in the last week, and several a few months ago I’m going to write a quick list of the steps involved.


 

While not all of these steps need to be done in the order I’m listing them in, unless you really know what you’re doing (and why would you be reading this if you already know how to make this work), just follow the steps.  If you have any problems getting this to work, use my contact page — I definitely want to improve my instructions (no — I’m not going to put screen shots and make it a guide for people who’ve never seen a computer before… it’s a development environment, so I’m working on the premise you either know C/C++ or you’re taking a class in it).

At the end of the article are some links that might help (please search the internet if the links are broken).

  1. Download and install the latest JRE (or the one you’ve been told to if taking a class).
  2. Download and install the latest JDK (or the one you’ve been told to / matches the JRE).
  3. Download and install the latest NetBeans full package (it’s the right most column, if you’re worried about disk space, don’t install GlassFish).
  4. Download and install MinGW in C:\MinGW
  5. Run the mingw-get-setup.exe file and select the C++ compiler, development environment, MSYS
    base (we’ll install the rest in the next step).
  6. Download and install MSYS into C:\MinGW\msys\1.0 (watch the navigation pane to insure you don’t get an extra 1.0 in the path).  Let the install “normalize” (that’ll remove duplicate copies of tools.
  7. Add the following to the Windows path (you will need admin rights — if you don’t have admin rights then you’ll have to launch NetBeans through a batch file that adds them to the windows path before executing NetBeans).
    • c:\MinGW\bin
    • c:\MinGW\MSys\1.0\bin
  • Launch NetBeans and do the following:
    • tools->plugins
      insure C++ is installed/enabled
    • tools->preferences->C++
      if necessary add the MinGW toolchain and accept defauls (NetBeans should locate all the required components).
  • Now just create a “Hello World” project and insure that it works.

 


 

Originally posted 2015-02-07 15:00:29.

gOS – Nothing but ‘Net

Strike two — another candidate falls by the way side.  Don’t worry, this isn’t baseball so I’m not feeling the pressure of striking out (just yet).

gOS is a descent Linux distribution, and it works — in fact it works nicely.

The applications that come bundles are heavily dependent on Google; and it really doesn’t follow the Mac look and feel very completely (you would have to scab on a better theme and my feeling is that way too advanced for the target audience). 

gOS is also missing most every multimedia capability that an average user would want.  That’s allegedly to avoid legal issues in many countries, but the fact of the matter is if you can’t play a DVD or most video and audio streams a person is likely to find it’s just not an acceptable OS for the general public.

If you want something fairly basic that works when you install it and doesn’t require much fussing, but you’re not interested in multimedia this might be a reasonable choice; but you’re probably better off to stick with a distribution that doesn’t carry the weight of Ubuntu (something derived directly from Debian or built from scratch).

gOS

Originally posted 2010-01-05 01:00:48.

7-Zip Archiver

I was shocked to learn that everyone doesn’t know aobut 7-Zip!!!

Z-Zip is a very good archive utility for Windows; from the 7-Zip web site:

  • High compression ratio in new 7z format with LZMA compression
  • Supported formats:
    • Packing / unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR
    • Unpacking only: RAR, CAB, ISO, ARJ, LZH, CHM, MSI, WIM, Z, CPIO, RPM, DEB and NSIS
  • For ZIP and GZIP formats, 7-Zipprovides a compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than the ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip
  • Strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats
  • Self-extracting capability for 7z format
  • Integration with Windows Shell
  • Powerful File Manager
  • Powerful command line version
  • Plugin for FAR Manager
  • Localizations for 69 languages

Other than supporting almost any and every format a Windows user is likely to encounter, it’s support for LZMA compression (one of the absolute best general compression algorithms around — only BZIP2 is even a close competitor) gives you the ability to create small archives for upload, email, etc.

Originally posted 2008-12-18 12:00:21.

Microsoft BizSpark

 A program that provides Software, Support and Visibility for Software Startups.

 If your business developes software, is privately held, is less than three years old, and makes less than $1M US annually… you might qualify for greatly discounted (or nearly free) Microsoft software.

For more information, check out the requirements on the Microsoft® BizSpark web page.

Microsoft® BizSpark

Originally posted 2009-11-17 01:00:01.

Windows Live Writer

Part of the Microsoft Live Essential software suite available either from Live.com (see link below) or through the Microsoft Update is Live Writer; a simple tool to make posting to a BLOG easier (certainly for novice BLOG posters).

Live Writer will post to Live BLOGs or to a number of other BLOG engines / sites (including WordPress).

This post was create with Live Write (though a few settings were edited after posting to keep everything consistent with the way I publish to my BLOG).

With Live Writer, you can post formatted text, hyperlinks, pictures, photo albums, tables, maps, videos, etc… you can use a clean easy UI on your computer rather than logging into your BLOGs and using a different interface on each of the sites you have an account on.

The only thing that doesn’t seem to work are:

  • WordPress categories and the tagging is different.  If you have an existing BLOG there’s now way I’ve found using just Live Writer to use categories and post tags in a WordPress fashion.
  • The ability to schedule a posting for a later date and time.  I haven’t found any way with just Live Writer to schedule a post for a later date and time.

For both of these you can log into your BLOG site after posting and make the minor setting changes.

The ability to create a BLOG post in a WYSIWYG fashion is certainly helpful for many.  You see the post much as it will look when published (with the background and text styles), you get spelling check as you type, and manipulating rich content is substantially easier than the default WordPress editor.

Windows Live Essentials

Originally posted 2009-11-23 01:00:21.