Monday, April 30, 2007

slashtime - handy and powerful

Due to nature of my work, time to time I need to know the current time in different timezones. I was scared when I saw various applications on my colleagues desktops consuming megabytes of memory, slowing down startup of laptops and the money its costs. Luckily for Unix likers there is simple perl script called slashtime. Get it here, save it to /usr/local/bin and make it executable. Then edit ~/.tzlist (sample file is on the webpage as well) to suit your needs and then anytime you need to know:Small but handy and powerful.

Monday, April 23, 2007

endless webpages are here

Being fan of aggregators like I've always enjoyed that I do not have to search all the posters blog manually. Sometimes when not visiting the planet websites I might have skipped few news in the area but this is over now. Recently when reading, I scrolled down to last few posts and was ready to jump on other area I'm interested in but then I saw this AJAX fancy animations saying "loading 125 of 8353". And second after I was right back in the middle of the page. This is almost scary and I guess others (i.e. will follow soon. Internet just got a way bigger.

Friday, April 13, 2007

more on gentoo

This is reply to this post by Alexandre Buisse.

Hi, this is really good piece of vision. You are right that there is lack of direction. I have to say I agree to most of what you've written, let me get through a bit other point of view on gentoo.

I love gentoo, but I spend to much of my time just building it. What I miss is some rapid deployment of gentoo. Not everybody enjoys compiling from source especially when you have multiple gentoo boxes deployed and mostly you compile the same stuff all the time. Hence focus on binary packages is important. At the moment with my friend we built some scripts and processes around gentoo that allows us to have two compiling machines and many binary-only deployed machines. But it is not polished and cumbersome in many ways (and I'm sure others have done it better). For example we hit hard problems when we needed different flags per machine. No fun there.

This problem led me back to gentoo mailing lists and the discovery of paludis and all the not so cool status of current gentoo development at the moment. From my point of view, there are some devs that are not behaving accordingly to others view of nice a polite behavior. Ok. But I see they are also trying to do some nice things like write alternative to portage and fix current issues gentoo have. Btw complete rewrite of apps from zero once in a time is a good practice. I couldn't even finish reading the thread based on which Daniel decided to leave again, to me that thread was about arguing about small things. But lets skip this my incomplete picture of things.

Another thing I miss is virtualization in gentoo. Would it be possible to somehow project gentoo that some core system (lets say XEN or KVM enabled) exits and then there are binary stage4s (again XEN or KVM enabled) ready to be deployed with customized setup? This means webserver, intranet server ( apache+wiki+ldap ready), backend server (samba+printing+LDAP+MAIL......), you name it. I guess here it is almost perfectly aligned with overlays.

Monday, April 9, 2007

3D desktop management, not ready yet

Three months ago, when I decided to give those 3D eye candy stuff a try, I couldn't work out Compiz so Beryl was installed and since that it occupies my desktop. Well occupied, I've just turned it off today. After some hype period when I enjoyed those 3D effects I've started to turn them off. I like the 3D cube, but the overall number of effects turned on by default kills the experience. For example those wobbly windows are really nice to see but not so cool to have it on all the time. There are still some features that actually makes the work-flow a bit harder compared to classical 2D management (I'm referring to semi transparent windows when they lose focus). I know these can be turned off, but this makes you go through huge list in Beryl menu (now I have to admit this seems to be easier with each release of Beryl).

On the bright side, the performance is great. On my Intel915 integrated VGA everything runs smooth up to 1024x768 and is still usable in 1280x1024. I was really surprised in a nice way, specially when a friend of mine told that Vista has those "wow" features as well but requires way more power to do that. Btw anybody running Vista? It has been out for few months and I still haven't seen it. Perhaps there is something true about Paul Graham's statement Microsoft is dead.

Anyway, 3D management is coming, no doubt about it. All is needed is better selection of default plugins turned on by default and it is back on my laptop for sure. Lets wait and see what brings recent announcement of merge between Compiz and Beryl projects. And why not give Metisse a try? It comes with latest Mandriva which can be obtained as a flash memory disk. True Plug and Play.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

tests in Perl are easy and funny

and it used to be my nightmare. Many times I see my self scared of things that are actually easy. Probably problem in my head. I used to think that anything new is way above my limits. With this in mind actual learning takes a lot longer and in the end I many times scratch my head that it wasn't that hard. So let's change this attitude and move on to Perl tests.

I've touched Perl first time in my current job where something more powerful than bash scripting was needed to automate all we do. Firstly we had some easy perl scripts doing one task, spread around the boxes. Soon we've realized this is not going to be maintainable. Took some time and learned how to write Perl modules. There are many great articles on the web that tells you how, this one is sounds like nice summary to me.
Today I've decided and went one step further and write tests (I know they should be written in first place, but hey at least I'm writing documentation first).

So I went to perldoc Test::More and after some reading this line has stopped me:
"STOP! If you’re just getting started writing tests, have a look at Test::Simple first."
Ok, move on to perldoc Test::Simple :

"** If you are unfamiliar with testing read Test::Tutorial first! **"

And finally this seems like the one to start. First sentence there is:

" AHHHHHHH!!!! NOT TESTING! Anything but testing!
Beat me, whip me, send me to Detroit, but don’t make me write tests!
Besides, I don’t know how to write the damned things.".

I feel like home now, anyway don't let that scare you, writing tests in Perl is actually easy in the end.