"Solaris 9 for Dummies" is slashdotted!Thanks to the kind folk at slashdot for posting a great review of my book Solaris 9 for Dummies on their site. The review has many good things to say about the book, including the summary quote:
" Solaris 9 For Dummies ... is just a good book for the Solaris newbies, plain and simple."There's much more to the review, and the usual crufty and marginally on-topic discussion by the slashdot audience, but it's well worth reading if you've been wondering what a book like Solaris 9 for Dummies would cover.
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My love affair with Network SolutionsI know I'm not the first person to grumble about Network Solutions and be upset that they continue to have a government-endorsed monopoly in their ownership of the domain registry database, but the latest wave from them is really something. I still have two domains registered directly with them, and as a result, I occasionally get email from them. Today's missive:
"ICANN requires domain name registration customers to keep their WHOIS contact information current. ICANN mandates that outdated contact information can be grounds for domain name cancellation. To comply with this requirement, we periodically request that customers verify, and if necessary, update their account records."Seems fair and reasonable, right? Well, other than the fact that there's the threat of outdated contact information being grounds for losing a domain name without any definition of what 'outdated' means. Is that information that hasn't been updated in 12 months? 6? A physical mailing address that bounces?
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AnswerSquad: tech support for the rest of usYou probably have questions about your applications and computing environment, but haven't known where to turn. Or, perhaps you've paid lots of money to get access to Microsoft / Adobe / Apple / Macromedia or similar, just to have them say "um, that sounds like an OS problem" or "I don't see that as a problem with our application". Or you've tried to use net-based discussion forums, just to get the inevitable "read the manual" or "fix the code yourself" or, most frustratingly, "sounds like you need to call tech support!"
Now there's a much better alternative with AnswerSquad - staffed by a team of computer and technology experts who are also expert communicators. Please, check it out, see what you think, and feel free to comment here about it!
Harry Potter storms VietnamHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has landed in Vietnam, in an authorized translation by the Tre Publishing House, and it's quite interesting to learn that this, according to Publisher's Weekly and the Associated Press, marks the first time a communist country has put out an authorized translation. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese News Agency VNS reports that Ly Lan, a popular Vietnamese author, also translated the previous four Harry Potter books into Vietnamese. So, um, where's the international copyright protection guaranteed by WIPO?
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It was a dark and stormy night...The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is an annual competition for the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. SJSU has just announced this year's winners and I wanted to share two of my favorites:
"The Insect Keeper General, sitting astride his giant hovering aphid, surveyed the battlefield which reeked with the stench of decay and resonated with the low drone of the tattered and dying mutant swarms as their legs kicked forlornly at the sky before turning to his master and saying, 'My Lord, your flies are undone.'" -- Andrew Vincent
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Dean's Blog for America: A New Vision of American PoliticsIn the annals of American politics, open communication between voters and candidates has always been more of a theory than a reality. Until Governor Howard Dean, who not only has an extensive presence in the techie community, but who also has a fascinating weblog for his campaign: Dean for America.
The rhetoric on the weblog can be a bit thick at times, but there's a tremendously exciting sense of participation when you read the entries and comments from both supporters and (occasionally) detractors. it's politics in a form I've always wanted, where I can add my own two cents if I want to, and where we the voters actually have a voice. I haven't yet decided which candidate I'll support, but bravo, Governor Dean, for this exciting step forward in American political communication and outreach!
HP product lifespan: 18 months?I recently finished up my MBA program (hurray!) and one of the few technology purchases I made during the program was an HP 10BII financial calculator. Subsequent to that, I've had it sitting on my desk and have used it a total of maybe 10 hours. Which makes it quite a surprise that three of the twelve digits in the LCD display are failing on me already. It shouldn't be too hard for a calculator to display zeroes, right? Well, this is a product that needed more QA, as far as I can tell.
So... so I called HP support and talked with them about the problem. Their helpful response was "that's more than 12 months. Your cheapest solution is to just chuck it and buy a new one." Thanks, HP. I remember when Bill & Dave were still involved and they would have sent me a shiny new unit to keep me as a customer. But I can only assume that this is all Fiorina's new bean-counting approach to ensuring the company is profitable. I'm not impressed.
Helpful tip for Apple Safari usersIf you're a Mac OS X user who has found Safari a terrific Web browser, you're probably also aware of an annoying quirk in the aplication; it displays type that's so small that it's not legible. This might help pages render more faithfully when compared to their Windows brethren, but from a usability standpoint it's pretty annoying. Here's the good news: quit Safari, open your Terminal.app program, and type in:
defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKitMinimumFontSize 9
"Baghdad Blogger" signs book dealThis is hot off the Publisher's Weekly wire:
"Salam Pax, the web diarist known as the Baghdad Blogger, has been signed to a deal by Atlantic Books in the U.K., with parent Grove/Atlantic bringing out the book next fall in stateside. The paperback original is the "ultimately embedded" account of the second Gulf War and will feature a collection of Pax's pseudonymous postings. Pax was the blogger who wrote revealingly and comically of life in Baghdad, maintaining skepticism about both Saddam and the invading armies."Congratulations, Salam, and may this be an opportunity to not only present your experiences, but also your musings regarding bigger questions of the role of non-Arab nations in the region, the relationship between Iraq and Israel, effective government for the region, and more.
"Hacking" a book club membershipI admit it, I'm a sucker for books and really enjoy reading history books (though I didn't in school. Go figure). As a result, when I received a solicitation a few months ago to join the History Book Club I looked at the small print and decided that I could buy one book at full price in return for getting four books for $1. So I did.
The very next mailing I chose the least expensive book that sounded interesting (Measuring America, if you're curious. A very interesting book!) and bought it, completing my obligation to the club. But... these folks put a lot of effort into writing a pretty darn interesting little catalog and I enjoy reading it. Yet I don't want to miss a mailing and get a book by default while I'm out of town or otherwise engaged...
Oh don't exceed that crazy disk quota!Alright, if my son wasn't so darn cute, I'd have to send him off to China today. Last night he managed to make one of my Red Hat 10 install CDROMs vanish into thin air (I'm still looking for it!) just when I'd finally gotten Red Hat 9 to install and boot properly on my Gateway box (thanks Dee-Ann and Michael!).
So last night was a comedy of transfers. We're talking about a 634MB file that's needed to recreate the disk, so it's big. We finally settled on having a mutual colleague upload the necessary .iso image onto my server, which I'd then download it, delete it, and all would be well. Right?
An interesting use of IM toolsI have noticed in the last few weeks that my use of instant messaging tools has evolved into two separate and distinct types of interaction. The primary use is when the other party is also online and we type back and forth, chatting up a storm. Nothing new. But what's interesting is that I now also find myself having drawn-out 'serial' conversations where I'll send a message or two to someone else knowing that they won't respond for many hours. Then they respond while I'm away, and I respond to them when I have a chance. Eventually we might both be connected simultaneously and chat. Now I'm curious whether anyone else is finding that IM tools are really good informal ways to shoot a time-insensitive question to someone else without resorting to email?
A very frustrating day with Red Hat 10For a technical editing job, I've been trying to install the latest "alpha" release of Red Hat Linux 10.0, without any luck. First I tried installing it into a VMware partition within Windows XP, but it failed on reading the second CDROM during the install. Then I scrounged up a spare 20GB disk, hooked it up to my PC and installed the OS onto that. Seemed like it worked great, but when I boot the system up it freezes immediately after the message "Enabling ACPITIMER based gettimeofday()" which effectively prevents me from using it at all. Most frustrating!!
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