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Three cheers for Linux! Three cheers for RedHat!

Well, todady I just upgraded my client dev machine from an old Dell P3 to a new P4 clone plus dual head NVidia display. The P3 was running RedHat 9 with so much customization I couldn't face starting again.

I have upgraded many Windows, Mac and Unix boxes before, and braced myself for pain.

The process wen't something like this (a few misc. steps skipped for clarity):

  1. Take the slow 8Gb HD out of the old box (no screwdriver necessary due to the nice Dell case)
  2. Swap the drive in the new case (temporarily) to the 2nd IDE bus and plugged the old drive into the primary
  3. Booted the box - started off the old drive fine
  4. Accepted the default choices offered by RedHat's kudzu hardware config tool that came up automatically (now also available in fedora)
  5. Everything came up fine with two exceptions: my sound card didn't work (tell someone who cares); and my screen was the wrong resolution (probably the default).
  6. Download and run the NVidia driver installer for linux from
  7. Copied and pasted some config options from NVidia's sample XFree86 config file - Now I have two monitors in Xinerama - woohoo!
  8. Rebooted into single user mode
  9. Ran "dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb" - ie. clone my drive please
  10. Rebooted - checked the drive for errors and bad blocks with fsck -f -c for good measure
  11. Booted up like normal - all good!
Total time taken: less than 1 hr plus 45 minutes waiting for the HD to be copied by dd (I went for a coffee).

Try doing that with a Windows box. Actually, another guy in the office had exactly the same hardware migration to do - but with a Windows installation. By the end of the day he's still not done...

04:02 AM, 22 Apr 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

How did I miss this? HP returns to the calculator business

Late last year HP announced some new graphing calculators, and their Calculator Product home indicates they are producing their full range of calculators icluding the delightfully old school looking financial range.

It is a matter of record that I love my HP48 calculator, and I bemoaned the loss of calculators in the new "HP +/- invent". I can't find it in this blog, so it must have been pre-blog2.0. Can anyone remind me whether HP stopped producing calculators alltogether?

I have even been known to dabble in programming the Saturn processor based calculator, soo it is with interest that II note on this article that the new range is based on a fast embedded processor running some form of Saturn emulation layer. Also noted in the article is that HP +/- invent has outsourced the inventing to Kinpo Electronics, Inc. of Taiwan who also manufacture for Citizen, Canon, Sharp and Magellan among others.


Further investigation has revealed that HP +/- invent has found an even cheaper place to outsource their inventing to. For the sum total of $11,000 in prizes, HP +/- invent is running a "Design a calculator" competition. Sounds like fun tho—too bad it's capped at year 12 students!

01:37 AM, 06 Apr 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

It's not the Boston Computer Museum...

But the Mountain View, California Computer History Muesm does seem to have a sterling talk commemorating the 40th anniversary of the IBM System/360 Mainframe. It's fully booked now - let's hope the video is available online.

For readers unfamiliar with the IBM System/360 mainframe system and it's genius, there is plenty of online information. The Wikipedia, as always, has a useful entry. For the more visual, you can see some really cool black and white photo's on this Columbia Uni page. A useful timeline can also be read here.

07:58 PM, 05 Apr 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Getting started in programming

O'Reilly net recently published an interesting thread titled Which Programming Language? discussing the question of a 12 year old boy who wanted to get into programming.

There was various discusison of looking at the tasks he was interested - maybe flash for games etc. Then someone suggested Cocoa and Objective-C.. crikey! Why not just suggest he starts tuning queries for the Oracle SQL query planner!!

Programming is such a big deal these days, how WOULD you get started as a 12 year old who thinks he would like to do it as a hobby? I'm sure I'm not alone among you readers in having started into programming as a hobby at that sort of age.

Finally in the thread, a wise man tells how he started his son programming on a Commodore-64 emulator - figuring that it worked for him when he got started.

That's genius! When you learn to fly for example, you start in something like a Cessna or a Piper—planes that are barely different from the very first single-wing planes—and learn the basic principals of winged flight. Just because you can get faster, better (and safer) jet planes doesn't mean that's what you should learn in.

So a simulator it is. I would personally start my son on an Apple //e emulator, but whatever.

So then what do you do once you're done with 10 Print "Hello"; 20 GOTO 10 ? Buy him a Dr Dobbs Journal and tell him to check out the nifty design patterns? I hope I still have some of my Nibble magazines somehwere—I would like to give my son (when I have one)a two page basic listing of a simple arcade game to type in—he'll learn to track down typos in his code, and can learn about simple data structures, memory access etc.

It's a real need—maybe Apple could make a market out of marketing an Apple //e emultor and beginmer educational material.

12:26 AM, 05 Apr 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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