Monday, 29 December 2003

All the best to everyone!

I know it's a little late, but all the best to everyone over the festive season, regardless of belief. And may your 2004 be safe and prosperous.

Wednesday, 26 November 2003

The Toshiba P20 and Linux...

Ok... As mentioned in the last entry I've purchased the PC and I've attempting working with it. For my experiences, please have a look at this page.

Friday, 24 October 2003

Some ideas for content for this site...

I've been thinking for a while about something to write upon that would be of use to me an to many other people as well... I'm thinking something along the lines of a FAQ, but a topic-less FAQ... just questions I have asked myself many a time and searched the Internet for and not been able to find an immediate answer for. I'll take on board any suggestions any has, and even some question you may want to post. Just send them to the usual e-mail address.

On another topic of interest, I'm thinking of obtaining a notebook shortly. The one I currently have is a Toshiba Tecra 500CDT. It's about 7 years old, and is running a Intel Pentium I 120Mhz Chip, a broken (dry joint) CD ROM, 1.2 GB Hard Drive, and with Windows95 installed. I once tried loading Red Hat Linux 7.0 onto it, but due to my limited hard-drive, low memory (32MB), and then lack of knowledge, I got it up and running, but was frustrated at how slow everything ran in GNOME. This lead me to re-install Windows95. I know now I could have optimized it by switching off some services, and also choosing a lighter desktop. The laptop was good in it's day, but I think 7 years in IT changes many things. Saying that I'm thinking of upgrading to a Toshiba P20 (Clicking on this text will either trigger a download, or load a PDF into your browser. The PDF is originally from Toshiba Australia's Website. It comes with a Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz Chip with HT, 80GB Hard Drive, DVD-RW/CD-RW, 17" wide screen, and many more features (but they're the main ones I'm interested in). What has all this got to do with content? Well I plan on documenting my installation of Linux on it. My strategy will consist of first restricting the WindowsXP partition of the hard drive to about 15GB, and dedicating the rest of it to Linux. I'll be attempting the following distributions in the following order: Knoppix (to get a feel of what's going on), followed by Red Hat / Fedora or Mandrake, then finally Gentoo. Wish me luck. I should be able to document my steps in a clear, understandable manner allowing those after me wanting to install Linux to find my information useful.

Thursday, 21 August 2003

Ok... so I'm a little slack with this page still...

I'll admit I'm a little slack when it comes to updating this page. It's not like there's nothing I have to talk about (or "whinge" about)... It's just been that I've been busy at work... and unfortunately I need to work to pay bills...

The main thing that's been happening is the continual discussion of SCO vs. IBM and the associated fall out from SCO also going after users of the supposedly infringed code. This case appears more and more to me like a matter of interpretation of US Laws, and I for one do not know how this will apply to Australian Laws. It also appears to be a test in the US courts of how strong is the GPL License.

On another front, there is an increase in studies based on desktop deployments of Linux. I do believe that Linux is technically up to the task, and just needs to be sold to people who have a closed mind to anything but Microsoft. It looks like a massive up-hill battle, and it may wage on for a few years yet.

Tuesday, 24 June 2003

I'm no Microsoft hater...

Reading through some of my opinions here and there, some people have come to the opinion that I'm opposed against Microsoft. There are plenty of "hate Microsoft" sites out on the web already. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM!

My actually issues with Microsoft is that I don't think they're writing to their best potential. I want their products to get better, but they continually disappoint me. I do not give up hope though. I hope that one day they will write something that is useful, secure, easy to use, etc... I'm probably more pro-Microsoft than Bill.

I don't think their strategic development agrees with my opinions though.

Friday, 20 June 2003

The skill of fishing...

The old proverb of "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime" certainly does hold ground in the IT industry. I think people these days are in the mode of getting fish handed to them too often. This is not always a bad thing, but it can cause people to become too reliant on certain things being certain ways to remain productive.

I have no issue informing anyone who wants to ask me for information on how to achieve a certain goal. I don't believe in bottling information, skills, or techniques. It's not a belief that would allow for open-source projects to flourish so well. People should share ideas. Test (or use) ideas. Refine ideas. This sounds very Utopian, I know... but if we do strive to help each other, then we'll all get to a better (and more productive) state of doing things.

Empower your colleague or boss... and get them to do it themselves!!

Thursday, 29 May 2003

Something other than IT...

Just got in touch with two persons I haven't heard from in a long time. It's good to hear from both of them, although I honestly did not want to start communications with one of them.

All in all, I'm glad I did. Both have taken different paths in life (from each other and myself) but each seems happy.

Which leads me to the reason behind this snippet of thought...

If you do get the opportunity to get in touch with someone that you really want to, do it... regardless of what you have to do and any obstacles in the way...

I look forward to getting to know them both better (if I ever get the time to write them)...

Friday, 23 May 2003

A little off topic...

It's in the news a lot recently (have a look at this link to Google's news pages), but I was hoping to make a small comment about it here. The topic is SCO vs IBM (with Linux and Microsoft on the side). I don't know all the issues, but it seems to be a slow week for many technology reporters. After reading a dozen articles on the allegations made, I've come up with my own theories...

If this goes to court, it may take a long time. Think of one of the most publicized antitrust cases you can think of length. If a decision is made in court, will it later be overturned in an appeals court, or will the penalty be negotiated so that all sides can leave with their heads held high.

And finally, I don't think that many people (with the exception of the companies directly involved) are really fussed with it. From my understanding SCO issued out a letter to 1500 companies that utilized Linux, stating that they may be doing some type of illegal activity by using Linux. Since no companies were publicly named, I have not heard of any companies all of a sudden looking for alternate operating systems / environments to run their applications on.

Everyone should just get on with life.

Thursday, 1 May 2003

Motivation and deadlines...

There seems to me (working in the Information Technology industry) that business customers get promised by management a delivery date, and then management want deadlines to be met. And if deadlines for delivery of code or functionality are not met, then accountability falls upon the developer / worker. But at the other end of the scale, authority and major decision making are still the domain of the management.

How is the IT worker supposed to remain motivated in the current climate of layoffs and pay cuts to meet deadlines?

My solution is simple (well it is to me I guess)...
  1. Reverse the chain of command and decision making. The developer / worker makes the decisions, and management supports those decisions and MAKES THEM HAPPEN. Therefore management is the one accountable of what they promise to the business customer, and since the developer is working with the technology, they make the crucial decisions.
  2. Give people work that they want to do. Most people are happy putting many hours into something they are interested in. This will lead to more motivation, and more effort placed into the product simply because that person is interested in its development.
  3. Remove deadlines. Or don't over emphasis them. Some people do perform better under pressure, but most people will come up with better solutions in their own time.
  4. Pay more money. If you can't delivery on point #1, #2, or #3 then pay WELL. This is most likely the motivational factor for many people in the IT industry today.
If you think this solution looks familiar, you most probably thinking of the open source development model. I think it is a good start, and I may have customized more, but these are JUST my opinions.

Wednesday, 23 April 2003

You just can't help people who don't want to be helped...

I just don't get it sometimes. Even though there are better solutions out there, some people are real creatures of habit. They will insist on doing it their way and that their way is the ONLY way to do things correctly.

I guess that's why the majority of people are happy staying with what they know, instead of looking at something else that may better serve them. I have never found the transition to alternate operating systems an easy one (well, not until recently). Manually configuring the options of an operating system, especially from a text based install, has always given me anxiety, but the old saying does hold true - "If you never give it a go, then you'll never find out".

Saying all that, I don't think that alternate operating systems are for everyone. Some don't meet all my needs, but I like to keep an open mind.

Sunday, 20 April 2003

Open source (another solution)

The open source movement is possibly the biggest "thing" since the inception of the computer and the Internet. One example of the open source movement is the Linux kernel / operating system. It is the largest, most successful implementation of the free software philosophy. It demonstrates that code, written by people for people can develop faster and better (ie. Better maintenance, better support, faster resolved bugs, etc.) than other closed source products. Linux is not the other open source development out there. There is also (to name a few):
  • the Mozilla browser (who some of you may use in its different guises - Netscape 6 / 7, galleon, etc...)
  • the Apache web server (that servers up the majority of the pages on the web)
  • the Sendmail application (deliver your e-mail around the Internet)

I really think that Linux (and its many distributions) is finally at a stage where it can take on closed source in the desktop (home user) domain. In the server domain, it has already proven itself to be better than the majority of closed source solutions that already exist.

My issue is not with making money off software. After all, people have to eat. My issue is with decisions being made (usually by "pointy-haired" managers of the Dilbert cartoons) not wanting to take the "gamble" on open source software. They cite reasons like not one point of contact, no real support, and open source means Internet intruders can see all our weak points. There are many more reasons than the ones I've listed, but my general observation is that unless you're paying a large sum of money for licensing, then it can't be a quality product. And that's a really pity. I've witnessed overall better support and less security vulnerabilities with open source software than I have with closed source software.

This leads me to think more about the philosophy I initially introduced a few paragraphs above. Why doesn't it apply to other things in life? I would have no issue with recipes being more open. Yes, that's right, food recipes. Chefs and restaurants should not give "dumbed-down" recipes to patrons hoping to emulate their culinary creations at home. They should give the full recipe out (with some nominal cost to cover of printing, etc...). Patrons going back to the restaurant would then be able to improve on the recipe in ways not obviously apparent to the chef. On top of this, the chef is now charging to provide a service, much like how open source companies charge for support, but basically "give away" the instructions and techniques of their applications.

This philosophy can also be read into other things besides software and food. Think about it...

Saturday, 19 April 2003

I'll actually try to make use of this page...

OK... in an effort to try to keep this page a little more up to date than what I've been doing, I'll attempt to write about things that I'm directly involved in.

I do admit that I was pretty slack when I first set up this area. And my writings were extremely shallow, but I'll attempt to improve on that. If you've got any suggestions please feel free to e-mail me at rdefrance (at) gmail (dot) com.