Tech, Rant By marco, May 16 2006

Or so far, at least. Apple has replaced their übercool iBook line of notebooks with something they call MacBook. As with any new product, a few good things have happened. For one, they're finally widescreen. About time, too. They get audio in and dvi out, and will support screen spanning without an open firmware hack. Also the MagSafe thing is definitely good, I've also snagged my leg behind the power cord before, and they finally get Gigabit Ethernet. Nice as all that is, the list of disappointments weighs slightly heavier.

  • The name. iBook versus MacBook. iBook definitely wins. (Of course this also goes for PowerBook versus MacBook Pro, but I suppose not wanting Power in the name for non-PowerPC machines makes some sense).
  • The keyboard. Since the beginning of time, Mac keyboards (actually, all keyboards I've ever touched save a rubber one) have been slightly hollow. The MacBook does away with all that. I predict lots of typos for future MacBook-owners.
  • The colour. Now, this doesn't hold true for the white one of course but the black makes it look like a generic PC laptop. The white colour was the single most differentiating feature of the iBooks (until PC laptop manufactureres started making iBookalikes, anyway). And indeed: when the white colour is replaced, iBooks no longer look like iBooks. They look just like any other laptop, just done right (i.e., without two million lights and buttons and stickers and whatever).
  • The processor. I still don't like this Intel deal.
  • The screen. Biggest letdown for me. Glossy screens are just unacceptable. If I wanted to buy a mirror, I'd visit IKEA. Not the Apple store. This is another reason the black one looks like a generic PC laptop: all those things come with piece-of-shit glossy screens, too. They're unworkable as soon as you're in any kind of light, at any angle that isn't a dead-on 90°. Of course the good thing is you can tell immediately after opening your laptop that you forgot to do your hair in the morning.

So far, I'm not even so much as considering buying one until that final point gets fixed. No glossy screens for me, please, thankyouverymuch.

Tech, Music, Annoying By marco, April 08 2006

But still I managed to secure Now I only have to wait for three SunRise applications to time out that PriceWaterhouseCoopers fucked up somehow, saying they don't have the documents even though I sent them on time.

On a happier note, I finally found the artist I had been trying to find for a while now, who has some snazzy cool covers of such songs as Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. His name is Paul Anka, and he has been sitting right under my nose for half a year now, in the shape of Gilmore Girl Lorelai's cool new dog. iTunes Link.

Tech By marco, March 23 2006

So Sun has been doing this 'Try-and-Buy' thing with their new T1-based Sun Fire T2000 server. Which means that you get to try for two months, a machine with up to an 8-core UltraSPARC T1, 16G of RAM and 2 73GB harddrives, for free.

A dead frog could have known I'd go out and get one.

I figured I wouldn't max it out-- I'd get the 8GB version with 8 cores. First application was denied, but the second went through amazingly quickly. I've heard about people having to wait weeks. It took about two days for the application to be accepted, and three more for delivery. I was definitely impressed at the speed of that.

So anyway, it came:

Sun Fire T2000

Pretty, isn't it? I think it rivals Apple's Xserve. The inside is clean as a clean thing, too. No picture of that, unfortunately, but again it rivals Apple's Xserve.

Of course I had to try it out as soon as I had the chance. It came very well-wrapped. The unwrapping process took about 10 minutes, I think. Great care was given to even the simplest of parts. For instance, the two power cords (the thing has redundant powersupplies) came in two separate boxes, packed together in another box, shipped separately from the server itself.

Then the time came to plug it in. That's where the trouble started: the machine doesn't do any video-output at all. I know it's not really necessary for a server box to have the latest and greatest in video acceleration hardware, but a most servers come with a MACH64 of some kind onboard so you can at least get up a text console without hassle. Not the Sun-- it requires that you have a computer available with a serial connection. That's all fine with me, I have such stuff anyway. But the serial connection for this uses an RJ-45 connector instead of the standard DB-9 one. And the only adapter I had for that didn't seem to be the right one. Luckily I was able to fabricate my own:

Hand-made RJ45 to DB9

Tip to Sun: for just that extra bit of customer satisfaction, send along this sort of adapter.

Once I had that going, setting up was a breeze. Solaris 10 came preinstalled, so all I had to do was answer some questions about the setup through the insanely slow serial connection (maybe I should have set up the network management before booting...) and it was up and running. Loudly, I might add. It makes more noise than a redundant array of vaccuum cleaners.

I'll be running some benches on it, notably in serving anyMeta pages and doing database serving. Maybe I'll try to get Linux going on it. It'll also be interesting to see what the 2.5" 10K rpm drives can do, speed-wise.

Music, Life By marco, March 21 2006

Heather Nova

Even with just a pianist and (excellent, I might add) violinist accompanying her, she rocked.

Seats Smack-dab in the middle on row 6. Very nice. (Well actually smack-dab in the middle was an aisle of stairs, but the seat next to that? Mine.)

Also apparently neither pepsi stage nor heather's management mind people bringing their large cameras, at least not to seated events, so I capitalised on that and took some proper pictures.

Life By marco, February 27 2006

Went to amsterdam, got great noodles, missed the train, ate noodles, got to brussels, got to hotel, found cool small bar in dark alley, went to bed, woke up ridiculously early, went to ULB campus, saw RMS, had WiFi, stopped having WiFi, met some friends, had surprisingly nice tuna sandwich, saw more talks, had lots and lots of dinner with mozilla people, went to as many bars as possible in one night, went back to hotel, got up at 8, got up again at 9:15, went to see andy talk, left for lots and lots of lunch, had awesome cake, almost missed train home, got back home.

Nicely condensed, I'd say.