Mer­ry Christ­mas, every­one!

December 25, 2010 December 25, 2010 holidays by Scott 1 Comment

bouquiniste

Nine days, four cam­eras, two cities, and one eter­ni­ty to scan—but here it is! Check out my sum­mer vaca­tion in Paris and Stras­bourg.

It is inter­est­ing to see dig­i­tal, col­or film, and B&W film pho­tos inter­min­gled in the same gallery. I sup­pose all the for­mats have their mer­its, but my eye is still drawn to the B&W pic­tures. I’m curi­ous what you think.

November 20, 2010 November 20, 2010 photos by Scott 1 Comment

Buskers in Paris

Pho­tos from this summer’s France trip should be ready in the next few days.

November 18, 2010 November 18, 2010 photos by Scott No Comments

This site runs on Pyblosx­om, a weird but inter­est­ing weblog sys­tem writ­ten in Python. Pyblosx­om has the dual ben­e­fits of being very light­weight and extreme­ly cus­tomiz­able. Instead of using a SQL data­base, it stores entries and com­ments in a filesys­tem tree, which is very con­ve­nient for peo­ple who pre­fer a com­mand line to a Web inter­face (me). When I select­ed it in ear­ly 2008, it was still being active­ly devel­oped. It also gave me a good excuse to learn Python, which I have done with mod­est suc­cess.

Per­for­mance and reli­a­bil­i­ty prob­lems with my cur­rent serv­er have led me to want to move this site to a faster vir­tu­al serv­er “in the cloud.” Nat­u­ral­ly, I would install the lat­est ver­sion of Pyblosx­om on said machine, right? Well… For a few months I’ve been test­ing pyblosx­om 1.5rc2, the fruit of two years of spo­radic devel­op­ment by the 3 oth­er peo­ple who actu­al­ly use this soft­ware. Because some back-end redesign neces­si­tat­ed many changes to my Scot­tos­phere mod­i­fi­ca­tions, it took a while to get it con­fig­ured again. And indeed, my non-pub­lic stag­ing serv­er is now about 100 times faster than the cur­rent site. But, to my great frus­tra­tion, I still can’t get com­ments to work prop­er­ly with Ajax. It has become a huge waste of time to debug, and I’m ready to throw in the tow­el. I real­ly don’t want to start over, but I won­der: should I just give up and switch to Word­press?

November 16, 2010 November 16, 2010 meta by Scott 1 Comment

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: too soon!

November 14, 2010 November 14, 2010 rants by Scott No Comments

Tru64 UNIX screenshot

Last week­end I retired my trusty old Dig­i­tal AlphaS­ta­tion 200 4/233. When it was intro­duced in 1994 (retail price: $15,595 with UNIX and a 1 GB hard dri­ve), it was one of the first 64-bit com­put­ers intend­ed for desk­top use. At that time, a 90 MHz Pen­tium was con­sid­ered top-of-the-line for desk­top com­put­ing, and this suck­er was scream­ing at 233 MHz! When I bought one sec­ond­hand from a co-work­er for $200 in 1999, it was still a rea­son­ably fast machine.

At some point, I out­fit­ted it with a 9 GB Ultra2 LVD SCSI dri­ve and it became my pri­ma­ry work­sta­tion. I briefly ran Lin­ux on it, but soon dis­cov­ered that Tru64 UNIX not only ran more reliably—in fact, it nev­er crashed once—but that it con­tained some inter­est­ing secu­ri­ty, clus­ter­ing, and filesys­tem capa­bil­i­ties that were way ahead of their time.

I have always had a soft spot for the DEC Alpha archi­tec­ture. I am a big fan of ele­gance and sim­plic­i­ty in engi­neer­ing. Which made me a RISC per­son. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, DEC’s engi­neer­ing didn’t real­ly sur­vive the sequen­tial acqui­si­tions by Com­paq and then HP. And even­tu­al­ly the mar­ket proved two things: that ulti­mate­ly, nobody cares how ele­gant a proces­sor design is, and that nobody can out-spend Intel on inno­va­tion. Thus the Alpha took its place on history’s long list of tech­no­log­i­cal­ly supe­ri­or alter­na­tives that got left behind.

Some time around 2003 or 2004, I start­ed using an SGI O2 for a desk­top machine (anoth­er fla­vor of retro-tech!), rel­e­gat­ing the Alphas­ta­tion to a cor­ner to live a qui­et life as a Web serv­er. There it ran for anoth­er 6 or 7 years. I moved most of my impor­tant files (includ­ing this Web site) to a more mod­ern PC sev­er­al years ago, but it took me until this year to final­ly tran­si­tion the Alphastation’s last duties to oth­er servers.

I sold my-com­put­er on eBay this week for a whop­ping $382, which, even fac­tor­ing in infla­tion, rep­re­sents a sol­id prof­it. How many of your com­put­ers have appre­ci­at­ed in val­ue over time?

I shipped it off to Texas this morn­ing. So long, my-com­put­er. It’s been a good 11 years.

November 12, 2010 November 12, 2010 computers by Scott 5 Comments

Off to Indi­anapo­lis for a very excit­ing week­end: my sis­ter is get­ting mar­ried!

October 9, 2010 October 9, 2010 family by Scott 2 Comments

Ariel and John

Pho­tos are up from Ariel and John’s wed­ding. These are auto­mat­ic mini­lab scans, so they’re not exact­ly top qual­i­ty, but you get the idea.

October 9, 2010 October 9, 2010 photos by Scott No Comments