Archive for December, 2004

December 31st, 2004

Coming home

I’m writing this in the airplane and I’ll post it as soon as we’ll get home and get the basic chores done.

Shortly after posting the previous entry, I got call from my aunt in Finland. She had heard from the news that there had been an earthquake in Indonesia and tsunamis had killed several thousand people in the area. She wasn’t sure whether we were okay or not. Fortunately Singapore was protected by Sumatra island.

We turned tv on for understanding more and called home to reassure that we’re okay and there’s no emergency in Singapore. The images in BBC were grim and the damage was really devastating.

I then realised that a couple of our friends are on holiday in Maldives that was hit by the tsunami, too. I couldn’t reach them for a few days, but they acknowledged us two days ago that they are ok. Today, I read Helsingin Sanomat, the major Finnish newspaper, for the first time after the disaster and I learned how grim the situation has been for Finnish tourists. Several dozen people have died and more are still missing. Several pages of the paper went through the distress of the victims and their relatives. This is going to go on for a long time…
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December 26th, 2004

Festive Season in Singapore

The taxi trip to the airport was fortunately uneventful and surprisingly fast and cheap. Check-in, security control and passport checks were all also swift experiences. To be honest, I expected much worse.

The airport is vast. And empty. There are two huge halls, connected with a walkway that contains the security check point. Quite clever idea, in fact.

We were there so early that most of the shops were closed. After having a good breakfast in a Japanese restaurant, we still got some time to stroll in the shops. We didn’t buy anything as the clerks started to escort us on that moment that we set our feet in the store. It got a little distracting in a while.
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December 24th, 2004

Festive Season Travelogue

I’m posting this from Delifrance in IT Funal Mall in Singapore.

I’m writing this in our hotel room on December 23rd at 3.50 in the morning, and surprisingly, I’ve slept soundly for the past seven hours. Hopefully the jetlag doesn’t us in its full force later during this trip, as currently we seem to get accustomed to the time difference quite okay.

I left our apartment in Helsinki on Tuesday, December 21st and took 13.55 bus to city centre to catch 14.25 bus to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Our flight was leaving at 17.10, so there should be plenty of time. Usually the trip from Lauttasaari to Helsinki centre takes 15 minutes or less. This time something got haywired in the traffic and I had to jump off the bus one stop before to best stop and run to the other bus. I just made it and met Sanna, who had come directly from work.
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December 21st, 2004

To Shanghai and beyond!

We (Sanna and I that is) are going to leave to Shanghai today, and continue to Singapore for the festive season. We have been busy packing everything, checking that everything has been packed and double-checking that everything worth checking for has been checked. This took best part of yesterday and the day before yesterday. Also, some housekeeping was needed to allow graceful homing after the exhaustive trip.

Some things are still not packed, as I need to do a few computer related items still today. This entry is one of these tasks.

I have a sort of dilemma with selecting the best laptop for the trip. Currently I’m writing this on my desk and I’m surrounded by three laptops: Apple PowerBook 12″, IBM X40 12″ and Sony Vaio PCG-TR3 10.8″.

IBM has the best battery coverage, over eight hours — yes, it has an extended battery that protrudes from the back. But it doesn’t have enough applications or data, and it’s owned by my employer. Apple has second best battery, over three hours — but it’s the heaviest of the bunch and currently it doesn’t have my files there. It also lacks PC Card slot for my camera. So, I’ll end up with the tiniest system that has my files and applications. Unfortunately, it has the worst battery coverage and US keyboard that lacks one key compared to Finnish one.

We’ll be back in Helsinki on 31st, so there might not be that much of activity in the blog during the trip. This depends, of course, on the availability of wi-fi access points and activity of comment spammers. I’ve decided to leave the comments open and trust that the Spaminator will take protect my assets.

December 20th, 2004

Comments on?

I’m currently so pleased with Spaminator that I consider leaving my comments open while we’re travelling during the festive season. I do hope that this is not a mistake… Only time will tell.

December 18th, 2004

More remarks from Mac

This is the first post that I’ve written with my Mac. I’ve got more used to the user interface and I was able to install some software to the system. The current likes and dislikes are the following:

Likes

  1. Extremely easy installation of Apache. To be frankly, I just started the service. PHP was preinstalled, too, so I could get it working by changing Apache configuration file. I haven’t been able to do anything serious with it, but so far so good.
  2. MySQL installation was also a snap. Somehow it didn’t end up to the path, but I got it working much much easier than in Windows.
  3. UNIX shell with emacs. Need I say more?

Dislikes:

  1. The start-up sound. Why it has to exist and be so loud? There is no way (to my knowledge) to turn it off from the UI and the script approaches seem to be problematic. I understand that it’s used to tell that everything is ok, but PCs beep only when they have troubles.
  2. GUI size. The GUI takes too much of screen estate. I haven’t yet attached Mac to an external display, so I’m confined in 1024×768 display.
  3. No global uninstaller or application list. I don’t have a clue what programs I’ve got in the system. I don’t yet know how to uninstall them. It could be as simple as deleting the file, but I’m not sure. Windows way of providing a list of installed programs is far more superior to Mac situation or then I don’t know enough, yet.
  4. Attitude of some Mac users. I’ve browsed a lot of lists to get rid of small annoyances and one third of the messages repeat that you shouldn’t worry about such small things or Apple has just made Macs that way (and the way is superior compared to Windows). Why people think that Macs are used uniformly and the Apple’s approach is always the right one? I start to feel that this is really closed system compared to Windows, as people’s minds are not open. Are Mac users just bunch of sheep?

I also got the system in so bad shape that I had to remove power cord and battery, it wouldn’t shut down programmatically. I’m sort of disappointed that this happened so fast, I’ve owned the laptop for three days now.

I need to start to learn keyboard shortcuts, as I tend to use my PC for small tasks such as checking terms from online dictionary or searching Google. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t have proper Alt-Tab implementation — though I have learned to use Cmd-< and Cmd-> as a patch.

December 17th, 2004

Spam Update

After I installed Kitten’s Spaminator, not a single spam comment has gone through. Several normal comments have been posted with no problems.

I’ve set Spaminator to send email to me for every spam killed, so if it accidentally kills a legal comment, I could repost it. I soon learned that this approach has one problem: I need to go through all the emails by hand and sometimes this is quite daunting task.

Spaminator sets the following subject for all mails:

[Blogname] Spaminator: Spammer caught!

I fixed the PHP code to include other information to make it easier to delete all repeating messages:

[Blogname: SPAM] sender <email> URL

For example:

[Nomadig: SPAM] Mr Foo Bar <foo@example.com> http://www.example.com/

This is accomplished by changing the value of variable $to on line 146 to following:

$to = '[' . get_settings('blogname') . ': SPAM]' .
      $this->post['author'] . ' <' . $this->post['email'] . '>, ' .
      $this->post['url'];
December 16th, 2004

First impressions

I’ve been a happy Mac owner for a day now. I got the system booted yesterday and had the first feelings of it.

Likes:

  1. Sleek appearance.
  2. No need to set up the OS and wait eternity to get the computer in usable shape.
  3. UNIX internals.
  4. Preinstalled SSH.

Dislikes:

  1. Weight.
  2. USB ports are on the left side. My Microsoft laptop mouse (how ironic setup) has too short cord to rest on the correct place next to the laptop.
  3. Mac’s application centric way of working with windows feels old-fashioned. Not having proper Alt-Tab style functionality is a big minus. I don’t usually have a clue what programs are currently running.
  4. Small screws at the memory upgrade door. I couldn’t find a suitable screwdriver, had to continue search tomorrow. Update Dec 17th. After calling to 20+ stores in the capital region, I finally found one place that had these screwdrivers in stock. Local Apple reseller was also willing to lend their screwdriver, if I couldn’t find any. Now I have an excellent set of small screwdrivers.
  5. Mac OS X configured my wireless network totally wrong. I had to set up the IP addresses by hand. This may due to Windows box providing DHCP service, but this is a lapse from Apple.
  6. The user interface is not configurable, both in OS and applications. It seems that Think Different slogan holds only to the point where you make the switch. After that it’s time to Think Uniformly.

I’m personally surprised that the dislikes section has more items currently. Some of this may be due to long exposure of Windows, but in some aspects Mac OS X just sucks more than Windows…