Monster MythTV box

I just bought a monster server machine to run as my MythTV machine. It's a dual 1.4 GHz Xeon with two gigs of RAM and 288 gigs of RAID storage. Nice!

Servers on eBay seem to be inordinately cheap. I guess for just about every business, the whole point of a server is it's important to the business. So people don't buy them second hand. Which means cheap for people like me who are willing to buy second hand.

So this is going to be my MythTV server, sitting in a cupboard somewhere, while my front-end will be a silent, no-moving-parts diskless Via EPIA machine. Should be a rather nice setup!

Linux going mainstream at last?

Spotted on the ubuntu-au list:

Does the ubuntu default installation come with a anti-virus and
spyware. I seems can not find it.

I scare apyware and vitus :P

Hold onto your hats folks (alright Jeff you can hold onto your pants if you insist)! This means we're crossing over big time. It's gonna be an interesting time.

The end of worrying about spam?

I've just signed up for Marc Perkel's spam filtering service because I'm sick of managing the spam arms race. It's a near full-time job and my Linode just doesn't have the RAM to do it. I mean, the latest method is to OCR, then filter these image spams!

So now I've moved over to this service and we'll see how it goes. He needs better documentation of the setup, so I might just write some stuff for him, in exchange for some free months or summat.

Now waiting for the MX records to expire on some of the places I get mail from, then it should start all going through his servers. From there I should be able to block access to my mail server from everywhere except his. Most importantly, I can turn off all my own spam filtering and get my life back.

These spammers try everything

Wow these spammers are tenacious. I woke up this morning with a bunch of spam sent through my contact form, which was built specifically to avoid spammers getting my email address. Interesting that they'd bother hitting this, since it's clearly just designed to send mail to me alone, not a wiki or anything.

I wonder if this is being hit by human beings or by robots? I've put in a rather easy question to test this, and I'll see if I continue to get spammers this way. If it's human beings (presumably third-world cheap labour) it would be very difficult to avoid.

Mobical

I've been using a mobile phone calendaring service for the last six months or so. It's really rather good because it integrates into the Nokia calendar I use on my Nokia 6630, and you can synchronize it with the web version. It's a lot easier to enter stuff in the web interface than on the phone, and the interface is better.

The SyncML interface means you can enter calendar entries from either place. So if you're sitting at your desk and someone sends you details of a party, you can add it right in. But if you're out and about, you can equally easily look up your availability and add a new item. Very cool.

The developers are very receptive to bug reports and feature requests. I found a bug with recurring events (specifically, Critical Mass which is last Friday of the month) and they responded and fixed it in a couple of weeks.

Apparently ical support is on the feature list for a near-future release. This would allow me to subscribe to various events from other websites. I'm thinking NSW public holidays and fixtures for Sydney FC and the Socceroos.

So all around, a very cool service. For those of you who require buzzword-compliance, the UI of the web stuff is suitably AJAXy.

I believe their business model is to sell the service to Telcos as an add-on for their customers. At the moment, and they claim forever into the future, it's free. Regardless, if they were to fold tomorrow you could always sync to another SyncML service from your phone as a migration path.

Clueless web designers are everywhere

Martin Brooks is audbly seething about clueless web designers who can't even write browser detection Javascript that works across all the (narrow range) of Windows browsers they support.

These people are everywhere. I just went to fill in my timesheet for the contract I'm doing through Kelly Services (well, they're one of the intermediaries anyway). This is the message I get:

For optimal performance, this product requires Internet Explorer (IE)
5.0 or above. Earlier versions of IE or other browsers may be used
however you may not access full functionality.

Of course a timesheet is a really complicated piece of software. I mean, you've got to enter the time you started, the time you ended and the time you spent on lunch for every day of a whole week. This kind of bleeding-edge functionality just can't be done in your ordinary, plain-vanilla browser, you know!

The reason they've used this message is they have some "helpful" Javascript on the page which means that once you've entered the four-digit, 24-hour clock time into the field, it automatically moves you to the next form field. Because tabbing is definitely beyond the average user.

Except that if you make a mistake and click back into an already-filled field, the magic Javascript tabs you to the next field. So you have to--entirely intuitive this--click into the field before the one you want to edit, and the Javascript magic takes you to the field you actually want to edit.

Wow, you certainly couldn't do useful stuff like this in a cross-platform manner without spending megabucks, I'm sure!

Internet cafe crapware

We're in the midst of travelling around Spain and I'm amazed how crappy the computers in Internet cafes are. They're infested with all kinds of crapware, popup ads all over the place, Internet explorer's search pane opening every five minutes. Incredible! I certainly wouldn't trust them for doing banking...

Finally, in-ear headphones that don't suck!

I just bought a pair of these Sennheiser in-ear headphones. They're one of these deep ear canal designs, with various sizes of soft rubber insert. Instead of sitting in the outer ear, they go right into the ear canal.

I've had many of the crappy ear buds before, but they always either hurt after a while or fall out -- often one side hurting, the other side constantly falling out. So these are quite a revelation.

The soft rubber is very comfortable and blocks out quite a bit of the ambient noise around you. The sound is nothing short of brilliant, particularly the bass. Very clear and punchy. Goes very nicely with my shiny new mp3 player on our travels.