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Photos of a Dead Company - and disk storage

So, I found this site today of the photos from the sale of equipment for Mp3.com. Wow. There's lots of crazy stuff in there.

The thing that got me the most excited was these two Clarion EMC2 disk arrays. How much space was on those? A couple terabytes? How many hundreds of thousands did they cost? To get that much disk today you'd have to...walk into an apple store and drop down a a couple thousand dollars. Crazy.

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Tech Republic Review Doesn't Like Drupal Very Much

So, I just read the Tech Republic critique of Drupal and he has some fair points. Basically that Drupal needs an installer and needs some polish to make it easier to grok for first time users. Fair enough. The funny thing is that this article made me realize that Drupal is the Debian of the CMS world. And if you get that reference, then you're the kind of person who is reading my website. Anyway, to explain "the Debian of CMS" it's something like this.

Drupal - the Debian of CMS

Drupal may not be the prettiest thing. It may be hard to use right out of the box. It may have certain religious ideas that it sticks to and which piss off the user community (ahem...backwards compatability). It has instructions which don't always make sense (page vs. story vs...)

Drupal is the system, if you use it long enough to get to understand it, that is an interesting and encouraging system to use as a developer. It gets developers excited to work within its framework. This makes for a virtuous circle where more and more and more and more interesting things are written that make Drupal better. Further it also means that when someone is looking for a system to use to build their website it is used by luminaries and cool projects and fancy social borkmarking community things.

So when someone says Debian is clearly unsuitable because it's number 7 on DistroWatch just remember that Ubuntu, based on Debian, is number 1. When someone says "Linux will never be more than a hobbyst tool" just remember that almost everyone uses linux every day whether they know it or not. And when someone says Drupal is too confusing or too hard to use, well, my feeling is that they are just begging for the installer which allows easy creation of installation profiles so with 4.7+ (i.e. the next version of drupal to be released) we'll see tons of Drupal distributions that will solve his problems.

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Fon Social Router Arrives and is Installed!

This past Thursday (as in, the 27th of July) I got a delivery of a decent sized box. I wasn't expecting a delivery. I was curious, put the box away, and didn't think about it. On Sunday I found the box again and decided it was probably not a bomb and opened it. To my surprise it was the FON Social Router I had ordered which arrived about 2 weeks before I expected it to arrive. I was pretty excited.

The installation turned out to be simple enough. Plug in the ethernet cable. Plug in the power. Done.

My major problem now is that I want to do port forwarding so that when I'm outside of my home network I can use ssh to connect to my computers inside of the network. I had that working fine with my old router, but can't get it to work with the FON router. I followed the instructions in the FON Faq and available on the FON Discussion board but neither is really helpful.

One interesting thing, in my opinion, is that FON is using the OpenWRT software as the basis for their routers. OpenWRT was recently profiled in a LifeHacker story about running your WiFi router with higher power to get better range. And, indeed, I'm noticing better reception with this model than my previous very similar router.

The box is a WRT54GS that FON purchased, takes apart, changes around, replaces the operating system, and then sends out to people. It appears from df -h:


Filesystem Size Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/root 1.4M 1.4M 0 100% /rom
/dev/mtdblock/4 1.8M 396.0k 1.4M 21% /
none 7.0M 44.0k 7.0M 1% /tmp

that it's got about 8MB of flash memory.

In terms of RAM:

[email protected]:/# cat /proc/meminfo
total: used: free: shared: buffers: cached:

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HostMaster vs. Organic Groups vs. Sympal vs. ?

Let's take a hypothetical situation: a drupal-based service offered to groups of people where they can somewhat customize the installation and create their own private content for sharing and discussion within the group. Each group has a leader who is the main configurer of the site and who can approve other members to be able to view the site. The group "leader" is a non-technical user and should be able to create the group themselves from within a browser.

There are at least four approaches that I can think of for this:

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  • Organic Groups which would is very simple for individuals to create and manage and provides all of the features listed above but is somewhat limited in terms of the configuration that the group manager could provide. For example, they would not be able to enable/disable modules or really edit the theme very much.
  • HostMaster HostMaster is the basis of the Bryght hosting platform and I believe is also the basis of the CivicSpace ASP. It is available under the GPL, requires Python (which I actually like) and seems very powerful. My major concern is with the performance of Multi-site vs. Organic Groups and with the extra complications of upgrading a large number of multi-site Drupal installations. That is, upgrading a 4.7 site with Organic Groups and a few limited modules seems relatively easy compared with upgrading a multi-site installation.
  • Sympal the sympal scripts by Ber Kessels are a set of php scripts for quickly installing a Drupal site. These have the same potential drawbacks as HostMaster and the additional drawback that they are command line php meaning that I would need to create a UI layer on top of them (which isn't terribly scary, but it is extra work compared to the OG solution).
  • RYO - Roll Your Own Rolling my own solution has the obvious benefit of being exactly what I want and need, but has the significant drawback of requiring me to write something from the ground up. I am fairly certain that this will not be my solution.
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    Bias from Sources of Funding

    Wired is running an article about funding and bias in global warming science this morning. Global warming is a topic that is pretty popular right now, but I believe they are only really telling half the story on the funding/bias issue.

    The slant of the story is that Pat Michaels, a long time anti-human-induced/global-warming-is-exaggerated scientist is being biased in his research because he is accepting money from energy producers. Certainly, many research companies have gotten into scandals in recent years as they write passionate stories on a subject only to have it revealed that the study was funded by the organization that stands to benefit the most. This is especially sad when the actions of the research organization are in opposition to the findings in these studies.

    So, if we accept the claim that research funding from "interested" parties biases the researchers then what can we say about the people who are crying foul in the case of Michaels?

    A quick quote from the article:

    "These people are just spitting into the wind," said John Holdren, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "The fact is that the drumbeat of science and people's perspectives are in line that the climate is changing."

    Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a Washington advocacy group, said: "This is a classic case of industry buying science to back up its anti-environmental agenda."

    So, who are the people funding these organizations. Neither of them readily discloses their sources of funding (at least not that I could find in a cursory view of their website). Clean Air Watch (CAW) does accept donations from private individuals - in which case you have to ask a question: "what motivates a private individual to give money to CAW?" The optimistic perspective is that people do it because CAW is doing something to help every person who breathes air. The pessimistic perspective is that if CAW produces enough "alarmist" reports that scare people into action then those people will be motivated to give more money to CAW. I think it's only fair to say that both the optimistic and pessimistic perspective are valid in at least some of the cases which brings me to my point: CAW has a bias in it's source of funding! So all of this "CAW is holier than though, Pat Michaels" stuff is poppycock.

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