The iPhone is Still Not Quite There

I’m begrudged to admit it, but Vasken is right in his claim that his Blackberry is better than the iPhone… For now at least. Having had the chance to play a little with Casey’s iPhone, I must say that the interface is wonderful. It is slick, intuitive and easy to use, but the device itself is lacking in some of the functionality that I would consider basic in a $600 phone.

Apple proudly boasts that the phone can play You Tube videos, but unfortunately you have to use a special player to do so. You can’t simply use your web browser to play them, which is a shame because it would be much more usable if you could. In fact, the Safari browser that comes with the iPhone does not support Flash media of any kind which certainly limits the user’s browsing experience.

The largest problem for me, however, is the lack of user enabled GPS. The phone has a GPS in it, but it is totally unavailable to applications running on the device. Again, Apple talks a lot about how wonderfully integrated the iPhone is with Google Maps, but its usefulness is greatly diminished because the device can’t tell Google Maps where it is. For me, the biggest advantage to having an enabled GPS would be for GeoBlogging, but just imagine how well it could work as a navigation tool if GPS was properly integrated. It would totally replace need for TomTom and other in-car navigational aids.

I think the iPhone is a good product, and I do believe that it will become the best phone / PDA / iPod / GPS on the market, but it is just not quite there yet. The product feels slightly immature to me, so I may wait for a few revisions before I pony up the $600 to buy one.

Solaris Systems With Multiple Names Have Trouble Mounting CD’s

If you have a Solaris box with multiple names, you might have trouble mounting CD’s if the primary name is different from the one you gave the machine at install time. This is because of the CRAZY way Solaris goes about auto-mounting its optical media.

Here is a 10,000 foot view of how Solaris automounts a CD:

The disk is inserted
vold checks and sees that there is a disk inserted
vold connects to inetd, which in turn, starts smserverd
smserverd mounts the disk and all is right with the world

All this depends, however, that:

1) Vold is running
# /etc/init.d/volmgt start

2) This line is not commented in /etc/inetd.conf
100155/1 tli rpc/ticotsord wait root /usr/lib/smedia/rpc.smserverd rpc.smserverd

And 3) The current hostname of the machine is listed in /etc/net/ticotsord/hosts.

This file should looks something like this:

——-SNIP——
#ident “@(#)hosts 1.2 92/07/14 SMI” /* SVr4.0 1.2 */
# RPC Hosts
micky micky
minny minny
——/SNIP——

Micky and minny, of course are the hostnames you have given the machine. You can pretty much just make it mirror the /etc/hosts file.

Once these three criteria are met, a machine with multiple names should be able to automount a CD with no problems.

Google Blog Search

I’ve been saying for a long time that the world needs a good blog search engine, and Erich points out that the people who do search engines best have finally stepped up to the plate and come out with one. Google has just released the first beta (I know… Google has everything in beta) of its blog search.

My favorite blog search engines up to this point have been Mnongo and Technorati. Both are quite good, although competing with Google on the search engine front has proven difficult even for the largest and most powerful technology players. After tinkering with Google Blog Search for a bit, I have to say that it seems pretty good. It’s never quite clear how Google gathers their info and ranks their sites, although they do seem to lend quite a bit of weight to tags.

Here is what Google has to say about it:

Blog Search is Google search technology focused on blogs. Google is a strong believer in the self-publishing phenomenon represented by blogging, and we hope Blog Search will help our users to explore the blogging universe more effectively, and perhaps inspire many to join the revolution themselves. Whether you’re looking for Harry Potter reviews, political commentary, summer salad recipes or anything else, Blog Search enables you to find out what people are saying on any subject of your choice.

Blogs are really quite powerful tools, and I’m glad to see that the world is taking them more and more seriously every day.

NetBackup, Solaris 9, and LTO2 drives

If you are using Veritas NetBackup on Solaris 9 with LTO Ultrium-2 tape drives, you will be constantly annoyed by slow tape write performance unless you use blocks of at least 256KB.

To resolve this, the first thing you’ll want to do is increase both the number of buffers and the buffer size on the media manager host:

Create and edit the file: /usr/openv/netbackup/db/config/SIZE_DATA_BUFFERS and add 262144 on the first line.
Create and edit the file: /usr/openv/netbackup/db/config/NUMBER_DATA_BUFFERS and add 16 on the first line.

These numbers with their respective quotes should be the only thing in these two files.

Next, since Solaris still has insanely low limits on its default shared memory subsystem, we have to increase these limits as to not exhaust them with the increased NetBackup Buffer sizes. We do this by editing the /etc/system file and adding the following lines.

set msgsys:msginfo_msgmni=1024
set msgsys:msginfo_msgtql=1024
set semsys:seminfo_semmni=2048
set semsys:seminfo_semmns=2048
set semsys:seminfo_semopm=128
set shmsys:shminfo_shmmax=33554432
set shmsys:shminfo_shmmni=512

It is now necessary to reboot the system for the kernel parameters to become active.

You should now notice a dramatic increase in tape write speed during your backups.

Open Source Radio

last week I listened to “Open Source” on NPR for the first time and I must say, I tuned in with a great deal of anticipation and excitement! “Open Source” is a radio show that uses blogs and internet sources as fodder, bringing the fast-paced independent reporting of the blogosphere to more traditional media outlets. This kind of “Old Media” meets “New Media” is exactly the kind of thing I feel will salvage what is left of unbiased reporting in mainstream journalism, and I was thrilled to hear about the show.

The show “Iraq’s First Fourth Estate” covered Iraqi Director Haydar Daffar’s new documentary film entitled “The Dreams of Sparrows” which was released on May 26th 2005. The film deals with the challenges of rebuilding Iraq, and the effects of long-term combat, violence and strife on the people of that country. The movie appears to be very well made, and extremely effective in delivering its message. You can read more about the documentary, view the trailer, or purchase it on DVD at Harbinger Productions.

In general, I like “Open Source”, but what I did not like is Host Chris Lydon’s propensity to interrupt his guests. For example, while interviewing Director Haydar Daffar from a Baghdad rooftop, with marginal cell phone reception he repeatedly asked “Are you still with us?”, interspursed with as many as three rapid-fire questions at a time. Daffar was dealing with a three to four second voice delay, a terrible phone signal, and a somewhat limited ability to speak English, while trying his best to answer quickly delivered, ambiguous questions like: “What were you looking for?”, “What did you find?”, and “What were the rules?”

Daffar had no chance of answering these questions, and it very much detracted from what was otherwise a very interesting and well put together show. “Open Source” has a great deal of potential, and I think it is exactly the direction in which traditional media should be headed. If Chris Lydon settles down a bit and lets his guests speak without interruption, “Open Source” may very well mark a turning point in how we all consume media.

Interview with the Brothers Chaps


Interview with The Brothers Chaps from Cliff Pearson on Vimeo.

Several months ago my friend Chuck found this interview with the guys that put together homestarrunner.com. The “Brothers Chaps”, as they refer to themselves, have created an internet cartoon series with flash that has quickly gained popularity. Most new cartoons come out on Mondays, which gives us all something to look forward to, and helps make the first day of the week tolerable.

As fans of the site will discover, the coolest thing about this video is that you finally get to see the people behind the voices. On the screen is a guy you’ve never seen, but out of his mouth is coming Strong Bad’s voice. The voice of Marsipan looks nothing like I had imagined she would, but why should she? I don’t really know why I expected her to look like a broom in the first place.

Sorry it’s an WMV file. We don’t always get to pick the way these things come to us, but check out the video… I think you’ll enjoy it.

Watch the video >
Check out homestarrunner.com >

Downing Street Memo picks up traction

Not to revisit recent topics, but I must say that I really am amazed that the mainstream press has finally started talking about the Downing Street Memo. More than two months after the memo was leaked, the so-called “liberal” media has finally gotten around to covering it, albeit not with much enthusiasm.

Not that they came to it on their own, mind you. Bloggers have bee covering it since it came out and congress has taken note with many House and Senate Republicans demanding an explanation from the White House. Democracy For America even has a petition with more than a half a million signatures calling for an independent investigation, yet somehow, up to now, the major news sources have fallen silent.

When bloggers, and the United States Congress cover a political scandal like the Downing Street Memo long before the major news sources we are supposed to be trusting for independent, objective reporting, we have to start asking ourselves about the integrity of our Nation’s media. We are living in a time when multinational conglomerates control both our politicians and our news sources. They used their money to finance the campaigns of their pocketed politicians, and their news channels to ensure the public maintains a favorable opinion of them. While voters maintain an illusion of the electoral final say, the truth is a disturbing flourish of Orwellian smoke and mirrors.

Sign the petition! >
Read the Memo! >