Why is this man laughing?


There’s a story behind that picture and it’s pretty much what you would think it is.

Dave Anthony toasts his achievement after driving his truck on top of a Kent house he was demolishing. Anthony said “it was a hell of a way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.”

Somehow, it’s not too surprising that alcohol was involved.  The full story can be read here.   I wonder how close he came to being a candidate for a Darwin Award?  At the very least, he should get an “Honorable Mention” for this stunt.

It gets better with the followup story:  Driving your pickup truck onto the roof of a house and getting your picture in the newspaper doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when police want to talk to you about a $2,800 set of tires purchased with a stolen credit card.

Courtesy of Raymond Chen from The Old New Thing.

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Time to get a new PC

My home PC died last Friday and I’m waiting for it’s replacement to show up. I’ve had the machine for years and it’s been running 24/7, something was bound to fail. The fan on the video card was starting to lock up and I’m pretty sure that the main hard drive is toast. It was a decent machine back in 2002, an Athlon XP 2000 with fast memory and drives.

The new box will be dual cores with lots of memory and RAID 5. I’ve lost 4 drives in the last year, I wont use another desktop without RAID. I looked at getting Dell, but I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money. You can get cheap boxes from Dell, but not with what I wanted.

I like spec’ing out the components, you never know exactly what you will be getting from Dell. I’ve had good luck with custom boxes built by MWave. I basically picked out the components that I wanted and they assembled it and burned it in for me for a small fee. It’s already been shipped, I should have it early next week

This is what I ordered:

  • Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe: A decent motherboard with everything I need on it, including RAID. The onboard sound board isn’t the best one, but it will do for my needs. I’ll probably salvage the Audigy card out of the dead machine if I need a better sound card.
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (Brisbane): Two cores and energy efficient. I never get the fastest CPU, I always bring down a few notches. The difference in speed will not be perceptable and I can spend the extra money on more memory, which will make the machine faster.
  • 2 GB Ram: With Vista, 2 GB is the bare minimum. I’ll probably bump it up later
  • GIGABYTE GV-NX86T256D GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card: It’s fast, it’s cheap, and it’s got a big honking heat pipe to cool the card without a fan. Not having a fan means a quieter PC and one less moving part to break.
  • Maxtor 250GB SATA-300 drives: MWave had these drives fro $60, so I bought three of them for the RAID 5 array. With Maxtor’s purchase by Seagate. it looks like these products were being discontinued.
  • Lite-On LH-18A1P 18X DVD RW drive: I’ve had good luck with Lite-On drives before and it was a good price. It’s not their fastest writer, but it will be fast enough for the media that I’ll be using for it
  • No floppy. The only time I have used a floppy in the last box was to flash the BIOS of the motherboard. If I can the new one to boot from a flash drive, I wont need the floppy. I may end up installing one as it’s the typical way of installing RAID drivers when you do a Windows install. I could grab the floppy drive from thedead PC or get one that also has a memory card reader
  • Antec Sonta II case: I’v always liked Antec cases and power supplies and the Sonata is the right case for me. It’s big enough to make working in the case easy, and it’s very quiet. The main fan is 120mm, instead of 80mm. It can run slower (less noise) and push out more air than the 80mm fans. Another nice feature is that the fans and the hard drives are mounted on rubber, that really cuts down on the vibration noise.
  • Vista Home Premimum: I have mixed feelings about this one. I need more Vista hands on experience, but the horror stories are starting already. I could always install XP, if this OS is truly that awful, but I would prefer to work with Vista. This will also be my first experience with a “Home” labelled OS. I’ve been using XP Pro at home, but I rarely use the Pro functionality. I’m staying with the 32-bit version, even though the processor will support the 64-bit OS

Fortunately, the important files have been backed up. I put together a FreeNAS box a couple of months ago and I’ve been backing up source code and documents to it. The next time you buy a new PC, take the old one and toss FreeNAS on it. It just works.

Is Microsoft Dead?

I was reading Mike Gunderloy’s new blog, A Fresh Cup, and I came across a link to an article titled “Microsoft is Dead”, by Paul Graham.  Paul’s view is that Microsoft is no longer relevant and we live in “Web 2.0” world that Microsoft doesn’t know how to play in.  He states that there are four things that killed Microsoft: Google, “the desktop is over”, broadband Internet, the rise of Apple.  He’s just plain wrong.

I’ll give him Google.  Microsoft has never been able to catch up to Google in the search engine game.  I stil don’t see how Google being the king of the hill for search engines means that Microsoft is dead.  That’s like saying because apples are red, oranges suck.  It doesn’t work that way.

People have been saying that the desktop is over for years.  Sun has been saying that, in one form or another, for the last 20+ years.  That has always felt like wishful thinking than future reality.  Lots of applications are well suited to run as web applications, but not all of them.  The desktop experience is just so much more richer in terms of the UI and the access to the machine than the browser experience.   Today’s PC’s have so much horsepower that it boggles the mind.  Why would you not want to use it?

Paul states that the rise of broadband Internet means that you have less of a need for desktop because you will faster access to the server.  All it really means is that your applications that get data from the Internet will run faster.  I use SourceGear‘s Vault for source control.  Vault runs a web service, but the client is a fat app.  When I changed my home ISP from TW RoadRunner to Verizon FiOS, I saw a decent performance boost when I used Vault from home to access files from the office.  Being a fat client, it can cache a lot of the data and save many round trip requests for data.  If it was a web only client, it would have been much slower, plus have all sorts of security headaches because the file system interaction. 

I have yet to see the “Web 2.0” equivalent to PhotoShop.  Silverlight opens the door to more robust web applications, but it still has limitations.  Oh wait, that’s a Microsoft technology, better leave that one out.  What about office productivity applications.  Microsoft Office is a giant fat client, but so is Open Office.

What about the rise of Apple?  With the move to Intel CPU’s and updated operating systems, the Apple Macintosh market share has increased over 38% within the last year.  Heady stuff and good for Apple.  Still, we are talking about going from roughly 4% of the market to around 6%.  When you view their rise in those terms, it’s less of a threat to Windows.  He mentions Apple and then writes something that is just so wrong on many levels:

…Their victory is so complete that I’m now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows. Nearly all the people we fund at Y Combinator use Apple laptops. It was the same in the audience at startup school. All the computer people use Macs or Linux now. Windows is for grandmas, like Macs used to be in the 90s. So not only does the desktop no longer matter, no one who cares about computers uses Microsoft’s anyway.

There are some seriously flawed statements there.  Just because the only people you see are using Macs, that doesn’t apply to the entire population.  It just means that your sample set is not representative of the whole population.  I’m a computer guy and I have a few Macs and some Linux boxes.  I’m also a Windows developer and that’s where most of my computer usuage occurs.  There last few lines are just insulting and are remarkably fact free.

Why do people get stuck in the useless us versus them argument?  The whole “Microsoft is Evil” argument is tired as well as the monoply charges.  There’s enough room in the market place for various operating systems.  Just because you prefer one, doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone else.

I usually ignore these types of articles, but this guy was just so wrong, it just jumped out at me.  It’s clear he has an anti-Microsoft bias.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but his reasoning had nothing behind it.  Paul, it’s time to venture out of your “Web 2.0” bubble and see that the world is big enough everyone to play in.

Domain name change

As of today, the address of this blog is now http://anotherlab.rajapet.net/.  The old name, http://anotherlab.blogspot.com, still works but you’ll see the new name in your browser’s address field.   I made the change after signing up for Google Apps.  I wanted to have a personal email address with my own domain and Google Apps will do that for free.  I’ve had rajapet.net parked at GoDaddy for the last few years (for a side project that never got off the ground), I figured I might as well use it.

After going through the steps with my domain registrar to map my domain name to Google’s mail servers, it was then a trivial matter to add a CNAME Record to rajapet.net have it point back to ghs.google.com.  Once I verified that the registration had been posted to that series of tubes, I went in to the Blogger Admin page and assigned anotherlab.rajapet.net to the blog.

I signed up for Google Apps mainly for the vanity email address, but now that I have it, I want to use more of the features like the Calendar.

I’m using more and more of Google these days.  Their Google Browser Sync extension was the feature that made me switch from Opera to Firefox for most of my web browsing needs.  I bounce back and forth between six machines between the office and home and I have the same bookmarks on each machine and Google takes care of it for me.  I have been an Opera fanboy for the last few years, it took a lot to make me switch.

My blog is run on Google (Blogger).  I have a GMail account and I use Google Talk to interact with one of our remote contract programmers.  After playing around with a few desktop based RSS Readers, I switched to Google Reader.  I for one, welcome our new Google Overlords.