Python Programming, news on the Voidspace Python Projects and all things techie.
Time for a New Computer (Nearly!)
I can nearly afford a new PC. I have to choose between :
- A laptop (possibly running Linux)
- Build or buy a new PC and put Linux on my current computer (an AMD XP 3000+)
- A Mac mini
At work we have PCs using both Intel Dual Core processors and using the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 processors. Even though they are clocked slower than the Intels, the AMDs very noticeably outperform them. This makes me want a faster PC at home.
On balance I think I will get the most extra benefit from buying a Mac. Given that I won't use it for gaming (so the poor graphics card isn't an issue), the higher specced mini looks good value. It could probably do with some extra memory though.
Now that there are Intel Macs around, I wonder if anyone will port Psyco to run on them ?
That reminds me, there is an interesting Need for Speed Sprint taking place in Reykjavik later this month. EWT, the creators of Eve Online  are sponsoring this. They want to see speed enhancements in various parts of Python.
There used to be some rumours of PyPy goals at the Need for Speed sprint, but these seem to have been removed from the Wiki page 
|||Written using Stackless Python.|
|||There is actually a recent 1.5.1 release which I hadn't noticed before. This has some bugfixes and fixes for compatibility with Python 2.5.|
|||The fabled PyPy JIT compiler did have a mention there...|
The Little Things
I had a good day yesterday, a few little things went right.
Actually some of them are thanks to readers of this blog. Hey thanks, I knew there was a reason I did this.
Firstly, thanks to a comment that pointed me to a page on reclaiming folders after a new windows install, I managed to recover all the documents and contacts I lost a few weeks ago. That's great.
Secondly, after finally giving up on bluetooth for all time, I have connected my Nokia phone to my PC using a good old fashioned cable. I have Python running on it, which looks really cool. I haven't done anything with it yet. So I've now synced my PDA and my phone with Outlook and backed up my phone numbers to umpteen places. From the Nokia PC Suite you can send and receive texts, which is nice.
Thirdly, again thanks to a suggestion in a comment, I've discovered CDBurnerXP Pro. This is a really nice freeware tool for burning CDs and DVDs. Nice one.
Wow, my fifth entry that isn't about Python. I don't think that's ever happened before in the brief history of this blog.
Anyway, my hard disks are nearly full. Time to back some stuff up onto DVD and file it away . (I notice that Mark Pilgrim is also having problems with doing large backups, hence the title of this blog.)
I didn't fancy paying for Nero, so I tried the freeware ImgBurn recommended by a commenter on this blog.
It worked great for burning the ISO image of the Ubuntu Live CD I played with. True to its name though, it is for burning images, and (as far as I can tell) won't construct the image for you from data files.
I then searched for open source ISO image creators. After a non-extensive search (google and sourceforge) I failed to find any . I did find Deepburner which will create images as well as burn disks.
The free version of deepburner doesn't have a verify option though. I've turned enough cheap media into coasters to always want to verify my disks. I'm now using Deepburner to create the ISO images, and then ImgBurn to write the disks. This is easy, and works fine, but it's a bit slow. Better suggestions welcomed.
|||And if I delete it from my hard drive I want two backups.|
|||Which surprised me, someone ought to write one in Python...|
Search for the Metaverse
At this invite only conference (organised by the Acceleration Studies Foundation) aimed to set out a a coherent path to the so-called metaverse--an Internet dominated by 3D technology, social spaces and economies.
After the summit, Robert Scoble raved about Croquet. Croquet is a 3D operating system, written in smalltalk, that is still in it's early stages. Nice to see it get some good publicity, it certainly looks interesting.
Nearly a Linux Convert
A while ago I blogged about my windows disaster, where a poorly thought out Windows re-install caused me to lose data.
Basically the new administrator user (me) can't access the data contained in the home directory of the old administrator user (me).
The main loss was all my phone numbers which weren't backed up due to my PDA simultaneously futzing up.
Someone on my blog suggested I try booting from a Linux live CD and seeing if I could access the data that way. After downloading the Ubuntu 5.10 Live CD  over the weekend, I have finally got around to trying it.
My previous two attempts with Linux were a shambles. Both times I gave up after much hand waving and head-scratching. Admittedly they were on old hardware and in weird(-ish) network situations. This time was a lot more straightforward.
I have a few minor gripes :
- It took ten minutes to boot. This is probably to be expected, given that it is installing an operating system, but I didn't expect it.
- It didn't like my dual screen setup, putting alarmingly garish stripes across one of them.
- A minute or two into the boot it stalled, claiming it couldn't mount the Ubuntu CD. It took me a few minutes to work out that it couldn't cope with the CD in the other drive.
and then, bingo...
Ah... seeing Linux on my PC, it was like seeing an old friend . I'm very tempted to install it on my desktop.
In practise I think I will wait until I buy a laptop, and put Linux on that. (Killing two birds with one stone as it were...)
It was great to browse the web (with no hiccups) on Firefox, the way it was meant to be.
More to the point I could access the data that Windows is so dutifully protecting for me. The only problem is that Ubuntu mounts the NTFS drives as read only. I want to copy the data out and then delete the directory. Still, a bit more research and I should be there. phew
|||Another legitimate use for bittorrent.|
|||A bizarre reaction given that my only experience of Linux is remote logins to servers !|
Today at work there were only three of us, which doesn't make for effective pair programming.
So today I setup a system that would do a daily build of our program and upload it to a protected area of our website. (As I'm at my 'other job' tomorrow I won't find out if it has worked until Wednesday.)
That meant setting up a scheduled task to run a DOS script on our integration machine, and then setting up a cron job (bash script) on our onsite server to push the build to the webserver using SFTP.
I've done barely any 'real world' scripting before, so this was new, interesting and frustrating.
Hardest of all was getting the file transfer to work. I went round and round in circles getting permission errors. I bet you knew that in order to write to a directory you needed executable permissions for the group as well as write permissions.
Every time I set up a new Windoze box I forget how to shutdown the bloody irritating beep. It's one of those things I do infrequently enough, that I always forget how to do it.
This entry is so that next time I know exactly where to find the right information.
Right click My Computer->Properties->Hardware->Device Manager. Click on View->Show Hidden Devices. Click on Non-Plug and Play Drivers. Find the entry titled Beep. Right click and disable it.
Note for the sake of google, this entry is about how to disable the internal PC speaker. Life can be much more pleasant when you know how to switch off this anachronistic little device.
Cheap & Free VoIP Calls
One of the new opportunities provided by the internet is free and cheap phone calls, through a protocol called VoIP; Voice Over IP.
I've just added an article that looks at free and cheap VoIP providers and programs, with a particular emphasis on Linux and PocketPC devices.
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