Linux — Why?

June 16th, 2006 in OS - 3 Comments

I jumped on the open source bandwagon because of the freedom it offers, but as my blog attests, only three distros have been able to work on my system — Fedora Core 5, MEPIS and Knoppix. Mandriva detected the wrong screen resolution for a while.

I’ve come to realize that my system is both 64-bit [which requires a fair amount of tweaking] and comes with lots of useless hardware — XWindows doesn’t work because I’m too much of a newbie to configure it.

I’ve got a pile of Linux CDs as well as some DVDs — you’d think I’m a Linux hacker, but I don’t really understand much beyond ls, mount, mkdir, and cd [which is the same on Windows].

Hopefully, I should be able to save some money and get a different PC — I’m too scared of Vista as it is. Vista is bulky and, forget the breath-taking effects and annoying prompts, I don’t like the memory hog.

Poor Microsoft. Everyone expects them to be super-perfect at doing everything. Little wonder when I got my key to the Windows Vista Beta 2, I downloaded both the 32 and 64-bit versions to two of my last three blank DVDs.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the welcome screen was a Mac — those rounded blue buttons and gleaming … what are they called [close, minimize, maximize] — reminded me of Mac screenshots (I haven’t used a Mac before).

Let’s face it — Microsoft has some of the very best designers working for them, but I think Vista is primarily bug-ridden pretty bloatware. The fact that it only fits on a DVD is ample proof of that.

At first I oohed and aahed over the cool effects I saw. After a few minutes of that, I was completely annoyed, especially when I noticed the lag everytime I performed any resizing or hiding of windows. My system meets all the specs of the Vista requirement, save the 1GB memory but I have the minimum 512MB RAM.

Prowling within the new Windows Explorer, I loved the icons but I think Microsoft’s breaking a lot of things. One thing I had come to respect in Windows is that there is consistency while browsing files and folders in all versions I’ve used (95 to XP), so I was quite miffed when I couldn’t find any button to view the files in an Explorer tree — I don’t know if that’s the name, but you get the point.

I finally had to use the good ole Start Menu to explore my DVD disc where my sound drivers were. I prefer Windows XP’s start menu better.

While browsing my DVD, I discovered that the my DVD drive was displayed twice and each expanded when I cliicked on one. It then became a matter of probability. I’d click one folder and it’d expand. The duplicate doesn’t expand — it only shows the folders inside it. I’m sorry if I’m not being very candid.

I had to rush back to the library to resume my shift [most of my exploration was done during my 30-minute break]. My boss noticed how bored I was sitting behind the computer lab desk and granted me a fifteen minute break.

I rushed off to the dorm and met a blank screen. I shifted my mouse a few times, then tapped angrily on different keys. It took about five minutes before the system purred and something came on my screen:

Windows is waking up from sleep…

I stared at my screen in disbelief. After about three minutes, Vista exited in grand style — with the infamous ‘Blue Screen of Death.’

I simply restarted and booted to good ol’ XP. As usual, my system was up and running in less than two minutes. With little time to spare, I sent some messages to friends and rushed back to the library where I currently type this.

Give me a fast system anyday — it’s going to take some bravery for me to boot to my second hard disk again.

XSLT Transformations

May 24th, 2006 in Coding - 1 Comment

This is something I’ve never tried before. Something told me to make my RSS 2.0 feed readable.

Since I’ve never formatted XML with anystylesheet before, I decided to try my hand at using CSS for my formatting. It was rather dull 😉 so I jumped to the dreaded XSL method — something I ran away from when I tried to learn everything XML.

To my surprise [and delight], it was a piece of cake. I’ve added a line of code to the files responsible for generating the RSS 2.0 and Comments (RSS 2.0) feeds, since more people use RSS 2 than Atom.

Hopefully, it’ll be easier to view from the browser :D.

Yahoo and Ajax

May 18th, 2006 in General - No Comments

Google popularized Ajax with GMail. Yahoo’s taken it over the top with their new homepage. It’s just as well that Yahoo moved over to Ajax because I know Microsoft was planning something along that line with Live.

If Ajax doesn’t turn out to be another fad, then bby 2008, most sites will be more like applications.

I certainly don’t want to miss out on the fun — I’m glad I joined the band-wagon early.

Not Enough Time

May 18th, 2006 in General - 2 Comments

It seems I want to learn everything there is to know in this world — maybe it’s because I get my feeling of prestige from knowing a lot. I’ve always known I can’t know it all — yet, I keep trying.

I’ve always eyed hardware programming right from when I started out. Hardware has always fascinated me — how do you write code to tell a chunk of metal to do something? How do you build the hardware itself and interface it with something else? These are some questions I’ve always asked myself.

I find myself getting annoyed presently because I can’t seem to understand the C++ book I’m currently with. I think I’ll just skip it and moveover to something more challenging. I hate writing code for which I find no use — console programs.

Maybe my feeling of inadequacy is prompted by the fact that I’ve written programs in other languages that allow easy creation of GUIs.

With so much on my hands these days, I just might…

Web.config

May 16th, 2006 in General - No Comments

IIS is a great server — writen especially for Windows, it functions exactly the way it’s meant to, ignoring the security breaches and high response time from the folks at Microsoft.

One thing that gets me annoyed about using PHP and IIs is the lack of support for url-rewriting. Except you’ve installed some third-party tool like ISAPI-Rewrite, you can’t do any rewriting except you’re running Asp.NET.

I feel this gives Asp.NET an unfair advantage because you can easily use the Web.config file to enable rewrite support for your application.

.htaccess on Apache however, is generic which leads me to believe that the Web.config file can serve as a .htaccess file on Windows — it’s simple logic. Instead of heading into IIS to set directory permissions, one simply needs to place a Web.config file with the required permissions inside the folder.

Maybe Apache’s spoiled me :cry:.

AJAX Conquered

May 14th, 2006 in Coding - No Comments

I knew I was going to find a way out of the IE mess. A little skeptical about what I’d be able to find, I Googled reusing xmlhttprequest objects in ie and hit the jackpot on the first try. Here’s the solution, which I got from Pavan Keely’s blog.

Currently, my custom AJAX class works perfectly. The annoying aspect of my search was that Microsoft didn’t have anything on it — in fact, their documentation has been upgraded for IE 7 (which sports the same window.XMLHttpRequest object as Firefox).

Hopefully, as more and more developers move towards Web 2.0, the browsers will cooperate more and more. I know Firefox lifted the window.ActiveXObject(‘XMLHTTP’) concept from IE and made it into one of the core objects of the browser, but it’s still good. I’m impressed by Microsoft’s humility of late.

AJAX Nuances

May 12th, 2006 in Coding - No Comments

I got a book on Ajax (Ajax in Action) some centuries ago (January) and lifted the custom class Eric Pascarello et al used. I discovered I didn’t like their logic very much and decided to write mine to make use of just one XMLHttpRequest object.

That was when I ran into a very annoying snag — IE (the most annoying browser on earth — try viewing the bottom of this page in IE). Internet Explorer, simply put, allowed me to make only one call with the Microsoft.ActiveXObject(‘XMLHTTP’) object, just once — after that, all calls failed to fire.

I tried every which way, because my previous model of ExamDirect created a new object per request in both IE and Firefox — which led to increasing memory. If I hadn’t used reusable DOM nodes, I’d have been a goner in terms of memory management. Now, I really am stumped, with no single idea how to work around it.

I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with something very soon, however.

Impatience

April 23rd, 2006 in Coding - 6 Comments

I must be the most impatient creature on the surface of this earth — especially when it comes to learning. Everytime I learn something, I’m tempted to move directly to what interests me — not the preliminaries.

C++ is the classic example. I’ve gone back to it and I’m trying not to give in to the pressure making me to skip certain chapters. I’m playing with vectors and class operators presently and I daresay it’s super.

In ten days — I have some other things doing — I should be moving to Win32 or OpenGL programming — whichever catches my fancy. I hope I don’t let my impatience ruin/rule me this time.

MTN Clone

April 5th, 2006 in Coding, Design - 2 Comments

I was recently told by my former boss from CADS Consulting to collaborate with him on an educational project he got. He’s new to PHP and wants to make a PHP version of what he has already [we wrote it together in Asp.NET].

The project is sponsored by MTN Nigeria so I had to come up with a suitable clone that displays similarly across all browsers [they’re deploying on Linux].

I think I’ve done beautifully and for once commend myself on my work. I intend to make it an Ajax system for speed. Since it supports themes, I made the theme structure very very similar — it just switches a particular stylesheet for colours.

Internet Explorer as usual has a bug — the bottom background of the page doesn’t change (except you minimise the window and restore it). I wish someone would give Microsoft a lesson in browser design.

The current prototype (just design) can be found at the Demo page. You can change the theme by using the dropdown list on the left. I have another minor problem — the MTN Logo doesn’t fit well with the green and blue backgrounds. I also haven’t added Previous, Next and Bookmark buttons on the left.

The menus, like all menus I use are pure css (IE needs a little javascript jogging to make them work unlike all other browsers) — it’s made up of lists so unlike the ones on the MTN site, it is search-engine-crawlable.