2009-10-31

The Web

So, I am aware that kosmokaryote is actually broken in Internet Explorer. I think the stars and header do not appear. I haven't had regular access to a Windows computer in a while, so I haven't worried about it. I'm aware that anyone who finds my page will think it's a strange broken thing. I'm sure some friends have visited it with IE and now judged my web-competence negatively, but to them I say: use a browser I can use, and you will see what I can see! 'tis beauty.

Also, if anyone has access to IE and would like to spend some time helping me debug my page in it, that would not be unwelcome.

2009-10-30

DNS, CNAME, and name servers

I use Blogger for my blog. Blogger wants me to use Custom Domains rather than SFTPing content over to my server. That's fine. Let their servers handle the immense strain my blog is under from its abundant audience. Or at least let them dynamically host and regenerate labels pages and so forth, rather than spending minutes (MINUTES!) of time generating and copying them over to my server, where they'll just waste space anyway. Also, I don't have the most bandwidth. (So close, though.) Is it sad that I used more bandwidth in publishing my blog than I did in serving it to readers?

So, the other month, I set it up. I created the appropriate CNAME record, which can be used to redirect requests for, say, some subdomain (oh, blog.kosmokaryote.org) to some other, more canonical name, like ghs.google.com, where the content will actually be located. The swell thing is, unlike HTTP redirects and such, visitors still see it as hosted at my domain, and not at Google's. Hurrah. The deception (except for this post) is complete!

Or, it would have been complete. After making the change, for the the last 6 weeks, my blog has had downright sketchy availability. I mean, more than half the time I tried to visit it, it was unavailable. I tried to investigate a few times. Tried reapplying the CNAME change. Why not go back? Well, something with Blogger's SFTP transfer seemed broken, in that for the couple weeks before that, I hadn't been able to copy over anything anyway. So, have a blog that can't update or one that can update but is only available half the time?

Investigating again, trying to find out what could be the possible cause of the CNAME being findable sometimes and not others, and assuming that it wasn't the fault of the DNS system in general (originally, I thought that there was some annoying lag in the record's propagation, but no), I finally discovered that two very relevant nameservers were out of sync, and one of them was just not updating to know of the CNAME record. Ugh. It's been resolved now, so hopefully by tomorrow, all blog.kosmokaryote.org will be found, mwahahaha!

2009-10-25

Fedora 12: No steps forward, 8 steps back, off a cliff

I could swear I wrote a similar post about Fedora 11. Basically, a new release, and everything gets worse, again.

This time around:

  • X crashes a lot. Starting certain programmes crash my X server, making my desktop disappear and return to the login manager. Certain programmes like "About this Computer" and "System Monitor". Or, resuming from suspend. Yah, it's probably my video card, which is an intel and was once heralded as a good choice for Linux.
  • Suspend: I can suspend, and I can resume, and I can watch X crash after resuming. See above.
  • 3D effects and acceleration: the computer hangs now. It gives me two seconds of indecision and then just freezes up. Nothing to do but power down the machine.
  • The "good" video source is broken, somehow. I have to go to my multimedia subsystem's properties dialog (not installed by default) and change it over to something simpler to get any video from applications like Totem movie player, or to see my face played back from my webcam.
  • Cheese photo booth. Actually, this broken sometime in the last couple of months. It no longer shows a feed of what the webcam sees. Instead, when I start it, it shows one static frame from the webcam feed and doesn't update again. I can still take photos and video, but that's about it. Oh, stopping video freezes the programme, so I have to kill it and restart it.
  • Authenticate! So, certain administrative dialogues and menus requires the use "authenticate" themselves. I think you're supposed to put in the administrative (root) password, but I don't know, because clicking any of the buttons on the dialogue does nothing! Nothing! It just sits there. Closing it via the window manager still gets rid of it, thankfully.
  • Tablet not recognised as such. What's wrong with this? It used to work. It works now. It will soon not work. This is progress? I thought they might have instead fixed the bug where, after resuming from suspend, the cursor jumps when using the stylus. They did! By breaking tablet support for a relatively common tablet: an IBM Thinkpad X41t. Liv's tablet thankfully is recognised as such but encounters a ridiculous error in the driver during booting that prevents it from functioning. It doesn't even think to check that mine is a Tablet. Sigh.

This is why I cannot recommend Linux or Fedora in particular to any of my friends, ever. I need at least two releases where they haven't seriously broken existing functionality at launch. They've less than a month until the final release if anyone takes an interest in the myriad of bugs I filed yesterday for these. But, gauging from history, I might get a comment, and then they'll move on to bugs that matter to them more. Sigh.

Conclusion: Fedora 12 sucks. But I think I wrote an almost identical post about Fedora 11. Of course, after a week of tinkering, I was able to get things working on my system. I'm sure all users are sufficiently technically minded and forgiving to invest a week for Fedora 12, too!

2009-10-10

Window Cleaner

Cleaning windows is hard.

2009-10-05

Open Source Web Chat made Easy

AJAX Chat is awesome. Today a friend made a request for their birthday: could I help them setup a webchat for their website. At first I thought that this might require a lot of effort. I certainly wasn't going to write one. I asked whether a Java-plugin to an IRC server (a common solution) would do. No, preferably no IRC server and no Java. (Java is slow and ugly and requires plugin installation.) Perhaps something more AJAXy exists.

After only a couple minutes of Googling, prominently standing out was AJAX Chat. It's demo seemed near perfect with a few defects. "I could fix those" I thought, suppressing the dread of a long, protracted maintenance situation. I figured "Let's give it a try." It requires PHP and MySQL on the server, and my friend's account doesn't have either of those. Well, my hosting does, so perhaps we can just fiddle with a CNAME record for their domain and point it over.

So, in less than hour, I created a separate subdomain for this, I setup the DB for my account, I briefly reviewed the installation and security instructions for the software, I uploaded it, I did some minimal configuration, and, tada, it worked! Visitors need nothing beyond a JavaScript and cookie-enabled browser!

Then, over the course of another hour came some customisations. Adding registered users, modifying default login behaviour, add a purple-coloured stylesheet for default, change the default emoticon ascii (very necessary) and add a butler to the login page. Oh, and change the CNAME record, so it will hopefully appear like a seamless part of their website in a couple days time when the DNS change is propagated.

So, a neat gift in a minimal amount of time. Go computers. Now I'm sure they'll grow bored with it in a week's time :D

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.