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Reddit and Digg sure work differently

Con­sid­er this:

I ex­pect­ed both sites to have more or less the same au­di­ence, and if any­thing, digg to be larg­er, thus give more votes.

Any­one has even a wild guess at the di­ver­gence?

What I want for christmas (The cool new trend on preloaded Linux)

Dear fictional character that oppreses the workers of
the North Pole:

This christmas, I want an Asus eee PC, an Everex gPC,
and some bare white box with a nice Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS.

Why am I ask­ing the red men­ace from the north for these item­s?

Well, they do have one thing in com­mon: Lin­ux. An­oth­er is that they are con­sumer box­es, not server­s.

For many years, one of the huge ad­van­tages win­dows had was that it came pre­loaded with most PC­s. This en­abled peo­ple to turn a blind eye to win­dows in­stal­la­tion and con­fig­u­ra­tion since it was done by Some­one Else (T­M).

Since get­ting Lin­ux has be­come much eas­i­er in the last 10 years [1] this has been very frus­trat­ing. Imag­ine you had some­thing you gave away for free, but peo­ple kept us­ing some­thing more ex­pen­sive be­cause they had to pay for it any­way!

That itch­es. If Lin­ux was not cho­sen be­cause it was in­fe­ri­or for the task at hand, that's one thing, but not even be­ing able to be test­ed be­cause the oth­er prod­uct was bun­dled and paid for? An­noy­ing.

Of course on servers this worked dif­fer­ent­ly. The OS was not the ex­pen­sive part, and was pre­loaded less of­ten. Cor­po­ra­tions have pre­ar­ranged li­cens­ing terms, and adding things to the mix is sim­pler.

But for con­sumer­s, preload­ing has been a huge prob­lem [2]

So, if the jol­ly tres­pass­er brings me what I or­dered, I will find the fol­low­ing:

  • Asus eee: A cheap sub­­note­­book with Lin­ux and KDE pre­load­ed.

  • Ev­erex gPC: A cheap Desk­­top with Lin­ux and En­­light­en­­men­t(!?) pre­load­ed.

  • Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS: an em­bed­d­ed hy­per­vi­­sor and Lin­ux OS.

The eee is prob­a­bly the most ap­peal­ing. It's ide­al for many us­es:

  • Sales­­men who are now us­ing some un­­god­­ly Black­­ber­ry app (or worse)

  • Sys­tem and net­­work ad­min­s. Re­al­­ly. I would love to have a cheap note­­book I won't hes­­i­­tate bring­ing to a roof, a bar, the beach, what­ev­er. It would live in my bag. My cur­rent note­­book? Be­­sides weight­ing 8 pound­s, it's ex­pen­­sive and large. All I need are we­b­­pages email and SSH ses­­sion­s!

  • Kids and stu­­dents (it's cheap! You can buy a re­­place­­ment if he drops coffe on it!)

  • Ba­sic users and old peo­­ple. Re­al­­ly, an of­­fice-­­like thing and a web browser? And I can use it wher­ev­er there's wifi? Neat.

And it is go­ing to get a lot cheap­er, and it's go­ing to get a lot bet­ter. I ex­pect there will be a 32G­B, 10" mod­el by the end of next year for $350, and the cur­rent mod­el avail­able for $250 (after al­l, half the com­po­nents are cheap as dirt al­ready, on­ly flash is ex­pen­sive, and that's a fluke)

And so on and so forth. If Asus cre­ates a de­cent dock [3] and a nice rdif­f-back­up-based back­up so­lu­tion (it should be at least as nice as Ap­ple's Time Ma­chine), this box turns in­to my main com­put­er when­ev­er I am at home, and is a use­ful tool on the road. I re­al­ly can live with those spec­s.

The gPC is a bit hard­er to grasp.

First, it's even cheap­er. $200 is cheap. The CPU is slow­ish, but there are a whole range of tasks that are not CPU bound. I re­al­ly want one of those as a home serv­er. This is the first time I can see one of these ITX box­es as ac­tu­al­ly cheap not just small (in fact this one is not small at al­l).

  • I have a TV cap­­ture card, I could make a PVR out of it us­ing Lin­uxM­CE? It does have enough CPU for that (s­ince I am do­ing it with a slow­er box al­ready)

  • A file server? More than good enough for that.

  • A house­­guest com­put­er?

  • A MPD server?

  • All of the above?

And do all this while be­ing qui­et and pow­er-­ef­fi­cien­t? Neat!

And the Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS sim­ply would be cool be­cause I can vir­tu­al­ize with­out jump­ing through any hoop­s. This one is still fuzzy for me, but I on­ly found out about it to­day. I need time for things to grow.

Why do I think these box­es mark a trend? Be­cause they are def­i­nite­ly low-end prod­uct­s. These are meant to be made by thou­sands and hun­dreds of thou­sand­s, and make small mon­ey on each.

The mak­ers are be­ing smart about pro­vid­ing as lit­tle func­tion­al­i­ty as they can and mak­ing them sim­ple, niche, con­sumer prod­ucts in­stead of mon­stru­osly pow­er­ful Lin­ux mon­sters (sor­ry for how ug­ly that sound­s).

An­oth­er fac­tor is the huge growth of web apps that work well on non-IE browsers. This is mak­ing the OS ir­rel­e­vant just like Net­scape hoped in 1996. If the OS is in­vis­i­ble, Lin­ux won.

So, Santa, for this christmas I ask for all these toys,
and if it has to be only one, please make it the Asus eee.

                                            Roberto Alsina

PS: and if you don't do your part, the raindeer's a goner!

I used to like Paul Graham's "Hackers and Painters"...

... I was to­tal­ly wrong. Read Dab­blers and Blowhards for the re­al thing.

In­spired para­graph:

Great paint­ings, for ex­am­ple, get you laid in a way that great com­put­er pro­grams nev­er do. Even not-­so-­great paint­ings - in fac­t, any slap­dash at­tempt at splash­ing paint on­to a sur­face - will get you laid more than writ­ing soft­ware, es­pe­cial­ly if you have the slight­est hint of be­ing a tor­tured, brood­ing soul about you. For ev­i­dence of this I would point to my col­lege class­mate Hen­ning, who was a Swedish dou­ble art/the­atre ma­jor and on most days could bare­ly walk.

Bash does thing I never suspected.

Try this and be amazed:

$ cat < /dev/tcp/gsmtp163.google.com/25
220 mx.google.com ESMTP 12si345086nzn

Be hon­est: did you know bash could do that? I did­n't un­til find­ing it in the man page

Now try this and be amazed it does­n't work (yes, it's in the doc­s):

$ cat /dev/tcp/gsmtp163.google.com/25
cat: /dev/tcp/gsmtp163.google.com/25: No such file or directory

And re­mem­ber, on unix ev­ery­thing is a file, but maybe that file is on­ly there in some very spe­cif­ic cir­cun­stances.

UP­DATE: There is a chance this will not work in your dis­tro, specif­i­cal­ly De­bian.

Lateral Opinion's greatest hits

Since this blog just broke the 100K vis­i­tors bar­ri­er yes­ter­day (although it had about 150K more when it was lat­er­al.pyc­s.net), it's a good time to re­vis­it some of the old stuff that was some­what good.

So here are (IMVHO) the best ten things I re­mem­ber writ­ing in this blog in the last 7 years.

  1. Data-aware wid­gets in PyQt

    This ar­ti­­cle de­scribes a cool (a­­gain, IMVHO) way to im­­ple­­ment DB-backed apps us­ing PyQt. It's short, work­ing code and you end be­ing able to cre­ate neat stuff. I liked it, noone else did.

  1. Be a good lamar­ck­­ian frog­­gy

    It has it al­l! Evo­lu­­tion the­o­ry (the­o­ries)! It pre­­tends to pro­­vide in­­sights in­­­to FLOSS! Movie-­crit­ic-­­like quotes in the com­­ments!

    best blog i've read in a long, long time.

    —Aaron Sei­­go

  1. Rapid Ap­­pli­­ca­­tion de­vel­op­­ment us­ing PyQt and Er­ic3 ... in re­al­­time!

    An orig­i­­nal premise, a semi-use­­ful app writ­ten, got good re­views. I still like it, but sad­­ly it's not a for­­mat that ages well, since you can't up­­­date the tu­­to­ri­al for new­er ver­­sions of PyQt.

  1. Squid au­then­ti­­ca­­tion via POP or IMAP

    It solves a re­al prob­lem, does it el­e­­gan­t­­ly, and I still am in­­stalling it.

  1. Shared: Nar­­nia, The Da Vin­­ci Code is Bro­ken., Kong at dawn, Ma­trix Rev­o­lu­­tions, Troy (not Mc­­Clure), Dou­ble fea­­ture at the Elec­tric

    I some­­times try to "re­view" movies in an odd­­ball way. Please read them if you saw the movies. I think I made sense.

  1. Skele­­tons of sto­ries that won't ev­er be writ­ten.

    I have no idea why I wrote it, but I still like it.

  1. The world cup and I

    Too sen­ti­­men­­tal, but hey, I did feel that way.

  1. Fro­­do as a Hack­­er

    The sub­­ti­­tle is "Shame­­less ex­­plo­­sion of nerdi­­tude." and it is that. I am at the same time very ashamed of writ­ing it, and rather amazed by it.

  1. The Lin­ux Boot­ing Process Un­veiled

    One of my most pop­u­lar ar­ti­­cles. It's even cit­ed as a re­f­er­ence on Lin­ux boot­ing in Wikipedi­a! (I ed­it­ed it be­­cause they had the link wrong, though). It was even copied with­­out atri­bu­­tion a cou­­ple of times.

  1. A Mod­­est Us­a­bil­i­­ty Im­prove­­ment

    Oth­­er ar­ti­­cles had more links, more views, or more com­­ments, but this ar­ti­­cle in­­spired the cre­a­tion of two new apps that are much bet­ter than what was around be­­fore I wrote it, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy in­­sid­e. So, check it out, then use Speed­crunch or Abakus in­­stead of kcalc (or win­­cal­c).


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