Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

PHP Developers in Ottawa

June 17th, 2008 at 2:09 am

Live in Ottawa? Interested in PHP? Join the PHP Developers in Ottawa Facebook group.

The T2450CT

June 6th, 2006 at 7:47 pm

So I picked up a my first laptop at a garage sale recently and am now the proud owner of a Toshiba Satelite T2450CT. This puppy boasts some seriously awesome specs:

Processor: 486 DX/4
Memory: 16MB
Harddrive: 500MB
Screen: 640×480 Active Matrix Display
CD-Drive: None
Network Card: None
Sound Card: None
USB: None
SCSI: Surprisingly, yes!

So over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly preparing to push some lightweight linux distribution onto it.

Problem #1:
How do I get anything larger than 1.44mb onto the harddrive? It doesn’t have a cd-drive, nor any usb ports. It also doesn’t have a network card. It does, however, have 2 PCMCIA slots. So my first plan of action was to get it a network card so I could at least copy files onto it over a network.

Problem #1.1:
PCMCIA is an evolving standard. Sadly, back in 1994 when the T2450CT was being designed, PCMCIA was still in the 16bit era (also known as PC CARD). At some point PCMCIA was upgraded to 32bit (also known as Cardbus) and it hasn’t looked back since. This means though, that pretty much everything in stock at any computer store at the moment is 32bit PCMCIA and incompatible with the little T2450CT. Fortunately, Ebay is a wonderful resource for out of date computer hardware. So, after $20 (CDN), and 5-6 days of shipping, I now own a Linksys WPC11 PCMCIA 11Mbps 802.11b ‘PC Card’.

Problem #2:
Apparently when the previous owner had tried to sell the T2450CT earlier, potential buyers were turned away by the fact that he had installed some form of Linux on it. So to appease the market, the previous owner managed to cram Win98SE on this little 486 (I really have no idea how). Sadly, I have no desire to run Win98SE on this 16MB.

So anyways, after a brief search I’ve settled on trying to get Damn Small Linux (a 50mb distribution) up and running on the machine using the “Alternative Poorman’s Install.” I chose DSL because a) I’ve had experience with the Xbox port of DSL (X-DSL) and b) because it seems to have a fairly active userbase with the odd person working on similar hardware to the T2450CT.

What I’ve learned, so far, about running DSL on the T2450CT:

  • At the boot menu use the “lowram” cheat code, and specify your memory size like so: Boot: lowram mem=16M
  • The memory specification seems to work with all the different cheat codes, so after I realized “lowram” was hanging while launching X, I was able to get through a full boot by using: Boot: dsl 2 mem=16M which tells DSL to launch in console only mode.

Current Status: No gui, no networking, but working command prompt.

I’m going to try and keep posting progress reports under the T2450CT category so that others trying similar stuff with a T2450CT can use this as a resource, but I’m usually not very good at following through, so who knows.


February 13th, 2006 at 3:29 am

“Well, there’s a revolution going on in rec-rooms, offices, and classrooms, around the world. A revolution where 15 million people are taking part. They’re sharing scientific data, arguing philosophy, or passing on cooking tips, and gossip. Night and day, through a computer network called ‘Internet'”…

Google Video – “Internet from old days”

Bake me a Cake

February 12th, 2006 at 10:42 pm

Initial thoughts on trying to work with the Cake PHP Framework (read: Ruby on Rails in PHP)…

  • The documentation sure is lacking
  • Why doesnt the ‘bake’ script have a ‘–help’ (or any other help type switch)?
  • I refuse to name my db table primary keys as ‘id’. In my opinion it should always be singular-table-name+id, i.e. ‘Users’ table → userid (or user_id), ‘Books’ table → bookid, etc. Is this an normal “Active Record” thing (it seems thats how RoR does it too)? I see that Cake may support the defining of primary key names, but I’m somewhat concerned this will complicate the association magic of it’s ActiveRecord implementation. Again, it’d be nice to have some clear documentation on this.
  • The rd11 programs are interesting resources for fully functioning Cake apps, but so nearly completely uncommented it’s unfortunate (at least, rdBloggery is).
  • I really wish it had some sort of drop-in user system. RoR’s Login Engine looks really nice, and as a ‘rails engine’ it is “a way of dropping in whole chunks of functionality into your existing application without affecting any of your existing code. [Engines] could also be described as mini-applications, or vertical application slices – top-to-bottom units which provide full MVC coverage for a certain, specific application function.” (Introduction in Rails Engines)

Anyways… Overall, I’m not completely dissatissfied with the experience, but the above are really making it more of an uphill battle than it needs to be, especially since, after having read several different cake reference resources for days, once I finally had my ‘Ah-ha’ moment, I had something working after only an hour of work. One of the beautiful things about PHP is it’s online documentation. I’ve pretty much earned my living for the last few years using a language I learned almost entirely through the online documentation (plus a good 10 years of computer programming experience to build-upon, but still! :P )

Engadget: Let Doctor Who read your text messages

January 31st, 2006 at 2:17 pm

What a great idea…

Doctor WhoIf you live in the UK and use BT’s text-to-voice system to get your SMS messages delivered to your landline, you’ll be hearing a familiar voice at the other end of the line for the next few months. BT has scrapped the computerized voice the company had been using for the system, and replaced it with the voice of Tom Baker of Dr. Who fame. Baker spent 11 days recording nearly 12,000 words and sounds, which were then processed by BT engineers for five months in order to be usable by the text-to-speech system.

Apparently Virgin Mobile (at least in Canada) has some guy who says things to you like ‘You have no messages. None. Seriously’ (paraphrasing), and so on, instead of the standard message center droning. Seems like a fun, if somewhat useless, idea.

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Networking Panel

January 25th, 2006 at 10:49 pm

So when we were searching for houses one I thing I kept an eye out for were electicity outlets and phone jacks. The house we ended up purchasing was fairly well taken care of for the first point (it had had it’s electricity completely updated a few years ago), but extremely deficient in the phone-jack department.

In fact, it actually only had 1 jack in the entire house, and it was in the living room (despite the fact that whoever ‘staged’ the house for showing had placed a phone in the master bedroom, we noticed on our second showing that it wasn’t connected to anything. Sneaky!).


Firefox 1.5 hits the web

November 29th, 2005 at 8:22 pm

The best browser, in my opinion, has just released it’s first major revision since reaching v1.0. Get it here. The changelog summary is quoted below for your convenience.

Here’s what’s new in Firefox 1.5:

  • Automated update to streamline product upgrades. Notification of an update is more prominent, and updates to Firefox may now be half a megabyte or smaller. Updating extensions has also improved.
  • Faster browser navigation with improvements to back and forward button performance.
  • Drag and drop reordering for browser tabs.
  • Improvements to popup blocking.
  • Clear Private Data feature provides an easy way to quickly remove personal data through a menu item or keyboard shortcut.
  • is added to the search engine list.
  • Improvements to product usability including descriptive error pages, redesigned options menu, RSS discovery, and “Safe Mode” experience.
  • Better accessibility including support for DHTML accessibility and assistive technologies such as the Window-Eyes 5.5 beta screen reader for Microsoft Windows. Screen readers read aloud all available information in applications and documents or show the information on a Braille display, enabling blind and visually impaired users to use equivalent software functionality as their sighted peers.
  • Report a broken Web site wizard to report Web sites that are not working in Firefox.
  • Better support for Mac OS X (10.2 and greater) including profile migration from Safari and Mac Internet Explorer.
  • New support for Web Standards including SVG, CSS 2 and CSS 3, and JavaScript 1.6.
  • Many security enhancements.

The Burning Edge has more detailed lists of new features and notable bug fixes.

Microsoft Word for DOS – Today’s Free File

November 25th, 2005 at 4:13 am

…guess what: Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS is still available, and Microsoft is giving it away. Turns out Microsoft released a Y2K patch for Word back in 1999, and rather than try to sell it, they just posted the whole program on the web for anyone to take. Six years on, the link is still live, though I doubt too many people download it.

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Amazon wants to pay YOU for small tasks

November 4th, 2005 at 5:09 pm

Amazon’s new “Mechanical Turk” service will pay you for completing small tasks for them or third parties. Tasks include picking the best picture of a building, or refining a product description.

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Google Personalized Homepage goes International

November 3rd, 2005 at 10:03 am

A Canadian google-developer writes on the google blog: “today we expanded the personalized homepage to 16 new regions: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and ahem, Canada.”

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