Archive for February, 2007

Petition for Linux Users

February 28th, 2007 by sjan

Bryan Peters at has put out a petition for users of Linux to add their voice to the Open Letter to Steve Ballmer to show the code where Linux infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property. It would seem to be the only strategy left to MS at this point, is to prove that there is some basis for their threats of lawsuit against distributors of Linux for IP infringement, or to apologize tactfully and say “We made a mistake.”

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New(?) sorting algorithm

February 25th, 2007 by sjan

George Papadopoulos has released BitFast – a linked list sorting algorithm with examples written in C and C++. He claims sort performance 10 times faster than the MergeSort Algorithm. (But where is the Big O notation?)

You can see the project site, which has a download link for the C and C++ source code. The explanation is fairly clear, although it seems a little sparse to me. The source code lacks in comments, and has been written as proof of concept only, but it will provide the experienced C or C++ developer with a better understanding of what he is doing.

Mostly, it looks like he is applying the Radix Sort Algorithm to linked lists of integers or floats. This does nothing for strings, and the proof-of-concept code is only set up to handle 32 bit number values only. Perhaps the only difference between Radix and BitFast, is that Papadopoulos claims that BitFast is an in-place algorithm and an online algorithm.

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TN ad agency uses AK photo in Outdoor Mag

February 22nd, 2007 by sjan

Since it is National Recreational Sports and Fitness Day, I thought I would pass this one along:

The Tennessee State Tourism Agency took out a half-page ad in Outdoor Magazine (among others) inviting mountain bikers to visit. The problem was, as Tim Woody noticed right away, that the picture was from a 1997 National Geographic story by Alaskan Roman Dial about traversing the Alaskan Range by mountain bike. The picture? Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park.

Gung hei fat choi

February 18th, 2007 by sjan

Happy New Lunar Year, the Chinese year of the pig! As I mentioned last month, all calendars are arbitrary, but they provide the means to tell when it is time to celebrate. Like now! And may the pig year bring you all the prosperity it promises!

Preparing for the Daylight Saving change

February 16th, 2007 by sjan

Daylight Saving Time in the US, Canada and Bermuda will be four weeks longer this year, starting three weeks earlier than in the past, and ending one week later. Of course, this means that programs that rely on time conversions based on local time zones will need to be fixed. Or does it?

While there are a good deal of comparisons being made to the Y2K issue, this issue is much less of a bother for most systems. Since the majority of software relies on system time (although Java, Outlook, Exchange and Oracle use their own conversion routines and need tp be updated/patched) this leaves only systems to be updated. Here is a useful document that explains the issue, and provides links to information and/or patches for Windows, OS X, Redhat, Ubuntu and generic *nix (Unix, Linux, Solaris, etc.)

Microsoft is not providing a patch for Windows NT, 2000, or XP SP 1, unless you pay a $4000 flat fee for the hotfix. However, there is an unofficial patch available at IntelliAdmin.

Gentoo users can patch by doing an emerge --sync && emerge -u timezone-data

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Really BIG Databases

February 15th, 2007 by sjan

Found this article while digging this evening.

It seems that topping this ‘Top 10’ list for large databases is The World Data Center for Climate (WDCC), operated by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and the German Climate Computing Center.

The WDCC has 220 terabytes of web-accessible data, plus another 6 petabytes of additional data. (Three times the total information in all the US academic research libraries combined.) I would hate to see how that ran on anything slower than their 35 million euro supercomputer!

I should also mention that in the comments section several even larger databases are mentioned in the traditional, post-top-10-anything-countdown, hey-what-about-so-and-so fest.

DNS Root Servers Attacked

February 6th, 2007 by sjan

At least 3 of the 13 global root servers were briefly overwhelmed in a sustained attack last night, lasting, in some cases, as long as 12 hours. Looking at the RIPE NCC DNS monitoring service it seems that 2 of them, G (US Dept of Defense) and L (ICANN) were having the most difficulty dealing with and recovering from the attack.

At this point the attacks seem to have been aimed at UltraDNS, which primarily handles traffic for .org sites.

While there is as yet no mention of who is suspected or what their motives may be, there was a similar attack last year on UltraDNS.

The AP’s report is here.

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The ‘Real’ Big Event

February 5th, 2007 by sjan

For linux fans the ‘Real’ Big Event yesterday wasn’t the superbowl, but the latest Linux kernel relase (2.6.20). This release includes 2 different virtualization implementations, KVM and paravirtualization as well as PS3 support.

The highlight, though, has to be Linus Torvalds’ post on the subject.

Date Sun, 4 Feb 2007 11:10:36 -0800 (PST)
From Linus Torvalds <>
Subject Super Kernel Sunday!
In a widely anticipated move, Linux “headcase” Torvalds today announced
the immediate availability of the most advanced Linux kernel to date,
version 2.6.20.

Before downloading the actual new kernel, most avid kernel hackers have
been involved in a 2-hour pre-kernel-compilation count-down, with some
even spending the preceding week doing typing exercises and reciting PI
to a thousand decimal places.

The half-time entertainment is provided by randomly inserted trivial
syntax errors that nerds are expected to fix at home before completing
the compile, but most people actually seem to mostly enjoy watching the
compile warnings, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, scroll past.

The full text of Linus’ announcement can be seen on