User experience, web, technology


I was walking on campus last week thinking about the acronym LAMP, which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, and realized that if it was on a Windows server running IIS, it would be WIMP.

User experience, web, technology

Prognosticating on LAMP vs .NET, J2EE

Dvorak wrote an article on, “Windows Vista: Where’s the Buzz?,” in which he made some predictions on the future of web technology. It all started with his observation on the lack of excitement about Microsoft naming their coming OS as “Vista.”

Linux/Apache will own the server space and with the emergence of MySQL and PHP as the hot development tools over Microsoft .NET and J2EE there will be no way to unseat it. In popular parlance this is commonly referred to as LAMP.

It’s an interesting statement because MySQL and PHP are not as full-featured technologies as .NET and J2EE. So, from a large-scale developement perspective, they aren’t as strong options. They’re getting better with recent versions, but they still just don’t have the features.

But, that said, MySQL and PHP are both available at no-cost (though total cost of ownership is another debate) and they are easier to learn, in part because of the fewer features. The barrier to entry is lower. This fact alone may make Dvorak’s prediction come true.

And, there are some pretty impressive and large-scale web sites out there that use MySQL and PHP, so while they don’t have the depth of the more mature technologies, you can’t really scoff at them. They get the job done.


Securing the Mac 10.4 laptop

I talked with a guy from the MSU Computer Store this morning about getting Norton AntiVirus or Internet Security for the Mac laptop I’ve been using. His recommendation is to just get AntiVirus 10 for the Mac and change a few settings on the laptop.

Here are his recommendations:

  • Turn off Bluetooth, Discoverable, so that random Bluetooth enabled devices won’t see the laptop.
  • Turn on the systems’s Firewall in System Preferences
  • Install Norton AntiVirus and keep it updated

Just a note, I’ve been using Macs for years, and the last virus I had on a Mac was in 1995 and it was a Word Macro virus. Highly irritating, but it did very little damage.

That said, I’m sure the day will come when a virus will rip through the Mac world and play havoc with all of the unprotected Macs out there.


The ‘puter is dead

Another Windows computer bites the dust
So, that computer problem I mentioned back on the 22nd…the computer is finished.

I can’t even get an OS to install. Sometimes, it doesn’t even bring up the BIOS.

I figure there is one component or another that is fried, thus messing up the whole system. It isn’t the hard drive. I don’t think it is the RAM. It might be the power supply. It might be the CD-ROM drive. It might be the system board. I do not know. I do not care.

My Mac works, so it isn’t all that urgent.


Okay, now I’m pretty irate.

I’m not sure what the problem with the Windows system is, but it seems pretty big. I can’t even boot up in Safe Mode. It freezes after listing a bunch of system files. I suspect the hard drive is corrupt.

The problem is, there are files on that drive that I hadn’t yet made copies of on this sytem. Which is to say, those files are now in jeopardy. This is a problem because they represent quite a few hours of work for a client whose project I need to finish before taking on a new job. At least that was the intention.

Oh, drat. Drat. Drat. Why is it always the computers with Microsoft Windows that cause me problems? MS is such a big, easy target. It could very well be a problem with the hard drive itself, having nothing to do with Windows. Really. Now, the trick will be putting in a different hard drive, trying to install Windows on it, and seeing if I can salvage the files from the corrupt drive.

Why am I so dreading installing all the software again? Is it because they will refuse to install because they say they are already installed with that license key? What if I just intall Linux on the other drive and get to the files covertly?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I have the disk images for Red Hat Linux, v9 just stitting in a directory on my Mac. Now I just need a fresh hard drive.


MS Win XP buggin out again

Well, my other computer is back in the corner spinning it’s little Microsoft Windows XP startup routine. It’s been trying to start up for about half an hour now. I got it to get past this little cycle, but then the monitor went to black and never came back.

When I left it five hours ago, it was fine. I just came down and it the screen was black. I thought it was just snoozing, but it didn’t respond. Eventually I forced a restart and I realize now it is fritzed.

It was bound to happen. It could be at a worse time, like when I was actually in the middle of using it….Trying to look on the bright side.

Of course, my Mac is still working fine. Slow, but it was built back in 1999, so I give it some slack. At times like this, I’m really glad to be a Mac user.


Eva’s mystique with the iBook

The girls have this uncanny ability to undermine Chey’s iBook.

A few months ago, Lila was “working” on Chey’s computer while I was reading a book. When she was done working, she had managed to move the Library directory from /Users/cheygranroth/ to /Users/cheygranroth/Documents. The tricky part was neither Chey nor I realized what had happened until later on, when Mail wouldn’t give her her messages and was acting like it was freshly installed. That, and her settings for the desktop seemed completely wrong.

Anyway, I’m typing this on her laptop in monochrome. Yes, that’s right. Eva managed to take all the color out of the display, with some arcane keyboard command combination. It’s like ^+option+command+* or something, but I haven’t been able to get the “toggle monochrome” to actually toggle.

That said, it’s kind of cool to work like this. Very retro, with a modern edge. OS X’s GUI doesn’t look all that bad in black and white. I tried to take a screen snap shot, we’ll see if it is really in monocrhome or if somehow the snapshot managed to hold color. I’ll post it at some point (Chey’s computer doesn’t have any decent image editing program that I can use to switch it out of PDF format).

User experience, web, technology

Oh, and how about major merger?

In case you hadn’t heard already, Macromedia is being bought by Adobe. This is a huge deal, especially for the web industry. (Read about it at

Me, I’m not pleased to hear it. I sort of like having them compete for market share. Keeps prices down. Increases innovation.

What I hear is that Adobe is poised to be a more head-on competitor to Microsoft. That sounds crazy, as an industry insider, at least as far as off-the-shelf software goes. I’d buy web development software from Adobe or Macromedia before I’d touch any web development software from Microsoft–at least for front-end work.

I’ve viewed Microsoft FrontPage as a breaker of the Garbage In-Garbage Out rule of computing. With FrontPage, you can put awesome code in, and then it gets transformed by M$ FrontPage’s mandatory eatShit&&Die filter, and then you get Garbage Out. Incidentally, I’m pretty sure they use the same filter when saving Word documents as web pages.

Ooookay, didn’t mean to rant.


Look! It’s Chassell.

Downtown Chassell, MI from Google Maps
Downtown Chassell, MI from Google Maps

Yes, that’s right folks, this is a map of downtown Chassell, where I grew up. Okay, I didn’t actually grow up in Chassell, my parents’ house is outside of Chassell, on Paradise Road. Anyway, for those who’ve wondered how big the town is (anyone?), here’s a street map of the place.

Check out Google Maps. It’s where I pulled this image from. The interface is pretty slick. You can drag the map around, and it is quite smooth. Zooming in and out is smoother as well. It’s still in beta and won’t work in some browsers, but should work in most recent browsers (except Safari).


Trackpad button fix on clamshell iBook

A couple months ago I installed new hard drive in Chey’s laptop, a tangerine iBook of the clamshell variety. In the process I managed (why does this sound like a confession to me?) to fracture the ribbon between the trackpad and the mainboard, disabling the trackpad button.

So, after trying to fix it and failing, I went to eBay and acquired a new palmrest/trackpad unit for the computer.

She got an airport card today, so I installed both the new trackpad and the card at the same time.

Well, it turns out that while the new trackpad button does work, I’ve managed to mess something up so that when you depress the button, it doesn’t pop back up. So, it stays in a clicked position. Exceedingly irritating.

Anyway, it turns out that in OS 10.3, which is what she has installed on her computer, there is a menu to control how to use the trackpad. You can enable clicking on the trackpad itself. So, I did that, and I think I might even like that a little better then the button option. Well, especially because it works and the button is sticky. Now I just wish there was a setting to turn the button off, because now occassionally the button depresses, and have to pop it back up by pressing on the bottom of the case.

Were we wealthy, I’d have a new iBook on her lap, pronto. Old computers are very frustrating as they slowly fall to pieces.