Goals and resolutions

I don’t subscribe to the tradition of New Year’s resolutions; it was never big in my family or my family’s culture, and so I always find it a little stupid — mostly a marketing ploy for gyms and diet plans. All the same I have some things I’ve been planning, or at least thinking about for the next year.

And since I already find this blog to be a useful way of measuring events over time, it might be amusing to look back on these things in a year.

First, I want to get my hands on a true Pentium Pro machine — 150Mhz, maybe 32Mb of memory, a CD drive and an ethernet connection. I occasionally scan ebay for Dell’s ancient XPI CD laptops, which seem to have everything I need, and are relatively cute (cute is usually important. And trackball laptops are cute!).

Pentium Pros are really just a marker since they are the earliest i686 machines, if I’m correct. I’ve worked enough with the i586 line to know that there are options for them, but that I’d rather have a full-fledged 686 to work with. And at 150Mhz, a truly lightweight distro is going to be obvious. I’ve worked with 75Mhz and 120Mhz machines before, and I’d like to stoop that low again.

It also puts things into perspective, and tangibly so. I know virtualization is all the rage, but from my experiences with virtualization, I have come to believe that there is no substitute for a true-blue, honest-Abe 150Mhz computer. It looks, walks, talks and behaves like the real thing because it is the real thing. Virtual machines are convenient, but not the real deal.

Next, I think sometimes that I would be doing the right thing by picking up a higher-end machine. I know that’s blasphemy, but there are a couple of rationales for that idea.

First, I’m enjoying working at a source-code level and I think I’d like to try more compilations, for scientific purposes of course. The problem is that at 150Mhz (if #1 were to become a reality), 450Mhz, 550Mhz or even 1Ghz, compiling is very time-consuming. I don’t mind doing it, but with a very fast machine I could easily cross-compile and entire installation and transplant it in a third (or less) of the time it takes now. It would expedite my experimentation, to speak plainly.

Furthermore, I occasionally feel somewhat “out of the loop” when moderating, because I don’t have any hardware recent enough to answer some questions. I’ve never used the newest Nvidia driver, so I can’t help troubleshoot a sketchy video card, or SATA drives because I’ve never had one of those either (technically). So in that sense it would be helpful to me and to someone else to have something more current to compare.

And finally there are some newer games that I’d like to try. I don’t game as much as I used to (my schedule is a bit prohibitive, usually), but I think the few that I’d like to investigate further would do better on something faster, or with a stronger video card. And on top of that, newer external devices (like my digital camera) would be happier.

I think if I do get something new I’ll get it locally, which should give me some options for support too. Of course, that might be another adventure altogether. πŸ™„

Speaking of local adventures, it’s time for me to stand up tall and try to configure my router, even if the internal setup is completely in kanji. I would never use the phrase “addicted to torrent traffic,” but it’s a minor inconvenience to transport torrents to work, then download, then carry back home. It’s like getting your mail delivered across town. And really, what’s it matter if I accidentally knock myself offline? (Ah, waitaminute. … 😯 )

Furthermore, I’m learning that cvsup and rsync requests are both bounced back by the proprietary router I have now — hence my inability to properly install the Arch ABS tree. It’s a lesser inconvenience on the grand scale of things, but it does hamstring a lot of the little adventures I have. I have a feeling I can correct that if I learn the kanji for “Allow CRUX Linux to access the Internet and update ports.” πŸ˜›

And I might also go wireless again. For the past couple of years I was relying on wireless routers in my network, and it would be a little easier than stringing cables everywhere. I would probably keep one machine wired, since I get unbelievable download speeds over a cable. I’m not keen on giving that up to go back to 54Mbps. But it does solve some networking logistics, and I’d like to keep up with wireless technology too.

Next, and this is really just my own issue, I’m probably going to start encrypting almost all of my e-mail. I use Gmail, in case you haven’t ever e-mailed me, but I’m not 100 percent comfortable with their service. Usability is great, but I know for a fact that they screen my e-mails, since they have contacted me about working there (a topic that was promptly dropped, when they realized I don’t have a CS degree). That’s a little creepy.

And while I don’t usually wear a tinfoil hat, I do think they’re subject to the whimsy of the United States government. They might occasionally throw up a hand to a government request for information, but the political atmosphere in the U.S. is bizarre to anyone who lives outside it. The idea of my messages in plain text bouncing off American servers is not exactly enticing.

There’s also the whole issue of the filter-script hijack that Gmail suffered. I hear it has been fixed, but the truth of the matter is that convenience sometimes leads to flaws, and in situations where your entire online persona can be held for ransom, I’d think I’d rather not risk it. So while I am thankful for the service, I think I would do well to avoid some of Gmail’s “conveniences,” and call it “playing safe.” Sylpheed FTW.

Finally, I think it’s time for a new look. I originally picked this theme for the blog because it was sort of Openboxish, and that’s an idea I’d like to keep. But it’s not very space-efficient, and that has always bothered me. It’s very vertical, which makes a lot of the content look longer than it is. And I’m someone who appreciates efficiency and use of resources. This funneled style has worn out its welcome.

I think that’s about it. Let’s see what things look like in a year. Maybe all this was just hot air. But maybe some of it is prophetic. πŸ™‚

9 thoughts on “Goals and resolutions

  1. CoachDANNY

    I have to agree about virtualization. I understand there are some real benefits to running it on servers, but for the average user, it’s mostly good for learning a new system. If you mess up, you can always start over. Good for learning security best-practices. And, good for trying different systems.

    I have 3 Pentium 150 Mhz boxes right now. One has a wopping 8 mb ram. These things get dropped off, and unless I decided to make a museum, not much I can do with them. Free Geek Central Florida doesn’t have recycling connections yet. But, floppy booting up DSL, and loading it on the hard drive ( 1.8 Gb) isn’t too bad. On the machine, DSL is about as fast as Windows98, but not faster. Ethernet on those machines difficult. You have to find some ISA cards. One of the machines has no PCI slots. I think that one is actually a 75 Mhz machine.

    I’m not sure what cable speeds you get in Japan, but the fastest I’ve measured our ‘broadband’ here in Central Florida about a max of 5 mg/s. How is it USA got so far behind? For me, there’s no real difference wired or wireless, unless I walk down the street. Then again, I have this super-max wireless booster system going. Full signal 20 houses down.

  2. pasquale

    good luck with your new look :p and machine…pentium pro.

    unfortunately my Olivetti Philos 45 has floppy drive broken 😦 and i don’t know how to connect it with my pc…i can’t do anything with it…

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