My thoughts on the iPhone

Let’s cut to the chase: the iPhone is the most innovative communications and media device of the 21st century’s first decade. The other devices and manufacturers don’t even come close. Before the iPhone, you could think the competing devices had evolutionary interfaces, a step up from the previous interface. Now, you can’t help but think them mediocre in comparison to the iPhone. The user interface is the iPhone’s forte, followed by the convergence of widescreen media player, full featured web browser, PIM, and cell phone into one device. Is my opinion clear enough? :-)

All that being said, the iPhone is not ideal, nor flawless. The PIM features are, in my opinion, incomplete. I am referring to the fact that you can’t enter new data into the Notes, Contacts or Calendar apps, except by syncing the device to a Mac running Stickies, iCal and Apple Address Book. I hope Apple starts to see the potential market this has with more PIM features. Maybe they were pressed for release, and cut the features out for now to add them later. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Apple could also open the device for third party development. According to Apple, it’s just Mac OS X Tiger inside. Perhaps someone will figure out how to hack Safari to download Mac OS X apps on to it. Or at least let us install Dashboard widgets on the thing.

But this being an Apple product whose name begins with I and P, it is a great media player. Strong Bad Emails, Ask A Ninja, and Tiki Bar TV rule! They’re my favorite videoblogs. Evil Genius Chronicles, Coverville, Raven n Blues, and Bandana Blues, are among my favorite podcasts. Since the iPhone is essentially a phone with 8GB video iPod features, we’ll be able to access all our new media on it, with a better interface than anyone has ever produced. I predict Apple will bring the iPhone UI (without the phone features) to the rest of the iPod family within the year. They’ll be stupid not to. MultiTouch rocks!

Of course, the iPhone’s price has to come down for it to be really mainstream. I predict (you heard it here first, folks, LOL) that next year, the 8GB model will be the low end, and a higher capacity (16GB?) model will be the $600 high end.

In order for the iPhone to be really successful and mainstream, it should also be sold unlocked, free of carrier lock-in. Not everyone wants to be Cingular subscriber. The whole carrier lock-in thing is bone headed anyway. It surely has been demonstrated in Europe that expensive carrier-exclusive phones are not necessary to retain customers. And the practice isn’t that effective for that purpose either anyway. Carrier chickenshits, if you ain’t got good service, an expensive locked-in phone won’t help you keep any subscribers you’ve pissed off. They’ll just sell it on eBay and move on.

In conclusion, the iPhone is a great innovative cellphone/media player with some PIM functionality. The crux of its innovation rests on the MultiTouch touchscreen interface and wide screen media playback. It has a few flaws, namely the lack of smartphone PIM features and a closed development model. To really hit it big, it has to come down in price a bit, and be available at more than one carrier in the US. In any case, Apple has essentially raised the bar way up in the user interface front, making the competition look ancient in comparison.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , ,

Posted in gadgets, mac.os.x,, podcasts, technology, videoblogs | 1 Comment

Tasers, policemen, and deer, oh my!

It’s more than probable pjtrix reader Ken is going to blog about this one, but I’m calling it before he does. :-)

Officers use taser to free tangled deer

January 17, 2007

CANBY, Ore. –Confronted with a deer whose antlers were tangled in a rope swing at a rural home, two officers saw no good choices. They weren’t about to try to free the animal themselves. It weighed several hundred pounds and was thrashing wildly. A bullet in the skull seemed the alternative.

I’ll leave the rest of the story to your imaginations, or to your reading, whichever you prefer.

Posted in sillyness | 1 Comment

Say what?!?

I receive some mailings from Sun every month. And for the most part, they are entertaining. As in laugh out loud hysterical. But this one takes the cake.

Easier, faster, and more secure the Solaris 10 OS is the only operating system robust enough to address enterprise security, compliance, and business continuity concerns, and at a lower cost and running across more hardware platforms than any other OS on the market.

Excuse me, but “more hardware platforms than any other OS on the market?” I don’t know what Sun’s definition of platform is, but last I checked, Solaris didn’t run on HP PA-RISC and IBM S/390s. Linux does, though. Linux runs on all three platforms that Solaris runs on **snort, yeah they’re beating their chest over three platforms** and then some. And I bet that when they say “OS on the market,” they mean commercially supported OS. Which conveniently disqualifies NetBSD, which is available for over forty platforms.

Hear from Sun’s Vice President of Software Marketing, Peder Ulander, and Vice President of Services Marketing, Brian Winter about how Sun’s Solaris 10 Operating System — the only multiplatform, free, and open source enterprise-class OS on the market — allows you to leverage existing infrastructure investments and anticipate rapid growth by bringing applications and services online more quickly, and at lower support costs, than any other commercial OS offering, including Red Hat, HP-UX, AIX, and Windows.

Whoa, Nelly! “The only multiplatform, free, and open source enterprise-class OS on the market”. That’s likely to get you thrown in court in most free countries, never mind hanged in those run by Sharia law! I’m not saying that Solaris isn’t free, or that it isn’t open source, or that it isn’t multi-platform. I guess 3 platforms does count as multi-platform.

But my beef is with “only”. Say what?!? Are you so desperate, Sun Microsystems, that you have to resort to outright lies? No outgoing links on this post for you, Sun!

For the record, I do like Solaris. It’s false claims like these from Sun which I despise.

Technorati Tags:
, , ,

Posted in cross.platform, linux, open.source, sillyness, system.architecture | Comments Off on Say what?!?

More tweaking

I’ve upgraded WordPress to version 2.0.7, and added a plugin. The Share This plugin by Alex King lets you share a link to any of my posts on Digg,, and many other social bookmarking sites. If you see anything on this blog that you consider share-worthy, click on the Share This link at the end of the post, and share away! You only need an account at the social bookmarking site of your choice.

Joined the Amazon affiliate program

I’ve applied for an Amazon affiliate account. Among the different content on pjtrix in 2007, I plan to post book reviews on different subjects, but mostly about technology and software development, as that is what I know best and what I typically buy. I will only post about books I have actually read.

These posts will not be sponsored in the typical sense, in that no one will be offering to pay me to write the post. But the post will have an Amazon link to the book. I will earn an affiliate fee from any purchase made from that link. I will have a disclosure paragraph at the top of such posts, the titles will begin with “Book Review:”, and I will tag them It’s up to you whether you want to read the reviews. It is up to you whether you follow the link to Amazon and buy something.


If any of my recent writing about,, Google AdSense, and now affiliate stuff bothers you, don’t forget to speak up in the comments! Or if you have anything else to say about it, don’t hesitate to let me know what you think.

I will not be seeing any money from these programs for some months. But I hope to recoup what I’ve spent so far on hosting. I will put any moneys earned into paying for my hosting expenses.

I’m certainly not going to be making a living, much less striking it rich from Google AdSense, Amazon affiliate fees, and getting paid to blog about stuff. My intention is to keep the site running, and to keep writing about things I care about, in the hopes others can benefit from it.

Posted in, upgrades, wordpress | Comments Off on More tweaking

Mid-January news brief :-)

The Secret Online Geekly Articles Site is …

… rejecting one of my article proposals, because it is similar in subject to an article they had published recently (whoops!) I’m starting to like the idea of seeing my name online as a tech writer (ha ha!) So I’ll try to pitch this article idea at other sites. If nobody else wants to pay me to write it, I’ll just post it here.,, Google AdSense

As Dave Slusher says, “forewarned is forearmed.” In order to pay for my hosting in 2007, I have signed up with Google AdSense (they’ll be in the sidebar), and And I thought I’d let you know in advance.

I could care less about the controversy around the “paid blogging” sites. I was raised to believe that any job is dignifying when done with pride and honesty. And I’m not going to turn down $20 USD or $30 USD dollars each month, in exchange for very few hours of effort, just because some particular people might sneer at me. $20 USD or $30 USD per month will cover my hosting expenses at the moment, and that’s what I’m concerned about.

So over the next few months, I will write PayPerPost and ReviewMe sponsored articles. I’ll try to pick PayPerPost articles that I find personally interesting and are tech or web development related. Hopefully, ReviewMe patrons will make offers about tech products or about web development. I’ll do no more than three per month and I’ll space them out as best I can. I won’t spam you.

I will tag these with payperpost or reviewme, as the case may be. I’ll prefix the post title with “PPP:” or “RM:”. The first paragraph of these posts will say “Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post” or something like that. I mention this so that you can decide whether you care to read the post or not when you see the tag, the title prefix, or the disclosure paragraph.

If you don’t care about the sponsored content and really wish you could remove it, you can, after a fashion. Most feed readers today feature smart feeds, with filtering. There are also online sites that can filter another online site’s feeds. There are browsers extensions that can block Google AdSense.

It’s all up to you, really.

Server hosting changes coming

pjtrix’s server account with GoDaddy expires March 1st. Their new virtual dedicated server accounts have Fedora Core 4. And guess what? Fedora Core 4 is unsupported since exactly one month ago. Just like FC2, it’s SOL. (LOL, I like that product classification.)

I have been a customer of GoDaddy for these last two years, and they always screwed up the initial install of the account (I created new accounts each year because they had upgraded the OS.) There’s no reason what I payed for should not work from the get-go and need support to get it working. That is inexcusable, specially since it happened twice. That just shows it wasn’t a mere fluke, but instead showed me broken initial installs are the status quo.

But at least this was the only issue I had with them. I have heard horror stories about other established providers, and even of horror stories about GoDaddy itself. Maybe I was one of the lucky ones, but I’d like to give credit where it’s due: I never had any problems except for the initial install screw ups. Availability was supperb, and I’m confident I got what I paid for.

GoDaddy’s customer service was decent, for what little I used it (the initial install screw ups mentioned above.) 50 % of the time, I got someone that sent me to the very “help” pages that didn’t help. What I did was to ask the question again in a slightly different way. Then I’d reach someone that was actually helpful. Go figure.

So, because of their inexcusable initial account screw ups, and because of their iffy customer support, I’m not going to be using GoDaddy servers after the end of February. I found a few virtual private hosting companies which charge between $15 USD and $25 USD per month with no setup fee and no contract. This is less than what GoDaddy wants for the same service. Some of these other providers will even let me choose an up-to-date, supported, Linux distribution of my choice.

After some Googling for complains and reviews about the VPS hosting companies I found, I’ve settled on VPSLink hosting, and their Fedora Core 5 + MySQL + Rails + LightTPD package. I like that they pre-configure the server for Rails. LightTPD also runs about 30% faster and uses 90% less RAM than Apache, any day.

LightTPD supports most open source-based web applications without issue. I should be able to get WordPress and Trac running just fine. For the next few weeks, pjtrix stuff will continue running where it’s at right now, on the GoDaddy server. Meanwhile, I’ll be running WordPress, Subversion, Trac, and Gallery2 tests on the new VPSLink server. I’ll be making sure I can move my and my friends’ content over without problems.

Once I’m satisfied, I’ll make a backup of everything, copy it over, configure things properly, and finally, switch the name servers over to the new hosting provider. This will probably happen mid-February.

Posted in | Comments Off on Mid-January news brief :-)

Cleared out some drafts I never published. :-)

It seems I had written out some silly stuff using the WordPress web UI in the last few months. I typically post from MarsEdit, a great weblog post editor, by the same developer as my favorite feed reader, NetNewsWire. I guess I entered the posts, got distracted, and forgot about them after some days. They don’t show up in my drafts folder in MarsEdit. So I only saw them now that I came to admin the weblog, clean out the Akismet spam, reorganize my catetories, etc.

The “content”, as it was, wasn’t all that important, so no harm done. Anyhow, they’ve been pushed out to the blog, whereabouts when I think I entered them in.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cleared out some drafts I never published. :-)

Funky fun with computers, #1

This sounds like fun!

Whistle while you work: Use the open source sndpeek program and a simple Perl script to read specific sequences of tonal events — literally whistling or humming at your computer — and run commands based on those tones.

I can just imagine the “Star Trek XXXIV: Superfluous” movie scene now, with the brand spanking new Enterprise, the NCC-1701-ZZXYZ.

Lieutenant Atad: Snognilk on the bridge!

Captain Dracip: Commander Rekir, set the auto-destruct sequence on the main computer, quick!

** Commander Rekir begins whistling the tune from “Bridge Over The River Kwai” a.k.a. “Colonel Bogey March” **

Posted in hacks, linux, open.source, sillyness, software.development | Comments Off on Funky fun with computers, #1

Trackback test for Ken

Something Else I don’t know about WordPress

Ken wonders why, when his blog posts are quoted by other bloggers, the quoting posts don’t show on his blog as trackbacks. But when he quotes someone, his quoting posts show up on other people’s blogs as trackbacks. Weird.

This post is a WordPress trackback test. :-)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Trackback test for Ken

Slight change of plans

Before 2006 ended, I wrote a post here, where I mentioned I was going to be dividing my workday into three five-hour shifts. During the day, I planned to spend five hours writing for an online technical website, another five hours trying to get a part-time gig with through their paid trials, and another five hours working on pjtrix-related stuff.

After a week of the New Year, I can tell you that’s not gonna work. There simply aren’t enough hours in a 24-hour day to work three five-hour shifts and take care of the stuff one has to do day to day outside of work. This is so even though I work from home and don’t have a commute. Not unless I sleep less than six hours, which isn’t happening. I should be sleeping more than six hours, not less.

So the new plan is to divide the work day into two five-hour shifts, one shift for technical writing, and another for After accounting for all the stuff one has to do in a day outside of work, this leaves me with more than two hours each day for pjtrix-related stuff. But on Saturday and Sunday, I will usually have about six hours each day for pjtrix-related stuff. That’s not bad.

So I hope with these changes, pjtrix will continue moving forward, without anything important being neglected on the home front.

Posted in life, | Comments Off on Slight change of plans

autossh and screen for remote login peace of mind

Unix server administrators everywhere are probably too familiar with connection timeouts when administering remote servers. There you are, dutifully editing that configuration file, when suddenly your text editor no longer responds to your cursor keys. A dozen seconds later or so, SSH reports the connection has been lost. If you didn’t save your file recently, you probably mutter a curse, for you probably have to redo your work all over again.

There is nothing worse than having to administer a server through a bad connection. When you are disconnected, having to reconnect, login, and navigate to where you last were, can knock you out of the flow of what you were doing, severely affecting your productivity.

screen to the rescue

Back in the time of the dinosaurs and dial-up, some GNU hackers, tired of the inconvenience just described, invented the screen application. screen creates a virtual console running on the server, which keeps the user logged in to the server, even when the network connection is lost. With screen, you will never lose your place while logged in remotely again, baring a reboot, shutdown, or power-loss to the server itself (alas, screen is not magic.)

screen can do much more than this simple description so far hints at. You can learn more from the online manual (type man screen at the command-line.) But for this hack, the following is all you need to remember:

Type in screen -DR when you first connect to your server, and your login session will be preserved through network disconnections. If you get disconnected, login again, and type screen -DR to return to your session, just as you left it.

The screen trick is all well and good. But we like to do things thoroughly at pjtrix, and try to find a full solution to the problem. :-) So on to autossh we go.

autossh: aim for the kill

Keeping with the dinosaurs and dial-up theme, autossh is like an auto-redialer. It faithfully tries to reconnect you to your server again as soon as it detects the connection is gone. It does this by creating an SSH tunnel loop between your workstation and the remote server, and monitors it repeatedly for lost messages.

Using autossh is almost like using ssh: except for the connection monitoring specifics, autossh simply passes all command-line parameters to ssh, and after entering the command-line, all user interaction is done through the running ssh instance. To use autossh effectively with screen, type the following command to first connect to your remote server (use this command instead of ssh):

autossh -M monitoring-port -t username@server.domain.tld “screen -DR”

For example:

autossh -M 20000 -t “screen -DR”

With the above command, autossh creates an SSH tunnel loop with ports 20,000 and 20,001 for monitoring the connection; the -t parameter makes ssh create a pseudo-terminal when it connects to the server; ssh connects to the server as user webmaster; and finally, ssh runs the command screen -DR remotely on the server immediately upon a successful connection and user authentication.

If for any reason the connection to the server drops, autossh detects this, and starts another ssh session, with the same commands. This effectively reconnects you to the server, logs you back in, and returns you to your screen session, right where you left off.

Used together, autossh and screen are real peace of mind savers for Unix system administrators. Couple this hack with an SSH authentication agent and SSH keys, and you don’t even have to remember your server password between reconnects.

Truly, there can never be greater Unix administration bliss than this.

Technorati Tags:
, ,

Posted in hacks, open.source, ssh | 2 Comments