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Richard III 2002-06-04

If you are a Shakespeare lover you probably have found Richard III difficult to understand. If, like the majority, you have not seen/read/heard of Shakespeare I suggest that you start with Richard III. Have I gone mad? Well, I am not suggesting that you try to read through the dry text; instead, watch Al Pacino's movie version of the bard's piece. Looking for Richard is a making of, the actual play, historical notes, humor and expert opinion rolled into one. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

As a younster I liked pop & rock; classical and anything that even smelled of jazz were not be on my radar screen. On hearing ELP's (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition I began to like classical. Similarly with the eclectic jazz-fusion band The Mahavishu Orchestra I started liking jazz. From that tenuous thread my interests expanded. Often one needs to build a bridge from where one is to some place else. You might stand on one side and say "Why the heck do I need a bridge?". The answer is, of course, to get to the other side where one might have a better view. But in order to build a suspension bridge you need to throw a thin line over to the other side and over this thin cable transport a thicker cable and an even thicker one until you have enough to bear the weight of the people you want to transport across.

Shakespeare has a lot to say but most of it is inaccessible to mere mortals like us. We need a bridge. Al Pacino's movie is that bridge.

Moore's Law 2002-05-23

Intel has announced that their top of the line Pentium 4 now runs at 2.53 GHz - the latest fanfare to confirm Moore's Law. Somehow it has left me cold - no feeling of envy or must have one of those when I view my machine that runs at 500MHz. One-fifth the speed of the latest one and no urge to rush to the stores. Once upon a time it would have kicked adrenaline into the bloodstream. I think that my machine is fast enough for my purposes. Why would I want any more?

I am sure that I am not alone with these sentiments. In the past one could use every MHz of CPU power one could pay for - GUI's needed all of it. Now, however, the applications run fast enough on decent machines. One could not speed them up appreciably by getting faster CPUs. Memory, PCI bus speed, disk speed and other things need to be improved in order to make a qualitative difference. I confess that I do not play games - that would be a different ball game (pun intended).

My Router 2002-05-14

I've had a cable modem since last September. I could finally retire my Zyxel ISDN router and move to a faster channel to the Internet. Cablecom installed the wiring, I swapped out the ISDN and replaced it with the supplied cable modem. Ahh the wonder of having network devices! That, however, was the silver lining; the dark cloud was that I was on the Internet all the time and I had to protect myself from the baddies out there.

I had looked into firewalls, both commercial and free. The commercial ones are in my opinion limited: if you want a feature that isn't provided you are hosed. More importantly, that is very ungeeky! I decided to go with a free floppy-based router. The first one floppyfw had various limitations. The next one is what I stayed with: Freesco. The version of 0.2.7 is less than confidence-inspiring but let me assure you that it has been quite reliable. It runs for months on end without a reboot, quietly humming away in the basement. Read a review by another happy camper.

SuSE 8.0 2002-05-07

My main machine at home has been running SuSE for many years starting with version 5.3 on a Pentium 133Mhz machine. I have been going through the upgrades at regular intervals. The latest incarnation, 8.0, got plonked on to the disk. It was painless except for printing. What used to work earlier is in shambles now. Deinstalling and installing the LPRng did not help. I tried out CUPS; no comfort there. So right now I cannot print from my linux machine. How different Windows is in this regard!

But the amount and quality of other software makes up for this deficiency. My favorites: Mozilla, xemacs, gimp, samba, etc.

Sharp Zaurus 2002-04-30

I have been the envy of many of my colleagues ever since I became the proud owner of a Sharp Zaurus PDA. I bought the developer model at Java One for USD 200; the commercial one sells for USD 500. The only difference is that the commercial model has 64MB of RAM whereas the developer model has 32MB. I also bought a wireless LAN (802.11b) card with which I could surf the Net at the conference; at home it is useless as I do not have a base station for it.

It is based on an embedded Linux kernel and Qt from Trolltech. It has the regular Unix tools including - get this - xterm, bash, vi and friends! It is mainly for geeks though non-geeks will certainly be able to use the machine. It has a calendar, to-do list, address book, clock, MP3 player, image viewer, etc. I could download a password manager and there are numerous other programs at ZaurusZone.

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