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August 17, 2005

Worth fighting for

The sale of few years old Apple iBooks for $50 ended by a good fight.

Posted by Victor at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2005

Evolution ...

This is Micro$oft commercial:

One wonders: how many hundreds of millions of years is required for Micro$oft Office to become a software for humans? And how soon M$O users will become extinct freeing the way for more intelligent species?

Posted by Victor at 04:26 PM

August 05, 2005

Wrong business

Looking carefully at departmental web pages of any department of our university, one can notice that all of them have poor functionality: no searches at all (may be I missed some department pages?). All departmental listings are static, which means that they are difficult to maintain (nothing wrong with static directories if they are dynamically generated; but search results pages must be dynamic). Hopefully our Department will be an exception soon.

Furthemore, the same is true for course calendars and timetables. The timetable of Arts and Science is a real embarassment: many instructor names and locations remain tba even well after classes started and even ended.

All this can be avoided with the dynamic web pages (or static pages if they are just dynamic pages saved). Little PHP and MySQL scripting will make it.

If one tries to install a really complicated staff (like bulletin boards) based on PHP and mySQL to our Department web server, one can find a funny behavior: from little nuissance to essential bugs even if our PHP and mySQL software is above the minimal requirements (but still very old). Probably there are errors in installation/configuration. Does it mean that our Department web server is bad?

Well, it is definitely way below of a reputable commercial hosting (like this one) but surely way better than the most if not all departemental servers at University of Toronto (how many of them have PHP/mySQL installed at all? Our Department web server has the highest at University uptime). I am not going to blame our system administrators: there are only 1.5 of them and they maintain a lot of crucial software. Web server is not crucial and the fancy additions to it are just marginal for us.

On the other hand, even if the crew of the commercial web hosting is small (this one, qwk.net seems to have a very small crew) this crew is completely devoted to the web hosting and it is not much more difficult to run 100 servers (if they are very similar) than one. I gonna bet that their staff has no clue about TeX, Mathematica, Maple, ... all things which our administrators should maintain.

Does all this mean that the departemental web sites are doomed to be inferior in comparison to [well made] sites using commercial hosting? Not at all. But then web hosting should be the duty of the specialized university service while departments would run their sites on dedicated or shared university servers. Futhermore, listing, searches etc should be the duty of the same University team while departemental secretaries would just feed data to the databases and departemental amateur webmasters would just change an appearance.

This would be a correct solution. Right now departments and faculties are just in the wrong business of webhosting.

Posted by Victor at 10:18 AM

August 04, 2005

Teaspoon freedom of religion

In this article you can read about persecution of a religion which selected the huge teapot as the object of devotion.

My comment: Teapot seems to be a decent object of devotion but Russian samovar like this one woud be even better:

This article was originally posted July 21. After a while the reference expired, so I made a new one. And here you can see the teapot before and after pogrom, made by the followers of the religion dominant there:

Posted by Victor at 08:05 PM