Paul Holbrook's Radio Weblog : Worth $40 a year? You decide ..
Updated: 4/8/2003; 9:01:51 PM.


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Monday, April 07, 2003
This weblog has moved

This weblog has moved to a new, permanent location:

I have two new RSS feeds: an RSS 2.0 feed with the full contents of each post, and an an RSS 1.0 feed with abbreviated posts.

Important note: this location ( will disappear on May 1st, 2003 when my annual hosting agreement with Userland expires. Please update to my new site ASAP.

I've moved all my content over to the new site, where it appears in somewhat different locations. However, to make it easy to preserve links, you can also use the old URLs (with the new hostname, of course) at my new site. For example, my essay on VMware which was at will also be found at
8:38:31 PM      comment []

Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Phil Wolff: Project Management as Journalism.

Phill Wolff has come up with a lovely little item: Project Management as Journalism.

A few quotes:

Project journalism.

PMs cover a beat.

As journalists, PMs interview and research. Their sources are project members and external resources and stakeholders.

PMs verify information, find trends and patterns, dig up urgent and important news.

Reporters use notebooks and tape recorders. Use blogs to organize your notes and sources.

You write status reports, exception reports, issue reports.

From Phill Wolff's A Klog Apart.

12:09:15 PM      comment []

Sunday, January 26, 2003
Slammer - doesn't take much to push 2 gigabits ...

I talked to a friend who works over at Georgia State.  He was called into work about 3:00am Saturday morning, and stayed there until 4pm that afternoon, trying to get control of the network.

He says the Slammer worm was pumping out about 2 gigabits a second out to the Internet.  The real surprise to me - that traffic was from only 30-40 infected hosts.  It actually makes some sense, if you break it down:

  • Once a host is infected, it starts sending 376 byte UDP packets as fast as possible
  • 2e9 bits/sec = 250 mbytes/sec, or ~ 665,000 376 byte packets/second
  • Over 40 hosts, that's 16,000 packets/second, or about 50 mbits/second per host. 

So each host is using about half of a 100mbits/sec ethernet connection.

The scary part of that number: assuming the worm probes the net randomly, Georgia State alone sending out almost 2.4 billion probes per hour.  No wonder this thing took down the net so quickly.

9:30:57 PM      comment []

Thursday, January 23, 2003
Useful klog presentation/introduction

Joe Katzman gave a seminar back in November at the University of Queensland about the use of weblogs as a knowledge management tool.  Here's a pointer to Joe's message to the klogs group pointing to a PDF of that presentation.

This is ground that has been covered before, but Joe did a nice job of tying together information from other sources.  Worth a look.

10:08:37 PM      comment []
K-logging pilot report

Not new, but new to me: Rick Klau published a nice summary of a pilot klogging project.  A key point:

Have a problem to solve. Just telling people "things will be better" when they don't know that there's a problem is tricky. As mentioned above, weblogs are many things to many people. In our pilot, we started out by simply saying we wanted to see if people found them useful. In other words - we weren't trying to solve a problem.

This is true of any collaboration software.  If people have a problem to solve, and the tool make it better, people will use almost anything.  If the tool doesn't solve a problem for them, no tool will work.

That's just a corollary of what I've longed practiced as a manager: you can't get people to do what they don't want to do.  Not for long.

(Thanks to David Gammel for the pointer.)

8:59:32 PM      comment []
Compact Fluorescent bulbs - hey Mikie, he likes it!

I recently got involved with a church-based effort encouraging the stewardship of the environment through the use of "green power" - power generated from less polluting sources than coal, which is biggest source of power.  The effort I'm involved with is called Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, which is an offshoot of an effort known as Episcopal Power and Light, which started in California.

The folks involved in these efforts are also big on energy conservation, not surprisingly, and they've been talking about Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, or CFLs.  CFLs fit in standard light fixtures.

I've never been very keen on fluorescent light.  I much prefer the warmth of incandescent light; the coolness of most fluorescent lights just doesn't do it for me.  Light is a personal thing; I have no interest in having my bedroom lit up like a elementary school classroom.  Conservationists have urged switching to fluorescents in the home for years; "Yeah, right" has been my response.

But I've started noticing the CFLs at places like Home Depot and Costco, and given that I'd agreed to work with the Green Power folks, I  thought I ought to at least check one out.

So when I was out at the grocery store last night, I picked up a CFL that was a replacement for a 100w bulb; it uses 23w, and should last about 6000 hours.  If you use it 3 hours per day, that's over 5 years.  (The incandescent bulb it replaces is rated at 750 hours.)  Georgia Power charges me 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour; according to the box the bulb came in, I should save something like 30 dollars in electricity over 5 years. 

I took it home and decided to try it in my the floor lamp in my 10-year-old daughter's bedroom.  I just had to change a bulb for her, and it strikes me I had changed it just 5 months ago.  I also figured she'd be less picky about the color of the light than I am.

But here's the part that surprised me: the light it casts looks more or less like the incandescent light I'm used to.  I'm sold.

Downsides: the bulb I bought was $7, which is probably at least 10 times the cost of a 100w bulb.  CFLs also tend to dim over time; one source said the bulb would dim by 30% by the end of its life.   The bulbs tend to be taller than incandescents; they won't fit in all fixtures.  And being a fluorescent, it starts out a little dim, and then brightens up over perhaps 20 seconds.  (It's actually more like 60 seconds if the bulb is cold.) That's not such a bad thing when you turn on the light in the morning; it gives your eyes a chance to accommodate.

The bulb I bought was a 'spiral' model, which GE claims distributes the light a little better. It sure looks funky.;GE Spiral CFL bulb

And my daughter even likes it. "Thank you, daddy," she said. "Will you buy me another one when I'm 15?"

7:52:30 PM      comment []

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Freebsd 5.0 under VMware: no go (updated)

FreeBSD 5.0 was released over the weekend. I've been playing with FreeBSD lately, so on my MLK day off I decided to try to install at at home under VMware 3.2 Workstation under Windows 2000.

Many hours later, I was only able to get a minimal install up, and I wasn't able to download anything else beyond that - no ports, no source. This is one of those cases where it's not clear if it's VMware's fault or Freebsd's fault. The symptom is that when I get part way through anything more than the basic install, the whole install starts slowing down. What started out reading anywhere from 300-600kBytes/sec from the CD ends up down in the < 10kB/second range: it just ... keeps .. slowing .. down.

I don't know the cause, but I have an interesting theory. Just after the first level FreeBSD loader boots up under VMware, it spits out a message: "acpi: bad RSDP checksum". Then, when the system boots, a large number of system processes have "31Dec69" as their start time. (Processes started later have the current date/time.) My hunch: the boot loader can't get the time from the VMware BIOS. FreeBSD sets the system time to 0, which under Unix is defined as midnight, December 31, 1969. (This is also known as the epoch.) Later, the time gets correctly set to some 33 years later. Some of the system processes go a little nuts trying to cope with a time difference of 33 years.

I don't know if it's true, but it sounds cute. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to wait until someone sorts it out.

If you want more details, I responded to a thread on the USENET group vmware.guest.linux with a few more details.

Update 1/25/02

Not surprisingly, I'm apparently off-track on why 5.0 slows down under VMware.  A thread on a bsd mailing list suggests that the problem is with with I86 instruction CMPXCHG, which VMware apparently emulates very slowly.  There's apparently a kernel complication option for 5.0 that will avoid the use of this instruction.  The problem is that you'd either have start with a 4.7 system and do a full build world with a custom kernel, or build a boot floppy with a custom kernel and use that for the 5.0 install.  The latter sounds more reasonable, but also a pain.  The good news: if someone does it and makes a floppy image, every VMware user should be able to use it: all VMware virtual machines look the same.

9:38:23 PM      comment []
Boxes and Arrows Favorite books

I adore book lists, especially ones that are more like annotated bibliographies. The web design journal Boxes and Arrows published a wonderfully eclectic list of their favorite books for 2002.

8:00:44 PM      comment []

Thursday, January 16, 2003
David Allen's tips for using a Palm

Keith Devans got a Palm IIIe from a friend who got another Palm. Keith notes that he might try configuring his to-do and memo list categories in the way that David Allen suggests (PDF). (David Allen is the author of Getting Things Done.) Allen's tips are actually pretty useful; I used them on my Palm back when I was at CNN and had many more meetings and action items than I do now. I haven't needed them as much this last year.

On a similar note, my Palm Vx died this Fall. I was putting off getting another one, but my two sons went in together and bought a new Vx off eBay. That was more useful to me than getting a newer model, because I had all the accessories for the Vx. (I also don't think any of the newer Palms are really worth the money right now. Not enough improvement over my Vx.)

4:54:06 PM      comment []
Useful tips for Apache's mod_rewrite

Over the holiday break I was messing with Apache's mod_rewrite package as part of something I was doing for work. Practical information about mod_write is a little difficult to come by, so I was very pleased to find pointer to several useful weblog posts about mod_rewrite. Thanks to Dean Peters of the Heal Your Church Web Site. Dean's charter is to help out "designers of church, para-church and other charity organizations."

4:35:57 PM      comment []

Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Viridian books

Former colleague Paul Beard to made reference to "Viridian Design." I haven't really groked what that means yet, but I did found a list of Viridian recommended books. There are some very interesting titles on that list; if these books are related to the Viridian movement, I'll have pay more attention to it.

9:03:43 AM      comment []

© Copyright 2003 Paul Holbrook.

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