Archive for the 'Geek' Category

DC to get Verizon FiOS

August 8, 2008 12:21 pm by christian

Today The Washington Post reports that the nation’s capital has struck a deal with Verizon to bring their blazing-fast FiOS internet and tv service to it. This is exciting news given that the federal government had previously been requiring Verizon to lease ALL of their unused fiber to the government for their use. Looking forward to mind-bogglingly fast internet, but also hoping the TV service is good enough to compete with Comcast’s offerings. Comcast has had a stranglehold on the DC cable market and this new competition gives me hope that we might be able to dump our $200/mo cable bills soon!

Domain Silliness

August 7, 2008 12:49 am by brian

So Chris and I talked a bit more tonight about domain registrations and how we’re going to add that feature to our billing software. Trick is, it’s going to be a lot of coding so it may be a but. We promise that we’re hauling ass trying to get stuff working asap.

<3 brian

So I still hate the iphone…

August 1, 2008 3:33 pm by brian

But the addition of the app store makes it slightly more bearable. Mainly I can say (after a year of hacking and various use) that I can’t wait for the blackberry bold.

CNBC Has Let Me Down

July 25, 2008 4:36 pm by brian

I admit it. I like CNBC.

I like to keep track of how the investments I made for my mother are going (she’s in retirement and with the recent passing of my father, we invested some money to ensure security in her golden years). I spent the better part of the day yesterday trying to figure out how I could get CNBC in the office free and/or cheap. First, I spent hours and hours searching trying to find an online feed. Nada (at least with non-windows media player support). Then it was trying to figure out ways to get it from my house to the office. Slingbox seemed a good choice at first. After all, thats exactly what it’s designed to do. No linux support though. In the end, I have a feeling I will be going the route of mythtv to give this a shot.

Sed vs Tail Showdown

February 28, 2008 1:36 pm by brian

Today I was presented with a problem. A colleague of mine did a MySQL dump on a database. The resulting MySQL dump file was 40GB. Problem is, he forgot to tell mysqldump to leave out the drop/create table statements. Here’s the rub:

What is the most efficient way to remove the first 43 lines of text from a 40GB text file?

“Surely there must be a simple *nix utility to do this.” we thought. My first guess was simple:

me: “Just use sed and tell it to delete the first 43 lines. Simple.”

colleague 1: “But won’t the regex engine be very inefficient for that?”

colleague 2: “Meh, I think sed is the right tool for the job.”

Now at this point we have a square off. Colleague 2 feels that the inclusion of the regex engine is simply too much overhead and is like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight. So they start to look around and I start doing some tests with a 1.5GB MySQL dump from Killoggs. Immediately, I see that it’s trying to create a temp file. If it’s creating a temp file, then that means it’s going to either create the temp file and rename it or create the temp file and copy it. Neither of those are especially good solutions because it will result in (at least) a lot of CPU utilization and even after the basic operation is done, there is still more to do in the way of a copy, move, etc.

So the next thought is doing the inverse. Rather than trying to delete the data, maybe we simply don’t want to output it. This logic seems to bear more fruit and the result is the following two potential solutions:

  • a) sed -n ’43,$p’ filename | mysql
  • b) tail -n +43 filename | mysql

Now, the real question? Which is faster? To test this i created a 200MB dummy text file comprised of log data. I then took this and ran the following commands repeatedly. The result? Both sed and tail were about the same as far as both real and system time. They both fluctuated and both came out roughly neck and neck. The real key was user time. Sed was always an order of magnitude slower as far as user time. In the end, this would lead me to concede my initial suggestion and go with tail.

Got thoughts on this? email me at brian …at…!

[bharrington@berstuk tmp]$ time `tail -n +41 test.log > /tmp/file1.test `

real 0m6.479s
user 0m0.077s
sys 0m1.145s
[bharrington@berstuk tmp]$ time `tail -n +41 test.log > /tmp/file1.test `

real 0m4.454s
user 0m0.061s
sys 0m1.091s
[bharrington@berstuk tmp]$ time `tail -n +41 test.log > /tmp/file1.test `

real 0m4.498s
user 0m0.049s
sys 0m1.058s
[bharrington@berstuk tmp]$ time `sed -n ’41,$p’ test.log > /tmp/file2.test `

real 0m5.025s
user 0m1.434s
sys 0m1.063s
[bharrington@berstuk tmp]$ time `sed -n ’41,$p’ test.log > /tmp/file2.test `

real 0m4.862s
user 0m1.351s
sys 0m1.091s
[bharrington@berstuk tmp]$ time `sed -n ’41,$p’ test.log > /tmp/file2.test `

real 0m4.606s
user 0m1.440s
sys 0m1.124s

Eclipse IDE

February 20, 2008 6:27 pm by brian

Eclipse is a pretty common development too familiar to Java developers. I’m starting to get into the swing of Java development and decided that I would give it a try. I’d tried installing it in the past and it was a bit of a bugbear. Recently, I noticed that it is available in the yum repository for Fedora. I like package repositories so I figured i’d give it a shot. What followed was a path filled with some ups and downs. To make things easier for you, I’m writing up a cheatsheet as to how to get it running as fast as possible with as little headache as possible.

First and foremost, you’ll want to install the following packages in Fedora with yum:

yum install eclipse-platform eclipse-emf-xsd-sdk eclipse-emf-sdo eclipse-ecj eclipse-emf-xsd eclipse-jdt eclipse-emf-sdo-sdk eclipse-rcp eclipse-emf eclipse-gef eclipse-subclipse eclipse-phpeclipse

That will do much of the heavy lifting and should get you going with doing PHP, Java, etc development.

Your next step (if you dare) will be to use Eclipse’s “update manager”. Now the update manager in eclipse is not nearly as friendly as yum, apt, etc. It does the work of telling you “yo, you’re missing XXX dependency” but not much else. You’re going to have to dig, and it’s not always friendly. Googling to find the package name (and sometimes package name + eclipse & “update manager”) will normally give you some pretty good links to add to the update manager.

To get you started, here’s a copy of my exported sites. You can easily import this by saving it as an XML file and then using the “import sites” utility in the update manager.

Eclipse Bookmarks

Good luck!

$14 Steadycam (The Poor Mans Steadicam)

January 4, 2008 4:43 pm by brian

Maybe some of you folks got a totally sweet camcorder for X-mas. If so, check this out. I’m a big fan.

$14 Steadycam The Poor Mans Steadicam

They are finally making ‘The Hobbit’ !!!!!!!!!!

December 20, 2007 3:25 pm by christian

After years of speculation and rumors that were touched off almost immediately following the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, New Line Cinema and MGM Pictures have announced that a two-film version of The Hobbit (that’s right — TWO parts!!) will be happening, with Peter Jackson at the helm. Early on, there were no direct (public) plans to make The Hobbit. Then, there was acknowledged interest by all parties but Jackson and New Line got into a messy legal dispute about profits owed from the previous Lord of the Rings movies. Now, the two sides have apparently settled their differences and the green light has been given. However, Jackson has stated that he does not want to direct the films because he has obligations to other projects that would keep The Hobbit from being released in time for its initial 2010 projection. This has led to early speculation of Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) and Sam Raimi (Evil Dead/Army of Darkness and Spiderman trilogies) as possible directorial candidates.

Of course, the top online news/blog/rumor source for all things LOTR-related during the fervor and excitement for the original movies,, is buzzing once again at this news after a long period of relative dormancy. Check it out for all the latest!

Storage storage storage!

November 15, 2007 1:33 am by brian

So it looks like we’re going to be rolling out our new storage array soon. I’m going to be buying the hardware this week. It’s going to be a 2TB monster which we’re setting up to expand all the way to 14TB. If that doesn’t keep our backups in good working order, ain’t nothing going to keep our backups in good working order!

HDTV buying woes

November 10, 2007 6:57 pm by christian

I recently purchased my first HDTV and found the process to be agonizing. The options seem endless, and the available information is simply staggering. 720p v 1080p? Plasma v LCD? Contrast ratio? Response time? Why is there a Sharp LC-42D62U model and a LC-42D64U model?? What’s the difference? Why are there 20 different Sony 46″ LCD models?! The more I read, the more questions I had rather than less. Everyone seemed to say something different.

I initially thought I wanted DLP over LCD or plasma because they offer the biggest picture bang for the buck. The only drawback seemed to be that the panel is not 3″ wide and can’t be hung on a wall, something I don’t care about at all. But the real main drawback for DLP is the viewing angle:  it is extremely narrow. If you move to either side, or stand up and look down at a DLP screen, the picture fades noticably, and this wouldn’t fly in my poorly-arranged living room. So, that’s out. LCDs have recently come down in price and up in size to compete with plasmas. I narrowed down my search to just LCDs based on the (somewhat antiquated but still valid) fear of burn-in with plasma: fixed images like sports or stock tickers eventually leave a burned-in image on the screen. This happens a LOT less on newer plasma models (apparently) but still is a possibility. So LCD it was.

Wired had a decent summary of the difference between 720p and 1080p. Basically, the human eye can’t tell the difference between the two on a screen smaller than about 50″, depending on how far away you are from the TV. On top of that, the number of true 1080p sources are very few right now. Blu-ray and HD-DVD, XBox 360 and I think PS3 are the only ones; no network broadcasts in anything higher than 720p or 1080i (a compromised 1080 resolution that has its drawbacks – read that article!) and I’ve read that no networks have any plans to switch to 1080p for the foreseeable future. That said, I still ended up buying a 1080p TV because, as one of the hot buzzword-ish specs for TVs that are selling right now, a lot of the accompanying specs are higher on the 1080p TVs, like response time (which is important for fast-moving images like sports) and contrast ratio and black levels.

I got sucked into the world of AVS forums and attempted to sift through the 10,000+ post threads on each popular model. Enter at your own risk! The most I took away from them was a general overall impression of the quality of various models, rather than a definitive solid choice. A lot of the nerds talk about specs and problems that the average person would never even notice. There is definitely useful info to be extracted, but it takes a lot of time and patience to read through it all. is of course the standard for electronics reviews, and I used it as well. The reviews are more accessible than the avsformums but still nitpicky on a level that doesn’t matter to the average consumer. The site helped me determine, though, that Samsung and Sharp seem to be the best bang-for-the-buck LCD. Pioneer and Sony seem to be the best overall, but you’re going to pay a pretty penny for them. Fairly certain that I could never tell the difference, I dismissed them as cost-prohibitive. After reading enough favorable reviews and seeing a couple of my friend’s Sharp Aquoses (what’s the plural of Aquos?), I opted for the 42″ LC-42D64U (LC-42D62U is a slightly older model with apparently rampant banding issues – one thing the nerds scared me away from) and am very happy with it. It gives a beautiful picture from my comcast digital HD box. My only regret is that I didn’t spring for the 46″ (another $700 didn’t seem worth it). My couch is 7′ away from the TV and I didn’t think that was too far for the 42″. When I sit closer I do notice some imperfections in the picture so I am definitely happy overall.

Good luck and happy hunting!