John Carter…

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the cinema. I’ve been checking the listings regularly, but nothing has caught my interest. Yesterday I saw an advert on some website for John Carter which caught my eye. The name of the film sucks, which is probably why I never noticed it before, but after seeing the trailer I though it was worth a shot.

I really enjoyed it. The story is pretty neat, provided you don’t try to analyze it for more than a second. The visual effects are fantastic. There is a cute dog/lizard/monster thing that I really want. The leading lady is hot. Most importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I went to see the 2D version, but Noons said the 3D version was good too.

If you like Sci-Fi movies I think you will like it.



Windows 8 Rant Continued…

One of the comments on my  rant about Windows 8 suggested this might be a good thing for desktop Linux. I just don’t see it myself. The only people I know who run desktop Linux are techies or immediate family members of techies. I don’t see this changing any time soon. Why? The same reasons that have been used for years…

  1. Windows gets bundled with new PCs. People will have it and use it, regardless of their preferences.
  2. Companies support windows with drivers and software. The number of companies that truly support Linux on the desktop is limited in comparison. Chances are you are reading this on a desktop using a graphics card that currently doesn’t have an open source driver directly from the manufacturer. The recent news about NVIDIA may change this.
  3. The PC games industry is based around Windows. Yes, there are Mac and Linux titles, but for the most part, it’s a Windows world.
  4. Some of the “industry standard” apps people use (Microsoft Office) do not come on Linux. Yes, you can run them on WINE or use an open source alternative, but the fact is you can’t just put in a MS Office disc and install it on Linux.
  5. Following on from point 4, the education system focuses heavily on the MS world. My sister-in-law is currently doing an evening school computer course, which is totally based around Windows and Office. The course in question is pretty much mandatory for any people looking for a job on the public sector these days.

I know there are counter arguments to all these points (many involving The Cloud no doubt) and in making them you will be preaching to the converted. I’m writing this on a PC running Fedora 16. 🙂 The point is, as much as I hate Windows 8 and it’s bipolar interface, I don’t see it having any affect on the desktop landscape.

The biggest threat to Microsoft in recent years has been iOS and Android on mobile devices. MS has failed in the phone and tablet market. If Windows 8 starts getting a reasonable market share on mobile devices, Microsoft may reign supreme again. If not, they will be consigned to the desktop, which is not a terrible fate. People keep predicting the death of the desktop and laptop, but I don’t know anyone who has completely binned their desktop/laptop in favor of a fondle-slab or phone… Yet… 🙂

So we are left in this depressing position where Windows 8 sucks and we are all going to use it (directly or indirectly). My alter-ego, Captain Support, will be called upon to rescue friends and family using Windows 8, so I’m going to have to use it, even though I don’t use Windows myself.



Update: Just read this. Seems I’m just afraid of change. 🙂 Funny. I didn’t feel afraid of change when I moved from GNOME2 to GNOME3. In fact, I seem to remember writing that I liked the change. I think people are afraid of changing to something crap. 🙂

Windows 8 Consumer Preview : Complete Abortion!

I wrote some time ago about the Windows 8 Developer Preview, which I didn’t like at all from a desktop perspective.

Today I installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. What a complete abortion of an operating system! I thought the developer preview was bad, but it’s like they’ve taken all the comments people made about that steaming pile of crap, given everyone the bird, then made it even worse just to spite them.

Now let’s get this straight. I’ve never used Windows 8 on a phone or on a fondle-slab. It may be awesome on those, but I’ll probably never find out. I’m talking here about a desktop machine with a keyboard and mouse.

Metro: Fail. This is not a fondle-slab, it’s a desktop. Fail. The screen looks crap. Fail. I have to sideways scroll to get to anything, or use extra mouse clicks. Fail. Have you MS guys never used a desktop? Fail. Running IE on Metro is vile. Fail. There is a big chunky address bar that animates on and off at the bottom of the screen. Fail. I despise it! Fail.

Desktop: The crippled Start menu from the Developer Preview has now completely gone. Fail. All you get is the option to switch back to the Metro screen. Fail. Looks like the hacks I used previously to resurrect the Windows 7 style menu don’t work now either. Fail. I read somewhere you can buy some 3rd party software to make it work like Windows 7. Fail.

Desktop art: I hope that crappy fish graphic is just for the Consumer Preview because it is a total fail!

Speed: Fail. This is not the finished product, so maybe there is still a bunch of tracing on, but if this is to show the consumer what they will get, then fail!

There are some WindowsKey+(letter) short cut keys to navigate a bit quicker, like:

  • Win+x : Basic Admin Tools menu.
  • Win+i : Info screen including power off button
  • Win+e : Windows Explorer
  • Win+q : All Apps Metro screen, with search bar initiated.
  • Win+f : Files

Nothing new here, but my Mom will never find this stuff. If it’s not on a basic menu it doesn’t exist! Fail.

As with the previous incarnations of Windows 8, this is a complete fail of an OS. I can see corporate users going spastic over this. There is no way I would want to support users on this OS. The interface changes between Windows XP, Vista and 7 were quite gradual. This is a complete interface overhaul for all the wrong reasons. The really depressing thing about it is it will be forced on the world because it will get bundled on every new PC. Microsoft will claim record uptake, as they always do, and everyone who isn’t a geek will have no choice but to bend over, lube up and get royally shafted by Microsoft.

I’m sure in a few years we will look back and laugh at how moronic the current OS interface designers are. Repeat after me, “this is a desktop, not a bloody iPad!”



PS. Looking forward to Windows 9.

The Truth About Exercise and 100 Rep Challenge…

A couple of days ago I watched an episode of Horizon on the BBC iPlayer called The Truth About Exercise. If you can’t use BBC iPlayer, you can read about the show here. It was a pretty interesting show. The take-home messages were:

  • As far as weight loss is concerned, unless you are running marathons every day, exercise will probably not counter a bad diet. If you want to lose weight, it’s all about the diet. The exercise is a bonus. For lots of people, as they increase their exercise they also eat more, probably because they think they can afford to. The classic, “It’s OK to have this because I’ve been to the gym today!”, line springs to mind. 🙂
  • For insulin sensitivity, High Intensity Training (HIT) (or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)) training rules. The minimum you need to do to get significant benefits is 3×20 second bursts of all out effort, 3 times a week. That’s 3 minutes of hard exercise a week! So the workout the guy followed was, 20 seconds max effort on an exercise bike, followed by 2 minutes of slow peddling, then repeat that 2 more times. This workout was done 3 times a week. Compared to most HIT/HIIT/Tabata workouts, this is very easy, but if you are not used to interval training, this is actually a lot harder than it sounds. Max effort really does mean you peddle like your life depends on it!
  • For aerobic fitness (VO2 max), the effect is less predictable because your results depend very much on your genetics. About 15% of people get sensational improvements in VO2 max. About 20% of people get no benefit. The rest scatter somewhere between the two groups. They have a genetic test to predict your reaction. It’s interesting/scary to know that your chances of improving your VO2 max, regardless of the exercise program used, is fixed from the point you are conceived. 🙂 Assuming you are not one of the poor responders, this 3 minute a week HIT workout can give you most of the health benefits you expect to get from exercise.

If you’ve read my other blog posts on exercise you’ll know I’m a fan of HIIT/Tabata style workouts, so it’s nice to hear my efforts are not totally wasted. 🙂

Fridays are becoming the 100 rep challenge day at the gym. The idea is to do something different each week, but today we did the same as last week and I managed to improve my time by about 15 seconds. Today’s challenge was to do the following 5 exercises for 20 reps each as fast as you can:

  • Sprawls (Deadmen) : From standing, drop to the ground body flat arms out. From there, hands back to a pushup position and spring back to your feet and stand up. That’s one rep. Slightly different to the type of Sprawl you see demonstrated on Youtube.
  • Thrusters  (30kg bar) : Hold bar in front of your shoulders, squat down and once you rise up push the bar overhead. That’s one rep.
  • Bunny-Hops over a bench/step: Hold on to bench with your hands and have both legs on one side of the bench. Jump the feet over the bench to the opposite side and back. That’s *two* reps. One rep per jump. This feels like a rest compared to the other exercises.
  • Pushups
  • Clean and press (30kg bar)

It sounds so trivial and a couple of the lads were all cocky before we started. Nobody was acting cocky when we finished. 🙂

Last week the best time was about 3:30. This week it was 3:20, but in our group it was about 4:20. I came in about 5:20 this week. It’s bloody hard throwing a body as heavy as mine around. 🙂 Of the 10 people in my group, 3 of us had already done our workouts, so I guess we had an excuse for being a bit slower. It would be nice to try it fresh, but at the same time I would rather get my regular workout done so I don’t get tempted to forget it.

In addition to being knackering, it’s a nice bonding exercise. There was a mix of members and staff both doing the challenge and supporting. It kinda makes you feel like a team. It’s also nice that I was about double the age of most of the people and by far the fattest, but I didn’t come last. At my age you have to take these little victories where you can. 🙂

If anyone else fancies giving it a go I would love to know your times. It’ll give me something to aim for. 🙂



More Linux Articles (RHCSA)…

I put a few more Linux articles live yesterday.

As before, they are targeted at the level of information needed for the RHCSA exam, so nothing really new for long time users of Linux.

I also changed the introductory article to include the exam objectives, each linking to the relevant article for that objective. I didn’t want to break things down to one article per objective, because I think there is too much crossover, so this seemed the best solution.

Writing this basic Linux stuff can be a little dull compared to writing about new Oracle features. Sometimes I feel like writing, “just read the bloody ‘man/info’ page!” 🙂 I considered giving up a couple of times, then I got a rash of simple Linux questions and it seemed like destiny when I could easily answer them by pointing to an article I was currently writing. I guess in the past I’ve been a little dismissive of these types of questions. It’s easy to forget that Linux is still very new to lots of people. I tend to think of Oracle DBAs as having a reasonable UNIX background, but there are a lot of Oracle DBA types who never venture far from Windows, so maybe this stuff is more useful than it seems at first sight.

I guess I’m about two thirds of the way through the RHCSA notes now.



Repairman Jack: Conspiracies…

Conspiracies is the third book in the Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson.

Jack is hired to look for a missing woman who happens to be part of a very exclusive conspiracy theory group. What’s more she went missing just before presenting her Grand Unification Theory, that supposedly explains the true root of all conspiracies through all the ages. Coincidence?

I really liked this story. I’m not into conspiracy theories myself, but I can see why they are fascinating to people. That constant spiral of the lack of evidence because the evidence is being withheld. It kinda draws you in.

I find people’s reaction to conspiracy theories rather intriguing. Doubters will turn their nose up at the thought of aliens because of the lack of proof, then go to church to worship to a God that requires no proof, just faith. Interesting. 🙂

I have a couple of acquaintances who are into the whole conspiracy thing. The thing that is rather disturbing about that is once you go down that path everything you ever see, do or experience seems to some how relate to it. Everything is a cover-up by [ the government | the Illuminati | Aliens | Satan | some other dark forces ].

My brain is a bit to basic for all of that. If I see it, it’s real. If I don’t it’s mumbo jumbo. Life’s a lot easier to cope with that way. 🙂



Dates on articles…

Over the weekend, someone wrote to me asking about the lack of dates on my website articles. I tried to reply to them directly, but their mailbox bounced everything back, so I though I would write it here on the off chance they read my blog.

As the original poster correctly pointed out, there are no dates on my website articles. When I started the website many years ago it just never crossed my mind to put dates on the articles and I’ve seen no reason to include them since. Why not?

The articles on my site are divided into sections based on the database version (8i, 9i, 10g, 11g etc.). Within that grouping, there are subdivisions, based on the specific release or type of feature being discussed. If an article is not version-specific, it is put in the miscellaneous section. So when you are reading an article, you know the relevance of that article based on the version you are working on. If you are working on 11gR2 and following an 8i article, you should be questioning the relevance of that article. That’s not to say it has no relevance, but you have to question it.

As far as my own site goes, I often write new features articles and link to those from previous articles. For example, my Scheduler article was written against 10gR1, but it links to articles describing updates in 10gR2, 11gR1 and 11gR2 etc. I feel this is pretty clear.

The date of an article doesn’t have nearly as much significance as the version of the software it is written against. When I Google for an answer to something, I check the DB/OS/Software version being discussed. I can’t remember the last time I even looked at a date on a DB article. In the case of generic articles (not version-specific) on my site, they often contain a timeline internally, stating when a feature first became available and how it changed over DB versions, so once again, how relevant is the date here?

Now I’m not against dates on articles. If I were starting a site today I would probably use an open source CMS, which would no doubt put a date on every article, which would be fine. My point is that 11 years down the line, I don’t think adding (faking*) dates would add any value since the site is already divided by version.

If you are the person who emailed me and you are reading this, I hope that explains my position on this. 🙂



* I do actually store creation dates in my CMS, but only the articles written in the last 6-ish years were written using the CMS, so any articles prior to this point will have a fake date assigned to them, which is the date they were loaded into the CMS, not the date they were written.

I also track last updated dates, but articles get updated for typos etc all the time, so a last updated date is no indication of actual core content update, if you know what I mean. I can tell you now, almost every article on the site was updated between December 2011 and January 2012, so even very old articles that have no core content changes would have a very recent updated date.