Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Everybody needs a ... Doug Richard !

Not sure how many people may remember the name of a song by Fatboy Slim called "Everybody needs a 303", but today I surely found a good paraphrase for it: "Everybody needs a Doug Richard !"

Doug is one of the sharpest people I have got the chance to see and I think that's what it makes him best suited at what he does: teaching entrepreneurship and reviewing business cases. And we get a pretty good number of chances seeing that during the School for Startups program. He slices through your business plans like bread and challenges your (preconceived) ideas with the sharpness of a cold blooded shark — all that while putting a big smile on his face. And, boy, by the end of the ordeal, do the "full stop" sentences fall with the weight of a thousand pounds hammer. And that's exactly what you need if you want to take your business for a reality check tour. One can only wish to take his chances with him once in a while — I know I do. On the other hand, now I understand what kind of horrors the unprepared entrepreneurs might go through when pitching to him.

That's why I think every business would make good use of such a presence in their company, to take the pulse whenever things appear to go slippery. Just like the TB-303 was an unmissable tool for the dance scene of the 90's, a reference presence like Doug would be invaluable for every business, hence the title of the post.

Now if only we could clone Doug...

Monday, 12 July 2010

Love to "Listen"

Every now and then I have the chance to sample Google's (or rather the Google Engineers') thinking style and, although not consistently all the time, I must admit I like it — that's why I have been "subdued" to use their services for a lot of my personal/business needs. The latest occasion for such "tasting" has been Listen, a fairly obscure Android application for searching and listening to podcasts.

As with other Google products, one can immediately recognize the "minimalistic yet functional" style — the views are elegantly clean pertaining a minimum amount of controls (only the really necessary ones), integration with Google Reader (a new Listen Subscriptions tag category will appear), quick view/access/control to the current podcast in status bar, ease of browsing the (searched) subscriptions and, the cherry on top, keeping tabs of your progress for each podcast (e.g. you resume from the last listening position for whatever previously opened podcast). Oh, did I mention it's quite lightweight ? :)...

So if I managed to get you interested by now go ahead and try it on your Android-powered phone (yep, it's Android only). For the IT oriented people I highly recommend the TWIT podcast series...

Tip: the subscriptions search is English-only; if you cannot find a certain podcast, you might as well directly add its XML/Atom feed URL via My Subscriptions / Add a subscription.

Monday, 8 February 2010


This weekend I have participated at the FOSDEM 2010 open source event, annually held in Brussels at the ULB (Universite Libre de Bruxelles). It's a free-entrance conference with talks ranging from (Linux) distribution-related stuff and up to new trends in the OSS programming community. The nice part is that one can get a glimpse of the current status of the major projects and also hear about what's new and hot in the OSS domain.

The major themes that the sessions were grouped around were Distributions, Embedded, Mozilla, GNOME, KDE, Mono, Drupal, GNUstep, NoSQL, MySQL, Openmoko, X.org, Java, BSD. Since my interests revolve around FreeBSD and cross-distribution cooperation I have been attending mostly these two session groups. The general picture that I could gather is that better cooperation and integration (especially when it comes to packaging software) is desired but my feeling is that not too many people are yet ready to commit to such ideals. Things like openSUSE's Build Service and the shared dependency solver (CUDF) bring in nice touches but I believe more standardization and commitment are needed before something viable will be rolling out. Of course, it's hard to set on a commitment when one is not forced to but rather even lured to diverge inside this free (OSS) ecosystem. That's why I think it's worth paying attention to people like Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu's "angel investor") when they are preaching for synchronizing the efforts. Variety has its value, but so does consistency among various OS'es.

The talks were complemented by the booths outside the lecture rooms, most of the big distributions being present there. In the BSD camp I have seen FreeBSD/PC-BSD, NetBSD and, bit of a surprise, MirBSD (MirOS) sharing the desk with FreeBSD. Not too many BSD personalities around, only Brooks Davis that I could count from the FreeBSD core team.

As usual the O'Reilly books booth was pretty busy with interested people (yours included) and outside the halls you could opt for a treat of "frites" (french fries) or you could sample a few Belgian beers (it's quite a pity to miss that being in the famous country of a thousand beers).

All in all, this was an interesting experience, at least to see what the other camps are showing off or working on. You can see here a few pictures I made from the conference and around (also some slides from the presentations here). The organizers have promised the presentations video recordings in about a week.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Mute your PC speaker (bell) under FreeBSD / VMware

If your daily job is taking place in an open-space shared office then most likely you will want your laptop/PC to be as quiet as possible in order not to disturb your co-workers. Unfortunately the FreeBSD console does employ quite a loud bell signal (beep) and lots of operations in the terminal are prone to trigger it (especially if you are accustomed to TAB completion).

To disable generating the bell sound in FreeBSD at the console you can set the following sysctl in /etc/sysctl.conf:
Unfortunately it does not work to set it in the bootloader (/etc/boot/loader.conf). However, if you're running under VMware there is another trick — add the following line to the .vmx configuration file of the VM in question:
Alternatively you can add it to on of the following configuration files to make the change global for all your VM's:
  • Linux: ~/.vmware/config
  • Windows: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware Workstation\config.ini
PS: to disable the bell in the X interface you need to run "xset b off".

Monday, 2 November 2009

Photos from SNW Europe 2009 conference

Here are a few pictures I made while participating at the SNW Europe 2009 conference:

The conference gathered topics such as Storage, Cloud Storage and Services, Virtualization, Solid Storage, IT Management, etc.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Installing Linux kernel headers for Amazon EC2 Ubuntu instances

When you play around with Ubuntu EC2 instances on AWS you might, at one point, stumble upon needing to install the Linux kernel headers to build some kernel module(s) from source. However, the standard Ubuntu repositories do not offer the -xen images used to build those AMI's:
# apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
E: Couldn't find package linux-headers-2.6.27-23-xen

You should try to use the Ubuntu EC2 PPA packages for the Xen kernels — e.g.  you may use the following:
# echo "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-on-ec2/ppa/ubuntu YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE main" >/etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu-on-ec2.list
# apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 9EE6D873
# apt-get update
# apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`

Don't forget to replace "YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE" with your own Ubuntu flavour (hardy/intrepid).

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Slides and Audio from EuroBSDCon 2009

For those of you who missed the talks or want to remember some of the things said, the slides and some audio recordings (only Stream A sessions) have been made available on the EuroBSDCon 2009 website.

While at it you may want to check out the EnterpriseBSD introduction slides that I presented in the Works-In-Progess session -- see my blog post on enterprisebsd.com.