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Mac OSX to Finisar

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Finisar makes some great products — their SFPs are rebadged and used in many devices, and we use their ProbeFCXs extensively.

I’m not much a fan of waiting for my Wintel box to boot up or wake up, and it needs so many additional things to work: an extra trackball because the touchpad sucks, needs a wart on the bottom for a serial connector, needs much bigger power connector with extra internationalization tools to connect to foreign power sockets, etc. I fear when I’m on a client’s site, and the serial port in the wart doesn’t work… like a week and a half ago: I had to borrow a laptop to connect to the devices, which wasn’t very professional. I decided I’d find an alternative, and my Mac just always works.

I wanted a way to connect to one using my Mac OSX-10.6.1. The following works:

  1. install osx-pl2303 with this link: http://sourceforge.net/projects/osx-pl2303/files/osx-pl2303/0.3.1/osx-pl2303-0.3.1-10.4-universal.dmg/download
  2. OK, I rebooted rather than load the driver from the command-line.
  3. You can plug in your device and check for the driver using kextstat — mine shows nl.bjaelectronics.driver.PL2303 (1.0.0d1)
  4. connect using the cable that works on your Wintel to the PL2303 device (mine’s a GUC232A made in China)
  5. Mac OSX comes with the screen tool, so I used screen /dev/cu.PL2303-00002006 57600
  6. works fine

This process might work just as well on a Wintel, and is a smaller device to carry.
PL2303

Nagios Can Survive AutoHeader

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What does it mean to survive autoheader? Portability, easier maintainability.

BTW: The patch is right here: nagios-autoheader.patch

Autoheader is a tool that creates the header file associated with autoconf-generated configure; autotools (ie autoreconf) tend to assume that if you’re using AC_CONFIG_HEADERS(), you have a header file generated from your configure.in or configure.ac.

FWIW, Nagios’ use of AC_CONFIG_HEADER(file1 file2 file3) is actually converted to AC_CONFIG_HEADERS(file1), but not using the plural makes it confuse autoheader a bit.

Consider that maintaining twenty files is more difficult than maintaining one; maintaining two files is only slightly more difficult, but still is an entry-point for human error.

Just like driving on the left (former British colonies, for example) is more difficult after driving on the right (everywhere else); for the same reason, doing things in a way that differs from the mainstream is more difficult for others — who are used to the mainstream — to adapt to. The corollary to this: approaching the mainstream way allows more developers to maintain your work.

The other benefit of joining the mainstream is that you gain from how the mainstream has “moved on”, and developed added benefits and utilities. For example, automake reduces the maintenance of makefiles, and gives you “make dist”. Nagios has a bunch of unusual scripts ot maintain versions of things, but Autotools do that by defining in the configure.in and substituting at ./configure time. This ties into the “maintaining fewer files” above as well as doing things in the conventional manner.

Note that it makes no difference whether a project has done it a certain way since USL times — a new user sees it for the first time only when they first see it, with no regard for how long it’s been like that. This is to say that if it looks broken when the user first starts to work with it, it doesn’t matter how long it’s been broken, or if that method wasn’t considered “broken” when filing a stack of cards for batch-processing.

The small change I’ve done today allows Nagios to approach the current conventional method, and opens the path for further enhancements in a step-by-step progression of little changes at a time.

Sneak in an Update, Won't You Microsoft?

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The way I use a computer, it’s very much a “show me what I want, don’t show me what I don’t want”. It’s all about choice, and letting me keep my train of thought without little popups (including “WOW! You have a wifi connection!” and “You’ve configured me not to autoupdate on connections! You have to confirm this for the 10th time today! Right Now! popup popup popup!”)

Installing RDC-2.0.3

(Installing RDC-2.0.3)

Part-and-parcel to this, if I ask for a piece of software, chances are, I want that piece of software. No more, no less.

Installing Remote Display Connection v2.0.3, I suddenly had to quit other Microsoft software because it was forcing an update. You’ll notice above that this is installing Remote Display Connection, it has nothing to do with Entourage.

Surprise hidden update

(Surprise! Hidden update)

… but Aha! You can’t update something secretly if it’s running!

I don’t recall asking for an update. Chances are, I had that software open because I was using it. If I wasn’t, it would not be open. Let’s not force me to stop working just to get more attention, shall we Microsoft? And lets not run updaters or anything else secretly that I didn’t ask for.

I only wanted a Remote Display Connection — nothing more — and only because I’m forced to connect to a Windows server. …because your networking protocol is so bloody weak, I have to use FTP.

Printer Driver Updates — a Nice Start

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Apple’s new update has a number of little things under-the-hood — not a showy, glamourous update, but one of “tightening the screws”. Sure, maybe it should have been a 10.5.9 update rather than a for-sale 10.6.0, but it is a lot of hidden work that is often difficult (read: expensive) so needs a transaction to recoup some of the costs. I don’t like giving out cash when I don’t have to, but this is useful stuff.

Some of the changes will probably filter down into 10.5.x, but not all — only enough to reduce their engineering costs of back-ported support issues.

One interesting one is the Printer Drivers Update.

Printer Drivers from Internet

The gist: Software Update will also update drivers for third-party printer.

OK, not earth-shattering revolutionary stuff, but what I see is:
Apple Software Update will begin to update third-party content on your behalf

That’s like updating the extra little free tools I have, such as Adium, sfCubed, MailDrop, Perian, Cha-ching, Visual Hub (if it wasn’t toast), VLC. It’s a step towards that goal, which is really: making it simpler to update.

Google aggregates RSS feed in Google Reader; RSS can easily represent updates with a rich XML digital description; these could be “subscribed to” in Software Update. We therefore have user-selected update channels, just like OpenSource and Linux have (for free).

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