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Why linux isn't ready for the Desktop...
Date: 29/7/2003
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Why not to use MYOB
Date: 29/7/2003
Recently I had to setup a link between a MYOB system and an Access database (Yeah yeah my misfortune).

To do this, MYOB provide an ODBC driver. Which costs $260 (why I don't know, it's not worth that even IF it worked). And to my delight doesn't work. So you shell out the dosh, get the key to unlock the software and try and install the drivers. Frustratingly they for the most part crash the 32bit ODBC control panel applet everytime you try and enter the key. This I discover by trail and error is because someone has the MYOB file open. Ok overlooking the bad form of crashing when the wind was blowing the wrong way I forge ahead. The next issue is an error dialog trying to connect to the DSN from Access, and is classic bad form it gives you a numeric error number and nothing else. Great I think... who knows what the error number means? So I start looking for a MYOB support number. And you guessed it, they charge support at $4.50 per minute, with a minimum charge of $22. *sigh*

So being the canny programmer that I am I look up the windows error message for the error number I have on the off chance it's a windows error. GetLastError says it would be "DLL not found". This sounds pausable so I track through the registry, find the DLL associated with the DSN and go and look at the DLL. Using the file viewer in '9x I work out which DLL's the MYOB ODBC DLL links to. And to my disgust one of the DLL's that it requires is MSVCRTD.DLL which only comes with Microsoft Visual C++ as a debugging component and is not present in any base Windows install since 3.1. Thus the product couldn't possibly work on a clean install of Windows. So these MYOB mob have released a $260 product that can not work fullstop. Wow! Thats pretty impressive, and people trust this company to manage their finance? Yeah pretty scary if you ask me.

After all that I got the DLL off the net, installed it in the path and tried again. This time I get a different and still cryptic error number and no GetLastError message lookup is going to help me this time.

So the link still doesn't work. And I've given up trying. Stay away from MYOB, esp if your in I.T.
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Matrix Reloaded
Date: 16/7/2003
Well like any Geek worth their salt my friends and I rushed out to see Matrix Reloaded the first chance we got. Full of hype and expectation we shelled out for theatre tickets and subjected ourselves to the latest installment from the Wachowski brothers.

Well to be honest at the time it seemed great. But then as soon as I left the theatre my brain re-engaged gear and the hype had all worn off and it left me wondering "what the?" Notice: Undefined variable: id in /home/fret/html/news.php on line 452 (More...)
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Flaming Linux
Date: 15/7/2003
Seeing as my KDE 3.1 doesn't restore my keyboard and mouse settings between sessions I've recently had to become conversant with the "command line" way of setting these. And so I'm now going to share this with you (like it or not).
xset m 5 4
xset r rate 250 30
Gives you some basic semblance of a usable mouse and keyboard.

Speaking of the command line whipping the new GUI tools I recently had the misfortune of having to burn a single file on to CD-RW from linux. An amazingly bad array of software is availble to eat your time away, seemingly endless broken packages will parade through your HD promising so much and delivering so little. Lets see, KDE Bake Oven was a complete non-starter. K3b started with a promising GUI config tool, detected all my hardware, setup the permissions to run and then hung X11 trying to saving the resulting config. Not cool... very NOT COOL!

So having a mere 15 minutes left to get the CD-RW burnt I got back to basics and used the command line tools. Which to my delight a) actually work and b) got it right first time. The file was tucked away in the plastic and I was outta there in the nick of time.

Finally I don't know what drug the Gnome coders were on when they made their Desktop folder '~/.gnome-desktop'. They should change it to match KDE's '~/Desktop' right away. Especially since there doesn't appear to be anyway of looking up it's current location. Let alone the user confusion caused when switching between Gnome and KDE. *sigh* (Btw symlinking .gnome-desktop to Desktop doesn't work flawlessly either... I tried it)

Needless to say I'm so impressed with the state of Linux usability that I recommend even seasoned computer veterans stay well away.
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Mozilla (on Linux) Bookmark Bar
Date: 8/7/2003
For the last 2 days I noticed I couldn't add any bookmarks to Mozilla's bookmark bar. I would just beep at me when I drop a link on it. Charming, but I did get to the bottom of this bizarre behaviour, basically the bookmarks file in my profile directory has somehow lost it's personal toolbar section. And once I copied it back in from some other profile it all rather un-magically works again. The 'zilla is pretty cool most of the time... but it's not perfect.

On another browser related note, I have managed to get internet banking up and running with Mozilla on Linux after all. Yay Linux.
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Australian Broadband
Date: 12/6/2003
After reading the recent Slashdot story on the state of broadband in Australia I bumped into these prices for ADSL which is substantially better than my current situation (i.e. Last months 28.8 hell). Now where was that contract paperwork... *evil grin*

Just make sure you never use the evil Telstra's services, every cent they don't get helps! (Proud to be telstra free for over a year! Except for one $.50 call, I'M SORRY I'M SO SORRY!?! It was an accident)
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