This weekend I decided to put my mini-itx hardware to good use finally. It required an afternoon of setting up Server 2003 with a keyboard/mouse/monitor attached - but once it booted into 2003 I moved it to the loft, where it sits next to the 2TB fileserver:
The webserver is the small aluminium box in the top of the picture. Hardware wise, it's a mini-itx EPIA 5000, which uses a 533MHz VIA C3 processor and 512MB PC133 SDRAM. Fairly useless in today's standards, but I'm surprised how well it handles Server 2003 and indeed, serving webpages.
For anyone interested in trying this at home - it's fairly straightforward. Simply forward http (and ftp if needed) to the webserver, using your router. Then register on DynDNS and pick a domain. I'm lucky as my Linksys router has an option to put in your DynDNS information and it will do the rest.I'll keep you updated on any further developments, as I'm planning on hosting a few larger files on it (over 1TB of network storage) and using it for my ASP projects.
It's that time of year again - domain renewal time!
If my calculations are correct, slickhouse.com is 4 years old this October. Yeah, I think that's right. Which means by November, I will have been blogging for 2 of those years.
So, I have decided to upgrade the hosting from basic, to advanced - which includes:
- 4GB disc space (up from the current 1GB)
- 200GB/Month bandwidth
- Up to 4 domains
At this stage, the extra domains will most likely just be used for redirects to slickhouse.com - but I could end up creating separate sites in the near future - we'll see...
I'm a fairly regular user of Digg - as it fills an often expansive gap of internet boredom, a time when I'm trawling the depths of the web to find something of interest to read. It's fantastic for getting the most up-to-date information, spanning technology to American Politics; science to sports and plenty in between.
But after a year or so's worth of Digg'ing I've come to realise that there is some biased behaviour between Digg users. Take, for example, the following image:
Some of you might not recognise Digg's top 10, others may be clicking right now, confused as to why you can't view the stories. Surely all of you can see a trend though? 6 out of the top 10 are Apple related stories.
Now, before all you haters start posting rants in the comments below - I know there's some Apple thingy going on right now, somewhere in the world. But 60% is a bit ridiculous.
Imagine 60% of the top 10 being filled with Microsoft stories? Actually, there could be such a day - if Microsoft announced that all their software was to be free.
This isn't news to anyone using Digg though, as they're confronted with Apple stories all the time. Is the iPhone that good though? Surely it can't revolutionise mobile phones like the iPod revolutionised portable music players???
I'll leave you with another blog post that highlights the top 10 topics on Digg over a 4 week period. If you think we're the only two writing about the [somewhat]biased rankings, then simply search for top 10 digg topics. I've only looked at a couple, but I reckon all of the results show Apple to be within the top 5, maybe even 3.
And for anyone reading this - could you explain why Apple is so popular amongst Digg users? Sure, they might all be rating the stories from their iBooks, or even iPhones themselves, but Digg should represent a good majority of technically-minded Internet users. Are most of us using Apple products? Or is it that a select few do, but many more lust after them?
So many questions, though one answer is certain - unless Steve Jobs does something disastrous, Apple will continue to be splashed all over the web. Anyone up for creating Strawberry Inc.?
After using eBay for several years now, both as a buyer and also a seller, we've decided to expand.
A few weeks back I spotted an article on Digg regarding Floppy Discs and all the uses for the [now]useless storage media. As I had a pack of 10 lying around, I made two Floppy Disc pen holders, which turned out pretty well.
Last Bank-Holiday Monday we took a trip to the local market, where I picked up a box of 100 Floppy Discs - the only catch being that they were Pink.
So, if you take a trip to eBay, you'll find our new business venture - a Pink Floppy Disc desk tidy.
If you've got a spare few quid lying around, feel free to place an order (or two). There's just the 5 on there at the moment, but I have enough discs for another 15. If it's completely unsuccessful, then I've also got about 144MB of storage to hand, albeit spread across many useless discs...
Seeing as many people reading this probably have dabbled in website creation, I thought I'd pass on my recommendation of Microsoft's Virtual PC 2007. Earlier this year, Microsoft released their latest offering of Virtual PC which is now free to download and use from their site.
I've been using it daily for the past few months, as I find it an invaluable tool for a Web Designer. The uses aren't limited to us either, as Virtualisation is fast becoming the best solution for many IT situations.
I use Virtual PC 2007 for testing different Operating Systems using the one PC. In the past I would have set-up a dual-boot system, requiring a reboot every time I needed to use a different O/S. But Virtual PC allows you to work from within the one host operating system, with several guests too. At work I simply use Vista Business as the host, with XP Pro SP2 as the guest - with the former containing IE7 and the latter having IE6; Firefox; Opera; Safari and Netscape all installed.
This allows me to test a website in a range of browsers, as I'm developing it. Previously Web Designers would have created a site to work well in their preferred browser and then added additional styles/fixes to accommodate the other browsers available. This may work well for some, but it's great to fix errors or issues as soon as they occur in a browser, rather than waiting until the final stages of development.
Tonight I decided to bring Virtual PC 2007 to my desktop PC at home. I have Vista Ultimate (64-bit, as VPC 2007 is available in 32 and 64-bit flavours) as the host, with XP Pro SP2 as the guest (with Opera, IE6 and Safari). The RC of Server 2008 is also on there, but mainly to see whether it'll be a feasible upgrade to my Fileserver in the near future.
I'll soon be adding Windows 2000 to the mix, with the (now)prehistoric IE5 for that extra conformity with my sites. Ubuntu 7.04 is also lying around, awaiting a Virtual HDD of its own.
Virtual PC allows you to run a whole range of operating systems from within your host. If you've got an old DOS/PC game or legacy application lying around, then you can install a compatible guest operating system and relive those retro moments. Perhaps you need to code for a certain environment or test a recently developed game/application too? VPC stores the guest operating systems within Virtual Hard Drives, which can be moved from PC to PC if required. These files adapt to the size that the operating system requires, allowing you to store several within the one partition on your physical drive.
Once you've got Virtual PC installed (a short and simple process I should add), you can either boot from a CD within Virtual PC, or drag n' drop an .iso of the operating system to begin installation.
Virtual PC 'emulates' a PC, allowing you to use the operating system as if it was installed as the host (with a few limitations though). The difference between this and a multi-boot set-up though, is that your Virtual PCs wont harm the host operating system, as files cannot be accessed directly from one to the other (shared folders can bypass this). The benefit? You could use the guest O/S to test new software, safe in the knowledge that any virus or spy ware caught wont be passed on to your primary operating system.
I'll leave you with the following screenshot:
That's slickhouse.com shown in Firefox > IE 7 > Safari > Opera. The observant of you will spot the one issue I'll need to sort soon in Safari. If you've got a few GBs of hard-drive spare and are wanting to relive the joys (and annoyances) of XP and its siblings, then go and download Virtual PC for free.