Sunday, September 13, 2009

The ups and downs of teenaged geekhood

(or "The imminent demise of the Acer")
Almost three years ago I bought an Acer Aspire 9300 laptop. With a 2 GHz cpu and 4 GB of RAM, along with a 17" NVIDIA-powered screen it was, as a friend said on seeing it, one monster of a laptop! I was a little disappointed with getting Windows XP/Media Center Edition, but it worked really well.
For about three months ! Then the hard drive just up and died. Acer sent me a replacement, of course, 'cos they're a good company, but an 80 GB drive didn't really seem enough, so I bought a 120 GB drive and have used it happily ever since.
So that, I suppose, was one reason the DSD decided on an Acer, and I certainly wasn't about to say that it was a bad idea. Maybe I should have, but one bad hard drive is hardly an indication of a repeat of IBM's PC/AT (left) fiasco where the hard drives suffered a 25-30% failure rate in the first 12 months of life!
Whatever the reason, I was surprised when a rather upset DSD rang me up in the middle of the morning the other day to tell me that she couldn't boot the machine. She described all the info off the screen in minute detail, and it was pretty obvious that the disk was either damaged or disconnected.
She took off the back (bottom!) of the machine and listened hard to the drive that evening, and she could definitely hear the drive start and find track 0, so disconnection wasn't the problem. Oh well [sigh]. Life could have been so easy. So off to Acer it goes. It should be there by today, so we'll see what they say about it. Watch this space!

Software Space of the Week.
So you all know that I'm a geek in general and of databases in particular. Well, I stuck Apache onto one of my Linux machines (the one I'm writing this on, as a matter of fact), along with MySQL. "What's that?" you ask. MySQL is the most used database on the internet, being a reliable, low-maintenance high-quality database. While it isn't normally considered as being designed for huge databases, it is used by companies like Google and Facebook for their web sites, along with some six million other installations. Apache is easily the most used web server program - with over 100 million web sites powered by Apache!
These are the two programs I'm putting up for the DSD to play with, as she says she wants to learn to program a web site. For me, however, I also need something to work with to control these. After some searching over the net I found a tool called Webmin. Definitely a winner, this one! It runs on your machine, puts up its own little web serve, and offers a heap of info on all aspects of your system. Seriously neat. I have it on an Ubuntu machine, but it also runs on Windows too, which is good news for those of you out there with Windows home networks.