On Computers

Rabbit's Rant

Jack 'daWabbit' Imsdahl, jack@oncomputers.info

20 July 2003

Patch City

Jack 'daWabbit' Imsdahl

What a week! Seems like everything we run on the computers here had one or more security patch, update or upgrade to download and install. Windows and much of the Windows and GNU or GNU/Linux software we run had to be patched or upgraded and it seemed like none of it could be put off to more convenient times without running some risk to security or functionality.

There's obviously something wrong when managing as few computers as I do takes a full day out of a week. Perhaps the fix/patch model really is as flawed as some of the pundits say. Still, I don't let it happen automatically as that seems to encourage even more problems; not least with installation of "features" I don't wish to have on my machines.

I'm not knowledgeable enough to have an idea that will fix this, so I guess it's "grin and bear it" time, again. This sort of thing always makes me feel angry and put upon, though.

Open Source Mechanical Design

A few weeks ago, in this space, I wondered in print whether the Open Source collaborative model would work for mechanical design. Since then, I've contacted some people and enlisted a few co-conspirators in designing a battery powered scooter for my wife to use as a mobility aid. A couple have even signed on to help, though I'm still alone as the principal worker.

We've standardized on QCad as the design platform. (See my rant of 13 July, 2003, for particulars on this program, which is free) and a format for research findings. I guess the next step is to publish to the web and we'll be doing that as soon as time permits.

Sources for wheels, tires, motors and many mechanical parts have been found. While these parts are identical to those sold for mobility aids at retail, prices for major components from industrial suppliers who willingly sell to the public are as little as 11% of prices at retail outlets! It is looking as if a price of somewhere near $300.00 (US) is feasible for the finished device.

I'll keep you advised of how things are going and if anyone wishes to participate in the effort, feel free to contact me at the e-mail address above.

Beta in the Saddle Again

I'm embarking on beta testing again. This time, it's a new version of Matrix, my favorite HTML editor for Windows. The new features list is huge, so there will be a lot to try out and report on. I've become friends with the developer and am looking forward to having excuses to chat with him again, as well as having enhanced features in Matrix to play with.

We don't do much beta testing here. Most of the computers we have that are able to run newer software are "production" machines that we can't risk losing the service of to repair damage caused by bad software. I know and trust this developer, though, and have tested a few times in the past for him. Martijn's work will run well enough to cause no harm before he sends it out for shaking down, which is a care some developers do not exercise. In the past, we've gotten some truly awful beta applications to test, though most have not been bad at all. I suspect there is always some risk, but a good developer will keep that to a minimum. 


© 2003 Jack Imsdahl

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