Welcome to Zorin.org!

Welcome to Zorin.org, powered by Drupal! (Who is Zorin?)

This is my little spot on the web for discussing the various things I do, or the interesting and bizarre things I sometimes find on the net or elsewhere. It is hosted on Sarabi, a Linux box that handles this site and a few other things.

A lot of content that is not on the main Zorin.org site, but still available is linked in the "Interesting Links" block on the right.

Note that if anything on this site offends you, you should seriously consider becoming less easily offended, for this site is pretty tame. Sheesh. }:)

This site was frozen on 12-Aug-2011. Nothing dynamic (making comments, logging in) will work. Most of my content goes to my Livejournal these days. Feel free to check it out.

They simply don't get it.

People who are against net neutrality simply because it's "more government regulation" simply don't get it.

They don't realize that telecoms are natural monopolies. It's nearly impossible for competition to happen in an arena where one company owns 95% of the infrastructure in an area.

They also don't realize that, left to their own devices, these companies will do EVERYTHING THEY CAN to screw their customers to make money. The customers don't have a choice. Even when there are two companies in an area, they will frequently do the same anti-customer things because they both know the other is doing the same so they won't lose customers. They both end up making more money. This happens in other industries too; look how quickly all the airlines started charging more luggage fees when the first one came up with the idea.

Regulation isn't always bad. There are cases when an authority has to step in and make sure everyone is playing fair. Internet access is one of them.

So, all you people bitching about "more government regulation", please wake the hell up and join us here in reality. Thank you.

So I haven't posted here in a while...

Recently someone mentioned that I haven't posted here in forever. So I went to my site and noticed that indeed I haven't posted in a while. So I decided to post.

Yep, I don't update here too often. I mostly update on Livejournal, because the nature of Livejournal lets a whole bunch of people automatically follow your updates. Over here, only a few random people check, and strangers that come in over Google searches. While I love all of you who do follow me here, Livejournal is a better place for the "journal" sort of thing.

So yeah, it's at http://zorinlynx.livejournal.com/ - Most of my public posts are geek/cat/silliness related, and I welcome comments.

As for my old reason of not using LJ because I'm depending on someone else to host my content...I have a good backup strategy in place, and that's really all I needed.

Whee, upgrades...

Brought sarabi up to the latest OS patch level, upgraded PHP to 5.2.x, Apache to latest 2.0.x, Gallery to 2.2, Drupal to latest rev, cleaned out some useless garbage that was left by spammers, and posted a few fuckloads of photos.


I should update this more often. :)

ATSC and digital television: Are we in for another upgrade race?

As many of you know, analog television broadcasting in the US will end on February 2009. Of course, the television networks refuse to let you forget this, constantly telling you that if you are using an old fashioned over the air antenna (rabbit-ears) to receive TV, you better get a converter box. They don't want to lose their valuable viewers.

Of course this is false; rabbit-ears aren't the factor at all; it's the receiver that's in your television. But I'm sure there will be folks that will panic about this and get converter boxes they don't need even though they have a new set.

That's not what I'm going to talk about, though. I'm going to talk about ATSC itself.

ATSC is a neat little standard. You can transmit a 19 megabit signal in the space that an old fashioned analog television channel used to use. You can support multiple sub channels, and resolutions up to 1920x1080 (1080i) high definition. However, there is a force at work that will probably lead to more frequent television receiver upgrades than you might have been used to.

The original television standard, NTSC, was pretty much static from the 1950s until today. The technology remained backwards compatible; heck you can use a 1960s television to watch today's analog broadcasts. However, digital technology is constantly improving at a high rate dictated by Moore's law and software design. Right now ATSC uses MPEG-2 transport streams to transmit television signals. MPEG-2 is already a fairly obsolete codec which requires much more bandwidth for a given image quality than newer codecs like h.264 AVC.

Since broadcasters want to cram more and more channels into an already tight spectrum, there will likely be a push to move to more efficient codecs in the future as technology marches on. Do you really think you're going to be using MPEG-2 transport streams to watch television in 2025? I'll bet you $1000 that you won't be.

There are three possibilities, really. The first is that broadcast television will stagnate. They will keep using the current ATSC standard to transmit the few, limited channels we already have and the spectrum use will become less efficient as time marches on. The second is that broadcast television will eventually die, and be fully replaced by cable TV and direct broadcast satellite systems. With these systems, upgrading the codec used is as simple as upgrading the set-top box. As codecs improve we can keep packing more and more channels of rubbish into the same space. The third possibility is that we're going to be upgrading our televisions every 10 to 15 years as new codecs are added to the ATSC standard. I wouldn't put it past the industry making people do this.

And the most amusing thing about all of this? There still won't be much of anything worth watching on television. Why do media companies think more channels is better? I'd be happy with five channels if the programming were decent.

And that's my geeky outlook on television standards. Carry on...

No, you don't want an iPhone. Here's why!

Someone working at a Verizon store is using printouts of a (now out-of-date) blog entry I wrote back in 2007 to convince people not to buy iPhones.


Points (3) and (5) in my blog entry no longer apply, but the rest of the entry is still valid.

I find it amusing that my little rant is being used by Verizon as a sales tool. I should edit the article and put in subtle potshots against Verizon. If he's just blindly printing the page and handing it to folks, he may not notice right away! ;)

Dusty Nostalgia

Ahh, the good ol' days... (not)

10 Gigabit Ethernet

Holy crap. They have 10 gigabit ethernet cards now.


Not only are they 10 gigabit, but they use regular copper twisted pair wiring. You can run 10 gigabit ethernet up to 45 meters on plain ordinary CAT5e cabling, and up to 100m on CAT6.

The cards are about a grand a pop, but it'll surely go down. And this is the first time I see a network card with a *fan* on it! I'm not too surprised; the DSP trickery that must be needed to put 10 Gb ethernet on regular UTP must be mind-blowing.

I'm wondering how long we start needing these, though. Only trunks between switches have saturated gigabit ethernet links, in my experience. It'll probably be a few years before servers can make the most of having 10 gigabit links.

It's all about the wood.

Today's xkcd:

The entry "Wood" in Wikipedia:


rsync is better than sex! Well, almost.

I just wanted to extol the virtues of rsync. This little application has saved my ass (or kept it from hurting) more than any other UNIX utility ever has.

rsync is simple. It lets you copy a tree of files from one place to another. It does so by only copying what is different between the two locations, though, so it can be remarkably efficient.

Moving three terabytes of data from one machine to another? Don't use cp, or a tar through a pipe. If either of these are interrupted you have to start all over! Just use rsync. If it fails? Shrug, roll your eyes and restart the process. It'll resume near where it left off and finish in no time.

Have to move a user home directory from one machine to another? Use rsync. When it's done, use rsync again to copy anything that has changed. Once nothing has changed, rename the old location and create a symlink in its place. Window of opportunity for error reduced to almost nil.

Backing up your server at home to offsite? Just rsync it. It'll only copy what has changed, even within individual files. That 400MB log file that has 20K appended to it doesn't have to be resent in its entirety; rsync will compare the first 400MB on both ends, sending checksums to make sure they're identical, then send the 20K at the end. Your 512kbps DSL connection will sigh in relief.

This utility is awesome. If you are a UNIX user, familiarize yourself with it. And all of you Mac OS X users have it too; it comes with every release since Panther. Just be sure to use the -E option when rsyncing between Macs; that tells it to preserve HFSplus extended attributes.

Have fun!

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