Category Archives: Gnus

News stuff.

Pepper Pad in the Globe Again

20040206-031-PepperPad_Group-DWC100_02We’re in the news again! As a followup to his previous article, Scott Kirsner featured the Pepper Pad in his @Large column in today’s Boston Globe. The article confirms the availability of the Pepper Pad later this year for between $600 and $700 with a price break once we go into high-volume production.

I can’t possibly express how excited I am to see this device coming to market. Not only do we have an absolutely amazing development and design team backing us, but everyone in the company has been given the opportunity to make suggestions for bells and whistles, and give their input on both the industrial design and the mechanical design.

So the Pepper Pad is being built for everyone from geeks like me to the parents of the founders of the company! Talk about the ultimate utilitarian appliance!

Update (12:55 PM): With today being the start of the DNC, our Boston Globe coverage couldn’t have been better timed! I’m sure hardcopy edition readership will be up today, and our Web server has already reported a noticeable increase in traffic.

Pepper Keeper rated 5 out of 5!

cnet_rating-5Download.com has given Pepper Keeper Sampler 1.2.2 a 5 out of 5 rating! This is a major milestone for us because it validates that we’re on the right track on the software side, and shows that consumers really do want a simplified computing platform. Although the Pepper Keeper is an amazing piece of software all by itself, I can’t wait for its hardware compantion, the Pepper Pad 2 , to hit store shelves! I’ll finally have an affordable simplified computing device to check e-mail and scan Web forums without having to flip open my Powerbook.

Pepper Pad mentioned in the Boston Globe…

20040514-018-pepperpad2_model-d-05-dwc190Scott Kirsner briefly mentioned the Pepper Pad in a Boston Globe article entitled In tech world, 2004 seems a lot like 1997. Although it was just mentioned in passing, any press is good press.

1997: WebTV introduces WebTV plus, which connects a small, set-top box to a television and phone line, allowing users to surf the Web and send e-mail without dealing with the complexities of a PC.

2004: After a string of failed products for technophobes (remember 3Com’s Audrey, or the I-Opener?), Lexington’s Pepper Computer is trying to launch the Pepper Pad, a lightweight, easy-to-use, WiFi-enabled device that would be distributed (and subsidized) by broadband providers like Comcast or Verizon.

My only beef is that the author makes it sound like Pepper had a string of failed products, which is not the case. Ohwell, maybe next time.

12:55pm up 452 days, 1:18, 4 users, load average: 0.22, 1.30, 0.94

Sometimes Linux scares me. 452 days of uptime on one of our primary production servers. She just sits there and chugs away processing hundreds of millions of SQL queries and constantly building and rebuilding our source tree looking for errors. Occasionally a process zombies out or the tape drive hiccups, but now it’s a personal vendetta to troubleshoot the system without a reboot. The system has been moved twice…while still attached to the UPS.

But someday that machine will get rebooted. Be it voluntarily or accidentally, a year and a half thick slate of progress will be wiped clean, a new kernel will load, and the infinite loop will start over.

How depressing.

Stop using Internet Explorer!

I’ve always said that Internet Explorer sucks and should be destroyed, but now it’s official. After last week’s latest security vunlerability, the Department of Homeland Security’s US Computer Emergency Readiness Team has recommended that users stop using Internet Explorer and switch to another browser with less security problems. Mozilla immediately felt the impact of the announcement as downloads of their free Firefox browser increased.

I wonder if Microsoft will finally get the hint…

Linux Process Accounting

When installing a fresh copy of Fedora, make sure to select the psacct and sysstat packages and run chkconfig psacct on to enable process accounting. Always a good thing to have snapshots of activity to show which processes and users are sucking up the most system time and bandwidth.

Process accounting was invaluable over the past few days while diagnosing problems with Tomcat4. One of our servers kept spiking up to a load average of well over 100, kernel panicing, and going unresponsive to pings. After various Web searches, we found that other people were experiencing similar problems with Tomcat4 where a server that had been operating normally for months (or years) suddenly started randomly crashing and burning.

After seeing recommendations to upgrade to Jetty or Tomcat5, we chose Tomcat5 for simplicity of configuration and that solved our problem. Hopefully, it won’t happen again.

Trading CPU for bandwidth?

Which is more important? Massive amounts of bandwidth or lots of CPU? In my case bandwidth definitely wins since I’m passing between 5 GB and 25 GB per day. My dedicated server is an Intel Celeron 2.0 GHz box with 512 MB RAM running Fedora Core 1. My personal Web server sitting on my SDSL line is an AMD Athlon XP 2400+ with equivalent memory and the same OS.

Although the Celeron is lightning quick when serving up static and light dynamic content, it’s extremely sluggish when rebuilding Movable Type pages. It’s perfectly adequate for a single Movable Type installation and a few authors, but I’d hate to see what would happen if I started hosting a lot of blogs for friends. Either way, the Athlon definitely blows away the Celeron, but I guess I’ll just have to live with the CPU downgrade.