Sunday, May 31, 2009

How To Save The World 33 Million Hours a Day

I was reading that Fedora 11 will have a 20 second boot time to login screen.

That made me curious how quickly the operating systems I'm using bootup, get on the network and shutdown.

I used a stopwatch to time Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty, Debian Lenny and Windows XP Professional.

Time from power on to login screen:

Ubuntu 24.9 seconds
Debian 37.7 seconds
Windows 75.5 seconds

Time from login screen to wireless network connection:

Ubuntu 22 seconds
Debian 14 seconds
Windows 82.7 seconds

Time from power off to shutdown:

Ubuntu 12.9 seconds
Debian 7.7 seconds
Windows 74 seconds

Total time to boot up, get on network and then shutdown are:

Windows 232.2 seconds (3.82 minutes)
Ubuntu 59.8 seconds (.99 minute)
Debian 59.4 seconds (.99 minute)

If we assume there are 1 billion PC users in the world running Windows and they each turn on their computers, get on a network and shutdown once a day - that's about 3 billion minutes per day. That means people are spending 50 million hours a day waiting for a PC to do something. If those 1 billion PC users switched to a faster operating system they could eliminate 2 minutes of waiting...that's 33 million hours a day.


Postscript - July 2009

I'm using the 2.6.30 Linux Kernel and Ext4 file system both of which shave off a few seconds from the time it takes to get boot and get on the web. Using my stopwatch it took this laptop 43.5 seconds from power-on to wireless web access. It's actually a little faster than that since I had to manually choose which kernel to boot and enter my user name and password.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Playing Around With Debian Lenny

I'm trying out the Lenny release of Debian today. It works - not exactly out of the box; wireless, sound, and video take some tweaking.

It runs fast and I can see why it would be appealing to someone who likes to work on, or play with computers to get them to work with a Linux distribution. It's like playing a game or doing a crossword puzzle - something to keep your mind active.

I've tried Knoppix, DSL, Ubuntu and Debian so far. They all have their good points. I think it's all a matter of what you like and what you intend to do with a computer. For me Ubuntu is a nice compromise between usability and customization. I was curious to see what Debian was like since Ubuntu, Knoppix, DSL and a variety of other Linux distributions are based on Debian.

I'd say Debian would probably not be a good choice for someone who doesn't have any computer hacking skills or at least a lot of patience. I'll probably be sticking with good old Ubuntu but Lenny will be around anytime I want to check out what's going on with the source of a lot of the goodness in Linux distributions.

I think I started this about 20 hours ago so I better be going to bed now...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Easy Laptop Upgrades

I installed a new Western Digital Scorpio Black 320GB hard drive in my laptop yesterday. This is a SATA 2.5 inch 7200 RPM hard drive that originally sold for $250 when it was introduced last year. It goes for around $70 now. This hard drive replaces the original Seagate 80GB 5200 RPM hard drive that came with this Dell E1405 laptop.

Installing a hard drive in this laptop is really easy. Remove two screws from the back, slide the old hard drive out, remove the hard drive caddy from the old hard drive by removing 4 screws (if your new hard drive didn't come with a caddy), install the new hard drive in the caddy, plug it into the laptop and tighten the 2 screws. You have to reinstall your operating system, programs and any files you want from your old hard drive of course.

I decided not to reinstall Windows and dual boot with Ubuntu which I had been doing. I'm using Ubuntu 9.04 and the ext4 file system.

I upgraded to 2GB of DDR2-667 RAM a few weeks ago. This is a little trickier since the laptop has two locations for the RAM chips. One under the laptop which is easy to access and one under the keyboard which is a little more difficult. Dell's manuals are online and if you follow the instructions it's no problem. I bought the RAM for $10 from a computer hobbyist who happened to have some spare memory. It replaces the original 1GB of DDR2-533 RAM.

For 80 bucks I quadrupled my hard drive space and doubled my RAM, my laptop runs faster and I can keep using it for awhile.

Friday, May 08, 2009 and the Taobao Field Guide

Taobao is China's Ebay. It's part of the Alibaba Group which includes "The world's largest online B2B marketplace."

Taobao and Alibaba are interesting to look at. In the case of all I can do is look since it's in Chinese. Non-Chinese language readers need to use Google Translator or something like the Taobao Field Guide to check out what's for sale.

You can find some sweet bo staffs for 50 renminbi or about 7 dollars U.S. (if you can figure out how to transfer money to China). You may want to check out the Bo Staffs how to select guide before buying your staff.

Otherwise it's fun to look at what people are buying and selling.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Insomnia - Not to Worry

It's almost 4 in the morning and I'm about ready to go to bed - again. I slept for a couple of hours early tonight. I've never been much for sleeping. Naps sure - but going to bed and staying in bed for extended periods just doesn't really work for me. There's always something more interesting to do.

Usually I go to sleep reading or with the TV or the radio on, because I want to get the last bit of being awake in before I drift off. Lately my awake time at night isn't as productive as it once was when I'd spend that time reading and writing, now I tend to spend time fiddling around and not really accomplishing anything...and then all of a sudden it's 4 in the morning. That goes in cycles though - sometimes I'm studying something or writing or working.

There's something really appealing to me about the early morning hours, whether I'm in the outdoors, in a city or just sitting by myself - maybe the Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks touches on that early morning vibe. Some people think that painting is gloomy - I think it looks interesting; I'd like to be sitting there drinking a cup of coffee - with my laptop and a good wifi signal of course.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Use Your iPhone to Accept Credit Card Payments

Innerfence has an app that allows you to use your iPhone to process credit or debit card payments. At first glance I thought it sounded like an application for drug dealers and hookers but I've read it's intended for people selling things at farmers markets, craft/art fairs and other street vendors. The app is 50 bucks and there are setup, monthly and transaction fees so you'd need some profit margin and volume to make it worthwhile.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

I remember watching the news briefing where Donald Rumsfeld made this statement and thinking, what the heck did he just say?

The Unknown

"As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know."

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

From Slate Magazine, "The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld" - by Hart Seely