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Name: Gary Lawrence Murphy
Member since: 2001-03-16 15:31:42
Last Login: 2008-06-02 17:23:04

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Ok, you've found my geek side. I'll confess everything except the missing furniture. That was Kevin.

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Since we're all professionals around here, it's only fair that I tell you a bit about who I am and why I'm here. I'm not great with bio pages, I tend to ramble on and on, giving way too much detail about all the wrong things ("Don't ask Gary! He'll tell you!"), endlessly annotating even the most trivial though seemingly important event until I have bored everyone into wandering off to go read some really important, witty and relevent web page. This page is no exception.

everything there is to know about garym

My background could be in human factors and cognitive science, and I might have been a ruthlessly small business nanocorp consultant. I do know our company is incorporated in Ontario as TeleDynamics Communications Inc and we've been continuously in the business of making microcomputers do things since about 1983, starting from humble beginnings coding Osborne and Molecular (CP/M) bond trading programs off a desk in the master bedroom (who am I kidding, the only bedroom), which later moved up to collaborations with composers John Cage and Udo Kasemets to do cool things with hand wire-wrapped PC boards and audience-directed performance art installations. Somewhere along the way I was teamed up with an Expos fan and we wrote a briefly popular baseball sim for the PCjr, and on the collapse of that, I left my entrepreneurial guns on the wall and followed with the requisite tour of duty in OOP R&D dungeons at pre-Zambonini Cognos, coding ISDN channel switchers at Mitel. It was instructive, but in retrospect a bad move personally and professionally.

back at the bits

Regaining my senses after the (now ex)wife kicked me out, I moved back into research and exploring shared virtual workspace, telerobotics, telepresence and augmented reality for Paul Milgram. In 1994, was invited to tech-lead the world's first interactive Internet museum exhibit for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and in the process built the first public website for the Ministry and also became insinuated in the early web plans of the Royal Ontario Musuem and Art Gallery of Ontario. Just so you know, I'm the dolt who wrote "There are no billboards on the Information Highway" on all the Toronto streetcars and busses ...bzzzzzt

With the rise of the modern commercial Internet, I was invited to become the internet applications and open source consultant to Bell Canada's Worldlinx, then to Bell Global Solutions (Bell discovered Worldlinx was profitable, so they bought it all back) and finally with the Advanced Communications Services, consulting to the Ford AutoLinx, OMAFRA and the original Sympatico projects. I also worked on web news services for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

we can only be human together

I'm a big believer in giving back through the orgs. I was a charter member of TLUG and the Toronto VR group at the McLuhan program, been involved in the Canadian Linux Users Exchange, had a brief flirtation with the Bynari Global Alliance tech-support network, did many hours exhibit floortime for the Linux Documentation Project and the Bruce County Linux Users Group, worked as an open source guide, tech reviewer and author talent scout for Pearson Publishing and have consulted to Industry Canada on Linux in education and edutainment business webs. More recently, I was elected to the steering Group of the ISOC Internet Societal Task Force just 3 days before ISOC voted to disband us, and last year I was invited to the advisory board of SohoDojo, warcollege of the small business revolution.

My own meagre publishing credits include the Oxford U Press "Handbook of Neural Computing" and contributions to numerous SAMS, QUE and Waite Group books on Linux and open source web servers. Mostly I prefer to do rather than write: It pays better, and if the code runs, you know you were right, but in print, it's anyone's guess. I've still been chastized for writing documentation: Sympatico's "chief architect" Osama once remarked, "That's the best documentation I've seen in my entire career... In my experience, people who write good docs do not write good code", his words exactly and in front of my peers, which I took as an insult, but took in stride; been called way worse by way better people, and besides, I'm still in this business; he's long vanished.

post-bubble hang-over remedies

These days, my main pre-occupations are with rural community wireless and new web services projects, playing alternative roots country music, and in living the good life in Sauble Beach with Nolan, Kaelin, Linton and May.

If you're not totally bored, then here's my advogato diary, a guaranteed cure for insomnia...

ecademe: profile / blogspace: TeledyN / bizspace:


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13 Mar 2005 (updated 13 Mar 2005 at 16:02 UTC) »

So like, there's this message on my machine, mild panic, can you call me back, s'real serious; it's early, it's sunday, but hey, what are friends for? I call him up.

"What do you know about spyware and viruses?" begins a long story of a desktop machine, Windows of course, left in a utility room, used by nearly everybody in the department but officially the property of maintenance, the co-op kid hits an alarm, You've got SPYWARE! -- the machine is dispatched at once to IT-Central

long pause

Central comes back, none-too-happy, having found oodles of questionable material in various folders, the sort they'd rather not find on machines with such visibility, and the axe gets poised over the official registrants of the network node.

"So, like, how could that stuff have got in there? When the co-op kid found it, we saw the download thing just whirring along, pause, whirring again over and over -- is this what that stuff does? Download porn over and over?"

Yes, it seems they have a website-filtre, how quaint, and then they also quite freely allow Hotmail accounts to click on any arbitrary attachments, so 2 and 2 together it's pretty easy to plot a dozen courses for how this machine arrived in the present state but ...

if you ask me, and you did, I don't know much about what's what and who does which in the virus spystuffs or what's possible or practical in the post-mortem sleuthing of the Compromised DOS Machine, but if you ask me, there is no excuse for avoidable situations: the real idiot they should fry is the dunce who chose to loose an insecure O/S into an accessible unsupervised location with open full-priviledge access to 'untrusted' websites ...

but I don't suppose that's the 'expert advice' they want to hear.

13 Mar 2005 (updated 13 Mar 2005 at 15:59 UTC) »

Going back a few years, I remember the review in either Byte or more probably Dr. Dobbs talking about the new Intel 486 as providing developers with blazing speed that would result in "a killer re-inforcement schedule" -- following on my last post, while waiting for the 14MB of the db4 rpm to trickle out of (I eventually had to use Prozilla to get a robust connection) I had bandwidth to spare to explore this whole Apt/Yum thing

Another anecdote, I was at one of the very early meetings of the Toronto Linux User's Group, back when Yaggi hosted them upstairs in the North York Library, and the conversation rolled around to ponding topics for future meetings. "What bugs you most about Linux?" was thrown into the ring, and I said, "I hate how, when configuring your kernel, you realize by the current question that you'd answered some previous question wrong and the only way out is to Ctrl-C and start all over again!" -- and I looked around at a room full of oddly confused faces.

Why don't you just use make menuconfig?

Dammit Janet, who has time to re-read the READMEs on every single release?

Anyway, for those snoozers like me who got stoned and missed it, the magic answer to the RedHat semi-automagic update without having to subscribe to anything is not up2date (which needs new certs if you want to use it on RH9 now) but all fully described by DAG with intallable RPM packages going back to RedHat 6.2.

Aye and it's one of those days ... started last night, late, I was washing up the dishes when I realized that a pretty expensive and elaborate system at work could be replaced, in a few hours, with a simple and elegant chain of free software. I ripped through the last of the pots so I could get back to my desk; this was just too good to be true.

Along the way I refined the idea, worked through how it could scale way beyond the existing system, ran through the sequence of installations in my head, and yes, still, only maybe a morning's work, something I could slip in and deliver to the boss by total surprise, which I would have to do because it's not likely anyone would authorize this little diversion or really understand the advance it makes until they had it in their hands ...

Back at my desk, past midnight by now. The idea had been triggered by a new Sourceforge project release that came across the Freshmeat RSS, so that was my first stop. And then reality steps in:

  1. Minimum requirements: Python 2.3 -- all our machines are RedHat 9.0 and right there I knew I was in for a long haul because Python is pretty deeply embedded in the RH utilities, and there's no way anyone will sign for a fleet upgrade, but I figure, just one machine to illustrate the point and think to myself, how hard can it be to just trash the RH-config utils and upgrade only Python? Next stop,
  2. Python 2.4 just released -- like, literally hours ago, but unfortunately there are no packages for RH9 yet, so I'm stuck with the 2.3 release and that means there'll be another upgrade in my near future but at least they have them, 30 rpms for download, so I set lftp on the list and go to bed.
  3. server timeout! -- it seems, has pretty bare hardware support; several attempts to pull the rpms over FTP all fail due to timeouts, so I shift to doing it one RPM at a time over HTTP. It's now nearly noon and I still don't know what I'm up against trying to wrest RedHat of it's ancient Python

I hope this is all worth the both because the preparation to development has already taken longer than my worst-case estimate of the time to deliver the application, and I haven't even really started the real muck and mire of actually upgrading these third-party Python RPMS. There's been some side-roads too since I spent some time trying to find out if RedHat had any equivalent to urpmi, of which Apt and Yum were mentioned at the DAG site, but with no further easy pathways to discover more about them and this was already taking way too long (leave that for another day -- anyone care to recommend one over the other?).

So that's the day so far, killer-app idea on a back burner while I haul the hardware out of it's Rip Van Winkle lapse in upgradings, and people wonder just why it is that software developers almost never meet their initial timeline estimates.

Why Events Are A Bad Idea

This is interesting, via Graham Burnett, Why Events Are A Bad Idea (for high concurrency servers):

Event-based programming has been highly touted in recent years as the best way to write highly concurrent applications.
Having worked on several of these systems, we now believe this approach to be a mistake. Specifically, we believe that threads can achieve all of the strengths of events, including support for high concurrency, low overhead, and a simple concurrency model. Moreover, we argue that threads allow a simpler and more natural programming style.

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