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Archive for December, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Sending Ecards was pretty boring until I found JibJab. JibJab allows you to create little animations with your and your friends heads in it. It’s really fun, see for yourself:

Music over Bluetooth

image If there is something I don’t like about wireless technology, it’s Bluetooth. It never worked the way I wanted. Some say it’s a matter of the stack (Bluetooth software) and some say you need to buy the best dongles. I used BlueSoleil, then Widcomm and now Toshiba, started off with Bluetooth 1.2 with a cheap € 2 dongle from eBay, then the Logitech diNovo Bluetooth 2.0 EDR dongle from my € 200 keyboard/mice set and now the internal Bluetooth 2.0 EDR chip from Toshiba in my Portege R400. Did it work well with any of these combinations? Not really…
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Artido coupon from McDonalds

Every year, we have a raffle in Germany from McDonalds called Monopoly. You can win several things there, but most coupons are pretty useless, just like the one from Artido. The coupon lets you buy something and get € 20 off the price, but everything there costs at least € 33.90. Wait, execpt for the photo-hankerchief (€ 19.95), which is sold out… At least it says that on the website. But is it really? Well, having the link for ordering the photo-handkerchief and the useless Artido coupon, I simply ordered one. They guarantee to deliver before christmas if ordered before 13. December. So can they if I order this “sold out” article?
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The Vista Battle

I have been using Microsoft programs for a long time now and I have seen a lot of BSDs (Blue Screen of Death), but they usually occur when some application or hardware crashes or when you changed something in your system. 2 days ago, I experienced a somewhat unexpected BSD.

Like every night, I closed my notebook and let it go into stand-by mode. But in the morning, when I opened my notebook to check my Emails, I saw a BSD. "BUG_CODE_USB_DRIVER", it says. That’s weird… I started my system again and got a different BSD saying nothing else than "your system crashed, stupid" and rebooted after making a memory dump. Now Vista seemed to have realized that it’s not working like it should and went into repair mode. That’s nice, I thought, but after the repair mode, I still got the BSD. After the next reboot, Vista went into repair mode again… After about 3 hours, it ended with a message like "Can’t repair you system", quit and left me with the BSD. What now? I tried the safe mode, no luck. The same BSD laughing at me, preventing me from working on my notebook.

After some more hours of battling with the Vista BSD, I used the ultimate Anti-Microsoft weapon and reinstalled everything. I guess in Microsoft’s world, not even the old law "Never touch a running system!" works anymore…

hosting toy – Keyweb VRS Start

I used to share a root server with some friends of mine. This allowed us to use a high performance server at a relatively low cost. I use to pay a share of € 40 a month, which is quite a lot. So we decided to move to several small virtualized servers. With VDSL 50, it was possible to host stuff at home, so I wanted move some stuff to my home server and save some money.

Because I don’t want to be limited by some provider’s stupid limitations, I searched for a virtualized server. To avoid any unnecessary costs, I wanted a traffic flat rate too. My personal limit was € 20, if the server was performing nicely according to my expectations. I stumbled upon Keyweb, a hosting company with a really outdated, but still serious enough looking design. They offer two kinds of virtual servers, one kind is called “VRS” and the other “rootDS”. So what’s the difference between these two? Well, a rootDS has a guaranteed CPU speed whereas the VRS don’t. Because the rootDS prices start at € 25, I decided to get a VRS, so I ordered “VRS Start” for € 13 a month. Included in this price is a 10 Domain Plesk license, 256 MB guaranteed RAM and 2 IPs. Perfect, I thought, everything I wanted.

I ordered it one week ago and got it this Friday, that’s 3 days more than their promised delivery time. On top of that, I needed to call them several times. Just to clear things up, after my first call, the server was delivered within 2 days, but my order wasn’t processed at all before. Anyway, after getting the server, I found it running with Plesk 8.01, the worst possible version of Plesk. So I tried to update it, but it somehow crashed and Plesk wouldn’t start anymore. I didn’t know why, so I used the “Reinstall VRS” feature of Virtuozzo. It was a bad idea as it turned out to be messing things up even more. First it didn’t delete everything and then the fresh installation wasn’t working at all. Opening an Emergency Support Ticket solved my problem within 2 hours on Saturday 1:00 am.

So after I got the server running, I started migrating my websites with Plesk, but it always failed because Plesk went out of memory while decompressing the files. How can that be? I only got Apache running and that’s not taking 256 MB RAM away. A closer look with “top” showed me that the system has 2 GB of RAM, but Virtuozzo shuts the system down whenever the RAM usage goes above 384 MB, which is pretty stupid. The system and other processes takes out way too much RAM because it thinks there is still enough available. A lot on the QoS Alerts in Virtuozzo shows the idle system between yellow and green zone. Doing anything small causes the system to jump into the red zone. Uncompressing files will take you straight to the black zone, making Virtuozzo cancel any new memory request from the any process. This again causes processes to crash or freeze, where freezing will leave your system in the black zone, killing your own server just like a DoS-attack.

So in the end, the “VRS Start” virtual server can’t really be used at all, but Keyweb offers bigger virtual server for € 20 a month, called “VRS Premium”. I have immediately upgraded because I don’t want my server dying from a few web site requests. Upgrade was done 10 minutes after I ordered it. All in all the VRS seems to be pretty fast and stable from Keyweb and I hope I won’t have any more problems with it.

my first car

When you live in Berlin, a car isn’t really nessecary. You can get anywhere with public transportation. But in the winter or at night, a car is much more comfortable. That’s why my girlfriend and me bought a car together.

lupo

After testing a few cars, we decided to get a Volkswagen Lupo. It’s a pretty small car which can hold up to 4 people without getting too uncomfortable. Insurrance and tax are both cheap, so is the gas usage. I need around 7l / 100km in the winter for driving in the city, which is 1l more than in the summer. On the high way, usage goes down 1l. We got it for € 2300 a month ago, that’s why I haven’t been posting here. Having a car is really nice, except when you need to look for parking spaces…