The odd bit

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

The odd bit - Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

MOSS 2007: laugh or cry?

When Microsoft released Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007, it was touted as The Next Big Thing™ for enterprises. And that’s where the good news ends…

This piece of software has so many issues I don’t even know where to start. My first encounter with it was when I had to evaluate the web content management features of the product. That evaluation period lasted about a week, but was stretched to a month just for the sake of it. When coming from something like eZ Publish, it felt like I had done some time travelling all the way back to the Stone Age [1].

A remarkable feat that Microsoft managed to pull was to release an anti-developer product. My career is still pretty short, but it was the first time that I encountered a piece of software that was set on making a developer’s life as hard as possible.

After the dust had settled and a couple of holidays had joined other historical facts, it was time for the second encounter. The idea was to give the collaboration features of MOSS 2007 a test run. So my colleagues and I clicked around when we suddenly noticed the “My site” link. A harmless link [2] to a personal site… until we (= 3 persons at that time) managed to click at the same time: one arrived at the personal site, one got an error but managed to proceed and the other one got an error and another one when trying to proceed. Guess which one was me… I was told it was caused by the speed of the network connection. Makes sense? Not to me.

The security settings regularly start leading their own life causing all sites to go down, file uploads went wrong and blocked all edit actions on document lists, etc. These are just a couple of things, but I could go on for quite a while. It’s at a point where I don’t know whether to laugh when it goes wrong or to cry with the fact Microsoft managed to produce such a nightmare.

[1]: I know there were no computers back then, but let’s forget that little detail so I can make my point 😉

[2]: Or so it seemed…

Ubuntu? No thanks

It’s probably the most popular Linux distribution for home use now, but Ubuntu just isn’t my cup of tea.

I’m sure it’s pretty nice if you only need desktop features, but it just doesn’t feel right when you want to use it as a server. I usually need a couple of server programs on each operating system I install: at least a web and database server with some PHP glue. Ubuntu aims to make your desktop life in Linux simpler and it does that pretty well. But all those “features” have an adverse effect on the server role.

One of my major annoyances is that you can’t be root. That’s a security feature to prevent people from messing up, but it also prevents easy server administration. You can run things as root by using the sudo command, but it’s not quite the same. You always have to add it in front of the actual command and you also need to provide a password every 5 minutes or so.

A second annoyance is that you’re pretty much in the dark when you’re trying to do more advanced stuff in Ubuntu (read: when there isn’t a GUI for what you want to do). The location of configuration files is a bit weird if you’re coming from a non-Debian distribution so at least some hinting would be nice.

A third annoyance is the crappy “service” configuration GUI, or in other words: which program starts when at startup? The GUI only allows (un)ticking a box and that’s it.

And last but not least, the software versions that are available can’t follow my requirements. Debian stable has e.g. PHP 5.2.0 with some fixes backported from newer PHP 5.2.x releases. New small features of a point release are not backported and version numbers aren’t bumped either. This will cause version checks to fail.

When you go past the GUI, you’re left alone and sudo adds a couple of jumps to make your life a bit harder. Debian, Ubuntu’s big brother, scores better in the server department: you can be root and there’s documented runlevel changes, but it still isn’t ideal.

For some odd reason, I’m far more comfortable running Gentoo. The only disadvantage is that you need to compile practically everything, but that in turn also results in the fastest Linux I’ve ever used because everything is compiled for your machine. But I guess it’s each to his own.

Recommend me a 24 inch monitor

I’m looking for a 24″ monitor, but I just can’t find the one. I’ve been reading tons of reviews during the past few days and that has made things even more complicated.

On one side there are the TN panels. While I’ve been very happy with my current monitor (Iiyama AS4314UT) I can’t get rid of the impression that recent TN panels have a lower quality. The monitors at work seem to confirm that suspicion. The 24″ TN panels currently do not have response time correction (RTC) as can be seen from the specified 5ms response time. The result is that the 5ms as specified by the manufacturer is the most optimistic scenario (black-white-black). Gray-to-gray response times are pathetic.

On the other hand there are the *VA panels. While they should be superior to TNs in terms of image quality, they also have disadvantages. They do have hardware RTC but that hardware can also produce errors (read: it guessed wrong and a pixel gets the wrong colour). Depending on how severe the miss is, you will either see it or not. I haven’t found any monitor yet where you won’t see some errors. The biggest downside of these monitors is the price: they are effing expensive.

There are also S-IPS panels, but their price jumps off the scale.

I’m starting to think it’s still too early for a 24″ screen and that the market is still in the starting blocks. On the other hand I’d like to be proven wrong because I love the space on 1920×1200 screens. So if you have any idea, please leave it in the comments.

PS: Keep in mind that I’m in Belgium so we don’t have the abundance that e.g. Germany has. Example: I’ve heard of Iolair monitors, but I still have to come across a shop that actually sells them.