Sirius Stuff

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Namebench for the win! Bad DNS makes my mac slow

April 29, 2011 at 04:00 PM | categories: Web, Mac | View Comments
Really bad performance on my MacBook has been driving me up the wall the past few days. Closing all un-needed programs didn't help. I ran several Mac utilities on my system, rebooted and so on and so forth.

Still no good.

There's 8GB of RAM in my (latest model - fall 2010) white MacBook and that really sped things up when it replaced the stock 2GB. It was very frustrating.

Activity Monitor (in your Application/Utilities folder) didn't reveal anything interesting. Everything seemed slow, from opening a file with vi to browsing to a web page.

Searching for "slow mac" brought up references to pages loading slowly. And that reminded me of namebench, a program that tests the fastest DNS servers for you.

Picking the fastest DNS servers isn't as simple as using OpenDNS or Google's public DNS because some sites like Netflix return different answers depending on where you are and what internet provider you're using. What's right for OpenDNS may be much slower for you.

After running namebench, it detected that 75.75.75.75, the DNS provided by Comcast, my ISP, was not working. Using the advice from namebench I put 3 different DNS providers into the router, including two other Comcast addresses and a Google Public DNS.

Today, it's like I have a new machine it's so fast. Opening files is faster, browsing web pages is much faster, etc., etc.

Because of things like Dropbox or other background processes running, it seems like those slowed everything down, even something like vi on a local file.

So if your machine seems inexplicably slow, try using namebench and follow its advice.


What's not perfect with Blogofile

April 28, 2011 at 03:00 PM | categories: Web, User Interface, Blogging | View Comments
In Switched from WordPress to Blogofile there are two good things about using Blogofile:
  • flat files are almost impossible to hack
  • Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage System) can scale incredibly high


There's some downsides:
  • blogofile build seems to copy or regenerate every single file
  • it's not totally happy being on S3 - it doesn't make index.html files for the archive and category directories.
  • there's no easy way to post-via-email or send a link to start a post


Right now I'm writing this with vi and that's far less comfortable than WordPress's editor which I really liked. But I'm sure I'll find TextWrangler or something as suitable for writing blog posts.

Switched from WordPress to Blogofile

April 28, 2011 at 01:24 PM | categories: Web, User Interface | View Comments
I really like WordPress for the huge number of themes and utilities that it has. What I don't like, though, is the need for constant vigilance to make sure that your blog hasn't been hacked. When I started the conversion, I found two blog posts that had been secretly altered so that they had links to spam sites. I wasn't sure whether to be grateful that only two had been altered or disappointed that my blog mattered so little that that's all they did.

So it's with some relief that I've switched to Blogofile, a python program that generates flat files that can be hosted on Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage System). This has the advantage of being almost impossible to hack. It also can scale even if this blog was featured on the front pages of Digg and Reddit and Daring Fireball and Slashdot and ...

Not that that's likely to happen little ol' me but it's comforting to think that everyone in the world could read my incredible prose.

Right now I'm writing this with vi and that's far less comfortable than WordPress's editor which I really liked. But I'm sure I'll find TextWrangler or something as suitable for writing blog posts.

Twitter phishers are after your password

October 29, 2009 at 10:10 AM | categories: Web, User Interface, Twitter | View Comments

I was burned by this one! Graham Cluley writes a nice article on his blog called Twitter phishers are after your password

What was really appalling to me was getting burned by this screen:
Fake twitter login screen
Twitter, like Facebook, lets you use other sites by handling authorization. I’d been having serious problems with Twitter not accepting my password (as were thousands of others, apparently) and it just got fixed last week. So even though I was logged in and active on twitter.com, I wasn’t surprised to be prompted to login. And I didn’t look closely enough at the URL.

Of course I wasn’t surprised to see this:
Fail whale - you've seen this
Takeaways? Twitter has becoming more and more reliable. They are fixing bugs. And we all need to watch where we’re going - sometimes we think we’re someplace we’re not.

images courtesy of Sophos I copied them so they won’t take their bandwidth or disappear if they change their links.


Smart Google Reader Subscribe Button

December 17, 2008 at 12:12 PM | categories: Web | View Comments

If you’re like most people, you’ve got more feeds in your news reader than you can keep up with. What’s neat about this script is that it not only makes it easy to subscribe but also shows you if it’s already in your subscription list. If it is, it’s shown with a checkmark over the RSS icon.

My only objection is that it’s not posted to UserScripts, a central repository for Greasemonkey scripts.

Smart Google Reader Subscribe Button is highly recommended.