Cron Etiquette?

Thanks to HYCW, I now have a nice way of doing delayed-posting to my blog (at least, until I decide what to use when I ditch Movable Type).

One of the steps in setting up trickle is adding a cron job to run it hourly. As I was doing this, it occurred to me that cron can put a heavy burden on a shared server.

You see, cron does its check for things to do at the beginning of every minute, and it runs everything that needs to start at the same time. People tend to schedule many tasks at the top of the hour, so it seems that you could really bog down a server by running your job during those times.

I don’t manage servers on a full-time basis, so I may be overestimating the impact. I’d like to hear what others think about this, especially if you work at an ISP that handles this sort of thing on a regular basis.

In the meantime, it seems like a good thing for everybody to run your cron jobs at an odd time. For me, trickle runs at :56 after the hour :).

I’ve Voted…

…Have you?

If you haven’t, you really should. It’s free. It’s a right thousands of Americans have died for over hundreds of years. It’s basically your only method of controlling your government. It gives you the right to complain when your representatives mess up or ignore what you want. It makes a difference. It takes only a couple of minutes. You can request an absentee ballot and vote in the comfort of your own home.

It doesn’t matter who you vote for, and this blogger is just as frustrated by the lack of decent choices as you. Just do it. There’s still time to register for the General Election on November 2nd.

Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.

Firefox 1.0 PR is Here

It’s been a long journey, but Firefox 1.0 is right around the corner. The 1.0 Preview Release was pushed on September 14th. As of press time, 502,659 copies of the browser have been downloaded by the public since then – a spectacular number to be sure, but still far below the estimated 94.16% Internet Explorer browser market share as of the middle of July.

I’m posting this in Firefox, and while it’s very similar to version 0.9.3 for the most part, there are some notable differences, most mentioned in the Release Notes:

  • Live bookmarks – Sites that advertise RSS feeds (like Waileia) can be added as a folder of bookmarks, which will update automatically. It’s a neat idea (similar to Safari’s upcoming implementation), but since I don’t use bookmarks generally, I don’t think it’ll be of much help.
  • Find Toolbar – Mozilla’s Find as You Type feature is simply extraordinary – it’s one of those simple things somebody just stumbles upon, and makes life dramatically easier. I’m not happy about the new Find bar that comes up, however. I haven’t actually done any objective analysis, but it feels slower than it was when the text showed up in the Status Bar. Hopefully they’ll clean it up soon.
  • SSL Highlighting – This is probably 1.0 PR’s best new feature. The address bar turns gold when you’re viewing a secure site, and the status bar plainly displays the host you’re talking to. A quick mouseover of the padlock icons tells you which CA signed the certificate. Browser users have always asked what the best way to implement SSL notification is, and I think the Firefox team has the right approach.
  • Popup Blocker Enhancements – It’s nice that you can now manually open blocked popups, but I don’t know how I feel about the new user interface, which looks like a direct rip from Microsoft’s enhancements in Internet Explorer released in Service Pack 2. It doesn’t feel ethical to me.
  • The theme – “Winstripe” hasn’t gotten any better since the Mozilla team blatently ignored the public’s demands and ripped Qute out of the default distribution. Luckily, Arvid is still maintaining the best Firefox theme ever as an add-on. It’s a pity I have to go through the motions of installing it every time I upgrade.

Despite my misgivings about some of the changes, I can still wholeheartedly recommend Firefox over any other browser with any market share today. You should go get it now. No, really.

In Memorial

9/11 Memorial at Honolulu Hale

Let this eternal flame unite our country in memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and honor the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to save others. The love and spirit of our grateful nation, and the hearts and prayers of our people will always be with them. – September 11th memorial at Honolulu Hale

Three years ago from this moment, four planes were crashed by terrorists. The resulting world unity, instant and sustained, was unprecedented in the history of humanity, and may never be seen again.

Even on a day where so much went wrong, God was very much at work to bring life from the ashes.

Restore our fortunes, LORD,
   as streams renew the desert.

Those who plant in tears
   will harvest with shouts of joy.

They weep as they go to plant their seed,
   but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT)

And Ivan Makes Three

Hurricane Ivan
Hurricane Ivan was the third hurricane to make landfall in the Atlantic in a span of weeks. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

I’m terribly saddened to hear of the damage caused by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan over the past few weeks. Hawai’i receives its fair share of damage from hurricanes – in 1992, Hurricane Iniki left two dead and over 11,000 homes damaged or totally destroyed.

I still remember so much of the few hours the wind was howling outside. My most vivid memory is of veteran KHON reporter Ray Lovell declaring, “Hurricane Iniki is heading straight for O’ahu.” It was not a particularly high note in my life.

As unpleasant as that was, I can’t imagine how terrible it must be to have not one, but three storms attack your community at almost the same time.

Please remember the people of Florida in your prayers, and give generously if you’re able.