Website v4

The site you are reading now is my 3rd personal web site. You might think that it is not that great, but you have to keep in mind that I created it in less than an hour. When I was making it, I was busy with my move to Lleida, and didn’t have a lot of time to hack code. In fact, my intention never was to keep it this long, it should already have been replaced with something better!!! In my mind I am already designing V4, but it might take half a year more before you will be able to see it (first I have to finish our working room, so I can put a decent computer to work with).

One of the things I want to implement in V4 is a history of my sites, in other words, I will copy V3 as it is now (with only removing some interactive options), add V2 (I still have it on disk) and recreate V1 from my memories. The nice thing of the four sites together is that they show the development of personal web sites through the years:

  • V1: I created my first site in 1993 when I was still studying. Internet was new and after playing with gopher I installed Mosaic on my Macintosh and made my first page. In fact it was nothing more that a bulleted list with my favourite sites.
  • V2: In 1997 I bought myself a new computer with modem. With my internet connection came some space on the server for my personal homepage. I installed FrontPage (like everybody in that time), chose a nice theme and typed in my texts. Later I linked my CD database to this site, gaining a lot of links from music lovers.
  • V3: The site you are reading now, created in 2001. In the meantime I had learned that FrontPage creates bloated, non-standard pages, so I created this site as a pure site. Written completely on Notepad. I installed two perl scripts (NewsPro and Image Gallery) to handle the dynamical content, and that’s it!
  • V4: As my sites always have been used mainly for testing purposes, I will go one step further. V4 will be hosted on my own server, and I will probably use the Zope Application Server, with Plone on top of it. Besides my old sites, I will probably continue to write short stories about my life (even though I know that I am not the greatest writer), but I will probably split them into personal and technical stories. The comments feature is almost never used, so I will replace it by a conventional guestbook. I have a lot of other ideas, but I won’t bother you with it now…

Besides my personal sites, I have been working on three more sites. After V2 was up and running, I created (also with FrontPage) Youth Games, a collection of games in Dutch and English. The site was a big success, but I didn’t have the time to maintain it. Another FrontPage site was the DDC (Dooie Donders Club) site. In fact is was the same site as V2, but with another theme. I hope that after I have created V4 I will have time to make another DDC site, but for this I need some help from my brothers. The site I currently spent the most time on is Fimcap, but I’m sure you all have visited this site already…

Update 2003.06.11: In the mean time I have updated this site and imported all news items. Although in this message was written that you are looking at V3, in fact I would consider this V3.5 or even V4.

Bob de Builder has left the building

After five days of hard work, my father has gone home again.

The result of all this hard work? Four painted doors!!! I know, it doesn’t sound like it was a lot of work, but trust me, he did a lot! I have been wrestling with those doors myself before, and I can tell you that it takes a lot of time. The biggest problem is removing the old paint. The doors have been painted at least three times before, with three different types of paint. The oldest layer turns into some sticky mess as soon as you try to remove it, and turns into stone on your tools. Besides that, the fine structure carved into the doors don’t make it easier to clean them…

Because of the hard work, my father did not have a lot of time for social contacts, which is a big crime in this country! Therefor all social activities were propped into Saturday.

In the morning we had breakfast in the house of a friend of the parents on Maria José. Since this was a special occasion, they’d fired up the grill to prepare a big pile of meat (and that for breakfast!!!!)

After the breakfast we took a short walk through the yards and went home to prepare ourselves for lunch. After being home for only one our, we went to the house of the parent of Maria José, te eat soup, french fries and… a chicken!! I wasn’t really hungry when I went for lunch (understatement), but after lunch I felt just as stuffed as the chicken I had been eating. I was happy to sleep a little after lunch (my father of course continued working), knowing that in the evening we would go to a nice restaurant to eat some more…

Working

The work in our house is making big progress…

Yesterday my father arrived to fix the last important things, like removing the paint from the doors and painting them. When I came home for lunch today I was surprised: he almost finished the first door already! And he is staying until Sunday, can you imagine how happy we are!

Tomorrow will be a busy day in ‘Casa Sangers’, since Lilian and Ruud will visit us. They are having a short holiday in Barcelona this week, and will drop by for a day…

Computer tips

I spend quite some time behind the computer, at work as well as at home. Mostly I use the computer for only four things: read my e-mail, read some web pages, create web pages and write documents. Over years I have tried to make my life as easy as possible, and I would like to share here with you how I am doing. Although I use both Windows (98 & XP) as Linux, I will focus here on Windows.

Reading e-mail

Did you know that there are two protocols to read your e-mail? We have POP3 and IMAP.

Most people use POP3, but IMAP is far better. Why? First of all, because IMAP leaves messages on the server, so you can see all your e-mail from any location (I know, web-based mail can also do this, but has a lot of other inconveniences). You can also create folders on the server.

At home I am still using a 28k8 modem to connect to the internet. If I want to read an important mail, but somebody has sent me a big file just before it, I’ll have to wait for the big mail to enter first. Not with IMAP!!

With IMAP, first the headers of the messages are downloaded, and then I can decide which message I want to download to my computer. So I can skip the big message and read the important message first.

Like most people I am using Outlook Express for my e-mail. I know that I can install a better mail program, but why should I if OE comes preinstalled?

There are however some things that I really don’t like about OE, but fortunately they are easily fixed.

The biggest problem is quoting. When replying to a message, Outlook puts the cursor and my signature above the original message. If after a while I want to read the entire thread of the message, I’ll have to scroll down to the first message, read it, go up to the next message, read it, go up…

Anyway, it would be a lot easier if everybody would write their messages under the original message (and trim the message!!!!). I am using a very simple program that fixes this problem automagically: OE-QuoteFix. By the way, when reading a threaded message, it uses colour coding to show the different replies. Really handy!!!

Read web pages

Lets continue with Internet Explorer. I use it not because it is the best, but because I can’t deinstall it and don’t have disk space for a better browser (Mozilla). As somebody who designs web pages I can tell you how horrible IE is…

Even though it is a bad browser, it has some features that are unknown to many people.

For example, I really hate pop-up screens (I know, this site has them, but read on…). To disable them, I changed the security settings of IE so that JavaScript will be disabled (tools → internet options → security → internet → high). JavaScript is used by many web sites, but mostly for features that I am not interested in (pop-up screens, tracking of my behaviour, fancy menus, etc…). If I notice that a site really requires JavaScript, I simply add the site to my trusted sites. But until now that was only necessary for four sites.

Create web pages

I know that not many of you create web pages, so I’ll keep it short.

The greatest tool I have found is HTML-Kit. It is free and can do a lot more than its name says (HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS, XSL, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, PHP, JSP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Java, VB, C/C++, C#, Delphi / Pascal, Lisp, SQL, and more). But if I need to quickly change something, I usually use Notepad (see below).

Write documents

One tip: You don’t need Microsoft Word for everything!!!

Why not? Because the application is way too big (I only use 5% of the options), because Word files are way too big (ever received a Word document under 200k?) and more important: Word documents can only be read by Microsoft Word.

In other words, if I send somebody a Word document I force him to use a really expensive text editor!!

Most texts I simply write in Notepad, since most texts are short and don’t need any make-up. If I want my headers to appear in another font, I’ll switch to WordPad. Easy enough, isn’t it??

The holiday season is over

Today at lunchtime we have removed all the Christmas decoration from our house; the holiday season is definitely over.

As this was our first winter in our own house, we have bought the decoration little by little, some things even in Holland. But after the Three Kings (if you want to know how we celebrated it, read my story of last year) it was time to remove everything.

The result of this first year is a big box with decorations. The only thing we have to do is find a place for our tree. It is quite big (way too big for our little balcony or our patio) and at this moment it is blocking the entrance of the house. We will try to find a home for it next Saturday, and hope that it will survive until next year.

At least our living room looks a lot bigger now…

Happy New Year!!!

A new year has started, and it has started very well for me. This was the first time that we celebrated New Year in Lleida. We spend the last evening of the year with our family; eating, drinking, talking, watching television…

At midnight I participated in a typical (hilarious) custom: eat a grape on every bang of the clock, and thus ending up with twelve grapes in your mouth!!! Maria José was not able to finish her twelve grapes, because she was rolling on the floor laughing.

A little after midnight we went to visit a friend at home. She was supposed to go with us to the pub, but got ill that day (poor girl…). We had some more glases of cava, parked our car at home and went off to the Pentagrama. I always like to go to the ‘Penta’ because they play a lot of music from the eighties.

The next day we woke up incredably early, at twelve o’clock. We had a short breakfast and a quick shower and went off to the new year’s lunch. In the afternoon we were painting in our house. Since we are living there we haven’t worked a lot, so it still isn’t finished yet. This extra free day gave us the opportunity to work a little bit.

Warning

A warning for all people who want to see our house: do it fast!!!! We are already destroying our new house:

Yesterday at lunchtime I decided to check our e-mail. So I took my laptop and walked to my working room. Just when I walked into the hallway, the laptop slipped out of my hands and dropped on the floor. Immediately I looked down to see whether my laptop was damaged, but I noticed something worse: the laptop had hit the floor with its edge and had damaged our brand-new floor!!

MuLinux, Part 2

After the basic installation of MuLinux earlier this week, I have been looking around and expanding the system during the last days.

The whole thing is mature and really well though out, with lots of user-friendly scripts and help files.

The core of the system is the setup script. This script is used to create configurations, and to configure modules. In the configuration is specified which modules are loaded and with what parameters. It is loaded during boot, so that all modules are loaded correctly.

To save a configuration as default simply type setup -s. To load a configured module MOD use setup -r MOD and to force reconfiguration use setup -f MOD. Setup also can be used without parameters, to start the setup menu. This menu shows all available add-ons and modules and lets you configure them from one screen. Besides setup, there are a lot more scripts. Even well known UNIX command like grep are implemented as a script. I was really impressed!

After looking around and playing with all options, I decided that it was time to expand the possibilities of my system. So it took the WKS (workstation), SRV (server) and X11 (X window system) add-on floppies and installed them from the setup menu.

The WKS add-on gave me applications like mutt, ssh, pgp, tyhe SRV add-on gave me samba, smail, web-based system administration and PCMCIA support. X11 has the x-windows system with VGA-16, fvwm95, Afterstep and wm2.

At this moment I had an incredible amount of features, using only 4 diskettes. I played around a little bit again, and started configuring xf86 to have a graphical interface.

Usually this is the most difficult part to configure, since you need to know a lot of parameters from your system (OK, not in the modern Linux systems), but MuLinux was perfectly able to configure X using its probe feature. After 5 minutes I had a screen like this:

MuLinux fvwm95

Not bad, isn’t is? For next week, I’m planning to get Internet connection. First I want to put the PCMCIA modem from my Toshiba into the MuLinux machine (which is by then an IPC Porta-PC P5E-486/DSTN) and get it connected to Internet. Furthermore I want to try to connect it to another computer using a LapLink cable. And maybe, I’ll download some more add-ons (GCC TCL TEX PERL EMU JVM NS1 NS2).

I haven’t finished playing yet!

Christmas dinner

Yesterday morning I found the official invitation for the company christmas dinner on my desk, the dinner was going to take place the same day. Fortunately we already new about the dinner for one week…

After work, I first went to our office in Torrefarrera to receive the traditional christmas box, this year with a lot of alcohol and chocolate.

Then quickly home to change clothes. Since this was my first Christmas dinner, I didn’t know the dress code. I knew that a suit would be overdone, but to be sure I decided to take a tie with me and decide whether to wear it or not at the restaurant when I see how my colleagues are dressed.

The dinner was really good, but I could expect that from this restaurant (Petit Catalá). One thing I didn’t like was the distribution of the tables. They decided to keep all departments together, so I shared the table with the colleagues I work with every day, while I would have liked to talk more with the colleagues I don’t see so often.

At one o’clock we finished, but because we still had a lot to ‘discuss’, we went to Smiling Jack. Today I can see my colleagues having troubles keeping their eyes open…

Happy birthday

Tomorrow is the birthday of BasiqAir, the cheapest way to get from Barcelona to Amsterdam. To celebrate this, they have lowered their prices on December 17–19.

Of course I took the opportunity to book some flights, and checked if the advertised action really exist. So yesterday I checked the possibility to visit Holland during Christmas. The cheapest flight for two persons was €409. Today, the same flight only costs €169. Clickety click… booked!!!

Since these prices are valid until the end of March, I looked further and decided to book a flight for March 1–2. The same price! Clickety click… booked!!!

MuLinux, Part 1

One month ago we moved to our new house. Since then, things have settled down, but one thing still is missing: our working room still serves as a storage room, with my old computer packed into boxes.

Until that moment we both use my (even older) Toshiba Satellite Pro 400 CDT. This computer is not really fast, but in the mean time I have gotten used to it. It’s really comfortable working on the sofa, but to connect to internet I have to move to the floor of the hallway. For the moment we have this solution, but sometimes one computer just isn’t enough for two people.

That’s why I dug up my really old laptop, a 486 with 8 Mb memory and 525 Mb harddisk, but without CD player. I once installed Windows 98, but it wasn’t running perfectly. Besides this, I don’t have a licence for this machine, and don’t want to buy one. Therefore I decided to install GNU/Linux on it.

Taken the absence of the CD-player and the minimal hardware, I started looking for a floppy-based distribution. I once used the HAL91 distribution, but this only runs on a RAM disk, while I want to be able to install it onto my harddisk. Then I found MuLinux, a tiny single floppy based distribution with the ability to copy the installation to the harddisk, and with some add-on floppies to install additional features like the X-Windows system, Wine, TeX, … It looked promising, so I set to work.

While the disk images were downloading to my Toshiba laptop, I started the other laptop from a DOS bootdisk to format the harddisk. It had quite some bad sectors, but that shouldn’t be a big problem. In the mean time the download was finished. I extracted the DOSTOOLS to C:\mulinux and copied the images (BOOT, WKS, SRV en X11) to the same directory. Next, I runned unpack.bat, which opened the main archive mulinux-13r2.tgz. Then I fired up makefi.bat, which created an installation disk. Since muLinux distribution running from floppy, installation means preparing the floppies. After the installation disk was prepared, I rebooted my Toshiba, after which the installation process prepared the BOOT floppy.

I immediately took this floppy to my old laptop and booted it with it. It booted nicely and started the configuration procedure. The first thing I had to do was configure the swap space. The harddisk was DOS formatted, but I want to install my linux on a ext2 partition. Therefore I decided to boot the machine with only the necessary configuration, after which I should be able to use the linux fdisk utility to partition the harddisk. For the moment I configured the swap space as a file on the DOS partition and continued.

After configuring the swap space I had the option to load each of the available add-on disks. After selecting No for each of them, a configuration menu was presented with three options: No additional configuration, a minimal configuration or a custom configuration. I selected the minimal configuration, and Linux continued loading its applications onto the RAM disk.

At the end I was asked if I wanted to save these settings as default (which I did not since I want to change the partitioning) and then I was offered a tour which I also declined.

Finally I was presented with the prompt, indicating that I could start to work. This prompt is a silly thing, since the multi-user options are on the SRV add-on. Anyway, I enterer root (just for the show) and fired up fdisk. I quickly deleted the DOS partition and created an ext2 partition and a swap partition.

I rebooted the laptop, and went through the same procedure again, but this time I used my new partition as swap space and did some more configuration, like the keyboard layout.

Unfortunately, my time to play with computers is finished for today, so I saved my configuration to the floppy (setup -s lock) and shut down the machine.

Tomorrow I am going to copy the files from the RAM drive onto the harddisk and if I have enough time left, I am going to install the SRV and WKS add-ons. That will keep me busy for a while…

Sven

During the day, I always wear my cellphone. Always. Except last Saturday.

We left in the morning to Alpicat to visit Maria José’s parents, and I didn’t think about my phone.

When we came back home at 20:00 hours, I had two messages on my voicemail; one of my sister and one of my mother. Their message: I have become an uncle!!!!!

My sister’s son is called Sven, weighed 3,5 kilos and is 52 centimetres long. Both of them are alright.

I already have some pictures of the cute little boy, and will place them on this site as soon as possible.

Visit

Barely 2 weeks after we moved into our new house, Hotel Rosell had its first guests: Coen and Duh Nieze. They are spending a week of holiday in Catalunya (a good choice) and were in our house this weekend. We showed them around in the city (but we didn’t visit the Seu Vella), and explored the local culinary specialities (without eating snails) and nightlife.

Because Coen proudly wrote in the guestbook of Jong Nederland Harmelen about the beer we took outside on the terras, we sent them to the pyrenees, where for sure it’s impossible to sit outside to drink a beer. They did report having had a snowball fight with the local priest.

[Update 2004.01.21]: Changed link to JNH

One week later…

We’re now living in our new house for one week now, and things have settled down a bit.

The first days were a little bit chaotic. We found out that we didn’t have hot water, so we had to improvise a bit with taking showers and washing the dishes. Our dishwasher still isn’t working, because the hole in the closet where the tubes and the power cable of the dishwasher go through has been made in the wrong location. If things go alright they will fix this today or tomorrow.

Last weekend I fixed the beds and the wardrobe in the second bedroom. When that was finished we could finally unpack a lot of the boxes in our office, which looks a lot cleaner now. We also could clean the entrance, which have been a storage place for some months and haven’t been cleaned thoroughly during that time.

On Sunday we invited the parents and the grandmother of Maria José (the people who helped us so generously with this house) for lunch. A little bit of stress in the morning because we wanted everything to look perfect and serve a good meal. And yes, we succeeded!

Our house is ready!!!

Yes!! If everything went right, this afternoon the heaters will be connected and the floor will be finished. That means that our house is ready enough for us to move in. Last week, Marie José already moved some stuff, and tomorrow I will finish this. When she comes home from Austria on Sunday, we will start a new phase in our life together.

Of course we will send out our new address to everybody, but I haven’t had the time to do so this week.

Website

Until a few weeks ago, my biggest fans received automatically new items on this site by e-mail. At this moment my provider blocked e-mail access from this site to prevent abuse, so I am not able to send out my famous ‘News Updates’. I had the same problem with the Fimcap web site, but since we pay for that site, the problem was solved a lot faster.

Besides this problem, also the banners bother me. I guess I’ll have to look for another solution. Maybe host this site on my own computer?

Business trip

The first half of this week, I have been on my first business trip in my new function. I had to do an installation for a client in Holland. We successfully finished phase 1 of this installation. There are still some problems to be solved, but I am sure that we will fix these.