Jeremy Turner's articles

Book review: SQL Hacks by Andrew Cumming and Gordon Russell

SQL is the de facto method of accessing relational data within databases. Databases have been around for many years, and consequentially many many books have been written about them. However, SQL Hacks: Tips & Tools for Digging into Your Data by Andrew Cumming and Gordon Russell sets itself apart through format, easy-going style, and ability to cover lots of tips, tricks, and hacks with Structured Query Language. The O'Reilly Press Hacks Series book covers SQL for MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft Access. It covers 100 hacks which will definitely add to your SQL toolkit, and it will help give you ideas of how to solve related issues in writing queries.

Book review: Backup & Recovery by W. Curtis Preston

Linus Torvalds once wrote on, “Only wimps use tape backup: real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)”. While his humorous comment might not be feasible for most, the topic of backing up important files (along with recovering them) is very crucial to any person or business. One excellent book which covers this topic is Backup & Recovery by W. Curtis Preston and published by O’Reilly. The book covers not only specific solutions but methodologies as well. It is a very complete and detailed look at the whole process of data backup and recovery.

GNU/Linux thin-clients

Well, I suppose I’ve had a (not quite so) brief hiatus from blogging, and it’s time to come back into the fold.

I’ve been looking for a good GNU/Linux thin-client for my employer, a school district in the US. We have scores of aging desktops (primarily Intel PII 350 MHz and PIII 800 MHz systems) and looking more into the mobile arena for most computing needs. We currently utilize Citrix’s MetaFrame Presentation Server for most client applications, so we could substitute the current Windows XP OS for GNU/Linux.

Book review: Moving to Ubuntu Linux by Marcel Gagné

You have some computer experience and a desire to start learning about free software. Where do you start, what distribution do you choose? The book you should read when starting out with GNU/Linux is Moving to Ubuntu Linux by Marcel Gagné, and published by Addison Wesley Professional. This well-written book discusses Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTS from installing from the included DVD through to networking, office productivity applications, and even working the command-line. If you’re new to GNU/Linux, or want to check out the coolest new distribution, pick up a copy of Moving to Ubuntu Linux.

Book review: Core Python Programming by Wesley J. Chun

Programmers and system administrators have many options when it comes to choosing a language to write scripts. One excellent choice is Python, a programming language designed to be easy to learn yet powerful enough to complete real-world tasks and requirements. Core Python Programming, 2nd Ed. by Wesley Chun and published by Prentice Hall is the text that will guide you through the Python language and integration with other applications and programming languages. Mr. Chun presents both basic and advanced Python topics in an excellent manner. If you are looking to brush up on or learn Python, Core Python Programming, 2nd Ed. is the one book you need.

Book review: Building Online Communities with phpBB 2 by Stoyan Stefanov, Jeremy Rogers, and Mike Lothar

Before the World Wide Web, many people discussed topics on a bulletin board server, or BBS. The main drawback is that many of these BBSes were not connected together, so a user would only be able to converse and leave messages for other users on that same BBS. The Internet, and also the WWW, have enabled users from around the globe to meet in an online community to discuss common topics, anything from animals, computers, music or anything else that anyone would want to discuss.

Book review: Nagios: System and Network Monitoring by Wolfgang Barth

There was a commercial on US television a while back that showed a man in an office building, and the man sticks his head into a coworker’s office, and says, “The network’s down, want to go grab a bagel?” The following scenes show each of those coworkers asking other coworkers to step out for a bagel. The final scene of the commercial shows the entire office, several hundred people, all crossing the street down below to grab a bagel, since they couldn’t do their jobs without a computer network. While Nagios can’t prevent network or application outages, it can actively monitor conditions and alert the appropriate people to ensure the network or application functionality can be restored quickly. Nagios: System and Network Monitoring by Wolfgang Barth is an excellent book which addresses installation, basic configuration, and provides an in-depth look into how to configure service checking for multiple platforms for Nagios 2.0.

Book review: Write Great Code by Randall Hyde

In our era of more powerful personal computers, applications that were once quick and simple have become larger, slower, and full of bloat. Any one of these application’s developers would have done well to have picked up a copy of Randall Hyde’s Write Great Code Volume 2: Thinking Low-level, writing high-level, published by No Starch Press. Write Great Code Volume 2 exceeds its goal of helping developers pay more attention to application performance when writing applications in high-level languages.

Book review: Wicked Cool Perl Scripts by Steve Oualline

Every GNU/Linux administrator will need to touch a Perl script or two at some point. Perl seems to be the scripting glue of choice since it has matured so well over the years. As a result, administrators can choose from many different Perl books. One such book is Wicked Perl Scripts by Steve Oualline and published by No Starch Press.

Wicked Perl Scripts coverWicked Perl Scripts cover

Book review: Running Linux, 5th Ed. by Matthias Kalle Dalheimer & Matt Welsh

Running Linux begins with the subtitle “A distribution-neutral guide for servers and desktops”. This subtitle manages to capture the essence of the book extremely well, containing extensive information for both a desktop and server environment within its 972 pages.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Spring Cleaning

Here in the US, yesterday (Feb 2) was Groundhog Day. From what I understand, this comes from an old German Pennsylvania ritual of getting up early on a Winter day and observing an animal coming out of hibernation to see if he (or she, or it) can see his shadow. If so (as Phil did yesterday), tradition holds that there will be 6 more weeks of Winter. If not (which is a lot rarer), there will be an early Spring.

GRUB tips and tricks

The GRand Unified Boot loader, or GRUB, has all but replaced the default boot loader on many GNU/Linux distributions. It includes some conveniences over LILO, the LInux LOader. One advantage is not having to remember to run /sbin/lilo every time you make a configuration change. It also can function as a boot loader for removable media such as floppies, CD-R/W and USB flash memory keys. It is short-sighted to view GRUB only as a boot loader to be installed on a hard drive of a GNU/Linux system.

Music in free software

As a member of two a cappella vocal ensembles, I have been searching for several free software projects to fit some of my musical needs.

The first need is a way to print out scores of vocal music. My director often re-arranges pieces, especially old hymns, and trying to read the hand-written manuscript and sight-read is very difficult. Additionally, after copies are made into copies of copies, the quality of the page decreases dramatically. I would like a soft-copy of the vocal music for reprinting at any time, and for long-term storage.

Book review: Knoppix Hacks by Kyle Rankin

Knoppix is a live-CD Linux distribution which comes with X Window and some of the most exciting and useful programs in the free software world ready for use. Like the famous Swiss Army Knife, “Knoppix Hacks” is an invaluable device. It has the best tips, tricks, and tools, along with information on other Knoppix-like systems. It contains common pitfalls and ways around them, most of which I had to discover by trial and error. Knoppix has quirks like mounting hard drive partitions read-only by default, but Mr.

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