Everything Updated!

Yep, all he major packages which make up the TurboTas site have been updated. There’s news version of PHPNuke, Owl, Netjuke, DVDDB and Slimserver. As if that were not enough, we’ve completed the move away from RedHat. As always, shout if you have problems with the new versions!

TurboTas 2004

SimPit Progress

Okay, I know it’s been a few weeks since my last posting. Work on the pit has slowed down now but it’s not quite reached zero. Recently there has been more cerebral work than brawn!

Yesterday the forth panel got fitted to the Pit. this panel is the ‘Sim Control’ panel so has funtions like Pause, Mute, Exit, Reset, Slew etc.
Next in construction are the ‘View Control’ and ‘Autopilot’ panels. Once both of these are complete, running the sim can be acheived without the mouse or K/B inside the pit.

There is bad news too. My concept for having a completly generic ‘pit has hit a small snag (or more truthfully a large iceberg).

Once I had tested the sim with the GammaRay controller and the keyboard emulator, I was really happy that I could make everything work.

To this end, many of the panel switches relate to fighter planes such as those in IL2. Also there are some spacecraft controls such as may be needed for Orbiter. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that many of the games I’ve got on the list of ‘Get this working’ do not support the keyboard emulator.

This leaves me with a completely non-functional cockpit for both Orbiter and IL2 (and probably others). I’ll be doing some more testing of this over the next few days.

My guess would be that these games hit the hardware of the keyboard controller in a far more direct way than either X-Plane or FS2K and the injection of keypresses by the Gamma Ray Emulator are not seen at all.

In the meantime though this does mean that I can concentrate on getting the pit working well with my main 3 games: FS2K, X-Plane and CFS2.

As the GammaRay emulator needs 2K or XP, it looks like my trusty W98 box will need upgrading. This is annoying given my dislike of spending money, but there you go. I’m on the lookout for a cheap Windoze license now.

The gallery has been updated with some of the panel contruction shots and I’ve written an article explaining how I made the panels.

On the multiscreen front, both FS2K and X-Plane lag quite badly: eventually I’ll have this sorted. For now though all is not well.

The Saitek hardware is up and running really well. The programming software is not up to much but I’ve found some alternatives that look promising. It seems that many games do not support the multitude of buttons (8) and hats (4) that the Saitek has, so some latitude will be needed.

The advanced driver includes a mouse driver: This seems to work okay in both X-Plane and FS2K so at least menus are useable without resorting to the keyboard.

TurboTas 2004

Microsoft Strategies for Lovers of Freedom and Justice

~ by David Cartwright

There have been some who have expressed dismay that after Microsoft was found guilty in the U.S. antitrust trial, not enough happened to make it change its ways. However there are choices that consumers can make, if they wish to have an antitrust impact.There are, actually, a variety of reasons why you may wish to decrease or avoid the use of Microsoft products. Perhaps it’s the snowballing license fees, or the constant feeling of insecurity amidst a sea of viruses and worms, or disenchantment with Microsoft’s constant attempts to create proprietary lock-ins, or even a desire not to support a monopoly. Whatever your reasons, when it’s a corporation that Judge Jackson noted has “prodigious market power and immense profits,” one individual’s actions may seem inconsequential.

However, that would be to underestimate the power of one, and the power of a million ones. A single snowflake is a delicate thing, but a million snowflakes together can stop traffic.

So for those who wish to take steps to reduce their dependency on one vendor, here are some practical steps. The steps outlined apply, first, to anyone (particularly if you fall into the 90%+ segment of PC users who use a PC running Microsoft Windows) and then are particularized for specific roles or organizations, such as hardware companies, software developers, Microsoft employees, universities, schools, and Microsoft competitors. The list is not exhaustive, so feel free to use it as a starting point.

Easy Steps for everyone

Don’t use Hotmail email (currently the major free [as in beer] alternative is Yahoo). Just create a new email account and gradually migrate all your friends to use your new account.

There are lots of quality alternatives to a Microsoft mouse and keyboard including Logitech and Belkin.

Search using non-Microsoft sites such as Google and Yahoo.

Need Instant Messaging? There are plenty of alternatives to MSN Messenger for you and your friends including Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Gaim or a Jabber client.

If you’re getting a smartphone, choose a model from a manufacturer such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, or Palm.

Download and use an alternative Internet browser such as Mozilla or Opera. They also have lots of great features that Microsoft Internet Explorer does not have.

When you need a second PC, get a Mac, or a low-cost Linux system.

If you’re purchasing music tracks, choose an Apple iPod. HP’s digital music player based on the Apple iPod will also be available within the next few months.

Looking for a games machine? The Sony PlayStation and Nintendo GameCube are excellent alternatives to the Microsoft Xbox.
There are plenty of other great stocks to choose.

Steps for the adventurous

Download and install OpenOffice (it’s free), or migrate to Sun StarOffice. Begin the transition from Microsoft Office to true cross-platform solutions.

Partition your hard drive and begin experimenting with Linux.

Small and Medium Businesses

Seek out system integrators in your area that can provide open source/non-Microsoft solutions. In addition to Linux for servers and desktops, you may be surprised at the cost savings you can also realize in other technologies such as databases and groupware.

Try out OpenOffice or StarOffice for your word processing, spreadsheet and presentation requirements. You’ll be surprised at the level of compatibility with Microsoft Office, and be delighted at the money you can save.

Cross-platform alternatives to Microsoft Exchange include Samsung Contact, IBM Lotus Notes or OpenGroupware.org
Enterprise and Government users

Seek genuine solutions to migrate from Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. High quality desktop Linux offerings are already available from Red Hat, Novell’s SUSE LINUX, Mandrake, and Sun.

Trials of non-Microsoft solutions for the desktop environment should not just be about forcing down the price of Microsoft software. Although that is good for competition, it is only a first step. A genuine market reform will require a long-term change in the status-quo.

If you are currently using Microsoft Exchange, examine the cross-platform alternatives that can also handle Outlook clients during any desktop transition. Alternative enterprise solutions to Exchange include Samsung Contact and IBM Lotus Notes.

If you haven’t already examined opportunities to migrate Windows servers to Linux, arrange to meet with at least one out of IBM, Sun, Novell or Red Hat to discuss how Linux can assist your business.

Insist on open document standards that are fully supported across all the major platforms: Unix, Linux, and Windows.

Universities and other Teaching Institutions

Insist on cross-platform document standards within the institution. For example, all teaching and assignment materials should be able to run on Linux, Apple and Windows machines.

For Information Technology courses, keep the teaching focus on Java and non-Microsoft solutions. You are training the technology decision makers of tomorrow.

Make Linux and other Free Open Source Software (FOSS) readily available to all students and staff.

PC Manufacturers

Offer some PCs with Linux pre-installed. On all other PCs supply dual-boot systems with both Microsoft Windows and Linux pre-installed.

Bundle OpenOffice on ALL systems. If supplying dual-boot systems, include both the Windows and Linux versions of OpenOffice.
Supply PCs with peripherals from alternative sources.

Arrange to pre-install the latest Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on all PCs.
Software Developers

Choose Java solutions (e.g. J2ME, J2SE, or J2EE) in lieu of .NET. There are lots of vendors that can help you including IBM, BEA, Sun, JBoss and Oracle. Java will also facilitate cross-platform solutions.

Join vendor programs from organizations such as IBM, Novell, Sun, BEA, Red Hat, Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel.

Begin migrating your development environment to Linux. Require Linux versions of all development tools.

If you are developing web applications, make sure they fully support non-Microsoft browsers such Mozilla and Opera.

Consider ways in which you can use Eclipse or Mozilla as the core building blocks for your custom applications.

IT Evangelists

Relentlessly pursue open or community standards. Open and community standards help everyone, not just a few.

Give away (or loan) live CDs such as Knoppix to contacts who use Microsoft Windows. It will allow them to test Linux without having to install it on their hard disk.

Give away (or loan) OpenOffice CDs, or even better the OpenCD, to contacts who use Microsoft Windows. In addition to OpenOffice and Mozilla, the OpenCD will introduce them to the benefits of FOSS for other tasks including an off-line browser, audio editing tools, image manipulation, privacy tools, screen savers, games, and more.
If you find an Internet site that doesn’t fully support non-Microsoft browsers such as Mozilla, Opera or Konqueror, follow-up with the webmaster to request he/she fix the problem.

Let’s eliminate proprietary terminology for what should be open standards. For example: Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Let’s search for an appropriate vendor neutral terminology …

Tell (and show) your friends the benefits of Linux and FOSS.
Embedded systems developers

Use embedded Linux, Palm OS or Symbian OS instead of Windows CE or Windows Mobile.

Move your development environment to Linux.

Microsoft competitors

Bottom-up marketing is almost always a better strategy than top-down marketing.
Pursue open and community standards.

Microsoft Employees

Read Judge Jackson’s Findings of Fact. Ask yourself, “Has my company made a genuine change from its anti-competitive ways?” Reflect, and act accordingly.

Revision: 25 March 2004

Simpit Panel Creation

Here is the procedure I developed for the Simpit panels. I’ve found a few resources on the net regarding panel building techniques, but all of them have been a bit hit and miss.

The method begins by laying out the panels in 1:1 scale in your favourite drawing package.For me the best tool for the job is Visio. This is only because I have a legal license on my laptop and it works well with 1:1 scale printing and produces high quality output.

I began by drawing an outline for the entire cockpit and then by drawing the likely switch panel dimensions on it.

Once this is done, make the panels the final colour and add an outline or similar to help them stand out (Remember, the finish is crucial, the more professional the logo work the better the finished panel will be).

Some further hints on layout: Make a set of dimensioned holes with a cross-hair in the middle. This way you can locate the exact centre of the pilot hole. Make sure you carefully line up holes so that a line of switches really are in a line. Visio and other object/vector based tools can help here: press f8 in visio to get the allignment dialog. Even a few tenths of a mm really stand out on the panel. Don’t forget the dimensions of retaining nuts, alignment flanges and of the switch bodies themselves. Leave enough room between switches for chubby fingers so that two switches don’t get operated at one. Make legends big and bright enough to read from normal operating distance.

Once you have a panel layout that works aesthetically, ergonomically and mechanically, print it out. Make sure you print it out at proper scale. Quite often print drivers scale output to allow for different printer margins. Turn this feature off! For now print in utility mode to save ink. Failing this, you could invert the panels (My panels use white and yellow legends on a black background.

Cut out the utility mode prints, stick em in your SimPit and make sure they are to your satisfaction!

Assuming all is well, We’ll now undertake stage 2: Print current versions of your panel in utility mode. Make sure that any cross-hairs for drill alignment are present. Roughly cut out the result and with masking tape, stick it to your chosen panel material.

A breif word about panel material: My first technique was a clear perspex panel with inkjet printed legend behind the panel. The legend text shows through really well and can be backlit if needed.

Alas, the perspex is a bit brittle and is prone to fracture. Also, the sheet I bought is fine for some switches and too thick for others. It’s also expensive. The paper backing has a tendency to tear so I did not use this further.

My final panel material is 3mm MDF. This is rigid enough in small panels (say up to 20cm * 20 cm ) to be fine for the small holes needed for toggle, push button and rotary switches.

Now that the utility mode print is attached temporarily to the panel, we will use this as a sacrificial template for drilling. Using a small diameter bit, say 1.5mm, drill pilot holes wherever required. Alignment is very important. If you have a drill stand, use it!

Next using whatever drill size is required, drill out the holes to the required diameter. The sacrificial copy will be torn and messy now.

Remove the template and clean up the panel. Make sure the switches etc fit though the holes and are a nice tight fit.

Next, print out a master for the panel. I use photo quality inkjet paper (this is the high quality matt paper, not glossy). Use full print quality. Give the finished page a few minutes to dry out as necessary.

As I’m now sticking this to the front of an opaque panel rather than it being visible through a clear panel, we need to put a protective coat over the panel.

For this I used laminating pouches. These can be bought at reasonable price from your favorite PC store. I bought a pack of 25 A4 pouches for £8. If you don’t own a laminator, don’t worry! A household iron is pretty much fine for this application.

You could of course just laminate the whole page in a lamination pouch, then cut it out. As I’m stingy, I just laminated the front of the page. I cut the pouches up so that I have a piece of laminating material just larger that the printed, roughly trimmed master.

I found a flat piece of spare MDF, placed on this a plain piece of paper. On this I placed the panel, then over this the laminating film cut to size (make sure the glue side is down!), then finally another sheet of clean, plain paper. I then heated the iron to it’s medium setting (Experiment with this on an off-cut first!) and proceeded to iron the whole sandwich. After 30 seconds or so I checked the film was adhering to the master without melting and that the contact and glue melt was good. Excellent. Keep ironing until the panel is complete. Once you are done, stick some books on top to keep it all together while it cools down.

Note: once cool, my panels have a strong tendency to curl. This is probably;y either due to incorrect Iron temperature (too hot?) or the fact that I’ve done only one side. The panels still flatten out okay when glued onto the panel.

Once cool, apply a reasonable coat of white wood glue to the back of the laminated sheet and stick it onto the MDF panel. Hold it up to the light and make sure the holes are centred etc. Stick the whole thing back between the paper and books to dry nice and flat.

Once dry, the effect is really good: Obviously not aircraft grade finish but certainly good enough for generic panels and resistant to the ink just flaking off when scratched.

Now using a punch, scalpel or craft knife, cut out the holes for the switches. Leave do the final trimming of the panel using a sharp knife and a steel edge: repeated scoring will make a clean breakable edge after 4 or 5 hard passes. I usually just carry on scoring until I’m just about through. This stage is important to get right: MDF does have a tendancy to de-laminate (fray) at the edges if you don’t take care at this point.

Alternative finishing: I used a black marker to make the edges of the panel black, but as an alternative, you could cut the panel and logo separately and make it so it folds over. If you do this, let me know how it turns out and I’ll put your comments in here!

TurboTas 2004

Spaghettilearning 1.1 Has been released!

Spaghettilearning is the Open Source E-Learning platform builded in PHP and Mysql. It is used by Universities, Schools, Business and Government and no the 1.1 version has been released with lots of new functions:

-> Cool graphic and layout css based

-> Editor WysIwyg

-> Chat has been debugged and emoticons are now supported

-> Files lessons can be stored in logical folders

-> Statistics are impruved

-> Session time and total time in evidence

-> Forum Moderation

And more and more feature … so what are you waiting for? TEST IT NOW!!!

E-Enigma? Cool Gadget or What

This one falls pretty well into the neat stuff category. Originally begun as a reseach project it’s now possible to buy an electronic version of the famous enigma machine.

The unit is completely compatible with the M3 and M4 enigma and has all the featutres of the original: Wheels, lamps, keyboard and the Stecker peg boards

The unit can be bought from a number of places worldwide including the Bletchley Park.Check it out here.

At around £119, it’s not cheap, but compare that with the estimated value for an original!

Late News: 2004 Pancake Count

Those of you that actually know me (Okay that’s most of you), were not too surprised at the Pancake photoblog last year.

As the digital camera was not available this year, instead we have the consumption and latency timings.

Pancake consumption began at 18:33 and continued until 19:28. From the graph, it’s pretty easy to see that consumption proceeded at a rate which easily exceeded production.

In addition, it’s even possible to see the slightly larger gaps where other family memebers got a look in: there are clear gaps between pancakes 2 & 3, 4 & 5 and 9 & 10 where Charlie or Selina managed to grab one. I had to wait a bit longer for my production slot, thus the graph delay.

The slighly slow consumpation of pancake 7 explains that both that I was just about full and needed the break and the production of the second bowl of batter. Pancake 8 was not until around 7:20. Finally after 11 pancakes I’d had enough this year.

Batter mix was excellent and the new larger pan probably explains the lower count. That the pan is non-stick also explains why pancakes wrere turning up at about two minute intervals. *BURP*

And DaimlerChrysler

Yep, SCO have picked #2. This time though, it looks like a simple Licensing violation and probably not a direct Linux attack.

Of course, we don’t know what the terms of the licence are: In the lawsuit, SCO simply state that they wish to seek relief: ‘Enter an order that DaimlerChrysler has violated Section 2.05 of the Software Agreement by refusing to provide the certification of compliance with the “provisions” of that Agreement’Here is the complaint if full, reproduced from GrokLaw.

SCO has put out another press release and announced that they will be suing DaimlerChrysler in Michigan before the day is out, for violating their UNIX license, allegedly:

“The SCO Group, Inc., the owner of the UNIX® operating system and a leading provider of UNIX-based solutions, today announced a lawsuit to be filed against DaimlerChrysler Corporation for its alleged violations of its UNIX software agreement with SCO.

“SCO’s lawsuit seeks the following relief:

Enter an order that DaimlerChrysler has violated Section 2.05 of the Software Agreement by refusing to provide the certification of compliance with the “provisions” of that Agreement;

Enter an order permanently enjoining DaimlerChrysler from further violations of the DC Software Agreement;

Issue a mandatory injunction requiring DaimlerChrysler to remedy the effects of its past violations of the DaimlerChrysler Software Agreement; and
Award damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

Enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff together with costs, attorneys’ fees and any such other or different relief that the Court may deem to be equitable and just.

“The lawsuit will be filed in the Oakland County Circuit Court in the State of Michigan today.”

It’s pretty likely that Darl will publicly say that this is all about Linux whilst making the actual court room battle a piffling licence issue that any sane person would give not a hoot about.

I guess this will be a lesson to any of you businesses that are mad enough to still continue using this litiginous companies products and Linux. Don’t! I would seriously say your best bet is to dump all flavours of Linux or dump all flavours of Unix. Of course, you know which I would do 😉

Let your hardware vendors know what’s going on and why. Sun, HP, Fujitsu et al need to be able to see that they are in big trouble if they don’t sort SCO out (Or dump Unix from their products themselves!)

I think I can confidently say that SCO are about to finish off the death that AT&T began: this battle will effectivly make Unix unuseable. We can only hope that it sinks SCO soon. I’ll offer £1 for the sources and make ’em public once and for all 😉


Its AutoZone

SCO have finally decided which end user to sue first. It’s a company called AutoZone. For those of you not familiar with the suit, AutoZone was named specifically by SCO in February in the interogatory responses as a party in IBM’s misappropriation of SCO IP.

From the AutZone Website: AutoZone is a Memphis-based auto parts chain that opened its first store in Forrest City, AR, on July 4, 1979. A public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (AZO), AutoZone had sales of more than $4.5 billion in fiscal 2000. The nearly 3,000 stores in 42 U.S. states and Mexico are all company-operated – there are no franchises. AutoZone, a Fortune 500 company, is opening more stores per year than any other retail auto parts chain in the nation.

Read more for a reproduction of the article on Groklaw announcing the news.

It’s AutoZone. They are asking for “injunctive relief against AutoZone’s further use or copying of any part of SCO’s copyrighted materials and also requests damages as a result of AutoZone’s infringement in an amount to be proven at trial.” The case was filed in Nevada. The paid Pacer site for Nevada federal court is here but I checked and nothing is up there yet. It usually takes a day or two to make it into Pacer. Note the page says Internet Explorer is required, but it isn’t.
You might remember AutoZone from SCO’s Supplemental Response to Interrogatory Number 8, in IBM’s Exhibit 1, which you can find here. Press release here or here.


SCO Files Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against AutoZone

LAS VEGAS, Mar 3, 2004 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ — The SCO Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOX), the owner of the UNIX(R) operating system and a leading provider of UNIX-based solutions, today announced it has filed suit against AutoZone, Inc., for its alleged violations of SCO’s UNIX copyrights through its use of Linux.

SCO’s lawsuit alleges the following:

* AutoZone violated SCO’s UNIX copyrights by running versions of the Linux operating system that contain code, structure, sequence and/or organization from SCO’s proprietary UNIX System V code in violation of SCO’s copyrights.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada, requests injunctive relief against AutoZone’s further use or copying of any part of SCO’s copyrighted materials and also requests damages as a result of AutoZone’s infringement in an amount to be proven at trial.

The company will discuss this announcement as part of its regularly scheduled conference call related to first quarter earnings, scheduled for Wednesday, March 3 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. To participate on the call, individuals may dial 1-800-818-5264 or 1-913-981-4910 and use the confirmation code: 141144. Alternatively, a listen-only live web cast is available at http://ir.sco.com/medialist.cfm. Call participants are encouraged to dial in 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.

2nd Filing with Australias ACCC

Groklaw have published this article by CyberKnights, detailing the second (public) complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against SCO regarding their attem[pted bullying of Australian companies into buying a Licence to use Linux.

CyberKnights has today filed an official complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against SCO Australia and New Zealand, after having sent three letters to SCO and not getting a satisfactory response. This would be the second complaint that I am aware of having been filed with the ACCC. The complaint is here as PDF. Sam Varghese has the story.
SCO’s public claims and threats, they allege, are costing them business: “Each such lost sale typically represents a loss of between $500 and $5000 worth of work in addition to the unbillable time spent dealing with the enquiry.”

And they ask for the following relief: that the ACCC restrain SCO from stating, claiming or implying that they own or control the Linux operating system and permanently withdraw the “SCO IP in Linux Licence” from sale; that SCO be compelled to make a public retraction of their claims to ownership of Linux; that SCO be required to publicly state that companies using or distributing the Linux operating system under the GPL are doing so fairly and legally; that SCO “make good the harm which it has already caused CK” in an amount to be determined; that if SCO violates any such orders from the ACCC, that SCO be prevented from advertising or doing business in Australia as an Australian entity.

Significantly, it argues that one firm, EV1, in the US has buckled under SCO’s threats and that unless the ACCC acts and clarifies the situation, others may be frightened into buying licenses too.

They reference an Australian law, the Trade Practices Act. The ACCC, I’m told, is an agency well-known for its teeth and its willingness to use them when appropriate, and it has a history of doing so, even against large corporations.

Their complaint mentions several issues, such as lost business and damage to reputation. They say they downloaded the Linux kernel, from SCO’s own servers in August of 2003, distributed under the GPL, despite SCO having brought suit against IBM months earlier. SCO surely can’t say they didn’t know in August that allegedly infringing code was in there, CyberKnights argues. So having received it under the GPL in August from SCO, they don’t need any other license, because they already have one, the GPL, which they got from SCO themselves.

Speaking of the GPL, Heise reports:

“Fujitsu-Siemens has settled with the Open Source project iptables/netfilter out of court. In future, the company will sell its product, the WLAN-Router AP 600 RP-USB, in compliance with the GPL. Fujitsu Simens will publish the code under GPL after a transition period. They will also make a donation of undisclosed size to Free Software Foundation Europe.”
Thanks to Till for the translation. One other sentence intrigued me, so I asked Sherlock to give it a whirl: “Only recently the project had obtained a similar agreement with the routing manufacturer Allnet.”

In case you were wondering if the GPL has any teeth, now you know. Of course, SCO insists on learning the hard way.