Category Archives: Useful Links

How big is the Eircode database?

Ireland’s new postcode scheme, Eircode is officially launched today.¬†It’s been a long time coming and like it or lump it, we’ll all be using it soon.

Eircode logoThere’s been plenty of debate and criticism of Eircode in recent months, some of it valid, some of it misplaced. However, I did read one thing that caught my attention — the suggestion that Eircode was impractical for use with portable GPS navigators because the full country-wide¬†database would require 2 GB storage and exhaust their flash storage.

That sounds like a lot. Let’s see if it holds up to scrutiny. Continue reading How big is the Eircode database?

Server room on a chip

Jon Stokes from ArsTechnica has a good article on Intel’s recently announced Terascale 80-core processor.

When you have so much processing power available, how do you make best use of it? One way is to treat it as a virtual server room, and run virtual machines on each core. For example, a heavily trafficed website, which is traditionally spread across multiple web & database servers, could be hosted completely on a single piece of silicon, with corresponding cost and power savings (especially power).

Then there’s the problem of how to keep such a fast chip adequately supplied with data, to ensure it doesn’t spend too much idle time waiting for new packets to arrive. There are some hints that Intel may be about to announce on-chip optical support.

I doubt we’ll see this technology on the desktop any time soon (though you never know), but in an era where datacentres are routinely sucking up megawatts of power, it’s useful to have a potential glimpse of a future where the entire room may be reduced to a single server cabinet.

(Let’s ignore storage, for now…)

SysInternals Suite

Good news! All the free utilities from SysInternals.com are now available as a single convenient download here:

    Download SysInternals Suite [7.2 MB]

As you may or may not know, SysInternals was a website run by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell. Founded in 1996, it was the place to go for useful Windows utilities that did “hard” things – registry snooping, file monitoring, Rootkit detecters, etc.

For most IT professionals, utilities like Process Explorer, RegMon and FileMon have long been indispensable parts of their computer toolkit. (I have particular interest in the latter, since it performs a similar function to my own SnoopDos utility from 1989).

A few months ago, SysInternals was bought by Microsoft; Mark and Bryce are now working for Bill. One of the immediate changes was that all the utilities are now hosted on Microsoft’s website. A less visible change is that tools no longer come with source code. This is a huge blow to those of us who use the SysInternals tools as reference examples for a wide variety of programming techniques – for example, how to create virtual device drivers that can be installed without a reboot (greatly simplifying the installation process). Luckily, you can still find copies of the original source archives if you know where to look, though I expect that won’t last long.

The SysInternals tools are also exemplars of efficient coding, with executables sizes typically in the 100-500K range. In a world of ever-more-bloated programs, it’s nice to know that there are still people out there who care about such things.

It remains to be seen whether the ethos behind the SysInternals tools will change significantly as a result of the Microsoft takeover. I hope not, but the first worrying signs are already apparent. The removal of Linux versions of some tools is also a shame (though not a surprise).

In the meantime though, I salute Mark and Bryce for 10 years of supreme contribution to the Windows community. If you haven’t already downloaded the SysInternals Suite, do it now!

Chalk drawing

Not everything needs to be about bits and bytes. I recently came across a guy called Julian Beever who does absolutely incredible pavement drawings. Here’s a sample (used without permission … sorry):

Push the boat out - Julian Sheever

You can see some more examples of his work here

SQL Designer

http://ondras.praha12.net/sql/demo/ has a demo of a SQL Designer written purely in Javascript (or, more likely, AJAX – Asynchronous Javascript And XML). Whatever, it’s very impressive!