Fun with virtual machines

I’ve been playing around with virtual machines for awhile now, and it finally occurred to me that they are incredibly useful for running services or programs that you don’t want mucking with your host operating system.  What I’m looking for are recommendations, clever and creative ways in which VMs can be used.  For example, I like the ebook management program calibre, but I don’t use very often and so don’t want it constantly running in the background.  iTunes is another program that comes to mind.

So great internet, I, your humble servant, ask you for ideas.

Mobile Phones and Offline Mapping

OffMaps Downloads Maps for Offline On-the-Go Access.

via Lifehacker.

I don’t know what kind of phone I’m going to get next, but I would prefer it to have the capability to store and use offline maps.  Maemo Mapper, which does just this, is one of the reasons I like my Nokia N800 so much.  I can do it on my Blackberry, too, which is nice, but it isn’t nearly as user friendly (for me at least).  Commenters in the linked article also mention an application called CityMaps2Go that may be worth looking into.

A Case Study in Problem Solving

How Linux Saved a Fast Food Giant

Anti-virus program breaks Windows XP at over 700 (maybe more?) Burger Kings.  Smart guy figures out how to fix it utilizing a small linux distro and gets a co-worker to work some script magic.

Good job, Edwin.

One thing that stood out to me was the mention of rural restaurants’ data connections running as low–or lower–than 56 kbs.

Using some of our clout, we contacted Microsoft to see if they had anything that could help us, and they gave us a WinPE image that we could customize to run a script that would automatically fix the situation. Great, but we have two problems. First of all, we can’t run Microsoft’s proprietary .wim on our existing PXE environment. Secondly, the file size? Huge! We would have to push out nearly a CD’s worth of data to a lot of restaurants that do not have a great data connection under the best of circumstances (thanks telco duopolies!). Some of our more rural restaurants had connections so bad, they were going slower than a 56k. We were at the mercy of a piss-poor national broadband system. We pretty much ended up having to save this as a last resort, because it was basically unfeasible to send that kind of data to all affected restaurants. Some restaurants had to resort to buying a USB thumb drive and driving to another restaurant to get the file. Their connections were so bad, it could not handle a 62 MB file. Just awful.

Edwin’s right.  It IS awful that even a large corporation has to rely on a substandard information infrastructure.  Widespread and affordable broadband is pretty much essential for any organization (be it small business or megacorp) to provide quality external and internal customer service.*  Happy customers + happy employees = a stronger organization, more profits, and a stronger economy.

*Yes, there are exceptions.

The Ending of LOST Revealed!

It’s all a quantum event at the Large Hadron Collider. The Island itself is just a proton. Two head-on soliton collisions at high energy levels created Jacob and the Man in Black. A secondary particle collision between the Jacob-particle and the Ben Linus-particle destroys Jacob. The dark matter (the Man in Black) begins to accumulate gravitons at an exponential rate. Without the balance of the Jacob particle, the MIB quickly becomes a black hole that destroys all life as we know it. The Higgs-Boson particle shows up with an airplane and a six pack of beer, discovering too late that there is no one left to save, let alone prove its existence.