Dennis Ritchie Will Be Remembered

Last week, we heard the passing of Steve Jobs. This week, another technology icon, a lesser known one, is now gone. Dennis Ritchie, the founder the Unix operating system, as well as the founder of the C programming language has died. 

Ritchie along with Ken Thompson created the Unix operating system during their tenure at Bell Labs. Shortly after, Ritchie started working on the C programming language. His contributions to Unix and C were monumental.

I still have old C books written by Dennis and Brian Kernighan stashed in a box somewhere.
For nostalgia purposes, I should re-read those books again.

Dennis Ritchie didn’t receive the fanfare or the credit that Steve Jobs have had, but Ritchie’s impact to the tech industry will be long lasting. After all, Microsoft Windows and PHP, two technologies impacted by Ritchie’s creation, are written in C.

How To Connect Samba Shares on the Mac

Here’s a quick tutorial of how to connect to a Samba share on the Mac. Samba is a open-source software that provides interoperability between Unix/Linux and Windows systems. The Samba software allows for the sharing of files and printers between Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac OS X systems.

At home, I have NAS (network attached storage) with a 60GB drive running Samba. I use the NAS to store, share and backup files. I can access the NAS drive from my PC, Linux (Ubuntu) and now from the Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Press Command-K. A window will appear.
  3. Type smb://192.168.xxx.xxx. Use the IP address of your Samba share.
  4. Click connect.

If you’re Samba share is password protected, you will see a login screen, similar to the one below. Just enter your username and password, and press Connect.

Once connected, you should be able to browse the files on the Samba drive, just like any other file or folder on your Mac. The Samba drive will also show up on the left hand panel of the Finder under the Shared section. See snapshot below. Notice the Public folder is available for browsing.

There you have it. How to connect Samba shared drives to your Mac.

CSS Font Order

When designing web pages, using the appropriate font for your design does wonder to the overall look, feel and layout of your page. Unfortunately, web designers are quite limited to the fonts they can use. Most web designers stick to the tried and true “web safe” fonts.

If you take all considerations including operating systems: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Unix, and browsers: IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc, then you are really stuck with just 3 of the safest fonts on the web. They are: Arial/Helvetica, Times New Roman/Times, and Courier New/Courier.

Other fonts that work across platforms are: Palatino, Garamond, Bookman, and Avant Garde.

Fonts that work in Windows and Mac OS, but not in Unix+X are: Verdana, Georgia, Comic Sans MS, Trebuchet MS, Arial Black, and Impact.

If you like to consider all OS platforms in your design, then the order of your fonts in CSS is important. I recommend this sequence.

Establish a Baseline

At the very least, you need to establish your baseline font. Choose whether you want “Serif or Sans-Serif” font. The CSS would look something similar to this:

html { font-family: Serif}
html { font-family: Sans-Serif }

Choose a Web Safe Font

Next, choose a “web safe” font. Your choice comes down to either taking Arial/Helvetica, Times New Roman/Times, and Courier New/Courier. Most people don’t use the monotype Courier font except when displaying code. So, you are essentially down to four fonts, Arial/Helvetica or Times New Roman/Times. Helvetica is very popular. Arial is not far behind. New Times Roman is better than Times. In our example, will now look like this:

html { font-family: Times New Roman, Serif }
html { font-family: Arial, Sans-Serif }

Choose a Cross-Platform Font

If you must, you can choose a “cross platform font.” Again, our choices are: Palatino Linotype, Garamond, Bookman, and Avant Garde. The first 3 are Serif fonts. Avant Garde is the only Sans-Serif font.

html { font-family: Palatino Linotype, Times New Roman, Serif }
html { font-family: Avant Garde, Arial, Sans-Serif }

Add Other Fonts

If you must, you can choose other fonts, although they do not work in Unix+ systems. They are: Verdana, Georgia, Comic Sans MS, Trebuchet MS, Arial Black and Impact.

html { font-family: Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, Serif }
html { font-family: Verdana, Avant Garde, Arial, Sans-Serif }

There you have it. A safe way to implement CSS Fonts across all OS platforms.

Unix Turns 40

Here’s a great article about Unix turning 40 years old. The article takes you back to late 60’s when Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie joined Bell Labs to its current state where three manufaturers dominate the Unix world of HP-UX, Solaris and AIX.

Many of us still remember that Byte Magazine article in 1990 that wondered “Is UNIX dead?” The timing was around the impending release of Windows NT®. Twenty years later, most IT directors would rather chew on glass than run their mission-critical applications on Windows servers. What is it about UNIX that keeps it going?

By the way, Unix still has a great future.

The UNIX market exhibited strong growth quarter over quarter with a revenue increase of 30.4% ($3,741M to $4,877M) and a unit increase of 8.3% (114,845 to 124,346). UNIX was the largest OS segment by revenue last quarter, eclipsing Windows, which slipped to #2. Also on the processor front RISC systems themselves saw a 32.7% increase in revenue and a 15.3% increase in units shipped.

Unix at 40

Unix is 40 years old today. It didn’t seem that long ago, but then again it seems like Unix has been around for a very long time. Now, take a look at this OS timeline here and you will see missed opportunities for Unix to get a foothold on the desktop computing in the early 1980’s. It’s too bad Unix could not take advantage of its opportunities before IBM and eventually Microsoft came along with their PC-DOS and Windows operating systems. Linux was born in 1991 when Finnish Linus Torvalds released an Unix-like kernel which subsequently turned into dozens of Linux distributions that we see today. Fast forward to now and the future, you see a world deeply entreched on the Windows. It’s still an uphill battle to get people to recognize that there is a third option to Windows and Apple operating systems. Unix and Linux in general have come a long way from its humble command-line beginnings to the current Gnome based GUIs.