All entries for October 2005

October 14, 2005

Firefox Tips & Tricks

http://www.mozilla.org/support/firefox/tips

If you use Firefox and you have not tried these settings yet.


October 11, 2005

One simple way to speed up web browsing speed (especially for those on campus)

The Residences Network (WarwickPiazza) could be very slow when accessing some web sites, like those in the US and China. Sometimes the progress bar could be frozen for a very looooooooong time and then say "timeout" or other nonsense messages. So "refresh" to make another attempt, and it could still be the same thing. Meanwhile, believe or not, it is possible to download a very laaaaaaaaarge file from warwick.ac.uk within few minutes (or seconds!). If you use your computer and have the same experience, please read below.



A Simple Way to Speed Up Web Browsing Speed




Here is how to setup, try it, and you will see the difference.


For those using Internet Explorer

1. Follow these menu actions:

View -> Internet Options -> (under Connection tab) LAN Settings

Now you will see LAN Settings dialogue
[Picture pending]

2. Untick all the boxes first (if there was any tick)

3. Tick the box in front of Use automatic configuration script, then in the blank field provided, put

http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~yu/local.pac

4. Click the "OK" button and "OK" again.

5. Start surfing as usual, but it will be probably quicker from now on(ok, at least the same speed).

For those using Mozilla Firefox

The similar setting dialogue is in

Tools -> Options -> "Connection settings"

[Picture pending]

Choose automatic proxy configuration script url, type

http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~yu/local.pac

That's it. Start surfing as usual, but it will be probably quicker from now on(ok, at least the same speed).



What is going on behind the scene

The idea is to use a proxy server to direct network traffic. The formal definition is caching. In other words, your laptop does not connect directly to the Internet, which could take a very looooooooong time. Instead, IE (or Firefox) connects to a ultra-fast machine located somewhere in the University, and that ultra-fast machine deliveries these web resources to your door.

It is like a scenario in a shop. You buy newspaper, food and drinks from the shop, but you do not need to worry about how the shop transports these products (by car, van, lorry or helicopter maybe?) from distributors.

If you are really interested in how proxy works, see this article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_server



Why use this setting (or this script)

1. IT services only provides a proxy config script for off campus use

2. This setting only affect unsecured web pages, i.e. those without a lock and the web address starting from "http://...". Secure connections will not be directed.

3. If the ultra-fast machine is broken, it would not affect your browsing except the speed may be slower.

4. It is very quick and easy to set up.

5. It can be updated regularly to fix bugs (if any) or improve performance.

6. The actual setting file is less than 0.3 kB.

7. The most important point: You get Enhanced Web Surfing Experience




Note: there is also a script to use when off campus, and it is located here:

http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~yu/remote.pac






Please let me know your comments and suggestions.


October 07, 2005

Fire! Fire! Fire!

The fire alarm in Claycroft 1 was triggered on few minutes ago. It is agreed that the alarm is the worst sound wave possible. We all had to run away from the mad hall.

I am sure it is not our kitchen as most of us are out at the moment.
Well, let us wait and see.


October 05, 2005

Philosophy for Programmers

Writing about web page http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/people/academic/Steve.Matthews/seminar/compsoc.pdf

I just recalled one seminar given by Steve Matthews, and it is still quite amusing. If you are a fresh CS student, this may interest you.


More Steve Matthews's speeches can be found from here:

http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/modules/cs321/opening.html


And more CS fun stuffs are here (you need to be a CS student to appreciate these):

http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~sgm/cs123/fun/


October 04, 2005

From RedHat 9 to Fedora Core 4

OK, for some reasons, I decided to switch to Fedora Core 4 from RedHat 9. Do not ask me why, maybe the day was very very rainy. :)

If you are about to do the same thing, i.e. upgrade from RedHat 9 to Fedora Core 4, I hope the following points are helpful:

1. The recommended way to upgrade/install

Please go to Fedora's mirror site in the UK, www.mirror.ac.uk/mirror/fedora.redhat.com, download iso files into your hard drive (and remember where they are, so that you know which "hda" and its path). You can also burn them into CDs, at least burn the first ISO file as I found it is quite useful to keep a rescue CD (you can also use the rescue CD iso…).

2. yum & yum.conf

You may have heard that you can use yum to upgrade from RedHat 9 to Fedora Core 4 by modifying etc/yum.conf, so you do not need to download the huge ISO files. However, DO NOT FOLLOW THIS. First of all, there are a lot of RPMs to download and install, compared with time used in Q1 above, it took longer to finish. Secondly, only follow this yum way if you are confident to debug and fix Linux. You could be in a position to fix everything (I did). Finally, you would also need to clean and clear for a while to optimise the box. If these points are ok with you, do not forget to use a mirror instead of *.us or *.redhat.com.

3. A Dual-Boot System

The main advtange of a Dual-Boot system (i.e. two OS like Windows XP and Linux installed in a computer) is increased reliability. If one fails, you can turn to the other. I had been keeping a single Windows system for quite a few years until XP crashed due to a strange bug created by someone @ microsoft (and I was in middle of my undergraduate dissertation). While upgrading from RedHat 9 to Fedora Core 4, I cannot switch on the network interface. So I used the other OS, XP, to access Internet for downloading and information.

4. Warwick FTP service

If you are on campus, you may want to visit Warwick FTP site. There are some linux resources and files required to build a linux box.

ftp://ftp.warwick.ac.uk/pub/linux


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