Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's not Titanium, it's Better!

A few months ago I decided I needed a higher capacity USB flash drive. I was very happy with my Sandisk Cruzer Micro (mine was the previous generation), but it was puny (512MB, never mind my first hard drive was 20!), and I didn't like the loose cap that covers the connector. I had seen the new Sandisk Cruzer Micro and liked the idea of 4GB and the retractable connector—no cap to lose!

I ordered one and started carrying it in my pocket just like its predecessor. Pretty quickly I realized it wasn't going hold up. Unlike the old Micro, which was metal and covered with a thick clear vinyl-like plastic, this one seemed, well, cheap. The truth is, when I ordered the plastic one I really wanted the titanium one but I really didn't feel I could justify the added cost. (The street prices on these things are a lot less than the list price on Sandisk's site.)

When I found the cheaper one wasn't likely to hold up well, I had a reason to get the cool titanium one. So I did.

After a few months in my pocket with other items, the unfazed Cruzer Titanium

When I received it, I was pleased but a little confused. It didn't look like titanium. When I turned it over I saw a little logo that said "LIQUIDMETAL". Wow! This thing was liquidmetal. Unbelievably cool, much cooler than titanium. Liquidmetal, you see, is a unique material. It is a metallic glass. An amorphous metal. An amazing alloy. Take a look at the Liquidmetal website or Wikipedia for more information. So, I got something much cooler than expected, very high capacity and impressively fast, too.


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Xnest: Fun with X-Window

So, it turns out that Xnest, in spite of being part of most standard distributions of X-Window, is obscure. Too many people, "I've never heard of that." followed by "Wow, that's pretty cool" so—here's the story.

Xnest is a sort of Janus of the X-Window world. On one face you'd swear is was an X-Server, on the other an X-Client. So why is that useful? Consider: I want to run a Gnome desktop session from a remote box but I already have a window manager running locally. Enter Xnest. If I run Xnest on the remote machine, through SSH, that machine believes it is running an X-Server, my local machine is of the opinion that is running an X-Client. What I see is an X root window. Invoke it like this:

Xnest -geometry 1150x750 :1; xterm -display :1

First fire up the Xnest application, then an xterm so we can use it, then, in the xterm, type gnome-session... BLAM, cool.

Of course, "man Xnest" is your friend, read up on other options. Just thought you'd like to know, if you didn't.

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