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Showing posts from June, 2008

Bootable Flash Drive

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Here's how to make a bootable USB flash drive (thumb drive) on Windows XP without using a floppy disk.

Download Virtual Floppy 2.0.

It should create a virtual floppy called drive b. Open up My Computer, right click on drive b, and select Format. Select the option to create an MS DOS startup disk.

Download mkbt.

Open a dos prompt (run cmd) and cd to the mkbt directory, wherever you put it, i.e.
> cd mkbt/mkbt20/

Copy the bootsector from b: to a file:
> ./mkbt -c b: bootsect.bin

Format the flash drive to FAT 16. In My Computer, right click on the Flash drive (mine was F:) and select format. Use FAT, not FAT 32.

From the dos prompt, copy the bootsector image to the flash drive:
> ./mkbt -x bootsect.bin F:

Make sure you get the drive letters right. Finally, copy all the files from b: to f:.

The flash drive should be bootable media now, with plenty of space for extra files you might need for doing BIOS upgrades and such.

A Policy of Simplicity

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Update: When this post came out, a few zealous RETE proponents had a field day bashing some of the ideas I presented here and referring to my dismissal of RETE (as a panacea for policy control) as "mental laziness". Since then, other people have come to similar conclusions, including Martin Fowler. In his article RulesEngine he states, "there's a lot to be said for avoiding more general rules systems", and advocates building simple custom, domain-specific rules systems. I happen to agree with Martin Fowler on this point.

Here is how to build a high-performance rules-based policy server in less than two hours using proven, free open-source software that can outperform incumbent rules-engine products by up to two orders of magnitude in common scenarios of business logic and policy. In addition it is easier to use and more secure than its commercial counterparts.

All of the information in this article is an established part of what we in the engineering field re…

Can'tGro

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The last canning plant in Canada to use Ontario-grown fruit is closing. What this means is that as of this summer, you will no longer be able to buy canned fruit that was grown in eastern Canada. CanGro, the multi-national corporation which owns the facility in St. Davids near Niagara Falls, has decided it is more profitable to move the entire operation to China, and will begin shipping Chinese-grown fruit to the Canadian market under their Del Monte brand.

This puts about 200 farmers in the Niagara region out of business, with a production of over 7000 tons of fruit annually. They no longer have a market for their produce. Hoping to save the industry in Canada, one farmer offered to purchase the CanGro factory if the fruit-canning contract would be returned to the local plant. He offered to put up $5 million dollars, but needed the Canadian government to match that amount to make the deal. The plant owners agreed to the deal. They agreed to give back the canning contract and …