Saturday, April 22, 2006

Open-Xchange Server

I've been playing with various Open-Source Groupware solutions lately, trying to convince my office that we need to start using groupware. By far the most impressive product I've used has been Open-Xchange Server. It's completely free, but you can also purchase a proprietary Connector for Microsoft Outlook. (Seats are $20.00 each) While the product is impressive, it's a ROYAL PAIN IN THE CABOOSE to install and set up. It's definitely not for a Linux newcomer, which I am. That said, after much trial and error, I've managed to set up two working boxes on SUSE Linux 10.0 (Open-Source Edition) using the instructions at http://linuxrc.org and following them verbatim (in a few cases, I had to download older editions of the software I was installing just to ensure compatibility). However, while my installation is, for the most part, working, I haven't managed to get the e-mail component working, or the Outlook Connector (at least not completely) and for some reason, the Global Address Book is readable, but not writeable. A lot of people have complained about these last two errors, but I haven't been able to find a working solution. Frustrating. Therein, I think, lies the weakness in Open-Source. Setup instructions are often (not always) cryptic, incomplete, or simply outdated and/or wrong. Whatever the problem is, it's definitely reproduceable by following the SUSE 10 instructions at linuxrc.org. Anyway, I'll continue to poke and prod at these boxes and eventually, I may come to a solution. I'll let you know.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

On home ownership.
When you buy your own home. A home warranty is a good idea. I can attest that if you don't get one, by three months into your life in your new abode, you'll have paid out-of-pocket or gone into debt replacing everything anyway. In such a situation, one's head is often filled with dark visions of the home's previous occupants rubbing their hands together in vicious delight and cackling as they, with a screwdriver, poke minute holes in the base of the water heater and fill the heating ducts with dead kittens. I have spent a good portion of the last week doing battle with my home. This has just been one skirmish in a much larger-scale two-year war. Until I owned a house, I did not know that it was possible to have a fist fight with a pecan tree. Further, I'd never have guessed that in such a conflict, I would almost certainly lose. The good news is, my swamp cooler is no longer leaking all over the roof, and I now have a rain gutter on the south side of my house, the process of installing which tested the furthest reaches of my vocabulary. This rain-gutter is brown to complement my brand-new roof over my brand new carpet, which matches my brand-new dishwasher (and water heater). It protects the window well around which I just poured a load of cement from filling up with water from above (the concrete is to keep water from running in from the sides. . . tricky water). I think that will cure the leaking basement, but only the next major rainstorm will tell. It's times like this when one is really grateful for his or her spouse. What a trooper my wife is. She was helping all day and, unlike her husband, never uttered a word of complaint. Now, if anyone has a decent method of extracting dead mammals from heating ducts. . .
On publishing one's work.
By the veritable mound of (rejection) letters that I've been piling up on the bookshelf in my dining room, it's becoming rather apparent to me that getting a book published is not for the faint of heart. I've been sending query letters to literary agents since late November and I've been rejected by almost every one. Inside that almost, there are a surprising number of "return to sender's" by virtue of the address no longer being valid. Being a literary agent must be a tough business. However, inside that even smaller group of non-rejections is my one "interested" reply. I received that one exactly one month ago when they requested my first 100 pages. People who have published always talk about the amount of rejection through which one is forced to wade before that successful letter is finally received. Well, as I anxiously await further word from my one "interested" agent, I can add my voice to their voices in saying that it's true. Either that or my query letter is just no good.

Friday, April 14, 2006

As I am entirely new to the world of blogging, I think it's probably best to introduce myself, my reason for blogging, and an estimation of the subjects on which I'll be blogging. To you, who may (rather unexpectedly) read these ramblings, I'll be known as Iskander, or Alexandrus, or Alexander. I'm from a very rural setting, but through a string of unique events I've become somewhat acquainted with a few aspects of city life, from which I've thankfully been able to make my escape. I have a hard leaning toward run-on sentences that I probably won't be attempting to cure. I am male, married, expecting a child (girl), and quite interested in all things creative and technological. I'll probably be posting:

Odd invention ideas.
Occasional hardware or software reviews.
Thoughts about the future and direction of the Open-source movement.
Puzzlements, rants and struggles with Linux and Windows.
My experiences in trying to get my first novel published.
My trials with home ownership and repair.
My complete happiness and wedded bliss that I enjoy with my wife and (future) daughter.
An intermittent socio-political tangent.
And other such solvents.
If you enjoy reading any of them, I'll be surprised, but pleased. Mostly, this blog is an outlet to express what bottles up inside now and then. G'nite.