Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

Installing RAID 0...

Last 4 days I was doing only one thing: trying to install Windows on Serial-ATA discs. I bought two Seagate’s new 80GB Baracuda discs in order to use them in stripped mode (RAID 0). As a matter of precaution, I installed latest BIOSes for the Abit NF7-S motherboard, version .21.

Accidentally, that also installed new BIOS for SiliconImage SATA RAID adapter (version .43). That was a huge mistake. Apparently, there’s a bug in that BIOS that disables Windows Win2k3 to boot from stripped set. If you install on separate discs, all goes well.

Funniest thing is that Windows install goes OK up until the moment it needs to restart to continue. Then it just hangs.

After many searches on Google and Abit forums (I posted a question here) there was not a single answer that resolved the problem.

It finally got into my mind to try different BIOS. So I reverted to Abit mobo BIOS version .19 which reverted RAID adapter BIOS to .12 and - behold the miracle - all went well. Silicon Image managed to screw up working BIOS routine between versions. And they claim that .43 is the last version for that particular adapter. Lovely.

After those frustrating days, I can now enjoy significantly quicker disk subsystem - apps loads quickly, Win is up quicker then ever…

I knew it would be quick, I just did not expected to spend that much time on a perfectly stupid issue.

Lord of the Rings

Standing ovations.

I was at the serbian premiere of the Return of the King, and I’m still euphoric. Last part is absolute master-piece. Of the three films, this part is most faithful to the book (with inevitable changes needed for cinematic experience), but that is not why I think is great. I had so much adrenaline built in me waiting for this film, that I would feel really down if it was anything but grand.

And it really, really is. Slow build up of the tension until the moment of battle at the Pelleanor Fields. My goodness, how fantastic that was. Agony of Faramir and Pippin practically singing the lament for him. Despair both in Gondor and Rohan, defiance, sense of honor in Men when facing certain death. Courage of the Rohirrim and overrunning the Orc hordes and fear in the Orc’s eyes. Howard Shore - The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King Clinging on the thread of the hope.

Friendship. Devotion. Never letting go, for no matter what. Heart-breaking Samwise Gamgee.

Just writing this brings me on the verge of tears. Never, ever has any film draw me so much into itself. Peter, Philipa, Fran and Weta created the films that would be hard to surpass. Can’t wait to see it again. And again… And…


Just this week, in your city…er, life. I finally got another week off. This year this is 3rd time I got 1-week leave. First time I was at my flat in Belgrade, working as usual on various home projects (this and some other web sites), like I was not on a vacation at all.

In July, I got my first real holiday after 2 years. I went at my girlfriend’s house in Montenegro - 7 days of sea, walks and rest. Really good and memorable. And now again, I went to real vacation. I’m at home in Pirot (300km south-east of Belgrade), visiting parents and some old friends, and preparing updates for personal sites.

Even it might seem that I’m working again, I’m not. This is actually quite fun. I help my mom make cookies, work with my father in vine cellar (we make excellent home grown red wine) and when I’m free I work on this.

I wish it’s always like this.

From 5-level-nested-tables to clean CSS design

My company’s main product is called MarginMaker, a comprehesive betting platform for telebetting, shops and internet betting.

Our most recent client first bought telebetting, and when that was completed successfully, they contracted us to expand to Internet betting as well.

First incarnation of the web site was build with features at the fore-front. We were to create web site that will allow the customers to place bets in the fewest steps possible, as well as give them ability to quickly sift-through betting offers. Since all competitors already had web sites, we were in position to analyze them, see what is good and what is bad and build something better.

So we did.

Web site had all the bells and whistles, with floating betslip that would follow you to every page you go (unique feature no one else had), live price update without page refresh etc. Site is very dynamic (using ASP pages) and display could totally change in a matter of minutes.

And all of that worked in modern browsers, as well as IE 4 and partly in NN4.

Client’s decision to support 4.0 browsers gave us a lot of trouble. We coded several versions of the same script, layout was built using bloated markup; from time to time, client asked for some new feature or change to be incorporated which, in the context of time-frames, often lead to more bloated markup.

So in the end, we had average home page of about 80k HTML, with 300kB od javascript’s, multitude of images and Flash banners and some stylesheets. This was slow to download, so we placed all scripts in HEAD part to cache them (IE does not cache external javascript files called in BODY part).

This then introduced the delay to content - even with all files cached, browser still sent almost 30 HTTP requests to check has the files changed.

On above-56k connections, all this was not a problem and customers liked the features and number of registered users quickly grow. But for majority of UK modem users, site was slow. The fact that most of them used free services like FreeServe made things worse (those ISPs are often overloaded which leads to unacceptably long wait for HTTP responses).

So, we looked for solution. IIS log analysis revealed that 99.1% of users used IE5+, with IE 6 being 72.4%. Using this and lots of talking, client agreed to redesign using modern web technologies and abandoning full support for old browsers.

Here follows a tale of converting multiple nested-table layout to valid HTML 4.01 + CSS layout.

In the end, we got 5x smaller files and 10x faster web site.

Although I work for Finsoft and here describe one of its projects, this blog and thus the following write-up has nothing to do with Finsoft Ltd. All expressed views are entirely mine.