Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Sun, 31 Dec 2006



External monitor resolution on Os X

    The Macintosh users always seem so much better than other OS users for answering dumb questions here, so I have high hopes...

    Basically the only thing I need a Mac for these days is doing copy and technical edits on book chapters. The revision control and change tracking in OpenOffice is unfortunately not quite there yet, so it's not possible on Linux. However, I just got the heebies with Catherine's tiny 1024x768 internal LCD on her 12 inch ibook, and tried to plug in my spare LCD monitor.

    Now the display is automatically mirrored, which is nice, but it's at 1024x768 on the external monitor as well. This sucks because the monitor is a LCD and only properly displays at 1280x1024. Some quick surfing seems to imply that this is standard behaviour on Os X, which sucks.

    So, does anyone have a quick fix which wont destroy Catherine's machine? I don't mind running the external monitor with fewer colours, or not in mirrored mode if that helps. It just seems to me that the display control panel is surprisingly lacking in options.

    Tags for this post: macintosh osx external lcd monitor mirroring misdetect resolution
    Related posts: Code better with a new monitor; SMART and USB storage; Internet traffic

posted at: 12:56 | path: /macintosh/osx | permanent link to this entry


Video4Linux 2 webcam applications?

posted at: 09:49 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 30 Dec 2006



They all use MySQL...

posted at: 22:09 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 29 Dec 2006



Renaming mbot to gtalkbot

posted at: 19:39 | path: /gtalkbot | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 28 Dec 2006



Want HDTV but only for US free to air?

    The HDHomeRun seems to be a pretty useful device. There are a bunch of people on the MythTV mailing lists trying these things out at the moment. It's a networked dual tuner HD set top box. Kinda cool.



    Now, if only someone would come up with a digital cable card which works with MythTV...

    Tags for this post: mythtv hd freetoair hdhomerun
    Related posts: Incorrect channel numbers in MythTV

posted at: 22:14 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Tick of death

posted at: 21:59 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


In Phoenix yet again

    You might have noticed that last week we were in Phoenix again. That meant yet another trip to to firing range, although this was also James' first trip to the range. The new addition to the collection of weapons fired was a Romanian AK-47:



    It was surprisingly accurate, but has a definite recoil. Most of us ended up bruised, except for James. It turns out that James is some sort of automatic weapon idiot savant, as he also ended up with a really nice grouping at the end. The history of the AK-47 is also interesting if you're unaware but into such things.

    We also fired the Remington Model 870 pump action 12 gauge shot gun (slug gun variant) again:



    As well as the seemingly traditional Magnum 50 calibre model 500:



    And then the Springfield 1911 45 calibre:



    Tags for this post: guns

posted at: 12:48 | path: /guns | permanent link to this entry


As pointed out by a friend at work

posted at: 10:55 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Microsoft taints bloggers with free laptops... or, whiney bitches win again!

    A guy I know from Canberra (he was a consultant and we were a consultee last time we met, please note that the consultation was at a Microsoft centric ISV, and paid for by Microsoft. Then again, we never took any of the advice because our management at the time still feel that the Internet is a passing fad and wouldn't know a current trend if it jumped out and bit them) scored a free laptop from Microsoft.

    The premise is that it's a 64 bit laptop running Vista, and he's meant to be so astounded by it's coolness that he blogs all about it. There no risk of that occurring, he's pretty much in Microsoft's pocket anyways.

    Then again, he's so much in Microsoft's pocket that he's a MVP. There is no perception of bias there -- everyone knows he works for a Microsoft backed consultancy, is an MVP, and gets back rubs from Frank Arrigo, Microsoft Australia's head developer back rubber (full disclosure again, Frank used to be my assigned Microsoft ISV buddy -- apparently that meant that we both took it in turns to ignore email from each other).

    Back to the story. So, some other bloggers noticed that they hadn't got laptops for free, perhaps because they are whiney bitches, and raised a stink. Unfortunately Microsoft doesn't have the courage of their convictions, and have now asked those bloggers to get rid of the machines after writing some reviews.

    Get a grip people. Microsoft, you should be ashamed of backing down. Blogosphere, you should investigate the perception of bias a bit more before making random accusations. Frank, where's my back rub?!?

    Anyways, here's what I said in a comment on Mitch's blog:

    Mitch,

    (long time no see).

    I'd kinda assumed that the machine was a standard "kick back" to Microsoft MVPs -- you are still one, right?

    While I wont say I'm a big Microsoft supporter (I work for a competitor, have been using Linux for the last 10 years, and am finally Windows free), it seems to me that it's fair enough for Microsoft to provide training resources to MVPs. Don't you also get flights to Redmond, copies of MSDN, a back rub from Frank?

    It seems to me that most of the complaining comes down to jealousy. Especially if you disclosed the machine as a gift.

    Oh, and Microsoft taking it back again (or dictating how to dispose of the machine) just leaves me with the impression that Microsoft lacks the courage of their convictions. Surely if individual bloggers thought there was a tainting issue they are big enough to resolve that for themselves without a mandate from above?

    Mikal


    And unlike Microsoft, I stand by my opinion.

    Tags for this post: blog microsoft vista payperpost whiney bitches
    Related posts: Robert Scoble is right, Microsoft has abandoned a lot of their developers; Leon, get with the program; Windows Vista, now with nagging; SQL Server is incompatible with Windows Vista?; Leon, my point remains

posted at: 09:01 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 27 Dec 2006



Reactive economies?

    The other day while in Costco (for the foreigners, think Bunnings or some other hardware warehouse, but for food), I was graced with this conversation at the checkout, between two Costco employees:

    e1: Where the hell is e3?
    e2: Oh, we didn't meet our sales target yesterday, so they cut hours today.
    e1: So he's not coming in at all?
    e2: Nup

    Apparently Costco works out their staffing based on a "budget for the day" which takes into account todays sales target, expected customer load, and whatever they have to "make up" from previous missed targets.

    While there is nothing wrong with that, it must suck to be an employee in that environment. I can't imagine not knowing how much work I would have day to day. I used to be a casual, but our rosters were fairly static and worked out weeks in advance. I guess that Australia is headed down this path with the new industrial relations laws as well.

    That's not why I finally got around to writing this though. It occurred to me this morning that being able to lay off people instantly based on a micro assessment of the economy must also lead to very reactive economies, which are more vulnerable to downturn. If Costco couldn't lay people off instantly, then the billion dollar company would act as a cushion between small variations in economic state and the rest of the economy. Without that cushion, the laid off employee goes home and spends less (being unemployed for a day and all), which has a big knock on effect for the rest of the economy.

    I wonder if there are any studies on the probability of this being a problem compared with countries with more employee protection like Ireland? France probably goes too far for such a study, because the barrier to firing there is so high that it acts as a barrier to hiring as well.

    Tags for this post: travel usa economics costco

posted at: 08:48 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 26 Dec 2006



Jon's Nokia E61 WEP problems

posted at: 09:26 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 25 Dec 2006



Bloomberg: How to handle those annoyingly poor relatives at Christmas

    Resist the urge to impress family members with your purchasing power and instead give them only what they can afford to give you. Avoid luxury goods, for example, or other items redolent of leisure. Choose, instead, gifts that encourage productive labour. Hand tools, say, or cookbooks. Obviously your gift needs to say, ``I love you,'' but it also needs to say, ``The income gap within the family isn't going to be shrinking from my end.''


    A funny look at how to handle poor relatives at Christmas. Or at least I hope it's meant as humour.

    Tags for this post: link poor relatives

posted at: 11:32 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


When in San Diego, visit the aircraft carrier

posted at: 09:40 | path: /travel/usa/california/sandiego | permanent link to this entry


Christmas morning

    Our kids seem to have the Christmas thing under control -- I remember waking my folks up at 5am to open presents, but our kids let us sleep in today until nearly 8:30am. They liked their presents heaps, so if you got something for them, well done. I'll put some pictures online later when I get a chance.

    Tags for this post: christmas

posted at: 09:37 | path: /christmas | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 24 Dec 2006



Fedex sucks

posted at: 10:18 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Very behind in email land

posted at: 09:30 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 22 Dec 2006



Tempe, AZ to Mountain View, CA in a day!

posted at: 14:29 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Remember to visit the Ronald Regan Presidential library

posted at: 10:34 | path: /travel/usa/simivalley | permanent link to this entry


Back on the road again

posted at: 08:58 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 17 Dec 2006



Los Angeles to Tempe

posted at: 20:50 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 16 Dec 2006



Driving from Mountain View to Los Angeles

posted at: 22:31 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Kern County oil wells on I-5

posted at: 16:03 | path: /travel/usa/california | permanent link to this entry


Are you required to wear a seat belt in California? I thought you were...

posted at: 15:05 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Meh, 3G coverage with Verizon is patchy

posted at: 13:48 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


SQL Server is incompatible with Windows Vista?

posted at: 13:43 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


On the road

posted at: 11:58 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 15 Dec 2006



Where in the world are Mikal and James

posted at: 21:44 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 14 Dec 2006



Dear lazy web: writing to the win32 event log in Python

posted at: 23:01 | path: /python | permanent link to this entry


This would be me pimping tcmalloc

posted at: 22:55 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 09 Dec 2006



Open Source document management from Alfresco

posted at: 21:37 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 07 Dec 2006



Craigslist personal ad styled on the Yahoo reorg

posted at: 09:39 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 04 Dec 2006



Windows Vista, now with nagging

posted at: 20:28 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 25 Nov 2006



Oh no! Revenge of the nerds remake cancelled!

posted at: 10:31 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Email subscription to comments

    Hey all. Yesterday I finally got around to implementing email subscriptions to comments on posts in my custom comment module code for Blosxom. I run a custom comment module because of the static generation mode I use for the site, which helps reduce load on Andrew's server.

    Email subscription to comments on a post that you have commented on is the default, but it is easy for the user to turn it off. If you post and opt for email, you'll also get an email when your own post survives moderation, which might be useful for some people.

    It will be interesting to see if willingness to be emailed a comment is an effective spam signal or not -- so far with a sample of six spam comments, it seems to be evenly split between the two options, which is interesting because it means some spam bots are smart enough to turn the check box off. Or are they using a POST without using my form at all?

    (That makes me wonder if moving the URL for the submission CGI might reduce spam...)

    If there is any interest in a public release of my uber crap perl code let me know, and I might try and find the time to clean it up.

    Tags for this post: blog spam blosxom static email subscription
    Related posts: Why document management is good; Internet outage; What the heck are you talking about?; Static page titling plug in for Blosxom; Weird email of the day; I'm glad I've turned on comments here

posted at: 10:28 | path: /diary/spam | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 24 Nov 2006



Solar panel reflection effects in satellite imagery

posted at: 12:10 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


We're 80% complete. If only we could get the code to compile we would be done!

posted at: 11:34 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Hey, the Macintosh bloggers rock more than the Linux bloggers

posted at: 11:28 | path: /macintosh/osx | permanent link to this entry


Book status

posted at: 11:00 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 23 Nov 2006



Macintosh backups

posted at: 14:18 | path: /macintosh/osx | permanent link to this entry


Please report to the municipal hall of justice

    Catherine rang me while I was at work yesterday to let me know that I had a letter from the courthouse in Santa Clara country demanding (it doesn't make it sound all that optional) that I attend at the "Municipal Hall of Justice" for jury duty. Yes, they really called it that. Yes, I thought it sounded like something from a bad 1980's film too.

    So, I apparently can get out of the jury duty by proving to them that I am not a citizen. In fact, it's much more onerous to show that you're not a citizen than it is for many of the other escape clauses. They want a copy of my passport for example.

    The letter also doesn't make it particularly clear if being a non-citizen excludes me from jury duty or not. Oh, and the only contact details on the letter are a web site, and a 24 hour recorded message line. I don't know if I would serve or not if given the option -- I probably would.

    So, am I able to serve? Should I? Will the Demolition Man be at the municipal hall of justice? What about Judge Dredd?

    Tags for this post: travel usa california mountainview jury duty
    Related posts: The Runaway Jury

posted at: 13:37 | path: /travel/usa/california/mountainview | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 22 Nov 2006



MySQL Camp

posted at: 16:43 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 19 Nov 2006



Bloglines unreliable today

posted at: 21:00 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


You know it's nearly time to go home

    You know it's nearly time to go home when you spend half an hour trying to find the authentication bug, when the problem is really that there are two characters transposed in the password you passed on the command line. Curse you up command history!

    Tags for this post: blog doh

posted at: 18:15 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots

posted at: 16:56 | path: /gtalkbot | permanent link to this entry


mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots

posted at: 16:56 | path: /mbot | permanent link to this entry


Getting Google Talk working with PyXMPP

    Jacek Konieczny has written the wholly fantabulous PyXMPP, which implements Jabber clients and servers in Python. Now, Google Talk is a Jabber server, but it needs TLS support before it works. The code is all there, but the echobot example in the download (look in the examples directory) doesn't show you how. It's not that hard though -- here's the patch I needed to make it work:

      --- echobot.py  2005-12-26 07:25:55.000000000 -0800
      +++ echobot2.py 2006-10-25 04:25:02.000000000 -0700
      @@ -13,6 +13,7 @@
       
       from pyxmpp.all import JID,Iq,Presence,Message,StreamError
       from pyxmpp.jabber.client import JabberClient
      +from pyxmpp import streamtls
       
       class Client(JabberClient):
           """Simple bot (client) example. Uses `pyxmpp.jabber.client.JabberClient`
      @@ -28,8 +29,12 @@
       
               # setup client with provided connection information
               # and identity data
      +
      +        tls = streamtls.TLSSettings(require=True, verify_peer=False)
      +        auth = ['sasl:PLAIN']
               JabberClient.__init__(self, jid, password,
      -                disco_name="PyXMPP example: echo bot", disco_type="bot")
      +                disco_name="PyXMPP example: echo bot", disco_type="bot",
      +                tls_settings=tls, auth_methods=auth)
       
               # register features to be announced via Service Discovery
               self.disco_info.add_feature("jabber:iq:version")
      


    That makes the __init__ method for the client:

      def __init__(self, jid, password):
      
          # if bare JID is provided add a resource -- it is required
          if not jid.resource:
              jid=JID(jid.node, jid.domain, "Echobot")
      
          # setup client with provided connection information
          # and identity data
      
          tls = streamtls.TLSSettings(require=True, verify_peer=False)
          auth = ['sasl:PLAIN']
          JabberClient.__init__(self, jid, password,
                  disco_name="PyXMPP example: echo bot", disco_type="bot",
                  tls_settings=tls, auth_methods=auth)
      
          # register features to be announced via Service Discovery
          self.disco_info.add_feature("jabber:iq:version")
      


    Now the client works with a gtalk login:

      $ ./echobot2.py username@gmail.com supersecretthingie
      creating client...
      connecting...
      *** State changed: resolving srv (u'gmail.com', 'xmpp-client') ***
      *** State changed: resolving 'talk.l.google.com.' ***
      *** State changed: connecting ('72.14.253.125', 5222) ***
      *** State changed: connected ('72.14.253.125', 5222) ***
      looping...
      *** State changed: tls connecting  ***
      *** State changed: tls connected  ***
      *** State changed: fully connected  ***
      *** State changed: authenticated  ***
      *** State changed: binding u'Echobot' ***
      *** State changed: authorized  ***
      mikalstill@gmail.com/Gaim6734F991 has become available
      mikalstill@gmail.com/GaimD2ECF56B has become available(away): I'm not at my 
      desk at work at the moment. This is probably because I'm at a meeting or 
      racing electric scooters. If you IM me I will see the message when I get back.
      My roster:
      mikalstill@gmail.com "" subscription=both groups=
      Message from mikalstill@gmail.com/Gaim6734F991 received. Body: "Hello there". Type: "chat".
      disconnecting...
      exiting...
      $
      


    Too easy.

    Update: mbot is a Google Talk bot engine built on top of this.

    Tags for this post: google gtalk jabber ssl tsl pyxmpp python
    Related posts: mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots; Twisted Python and Jabber SSL; mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots; SSL, X509, ASN.1 and certificate validity dates; Implementing SCP with paramiko; Packet capture in python

posted at: 16:54 | path: /google/gtalk | permanent link to this entry


Oh, and no affection of SouthWest flights!

posted at: 12:12 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Kynan's going to be in trouble...

posted at: 12:08 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


How open source hackers party

    It was Leslie's birthday the other day (Leslie is the lovely lady who runs the Summer of Code), so James, Serge, Leslie, Lisa, (some lady whose name I can't remember right now), Ben, Alice and I set off for San Francisco in a stretch limo. We eventually made it to an apartment block part by 10:30 and had a great time for many hours. The apartment block party concept was interesting, and I hadn't seen it anywhere before. Basically, if you're going to have a party in an apartment you might as well stop pretending you're not going to disturb the neighbours, and invite them as well. In this case it was a block of four apartments all having parties at the same time, and you could wander in between them.

    It gets better though. Each party had a different feel, so when you got bored with one, you just wandered on to another. Another thing I liked about the party was that there was a bouncer, which stopped random people from just showing up.

    Anyways, a good night. I like limos. I should have more of those.

    Tags for this post: blog party san francisco limo
    Related posts: Public transport to San Francisco from Santa Clara; A day in San Francisco; Podcasts and iTunes 4.9 on Mac

posted at: 11:56 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


10-4 good buddy

posted at: 11:51 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 16 Nov 2006



Dave and Busters

    To celebrate a recent launch the team went out to an "adult arcade" called Dave and Busters today. An adult arcade is pretty much what it sounds like -- imagine a huge collection of arcade games, pool tables, bar, and restaurant. I of course had the most American thing I could find, which was a double cheese burger. It was sufficiently huge that I didn't really have dinner, just a light snack.

    Dave and Busters was cool, and I recommend having a look if you ever see one of them. The food is generic, but of a reasonable quality and quite cheap compared to what you would pay in Australia. The games are expensive, but given I have basically never been to an arcade in Australia I don't know if that is run for the course or not.

    I had fun, and I suspect that James with his fifty fluid ounces of Guinness did too. Oh, thats 1.47867648 liters by the way.

    Tags for this post: travel usa california santaclara adult arcade

posted at: 22:14 | path: /travel/usa/california/santaclara | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 13 Nov 2006



MySQL User Camp 2006

posted at: 19:46 | path: /conference/mysqlcamp06 | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 06 Nov 2006



Twinkie laptop

    A while ago an office mate and I were playing hide the twinkie in the office. I think it all started when yet another office mate brought some twinkies into the office, and I stole one for Flemming. He didn't want it, but was too polite to say no, so he hid it in my bike shoes when I was out of the office. Then, I "hid" it under his mouse. So he put it into the bracket that holds my desk phone up. So I taped it to the back of his monitors. You get the idea.

    I went away for a month recently (to Australia and all...), and he obviously missed me, because when I came back my desk was covered with twinkies. I needed to move some so I could type on my laptop, but where to put them?

    In the end I put them on my laptop lid, and off I went to a meeting. These are the pictures another sysop took at that meeting...

       

    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20061106 photo

posted at: 13:21 | path: /diary/pictures/20061106 | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 05 Nov 2006



Mi Pueblo

    The phrase "Mi Pueblo" is remarkably over used, which made web surfing for this one hard. For some time, Catherine has been doing some of our food shopping at the little Spanish grocery store in Mountain View. For the first time I went along yesterday (she normally goes when I am at work).

    Imagine a food shop full of kids running around the place, loud Mexican music playing, where you're the only ones speaking English. It was great fun... Like a very short trip to Mexico. Oh, and it's cheap. Really cheap. For example, half the price of Safeway for Sirloin steak, and most fruit.

    For some time I've been thinking I should learn some basic Spanish. I really should get around to doing that...

    Tags for this post: travel usa california mountainview shopping grocery
    Related posts: Adventures in Blinis; Random facts for the day

posted at: 10:38 | path: /travel/usa/california/mountainview | permanent link to this entry


Black listing words in comments

posted at: 10:30 | path: /diary/spam | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 31 Oct 2006



Getting ready to leave Sydney

    I haven't written much about the couple of weeks I've spent in Sydney. Nothing really exciting happened, apart from a trip home to see the kids (the Southern Tablelands were greener than I expected), a visit to CLUG another to SLUG, and a lot of time spent eating at restaurants on King Street in Newtown.

    I've decided that I like the Sydney train system, but not the trains themselves. The trains fall into several categories:

    • Millennium trains: the standard one would expect from any world class train system. There are hardly any of these, but they're the only ones with screens saying what station is next, and are in a good state of repair. It seems that they're mainly devoted to the tourist-centric airport runs.
    • Tangaras: about 15 years old I'm told. They're ok but nothing special.
    • Craptastics: these are the ones older than Tangaras but with retrofitted air conditioning. They must be about 30 years old from the look of things. They're crap.
    • Craptanics: imagine a Craptastic before it had the air conditioning retrofit. This is that train. At least you can open the windows, which helps let some of the reek of sweaty office workers and teenaged boys out. Some.
    • Stinktanic: if you get one of these, $DEITY hates you. It's a Craptanic, without windows that open. You're screwed. Enjoy the smell.


    So, that's about all I learnt of note in Sydney... To summarise: yay King Street, yay train system, boo actual trains except for Millenniums. Oh, and thanks to Grant and Lindsay for letting me stay.

    Tags for this post: travel australia sydney train newtown king street
    Related posts: In Sydney!; Off to the MySQL tutorials; Off to the MySQL tutorials

posted at: 15:29 | path: /travel/australia/sydney | permanent link to this entry


Go see the stilty building

posted at: 15:21 | path: /travel/usa/newyork/newyork | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 27 Oct 2006



A MythTV Jabber bot

posted at: 22:03 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 18 Oct 2006



Hypothetically speaking

posted at: 01:01 | path: /conference/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 17 Oct 2006



Slashdot, Google and Slack

posted at: 19:21 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


AUUG 2006 Slack talk

posted at: 00:36 | path: /presentations | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 15 Oct 2006



Cat, bag, out

posted at: 00:45 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 14 Oct 2006



In Sydney!

    So now I am in Sydney, with Grant and Lindsay (old friends from Canberra). Newtown seems nice, in fact the house itself is very nice. However, the streets are pretty Victorian and built up, which is a bit oppressive. Then again, I am told there are a bunch of parks I haven't seen yet, so I'll delay any further comment until then. It appears it's only about 15 minutes on the train from here to work, which will be nice during the week. More news later...

    Tags for this post: travel australia sydney newtown
    Related posts: Getting ready to leave Sydney

posted at: 00:47 | path: /travel/australia/sydney | permanent link to this entry


Beware the concierge at the Rendezvous Hotel!

posted at: 00:44 | path: /travel/australia/melbourne | permanent link to this entry


MythArchive, best failure mode ever!

    So, you're creating a native archive with MythArchive. You've never run it before, so you just give it a go. It can't write data files to the place the videos are at, so what is it's failure mode? Well, how about trying to change permissions on every file on the machine? Lovely.

    2006-10-13 22:32:23.025 Options - createiso: 0, doburn: 1, mediatype: 3, erasedvdrw: 0
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.026 savedirectory: /
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.026 Saving files to : /
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.077 Archiving Christmas (/share/Movies/dvd/Christmas.avi), do delete: 1
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.108 Creating xml file for Christmas
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.170 Created videometadata element for Christmas
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.204 MythNativeWizard: Failed to open file for writing - /Christmas/Christmas.avi.xml
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.204 Archiving Easter (/share/Movies/dvd/Easter.avi), do delete: 1
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.204 Creating xml file for Easter
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.205 Created videometadata element for Easter
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.206 MythNativeWizard: Failed to open file for writing - /Easter/Easter.avi.xml
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.206 Archiving Thanksgiving (/share/Movies/dvd/Thanksgiving.avi), do delete: 1
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.207 Creating xml file for Thanksgiving
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.207 Created videometadata element for Thanksgiving
    2006-10-13 22:32:23.208 MythNativeWizard: Failed to open file for writing - /Thanksgiving/Thanksgiving.avi.xml
    chmod: changing permissions of `/': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/lost+found': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/lock': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/lock/apache2': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/lock/evms-engine': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/lock/lvm': Operation not permitted
    chmod: `/var/lock/lvm': Permission denied
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/dhclient.eth0.pid': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/iptraf': Operation not permitted
    chmod: `/var/run/iptraf': Permission denied
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/dhclient.pid': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/sudo': Operation not permitted
    chmod: `/var/run/sudo': Permission denied
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/console': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/console/test:7': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/console/mikal:7': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/apache2.pid': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/apache2': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/apache2/cgisock': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/crond.reboot': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/crond.pid': Operation not permitted
    chmod: changing permissions of `/var/run/atd.pid': Operation not permitted
    ...snip...
    


    Tags for this post: mythtv mytharchive failure mode chmod
    Related posts: Outline mode numbering of headings; Macintosh backups, a better way; Its Christmas, that means its time for a Macintosh to make me angry again

posted at: 00:42 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 12 Oct 2006



Anyone for chicken?

posted at: 16:43 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 10 Oct 2006



AUUG 2006 NSLU2 hacking talk

posted at: 19:21 | path: /presentations | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 09 Oct 2006



Qantas site

posted at: 15:57 | path: /travel/australia | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 04 Oct 2006



Slides from the NSLU2 talk at LUV

posted at: 21:14 | path: /presentations | permanent link to this entry


Melbourne

posted at: 21:11 | path: /travel/australia/melbourne | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 02 Oct 2006



In Canberra

      Lefty tighty, righty loosey


    When Frank used to drive in the US when we were on business trips, he'd mutter "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" as he turned corners to make sure he ended up on the correct side of the road. Now that I am back in Australia, I guess I need to mutter the opposite when I drive around. I was a little nervous when I drove for the first time since returning today, but it was actually really easy. It's good to know that I haven't broken my brain permanently. Or at least not on that front.

    Today was lunch with my mother and brother, a wander around the National Botanic gardens, and then a quick trip into the city. It's interesting that all of Civic seems to be taken over by the Canberra Center (a shopping mall), which now consumes something like three more city blocks than it used to. Met Steve Walsh for beer, and then off to my mother-in-law's for dinner.

    Now I am at dad's house, finishing up my talk for LUV tomorrow night. Wish me luck.

    Tags for this post: travel australia canberra

posted at: 04:14 | path: /travel/australia/canberra | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 30 Sep 2006



Back in Canberra again

    Catherine, the kids and I have made it back to Canberra successfully. The flight from SFO to SYD was actually pretty good. I was dreading the kids screaming the whole way, but that completely didn't happen. They were a bit fidgety by the end, but so was I so that's fair enough.

    Met by various parental units at the airport, had a quick look around our old house (which dad now lives in), off the Jaycar for emergency electronics (power supplies for slugs and wall socket converters), and then a big lunch at my mother in laws.

    More details later.

    Tags for this post: travel australia canberra

posted at: 21:50 | path: /travel/australia/canberra | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 29 Sep 2006



Travel details so far

posted at: 15:50 | path: /travel/australia | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 28 Sep 2006



California coast, pigeon point lighthouse, Monterey acquarium

    Finally, we took Catie down the Californian coast. The trip was something along the lines of north on the 101 from home, take the Half Moon bay exit, go down through the hills to Half Moon bay until you hit the coast highway, and turn left. We stopped at a state beach, Pigeon Point lighthouse, and Monterey Bay acquarium.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060923 photo

posted at: 10:50 | path: /events/pictures/20060923 | permanent link to this entry


AUUG 2006 talks

    I'll be giving two talks at AUUG 2006:

    • One on hacking Linksys NSLU2 NAS devices to run your own Linux
    • And another on how Google deploys software to clusters of machines


    I'll leave more details of the talks to a later post, but I thought I should post some pictures of my final preparations for the NAS device talk...

         

    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20060923 photo

posted at: 10:50 | path: /diary/pictures/20060923 | permanent link to this entry


A day at the zoo, and some SF Bay shots

    I've been really slack at putting these online. Here are some shots of our trip to San Francisco Zoo with Catie, and a side trip to the Golden Gate bridge on the way home.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060922-sfzoo photo

posted at: 10:11 | path: /events/pictures/20060922-sfzoo | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 27 Sep 2006



Back in Phoenix again

    ...so off to the firing range we went. We went to the same place as last time although this time the intention was to fire some rifles instead of handguns. That didn't work out as well as planned, because there wasn't space on the rifle range at the time. Therefore, we started out with the Smith and Wesson Magnum 50 calibre model 500, which is still an insanely heavy and over powered handgun. I was more accurate than last time though, which I suspect is because I knew more about what to expect from it. In case you've forgotten, here's a picture of that gun:



    Next was what I am going to call "the James Bond gun", a SIG Sauer 380 p232, which doesn't have a Wikipedia page. It's interesting to me that most of these gun companies have interesting histories. For example, SIG (Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft) is among other things a railway company, packaging and firearms company. Because of Swiss law, they weren't allowed to export guns, so they had to come to an arrangement with Sauer to make that happen. Hence the name. So, you can see how Bondy this one is:



    That was a nice gun, although not very accurate. Hardly any recoil. Next was the Glock Model 30 45 Calibre and it's friend the Glock Model 30 45 Calibre with compensation. I much preferred without compensation to be honest:



    Then the rifle range became available. Here I warmed up on what one gun manufacturer I found yesterday described as "the persuader" -- a Remington Model 870 pump action 12 gauge shot gun, the specific model I was using is the reinforced slug capable model. The slugs are pretty scary -- thing tennis ball sized hole in the target. Buck and game shot is less scary, but would certainly get some attention. The most interesting bit of this gun is it really looks like it should be in a terminator movie:



    And then finally, there were two versions of the civilian edition of the M-16, the AR-15. The first is the standard issue AR-15:



    To be specific, this is a Bushmaster AR-15, with forward assist. The other version was a carbine:



    The only real difference to note here is the collapse-able stock. This rifle is very complicated compared with the AK-47, which I didn't fire as they didn't have any ammunition at the time we were there. Then again, it's very accurate over much longer distances than any of the other guns I have fired so far.

    So, to finish up I've spent a little time with rifles now. I wouldn't consider myself an expert, and I still have no desire to actually own a gun, although Boing Boing does recommend it as a way of keeping your expensive stuff safe when you fly in the US. I think the bit I find really interesting here is the technical complexity (or sometimes brutal simplicity like in the case of the Springfield 1911) of these machines. I would agree with those who expressed an opinion last time that guns are designed to hurt people and are therefore bad, but I still think knowledge is a valid goal.

    Tags for this post: guns phoenix arizona phoenix firing range hand gun rifle
    Related posts: Phoenix, Guns, and Wikipedia; Phoenix for business; Back in Phoenix; I promised pictures of my targets; I wonder if that paraglider has any drugs?; Full Auto

posted at: 15:54 | path: /guns | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 23 Sep 2006



Why you should stand away from the car when the cop tells you to

posted at: 15:50 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Alan Cox's IBM ThinkPad explodes

posted at: 15:47 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Field trip 1: Jelly Belly factory

    The first field trip we made with Catie was to go off to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA. They offer free tours, and it's about an hour and a half away from Mountain View.

    Overall, the factory was fairly boring, with lots of automated processes, and a bunch of workers shuffling ingredients. It would have been better if they allowed cameras in. Then again, the kids loved it, so perhaps I am just bored easily now...

    The best bit? I got to see a room with 20 million calories in it. It's the American dream it tell you!

                           

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060922-jellybelly photo

posted at: 11:16 | path: /events/pictures/20060922-jellybelly | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 19 Sep 2006



There is nothing of honour here

posted at: 21:32 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 17 Sep 2006



Catie's random shots around Mountain View

    Catie just had me empty the camera for her... Here are her random shots from the drive from Canberra to Sydney, flight to the US, around our house, and at Villa Montalvo (an arboureum in Los Gatos).

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060917-catie photo

posted at: 21:37 | path: /events/pictures/20060917-catie | permanent link to this entry


AUUG 2006

posted at: 21:26 | path: /conference/auug2006 | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 16 Sep 2006



When the Russians drilled 12 kilometres into the ground, they didn't reach China

posted at: 21:54 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


When Henry Ford imported America to export rubber

posted at: 21:46 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Natural nuclear reactors

posted at: 20:52 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 15 Sep 2006



Quote

posted at: 07:01 | path: /work | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 11 Sep 2006



Nice write up of sci foo 06

posted at: 12:56 | path: /conference/scifoo06 | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 10 Sep 2006



Joseph Pujol

    Joseph Pujol, a man of singular talent, was born in Marseilles, France in 1857. In his early youth it became clear that he was a natural entertainer, singing, dancing, and performing for his parents' house guests. He had a love for music, and over the years he became handy with a trombone, but it was a different wind instrument that led to his eventual fame and fortune.
    Damn interesting Wikipedia

    Tags for this post: link french entertainer

posted at: 20:05 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 06 Sep 2006



Looking for Women studying computing in Australia

    I was in an unrelated meeting at work today, and it came up that the first annual Anti Borg scholarship is closing it's application window in a few days. I thought it was worth mentioning here, in case there are people who are interested in applying. The basic deal is:

    Dr. Anita Borg (1949 - 2003) devoted her adult life to revolutionizing the way we think about technology and dismantling barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. Her combination of technical expertise and fearless vision continues to inspire and motivate countless women to become active participants and leaders in creating technology.

    As part of Google's ongoing commitment to furthering Anita's vision, we are pleased to announce the 2006 Google Australia Anita Borg Scholarship. Through the scholarship, we would like to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders.

    Scholarships will be awarded based on the strength of candidates' academic background and demonstrated leadership. A group of female undergraduate and postgraduate student finalists will be chosen from the applicant pool. The scholarship recipients, selected from the finalists, will each receive a $5,000 AUD scholarship for the 2007 academic year.

    All finalists will be invited to visit Google Sydney in November 2006 for a networking retreat. It will include workshops with a series of speakers, breakout sessions and social activities. The visit is meant to be an opportunity for all finalists to meet and share their experiences.


    If that sounds interesting to you and you're a lady studying computing or a related field, then you should checkout the announcement page before it's too late.

    Tags for this post: google anti borg scholarship australia computing women
    Related posts: In Sydney!; American visas for all!; Melbourne; Sydney Australia in Google Maps; Top Gear Australia; Linux presence at Education Expo

posted at: 11:23 | path: /google | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 05 Sep 2006



Does this stuff happen to other people?

    The other day I was riding to work. Pumping along. Nice and fast. I needed extra cooling, so I was riding with my mouth open. And then it happened.

    This post is aiming to be a rant you see, and I feel that I need to write it in my best ranty style. It seems to me that rants should be a little disjointed, have short sentences, and beat on one or two points for no apparent reason. Anyway, back to the rantage...

    So, I'm doing the right thing. The right thing! Riding to work! Exercise! Oh, did I mention the bad thing that happened yet? I guess not. A flying insect of some form (I'm not sure if it was a bee, wasp, or some strange American killer flying monster) flew into my mouth. My mouth! That thing I had open for extra cooling! Oh the humanity! Then, not surprisingly, it found that being in my mouth scared the shit out of it. I could have told it that would happen if it had asked, but no it didn't. My mouth!

    And then it stung me on the inside of my upper lip.

    I figure that sentence deserves a paragraph to itself, it's kind of the punch line after all.

    I've never been stung before. Let alone in my mouth. My mouth! I was at the top of a hill, leading into a tunnel. I had to keep riding for a minute or so until it was safe to stop. Did I mention that this was after I had been stung. In the mouth? By a flying insect? My mouth! Anyway, I ended up pulling over at the Microsoft car park, and pulling the stinger out of the inside of my lip (that's part of my mouth by the way). No help from any Microsoft employees of course. They were busy all planning the destruction of Google, and throwing chairs or something. I walked my bike to somewhere more obvious from the road, rang Catherine, and asked for rescue.

    All the time I was thinking: my mouth! My mouth!

    I'm running out of rant here. Sorry. I got to work in the end, having been rescued by Catherine and the boys. It took a few hours for the pain to mostly stop. Ice and anti-hystamines seemed to help. I was swollen for a day or so afterwards, and Matthew was convinced I was going to die. All the time I thought to myself: my mouth!

    Oh, a little more rant. And then one of the guys from work has the hide to send me this cartoon this morning:



    So, to summarise. I was riding to work, and got stung for the first time every by an insect. It was in my mouth and hurt a lot. Does this crap happen to other people, or just me?

    Tags for this post: bike sting insect mouth lip rant
    Related posts: Don't use Jetbus Sydney if you want to catch your flight

posted at: 10:48 | path: /bike | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 01 Sep 2006



Catherine is now blogging

posted at: 22:36 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


FAA Considering Passenger Ban

posted at: 22:33 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 26 Aug 2006



Dells are now explosives, and therefore not allowed on planes

posted at: 17:29 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


A simple init script for SlimServer

posted at: 09:29 | path: /slimserver | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 21 Aug 2006



Playing with StumbleUpon

    I've been playing with StumbleUpon for the last couple of days. It's a browser tool bar which records which sites you like or don't like when you click on little buttons in the tool bar. This is then used to draw maps of sites you like, and then people with similar maps are used to suggest sites you might like. I've been using it as a way of recording all those interesting little sites I find around the place and don't want to forget the location of. It also offers a RSS feed for sites you have voted on, which I had hoped to integrate with this site. However, there is no "found date" information in the feed, which makes that impossible. So sad.

    Perhaps I should try del.ic.ios instead...

    Tags for this post: stumbleupon site cloud map rating syndication
    Related posts: Another dynamic element to the site; Kinda desperate?; Dynamic site comments; Recent comments; Comments turned on!; Hosting changes

posted at: 09:28 | path: /stumbleupon | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 20 Aug 2006



Creepy

posted at: 22:11 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mountain View WiFi

posted at: 15:45 | path: /google/wifi | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 19 Aug 2006



The dangers of bad automated translation

posted at: 20:33 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Nuclear rifle and almost-suitcase nuke

posted at: 16:45 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Nuclear car!

posted at: 16:12 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 18 Aug 2006



OMG, Kernel modules

posted at: 22:16 | path: /diary/toys/nslu2 | permanent link to this entry


2,150 blog posts

posted at: 11:55 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Debian bootstrap complete

posted at: 11:53 | path: /diary/toys/nslu2 | permanent link to this entry


Belkin UPS working

    I've had some troubles with drivers for my Belkin 375VA USB UPS, not that I have tried very hard. I finally got it working today with the help of Will the intern (who rocks by the way) and only a little bit of effort, so I thought I should document it here so I know how to next time. First off, you need to install nut and nut-usb for Ubuntu (or whatever you're using):

      $ sudo apt-get install nut nut-usb
      


    Now, create a configuration entry for the USB UPS. This lives in /etc/nut/ups.conf, and mine looks like this:

      [belkinusb]
              driver = newhidups
              port = auto
              desc = "Belkin UPS, USB interface"
              vendorid=050d
      


    The vendor ID here needs to match the UPS, which for my Belkin is 050d:0375. Next, you need a upsd.conf file in the same directory. Mine looks like this:

      ACL all 0.0.0.0/0
      ACL localhost 127.0.0.1/32
      
      ACCEPT localhost
      REJECT all
      


    This stops hosts other than local host connecting to the daemon. Now, you need a upsd.users file, which defines what users can use the UPS:

      [admin]
              password = thisisnotthepassword
              allowfrom = 127.0.0.1
              actions = set
              instcmds = all
      


    Now, start the USB UPS driver. Let's start it in debug mode first...

      $ sudo /lib/nut/newhidups -u nut -D -a belkinusb
      
      rk UPS Tools: New USB/HID UPS driver 0.28 (2.0.3)
      
      debug level is '1'
      Detected a UPS: Belkin /Belkin UPS
      Using subdriver: Belkin HID 0.1
      Path: UPS.BELKINConfig.BELKINConfigVoltage, Type: Feature, Value: 120.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINConfig.BELKINConfigFrequency, Type: Feature, Value: 60.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINConfig.BELKINConfigApparentPower, Type: Feature, Value: 375.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINConfig.BELKINConfigBatteryVoltage, Type: Feature, Value: 12.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINDevice.BELKINModelString, Type: Feature, Value: 66.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINDevice.BELKINModelStringOffset, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINDevice.BELKINUPSType, Type: Feature, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINControls.BELKINTest, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINControls.BELKINAudibleAlarmControl, Type: Feature, Value: 2.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINControls.BELKINDelayBeforeShutdown, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINControls.BELKINDelayBeforeStartup, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINPowerState.BELKINInput.BELKINVoltage, Type: Feature, Value: 1208.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINPowerState.BELKINInput.BELKINFrequency, Type: Feature, Value: 599.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINPowerState.BELKINOutput.BELKINVoltage, Type: Feature, Value: 1208.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINPowerState.BELKINOutput.BELKINFrequency, Type: Feature, Value: 599.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINBatterySystem.BELKINVoltage, Type: Feature, Value: 139.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINBatterySystem.BELKINCharge, Type: Feature, Value: 100.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINStatus.BELKINPowerStatus, Type: Feature, Value: 49152.000000
      Path: UPS.BELKINStatus.BELKINBatteryStatus, Type: Feature, Value: 16.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.iProduct, Type: Feature, Value: 20.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.iSerialNumber, Type: Feature, Value: 42.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.iDeviceChemistry, Type: Feature, Value: 68.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.iOEMInformation, Type: Feature, Value: 4.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.Rechargeable, Type: Feature, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.Charging, Type: Input, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.Charging, Type: Feature, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.Discharging, Type: Input, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.Discharging, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.ConfigVoltage, Type: Feature, Value: 12.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.Voltage, Type: Feature, Value: 1208.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.Current, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.CapacityMode, Type: Feature, Value: 2.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.RemainingCapacity, Type: Input, Value: 100.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.RemainingCapacity, Type: Feature, Value: 100.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.RunTimeToEmpty, Type: Input, Value: 120.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.RunTimeToEmpty, Type: Feature, Value: 120.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.DesignCapacity, Type: Feature, Value: 100.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.FullChargeCapacity, Type: Feature, Value: 100.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.WarningCapacityLimit, Type: Feature, Value: 30.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.CapacityGranularity2, Type: Feature, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.RemainingCapacityLimit, Type: Feature, Value: 30.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.CapacityGranularity1, Type: Feature, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.ACPresent, Type: Feature, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.ACPresent, Type: Input, Value: 1.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.BelowRemainingCapacityLimit, Type: Input, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.BelowRemainingCapacityLimit, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.ShutdownImminent, Type: Input, Value: 0.000000
      Path: UPS.PowerSummary.ShutdownImminent, Type: Feature, Value: 0.000000
      upsdrv_updateinfo...
      upsdrv_updateinfo...
      
      =>Got 1 HID Objects...
      upsdrv_updateinfo...
      upsdrv_updateinfo...
      upsdrv_updateinfo...
      [snip]
      


    You get the idea. You can see here that it's found the UPS, and listed a bunch of information about the USB capabilities of the device. It will then sit in a loop forever checking the status for the device. Now, let's hit control C on that, and start it as a daemon...

      $ sudo /lib/nut/newhidups -u root -a belkinusb
      Network UPS Tools: New USB/HID UPS driver 0.28 (2.0.3)
      
      Detected a UPS: Belkin /Belkin UPS
      Using subdriver: Belkin HID 0.1
      


    Next, start the NUT UPS daemon...

      $ sudo upsd
      Network UPS Tools upsd 2.0.3
      Connected to UPS [belkinusb]: newhidups-auto
      Synchronizing...done
      


    Finally, you can use the command line tool to check on the state of the UPS...

      $ upscmd -l belkinusb@localhost
      Instant commands supported on UPS [belkinusb@localhost]:
      
      test.battery.start.quick - Unavailable
      test.battery.start.deep - Unavailable
      test.battery.stop - Stop the battery test
      beeper.on - Enable the UPS beeper
      beeper.off - Disable the UPS beeper
      load.off - Turn off the load immediately
      


    Unfortunately, the UPS doesn't support power cycling it's ports (which is what I was really hoping for), it only supports powering them down, and then waiting for human intervention, which is a shame. You can still shutdown the machine gracefully when things are going flat.

posted at: 09:51 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 17 Aug 2006



Recovering from a bad flash

    In the previous post I mentioned that I had a couple of bad experiences with the Debian installer and the Linksys upload web page. Luckily, it's really easy to recover from these. You do that with the magical RedBoot sequence (RedBoot is the boot loader the slug uses). Do something like this:

    Download the Linksys firmware from their web site. I tried this technique with the Debian installer image and it didn't work, so I only know it works with the Linksys firmware. Put that firmware on a web server on your local LAN which the slug will have access to. Then, connect to the boot loader. You do that by running this command...

      sudo arping -f 192.168.0.1; telnet 192.168.0.1 9000
      


    ...and then power cycling the slug. You'll end up with this:

      $ sudo arping -f 192.168.0.1; telnet 192.168.0.1 9000
      ARPING 192.168.0.1 from 192.168.0.100 eth0
      Unicast reply from 192.168.0.1 [00:0F:66:7D:1E:09]  10.717ms
      Sent 17 probes (17 broadcast(s))
      Received 1 response(s)
      Trying 192.168.0.1...
      Connected to 192.168.0.1 (192.168.0.1).
      Escape character is '^]'.
      == Executing boot script in 1.670 seconds - enter ^C to abort
      ^C
      RedBoot> 
      


    You have to be pretty quick on the draw here with the control C, as you have about 2 seconds to hit the sequence before the slug starts to boot normally instead. Now that you're logged in, you can download the new firmware:

      ip_address -h 192.168.1.100      The IP of the HTTP server
      load -r -v -b 0x01000000 -h 192.168.0.100 -m http /NSLU2_V23R25.bin
                                       Load the firmware file
      fis write -f 0x50060000 -b 0x01060000 -l 0x7a0000
                                       Write it
      reset                            Reboot
      


    And you should be back at the Linksys firmware. Note that you will still have the network settings that you had set before...

    Tags for this post: blog toys nslu2 firmware flash recovery redboot
    Related posts: 14 November 2003; Papal wackamole; Slugging away; Adding Open Flash Charts to my home monitoring; I don't claim these are new; Lego Mindstorms NXT and open source

posted at: 18:29 | path: /diary/toys/nslu2 | permanent link to this entry


Slugging away

    I've been sitting on a Linksys NSLU2 for a few weeks until I time to hack at it. That time came today. The NSLU2 (called a slug) is a Linksys NAS device, which runs Linux natively. There are two USB 2.0 ports, and a wired ethernet port. The CPU runs at 133MHz normally, but that can be bumped up to 266MHz by removing a resistor from the board. Thanks for the NSLU2 Linux project you can also run your own distro on them, and do cool random things. Oh, and they're cheap at about $60 to $90 US.

    So, let's talk about the install of Debian on this thing. First off, you need to use the Linksys user interface to configure the network settings. I recommend a static IP, because otherwise it's going to use DHCP, which will make it hard to find later...

    There is a Debian installer option, which uploads firmware via the Linksys web interface, and then you run through the installation with ssh. That's a great idea, and I would be much more keen on it if it had worked. I gave it a couple of tries, and then declared it not working.

    Instead, I went for the DebianSlug image, which isn't as Debiany as the Debian installer option. Think ipkg instead of dpkg. You need to grab the firmware image, and a program called upslug2, for which you can find a source download at SourceForge. Do the normal source building thing with upslug2.

    Next, you need to grow another arm, and try the magical reset sequence, which is documented under the heading "Flashing the image" on this page. Then, run upslug like this:

      $ sudo ./upslug2 -i path to firmware image from before
      Password:
      LKG7D1E09 00:0f:66:7d:1e:09 Product ID: 1 Protocol ID:0 Firmware Version: R23V63 [0x2363]
      Upgrading LKG7D1E09 00:0f:66:7d:1e:09
          . original flash contents  * packet timed out
          ! being erased             - erased
          u being upgraded           U upgraded
          v being verified           V verified 
      
        Display:
          <status> <address completed>+<bytes transmitted but not completed>
        Status:
          * timeout occured          + sequence error detected
      
         7983f+000000 ...u------------------------------------------------------------
      


    This takes a while. Be patient, it probably hasn't crashed. Probably.

    The slug will reboot, and now you can ssh into it to play. Use the username root, and the password opeNSLUg. At this point it's a useful computer, and you can keep it like this if you don't mind using ipkg for everything and dealing with the rather limited set of packages available. If you need pointers on where to go from here, then I recommend you try a turnup help on the command line, and play with ipkg update and it s friends ipkg list and ipkg install. There are more instructions here if you want them.


    Tags for this post: blog toys nslu2 firmware debian linux ipkg upslug upslug2
    Related posts: Why Debian?; What packages are taking all my disk?; Dear Lazyweb: how do I check SSL keys for vulnerability?; Samba and MacOS X 10.4 (Tiger); Old ImageMagick packages in Debian and Ubuntu; New ImageMagick uploaded to Debian Unstable

posted at: 18:23 | path: /diary/toys/nslu2 | permanent link to this entry


I promised pictures of my targets

posted at: 11:51 | path: /guns | permanent link to this entry


Is it good when the directors of your former employer start suing each other?

posted at: 07:40 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 14 Aug 2006



Collect the whole set

posted at: 13:44 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 13 Aug 2006



I don't think of myself as photogenic

posted at: 18:06 | path: /conference/scifoo06 | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 12 Aug 2006



The unabomber

posted at: 21:04 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Starfish Prime

    As for Starfish Prime, because there is almost no air at an altitude of 400 kilometres, no fireball formation occurred, although manifold other notable effects did occur. About 1500 kilometres (930 statute miles) away in Hawaii, the Electromagnetic pulse created by the explosion was felt as three hundred street lights failed, television sets and radios malfunctioned, burglar alarms went off and power lines fused. On Kauai, EMP shut down telephone calls to the other islands by burning out the equipment used in a microwave link. Also, the sky in the Pacific region was illuminated by an artificial aurora for more than seven minutes. In part, these effects were predicted by Nicholas Christofilos, a scientist who had earlier worked on the Operation Argus high-altitude nuclear shots.


    High altitude nuclear testing leads to interesting EMP effects, which is something I have known about for a while. There is good coverage of Starfish Prime at Wikipedia and some US government hearings on the issue are interesting too.

    Wow. Did they really break a bunch of satellites?

    While some of the energetic beta particles had followed of the earth's magnetic field and illuminated the sky, other high-energy electrons became trapped in man-made radiation belts around the earth. There was much uncertainty and debate about the composition, magnitude, and potential adverse effects from this trapped radiation after the detonation. The weaponeers became quite worried when three satellites in low earth orbit were disabled. These man-made radiation belts eventually crippled one-third of all satellites in low orbit. Seven satellites were destroyed as radiation knocked out their solar arrays or electronics, including the first commercial communication satellite ever, Telstar.


    Those are from the Wikipedia page. There is also another Wikipedia page on high altitude nuclear testing which discusses Russian efforts as well, including this gem:

    The Soviets detonated four high-altitude tests in 1961 and three in 1962. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, both the US and the USSR detonated several high-altitude nuclear explosions as a form of sabre-rattling. The Soviet tests were meant to demonstrate their anti-ballistic missile defences which would supposedly protect their major cities in the event of a nuclear war. The worst effects of a Russian high altitude test occurred on 22 October 1962 (during the Cuban missile crisis), in 'Operation K' (ABM System A proof tests) when a 300-kt missile-warhead detonated near Dzhezkazgan at 290-km altitude. The EMP fused 570 km of overhead telephone line with a measured current of 2,500 A, started a fire that burned down the Karaganda power plant, and shut down 1,000-km of shallow-buried power cables between Aqmola and Almaty [5]. The Partial Test Ban Treaty was passed the following year, ending atmospheric and exoatmospheric nuclear tests.


    Tags for this post: link nuclear testing emp hawaii
    Related posts: Random linkage; Rsyncing everything but the data; Random fact for the day; More nuclear bunkers; Nuclear accidents; Natural nuclear reactors

posted at: 20:32 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Nature's write up of SciFoo day one

posted at: 20:02 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


SciFoo 2006

posted at: 13:56 | path: /conference/scifoo06 | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 09 Aug 2006



The wreck of the dominator

posted at: 12:49 | path: /travel/usa/california/losangeles | permanent link to this entry


This is why I went to MythTV

posted at: 11:57 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 07 Aug 2006



Updated nuvexport patch

    To get nuvexport working with MythTV User Jobs as a transcoder, I needed to further modify my nuvexport patch to handle the fact that there is no controlling terminal for user jobs. Here is the new patch:

      Index: export/ffmpeg.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- export/ffmpeg.pm    (revision 242)
      +++ export/ffmpeg.pm    (working copy)
      @@ -70,11 +70,11 @@
           # Audio only?
               $self->{'audioonly'} = $audioonly;
           # Gather the supported codecs
      -        my $data      = `$ffmpeg -formats 2>/dev/null`;
      +        my $data      = `$ffmpeg -formats 2>&1`;
               my ($formats) = $data =~ /(?:^|\n\s*)File\sformats:\s*\n(.+?\n)\s*\n/s;
               my ($codecs)  = $data =~ /(?:^|\n\s*)Codecs:\s*\n(.+?\n)\s*\n/s;
               if ($formats) {
      -            while ($formats =~ /^\s(..)\s(\S+)\s*$/mg) {
      +            while ($formats =~ /^\s(.{2})\s(\S+).*$/mg) {
                       $self->formats'}{$2} = $1;
                   }
               }
      @@ -286,7 +286,7 @@
               push @tmpfiles, "/tmp/fifodir_$$", "/tmp/fifodir_$$/audout", "/tmp/fifodir_$$/vidout";
       
           # Execute ffmpeg
      -        print "Starting ffmpeg.\n" unless ($DEBUG);
      +        print "Starting ffmpeg: $ffmpeg\n" unless ($DEBUG);
               ($ffmpeg_pid, $ffmpeg_h) = fork_command("$ffmpeg 2>&1");
               $children{$ffmpeg_pid} = 'ffmpeg' if ($ffmpeg_pid);
       
      Index: export/ffmpeg/PSP.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- export/ffmpeg/PSP.pm        (revision 242)
      +++ export/ffmpeg/PSP.pm        (working copy)
      @@ -170,7 +170,8 @@
               $self->{'ffmpeg_xtra'}  = ' -b ' . $self->{'v_bitrate'}
                                        .' -bufsize 65535'
                                        .' -ab 32 -acodec aac'
      -                                 ." -f psp -title $safe_title";
      +                                 ." -f psp -title $safe_title"
      +                                 .' -ar 24000';
           # Execute the parent method
               $self->SUPER::export($episode, '.MP4');
       
      Index: nuv_export/shared_utils.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- nuv_export/shared_utils.pm  (revision 242)
      +++ nuv_export/shared_utils.pm  (working copy)
      @@ -66,7 +66,11 @@
               $termios->getattr;
               $OSPEED = $termios->getospeed;
           };
      -    our $terminal = Term::Cap->Tgetent({OSPEED=>OSPEED});
      +   
      +    my $terminal = Null; # This is the controlling terminal
      +    eval {
      +        $terminal = Term::Cap->Tgetent({OSPEED=>$OSPEED});
      +    };
       
       # Gather info about how many cpu's this machine has
           if (-e '/proc/cpuinfo') {
      @@ -85,7 +89,16 @@
       
       # Clear the screen
           sub clear {
      -        print $DEBUG ? "\n" : $terminal->Tputs('cl');
      +        print $terminal;
      +        if ($DEBUG) {
      +            print "\n";
      +        }
      +        elsif ($terminal ne Null ) {
      +            $terminal->Tputs('cl');
      +        }
      +        else {
      +            print "\n";
      +        }
           }
       
       # Byte swap a 32-bit number from little-endian to big-endian
      Index: nuv_export/ui.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- nuv_export/ui.pm    (revision 242)
      +++ nuv_export/ui.pm    (working copy)
      @@ -380,6 +380,7 @@
                   $count++;
                   $query .= (' ' x (3 - length($count)))."$count. ".$exporter->{'name'};
                   $query .= ' (disabled)' unless ($exporter->{'enabled'});
      +            $query .= "\n\t\tErrors: @{$exporter->{'errors'}}\n" unless ($exporter->{'enabled'});
                   $query .= "\n";
               }
               $query .= "\n  q. Quit\n\nChoose a function: ";
      


    You can download the patch from here.

    Update: Isn't it always the way? Once I had the patch posted I bothered to get a new SVN version, and noticed that some of my patches had been included there. Here's a new version of the nuvexport patch which will cleanly apply:

      Index: export/ffmpeg.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- export/ffmpeg.pm	(revision 271)
      +++ export/ffmpeg.pm	(working copy)
      @@ -300,7 +300,7 @@
                   $children{$cat_pid} = 'audio dump' if ($cat_pid);
               }
           # Execute ffmpeg
      -        print "Starting ffmpeg.\n" unless ($DEBUG);
      +        print "Starting ffmpeg: $ffmpeg\n" unless ($DEBUG);
               ($ffmpeg_pid, $ffmpeg_h) = fork_command("$ffmpeg 2>&1");
               $children{$ffmpeg_pid} = 'ffmpeg' if ($ffmpeg_pid);
       
      Index: export/ffmpeg/PSP.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- export/ffmpeg/PSP.pm	(revision 271)
      +++ export/ffmpeg/PSP.pm	(working copy)
      @@ -170,7 +170,8 @@
               $self->ffmpeg_xtra'}  = ' -b ' . $self->{'v_bitrate'}
                                        .' -bufsize 65535'
                                        .' -ab 32 -acodec aac'
      -                                 ." -f psp -title $safe_title";
      +                                 ." -f psp -title $safe_title"
      +                                 .' -ar 24000';
           # Execute the parent method
               $self->SUPER::export($episode, '.MP4');
       
      Index: nuv_export/shared_utils.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- nuv_export/shared_utils.pm	(revision 271)
      +++ nuv_export/shared_utils.pm	(working copy)
      @@ -66,7 +66,11 @@
               $termios->getattr;
               $OSPEED = $termios->getospeed;
           };
      -    our $terminal = Term::Cap->Tgetent({OSPEED=li>$OSPEED});
      +   
      +    my $terminal = Null; # This is the controlling terminal
      +    eval {
      +        $terminal = Term::Cap->Tgetent({OSPEED=>$OSPEED});
      +    };
       
       # Gather info about how many cpu's this machine has
           if (-e '/proc/cpuinfo') {
      @@ -85,7 +89,15 @@
       
       # Clear the screen
           sub clear {
      -        print $DEBUG ? "\n" : $terminal->Tputs('cl');
      +        if ($DEBUG) {
      +            print "\n";
      +        }
      +        elsif ($terminal ne Null ) {
      +            $terminal->Tputs('cl');
      +        }
      +        else {
      +            print "\n";
      +        }
           }
       
       # Byte swap a 32-bit number from little-endian to big-endian
      Index: nuv_export/ui.pm
      ===================================================================
      --- nuv_export/ui.pm	(revision 271)
      +++ nuv_export/ui.pm	(working copy)
      @@ -380,6 +380,7 @@
                   $count++;
                   $query .= (' ' x (3 - length($count)))."$count. ".$exporter->{'name'};
                   $query .= ' (disabled)' unless ($exporter->{'enabled'});
      +            $query .= "\n\t\tErrors: @{$exporter->{'errors'}}\n" unless ($exporter->{'enabled'});
                   $query .= "\n";
               }
               $query .= "\n  q. Quit\n\nChoose a function: ";
      
    You can download the patch as well.

    Tags for this post: mythtv nuvexport controlling terminal patch psp ipod transcode mythtv
    Related posts: PSP transcode working; The What-If-Microsoft-Did-The-iPod-Box video done by Microsoft; Procrastination; If you're a good admin monkey, then you can have one too; UMD a failure?; Transcoding using MythTV and the PSP

posted at: 22:08 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 05 Aug 2006



Phoenix, Guns, and Wikipedia

    I imagine that not everyone will approve of this post, but this site is about me and my travels, so you'll just have to get over that. For some time, David has been promising that next time I come to Phoenix he'd take me out shooting at a local firing range. This was my idea, although David seemed more than happy to facilitate my wild desire to hold a gun for the first time, let alone fire it. After some shopping around, we settled on the rather quaintly named Shooters' World. It's about a 20 minute drive from the office, but when you're in a city where a cool day is over 35 degrees Celsius, having an air conditioned range seemed like a good idea.

    After some fast talking, Chris (an ex-Marine) and yet another Michael (we have a large supply of those at work -- this one is from Santa Monica) agreed to come. I'm personally really glad of that, because I found it quite reassuring to have someone who fired guns for a living doing the training.

    Off we went to the firing range. The first gun I got to fire (I'm resisting using the word play, it seems like much to serious a topic to be light about), was the Springfield 1911 45 calibre. At the time that Chris was in the Marines this was apparently the standard issue Marine side arm, and it's a nice feeling weapon. It's got a clever safety too, you need to be squeezing the handle before you can fire. Here's a picture of the 1911 for the curious:



    The Springfield armoury has an interesting history by the way, and I should add it to the list of places I should visit, if I ever happen to be in Springfield, Massachusetts. The 1911 has an interesting history too, the basic design for this automatic pistol goes back to late 1890s. I must admit at this point that I was using a newer remake of the gun, not the exact gun from over 100 years ago.

    Next there was the Fabrique Nationale 57 USG, which at the time I thought was a bit pathetic because it fires very small rounds. It is disastrously accurate though, even for someone with no experience like me. When I get a chance I'll scan one of the targets I used and you'll see what I mean. When we all went back to the office and David did some Googling, it's interesting to note that this gun is by far the most controversial, as it's currently the target of a proposed ban. I guess that's not surprising, as it turns out the reason for the very thin rounds is because they pierce light body armour. To quote from the Wikipedia page:

    Conventional pistols usually use 9 x 19 mm, .45 ACP and similar cartridges that are effective for stopping a hostile individual in ordinary circumstances. However, FN argues that if that individual is wearing a light Kevlar vest, these bullets will be stopped without causing lethal damage. Such body armour is currently in use with over 50% of the world's armed forces. Law enforcement officers also need the ability to pierce body armour, as it is worn by an increasing number of criminals. FN claims that thanks to the use of their newly designed 5.7 x 28 mm cartridge, the Five-seveN is capable of piercing the older U.S. Army PASGT vest at 300 meters range, and a U.S. Army PASGT helmet at a range of 240 meters. However, these penetration statistics are for the military SS190 cartridge. Other available cartridge variants may not be armour-piercing, according to the BATFE.




    So, that's a pretty scary gun given it was by far the most accurate of all of those I fired, had the biggest clip, and isn't stopped by traditional armour. Oh, and did I mention that the gun is all plastic except for the barrel? Holy crap. The only real catch was that the barrel tended to over heat leaving the gun jammed after rapid firing. I imagine this could be annoying if you're feeling the need to use a gun for real. Chris suspects that it might just be because the range gun needed some love though.

    Next on the tour was the HK 45 calibre USP. This gun was terribly inaccurate (again, I'll put the scanned target online soon-ish), but seemed to do the job. It certainly looks the part as well:



    Finally, Chris had some strange out of body experience, and went back outside to pick up this thing:



    It came in a case labelled "the law giver", which should give some indication of how serious it is. This thing was crazy, it's heavy. Really heavy. That might have something to do with the fact that it's about a foot long. It's balance is weird, and it wants to point at the ground naturally. It's got a hair trigger, which makes it easy to fire accidentally if you've hand cocked the weapon. Oh, and it fires 50 calibre shells, which are mainly lead. The bullets were $1.50 US each if you bought a box, or $4 US each. Oh, and it's a Smith and Wesson Magnum 50 calibre model 500 for reference.

    The Magnum 50 calibre was totally terrifying to fire, let alone be the target of. First off, the recoil is huge, and my wrist hurt for about 30 minutes afterwards. Secondly, Chris isn't a small guy, and he was being pushed back a step each time he fired. Oh, and checkout the fireball it created when fired. Have I said holy crap already in this post? Oh, and the Magnum was almost instantly nicknamed "Mr Blasty", although Chris seemed to prefer just calling it a canon.

    So, does this make me a gun nut? The firing range was fun, and I will certainly go back sometime. I have no particular urge to have a gun at home (unless I get into sport shooting, when it would be cheaper, and nicer, but at that point I think I would store it at the firing range). Then again, apparently around 50% of Arizonian cars have a gun in them, presumably loaded. There were also two serial killers on the prowl while I was there, although they have now caught one of them.

    Oh, and a final point? I'm really surprised by the
    excellent gun coverage at Wikipedia. Wikipedia seems to always have more content that I could possibly need.

    Oh, and one other final point. I flew back with five 50 calibre shell casings in my hand luggage. I was impressed when the x-ray guy correctly identified the casings from the x-ray image, although he thought they came from the Israeli manufacturer Desert Eagle, which is also a 50 calibre pistol. It's strangely reassuring that the airport security folk can find things like this, although they seemed completely unconcerned (the Phoenix airport informational video suggests that if you're travelling with guns to put them under the plane, so this sort of thing must be fairly common).

    Tags for this post: guns arizona phoenix firing range hand gun pistol usp
    Related posts: Back in Phoenix again; I promised pictures of my targets; Phoenix for business; Back in Phoenix; I wonder if that paraglider has any drugs?; Full Auto

posted at: 13:45 | path: /guns | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 30 Jul 2006



On a bunker kick

posted at: 19:32 | path: /travel/australia/canberra | permanent link to this entry


Back in Phoenix

posted at: 18:44 | path: /travel/usa/arizona/tempe/phoenix | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 29 Jul 2006



The Greenbrier bunker opens for tours!

posted at: 20:51 | path: /travel/usa/westvirginia | permanent link to this entry


Nice touch

    Ok, so I don't know about you, but pretty much the only time I have a copy of Windows these days is when I take delivery of a new laptop like I did this morning, before I get around to installing Linux on it. To verify that my download and cdrecord had produced something valid, I just stuck the Ubuntu Dapper CD I just made into the CD ROM drive on this Windows laptop.

    It's really cool. It launches an application with the autorun stuff on Windows, and then offers to let me install open source on the Windows partition. It's like a small version of the OpenCD (and was in fact done with their help). Applications it offers to install:

    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Mozilla Thunderbird
    • Abiword
    • Gaim
    • The Gimp


    It's a nice touch that the CD can be used for this sort of thing as well. Like all ideas, it's so obvious now that I've seen it done, and it makes me wonder why other distros haven't been doing this for a while.

    Another on Mikal's rocks list for the day -- Ubuntu.

    Tags for this post: linux ubuntu windows opensource installer
    Related posts: HP iPaq GPS FA256A; Getting ASP.NET working on Windows XP Tablet PC edition; Foxtel iQ launch; Leon, get with the program; Windows Vista, now with nagging; Names for longhorn

posted at: 15:07 | path: /linux/ubuntu | permanent link to this entry


Computers, why do I trust you?

posted at: 14:56 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 27 Jul 2006



Solutions for the pollution of a social network?

posted at: 18:39 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 25 Jul 2006



Debian / Ubuntu packaging

posted at: 08:13 | path: /linux/ubuntu | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 24 Jul 2006



Hmmm, even more Police Academy

posted at: 10:19 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 23 Jul 2006



I got MythBurn working!

posted at: 15:37 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Did I mention it's hot here?

posted at: 09:16 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 22 Jul 2006



I-94s at the airport

posted at: 19:55 | path: /travel/usa/airlines | permanent link to this entry


Hmmm, this seems a little bit too much like a Police Academy movie to make me comfortable

posted at: 10:05 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Car engine diagnostics

posted at: 09:33 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 20 Jul 2006



Catherine had her wisdom teeth out today

posted at: 20:23 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 17 Jul 2006



Cadbury doesn't own purple?

posted at: 12:50 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 14 Jul 2006



Man tripping on LSD thinks he's a bridge troll

posted at: 16:19 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 12 Jul 2006



What is the point that people's morals evaporate?

posted at: 13:56 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 09 Jul 2006



What would you ask Mr T if you met him Starbucks?

posted at: 20:16 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


How to lay people off

posted at: 20:09 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Goat demoted

posted at: 15:27 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


It seems to me that most people don't save enough for retirement

posted at: 14:30 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Bear dines on pizza and beer in vintage car near Tahoe

posted at: 14:23 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 05 Jul 2006



Bike maintenance

    I've been noticing that the ride to and from work has been becoming more and more effort. At first I thought it was just that I am getting slacker in my old age or something, but tonight on the way home I noticed that the rear tire was looking a little squooshed when I sat on the bike. I therefore gave in and performed some basic bike maintenance tonight -- removed the 5mm of mud from the frame (pretty good given it hasn't rained here in months), the general layer of dirt and grime on everything, and the grease buildup I get on the rear wheel which I assume is caused by the grease from the rear hub). I checked the tire pressure as well... It was a third of what it should have been, so hopefully I am staring down the barrel of a much lower rolling resistance.

    Tags for this post: bike maintenance
    Related posts: New server

posted at: 21:20 | path: /bike | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 04 Jul 2006



Amazon author bio

posted at: 17:52 | path: /bio | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 03 Jul 2006



Online license plate simulators

posted at: 12:54 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Comment spam again

    As In Search of L33t says, comment spam can be a large scale annoyance. In L33t's words:

    I am promising myself I am going to start blogging more. The main problem is that I am so tired of blog spam. Even with the comments turned off I am still getting blog spam. It depresses me a little to see so many blog comments that have absolutely nothing to do with my topics.


    I have similar blog spam levels:

      mikal@daedalus:~/blog-comments$ du -sh
      79M     .
      mikal@daedalus:~/blog-comments$ find . -type f -name "*.no" | wc -l
      6064
      mikal@daedalus:~/blog-comments$ find . -type f -name "*.blocked" | wc -l
      4778
      mikal@daedalus:~/blog-comments$ find . -type f -name "*.yes" | wc -l
      483
      


    Yes, that really is 79 meg of blog comments (admittedly including the metadata for recent comments). The most interesting bit is that blocked line. That's the number of posts which have been automatically blocked since I started automatically blocking some posters. It's been really effective, I get around one or two comment spams in my email for moderation a day now. The super secret algorithm? I block these IP addresses:

      84.19.184.26
      85.255.117.250
      203.142.1.182
      202.71.106.121
      85.249.136.194
      202.76.235.6
      202.75.62.79
      202.75.49.130
      202.75.49.134
      202.75.49.133
      202.75.49.131
      193.87.17.120
      


    I recommend others give it a try, as it's eliminated basically all of my comment spam. That's right, it appears to me that almost all comment spam comes from these few IPs.

    Tags for this post: blog spam comment block ip filter
    Related posts: Hmmm, me no likee spam; Sorry to those commenters; 26 spammy blog comments in one day; Implementing parental filters with MythTV; I do delete comments, but only some; Procmail filtering mailing list traffic, by magic

posted at: 12:37 | path: /diary/spam | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 30 Jun 2006



Belkin UPS

    Three of the last four weekends I have woken to the house having been reset by a power failure at about 7am. Last weekend, Catherine was so annoyed she rang the local power company, who claimed that a squirrel had fried itself in the power lines. Finally fed up, I have purchased the cheapest UPS I could find which seemed to be up to my power requirements. It's the $40 USD Belkin 200 watt 375VA UPS. It's a USB device for the purpose of managing shutdown, and there doesn't appear to be a linux driver. The USB device identifier is "050d:0375 Belkin Components" and I'll keep you posted if I find a driver.

    Tags for this post: blog toys belkin ups linux
    Related posts: Via M10000, video, and a Belkin wireless USB thing

posted at: 21:36 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 29 Jun 2006



Gordon's in Texas

    Gordon is in Texas and having a ball, which is good to hear. His picture is quite cool too. He points out some interesting aspects of America in the post as well. Let's work through them one at a time together:

    • I haven't stayed in a Best Western yet, but so far I would have to say that the hotels I have stayed in have all been pretty good. Now, that might be because I am willing to spend money on hotels, but I think it's also because it's so easy here to change hotel if the first one sucks. For example, the hotel I stayed in in Portland had a many in a silly hat:



    • I have also seen churched with threatening signs, again in Portland for me. It seems to me that perhaps the clergy don't want to be too bothered by the huddled masses?



    • Parking places with funny little boxes to poke money I thought was a Pacific northwest thing (as I've seen them in Oregon and Washington). It's reassuring to know that other parts of the country have these too.

    • And yes, in general people here are wonderfully friendly.


    Oh, and Gordon, don't forget to checkout The Capitol Steps sometime. They perform in a federal building, which means there are metal detectors and armed guards on the way into a theatre, and they're very funny if you're into political satire. One of my personal favourites would have to be the excellent garbled speeches although they are really known for their singing.

    Also, I need your written report on the national mall, and the Smithsonians.

    Tags for this post: travel usa texas

posted at: 10:10 | path: /travel/usa/texas | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 28 Jun 2006



Feedster Top 500

posted at: 21:12 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Color ebook!

posted at: 20:42 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Exciting news

    Today email arrived with the contract for my second book (following on from The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick). This one is a still-secret project hatched with Stewart Smith, and I don't want to mention the topic in public just yet. There are two reasons for that -- there's always a risk that the whole project will be a massive train wreck, and because Stewart and I haven't talked yet about how we want to do the announcement. This book will be done with Apress, which I guess means that I thought they were pretty good to work with the first time.

    Anyway, just keeping you up to date on the gossip...

    Tags for this post: book second
    Related posts: On the potentially sorry state of second hand science fiction book stores in Sydney

posted at: 19:48 | path: /book | permanent link to this entry


419 scammer conned into carving wood

posted at: 17:25 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 27 Jun 2006



Holy crap!

posted at: 18:18 | path: /google | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 24 Jun 2006



Our random adventure

    I've been oncall for a while, and therefore tethered to the network. We broke this tether today by driving down to Half Moon Bay, California (past the pony ride place we should stop at sometime in the future), and turning left. There were four or five state beaches along the road, two of which we stopped at. The first wasn't anything special, but the second was quite nice.

    The second beach was in fact nice enough for Andrew to ditch all his clothes and go for a swim. The water was very cold. I wont be putting the naked four year old photos online I suspect. Anyway, we had a play on the beach, and got to try to stop the kids just before they ran off the unstable cliff.

    Further down the road was a lighthouse (Pigeon Point Lighthouse), which was cool. The best bit was the cliff views around the area, and it would have been nice to spend more time there, but the kids were getting tired. We packed up and headed back the way we had come, although we were only thirty or fourty miles from Santa Cruz at this point.

    We stopped off on Fry's on the way home, and had a layover at the apartment before heading out to dinner at Denny's. I wouldn't mention the dinner except for me winning each of the kids a stuffed toy from one of those grabber robot games. I guess that makes me the best father ever or something.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060624 photo

posted at: 21:18 | path: /events/pictures/20060624 | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 23 Jun 2006



Why software companies should be like Inca Kola, not Pepsi

    I was reading an interesting blog post on Boing Boing the other day that got me thinking. The post is a link to the Wikipedia page on Inca Kola and how the Pepsi challenge destroyed Pepsi in Peru. From the article on Wikipedia:

    In the 1980s, Pepsi's infamous "Pepsi Challenge" (El Reto Pepsi) campaign helped to virtually destroy the Pepsi brand in Peru, due in large part to the fact that consumers do not enjoy being told they're wrong. The campaign was quite simple actually: Tasting centers were set up in and around Lima where people could freely participate in a blind taste test between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Attendees were presented with two covered bottles and two glasses, each bottle was opened and poured into its respective glass, whereupon the tester was asked to drink each and declare his or her favorite, but not before being asked which they preferred and drank regularly.

    The campaign was a disaster, three results came from the testing, all detrimental to Pepsi: 1) People were angered by the fact that they were "wrong" in their choice and abandoned Pepsi, switching to either Coca-Cola or Inca Kola; 2) Those who chose Coca-Cola over Pepsi either switched to or stayed with Coca-Cola; 3) Those who were ambivalent between them cemented their ambivalence and switched to Inca Kola. Additionally, the costs of the Pepsi Challenge, which started to run into the millions of US dollars, coupled with managerial mistakes left CEPSA virtually bankrupt.


    Thinking about this, I think it applies to the software industry too. Specifically my previous employer, TOWER Software (yes, they really do shout the name). Bear with me for a second while I explain my premise...

    Firstly, TOWER has recently implemented a SDK support wiki. This is actually a relatively innovative idea, I can't think of any other commercial software products which have wikis for their product support (although I am sure someone will point out how wrong I am now that I've written this). It is common for open source products, but it's that sense of community that all software products can benefit from.

    Now I hear from Lindsay that the wiki has been locked down. You need to request an account before you can access the content (let alone edit it, we're talking about it being locked down for reading as well). The user creation process seems to involve making sure that you don't really work for a competitor, and that you're a customer.

    To me, this is like the Pepsi challenge. Locking down the documentation makes two assumptions -- that TOWER's competitors don't already have access to the documentation (I am sure that their either don't know that TOWER exists, like Alfresco chap I spoke to at the MySQL User's conference, or already have access to the documentation (there is a lot of cross pollination in the industry)). Now, why would other companies want access to the documentation?

    Reason for spying on someone else's documentation Number One

    Perhaps the other companies think that if they have access to the documentation they can use that information to tell prospective customers that TOWER's product sucks. In my experience this is the dumbest thing a sales person can ever do... Would you buy a product from someone who can only sell their product by saying that someone else's is worse? Surely you want products from thought leaders (I hate that term), not someone on the defensive? It's like the Linux companies from the 1990s who solely advertised on the bassi that their product sucked less than Microsoft's. None of those companies exist any more, because it's just not a compelling way of selling. They should have been put there explaining how customers could save money and do more with less. That's the sales technique which works today, and that's because it's about Linux's value, not the evils of the competition.

    Reason for spying on someone else's documentation Number Two

    This is the Pepsi challenge bit. I can imagine that there are super secret product things on the wiki, and that they're worried that competitors might steal their product ideas. This is perhaps sillier than the previous reason. Let's think about this. I can take a product and mimic it with my own. I can then market it as a cheaper version, and perhaps I'll win a small amount of market share, but in return for a lot of work to emulate someone else's ideas with their legacy in that area. I would be much better coming up with something original.

    People don't tend to be interested in incremental changes to what they already have from someone other than the original supplier. The incumbent is likely to provide those as a minor upgrade really soon anyways, and there is a lot less risk staying with the what you know. It's like Mark Shuttleworth said in his keynote at the MySQL Users conference, which was something along the lines of "I don't like investing in companies which say they want to be the next "Microsoft" or whatever. I invest in companies which want to change the market by providing something new, and fantastic." (That's a paraphrase, please don't sue me). It's all about disruptive technologies -- they seem to be the ones which end up producing wildly successful companies.

    So back to the Pepsi challenge. It's like Peru -- customers don't like being told they're wrong, and if the products are too similar, then people will stay with what they know.

    Hmmmm. That MySQL conference seems to have provided some good writing material. I should let it mulch in the back of my brain more often.

    By that argument, it's better to let TOWER's competitors see the documentation, in the hope that they will copy it, and therefore shoot themselves in the foot.

    So what should they do?

    There is one tactic which hasn't been tried yet, and I think it's worth giving it a go. TOWER should embrace a public wiki. They should work with their customers to help them use the product, and they should accept the ideas and investment that comes from having users who are passionate enough about the product to hang out on the wiki. Having a lot more content online will also make the product much more discoverable online, which can only be a good thing.

    They should go further though. TOWER currently employes people to write white papers which are handed to customers. Let's be honest though, no one actually reads those things. When was the last time you read a white paper instead of web surfing, watching TV, or playing with the kids? Instead, those people should be working on improving public understanding of the industry, so the whole market grows? This could include putting content on places like Wikipedia, industry web sites and so forth. Those articles can of course include TOWER's product as an example, but competing products should be mentioned too. In other words, we're talking unbiased genuine content which helps the world. Which is how I would describe the Wikipedia ECM page but not the Wikipedia TRIM Context page.

    Conclusion

    This is a call to arms for TOWER to reopen their wiki, and embrace the community instead of running scared from it. What sort of company should be scared of their customers (be they either present or future)? Get out there TOWER and create some content! You have a great product, so why are you sitting on the edge of the dance floor? Get out there and do the rumba!


    TOWER walks away from their public wiki


    (I am a former employee of TOWER, and have many friends who still work there. I have no ill feelings towards TOWER, and am in fact still an investor. I now work for a potentially competing company, so bear that in mind.)

    Tags for this post: blog company documentation public pepsi challenge
    Related posts: On documentation; On the slowness of xmlto again; VTA station for the Santa Clara Convention Center; Open Source document management from Alfresco; Linux kernel manual pages

posted at: 22:46 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 21 Jun 2006



Work went on an adventure

    My team and some ring-ins went for an adventure to Napa Valley, which is a winery district about two hours away from Mountain View (and about an hour away from San Francisco) for a little team building thing. There were two choices, a winery tour in which you get to blend your own merlot, or paintball.

    I've been paintballing before, so I figured I'd go the winery route, which I really enjoyed. There was a tour of the big wine vat thingies (a bit boring) and a cave system which the winery made to age their wine in (that was fun). Then we mixed the merlot, which involved a lot of plastic implements, squinting, tasting, and general mess making. Lots of mess.

    Looking at Sean's generally painty state, and Armando's wounds after paintball, I think I made the right decision. Anyway, a good day, and I'm grateful that Shoshana took the time to organize it.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060615-offsite photo

posted at: 10:21 | path: /events/pictures/20060615-offsite | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 20 Jun 2006



Did everyone else know this?

posted at: 13:54 | path: /bash | permanent link to this entry


Apparently I should pay more attention to pingomatic

posted at: 09:27 | path: /pingomatic | permanent link to this entry


Mental note: Don't ride unicycle in the snow without chains

posted at: 09:21 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Bluetooth GPS data logger

posted at: 09:19 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 19 Jun 2006



Surprise for the day: Australian beer is cheaper in the US than in Australia


    Image stolen from Woolworth's Homeshop
    My two favourite Australian beers would have to be Coopers Pale Ale, and the Malt Shovel Brewery Amber Ale. In fact, I am half way through a MSB now, which might explain my terrible spelling in this post. Then again, it might also be that I've been working away for 12 hours now. Anyways, back to the story... Since moving to the US I have been subsisting on these terrible American beers that they have around here. Some of the micro-brews are ok-ish, and Sierra Nevada is better than a punch in the face, but they're really nothing special. For a start, their weak. On the non-micro-brew front, I recommend Coors if you're in a no-beer emergency and you have to get something mainstream.

    The other fall back drinking plan has been to develop a taste for Margaritas, which we have been serving in 500 mil pint glasses for effect.

    Anyway, back to the story... So yesterday Catherine and the kids and I ventured out to try to fix this. BevMo was rumoured to have Australian beers, and I thought it might be worth a try. The exciting news is that it turns out that BevMo's Australian beer options (my two favourites included) are cheaper here than in Australia. Both are available for $6.99 US ($9.42 Australian as I write this), compared with $13.98 in Australia for a six pack in Canberra.

    Hurrah for international trade!


    Tags for this post: travel usa australian beer bevmo
    Related posts: Beer fridge controller 0.3; Beer fridge controller 0.2; Australian Commonwealth Government expenditure on Microsoft product licensing; Home power measurement; Beer fridge controller 0.1; The Beer Fridge saga continues

posted at: 21:18 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


We get E-3 visa spam now?

posted at: 15:44 | path: /diary/spam | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 12 Jun 2006



Hmmm, me no likee spam

posted at: 19:34 | path: /diary/spam | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 11 Jun 2006



Build your own cables

posted at: 20:19 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 04 Jun 2006



Photos of the Google Mountain View Campus at night

posted at: 21:42 | path: /diary/pictures/20060604-charlieballowe | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 03 Jun 2006



Blog comment spam

    I occasionally comment on the amount of comment spam I get here. But I felt further analysis might be a good idea, so I am not logging as much information as possible about the commenter when they submit a comment. This dump below I find fairly interesting (it's for approximately the last 24 hours).

      mikal@daedalus:~/blog-comments$ find . -type f -name *.info -exec cat {} \; | \
      grep REMOTE_ADDR | sort | uniq -c | sort -n
            2 REMOTE_ADDR = 85.255.117.250
            3 REMOTE_ADDR = 203.142.1.182
            5 REMOTE_ADDR = 202.71.106.121
            8 REMOTE_ADDR = 202.75.62.79
            9 REMOTE_ADDR = 202.75.49.130
           11 REMOTE_ADDR = 202.76.235.6
           12 REMOTE_ADDR = 202.75.49.131
           13 REMOTE_ADDR = 202.75.49.134
           16 REMOTE_ADDR = 202.75.49.133
      mikal@daedalus:~/blog-comments$ 
      


    I wonder if blocking specific IPs would help the spam level, or if stopping comments on some posts would help? There certainly seem to be some "hot spot" posts:

      264: /home/mikal/blog-comments/travel/usa/california/santaclara/000003
      179: /home/mikal/blog-comments/diary/lca2005/000029
      170: /home/mikal/blog-comments/linux/000038
      158: /home/mikal/blog-comments/diary/000796
      134: /home/mikal/blog-comments/diary/000795
      92: /home/mikal/blog-comments/pdfdb/000001
      87: /home/mikal/blog-comments/link/000065
      81: /home/mikal/blog-comments/diary/toys/000001
      79: /home/mikal/blog-comments/travel/usa/000006
      70: /home/mikal/blog-comments/diary/toys/mp101/pymediaserver/000001
      


    I think I will ponder more.

    Tags for this post: blog spam comment
    Related posts: Hmmm, me no likee spam; Sorry to those commenters; 26 spammy blog comments in one day; I do delete comments, but only some; Defending myself from the wrath of the Chris; An occasional rant about spam

posted at: 19:36 | path: /diary/spam | permanent link to this entry


Book reviews

posted at: 19:25 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Zoolander

    Seen for the first time last night. Stupid but funny.

    Tags for this post: blog movies

posted at: 19:19 | path: /diary/movies | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 28 May 2006



Two things

posted at: 18:34 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Poorly researched creatives

    A creative is advertising speak for the copy used for an advertising campaign. For reasons too complicated to explain now, I was just browsing the TiVo pre-canned creatives, and came across this gem:



    Which is really quite clever. However, this one shows that they've never watched the show in question:



    In the show, Blue is a dog, who leaves clues for either Joe or Steve (depending on which series you're watching). So, Blue never gets clues, she gives them. Also, Blue is singular, and there is normally an apostrophe involved. A better line would have been "you decide when Blue sets her clues". Just my random nit for the day.

    TiVo's pre-canned creatives may be found here.

    Update: I too suck. Apparently Blue is a girl, although I've seen many episodes and don't recall this being mentioned. I apologise to my wife for any emotional distress caused.

    Tags for this post: blog tivo advertising creative nitpick
    Related posts: Foxtel iQ launch; Extended Stay Hotels -- shame on you; This is why I went to MythTV; Peter Vogel's latest gig; What constitutes a popular blog?; Traffic based linkage spam?

posted at: 17:27 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 27 May 2006



How to annoy mod chip makers

posted at: 20:29 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


It seems to me

posted at: 18:05 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 22 May 2006



Phoenix for business

posted at: 15:57 | path: /travel/usa/arizona/phoenix | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 18 May 2006



Rich!

posted at: 19:33 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 16 May 2006



Mental note: get an eccentric father

posted at: 21:30 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Historical revisionism

posted at: 07:48 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 15 May 2006



Walking to work

    I've been wondering how long it would take to walk to work for a while, so I thought I would give it a go this morning. The answer is 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. Some factoids:

    • It's 3,500 steps from my house to Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus
    • Another 1,000 steps an you're at the computer history museum
    • Another 1,000 steps gets you to a Google cafe
    • It's 5,800 steps total to my desk


    Tags for this post: blog walk work

posted at: 10:09 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 14 May 2006



Met: Louie Bellson

posted at: 13:16 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 12 May 2006



Base lining my legs

    Work issued me with a pedometer, so I figured that the first step was to determine how far I am walking a day with no lifestyle changes, and then determine what I want to do from there (if anything). The goal is apparently 10,000 steps a day, but having talked to the Google doctor it seems that the goal is more to have an hour of cardio activity each day. Somehow I will have to combine this with riding. Anyways, on to the numbers for the baseline week:

    DayDistanceNotes
    Friday4,693This was a half day -- I picked up the pedometer at lunch
    Saturday3,724Trapped in the house because I was on call
    Sunday4,495Trapped again...
    Monday4,459 
    Tuesday3,952 
    Wednesday6,438 
    Thursday5,101 


    So, not too shabby, and I think these numbers are ok if I am riding those days as well. I wasn't riding though because I don't ride when I am on call. Therefore, I should think about walking more on the days when I don't ride into work.

    Tags for this post: blog pedometer steps

posted at: 10:13 | path: /diary/pedometer | permanent link to this entry


Kit cars

posted at: 09:58 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 10 May 2006



Greg likes MySQL cluster, oh and Stewart's talk

posted at: 22:01 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 08 May 2006



Twisted conch

posted at: 09:55 | path: /python/twisted | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 07 May 2006



Proposition 82

posted at: 20:20 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 06 May 2006



Interesting: Vote on other sites with your links

posted at: 15:40 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


On documentation

    I seem to be spending a lot of time recently writing documentation. I mouthed off at a coworker that I could write something up for him in a "couple of weeks" which would be fine because I had about 15 hours mentally allocated to the project. A month later, and I am still working on it. I haven't spent the 15 hours yet, so perhaps that's no so bad. I have spent the majority of the last two days on it though, so I guess I should finish it up soon. Unfortunately, the document is at around 15 pages so far, and is nowhere near finished. Hmmmm.

    Tags for this post: blog documentation
    Related posts: Why software companies should be like Inca Kola, not Pepsi; On the slowness of xmlto again; Linux kernel manual pages

posted at: 15:27 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 05 May 2006



Buy Toshiba!

posted at: 15:30 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


MySQL Tech Talks

    Three intrepid MySQLers came to Google after the user conference to give internal tech talks. They were kind enough to agree to us hosting them for other people to see. The first two are up, so I'll mention those now, and put a link to the last one when it's available...

    Click on the thumbnail to be taken to the video.

    Jay Pipes is a co-author of the recently published Pro MySQL (Apress, 2005), which covers all of the newest MySQL 5 features, as well as in-depth discussion and analysis of the MySQL server architecture, storage engines, transaction processing, benchmarking, and advanced SQL scenarios. You can also see his name on articles appearing in Linux Magazine and can read more articles about MySQL at his website. Jay Pipes is MySQL's Community Relations Manager for North America.

    Learn where to best focus your attention when tuning the performance of your applications and database servers, and how to effectively find the "low hanging fruit" on the tree of bottlenecks. It's not rocket science, but with a bit of acquired skill and experience, and of course good habits, you too can do this magic!


    Timour Katchaounov

    The first part of this talk describes the main principles behind MySQL's query optimiser and execution engine, how the optimiser transforms queries into executable query plans, what these plans look like, and how they are executed. The second part of the talk describes the major improvements in the query engine of MySQL 5.0, and how these improvements can benefit the users of MySQL 5.0. The "greedy" optimiser reduces compilation time for big queries with orders of magnitude. The "index merge" access method provides a way to use more than one index for the same query. For faster plan execution and to allow better join orders, the 5.0 optimiser transforms most outer joins into inner joins. The outer joins that cannot be transformed into inner ones are executed in a pipeline manner, so that no intermediate results need to be materialised. Finally, some GROUP BY and DISTINCT queries can be executed much faster thanks to "loose index scan" technique that reads only a fraction of an index. The talk concludes with the near-future plans for new features coming in the next versions of MySQL.



    Stewart Smith works for MySQL AB as a software engineer working on MySQL Cluster. He is an active member of the free and open source software community, especially in Australia. Although Australian, he does not dress like Steve Irwin—although if he wrestled crocodiles he probably would. He is a fan of great coffee, great beer, and is currently 39,000 feet above sea level.

    part 1 - Introduction to MySQL Cluster The NDB storage engine (MySQL Cluster) is a high-availability storage engine for MySQL. It provides synchronous replication between storage nodes and many mysql servers having a consistent view of the database. In 4.1 and 5.0 it's a main memory database, but in 5.1 non-indexed attributes can be stored on disk. NDB also provides a lot of determinism in system resource usage. I'll talk a bit about that.

    part 2 - new features in 5.1 including cluster to cluster replication, disk based data and a bunch of other things. anybody that is attending the mysql users conference may find this eerily familiar.

    I can also talk about latest-and-totally-greatest developments and future stuff we're working on. i can also take questions and constructive abuse :)


    You can see a complete list of the MySQL tech talks at Google here.

    Update: added Stewart's talk now that it is online.

    Tags for this post: mysql google tech talk performance optimiser sql
    Related posts: Seth Godin at Google; Renaming mbot to gtalkbot; Blather, an open source Twitter work-alike for Blosxom and Google Talk; Worst timing evar!; A MythTV Jabber bot; Seth Godin

posted at: 10:06 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 04 May 2006



Interesting quote

posted at: 14:01 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 02 May 2006



Dirty wheel rims

    It turns out that it basically doesn't rain in California in the summer (or so I am assured by the people at work), so now that the weather is nice again I have been riding to work at lot more. I am suffering from a problem I hadn't considered though, mainly because I normally only ride on paved surfaces.

    About 10% of my work commute is across a car park with dirt roads, and they are producing a lot of dust. Apart from making the bike dirty (which isn't so bad), the wheel rims are being coated in enough dust for there to be noticeable abrasion noises when I brake after the dirt road stretch of my ride.

    This must be a common problem for mountain bikes, so, what should I do about it? I imagine that at worst it's shortening the life of my rims marginally, but I'm not massively concerned as my current rims are cheap ones anyway. Apart from wiping the rims down each evening, is there anything else I can and should be doing?

    Tags for this post: bike dust wheel rim abrasion mountain
    Related posts: Random linkage; devpi as a pip cache; Water, wheels, tyres (tires?) and computers; Did you know...; Wanted: a rear wheel bike computer; Mountain View WiFi

posted at: 14:41 | path: /bike | permanent link to this entry


State of the computing book market

posted at: 10:23 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 01 May 2006



Lego Mindstorms NXT and open source

posted at: 16:29 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 30 Apr 2006



Steven Colbert, will you marry me?

posted at: 10:09 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 28 Apr 2006



In case of Viking invaders

posted at: 21:05 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 26 Apr 2006



Nuclear accidents

posted at: 17:50 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 25 Apr 2006



Thoughts on the first day of the MySQL user's conference

    So, I attended the first day of the MySQL user's conference yesterday, which was the tutorial day. Overall I was fairly impressed. Registration was easy, the actual rooms presentations are given in are comfortable, the PA system seemed to work after some initial problems in the morning tutorial I attended.

    The conference center seems to be big on retirees hanging around, which I thought was weird. Each room comes with a little old lady, whose job appears to be to read a fiction novel at the door. I really have no idea what else they were achieving. They seemed to be having fun though. I did find it a bit odd that the only drinks provided by the catering staff during the day were acidic, and most of them caffinated. For example, we had choices between coffee, tea, soda water, coke, diet coke, pepsi and diet pepsi. Some fruit juice or even plain water would have been a nice change by the end of the day.

    The food was good, unless you're a vegan like Stewart at which time the catering staff looked confused and had to go off and get him something special (which didn't look all that special to me when it came ten minutes later). If that happens again today, then I might try to talk him into just going to a restaurant for lunch with me.

    The first tutorial I attended was about MySQL cluster, and to be honest I kinda lost interest at the point where I found out that the database currently has to store all of it's data in RAM. That basically renders it unusable for anyone with a large-ish database. The speaker did a good job in adverse circumstances such as the PA system initially not working, and trying to speak in a language which is not his native tongue in a room which was very wide. I do think that he needed to clamp down harder on the irrelevant, repetitive and self serving questions though. It seemed to me that there were a fair few people in the room who viewed the conference as their chance to get someone else to fix their problems at work. Whilst it's fair to go to a conference to ask advice on problems you're having, I do think that some research prior to attending (or even using the wireless during the conference) is a good idea, and that you shouldn't interrupt the flow of a talk to ask your tangential questions.

    The second tutorial was by a Yahoo, and was on MySQL replication. It was excellent -- well prepared, relevant to what I am caring about at the moment, coherent, and flowed well. Jeremy and Eric did a great job (slides from the talk). I hung around at the end to try to offer them beer, but they were swamped by fans who didn't appear to want to leave. I'll have to chase them down today sometime to make the offer.

    Overall, not a perfect start to the conference, but I thought the day was very useful. A good first day.

    Tags for this post: mysql conference mysqluc2006 conference open source sre
    Related posts: I won a radio shark and headphones!; Conference Wireless not working yet?; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk; Registered for MySQL User Conference 2006; MythTV talk at Google; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk

posted at: 14:45 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


Thoughts on the first day of the MySQL user's conference

    So, I attended the first day of the MySQL user's conference yesterday, which was the tutorial day. Overall I was fairly impressed. Registration was easy, the actual rooms presentations are given in are comfortable, the PA system seemed to work after some initial problems in the morning tutorial I attended.

    The conference center seems to be big on retirees hanging around, which I thought was weird. Each room comes with a little old lady, whose job appears to be to read a fiction novel at the door. I really have no idea what else they were achieving. They seemed to be having fun though. I did find it a bit odd that the only drinks provided by the catering staff during the day were acidic, and most of them caffinated. For example, we had choices between coffee, tea, soda water, coke, diet coke, pepsi and diet pepsi. Some fruit juice or even plain water would have been a nice change by the end of the day.

    The food was good, unless you're a vegan like Stewart at which time the catering staff looked confused and had to go off and get him something special (which didn't look all that special to me when it came ten minutes later). If that happens again today, then I might try to talk him into just going to a restaurant for lunch with me.

    The first tutorial I attended was about MySQL cluster, and to be honest I kinda lost interest at the point where I found out that the database currently has to store all of it's data in RAM. That basically renders it unusable for anyone with a large-ish database. The speaker did a good job in adverse circumstances such as the PA system initially not working, and trying to speak in a language which is not his native tongue in a room which was very wide. I do think that he needed to clamp down harder on the irrelevant, repetitive and self serving questions though. It seemed to me that there were a fair few people in the room who viewed the conference as their chance to get someone else to fix their problems at work. Whilst it's fair to go to a conference to ask advice on problems you're having, I do think that some research prior to attending (or even using the wireless during the conference) is a good idea, and that you shouldn't interrupt the flow of a talk to ask your tangential questions.

    The second tutorial was by a Yahoo, and was on MySQL replication. It was excellent -- well prepared, relevant to what I am caring about at the moment, coherent, and flowed well. Jeremy and Eric did a great job (slides from the talk). I hung around at the end to try to offer them beer, but they were swamped by fans who didn't appear to want to leave. I'll have to chase them down today sometime to make the offer.

    Overall, not a perfect start to the conference, but I thought the day was very useful. A good first day.

    Tags for this post: mysql mysqluc conference open source
    Related posts: I won a radio shark and headphones!; Conference Wireless not working yet?; MythTV talk at Google; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk; I'm getting fed up

posted at: 14:45 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


Tangential research to my own

posted at: 14:19 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Links from Rasmus' PHP talk

posted at: 14:09 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


Links from Rasmus' PHP talk

posted at: 14:09 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


My first sighting of the ImageMagick book in the wild

posted at: 11:18 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


I won a radio shark and headphones!

posted at: 10:38 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


I won a radio shark and headphones!

posted at: 10:38 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


MySQL Workbench

posted at: 09:11 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


MySQL Workbench

posted at: 09:11 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


Ohhh, space junk

posted at: 08:29 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


What US address should I give?

posted at: 08:20 | path: /travel/usa/relocation | permanent link to this entry


Relocating to the US, some issues to consider

    A fair few people have asked me about relocating to the US from Australia, so I figured it was time to do a little write up. Specifically the question I want to consider here is "how much do I need to earn to live in the US?". I didn't really know the answer to that when I moved, and simply moved in the faith that I would be able to afford to live. At the time it was stressful, but it's all worked out for the best. So, let's try to answer that question...

    Visa status

    What visa are you going to be on when you live in the US? There are three main versions that I can think of off the top of my head. There is the E-3, which is what I am on, which allows your spouse to work if he wants, but is only open to Australian citizens. There is the H-1B, which is open to citizens of all nations, but doesn't let your spouse work. Then there are the L "internal skills transfer" visas, which I believe don't let your spouse work, but I could be wrong on that one. To be eligible, the move needs to be inside your current employer, and you need to have worked for hat employer for more than 12 months.

    For all of these you need a sponsoring US employer. They don't just let people wander in. Generally if you're going to a new employer it will be an E-3 or an H-1B, if you're moving to another office of an existing employer, it might be an L visa.

    There are some other issues to take into account with these visas. First, E-3 and H-1B visas require that you have completed a "four year technical degree", or have equivalent experience. I have such a degree, but Andrew who moved at the same time did not and he was able to argue that his work experience was the equivalent. So, it's not a show stopper, but it might be a problem for you. Now, the judge of the experience test is the guy you talk to at the US Consulate when you apply for the visa, so be sure to be nice to him or her. They have good bullshit filters too, so don't bother. I watched four people get bounced while waiting in line at the consulate for my appointment, and all of them were because they were visibly bullshitting when they applied for the visa.

    Oh, Andrew has some pretty interesting posts on moving to the US as well, so checkout that link above.

    Now, the L visas don't have the degree test to my knowledge, but you need to be transferring within one company, and that company needs to have invested over a certain amount of money in the US to be eligible, so they're not open to everyone. They were available to my former employer though, and we have only spent a couple of million in the US, so I don't think they're that hard to get.

    Only the H-1B has a permanent immigration option by the way. It is possible to convert from an E-3 to an H-1B, but I understand that it can be expensive.

    Marital status and number of children

    Are you married? Do you have kids? I ask because this affects your federal tax rate. When you start working you will calculate your W-4 withholding number, which is a lot like the pay as you earn (PAYE) system in Australia. The amount they hold back from your pays to cover tax will vary based on your status in the family stakes though, so I am paying less withholding because of being married with two kids than a single person would. Also, if your spouse works, then the withholding rate will go up, as you can no longer file jointly. Checkout the IRS withholding calculator for some assistance with working out your likely W-4 number.

    Which state are you planning on living in?

    There is also state tax, which is also withheld. Now in California this is a flat 9.something percent, and is withheld from my pay check in the same way as the federal tax. There are some concessions for low income earners, but assume that you're not going to get them. Also, there are other taxes that can be taken out, for example the federal Social Security payment (despite the fact that you can't claim Social Security ever), and things like state disability cover. Your destination state should have a web page which explains state tax.

    401k / superannuation

    There is no such think as compulsory employer superannuation contributions in the US. Some employers will match your contribution up to some (normally quite low) limit though. Oh, and you can contribute 0% if you want, you'll just be f**ked when you retire, which seems quite common here. Now, this matters because your 401k contributions are pre tax, and therefore lower your tax rate.

    Flexible spending accounts

    Even better, some employers let you have flexible spending accounts, which means that they take some of your money (you nominate the amount), and buy things you want for you with the money. This avoids paying any tax on that money. This is normally limited to things like medical care, public transport and so forth. There are probably rules here, but I don't know them.

    Don't forget health insurance

    Which can be quite expensive, and is pre-tax (I think).

    That all affects your tax rate

    So, all of those issues affect your tax rate. The worst case tax rate is probably around the 40 or 50 percent mark, and the best case is much more like 10 or 20 percent. The tax rates also vary depending on your income level, so I would recommend that you look into this using the calculators and websites I mentioned above. Also remember that income in Australia while you are in the US is taxed in both countries (I believe). In return I believe that losses can be claimed in both countries from investments, which is why my houses in Australia are negatively geared. Oh, and I don't have enough money to pay off the loans in Australia either. I am a bit unsure about this because I have never had to file a tax return here.

    Also, bear in mind that you get at the very least a standard $10,000 deduction from your taxable income. If your actual deductions are more than that, then you get the higher of the two numbers, but your tax return is more complicated in return. If you plan on owning property, then you should care about the AMT federal tax return system, but that's really a topic for another day.

    Real estate costs

    It really depends on where you are. I'm in Silicon Valley, and the average seems to be around $1,700 (two bedroom, shared laundry) to $2,400 (three bedroom, private laundry). It's a lot cheaper elsewhere. In Portland, Seattle and Phoenix I know you can buy a three bedroom house for less than $400,000 US. I recommend you look into online real estate firms, and especially rent.com.

    Eating out

    Cheaper. If you're not in California, expect there to be left overs, and expect people to want you to take them home. This is definitely true in the Washington DC area, which is where I have experienced it the most. Groceries are cheaper here than in Australia, but those little Australian things like Vegemite are a lot more expensive in return.

    Beware the SSN!

    You can't be paid by your US employer until you have an SSN, and these can take up to eight weeks to arrive (mine did). You need to be able to live off savings until it comes through. Worse than that, then they do back pay you, it will be taxed at a higher rate than a normal pay. You'll get the extra tax back at the end of the tax year (January), but it's still a hassle. Andrew had a lot of comments on all of that, so checkout the link above.

    Credit and banking

    You wont be able to get any. Imagine that you're a teenager, and get over it. Apply for a big Australian credit card before you come over here, just in case you need money instantly. Banking in general sucks about as much as in Australia, although if you agree to direct deposit your pay (why wouldn't you?) then generally you'll get fee free banking in return. Checks (cheques that is) take a variable amount of time to clear here, depending on your history with the bank. When I first came here it would take two weeks or so for a check to clear, now it takes a couple of days. Your first pay will probably be a check, so bear this in mind. Perhaps consider writing yourself some small checks early to start developing some clearing history.

    Transport, vehicles, gas

    If you're lucky, you'll have good public transport. Cars are cheaper to buy here, and gas is about half the price, but expect to use more of it per linear unit of travel. There are many online sites which will give you car pricing. Bear in mind that the prices advertised wont include registration (they call it licensing) and sate sales tax. That added an extra 10 percent to the price of my Toyota Sienna here.

    Internet access

    Cheaper. But not much. They also appear to be generally all you can eat.

    Telecoms

    Ringing home to Australia is free, just use Skype or Google Talk. If you must call, it's pretty easy to get calling cards which cost around 5 cents per minute back to an Australian land line. The rest of US telecoms suck even more than in Australia. Yes, I didn't know that was possible either until I moved here. Cell phones are the worst thing here, networks have bad coverage and are expensive. For example, Catherine is on a pre paid plan which is costing us about $20 a month, but her phone is terrible. I've got a nice Blackberry, but I'm paying around $80 a month for the phone, and it only includes 1300 minutes of talk time (which includes received calls).

    Going home

    Is expensive. It's a long way. Remember that if the company your visa is tied to terminates your employment, then you have a very short period of time to return home in. You probably need to have a war chest in order to be able to deal with an emergency relocation, or your grandma getting sick.

    Conclusion That's all I can think of for now. Feel free to ask questions if you have them, and I will do my best to answer them. I could also talk about cable TV, cost of electronics, and other issues, but my brain has melted. Feel free to ask questions if you would like in the comments. Enter a bogus name if you want to be anonymous.

    Updates: clarified L visa description. Expanded the banking section.
    Updates: mentioned standard deduction and AMT tax return.

    Tags for this post: travel usa relocation australia
    Related posts: In Sydney!; American visas for all!; Melbourne; Sydney Australia in Google Maps; Top Gear Australia; Linux presence at Education Expo

posted at: 08:14 | path: /travel/usa/relocation | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 24 Apr 2006



Catherine's birthday cake

    Catherine had a cheese cake for her birthday... Matthew liked blowing out the candles, but unfortunately Andrew had already fallen asleep before we got home from the resturant dinner and started thinking about cake.

           

    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20060422 photo

posted at: 09:27 | path: /diary/pictures/20060422 | permanent link to this entry


Maker Faire pictures

    Off to the Maker Faire yesterday with Stewart and Colin who are in town for the MySQL user's conference this week. It was good, although not exactly what I expected. After that we went off to Fry's where Stweart and Colin went mad buying things, it was fun to watch.

    This post also includes a new feature in picture posting CGI script I use for this site -- semi automated generation of animated GIFs from a set of pictures. I'll explain more when I've finished testing it.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060422 photo

posted at: 09:27 | path: /events/pictures/20060422 | permanent link to this entry


MySQL cluster stores in RAM!

posted at: 09:03 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


MySQL cluster stores in RAM!

posted at: 09:03 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


Conference Wireless not working yet?

posted at: 08:28 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


Conference Wireless not working yet?

posted at: 08:28 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


Light rail, oh how I love thee

    One thing I think that Canberra really lacks is a light rail system. My travels over the last few years have made me realize that one of the things that makes a city a great place to live is a good light rail system. The first one of these systems that I saw was in Washington DC / Virginia, and it was great -- clean, fast, on time, cheap, and it went everywhere I wanted to go. San Francisco's BART is similar, except that it's a little too slow because it has to travel a lot further.

    London's tube is a contender as well, although I would argue there that it's too expensive (everything in London is too expensive), and is dirty. Oh, and there is something disheartening about dudes with bombs trying to make you enjoy the train ride less.

    The Silicon Valley VTA system is great too. My ride to the MySQL User's Conference made me write this post, I hadn't used the train system really until then. I'd caught the Caltrain to SFO once, but the Caltrain isn't really light rail in my mind, and is nowhere near as nice as the VTA light rail. The ride to the conference to my place costs $1.75 (in fact, unlimited rides for two hours is $1.75), my kids travel for free, and the train trip is on a single line and takes 25 minutes for something which would take me about 30 minutes to drive if I included finding parking at both ends.

    VTA, don't go changing. You rock.

    Tags for this post: travel usa california light rail vta
    Related posts: VTA station for the Santa Clara Convention Center; MySQL Users Conference; List of VTA station addresses

posted at: 08:26 | path: /travel/usa/california | permanent link to this entry


Off to the MySQL tutorials

posted at: 06:40 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


Off to the MySQL tutorials

posted at: 06:40 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 23 Apr 2006



Registered for MySQL User Conference 2006

posted at: 19:27 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2006 | permanent link to this entry


Registered for MySQL User Conference 2006

posted at: 19:27 | path: /mysql/mysqluc | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 22 Apr 2006



Another trip to Monterey Bay and the acquarium, and birds around the apartment

    More pictures from Monterey Bay, including a monkey and some shots from the acquarium. The problem with acquariums is that it's hard to get good shots through the plexiglass... Another cool bit of moving here is that there are hummingbirds and woodpeckers all over the place. Checkout the later photos for some birds Catherine found hanging out right by our aparment window.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20060420 photo

posted at: 21:32 | path: /events/pictures/20060420 | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 21 Apr 2006



A side by side comparison of MythTV and Windows Media Center

posted at: 13:08 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


netcat vs nc

posted at: 11:22 | path: /netcat | permanent link to this entry


Catherine's birthday

posted at: 08:54 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 20 Apr 2006



List of VTA station addresses

posted at: 10:00 | path: /travel/usa/california | permanent link to this entry


VTA station for the Santa Clara Convention Center

posted at: 09:58 | path: /travel/usa/california/santaclara | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 19 Apr 2006



Buy this book!

posted at: 10:34 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


ATO to use luxury ownership as audit trigger

posted at: 10:16 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Choosing to be happy, and interested in your job

    Adam Barr who is an on and off Microsoft employee has an interesting post in which he describes the role of being a networking test lab engineer for Windows NT. While the manner in which the testing was run probably explains some of the reliability issues that Windows had at that time (I can't imagine it's like this now), what I actually found the most interesting are the comments about how the relatively oppressed contractors had chosen to be happy, and be interested.

    Quite a while ago I had a job in the public service where I basically ended up quite unhappy because of management changes. I guess I could have chosen to be happy, but instead I moved on. Perhaps being happy isn't the solution to all problems.

    Then again, I know that I'd much rather work with happy and interested people, so there is an element of truth here. I do think it's true that the people who deal well will the adversity are the ones who are most likely to succeed.

    Don't get me wrong. There is also a difference between happiness and being cynical.

    Tags for this post: blog happy interested cynical microsoft
    Related posts: Mellow

posted at: 10:00 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 18 Apr 2006



Twisted Python and Jabber SSL

posted at: 22:07 | path: /python/twisted | permanent link to this entry


Stop using all the loo paper!

posted at: 13:38 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Tagging air force one

posted at: 12:38 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 17 Apr 2006



Maker Faire

    Hmmm. Trying to decide if I should go to the Maker Faire and if the kids would get bored at such a thing. I guess I don't have to take them if I bribe Catherine to mind them...

    Tags for this post: blog maker faire

posted at: 16:48 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Random linkage

posted at: 15:11 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


On clusterssh once more

posted at: 14:55 | path: /clusterssh | permanent link to this entry


Blogging essential to a successful career

posted at: 10:59 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


MySQL User Conference coming up

posted at: 08:22 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Outline mode numbering of headings

posted at: 08:08 | path: /openoffice | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 16 Apr 2006



Tech talk blogs

posted at: 21:00 | path: /dotnet | permanent link to this entry


On freely available guide data

    One of the flaws with Microsoft's Media Center flavour of Windows XP when it was released in Australia, was that it suffered from the same inherent flaw as every other PVR option in Australia. No guide data. It really says something about Australia's television networks that they don't want to help people with even vaguely modern computing setups watch their content -- it's a situation which reminds me a lot of the RIAA's stand over tactics, and I think it's equally doomed.

    That's one of the joys of my MythTV setup in the US -- the guide data is trivially available in return for doing a simple four or five question survey every three months or so. What could be easier than that?

    Well, when I was using a TiVo in Australia the OzTiVo folk had a solution to these problems, and were working with the XMLTV / MythTV people to make it more generic. I hadn't been paying much attention to it until today when I was randomly surfing on the topic, but it's interesting to see that they also now provide instructions for how to import their guide data into a Windows Media Center PC. It's cool to see a community driven project which is so OS agnostic, and seems to be getting the job done. If you have a TiVo, MythTV box, or a Windows Media Center PC you should be thanking the kind folks who enter all this guide data.

    Oh, and you should be helping them keep the data up to date. It would seem to be a case of enlightened self interest to work on the shows that you want to be accurate because you want to watch them for instance.

    Tags for this post: mythtv pvr guide data windows media center tivo australia
    Related posts: Foxtel iQ launch; A side by side comparison of MythTV and Windows Media Center ; Breaking: Zap2IT turning off guide data for the US?; This is why I went to MythTV; HP iPaq GPS FA256A; In Sydney!

posted at: 20:57 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


You can't touch this

posted at: 14:01 | path: /events/pictures/20060416-mchammer | permanent link to this entry


Random facts for the day

posted at: 10:01 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 13 Apr 2006



Pod. Tea. Horrible.

posted at: 10:13 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Another interesting comment spam

    I think the spammers are getting smarter at dealing with moderation systems...

       Hi All. Help me please with my MSIE!
       In my title bar instead of "Microsoft Internet Explorer" a title appears as an advertisement about a site i visited
       "visit www . site353535 . com and register for free". What can I do to restore my browser? And  why on this site: 
       http://xxxxxxx-xxx-xxxxx.xxxxxxxxxxxx.net (meet single woman)
       I constantly see "cannot resolve host name"? Waiting for your reply.
      


    At least they're starting to make me wonder if the comment is vaguely genuine before I kill it.

    Tags for this post: blog comment spam
    Related posts: Hmmm, me no likee spam; Sorry to those commenters; 26 spammy blog comments in one day</