Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Mon, 31 Dec 2007



Blathering for Monday, 31 December 2007

    17:56: We went for a random drive today
    17:56: North on the 101, the turn west and head towards Half Moon Bay (where Scoble lives)
    17:57: We wanted to hit the coast and drive north, as we've always driven south from Half Moon Bay
    17:57: We went north for about 20 miles before deciding it was boring (a lot more built up than the south option)
    17:57: So we turned around and went south
    17:57: We stopped at a state beach and let the kids explore, and then went on to the Pigeon Point lighthouse, which is a bit of a family favourite
    17:58: And then we drove home
    17:58: So there you go...
    19:27: Wow. They're making Australian version of Top Gear (the original Top Gear would have to be my favourite TV show)
    19:28: I know a dude who put his hat in the ring to host...
    20:31: Writing C for the first time in two years
    20:31: Process... so... painful... compared with python


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 20:31 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 29 Dec 2007



Blathering for Saturday, 29 December 2007

    16:21: Playing with fan speed control in order to make my living room quieter
    16:22: On the older machine with a Zalman HD160b case, it was as simple as changing the outputs I was using on the "ZM-MC1 Multi Connector"
    16:23: On the newer machine, which as a "BIOSTAR TForce TF7050-M2 AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 7050PV HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard", it turns out I have software case fan speed control and didn't realise
    16:23: To get it going:
    16:23: - sudo sensors-detect
    16:24: - sudo pwmconfig
    16:29: Unfortunately, the controllers don't appear to actually affect fan speed (despite PWM saying it is). I guess that means its time for a hardware solution.
    18:29: Selfish eating at Chevy's cause SJR can't
    20:20: Went to Frys and bought two "Thermaltake Smart Fan 2"s for the machine without the funky Zalman cable
    20:21: Of course, one of them was dead on arrival. Hurrah.


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Fri, 28 Dec 2007



Blathering for Friday, 28 December 2007

posted at: 21:40 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


On the Sorkonian theme

    That is, talking about Aaron Sorkin. Steve mentions that the West Wing wasn't as good after Aaron left. I'd have to agree with that, and you can tell from the scripts that Aaron had left... The dialog wasn't as clever, and the plot line became more about entrenched political positions and a failure to have a mandate than it was about hope and changing the world. Then again, the final season was pretty good as well -- even if they did have to rewrite the ending.

    Tags for this post: blog movies aaron sorkin west wing
    Related posts: The common thread

posted at: 09:12 | path: /diary/movies | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 27 Dec 2007



Blathering for Thursday, 27 December 2007

    08:33: Its weird going to work when hardly anyone else is
    08:33: I hope the shuttle is running...
    08:36: The shuttle still runs! Hurrah!
    08:36: The train is half the length is normally is, and there are only four people on it
    15:42: They've started putting this white stuff in our fruit salad at work
    15:42: Its a bit like water melon, except white and tasting of wet paper
    15:43: We've started calling it "the edible noop"
    15:43: I wonder what it is?
    17:08: Why is it that HDMI cables are so insanely expensive? Frys has them for around $70
    17:09: Then again you can get them on Amazon for 15 cents!
    17:36: Random observation for the day. whitehouse.com isn't a porn site any more
    17:36: "Whitehouse.com was founded in 1997 by Dan Parisi. Over 100,000,000 people have visited our site over the years. We are rebranding and relaunching as a Political/News/ Entertainment site in January 2008. We have been featured on hundreds of media outlets all over the world."
    17:36: This came up in the context of accidentally typing python.com instead of python.org. Note that python.com is a porn site.


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 17:37 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


The common thread

    What do A Few Good Men, The American President, The West Wing, and Charlie Wilson's War all have in common, apart from that I really liked them? They were all written by Aaron Sorkin. Therefore, I should like anything Aaron does. Noted.

    Tags for this post: blog movies aaron sorkin
    Related posts: On the Sorkonian theme

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


Mental note: don't become a US permanent resident just in case

    To quote from this blog post (its a bit odd that its a PDF, but whatever):

    ... the new expatriate regime (Exit Tax Provision) requires expatriates to recognise gain on their assets, and imposes a new tax on gifts and bequests by expatriates to Americans, This new provision (styled Section 877A) is an addition to (and not a replacement of) the current expatriation tax rules of Section 877. Under the Exit Tax Provision, certain individuals who renounce their U.S. citizenship or U.S. long-term residents who relinquish their U.S. residence status (collectively covered expatriates) must recognise gain, or otherwise be taxed, on all their assets on the date they expatriate. In addition, gifts or bequests they make to U.S. citizens or residents after expatriation will be subject to tax at onerous estate/gift tax rates.


    In other words, if you're a US resident and you leave the US permanently, then they deem all of your world wide assets sold, and then tax you on the gain. This includes retirement funds, as well as savings. Congress is proposing this as a way of funding tax relief for serving members of the US military.

    Its not law yet, but still something I should pay attention to.

    Tags for this post: travel usa tax permanent resident
    Related posts: Is my cat deductible?; On the flood levy; US tax withholding for W-8BEN

posted at: 10:20 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 26 Dec 2007



Via M10000, video, and a Belkin wireless USB thing

    I've had a Via Eden M10000 literally lying around since soon after I moved to the US two years ago, and I finally decided that it was time for a full blown home workstation the other day, having got fed up with the small screen on my laptops. Sometimes I really miss my 30 inch monitor at work, and the 24 inch I am using at home is a much better substitute than a laptop screen.

    Anyway, getting the machine working was surprisingly difficult given its a three or four year old design. The problems:

    • The PCI 802.11g wireless card didn't work. In fact, the machine wouldn't boot with it installed. I suspect this was a PCI version problem, as I have had pain with this card in the past.
    • The PCI 802.11b wireless card I tried next wasn't much better. The connection would drop out randomly, and the machine would occasionally lock up. This was the card I used as my first access point about six years ago (using hostap), so perhaps its just old. It got swapped out as well.
    • The Belkin USB 802.11g thingie didn't work reliably. It would stay connected to the network for five minutes before something went wrong. This made me annoyed, especially when it turns out this is because the latest release of Ubuntu (gutsy) installs an old version of the rt73usb driver, which is known not to work with this card. Following these instructions from the canonical wiki which tell you to install drivers from here fixed the problem. Its annoying that Ubuntu ships with known broken drivers though.
    • Next, video. The video card built into the mother board sucks. I'm running a t24 inch LCD at 1920x1200, and there was significant ghosting on the monitor. Additionally, I couldn't run at 24 bit, I had to use 16 bit because the video card was running out of RAM bandwidth.
    • Not to worry, I installed a Matrox G450 I had lying around, and now the monitor works nicely as well, with no ghosting.
    • Finally, the whole thing is much louder than I expected from an Eden machine (there is a fan on the board, a fan in the case, and the hard disk). Then again, given I built the entire machine for $90, I can't complain too much.




    Tags for this post: blog toys via eden m10000 belkin usb wireless ubuntu rt73usb
    Related posts: Ubuntu, Dapper Drake, and that difficult Dell e310; iBurst: Qantas Club Sydney domestic terminal two; iBurst: Coverage in Canberra still sucks; Anyone for a little light WEP cracking?; Conference Wireless not working yet?; Nice touch

posted at: 15:25 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 25 Dec 2007



Blathering for Tuesday, 25 December 2007

    10:09: Merry Christmas to y'all
    10:10: I appear to have captured a haul of Top Gear books and DVDs, scooters, and music CDs
    10:10: I am rich! Rich in Top Gear!
    15:17: Matthew has the best taste in food ever. I introduced him to Pomegranates the other day, and now he asks for the "red balls" all the time. He loves them!
    15:17: Its a pity that there $3 US a fruit


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 15:17 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Its Christmas, that means its time for a Macintosh to make me angry again

    I picked up the kids a set of Disney edutainment games for Christmas. We're talking 6 CDs of learning fun. The box said it works on Macintoshes (classic mode, whatever that means), and Andrew was so excited by the idea that he basically shredded the box getting in.

    Of course, because its a Macintosh, we stick the game into the machine, and it doesn't work. Apparently "classic mode", which I have never heard of, means "we're too lame to have written this game in the last five years, and it only works on OS 9". This is despite the box saying the game works with OS X. Apparently PowerPC macs can reboot into OS 9, but Intel Macs can't?

    So, questions. Is there a PowerPC emulator for Intel Macs? Is it expensive? I also happen to have a PowerPC mac lying around, how do I reboot it into classic mode? It doesn't seem to be an option in the reboot dialog...

    I am so disappointed in Disney at the moment...




    Update 1: Disney tech support is closed of course, because its Christmas. Andrew is quite sad about it all. I'm being unfair on Apple in the text above, this is entirely Disney's fault for selling games which are so hideously out of date. To give you an idea of how out of date these games are, Intel Macs have been sold since January 2006 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Intel_transition), and OS 9 was discontinued in 2002 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_9). These games are really out of date.

    Tags for this post: macintosh osx classic mode disney sucks
    Related posts: Computers, why do I trust you?; Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom; MythArchive, best failure mode ever!; Chilis; Outline mode numbering of headings; Arrived at Disney World!

posted at: 11:24 | path: /macintosh/osx | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 20 Dec 2007



Blathering for Thursday, 20 December 2007

    18:26: On a bus to San Francisco -- we're going to a 1920s speakeasy!
    18:26: There is even a password to get in...


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 18:26 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 06 Dec 2007



Blathering for Thursday, 06 December 2007

    18:52: Ubuntu's month RAID check is causing jerky video playback on MythTV
    18:52: Specifically, /etc/cron.d/mdadm kicks off a RAID array check on the first Sunday of the month
    18:53: But with no IO limits
    18:53: echo 10000 > /proc/sys/dev/raid/speed_limit_max doesn't seem to actually reduce the amount of disk IO the check is causing though
    18:53: Which makes me sad
    18:57: Ahhh, I was misreading the units for the /proc file
    18:57: Reducing the minimum to 100 and the maximum to 500 fixes the video
    18:57: But does bad things to how long the check will take
    18:58: Now to experiment with upping the maximum speed, while keeping the minimum low
    18:58: Hopefully that will result in it using idle disk time to sync, but not breaking video playback


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 18:58 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Initial SMTP survey poster results in a pie chart

posted at: 16:31 | path: /research/smtp/survey | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 05 Dec 2007



Blathering for Wednesday, 05 December 2007

    17:33: On the way to SFO to pickup Cat's mother
    17:33: Traffic sucks of course


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 17:36 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Interesting paper: "YouTube Traffic Characterization: A View From the Edge"

posted at: 12:46 | path: /research | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 04 Dec 2007



I'm liking python too, thanks for asking

posted at: 21:25 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 04 December 2007

posted at: 10:42 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 02 Dec 2007



Blathering for Sunday, 02 December 2007

    12:00: I didn't realize that you could resize ext3 filesystems while they were mounted. That's really cool, because adding the extra 500gb to one of my filesystems now wont take ages...
    12:02: Oh, and that 500gb SATA2 disk? $99 US dollars are Frys. I'm loving how cheap disk is these days.


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 12:02 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 01 Dec 2007



Microsoft Exchange the most popular SMTP server on the Internet?

    Eric McCreath from the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University and I presented a poster entitled "Inferring Relative Popularity of SMTP Servers" at USENIX LISA 2007. This blog post is a brief discussion of the content of the poster, as well as a landing page for the paper version of the poster as well as the the PDF of the actual poster. For more detail into the measurement techniques used, please check out the complete paper.

    We conducted this research because there is little data on the relative popularity of the various available SMTP server implementations. This data is of interest because it aids the development of systems which interact with these servers. For example, a potential DDoS protection system should be tested with the most common SMTP servers, as these are the ones that it is most likely to encounter in everyday use.

    Many businesses rely on email of some form for their day to day operation. This is especially true for product support organisations, who are largely unable to perform their role in the company if their in-boxes are unavailable. Allman in "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, the FTC, and Spam" states that Nuclear Research studies estimate that spam costs US businesses $87 billion a year. It seems reasonable to assume that if a low level attack is costing that much, then a complete outage would impose an even greater burden on an enterprise.

    There has been little research conducted into the current state of SMTP servers on the Internet, perhaps because this area of research has not been particularly fashionable in comparison to the HTTP metrics which are commonly collected. This is an important area of research however given the level of traffic served by these systems has been growing for years. Barracuda Networks cite Radicati research which indicates that in 2009 228 billion emails will be sent per day, with the vast majority being spam (see Barracuda's site for more details). Afergan and Beverly in "The state of the email address" evaluate the state of email servers in an attempt to determine how SMTP servers are coping with the growth in traffic. Their approach involved sending out probe emails to a variety of domains. The email was crafted to have a strong assurance of bouncing because of not being addressed to a valid address. The authors then monitored the bounce traffic. They concluded that corporate SMTP servers are under surprising levels of strain and do not bounce undeliverable emails in a predictable manner.

    We have therefore started to undertake research into SMTP servers as they appear on the Internet, with our first study being a simple survey of which SMTP implementations are most commonly deployed. Our poster discussed the current state of that survey, and provide some early results.

    The challenge with determining the popularity of various SMTP server implementations is twofold -- firstly, not all of the SMTP servers which interact with the Internet are able to be probed from the public Internet (for example SMTP routers which route email that came from the Internet, but are not themselves accessible from the Internet); and secondly the sheer number of SMTP servers connected to the network. We have therefore used both passive and active measurements to survey these servers. Each of these measurement techniques is described below.

    Bearing in mind that our survey is quite new, and that only 34.6 million IP addresses have been probed so far, the initial results are quite interesting.



    You can see from the graph that the most popular SMTP server in our dataset is Microsoft Exchange, followed by Postfix and then Sendmail.

    Additional analysis of our existing data, as well as further development of the email parser will improve the accuracy of our survey, which will also increase the number of machines included in the survey. The survey also needs a wider set of inputs for possible IP addresses to probe -- one example of another possible source of probable SMTP servers is MX records for registered domain names. The distributed probing system needs further development to handle the scale of the proving required for a large number of SMTP servers to be included in the survey, and improvements to the reliability of the central server are also required.

    This SMTP survey is in its early stages, and there is much work still to do. However, research of this nature is likely to produce results which are of interest to both the research community, as well as software developers and systems administrators. So far a small dataset has been analysed, which has resulted in a reasonably robust distributed probing system being constructed. Further work on the survey will continue in the future, with updated results being published from time to time.

    Tags for this post: research smtp survey microsoft exchange postfix sendmail
    Related posts: Wondering how low it can go

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


Tue, 27 Nov 2007



Blathering for Tuesday, 27 November 2007

posted at: 17:11 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 24 Nov 2007



Blathering for Saturday, 24 November 2007

    08:52: Farewell Mr Howard
    08:53: I wont miss you at all
    09:33: Annoyed. One of the tuners in the MythTV box started failing to change channels, and now I have a bunch of infomercials recorded instead of something interesting
    09:34: MythTV doesn't store with the recording what tuner was used -- which makes it harder to debug


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 09:34 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 23 Nov 2007



Blathering for Friday, 23 November 2007

    10:17: I've been catching up on the new Doctor Who episodes (2005 onwards, I'm up to 2006 at the moment)
    10:18: Matthew has developed a liking for them
    10:18: Although we have to limit the episodes he sees
    10:19: He really likes the "End of the World" episode from the 2005 season
    10:44: Chipotle is interesting -- they certainly have a much higher food quality than many other stores


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 10:44 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Installing X11 on MacOS X

posted at: 09:28 | path: /macintosh/osx/x11 | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 22 Nov 2007



Blathering for Thursday, 22 November 2007

    19:01: I've been back in Mountain View for a couple of days now
    19:02: In time for Thanksgiving and all that
    19:03: Thanksgiving is cool, as Gord is known to say "Thanksgiving is a cool holiday. You don't have to buy anyone stuff, you get all the yummy food, and a holiday (it's like christmas without the annoying bits)."
    19:03: We got a good price on a turkey at Safeway, so I gave it a go. Apart from not being very good at carving, it turned out well
    19:03: And now we're drinking wine and watching Doctor Who on the MythTV box. What could be better?
    19:06: Oh, and the Chaser "vodcasts" all its episodes in full. So cool. I've subscribed to them with mythnettv.


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 19:06 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 19 Nov 2007



Boston

    I must say that I like Boston. It feels a lot like Sydney, and I hope that Boston is the city that Sydney is in another 200 years. Boston has plenty of history (it seems that America happened here, and the rest of the continent came along for the ride), isn't too built up (not all sky scrapers), has great public transport, and friendly people. Its too cold though -- it snowed a little on my walk to the office this morning.

    Tags for this post: travel usa massachusetts boston snow
    Related posts: Mental note: Don't ride unicycle in the snow without chains

posted at: 09:58 | path: /travel/usa/massachusetts/boston | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 18 Nov 2007



Boston

posted at: 06:41 | path: /travel/usa/massachusetts/boston | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 16 Nov 2007



Hurrah!

    Catherine (who is in California while I swan around Texas) reports that the maliciously loud neighbours are moving out! Yay for sleep!

    Tags for this post: blog neighbours from hell

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


Tue, 13 Nov 2007



Catherine is right

posted at: 08:43 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 11 Nov 2007



Arrived in Dallas

posted at: 07:46 | path: /travel/usa/texas/dallas | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 05 Nov 2007



Random travel tip: DFW / Dallas Fort Worth

posted at: 05:49 | path: /travel/usa/texas/dfw | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 04 Nov 2007



Blathering for Sunday, 04 November 2007

    08:12: At the airport again
    08:12: This time its a San Francisco -> Dallas -> Atlanta flight
    08:12: Off to visit some folks in the Atlanta office for meetings and so forth
    12:40: Wow. DFW is _big_
    12:45: And people really do wear cowboy hats in Texas!


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 12:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 31 Oct 2007



Blathering for Wednesday, 31 October 2007

    15:58: Another quake!
    15:58: http://quake.usgs.gov/recenteqs/Quakes/nc51189819.html
    16:00: This time a 3.7
    16:00: Heh, in fact, there have been quite a few recently...
    16:00: map 1.6 2007/10/31 15:56:05 37.431N 121.779W 7.6 8 km ( 5 mi) NNE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:01: MAP 3.7 2007/10/31 15:54:24 37.434N 121.780W 7.6 8 km ( 5 mi) NNE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:01: map 1.1 2007/10/31 15:37:19 37.438N 121.756W 12.4 10 km ( 6 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:01: map 1.2 2007/10/31 14:14:47 37.402N 121.751W 8.2 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:01: map 2.2 2007/10/31 12:41:24 37.432N 121.778W 8.5 8 km ( 5 mi) NNE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:01: map 1.5 2007/10/31 12:14:43 37.427N 121.772W 9.3 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:01: map 1.2 2007/10/31 10:48:22 37.415N 121.765W 6.4 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:01: map 1.3 2007/10/31 09:31:18 37.422N 121.770W 6.8 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 2.3 2007/10/31 07:14:50 37.366N 121.728W 8.1 9 km ( 5 mi) E of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 1.3 2007/10/31 06:24:15 37.329N 121.698W 6.7 12 km ( 7 mi) ESE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 1.1 2007/10/31 04:36:59 37.400N 121.749W 8.3 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 1.0 2007/10/31 04:17:47 37.398N 121.746W 8.3 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 1.8 2007/10/31 04:06:29 37.375N 121.731W 8.3 8 km ( 5 mi) E of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 1.0 2007/10/31 04:03:57 37.414N 121.763W 7.1 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 2.8 2007/10/31 02:57:51 37.367N 121.728W 8.2 9 km ( 5 mi) E of Alum Rock, CA
    16:02: map 1.2 2007/10/31 02:17:49 37.330N 121.698W 7.4 12 km ( 7 mi) ESE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.1 2007/10/31 01:42:28 37.416N 121.755W 10.1 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.7 2007/10/31 01:21:13 37.404N 121.750W 8.4 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 2.2 2007/10/31 01:05:51 37.424N 121.770W 4.8 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.9 2007/10/31 00:49:47 37.331N 121.699W 7.1 12 km ( 7 mi) ESE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.7 2007/10/31 00:02:54 37.406N 121.750W 8.6 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.1 2007/10/30 23:30:21 37.415N 121.755W 7.6 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.5 2007/10/30 23:26:59 37.404N 121.749W 8.4 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.6 2007/10/30 23:03:36 37.424N 121.768W 11.3 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 2.0 2007/10/30 23:02:16 37.427N 121.773W 9.4 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:03: map 1.1 2007/10/30 22:11:15 37.374N 121.722W 7.7 9 km ( 6 mi) E of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.4 2007/10/30 21:38:50 37.412N 121.763W 7.3 7 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.4 2007/10/30 21:30:51 37.426N 121.772W 7.5 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.2 2007/10/30 21:23:39 37.413N 121.756W 9.8 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 2.1 2007/10/30 20:41:31 37.397N 121.747W 8.7 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.7 2007/10/30 20:39:29 37.427N 121.770W 9.1 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.3 2007/10/30 20:35:02 37.345N 121.705W 8.9 11 km ( 7 mi) ESE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.8 2007/10/30 20:31:57 37.430N 121.772W 9.5 8 km ( 5 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.4 2007/10/30 20:26:53 37.404N 121.749W 8.4 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.3 2007/10/30 20:22:44 37.428N 121.777W 8.9 8 km ( 5 mi) NNE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.6 2007/10/30 20:16:12 37.404N 121.750W 8.2 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:04: map 1.3 2007/10/30 20:13:48 37.403N 121.749W 8.2 8 km ( 5 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:05: map 1.5 2007/10/30 20:12:55 37.419N 121.745W 11.1 9 km ( 6 mi) NE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:05: map 1.4 2007/10/30 20:12:23 37.409N 121.675W 7.3 14 km ( 9 mi) ENE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:05: MAP 5.6 2007/10/30 20:04:54 37.432N 121.776W 9.2 8 km ( 5 mi) NNE of Alum Rock, CA
    16:05: (Source http://quake.usgs.gov/recenteqs/Quakes/quakes0.htm, although they'll scroll off that page)
    19:09: We just had our first trick or treater ever
    19:09: A two year old dressed as a lion
    19:09: So cute!


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Tue, 30 Oct 2007



Blathering for Tuesday, 30 October 2007

    20:09: Big earthquake just now
    20:10: http://quake.usgs.gov/recenteqs/Maps/SF_Bay.html
    20:10: 5.6 2007/10/30 20:04:54 37.432N 121.776W 9.2 8 km ( 5 mi) NNE of Alum Rock, CA
    20:13: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=http:%2F%2Fquake.usgs.gov%2Frecenteqs%2FQuakes%2Fnc40204628.kml&ie=UTF8&ll=39.053318,-121.706543&spn=3.412445,7.470703&z=7&om=1


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 20:13 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 24 Oct 2007



Shuttle Discovery STS120 launch photos, and cute hotel room cleaning at Disney World

    Its a shame about the dirty sensor in my SLR, but apart from that I am very happy with these shots. Worst case I can crop the spot out of images, or do something with photoshop. These images are entirely unprocessed.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20071023-ksc photo

posted at: 15:14 | path: /events/pictures/20071023-ksc | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 23 Oct 2007



Blathering for Tuesday, 23 October 2007

    17:39: About to have dinner at Captain Jacks seafood resturant with James and his dad
    17:39: The launch today was awesome -- I will post pictures as soon as they have finished uploading
    17:40: James' dad got some good shots too


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 17:40 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


More Disney World, and Kennedy Space Center day one

    More shots from Disney World, including a breakfast with some people pretending to be Disney characters (which the kids were very excited about), and shots from Kennedy Space Center (which I was very excited about). This was the day before STS120 launched, and the shots of the shuttle you can see here still have the protective rotating part of the launch gantry in place. This is removed around 12 hours before launch, which would have been about 11pm the night of the day these shots were taken.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20071022-ksc photo

posted at: 15:28 | path: /events/pictures/20071022-ksc | permanent link to this entry


20071022-ksc

posted at: 15:28 | path: /diary/pictures/20071022-ksc | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 22 Oct 2007



Boca Raton, FL to Disney World, Orlando, FL

posted at: 16:13 | path: /events/pictures/20071021-bocaraton | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 21 Oct 2007



Arrived at Disney World!

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


Sat, 20 Oct 2007



A busy couple of days

posted at: 19:35 | path: /travel/usa/florida | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 11 Oct 2007



The book is doing ok

posted at: 10:43 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 09 Oct 2007



Satellite internet at Walmart

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


Mon, 01 Oct 2007



Roomba serial cables

posted at: 17:13 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Dead Roomba battery

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


Sun, 30 Sep 2007



Noisy neighbours at Central Park in Mountain View

    Its 5am my time, and I've been awake since 3am. Not from choice though -- its the downstairs neighbours waking us up yet again. They're shift workers you see, and must either sleep with construction hearing protection on, or be deaf. Either way, they seem to think its ok to stand outside our apartment at shout at each other at 2am, or slam doors at all hours, or listen to music so loud it vibrates stuff in our apartment basically all night.

    We've asked them nicely to turn it down (we used to get on quite well with them at first). We've asked the complex to please do something. We even rung the complex security folk when its happening, and asked for some peace. Its really done nothing to help -- they perhaps turn the music down for 30 minutes until security leaves, and then turn it right back on again.

    So, we've run out of ideas, apart from ending the lease early (which will cost an unknown amount of money), and moving somewhere else. We're so serious about doing that that I have started looking around Craigslist already.

    Perhaps the floor between apartments is too thin, because the bathroom fans this neighbour leaves on for literally days at a time also vibrates things in the apartment, but either way I think Central Park has pretty much failed to provide us with a livable apartment. We don't want a lot, just some peace after 10pm like the complex rules say we should get.

    Grumpy.

    Tags for this post: travel usa california mountainview apartment

posted at: 05:08 | path: /travel/usa/california/mountainview | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 26 Sep 2007



Long time not much write

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


Sun, 23 Sep 2007



Apple remote for older ibook?

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


Fri, 14 Sep 2007



Illegal download sites for the MythTV book

    In the last week, I have discovered three download sites offering illegal downloads of the MythTV book e-book. If I can find three without really trying, I assume there are a lot more of them out there. This raises a question for which I don't have a good answer. Do illegal downloads of books increase, or decrease sales? I can see arguments either way, but I'm tending towards the belief that they don't increase sales.

    Does anyone out there have any data which isn't merely anecdotal? Want to share it?

    Tags for this post: mythtv book ebook piracy publishing
    Related posts: The Confusion; Igniting The Reaches; Color ebook!; Bonanza; Free Baen ebooks; Trying out the Apress e-book system

posted at: 09:43 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 09 Sep 2007



Scoble

posted at: 09:38 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 03 Sep 2007



MythNetTV release 2

posted at: 20:24 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 01 Sep 2007



IPv6 tunnelling

    Thanks to the nice folk at Hurricane Electric I now have my own IPv6 allocation, and a sixbone tunnel. Now. What's the point? I can get to IPv6 websites (kame.net is a nice test site if you need one), but given that I have no other IPv6 connectivity, I can't see myself using this much. Is there any IPv6 only content out there that I should be lusting after?

    Tags for this post: tcpip ipv6

posted at: 22:08 | path: /tcpip/ipv6 | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 25 Aug 2007



Schedules direct is live!

posted at: 16:36 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 24 Aug 2007



I feel like this engineer

posted at: 10:14 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 22 Aug 2007



Guide data update

posted at: 14:50 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry


Video and slides from the Google talk

posted at: 13:57 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Google book search

posted at: 13:36 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 13 Aug 2007



MythTV talk at Google

    I'm giving a MythTV talk at Google in the next week (although I can't find it on the events calendar at the moment, I'll update this post when I do) so I've been playing with MythTV 0.21 a little more than I have in the past. Its pretty cool.

    I'm still writing the talk, so I don't know 100% what it will cover, but I'm thinking it would be good to include some of the stuff from 0.21 as a teaser. Storage groups, the flash player in MythWeb, and the tweaks to the theme system seem like good things to include. Does anyone have other things they think are really cool in 0.21?

    Oh, and I'll have to cover guide data for the US, so it might be time to catch up with my MythTV email backlog once again.

    Hopefully in you live near Silicon Valley you can come along to the talk and we can chat afterwards.

    Update: I found a Google blog post with the details. To quote the most important information:

    Like all sessions of the Open Source Developers @ Google Speaker Series, Michael's presentation will be open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 PM at our Mountain View campus; guests should plan to sign in at Building 43 reception upon arrival. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. Michael's presentation will also be taped and published along with all of the public Google Tech Talks.


    Tags for this post: mythtv talk google open source developers
    Related posts: Blather, an open source Twitter work-alike for Blosxom and Google Talk; I won a radio shark and headphones!; Conference Wireless not working yet?; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk; I'm getting fed up

posted at: 15:01 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 12 Aug 2007



MediaMVP

    Here is a nice video explaining the MediaMVP. I've been looking for silent ways to park MythTV front ends in the kids bedrooms for a while, and this might end up being the way to go. The xbox that Matthew uses at the moment is simply too loud for most use.



    I am left wondering if ad skipping works on the device though. I guess there is only one way to find out...

    Tags for this post: mythtv mediamvp

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


Sat, 11 Aug 2007



Blathering for Saturday, 11 August 2007

    20:36: I like PF Chang's
    20:37: ... And it seems they let kids in. I wonder if they have a kids menu?


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 20:37 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 06 Aug 2007



Bugger

    I recommend you not fat finger a cron command, and type "crontab -r" accidentally. It just silently deletes your crontab, without giving you the chance to back out. Anyone notice that the r and e keys are next to each other?

    Tags for this post: blog crontab

posted at: 23:30 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 05 Aug 2007



Blathering for Sunday, 05 August 2007

    14:22: I've been doing a lot of driving in the prius
    14:22: Its growing on me so much
    14:22: I have found I have started driving in a manner which avoids the petrol engine from cutting in
    14:23: Thought for the day: great products change how you think about things...


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Sat, 04 Aug 2007



Blathering for Saturday, 04 August 2007

    14:00: Just drove a company plug in hybrid
    14:00: My first Pruis drivage
    14:00: The Prius user interface takes some getting used to, but is cool once you're used to it
    14:00: And the plug-in-ness is uber cool


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 14:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 03 Aug 2007



Blathering for Friday, 03 August 2007

    16:31: Helping set up for SciFoo 2007, which starts in about an hour... Its much hotter in the US at the moment than it is in Australia. I might yet melt.
    16:32: Oh, and just met Nat Torkington, who was nice...


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 16:32 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 28 Jul 2007



Damn Interesting

posted at: 02:28 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 23 Jul 2007



Reducing the MySQL query lock timeout?

posted at: 15:04 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 20 Jul 2007



"Thriller" as performed by inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center

posted at: 17:58 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 19 Jul 2007



Some days you find something you know is useful, you just don't know why its useful yet

    Some days you find something you know is useful, but you don't know how you're going to use it quite yet. Today's event was Sidecar, a system for inserting retransmitted packets into TCP streams capable of detecting the presence of a NAT. How cool is that? ACM link to the paper.

    Tags for this post: blog nat detection tcp

posted at: 22:35 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Distributed scheduling recommended reading?

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


Blathering for Thursday, 19 July 2007

    18:39: Last night I did 2.6 million DNS queries. So cool. PlanetLab is the new hotness.
    18:39: But why does altering a table or adding an index with MySQL lock the entire table? So lame.


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Sun, 15 Jul 2007



More reviews

    I just got back from a lovely four days in Tasmania, and am just now catching up with the resulting email backlog. There are some new alerts about reviews of the MythTV book in there which are worth pointing out:

    I'm surprised and disappointed that the installation of MythTV through pre-built packages or a CD distributions like KnoppMyth or MythDora were not covered deeper than a sentence or two in passing. This is likely to be a turn off for readers who were hoping for a quick and simple method of getting MythTV up and going.

    ...

    On the whole I consider this a good book that is excellent for the new to intermediate MythTV user, although advanced users may pick a few good pieces of information out of it as well. It was well written and covered most items at just about the right introductory (yes -- practical) level. Once it has taught you the basics, you can then go and look up more details online for features you want to get more information about.




    I think the comments about installation technique are fair, although the method described in the book is very likely to result in a nicely working MythTV system, which was not true for the MythTV packages that shipped with Ubuntu at the time of writing (they were a quite old version). Additionally, if you already have a Linux system you want to add MythTV to, then the way described in the book is better than the CD distributions because it doesn't involve a reinstall. I think it's horses for courses -- CD distributions are better for new users, but not for advanced users.

    I'll add coverage of CD distributions to my TODO list of things to cover here sometime in the future.

    Another review:

    My main concern would be the assumption of prior Linux knowledge. The introduction states you need limited or no experience with Linux or Unix. I think that in this case, some time should have been taken to introduce complete Linux newcomers into the Ubuntu environment, which is something that wasn't touched on an awful lot. The installation of Ubuntu was well-covered and is generally a very simple process, but after that not much time was given to familiarise the user with the Ubuntu environment used throughout the book.

    The rest of the book is extremely well written, clear and is a very good companion to MythTV. True to its name, it takes a practical approach to solving problems and if you're a Linux user interested in setting up a MythTV installation, it will make a very good resource.




    Again, it is fair comment to say that we don't spend much time introducing Ubuntu apart from the bits needed to get MythTV working (we talk about installing Ubuntu on bare metal, apt, packages, LVM, disk resizing and so forth). Then again, I imagine that most people who build a PVR machine for their living room only run the PVR software on the machine, and don't tend to use the machine as a general purpose system. After all, who wants to write email on a TV sitting on the couch? Laptops are much better for that. There are also many excellent Ubuntu and Debian books out there already, so it would be a shame to lose focus on our core content and try to be too general. For those needing a more complete Ubuntu introduction I highly recommend Beginning Ubuntu, The Official Ubuntu Book and Ubuntu Hacks.



    So, I'm going to chalk that up as two positive reviews, both with useful comments to consider for next time.

    Tags for this post: mythtv book review
    Related posts: Book reviews; Review priorities as we approach juno-3; Working on review comments for Chapters 2, 3 and 4 tonight; Slow git review uploads?; Review; The Wild Palms Hotel

posted at: 18:41 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 08 Jul 2007



Blathering for Sunday, 08 July 2007

    20:20: Visa renewed
    20:20: It took 30 minutes to get through security and 37 minutes to get approved
    20:21: Now killing time in Sydney until our flight
    20:21: Watching ocean's 13 in fact


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Sat, 07 Jul 2007



Zap2IT shutdown update

posted at: 02:44 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 04 Jul 2007



On Akamai

    Akamai has some interesting pages about their service that I want to be able to find later, so here they are:

    • Visualisation 1 -- attacks, latency and traffic maps. During the July 4 holiday in the US, traffic levels were 14% below normal!
    • Visualisation 2 -- performance comparison. Save nearly 60 milliseconds between Sydney and Cambridge, MA if you use Akamai.
    • Visualisation 3 -- at the time I write this, Akamai is serving 1.9 million hits per second.


    Akamai must have some interesting logging to produce this reporting.

    Akamai's technology at its core, applied mathematics and algorithms - has transformed the chaos of the Internet into a predictable, scalable, and secure platform for business and entertainment. The Akamai EdgePlatform comprises 20,000 servers deployed in 71 countries that continually monitor the Internet traffic, trouble spots and overall conditions. We use that information to intelligently optimize routes and replicate content for faster, more reliable delivery. As Akamai handles 20% of total Internet traffic today, our view of the Internet is the most comprehensive and dynamic collected anywhere.


    So there you go.

    Tags for this post: blog akamai logging reporting visualisation
    Related posts: Is yak shaving a good idea?

posted at: 19:35 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Found in New Zealand

posted at: 17:19 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 26 Jun 2007



Blathering for Tuesday, 26 June 2007

    00:15: Arrived! In immigration line
    00:21: Collecting baggage
    00:22: The immigration line for people with kids rocks
    00:57: And now in the car
    00:58: The dude at the airport was wrong, the plane was a brand new 777 and quite nice
    01:31: Now in the car on the way to the relative's house... Its nice to finally be done with planes for a while
    12:08: Awake! Its 7am local time and I actually feel really good after some sleep. I wonder how long I should wait bbefore waking the kids?


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Mon, 25 Jun 2007



Blathering for Monday, 25 June 2007

    04:46: Awake
    05:16: Showered
    05:16: And have consumed coffee like substance (I hate non dairy creamer)
    05:40: Waiting for hotel shuttle
    05:47: On the shuttle, thanks to the nice folks who let us jump the line a little
    05:48: The boys are being very good, which makes things a lot easier
    06:00: How lame. They tell us to show up at 6 am, and then aren't there themselves
    06:33: When the line hadn't moved in 30 minutes, I ended up demanding that they check us in because of the kids. It worked, and now we're finding a food like substance.
    06:34: Apparently we're taking a 737 instead of the 747, which probably means no on demand entertainment. The plane is also apparently 90 percent full because it is smaller than the original one.
    06:35: Yay.
    07:19: At the gate, trying to find a visit terminal
    07:33: Flight now delayed until 10 am
    08:05: Oh, and the air new zealand website doesn't work on my handheld cause it doesn't do javascript. Who makes clicking a link require javascript?!?
    08:45: Still waiting. So far the kids have had choc chip cookies and crisps for breakfast. Best parenting ever.
    08:51: Looks like the 10 am departure might actually happen!
    09:43: Still waiting
    09:49: I have had a brainwave. Someone should review electronics by handing it to small children waiting for flights and seeing if it survives and keeps their attention. So far gameboys and nokia n800s are clear winners, ipods and laptops less so.
    09:58: Boarding!
    10:02: In seat 34d
    10:02: We might actually leave... Turning my phone off now.


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 10:02 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 24 Jun 2007



Blathering for Sunday, 24 June 2007

    11:54: Cleaning the house
    12:11: Putting the washing on for a 28 minute cycle (exciting, huh?)
    12:45: And then the dryer for 48 minutes (the excitement never ends around here)
    16:46: Loading the car...
    17:53: At airport, flight cancelled
    17:53: (the plane never made it to the US because of engine failure)
    17:57: Getting hotel and meal vouchers, and will try again tomorrow
    18:15: Free night at the hyatt!
    18:29: When your airline failed to provide a flight, its a bit lame when the aircrew jumps the queue at airport checkin. Just saying.
    18:57: At least the hotel suite has a dining room
    19:33: The rack rate for the room is $1200!


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Sat, 23 Jun 2007



Programming note

posted at: 09:12 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 22 Jun 2007



MythNetTV release 1

    I figured it was time for another release of MythNetTV, especially since I've fixed some bugs recently and rolled in code generously provided by George Nassas. New things in this release:

    • Initial work on transcoding smaller files to something else
    • Better error checking for MySQL configuration and accessibility
    • Fixed bug where MythNetTV was unhappy if there were no channels configured in the MySQL database
    • Found, and hopefully fixed, a bug where program dates were not always being tracked correctly. Also added a check to make sure this doesn't happen again
    • Added --markread, which lets you mark old shows as already downloaded


    The code has seen a fair bit of use now, so it should be fairly stable. Let me know if you find any problems...

      $ ./mythnettv --statistics
      Programs tracked: 735
        Google EngEdu: 350
        Scoble Show: 85
        linux.conf.au 2007: 74
        Mobuzz TV: 82
        dl.tv: 32
        Net Cafe: 2
        Foo: 1
        ABC News: 2
        Australia: 1
        Play School: 1
        Diggnation: 72
      
      Programs still to download: 50
        Google EngEdu: 49
        Diggnation: 1
      
      Data transferred: 103 gb (111017264341 bytes)
      


    Get it here if you care: http://www.stillhq.com/mythtv/mythnettv/

    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv beta release video download rtsp mms stream
    Related posts: MythNetTV beta 4; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythIPTV Beta 2; RemoteWorker v74; Another version of blather; MythNetTV release 2

posted at: 11:49 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 21 Jun 2007



...and then there was a pause...

    I guess we're at a different phase of the Zap2IT guide data thing now. The story has broken, there's been tons of email on the mythtv-users mailing list (remember, don't panic!), and now things have quietened down. I think that's probably a good thing, because it almost certainly means people are now no longer distracted from actually sitting down and working on the problem.

    I imagine that journalists would make up some sensational thing to say to keep the story rolling during this quiet news cycle. I can't think of any such thing to say, and it wouldn't be ethical anyway.

    I must say that I think coverage like this isn't always helpful.

    Tags for this post: mythtv guidedata usa zap2it shutdown
    Related posts: Zap2IT shutdown update; Some quick further thoughts on the Zap2IT shutdown

posted at: 09:30 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 20 Jun 2007



Resume update

    I'm returning to Australia in July to renew my US visa, and part of the process is that I need to update my resume (the consulate examines such things when you apply for the visa). I therefore needed to update it to include the last two years worth of work.

    Now that I've done that it seems like I may as well put the PDF online as well.

    Tags for this post: resume

posted at: 16:42 | path: /resume | permanent link to this entry


Pictures from around Dublin

posted at: 14:13 | path: /events/pictures/20070504-dublin | permanent link to this entry


Some quick further thoughts on the Zap2IT shutdown

    The Zap2IT forums has a thread about the shutdown (you need to have a Zap2IT login to get to the forum). One of the posts on the thread about the shutdown expands on the reasons for the free guide data shutting down:

    - Continued use of the service to support commercial products, in violation of the agreement.
    - Commercial products continued to grow despite previous appeals that this activity stop.
    - There are significant changes to the supporting data structure forthcoming and we could not devote resources to the continued upkeep and enhancements of the service.
    - Maintenance of the service is impacting our resource pool for other projects.
    - We sought alternative options but were unable to find a solution.
    - We recognize the hardship this creates for the user community. We are open to alternative solutions and would consider proposals that met the needs of the user community and our company.
    - We looked into options to turn this into a paid service however we do not have the infrastructure at this time.


    So it seems that the folks selling MythTV based solutions which used the guide data, as well as possible other commercial uses (the was no real way to check what system was connecting to the guide data) are the main reasons for the service shutdown.

    That seems reasonable to me... It's inconvenient for MythTV users in the US, but there are other guide data sources. It is certainly disappointing that people we misusing the free service and caused it's shutdown for everyone.

    Tags for this post: mythtv guidedata usa zap2it shutdown reasons
    Related posts: Zap2IT shutdown update; ...and then there was a pause...

posted at: 09:17 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry


An initial analysis of the removal of Zap2IT guide data in the US

    (I had some spare time while waiting for the kids to finish their breakfast, so this is posted earlier than I planned).

    As mentioned briefly earlier today MythTVnews.com is reporting that Tribune Media Services (TMS) is turning off their free guide data service for MythTV on 1 September 2007. This is mainly because of claims of abuse -- the theory on the MythTV users mailing list is that this abuse is vendors selling pre-configured MythTV systems for profit, which use the not-for-commercial-use guide data service from Zap2IT.

    The announcement from TMS reads:

    IMPORTANT MESSAGE:

    For several years we have offered a free TV listings service to hobbyists for their own personal, noncommercial use. In October of 2004 we posted here an open letter saying the future of Zap2it Labs was at risk because of certain growing misuses of the Zap2it Labs data. Unfortunately this misuse has continued and grown. These misuses, combined with other business factors have led to the decision to discontinue Zap2it Labs effective September 1, 2007.

    We thank those users who have honoured the terms of the agreement, and we suggest you consider the many TV listings options offered by the commercial licensees of TMS TV listings data.

    If you would like to discuss how to license TV listings for commercial use, please let us know by e-mail (labs@zap2it.com) and include your company name, telephone number and the best time to reach you. We will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

    We anticipate this decision will generate discussion and invite you to respond via the Zap2it Labs forum. We will do our best to respond to relevant questions posted on this forum in a timely manner.


    There has been much consternation on the MythTV users mailing list about this announcement. There haven't been a lot of helpful suggestions yet though. There is the assurance that the development team is looking into options, and some users are suggesting rounding up enough people to pay for a commercial license. The reality however is that this is likely not a big deal. I can think of a few possible outcomes:

    • Doom! The guide data stops, we all go home. This seems particularly unlikely though. It would take many people ignoring the problem, and just accepting that their MythTV systems are going to stop working.

    • Some sort of scraper using XMLTV is written. This is in fact how guide data is obtained for most other countries at the moment. This technique is discussed in my MythTV book (Amazon), and is well understood. I would expect new XMLTV grabbers for the US to start appearing in the next few days.

    • A conglomerate is formed to buy a commercial license to the guide data, and then sells that in XMLTV form to US based MythTV users. This option seems less likely to me, although not impossible. It would take someone being willing to buy the license for the data, on the assumption that enough people would actually pay for a XML feed. Lots of people have said they would, but there is already arguments over how much they would b willing to pay and it's yet to be seen if those people will actually front up with the cash. It should also be noted that this sort of arrangement has been tried in other countries, and seems to invariably fail.

    • Another company steps up to provide guide data for free. There are lots of companies which have this data for their own uses now. Examples include the various TV guide web sites out there. They might chose to provide the data as a way of generating good will, as well as because providing the XML will cause less load on their systems than being automatically scraped to produce a third party XMLTV feed (the second option). This was the reason that the Zap2IT feed started being provided in the first place after all.


    So, no doom yet. I'll post more analysis as it appears.

    Tags for this post: mythtv guidedata usa zap2it alternatives

posted at: 08:21 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry


Breaking: Zap2IT turning off guide data for the US?

posted at: 07:06 | path: /mythtv/link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 18 Jun 2007



Configuring the n800

posted at: 21:47 | path: /diary/toys/nokia/n800 | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 17 Jun 2007



aus-dotnet archives rolled over

    I've rolled the aus-dotnet mailing list archives over to a new directory, as the collection was getting big again. Note that the archives are now automatically updated hourly as well.

    Tags for this post: aus-dotnet update

posted at: 22:09 | path: /aus-dotnet | permanent link to this entry


Implementing parental filters with MythTV

    The other morning I walked out to my five year old watching Robot Chicken. This isn't what I would call the highlight of my parenting career, but it did leave me with an immediate need to come up with a solution to stopping the kids from watching inappropriate things now that they're big enough to work their way through the MythTV user interface without our assistance. Its now quite common for me to wake up in the morning and discover that the kids have turned the monitor on in the living room, have found one of their shows, and are happily watching.

    (I guess it says something about the ease of use of the MythTV user interface that my four and five year olds have no trouble navigating it without assistance. Specifically, the video thumbnail of the various recordings is a killer feature because it helps kids who can't read yet find the shows they want.)



    The animated thumbnail of the recording appears in the bottom right of this example image.


    Back to my need to filter recordings. Unfortunately this isn't covered in the MythTV book (Amazon), mainly because it didn't seem to me to be a killer feature at the time of laying out the chapters, and because we wanted to focus on getting the important aspects of Myth working well. I'm going to make up for that by writing up everything I've learnt about it in the last couple of days here.

    You'll find the filtering setup, which can be used for both parental filtering and filtering based on your random other needs (like perhaps only wanting to display sports programs at the moment, or only documentaries when you're trying to impress visitors), in Utilities / Setup -> Setup -> TV Settings -> Playback -> View Recordings (Recording Groups), which is the fourth screen of the playback settings wizard. That location might be slightly different depending on what theme you are using. The screen looks like this:



    Enabling a filter


    You can see here my super secret password, which is used to escape the currently active filter, which I will show you how to do in a moment. You can also see that I've selected a filter called "Children" as the default filter to use when Media Library -> Watch Recordings is selected. The relevant options on this screen include whether to prompt for a filter when entering the Media Library -> Watch Recordings screen, which I disabled as I want the default to be the Children filter to stop my kids from selecting another filter. You can also have the filter default to whatever it was last time, which doesn't work for me because that would mean it was almost always set to showing all programs, but might be convenient to others. You can also choose to show the name of the filter instead of the words "All Programs" in the Media Library -> Watch Recordings view -- this is useful for reminding you what filter you are currently using, although you should turn this option off if you don't want people to know that you are using a filter at all.

    The list of filters you can apply is based off the categories of the recordings currently in your MythTV database. These are stored in the category column of the recorded table, and for my back end the list is currently like this:

      mysql> select distinct(category) from recorded;
      +--------------------------+
      | category                 |
      +--------------------------+
      | banana                   | 
      |                          | 
      | Children                 | 
      | Sitcom                   | 
      | Holiday-children special | 
      | Cooking                  | 
      | Crime drama              | 
      | Reality                  | 
      | Documentary              | 
      | House/garden             | 
      | Talk                     | 
      | Special                  | 
      | Comedy                   | 
      | Children-special         | 
      | Animated                 | 
      | Science fiction          | 
      | Auto                     | 
      | Docudrama                | 
      | Travel                   | 
      | Science                  | 
      | Drama                    | 
      | Home improvement         | 
      | Fantasy                  | 
      | Suspense                 | 
      +--------------------------+
      24 rows in set (0.00 sec)
      


    The "banana" category is me testing to see if the statement above is really true. It must be, because after I changed a recording to have a category of banana, this was then presented as an option in the user interface:



    Bananas make for good filters


    The currently active filter is stored in the settings table of the MySQL database. Look for entries named "DisplayRecGroup" if you are inclined to poke around in your database.

    This level of filtering is sufficient if you only want to show one category at a time in the Media Library -> Watch Recordings screen. However, there is no facility to filter based on the rating of the program, and no way to combine filters to display more than one category at once. For example, there is no way to display Children's shows, and Children's holiday specials at the same time. This is a bit of a shame. Conceivably you could implement custom filtering like this by changing the values for the category column in the recording table, but I wouldn't recommend this approach.

    Anyway, on to how to use the filter now that you have it set up. Go to the Media Library -> Watch Recordings screen with the filter set, and you'll see that the view has changed to only include those things in your default category. You'll be able to tell that the filter is on if you selected the option to display the category name instead of "All Programs". My recordings screen looks like this when filtered to only include children's recordings:



    Filtering to only show Children's recordings


    As opposed to what it used to look like:



    No filtering at all


    To change the filter, press the menu key on your remote, or the M key on the keyboard. You'll see this menu:



    The recordings menu


    Select "Change Group Filter" from the menu. If you configured a password to change between filters, then the user interface to enter that password is displayed:



    Entering a password


    Enter your super secret password, and then you'll be prompted with a list of possible filters. If you didn't enable a password, you will of course end up going directly to this menu:



    Selecting a new filter


    And you've escaped the tyranny of the filter!

    It would be nice for the filtering to be more granular, and there have been some proposals in that direction, although that proposal isn't a perfect solution either.

    Tags for this post: mythtv filter parental howto
    Related posts: The new way of converting JPEGs to MPEGs; How to lay people off; Make Magazine: Building a Myth TV Box part 1; Getting started with OpenStack development

posted at: 18:33 | path: /mythtv/filter/parental | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 16 Jun 2007



How to transcode video for the Nokia N800

posted at: 13:47 | path: /mythtv/transcode | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 14 Jun 2007



Blathering for Thursday, 14 June 2007

posted at: 11:19 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 09 Jun 2007



Building a symlink tree for MythTV recordings

    I wanted to build a directory of symlinks that pointed to my MythTV recordings, so I wrote a little python script to do it for me. I figure someone else might find this useful too...

      #!/usr/bin/python
      
      # Copyright (C) Michael Still (mikal@stillhq.com) 2007
      # Released under the terms of the GNU GPL
      
      import MySQLdb
      import os
      import re
      
      from socket import gethostname
      
      # Connect to the MythTV database based on the MythTV config
      config_values = {}
      home = os.environ.get('HOME')
      config = open(home + '/.mythtv/mysql.txt')
      for line in config.readlines():
        if not line.startswith('#') and len(line) > 5:
          (key, value) = line.rstrip('\n').split('=')
          config_values[key] = value
      
      db_connection = MySQLdb.connect(host = config_values['DBHostName'],
                                      user = config_values['DBUserName'],
                                      passwd = config_values['DBPassword'],
                                      db = config_values['DBName'])
      cursor = db_connection.cursor(MySQLdb.cursors.DictCursor)
      
      # Regexp for what is allowed in the symlink name
      unsafe = re.compile('[^a-zA-Z0-9\-\:_]+')
      
      # Find the recordings directory -- this assumes you haven't used an
      # identifier string for this machine...
      cursor.execute('select * from settings where value="RecordFilePrefix" and '
                     'hostname="%s";' % gethostname())
      row = cursor.fetchone()
      basedir = row['data']
      
      # Now find all the recordings we have at the moment
      cursor.execute('select title, subtitle, starttime, basename from recorded;')
      
      for i in range(cursor.rowcount):
        row = cursor.fetchone()
      
        title = row['title']
        subtitle = row['subtitle']
        if subtitle == '':
          subtitle = str(row['starttime'])
      
        title = title.replace(' ', '_')
        title = unsafe.sub('', title)
      
        subtitle = subtitle.replace(' ', '_')
        subtitle = unsafe.sub('', subtitle)
      
        extn = row['basename'].split('.')[1]
      
        try:
          os.mkdir(title)
        except:
          pass
      
        try:
          os.symlink('%s/%s' %(basedir, row['basename']),
                     '%s/%s.%s' %(title, subtitle, extn))
        except:
          pass
      


    This creates a tree of symlinks in the current directory that looks like this:

      $ find . -type l
      ./Masterminds/Air_America
      ./Tech_Now/Getting_Famous
      ./Babar/To_Tell_or_Not_to_Tell
      ./Babar/The_Intruder
      ./Babar/Special_Delivery
      ./Babar/Conga_the_Terrible
      ./Babar/The_Celestville_Enquirer
      ./The_Backyardigans/Viking_Voyage
      ./The_Backyardigans/Cops_and_Robots
      ./The_Backyardigans/Eureka
      ./The_Backyardigans/Movers_of_Arabia
      ./The_Backyardigans/Save_the_Day
      ./Go_Diego_Go/Rainforest_Race
      ./Go_Diego_Go/Cool_Water_for_Ana_the_Anaconda
      ./Go_Diego_Go/Great_Jaguar_to_the_Rescue
      ./Go_Diego_Go/Diego_Saves_the_River_Dolphin
      ./Go_Diego_Go/Jorge_the_Little_Hawk_Learns_to_Migrate
      ./How_Its_Made/2007-06-08_09:30:00
      


    Tags for this post: mythtv symlink script python
    Related posts: Implementing SCP with paramiko; Packet capture in python; mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots; Calculating a SSH host key with paramiko; Rsyncing everything but the data; Twisted conch

posted at: 21:35 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


A quick trip to Monterey aquarium

    I've been really slack with putting pictures online recently. These are from a quick trip we went on to Monterey Bay Aquarium before I went to Dublin in April. The aquarium rocks, there's so much to take pictures of, and the kids like it so much that we could go back dozens of times.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20070428-aquarium photo

posted at: 19:08 | path: /events/pictures/20070428-aquarium | permanent link to this entry


How do you spot the Australian kids in an American playground?

    They're the ones wearing hats.

    Despite it being noon, the various American kids at the playground all lacked sun protection. In fact, they pretty much all lacked practical clothing, it was all way too dressy. Americans don't seem to have figured out skin cancer at all in fact, every weekend there are bikini clad young ladies sunning themselves around the pool, the schools don't require kids to wear sun protection, and it's pretty common to see outside workers not wearing any sun protection either. How odd.

    Tags for this post: travel usa skin cancer sun protection
    Related posts: Damn Interesting; Random idea

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


Wed, 06 Jun 2007



Blathering for Wednesday, 06 June 2007

posted at: 20:43 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 05 Jun 2007



Blathering for Tuesday, 05 June 2007

    10:21: I've been writing JavaScript for the last couple of days
    10:21: This stuff is kind of cool
    10:21: I think it might have a future


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 10:21 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 03 Jun 2007



Review

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


Mon, 21 May 2007



Mountain View solar cells

posted at: 14:17 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Yak shaving goal

posted at: 12:03 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 19 May 2007



Is yak shaving a good idea?

    There is a common story told in computing circles. You're trying to get some work done, and before you can finalise it you find that you need to fix a small bug in a library you use. On the way to fixing that bug, you find that you need to improve something else as well, and so on. Eventually you look up and discover that you're shaving a yak, and that it's somehow needed to deliver that first project.

    I have a theoretical interest in DDoS attacks and especially how they relate to SMTP servers on the Internet at the moment. Somehow that ended up with me reading a bunch of academic research from the ACM portal about email worm behaviour (hence the interest in the recent tech talk from Vern Paxson about the witty worm) and content delivery networks like Akamai.

    Reading up on Akamai lead me to discover Planet Lab, which is insanely cool. I'm left with all these wild ideas for side projects to pursue from there.

    Bring on the yak.

    Tags for this post: blog yak shaving planetlab cdn akamai
    Related posts: Queer eye for the straight guy quiz: which way do you shave?; On Akamai

posted at: 17:02 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 17 May 2007



Blathering for Thursday, 17 May 2007

posted at: 10:07 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 16 May 2007



Blathering for Wednesday, 16 May 2007

    17:59: At the park with the boys
    18:00: Andrew was sick last night, otherwise we would have all gone to the parent teacher night together
    18:01: It's a bit scary that the kids are old enough that I now need to think of parent teacher nights
    18:01: Luckily we'll be done with school things in a mere 14 years!


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 18:01 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


The witty worm with Vern Paxson

posted at: 14:44 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 15 May 2007



Blathering for Tuesday, 15 May 2007

    08:02: IPv4 address space usage: an interesting map. I guess that puts the lie to claims we're going to imminently run out of addresses. I would think large blocks of the allocated space are not in use either.
    18:47: I'm in safeway (a super market)
    18:48: and the lady in front of me is buying two weeks of frozen meals
    18:48: Wow
    18:53: Safeway really sucks when the electronic payments system goes down


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 18:53 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 14 May 2007



Blathering for Monday, 14 May 2007

    14:46: Waste in America -- checkout this gallery of visualizations of waste in America. I imagine that Australia isn't much better when you take into account population factors.
    18:41: Just upgraded the ram in Catherine's macbook
    18:41: A few surprises:
    18:42: - You need a teeny tiny screwdriver, it took us a little while to find my jeweler's drivers
    18:42: - You need to twiddle these weird arms to get the RAM out
    18:42: - You need to use a _lot_ of force to get the new RAM seated properly. I ended up using both thumbs
    18:43: - The machine boots insanely fast now. From cold to login prompt in less than 30 seconds


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 18:43 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 13 May 2007



Blathering for Sunday, 13 May 2007

    21:50: Pages of academic research on distributed denial of service attacks read so far this year: 513


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 21:50 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 12 May 2007



Is there any way to access the match text in MySQL rlike selects?

    Hi. I am doing a select like this in MySQL 5:

      select * from foo where bar rlike '(.*),(.*)';
      


    The specific example here is made up. Anyway, I'd like to be able to get to the matched text from bar, like I can with various languages regexp libraries. Is this functionality exposed at all in MySQL? I've looked at the docs and can't see any indication that it is, so this might just be wishful thinking.

    Tags for this post: mysql regexp rlike select
    Related posts: Python effective TLD library update

posted at: 08:17 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 11 May 2007



Blathering for Friday, 11 May 2007

    08:40: One of the cafes at work has started naming dishes after me. This is because I complained about the oatmeal having wierd stuff in it... Now every time they do something odd with oatmeal they name it after me. It's a disturbing trend.
    08:58: It's interesting how accepting of aircraft noise americans are compared with australia. Here airports seem to mostly be in the middle of urban areas and people just put up with the noise. We even have a military airport near us. People just tune of the noise (although that is a little hard to do with fighters during takeoff). In australia there would be a riot...
    09:03: Oh, that explains the aircraft noise. Military transports seem to be coming into Moffett at the moment at about one every five minutes. We're on the landing path.
    18:29: Beer at work is good
    18:46: In fact all beer is good


    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 18:46 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 10 May 2007



Blathering for Thursday, 10 May 2007

    06:52: About to blog about blather
    07:07: I can't remember the HTML entity for left square bracket!
    07:07: Oh, it's [
    07:10: I think Blather would be more compelling if I had something to say. Heh.
    08:25: Apparently there is a town in Germany called
    08:25: Fucking. Just saying.
    10:56: Quote: "If you thought my joke about the Coriolis effect was funny, I predict no one wanted to have sex with you in the past week. And next week isnt looking good for you either." http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/05/im_a_morning_pe.html
    11:09: Fixed a unicode bug in blather
    13:18: Fire alarm in my building
    13:18: Apparently slightly-older-Michael's cube was "on fire"
    13:18: But in a no-fire-present kind of way
    17:58: At the dentist yet again... Fourth time in two months.
    19:01: Commands to get the Zalman HD160 LCD and remote control working with MythTV:
    19:01: - sudo ./irserver -debug_code /dev/ttyUSB0
    19:02: - sudo ./server/LCDd -c LCDd.conf
    19:03: I really should add that to the init script, given I had completely forgotten what commands to run since the last reboot 38 days ago
    19:47: Blather is quite useful for short notes
    19:47: If you're on Ubuntu Feisty Fawn, and you reboot a machine with an nvidia card, and XV video acceleration stops working
    19:48: (This might exhibit as itself as videos not having any pictures, while still having audio in players like MythTV)
    19:48: Then you need to: sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx-new
    19:48: And restart X


    Tags for this post: blather

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


Apparently I am ruder in the office than I realise

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


Blather, an open source Twitter work-alike for Blosxom and Google Talk

    This post is brought to you by jet lag (I got up at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep), music (the Black Eyed Peas!), morning coffee, and my confusion about Twitter.

    Another thing I don't understand about Twitter is given it's simplicity why it hasn't been implemented by three billion sites by now. To that end, I give you blather, a gtalkbot module that implements Twitter-like features for blosxom (the blog engine I use for this site).

    Here's the code:

      #!/usr/bin/python2.4
      #
      # Copyright (c) Michael Still 2007, released under the terms of the GNU GPL v2
      
      """blather.py -- a very simple replacement for Twitter that works with blosxom
      """
      
      import cPickle
      import datetime
      import os
      
      # This is the location to write the blog files to, you'll need to customise it
      _prefix = '/data/stillhq.com/blather/'
      
      def Verbs():
        """Verbs -- return the verbs which this module supports"""
        return ['b']
      
      def Status():
        """Status -- suggest a message to display as the status string for the bot"""
        return 'Blathering away'
      
      def Help(verb):
        """Help -- display help for a verb"""
      
        if verb == 'b':
          return 'Use this to have whatever you say blogged in the blather category'
        return ''
      
      def Command(verb, line):
        """Command -- execute a given verb with these arguments"""
      
        if verb == 'b':
          data = {}
          filename = datetime.datetime.now().strftime('%Y%m%d')
          print 'Blathering %s into %s' %(line, filename)
      
          # Load the pickle for this day (if it exists)
          p_filename = '%s%s.pkl' %(_prefix, filename)
          if os.path.exists(p_filename):
            p_file = open(p_filename, 'r')
            data = cPickle.load(p_file)
            p_file.close()
          else:
            data['upto'] = 0
      
          # Append this message to the pickle
          data[data['upto'] + 1] = '>b<%s>/b<: %s>br/<' \
                                   %(datetime.datetime.now().strftime('%H:%M'), line)
          data['upto'] += 1
      
          # Save our state
          p_file = open(p_filename, 'w')
          cPickle.dump(data, p_file)
          p_file.close()
      
          # And then churn out some HTML
          b_filename = '%s%s.blog' %(_prefix, filename)
          b_file = open(b_filename, 'w')
          b_file.write('Blathering for %s\n'
                       % datetime.datetime.now().strftime('%A, %d %B %Y'))
          for i in range(1, data['upto'] + 1):
            b_file.write('%s\n' % data[i])
      
          b_file.write('\n[btags: ]')
          b_file.close()
      
          return "Done"
      
        return 'Huh?'
      
      def Cleanup():
        """Cleanup -- you're about to be unloaded"""
        return
      
      # Do initialisation here
      print u'blather_bot is loading'
      


    This took about 15 minutes to write using gtalkbot (which does basically all the heavy lifting). Now I can IM messages to my home machine, it will generate a blog post per day of the IM messages, and they then get pushed to the live site regularly. Cool, huh?

    Tags for this post: blather source code google talk gtalk bot
    Related posts: A MythTV Jabber bot; mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots; mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots; Renaming mbot to gtalkbot; MythTV talk at Google; gtalkbot 1.1

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


Wed, 09 May 2007



On Virgin Atlantic premium economy

    Welcome to Mikal's badly organised travel tips. On the trip to Dublin I flew Virgin Atlantic premium economy. That's kind of like anyone else's business class, given the classes on Virgin are economy, premium economy, and upper class. It's much cheaper than anyone else's business class fare to Heathrow though. I thought that premium economy was pretty good... The seats are old and both of the ones I sat in were subtly broken, but the seat spacing is excellent, the seat is wider than normal, and reclines just that little extra.

    The extra money was worth it given I got off the plane and walked straight into a meeting in Dublin, and on the return flight I got a heap of work done. Premium economy even offers power for laptops, although my corporate-issue iGo doesn't work with the new Lenovo x60, and Virgin didn't have a tip for the x60 in their collection. That's a pretty common compliant with the newer Intel Core2 laptops though -- they draw too much power for older universal power supplies. I got around the power problem with two "eight hour" batteries for the x60. The quotes are because I actually get more like four or five hours off these batteries rather than the claimed eight hours.

    (Oh, by the way, the x60 rocks. Small. Light. Insanely fast with it's dual processors. I sent some time running a script which did a lot of processing and IO though, and the machine got too hot to sit on my lap!)

    I've now flown premium economy on the upper and lower deck of the 747, and the upper deck is clearly better. On the top deck you get a deck shared only with premium and upper class (Virgin's first class), a reading station with newspapers and magazines, a slightly quieter ride, and you don't have people walking past to economy making snob comments. On the down side, you do end up with a much smaller overhead bin. Basically no one's bag fitted in it. There is a big coat locker though, so it's not like your bag is far away.

    If you have a window seat, then you also get a small vertical locker next to you, which is a nice place to put your laptop and ipod during takeoff and landing.

    On the lower deck you get all the economy people walking past, and in fact they seem to wander into the premium section of the plane during the flight. Often they would just stand there looking at me work, which was a bit rude. You also share a bathroom with the rest of the economy cabin, unlike upstairs. That leads to congestion. Worst of all, the premium section is on either side of the forward galley. That means constant staff movement next to you, light, and noise. Luckily for me I was flying while trying to stay awake, I would have found this really annoying otherwise.

    You do get a big overhead bin though.

    So, premium economy good, although the seats could do with some basic maintenance. I'd pick it over standard economy any day.

    Other random notes: Virgin staff are nice, there is video on demand in all seats (which means of the airlines I have flown Qantas, New Zealand and Virgin have this -- unlike United). In fact, Virgin was really good all round.

    Tags for this post: travel airlines virgin atlantic
    Related posts: On customer service

posted at: 12:14 | path: /travel/airlines | permanent link to this entry


On Twitter

posted at: 07:54 | path: /twitter | permanent link to this entry


Dublin trip

    I occasionally wonder to myself why I don't blog more these days, and I think the answer is that I'm not convinced that other people would be interested in what happens to me from day to day. For example, when writing the books, all that is really involved is a massive amount of time in front of a computer. The finished product is cool, but the process of producing it is actually quite boring.

    (Although I feel that I will one day write up my universal theory of project management... The short summary is something like: "project management is about removing obstacles to delivery of the project -- not deadlines, hassling, gantt charts, or general futzing". Or something like that.) The Dublin trip is similar. I had a good time, although am very tired. I flew Virgin Atlantic premium economy from San Francisco to Heathrow, and then BMI to Dublin. Virgin is great, BMI suck even more than I could have imagined. For example -- they advertise that they have the best on time record of any LHR flying airline, but they were late every time on my trip. Oh, and one of the planes had a power generation engine which didn't work, so we had to deplane in the dark. Oh, and no food. So much suck.

    (Oh, and who knew that the EU had instituted US style 3 ounce / 100 millilitre zip lock bag policies? I didn't.)

    BMI also seem to have a policy of hiring midgets as flight attendants. They were all young women of about five foot tall. I guess that's convenient in a short aircraft, but where does one find a large stock of midgets to hire from?

    The hotel in Dublin was fantastic. It's called the Berkeley Court, and there is no point in saying much more about it because it's being torn down to build office buildings and apartments. How crap. I can't imagine owning one of the lovely Victorian terraces across the street either during or after the construction of yet another identical looking office building.

    Dublin seems to be all about economic growth at the moment. There are plenty of identical looking office buildings around -- some of them even built on top of sites of historical artifacts like Viking settlements. Apparently they didn't even stop to dig up the old things before concreting over them.

    I liked Dublin though.

    It was also odd to see Sinn Fein posters all over the place. I find the transition from the political wing of the IRA to being a main stream political party to be quite strange. (That sentence used to be more harsh, but I edited it down).

    Another odd thing was to discover the stereotypes are true (to a certain extent). There are plenty of drunk folk on the streets on weekends from about lunch onwards.

    I got lots of tourist stuff done in Dublin, but didn't see much of the countryside. Perhaps next time. I did see the National Museum (bog people!), the Chester Beattie National Library (ancient religious texts!), Dublin Castle (Sinead O'Conner in concert preparations!), Malahide Castle, the south wall, and other stuff I don't remember at the moment.

    So there you go. I figure no one finds these posts interesting, so I will continue to write them solely when it amuses me.

    Tags for this post: travel ireland dublin politics
    Related posts: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; Daughter of the Empire; Servant of the Empire; Mistress of the Empire; I am sometimes amazed by the childlike political discourse in the US; Asimov's Aurora

posted at: 07:08 | path: /travel/ireland/dublin | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 04 May 2007



Book printed!

posted at: 13:46 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


A large percentage of marriages fail

posted at: 02:04 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Australian Health Insurance

posted at: 01:24 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 03 May 2007



Australian teachers advocate a China style firewall for Australian internet users

posted at: 03:30 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 02 May 2007



What do you do when the users who generate your content revolt?

posted at: 05:17 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 01 May 2007



Dublin!

    I'm in Ireland at the moment for work -- I've been here a couple of days now (which might explain why I am online at 4am local time, I am having some trouble sleeping). Anyways, it's nice here. I wasn't really expecting to like it after how much I disliked London the last time I went there, but there you go.

    Photos et cetera will go online just as soon as I manage to do something other than go to the office.

    Tags for this post: travel ireland dublin

posted at: 21:03 | path: /travel/ireland/dublin | permanent link to this entry


Domain name lookup helper for python?

    Hi. I have a list of the domain portion of URLs which looks a bit like this:

    Whois lookup for fycnds.digitalpoimt.com
    Whois lookup for wvgpzdea.digitalpoimt.com
    Whois lookup for zhnsht.digitalpoimt.com
    Whois lookup for frigo25.php5.cz
    Whois lookup for handrovina.php5.cz
    Whois lookup for blabota.php5.cz
    Whois lookup for pctuzing.php5.cz
    Whois lookup for viagraviagra.php5.cz
    Whois lookup for poiu.php5.cz
    Whois lookup for flasa.php5.cz
    Whois lookup for yoy4.digitalpoimt.com
    Whois lookup for hskly.digitalpoimt.com
    Whois lookup for 2i0wjwbc.digitalpoimt.com
    Whois lookup for harnhjc.digitalpoimt.com
    Whois lookup for gqru.digitalpoimt.com
    


    I need some code which determines which portion of these hostnames is a whois-able domain name. My problem is this doesn't seem all that simple to do -- some countries have a second layer of TLDs, and some do not.

    Does anyone know of a python library, or failing that simple algorithm, which will do this for me?

    (For those left wondering, I am trying to do some analysis of the spam I get on this blog, and for that I want to know if the whois information for a domain that left a suspect comment indicates anything suspicious.)

    Tags for this post: python internet whois lookup
    Related posts: I think I've worked out the problem with the hotel network; Internet access in Perth; iBurst: Qantas Club Sydney domestic terminal two; iBurst: Coverage in Canberra still sucks; Internet outage; On hotel Internet that sucks

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


Sun, 29 Apr 2007



I imagine this is pretty much the worst case they design for

posted at: 11:03 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 26 Apr 2007



Managing MySQL the Slack Way: How Google Deploys New MySQL Servers

posted at: 20:40 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2007 | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 23 Apr 2007



MySQL Users Conference

posted at: 08:30 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2007 | permanent link to this entry


Hotmail again

posted at: 08:26 | path: /microsoft | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 22 Apr 2007



Ewwww

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


Nerd link of the day

posted at: 09:12 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 21 Apr 2007



Air America drug smuggling

    Just saw a documentary about the Air America drug smuggling operation. It's really interesting -- modified light planes, flying into storms to avoid detection, basically not being as dumb as your average smuggler. There is a New York Times article online about the gang.

    Tags for this post: link drug smuggler

posted at: 14:06 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 16 Apr 2007



Mark is right

posted at: 18:59 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 15 Apr 2007



A momentary crisis of faith, and who am I anyway?

    I find that I have these odd periods at the end of big projects. I wander around for a bit wondering what I am meant to do now that the burningly urgent things are off my todo list. This time normally ends up being playing with the kids, watching TV or being mopey.

    I offer this little sequence as the blog form of a holding pattern until I know what I am going to work on next...

      The other day I discovered that I no longer know who I am all the time. Specifically, slack unsets the environment, which means that the whoami command no longer works when you are running a command as root. To whit:

      sudo bash
      Password:
      root@machine:~# whoami
      root
      root@machine:~# echo $SUDO_USER
      mikal
      


      So, if SUDO_USER is unset, how do I determine who the command is running as? Well, my immediate thought was that /proc would have something, and in fact it does. Here is what I ended up with:

      root@machine:~# cat /proc/$$/environ | sed 's/[^[:print:]]/\n/g' | grep USERNAME
      USERNAME=mikal
      


      Horrible, isn't it? I must also admit that I had to get onto IRC and wait for Jaq to teach me about that :print: thing. Good on him for being nerdier than me.

      So, that's still horrible. So horrible. What else can I do? Someone else in IRC land suggested:

      root@machine:~# ps auxeww | grep $$ | sed -e 's/^.*SUDO_USER=//' -e 's/ .*$//'
      root
      mikal
      


      Still ewwww. So what else is there? Well, one of the older geeks on the IRC channel suggested this:

      root@machine:~# who am i
      mikal    pts/16       Apr 15 15:38 (:0.0)
      root@machine:~# who -m
      mikal    pts/16       Apr 15 15:38 (:0.0)
      root@machine:~# who -m | awk '{print $1}'
      mikal
      


      who am i is an alias for the -m option in who. And it's just what I want. We have a winner!


    Tags for this post: blog whoami sudo user unix geekery
    Related posts: netcat vs nc; What do you do when the users who generate your content revolt?; Rsyncing everything but the data; Slashdot, Google and Slack; Why does every man and his dog put man pages online?; Alternate queries on results pages making it easier for future evilness?

posted at: 15:58 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Status

posted at: 15:42 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 14 Apr 2007



Macintosh backups, a better way

posted at: 18:50 | path: /macintosh/osx | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 11 Apr 2007



You are bidding on social justice

posted at: 20:11 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 07 Apr 2007



I don't claim these are new

posted at: 23:35 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


gtalkbot 1.3

posted at: 21:56 | path: /gtalkbot | permanent link to this entry


Free kitchen designer from Ikea

posted at: 19:22 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 30 Mar 2007



I just noticed...

posted at: 12:09 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


I just noticed...

posted at: 12:09 | path: /presentations | permanent link to this entry


Managing MySQL the Slack Way: How Google Deploys New MySQL Servers

posted at: 11:47 | path: /mysql/conference/mysqluc2007 | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 29 Mar 2007



Done and done

posted at: 19:44 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Scott Adam's blog: the boner theory of management

posted at: 08:35 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 27 Mar 2007



An occasional rant about spam

posted at: 07:38 | path: /diary/spam | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 25 Mar 2007



MythTV on AMD 64

posted at: 17:56 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 22 Mar 2007



Peaked?



    I don't mean to imply I have peaked yet myself, but this is something I wonder about sometimes. How do you tell when you're at the peak of your talent and shouldn't go for that next interesting job / project / promotion?

    Presumably it happens to everyone at some stage that they end up at the edge of their competence. Ignoring additional training as an option for a second, surely it's a good measure of one's personality to therefore stop at that point. How do you know when you reach that point though?

    Tags for this post: work talent wondering

posted at: 22:21 | path: /work | permanent link to this entry


Dentist

    I went to the dentist for the first time in the US last night. It was a pretty odd experience. 19 xrays (apparently that's standard here), a TV set on the wall where they showed me the tooth which needs a filling, and then showed me the filling after it was done, photos of my teeth with a digital camera so they can show me before and after in a few years. Heck, they rubbed lotion on my lips for me so that I wouldn't have to suffer at all by keeping my mouth open for more than 30 seconds.

    The best bit? They came up with a written estimate before they did the filling, and made sure I was ok with the whole thing before they did any work.

    I think I like the dentist here.

    Tags for this post: travel usa dentist
    Related posts: Catherine had her wisdom teeth out today

posted at: 12:00 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 17 Mar 2007



MythNetTV beta 4

    As it says in the email:

    To: Discussion about mythtv <mythtv-users@mythtv.org>
    Subject: MythNetTV beta 4
    
    Hi again.
    
    MythNetTv is my video downloader / aggregator / importer thingie for MythTV.
    
    I've spent a little longer testing this beta, and I think it's getting
    kinda ready for a real release number or something. New things in this
    version (from the change log):
    
      - Made --update more terse
      - Made --update more liberal about what it considers to be a video,
        specifically added video/quick time and text/html (to work around the
        rather broken http://www.mobuzztv.com/uk/rss/quicktime
      - Added a filter option to --download to constrain it to only
        downloading shows with a specific title
      - Added transcoding for mov and wmv2 files
      - If there is a straggling import, and it causes as error, just skip
        it and mark it as imported
      - Don't reset transferred data statistic when we start downloading a
        show again
      - Started implementing moniker support for downloads
      - Unsupported monikers will result in an attempt to download the URL
        using mplayer (which works for RTSP and MMS at the least)
    
    Yes, that's right. You can now download only shows with a specific
    title, and you can also download any protocol which mplayer supports --
    specifically, RTSP and MMS are now supported.
    
    Now, if only there was a non-sucky way to work out what streams
    abc.net.au were offering at any given time...
    
    Get it here if you care: http://www.stillhq.com/mythtv/mythnettv/
    
    Mikal
    


    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv beta release video download rtsp mms stream
    Related posts: MythNetTV release 1; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythIPTV Beta 2; RemoteWorker v74; Another version of blather; MythNetTV release 2

posted at: 18:42 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 16 Mar 2007



Dell e310 upgrade

posted at: 08:35 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 14 Mar 2007



Kernel report video

posted at: 18:55 | path: /conference/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 06 Mar 2007



MySQL scaling: query snipers

posted at: 11:03 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 04 Mar 2007



I am sometimes amazed by the childlike political discourse in the US

    It amazes me that the best political argument Ann Coulter can come up with is that John Edwards is a faggot. While it is true that Ann specialises in a particularly vile form of hate politics, I guess she's sufficiently lame that she can't even think of good insults any more.

    It's a bit like the Anna Nicole Smith burial thing... Isn't the best way to fix these problems just to turn off the media coverage of these morons?

    Tags for this post: travel usa politics

posted at: 09:59 | path: /travel/usa/politics | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 03 Mar 2007



LCA 2007 Video: CFQ IO

posted at: 13:44 | path: /conference/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


Free on demand from Comcast

    Catherine and I have had analog Comcast cable TV in the US since we moved into our apartment here. We've resisted going digital because of the brain dead requirement that you use the Comcast set top box (which sucks), and therefore it not working with MythTV. If they shipped a digital decoder card which worked in a PCI slot with Linux, I would upgrade right away.

    I've told them that a bunch of times, and they've offered us free upgrades about four times.

    In the end they must have got the hint, because they just gave us a free "on demand" digital box for our analog cable. It's free for a year, and appears to be a Motorola DCT 700, which seems to just be a embedded computer which uses a two megabit connection to Comcast to deliver programs.

    Now I'm meant to be activating the device, but I've been on hold with Comcast for 15 minutes. The user documentation even promises the call should only take three to four minutes. Of course plugging the MythTV box into the back of the Motorola box also broke our existing analog reception, so I might end up giving on the call and backing out the cabling change until Comcast gets with the program...

    More device gossip as it comes to hand.

    Tags for this post: blog toys motorola comcast analog digital set top box on demand free
    Related posts: Top Gear Australia; Free kitchen designer from Ikea; Getting rid of cable TV?; Feedster Top 500; Build your own cables; Canon EOS 350D

posted at: 10:32 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 26 Feb 2007



Controlling DirecTV STB via USB

posted at: 14:43 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Debugging reboot problems with a n800?

posted at: 09:45 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 25 Feb 2007



Now, about the video backlog

      $ ./mythnettv --statistics
      Programs tracked: 385
        Google EngEdu: 279
        Scoble Show: 26
        linux.conf.au 2007: 74
      
      Programs still to download: 283
        Google EngEdu: 202
        Scoble Show: 8
        linux.conf.au 2007: 73
      
      Data transferred: 22 gb
      


    This is why I want to queue video, and then have it download to Myth a little at a time.

    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv

posted at: 20:12 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


MythNetTv Beta 3

    Beta 3 is out! It includes:

    • Renamed to mythnettv
    • todoremote bug fixed (bad column name)
    • statistics bug fixed (no transfer stats caused crash)
    • It is now possible to do a --todoremote, --importremote, or --importlocal and provide all the needed information on the command line


    Get it from here.

    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv

posted at: 20:03 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


Renaming!

posted at: 19:53 | path: /mythtv/mythiptv | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 24 Feb 2007



Let it be known I am open to bribes

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


Summing up Santa Monica

posted at: 08:15 | path: /travel/usa/california/santamonica | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 22 Feb 2007



Santa Monica

    I'm currently waiting as part of boarding group A for my South West flight to Santa Monica. I should be there by lunch. So, any last minute suggestions for things to do in Santa Monica apart from drink a lot?

    Tags for this post: travel usa california santamonica

posted at: 09:18 | path: /travel/usa/california/santamonica | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 21 Feb 2007



Ordered: Nokia N800

posted at: 13:19 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 19 Feb 2007



MythIPTV Beta 2

    Just announced. It was either do the washing, or this:

      Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 10:11:09 -0800
      From: Michael Still 
      To: Discussion about mythtv 
      Subject: MythIPTV Beta 2
      
      Hi again.
      
      There's a new version of MythIPTV now at http://www.stillhq.com/mythtv/mythiptv/source/beta-2/
      
      This version adds the following:
      
       - subscription management: you can add RSS URLs to watch,
         list them, update them (download new versions of the XML and
         import the shows), and remove them
      
       - ad hoc video management: add a remote URL to the TODO list,
         download a remote URL and import it now, import a local file
      
       - transcoding: it's quite probable that you'll encounter a
         video format which isn't know. Please report it if you do
      
       - statistics: how many programs do I have? how many are waiting
         to download? how much data have I downloaded so far?
      
       - reporting: what shows would be downloaded next? what does the
         internal log say about the state of MythIPTV?
      
      Once again, this is a beta, so good backups are needed. I would love more feedback.
      
      Oh, and you _really_ need mplayer and mencoder installed now. Really.
      
      Cheers,
      Mikal
      


    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv release beta
    Related posts: MythNetTV beta 4; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythNetTV release 1; RemoteWorker v74; Another version of blather; MythNetTV release 2

posted at: 10:11 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


MythIPTV Beta 2

    Just announced. It was either do the washing, or this:

      Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 10:11:09 -0800
      From: Michael Still 
      To: Discussion about mythtv 
      Subject: MythIPTV Beta 2
      
      Hi again.
      
      There's a new version of MythIPTV now at http://www.stillhq.com/mythtv/mythiptv/source/beta-2/
      
      This version adds the following:
      
       - subscription management: you can add RSS URLs to watch,
         list them, update them (download new versions of the XML and
         import the shows), and remove them
      
       - ad hoc video management: add a remote URL to the TODO list,
         download a remote URL and import it now, import a local file
      
       - transcoding: it's quite probable that you'll encounter a
         video format which isn't know. Please report it if you do
      
       - statistics: how many programs do I have? how many are waiting
         to download? how much data have I downloaded so far?
      
       - reporting: what shows would be downloaded next? what does the
         internal log say about the state of MythIPTV?
      
      Once again, this is a beta, so good backups are needed. I would love more feedback.
      
      Oh, and you _really_ need mplayer and mencoder installed now. Really.
      
      Cheers,
      Mikal
      


    Tags for this post: mythtv mythiptv release beta
    Related posts: MythNetTV beta 4; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythNetTV release 1; RemoteWorker v74; Another version of blather; MythNetTV release 2

posted at: 10:11 | path: /mythtv/mythiptv | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 17 Feb 2007



MythIpTV Beta 1

    Some folk at LCA expressed interest in my video blog aggregator for MythTV. I've cleaned it up, and just sent out the first release:

      Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 09:38:04 -0800
      From: Michael Still 
      To: Discussion about mythtv 
      Subject: MythIpTv Beta 1
      
      Hi.
      
      I've been recently wanting a video blog aggregator which integrates with
      MythTV. Specifically, I wanted the videos to appear as recordings. I've
      had a horrible script for that for a few months, but ended up cleaning
      it up when it occurred to me that Akimbo (http://www.akimbo.com) is just
      a per user RSS feed, and something a lot like MythTV.
      
      So, I wrote MythIpTv. It takes RSS feeds, imports the entries in the
      feed and builds a TODO list. It then downloads shows and imports them
      into the MythTV recordings menu.
      
      The code has only been tested by me, so if you're interested in giving
      it a try, please take good backups. You can find the code here:
      http://www.stillhq.com/mythtv/mythiptv/source/beta-1/mythiptv
      
      Before use, you need to make a temporary data directory in your current
      working directory:
      
      mkdir data
      
      You use mythiptv like this:
      
      ./mythiptv --url <url to RSS feed> <show title>
      
      or
      
      ./mythiptv --file <RSS file on local disk> <show title>
      
      I've been using Google Video to test this, as the AVI format they use is
      natively supported by the MythTV player. This isn't true for a lot of
      RSS feeds and transcoding isn't implemented yet, so if you want
      something to test with, you might want to use the same command line as me:
      
      ./mythiptv --url
      "http://video.google.com/videofeed?type=search&q=engedu&so=1&num=20&output=rss"
      "Goole EngEdu"
      
      That command just builds a TODO list. You then need to download some of
      the shows. You do that like this:
      
      ./mythiptv --download <number of shows to download>
      
      Once downloaded, the shows will appear in the recordings menu.
      
      I would be really interested in people's comments on the code, and
      suggestions for improvement. There are a couple of things I know about
      already:
      
       - it really needs transcoding
       - the is no graphical UI yet
      
      Cheers,
      Mikal
      


    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv release
    Related posts: RemoteWorker v74; Another version of blather; MythNetTV release 2; MythNetTV release 7; PNGtools 0.4; MythNetTV release 6

posted at: 09:41 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


MythIpTV Beta 1

    Some folk at LCA expressed interest in my video blog aggregator for MythTV. I've cleaned it up, and just sent out the first release:

      Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 09:38:04 -0800
      From: Michael Still 
      To: Discussion about mythtv 
      Subject: MythIpTv Beta 1
      
      Hi.
      
      I've been recently wanting a video blog aggregator which integrates with
      MythTV. Specifically, I wanted the videos to appear as recordings. I've
      had a horrible script for that for a few months, but ended up cleaning
      it up when it occurred to me that Akimbo (http://www.akimbo.com) is just
      a per user RSS feed, and something a lot like MythTV.
      
      So, I wrote MythIpTv. It takes RSS feeds, imports the entries in the
      feed and builds a TODO list. It then downloads shows and imports them
      into the MythTV recordings menu.
      
      The code has only been tested by me, so if you're interested in giving
      it a try, please take good backups. You can find the code here:
      http://www.stillhq.com/mythtv/mythiptv/source/beta-1/mythiptv
      
      Before use, you need to make a temporary data directory in your current
      working directory:
      
      mkdir data
      
      You use mythiptv like this:
      
      ./mythiptv --url <url to RSS feed> <show title>
      
      or
      
      ./mythiptv --file <RSS file on local disk> <show title>
      
      I've been using Google Video to test this, as the AVI format they use is
      natively supported by the MythTV player. This isn't true for a lot of
      RSS feeds and transcoding isn't implemented yet, so if you want
      something to test with, you might want to use the same command line as me:
      
      ./mythiptv --url
      "http://video.google.com/videofeed?type=search&q=engedu&so=1&num=20&output=rss"
      "Goole EngEdu"
      
      That command just builds a TODO list. You then need to download some of
      the shows. You do that like this:
      
      ./mythiptv --download <number of shows to download>
      
      Once downloaded, the shows will appear in the recordings menu.
      
      I would be really interested in people's comments on the code, and
      suggestions for improvement. There are a couple of things I know about
      already:
      
       - it really needs transcoding
       - the is no graphical UI yet
      
      Cheers,
      Mikal
      


    Tags for this post: mythtv mythiptv release
    Related posts: RemoteWorker v74; Another version of blather; MythNetTV release 2; MythNetTV release 7; PNGtools 0.4; MythIpTV Beta 1

posted at: 09:41 | path: /mythtv/mythiptv | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 14 Feb 2007



I think I've worked out the problem with the hotel network

posted at: 07:55 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 13 Feb 2007



More bomb shelters!

    People who visit here (of which I assume there are none) will know that I occasionally rant about how cool bomb shelters are. Dad put me onto this excellent article about the Swiss: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6347519.stm

    Under Swiss law, local governments are required to provide shelter spaces for everyone, and in the early 1970s Lucerne was short by several thousand. The new Sonnenberg motorway tunnel, just being built, seemed a neat solution: kit it out as a nuclear shelter as well and it could hold 20,000 people.

    ...

    The monstrous Sonnenberg shelter though, is being gradually dismantled. But not because it has finally been deemed unnecessary: no, no, the real problem is those 350 tonne blast doors. When they were tested, they would not shut.


    Yet another stop on my eventual bomb shelter tour of the world.

    Tags for this post: travel switzerland bomb shelter
    Related posts: Random fact for the day; London bombs

posted at: 20:49 | path: /travel/switzerland | permanent link to this entry


Places I have worked from in the last two weeks

    I have worked from Mountain View, Lake Tahoe, Monterey, two kinds of buses, and a rental car in the last two weeks. I guess that might explain why I am so behind on email. I'm also doing page layout reviews for the MythTV book, which is exciting, but takes a lot of time.

    The reality? If you're email is important, I will probably get back to you as soon as I can. Sorry.

    Tags for this post: blog travel work busy

posted at: 20:36 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 11 Feb 2007



I've worked out why I'm tired

    Bad night's sleep (Matt's sick), 100 pages of technical book read, five loads of washing, 50 pages of kids book, a trip to the computer store and toy store with the kids. I think I know why I am tried.

    Tags for this post: blog tired
    Related posts: Tired; Friends say the darndest things

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


Akimbo

    I was at Fry's today with the kids, and while wandering around I came across the Akimbo. It's an interesting device -- a hardware player that downloads content over your Internet connection, and then plays those videos for you when you ask nicely. You can select what you want to download form their website, and they have a (smallish it seems to me) collection of commercial content.

    They seem to be aiming at being the next iTunes store -- you can get them to host your video blog, and they will make it available to their devices. You can even charge for people to watch your recorded rantings.

    I see a couple of problems though:

    • The device is expensive ($200 US is recommended retail, you can get them for $99 at the moment)
    • This functionality would be trivial to implement in MythTV for free (in fact, I have been sitting on a python script that does this for MythTV since LCA -- it just needs some cleanup before release)
    • They use DRM
    • Even worse, they use MS Windows DRM


    I wonder if anyone has asked them if they'd be willing to allow a MythTV client?

    Tags for this post: mythtv iptv akimbo

posted at: 20:45 | path: /mythtv/iptv/akimbo | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 07 Feb 2007



Random idea

posted at: 17:45 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 04 Feb 2007



Time for a status update?

posted at: 17:49 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 03 Feb 2007



Big TVs are evil, Ok?

posted at: 13:05 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 31 Jan 2007



Hey look, Secunia reads FreshMeat!

    I hope no one is paying Secunia for their security advisories. I release gtalkbot 1.0 (where you had to pass the GTalk user name and password on the command line), and then changed that behaviour in 1.1. The Secunia rocket scientists figured out all by themselves that this was bad. Bad enough for a security advisory?

    A security issue has been reported in gtalkbot, which can be exploited by malicious, local users to disclose sensitive information.

    The problem is that certain user credentials are passed to the application as arguments on the command line. This can be exploited to gain knowledge of usernames and passwords of other services via the process list.

    The security issue is reported in versions prior to 1.1.


    Ummm, the GTalk account is created for the purpose, and so it's not uber secure anyways. In fact, it's only visible to local users, who are presumably trusted anyways given that gtalkbot also needs the unauthenticated telnet interface to MythTV enabled to work. Wow. I assume that Secunia just reads every FreshMeat security release, and makes an announcement about it. Oh, and those three nearly paragraphs took over two weeks!

    Update: but wait, there's more! I made it into the US Federal Government's vulnerability database too, complete with an incorrect "Authentication: Not required to exploit". I guess the Feds can't read python code?

    Update: perhaps Secunia is just reprinting this lame advisory? Do these people just reprint each other's work all the time? Again with the hoping people aren't earning money by making suckers think they're helping...

    The fun continues: yay for SecWatch and systembodyguard!

    Tags for this post: gtalkbot secunia security advisory
    Related posts: Security Hyperventilating; Anyone for a little light WEP cracking?; What US address should I give?; Collisions in MD5 sums; A letter to Kensington; Theorising on Kensington lock insecurity

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


Mon, 22 Jan 2007



Planes at 600 meters!

posted at: 16:05 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Slack talk at SLUG

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


Sun, 21 Jan 2007



That's one way of doing it...

posted at: 19:07 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Screenshots of entire webpages using Firefox

posted at: 16:00 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 20 Jan 2007



Please don't

    A fresh cup mentions the Ruby on Rails exception notifier plugin. The idea is that every time an exception is raised in your code you get an email. This is such a horrible idea that I need to take the time to comment.

    As someone who spends all his time dealing with large deployments of software, email is the worst way of reporting errors I can think of. Think about it:

    • Email is unreliable to deliver. It could get queued on the reporting server, a mail router on the network, or on your delivery server. Worse than that, it could get marked as spam, or randomly discarded.
    • Email is expensive. There are two kinds of expense here -- email needs to be written to disk reliably, which means you sync() when you write the mail to a destination or a queue. For some MTAs, this can mean several syncs() per email as the mail moves between queues. There can be more than one of these MTAs on the way to the final delivery target as well. Additionally, storing email at the destination is expensive. Think of the backups, virus scanning, spam scanning, caching on clients and so forth.
    • Email is wasteful. Think of all those headers for probably only a couple of lines or actual error to report.
    • One email can result in many deliveries. To make the expense worse, your one email might get delivered many times. Think aliases, blackberries and mailing lists.
    • Email is dumb. You wont get a summary of repetition -- if there are 10,000 errors, you'll get 10,000 emails. Try wading through those trying to work out what went wrong.
    • The email could result in other outages. Most MTAs are built to handle "normal workloads". Delivering 10,000 errors could end up with an unrelated outage taking down the mail system as well.
    • You probably don't care anyway. An exception indicates a bug in your code which you don't know how to handle. The server should just crash and restart at that point... There isn't anything that the exception will really help with here. A bug should be reported instead for new instances of exceptions (you could automate this).


    A better solution? Write log entries to disk when these exceptions are seen, and then provide summaries to developers and operations engineers -- perhaps as email, perhaps as something else. Report on the rate of these errors, and the count of the number of errors seen recently. These are much lower volume, so email would be an ok solution here.

    Tags for this post: reliability engineering exception handling email ruby rails
    Related posts: Why document management is good; die() in a CGI; Internet outage; What the heck are you talking about?; Weird email of the day; 120 emails over night from "trapper"

posted at: 17:46 | path: /reliability/engineering | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 19 Jan 2007



Page views matter

posted at: 02:51 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 18 Jan 2007



Large inodes = faster samba

posted at: 17:19 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Mirror traffic during the last day of LCA 2007

posted at: 16:09 | path: /mirror/opensource/linux/australia | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 14 Jan 2007



gtalkbot 1.2

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


Sat, 13 Jan 2007



It's not that Matthew is tired...

    ...it's just he really likes Catherine's palm.



    Tags for this post: matthew asleep palm

posted at: 14:54 | path: /matthew | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 12 Jan 2007



Errata: Tweak to homework, new VMWare image

posted at: 20:44 | path: /mythtv/tutorial/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


gtalkbot 1.1

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


Wrong timezone batman!

posted at: 16:39 | path: /conference/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


Am I really the first?

    I find it a little hard to believe I am the first to use an Intel Core 2 Duo for MythTV stuff, but I can't find anyone else reporting this to the MythTV users list...

      mythtv@mythtv2:~/Desktop/mythtv-0.20$ ./configure
      
       *** WARNING *** 
       Your CPU was not detected properly:
         uname -m: i686
         uname -p: unknown
       model name: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU          6600  @ 2.40GHz
            flags: fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat
            pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe nx lm pni monitor
            ds_cpl vmx est tm2 cx16 xtpr lahf_lm
      
       If you are using a recent CVS checkout, 
       please e-mail the above to mythtv-users@mythtv.org
       With the subject "configure did not detect my cpu"
      


    Tags for this post: mythtv hardware intel core2 duo
    Related posts: Buy Toshiba!; Computers, why do I trust you?; Using an Intel PCI modem as a FXO card; Sunk cost; Speech recognition hardware; Random idea

posted at: 16:27 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 08 Jan 2007



Updated: linux.conf.au 2007 MythTV tutorial homework

posted at: 21:47 | path: /mythtv/tutorial/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 07 Jan 2007



Updated: linux.conf.au 2007 MythTV tutorial homework

posted at: 20:40 | path: /mythtv/tutorial/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


For Christmas I would like...

posted at: 20:35 | path: /link | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 06 Jan 2007



Bachelor cooking

posted at: 18:35 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


First cut of the tutorial homework is ready

posted at: 16:47 | path: /mythtv/tutorial/lca2007 | permanent link to this entry


Avoidance behaviour, or, wanted: video RSS feeds

    I'm avoiding doing paper work for work, and chapter edits for the MythTV book by writing a video aggregator. I have Media RSS feeds working, and normal RSS 2.0 with enclosures working. I have two questions:

    • Are there any other feed formats I should worry about?
    • What are some good (as in not horribly boring) feeds that I should now watch?


    That's right, I built the aggregator, before I had anything to aggregate. Now I have this hammer, and must hit things with it... I'll talk more about the aggregator itself when I've done a little more testing, but I think it's pretty cool.

    Tags for this post: blog rss media video aggregator
    Related posts: ScobleShow only available as MP4?; I'm getting fed up; Planet; Online aggregators; Bloglines unreliable today; Need more page rank?

posted at: 09:05 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


ScobleShow only available as MP4?

posted at: 08:23 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 05 Jan 2007



Recovering lost MythTV recordings

    I had one of those moments tonight, and accidentally dropped the mythconverg database on my production MythTV instance, not the development one. This made me sad. Luckily I had a backup which was only a week old (although I am now running night backups of that database).

    Recovery wasn't too bad once I wrote some code. The steps:

    • Restore from backup
    • Don't run mythfilldatabase (it will clear out old guide data, and we need it)
    • Apply my funky patch to myth.rebuilddatabase.pl
    • Run myth.rebuilddatabase.pl
    • Run mythfilldatabase


    And all is well again. The patch uses the guide data from the database to make an educated guess about the title, subtitle and description of the recordings which are missing from the database. Here's the patch:

      Index: myth.rebuilddatabase.pl
      ===================================================================
      --- myth.rebuilddatabase.pl     (revision 11681)
      +++ myth.rebuilddatabase.pl     (working copy)
      @@ -185,6 +185,7 @@
                      'norename'=>\$norename
                      );
       
      +print "db = dbi:mysql:database=$database:host=$dbhost user = $user pass = $pass\n";
       my $dbh = DBI->connect("dbi:mysql:database=$database:host=$dbhost",
                      "$user","$pass") or die "Cannot connect to database ($!)\n";
       
      @@ -314,6 +315,7 @@
       
           # have enough to look for an past recording?
           if ($ssecond) {
      +        print "Checking for a recording...\n";
               $starttime = "$syear$smonth$sday$shour$sminute$ssecond";
       
               my $guess = "select title, subtitle, description from oldrecorded where chanid=(?) and starttime=(?)";
      @@ -333,6 +335,24 @@
               print "End time:   $emonth/$eday/$eyear - $ehour:$eminute:$esecond\n";
           }
       
      +    # what about checking for guide data?
      +    if($guess_description =~ /^Recovered file/) {
      +        print "Checking for guide data...\n";
      +        my $guess = "select title, subtitle, description from program where chanid='$channel'".
      +                    " and starttime='$syear-$smonth-$sday $shour:$sminute:$ssecond'";
      +        print "$guess\n";
      +        $sth = $dbh->prepare($guess);
      +        $sth->execute()
      +            or die "Could not execute ($guess)\n";
      +
      +        if (my @row = $sth->fetchrow_array) {
      +            $guess_title = $row[0];
      +            $guess_subtitle = $row[1];
      +            $guess_description = $row[2];
      +            print "Using guide data informaton for defaults\n";
      +        }
      +    }
      +
           my $newtitle = $guess_title;
           my $newsubtitle = $guess_subtitle;
           my $newdescription = $guess_description;
      


    You can download the patch here or read the bug report.

    Tags for this post: mythtv database restore
    Related posts: Time to document my PDF testing database; MythBuntu 8.10 just made me sad; Exploring a single database migration; Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: DB2 support; Nova database continuous integration

posted at: 22:12 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 01 Jan 2007



Importing downloaded videos as recordings into MythTV

    I've been playing with downloading videos and treating them as recordings in MythTV because the MythTV player is nicer than Xine, and because it works well as a demo for the linux.conf.au tutorial I am working on at the moment. I wont document it here because it's not quite ready, but it's actually quite easy and works really well.

    For the impatient, a good starting point is this tip is a good starting point, the additional stuff I had to do was around setting up a channel row in the otherwise empty channel table.

    Tags for this post: mythtv downloaded recordings

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


I didn't realize that the US was a third world country

posted at: 12:17 | path: /andrew | permanent link to this entry


There is a reason Ikea is crowded on the weekends

    It only just occurred to me the other day, but I now know why Ikea is so crowded on the weekends. Sure, the cheap furniture is attractive, but I think it's also go something to do with:

    • Free child care
    • Free nappies and baby change facilities!
    • Bathrooms which are actually designed to be the right height for kids
    • Cheap food
    • Even cheaper food for kids


    Basically it's just such a pleasure taking the kids there, and they have suck a good time, that I keep finding excuses to take them there. This time it was $6 worth of plastic buckets that I could just as easily got from Target down the road.

    Now, if only someone would open a similarly kid friendly cinema. I'm sure such a thing would make a killing too.

    Tags for this post: travel usa ikea kid friendly
    Related posts: Free kitchen designer from Ikea

posted at: 09:06 | path: /travel/usa | permanent link to this entry