East of the Sun, West of the Moon



Filed under: Site — Erwin @ 3:52 pm

How could I not have noticed? Anyway, the links to the archives from the calendar and the month-based overview that were pointing to /archives/date/ type locations now work; all that was needed was to generate a new .htaccess file.

Those Crazy Dutch

Filed under: Dutch,News — Erwin @ 3:43 pm

Dutch Witches May Deduct Training Costs Against Tax, Court Says (Bloomberg):

The court, in the city of Leeuwaarden, confirmed a ruling by tax authorities that a woman’s costs related to her 366-day course to become a certified witch are tax deductible, according to the Web site of the court, which made its ruling on Sept. 26.

Charming. There is no city of Leeuwaarden in the Netherlands by the way, that should be Leeuwarden. I should know, I grew up in that area. 🙂

I heard the following on the (Dutch) radio, was waiting to see if I would find it in an English language article, and here we go (The Brussels Journal):

The Netherlands and Belgium were the first countries to give full marriage rights to homosexuals. In the United States some politicians propose “civil unions” that give homosexual couples the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage. These civil unions differ from marriage only in name.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands polygamy has been legalised in all but name. Last Friday the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union.

If that makes them happy and nobody else gets hurt in the process, good luck to them.

Aaaah, coffee!

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 1:06 pm

It was time for something new:

[Hamilton Beach - BrewStation]


Linkage (18)

Filed under: Linkage,News,Technology — Erwin @ 2:21 pm

Cool, the Dutch won (Expatica) again:

The Dutch-built vehicle Nuna 3 has won the World Solar Challenge, a 3,000 kilometre race for solar-electric cars across Australia.

This is the third time the team from the Technical University in Delft has won the competition. Nuna 3 achieved an average speed of 103 kilometres-per-hour, a record time.

Bill Gates and George W. Bush have something in common, they throw away money (Forbes):

The Xbox game console is hot, but its division has lost $4 billion in four years and isn’t yet in the black.

That’s a lot of money, even for a company that supposedly has a lot (same article, 2nd page):

Even after paying a $32 billion dividend last year, Microsoft has $40 billion in its pocket

Did you know that this is Banned Books Week (ALA.org, American Library Association)?

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Go on, read one!

In a shocking development, Apple has admitted that there is a problem (BBC News) with the iPod Nano:

Electronics firm Apple has admitted there have been problems with its new iPod Nano music player, after a string of complaints about damaged screens.

I’m sure they’ll get over it, soon. 😉


New software

Filed under: OS X,Software — Erwin @ 10:19 pm

Well, new to me anyway.

  • GrowlTunes – I’m using this as a partial replacement of SizzlingKeys which I only use for the global shortcuts, still. I am using the Music Video display format, which works out very nicely, plus I already have Growl installed for Adium anyway, so it was a minor addition.
  • iEatBrainz – Software that creates an accoustic fingerprint of your tracks, compares it with a database, and tells you what it thinks it is. Not surprisingly it does better on mainstream English language music than on, say, Dutch language tracks. 😉

    What I don’t like about it, so far, is that you can either apply the data, or not, there’s no way to tell it to only adjust the artist and track, for instance. I suppose this would be where the programmer tells me to submit a patch, but… too many projects already, man.


Linkage (17)

Filed under: Linkage,News — Erwin @ 4:59 pm

I shouldn’t have to, but I wish these parents (BBC News) strength:

Eleven parents in the US state of Pennsylvania are taking their local school board to court in an attempt to protect the teaching of evolution.

The Dover Area School Board requires teachers to say evolution is a just a theory and is still being tested.

Could it really be true (BBC News):

The IRA has put all of its weapons beyond use, the head of the arms decommissioning body has said.

General John de Chastelain made the announcement at a news conference accompanied by the two churchmen who witnessed the process.

I certainly hope so.


The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Filed under: OS X,Software — Erwin @ 5:59 pm

Having acquired a distinct frustration with how NFS was no longer behaving for me recently I’ve started to look around for alternatives, or in this particular case I was looking for clients that might adapt better over NFS or its alternatives (ftp or Samba based pseudo-filesystems).

The alternatives I tested:

  • Whamb – Development on this one appears to have stalled or stopped, version 1.2 is the most recent one available. It’s decent looking but I’ve been unable to load my entire music collection into a playlist, it crashes somewhere past 3000 entries and that’s just not good enough.
  • Cog – A barebones player (still in beta, mind you) that is capable of loading the entire list at least. The downside is that it (version 0.04c) does not cache any meta information so when restarting it it takes a (long) while to request it all over again, especially when the files aren’t actually local. It also doesn’t seem to have a very big input or output buffer which can cause the audio to stutter when the machine is under some CPU load. It has all the basics in place otherwise.
  • MacAmp Lite X – Another discontinued player. Looks good but seems to want to buffer way more than its settings would indicate, causing music to stall when switching tracks (that aren’t on the local HD, as usual). Impressive set of plugins for input, output, sound-effects, etc.
  • Audion – Yet Another Discontinued Audio Player. Yup. Looks good, plays well, has a nice collection of skins to pick from, several useful plugins, and now that NFS (or rather, the network) is up to snuff again, sufficiently fast to start up as well (it actually stores the meta-data).

I’m sure there are others worth investigating but I’ve only looked for freeware players that can at least play MP3 and Ogg Vorbis, which reduces the playing field a bit.

Given the lacking of caching of Cog, the inability of Whamb to load my entire playlist, and the insistence of MacAmp Lite X to read the entire track when starting to play it, I’m sticking to Audion when it comes to listening to my entire collection (so Ogg Vorbis tracks included). Until I find a solution that also manages the podcasts I’ll be using iTunes for that, still.

When I hear or read about other options that satisfy the abovementioned requirements, I’ll definitely test them and write about it here.

Now playing: The Clash – London Calling


Help me remember

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 7:47 pm

… to check back on CD Baby by November 10? I’ll explain later, thanks!

Email, what email

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 6:00 pm

So yesterday, email seemed quiet. Too quiet, in fact.

It turns out the cable ISP has (apparently) decided that blocking my incoming port 25 (SMTP, a.k.a email server) is a good thing. I assume this was a global change but I haven’t verified that yet.

<…digging for documentation of this policy…>

Ah, found it. Unfortunately no timestamp of any sort on the page so I don’t know if it was updated recently or what. At least they aren’t doing anything undocumented, which always nice in its own right.

Anyway, this meant that I was now on the receiving end of such a block. Previously I had helped out a friend whose SMTP server had gotten blocked. The way around it is to simply tell the server to open a(n additional) port elsewhere and have a friendly server elsewhere that can receive email on port 25 and configure it to redirect your domain to the new port.

The friendly server runs Exim and my previous experience was with Sendmail, so I had some research to do.

To open an extra port on my side (with sendmail) was easy enough, two extra lines in the sendmail.mc file:

DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Name=MTA255, Port=255')dnl

I needed the first line so the server would also still listen on the regular port, for local clients.

To reconfigure the Exim server, these changes were needed:

  • Add a new transport that works just like SMTP, but on a different port:
      driver = smtp
      service = 255
  • Insert a new route (order matters here, unlike with the transport):
      driver = domainlist
      transport = my_smtp
      route_list =    my.dom.ain real.smtp.server bydns; \
                    *.my.dom.ain real.smtp.server bydns
      self = send

    That last line is supposedly vital, but given that I got it to work the first time around with it, I wasn’t in the mood to test if it would also work without it.

  • Of course one also must ensure that the relevant domains are on the relay_domains list. 😉

After altering the DNS zone newly sent email is now slowly but surely beginning to work, but I have no idea if already sent email will be hanging around for 4-5 days while the various mail-servers try to send it to the old (port-25-blocked) server, or that they’ll realize the MX situation has changed and act on it.

Still pondering if I can do something about that, but at least I can move forward now. *mutter*



Filed under: Technology — Erwin @ 3:07 pm

My recent grumbling about NFS and iTunes performance escalated yesterday into a more thorough testing of the wired networking facilities here in my basement, comparing cables, and then finally narrowing it down to the ethernet switch apparently dying slowly but surely. I mean, 50% packet loss or more on the local network is not exactly normal.

Follows a trip to the store to pick up a new one, a 5 port switch to replace the 8 port kind that we had; There is less need for wired networking now that the MacMinis have been switched to wifi as well.

Put in place, everything begins to work sanely again, within expected parameters so to speak.

I’m still considering switching to a different music player (there’s a half-finished entry with more details on that project that I’ll try to wrap up this week) but for the time being iTunes will do the job, again.

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