East of the Sun, West of the Moon


Bacula scripting

Filed under: Projects,Software — Erwin @ 10:08 pm

I’ve been using Bacula for a year or two now, I think, and the one thing that had been irritating me for most of that time is that every morning I’d be presented with X emails, one for each machine that’s been processed and another for the backup of the catalog itself, and have no idea at the end of it how much had changed (and backed up) on which machines, and where any anomalies might have occured.

So I began work on /etc/bacula/scripts/summary.pl, with the intention of emailing me its output and, no longer needing them, automatically filing away those individual Bacula reports marked as read in a folder where I could dig them up for closer inspection if necessary.

I use the SQLite back-end, but it is trivial to adjust it to a MySQL back-end, for anyone who’s worked with DBI before.

You can glance at source code and use it as you see fit (if it breaks, you get to keep both pieces, you get the idea).

The basic plan is to either run it as Run Before script in a separate administrative job with a sufficiently low priority that it runs after the catalog backup, or to run it as a Run After script in the catalog backup job itself. Either way it may not run as root so make sure you put the summary.stamp in a location where the Bacula running user can read and write.

The output will look like this:

Summary of jobs finished since Mon Sep 18 03:53:04 2006:
Job  Name            End Time        Size     Files   Err Miss Status Level
3490 JobName1        09-19 03:15:13    147 MB    2224   0    0 T      I (B)
3491 JobName2        09-19 03:16:58     37 MB    3502   0    0 T      I (B)
3495 JobNameN        09-19 03:22:43   1091 kB      84   0    0 T      I (B)
3496 BackupCatalog   09-19 03:48:10    187 MB       1   0    0 T      F (B)

Ideas for improvement are to separate the failed jobs (the ones with status f) from the rest, or to squeeze even more information into it, but for the moment I’m sufficiently happy with this leap forward that I’m giving it a rest. There are always other projects that could use my attention, after all.


DRM (is) for Dummies?

Filed under: Movies,Software — Erwin @ 4:41 pm

Three items recently caught my attention that I seemed worth sharing here:

  • At Boing Boing (which I’ve sadly removed from my list of newsfeeds a while ago, I couldn’t quite keep up) Cory Doctorow rants quite extensively about Amazon Unbox. I don’t think there’s a single point on which I disagree with him.
  • Via Tweakers, a Dutch site, I learned about Medialoper’s article regarding Zune and its wireless capabilities. It is planned to have support for wireless music sharing, but now it looks like in an attempt to prevent abuse, it’ll wrap any music shared that way in a special layer of chocoDRM to limit the recipient’s use, regardless of whether the track at hand is in need of such protection.
  • As discussed in Ars Technica, the recently developed DRM circumvention for iTunes has already been adapted to the new version (7.0). If I understand correctly how it works, this is not particularly shocking: It debugs the iTunes application, and at strategically placed break-points grabs blocks of unencrypted AAC audio straight from memory. Given that, the two biggest problems with adapting to 7.0 were that Apple apparently used a different compiler for this one, and of course the locations of the break-points will be in (sometimes not so) slightly different places. Since this approach completely ignores the communication with the iTunes Music Store — unlike JHymn which has been unable to circumvent the DRM since the release of 6.0 — Apple will have a much harder time thwarting this one.


Linkage on 2006-09-13

Filed under: Linkage — Erwin @ 2:00 am

ZX Spectrum Dashboard Widget
I like the idea, but it looks like for the next version it would be a good idea to get the emulator used (Jasper) on a more recent JRE and get sound to work (it didn’t for me, at least). A lot has changed in Java in 4 to take advantage of.
(tags: osx widget)


Happy birthday!

Filed under: Technology — Erwin @ 10:30 pm

The hard disk drive turns 50 today (September 13, 2006):

On Sept. 13, 1956, IBM launched the RAMAC (Random Access Memory for Accounting and Control) 305 and RAMAC 350, two models of a disk drive system that could store a whopping 5MB of data.

From 5 MB then to easily one or two TB in the collection of drives we’ve got sitting around here in various computers, where the largest individual drive contains 250 GB.

Hmm, that means we might be slightly lagging behind Moore’s Law right now, which said:

The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year … Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. That means by 1975, the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost will be 65,000. I believe that such a large circuit can be built on a single wafer.

Of course he was talking about chips at that point, but if you would apply that law, you’d get: 5 MB * 250 / 2 which equals 5 * 10242 * 225 bytes or roughly 163840 GB. Not quite there yet, are we, not even when considering the 500 GB drives that are for sale these days.

Minor detail here is that Moore didn’t make that statement until 14 years later and I have no idea if hard disk drives developed in line with Moore’s Law up to that point. But I had my little bit of fun anyway. 😉

Linkage on 2006-09-12

Filed under: Linkage — Erwin @ 2:00 am

Irwin fans ‘in revenge attacks’
At the time of writing of that article it’s still speculation only, but an amazing coincidence to say the least. I sincerely hope it’s not true.
(tags: news nature)


iTunes 7.0

Filed under: OS X,Software — Erwin @ 10:47 pm

Noticed changes:

  • When starting for the first time (after the EULA stuff) it asks for permission to check for album art where it’s missing. It also mentions:

    Information about songs with missing artwork will be sent to Apple. Apple does not keep any information related to the contents of your music library.

    The fact that they ask for permission and the wording above makes me think that they’ve learned from the Ministore fiasco.

  • The GUI changed again, with different buttons, different colours and a different layout of the playlist section of the GUI.
  • Tracks now have 3 different views:
    1. The regular view
    2. Group the tracks by album, with artwork
    3. View the tracks using the Cover Browser
  • The new GUI wastes vertical space needlessly:
    • The library in the playlist section is now separated into Music, Movies, Podcasts, etc. You can disable the ones you don’t have, but in my case that means it still takes up 4 rows instead of 1, and I can’t fold it.
    • The same thing applies to the music store, which has the header and 3 sub-sections. Even if you use the parental controls to disable the store, you may still have it take up two rows if you’ve bought tracks (regardless of whether they were freebies), because the Purchased playlist remains.

    If there is a way to fold the groups, to avoid clutter, please let me know.

  • A positive change is that the Podcasts row now includes a counter for (as far as I can tell) the number of podcasts you haven’t listened to yet.
  • The new version claims to support gapless playback, and of course that means it needs to analyze my entire library. That results in a fantastic wifi speed-test, since I’ve got mine NFS-mounted over a wireless connection. Ouch.
  • The Podcast section now sports a Refresh button. Took ’em long enough to realize that that would be easier than telling each individual podcast to update.
  • When you download a podcast to which you’re subscribed via the iTunes Music Store, it shows up under the Store Downloads. As all my other podcasts are uptodate I don’t know yet if it also does that for non-iTMS podcasts.
  • For Smart Lists there are two new attributes to play with:
    1. Last Skipped
    2. Skip Count

    These may also be new, but I haven’t bothered to compare with a 6.x iTunes version yet:

    • Album Artist
    • Date Modified
    • Grouping
    • Season
    • Show
    • Video Kind

    I’m (still) missing a way to access the Checked attribute in general, the Played attribute for podcasts, and now the Part of Gapless Album attribute. This means that aside from browsing through my entire collection, I have no way of finding out which tracks/albums iTunes has marked as gapless, now?

  • One of the podcasts I (used to) listen to, the MacCast, it comes in an enhanced version which is apparently a Protected AAC audio file. For some reason this means that I can’t change some of the options, including Remember playback position and Skip when shuffling, where the latter annoys me the most as I have a few Smart Lists specifically set up for podcasts so I can mix them in with the rest of my music collection.
  • Speaking of… I STILL can’t change the default Skip when shuffling setting for podcasts, which is on for whatever reason. Why, oh why?

If you see other things that changed, or spot errors in my overview, please let me know. 🙂

Hewlett-Packard, first victim

Filed under: News — Erwin @ 3:02 pm

Update: Crap. I hate it when WP eats my posts/edits. Now where’s the URL of the last enry I put here and what did I write again? Bah. I’ll see if I can remember it tomorrow morning, instead.


Hewlett-Packard, continued

Filed under: News — Erwin @ 8:56 pm

It’s only getting better:

  • HP phone log black op tapped nine reporters (The Register):

    So far, two reporters from CNET and one from the Wall Street Journal have disclosed that their phone records were obtained by the company HP hired for its investigation into boardroom leaks.

  • HP Dragnet Grabbed 9 Reporters (Wired News):

    Seven other reporters were also caught up in the investigation, according to the source, including a Business Week reporter.

  • Hewlett-Packard Spied on Writers in Leaks (NY Times, need account):

    The targets included nine journalists who have covered Hewlett-Packard, including one from The New York Times, the company said.

Nice diverse group you’ve got there, HP.

An update (via GrokLaw) on MarketWatch:

H-P spokesman Ryan Donovan confirmed that Dunn would resign her board seat if she was asked. Donovan also confirmed that the company’s board is to hold a special meeting by phone this weekend to discuss the matter.

Resignation is the least of her worries as far as I’m concerned. IANAL, obviously, but just as with others writing on this topic that doesn’t prevent me from speculating, and I think Dunn knew exactly what she was asking the agency or person hired to do and should be held accountable for it under the relevant laws.

What do you think?

Linkage on 2006-09-07

Filed under: Linkage — Erwin @ 2:00 am

‘Pyramids’ discovered in Ukraine
Do you think they’ll also find a stargate down there? 😉
(tags: news archeology)



Filed under: News — Erwin @ 8:58 pm

It looks like they’re in a truck load of trouble and I hope the responsible persons get what they deserve, sheesh!

Quote from Dan Gillmor:

Once upon a time, honorable people were in charge at HP.

Quoting a comment from Schneier’s blog:

Whoever is responsible for this has to be slapped down, hard, to make it clear to corporations that they cannot do this. Corporations have all the information they need to “steal the identities” of their employees, ex-employees, and members of the board of directors: they can provide social security numbers, names of family members, addresses, phone numbers, and enough personal information to convince phone company employees that it’s a legitimate request for information. It is vital that they do not abuse their power. — Joe Buck


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