East of the Sun, West of the Moon


Facebook Apps

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 3:14 pm

The downside of the Facebook Applications and the desperate wish of almost all of their developers to have them go viral and make a fortune is this:


And I assure you that if I didn’t regularly clean out the list it would look a lot worse. What Facebook desperately needs is one or two checkboxes alongside each invitation with which you can indicate that you don’t want to be bothered with future invites from the same application, whether that’s for a month, or forever.


Note to self

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Software — Erwin @ 7:59 pm

When your computer tells you that the CMOS checksum was incorrect and it’s reset to defaults, it may be a good idea to go in and at least set the time and date to something vaguely correct, to avoid having the filesystem checks kick in twice: First when it’s confused about going back in time a few years, and again after you’ve corrected the time and it goes forward in time a few years, both times saying “Well, it’s been too long since the last time, I better check”, even though of course the system was rebooted without crashes or anything.

Gah. And with that 1TB that I have here now, it takes a while! 🙂


Pet Peeves of the Day

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Technology — Erwin @ 2:37 pm

Using compliment when you mean complement! These are not interchangeable words, people.

When you have a 7-port USB hub you do not get seven more outlets than you did before. After all you will need to take up one previously available outlet to hook up the hub!


Old tech, new tech

Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 12:56 pm

Serial consoles are older tech than most people reading this blog, I suspect, but with USB being thrown in the mix you can do some interesting things, like connecting the serial port of several servers via an equal amount of USB-to-serial adapters to a single USB hub which then hooks up to the poor man’s version of a remote serial console server, using /dev/ttyUSB0, /dev/ttyUSB1, etc instead of /dev/ttyS0, /dev/ttyS1, etc to connect to the various consoles.

I have to admit I hadn’t worked with serial consoles before. That is to say I’d used them when someone else had already set them up, at a previous job, but I hadn’t set up a Linux boot loader or kernel to make use of one, so I had some fun with that yesterday.

Notes to self:

  • Make sure the speed settings in /etc/inittab and /etc/lilo.conf are the same or you’ll have some fun line noise to admire.
  • The USB Serial Converter I picked up worked out of the box with the Linux 2.6.18 kernel I’m running. That’s worth noting because things aren’t always quite so agreeable.
  • Null-modems come in very different shapes and sizes. There’s the ultra-small mini null modem adaptor for just $2.00 and of course the usual 6 to 10 ft null modem cables. It depends on the circumstances what suits your needs the most.
  • Because it seems to be a bit of a pain to send the break signal to the serial console when you’re connecting via ssh via telnet to the actual serial cable, it helps to configure LILO such that you don’t need to. I use these settings:
      append="console=tty0 console=ttyS0,9600"

    The first three lines make sure I get a “boot:” prompt but proceed with regular boot after 10 seconds. The last two lines cause the LILO and kernel output to be visible on both serial and regular console.

The other thing I played with recently was some USB-ethernet adapters. For future reference, out of the box the TRENDnet TU2-ET100 worked with Linux 2.6.18 (using the “asix” module), while the D-Link DUB-E100 and Startech USB2105S did not! For those last two I had gotten the impression that they could work, but no luck. There’s a good chance that the D-Link changed chipsets without changing its name, an unfortunately not unusual behaviour in the business. I suspect that with some custom kernel compiling I could’ve gotten the Startech device to work, but I am trying to avoid that at the moment, not wanting extra work when it is time to upgrade to a more recent kernel.



Filed under: Technology — Erwin @ 2:39 pm

About 17-18 years ago (during my first year at university, 1989-1990) I bought a PC with a 12MHz (I think) 80286 processor, 1MB of RAM, and 40MB of HD. As of a few days ago I have this in one of the headless servers in our basement:

$ df -h /dev/md[0-9]
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/md3              9.4G  2.9G  6.1G  33% /
/dev/md2               99M   35M   60M  37% /boot
/dev/md4              965M   18M  899M   2% /tmp
/dev/md5              176G  158G  9.0G  95% /var
/dev/md0              276G  226G   51G  82% /mnt/media
/dev/md1              459G  267G  169G  62% /mnt/backup

People that have worked with Linux before will recognize the /dev/md* devices which are typically used for RAID setups. In this case they’re all RAID1 (mirrored) setups, with two 200GB, two 300GB and two 500GB disks underneath this, so 1TB of redundant storage.

That’ll keep us going for a while, I think.


New gadget

Filed under: Family,OS X,Software,Technology — Erwin @ 1:41 am

Panasonic PV-GS80 MiniDV Camcorder with 32x Optical Image Stabilized  ZoomIt’s for M‘s birthday, but of course something that’ll be used for the entire family. We got her a Panasonic GS80, a handy camcorder. It’s a bit of a starter model, as we’ve never owned one before and I didn’t want to buy something entirely too complex or overpriced.

So far she’s done some recording with it, had some fun feedback loops while recording straight through firewire into her MacBook, etc. Once it’s been on the initial 24 hour of charging for the internal battery she’ll no doubt test to see how long the rechargeable detachable one will last, and do some recording around the house and such.

The kids are of course enthusiastically planning videos of the rats to be posted on YouTube, but I hope to stop them from that for a little while longer. 🙂

Update: I almost forgot to list that I also, while I was ordering from Amazon anyway, picked up the Snakes on a Plane album. Ladies and gentleman, snakes are slithering… carry on!


Time passes

Filed under: OS X,Software,Technology — Erwin @ 3:46 pm

So what’s happened in the last few weeks, around here?

I upgraded our MythTV setup from 0.18.<aging> to 0.20.2. This was required in order to still get any TV guide information. See, MythTV was getting its information from labs.zap2it.com, which provided that service for free, where free meant answering some survey questions every 3 months. The last few times the number of questions had been 0, which was amusing, but apparently a sign of things to come because a few months ago the fine folks there announced that they were going to discontinue this service. Some open source folks cooperated to work out a solution, now known as schedulesdirect.org, where we can continue to get this data. Initially at $15 per 3 months, but if enough users get on board that price should drop quite a bit. The amusing part is where they get their data from TMS (Tribune Media Services), the people that run zap2it.com, so I guess their biggest deal was that they didn’t want the hassle of dealing with payments and now only have to deal with one contact. Good for them, and now that we are paying real money for this data, there is also a better chance of complaints about missing or faulty data being dealt with, which is definitely a bonus.

My MacBook Pro was sent to Texas for the second time, 2 months after the first repair. This time they replaced the hard disk, which took a little convincing because it doesn’t show any errors when you merely verify using Disk Utility. The TechTools Deluxe software that Apple provides to AppleCare customers has a Surface Scan option which did, however, so I used that as leverage.

Unfortunately my timing was less ideal than last time. I called AppleCare on Wednesday, got a box to ship the laptop on Thursday, had it out the door within 5 minutes because the DHL delivery guy was kind enough to stick around so that he wouldn’t have to make an extra 2 hour trip just to pick up that same box again, and after it arrived on Friday it was marked as done and shipping out again within hours. But then “2nd day shipping” or whatever it was called turned into something slightly slower because the weekend got in the way, plus the extra holiday on Monday (Labor Day for non-US-ians reading along), so I got it around noon on Tuesday.

First thing I did was verify that I had a different hard disk, which I did, and run that Surface Scan on it. Thankfully there were no problems, so I moved on to restoring my home-directories and give M back her MacBook which I’d claimed for the past week.

I will cross my fingers that I don’t need to talk to anybody at AppleCare for a while!


iPhone photos

Filed under: Software,Technology — Erwin @ 8:04 pm

Why is it that so many articles about the iPhone or ads for accessories show the thing with the YouTube icon/app missing?

Does it mean that the press material was already out the door and they quickly added in YouTube as a last-minute look-what-we-can-do, or what? Couldn’t they be bothered to create new images once it had been released? Or is this a trademark issue?


Uh oh

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Software — Erwin @ 5:42 pm

Bejeweled for the iPhone, need I say more?


iPhone notes (3)

Filed under: OS X,Software,Technology — Erwin @ 11:42 pm

As far as I can tell I can only send text messages (SMS) to one contact at a time. I see no way to send to groups, nor do I see any way to add more contacts after the first one.

What the heck does the little “auto” icon mean, the one in the Google Maps application?

In the Recents section of the Phone menu, I can only clear all calls, not individual entries. Thankfully I don’t think this device is going to run out of space anytime soon, but what’s wrong with cleaning your caller-id history, so to speak, and only keeping the ones that you care about?

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