Archive for June, 2009

Internet lie: “in stock”


Apparently, on the Internet, the term “in stock” means something completely different than it does in the real world.

What was I saying?


Now that I am married and have two kids, I find that I have to edit my stories down to under a minute and a half. Otherwise, the end of the story just never makes it out.

“Hi Honey, how was your day at work?”

“I have to tell you about this new tool we discovered today. We were installing our network software on a cluster of machines, which is usually pretty tedious and time consuming. And then one of the guys pulls out this live CD, and …”

“Daddy, is rice a vegetable or a fruit?”

“Hey kids, put that stuff down and wash your hands and face… now!”

“My friend Drew says that Megan won’t talk to Carter because his sister is mean!”

“I think the dog just threw up.”

What was I saying again? Oh yeah, 90 seconds. Sigh.

Firefox plug-in: SyncPlaces


Early last year, I decided that my tired old HP laptop wanted to retire, and I started shopping for a new one. However, before I could find a suitable replacement, I discovered the Asus Eee PC, and I knew that I had to have one.

It did not make a lot of sense to buy a new laptop and a new Eee PC as well, so I held off buying a laptop. Over time, the Eee PC became my primary machine. Sometimes, I would plug in an external monitor and mouse and keyboard. And other times, I would just use it by itself. After a while, I migrated all of my old stuff off of the laptop and onto a mini- file server, and I eventually left the tired old laptop powered off.

I started using the HP laptop again when I started working from home, but I never really installed anything other than NX. On a whim, I installed the latest Ubuntu, Jaunty Jackalope (9.04), and that really breathed new life into the tired old laptop.

So now I find myself strattling the fence, sometimes using the tired old (but rejuvinated) HP laptop, and sometimes using the Eee PC. Since I keep most of my important stuff on an encrypted thumb drive, it was pretty easy to switch back and forth.

But there was one thing missing… my Firefox bookmarks.

I don’t like the idea of storing my stuff (tax records, email, bookmarks, or anything else) on a site like Google or xmarks (formerly foxmarks). So I went looking for a plug-in that would allow me to synchronize my bookmarks among multiple machines, but use my own server for storage.

SyncPlaces does a pretty good job of that.

It can sync using FTP (yuck) or https (yay) to a WebDAV-enabled server. It only took a few minutes to figure out WebDAV, and pretty soon I had the same bookmarks on the HP laptop and on the Eee PC.

Pidgin and Yahoo


I ran into a strange bug with pidgin where I could not log into Yahoo. Strace did not shed any light on the problem:

gettimeofday({1245688276, 23774}, NULL) = 0
open("/home/alan/.gnome2/nautilus-sendto/spool", O_RDONLY...
fstat64(7, {st_mode=S_IFDIR|0755, st_size=4096, ...
getdents(7, /* 3 entries */, 4096)      = 48
getdents(7, /* 0 entries */, 4096)      = 0
close(7)                                = 0
read(3, 0x93c4508, 4096)                = -1 EAGAIN ...
gettimeofday({1245688276, 24697}, NULL) = 0
poll([{fd=4, events=POLLIN}, {fd=3, events=POLLIN},...

Instead, the answer came from a blog post here.

Yahoo changed their login protocol. Pidgin released an update. Ubuntu did not propagate the fix, apparently because it was not a security bug, but new functionality.

The pidgin developers have released an Ubuntu package in their PPA (Personal Package Archive). See the details at the pidgin web site here.

South East Linux Fest (SELF)


I spent the weekend in Clemson SC at the first South East Linux Fest.

It was a great chance to geek out with a bunch of Linux enthusiasts, as well as some of the movers and shakers in the industry.

We enjoyed presentations on topics that ranged from SQLite and the fsync() bug to Asterisk, Open Street Map and the Ubuntu kernel. These guys provided a clear perspective of how the open source world organizes and operates on a daily basis. And their projects just glowed with coolness, which created this viral kind of buzz around the entire event, whether you were a casual Linux user or a hardcore developer.

In the vendor area, we were wooed by several distros, a handful of businesses that sell services around open source software, and some content providers (that is, podcasters and “nerdcore” rappers). We were treated to several raffles… woot!

Mad props go out to the planners of the event, which seemed to go off without a hitch.

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