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Dec 22, 2005

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster + More

Probably the last post before Xmas so I hope anyone reading this apart from me - Aidan, Stuart, Rob, Mark, Gareth and miscellaneous others who stumble upon the site - has an excellent Christmas & New Years. Hopefully Blosxom plays nice when 2006 hits :-)

Reputedly the creator of FSM is being paid $50k to write the Pastafarian Bible.

Create your own speech bubbles and scrolling manifestos. Nifty.

This guy has built a computer that will play Tetris - one computer watches another and provides the keycodes to move the blocks around in real-time. Pretty impressive.

The Official History of Lotus Notes.

Amusing - Tech Support Calls from Hell.

Brilliant evolving art installation project using styrofoam cups - You Are Beautiful.

The Newton Museum Closes and Auctions its collection.

Useful Reference - Network Port List.

An article over at Onlamp on organising files from an IT persons perspective.

After reading this post I decided to switch browsers for awhile to see if my web experiance improved. So far Shiira seems to coping quite well and it seems to be a little less resource hungry than Safari.

Interesting - Eluding Happiness - The Buddhist Problem with Christmas.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.22-23:35.00]

This week I have mostly been listening to . . .

[/music] | [permalink] | [2005.12.22-22:03.00]

Dec 20, 2005

DrunkenBatman on Humourous FAQ's + More

DrunkenBatman points to a couple of pretty amusing Apple FAQ's. Nice to see a big corporation give staff a bit of leeway when it comes to creating this type of content.

This guy built a PC (or should I say CPU) from scratch and documented his efforts at HomebrewCPU.

ArsTechnica discusses some of the technologies that might be used by the President to spy on his people. Interesting that Phil Zimmerman (of PGP fame) was trying to raise this issue back in 1999.

Useful - Effective Emacs.

I don't have the patience for this type of thing anymore but I can appreciate the work - a weblog focused on cool paper models - Paperforest.

Amusing - dailywtf covers some scarey programming techniques discovered in real code. Although I can't code to save myself I can appreciate the wierdness of some of the examples - its almost like they've been obfuscated to intentionally make things more difficult than they need to be.

Interesting - OpenSource used in King Kong. I was interviewed by this guy and was offered a job there. Genuinely nice people. I did hear some horror stories about the workload and conditions (for all Weta staff) though which put me off though.

A definite plug for the Firefox SessionSaver extension - after my broser crashed it was able to restart with all my content/tabs in place so I could carry on right where I left off.

Everyone seems to be releasing their best of 2005 lists so heres my metalist - Popmatters Best Music of 2005, Dusted Magazine Year in Review, Pitchforkmedia Best of 2005. I think I've only got one or maybe two albums on any of these lists . . . I must be getting old.

Interesting collection of beta websites and services - Museum of Modern Betas.

One of them was Hackaday - a bit like MAKE - a new hack every day. Another was Gollum - a simple Wikipedia Browser.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.20-23:34.00]

Dec 19, 2005

Odd Optical Illusion + More

Pink dots - Freaky optical illusion.

Handy - Top 20 IT Mistakes.

Australia has a seething racist underbelly while New Zealand has Santarchists.

Looks like an interesting read - Time management tips for Systems Admins.

Handy - Share your Firefox bookmarks. It'd be useful to do something similar with rss feeds. I guess thats why services like bloglines & delicious have sprung up.

Nitpickers - Pick holes in movies and tv shows. Shame about the annoying popups.

Handy - $45 Emergency Menu for 4-6 People. Our grocery bills are shockingly expensive.

Wed design tips - Tracking how your eye moves across a web page.

Probably more a reflection on the mid 90's than now but still pretty funny - Dilbert on Venture Capatalists.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.19-22:49.00]

Dec 16, 2005

Sunn 0))) + More (Updated 16/12/05)

Having to repost this as Firefox ate my previous post. Sigh. You kind of lose the immediacy of whatever you were posting and re-writing makes it all a bit stale . . .

Horribly humid and hot here in Wellington the last few days. I can't believe this city has almost become tropical.

So I really need to get my mitts on the latest Sunn O))) album - its been gettins some truly stellar reviews. Afterall - a dirge a day helps you work rest and play.

Cool - Wireless USB is starting to hit the market. This isn't a USB wireless network adaptor this is USB *over* wireless - you'll be able to sync your pda, phone, mp3 player and pocket hard-drive without taking them out of your bag. Kind of like a high-speed more ubiquitous bluetooth. I suspect this will cause IT people to have nightmares over the security implications though...

The linked article to this post is a bit biased (they sell DR solutions afterall) but its still a cautionary tale worth readingSurvey reveals extensive server disasters and data loss among enterprises. Some nice comments too - particularly this post about the usefulness of Domino clustering when hardware fails.

Mortality - US statistical death probability by cause. The table looks much more complicated than it should be.

Neat - Tiny self assembling containers for medicine delivery.

This thing is tiny - Elgato EyeTV DTT for the Mac. If I had huge great stinking wads of $$$ I'd replace (all)my TV's with a big-screen iMac and one of these tuners.

OK so its neat the end of the year and I have nothing better to do (I'd get an A+ in procrastination) so here are more links.

Something to balance out the Sunn O))) - Cute Overload. I'm a sucker for cutesy kitten pictures.

This looks promising - Ubuntu Server.

Solaris - Top Ten DTrace Scripts. DTrace is 'DTrace is a comprehensive and flexible dynamic tracing facility built into the Solaris Operating System'.

Looks interesting 11 Clients You Need To Fire Right Now.

Found the above link via Reddit which seems similar to - eg a collaborative bookmarking site.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.16-07:35.00]

Dec 15, 2005

Useful Firefox Plugins

Mainly so when I do a fresh Firefox install I know what plugins I'm used to having -

Aardvark - handy tool to deconstruct and troubleshoot web pages

Greasemonkey - script engine - I have to admit to not using this one at all

Viamatic FoxPose/Tabnail - gives you an OSX like Expose feature and miniature page graphics in the tab field (Tabnail seems to stop working when used in conjunction with one of these

AdBlock - customisable ad blocker

TabX - put a little 'x' to close each tab on the tab itself (like Safari)

SessionSaver - save a set of open browser sessions

NukeAnything Enhanced - contextual menu to zap anything in your browser window

Xinha Here - contextual menu to provide a full html edit window (very handy for blogging)

[/tech/web] | [permalink] | [2005.12.15-21:42.00]

Domino Clustering

Basically I followed the steps from MadJunks Clustering Guide. His site has plenty of other useful Domino related idiots guide type things too.

Here are some additional notes (most of this is pretty obvious to hardcore Domino admins but a lot of it was stuff I needed to discover for myself) :

Need to have Connection Documents for push/pull on both servers in both directions.

Need to insure both servers have rights in each others Server Documents (Security tab) to create new Replicas and new Files.

Failover only takes affect for the end-user after closing and reopening Notes - the server knows about the failover but the client doesn't until its reopened and redirected by the other members of the cluster.

Replication needs to be tweaked - the failover is to the last successful replication (could be anywhere from 24 hours to 30min depending on setup and server load).

Mail delivery (send/receive) only seems to take place after the failed node comes back online (presumably this is just a Domino Server Document setting that needs tweaking so send/receive is possible from anyone of the cluster members.

One of the best things about the clustering is that is OS independent - once Domino is installed regardless of OS you can setup a cluster within the Domino group itself (eg between Domino servers running on AIX, Solaris, Linux, Windows etc).

Useful References

IBM - Setting up a cluster

Its interesting to note that this type of clustering is a real pain in the ass in Exchange - Say No to Active/Active Clustering.

[/tech/domino] | [permalink] | [2005.12.15-20:23.00]

Some Domino tips from my old notes

Rebuild Mailfile Index


Delete an email message but it still remains in your view

Fix (on Domino server console)

load updall mail\.nsf -R to update the mailfile index

Fix Database Corruption


Database is corrupt -- Cannot allocate space NIF: DETECTED STORAGE CORRUPTION ERROR 'B-tree structure is invalid'

Fix (on Domino server console)

updall -R on the mail database, and then load fixup -F -J on mailfile

You can run these update/fixup commands repeatedly until the problem sorts itself out (or you give up and restore from backup).

[/tech/domino] | [permalink] | [2005.12.15-20:03.00]

Dec 13, 2005

ZFS + More (Updated 15/12/05 - primarily silly typos)

I've been reading more about Sun's ZFS - theres a great Presentation PDF as well as some discussion on its ability to prevent data corruption at Fatbits and the article it links to here. Theres a flash demo available here. If ZFS really delivers this type of capability with just a bunch of normal disks thats going to make life a whole lot easier for everyone (except the big storage vendors like EMC of course).

I guess one thing ZFS doesn't seem to do (based on my very very cursory research) is the funky data replication / caching that many of the SANS do - eg you can have a caching server that doesn't actually contain a file until its requested and it will then make a local copy of the file available and ensure it stays consistant - very handy if you have a bunch of files you need to make available to a variety of different locations separated by varying speed/quality links. Don't know what happens when a link goes down and a file is updated in two different locations though...

An excellent overview of iSCSI including a real scenario in which storage equipment is chosen based on a particulare requirement. The SAN stuff still sounds way over the top - they also don't seem to acknowledge the crappiness of Exchange storage / clustering either. I guess if you're a big company you can afford to implement $1.5million solutions with $100k yearly maintenance bills. The unseemly haste with which they ditched a $40k NAS box was also pretty interesting. Was it the technology itself that was the problem or again was it about trying to make Exchange mail storage viable ?

Useful Windows admin advice over at The Lazy Admin.

LinuxJournal has some useful SSH Tips.

ArsTechnica has an indepth review of the Nokia 770 Web Tablet.

A Guardian review panning The Lion the With and the Wardrobe on purely non-technical grounds (essentially the book/movie is a thinly vieled religious/chirstian allegory). Note in the same site the movie does get five stars as a film.

On the other hand the reviews for King Kong look pretty encouraging.

Looking at the statcounter referer logs I couldn't help but be amused that this site features on the first page of hits for Spleen of a Dinosuar. I kid you not.

Funny as ever - Jeremy Clarkson reviews the Bugatti Veyron. His reviews are genius - even the one for a Toyota Corolla Verso.

Its also interesting to catch some of my favourite things reviewed recently - the PopMatters has a recent review of the 1993 Mike Leigh film Naked, and Dusted has a recent review of the Tall Dwarfs reissue of Fork Songs/Dogma and Weeville.

The statcounter logs also have a few people looking at Neomem and Keynote - I have to say I'm leaning more towards Keynote as Neomem seems to crap out on some basic thing like search and it doesn't do pictures. Keynote also has its flaws (the encryption doesn't seem to work reliably and it slows to a crawl when you paste images in) but I haven't had it corrupt anything yet. Neomem certainly looks promising and very customisable but I think I'll wait til the next version before trusting it with my data - as per this Neomem forum thread it looks like adding images is high on the to-do list. Sadly it looks like Keynote development has stalled but hopefully Neomem will pick up some of its features (I note Keynote import is also mentioned in the forums).

While searching for good note taking alternatives I stumbled across this guide to Windows note keeping apps. Which pointed to WikiPad which I'm going to have a bit of a play with.

Oddly there seems to be a plethora of decent OS X note taking apps - Notetaker, VoodooPad (from the brilliantly names 'Flying Meat Software'), TinderBox, DevonThink and Notebook. Mostly all commercial though there is a free VoodooPad Lite.

Theres a good Guardian article on the failings of OpenOffice. I just installed OO v. 2 and have to say it feels sluggish and its interface is clunky (certainly under win32). Its understandably a huge project and if you use a Linux/Unix its really the best option in terms of a productivity suite but it still has some issues to work through. Maybe v. 3 will be the killer.

A nice article on setting up an ISP in a box - the box being a Mac Mini. The article is more of an online notebook keeping track of efforts to build something suitable to host family/friends websites and email.

Nifty Myst-like Flash game - Samorost 2.

A little light on content at the moment but Portable Apps will track applications that can be run from a memory stick.

Some nice examples of Rapid Prototyping - eg essentially 3-D printing.

This is all over the interweb - 10 System Admin Truths. He also updates with End User Troubleshooting. All of this stuff is pretty much spot-on.

This slashdot post on Linus discussing KDE vs Gnome would seem to be indicative of the problem with Linux and most open-source software. The majority of these applications and operating systems are designed by and for geeks - very few applications are designed for the joe-average user. In one respect he has a point - dumbing down the interface to the point where it frustrates power-users is annoying. However a power-user is likely to be skilled enough to customise their OS/application to do what they want it to do in the first place and transcend any enforced limitation - average people are in the majority so it makes sense to cater to them first.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.13-21:00.00]

Dec 10, 2005

iTunes Music Signature

As per a previous post - Jason Freeman has a java based tool which allows you to create a short audio signature from your iTunes library.

Heres my iTMS - its a 2mb wav file.

Try and guess what artists and tracks are on there. Pretty difficult as its only composed of about 20 two second snippets.

For the impatient heres the list.

[/music] | [permalink] | [2005.12.10-21:19.00]

ntop +More

Useful open source network monitor - ntop. Kind of like an simple idiot-proof cactii/mrtg.

Scarily accurate - The Unspoken Taboo - The Never Expiring Password. Service accounts passwords and admin type accounts are always one of those - "if it isn't broken don't fix it" things that hardly ever get updated.

Useful monitoring tool - Multitail lets you simultaneously 'tail' multiple files in a split screen view - very handy for keeping an eye on logfiles.

Most people already know this but its always a surprise that no one in a position to change this has put any effort into it - Killing the Desktop. Don Park discusses how the average user doesn't know or care about the majority of functionality present in most computer Finder/Explorer interfaces.

Some curious songs - A ditty 4 you. Of particular interest - 'THINK! BEFORE MARKING YOUR EMAILS HIGH PRIORITY'

USB Goodness - Run Mac Classic from a USB stick - should work with Basilisk too. Toms Hardware has an article on using BartPE and a USB stick to create a bootable 'Windows in your pocket' distribution.

Handy - 20 Ways to Secure Apache.

Nifty - Jason Freeman has a java based tool which allows you to create a short audio signature from your iTunes library by sampling the playlist and how frequently tracks get played. The end result is a short wav file with 2second snippets of your musical tastes.

Interesting - The Greatest Games of All Time.

Interesting and vaguely useful - External USB LCD Display. You can set it to monitor email, IM Chat, RSS feeds etc.

Some of Googles tips for effective technical teams.

Sobering statistics on the state of the world with an attractive flash interface.

More useful SSH tips.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.10-21:12.00]

Dec 06, 2005

Proper use of /usr/local + More

A nice article from a seasoned Unix-head on the correct use of /usr/local. Aimed particularly at OS X users. I remember the days of cobling together small disks in SCSI chains and watching the bus errors fly by due to termination problems...

Useful for monitoring 'stuff' - Understanding SNMP. The article is generic even though its on a Windows site. If you run a Unix OS then the net-snmp package lets you get all sorts of information out of all sorts of equipment (eg you can setup something like Nagios to monitor certain SNMP codes on a device and alert you via a custom plugin).

More useful for monitoring 'stuff' - Linux Server Management with IPMI. IPMI lets you extract useful environment information from hardware - such as cpu temperature, fan speed etc. As he points out in the article often a fan failure or slow-down can result in a server meltdown - so any kind of prior warning of this event is really useful (Dell have ESM which provides similar diagnostics).

Been there - Server Room Cabling Nightmare. Its interesting that he doesn't like management arms - I guess if the cabling is tidy they're no longer required. Theres also the perennial problem of how many cable-ties to undo/redo when you add new equipment. The end result is very pretty though (if you like that sort of thing). Another set of Techrepublic server room pics - ranging from the terribly tidy to the dangerously messy.

Interesting - Enomilism VMC is a XEN Virtual Machine management console (much like the VMWare ESX console).

Detailed cfengine article - looks really useful but from memory its quite tricky to maintain. I guess if you reach a certain threshold of config changes over time then its worth investing time in a cfengine infrastructure to centralise change management.

Via BoingBoing a link to some fantastic 60's Designs at WorldofKane.

The Social Issues Research Center has some great articles. Including Passport to the Pub: A guide to British pub etiquette which is only slightly tongue-in-cheek.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.06-23:16.00]

Dec 05, 2005

Recent Books

Just finished Stephen Donaldsons Runes of the Earth. I'd definitely give it a 5/5 for any fans of the original books and the cliff-hanger ending leading into the next book is brilliant and frustrating in equal measure. Being almost two decades (time flys!) older than when I finished the original series there is a certain nagging suspicion about the language and way in which the author phrases his text that can make you squirm a little. Still can't detract from an excellent story. If anyone finds Stephen Donaldson text flowery or his characterisations one dimensional they should try his sci-fi 'Gap' series or 'Mordants Need' series - much grittier writing (the 'Gap' series is almost shocking compared to his fantasy stuff).

Prior to that I polished off Neil Gaimans 'Anansi Boys' which was also an excellent book - if you enjoyed 'American Gods' you'll enjoy this one. Its very tame in comparison but its still a wonderful story of two brothers coming to terms with their fathers legacy.

Now I've just started 'Absolution Gap' the last in the Inhibitors series by Alastair Reynolds. I find it tough going getting into his books but usually by the half-way point it becomes pretty riviting stuff. Certainly some of the best sci-fi I've read since Iain Banks 'Culture' stuff.

I also hear Stephen Pressfield has jumped on the Alexander bandwagon with his latest novel - ' Alexander: The Virtues of War'. His 'Gates of Fire' was inspired but his followups were a little dry - I'll still check this one out though.

[/books] | [permalink] | [2005.12.05-23:12.00]

Little Fish

Saw 'Little Fish' on the weekend - first grown-up movie we've seen in awhile (ie the average age of the audience must have been 35+). Its not really a warm-fuzzy feel good type movie but it has a realistic story, down to earth characters and great acting (stars Cate Blanchett, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving). Definitely recommended if you like low-key Australian films.

[/film] | [permalink] | [2005.12.05-21:52.00]

Dec 04, 2005

w00t + More

Handy - w00t run a site with a limited one day only special on items of interest to the geekier segment of society.

Via Tinyapps - BarracudaDrive looks like a useful tool especially in conjunction with BarracudaHTTPS Tunnel - safely access your files from anywhere.

Everyone needs their own Monopoly money.

A nice cautionary tale on Wikipedia. Freedom to add/remove/edit content does come at a price - you need to take everything you read with a grain of salt (pretty true of almost everything you read/watch/hear these days anyway).

Wonderful flickr photoset CIA Sabotage Manual pitched at Nicuraguans in the 80's. I wonder how many of these techniques are being used in Iraq ?

Another handy free disk imaging tool - DiskImageXML.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.04-23:36.00]

Dec 02, 2005

This week I have mostly been listening to . . .

[/music] | [permalink] | [2005.12.02-00:43.00]

Dec 01, 2005

Security Updates + More

Adminfoo updated their Nine Principles of Security with some additional (very useful) reader commentary.

Introduction to Sed - I love these guides but my brain still can't get around regex.

Some excellent Ren & Stimpy Sketches - particularly for those that remember the rubber-nipple salesman episode. I can't believe this was childrens television back in the early 90's.

Tim Bray writes on his experiences installing different operating systems onto his Sun Ultra 20

Nice idea - Fake Beer Belly.

Fantastic traffic-calming for urban areas.

Looks like a useful command - mirdir.

Nice Christmas gift-idea - Solabeast. Simple kitset solar-power robot.

MAKE Magazines Gifts Mostly Under $100. The phidgets sound good and you can't go past the lego mindstorm (still very expensive though).

Nice news on the Home Automation on OS X front.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.12.01-22:56.00]

More annoying stuff . . . Kiwi Drivers

Kiwi drivers are by far and away the most dangerous on the road in the world - sure other countries have bad drivers but mostly thats down to inner city chaos (Rome, Paris, Delhi etc). In NZ (I'm generalising horribly) drivers will barely indicate, swerve all over the road in an effort to gain an extra car-length, tailgate, speed and generally have appalling skills and road-manners. Visitors be warned!

Interesting thread on this in

I do wonder how the 16/17/18/19 year-old morons with their super-duper Evo's and Imprezza's can afford them though. I wonder if in a few years time they'll wish they'd bought a $500 mini instead and saved the rest to put a deposit on a house.


[/spleen] | [permalink] | [2005.12.01-19:55.00]