jawtheshark writes "Jonathan Coulton, of "Code Monkey" fame, got notified by a fan that Glee was apparently using the melody of his rendition of the song "Baby Got Back". No credit was given. While the song is a cover, the melody written by Coulton was original.
jawtheshark writes "I'm building a house, and obviously I want a modest network built-in. Nothing fancy, two RJ-45 per room, four in the living room, and that's basically it. I already got myself a rack mountable Cisco Small Business switch and I have a self-built 4U server (low-power, won't make much heat) which can be rack mounted (505mm deep).
Now, the construction company suggests a wall mounted rack (6U: 340mm x 600mm x 480mm — 6U definitely won't be enough, but a 12U model exists). It's not expensive, but I have never worked on a rack where the backside is unreachable. (For work, I get to work in a data center with huge racks that are accessible from both sides). Now obviously, I don't need a data center-grade rack, but these wall-mounted racks scream "switch-only" racks to me. What are your experiences? Is it possible to put servers in racks like these, or should I find a "both-side-accessible" rack instead?" top
jawtheshark writes "According to ars technica, Apple is going to revise the pricing of Plus songs on the iTunes Music store:
The bigger news on the iTunes Plus horizon, however, is that Apple plans to drop the price of all iTunes Plus tracks. Currently, each track is $1.29 while "normal" DRMed tracks are 99 apiece. That discrepancy will be no longer, as Apple will begin pricing all of its iTunes Plus songs at 99 apiece (DRMed tracks will also remain at 99).
My father in law has a serious lack of IT management in his company. No wonder, it's a typical small business. Files scattered all over. I occasionally went over there in my free time to help a bit out. They had an "old PC" with data on it that they couldn't recover. Of course, I recovered the data and from then on it just sat there. Now it was a P-III 900MHz with 128Meg RAM. It ran dog slow with the common Redmond OS, and I thought it would be a nice platform to build a small business server on. You know, a samba server, automated backups at night. The usual, or at least what is "usual" on my own small networks.
Well, I had this machine in my car for a few weeks and I finally decided today to take a look at it. Well, as it turns out, one of the memory slots is not working. I can put any SD-RAM module in it (and I have quite a variety) and it will not boot. Frankly, while the 128Meg will probably be fine for a small business server, I am not going to build a critical server on a machine that is already partially defect.
So, the P-IV that I found in the dumpster will get the job, and the P-III 900MHz will find its way into the dumpster (after I "harvested" it of course!) Advantages are that it has a 100Mbps integrated network card and USB 2.0. (The P-III has only USB 1.1 and the network card was awfully slow, even though it is marked as 100MBps) The USB is going to be nice because that's what I'll use for backup: an external USB harddisk.
I already have two 160Gig harddisks that I will put in software RAID. That should do for a small business server. I hope at least...
This reminds me: he wants to pay me for my work! He had this old IBM PS/2, running a metal cutting robot. The machine was failing slowly, so I replaced it with an old computer which I got from a friend. I think he bought it in 1995 and used it at least 5 years. Then he gave it to me and it served as the family server for another 4 or 5 years. Then I retired it. It sat there for a year and now it controls a robot. Hehe, and my father in law asks me how much he owes me for that machine. What do you ask for a machine that is over 10 years old and strictly has no value at all. Okay, I put my work in it, installing FreeDOS on it and adding some hardware I had lying around... At least one can say that this machine really had a useful life;-)
On the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app"
jawtheshark writes | about 6 months ago
In the past few weeks different people came to me with the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app". If you feel targeted, you probably are, but you're not the first, and you won't be the last. Some even trusted me enough to tell me what their great idea was. Many, though not all, couldn't code their way through a paper bag and thus they look for someone "to code the app for free".
You even might find someone like that, and if you do, it's someone with a lot of time on their hands like a student with not much experience.
What those ideas (if I get to hear them) all have in common is that they need infrastructure behind it. Uploading pictures, movies, heck, even simple text need a place to be stored. That's definitely not your phone, especially if others need to be able to access it. Yeah, you can start off with hosting a little database and web front end on your DSL line (if you have one), but in the long run this will require some serious money.
I'm not even talking about the people managing and creating it for you. I'm just talking about bandwidth, storage, electricity.
So, if you have an app idea, assess where you want to store what: if you have no concrete answers to those questions, shelve your idea until you do.. An app is nothing magical, it requires real resources, real work and thus real money.
Intro: I was complaining on social networks that the LuxTrust hardware tokens are forced upon all teachers in my country. That's a huge problem because I got my mother in law on Linux and this thing is very very badly supported. Officially the website say "Ubuntu 10.04" supported. Funnily enough, their website also doesn't mention Windows 8 as supported. Anyway, they're a useless company in my eyes... I wish them the most ill possible.
Here is my little test run:
So, I decided to test the LuxTrust support under Ubuntu GNU/Linux 12.04 LTS i686. I installed a virtual machine from the ISO, and from that blank slate, I wanted to try how "easy" this is. Well, there you go, I downloaded their "middleware".
The good news: Ubuntu Software center presented it as installable and it installed it without apparently problems after clicking the Install. Good! If this were enough, I'd say "it's supported". Let's test it. So, I go to CCP-Connect, one of the few banks known to work well with LuxTrust under Linux. The thing needs Java, and I as expected, and I don't have it installed. I get redirected, at once to http://www.oracle.com/java. The sheer number of options is intimidating. If I weren't very familiar with Java, I wouldn't have a clue what to select. Now, this might be P&T Luxembourg doing it wrong, but the site you should send end-users to is http://www.java.com/. Never send an end-user to a developer site, it's a horrible mistake.
Anyway, I do what is needed and surprise, there is no Oracle Java for Ubuntu. A RPM and a tar.gz. Now, if I weren't who I am, I would be blocked again. So, I download the tar.gz and I'll be honest to you, dropped right to the command line, tar zxvf later to/opt, and doing an update-alternatives --install of the new java, oh, and while we're at it, make a symlink for the plugin . Now, of course, I understand it's Oracle whom I have a problem with, but I bet that you won't get this documentation at LuxTrust and they sure as hell can't walk you though this. Of course, the way I did this, I'm now responsible for updating my Java. Of course, there is a PPA, but can I trust that? (I'll have to, if I want automatic updates, but you get the point, no?)
Now, going back to the banking site, it seems to run. I get to the point where I have to select their product and then a screen saying there is no signing stick. (Obviously, I don't have one.)
For kicks 'n giggles, I tried OpenJDK/JRE with the icedtea plugin. No surprise, but that doesn't work: gray pane instead of the applet, but other java applets works fine. So, Oracle Java mandatory. Heck, even Minecraft runs op OpenJDK for crying out loud!
At least their middleware didn't install some kind of daemon, which I what I would have expected with something called "Middleware".
Funny also: The Oracle Java VM warns you from running applets all the time, even the test applet on the java.com site. Scary. Well, not to me, but to a normal end user.
 i686 for a good reason, from what I read getting it to run is significantly harder on amd64.
 I knew that it wasn't going to work
 Wait, isn't that what dependencies are for... Naaaah, dependencies. Who uses that?
 Not really, I've been here before
 Probably better use update-alternatives for that one too!
jawtheshark writes | about a year ago
Galaxy Tab 2 is the poster child of Android tablets out there, right? Well, let's just say that I ain't impressed. Boyfriend of MiL got one, to read his newspaper. Well, we didn't manage to do that, partially, I think due to wort.lu screwing up. Partially, because the default browser just says "downloading" and that's it. What exactly happens after that is unclear and unless you know that a tiny download icon shows the download, and if you swiped away that, where to find the PDF... you ain't gonna go far. Apart from boyfriend of MiL not (wanting) to understand the difference between an app, a website and a PDF, it ended up being an exercise in frustration.
Unable to help on that front, he asked if he could read his email. Naively, I said, of course you can! So, I set up his (national, very standard) ISP email address. Well, I followed the wizard. Big mistake, I ended up on POP3, which of course is a standard that should have been banned years ago. Damn, I hope you didn't have important emails. I set it up again as IMAP. Works fine, really... Except it doesn't show any email. None... I specifically sent email to him. Shows nothing... I assure you, the settings are correct. I used the same as those, I used on his iPhone. Besides, they do show on his iPhone
No way to make it work. On a related note: the POP3 did not delete his email from server. At least that was good.
Then, I want to show him to install apps (Despite me hating the word). Choice between the Samsung App Store, which most likely works but you want the Google store. So, Google Play. Okay, do you have a Google account? No... Ah, no problem, let's set one up. I follow the wizard, up until it asks for a secondary email for "lost password" situations. I could type in whatever I wanted, but the "Next" button never got enabled, stopping me right in the track to create the account.
Yes, I know, I could just go to a computer, create him a Google account and be done with it. Still, isn't this simply a scandalous bug?
So, I try to help and end up having I to explain that tablet browsers are second-class internet citizens (a site he uses failed to work. How do you explain that to a non tech, eh? Nothing I did worked as expected and I'm supposed to know what I do.
Okay, I might simply have become obsolete and have become unable to troubleshoot modern devices. Perhaps it's a hint I should stay in my basement with my servers and "real" computers. I don't know... It must be me. Everyone loves their Android tablets....
Today, I had the most peculiar experience. A (female, and pregnant, but that has no importance at all for this story) cousin of mine complained on Facebook about a virus infection on her Windows machine (I assume Vista, but I actually didn't bother to ask). Locked out by one of these ransom viruses. Worst part is that she did have an up-to-date antivirus sponsored by the Bank where here partner works.
I don't mind helping, but -of course- my first comment was. "Drop that crap OS and go to ubuntu.com and get a real operating system". I NEVER expected her to actually do that. Well, she jumped on the occasion. She was also very happy to hear what a live CD is and that she could recover her data from her current installation using the LiveCD and copy it to a USB disk. So, she managed to burn the ISO, boot to it, copy her data and install the whole thing. Basically without me helping except saying that it could be done. I also explained what dual booting was and she could do that.
She asked me one question: Why do you use Windows? My reply was: I don't, unless I want to play games (the non-Flash variants. I illustrated Flash games with FarmVille). The tipped her over: She'd go full Linux.
I was completely baffled... You have to imagine the frustration Windows had to put on her so that she would try something completely unknown, just because I say I use it.
First reactions were: Hey, this thing already has Firefox,,Thunderbird and an Office suite. Wow, I have four workspaces (she means virtual desktops). She found Ubuntu Cloud (5GB seems a lot to her, I wonder where else she has been?) and -while not Ubuntu specific- I explained her what Firefox Sync is. She also seemed to like the idea of the Software Store (I compared it to Apples App Store, I know not the same, but she has to understand what it is) and steered her to installing ubuntu-restricted-extras and explained it was to install Flash and similar.
Linux on the desktop... Yes, it can be done... She is non-IT, perhaps a bit geeky, but definitely non-IT.
Got myself 58% more screen real estate at 117.99€. The prime condition on a Full HD[*] monitor was that it must have integrated speakers. This is because it saves desk space. That's hard to find in my allocated budget of max. 149€.
Funnily enough, this is exactly the same model as my moms screen which I bought nearly two years ago. 149€ back then. I have cursed myself ever since that day that I didn't buy one for myself.
The integrated speaker isn't as great as the ones in my old Fujitsu-Siemens C17-2, but more than sufficient for the occasional youp...I mean youtube video.
On a related note, I start to have quite a few "spare" LCD screens now.
[*] As much as I'd love to have a 2560x1440 monitor, there is no way I want to spend 400€++ on a monitor.
I don't program much these days any more, but due to a not very important reason, I wanted to do a little something with Java Server Faces. Being a sysadmin by day, I thought that setting up such an environment would be easy-peasy, as long as I stick to the default packages, I'd get an environment that would be more than sufficient for my modest needs. Basically, my idea was that
aptitude install tomcat6 libjsf-impl-java
on a base Debian squeeze would do it. I mean change a config file left and right, drop the webapp in/var/lib/tomcat6/webapps/ and point my browser to http://dusky.sharks:8080/megasuperextremewebapp
Well, apparently, it's not that easy. I took this as test web application, as it looked extremely simple. I immediately got greeted with a ClassNotFoundException on com.sun.faces.config.ConfigureListener. That seems to be one of the core JSF classes. No problem right? Just a classpath problem right? Well, I do remember that could get quite complicated. To make a long story short. The JSF jars are in/usr/share/java where you'd expect them. Superficially there didn't seem to be an entry to that in the classpath, so I added it manually. Didn't help.
Well, let's try adding a few symbolic links to the web applications WEB-INF/lib part... namely jsf-impl.jar and jsf-api.jar. Nope... Then I read something that can't do that but need to copy the jars to make it work. I do so. It still doesn't work, but the ClassNotFoundException is gone (replaced by another one). WTF?!? Java doesn't work with symlinks?
It's pretty much at that point that I decided to write this, because despite all my Googling, I found no references on how to do this (using default packages on Debian). All instructions basically are quite Windows centric, instruct you to download software here and there tell you to copy jars nilly willy, which would be okay if they explained why. I don't like "just do this" instructions.
I'm a big fan of the central repositories, but unless I have a blonde moment, server-side Java doesn't play nice at all...
So, is there anyone who ever tried using just the packages and have it work?
It's my full Raspberry Pi kit: I was lucky, the two high speed 4GB SD cards were 5€ each on sale, and the power adapters were on sale at 7.50€ each.
The RS Components Pi was 39,16€. The Farnell/Element 14 Pi was 42.05€ (including the t-shirt!).
The whole shebang was thus "only" 106,21€....
The SD cards are both loaded with the default Raspbian, with SSH enabled (just added links manually in/etc/rc[2-5].d)
I'm not a Windows fanboi... Far from it. Yet, Windows 8 might not deserve the bad rap it gets in the tech world.
I think this because I remember how the tech community reacted to Unity on Ubuntu. Hey, I did react violently too, because Unity in 10.10 to 11.10 definitely sucked. I continued to use it and I have to admit that in 12.04 it has become good. Sure, perhaps a bit dumbed down for the average power-user, but I can live with that.
If you read here more often, you might think "why for hells sake did you continue to use it if you didn't like it". The reply to this is that I use Ubuntu (LTS) for a "drop and forget" for non tech users. I was utterly dreading giving them Unity.
My worries were unfounded. When my dad had to go to the hospital (twice) earlier this year (He has COPD as we've now been told and has been on the brink of death twice), I provided him with a low-weight dumpster-diven laptop (CoreDuo/4GB RAM, if you must know) on which I quickly installed Ubuntu so he could surf and email. Not a single question was asked... None. Sure, my dad is Windows power user, but really, no question at all.
I upgraded my Mom's computer to 12.04 LTS in May.. Not a single question either... My mom is no tech...
I will say it how it is: Mark Shuttleworth was right, and the tech community wasn't.
What has this got to do with Windows 8? Simple: the interface is radically different, just like Unity. It's radically simplified, just like Unity... We techs all hate it, just like Unity. However, has anyone ever bothered to sit down a real non-tech user in front of it? That will tell us the success of failing of it. Normal, non-tech users, will probably like the simplicity.
I predict that, if Windows 8 doesn't have other problems, it might not be the disaster we techs think it will be.
To my complete and utter astonishment, I got my Raspberry Pi today. Not the one ordered at Farnell, but the one ordered at RS Online on 23 May 2012. Very quick. (Okay, for a piece of hardware with these kind of waiting lists) They never sent me an email that it was shipped. Nice surprise though.
Downside: the Farnell one should have shipped with a t-shirt. I like t-shirts... My wife doesn't, at least not the geeky ones.... So we'll just put this up as a draw;-)
Given Farnell promised them for end-June, I really don't expect them to deliver next week (no email, no nothing), I bothered to go through my credit card statements. The money was never booked. I have no idea why...
It could have to do with the fact that my credit card expired in April (this means, in April it was still valid) and I ordered the 4th of April 2012. Should still have worked, but if for some reason they delayed the transaction, the credit card they had from me was expired. Just a little email to update my details would have sufficed, but I guess with the demand, why bother with a single order, right?
So my bet is: I won't get it. Not from Farnell. The RS Electronics one was booked, but the order was made much later on my new credit card.
Well, some might have noticed that I got an Ask Slashdot through on the front page. Nice, but really, for some commenters you really need tough skin. Some of the commenters really think you're a complete idiot for just asking something because you don't have the experience and just want to tap into the pool of knowledge present here.
Sure, I could have a bit more precise, that I have a European style house and not the masses of space many in the US have, I also should have specified why I wanted a rackmount at home: basically, neatness and centralizedness (is that even a word?) because tell me what you want: a neat rack has higher WAF than a couple of desktops scattered around the house.
Oddly enough, I'm not sure I found a good answer. Best suggestion was this. I'll try to see whether my electrician can get a full rack, but if he can't, it will be this. Given my geographical location, using eBay for these things is impossible and people selling these new don't seem to want to bother with non-company entities (aka "real people"). So, starting off with the mounted one, extending to an on-roll half rack for future extensions seems a good compromise.
I've been tasked to look into full disk encryption for the company I work for. We're talking just five laptops running Windows XP or Windows 7 that will need it. The other branches are going with TrueCrypt and I do have experience with TrueCrypt. It works fine, but only requires a password. I investigated it and I thought I could "emulate" a two-factor authentication by having a password plus providing a USB stick with a keyfile. Turns out that this is not possible with Truecrypt and full disk encryption.
I did Google around a bit, but I have no real comprehensive overview of "good" products. So, I ask the crowd here: what full disk encryption with two factor authentication do you use. Are you satisfied with it? Pitfalls to avoid.