Monday, November 19, 2007

Best song of all time ... the sequel

So yesterday I was doing the dishes. Nothing fancy about that, despite the fact I was listening to this while doing it. There's a track on the second disc, called Xpander which is really awesome. Choosing between Xpander and the track mentioned in an earlier post would be ... eh ... very difficult. Sasha rules!
A while ago, Sasha did a set on Essential Mix, remixing and re-editing music live, on Ableton live @ Maida Vale. Now this set, my dear friends, is by far the best set I've ever heard. It also features the song mentioned in some earlier post. I think I heard this set a zillion times, but I never get tired playing it. Again and again. I guess that makes me a boring person :)
Anyway, I think I should recall the earlier post about the best song of all time. IMHO, there's no such thing. There can be several :)
So, I guess I will have to assemble box of records-that-should-be-rescued-in-case-of-fire.
Cheers ...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Linux: Joy, joy, pleasure overload

Yes. Coming home today and browsing through the mail I received mad me a very happy man, despite of the rough week at work. Today I found 2 surprises in my mail:
  • Revolution OS, the DVD. This DVD is a documentary on Linux and the Open Source movement. Yes, I do realize you can see this movie on-line but I just had to have a hard copy for myself. And yes, I do realize this makes me a real nerd :)
  • 2 CD's with Ubuntu 7.10. The nice people of ShipIt send me a free copy of Ubuntu's most recent distributable for free.

Guess this makes me a double nerd.
Oh well, I don't care. You're all being jealous :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Best song of all time

I am not that old. I have developed my taste for music when I was twelve years old or so. I think everyone developed some taste at that time. Maybe for something different, like women :)
Anyway, when I was twelve, 17 years ago, some dudes in Belgium invented New Beat. At least, I think it was invented here. It was a cross breed of New Wave and some other electronic sounds from the late 80's. I know my parents didn't like it very much, but I did. New Beat didn't last very long and then House music, and all its off-springs, came along. My parent's didn't like it either, even some of my friends didn't like it, but I still did.
House music is still here, the number of off-springs still growing. Right now I like stuff they play on frisky radio and BBC's kiss 100 and Essentialmix.
Obviously, this is not the only genre I admire. I also like other stuff like Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo, Radiohead, ... . Seriously, you can't play house when you're having friends for dinner ... right?
Anyway, looking back at my collection of records and CD's I gathered in these 15 wonderful years it makes you wonder: "suppose the house burns down and you can only save 1 record, which one would it be?". I think, and some other people probably agree, this record would be it (At The Villa People; Open Your Eyes). This record reminds my of the period when I started DJ'ing, around 1996. It was one of the first records I bought, with the little money I had at that time.
Life is music, my dear friends (which reminds me, "My life is music" is also a very fine record). Music has always helped my to get through difficult periods in life. Like girlfriends breaking up with me, people dying, whatever. It reminds you of other, pleasant, things that happened in your past. It reminds you of people you've met, friends you've learned to know.
Think about it, what would be the sole record you salvage, should your house burn down ...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Linux: Installing latest firefox and thunderbird on Dapper

I'm still using Ubuntu Dapper. Why? Because I don't want to mess a lot with this install and let a dist-upgrade trash it completely every six months or so. Trust me, I've done 2 or more dist-upgrades in Ubuntu and none of them went well.
Anyway, I am still running Dapper and I'm proud of it. The only problem with this is that firefox and thunderbird shipped with Dapper have become very outdated. I wanted to try the webmail plug-in, but it only works for thunderbird 2. Damn :(
Fortunately there are some kind people who also have an older Ubuntu install and created a script to easily install the latest versions of both firefox and thunderbird on any Ubuntu version. Cool eh :)
The script is called ubuntuzilla and you need to run it as root. Not as a regular user, not using sudo.
Use it at your own risk and make a backup of your mails before using the script!

Linux: Installing fluxbuntu (Gutsy)

Introduction

I own an old Compaq Armada e500. This portable used to have 512 MB of RAM, but the other month, half of it failed on me and died. So, this left the portable quite useless. Running Ubuntu with Gnome is quite painful, because you spent most of the time waiting. Even the so claimed lightweight Ubuntu, Xubuntu, doesn't run as smooth as it should.
The other week I came across a post on the dutch Ubuntu forums, talking about fluxbuntu. This Ubuntu version claims being more lightweight than Xubuntu, so I decided to take it for a spin.

Installation

fluxbuntu boots in a non graphical installer. If you ever installed Debian, this installer will look very familiar. I think Ubuntu's alternate install CD also uses this "ncurses" based installer. Although the installer is text based, installing fluxbuntu is not more difficult than installing any other distro using a graphical installer. It also has the same basic questions; what's your keyboard layout?, where do you live?, where do you want to put it?. It even did a good job detecting the correct settings for XWindows.

SLIM login manager

After the necessary reboot, I was presented a nice splash screen and a simple, but nice login manager. fluxbuntu does not use xdm (Xubuntu) or gdm (Ubuntu, Gnome) but the very lightweight: Simple LogIn Manager (or SLIM). Being lightweight is the only advantage I can see for this login manager. One major disadvantage is that the version shipped with fluxbuntu (1.2.something) does not support PAM. So if you're authenticating against NIS or LDAP, you can kiss this login manager goodbye :)
After searching the web for a while, I discovered that the most recent version (1.3.0) supports PAM. I couldn't find any Debian package though, so I had to compile it myself. SLIM does not include a configure script, so you'll need to read the INSTALL to find out and install the necessary dependencies. If I recall correctly, you'll need xorg-dev, libpng-dev, g++ and libjpg-dev. After doing a make install, just reboot (or init 1 and CTRL+D) and you're up and running the latest SLIM :)

fluxbox

fluxbuntu uses fluxbox as default windowmanager. fluxbox is a fork of the elder blackbox window manager which I used a long time ago. I've always liked blackbox and also like fluxbox very much. The UI looks very clean and the people from fluxbuntu have done a great job creating a default theme for it. Unlike Ubuntu, it's green.

PAM and ldap

Since Gutsy, they've done some changes to the libpam-ldap and libnss-ldap packages. Apparently they are now grouped in one meta package and the both use the same configuration file /etc/ldap.conf, instead of /etc/libnss-ldap.conf and /etc/pam_ldap.conf. I think this is a very good idea, since both files contained the same settings anyway. So you ended up either maintaining 2 files, or symlinking the one to the other. Anyway, I am not going into detail on configuring an LDAP client install, but if you're migrating from Feisty or older to Gutsy, it is something to keep in mind when trying to reuse your old configuration files.

Conclusion

This is the lightweight distro I have been waiting for. Even on older machines with less RAM, it runs smoother then Xubuntu which is, IMHO, becoming quite heavyweight as well. I do realize that fluxbox is probably not as intuitive as KDE, Xfce or Gnome, but intuitiveness has never been my main concern.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Jori Hulkkonen feat. Jerry Valuri - Lo-Fiction

If someone would ask me to compile a list of 10 personal favorites, Lo-Fiction would definitely be ranked very high. I don't think anyone would disagree with this statement.
P.S. If someone is able to find the lyrics for this song, please be so kind to post a link. Even though it's English I don't always understand what he's singing about :(

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We welcome Nils and Arne

Yesterday our twins were born around 9u50 CET. Underneath you can see a picture of the proud mother and our 2 lovely sons.

Mother and sons are doing well.
And yes, the name Nils was inspired by Linus Torvald's father :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Linux: Installing sun-java 6u2 the Debian way on Ubuntu Dapper

Even though the recent changes in Sun's licensing, for distributing the jdk as a package, allows Ubuntu to provide prepackaged jdk's, I couldn't find a package for my Dapper install. On the dutch Ubuntu forums there was someone asking for a package for jdk 6u2, so I decided to give him a hand. This is the procedure that will work on Dapper, Edgy and Feisty:
  1. sudo apt-get install java-package

  2. now edit: gksudo gedit /usr/share/java-package/sun-j2sdk.sh

  3. search this section:

    "jdk-1_5_0_"[0-9][0-9]"-linux-i586.bin") # SUPPORTED
    j2se_version=1.5.0+update${archive_name:10:2}
    j2se_expected_min_size=130
    found=true
    ;;
    esac
    ;;

  4. make it look like this:

    "jdk-1_5_0_"[0-9][0-9]"-linux-i586.bin") # SUPPORTED
    j2se_version=1.5.0+update${archive_name:10:2}
    j2se_expected_min_size=130
    found=true
    ;;
    "jdk-6u"[0-9]"-linux-i586.bin") # SUPPORTED
    j2se_version=1.6.0+update${archive_name:6:1}
    j2se_expected_min_size=58
    found=true
    ;;
    esac
    ;;

  5. copy: sudo cp -r /usr/share/java-package/sun-j2sdk1.5 /usr/share/java-package/sun-j2sdk1.6

  6. edit: gksudo gedit /usr/share/java-package/sun-j2sdk1.6/install and replace j2sdk1.5-sun by j2sdk1.6-sun

  7. edit: gksudo gedit /usr/share/java-package/sun-j2sdk1.6/remove and replace j2sdk1.5-sun by j2sdk1.6-sun

  8. download: jdk-6u2-linux-i586.bin

  9. execute install: fakeroot make-jpkg ./jdk-6u2-linux-i586.bin

  10. this results in a .deb that you can install using sudo dpkg -i ./sun-j2sdk1.6_1.6.0+update2_i386.deb


Voila.

Linux: Upgrading Debian

In one of my last posts the other year I was complaining about my struggle fixing Debian after performing an upgrade while following the "testing" branch. Seems all the hassle I've been through, finally paid of. My upgrade to "etch" has been a very smooth transition.
Since I was feeling adventurous, I decided to upgrade my vanilla kernel as well. The machine was running a vanilla 2.6.15.4 kernel which was becoming a little outdated. So I decided to take my chance compiling the most recent 2.6.22.3 kernel. Configuring and compiling was easy, but after a necessary reboot, iptables NAT and masquerading seemed b0rken. After googling a little bit, I discovered that the Netfilter people did a bit of refactoring in the modules and options necessary for NAT and masquerading. After enabling

-> Networking
-> Networking support (NET [=y])
-> Networking options
-> Network packet filtering framework (Netfilter) (NETFILTER
-> Core Netfilter Configuration
NF_CONNTRACK_ENABLED = [m]

the CONFIG_NF_NAT option appeared underneath "IP: Netfilter Configuration". After a 3rd compile and install, I've managed to get the configuration right and I am now running Debian Etch on a vanilla 2.6.22.3 kernel.
I guess it's nothing to be proud of ... but I am :)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Belgium Cityparade 2007 (2)

OMFG, I just visited the site again and seems the date moved to September 8th. If you're following this blog, you can read that my girlfriend is expecting delivery of our twins the same date. Guess I won't be visiting the parade this year ... or lets pray for an early delivery somewhere in the middle of august ;)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

pam_ccreds howto

This document is largely inspired by this link. The configuration contains a few flaws however and is not working for Ubuntu Edgy.
  1. First we need to install nss-updatedb:

    sudo apt-get install nss-updatedb

  2. Make sure to update /etc/nsswitch.conf:

    passwd: compat ldap [NOTFOUND=return] db
    group: compat ldap [NOTFOUND=return] db
    shadow: compat ldap

  3. Populate the cache by issuing:

    sudo nss_updatedb ldap

  4. Make sure nss-ldap doesn't search for the LDAP forever. Update /etc/libnss-ldap.conf:

    bind_policy hard
    nss_reconnect_tries 1
    nss_reconnect_sleeptime 1
    nss_reconnect_maxsleeptime 8
    nss_reconnect_maxconntries 2

  5. Check if this worked by unplugging the network and typing the following command:

    getent passwd

    Be warned, this might take some time.
  6. Now, install libnss-db and libpam-ccreds:

    sudo apt-get install libnss-db libpam-ccreds

  7. Update /etc/pam.d/common-auth:

    auth sufficient pam_unix.so
    auth [authinfo_unavail=ignore success=1 default=die] pam_ldap.so use_first_pass
    auth [default=done] pam_ccreds.so action=validate use_first_pass
    auth [default=done] pam_ccreds.so action=store use_first_pass
    auth [default=done] pam_ccreds.so action=update use_first_pass

  8. Update /etc/pam.d/common-account:

    account sufficient pam_unix.so nullok_secure
    account sufficient pam_ldap.so
    account required pam_permit.so

  9. Finally you must login while connected to the LDAP server once to make libpam-ccreds store your password. After that you will be able to login while not connected to the ldap server as usual.


Done ;)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Suspect flees Spanish extradition in dramatic prison escape

Prison Break has become a quite popular series here in Belgium. It shows how some dude is helping his brother to escape by tattooing the prison's blueprints on his body, along with some secret messages.
Now, here in Belgium, we think that way of escaping is very oldskool and way too complicated. We just hijack a helicopter and airlift the guy from the prison's court. You don't believe it, read this link.

Belgium Cityparade 2007

After a long time of uncertainty whether the Cityparade was going to be held this year or not, I found the releaving answer on the site today.

It remains uncertain, however, which city will be hosting the parade this year. The other year it has been hosted by Charleroi. The year before that, the parade was hosted by Luik. Both cities are located in the French speaking part of Belgium. So, as tradition prescribes, it should be hosted by a city in Flanders.
I don't care really. For the past six years it has always been fun, fun, fun.
Be there!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

So we got pregnant

The title says it all. Below is an ultrasound taken march 25th.

As you can see, we're expecting twins ;)
The babies are due near september 8th. I'll keep you posted ...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Getting synchronized

I'm sure many of you have encountered the same problem I was facing. I have a portable provided by my employer, but the employer does not provide any means of making backups of this portable. I know, he should, but hey, nobody's perfect.
In the past 6 years I've been working for several clients, gathering a lot of data (code, documents, presentations, you name it). The past 2 years I've been doing some Biztalk work as well, working with virtual machines. Using virtual machines is ideal when doing Biztalk work. No need to pollute your perfectly running portable with Biztalk Server 2004 and visual studio. Working with virtual machines also enables me to work with different versions of Biztalk Server.
An unpleasant side effect of using virtual machines is that they tend to take a lot of space on your hard drive and you'll need at least 1,5 GB of memory in your machine.
As a result, I gathered 30 GB worth of data and virtual machines and I wanted to synchronize this with my recently purchased My Book. In the past years I've used several "free" tools for this (robocopy, rsync, ...) but none of them were satisfiable. Today I came across DSynchronize. This small, free tool has no problems with sync'ing my portable's hard drive with an external drive. And it is doing it fast as well.
I love it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Creating multithreaded tests for JUnit

Sometimes (I hope) you discover code you've written that was not as thread safe as you thought it was. Testing this can be quite a painful experience. I just found this article on Java World describing ways to create JUnit tests in a multithreaded environment. Looking at the date it was published, the article is quite old, so I was wondering if maybe there are better techniques than those described in the article.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Remove copy protection from PDF documents

This is probably illegal, so use it at your own risk.
Some PDFs on the internet have a copy protection to make sure you cannot copy-paste any content from the PDF into a document you're writing. To circumvent this protection there are several tools available on the internet. I haven't tried any of them, because they're not free ;)
There is however a procedure that will enable you to circumvent the copy protection using free tools. The trick is to convert the PDF to a PS (PostScript) document first and then convert it back into a PDF.
So, download Ghostview en Ghostscript from: http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/.
Next, open your PDF in Ghostview.
Next, from the "File" menu, select "Convert" (a dialog will pop up)
Press "Ok"
Fill in the name of the "converted" file.
Press "Save"
Tada, you can now copy content from your newly created PDF ;)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Don't be a dumb-ass, get Mule

For those of you not familiar with ESB, where have you been the past years ;)
For those of you not familiar with Mule, please point your browser to http://www.getmule.com. The following is taken verbatim from one of the Mule despots on the mule-user mailing list:
Included are different ways that those not already in the Mule community can learn more -- including a flash movie with Ross Mason talking about basic Mule design principles, a RedMonk (IT analyst firm) survey on open source ESBs, and even a quick integration survey that they can take (in exchange for a Mule t-shirt).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sun ships Solaris 10 DVDs ... for free!

For those of you interested in exploring the goodies of Sun OS, Sun is shipping DVDs for free. I came across this link _after_ downloading the whole CD set. Bummer :(
I needed the CDs anyway because my Enterprise 450 does not have a DVD reader. Below are some images from Sun's site ... in case you're interested how this machine looks like.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Willy's en Marjetten moet blijven

Voor de Belgen onder ons die het jammer vinden dat Willy's en Marjetten vroegtijdig werd afgevoerd wegens te weinig kijkcijfers. Teken hier en dan bent u okidokipianissimoki ;)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Fix Your Own Printer

I own 2 laserjet printers. One old LJ 1100 and another very old LJ 5L. The first one was priced over 400€ when I bought it 7 years ago. The 5L was "donated" since it was suffering the famous paper jam problem. After 7 years of usage, the 1100 was suffering the paper jam problem as well. You can find a lot of people on different forums describing the same problem. It seems that there was a time that HP was replacing the separation pad and pickup roller (which are the components causing this problem) of the LJ 1100 for free. Those times are gone :(
So I surfed to http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/kits/hp and ordered:
  • 1 HP LaserJet 5L/6L Multiple-Sheet/No Feed Paper Jam Repair Kit
  • 1 HP LaserJet 1100 Multiple Sheet Feed Paper Jam Repair Kit
The 2 kits arrived the other day and I was very keen fixing both printers (even though I only need one).
The kit for the 5L comes with a new separation pad (whole assembly) and a new pickup roller. It also includes a video (on CD) showing how to replace the old parts. Very cool and easy to follow.

The kit for the 1100 comes with some instructions and pictures on a sheet of paper and a new separation pad which is only a rubber sticker. If you follow the instructions you will find it very hard to replace the separation pad. It's easier to disassemble the whole thing following these instructions I found somewhere on some forum:
  1. Open the printer cover and remove the Toner cartridge.
  2. Remove the two screws holding the Pick Up Roller assembly. Slide it to the right to take it out. Replace Pick Up Roller with a new one. Please pay attention to the orientation of the Pick Up roller and set it aside.
  3. Remove the two screws at the back of the printer.
  4. Open the little back door at the bottom on the back. Remove that screw too.
  5. Open the front door and remove the two screws on the top.
  6. Remove the two side stand pieces. Use a screw driver to push the two latches out to remove them.
  7. Unlatch the back cover from the two latches on each side and lift it upward to remove it.
  8. Pull the paper guide upward to remove it.
  9. Use a small flathead screw driver and gently slide the Left side of the kick plate out to loose it out.
  10. Lift the kick plate up till you could remove it.
  11. Unlatch the separation pad clip from the back and lift it up.
  12. Replace it with the new one.
  13. Do everything in reverse order.
Whilst disassembling and assembling I used the vacuum cleaner and a wet cloth to do some internal cleaning.
Whatever you do, and this applies for both kits, take your time, don't rush things or you might break something or miss a part.
Anyway, both kits fixed the paper jam problem.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Move to new version of Blogger

So I decided to upgrade my blog to the latest version of Blogger. As you can see, the template changed. Nothing fancy though ;)
Hope you like it (should there be anyone out ther reading this blog).