Saturday, December 31, 2005

Server hosting


We have put an offer on another house.  I am trying to figure out what to do about my server.  We currently host our mail server and web server at our house.  When we sell our house, and move in to the new house, I am thinking that there will be some time before we have the phone line and DSL installed.  So I am trying to think of what  to do about these servers.  I was thinking that there are three options.


  1. Turn off the servers for the duration of the transition.

  2. Move the server to a co-location facility

  3. Move only the mail and web server to a VPS



Sereniti Home Networking


Product GatewayI saw a review of Sereniti Home Networking in the January 2006 Popular Mechanics.  From the brief review, it looks like it is a standard broadband router, but they also charge users a monthly or yearly fee to keep the rules up to date.


The description of many of the security features looks like it depends on some software running on the PCs on the local network.  Since it seems that all of this functionality is pretty standard, I wonder if they are just licensing some others companies software suite.


Friday, December 30, 2005

BetterSearch


I just installed the BetterSearch Firefox pluginextension.  This is a pretty cool pluginextension, that enhances the results page from various search engines.  Some of the features are:


  1. Displaying a small preview image of the page in the search results page.

  2. Adding a "Open in new Window" link

  3. And a "Wayback Machine" link


The one feature that I think is most interesting is the "Quick Preview" feature.  This will show you the page in an iframe of the search results page.


[via Razvan Antonescu]


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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Blog Mad


Blog Mad is a new way to get traffic to your blog.  It sounds like it will be similar to BlogExplosion where you can surf other blogs or play games to earn credits to increase the traffic for your blog.


Right now they are taking pre-launch signups for this, where they are giving credits for referrals and just signing up.



BlogMad!


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V Cast Video


VcastSince I enabled V Cast on my phone, so I don't have to pay for data access when I use my phone as a bluetooth modem, I wanted to check out what content was available with V Cast.  In their video selection, they have clips from several different news networks.  Also they have some clips from The Daily Show.  Our kids love the clips from Sesame Street.


I did find a "bug"  if you use a bluetooth headset, you can not get the audio played through the headset.  It will only play through the internal speaker.  I have not tried a wired headset.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

OGMT


In this post, I mentioned a java application that would create a audio profile of your iTunes.  OGMT (OmniGraffle Musical Taste) is an applescript that will create a OmniGraffle document that represnt your musical taste.


Here is the the image from my iTunes library


Ogmt


[via TUAW]


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Monday, December 26, 2005

Weblog API Primer


This post has a great description on the different XML-RPC APIs available for posting to blogging systems.


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Classic in .Mac


Installing the games on the kid's computer this weekend was the first time that I had to run Classic in a long time.  Since on all of other computers, I had deleted the Mac OS 9 system folder, I had to go and find one of my old Mac OS 9 CDs. 


This was a pain, as I hadn't used these CDs in several years, so it took me a while to find them.  Also when I did find them, it was a pain to install it as I had to reboot the computer while booted from the CD and do a clean install.


I think that Apple should make a disk image available to their .Mac subscribers.  This disk image would contain a Mac OS 9 system folder.  It would only need to contain enough to allow Classic to run, but wouldn't need to be able to boot a computer.  This could be another benefit of being a .Mac subscriber, and to justify the $99/year cost.


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Simple Finder


When I set up the iMac for our kids, I wanted to use Simple Finder, to make it easier for the kids to use the computer.  (And hopefully will prevent them from changing the configuration.)  I noticed some interesting behavior.


  1. In Simple Finder Mode, you can not add items to the Dock.  There is a Folder that is in the Dock named "My Applications" that contain aliases to the applications that the user has permission to run.

  2. I wasn't able to give the user access to more than one of these AppleScript applications.  I assume that this is caused because the application have the same creator code, and the preference screen is remember this, and not the location of the application.


I ended up just using a normal mode and added the AppleScripts to the Dock.  I then disabled modification of the Dock.


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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Playing games without CDs


Our kids got a refurbished iMac for Christmas.  I also got them Didi & Ditto and a Reader Rabbit game. Both of these games require the CD to be mounted for them to be played.


I didn't want to have to deal with CDs, as it always seems that CDs that the kids have access to end up getting scratched.  So I created disk images from each of these CDs, and put them in a place where all users can have access to.  Then I wanted to make sure that when the applications are launched the disk images were mounted. 


Address-O-Sync


I have noticed some interesting things in address-o-sync.


  1. Nowhere in their documentation does it list the port that needs to be added to the firewall to allow incoming connections.  (I believe that port number 9879 is used)

  2. Only up to 4 email address for a contact get synchronized between computers.  I wonder if this is caused because Apple's implementation of vcard only handles 4 email addresses.  It looks like the vcard spec itself, doesn't have that limitation


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Bug with Sharing Address Books


A couple of days ago, I noticed that in both my and my wife's address book, all of the groups in Address Book had disapeared.  It looks like this was caused by the Address Book sharing that I had enabled.


When I restored the data to a version that had the groups, as soon as the sharing process ran the groups got removed.  This probably happened because I had marked this sharing to accept changes from the invitees.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Writely


Writely is a online web Word Processor.  It looks like it is a nice wrapper around a wiki system.


I do have concern about the security of these documents.  All of these documents are stored on their server.  I do wonder what their business plan is.  How are they going to make money from these documents?


[via TUAW]


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Performancing blog editor


I saw this post that mentions the Performancing for Firefox blog editor plugin.  With this plugin, you can post to your blog directly from Firefox.


I installed, this and like the idea, but I am currently going to stick with ecto to do my posting.  One problem is that their implementation of the metaWeblog API does not handle categories.


[via Om Malik on Broadband]


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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Free iTunes TV show downloads


MacRumors.com has a post that links to two free iTunes TV show downloads.  One is a Saturday Night Live short, the other is a Sci Fi channel special on Battlestar Galactica.


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DRBD


I have been hearing about DRBD a while as a way to add redundancy for a server.  DRDB is a block device that can be mirrored across a network.  This is very similar to a network RAID-1.


I have been thinking about doing this for one of the databases that I use.  I could set up two machines that run mysql.  Only one machine at at time would be writing to the database and the file system, but both machines would have access to the files.  When one of the machines go down, the other automatically takes over.


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Spam filtering in Apple Mail


I have been noticing that Apple Mail has been marking valid mail as spam pretty often, and it doesn't seem to be improving when I train with these mistaken spam messages. 


I had been thinking that Apple's Mail was using bayesian analysis to determine the spam messages.  But I just found out that Mail uses Latent Semantics analysis for spam filtering.  This post has a great description and comparison of Latent Semantics and Bayesian Net.


[via Stephen Hebditch's blog]


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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wireless failure on WRT54GS


The wireless access point in our Linksys WRT54GS stopped working.  The wired router still is working fine.  I switched the Airport Express from using WDS to directly connecting it to the router.


This makes me think that it is better to use a seperate wireless access point and router, instead of integrated one.  In addition to being able handle a failure in one of these pieces, it will allow easier upgrading to new wireless or wired protocols when they are available.


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Annoyance in Delicious Library


I really like using Delicious Library.  It is a pretty cool program to keep track of my DVDs CDs and books.  One feature is that you can "check-out" items to people in your Address Book.  By default it schedules a "check-in" date for a week.


If the item is not checked-in by the specified date, it considers it overdue.  After a certain amount of time the item is automatically checked in.



USB extension cable for PS2 headset


A couple of weeks ago, I bought some extension cables to allow me to play SOCOM 3 while sitting on the couch instead of sitting on the floor.  The extension cable for the controller worked perfectly.  The problem I had was with the extension cable for the headset.


The headset connects to the PS2 through the USB port.  I bought a standard USB 2.0 extension cable.  When I connected the cable, the headset wasn't recognized by SOCOM 3.  I think that the headset is just using USB 1.1.  I would assume that you could use a USB 2.0 cable for USB 1.1 devices.


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url encode string


Here is an easy way to url encode a string


In python:



import urllib;
urllib.quote("string to encode");


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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bluetooth Car Headunit


Jenmp8610Bt-1rjpierson commented in this post about how Jensen has come out with a head unit that supports the bluetooth handsfree profile.  The Jensen MP8610BT is a MP3/WMA/CD receiver that has bluetooth so you can talk on your cell phone handsfree.  I assume it will automatically mute the audio when you talk on the phone.


I was really interested in getting one of these for our Sentra.  When I was looking for more information on it, I saw that the major electronics manufacturers are planning on adding bluetooth support to their head units.  I assume that they will be announcing these at CES.  The main thing that I want is a head unit that has built-in bluetooth and is satellite radio ready, so I think that I will wait for their announcements.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Zoë


I just tried Zoë for a little bit.  It is an interesting email client.  It is a java application that runs in the background.  It provides a web interface to you email.  You enter the information for each of your email accounts an it will download the messages.  It can also keep the messages on the server, so you can continue to use your normal email client.


One thing that it does is that it indexes all of you email.  It povides an index of all email addresses, mailing lists, attachements, and urls.  And there is a search field that lets you find emails by keyword.



Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Get S.M.A.R.T status via email


This post describes a script that will send an email with the S.M.A.R.T. and RAID status for the drive connected to a Mac OS X computer.


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sendEmail


SendEmail is a command line email client written in perl.  This make it very easy to send email from scripts or other programs.


The benefit of calling SendEmail rather than calling mail, is that Postfix or Sendmail doesn't have to be configured, or even installed, on the machine.


[via TinyApps.org]


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Feed2Podcast


This is pretty cool.  Feed2Podcast is a site that will take an rss feed and, using text to speech, creates a podcast.


Here is a link to the podcast feed for this blog.


[via TUAW]


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Effectivness of Validate Trackbacks plugin


I added logging to the Validate Trackback LifeType plugin.  I was curious about how many trackbacks were caught by the ip dnsbl checks, url dnsbl checks, checking to see if there was a resulting trackback ping url, or the Bayesian filter.


From December 2nd to today:


5808 trackbacks were stopped because the resulting pages do not have a trackback ping url.

2830 trackbacks were stopped becuase the ip address was listed in a dns blacklist

16 trackbacks were stopped because the domain of the trackback url was listed in a dns blacklist


It looks like all of the trackbacks were caught before the Bayesian filter had to be run.


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Monday, December 12, 2005

Google AdSense and flash ads


Since I have enabled Flashblock, I noticed something really interesting.  I noticed that one of the Google AdSense that appears on this blog had the Flashblock icon.


It looks like Google is experimenting with Flash ads.  The interesting thing is that their AdSense settings don't specify this type of ad.


Flasblockadsense    Adsense


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Holiday channels on XM

logo_xmradio.jpg
XM is broadcasting holiday music on 5 channels. Sometimes when I am in the mood, I like to listen to these. The interesting thing is that they have replaced 5 normal broadcast channels with these holiday channels.



The new channels appear at the channel numbers that the replaced channels, in addition to a position in the 103-107 range. I wonder if they just replace existing channels, and not added the new channels, because they didn't have enough staff to program for all of the channels. I think more likely, XM is running out of available bandwidth to add additional channels.


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Flashblock


I get really annoyed when I open a page in a different tab in Firefox, and suddenly my CPU usage goes way up.  Usually there is a flash animation running in the background.


Flashblock is a Firefox extension that causes all flash animations not to run automatically.  You have to explicitly click on an icon to start the animation.  Flashblock has just been updated to support Firefox 1.5.


[via ExtraBITS]


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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Blogger and splogs


When I run a search on Google Blog Search, for blogs that link to this blog, 6 of the 8 results are splogs.  It appears that these pages has a snippets of the text from this blog and links directly here.  They all are using Adsense ads, to make money.


The interesting thing is that 4 of the 6 are hosted with Google's Blogger service.  I would think that Google wouldn't want to host these sites.  But then again, they do get money if people click on those ads.


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Friday, December 9, 2005

Sharing Address books


I finally got the sharing of our Address Books working.  I was assuming that once you accessed a shared address book, you could drag a card from the shared address book, into one of the local groups.  Then when it is updated remotely, the updates would automatically appear.


This is not the case.  When you drag a card from a remote address book, it makes a copy of it locally.  This means that updates don't happen automatically.


Responsibility of broadcasters


Do television broadcasters have any responsibility to keep a quality of service for their viewing public?  And when there is something that would affect this quality, do they have to notify the viewers?


Ever since we have gotten our HDTV, we have noticed when the broadcasters do something to their towers.  For example, our NBC station is having a problem with their transmitter.  Interference with digital signals is more noticeable than analog signals.


movabletype API


I have been thinking about implementing the MovableType xmlrpc API for LifeType.  I have been getting a little annoyed with the metaWeblog api, since it doesn't have seperate fields for the main text and the "more" text.  LifeType works arounds this limitation currently by using a special string to indicate the different text fields.


It is pretty easy to implement the newPost API, as the client just has to set the additional fields.  On the server, if the fields are set, it knows that it is a MovableType client, and not a metaWeblog client.


XCode and documentation


A couple of days ago, I was writing some java code.  I wanted to be a "good" developer, and document my code.  I decided to use javadoc format comments, as this is the standard for java code.


Since I was doing this on my Mac, I decided to use Xcode to do the development.  Once I got the code written and compiling, I figured I could add a new target to the project that would create the javadoc.


Thursday, December 8, 2005

WinShortcutter


WinshortcutterAt work people send out links to files on windows shares.  When I receive those on my mac, I need to convert this to a smb url, so the server can be mounted in the Finder.


WinShortcutter is an application and a service that automatically converts these urls and mounts the servers.  In addition, it optionally will create an alias for that server.


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Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Installed new springs


Last week, I had new springs installed into our Nissan Sentra.  I decided to go with the Eibach Pro Kit Lowering Springs, which only lowered the front and rear by 1.2".


I like the way the car drives now.  The only problem that I had was to train my expectation of where the location of the seats are. I will take a picture when I get a chance.


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iTunes Signature


iTunes Signature Maker is an interesting java applet. It creates a "signature" music file from your iTunes library. It takes snippets of your favorite tracks, and puts them together in a single track.


Here is my signature file.



[via TUAW]


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Monday, December 5, 2005

Another benefit for Google Analytics


I was looking at my Google Analytics stats, and I just though of another benefit for Google to do this.  Since Google Analytics will get information about referrer for any site that has the Analytics script embedded in the pages, Google could increase the number of sites that get crawled.


For example, site X is not being crawled by Google, because it has not been submitted to Google, or it there are no links (that Google crawls) to it.  Site X links to site Y, which has the Google Analytics script embedded.  When a user clicks on the link from site X to Site Y, now Google will know to crawl site X.


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Google to replace Technorati?


I can envision that Google could replace Technorati as authority for blog referrals.  I haven't found a good way to get the results that I expect.


For example, in the main Google page, you can do a search "link:www.paulstimesink.com -site:www.paulstimesink.com".  This will return a list of all pages that link to pages in this blog, but not including any pages in the blog itself.


The problem with using the main Google search is that results are not limited to blogs.  And Google doesn't itself provide rss feeds for the results.


Saturday, December 3, 2005

Google Maps in Address Book


I guess I have had a pretty old version of this plugin installed.  The latest version of the Google Maps Address Book plugin will, in addition to showing a map of an address, will also show driving directions between two address.  The plugin lets you select a address, if a given card has multiple addresses.


[via Hawk Wings]


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GoogleFill


GoogeFill is a plugin for Address Book that will automatically retreive an address from a phone number, and put it into the Address Book card.


[via Hawk Wings]


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iwconfig for Mac OS X


This post mentions the airport command line tool.  This lets you see the signal strength of the currently connected 802.11 network.


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Wireless network access


As we have been traveling to the Palm Springs are about once a month as my wife's grandfather goes through cancer treatment, we have been staying in condos in the area.  The condos allow us to have a "regular" schedule for the kids bed time.


One thing about condos compared to hotel room, is that they don't tend to offer "high speed" internet access.  Since I want to be able to continue to work while there, I was looking into ways that I could high speed access.


Friday, December 2, 2005

Still problems with Vonage


I thought that I had fixed the problems with my Vonage phone line.  The same problems happened again today. 


I moved the Vonage ATA to the outside of my firewall.  I gave the ATA it's own public static ip address.  When I did this, everything works fine.  I think that there is some other port that needs to be opened for incoming connections, that is not specified in this document.


Thursday, December 1, 2005

foXpose


This is pretty cool.  foXpose is a Firefox 1.5 extension that gives you an eXposé-like view into the open tabs that you have in your browser.  It will work on all platforms.  The key command to activate this extension is ctrl + shift + x ( cmd + shift + X on the Mac )


[via TUAW]


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Linux Linksys router


Linksys has create the 5th version of their WRT54GS router.  This version runs VxWorks instead of Linux.  So it will be a lot harder to install Open Source firmware on it.


But to allow hobbyists to continue to hack on these device, Linksys has released the WRT54GL.  This is the same as version 4 of the WRT54GS.


Problem receiving calls


Today we had a problem receiving calls on our Vonage line.  I called their Customer support, and they solved the problem.  There were two things that they did.


  1. Added more ports to be forwarded to the Vonage ATA. (Here is a page that has the ports listed)

  2. Had me disable and re-enable the Voice Mail.  The person that I talked to said that there are some scripts that run when Voice Mail is enabled.


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New features in Firefox 1.5


I just used some of the new features in Firefox 1.5


  1. You can change the ordering of the tabs just by drag-and-dropping them.

  2. It handles refused connections to web servers differently.  Instead of just showing a dialog, it renders the error in the main html window.  I have included a screen shot of this.