Thursday, August 31, 2006


XcastXcast is a great podcatcher for Mac OS X.  With the best iTunes integration that I have seen.  Instead of just adding the downloaded content to a playlist, Xcast adds the tracks to iTunes, in the Podcast section, under the correct podcast entry.  This allows an it to appear on the iPod in the Podcast section of the UI.

The developer has created a screencast of Xcast, that really shows how well integrated this is with iTunes.

Now, I have told iTunes not to download podcasts, but will do it from Xcast.

[via TUAW]

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Google Reader suggestions

I have been using Google Reader a little bit, and there are some things that I would love to see. (I have sent this feedback to Google Labs, but I wanted to post it here so if some Googler had extra 20% time)

  1. Personal url for the mobile version of the interface.  Google already does this for rss feeds of "starred" items in Google Reader, and for sharing calendars in Google Calendar.  This will make it easier view on a cell phone, where if may be hard to keep entering email address and password.

  2. Provide a way, on the regular and mobile version, to mark the posts that are in the current view as read.

  3. Be able to only have certain rss feeds appear in the mobile view.  For example, there isn't any reason to show podcast on a cell phone.

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Akismet effectiveness

I have been using the Akismet plugin for LifeType for a while, and I have been pretty impressed.  It has worked well  enough for me to disable the captcha plugin for comments. 

I also modified the plugin to call the akismet service for trackbacks.  I found that it didn't block all of the spam trackbacks.  I re-enabled the Validate Trackbacks plugin and this has blocked all spam trackbacks.

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A while ago, I mentioned how I was going to try since I was getting spurious downtime messages from SiteUptime, even though the servers are up.  For the past few days, I have been getting downtime notifications from, event though the servers are up.  I think that the are having networking problems.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

using wget

This page has some great examples of using wget.

[via digg]

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disabled QoS

I had been noticing we haven't been getting as much bandwidth, as I was expecting from our Cable Modem connection.  Out of curiosity, I turned off the QoS setting that I talked about before, and our download speed went from 3000kbs to 6500kbs.

I tried adjusting the settings, but I wasn't able to get it working well.  I don't really want to spend the time now to upgrade to a later version of the sveasoft software or try OpenWRT, so I am just going to leave QoS turned off.  This isn't a big deal, since we don't run a server at home or use VoIP any more.

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Akismet for LifeType

Today I saw a few posts that mentioned Akismet.  This is a service to help stop blog comment and trackback spams.  The contents of each comment is sent to Akismet's servers in an HTTP POST request and then the response is whether Akismet considers the comment spam.

Akismet started out as a WordPress plugin, and it has been ported to several other blogging systems.  I have ported it to LifeType.  This was pretty easy, especially with Bret Kuhns' Akismet php class.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Amazon EC2

I just finally got around to checking out Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud).  This service, that is currently in limited beta, looks very interesting. 

Essentially what Amazon is offering is a Virtual Dedicated Server on top of their S3 storage service.  This service seems like it could be an option for someone who is looking at a dedicated server.  The prices are competive.  (If you assume no data is transmitted or received, running one of these server instances would cost $72/month. the rate for data transfer is $0.20 per GB.)

more ssh tunnels

Here is a page that describes how to use ssh tunnels to get through firewalls.  This goes in to more detail than the previous page that I mentioned.

[via digg]

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Friday, August 25, 2006


I have been using mytop for a while, and it is a great way to view the queries running on a MySQL database installation.  It provides this information with a "top" like interface.

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pyzor patches

This wiki page describes some patches for Pyzor 0.4.0 that fix some bugs.

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A while ago, I wrote about the ocrtext SpamAssassin plugin.  There is a version of this plugin that is still in active development.  The FuzzyOCR plugin is very similar to the older text plugin,  but instead of using regular expressions to handle the inaccuracies of OCR, it uses String::Approx to do the fuzzy matching.

This wiki page has some pretty good steps on setting this plugin up.

Also see:

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

wp-ecto Plugin

I saw this post about the wp-ecto WordPress plugin, and I though that it was a pretty neat idea.  This plugin adds a icon similar to the social bookmarking links that appear on blog post.  But instead of navigating to a social bookmarking site, it launches ecto and creates a new post and fills in the title and url.

This inspired me to add this functionality to the sociable plugin for LifeType.

[via TUAW]

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Attachment Scanner Plugin

Have you ever sent an email intending to attach a file, but forgot to actually include the document.  The Attachment Scanner Plugin will help to solve this problem.  When you press Send, it scans the message to see if you mention a file or an attachment, and didn't actually attach the file, and will present a dialog warning you.

Attachement Scanner

[via TUAW]

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MailTags 2.0

mailTagsIcon.jpg A while ago, I wrote about MailTags.  At that point it didn't work with IMAP accounts, so I couldn't use it.  MailTags 2.0 is now in public beta, which adds IMAP support.  It adds "X-MailTags" headers to the messages to keep the tag information.

I am hoping that I can use this to help keep track of the emails that I currently just "Mark As Flagged", for software that I need to upgrade, or other things that I need to be reminded of.

[via Hawk Wings]

Technorati Tags: Apple Mail, IMAP, MailTags

OCR for SpamAssassin

I have been getting pretty annoyed with the image spam that has been getting through my mail filters.  These are some interesting emails.  They generally include an image of some text at the top of the email, and then a bunch of random text (In one case, the text was related to resumé writing and English as a second language)

I saw this page that describes how to setup an optical character recognition (OCR) SpamAssassin plugin to help identify these spam messages.  This plugin uses gocr uses as the OCR engine.  I have set this up, and will see how well it stops these messages from getting through.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006


I needed to upload a bunch of photos from vacation to our web gallery.  Normally I would export the files from iPhoto to the desktop, and then upload them ti Gallery through the web interface.  This would take to long for over 100 photos.

I reinstalled iPhotoToGallery, and it worked very well.  (Unfortunately with our broadband upload speed, it is taking  while.)

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I mentioned before that I was unhappy with SiteUptime.  I got a comment suggesting is a free site, by Sourcio, that offers monitoring services.  It has a neat Ajax interface that is pretty easy to use. 

I am not sure how they are planning on making money.

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blogging from within digg

I just noticed a feature of digg.  You can post on articles on digg directly to you blog from within the digg site.

There are some problems with their implementation.  The interface to configure the metaWeblog settings, do not all allow spcifying the blog ID, which is required for he metaWeblog API.  Also, the blogging interface doesn't allow categories to be specified.

Digg Card

Digg Card is an interesting site where you can create your digg profile that you can post on your website. 

One thing that will make this easier to use is if a Javascript is provided to embed this on a site.

[via digg]

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Asus WL-700gE

979 LRemember when WiFi base stations were just wireless base stations?  The Asus WL-700gE WiFi router is more than just a base station.  I has a built in 160GB drive, a iTunes client (daap, I assume), and a BitTorrent client, that can download directly to the device.  Also if another drive is connected, it can be configured as a RAID.

The product web page states

iPod Users can Manage Music Stored in the WL-700gE with the iTunes Interface

I wonder how this works.  Normally iPods will only sync with local files, and not with files through the daap protocol.  Maybe if you connect an iPod directly to the WL-700gE with USB, you can go to a web interface to select files to be transferred to the iPod.

[via Gizmodo]

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There is yet another way to visualize web pages.  WEB2DNA will take an html page, and analyze the tags and spit it out a image that looks like a graphic representation of human DNA.

Here is the one for this site:

Paulstimesink Dna

[via Download Squad]

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web crawlers and JavaScript

Many web pages use JavaScript to modify the content of the page.  The effects of the javascript can be seen by anyone who has JavaScript enabled in their browser.  But most web crawlers do not interpret and run the scripts when crawling pages.  This is a problem when this content is intended to be seen by the web crawlers.

For example, BlogRolling is a site that lets you store links.  Then you can insert a JavaScript into your web page to display a blogroll.  One use of these blog roll sites is to link to other sites that you find interesting.  Ideally these links would help affect the Google PageRank or the Technorati rank.  But, it appears these crawlers are not intepreting JavaScript, so they are not picking up these links.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Mac mini and HDMI switcher

The HDMI switch has worked out very well for switching between our DIRECTV HD DVR and the Mac mini.  There has only been one problem.  If the Mac mini boots when the HDMI switch is set to the DVR input, the Mac mini can not sense the display, so it defaults to a low resolution that can't drive our TV.  Putting the Mac to sleep and waking it back up, while the switcher is switched to that input, fixes the problem.

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Yesterday, I have my first chance to use the softwareupdate command line tool.  I didn't want to use VNC to run Software Update on the Mac mini.  The softwareupdate command line tool allows you to do everything that you can from the UI.  (This was added after I left Apple, after working on Software Update.)

One problem is that some of the installers are not written well.  If you run an update for iTunes, while iTunes is running, a dialog appears informing you that iTunes needs to be quit.  Unfortunately, this also appears when running this from the command line tool.  This script should be changed to present the prompt on what ever interface launched the update.

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NetNewsWire referrers

I subscribe to several rss feeds to track incoming links, on sites like Technorati, Talk Digger, Google Blog Search  and Daypop.  Sometimes these feeds will contain one of my posts.  When I view these posts in NetNewsWire, the linked images do not appear.

From looking at my logs, I found out why.  I have a mod_rewrite rule that denies http requests for images when a referrer is specified, and it is not from this domain.  It appears that NetNewsWire uses the domain that the rss feed originated from as the referrer for all links.  I actually think that this is a good thing, as content providers can still tell where their content is linked from.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Google Reader for phone

I mentioned one feature that NewsGator Mobile was missing was the ability to flag articles to be read later.  Today I saw this post that mentions the "portable" version of Google Reader.  Not only can you "star" posts from you phone, but it appears that Google formats the text and images to work on a phone

There are a few things that I would love to see:

  1. Be able to mark the 9 listed posts on a page as read at once.

  2. Have a way to export/import the list of read and unread posts so you can read posts with either Google Reader or with a desktop aggregator, without having to read the same article twice.

One interesting thing is that the page that lists all of Google's Products doesn't list Google Reader in the mobile feature list.

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I have noticed that the browser on my Motorola E815 doesn't handle large web pages well.  Usually an out of memory error would occur, especially when there are large images.  So I wanted to find a proxy that would format web pages for the phone.

One of proxies that I found is PHONifier.  This is a simple php script that makes web pages simpler for displaying on the phone.  Unfortunately, it doesn't resize images, it does have an option to block all images.

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Monday, August 7, 2006

USB EVDO adapter

Cdu550-2Franklin Wireless has announced that later this month they will release a USB EVDO  adapter.  This will supposedly make it easier to connect to these networks on systems that either don't have PCMCIA slots or don't have the drivers that support these cards.

Hopefully, they will make Mac drivers available, or make this device support a standard USB networking profile.

[via Slashdot]

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We have continued to have problems with our wireless network.  Our reception was pretty bad in our living room.  It probably didn't help that out Airport Express was behind the metal boxes of electro-magnatism of our A/V equipment.  So my goal was to move the base station somewhere where there wouldn't be interference, but also out of reach of the kids.  Unfortunately, those places weren't near an ethernet drop. 

So I am trying WDS again, with the base station above the kitchen counter.  Hopefully this will improve the signal strength downstairs.

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

NewsGator Mobile

In April, I mentioned that NetNewsWire added support for syncing feeds with NewsGator.  This allows you to read a post with with either NetNewsWire, or NewsGator, and have the read status reflected with the other.

NewsGator has a view of the feeds that is meant for use on mobile devices.  NewsGator Mobile works pretty well on my cell phone.  There is one thing that I would love to see added.  I would like to be able to mark posts so they can be read later with a more capable interface.

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logwatch and multiple virtual hosts

The output from the logwatch run has only been including the results from one of our Virtual Hosts.  The fix was very easy.  In /etc/log.d/conf/logfiles/http.conf, modified the following lines to:

LogFile = httpd/*access_log

Archive = archiv/httpd/*access_log.*

Archive = archiv/httpd/*access_log.*.gz

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Cache Discovery Protocol

BitTorrent has just released version 4.20 of their client and protocol.  This version includes Cache Discovery Protocol.  This protocol allows ISP to cache frequently requested file, and then clients on their network would prefer these caches, instead of the standard client seeds.

This will potentially save the ISPs external bandwidth, as most traffic will stay on their internal network.  But I don't know if most ISPs will do this, or if they will just attempt to block this traffic.  Also, once the clients are connecting with the ISP's cache, there will be a centralized place where the information about what files have been downloaded by each client.  This will make it easier for the RIAA or the MPAA to subpoena these records.

[via digg]

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scale Mac OS X applications

This Macworld article describes a hidden setting that lets you scale the ui elements of the the whole system or just a single application.  For example, this allows the iTunes mini controller take up less screen real estate.

[via digg]

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Friday, August 4, 2006


DooginDoodim is a little Mac OS X application that makes it easy to obscure all background applications.  This is supposed to allow you to focus on the foreground application.  The effect is very similar to Mac OS X's Exposé.

[via TUAW]

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FenĂȘtres Volantes

FenetresThis post mentions 10 Max OS X screen savers.  The one listed at #1 is pretty cool.  Fenêtres Volantes is a screen saver that make your windows float around the screen.

[via Download Squad]

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iPod update

I mentioned before how I was having problems syncing content to my iPod.  It appears that restoring to factory settings has fixed the problem.  I will keep my eye on this, and if it happens again, I may take it to the Apple Store.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2006

LifeType 1.1 beta-1

About a week ago, the LifeType team released beta 1 of LifeType.  There have been a lot of improvements since the 1.0 release, including disk-based caching and reduced memory usage.  This version has worked very well for me.

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Another great error message

This morning I started to get this error message when trying to sync music to my iPod

Ipod Error

I assume that there is a bad sector on the drive.  I am attempting to restore to factory, and am hoping that the bad blocks will be marked.

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I saw this post mentioning the Xploder HDTV PS2 Upgrade.  Supposedly, this will allow you to play your PS2 games in Enhanced Definition (480p), HD (720p or 1080i) or VGA.  I am not sure this will work.  The post mentions that it is a device, and comes with component cables.  Also it sounds like there is some software that needs to be installed on the PS2.  This makes it seem that this will connect to the expansion port of the PS2 (This implies that it will only work with the original PS2), and that there are component cables and a VGA port on the back.

I don't imagine that this will work that well.  The PS2 and the games written for it can only output up to 480p.  So essentially this is is just a line doubler.  And I don't think that the quality of this line doubler would be better than the line doubler built into most HDTVs.

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