Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I have been doing some php development in emacs.  I have been missing syntax coloring and indenting.  php-mode adds this functionality.

Installing third-party .el files

This blog post has a link to a program to install elisp program from within emacs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Seesmic Desktop on Ubuntu

I mentioned before that I am using Seesmic Desktop as my Twitter client.  The Seesmic Destop client web site states that it is available for Mac and Windows.  Since it is an Adobe Air application, I figured that I could get it to work on my Ubuntu Laptop.

I downloaded the air file, and then ran the  Adobe AIR Application Installer and selected the downloaded file.  The installation worked, and Seesmic Desktop runs perfectly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Subversion in Xcode

This page has a good description of using subversion in Xcode 3.0.  The integration works pretty well.

I have found that it is easiest to add a new Xcode project to the subversion repository manually, instead of letting XCode do it.  I just create the project in Xcode, and then on the command line, I run svn add.  Then from that point on, Xcodes integration works well. 

Google Profile and social networks

Google recently added the abilty for people who have a Google Account to create a "profile".  This is a way for people to create a page that has personal information that could be shown when a search is done for their name.  This allows the user to specify which information should be shown on this page.  So for example, you can include links to your flickr page or Facebook profile.

In addition to specifying information can been seen by everyone, you can also specify "private" information like email address or phone numbers.  Then you can specify which people you know can see this informaion.  This is similar to the way that most social networks work.

The problem that I have is not with the feature, but with Google's various definitions of who friends are and what a profile.  Currently Google Profile uses the list of the contacts in your Google Talk list as "friends".  But this is a seperate list than the "friends" when using Google Friend Connect.  In addition to the different list of friends, Google Friend Connect also has it's own concept of a profile for a user.

I think it would be great if Google consolidated these into a single friends list and a single profile.  Because until then, these things will not take off.

Upgraded to Kubuntu 9.04

I have just finished upgrading my computer to the 9.04 version of Kubuntu (Ubuntu with KDE as the default window manager).  I was looking forward to trying the new notification system and the new versiion of KDE.

I decided to do the upgrade online, instead of downloading the CD, and upgrading from it.  The I started the upgrade at 10pm on Thursday, and at 8am on Friday, the download finally finished.  I assume that the slow download was caused because of the number of people doing the upgrades at the same time.

Once the upgrade pretty much everything worked.  I did have to do a few things to make things work

  • Install  plasma-widget-network-manager with apt-get.  I needed this in order to get KDE to use my wireless network

  • Followed the steps on this page to make sound work well with PulseAudio

  • Reset permissions on /usr/lib/*.  I had done this before, but setting permissions fixes audio for VMware Workstation.

  • Uses this page as an example to reconfigure my trackpad.  It looks like now, trackpads are not configured in xorg.conf but are not configured with hal.  I was able to reapply my old configuration in the new way

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Google Mail / Calendar on iPhone

I have been very happy with the integration with Google Mail and Google Calendar with the iPhone.  Gmail has a good IMAP implementation that works well in the iPhone's mail application.  Google Mobile Sync's Exchange support works well for synchronizing the iPhone's calendars.

The one problem with the integration with the native applications is that the iPhone's applications doesn't support as many features as Google's.  For example, there is no way to send an invite to a meeting to someone else from the iPhone's calendar application.

Google's mobile version of Google Calendar works well on the iPhone.  I can use this to schedule a new meeting, and invite other people, all from the iPhone.  Also, the new version of the mobile Gmail works well as well.  I will not be using these everyday, but when I need a feature that is missing from the iPhone's version of the apps, I will use the web versions.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

PlayOn and vmcPlayIt

I have been wanted to be able to cancel our cable service for a while.  The thing that I have been wating for is a good way to get the TV content available on line on our TV, without having to use the a keyboard and mouse.  (And ideally integrated into Windows Media Center)

PlayOn is sotware that implements a DNLA server.  Instead of leting you play local content, you can use PlayOn to play videos from Hulu, Amazon Video On Demand, Netflix, YouTube and CBS.  With just the PlayOn software you can either brows videos on the services, or access your queue.  Playing video worked perfectly on my Xbox 360, with PlayOn installed on my Media Center.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Undercover for iPhone

A while ago I was interested in Undercover for Mac OS X.  This application is supposed to help you recover a stolen computer.  It connects to their service periodiocally.  If your computer is stolen, you contact the service and then the next time your computer connects to the service, it takes and uploads a picture of what ever is in front of the computer and the service logs the location of the ip address.

It looks like they now have an iPhone application. It pretty much has the same functionality (I don't think it takes the photo though).  The problem that I see with this solution is that it requires that the person to launch the Undercover application in order for the information to be logged to their service.  I don't see people launching random applications if they steal an iPhone.  Most likely, they will wipe it, and get a new SIM card.  This will make Undercover pretty much useless.

Also, in my case, I lock my phone.  So there is no way that the Undercover application will be launched for the service to log the iPhone's location.

Ideally, for this functionality, iPhone would allow applications to run in the background.  Then it wouldn't require that the user launches an application.  Alternatively, this could be a service that the cellular provider would provide

Monday, April 13, 2009

VMWare Workstation Unity

I use VMware Workstation everyday.  I run Windows XP in it for running iTunes for my iPhone and for playing XM Radio online.  Today I tried out VMware's Unity.  This makes the Windows XP windows appear along side the Ubuntu windows. Also when Unity is enable, the KDE task switcher also shows the Windows programs.

I am happily surprised about how well VMware's Unity works.

Stopped using Google Friend Connect for comments

I have stopped using Google Friend Connect  for blog comments.  There are several things that Google could add to make this more usuable

  1. It should be possible to specify a home page when submitting an anonymous comment

  2. It should be possible to configure the wall to not truncate the messages

  3. It should be possible for the user to configure the what happens when a user clicks on their urls for their authenticated comment (link to Google Friend Connect profile, or blog)

  4. Google should, and maybe already do, process the javascript and index the page using the content of the comments.  There could be a unique comment that someone leaves, and if Google doesn't index it, people will not be able to find the comment.

Seesmic Desktop

Seesmic Desktop is a pretty cool twitter client.  It seems to me to be a cross between Twhirl and TweetDeck.  It has a nice UI and it doesn't use that much screen real estate.

I am running this on my Windows XP virtual machine.  I haven't tried to run it on Ubuntu.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Comments switched to Google Friend Connect

As I was thinking about before, I have disabled comments on this blog, and enabled Google Friend Connect for comments.  I am interested in finding out how well this will work.  I am still not requiring authentication for adding comments, in the hope that Google will still do spam filtering.

Playlist mode with USASpec dock

The USASpec adapter was included as part of the iPhone dock install.  The USASpec adapters have several ways of accessing the music on the iPod or iPhone.  You can access the media either by:

  • Direct - where you need to select the music to play on the iPhone/iPod

  • Folder - where you can browse the music collection by Artist or Album

  • Playlist - where you can preselect some number of playlists that will be easily playable on the headunit

I decided to use Playlist mode, as it also offers the ability to play 6 playlist, also "all songs" and a direct mode.  For the six playlist, it looks for playlist named HONDA1 - HONDA6.  If not all six are found, then it will randomly pick other playlists to fill in the missing spots.  If the adapter is connected to the radio through the XM interface, the playlists are accessed by tuning to channels 1-6.  When using CD changer interface, the playlists appear as CDs.

In addition to playing user playlist, number 7 is used to play all tracks.  And number 8 is for direct mode.  (This is the mode that is used if you want to play Pandora.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

TunerFree MCE

As I have mentioned before, one of my eventual goals of switching to Windows Media Center is to stop paying for cable TV. TunerFree MCE is a Windows Media Center plugin that lets you play video content from various web sites.  In the US this content includes Hulu content.

I installed this on my media center, and it worked fine.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to full screen video to work.  When I selected the "full screen" button, the video appear to be scaled incorrectly. 

The video is too small when it is normal size, and since I can make the video full screen, I have uninstalled it.  I will be watching this project, and hopefully use it to help cancel my cable TV service.

Fixed problem with MyMoves for WHS on Extenders

I have been using My Movies for a while now.  I am using the Windows Home Server version.  My Movies for Windows Home server allows you to keep all of your movies on the server, and play them back in Windows Media Center.  This has been working great.  I have been having problems with playing the movies on the Media Center Extenders

The first problem is that the cover art doesn't appear.  Then when attempting to play the movie, an error would appear that the file could not be found.

This thread on the My Movies forum describes the steps needed to fix the thumbnails on the extender.  I found a similar solution that fixed the video files.  I RDP'd into the Home Server and then went into the "Sharing & Security" setting of the share that has the movie files.  In that setting page I made sure that both "Anonymous Users" and "Everyone" has read access to that share.  Once I did that, everything works great.


I have been wanting to get better integration with my iPhone in my car.  Normally I would just connect my iPhone to the line-in jack of my radio.  The problem with this is that, if I want to skip songs, I need to wake the iPhone, enter the password, then select the skip track button.  This is pretty dangerous while trying to drive.  So I have been interested in getting a solution where I can use the controls on my head unit to control playback from the iPhone.  In addition to controling the iPhone, I wanted a solution that would look stock in the car.

2point5 is a company that specialized in custom installs of iPhone and iPods.  They took this experience and now sell docks that are custom made for various cars.  In addition to the docks, they also bundle the needed adapters for the various manufacturers' radios.

I bought the spec.dock package HONFGV2IPKG. This package includes the USASpec PA15-HON2.  This adapter can be connected to either radio's XM or CD changer interface.  When connected to the XM interface, song meta data is shown on the radio's display. Unfortunately, the XM interface doesn't work with the Honda headunit that has navigation, so the CD changer adapter was used.

iPhone3Ginspec.dockin2008CivicSiI like the way the dock fits into the car.  It really looks good.  Also the integration with the radio controls works very well.  I would recommend the spec.dock. Here is an album with some photos of the install.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blog Comments using Google Friend Connect

I am thinking about disabling comments on this blog, but also adding Google Friend Connect's Wall gadget.  This would enable:

  • Offload the spam filtering from my server

  • Reduce the chance of security holes, as less user input would allowed on my server

  • Enable cross site conversations,

  • Enable the users to archive their comments

But there are some downsides to this

  • Requires a browser to have JavaScript enabled to leave a comment

  • Potentially slows the page loads, as requests have to go to additional servers.

  • For posts that already have comments, the comments that had been previously added will not appear the same as the new comments.

Has anyone else done this?  If so, how well does it work?  Or should I just stick to LifeType's internal comments?

Exporting Tags in Windows Live Gallery

Before moving to iPhoto I was using Windows Live Gallery to manage my photos.  One reason that I liked Windows Live Gallery over the older versions of iPhoto is that it had face detection.  This allowed me to identify people in my photos.

Another reason that I liked Windows Live Gallery, is that it has native flickr support.  Since I do use flickr, this reduced the number of tools that were need to handle my photos.

Unfortunately, the integration between Windows Live Gallery's people tagging an flickr support is missing something.  When I usethe flickr web interface, I tag photos with a tag for each person that is in the photo.  Since Windows Live Gallery supports taging photos with the names of the subject people, and arbirtary other tags.  When you upload photos to flickr, the string tags get added as tags on flickr, but no flickr tags get added for the people identified in the photos. It would be great if I can enable Windows Live Gallery to create a flickr tag for every person identified in a photo.

iPhoto '09 has the same features that WIndows Live Gallery had.  Now that I am using it I will tests to see if Apple has implemented the functionality that I have described.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Annoyance with Windows Media Center and WHS Power Pack 2

The recently released Power Pack 2 adds better integration with Windows Media Center to Windows Home Server.  Now you can specify shares to be "Windows Media Center shares", where you don't have to specify permissions or make sure that the Media Center is running as a user that exists on the WHS.

In addition to Music, Videos and Pictures, Power Pack 2 adds the notion of a "Recorded TV" share.  dvr-ms files that are places on this share will automatically appear in the Recorded TV secion of Widows media Center.  I was pretty exicited about this, as this would allow us to archive TV shows and watch them later, but without wasting disk space on the Media Center.  For example, we copied 25 eposides of Six Feet Under to the WHS.

But there appears to be a problem with this integration.  Some time when I look at Windows Media Center, the files that are located in the "Recorded TV"  share on the Home Serve do not appear.  Only the files that are local to the computer will appear.  If I double click on one of the files that reside on the Home Server, on the media center, the it then appears in Media Center UI.

If I reboot the Media Center PC or let it sit for a day or so, the TV shows do come back.  It seems that there is something that is causing the Media Center to loose references to the content that is not local, but something does start a scan for new content.  I need to figure out how I can force that scan.

RSS feeds for KLIV podcasts

I am a fan of KLIV, which is a local radio station in Silicon Valley.  Last year they started offering "podcasts", but didn't have any rss feeds for the shows.  The only way to listen to the shows was to either play the files in a browser or manually download them and add it to your music player. 

I decided to write a perl script that would parse the html of those pages, and generate a rss feed that includes those enclosures.  So far this script works with  most of the podcasts.  I am sure with a little bit of tweaking, the others will work as well.

Here is the script. Here is an example of using it:

./ /tmp/file.rss

I have put up a page that contains links to the rss feeds that I have generated.

 I hope that KLIV adds builtin support for rss, as the feeds will be more up to data, and there would less chance of things breaking when the html changes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

subversion over ssh

This post has a description on how to use subversion over ssh.  This makes it easy to have a place to check in files for projects that I am working on, where the repository is hosted offsite. 

It is a lot easier to use subversion this way, instead of using a subversion server, as I don't have to run another server or open another port in my firewall.  Though this does require me to have a ssh user account for everyone who would access this repository, and permissions need to be set appropriately on the repository.