New category

January 4th, 2007 by ftempel

I added a new category, “knives”. This is the first post in it. Here I intend to post stuff about my secondary hobby, collecting knives (yeah, the sharpened strips of metal kind). Just in case; a picture of my first purchase in my collection last year, a Fallkniven (yeah, swedish) Garm Fighter G1:

Skype Phone

January 4th, 2007 by ftempel

So I ordered a Skype standalone handset. It’s an SMC WSKP100, which connects to Skype with its own WiFi capabilities. Mighty cool stuff. I received it, and it’s receiving its initial 8 hour battery charge now (apparently a requirement). The good news: the thing is based on a TI OMAP1710 (H3) chip, and runs…tadaaa, Linux! Check out this and this. That means it might be hackeable.

Anyway, people have given me some flak about why I chose the (bad, bad, bad) prorietary Skype over (good, good, good) open SIP. Well…I dunno. Skype just has the name of being easy. Lets see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out, I can always try and turn this handset into SIP device with a custom firmware.

2007…long time no post (again)

January 1st, 2007 by ftempel

Ah well, here we are…2007. A few new years computer related resolutions:

  • blog more :)
  • do more with wifi, maybe with FON
  • have a whack at VoIP, and Skype
  • (re)install Nexenta OS
  • lots more…

Now I need to actually do it, too :)

First attempts to watch YouTube videos on amd64

October 22nd, 2006 by ftempel

Recently, Adobe released the Beta of Flash player 9 for linux. It only comes in a 32bit version, as there seem to be…issues to get a native 64bit version developed/built. Whatever. So anyway, I set out to use this new flash player to watch some videos from YouTube on my native Debian Unstable amd64 system.

The first attempt is with the Standalone player. The simple way to find out what the player requires to run is run `ldd` on it, which spits out a list of libraries it’s linked against and whether or not they can be found. With this method, I found out that I had to install the 32bit versions of the following libraries:

  • libgtk2
  • libglib2
  • libpango1
  • libatk1

This of course next to the standard 32bit runtime I already had installed earlier. YMMV. To install these libraries I went to the nearest Debian mirror, and retrieved the “i386″ packages of these libraries. I unpacked them with “dpkg -x” and moved the resulting content to /lib32. After this, `ldd` resolved all dependencies just fine, and I was able to start the player. It would even play a downloaded flash movie (Xiao Xiao #3)…except there were some issues with the fonts, as you can see in the screenshot.

fp screenshot1

The solution was to configure Pango to point to the proper 32bit font modules. Well, this is not so straightforward as it sounds. The only solution I found sofar which doesn’t break things too horribly is to create a seperate “pangorc” file, and then reference it as I run the flash player. So, I created the pangorc file as thus: `vim /lib32/pango/1.5.0/pangorc`, with the following contents:

[Pango]
ModulesPath=/lib32/pango/1.5.0/modules/
ModuleFiles=/lib32/pango/1.5.0/module-files.d/libpango1.0-0.modules

Starting the player with the command: `PANGO_RC_FILE=/lib32/pango/1.5.0/pangorc gflashplayer xxiao03.swf` makes things all normal:

fp screenshot 2

Long command, but nothing which can’t be fixed with an alias, so we’ll do that:
alias flash=”PANGO_RC_FILE=/lib32/pango/1.5.0/pangorc gflashplayer” (add this to your bash profile).

Next step: YouTube.

I downloaded a YouTube flash file, which is basically only a pointer to a flash video file on the internet. For some reason it’s called “p.swf”, so I played it with: `flash p.swf`. This was the result:

fp screenshot 3

Clicking on “Settings” to change the defaults, yields no result as it refers to a webpage with yet another Flash application to change settings. And I still don’t have a working plugin installed. Thus began the hunt for how to modify settings. I found a document detailing that a file called “mms.cfg” holds global settings, and a very obfuscated story about sandboxes and such. But no information otherwise on how to allow a local SWF file to access network resources. A strace on the execution of the player pointed out that “mms.cfg” is really “/etc/adobe/mms.cfg”, and that it’s fairly useless in solving this problem. What *is* useful is good old google, and about an hour’s worth of time and effort to piece information together from various Adobe documents, forum posts, Usenet articles, etc. And not to forget some blind luck and further analysis of the output of strace.

To make a long story short: The player looks for configuration files (most notably, files which indicate where “trusted” flash content is placed) in a directory which doesn’t actually exist by default: $HOME/.macromedia/Flash_Player/#Security/FlashPlayerTrust
In here a text file can be placed with the simple content of e.g. the path to your home directory (i.e. the location of “trusted” flash content).

The role of /etc/adobe/mms.cfg? It allows administrators to enable and disable things globally, like the ability for users to actually set trusted content paths. I haven’t been able to find a definitive list of useable parameters, but through usenet I found there are at least the following:

AutoUpdateDisable=1
AutoUpdateFrequency=-1
AutoUpdateLock=1
LocalStorageLimit=0
FileUploadDisable=1
AVHardwareDiable=1
ThirdPartyStorage=0
AllowUserLocalTrust=0

The last one disables user configurable trust directories, and when set to “0″, it indeed works as expcted: The error message in the previous screenshot keeps appearing.

Anyway, with all things set, it’s now time to play YouTube videos (make sure to use an absolute path to reference the file. Else the “trusted path” doesn’t match.). After a long loading time of the actual data (I think), this is what I’m left with: A standard YouTube player screen, and nothing to play.

fp screenshot 4

Bugger. To be continued…maybe.

PS: Passing the direct URL to the movie to the player doesn’t work either.

Software companies actively promoting piracy (and they don’t realize it)

September 4th, 2006 by ftempel

Been a while since last $blog. Oh well, such is life. Either way, I’ve a cold, and I’m frustrated by a certain unnamed software company which develops statistical software. But hey, they’re not the only ones doing this, so…

Anyway, in this case we’ve upgraded to a “new’ version of their software, and with it came a new licensing model. If you’ve ever worked in an environment larger than 10 users, you might have heard the name “Sentinel” before. Joy. Great joy. Really. Not.

Anyway, the story: Like a lot of environments, the environment I work in doesn’t allow regular users to install software. In other words, our users are Domain Users, and nothing more. They don’t need more. Anyway, a concequence of this, is that we have to somehow deploy software to their PC they can use. Alas, we chose to use Active Directory policies to deploy software. This works great as long as the to be deployed software is in MSI form. If it isn’t, we’ll make it so. And while we’re at it, we try to make the software not ask all kinds of hard questions by (pre) configuring things at install time, including the registration of the product with the vendor if required. Alas, problems arise (luckily not too often) when products use a uniquely generated code to generate license request files, to have actual licenses generated by the vendor. This is because the PC where the license is being requested is generally *not* the PC the software will be run on. Anyway, today I have such a case, and the vendor isn’t very flexible nor understanding. Basically the support desk tells me I’m out of luck, and it can’t be fixed either. Unless of course we shell out a lot of cash for a “network” version of their software. Well, fuck you. Let’s see how “out of luck” I am when I find a crack for that Piece of Shit software you sell. I understand why you do this, to battle software piracy and license violations, but damn…you kinda bring it onto yourself this way.

Who needs SPSS anyway?

VCP

July 8th, 2006 by ftempel

Today I received my VCP (VMware Certified Professional) welcome kit. I’m VCP #5798. Yay!

Locked forums #2

July 2nd, 2006 by ftempel

And to revisit the topic of locked forums, it seems more and more forums add another barrier before usage is possible: The requirement to “say hello” before the account is fully activated. I don’t see the use of such a requirement. It’s a stupid practice and should be abolished as soon as possible. Web forums are a great thing. Too bad its administrators are going out of their way to keep people out.

Locked forums

June 27th, 2006 by ftempel

I notice more and more forums requiring registration to view the forum posts. I’m sure there’s a reason to this madness, but it annoys me to no end. It also prevents indexing by Google, for instance, so all the knowledge shared on that forum will stay on that forum and will be lost forever if the forum dies. Such a pity. Such a waste. Such a stupid practice!

BTW, the ultimate I found is a forum which has a post called “how to register for this forum”, and when you want to read it you need to log in.

D’Oh!

Orkut account removed

June 24th, 2006 by ftempel

I log in every once in 6 months or so…only to find loads of messages and other crap from people I don’t know in a language I don’t understand. It was fun, for a very short while. I deleted my Orkut account today. Good riddance.

Recovering a file…

June 18th, 2006 by ftempel

Long time no write; but I’m making up for it, promise.

Anyway, today I’ve managed to recover a file from a accidentally formatted drive. After approaching the problem from several angles, I found a very simple tool which did the trick for me: magicrescue. Here’s what happened, and what I did (for future reference):
First the mistake. I have a 3 disk fiberchannel array which obviously consists of SCSI disks. One 72G disk which I use(d) for holding VMware images, and two 18G disks which I use for various data. One for stuff I compile, and the other for digital photos and such. So far so good. Incidentally, I also have one of them USB unclosures for 2.5″ laptop disks, which, when connected to a PC, also shows itself as SCSI disk. Accident waiting to happen, and it did. I wanted to transfer a couple of VMware images from the SCSI disk to the USB based disk, and formatted the disk first. Then I started copying. The copy failed, for some reason, so I gave up at that point. A couple of days later I needed some data of one of the 18G disks, only to discover that I formatted that one instead of the USB disk I intended to use…oops.

Well, not much important stuff was on that 18G disk, except for the digital photos and a spreadsheet I need to use. Obviously, after formatting *and* using that disk my hopes were low to recover those. I meddled about a bit with various techniques (including turning an image of the drive into a VMware disk to use R-Linux on it), and finally found something which worked! Above mentioned “magicrescue”. The spreadsheet is back, but I couldn’t recover any of the digital photos decently. Oh well.