I just updated my server to Debian Lenny, which was released on February 14th.
So far, the only issue seems to have been my WordPress installation. I was getting errors in the Apache error log that the wordpress.wp_terms table didn’t exist in the database. I had to manually browse to /wp-admin/upgrade.php to do a database upgrade. After this, everything worked as normal.
So, if you come across a WordPress blog with no posts, no categories, and saying “Nothing to display for this category”, be kind and go /wp-admin/upgrade.php for them and run the database upgrade.
Thanks to this post on Erik Osterman’s blog for pointing out the issue.
I’ve had an iPhone 3G for about 2 months now, so I said I’d post my thoughts on it.
I bought the phone primarily because I wanted a useful mobile device for e-mail, and also because I love new gadgets! I must say though, I’m very impressed with it.
As expected, the battery life isn’t fabulous, but I still get about 2 days in between charges. It also charges very quickly, and battery life can be extended by turning off wifi and 3G if you’re not going to be using them.
I’ve never been too bothered about having a camera on my phone, but the quality of the iPhone’s camera seems to be quite good. That said, I’ve really only played with it, taking random photos just to see how they came out. It would’ve been nice if the phone supported recording video clips too.
The calendar application is nice, but I’d like if it could show upcoming appointments on the home screen instead of having to open the application. Another application I’m making good use of is the stock application. It uses Yahoo finance to get stock quotes, and allows you to personalise it so it can retrieve prices for the stocks you want. It doesn’t have any advanced features though, like portfolio tracking.
The email application is very easy to use and setup. It supports IMAP, POP3 and SMTP protocols, and their secure counterparts. Reading e-mail is comfortable, and the touchscreen interface is easy to use. The Safari web browser is also very easy to use. The one issue I’ve had is that, on numerous occasions, the browser has hung and then crashed, but the phone continues working.
While I haven’t made any major use of the Google Maps application, I can see how useful it can be. It can pin-point your location, then you can ask for directions to somewhere or someone (if you’ve stored their address in your contacts). You can also search for facilities in your locality (eg. restaurants) and you can tap on the location pins to get details on each, including phone number, website and address.
The common worry I’ve heard is with regards to typing e-mails, text messages etc. However, the keyboard presented on screen for typing is very easy to use, and quite responsive. Each key you hit zooms in and shows the letter you’ve just hit. Also, as you type, if you do typo, it’s noticed and by simply continuing typing the mistake is replaced with the correct word. Of course this has its drawbacks too, particularly when it picks up on a word incorrectly. The corrected version is shown in a little box and if you don’t want it, you simply hit the ‘x’ in the box to close it.
Lastly, as a phone, it works perfectly. When you make a call, you’re shown a screen with a few different buttons, like speakerphone, keypad, contacts, add call and hold. If you have assigned a photo to the contact for the person who you’re ringing or who’s ringing you, it’ll be set as the background. The audio quality is fine, and I haven’t had any complaints on the other end, so presume the microphone quality is also fine.
All in all, I do like the iPhone. I have to send mine back for repair, because the bluetooth is faulty in it, but even with this fault, I’m happy with it. Now, if O2 could sort out my contract, I’d be sorted!
It’s been a while since I posted anything up here, so I’m going to try and cover a few topics now. I started a new job developing payments routing software with ACI Worldwide in February, so I’ve been busy enough over the last few weeks.
To start with, I’ll mention http://photos.jmadden.eu, which I’ve just set up. This is a Plogger install that I can fill up with our photos. At the moment, all that’s up there are photos of Lou’s hen night in Killarney this year.
That leads me nicely on to my stag weekend, which was this past weekend (4th, 5th & 6th of April). I had a brilliant weekend, really enjoyed it & it was brilliant to have such a great bunch of friends around for the few days celebration! Thanks to everyone who made it. When I get a few photos in from it, I’ll put them up too.
While on the topic of photos, I also grabbed PloggerPress to integrate Plogger with WordPress, so I could have pages & posts of just photos. It works perfectly, but I’ve made a few changes to make it work a bit better for what I want. Firstly, I found a minor bug in it that I notified the developer about this evening. On line 150 of plogger-press.php, change
$url=preg_replace(“/[ |(|)]/”, “_”, substr($path, $number));
Plogger replaces certain characters (the one’s I noticed for the above change were ‘ ‘, ‘(‘ and ‘)’) with underscores. This ended up with some of the thumbnails for photos not being shown because the link for the ‘img src’ was incorrect.
As well as this, I added an ‘add_filter(“wp_head”, “my_head_func”);’ so I could alter some styling. I put a ‘class=”image”‘ into the ‘<img>’ tags so I could style them (borders, padding etc.) just to look a bit better.
Lastly, I’ve had very little time to work on SvnFs lately. I’ve done a small bit of work on getting write support done, but if you want it any time soon, I’d advise grabbing it from http://www.jmadden.eu/svnrepos/svnfs/trunk. It’s available anonymously, so
svn co http://www.jmadden.eu/svnrepos/svnfs/trunk
That’s it for now. We’re only three and a half weeks away from the wedding, so I doubt there’ll be many more updates before that. I’ll put up the stag photos when I get them, but that’ll probably be it!!
Having played with various mencoder options at different times, and with no success, I had a look at converting a standard avi file into an iPod recognisable mp4 again today.
Luckily this time I came across a post to one of the Mplayer mailing lists from someone having similar issues, and a link to “HOWTO batch encode video for iPod under Linux”.
He’s written a tool called podencoder which will encode DVDs and files into iPod mp4 format. After downloading that shell script to a directory in my $PATH, renaming it to podencoder and setting it executable, running
produced file.avi.mp4 which iTunes recognised and was synced with the iPod.
On a related note, why can’t iTunes report back to you when it can’t import a certain file? Even if it gave no reason, just saying “I’m not importing that, now piss off” would be better than nothing.
Anyway, having searched for this type of thing before and coming up blank, maybe another post and link to that site will push it further up the search ratings.
…or at least according to Microsoft’s latest patch count!
I read this article, titled “Microsoft: Vista Least-Flawed OS” this morning. Microsoft counted the number of patches required to a variety of different operating systems, and claim that, because Vista required the least number of patches in its first year, it must be more secure than everything else out there.
This, of course, completely ignores the criticality and exploitability of the vulnerabilities in question, as pointed out by Rich Mogul in the above article.
Also, Microsoft have always been in the habit of counting every single bug that shows up in the GNU/Linux distros they’re using for comparison. This is pointless, as the distros contain thousands of packages, some of which are core requirements (like the kernel, shells, core utils etc.) and the rest are optional extras (eg. OpenOffice.org, XOrg etc.).
I use Debian Linux on my desktop, my laptop and a few servers. I use Debian Stable on the servers, and the number of security updates to these servers is quite low and infrequent. As well as this, in the recent past I can only recall one instance where an update required downtime to complete. I installed server specific packages, omitting a GUI and GUI applications for the servers, since they’re not required. On my desktop and laptop, I use the Gnome desktop environment, but KDE is also available as an option. I generally install OpenOffice.org as the office suite, but again, there are other packages provided to choose from for this. Basically, what I’m trying to illustrate is that Linux distros provide much more choice than Windows does, and include packages that Windows doesn’t (eg. office suite). Microsoft try to hold this against the distros by counting bugs identified in every single package, and not taking into account the number of affected users.
These security analyses that Microsoft do aren’t comparing like with like, and shouldn’t be considered as anything more than marketing fluff.
This is primarily to inform visitors to this website that I’m available and looking for contract work, either remote or on-site in the Limerick region.
As well as this, I have experience with server installation and administration of various elements of information technology infrastructure, such as web servers (Apache), database servers (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Sybase), email servers (Postfix), DNS (Bind) and directory servers (OpenLDAP).
My CV is available online. Any and all reasonable offers or requests will be considered and treated professionally and confidentially. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a Hotmail account for email, then you’re probably not receiving some legitimate email that’s being sent to you. This is because Microsoft think they know better than you what email you should be receiving.
I ran into this problem recently. I had emailed a friend at his Hotmail address, and heard nothing back. I thought about it a few times, but just figured he hadn’t the time, or had nothing to say or whatever. Except my fiancee told me that email she was sending to someone at a Hotmail address wasn’t getting through either.
I started looking it up online, but couldn’t find any conclusive proof. So I set up a Hotmail account to test it, and confirmed that legitimate email sent to Hotmail addresses from jmadden.eu doesn’t get delivered. The Hotmail servers accept the mail for delivery, but then dump it. Neither the sender nor the intended recipient get any notification that the mail has been dumped.
Looking online a bit deeper, and talking to a friend who works for an Irish ISP, there’s some mutterings of SPF possibly helping the situation. I set up an SPF record for jmadden.eu yesterday, and so far, tests have still failed. I’m waiting for DNS caches and TTLs to time out before confirming whether this has affected delivery.
The only time email gets through is when it’s an immediate reply to an email which originated from Hotmail. I’m not sure if there’s a timeout on this or anything (since the email I sent to my friend seems to have gone missing, and was a reply to an email from Hotmail).
For further reading, check out the Hotmail Friendly Fire article on The Register written earlier this year about this same problem.
The message to Hotmail users is to switch to a provider that won’t drop your legitimate email, and still has a good anti-spam defense (eg. GMail). To everyone else, don’t sign up to Hotmail for primary email. And finally, to mail admins, test that mail from your domain is actually delivered to Hotmail.
Update 1: I continued testing this. The SPF records have made no difference. I tested them with this SPF Query Tool and they passed. Still, mail to Hotmail is dumped.
Item number 4, “Authenticate your outbound e-mail: Publish Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records”, on the Hotmail technical standards webpage says :
We encourage you to e-mail Microsoft upon posting your SPF record to the DNS. This will help ensure your record is automatically included in our SIDF cache. Send an e-mail with your domain name in the body of the message (for example, mydomain.com) to email@example.com. If you have multiple domain names, please list each domain on a separate line in the body of the message.
I did this after setting up the SPF records, but it hasn’t made any difference.
I also looked into replying to Hotmail mail. It seems to keep a record of the message id and the from address (ie. the Hotmail address sending the message), so that when a reply comes in, the to address and message id (in the In-Reply-To header) are checked and if it’s a reply, the message is delivered. This can be fooled, by taking a valid message id from a previous message and putting it into an In-Reply-To header in the mail. This only works when delivering to the person who sent the email you’re using the message id from though – in which case it’d be easier just to reply!
Update 2: I think I’ve managed to find my way through Hotmail’s ridiculous spam filter . What I had to do was update Bind9 to a version greater than 9.4, to support SPF RR records. Before this, I had created my SPF records in TXT records. After this, I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org again, with my domain name in the body and subject of the email. After about 24 hours, I sent another test email, and low and behold it got through.
The first one I sent got marked as junk, and put into my Junk folder in Hotmail. I sent another couple after this, with a bit more content, and they got through to the Inbox (though, I reckon this could, in part, be due to me marking my previous email as safe to read in the Junk folder).
So, basically, it looks like you need SPF records, in an SPF resource record (TXT RR won’t do), and have those picked up by Hotmail to get email through to Hotmail recipients.
I still recommend people don’t use Hotmail – I still have no faith that my emails will get through, and anyone with a Hotmail account should know that legitimate mail to them probably has been, and will be dumped.
I’ve done 3 upgrades to Debian lenny over the last week or so. I started off with my work desktop, a Dell Optiplex 745, followed by my home desktop AMD64, and finally my MacBook. Apart from some very minor problems, the upgrade went very smoothly, and everything works fine afterwards.
I had no issues upgrading the Optiplex – everything just worked.
On the AMD64, the biggest problem was with the installer for the NVidia binary drivers. It installs the X11 drivers in /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/. For the Xorg version in lenny, these need to reside in /usr/lib/xorg/modules/. The problem was easily found (the Xorg.0.log file pointed to a missing nvidia driver), and easily fixed (dpkg -L xserver-xorg-video-intel showed where the driver files should now reside).
cp /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/nvidia_drv.so /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers/
cp /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/extensions/libglx* /usr/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/
The MacBook upgrade went smoothly aswell, with the usual caveats. My kernel isn’t managed by apt because I apply the mactel patches to it. So, after the dist-upgrade, I got the new kernel sources, applied the latest mactel patches, built the package and installed it. I also built the headers package, and installed that to build and install the madwifi drivers for the atheros wireless card.
apt-get source linux-image-2.6.22-2-686
make-kpkg –initrd linux-image
dpkg -i ../linux-image-*.deb ../linux-headers-*.deb
I rebooted before building and installing the madwifi drivers.
make -C /lib/modules/2.6.22*/build SUBDIRS=`pwd` modules
make -C /lib/modules/2.6.22*/build SUBDIRS=`pwd` modules_install
And that’s it. All three machines are running lenny now with no problems.
In my Comments posting earlier this year, I said I had disabled comments on articles on this website to avoid having to deal with spam on another front.
As it turns out, just disabling comments within WordPress wasn’t enough. I was getting hit with more and more spam, all being held for moderation. This was getting to be an annoyance, so I looked into it.
grep on the Apache logs, and searching for the IP address that the spammers hit my site from, I found everything was being POSTed to wp-trackback.php. Simply changing the permissions on this file to 0600 (it was installed from a Debian package, so is root owned) has stopped the onslaught of spam, and doesn’t seem to have affected anything else.
keep looking »
I’ve just uploaded svnfs-0.4.tgz.
The major change in this version is to remove the requirement for a list of the repository at mount time, in favour of doing a list of the required directory when it’s needed. This slows down commands and tab completion, with the trade off of giving quicker mount times and always giving the latest contents of the repository.
As well as this, a few bugs were fixed.
- listing of files and directories in the root of the mounted filesystem
- segfault caused by an off-by-one in _svnclient_list_func()
- don’t return subdirectory files in svnfs_readdir()
As usual, any comments or patches welcome to email@example.com.