Today UPC broke my internet connection.. entirely. For 4 hrs. Four long, painful hours… up to this point I was having a nightmare trying to debug why a KVM based asterisk cluster was not talking to each another. Following the fairly straight-forward and very short walk through at https://wiki.asterisk.org/wiki/display/AST/Distributed+Device+State+with+AIS which is essentially the same (or 99% close!) on every Google-able page on the internet, I was getting nowhere. After compiling OpenAIS & Corosync and then recompiling Asterisk, the cluster worked.. until starting the cluster resource in Asterisk’s console which gave

ERROR[19134]: ais/clm.c:140 ast_ais_clm_load_module: Could not initialize cluster membership service: Unknown

And in the Corosync log:

Jul 11 13:16:17 corosync [IPC   ] Invalid IPC credentials.

It wasn’t till IRC & Google were wrestled from my hands that I really started to dig in the src directory and the accompanying documents. Tut tut I know. It was simple. There is a new (well how new I don’t know, but certainly I’ve found it nowhere else! Including Asterisk: The Definitive Guide) auth mechanism where you specify what users can send/receive messages via Corosync. Create a new file in

/etc/corosync/uidgid.d/

I called mine asterisk, and in it I added the user and group (both asterisk in my case) you want to allow. You can add as many as you want. So in mine I had:

uidgid {
        uid: asterisk
        gid: asterisk
}

And that was it. Quick restart of everything and it was fixed. Thank you UPC/unknown_individual_with_a_JCB you saved my sanity!

Top marks has to go to Deutsche Post for their new “E-Postbrief“. Essentially you get an address which “..consists of a first name and a surname and the ending @epost.de” and if there’s an address collision… wait for it…  “a number behind the surname prevents confusion when two people have the same surname. Anyone who registers quickly can secure the number he wishes”.. right so exactly like every free email account then. But don’t worry as getting an account requires the use of the German national ID or passport, which is fair enough, at least then you’ll know the Ulli.Winkler347 is in fact the right one, assuming his identity hasn’t been stolen that is (although Germany only suffers 3% apparently).

All this has lead to the rather dubious claim that “anonymous e-mails, spam or address theft are impossible with the E-Postbrief”. Interesting as I just got a bunch of junk in the mail today, I know all of the companies involved as it’s clearly their advertising departments who sent it to me. Just because I know who sent it doesn’t make it any less annoying! It seems the big push is to have a legally binding document that can be sent electronically, which is a valid idea I suppose although in many countries email is legally binding. The big issue here is they are charging 55 cent per message, you have the option to have it delivered by hand and printed at the other end. They save a lot of money not hauling paper about (good for the environment), yet still charge you close on the price of a first class stamp.

Clearly no one in Deutsche Post has heard of GPG/PGP… no? Oh well. If it’s printed out at the far end what stops someone reading the printout from within the Post system?

I guess the last thought we should leave is “whether our letter is in physical or digital format, it is based on a high-quality service from one single source. And it’s very attractively priced as well.” A vital service from a single vendor……what could go wrong?

I finally got around to updating the code with all the changes that have been running on the main project this was initially written for. So just a quick update to say added in some actually monitoring code rather than just examples. Can now monitor and restart (using event handler functionality in Nagios):

* AFP
* DHCP
* Directory Services
* DNS
* FTP
* Jabber
* Mail
* MySQL
* NAT
* Netboot
* NFS
* Print
* Quicktime Streaming Server
* SMB/CIFS
* Software Update
* Web

Services on an Apple Server… it has to be the actual Server edition though. Send comments, suggestions, general grief and mayhem.. HERE 🙂

libsrvrmgrd-osx

Special prize for me the other morning. Now and again (think every couple of months) Phonon (the KDE device manager) would, upon login, pop up a small box telling me that Analogue Output Something Something Whatchamathing is no longer need, do you want me to just remove it? As you can tell the specifics escape me now, I blame a rather sleep deprived night leaving me in an unfit state to operate anything more complex than a spoon. Normally I say no, look at it suspiciously and swear to “do something about that later”. I had a 50/50 chance of purely by chance choosing the correct option… I didn’t.

ALSA was clearly working, I could hear audio on the command line with mplayer, but KDE specific apps were just not having it. So after a very long search, several chicken sacrifices and blind luck I stumbled upon a fix allowing you to reset your Phonon config. Apparently the device is still there, you’ve just removed it from your normal users login.

So…. As YOUR user (ie. not root) run the following commands:

rm $(kde4-config --localprefix)/cache-$(hostname)/libphonon/hardwaredatabase
kbuildsycoca4 --noincremental
rm -r ~/.config/kde.org
rm ~/.kde/share/config/phonondevicesrc
rm -r ~/.xine

Logout of KDE and back in and you should have working audio again. Alas I can’t remember where I got the fix so I hear-by claim this to not be my own work but perhaps useful to other dexterity challenged individuals.

If you are looking for hosting and you live in France make sure you have a .fr email address if you go with OVH. Apparently they’ve had a lot of non French residents signing up for space on the French part of their site, when they are supposed to be in France. Sorry what now? Not for the first time in France someone has thought maybe I should get a .fr. Perhaps we’ve been unlucky and got some particularly idiotic people. It’s not like when signing up for a yahoo.fr email address, for instance, I need to report to the local police station and present my passport, 5 letters showing my French address. It’s not a postal address for goodness sake.

OVH needed a French postal address (fine), a French mobile number to send a verification SMS (fine, and verified last night), and a French bank card. All good. But because we used a .co.uk email address they stopped the order. See you later OVH, clearly business is not something you need. There’s more than one RPS/VPS hosting service out there and the requirement the helpdesk person said where I send a photocopy/fax of passport and bank card with details blacked-out for security and a possible wait of 3 weeks(!!!!) forget about it.

Next year at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival “OVH Provides Decent Service” 😉

It appears I missed my 10 year anniversary of using a non Microsoft OS (not counting a TI99/4A and a BBC Masters Compact). Apparently the March 1999 edition of PCPlus magazine (a hard magazine to find in Ireland back then) had a LiveCD for BeOS. I was doing CS in Uni at the time but it was up till then concentrated on Windows. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was going to break my install, the idea of something running off of CD was strange and I had only just started using the Internet so alternate OSes were not something I’d really been in contact with (actually at this point even in Uni you had to join Netsoc to get Internet as it was not provided and I was using it for about 6 months for the princely sum of £5 Irish pounds, £3 for just email… which hilariously I had gotten the year before and not known anyone with an email account). The whole FOSS thing kinda happened some time after this… I think. Or I had perhaps tried a Mandrake disk on a spare HDD, but I’m really not sure.

So last week not being particularly busy I decided I’d give Haiku a shot. It’s in very early Alpha stage right now and only provides VMWare images. I don’t use VMWare, so I figured must be a way to get it running on VirtualBox. There is and it’s nice and easy. Download the latest raw disk image and unzip. Then use VBoxManage application that comes with VirtualBox (I’m still on v2)

VBoxManage convertdd haiku-alpha-gcc4.image ~/.VirtualBox/VDI/haiku-alpha-gcc4.vdi

And you are good to go, you can now select it as a disk image in the manager. The Computer Action Show guys bizarrley enough covered it in their last episode so best to listen/watch them if you want an in depth review! I got bored rapidly when there wasn’t really anything I could think to do with it! 🙂

A long time ago (95-96?)  I completely hosed my system installing IBM Via Voice. It was horrendous. Slow. Unpredictable. Apparently it was also uninstallable… or at least when I tried to my machine was reduced to an auto-rebooting disaster. But great news from KDE  dot News (but runs on Gnome too) that a new program called simon has been written to help people with disabilities use their machine without requiring a keyboard. It’s not quite the voice recognition software to replace a keyboard for taking notes, but it’s pretty impressive stuff. There’s a great video there too, the bit that impressed me was controlling Amarok using the grid feature to “click” on an area of the screen.

http://www.kdenews.org/2009/08/22/simon-speech-activated-user-interface-kde

About 12-13 years ago I made the rather annoying decision to encode my music in OGG Vorbis format. I say annoying as it has ended up being an awkward choice. I made the choice before I was even using Linux, I’m not sure what prompted it, but it might have been a PC Plus article, better Audio for smaller size.

All my music sat on my PC. Which was fine until about 2003 (possibly.. it’s all rather vague) when flash players first came on the scene. I’d always been reluctant to buy anything with moving parts (Creative Zen was about £400 back then) which was going to exist in my jacket pocket. I had a CD walkman.. it drove me nuts skipping like a drunk boxer.

So I started looking for a OGG player. And that’s where the realisation I may have taken “the road less travelled” dawned on me. Eventually I found one though. An iRiver iFP500, 256MB, Built in FM Radio. It cost me around £100 or there abouts. It was great, with a crazy 40Hrs battery life on two AAA’s and 256MBcapacity. But I outgrew it (2005), especially when LugRadio came along with it’s whopping 20-40MB files ! So I searched again. And after another long and annoying search found a 2GB Samsung YP-U1. It was perfect, again somehow costing me about the same.

All went well till I was out walking the dog a few months back. He saw a dog he took an instant dislike too. I had the player in my hand while changing track. It got caught up in the leash, I was too busy trying to play referee that I didn’t notice the impending doom. Player ripped from hand, falls to ground, my foot went through the player. Fail. (I feel like adding “it only had one day to retirement” Lethal Weapon style, but in reality I’d have kept using it till the flash couldn’t handle any more writes!).

So step forth the Cowan iAudio 7, thanks to Mr. Sweet’s recommendation in an episode of LugRadio I went about short cutting my previous anguish and finding a replacement. Again I somehow managed to find it around the 100 mark, €99 this time. Fantastic.

  • Small
  • 8GB storage
  • USB Mass Storage mode (Also can switch to MTP via in-built menu)
  • Works on Linux perfectly (ie. can firmware upgrade it without needing software)
  • Plays Flac, Vorbis and Wav aswell as all the usual freedom hating formats (MP3, WMA, ASF, JPG, MPG Video)
  • It’s got a diagonal touchpad for fast scrolling and while a *bit* sensitive, it’s really not bad and makes fast forwarding through long audio less of a chore
  • Has ridiculously long battery life (50-60Hrs)
  • And some other things like Lyrics, Colour Screen, Fancy EQ settings..

It also rather importantly sounds great. Well done Cowan! So if you don’t “hate the freedom” I strongly suggest one 🙂

This Guide Is Depreciated!!!
Please visit my company website where there is an in-depth install.

OrangeHRM is a Human Resource tool for all sorts of HR things, which I’m sure is great… I have no idea how good it is, but an install was required, I had to install it, and the docs to install it are aweful. They mainly assume you are using AMP, on Windows and are very unclear as to what’s actually required. On Ubuntu you need:
sudo aptitude install apache2 mysql-server-5.0 php5 php5-mysql

If it’s a fresh install make sure you use a root password for mysql, go grab the tar.gz file from their website and extract it somehwhere temporarily. It’ll extract a file and a directory

  • orangehrm-2.4.2
  • orangehrm-quick-start-guide.html

Move it to /var/www removing the digits at the end.

Then all you need to do is go to http://you_server/orangehrm and follow the on screen Wizard. If you are getting blank screens like I was (Thanks for that PHP) it means you likely forgot php-mysql like I did. Oops. It should have been obvious, but Apache logs gave no errors and PHP gave me blank pages… 😦

PS: It looks very flash. Perhaps worth demoing to Finance/HR people if your company has a 90s application that still live on ! Its even got commercial support and a bug tracker built in which can submit bugs back to OrangeHRM.

Danny MacAskill In Edinburgh – Worth watching every stunning second of it. It’s insane.  Of course had I a trials bike I’d be able to do it too…. ahem

I love the little touch of him fixing the barrier after perfoming the craziest balancing act ever. Genius.