Thursday, October 09, 2014

IPhone 6/IOS 8

Apparently Steve Jobs was the only person at Apple doing quality control.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Prediction

Apple will get a patent on "Phone with bigger screen" and sue everybody who ever made a phone with a screen larger than 3.5 inches.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

PDFTK Builder

Angus Johnson has a graphical front-end to PDFTK released as GPL, located at http://www.angusj.com/pdftkb/#pdftkbuilder.

I have migrated the sources from Delphi 7 to Lazarus/Freepascal, and exposed further PDFTK functionality, including multibackground, multistamp, attachments, and shuffle.

Source and Binaries: http://weblog.henrytheadequate.com/pdftkbuilder.php

PDFTK: http://www.pdflabs.com/tools/pdftk-the-pdf-toolkit/pdftk-1.44-win.zip  Place pdftk.exe and libiconv2.dll from this archive in the same directory as pdftkbuilder.exe

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Backppc and the USB Drive

BackupPC is, well, "BackupPC is a high-performance, enterprise-grade system for backing up Linux, WinXX and MacOSX PCs and laptops to a server's disk." (BackupPC Website)

I have been using BackupPC at work for some time, but this is not about that. Neither is this about the advantages of BackupPC, of which there are several.

No, this is just a basic setup for backing up to a USB device.  This is my setup at home, with only a few PCs to backup.  This is not how I set things up at work.

So, here goes.

Becoming root
We need to become root for any of this...

#su -
or, for Ubuntu,
#sudo -i

Setting Up the Drive
Firstly we need to configure the backup device; in this case a 1TB USB hard drive. I plug in the drive. I run fdisk and create an ext3 partition.

Now I am going to mount this partition at /backup, and I am going to want to mount it here regardless of whether it appears as sdb1 or sdc1 or sdg1, or whatever. This can be achieved by adding a line to /etc/fstab, something like the following:

UUID=424b268a-8c03-4d5f-9718-f8b34a73d201 /backup ext3 defaults,noatime 0 0

This tells the system that the partition with UUID of 424b268a-8c03-4d5f-9718-f8b34a73d201 should be mounted at /backup, and that it is of type ext3. There are a number of commands that can be used to get the UUID of your partition. One of these is "blkid".

#blkid /dev/sdg1
/dev/sdg1: UUID="424b268a-8c03-4d5f-9718-f8b34a73d201" SEC_TYPE="ext2" TYPE="ext3"

Ok, so we've edited fstab, adding the appropriate entry.

#mount /backup

No errors? Excellent. Now to install BackupPC, assuming you've not already got it.

Installing and Configuring BackupPC
#apt-get install backuppc

Waiting while BackupPC is installed....

Now, we stop BackupPC, and copy the archive to a directory on the new partition.
#/etc/init.d/backuppc stop
#mkdir /backup/backuppc
#chown backuppc:backuppc /backup/backuppc
#rsync -a -H /var/lib/backuppc/* /backup/backuppc/

(The "-H" switch for rsync is important here.  It preserves hard links between files.  Hard links are used extensively by BackupPC)  

Edit /etc/backuppc/config.pl and change the "$Conf{TopDir}" line to match our new archive location. For example...

$Conf{TopDir} = '/backup/backuppc';

At this point you want to configure BackupPC to backup your computer(s). I'm not going into that here. Please refer to the documentation.

Running BackupPC
All done?
#/etc/init.d/backuppc start

There are a couple of things you need to be aware of with this setup.
  1. BackupPC cannot start if the USB drive is not mounted. Unless the USB drive is plugged in and switched on, expect BackupPC to crash immediately. This is not a big deal. This will do no harm. Just keep in mind that until you have mounted /backup and started BackupPC, there will be no backups.
  2. The drive should not be switched off or unplugged or unmounted while BackupPC is running.
  3. USB is slower than SATA. Backups will take longer.
  4. If multi-versioned backups are critical, you're going to want to backup to some kind of RAID device (Software RAID please. Using Hardware raid is counter-productive as you still end up with a single point of failure; the RAID controller).
The procedure to start BackupPC becomes
#mount /backup
#/etc/init.d/backuppc start
(Booting the system with the USB drive plugged in and switched on should also result in a running BackupPC system, as long as you don't specify "noauto" in /etc/fstab.)

The procedure for unplugging the USB drive should be
#/etc/init.d/backuppc stop
#umount /backup
... and now it is safe to switch off the drive.

Saving the Whales
Once backups are complete I shut down the drive and only switch it back on when it suits my needs - maybe every few days, sometimes weekly, thus saving electricity, and whales.   This is not so easy to do when using an internal drive for backups.

(Disclaimer:  This procedure may not, in fact, save any whales.  This procedure may even be harmful to whales, for all I know.  The author disclaims all responsibility for any harm which may occur to whales, or to your data, if you choose to follow the procedures outlined here.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Five Minutes of Ubuntu 9.04

Hardware: Acer Aspire 5315
CPU: Celeron 550 2.0GHZ
RAM: 1GB
HDD: 80G SATA
Video: Intel GMA X3100 (GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller rev 03)
Wireless: Atheros AR242x PCI Express (rev 01)
LAN: Broadcom NetLink BCM5906M
Audio: Intel 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)

Ubuntu 9.04
LiveCD:
LiveCD booted to a desktop with all devices detected ok. Wireless lan was detected, Entered the network key, and all is good.

Installation:
Double-click "Install" on the desktop, then it's seven simple steps and you're awaaaaay! This is one step more than Kubuntu (Review) - that step being "Migrate Documents and Settings", which allows the user to migrate their settings from an existing Windows install. Apparently Kubuntu does not have this option.

Issues found in first five minutes.

If I leave the PC idle for a short while, then move the mouse, the screen flickers. (and No, I do not have "Dim display when idle" checked in Power Management. It flickers like crazy when starting the Power Management Preferences. Flickers at random intervals too.

It flickers.

Plain old boring desktop with not a sign of visual effects (Compiz and such). Actually, Compiz is installed, however doesn't appear to work on this hardware, whereas Kubuntu (KDE4) had all visual effects working beautifully.

When I click "Shut Down" or "Restart" I get a sixty second countdown. When I tell the computer to shut down, I mean now.

Five Minute Goodness:

Suspend to Ram and Suspend to Disk both work on this hardware.

All hardware detected. All drivers loaded automatically and transparently. Imagine needing some special vendor-supplied cd, just to make the hardware work. Or, worse, imagine having to search the Internet for drivers just to get stuff to work. That would be really primitive.

Performance is excellent.

Plain, functional desktop with not a sign of visual effects (Compiz and such).

Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing, but I will say this; Way back in the early days of Ubuntu I tried both Gnome and KDE versions and found that compared to Ubuntu, Kubuntu was lacking in features and polish and appeared really quite buggy. It's good to see some things are constant - eternal, in this ever changing world. This hectic dog eat dog rat race where the rats maybe get eaten by the dogs when the dogs have finished eating each other and then maybe the dogs go to start in on the cats, but the cats haven't got out of bed yet, so then the dogs just eat my shoes instead.

Bloody dog.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Five Minutes of Kubuntu 9.04

Hardware: Acer Aspire 5315
CPU: Celeron 550 2.0GHZ
RAM: 1GB
HDD: 80G SATA
Video: Intel GMA X3100 (GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller rev 03)
Wireless: Atheros AR242x PCI Express (rev 01)
LAN: Broadcom NetLink BCM5906M
Audio: Intel 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)

Kubuntu 9.04
LiveCD:
LiveCD booted to a desktop with all devices detected ok. Wireless lan was detected, found my local network, however entering network key had no effect. "System Connection" is greyed out in NM, presumably because I am not root, but where is the "Administrator Mode" button?

I was able to suspend from the LiveCD, however on resuming was prompted for a password, and since there isn't one... Tried settings the password from the terminal, but just got an error message of some kind (<-- I am Mr Vague).

Checked with Google, and this is a known bug, going back to 2006, at least.

Installation:
Double-click "Install" on the desktop, then it's six simple steps and you're awaaaaay!

Issues found in first five minutes.

I've already mentioned issues with Network Manager running from the LiveCD. The following applies post HDD installation.

"System connection" is still greyed out in Network Manager. I enter hex key and get a prompt for KDE wallet. I click to allow KDE Datemon (?) access to the wallet. KDE Daemon immediately crashes.

Network Manager is a steaming pile of dog turd. Bring back /etc/network/interfaces. Please.

(Yes, I know /etc/network/interfaces is still there, and I can probably remove NM and use /etc/network/interfaces. I know. I know. I know. I know. But when faced with a clear opportunity to use the phrase "steaming pile of dog turd"... well, you just don't pass up an opportunity like that.)

Went to that thingy KDE4 has instead of the KDE Menu. Started looking for Konsole. Requires WAY too many clicks. Click to open a submenu. Click to go back so you can click to try another submenu... It's worse than talking to the phone company.

Tried typing Konsole in the Search area and it started the KDE Groupware Wizard? Tried again and got Konsole this time. Maybe I hit a wrong key the first time. Whatever. I don't much like the new menu.

Defaults to a single desktop. What? Yes, really. (SPODT)

I clicked "Restart" and got a thirty second countdown. When I tell the computer to restart I pretty well mean now.

Five Minute Goodness:
This is my first experience with KDE4. It sure is pretty. Visual effects are fast and flawless on this graphics hardware.

Installation is quick and easy. Pity about networking being broken, or at least seriously sprained.

Oh! Oh! Wireless network now works! And all I had to do was reboot after changing network settings.

.... Uh, hang on... Single desktop? Reboot to apply changes to network settings? Is Mr Shuttleworth trying to mimic the success of Windows here? Hell it practically IS Windows.

But wait! There's more! Following the reboot I now have two desktops. (?) This Kubuntu thing is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma, wrapped up in a steaming pile of dog turd. (Sorry. Couldn't help myself)

Suspend to Ram and Suspend to Disk both work, though on resume the screen brightness is set quite low.

But it sure is pretty. And quick. Completely (utterly (mind-bogglingly (unreservedly))) blows away Vista on this hardware. Now THERE's a steaming pile of dog turd if ever I've seen one (and I have. Seen one, that is.)

Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing. But if I had to venture a conclusion, based only on a five minute test, I'd probably subtly imply something about how Kubuntu serves to validate Debian's When It's Ready release policy. I am totally subtle like that.

But then I'd completely ruin the whole subtlety thing by saying something like, "If this is the quality you get from time-based releases... Time based releases are a steaming pile of dog turd."

So, it's probably just as well I'm not drawing any conclusions here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

QOTY

It wasn't until ten years ago that they replaced trial by ordeal here with trial by lawyer, and that was only because they found that lawyers were nastier.
- Terry Pratchett, "The Fifty Elephant"

Sunday, March 08, 2009

5 Minutes of World of Goo

Limux version

Issues found in first five minutes
None

Five Minute Goodness
Gooey goodness. Looks, plays, sounds just great. If I liked this kind of game I would be right into it.

Score
7/10 I just think it deserves a seven.

Windows Version

Issues found in first five minutes
Only runs as administrator.

Five Minute Goodness
Gooey goodness. Looks, plays, sounds just great. If I liked this kind of game, and happened to be the system administrator, I would be right into it.

Score
0/10 Sorry, but any game... Game, get it? This is a game and not a disk formatting tool. This is not a DBMS or a web server or a mail server or a registry editor or a tool to add users to the system... This is a GAME dammit.

Uh, carried away. Starting again...

Score
0/10 Any game created this century that needs to be run as Administrator automatically gets a zero.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

5 Minutes of Elive 1.9.23

Hardware: Dell Latitude C610
CPU: Mobile P3 - M 1133MHz
RAM: 256MB
HDD: 20G
Video: ATI Radeon Mobility M6
Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN321G USB, Ralink chipset
LAN: 3Com 3c905c
Audio: Intel 82801CA/CAM AC97

Elive 1.9.23 (Unstable)
Installation:
This is another livecd install. The CD boots quickly enough. The install is pretty damn slow, but dead easy.

I use the unstable version because stable requires a payment to download, and I'm not about to do that for a five minute test-drive.

Did I mention the install is slow? Hell, just generating locales is slower than the entire knoppix install.

***Disclaimer: I did not time the knoppix install. I did not time the elive install. I make wildly unfounded claims based on nothing more than the level of frustratotron enzymes in my system at any given time. There is no such thing as a frustratotron enzyme (there probably should be). End Disclaimer***

But it really is slow.

Issues found in first five minutes.
When powering down the system, it says "System start in progress, hold on please".

Hibernate fails without data loss - ie it does not go to sleep then fail to resume; rather it fails to go to sleep and kicks back to the desktop with "Elive system, restored."

Menus happily cascade right off the screen.

Closing the lid blanks the screen. Opening the lid does not restore the screen. Nothing bar shutdown and restart restores the screen.

Enlightenment theme switcher - OK and Apply both do the same thing; apply the selected theme, and then close the application.

Five Minute Goodness:
Enlightenment e17. It's a beautiful thing, and not just because of the visuals. If you haven't seen e17, you're missing out. You should see e17.

I like the eLive panel, although would prefer to enter root password once, rather than every time I click an applet for system-wide settings.

Suspend to RAM works. On resume you get "Elive system, restored" in a voice that kinda reminds me of an old game. (C&C? Warzone 2100? Definitely an RTS)


Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing. Oh, what the hell, here's your damn conclusion: I like it. I like it a lot.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

5 Minutes of SimplyMepis 8.0.00

Hardware: Dell Latitude C610
CPU: Mobile P3 - M 1133MHz
RAM: 256MB
HDD: 20G
Video: ATI Radeon Mobility M6
Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN321G USB, Ralink chipset
LAN: 3Com 3c905c
Audio: Intel 82801CA/CAM AC97

SimplyMepis 8.0.00
Installation:
When I installed Fedora from the Live CD and found it to be incredibly slow, I blamed myself. This hardware, I said, is just not up to running a modern livecd.

Then I booted the Knoppix 6.0.1 CD, and it was outrageously fast. But still, I said, Knoppix is using LXDE, which is much lighter than Fedora's Gnome desktop.

But now after trying SimplyMepis, I am forced to conclude that the Fedora livecd really does just completely suck. It's not me, Fedora, it's you. Sorry. Had to be said.

SimplyMepis boots almost as quickly as Knoppix, but to a full KDE desktop. The installer is fast and fantastic, mostly, although it failed to set my timezone.

Issues found in first five minutes.
Suspends but will not resume. Hibernate fails completely, just bringing up a locked screen message.

On first boot I find that Mepis has set the clock forward three months and some hours, and believes I am in New York.

Five Minute Goodness:
It's fast. Wireless works. Everything works. Mepis provide their own helper applications for configuring the system, and they are mostly good. Nice visuals, from Grub menu, to splash screen, to desktop.

It's KDE and, mostly, it's Debian.

Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

5 Minutes of Knoppix 6.0.1

Hardware: Dell Latitude C610
CPU: Mobile P3 - M 1133MHz
RAM: 256MB
HDD: 20G
Video: ATI Radeon Mobility M6
Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN321G USB, Ralink chipset
LAN: 3Com 3c905c
Audio: Intel 82801CA/CAM AC97

Knoppix 6.0.1
Installation:
Outrageously good. The livecd boots faster than most hdd installs. System booted, installed to hdd, and rebooted to hard drive install in less time than the Fedora livecd required just to get to a login prompt.

Issues found in first five minutes.
The only effect of selecting "Hibernate" is for the wireless connection to drop and then reconnect. Suspends, but then will not resume.

User is able to perform administrative tasks without a password prompt.

By default has repositories enabled for All branches of Debian - unstable, testing, stable, and experimental. Weird.

Five Minute Goodness:
Fast. Damn fast. LXDE with all Compiz Fusion effects enabled is quicker on this system than Gnome with no visual effects was on Fedora & Debian, so you can imagine how bad it makes Ubuntu look. (Hint: bad. Sloooooow).

"Initiating shutdown sequence."

Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing.

Monday, March 02, 2009

5 Minutes of Slackware 12.2

Hardware: Dell Latitude C610
CPU: Mobile P3 - M 1133MHz
RAM: 256MB
HDD: 20G
Video: ATI Radeon Mobility M6
Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN321G USB, Ralink chipset
LAN: 3Com 3c905c
Audio: Intel 82801CA/CAM AC97

Slackware 12.2
Installation:
Text mode installer. I accept all defaults, even re-using the disk layout from previous distro (Fedora 10 - article). This proves to be a mistake because, although the Slackware installer recognises the LVM partition just fine and is happy to use it, Slackware kernel panics on first boot. I run setup again after formatting the drive without LVM, again selecting all defaults (which means installing "everything" and swapping disks twice). All is good.

Issues found in first five minutes.
Suspend fails. I forget to test hibernate. Hey, I'm working for free here. Shut up.

Cannot connect to wlan. Try for almost three minutes before giving up. What do you expect from a five minute test?

Five Minute Goodness:
As expected all devices are detected. Slackware is fast and responsive. Boots to command line - boy does that take me back... Fortunately I haven't forgotten how to type "startx".

Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

5 Minutes of Fedora 10

Hardware: Dell Latitude C610
CPU: Mobile P3 - M 1133MHz
RAM: 256MB
HDD: 20G
Video: ATI Radeon Mobility M6
Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN321G USB, Ralink chipset
LAN: 3Com 3c905c
Audio: Intel 82801CA/CAM AC97

Fedora 10 - Live CD Install
Installation:
Mind-bogglingly slow. Yes, some of you are probably thinking I'd have to be insane to run the livecd from a laptop cdrom in only 256MB of Ram. But it's what I had, so that's what I used. Also, it is possible I am insane. You should probably not rule that out.

I booted from the CD. At the same time I was burning an ISO of Slackware CD1. After burning the Slackware CD, searching for the CD writing Pen (Can never find that damn thing), labelling the CD and finding a CD sleeve (Dammit, they were around here some place) I only had to wait four or five more minutes for the Fedora CD to get to the login screen.

So then I Set Fedora to logging in and went to make a cup of coffee. Finished the coffee, and I am a slow slow coffee drinker, and then sat and waited for the login to finish...

Eventually got to the desktop and clicked the Install link. This prompted a further five to ten minute wait before the installer popped up.

Aside from a few longish delays between screens while the next part loaded the install itself was smooth and efficient and probably quicker than the OpenSuse install. First install I've done to date that defaults to LVM for partitioning.

Issues found in first five minutes.
Hibernate & Suspend both failed. Actually, Hibernate succeeded but xorg crashed and restarted after resume.

Right clicking the CD-Rom drive and selecting "Eject" gives an error "Unable to mount media", exactly as in Debian and Ubuntu. Isn't this a fairly obvious bug to have persist across multiple Gnome versions? (Well, at least two versions).

What's with the ugly progress bar on a black background when booting the system. It looks, well, incomplete.

Add/Remove Software was extremely slow, and only the "All Packages" selection showed any packages - all other categories give "No results were found". Updates to Packagekit fixed this last problem. Speed is still an issue.

Sound card was detected, but no sound. Packagekit frontend hung trying to update pulseaudio and alsa. Killed all packagekit & Yum processes and attempted running Yum from the command line. Yum complained of locks on package database. Rebooted and updated pulseaudio & alsa packages. Still no sound. Time to install something else. Slackware perhaps?

Five Minute Goodness:
As expected all devices detected, although sound did not work. Connected to wireless lan. Mostly felt responsive. Like the wallpaper.

Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

5 Minutes of OpenSuse

Hardware: Dell Latitude C610
CPU: Mobile P3 - M 1133MHz
RAM: 256MB
HDD: 20G
Video: ATI Radeon Mobility M6
Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN321G USB, Ralink chipset
LAN: 3Com 3c905c
Audio: Intel 82801CA/CAM AC97

OpenSuse 10.3 Not the latest, but it's what I had available. What's the point then, you may ask. Shut up, I may respond.
Installation:
Comprehensive. Discovered all Hardware. I had problems with "Addon CD" section, so ended up restarting install and bypassing that part.

Issues found in first five minutes.
Discovered and identified USB wireless device ok, but would not find or connect to the wireless network. Hibernate & Suspend both failed.

Five Minute Goodness:
It's Green from go to woah! No, no, literally green. "Save the planet" - Hah! Like that's going to happen.

It's KDE.

Conclusion:
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

5 Minute Comparison - Ubuntu 8.10 and Debian Lenny

Hardware: Dell Latitude C610
CPU: Mobile P3 - M 1133MHz
RAM: 256MB
HDD: 20G
Video: ATI Radeon Mobility M6
Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN321G USB Ralink chipset (Only had this during the Ubuntu install)
LAN: 3Com 3c905c
Audio: Intel 82801CA/CAM AC97

Debian 5.0 (Lenny)
Installation:
Accepted all defaults. Installed flawlessly. Detected all hardware. KDE installed after with apt-get.

Issues found in first five minutes:
In Gnome right clicking the CD-Rom drive and selecting "Eject" gives an error "Unable to mount media" when there is not a CD in the drive. Typical Brain-deadedness of Gnome.

User is permitted to perform administrative actions without entering a password of any kind. (Typical Windows brain-deadedness, but what the hell is it doing in Debian?) And no, I am not logged in as root.

Default web browser is Epiphany.

Five Minute Goodness:
All hardware works, no fiddling required. Fiddling purely optional. Suspend & Hibernate work. Aside from load times - always a problem with laptop hard drives - Lenny is FAST on this hardware. KDE seems faster than Gnome (menus are more responsive, KDE apps launch quicker than Gnome counterparts and are also more responsive).

Ubuntu 8.10
Installation:
Installer was SLOW to load. Installed flawlessly. Detected all hardware. apt-get dist-upgrade applied approximately 250MB of packages. I did not try KDE on Ubuntu.

Issues found in first five minutes:
Same CD-Rom eject error as Lenny. Suspend fails to resume (Display does not switch back on). Ubuntu is waaaaaay slower than Debian on this hardware, possibly due to all the visual effects. Occasionally notice this weird thing where the application I am working in kind of fades to a sort of background unfocused look for a few seconds, then fades back in and normal service is resumed.

Five Minute Goodness:
All hardware works immediately on first boot. Again, as with Debian, fiddling is entirely optional. But then who doesn't like a good fiddle every now and then. Hibernate works (but not Suspend, as noted above). Attractive visual effects.

Conclusion
This post is way too short for conclusions, as was my testing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Crapware

When did the Adobe Acrobat Reader become an enormously bloated piece of crapware?

I think it must have been sometime around about when they dropped "Acrobat" from the name..

Scene - Adobe board room.
PHB #1: So, let's make the Acrobat Reader an enormously bloated piece of crapware.
PHB #2: Great idea. It'll need a new name though... Something really clever and creative...

Yeah, that's probably what happened.

But why did it take me so long to notice?