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Saturday, September 28 2013


As you might guess a guy like me ought to be, I'm absolutely compulsive about avoiding data loss. I provide an off-site backups service for my clients, and of course I take backups of my own stuff to the same server upon which I keep client data, and I keep another external drive sync'd with the most important stuff from my workstation. But that's not enough because I need off-site backups for my own data, too. I also need to keep a few devices synchronized. But I can't use the most popular services because they don't provide the level of security that I demand, the same level I provide for my clients.

Enter Wuala. It's similar to Google Drive and Dropbox, but with one very vital distinction: It's encrypted end-to-end, not just in transit. That means that the good folks of Wuala can't get at my data. It's mine. They won't be indexing my data to figure out which ads to serve to me. Someone getting hold of the files I've stored there, which are encrypted, won't be reading them any time soon.

The synchronization service ensures that my netbook has the files I consider most important on my workstation, up to date, when I hit the road. Any work I do while away is already on my workstation when I get back to the office -- no more fooling around with USB sticks, no more rsync'ing to get everything caught up. I just keep the Wuala client running, and the rest happens automagically.

And they give up 5GB of storage for free.

If you need something like that, give Wuala a try.

→ committed: 9/28/2013 00:34:38

[ / internet] permanent link

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Thursday, June 20 2013

Gnome3 Sucks

Hoping you'll pardon me for going off on a bit of a rant here...

I was recently compelled to upgrade my workstation from Debian GNU/Linux 6 to 7 ("Wheezy"). I'd gone along happily for years with Gnome2 and Compiz. Compiz was removed from Debian Wheezy for what may or may not be perfectly valid reasons, and Gnome3 replaces Gnome2. I was unhappy about both of these things, but I've got Gnome3 on my netbook and haven't yet thrown it out the window so it seemed worthy of an open minded trial.

The trial lasted all of one evening. Gnome3 sucks. I could not get past the feeling that Gnome3 is just about what Windows For Workgroups 3.11 would have become if the interface paradigm were not abandoned. Please allow me to explain:

There's more ...

→ committed: 6/20/2013 17:54:56

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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Friday, May 24 2013

AVX for Android

I'm really not a phone nerd, but the ability to carry a client for my server monitoring system in my pocket wherever I go makes the phone an essential device for my business.

That said: If you need or want a Siri-like application for your Android phone, just get AVX. Really. It's the best there is and just getting better.

There's more ...

UPDATE 2015/02/10:
I really hate to say it, but AVX falls flat on its face in Android 5.n Lollipop and it appears that the developer has lost interest in the project. It's a real shame, as AVX still would do far more than Google Now and I hate being without it, but whatcha gonna do?

I'll update again if the developer gets AVX debusticated.

→ committed: 5/24/2013 14:59:00

[ / technology / miscellany] permanent link

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Wednesday, May 22 2013

More Web Hosting Frustrations: Solved

About four months ago I wrote about some web hosting frustration I was enduring that was resolved in part by moving from one outfit to another. In discussion with my client then, I explained that my perspective of web hosting providers is that they're like white athletic socks — when you get tired of them falling down, you get new. They'll be great for a while, but it's just a matter of time before they're falling down. I could be jaded by too many unsatisfactory experiences with too many web hosting providers.

I recently acquired a new client who was tired of their web host falling down all the time. The web hosting provider in question is the one that the client from January moved to in order to escape frustration. Yes indeed, web hosting providers are like white athletic socks.

There's more ...

→ committed: 5/21/2013 21:00:12

[ / system_admin] permanent link

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Wednesday, March 20 2013

Blacklisted! Follow-up

Some time ago I wrote the first three of what was to be a four part series, and eventually I'll get around to part four. Today, though, I just want to do a little follow-up so we can all see how well getting our stuff in order can work.

If you've read those prior articles, you might remember this image from August of last year:

Sender Score Initial Recovery

What's happened since then? This:

Sender Score Final Recovery

The bulk mail is still going out as two campaigns per week, but we've trimmed out about a quarter of the recipient addresses. Whereas it was a list of over 40,000 addresses a year ago, it's about 31,500 addresses today. None of them spamtraps, all of them deliverable. And with a Sender Score of 99, it's probably a safe bet that those messages are not being automatically filtered as bulk by the mail service providers, so they're actually getting in front of human users.

I'm going to call it a win now.

→ committed: 3/19/2013 18:02:26

[ / e-commerce / bulkmail] permanent link

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Sunday, February 03 2013

Curses::UI::Notebook Page Delete Bug, Part Two

Just a while ago I wrote about a bug in Curses::UI::Notebook delete_page. Well, shucks, I found another. This one will puke up the error The notebook already has a page named... whatever previously used and then deleted name you've chosen.

This bug manifests itself as widget (page) objects not actually being removed from the UI::Curses::Container object by UI::Curses::Notebook. The page/tab disappears but the object itself hangs around, so if you try to reuse the name your application dies. To duplicate:

There's more ...

→ committed: 2/3/2013 01:56:00

[ / perl_programming] permanent link

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Curses::UI::Notebook Delete Page Bug

The Problem: Curses::UI::Notebook delete_page() crashes the application.


  use strict;
  use Curses::UI;

  my $ui = Curses::UI->new();

  my $win = $ui->add('win1', 'Window',
    -border => 0,
    -y      => 0,
    -bfg    => 'blue',

  my $notebook = $win->add(undef, 'Notebook');

  my $p1 = $notebook->add_page('Page 1');
  $p1 -> add(undef, 'Label',
    -x    => 1,
    -y    => 1,
    -text => "This is Page One",

  my $p2 = $notebook->add_page('Page 2');
  $p2 -> add(undef, 'Label',
    -x    => 1,
    -y    => 1,
    -text => "This is Page Two",

  # Now the fun part:
    sub {
  # What we expect to happen is that five seconds into runtime, the
  # currently active page will disappear.
  # What ACTUALLY happens is that the application crashes.

  $ui->set_binding( sub { $ui->mainloopExit() }, "\cQ" );


Never mind the use of the undocumented features set_timer() and delete_timer() for now. I'll 'splain 'em momentarily. They're very handy. I'm a source code reading fool but if you haven't seen it yet I'll save you the bother. First, though:

There's more ...

→ committed: 2/2/2013 19:03:50

[ / perl_programming] permanent link

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Tuesday, January 29 2013

Web Hosting Provider Support

It has been an interesting few days here in The Office Where Really Cool Things Happen. I wrote a stripped down, bare bones, just shy of a shopping cart application for a client who doesn't actually sell online. No payment card processing, no quantities, no options, just an opportunity to request samples and/or quotes for products. It was great fun writing it. More fun than it should have been, probably, but every now and then it's nice to take on a simple little job and do really well at it because it's so simple and so small.

Then the interesting but not in a good way part came: Making it run on the client's virtual server at a strange place that shall not be named. This hosting provider has the usual cPanel thing, and advertises that SSH access is available and root access can be provided on request. I really shouldn't need either, though I do prefer SSH so I can use scp rather than FTP or some silly web based uploader. scp is more secure, more convenient, and faster for a command-line guy like me. Eh, if I can get it I'll appreciate it, if not I'll be quite content to appreciate that I've got a happy client. But if it were that darn easy I'd not have a story to tell.

There's more ...

UPDATE 2013/01/29: Resolution Is At Hand!

It appears that the stunning incompetence of the virtual server provider will end this story with a move to another host. The decision was based on the projection that it would be faster to move everything than to convince the current outfit to simply add one or two lines of text to an Apache virtual host configuration file.

This doesn't look at all like the 21st century we were promised when LBJ was in the White House! At least we got the tiny portable phones. :-)

UPDATE 2013/01/30: Well, Almost...

Today's news is that the new provider has thrown up a different set of hurdles.

  1. The account's cPanel doesn't include a Perl module installer.
  2. The account didn't come with SSH access at all but they did reconfigure for it, so in theory I can login and install the needed modules from the command line. I prefer that anyway.
  3. BUT there was a firewall in the way, and they had to reconfigure that.
  4. THEN SSH public key authentication failed.
  5. THEN their support folks told me that it was because I didn't have the corresponding private key on my workstation. I do, though, and it's the sixth or seventh in a series of workstations the same darn key has been on.
  6. SO... I went in via cPanel and fixed that problem. Newer versions of SSH servers don't look for the file authorized_keys2 any more because support for it was deprecated in the year 2001. I copied it to authorized_keys and logged in just fine. Once there I blew away the misnamed file then hard linked the name to the authorized_keys file just to keep that problem from biting in the future.
  7. NOW my module installation fails because the user I can login as doesn't have permission to use the gcc compiler.
  8. AND it apparently requires someone more deific than the front line support personnel to decide whether or not I can be trusted with a compiler.

I can work around that silliness easily enough, but first I have to create a 32 bit environment with appropriate versions of things. I'd rather not have to go to so much bother, but as they say in the movies, "a man's got to do what a man's got to do".

→ committed: 1/28/2013 20:28:12

[ / system_admin] permanent link

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Monday, January 28 2013

Right On, Newegg!

All I can say is "Right On, Newegg!"

→ committed: 1/28/2013 04:04:05

[ / e-commerce] permanent link

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