Older blog entries for pipeman (starting at number 44)

The Big Bang Theory

I started watching The Big Bang Theory, a TV-series centred around a few geeks and a hot girl. It's quite humorous at times, and quite stereotypical all the time. In the second episode, they are trying to assemble an IKEA media centre piece and one of the guys says "this is why Sweden has no space program". Of course, as the resident expatriate Swede I have to set the record straight: Sweden has had a space program for 35 years (if not even longer). It's certainly not big or anything, but at least it's something. :-) Nowadays they're even dabbling with commercial space flight - we'll see how that turns out.

26 Oct 2007 (updated 26 Oct 2007 at 13:20 UTC) »
Mac essentials

A friend of mine has been bugging me to compile a list of Mac software so that he can start using his own Mac properly. So I thought I'll just jot down a few programs that I find make life with Mac bearable, in no particular order.

  • Adium X is the most elegant instant messaging software ever. Comes with Growl integration, of course.
  • For web browsing, Safari 3 is very usable and has all the essential features I need including tabbed browsing and type-as-you-find (Mac stylee) plus some other neat goodies such as a sweet DOM inspector and universally resizable text fields (so that I don't have to put up with Advogatos very very small textarea for writing this blog post), although I still have Firefox lying around for stupid sites that won't work with Safari (Gmail's chat, for example).
  • For Safari: Inquisitor turns the Safari search field into a real-time search/suggestion thingy
  • Also for Safari, be sure to install GrowlSafari to get Growl integration with Safari. This, for example, lets me have important RSS feeds in the bookmark bar, and get Growl notifications when they are updated
  • VLC for watching videos
  • QuickTime XviD Component - so that you can watch those downl^H^H^H^H^Hmovies ripped from legally obtained DVDs, in Front Row (tip: Front Row follows symlinks; so if you download your movies to a location - say /Volumes/BigDisk - other than ~/Movies, just ln -s /Volumes/BigDisk ~/Movies/ and you'll be able to navigate to them in Front Row)
  • On the same theme, you'll also most likely need A52Codec to get some audio stimuli from those movies as well
  • For BitTorrent, I use Azureus (with the classic UI). Yes, it is a resource hog, but it is also very feature-rich. In Azureus, I use the plugin RSSFeed Scanner to subscribe to RSS feeds with interesting torrents, so it will generally download everything I'm interested in automatically.
  • QuickSilver is another integral part of any modern Mac. It lets you launch applications with just Ctrl- Space and the first few letters of the application name. Sleek and handy. It can also do a gazillion of other things that I've never bothered to learn about.
  • Growl is one of these tiny additions that just extends OS X in a natural way. In itself it doesn't do much, but it gives other applications a method of giving notifications of important events in an elegant way.
  • If you like me use last.fm a lot, then you will want iScrobbler, that is a bit more lightweight than the official last.fm client. Also, it gives you neat Growl integration of iTunes
  • For the UNIX and Linux inclined, there is of course a whole world of good stuff. A good start is to install the X11 application that comes with Mac OS X, and then install Fink or MacPorts (personally, I prefer Fink because of apt-get goodness).
  • Google Earth is a good time waster (but why isn't there a full screen mode?)
  • For coding I use Aquamacs Emacs - however, since I moved over from my old PPC Mac Mini a new Intel iMac, it refuses to shut down properly, so I have to kill -9 it manually. I have yet to investigate it, though, since normally, once I launch Emacs, it stays up until it's time to reboot the computer some week later.
  • To keep track of my computer resource usage, I use MenuMeters
  • To keep track of my computer's IP adress, I use DynDNS and the corresponding DynDNS Dashboard widget
  • For backup, I've used Jungle Disk and Amazon S3, although I am currently considering other options due to a few bugs in the exclusion logic in the Jungle Disk backup feature

That was the ones I could come up with from the top of my head. Well, naturally I have lots of other programs installed (hundreds of them being regular Unix tools coming from Fink such as ethereal, nmap and tcpdump for network monitoring and troubleshooting), but these are the most important ones. The only game I play is basically the old Command & Conquer Generals, which Aspyr was nice enough to release an Intel update to, so it plays nicely also on my new iMac. Most of the time I spend in OS X's own Terminal application, running irssi or messing around with shell scripts or other coding stuff (another tip: command-double click on a URL in Terminal opens it in a browser).

8 Jul 2007 (updated 8 Jul 2007 at 03:45 UTC) »
Vacation mac-on-mac-on-linux

My vacation has started. Of course, that means sitting up all night getting red-eyed making random hacks. Pretty much the same stuff as usual, that is.

I've found myself booting into Linux on my Mac at home more often nowadays. Ubuntu 7.04 does quite a good job on my PPC Mac Mini. I noticed that IBM has a JDK for PPC - and it was even available in some repository through apt. My two biggest annoyances to date: Flash and no Compiz or Beryl. The open-source Flash implementation that is what you'll have to live with if you're on PPC (Macromedia hasn't released a PPC version of their own player) can't play YouTube videos (which is possibly the most important job for Flash on my computer) and seems to crash the browser occasionally. Also, web sites that tries to figure out whether you have Flash installed or not, tend to think that you don't. As to Compiz/Beryl, I've become so used to having wobbling windows at work, so when I sit at a Linux desktop without any desktop effects, it feels all stiff and, well, boring. It's like rounded corners: it just makes things feel more natural. I did in fact get some wobbliness out of SUSE 10.1 for PPC, however, the graphics drivers were pretty messy and my screen ended up with the colours inverted. I eventually gave up, after many hours of X configuration file editing.

Another annoyance is the lack of write support for journaled HFS+ filesystems, which is what most of my disks are formatted in. I currently haven't yet figured out a good filesystem that works reliably in both Linux and Mac. I have lots of media files that I want to access from both environments, and that doesn't work out too well. Now, I haven't checked up on the ext2/ext3 support in Mac OS for a few months, but last time I checked, there was an ext2 filesystem driver for OS X that worked OK, except that it seemed to often fail to unmount the filesystem cleanly, and then refusing to mount it on subsequent reboots (as it was dirty and there was no fsck). For now, I've been using HFS+ for my big media disk - I can at least safely read from it - we'll see if I totally mess it up if I try writing to it. For my portable hard disk, I've even used NTFS (since I need to mount it in Windows and it needs to store virtual machine images of several gigabytes, so FAT32 is a no-go) and when needed used ntfs-3g to mount it in both Linux and OS X. Very slow, but works for dropping files back and forth.

2 May 2007 (updated 2 May 2007 at 20:01 UTC) »

Late last week, one of my pet spare-time-projects at work finally got the green lights, so now my team also has its own weblog and not just the fancy research & response guys downstairs. Of course, in the end it's just yet another corporate blog, but it's nice to be able to talk more directly to the Linux community through a blog, in a not-so-PR- controlled way. One other really neat thing is that our managers agreed to release our Rescue CD as a free (as in beer, not speech - but still) download - which is a minimal bootable Linux with a simple text-mode menu that lets you scan and disinfect a virus-infested Windows system.

Lots more fun stuff going on, but I'll save that for later. Today I'm still recovering from heavy Vappu celebrations.



My coworker Juha posted this meme that I thought would make for a nice waste of time:

  1. Open your music library in appropriate media program (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc).
  2. Put it on random.
  3. Press play.
  4. For every question, type the song that’s playing.
  5. When you go to a new question, press the “next” button
  6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool

  • Opening Credits: Egotrippi - Älä Koskaan Ikinä
  • Waking Up: Stina Nordernstam - Hopefully Yours
  • First day at school: Björk - Human Behaviour
  • Falling in love: Kent - Stoppa Mig Juni (Lilla Ego)
  • Fight song: Regina Spektor - Us
  • Breaking Up: Dashboard Confessional - Reason To Believe
  • Prom: Fireside - All criminals are us
  • Life is Good: The Knife - Listen now
  • Mental Breakdown: The Corrs - Love To Love You
  • Driving: Skumdum - Självupptagen
  • Flashback: Sahara Hotnights - I Know Exactly What to Do
  • Getting Back Together: Zen Café - Lohdutan sua
  • Wedding: Something Corporate - Drunk Girl
  • Paying the Dues:Teddybears sthlm - Start at 11 (feat. eagle-eye cherry)
  • The Night Before War: Green Day - Letterbomb
  • Final Battle: I am Kloot - Loch
  • Moment of Triumph: I am Kloot - Proof
  • Death Scene: Apulanta - Kalamiehen Toveri
  • Funeral Song: Foo Fighters - Weenie Beenie
  • End Credits: Saint Etienne - Avenue

Not half bad, I thought it would get more embarrasing. :-) It'll be interesting to see who kisses the drunk girl at my wedding - and of course I've never been to a prom, but it'd be a hell of a prom if it would be accompanied by Fireside.

Pictured: the shoreline at Hernesaarenranta near where I live looked absolutely gorgeous when I walked home from work this week, with its big ice blocks that have been pushed up to land. Unfortunately my digital camera doesn't work so this shot by my mediocre cell phone camera will have to do. It anyway reminded me once again why I want to live close to the sea.

Quite useless information

Interesting to note that even Macs have cosmetic bugs. In this case, some bug is triggered the first time a Preview window is minimized, but not the subsequent minimizations. I'm surprised I haven't seen it earlier - of course, maybe it just hasn't happened before. It reproduced on a newly-created account on the same machine, though.

Minimized Preview window looks ugly:

Minimized Preview window looks cute:

7 Mar 2007 (updated 8 Mar 2007 at 01:12 UTC) »
403 forbidden

Why does my XML-RPC calls to Advogato return "403 Forbidden" suddenly? Have I been naughty?

Update: Not anymore.

By the way, the JS-Kit instant-comment-functionality-sniplet is cool, I added it to my both my blog-like sites. Hey, this Internet thing is maybe here to stay after all.


The problem with finding a nice cozy-spot in your own home, is that you might never want to leave it.

16 Dec 2006 (updated 16 Dec 2006 at 00:24 UTC) »
Again I'm staying a bit too late at the office, compensating for some overly late "mornings" as well as doing some experimental work that's not scheduled for during my normal working hours. I brushed off my mad DHTML skills and made some fancy dynamic web page stuff for our internal test systems, just to realize as I was nearing completion, that the snazzy new features didn't work at all in Internet Explorer. Luckily, Internet Explorer is not widely used here, but it is a sort of annoying feeling. I was all happy-happy-joy-joy when I tried to use document.all in Javascript (it was many years since I made any serious Javascript effort), and Firefox politely informed that the W3C-conformant way of doing what I was trying to do, was to call the document.getElementById() function. So I was lured into the delusion that I was actually doing some bad-ass cross-browser stuff. But of course I wasn't. Humbled, I went back to replacing myself with little shell scripts here and there.

Again, I asked the travel planner on how to get home -- I have now moved to the city, so the walk home is not quite as long anymore. Nevertheless, even an half-hour walk is less than tempting now. I found it interesting to note the similarities and differences in the route suggested by the travel planner, and the route I used during the summer when going to work by bike.
(Oops -- I noticed that when using inline images, they may easily overflow into the previous post on the Advogato recent blog entries page. Not very polite of me.)
24 Mar 2006 (updated 24 Mar 2006 at 04:17 UTC) »

Things that are not optimal in Helsinki: public transportation during night time. The otherwise excellent travel planner politely suggests that I take a brisk two-hour walk to get home.

I have actually done that, once. It is really not fun to walk for over two hours in -10 degrees in the middle of the night. I'm not lucky enough to be able to ski to the office, either, althogh I doubt I would have enjoyed that more...

As I'm sort of stuck here -- after yesterday's night out with the people from Jolly Dragon (as seen on TV!) I'm not in a position to spend € 20 on a taxi ride home -- I've been trying to figure out a nice way to spend this time, and thought I'd might as well update this diary, that has been largely ignored since my move from Sweden to Finland.

A stranger(?) called saksa2000 added me as a contact on Flickr. That's always nice, but as the ever so modest person I am, I was left puzzled as to how and why this person wanted to be my Flickr contact. Clicking through his profile, I landed on his blog - Düsseldorfin Sanomat. Much to my surprise, he had discovered one of my Google Videos. I made it, and a few others just as meaningless, when I had discovered iMovie on my mac. When I uploaded the movies to Google Video, I thought of them as a little embarrasing but possibly cute, as my first attempt of any kind of video editing. But I did not link to them from anywere -- I sent the Google Video links to my sister but not to anyone else -- so I really didn't expect anyone at all to notice them. Consequently, surprise was felt, when I checked the Google Video statistics for my videos, and saw over a thousand views of the four videos there -- halv of them to the "Morning has broken" video. Feel free to check them out for yourself, but as I said, they are a bit nonsensical and embarassing, so don't blame me if you feel cheated afterwards.

Totally unrelated, I have now worked with the Linux team at F-Secure for almost 10 months. We develop anti-virus software with real-time scanning, centralized management, integrity verification and more for desktops and servers as well as an anti-virus proxy. As a quality engineer (which is F-Secure speak for "tester"), much of my work is focused on test automation, so there's a lot of scripting and framework-building going on to get each build tested on a wide variety of platforms as thoroughly as possible. It has been -- and will hopefully continue to be -- a great time, and I think we have a really good team going here. We are a small but rather tight team with fast and open communication. It is a big difference for me, who has mainly worked as a consultant during my career, to work for a software vendor. It is very nice to be able to work with some longer-term perspectives, in contrast to the time-is-money mentality when you are a consultant.

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