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Present Perfect


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 13:08


I'm used to seeing geek shirts. I see them all day at work - GNOME, FSF, thinkgeek shirts. I have a flatmate who is no geek at all but this week he was wearing a pacman shirt. I wear some myself as well. I go to conferences and they're full of them.

But going into the subway and seeing a guy from across the street wearing a GNOME shirt, in plain daylight, without any conference or company nearby, is new to me. I stopped walking for a second, but he was already past me.

If you know who you are, with the black GNOME shirt with "The international desktop" on the back, coming out of the Rocafort metro this morning - say hello next time :)

task #1000

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 23:35


GTD> show 1000
Title: deploy nagios check for bouncer timestamps
Project: ['fsp']
Urgency: 5
Importance: 3
Time: 1:00:00
Start: 2008-04-16 00:00:00

The past week I celebrated task number 1000 since my Getting Things Done conversion.

While it is no magic bullet, GTD certainly has helped me take control over my life's organisation. It has helped make me feel more relaxed at ignoring things that I shouldn't be doing and clear my mind of the things that I should be doing, because I have it all tracked somewhere.

Before, I used to use a simple text file with headers for TODAY, TOMORROW, THIS WEEK, THIS MONTH, SOON, and some other stuff. I went around in it with vi yanking and pasting day after day.

Contrary to other GTD'ers who use 2.0 technology, I have gone decidedly oldskool. After trying out various things I'm using a text client called yagtd

My reasons are simple. First of all, it's fast. I want to make sure I can always add a task easily no matter what I'm doing. I have one terminal which is on every workspace, and the first tab is my GTD window. I just switch to it and add tasks. The second reason is that the data file is a simple text file, with one line per task. This I commit to my Subversion tree, and the first thing I do when I log in to any of my machines (my laptop, my home desktop, or my work desktop) is update that checkout, and possibly merge conflicts.

I've been making some simple patches against yagtd and the author has been incredibly quick at integrating them, quelling all my aspirations of committing the number one hacker's GTD sin: writing your own GTD manager.

Though I wouldn't mind writing a quick GUI to make it easy to re-importantize or re-urgentize tasks :)

All in all, I am going to rank myself with the GTD-yeasayers.


Filed under: General — Thomas @ 09:01


I'm sure smart people have worked on the xdg spec, but the naming of the xdg dirs illustrates one of my pet peeves - choosing directory names that aren't well-thought-out.

Among others, I have Music, Videos, and Pictures.

Pictures is not the worst. I guess it's a little quaint to not be talking about Images instead on a computer, but at least "picture" covers more or less the full range of items it wants to capture.

Videos is not too bad either. The pluralisation makes me puke, but I guess that's a personal dislike.

But against these two, Music is just plain terrible. I'm pretty sure my Bill Hicks albums are in no way Music. Neither are my radio podcasts. Or the audio books that I luckily don't have. Never mind that it's a non-plural word and thus inconsistent with the others.

Elisa is now using the xdg dirs, it seems. It is neither better nor worse than what it had before. I think before it was labeling audio as Music as well, and video as Movies (forgetting the fact that there are also tv series, video clips, camera clips, ...)

I've always done audio/video/image, which seems to me the most straightforward and concise. Some people argue that (while video is fine) audio is too technical. I guess I'm not a usability expert - I would expect any human being that understands the word video to understand the word audio as well, especially when presented in the exact same context.

I guess this is one spec that is going to keep me a grumpy old man for the rest of my Linux days :)

Help me ext2 Software RAID experts

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 21:13


Backdrop for the story - after a weekend or two fiddling with all my power supplies to try and revive my home server, I finally got it back online. Well, sort of. Disk 1 of the software RAID for my vault drives (that have backups of all my stuff) was making strange ticking noises at bootup and the BIOS did not find it.

Well, that' s why I have RAID in the first place, right ? Drives fail, they seem to do so more often now that I have too many of them, and the solution is simple. I get a new drive, replace the broken one, and do a hot add, and there you go.

I've been so good the last year about backups. This drive has dirvish backups of my laptop and my work machine, and it was doing great! I was sure I was never going to lose data again. Now I wasn't so sure anymore.

So I turn off the server, disconnect the vault drives (to make sure that the other one has no chance to start failing), and fly back to Barcelona, where I go drive shopping during the week. No more 400 GB drives to be found, so I get a 500 GB one. (And while I'm at it, I buy the two 1 TB drives I've been trying not to buy for a long time).

Come back home to Brussels, put the drive in, boot, and try to mount the slave from the vault Software RAID. Because that' s the beauty of RAID-1 Software in Linux, isn't it ? Either drive can be mounted on its own just as if it was a normal drive.

Well, except that there was no partition table, and I couldn't mount the drive. Now I was really worried :/

So, data recovery. Let's start with a dd from the old slave to the new 500 GB master drive, so we can try funky partitioning stuff on there. Three hours in, I accidentally made a motherboard box drop from the shelf, and of course it lands right on the slave vault drive, knocking out the power. Oops.

Start over. Meanwhile, learn about gpart, a tool that scans your drive for partition information. Let that run for three hours, finds absolutely nothing. Nothing. (The smart ones among you have already figured out how stupid I am by now). I'm starting to get really worried.

With half the dd done, I run fdisk on the master (which has the copy) and partition the drive, then try to mount the partition. Still no go. It says I should try and find an alternate superblock. I try some numbers, but nothing works. I start to get really worried.

Google some more, and find a tool called scandrive. I compile it, run it, and limit to the first few sectors:

[root@onzenbak ~]# ./scandrive -v /dev/hdd -C 100
scandrive v1.00 (2002/02/01) - steve@unixwiz.net
I/O buffer: 256 sectors of 512 bytes
Device /dev/hdd is open (capacity = 100 sectors)
Loop 0: scanning sector 0 ( 0.00%)...
Found ext2 magic at sector 2 (size 97677824, #0)
Finished scanning.

What the ? There's an ext2 magic string right at the beginning.

And then it hit me. Doh, was I really that stupid ? Wait, shouldn't I have config for the software RAID in the first place ?

[root@onzenbak ~]# cat /etc/mdadm.conf
# these devices can be used as part of RAID arrays
DEVICE /dev/hdc /dev/hdd

# md0 is our mirrored RAID partition made from our two drives
ARRAY /dev/md0 devices=/dev/hdc,/dev/hdd

Yeah, now I remember that time in my life where I thought partitioning was a waste of space, and I might just as well use the drive directly.

So now I know why I should not do that - I have a 400 GB drive and a 500 GB drive in my machine, and I should create a second partition on the bigger drive so I have some 100 GB of extra useful disk space.

So, here's the question to you smart people: how can I fix up my /dev/hdd (the 400 GB drive) to have its ext3 file system inside a partition ? And can I then just simply change the devices line to use hdc1 and hdd1 ? How do I get this right without losing data ?

Codeina is rocking the boat

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 15:36


"It takes fewer steps to set up multi-media on Mandriva. Applications that need codecs, such as Totem, now pop up a dialog allowing a choice between GStreamer codecs or commercial codecs via Fluendo. I kept choosing GStreamer, and managed to get nearly everything running except DVD playback. In the end I turned (as always) to VLC and and libdvdcss2."

At least the codeina part of that sentence is exactly what we are aiming for - making it easy for people to install the codecs, and giving them a choice between our Fluendo codecs and the possibly more dubious but Free Software versions. Too bad of course that the user had to resort to VLC for dvd playback, but hey, that's a problem to solve some other day.

Codeina was first integrated in a distribution in Fedora 8 (to much rejoice from users who wanted MP3 playback), and now Mandriva has picked up the latest release that integrates, among other things, external repository files.

Kudos to Mandriva on their new release! Any other distribution that wants to integrate codeina and needs help, feel free to contact us or drop by in #codeina on freenode.

P.S.: Anyone referring to this project with the inane name of "CodecBuddy" will still receive the cold shoulder as before.

UPDATE: Reinout asked for the original post.

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