Posts in Category: Tech

Bye-Bye Google Reader

So its not news that Google has decided to discontinue the Reader service. I was hoping that the “will of the internet” would reverse the decision by Google and they would keep the service that many thousands still use. So far this hasn’t happened and rumour has it that the Google Overlords are not bending .

I know that the days of RSS are numbered but I really like it so I’m not letting it go easily. The common response I get when I ask for a suggestion to replace RSS is “Twitter”. I tried using Twitter but it really isn’t the same and I haven’t been able to use it as effectively as Reader… Where Twitter seems to be fine for following the news and news-like sites, it falls down when trying to follow personal blogs which are updated infrequently… just like mine. I have been told by a number of people that they likely won’t read this blog once Reader dies because I don’t post enough (and I know I don’t, so there is no dispute).

So the point to all this rambling is a question. What are you doing for RSS now that Reader is going the way of the dodo?

I started exploring new services that have popped up in an attempt to fill the void but I haven’t found anything that really works well. Feedly seems to be pretty good so far and is improving all the time so I’m giving it a shot with varied success.

I’d love to hear what you are using or if you are just giving up on the idea of RSS altogether.

Hope things are well on your end.

Tech Note: Change Mac Home/End keys to behave like Windows Home/End keys

So in Windows-land you can use home/end to move to the beginning or end of a line. This is “normal” for me as I was a Windows user forever.

Well the Mac has to be “different” and the behaviour of the keys moves you to the beginning or end of the file. Well, apparently after years of trying my brain will not remap the difference, so I have figured out (with the power of the internet) how to change the mapping to work with my brain.

Here is how you make the change:

  1. Open a terminal
  2. go to your profile library directory:
    cd ~/Library
  3. create the directory (if it doesn’t exist):
    mkdir KeyBindings
  4. move into this new directory:
    cd KeyBindings
  5. edit this file (vi will create it if it doesn’t exist):
    vi DefaultKeyBinding.dict
  6. paste in the following:
    /* Remap Home / End  */
    “\UF729″ = “moveToBeginningOfLine:”; /* Home */
    “\UF72B” = “moveToEndOfLine:”; /* End */
    “$\UF729″ = “moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:”; /* Shift + Home */
    “$\UF72B” = “moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:”; /* Shift + End */
  7. save the file by typing in:
    :wq (yes you type : then wq) hit return
  8. restart your applications which you want to recognize the change

Now by default your applications will do the ‘right’ thing. I can’t believe that there is no way to remap this in the graphical interface, but apparently Apple doesn’t want us to have nice things.

Mac OS X (10.7) Spotlight and Outlook 2011

So, Outlook uses Spotlight to index all of it’s items for search functionality. The folks at Microsoft have implemented a terrible and lazy hack to leverage the functionality of Spotlight, but I won’t get into that here. Instead I just wanted to post a solution to a problem that I had starting today.

For some reason Spotlight stopped reading my Microsoft User Data folder (located in Documents in my home profile) and as such I could not get my tasks to show up in Outlook anymore, nor could I search my inbox at all. It seemed as though the tasks had just disappeared all together and nothing I did could bring them back. Normally for weird problems in Outlook, you can clear the local folder cache, resync and things just work again; not this time. So because Spotlight indexing had ceased on the folder containing Outlook data, Outlook didn’t think there were any tasks to display, even though they were there on the drive.

Okay, so now I understand the problem a little more, the fix is pretty simple.

Open a command line prompt and issue the command:

sudo mdutil -i on -E /

This forces the Spotlight indexing engine to reindex the whole drive and clean up any irregularities (e.g. not indexing a particular folder as seen above). After the indexing finished, the tasks reappeared in their rightful place and all is well.

Hope this helps someone else and saves them the over 2 hours of trouble shooting I had to go through.

Tech Note – Mac won’t sleep – OS X 10.7 Lion

Hey all,

Somewhat technical problem I ran into after upgrading to Lion. For some reason my machine stopped sleeping and nothing I had tried seemed to help. Keep in mind fixing it at this point just had me restarting the machine and playing around in the process list.

I found this article: which helped.

In case the above article doesn’t work after a while, the jist of it was to run the following command:

pmset -g assertions

After running the command you’re given some output that should look similar to the following:

11-12-12 7:30:58 PM PST
Assertion status system-wide:
   ChargeInhibit                           0
   PreventUserIdleDisplaySleep             0
   PreventUserIdleSystemSleep              0
   NoRealPowerSources_debug                0
   CPUBoundAssertion                       0
   EnableIdleSleep                         1
   PreventSystemSleep                      1
   DisableInflow                           0
   DisableLowPowerBatteryWarnings          0
   ExternalMedia                           0

Listed by owning process:
  pid 71: [0x0000012c00000047] PreventSystemSleep named: "" 

Kernel Assertions: 0x0012
 * Kernel Assertion ID = 500
   Created At = 69-12-31 4:04:45 PM PST
   Modified At = 11-12-12 8:26:01 AM PST
   Owner ID = 0xffffff800bef1000
   Level = 0
   Assertions Set = None (4)

 * Kernel Assertion ID = 501
   Created At = 11-12-11 10:48:19 PM PS
   Modified At = 69-12-31 4:00:00 PM PST
   Owner ID = 0xffffff806b4e4000
   Level = 0
   Assertions Set = None (4)

 * Kernel Assertion ID = 502
   Created At = 11-12-11 10:48:19 PM PS
   Modified At = 11-12-11 10:57:42 PM PS
   Owner ID = 0xffffff806b4ea000
   Level = 0
   Assertions Set = None (4)

 * Kernel Assertion ID = 503
   Created At = 11-12-11 10:48:19 PM PS
   Modified At = 11-12-11 10:57:17 PM PS
   Owner ID = 0xffffff806b4e7000
   Level = 255
   Assertions Set = None (4)

 * Kernel Assertion ID = 504
   Created At = 11-12-11 10:48:19 PM PS
   Modified At = 69-12-31 4:00:00 PM PST
   Owner ID = 0xffffff806b4ed000
   Level = 0
   Assertions Set = None (4)

 * Kernel Assertion ID = 505
   Created At = 11-12-11 11:00:03 PM PS
   Modified At = 69-12-31 4:00:00 PM PST
   Owner ID = 0xffffff800e928800
   Level = 255
   Assertions Set = None (8)

 * Kernel Assertion ID = 506
   Created At = 11-12-11 11:00:27 PM PS
   Modified At = 69-12-31 4:00:00 PM PST
   Owner ID = 0xffffff800f07f400
   Level = 255
   Assertions Set = None (8)

For me it turned out an ethernet port sharing tool was running constantly. Having disabled the service my machine is running fine again.

This might not be the same reason for you not getting your machine to sleep. Just look for the error line near the top of the output or you can grep for the info with the following command:

pmset -g assertions|grep -i sleep

Which will return with:

EnableIdleSleep                         1
PreventSystemSleep                      1

pid 71: [0x0000012c00000047] PreventSystemSleep named: “”

Hope this helps out. Send email me if you have any questions about this.

Oh and beside the sleep issue, this upgrade was flawless.


NFS and Mac OS 10.6

Well this has been an interesting adventure in nerd-land. I’ve been trying to get my Macs here at home to connect to the new fileserver that I have built. Now everyone should be able to talk to one another over NFS.

NFS is a common protocol which isn’t difficult to setup or administer and because it is basic it doesn’t require the same kind of overhead that SSHFS does. I have used SSHFS in the past to great success because it is really easy to get going; you don’t need a server daemon running or anything complicated.

The downside of SSHFS is overhead of processing the SSH layer encryption. On the old hardware I’m running right now it is significant and can actually bring the machine down to a crawl. So in the interest in performance, I have opted to move away from the easy option and set things up properly.

NFS between Linux hosts is super easy to get going but getting it working on the Mac has been a lot more tricky. I haven’t spent a ton of time working on it this week but definitely more than a few hours of reading has been put in. I’m just glad that it is now working to an acceptable level and I’m able to get a solution deployed today.

OSX 10.6 has moved where you configure the mount to the Disk Utility. It has a nice gui and it makes the mounting easy.

When you add your mount, make sure that you add “nolock,locallock” into the “Advanced” field along with whatever other options you specify.

Currently my “Advanced” options are: rw,noatime,proto=tcp,vers=3,nolocks,locallocks

So far this is working and working pretty well. I’m getting about 25-30MB/s consistently and that is fast enough for now. I’ll be looking into the tuning options for the server itself in hopes of increasing the throughput from all my hosts as they all seem to be limited to about 30MB a second.

Well thats a project for another time.

Hope that someone else might find this useful.


Cyber War

I just watched a short video (27 min) of a talk Bruce Schneier gave at IIEA and thought I would try and get it out to other people.

He talks about an issue that we are all hearing so much about in the media. Cyber War is something that we see in the press bantered about like it is a real thing that is happening right now, when in fact, it really isn’t a real event at all. The definition of “war” has not been met when the politicians and media start using the term.

Give this video a watch as I really think Bruce Schneier explains the issue well without getting into the technical aspects.

Future of the IT Security Industry


New iPad – now officially an Apple fan boy…

When I started my new job my boss said I could have an ipad or a laptop, and as you know, I really don’t need another device of any kind… So I chose an iPad of course!

What a cool device. I’m enjoying it so far and it is letting me do the things that I want With little trouble. I think that time will tell about how useful this is going to be for work but for me personally I am finding it really fun :)

So with the addition of is new gadget I think that I have qualified as an Apple fan boy even though I really do hate most of the business machine behind the products and the way they lock you in… It is fun though!

Google Chrome – the new(ish) browser

So I’ve been getting told by friends for a while that I “must” try Chrome because it’s great and wonderful and stuff. Well a couple of months ago I started installing it on my machines and using it from time to time. My first introduction to the browser didn’t leave me thinking “wow I must use that because it’s so much better than Firefox” so I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about changing browsers. There was also the issue that because it was new when I saw it, plugins that I used in Firefox hadn’t been ported over yet; this made a change impossible at the time as I must have Adblock (and you might also want it) for my browsing experience.

Anyway, the plugins are built and I have had time to use it. I can’t say that it’s a bad browser by any stretch but I don’t honestly know what it is offering me that Firefox doesn’t. They both seem just as fast as each other and they both seem to render pages the same. It’s good though with it’s mimimalistic interface so thats a plus; it stays out of the way.

So I guess I would recommend it to you if you are looking for a change, but if Firefox does it for you then, stick with that.

Unless I’m wrong and there is something big that I’m missing here… anyone?

Install it with Alien

I found this article online about an interesting concept I’ve been interested in before. Basically in the Linux world there are a lot of different distributions and sometimes a software developer will only write a version for one distro but it could be useful for something I’m trying to get to work.

Well this could be interesting for those times when i can’t get the source. The authors caution against using it for core components, but I could see this for some of the weird things I sometimes need to accomplish for the ol’media pc at home…

Anyways, good read here:

Alien – Use Any Package On Any Distribution | Linux Journal.