just another web log

26 Feb 2010 23:21
"This is not a question of personal freedom, social interaction or fear of
hackers, this is economics. How long before the data is mined and will they
tap your vein."
I should write a book...
22 Feb 2010 21:43
How nice is KMail ?
Considering how many years I have been using it (8+) I did think it was quite nice. Always seemed to have all the functions I needed and allowed me to do off the beaten track things like JavaPopper
Things started to go a bit slow, which is very unusual for my gentoo machine, in fact at one point the hard drive would not stop, everything hung and I could not ssh in.
On rebooting I started up all my terminals and kmail and xchat and ... hmm kmail is churning a lot. Kmail is still quite unresponsive. A quick renice got me off the hook for another melt down and once kmail had calmed down I deleted 40,000 messages out of my spamassassin folder.
Bare in mind all those emails were training spamassassin not mis-tag any messages. Restarted kmail and everything has been fine since. But it has got me thinking.
Of course the problem with using one email client for eight plus years is that the mail just builds up and up. It appears that 50,000 mails in one folder, plus large amounts spread over 20+ folders is just a little too much for old kmail.
I have started investigation into moving to thunderbird the mozilla foundations email client.
18 Feb 2010 21:58
Mr BagofSpoons recently mentioned reading ebooks on a smart phone and I realised this would alleviate my issues with print media.
So off I trotted to the
Android app store/market to find the search function had been removed. Rather than use the phones market place app I turned to http://uk.androlib.com and began my quest.
Now to me, ebooks equals either proprietary binary/DRM infested file formats such as the Kindle uses or PDF (Portable Document Format). Although there were a fair few results in a search for "PDF", only a few were readers and most seemed to upload any PDF you wanted to read to a web service that returned html. The remaining few failed miserably when I downloaded them and tried to read a PDF ebook.
Not having ever looked at this domain of entertainment I was quite taken aback from all the ebook formats that books are available in from plain text to epub and fb2.
Searching on these revealed many more applications each with varying reviews and features. I downloaded four based on reviews and format support.

Compact reader was the only one that worked out of the box, that was, to load the file I specified without changing any settings.
It happily allowed me to read the beginning of Cory Doctorow: Makers, saving place when exiting and allowing me to continue on reopening. You can not change the brightness in this app but, it is possible to set the colours to something less glaring than black on white. I needed to bump up the font size to make it readable on the vibrating train.
The two down sides to Compact reader is the limited format support, plain text only and word wrap is missing, which seems to not be to bad until you get to a word that when split is still a valid word e.g.
on the other hand, at least the down
load had started and the drinks were flow

It also had the handy habit of slightly re-positioning it self when you scrolled backwards so cut of words and sentences were on a full page if you cajoled it.

The next one I got working was Aldiko. It came with "the art of war" and "The invisible man" ready to read but I wanted more Cory Doctorow: Makers.
This time it was all about epub. Had to use AndroZip to copy my file into "/sdcard/eBooks/import" and then choose import from the menu. The spinner came up indicating it was loading but then just a blank screen.
This is a full size book so I decided to give it a few moments before I gave up and low and behold with no warning the title page appeared.
This app has lots of ways to move through the pages, left-right swipes, edge taps and physical volume up/down buttons. It also has brightness control and a day/night feature for black on white or visa versa.
The number one feature was word wrap (see above) this made it a joy to read with. It correctly remembered my place in the book on exit and has numerous other features like downloading ebooks from feedburner etc.

FBReader would only handle .fb2 formatted ebooks and would only read said file from /sdcard/Books. Again it supported day/night mode and font style/size but, no brightness. The screen was highly readable with text wrapped nicely, working bookmarks and quick to load up.
What was slightly strange compared to the Aldiko was the page progression processes, instead of flicking right to left or clicking the screen, you drag up the screen. Which actually produces quite a pleasant experience ( you can also set horizontal scrolling in the preferences).

Last was Wordoholic Reader. After a number of tries at getting it pointed at the folder containing the ebooks I gave up and uninstalled and reinstalled (there was a newer version). This gave me the default settings including its preferred folder '/sdcard/wordoholic-read', so I copied my book files over and ... no titles found. So I emailed the developer.
He replied in minutes and boy did I feel stupid, appears there is a "Refresh" button that must be selected in the "My Books" section, but strangely the same option is not available on the main screen or the titles area in "My Books", which is where it actually tells you there are no books (or lists the titles).
So it read my .fb2 file which displayed fine but what was a bit odd was the navigation. No swiping, scrolling or tapping, the only way to move forward or backward through the pages is via the physical volume buttons. Unfortunately this buttons are under the phone and quite inaccessible when in landscape mode.

My adventure is over, a clear winner has emerged and I have now read over half of Cory Doctorow: Makers on the train with it.
Aldiko !
What is interesting about the various ebook readers is not their ability to display (or not) ebooks for reading but, instead the provision for other functionality, that I was wholly uninterested in.
Wordoholic Reader was designed to translate selected words and store them for later expansion, Aldiko wants to be a one stop shop for getting and managing ebooks and FBReader is the open source "extend me" contender with Compact reader trying to be simple.

And I still want a PDF reader that treats the PDF like a book for reading rather than a large image that has to be scrolled. Maybe I should write my own.
17 Feb 2010 21:00
SQL is a fun language (I mean TSQL) in that it fights any attempt to act on individual records/rows/values and forces you to deal with transactions on data sets or batches. Of course you CAN update or delete or insert ONE record but the way the server handles it is no different than you were actioning more than one.
I had the need to access data from a table in SQL where only the data from rows n - m were required and the answer was not intuitive so an example is presented here for reference.

FROM Table

So thats;
Select the sub query column ROW and everything from table.
Creating the sub query as a simple two column view with column one being the row counter.
Joining the main Table to this sub query using the common ID column.
Finally limiting the results based on the row number.
12 Feb 2010 23:41
Would you believe that as of three days ago I am now a
Novell Certified Linux Administrator (Novell CLA)
SUSE Linux Enterprise 11
If you had asked me last week how my studies were going I would have given you a blank expression. You see, I did not get this award from hitting the books, completing tests or even hacking scoring systems.
This was a freebie. Novell are cross partnering with the LPI and recognise that in becoming a LPIC-1 satisfies all the same requirements as a Novell CLA.
Not sure how I feel about this, on one hand I get a nice certificate and another title to add to my CV but, surely I should have had to do something to prove that after all this time I am still worthy !?
"Never look a gift certification in the mouth"
12 Feb 2010 23:21
I really did not like the last Stephen King book I read but, I had a WHSmith voucher and apart from some science putty nothing else appealed.
Under the Dome is quoted as taking 25 years to write and it is excellent writing.
The premise is simple, a small American town is encased in a transparent dome/force field and has to cope with the human element while dome cuts them off from the rest of the world.
The military on the outside is constantly testing the domes integrity, no on knows what is causing the dome but, everyone is guessing. Religion is no comfort as the air in the dome gets worse and supplies start to dry up. Not necessary because there are none but that certain types are hoarding and not the supplies you might think are important.
Even before the dome descends, people are being murdered, under the dome trouble escalates at a pace.
It is very easy to find distinct patches of writing that echo previous Stephen King novels but, they are the good bits!
SK shows his is the master of writing interconnecting, weaving tales with complex, interesting and developing characters.
07 Feb 2010 23:18
I do not know why but, both the Android phones (well mine) and the iPhone have non animating boot screens.
Once you know this and are prepared its is no problem but, for both of us with our respective phones it was a worrying 30 seconds thinking the phone had failed.
Is it really too difficult to but a 'progress bar', 'hour glass', 'spinning disk' or 'scrolling kernel messages'.
At least the DEXT comes with a standard USB cable for charging and not a random proprietory docking port like the iPhone.
Speaking of the iPhone, Sarah has download a total of One app free from the app store. It was Tic Tac Toe as Alex was showing an interest in playing it (on paper) after playing with it a couple of times it now demands to be upgraded, for a price of course.
I will let you draw your own conclusions. As I have not got (and with any luck never have) an iTunes account I can not see any contents of the infamous app store so I can only comment on what others choose to install.
06 Feb 2010 22:37
There is no doubt, I am loving my DEXT Android phone but, it is not perfect so I am going to try and point out faults every time I start praising its amazingness.
+ The power button allows quick access for enabling/disabling wi-fi/GPS/bluetooth etc.
- The power button that you need to use to turn on/off wi-fi/GPS/bluetooth etc is directly opposite the volume up/down buttons and it is easy to either pump up the volume or knock it dead when you are trying to hold down the power button(quick press is screen blank/lock).

+ The screen lock security can be set to pattern input rather than a code/password (though the pattern is shown as you draw it so anyone can make a mental note).
- The battery life is not great, so remember to turn off wi-fi GPS etc when not in use.

+ External silent mode slider switch.
- The touch screen has a dead zone of about 10 pixels around the edge of the screen.

+ When in a phone call tipping the phone about 45 degrees brings up all the options.
- The touch screen sometimes goes out of sync and can not be swiped or a dead zone appears where tapping is not registered.

+ 20.000+ apps available to download from the App store
- Most of them are junk or super junk, I spend time each day to trawl http://uk.androlib.com/ and expect to view 200-300 summaries, with about ten detailed views followed by one download every 2-3 days. (expect more on this and on the apps I have downloaded).
06 Feb 2010 22:18
Hopefully all the auto link kinks for DEXT are fixed.
I thought my ordeal with Orange was over, everything was working and setup.
Yeah right !
I received a delightful text from Orange suggesting I try e-billing to check my remaining minutes.
The login page asks for the phone number and a password (which I had setup a while ago thinking the infamous PUC entry would reside somewhere). But I can never remember my own phone number so I check the settings in the phone ... hmmmm that does not look right.
Digging out my CV gave me the correct number and it was not the one reported by the phone.
Phone my number and the phone rings, so thats not so bad.
Log in and check my ... Oh My GOD! why is my bill twice what I expect and why is the e-billing layout so utterly unreadable !
It appears that ringing the inland revenue is my only call cost, total of £5, thank you 0845.
But the rest is all data charges and it clearly show I did not exceed my data allowance.
Call customer services, get passed around a few times, they double check the sales data and agree that I do not owe them a penny in data charges.
But get this, "Sir, I can not change the bill, it will come out at $$$ and you will get a credit the following month". The payment will be taken from my account even though this is not due to take place for another 20 days !
How many people, especially if they were not using much *internet* would have paid without thinking, maybe for the entire length of their contact ?
02 Feb 2010 22:21
Finally, almost six weeks after I tried to leave o2 I am finally free.
What to do with the old phone (Nokia 6300) ?
I was going to give it to Alex to play with but, someone suggested I see if I could sell it. I expected pennies but all the major phone 4 cash web sites were offering £33 and http://www.mazumamobile.com were offering £36 if I took payment in Argos vouchers.
Right now I want get all the data off the old phone and then wipe it. No problem the phone comes with a USB cable ...
Drat! the USB cable only mounts the SD card in the phone, at least I can copy all my photos.
Google around and find wammu but it will only connect to my make and model via Bluetooth.
Look around for a cheap Bluetooth adapter, after all, they were less than a fiver last time I looked ... nope the prices have gone up on the high street and online you double the price in P&P costs.
So I borrow one and plug it into my infamous laptop (now running Ubuntu 9.1) and nothing ... no errors and no bluetooth pairing even using the command line.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 1131:1004 Integrated System Solution Corp. Bluetooth Device
ran bluetooth-applet and pairing went beautifully.
in wammu the Bluetooth option did not find the paired device so I tried "All connection types" and it found the Bluetooth pairing ...
Set wammu to retrieve all the different types of data, from contacts to calendar to SMS messages then just make sure to use both the file menu's save options to dump all the non SMS data in one text file and all the SMS data in another.
http://www.mazumamobile.com sent me a return envelope with the instructions not to include the memory card, SIM, battery or mains/data cables. Sent it off and got an email less than 24 hours later stating the order had been received and that the vouchers are on there way!
Anyone need a battery and mains adaptor for a Nokia 6300 ?
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