Bill Eccles: August 2008 Archives

Palin:Women::Biden:AARP

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‘Nuff said.

Article here.

I’m supremely confused. Gustav hasn’t even come close to the oil supply and yet we’re paying more at the pump as if there were an actual change in the oil supply.

The referenced article is full of “if“‘s and “fear“‘s and “doubt“‘s and “could be“‘s. Why are we allowing futures trading to affect now prices?

WTF?

Article here

“I mean, he’s never run a city, he’s never run a state, he’s never run a business, he’s never administered a payroll, he’s never led people in crisis,” Giuliani said.

And yet somehow he feels qualified to lead a country. Oh, wait. Never mind. He’ll most likely follow a country.

503 Errors from Weblogs.com

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For quite a while now, I get 503 errors when I publish entries and ping their servers. Anybody else having this problem, or is it just me?

(I’m guessing the latter… but you never know.)

Display: Too bright. Lit up the room even on its lowest setting.

Alarms: OK, but no gradual alarm makes for violent awakenings.

Sound: Good, but I wasn’t looking for hi-fi to fall asleep to.

iPod functionality: Seems to.

Remote: Not evaluated. (Did I mention that this thing was right next to my head?)

Noise: 3G, none. Edge, some, but you have to crank it waaaay beyond using-it-as-a-clock-radio level to hear it.

Controls: Form won over function. And the jump between volume of 4 and 5 was too big, so I never found a happy median.

Price: OK, $70 at BJ’s.

Product: Returned. My old clock radio is better, even without the iPhone dock.

Never mind... it was just me...

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Well, it turns out that it was just me after all.

Problem? The mt-static directory has new stuff in it that needs to be copied to all of the other sites which are using mt.

Now I know.

No, no, I don’t mean am I ugly… I mean, has something happened between 4.1 and 4.21 that made the interface just look crappy in Safari?

Feel free to drop a comment in if you see problems. I haven’t seen much on the interwebs about it yet.

And I’m glad for it, too. I want someone who will stand up for what he believes in.

Article here.

A direct quote of Joe Biden’s acceptance speech:

“[McCain] voted 19 times against raising the minimum wage+. For people who are struggling just to get to the next day, that’s not change; that’s more of the same.”

What Biden is saying is that John McCain stuck to his beliefs and that’s bad. Instead of sticking up for what they believe in, it’s clear that Joe and Barack will govern according to popular opinion, consequences be damned. That is called following. If you want followers, vote for Obama and Biden. But I, for one, want a leader and do not want someone in the White House whose decisions change with the tide, latest health-food craze, or who’s most popular on “American Idol.”

Change? If it’s change for the good, then, change is good. But change for the sake of change is the kind of policy that will accelerate the demise of our nation.


+Yes, McCain voted against bills which included, among other things which also may have been objectionable to him and his constituency, raising minimum wage. But he also voted for raising the minimum wage on at least one occasion. See this article. Funny how people tend to take a vote against a multi-faceted bill as a vote against each item in isolation when it suits their purposes.

For that matter, Biden voted against minimum wage increases on at least one occasion, too. And to think they’re selling change to the American people when it’s just more of the same after all. Sigh.

Article here.

So I wonder, if it’s going to be such a tough act to follow (and it is), why bother?

There’s really no need to spend forty billion dollars on an Olympics games, is there? If it’s really all about the spirit of competition, the athleticism, the mad skillz that these athletes have, then, by God, let’s showcase them and not the event.

London should go retro and simplify, simplify, simplify. And they should do it in a classy, British sort of way. They shouldn’t even try to compete with China. Instead, they should strive to provide an environment in which we can be revel in the athletes and the competition, without focusing on the government or the host nation or even, for that matter, the spectacle.

We don’t even need the technological doping of super facilities. Give ‘em a dirt track and let the athletes be the stars.

London, KISS, please.

The Machine is Unhappy

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After watching some hours of the Olympics, it struck me: the machine is unhappy. And who or what is this machine? It’s China.

Yes, the Chinese are ahead in the number of gold medals, and it’s unlikely (impossible?) that anybody will catch up to them, but if you look at the individual competitors, they just plain don’t look happy. And when the cogs are unhappy, the machine is unhappy.

I have no idea what kind of stress they’re operating under, but whether it’s threats from the motherland or whether they are simply not prone to smile, they just don’t look like they’re enjoying what they’re doing.

They compete in stark contrast to many of the athletes of the rest of the world, most of whom look like they’re there to have a great time and party from start to finish line, doing their best along the way. These non-Chinese athletes look like they weren’t bred for this job but rather like they are delighted to have made it, not knowing, as I suspect some of China’s Olympians are, that they would get to be there in the first place.

As I watched the platform diving, these wisps of… can I even call them women, they’re so young?… girls, then… these girls don’t look happy, they don’t look sad, they don’t look serious, they just… look. It’s as if nobody’s home except The Diving Machine.

Wow.

Article here.

Um, duh?

If you are going to litter, be sure to rip up someone else’s parking ticket in front of the sheriff’s office.

I have a 1TB Apple Time Capsule which I say by way of introduction and not as a means to lord over you, dear reader, that I’ve got something that you might not have. I use this Time Capsule to backup my MacOS X Server.

According to the product page, here’s what Time Capsule can do:

Time Capsule is a revolutionary backup device that works wirelessly with Time Machine in Mac OS X Leopard. It automatically backs up everything, so you no longer have to worry about losing your digital life.

and

Backing up is something we all know we should do, but often don’t. And while disaster is a great motivator, now it doesn’t have to be. Because with Time Capsule, the nagging need to back up has been replaced by automatic, constant protection. And even better, it all happens wirelessly, saving everything important, including your sanity.

The only requirement for your Mac is that it is running MacOS X 10.5.2 or later.

That’s because MacOS X 10.5 introduces Time Machine like this:

For the initial backup, Time Machine copies the entire contents of the computer to your backup drive. It copies every file exactly (without compression), skipping caches and other files that aren’t required to restore your Mac to its original state.

and

By default, Time Machine backs up everything on your Mac.

(Emphasis mine.)

So when I hooked it up to my MacOS X Server 10.5.4 server and turned on Time Machine (one click!… and some typing to set the password, but we’ll overlook that), I was pleased to see that, indeed, my server was backed up. I could browse the backup and see it was good. Cool!

But then the other day, disaster struck only hours before we were to leave for the airport: my server had crashed in such a way as to be unrecoverable. Things were grim, and the only thing I could do was to restart from the Server installation DVD and restore the machine from the Time Capsule. Well, it did that in about 9 hours and with some remote system administration from my beautiful wife, the machine was back up and running.

Except it wasn’t.

E-mail didn’t work. Web services wouldn’t start. All hell was breaking loose in the system logs as various services which were trying to start up just plain wouldn’t start up. Things which previously had a quiet existence on this machine were suddenly vociferously complaining about a plethora of problems. While each had its own gripe, most were unhappy about the nonexistence of a log directory, /var/log. “Huh?” I thought to myself, “I thought I read that Time Machine backed up my entire machine to get it back to its original state. What’d I miss? And why do I feel like it’s my fault all of a sudden?”

A little searching on the web reveals that there’s a list of stuff Time Machine doesn’t back up which, on a normal MacOS client machine might be OK, but for a server is disastrous. The list, stored at

/System/Library/CoreServices/backupd.bundle/Contents/Resources/StdExclusions.plist

has, among other things, these items which are excluded

/private/var/log

and

/private/var/spool

OK, log files don’t necessarily need to be backed up, maybe only the last one so you can see what happened before the crash would be nice. Nonetheless, if there are various services which need log files or log directories to exist to run, then something, somewhere must recreate these logfiles or the system never gets up and running, and the backup has, in fact, failed. Apache is quite content to gripe that it can’t make logfiles. Amavis, too, can’t do anything unless the directory is there. Sorting out which logs need to be where and who owns them and what their permissions should be took me the better part of two hours, and I’m know I don’t have them all right. (And that’s only for the few services I’m running. God only knows what I’m missing for the others.)

But… and this one is inexcusable… not backing up /var/spool, which includes /var/spool/imap which is where my IMAP users’ E-mail is stored!! is insane and has my blood boiling. This is an oversight which is completely uncharacteristic of Apple but for which there is no excuse.

The next four hours I spent trying to recover my IMAP users and getting Postfix to run were maddening. I had lost nearly a gigabyte of E-mail. Multiple IMAP directories had to be “reconstructed,” sometimes a success and sometimes not, according to the many webpages out there. Even Apple’s own webpage describing this process failed. (Something about partition “/var/spool/imap/user” not existing.) My users were similarly peeved. “You mean we bought that expensive Time Capsule instead of a simple external hard drive for mirroring and it didn’t work?!

Never mind the fact that it’s not the Time Capsule at fault, it’s Time Machine. They didn’t see it that way. They saw an expenditure that was unjustified because it simply didn’t work. I saw a maddening amount of work on a weekend, on my vacation, from 1000 miles away, because it simply didn’t work. And that’s just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Note to Steve Jobs You would be incensed, too.

My users and I are angry, and rightfully so. You, Apple, make a promise about a very important function and you don’t keep it. This is backup, for goodness’ sake! This is the kind of thing that has to work. If you say “backup,” it implies that it will, it shall, it must work.

And it didn’t.

Another note to Steve Jobs: If this had happened to you, you would have seen to it that somebody got yelled at and it would have been fixed immediately. Really. This is the kind of thing you hate. (I’ve read enough of Fake Steve Jobs to know how you think, man.)

Coming in an article “real soon now:” an article about how to recover from the various messes left behind by a Time Machine restore of MacOS X Server. (Just as soon as someone answers the question I pose here, that is.)

Article here.

But wait! There’s more! If you order now, we’ll double the miles you get with your first purchases!

If won’t matter, of course, since a year from now when you finally have enough miles to use, we’ll either be out of business or a round-trip ticket will require 10 million miles. (And you thought you were clever to buy that Mercedes on your SkyMiles card…)

According to this article, some idiot had the bright idea to put 33,000 unencrypted TSA records on a laptop.

Whereas data like this used to be kept under lock and key in a filing cabinet somewhere in a locked office, the idiotic company running the TSA’s program got the bright idea to think that they should keep the data in a highly-portable, easily-misplaced, oft-stolen container.

Note to other companies who keep data like this, a simple rule of thumb:

If you would lock your office door if your data were kept in a filing cabinet, then don’t keep the data on a laptop.

It’s as simple as that. Somehow, people equate the ability to carry around a bunch of data with the need to carry around a bunch of data, and that’s just plain wrong.

A Must Read. Just be sure you’re not drinking milk as you do.

Security Update 2008-005 for MacOS X Server breaks PHP custom installations.

Apple installs PHP v5.2.6 over your custom PHP installation. Here's what I did to alleviate the pain associated with the upgrade:

Before I upgraded, I backed up my configuration information (which I can use to reconfigure PHP if necessary) and current PHP installation so I can downgrade in a hurry if I can't rebuild the new PHP quickly:


php -i > ~/php-config-2008.08.04
sudo cp /usr/libexec/apache2/libphp5.so /usr/libexec/apache2/libphp5.so.old
sudo cp /usr/bin/php /usr/bin/php.old

I then did the 2008-005 update. If I were very concerned that PHP weren't working correctly and quickly, I'd have swapped the newly-installed Apple PHP with the old one and set it to running while I rebuilt PHP. I didn't need to do that, though, so I just proceeded with rebuilding and reinstalling 5.2.6.

I grabbed the 5.2.6 PHP tarball from PHP.net, php-ized GD, configured it, made it, and installed it. (Your configure command might look different, of course.)


tar xjfp php-5.2.6.tar.bz2

cd php-5.2.6/ext/gd

phpize

cd ../..

MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET=10.5 CFLAGS="-arch ppc -arch ppc64 -arch i386 -arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe -no-cpp-precomp" CCFLAGS="-arch ppc -arch ppc64 -arch i386 -arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe" CXXFLAGS="-arch ppc -arch ppc64 -arch i386 -arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe" LDFLAGS="-arch ppc -arch ppc64 -arch i386 -arch x86_64 -bind_at_load" ./configure --prefix=/usr --mandir=/usr/share/man --infodir=/usr/share/info --disable-dependency-tracking --with-apxs2=/usr/sbin/apxs --with-ldap=/usr --with-kerberos=/usr --enable-cli --with-zlib-dir=/usr --enable-trans-sid --with-xml --enable-exif --enable-ftp --enable-mbstring --enable-mbregex --enable-dbx --enable-sockets --with-iodbc=/usr --with-curl=/usr --with-config-file-path=/etc --sysconfdir=/private/etc --with-mysql-sock=/var/mysql --with-mysqli=/usr/bin/mysql_config --with-mysql=/usr --with-openssl --with-xmlrpc --with-xsl=/usr --without-pear --with-freetype-dir=/usr/local/lib --with-jpeg-dir=/usr/local/lib --with-png-dir=/usr/X11R6 --with-xpm-dir=/usr/X11R6 --with-gd --with-ttf --with-iconv=/usr/local/lib --enable-gd-imgstrttf --enable-gd-native-ttf


(That's all on one line, and note that I'm compiling a universal binary here for four architectures--why, I don't remember, exactly, but you probably won't need anything before "./configure" unless you're compiling for multiple architectures.)

make

make test

sudo make install

I then restarted Apache2 with the Server Manager and PHP5 was happy again.

Article here.

As PHP is specifically mentioned, I’d guess that this installation is not PHP neutral. More to come soon…

Article here.

Two quotes, if I may:

In recent months, Dell has been testing a digital music player that could go on sale as early as September, said several Dell officials.

(emphasis mine) and

Rob Enderle, an industry analyst whom Dell hired to consult on the new entertainment strategy, said he is still discussing with Dell whether profits would come mainly from the subscription service or from devices tied to it.

With one month to go, give or take, Dell still doesn’t know how it’s going to make money with its product? How ass-backwards is that?

And don’t get me started on Enderle, who’s almost never wrong. About anything. Ever.

(via Daring Fireball)