Wednesday, November 29, 2006

firefox gone wild

I saw this entry in, the tag was "Firefox Gone Wild".

Heh, gone wild, indeed. Ian Sison says he has a lot of firefox extensions. I sure don't have as many as he does. I'm sure he hasn't gone as wild as that guy though :-).

Monday, November 27, 2006

ubuntu toshiba mousepad fun

I'm currently using a toshiba satellite A75 S-231 while waiting for my winbook to have its LCD hinge repaired. The Winbook is on the way back, I should have it in two days or so (along with a bunch of other goodies, a vonage unit and a long range wireless phone to attach the vonage to.

When I get the winbook back I'm going to have to decide which laptop to sell. Both are good boxes, both are *heavy* boxes. These are not lightweight low power boxes, they're desktop replacements.

I've been having problems with the mousepad on this toshiba for a while. There would be occasions when moving my finger over it just would not move the mouse. On the other hand, right now, at 2AM, the mousepad is beautiful. Not as beatifully smooth moving as on my wife's smaller winbook, nor on my brother-in-law's incredibly sweet fujitsu lifebook, but smooth. For a while, I'd just not be able to get the mouse to move at all (or if I could, it would involve using the bird finger or the ring finger. I don't know why it's suddenly working so well.

My best guesses are:

  1. ubuntu upgrades - ubuntu dapper drake said that it had 200 updates to install (I reinstalled because I didn't have the patience to figure out what was wrong when X wouldn't run). It might be that some of those upgrades involved improving the synaptic mousepad drivers (it wouldn't have been the kernel though, I was already running the most recent ubuntu 2.6.15-27-i686 kernel back when X stopped working.

  2. humidity - if the problem recurs tomorrow, then it probably has to do with environmental factors. I found that wiping my index finger would sometimes help (but not always), pressing down a bit harder would sometimes help (but less often than wiping). Using the bird finger or the ring finger almost always worked, but not that smoothly and not predictably (not clear which finger would work).

I hope it was one of those 200 updates though. This is a lovely box and it'll be cheap for the value when I sell it (3Ghz CPU, 1GB RAM, 100G disk, everything except the winmodem works in ubuntu [well, maybe the winmodem works in ubuntu, I doubt it, but I've not tested since I don't need the modem anymore]).

If the mousepad works perfectly for the next week, it's going to be a tough call, which laptop to sell.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


When I saw the title on Reddit and followed the link to TechEBlog's article on Controlling your XBox with a PSP I read it as controlling the xbox with ESP.

Crepe, ESP would have been cool!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


The Linutop looks incredible. It's a very small, low power, diskless, Linux desktop. Primarily meant to be a cheap web surfing platform, this could hit Microsoft in the fundament when partnered with web based office productivity applications already available.

I tried out Google Spreadsheets yesterday and it was surprisingly usable. It was slow, but certainly usable. I already use gmail as my main email system. At work we use BaseCamp. And almost all of our business systems (except Point of Sale systems, although we saw a very impressive demo of a web based point of sale system from Imperium technologies a few months ago.

For an increasingly web-based world, the Linutop is a great box. It's got a slow CPU in there and not a lot of RAM, so a year or two after launch, I wouldn't be surprised if the first iteration were to become very cheap and they would then be perfect as LTSP clients (which we also run at work, and which we will be pushing out slowly, one department at a time, so that maybe in ten years only 10% of our employees will still be in Windows).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ituloy ang Sulong SEO

I'm helping out a friend Ituloy AngSulong with his web site. Apparently there's some sort of contest and he needs some backlinks.

Al is a good guy to work with, knows his SEO, knows his website design, I was teaching him PHP at one point. I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point, he leaves his day job and gets web design and optimization work on his own. I'm more conservative than that, I think that having one stable income and one contract income in a household is better than having either two stable incomes or two contractual incomes. But in order to do that, he's either going to have to work double time, or marry his girlfriend. I think it's time, Al :-).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

wow, ubuntu installer

I had problems with my ubuntu installation on my laptop. X wouldn't start anymore. I don't want to try to fix it, I'll just reinstall after backing up relevant parts of /.

I had forgotten how cool the ubuntu installer is. Installation is done in the live CD gnome setup. So, while the OS is installing, I'm able to connect to the internet and surf. I could also have played any of the games on the live CD. I remember an older distribution that allowed you to play tetris while the OS was installing from CDs. This is much cooler than that.

I don't know about Vista, but none of the Windows versions up to XP can do that. In more than just the obvious way, installing Windows is a total waste of time.

too bad, no postgresl

I was excited when I saw a link to's bargain basement web hosting pricing. I'd love to have cheap hosting, that way, even if I had nothing to put there, it wouldn't be too expensive.

Unfortunately, there's no postgresql in those hosting plans. Mysql is good enough for most people, and it's improving, sure, but I can't stand it and will never use it if a better free database is available, and postgresql is that better database. I haven't looked into firebird yet. Haven't really needed to since Postgresql does everything I need and it continues to make great progress. I've heard some good things about it though. I may look at it sometime soon. At least at the feature set. It's going to be hard to set up a comparison with postgresql though, my database at work is upwards of 300GB now and it's going to get larger as I import more of the company's data into it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Linux Imap email client that does auto-expunge?

I access my work email via IMAP. At work I have evolution with a whole bunch of filters to move mailing list and non-work related email to local folders. That way, the inbox is for work-related email only.

The problem is, evolution doesn't auto-expunge the inbox. So when i run evolution at home (locally, not over X or over VNC) I can still see the emails which the work evolution has already moved to folders. Those emails are still visible in the inbox.

I'm going to have to check on either command line (fetchmail or similar) or graphical (perhaps sylpheed or thunderbird) email software that I can configure to periodically check IMAP, move non-work-related email to folders (or an alternate email address) that can be managed separately, and actually expunge the moved email (not just mark them deleted). Of course, I've been thinking about this long enough that I really should have done it months ago. The problem is, it's not very inconvenient to just vnc to my desktop at work, start evolution and manually expunge with CTRL-E. The degree of inconvenience is directly related to the likelihood of getting motivated enough to actually look for a solution. If the itch doesn't scratch enough, nothing will be done :-).

powered by performancing firefox


I don't remember where I found a link to Performancing for Firefox. It was only recently. Certainly within the last two weeks or so. I think I'll switch to using it all the time now. The editor isn't as fast as the one on blogger itself, but it's very convenient. It allows me to post to any of my blogs (well, for now there's just this one and my other me, but that could change as virtual personalities multiply) from just the one screen that pops upward in the browser itself.

I'm still learning the ropes though. I've learned one good thing now though. the default mode was Rich (text-only) editing. I've switched to editing the HTML source since I'm used to doing that already anyway (despite a very basic knowledge of HTML). Took me a few iterations of trying to embed the fainting goats youtube link though to figure out that I needed to go to editing the source (the " icon at top left) .

I haven't played around with this enough to see if there's a way to save drafts *in*the*browser*. That way, I could start out posts in performancing even when not connected to the net. With fast internet wherever I go now though (my friends diggi and barb at camiguin action geckos tour and adventure tell me that there's PHP1000 eat-all-you can internet from Smart now on Camiguin. It's probably very slow, but it's 24x7. so slow doesn't matter much. they were even able to download and view the youtube video of my newborn son (completely impossible previously, with the local telco's dialup internet service), that's going to be a rare requirement. But I'm sure there'll be the occasional trip to Sagada and Banaue. There, there won't be ubiquitous internet for another year or so, I guess.

This reminds me, I've got lots of pictures to upload to flickr or picasa so that they can go on to my other blog. I need to fix those old photoblogs too to point at flickr. Right now they point at geocities sites that I used to store the images. That's inconvenient though since it's necessary to touch the site every month or so so that yahoo doesn't throw away the content for lack of movement.

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Netgear WGR614v2 firmware update

We recently got DSL and wifi at home. I've kept it open (no WEP, no WPA) so I can see if someone will notice and leech off it. I haven't seen anyone riding onto the wifi signal yet, so I'll probably keep it open continuously.

We have a Netgear WGR614V2 wifi router. We saw quite a bit of instability with this. Once or twice it was because the PLDT DSL link just went away for 2 or 3 hours after 10PM. That hasn't happened often enough yet to complain to PLDT about it. The Netgear router, though, does go nuts (to coin a technical term) pretty often. Every day, sometimes twice a day, it just stops responding to ping and routing. It's still on, and I can control it when wired, and the wireless link is good. It just doesn't reply on the wifi interface.

Last night I downloaded and installed the latest firmware update on the wifi router. It's been stable so far, and I'm hoping it'll remain that way. It probably will, it was probably fixed in the first firmware update :-). The firmware update also adds WPA support and some other things. I'm not going to use WPA, but it's good to know that it's there if I need it. It'll also be useful to test ubuntu's WPA support, just so I know how that's done.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Encrypted filesystems and US border laptop searches

So I'm concerned about having my laptop legally stolen at U.S. borders, or sort-of-legally stolen by TSA [or totally illegally stolen by baggage handlers] when I check it in.  Ignoring the two other cases, I considered putting my data on an encrypted partition on the laptop.  That's not so hard these days, with linux (and windows too, except I don't use windows).  But that doesn't fix the first case either.  If anything, it would just raise red flags for TSA and U.S. customs, and they'd confiscate the laptop and probably detain me until I told them the passphrase.  And then I'd go to jail since the passphrase might be something very uncomplimentary to the TSA.

So, no, encrypting /home wouldn't help.  It's probably still a good idea for another use case, where I get held up and the laptop gets stolen.  At least there would be no leaks of proprietary information.  So I may do that anyway.  But it won't help at U.S. borders.

Alright, I've convinced myself.  Now I just need to backup the data so I can wipe out /home and setup the encrypted partition :-).

powered by performancing firefox

Friday, November 10, 2006

Apparently, laptops may be legally seized and searched at U.S. borders, they may even be kept and not returned.

“My laptop was initially searched by one person, but he called for backup” when he saw the blueprints. “It seemed they were convinced I was sent to plant bombs in those nonexistent buildings.” He said he hasn’t seen the laptop since.

It probably happens very rarely, perhaps randomly (although there was the case of someone who had his laptop searched because there was a report of child pornography or similar on him).

One more reason to avoid going to the U.S., I guess. Not a decisive reason, my family and I aren't going to the U.S. until at least after George W Bush is out of office, and probably not even then, unless the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security have either been dismantled or become accountable for what they do. As it is, I'm not risking my laptop in checked luggage (although possibly that restriction is lifted now) and I'm not risking losing it and never getting it back just because it's impossible to get anything out of TSA or Homeland Security (since the judiciary and police will bend over backwards even if there is no case).

There's no important information on my laptop (all my mail is on gmail, and the CIA already has all of my mail, and even if they don't, the NSA does), but I'm not some rich american who can afford to buy a laptop every month. So I'm just not going where they can take my laptop and never return it (and because I've been so critical of George W Bush's incompetent administration, I'm not going to be a random sample, they'll do it on purpose).

security bank ATM bugs

I'm not very happy with Security Bank ATMs. I don't have much choice in the matter since my company has my salary go into a Security Bank ATM account. But I'm definitely not impressed with their ATM software or their commitment to quality, if any.

Long ago I saw a Security Bank ATM bug where, if I were to try to withdraw, say PHP 11,000, the ATM would say that it was out of 100 peso bills (I think, or 500 peso bills) and that it could not process the request. The actual error is that Security Bank has a cap of PHP 10,000 on individual withdrawals. The error message is wrong though.

At exactly the same time (during the same withdrawing session), I also saw a strange bug. I was at the Security Bank branch at Timog and Tomas Morato in Quezon City and the ATM said that it was in Baguio. I don't know what the deal was there. Maybe they moved the Baguio ATM and physically installed it at Timog and Morato. Or maybe they took the install disks or CDs from Baguio and installed them elsewhere. Whichever it was, the lack of quality control is disturbing in a bank.

Just yesterday (8 Nov 2006), I was at the Security Bank on Shaw Blvd (right by Jose Rizal University). The old gentleman ahead of me took a long time to process his transaction. He was confused though, he seemed to think that either he could withdraw PHP 1432.57 (or something like that), or he might have been trying to do a merchant payment. He was trying to do all this at Security Bank even though he was a Metrobank subscriber. So, OK, he was just confused. I pointed him in the direction of the Metrobank branch up Shaw Blvd a bit.

When it was my turn at the ATM, I was concerned because the screen was blank except for some ASCII at the top (which had an A:\, and some random characters, some of them greek). So I thought maybe the ATM was not working. When I pressed a button though (ENTER), a text menu came up asking me which telephone company I wanted to pay bills for. That's bug #2. Why was I being asked to choose a telephone company when I hadn't even inserted my ATM card yet.

I wasn't interested in paying any telco bills, so I pressed CANCEL and it went to the ASCII rubbish at the top bug. I wasn't too confident about this, but the bank staff were still in the bank (but the bank was closed). I figured if something went wrong, I'd just knock on the door and tell them the problem.

So I fed the ATM my card and was able to withdraw money. When the transaction ended, the screen went blank again, with the ASCII rubbish at the top.

I pointed this out to the guards, but they said there was nothing wrong and they had just reinstalled from CDs (or floppy, I couldn't quite understand that part). I guess the guards had been *told* (perhaps by the manager, or some IT guy, or whoever was in charge of the care and feeding of the ATM) that it was OK. In which case, whoever that person was had no clue.

The clearly visible bugs in the ATM detract from the confidence that depositors or account holders have in the COMPETENCE of the bank. If they can't fix the bugs in their ATMs, how confident should I be in their financial and accounting competence? The fact that they *KNOW* about these confidence sapping bugs in their software, and they don't care enough to at least hide them from view (by taking the damn ATM offline until the glitches are fixed) weakens my confidence in them some more.

With Banks (and with other companies too, but with Banks and hospitals and air traffic control systems in particular, where lives or money may be lost) there must be no tolerance of error. Even if the branch manager knows that the ATM will continue to function correctly, the customer doesn't know that.