Jun 26 2006

Stuff I’m Playing With

Jeffrey Larson

There are a number of things I’m playing with these days.

Hills of Japan

I’m still putting the finishing touches on the Hillsofjapan.com site adminstration web app that I built. I spent some good time on it last week and I want to get it running/to production very very shortly.

Server Rebuild

I still haven’t loaded all of my MySQL databases from my backup, to the newly built Fedora Core 5 install.

Primus VOIP Extension

I’m hacking at some JS and XUL to get an extension for firefox to work in conjunction with my phone provider’s (Primus’) portal. It will eventually detect phone numbers on web pages, and make them clickable. When I click on a phone number, my phone would ring, and when I picked up my phone, the phone number I clicked would be dialed (it would be ringing already).
The hard part is done, but I basically have to work out the https logging in, and URL requests. Make sure that it is ll behind the scenes, seemless and transparent to the user.


A while back, I spent a bunch of time making a slipstreamed XP disc for my parents PC. Yes yes, I’ve done many rebuilds recently, but I got the slipstreamed disc updated, so my parents machine was easy.

MSN Spaces Integration

I set up a blog at MSN Spaces. Why? So that my MSN user icon would get a little star by it when I posted to my blog. I use wordpress installed on my own server… so I set up a MSN sync plugin to allow my wordpress blog to ping (XML-RPC) the MSN Spaces blog when I post new entries… works!

Jun 26 2006

Notes From Rebuild to Fedora Core 5

Jeffrey Larson

I recently rebuilt my linux server using the latest release of Fedora Core (5). There were a number of things that I noted that I wanted to make sure I remember for next time… and maybe they can help you out too.
Fedora Core 5

Apache 2

If you change your DocumentRoot you have to make sure that you give permission to apache to access that new directory. I know it seems obvious but this is 10 minutes I don’t want to waste again.

I left apache’s user/group as apache/apache.
I created a user named wxyz with a group wxyz.
I added the user apache to the wxyz group.
I wanted the web root to be /home/wxyz/web but since the directory /home/wxyz did not have group execute permissions (rwx------) apache was throwing 403’s (Permission Denied).
CHMODing the directory /home/wxyz to rwx--x--- allowed apache to read the directory structure below and bingo.


I had to install the mbstring package in order for phpMyAdmin/MySQL to support utf8 (multibyte strings) character set formats. There was a warning message that was shown in phpMyAdmin.

# yum install php-mbstring

The newest version aparently had some newer dependencies, so php-pdo, php-ldap, php-mysql, php-odbc, php-pdsql, php-mbstring and php were all updated to 5.1.4-1.

Note: yum makes things so simple!


Uh Oh, some of my Gallery installs aren’t working with PHP5!
I almost went ahead and downgraded to php4 using this page as reference: http://www.mjmwired.net/resources/mjm-fedora-php4.html
BUT, the newer Gallery versions support php5… so that’s easy! I just upgraded the Gallery version where applicable.

RPM files

Just for reference, to find what files an rpm installed and where try the following:
rpm -qa --filesbypkg | grep PaCkAgEnAmE


NetPBM (yum install netpbm) isn’t installing the binaries I want, like pnmtojpeg etc. Not sure why, so I manually downloaded and placed them in /usr/bin/netpbm (for Gallery1).

Jun 9 2006

Linux on a Linksys

Jeffrey Larson

I think I’ve found a new project that will go on my task list.

As many of you probably know, at our house we use a VOIP solution (from Primus Canada) for our home phone. The reason for this is simple. Telus charges $26/month for a residential phone line with no long distance, no options/features, just a plain phone that works for local calling. Primus charges $15/month for their TalkBroadband service which allows us to have our same home phone number. It utilizes the internet to make phone calls, so since we have Shaw’s Highspeed Internet, we get to pay $9 less for our phone. We pay an extra $8/month for 300 minutes of long distance (North America) and ALL the calling features you can think of. (see the Ultimate Bundle)

You should also know that I run my own server at my house. Running both my server and the phone gateway on my internet connection has not been an issue, however, lately we’ve experienced some LAN-based quality issues with our phone. Specifically, the outgoing voice (what the other people hear) gets choppy when other computers are using the upstream from our house (for example, a user downloading a file from my webserver, or someone using a Peer to Peer (P2P) program to upload a shared file). The main issue is that my current network configuration does not take Quality of Service (QoS) into consideration. Basically, our outgoing voice traffic does not get prioritized above the other traffic, so the voice packets sit on the outgoing queue of my router before they can be sent to the internet through my cable modem.

There are a few solutions here:

  1. go buy a QoS compatible router
  2. build a firewall/router out of an old computer using linux
  3. OR combine 1 and 2

For a while now, Linksys has build consumer level routers/switches/etc that are quite popular. In fact, a couple years ago, Linksys released the WRT54G with source code under the GPL. There boxes allow an embedded linux OS to run on them. Out of that, OpenWRT comes building up a fresh linux platform that runs on a bunch cheap router hardware.

I plan on buying a WRT54G/S very shortly. It should be a fun little project. I think it will probably cost more time than the money saved on cheaper hardware, but the time spent to make it work will be the fun part!

Jun 1 2006

Feeds for Steve

Jeffrey Larson

Steve Reimer, you should appreciate this.

Download feed script here.

Contained in the attached archive file is:

  • php class (feedcreator.class.php) that allows you to easily created web feeds on the fly. [FeedCreator 1.7.2-mod]
  • php script file (feed.php) that utilizes the class, with example code to pull feed data from a MySQL database
  • a symbolic link ‘feed’ that points to ‘feed.php’
  • .htaccess file (apache) to rewrite the feed URL using the appropriate file extension and format (ie. .xml, .rss, .atom, etc)

I dare you to use it on your “Continually awesome since 2002” site.

A reference link because I’m nice: http://www.bitfolge.de/rsscreator-en.html

Jun 1 2006

WordPress Upgrade

Jeffrey Larson

Update: I’m now on the newest version of WordPress 2. The upgrade process was a lot easier than I expected. None of my customizations were overwritten so it upgraded seemlessly.

I think I’ll upgrade my weblog software pretty soon. I haven’t been writing here… I know, but I think I’m going to get back into it.

Two projects at work are winding down and so new projects should be just around the corner. I find that at the beginning of projects I am less drained and can find more motivation to work at home that when I’m swamped at work.

I’m also considering a rebuild of my FC2 box (webserver) and a reconfiguration of the network in my home office. We’ll see what I find time for… summer’s coming and I like playing outside!