Jun 12 2007

Day: 2

Sarah Marttunen

Guten Tag!
The first leg of our travel to Africa is nearly complete. We arrived in Frankfurt yesterday morning at 11:00am local time. After several laps around the airport we found the baggage storage and the train station. We hopped on a standing room only bombardier (200km/hr train!) and made our way to Heidelberg via Mannheim. By the time we settled in to our room at the Kranich Hotel we were ready to go to bed, unfortunatly it was only 2:00pm (6:00am MDT). After a short nap we walked into the town and had a delicious meal of schnitzel and spetzel – of course with a hearty German beer!
Today we checked out the 250yr old Schloss castle along with the Apotheke museum. With all the walking we’ve done, we’re all tuckered out for our flights to Dubai and then Jo-burg.
Stay tuned for more later!

Mar 20 2007

New Domains and DNS Services

Jeffrey Larson

I thought I’d share with you some good technical experiences that I’ve had recently.

I have moved my domains to new registrars, so that I could renew them for a full 10 years.

1. I moved my “.com” domains to DomainsMadeEasy.com

2. I moved my “.ca” domains to NamesPro.ca

I also started using a paid service for my DNS configuration. At first I was looking for a cheap domain registrar that included a very flexible DNS management tool, but I ended up using a separate service provider for the DNS stuff.

3. I now use DNS Made Easy for all my DNS configuration.

1. Domains Made Easy

I get 2 major benefits from Domains Made Easy over my previous registrar.

  • Cost is only $7.85USD per year, which is about $9CDN per year.
  • I was able to renew the domain for a full 10 year period.

There are a couple detriments that I can list too:

  • The phone support has only a US area code, and no toll-free option.
  • The services do not support “.ca” domains.

2. NamesPro.ca

I have been very impressed with the services from NamesPro.ca

  • .ca domain registration is only $12.88 per year
  • The transfer of my existing .ca domain took about an hour (seriously!), as opposed to a few days for the transfer to Domains Made Easy.
  • I received a real person’s response to an electronic support request within minutes, even late in the evening.
  • I was able to renew my domain for a full 10 years.

3. DNS Made Easy

I purchased the Small Business Membership for $29.95 a year, and I can configure 10 domains with their tools:

  • The interface for creating, changing and removing DNS records is very easy to use, and it’s nicely layed out. It’s even got some cool record templating functions.
  • They support SRV records so that I can allow the users of my domains to use federated chat networks with Google Apps (For You Domain).
  • Their name servers are redundant and use a fancy IP Anycast system that gives them a 100% uptime guarantee.
  • I get wild card sub domain support, which I didn’t have before
  • I get Dynamic DNS support for any/all of my domains’ sub domains, which I didn’t have before.

Feb 7 2007

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Jeffrey Larson

I recently read (Apple CEO) Steve Job’s writing “Thoughts on Music”. (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/)

DRM is killing music

Now, I’ve had conversations about this kind of stuff with people before. If you were one of the people that I’ve talked to about this, you’ll know that I don’t like the idea nor the current industry implementations of DRM. I’m actually a little proud that I have not bought any music that has DRM attached to it.

Big debate out there on this, but my thought is that DRM does not do what it was created to do.

To quote about.com: “The purpose of DRM is to offer legal downloads to consumers while protecting the rights of the copyright owner. The controls placed on digital music by DRM is intended to prevent the free distribution of a file over the internet without compensation to the artist.”

But the purpose of today’s implementations of DRM as Ken Fisher says here does not match the originial purpose of DRM: “DRM’s sole purpose is to maximize revenues by minimizing your rights so that they can sell them back to you.”

I will continue to purchase music that is distributed on CDs, so that I don’t have to buy back my rights that have been minimized to maximize revenues. At least then I can play my music on any player I want, whenever I want, and for how ever long I want. After all, I did buy the CD.

I’d also like to say that I like most of what Steve Job’s had to say in this article. I really like how he suggests the removal of the requirement for DRM on music from the major labels, would be a benefit for all. However, I think he is wrong when he talks about the argument of being locked into a specific company by DRM.

“Some have argued that once a consumer purchases a body of music from one of the proprietary music stores, they are forever locked into only using music players from that one company. Or, if they buy a specific player, they are locked into buying music only from that company’s music store. Is this true?”

It is true.
If I buy music from the iTunes online store, it WILL NOT play on any other player but iPods.
If I buy music from Sony’s online store, it WILL NOT play on an iPod.
The argument that the majority of the average persons music library is free of DRM fails to address this “locked in” issue. He is implying that when a purchaser goes and buys an iPod or other device, they start their music collection/library at that moment. They fill their iPod with only newly purchased music… no! All people (well most) who buy iPods already own a music library, whether that be mp3s on a computer from ripped CDs or otherwise. So, buying an iPod, or a PDA that has a digital music player, or another device, does not lock you in. It’s purchasing music with DRM on it, that locks you in.

There is obviously a lot to say here, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Jan 30 2007

FileDisk ISO Mounter

Jeffrey Larson

Another Update: I have run into the same issue with Windows XP as many of the people who have posted comments below: the “Error loading C:\WINDOWS\system32\ShellExt\FileDisk.dll, Invalid access to memory location”. The solution I found is to add C:\WINDOWS\system32\Rundll32.exe (Run a DLL as an App) as an exception to your Data Execution Prevention (DEP) filter. This may not be the most secure thing to do, so I’ll have to investigate it more. Expect an update on this later.

Update: I revised the package to FileDisk ISO Mounter 1.2.1. The new revision contains a couple fixes for iso filetype support in Windows.

Today I was looking for a easy way to mount ISO images to virtual drives. I had tried and really liked Microsoft’s Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel however, it did not have a command line interface that would allow me to automate some of the setup of a virtual drive. I was looking to basically save my valuable mouse clicks.

If you have a large hard disk (as most of us do these days) and you often find yourself shuffling through your stack of CD/DVD discs looking for that software app or back-up disc or whatever, then saving Disc Images (ISOs) to your hard drive is the way to go. And now I’ve got a very small, slick and free virtual disc mounting tool that makes it so easy to access those disc images.

FileDisk ISO Mounter was packaged by me, Jeffothy, but consists of:
FileDisk (a virtual disk driver) by Bo Branten
FileDiskExt.dll (shell extension to handle iso files) by Sherpya
FileDisk.inf (installer) by Bilou Gateux

Download FileDisk ISO Mounter 1.2 FileDisk ISO Mounter 1.2.1 now! It’s pretty sweet.

Note: I have only tested this on Windows XP Professional w/ SP2. Use at your own risk, but also, let me know if you have any issues.

Mounting an ISO images file to a virtual drive is simple.

  1. Right click on the ISO file
  2. Click Mount via FileDisk and
  3. Choose the drive letter to mount

Umounting is just a simple. You can either

  1. Right click the ISO file and choose “Umount ISO image from drive…” OR
  2. Right click the drive itself (My Computer) and choose “Umount…”

Thanks to all those mentioned above for coding the various components. Hopefully my package helps some people who are looking for a similar solution. Let me know if you use it!

By the way, I have tried ISOBuster, DaemonTools, Alcohol and a few others but they all seem to be bloated for my purposes.

Jan 24 2007

Africa: We’re going there!

Jeffrey Larson

Sarah and I have now booked our flights to Africa for this June/July. Oh man, we are so stoked!

Map of Africa

We’ve booked a 4 week trip to South Africa and Madagascar and Tanzania for this Summer. We got a fine deal on flights with Emirates Air, $1900 plus tax each. This will fly us from Calgary through Frankfurt (Germany) and Dubai (UAE) to Johannesburg (South Africa), and then from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) through Dubai and London (England) back to Calgary. We’ve arranged day or two stopovers in both Frankfurt and London to break up the long flights.

We’ve got the Africa on a shoestring Lonely Planet guide and we are starting to figure out where we want to go and what we want to see. Looks like flights are quite cheap within South Africa, so we’ll probably make a trip down to Cape Town. We both want to check out Ngorongoro Crater and we’re thinking about Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Not sure if you knew, but I (Jeff) got PADI scuba certification lessons for Christmas and Sarah got the same for her birthday, so we’ll be certified scuba divers before we head to Africa. We looking forward to diving with sharks and such off of Madagascar.

Ever been, or heard of someone going to these countries? Please post comments with any suggestions for stuff to do/see.

Also, watch for a new website that I plan on throwing together for our trip.

Jan 7 2007

GPS Camera

Jeffrey Larson

GPS Camera

I want my next digital camera to have GPS technology built-in. It would be cool to have a record of exactly where you were in the world (up to the meter) when you took each photograph. Not that I need a new camera, but I’m just saying.

I haven’t looked too too hard but the integration of these two technologies seems to still be something for the future.

Oct 11 2006

Apache httpd failed to restart

Jeffrey Larson

Today I went to restart my apache web server and it failed. The following message were in the error_log

[Wed Oct 11 10:41:04 2006] [notice] SELinux policy enabled; httpd running as context user_u:system_r:httpd_t
[Wed Oct 11 10:41:04 2006] [crit] (28) No space left on device: mod_rewrite: could not create rewrite_log_lock
Configuration Failed

After some troubleshooting with the help of Brenton, I googled the [crit] message and came up with this page: http://www.goldfisch.at/knowledge/224.

So after running the following command apache started up:
ipcs -s | grep apache | perl -e 'while () { @a=split(/\s+/); print `ipcrm sem $a[1]`}'

I supposed I should try and figure out what cause the problem in the first place… maybe some application or script has a memory leak.

Aug 18 2006

Batch Sleep

Jeffrey Larson

I’ve written a fair number of batch scripts in my day. Useful for fairly simple to moderately simple tasks in Windows, batch scripting usually works without any extras required.

I just found a trick that allows a script to have delay time between executed statements, without needing extra .exe’s. It uses the ping command which is found on every windows operating system.


ECHO.Closing in 5 Seconds
ECHO .....
CALL :sleep 1
ECHO ....
CALL :sleep 1
ECHO ...
CALL :sleep 1
CALL :sleep 1
CALL :sleep 1

:: sleep for x number of seconds
ping -n 2 -w 1000 > NUL
ping -n %1 -w 1000 > NUL

Hope you find this handy!

Jul 13 2006

PHP Function Search (Firefox)

Jeffrey Larson

If you develop with PHP you know that php.net is a good resource for the language reference. Find yourself going to the site a lot?

Click the link below to add a PHP function list search to your Search Engine List in Firefox:
PHP Manual (EN)

I found this at http://mycroft.mozdev.org/


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!