February 23, 2009

Advertising Windows Services with Avahi Zeroconf

One of the more annoying things about having Windows hosts on a Mac network is the lack of good Zeroconf support in Windows. I have figured out a way around this though. If you have Avahi running on a Linux server somewhere on the network, you can use that Linux server to advertise services on the Windows machine. Let's take VNC for example.

This example assumes that you are advertising services for a Windows machine with a static IP address. Without a static IP address, maintenance becomes a nightmare. The version of Windows doesn't matter, nor does the OS at all, really. Let's assume that we are advertising for a Windows XP system, at IP address, named testmachine.

First off, let's create a hosts entry for Avahi in the /etc/avahi/hosts file: testmachine.local

You'll always want to use the .local domain for Mac OSX compatibility. Even if you have a FQDN, use .local

Next, we need to create a .service file in /etc/avahi/services named testmachine.service :

<?xml version="1.0" standalone='no'?>
<!DOCTYPE service-group SYSTEM "avahi-service.dtd">
<name replace-wildcards="yes">Test Machine</name>
<service protocol="ipv4">

Restart Avahi, and you're good to go. If you start up Screen Sharing, you should now see "Test Machine" automagically.

It's just as easy to share other services as well. Once you know how to use the domain-name and host-name parameters correctly, the sky's the limit.

February 8, 2009

CWA Union Votes to Strike

From Boy Genius Report:

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union has voted, with a huge 85 percent yes vote, to authorize a strike for over 20,000 unionized AT&T Mobility employees. If union leaders do not come to terms with AT&T, the strike could begin as soon as today in 37 states where contracts are set to expire at 12:01 am tomorrow, February 8th.

I say, let them strike. Do it. With the unemployment figures where they are, I would venture a guess that there are plenty of people ready to take those jobs. Remember the Air Traffic Controllers strike of 1981? Randall Stephenson needs to take a page out of Ronald Reagan's handbook and fire each and every person who doesn't show up to work. AT&T has been cutting back, and this makes it all that much easier. Don't show up, you don't work here. It's that simple. Hold a job fair, and get back to business ... without the union, of course. Once the contract expires, they are in the clear.

January 20, 2009

iPhone app coming together nicely

In the course of chasing out a nasty memory leak bug, I ended up rewriting 95% of the code. Good news is that I've not only chased out the bugs, but I've made the app more compatible with older OS versions. And I got the accelerometer code working!

Items left to finish:

  • Add preferences pane
  • Finish up artwork
  • Complete recordings
  • Branch code for Free/Lite version
  • Complete Free/Lite version
  • Lots of testing

I have plans for a free version of the app, and a paid "Premium" version.

January 19, 2009

Coming soon to an iPhone near you

I am getting VERY close to finishing my first iPhone app. I have the artwork done, all of the synthesized sounds done, and the base application done. All that is left is to add the accelerometer code (shaky shaky) and record the rest of the sounds. I got my developer license in today, so I can actually build my apps and run them on iPhones! I needed that to test the accelerometer code ... the simulator doesn't simulate the accelerometer.

It has been an interesting process so far. I was prepared to wait weeks to get my developer license, but Apple sent it to me the next day. 'magine that, eh?

November 27, 2008

Applescript FAIL

This is the type of shit that really pisses me off. I recently got back from a week in Hawaii with my wife. We shot over 3000 photos. I went through all of the separate events, flagged the best photos, and whittled it down to 1800. I wanted to create a DVD using only the flagged photos. iDVD doesn't make this easy for you ... you have to add a slideshow manually, then select the iPhoto Event, individually select each flagged photo, then add them to the slideshow. I figured that something like this would be good to automate with AppleScript. The problem is, I can't find any documentation for what methods are available for iDVD or iPhoto via AppleScript.

Then I remembered my ADC membership! HA! I'll go look there. I log in ... scroll down ... there it is:
So I click it ...
Why is it so complicated for companies to have accurate information on their websites? You would think a company the size of Apple would, at a minimum be able to publish a website without any 404 errors.

June 26, 2007

Sick of the iPhone

John Dvorak has an excellent article up @ Yahoo! News expressing his disdain for the hype surrounding the iPhone. The opening is pure poetry:

This is the last week of Apple iPhone hype, hyperbole, and hand-wringing. Oh wait, I mean the last week of pre-iPhone hype, hyperbole, and hand-wringing—we have a few more post-iPhone months left on the calendar. I am sick of it. It's all anyone talks about. It dominates the news. It dominates the podcasts and videocasts and magazines. ADVERTISEMENT

Hitler got less coverage when he invaded Poland.

I couldn't agree more. I'm absolutely sick of hearing about the iPhone, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and a whole host of other useless subjects. I bought a new phone a couple weeks after the iPhone was announced, and I couldn't be happier with it. I wanted a phone with EVDO that I could tether to my laptop for fast Internet access while traveling at customer sites. To that end, the phone works beautifully.

I have a 1GB shuffle, 2GB nano, and a 60GB iPod video. Both my cell-phone and BlackBerry can play MP3 music and video. The last thing I need is to blow another $500 bux on yet another gadget that doesn't do anything new. I am not going to pay $500 for a "slick new touchscreen interface." Quite frankly, I could care less. I am getting a new MacBook Pro though :)

April 23, 2007

UPDATED: Digg Direct RSS Feeds

The Digg Direct RSS Feeds that I created a few weeks ago have been fixed.

Digg recently added a requirement that all applications include an Application Key with an application requests a feed. That's fine by me, it's their service, they get to make the rules.

A quick update to my cronjob, and everything is back on track. I even did a bit of touch-up work on the XSLT to clean the look up a bit.

If you missed it the first time, here are the feeds again:

Digg - Technology - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - Entertainment - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - Gaming - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - Science - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - World & Business - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - All Popular - Direct RSS - Feed -

You can also download an OPML file to import into your favorite RSS aggregator here. These feeds are updated every two minutes, and are a direct translation of the feeds.

April 9, 2007

Digg Direct RSS Feeds

I like reading Digg, but I very much dislike their RSS feeds. The RSS feeds don't include links direct to the article, don't show the number of diggs, etc. Digg does offer a "services" XML feed that includes all the information I want, but not in RSS format.

I got frustrated enough that I wrote an XSL Stylesheet to translate the Digg services XML feeds into RSS feeds. I have even posted them all up on FeedBurner:

Digg - Technology - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - Entertainment - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - Gaming - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - Science - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - World & Business - Direct RSS Feed -
Digg - All Popular - Direct RSS - Feed -

You can also download an OPML file to import into your favorite RSS aggregator here. These feeds are updated every two minutes, and are a direct translation of the feeds.

You can also download a copy of my XSL file here.

Comments/suggestions welcome.

February 24, 2007

Firefox changes open dialog behavior yet again

I previously wrote an article regarding Mozilla Firefox no longer allowing one to "Open" files that are clicked on. In that article, I described a small hack that you could use to change the behavior back.

Mozilla released version of Firefox, which included several bug fixes, including bug #347230.

Bug #347230 included a patch that overwrites my workaround.

The new code you will find, is at Line 385 in nsHelperAppDlg.js:

      if (shouldntRememberChoice && !this.openWithDefaultOK()) {

If you want to re-enable the workaround, change this to:

      if (shouldntRememberChoice && noDefaultApp && false) {

If you want to be able to directly launch executables, also look for the following around line 551:

        return !tmpFile.isExecutable();

Change this to:

        return true;

After that, the behavior goes back to what it used to be before the Mozilla developers decided they are smarter than us lowly users who need protection from the big bad Internet.

January 17, 2007

NTSB Releasing Report on Kentucky Plane Crash Today

NTSB files: Pilots in Kentucky crash puzzled by runway - Jeffrey Mcmurray, AP

NTSB officials on Wednesday opened the public docket on the Kentucky crash that killed 49 of 50 people on board. Polehinke, the lone survivor, lost a leg and suffered brain damage from the crash. He has told family members he remembers nothing about that morning.

The article goes on to indicate that the pilot thought the fact that the lights were out was "weird" and exclaimed "whoa" moments before the crash.

I don't know about you, but if I was moving onto a runway that had no lights, I would have at least asked for confirmation that I was in the right place.

November 9, 2006

Get ready for the telemarketers

One of the things I love about Vonage phone service is that I never get harassed by telemarketers. Well, that is all about to change. Vonage just updated their Privacy Policy, and there is one section that stands out:

Opt-out Policy If you do not want your PII used by Vonage for any direct marketing purposes, then you may opt-out of such disclosures by calling us at 1-VONAGE-HELP (1-866-243-4357).

What does that tell you? Vonage is a publicly traded company now. They need to start turning a profit after their abysmal IPO that has landed them a class-action lawsuit. I almost jumped in on the Vonage IPO after missing opportunities in the Red Hat and VA Linux IPO's. This new desire to turn a profit, coupled with the new privacy policy, means that Vonage is either planning on, or has already begun selling subscriber info to marketers.

I called in to opt-out, and they don't make it easy. You start in voice-mail jail, where I had to navigate through three layers of menus, before jamming 0 to get a rep. Once I waited long enough to get a rep on the phone, I had to give my name, phone number, username, email address, and credit card billing address, just to verify I am who I say I am. Once that was done, I asked to opt-out of the new privacy policy. I was then asked "which phone number" I wanted to opt-out. I informed the genius on the other end of the call, I only have ONE Vonage number. He got me sorted out, and I ended the call. There is only one thing that bothers me. This new policy went into effect yesterday, and there is this little nugget in the opt-out policy:

However, we are not responsible for removing your PII from the lists of any third party who has previously been provided your information in accordance with this policy. Since Vonage must use a Customer's PII in order to provide them with Vonage services, Customers cannot opt-out of all uses of their PII unless they cancel their service.

Great. That means that if they sold my name/number yesterday, I'm going to get calls regardless. Thanks Vonage. I was one of your first customers, and this is how you repay my loyalty. Maybe it's time to switch to Skype.

November 1, 2006

Fix for Firefox 2.0 Open File Dialog Default Action Change

Ever since I installed Mozilla Firefox 2.0 I have noticed that certain file extensions that I used to be able to "Open" by clicking now pop up this new dialog box that doesn't show the open option at all, and only allows FlashGot. It took me a while to realize that there was a "Save" button that would allow me to save the file, and open it from the download manager. Why should I have to go through the extra step.

I did a bit of googling, and found this flame war that erupted in July while Firefox 2.0 was still in Beta, which lead me to bug #315536 and yet another flame war.

It appears as if the intent was to "protect" people from accidentally configuring Firefox to always open executables without prompting. In my opinion, they threw the baby out with the bath water, and now any mime-type that isn't explicitly configured in Firefox gets the new screwy dialog:


This annoyed the hell out of me, so I decided to try a suggestion from that first flame war. I found the nsHelperAppDlg.js file in C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\components and changed:

      if (shouldntRememberChoice && noDefaultApp) {


      if (shouldntRememberChoice && noDefaultApp && false) {

After a quick restart of Firefox, the dialog changed to:


This may get overwritten if I upgrade/re-install Firefox, but I can deal with that. This is a simple enough change that just about anyone should be able to do it. It's always a good idea to make a backup copy of the file before you make the change though. Enjoy!

Update: If you are having trouble with this workaround after updating to Firefox, read this update.