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Mick Morgan: inappropriate use of technology

Planet ALUG - Mon, 30/06/2014 - 13:49

I have been travelling a lot over the last few months (Czech Republic, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy). That travel, plus my catching up on a load of reading is my excuse for the woeful lack of posts to trivia of late. But hey, sometimes life gets in the way of blogging – which is as it should be.

A couple of things struck me whilst I have been away though. Firstly, and most bizarrely I noticed a significant number of tourists in popular, and hugely photogenic, locations (such as Prague and Dubrovnik) wandering around staring at their smartphones rather than looking at the reality around them. At first I thought that they were just checking photographs they had taken, or possibly that they were texting or emailing friends and relatives about their holidays, or worse, posting to facebook, but that did not appear to be the case. Then by chance I overheard one tourist telling his partner that they needed to “turn left ahead” whilst they walked past me so it struck me that they might just possibly be using google maps to navigate. So I watched others more carefully. And I must conclude that many people were doing just that. I can’t help but feel a little saddened that someone should choose to stare at a google app on a small screen in their hand than look at the beauty of something like the Charles Bridge across the Vlatva.

The second point which struck me was how much of a muppet you look if you use an iPad to take photographs.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Slowly releasing bits of code

Planet HantsLUG - Sun, 29/06/2014 - 14:37

As previously mentioned I've been working on git-based DNS hosting for a while now.

The site was launched for real last Sunday, and since that time I've received enough paying customers to cover all the costs, which is nice.

Today the site was "relaunched", by which I mean almost nothing has changed, except the site looks completely different - since the templates/pages/content is all wrapped up in Bootstrap now, rather than my ropy home-made table-based layout.

This week coming I'll be slowly making some of the implementation available as free-software, having made a start by publishing CGI::Application::Plugin::AB - a module designed for very simple A/B testing.

I don't think there will be too much interest in most of the code, but one piece I'm reasonably happy with is my webhook-receiver.

Webhooks are at the core of how my service is implemented:

  • You create a repository to host your DNS records.
  • You configure a webhook to be invoked when pushing to that repository.
  • The webhook will then receive updates, and magically update your DNS.

Because the webhook must respond quickly, otherwise github/bitbucket/whatever will believe you've timed out and report an error, you can't do much work on the back-end.

Instead I've written a component that listens for incoming HTTP POSTS, parses the body to determine which repository that came from, and then enqueues the data for later processing.

A different process will be constantly polling the job-queue (which in my case is Redis, but could be beanstalkd, or similar. Hell even use MySQL if you're a masochist) and actually do the necessary magic.

Most of the webhook processor is trivial, but handling different services (github, bitbucket, etc) while pretending they're all the same is hard. So my little toy-service will be released next week and might be useful to others.

ObRandom: New pricing unveiled for users of a single zone - which is a case I never imagined I'd need to cover. Yay for A/B testing :)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Martin Wimpress: Humax Foxsat HDR Custom Firmware

Planet HantsLUG - Sun, 29/06/2014 - 12:00

I've had the notes kicking around for absolutely ages. I haven't checked to see if this stuff is still accurate because during the last 12 months or so our viewing habbits have changed and we almost exclusively watch streamed content now.

That said, my father-in-law gave us a Humax Foxsat HDR Freesat digital recorder as a thank you for some work I did for him. It turns out the Humax Foxsat HDR is quite hackable.

Hard Disk Upgrade

I contributed to the topic below. The Humax firmware only supports disks up to 1TB but the hackers method works for 2TB drives, possibly bigger but I haven't tried. I've upgraded mine and my father-in-laws to 2TB without any problems.

Custom Firmware

These are the topics that discuss the custom firmware itself and includes the downloads. Once the custom firmware is installed and it's advanced interface has been enabled you can enable several add-ons such as Samba, Mediatomb, ssh, ftp, etc.

Web Interface

This is the topic about the web interface. No download required it is bundled in the custom firmware above.

Channel Editor

The channel editor is installed and configured via the web interface and is one of my favourite add-ons. It also allows you to enable non-freesat channels in the normal guide.

Non Freesat channels

We get our broadcasts from Astra 2A / Astra 2B / Astra 2D / Eurobird 1 (28.2°E). Other free to air channels are available and KingOfSat lists them all. These channels can only be added via the Humax setup menus, but can then be presented in the normal EPG using the Channel Editor above.

Decrypt HD recordings

I never actually tried this, but what follows might be useful.

OTA updates

This is not so relevant now, since Humax haven't released an OTA update for some time.

I have not yet found a way to prevent automatic over the air updates from being automatically applied. When an over the air update is applied the Humax still works, but the web interface and all the add-ons stop working. The can be solved by waiting for the custom firmware to be updated (which happen remarkably quickly) and then re-flashing the custom firmware. All the add-ons should start working again.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Adam Trickett: Bog Roll: New Time Piece

Planet HantsLUG - Sat, 28/06/2014 - 17:11

Personal portable tine pieces are strange things. My first watch was a small red wind-up Timex that I was given when I could read the time. The strap eventually frayed out but it was still in good order when I was given a Timex LCD digital watch when they became popular and cheap. That watch lasted all of 12 months before it died to be replaced by a Casio digital watch which lasted many years and many straps.

At University I had my grandfather's watch, a mechanical Swiss watch that was very accurate as long as I remembered to keep it wound up. I continued to wear it as my regular watch in my first job. The only problem with this watch was it wasn't shock or waterproof and it was no good when I forgot to wind it up! My better half got me a Casio hybrid analogue/digital watch which I used for many years as my out doors/DIY watch.

I was somewhat disappointed when the resin case failed and though the watch was okay it wasn't wearable anymore and I replaced it with two watches, another similar Casio and a titanium cased Lorus quartz analogue display watch. The Casio failed in exactly the same was as the previous ones, dead straps and the a case failure.

My most recent watch is a Seiko titanium cased quartz analogue display similar to the Lorus (they are the same company) but this one is slightly nicer and battery is solar re-charged so it should never need replacing. The strap is also made of titanium so unlike the continually failing resin straps it should also last quite a bit longer...

The irony of all these watches is that I sit in-front of a computer for a living, and often at home - all of which have network synchronised clocks on them that are far more reliable than any of my wrist-watches. When I'm not at a computer I usually have my mobile phone with me or another high precision time pieces is available...

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Brett Parker (iDunno): Sony Entertainment Networks Insanity

Planet ALUG - Sat, 28/06/2014 - 16:54

So, I have a SEN account (it's part of the PSN), I have 2 videos with SEN, I have a broken PS3 so I can no deactivate video (you can only do that from the console itself, yes, really)... and the response from SEN has been abysmal, specifically:

As we take the security of SEN accounts very seriously, we are unable to provide support on this matter by e-mail as we will need you to answer some security questions before we can investigate this further. We need you to phone us in order to verify your account details because we're not allowed to verify details via e-mail.

I mean, seriously, they're going to verify my details over the phone better than over e-mail how exactly? All the contact details are tied to my e-mail account, I have logged in to their control panel and renamed the broken PS3 to "Broken PS3", I have given them the serial number of the PS3, and yet they insist that I need to call them, because apparently they're fucking stupid. I'm damned glad that I only ever got 2 videos from SEN, both of which I own on DVD now anyways, this kind of idiotic tie in to a system is badly wrong.

So, you phone the number... and now you get stuck with hold music for ever... oh, yeah, great customer service here guys. I mean, seriously, WTF.

OK - 10 minutes on the phone, and still being told "One of our advisors will be with you shortly". I get the feeling that I'll just be writing off the 2 videos that I no longer have access to.

I'm damned glad that I didn't decide to buy more content from that - at least you can reset the games entitlement once every six months without jumping through all these hoops (you have to reactivate each console that you still want to use, but hey).

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Martin Wimpress: Integrating Dropbox photo syncing with Open Media Vault and Plex

Planet HantsLUG - Sat, 28/06/2014 - 12:00

I've installed Open Media Vault on a HP ProLiant MicroServer G7 N54L and use it as media server for the house. OpenMediaVault (OMV) is a network attached storage (NAS) solution based on Debian Linux. At the time of writing OMV 0.5.x is based on Debian 6.0 (Squeeze).

I use a free Dropbox account to sync photos from mine and my wife's Android phones and wanted to automate to import of these photo upload into Plex, which is also running on Open Media Vault.

Installing Dropbox on Open Media Vault 0.5.x

I looked for a Dropbox Plugin for Open Media Vault and found this:

Sadly, at the time of writing, it is unfinished and I didn't have the time to go and learn the Open Media Vault plugin API.

The Open Media Vault forum does include a Dropbox HOW-TO which is very similar to how I've run Dropbox on headless Linux servers in the past. So, I decided to adapt my existing notes to Open Media Vault.

Create a Dropbox Share

Create a Dropbox share via the OMV WebUI.

  • Access Right Management -> Shared Folders

I gave my the name "Dropbox". I know, very original.

Installing Dropbox on a headless server

Download the latest Dropbox stable release for 32-bit or 64-bit.

wget -O dropbox.tar.gz "http://www.dropbox.com/download/?plat=lnx.x86" wget -O dropbox.tar.gz "http://www.dropbox.com/download/?plat=lnx.x86_64"

Extract the archive and install Dropbox in /opt.

cd tar -xvzf dropbox.tar.gz sudo mv ~/.dropbox-dist /opt/dropbox sudo find /opt/dropbox/ -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \; sudo chmod 755 /opt/dropbox/dropboxd sudo chmod 755 /opt/dropbox/dropbox sudo ln -s /opt/dropbox/dropboxd /usr/local/bin/dropboxd

Run dropboxd.

/usr/local/bin/dropboxd

You should see output like this:

This client is not linked to any account... Please visit https://www.dropbox.com/cli_link?host_id=d3adb33fcaf3d3adb33fcaf3d3adb33f to link this machine.

Visit the URL, login with your Dropbox account and link the account. You should see the following.

Client successfully linked, Welcome Web!

dropboxd will now create a ~/Dropbox folder and start synchronizing. Stop dropboxd with CTRL+C.

Symlink the Dropbox share

Login to the OMV server as root and sym-link the Dropbox share you created earlier to the Dropbox directory in the root home directory.

mv ~/Dropbox ~/Dropbox-old ln -s /media/<UUID>/Dropbox Dropbox rsync -av -W --progress ~/Dropbox-old/ ~/Dropbox/ init.d

To run Dropbox as daemon with init.d. Create /etc/init.d/dropbox with the following content.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65#!/bin/sh ### BEGIN INIT INFO # Provides: dropbox # Required-Start: $local_fs $remote_fs $network $syslog $named # Required-Stop: $local_fs $remote_fs $network $syslog $named # Default-Start: 2 3 4 5 # Default-Stop: 0 1 6 # X-Interactive: false # Short-Description: dropbox service ### END INIT INFO DROPBOX_USERS="root" DAEMON=/opt/dropbox/dropbox start() { echo "Starting dropbox..." for dbuser in $DROPBOX_USERS; do HOMEDIR=`getent passwd $dbuser | cut -d: -f6` if [ -x $DAEMON ]; then HOME="$HOMEDIR" start-stop-daemon -b -o -c $dbuser -S -u $dbuser -x $DAEMON fi done } stop() { echo "Stopping dropbox..." for dbuser in $DROPBOX_USERS; do HOMEDIR=`getent passwd $dbuser | cut -d: -f6` if [ -x $HOMEDIR/$DAEMON ]; then start-stop-daemon -o -c $dbuser -K -u $dbuser -x $DAEMON fi done } status() { for dbuser in $DROPBOX_USERS; do dbpid=`pgrep -u $dbuser dropbox` if [ -z $dbpid ] ; then echo "dropboxd for USER $dbuser: not running." else echo "dropboxd for USER $dbuser: running (pid $dbpid)" fi done } case "$1" in start) start ;; stop) stop ;; restart|reload|force-reload) stop start ;; status) status ;; *) echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/dropbox {start|stop|reload|force-reload|restart|status}" exit 1 esac exit 0

Enable the init.d script.

sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/dropbox sudo update-rc.d dropbox defaults Starting and Stopping the Dropbox daemon

Use /etc/init.d/dropbox start to start and /etc/init.d/dropbox stop to stop.

Dropbox client

It is recommended to download the official Dropbox client to configure Dropbox and get its status.

wget "http://www.dropbox.com/download?dl=packages/dropbox.py" -O dropbox chmod 755 dropbox sudo mv dropbox /usr/local/bin/

You can check on Dropbox status by running the following.

dropbox status

For usage instructions run dropbox help.

Photo importing

So, the reason for doing all this is that I now have a Dropbox instance running on my home file server and everyday it runs a script, that I wrote, to automatically import new photos into a directory that Plex monitors. I'll post details about my photo sorting script, Phort, at a later date.

References
Categories: LUG Community Blogs

MJ Ray: #coops14 sees last days of Downham Food Co-op

Planet ALUG - Fri, 27/06/2014 - 11:14

While  cooperatives fortnight is mostly a celebration of how well cooperatives are doing in the UK, this year is tinged with sadness for me because it sees Downham Food Coop stop trading.

This Friday and Saturday will be their last market stall, 9til 1 on the Town Square, aka Clock or Pump square.

As you can see, the downturn has hit the market hard and I guess being the last stall left outside the market square (see picture: it used to have neighbouring stalls!) was just too much. The coop cites shortage of volunteers and trading downturn as reasons for closure.

But if you’re near Downham today or tomorrow morning, please take advantage of this last chance to buy some great products in West Norfolk!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Jonathan McDowell: Forms of communication

Planet ALUG - Thu, 26/06/2014 - 23:39

I am struck by the fragmentation in communication mechanisms. Let's look at how I have communicated with my friends in the past few days:

  • Phone call
    Tried and tested, though I tend to avoid them. I've made some deliberate calls to sort out immediate plans, and at least one accidental call caused by user error which resulted in talking to someone it was good to hear from.
  • Text message
    Again, reasonably tried and tested. I miss the inability to use Google Voice when I'm in the UK; I'd much rather read and compose text messages from my web browser when I'm near a computer than type them on my phone, even if it does have a keyboard.
  • Email
    One of my favourite methods of communication. Suitable for quick messages or longer screeds. I can throw links in and expect you to be able to click them. I can put lots of detail so that everything is covered easily. I can confuse you by quoting correctly. I guess while I do read email on my phone I'm less likely to reply there as I'm always a bit embarrassed how the clients cope with replies.
  • IRC
    Like, I suspect, many readers of my blog posts, I'm still a daily user of IRC. There are friends I keep in touch with mostly via this method. It's great. It's like Twitter for old people and much better in many ways.
  • Skype
    This started out as a work thing. It was the way in which the Belfast office communicated with the US, it become the way the Belfast office communicated with each other and when I moved on it was the way in which I kept in contact with a group of people I consider good friends. It's great for calls (I feel bad saying that, but it's an idea executed well across multiple platforms and any other VOIP stuff I've played with has been much more of a hassle), but the one to one and group chat functionality is pretty spot on as well. Also has the advantage that I can turn it off and mostly not end up with work queries.
  • Google Hangouts
    I actually quite like these. They work on my phone, I can poke them from a web browser, I can dump more than just text into them. IRC is better in some ways, but I do like the additional flexibility I get from a Hangout. It doesn't play well with people who haven't drunk the Google koolaid, which is the main reason I haven't managed to convince the Skype group chat group to move it over here.
  • Facebook messenger
    I hate this. On the face of it there's not a lot of difference between it and Hangouts, but the app wants more and more privileges, I'm less likely to be logged into Facebook (e.g. I avoid it at work, whereas there are good reasons I'd be logged into my Google account there, though less so since the demise of Reader) and I don't think it's as nicely implemented. However there are a few people who it's easiest to get hold of via this method. And there's a certain amount of mesmerisation by the floaty wee faces it invokes on my phone.

While some of these work better for me than others really what I'd like is to use fewer of them, and I can't see that happening any time soon. I don't want to have to run a handful of different messaging apps on my phone. I also don't want to be limited to only using my laptop or my phone for something - I'd much prefer to be able to pickup the phone, laptop or tablet depending on what I'm up to and have my full range of communication available. Some of these things can be aggregated together, but that will then lose some of the advantages. And I'm sure that even if I got rid of one or two of the above there'd be something to fill the gap along shortly (I have, for example, so far completely avoided WhatsApp).

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

MJ Ray: New comments methods

Planet ALUG - Wed, 25/06/2014 - 21:04

After years of resisting it, I’ve added the least evil Twitter/Facebook comments plugin I could find to this blog as a test and updated the comments policy a little.

Please kick the tyres and try commenting to see if it works, phase.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: So I accidentally ... a service.

Planet HantsLUG - Mon, 23/06/2014 - 20:44

This post is partly introspection, and partly advertising. Skip if it either annoys you.

Back in February I was thinking about what to do with myself. I had two main options "Get a job", and "Start a service". Because I didn't have any ideas that seemed terribly interesting I asked people what they would pay for.

There were several replies, largely based "infrastructure hosting" (which was pretty much 50/50 split between "DNS hosting", and project hosting with something like trac, redmine, or similar).

At the time DNS seemed hard, and later I discovered there were already at least two well-regarded people doing DNS things, with revision control.

So I shelved the idea, after reaching out to both companies to no avail. (This later lead to drama, but we'll pretend it didn't.) Ultimately I sought and acquired gainful employment.

Then, during the course of my gainful employment I was exposed to Amazons Route53 service. It looked like I was going to be doing many things with this, so I wanted to understand it more thoroughly than I did. That lead to the creation of a Dynamic-DNS service - which seemed to be about the simplest thing you could do with the ability to programatically add/edit/delete DNS records via an API.

As this was a random hack put together over the course of a couple of nights I didn't really expect it to be any more popular than anything else I'd deployed, and with the sudden influx of users I wanted to see if I could charge people. Ultimately many people pretended they'd pay, but nobody actually committed. So on that basis I released the source code and decided to ignore the two main missing features - lack of MX records, and lack of sub-sub-domains. (Isn't it amazing how people who claim they want "open source" so frequently mean they want something with zero cost, they can run, and never modify and contribute toward?)

The experience of doing that though, and the reminder of the popularity of the original idea made me think that I could do a useful job with Git + DNS combined. That lead to DNS-API - GitHub based DNS hosting.

It is early days, but it looks like I have a few users, and if I can get more then I'll be happy.

So if you want to to store your DNS records in a (public) GitHub repository, and get them hosted on geographically diverse anycasted servers .. well you know where to go: Github-based DNS hosting.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Tony Whitmore: Tom Baker at 80

Planet HantsLUG - Mon, 23/06/2014 - 18:31

Back in March I photographed the legendary Tom Baker at the Big Finish studios in Kent. The occasion was the recording of a special extended interview with Tom, to mark his 80th birthday. The interview was conducted by Nicholas Briggs, and the recording is being released on CD and download by Big Finish.

I got to listen in to the end of the recording session and it was full of Tom’s own unique form of inventive story-telling, as well as moments of reflection. I got to photograph Tom on his own using a portable studio set up, as well as with Nick and some other special guests. All in about 7 minutes! The cover has been released now and it looks pretty good I think.

The CD is available for pre-order from the Big Finish website now. Pre-orders will be signed by Tom, so buy now!

Pin It
Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Meeting at "The Moon Under Water"

Wolverhampton LUG News - Mon, 23/06/2014 - 10:15
Event-Date: Wednesday, 25 June, 2014 - 19:30 to 23:00Body: 53-55 Lichfield St Wolverhampton West Midlands WV1 1EQ Eat, Drink and talk Linux
Categories: LUG Community Blogs
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