Blog entries from April, 2009

Should I try to be an Iron Man?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

A bit over a week ago I heard about Matt Trout’s proposal to get more people blogging about perl on a regular basis: We Are Iron Man. Basicially if you post about perl once a week (on average) for six months you qualify as an Iron Man.

An announcment without the swearing can be found courtesy of the Enlightened Perl Organisation.

It looks like this is gaining quite a bit of momentum as I have heard about it from quite a few different sources and there is a Planet Iron Man to show that there are quite a few contenders so far.

Should I enter?

I don’t know. While I should be able to keep up with the schedule, I’m not sure about the content as I don’t know what I have to say about perl.

To see what I have said that is remotely perl related, check out my blog posts tagged with perl. Not that much is there?

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Some road rules about lights

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Consider this road rule:

215. Using lights when driving at night or in hazardous weather conditions
     (1) A driver must not drive at night, or in hazardous weather
          conditions causing reduced visibility unless -
         (a) the headlights, tail lights and number plate light fitted to
             the driver's vehicle are operating effectively and are clearly
             visible; and
         (b) if the vehicle is fitted with clearance lights or side marker
             lights - those lights are operating effectively and are clearly
             visible.

And the accompanying definition from the dictionary:

night means the period between sunset on one day and sunrise on the next day.

This means that in Melbourne tomorrow you must not drive your car after 5:38PM without turning on your headlights.

The other aspects of this rule is about weather causing reduced visibility. I have yet to find a clear definition of this, but to me this is situtations where fog makes it hard to see, rain (even very light rain) makes it hard to see, heavy cloud cover makes it hard to see, etc.

Why am I mentioning this?

Because as a road user (both as a cyclist and car driver) I see a large proportion of other road users that do not know this rule. This is important because at night in busy traffic, what is the difference between a gap in the traffic and an idiot without their headlights on?

Read the rest of this entry…

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Foxit Reader and Vista’s User Account Control

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

For a while now I have been using Foxit Reader for PDF files instead of Adobe Acrobat, primarily because it doesn’t have all of the bloat.

However for a lot of that time whenever I opened a PDF I would get the User Account Control prompt from Vista asking me to authoise the action. I did look into it when it first started happening, but wasn’t able to find a solution.

Instead of being in HTML, the road rules are only available in PDF and the UAC prompt became really annoying when I was looking up the rules for my previous post.

An upgrade to the latest version didn’t fix the problem, so I looked into it again and found a thread – Foxit Reader and Vista’s UAC – in the Foxit forums and post #16 gave the following:

  1. Find FoxitReader.exe in the Program Files folder (C:\Program Files\Foxit Software\Foxit Reader)
  2. Right-Click on the Foxit Reader.exe file and select Properties.
  3. Under Compatibility tab, under Privilege Level, click Show settings for all users.
  4. Uncheck Run this program as an administrator.

I no longer get the UAC prompt when opening a PDF.

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Inconsistent responses from Victoria Police

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I’m annoyed with the Victorian Police at the moment.

Hold on… let me back up a bit…

This woman is a danger to other road users and should not be allowed to drive a vehicle:

UTN-201 has a dangerous driver

Whoops… not far back enough…

On Thursday I was riding to work as usual and had turned into Ivanhoe Street from Waverley Road, my next turn is a right into Leicester Ave. As I was nearing the right turn I heard the car behind me – I had seen it in my mirror – come over the speedhump quite hard (ie quite fast) so I moved a bit more to the right (to be just to the left of the centre of the road) and indicated right in accordance with this road rule:

31.  Starting a right turn from a road (except a multi-lane road)
     (3) If the road does not have a dividing line or median strip
         and is not a one-way road, the driver must approach and
         enter the intersection from the left of, parallel to, and as
         near as practicable to, the centre of the road.

So there I was: riding to the left of the centre of the road and indicating right. So what did the car do?

Read the rest of this entry…

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My email setup

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 8:25 pm

It is now the end of a five day (one more than most others as we get Easter Tuesday) long weekend. Apart from relaxing and watching a lot of tv, I did manage to do some cleaning up.

In the two and a half years since I shifted my email to my Ubuntu box I have been meaning to post about it (one of the unfinished posts). Over the weekend I came across some notes that I had made when setting up everthing under Ubuntu (from packages with minimal configuration), one page of which is a diagram.

This seemed like a good starting point so here it is:

Diagram of personal email setup

After all this time the setup has not changed, apart from the addition of another client in the form of my iPhone.

So if someone were to send me an email message:

  • It is delivered to a mailbox on my hosting provider (possibly going through a forward)
  • Fetchmail runs as a daemon and polls the mailbox every five minutes and delivers to the local postfix
  • Postfix determines the message is for a local mailbox and hands it to procmail
  • Procmail writes it into a Maildir mailbox, possibly running it through SpamAssassin first

My other source of messages is from scripts (such as rss2email) that run on the same box, these are also delivered to postfix and then to procmail.

If I want to read the messages all of the access is through the Dovecot IMAP server, only configured for SSL, which works nicely for Thunderbird, my iPhone and SquirrelMail (which I rarely use).

When sending a message, Thunderbird on my desktop is configured to send it through the previously mentioned Postfix. If it is addressed to an external address the message is handed off to my ISP’s SMTP server for delivery (I would prefer to deliver it directly, but their network configuration prevents that). A copy is placed in my sent folder over IMAP.

The fact that none of this has changed in over two years shows how stable this has been for me, although there have actually been some internal changes:

  • Since OSDC last December I have been filtering all of the messages from rss2email into a separate folder. This enables me to process news less often than other messages.
  • I no longer have a copy of all the SPAM messages I have received in the last four years. This was 2.6GB of messages that I never did anything with except a couple of times to check what addresses I was receiving the SPAM through. Now once I have run sa-learn on the messages that I have manually filtered and reviewed how I was getting the SPAM, I will simply delete them.

Now, after finally posting about it, I have another post to write: about whether or not to ditch this setup and outsource it to the cloud. Actually that is two posts as I have another (long) post in mind about how much to trust the cloud.

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What feeds do I read?

Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

It has been two and a half years since I started using rss2email and it still works for me.

However, over the last few months there are items from some feeds that I usually delete without reading beyond the title. Due to the large number of feeds (over 100), I had been putting off any effort to sort through the list and remove feeds that I no longer want to read.

This afternoon I decided it was time, so I reviewed each feed to decide whether or not I wanted to continue reading it. I eliminated quite a few feeds (down to under 70) and now have a better picture of the topics that interest me:

  • team and people management
  • presenting and communication
  • time management and organisation
  • software development techniques
  • web design and development
  • perl news
  • people from the local tech community
  • local tech events
  • tech news
  • photography
  • security (technical and people)
  • censorship and rights
  • trivia and other cool stuff
  • other people that I know

I was initially going to list all of the feeds here, but that was going to be too much work (ability to export OPML from rss2email would have been handy), so as I sorted through them I bookmarked them (with some exceptions) on Delicious with the tag feed-subscription. Go have a look if you want.

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April fool’s day pranks annoy me

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Today is the first of April. To many that means April fool’s day pranks.

I have to admit that I don’t actually mind a good prank (the PTUA one made me chuckle), but they don’t work on the internet.

First is the timezone issue. To me it is early afternoon on April 1 and I have seen some good pranks from local sites. But by the time it is April 1 in the US, it is April 2 before I see their pranks, they are then just stupid as I am back to expecting legitimate content. This is compounded by the tradition of pranks in Australia only lasting until noon, while in the US they last all day.

Second is how the prank is followed up. If it stays available (eg as an archived post/article) then it must be modified to make of clear that it was an April fools prank. It is not reasonable to expect that someone finding it in the future will notice that the date (often in fine print) was April 1. A follow up post/article handles the regular readers, but does nothing to help those who go straight to the prank post/article.

It’s about respecting your audience, they may not be from the same area (also extends to other cultural things) or they may not be viewing the content until some unknown point on the future.

Update: Once I got home it was actually April 1 in the US and I started seeing some more. I have to agree with Dan that the dead-pixel pandemic is quite good.

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