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27 May 2008

Open Source Conference in Athens

Yeah, missed that one

Noticed this morning that the 3rd conference on Open Source Software in Athens is under way today and tomorrow. I totally missed the event. Which is a pity since this afternoon for example Diomedes Spinelli is going to speak. The Schedule can be found at the conference site.

Posted by betabug at 10:25 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 May 2008

vim 7.1 with Unicode / UTF-8 on Mac OS X 10.4

Here we go

On my MacBook with Mac OS X 10.4, vim 6 was installed and worked fine with Greek text in UTF-8 encoding. Today I tried to install VST (a package to work with ReStructuredText in vim) and noticed that I need vim in version 7. Downloaded vim, compiled it and VST worked, but... Greek characters didn't work. At first I thought I'd have to compile my own ncursesw and figure out how to compile vim to link in the wide curses, but in the end I didn't need any of that. Only had to specify that I want vim with wide-char support in configure:

% ./configure --with-features=big
configure: creating cache auto/config.cache
checking whether make sets $(MAKE)... yes
       .... lots and lots of output ....
% make
       .... lots and lots of output ....
% sudo make install

... and then convince my shell to use my "new" vim 7 instead of the standard vim 6. I did that by setting an alias in my shell setup file. Nice bonus: vim now has a spell checker, though I have yet to configure it with a Greek word list. Also on the todo-list: Figure out why I can't generate LaTeX documents with Greek characters out of VST.

Posted by betabug at 18:21 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Greek spell checker in vim 7

Got it working

A quick addition to the last post: Got the spell checker in vim 7 working with Greek right now. What I did:

In the end, a shortcut for the :setlocal spell spelllang=el bit could go into your .vimrc file.

Posted by betabug at 19:04 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
05 June 2008

Web Developer wanted in Athens

What's with those PHP guys hiding?

My friend Manos (aka "scud" from HelMUG) is looking for a web developer. He's looking for a while already. I know him for a long time now and I know from experience that he's a serious guy to work with, so I can really recommend him. I've been to their new offices, which are very nice, close to the sea (ok, not really next to the sea, but close enough to be able to get to the sea for a stroll after work), decently reachable by public transport.

The job he offers is for someone for full time, working in their offices. They have various projects for clients and some of their own stuff. The catch: It's apparently mostly PHP. You can go and check out his JobAd (in Greek, on my wiki for now).

So what's it with programmers in Greece? Heck, PHP isn't rocket science! There ought to be some people around who know decent PHP (or other web technologies, personally I don't like PHP at all, but don't let that stop you) and are looking for a good job. But so far... no, he's still searching. There are lots of kids who know zilch, nothing out there. BTW: No, knowing "Dreamweaver" is not a substitute for knowing the underlying HTML and that's just one example of the kind of stuff he got. Anyway, if you are interested or know someone who might be, check out the ad (in Greek).

Posted by betabug at 15:23 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
08 June 2008

Hacking and Beach day

This is how life is meant to be
Toy truck in the Alsos Ilision

Went together with graffic to Panos place today for some computer time and later for a visit to the beach. Panos was taking his ibook apart to install a new hard drive, while graffic and me did a little Zope teaching session and some look at distributed version control. Then we drove to the nearby beach and went for a swim. The sea being a bit colder than last week actually, were it takes a bit of perseverance to get into, after a while and a good crawl it gets to be just refreshing.

After messing with Zope (how to install, a few basic looks into creating a Product), we looked at some distributed versioning system things. First we had a look at darcs, using it for our sample Product, pulling patches from the repos we had set up on each other's laptops. Then we watched Linus Torvald's talk at google (the one where he says some bad words about subversion), which was fun.

We had arrived at around 13:00 and when Panos had the ibook assembled (at a little after 18:00, those ibooks are a total PITA to take apart) we took his car and went to the nearby beach for a swim. It's so nice to go to swim towards the end of the day. OK, it's nice to spend a day at the beach too, but if I have to choose between late afternoon / evening or 11 in the morning, I'll prefer the late afternoon for the beach most of the time.

Now that we're back I'm attempting to actually install git on my MacBook. Naive as I am, I tried to download the source and compile it. Pfff, the list of dependencies seems to be endless. Next was to search for binary installer... no such luck, there is one but it seems to be of the "try it, it might work" variety. Last try (as suggested by Bill Clementson was to get MacPorts and use that to compile git. It worked, but boy did it compile a lot of crap. I mean, haven't these guys heard of the news that Mac OS X comes with OpenSSH nowadays? Even if they want a newer client, what's this garbage they do, install a startup item for it?

Here I was, thinking that darcs is complicated to install, because I have to install ghc, but that was actually easier to get than this stuff. Something tells me that I won't be switching neither to using MacPorts nor to git...

Posted by betabug at 20:24 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
27 June 2008

darcs match reminder

Usefull options: exact, date

I'm one of the happiest cows around ever since sm made me discover darcs when I started hacking on Zwiki. Lately I've switched to darcs at work too. For a long time there was one single task in the user interface that had me confused: Seeing the diff for one particular patch in the past...

When looking at a list of patches (e.g. with darcs changes --last=10), you see one with a name like #27 u:w2pform add class="w2pform" (to body tag). Now when I want to see the diff of that patch, I had a hard time to convince darcs diff to show me the patch in question. The problem is that the --patch and -match options need all kind of regex or glob characters escaped when you feed them a patch name, you can't just copy+paste the patch name.

Taking some time going through the manual, I discovered the proper way to do this. The --match option is really powerful, as the manual says you can do things like these:

darcs diff --match 'exact "#27 u:w2pform add class=\"w2pform\" (to body tag)."'

Ok, you still have to escape the double quotes ("), but I seem to be rarely using them in patch names. In this case, where the name starts with a unique identifier (issue number), you could also use a regular expression with good success, which is matched against the patch name:

darcs diff --match 'name #27'

Using name with single word identifiers seems to be a good strategy to find patches in the depths of history - use with darcs changes first to see what you'd get. Similarly you could match against the author field. There's also a hash options, to find patches by their hash identifier, which I probably won't be using - it's meant more for automatic processing.

What I will be using more - even if it's for fun and information - is the date keyword to --match:

darcs changes --match 'date "2008-06-26"'
darcs changes --match 'date "last 3 days"'
# or even:
darcs changes --match 'date "between 2008-06-20 and 2008-06-24"'

I'll close with this wonderful quote from the manual:

The --match pattern can include the logical operators &&, || and not, as well as grouping of patterns with parentheses.

Which means when you really, really have to dig for that one patch you faintly remember back in $MONTH having to do with identifyer xy... you have a powerful search tool to find it!

Posted by betabug at 11:13 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 July 2008

No Phones, no net

Don't take things for granted

Since yesterday noon our company's office is left without phone and Internet service. We have a setup with two phone providers, so we have some kind of fail over capability. But yesterday the regional telecoms center "Ippodromos" in southern Athens went down and now both phone providers are unable to provide service. As for Internet: we have a 3G USB modem, which serves as a minimal life line.

It's quite strange for a company to be left off the Internet, especially for a company like ours, where almost all customer communication is done via the Internet. The proofs that normally get commented upon by the customers in our extranet approvals system either have to wait, or else I have to send them manually through that tiny 3G keyhole. Customers then call us on our mobile numbers to discuss things.

The result is that I spend half my time sending mail for other people. Interesting enough, I still manage to write some code in between. (Technical aside: The ability of darcs to work without all kind of net access - e.g. small things like relying on name servers - is a major advantage right now.)

How long will the failure persist? We don't know. ΟΤΕ tells us "it could be fixed in one hour, but it could also be tomorrow". Oh yeah, same thing they told us yesterday. The name of the installation, "Ippodromos" (ιππόδρομος), means "horse racing track"... thinking of it, the "customer support rep" at OTE should have told us: "Hey if you didn't have good luck betting on the ippodromos today, maybe tomorrow you win!"

Posted by betabug at 13:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Open Coffee

at the sea
Crowd at Open Coffee in Athens

Open Coffee Athens is currently under way here in Kalamaki (a part of Athens right next to the sea. The presentations started late due to some audio hardware problems, so I had time to chat with some interesting people here.

Right now we're going through the first presentations. Mixed impressions so fare. You can guess that I'm not fixated enough on the presentations, that's why I'm writing this :-).

Posted by betabug at 21:25 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
02 July 2008

PNG, Transparency, IE6, AlphaImageLoader, and SSL

Well, you did not expect to get away without problems here, did you?

In case you try to run one of the AlphaImageLoader fixes out there in order to teach Internet Explorer 6 to handle PNG images with transparent alpha channel information somehow gracefully... and in case you try to run this over SSL (https), you might or might not have run into problems where your images all disappeared. One moment, while you where still testing over unencrypted http, everything was there, then you go the the HTTPS site and all you see is your images blinking up before disappearing.

Been there, done that. It's the same problem with IE6 and SSL over and over. What you have to do is give those images a header that allows them to be cached. In Zope it will be enough to associate them with an "Accelerated HTTP Cache Manager". It's still not very nice and there are lots of caveats. We didn't expect better from IE though, did we?

Forgot to mention what got me to the solution:

This problem is happening because Internet Explorer requires that any content retrieved by the browser that is to be opened by a plugin must be cached. In this case, the ImageBundle .png file is opened by AlphaImageLoader, which qualifies as a plugin.

(From this google-web-toolkit issue page.)

Posted by betabug at 16:19 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Back in the world of communication

Hello World

After 36 hours ΟΤΕ (OTE, the quasi-monopolist state telecoms giant here in Greece) managed to restore service in the telecoms center in the area of my employers office. Somewhere after midnight this morning our servers were reachable again and our phones could have been ringing. Until then, for one and a half business days we were functioning on a very minimal communications set.

Posted by betabug at 16:34 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
15 July 2008

darcs roxx

Small stuff that just works

"Distributed Version Control" systems are just so sweet to work with. They make a lot of tasks in a dynamic work environment easier. So I fixed a bug on the copy of my new app on my workstation. Pushed the patch to the demo server, working there, but... bum!

I had one line wrong in my fix, which got me an ugly error message on the demo server. Now I switched to the shell on the demo server and "unpulled" the bugfix patch (something like rolling back to the previous version, but without any tagging, branches, etc. etc. involved). An instant later the demo server was back in the state right before the bug fix, so people at least got their demos back.

Went back to the workstation, fixed that line that was so obviously wrong. (How did I miss that?) Then I did a "darcs amend" on the bugfix patch. This includes the bugfix-of-the-bugfix into the real bugfix, so there is now only one nice patch in the history. (If lots of people already got that patch this isn't such a good idea, but in a situation like this it's just what I need.) In the end I can "push" the amended patch again to the demo server and everybody is happy.

Posted by betabug at 11:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 August 2008

Installing OpenERP (aka TinyERP)

Depending on dependencies...

The last few days at work I played around with installing OpenERP (which was born as TinyERP). It's a pain. Instructions are confusing, partially non-existing, sometimes misleading. Wow, Zope installation is actually child's play against this (even taking into account that I have a few years more experience with Zope).

Part of the odyssey was a binary installer for Mac OS X PowerPC (great idea for trying something out!) who used Python 2.3, even though in the end the product wouldn't actually run with Python 2.3. Then came a manual install on Mac OS X Intel 10.4 where at some random point I chose the newer PostgreSQL 8.3 - but current production TinyERP/OpenERP doesn't work with that. In the end I switched to installing on a virtual machine image with OpenBSD as the guest OS - if I mess that up it's easier to throw away. I've put my notes on my wiki (work in progress, not yet done, YMMV, etc. etc.).

Maybe I should add that contrary to source install on unix-derived systems, the windows binary installers actually worked fine, but then I don't really want to do anything on windows.

Posted by betabug at 15:30 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
20 September 2008

Exporting SMS from P910

As if there wasn't enough to do

I'm currently quite busy with work and "life", but as if that wasn't enough, my mobile phone (a Sony Ericsson P910i) decided to stage another battle in it's little attrition war against functionality and the lame spirit of "just working". Uhmm, was that too complicated for a description? Basically the phone started to run really slow, ate all the battery charge in one hour, didn't let me connect to it through the cable or bluetooth, and sometimes wouldn't be above ignoring a couple of incoming calls. Restarting didn't help but (as I know from the last time this happened) resetting it and playing on the last backup helps. Problem: A lot of my SMS will be lost that way.

So what the hell am I keeping ~2300 messages on that phone anyway? Bla, some kind of pack rat syndrome, but now that they've washed up, I'd like to keep them. Nothing like that beautiful depression you get when looking at those old personal notes. Attempts at exporting them revealed that: there's no built in export functionality; a German company making a comercial export program didn't know that there would be umlauts (öäü) and (god beware!) maybe even Greek characters in those messages and just left out those funny characters (which turns 70% of my messages into unreadable dots).

What helped: A little program called "SMS Diary" from Ola Melen. It managed (in due time, took something like 5 or 6 hours) to export all messages to a couple of html files, where you can follow them like a little dialog. It's commercial too, costs $10, but it's worth that for me (it works also for other Symbian / UIQ phones, like the P800, P900, P1, etc). Now messages are preserved, phone is cleaned and (so far) runs again. Back to suffering, e.g. from that FileMaker crap I'm forced to do at work right now (motto of the week: "what have I done to deserve this?).

Posted by betabug at 12:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 October 2008

Drug Tests at Apple!!! NOW!!!

Anybody thought of the children?

Since I don't seem in the spirit to write something serious on this filthy blogz0r, I might as well vent some steam with a little RANT here. So, one of our applications is using the file(1) command to identify what certain files on the file system are. And what does Apple do with the 10.5 (Leopard) update? They change the command line parameters... where -i was documented as "Causes the file command to output mime type strings rather than the more traditional human readable ones" now it's "If the file is a regular file do not classify its contents". It's doing more or less the complete contrary to what it did before. This change apparently happened from version 4.10 to 4.17 of the file utility (and possibly the hopefully soon drug tested Apple guys innocently picked up that ugly change without looking... DAMN, YOU SHOULD HAVE LOOKED!!).

The solution is to use the long option version --mime, which (probably by a comical accident) the loonies didn't change.

Next Apple employees up for drug testing: Whoever is responsible for that ssh authentication f*up in 10.5. WTF? Typing the ssh keyphrase into the terminal wasn't good enough for you? If I needed a fancy popping up window, I probably wouldn't be using the Terminal in the first place you luserz!

Posted by betabug at 11:49 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
11 November 2008

Favourite Uninformative Commit Messages

Say it all in a few words!

When committing to a Revision Control System, usually you have to enter a "commit message" that informs the other coders (and your own self in the future) in summary what you did to the code. Some people go into detail here, some give just a rough idea, also it might depend a lot on the nature of the changes. But then there are the "programmers" who do not feel the need to give away any information... if you want to find out what the code does, why don't you just look at it, after all? So here are some of my favorite uninformative commit messages (real life and more or less imagined)...

The last one reminds me of the people who write in their (python) docstrings only "see interface", making you jump to another file and hit another search just to find out what the method you're looking at is supposed to do.

Anyway, feel free to add your own in the comments!

Posted by betabug at 16:47 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
17 November 2008

SOS: MacBook Pro don't like Mondays

dit dit dit - daw daw daw - dit dit dit

Came into the office this morning to find my work MacBook Pro with what looks like a hardware failure: It was running (in sleep mode) when I left it Friday evening, now it was off. When trying to boot it, it emitted three short beeps, three long beeps, three short beeps... SOS in morse code. All attempts to bring it back to life failed, various suggestions on the web end up with having to get the machine to Apple support. Fun, especially when you have a project on a tight deadline.

Also the hard disk should come out of the machine, as we don't want our internal code to travel all over Europe. The MacBook Pro's HD isn't "user replaceable" though, so we've got to muscle the "apple shop" here to do that before sending the machine in. Yeah, we're in Greece here, so no real Apple support. Lucky enough I've got backups of my work for the worst case.

Posted by betabug at 10:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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