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01 November 2005

Zope Witch Experiences

Rewriting URLs for fun and Apache

The witch (a RewriteRule generator for running Zope behind Apache) has been around for more than a month now on my site. Enough time to sum up some of my experiences, which are quite good. Problems could be mostly solved by properly copy and pasting the output into httpd.conf. Overall it is a good service that seems to be silently appreciated...

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Posted by betabug at 21:48 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
02 November 2005

Checking System Activity on Mac OS X on the Command Line

Logging into server, no GUI, see?

So I'm logging into a Mac OS X machine (Server or not) remotely by ssh to do some maintenance and check on the health of the system. What I might be interested in is how CPU, memory and disk usage is coping with the jobs the server has to do. If I was sitting in front of the machine I could open "Activity Monitor" and click my way through the GUI. Not an option for this machine, since there is no GUI level remote access. So what do I do? There are some command line tools to give me the information I need, let me show you top, vm_stat and iostat...

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Posted by betabug at 13:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
06 November 2005

HelMUG Server Upgrade

In Thessaloniki on the road

Yesterday morning I went to Thessaloniki by train, along with libero and meLiS from HelMUG. Over here we are rebuilding HelMUGs server. Which is down since yesterday afternoon. Right now we are hard at work in the internet cafe "Blue Screens".

Posted by betabug at 10:00 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
07 November 2005

A Short Trip to Thessaloniki

Rumours and facts about Greece's northern metropolis

As stated in the previous post, I spent this weekend on a short trip to Thessaloniki, hopping on a train Saturday morning and coming back Sunday at noon. Actually not long enough (by a huge margin) to really get an idea about this city. Greeks have a few cliches about Thessaloniki and its people: The city is described as being much nicer and friendlier than Athens. Let's examine those rumours to their fact value, using strictly scientific criteria...

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Posted by betabug at 09:27 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 November 2005

Unfreiwillige Überlebensparole

Zwei Tage im Bett

Die letzten zwei Tage verbrachte ich im Bett mit einer deftigen Erkältung. Was mich unfreiwillig an die Parole erinnerte, die in der Nähe unseres Hauses an die Wand gemalt ist: "ΖΩΗ ΟΧΙ ΕΠΙΒΙΩΣΗ" (Zoi ochi epiwiosi, etwa: "Leben, nicht Überleben". Eine Erkältung ist ja nicht gleich eine Frage von Überleben oder nicht. Aber wirklich Leben ist das auch nicht, schnief. Und wozu hat man denn einen "Blog", wenn man sich nicht mal selbst bemitleiden darf? :-) Da hoffe ich doch, dass ich schnell wieder auf dem Dampfer bin, um am grösseren Überlebenskampf in Athen teilzunehmen.

Posted by betabug at 21:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
11 November 2005

Attempted Abuse of Comment Notification Mails

Watch out for old spammer tricks

A while ago I received a bunch of comment notification mails. What happened? My blog is pretty quiet in respect to comments, only every now and then one comes in. Now I saw ten of them on the same Thursday morning. Did I finally became famous? I doubted it and even at first glance I noted the signs of someone mischievous working for the SPAM industry. It was an attempt to abuse the comment notification feature of COREBlog. Let's take a closer look at those notification mails...

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Posted by betabug at 10:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
14 November 2005

Italienisches Design und "Madagascar"

Ausstellung im Megaron Moussikis und Film im Megakino

Das vergangene Wochenende war rekonvaleszenzbedingt ruhig und ereignisarm. Samstags war der erste Tag nach drei Tagen im Bett mit Tee, Sirup und Zwieback. Mein erster Ausflug ging zu Fuss zum Megaron Mousikis. Dort lief (bis zum 15.11.) eine Ausstellung zu italienischem Design. Am Sonntag gings ins Kino, wir schauten uns "Madagascar" an...

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Posted by betabug at 22:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
15 November 2005

Interactive Fiction Interpreter for the P910i

Finally playing it out in text

For a long time I had on my to do list the idea to find an IF interpreter to play text based adventure games on my mobile phone. Something like I mentioned (in German) on my ages old if german page. Finally I found what I was looking for, after being reminded by this story about Interactive Fiction appearing in the online Wall Street Journal on slashdot. What did I find? On this page from a company called Malinche Entertainment a link to Frotz UIQ (download).

Posted by betabug at 17:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 November 2005

Sitting and Thinking on the Evening before the Chaos

Tomorrow is Nov 17th, did you see the news?

The night before November 17th in Athens, I'm sitting in my easy chair and think. You don't know what November 17th means to Greece? 17 Νοέμβριου is the anniversary of student uprisings in the Polytechnikum that ultimately led to the end of the military dictature in the 1970's. It's also the name of a terrorist organization named after the event, which was active for around 30 years. Like every year we are expecting demonstrations, violence, and a bit more chaos than usual.

The demonstrations are by various political groups (generally left) with a variety of agendas. At the radical end of that spectrum, these demonstrations usually lead to fights with the police, to demolished cars and shops, to a lot of jailings. This year with all the action in France, all involved sides expect even more violence. It's hard to guess if the police force is really higher than in previous years, or on the other hand, if the radical left is even more bound to aggression. I'm just a bystander after all and if you don't mind I'll stand by rather far away, thank you.

A side effect of all this is obviously that some parts of Athens will be blocked for traffic and pedestrions. (Since which pedestrian wants to end up between the fronts by mistake?) The area around the polytechnic school and Vassilissis Sofias Avenue near the american Embassy are sure choke points. Why the american embassy? The americans were full supporters of the military dictature, and nobody likes them anyway.

Now that I am sitting here, what I would need is some good information. See, my bus to work passes down Vassilissis Sofias. I will take a detour tomorrow, but knowing what to expect would be nice. The medium of choice for up to date information would be TV. But there is a small problem with this. The TV news here are a debacle. They rarely contain any real news.

To explain: I do not consider a 5 minutes feature about politician A said "x is y" and politician B replied "x is not y" to be news. Especially not when it is maxed out with a discussion panel (in nice boxes on a split screen) of a priest, two journalists, two party spokespeople, and the guy who is always in those panels, because it's so funny when he starts to attack everybody else.

Wading through 40 minutes of that is just not an option today. So I'll just let it all com on tomorrow. In the meantime I will sit and think in my easy chair.

Posted by betabug at 23:52 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 November 2005

OTE: Stop Sabotaging the Internet in Greece!

Make Internet access possible, finally

The last few days the news of rising prices for dial-up Internet access in Greece were making the rounds. Yesterday evening this reached the TV news too. According to TV, the prime minister got angry and demanded this be changed. What do the new price mean? No matter what provider you use for dialup, prices will go up somewhere between 70% and 300%. This runs contrary to what all politicians see as the target for Greece's road to a modern society and broad Internet access. Let's look at this in some more details...

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Posted by betabug at 13:51 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

New HelMUG Website Online

Congratulations stefbystef, topgan1, and all helpers!

Today around 17:30 local Greek time, at the occasion of the COMDEX, the new website of the Greek Mac User Group HelMUG is being launched to the public. This is no small feat for a user group that relies entirely on volunteers to do the job. A big "ευχαριστώ" goes out to stefbystef, topgan1, and all other helpers! Congratulations, you are great!

Posted by betabug at 16:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 November 2005

Editor Wars: Keyboard Shortcuts for Regex

vi rules (once more)

In the book "Code Reading" by Diomidis Spinellis, there is a small table about what commands are needed to search in code editors. (Section 10.1 "Regular Expressions" serves to remind programmers that regular expression can be a powerfull tool when trying to find your way around foreign (and own) source code. As a vi user I think the table is incredible funny and revealing:

Table 10.2 Regular Expression Search Commands in Popular Editors
Editor Forward Search Command Backward Search Command
BRIEF [a] Search Forward Search Backward
Emacs C-M-s [b] isearch-forward-regexp C-M-r isearch-backward-regexp
Epsilon C-A-s [c] regex-search C-A-R reverse-regex-search
vi / ?
Visual Studio FindRegExpr FindRegExprPrev

[a] After performing a regular expression toggle.
[b] Control-Meta-s.
[c] Control-Alt-s.

Of course you might not get my fine point here. So let me explain what I learned: First, there are some editors around that I have never heard of, like "BRIEF" and "Epsilon". But the highlight is the complexity of these commands. In vi it's just one single character for each, while others have something that I can only assume to be menu commands, not to mention three letter salute keyboard shortcuts. Of course it's maybe harder to grab the concept of vi editing, but once you got it, you are rewarded with simplicity and no waste of time for such an often used tool.

Posted by betabug at 13:21 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)


Lots of people here

I'm at the stand of HelMUG at the Athens COMDEX 2005 computer fair. After a short walk through the halls I'm sitting here now. The exhibition is not so special. Best of all was the booth of the telecommunications museum. Pictures and details later. Right when I came in, I was asked to help out with some club stuff. Some people I know are here, so it's fun.

Posted by betabug at 17:40 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 November 2005

Saturday Club Life

HelMUG at COMDEX, 2CV Club Party
HelMUG booth at COMDEX and 1970s video phone

Yesterdays visit at the HelMUG booth at the COMDEX turned into a small hacking project. But I managed to take some pictures (click on the preview for a bigger image). The smallish insert is a 1970s video phone from the booth of the telecommunications museum, absolute highlight of the exhibition. In the big picture there are a couple of its modern cousins: Plenty of Apples iSight cameras at the HelMUG booth. HelMUG webmaster stefbystef even presented the new HelMUG website over a video iChat connection. I came home pretty late from COMDEX, but not late enough to miss the party of the Greek 2CV club.

The HelMUG mini hack: I managed to write a small script to change the password of a lot of imported user accounts at once. Started out with a small expect script (found on the web, but easy to do yourself) to script /usr/bin/passwd. Then changed that a bit to our needs. Finally hooked it up with a small shell script to run on a text file with username and password on each line. The reason I used a shell script for the second task is that I don't use expect very often, and I did not want to mess up a task like this. But I love expect, even though I'm a python programmer, the tcl grammar is very cool and each time I use expect (which is based on tcl) it makes me whish I had more chance to play with it.

Then came the 2CV party: Last year I went on an excursion with the 2CV fans. So I knew some of them. At the party there were also a lot of unknown faces, since everybody had brought their friends. I enjoyed it nonetheless, good music, drinks, good people, and a very nice place. The clubs hangout is a very stylish neoclassical flat. Even at the party I could not miss my geekness. I went and fixed their 'puter. Installed a spam filter and adaware. But the poor machine is loaded with adware and spyware, so I'm not sure that will be enough. Actually it would be worth to install OpenBSD with Firefox and matching mail client, as I don't think the machine is being used for anything besides mail, web, and looking at an image CD sometime.

Posted by betabug at 15:40 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 November 2005

Wiedermal Unit Tests, diesmal in Zope

Geht doch alles viel schneller

Ich bin ein grosser Fan von Unit Tests. Ich schäme mich fast es zuzugeben, aber ich habe Unit Tests in meinen Zope-Projekten viel zu lange rausgeschoben. Der Grund war wie so oft, dass ich glaubte, dafür keine Zeit zu haben. Letzte Woche habe ich es dann nicht mehr rausgeschoben. Und siehe da, wiedermal entdeckt, dass ich mit Unit Tests eigentlich viel schneller arbeite. Tja...

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Posted by betabug at 17:54 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 November 2005

Playing Around With a Blackberry

So what?
Blackberry on my table

My boss just dropped a Blackberry on my table for me to play around with. I did, and now I am wondering: What is all the fuss about? It's just another phone with PIM. The form factor (especially the keyboard) reminds me of my old Treo 270, sans the flip. The wide format display sure may be more useable for ssh than the one in my P910. The display does not seem to be touch sensitive.

Having a quick look through the web for an ssh client reveals an open source one and a couple of weird commercial solutions, some of them in client-server setups. Also there seems to be some question of special blackberry coverage that needs to be available on your network. Does not sound like another field I would have to read myself into, if I can lazily avoid it. TCP/IP (over something like GPRS) is good enough for me.

The integrated web browser seems to download background images, but not display them. It shows my blog good enough (see screen on picture). The browser id string was "BlackBerry7290/4.0.2 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1". Traceroute to the connecting address was kind of funny. The machine seems to connect through Vodaphone Greece, but the traceroute went to some server in England. That client-server game again, I guess.

Posted by betabug at 12:17 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
24 November 2005

VirtualHost mess

Site was off for a while

Since I set up another virtual host today, I managed to mess up the virtual host setup in my httpd.conf. It took me some time to find out. So if you came here and got some funny error about "page zope not found", I'm sorry :-) Things should be up and running again. If you are interested to know what happened: I forgot to activate the NameVirtualHost directive. And when I had it set up, the wrong VirtualHost was used as default.

Posted by betabug at 17:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 November 2005

Children and Dirty Words

Nice quote

"We train our children to drop fire on people, but we won't let them write 'fuck' on the sides of their airplanes, because it's obscene."
-- Marlon Brando (Apocalypse Now)

With my still not quite gotten over cold and a lot of work this weblog has turned into too much technical stuff and too little posts (for my taste). Instead of letting it all cool down till it freezes over, I'll post this nice quote I found on the physics notes wiki of Bob McElrath. I swear a lot, especially when talking Greek, since I first learned Greek in a motorcycle repair shop. The gf often flames me for it, so I liked the quote. It is obviously a random selected quote on that page, but it just hit the spot with me.

Don't expect this weblog to become one lame link blog. I'll be back to posting stuff that interests me about this city, this country, life, technology, culture and the rest of it soon. This weekend I've been to an exhibiton about the last 100 years in Athens, and I've seen the movie "Η χορωδία του Χαρίτωνα" ("i horodia tou haritona", Haritona's Choir), hopefully I'll get around to write some reviews.

One thing that really keeps me going is good posts like Saad's review of the Salif Keita concert in Paris. Technology people posting "cultural" stuff like this is great.

Posted by betabug at 11:54 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 November 2005

100 Jahre Athen

Ausstellung im Gaswerk

Sonntag morgen früh aufgestanden. Mit meinem Arbeitskollegen Andreas zur U-Bahn Station Thission gefahren. Von dort aus noch ein Stück gelaufen bis zum Γκάζι (Gazi), dem alten Gaswerk Athens, heute ein Kulturzentrum. (Siehe Bild.)

Ursprünglich war mein Plan, dort die Reproduktion des "Antikithira Mechanismus" zu finden, einer antiken Maschine, ähnlich einem Uhrwerk, die den Stand von Sonne, Mond und Planeten anzeigt. Das Original hatte ich im archäologischen Museum gesehen. Auf slashdot hatte ich gelesen, dass im Museum Technopolis in Athen eine funktionierende Reproduktion ausgestellt ist.

Von der Reproduktion wusste niemand etwas, aber wir sahen uns die Ausstellung 100 Jahre Athen in Fotos an, zumindest zum grössten Teil. Wir sahen alles ab ca. 1950, danach waren wir abgefüllt. Die Fotos sind sehr gut, ausgewählte Bilder von grösstenteils sehr guter Qualität. Dazu enthält die Ausstellung alte Zeitungen und andere Objekte wie Spielzeug und Kostüme. Auch gute Kommentare, allerdings nur auf Griechisch. Eintritt kostet das ganze keinen und es war gut besucht.

Was habe ich gelernt? Zum Beispiel, dass Athen früher schon ein Tram hatte, das wusste ich. Warum das Tram irgendwann abgeschafft wurde, erfuhr ich hier. Schuld ist Konstantinos Karamanlis, damals Minister für öffentliche Bauten, später lange Ministerpräsident. Ausserdem Onkel des heutigen Ministerpräsidenten. Der wollte die Trams verstaatlichen, was für einen konservativen Politiker doch recht erstaunlich ist. Doch die englischen Eigentümer wollten das nicht, also liess er über Nacht die Schienen rausreissen. Gut gebaut.

Posted by betabug at 22:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)