A crumb for those trying to get SSHFS working with Debian Etch

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

In the middle of setting up my shiny new dedicated host for serving the growing toastboy empire, I realised it would be really handy to have a transparent filesystem link between the old server (a Debian Etch VM).

Now, here’s a good howto about sshfs on Debian, but for me, it didn’t quite work. When I got to the point of trying a modprobe fuse, I got the error FATAL: Module fuse not found.. So after a bit of thrashing about I realised that the missing link was this: you need to do depmod -a before modprobe fuse will work, and then everything behaves as expected.

I Have Pickled Turnip in my Fridge

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

…and you haven’t.

That is all.

What Could Inspire me to Post After Such a Long Time?

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Woo ha! I am turning cartwheels of sheer joy. Sure, Em and I got married and had a fantastic honeymoon and all, but there’s something else that’s making me want to shout from the rooftops:

They’re making a movie of Fraggle Rock! Yay!

Meet Johnny Badger!

Friday, August 3rd, 2007


Well, we were hardly expecting this. Out last Sunday, walking Des together by the river to avoid the Folk Festival campsite, we bumped into our favourite neighbourhood Collie fostering friends. They only had half their current compliment of 11 (!) dogs, but amongst them was this little charmer, Johnny Badger. He’s a rescue pup who’s mostly Collie plus some other miscellaneous breeds thrown in, and a right character. He comes from a rescue in Ireland via Wiccaweys in Northamptonshire, and he’s had a tough time in his 16 or so weeks of life: he’s been nursed through Parvovirus. We were meant to pick him up yesterday, but had to contain ourselves because Des managed to pick up some infection or other (well, drinking from the Cam and eating cow-crap will do that to anyone) and so we’ve been advised against taking Badger in until Des has finished the antibiotics.

Are we mad to take on a pup that might turn out to be a hooligan? Yep. Can we wait? No.

Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite PicLens

Ubuntu Feisty Myseterious Freezing Problem

Friday, July 20th, 2007


It would appear that Ubuntu’s powernowd has problems with AMD Cool ‘n’ Quiet, at least on my Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard. Turning off Cool ‘n’ Quite (crap name) in the BIOS menu solves the problem where I’d be typing away and the machine would just freeze hard, to the extent that mouse-waggling had no effect. I’m really not used to Linux doing that to me: that’s Windows territory.

To be honest, though, I don’t have a terrific amount of confidence that the Asus A8N is a rock-solid motherboard. I’ve always used mostly Asus motherboards, and never had cause to complain. But this one’s always been a bit iffy. It “supports” 4 slots of DDR400 RAM, up to 1G each, but one of the BIOS revisions had a mysterious “update” feature which just said that if all four slots were populated with 1G DIMMs, it downgrades the RAM clock to 333Mhz. WHY? Presumably just because they’ve got problems they can’t resolve any other way. I think the next mobo will be a Tyan.

Tagging Photos with GPS Using a Windows Mobile PDA

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

This is a cracker. Use your existing PDA’s GPS receiver to write a GPX log, and then use it to tag your photos with the exact location where they were taken later, with no connection between the GPS receiver and the camera necessary!

Here’s how it works. It’s all about time. A GPX log just records the raw data coming from the GPS receiver – basically just a very accurate time together with an exact location, at intervals along your journey. Digital cameras tag the photos you take with the time and date they were taken – so all you need is a piece of software that’s smart enough to take the timestamp and use the GPS log to turn it into a position.

Here’s one way to do it:

First, I needed a program for my PDA phone: a t-mobile MDA Vario (also known as iMate K-JAM, Qtek 9100, HTC Wizard, etc. etc. – man, I hate re-badging like that) running Windows Mobile 5. It doesn’t have a buit-in GPS receiver – my next phone will (HTC Kaizer) – but I do have a Bluetooth GPS unit which works just fine for the moment. I wanted a program that would also allow the GPS port to be connected to another program while the logger was active, so I could still use it for navigation. What I found does exactly that: I can still use TomTom Navigator at the same time. The logging program is called SunsetGPSLogger and it works a treat. It does have a couple of foibles, but what do you want for free? It doesn’t remember what port your GPS receiver is connected to, so you have to set that every time you launch it. It has a hard-wired path to the place where it will write the logs – and that path is in /Storage Card, so you’d better not have an empty expansion slot. It also has some useful smarts, though: not least the clever algorithm which only writes “good quality” waypoints to the log. Anyway, it writes lovely, compact logs – now I need something to use those logs to tag my photos.

That’s where GPicSync comes in. Again, it’s free, and again, it’s nifty. You point it at the GPS log, and you tell it where the photos are, and you press a button. Actually, it’s also a good idea to tell it the difference between your camera’s clock and the proper GPS time: it’s less easy to keep camera clocks spot on than those of a PDA.

Press the button Synchronise button, and off it goes – writing to the EXIF tags of your photos, and even backing them up if you want, in case it messes things up. It even has a button to show the results in Google Earth once you’re done. Very, very nifty.

My Ten Firefox Addons

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

This is as much for my benefit as anybody else’s – for when I set up or reinstall yet another machine for myself.

  1. Adblock Plus: Gotta kill the ads. The very best internet experience is that without twonks trying to sell you things. Of course the other benefit is that pages load much quicker since they’re much smaller without the ads, and your browser has to contact fewer places on the Interweb.
  2. Adblock Filterset.G Updater: The way to keep the blocking capabilities of Adblock up to date. This add-on just downloads the latest version of the master list which tracks where the ads come from.
  3. Google Browser Sync: This one is very clever. It will sync pretty much everything in the inner workings of your browser between all the machines on which you have it installed. This includes bookmarks, cookies and history – although you can turn off the bits you don’t want synced. A real time-saver, this makes flitting about between work and home an absolute breeze. Not for those with something to hide, I guess, since it uploads your dirty secrets to Google servers, but I don’t care ’bout that.
  4. Morning Coffee: A simple but dead good idea – really, in effect it’s just multiple bookmarks that open with the click of a single button. What do I have on mine? Well, a share price check or two, plus Get Fuzzy, Dilbert and Google Reader.
  5. Firebug: Great web development tool. You can poke around in the way any page is put together, and debug JavaScript if you want (I don’t do that since I think it’s broadly evil – see below :->)
  6. Web Developer: Another very full-featured web development add-on. I use it in particular to nose around in the HTTP response headers, but it will do a lot more besides.
  7. Aardvark: Last web development one, I promise. Possibly a bit overkill to have this instead, but this one is very good at figuring out what’s going on with your style sheets and so on. You can find what box comes from where, and even hide page elements to experiment with what happens to the layout. Invaluable.
  8. NoScript: A way to turn off potentially dangerous JavaScript and (less dangerous in my opinion, but hey, whatever) Java and Flash. You can make exceptions for sites where you really need it, and you really trust. It takes a while to bed in, but it’s well worth the effort. Google can take you anywhere these days…
  9. LiveHTTPHeaders: Actually I just realised that on my main home machine, I installed this a while ago and it’s even handier than Web Developer for dissecting headers. It can display headers as they fly past in the sidebar, which is very handy indeed. I’m sure some little gits use it to put together XSS attacks, but its powers can also be used for good (like getting caching right).
  10. StumbleUpon: Saving the best till last. Well – if by “best” I mean “best destroyer of productivity”, anway. Bloody thing. It turns up all sorts of crap that you really shouldn’t waste your time looking at, which of course is the whole point. Apparently eBay are going to pay umpty-thrumpty* million dollars for it soon, if they haven’t already.

*Yes, yes, I do listen to Mark Kermode’s film reviews. As a matter of fact, I listen to more reviews than I watch films, and it’s all down to him and the way he witters with Simon Mayo.

Why DRM must die

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

I just spent the first 20 mins of the Forest game pissing about trying to get the godforsaken Microsoft DRM working according these already outdated and horrifically arcane instructions.

This is content for which I have paid, and I really don’t see why I should even have to consider the possibility that I have to dig around in the guts of my PC’s configuration in order to get it.

Whoever decided DRM was a good idea, I hope your rabbit dies and you can’t sell the hutch.

Man, I feel old

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Good grief. It’s bad enough when I consider that I felt old when I realised that there were some people alive that were not alive when Reagan was in charge, but now it’s much worse.

Watching the GP over the weekend it transpired that Lewis Hamilton was named after Carl Lewis, because he was winning all his gold medals at the time when the young master Hamilton was born. Bloody hell! That only seems like five minutes ago! I can practically still feel the indignation at Carl Lewis’ arrogance – and to his credit, the young namesake is showing none of that. Plus he’s damn quick.

I’m not necessarily going overboard and backing him to win the world championship just yet – for that you not only need the talent but a consistently competetive car, plus the undevided attention of the team: I wonder if a no. 1 drive at, say, BMW will end up being where he needs to go in the forthcoming years to get the championship.

I Feel the Need – the Need to Rinse

Friday, April 13th, 2007

It’s amazing how you miss the tap in the kitchen sink when it stops working. Really odd: our single-lever tap was always a bit stiff but recently it was getting worse and worse until it seized altogether. Now, that’s a real disappointment when our kitchen was only fitted last year. The fact that we were left without running water in the kitchen on Easter Friday was a real pain, but the way that Wickes and the manufacturers, Astracast, handled it was nothing short of exemplary.

I called Wickes on Easter Friday afternoon, getting through to a real person after very little phone-menu-and-hold-music-hell, and without question they agreed to replace the valve on the tap, though I was warned that the manufacturers weren’t going to be working until the following Tuesday. It arrived in the post on Thursday morning, so I had it fitted by that night. Less than a week, and there were two Bank Holidays in between.

I get such indifferent or just plain crappy service from so many places that it’s really worth praising a company when they get it right. Of course it would be preferable if the part hadn’t failed in the first place, but a very good second-best is this kind of handling of the occasional hiccough.