Much ado about scripting, Linux & Eclipse: card subject to change


Beyond Compare 3 Released!

My favourite file/folder compare tool, Beyond Compare, shipped its third release today. What's new?

Well, for one thing there's a fully-supported Linux version (available as .rpm or .deb), which means no more WINE!

There's also 3-way compares/merges, better unicode support, improved recursion & alignment in folder compares, improved text editor, better (S)FTP support, and lots more!

I'm also impressed with Scooter's "upgrade your license without penalty" policy, whereby you can buy the Standard Edition, and later upgrade to Pro Edition for only the difference in price.

Of course the new version still works with the Beyond CVS Eclipse Plug-In, so you can launch BC3 from Eclipse to do file/folder compares as a drop-in replacement for Eclipse's built-in compare engine.

Bellch, Part 2: Traffic Shaping

Another reason to boycott Bell: p2p traffic throttling, w/o first contacting customers & resellers.

So much for the claim that because everyone has a dedicated phone line (unlike the supposedly slower, pooled cable lines) the service will be faster and more fair for the consumer.

IT Business reports that Bell is now trying to throttle its p2p traffic.

Luckily, not everyone buys that claim:

In April, CAIP - a group representing 55 third-party ISPs that buy connectivity on a wholesale basis from Bell and then resell it to consumers – petitioned the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for an immediate cease-and-desist order on Bell's traffic-shaping practices.

Subsequently, other groups – such as The Campaign for Democratic Media (CDM) – lent their voices to the protest, urging the CRTC to initiate a "public proceeding" examining the practice. read more

In related news, I'm thinking it might be time to get myself a Blackberry -- the aptly named Bold(t). The Bold isn't available... yet, but I'm hoping when it does finally get released it'll be available through Rogers for less than its current pre-order / unlocked price. $800 for a phone is insane -- even one with gigs of storage and built in GPS & A2DP.


/usr/sbin/vpnc-connect: quick mode response rejected: (ISAKMP_N_INVALID_MESSAGE_ID)(9)

I've been using vpnc 0.3.3 and then 0.5.1 for about the last 3 years to connect to my VPN at work. This week, it stopped working.

/usr/sbin/vpnc-connect: quick mode response rejected:  (ISAKMP_N_INVALID_MESSAGE_ID)(9)
this means the concentrator did not like what we had to offer.
Possible reasons are:
 * concentrator configured to require a firewall
    this locks out even Cisco clients on any platform expect windows
    which is an obvious security improvment. There is no workaround (yet).
 * concentrator configured to require IP compression
    this is not yet supported by vpnc.
    Note: the Cisco Concentrator Documentation recommends against using
    compression, expect on low-bandwith (read: ISDN) links, because it
    uses much CPU-resources on the concentrator 

Did I call the help desk? No: Google to the rescue.

The fix? Well, this post got me in the right direction, and I updated my version of vpnc from 0.5.1r275-1 to 0.5.1r334-1 (apt-get update; apt-get install vpnc) using these repos... which didn't seem to help.

# Unstable Sid
deb unstable main contrib non-free
# Unstable Sources
deb-src unstable main contrib non-free

# sidux
deb sid main contrib non-free firmware fix.main fix.contrib fix.non-free
deb-src sid main contrib non-free firmware fix.main fix.contrib fix.non-free

But the actual solution was to add this line to my .conf file:

Enable Single DES

And remove this:

Perfect Forward Secrecy nopfs


xubuntu 8.04: easy enough for grandma

I'm in love with the newest ubuntu for xfce, xubuntu. So much so that I've decided to install it on my mother-in-law's desktop (which keeps getting virii and trojans). Yes, it's really that grandma-friendly. (Time will tell whether I'm on crack or if they agree.)

However, I have a few minor complaints -- the usual "close-but-no-cigar" usability tweaks.

1. If you log in two users in parallel (it lets you switch between them) for some reason there's a pc speaker (system bell / system beep) every couple seconds once the second user logs in. This is of course incredibly annoying, but there's an easy fix.

First, disable it:

modprobe -r pcspkr

Then, turn it off for good by blacklisting the pcspkr module in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist:

blacklist pcspkr

2. I immediately installed OpenOffice 2.4 (because abiword and gnumeric suck) and upgraded the Firefox 3 beta to the full release.

3. I also combined the two default taskbars (top and bottom of screen) into a single one on the bottom, because that's less weird for Windows people.

4. I had to manually force mounting of their old C and D drives (in /etc/fstab), just in case they need them. Thunar is great for adding quick shortcuts into the file browser (see screenshot below).

/dev/sda1 /media/sda1 vfat rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev,quiet,uhelper=hal,utf8,shortname=winnt,uid=999,gid=100,umask=007 0 0 /dev/sda3 /media/sda3 vfat rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev,quiet,uhelper=hal,utf8,shortname=winnt,uid=999,gid=100,umask=007 0 0

5. I had to add the volume control applet to the taskbar. Sure, having to add it is nowhere as annoying as having to remove MEPIS/KDE's fish tank app, but c'mon -- shouldn't this be there by default?

6. Firefox doesn't come with the Flash player pre-installed, for obvious licensing reasons. However, the latest Firefox, combined with the latest xubuntu, lets me install the whole thing without having to revert to apt-get or tar -xzf. Finally, the Plugin Finder Service in Firefox actually works! It finds the plugin, prompts for password (to run the install as root), downloads it, and installs it. And on restart of Firefox -- YouTube works.

But other than these minor tweaks, it's pretty much xubuntu out of the box, and a viable replacement for Windows XP and its non-stop barrage of virii & trojans.

Because really, what does your grandma need on a computer? Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, a file browser like Thunar, and of course, some card games (thanks, PySol!).


Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

I've just wasted a good chunk of my Sunday afternoon watching this show, and you can too... at least until it disappears and can only be found on iTunes (which I found out today is entirely unavailable for Linux).

If you were ever a fan of Joss Whedon, Capt. Tightpants, er., Nathan Fillion, or the incomparable Neil Patrick Harris, go watch. Now. Then laugh. Heartily. Or at least evilly.


Poll the other one

Stumbled on this bit of oddness today... a poll about leg slapping as punishment.

In lighter news, there's also no definitive answer yet on this best movie POTUS poll, much like a certain ongoing 'name next year's Eclipse release' poll...


Io no quiero

Now, this is a story all about how
My name got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute
Just sit down, yo
I'll tell you how I became formerly known as Io

In west of the Ottawa born and raised
On the server was where I spent most of my days
Chillin' out, mirrorin', relaxin' all cool
And a'servin' some b-ndwidth to all th'Eclipse fools

When a couple of guys, who were up to no good
Started making trouble in my server'hood
Opened one little bug and th'PC did vote
Said 'Gotta find a new name cuz they hatin' on Io'

I whistled for input and when it came near
The options were fresh and they'd sound sweet on the mirrors
With a split of +1s and a whole bunch of 'No'
But I thought anything's better - 'Yo, no to Io!'

Suggested were Galileo and Hermione
Hyperion, Titan and Hegemone
I looked at the votes
But with only 8 cast
It seemed that Io would be here to last

So I plead with the Council at least one more time
With the help of this rather contrived bit of rhyme
To look through the options
And cast there a vote
And save us at last from an Eclipse Io

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (Theme Song)


1995, revisited

Last week I received some direct mail from a company advertising domain name registration/renewal. While I applaud their efforts, I have to admit I'm a little confused by their methods, and their prices.

First of all, direct mail for internet-related business? Please. I'd be more likely to respond favourably if they weren't spending money & wasting paper, but were instead sending (free!) email. At least electronic spam, when interesting or relevant, gets a read. Paper spam? The recycling bin.

Secondly, their prices are right out of the 1990s. The dozen or so domain names I've registered/renewed in the last year -- including .ca, .com, .org, and .net -- have all been for under $12, including taxes. $42 for a .com? That's more than Network Solutions charged in their US$35/yr heyday, over a decade ago.

Thirdly, considering they're charging more than 3 times the normal cost, they didn't even include a postage-paid envelope.

Still, it was an amusing trip down memory lane. I'd hoped that sending them an email would provoke a response, but apparently they weren't impressed with my note. Maybe I should have put a stamp on their reply envelope and sent it the old-fashioned way...

Update, 2009/04/25: I just received another one of these letters from Domain Registry of Canada in the mail. Their prices have dropped - they're now charging "only" $40/yr or $70/2yrs. What a savings! What's a little off-putting, however, is that they're a Canadian company but they're only offering to renew my .com, .org, and .net domains - the .ca ones seem to have slipped from their radar. Still, it's nice to see they've become marginally more realistic w/ their prices, even if I have no intention of leaving my current $7/yr registrar.


Caveat Emptor

Mark suggested I slap a Tipper Sticker on this site to avoid offending people. And as doing so provides yet another venue for parody, here's my first kick at that can...


What's in a name?

Just when I thought I'd seen the end of the misspelled Eclipse coordinated releases, we have a new one: Gynamede.

Past favourites were Calypso & Europe, but this is by far much better, as it lends itself toward some great marketing slogans:

  • Gynamede: packaged & ready for your inspection
  • Gynamede: ultra-sound solutions for your business
  • Gynamede: to pee or p2, that is the question
  • Gynamede: all of the RAP, none of the pap
  • Gynamede: UDC metrics instead of obstetrics
  • Gynamede: come check out our spread!

In related news, now's the time to get your Planning Council reps to settle the name for next year's release, currently being confused with "i/o" and the number 10, a year before it's even out the door! Vote now on bug 235189 for your moon of choice.

Or maybe it's time for something completely moon-free, like one of these?

  • Eclipse XP: eXtreme Packaging / eXtra Participants
  • Eclipse CE: Coordinated Event / Centralized Endeavour / Community Edition
  • Eclipse LTS: Long-Term Support (since 3.5 may well be the last release in the 3.x branch, with 4.0 due the year after)
  • Eclipse Eye (the first half of "Io", and like a moon, a spherical object)


Request For Comment: Will Anyone Miss All Those EMF Zips?

With the advent of p2 and the smaller EMF features introduced in EMF 2.3, the EMF team is evaluating if the All-In-One, Runtime (3), Sourcedoc (3) & Examples Zips are still meaningful and useful to consuming teams, projects, and products. We'd like to reduce those 8 zips down to a single archived update site zip.

For more on this topic see:

EMF 2.5 - Simplified Downloads

To voice your opinion (be it 'I need that/those zip(s)!' or 'I'm good with using Update'), please post your feedback in bug 240223.




I've been screening a lot of calls from Bell lately, but last week I finally decided to pick up and see why they've been harassing me. Turns out -- big surprise -- it's the usual "we miss your money."

I'm with Rogers for two reasons: the now-defunct IBM employee / partner discount, which used to be 20% off the top until one day it just magically vanished w/o explanation, and because the phone lines in this 'hood are old and slow.

According to the Bell rep on the phone, they've fixed that. He couldn't give me technical details, but he said the lines here were "better." Yep, I'm sold. So I can now drop my 7Mb/s Rogers line and switch to a 7Mb/s Bell line, because it MIGHT now be comparable in speed. Before Rogers upped my posted bandwidth rate for free from 5 to 7Mb/s and later I increased my bandwidth limit (because 65Gb/mo is nothing when you 'torrent), I was getting 3-5Mb/s. At the same time, I tried Bell, then later Primus, and never got about 1.5-2Mb/s -- for about the same monthly fee.

He also tried the "but with Rogers it's a shared line, with us it's dedicated." Woo. My neighbourhood is mostly retiree and seniors, many of whom have probably been with Bell for the past few decades and who surely aren't using much bandwidth. I don't mind sharing when I almost always get great speed.

But the real kicker for me was when he started with the high-pressure sales stuff. I rarely buy stuff on the phone or in the driveway, so it was going to be an uphill battle for him no matter how good the offer was. But telling me that the deal he was offering would not be available should I decide in a day or two to call Bell myself, and refusing to send me the details so I could peruse them at my leisure in order to be educated about the deal he was selling? Please. How can any business these days, with the world having a decade and a half of Internet culture under its belt, seriously think to sell stuff without letting consumers educate themselves first? Do they think we're still stuck in the pre-Nader era of illiterates buying what we're told because we're told to do so? Oh, wait, there are the iPhonatics & the Macolytes. But anyway...

In a related news item, Bell and Telus have decided to start charging their consumers for incoming text messages - spam or otherwise. Of course if you buy a monthly plan, they waive that. Cash grab, anyone? If you're a Bell or Telus customer, you might want to sign this petition.

Here's hoping Rogers decides to differentiate themselves by NOT stooping to this level. With consumer confidence levels plummeting all the time, I hope they'll see this might net a few bucks, but lose them customers.


Visual Editor for Eclipse 3.4 Ganymede

There have been a number of questions in eclipse.newcomer lately about the availability of a visual editor for Eclipse 3.4 Ganymede.

So, I thought I'd see if VE 1.3 can be installed into Ganymede using p2 -- and in fact it's pretty easy to do.

As noted in VE Installation Guide, you can use the "Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers"... but because I usually run with the Eclipse SDK, rather than an EPP bundle, I wanted to know what the minimum requirements are for VE, so I unpacked VE into Eclipse's new dropins/ folder, and started Eclipse with the OSGi console active, using this script:

pushd ~/eclipse/34clean >/dev/null
if [[ $# -eq 0 ]]; then
        rm -fr eclipse $workspace emf-unpacked
        echo "Unpack $eclipse...";
        tar xzf $eclipse
        echo "Unpack ${ve}.zip into dropins"
        unzip -q ${ve}.zip -d eclipse/dropins/ve
        mv eclipse/dropins/ve/$ve eclipse/dropins/ve/eclipse

echo "Using vm=$vm and workspace=$workspace"; 
./eclipse/eclipse -vm $vm -data $workspace \
  -consolelog -clean -debug -console -noexit -vmargs \
  -Xms128M -Xmx256M -XX:PermSize=128M -XX:MaxPermSize=256M
popd >/dev/null
What I found was that the console listed all the missing dependencies for the VE feature, making it easy to find the features I needed to install to fully enable VE. I fired up the Help > Software Updates and installed the following from the Ganymede Update Site:

On restart, I had a working visual editor: