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Office suite UI and creativity log - Wed, 26/06/2013 - 10:51am

For some reason I've always hated the layout of Office Suite tools such as LibreOffice, OpenOffice and Microsoft Office (I seem to find the Ribbon interface nicer than what has gone before, although I can't put my finger on why.)

Debian Day #13 log - Wed, 24/04/2013 - 8:51pm

Wow, my first "Debian day" in 2013, but it's a bit of a misnomer because I didn't do any Debian work tonight.

awk log - Thu, 04/04/2013 - 4:15pm

Recently, I've been using awk in shell scripts more and more often.

When I saw Thomas' Blog I reeled a bit from of the make/shell quoted within. (Sorry Thomas! It's still a thought provoking blog post):

GSettings log - Tue, 02/04/2013 - 3:13pm

With GNOME 3, if you want to override a setting with a new site default, assuming your app has been updated to use the new gsettings API and doesn't still use the old gconf one, the best guide on what to do is still Ross Burton's blog post from two years ago, although you can find most of what you need to know buried deep in the GSettings C API specification, which is not the first place I would have looked (lesso

UKUUG and FLOSS UK log - Tue, 02/04/2013 - 1:21pm

Last year, I failed to write and mention that I'd joined the Council of the Free/Libre Open-Source Software UK group FLOSS UK, formerly known as the UK UNIX User's Group (UKUUG). As a council-member, I helped to organise the recent Large Installation Systems Administration conference that took place in my native Newcastle, UK.

list filtering log - Thu, 14/03/2013 - 8:07pm

The classic procmail recipe for (reasonably) safe automatic mailing list filtering is

* ^List-Id:[^<]+<\/[a-z0-9-.]+

This relies on mailing lists being configured such that the first part of the ID, up to the first dot, is a good identifier for the list. this is not always the case (*, I'm looking at you). Removing the dot from the expression above means you end up with unambiguous, albeit long, folder names (

Rpm, Yum, Puppet and GPG log - Thu, 14/02/2013 - 8:48pm

I wrote that I would double-check how secure the module selection and downloading is in Puppet.

Well, puppet module resolves, fetches and downloads unsigned tarballs from a HTTP source and unpacks them without any verification whatsoever.

Related: I've been looking at rpm/yum GPG behaviour. rpm supports checking the signature of RPMs as a separate operation from installing them. You can't ask it to not install a package if the signature is absent or not correct.

Managing Puppet modules with puppet log - Thu, 14/02/2013 - 11:51am

Over the last few days I've done quite a lot of work to try and get our puppet configuration up to modern best practises. The Puppet Labs folks strongly encourage you to make as much use of puppet modules as possible. A puppet module gathers together puppet manifests, facter facts and other bits and pieces into a reusable component that you could potentially share with others. Many modules (of very mixed quality) are available on the web, in particular at github and via Puppet Lab's own Forge.

squishyball log - Tue, 12/02/2013 - 9:27am

On Friday, I uploaded an initial package for squishyball to Debian experimental. It's now in the NEW queue.

squishyball is a command-line tool to help you compare two audio files. It supports basic A/B testing, A/B/X testing and X/X/Y ("triangle") tests to help rule out various selection, confirmation and ordering biases. I'm using it to figure out the optimal lossy audio codec and bitrate to encode my music collection with.

Steam for Debian log - Mon, 11/02/2013 - 10:29am

So you can download Steam for Linux now!. Or at least Ubuntu. The package needs a bit of tweaking to make it installable on Debian. There's a good writeup of some of the issues in this blog post. I run amd64 with multiarch enabled for i386. I chose to update my libc to the version in experimental rather than embed a newer version in a private steam directory.

Puppet and persistent network interface names log - Tue, 29/01/2013 - 7:37pm

On Linux, network interface device naming has been somewhat chaotic: depending on a number of factors, eth0 today might not be eth0 tomorrow. For me, this has never been a problem in practice. At work, our physical servers have a bank of on-mainboard network ports, all managed by the same driver and so are assigned names predictably. For our virtual machines, the same is true: 99% of the time they have one network interface, but when they have more than one, they are of the same type and so are assigned predictably.

Possible future coding project log - Tue, 22/01/2013 - 11:35am

Re-implement ikiwiki, or something like it, in go. See how much the language's features and philosophy colour the design. In particular I'm wondering how much the first-class treatment of concurrency might change how you structure things: one thread per page, or hot pages... you'd want to approach it with lots of micro-locks rather than one big lock to rule them all.

FLOS ≠ UNIX log - Mon, 21/01/2013 - 3:31pm

I just read this excellent blog post called "Linux Future" which defines a term "FLOS" to describe what the current direction of Linux development appears to be. Specifically, it addresses the divergence from what one might call the "UNIX" philosophy in new core technologies like systemd.

HD audio and more archiving log - Wed, 16/01/2013 - 5:50pm

Having obtained a respectable set of headphones last year, I started pondering about high definition music. Could I hear the difference between a track mixed at CD quality, 16 bit samples / 44.1kHz sample rate, and the same track mixed at a higher bit or sample rate? A number of artists have made HD audio releases available in a variety of formats, most of which are now obsolete (see: SACD, DVD-Audio) and/or hard to demux to something more modern. However some artists have made digital HD audio releases.

Wheezy problems log - Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:51pm

I've recently replaced my laptop's HDD as the S.M.A.R.T. data suggested a potential failure. I took the opportunity to try out beta4 of debian-installer and to install a pure wheezy system. Prior to this I've been running a mostly wheezy system with some bits from sid or experimental.

Backing up Twitter tweets and mentions log - Sat, 24/11/2012 - 4:50pm

I mentioned ifttt last year: it's a web automation tool that lets you glue different web services together. I used it to build a 6music bot this year which was very well received.

I also use it to back up my own twitter interactions. All of my tweets and mentions are emailed to me. I can then archive those mails with the rest of my mail.

Waterstones log - Tue, 20/11/2012 - 8:48pm

In May this year, in a desperate bid to bail water out of a sinking ship, HMV group sold off the Waterstones chain of bookstores.

Three Christmas Songs Which Aren't log - Mon, 19/11/2012 - 9:56am

For some reason each of these three songs feel "Christmassy" to me. They are definitely not Christmas songs. Can you figure out why?

Cocteau Twins - Lorelei

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Sailing On The Seven Seas

Ladytron - White Elephant

Debian Day #12 log - Tue, 06/11/2012 - 11:24pm

A few bits and pieces:

Microsoft Windows Surface RT log - Tue, 06/11/2012 - 8:52pm

Some quick first impressions of the Windows Surface RT

dsafilter log - Fri, 26/10/2012 - 9:12am

Seven years ago I wrote a quick ruby script called dsafilter which would verify the PGP signature on a Debian Security Advisory (DSA), determine which source package was mentioned in the mail, establish which binary packages are built from that source package and see whether any of them were installed on the current host.

Future plans included ways of checking package lists for multiple hosts.

Debian Days #10 and #11 log - Wed, 24/10/2012 - 7:51am

I've had a few weeks with very little time spent on Debian. I did set aside some time to try to find and fix an RC bug, to help the release. Steven C commented to let me know about the UDD Developer's Dashboard which is a great way to find RC bugs relevant to a team.

Dropbox and drive letters log - Sat, 20/10/2012 - 5:50pm

For long-winded reasons I'd rather not explain nor defend, my partner uses Dropbox for a large set of important files (~70G), which are stored on a removable drive. She is also a Windows user. Recently, by introducing a few new drives, I inadvertently changed the drive letter that is assigned to her portable device, which stopped Dropbox from working. Solving this properly is rather finicky so I thought I'd write down what I did.


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