Mar 09 2008

The Dark Side

Published by under HT/HTPC

As a change from the slick designs portrayed in the prior two posts, here’s a glimpse of something nearer to reality.

The other side

We’ll be building a Home Theater PC (HTPC) which will likely lead to a few future entries in this blog.

Choosing a mainboard for the HTPC was a laborious task. I was amazed at all the options out there. CPU’s, support chips, graphics chips/cards, etc. After reading for a couple of days, I made some arbitrary choices to narrow the field and then ended up choosing a ‘low end’ board with integrated graphics. It may not be sufficient in the end but will provide an initial platform on which to learn a few things. At a relatively low cost.

The board is a Gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2H. Intel CPU with NVidia support chips and graphics.

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Feb 29 2008

Myth HW ideas

Published by under HT/HTPC,Linux

Useful forum threads:

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Feb 29 2008

Furniture 1

Published by under HT/HTPC

J likes this. Maybe find something cheaper / similar? Ikea? 

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Feb 28 2008

HDMI Switcher

Published by under HT/HTPC

Slick, could use in ArborHT in conjunction with the iScan if we don’t find a more integrated way to switch/convert.

Noticed this switch in Best Buy or maybe Office Depot recently.

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Feb 06 2008

OS X 10.5 Dock – 2D or 3D

Published by under Mac

Just to document a simple change to turn off the 3D dock, here is a repeat of the CLI command to set the default dock style to 2D. This has appeared in several places including

$ defaults write no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock

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Jan 03 2008

OS X 10.5 Screen Sharing Tips

Published by under Mac

Macworld has an interesting short article on screen sharing between macs on a local net which includes some options that need to be enabled via terminal.

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Dec 13 2007

Managing known_hosts file

Published by under Linux,Mac,Network

Recent Debian installations of openSSH default to a hashed host name in the known_hosts file used by openSSH. This makes it more difficult to manual maintain and edit this file. A good start on the commands that can (should?) be used to manage know_hosts can be found on this blog entry.

Two useful commands:

search for an entry: $ ssh-keygen -H -F hostname
delete an entry: $ ssh-keygen -R hostname

An online version of the ssh-keygen man page provides more detail on the options it provides.

Since a one way hash is used, there isn’t any way to list all the entries in known_hosts with machine names “de-hashed”.

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Dec 10 2007

WordPress Upgrade to 2.3.1 & the k2 theme

Published by under web

Several problems have come up as a result of database table changes made in wordpress 2.3. Most if not all involve the categories table that was eliminated in favor of a new table. Some themes, including k2, and some plugins are no longer consistent with the database. It seems that the changes are mainly:

  • categories –> terms (a table)
  • cat_ID –> term_ID
  • cat_name –> name

I suppose this is documented better on a wordpress page somewhere, but I never found the description. Googling did turn up other leads.

On one of the sites that use k2, I found the problem in this file: …/wp-content/themes//page-archives.php

Commenting out the following two lines eliminated the error. A crude fix, but I haven’t noticed any bad effects yet.

// $numcats = $wpdb->get_var("SELECT COUNT(1) FROM $wpdb->categories");
// if (0 < $numcats) $numcats = number_format($numcats);

Another site that uses k2 has a different set of symptoms, but that was probably due to some files left over from a prior version of k2. Once I thorough clean out and upgrade with plugins off it was ok. The main trick for me was to switch to the default theme while doing the upgrade. When k2 was the active theme, the database upgrade step failed.

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Nov 18 2007

2nd Round – Upgrade to 10.5 (Leopard)

Published by under General

Items not handled by the install process:

  • Developer’s tools are not migrated. Tried copying to / from /Previous System. Some apps work and some don’t xCode doesn’t! Have to reinstall from a 1.1GB download (or off the install DVD)! Works fine after a re-install.
  • an OS X version of the gimp graphics manipulation program compiled to use X11 cratered on launch. Off to find a more current version? The one that cratered was over a year old (gimp-2.2 [940]). It says it is caching fonts and then dies.
    Downloaded another binary version (gimp-2.2 [1172]) that is supposed to work with Leopard and it cratered while loading fonts. The download was from sourceforge via a link from Apple’s download page. Time to read the log which says:

    11/18/07 3:48:22 PM [0x0-0x9e09e].org.gimp.Gimp[1158]
    Reason: Incompatible library version: libXft.2.dylib requires version 3.0.0 or later,
    but libfontconfig.1.dylib provides version 2.0.0

    hmmm. I hate this sort of chase the module problem. A waste of time. Macports has a version of gimp. Maybe I’ll try that instead.

  • And then there are the other Unix style applications that are left on “Previous System” and have to be copied over or re-installed. In addition to gimp, I need the Haskell compiler (GHC), and the GPG suite of tools.

On the other hand, Windows XP under VMWare runs fine though I did have to upgrade to VMWare Fusion V1.1.

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Nov 18 2007

Upgrade OS X to 10.5 (Leopard)

Published by under Mac

Some comments and observations on my upgrade to Leopard from 10.4.10. The initial install was straightforward. Took on the order of an hour but worked smoothly. The following notes have probably been covered in various reviews, but they were
new to me.

Of note:

  • Mail requires upgrading mails storage which I’m sure is not reversible.
  • The OS seems to have forgotten some certificates that I’d approved in 10.4.Most notably my own mail servers certificate. A nice feature, I think, is that the dialog that says it is untrusted includes the ability to add it to the trusteed list. I never noticed that in 10.4,
  • Mail is more of a PIM (if PIM is still a viable acronym: Personal Information Manager) now. It automatically imports ‘to do’ items from iCal and has a ‘notes’ capability. I think I’ll like the notes. Not sure about the ‘to do’ import. It seems that you can edit the body of a to do in mail. Have to go back to iCal. You can change due date, etc.
  • Mail’s new ‘Notes’ can be put into IMAP mail boxes. Not sure how that is handled and whether they are actually put on the IMAP server or just kept on the mac and displayed as if they were on the server. Curious. They can’t be put into a smart (rule based) mailbox
  • iCal’s ‘slide out’ panel that which shows details of appointments and to do items seems to have been eliminated in favor of a ‘get info’ pop up. You have to ctrl-click or use cmd-i to see the details of either. Not sure I like that as I’d often glance at details.
  • Spaces is the feature I most wanted as I’m used to using multiple desktops. In a lot of ways, it is not too slick (e.g. no names for spaces, just numbers), but one characteristic I do like is it doesn’t switch spaces if there is an open application window in the current space. I put browser windows in doesn’t jump to a home space for the browser.
  • Gvim, iTerm, VMware, Firefox, Address book all seemed to work as expected.


  • Mail provided the first glitch. Seems that gpgmail is not compatible with this version of mail. “Get a new one”. Is there a new one?
  • Quicksilver was unable to connect when I told it to check for updates? Pathfinder seems to connect and check for updates properly. Is quicksilver needed? I used it as a program launcher and spotlight seems much faster and may be able to handle the launch role.
  • Programs installed in /usr/local/…. were not transferred to the 10.5. They remain on the “Previous System” and have to be migrated by hand or reinstalled. Ugh.

So that’s the first pass.

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